While a bloody and costly war raged in Iraq, while such domestic needs as health care and infrastructure repair are crying for attention, while state governments are so strapped that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re slashing even basic servicesÃ¢â‚¬”youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be thrilled to know that our stalwart congressional leaders, By Gollies, have stepped up and delivered! Delivered what to whom? Delivered a $726 billion giveaway from our public treasury to the richest people in America.
Yes, the Republican-led congress that has refused to debate something as profound as the declaration of war in Iraq, has found the time to ram through an obscene grant of much-needed tax dollars to the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s least needy and most frivolous people.
The vote in the house came at 3 a.m. and passed on a party-line vote just hours after George W. launched his Iraq attack. Even some Republican members were gagging on this sickening giveaway, so GOP leaders wrapped it in the flag, saying that it was “crucial” not to hand an embarrassing legislative defeat to Bush at the outset of the war.
Later that same day, the senate passed its version of BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tax scam, with one little twist. Senator Russ Feingold offered an amendment to take $100 billion from the rich peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s windfall and set it aside to cover the cost of the Iraqi warÃ¢â‚¬”and it passed. Incredibly, the White House is maneuvering to get the House-Senate conference committee to drop FeingoldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s patriotic war-funding provision and hand the full $726 billion to the wealthy. After all, they shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to give up any of their tax break just because of a little olÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ war, should they?
What an embarrassing moment for American patriotism.
In this Alice-in-Wonderlandish age of “pre-emptive wars,” there are many absurdities, but none more embarrassing than the pathetic performance of our congressional leadership. There is no decision more significant for a Congress than warÃ¢â‚¬” all the more so when the president appears to be making war on executive whim. War is not a mere “policy,” it is a decision by elites to send other peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s youngsters off to kill and be killed. So where is our congress? Cowering, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where. Hiding from its duty and ethical responsibility to the men and women killing and dying. The Constitution is plain: “Congress shall declare war.” Not the president. Only Congress. But the Congress has run from such a declaration. Worse, the leaders (so-called) have refused even to debate this most momentous decision.
The good news is that a strong minority in Congress is also appalled by the AWOL leadershipÃ¢â‚¬”an outspoken minority that ranges from such conservatives as Robert Byrd and Ron Paul to such liberals as Russ Feingold and John Conyers. Senator Mark Dayton recently noted that the Senate had just spent 100 hours debating a judicial nomination. “Compare that 100 hours with the number of hours weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve spent this year discussing and debating a declaration of war before commencing a war,” he said. “Zero. Not one hour. Not one minute.” Noting that the defense secretary had declared that “we are entering what may prove to be the most dangerous security environment the world has known,” Senator Dayton pointed out that Congress has responded with nothing: “In the midst of this ominous, dangerous, fateful time, the 108th session of the United States Senate devoted no time to debate or discussion.” To read DaytonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s challenge go to http://dayton.senate.gov.
OUR “LEADERS” HAVE COME UNGLUED
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time to say the obvious: The Bushites are insane. From George W. on down, their behavior toward the world, toward our basic liberties, and toward the real needs of AmericaÃ¢â‚¬”is delusional and maniacal. Start with GeorgeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s war. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lost in a fantasy of Messianic Mission. Bush thinks heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s righteous and that only God and he see the righteousness of his war wrath. His delusions of grandeur are fueled by the likes of Donnie Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon. These two are bull-goose loopy, driven to their “world domination doctrine” by an unbalanced and toxic load of bile and testosterone. Watch them on TV; they reek of hubris.
Meanwhile, when John Ashcroft holds his press conferences to announce that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s throttled yet another of our essential democratic freedoms in the name of “securing freedom,” his face glistens like heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s experiencing some combo of religious rapture and orgasmic release. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s creepy. Likewise, the BushitesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ economic policies are further out than Pluto, having long passed the reality layer. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re loading up future generations with trillions of dollars in deficits while they shovel ever more money to the rich and into the war machine, at a time when weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in the longest continuous stretch of job decline since World War II. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time for AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s true conservatives to step forward and make an intervention, for the Bushites are rabidly building empire and autocracy in the name of “conservatism.” These people need professional help.
Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit www.jimhightower.com. To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900.