Funny how "moderate" Democrats tend to act like….you know, "moderate" Democrats when faced with genuine Left opposition. It’s not so funny, though, when putatively "liberal" groups start triangulating.
Richard over at American Leftist has a series of posts about the mendacity of the group MoveOn.org when it comes to attempting to neuter opposition to the dead-center politics of "mainstream" Democrats…especially on the issue of the Iraq War. It seems that the "centrists" — led by Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the head of the House Democratic Caucus — are attempting to nuke more liberal and substansial legislation to cut funding and force withdrawal of troops from Iraq, as well as prevent substansial opposition to any prospective invasion of Iran. To that end, Emanuel has been using both his power of the purse to threaten more liberal members with loss of funding for pet funding projects in their districts….and the pressure tactics have generally succeeded in intimidating most Democrats into submission…but with some notable and courageous exceptions (original citation from politico.com; emphasis added by Richard):
The most outspoken critics of the $124 billion wartime spending bill in the House are facing withering support in their fight to defeat it.
California Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey said that many of their liberal colleagues were caving under pressure from Democratic leaders who, according to at least one congressman, have threatened to block requests for new funds for his district.
They also cited MoveOn.org’s endorsement of the measure Monday as a blow to their efforts.
"For people who are undecided and looking for a reason to vote for the supplemental, MoveOn is going to make a difference, providing instant cover for these members," Woolsey said.
"In six months, I fear they will be really sorry because the president isn’t going to do what they want," she added, referring to waivers in the bill that allow the president to circumvent certain requirements.
"The supplemental" is a reference to a massive supplemental spending bill that is now being debated in Congress which includes, among other things, continued funding for the war in Iraq at the present levels, and would allow Dubya "flexibility" (read, a blank check) to circumvent rules and requirements and benchmarks. Most of the antiwar liberals wanted originally wanted to use the supplemental to cut off funding and place restrictions ultimately leading to a withdrawal of troops….but that grates in the side of "centrists" like Emanuel who really aren’t so opposed to the war in Iraq and invading Iran as they envy Dubya’s management of the war (and the largesse).
Where does MoveOn,org get into this: Well, read on:
"MoveOn put out a dishonest poll that did not offer its members a real choice to end the war, and now the peace movement is lobbying activists to reform MoveOn or drop off its list," David Swanson, a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, said in an e-mail to The Politico. "I unsubscribed from MoveOn this morning."
In the poll, MoveOn.org gave its members a choice of supporting, opposing or being "not sure" of the plan proposed by the Democratic leadership, according to an e-mail sent to members Sunday by MoveOn.org official Eli Pariser.
It did not mention a more aggressive withdrawal proposal backed by Woolsey, Waters and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).
Pariser said MoveOn.org had held out as long as possible before backing the leadership proposal.
"We were basically declining to take a position as long as we could to strengthen the hand of the progressives. We did the poll at the last time we felt we could have an impact on the final vote."
He said he would support the progressive proposal if it came to a vote. "We’ll encourage people to vote for that and for the supplemental," he said. "We are trying to end the war. That’s the mandate."
Yeah, right…."end the war" by supporting a bill that allows the President to ignore its key restrictions, and keep the money flowing.
Of course, the bill will still probably be vetoed by Bush and attacked by Repubs as "typical liberal cut-and-run"…but, you know, we just gotta win back those good old "swing voters" and NASCAR dads who might be swayed by Karl Rove’s attack ads, do we?? And how in the hell does undercutting Waters and Lee (who, last time I saw opinion polls, represented the view of the overwhelming majority of public opinion) "strengthen progressives"….by feeding them to the lions???
Richard says all that is needed to say about this, so I’ll just quote him verbatum:
First things first: Eli Pariser, go fuck yourself.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s acknowledge the enormity of what the House Democrats are about to do. They are going to give Bush a blank check to continue the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, with cosmetic timetables for withdrawal designed to deceive the public into believing that they oppose Bush’s policy. They have provided funding for military operations that can be expanded into an attack upon Iran, as they stripped the bill of language that would have required congressional approval.
In effect, as noted here last week and recognized by Pat Buchanan today, they have green lighted such an attack by adopting a Zionist exemption to the requirement that Congress declare war. In the post-9/11 world, the passage of this bill exposes bipartisan support for overt military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, probably, Iran, with covert operations in Lebanon and Palestine. In short, US war from the beaches of Beirut to the border of Pakistan (and, possibly, even beyond, into the tribal regions of Pakistan itself).
[…quotes from military generals who oppose escalation snipped, see the original article…]
But people like Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel, Eli Pariser, and others in the leadership of MoveON.org, such as Joan Blades, could care less. Self-assured in the belief that they will not personally experience the consequences, they reduce the death and destruction associated with these current and probable future conflicts to political opportunism. Death, torture, brain injuries, loss of limbs, sexual assault, post-traumatic stress, that’s for Iraqis, Afghans and enlistees in the Marines, the Army and the Guard, while they fantasize about exploiting the victimization of others for electoral success and the joys of patronage.
As for MoveON.org itself, perhaps it is time to consider public confrontation and humiliation. The next time we learn of a purported MoveON.org antiwar event, like a vigil, or other such cynical nonsense, we might want to stop by and tell the participants, politely, of course, that we know that they, and the organization that they have affiliated themselves with, are the worst sort of hypocrites, professing a morality that conceals the most crass self-interest.
Public confrontation and humiliation…..and, perhaps, a REAL Left independent political party which isn’t controlled by corporate war profiteers or right-wing Likud Lobby fascists or "centrist" shysters.
In an earlier post, Richard channels an essay from CounterPunch depictiing the ill tactics of MoveOn to further rip them an new orfice (my apologies for the full quotation, but the entire quote is worth viewing):
For the introductory post on this subject, go here, just down below. Now, here’s more, from Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber over at Counterpunch:
On Sunday, MoveOn distributed a survey asking its members to vote on three options: support the Pelosi bill [the supplemental]; oppose it; or "not sure." MoveOn’s Eli Pariser described the survey in an email as an opportunity for members to participate in "a big decision coming up this week. … MoveOn is a member-directed organization – we believe that all of us, together, are smarter than any one of us." In fact, however, MoveOn’s survey was designed to conceal from its members the option of supporting the stronger anti-war amendment put forth by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. [The Lee/Waters amendments]
There are, of course, other ways of running a survey. When TrueMajority.org recently surveyed its members about the best way forward, they offered three choices: the Lee plan, the Pelosi plan, and the option of demanding that Congress reject any further war funding, period. Only 24 percent of TrueMajority’s members supported the Pelosi plan – which appears to be the reason why MoveOn’s survey gave their members no choice but the Pelosi plan.
Even MoveOn’s rules for the war’s fourth-anniversary candlelight vigils expressly exclude anything specifically aimed at ending it. "There are many ways to commemorate the war anniversary – but MoveOn and other coalition members are coming together around solemn candlelight vigils," explains their website. "Events other than vigils that honor the sacrifice of our servicemen and women and their families will not be publicly posted here."
The fascinating aspect of this kind of message board control and survey manipulation, which, by the way, is nothing new, is the extent to which it creates the illusion that MoveON.org is an organization that makes decisions according to a process of grassroots consensus.
In fact, MoveON.org, to cite Noam Chomsky, manufactures consent within the boundaries established by Pariser, Joan Blades and their allies within the Democratic Party. It is the political equivalent of an astroturf group, a fake grassroots organization created by a corporate lobbyist or public relations firm to create the impression that the agenda of their client has broad based public support. One wonders the extent to MoveON.org has engaged in similar survey practices on issues such as health care (has MoveON.org surveyed its members about the suitability of a single payer system?) and media consolidation to align its grassroots base with the carefully calibrated policy decisions of the Democrats.
It is especially ironic, because liberals, as a means of concealing their inability to participate in any movement that supports the Palestinians, consistently reviles ANSWER for being a hierarchical organization that makes decisions and imposes them upon participants according to a vanguardist Marxist-Leninist model. Or, to put it more bluntly, ANSWER is Stalinist.
Yet, with MoveON.org, Pariser, Blades and the Democrats have implemented a Marxist-Leninist approach to political organization that has been far more effective than ANSWER could ever imagine. MoveON.org is basically the liberal wing of the Democratic Leadership Council, making sure that liberals, if they were so inclined, do not wander too far away from the pro-war, pro-business platform of the party. Just remember, when the attack upon Iran happens, MoveON.org played an important role in manufacturing liberal consent to finance it.
Actually, that would be kinda unfair to most Marxist-Leninsts…at least they oppose the war on fundamental principle.
Ahhh, the wonders of "lesser evil" politics….