Thursday, May 24, 2007

Other Items

The question is not whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid flinched in their negotiations with the Bush administration over the continuation of the Iraq occupation.
They did. Despite some happy talk about benchmarks that have been attached to the Iraq supplemental spending bill that is expected to be considered by Congress this week, the willingness of Pelosi and Reid to advance a measure that does not include a withdrawal timeline allows Bush to conduct the war as he chooses for much if not all of the remainder of his presidency. This failure to abide by the will of the people who elected Democrats to end the war will haunt Pelosi, Reid and their party -- not to mention the United States and the battered shell that is Iraq.
This "compromise" legislation is such an embarrassing example of what happens when raw politics overwhelms principle -- and political common sense -- that House Democrats have divided the $12O billion measure into two sections. That will allow Republicans and sold-out Democrats to vote for the president's Iraq funding, while anti-war Democrats and their handful of Republican allies can vote "no." Then both Democratic camps can vote separately for the second section -- including a federal minimum-wage increase and more than $8 billion in funding for domestic programs -- while Republicans oppose this section.
Presuming that both parts pass the House, they will then be sent to the Senate as a single bill for members of that chamber to accept or reject. The end result of this confusing set of legislative maneuvers will be twofold: Lots of House members will be able to avoid accountability for their votes, while Bush will get his blank check. Even Pelosi says she'll vote against the Iraq funding section of the House bill because it lacks "a goal or a timetable" for extracting U.S. troops from the conflict. But, no matter how she votes, Pelosi will have facilitated a process that gives the president more war funding than he had initially requested
But the real story now is not the refusal of the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate to hold steady in the face of the president's cynical claim that refusing him a blank check to maintain his war through the end of his presidency somehow threatens U.S. troops. That has happened and no matter what games are played with voting procedures, the reality is that the Democratic leadership has failed to lead at the most critical juncture.
The question that remains to be answered is a frustrating but significant one: How many Democrats and responsible Republicans will refuse to accept this ugly political calculus?

The above, noted by Brady, is from John Nichols' "This Is Not a 'Compromise,' It’s a Blank Check" (The Nation via Common Dreams). Skip Carl Hulse's nonsense in the New York Times this morning and read it. "Nonsense?"

Shouldn't a reporter quoting someone be required to know what the person is or is not doing on an issue? Hulse is humping the leg of again and pajama blogger Eli offers to help him toss off but the reality is that on Tuesday WalkOn was e-mailing "Go! Go! Go!" 'activism' e-mails in the afternoon -- at a time when anyone with a pulse was already aware that Dems had caved. Yesterday, after three p.m. EST, WalkOn finally got around to 'weighing in' on the caving. To read Hulse's nonsense, you'd think they were a leader and actually doing something.
Well, Eli probably deserved something after the wet spot Hulse left on his leg. If you think it's too much to expect an organization (supposedly capable of rapid-deployment) to be on the ball, consider that on Tuesday morning Robert Parry's "Grieving Moms vs. Washington Pols" (Consortium News) went up:

But Senate Democrats -- faced with a near-solid phalanx of Republicans standing behind the President -- appear eager to run up the white flag, give Bush pretty much whatever he wants, and break for the Memorial Day recess.
The Democrats didn't help themselves when they started their "negotiations" with the White House by announcing that they would eventually give Bush a bill that was acceptable to him. That's a bit like going into a car dealership, declaring that you intend to pay the full sticker price and then trying to bargain.
Knowing that the Democrats planned to fold -- to avoid accusations that they weren't supporting the troops -- Bush could confidently veto the first war spending bill, which had timelines for withdrawing U.S. combat forces, and threaten to veto any other bill that sought to limit his options.
Bush also has pleased some Democrats by dangling suggestions that he is taking a second look at the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's recommendations from last December. The ISG, which was headed by Bush family lawyer James Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, urged a drawdown in U.S. troops, a focus on training Iraqis and more regional diplomacy.
Annoyed at the implied criticism of his work as "war president," Bush shelved the report and declared that U.S. troops would "stay in Iraq to get the job done." He added, "This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever."
Bush chose a different course. On Jan. 10, he announced a "surge" in U.S. forces, raising troop levels to 160,000 from 140,000. Since then, the administration appears to be inching the numbers even higher while hoping that the creeping escalation doesn’t get much attention.
Second Surge?
But the Hearst newspapers
disclosed on May 22 that "the Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year," to 98,000 from 52,500, boosting the total U.S. military presence to 200,000, according to an analysis of Pentagon deployment orders.

Parry had time to write an article and post it by Tuesday morning (Parry noted by Joan) and WalkOn waited until after 3:00 pm EST yesterday to urge you that time was short! They had time to get giddy and silly with "Go! Go! Go!" (gas gouging in the US). They just had to, apparently, poll before deciding whether to weigh in on Iraq or not. For reality, you can also check out Lewis' highlight, Matthew Rothschild's "Feingold, Kucinich Denounce the Democratic Cave" (The Progressive):

And so the Democrats caved, pathetically, to Bush and to Bush's war.
"It tells American workers that the only way they will get an increase in wages is to continue to support funding the war which is taking the lives of their sons and daughters," Kucinich said.
No amount of extenuation can minimize the fact that the Democrats, who were brought to power in Congress to end the war, have just signed on to another $120 billion for that war.
There is not even a timetable for withdrawal, just 18 benchmarks that the President himself can waive.
What an abdication!
What a capitulation!
Even as U.S. soldiers are increasingly bogged down in Baghdad, even as the death toll of our troops zoomed past the 3,400 mark, the Democratic compromisers in Congress could not find enough spinal fluid to stand tall against Bush and the inevitable you-don't-support-the-troops ads that they fear so much.
Well, they're going to have to summon the courage to withstand those ads at some point, or they'll end up voting for an additional hundred billion dollars down the road.
With this vote, they'll be consigning hundreds of additional soldiers to their deaths.

On Friday, PBS' NOW begins airing in some markets. They'll ponder whether business know-how can save lives in Africa. This isn't the Modern Day Carrie Nations, this focuses on Kenya:

NOW travels to Kenya to investigate an enterprising idea: franchising not burger and donut shops, but health services and drugs in rural Africa. American businessmen are teaming with African entrepreneurs to spread for-profit clinics around the country in the hopes of providing quality, affordable medical care to even Kenya's poorest people. But can they overcome obstacles like extreme poverty, corruption, cheaper fraudulent services, and long distances to establish a sustained solution to a chronic problem?

They've got a new website that goes up tomorrow, click here. Nothing? Did you click early? You did, didn't you. You have to wait until Friday. What you can do now is click here to see a preview at YouTube. I'm not endorsing NOW, to be clear, and if they don't have Iraq as a topic, they will not be noted here again.

Speaking of centrists, remember when right-wing Fred Kagan spun madly on CBS' Face the Nation Sunday and the centrist with Vote for Vets basically took a lengthy nap although he was booked to offer an alternate take? He'd missed his morning session of Yoga Booty Ballet and couldn't question Kagan's spin that the latest version of the year-long 'crackdown' was accomplishing miracles. From Sudarsan Raghavan's "Morgue Data Show Increase In Sectarian Killings in Iraq" (Washington Post):

More than three months into a U.S.-Iraqi security offensive designed to curtail sectarian violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, Health Ministry statistics show that such killings are rising again.
From the beginning of May until Tuesday, 321 unidentified corpses, many dumped and showing signs of torture and execution, have been found across the Iraqi capital, according to morgue data provided by a Health Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. The data showed that the same number of bodies were found in all of January, the month before the launch of the Baghdad security plan.

That was noted by Martha and somebody pass it on to Eaton. Stan wanted it noted that he's supporting Chris Dodd in the Democratic presidential primary. He will have a piece explaining why he thinks Dodd is the best choice in tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin.

And Marcia points out that with Dems caving those who are able to go to DC this summer should consider this from CODEPINK:

Peace Surge: DC Summer Training Sessions
Passionate about ending the US occupation of Iraq? Curious about how Congress works? Join CODEPINK and peace makers from around the country in DC this summer for our Peace Surge: 2 months of week-long activist trainings with daily actions in Congress!

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