07.01.2010 0

An open letter to Democrats

Update: The House will be voting on the War Supplemental bill today which includes a bailout for public sector unions. For more information on this bailout, please read Troops’ funding held hostage by public sector unions.

What happened? That’s the question rank-and-file Democrats ought to be asking themselves.

In the post-World War II era, the so-called Cold War consensus, a bipartisan approach to U.S. foreign policy against the spread of communism, was best embodied by the late Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s famous quote, “Politics stops at the water’s edge,” and also the career of Democrat Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, whose support for U.S. armed forces in harm’s way was unswerving.

Throughout the Korean struggle, and even Vietnam — the worst war in American history — Congress never failed to appropriate funds for American forces’ overseas during wartime. Whether one agreed or disagreed with the wisdom of these wars, what was beyond debate was Congress’ responsibility to fund and equip the troops.

Basically, the nation used to give the armed services everything they needed in the field, no question.

Although it is commonly thought that the “consensus” collapsed at the 1968 Chicago Democrat convention, even at the height of the anti-war movement against Vietnam, the war was fully funded until the Paris Treaty of 1973, which halted hostilities. It was not until after Richard Nixon’s August 1974 resignation that North Vietnam began its new offensive in earnest to capture the South, which it finally accomplished in 1975.

By the time President Gerald Ford had signed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 prior to the fall of Saigon, which defunded assistance to the South, it merely reflected the domestic political reality that America’s role in the war had ceased — but it had nothing to do with defunding our troops in harm’s way. Not even the strong contingent of anti-war Democrats in Congress failed to pass a funding measure while troops were actively engaged in fighting.

Not so today, where a $33 billion war supplemental is being held hostage by House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey. In the process, critical resources are being held back, and Defense Secretary Bob Gates warns that if the supplemental is not passed by July 4th, the Defense Department may be forced to begin furloughing civilians and being unable to pay active-duty military. General Petraeus has called the supplemental “essential for the conduct of this mission.”

The issue? Certainly not even a principled “power of the purse” stand against the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. No. This time, the issue is $10 billion in corrupt handouts to states like New York and California, which Obey and Barack Obama want to bail out through the war-funding measure. The $10 billion would go to unsustainable public education spending — directly keeping the teachers unions afloat.

At best, Obey’s move to attach the $10 billion bailout of the educrat industry to the war supplemental is a gross misuse of power — basically blackmailing our fighting forces — to keep “stimulus” money flowing. At his most cynical, Obey is doing so because he knows he needs that money to keep flowing into public union campaign coffers. So at worst, it’s a taxpayer down payment on the 2010 elections — for Democrats.

Either way, until Obama and Obey get what they want, funding for the troops in harm’s way in the form of the emergency war supplemental is in grave doubt. So radical are today’s Congressional Democrats that they are willing to have their obligation to fund our sons and daughters’ defense take a back seat to their desire to keep their political “stimulus” slush fund liquid.

So, the question is: What happened? What happened to the Democrat Party? Are they so enamored with the Hard Left that something so basic as supporting their own country’s troops in an ongoing battle has become secondary to catering to their favored political constituencies, in this case the public sector unions?

Are they so divorced from the lives of the American people as a Party that they would rather our soldiers, sailors, and airmen — who are risking their lives every day in patriotic service to their country — go without the Congressional support that has historically been beyond question? In 2007, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said, “Democrats will never cut off funding for our troops when they are in harm’s way”.

So, what happened? The lunatic fringe of the Democrat Party has taken over. In short, the inmates are running the asylum. So committed is the Party leadership to keeping the unions afloat that they’re willing to roll the dice.

This is not the only example of such overreach. In Wisconsin, Bucyrus International, Inc., which had hoped to sell $310 million of coal mining equipment Reliance Power, Ltd. of India, recently had a request for financing denied by the U.S. Export-Import Bank, putting about a thousand jobs at risk.

The reason? Not that they didn’t have the money to lend, or that either company was a credit risk. No. The bank denied the request because the mining equipment would be used to extract fuel for a coal power plant in Madhya Pradesh, India, creating carbon emissions thought to contribute to “man-made” global warming. Said the Bank’s Chairman, Fred Hochberg, “President Obama has made clear this administration’s commitment to transition away from high-carbon investments and toward a cleaner energy future.”

So committed to the religious dogma of radical environmentalism is the Hard Left, they are willing to sacrifice a thousand American jobs rather than allow India to pursue its own energy policy or an American company to do business there.

Another example is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision blocking the use of so-called superskimmers in the Gulf oil spill disaster. Tremendous Dutch skimming vessels could be sucking the oil, filtering it, and returning the cleaned water. According to Weird Koops, the chairman of Spill Response Group Holland, “Our system can handle 400 cubic metres per hour.” According to the Financial Post, that “[gives] each Dutch ship more cleanup capacity than all the ships that the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill.” They have been awaiting approval since April 20th,

The Taiwanese-owned “A Whale” skimmer too has the capability to collect up to 500,000 barrels of oil water a day. The vessel, more than three football fields long and ten stories high, could help collect much of the oil from the spill prior to reaching the shore.

So, what’s the hold up? EPA approval is required because some of the seawater returned to the Gulf would still have some percent of oil being returned. According to the Post, “Nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985 percent pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.”

So, the Hard Left would rather have all of the oil hit the shores Louisiana, Florida, and other Gulf states rather than remove nearly all of it before it ever gets there. The clock is ticking, as it has been more than seventy days since the spill began. How much oil will hit the shores that could have been collected by the superskimmers? Why hasn’t Barack Obama rescinded or waived the EPA regulations via executive order?

I could go on, but these examples suffice to demonstrate that the Democrat Party — and the Hard Left which runs it — is more committed to the fulfillment of a deranged ideology than to protecting obvious American interests and even acting on basic common sense.

There’s plenty of room in our Republic for honest disagreement. But not when it comes to giving basic resources to our fighting men and women at war. Not when it comes to the government sacrificing jobs on the altar of some zealous, Luddite cult. Not when it comes to the government blocking the cleanup of the worst oil spill in American history.

2010 marks a turning point for America, and for rank-and-file Democrats nationwide. It’s time for them to wake up to a terrible truth — that the Democrat Party is acting directly against the benefit of their fellow countrymen. Leadership in consequential times has been replaced by rantings and ravings of a lunatic fringe that has taken control not just of the Party, but of the country.

The question is: Do regular Democrats allow themselves to be governed by these radical forces? Or will they overthrow them politically through the primary process and elections? Where are the Scoop Jacksons now, willing to buck these radical elements?

Will they take back their Party? Americans can only pray that the sane, rational Democrats choose to wake up and retake control. For, we will all be living with the choice they make. And history will not judge kindly those who capitulated at this critical moment in the Republic.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

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