Archive for the ‘Nancy Pelosi’ Category

We certainly are glad we are NOT in Washington D.C. – the stench must be horrible!

Pelosi paid husband with PAC funds

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has directed nearly $100,000 from her political action committee to her husband’s real estate and investment firm over the past decade, a practice of paying a spouse with political donations that she supported banning last year.

Financial Leasing Services Inc. (FLS), owned by Paul F. Pelosi, has received $99,000 in rent, utilities and accounting fees from the speaker’s “PAC to the Future” over the PAC’s nine-year history.

The payments have quadrupled since Mr. Pelosi took over as treasurer of his wife’s committee in 2007, Federal Election Commission records show. FLS is on track to take in $48,000 in payments this year alone – eight times as much as it received annually from 2000 to 2005, when the committee was run by another treasurer.

Lawmakers’ frequent use of campaign donations to pay relatives emerged as an issue in the 2006 election campaigns, when the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal gave Democrats fodder to criticize Republicans such as former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas and Rep. John T. Doolittle of California for putting their wives on their campaign and PAC payrolls for fundraising work.

Last year, Mrs. Pelosi supported a bill that would have banned members of Congress from putting spouses on their campaign staffs. The bill – which passed the House in a voice vote but did not get out of a Senate committee – banned not only direct payments by congressional campaign committees and PACs to spouses for services including consulting and fundraising, but also “indirect compensation,” such as payments to companies that employ spouses.

“Democrats are committed to reforming the way Washington does business,” Mrs. Pelosi said in a press release at the time. “Congressman [Adam] Schiff’s bill will help us accomplish that goal by increasing transparency in election campaigns and preventing the misuse of funds.”

Last week, Mrs. Pelosi’s office said the payments to her husband’s firm were perfectly legal, insisting she is compensating her husband at fair market value for the work his firm has performed for the PAC. But ethical watchdogs said the arrangement sends the wrong message.

“It’s problematic,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit ethics and watchdog group. “From what I understand, Mr. Pelosi doesn’t need the money, but this isn’t the issue. … As speaker of the House, it sends the wrong message. She shouldn’t be putting family members on the payroll.”

A senior adviser to Mrs. Pelosi described the payments to FLS as “business expenses.”

“She’s followed all the appropriate rules and regulations in terms of records and paperwork,” said Brendan Daly, Mrs. Pelosi’s spokesman. “When [former treasurer] Leo McCarthy became ill, she thought that it was best that that firm did the accounting and she’s paid fair market value in San Francisco.”

Between 1999 and 2006, FLS collected $500 per month to cover rent, utilities and equipment for the leadership PAC, according to the FEC records. The PAC’s address is listed as a personal mailbox in San Francisco, across the street from FLS’s Montgomery Street office building, but the rent payments went to an office space.

In early 2007, the PAC’s treasurer, Leo T. McCarthy, former Democratic speaker of the state assembly and lieutenant governor in California, died. Mr. Pelosi took over as treasurer and his company’s PAC payouts rose.

At that point, FLS started charging the PAC $24,000 per year for accounting work. In January 2008, the PAC’s rent – paid to FLS – also quadrupled from $500 to $2,000 per month.

Katie Falkenberg/The Washington Times PARTNERSHIP: Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul F. Pelosi, was by her side at a Democratic event in 2006.

Mr. McCarthy, the previous treasurer, had done the work as a volunteer, according to FEC documents and Jennifer Crider, a senior adviser to Mrs. Pelosi and spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She said FLS’ accounting fees are in line with costs for other PACs.

The jump in rent was an adjustment to reflect San Francisco’s pricey real estate market, Miss Crider said. The rent was adjusted to $1,250 per month, with $750 in back rent to reflect that the rent should have been increased in mid-2007. This was the first increase since the PAC was established in mid-1999, records show.

Over the first six months of 2008, FLS was the largest vendor for Mrs. Pelosi’s PAC. Brian Wolff, a political consultant, is the second-largest vendor, bringing in $22,500 this year.

FLS’ payments represent 11 percent of the $213,900 the PAC raised over the first half of this year, according to the FEC documents.

PACs, which are designed to help politicians contribute to other candidates and build influence with colleagues, operate under lighter restrictions than traditional campaign committees.

Meredith McGehee, policy director at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said putting family members on a PAC payroll is bound to raise questions and, in some cases, allow for abuse.

“The reality is that under the current system, PACs are rife with self-dealing transactions,” she said. “The laws and regulations could and should be strengthened.

“There is a point now that you’re starting to talk about real money,” she said of Mrs. Pelosi’s PAC. “This is not just a mom-and-pop operation and any self-dealing transaction by a member of Congress is going to get scrutiny, particularly with large amounts of money and prominent members.”

It is illegal for members of Congress to hire family members to work on their official staff, but hiring relatives to work on a campaign or PAC is legal.

To be sure, many political action committees employ or work with family businesses. Last year, CREW found that 19 members of Congress used campaign committees or PACs to purchase services from a family member between 2002 and 2006.

Mrs. Pelosi’s PACs have been in trouble before. In 2004, one of her political action committees, Team Majority, was fined $21,000 by the FEC for accepting donations over federal limits. It was one of two PACs she operated at the same time. The Team Majority PAC was closed shortly after the fine was levied.

Political Leaders and Pundits Are Clueless About Bailout Rejection

By Richard C. Cook

SEPTEMBER 30, 2008­ Stephen Pearlstein is the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist. In print and as a TV talking head­ – like on Chris Matthews’ Hardball late last week­ – Pearlstein is one of the foremost media cheerleaders for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill.

Or should we call it the Bush-Paulson-McCain-Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Dodd-Frank Wall Street bailout bill?

Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the leadership of the Democratic majority in Congress have become the indispensable partners in Bush administration travesties. First it was funding for the Iraq War. Now it’s lavishing rewards on the Wall Street “Masters of the Universe,” who, coincidentally, have been the financial mainstay of the Democratic Party since the Clinton years.

The TV networks are filled this morning with commentators who are sneering about how a majority of congresspeople voted to save their political butts in the face of the upcoming congressional elections. Political expediency, say the financier-owned media, trumped principle, when the House defeated the bailout bill yesterday by a vote in which 67 percent of the Republicans and 60 percent of the Democrats voted “No.”

The “principle” in this case is that of the loaded gun which Wall Street is holding to Main Street’s head. “Bail us out or no more loans,” Wall Street says in this alleyway mugging. And no more loans seemingly would be a disaster, because for the last quarter century it’s primarily been borrowed money Main Street has been living on.

But maybe Main Street is willing to call Wall Street’s bluff­on principle.

Here’s where Pearlstein enters the picture. His column in the Post this morning is as condescending as it can be. The title? “They Just Don’t Get It.”

Pearlstein writes: “Americans fail to understand that they are facing the real prospect of a decade of little or no economic growth because of the bursting of a credit bubble that they helped create and that now threatens to bring down the global financial system.”

Here’s what Pearlstein doesn’t get: The only reason there has been economic growth in the last seven years has been due to the housing bubble the Bush administration and Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan created to get us out of the crash of the dot.com bubble in 2000-2001.

The reason these bubbles have been needed is that the United States over the last generation gave away millions of its good manufacturing jobs to foreign nations in order to further the greed of global finance capitalism. So the only way people have been able to live has been through credit bubbles that have the added disadvantage of inflating the prices of assets, including their homes. This is another benefit of the housing bubble: For a home that once cost $120,000, a family is paying a $300,000 mortgage. If they want to sell, they would be lucky to get $200,000, less brokers’ and bankers’ fees.

Pearlstein again: “Politicians worry less about preventing a financial meltdown than about ideology, partisan posturing and teaching people a lesson. Financiers have yet to own up publicly to their own greed, arrogance and incompetence. And leaders of foreign governments still think that this is an American problem and that they have no need to mount similar rescue efforts in their own countries.”

To call what a majority of the House of Representatives did yesterday in voting down the bailout an action based on “ideology, partisan posturing and teaching people a lesson” is a slur on American democracy. It shows what we already know: the Washington Post is really a house organ of the financial elite. And in dissing what is really part of a widespread populist uprising against financial abuses which have produced a condition approaching debt slavery for a majority of the U.S. population, Pearlstein shows a lack of respect that is typical, though appalling.

His prescription? “And they will come around, reluctantly, to the understanding that the only way to get out of these situations is to have governments all around the world borrow gobs of money and effectively nationalize large swaths of the financial system so it can be restructured, recapitalized, reformed and returned to private ownership once the crisis has passed and the economy has gotten back on its feet.”

In other words, Pearlstein is really a Keynesian. Governments need to “borrow gobs of money and effectively nationalize large swaths of the financial system.” This means trillions added to the national debt.

But in the point about nationalization there is a glimmer of truth, though not the way Pearlstein means it. For he is wrong in thinking that this particular bailout bill which rewards years of greed, criminality, and government collusion in private banking swindles is the way to proceed. Neither is it right for the government to administer bad bankers’ debts while already the big banks that leveraged the terrible investment decisions­ – Citibank, the Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan Chase – ­are getting off scot-free and adding to their empires by gobbling up the small fry.

What then should be done?

Here I would like to turn to a proposal by a man I have met and respect. His name is Darrell Castle, and he is the 2008 candidate for vice-president of the Constitution Party. Castle has spent the last year traveling around the country meeting people on Main Street and listening to what they have to say.

This is what Castle proposes in the Constitution Party’s latest newsletter:

“The Federal Reserve Banks should be seized by Congress under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution. The FED banks could survive as clearinghouse banks, but the Federal Reserve that has robbed the American people for 100 years would cease to exist. The debt owed by the American people to the FED banks would be discharged in bankruptcy. Congress would take monetary policy from the FED and would simply stand in place of the FED through a monetary board. The FED credit computers would be transferred to Congress who would issue new credit (money), because under our present system 97% of all money originates as credit. This new credit would keep the system going and prevent collapse. It could all be done without interest and without debt. The backs of the international banking cartel would be broken forever, and the American people through their elected representatives would control monetary policy; i.e. money in circulation, interest rates, and credit availability.”

Pearlstein, Bush, Paulson, Pelosi, et.al., along with Obama and McCain, should also read the U.S. Constitution. Then they would see that the problem stems from the fact that in 1913 Congress privatized our money supply by turning it over to the private banks that own the Federal Reserve System. This is also why we have lived under the mass delusion that a healthy financial sector leads to a healthy producing economy.

Actually it’s the other way around. The financial sector should support the producing economy, not bleed it dry through interest, fees, commissions, and the destruction that arises from financial profit-seeking.

There is also the fact that while the producing economy has been hammered by job outsourcing and bled white by financial parasitism, it is still a powerful machine that can produce the goods and services people need. We are a strong, capable nation. And we are blessed with the resources we require for a decent standard of living, though not necessarily at a rate of consumption that forever outpaces the rest of the world. But what is wrong with that? The underlying strength of the producing economy was on display this morning, when the Dow-Jones defied the doomsayers by coming back strongly the day after the bailout was defeated.

We now need to do what Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party recommends: Use the power of the money supply to rebuild the producing economy that we have given away and rebuild it from the bottom up: from Main Street.

Unfortunately the fat cats and their political and media apologists “just don’t get it.” But the American people and the members of congress who voted the right way yesterday do.

Copyright 2008 by Richard C. Cook

Opinion from The Los Angeles Times –

By Jonah Goldberg Sept. 30, 2008

On Sunday evening, Republican House Minority Leader John A. Boehner explained his considered opinion on the $700-billion Wall Street bailout plan: It’s a “crap sandwich,” he said, but he was going to eat it.

Well, it turned out he couldn’t shove it down his colleagues’ throats. The bill failed on a bipartisan basis, but it was the Republicans who failed to deliver the votes they promised. Some complained that Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi drove some of them to switch their votes with her needlessly partisan floor speech on the subject. Of course Pelosi’s needlessly partisan. This is news?

The Republican complaint is beyond childish. Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, a man saturated with guilt for this crisis, nonetheless was right to ridicule the GOP crybabies on Monday. “I’ll make an offer,” he added. “Give me [their] names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they’ll now think about the country.”

Would that Frank had been imbued with such a spirit earlier. Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has spent the last few years ridiculing Alan Greenspan, John McCain and others who sought more regulation for Fannie Mae’s market-distorting schemes — the fons et origo of this financial crisis. Now he says “the private sector got us into this mess.” His partner in crime, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), a chief beneficiary of Fannie Mae lobbyists’ largesse, claims this mess is the result of poor oversight — without even hinting at the fact he is in charge of oversight of banks. They sound like pimps complaining about the prevalence of STDs among prostitutes.

And let us not forget that the Democrats, with a 31-seat majority, could not get 95 of their own to vote for the bailout, largely because it didn’t provide enough taxpayer money to their left-wing special interests. Would that they thought about the country.

The one man who truly tried to treat this crisis like a crisis — McCain — was ridiculed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who implored him to come to Washington to help in the first place. And the news media, which now treat any Republican action that threatens a Barack Obama victory as inherently dishonorable, uncritically accepted the bald Democratic lie that McCain ruined a bipartisan bailout deal last Friday.

This is not to say that McCain knows what to do. Faced with an unprecedented financial crisis involving frozen global credit markets and a maelstrom of moral hazard, his standard response is to talk about wiping out earmarks and eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. Memo to Mr. McCain: Waste, fraud and abuse are the only things holding the system together at this point.

Obama is no better. The man has spent two weeks irresponsibly excoriating his opponent for saying the fundamentals of the economy are strong — a perfectly leaderly thing for McCain to have said during a panic. Then, campaigning in Colorado on Monday, the day the market plunged 777.68 points, Obama proclaimed: “We’ve got the long-term fundamentals that will really make sure this economy grows.”

Perhaps after Al Qaeda seizes Baghdad, a President Obama would finally declare, “Hey, we can win this thing!”

Meanwhile, President Bush, his popularity ratings stuck at below-freezing numbers, has decided to cling to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson for warmth on the grounds that the vaunted former Goldman Sachs chair has the credibility to sell the solution to a problem he’s been exacerbating for 18 months. When a reporter for Forbes magazine asked a Treasury spokesman last week why Congress had to lay out $700 billion, the answer came back: “It’s not based on any particular data point.” Rather: “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”

There’s a confidence builder.

As for the reputedly free-market firebrands of the congressional GOP, with whom my sympathies generally lie, I cannot let pass without comment the fact that they controlled the legislative branch for most of the last eight years. Only now, when capitalism is in flames, does this fire brigade try to enforce the free-market fire codes without compromise.

I loathe populism. But if there ever has been a moment when reasonable men’s hands itch for the pitchfork, this must surely be it. No one is blameless. No one is pure. Two decades of crapulence by the political class has been prologue to the era of coprophagy that is now upon us. It is crap sandwiches for as far as the eye can see.

Ask your Representative and Senators how Basel II is impacting the bail-out – and why we haven’t heard anything about it on the “news.”

From Wikipedia

Basel II is the second of the Basel Accords, which are recommendations on banking laws and regulations issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. The purpose of Basel II, which was initially published in June 2004, is to create an international standard that banking regulators can use when creating regulations about how much capital banks need to put aside to guard against the types of financial and operational risks banks face. Advocates of Basel II believe that such an international standard can help protect the international financial system from the types of problems that might arise should a major bank or a series of banks collapse. In practice, Basel II attempts to accomplish this by setting up rigorous risk and capital management requirements designed to ensure that a bank holds capital reserves appropriate to the risk the bank exposes itself to through its lending and investment practices. Generally speaking, these rules mean that the greater risk to which the bank is exposed, the greater the amount of capital the bank needs to hold to safeguard its solvency and overall economic stability.

Do YOU have time to read the Bill that will change the financial landscape? Here it is.

***UPDATE – Apparently when he said “we”, he meant, “we, the Congress” are under a form of in-house martial rule, through Monday. Here is the ruling – To report the martial law rule waiving a requirement of Clause 6(a) of Rule XIII with respect to consideration of any resolution reported from the Rules Committee, through the legislative day of September 29, 2008. It does not apply to any specific measure, but rather grants blanket authority. Committee on Rules.

These are being shown on MTV – be aware, they are disturbing!

You won’t @#$#&$%-ing believe this!

“It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.

From Forbes

CONTACT YOUR SENATOR AND CONGRESS-PERSON NOW! THEY ARE NOT SAVING THE MARKETS – THEY ARE COVERING THEIR CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AND YOU WILL PAY FOR IT! TELL THEM NOT TO VOTE FOR THE BAIL-OUT.

AND BY THE WAY – WHY CAN THEY FIND $700,000,000,000 TO BAIL OUT CROOKS, BUT CAN’T “FIX” NEW ORLEANS?!

Nancy Pelosi Calls Bush a “Total Failure”

(CNN) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Bush “a total failure” on Thursday, among the California Democrat’s harshest assessments to date of the president.

“God bless him, bless his heart, president of the United States — a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject,” Pelosi told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an exclusive interview.

The comments came two days after the president sharply criticized Congress over what he described as relative inaction over the course of the legislative term. At the White House on Wednesday, Bush noted that there were only 26 legislative days left in the fiscal year and said Congress would need to pass a spending bill every other day to “get their fundamental job done.”

“This is not a record to be proud of, and I think the American people deserve better,” Bush said.

In the interview, Pelosi said the president was in no position to criticize Congress and brushed aside the criticisms as “something to talk about because he has no ideas.”

“For him to be challenging Congress when we are trying to sweep up after his mess over and over and over again — at the end of the day, Congress will have passed its responsibility to pass legislation,” she said.

But Pelosi’s comments come as a new Gallup poll registers the lowest level of congressional approval among Americans in the polling organization’s 30-year history of conducting that survey.

That poll showed that its approval rating had reached an anemic 14 percent, while more than 70 percent of those polled said they disapproved of the job Congress is doing.

The House speaker said she doesn’t consider those numbers a negative referendum on the Democrats in charge, saying she thinks they stem largely from Congress’ failure to end the war in Iraq.

“Everything I see says this is about ending the war — ‘I disapprove of Congress’ performance in terms of ending the war,’ ” she said. “In the House, we, of course, have over and over, five or six times, sent to the Senate legislation for a time certain to reduce our deployment in Iraq and bring our troops home safely, honorably and soon. We haven’t been able to get it past the Senate or the president of the United States.

“So, on the basis of that, count me among the 70-some percent,” she continued. “But that is one measure. The other measure that I’m more interested in is the one that talks about what is their view of Democrats. And the generic, who do you prefer to run the country on all of these issues? We’re in double digits in any poll that you can take.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Freedom Rider: Nancy Pelosi, Public Enemy Number One

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

From Black Agenda Report

“If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have ‘Impeach Bush’ across their chest, it’s the First Amendment.” – Nancy Pelosi

The Democratic Speaker of the House would like to arrest activists for loitering. Her Quisling like behavior has led protesters to her front door in San Francisco, but she has only herself to blame for the inconveniences she and her rich neighbors now suffer. The great unwashed masses have a right to assemble at her home, her office, or anywhere else they choose in order to exercise what is left of their right to speak freely. Her own words show her level of contempt for the democratic process.

It is clear that Nancy Pelosi’s reign as Speaker has been an absolute disaster for the Democratic party and for the entire nation. Her eagerness to cooperate with the Bush regime is matched only by her incompetence in leading Congress. Under her watch, Congress gave Alberto Gonzales, on his way to riding out of town on a rail, a significant victory by expanding FISA regulations to allow warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

frpelosiwbush.jpg

The story of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act debacle has been blamed on Bush. It is true that he once again lied about a terror threat, but it is not true that Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats were innocently stampeded. The Democrats had every intention of caving from the very beginning. Pelosi and the rest of the leadership promised the ACLU and other civil liberties groups that they wouldn’t pass a bill without first investigating the extent of White House law breaking and without consulting them first. They did no such thing. As an ACLU lobbyist put it, “They turned around and screwed us over – and the Constitution – all at once.”

Disappointment in the Democrats, pleas to “grow a spine” miss the point entirely. Pelosi and her clique have no interest in Democracy. They go through the flimsiest pretense of opposing Bush when they have no interest in doing so. Her goal is to preserve the status quo, not to overturn it.

Nancy Pelosi now has stated publicly what she thinks of us, the citizens of this country. We are an irritant to be tolerated, not people with rights that must be respected. Pelosi is an omen, a warning that acceptance of Democrat party actions is the first step on the road to political hell. It is a lesson that must be learned now, before President Hillary Clinton takes office.

The fix is definitely in for Clinton to win the Democratic party nomination. The Democratic candidates’ fundraising prowess versus Republicans is a sign that the big money political donors of both parties are all betting on the Democratic horse.

Clinton’s ascension to the throne now reserved for family dynasties should not be accepted as an absolute victory. The “middle of the road” after Bush is still right wing. Triangulation this time around means more war, New Orleans destroyed and deserted, and more dirty dealings in Congress.

Pelosi, Harry Reid and the rest of what passes for Congressional leadership have perfected their criminal enterprise. Every act of treachery is followed by lame excuses for inaction. The truly spineless ones, progressives wallowing in denial, foolishly whine, asking each other what is wrong when the answer stares them in the face. The Democratic party is complicit in killing democracy.

Activists must keep protesting at her house and working for her defeat in the 2008 congressional elections. They must also cease cooperating with her. The farce must end before it is too late. Pelosi, like Bush, has no loyalty to her constitutionally based responsibilities. She must no longer be treated as though she is a friend when she has proven herself to be an enemy.

Civil liberties groups and antiwar groups must stop meeting with Pelosi or her staff. They must finally realize that they can only play a role in movement politics. It is said that insanity is defined as repeating the same action over and over yet expecting a different result. Progressives have waged many righteous battles in the last seven years, but they are about to go down in history as insane actors in a badly written play.

Activists must begin making demands. They must demand impeachment, they must demand that New Orleans be rebuilt, they must demand no further funding for occupation in Iraq or for a new war in Iran. Pelosi and her co-conspirators must be called out as the back stabbers that they are. Only then will democracy have any chance of being restored.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com. Ms. Kimberley’ maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at freedomrider.blogspot.com. More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.

We have stated before that we are no happier with the Democrats than we are with the Republicans and Mr. Bush. We are glad to see we are in such good company – Helen Thomas is one of our heroes!

By HELEN THOMAS
HEARST NEWSPAPERS

WASHINGTON — President Bush has no better friends than the spineless Democratic congressional leadership and the party’s leading presidential candidates when it comes to his failing Iraq policy.

Those Democrats seem to have forgotten that the American people want U.S. troops out of Iraq, especially since Bush still cannot give a credible reason for attacking Iraq after nearly five years of war.

Last week at a debate in Hanover, N.H., the leading Democratic presidential candidates sang from the same songbook: Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York, and Barack Obama of Illinois and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards refused to promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013, at the end of the first term of their hypothetical presidencies. Can you believe it?

When the question was put to Clinton, she reverted to her usual cautious equivocation, saying: “It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting.”

Obama dodged, too: “I think it would be irresponsible” to say what he would do as president.

Edwards, on whom hopes were riding to show some independence, replied to the question: “I cannot make that commitment.”

They have left the voters little choice with those answers.

Some supporters were outraged at the obfuscation by the Democratic front-runners.

On the other hand, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., are more definitive in their calls for quick troop withdrawals.

But Biden wants to break up Iraq into three provinces along religious and ethnic lines. In other words, Balkanize Iraq.

To have major Democratic backing to stay the course in Iraq added up to good news for Bush.

Now comes a surprising Clinton fan.

President Bush told Bill Sammon — Washington Examiner correspondent and author of a new book titled “The Evangelical President” — that Clinton will beat Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination because she is a “formidable candidate” and better known.

Sammon says Bush revealed that he has been sending messages to Clinton to urge her to “maintain some political wiggle room in your campaign rhetoric about Iraq.”

The author said Bush contends that whoever inherits the White House will be faced with a potential vacuum in Iraq and “will begin to understand the need to continue to support the young democracy.”

Bush ought to know about campaign rhetoric. Remember how he ridiculed “nation building” in the 2000 presidential campaign? Now he claims he is trying to spread democracy throughout the Middle East.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is another Democratic leader who has empowered Bush’s war.

Pelosi removed a provision from the most recent war-funding bill that would have required Bush to seek the permission of Congress before launching any attack on Iran. Her spokesman gave the lame excuse that she didn’t like the wording of the provision. More likely, she bowed to political pressure.

Is it any wonder the Democrats are faring lower than the president in a Washington Post ABC approval poll? Bush came in at 33 percent and Congress at 29 percent.

Members of Congress seem to have forgotten their constitutional prerogative to declare war; World War II was the last time Congress formally declared war.

Presidents have found other ways to make end runs around the law, mainly by obtaining congressional authorization “to do whatever is necessary” in a crisis involving use of the military. That’s the way we got into the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

So what are the leading Democratic White House hopefuls offering? It seems nothing but more war. So where do the voters go who are sick of the Iraqi debacle?

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com. Copyright 2007 Hearst Newspapers. On Nov. 3 Thomas will be the guest speaker at the ACLU of Washington’s Bill of Rights Celebration Dinner; for details, contact aclu-wa.org.