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Warmongers move on, soldiers continue to die

Missing from all the talk from the Republican White House about the "surge" in Iraq is compassion.

There should be pity for the helpless human beings on the ground over there, and especially for the fallen and wounded servicemen and women and their families.

A vast callousness has settled on the capital. The contrast between how we showcased President Gerald R. Ford's entombment and the way we still brush off our war dead can't be explained in any other way.

People sat transfixed in front of their TV sets watching the repetitive rituals for Ford. And under the cover of Bush administration secrecy, our war dead are processed through the military's mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware like so many uncounted crates -- nameless commodities.

No pictures are allowed there, nor any public rites for the 3,018 unlucky personnel as of this writing who got stopped cold in the war of choice pushed by President Bush and the so-called neo-conservatives.

Compare the anonymity of these dead boys and girls with the fame and wealth enjoyed by those who urged this war on America and the Middle East.

The most famous of the jingoists is Vice President Cheney. One, William Kristol, is weekly featured as an expert on Fox News. Another, Paul Wolfowitz, one of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's top henchmen, became president of the World Bank.

Still others, such as former CIA director George Tenet and former Rumsfeld aide Douglas J. Feith, found safe haven in the faculty of Georgetown University.

Washington is so forgiving. Bullets and improvised explosive devices in Baghdad are not.

Undaunted by the blood and sacrifice of the less fortunate, Bush announced there will be more men and women sentenced to mediating a sectarian civil war in a country that we broke.

So now it is up to the Democrats, newly empowered in Congress, and a handful of Republicans of conscience, such as Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, to stop the bleeding.

Democratic leaders of both Houses say they will offer nonbinding resolutions voicing opposition to the president's escalation of the war. With the GOP turned out of control, and polls showing Bush laid an egg with his TV speech, backing such a resolution is the easy part.

There's no arguing any more with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's, D-N.Y., charge that Bush is guilty of incompetence and arrogance. Few will disagree with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., that "you'd almost think that this [new Bush] policy was designed by somebody who wanted to lose."

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said it is worse than that.

Byrd told the Senate on Thursday he believed that all Bush wants to do is dump Iraq on his successor.

So if, as Clinton, Schumer and Byrd say, the administration's policy is cynical, arrogant, incompetent and nuts, then what do you do? Voting against the war is easy these days.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., offers Congress a hard choice: Use the constitutional power of the purse to cut off money for the war.

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It's little more than two months since Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, narrowly survived Election Day, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is after him again. Committee spokesman Bill Burton noted that Reynolds voted against an increase in the federal minimum wage -- the sole "nay" vote in the state's House delegation. Burton, who is from Buffalo, said it was an example of the way Reynolds would like to "obstruct" Democratic progress. Reynolds did not respond to a request for comment.

e-mail: dturner@buffnews.com

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