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Democrats Ready to Fold Once Again on War Funding…

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A quick spine check of the Democratic Party has revealed Jell-O once again…

Reprinted fron the Washington Post

By Jonathan Weisman

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 5, 2007; Page A03  

Facing increasing evidence of military progress in Iraq, some Democratic congressional leaders are eyeing a shift in legislative strategy that would abandon a link between $50 billion in additional war funding sought by President Bush to a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Instead, they would tie the measure to political advances by the Iraqi government.

For nearly a year, Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to use war funds to push timelines for troop withdrawals, troop-training requirements, and prescribed periods of rest for weary soldiers and Marines.

Now, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) is examining a new approach, releasing war funds in small increments, with further installments tied to specific performance measures for Iraq’s politicians. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) also is searching for a new approach and has been briefed on the idea of more explicitly tying funds to political progress.

The new thrust has divided Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, some of whom say they will never approve additional funding for the Iraq war without troop-withdrawal timelines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) remains skeptical, House Democratic leadership sources said, and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has vacillated between seeking compromise with Republicans and holding firmly to troop-withdrawal language.

“We’ve been through all that,” Reid said yesterday of the new approach, suggesting the war-funding issue will wait until January. “I just think we need to figure out some way to fund a government and move on to next year.”

The new approach contains considerable political risks for Democrats. If they choose to adopt realistic measurements of political progress, they would be signaling a willingness to leave U.S. combat troops in Iraq far longer than Democratic voters want, said Michael O’Hanlon, a Democratic defense analyst at the Brookings Institution.

None of the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination is likely to embrace that, said O’Hanlon, who suspended his ties to the campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) after he wrote that Bush’s troop buildup was yielding positive results.

On the other hand, the year-long struggle to mandate troop withdrawals shows no sign of progress. War funding will begin running dry by mid-February, leaving Democrats with the choice of withholding money for the war, providing the money without strings attached, or finding a new approach that can win bipartisan support.

The House approved a $50 billion war spending bill last month that would have tied additional funding to a goal of removing all combat troops from Iraq by December 2008, but it fell to a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Bush had promised to veto it anyway.

A separate war funding bill approved in the spring laid out political benchmarks for the Iraqis and demanded that the Bush administration return to Congress in September with an update on progress toward them. It showed that the Iraqi government was woefully short of meeting those goals.

The new approach will get an airing today when USA Todaypublishes an opinion piece by O’Hanlon. He argues that Democrats should receive more credit for the positive changes in Iraq and lays out a fresh set of benchmarks linked to the provision of funds.

O’Hanlon shook up the Iraq debate earlier this year when he co-wrote an opinion piece hailing the progress that has resulted from Bush’s troop buildup. It also suggested that Gen. David H. Petraeus‘s counterinsurgency strategy could stabilize Iraq.

He suggests, for instance, that Congress should judge political progress by how much money the central government in Baghdadis sharing with Iraq’s provinces, and should recognize the ongoing de facto amnesty that Iraq’s government is offering political opponents with the hiring of former insurgents as police officers and soldiers.

Emanuel suggested yesterday that the Bush administration’s diplomatic outreach to Syria, its engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the new intelligence estimate on Iran‘s nuclear capabilities stem in part from the changing political climate brought on by the Democratic Congress.

“Our troops at every step of the way have done an incredible job,” he told reporters. “And at every step of the way, the people that are responsible for a political strategy for Iraq have failed to deliver one. And our views on the funding is that what we need and what we’ve asked for from Day One is a set of benchmarks the Iraqis have to meet for Iraq.”

Business as usual huh? The Democrat’s position and strategy on the war in Iraq has been a disgrace. I am finished with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  

Democrats Must Stand Up to Bush on New War Funding Request for Many Reasons…

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The White House sent Congress a $189.3 billion request for funding for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader war on terrorism in 2008. The request adds $42.3 billion to the administration’s original request of $141.7 billion to cover 2008 war costs. It also includes 5.3 billion dollars that had been previously approved for mine-resistant armored vehicles known as MRAPS.US defense secretary, Robert Gates, outlined the rational for the additional war funding in congressional testimony on September 26. Monday’s action by the White House marks the formal request with all of the documentation to justify it the numbers. Gates said the request would include $6 billion to maintain US “surge” forces in Iraq through July.Gates and the Bush administration may have justified the increase in funding regarding the necessary costs of a war of their making, but they have not justified the human cost. After the veto of the SCHIP legislation last week the Democrats, as I have mentioned in prior posts, need to press this president on his priorities. The Democrats, in good conscious, cannot approve additional war funding until Bush concedes on SCHIP. The health and well-beings of children in this country is at least as important as the lives of the troops. Moreover, if the Democrats approve this request, they will have ultimately proved once and for all that they are more concerned with politics than principle. Bush already has the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people on his hands and has shown a blatant disregard for human life. Do the Democrats want to be his willing accomplices?It is time to take a stand. Bushes approval rating is down to 25% and continues to plummet. Congresses approval rating stands at 27%. Most Americans want war funding cut specifically. What are Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of these Democrats afraid of? Practically speaking, they have absolutely nothing to lose. They have talked the talk but nothing more. There is no way this country punishes the Democrats next Fall for pulling the war funding. The only thing they really need to be concerned about is how the right-wing spin machine will try to demonize them for the move. If they prepare for that predictable eventuality (which has already started really if you’re paying attention), then they should be able to do the right thing by the American people and still retain their political capital.

The Democrats were elected on a wave of anti-war sentiment. It is time to cash in the chips and deliver on what was promised…an end to this senseless war. But more importantly, Bush and the Republicans must understand that their arrogance and hubris can be restricted – if only to breath some life back into our system of checks-and-balances.     

Pro-Democracy Crushed in Myanmar and the Chinese Do Nothing…

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Protesters continued to wave the peacock flag of the crushed pro-democracy movement on a solitary march Saturday through the bloody streets of Myanmar‘s largest city. Many dissidents said they are resigned to defeat without international intervention as regimes like China stood around and watch people being butchered in the streets – same as Kosovo, same as Rwanda, same as Iraq. 

A top U.N. envoy on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, arrived in the country but many protesters said they were nonetheless seeing a repeat of the global reaction to a 1988 pro-democracy uprising, when the world stood by as protesters were gunned down in the streets. “Gambari is coming, but I don’t think it will make much of a difference,” said one hotel worker, “We have to find a solution ourselves.” A young woman who took part in the massive demonstrations said she didn’t think “we have any more hope to win.” She was separated from her boyfriend when police broke up the protest by firing into crowds.

Demonstrations began last month as a result of the crumbling economy in Myanmar, as people angry over massive fuel price hikes took to the streets — shortly afterward it ballooned into tens of thousands after monks began marching in protest. The Junta, who are oppressive militaristic rulers of Myanmar and closely tied to China, responded by shooting into a crowd of protesters that included monks and clubbing them with batons.

What is remarkable, is that China continues to back these criminals and has done nothing to interfere with the terror wrought on the protesters. Of course China’s reaction was predictable. After all, they did roll over the Chinese Democratic party with tanks in the Tiananmen Square Massacare in 1989. And don’t forget that Myanmar (Burma), is also resource rich, so why interfere? Let’s just let them beat the hell out of each other, then roll in and take over when the timing is right under the guise of liberation. Can anyone say Iraq? Funny how the drive for limited energy resources by developed nations is resulting in more and more of these nasty little skirmishes lately – don’t you think? 

But I digress…

Little more than lip service by the U.S., Russia, and China is being offered in order to restrain these thugs. The United States, which possesses limited leverage, froze any assets that Myanmar leaders may have in U.S. financial institutions and prohibited American citizens from doing business with them. The United Nations has resorted to the usual ineffective attempts at reconciliation that never really seem to fly. So the U.S. and others have turned a hopeful eye toward our ‘friends’ China. When they’re not busy poisoning our kids with lead paint, their busy poisoning Myanmar’s kids with lead paint, as they too are Myanmar’s biggest trading partner. 

However, China does not seem prepared to go beyond words in their dealings with the Junta, ruling out sanctions as they jostle for a chance to get at Myanmar’s bountiful and largely untapped natural resources, especially its oil. Can’t offend a friend I suppose. Human rights will have to be the bridesmaid yet again. Some Chinese academics and diplomats say the international community may be overestimating what Beijing can do. “I actually don’t think China can influence Myanmar (Burma) at all except through diplomacy. China’s influence is not at all decisive,” said Peking University Southeast Asia expert Liang Yingming.

Really? I have a few ideas to offer.

Key backers of this group of murders in Myanmar, particualrly China, must pay a cost for the blood they will have on their hands. Women were killed, the young, the old, children, monks were beaten are now holed up behind barbed wire – someone must answer…I say start with China. Specific businesses and their management should be targeted with sanctions as well as the Chinese government for the role they have played in furthering the interests of the Junta, in the name of oil and profit. China should be questioned and brought to bare before the world why they have backed these butchers for years. Name must be named, and the dead must be avenged. The U.S. must act and empower the U.N. as well, to impose sanctions against the junta and China if need be. If the Chinese people really back human rights, they should boycott these Chinese companies as well. There’s an old American saying folks – put your money where your mouth is.

Bush himself, lacks the credibility, intelligence, nerve or grammar to take on this regime and its backers in the world’s eyes, so we must rely on Congress to act so credible damage might be done to the reputations of China and the Chinese companies that do business in both Myanmar (Burma), and the U.S. Congress, along with the U.N. , should impose immediate sanctions on Chinese firms, while going after some of the illegal drug money that the Junta uses to finance these murder sprees. 

Maybe pull a Ronald Reagan.

Train and equip rebellious groups operating within Burma and along its border areas.  These groups are not exactly the proverbial good-guys, (given their history of drug trafficking), however some of them represent ethnic groups that have faced murderous behavior from the Junta that amounts to little more than ethnic cleansing – much like this last week. They could be a valuable ally in this struggle. If China wants to support the Junta, then it will have to accept the consequences of such support as well as running the risk of destabilizing all of Southeast Asia. Let’s see if they like that shit sandwich?

In my opinion, the time is now to finally send a message to China – you cannot simply do what you please whenever you please (or not in this case) without stiff consequences from the rest of the non-communist, non-dictatorial, non-civil rights violating, non-murdering, countries in the world. For the sake of the human condition, our government must take a stand on this situation. I urge Nancy Pelosi (who is cool at best on China) and the rest of the Democrats to act on a resolution that will put these policies into motion. There is no reason why we should tolerate this type of behavior in the name of failed globalistic economic ideals. At some point, the sanctity of human life must supersede the garnering of oil on the totem pole of foreign policy. 

Is it just me, or is Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (Kos) a Shrieking Pain in the Ass Hypocrite?

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dKosopedia me this…What is the agenda of this little man with the curious haircut who appeared on ‘Meet the Press’ today opposite Harold Ford Jr., sporting his usual prickly and curt reponses to everything he’s asked, known as Kos. His goal, I believe, is to fan the flames of his political pop-icon rise to blogger stardom on the back of the DNC, no matter what damage he causes. Personally, I’m glad my Sunday chicken dinner was long for the sewer treatment plant because if it hadn’t been, I’m quite sure it would have made a curtain call on my living room carpet.

His name is Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder and publisher of the Daily Kos  blog. That was yesterday. Today, after his appearance on ‘Meet the Press’ he is the potential new face of a Democratic party that continues to be made up of people who will say just about anything to get their face on TV. Like him or not, he is the self-proclaimed poster child of the new left – bold, unforgiving…opportunistic. However I’d take issue with the characterization of Kos as far-lefty.

He’s a former Republican turned Democrat (and he is giving Hillary crap for taking lobbyist money? Some balls…) who has yet to discover (along with a decent barber) that the Democratic party, like the Republican party, will likely never ‘care’ about the middle class, besides feeding us lip-service about ‘caring’ for the middle class. In fact, his blogs bear little resemblance to some truely progresive entries by contributors on his sight.

I have an idea, how about Markos saves his phoney far-left hot-air for the lobbyist who come calling when he runs for office in eight years (because you know he’ll be suckling at the pigs teet like the rest of the Democratic political establishment). Maybe next years Kos convention can focus on why at every press appearance or on every talk show, Markos manages to hold fifteen minute of dialouge that contains absolutely no substance? If you don’t believe me, try to catch ‘Meet the Press’ re-air during the week. It was a pathetic DNC establishment bashing and nothing more.  

You want to know who KOS really is, check out these quotes…

“Guns: The NRA won — get over it”

Progressive Independent

Huh? 

How about this…. 

“Now, I went into the Army as a Republican, I came out as a Democrat. I was in the Army for three years, between 1989 and 1992. And I enlisted because I was actually — at the time I was actually a Republican, and I believed I was very much a military hawk at the time, and I thought, ‘This is very quaint in today’s world, in today’s political environment.’ But at the time, I thought that if was going to advocate for military involvement in various places, that I really needed to have served, that I’d be a hypocrite if I was not a veteran and I’d be talking about military action. Not thinking that I was going to be in politics or anything like that. You know, this was my personal life.”

ABC News

And don’t forget the CIA connection…

“I applied to the CIA and I went all the way to the end, I mean it was to the point where I was going to sign papers to become Clandestine Services,” Moulitsas admited in an interview at the Commonwealth Club. “And it was at that point that the Howard Dean campaign took off and I had to make a decision whether I was gonna kinda join the Howard Dean campaign, that whole process, or was I was going to become a spy. It was going to be a tough decision at first, but then the CIA insisted that if, if I joined that, they’d want me to do the first duty assignment in Washington, DC…”

Another Day in the Empire

Moulitsas went on to say that he considered the CIA “a very liberal institution.” This begs the question…what kind of glue is he sniffing exactly? An organization that has the blood of over six million people on its hands is liberal? Sounds like the jibberish of an elephant masquerading as a donkey to me.

Kos and the people who blog for him are nothing more than a representative sample of the corrupt power elite. They reflect the Republicans in that they are opportunistic to the point of eating their own in the name of power (i.e. Booing Hillary Clinton at the Kos Convention). These people are to the Democrats what the black helicopter/trilateral commission/the Holocaust didn’t exist/conspiracy nuts are to the GOP.  Why anyone is seriously paying attention to them is beyond me.  They bash Jews, sabotage anyone that doesn’t agree with them and toss critical analysis to the wind while they play loose and fast with the facts. 

You cannot go from the relatively moderate administration of Bill Clinton to this group of nuts and expect to win.  Clinton won and was popular because he appealed to the political center.  Markos is hell bent on dismantling that moderation, and wants the Democratic party to take a harder left turn than Humphrey, Mondale or Dukakis did. Lets reflect a moment shall we? Where did they wind up in the end? 

Kos apparently isn’t one to understand the subtle nuances of public policy, so it really should be no surprise at all that he has shifted his position politically and now because of his reckless agenda, may hurt the Democrats’ only real contender in this upcoming fight -Hillary Clinton. She’s not perfect and she does take lobby money, but at least she was never a Republican that rattled a sabre for the CIA.

Kos is a hypocrite wonk. 

The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800)…

The Employee Free Choice Act was passed by the House in March and it would at long last amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to establish a new system enabling employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations in the establishment of a union more easily. Ronald Reagan just sat up in his grave I think – sorry Ronny. Anyways, certain provisions call for mandatory injunctions that would thwart unfair labor practices directed at employees, during organizing efforts, by employers. The bill would also establish harsher penalties for employers who violate employee rights when an employee attempts to form a union, and institutes new mediation and arbitration processes for first-contract disputes in dog’s years. Of course all that is very nice, but the card check provision is all that really matters in the new legislation. The law would essentially allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation as opposed to the current law that calls for a secret ballot election. Under current law, if employees present an employer with union authorization cards signed by a majority, the employer can demand a secret ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). However, the (NLRB) election process, unknown to most outside of labor circles, provides a distinct advantage to the employer due to its tedious and time-consuming nature. Predictably, it gives employers time to intimidate, coerce and harass workers; dragging out the review process indefinitely while workplace anti-union activities run amok. Even more predictably, when workers try to form a union after a card check, employers routinely respond with intimidation, harassment and retaliation. Polls suggest that 65 percent of the public approves of unions, but those same polls also show that nearly one-third of the public does not realize how hard management fights workers who seek to form unions. Personally, I believe it is high time that organized labor gets to hang one in the win column. For twenty-five years, courtesy of Ronald Reagan’s PATCO precedent, organized labor has been getting bludgeoned to death with the (NLRB) stick by employers who exercise an unrestricted reign of terror on anyone who even thinks of unionizing a workplace. Sadly, these practices are often upheld by politically motivated (NLRB) case decisions, a pathetic lack of labor reform policy by labors so-called party in Washington, namely the Democrats, and a general cultural brainwashing that is fueled by right wing talk radio blow-holes. Here are some hard stats. Currently, 15.4 million or 12 percent of the American work force belongs to unions, down 325,00 workers from last year. Another 60 million workers, when polled, stated that they would support a union in their workplace. Also, 67 percent of all workers say that they disapprove of employer anti-union activities when a union is proposed and another 77 percent say that they strongly support laws that help form new unions. With these statistics serving as a backdrop, the contrast of employer’s reactions is startling. Statistics show that when employers are faced with the establishment of a union, they universally engage in a variety of anti-union activities. For instance, 25 percent of all employers fire at least one employee during union organizing activity. 75 percent of all employers who face union organizing activity hire outside union-busting consultants to disrupt the union organization drive. 78 percent of all employers force their employees and immediate supervisors to attend at least one anti-union information session, while 92 percent force employees to attend anti-union closed door meetings. And the most ridiculous and underhanded tactic of all deals with illegal workers that were consciously hired by an employer. When those workers start talking union, 52 percent of employers threaten to call immigration and report the employee’s illegal citizenship status. Given all this, it is about time the tables begin to turn. What is the worst that can happen – higher union wages that pay a real working wage and robust union mandated health and retirement benefits force some manufacturing companies out of business or to relocate to China? What do we have to lose?

Posted by Matthew Podoba 3/30/07