God damnit, the Democratic party needs to grow a pair. They're being led around by the nose by George W. on the Iraq war funding bill:
Democratic congressional leaders on Friday offered the first
concessions in a fight with President Bush over a spending bill for
Iraq, but the White House turned them down.
In a closed-door
meeting with Bush's top aides on Capitol Hill, Democrats said they'd
strip billions of dollars in domestic spending out of a war spending
[bill] that Bush opposed if the president would accept a timetable to pull
combat troops out of Iraq. As part of the deal, Democrats said they
would allow the president to waive compliance with a deadline for troop
But no deal was struck.
And speaking of timetables for surrender, how about this:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said negotiations with the White House
were not dead, but she and Reid made it clear they would proceed this
weekend on their own in drafting a new bill they could be widely
supported in Congress. The leaders said the plan remained to send Bush
a bill by the Memorial Day recess.
"It is clear that the
difference between the president and Democrats is accountability," said
Pelosi, D-California. But ultimately, she later added, "Our troops will
This is absolutely the wrong message to send. The Democrats are telling Bush that if he just hangs tough til Memorial Day, they'll cave in on the issue of troop withdrawals. This is a massive, craven betrayal of the people who put the Democrats in charge of Congress last year.
Pelosi and Reid need to come out and say something like this:
The Congress has passed legislation that will fund the American military presence in Iraq, but the President vetoed it. The Congress has attempted to negotiate with the President on this issue, but the President has refused to accept the will of Congress and the American people that our troops be brought home from Iraq. The Congress has demonstrated that it is willing to fund our continued involvement in the Iraqi civil war up to a certain point, but the President has categorically and arrogantly rejected our efforts.
At this point, the complete responsibility for any failure to fund the Iraq war rests with the President. It is the President who has betrayed our troops in the field and our citizens at home. Congress will remain in session over the Memorial Day weekend and afterwards in hopes that the President will finally come to understand that our troops need to be disengaged from the civil war in Iraq, and sooner rather than later. When he accepts that reality, he will find that Congress is willing to work with him to fund the war effort under a policy of rational disengagement.
Of course, guys like me are not likely to be invited to write speeches for the Democratic Congressional leadership anytime soon.
Unlike the dispassionate liberals I described earlier today, Bill Gallagher is venting his full-throated rage over Bush and the war in Iraq. The whole thing bears reading, but I can't resist quoting this passage here:
Sounding like a third-rate
Shakespeare after downing a quart of Jack Daniels, Bush now says, with
great profundity, of his war of choice, "Either we'll succeed, or we
won't succeed." Bush is dangerous. He is a psychological basket-case
who makes Richard Nixon seem like Mr. Rogers.
At the news
conference, the commander guy introduced his new way of measuring
victory in Iraq: "And the definition of success as I described is,
sectarian violence is down. Success is not no violence. ... But success
is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living
their daily lives."
So, more than
600,000 Iraq civilians and 3,300 American troops have died in pursuit
of an acceptable level of violence. Over a million Iraqis have fled the
nation, apparently not "comfortable" about the living conditions Bush's
military occupation has brought them.
And don't even get me started about what America could have bought for the money we've spent on the war so far.
This article by Bruce Riedel is depressing, but makes many of the same points that have been made by me and others about how Bush's obsession with Iraq and neglect of Afghanistan is allowing al Qaeda to regroup and grow. Here is a sampling of quotes that ought to make anyone serious about protecting the country from a terrorist attack furious with this administration:
Al Qaeda is a more dangerous enemy today than it has ever been before. . . . [T]hanks largely to Washington's eagerness to go into Iraq rather than concentrate on hunting down al Qaeda's leaders, the organization now has a solid base of operations in the badlands of Pakistan and an effective franchise in western Iraq. Its reach has spread throughout the Muslim world, where it has developed a large cadre of operatives, and in Europe, where it can claim the support of some disenfranchised Muslim locals and members of the Arab and Asian diasporas. Osama bin Laden has mounted a successful propaganda campaign to make himself and his movement the primary symbols of Islamic resistance worldwide. His ideas now attract more followers than ever. * * * Decisively defeating al Qaeda will be more difficult now than it would have been a few years ago. * * * With the help of tactical advice and, probably, funds from al Qaeda, the Taliban had already regrouped by 2004. In 2005, bin Laden appeared in a Taliban video advising its commanders. By 2006, the Taliban had recovered sufficiently to launch a major offensive in Afghanistan and even attempted to retake Kandahar. * * * Al Qaeda has also developed closer ties to Kashmiri terrorist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. * * * Overall, al Qaeda quadrupled its output of videos between 2005 and 2006 -- all propaganda instruments, of course, but also a means for the organization's leaders to rally its followers and send them instructions. * * * Al Qaeda has expanded its influence in the Middle East and Europe. * * * Al Qaeda today is a global operation -- with a well-oiled propaganda machine based in Pakistan, a secondary but independent base in Iraq, and an expanding reach in Europe. Its leadership is intact. Its decentralized command-and-control structure has allowed it to survive the loss of key operatives such as Zarqawi. Its Taliban allies are making a comeback in Afghanistan, and it is certain to get a big boost there if NATO pulls out. * * * The challenge of defeating al Qaeda is more complex today than it was in 2001. * * * The focus of Washington's new strategy must be to target al Qaeda's leaders, who provide the inspiration and direction for the global jihad. As long as they are alive and active, they will symbolize successful resistance to the United States and continue to attract new recruits. Settling for having them on the run or hiding in caves is not enough; it is a recipe for defeat, if not already an acknowledgment of failure.
These points should be made repeatedly and forcefully. The administration has made the smug little argument that because there have been no major terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11, the Republicans are being good and careful stewards of our national security. In fact, they are deliberately ignoring real threats and deploying our army in search of imaginary ones.
Rescue crews are making a third sweep of a Kansas town leveled by the most powerful tornado to slam the U.S. in eight years.
Kansas National Guard official Tod Bunting told CNN that some of the
rubble is up to 30 feet deep. Experts from around the state are helping. The tornado's wind was estimated to have reached 205 mph as it carved a track 1.7 miles wide and 22 miles long.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said the state's response will likely be
hampered because much of the equipment usually positioned around the
state to respond to emergencies is in Iraq. That includes things like
tents, trucks and semitrailers.
But wait! According to Clinton's aides, deauthorization wouldn't really mean ending the war at all:
Later, however, her aides said Mrs. Clinton was not seeking a total
withdrawal of troops from Iraq, or a quick pullout that could put
troops at risk. They said she had called for a phased pullout that
would leave a reduced American force to pursue terrorist cells in Iraq,
support the Kurds and conduct other missions -- a position she
continued to support, her aides said.
At best, this latest episode can be read as seeking to revoke
Bush's authority to end the war entirely, even if she believes her
superior management skills would mean that remaining troops in Iraq
would be successful if she was President. At worst, this is simply
another case where a top-tier Democratic presidential candidate is
misrepresenting his or her position on Iraq. Tell the base on the stump
that you are going to pull out all troops, even if your policy clearly
states that you will "leave a reduced American force to pursue
terrorist cells in Iraq, support the Kurds and conduct other missions."
That is not ending the war--that is just reducing it. And, as we have
covered in the past, it is not just Clinton carrying on this charade.
This continuing dishonesty with the Democratic base on Iraq is
disheartening behavior for our top tier candidates to engage in. It
really makes me feel patronized, and as though they think we can played
for uninformed rubes. They tell us they will end the war, and then lay
out continuing missions for American troops in Iraq that will require
tens of thousands of soldiers. We have 160,000 soldiers in Iraq
now--how many will be required to "pursue terrorist cells in Iraq,
support the Kurds and conduct other missions"? 10,000? 30,000? 75,000?
I don't know, but I do know that the mission Clinton lays down for the
reduced troop force she wants in Iraq sounds a lot like Bush's, only
without the democracy part.
It really pisses me off that few members of the media more prominent
than myself are calling out the leading Democratic candidates on this
matter. To date, about the only commenter I have even seen mention it
on television was actually Peter Bienart. There are those of you who
might argue that I am somehow sowing Democratic disunity by
consistently bringing this up, but a primary is when we should be
debating internal differences like this. It matters a lot to me that
some Democratic candidates, like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, want
to keep, say, 30,000 troops in Iraq, whereas John Edwards and Chris
Dodd might only want 10,000, and Bill Richardson wants none.
Bowers is absolutely right about the weaselly perfidy of Clinton's bait-and-switch stance on Iraq. One can almost see her wet finger pointed skyward. He's right too that the Democrats should be pressed a lot harder to detail their views on Iraq. Nevertheless, deauthorization/defunding is an either/or dilemma (not that Bowers implied that it was). The Democrats--and courageous anti-war Republicans--should do both those things, and more.
It's a mistake for Democrats to look for a single silver bullet that can stop our involvement in the war. Bringing the troops home is going to be accomplished through accretion, a layering on of all kinds of different tactics. So by all means, let's encourage Clinton in her arrival at the deauthorization party. Recognize, though, that it will take that and a whole lot more to bring the troops home. Democrats should deauthorize, defund, impose withdrawal timetables, go to court to challenge the President's legal authority to deploy National Guard troops, demonstrate, strike and impeach (if necessary). Bush has said repeatedly that it's going to be a long war, with many ups and downs. The fight against the war will necessarily be likewise.
Why don't we just tax every single American taxpayer for the $5oo billion cost of the war in Iraq?
He calculates that cost to be about $5,000 per taxpayer. Of course, the indirect costs of the war will be several times that.
We're paying for it anyway, why not put it in our tax
returns so that we're forced to see exactly how much the Republicans'
little patriotic venture in Iraq is costing every American taxpayer.
Most Americans have no idea what the costs of this war are, in lives,
in money, in national prestige. But the one thing we can show, quite
personally, is the cost in dollars.
And here comes the kicker, the line that ought to be in every Democrat's campaign speech, the argument that should be deployed every time the GOP tries to arouse people's fears that it is the Democrats who will raise their taxes:
The Iraq war is the biggest tax increase in American history.
Hell yeah. I'd take it the next rhetorical level, too: by refusing to raise taxes now to pay for the Iraq war, the Republicans are taxing our children so that their mothers and fathers can be blown to pieces by IED's. Taxing our children: didn't the Republicans used to be the party of fiscal responsibility?