No war with Iraq

Smarting from setbacks at the United Nations, the Republican Party has launched a desperate campaign to regain the political initiative. In elections across the country GOP congressional candidates are beating the war drums faster and louder in an effort to make war with Iraq the defining issue in this year’s elections.

Senate races in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota are prime targets in the GOP drive to regain control of both houses of Congress by knocking off Tim Johnson, Tom Harkin or Paul Wellstone – or better still, all three – by playing up the fact the trio voted against Congressional approval of the Gulf War in 1990.

Reduced to its simplest terms the issue is a no brainer: Do we waste billions of dollars – current estimates say 200 billion – on a war with Iraq or do we spend them to create jobs, to provide universal health care, to train more teachers or on a prescription drug plan under Medicare? One thing is certain – we can’t do both.

We are not surprised by the GOP’s decision. After all, if you can get away with stealing an election, concocting the lies and half-truths to justify war with Iraq is easy.

Recent polls have shown that voters are concerned about domestic problems – that, as the Wall Street Journal says, “Economic anxiety trumps war talk,” a fact underscored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) who says communications with her office are overwhelmingly against attacking Iraq.

“Any talk of war is morally wrong,” Lee said. “A military strike should not be authorized by Congress.” Although Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against intervention in Afghanistan, others like Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) say their support of intervention was wrong.

The task before us is as simple as it is urgent: Congress must put handcuffs on the Bush/

Cheney/Rumsfeld gang. The surest way to do that is to flood their telephones and e-mail with the demand, “No war with Iraq. Give peace a chance!”

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Happy Birthday

The Constitution, signed Sept. 17, 1787, was subject to a rigorous debate in the newly born United States of America. Out of the debate came guarantees that were enshrined in the Bill of Rights, protecting the people from a tyrannical government.

But the Constitution, radical and progressive as it was, also gave birth to a nation divided against itself: divided between freedom and slavery, with the right to vote and hold elected office limited to propertied white males.

Today, 215 years after ratification – and many battles – the democratic rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights have been strengthened: A bloody Civil War abolished slavery and gave us the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. Women won the right to vote with the 19th amendment in 1920. The Poll Tax was repealed by the 24th amendment in 1964. Eighteen-year-olds, although drafted to serve in the U.S. military, couldn’t vote until 1971 and the 26th amendment.

These reforms were won in the fires of class and social struggles.

Once again today, the sons and daughters of past generations uniting with our country’s many new arrivals, are engaged in a titanic battle to save and expand the revolutionary essence of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, to save it from a new form of tyranny – not a tyranny of Britain’s King George or slavocracy, but the tyranny of corporations and the Bush Administration who thumb their noses at the Bill of Rights and trample on the rights of all the people, including the right to live in peace.

Under cover of the Sept. 11 tragedy, they push their agenda without regard to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness no matter one’s race, nationality, gender, religion, citizenship-status, sexual orientation or ability.

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” will stand up to such tyranny and demand our economic, civil, environmental and human rights – to ensure universal tranquility and equality.

Happy Birthday, U.S. Constitution.

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