"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Tuesday, March 14, 2006 The New Politics: If you want to save 'em in Darfur, you've gotta kill 'em in Iraq
Had a great meeting yesterday with Michelle Bogdanovich, a staffer in Rep. Lacy Clay's office. I can't ever remember Clay voting in a way that didn't make me extremely proud to be in his district, so it was an easy meeting. But that doesn't mean I didn't learn some disturbing things.
I asked Michelle about humanitarian funding for Darfur and support of the African Union, and she said that the Congressman might have to vote against it. Not because he was against it, but because how it was being introduced.
It seems that yesterday Rep. Jerry Lewis of California's 41st introduced, on behalf of the Republicans in Congress, a supplemental appropriations bill yesterday -- HR4939. It includes some great stuff -- $253 million to sustain the African Union forces that are trying to hold the janjaweed at bay in Darfur and $66 million in humanitarian assistance in Darfur. It also includes $350 million in humanitarian food aid and a whopping $19.1 billion for hurricane relief in the Gulf Coast.
Fantastic, you say? Yeah ... well, except to get all these wonderful things you also have to vote for $67.9 billion in supplemental military spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Michelle sent me a summary of the bill that I can't find anywhere else, email me at MKinman at gmail (dot) com if you want me to forward it to you -- it's too long to put here).
The equation becomes simple. If you want to save 'em in Darfur, you've gotta kill 'em in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you want to rebuild the Gulf Coast, you've got to send more tanks into Baghdad.
The reasoning is clear. It isi getting more and more difficult for the president to get support in Congress for the war -- so he and Congressional Republicans have to attach the funding to things that are difficult to vote against -- like Katrina relief and help for Darfur. It's an end around.
This is offensive on at least two levels. The first is the obvious -- the obscenity of being made to support killing in order to help the dying. But the second is what really bothered Michelle even more. She said she'd been in Washington for 30 years and had never seen this kind of "by any means necessary" politics used to get agendas and funding across. Things like Darfur and military appropriations and hurricane relief should be voted on separately -- they are separate decisions -- and until recently they usually were. But not anymore.
And because the Democrats are the minority party, they don't have the votes to sustain a motion to separate -- which is the one thing that could right this wrong and give the Congress a fair shot at voting each one of these appropriations on their own merit.
Michelle told me all this because she had to let me know that she couldn't guarantee that Congressman Clay would vote for something as slam dunk as aid for Darfur -- something he ardently supports -- because he just as ardently opposes the war. He -- and all of us -- are forced into an ethical dilemna. An administration that claims to be steeped in prayer and Gospel has made us choose between Matthew 25 and Matthew 5
So as you're calling your senators today about the Santorum-Durbin amendment, place a call to your representatives and let them know that you think this stinks. Let them know that you think that things like war appropriations, hurricane relief and development/humanitarian assistance are separate and important issues that should be discussed and voted on separately.
Shenanigans like this are allowed to happen because nobody makes a fuss. And the people to make a fuss to are the people you put in office.
| Mike at 3/14/2006 09:57:00 AM
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"Christ's example is being
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which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
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it will be irrelevant."