Whither the Anti-War Left?

08caucus.480As America’s leftist president demands war against Syria, the anti-war Left is nowhere to be found.

Democratic lawmakers who reflexively oppose any military action proposed by a Republican president are for the most part missing in action now that a Democrat occupies the Oval Office.

Earlier this week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10 to 7 to authorize the president to use U.S. forces to attack Syria. The resolution stipulates that military action is restricted to within Syria’s borders, forbids U.S. troops on Syrian soil, and limits hostilities to a maximum of 90 days. Newly elected Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) heroically emulated Obama in his earlier legislative career by voting “present.”

The White House lauded senators for “moving swiftly and for working across party lines on behalf of our national security.”

Democrat are coalescing behind Obama because they don’t want him to be a lame duck for the rest of his time in office after he foolishly threw down the gauntlet against Syria in his “red line” speech last year.

On MSNBC, former top congressional aide turned liberal logorrheic Chris Matthews put the situation bluntly:

I think the Democrats are going to be forced to sacrifice men and women who really, really don’t want to vote for this. They’re going to have to vote for it to save the president’s hide. That’s a bad position to put your party in.

Although Syrian authorities were accused of using chemical weapons around the beginning of this year, lawmakers didn’t care much about the issue until the White House starting breathing down their necks a few weeks ago.

Suddenly, as President Obama tries to steer an unpopular immigration amnesty, Obamacare funding, and a debt ceiling increase through Congress this fall, Capitol Hill is experiencing an outbreak of bleeding-heart humanitarianism.

Former Vermont Gov. and ex-DNC chairman Howard Dean, the anti-war Left’s candidate for president in 2004, endorsed the force authorization. “Thus far I fully support the president, including his going to Congress.”

As the Washington Examiner observed, more members of the Democratic leadership in the Senate and House currently support military action in Syria than Republican leadership in either chamber. This makes sense because Democrats tend to view U.S. soldiers as heavily armed social workers who should be deployed overseas only to render humanitarian aid or advance fuzzy utopian schemes.

Four out of eight members of the Democratic leadership are on record as backing Obama’s dangerous military adventure. The other four are uncommitted but seem inclined to support the mission. Only two out of 10 members of GOP leadership on the Hill favor a resolution authorizing action against Syrian government forces, according to the Examiner‘s tally.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) supports the president. “I believe the use of military force against Syria is both justified and necessary,” Reid said.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also backs the force resolution. “If we can do something to discourage [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad and others like him from using chemical weapons without engaging in a war and without making a long-term military commitment of the United States, I’m open to that debate,”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports Obama. “This is behavior outside the circle of civilized human behavior and we must respond,” she said.

So does Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “I believe that the Syrian regime must know that their blatant violation of international norms will be met with a strong response,” Hoyer said.

Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), obediently kept his mouth shut at the insistence of the Obama White House. “I reserve judgment on Syria until a resolution and more details are forthcoming,” Clyburn said. The administration has instructed members of the Democrats’ Congressional Black Caucus to stay silent on the issue in public to give it more time to twist lawmakers’ arms.

These are the same people who had regular temper tantrums in the George W. Bush years as that administration took aim at terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, declaring quagmire after quagmire as terrorist body counts mounted.

So far the most eloquent critic of President Obama’s Syria policy is Illinois State Senator Obama.

In 2002 Obama acknowledged that Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was “a brutal man,” “a ruthless man,” and “a man who butchers his own people to secure his own power.” Hussein “repeatedly defied U.N. resolutions, thwarted U.N. inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity,” Obama said at the time.

But Obama still opposed action against Iraq even though he admitted “the world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.” Hussein “poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States,” and a U.S. invasion to oust him would be “a dumb war,” “a rash war,” and “a war based not on reason but on passion.”

As Jacob Sullum notes, even though Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurds of northern Iraq, killing more than 5,000 men, women, and children, Obama didn’t consider that outrage sufficient to warrant American military intervention in Iraq.

Yet the 1,400 deaths Obama says were caused by the Syrian government’s sarin-gas attacks on its own population require a U.S. military response, in Obama’s view.

“What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?” Obama said in a speech over the weekend.

“Presumably the same message he was willing to send when he opposed war with Iraq,” Sullum dryly observes.

Becoming president also changed Obama’s views on the constitutional authority of the executive branch.

In late 2007, then-presidential candidate Obama told reporters that “the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Now that he’s president, Obama says he does have the constitutional authority to act without Congress but that he wants congressional approval anyway. “I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” he said a few days ago.

When the ill-fated intervention in Syria’s civil war blows up in the administration’s face, Obama will be able to pin at least part of the blame on Republicans who lacked the moral courage to say no to an imperial president who has never had the best interests of the U.S. at heart.

There seem to be plenty of willing Republican dupes who support the president’s ill-defined call for action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Commentator Jed Babbin says President Obama may get congressional authority to strike Syria because “the Republican ‘leadership’ of national security affairs—at least the only ones who get media attention—is comprised of Obama’s most dedicated allies in Congress, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have said they support Obama’s plan. At press time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is expecting a tough primary fight back home next year, had not taken a position on the issue.

And it turns out that an influential writer whose opinion lawmakers are relying on to justify war in Syria is also a paid advocate for that country’s jihadist-dominated insurgency. This week Secretary of State John Kerry urged House lawmakers to read a dubious Wall Street Journal op-ed by Elizabeth O’Bagy of the Institute for the Study of War. She is also political director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a group that advocates within the U.S. for Syria’s rebels.

In what could be a Walter Duranty moment, O’Bagy claimed concerns about Islamists’ sway over the anti-Assad coalition are overblown. “Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaida die-hards,” O’Bagy wrote.

“Moderate opposition groups make up the majority of actual fighting forces,” she wrote, only to be echoed in recent days by Koran and Arabic language scholar John McCain.

Meanwhile, opponents of Obama’s plan to reshape the Middle East by giving the Islamists the upper hand are being bought off and silenced in Congress while left-wing groups are kept on a tight leash.

The Obama administration is working behind the scenes to hand out legislative goodies in exchange for support for intervention in Syria’s civil war.

“I think the White House candy store is open,” said John Bolton, President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations.

“What do you need for your district or state? A post office? A new military facility? What do you want? I think anything you want you’re going to get because the White House is going to do whatever it takes to get a majority.”

Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) called out Democrat-aligned groups for their stunning hypocrisy, noting that “many of the most vocal opponents of the U.S.’s intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan under President Bush have changed their tune under Obama’s leadership.”

Although few Americans support U.S. intervention in Syria’s ongoing civil war, leading left-wing youth groups including College Democrats, Young Democrats, and Generation Progress (formerly Campus Progress, a high-traffic blog run by the Center for American Progress Action Fund), haven’t yet found the time to criticize President Obama’s proposal to involve U.S. forces in war 6,000 miles away from home.

Occupy Democrats openly praises Obama for his courage, or something.

“After President Bush’s war for ideology and profit,” foreign governments have been skeptical of U.S. intervention “for good reason,” the group said on its website. “[B]y sending the matter to Congress for a vote, it shows that President Obama is trying hard to shake the ghosts of this country’s past.”

YAL spokeswoman Bonnie Kristian said it is “astonishing to see some on the Left stumble to defend Obama’s indefensible position on intervention in Syria. The usual talking heads on MSNBC are scrambling to explain how Syria is different than Bush’s wars.”

That scrambling will intensify in coming weeks as Democrats try to save Obama’s hide.

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  • Paul Austin Murphy

    Well, things must be very different in the US. In the UK the anti-war movement is against the war. Or at least the Trotskyists who run the anti-war movement are against the war. That is, the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) is against the war.

    It is lead by people who are paid by Iran’s Press TV (John Rees, George Galloway, Chris Bamberry, Lyndsey German, Yvonne Ridley, Lauren Booth, etc.) That explains their position. Many SWP and Counterfire are very pro-Iran. John Rees, ex-SWP and now Counterfire (plus StWC and Press TV!) once said that he’d support Iran in a future war with the UK.


  • Ulrick

    It’s mostly the far-left groups like the ANSWER coalition that don’t care about the Democrats (or at least pretend not to) organizing antiwar protests. Usually while saying really dumb things like “No War in Syria” (as if the last two years haven’t happened) and acting as if Syria hasn’t been being bombed on its own without intervention and that the 2,000,000 refugees and sectarian tensions exported to Iraq, Lebanon, etc. haven’t been destabilizing the middle-east as is.

    It’s not that there aren’t valid reasons for staying out of Syria, but communist idiots aren’t going to provide them.

    • http://subversioninc.com Matthew Vadum

      I’ve always wondered what’s wrong with “destabilizing” the Middle East?

      • WhiteHunter

        I second that. But, of course, you can’t “destabilize” something that’s never been stable in the first place.

      • EarlyBird

        Ask Israelis that question, Matthew.

    • oandroplex700

      Very well said!!!!

    • Paul Austin Murphy

      True. If you see my comment below, that is the distinction to be made in the US – between the Trotskyist Left, who are anti-war, and the Democrat Left, who are pro-war in Syria… But that’s still not true of England. The entire Left, including our Democrats, the Labour Party, are against the war; with probably some exceptions.

      The Sunnis (via CAIR) are strong in both America and the UK (via MCB, MAC, etc.). However, the entire ant-war movement in the UK is run by pro-Iran Trotskyists who also work for Iran’s Press TV. Hence they defend Syria because they defend Iran.

  • truebearing

    Where is the Left? Sacrificing principles for power, as always. Even their own principles are expendable when power is at stake, so the collective can’t challenge the lies because that would damage their most important tool. Too much truth could be contagious and then all of the lies might be exposed. Better to keep quiet, keep a wary eye on Obama, and hope they don’t get fooled again.

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    • EarlyBird

      “Where is the Left? Sacrificing principles for power, as always.”

      You’re absolutely correct. But don’t fool yourself into believing that the right doesn’t do so just as often. Their support of George W. Bush comes to mind. Politics is ugly stuff.

  • oandroplex700

    our narsistic community leader poseing as a president, has gotten himself over his head, where he cant get a single country. in the world to go along with his foolishness, it should be Interesting to see how he has flip floped, about the red line in the sand, and no boots on the ground, and now has flip floped about that as well. hows about we ask obama to go on a extended vacation, till the next presidetial election, and that he take ketchup kerry and crazy joe biden along with him??

    • justquitnow

      His foolishness is watching people getting killed with chemical weapons and wanting to punish Assad for it. But, he has left it to us instead of just acting. So your representative will vote on whether or not Assad should be hit for using chemical weapons. There has never been a plan to invade Syria. “boots on the ground” usually means soldiers…like an invastion. We’ve always had boots on the ground in the form of CIA.

    • Well Done

      In all fairness, I’m sure 0bama would have no problem getting any country that has a gay crackhead as its leader, to cooperate. Just not very many of those.

  • Michael Garfinkel

    I think I have finally come to understand Nixon’s hatred of the liberal-left.

  • EthanP

    This makes perfect sense if you understand the leftist agenda. An attack on Syria will harm US intrests, harm an already Obama damaged US military and possibly endander Israeli security. These are all to the good for the Alynski inspired left of Obama and his minions. THESE ARE NOT PATRIOTS!

    • Michael__Durham

      Yes, they’re patriots.They’re patriotic to mother Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, and Nicaragua (again)…in other words, they’re patriots to Communist-fascist Leftist nations.

      And they’re going to get us all killed. Which is just fine, to these, demonic Malthusian communist bastards.

    • Paul Austin Murphy

      But there’s also the Sunni/Muslim Brotherhood influence on Obama. CAIR will have been on his back, amongst many other Muslims and Democrats, to help the ever-innocent Sunni victims of Syria; and in the process help set up a Sunni Islamist state which will be far worse than Assad.

      • Bob Almighty

        Obama helps the Brotherhood in Libya Egypt and Syria, but not the democrats in Iran when they revolt.

        • http://www.luoamerican.com/baldilocks Juliette Akinyi Ochieng

          True to type and pattern, he is.

    • hpe reader

      This only sounds like more of Obama’s plan to destroy the unjust American social structure. After the devastation comes the new way. Right, right?

    • Cyborg3K

      There’s also the fact that 4 out of 5 veterans tend to vote Republican, so the ‘rats don’t mind killing some of them off whenever they get the chance.

    • EarlyBird


      Israel and its lobbies in the United States such as AIPAC and ADL are ferociously and openly lobbying American politicians in Washington to get into this idiotic war in Syria:





      Yes, it will harm US interests and further erode the strength of the US military. Yes, it will be bad for America in every way. But Israel believes it will help Israel by increasing the likelihood of an American strike on Iran. Remember: the more entangled in the Middle East the US can become, the stronger the bonds between Israel and the less “daylight” there is between Israeli and American interests.

  • Mo86

    The hypocrisy of liberals on this Syria debacle has been STUNNING.

    Where are Code Pink and the rest of them?

    How many years did they shriek and outright lie about Iraq? “Bush, lied, people died!” was the cry. No amount of evidence convinced them that the Iraq War was not for oil, nor was it illegal! Liberals rewrote history so that to this day people believe this is the way things happened.

    Now on this? Nothing.

    And no one calls them on it.

    How liberals enrage me!

    • BS77

      Where is that hag Cindy Sheehan? Where are the Code Pink screamers and Michael Moore…..hear the crickets?

  • tagalog

    I have to give Code Pink alone some credit. They seem to be true to their stated antiwar beliefs.

    For the rest of the Left, we now know a few things: 1. staying out of civil wars is not the real reason for them being antiwar; 2. unilateral executive military action is not the real reason for them being antiwar; 3. our not being the cops of the world (see Phil Ochs for the song) is not the real reason for them being antiwar.

    Things gradually become clearer and clearer.

    • ziggy zoggy

      No offense but it was always clear. They oppose military actions by America and Israel only but put their Democrat affiliation above all else.

      • tagalog

        Of course you’re right.

  • Aizino Smith

    Where in the World is Cindy Sheehan?

    • WhiteHunter

      Let’s give Cindy the benefit of the doubt: She’s probably locked up in a padded cell somewhere, and has no WiFi access. Or maybe she’s simply used up her 15 minutes of fame.

    • glpage

      I think she has announced her candidacy for governor of California. Watch out Moonbeam.

    • Fritz

      Actually Sheehan and Code Pink have at least made a showing, they packed in behind John Kerry while he was testifying before a committee and have run pickets at Capital Hill and the White House. I still think they are loons but at least they are consistent loons, not just a phoney Democrat/George Soros front group.

  • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

    Code Pink showed up for the public Kerry hearing. The optics were fascinating as all those red hands showed up behind his head. Medea Benjamin herself was there.

    • Aizino Smith

      Yes, Code Pink was protesting the coming war. One might say they are consistent.

      Although Code Pink was covered by the MSM, was it covered with the same gusto as when Code Pink was protesting Iraq and Bush?

  • WhiteHunter

    I never thought I’d believe (and even respect) a Soviet leader (especially a “former” KGB officer!) more than a U.S. president; but for the first time, I do: Putin thinks clearly and speaks the truth; Obama never does.
    Moreover, Putin consistently protects what he sees as his own country’s national interests–something nobody could ever accuse Obama of doing.
    Jean-Francois Kerry used to pontificate endlessly about “the lessons of Vietnam” when a Republican occupied the White House, but not now. He’s obviously chosen to ignore the “lesson” of how that war began, with limited, “punitive” air strikes against the Communists after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964.
    Unfortunately, the Communists didn’t respond to the “lesson” and dial-down their aggression as hoped. There is zero reason to believe that Assad will, either.
    Do you see the parallel, Monsieur Kerry? What “lesson” do you learn from it?

    • ziggy zoggy

      I’ve always respected Putin more than Obunghole, and for exactly the same reasons. Whenever I see them together I wish Putin would thrash Obambi in front of the entire world. Just kick his scrawny @$$ all over the room and bitch slap him bloody.

      America derives the national humiliation for electing that fraud.

      • justquitnow

        You’re doing pretty good humiliating yourself.

        • Drakken

          Funny how our boy wonder Obummer plays golf and Putin hunts and fishes and isn’t afraid to put out manly traits. If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on Putin, at least he has his country’s interest at heart unlike our idiot in chief and his minions who would f*** up a wet dream.

          • justquitnow

            It takes a fascist to know a fascist? idk, the rush to side with Putin is of such tragic hilarity that I just can’t believe it. You’ll support a thug and dictator over the President of the United States….wow. Sure you have your reasons, after all you read this “magazine”…it’s full of reasons to hate Obama if you want to.

          • logdon

            When a ‘thug and a dictator’ is the President of the United States gives reason to support anyone who opposes him.

            My enemy’s enemy etc.

          • justquitnow

            But you’re just being flippant and dickish and hurling insults. Thanks for stopping by and spreading the bleech.

          • logdon

            My pleasure.

    • Fritz

      Putin is not even remotely Soviet, that would imply that he’s a Communist and very little about how he rules Russia has anything in common with Communism other then his authoritarian bent. Unlike under Communism most Russians have very little interaction with the state in their daily lives, up until this year they were even allowed to smoke on buses. Putin has also apparently accumulated a personal fortune estimated in the tens of billions. Sure, he was KGB, but so what? In the old Soviet Union if you wanted any advancement in life you had to play the game.
      One thing that Putin understands is that the fortunes of a ruler rise and fall by the fortunes of the nation, hence why he pursues what he believes is in Russia’s interests. It’s also likely that he has a much better overall education then B.O, since he was a KGB man he does have some understanding of the real world of foreign affairs and necessary alliances. About all B.O understands is a kindergarten grade of Marxism, Sol Alinsky, and Crook County machine politics.

      • justquitnow

        Russia is basically a mafia state. Mafia state dons are very rich. Admire away.

        • ReyR

          I am Russian. All I can say about you is: you know nothing about us, and have no chance to learn. You are right about one thing: it’s your time to just quit now.

          • justquitnow

            I’m sorry.

        • Drakken

          Funny thing is, Putin has an IQ over 160 and our moron in chief can’t even figure out how to put pieces on a simple board to play checkers much less chess like Putin does. Russia is going capitalistic and we in the US are increasingly going the way of communism.

          • justquitnow

            You’re an idiot. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and even after the collapse of capitalism and the socialist bailing out by the United States taxpayers, you will still pound the capitalism vs. communism argument like it was the 1950s. Whatever…go admire your hero….he’s rich!

          • ReyR

            It’s you who are a useful idiot. What bailing out? Which taxpayers? Who’s rich? Where you here when we all but died? Did you see what happened in Russia when you western guys came here after the Union collapsed? When your predator siblings stole what they could and burned most of what they couldn’t steal. I am not an angry person, and I do not wish evil to people, not even to a libertarian stinko, but I can give you one piece of advice: read Chalmers Johnson, for today’s America he was a rare specimen, honest, smart and knowledgeable. He tried to warn such as you, but you won’t listen. Blowback is coming, man, and it’s coming your way. What we had to survive in the post-collapse Russia is nothing compared to what’s staring in your face right now. Babble on, while you still can.


            KGB Putins Russia can drop dead.

          • ReyR

            Your helpless rage makes my day. Simmer on, buddy.

          • justquitnow

            You must have misunderstood….the “collapse of capitalism” was the 2008 crash (here) and subsequent worldwide recession. The bailing out was by American taxpayers of her largest financial institutions both in this country and the world. This shared pain of the bailout is socialism…yet, it’s still “capitalism vs communism” that rules the minds and thoughts of many. So, and I know the entire Horowitz universe is based on this dichotomy, I don’t expect it to go anywhere, it’s just hollow now and some here need a shock collar that goes off when they inappropriately and dishonestly accuse someone of being a communist.

            For you, I’m sorry about the misunderstanding…I cannot speak for what went on inside Russia after the USSR besides what information is available to me here, but if “western guys” came in and took something from you, then you have something in common with just about everywhere else on the planet.

            Anyway I wish you well and I all my hopes for the future of Russia. If we have anything to fear (here)it is the continual erosion of our rights and the diminishing power of our government against corporations. We may soon be one big oligarchy together if that isn’t already the case.

  • http://www.shugartmedia.com/ Chris Shugart

    It’s not a difficult question. For so many leftists, it’s less about ideology, and more about feeling relevant, noble, and morally/intellectually superior. Leftism is one part emotional salve, one part self identity, and one part fashion statement. Ideological thought rarely figures into the equation. It’s cruel but it’s true.

  • Philo Vaihinger

    Legislators should not even be thinking about voting for an attack just to keep egg off of O’s face.

    I say that who voted for him O twice and continue to believe the situation would be worse with McCain (!) or Romney in the White House.

    Yankee stay home.

    • justquitnow

      I love it…Obama has found the perfect way to keep us out of wars…just want to attack someone. Even the warmongers and cultists don’t want to go to war. Now Obama has to come out against infrastructure repair.

      • Sheik Yerbouti

        Look at the effect his position against white Americans is having.

        • justquitnow

          His position against white Americans? Ah..it’s good to be back.

  • tokoloshiman

    The WAR will go on as advertised!

  • Bob Almighty

    Left Wing sucks

  • ziggy zoggy

    “Whither the anti-war left?”

    They left.

  • mtnhikerdude

    How about you bozos in Congress and the Senate try saving our Nation’s hide instead of Obombas ? Take the troops out of Afghanistan put them on the border
    locked and loaded. If you want to bomb something bomb the deficit. Get a stinking clue . We are as a Nation morphing into Detroit.

  • hyedenny

    Great article, but the numbers are wrong. During the Anfal campaign (Feb – Sept 1988), an estimated 182,000 Kurds were killed by chemical weapons. Let’s not also forget that Saddam Hussein was FUNDING al Qaeda terrorists leading up to the 9-11 WTC attack! The Iraq war was also fully legal, and (initially) endorsed by almost ALL democrats in congress. The argument can also be made that it was legal in terms of UN article1441.
    The situation in Syria is the opposite – a joke – with obama at the helm. Hypocrisy and diversion at its finest!

  • moneekwa

    i’m curious. assuming that a “surgical strike” is a mythological thing, and that the repercussions of this will range from a counter-strike against our ships or something worse on up to ww3, but at any rate, it doesn’t take 90 days to throw a few cruise missiles, how the F are we, poor sequestered souls, going to pay for this face-saving folly of o’traitor’s?

  • Well Done

    I’d say the Democrats are full of shiite on this, but then, the Dems are full of it on most everything. Who is really full of it are the lefties who you just KNOW would be protesting this bomb-Syria idea were the President Republican, even if he were non-white. If there is anyone who didn’t think the Dems, and the hard left in general, value ideology and partisanship “uber alles”, they should be educated by now. Hopefully.

  • Paul Austin Murphy
  • objectivefactsmatter

    “Democrat are coalescing behind Obama because they don’t want him to be a lame duck for the rest of his time in office after he foolishly threw down the gauntlet against Syria in his “red line” speech last year.”


    Too late.

  • Major

    Any sensible, honest person here…has to revile and hate the left. As psychopathic liars and traitors as I do. They treat this poseur and POS as a movie star…when it’s clear he’s a narcissist, arrogant, ignorant , flawed, dishonest, parsing liar and hypocrite.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sstephaniew stephanie wilson


  • okokok

    you have confused the anti-war left with congressional leadership dems–they have never been part of Barbara Lee’s coalition, m0r0n!
    Therefore your whole analysis is bogus…