category

Tag Archives | Congress

Public thinks chimps would govern better than Congress

Hi, I'm the new Senate Majority Leader you've been waiting for. (wikimedia.org)

Ok, it’s not quite that bad, but close.

A new poll says a mere 5% think Congress is doing a good job with a plurality saying most members of Congress are corrupt.

43% in another poll think random people chosen from a phone book would do a better job than the current Congress.

Disgust with corrupt governments is how rebellions are formed. Sometimes they topple governments too.

End gridlock in D.C. No Labels 12 point plan

I was on the No Labels blogger conference call yesterday mostly out of curiosity, wanting to see what they’re doing which, as it turns out, is quite a lot.

Four senators and two members of the House were at their press conference yesterday lending support to their 12 point plan. It’s simple, makes sense, and can be implemented by Congress today without passing laws. It would reduce gridlock hugely. No Labels say quite a few members of Congress agree something needs to be done, and fast as the current gridlock is the worst since the 1890’s.

Highlights of the No Labels plan:

  • No budget, no pay. California did this. It works.
  • Fix the filibuster. No filibusters on motions to proceed and make them real. You want a filibuster, you must physically occupy the podium.
  • Presidential nominations must be voted on in 90 days or the confirmation is automatically approved.
  • Three weeks in DC then one week home for all members of Congress. It’s a job.Everyone works the same hours.
  • Allow a bipartisan majority to force bills out of recalcitrant committees and onto the floor.

There’s more. I encourage you to read them. They are easily understandable and most anyone, I think, will agree with most of them. And they have support from members of Congress too. Let’s make them happen.

Forget the Generals, Americans are committed to Ending War

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

General Petraeus began his rogue propaganda tour earlier this week, and it’s caused quite a stir among policy wonks about the crisis in civilian-military relations. Bernard Finel and Jason Fritz, in particular, have had a fascinating discussion on the origins of the civ-mil crisis. I admit the crisis is deeply troubling, certainly for a President struggling against a reputation for weakness. But I took a slightly more stubborn line to the renegade Petraeus:

We’ve heard this propaganda from Petraeus before, it’s nothing new. They’ve been shoveling this garbage on us for years. Now the majority of Americans are pushing for an exit, and no matter what any rogue general says, we’re ending the war in Afghanistan.

In other words, bring it on. Well, Petraeus did bring it, and now we have our first public poll conducted (partially) after his campaigning began. As expected, he’s failing.

A majority of Americans see no end in sight in Afghanistan, and nearly six in 10 oppose the nine-year-old war as President Barack Obama sends tens of thousands more troops to the fight, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

With just over 10 weeks before nationwide elections that could define the remainder of Obama’s first term, only 38 percent say they support his expanded war effort in Afghanistan – a drop from 46 percent in March. Just 19 percent expect the situation to improve during the next year, while 29 percent think it will get worse. Some 49 percent think it will remain the same.

Even a heavy media push by Petraeus can’t deter the movement to end the war. When they sell us war, we push back. We’re done listening to this nonsense about “oil spots” or progress or breaking Taliban momentum or whatever it is they’re hocking this week. We’re ending the war, period. Continue Reading →

Obama can’t control his Generals – Time for Congress to step in

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

One of the best parts of learning about foreign countries and their cultures is the sudden realization that these places aren’t actually foreign at all. You’re not studying an opaque alien world, you’re only looking in the mirror. As Americans, it fills us with hope to look across at, say, our progressive allies in Pakistan and note that they’re working hard, just like us, to correct and reform their country’s policies. But are we also capable of seeing the negative parallels? It’s all well and good to lecture the Pakistanis about total military subservience to a strong civilian government, but what about our own weak President and our own anti-democratic generals?

American military officials are building a case to minimize the planned withdrawal of some troops from Afghanistan starting next summer, in an effort to counter growing pressure on President Obama from inside his own party to begin winding the war down quickly.

With the administration unable yet to point to much tangible evidence of progress, Gen. David H. Petraeus, who assumed command in Afghanistan last month from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, is taking several steps to emphasize hopeful signs on the ground that, he will argue, would make a rapid withdrawal unwise. Meanwhile, a rising generation of young officers, who have become experts over the past nine years in the art of counterinsurgency, have begun quietly telling administration officials that they need time to get their work done.

When something like this happens in Pakistan, we completely lose our s**t and call them a failed state, a tyrannical dictatorship, a collapsing nuclear-armed time bomb full of apocalyptic religious fanatics and corrupt, out-of-touch plutocrats. When it happens here, it’s called a “media blitz.” Oh you know, General Petraeus is just out there to “counter the growing pressure” by the American people, and hopefully force the Commander-in-Chief’s hand on war making policy. The young officer corps is simply pressuring your elected politicians to give them more time to occupy foreign lands and engage in aggressive wars. Totally normal, everything is fine.

It’s time for Congress to wake up. Petraeus needs to be reminded of exactly who he works for. The generals don’t tell us what to do, we tell them what to do. This is not Pakistan, this is the United States, and if President Obama is too weak to preserve our civilian-military order, then Congress is obligated to enforce its constitutional authority over the power – and the purse – of war. Continue Reading →

Mujahideen Victory Day: Afghans still voiceless decades later

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Happy Mujahideen Victory Day! This is the national holiday when Afghans celebrate their victory over the communists in the 1980’s. We remember the Mujahideen of course, they’re the folks we gave all that CIA training and Stinger missiles to kill Soviets with. We all at least saw the film version of Charlie Wilson’s War, right?

Basically the historical narrative is that the Soviet superpower (who incidentally invaded in the name of democracy and development), the bad guys, are defeated by the heroic Americans, the good guys, who saved the hapless, incoherent hillbillies, the Afghans, by giving them lots of weapons to kill each other with. Yay for freedom fighters! The danger, our story warns, is that we abandoned Afghanistan after Mujahideen Victory Day, causing America to become the victims. Blowback! Poor, foolish America should have interfered more with Afghanistan I suppose. But we’re ignoring the Afghan version of history, and completely missing the point of Mujahideen Victory Day. Continue Reading →