More Blood Money from Our Democratic Congress and Democratic Presidential Candidate

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By Dave Lindorff

Laid-off American workers will be getting temporary extended
benefits as the nation sinks into recession, thanks to Congressional
Democrats, who cleverly tacked a funding provision onto a bill giving
the president all the money he asked for (and then some) to fund the
Iraq and Afghanistan wars on out through next June. Veterans of the
Iraq War will also be getting tuition benefits equal to the full cost
of in-state public college tuition plus $1000 a year for books and
supplies.

When workers pick up those unemployment checks from their state
Department of Labor offices, though, they should see them as dripping
blood. Those checks have been bought with the blood of American men and
women in uniform who have been sent over and over into harm’s way in
those two countries in misbegotten and criminal adventures that have
nothing to do with defending America and everything to do with boosting
the profits of oil companies and defense contractors, and with getting
Bush re-elected and Republicans elected.

Iraq Vets, too, should not
overlook the blood on their VA education benefits checks, because their
tuition will be paid by the blood of active-duty comrades still left
stranded in battle zones overseas.

It didn’t have to be like this.

For generations, Congress has voted supplemental funding for
unemployment benefits to be extended during economic downturns—not
always willingly, but always eventually, following enough pressure from
workers and the labor movement.

For generations, too, Congress has voted for education benefits for veterans.

This being an election year, passage of a freestanding supplemental
benefits bill for unemployment insurance and a restoration of decent
education benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans would have
been a sure thing. Even Republicans facing the prospect of re-election
campaigns would have signed on to both measures by Labor Day and the
votes would have been there to override any Bush veto. Neither
measure—both important in themselves and badly needed—had to be tied to
a war-funding bill.

But Democrats in the House and Senate leadership weren’t really
thinking about the plight of the unemployed or the needs of returning
veterans in this case. They were, rather, thinking of a way of putting
some “progressive” window-dressing on a war-funding bill that they
wanted to pass without having to take responsibility for it. Their
objective was to push the whole issue of funding the wars out past
Election Day, in hopes of not having to discuss it in the coming
campaign.

Funding Bush’s and Cheney’s war in Iraq especially has, after all,
become a more and more unpopular and difficult affair for Democrats. In
this last go-round, fully 141 House Democrats voted against further
funding of the war—nearly the same number as voted for it (149). At
first, back in mid-May, the measure didn’t even pass, because
Republicans cleverly joined with the anti-war Democrats in blocking the
measure, forcing Democratic leaders to scramble to round up the votes
to pass a bill the second time around.

Americans clearly don’t want the war to continue, and Democrats
don’t want to have to face the voters, as every member of the House and
a third of the Senate have to do this November, being labeled as war
backers. That’s why they come up with these pathetic excuses like, “I’m
opposed to the war but we have to support the troops.”

Any sentient being in the country by now knows that most of the
long-suffering and abused troops, as polls have shown, think that the
best way to support them is to bring them home immediately. A Zogby
poll of active-duty troops in Iraq taken in 2006 found that 72% wanted
the US out within a year, while one in four wanted all US troops out
immediately. Only one in five supported staying “as long as necessary.”
(With many of those troops on yet another rotation, in some cases their
fifth, those numbers are probably even more in favor of immediate
withdrawal today.) Military experts have also written about how all the
troops in Iraq could be pulled out safely in as little as two weeks’
time. All the Pentagon would need to do is start running a constant
convoy of trucks south to Kuwait, carrying troops and weapons systems.
They could leave the porta-potties, the McDonalds stands, the bowling
alleys, the gyms and the barracks to the Iraqis and then blow up
whatever they didn’t want falling into the wrong hands. It would be
easy and fast. There’s no need for Obama’s proposed 16-month staged
withdrawal, which would just mean more unnecessary deaths and killings.

Democrats in Congress know all this, but congenitally spineless and
devoid of principle, they’re afraid if they don’t fund the war they
could be accused by Republicans of being “soft” on defense—as though
the Iraq War had anything at all to do with protecting America.

And so they have come up with this shameless ruse of attaching a
$95-billion domestic spending package, including unemployment funding
measure and a veterans’ education benefits measure, to a $162-billion
atrocity—a measure that assures more death and destruction in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and more dead and maimed American military personnel.
They’re pretending that they “pulled one over” on Bush by forcing him
to sign an unemployment extension bill and a veterans’ bill, when they
know Republicans would have forced him to sign those anyway, later in
the summer.

The real joke is on the American people, and on those very workers
and veterans who will be receiving the unemployment checks and tuition
reimbursements funded as a result of this duplicitous tactic.

The $162 billion that Congress has voted for the continuation of
the two pointless and disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, together
with the money already allocated for the so-called “War on Terror,” is
all borrowed, and is a major contributor to the collapse of the dollar
and to the resulting soaring of the price of oil, electricity and
imported goods. It is thus a major contributor to the credit crisis and
the collapse in the housing market that has pushed the nation into what
may be the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

Furthermore, the blood-money unemployment and tuition checks bought
through his gutless subterfuge by House and Senate Democrats will be
pissed away in no time on higher gas prices spent by workers on
desperate job searches, or on long commutes to distant jobs or commutes
if they are lucky enough to find them. It will be pissed away too for
veteran/students on their commutes to college, and on higher heating
bills for their families at home.

Equally important, the $160 billion wasted in Iraq, along with the
half trillion dollars being wasted every year on military spending for
a military colossus that encircles the globe for no good purpose other
than intimidation of other nations, assures that those Democrats who
control Congress can do nothing of consequence to shore up retirement
funds, to develop a national health program, to improve our dismal
school system, to repair our crumbling infrastructure, or to develop
alternative, non-polluting energy sources that could combat global
warming.

The Democratic Congress has shown itself to be worse than useless.
It is part of the problem. That includes Sen. Barack Obama, who like
Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain, signed onto this
contemptible funding bill.
_______________

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His
latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and
now available in paperback edition). His work is available at
www.thiscantbehappening.net

Comments

David, as long as you're

  • Bill Harding's picture
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David, as long as you're blogging on a Democratic site, have you ever considered attacking the Republicans in Congress as rabidly as you bash Democrats who hold only a slim and nebulous "majority?"

Sometimes it's hard to tell which side you're on...

The thing is...

  • Jim's picture
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...most folks tune out to the details and only hear: "they're ALL bums."

It contributes to apathy, amongst other pathologies.

Plenty of other people are doing that quite well

  • dlindorff's picture
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The point is to write important things that are not getting written.

I'm not interested in just being another voice saying the same thing.

I've said plenty of nice things about Dems in Congress, and about Obama, but when these people betray us and their principles, someone has to call them on it. Who's gonna do that? The Republicans?

I think Obama's people and the DNC can do just fine attacking Republicans, but some of us have to keep them honest too.

Besides, I challenge you to show I'm backing Republicans

  • dlindorff's picture
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That charge is simply a blood libel. I've never said a good word about the Republicans.

 If you want to say attacking the bad policies of Democrats is helping Republicans then so be it. That's a pretty pathetic standard of journalism though, I must say. It's also pretty poor progressive strategy.

Oh well, just thought I'd

  • Bill Harding's picture
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Oh well, just thought I'd ask...

IDEA: BUILD UP THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

  • Jim's picture
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Nobody is implying that one should not rip on poor Democratic performance, however where is the building up?

Where is the body of work attempting to establish a BROAD Democratic coalition?

  • A coalition that attracts BOTH Liberal and Conservative Americans?
  • A platform which does NOT point fingers at big bad Oil (for example) without also pointing fingers at ourselves? At oneself in particular.
  • A platform which does NOT attempt to strong arm those of Libertarian or Conservative natures via Liberal sentiments of the heart. Instead, one which takes the time to work through all those aspects of Liberalism which do NOT require a Liberal heart. One which shows respect for all remaining differences (which have their root in the Liberal heart).
  • A platform which, of necessity, must be brought to fruition via an organized effort: this means strategic compromise (i.e. sometimes laying off the perfectionism), attempting to penetrate academia and root out demonstrably false Conservative/Libertarian Economic views, etc.
  • etc.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Like it or not, sometimes cries of "Bad Democrat" creates only noise which aids the Right. Maybe the Dem bashers in general have already taken this into account, but have elected, on balance, to proceed. Fine as far as it goes, but it sure does not look like any inner dialog, along those lines, is going on. I wish it was.

I guess the above will not be understood if there is disagreement on what I'm about to say:

-Present day politics is only ONE area of concern.

-Creating the politics for the next generation is the larger concern.

In just one presidential election cycle, grade school kids move to the threshold of voting! A generation roles around quite quickly and they need to be attended to. Beyond them, those who have tired of demonstrably false notions from the Right are ripe to hear the truth even if they do not share a liberal heart.

Jim

Coordinating Dems: what irony!

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It's distressing and ironic that conservatives are able to work together despite the GOP's variegated coalition of libertarians, neocons, social conservatives, and corrupt capitalists. Though they've had real disagreements they were able to unit behind GWB and his policies; their discipline in Congress has been impressive. Only recently, have some GOP senators rebelled.

Though Dems are supposed to be for cooperative shared initiatives such as single-payer healthcare, public schools, and public transit, when it comes to politics they fight among themselves. I see this both locally and nationally.

Conservatives are supposed to be fans of individualism, while liberals are supposed to be fans of cooperative endeavors. But in reality, conservatives follow their leaders and liberals aren't willing to compromise.

More thoughts on this issue can be found here: http://truthsite.org/politics/ProgressiveCoordination.pdf

Don

I'll give it a read when I get a chance.

  • Jim's picture
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"Conservatives are supposed to be fans of individualism, while liberals are supposed to be fans of cooperative endeavors. But in reality, conservatives follow their leaders and liberals aren't willing to compromise".

Somehow I'm reminded of the ole' Monty Python "Life of Brien" (And I'm paraphrasing):

Brien to crowd: You're ALL individuals.

Crowd to Brien (ALL of the crowd mind you): YES, we are ALL individuals (said in unison).

PAUSE

One loan voice in the Crowd to Brien: I'm NOT!

Compromising

  • ThinkerFeeler's picture
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I meant: liberals aren't willing to compromise with each other productively. They do compromise with conservatives.

I knows lots of progressives who say they won't vote for the lesser of two evils. Reluctantly, I probably will.

I got it...

  • Jim's picture
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...but the comedy abounds ;)

No more compromise.

  • Lanny's picture
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Hasn't the right had there way with the country long enough. Basically the country has been moving to the right for 27+ years ever since Reagan took over.

What has letting the free market system run amok done for the average american. crumbling infrastructure, no funds for public schools, staganant wages, out sourced jobs, weakened environmental and worker protections all in the name of more and more profits and allowing the richest among us to bnecome a hell of alot richer controlling more and more of the wealth.

When is enough? When we are the united corporations of america.

Good Dems vs Bad Dems

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Thing is: there are some really good Dems, and most of the grassroots Dems are true progressives, at least in word.  But there are lots of Bush Democrats.   Practically speaking, it seems necessary to first kick out the evil Republicans. Then the progressives can try to take over the Democratic Party.   If that fails, at least they can try to moderate the Democratic leadership.   Sometimes you have to settle for second best.  I understand that many progressives refuse to support ANY Democrats, That seems extreme to me.  Kucinich, Wexler, and others are true progressives. 

Sorry for all these small posts. I can't edit these blog responses.

Sigh... if only we could

  • Bill Harding's picture
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Sigh... if only we could have a perfect world. But since we obviously can't, and never will, like the gentleman below -- I will take "spineless and stupid" over evil and mean-spirited all-day, everyday.

The problem being, however, we Democrats can't seem to agree on the level of spineless, stupid, or evil we are willing to tolerate. Republican neocons don't have that problem: evil is just fine so long as it is profitable, while spineless is a way of life for them. Stupid (as opposed to ignorant), they are not.

This is a good thing for

  • gido1018's picture
    gido1018
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This is a good thing for them. Its for their own good. Leaving some items such as stands or banners  is nothing as long as the soldiers are always safe.