[crossposted at DailyKos, w/some intresting comments]
I, rep. Edward Markey, pledge to vote against the supplemental spending measure that President Bush will seek in 2007 from Congress to fund the war in and occupation of Iraq. I will take leadership in getting other Representatives to also vote against the supplemental.These solemn words, as recorded on the front page of the Woburn [MA] Daily Times Chronicle, highlight a most important tactic in the uphill battle to stop the $93 billion "emergency appropriation" Bush wants Congress to pony up so he can continue the war in Iraq. Markey's pledge was wrested by a two-day occupation of his office, spearheaded by the Smedley Butler Brigade of Veterans For Peace. Nate Goldshlag of VFP says Senator John Kerry is next!
Similarly, Representative Lacy Clay (D-MO) told an assertive audience in St. Louis last week
that he would continue to vote against escalation of troops and “against additional funding.”This diary will update my overview from earlier this month, "Wave of Congressional Office Occupations Builds, Below the Radar." It will highlight some of the particular battles, talk about the inadvertent role MoveOn .com is playing in the campaign, and try to set everything in the context of the upcoming Congressional appropriations battle and the anti-war movement today.
According to the Update page at the website of the Occupation Project, the group at the center of the ongoing wave of seizures of Congressional offices, last week saw at least four actions resulting in the arrest of protesters (which means the Smedley Butler crew don't even make the cut for this unofficial list).
Portland--Senator Tom Allen (D-ME): 13 arrested
“We need to ratchet things up a bit,” said protester Phil Weyenberg of Old Orchard Beach. He said the campaign reflects a tactical shift for activists frustrated by a Democratic Congress unwilling to cut funding for the Iraq war.Denver--Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO): 7 arrested
Now known as the Salazar sevenToledo--Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH): 4 arrested
Klein, a truck driver, said he was willing to be arrested because he believes in the group’s message.Fairbanks--Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK): 2 arrested, 1 cited
“Cut the funding and end the war,” he said. “Not cut it down lower, but cut it off. That will force them to bring the troops home.”
Senator Steven’s staff worker in the Fairbanks office assured the nine peace activists occupying the office that their efforts were worthless. “The Senator’s aide told us that our action wouldn’t do any good,” said Rob Mulford, “but when we were locked up I knew we’d done something good because a woman jailer spotted us in our cells and she said, ‘Oh! You guys are my heroes!’”There are all kinds of other lobbying efforts going on simultaneously, from the deadly serious push by Military Families Speak Out to MoveOn.org's online "Virtual March." I focus on these seizures for several reasons:
- they are the most dramatic form in which the demand to cut off funds to the occupation is being presented;
- despite good local coverage in most cases, they are being ignored in the national mainstream media;
- they reflect a growing sense that the anti-war movement has to amp up the struggle in these difficult times:
- and most of all, because they are changing the terrain on which the whole broader lobbying effort is taking place.
Oklahoma City saw an even more startling incident last week. As blogged here, a group organized by MoveOn.org, went to the office of Representative Mary Fallin (D-OK) to deliver letters demanding she take a stand against the escalation, not even the war as a whole.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A group opposed to the war in Iraq on Thursday was ordered to leave the building where Rep. Mary Fallin's office is located after members delivered protest letters opposing President George W. Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq.In the comments responding to that post, a Kossack whose nom du blog is FeelingsickinMN, reported that there's a crew of MoveOn.org members who occupy the office of Betty McCollum (D-MN) every Tuesday! It's not, he says, an official MoveOn.org operation. No kidding. McCollum speaks fiercely against the occupation, but they want to hold her feet to the fire to defund:
The object of our being in her office Tuesday after Tuesday is to demonstrate that we are not going to settle for less than a quick end to the war. Ms. McCollum's view is that cutting off the funding right now would put a lot of Dem House seats in jeopardy in '08 and that the most important element in getting out of Iraq is keeping Dems in elective office.And there's the problem of the day in a nutshell! Last week I analyzed Representative John Murtha's plan (formally) to block escalation and (actually) to gradually end the war through attaching stringent conditions to the emergency appropriation that Bush is requesting. This approach would also give Democratic pols cover to resist the growing pressure coming up from the people of this country and lensed by the anti-war movement to flat-out stop funding this murderous fiasco. It posed some real challenges to the anti-war movement.
What I thought was pessimism appears, it turns out, to have been channelling Pollyanna. The Congressional Democrats are responding to Murtha's lifeline, carefully framed as a series of measures in defense of the troops, as stupidly and as short-sightedly as Bush did when offered the Iraq Study Group's proposal as covering fire to help him shuffle toward the exits. As reported in the Washington Post, the Murtha plan is being attacked as "a non-starter" that will undercut the troops. Attacked, mind you, by his fellow Democrats, some of whom have joined the Republicans in vowing to pass the emergency appropriation without any conditions.
Meanwhile too many "lefter" Dems, like McCollum have rallied around Murtha's plan and dropped their opposition to the appropriation. Even Ed Markey started tap-dancing the day after he signed his pledge to the veterans who seized his office.
What does this mean? In theoretical terms, I'd argue that it means that the ruling class in this country is still trapped in a box. They cannot afford to leave Iraq and they cannot afford to stay in Iraq. They are paralyzed and have found no satisfactory solution to their problems. Unless and until somebody convinces enough of them that their only choice is to cut their losses, that paralysis in going to be reflected in Congress.
In practical terms it means the anti-war movement has its work cut out for it. On the good foot, it's gonna be harder for some "moderates" to use the Murtha bill to split the anti-war movement and try to remove the "Now" from slogans like "Bring Them Home Now!" Overall, though, we need to figure out how to mobilize through the dismay and disheartenment many will feel if Bush gets his $93 billion, even with some strings attached. We need to come up with a strategic approach that can mobilize more of the huge reservoir of mass sentiment for ending the war and can take advantage of the freedom of moveement the enemy's paralysis gives us.
Some argue that impeachment should be the main thing we do now. I say: Iraq Moratorium. What say you, dear reader? Read more!