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.

 

 

February 10, 2016
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: the Primaries Begin
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail