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November 19, 2005

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» War Opposition from Addams to Murtha from This Is Not News
The political news this weekend is probably the firestorm around Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania calling for a redeployment of the troops in Iraq. Murtha may be from my home state, but he’s from the western side of the commonwealt... [Read More]

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Jeez. Even us old farts can learn something new. Thanks. I totally missed that "nuance." Now let's see how right you are about how many of the punditocrats miss it.

I saw Erin Billings of Roll Call miss it yesterday on C-SPAN. She even managed to miss the language differences, saying the GOP resolution "essentially mirrored the Murtha resolution," which is truly stunning. I mean, there's no other beat for Roll Call. If you can't understand procedure -- or even be bothered to read the bills, for that matter -- what hope has a regular reporter got for informing people accurately?

Hmm. You're clever, Mr. Kangaroo. If you didn't have such a style-less name, you might go somewhere...

I'm thinking of changing it to Kagro Hitler. Grabs the eye, I think.

Thanks for the dose of clarity. Also note the numbers. I'm completely ignorant, but I assume 571 vs. 73 means HRs are far more common than HJRs.

Seems like maybe Dems could have some fun with some of the HRs that have been offered up by the Republicans in recent years.

More seriously, the Murtha resolution just might resonate in a way that the Beltway crowd can't see. There's something severely clear-sighted about it. HR 571 was a terrible blunder. It drew attention to HJR 73 in a way that the Dems could never have done on their own. I predict we'll still be talking about HJR 73 ten months from now. When it matters.

the GOP resolution "essentially mirrored the Murtha resolution," ......If you can't understand procedure -- or even be bothered to read the bills, for that matter -- what hope has a regular reporter got for informing people accurately?

Ah, you see, Kaygro X, with Today's Busy Lifestyle™, we don't have time for fine distinctions like that. We need 'handles'. So, two completely different bills 'essentially' mirrored each other, just as democrats saying the pres mishandled the war is the same as repubs calling dems (including vets) 'cowards' and 'traitors' - they're both name-calling!. They're 'essentially' the same thing! See?

jonny, it's a profoundly stupid bug in the software, but for some dumb reason, if you forget to close your html tags (like you did in your 20:07 comment), whatever you did--italics, bold, etc--will apply to the entire site.

I think I put your tags in the right place; if not, sorry, but I just wanted to make sure the entire site wasn't in italics.

I think you're right, rasmus. It definitely drew added attention. But along with the added attention comes increased confusion about Murtha's intent, and of course, the widespread belief that it was in fact the Murtha amendment so resoundingly defeated last night.

One note, however: As convenient as it may seem to abbreviate the bill designations as you did, shortening "H. Res." to "HR" will cause some serious confusion. Most legislation introduced in the House is designated "H.R. 123," for House of Representatives. Senate bills are designated "S. 123." Resolutions are therefore abbreviated as "Res." -- either "H. Res." or "S. Res."

Just to add to everyone's confusion, there are Resolutions, Joint Resolutions, and Concurrent Resolutions, which means that the full catalog of designations for bills includes: S. 123; H.R. 123; S. Res. 123; H. Res. 123; S.J. Res. 123; H.J. Res. 123; S. Con. Res. 123, and; H. Con. Res. 123.

Bills are numbered in the order introduced in their respective houses, but only with respect to bills of the same type. So the first H. Con. Res. introduced in the House will be H. Con. Res. 1, even though there has already been an H. Res. 1 which was introduced months earlier. That means you have to be perfectly clear on what you're looking for if you're searching for a bill in a database. If you're looking for H. Con. Res. 1 and think you've found it when you find H. Res. 1, you're going to be on the wrong track.

Thanks!

My reaction to H.J. Res 73 is that the strategy it outlines is a good one. It will appeal to career military men, and as a result it will be hard to dismiss over the long run.

The thing about Vietnam is that we never found a strategy that worked. The basic idea was to set up a friendly government and train a military to keep it in power. The myth is that we failed because we didn't stay the course. [That's Bush's gospel in Iraq, and that's how he got re-elected.] The reality was that the problem wasn't with the military, however well we might have been able to train and equip them, the problem was with the government. It wasn't legitimate. When Buddhist monks start setting themselves on fire, that's a real problem. [And no, I don't see any parallel between that and the suicide bombers like the reviewer of Thich Nhat Hanh's new book in Salon did.]

The lesson is that the U.S. military can't create a legitimate government. That has to happen on its own. Maybe the U.N. can do it, but we can't. And the U.N. can't do it until we are no longer a target. So the sooner we withdraw, the sooner we will have real targets to shoot at. Murtha's quick reaction force can be big, with real teeth. The problem with Bush and Cheney is that they don't want to put American troops in harm's way. The idea that, say, large numbers of U.S. soldiers might die in a single day taking down some Baathist stronghold scares them--think Tora Bora--and they know their rationale for war in Iraq can't stand up to that kind of scrutiny. Murtha isn't afraid to do that. He doesn't care how we got into this mess. The point is that we're in it now, and we need an exit strategy without the humiliation that we experienced in Vietnam. We need to find a way to succeed. Kerry's strategy of "sector by sector" pacification sounds nice, but it doesn't solve the government's legitmacy problem. Murtha's is a master stroke. We pull back and wait for the enemy to emerge. When they do, and they will, then we kick the crap out of them. It's just a matter of time.

for some dumb reason, if you forget to close your html tags (like you did in your 20:07 comment), whatever you did--italics, bold, etc--will apply to the entire site.

I think I was the culprit one the other time, too. Sorry. Now we know that you can just close the tag in another comment, like I did above. I'm a Contributing Bug.

Agree with both rasmus and Mr X that the theatre in the House last night was a moment of 'severely clear sight' (great way to put it). Searing clarity. Maybe Yglesias is correct to call the bill-stunt a 'decent' (tactically) measure for at least somewhat limiting the political damage, but I'm not so sure it's not a wash on the resolutions themselves.

along with the added attention comes increased confusion about Murtha's intent, and of course, the widespread belief that it was in fact the Murtha amendment so resoundingly defeated last night.

If you watched that debate last night, which I know hardly anybody did, percentage-wise, there was no doubt who won. Murtha was very compelling. And he explicitly said at one point that he was just trying to bring the issue 'to a head'. He was saying, basically, 'we have to be congress now. Snap out of it!' I don't think there's as much confusion about his intent in the country as you might think from imbibing the MSM. 'Regular' people are as alienated from the MSM as us blog-types, and we overlap, in fact! Das Murtha wrote a resolution and spoke out. His point of departure is 'bring them home immediately'. So what? He's a 30 vet of the house. Opening position. The story isn't his resolution (the repubs tried to make it that, crudely), it's his critique. He won the night in that fetid, hallowed chamber, for whatever that's ultimately worth. It's hard to quantify a metaphorical pressure drop like this. Murtha measured it, though, joyously.

The relationship of congress to the executive branch in recent years has been like that of consumer to corporation. The corporation issues orders and tells you only what they decide you need to know, and that's that. They're a 'dynamic' corporation, after all, with a 'hot' CEO, and you're just a shambling, unkempt, cranky, grizzled, gravel voiced, creaky old institution (see? the government is the enemy). I'm sure Murtha is not alone in hating that relationship as construed.

The beauty part is that Murtha clearly doesn't give a shit what 'happens' to him. It was a special moment, that fight last night. You just can't hate Murtha. He was called cowardly on the house floor, and immediately thereafter, he was laughing and cajoling and complimenting his republican friends. Taking it all totally in stride. You could almost hear him say, 'Let's us go get together and have a shot of bourbon and talk about it'. It was a blowout, a tour de force. Like the arcane designations Mr X has thoughtfully provided for us (thank you), there are many levels of affront in congress, and the gop has managed them pretty effectively (their price for that is being the party of fin de cycle. Great going guys. Totally worth it!).

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What was priceless, I thought, is that the Republicans did this to try to put the Democrats on the spot. They would have succeeded in creating dissention in the Democratic ranks if they had used the text of Murtha's resolution, but by rewriting it they made it into a sham and therefore the Dems, including Murtha, could vote against it with no problem.
Of course, if they had used Murtha's wording, there was always the risk that it could have passed.... and I wish it had. Someday it will.

jonnyb,

My first reaction was like yours, that it's an opening gambit, a starting point for a negotiation. But I no longer think that. I think it's a real strategy. I don't think Murtha was playing politics with that aspect of it. I think the military people will see it as a legitimate possibility. It's not as crazy as it sounds at first.

The beauty of it politically is that a year from now "immediately" will still mean exactly that!

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