so i was reading the new york times on the train down to dc, and the more i read about the senate passing the continued war funding bill, the more my blood boiled. now, maybe it’s shameless idealism that comes from watching and entire season of west wing in less than a week, but there are so many things about this bill that just seem patently wrong. first of, though they were entirely separate pieces of legislation in the house of representatives, somehow the minimum wage increase got folded into the bill to continue military funding to afghanistan and iraq through the summer. so in order to support the $2.10 minimum wage increase over two years (with its attendant $4.84 billion in tax cuts to small businesses), senators also had to vote for a $100 billion continuation of military funding in afghanistan and iraq.

of the 14 democrats that voted against this bill, three were presidential hopefuls senators clinton, obama, and dodd (senator biden voted for it). one can only assume that they voted against the minimum wage increase in order to vote against continued funding of the war (especially since clinton is trying to reconcile voting for the war in 2002 with her current anti-war position). but i have to feel that neither proposal was accurately voted on, because to vote against military spending was also to vote against increasing the minimum wage; in fact, speaker pelosi, who spearheaded the minimum wage increase in the house, voted against the war funding in the house, and couldn’t continue her support of the minimum wage increase in the senate because the two proposals had been bundled into one bill. and i’d like to think that republicans who voted for the war funding will catch some flak from big business and their lobbies for supporting a minimum wage increase, though i’m sure the small business tax cuts will offset this reaction considerably.

but perhaps most disappointing part of this bill is the complete disappearance of any real checks or accountability to put an end to our presence in iraq, though such provisions were in the bill passed by the house. it appears that the negotiations were all about spin and political positioning, though: “like it or not, we ran out of options. there has never been a chance of a snowball in hades that congress would cut off those funds to those troops in the field” said representative david r.obey (d-wi), chairman of the house appropriations committee.

the usual right-wing rhetoric, condemning democrats of neglecting and abandoning our troops and wanting to surrender, was countered by some intelligent and inspired statements from democrats, and i want to give them a shout out. “it’s wrong for congress to continue to defer to a presidential decision that we know is fatally flawed. it’s wrong to abdicate our responsibility by allowing this war to drag on and on while our casualties mount higher and higher” said senator edward m. kennedy (d-ma). even senator clinton got it right: “the president has resisted every effort by not just the political process, but by independent experts like the iraq study group, to change course, and enough is enough.”

i’m going to try to buy and read the times every day while i’m here in dc, because i feel like i don’t get worked up enough when i read the news online, so there may be more rants like this. sorry.