Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Power of the Purse

A mixed bag this morning, Bush. I guess we're all kind of waiting for that other shoe to drop when you give your much heralded speech about Iraq tomorrow night.

I see Senator Edward Kennedy on the television this morning promising a resolution to deny funding for your surge. The intention, as I understand it, is not to cut funds for the troops already in the war zone, but to prevent you from escalating the conflict by sending more. It's a fine distinction. Obviously, from the purely practical point of view, the Democrats would have much to risk in a blanket denial of funds for the war, no matter how terrible the mess you have created there; but to act now to prevent that escalation we hear you're planning to tell us about tomorrow night seems like simple common sense. As Kennedy points out, his resolution does no more than give congressional backing to what a significant number of the military brass have been recommending.

At the same time, despite the violence which I deeply abhor, I find it hard to fault the American attack on an Al Qaeda hideout in Somalia which I also heard about this morning. Assuming the intelligence provided by the Ethiopian troops on the ground to have been accurate, this is precisely the way your war on terrorism should be fought--small, isolated, well targeted actions, insofar as possible away from possible harm to civilian populations, designed to incapacitate those plotting acts of terror in pursuit of their fanatical agenda.

On another front, I'm happy to hear that our Republican Governor here in California is planning an assault on the problem of universal health care insurance in this state. It's past time for us to address this basic humanitarian issue. We should be ashamed, as a country, that we have done nothing at the national level to assure this security for our citizens--the only advanced nation in the world to lack a government-backed health care system and to foster instead the waste and profiteering that result from our private insurance systems. I trust that the Democrats now elected to represent us in Washington will make it their business to revisit this issue which has been all but ignored since the Clintons failed effort in the1990s.

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