How the Democrats Blew It in Only Eight Months

Led by Democrats since the start of this year, the US Congress now has a “confidence” rating of 14 per cent, the lowest since Gallup started asking the question in 1973 and five points lower than the Republicans scored last year.

The voters put the Democrats in to end the war and it’s escalating. The Democrats voted money for the surge. They voted for the next $459.6 billion military budget. Their latest achievement is to provide enough votes in support of Bush to legalize warrantless wire tapping for “foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States.” Enough Democrats joined Republicans to make this a 227-183 victory for Bush.

The Democrats control the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi could have stopped the bill in its tracks if she’d really wanted to. But she didn’t. The Democrats’ game is to go along with the White House agenda while stirring up dust storms to blind the base about to their failure to bring the troops home or restore constitutional government.

The row over the U.S. attorneys and the conduct of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has always been something of a typhoon in a teaspoon. The Democrats love it since they imagine it portrays them to the public as resolute guardians of the impartial administration of justice, a concept whose credibility most Americans sensibly deride. The Democrats now plan to track Gonzales’s firing of the US attorneys back to that comic opera villain of the Bush era, Karl Rove, another great provoker of dust storms.

The one Democrat acting on principle in the Gonzales affair has been Senator Russ Feingold. He at least tried to dig into the visit of chief White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, as he then was, to the bedside of Attorney General John Ashcroft, to get him to sign off on the illegal wiretaps. And how did the Democrat-controlled Congress deal with Feingold’s efforts to nail Gonzales for his efforts to undermine the constitution and for his prevarications under oath? It promptly legalized the eavesdropping.

Just as the Democrats work tirelessly to demonstrate to the voters that it makes zero difference which party controls Congress, the political establishment forces all candidates for the presidential nominations next year to sever any compromising ties to sanity and common sense.

Has the left the political capacity to influence the conduct of the Democrats? In terms of substantive achievement the answer thus far has been No. People didn’t like it when I write that the antiwar movement was at a low ebb. They invoke the polls showing 70 percent of Americans want the troops to come home. This is presumptuous, like a barking dog claiming it made the moon go down. It didn’t take an antiwar movement to make the people antiwar. People looked at the casualty figures and the newspaper headlines and drew the obvious conclusion the war is a bust. Their attention is already shifting to the economic crisis: housing meltdown, credit crisis, threats from the Chinese to destroy the dollar. What war?

The left is as easily distracted, currently by the phantasm of impeachment. Why all this clamor to launch a proceeding surely destined to fail, aimed at a duo who will be out of the White House in sixteen months anyway? Pursue them for war crimes after they’ve stepped down.

Mount an international campaign of the sort that has Henry Kissinger worrying at airports that there might be a lawyer with a writ standing next to the man with the limo sign. Right now the impeachment campaign is a distraction from the war and the paramount importance of ending it.

For sure, there are actions around the country: Quakers and Unitarians picketing outside shopping centers, campus vigils, resolutions by city councils and so forth. It’s all pretty quiet, in a conflict that has now – as my brother Patrick recently pointed out – gone on longer than the First World War. At the liberal blogger convention, Yearly Kos, held across the first weekend in August, the organizers nixed any serious strategy session on the war in Iraq. John Stauber of PR Watch had to force an impromptu (and very successful) session with leaders of the Iraq Veterans Against the War.

A war people hate, Gitmo, Bush’s police -state executive orders of July 17 — the Democrats have signed the White House dance card on all of them, and guess what, their poll numbers are gong down. Bush’s, on the other hand, are going up by five points in Gullup from early July. People are beginning to think the surge is working, courtesy of the New York Times. So, are we better or worse off since the Democrats won back Congress?

A Message from China

Bush can smile as the air whistles out of the Democrats’ boomlet, but the respite in his troubles is fleeting. Dire economic news is shouldering Iraq out of the headlines.

There’s a housing market meltdown consequent upon the puncturing of the subprime mortgage bubble. Auto sales have collapsed, the Chinese have threatened to destroy the dollar and the world’s credit system teeters.

On Wednesday, August 8, spokesmen for the Chinese government pointed out that China’s large holding of US dollars and Treasury bonds “contributes a great deal to maintaining the position of the dollar as a reserve currency.” But, the spokesmen continued, if the US proceeds with sanctions designed to cause the Chinese currency to appreciate, “the Chinese central bank will be forced to sell dollars, which might lead to a mass depreciation of the dollar.”

As Paul Craig Roberts, number two in the US Treasury in the Reagan years, pointed out on this site, only hours after the Chinese announcement, “In an instant, China has made it clear that US interest rates depend on China, not on the Federal Reserve.” As Roberts also points out, If China ceased to buy US Treasuries, “Bush’s wars would end. With Bush’s budget in deficit and with no room in the US consumer’s budget for a tax increase, Bush’s wars can only be financed by foreigners.”

So one little finger wag from the People’s Republic may carry the day, where the Democrats have so signally failed.

Conspiracism Never Sleeps

In the second part of his excellent series on the death of Pat Tillman – concluded here this weekend – Stan Goff took a devastating whack at the conspiracists now claiming that Tillman was the victim of a carefully planned conspiracy.

For an example of the conspiracist mindset in action, I offer this communiqué to his readers by a former army officer who worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. It was monitored on the web by our man in Henderson, Nevada, John Farley.

—– Original Message —–
From: Al Cuppett
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 4:00 PM
Subject: Near real-time “after action” assessment of the 1-35 MS River bridge “collapse” in MN

FROM: Al Cuppett, US Army and Action Officer, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Retired.

Subject: Near real-time “after action” assessment of the Interstate 35 Mississippi River bridge “collapse” in Minneapolis”In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word/matter be established.” KJV Bible (many times)This is a “quick and dirty” as we used to say in the Pentagon, albeit short, analysis of what actually happened. A detailed letter will follow.

First of all, first reports (at (9 PM EDT) from Minneapolis stated that Homeland Security (DHS) came out on TV/radio within 15 minutes of the 6:05 PM CDT event, saying it “was not terrorist related”. Huh??? The US DHS/FEMA people we on their way home, or eating supper, when this happened; yet they knew it was “not a terrorist attack” within 15 minutes??

(1) The first witness, a female, said she “heard explosions and saw puffs of smoke”. [These are known as “squibs” in demolitions terminology.] She would have heard ‘bip bip bip bip.. in a rapid staccato — or ‘boom boom boom boom’, and saw the corresponding “squibs”

(2) This morning at 7:30 AM EDT, and I personally heard Matt Lauer say, “Witnesses said they hear a ‘jackhammer’ just before the bridge collapsed”. A jackhammer sound is also a rapid staccato and such a noise is exactly how a layman would have described the times-sequenced explosions that brought down the bridge.I will send a detailed synopsis, with all the other recent “collapses” to include the “spin” put out by NBC this morning to convince the public that bridges do collapse. Yeah, they collapse when you use C4 or thermate [sic].

In the Name of the Lord,

Al Cuppett

P.S Anybody who disbelieves this please report please ask to be taken off my mailing list – like today. Thanks.

One consequence of the bridge collapse is a torrent of news stories and editorials about America’s rotting infrastructure. This hardy perennial gets a trot around the block every five years, or whenever a gas main blows up or a bridge falls down. A decade ago the uproar was about the interstate system. To read the stories, you’d think half the major highways in the United States were in terminal disrepair. They’re not. I’ve driven over most of them, and they’re in pretty good shape.

It’s mostly bunkum, designed to enrich concrete tycoons and advance pork barrel high projects. A Californian variant on this is Earthquake retrofitting, an amazing racket.

Footnote: a version of the first item ran in the print edition of The Nation that went to press last week.

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.