On Condemnation of Weakness
Let us be clear on the consequences of these two stories. In the matter of the outing of non-official cover operative Valerie Plame, a conspiracy was set forth and executed over a period of many months to construct false and misleading information; that information was provided to Congress and to the United Nations in order to induce those two bodies to authorize military action. The conspiracy had as one of its elements a forgery of unknown but suspect origin, and the exposure of that forgery was met by retribution that compromised an on-going intelligence operation that tracked weapons of mass destruction production and trafficking. One official of the Bush Administration was indicted, an official about whom very few people knew much of anything before his indictment. Hints of and allusions to continued investigation subsequent to the disbanding of the grand jury that issued the indictment have been followed on this week by thundering silence from the office of federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
In the matter of Samuel Alito, Jr., the President of the United States has nominated a federal judge who has on numerous occasions written opinions, both for the majority and in dissent, that have been specifically addressed by the majority of his courts and/or of higher court, which have rejected and repudiated his reasoning and his unwillingness to adhere to precedent and plain language of the "settled" law. If Mr. Alito is appointed to the Supreme Court, his disregard for the rule of law and statutory construction will mean, among other things, that Roe v. Wade will be swept aside: the trimester test of the state's "compelling interest" in a fetus will be replaced by a direct and overarching compelling interest in that fetus's life, which means the state will have compelling interest in the body of any female (not "any woman"; any female) who has become impregnated or who could reasonably be believed to be capable of such. That will happen. It is not a possibility; it is a fact. Mr. Alito has demonstrated that his beliefs supercede law and has directly challenged both his own court and higher courts on this point. By the standards of careful and tempered wording of court opinions, Mr. Alito's views have been sharply rebuked, with terms like "guts the statutory standard" and "ignores our precedent": this is the language of courts directly addressing a judge whose thinking is incorrect and who needs to be told that his thinking is incorrect.
As if attempting by media power to head off a filibuster in the Senate of the vote on that nomination, CNN.com reports that two members of a so-called "centrist" coalition of Republicans and Democrats have already said that a filibuster is "unlikely"; but absent direct and dramatic action in the form of a filibuster, Mr. Alito will become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Once that happens, this country will materially, fundamentally, and over a period of only a few years change for the rest of our lives.
In response to the article about how a filibuster and a denial of quorum would work, the astute and articulate commentator Lisa Renee of Liberal Common Sense wrote in part as follows:
While I agree with your description of the process, it will not happen.
[E]ven if this did happen? You would not stop Alito from being appointed. The President could use his Recess Appointment powers.
The average american would not understand why the Democrats were stopping the government. The Democrats would be blamed and that could very well help the Republicans gain even more seats. A rather large risk to take.
Lisa Renee is correct that a denial of quorum move is highly unlikely, and it is important to make clear the purpose of the article suggesting it. In modified form, the following was my response.
Although it is highly unlikely, stranger things have happened. It looks like a few leading Democrats are finally getting desperate enough to take the Senate into very unusual territory: the call by Reid to a closed session did not garner anywhere near the backlash that it could have, despite the attempt by some media outlets to give the Republicans more than their fair share of on-air whine-time about the outrage of it all.
A number of Democrats have by now noticed that the incident did not cause them to burst into flames and lift away in a puff of unpopular smoke. That simple observation will give them the incentive and the courage to push further and harder with dramatic (and theatrical) means. It is unfortunate that John Conyers was largely ignored for some of his displays, but he can be rightfully credited for leading the way to what we are now beginning to see as media coverage of the schism that has existed for at least several years in the upper chamber of Congress, known historically for a high degree of civility and a distinctively less rowdy decorum than the House of Representatives.
All of that having been said—and drifting perilously close to talking about the frame within the frame of political discourse—I am laying down in my run of recent posts an insurmountable challenge to the Democrats, giving them evidence of a voice that has become entirely disenchanted of all of them in their political activities. All of them.
Although the rhetoric of my articles can alienate some who believe most of the Democratic elected officials are good people, my purpose is to cut them no slack until they actually cause something to happen that is not on the Republican agenda.
You will have noticed, I am sure, that I have absolutely no use whatsoever for the outcome of Fitzgerald's investigation: perhaps the indictment of Libby contributed to the recent drop into the basement of Bush's popularity, but it did nothingabsolutely nothingto change his course of action in either tactical moves or in strategic direction: the man went right out of that little Fitzgerald media event and nominated a Right-wing radical to serve as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Bush showed no penitence, no sense of willingness to reconcile to a more moderate tone, and no new-found self-control over his obsession with the narrow, mentally unbalanced base of support he has among religious extremists and their sycophants.
After Ronald Reagan's cabal of Poindexter, North, Abrams, et al. was crushed, the greybeards of the Republican Partya Party that still had reasoned, decent politicians who could command respectjerked Reagan back from his heady, self-delusional inattention that had twice so infatuated that previous electorate who got a kick out of his simplistic mean-spiritedness. GOP politicians who cared about the Republic set him straight, and the nation was able to emerge from his era relatively unscathed despite the recklessness of his first term and part of his second.
That will not happen with George W. Bush. He is as reckless and incompetent now as he was when he first entered the Oval Office. He will have a phony "shake-up" of his inner circle at the end of this year, but it will be only for show. He is incapable of rectifying his own flaws, and there are no Republicans remaining who have the moral standing to rake him over the coals and make him change.
That leaves the matter to the Democrats, that ineffectual, cowardly cabal of men and women who have stood as some sort of miserable but loyal opposition as the neo-conservatives have wrecked the landscape of the 21st Century with their unprincipled, ill-informed, Freshman-level social engineering stunt.
Nevertheless, the matter is in the Democrats' hands. It is only when material, overwhelming, unapologetic, very public revulsion to Mr. Bush is displayed from the top of the Democratic Party down that average Americans in undeniable majorities will become comfortable with finally listening to their inner sense that he is now and always has been wrong. It is still far too easy to fear letting that feeling out, even though I am certain that many people who voted for him in 2004 knew very well, deep down inside, that it was a bad, bad move. And I am not talking about big "disapproval ratings" pumped out by polling organizations. I am talking about widespread revulsion against George W. Bush, his entire cadre of fellow travelers, the Religious Right that drools all over the hope he brings of some mythical Apocalypse, and the assorted hate-mongers of social "reform" who fantasize about casting us back to the age of robber-barons and millions living in below-subsistence-wage squalor.
My sense is that, although a number of bloggers and commentators genuinely agree with me to a greater or lesser extent about the miserable weakness of the Democrats, there is a sense that I am on my own for the time being in taking such a hard and unforgiving stance against them.
If, as time goes along, I don't get shot or otherwise have my blog and by butt turned into randomized electrons racing away to the four corners of the universe, then perhaps more people who share my earnest desire for a different future will become comfortable with expressing their frustrations at the entirety of the Democratic Party. When and if that happens, the Democratic leadership will pay very strict attention. I don't think bloggers realize that their sentiments are beginning to be noticed by the big players in the Party. And I'm not talking about attention being paid only to the giant graffiti blogs; I'm talking about attention being paid to what I call Blogosphere Left 2.0, which is getting a whole lot of attention—albeit quiet and from the shadows—of the big dogs of the Party. They're still not sure whether Blogosphere Left 2.0 is going to amount to much, but there are definite indications that they want to make sure that these medium-level blogs are in their corner come 2008. If those heavy hitters in the Party see Blogosphere Left 2.0 turning uniformly sour on them, they're going to react. They can't silence us, so they're going to have to accommodate us. If we're chopping every one of their candidates to shreds for being cowardly, ineffective straight men to the Republican comedy engine of doom, they're going to do what they can to appease us, lest we turn in big droves to a love affair with Green Party or Libertarian Party candidates.
That's how I see it, but I don't see it as a certainty. Blogosphere Left 2.0 might very well fizzle out instead of continuing to rise in importance. Whatever the case, though, we will make ourselves far more compelling if we give the
Democratic politicians a goal they will have a hard and risky time achieving.
We as bloggers sit in an amazing position right now: we still have within our power the opportunity to be as meaningful as we choose to be. We serve ourselves well if we seize that opportunity as a call to change the course of the nation rather than as a duty to stroke their egos on the rare occasions that the Democrat politicians do a neat little trick for the crowds. Those Democrats who want our support simply must find a way to stop the madness that has launched the 21st Century on its frightful descent of the Republic into Hell that is becoming more and more real for tens of millions of Americans even as our feckless Democrat "leaders" look on wringing their hands.
That, I submit to you, makes this a great moment in history. We can change the future materially, but only if we remain true to just cause rather than faithful to failed leadership, be that leadership of the mean and spiteful Republicans or of the sallow and ineffectual Democrats.
It is not the way of the Dark Wraith to praise the wretchéd.