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Doin’ Nothin’

© August J. Pollak

I really don’t understand the logic behind some people who complain about the Democrats not doing anything. It is actually amazing the number of things they have been able to accomplish, despite the fact that the Republicans have opposed (and often filibustered) pretty much all major Democratic initiatives.



  1. C.S.Strowbridge wrote:

    I think the problem is that the Democrats could have done a whole lot more.

    Think of it this way, the Democrats have done a lot of half measures with no Republican help. Since the Republicans didn’t help pass any of the bills, why the hell did the Democrats water the bills down so much? If all the Republicans are going to say no, then do what you want to do.

    The only conclusion is this…

    The Democrats also don’t want real healthcare reform, real banking regulations, real changes to the nation’s energy policy, real changes to foreign policy, real protections for privacy, etc., etc., etc.

    The choice Americans have in November is between a party that is 60% evil and 30% stupid and 10% actually worthy of being in office, and a party that is 60% complicit and 30% cowardly and 10% actually worthy of being in office.

    Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 2:14 am | Permalink
  2. patriotsgt wrote:

    So if I understand you correctly you’re saying its like poker. You’ve got a Ace and Queen of diamonds and nothing else. Do you hold that Ace and Queen and go for the very unlikely royal flush? Or do you get rid of everything and draw 5 fresh cards and see what you get.

    Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 8:23 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    The problem is that in order to avoid the Republican filibusters, the Democrats were forced to water down bills in order to get one or two Republicans to vote for cloture so the bills could even come up for a vote. At that point, the one or two Republicans who had “switched sides” in order to end the filibuster could vote against the bill. Then they could claim that they voted against the bill, while also allowing it to pass by voting against the filibuster. I have sympathy for their actions in this case, since it is very difficult to be a moderate Republican right now.

    But don’t think for a minute that the Democrats weren’t forced to compromise. Although I do have to agree that they shouldn’t have taken single-payer health insurance off the table at the start of negotiations (but I think they learned from that mistake, and if you look at the history of Medicare and other reforms, we’ll have another chance in the future to reform more, and even a small reform usually gets the ball rolling).

    Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  4. C.S.Strowbridge wrote:

    “The problem is that in order to avoid the Republican filibusters, the Democrats were forced to water down bills in order to get one or two Republicans to vote for cloture so the bills could even come up for a vote.”

    How do you know? Did the Obama even try fighting for what they wanted? Or more importantly, what they claimed they wanted?

    It’s like going into a negotiation between two sides A and B. A wants 50 and B wants 150. If B decides the most logical course of action is split the difference and starts with an opening offer of 100, but A thinks the most logical course of action is to go for the throat and starts with an opening offer of 0. Who do you think will win that negotiation?

    Likewise, when it comes to the Democrats, they are too quite to negotiate away their position. And that’s assuming they actually wanted real change.

    And more importantly OBAMA IS NEVER THERE TO FIGHT FOR THE CAUSE. How many times did he stand up and fight against the death panel lies? Right now the private insurance companies have death panels. How many times did Obama talk to the American people and give real stories of real Americans who lost their health insurance because of a typo on a form, or who forgot to report that they had acme as a teenager.

    On the other hand, Obama’s White House traded away prescription drug reform for nothing. (Although I suspect his team was hoping the Democrats would benefit from increased campaign contributions. And I know some of their aides will get lucrative jobs in the field.)

    A lot of people, myself included, think the Democrats would be doing a whole lot better if they stopped negotiating with the Republicans and started treating them as the enemy. Start shaming them in public. Show the American people who’s on their side and who’s on the side of those trying to rob them.

    Sadly, I think real answer to that is neither party is on your side.

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 1:54 am | Permalink
  5. starluna wrote:

    CS – It is the Congress’ constitutional responsibility to make the laws. While I don’t necessarily agree with Obama’s hands off approach (at least not all of the time) he is doing his job as per the Constitution. Take a look at the Constitution. You will see that Article 1, addressing the roles and responsibilities of Congress, is significantly more detailed (there are 10 separate sections) than the Article 2 which addresses the roles of and responsibilities of the President. It is because the Congress is supposed to the body that makes the laws.

    I agree that the Republican in the Congress should be publicly shamed, but that role is the responsibility of the press. That is why we have that little amendment to the Constitution that explicitly provides for freedom of speech and of the press. I don’t know what you are reading or watching, but I see plenty of frank discussion of who is responsible for what. It’s not coming from the cable news shows, but from the PBS news shows and political talk shows (Washington Week, etc). It’s also coming from public discussions held in my community with our legislators.

    And frankly, it is also our job as citizens to seek out that information, to seek an understanding of the process (and ensure that our children are being taught it from ourselves and in their schools), and to have civil discourse about these issues.

    We need to stop laying all of the responsibility of lack of action of Congress on the president. It’s not his job. It’s responsibility of the press to accurately inform us, its our responsibility to demand, and our job to talk about it with our neighbors, family, and friends.

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 7:39 am | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    Starluna, let me amplify a point you just made about the responsibility of the press. C.S. claimed that Obama never spoke out against the “death panel” lies, but I saw him speak out against them several times. But did his speaking out get any coverage? Of course not. I don’t care if you blame the media because they always run with the crazy stories, or if you blame the media because they are owned by multinational corporations and control the news. But either way, just because you didn’t see it on Fox News doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  7. starluna wrote:

    Well put.

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink
  8. C.S.Strowbridge wrote:

    Obama negotiated with the drug companies and gave them longer longer monopolies, gave away the government’s ability to negotiate, and banned re-importation.

    That was 100% Obama. So try and tell me he did all he could.

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink
  9. C.S.Strowbridge wrote:

    “While I don’t necessarily agree with Obama’s hands off approach…”

    That’s an understatement.

    “But either way, just because you didn’t see it on Fox News doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

    I don’t watch Fox News.

    And the number of times Obama has caved to the Republicans and the right-wingers is amazing. He caved in cases were you can’t pretend it is congresses fault.

    Is it congress’s fault he sided with Lincoln over Bill Halter is Arkansas?

    Is it congress’s he fired Van Jones?

    Shirley Sherrod?

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  10. patriotsgt wrote:

    So, I take it from Starluna’s research of the constitution that the Bush bashing past and present is unwarranted since the Democrats have been in control of both houses for the last 4 years and had the majority in 1 for the last 6. Is my assumption correct or does the analysis only apply to the current president, ie. a theory of convenience? It can’t work both ways.

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink
  11. starluna wrote:

    Patriot SGT – The president is Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The operation and execution of all international transactions and interactions, be they treaties or wars, is the president’s responsibility (Article 2, Section 2). If you were a military man, you would know this.

    With that said, Congress does deserve blame for giving GW Bush the vaguely worded authority to start a military conflict that blossomed into our two current wars. Although Congress’ authority was made in some part on the basis of information that was provided by the president GW Bush. So yes, in the matter of the budget-surplus-turned-deficit being a direct result of the unwarranted wars that are currently being fought which are the direct result of misinformation provided to Congress, I lay that at Bush’s feet.

    The current economic crisis is primarily the result of Congressional acts that deregulated the banking and finance industry and failed to provide regulatory authority to a variety of watchdog agencies. It is secondarily the result of lack of action on enforcement at the regulatory agencies themselves. If you watched something other than Fox News you might have seen this explained. Many times over. Indeed, next to the health care debate, this was Bill Moyers favorite subject.

    CS – you really need to be more specific. I have no idea what law or regulation you are referring to with regards to the claim that drug companies have longer monopolies as a result of something Obama negotiated. The last change to drug patent laws was in 1995. Patents are the only monopolies that drug companies are allowed to have, and only for 20 years. So, what specifically are you referring to in this case?

    The only one of your assertions that I can make heads or tails of is the claim that Obama banned the re-importation of pharmaceuticals. In fact, in 2004 Congress allowed the importation of drugs under the very condition that the Secretary of HHS certify that the drugs coming in were safe. In one of the rare moments of specificity, Congress also detailed exactly what was needed to be proven to ensure safety. And then Congress did not provide the funding to the FDA in order to certify the safety of drugs coming in from overseas. So, under the law, reimportation is allowed if the Secretary certified the safety of the drugs being imported. None of Bush’s Secretaries of HHS ever allowed it and Obama cannot either until Congress appropriates the money needed to actual certify the safety of the drugs – as required by statute (meaning by a law passed by Congress). A similar law was passed in 2000 with similar restrictions.

    There are plenty of things that Obama is doing that I don’t care for. But I am not going to blame him for the actions or inactions of Congress.

    Monday, August 9, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
  12. C.S.Strowbridge wrote:

    “CS – you really need to be more specific.”

    Why bother?

    Obama had a choice to fight for a real progressive in Bill Halter, or support a corportist Democrat Lincoln in Arkansas, who has no chance of winning in November.

    He choose to help the corportist. If that isn’t 100% proof that he is not a progressive, what level of detail would be enough for you?

    So don’t tell me Obama wants real change but Congress has let him down. There’s been no leadership from the top to get the real change.

    When he had 60% approval ratings, he could have used his position to fight for real change and scared enough Republicans to get them to vote for real change.

    Now he’s demoralized his base to the point where his net approval is -6%, and that will cost him a huge number of seats in November.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 12:11 am | Permalink
  13. patriotsgt wrote:

    Exactly Starluna, I am not blaming Obama for everything. Many of our problems are clearly congress’ fault. They are supposed to provide oversight of our regulatory system (like the SEC and MMS) and have failed miserably to that end. Neither Obama or Bush as presidents have the time nor capacity to oversee every dept in government.
    To CS – what is the difference between a progressive, a liberal and a democrat and should they be 3 separate parties? When I voted for Obama, he did not run as a “progressive”, he ran on a more liberal moderate platform (what I would call the old democratic party). I don’t think he would have gotten the amount of votes had he run on the “progressive” platform.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6:16 am | Permalink
  14. C.S.Strowbridge wrote:

    “what is the difference between a progressive, a liberal and a democrat”

    I don’t consider there to be a difference between liberal and progressive, while Democrat is a political party.

    “(what I would call the old democratic party).”

    How old is the old Democratic party? Because right now, Obama is running to the right of Reagan in a lot of ways.

    “I don’t think he would have gotten the amount of votes had he run on the “progressive” platform.”

    Really? Because the Medicare Buy-In was and is hugely popular. Much more popular than the final bill. Getting rid of the tax breaks for the top 2% is hugely popular. Regulating the banks is hugely popular.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  15. patriotsgt wrote:

    Thanks for the response. I’m trying to understand the difference because it seems there is confusion all the way to the white house on this issue. Here are 2 diff articles (one left, and one right) on WHPS Gibb’s recent comments about progressives, the professional left, liberals etc. I am a conservative democrat, I believe pro choice, gay rights, fiscal conservatism, think many parts of HCR were good, etc. I’d like to know what progressives want that differs from other democrats? Repealing the tax breaks and regulating banks is mainstream democrat thinking, in my mind. Where are the differences?

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 6:18 am | Permalink
  16. patriotsgt wrote:

    Sorry, Forgot the the articles:

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 6:19 am | Permalink
  17. C.S.Strowbridge wrote:


    I think most conservative democrats are in agreement with liberal / progressive in most areas. The problem is, Obama’s not listening to liberals or progressives or even conservatives. He’s listening to corporatist. Tim Geitner is horrid. He’s wrong on the policy. He’s wrong on the politics. He’s wrong for everyone, except the people gaming the system and who caused the economic collapse.

    If you asked the American people if they wanted a Medicare Buy-In, the vast majority said yes. (60 to 70% the last I heard.) Had Obama been willing to lead, it could have become law by making it part of a reconciliation bill.

    But I don’t think the Obama White House wanted it, because their election strategy is to suck up to big corporations to get huge amounts of donations.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
  18. patriotsgt wrote:

    CS – I think your on track. Elections have become about who can raise the most money I think unfortunately. Obama proved his mastery last election in that arena and fully understands the importance of not alienating the donor base. He is also trying to balance that with the voter base, which is a hard juggling act. I agree about Geitner, from big bank exec to Sec of the Treas, it’s like putting an alcoholic in charge of the brewery.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink
  19. Iron Knee wrote:

    So we seem to all agree — our current system requires political candidates to kow-tow to corporate interests, in order to raise enough money to be considered (as our media so ironically puts it) a “serious candidate”. Our media is controlled by corporations, our politicians are controlled by corporations, our Supreme Court is controlled by corporate interests, even (as I pointed out yesterday) the frickin’ tea party is controlled by corporations.

    If candidates take a stand and don’t suck up to corporations, those candidates are marginalized, we don’t take them seriously, and we certainly don’t vote for them. So why do we complain when we get the best government that corporate money can buy?

    Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink