Here's a modest proposal. Let's start a Coalition of the Rational to take back our country from this radical rightwing Administration. After all, these are times when true conservatives are as concerned as liberal Democrats about the damage being done to our democracy and international credibility as a result of manipulated intelligence, preemptive war policy and arrogant unilateralism.
The coalition could bring together a broad, transpartisan group of concerned citizens--from Goldwater-style conservatives, Rockefeller Republicans and former State Department and intelligence officials, to progressive Democrats and religious, labor and student leaders--to mobilize Americans in informed opposition to the Bush Administration's undermining of US security in our name.
Here are some nominations for charter members of the Coalition of the Rational:
In my debate with Dick Armey on Hardball last Thursday night, the former House majority leader and current MSNBC consultant was obsessed with presidential lies and impeachment--that is, President Bill Clinton's lies and impeachment. But, as I pointed out, Clinton may have lied in office but no one died--and Congress impeached him.
Meanwhile, Bush and his Administration have lied, many have died and the majority of Congress treats it as business-as-usual. I wonder if the families of the 212 soldiers killed thus far in Iraq are as offended by Armey's statements as I am. I know that scores of Nation readers and cable viewers are--many e-mailed me after watching the segment, expressing disgust with Armey's refusal to hold Bush accountable for deceiving the public.
...And Rumsfeld's Flailing
Have you heard about the Restore Freedom of Information Act? Support it--If you care about our democracy. Since October 2001, when Attorney General John Ashcroft reversed longstanding Freedom of Information Act policies, this poster child of good government legislation, which provided citizens with broad access to FBI records which previously had been severely limited, has been under severe assault.
So comprehensive is the Bush Administration's systematic attack that the presidents of twenty major journalists' organizations declared in a joint statement that Ashcroft's "restrictions pose dangers to American democracy and prevent American citizens from obtaining the information they need."
The Restore FOIA Act, recently introduced by Senators Leahy, Levin, Jeffords, Lieberman and Byrd, would restore protection for so-called federal whistleblowers, allow state and local "sunshine" disclosure laws to use information obtained from government agencies, and allow civil litigation against companies to use this information. But times are such that, as the ombudsman for the Freedom Forum says, "many in Congress are reluctant to challenge the administration" on security.
When it was proposed during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that the sole power "to make war" be vested in the Congress, the measure carried overwhelmingly. Only one delegate favored granting the authority to the executive branch, South Carolina's Pierce Butler and his proposal was greeted with horror by his fellow delegates. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts said he "never expected to hear in a republic a motion to empower the Executive alone to declare war." George Mason of Virginia explained that he was against empowering a president to declare war because an individual could "not be trusted with it." Charles Pinckney of South Carolina closed the debate by declaring, "In a democratic republic, it is essential that the decision to go to war be made by the most broadly representative body: the legislative."
Fully conscious of the threat that an executive bent on illegitimate warmaking could pose to the republic, the founders took great care to structure a governing system based on checks and balances. The Congress was charged with the task of declaring wars; the president, as commander-in-chief, was given the power to pursue military action.
Each of those duties came with profound responsibilities. The Congress was required to analyze all the arguments for sending American troops into combat, review the costs and consider the long-term diplomatic, political and moral consequences of so serious a decision. The president's role, as head of the executive branch, was to serve as a guide and a resource -- providing insights on the best approach and assuring that the legislative branch had the information in needed to determine whether war is necessary.
A former US ambassador says Cheney and others knew the alleged Iraq uranium purchase was baseless long before Bush used it in his State of the Union speech
The American people have already changed the character of the debate over media consolidation and monopoly. Now, they may well be on the verge of winning a historically unprecedented victory in Congress. Many thought the FCC's 3-2 vote on June 2 permitting media conglomerates to own more TV stations in every market and nationally, as well as permitting the same firm to own multiple TV stations, the daily newspaper, and multiple radio stations in the same community -- the dreaded cross-ownership -- settled the matter.
Now it appears dissenting FCC members Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein hit the nail on the head when they said the June 2 vote was so deeply absurd and corrupt -- it was payback time for the huge media conglomerates that traditionally have their way with regulators -- that it would provoke an onslaught of public outrage that would not recede until the FCC's changes were overturned.
How much public outrage? It is arguable that more Americans want to see Osama bin Laden's bust enshrined on Mount Rushmore than wish to allow fewer and fewer media companies the right to gobble up what remains of our media system.
What's it come to when Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the role of commander-in-chief and the US President acts like the Terminator? On his fourth of July USO tour of Baghdad, Schwarzengger braved fierce heat to "pump up" and praise US service people for their efforts in Iraq. Meanwhile, and on the same day that one Marine was killed and three were injured while clearing mines in Iraq, Bush taunted insurgent Iraqis Terminator-style from the comfort of his air-conditioned offices.
"Bring 'em on," he said, asserting that US forces are "plenty tough" to deal with the now daily deadly attacks being waged guerilla-style against US occupation forces throughout Iraq. Some newspapers called Bush's challenge "colorful." Senator Frank Lautenberg, a decorated World War II army vet, called his remarks "tantamount to inciting and inviting more attacks against US forces."
Bush's macho rhetoric is only the latest example of the arrogant and irresponsible attitude of a President who should show more respect for the brave men and women he has asked to die for a lie. And all Americans--whether supporters or opponents of the war--should be concerned that Bush's immature rhetoric is inflaming an already dangerous situation for US forces on the ground. What's next from the Terminator President? Hasta la Vista, Saddam.
For the first time in Salvadoran history, a new union is bringing together workers from the country's phone companies, Internet sector, radio and TV stations, and newspapers and magazines. The organization, known as SITCOM, calls itself a "social-movement union," determined to fight for the rights of consumers as well as workers.
Founded in March, SITCOM seeks to work with both grassroots groups and the opposition FMLN political party to resist further privatizations in the communications industry and to revise the privatizations that have already taken place.
The neoliberal Salvadoran government of President Francisco Flores Perez has resisted the union at every step, throwing legal roadblocks in the way of its organizing campaigns that make the GOP gutting of US labor laws look positively worker-friendly. The Ministry of Labor eventually refused to recognize SITCOM and issued a proclamation invalidating the formation of the union, citing unspecified technical reasons. Since then, Minister of Labor Jorge Nieto has refused union leaders' repeated requests for a meeting. Now, the Salvadoran government has publicly released the previously secret list of workers who signed the documents of incorporation, fostering fears of reprisals.
Although the laboriously negotiated and long-delayed Middle East "road map" received a diplomatic boost by the recent intervention of George W. Bush, the plan is replete with the same structural flaws that doomed the Oslo Accords.
In the final days of Rudy Giuliani's term as mayor of New York, three
months after the heroism of 9/11, he quietly approved a politically
wired project to build twenty-five multimillion-dollar
Benjamin Elijah Mays--devout Christian minister, uncompromising advocate
for justice, career educator and longtime president of Morehouse College
in Atlanta--was called the "Schoolmaster of the