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February 18, 2007

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Yeah, we know all this. But it is exactly by asking for more than you can get, and trying to substantively change policy knowing the odds are against you, that you EFFECTIVELY politicize the issue. "They wouldn't let us vote on a nonbinding resolution" is not a stirring call to arms.

(also, it was stupid to compromise so much on the resolution that folks like Feingold feel they cannot support it and still not have enough votes for cloture. Don't compromise if you don't get something in return.

agreed - there's certainly something to that. but stoller and others have been floating around Lamont-style challneges to anyone who doesn't do Drastic Measure X. That's just, to me, a very misguided political strategy.

The bottom line is that we all want the same thing.

I don't think so. You want things to go worse in Iraq so that the Democrats will gain politically. Well, at least you are honest in coming right out and saying that you want America to lose. That is what the Democrats are all about.

I would buy this a little easier:
Of course, as a general matter, war should be above politics. And I’m certainly not crazy about politicizing issues where human life is at stake. But I’m not advocating politicization simply as a means to put the Dems in power. In fact, it’s exactly the reverse -- I want the Dems in power so people will stop getting killed

If it wasn’t followed by this:
The other thing to keep in mind is that Iraq, like 9/11, is a political “game-changer.” It’s one of those issues that can shake people from their emotional, gut-level party loyalties. Of all the issues out there, only Iraq can bring about a true political realignment right now

Am I misreading you? You’re second comment there reads to me as “use the war as a means to gain political power”. I think that would be a disastrous strategy – but as always, my political advice to the Democrats is worth every dime they pay me for it.

"8. To end the war, you need someone in the White House who (1) is not Bush and (2) is not running on an 'the-war-is-awesome' platform."

Why? Congress makes all laws. Period.

Please explain this "need," and why it wasn't necessary to end the Vietnam War, or withdraw U.S. troops from Lebanon, Somalia, Haiti, or prevent them from going into Rwanda or Bosnia, as I discussed here and here, if you would be so kind?

"Second, the Democratic majority is very narrow, particularly in the Senate given that it hangs on Lieberman. And numbers matter. Numbers are why, for instance, it was absurd to think that the Dems could stop Alito with 44 Senators. (Dems had 55 Senators when Bork got Borked)."

This is true, but it was also true, in the sense of there being insufficient Senators in, say, 1966, who were against the war in Vietnam; but by 1973, things were very different. Republicans, too, today, are turning against the war, including in Congress. This will only accelerate. Ignoring this, simply because we have a pro-war President, rather than working on it, is folly, as well as irresponsible as regards the lives of the troops.

This isn't remotely comparable to a vote for a Supreme Court Justice, which happens just once, and can never be brought up again. Ending the war in Iraq isn't something we get only one chance at. It's a terrible analogy.

I otherwise pretty much agree with the rest of what you say; I simply don't understand what you are arguing with when you say we should "take a step back and get more realistic about Congress’s Iraq options."

Maybe it would have helped if you'd linked to some examples of what you mean by "the Feingolds and Stollers of the world": what are you arguing with?

"To end the war, you need someone in the White House who (1) is not Bush and (2) is not running on an 'the-war-is-awesome' platform."

I don't believe this flat statement is correct, or historically grounded. To urge people to adopt the view that wars can't be ended so long as a President favors them is a recipe for dictatorship and slaughter, and I oppose this sentiment utterly, as well as noting that it is not grounded in our actual history of Congress limiting or ending military involvements.

Imagine: "To end the Vietnam war, you need someone in the White House who (1) is not Nixon and (2) is not running on an 'the-war-is-awesome' platform."

People said that, too. They were, of course, completely wrong.

DaveC: "Well, at least you are honest in coming right out and saying that you want America to lose. That is what the Democrats are all about."

Please quit your usual vicious lies, DaveC. I know you won't, but I have to politely ask.

And I'll note once again that this is exactly the sort of statement that Moe Lane would go into rages about as a violation of the posting rules. It's still, so far as I know, a blatant violation of the posting rules.

DaveC:Well, at least you are honest in coming right out and saying that you want America to lose.

And you want to continue to pretend that we haven't already lost, continue to send 18 year old Americans to their deaths in the vain hope that the GOP won't be sent off into the wilderness for a generation, and won't admit it.

OCSteve: You’re second comment there reads to me as “use the war as a means to gain political power”.

Welcome to Karl Rove's brain circa summer 2002.

OCSteve:

You’re second comment there reads to me as “use the war as a means to gain political power”. I think that would be a disastrous strategy
As disastrous as it was for the Republicans in 2002 and 2004?

It only became damaging for them in 2006, by a time in which no one but the nearly-insane could claim things were going well in Iraq.

It's true that if Iraq were suddenly to start rapidly growing peaceful in 2007-8, that that would not work out well for anti-war politicians, but setting aside DaveC's ilk's convictions that anti-war people are actually rooting for death and slaughter and failure, how likely is that scenario to happen?

Practically speaking, OCSteve, the Democrats did come to power in Congress in 2006 in large part because of the war: was this bad? Or just a fact? If it was bad, should they have changed their views, or not taken their offices? If not, why should they do so for 2007-8?

Gary, there are people who'd apparently rather see hundreds more soldiers die in pursuit of a losing strategy than admit they were wrong and adopt a winning strategy. I guess you're just more optimistic that I am about whether rational conversation can be had with them.

I was referring to people who are actually rooting for death, slaughter, and, as we can see, failure; not OCS.

Just asking for clarification Gary - he seemed to be contradicting himself within the same post.

Personally, I think that if the public sees their usage of the war as an attempted power-grab rather than an honest effort to shut it down it – that would be politically disastrous. YMMV.

DaveC: Gary is right. First, Publius did not say he wants us to lose in Iraq. If you disagree, show me where he said this.

Second, I don't think any of us want America to lose. I know I don't. However, I think that we have lost. Whether or not the war was winnable is up for debate, but any chance we had, this administration squandered.

The question we face, as I see it, is what to do about this fact. Do we pretend it doesn't exist, and keep sending people off to die in order not to have to face up to it? Or do we try to figure out some way to contain the damage -- to ourselves and to Iraq -- as much as possible?

I completely agree with Publius that Matt S. et al are over the top. I also agree with him that whatever we do, it will not be optimal. It would be different if Bush had any interest in the views of the country, or in coming up with some way to proceed that had serious support. Then we could all try to work together. (Fwiw, I see no reason at all to think that the Democrats wouldn't be up for this.)

But he isn't, and that means that we are going to have to try to bring about an end to this without him. One way to do this is to just wait for 2008. Another is to try (as Biden suggests) to change the authorization for the use of force, or try Obama's plan, or something. These would all be subject to filibuster.

The third tactic is to use the appropriations process. The thing about appropriations is: the default state is that things are not funded. Congress needs to enact laws in order for there to be any funding for anything (whose funding hasn't been arranged in advance, e.g. the Social Security trust fund.)

That, in turn, means that the filibuster in the Senate can't block appropriations. Filibusters are a way of preventing a bill from getting passed. If no defense appropriations bill gets passed, then there is no defense funding. To write a defense appropriations bill that has some constraints written into it, all we need is control of the bill-writing process, which does not require a 60 vote majority in the Senate (or anywhere.) If we write such a bill and the Republicans filibuster, then no appropriations. If they don't filibuster and it passes, then it has its restrictions.

That's why the appropriations process is key. The trick (see my earlier discussion with OCSteve) is to find a way of preventing soldiers from being in Iraq without preventing those soldiers who are in Iraq from getting what they need -- to use the appropriations power to bring them home, not to leave them in Iraq without bullets or body armor. If we can find a way to do that, then I think we should. If not, then I think 2008 is all we have.

Publius: Accordingly, the only way to get traction in those states is to make the campaign about one issue -- Iraq (see, e.g., Virginia).

Clarifying question: Are you referring here to 2008, and Warner, or 2006/Webb? Because I'd have to disagree strongly if it's the latter.

nell - i live in VA and watched it up close. yes, macaca obviously mattered. but the reason webb was even on the radar was b/c of iraq.

ocsteve - i see your point. it's not what i meant, though i see how "realignment" can be taken that way. i probably shouldn't have added that sentence. my point was that (1) obtaining political power is the only way to end this war -- that's why it's important; (2) the unpopularlity of iraq makes that more possible by putting more states in play.

that's what i meant -- i certainly don't believe in using wars strictly for political ends (which is precisely what the gop 2002 campaign was, iMHO)

hilzoy -- that's an interesting point about the appropriations bill. i had forgotten that there is no filibuster allowed there. that makes for an interesting battle coming up

Publius, since you're here you know the extent to which it's a state of many parts.

In the valley and the southwest part of the state, it wasn't the macaca stuff that made the difference for Webb in my part of the state, or the war. It was his economic message, which seemed to get drowned out in the national and northern-Virginia regional (i.e., Post) news coverage.

Obviously, the doors-blown-off performance in NoVa wouldn't have been possible without the Iraq issue, but with such a small vote margin statewide, the contribution of the southwest counties that reverted to blue was also crucial.

I'm starting to love ObWi comments threads, which I've only been reading since Publius started posting here.

This is mostly aimed at OCSteve:

Accusing politicians of "politicizing" an inherently political issue is always a silly move. Sometimes the best way to get the on-the-ground change you want is to politicize the hell out of an issue. The reason why the Iraq war is good for Democratic electoral prospects is simply because it's a bad situation that's mostly the other guys' fault. It would be absurd if Democrats failed to take the opportunity to use the war to make the other side look bad. What's the point of democracy if voters don't punish the party responsible for bad decisions?

In principle, there's nothing wrong with vicious partisanship and exploitation of issues for political gain - as long as it's fact-based. It's lying, not partisanship, that ruins politics.

You want things to go worse in Iraq so that the Democrats will gain politically.

uh. don't be a dick.

Snuffleupagus, cleek, Snuffleupagus...

Guns vs butter. As I remember very vaguely the 1st (2nd, Ford) Nixon admimistration, appropriations and budgetary conflicts drove a good deal of the Vietnam War dynamics in Congress. Impoundment. Wage-Price controls, ending Bretton Woods and floating the dollar all were indirectly related to Congress not having any or enough money to spend because of the war. This did not help Nixon when he needed friends.

I am feeling a similar breakdown now. It is no shame on a Senator to say he was elected to spend money. That is their everyday job more than non-binding resolutions and social issues. Jim Webb would like to readjust some of the Federal money going to his state, as would the rest of Democrats.

But I am thinking there is no money. Cheney was very much around when Nixon-Ford essentially lost the war on the appropriations level, and I presume he has learned from those mistakes. Bush/Cheney can use the war & defense appropriations, to radically limit the room Congress, especially the Senate, has to move. I expect to revisit impoundment, this time involving military spending during war, with a radically different SCOTUS.

It could be that after a sober assessment, Pelosi & Reid decided the only real actions available were attacks on the President and the War.

It is almost always about money.

“The reason why the Iraq war is good for Democratic electoral prospects is simply because it's a bad situation that's mostly the other guys' fault.”

Tom: if Democrats try to short circuit the war through legislation and actually manage to shut it down – ie, bring the soldiers ‘home’ (wishful thinking – like Dorothy clicking her heels twice, to get back to Kansas) they’re going to become the other guys, and can say goodbye to majorities in either house for the next decade or two.

Here’s why:

If we’re outta there, Iraq isn’t suddenly going to become peaceful. Sunnis and Shiites will continue to kill each other. Both sides are armed to the teeth, and have backers who will continue to arm and support them. I don’t see any positive scenarios in the mix to damp down the violence. Just continuing bloodshed.

And who’s going to be blamed for the continuing mayhem, here in the U.S., politically, if Democrats pull the troops out? Now when we see Iraqis blowing up each other on the news, Bush is the recipient of the criticism because he set in motion the events that unleashed the sectarian violence. But if Democrats enact legislation to pull out the troops, and things get worse, public opinion is going to shift in the other direction.

It’s like a hit and run accident where one person driving crashes a bus into a crosswalk and runs over dozens of people. But a second person in the bus grabs the wheel and speeds away, leaving the scene with multiple injured behind. The first driver may be accused of inept stupidity; but the second will be accused of negligent cowardness
for fleeing. And that’s the way it will go down. Every hibernating Republican talking-head now in defensive mode will be on the offensive, shaking their fingers at Democrats on TV and the blogs and the papers. See, they’ll say, the chicken-shit Democrats cut and run, just like an ocean liner’s crew jumping ship, leaving the passengers to drown as it sinks.

That’s why I doubt a majority of Democrats will vote to pull out the troops. Because it’s a prescription for political disaster down the road.

"If we can find a way to do that, then I think we should."

Find a way? What "find a way"? Congress can simply write a bill that says what P.L. 106-246 said in July 2000:

Military Construction Appropriations and For Other Purposes – Personnel Ceiling in Colombia: “no funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this or any other Act (including funds described in subsection (c)) may be available for— (A) the assignment of any United States military personnel for temporary or permanent duty in Colombia in connection with support of Plan Colombia if that assignment would cause the number of United States military personnel so assigned in Colombia to exceed 500
Change the number as you like, change "Colombia" to "Iraq," and insert whatever date you like. What's the "find a way" part, as if this was some sort of complicated mystery, or something new and unusual for Congress?

Or let it use similar language to P.L. 93-50 in June 1973:

Supplemental Foreign Assistance, “None of the Funds herein appropriated under this act may be expended to support directly or indirectly combat activities in or over Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam by United States forces, and after August 15, 1974, no other funds heretofore appropriated under any other act may be expended for such purposes.”
Change the names to "Iraq" and the date to August 15, 2008 -- or 2007.

Or the Republican-sponsored H.R. 2606 of 1995:

Title: To prohibit the use of funds appropriated to the Department of Defense from being used for the deployment on the ground of United States Armed Forces in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of any peacekeeping operation, or as part of any implementation force, unless funds for such deployment are specifically appropriated by law.
Change the name to "Iraq."

Etc., etc., etc. Word as you like. What's the damn mystery about "finding a way"? Why do people keep talking like this?

Publius: "that's an interesting point about the appropriations bill. i had forgotten that there is no filibuster allowed there."

Well, no, that's completely wrong. Of course an appropriations bill can be fillibustered. I don't know where you're getting "there is no filibuster allowed there."

It's just that, you know, Congress would have have to deal with the consequences of not having funded part of the U.S. government, if they didn't pass a an appropriations bill of some sort (a continuing resolution, say). But "there is no filibuster allowed there" is imaginary, and flat wrong. It's happened a gazillion times, of course.

2004:

Democrats Filibuster Appropriations Bill

On the first day of the Congressional Session of the new year, today Senate Democrats blocked the omnibus appropriations bill that would be much of the spending plan for this year. Most Senate Democrats supported a filabuster because the bill was stripped of an overtime protection provision and included the relaxation of media ownership rules. The filabuster highlights a divided Congress that President Bush will address tonight in his state of the union address. Mitch Jeserich has more from Capitol Hill.

Another:
U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today expressed dismay at the Senate's failure to overcome a filibuster that would allow Congress complete the FY2004 appropriations process with increases for veterans and students, as well as at least $87.3 million in specific project funding forNew Mexicocommunities and programs.

The Senate today failed to reach a 60-vote litmus test to end a filibuster against the FY2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The package, which includes seven unfinished spending bills, remains stuck in limbo as the Senate voted 48-45 not to proceed to a final vote on the package.

I could give hundreds of other examples. Hell, Republicans have just been doing it:
And, Republican leader Mitch McConnell, is threatening to filibuster the appropriations supplemental if the Democrats restricts the president too much or redirect the funds toward withdrawal.
"...that's an interesting point about the appropriations bill. i had forgotten that there is no filibuster allowed there."

I'm afraid you're simply completely mistaken.

Nell: "It was his economic message, which seemed to get drowned out in the national and northern-Virginia regional (i.e., Post) news coverage."

It wasn't drowned out in national coverage; I read a lot about it, including plenty of denunciations from right-wing bloggers about Webb's love of communism, and, of course, the classic stand-by, his "stirring up class warfare."

"Cheney was very much around when Nixon-Ford essentially lost the war on the appropriations level"

For the record, Bob, Nixon and Kissinger had signed the Paris Peace Accords on January 27th, 1973, which took our combat troops out of Vietnam. This instituted an immediate cease-fire, in theory -- it was upheld by the U.S., and there were no more U.S. ground troops fighting in Vietnam after that -- and required the U.S. to complete its withdrawal, which had been going on for years by then, within 60 days. The war was over in Vietnam for the U.S. as of that date.

Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this, for what it's worth.

That's how the war ended in Vietnam for the U.S. Saying that Nixon "essentially lost the war on the appropriations level" is pretty much the Republican Big Lie, and wildly distorts what happened, as well as the fact that Nixon and Kissinger began American withdrawals in June of 1969, just as they had planned before the election, along with their policy of "Vietnamization" (withdrawal and turning the war over to the South Vietnamese, so as to allow for a "decent interval" for blame to not excessively fall on the U.S. -- this delayed the end of the U.S. involvement in the war until March, 1973, when the last troops were withdrawn, and is a set of events that allowed for the killing to go on in huge numbers after 1969, but in their own sense, the plan did "work" after a fashion.)

The collapse of South Vietnam didn't happen for another two years, in 1975.

Doubtless you are thinking of the debates about how much aid to give to South Vietnam in 1975, when Ford was President, but those were really irrelevant, Republican Big Lies to the contrary: the South Vietnamese had at least a year and a half's worth of ammunition and war and all other supplies at the time; South Vietnam collapsed because it was always doomed to: it never possessed widespread legitimacy and support amongst its own people, and instead was infamously wildly corrupt and largely, though not comprehensively, incompetent.

That's it, in a nutshell; American supplies were essentially irrelevant.

It's really pretty much the same story, in extremely broad outline, as Chiang's collapse in the face of Mao, in 1949. He had plenty of supplies, too, even though the Republicans were wildly lying then about how he lost due to "lack of American support." Total total total total lie. (Or to be charitable in some cases, misinformed and mistaken.)

"See, they’ll say, the chicken-[XXX] Democrats"

Yo, posting rules.

This account in Air Force Magazine in 2000 by a retired Air Force colonel seems pretty much correct, though I'm not bothering to cross-check every detail. Here is a brief timeline of the Vietnam War under Nixon and Ford, in the hope it will remind people of the sequence of events.

A key passage in how South Vietnam fell:

It was at Ban Me Thuot that there first occurred a phenomenon that would increasingly undermine the South's morale. Many of its army officers used helicopters to pick up their families and flee to the south with them. Phu himself fled when the time came.

South Vietnamese hordes then began to flee the countryside, crowding the main roads and the pathways in a mass exodus for the coast, where they ultimately jammed seaports seeking transport to the south. The refugees included not only those civilians who had helped the South's army or the Americans, but also a great mass who had no reason to expect bad treatment from North Vietnam's army. They were simply fleeing in the general panic.

The refugee crowd had another characteristic, one that would prove to have a disastrous effect upon South Vietnamese resistance. South Vietnamese soldiers were leaving the line of battle to find their families and escort them to safety. It was a natural response to the war, but it accelerated the dissolution of the South's capability to resist.

After that, it was largely just a case of the panic and collapse of the South accelerating constantly, and the North Vietnamese pressing their attacks; the degree and rapidity of the South's collapse considerably surprised even the North Vietnamese.

The South still had billions of dollars worth of supplies, and that was completely irrelevant, save to help the North Vietnamese as they captured them because the South Vietnamese abandoned the supplies, and the fight. They just quit fighting.

[...] The Communist forces entered Da Nang on March 29. Qui Nhon fell on March 31 and Nha Trang on April 3. The battle for Nha Trang lasted only three hours. The rich resources of Cam Ranh Bay fell on the same day after only 30 minutes of fighting. These reverses soon were followed by the fall of other coastal towns. Phu Cat airport was captured with more than 60 flyable aircraft in place.

Lost in the melee was materiel valued at billions of dollars. Anyone who flew in or out of Da Nang or Cam Ranh during the Vietnam War will recall the thousands of acres of supplies stacked around the airfields. That gigantic supply stockpile fell into Communist hands.

It should be needless to say that what appropriations the U.S. Congress supplied, or didn't, was completely and utterly as irrelevant as what the Martians did to affect the war.

Gary, I was actually think before the final years, mainly like 1969-1972. I know Nixon negotiated and drew down forces, but I am not sure part of his motivation might not have been budgetary concerns. I remember all the new programs (OSHA, EPA, expansion of the Great Society, etc), inflation, and would be interested in some real history of the interplay between the WH and Congress on Nixon 1st-term appropriations.

The final years, the Ford years were just a culmination I think of years of pressure on Nixon to reduce war/defense costs while not raising taxes and keeping Congress from rebellion.

"It should be needless to say that what appropriations the U.S. Congress supplied, or didn't, was completely and utterly as irrelevant as what the Martians did to affect the war."

Gary, I honestly thnk this is wrong. I think it is backwards to say that Nixon wanted to wind down the war, and war spending decreased coincidentally. I think 1st term Nixon saw that the war spending was holding down domestic spending that would be a lot more useful politically, especially in avoiding unemployment and recession.

Katherine nailed this one at the start of the thread. We have to ask for more than we hope to get to have any real prospect of getting some significant fraction of what we want and need. The political process will compromise things enough; we should start with clear and bold steps.

Gary: here's why I think we have to "find a way".

(1) There are already troops there. Just voting to defund them immediately won't work. It especially won't work if you don't want an immediate, precipitate withdrawal, but something that happens at a deliberate enough pace to allow for some attempt to maintain stability, and/or if you want to retain some presence nearby.

(2) De facto, this means that we will have to appropriate some funds for soldiers in Iraq.

(3) It will be up to George W. Bush to actually spend those funds, and he will necessarily have a lot to do with the details of how they are spent.

(4) Do you trust him not to leave the troops in the lurch in some horrible, visible way and blame the Democrats? I don't.

(5) If you don't want the troops to be left in the lurch, and/or don't want the Democrats to be blamed for something they didn't do, you have to find a way to fix things so that (4) is not possible.

I should have put this here, not the "Emboldening" thread; sorry:

Here, incidentally, is a pdf of a somewhat naive and overly-optimistic New Yorker "Letter From Saigon" from January, 1975 (a bit faded in spots, I'm afraid, but readable), which gives a sense of an American perspective on Vietnam at the time. Note in particular all the material about the corruption of the regime, and Thieu, and the opposition to him by Vietnames Catholic bishops and archbishops, and by Buddhist leaders (the old story, still ongoing and crucial). Also the stuff about "phantom soldiers," padded military payrolls, "flower soldiers," deserters (over 150,000!), recruitment targets not being met, soldiers imobilized in outposts, and "declining morale." And about the return to the pre-1965 situation of the South losing about two guns for every one the North lost.

The writing on the wall was there, if you knew to look for it.

Although I put it in my post on my own blog, it probably won't hurt if I again point out this small section of Moïse's bibliography, which is on the fall of Vietnam; plenty of reading material for anyone interested.

"I think it is backwards to say that Nixon wanted to wind down the war, and war spending decreased coincidentally."

I would agree, so it's a good thing I didn't say that. Nixon, of course, was responding back in 1968 to the fact that the majority of the American public had turned against the war by then; he was elected because of his "secret plan" (note: not a term he ever actually used) to end the war, and only because he proclaimed that he would end the war.

If he had run on "stay the course," he would have lost, even to Humphrey. (Humphrey also ran against stay-the-course, but too little, too late; a shame, really, but so was Bobby's assassination, to put it mildly.)

Which is why it's such a Big Lie for Republicans to claim that that our withdrawal from Vietnam was all due to Democratic Betrayal. It was the desire of the majority of the American people.

Cite:

In 1970, roughly half of those surveyed wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Vietnam within 12 months

[...]

In 1970, 56% said the decision to send troops to Vietnam was a mistake. (That number reached a high of 61% before direct American involvement in the war ended in 1973.)

[...]

A majority of Americans began calling the war a mistake after the Tet offensive in 1968 — three years after the major build-up of U.S. troops there. By 1970, the Nixon administration had taken steps to reduce U.S. troop levels and casualty rates.

But the U.S. invasion of Cambodia in April 1970 created a firestorm. In May, four anti-war protesters were shot and killed by Ohio National Guard troops at Kent State University.

That furor prompted the first major challenge by Congress to President Nixon's leadership on the war.

In the Senate, Democrats proposed the Cooper-Church amendment, the first measure to limit presidential powers during wartime. It barred U.S. combat operations in Cambodia and Laos. After months of debate, it finally was passed in December.

I'm sure you remember.

The DemFromCt cites Gallup:

In the comparable quarter for the Vietnam War (the third quarter of the war's third year -- that is, the third quarter of 1967), Gallup found 41% saying the conflict was a mistake. It was not until the third quarter of the fourth year of the Vietnam War (August-September 1968) that a majority of Americans said the war was a mistake.
Here more from Gallup:
During the Vietnam War, the percentage that felt sending troops there was a mistake rose as the war went on. 24% called Vietnam a mistake in a 1965 Gallup Poll, 41% called it a mistake by 1967; 61% said so in 1971 and 60% thought so in 1973

I blame many things on Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, but they always did intend to, and desired to, end the war; by 1968, they saw no good coming from it, and much badness for the U.S. The war was a huge drain on the U.S., in every possible way, and yes, certainly including financial.

Where I differ with them is their timetable, and their policy of letting so many more die to achieve the Decent Interval (aka "peace with honor").

The primary blame for the war belongs to Johnson, Kennedy, and Eisenhower, of course, pretty much in that order. (Truman, not so much; it would have been better if he'd sided with Ho Chi Minh, and slapped down the French, but that was never really likely; the real lost opportunity for ending the war was 1954, and the primary blame goes to Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles; then we can blame JFK for his getting us so much more involved, and then Johnson for totally effing us. IMO.)

Hilzoy: "There are already troops there. Just voting to defund them immediately won't work."

But that's besides the point. Congress can simply pass a bill ordering out as many or few as it likes, or capping troops at whatever level, on whatever timetable it feels is practical and desirable.

That's the end of the story, save for possibly having to impeach the President if he illegally disobeys.

Funding or defunding troops that are there is irrelevant. There's nothing about funding in most (not all) of the bills I've cited as precedent.

This is my point. What's with all the focus on funding troops?

tell us o all-knowing gary why someone would write http://www.anwr.com/archives/bush_looking_anew_for_alaska_oil_drilling.php>this:

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he will press to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as part of the government's budget deliberations early in 2005. That would enable drilling proponents to skirt an otherwise certain Democratic-led filibuster that would be difficult to overcome.

the examples you quoted are from omnibus bills which are different.

Gary: but my original point was about what it can do through the appropriations process. Ordering troops in or out involves bills, and thus 60 votes in the Senate.

sorry, i screwed up the tag.

ok, sorry for the tone. just a humble request -- when you're essentially going to call me an idiot (which is fine), you should take the time to learn the facts first. particularly on something that i said in passing. i mean, i can understand if i had said nixon is awesome or something.

Notice that, regardless of the merits or demerits, wisdom or lack of it, or any other aspect of Hillary Clinton's proposed bill, that it apparently says diddly about funding, and just does what I've been consistently talking about for months: a mandate on troop levels directly.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the early front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has called for a 90-day deadline to start pulling American troops from Iraq.

[...]

"Now it's time to say the redeployment should start in 90 days or the Congress will revoke authorization for this war," the New York senator said in a video on her campaign Web site, repeating a point included in a bill she introduced on Friday.

[...]

In offering what she called a roadmap out of Iraq, Clinton said a visit there last month had made her more determined to start what she called a long overdue withdrawal.

Clinton's bill would cap the number of troops in Iraq at the January 1 level, prior to Bush's decision to add 21,500 to the approximately 130,000 soldiers already there.

[...]

Clinton's bill would require congressional authorization to exceed her proposed cap on U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

I'm just baffled by this focus on funding, rather than simply addressing troop levels -- for instance, setting a timetable for withdrawals and troop caps in Iraq -- or, if one prefers, softer guidelines for withdrawals and troop caps.

The bill is S.670. However, as yet, Thomas says: "The text of S.670 has not yet been received from GPO"

The title, though, is: "Title: A bill to set forth limitations on the United States military presence in Iraq and on United States aid to Iraq for security and reconstruction, and for other purposes."

It was introduced on Friday.

"tell us o all-knowing gary"

I'm not remotely "all-knowing" and have never pretended to be. I've posted here many many many times about the number of topics I know little or nothing about being infinite, and I've mentioned many of them, as well as frequently making such statements on my blog.

I just try to mostly limit myself to talking about stuff where I know a bit.

"the examples you quoted are from omnibus bills which are different."

What distinction are you making that is significant? Are you saying that omnibus bills can be filibustered, but other appropriation bills can't? Or what?

I'm not sure where your link is intended to be to, since it's broken.

"ust a humble request -- when you're essentially going to call me an idiot (which is fine),"

I'm not calling you an idiot; you're obviously not an idiot. I pointed out what seems to be an error of fact you made. I've been known to make errors, myself, from time to time.

"you should take the time to learn the facts first."

Sure. What facts are you suggesting I'm unaware of?

I do get over-emphatic overly easily, as I've also discussed many times; as usual, I apologize for my lousy control of tone. I allow various forms of frustration to creep in, far too often, I'm afraid.

budget bills can't be filibustered pursuant to law. i would have assumed that rule applied to omnibus bills too, but apparently it doesn't, as the links you cited indicate.

I might be wrong, but I seem to recall that an appropriations bill that follows the budget bill can't be filibustered. Obviously when there's no budget bill, this wouldn't preclude filibuster of an appropriations bill.

I could be completely wrong about this.

Obama's bill is S.433 , by the way. It's much too long to quote, but it's entitled the "Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007," and mandates force levels for Iraq, and redeployment. It starts:

(1) DEADLINE FOR COMMENCEMENT OF REDEPLOYMENT- Except as otherwise provided in this section, the phased redeployment of the Armed Forces of the United States from Iraq shall commence not later than May 1, 2007.

(2) SCOPE AND MANNER OF REDEPLOYMENT- The redeployment of the Armed Forces under this section shall be substantial, shall occur in a gradual manner, and shall be executed at a pace to achieve the goal of the complete redeployment of all United States combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008, consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group, if all the matters set forth in subsection (b)(1)(B) are not met by such date, subject to the exceptions for retention of forces for force protection, counter-terrorism operations, training of Iraqi forces, and other purposes as contemplated by subsection (g).

Hilzoy:
Gary: but my original point was about what it can do through the appropriations process. Ordering troops in or out involves bills, and thus 60 votes in the Senate.
Yes, absolutely, but that brings us to the matter of continuously doing everything possible to raise the pressure on Republican Senators running for re-election in 2008. If most of them face a choice of changing their minds, or losing office, most will, sooner or later, change their minds.

And that's another lesson I take from the Vietnam era.

Will we win next month? No.

But I'm not convinced we'll necessarily have to wait for November, 2008, either, and I think it's a terrible idea to plan as if we have to, though it's certainly true that we might not be able to win before that -- but I suspect we can: basically, if the news from Iraq does truly grow quiet for some time to come, we probably can't win a vote, but I really don't think it's wise or even sensible to plan as if that's going to happen.

Am I making any sense here?

With the turn in the comments, another ironic post title by Publius. 3 for 3, dude!

But more seriously, I find it hard to argue with the notion that brinksmanship requires an equal measure of brinksmanship until the other side backs down or collapses. Dems are doing better, but they still seem to think that there is some newly found restraint on the Republican side. Perhaps in the amidships where they are looking at the pinup girls on the 2008 calendar, but the ship itself sails blithely on. Put the torpedoes in it, and then pick up the ones who are floating around after the ship sinks.

"budget bills can't be filibustered pursuant to law."

Can you give a cite on that, please?

Can you give a cite on that, please?

2 U.S.C. 641(e)(2).

Although your link to anwr.com was broken, publius, I've found the piece via a search on the site; it's here. You seemed to be asking about this line (if it was another, please let me know, of course):

By Senate rules, opponents of drilling cannot filibuster a budget measure. ANWR qualifies as a budget measure because it will generate income for the government from oil companies.
If that's what you asked me, well, that doesn't state that appropriations bills can't be filibustered. I'm perfectly willing to believe your assertion that they can't be if you do give a clear cite, of course.

But I've seen countless non-omnibus appropriation bills filibustered; as I said, there are endless examples; for instance, speaking of ANWR, here's one:

The Senate today failed to pass a major defense appropriations bill after a Democratic-led bloc stymied it with a filibuster in an effort to force removal of a controversial provision on oil drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge.
As I said, if you do have a cite that makes clear that, somehow, as you said, "there is no filibuster allowed" in "the appropriations bill," I will certainly humbly apologize for having been wrong, and so emphatically so. I'm always happy to get more accurate information, if I've made an error.

But, meanwhile, here are plenty of examples of filibustered (mostly non-omnibus) appropriations bills.

"2 U.S.C. 641(e)(2)."

Thanks, Charley. That seems to be here, and if I'm not mistaken, it says:

(2) Debate in the Senate on any reconciliation bill reported under subsection (b) of this section, and all amendments thereto and debatable motions and appeals in connection therewith, shall be limited to not more than 20 hours.
If I don't have this wrong, I'm not seeing how it supports publius's assertion that 'there is no filibuster allowed" in 'the appropriations bill.'"

Am I misreading? Most appropriations bills are not reconciliation bills, right?


reconciliation bill
:

A bill containing changes in law recommended pursuant to reconciliation instructions in a budget resolution. If the instructions pertain to only one committee in a chamber, that committee reports the reconciliation bill. If the instructions pertain to more than one committee, the Budget Committee reports an omnibus reconciliation bill, but it may not make substantive changes in the recommendations of the other committees.
More on the appropriations process here, if anyone cares.

Am I missing something, where the regular 11 appropriations bills can't be filibustered, or where supplementals can't? Or anything else that would support publius's assertion?

Gary, as noted above, an appropriations bill that requires reconciliation to a budget bill would seem to fit the description. I think that the passage of the budget bill is a necessary predicate for protecting approps bills from filibuster, which is why we haven't had this issue lately.

to bring this tangent to a close, i don't know the ins and outs of the budget process. but i do know that certain budget bills (whether pre-reconcilation or non-omnibus or whatever) cannot be filibustered. that's what the whoel ANWR furor was about in the last session. that's also how clinton got his tax cuts in 1993 with gore breaking the tie.

the point is that there is SOMETHING that doesn't require a filibuster and the dems could explore using that. again, this was simply a statement made in passing, so i'm probably going to retire from this thread-within-the-thread

You know, when I think about ending the war by appropriations bill -- to climb up out of the weeds for a second -- I think of something else entirely: Senate Republicans can filibuster all they want, and the President can veto whatever he wants, but at the end of the day, either a bill gets passed/signed, or the soldiers are having bake sales to buy ammo. No one wants that, but if it's clear to the public that the Republicans and the President are trying for something unpopular, and if the Dems have calibrated the bills they send down the street correctly, "victory" in a shutdown might go the other way this time.

There's no indisputable moral high ground in a game of chicken. The geniuses at the WH would do well to keep this in mind.

"Gary, as noted above, an appropriations bill that requires reconciliation to a budget bill would seem to fit the description."

Yes, but am I wrong that many appropriations bills don't require reconciliation?

Or, in other words, how does one account for the innumerable cases of filibusters of appropriation bills that I've pointed to, if publius's assertion that "there is no filibuster allowed" in "the appropriations bill" is correct?

Hmm, I'm pretty much repeating the questions I asked in my previous comment, so maybe I'm just missing something.

Perhaps it's this: "I think that the passage of the budget bill is a necessary predicate for protecting approps bills from filibuster, which is why we haven't had this issue lately."

That's true, but I'm missing how that would make publius's statement correct.

You made a different statement, of course, which I've never argued with, and which is specifically limited to reconciliation after budget bills -- that's not at all what publius said.

I can well believe he was thinking something different than what he said; people doing that is a common explanation for these sorts of debates and confusions.)

I just discovered a free copy of this Rick Perlstein piece, by the way.

"I can well believe he was thinking something different than what he said"

Or maybe it's just me, of course.

publius: "but i do know that certain budget bills (whether pre-reconcilation or non-omnibus or whatever) cannot be filibustered."

Sure. That's entirely different that saying that all appropriations bills can't be filibustered.

And that's the relevant point. You wrote:

hilzoy -- that's an interesting point about the appropriations bill. i had forgotten that there is no filibuster allowed there. that makes for an interesting battle coming up.
But, in fact, there won't be such a battle unless a provision as regards Iraq is slipped into an appropriations bill that can't be filibustered, rather than one that can be.

"again, this was simply a statement made in passing, so i'm probably going to retire from this thread-within-the-thread"

You also wrote:

just a humble request -- when you're essentially going to call me an idiot (which is fine), you should take the time to learn the facts first.
I'd have been happy to have apologized if I'd turned out I was wrong about this.

However, it seems I was correct about the facts. No biggie, of course -- and I repeat that I wasn't "calling [you] an idiot" -- but, well, okay, you can just leave "you should take the time to learn the facts first" standing, if you like. As I said, no biggie.

Now I really should watch this DVD of Longitude, Part I.

One other point occurs to me as regards the point I was trying to make here about not necessarily focusing on an appropriations bill, and acting as if in the current Senate we'll never get 60 votes as regards Iraq until January, 2009, is that we've already gone in just two weeks from getting only two Republican votes for cloture on an Iraq debate, to seven.

Imagine where we may be in six months, or twelve months.

"...and if the Dems have calibrated the bills they send down the street correctly" ...CC

I have been trying to think on the tactics of the confrontation, which is why I was looking back toward the first Nixon term.
There is some of that "make worse to get better stuff" I am told to watch out for.

The kind of thing I am thinking of is just give the President everything he want, and then some more until the deficit goes up a half trillion, and Bernanke is in a bind. If the street believes the war is costing them jobs, the pressure would increase.

Somehow what I sense is that Pelosi & Reid are attemptin to put sustained stress on the Republican caucus, and keep it up until they have the votes for appreopriations bills.

Good point, bob, and one thing that I would add is that we envision everyone clearly on one side or the other, perhaps with jerseys so that it is easier to tackle the right guy, but I think that the alliances are a lot more fluid, especially in the Senate. I'm sure this has been linked, but this article about Hillary's involvement in Senate prayer breakfasts sort of indicates the sort of mixing that goes beyond beneath the surface and explains why people who seem pretty hideous actually are able to work and be respected (not thinking about anyone in particular, so fill in your own names)

I like the idea of putting sustained stress on the Republican caucus, but that stress might have to be the kind of stress that bends the bough, not snaps it in two. Personally, I have a deep seated desire for a take no prisoners approach, but thinking about it, I can see why that is not taking place, given the dynamics of congress.

This article should be this article

"Personally, I have a deep seated desire for a take no prisoners approach, but thinking about it, I can see why that is not taking place, given the dynamics of congress."

To note the obvious, the Senate is always, and to a fair degree needs to be to work at all, more collegial than the House. And obviously it's easier, overall, when there are only 100 people to know, not 435, as well.

Thanks for that link, LJ; I'd not noticed that piece before (what with most of The Atlantic behind the paywall, I find it easy to miss stuff there nowadays; a shame, because it's an excellent magazine).

Reading that Atlantic piece on Senator Clinton, by the way, I laughed at this, because it's such a quintessentially political thing to do:

When upstate apple growers complained that China and Canada were flooding the market with imported apples, Clinton attacked foreign apples, pushing for mandatory “country of origin” stickers that would identify apples grown in New York.

Gary, I still don't understand your point about not funding the Iraq war and the Senate. The Iraq war isn't an automatically funding item. If the House fails to fund it, you don't need 60 votes in the Senate to pass the non-funding. It isn't a bill. You don't have to vote on it. It doesn't exist.

If Republicans want to filibuster everything in the Senate to try to get their way in the House, I suppose that is possible, but probably not good for the Republican Party image such as it is. I suppose you could filibuster other defense spending. But if the House chooses not to fund Iraq, you can't really filibuster that because the non-funding doesn't have to be a special bill. It could be a non-action.

By the way, I don't think that just non-funding the Iraq war is a good choice, but if Democrats think it is, they can do so without having 60 votes in the Senate.

"'See, they’ll say, the chicken-[XXX] Democrats'

Yo, posting rules."

What posting rules, Gary?

A quick perusal of the rules doesn’t indicate that the word shit or any of it’s variations are banned from the site. The closest proscription is the ‘no profanity’ rule. But shit isn’t a profane word: most American dictionaries categorize it as vulgar slang. Although the word may be offensive to some delicate ears it’s as ubiquitous as the word 'damn' and just about as innocuous.

However, if a term as vernacular as ‘chicken-shit’ used to describe cowardly behavior is offensive to the mind-set on this blog, I’ll certainly curtail my inclinations to use the American idiom as it’s actually spoken in public and private, and substitute the more prophylactic version preferred by the Federal Communications Commission.

"However, if a term as vernacular as ‘chicken-sh*t’ used to describe cowardly behavior is offensive to the mind-set on this blog"

No. It's because of office internet filters; almost none of the people give a flying eff what language you use.

I do, Gary. And I think less of you for it.

Ugh

OCSteve: You’re second comment there reads to me as “use the war as a means to gain political power”.

Welcome to Karl Rove's brain circa summer 2002.

lol, but heck -- I think Bush had that in mind on 9/12 before Rove ever whispered it in his ear.
_________________

To many others above -- the Democrats cannot unilaterally defund the war. Any budget they pass (assuming they get 51 votes in the Senate,) can still be vetoed by Bush. We then have 1995 -- shut down the government because no funding bill is passed, or make deals with Bush.

It takes 67 votes in the Senate and 288 in the House to defund the war. It takes a lot of Republicans bucking Bush to defund the war. So far, they are standing with him, and 2008 is the only alternative for dealing with the issue.

And what Katherine said at the top -- the non-binding resolutions are pointless. Propose reasonable and binding solutions, and force Republicans to vote with Bush and his war vision or against him.

Although since the Iraq war has apparently always been funded by special appropriations and not part of the overall budget process, it would be possible to tie up just that issue. But still, the option seems to be total defunding by failure to pass an appropriation, or making a deal with Bush.

The un-wisdom of the Dems passing non-binding resolutions while sitting back and claiming "But the Republicans won't let us pass anything!" is apparent. De-funding the war will work if the Dems get on board. At the very worst, if they couldn't manage to pass anything, as long as every Dem came through in support of de-funding, then they can paint the Repubs as bad guys. The voters are not going to be sympathetic to a bunch of idiots who don't even attempt to fight! The Dems were elected for that purpose; they need to live up to expectations. Your idea that somehow they can sit back and do essentially nothing and that this will pay off in 2008 is dead wrong. They will lose! You need to see that clearly.

"The Democrats need to make Iraq a Republican vs. Democrat issue."

That's pretty hard to do when you have a guy who got 10% in the Iowa REPUBLICAN caucus on a stricter anti-war platform than the Dems (immediate withdrawal).

I'm speaking about Ron Paul, of course.

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Whatnot


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