10 April 2007

Democratic Congress Should Stand Up to Bush

Speculation on last night's Countdown with Keith Olbermann centered on the reason for Carl Levin's signaling that the Democrats in Congress will cave on Iraq funding: that the Democrats don't want to "own" the Iraq issue, they prefer to give Bush what he wants and let him have full responsibility for the consequences of the continued occupation.

I think this is cowardly, even if it is good politics (which I concede it may be). Too many lives are at stake. Bush's arrogant stance, effectively saying that Congress' only responsibility is to agree with him and pony up the money, just can't be countenanced. (Perino as much as said exactly this yesterday). Bush wants Democrats in Congress to come to the White House so he can lecture them and harangue them into capitulating. They should say, no, thank you, Mr. President. We will meet with you to negotiate a resolution of this issue, not to be dictated to. If you cannot move towards accommodating the clear will of the American people, we have nothing to talk about. The funds are appropriated, with the conditions imposed which reflect the desires of the majority of Americans. Deal with it.

The leadership should send the president an open letter, and use some of their leftover campaign funds to publish it in newspapers around the country. It should say clearly that the American people want this occupation to end, that continued funding of the occupation forces will not be forthcoming without provisions for ending the occupation, and if the president chooses to veto the funding measure, the consequences are on his head. It should call on the American people to make clear to this rogue administration, with calls, letters, and e-mails, that this is in fact the will of the people, which the president must accede to.

UPDATE: This is what Sen. Reid actually said:

"The American people want the President and the Congress to work together to bring this war to an end, safely and responsibly. Congressional Democrats are willing to meet with the President at any time, but we believe that any discussion of an issue as critical as Iraq must be accomplished by conducting serious negotiations without any preconditions. Our goal should be to produce an Iraq supplemental bill that both fully funds our troops and gives them a strategy for success.

"With his threat to veto such a plan for change in Iraq, President Bush is ignoring the clear message of the American people: we must protect our troops, hold the Iraqi government accountable, rebuild our military, provide for our veterans, and bring our troops home.

"The President is demanding that we renew his blank check for a war without end. Despite the fact that the President persists in trying to score political points at the expense of our troops, congressional Democrats have repeatedly reached out in the spirit of cooperation. We renew our request to work with him to produce a bipartisan bill that provides our troops and our veterans with every penny they need, but in turn, demands accountability."

This isn't quite strong enough, to my mind, but it's a start. As I've said before, though, it's time to explicitly revoke the 2003 Iraq War resolution, and make it clear that the president's policy of indefinite occupation of Iraq will become illegal after a certain date, to be specified.

04 April 2007

John Edwards' Statement on Bush plan to veto funding for military

From Edwards's website.
John Edwards Calls On President Bush To Take Responsibility For The Consequences Of His Veto Threat On Iraq

"If President Bush vetoes funding for the troops, he will be the one who is blocking funding for the troops. Nobody else.

"Now is not a time to back down; it is a time for strength and conviction. The President's veto threat should only strengthen our resolve to stand by our troops and end this conflict.

"The Congress should make absolutely clear that they are going to stand their ground, supporting the troops and reflecting the will of the American people to end this war. If the President vetoes a funding bill, Congress should send him another bill that funds the troops, brings them home, and ends the war. And if he vetoes that one, they should send him another that does the same thing."

03 April 2007

An Open Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President:

I am very, very disappointed in the stance you have taken on the Iraq funding Supplement, as indicated by your press conference this morning. I am particularly disappointed by your bellicose name-calling and refusal to even acknowledge the will of the majority. You blame the representatives of the people for voting the way the last election clearly indicated the people want their Congress to vote: to begin to bring to an end the occupation which has emerged from the war in Iraq, which you started on false pretenses. The people have spoken, and they demand that your protracted war, with no end in sight, to fight the wrong enemy at the wrong time for the wrong reasons, must come to an end.

You claim, against all evidence, that the people are with you. But you are wrong. By a significant majority, the American people want this useless, baseless war ended. It seems that only you, and others so isolated in their blind support of you that they cannot see the evidence before their eyes, continue to believe a majority still supports this war.

More disturbingly, you seem to fail to grasp the essential principles of American government. Foreign policy, especially military policy, is ultimately decided by Congress in our system. The power to declare war is explicitly reserved in the Constitution to the Congress. The practice since World War II of ceding this power to the presidency with “resolutions,” or sometimes simply acquiescing in the illegal usurpation of this power by presidents, without any authorization, has proven unwise and dangerous. The Iraq occupation proves this yet again.

Regardless of the appropriateness of war-by-resolution, it should be clear that when the Congress unambiguously votes to bring a military operation to an end, as it has here, the permission given to the president in some past resolution is revoked, and his failure to comply with the express wishes of Congress is unlawful usurpation of powers he does not have. I only wish this Congress had made even clearer that the 2003 resolution, passed as it was on the basis of misinformation and deceit, is now revoked. But how you can conclude that the Congress continues to authorize the indefinite continuation of this occupation is beyond me. Apparently, you do not consider yourself answerable to the electorate, or the Congress, at all.

If funds are ultimately denied for the continued military occupation of Iraq, it will be because, and only because, you have refused to accept the clear will of the people and their representatives, in appropriating funds conditioned on the commencement of the process of disengaging from this war of occupation.

You are not the Emperor of America, sir. You are the servant of the people, whose will you are now openly and dangerously defying. This is shameful, illegal, and very, very dangerous.

I hope you will reconsider your reckless disregard for the principle that government of the United States is by consent of the governed. I hope you will sign the appropriations supplement bill when it comes to your desk, and begin, as is your real job, executing the instructions of the people’s representatives, which are clear: you are to end the occupation of Iraq and bring the troops home.

David Studhalter

Update: Glenn Greenwald's related comments on Giuliani's scary views on presidential power.