Archive for August 4th, 2011

Hope For Change

by lizard

I cast my first presidential vote for Ross Perot in 1996. I was 18. But I didn’t know what any of the candidates actually stood for. Bill Clinton once played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall. Bod Dole was old. I think I voted for Perot because I liked how he was depicted by Dana Carvey on SNL.

I voted for Al Gore in 2000 and still believe the election was stolen. I voted in 2004 for Kerry, because that was the only viable, reasonable option I was presented with. I voted proudly for Jon Tester in 2006, hoping a congressional comeback for Democrats would mean finally addressing the insane wars launched recklessly (with 9-11 as the perfect pretext) by a lawless president who had thieved and lied his way into office.

And I voted for Barack H. Obama in 2008.

Fast forward through half-measures, endless concessions, outright reversals, and provocative escalations, and what we are left with is unrecognizable from the campaign rhetoric of just a few years ago.

Here is what Felice Pace wonders about the American people’s capacity to take this shit:

The Democratic Party and the Republican Party have become instruments of Global Capital. That is the inevitable consequence when corporate “speech” is unfettered, information is controlled by global corporations and elections can be bought and sold. US progressives are demoralized and fractious; we have no unifying analysis and no unified program. Progressive Democrats can’t even manage a “Dump Obama” movement.

All over the world regular folks are rebelling. From England and Greece to Egypt and the Middle East – even in Israel – workers, middle class folks and the poor have taken to the streets and are demanding changes which would have the effect of limiting the economic and political dominance of Global Capital.

It is too early to tell whether the popular revolts popping up around the globe will lead to real change. The opponent – Global Capital – is well organized and powerful. The popular movements for change, on the other hand, are new, fragile and linkages among them are rudimentary or non-existent. Unlike Global Capital, organized labor remains primarily national; labor lacks strong, unified and international programs to challenge capital’s global dominance.

Will the emerging revolts be sustained? Will they link across borders? And how will everyday Americans react? Will working, poor and middle class Americans continue to absorb raids on their wealth and welfare? Can they continue to be persuaded to vote against their own interest? Will they continue to vote for the candidates Wall Street chooses?

How much abuse will the American People take before we rise up?

A hyperbolic conclusion? Read the whole article. And read The Shock Doctrine if you haven’t already.

In another Counterpunching shot, this:

Despite being elected on the premise of hope and change, 2 years in power have shown that Obama is more than happy to fulfill the role of a mere guardian of the status quo. Contrary to the expectations of certain sectors, the Obama administration stayed on the course set by the Bush administration in key issues on foreign and economic policy. The difference between the two governments has been then more a matter of style than substance.

The lack of concrete actions to address the social crisis that originated in the economic and financial collapse of 2008, have eroded the liberal base which initially supported the Obama administration. To date, 14.4 million families have lost their homes since the beginning of the crisis and about 25 million people are in a situation of unemployment or precarious employment. The policies implemented so far, have been designed to support and ensure the survival of financial institutions responsible for the economic crisis instead of addressing the urgent needs of a large segment of the U.S. population.

PUBLIC bailouts for wall street high finance junkies, and pain for everyone else. Obama 2012. No challenger?

I hope that changes.


(Note: starting after this article’s note, I will no longer be linking to Lee Enterprises online newspaper articles, as they have instituted a paywall that prevents readers here from accessing those articles unless they have paid the subscription fee. Beings as I have not, and will not pay the fee, I will be linking to information from alternative sources).

“… A tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law.”

“… A talisman that ipso facto sweeps aside Separation of Powers concerns.”

“Policy changes of questionable political viability, such as occurred here, can be forced using insider tactics without debate by attaching riders…”
— Federal District Court Judge Don Molloy

In a stunning decision with a scathing commentary, Federal District Court Judge Don Molloy declared that Senator Jon Tester’s wolf rider supporting delisting of wolves in Montana and Idaho, in his opinion, is unconstitutional. He also found that a 9th Circuit Court precedent prevented him from ruling against the rider, and was forced to let Tester’s controversial rider stand.

Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center For Biological Diversity, one of the groups that challenged the rider, was quoted in the Lewiston Tribune article:

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “He is not only intimating the wolf rider is unconstitutional and the 9th Circuit is wrong but he is laying out a road map on how to appeal his own ruling and take it all the way to the Supreme Court. He does everything but buy us a bus ticket to Washington, D.C.”

Judge Molloy expounds on the role that the doctrine of Separation of Powers played in his decisions, and is must reading for any who would critique the power of Congress. And his analysis sets the framework for the inevitable appeal to the 9th Circuit.

I’ve had much to say here and elsewhere about Senator Tester’s use of riders to pass policy and this court case, so I needn’t go there again. You can read the Judge’s Final Order for yourself to get a sense of how upset he was that he was constrained from upholding the plaintiff’s case against the constitutionality of Tester’s rider process.

Here are some pertinent statements from the Judge about Senator Tester’s wolf rider:

“This case presents difficult questions for me. The way in which Congress acted in trying to achieve a debatable policy change by attaching a rider to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 is a tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law. The principle behind the rule of law is to provide a mechanism and process to guide and constrain the government’s exercise of power. Political decisions derive their legitimacy from the proper function of the political process within the constraints of limited government, guided by a constitutional structure that acknowledges the importance of the doctrine of Separation of Powers. That legitimacy is enhanced by a meaningful, predictable, and transparent process.

In this case Defendants argue—unpersuasively—that Congress balanced the conflicting public interests and policies to resolve a difficult issue. I do not see what Congress did in the same light. Inserting environmental policy changes into appropriations bills may be politically expedient, but it transgresses the process envisioned by the Constitution by avoiding the very debate on issues of political importance said to provide legitimacy. Policy changes of questionable political viability, such as occurred here, can be forced using insider tactics without debate by attaching riders to legislation that must be passed.

You can read more excerpts from the Judge’s Order below the fold:
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