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Friday, March 23, 2007

House Bill Passes: Pork and Chess

Anyone who has played chess and is any good at it understands that although the ultimate goal is to protect the king, the strategy is to be able to predict what the opponents next move is, then what your next move will be, then your opponents again and so on...

Making a good move means nothing if you cannot "see" in your mind what your opponents next move will be, if you cannot see at least 3 to 4 moves ahead and have your moves planned out in response, you may capture a piece here and there, but you will lose the game.

I would be willing to bet that Nancy Pelosi doesn't play chess and if she does, she would be very bad at it.

We explained yesterday how she stuffed the Iraq supplemental funding full of so much pork, the damn thing is actually making OINK OINK sounds. (Michelle Malkin has additional pork that was stuffed into the bill)

Today, let us assume that reports are right and she gets this bill, full of the bribes and bought votes to pass through the house.... let us assume it is a done deal for the purpose of this post. [UPDATE before I even hit publish, bill has passed the house/ 218 in favor, 212 opposed]

[Picture added after post was written]

Wapo has a piece called Retreat and Butter:

Are Democrats in the House voting for farm subsidies or withdrawal from Iraq?

TODAY THE House of Representatives is due to vote on a bill that would grant $25 million to spinach farmers in California. The legislation would also appropriate $75 million for peanut storage in Georgia and $15 million to protect Louisiana rice fields from saltwater. More substantially, there is $120 million for shrimp and menhaden fishermen, $250 million for milk subsidies, $500 million for wildfire suppression and $1.3 billion to build levees in New Orleans.

Altogether the House Democratic leadership has come up with more than $20 billion in new spending, much of it wasteful subsidies to agriculture or pork barrel projects aimed at individual members of Congress. At the tail of all of this logrolling and political bribery lies this stinger: Representatives who support the bill -- for whatever reason -- will be voting to require that all U.S. combat troops leave Iraq by August 2008, regardless of what happens during the next 17 months or whether U.S. commanders believe a pullout at that moment protects or endangers U.S. national security, not to mention the thousands of American trainers and Special Forces troops who would remain behind.

The Democrats claim to have a mandate from voters to reverse the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. Yet the leadership is ready to piece together the votes necessary to force a fateful turn in the war by using tactics usually dedicated to highway bills or the Army Corps of Engineers budget. The legislation pays more heed to a handful of peanut farmers than to the 24 million Iraqis who are living through a maelstrom initiated by the United States, the outcome of which could shape the future of the Middle East for decades.

Congress can and should play a major role in determining how and when the war ends. Political benchmarks for the Iraqi government are important, provided they are not unrealistic or inflexible. Even dates for troop withdrawals might be helpful, if they are cast as goals rather than requirements -- and if the timing derives from the needs of Iraq, not the U.S. election cycle. The Senate's version of the supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan contains nonbinding benchmarks and a withdrawal date that is a goal; that approach is more likely to win broad support and avoid a White House veto.

As it is, House Democrats are pressing a bill that has the endorsement of but excludes the judgment of the U.S. commanders who would have to execute the retreat the bill mandates. It would heap money on unneedy dairy farmers while provoking a constitutional fight with the White House that could block the funding to equip troops in the field. Democrats who want to force a withdrawal should vote against war appropriations. They should not seek to use pork to buy a majority for an unconditional retreat that the majority does not support.
Back to my chess game.

Now what Madame squeaker...ummm, sorry, speaker? What IS your next move? More importantly, what is your "opponents" next 3 moves?

Talk Left understands my point in this post, even though he hasn't read it... he understands that the Dems have been outmaneuvered consistently since the 2006 elections, although I would disagree with one point: I do not believe the Republicans nor Bush has had to do much, I personally believe that Pelosi gets so focused on "getting her way" she neglects to look at what the opponents next few moves will be and she ends up losing everytime she thinks she has won.

I will show you Talk Left's statement here, then I will list a couple of examples showing you what I mean.

Chris Bowers articulates his version:

The more I think about it, at least in the short term, both camps in the progressive side of this debate will actually get what they want. This bill will pass the House, but it will also never pass into law. Many anti-war activists don't want any more spending bills for Iraq to pass into law, and they want to start by defeating this one. When Republicans defeat this bill via Senate filibuster, or when Bush vetoes the bill, anti-war activists holding that position will get their wish, as this bill will be defeated. It will not be defeated in the way they want it to be defeated, but it will be defeated nonetheless. At the same time, those of us now favoring the bill will get what we wanted: headlines showing Democrats trying to end the war, but being thwarted by Republicans. Pelosi will look like a strong leader, and the Democratic caucus will look unified. In the short term, not only have Democrats won the politics of this fight, but there still won't be any more money to continue the Iraq war. We all won.

Actually, in the short term, I have always accepted this point, IF it played out that way. But it won't. What Chris does not realize is that the GOP and Bush are playing politics too. Indeed, on Iraq, Bush has so outmaneuvered Dems since the 2006 election that it is not even funny.

After the November elections, after the Iraq Study Group report, the idea of there NOT being some withdrawal plan was not even one that was seriously considered. Even Bush, everyone thought, including the GOP, would have to face political reality.

We all learned something different. Bush did not provide a withdrawal plan. Bush proposed an Escalation Plan!

Suddenly, we were not debating how fast to withdrawal. The debate became whether there should be an escalation. And after much fumbling and bumbling, the Senate and House made noises that meant nothing politically and policywise on the Surge.

See? Once again, some on the left still have brain cells left!!!

And so it goes with all of the Iraq initiatives. And it will be so with the Iraq supplemental. House Dems and the Netroots seem not to understand how this process has played out and will play out.

The very same pressures that forced the capitulation to the Blue Dogs will force further capitulations along the way starting with the Senate, IF a bill is to be approved. If the goal is to have Bush veto a bill then it was critical to start with as strong a bill as possible so that when the inevitable compromises were made along the way at least at the end Bush would need to veto. The bill, if it emerges, that Bush will see will be utterly toothless. To wit, he will not veto it and the Dems will have funded the Debacle.

This guy either plays chess or would be DAMNED good at it if he did. He knows what the next few moves are...something Nancy Pelosi doesn't "get" yet. She is sooooooo concerned about the short term and winning by hook or by crook a bill like this, she forgot or never knew how, to predict the "opponents" next 3 moves!!!!!!!!

Talk Left sees and understands the endgame:

That's all very nice Chris, but the "218, best we can get mantra" is now the baseline. Does anyone think you can retrace those steps? Pelosi went down that road. The Netroots went down that road. The Out of Iraq Caucus went down that road. The funding with next to no restrictions is a fait accompli now.


Is it any wonder why the approval ratings for congress is dropping back to, or below what it was when the Republicans were in control of the house? (Gallup link here)

In this game of chess, what is the opponents next move: The Senate.

The Senate can take a vote on this and with the Democrats very thin majority and considering Lieberman's vote will be against any timeline, no majority on this issue, the timeline will undoubtedly be removed in order for it to pass and even then with all the pork added, probably will not pass in the Senate.

Let us again "assume" that enough can be stripped from this bill to pass the Senate, one of two things can happen then.

Either everything that the President objects to is removed and he signs it, or the Senate leaves enough in this bill, manages to get it passed and the President vetoes it.... either way, the short term "victory" for Pelosi and crew is over.

Which brings us to the politics of this dubious bill, if it does not get through the Senate, it dies the death it should have in the house.

If it gets thruogh the Senate and the President vetoes it, then the Democrats will look at those that got them elected and say" we tried"...... will that be enough for the Democrats to keep their base happy?

Definitely not the anti-war, far left portion.

They will feel betrayed because the war will be funded and their elected officials allowed themselves to be bought with the pork that got them nowhere but this particular house vote.

From the MSNBC article "Pelosi on brink of big win with Iraq funding test", this little gem is hidden:

House members will be voting on the bill knowing that the deadline will almost surely be removed by the Senate when it votes on the measure next week.

The deadline was added into the houses version simply for the purpose of saying "we tried" as I pointed out before. Pelosi already knows it won't be kept in.

Once again this bill and its passage through the house was nothing more than a "political show" for their base.

Do they REALLY think their base is that stupid that they won't see through this trick and understand?

Some might be that stupid, but as I showed you from Talk Left... not all of them are.

Pelosi thinks that after the Senate kills the bill or strips it to get it to pass that she can just hold a news conference and blame the Republicans for "blocking" the full bill and her base will not hold her accountable.

She is wrong. She miscalculated the extent of the backlash that will come down after the next 3 moves have been made.

From Riehl World View:

Putting aside the dubious Constitutionality of the bill that may or may not be tested, it will need to survive the Senate and a possible veto first, is it really a victory when individuals who never voted to fund the war now vote for to fund it, knowing their rationale for doing so is going to be immediately stripped away?

That sounds like a victory for supporters of the war to me.

I am chuckling here because that is true. She has just given our military in Iraq the chance they needed to win and achieve victory and she has done it in a way that she hopes will allow her and the Democrats to "save face".

Politics and an ignorance of how this little chess game is played.

This one is going to bite her hard in the ass and once again, it will be done publicly.

I will keep updating this post with reactions from both sides of the aisle.

[Update with Reactions] Here is the roll call on who voted and how they voted.

As I promised here are some excerpts from the left side of the ailse on the passing of the Defeatists Bill on Iraq:

Starting with Donklephant:

The pork is the thing I have a problem with. Can’t we have a clean bill people?

I will say this, Americans don’t like this war. The majority are sick of being mired down in Iraq, they feel they’ve been misled and they’re essentially done. And perhaps we can agree that November was much more of a “mandate” than Bush’s second election victory. Sure, a slim majority, but it was a big FU to the POTU. And yes, I’m in favor of getting us out of there sooner rather than later. It’s time for them to work through the details and for us to focus stateside.

However, is this the best bill? Nope. Will it pass the Senate? Not a chance. They need 60 votes and that ain’t gonna happen. In fact, the Senate is already drawing up their own bill…

Donklephant DOES try to find an upside, although I consider it wishful thinking and decide.

I think the Senate measure is more realistic, but Dems have finally delivered on their promise of trying to get us out of Iraq. It has no chance of becoming law, but maybe that’s not the point…

I will agree to a point, maybe this becoming law isn't the point.

The point is: Theatrical politics that they know won't go anywhere but they are hoping those that elected them will give them "points" for trying.

Good luck with that!

From My Left Wing:

The idea that the progressives and the Netroots can now, turn on a dime and stop a weaker bill in the future is pretty much a pipe dream. Better to just concentrate on trying to execute the strategy Markos outlines. That accepts that the war will not end until after the 2008 election. And that is the consequence of the House Iraq supplemental. That's why I so vehemently opposed it.

There is a label that Democrats have worn for a long time that has been more damaging than all others - they don't stand for anything. They are spineless. Whether fair or not in this instance, come November 2008 on Iraq, that is the label that will be attached to them.


The label is attached because it is true.

My Left Wing ends thier post with this:

This is a disaster both policywise and politically for the Dems.

Which was my point about Pelosi not taking her opponents next 3 moves into account and simply working with a short term plan to pass this bill which is full of pork.

Reactions from the anti-war crowd is shown to us by the NYT:

As the voting began, two antiwar protestors stood in the gallery and implored lawmakers not to approve any more money for military operations in Iraq. “Don’t buy the war! Don’t buy the war!” one woman shouted again and again, until she was led away by police as the presiding officer of the House banged his gavel for order.

The CNN piece shows us hwat the political games are going to cost our troops, because of this measure the funding will now be slowed down until the a final measure that will not be vetoed is passed.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for Congress to pass a bill quickly, or the military would be forced to take severe stopgap measures because of a lack of funding.

Among those measures, Gates said, would be slowing deployment of replacement troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and extending the tours of units already there.

"This kind of disruption to key programs will have a genuinely adverse effect on the readiness of the Army and the quality of life for soldiers and their families," Gates said. "I urge the Congress to pass the supplemental as soon as possible."

Now Pelosi and crew have managed to ADD to the danger our troops are in with her little "show" bill that she knows will never make it to the President's desk as is, and will likely be vetoed even if it had a chance to make it past the senate.

The 218 to 212 vote shows that Congress does not have the votes to over ride a veto.

Oh wht a tangled web we weave, when the Dems practice to decieve......their voters.

[Update #2 or #3, depending on how you look at it...heh]

President Bush:

THE PRESIDENT: Today I'm joined here at the White House by veterans, family members of people serving in combat, family members of those who have sacrificed. I am honored that they have joined me here today.

Here in Washington, members of both parties recognize that our most solemn responsibility is to support our troops in the war on terror. Yet, today, a narrow majority in the House of Representatives abdicated its responsibility by passing a war spending bill that has no chance of becoming law, and brings us no closer to getting our troops the resources they need to do their job.

The purpose of the emergency war spending bill I requested was to provide our troops with vital funding. Instead, Democrats in the House, in an act of political theater, voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq. They set rigid restrictions that will require an army of lawyers to interpret. They set an arbitrary date for withdrawal without regard for conditions on the ground. And they tacked on billions for pet projects that have nothing to do with winning the war on terror. This bill has too much pork, too many conditions and an artificial timetable for withdrawal.

As I have made clear for weeks, I will veto it if it comes to my desk. And because the vote in the House was so close, it is clear that my veto would be sustained. Today's action in the House does only one thing: it delays the delivering of vital resources for our troops. A narrow majority has decided to take this course, just as General Petraeus and his troops are carrying out a new strategy to help the Iraqis secure their capital city.

Amid the real challenges in Iraq, we're beginning to see some signs of progress. Yet, to score political points, the Democratic majority in the House has shown it is willing to undermine the gains our troops are making on the ground.

Democrats want to make clear that they oppose the war in Iraq. They have made their point. For some, that is not enough. These Democrats believe that the longer they can delay funding for our troops, the more likely they are to force me to accept restrictions on our commanders, an artificial timetable for withdrawal, and their pet spending projects. This is not going to happen. Our men and women in uniform need these emergency war funds. The Secretary of Defense has warned that if Congress does not approve the emergency funding for our troops by April the 15th, our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions, and so would their families.

The Democrats have sent their message, now it's time to send their money. This is an important moment -- a decision for the new leaders in Congress. Our men in women in uniform should not have to worry that politicians in Washington will deny them the funds and the flexibility they need to win. Congress needs to send me a clean bill that I can sign without delay. I expect Congress to do its duty and to fund our troops, and so do the American people -- and so do the good men and women standing with me here today.

Thank you for your time.

See the Video over at Hot Air, they are also updating this as reactions come out.

[UPDATE #whatever] Wow, the Democrats and al-Qaeda are once again on some sort of sibling brain wavelength here. (Hat Tip to Gateway Pundit)

This is good timing...
Al Qaeda just released a video today claiming the U.S. military plans have failed in Iraq.

Don Surber has an excellent post called "Parliament of fools", it is a MUST READ.

Do not be alarmed. Today’s vote was a bone thrown to the boneheads at Kos and the rest of the Netroots crowd. I encourage Code Pink and the rest of the activists to celebrate — burn a soldier or two in effigy. Knock yourselves out.

I really like Don's view of things!!!

[Another Update] Our soldiers are starting to react to this:

A comment from 186 k per second:

MajorHavo: they are playing games with funding for the equipment I will have.
More from Major Havoc:

And so while I am worrying about what kind of equipment we'll have, the Democrats are adding pork to the defense bill - adding shit like subsidies for spinach farmers and the dairy industry.

From BlackFive Comment section:

SGT Ted: With support like this, who needs Aljazeera?

Updates will continue throughout the day.

This post was getting a little long, so part two with updated reactions from both sides of the ailse is here.