FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Justice Deficit

by PIERRE TRISTAM

My wife and I were getting ready to watch a spaghetti western Friday evening (specifically, Sergio Leone’s “My Name Is Nobody,” the Henry Fonda-Terence Hill masterpiece from 1973). A last check of the headlines suggested that something at least equally entertaining was happening at that moment in Congress. We turned to C-Span. Sure enough, the House of Representatives, a spaghetti debating club on its best days (congressmen’s rhetoric being generally thin, their motives stringy and their intellect al dente), had gone smack down. The name-calling was flying. The lies were dueling. The shame was sticking to everyone. Why? Because one of their most respected conservative members had suggested that it was time to redeploy America’s collective head out of Iraq’s sands.

John P. Murtha is barely a Democrat. Elected to the House in 1974 in a conservative district held by Republicans going back to 1936, he’s a Republican’s Democrat — farther to the right on many issues, including abortion, flag-desecration and the death penalty, than moderate Republicans. Republican presidents going back to Ronald Reagan have used him to sway Democrats their way. So, when he speaks, he’s like John Houseman in the old E.F. Hutton commercials: The House listens.

Last week, Murtha pulled a Fulbright — as in William Fulbright, the Arkansas Democrat of the 1950s and ’60s whose book, the “Arrogance of Power,” had been partly inspired by another president deceiving him into voting in favor of a war resolution on false pretenses: “Many Senators who accepted the Gulf of Tonkin resolution without question might well not have done so,” he wrote, “had they foreseen that it would subsequently be interpreted as a sweeping Congressional endorsement for the conduct of a large-scale war in Asia.” It is beginning to dawn on a few members of Congress, three years too late, that they, too, were deceived into endorsing the Iraqi crusade, although the deception was self-inflicted. It was no mystery even in 2003 that the Bush administration was a kitchen-cabinet full of half-baked chefs glazing facts, cooking books, icing doubters and boiling dissenters alive. Yet Congress chose to swallow the administration’s words like some factoid from Mount Sina! i: Thou Shalt Not Question.

In an epic 6,500-word story on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times described the extent to which the CIA based its entire “proof” that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons on a low-level engineer who’d graduated last in his class, been fired from his government job in Baghdad in 1995, drove a taxi, was accused of a sex crime, escaped to Germany in 1999 and fabricated his way to all-expenses-paid asylum by pretending to have seen bio-weapons operations firsthand — all lies the German secret service, the United Nations and some of the CIA’s own analysts discredited before the war. But then-CIA director George Tenet wasn’t interested in conveying the internal debates to the president, nor was the president, who wanted his war, interested in hearing them. And Congress didn’t ask questions when handed the gruel the Bush administration called evidence.

Embarrassing? No. Lawmakers getting caught smoking crack in a Vegas whorehouse is embarrassing. Lawmakers endorsing a counterfeit war that has killed almost 2,100 American soldiers and more than 30,000 Iraqis, that will soon have cost more than the entirety of the Vietnam War, that has no end in sight and that keeps being defended, by most of those very lawmakers, as a battle protecting American freedom and birthing Iraqi democracy (the two biggest lies of this poison-ridden war) — those things aren’t embarrassing; they’re criminal. Yet, the most revolting aspect of Friday evening’s display in Congress was both parties’ wrangle over saving face or piling on the white-man’s-burden chauvinism. And passing on the bill to the public.

The Iraq war has cost $250 billion, so far. It’s costing us $6 billion a month in military spending alone. The budget deficit is running at more than $300 billion. On the same day that representatives called war-doubters “cowards” looking to “cut and run,” here’s what the same House gave America by means of a Thanksgiving turkey, in the name of that war: a $746 million cut in food stamps and tighter eligibility rules for families and immigrants; a $4.9 billion cut in child support enforcement programs; an $8.9 billion cut in Medicaid, the health-care program for children and the poor, including rules that will make it more difficult for the elderly to qualify for nursing home coverage; and a $14 billion cut in student aid programs. That’s over the next five years. On top of that, the House approved a two-year extension of a lavish tax cut for stock market investors. Then it went on vacation. Speaking of cutting and running.

This is what passes for democracy. This is what we’re exporting. No wonder no one is buying. America’s justice-deficit is now its grossest domestic product.

PIERRE TRISTAM is a News-Journal editorial writer and author of Candide’s Notebooks . Reach him at ptristam@att.net.

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail