Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
The Great War Funding Conspiracy

Blank Check Democrats

by RON JACOBS

Okay. I’m going to state the obvious here. After all, somebody needs to say it. In fact, everybody who sees it needs to say it. Are you ready? Then here goes. The men and women calling themselves Democrats and sitting in Congress are the biggest bunch of liars this country has ever seen. Given today’s political situation, what with Bush and Cheney running the White House, that’s a pretty big claim to make. Unfortunately for those who believed those men and women might actually stop the war in Iraq and begin getting the US military out of there, this is the only conclusion one can make.

I mean, take a look. There are more troops in Iraq now than there were when the Democrats won (yeh, won) both houses of Congress a little over a year ago. If my calculations are correct, more than $100 billion have been spent to keep those troops there, keep them in supplies both lethal and otherwise, and to top it off, more troops have died since those elected "representatives" took their places than in any other year of this loathsome war and occupation. Add to this list of calamities the untold numbers of Iraqis killed, wounded and uprooted from their homes. No matter how you look at it, there is no way this can be called ending the war. In fact, not only could it be called enabling this debacle to continue, the more truthful description would be to call what the Democrats have done is conspire to commit murder.

Their partners in the conspiracy-the White House, the Pentagon and their GOP supporters-have been true to their word. They promised that they would stay in Iraq until their goals were reached, no matter how many lives it took. Even without an elected majority in Congress, this element of the conspiracy has received every bit of money, every single GI and marine, and almost every bit of positive media spin they have asked for. This could not have occurred without the collusion of the Democrats.

As I write this, another alleged attempt by Congressional Democrats to begin bringing home a sizable minority of troops from Iraq seems to be going the way of every other previous attempt. That is, to the dustbin of history. The reasons given this time by the Democrats are as pathetic as those provided previously. You know the litany: they don’t have the votes, the GOP is threatening a filibuster if the troop withdrawal limits are attached to the bill, they don’t want to harm the troops in the field, and so on. Now I don’t know about you, but isn’t leaving the troops in the war zone more dangerous than bringing them home? Furthermore, if the Republicans can filibuster a spending bill to prevent the inclusion of elements in the bill that they don’t like, can’t the majority Democrats also filibuster that same bill to make sure those same elements are included?

I mean, we’re not talking about halting funding for the war and occupation and bringing the troops home starting tomorrow here, even though that is what we should be talking about. No, we’re talking about a bill that essentially suggests to Mr. Bush that he take $50 billion more for the war and start thinking about bringing some of the troops home as soon as possible with the idea that a good number of them are no longer in Iraq by December 2008. That’s not a hell of a lot to ask for. Yet, the Democrats are backing off from this lily-livered legislation and planning on giving the White House another $50 billion with no strings attached, not even the silly string of the aforementioned withdrawal suggestion. To top it off, the Democrats are telling the press that it’s the Republican’s fault that they refuse to stand their ground.

"We’ve tried maybe a dozen times" to bring troops home, said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "And when we do try and we don’t succeed, we still provide funding for the troops." In other words, they still provide monies for the war. If the Boston Red Sox had this attitude, they would never have made it to the World Series in 2004 and 2007. But then again, baseball teams don’t conspire with their competition to get to the championship, they play them harder than they are being played because they truly want to win. If the Democrats truly wanted to end the war, they would stand up to the challenges of the war supporters across the aisle and in the White House. Instead, they hedge their bets, blame their opponents for their failures, and vote for more war. All of which makes it harder for those of us who truly oppose the war and occupation to vote for any of them.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net