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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Do Nothing Congress -- But in a Good Way

The occupation of Iraq goes on. And on and on and on and on. The news barely reports on the violence there anymore. It's daily and constant and has become like wallpaper; we see it constantly, but we don't see it anymore. It's just there. We don't see it because we've become used to it.

Consider just this snippet, from Reuters' Iraq Factbox:

DIWANIYA - Seven policemen were killed when their vehicle was hit by a powerful roadside bomb east of Diwaniya, 180 km (110 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

Now, imagine that had happened in, say, Duluth. It'd be breaking news on every network. But it didn't, so it's not. It's something that happened very far away to people you'll never know. It's just that wallpaper. It doesn't mean anything.

But it's our fault. There were no roadside bombs in Iraq before we went there. This is a direct result of our actions. Pro-war types will argue that people die in war and that, because of this fact, we can't be responsible for every death. But that argument is deeply flawed and dishonest. When you take a course of action in which you know -- without any doubt at all -- that people will die, you can't later say that you aren't responsible for those deaths. Yet that's what we're told. That the violence is a reaction to our actions is supposed to be irrelevant. We are innocent.

We're always being told that things are getting better, but it's never as good as pre-war Iraq. Think about that. Saddam Hussein ran a safer nation than we can provide Iraqis. If the average Iraqi hated Saddam, what the hell must they think of us?

There's a solution to all of this. And the first step is to get the hell out. As The Nation's John Nichols puts it, "[T]he time has come to stop the senseless killing and maiming of young Americans in a distant civil war. The time has come to end what is by any honest measure a colonial occupation and to allow Iraqis to decide their own destiny. The time has come to restore a measure of balance and decency to American foreign policy."

The time has come for a compliant Congress to get up off their asses and do something. Or, more specifically, do something by refusing to do something. That's what 89 members of the House of Representatives have promised to do. Nothing.

But the right kind of nothing.

89 reps have signed a letter to President Bush vowing "that they will only support appropriating additional funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of our troops out of Iraq before you leave office."

The President can't veto what never gets to his desk. For all the talk about a "veto-proof majority," a simple majority is all it takes to end the war. Without money, Bush's war can't be fought. And all Congress has to do is vote down any appropriation that doesn't include a date for withdrawal.

This isn't much of a gamble, politically. A recent poll asked respondents, "President Bush wants Congress to approve a $200 billion dollar request to continue funding the Iraq war and keep the troops in Iraq. Should Congress: vote against the $200 billion funding request; vote for the $200 billion funding request without conditions; or vote for the $200 billion funding request, but specify that it can be used ONLY to protect US troops and contractors and bring them home, rather than to continue the war?"

"We found that fully 70 percent of those surveyed rejected giving the President further funding for Iraq without conditions," say Rep. Barbara Lee. "And people favored requiring funds be spent on redeployment over providing the administration funds without conditions by a two to one margin."

Only 22% supported unconditional funding. As always, the public is way out in front of this Congress.

It's not surprising, when you look at the signatories to the letter, that House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi's name is missing. Not surprising, but disappointing. I'm getting used to being disappointed in Democratic leadership, just as I've gotten used to hearing reports of violence and death in Iraq. It'd be nice if we got something approximating leadership from the leadership.

Pelosi -- like far too many Democrats and Republicans -- needs to embrace reality. Bush will not end this war unless he's forced to. Nothing on Earth, no matter how catastrophic, will change his mind. George W. Bush is a stubborn ass and a pint-sized intellect -- letting him lead the way is pure idiocy.

Yet, so far, that's exactly what Pelosi is happy to do -- to follow that moron's flag right into more deaths, more tragedy, more expense, and more debt.

This isn't what we voted for in '06.


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