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November 15-21, 2006

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The Byrne Report

Hang 'em High

By Peter Byrne

On election night, after CNN's computer proclaimed the Democrats as the majority in the House of Representatives, I was tempted to hope that George Walker Bush's program of reshaping reality through blood-letting will finally be challenged in the halls of power. On Pacifica Radio, Congressman Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, said that he couldn't wait to start issuing subpoenas, using his authority as the new chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform. I began to envisage Dick Cheney wearing chains, Condoleezza Rice in unbelted orange coveralls, Bush reduced to wearing a rumpled, charcoal suit, shouting at his judges in the third person.

And then, inspirationally, as the evening's electoral drama heightened, Britney Spears announced that she is divorcing Kevin Federline. Do not get me wrong: I am not a fan of Spear's bubblegum nor her sexualized narcissism. But I have noticed, over the years, that when Miss Sleaze is done cutting you, you are Mister Squeaky Voice. One can only hope that Congress acts to fire a whole government run by bad rappers with the alacrity of Spears.

Energized by the entwined fates of Federline and Bush, I scooted over to Pazzo restaurant in Petaluma, where congresswoman Lynn Woolsey was hosting a victory celebration. As the flat screen behind the bar twinkled its red and blue message, Woolsey was sanguine. As co-chair of the 60-member Progressive Caucus, she said that she plans to "take bold actions to bring the troops home from Iraq."

While personally favoring complete withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, Woolsey said she would be content with Congressman Jack Murtha's plan to transfer the occupation troops to surrounding countries. While that notion may be called a reasonable compromise on Capitol Hill, I call it nonsense. First of all, the people in the countries surrounding Iraq have no love for American troops, who are abhorred worldwide for their practice of murdering children and torturing prisoners. And installing a ring of steel around Iraq does not address the immediate need to squelch American militarism and to liquidate the Bush doctrine of preemptive nuclear warfare with which America holds the planet hostage. Redeploying troops from Iraq to fight the phony "global war on terror" elsewhere, which is Murtha's plan, is a change in imperial tactics, not strategy.

Every day that our soldiers, tanks and hellfire missiles remain abroad prolongs the suffering of countless Afghanis and Iraqis--650,000 of whom have been killed with Congressional approval--and future victims of American aggression. A truly progressive Caucus would demand that the Democratic Party leadership--especially the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who has supported the Bush wars--immediately pass a law requiring the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East. The Congress must castrate the military-industrial complex, which it can easily do by conducting corruption investigations that are hotly followed by criminal indictments and by slashing military procurement budgets in half.

These laudable actions will most likely be opposed by members of the Shadow Government, which include the publisher and editor of the New York Times. In its first editorial in the wake of the Nov. 7 midterms, the multimedia monolith spun a self-serving analysis of the genesis of America's historic military defeat by the Iraqi people, blaming it all on Donald Rumsfeld. "It's possible that no one could ever have turned the invasion into a success, given the fissures in Iraqi society that the fall of Saddam Hussein have exposed. . . . [Rumsfeld] bought peace with Congress and the military brass by holding down the size of ground forces in order to continue paying the ballooning cost of unnecessary weaponry. He created a . . . mobile force that was too small to successfully pacify Iraq."

Excuse me. Since when did the Times object to Bush's deficit war spending? And how many troops would the Times send to "pacify" Iraq? One million? Two million? A squad of well-armed soldiers stationed in every household with orders to shoot the first kid that crawls? The Times, itself a multinational corporation, has aided and abetted Rumsfeld and Bush for years. It televised and printed reams of obvious government-sourced lies about weapons of mass destruction as facts while withholding damning stories about domestic spying upon Bush's request. It urged policy-makers and the public to support an illegal invasion and brutal occupation that has had nothing to do with freedom, democracy, stability or peace and everything to do with subjugating the Asian and North African subcontinents for Wall Street and Houston.

Therefore, after defunding the war on Iraq, a Democratic Party-controlled House must initiate presidential impeachment proceedings concurrent with audits of corporations with Pentagon contracts and RICO investigations of the owners and editors of the New York Times, the Washington Post and Fox News.

And if the Democrats can't do the job, we'll hire Ms. Spears.

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