Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ENDING THE WAR....Can Democrats force President Bush to begin a withdrawal of troops from Iraq? The short answer is that — constitutional questions aside — any resolution mandating specific troop deployments out of Iraq would require 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and 67 votes to overcome a veto. That's obviously not going to happen. So Markos Moulitsas, echoing others, endorses Chris Dodd's approach:

What was clear to me before, and what should be abundantly clear to my colleagues after today, is that this President is not going to change course unless we force him to. There is only one way to do that — we must set a clear, hard and fast deadline for redeployment and, in order to enforce it, that deadline must be tied to funding.

This sounds more plausible since budget reconciliations can pass with a simple majority and Bush can't veto Pentagon funding forever. Unfortunately, there's a problem: Democrats don't have a simple majority. There are 49 Democrats in the Senate, and if you assume Bernie Sanders would join in, you're up to 50.

That's not enough. The only way to defund the war is for the Democratic leadership in the Senate to maintain absolute, 100% iron control over its own caucus and get at least one Republican to join them. But while there are a handful of Republicans who have been critical of the war, I can't think of even a single one who'd come within a country mile of voting to defund it. Can you?

So what's Plan B?

UPDATE: In comments, there seems to be some widespread misunderstanding about how budget bills work. Long story short, you can't filibuster them, so 40 votes won't stop anything.

And remember, we're not talking about an emergency supplemental here. We're talking about the FY 2008 budget for the entire Pentagon. Basically, Democrats have two choices: (a) muster the votes for a bill that funds the Pentagon but defunds the war and then dare Bush to veto it, or (b) refuse to pass anything, which effectively defunds the Pentagon completely without even forcing Bush to risk a veto. Option A is what we did earlier this year, and its success depends on whether we can keep our own caucus together and find a Republican senator or two to side with us for several votes in a row. Pretty unlikely. Option B is electoral suicide.

I'm all for trying Option A, but it makes Dems look weak and whiny to introduce bills and then have them fail, which is almost certainly what would happen. Is that what we want? And what comes next after that?

Kevin Drum 4:36 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (147)

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Comments

What's this I heard about Pressident Hissyfit threatening to veto every spending bill that hits his desk until he gets an Iraq war funding bill? I thought his highest duty was to this country!

Posted by: Steven Jong on September 13, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Am I missing something, or wouldn't a refusal of a majority of the House of Representatives to fund the war have the same effect?

Posted by: Glenn on September 13, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

That guy Gordon Smith out in Washington is beginning to see the light. A little grass roots agitation there might well get the other vote, not to mention Coleman in MN and about four others. You know what Samuel Johnson said about the prospect of being hanged in a fornight mightily concentrating the mind -- well, November 2008 is only a little more than a fortnight away in political terms.

Posted by: David in NY on September 13, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Um, Kevin, I think there are 51 Democrats, including Bernie, in the Senate. That's why they are the majority party.

Posted by: Carl I. on September 13, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

But while there are a handful of Republicans who have been critical of the war, I can't think of even a single one who'd come within a country mile of voting to defund it. Can you?

So what's Plan B?

Where Plan B should differ from Plan A -- the earlier, feeble Democratic effort to being Bush's disaster to some kind of close -- is to actually hold the votes and keep holding them -- on the same bill -- instead of sending up one measure and then rolling over at the mere threat of a veto or filibuster. If Lugar and Company wanna make speeches opposing the war, let 'em put their money where their mouth is. The GOP has a lot more to lose, given the mood of the country and the flop of the Petraeus / Crocker testimony, by going on record supporting Bush's failed occupation.

As you say, Bush can't keep vetoeing spending buills forever, nor can the GOP filibuster military spending forever. Since the public mood favors ending the war by a damn sight, the Republicans run more of a risk of being perceived as obstructionist.

Posted by: Gregory on September 13, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

I could be wrong, but even if a bill funding the Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts was not passed, doesn't Chimpy have the right to move money from the other spending bills around as he sees fit?

For example, he could just order DoD to pay for the war and postpone efforts on developing newer weapons systems.

Posted by: optical weenie on September 13, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Aren't there 51 "Dems" including Bernie and Lieberman?

Of course, Lieberman would be the problem here, wouldn't he?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 13, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Glenn: The House could, theoretically, prevent a Pentagon funding bill of any kind from being passed, but they can't force a particular kind of funding bill (i.e., one with withdrawal timelines) to be passed. That takes both houses.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 13, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Plan B is: you refuse to pass anything else. You make sure only bills which meet your criteria come up for a vote anyway. (Being in the leadership lets you do that.) If for some reason you think it better to let something come up to a vote you make sure it does not pass. A bare majority can do that in the house. If the Republicans plus DINOs stop you from passing your stuff you call them out for playing politics by voting against the funds to support our troops. If you get it passed and Bush vetos it, you call him out for that and send him the same bill again or a minor varieation.

Again, if you can get it to through the legislative process you blame the people in the Congress or Senate for stopping you. If you get it though the legislative process you blame Bush for vetoing it. But you make sure those are the only options people get to vote on -- funding bills that require pulling all our people out of Iraq.

The Republicans did this all the time. What stops the Democrats. Either they don't want to end the war, or they don't understand how the game is played.

Posted by: Gar Lipow on September 13, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Carl: There are 49 Democrats in the Senate, plus Bernie Sanders (I) and Joe Lieberman (I). Both Sanders and Lieberman caucus with the Dems, which is why Dems control the Senate, but that doesn't make them Democrats. And Lieberman, obviously, wouldn't vote with the Dems on any kind of war defunding bill in any case.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 13, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Plan B, which is almost certainly what will happen, is that the Democrats try hard to let people know that this is Bush's war, and he won't listen to them, and wait until he's out of office, hopefully getting a Democrat in 2009 that will actually do the job.

Cynically, the war is not nearly as big of a political asset any other way. People want out, they'll likely vote D. The last thing you want is to let the Republican candidates out from the rock and hard place they're stuck between, supporting an unpopular war or totally turning on their own party. Fortunately so far, the administration is happy to let the Democrats complain and stay the course.

But I'd rather have our troops not risking their lives for no probable benefit, thanks.

Posted by: kirby on September 13, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you just gave a very good description of the quandary the Democrats are in. If you fund the defense bill, you allow Commander-in-Chief Bush and General Petraeus to pursue the Surge you hate so much. But if you don't fund the defense bill, Bush and Petraeus will point out how you are leaving the troops in the cold with no money and no supplies to defend themselves from the terrorists in Iraq.
This would be a disaster in the 2008 elections leading to a landslide victory for the Republicans and conservatives. My suggestion is just to fund the bill supported by Bush and Petraeus and cut your losses.

Posted by: Al on September 13, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

So what's Plan B?

Plan B is to create a new name for "Stay the Course", et al. After tonight, it will be "Return on Success", which will last for another Friedman, when the Administration will have to resume the hard, hard work to create another new name for the same old "plan".

Posted by: Nemo on September 13, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

There is no plan B and Bush knows it. Bush knows the GOP caucus won't abandon him so the war will go on til 2009. More body bags and grief and sorrow. WTF!

Posted by: bob on September 13, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Plan B is a Democrat in the White House. Nothing else is going to work. That gets you to a simple majority in the House and down to 60 from 67 in the Senate. Putting it into the 2009 Pentagon budget means the Repubs would have a hard time filibustering that, so you're down to a majority of 51 needed.

Sure, I'd like to be out sooner, but it just isn't in the cards right now. Make the Republicans pay for it in the 2008 election.

Posted by: tomeck on September 13, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Even John Warner and Hagel are still sticking with Bush. Nuff said.

Posted by: bob on September 13, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't a possible Plan B be not even bringing a war appropriations bill to the floor?

Posted by: Colin on September 13, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's not cold in Iraq, Al.

Posted by: neil on September 13, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

I don't suppose John Warner could be convinced to retire this week instead of finishing his term, Tim Kaine being a Democrat and all.

No, I thought not.

Posted by: shortstop on September 13, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

I know responding to the Albot is a mug's game, but this was interesting: you just gave a very good description of the quandary the Democrats are in ... if you don't fund the defense bill, Bush and Petraeus will point out how you are leaving the troops in the cold with no money and no supplies to defend themselves from the terrorists in Iraq.

But The American people don't buy what Bush "points out".

Now, the Mighty Wurlitzer will make the same claim, but the Democrats need to understand that, perceiving the failure in Iraq even if they won't admit it yet, the GOP has been prepping the Dolchstosslegende for some time.

They're going to try to pin the blame on the Democrats for Bush's failure anyway. The imperative for the Democrats is not to let Bush punt this mess into the lap of the next President. And Gar is right: The key is to refuse to pass anything else. The Democrats will have a funding bill that contains the withdrawal the American people want and demand. It's the GOP who run the greater risks in this scenario.

Posted by: Gregory on September 13, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

It would appear that Hagel is the most likely GOP Senator to go with such a proposal. He certainly comes within a mile. However, it still doesnt appear to be enough since one veto is enough to send Senators running for cover.

Senate Backs Pullout Proposal
Hagel Joins Democrats On War Funding Bill
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/27/AR2007032700463.html

By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 28, 2007; Page A01

Of course, the proposal ultimately failed but it is the closest they came.

Posted by: Catch22 on September 13, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Dodd's suggestion shouldn't necessarily be understood to imply that Democrats entirely by themselves can force the issue.

As with most such issues, the real point perhaps is to force the Republicans to vote one and all the opposite way, including the ones who know that supporting the Iraq war will hurt their re-election chances. It will provide very little cover for, say, Collins of Maine if she votes down any funding legislation that has timetables attached, and not a single Democrat will join her. And the symbolism of Mr Popularity himself, Cheney, having to pop up to break the tie would serve to cast his pall over the entire Republican caucus.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 13, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats should defund the war by preventing any more funding bills from even coming to a vote.

Democratic Party partisans dislike this plan because they think Americans will blame them when W. Bush sacrifices the troops by leaving them without food and water rather than bringing them home. W. Bush is already sacrificing the troops, and if more should die because they are left without food and water and left to rot in Iraq, most Americans will blame the president.

Posted by: Brojo on September 13, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

By the by, since both Bush and Petraeus are talking timelines for withdrawing troops, it'd be nice if the so-called "liberal media" wouldn't let the inevitable Republican kvetching about timelines for withdrawing troops to pass unchallenged.

Ha!

Posted by: Gregory on September 13, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Democrats should stop funding for the war. If they cut off funding, they'll be tarred forever with blame for defeat in Iraq. Such a tarring wouldn't be fair -- since the Bush administration set the course for defeat -- but political life is not fair, especially when Democrats don't have the noise machine that the right has.

The better strategy would be to let Bush conduct the war to please his ego for the remainder of his term, but to pass legislation requiring that every dollar spent in Iraq from now on be paid for out of taxes. Roll back Bush's deficit-causing tax cuts and impose new ones on defense contractors as necessary, and call it the "Support the Troops Funding Bill". Let Bush veto it if he wants, but if this country can't find the will to pay up to support their troops in the field, then we suck as a country.

If the Democrats want to end the war, then the best way would be to demand that Americans step up and pay for it. If the American people (who chose this war by re-electing Bush) have to pay for the war they might get a little more engaged about finding an end to it.

Posted by: McCord on September 13, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Wait,

Now I'm confused.

Didn't Bush already veto a funding proposal with deadlines in May?

So hasn't the Congress already done what Dodd suggested?

Is the idea that Congress should keep doing that?

What are we arguing about here?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 13, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Plan B is for Hillary Clinton to say that even though she is against GWB's Iraq policy, she cannot vote to defund the war.

In other words, more people, Americans and Iraqis, die for nothing.

How do you tell a dying human being in the desert of Mesopotamia that he is dying for the vanity of a man about six thousands of miles away and for the cowardice of his opponents.

Posted by: gregor on September 13, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's a combination of grassroots organizing around the Republicans who are fence-sitters, what Mouitsas is saying, and threatening the Republicans in congress (in a discreet, off-the-record type way) with ostensibly party-neutral rules-changes in Congress, that will be practiced to threaten Republicans' incumbencies once a Democrat is in the White House and hopefully there are greater Dem majorities in Congress.

Mess around with stuff like the franking privilege- maybe just threaten to do away with it. We're the ones who will be a majority already anyway, not them. It's an above-the-boards version of the stuff Bush was doing with the DOJ. We'll keep it legal and clean.

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

How about supporting the war effort instead? Just a suggestion.

Posted by: John Hansen on September 13, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

threatening the Republicans in congress (in a discreet, off-the-record type way) with ostensibly party-neutral rules-changes in Congress, that will be practiced to threaten Republicans' incumbencies once a Democrat is in the White House and hopefully there are greater Dem majorities in Congress.

I.e., "Come on board and help us end this Iraq war or you're going to find yourself without a job in three years."

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

now that hagel's not running for re-election, he might be persuaded. ditto warner.

according to tweety, bush will propose a long-term security arrangement with the iraqi government, such as it is, maybe that will scare sununu and coleman. only 13 more to go! in my dreams.

Posted by: benjoya on September 13, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Kevin:
It doesn't take 67 votes or 60 votes or even 51 votes to simply stop funding this piece of sh** war. Just say no to funding! This is not actually very complicated!
-- Joel

Posted by: Joel on September 13, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, like yesterday with "second tier" Democratic presidential candidates, you're wrong, wrong, wrong on Iraq, Kevin.

The magic number in the Senate is 41; that prevents cloture and blocks any funding bill that doesn't defund Iraq.

Kevin, you're wrong and Harry Reid is wrong. Ted Rall is right about Congressional Democrats.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 13, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

John,

What if you think the war is a mistake and continuing the U.S. presence in Iraq is a mistake that will get more U.S. soldiers killed and cost more money and not make the U.S. appreciably more secure or achieve other significant goals?

Is supporting the war effort a good idea then? Why? So Wall Street Journal editorial writers can stop getting upset at the feckless country they're trying to inspire?

Posted by: Glenn on September 13, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Plan B is really Plan A, which is the Democrats' strategy in a nutshell, capitulate. Plan B would be to do something different, but since Plan A is always available, it doesn't matter what Plan B is.

Posted by: Dick Durata on September 13, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats should filibuster new money for Iraq until Republicans allow votes on the plans to withdraw from Iraq.

Why the Democrats aren't playing hardball in this way?

I discussed this on Proviso Probe.

I came up with four possible reasons Senate Dems are being lame and not using the filibuster to negotiate on Iraq funding legislation.

1. Democrats are intrinsically cowardly.
2. Democrats think the American people are stupid and won't understand the political maneuvering.
3. Democrats believe the American people are subconsciously more pro-war than the surface level polling indicates.
4. Democrats and Republicans are playing a game of "good cop, bad cop" on us, where the elites of the country have decided to continue the occupation and the Democrats are merely creating the illusion of fighting to end the war. (The Republicans have used the same tactic on the issue of abortion. Republicans have run as anti-abortion candidates for decades and done very little to actually make abortion illegal when elected.)

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on September 13, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

How about supporting the war effort instead?

There is no war. Iraq has been occupied. Supporting the occupation means Americans killing more Iraqis. Americans killing more Iraqis pleases some Americans, but it no longer pleases most Americans, if it ever did. The majority of Americans no longer pleased Iraqis are being killed for their benefit, expect Democrats to stop the killing by defunding W. Bush's war machine. They will not hold the Democrats responsible for sacrificing the troops, that dubious honor belongs to W. Bush and the Republican Party.

Posted by: Brojo on September 13, 2007 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Plan B should be to tell the Republicans who live by getting defense projects funded in their own states that any funds for Iraq will come out of their pet projects. That would turn a few of them in a hurry.

Posted by: Dawn on September 13, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen wrote at 5:14 pm:

How about supporting the war effort instead? Just a suggestion.

Ha ha yeah right.

"You've covered your ass, now." ~President Bush, to a CIA briefer on Aug. 6, 2001-- when the briefer delivered the memo "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Within U.S.", a memo Bush subsequently ignored. We will never forget.

It may take a few staffers and lawyers who are experts on Congress to hunker down and come up with all the ways Republicans could be screwed by rules-changes in Congress without hurting Dems. But to pull it off, you don't need a memo detailing that, all that you need it a rumor of a memo going around.

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

50 ways to leave Iraq (pronto)

1- House does not pass appropriations bill. End of story as all appropriations bills must originate in the House

2-40 senators filibuster Iraq appropriation bill

3-50

51 senators pass appropriation with time lines. Bush vetoes. Congress then sends him 1 month appropriation bill. Repeat as necessary

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on September 13, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

I've seen this idea mentioned in this comment thread, and I've been emailing it to my Senator, Reid and Pelosi since the Democrats rolled this spring, but I'll say it again.

The Democrats decide what bills get a vote. So they need to present a bill which provides sufficient funds to bring the troops home as quickly as possible commensurate with the troops' safety.

And they must refuse to consider any other bill.

This course of action ends the war. Hawks can complain all they like, and if the bill should get through Congress, Bush can veto it. But if the Democrats HOLD THE LINE and refuse to consider any other option, Bush must bring the troops home.

And when the wingers trot out their usual drivel about Democrats failing to support our troops, congressional Democrats respond as with one voice: "We did what we were elected to do: we passed a bill to bring the troops home. The Republicans are keeping the troops in harm's way by playing politics."

The GOP and the media would no doubt put enormous pressure on the Dems to cave, just like they did this spring. But with sufficient spine, the Dems can indeed bring the war to an end.

Unfortunately, most congressional Democrats have been awfully low on spine since January.

Posted by: David Bailey on September 13, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Glenn. The House originates spending bills and it can refuse to enact any spending without withdrawal timelines regardless of what the Senate does. If they can't get 51 votes in the Senate, then it's "the Republican'ts don't want to fund the troops" over and over from every single Democrat (and Bernie Sanders, too).

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 13, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Simple. A fillibuster of spending bills requires only 41.

Posted by: esaund on September 13, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

I like David Bailey's suggestion.

Only one problem: Carl Nyberg's number 4.

Posted by: Brojo on September 13, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

How does the house not have the ability to do to the senate and whitehouse what the house and senate could do to the whitehouse? The special power of the purse is all in the house.

It is a game of chicken, any of the three can win, or everyone can loose depending on how the wills work out.

But the real plan B is pretty obvious: wait till 2009.

Posted by: jefff on September 13, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

For all their foaming at the mouth demanding condemnations every time MoveOn says something they don't agree with, I can't find a single instance of any consservative blogger condemning Boehner's dismissive and disrespectful remark about the price our troops are paying.

Not surprising at all.

Not a single conservative blogger stood up to condemn Bush's denial of body and vehicle armor to save money or his attempts to cut the troops' hazard pay for serving in Iraq, much less was their any anguish over Bush sending bill collectors after wounded veterans and denying them proper health care.

Shameful, shameful, are the GOPers.

Posted by: anonymous on September 13, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

I repeat my earlier point: the Congress has already passed a funding bill with deadlines in it. Bush vetoed it in May.

Unless Democrats go through this again, what else can they do but refuse to pass another funding bill, an even more extreme, less politically attractive measure?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 13, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

The latest issue of Harper's (arrived today) has a piece calling for a general strike on 6 November 2007. That is, those who like what the US is doing and think the country's going in a good direction, go to work as usual. Those who do not, stay home and do not answer the phone, send email, etc.

If enough people actually did it, even inside the Beltway it might be noticed.

Posted by: Leisureguy on September 13, 2007 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

The war continues because the GOP and the Democrats want it to continue. I don't buy the Democratic mantra thatwe need 60 votes to cut off funding. The Democrats control the budget and the calender. Outside of Fox News there is no public support for this war and very little support for this administration.

Posted by: aline on September 13, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

***BULLSHIT KEVIN!!***

If 41 Democrats came together and said, "NO WAY IN HELL DO WE VOTE FOR ONE PENNY OF FUNDING FOR THIS WAR UNTIL WITHDRAW" then there is not shit that Republicans or Bush can do about it.

Hell, we don't even need the Senate. It takes *two* houses to pass funding. If the House of Representatives refused to fund Bush's war, then the troops would have to come home.

Period.

Posted by: myrtle parker on September 13, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Funding bills HAVE TO originate in the House of Representatives. If the House of Representatives passes a notice of intent saying, from such and such date we will pass ONLY a bill that funds lower troop level, and from such and such date we will pass NO further funding for Iraq, then what the Senate does or does not do is moot.

Bush cannot defy this. The White House has, on previous occasions, acknowledged that the Congress has a right to cut off funding. They've dared the House of Reps to do it. Nancy Pelosi would rather run another election with Iraq as the main issue rather than take control (and responsibility) for the mess in Mesopotamia.

Posted by: Wagster on September 13, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't a filibuster of any spending bill (the 41 option) put the Democrats in the position of withdrawing funding for the war, the issue the talk radio hats keep nattering on about Viet-Nam?

Posted by: TJM on September 13, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK
This sounds more plausible since budget reconciliations can pass with a simple majority and Bush can't veto Pentagon funding forever. Unfortunately, there's a problem: Democrats don't have a simple majority.

They do in the House.

. There are 49 Democrats in the Senate, and if you assume Bernie Sanders would join in, you're up to 50.

That's not enough. The only way to defund the war is for the Democratic leadership in the Senate to maintain absolute, 100% iron control over its own caucus and get at least one Republican to join them.

Last I checked, budget bills have to pass both Houses of Congress. The Senate can't keep rejecting Pentagon funding forever, either, and the public is against the war. War opponents in Congress only lose by flinching first (but Democrats are good at losing that way, so it'll probably happen.)

Of course, others' comments above about blocking cloture on any budget bill (before it gets around to a reconciliation) that doesn't defund Iraq are also on point, but the Senate isn't the whole of the Congress.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 13, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hi Folks,

I've been deleted by Drum for lowercase civil opinions so I stopped correcting your inanities for a while.

Regarding funding; you act as if the President can't fight back. Ever if you managed to cut funding, the President can retaliate by vetoing ALL spending bills short of 67 votes until he gets his war funding; and who depends on spending more? Republicans or Democrats.

Look the election in 2004 was for Commander in Chief and historically speaking Bush won handily in terms of popular vote; almost even mandate levels. Congressional elections often turn on pot-hole repair. If Democrats want to run the military or select judges, stop CHEATING and win the elections specifically for that job, i.e., Presidential Elections.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on September 13, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

How about supporting the war effort instead? Just a suggestion.

Only the brain-damaged and ineducable would even deign to ask such a stupid question, but then...consider who is asking...

Because staying a wrong course can not alter reality and make the reasons for it just.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 13, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding funding; you act as if the President can't fight back.

Yeah, so you do it the way I said in my comment.

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Heres how to do:

LEAD!

Yes, muster the enthusiasm in the country and congress to impeach Bush. Bush is the problem. Bush is the enemy. Bush is the device specifically and accurately manipulated by OBL himself to bring us to the absurd place. He must be removed as part of the war effort.

Posted by: exclab on September 13, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Let's suppose, just for argument's sake, that Congress votes with veto-proof majorities to cut off funding for the troops in Iraq, in an effort to force their withdrawal.

And then, let's further suppose that this president, just out of sheer spite, decides in his constitutional role as commander-in-chief to leave the troops in place, and simply stops sending them supplies and relief as the funds run dry -- and please, don't tell me that Chimpy McCokespoon isn't that vindictive or callous, because we all should know by now that he most certainly is quite capable of doing exactly that.

Now what are we going to do, as we watch our troops held hostage by our own president in a game of chicken with Congress?

I've wavered somewhat on this issue in the past, but I'm pretty much convinced that present circumstances firmly warrant this administration's impeachment and removal. I think it's a clash that's now become inevitable -- it's either them, or us.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 13, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Couple things:

1. As others have pointed out, this all boils down to Dem cowardice. They have all the power they need to stop this war -- just don't fund it. What they lack is the will.

2. The Dems in the Senate don't actually have 49 votes, do they, or is Tim Johnson well enough to vote now?

Posted by: Disputo on September 13, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

What the Democrats can do is impose their own timeline by funding the troops at certain dollar levels on certain dates...i.e. X dollars for October, .8x dollars for November, .6x dollars for Decemeber, etc...

If the Republicans and/or Bush refuse to go along with this approach (by filibustering it or vetoing it), then the Dems can just refuse to bring a second bill to the floor. They will have the rhetorical high ground by virtue of having already brought one bill to the floor and having it stopped by the Republicans, who will then have to explain why they filibustered/vetoed the spending bill.

The key is to force the Republicans to filibuster/veto, in which case they become the ones denying funding for the troops.

Posted by: mfw13 on September 13, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

1. As others have pointed out, this all boils down to Dem cowardice. They have all the power they need to stop this war -- just don't fund it. What they lack is the will.

Yes, if only we had the will we could win in Iraq- ER- Congress.

Sheesh, Nietsche was right, we have looked in the abyss too long...

Posted by: Doug H. on September 13, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Cutting off funding will be a disaster for the Democrats. Remember Gingrich shutting down the government? It wasn't Clinton who got the blame for that.

There are too many "moderates," both Democrat and Republican, who will accept the Republican noise machine and conclude that the Democrats have voted to defund THE TROOPS. That's not the way to win in 2008.

Sorry folks, they need more votes. They need a president who's going to set a withdrawal agenda.

Congressional Democrats should keep the pressure on, force votes on the floor, but we shouldn't blame them for not having enough votes. Let the Republicans explain to the folks back home why they wouldn't vote for a withdrawal.

Posted by: tomeck on September 13, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Donald from Hawaii.

Posted by: Doug Stamate on September 13, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Just love those comments saying 49 Democrats - Some Democratic Senator would have to introduce legislation to attack Iran, in order to secure Liebermann's vote - He will never vote on any issue affecting Iraq that does not agree 110% with Shrub's position.

Blue Girl, an aside - Think that Stefan, on another thread, meant that one can never watch too much Deadwood, because the jerk powers at HBO cut funding. The way they cut off Rome, Carnivale, Sopranos, and wasted a ton on John from Cincinnatti and added no other decent new programming - Of course, we all have to pay premium to watch their drek. But, to watch Deadwood helps one understand the Hearst war mongering machine.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 13, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

FWIW, I am also curious in the response to frankly0's question. What's different between Dodd's proposal and what Bush vetoed in May?

Posted by: jerry on September 13, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Plan B, Kevin, is that the Dems at least TRY to do it, and then raise screaming hell in the 2008 campaign against the GOP for blocking them.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on September 13, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

David in NY: That guy Gordon Smith out in Washington is beginning to see the light.

Minor correction from way up thread. Gordon Smith is from Oregon. He's also up for re-election next year so has some incentive...

Posted by: bigcat on September 13, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Now what are we going to do, as we watch our troops held hostage by our own president in a game of chicken with Congress?

You answer your own question in the next sentence:

...I'm pretty much convinced that present circumstances firmly warrant this administration's impeachment and removal.

Yes, present circumstances certainly warrant impeachment, but we lack the votes for impeachment, and we lack the votes for impeachment because we lack the public support for impeachment. And we lack the public support for impeachment because the Dems, instead of putting a stop to the madness of the POTUS have been acting as enablers and taking heat off the POTUS.

IOW, it is going to take a game of chicken to get to impeachment, so let the games begin.

Posted by: Disputo on September 13, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "My suggestion is just to fund the bill supported by Bush and Petraeus and cut your losses."

Wow, powerful suggestion, Al. How would you prefer our losses to be cut: by IED, rocket fire, or machine-gun attack? Do promise to attend the funeral of every loss cut to please President Vainglorious?

Posted by: Kenji on September 13, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

I basically agree with Kevin's point, but there's one assumption I'm not too sure about: why is it that George W. Bush "can't veto Pentagon funding forever"? He knows that the American public won't believe he desires to abolish the U.S. Army, and he doesn't really care what happens to the troops. So why can't he just keep vetoing and assume that the Democrats will have to back down, and send him a clean funding bill, because the alternative is defunding the U.S. Army in its entirety?

Posted by: David on September 13, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "The only way to defund the war is for the Democratic leadership in the Senate to maintain absolute, 100% iron control over its own caucus and get at least one Republican to join them."

That's not true. The Senate Democrats could filibuster any legislation that funds the occupation of Iraq. Maintaining a filibuster requires only 41 votes.

Senate Democrats won't take the action necessary to defund the war. They don't want to say that to the American people, who are overwhelmingly in favor of ending the occupation and bring the troops home, so they lie and say that they can't defund the war.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 13, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK
Cutting off funding will be a disaster for the Democrats. Remember Gingrich shutting down the government? It wasn't Clinton who got the blame for that.

Yeah, you know why? Because the public was on Clinton's side on the issues.

Seen polls of support for Bush's folly in Iraq recently?

Posted by: cmdicely on September 13, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

It is Bush's failed policies that have cost thousands of American lives, including his policies of ignoring the CIA when they warn of Osama Bin Laden's attacks and outing covert CIA agents, which got us hit in the first place and emboldened the enemy. After Petaeus spoke to Congress, someone should just have briefly recounted the facts- what the real differences are between after the surge and what going on during the few months before- and then held up a piece of paper with big numbers on it showing the number of troops that have died since January and said, "Gen. Petraeus, never before have so many been so willing to give their lives to accomplish so little." I'm really surprised no one thought of it.

We must end this war.

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Plan B: Make the War in Iraq the running mate of every Republicun candidate everywhere. Dems will sweep both houses and the White House in 2008.

Posted by: CT on September 13, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

But that's only if Dems actually get behind a candidate rather than staying home and gazing at their navels because "their" candidate didn't get the Dem nomination.

Posted by: CT on September 13, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

How about supporting the war effort instead?

The thing I dislike most about being an American citizen is that I support the occuption of Iraq fiscally. Anyone who with payroll taxes is suppporting W. Bush and his mission. I detest that and would really appreciate it if the majority in Congress would stop using my taxes to kill Iraqis.

If W. Bush should leave the troops to starve and die of thirst in Iraq, it would not be worse that what we are already doing to most Iraqis, and most Americans would hold W. Bush responsible for doing it. W. Bush is Commander in Chief, it would be his decision, and his alone, to sacrific the troops.

Americans who enjoy having the military kill Iraqis will try and blame Democrats for W. Bush's sacrificing the troops, but they are no longer politically relevant. Most Americans now believe the president has already sacrificed the troops for no good reason. If W. Bush thinks they will rally round him once again by leaving the troops without food and water, he may very well lose all public support and be impeached.

So, Donald from Hawaii makes a good point. If Congress witholds Iraq occupation funding, and if W. Bush responds with the sacrificing of the troops, both the Democrats and a few Republicans in Congress will receive the popular support they need to impeach him.

Disputo understands why this scenario will not occur: Democrats have no desire to stop the war.

Posted by: Brojo on September 13, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's idea is good. There are 51 Democrats in the Senate but Tim Johnson (from SD) hasn't been casting votes because he's been hospitalized since January.

Lieberman won't be with the Dems on this.

I think that some of the Republicans who aren't running for re-election (Warner of VA; Hagel from NE) or Repubs in potential re-election battles (Collins of ME; Smith of OR; maybe even Sununu of NH?) are prospects for holding up funding. Ideally, we need 60 or the willingness to force the Repubs to actually engage in the filibuster they are only threatening.

Yes, the House would have to act as well. But in the House Dems have the clear majority and it needn't be filibuster proof, so the threshold is actually lower.

This idea has merit. But I doubt that Reid will act this tough.

Posted by: Stacy on September 13, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Option A.

And when that fails, as it certainly will . . . .

Option A, again.

Option A, option A, option A. The war is a tragedy of sufficient magnitude that it's worth bringing everything else to a halt. Then the question is who blinks first: Bush, the Democrats, or a sufficient number of congressional Republicans to override a veto.

Obviously, Bush will never blink, so it's a question of the Democrats out-waiting the Republicans. And it is undoubtedly high stakes --- Democrats will undoubtedly come out looking like bigger wimps than ever (and that's saying something) if they blink first. But enough is enough.

Posted by: David Bailey on September 13, 2007 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

And remember, we're not talking about an emergency supplemental here. We're talking about the FY 2008 budget for the entire Pentagon. Basically, Democrats have two choices: (a) muster the votes for a bill that funds the Pentagon but defunds the war and then dare Bush to veto it, or (b) refuse to pass anything, which effectively defunds the Pentagon completely without even forcing Bush to risk a veto. Option A is what we did earlier this year, and its success depends on whether we can keep our own caucus together and find a Republican or two to side with us for several votes in a row. Pretty unlikely. Option B is electoral suicide.

Having spent the better part of eight months trying to explain this to people--and hearing, over and over again, insane shit like "Democrats only need 41 votes in the Senate to stop the war," I can say, categorically, that people still don't understand how the US Senate works.

This is not a war that can be ended by "de-funding" the war. This is a war that will end when we elect a Commander in Chief who clearly and unequivocally understands that their electoral mandate is to withdraw US troops from Iraq. As powerful as the power of the purse may seem to folks who are ignorant of the legislative process, it is the Commander in Chief that calls the shots. And right now, we have a rogue CiC who doesn't listen to his generals and who issues signing statements left and right.

But--you nutbags out there--explain how the Senate works to people who actually understand it. I'm not going to hold my breath and expect to be enlightened anytime soon.

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 13, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

You need to learn to think big, PR. We're talking politics. We're talking about Dems having the guts to initiate the political crisis that will lead to the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

Posted by: Disputo on September 13, 2007 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

As far as real legal power goes the house has it when it comes to funding things.

If the president starts spending money without a law to back him up, refuses to spend it as specified in the law, or fails to withdraw the troops before their tactical situation becomes too dire (which would happen very very quickly) they impeach him for illegally spending money or treason.

Then the senate gets to decide if the president is removed from office, or they let him take overt dictatorial power.

That is the ultimate end game of the house refusing to flinch. Bush can do as ordered, the senate can remove him from office, or this is no longer a nation of laws.

In the end the house can force the war to end in an entirely legal way and the president and senate can only continue it illegally.

Not that I am worried about any of this happening. It may even be well worth burning another couple thousand GIs and another few hundred billion dollars to avoid it.

Thats how you know you really badly screwed up a while ago: all the options are ridiculously bad.

Posted by: jefff on September 13, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Bruce is correct. This is not so much about plan B working. That would take 100% Democratic spine and GOP help. It's more about keeping this issue front and center until the next elections. Dems will be the party wanting to end the War. The GOP will be the party wanting keep the War going. Dem President. 11 GOP Senators gone. 30 GOP Congressman gone.

Posted by: padcrasher on September 13, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

The liberal grassroots should have been organizing around this Petraeus presentation. There should have been demonstrations.

Posted by: Swan on September 13, 2007 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Plan B: break Iraq off from the rest of the DoD funding. (You know, like it's been throughout this war. Why change now?) Pass the main DoD bill. Pass an Iraq bill with timelines, that fully funds a withdrawal, just like we did in the spring. If Bush vetoes it, pass the same bill again. And again. Ad infinitum, if necessary.

This presumes we can once again talk Hagel, or Gordon Smith, or some other non-brain-dead Repub to at least abstain on the bill. Then, now that Tim Johnson's back, it would pass 50-49.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 13, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Here is the germ of an idea for a Plan B. The Dems should introduce a Support Our Troops in Iraq tax designed to fund the Iraq war costs (presently off budget emergency appropriations---the real deficit grows and W gets to point to a declining annual deficit, the whole thing is phony) as well as expanded care for returning vets in need of medical, psychiatric, counseling assistance etc. The tax, which I reckon would amount to about a 10% surtax on the total federal tax bill of everyone EXCEPT veterans who had served in combat zones. The Congress would authorize the President to use ONLY these moneys to prosecute the war. So if he wants to fund Our Troops, he has to sign a tax increase. It is truth in budgeting and a check on war making all in one, and I bet that at least 1 Republican in the Senate will have to vote for it sooner or later in order to have a prayer of being re elected.

Posted by: Jeffrey Harris on September 13, 2007 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Low-tech-cyclist is repeating the Edwards plan.

The conventional wisdom is that the Democrats look bad by sending back the same bill over and over again only to be vetoed by the ever more isolated and petulant President. Could somebody explain the conventional wisdom to me, it just doesn't sound like wisdom to me. Bush is the guy who is going to be vetoing stuff, not the Senate.

I would like to know what is wrong with the Edwards plan.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 13, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Point of clarification: reconciliation bills can't be filibustered, but appropriation bills can. The only reconciliation in this year's budget resolution is a small amount for higher education. So you've got to get 60 to pass anything.

On the idea of using the filibuster to stop an approps bill that doesn't contain a deadline, maintaining 40 votes from the majority would be just about impossible. Members would ask leadership (who would have to lead any such effort) why if it's so important to stop the bill they don't just refuse to bring it to the floor.

I think a better strategy is to just constantly send approps bills to the white house that both fund withdrawl and contain deadlines. When he vetoes it send it back immediately. Do it 50 times if you have to, and you'll never have to say you withheld funding from the troops--you can say you funded the troops but on terms the people approved in 2006, etc.

Posted by: Budgeter on September 13, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats in Congress could defund the war tomorrow and suffer little if any political fallout. The fact that they can't or won't do so shows the Democratic Party no longer has a moral compass or a finger on the pulse of the American people. This war is an abomination. I will vote for the Green Party for president in 2008. I can no longer, in good conscience, vote for a Democrat.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 13, 2007 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't Bush's War any longer it's the Republicans' War. This is their choice and one they'll have to defend every day until the next election. If things go well in Irag so will they in the elections. If they don't they'll have to pay for this next phase in the fiasco.

Posted by: wren on September 13, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin answers Carl:

Carl: There are 49 Democrats in the Senate, plus Bernie Sanders (I) and Joe Lieberman (I). Both Sanders and Lieberman caucus with the Dems, which is why Dems control the Senate, but that doesn't make them Democrats. And Lieberman, obviously, wouldn't vote with the Dems on any kind of war defunding bill in any case.

I’ve made the same point in almost the same words many times (including in the comments section here), primarily to people who accuse the Democrats of being spineless and gutless. Plus, there is the fact that Tim Johnson suffered a stroke and missed many a vote.

I'm all for trying Option A, but it makes Dems look weak and whiny to introduce bills and then have them fail, which is almost certainly what would happen. Is that what we want? And what comes next after that?

Exactly, and I don’t have a plan B except to elect more Democrats. Also, I basically think that Bush and Co. (including Petraeus) should basically be called liars for continuing to conflate Iraq and al-Qaeda. I think that Democrats could drive that point home if they were to focus on it.


Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 13, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Another point is that there are a few Democrats, mostly Southern, like Gene Taylor in Mississippi and Boyd in Florida, who consistenly support Bush on Iraq and matters of national security. They come from conservative districts and they are safe. There is nothing Nancy Pelosi can do about them.

So, those who say the Democrats could defund the war tomorrow are incorrect. They tried and failed.

Math is math. It's hard to argue with it.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 13, 2007 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

While a number of people have pointed out that Lieberman is not going to support any Democrat effort to limit the war, there's also Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Ken Salazar of Colorado, Dianne Feinstein and a couple of others who just aren't willing to grow a pair and stand up to Bush, despite the fact that the political winds would be at their backs. You have to give Bush credit for one thing: he doesn't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks about him or his policies. He just does it. The Democrats have public opinion on their side by a wide margin, but still can't figure out that this allows them to stand up to an unpopular president and his unpopular war. WTF.

Posted by: jonas on September 13, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Am I missing something here? Don't the Dems control what is debated?

What is lost if the Republicans filibuster a withdrawal plan? The Dems can finally show the country that a) they have a plan (no one believes it), b) for once on the Iraq debate put the Republicans on the defensive for once, and c) further tar the Republicans and Bush with their war.

Just maybe a Republican filibuster will persuade moderates the absurdity of the defending the indefensible and finally abandon the White House.

Posted by: Bob W. on September 13, 2007 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

If Republicans won't let us end the war by defunding it and overriding a Bush veto or by getting rid of Bush & Cheney and then defunding it then we must destroy ALL Republicans in the '08 elections. They must be forced to suffer horrendous Armageddon-like losses.

It's the way of politics.

In any event the incoming Dem will do the job, unless it's Clinton and in that case we really don't know what "super hawk Hill" might decide.

Posted by: MarkH on September 13, 2007 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats must embrace Plan B. There is no other option. If they lose and look weak so be it. At least they will have stood up for what is right. At least they will have upheld constitutional principles. Utter failure is the only option and we must embrace it.

Posted by: Moronic Naderite on September 13, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Headline: Democrats Force End To War

Second Page Story: Hell Freezes Over

Obituary Page: Naderites Get A Clue

Posted by: anonymous on September 13, 2007 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

This war could be ended tomorrow. It could happen without the assistance of any legislator or judge or even the President himself. Unfortunately our citizens don't mind being led by criminals so it won't happen. U.S. soldiers should simply refuse to further serve. Walk away. Don't enlist. It is becoming ever more difficult to care what happens to a person that volunteers service in the employ of a genocidal madman. Yes, what is happening to Iraqis is deplorable. Maybe after Bush hanged their plight could be improved. But for now at least on our side of the ledger the deaths we suffer are suffered by those willingly entered in a criminal conspiracy. An undeclared preemptive war started by the telling of demonstrable lies. Who volunteers to join such an atrocity? Certainly no one deserving of our concern or care.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 13, 2007 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

It is becoming ever more difficult to care what happens to a person that volunteers service in the employ of a genocidal madman.

It is becoming ever more difficult to avoid signing up to serve in the military in the GWB economy, which *shed* 4k jobs last month.

Posted by: Disputo on September 13, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

It is becoming ever more difficult to avoid signing up to serve in the military in the GWB economy, which *shed* 4k jobs last month.


Posted by: Disputo on September 13, 2007 at 9:47 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I suppose you could use the same logic to justify robbing banks or kidnapping children for ransom.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 13, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

You need to learn to think big, PR. We're talking politics. We're talking about Dems having the guts to initiate the political crisis that will lead to the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

I prefer to think "realistically."

Despite all these pie-in-the-sky ideas that presuppose what the Senate could do, I'm shocked to see so many people are completely ignorant of reality and cannot understand even the basics of how things work.

The House is not going to send legislation to the Senate that the Senate is going to roll up into a knife and plunge into the heart of the Democratic Party. The Senate Democrats are in the majority; they are not going to introduce legislation (which is what they do because they control the legislative agenda) that they are then going to turn around and filibuster in order to stop the war.

The Senate and the House have done virtually everything that is in their power to stop the war, bring the troops home, and tie funding to benchmarks. The Republicans have used their only option as the minority party to filibuster and halt the progress of legislation to give Bush the cover he needs.

What needs to happen is that about twenty Republican Senators need to completely break with the President and tell the Democrats to go forward and they will provide the buffer between the dead-enders in the Senate. They then need to pass legislation that ties the Presidents hands, prevents further escalation of the war, and brings the troops home without cutting off their funding. That begins the isolation and unravelling of the power of the Commander in Chief to wage war, but it does not end it.

And bear in mind--the President is under no obligation to follow ANYTHING the Congress does. He has established himself as the Imperial President; until his power is sufficiently curtailed by the combined efforts of the Legislative and Judicial branches of Government, all goddamned bets are off.

That will does not exist yet. I wish it did, but it doesn't. You want to end the war? Vote for a Commander in Chief that will order the troops home. It's as simple as that.

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 13, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose you could use the same logic to justify robbing banks or kidnapping children for ransom.

No one is justifying anything. Maybe you haven't noticed, but crime does peak during economic downturns.

Posted by: Disputo on September 13, 2007 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know who you are referencing, PR, but I never suggested that the Dems filibuster their own legislation. In any case, that's quite a thin reed on which to hang your "the Dems have no power to end the war" hat on.

Posted by: Disputo on September 13, 2007 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

My opinion is that people talking about Democrats growing balls are talking about the wrong party. Not only do Democrats have only 49 votes in the Senate, they also do not control the House when it comes to Iraq and national security issues. There are about 10-12 percent of Democrats, mostly Southern, who vote with Bush. When it comes to those issues, they may as well be Republican. There is nothing the House leadership can do.

OTOH, Republicans cannot bring themselves to oppose Bush, even when it hurts them. They follow lockstep. Every time one of them verbally questions the President, they are quickly brought back in line. It’s pretty pitiful.

If the Democrats throw a series of tantrums or refuse to pass a budget, it’s doubtful they would improve their position. Remember what Clinton did to Gingrich and the Republicans?

Democrats did force Bush to veto a bill that would have gotten us out of Iraq. (Note that Ron Paul voted with the Republicans on that one.) Democrats have forced Republicans to be obstructionists over and over again.

Want more of the same? Vote Republican or Libertarian or Green. You’ll get more of the same.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 13, 2007 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Your revised Option A won't make the Dems look "weak and whiny" so much as it will make Bush (and the GOP minority who support him) look even more insanely stubborn, childish and unpatriotic -- which, since they ARE insanely stubborn childish and unpatriotic, is exactly what we want. Give them the rope to hang themselves -- no matter how the frantically "bipartisan" Talking Heads try to spin it, it will be obvious to the public what's happened and who is responsible.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on September 13, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

When you elect more Democrats - say Warner or Bob Kerrey - they are more likely to join Joementum than Harry Reid. I know you guys honestly feel that a loss would be good for us, but the vast majority of Americans, including Democrat Americans, do not share the cut and run philosophy.

Posted by: minion on September 13, 2007 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Step #1 is to get the votes.

How? Get Dave "diaper boy" Vitter to resign.

Senators are far too nice and congenial to do this, so it's up to the blogosphere.

Write a letter, demanding Vitter's expulsion "to clean up the stinky diaper pail that he's made of the Senate", written on a disposable diaper, and send it to your senator, Ethics committee members, etc.

Posted by: Satan luvvs Repugs on September 13, 2007 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

When you elect more Democrats - say Warner or Bob Kerrey - they are more likely to join Joementum than Harry Reid. I

That's true--but how are you going to get Nebraska and Virginia to send anyone else to the Senate? How realistic is it to expect these states to send the ideological equivalent of someone like a Russ Feingold to the Senate? I'd love it if there were more guys like Feingold in the Senate--he is the one who SHOULD be running for President right now.

As much as I would like to see other candidates who are outside of the sphere of the "liebercrats" the fact is, at least Kerrey and Warner would caucus with the Democrats and would feel obligated to support the party.

If any Democrat fails to support the party, throw their ass out the next time around. Find more Ned Lamonts and bankroll them and support them.

But on what planet does taking a Republican from Virginia or Nebraska make anything better? Do you want to see George Allen go back to the Senate because there's some "squeamishness" over Mark Warner, for example?

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 13, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know who you are referencing, PR, but I never suggested that the Dems filibuster their own legislation. In any case, that's quite a thin reed on which to hang your "the Dems have no power to end the war" hat on.

That's my response to another argument, which claimed that there was a realistic chnage to end the war with 41 votes; now explain to me how anyone other than the Commander in Chief can take US troops out of a battle and bring them home.

I know everyone has this thing about Vietnam and Mike Gravel and how they "ended the Vietnam War" but cutting off the funding, but that's not what happened and that's not an honest reading of the poltiical reality. It's as dishonest then as it is now.

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 13, 2007 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Do you want to see George Allen go back to the Senate because there's some "squeamishness" over Mark Warner, for example?

Well, no; minion wants George Allen back in the Senate because he agrees with Allen's policies. But then, he also thinks 20-odd percent constitutes a "vast majority." It's just Bushlogic.

Posted by: shortstop on September 13, 2007 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

chnage = chance.

That's it for tonight.

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 13, 2007 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Pale Rider--what a douche you are.

It's like watching chimpanzees make a salad, isn't it? Watching liberals debate is like watching people out of their element do something difficult and precise in a herky-jerky way.

Leave the management of the war to the professionals. You liberals can go worry about who looks good with a bowl haircut--Hillary or the one who wears sweaters a lot. Meanwhile, our military leaders will continue to control the battlespace and take the fight to our enemies.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 13, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

When you elect more Democrats - say Warner or Bob Kerrey - they are more likely to join Joementum than Harry Reid.

Do you seriously think that any group of voters anywhere is going to send anyone to any public office, dogcatcher and above, without some sort of pledge to extract our nation from this clusterfuck? Seriously? What, exactly is the drug combination you are currently enjoying? Because I want some!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 13, 2007 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Weak and whiny" is in the presentation, not the action.

I'm ready to give space on my blog, per Lynn Woolsey, Democratic primary challengers to "centrist" Democrats, or to Green general election challengers.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 13, 2007 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider, I believe I first espoused the "magic 41" on this list. I'm ready to "Monkey Wrench Gang" the workings of the federal government legislative process on every bill. Period.

Oh, Norman Rogers? Go fuck yourself. Repeatedly. With a rusty implement.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 13, 2007 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

There is also the committee system -- and the Democrats control that in both houses of Congress.

True -- once a bill hits the floor, it only takes a few dozen Dems to join the lockstep GOP in the House to create the necessary majority to pass any odiferous no-strings bill. In the Senate, the GOP's bar is even lower.

But that's the key, and one the GOP used to obstruct things for decades: Keep bills bottled up in Committee.

Remember how Gingrich "shut down the government" by refusing to bring funding bills up for a vote?

It's all about framing, and if the Dems can't muster enough votes to hogtie Mr. Bush, and if they had the spine for it (that's the biggest 'if' of them all), and could frame it as "we will give money to Bush only if he begins 'redeployment'" -- they could prevail.

Main thing though is to remember that the levers of Congressional power aren't just at final vote time, or in filibusters. There's huge benefit to be had in chairing the Rules committee and holding the Speakership & majority leader positions.

They should use it.

Posted by: Becca Morn on September 13, 2007 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

I know this may seem obvious, but I'm not quite sure I understand your thinking on option B...How is simply stone walling on the Pentagon's budget (refuse to pass anything, which effectively defunds the Pentagon completely without even forcing Bush to risk a veto) going to be electoral suicide? I guess your looking at this from the 'support our military=support our troops' meme which has certainly been the wet blanket meme of all time for the Democrats. It's really time to throw this off. There's a pretty sharp and distinct class, political and philosophical distinction between the 'Pentagon' and the 'troops'. The Pentagon is corrupt managment siphoning off billions while the troops barely get the armor they need--that's not for want of funding, that's because certain individuals at 'The Pentagon' determined we didn't need to 'defend' our troops at such a high cost.

In short, there's a huge disconnect here. If you ever saw the movie, Sir, No Sir, I think you'd understand that the anti-war movement among the 'troops' was what finally drove us out of Vietnam--maybe not the sole mover but certainly one of them.

My main point is that ascribing the immobility of certain political 'opportunities' to the electoral 'popularity' of the Pentagon is insular and inside beltway thinking. Most of us out here in 'real' America understand that the Pentagon is just another arm of the politicos which, in turn, is just another arm of the 'ruling class'. Our troops know it, too.

You only think it's electoral suicide because morons like Joe Klein and Bob Shrum still have your ear. I know, and my buddies in the USMC know, that, to put it bluntly, most of the folks who managed to make it to the 'Pentagon' are ambitious beyond the limits of the military. Like Petraeus, they're more into the politics of the war, which they can use for personal advancement, then the obvious death count. We also know they're killing us. And that we need someone who has power over them to say something very simple: 'stop'....

Posted by: delicatemonster on September 13, 2007 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

initiate the political crisis that will lead to the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

I think that is what the Democrats should do. It means the soldiers in Iraq might be left without as many supplies as they are receiving now, but their privation will not rally support for the president's policies. It will reinforce the reality of their sacrifice for Bush's useless mission.

The only real obstacle to bringing the government down and to the brink of impeachment is the Democratic leadership. What prevents them from doing that is the fear that the middle classes and big business lobbyists. Will mom and pop America really support Republicans again if the Democrats initiate a political crisis and the president holds the troops in Iraq hostage? Democrats do not want to find out. Despite what the electorate did in 2004, it is difficult to believe they would continue to support Republicans in 2008. The professional politicians do not want to risk elections and lobbyists' money by forcing a political crisis, which means that plan B is to wait out the president's term. I think a parliamentary system would be more responsive to the needs of bringing down a criminal government. Let's have a constitutional convention.

Posted by: Brojo on September 14, 2007 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Tim Johnson is back from the hospital. Just so you know.

Posted by: Lucy Beloungy on September 14, 2007 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Meanwhile, our military leaders will continue to control the battlespace and take the fight to our enemies."

Which enemies, Norman? Our Sunni enemies, or our Shiite enemies? (As for "controlling the battlespace", take a look at the maps accompanying Gen. Jones' new pessimistic report, which confirm -- as Petraeus, oddly, failed to mention -- that the reason the death rate in Baghdad has been dropping recently is simply taht the Shiite militias have now succeeded in driving most of the Sunnis out of it already: http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/09/a_tale_of_two_mapes.php .

Really, at this point Rogers and the other members of Bush's rapidly shrinking remaining cheerleading squad have become more grimly funny than anything else -- and what makes them such is the number of unquestioned conservatives and non-doves who have jumped ship by now on this war. Examples in the last few days:

George Will ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/10/AR2007091002065.html ):

Bill Buckley (who seems to be straining to take both sides at once: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MTJlZmI0YWI1NjI1MzgzMjEyNDk2NDA1MWRiYWE5NWE= );

and -- last but definitely not least -- Petraeus' superior Adm. Fallon, the current head of Centcom, from whose lips the words "ass-kissing little chickenshit" have apparently escaped to describe Petraeus and accuse him of rigging his data to flatter the Bush Administration ( http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39235 ; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/08/AR2007090801846_pf.html ).

In short, the remaining Bushites still haven't caught onto the fact that they are now largely isolated and scorned even on the Right. It's rather like those Road Runner cartoons in which Wile E. Coyote hasn't begun to fall yet because he hasn't realized that he's already walked over the edge of the cliff.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on September 14, 2007 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Garret Keizer in Harper's (Oct) calls for a general strike by US workers who oppose the Iraq war and the WOT. Although I'd love to see that happen I understand the fear involved with such an endeavor when even a 'Stop the War' bumper sticker can get you fired in many places. What I prefer, and what I'm doing, is not buying anything but absolute necessities. No more vacuous consumerism until US troops are home and the WOT becomes something other than just empty fear-mongering to allow for imperialistic aggression and resource domination. I'm sick of American culture and US politics. What if everyone who opposes this craziness would just quit buying stuff? Am I naive to think that it would make any difference?

Here's a short quote from Keizer's piece:

"You will recall that a major theme of the Bush Administration's response to September 11 was that life should go on as usual. We should keep saying that broad consensual Yes as loudly as we dared. We could best express our patriotism by hitting the malls, by booking a flight to Disney world. .... In hindsight it's not hard to see the roots of our predicament in the readiness with which we took that advice to heart. We did exactly as we were told, with a net result that is less an implicit defiance of terrorism than a tacit amen to the "war on terror," including the war in Iraq."

Posted by: nepeta on September 14, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Option A is what we did earlier this year, and its success depends on whether we can keep our own caucus together and find a Republican senator or two to side with us for several votes in a row.
What's with the "we" and "our own"?

Posted by: zenger on September 14, 2007 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

This is ridiculous. The Democrats need 60 plus votes to tie their shoes, but Republicans rule the roost with 41.

41 determined Democrats can block any funding bill without a deadline for withdrawal. Do it.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder on September 14, 2007 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Appropriations bills have to originate in the House, and last time I looked the Democrats control the House. All the Democrats have to do is prevent Republicans from amending the appropriations bill into something else. How hard can that be?


Posted by: Bruce Wilder on September 14, 2007 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

If the funding for the war in Iraq is ended, what happens to the 150,000 Blackwater mercenaries? Are they included in Pentagon funding bills or from some other source? Will they just be laid off?

Posted by: slanted tom on September 14, 2007 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

Well, to be fair, tom, the 150,000 contractors in Iraq aren't all "contract security" personnel - many are in support positions and are not under arms.
But that's a very good question.
Maybe they could ask the al-Maliki government for sanctuary and safe passage to Kuwait, Syria, or Iran?

Posted by: kenga on September 14, 2007 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

GC aka BG - Take a deep breath and say "serenity now!" Do you really think you could force Mark Warner or Bob Kerrey, or any other top shelf Senate prospect in any state, into pledging to cut our troops off at the knees when they are making progress? It ain't going to happen, and no more than 3% of the Democratic primary voters would back any gang of zealots trying to force that kind of commitment on them.

Posted by: minion w/out a rove on September 14, 2007 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Option A followed by complete capitulation when it is vetoed is what makes them look weak. They need to press Option A and have a follow-up (Option A lite perhaps). If they got something for their efforts we wouldn't call them cowards.

Posted by: Fr33d0m on September 14, 2007 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider wrote: "Having spent the better part of eight months trying to explain this to people--and hearing, over and over again, insane shit like 'Democrats only need 41 votes in the Senate to stop the war,' I can say, categorically, that people still don't understand how the US Senate works."

Apparently some people indeed don't understand how the US Senate works. You, for example, seem to be unaware of the concept of a filibuster. The Senate Democrats need 41 votes to maintain a filibuster and block any legislation that continues funding for the occupation of Iraq.

Pale Rider wrote: "Despite all these pie-in-the-sky ideas that presuppose what the Senate could do [...] What needs to happen is that about twenty Republican Senators need to completely break with the President"

Talk about "pie-in-the-sky".

This is just the excuse that the Senate Democrats are peddling for their refusal to filibuster funding for the war -- "we can't stop the funding, we need forty percent of the Senate Republicans to do it."

Apart from the dishonesty of that excuse, do you seriously believe that almost half of the Senate Republicans are going to "completely break with the president"?

And you boast that you "know how the Senate works"?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 14, 2007 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

If the funding for the war in Iraq is ended, what happens to the 150,000 Blackwater mercenaries? Are they included in Pentagon funding bills or from some other source? Will they just be laid off?

They'll probably be stranded in Iraq and end up signing up with one of the warring factions. IOW, pretty much business as usual.

The Invisible Hand cannot be stopped....

Posted by: Disputo on September 14, 2007 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

it makes Dems look weak and whiny to introduce bills and then have them fail, which is almost certainly what would happen.

IMHO what makes Dems look weak is not fighting for what they believe in. It's not unmanly to fight and lose. It's unmanly to surrender without a fight.

PS: please excuse the use of a sexist term

Posted by: IMU on September 14, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

do you seriously believe that almost half of the Senate Republicans are going to "completely break with the president"?

Uh, it's pretty clear to the most casual reader that he doesn't seriously believe that, given that he's said about a dozen times now that he believes our only real option for getting out of Iraq is electing a new president. Think it was pretty obvious that he put the Senate Repubs thing out there as his argument for what would have to happen for the Senate to prevail against Bush on the war, not as a likely scenario.

Posted by: shortstop on September 14, 2007 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it's pretty clear to me that PR threw out the 20 GOP Senators need to break with the POTUS scenario as a strawman, just like he threw out the Dems filibustering their own legislation scenario. What most of us on here are arguing is simply for the Dems to stop funding the war and bring about a political show-down with the POTUS. Now one can argue whether or not that will work in the Dem's favor, but for PR to keep suggesting that the Dems do not have the power to do that is hogwash.

Posted by: Disputo on September 14, 2007 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Disputo wrote: "What most of us on here are arguing is simply for the Dems to stop funding the war and bring about a political show-down with the POTUS. Now one can argue whether or not that will work in the Dem's favor ..."

One can also argue whether the Senate Democrats should be concerned about what "will work in the Dem's favor" or concerned about ending the occupation and bringing the troops home from Bush's criminal war based on lies.

My impression is that the Congressional Democrats as a whole, and the Democratic leadership in particular -- and I am excepting genuine antiwar Democrats like Dennis Kucinich -- are primarily concerned about not rocking the boat with their corporate funders, particularly those in the military-industrial-petroleum complex who are profiting from or hope to profit from the Iraq war, and in this respect are not unlike the Replubicans. They are not concerned with "doing what's right" or with answering to the American people who voted them into the majority last November in the hope that they would bring a quick end to the occupation.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 14, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

stop funding the war and bring about a political show-down with the POTUS.

Give political crisis a chance.

No one knows how mon and pop America will react to such a confrontation to the president. It is my opinion even moderate Republicans want someone to stand up to the president's bad policies and lies. This is an opportunity for the Democrats to show moderate Republicans they have the courage to do what is right. By waiting for 2008 elections, the Democrats lose out on this chance to confront the president and demonstrate they are willing to do what is best for the country. Waiting for the 2008 elections reinforces to the anti-war Republicans and the leftist liberals the Democrats are weak and afraid.

Posted by: Brojo on September 14, 2007 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

One can also argue whether the Senate Democrats should be concerned about what "will work in the Dem's favor" or concerned about ending the occupation and bringing the troops home from Bush's criminal war based on lies.

Point taken. For sake of this discussion, I was naively equating the two.

Posted by: Disputo on September 14, 2007 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Waiting for the 2008 elections reinforces to the anti-war Republicans and the leftist liberals the Democrats are weak and afraid and co-opted by the same corrupting influences as the Republican leadership.


Posted by: Brojo on September 14, 2007 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Seeing 20 Republican Senators break with the President isn't pie in the sky--it's going to have to happen at some point. It's not a strawman. It's the only way to force through legislation that will force the President's hand. If you force the legislation to his desk, and he vetoes it, you have to find the Republican House caucus ready to override and you have to hold the Republicans in the Senate to agree to the override. If they realize that the ship is sinking and they have to break with him, they could do it on something that doesn't bite too hard. There is no ideal piece of legislation to solve the problem or end the war--this is the kind of stuff dreamed up by maniacs like Kucinich that won't even be seriously considered as a viable amendment. It's a legislative process--it is slow and frustrating on purpose.

Had they done their job BEFORE the war, we wouldn't be in this mess. I suspect that no President will ever get to go to war with a blanket resolution and a blank check. I think that is the best we can hope for--that this is the last undeclared war of the modern era.

These Republicans are on the chopping block:
Jeff Sessions of Alabama
Ted Stevens of Alaska
Saxby Chambliss of Georgia
Pat Roberts of Kansas
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
Susan Collins of Maine
Norm Coleman of Minnesota
Thad Cochran of Mississippi
John Sununu of New Hampshire
Pete Domenici of New Mexico
Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina
Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
Gordon Smith of Oregon
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
John Cornyn of Texas
John Barrasso of Wyoming
Michael Enzi of Wyoming

You could get Smith, Coleman, Collins, Alexander, Sununu and Sessions. In addition to these, there are Republicans who are retiring and/are ready to break with the President or have already broken with the President on previous pieces of legislation. I suspect you could get Warner, Lugar, Snowe, Grassley, Hagel and a few others that might decided to break with the President for 2010 and skew moderate. You won't get a core group of about twenty hard-right nutcases, so you've got to cajole twenty and create a bloc that agrees to go along with a carefully crafted piece of legislation. That's not a strawman--that's the bitter pill that has to be swallowed.

You simple won't get Inhofe, Stevens, or Roberts. You won't get Lieberman, and you might lose an idiot like Nelson of Nebraska or Landrieu. So it's an uphill climb to find people of conscience. Polls certainly help. Having the President give disasterous speeches and use verbiage like "we're kicking ass" certainly helps. It does not help to sit in a pile of diapers and cry wah wah wah about the Democrats. All you're doing is displaying a fundamental lack of pragmatism. Yeah, it would be great to have no military and a billion dollars to build frisbee golf courses for welfare recipients in every major city, but...whatever.

Nothing happens until you separate the wheat from the chaff and make this goddamned war entirely the President's problem and remove the cover he gets from the Senate Republicans. He's hiding behind them and General Petraeus.

And even then--even then--there is no way to realistically defund the war and bring the troops home. He will hold them hostage, as is the prerogative of the Commander in Chief. This is his war. He calls the shots. It's written into a document they have trashed called the Constitution. Fucking change that power and take it away, I guess. It's the only part of the document they haven't taken a blowtorch and scissors to.

But tell us again how 41 Senators can realistically filibuster legislation sent over from the House that has been in development for months that can't technically be filibustered, introduced by the Majority Leader on his calendar.

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 14, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'll explain it one last time, PR. We're not talking about magically passing magical lege. That's an empty straw that you have been sucking on this entire thread. We're talking about passing *no* lege. Stop funding the war. Just stop. Stop. We want to bring about a political crisis that will force the entire country to see with wide open eyes how evil GWB is.

Now if you want to discuss how this will play out, fine, but stop pretending that the Dems don't have this power. Call us names for thinking that the USAmerican public will side with the Dems in such a showdown, if you must, but stop the bullshit about impotent Dems being handcuffed by the system. They are only as impotent as they want to be.

Posted by: Disputo on September 14, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting to see some polling outfit discover what would really be the public opinion if the war was defunded. The results might be surprising.

Posted by: burgher on September 14, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

We're talking about passing *no* lege. Stop funding the war. Just stop. Stop. We want to bring about a political crisis that will force the entire country to see with wide open eyes how evil GWB is.

You cannot stop funding the DoD. That's electoral oblivion. YOU don't care about whether Democrats will ever be elected; I do. I care whether there are Democrats representing me in Congress. That's just basic fucking sanity--we now see what having a Republican House, Senate, Judiciary and Executive will do to this country. NO DEMOCRAT HAS EVER FUCKED UP AS BAD AS GEORGE W BUSH HAS. That's a fact even you Democratic Party hating ultra leftists cannot argue with. So I will straighten this out once and for all--I am a partisan for the Democratic Party because they are the party that has the best chance of undoing the current fuckup and preventing the next one. I don't care what you think of the Clintons--how many people died when he lied?

If you swallow the poison pill, shut down the funding, stop the flow of money to the DoD, you make it so that the Democrats will be responsible--in a false construct of Republican invention--for leaving America undefended from its enemies. You stop the flow of money into the hospitals that care for the troops, the families and the retirees, you stop their pay, you stop the funding for the housing that houses their families and you cut off the industries--which you no doubt see as evil--that provide them the gear they need. This in turn causes those industries to collapse or miss paying their bills--which causes a calamitous effect throughout the economy. Nice going. But you don't care--you don't care whether we ever elect another Democrat. You have a narrow view that serves your one interest.

The DoD, and I will anticipate and cut you off, has *BILLIONS* that it COULD shift but won't. The DoD is not going to cut off the flow of money to Lockheed, Titan, Boeing, CACI, SAIC, McDonnel Douglas, Booz-Allen and so on and so forth to save the Democrats. They will cut them off at the knees while still not interrupting money already in the stream to the big guys. They'll cut the little guys off at the knees. The Secretary of Defense is a political appointee, after all.

The Democrats are NOT the Commander in Chief. Therefore, they do NOT have the power to wage war.

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 14, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and ask Newt Gingrich how it worked out for him to shut down the goddamned governmnet.

*Jeeeeeeeeee-eeee-zus*

You don't shut down the government. And you certainly don't take the symbolic step of shutting down funding to the military. You can symbolically shut down funding to any Federal agency, from the Post Office to the Pentagon to the National Arboreatum, and people will scream.

But what do you care? IN the next two election cycles, the Republicans will simply take the House, Senate and Executive back and then things will be all hunky fucking dory, won't they?

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 14, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

When the Republican Congress withheld funding during the Clinton administration there was no unpopular occupation. These are clearly different times, and there is no real evidence the electorate would turn their backs on the only alternative to more Republican corruption and war. But there is a chance. Some anti-war advocates are unwilling to take that chance, and almost all Democratic professional politicians are unwilling to.

Pale Rider has no confidence in the electorate. When the president holds the troops in Iraq hostage without supplies, he thinks the electorate will blame Democrats. With the results of the 2004 elections, he may be correct, but I would hope the electorate now understands W. Bush is a liar and his administration the most corrupt in history. I still think the Democrats have a chance to show moderate Republicans and leftist liberals they are willing to confront the president, and thus win their support.

Pale Rider and the professional Democratic politicians already think they have the support of the independents, leftist liberals and some moderate Rebublicans. They are unwilling to stop the funding that kills Iraqis just in case they lose the support of the independents and middle American moderates. They will not lose the support of liberals, so they have nothing to gain and much to lose if they should force a political crisis.

This type of political calculation will probably work to win a Democratic victory in 2008, but it is very dangerous for the long term political success of the Party. Leftist liberals are not going to support Democrats if we are still in Iraq by 2012, and the middle Americans are going to revert back to their moderate conservative support for Republicans. Democrats could appeal to them both now and perhaps solidify their future support by confronting W. Bush.

Posted by: Brojo on September 14, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm all for trying Option A, but it makes Dems look weak and whiny to introduce bills and then have them fail, which is almost certainly what would happen. Is that what we want? And what comes next after that?"

Kevin, this is the thinking that has Congress at a 20+% approval rating.

Perception is reality, and the perception is the Dems aren't doing enough to stop the war; they're ineffectual and capitulate to a massively unpopular President. By continuing on their current course they are accomplishing two things. One of which is alienating the grass roots who's support they need in the next election. And secondly they're turning off new voters who can finally give them the majority they need.

The perception they need to create is one of REPUBLICAN hindrance. Let the GOP Fillibuster, let Bush Veto. When the election rolls around the narrative will be that Democrats who voted their convictions were derailed by GOP "obstructionists". It won't be that whiny wimpy Dems caved into a historically unpopular President.

This is what will motivate voters to elect a larger Democratic majority. And a larger Democratic majority is what it will take to reverse the damage Bush has wrought over the course of his Presidency.

Posted by: Sauce on September 14, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, if you follow Brojo off that cliff, you're going to hand the presidency over to John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Rudy Guiliani.

Now I ask you--as someone who has listened to these men speak in the Republican debates--how the fuck can you honestly say there's no difference between the two parties? You could stop the war in Iraq, but you'd likely hand the presidency over to one of those three. I wonder what war those assholes would start in order to feed their own war fetish. Because after all, you just set a precedent Brojo. If a Republican starts a bad war, don't worry--the Democrats will fall on their sword and stop it so that the next Republican in line can get elected and start a brand new shiny turd of a war.

See, there's a thing called precendent. It comes back to bite people in the ass.

Have you looked at Guiliani lately? Heard what he has to say?

I still think the Democrats have a chance to show moderate Republicans and leftist liberals they are willing to confront the president, and thus win their support.

How? How do you support a supposition like this with no specifics? You're blathering without details and you have a rigorously self-centered view of how things work. YES, the polls show that the American people want our troops out of Iraq. YES, the Democrats have actually done things to try to get our troops out of Iraq. The disconnect occurs when one fails to comprehend one simple fact--

The Commander in Chief is the only person who can pull the troops out of Iraq.

If you could read, you'd be doubly dangerous, because then it would give you the chance to use actual specifics to prop up an argument that has no basis in reality, as opposed to carrying on as you are doing. You conflate "independents" and "Republican moderates" and "Middle American moderates" as if these are terms you actually understand.

What is a "Middle American moderate?" How many of them are there? How do they traditionally vote? What demographic are we talking? White people, aged 35-55 who live in trailer parks between the Ohio River and the Sierra Nevadas? Are they people who make more than $100K per year?

It would help if you had actual knowledge to back up your broad assertions about how I'm wrong, because all you're doing is creating false categories to jam segments of the electorate into in order to create a masterfully dishonest version of a reality no one but yourself can see.

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 14, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and all the tactics that have been cited as ways to stop the war--cutting funding, passing Senate resolutions, ordering the DoD to report to Congress--all of these things were tried by the Senate Republicans in the 1990s to STOP President Clinton from using the military.

Remember how that was? McCain and Dole went nuts during the 1990s, trying to use every parliamentary trick in the book to limit the use of US forces abroad. They passed resolutions and limited funding and gave speech after speech extolling the rights of the Legislative Branch to limit and curtail the use of military force by the Commander in Chief.

Zero. That's how many victories they won. Because it drove them batshit crazy that President Clinton was the Commander in Chief. Flag officers routinely disparaged and insulted Clinton. Bureaucrats in the Pentagon did everything they could to feed the Republicans derogatory information and make Clinton look bad. They dragged their feet, specifically, on deploying Apache attack helicopters to attack the Serbs.

And they never, ever won, not once. Because Clinton was Commander in Chief. So what did Bush do in 2000? He ran as the candidate who would "rescue" the military. "Help is on the way," he said. "Two of our divisions would have to report, not ready for duty, sir" because Clinton had deployed brigades overseas.

How's that "help is on the way" statement look to people now?

Posted by: Pale Rider on September 14, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

"This type of political calculation will probably work to win a Democratic victory in 2008, but it is very dangerous for the long term political success of the Party." - Brojo

"The perception they need to create is one of REPUBLICAN hindrance. Let the GOP Fillibuster, let Bush Veto. When the election rolls around the narrative will be that Democrats who voted their convictions were derailed by GOP "obstructionists". It won't be that whiny wimpy Dems caved into a historically unpopular President." - Sauce

Pale Rider is the voice of political caution. Both Brojo and Sauce share a voice of political conviction and I think, a general sense of reality about the current mood of the majority of the country. I see the possibility of either POV as turning out to be the correct one. However, I might say that if there was ever a time to go with political conviction, throwing caution to the wind, it is now. With Bush at 36% approval in general and much lower approval for Iraq, can there be a better time for resolute action by Dems to be given a chance? If not now, then when? I am becoming more and more cynical about the Democratic Party, not to mention being tremendously disappointed by it. If it won't represent my views actively in regard to this criminal war and Bush's devious foreign policy in general, then I'll be sitting at home on election day until another more liberal party becomes competitive. My nightmare is that given a Dem election win in 2008 not much will change in the 'big' picture in any case. Hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: nepeta on September 14, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Party Democrats understand that the war and W. Bush have driven most decent thinking Americans who voted Republican in 2004 into their camp. They do not want to give the opposition any reason to appeal to this constituency and not vote out the Republicans in 2008. This is a reasonable attitude, considering the electoral results of 2004.

Antiwar advocates want to end the war and hold the criminals who started it responsible. Some also want fundamental changes made to long held US foreign and political economic policies. Party Democrats are reluctant to act on these desires because they think it will cost them the support of a significant moderate constituency that has become disaffected with the Republicans. The more cynical among the antiwar advocates, like myself, think the Democratic leadership is more concerned about the same big business interests of the Republicans than ending the war and changing America's political course. We think that even if the Democrats win every seat in Congress and the presidency in 2008, the US will not withdraw from Iraq and the US will not change its imperial foreign policies and it will not improve the political economy to better distribute its wealth. In this regard, passionate antiwar advocates, most are not cynical, who have become disillusioned with the Democrat's inability to confront W. Bush and press for the withdrawal from Iraq and other important issues, do not accept the arguments that support for Democrats is a solution to our national problems.

Passionate antiwar advocates may not be electorally significant and they may be taken for granted by the Democrats. One perception of the Democrats held by both passionate antiwar advocates and moderate Republicans is their lack of conviction and courage to confront antagonists. It is possible that forcing a political crisis by withholding funding could change that perception of both of these constituencies. Perhaps that is a naive hope. Party Democrats know conflict generates the glare of the relentless MSM propaganda lies that they will have to counter to make their case to the constituencies they need to win elections. The way things are right now, they do not have to do that and risk losing in 2008. If the coming Democratic administration ends the occupation by 2010, the skeptical can sigh with relief. If not, we have to become even more politically active and support the Sheehan's to rid the opposition party of its too moderate leaders.

Posted by: Brojo on September 15, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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