Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Urgent Congressional Election This Thursday


There's a crucial and defining election coming up tomorrow but unless you've been reading DWT you probably don't know about it. I'd be in a state of shock if any of the MSNBC anchors mention it, even Rachel. It's part of the concerted move by the New Dem Coalition-- a corporately funded conglomeration of economically conservative anti-family Democratic sell-outs-- to take over every aspect of the House Democratic Caucus. And they appear to be winning. Tomorrow the main event is a caucus vote to pick the next vice chair of the Caucus.

In the year House Democrats are bragging how women and minorities are a majority of their caucus, progressive icon Barbara Lee, beloved and respected by both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, should be a show-in. But she's the decided underdog to one of the most corrupt men to sit in Congress in any of our lifetimes, Queens County Democratic boss and Wall Street/K Street whore, Joe Crowley, until last week, chairman of the New Dems.

If Lee is the very best of what Democrats have to offer-- she is-- Crowley is the very worst. He stands for nothing at all but naked power and systemic corruption. The House Ethics Committee had the goods on him and seemed likely to end his miserable career for taking bribes from Wall Street lobbyists during the Wall Street reform hearings in the House Ways and Means Committee, But the same net that scooped up Crowley also scooped up equally corrupt Republican Tom Price (GA) and one of those voce sotto deals was struck to save one GOP leader and one Democratic leader. The losers in this arrangement: the American people who are now stuck with Crowley and Price, each in completely gerrymandered, non-competitive districts. Before deciding to get into the national leadership, Crowley was a vehement anti-Choice bigot. He "changed" to pro-Choice to facilitate his move. Now he's trying to run to the head of the progressive parade to challenge the Obama-Boehner Grand Bargain that throws working families under the bus. Curiously none of his New Dem teammates are taking that too seriously.

Not unrelated was yesterday's AmericaBlog blockbuster by Gaius Publius, pointing the finger directly a Nancy Pelosi for the way the New Dems have taken over the caucus. One of my friends in the caucus tells me she's already paying special deference to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Crowley as the next generation of House leadership. "They're given precedence over even the most senior committee ranking members these days," my friend groused.
Look, there are two ways at this point to look at Ms. Pelosi: 1. She’s either a true liberal (whatever that means) who gets regularly rolled by the Blue Dogs in her coalition, starting with Steny Hoyer and Steve Israel, plus all their ilk (remember the Public Option?).

2. Or she’s a complicit Democratic leader, playing the needed left-of-center role that-- knowingly or not-- enables all those NeoLiberal atrocities (like extending the Bush Tax Cuts).

The enabling role is this: while the actual control group of the Obama-Clinton–led Democratic party betrays progressive goal after progressive goal, lefties like Pelosi paint a useful we-tried face on each of the losses. In this way the party never quite loses its faux-progressive cred. Looks like a sweet system to me, if you’re a Keystone-loving, NAFTA-signing, drone-killing corp-enabler like Obama.

Rolled or complicit? Either way, it seems Pelosi is not helping much-- in this man’s estimation, at least-- well-intentioned or not as she may be. Time for a change? If so, what kind?

Time for an Open Rebellion Caucus?

What’s a progressive to do? Do we want Steny Hoyer to mount the Speaker’s gavel (or the House party leader’s chair)? No.

But do we want true party progressives to serve notice that they are NOT on board with Blue Dogs AND complicit leader-led cave-ins, including Pelosi’s? Yes. We in the bleachers, who actually suffer the effects these congressional-millionaire–enacted laws, would like that very much.

So what are we asking for? I think we need an Open Rebellion Caucus within the Democratic Party office-holder class-- one that openly rejects NeoLiberal policies and stands with true progressive constituencies first, not party first. Party-first is the death of progressives in office, say I.

Do they have to be named the “Open Rebellion Caucus”? No-- they can be the “Puppies & Light Caucus” for all I care, or “Kittens & Cupcakes for All-- though I do think the “Open Rebellion” branding will get a ton of real progressives to love them a whole lot more than they do right now. Perhaps those newly-loving grassroots progressives will even finance their careers much more than they do right now.

Besides, if Steve Israel can found something “shady” called the bipartisan (heh) “Center Aisle Caucus”-- search Klein’s article for the phrase and explanation-- surely there’s room for an “anti–Steve-Israel-and-complicit-ilk” caucus as well. What’s sauce for the goose, as they say.

But whatever happens, whatever our bright new caucus is formed or not formed, just remember-- progressive office-holders look pretty ineffective from the outside, from out here in the hinterlands. As a result, it’s hard to raise money for most of them-- which means they are even more dependent on largess from the Steve Israels of the wicked political world. A vicious circle if ever their was one. You could even call it a “reptilian” circle-- with the reptile head reporting to Nancy Pelosi. Ouch.

Dear Progressive Office-holder: Maybe selling yourself as a strong, unwilling-to-be-complicit, more-effective kind of office-holder is worth a shot. Who know? Maybe someone (or a big bunch of you) should try it and find out.

Say I.
Crowley, as you could probably guess, is part of the Steny Hoyer Team. Recently a Democratic congressman predicted that if Hoyer becomes Speaker "he will run every bill by K Street and nothing will ever happen." Well, Rachel and Lawrence and Big Ed may be missing it, but this faction is sealing it's control of the congressional Democrats on Thursday, Pelosi smiling benignly from the sidelines. One of the most nonsensical of the heavily-funded centrist (meaning right-leaning) Democratic think tanks, the Center for American Progress (CAP), is cheering this, of course. Their quintessential veal pen president, Neera Tanden, blurted out the other day that "on every major battle, Hoyer has been in the trenches with progressives." That's patently absurd-- and it goes beyond Hoyer working behind the scenes to consistently kill off progressive candidates in primaries.
On many critical issues, Hoyer has simply not stood with progressives. Here are a few examples:

• Abandoning The Public Option: While Hoyer did voice support for the public option during the health care reform debate, he was saying in August of 2009-- not too long after a New York Times poll was released that showed 72 percent of the country supported a public plan-- that it may have to be jettisoned. Keep in mind that progressives in Congress and their allies around the country were rallying for the public option as late as February 2010-- but Hoyer and his pro-corporate allies took the wind out of their sails.

• Helping Hide Money In Politics: When President Obama proposed a plan by which he could unilaterally  require federal contractors to disclose their political contributions, Hoyer-- whose district is packed with many of these contractors-- attacked the plan, saying that “there are some serious questions as to what implications there are if somehow we consider political contributions in the context of awarding contracts.” Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor soon used Hoyer’s statement to his advantage, saying, “Certainly, I am in agreement with the Democratic Whip.” The disclosure plan was never put into law.

• Raising The Retirement Age: In 2010, when then-House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) suggested raising the retirement age to 70, Hoyer didn’t object. “We could and should consider a higher retirement age,” he said.

• Endorsing Job-Killing Free Trade Deals With Human Rights Abusers: Working-class Americans know that NAFTA-style “free trade” deals cost Americans jobs. But Hoyer joined with only 31 other House Democrats to support a free trade agreement with Colombia, the most dangerous place on the planet for union leaders.  He also broke with the majority of House Democrats by backing similar trade deals with South Korea and Panama. These trade agreements are expected to cost America hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The record speaks for itself. Hoyer has repeatedly sided with the corporate wing of his party over progressives.
Hoyer, Wasserman Schultz, Crowley, Israel... if that's the new face of the Democratic Party-- the next generation-- it really is time for a third party, one to represent working families rather than corporations and the wealthy. These people will make the phrase "but they're better than Republicans" an anachronism.

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At 9:37 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

I wouldn't mind seeing a new progressive caucus in the democratic party & maybe we'll see the end of the new dem caucus & conservative caucus as well plus i'm in favor of giving Occupy a spot in the party & hopefully we'll find some progressive candidates to oust the big bad four in the house during primary season in 2016.

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Sorry i meant 2014 lol.

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous me said...

I've been saying for years that Pelosi is totally worthless, and does not deserve a seat in Congress, let alone a leadership position. Now do you believe me?

What good has she done in all those years? Nothing that I can think of.

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a whole lot of vitriol for mainstream, moderate Democratic leaders in your post - all with little substance or fact. Just your opinion. Your post could be MUCH MORE effective if you actually backed up your allegations with facts and links to those facts.

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But she's the decided underdog to one of the most corrupt men to sit in Congress in any of our lifetimes, Queens County Democratic boss and Wall Street/K Street whore, Joe Crowley."

I have no idea about Joe Crowley's positions other than that he is vice-chair of the New-Dems but you really are going at him in the article so I expected that throughout the article you would back up the "one of the most corrupt men to sit on Congress in any of our lifetimes" with at least one fact-based reference, but you didn't, not one.

Now I would certainly like to see a more progressive party as well as leadership and I think thats what the American people voted for, but this article is verly poorly written and seems like a personal attack rather than anything based in facts, but I'd be grateful for you to enlighten me

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous me said...

Anon, please pull your head out of your ass. The facts you're demanding have been obvious for many years to anyone who has been paying even a little bit of attention. Clearly, that does not include you.

I know your type. I'm not going to do your homework for you, because no matter what facts I present, you will keep coming up with objections, each one sillier than the one before. I don't play that game.

If you knew any clue at all, you'd already know what I was talking about, so don't ask for more.

At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not the one writing articles and not backing up statements with facts. This is why we lose because there is no unity, there is always someone who isn't as liberal as we want. This is the same type of thing that got Dick Lugar primaried.

At 7:22 PM, Anonymous me said...

If you want unity, offer something other than republicanism by a different name.

I for one will be happy to get behind a party that does good things. But being "not quite as bad as the gop" is not only not good enough, it's positively toxic, debilitating, destructive. Over the last few decades, I've had more than my fill of that shit.


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