Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Will House Democrats Join With Republicans To Escalate In Afghanistan?


The White House is trying to bum rush tens of billions of dollars through Congress to fund the Afghanistan escalation without a debate on the war. But Bush is gone. And Hope and Change are here. Right?

I recall when President Clinton, a former DLC Chairman, had decided to move the first President Bush's catastrophic NAFTA legislation-- that did so much to accelerate the destruction of the U.S. manufacturing base-- through Congress, he couldn't find enough Democrats to join with the Republicans to pass this obvious disaster-in-the-making. So he turned to a little-known, vicious pitbull in his political department and asked him to do whatever he had to do to round up the Democratic votes needed to turn the GOP minority into a majority. When the vote came, on November 17, 1993, most Democrats voted against NAFTA but that little-known, vicious pitbull Clinton sent up to the Hill oversaw a bloc of 102 Democrats to join almost all the Republicans to pass the bill. That vicious pitbull, by the way, was Barack Obama's first appointment after he was elected, the current Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.

Last June he was at it again-- this time on behalf of the war supplemental budget-- bribing and beating up Democrats to vote for more money to occupy Afghanistan-- even going so far as organizing primaries against at least one of the 32 courageous Democrats who voted against the supplemental (Donna Edwards).

As David Swanson pointed out at After Downing Street, "The U.S. Constitution leaves the decision to wage war to Congress, and Congress can enforce its decision not to wage war by refusing to fund it." Will more than the same 32 Democrats stand up to Emanuel's bullying and rush through the billions and billions of taxpayer dollars to escalate an unwinnable and pointless war? Well, it looks like there will be far more than the first 32. Many Democrats are calling for a war tax to pay for any expenses instead of foisting it-- and the immense interest payments it will generate for the bankster class-- off onto future generations the way Bush did. But paying for the war will lose Republican votes. So Obama is just going to pull off the mask entirely now and expose us to the misery of seeing he really is just Bush-Cheney all over again? Maybe on the jetway as he gets off the plane in Oslo tomorrow?
Funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is included in the Defense appropriations bill this year. The Defense bill likely will be wrapped into a huge omnibus spending measure, a technique Congress uses when it needs to quickly clear a huge backlog of unfinished appropriations work.

And because the Defense spending bill does not limit troop levels, Obama can use the money to send more troops to Afghanistan. By the time the money runs out this spring, many of the new troops will already be in place when Obama asks for another $30 billion or so.

While some Democrats have pointed to the spring vote as the key vote for or against the surge, some liberal Democrats intend to make a stand on the issue now, including Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.). Grijalva spokesman Adam Sarvana said the Congressman plans to vote against the omnibus and rally opposition to the war funding in it.

It’s not clear how big of a problem the nascent progressive revolt will be; just 23 House Democrats voted against the Defense spending bill in July.

“There were also a lot of Members who wanted to give Obama a chance to lay out a better course and who are not likely to continue necessarily to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Darcy Burner, executive director of the American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation, a policy group allied with the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Nevertheless, leadership is considering a legislative maneuver that would split the Defense bill into a separate vote on the House floor as they try to wrap up a catch-all year-end omnibus spending bill. House liberals could then vote for the domestic spending items they support, and Republicans could help carry the Defense spending.

Blue America's No Means No page is raising money to support the Democrats, like Donna Edwards, Alan Grayson, Barbara Lee, Eric Massa, Carol Shea Porter, Lloyd Doggett, etc, who already voted against the June supplemental. And we're willing to add new members to the list. All they have to do is get up on the floor of the House and make a barn-burning anti-war speech pledging to vote against this travesty that is alienating the grassroots Democratic base from the Inside the Beltway establishment Obama leads. Here's a good example from Rep. Mike Quigley, ironically, the congressman who won Emanuel's Chicago seat when he left Congress to work in the White House again:

We'll be working on bring along more and more Democrats to stand up to this gigantic mistake. But speaking of "irony," in two days Obama will be swinging by Oslo to pick up his shiny new Nobel Peace Prize.
When Obama won the prize in October, you had to wonder whether the self-esteem movement, where every kid gets a trophy, had made its way from little league to the Nobel Committee. Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr.-- and a guy running two wars, who'd been president for two weeks when nominations closed?

Despite the committee chairman's defensive insistence that Obama "got the prize for what he has done," clearly it was awarded for what the committee hoped he might do (which is rather like giving a physics Nobel to a guy who hopes he'll invent cold fusion).

Well, if the committee hoped a pre-emptive prize would influence Obama's behavior, they must feel pretty silly right now. On Dec. 1, the former surge critic spoke at West Point, defending his decision to throw 30,000 more troops into an unpopular, unwinnable, and unnecessary war.

Sure, the president packaged the decision as part of a plan to "begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011." But that's not the beginning of a genuine withdrawal. It's, er, an "inflection point," according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, at which, maybe, "some handful, or some small number" will be able to come home.

If we're lucky, maybe as many troops as the president just surged, but "it's hard to envision that conditions [will allow] a further withdrawal beyond that," says another senior adviser. "We're going to be in the region for a long time," says National Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones.

That's not a popular policy. Nearly 70 percent of Americans in a new CBS News poll think the war is going badly, and the latest numbers from Pew show the largest share of respondents favoring a drawdown.

UPDATE: This Morning Dennis Kucinich Is Offering A Resolution To End The War

Kucinich was up on the floor of the House early this morning railing against the escalation in Afghanistan and today he's asking his colleagues to sign his priviledged resolution (below):

click to read

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At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Kucinich. Him and Sanders are the only ones with guts up on that hill. Do we really need to escalate combat and commit more troops into a war that has no end in sight? How about all of the innocent lives lost already in the name of "fighting terror", "freedom", and "American values".
genocide in afghanistan

At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

Kucinich is really a bright spot here in Ohio, though it's not really that unexpected--Cleveland, especially the older, poorer areas, are very galvanized by citizen volunteer groups, and strongly supportive of progressive candidates like Kucinich. The problem is that there aren't enough of people like him, or Grayson, or Sanders. I wonder what would happen if tomorrow all the lobbyists' perks and funding of Congress were forbidden, and their access was strictly limited and monitored? Would we suddenly see the IQ of the average congressperson rise by 50 points?

My guess is that we'd see a mass exodus from Congress of fat cats. Might be interesting to see if a meritocracy stood a chance of forming.

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you say Down with Tyranny in one breath and then in the next support Democrats. They have done more in a year to usurp American rights than the entire 8 years of Bush who also sucked. But facts are facts and you are ignoring them straight into slavery.


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