Ending the Iraq Debacle: It's Just A Matter Of Time? No

EJ Dionne's column, and I love EJ, is replete with many misconceptions and wrongheaded thinking, some of it his, some of it attributed to Democrats. I want to start with Speaker Pelosi's delusion:

Pelosi's case is that the war's congressional opponents have already helped move the debate by passing antiwar measures and by prying Republicans loose from the president's policy. "It is just a matter of time," she says, before Republicans can "no longer stay with the president.

This is a bad joke. Speaker, you pried no one loose and you never will. Until you get that right, you have no chance to effectively end the Iraq Debacle. This is quite dioscouraging to hear. Speaker Pelosi seems not to get it at all. The Republicans will never abandon Bush on Iraq. You must formulate your strategy accordingly.

Now the offensive from one of the guys we lionize hre, Jim Mcgovern:

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). . . sees Pelosi as a passionate opponent of the war who is in it to win in the legislative process. "For her, it's not therapy," he says.

Excuse me? Therapy? Why not call us idiot liberals while your at it. What in blazes is that supposed to mean Congressman? The contermpt ALL Democrats show for their base is amazing.

I would like to have an explanation from the Congressman as to what the hell he meant by that. And an apology I think is in order too.

Statements like Pelosi and McGovern made make it very hard for me to encourage folks to do what Dionne suggests:

In a divided system, democracy can be frustratingly slow. But it usually works. Critics of the war should spend less time mourning the setbacks of May and begin organizing for a showdown in September. They would profit from taking Barry Goldwater's long view.

In my previous post I did just that. But I'll be damned if Pelosi and McGovern don't make that a hell of alot more difficult with their thinking and insults.

They need to do better than that. and of course EJ is wrong on the supposed limit on Congressional power. EJ confuses the lack of will in the Democratc Party with lack of POWER in the Congress. Too many make the smae mistake. Sorry, EJ, do better next time too. I give them all poor grades in that column.

< Sadr: US Should Leave Iraq | Dodd: The Fight Continues; Obama: Learning To Fight >
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    As Green Day said (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Categorically Imperative on Fri May 25, 2007 at 10:59:44 AM EST
    wake me up when September ends.  EJ apparently didn't analyze the info he gathered before he wrote that column.  Democrats, again and again, promise to stand up to Bush and end the war at the expiration of the next Friedman.  It never actually happens, though.  And what, pray tell, does EJ expect to change between now and September to alter the fact that, in EJ's words, the Dems narrowly control the House and cannot effectively control the Senate on war votes thanks to Joementum's traitorous carcass?  What's that?  Not a damn thing?  Oh, well, thanks for playing.

    Pelosi will have more luck getting the GOP to vote for a constitutional amendment legalizing abortion on demand than she will "prying" Boehner's Bozo Brigade away from BushCo on the war.  What effing delusional fantasy world are these people living in?

    One day (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Edger on Fri May 25, 2007 at 12:54:12 PM EST
    funding the occupation of Iraq in it's present form will end.

    The presence will remain in the Green Zone Embassy complex, and in the bases established in the past 4 years, if the US is not driven out entirely by Iraqis by that time.

    The only questions that will remain will be why was it not stopped earlier, what kind of people we are, individually and collectively, and why collectively we allow conscienceless greed to rule this society.

    The people who persisted in demanding from the beginning that the invasion was wrong, and the people who persisted in their opposition to the occupation and all of the steadily mounting death and maiming and misery and hatred caused by it's continuance for politcal and personal gain, and the people who persisted in unyielding demands for defunding and stopping it earlier, will have clear consciences.

    Most of the rest will try to console themselves with 'ends justify means' rationalizing to be able to sleep at night. They'll be easy to know - they will be the ones that try to convince others that it was justified.

    Some of the rest won't even bother with that rationalizing. They will smile and go on with their conscienceless lives in denial and not caring that they contributed to much death.

    It will end. It might be too late for any hope of recovery of world respect and self respect. It will be too late for the people who were killed. But it will end.

    As nearly a million lives have ended.

    For what?

    If Pelosi goes to the matresses on Iraq (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Ben Masel on Fri May 25, 2007 at 01:35:01 PM EST
    she loses the ability to trade continued funding for her members domestic priorities. Follow the money.

    A noisy anti-war movement DOES let her drive a harder bargain, but does not end the War.

    Reed (RI) (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Ben Masel on Fri May 25, 2007 at 03:56:19 PM EST

    May 25, 2007
    Press Release

    Armed Services Committee Approves Nearly $579 Million for Rhode Island in Defense Authorization Bill

    WASHINGTON, DC - The Senate Armed Services Committee today passed legislation to authorize $578.9 million in defense and military construction funding for Rhode Island that U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) requested as part of the Department of Defense Authorization Bill for fiscal year 2008. These resources are in addition to the funds proposed under the Department of Defense's budget.

    We know he won't vote to cut the next installment for Iraq.


    Mikulski (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Ben Masel on Fri May 25, 2007 at 03:58:32 PM EST
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - In light of dramatic negotiations between congressional Democrats and Republicans on the emergency supplemental spending bill, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today applauded the passage of more than $650 million to address the funding shortfall for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This funding, which has bipartisan and bicameral support, will protect the health care coverage of nearly 6.1 million children nationwide, including more than 100,000 children in Maryland. This could mean as much as $65 million for Maryland in federal SCHIP dollars.

    Dorgan (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Ben Masel on Fri May 25, 2007 at 04:02:46 PM EST


    Washington -- The United States Congress today overwhelmingly approved an emergency appropriations bill that includes a provision championed by U.S. Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan and Congressman Earl Pomeroy that would bring relief to family farmers and ranchers devastated by weather-related disasters.

    Thanks for spelling this out (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by oculus on Fri May 25, 2007 at 04:19:29 PM EST
    as to benefit to individuals who voted "Aye."  very helpful information.

    Disgusting and true! (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 25, 2007 at 02:54:59 PM EST
    I smell a diary in here some place (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 25, 2007 at 03:08:49 PM EST
    Maybe even two ;).

    I wrote it last night, at that other place (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Ben Masel on Fri May 25, 2007 at 03:38:41 PM EST
    Here's Harkin (none / 0) (#18)
    by Ben Masel on Fri May 25, 2007 at 03:51:19 PM EST
    "I voted for the Iraq supplemental funding bill tonight because this legislation addresses critical domestic needs."

    Frustration (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by LarryE on Sat May 26, 2007 at 03:40:33 AM EST
    I expect McGovern - who voted against the supplemental - is just frustrated because his constituents keep demanding more of him. His insult doesn't bother me; I just let it wash over me.

    Actually, I read it more as an indication that members are feeling the heat and that's a good thing.

    Footnote one: David Obey also joined the ranks of the "idiot liberals" and voted against the supplemental. Maybe we should take that as an unspoken apology.

    Footnote two: Blowing my own horn, this was my take on the vote.

    Pelosi was asked about (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Fri May 25, 2007 at 10:31:59 AM EST
    "the majority of the Majority" this morning. She brushed off the concept.

    prying Republicans loose? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Fri May 25, 2007 at 10:42:40 AM EST
    They're falling all over each other defecting to the DLC side of the GOPDLC to form that veto proof majority.

    It'll happen any second now.............. (tapping foot... tapping.... tapping)

    Just ask talex, or read Dkos. They've got the hard numbers. Or percentages. Or something.

    There sure is a veto proof majority (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by andgarden on Fri May 25, 2007 at 10:43:58 AM EST
    . . .to fund the war no matter what.

    And a veto proof majority (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Edger on Fri May 25, 2007 at 10:55:09 AM EST
    to flip the finger and laugh at the electorate.

    Iraq Exit (none / 0) (#5)
    by Edger on Fri May 25, 2007 at 10:57:56 AM EST
    Pelosi can't hear with all that sand in her ears (none / 0) (#8)
    by TexDem on Fri May 25, 2007 at 12:29:01 PM EST
    from burying her head in the sand to avoid reality.

    Attention!! (none / 0) (#10)
    by talex on Fri May 25, 2007 at 01:32:52 PM EST
    Since when do you need votes (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Edger on Fri May 25, 2007 at 01:35:08 PM EST
    to NOT pass a bill?

    Yes! (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Categorically Imperative on Fri May 25, 2007 at 02:25:17 PM EST
    Let's let the sensible centrists drive us off a cliff at the expense of countless lives and staggering sums of money.

    The "democracy takes time" argument is particularly facile.  Considering that the war was THE ISSUE that gave Dems control of Congress, and since huge majorities of Americans want a timetable NOW, one would imagine it wouldn't be too tough to avoid caving with another blank check.


    Preach that TRUTH! (none / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 25, 2007 at 03:07:45 PM EST
    Preach It!

    Timetables (none / 0) (#19)
    by talex on Fri May 25, 2007 at 03:53:08 PM EST
    Even though the public likes timetables they give us the majority of the blame for the vetoing of the one we sent up.

    CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. May 4-6, 2007

    "Who do you think is MORE responsible for the fact that the U.S. troops currently in Iraq have not yet received additional funds: President Bush, because he vetoed the Iraq funding bill passed by Congress, OR, the Democrats in Congress, because they passed an Iraq funding bill that they knew Bush would veto?"

    President Bush 34%

    Democrats 44%

    In Congress Both (vol.)  14%

    Now we received 10% more blame that Bush did. What do you think the number would have been the second time? Higher? Yep.

    And given that the minority in the Senate could have held up a timeline bill anyway why would you expect one?

    Here is some more numbers to ponder.

    CBS News/New York Times Poll. May 18-23, 2007

    "Which of these comes closest to your opinion? Congress should block all funding for the war in Iraq no matter what. Congress should allow funding, but only on the condition that the U.S. sets benchmarks for progress and the Iraqi government are meeting those goals. OR, Congress should allow all funding for the war without any benchmark conditions."

    Block All 13%

    Fund With 69%

    Allow All  15%

    As you can see the public is for funding with benchmarks in this particular question...

    And very against defunding when given the alternative choice.

    So much for "Date Certain" although it would be interesting to see that fanciful question posed in a poll.


    Have you not noticed yet, talex? (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Edger on Fri May 25, 2007 at 04:23:24 PM EST
    No one is buying.

    Amy more than they bought the rethug line of excuses.


    Nice try, but... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by LarryE on Sat May 26, 2007 at 03:30:39 AM EST
    ...this just won't fly.

    The form of the first question is biased; it almost guarantees more people would blame Congress. Any question of the form "who do you blame more for the result, A who did something or B who did something first knowing that A would do what they did" is very likely to get a similar result.

    For example: "Who do you blame more for the wet floor: Mary, who spilled the drink, or Tom, who gave Mary the drink knowing she'd spill it?" More people will say Tom even though Mary is the one who actually spilled it.

    Suppose instead the question had been

    "Who do you think is MORE responsible for the fact that the U.S. troops currently in Iraq have not yet received additional funds: the Democrats in Congress, who passed a bill containing a timetable for withdrawal, something a majority of Americans supports, OR President Bush, who vetoed the bill because he would not accept any conditions?"

    Do you think the results might have been different? If you say that question is biased, I can say that nothing in that question is either untrue or misleading - and that the whole point is that how a question is phrased can and will affect the results, which is why the overall pattern of poll results is far more significant than any single instance.

    As for the other poll, it suffers less from bias (although the phrase "no matter what" certainly should raise an eyebrow) than from a lack of clarity and the assumption that certain key words mean the same thing to everyone. For example, just suppose the question has included an explanatory statement to the effect that blocking all funding would not leave the soldiers stranded but would require a rapid, safe withdrawal using already-appropriated and contingency funds. That is undeniably true but quite possibly not attached to the concept "block all funding no matter what" in a lot of people's minds. Would that have changed the result?

    More importantly, the large-scale support is for benchmarks which the Iraqis must meet. But the bill as passed does not accomplish that; in fact, Bush is free to waive the requirements. Which means that what was passed was closest to "allow[ing] all funding for the war without any benchmark conditions" - a course endorsed, according to your own citation, by only 15% of the public.

    As for the "fanciful" question about a "Date Certain," the very same poll you cite reports 63% of Americans favoring "a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sometime in 2008." So much for "so much for."


    Ha (1.00 / 2) (#32)
    by talex on Sat May 26, 2007 at 10:30:28 AM EST
    The form of the first question is biased; it almost guarantees more people would blame Congress.

    First of all your response is predictable from someone wanting to defend against the polls information.

    The question is not biased. It is straight forward giving facts to determine opinion on. It is the kind of question one would hear in a court argument all across this country everyday. It is the kind of question you would hear at water coolers all across the country on an infinite number of question everyday.

    As for your other opinion, speculation, and your own hand crafted questions - they certainly are not as reliable as a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. In fact yours are the opinion of one biased person as opposed the the opinions of many people in a scientific poll taken by a reputable polling company.

    The question is in a reliable poll and additional questions on the subject asked in a different manner got similar results.

    Keep on keeping on with your wingnuttery. You are doing just as the wingnuts do - believing what you want to believe regardless of any facts and trying your damnedest to explain facts away.


    You're projecting again, talex. (none / 0) (#33)
    by Edger on Sat May 26, 2007 at 10:40:41 AM EST
    One last time (none / 0) (#34)
    by LarryE on Sun May 27, 2007 at 04:22:41 AM EST
    Your answer, consisting entirely of assertions that completely ignore the arguments to which they are supposed responses, does not surprise me. It was, to use your word, predictable.

    I will, however, clarify one point which may have lead to a misunderstanding. I did not mean the first question was politically biased, I meant that it was structurally biased in that whatever it asked, the form would push respondents toward one answer over the other. I did not mean, as I realize it may have appeared, that I was suggesting than the pollsters - and by the way, it was a CBS/NY Times poll you quoted, not a CNN poll, at least get that part right - were pushing a certain political line. I meant they came up with a lousy question that could not be relied on for an accurate reflection of national opinion.

    I demonstrated that argument by posing a different question about the same matter, one that was just as "straight forward [in] giving facts to determine opinion," but which by little more than flipping the order of the parties, pushed a different answer. Yes, it could be argued my question was structurally biased but so was the original. And that was the point, one you did not even attempt to address, preferring feeble attempts at slaps to reasoned argument. Again, I am not surprised.

    Interestingly, a question more in line with my phrasing was asked in a CNN poll in early May:

    "As you may know, President Bush vetoed a bill passed by Congress that would have provided additional funds for the war in Iraq and would have set a specific date for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from that country. Do you approve or disapprove of Bush's decision to veto that bill?"

    The result was disapproval by 54%-44%, almost the exact flip of the CBS/NYT poll. Which seems to prove my point rather conclusively.

    (Sidebar: The idea that the original was "the kind of question one would hear in a court argument all across this country everyday" was quite amusing, since such arguments are almost invariably intended to push a certain conclusion favorable to that lawyer's client. To the extent your statement is true, to that same extent it actually endorses my argument.)

    As for the rest, I stand by my contention that for a good many people, "blocking all funding" would mean leaving the soldiers in Iraq without any resupply and so the question gives an unreliable result. I recall that during the Reagan years, people were asked about where the federal budget should be cut. Something over 40% cited "welfare." When the same question was asked except that instead of "welfare" it said "government aid to poor families," the percentage favoring a cut dropped to 7%. Rush Limbaugh is right that "words have meanings" - but they also have connotations and those connotations can often color how a word is perceived.

    I also stand by my contentions -

    • first that the public support for "funding with benchmarks" does not mean benchmarks that can be waived, because that makes no logical sense (and that the benchmarks can be waived is not opinion, it is fact), and

    • second that through the harshness of the language used, the poll understates the support for an immediate cessation of funding, because in several other polls the percentage has been higher. For example, in that same CNN poll, when asked about an option of providing no additional funds for the war and requiring a withdrawal by next March, 39% went for it. Offered the choice of providing funds with a withdrawal date, funds with benchmarks, and no funds with a withdrawal date, 24% opted for the third. Again, the form of the question affects the result so it is the overall trend and the compilation of several polls that tells you something, not just one.

    Finally, I note that you never responded to the fact that the "fanciful" question about a "Date Certain" that you wondered about had been asked in the same poll you cited. Once again, I am not surprised.

    Okay... (none / 0) (#35)
    by LarryE on Sun May 27, 2007 at 04:34:29 AM EST
    ...I screwed this up, let me try to disentangle it.

    The first poll question cited by Talex was indeed from a CNN poll. That's what I get for relying on my memory of the original post instead of going back to refer to it.

    However, that doesn't help his argument, in fact it helps mine. Because it was the same CNN poll I cited.

    Which means that the same poll had people disapproving of Bush's veto by 54%-44% but saying Congress was more responsible for it by 44%-34%. So people are saying that Congress is responsible for Bush doing something of which they disapprove.

    Which if it doesn't emphasize the "push" nature of the latter question, it at least emphasizes that how the question is phrased affects the answer.


    I'M READY TO FIGHT!!! (none / 0) (#27)
    by Aaron on Fri May 25, 2007 at 05:35:23 PM EST
    Wow, what an indictment, and how tragically flawed.  As if any form of peaceful activism can have any real effect on dictatorial leadership.  Americans could start taking to the streets and readying themselves for armed rebellion against this White House, and I'm pretty sure that George W. Bush would just order a brainwashed military to shoot everyone of us down as traitors to the Republic, when in fact it is our president who is the traitor to the Republic.  That's not hyperbole or rhetoric, to my mind that's a statement of fact.

    As to people engaging in physical activism as opposed to blogging, most adults are busy making a living and trying to survive in this fabulous economy we've got going where everybody (the middle class and the underclass) are working their ass off and hardly making enough money to get by. Who's got time for street activism besides college students and the unemployed.

    Perhaps our Democratic representatives are making the best of a bad situation, believing that this kind of capitulation is going to get them something down the road, but that doesn't make it any harder for WE THE PEOPLE -- who are supposed to be sovereign in this nation -- to swallow.  I suppose that the president will give the Democrats and us something in return for our continued cooperation on this bill and in the running of the government, but none of us know what that something is, so we can't say whether it was worth it or not.  I suspect only time will tell, but judging by the last seven years I'd say that no promised concessions or cooperation from this president can be trusted or worth what we have all sacrificed up to this point, in the final analysis.

    I have no doubt that come 2009 American troops will still be in Iraq, I guess I can only hope that Barack or Hillary will get us out, but at this point I think even that is doubtful, that's assuming that this president will agree to leave office peacefully when his term ends, something I'm not particularly sure either.  More and more it seems that our democracy has been completely co-opted, and it matters very little who is in any lesser office while God Emperor Bush reigns.  I hope and pray that is not the case, but if it is, I as an American am prepared to do whatever is necessary to reclaim my country, by any means necessary.  For I am a patriotic American who believes in democracy, and if these traitors want to fight me for it, I'm ready to lay down my life to get my country back, how bout you?

    oh my god (none / 0) (#28)
    by stravinsky7 on Sat May 26, 2007 at 12:06:25 AM EST
    This is my first blog post, ever.

    I have never voted, nor ever payed any attention to politics.  

    You must understand, I thought this was a romance, not a tragedy.  

    Agreed, that this is the long term plan, but in the sense that they, too, are rolling with the punches.

    In chess, the player who sees the most moves ahead will undoubtedly win.  In this respect, the American right has an extreme political advantage over any other group in existence, excepting the American government, itself.

    Consider, if you will, that this advantage becomes consciously exploitable when a player knows exactly how many moves ahead his or her opponents are able to themselves see.

    This quickly brings about another more important perspective, - the American right brings pieces to the table which no one else possesses.

    One of these is the ability to see more branches in the tree; another, the ability to ascertain which branches others see.  

    In my opinion, the extreme refinement of Republican rhetoric is a solitary piece, set solidly in the middle of our board.  

    I'm sure you can think of others.

    "Our board" because I am taking lessons...

    The Democrats have a comparable piece, but its movements are comparably crippled.  (I really hope this is a conscious decision.)

    Oh, wait...  What am I saying?  A more accurate metaphor would be our boards, plural.

    I'm sure I fit quite a few demographics, but certainly no one's playing against my insignificant self.

    a piece jumps off the table

    Anyways, having begun the momentous task of educating myself recently, I would like to give insight into that particular process.  If I don't now, I'll probably forget to.

    So here goes,

    I had become somewhat worried about the Iraq war, and wrote a paper about it in school. (I'm 29 years old, and tired of being broke)  Assuming that I had a good grasp of the situation, I decided to write the next paper, an Argument Paper, proposing that we should remain in Iraq.  
    I kind of drug my heels though.

    Then I saw "Why We Fight".

    It shocked, discouraged, and deeply, deeply, worried me.

    In the month since then, I have diligently increased my knowledge of our political situation.  I am, unfortunately, only a bit less worried today than then, and that is only because our government's corruption seems to be decentralized.

    In other words, it seems to be amazingly pervasive in issues regarding money (and with privatization, a great many things involve money).  But, it seems at least that a lot of individuals have their hands in the cookie jar.

    What worries me is how much time it took me to form a coherent picture of this political landscape.

    The present political situation is a freaking enourmous jig-saw puzzle, and the picture is ornate; one must have many pieces before it makes any sense.  The problem is that people simply can not, or do not, make the attempt.  

    Even if they feel something is wrong, a glance at the enormity of the puzzle pushes a button in them, and they give up.

    I have inquired into the political beliefs of the people I hang with, and only two had a clue as to what's actually happening in Washington.  

    Even those who are politically minded think that our government has relatively minimal amounts of corruption.  Without the perspective of corruption as documented in "Why we Fight", it is fair to say that Iraq is a failed cause, - a gigantic waste, but it is hard to understand exactly what went wrong.

    With a better understanding, the answer of what went wrong in Iraq is simply "Wu".

    For the uninformed, I must stress again, there is simply too much information to sort through, too many possibilities to sift through, for the vast majority to "get" anything.

    America is mightily confused.

    Her head is muddled with drugs and old age, TV, and sedentary induced stupidity.

    No corrupt officials, no freaky policies, and no military ventures are tied into any larger picture than the Bush administration by the politically correct mainstream media.

    Where something cannot logically tie into Bush it ties into nothing at all, such as our permanent bases in Iraq.

    Oh wait, that's not really in the mainstream media, yet.

    But it's on the radar.

    I suppose that if one were to use someone as a pawn, that pawn would need to be somewhat denser than the user.

    I've heard, however, that he's not as dense in person as his public persona implies.

    Sorry, I'm so ADD tonight.

    Basically, what I'm saying is that even with all the press our problems have been getting, America is oblivious to the real problems of greed and deceit that are destroying her.

    The only people who get the news are those who already have the bigger picture.  For everyone else, the news IS NOT an inroad to understanding the bigger picture.

    Thanks for the great stats and quotes, all.

    They stand in stark contrast to my generalizations.


    p.s. i'm sure that im not telling anyone anything new, but we cannot forget how important this part of the problem is, nor how difficult it is to overcome.

    If Why We Fight shook you up (none / 0) (#29)
    by Alien Abductee on Sat May 26, 2007 at 02:46:04 AM EST
    you may want to read some Andrew Bacevich and some Chalmers Johnson (here, here, and here, for instance) to make more sense of things.

    Or you may not, if you don't like that shocked, discouraged, and deeply, deeply, worried feeling.