The Responsibility of A Nation

Via Atrios, Al Gore's new book takes us all to task:

A large and growing number of Americans are asking out loud: "What has happened to our country?" People are trying to figure out what has gone wrong in our democracy, and how we can fix it. . . . It is too easy—and too partisan—to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes. We have a Congress. We have an independent judiciary. We have checks and balances. We are a nation of laws. We have free speech. We have a free press. Have they all failed us? Why has America's public discourse become less focused and clear, less reasoned? Faith in the power of reason—the belief that free citizens can govern themselves wisely and fairly by resorting to logical debate on the basis of the best evidence available, instead of raw power—remains the central premise of American democracy. This premise is now under assault.

As is apparent, I spend a great deal of time writing about ending the Iraq Debacle. Particularly on ending it by not funding it after a date certain. To me it is easy to decry Republican disconnect from reality. But where is the condemnation of Democratic disconnect from the reality of the Constitutional mandate to the Congress to exercise its Spending Power? We are all to blame now. From those of us who always opposed the war, like Barack Obama, to those who learned what a mistake the Iraq Debacle was after supporting it, like Tom Friedman. The truth is that too few are accepting that Bush will never end the war and that the Democratic Congress must exercise its Constitutional power and end it - by not funding it.

Update [2007-5-17 11:21:19 by Big Tent Democrat]: In his floor speech on Reid-Feingold, Senator James Webb fails in his duty to the country because he clings to falsehoods to justify his unwillingness to exercise his Constitutional power:

[L]et me say that I admire the intentions in the bill that my colleague Senator Feingold introduced earlier today. However, I could not vote for that bill, because an arbitrary cutoff date for funding military operations in Iraq might actually work against the country’s best interests in an environment where we have, finally seen some diplomatic efforts from this administration. Recent initiatives from Secretary of State Rice, Ambassador Crocker, and Admiral Fallon, the new commander of the Central Command, hold out the hope, if not the promise, that we might actually start to turn this thing around. . . . There is room for movement here, as long as the movement occurs in a timely fashion. An arbitrary cutoff date would, at this point, take away an important negotiating tool. Let’s just hope that they use the tools we are providing them in an effective manner.

This speech pretends that George Bush is not the President.

I find it a nauseatingly false speech that is a prime example of what Gore is talking about.

< Why Is Ending The War Through Not Funding It Controversial? | The Iraq Supplemental: The Likely Deal >
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    We need to resurrect some Whigs (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:10:51 AM EST
    so they can explain to the Democrats just how much power the legislature really has.

    I just saw "W" on TV with Tony (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:54:01 AM EST
    He doesn't sound very confident today when asked about a funding bill for Iraq.  He stuttered whole big bunches. He said that Josh is the negotiator, I guess if we fail to get a bill through it's Josh's fault!

    Al Gore makes some excellent points (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by HK on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:23:55 AM EST
    Right now I have a head full of Psychology revision and so have a tendency to view everything in those terms (roll on Tuesday, after which I can forget everything I know about the subject like a real student).  This, however, I feel is relevant.  There is a phenomena called diffusion of responsibility in which even if a group feels that they have some responsibility for an event the fact that many people make up that group lessens the responsibility felt by any one individual.  It is why bystanders will in some instances walk past a person who has collapsed in the street.  I guess it is the attitude of `well, nobody else is doing anything, so why should I?'  I think it is a problem in general in society with many issues.  People moan and groan about things but few take the initiative and actually do something - and yes, in some ways I am guilty of that too.

    Furthermore, unless an issue or event has a direct impact on a person, they are unlikely to feel passionate about it; for example, those who actively support cancer charities have often either had cancer themselves or lost a loved one to the disease.  But regarding the Iraq war, what could be done about it?  Well, other than a draft, maybe if someone worked out how much the Iraq war had cost each and every tax payer in the US, those individual tax payers would feel compelled to do something about it.

    HK (1.00 / 1) (#32)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu May 17, 2007 at 05:59:53 PM EST
    You want Algore??

    Take him. Pleaseeeeee.

    BTW - I have never seen anyone walk by a person who is collapsed in the street.

    There have been one, maybe two, fairly well known instances of people not calling the police when they had seen a crime being committed from their apartment windows, but that was from fear of the hooligans, not because some politican had made them feel guilty over global warming.

    Of course reporters claim they must report, not interfer...


    revise (1.00 / 1) (#33)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu May 17, 2007 at 06:00:33 PM EST
    to be fair.. make that some reporters

    How many times (none / 0) (#50)
    by HK on Sun May 20, 2007 at 12:00:53 PM EST
    have you seen a person collapsed in the street?  Enough for your experience to be a reflection of human behaviour as a whole?

    Here is an example of what I was talking about.  Fear of 'hooligans' was not mentioned by anyone interviewed in this case.


    We're in very serious trouble. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Pneumatikon on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:26:30 AM EST
    We're in the middle of a class war, and the rich and powerful have put us on notice they can do whatever they want with us and get away with it. They lie to us, they steal from us, they rig elections, and they murder us by the thousands through bad healthcare and wars of aggression. They show utter contempt for the citizens of this country. We're apparently here to serve their lazy asses. The only reason Hillary Clinton's considered a strong contender is because she and her husband have enabled this. And even then these "elites" spit in their faces and slander and libel them.

    (I really think they're a couple of sickos.)

    We don't live in a democracy anymore, and we need to decide what we're going do about that.

    Hope? (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Edger on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:27:33 AM EST
    But where is the condemnation of Democratic disconnect from the reality of the Constitutional mandate to the Congress to exercise its Spending Power?

    Buried behind the hope that the Democrats would be better than the Republicans after the midterms?

    Buried by the fear that condemning the disconnect might mean another 4 years of Republican rule?

    Buried under self-inflicted fearmongering?

    Buried by (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Edger on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:31:27 AM EST
    the DLC using the same fear tactics the Republicans have so successfully used?

    Ugh, I like soldiers.......I live with one (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:30:01 AM EST
    Sometimes though the jarhead just takes over and it needs to realize that it is retired and other soldiers really need you to be a civilian in the know now!  If you are wearing your old uniform under your suit TAKE IT OFF NOW!  I hate that about dealing with soldiers.  I'm just going to have a small vent here but what is worse, Jim Webb talking this tripe or when Wesley decided to use An Army of One as a campaign slogan? Take off the soldier hat, put on the civilian hat you old crusty old dog needs new tricks old damned fight to the death for your country soldiers!!!!

    Lack of condemnation = Lack of a clear goal? (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Edger on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:52:45 AM EST
    I want the occupation of Iraq ended as soon as possible so that the fewest Americans and Iraqis die. Preferably none. Period. I also see the occupation as a specific instance of the more general doctrine of preemptive war - really imperialist hegemony - that the neocons and rethugs want to pursue. I want the specific instance ended and the mindset behind the general doctrine made politically and socially unacceptable and people who hold that mindset treated as pariahs, so that no matter which party is elected it will not happen again.

    I have no illusions that that goal will ever be reached, but I feel like pushing towards it is something that makes sense to do.

    The DLC is not very far removed from the GOP or the Neocons, IMO. I to think that they are incrementally less bad, and incremental movement in the right direction is progress of a sort, but that does NOT excuse them. If anything, it makes their responsibility that much greater.

    I was willing to cut Webb some slack (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Teresa on Thu May 17, 2007 at 11:56:54 AM EST
    until I heard his reasoning. After reading that, what in hell is he thinking?

    To have expected anything different (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Stewieeeee on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:11:53 PM EST
    from Webb was a product of blogs over-selling his progressivism during his recruitment by blogs and throughout the election cycle of '06.

    this is quite forgivable of course.  he won.  and that's what matters.

    but that is where the responsibility lies.


    High and tight with skin ;) (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:52:10 PM EST
    End it now, bring them home... (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by Dadler on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:22:01 PM EST
    ...to defend the country on our own shores.  Why the Dems haven't played this obvious card in the face of Repub cries of "they'll follow us home", I just don't get it.  The idea that we should have our troops at home to defend our ACTUAL home is a pretty easy sell.  As long as you have the passion to sell it.  And the imagination.

    Oop, there's the problem.

    And the obvious imbalance of sacrifice.  Wretched imbalance.  Immoral imbalance.

    Assault on Reason (1.00 / 5) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 17, 2007 at 11:19:54 AM EST

    Frankly, I thought with that title and the name Al Gore just below that it was about Gore's role in the catastrophic global warming hoax.  Instead he is off on another sky is falling riff.  How amazing, he appears to be Chicken Little and Foxy Loxy at the same time!

    Oy Vey (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu May 17, 2007 at 11:30:33 AM EST
    A creationist no doubt.

    Is that a different way of spelling (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Edger on Thu May 17, 2007 at 11:47:14 AM EST

    A Falwellian. (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by desertswine on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:00:10 PM EST
    The biggest problem (5.00 / 8) (#14)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:00:51 PM EST
     Is that too many conservative ideologues operate in an alternative universe. Basic facts are in dispute. During the national presidential sex crises most Democrats and lefties could agree that adultry was wrong. Where we differed was whether or not it was should it be an issue for the country or was it personal to HRC and Chelsea.

    Today the GOP and the Rightwing cannot even take the first step of admitting that Bush and his minions have done anything wrong, so we cannot even begin to discuss is it an issue for the country and what should be done about it.

    The Diving Right of Bush is a very distrubing repudiation of the American Revolution to the extent it is a return to the monarchial idea that the King can do no wrong. It blows my mind.


    ...the king can do no wrong. (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by desertswine on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:11:52 PM EST
    Who can forget this classic?

    FROST: So what in a sense, you're saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan (which advocated the systematic use of wiretappings, burglaries, or so-called black bag jobs, mail openings and infiltration against antiwar groups and others. Some of these activities, as Huston emphasized to Nixon, were clearly illegal)or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

    NIXON: Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.


    Changing the subject (1.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:13:00 PM EST

    During the national presidential sex crises most Democrats and lefties could agree that adultry was wrong.

    That was not the issue.  There was no "sex crisis."  No one cared where Bill keeps his cigars.  

    Telling a lie to a federal judge was the issue.  Calling obstruction a "sex crisis" is just a diversion.


    A lie to a federal judge? (5.00 / 5) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:32:45 PM EST
    You mean what BushCo told the courts on Padilla?

    How about lies to Congress?

    Or grand juries? Rove walks free.


    Yes by all means change the subject (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:33:51 PM EST
    We can agree adultry is wrong, we can agree that perjury, if committed was wrong (since consensual sex is not relevant to accusations of non-consensual sex- it wasn't perjury) and so on. The issue becomes, what should be done about it. The left is willing to admit to the basic facts.

    Now conservatives claim global warming is a hoax despite overwhelming scientific agreement, this morning I heard the claim that 60% of Americans don't believe in evolution as though that was proof that evolution was a debatable point.

    There are certain posters on this blog who think there is nothing to to the AG scandal.

    The commonality here is conservatives won't or can't admit basic facts.  If you won't admit to the basic facts, you can't debate the policy solutions. And that is the point, conservatives are afraid to allow their ideas compete in the open market place.  Deny the facts, claim your ideas work and the consequences to real people and the country be damned.

    It is very dysfunctional to democracy.


    Reason (1.00 / 3) (#26)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 17, 2007 at 01:41:26 PM EST
    Now conservatives claim global warming is a hoax despite overwhelming scientific agreement...

    Not true at all.  Most beleive that the planet has been warming since the end of the last ice age.  To imply otherwise is a bit dishonest.

    It is fair to say that there is universal, not merely overwhelming, agreement that the planet has been warming.  

    There is near universal agreement that the historical record shows:

    1. The planet has been warmer with less CO2 in the air.

    2. The planet has been colder with more CO2 in the air.

    3. None of the computer models can accurately "predict" the present when using a start date in the past.  

    4. In Minneapolis at this writing the temperature has risen about 13 degrees in the last nine hours.   If this trend continues, we will be burned to death by the end of the month.  But we won't because weather and climate are cyclical not linear.

    Gore's hoax is an assault on reason.  Vikings farming on Greenland?  Just ignore that.  Tree stumps in the permafrost north of the Arctic circle?  Just ingore that.  Just ignore the man behind the curtain.

    Gore's hoax has to be taken on faith.  He has refused to debate any of the scientists that don't buy his doom and gloom scenario.


    The majority consensus of the (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu May 17, 2007 at 02:44:27 PM EST
    scientific commnity is global warming is real. This is a basic fact you choose not to see.

    This is what I am talking about.


    What consensus (1.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 17, 2007 at 03:38:36 PM EST
    scientific commnity is global warming is real. This is a basic fact you choose not to see.

    What are you talking about?  The universal agreement that the planet is in a warming period between ice ages.  Or are you referring to Al's constant but unproven assertion that we are all going to fry due to SUV's and cow farts?

    Constant denial of controversy does not establish consensus.  


    we are all going to fry due to SUV's and cow farts (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Edger on Thu May 17, 2007 at 03:44:26 PM EST
    You have evidence, quotes, recordings and other factual support for this assertion I take it.

    This one (5.00 / 4) (#30)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu May 17, 2007 at 04:21:41 PM EST

    IT'S NOT quite the hurricane-force blow to skeptics of global warming that many climatologists would have preferred, but for a document drafted by hundreds of scientists representing 113 governments, the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released Friday, is nevertheless full of frightening evidence and, we hope, policy-inducing conclusions.

    Here are some of the more notable conclusions: There is no doubt that the planet is warming, according to all sorts of measures, from rising air and ocean temperatures to widespread melting of snow and ice. Increases in global temperature are "very likely" the result of higher concentrations of greenhouse gases, which are far higher now than they have been over the past 650,000 years. Policymakers should expect global temperatures to continue to rise, even if greenhouse gas concentrations stay at the levels of the year 2000. Continuing to release greenhouse gases at current rates would warm the Earth even more and would be "very likely" to yield much more severe consequences during this century than those we saw in the previous one. Sea levels will rise, heat waves and droughts will strike longer and more often, hurricanes will become more intense, and it will rain more in high latitudes.

    Many climate scientists say the report doesn't go far enough.

    Of course, I fully expect you to deny this inconvient fact.... it would be in keeping with my original post. You could surprise me, but  I am not going to bet the house on it.


    MB (1.00 / 3) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu May 17, 2007 at 06:07:01 PM EST
    Well, you are betting the economy on it. And ultimately, if Algore and his merry band of treasury looters have their war, you'll lose the house.

    Of course lawyers won't be loosing their jobs as manufacturing is further depressed, travel and retail is slashed because of the huge increases in fuel costs.. no, they'll last a while longer...


    Friendly advice, jim. (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Edger on Thu May 17, 2007 at 06:14:29 PM EST
    Avoid the subject of treasury looting like the plague. It will do you in just as fast.

    Jim sit down relax (5.00 / 4) (#37)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu May 17, 2007 at 06:23:16 PM EST
    Ok sunshine

    ... what did the acid look like?

    They were these little orange pills.

    Were they barrel shaped?

    Uh.. yes.

    Okay, right, you did some orange sunshine...

    Alright, just listen. Everything is going to be fine. You're very high right now. You will probably be that way for about five more hours. Try taking some vitamin B complex, vitamin C complex.. if you have a beer, go ahead and drink it..

    ... Just remember you're a living organism on this planet, and you're very safe. You've just taken a heavy drug. Relax, stay inside and listen to some music, Okay? Do you have any Allman Brothers?

    After you sober up please explain exactly how Al Gore and his merry band of treasury looters is looting the treasury?


    Hahahaha. Hah! (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Edger on Thu May 17, 2007 at 06:33:51 PM EST
    Great, Molly! Best laugh I've had in awhile. :-)

    MB (1.00 / 1) (#41)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu May 17, 2007 at 09:42:39 PM EST
    Check out the money being spent by the governments on these programs.

    Maybe you would prefer to call it welfare for the bureaucrats and their bugs.


    MB (1.00 / 1) (#44)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:00:59 PM EST
    Increases in global temperature are "very likely" the result of higher concentrations of greenhouse gases,

    Earth even more and would be "very likely" to yield much more severe consequences

    "very likely" is a qualifier

    Let me know when the people making a living off being alarmists don't have to use "very likely" to give them a rat hole to dive into for protection.


    Still can't show looting I gather so its (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri May 18, 2007 at 08:13:09 AM EST
    the old chewbacca defense.


    When the (none / 0) (#45)
    by Edger on Thu May 17, 2007 at 10:18:05 PM EST
    Laws of Probability are repealed. It'll ruin your poker bets too. This tack'll do you in as fast as the treasury looting bet that you lost earlier, jim.

    edger (none / 0) (#48)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri May 18, 2007 at 10:09:34 PM EST
    Do you mean some one is spending money like John Edwards in a beauty parlor?

    BTW - What bet?? I'm afraid I don't rememeber. Do you have a link or are you just making things up??


    You show your age (none / 0) (#39)
    by bx58 on Thu May 17, 2007 at 07:09:58 PM EST
    talking about orange sunshine. Double barrel.

    ELP and The Allman bros and Gerry....


    Sailor's Law (5.00 / 6) (#23)
    by Sailor on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:43:08 PM EST
    The index of desperation of the wrongwingers is the square on the number of times they invoke The Clenis.


    the catastrophic global warming hoax.
    you mean the hoax that bush believes in?

    Sailor (1.00 / 1) (#35)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu May 17, 2007 at 06:10:14 PM EST
    Bush also believes that Gay Marriage is wrong.

    I don't agree with him about that, either.

    Of course if you a member of the Left you must spout the party line, eh??

    Now, since you agree with Bush on GW.. Are you moving towards supporting him on his war policies??


    Well, goody goody gumdrops (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 17, 2007 at 09:10:16 PM EST
    we can count on your support Jim when we push for gay marriage after we get our arses out of Iraq.  Look forward to having at you at the Gay Marriage celebration party.

    Tracy (1.00 / 0) (#42)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu May 17, 2007 at 09:45:54 PM EST
    Yes, you can.

    Now go dig through the archives and you will see that my position on this has been the same since day one.

    Your problem is that you have been told that all Liberals hate the WOT and the battle in Iraq.


    BTW - I think I have told you this before. Please pay attention this time.


    Tracy (1.00 / 2) (#43)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu May 17, 2007 at 09:52:32 PM EST
    Oh. Can you tell me why we have to wait until we are out of Iraq to do the right thing about Gay Rights, Women's Rights, Minority Rights, National Health Care, Drug Law Rationalization, Social Security Reform....

    After all, the Demos have control of both houses and all they have managed to do is name a dozen or so Federal Buildings and send a Iraq Surrender Bill to Bush for his veto.

    Tracy, hate to tell you this, but you aren't a Liberal. You are a single issue person who is being used by the Left to attack the war and help them be sure Bush can't win.

    Leave the dark side and come over to enlightened reality and some true progressive positions.


    I'm a liberal with a soldier for a husband (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 18, 2007 at 07:21:16 AM EST
    I have my priorities.  I guess you have yours too.

    Tracy (1.00 / 1) (#49)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri May 18, 2007 at 10:14:57 PM EST
    What has that got to do with the DEMOS and the LEFT not proceeding forward on the liberal issues I mentioned??

    Whatalotta Bull (5.00 / 4) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 17, 2007 at 01:03:22 PM EST
    Republicans have lied to anybody who would stand still long enough to be lied to since 9/11, including Federal Judges.

    They parried and thrust, they side-stepped. . . (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by andgarden on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:05:28 PM EST
    constitutional crisis (none / 0) (#19)
    by conchita on Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:21:44 PM EST
    sometimes i get the feeling that most of the dems in office, and most americans in general, think that if they click their heels three times and say constitutional crisis, this will all go away.  what will it take for the country to wake up and rise up?

    the hearings have been necessary and informative but i would like to see some action.  i understand bush has to fire gonzales, why haven't the dems demanded it?  color me ignorant on legislative process for this - does gonzales have to be impeached in order for us to be rid of him?  we have clearly shown that he is incompetent, do we have to prove that he lied as well?  what about the subpoenas that are being ignored by rice and others?  and i know we don't control the world bank - nominally that is - but why is wolfowitz being allowed to dictate the terms of his resignation?  

    what has to happen to raise the consciousness of this country?  george lakoff talks about finding common ground with conservatives.  how can they not see what is happening to this country?  squeaky characterized what has happened as a coup d'etat yesterday and i am inclined to agree.  there is an excellent diary by canyoubeangryandstilldream on the recommended list at dkos which takes this a step further.  

    btd, i know you consider impeachment a distraction, but it is a distraction that i can't ignore.  

    Called Ron Paul's office today (none / 0) (#31)
    by bx58 on Thu May 17, 2007 at 05:28:56 PM EST
    Left a quick message; keep saying what you've been saying.

    NOBODY freakin nobody addressed what Ron Paul has been saying about the clusterf$ck foreign policy we've had for the last six administrations. What are these people afraid of?

    It was either how Rudy forcefully rebutted him or how the crowd reacted, just bogus shy away from reality newscasting that we accept as Gospel.

    "I got boat payments" I guess