Thursday, January 04, 2007

Good For Cindy

I am sure that the incoming Democratic political leadership intends to deal with the antiwar folk in much the same way the Republicans have traditionally done with pro-lifers: pander for votes in September/October of even-numbered years, and otherwise studiously ignore the riffraff. Ms. Sheehan seems to be treating the weasels as what they are:
While discussing the Democratic ethics legislation, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Caucus chairman, was interrupted by anti-war protestors lead by Cindy Sheehan, a well-known activist whose son was killed in Iraq.

After the protestors' shouts drowned out Emmanuel's several attempts to quiet the crowd and resume speaking, he and other Democratic leaders cut off the press conference.

Sheehan said that she was joined by 70 protestors to hold the Democrats accountable, saying they are pressing incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the new Democratic leadership to stop authorizing additional funds for the Iraq war.

"We want accountability," she said. "We just buried a president who did not hold another president accountable for war crimes and that's why we're in Iraq right now. Our leaders who get us into these messes are the ones who need to be held accountable."

Sheehan said any additional authorizations would make the Democrats "co-conspirators" with the Republicans.

"There is already enough money in their killing budget to bring the troops home," Sheehan said.
Indeed, there's many times the requisite amount of money in the Pentagon's budget. Unfortunately, we'll continue to be reminded of how microscopic the operational difference between an elephant and a donkey really is.


libhom said...

Personally, I will cut off campaign contributions to any House or Senate member that fails to vote to cut off funding for the war.

Bartleby said...

Good idea. It won't work for me, though ... you have to make a campaign contribution in order to cut them off.

By the way, I see in today's news that the New Democratic Congressional Leadership is "urging" Bush not to do a troop surge in Iraq. Urging, that is. These worthless poseurs hold the power of the purse, but they don't use it ... they "urge." Sweet.

Andrew Kaduk said...

"Cutting off funding" for our troops would be a cowardly, back-door way for pressure to be applied to El Presbo. It basically would be the equivalent of handing our service men and women a flaming bag of excrement.

If complete withdrawal is the goal, then it must be accomplished without using underhanded tricks that harm everyone but Bush. For example, a vote could be called for a pull-out...but the last time that happened, I think it only got FOUR yea votes. 1....2.....3....4. You want out? it by way of unmasked legislative decree. Don't do it by screwing-over the poor bastards that are sitting in the line of fire...they're not in this conflict for the reasons that cause political discontent...they are there because it's their job.

Let me put this a different way. If a business owner wants his customer service department to work different hours or to work from a different location, it is not accomplished by refusing to buy them staples, pens etc. or by neglecting to pay the phone bill. Granted, it's a trivial example...

Bartleby said...

Andrew, I cannot disagree more completely. What the Congress should have done, starting back in 2003, is:

1. Pass a "resolution" saying that Bush can do whatever he wants to defeat a tactic (t'rr'sm)? No; instead, given the way Bush and the various agents of Israeli influence were talking, pass a resolution informing the president that we've decided to go back to being a constitutional republic again, and warning him that starting a war without the sort of real, actual, congressional declaration of war (you know, what there hasn't been one of since late 1941) would be a very bad thing, as in cause for immediate impeachment. And then, follow through on that promise if necessary, which it very likely would not have been.

But they didn't do that, and so there was the invasion. Ever since then, what the congress should have done was:

2. Repeal, recall, recant, and repudiate the vague and unconstitutional authorization resolution. Replace it with another, informing the president that the grand Mesopotamian adventure is over, and that he has, say, 60 days in which to withdraw all U.S. armed forces from the entire region. Then amend the general defense spending authorization in effect at the time, appropriating some ample sum to cover the costs of an orderly -- but rapid -- withdrawal, and explicitly forbidding any expenditures for any other purpose. If the president tries to pull any of this "signing statement" crap, or gets cute in some other way -- then reach into the impeachment closet and break out the whippin' stick. And, even at this moment, that remains the correct course of congressional action.

And yes, of course they're not going to do that. They won't, because they -- both parties -- view the constitution as a handy roll of toilet paper, just as does prexy.

The power to appropriate -- or to explicitly not appropriate -- money for particular purposes is far from a "cowardly, back-door" way of controlling the government. It is entirely legitimate, entirely constitutional, and historically it is the primary power of our congress or of any other legislature: the power of the purse.

As for handing flaming bags of anything to the troops, a couple of observations. First, contrary to popular opinion, the country does not exist in order to provide soldiers with emotional gratification and self-esteem. Secondly, there shouldn't be any "troops" in Iraq or any of the other hundred-odd foreign locations where they now are; the people in question should be in the U.S., working at manufacturing useful items with which we might trade with foreigners, rather than guarding / policing / intimidating / flattering / killing them. Of course, we don't manufacture any more, since our economy is largely based on bureaucracy, armaments, and -- surprise, surprise! -- astronomical debt. Thirdly, it seems to me that condemning those same troops to tour after tour after deployment, soaking up small-arms fire and homemade explosives in the middle of a civil war -- civil chaos, more like -- among tribes, of which Bush seems to have made a sort of Mr. Magoo, sleepwalker's decision that we should join up with the Shi'a, is pretty much the ultimate flaming sack. The alternative ("Grab your toothbrush and your sidearm, and get on the plane -- we're outta here") doesn't seem like a bad deal to me, by comparison at least.

Andrew Kaduk said...

I feel you, Bartleby. But oddly, after driving a very broad path around my statements, you seem to have (even if by folly) made my point exactly. If I may, I would like to employ one of my favorite logical equations to this (in the classic form of "if...and...then"

IF - as you say, 'there shouldn't be any "troops" in Iraq',

AND - the reason we currently need this massive military budget is to sustain those troops and activities,

THEN - the logical path would be for our legislators to bring the troops home, whereby eliminating the aforementioned need for funding.

Here, let's do one more for giggles!

IF - the majority of Americans are against the Iraq occupation,

AND - legislators actually represent their constiuents, as they suggest during their campaigns,

THEN - a swift withdrawal from Iraq should be a slam dunk.

With Dems in control of both houses, they should not have a problem going nose-to-nose with the Pres on this issue. Also, the fear of political repercussion should be negligible, since according to most reputable (and I use that word loosely) polling data, only 25-30% (depending on where you look) of Americans think that we should just stay there indefinitely. I suspect that the number is actually lower than that, but that is pure conjecture on my part.

Either way, we both, ideally, wish to see this conflict end. I, unlike many of my particular brand of politicos, do not believe that there is such a thing as "winning" in Iraq. If there were, certainly our able military could have formulated a plan and acted upon it by now. I have always been one to believe that if you want something, BUY IT. Everything is for sale, for the right price....including Iraq. I'm not sure shooting the place up was the best path to getting what "we" wanted over there.

Bartleby said...

I don't see that I've "driven around" your statements. And if I've made a point for you, it's different from the one you started out talking about. Your statement with which I took issue was that to use the power of the purse to curtail the Iraq adventure would be "cowardly" and "back-door." Not so, I said: the constitution explicitly assigns the power of appropriation to the congress, and it is their prerogative -- indeed, their duty -- to use it.

As far as I can tell, what you're saying now is that if the congress and its Democratic leadership really wanted out of Iraq, they have the power. I have never disagreed. If they do not use the power, it's because they don't want out of Iraq. Again, I've never said otherwise; I take it for granted that the Democrats and Republicans are merely the administrative subdivisions of the overall War Party. Finally, you seem to be saying that most Americans don't want out of Iraq, and that if they did, we'd be out. Again (this is getting repetitious), I've never said otherwise. I think a very large majority of my countrymen want nothing more than a few extra bucks in their pockets, a big-screen high-def TV, and entertaining things on it -- such as hanging Saddams, outlandish anti-U.S. ragheads getting blown up, and NFL playoff games ("Playoffs? Playoffs? Who's talking about the playoffs???").

You see, I don't think we should avoid making optional wars because a majority of Americans don't want them -- a majority of Americans do, in fact, want them, as long as there's no personal cost. I think we should avoid these wars because these wars are morally wrong. If I am the only one who thinks so ... well, too bad, but I still think so. Heir stehe ich; ich kann nicht anders.