Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Bipartisan support for the war must now be accomplished by any means necessary:
The most outspoken critics of the $124 billion wartime spending bill in the House are facing withering support in their fight to defeat it.
California Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey said that many of their liberal colleagues were caving under pressure from Democratic leaders who, according to at least one congressman, have threatened to block requests for new funds for his district.
They also cited MoveOn.org's endorsement of the measure Monday as a blow to their efforts.
"For people who are undecided and looking for a reason to vote for the supplemental, MoveOn is going to make a difference, providing instant cover for these members," Woolsey said.
"In six months, I fear they will be really sorry because the president isn't going to do what they want," she added, referring to waivers in the bill that allow the president to circumvent certain requirements.
As posted here yesterday, MoveON.org has revealed itself as little more than the liberal arm of the Democratic Leadership Council. Corporate memberships will no doubt be announced shortly, but probably disguised as foundation grants:
One congressman, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution from leaders, bristled at how aggressively he was being pressured to vote for the bill, singling out Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) as especially forceful.
"I really resent this," the lawmaker said. "Rahm Emanuel told us a vote against this bill is a vote to give the Republicans victory."
The congressman also noted that Democratic leaders had "made clear" to him that they might yank funding requests he had made for projects in his district if he did not support the measure.
Democratic whips, all deputies of Clyburn, approached members on the House floor Monday night.
A jovial Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger went up to fellow Maryland Rep. Albert Wynn as he sat off the floor with a reporter and told Wynn that a vote against the bill was a vote for Republican victory. He waved a copy of the MoveOn.org press release backing the measure.
"Have you seen this?" Ruppersberger asked.
"Yeah, who did that?" replied Wynn, a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus.
"Some people we asked to put out a press release to get you to vote for the bill," Ruppersberger joked. He razzed the noncommittal Wynn a few moments longer, pretending to twist his arm, then headed off to reprise the routine with another Out of Iraq Caucus member, Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings.
First things first: Eli Pariser, go fuck yourself.
Some anti-war activists assailed MoveOn.org's approach to the Iraq bill, alleging that the organization had used a skewed poll to conclude that 85 percent of its members backed the measure.
"MoveOn put out a dishonest poll that did not offer its members a real choice to end the war, and now the peace movement is lobbying activists to reform MoveOn or drop off its list," David Swanson, a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, said in an e-mail to The Politico. "I unsubscribed from MoveOn this morning."
In the poll, MoveOn.org gave its members a choice of supporting, opposing or being "not sure" of the plan proposed by the Democratic leadership, according to an e-mail sent to members Sunday by MoveOn.org official Eli Pariser.
It did not mention a more aggressive withdrawal proposal backed by Woolsey, Waters and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).
Pariser said MoveOn.org had held out as long as possible before backing the leadership proposal.
"We were basically declining to take a position as long as we could to strengthen the hand of the progressives. We did the poll at the last time we felt we could have an impact on the final vote."
He said he would support the progressive proposal if it came to a vote. "We'll encourage people to vote for that and for the supplemental," he said. "We are trying to end the war. That's the mandate."
Now, with that out of the way, let's acknowledge the enormity of what the House Democrats are about to do. They are going to give Bush a blank check to continue the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, with cosmetic timetables for withdrawal designed to deceive the public into believing that they oppose Bush's policy. They have provided funding for military operations that can be expanded into an attack upon Iran, as they stripped the bill of language that would have required congressional approval.
In effect, as noted here last week and recognized by Pat Buchanan today, they have green lighted such an attack by adopting a Zionist exemption to the requirement that Congress declare war. In the post-9/11 world, the passage of this bill exposes bipartisan support for overt military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, probably, Iran, with covert operations in Lebanon and Palestine. In short, US war from the beaches of Beirut to the border of Pakistan (and, possibly, even beyond, into the tribal regions of Pakistan itself).
Predictably, as I described last month, after the Times of London reported that several generals were contemplating resignations if Bush expands the war into Iran, the military is the only remaining impediment to an act of collective political suicide:
After all, the military may have also been corrupted, but it is confronted with the degradation of its fighting capabilities with each passing day of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. More than anyone else, its generals have the experience to recognize the peril of a war with Iran, as I concluded in my post about military disobedience:
Such a story is striking, because, if true, it is another indication of the profound dysfunctionality of American social life. The generals have come to the conclusion that others have already reached: there is no one or no institution outside the military capable of derailing the jingoistic plans of a rogue President.
But people like Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel, Eli Pariser, and others in the leadership of MoveON.org, such as Joan Blades, could care less. Self-assured in the belief that they will not personally experience the consequences, they reduce the death and destruction associated with these current and probable future conflicts to political opportunism. Death, torture, brain injuries, loss of limbs, sexual assault, post-traumatic stress, that's for Iraqis, Afghans and enlistees in the Marines, the Army and the Guard, while they fantasize about exploiting the victimization of others for electoral success and the joys of patronage.
If this war is launched, the consequences could be catastrophic. It could spread throughout the region; it could escalate to the point that the US uses tactical nuclear weapons; it could be, despite the best efforts of US military planners, open-ended. Who is to say that the Iranians cannot fight an asymmetrical conflict against us indefinitely after absorbing the destruction of a brutal air campaign? Apparently, if the Sunday Times article is credible, the US military is equally frightened about these possibilities, if not more so, and, in the absence of any meaningful public domestic opposition, some of its most prominent officers are considering their own form of civil disobedience to prevent it from happening.
As for MoveON.org itself, perhaps it is time to consider public confrontation and humiliation. The next time we learn of a purported MoveON.org antiwar event, like a vigil, or other such cynical nonsense, we might want to stop by and tell the participants, politely, of course, that we know that they, and the organization that they have affiliated themselves with, are the worst sort of hypocrites, professing a morality that conceals the most crass self-interest.