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The Gift In George's Stocking

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Message Larry Sakin
At the beginning of December, First Lady Laura Bush had the interior of the White House decorated in a prototypical Christmas theme, complete with stockings on the fireplace mantel in the Oval Office. At the same time, her husband submitted a gift list to the Santa Claus' in Congress, hoping his request for $100 billion more in emergency funding for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would find its way into his stocking this year.

This is in addition to the unprecedented $477 billion dollars already appropriated for the Pentagon this year for the wars, and a cheery $70 billion from the 2006 budget that went into effect this last fiscal quarter. Now you'd think the United States could beat a bunch of rag tag insurgents at a price tag of nearly ż of a trillion dollars, but apparently this just isn't the case.

According to a report on, the incoming Democrat controlled Congress is amenable to further funding of the war, even though they keep saying they're pushing for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007. I may be wrong, but an effective way of getting the president to acquiesce to a demand for withdrawing troops is by putting a switch in his stocking rather than giving him the gift he so cherishes.

But of course, it is Christmas, a time when we're all supposed to put aside our differences and spread good will to all. President Bush certainly got into the act. He visited wounded soldiers at Bethesda Naval Hospital on December 22, handing out purple hearts to the young lads who nearly died protecting vital national interests in the Near East. If that's not a reason to give Bush a $100 billion, I don't know what is.

Except of course, the pesky notion our war efforts aren't making headway in either country. Iraq still has a cultural and sectarian war going on among the tribes there as well as fighting against the occupiers, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government is teetering on the brink of disaster. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is gaining ground throughout the region and poppy production is at its highest since the 2001 invasion.
It seems for all the taxpayer money we throw at these two self-made conflicts, Iraqi's and Afghani's just can't seem to appreciate everything we're doing for them. Al Qaeda is still extremely active, planning various insidious terrorist actions during this holiday season, if British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to be believed.

So if our efforts are for naught, why should Congress give Bush more money to squander? Isn't it more sensible to get out of these money pits instead of trying to make them into showcases of American strength and democracy? I bet if the new Democratic leadership in Congress really thought hard, they could find a lot of very good uses for that extra $100 billion. Maybe it could be put into the public education sector, or even the federal infrastructure. Maybe if stopped throwing good money after bad in the war on terrorism, all school-aged children in this country could become proficient in reading and math. And we wouldn't have to privatize the federal highways, keeping them toll free. We might even have a little left over for starting a subsidized health insurance plan for working families and real electoral reform.

But President Bush won't find any switches in his stockings this year. In the spirit of bi-partisanship the Democrats will fill his stocking with the cash he so desperately wants. And they'll make sure those switches end up in the stockings over our fireplaces, for questioning the good intentions of our imperial leader.
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Larry Sakin is a former non-profit medical organization executive and music producer. His writing can be found on, Blogcritics, OpEd News, The People's Voice, Craig's List and The Progressive magazine. He also advocates for literacy and (more...)
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