Last Word on NDAA: If You Don’t Like it, Stop Helping Right Wingers Win!

See, the problem with us progressives is, many of us think we know all about issues, but we don’t. We get so bogged down in pointless minutiae, we completely lose sight of the issues themselves. The funny thing is, some "progressives" PRIDE themselves for knowing about millions of small details on every issue, at the same time they lose sight of the big picture, and what politics is REALLY about.

Take the NDAA, for example. Oh, my, are some people on the left pissed off about this! It started with the professional left, but a lot of far lefties took up the mantle. 

Oh, my goodness, folks! The entire republic is about to go up in flames because the president might actually be able to imprison some non-citizens indefinitely during a war! Gosh, when has that ever happened, right? And it’s ALL President Obama’s fault! That hopey changey bastard! How DARE he sign a bill that passed with a veto-proof majority in which 2 of its 565 pages were flawed? 

The professional left has been referring to this repeatedly as the “Indefinite Detention Bill.” As I pointed out in a previous post, that’s a dumb name for it, politically speaking. For one thing, those looking for a bill by that name will never find it. The last thing we need, as we try to recruit people to support us (we are doing that, right?), is for them to think we’re making stuff up. But the NDAA also implements the START Treaty that we were so happy about when President Obama signed it. There is also a provision that strengthens whistleblower protections for DOD personnel and contractors. So, here's something to consider: if people who LIKE the more odious provisions of the NDAA called it the “START Treaty Implementation bill” or the “Whistleblower Protection bill, wouldn’t those monikers be just as accurate? More importantly, if President Obama had vetoed the NDAA, wouldn’t they be able to complain because he’d be cancelling those, as well?

We simply have to play politics better. Black and white are NOT the only colors in the rainbow, folks.

There is little to no logic to most of the complaints about this bill. I’m not saying there are no problems with it. Its vagueness does make those provisions troublesome; you’ll get no argument from me on that. The President agreed with this, and even said so in a signing statement he attached to the bill. But the NDAA doesn’t add anything to the law that wasn’t already there when he signed it. Should the AUMF be done away with altogether? Absolutely. But it was passed in 2001, not 2011, and we need an amenable Congress in order to change it, and we don’t have one, thanks to progressives. Democrats and President Obama worked hard to get a bill they could live with, given the makeup of the current Congress, and if you ask me, they got it. No actual change to the law is good, when you have a House dominated by teabaggers.

If you don’t want crappy law, stop letting far right Republicans win.

I can’t believe I keep having to say this to these self-professed “political junkies,” but without playing smart politics, and at least preventing the wrong people from being elected, “progress” will never happen. Two things you have to remember before you make any argument:

  1. Congresspersons are elected democratically by a majority of people who choose to vote, and
  2. Presidents don’t make laws; they execute the laws Congress has made.

In other words, the solution to the problem with the NDAA is right in front of everyone’s face. Get the cranks out of Congress. The solution in 2010 would have been to keep the House in Democratic hands, and make sure 3-4 more Republican Senators lost. Yet, a large group of "progressives" seems to have learned nothing from that debacle. Worse, they seem hell-bent on playing the blame game, somehow thinking that doing so makes them politically smarter than the rest of us. As a former manager, I’ve always found the “blame game” to be pointless. If all you do is run around looking for scapegoats, you never actually accomplish anything. And what makes it mnore pathetic is, they’re not even blaming the right people. Obama didn’t write this crap, and the Democrats in the Senate had to write a bill that was acceptable to both the president and the Republican-led House.

Have any of you complaining actually looked at the House bill? Perhaps you should. Here’s a link to the House version of the bill. Take a good look at this, and consider; this would have been PASSED if we had a Republican Senate and a President McCain looking to be reelected next year and still trying to secure “victory” in Iran (that is an ‘n’ not a ‘q’). He would have happily signed it, just as it is. There is too much lunacy to include even excerpts here, but start at page 567; the “Counterterrorism” section. After you read this monstrosity, and the signing statement, you should be getting down on your knees and thanking the stars above that we have a president with the political ability to get House teabagger Republicans to sign onto a bill with a provision that doesn’t actually change current law. 

No, I'm not a "cultist" for Obama. I wish he didn't have to sign that law. I wish he had a Congress that didn't create such bills in the first place. See, here's the thing; if you keep blaming him and Democrats for everything, then you're going to end up with someone from the GOP Klown Kar in the White House, a Republican House and a Republican Senate. You can't possibly think you're going to get better laws. Ah, but there'll be more to protest, right? Gee whiz; even more fun and games. Screw those 30 million people due to get health insurance in the next year or two,, and we can say goodbye to all of the insurance reforms we've seen. Oh, and millionaires' taxes will probably go down even more, even as they cut back on educational assistance and assistance for the poor. Oh, and we can probably loook forward to war with Iran. But hey; you'll have lots more to protest; isn't that all that matters? 

Progressives don’t have to agree on much. But one thing we have to agree on, because it’s a matter of fact, not opinion, is that the current incarnation of the Republican Party is bad for everyone. They are intent on taking down every progressive reform this country has ever made, and they have to go. If you’re screaming at President Obama because he’s not “progressive enough” for you, consider what he has to work with. And make no mistake; progressives gave him that Congress; he didn’t ask for it.

Elections have consequences, lefties. Because we failed to support Democrats last term, we have a Republican House. That means every single bill that gets to the president’s desk WILL have a right wing tinge; there’s no avoiding it. You don’t get to help a right wing Republican majority take over the House and expect zero consequences. 

If you really care about those people you claim to care about more than yourself, then you'll start trashing right wing Republicans MORE than you trash Obama and the Democrats, because that is how you get better government. 


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  1. There are still large swaths of the Democratic party that have bad neo-liberal ideas. Many establishment Democrats are pro free trade and anti-union for instance. Certainly you can lump guys like Evan Bayh and almost all of the Blue Dogs in that category. These establishment Democrats also insist that you must run and govern in the middle.
    Let’s face it. Our task is as much about taking our party back as it is defeating Republicans. In the short term we need to make sure Obama stays in office so he can make more appointments to the Supreme Court. But we also need to make sure that we infiltrate the party top to bottom so we get the progressive candidates we want and need.

  2. Steve, dude,
    Who the FUCK are you to decide what all progressives/liberals’ values and concerns should be? Hsve you appointed yourself sole arbiter, and anyone who doesn’t comply with that “vision” (the term is used sarcastically) is roundly dismissed?
    As for the budget, one has to be approved to prevent the government from shutting down. So, yeah; it has to pass the House AND the Senate, which means it’ll have a lot of things we won’t like.
    Like I keep saying, and your sorry ass keeps ignoring, if you don’t like the bills, then get a better Congress. But you don’t get to keep helping neocon assholes win elections, and then whine when they act like neocon assholes…

  3. Way to criticize an administration for a bill that doesn’t exist yet. Nothing like substituting your own imagination for reality. But hey, if it follows The Narrative.

  4. If you don’t want crappy law, stop letting far right Republicans win.
    C’mon — you’re kidding, right? You actually think the Obama administration and the establishment wing of the Democratic party represent the values or concerns of progressives and liberals?
    I eagerly await your excuses for the Republican-lite budget the administration is about to propose. The one they just warned the Left that they wouldn’t like, but you know, it’s the best they can do, so we should just shut the fuck up.

  5. Amnesty International has decried this bill as applying to US citizens. The ACLU stated “The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA.” – in regards to the final version of this bill. The experts at Lawfare blog and the Verdict (Justia) have broken the NDAA down in detail- and recognized it’s application to US citizens. Even the Daily Show did a bit about the bill applying to US citizens. The bill is purposefully vague and so confusion is understandable – but when are you going to correct your now obvious mistakes in interpreting the NDAA?

  6. Protest surely provides the same kind of hormonal high that a lot of people got from Make-Believe Obama during the 2008 campaign. There’s probably a connection; boosting and voting for the best practical choices isn’t likely to provide that high.
    It occurs to me that among people who seek such a high you might find an increased rate of THC abuse. 🙂 I smiley that but am serious as well.
    (I am an abuser of Camellia sinensis, with matching personality traits, which are different, such as a propensity to study mathematics and exegetical hermeneutics.)

  7. Another excellent post as usual, Milt. One of the other points that none of the people screaming that he should have vetoed it miss is that it passed with a “veto proof” majority in both houses. That means that no, they’re weren’t going to rework the bill, they weren’t going to sustain the veto. They’d have just voted to override and gone their merry way.
    Which would have played into the Pro Left’s narrative of Obama as a “weak” president, because after all, he couldn’t even make a veto stick. That he’d have done what they asked would have been totally ignored. Even if Congress had upheld the veto, they’d be on a tear about “oh, he doesn’t care about the soldiers!” along with feeding the Republicans red meat.

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