Netroots and Iraq: A Response

Again, speaking for me exclusively.

One of Matt Stoller's best qualities is his willingness to roll up his sleeves and wrestle over an issue with you. He does that in his response to my post on Iraq and the Netroots:

Respectfully, your pet solution is not THE ANSWER. There is no THE ANSWER. Strategy is actually putting out a set of parameters that actually map to reality, and the reality is that there is not the discipline in the party to do what you suggest . . .

Is Matt's view of the "reality" of the situation accurate? I don't think so but really that is irrelevant. Part of being an activist, part of what the Netroots is supposed to be about, is trying to CHANGE the unacceptable reality of today. Matt seems resigned to accepting what he views the "reality" to be and to just raise the white flag on the issue.

But the "REALITY" is that Matt is not even close to being clued in on the reality of the situation. I responded to him:

[W]hat [are] you and Chris are talking about here:
This wasn't the situation we had in mind, but any legal opposition to the war should suffice, given the way this administration operates. If they are going to flaunt any opposition, why haggle over the degree of opposition? The only continuing opposition to the current bill I can imagine now is a pure moral objection to supporting the war at all, even through a means to try and end it. But to do so would be to take yourself out of the debate and politicking entirely.

What the heck is Chris Bowers talking about? The issue is FUNDING the war, not registering your objections. Bush could care less about your objections.

And the funny thing if that is the point as Chris says, then what happens if it is stripped or if Bush certifies whatever you think he has to certify? Nothing of course. You guys continue:

I don't know if you agree with me, but I think this is a step in the right direction for progressives in the House. Just being willing to make a show of force for left-wing opposition to what Democrats do is a step in the right direction. You are right that this wasn't good enough (and the Senate bill showed it clearly wasn't good enough--progs like Feingold can do better to change Democratic direction all on their own than an entire caucus can do, apparently). But it was a step in the right direction.

You mean caving in after opposing the bill? Showing that the Dem Leadership will stand up to you but not the Blue Dogs or the GOP? Woo hoo! What a win!

[You and Chris say:]

And, you are also right that the votes aren't there, either. Whether in the House, the Senate, or the White house, this bill is probably going down. I am mostly concerned about how hard the House leadership is willing to fight back. It is a bar fight primary moment.

The truth about McCain

by Chris Bowers on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 12:20:58 AM EST

And the Dem Leadership got laid out. Woo hoo!! Yay team! Oh wait, you [Matt] think the bill will "pass":

I think the bill can pass, actually. The important test is what happens when Bush says 'no, I don't think I have to listen to Congress'.

If I were a prog caucus member, I would cut a deal with leadership and say 'I'll support your stupid compromise if you support our strong enforcement of that compromise when Bush gives Congress the middle finger'.

by Matt Stoller on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 12:23:15 AM EST
Pffft. IF it has any teeth at all, McConnell will filibuster or Bush will veto. NOT passing bills is the way to do this.

That is the reality. But frankly, I think the Netroots has taken on a bit of DC Beltway "reality" these days on Iraq. The battles seem to be on the less important stuff.

Perhaps I am being unfair but it does not seem so to me right now.

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    Being weak and ineffectual... (5.00 / 7) (#1)
    by Dadler on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 12:01:21 PM EST
    ...is what they seem to think is a "step in the right direction".  When it is, in reality, an unmistakable and stumbling step backward.

    You're right on NOT passing additional war bills as the way to go.  

    At Missouri State in the first round of the NIT.  It don't get no better 'n that for the Aztecs.  Yikes.

    The key here (5.00 / 6) (#3)
    by Nonpartisan on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 01:05:56 PM EST
    is that Congress should be pursuing a mix of legislation designed to 1) defund the war and 2) force Bush to veto a lot of stuff that the American people want.  What they're doing instead is haggling over one weak piece of legislation as if it was going to sail through and solve everyone's problems.

    I think Matt's right that Bush is going to veto anything, save your defunding scheme which he can't veto.  He's also right that there's not enough discipline in the caucus to make the defunding scheme stick.  However, it's the job of the netroots to create that discipline.  We have been falling down on the job as of late.

    Accepting The Status Quo (5.00 / 11) (#4)
    by MO Blue on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 01:22:25 PM EST
    Strategy is actually putting out a set of parameters that actually map to reality, and the reality is that there is not the discipline in the party to do what you suggest . . .

    Had the netroots gone along with a set of parameters that actually map to reality, we would still be the minority party. The C/W of reality early in the 04 election season was by DC standards that we could compete in a few selected places and if we were really lucky we might win a slim majority in the House and forget a majority in the Senate. The netroots refused to accept the so called REALITY and pushed the boundaries to help achieve a majority.

    If Dem leadership is going to take the easy way out by not even attempting to bring some discipline into the party, then the Blue Dog position on every issue will be the Democratic position. Not something I'm willing to quietly accept and not a winning strategy for 08 IMO. The Blue Dogs are not the only Representatives that have constituents. Ignoring the wishes of a majority of the country to satisfy a few can have an adverse effect on the party.

    Don't always agree with you BTD, but I definitely agree with your position on Iraq.

    The Dems have control (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Pithy Cherub on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 01:47:36 PM EST
    if they would just pick a date and focus on the date rather than the funding.  It would be an American benchmark that was agreed upon by democrats and the defunding is only the enforcement tool, not the whole ball of wax.  The Iraq Debacle has already lasted longer than most of America's largest set piece battles.  

    Aren't the Blue Dogs and Repubs (none / 0) (#7)
    by annefrank on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 03:24:23 PM EST
    against setting a date?  claiming it would be tying the president's hands. Apparently the same hands Bush has had up his butt for 4 years.

    No Sense (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by squeaky on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 03:36:10 PM EST
    If anyone's hands ever needed tying it would be our Chimperor, a bit of tape over his mouth wouldn't be such a bad idea either.  I don't know how these guys can say that with a straight face.

    I really don't get how the Dems or the Repugs can continue to support the war in good faith. Most admit that they were snookered into it by the WH, but somehow now it is OK.

    It it Israel? The water? Big oil?  It is not the voters as we have already sent smoke signals in Novemeber.

    Makes no sense to me.


    Blue Dogs have to appease their Fox News (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by annefrank on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 05:14:51 PM EST
    constituents screaming - "If our soldiers leave, the TERRORISTS WILL FOLLOW THEM HOME!!!!!  THEY ALL WANT TO KILL US!!!"
    Simple solution, soldiers shouldn't publicize their addresses.

    Are we supposed to take that comment seiously? (none / 0) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 07:42:13 PM EST
    Yes (none / 0) (#25)
    by annefrank on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 07:53:12 PM EST
    "Netroots has taken on a bit of DC Beltway (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by roboleftalk on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 02:33:19 PM EST
    reality."  Couldn't agree more.

    Matt using this phony, elite, expert language ("Strategy is actually putting out a set of parameters that actually map to reality")inexplicably buys into Bushco's reality--which is to say, unreality itself.

    The reality is on the ground and no one can really dispute what's been going on for all these years now and that there is no good answer than getting out. Besides that, we, in the majority,should be making the strategy/reality.

    This is completely frustrating to me on many levels.  

    Cheney at AiPAC (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by squeaky on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 03:55:24 PM EST
    Basically these guys are agreeing with  Cheney. You'd think that by now they would have learned that anything Cheney says, doing the opposite would be the best choice.
    "When members of Congress pursue an anti-war strategy that's been called 'slow bleeding,' they are not supporting the troops, they are undermining them," he said. "Anyone can say they support the troops and we should take them at their word, but the proof will come when it's time to provide the money....

    ...."Either we are serious in fighting the war on terror or not.""


    Makes me want to puke.

    Oh (none / 0) (#11)
    by squeaky on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 04:24:06 PM EST
    And don't doubt for a moment that Deadeye does not get BT's plan. That is the last thing he wants to happed. Looks like he is not alone.

    Osama loves the slow bleed (none / 0) (#15)
    by annefrank on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 05:29:32 PM EST
    of America's fortune and finest in Iraq!

    Many in AIPAC want Bush to bomb IraN (none / 0) (#28)
    by annefrank on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 08:04:00 PM EST
    Well yeah (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by squeaky on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 09:28:16 PM EST
    That's the point. Bush Dotrine:  Preemptive war.  AIPAC is lobbying for it with all its might.

    The weird thing is that the biggest supporters of Israel are the Christianists. Almost 80% of American jews are  against the Iraqi Occupation.  


    And here I thought (5.00 / 13) (#10)
    by buhdydharma on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 04:18:34 PM EST
    that politics was about getting the votes, making the votes, changing the votes.

    I even wrote a diary about it!

    I didn't think the role of the netroots and the Democrats was throwing your hands in the air and saying "we don't have the votes!"

    I thought it was about finding solutions to difficult problems, not just giving up.

    Assess the powers we actually possess and figure out how to use those powers. Using those powers changes the landscape, changing the landscape and aggressive 'lobbing' will CHANGE the votes.

    Do we REALLY want to have our new democratic president in 08 have two more years of the bush debacle dumped in their lap and have the responsibility of solving it then?

    What happens in 2012 then?

    Dems are responding to (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Alien Abductee on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 05:23:39 PM EST
    a US electorate that's just as conflicted as the Democratic coalition is about the war:

    [The Dem leadership] point to polls that show the public opposes cutting off funding or revoking President Bush's authority for the war but backs bringing home troops by next year.

    What they're leaving out of their plans is that the new majority has a responsibility to provide leadership, to cut through the confused and propagandized thinking of the public. They should be offering constructive ideas around which new conventional wisdom can coalesce, not chasing old CW. Alternatives to more-of-the-same have to be presented and fought for with vision and moral authority. Dems can use their majority to lead and educate a public that hasn't been getting the full picture of disaster that is the Iraq adventure, and the netroots should be encouraging and supporting them to do that, not acquiesing when they fall back into old habits of weak, lazy, and timid thinking.

    The question is not Is Bush willing to play chicken with Congress? but Is the progressive caucus willing to play chicken with the Dem leadership? The netroots should support the Out of Iraq caucus no matter what. While there might be rewards for the pols themselves to knuckle under to the leadership, what advantage could there possibly be for activists to cave to the pressure of the Blue Dogs? Inquiring other activists want to know.

    tone (4.20 / 5) (#14)
    by Matt Stoller on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 05:27:39 PM EST
    The 'netroots' isn't one group of people, it's a heterodox aggregate of political actors.  That's just a pet peeve of mine.

    I guess I'm not sure how to have an effect here, but my sense is that the Democrats need to lay down a marker, and that we need to run against people who violate that marker.  I don't get the sense that your marker is realistic or will achieve the objectives you set out.

    But (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by squeaky on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 06:05:20 PM EST
    How can it fail? It seems dead simple. What do you think the problems are?

    Should the goal (5.00 / 5) (#17)
    by buhdydharma on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 06:06:56 PM EST
    be to try to unite the netroots (and the Dems) behind a plan? That way we can apply effective pressure.

    I am in no way suggesting that that would be an easy goal to achieve!

    It seems to me that a lack of a united voice is the problem, since BTD's plan seems to me to be the only truly achievable option for effective change.

    We certainly can't make a difference if we and the Dems are doing nothing but arguing back and forth!


    How to have an effect (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 06:18:05 PM EST
    How dod you have an effect on the Fox Debate? And every other issue you have had an effect on?

    What have3 you done to even try and HAVE anb effect on this?

    You guys are not even trying Matt. That's my beef.


    how do you know? (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Matt Stoller on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 07:00:25 PM EST
    I don't know how to have an effect on the Iraq debate.  

    What am I missing? (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by brainwave on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 07:39:05 PM EST
    If BTD is right, the defund-by-ceasing-to-fund option is already the adopted strategy of the Out of Iraq caucus. If so, how hard would it be to use the internets to (a) give this strategy more play and (b) support the Out of Iraq caucus on this and pressure other Dem Senators and Congress critters to get behind it?

    Well clue me in Matt (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 07:41:59 PM EST
    It is out of respect for what you guys have accom-lished in the past thaqt my disappointment stems from.

    Give me, or us, a clue. Right now, it seems like no one is doing anything.


    Dems have even abandoned resolution (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by annefrank on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 07:58:16 PM EST
    that Bush not be allowed to attack IraN. AIPAC conference in DC this week. Just sayin...

    Rest assured that when you use (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by roboleftalk on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 06:46:51 PM EST
    a phrase like "heterodox aggregate of political actors" I know that means nothing will get done.  

    You should do BTD the courtesy (5.00 / 5) (#29)
    by prairiefire on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 08:08:40 PM EST
    of going through his posts here and on DKos instead of offering vague, unarticulated criticisms about being realistic. The only thing lacking in BTD's approach is our elected Dems' unwillingness to engage the unpopular administration and their rubber stamp Congresscritters in a debate supporting the wishes of the American people who want Bush gone and the Iraq debacle to come to an end while making sure that we are doing the best for our troops until they are home safe and sound.

    Spine transplants are an important part of what blogs can actually do well and I don't see that they have much to brag about on the issue of helping to get our troops out Iraq.


    OTOH how realistic is the so-called compromise (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by conchita on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 09:45:18 PM EST
    resolution.  my rep jerry nadler backed down on friday and agreed that "once troops are out of Iraq, no money would be available to put them back in, outside the narrow exceptions of targeted counterterrorism operations, embassy protection and efforts to train Iraqis" was sufficient legal compulsion to follow an august 2008 troop withdrawl timeline.  how realistic is it to think that if they don't defund now they will then?  we could easily be in iran by august 2008.  nadler sponsored h.r. 455 back in january which:  
    Allows funds made available to the Department of Defense (DOD) to be obligated or expended within the Republic of Iraq only for providing: (1) the continued protection of members of the Armed Forces in Iraq pending their withdrawal; and (2) the safe and orderly withdrawal of such troops pursuant to a schedule that provides for withdrawal commencement no later than 30 days after the enactment of this Act and withdrawal completion no later than December 31, 2007.

    Prohibits any DOD funds from being obligated or expended to increase the number of Armed Forces serving in Iraq at any time.

    Permits the obligation or expenditure of funds to ensure the security of Iraq and its transition to democratic rule through specified consultations, financial or equipment assistance, or economic or reconstruction assistance.

    so nadler backs down from december 31 to august 2008.  and where are the netroots in this?  we should be supporting the out of iraq caucus and holding his feet to the fire.  i've made my phone calls to his office, but every single progressive out there should be calling and writing their reps and leading the way to draft the remainder of the country that wants to end the war to do the same.  clearly, we cannot sit back and wait for leadership with a spine to manifest itself within the democratic party.  is that also the case now within the netroots?


    At some point (none / 0) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 09:50:49 PM EST
    the answer has to be no more.

    I believe it is best to say no mkore, in 9, 12, months now!

    Now courage can be abundant.

    I do not understand Matt's arguments at all in this.


    Halliburton's move to Dubai is a smackdown (none / 0) (#2)
    by annefrank on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 12:46:31 PM EST
    to soldiers and taxpayers!  Terrori$m and fearmongering is Big Bu$iness and defunding the war affects the bottom line for the entire cabal - Halliburton, Bush, Cheney, Carlyle, media, etc.
    Are Americans willing to allow the Beltway establishment to fund an Arab company to provide billion$ in logistical support for our military??

    annefrank (none / 0) (#24)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 07:49:44 PM EST
    Halliburton is not moving.

    HOUSTON, March 11 -- Halliburton, the big energy services company, said on Sunday that it would open a corporate headquarters in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai and move its chairman and chief executive, David J. Lesar, there.

    The company will maintain its existing corporate office here as well as its legal incorporation in the United States, meaning that it will still be subject to domestic laws and regulations.


    Many large companies maintain "headquarters" in the areas they are intersted in from a business viewpoint.


    I know. But if the tables were reversed (none / 0) (#27)
    by annefrank on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 08:02:44 PM EST
    rightwingers would be screaming that our soldiers are dependent on food and water from foreigners -an Arab company!

    annefrank - You write (none / 0) (#38)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Mar 13, 2007 at 08:44:01 AM EST
    I know, but...

    So you are making a known incorrect statement because you think it supports your political position?



    To emulate Repubs - (none / 0) (#39)
    by annefrank on Tue Mar 13, 2007 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    one has to make incorrect statements. Get it??

    scalar (none / 0) (#30)
    by orionATL on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 09:17:34 PM EST
    look, btd

    it's a matter of scale - time scale.

    at any point in politics, you are working in the moment - like a diver  working in the swift currents of a muddy river.

    what's coming up?

    you never know; but it could be very dangerous.

    but, over time.

    you get a picture in your head of what's going on down there

    and confidence in that picture allows you to take action.

    that the "netroots" or the "dems" are moving slowly and cautiously does not prove or disprove "courage", "resolve", "caring" or any other fine adjective.

    it's simply common, political, good sense.

    in the emotional cauldron that is a nation at war, especially a frustrated nation, anything but caution is folly.

    politics is all about timing -

    when to talk and when to shut up, when you have the votes and when you don't, when you have public support and when you don't.

    pull the trigger too soon and the quarry escapes.

    right now the dems are building a case for deeply distrusting the bush admin on more fronts than the war -- vet care, u.s, attorney firings, medicare restrictions, expulsion of families from katrina trailer camps.

    next up? maybe  a view of the corporate copper pit that is haliburton.

    when's the time to pop the big questions to the american people on trust and confidence in the president viz his judgment of future american actions in iraq?

    i don't know.

    but i personally feel that a little more widely known and widely held info on the misconduct of ALL aspects of american government by the bush admin is a very good thing.

    a little more time.

    as i said in an earlier post, patience, lad, patience.

    this is not a legal case.

    this is a "case" of gross misconduct of a sort none of us, old or young, have ever seen in an american presidency,

    a public office most of us hold in highest esteem.

    but when the dam breaks against bush,

    and it will,  

    i would not want to be in his shoes, or even his life preserver, for any amount of money or fame.

    Yes, but (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by squeaky on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 09:42:25 PM EST
    Having a date that the defunding will happen gives the public something to chew on.  Countdown, like sports or rocket launches.

    So patience is warranted, but only to soften the pumped up anicipation of the showdown and final score . The american people are against the war why not use their power.

     Just say no.  

      Ha, a tribure to Papa.


    meanwhile, as we do the politically expedient (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by conchita on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 10:15:14 PM EST
    waiting, people are dying.  the sad thing is that while that sounds melodramatic, it's true.

    Honestly? (none / 0) (#32)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 09:36:30 PM EST
    I don't understand your comment.