Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Spine Stiffener

If you have a progressive Congresscritter, pound 'em now in the flush of victory. The "conservative Dems are the real winners" story is already infecting NPR. A friend fired off a feuilleton at Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-8) which is an exemplar of its kind.

Hon Chris Van Hollen
US House of Representives

Dear Congressman Van Hollen:

Time to start disciplining the Democratic center before they swamp all us progressives. For a start, this means guys like you sitting on the heads of guys like Rahm Emanuel and Steney Hoyer. Here's what the esteemed Jane Brasher at has to say about Rahm and Steney's rollover backstabbing:

"I ask you, considering the margins that we are looking at this morning in a whole lot of the races that the Democrats won yesterday, in both the House and the Senate, what was Rahm Emmanuel thinking saying this:

"'In private talks before the election, Emanuel and other top Democrats told their members they cannot allow the party's liberal wing to dominate the agenda next year. Democrats will hold 30 or 35 seats that went for Bush in the past, meaning that Democratic candidates such as Brad Ellsworth in rural Indiana are likely to face competitive races again in 2008. Still, their interests are likely to collide with those of veteran liberals such as Reps. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.) and John Conyers Jr., (Mich.), who will chair committees.

"'With that in mind, there is a chance the 110th Congress could begin on a bipartisan note. Democrats have vowed to move quickly to tighten ethics laws and require offsets for new spending — two plans many Republicans will probably support in light of yesterday's results. Democrats also plan to push next year to raise the minimum wage, increase spending for cargo inspection at ports and reduce rates on student loans, all issues likely to draw some GOP support.

"'Partisan standoffs are likely over the war and any Democratic efforts to repeal Bush's tax cuts for upper-income America. In both cases, Democratic divisions could complicate Pelosi's plans. Democrats largely avoided detailed positions on a new Iraq strategy, but votes over spending for the military and the Iraq operation will force them to take a position.'

"Let me get this straight, we have just taken back the House and, looking more likely as of this morning, the Senate, and Rahm's first priority is to shore up his power base and his ties to KStreet. Heckuva job, Rahm. (Oh, and 'other top Democratic members?' Hi, Steny. Sheesh these people are transparent, and the media is either too tired or too dense to call them on this crap. Pathetic.)

"Here's a thought: try governing. Try saying thank you to your base who delivered not just wins for several of your hand-picked candidates, but wins for a helluva lot of folks that you barely acknowledged existed until the last couple of weeks where it became undeniable that they had a chance of winning. Leadership is not grabbing power with both hands. Real leaders acknowledge that it takes the work of a whole lot of folks — progressives, moderates, conservatives — all working together, but adhering to their own principles and to the will of their constituents. And real leaders say 'thank you' instead of 'screw you, we're doing it my way.'

"So Rahm, here's a message from your constituents who just worked their tushes off to give their party a victory: don't be a back-stabbing schmuck. Nancy Pelosi deserves more loyalty and less personal power grabbing from you and your selfish posse. Bi-partisanship is fantastic when it is working properly, with everyone involved acting in good faith. I don't know about you guys, but I think the Republican party needs to prove that it has some good faith before we start caving in to their demands. And I am fairly certain that even Rahm understands that. Which makes me wonder — what's really the motivation behind his backdoor machinations and quote planting in the WaPo this morning.

"And what is with reporters who allow idiocy like Emmanuel saying that liberal opinions ought to be discarded, and that only the centrists should have a say, and then characterizing that somehow as 'inclusive.' Um…hello…exclusion is decidedly not inclusive. And I'm here to tell you right now that Henry Waxman had better be sitting in that committee chairman's seat overseeing the rampant war profiteering oversight, or there is going to be a world of merde headed directly at a certain ballet-dancer-turned-self-promoter's head. Some principles should not be sacrificed — and allowing big companies to steal from the federal government because you are hoping they will donate to your campaign coffers is not — I repeat NOT — acceptable. Period. So cross that off the list if it's there, it is non-negotiable.

"If you think for a moment that those of us who just worked our tushes off for a win are simply going to roll over and say thank you when you spit on us, you can think again. And, while we're at it, Nancy Pelosi deserves better than a sneaky planted quote knife in her back — and Rahm owes her an apology."

Pardon the lengthy quote, but I really feel strongly that now is the time for progressive Democrats in Congress (of whom I consider you a leader) to make sure we use our majority in favor of legislation useful to vast public majority that constitutes the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.

Incidentally, I am not arguing for impeachment hearings, even though I believe a treason case is easily assembled against Bush/Cheney. (Just because they accepted no foreign gold for trashing the Constitution doesn't mean they didn't trash the Constitution.)

No, what I want is continent-wide single-payer health care divorced from employment status. I want electoral reform that ranges from abolition of the Electoral College to universal postcard voting to the criminalization of lobby spending to instantaneous internet reporting of contributors. I want DC, Northern California, Northern Virginia and Upper Michigan Peninsula Statehood. I want abolition of all federal "trust funds" from Social Security to transportation and inclusion of them in general revenues. I want higher income taxes and lower payroll taxes. Of course I want to increase the minimum wage and repeal the rich-oriented tax cuts of the Bush and Reagan years. And I want significant decreases in military spending, especially on new weaponry, and large increases in education, health and childcare spending. On Iraq, follow Murtha and pull back over the horizon while the civil war sorts itself out. On Israel, knock their heads together until they make peace along the 1967 borders. On Iran and N. Korea, negotiate, don't bloviate. And meantime have two years' worth of massive and continuous investigative hearings into Republican campaign financing, crony capitalist contracts in Iraq and post-Katrina, voter suppression, electronic voter fraud, pay-for-play legislation, the Marianas angle of the Abramoff-DeLay scandal, the ignoring of pre-9/11 intelligence, and the outright lying about WMD in Iraq. That's about the size of it.

So good luck. As Frank Robinson used to say when he managed the O's, "These are exciting times!" Just let's not let the alleged centrists drive the Democratic party. They can come along for the ride, as they should, but not drive.

Faithfully yours,
Friend o' th' Slangwhanger-in-Chief


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