There are 70 billion reasons to quit giving -- one for every dollar they just appropriated for the Iraq war and occupation.
Writing it that way makes it seem like too little. This is better: $70,000.000,000.00. That's how I'd use it in a campaign commercial against one of them in a Democratic primary.
No matter how you write it, it is a lot of money.
Did I mention that it's with no strings attached? No requirements to even begin to plan for troop withdrawal. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.
How did that happen, when we elected a Democratic Congress just a year ago with a mandate to end the war and bring the troops home?
It happened because the Dems are spineless.
In the Senate, three Democrats -- three -- voted against the appropriations bill. Their names are Feingold, McCaskill, and Bayh. On an earlier vote on a Feingold amendment to withdraw most US troops within nine months, Feingold got 23 other Democrats to join him. But 20 of them later caved and voted for final passage of the bill, which passed 76-17. (The pertinent roll calls are #437 and #441.)
In the House, where the bill passed 272-142, 141 Democrats voted no. Seventy-eight others voted yes. Here's the roll call.
Presidential candidates were too busy running for president to be bothered with a little item like this, so they weren't recorded.
Here's what one of the House Dems who voted no had to say:
"This is a blank check," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). "The new money in this bill represents one cave-in too many. It is an endorsement of George Bush's policy of endless war."
So maybe it's not fair to tar all of the Democrats with the same brush, since McGovern and some others did the right thing. I'm willing to make some exceptions, but not too many.
It's hard to know, of those 141 House Dems who voted no, whether they would have done the same if their votes had been needed for passage. This was a free vote; they knew the bill was going to pass anyway, so they could get on the right side. For now, they probably get the benefit of the doubt.
But what about those 78 who voted yes even when they had a free pass to do the right thing? How does anyone defend them? Is it courageous to vote to continue the war as is, when two-thirds of the people in the country want it to end?
They'll offer plenty of tortured logic and parliamentary gobbledygook to explain why they had to vote for the pork-filled package. But it's all phony baloney.
It's even more pathetic in the Senate, where all but three Dems voted for passage while the bill was passing by a 59-vote margin. Another freebie. A chance to do the right thing, to do what their constituents want, and put some pressure on to start bringing our troops home.
It recalls the principled stand of the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the Wisconsin Democrat, who cast one of only three votes against a $700-million appropriation for the Vietnam war in 1965.
"Obviously, you need my vote less than I need my conscience," Nelson told the Senate.
Appropriately, Russ Feingold holds Nelson's Senate seat.
So, given their latest performance, or lack thereof, the Democrats clearly need my money less than I need my conscience.
I am through giving money to anyone who votes to fund the war with no strings. I am through giving money to the DCCC or DSCC. And I am through giving to presidential candidates at least until there is a nominee, when we can evaluate the ticket and the platform.
I'm tired of hearing that Democrats don't have the votes. They have the votes not to appropriate no-strings money for the war.
What they lack is not the votes, but the will, or, if you prefer, the guts.
It's time to defund them.
POSTSCRIPT: One blogger suggested that perhaps we could simply give the $70-billion directly to defense contractors and the oil industry, in exchange for being allowed to end the war.
Maybe there's another way. Let's just buy enough members of Congress. If we divide the money between the 535 members, we could give them about $131-million each. That should be enough to buy their votes to end the war. But if we only want to buy a veto-proof majority, we'd only have to pay two-thirds of them, so they could each get $195-million. They could each use it for whatever earmarked pet projects they'd like in their districts. Maybe it would work.
Hard not to get cynical, isn’t it?
(Cross-posted at Docudharma.)