"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Anti-war Rising Tide: Peace in our Time

Call me stupid or just a Conservative/Republican/Bush Lapdog/war monger/chickenhawk..….whatever witty title in your disgust and anger makes you happier. As much as many in the media and anti-war faction of this country are concerned, as E.J. Dionne said this morning; the president by:

“insisting upon a confrontation will be another mistake in a long line of bad judgments about a conflict that grows more unpopular by the day.”

The “conflict” no doubt is Iraq, which I have heard distracted us from the “war on terror,” and “only creates more jihadis,” to name just two. How exactly it is more “unpopular by the day” is where I get lost or concerned. Undoubtedly unpopular to many, yet by what means does someone like Dionne use to arrive at this conclusion? Does he rely upon the media reportage? Does he rely upon polling? Does he rely upon speeches by say, Sean Penn and take this as representative of the majority of Americans? Since when have our elected officials really done what we want anyway? Does he rely upon statements by the likes of Nancy Pelosi following November’s election:

"Nowhere did the American people make it more clear that we need a new direction than in the war in Iraq."

If so, how exactly does she know? Is it because the majority changed and with the change does this then mean whatever she/they say is the “mandate,” is the “mandate?” But what if that isn’t truly how people feel? Does Pelosi rely of the orations of Sean Penn too?

Dionne sees the 218 to 212 vote as:

“a test of the resolve of the new House Democratic leadership and its ability to pull together an ideologically diverse membership behind a plan pointing the United States out of Iraq.”

Does E.J. really believe the Democrats are truly ideologically diverse or do you think he’s talking from a visual angle? Dionne sees this as a good indicator that Pelosi will be able to put up a good fight in making “a new direction,” a reality. Yet also must place a certain amount of the blame of Bush for his recent Saturday radio address in which the president used:

“harsh rhetoric against the House version of the supplemental appropriations bill to finance the Iraq war may have been decisive in sealing Pelosi's victory.”

I certainly hope he has noticed “harsh rhetoric” from both sides of the aisle although I have my doubts as he notices that Democrats did not splinter as “pro-Bush” people would have liked, but:

“Instead, antiwar Democrats, including Web-based groups such as MoveOn.org, discovered a common interest with their moderate colleagues.”

I don’t think he would refer to Conservative web-based groups as just web-based groups. In addition to the “common interest” discovery Dionne does mention the term “pork,” but only in so much as that is politics as usual; something I thought Nancy et al were against. Nothing new here, but swaying “moderate colleagues” becomes easier with Congressional additives and incentives:

  • $500 million for emergency wildfires suppression; the Forest Service currently has $831 million for this purpose;
  • $400 million for rural schools;
  • $283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract program;
  • $120 million to compensate for the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries;
  • $100 million for citrus assistance;
  • $74 million for peanut storage costs;
  • $60.4 million for salmon fisheries in the Klamath River region in California and Oregon;
  • $50 million for asbestos mitigation at the U.S. Capitol Plant;
  • $48 million in salaries and expenses for the Farm Service Agency;
  • $35 million for NASA risk mitigation projects in Gulf Coast;
  • $25 million for spinach growers;
  • $25 million for livestock;
  • $20 million for Emergency Conservation Program for farmland damaged by freezing temperatures;
  • $16 million for security upgrades to House of Representatives office buildings;
  • $10 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission for the Rio Grande Flood Control System Rehabilitation project;
  • $6.4 million for House of Representative’s Salaries and Expenses Account for business continuity and disaster recovery expenses;
  • $5 million for losses suffered by aquaculture businesses including breeding, rearing, or transporting live fish as a result of viral hemorrhagic septicemia;
  • $4 million for the Office of Women’s Health at the Food and Drug Administration; and a minimum wage increase, which is the subject of separate legislation.

From the Senate side of the meat processing (includes only the most egregious):

  • $1.5 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for recovery along the coast, including funding for Hawaii for an April 2006 flood;
  • $850 million for Department of Homeland Security grants ($625M for rail/transit grants, $190M for port security grants, and $35M for urban area security grants);
  • $660 million for the procurement of an explosives detection system for the Transportation Security Administration;
  • $640 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program;
  • $425 million for education grants for rural areas;
  • $388.9 million for a backlog of Department of Transportation projects;
  • $165.9 million (including $60.4 million for salmon fisheries in the Klamath Basin region) for fisheries disaster relief;
  • $100 million for the Democratic and Republican National Conventions;
  • $95 million for dairy producers;
  • $75 million for salaries and expenses for the Farm Service Agency;
  • $48 million in disaster construction money for NASA;
  • $25 million for grants through the Safe and Drug Free Schools program;
  • $25 million for asbestos abatement at the Capitol Power Plant;
  • $24 million to sugar beet producers;
  • $22.8 million for geothermal research and development;
  • $20 million for reimbursements to Nevada for “insect damage;”
  • $13 for "ewe replacement and retention;"
  • $12 million for Forest Service money requested by the president in the non-emergency FY2008 budget
  • $3.5 million for guided tours of the Capitol;
  • $3 million for sugar cane; and
  • Allows the transfer of funds from holiday ornament sales in the Senate gift shop.

Following the “anti-war tide rising” vote Speaker Pelosi said:

"I stand here with great pride on this historic day in the Congress of the United States. Proudly, this new Congress voted to bring an end to the war in Iraq."

That is indeed quite an accomplishment, something the president has been unable to do to date; all with only a victorious vote. But what is “an end?”

John Murtha “emotionally” stated:

"We are going to make a difference with this bill. We are going to bring those troops home. We are going to start changing the direction of this great country."

I wish he had mentioned what direction.

Is home the new agreed upon location for the redeployment of the military in the Middle East? It certainly would seem that bringing them all home would be appropriate with the “end to the war in Iraq.”

I guess the rising anti-war tide that Dionne avers to is none other than the same group in D.C. that has been against it for so long now. I don’t know that it’s rising but it certainly is more dramatic and fun to get people to see it that way even if it’s just politics as usual.

I believe the Democrats are going to be more successful than they intended in guaranteeing “the end is near.”

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