Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Week of Milestones

Man, I take a week 'off', and look at all that happens. Indictments are about to be handed out, Miers is pulled as the nominee to replace O'Connor, and the death toll of American troops in Iraq passes 2,000.

Speaking of which, I attended one of the many candlelight vigils held all over the country yesterday for the 2,000 Americans (not to mention the countless Iraqis) who have died in Bush's illegal war, and I have to say that it was a truly moving event. The thought of so many people, most of them already victims of this country's poverty epidemic and of what passes for an educational system here, losing their lives so that big business could get their hands on Iraq was devastating to all of us as we stood in the cold with our candles.

One woman standing near me was the mother of one of those lost soldiers, and her determination to see that this war is brought to an immediate end and that those who lied to us to force us into war are brought to justice was truly inspiring.

We're starting to see a glimmer at the end of that tunnel, I think. The Plame case is highlighting for everyone the lengths that this Administration went to get the all out war on Iraq that they wanted.

Now the Democrats need to wake up and realize that continuing to support this war will not do them any good. With so many now opposed to the war, I really wonder what it's going to take to wake them up to this reality. What are they waiting for, a time when the polls show 100% are against it?

It's yet another failure of the Democratic party to LEAD on anything. That's largely why we ended up in this mess in the first place, but they don't seem to have learned any lessons.

Which is why I was loudly cheering Cindy Sheehan this week when she called on us all to oppose Hillary Clinton in 2008 if she continues to support the war. That needs to be our stance with all candidates for high office, both next year in the Mid Term elections and in 2008. If they're not in support of bringing our troops home now, they don't get our votes. It's as simple as that.

John Kerry, meanwhile, is finally starting to get the idea, as he called for the withdrawl of 20,000 troops in December after Iraqi elections. Bit late, John, and way too short of the necessary total withdrawl. But at least you're starting down the right path, at long last.

It's sad that a Senator calling for a reduction is such a big new story, though. We should be hearing multiple Senators (and Members of the House, and Governors, and State officials), not just a precious few, joining in the chorus of the American people calling for immediate and total withdrawl. We need to make these people realize that they serve at our pleasure and we'll be holding them accountable on election day.

Well, Harriet Miers is no longer a Nominee for the Supreme Court. Clearly, the next step is for Bush to nominate a hardcore Conservative with a paper trail to prove it and please the people he really works for, the Religious Right. The upside is that the Democrats are pledged to filibuster any extreme nominees, so this could work in our favor. But anything that depends on Senate Democrats is a big if in my book.

Still, I firmly believe that Miers was just as much a hardcore conservative as John Roberts is and as whoever Bush nominates next will be. So we're not losing, as some are suggesting, a moderate nominee in favor of a Conservative one.

No matter how you look at this, it's a huge blow for the Bush White House. They're falling victim to the curse of the Second Term, and I couldn't be happier. By pulling this nomination, he's made himself look like the weak, lame duck President he's becoming, and he's also highlighting his indentured servitude to the Religious Right. After this, there can be no question in the minds of Americans who Bush's masters really are.

Call me optimistic, but I think all of this is going to work in our favor in a major way in 2006 and 2008. Even in the short term, it means we'll have O'Connor on the Court for the next few months at the very least, so the precarious balance there will be maintained.

And if you're still worried about what's going to happen with the Supreme Court (and who isn't?), you should read this Howard Zinn article in the new issue of The Progressive. Zinn reminds us that we shouldn't be looking to the Court (or Congress, or the White House) as the source of justice or for our basic rights.

Here's an excerpt, but you really should read the whole thing:

"The Constitution gave no rights to working people: no right to work less than twelve hours a day, no right to a living wage, no right to safe working conditions. Workers had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, the courts, the police, create a great movement which won the eight-hour day, and caused such commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, and Social Security, and unemployment insurance.


The right of a woman to an abortion did not depend on the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. It was won before that decision, all over the country, by grassroots agitation that forced states to recognize the right. If the American people, who by a great majority favor that right, insist on it, act on it, no Supreme Court decision can take it away.

The rights of working people, of women, of black people have not depended on decisions of the courts. Like the other branches of the political system, the courts have recognized these rights only after citizens have engaged in direct action powerful enough to win these rights for themselves."

Zinn is right, and we all need to be reminded that the real power for change comes from us and no one else. The people of the United States have forced every single change for the better that has occurred in this country's history. Nothing was handed to us by Courts or Congress, and nothing ever will be.

Zinn's faith in the people to stand up for what matters is one I share, especially after attending that vigil last night.

Certainly the death this week of Civil Rights pioneer Rosa Parks should be a striking reminder to us all of what one person can accomplish. But Rosa Parks wasn't alone in her determination to bring about change, and neither are we.

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