Senator Russ Feingold plans to use “power of the purse” to “end” the Iraq war

John Bresnahan has the details:

Feingold, who chairs the Subcommittee on the Constitution, will question several witnesses [next week at a hearing], including a Library of Congress official and legal experts from Harvard, Duke, and the University of Virginia, on the issue. Senior Bush administration officials have publicly argued that Congress’ has no such right, but Feingold plans to introduce legislation to force President Bush to American forces out of the troubled country.

“Congress holds the power of the purse and of the President continues to advance his failed Iraq policy, we have have the responsibility to use that power to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq,” Feingold said in a statement released by his office on Thursday. “I will soon be introducing legislation to use the power of the purse to end what is clearly one of the greatest mistakes in the history of the nation’s foreign policy.”

Finally. A Democrat who wants to put his money where his mouth is instead of pushing meaningless “symbolic votes” against the President’s surge plan.

Not even a month into their majority, the Congressional Dems are showing the world exactly what they’re made of.

Congress and the Iraq war: Do they have the authority to stop it?

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has a piece up today arguing that Congress has no Constitutional power to micromanage any war:

To understand why the Founders put war powers in the hands of the Presidency, look no further than the current spectacle in Congress on Iraq. What we are witnessing is a Federalist Papers illustration of criticism and micromanagement without responsibility.

Consider the resolution pushed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday by Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel, two men who would love to be President if only they could persuade enough voters to elect them. Both men voted for the Iraq War. But with that war proving to be more difficult than they thought, they now want to put themselves on record as opposing any further attempts to win it.

Their resolution–which passed 12-9–calls for Iraqis to “reach a political settlement” leading to “reconciliation,” as if anyone disagrees with that necessity. But then it declares that the way to accomplish this is to wash American hands of the Iraq effort, proposing that U.S. forces retreat to protect the borders and hunt terrorists. The logic here seems to be that if the Americans leave, Iraqis will miraculously conclude that they have must settle their differences. A kind of reverse field of dreams: If we don’t come, they will build it.

The irony is that this is not all that far from the “light footprint” strategy that the Bush Administration was following last year and which these same Senators called a failure. It is precisely the inability to provide security in Baghdad that has led to greater sectarian violence, especially among Shiites victimized by Sunni car bombs. The purpose of the new Bush counterinsurgency strategy is to provide more security to the population in the hopes of making a political settlement easier.

But then such analysis probably takes this resolution more seriously than most of the Senators do. If they were serious and had the courage of their convictions, they’d attempt to cut off funds for the Iraq effort. But that would mean they would have to take responsibility for what happens next. By passing “non-binding resolutions,” they can assail Mr. Bush and put all of the burden of success or failure on his shoulders.

Read the rest here. (Hat tip: ST reader Sev)

On a related note, make sure to check out Daniel Henninger’s opinion piece in today’s Real Clear Politics, on how we’re ‘talking ourselves into defeat’. He writes:

The United States is talking itself into defeat in Iraq. Its political culture is now in a downward spiral of pessimism. In the halls of Congress, across endless newspaper columns, amid the punditocracy and on Sunday morning talk shows–all emit a Stygian gloom about America.

Yes, on any given day on some discrete issue (Prime Minister Maliki’s bona fides, for example), the criticism of the American role is not without justification. But the cumulative effect of this unremitting ill wind is corrosive. We are not only on the way to talking ourselves into defeat in Iraq but into a diminished international status that may be harder to recover than the doom mob imagines. Self-criticism has its role, but profligate self-doubt can exact a price.

Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins wonders “whether the clock has already run out.” To U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the new strategy is “a dead end.” For the Bush troop request, presidential candidate Joe Biden predicted “overwhelming rejection.” (His committee resolution to that effect yesterday passed by three votes.) Presidential candidate Chuck Hagel: “We have anarchy in Iraq. It’s getting worse.” And not least, Sen. John Warner this week heaved his tenured eminence against the war effort, proposing another “non-binding” resolution against more troops.

It’s a pretty comprehensive piece with a lot of good points. Make sure to read it all.

Getting ridiculous

It’s one thing to target a radio or TV personality when you think he and/or his staff have gone over the line with allegedly ‘offensive’ words and/or statements they’ve made that can be attributed only to themselves, but it’s another thing entirely to go after one for using the offending word or statement in context of talking about the controversy.

Such is the case with liberal blogger John Aravois, who, as James Joyner reports, is targeting Glenn Beck’s TV program because he used the “f” word (the slang word sometimes used for gay people) in the context of a discussion about how the actor in Hollywood who used it (Isiah Washington from Grey’s Anatomy) is under fire from gay groups. Here’s the relevant part of the transcript from Beck’s show. Beck’s interviewing with 97.1 FM St Louis radio host Dave Glover:

GLOVER: Yes. Basically you have Isaiah Washington, who`s one of the stars of the show, who referred to one of his co-stars during a heated argument as a derogatory term for a gay man that starts with “F”, rhymes with maggot. Did it a couple more times after that. And do you like how I did that?

BECK: Yes.


BECK: Do you know that “The New York Times” wouldn’t even print — I mean, we can say the word. We’re having an adult conversation here. Wouldn`t even print the word “fagot.” [sic]

GLOVER: Right.

BECK: Wouldn’t print it. I find that amazing.


GLOVER: When did we elevate obnoxious behavior to a medical condition? You know, I mean, when is just being a jerk, an obnoxious jerk mean that you now have to go to rehab? We`d be having the same conversation each week.

BECK: It`s Michael Richards and before that it was Mel Gibson. It`s the same damn story.

GLOVER: Yes. It is the same story. And we need to stop. Just call it what it is, OK? When someone acts in an obnoxious way, they are being a jerk. If people do it enough, they are a jerk, and it doesn`t mean that they have a genetic condition that makes them do it.

It means they`re a jerk and they need to study and grow up, be a man and stop acting like a jerk, not go seek out medical attention or, you know, spiritual counseling. Just stop it.

What’s fascinating about the ‘outrage’ over Beck’s use of the “f” word (which I’ve decided not to use) is that Aravosis is using it himself in his blog post about it. But I guess there’s a difference in him using it in the context of the discussion than Beck – you see, Beck’s a conservative.

GLAAD’s wigging out, too:

Glover’s attempt to identify the epithet without using it on-air was in keeping with how other broadcast and cable outlets – including CNN – have approached it since the 64th Annual Golden Globe® Awards incident that sparked a national dialogue about the slur and the impact of anti-gay prejudice. Throughout CNN’s coverage of the Isaiah Washington controversy over the past week, Beck appears to be the only host to have repeated the epithet on the air.

“Beck’s obnoxious repetition of the slur — and his flip dismissal of it as simply a ‘naughty name’ – speaks volumes about his appalling ignorance of its impact,” Giuliano said. “Beck added nothing to the audience’s understanding of the issue, except perhaps to demonstrate his juvenile belief that repeating an anti-gay slur makes him an ‘adult.'”

On Tuesday, GLAAD reached out to CNN’s standards and practices department to discuss the matter. On Wednesday, a CNN spokesperson told GLAAD that Beck wasn’t using the word himself, that Beck’s show is an “opinion show” and not a news program, and that Beck was expressing an opinion about The New York Times’ decision to not use the word.

“The ugliness of Glenn Beck’s word choice and his ignorance of its impact really speak for themselves,” Giuliano said. “Other CNN personalities have discussed derogatory slurs as part of this story without debasing that discussion. CNN has a responsibility to address Beck’s crudeness and require that he adhere to basic standards of respect.”

Sigh. When someone uses a slur against someone, it’s justifiable to be upset. When someone’s using the slur in context of a discussion about the person(s) who used it, in most cases it’s not. I think GLAAD and Aravosis both need to, well, get a life.

Beck and Glover had what’s called a “discussion” on the issue (Gasp!), and Beck chose to use the word in the context of the issue he and Glover were talking about. The attempted stifling of the usage of these terms in context is one example of how the left goes about trying to punish speech they don’t agree with, simply because they are ‘offended’ by the contextual terms used in the discussion of an issue.

Should you always use words that may offend someone in that manner? I’ve always said that just because we have the right to say something doesn’t make it right to say, and as I noted earlier I chose not to use the “f” word in this post outside of reposting the transcript of Beck’s and Glover’s conversation about it, but others have and will and just because someone chooses to use a word in context which others find offensive is no reason to target that person nor his or her advertisers in an attempt to ‘punish’ them. It’d be like targeting Aravosis blog and his advertisers because he himself used it in his post – in context.

PM Update: Ian at Hot Air makes a good point: where was the left’s outrage over Sen. Robert Byrd’s use of the “n” word on Fox News back in March 2001?