Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The most important issue facing Congress this year

and the one that arguably fueled last November's midterm electoral outcome, is the very issue that Congress will least likely touch: the Iraq War Debacle. There are some folks left who will to try to keep 'em honest, however:

House Democrats tried to unveil their lobbying reform package today, but their press conference was drowned out by chants from anti-war activists who want Congress to stop funding the Iraq war before taking on other issues.

Led by Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a slain soldier, the protesters chanted "De-escalate, investigate, troops home now" as Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., began outlining the Democrats' plans to ban lobbyist-funded travel and institute other ethics reforms. The press conference was held in the Cannon House Office Building in an area open to the public.

Emanuel finally gave up trying to be heard over the chants, and retreated to a caucus room where Democrats were meeting.

Sheehan says she has nothing against lobbying reform, but she and her fellow anti-war activists want Democrats to know they will keep pressuring Congress to end the war in Iraq.

"We wanted the Democrats to know they're back in power because of the grass roots," Sheehan says.

The anti-war activists held their own Capitol Hill press conference earlier in the day before deciding to attend the lobbying reform press conference as well.

Before the chanting started, Sheehan got a hug from Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

I wouldn't be too surprised to see the 110th Congress focus on the "easy" issues, as the more sticky issues such as how to pull a breaking military out of quicksand are ones with no clearly "pleasant" outcome (at least as defined by those still buying into the dogma of American Exceptionalism). Of course "shrinking the mission" would be one sensible thing that this government could do, as I'm guessing that all the borrowed money in the world isn't going to salvage the current government's imperial dreams over the long haul (or even the short-to-medium haul for that matter). Instead, we'll see a continued incongruence between the behaviors of the ruling elites and the wishes of large proportions of the voters and a lot of jockeying for the next election cycle. Regardless of what congressional leaders avow as their positions on the likely Bu$hCo-approved escalation of war in Iraq (and surround nations), likely little will get done, including a refusal to continue rubber-stamping the funds required to keep the war going (that would require more gumption than I would give congressional leaders of either of the two officially sanctioned parties credit for).

The blood that gets spilled in the interim? Well, perhaps no one will notice.

Tip o' the hat to Arthur Gilroy.

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