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January 09, 2007

Another Indication ...

...of how profoundly unserious Democratic criticism of the war has become:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Biden, let me start with you. If President Bush calls for more American troops to Iraq, the so-called surge, Joe Biden will say...

SEN. BIDEN: No. But there’s not much I can do about it. Not much anybody can do about it. He’s commander in chief. If he surges another 20, 30, or whatever number he’s going to, into Baghdad, it’ll be a tragic mistake, in my view, but, as a practical matter, there’s no way to say, “Mr. President, stop."

MR. RUSSERT: ...there’s really little Democrats can do. Why not cut off funding for the war?

SEN. BIDEN: I’ve been there, Tim. You can’t do it.


SEN. BIDEN: You can’t do it. It’s—what—because it made sense in the Constitution when you said you could cut off funding when you had no standing army. We have a standing army with a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars. You can’t go in and, like a tinker toy, and play around and say, “You can’t spend the money on this piece and this piece and”—he—able—he’ll be able to keep those troops there forever constitutionally if he wants to.

MR. RUSSERT: Why not have legislation then that would cap the number of troops in Iraq?

SEN. BIDEN: Because it’s very difficult to—it’s constitutionally questionable whether or not you can do that. I think it is unconstitutional to say, “We’re going to tell you you can go, but we’re going to micromanage the war.” When we wrote the Constitution, the intention was to give the commander in chief the authority how to use the forces, when you authorize them, to be able to use the forces. And so, look, what we have to be doing here is the president—the only way this is going to change, Tim, and I’ve been saying—I’m a broken record on this—is when a majority of Lindsey’s colleagues, Republicans, say to the president, “Mr. President, enough. We are not going to support you any more,” that’s when the president will begin to change his policy. That’s when we begin to listen to bipartisan groups. That’s when we bebin—begin to listen to the majority of the expert opinion in this country.

Jonathan Adler comments:

According to senator Biden, Congress cannot cut off funding for specific federal functions without defunding entire departments. That must be news to Congressional appropriators. For years, if not decades, Congress has attached riders to appropriations bills barring the expenditure of funds for specific purposes, in some cases on quite narrow items, such as drafting, implementing or enforcing a specific regulation.

To hear Senator Biden, you'd think such Congressional interference was unprecedented, but a look at recent history gives a hint as to the real reason for Biden's reluctance:

In the mid-1980s, the Reagan administration was aggressively trying to overthrow the Marxist government of Nicaragua and to prop up an American-backed government in El Salvador against communist-backed rebels.

Amid reports of atrocities committed by America's allies, Democrats on Capitol Hill grew increasingly wary of U.S. involvement.

Then-Rep. Edward P. Boland (D-Mass.) led a congressional effort to prohibit the use of funding from the CIA or the Defense Department in support of the Contras in Nicaragua.

Lawmakers later went further, restricting U.S. forces from operating in Nicaragua and within 20 miles of the Nicaraguan border in Honduras and Costa Rica. (At the time, U.S. troops were still advising the Contras.)

Congressional intervention in Southeast Asia and Central America proved politically controversial for Democrats.

Yet even into the 1990s, lawmakers continued to place limits on American military action abroad.

In 1991, Congress authorized President George H.W. Bush to use military force only to liberate Kuwait rather than fight on into Iraq.

And after 18 American soldiers were killed in a 1993 firefight in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) led a successful effort to set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Somalia.

Today, Democrats are again challenging an administration over a war. But advocates of legislation to require the withdrawal of U.S. troops — such as Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) — remain a minority.

In other words, the political cost of continued carping is nonexistent, while the cost of actually doing something about the problems Democrats are complaining about may be unacceptable to them. Remind you of anything? The NSA wiretapping "scandal', perhaps?

That could have been ended by simply cutting off funds for the program, yet when push came to shove Congressional Democrats (many of whom were vocally calling for the President of the United States to be impeached) somehow never quite got around to taking action themselves to bring a halt to the program.

Imagine that.

Posted by Cassandra at January 9, 2007 08:56 AM

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The bottom line is that it likely seems that it would be all but impossible for the Democrats to enact such a de-funding law, given the make-up of the Congress and the make-up of the President.

And assuming (as you do) that it would have been possible to even get a vote on your hypothetical NSA-defunding example (a large-ish assumption, I would think), could it possibly have passed, much less made it into law? Think again.

Not to worry. There's plenty more blood, American and otherwise, coming out of them thar Iraqi hills over the next couple of years.

Posted by: dgf at January 9, 2007 12:12 PM

The make-up of the Congress, last time I checked, reflects the votes of the American public. If this issue is truly of concern and there is actually (as the Dems keep stating) overwhelming public support for their position, should there be a problem?

One would think the constituents of even majority Republican districts would be screaming for them to DO SOMETHING, at least if you can believe what the Democrats keep telling us.

Either the public support for their position is there, or it isn't.

Either this issue is important enough for them to stand by their principles, or it isn't. Remember: they ran for this Congress on the premise that, if they regained the majority, they'd take action.

And now it appears they have decided... not so fast, and they are backpedalling like mad.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 9, 2007 12:29 PM

dfg seems to constantly fall behind the argument -- "well, we want to do something but we just can't b/c of mean old republicans."

Read Biden's comments again. He is not saying that it is politically difficult to defund Iraq. He is saying it would be unconstitutional. Yet, that seems debatable, especially given Democratic Congressional action in the past.

What he is really saying is that the Dems want their cake (gain political points by complaining about the President's handling of the war, etc) and eat it (avoid countercriticism that would result by actually taking action) too.

Don't get me wrong. I think the Rep. Congress of the last few years did the same thing. I think it should have legilatively handled the enemy combantant issue with defining legislation, created the courts necessary to try them, and created the procedures by which these courts would have operated. Instead, Congress chose the easier route of letting the President handle this problem in a vacuum with tools intended for other problems and other types of wars, and then they could cheerlead or complain without risk of political fall out.

Here, however, since the Dems are complaining so much and talking about principle, they should have the cojones to step up to the bar and throw down. They won't though, and they'll pretend, for now, that it is b/c of the constitution.

Posted by: KJ at January 9, 2007 01:00 PM

I'm sorry -- "dgf" not dfg. The type-o was not intentional.

Posted by: KJ at January 9, 2007 01:01 PM

I suspect there's a pretty good reason that Congress's approval rating polls below even that of Bush's, and I suspect we're seeing a graphic example of it in the spinelessness of Mr. Biden, et al.

Posted by: Daveg at January 9, 2007 01:12 PM

I think when you say "their [the Democratic] position", you're conflating two things - First, the position congruent with that of a substantial majority of the electorate that Iraq is a holy mess and a mistake that somehow can/should be fixed, and (2d) a position on what Congress can do to fix (or at least ameliorate) the situation.

As Country Joe said many years ago, we're in a terrible jam, due to another toxic Texan's delusions, lies and incompetence. And so it goes.

By the bye, I don't know why you say "the Democrats" (as if they were monolithic; LOL herding cats and all comes to mind) are "backpeddling fast". Maybe a significant number are, tho one doesn't gather that from what you've posted. Your implication surely is that at least Joe Biden's changed his. Is this accurate? Dunno.

Like I said, not to worry. Your boy's a-gonna keep on setting down 12-coursers for the weapons industry and keep the backhoes at Arlington a-humming for the forseeable future. As a practical matter - practical as in bullets and blood and oil. 'Lessen Congress can come up with some effective strategies to stop it, which I think (fwiw) is a tough tough pull. Sad, ain't it. The "lack of principle" / the surfeit of blood. Take your pick.

Posted by: dgf at January 9, 2007 01:25 PM


dfg seems to constantly fall behind the argument -- "well, we want to do something but we just can't b/c of mean old republicans."

I've got no idea why you say "constantly", but maybe I'm just not thinking hard enough. Whether hyperbolic or accurate, however, I"m not saying that all Republicans (or merely those in Congress) are mean whereas the Democrats are pristine. "The Democrats" (in Congress) as a whole have accounted themselves very poorly re: Iraq, starting with the "authorization". What an abortion.

As a practical matter, tho, this is George Bush's war, and that has consequences that all the principled opposition in the world can have little impact on.

Posted by: dgf at January 9, 2007 01:43 PM

My bad dgf. My recollection of a recent, prior debate here with a similar refrain was actually with someone other than you. It was just that the other person said something so similar in style to your statement that "The bottom line is that it likely seems that it would be all but impossible for the Democrats to enact such a de-funding law, given the make-up of the Congress and the make-up of the President." that I mistakenly thought it was you.

I stand corrected. Put it on page one. Second time I've been wrong this year, and it is only January. Damn.

Posted by: KJ at January 9, 2007 01:56 PM


Not a problem. (And thanks for the note)

Posted by: dgf at January 9, 2007 02:00 PM

"As a practical matter, tho, this is George Bush's war, and that has consequences that all the principled opposition in the world can have little impact on.

Then I guess the Democrats have short-changed the electorate, eh? Pathetic. From here on in, it ain't Bush's war no-mo. It belongs to Congress. Put up or shut up.

Posted by: spd rdr at January 9, 2007 03:00 PM

The democrats surrendered in Vietnam. They tried to surrender to the soviets, that was sen teddy the drunk, and some of them began surrendering on 9/12/01. Why should anyone be surprised by their continueing antics. The democrats strategy for the war on terror is quite simple.....

Posted by: Edward Lunny at January 9, 2007 06:05 PM

"Not to worry. There's plenty more blood, American and otherwise, coming out of them thar Iraqi hills over the next couple of years."

Since some of that blood in years past came from my spouse, the only thing I can say to you is

"As Country Joe said many years ago, we're in a terrible jam, due to another toxic Texan's delusions, lies and incompetence. And so it goes."

Again, ASS but with further comment...Most of those who were on the D side of the aisle voted with their President. Lies? I don't think so.
Delusions? Such as?
Incompetence? The Greatest Generation weeeps at what they brought forth.
We are not, as a whole, descendants deserving of the Greatest Generation's legacy.
Some of us remember how our parents and grandparents behaved and strive to live up to that.
Others of us remember patchouli and seek to make our country's history some kind of godddamned revisit of one of the most horrible civic moments in our memory.
Thanks, DGF, for reminding me why I loathe people like you.
I bet you like to tell people how you "support" the troops by demanding they surrender even as they say to let them complete their job.
Piss. off. You don't. They don't like you and neither do I. You just want us to fail. It's a damned blood frenzy for you and people like you.

With all apologies to Cassandra for this comment because I am not being civil right now.

Posted by: Carrie at January 9, 2007 06:17 PM

Carrie darlin' :p


Oh crap. Now I'm flashing back to those obnoxious Lamaze classes when I had an irrational yet deeply persistent desire to tell the instructor just where she could shove her 'relaxation'...

As for me, I am going to look at that beautiful photo you sent yesterday (the one I saved to my PC). That's what it's all about - moments like that.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 9, 2007 06:33 PM


dgf: there is a thing called situational awareness.

I know you don't agree with this war, and you don't have to, to comment here.

But comments like that one are beyond the pale, considering how much of our own blood has been shed over there trying to get those jerks to stop blowing up their own countrymen just because they can't have their way at the polls.

If you want to have a discussion, try dialing it down a notch. Because there are people here to whom this war is a lot closer than something they read about in a newspaper. We in the military are there because we signed up to be, not because we've been forced or duped into it. So try to show a little decency, and refrain from the condescending remarks.

In your quest to score rhetorical points, you only hurt people who have done nothing to you, and who have given a hell of a lot to this country. Some of us have lost children. Some of us have lost friends.

Too many of us have lost someone we cared about. So it's not an academic discussion and smart-alecky references to there being "more blood in them thar hills" are just downright disrespectful of the dead and those who grieve for them.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 9, 2007 06:43 PM

I'm afraid I have to side with Carrie on this one, Cass. Sorry. It is very hard, nigh impossible, to "take deep cleansing breaths" when I see MH walking through the house with his elbow bent at a semi-permanent "curl" position and his thumb held firmly against his palm because those are now their *natural* positions. It's even harder when I see his "second chance vest" with the AK-47 bullet still imbedded over his heart, or his helmet with the half dozen bullet holes in the canvas cover. Actually, it's damn near impossible to breathe at all sometimes. And then to have someone (who, I'm guessing, hasn't lifted a finger in defense of his/her own country, much less one whose citizenry are significantly less able) make light of his (almost ultimate) sacrifice with frivolous comments such as, "There's plenty more blood, American and otherwise, coming out of them thar Iraqi hills" goes beyond what this Marine's wife can handle in a civilized discourse. So, I'm left with simply agreeing with Carrie, because were I to express my thoughts and opinion of dgf's opinions, it would quite probably get me banned.

Posted by: Sly2017 at January 9, 2007 07:26 PM

No, it wouldn't get you banned, Sly. And I think Carrie and I understand each other - hopefully she knows by now when I'm pulling her chain.

I am sorry if his comment upset you.

I can't control what other people say or do. I can only control how I respond to their behavior. I thought that particular remark was calculated to provoke and hurt people. It was beneath contempt and I refused to pay it any attention, which is about as much consideration as comments of that type merit. But I can easily see how someone else might want to respond to it, and had absolutely no problem with Carrie speaking her mind.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 9, 2007 08:05 PM

American blood?

Certainly not yours.

I forget that it is the aristocratic bleeding hearts like you who weep and wail about the horrific conditions under which others live, but just have such issues and rashes with HOW the living gets better for the peasants.

Just so you know, you putz, Bosnia is brought to mind. I had a Bosnian refugee and her son in my home New Year's Eve. An ethnic Albanian. She told me a few things, and one that stood out like a sore thumb: The imams in Macedonia roundly condemn the jihadists and told them they did NOT WANT the extremists fighting for them because they did not want their brand of Islam. Not only that, because she is no longer a member of the religion of peace, her life ain' worth chit if she leaves this country.

And what Carrie said.

Oh, and here is a well reasoned, well thought out


There I feel better now that I have purged.

Posted by: Cricket at January 9, 2007 08:10 PM

You know we're fine, Cass...
I just had to vent my spleen a little towards DGF and I do apologize for wreaking havoc here.
I knew you were trying to make me smile and you did.

Posted by: Carrie at January 9, 2007 09:14 PM

Hey ~ I was gone all day (had an interview for a teaching position out of town). For all those that reacted to DGF, I don't think anyone went too far or was uncivil...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 9, 2007 10:47 PM

Thx, Cass. I know you cannot control what every (troll) person says on here -- that would make you High Princess of the land Bloggerman believes we already live. And, please, forgive my outburst, when it comes to MH, my logic gets lost in my love for the finest man I've ever known. Attack me, I can handle it. Attack, belittle or trivialize MH? You've messed with the wrong Bitch. Especially after all he has shed for love of country and kin.

Posted by: Sly2017 at January 9, 2007 11:07 PM

dgf, I think you're in over your head here. In case you hadn't noticed, these ladies rock! Carrie, don't apologize for speaking the truth. And, ladies, reading posts and comment threads like this one reassure me that we're going to be OK. Many thanks!

Posted by: Glenn Sutherland at January 10, 2007 12:22 AM

Just in case we needed any further demonstrations of "argumentum ad hominem"...but I can certainly understand the reactions...

Posted by: camojack at January 10, 2007 01:31 AM

Sly, that slideshow was my way of trying to say I understand after typing out and deleting four or five comments in a row. I just couldn't find the right words. And there is certainly nothing to forgive.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2007 11:53 AM

Sly2017; Cassie; Carrie; et al. --

Well, aside from your input, and my ruminating on the subject as well, my sister advises me that I phrased things "inartfully".

I certainly didn't intend to show disrespect for the servicemen/women in Iraq (etc), or attack them or trivialize them. I expect that as a rule they are good and honorable folks, doing a difficult, often unpleasant and not infrequently dangerous job, in very trying circumstances, and doing it honorably. My complaints, frustrations, etc. don't lie against "the troops", but with their leadership. They've deserved much better leadership and support than they have received, both in the field, back home, and after discharge.

To the extent that my "blood" remarks suggested otherwise, and bespoke (for example) an undue flippancy with respect to the troops' service and sacrifice (and that of their families) I apologize. That was not my intention.

Posted by: dgf at January 10, 2007 02:47 PM


I think there have been several conversations here where things have been said that caused people to get upset. Some of them have even [gasp!] been said by me. One of the biggest problems my husband has with my blogging, frankly, is that from time to time I end up in tears over something that happened here and he does not understand that at all. There is something he used to say when we were dating (not so much about me, just a general thing): "You never know when you're going to hit a nerve." And that's true. Especially when we come from different sides of the political aisle, it's a lot harder to know when that's going to happen.

Thank you for having the grace to say what you just did. I continue to believe that despite the often rancorous atmosphere of the web, it is possible to talk - even about difficult subjects - without throwing things at each other. I know I bring up a lot of emotional subjects, but you all continue to justify my faith, and that really means a lot.

Can't promise we won't want to kill each other at times, or that we will ever agree on everything (or even in some cases most things) but I would like this to be a place where people can explore ideas, whether or not they happen to agree with me personally.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2007 03:09 PM

She ain't half bad, that dgf.

Posted by: spd rdr at January 10, 2007 04:21 PM

The way I see it is that the heart of your problem is that you have no sense of honor and duty to country. All that you seem to be able to see is a leader with whom you disagree. You can't see the bigger picture. The idea that YOU owe this country anything seems to evade you. Well you do owe this country, you owe it everything that you have, because you wouldn't have those things if it weren't for this country and all of those who suffered and sacrificed. Since you never had to suffer or sacrifice for your country you have no sense of duty. It will be a very sad day when the opinion that you hold is the dominant opinion. That is a day that I do not wish to see.

Posted by: The Real Steve at January 10, 2007 05:20 PM

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