Ignorance is Strength
Jan. 25th, 2008 @ 05:08 pm
Today was a dark day, Dennis Kucinich has dropped out of the race.
What saddens me most is that while he flew back to Washington on a red eye to deal with this FISA mess, Obama and Clinton could not be bothered to show up. It's only the future of our country after all, nothing compared to their latest stump speech, there are mud pies that need to be made to be flung at each other. They'll worry about illegal and unconstitutional wire tapping, later.
I looked around and crunched some numbers. Here are the percentage of votes the candidates cast in their careers as far back as the Washington Post seems to have easily accessible statistics and/or no one was a member of the 104th Congress (I included Ron Paul because I have many friends that like him and I am leaning towards voting for him if Dennis' name does not appear on the Democrat's ballot).
First the House, running along the top is the Number of the Congress.
| ||110||109||108||107||106||105||Total Votes|
|1181||1214 ||1221||996||1214||1187||7013|| |
And now for the Democrats in the Senate:
| ||110th||109th||108th||107th||106th||105th||Total Votes |
|444||645||675||633||672||612||(varies by candidate)|| |
So there you go, despite having to vote about half as often as the House, Barack Obama and John Edwards STILL couldn't be bothered to show up to work an average of 15-20% of the time. For Edwards to criticize Barack Obama during the CNN debates for his (admittedly) abysmal attendance in the 110th congress, is laughable given Edward's 108th Congressional lack of voting, and for Hillary to pile on would have been effective and making a wonderful point if her strong voting record had lasted more than a hat trick. I was surprised to see just how often Clinton voted, given how often I hear that she is absent for big issue votes, I figured she couldn't be bothered. Still for Obama to miss about 40% and Clinton to have missed about 25% of the votes thus far is beyond shameful.
The Democrats hold a very slim margin of majority. Remember the promises made by the Democrats in 2002, look around and see how much of that has been accomplished, and ask yourself, what could two votes have done in the Senate? What if Obama and Clinton decided to show up to vote on those days -- decided to do their jobs on those days? Where were they? Because I guarantee you Dennis was there, voting. And maybe that's why he isn't in the race anymore.
See for yourselves (you can just swap out the "110" in the url with the Congress you want to look up), but remember, Ignorance is Strength.http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/110/senate/vote-missers/http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/110/house/vote-missers/
|Date:||January 26th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)|| |
It's an interesting analysis, but it completely ignores the fact that there are some bills that are going to pass by such an overwhelming margin that it really doesn't matter if a few (or often, a bunch) of people don't vote.
There are many other factors that go into whether someone votes or not. You seem to be implying that Clinton, Obama and Edwards are sitting on a beach somewhere instead of voting on that crucial bill that will change the direction of the country. That's just not reality. If their vote was needed on something that matters, you can bet they were there.
Also, I just want to point out that Ron Paul is anything but an alternative to Kucinich. They are complete polar opposites on everything but the war.
Kucinich wants a completely nationalized not-for-profit health care system; Paul wants to utterly gut the national government, including the Departments of Education and Defense. Kucinich is for gay marriage; Paul is opposed to it. Kucinich is pro-choice; Paul is anti-abortion. Kucinich wants to strengthen federal environmental protections; Paul wants to "leave it to the market." I could go on. But you get the picture. Other than opposition to the war (for completely different ideological reasons) and the fact that they are both a little mousy, they are completely different.
yeah, i do think it's interesting that so many liberal people are attracted to Ron Paul. as you pointed out, he's very far from liberal. but i think what's so appealing is that he's not a right-wing religious nutjob like most modern day republicans and so, by comparison, he seems totally reasonable. i guess in an ideal world, most democrats would be like Kucinich and most republicans would be like Paul. they're far more archetypical of their parties' traditional party lines.
yeah, i agree with the voting record thing. on any crucial bill that demands every last vote, they'd be there. as is often stated, running for president is a full-time job, and every serious candidate has to be on the campaign trail constantly. i think people like Kucinich know they're not serious candidates, and are out there fighting tooth and nail a lot less often. like Sharpton in 2004, they know they don't really have a shot, but they want to be there to add something to the debate that might otherwise not be brought up. that in and of itself is admirable, but when they drop out and head back to their day job, you can't characterize them as being more hands-on with the big problems than those that do have a shot of winning. if kucinich was polling the way hillary or obama have been, his voting record would be similarly low.
11/8/07 Vote 407: Confirmation of Michael B. Mukasey -- the same guy who said he'd "get back to us" on if waterboarding was torture. Still waiting on that. The same guy who has a portrait of George Orwell in his office. BOTH Clinton and Obama did not bother to show up to work on that day. The final vote was: 53-40. With 6 Democrats voting with the Republicans and 4 not voting at all. Of course it is LUDICROUS to assume that had Clinton and/or Obama -- one of which is likely to be the next president of the United States of America -- had showed up, talked to some people, and showed LEADERSHIP or Experience in getting the Democrats to stand united for Change you could have forced the tie at 47-47. Or thr win with 48 depending on if both Clinton and Obama managed to pull themselves away from campaign dinners. And the Dems could have won even more had they been able to find the other of their ilk that didn't vote, Dodd, for example (but of course there is no way Clinton or Obama would know where he was or have his cellphone number). For crying out loud, Tim "I suffered a massive brain hemorrhaged" Johnson even managed to show up and vote nay.
Maybe if campaigning for President is a full time job, you shouldn't have another FULL TIME JOB that is just as pressing, just as important, just as relevant, and just as vital to the well being of our democracy. Maybe part of having Experience™ should be having the experience to know that you can't be a good Senator and a Presidential Candidate at the same time. Maybe part of wanting Change™ should be the ability to accept that you have to change your thinking from trying to straddle the divide of your Senatorial duties and your Presidential campaigning duties.
so you're suggesting that no currently-serving politician should run for higher office?
not to defend Mukasey or his ridiculous refusal to answer the waterboarding question, but his nomination and confirmation can hardly be viewed as some sort of major democratic loss when you consider that Chuck Schumer suggested his name to President Bush for both the Supreme Court and Attorney General job. Also Patrick Leahy approved the nomination in his committee, gaining several concessions on how his tenure as AG would be different/better than Alberto Gonzales. Clearly, Democratic leadership signed off on him ahead of time. So I don't think this falls under the 'had they been there, it would've been a different outcome' category.
They were elected to be Congresspersons. They were not elected to run for the office of the Presidency. If they can do both (as Dennis did), than I don't see a problem with it, but if they can't I do see a problem and you should too. If someone spent 40% of their time at work looking for another job, I would have no problem with that person being fired. This is particularly true of the Senate because there are so few votes and so few voters. I suppose if Obama or Clinton had permission from the people they (at least during non-campaigning times) represent to run for President, it would be okay, but I would still feel they are cheating the nation.
As for Mukasey, I do not believe the democratic leadership did green light him. Sen. Reed voted against his nomination, which seems suspect considering how he is democratic leadership. I think more likely Schumer went out and did his own thing (as he is prone to do from time to time). Sure could have used someone to UNITE the party there... Next we have the fact that Mukasey has made very little difference when compared to Gonzales. This is the perfect example of the democrats version of compromise, i.e. Bush/Republicans get whatever they want, and Democrats pat each other on the back calling it a win.
The presidential candidates can't have it both ways. Barack can't be this radical new (or old) kind of politician who will unite the country for good, but then either a) goes along with whatever the democratic leadership says he should do and lets a nut like Mukasey become A.G. without so much as a peep or b) doesn't have time in his busy schedule of stump speeches, raising money, throwing mud hand grenades at the Clinton's, to come back to Congress and show some of that uniting skills to keep a jackass like Mukasey from touching our Government. Clinton is the same, she can't have it both ways. She can't be this rebel fighter who stands for everything Bush does not and then a) let her party stand for what Bush does by letting a sycophant like Mukasey get the job or b) being too busy taking Bill's mussel off to turn him loose on the Obama camp to bother to show up and show us her experience to get the job done.
|Date:||January 26th, 2008 06:49 am (UTC)|| |
Argh. Ron Paul IS A NUTJOB!!! He denies evolution and wants to put creationism in the schools. He's pro-school prayer. He's either religious or (worse?) pandering to the religious right. But above all, HE'S BATSHIT NUTS!! I will never figure out how Paul managed to weasel his way into seeming reasonable just because he's against the war. He's not against the war because he is against imperialism or is angry because Bush lied to us. He's against the war because wants to do away with the military and all foreign aid, and it's hard to fight wars or rebuild countries if you don't spend any money on the military or foreign aid. His particular brand of craziness just happens to make him anti-war. It's like if Tom Cruise was against the war because he thought that George Bush was Xenu and Saddam was head of the Thetans. Well, great, he's against the war. But he's still nuts.
Like I said, I don't agree with Ron Paul's interpretation of the 10th Amendment. I would never vote for him in the general election because he is a nut. I agree with his ideas on many social liberties and the fact that we need to stop starting wars which is a symptom of both parties right now (Vietnam (Democrats), Korea (Democrats), Iraq (Republicans)), but I agree, economically he is a nightmare. Free market systems hurt the poor and middle class. The 10th Amendment under a strong interpretation means a state could teach whatever they wanted to (like creationism, or pastafarianism) and I think we need a unified education system to compete. I like Huckabee's New Deal style public works plans to help infuse the economy and his stance on the enviromen, but the fact that he doesn't believe in evolution and panders to the religious nuts (and may be one himself) makes him a no-vote for me in the general election. I wouldn't even vote for him in the primaries because his storyline is that voting for him is a religious vote. The only reason I would vote for Paul in the primaries is because his media "storyline" is to vote for him is to want us out of Iraq, and the Republicans have to get that through their heads. We need out of Iraq. The fact of the matter is with Dennis gone, in an open primary state (which Ohio is) why would anyone vote in the Democratic Primaries?
Why bother to vote for Obama/Clinton/Edwards? They have the SAME EXACT ideas, the same exact policies. It is a difference of percentages. (Only Obama's health care plan is worst of the three) They are Cerberus, three heads one body. It literally does not matter which one you vote on. You are not voting for substance because they have the same exact substance, you are voting for who you think can get their collectively shared agenda done. They all want Change™ in the same exact ways, and will Change™ things in the same manner. You are voting on flash because they all have the same substance. So why bother? They are the same candidate with minor personality quirks. You're not voting for a candidate you're voting for a persona, and I'd rather send a message than vote for my favorite version of the generic centrist democrat. I think Obama and Clinton have equal probability that they will get the job done. I despise John Edwards but can't cast a negative vote against him, and am unwilling to vote for Obinton, so I'll send the message that we need out of Iraq to the Republicans, because (especially to Republicans) that is what voting for Paul says -- a vote to get out of Iraq. If Dennis' remains on the ballot, I'll vote for him. I'll send the message to the Democrats that I'm not a fan of Cerberus, and I miss the party of ideas (rather than catchphrases) they once where.
I would not vote for Ron Paul in the general election (even if he was the GOP candidate), but I respect what he is doing, and Dennis even suggested he would make a good VP for HIM! We need politicians that are not "politicians". Voting for Paul in the Primaries sends a message to the Republicans that we should get out of Iraq, just as voting for Dennis sends a message to the Democrats that they should be DEMOCRATS again. Paul and Kucinich stand for ideals and stand by their choices, rather than trying to say as little as possible with as many words as possible and believing in nebulous catchphrases like Change or Experience or father's working in mills. I believe Paul and Kucinich also believe strongly in the Constitution, though I think strict constructionists like Paul are ultimately misguided, I agree with the general premise that we need to move towards Constitutional government once more. I just happen to agree with Dennis' very strong interpretation of the 14th amendment over Paul's strong interpretation of the 10th. In my mind the 14th trumps the 10th, but that is a debate I want to hear.
As for your argument that we should let Obama, Clinton, and Edwards off the hook, I would first like to remind you that doing the right thing is not contingent to if a bill will pass. Just because the entire Congress votes to do the wrong thing doesn't mean it is morally correct to vote with the group. Both Clinton and Barack talk about being leaders, unfortunately, leaders lead. Sometimes Change (in the real sense not the Change™ sense) can come from a single voice amongst the din. Picking up on a theme present in the news lately is it was inevitable that African Americans would not have the right to vote. It was inevitable that women would not get the right to vote. These were inevitabilities. I really dislike the argument of inevitability because so much of what the government does (or should do) is to fight against inevitability. It is inevitable that people will starve to death, yet it is honorable to combat that, even if you do so alone. It is inevitable that there will be groups that attempt to take away our legal rights and freedoms, and we have seen from this and the previous Congress' that just because those forces can win the vote, doesn't mean you should just go alone with them, and that is exactly what the Democrats have done (Clinton and Obama among them) for far far too long. Inevitability has very little to do with morality.
It is also the simple matter that their job is to represent me. I have an opinion on these issues, my friends have opinions on these issues, those that voted for them and thus those they represent have opinions on these issues. Even if my/our opinion is not in the majority, it is there job to cast the vote that I sent them there to cast. They are indebted to me, not their ego, not their party, not being on the "winning team", not to what is "inevitable". They represent us.
The fact of the matter is they HAVE missed vital votes because they have been out. Or, worse still, they did not weigh in because they lack the courage of conviction to vote on an issue that is going to pass with a majority and they did not want to stand alone. So they sat back and simply did not cast a vote or cast their vote at the very end when it was inevitable which way it was going to go. That is a textbook definition of cowardice, that is what it means, not to lead, but to follow. Having seen what the enlightened policies of the Democratic Coalition of Cowards and Followers has helped get us into, I hardly want to put someone like that in the White House.Edited at 2008-01-26 04:13 am (UTC)
|Date:||January 26th, 2008 06:40 am (UTC)|| |
That's just not how congress works. It's not like everyone shows up waiting in bated breath to see how the vote is going to turn out. In almost every vote, everyone knows how it's going to go well before the ceremony of counting the votes.
For one thing, the bill may be inevitable AND a good bill. Why would you fight against inevitability in such a case? Just to be petulant and contrarian? And the bill may be inevitable simply because no one really cares. Congress passes tons of meaningless bills. You expect every representative of congress to show up to vote on bills "expressing congressional pride in the Arizona alligator lizard" or whatever? That's hardly doing "the job we sent them to do."
Also, Ron Paul is NOT a "peace" candidate. He's a "crazy" candidate. He wants to get us out of Iraq, sure, but only as part of his general crusade of gutting the federal government. He wants to disband the military AND cut all foreign aid; in other words, he wants to piss off the world and then not defend ourselves. Comparing Dennis Kucinich to Ron Paul is doing him a great disservice. I generally like Kucinich; he's a bit too chipper and elfish to be the person who moves the country that far to the left, but I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the country moved that way. Paul, on the other hand, is not principled or idealistic. He's nuts. Paul's kind of libertarianism is secessionism for sissies.
"For one thing, the bill may be inevitable AND a good bill." If there is one thing that the Republican Congress and Democratic Non-Combatant Congress have proven time and time again, it is that they are very very good at producing legislature that is both inevitable AND a good bill... right. Are you honestly suggesting that the 40% of the votes that Obama missed this year have all been stellar and inevitable bills? I guess you are pleased as punch that Mukasey is our Attorney General? They have missed very important votes. They have been out of the building when debates on things like FISA have been going on. They aren't missing Arizona Lizard Appreciation Votes, they are missing votes like, "should this guy be the next attorney general?" And even if the vote in inevitable, I'd sure like to know what Obama or Clinton think of this guy which a vote would succinctly demonstrate.
It is funny that you mention this is how Congress works, I wonder why it is then that Congress didn't seem to work that way when Clinton/Obama/Edwards were NOT running for President. Then they, in fact, managed to show up and vote >98% of the time. It isn't that Congress works that way, it's that they abandoned their posts during election time, all the while telling us they can do both. Joe Libermann refused to give up his seat during the 2000 Election when he was nominated for VP, had he become the VP (Gore did win after all) it would have allowed the republican governor to fill his seat in Congress, rather than have an open election where the Dems at least had a chance. That was a selfish, egotistical, bastard thing to do, and I see very little difference between Libermann's actions and Clinton/Obama. For all their talk about being brave and leader-ly Obama and Clinton are covering their asses just in case they don't make it. Dennis managed to show up and vote and run a campaign and grieve for the loss of his brother. Of course, he didn't have to meet with his handlers, lobbiests, campaign supporters, PAK people, etc.
I sent them there to vote, period. If you could prove that instead of voting on the Arizona Lizard Appreciation Week (which they seemed to vote on prior to running for President -- they did their job then, why not now?) they were doing something constructive rather than hanging out with lobbiests or going on golf trips funded by lobbies.... I mean "fact finding missions" than I would cut them some slack. But the fact is they are missing IMPORTANT votes. Obama wants us to believe he is this master negotiator that can unify the parties, we sure could have used that for the Mukasey vote. Clinton wants us to believe she is this gritty fighter with the political capitol it takes to change minds, sure could have used that during the FISA debates.
Leaders lead. Demagogues go campaigning.