'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, March 23, 2007

Remember the Gang of Four 

The supplemental funding bill has cleared the House with exactly the number of votes required for passage:

The House of Representatives voted today, by the narrowest possible margin and after an unusually emotional debate, to set a timetable for bringing American troops home from Iraq.

The bill received 218 votes in favor, the minimum needed for passage in the 435-seat chamber. There were 212 votes opposed. The Democratic leadership held the voting open for two additional minutes past the originally scheduled 15 to lock up the majority. Vote-counters had predicted beforehand that the outcome would be very close.

Of course, the timetables are not binding upon the President, as he now has the funds to continue to do as he wishes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, even, when the mood strikes, Iran, assuming, of course, that they survive the Senate, which is doubtful.

Who made this victory for the proponents of perpetual war in the Middle East possible? It's shocking, and should never be forgotten:

With Democrats holding 233 seats and Republicans with 201, Democrats were able to afford only 15 "no" votes. Accordingly, Pelosi, and her leadership team spent days trying to convince members that the bill was Congress' best chance of forcing Bush to change course—an argument that was aided when they added more than $20 billion in domestic spending in an effort to lure votes.

They got a breakthrough Thursday when four of the bill's most consistent critics said they would not stand in its way. California Democrats Lynn Woolsey, Diane Watson, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters said they would help round up support for the bill despite their intention to personally vote against it because it would not end the war immediately. "Despite my steadfast opposition, I have told the speaker that I will work with her to obtain the needed votes to pass the supplemental, but that in the end I must vote my conscience," said Rep. Diane Watson, D- Calif.

Is there any need to comment upon such self-serving personal and political expendiency? No doubt all four forcefully went about the task of persuading others to vote for the bill, because, if they failed, they would have then faced the prospect of drawing straws to determine who would be required to vote against their conscience for Pelosi. Rarely has there been such a compelling example of the much maligned situational ethics associated with some Californians.

Woolsey, Watson, Lee and Waters, the Gang of Four that rescued funding for the President's wars in the Middle East, while keeping their own voting records scrupulously clean. The Iraqis and the Afghans will have to liberate themselves, as there is no prospect that the American political system will relinquish its grip upon their countries. A revolt within the US military is possible, probably more so as a consequence of this vote, but remote.

War with Iran is now a near certainty, as it provides an escape route for those who voted for this measure as well as those who only worked for its passage. Defeat of the bill was not only essential for the ongoing vitality of the antiwar movement in this country, as discussed here yesterday, but to also impair the ability of the President to expand the war. The Iranians, like the Iraqis and the Afghans, have been left to their own devices. We will have nothing to say about the decisions they make as to how to best defend themselves. No doubt the Gang of Four will express appropriate sentiments of sadness as violence in the Middle East intensifies as a consequence of their actions.

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