Sunday, October 29, 2006

More music

Digby excerpts a Michael Crowley article from TNR:
Subpoena Envy
by Michael Crowley

As the Lord High Executioner said in The Mikado, 'I have a little list.'" So says John Dingell, the 26-term Michigan House Democrat who spent 14 years as a mighty committee baron before the 1995 Republican Revolution booted him into the powerless minority. At last poised to reclaim his House Energy and Commerce Committee gavel, the 80-year-old Dingell now sounds like a man who can't wait for 2007. Though he knows a House Democratic majority won't pass much legislation, especially given George W. Bush's veto pen, his chairmanship means he can subject the Bush administration to high-profile committee hearings--lots and lots of them.

"Privacy," he begins. "Social Security-number protection. Outsourcing protection. Unfair trade practices. Currency manipulation. Air quality. We'll look at the implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. We'll take a look at climate change. We'll take a look at [the Department of Energy's] nuclear waste program, where literally billions of dollars are being dissipated. We'll look at port security and nuclear smuggling, where there's literally nothing being done. We'll look at the Superfund program. We'll take a look at EPA enforcement." He pauses for a breath--but he's just getting started: "On health, we'll take a look at Medicaid and waivers. The Food and Drug Administration. Generic drug approval. Medical safety. We'll also take a look at food supplements, where people are being killed. We will look at Medicare Part D [prescription drugs]." Is that all? "Telecom. We'll look at FCC actions. ... Media ownership. Adequate spectrum for police, fire, public safety, and addressing the problems of terrorism. ... We will look also at the overall question of Katrina recovery efforts."

As Democrats have gained in the polls, Republicans are predicting that a Democratic majority will mean a frenzy of political witch hunts directed at them by newly installed chairmen like Dingell. "You can expect two years of all-out investigations and attacks and anything they can bring to bear," Newt Gingrich warned on Fox News last March. Clearly aiming to calm the hysteria, George H.W. Bush recently warned it would be a "ghastly thing" for the United States if "wild Democrats" were put in charge of congressional committees. A Washington Times article fretted that "key administration officials will be so busy preparing for testimony that they will not be able to do their jobs."

But the curious thing about Dingell's little list is that it targets policies--not people. While some Democrats may dream of hauling Karl Rove to the Hill to discuss Plamegate or forcing Dan Bartlett to testify about Dick Cheney's hunting accident, Dingell is one of a number of future Democratic chairs who plan to focus on substance, not sideshows. And, as strange as it sounds, this may not come as a relief to Republicans. The GOP would love nothing more than for Democrats to go off on half-cocked, mean-spirited inquisitions that generate sympathy for the hapless Bushies. Alas, the GOP's conduct during the Clinton years has provided Democrats with a near-perfect what-not-to-do manual.

Subpoena power. It can mean that the the whole of the next two years will be one long nightmarish news cycle for the Republicans. In an environment in which Congress has been AWOL, Democrats can score political points simply by doing their damned jobs with even a picogram of competence.

Yet the Republican ostrich is holding form to the bitter end. The Foley ethics report? After the election. James Baker's Iraq Study Group report? After the election. And then of course there is the report that Pat Roberts' Senate Intel Committee was going to deliver after the 2004 election...

With a little luck, lots of things are going to change after the election. And yes, TA, I think a hog-tied Bush adminstration is a big improvement. It isn't paradise, but it sure as hell is an improvement.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course I will be the last to complain if the level of shit in the cesspool drops low enough that I can resume taking breaths through my mouth instead of only through my nose. And not to gainsay that a hogtied Bush isn't an interesting image, but my measure of people is how they behave when there IS NO CHANCE OF WINNING. That is, when they do not stand to gain and therefore can't be called on moral grounds, how do they behave then? Those Democrats gotta lotta 'splaining to do, Lucy. It wudda cost nuttin to show backbone before the scent was in the wind. Now it's too late. We'll have to keep wondering why they are doing what they are doing at this point. The one thing the Repugs never did was back down. Doesn't matter that they shoulda, it's why their base is loyal. It can almost LOOK like principle at times… if there was anything behind it but stubbornness.

Please name for me the top 5 principled stands that the Democrats as-a-body took during the last 2 years. The last 4 years? Five years ago? Any time since the bushwhacker has been in office? Please, just one. Get my drift?

So who do you trust when they're all rotten? Well at least the ones still alive. The only Senator to vote against the war is dead. A routine training... no, no, wait... um pilot error? No, no, wait, oh well phttt! Oh yeah, must have been some of dem terrah guys.
Yes, it could be worse, but not much. Or, maybe the Dems will show take up *new* ways? Cowboy competition -- rodeo anyone? Remember, soon THEY will have to "keep us safe" from the ...[fill in your favorite thing to be afraid of here] and prove they are not gutless pansies. Let's see, who controlled congress during the Vietnam war? Oh, yeah.


6:38 PM  
Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

That's the sort of thing, if I were Dingell, I might have waited until November 8th to announce.

I expect a big lat money push for the Republicans from Teclo, Pharma, Energy, etc.

10:57 PM  
Blogger bluememe said...

Principled stands during the reign of error? None come to mind, at least until the last few months. Granted. Big deal.

In case anyone is confused, I am not a hard-core partisan Democrat. I think the two-party system is horribly flawed, as are both parties. And if the Dems don't do a significant percentage of the things they've been talking about and I have been posting about, I (along with a large contingent of more powerful bloggers) will tear them new ones. My guarded enthusiasm is about stopping the madness, and the beleif that they will suck at least slightly less.

Do you think they are not the lesser of evils?

6:55 PM  
Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

I think in some ways, the Dems are just as bad, but not as good at it.

I also think that the core principles of the Democratic party are a better choice than the core principles of the Republican party. For example, I believe more in helping each other than looking out for yourself. As diluted as the core principles get in a complex system, the end result is better if you start at a better place.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been thinking some more about the "path of least resistance" issue (see Blue Meme's "That's why" 10/23/06 post for my previous thoughts) and about the way that idea arose/got corrupted. It seems applicable to the lesser evil issue, but we'll get back to that further along.

The concept of original sin is a doozy. It has been used to whip human beings since forever and it works because of the specific way a human mind fails to work correctly when confronted with nasty choices. Anyway, the path of least resistance can only be a "bad" thing if you really believe in original sin, i.e. left to our own devices, without a guiding hand, no government or church to keep us on the straight and narrow, the path of least resistance means that WE WILL ALL COMMIT ENDLESS MURDER, RAPE, MAYHEM, TORTURE, BABY SACRIFICE, etc. When put that way it should sound silly, because it is. There is another explanation why humans behave that way.

Humans aren't automatically good or bad. Indeed, the only thing humans are automatically is curious, until someone punishes them severely for exploring. So, if we aren't automatically bad, then we are not more likely to do bad things "because they are easier", because they are NOT easier. Most bad things are done as a second, third or fourth choice, when your natural instincts to explore, grow and mature are blunted by other people who "just want to help you see things clearly." Get a person angry enough by stopping them from following their own, intrinsic, natural path of exploration, growth and thought, and you will indeed see them doing harmful things (including to themselves such as smoking), but not because they are easier. Eliminate the desirable avenues of human pursuit (by insisting "sex is dirty", etc.) and what types of actions are left?

Now follow me closely here because it may seem like I am making an unrelated jump. A government (any government) SHOULD be a LAST RESORT, when no other means of dealing with daily life issues will work. (And, I'm not a Libertarian, shudder) In our natural state as individuals, we explore because we are curious and with the knowledge of the world thus acquired we solve problems, because that IS THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE. The government (any government) NEVER knows better then we, the proletariat, because it can only be composed of US, and ALL governments (to date) are definitely not a synergy thing where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Consensus really means that lots of people lose (even if only a little), while ostensibly the group gains something, but we all know its just a few guys who get the goodies. It can be argued that there is really a net loss, but that's a whole other subject.

When you really need a hundred guys pulling on one rope in one direction for a goal that brings some advantage to them all, first you get a hundred volunteers who have each made the calculation independently that it IS to their advantage to pull on the rope. Then you might "elect" a guy to say "Pull!, Pull!, Pull!", etc. That does not make him the leader. It just makes him the guy saying "Pull!" Now if he wants to tell his friends that it means more than that, there is probably no harm in it. But saying it doesn't make it so. And we don't need him for anything else except his loud voice so not many will pay attention if he isn't saying "Pull!" If all of this doesn't sound anything like the government you've got now, guess what?

Now back to the question du jour. So, are the Dems really the lesser evil? Probably, but how can it make a serious difference when they have the same attitudes as the other "leaders"? To wit, "I not only want you to say 'Sir', I want you to convince me that you mean it!" Who the hell says we should pick from among these idiots who want unearned respect and power and privilege.

There is one not-so-secret weapon that can be used to effectively nullify all of these jackasses and elephants. It is the word "No." Had the Democrats said that in regard to invading Iraq, and stuck by it, we wouldn't be there. Simple. It is difficult to stick to your guns when "they" start threatening your livelihood, your family, your freedom and even your life in order to get "their" way, but it is absolutely effective. If you can't imagine defending everyone's right to say "No", by putting your life on the line, then how do you explain people dying to defend some peoples' right to say "Mine!"? They (the guys in power) can't kill everyone who says "No" because who would be left to do the work? Certainly, not the guys in power. "No" is amazingly effective, because people are used to getting browbeaten and expect that you are too, and that therefore you will cave quickly and go along "for the good of the group". It doesn't have to be that way. Just say "No!"

Let's change the meaning of some common phrases ourselves, instead of letting the media masters have all the fun. I submit that "Just say no" has a real meaning which should publicized. When it is understood by enough people, saying "No" will bring control back to the individual level and we can try again to live together. Until then, the news will always be the same, no matter whose picture is shown, whose group is named, whose interests are touted as more important than yours.


5:51 AM  

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