Pinning the ‘fail’ on the donkey

Democrats again keep a dead war alive.

by Adri Mehra

If the American occupation of Iraq is a quagmire, consider the Democrats expert distributors of quicksand.

After five months of doing nothing but blabbering and patting themselves on the back, the Democrats went ahead and did precisely what they promised they wouldn’t do – they rubber-stamped the Bush administration’s stupefying and increasingly brutal bloodbath in Iraq, using the mirage of a phony “deadline” next year to bait the war-weary constituents who elected them last November.

To the surprise of no one conceived before the Macarena, the Democratic-controlled Congress passed bills in both the House and the Senate authorizing over $120 billion to continue the illegal invasions of the sovereign nations of Iraq and Afghanistan for the next fiscal year, and an additional $50 billion is still on the table for 2009, according to federal budget numbers.

But in order to sucker the average American disgruntled with the phony war, the Dems had to toss in a quick-burning-but-pretty-sparkly firecracker: a pull-out date for U.S. troops – Mar. 31, 2008 for the Senate and Sept. 1, 2008 for the House.

Never mind that even the doomed Saddam Hussein had a better chance of survival than such a rose-tinted fiction of a timetable. My fifth-grade notepad has more binding than that resolution.

Put simply, we all know that a pull-out date will come and go, considering, uh, Bush will still be president at that point, and, lest we forget, executive power is as strong (and as frequently utilized) as it has ever been in the history of American government.

Look no further than Bush’s vast employment of a little-known technique of legislative gamesmanship known as the “presidential signing statement” – a simple, written pronouncement modifying the meaning of a standing law – which is even better than a veto, and thus has been used by Bush over 130 times to directly challenge 810 federal laws, according to the Boston Globe.

Sure, a bill actually vetoed by Bush might be just about as rare as a puce DeLorean, but tell that to advocates of stem-cell research, who saw Bush exercise his hammer of refusal for the first time in his career at the hands of their progress.

It is true that back in Ye Olden Political Epoch of Sept. 25, 2006 (last fall), Bush vetoed a bill that would have loosened restrictions on federal funding for stem-cell research.

At the time, Bush warned that if the soon-to-be-dead bill became law, “American taxpayers would, for the first time in our history, be compelled to fund the deliberate destruction of human embryos, and I’m not going to allow it.”

Of course, there is the sickening irony of those very same American taxpayers being compelled to “fund the deliberate destruction” of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis in the theater of a grisly occupation, but let’s face it – why kick Bush’s dead horse (lame duck sitting executive that he is) when we can haul so much ass (Democrats) in the interim?

Was anyone really naïve enough to expect the Democrats to do anything at all with their supposed “mandate” in last fall’s electoral landslide?

Their first order of business was to vote down the anti-war hero of their party, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), for House majority leader, opting instead for Zionist hawk Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), even though Murtha was a decorated Marine colonel from the Vietnam War, and Hoyer never even served.

Soon after that, new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) picked the famously inept Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) to chair the influential House Intelligence Committee.

What’s Reyes best known for?

In a late-afternoon interview with Washington’s Congressional Quarterly magazine in December 2006, Reyes incorrectly said that al-Qaida was “predominantly probably Shiite.”

When subsequently asked whether radical Islamic group Hezbollah was Sunni or Shiite, Reyes answered, “Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah? … Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

Hey, sounds like a great guy to be overseeing the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, the State Department, the Treasury and the entire military!

Especially when you consider the fact that Reyes lacks the most basic knowledge about the war on terror!

Wow, what a winner! Them Democrats must be so proud!

Nowhere near as proud, however, as those of us anti-war voters who put Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in office based on his formal Peace First pledge to vote against further funding of the occupation.

“Keith was a reliable peace candidate, it seemed. He had been there for years at the marches and rallies and meetings,” lamented activist and Ellison campaign volunteer Charley Underwood in a written apology mailed to Ellison’s constituents last month.

“We trusted him, but we were mistaken,” Underwood concluded.

For those of who have felt betrayed by a new Democratic Congress that rewards the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton war machine for its genocidal tactics, I feel for you.

Come November 2008, perhaps you won’t be so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for either party, for as independent citizen de force Ralph Nader once said, Republicans and

Democrats are the same monster with different makeup.

Until then, however, the quicksand rises.

Adri Mehra welcomes comments at [email protected].