Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Uproar in US Congress over Iraq withdrawal vote

By Bill Van Auken
21 November 2005

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The US House of Representatives was thrown into an uproar Friday when the Republican majority forced a vote on a sham resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq.

The measure was placed on the agenda at the conclusion of the House’s final pre-vacation session in a bid to embarrass the Democrats and retaliate against Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, who the previous day had called for a pullout of US occupation forces over the next six months.

Murtha’s proposal shook politicians in both parties and was an unmistakable sign of the deepening crisis confronting the American intervention in Iraq. The 16-term congressman spent 37 years in the Marine Corps, retiring as a colonel. As a veteran officer and the most experienced congressional figure in defense appropriations, he enjoys the closest ties with the military brass.

The raucous congressional debate came after White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan made the absurd charge that Murtha, a consistent hawk who supported both the first Persian Gulf war and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was “endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party.” His call for a rapid withdrawal of US troops, McClellan said, amounted to “surrender to the terrorists.”

The New York Times reported on the House session: “Republicans and Democrats shouted, howled and slung insults on the House floor,” adding that the debate “descended into a fury over President Bush’s handling of the war and a leading Democrat’s call to bring the troops home.” The Washington Post reported that Democratic and Republican congressmen “nearly came to blows.”

The fury was triggered by a remark from Ohio Republican Representative Jean Schmidt—the most junior member of the House—who declared that one of her constituents, a Marine, had told her “to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

The insult to one of the most senior members of the House, a Vietnam veteran, was a violation of the body’s customary decorum as well as its rules, which bar members from directly addressing each other.

In response, Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee and other Democrats shouted and lunged toward the Republican side of the chamber. Newsweek commented, “The melee was so intense that it brought the soothing presence of Rep. Tom DeLay from his secure undisclosed location, and Schmidt eventually apologized.”

The Times quoted two Republican congressmen Sunday claiming that Schmidt made the remark unaware that Murtha was a former Marine. If this is true, it is testament to the abysmal intellectual level of the crop of Republican House members like Schmidt who have been elevated to Congress through appeals to reaction and the backwardness of the Christian right.

Most House observers, however, saw the statement as a deliberate provocation by a Republican congressional leadership that has become increasingly desperate over the plummeting popular support for Bush, the war in Iraq, and the party’s domestic political agenda.

In the end, the Republican measure calling for “immediate withdrawal” was voted down by an overwhelming margin, with 403 voting against and just 3 Democrats voting “yes.” Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi had urged Democratic congressmen to vote against the measure.

In the wake of the vote, the Bush administration continued its provocative attacks on Democratic critics of the administration’s war policy, calling forward military officers to attack its opponents and making threatening statements implying that those opposed to the war were endangering US troops.

The White House knows that Murtha speaks not just for himself, but for significant sections of the Pentagon’s uniformed command, with whom he has built up close political ties over decades. Vietnam was the formative experience of many of these senior officers, who once again see the threat of the US military disintegrating under the grinding pressure of a dirty colonial war.

The evidence that the war represents a catastrophic and humiliating failure grows daily. The US death toll in Iraq has reached 2,094, with 67 American soldiers killed in the first 20 days of this month alone. The rate of fatalities is the highest since November 2004.



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