In December 2010, I was involved in a wonderful, though provoking debate about the future of progressive politics in the wake of the November loss of the House of Representatives. In the midst of dealing with the realities that election brought upon the nation, (potential government shutdowns, legislative badgering of the poor and female) it seemed to me appropriate, and uplifting, to return to the lessons I took out of that election.
Of COURSE we need to continue fighting for progressives and progressive policy outcomes at the national level. We will all be better off with better policies from Congress and the President. That being said, the wall off 40 (or more) incorrigibles in the Senate represents a very difficult to breach dam holding back hundreds (no baloney there, the House passed hundreds more bills than the Senate in this past Congress) of pieces of progress on the American experiment.
This of course, begs the question of what we, today, here in Loudoun can do to effect better and more Change at the national level. As I see it there are six specific pressure points on which we can act to yield better outcomes in the medium and long-term.
1. President Obama – We can, and should, exert the pressure of popular Democratic opinion on President Obama. This means letters and resolutions. Sure, some will say that such things “have no effect” but that’s not true. These things have no effect in isolation or limitation. One letter, sent once, is a howl at the moon. A dozen letters, sent monthly, is a demonstration of unity and commitment. One LCDC Resolution, issued alone is a symbolic gesture. A dozen County and City committee resolutions, with similar wording, issued simultaneously is a shot across the bow.
(I, of course, assume that everyone venting their bile at our President has had the decency to let the President himself know how they feel in a letter or at least an email.)
(Great guest post by our friend, and veteran, Tony, I have edited it a bit for clarity – P13)
I was working in the Pentagon as a Department of the Army Civilian on 9/11 and lost two friends and know a retired army officer who is now a legislator in Texas who was severely burned that day. I also know:
1. that Osama bin laden (from Saudi Arabia) was behind these attacks. In fact as I was evacuating the Pentagon I heard two Army officers say that “Osama did this”.
2. that President G.W. Bush said that we wanted Osama “Dead or Alive” as they used to say in the Wild West. (but never could catch him)
3. that somehow Osama got away from us in the Tora-Bora region of Afghanistan.
5. that Osama had no connection with Sadaam of Iraq but for whatever reason we attacked Iraq and lost thousands of troops dead or wounded/mentally and physically.
6. that we have spent trillions of dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
7. that I am proud to have been a member of the military and that the SEALS were outstanding!
8. that President Obama made the right call NOT to release pictures of a dead Osama. It serves no useful purpose and could incite those misguided folks who support Osama to riot in the streets or attack us or our allies. It is enough to know that Justice has been done and fulfilled President Bush’s promise to bring Justice to the Terrorists (As President Bush said after 9/11 “We will bring the Terrorists to Justice or Justice to the Terrorists”).
9. that our current president, Barack Obama, has what it takes to be a leader and our Commander-in-Chief.
10. that we need to THANK our Department of Defense and our commander-In-Chief for keeping our promises.
Now if we could only get Congress to sing God Bless America on the steps of the Capitol as they did after 9/11!
In contrast to the insulting misrepresentations of Rep. Peter King and Rep. Frank Wolf during Thursday’s hearing, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough recognized the tremendous contributions of the American Muslim community to combatting domestic terrorism. From his remarks at the ADAMS Center on March 6:
Imam Magid is among the many Muslim leaders who have been recognized by the Director of the FBI for their efforts to strengthen cooperation between Muslim communities and law enforcement.
To counter the propaganda videos from the likes of al-Awlaki, Imam Magid even joined with other clerics and scholars to make their own videos, which have gone viral, explaining that Islam preaches peace, not violence. Most Americans never hear about these efforts, and, regrettably, they’re rarely covered by the media. But they’re going on every day—and they’re helping to keep our country safe.
Correction below: The New Republic is most definitely not The National Review. I was thinking of an entirely different article. My mistake.
Crossposted at Equality Loudoun.
Frank Wolf thinks that the Justice Department should still be defending Section 3 of DOMA in court:
“Congress has a reason to be concerned” over the Justice Department’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) said Tuesday.
Wolf told Attorney General Eric Holder at an appropriations subcommittee hearing that the Obama administration had abandoned its duty.
“It almost looks like a political decision,” Wolf said. “I think it’s inappropriate and it’s a bad decision.”
I can understand why he’s concerned. It means that if anyone is going to argue in defense of DOMA, it will have to be Congress. That will be an uncomfortable position to be in.
First, let’s clear up any lingering misconceptions resulting from uninformed statements by people who should know better. First, the Obama administration has not stopped enforcing DOMA, nor has DOMA been ruled unconstitutional; second, the decision to no longer defend it only concerns Section 3 of DOMA (the provision that denies federal benefits to same sex couples legally married under state law), not the entire act; third, an executive branch decision to no longer defend a law is not unprecedented; and fourth, the decision does not represent a change in the president’s views (he has always opposed DOMA), only a change in circumstance with regard to the cases under court review.
That change in circumstance is this: in previous cases in which the Justice Department has defended DOMA, the level of scrutiny had already been established by precedent in those courts. In these new cases, it has not. Therefore, anyone in the position of defending the law in these cases must first establish that the lowest level of scrutiny – rational basis review, which basically means that the government doesn’t have to come up with a reason for the discrimination in question – is the appropriate one. What the Justice Department is saying is that they don’t think that can be done anymore, given the changes in the legal landscape since the passage of DOMA in 1996 – but that Congress is welcome to try to do so if that is what they want to do.
That’s how much money Loudoun County has gotten, directly, from the Federal Government since 2002. Most of it has come in the form of earmarks for gang prevention and energy planning or water management. Because we are a leader in so many ways, Loudoun benefits from receiving a very high proportion of Federal dollars compared with our population. As a comparison, Henrico County, another suburban County with a comparable population (~296,000 to Loudoun’s ~301,000), received a little more than $7.1 million in spite of the fact that it is represented by one of the most powerful members of Congress – Eric Cantor.
I got this information from the wonderful, “USAspending.gov” site, which the Obama Administration put in place as part of its government transparency initiative. There’s another good thing the Obama Administration has done with little fanfare and even less credit.This is something to think about as our Republican Congress, and many of their ideological compatriots here in Virginia, prepare to storm the gates of the Federal budget, looking with a jaundiced eye on helping the states. Without that Federal money, Loudoun would have to do without a number of critical services and infrastructure investments, or find an alternative way to pay for them.
For example, it is because of that Federal money that Loudoun County does not actually carry the full costs of its police force. For a decade, Loudoun has been the beneficiary of Department of Justice grants which subsidize the Sheriff’s office. Similarly, our water system has some of its planning and management costs offset by Federal funding.
Lost in the calls for cuts in the “growth of Government” is the fact that that growth often comes in the form of money doled out directly to localities to help cover their costs, and thus subsidizing a lower local tax rate than would otherwise be necessary to maintain the same level of local spending.
Something to keep in mind this year.
(Credit where credit is due, many of these Federal earmarks have come from Frank Wolf.)