Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Political Achievements of the Day

Glenn Greenwald points out that the Democrats in the Congress have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, with their usual lack of elan:

And this passage from the CNN article -- in which Democrats try to explain that they didn't completely capitulate in every single way possible -- is one of the most pity-inducing of the year, and there is a very healthy competition for that distinction:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democratic lawmakers and staffers privately say they're closing in on a broad budget deal that would give President Bush as much as $70 billion in new war funding. The deal would lack a key provision Democrats had attached to previous funding bills calling for most U.S. troops to come home from Iraq by the end of 2008, which would be a significant legislative victory for Bush.

Still, Democrats are trying to sell $70 billion in new war funding as a partial victory for them. They point out that while the final numbers are still in flux during intense private negotiations, Bush is likely to get far less money than he originally requested.

"What is for sure is he will not get all $200 billion," said one senior Democratic lawmaker. "Whatever number it is, it is much less than what the president asked for. For the first time in this war, he has received less than his request."

But senior administration officials privately say they expect to be able to get at least of the rest of the president's $200 billion request passed through Congress next year.

For Congressional Democrats, the "victory" they are touting is that they are only giving Bush $70 billion for the war now, and they won't give him the other $130 billion he is demanding until they return in a few weeks. They really showed him.

Watching all this makes my head go dizzy. Yes, I know that the Democrats don't have the votes to do all the things that should be done, but where is their backbone?

Where is their determination to rein George Bush in? We must not forget that the desire for someone to put some brakes on that recklessly careening train that is the Bush administration was the real reason why the Congress finally got a Democratic majority. But we are still in that train, heading for a bridge that has collapsed, and all the major Democratic politicians can do is to pat each others on the back for not immediately sucking the toes of this administration.

And how does the Democratic Party feel about its base: those dirty fucking hippies (as Atrios named them) who put time, effort, money and time into getting the Democrats elected? The rumor is that the Democrats ignore the base because it has nowhere else to go. Its votes are in the bag, and now is the time to court the fundamentalist Evangelicals for their votes instead. As if most of the fundamentalist Evangelicals would ever relinquish the Republican Party where they can run the family division to their hearts' content.

In other news today, the Bush administration is refusing to cut back greenhouse gases, and nobody can make it play along:

An international impasse deepened here Thursday over U.S. refusal to accept specific targets in a "road map" toward reaching a worldwide climate agreement by 2009, as European leaders threatened to boycott the parallel process that President Bush launched with great fanfare a month and a half ago.

Throughout a week of negotiations on the island of Bali, Bush administration officials have steadily resisted a United Nations proposal calling on industrialized countries to accept a goal of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020. In retaliation, several European officials said they may not attend the next installment of the White House-sponsored "major economies meeting" on global warming, which is set to resume next month in Honolulu.

So it goes. Like little children bickering while the earth is slowly preparing to throw the human lice infestation off its skin.

Then there is this example of how much the Congress gets done:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to hold a present and a former aide to President Bush in contempt of Congress, but no one expects them to be dragged before the lawmakers anytime soon.

By 12 to 7, the committee voted citations against Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Karl Rove, the president's former chief political adviser, for refusing to comply with subpoenas in a Congressional inquiry into the firings of nine federal prosecutors.

The committee vote sends the issue to the full Senate. But it is by no means clear that the chamber, not noted for speedy action, will vote on the charges soon. Mr. Bolten already faces contempt charges in the House, as does Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, over the prosecutors' firings.

"I vote for the contempt citations knowing that it's highly likely to be a meaningless act," said Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the judiciary panel's ranking Republican. Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa was the other Republican who joined the panel's 10 Democrats in voting for contempt charges.

Depressing, is it not? I should note that the main reason for the Democrats' apparent impotency is naturally the Republican resistance in the Congress. The Democrats don't have the kinds of votes the new rules now seem to require. Somehow a simple majority no longer works for anything, because the Republicans are gaming the system to keep the Democrats from getting anything much done.

But it didn't stop the passing of that Representative Steve King bill about praising Christians all over the world. It passed 372 to 9 in the House. So it goes.