Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Democrat Blames Weak Economy on Iraq War"

Washington D.C.
--You think? The majority of Democratic and Republican incumbents would know, they've rubber-stamped every request for additional-funding for the war, and will continue to do so even after this president is gone after January 21st, 2009.

Why? Because they share the same overarching objectives and values--if you want to call them that--as this criminal administration. That makes most of them co-conspirators, or aiders-and-abettors if you wish, in the maintenance of a dying Empire.

Will Yarmuth's comments amount to anything substantial? Of course not, that's not what this is about. Creating appearances are everything. But the Democrats and the monied lobbies they serve need an edge in the elections, even if it isn't a real one, so they pushed Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky in front of the microphone for the weekly address from the DNC. The last thing mainstream Democratic incumbents want is a complete pullout from the Middle East, not by any stretch. They're hawks and believers in the Imperial Presidency.

It's all rhetoric during an election year, and the Democrats are trying their best to paper over the fact that they've enabled the White House to start an illegal war--and that's not counting rendition and torture practices by the CIA and private contractors. Unsurprisingly, the American public has already figured this out, as is the usual case. We're almost always ahead of them, even without the access to classified information they have.

The politicians--consciously avoiding the truth--act "amazed" and "surprised," yet they were the first to know. They all have security clearances up on Capitol Hill, and the public doesn't. Yet, "surprisingly," they contend that they were "lied to." This is in-fact, a lie. The GOP are hardly any better, and in fact, are significantly worse. Maybe that's because they're not intelligent enough not to get caught.
In February, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that pulling out of Iraq was the most named remedy for fixing U.S. economic problems.

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said a withdrawal would help the country's economic problems "a great deal" and 20 percent more said it would help somewhat. Some 43 percent said increasing government spending on health care, education and housing programs would help a great deal; 36 percent named cutting taxes. ("Democrat Blames Weak Economy on Iraq War," AP, 04.12.2008)

Why then did the public know even before the illegal invasion of Iraq--in numbers the same as those opposed to a continued occupation now, and since well before 2006--that it was the wrong fight and that it was patently obvious the Bush administration and the media were pushing us into a protracted war based on very obvious lies and manipulations of intelligence? Because it was the obvious truth of the matter.

We all knew there were never going to be any weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, it was a foregone conclusion that began in the halls of the intelligence community. But the "push" was on. Americans haven't forgotten how hard the mainstream media outlets pushed. They still are.

The media's cheerleaders weren't alone in creating the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan: there were many cheerleaders in Congress who stepped-up for the Bush administration during late-2002 when they authorized the use of force against Iraq. They have been stepping-up ever since, and with rare exception. But Yarmuth has been fairly outspoken in his criticisms of supporters and enablers of the conflict in the Middle East, particularly of Senator John McCain and his own voting record.

So has Obama, but it doesn't have the conviction of someone like a Russell Feingold, a Dennis Kucinich, or even a Patrick Leahy. No, there are too many supporters of the conflict in the Middle East still in office, and it's time to remove every single one of them through the polls. The McCains and Liebermans in Congress aren't alone, and the support for a continued occupation in Iraq is still substantial, rhetoric and political theater aside.

Why pick Yarmuth for the radio address? Because he's not as tainted as say, a Hillary Clinton, or a John Kerry, or the rest of the Democratic incumbents who keep approving funding for the war in the House and the Senate, over-and-over again. He's a freshman representative from Kentucky who hasn't been swallowed-up by the corruption in D.C. yet, or at least it appears so. Perhaps Yarmuth is that rare breed of credible humanity in Washington, a prime opportunity for change. A look back to the dark ages of the funding debate (May of 2007) is in order, and one from the conservative-perspective offers some unique glimpses into the real dynamics at play:

Among those who faced close races in 2006 and figure to in 2008, a slight majority voted to continue funding the war. Most of those voting to cut off funding came from the Northeast. But the group also included two Iowa freshmen--Reps. David Loebsack and Bruce Braley--and Kentucky’s John Yarmuth. Democrats overall voted 140-86 to cut off funding.

Republicans have sought to tar those who vote to cut off funding as unsupportive of the troops, and the votes could provide campaign fodder in the many competitive districts represented by the freshman Democrats. The GOP’s efforts to regain the majority in the House have centered on the freshmen.

In a shift, many Democrats with 2008 contests on deck, including presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Barack Obama (Ill.), showed a willingness to take that risk or saw greater rewards in opposing the war.
("Iraq war vote again splits freshmen Dems in House," The Hill, 05.30.2007)
At that time, there were also significant defections from the GOP's ranks for continued war funding. The common denominator hasn't been voting against an illegal war pushed by a renegade White House, but whether they're all going to get re-elected on the Hill. That's how Janus-faced enablers behave, sadly. Yarmuth came in on the 2006 midterm wave, a sweeping-out of many of the primary-enablers. Most of them were compromised GOP incumbents (is there any other kind these days?).

But too many of these creatures of Empire still reside within the Democratic Party. The longer the war lasts, the worse the economic woes, and the more the likelihood of yet another historic sweep. Somehow, they think they can beat history this time, just as they did with Vietnam. A catastrophe doesn't qualify as a "victory," but a descent into the abyss, an enfeebled nihilist-thrust.

The DNC's leadership weren't going to let someone like Senator Russ Feingold do this radio address on the connection between the war and the economy since the party leadership generally agrees with the strategic-aims in the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the policies enacted by the White House on extralegal rendition and torture. Unless someone gets caught or there's a pesky whistle-blower that ruins the fun, they pretend the elephant isn't in the room and stonewall the public. Amazingly, they're still stonewalling.

There are more smoking guns for a successful impeachment than in any other American presidency. Democratic leaders want to do what they did with Nixon--remove the problem, but keep the rotten-barrel. This also requires making sure that nobody draws the proper conclusions from the excesses. Enter the press, professional academics, and the rest of the cultural managers.

But then, there are presidents like George W. Bush: sometimes the rules of the game are blown open and the public finds-out what they've been up to in Washington all along. Then, and only then, does Congress play so dumb and "shocked." We get some limp-wristed hearings, and no substantial reforms. Congress knows that violations of international law are going on all the time, and with rare exception are completely ignorant of them.

The public put two-and-two together long ago that this war is fueling our economic downturn, and that the politicians are merely insulting our intelligence once again. But pushing Yarmuth out-front is an acknowledgment that the pressure from the public is having an effect, and that many incumbents on Capitol Hill are very worried indeed about their future prospects in office. Some are leaving because of impending scandals, but much of this is connected. Washington's a big system of nepotism, cronyism, and political spoils. But it all flows from the business world. Welcome to the return of the 19th century.

Yarmuth doesn't appear to be so dumb or as easily influenced as his peers in Congress. No matter, it's hard to say if there's even going to be time to address the Protect America Act revisions with all the pressing matters of a losing war, a crashing economy, and elections coming in November. But let's look back to that AP-Ipsos poll in February of this year again:

Who deserves most of the blame for the economy's troubles?

More than half--56 percent--pointed the finger at mortgage lenders. Forty-four percent said Bush deserves a lot of the blame. After that come Congress, Wall Street, consumers themselves and in last place the Federal Reserve. The Fed has the public's confidence that it will be able to right the economy.

More than half--55 percent--said they have a great deal or some confidence in Fed to turn things around. Forty-one percent said that about Congress, only 28 percent about Bush.

In fact, economic problems have contributed to pulling the president's approval ratings to all-time lows. Only 29 percent approve of his handling of the economy, the lowest mark yet in this polling. Bush's overall job-approval rating slid to 30 percent, also a record low. ("AP Poll: to Fix Economy, Get Out of Iraq," AP, 02.08.2008)

Overall, Yarmuth's one of the few who was voted in the 2006 midterm who has actually delivered on his promises to stand up to the Bush administration, and he has a voting record on progressive spending that's impressive. Representatives like Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) haven't cut it, and they must go. Will the independent-streak of some of these particular freshmen representatives last?

Will Yarmuth and the others who have voted for the public interest eventually succumb to the lobbyists and the pressure from within his own party? Probably. It's up to them and the voters whether they stay in office. This curious historical moment has to be a bad time for bad politicians, and that's always a good thing. If Americans think there's ever a time when they can just sit back and enjoy the battles won, they're mistaken. It's never over, a lesson to remember.

"Iraq war vote again splits freshmen Dems in House," The Hill, 05.30.2007:

"Democrat Blames Weak Economy on Iraq War," AP, 04.12.2008: