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 Day 19

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The Wheels are Coming Off the Machine

Democratic Disconnect

by DAVE LINDORFF

The wheels are coming off the Democratic machine, with angry voters starting to lose patience with the Party’s chronic inability to act decisively on any of the key issues of public concern.

In a Reuters dispatch on June 18, Democratic leaders in Congress concede that voters are angry with them for not doing enough to end the Iraq War. They might have added that voters are also angry at them for not impeaching the president or even for moving on Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney (H Res. 333).

"I understand their disappointment. We raised the bar too high," bleats Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

No Harry. You didn’t raise the bar too high. You ducked under the bar, when it came time to act to defund the war.

Last month, instead of cutting off funding for Bush’s war in Iraq, Congress passed a measure providing him with over $100 billion to fund it, attaching no strings to the measure-not even any deadlines for starting to withdraw troops. This after running a 2006 campaign on ending the war.

No wonder Democrats and the independents and, yes, even Republicans who voted Democrats into control of Congress last November are furious.

"We can only do so much," whines House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

No, Nancy. The problem is that you have done so little. Next to nothing really. Of the vaunted list of progressive measures you came into office as Speaker promising to push, only one-the minimum wage bill-passed, and you managed that only by making it "blood money"-that is, by tying it to the Iraq War funding bill so that the president wouldn’t veto it. That was a sick deal-making the same poor Americans who disproportionately carry the burden of fighting an insane, criminal and brutal war in Iraq also earn their raise by funding that war with their hard-earned tax dollars. And besides, it’s a pathetic measure anyway, offering workers only a minor raise for the first year, and ultimately, after a year and a half, bringing them to a wage–$7.80 per hour-that most workers in the country already receive, or will be receiving by July, thanks to state laws.

Thanks a lot!

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi, who cannot stand up to a criminal president, has continued to stand in the way of any effort by her own party colleagues to call the administration to account for the crimes it has committed against the nation and the Constitution. Sure, Congress is holding hearings, but the president and vice president are, quite predictably, stonewalling those hearings, refusing to allow key aids to testify, refusing to provide documents, and threatening to refuse subpoenas.

What Americans want is impeachment hearings on both men.

Let’s at least start with Kucinich’s Cheney impeachment bill. It has seven co-sponsors. That should be plenty to indicate that it’s a serious measure. So let’s push it forward and start hearings on it.

Meanwhile, if Pelosi wants Americans to start thinking better of her party, she should lift the shackles from her minions and let Democratic House members freely file bills of impeachment against President Bush. She should let John Conyers (D-MI), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, start holding hearings on impeachment.

Too divisive?

Listen, Nancy and Harry, we Americans want a little divisiveness. Americans thrive on political conflict.

Besides, we’re sick of this war, and of the men who tricked us into it. We’re sick of seeing our cherished rights trashed. We’re sick of being told that we in this country are a bunch of whimpering wusses ready to surrender our rights in the fear that some third world bomb-thrower might attack the local Wendy’s.

Americans expected, and still want, the Democrats in Congress to stand up to the White House, not to cave in to it, or to try and "work with" it.

Pelosi and Reid, and the idiots at the party’s helm, think that by continuing to do nothing, all the while whining about their own impotence, they stand to gain mightily in November 2008.

They’re in for a big surprise.

If they continue the way they’re going, they’ll lose not only the independents and Republicans who voted for Democratic candidates in 2006, they’ll lose the Democrats too.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is "The Case for Impeachment",
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com