Stark-Raving…Sane?


I for one am not going to lament the departure of Charles Rangel from the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee for ethics violations. I mean, I don’t know how you can excuse someone who somehow failed to report $75,000 in rental income from a villa in the Dominican Republic (here), to say nothing of benefiting from four rent-stabilized apartments in upper Manhattan (here), even though I believe Joe Conason asks a good question here.

However, I felt bound to point out something concerning Pete Stark, one of the senior House Dems passed over for Rangel’s old spot in favor of Sander Levin of Michigan, who will take over for Rangel as Ways and Means chairman (here). And I was spurred on by this wishful-thinking-of-a-Repug-congressional-takeover-this-fall column by GOP strategist John Feehery at The Hill, in which he also declares that Stark is “certifiable.”

I’ll admit that I have to wonder also about someone who contemplated peeing on the leg of a constituent, as well as blaming “Jew colleagues” for the first Iraq war. And as much as I detest Bushco, I would never suggest that they were ever amused by the death and injury of any of our service members as Stark did (I just think the Bush regime, in its totality, were nothing but a bunch of avaricious pirates in search of any plunder they could find any way they would get it, performing their dark deeds while our corporate media stenographers were duly cowed into submission over the evergreen charge of “liberal bias”).

But if you’re going to consider all of that about Stark (who served in the Air Force from 1955 to 1957, it should be noted), then I think you consider the following also; this is Stark’s statement in opposition to the Authorization to Use Military Force in 2002, which of course led to the debacle in Mesopotamia from which we are still trying to extricate ourselves…

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this resolution (authorizing military force against Iraq). I am deeply troubled that lives may be lost without a meaningful attempt to bring Iraq into compliance with U.N. resolutions through careful and cautious diplomacy.

The bottom line is I don’t trust this president and his advisors.

Make no mistake, we are voting on a resolution that grants total authority to the president, who wants to invade a sovereign nation without any specific act of provocation. This would authorize the United States to act as the aggressor for the first time in our history. It sets a precedent for our nation — or any nation — to exercise brute force anywhere in the world without regard to international law or international consensus.

Congress must not walk in lockstep behind a president who has been so callous to proceed without reservation, as if war was of no real consequence.

You know, three years ago in December, Molly Ivins, an observer of Texas politics, wrote: “For an upper-class white boy, Bush comes on way too hard. At a guess, to make up for being an upper-class white boy. Somebody,” she said, “should be worrying about how all this could affect his handling of future encounters with some Saddam Hussein.”

How prophetic, Ms. Ivins.

Let us not forget that our president — our commander in chief — has no experience with, or knowledge of, war. In fact, he admits that he was at best ambivalent about the Vietnam War. He skirted his own military service and then failed to serve out his time in the National Guard. And, he reported years later that at the height of that conflict in 1968 he didn’t notice ‘any heavy stuff going on.’

So we have a president who thinks foreign territory is the opponent’s dugout and Kashmir is a sweater.

What is most unconscionable is that there is not a shred of evidence to justify the certain loss of life. Do the generalized threats and half-truths of this administration give any one of us in Congress the confidence to tell a mother or father or family that the loss of their child or loved one was in the name of a just cause?

Is the president’s need for revenge for the threat once posed to his father enough to justify the death of any American?

I submit the answer to these questions is no.

Aside from the wisdom of going to war as Bush wants, I am troubled by who pays for his capricious adventure into world domination. The administration admits to a cost of around $200 billion!

Now, wealthy individuals won’t pay. They’ve got big tax cuts already. Corporations won’t pay. They’ll cook the books and move overseas and then send their contributions to the Republicans. Rich kids won’t pay. Their daddies will get them deferments as Big George did for George W.

Well then, who will pay?

School kids will pay. There’ll be no money to keep them from being left behind — way behind. Seniors will pay. They’ll pay big time as the Republicans privatize Social Security and rob the Trust Fund to pay for the capricious war. Medicare will be curtailed and drugs will be more unaffordable. And there won’t be any money for a drug benefit because Bush will spend it all on the war.

Working folks will pay through loss of job security and bargaining rights. Our grandchildren will pay through the degradation of our air and water quality. And the entire nation will pay as Bush continues to destroy civil rights, women’s rights and religious freedom in a rush to phony patriotism and to courting the messianic Pharisees of the religious right.

The questions before the members of this House and to all Americans are immense, but there are clear answers. America is not currently confronted by a genuine, proven, imminent threat from Iraq. The call for war is wrong.

And what greatly saddens me at this point in our history is my fear that this entire spectacle has not been planned for the well-being of the world, but for the short-term political interest of our president.

Now, I am also greatly disturbed that many Democratic leaders have also put political calculation ahead of the president’s accountability to truth and reason by supporting this resolution. But, I conclude that the only answer is to vote no on the resolution before us.

Now you tell me who’s crazy here and who isn’t.

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