Thursday, October 16, 2003

National priorities?

We should all be grateful for organizations like the National Priority Project for revealing some amazing - and frightening - statistics about how much the $87 billion Iraq costs you: ["The Cost of War for States and Selected Cities"]. The state of Massachusetts' share for this? $2.6 billion. The state of New Hampshire's share for this? $388 million. Couldn't we use that money at home?

So, where is all this money going? Well, look for yourself: ["Supplemental Budget"]. Most of the money will go to keep our troops in harms way instead of bringing them home. As much as $20 billion of this money to fix all the things our military blew up, like the electrical grid in Iraq.
However, there are other things that are completely outrageous, like $100 million to restore wetlands. What the hell are we doing restoring their wetlands?
And let's not forget this: ["Here and there"]. The fact is that someone is ripping off the government - especially when we start paying twice as much for a pickup truck for Iraq that a normal person could buy at even the most expensive dealership!
Where are our priorities? Why are we spending this money in the desert? As John Kerry has been saying, we are closing fire stations in America and building them in Iraq! What is going on here? This is insane.

Where do the candidates stand?
I found out earlier today that Dick Gephardt said he would vote for the package.
"I will support the $87 billion supplemental request because it is the only responsible course of action. We must not send an ambiguous message to our troops and we must not send an uncertain message to our friends and enemies in Iraq.
We cannot leave Iraq like we did Afghanistan in the 1980s to become a breeding ground for terrorism and home for terrorist training camps. It is critical that the United States and the world succeed in this effort and bring our operations in Iraq to a successful conclusion. I will continue to be critical of the president’s inability and unwillingness to take the necessary steps to bring our allies, the UN and NATO on board as full partners in our efforts in Iraq. It is costing us a billion dollars a week, and we are paying too high a cost in the mounting casualties and injuries to our soldiers. We are simply incapable of doing this alone. I will continue to urge the president to get a better plan and to get the world involved in this effort."

I admit, I was toying with the idea of voting for Gephardt. I got to see him at one of the events in New Hampshire and he has impressed in the debates. I also looked at how the Democratic primaries are stacked up and the sea of southern and Midwestern red states won by Bush in 2000. I really think he has a good chance of beating Bush. I even began to tell myself to look the other way on his vote to support Bush's invasion of Iraq.
However, this $87 billion "reconstruction" program stinks of graft, corruption, greed, waste, and fraud. No sensible person can look at a good chunk of this package and vote for it. Support the troops? Well, okay, but they should be home. But surely no true "leader" would vote for this. Very disappointing.
The others?
Well, Joe Lieberman is for it, but we expected that.
Howard Dean is kinda flip-flopping on the issue. During the debate in Arizona, he told Dennis Kucinich he would vote for it. But in the San Mateo County Times, he said he wouldn't unless the money comes from the Bush tax cut: ["Democratic presidential candidates differ on upcoming vote for $87 billion for Iraq"]. So, that's a yes. So much for the "anti-war candidate."
Kucinich, John Edwards, and John Kerry will not vote for it.
"I am voting 'no' on the Iraq resolution to hold the President accountable and force him finally to develop a real plan that secures the safety of our troops and stabilizes Iraq," said Kerry in a press email. "It is clear to me that President Bush is not going to change direction unless someone stands up to him and says no," Edwards told the Los Angeles Times ["Edwards Opposes Bush's Request for $87 Billion"].

Kucinich followed up with Edwards and Kerry, calling on them to work with him to bring the troops home.
"Now that we're challenging the continued occupation of Iraq, it's time for Democratic leaders to put forward an exit strategy," Kucinich said in an emailed press release.

It's also safe to say that the Rev. Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun would probably vote against it too. Wesley Clark said:
"I'm not ready to say I support that. Absolutely not."