S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Your Congress in Action . . . or Inaction

Perceptions about politicians are measureable. I will vote today, keeping in mind what I worry about. In a recent poll done by the Washington Post and ABCNews, we learned that lots of Americans worry about the ability of Congress and Democrats to do their jobs adequately. We do not think they are carrying their weight. And for members of Congress, negative public opinions must feel like millstones around their necks, particularly this election year. To quote from the WaPo,

Americans . . . expressed disappointment with Congress, which is now controlled by Republicans. Slightly more than a third -- 36 percent -- said they approve of the way Congress is doing its job, down seven percentage points in the past five weeks and the lowest marks for the legislative branch since October 1997. But the survey showed Democrats slipping also. Asked which party they trust to deal with the country's biggest problems, 42 percent said the Democratic Party and 40 percent said the GOP. Barely five weeks ago, Democrats held a 14-point advantage.
Perceptions of Democrats, who have struggled to take advantage of Bush's lack of popularity, declined on several measures. In late January, Democrats held a clear advantage over Republicans -- 55 to 37 percent -- on which party could best handle the economy.
In the new poll, Democrats still led, but by 49 to 40 percent. The survey found a similar shift on Iraq. In January, Democrats had an advantage of 47 to 40 percent on which party could better handle the situation there, but the new poll found Americans evenly divided -- 42 percent on each side -- on that question.

House News - A couple of U.S. House members from California are leaving their jobs. Republican Congressman Bill Thomas is retiring, and ex-Congressman Randy Cunningham has gone to jail. The House and Senate are trying to find ways to secure our ports. And the Patriot Act has been renewed. All this is big, but this is even bigger:

"DeLay, Lobbyists Host Election Night Event" - reads the headline. He will be in Washington busy doing the people's business at a fundraiser held by two lobbyists. He thought it would look bad if he were not in Washington. According to the MyWay News,

The fundraiser is being held by lobbyists Bill Paxon and Susan Molinari, both former members of Congress from New York. The event will raise money for DeLay's re-election campaign. DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty said DeLay would be in Washington for votes and has other events on his schedule including the fundraiser. She said he was unavailable for an interview. Paxon said if DeLay were to go to Texas for the primary, he would be criticized for leaving Washington while Congress was in session. The House is scheduled Tuesday evening to give final approval to the Patriot Act.
Fears of Civil War in Iraq are high and Congress seems paralyzed by ambivalence and inaction, neglect of proper oversight, and fear of confronting our imperial president. In a recent poll done by the Washington Post and ABCNews, a majority of us worries that Iraq will have a civil war. To quote from the WaPo,

War Worries - March 7, 2006; An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq will lead to civil war, and half say the United States should begin withdrawing its forces from that violence-torn country, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey found that 80 percent believe that recent sectarian violence makes civil war in Iraq likely, and more than a third say such a conflict is "very likely" to occur. These expectations extend beyond party lines: More than seven in 10 Republicans and eight in 10 Democrats and political independents say they believe such a conflict is coming.
An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq will lead to civil war, and half say the United States should begin withdrawing its forces from that violence-torn country, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. In the face of continuing violence, half -- 52 percent -- of those surveyed said the United States should begin withdrawing forces. One in six favors immediate withdrawal of all troops, however, while about one-third prefer a more gradual return.
Legislators fear being labeled unpatriotic by the current administration. That has been one of the most effective intimidation tactics of our current (wartime) president. The other tactic is the threat punishment. Congressional Republican leaders and members of the administration are able administer political penalties to transgressors.

The war continues - Every day we must live with the terrible truth that Iraq and Afghanistan are places where people are dying - a lot of people - both military and civilian. Our soldiers are patriots. So, too, should be our legislators in standing for what the American people know. And Congress does nothing to stop it, as they did nothing to prevent the original invasion. Today's headline reads:

Daily Look at Death Toll in Iraq. To quote from an AP story on the MyWay site:

As of Monday, March 6, 2006, at least 2,301 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 1,805 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is about procrastinating and stuff.


Cynical Patriot said...

Approval ratings across the board are down. People are tired of our politicians period. Democrat, Republican. There is no single leader in the country today that inspires us. There's the nagging suspicion that we're caught between the crosshairs of Big Government and Big Business who as of late have become exceptionally difficult to tell the difference in.

Shimmy said...

"Approval ratings across the board are down," Cynical Patriot says, and "people are tired of our politicians period."

And the answer is . . . what? Political quietism?

I guess Iraq must be an unmitigated success: we captured Saddam instead of Osama; we captured Tariq Aziz instead of Ayman Al-Zawahiri; and we finally put away Josef K. for good at Abu Ghraib.

Carol Gee said...

C.P, Your comment gave me the thought that Big Media (MSM as part of Big Business) is also a big part of the problem. The Fourth Estate is not serving us well.
S., We cannot affort to give up. Perhaps the only thing that will bring out appropriate responses is an uproar. By that I mean, high voter turnout - even in the primaries, letters to the editor, joining local political action groups, communicating with your people in Congress, even if they are from the "other" party. Dare we march? That is when our own politicians do something. Look at the port security episode, for instance.