House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is sponsoring a $124.1-billion appropriations bull that will vote funding of the Iraq war while also attaching spending for drought relief, hurricane rebuilding, and other measures, combined with the proviso that all U.S. combat troops must be out of Iraq by Sept. 1, 2008, Reuters reported Wednesday. -- Commenting on Wednesday on MoveOn's attempt to use a "poll" of its members to generate support of the bill, John Stauber, the founder (1993) and current executive director of the Center for Media & Democracy, accused MoveOn on engaging in cynical "let them bleed" politics that will prolong the Iraq war in a way that Democrats can benefit from electorally in 2008. -- The poll was inappropriately presented to members, he argues, and insignificant in its results, since "96% of MoveOn's 3.2 million members did not even bother to vote in their member survey." -- "The biased 'poll' that MoveOn emailed to its 3.2 million subscribers reads like a Soviet ballot," Stauber wrote. -- "Many liberal strategists inside the Beltway believe that what the House leadership is doing is smart and practical politics. In fact, this is back room power politics of the worst sort. . . . The American people deserve leadership and honesty from their political representatives and from groups that claim to be representing them. A choice between Republican or Democratic gamesmanship on Iraq is no choice at all when it allows the dying and suffering of tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to go on, all for some campaign leverage down the road in 2008. As confused as the American public has been by the Bush propaganda that sold the war, and the failure of the mainstream media to confront and expose it, there is now a solid majority of Americans who want the U.S. out now or in the very immediate future. They are not being served by partisan gamesmanship, nor is their country." ...
U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRATS SEE IRAQ WITHDRAWAL BILL WIN
By Richard Cowan
March 21, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Democratic leaders on Wednesday predicted the U.S. House of Representatives will pass a war-funding bill that sets a strict timetable for withdrawing American combat troops from Iraq, after struggling to round up sufficient votes.
"We're going to go this week," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "We'll have 218 (votes)," Emanuel said.
Loading up the bill with funds for drought relief, hurricane rebuilding, and other measures, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and her Democratic lieutenants have worked to clinch the necessary votes -- 218 of the House's 435 members -- to pass a $124.1 billion bill that mostly funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year.
President George W. Bush wants the money to keep U.S. forces in Iraq in an effort to stabilize it. Democrats have made the spending bill the focus of their efforts to end the conflict that has entered its fifth year with more than 3,200 U.S. troops killed and more than 20,000 wounded.
But Democrats have been split, with liberals calling for a quicker withdrawal date than the bill sets and moderates worried they could be depicted as undermining U.S. troops by putting strings on the war-fighting funds.
Under the Democrats' bill, all U.S. combat troops would have to be out of Iraq by Sept. 1, 2008, a provision the White House says would prompt a veto from Bush.
Democrats, already anticipating that veto, are eyeing other bills coming up this year to attach similar language while building pressure for an end to the war.
Backing Bush, House Republicans said they were united against the Democrats' war funds bill. "There is only one way to do the right thing for our troops and for the safety and security of future generations of Americans," said House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio, who called for a war-funding bill "with no strings attached."
Some liberal Democrats have announced they would support Pelosi's bill even though they want an earlier troop pullout, letting Democratic leaders claim momentum going into the vote.
Rep. James Moran, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the House Appropriations panel that oversees defense spending, said the vote "is really the first big test of whether we can pull together the left and the right (of the Democratic Party). It is a test of our leadership."
But indicative of how close the vote could be, Pelosi summoned former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to Capitol Hill to appeal to Democrats to vote for the war-funding bill with a timetable for troop withdrawal.
On Tuesday, Brzezinski, who served in President Jimmy Carter's administration, said the Democrats' war-funding bill "provides what has been lacking: a means to hold the Iraqi government accountable for its performance by conditioning U.S. support to the meeting of benchmarks already endorsed by President Bush and Iraqi leaders."
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a New Hampshire Democrat newly elected in November on an anti-war platform, told reporters she will vote for the bill because it sets a date for withdrawal.
"If you want to support the troops, you need to get them out. This has a date, so I'm comfortable with this," she said.
Asked if she heard "murmuring" back home from war opponents in her district, Shea-Porter responded, "No murmuring, just screaming," from constituents who she said were shocked she would vote for any measure that continues to fund the war.
(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell)
96% OF MOVEON MEMBERS DID NOT SHOW SUPPORT FOR THE PELOSI BILL
By John Stauber
Center for Media and Democracy
March 21, 2007
On Sunday, March 18, Sheldon Rampton and I wrote "Iraq: Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?" an article now widely circulated online. It has helped to focus debate on whether the Democratic Party is really attempting to end the war in Iraq, or is content to simply manage the war for supposed electoral advantage in 2008.
The liberal advocacy group MoveOn has 3.2 million members. Yesterday MoveOn misleadingly claimed that the results from their recent member survey showed overwhelming support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill on Iraq. "The results are in from our poll on whether to support Speaker Pelosi's proposal on Iraq: 84.6% of MoveOn members voted to support the bill," according to MoveOn. However, this claim flunks the smell test and is far from accurate.
MoveOn is engaging in that oldest of PR games known as 'lies, damned lies, and statistics." The truth is that 96% of MoveOn's 3.2 million members did not even bother to vote in their member survey. Most of MoveOn's members probably ignored and failed to open the email, since nothing in the subject line indicated it was particularly important. MoveOn claims that slightly over 126,000 people voted in what I pointed out to them was a very biased pro-Pelosi poll. The MoveOn question essentially provided a choice of Pelosi and peace (Yes), or Republicans and war (No). Gee, guess how that one gets answered?
The real news is that 96% of MoveOn's huge list did not vote with them to support the Pelosi bill. When MoveOn says 84.6% of their members chose Pelosi's bill, they mean 84.6% of the measly four percent of their members who bothered to open their email and respond. A polling of members in which 96% do not vote is no polling at all. Unfortunately MoveOn, while claiming to represent their overwhelmingly anti-war membership, is being unaccountable and anti-democratic.
An article in Politico.com makes clear the crucial role MoveOn has played by supporting the Democratic leadership over the large caucus of pro-peace progressive Democrats. Here's a description of how the MoveOn survey was used inside the Capitol: "A jovial Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger went up to fellow Maryland Rep. Albert Wynn as he sat off the floor with a reporter and told Wynn that a vote against the bill was a vote for Republican victory. He waved a copy of the MoveOn.org press release backing the measure. 'Have you seen this?' Ruppersberger asked. 'Yeah, who did that?' replied Wynn, a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus."
The biased "poll" that MoveOn emailed to its 3.2 million subscribers reads like a Soviet ballot. Many liberal strategists inside the Beltway believe that what the House leadership is doing is smart and practical politics. In fact, this is back room power politics of the worst sort, a cynical 'Let It Bleed' strategy that abandons efforts to halt the war and is geared toward getting Democrats elected in 2008 by blaming the continuing quagmire of the Iraq occupation on the Republicans.
The American people deserve leadership and honesty from their political representatives and from groups that claim to be representing them. A choice between Republican or Democratic gamesmanship on Iraq is no choice at all when it allows the dying and suffering of tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to go on, all for some campaign leverage down the road in 2008. As confused as the American public has been by the Bush propaganda that sold the war, and the failure of the mainstream media to confront and expose it, there is now a solid majority of Americans who want the U.S. out now or in the very immediate future. They are not being served by partisan gamesmanship, nor is their country.