cowards in the U.S. Senate wouldn't be put on the record as
having voted in favor of the $87 billion appropriation for
waging war on Iraq – they preferred a
voice vote. When it came time to speak out, very few were
actually in the Senate chambers, and the muttered assent of
these few stragglers was put to shame by the stentorian "Nay!"
of Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) – the last man with
any balls in the U.S. Senate. The New York Times reported
voice vote took place late this afternoon, with only a few
senators in the chamber. Although the voice vote allowed for
passage without any negative votes being officially recorded,
the approval took place over the conspicuously shouted 'no'
of Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, one of the few
lawmakers in the chamber."
speech excoriating what he called "a monument to failure,"
Senator Byrd took on the "support the troops" contingent with
typical acerbity, pointing out that "endorsing and funding
a policy that does nothing to relieve American troops in Iraq
is not a 'support the troops' measure."
vote no was to support the troops against the suicidal policies
of their civilian overseers, which, at nearly that very moment,
were unfolding in Iraq: the U.S. Headquarters itself, in the
supposedly sacrosanct "Green
Zone," came under attack from Iraqi
insurgents. Byrd pledged to "fight for a coherent policy that
brings real help – not just longer deployments and
empty sloganeering – to American forces in Iraq."
dig about the longer deployments hits the War Party where
it really hurts, for nothing unnerves them more than dissent
in the ranks and it is rife.
I am very pleased to note that the recent antiwar demonstrations
in Washington had military personnel and their families in
the very front ranks of the march. Our top
generals and other military experts were early
and very vocal
opponents of this war, correctly
warning that the real battle wouldn't begin until after
Saddam had been defeated. Now a new enemy arises from the
desert sands of Iraq, a nationalist insurgency that grows
more violent and more widespread with each passing day.
the eve of the war's deadliest
day so far, Congress voted to fund a policy that was falling
apart even before the final vote was taken. That should tell
us everything we need to know about our elected representatives.
If Byrd is the last sane man in the Senate, it isn't much
better in the House, where the supposedly anti-war Democrats
were split roughly down the middle, with 82 yeas and 115 nays.
Of all the Democratic presidential swarm, only Dennis Kucinich came out in opposition to the
War Party's boondoggle.
interestingly, 5 heroic Republicans went on the record as
opposing their leaders' folly. Those sneering Europeans who
think Texas is synonymous with Bushian warmongering should
know that Rep. Ron
Paul (R-Texas), one of the Fearless Five, is the single
most consistent antiwar voice in the House.
Paul represents the Old Republican Right of Robert
A. Taft, then Bryd, on the other hand, represents the
populist pre-Rooseveltian spirit of the Democratic party,
as embodied in, say, the staunchly anti-imperialist William
Jennings Bryan. Together, these two currents – a majority
in the general population – represented no more than 25
percent of the final House vote. This is what is means to
be a "democracy," the joys of which we're exporting to Iraq.
war has reached a turning point politically as well as militarily.
In a poll
taken before the disastrous downing
of a Chinook helicopter, in which 16 American soldiers were
killed, for the first time a majority of Americans opposed
U.S. policy in Iraq. The antiwar movement needs to mobilize
that sentiment behind a clear and concrete proposal to get
which is supposed to be the "voice of the people," is, instead,
the instrument of war profiteers,
special interest groups, and an administration
that has been hijacked
by a piratical
band of war-maddened
ideologues. Democracy, which the neocons want to impose at
gunpoint throughout the Middle East, is failing. The U.S.
Congress just isn't cutting it, as this shameful capitulation
to the imperial Presidency demonstrates beyond doubt..
we powerless, then, to stop America's headlong rush off a
precipice? It may be that our fate is to end up in the abyss
of Empire, but we still have a very long way to fall. The
American political elites are corrupt, and power-mad, but
is not yet imbued in the popular psyche – the fatal flaw in
Roman, British, and Euro-continental political culture. The
most powerful weapon in the antiwar arsenal is the anti-imperialist
legacy of the Founders of this country: their spirit lives
on in the American heartland.
yes, there is hope, but the hour grows late. The neoconservative cabal that has
seized the White House, occupied the commanding heights of
the Department of Defense and the intelligence community,
and pulled off a virtual coup d'etat, isn't going to
give up power without a fight. Their newest line – or, rather,
their latest reiteration of an old mantra – is that we have
to "fight them in the streets of Baghdad so we don't have
to fight them in the streets of New York," as New York Governor
George Pataki put it on MSNBC's "Buchanan
& Press" the other day.
we are fighting them in the streets of New York, and
every other American city – at least, one hopes so
and that's where the real war has to be waged. A whopping
70 percent of Americans opposed
spending $87 billion on fixing Iraq's schools and jump-starting
their state-owned oil companies. One wonders if they would
oppose this same sum spent on securing our borders and improving
"good news," this administration's amen corner insists, is
that the schools of Iraq are open. But what about the very
bad news that a young prankster can smuggle
box-cutters aboard a jetliner – are we supposed to pretend
that it's not happening? Instead of arresting that kid, they
ought to give him a medal – along with that wacky guy who
got himself shipped in a
box from New York to Dallas. If a person hiding in a box
could make it through "security" undetected, then why couldn't
a "dirty nuke" get through?
IN THE MARGIN
SULLIVAN, DRAMA QUEEN In
my last "Notes in the Margin"
(scroll down), I noted the publication of a comprehensive
piece in Scotland's Sunday Herald, in which the story of Israel's close surveillance
of the 9/11 hijackers is detailed. Andrew Sullivan, writing
in his blog, also took
note. With his usual disregard for facts and objective
analysis, Sullivan extracted what he called "the money quote"
preceded by a typically ridiculous subhead: "The Left and
Anti-Semitism." The "money quote" consists of a reiteration
of the known facts: that 5 Israelis were arrested on 9/11
after witnesses saw them dancing with joy at the sight of
the burning World Trade Center. As Herald writer Neil
Mackay put it:
discovery and arrest that morning is a matter of indisputable
fact. To those who have investigated just what the Israelis
were up to that day, the case raises one dreadful possibility:
that Israeli intelligence had been shadowing the al-Qaeda
hijackers as they moved from the Middle East through Europe
and into America where they trained as pilots and prepared
to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the United States."
doesn't dispute the facts. He doesn't bother to deal with
any facts. As a propagandist, he deals in emotions: Sullivan's
aim is not to convince but to manipulate. So he writes:
really is happening again. (While on the subject, check out
Natan Sharansky's take on anti-Semitism in the new Commentary.)"
is 'happening again" is that Sullivan is deluding himself,
but hardly anyone else. We are not supposed to ask why
it is "anti-Semitism" to raise the perfectly logical possibility
that Israel's notoriously efficient intelligence service could
have been watching the hijackers. I would question the motives
of someone who did so in the absence of any evidence; but
there is plenty of credible evidence, which the author of
the Herald piece cites, none of which is mentioned
by Sullivan. It's unconscionable that a reporter who brings
up inconvenient facts about Israel's role in the events
leading up to 9/11 is smeared by Sullivan as a
readers of this column, the material covered by Mackay is
nothing new. This aspect of the 9/11 story has also been extensively
covered by Fox News, Salon,
the BBC, Die Zeit, Le Monde, and all the
major news services. ABC's 20/20 news magazine did
segment on the dancing Israelis and their probable connection
to Israeli intelligence. But there is one very interesting
new detail in the Herald piece about what was found
in the possession of the 5 arrested Israelis, aside from $4700
in cash, foreign passports, and a pair of box cutters:
were also fresh pictures of the men standing with the smoldering
wreckage of the Twin Towers in the background. One image showed
a hand flicking a lighter in front of the devastated buildings,
like a fan at a pop concert."
very telling detail, I would say, one that helps explain the
remark of the driver of the Israelis' van, who told the arresting
are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our
problems. The Palestinians are the problem."
Sharon couldn't have said it better himself.
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