There’s still time

Two recent reports from the Census Bureau shed additional light on why the Bush administration seeks to turn public attention from the economy to concern about whether or not Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction that justify a preemptive military strike against Iraq. The Pentagon estimates the cost of such a war at $200 billion.

Meanwhile, according to the Bureau, both the number and the proportion of Americans living in poverty increased last year for the first time in eight years, the number of people without health insurance increased by 1.4 million and the gap between rich and poor widened.

And there’s more: 1.5 million workers have been unemployed for six months or longer; nearly a million workers have exhausted their 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits and the extended benefits enacted in March. Bankruptcies are up, foreclosures on home mortgages are at 30-year highs and the value of families’ stock and mutual fund holdings has declined by nearly a trillion dollars since June.

All are painful testimony to the economic policies of the present resident of the White House – and none will improve if the right wing strengthens its grip on Congress by winning control of the Senate on Nov. 5.

Jobs, health care, decent education, prescription drugs, protection of the environment and the elimination of poverty are national questions requiring national solutions. As such, they will require congressional action – and those solutions will not be forthcoming if Trent Lott becomes Senate Majority Leader.

Our language is replete with phrases referring to politics and elections: Tip O’Neill’s, “All politics is local,” or “the only vote that counts is cast on Election Day.” There are others, but we think Yogi Berra said it best: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

That’s how we feel about this year’s elections. By the time you read this there’ll be barely four short weeks until Election Day. But that’s four weeks in which to ring doorbells, make phone calls and do the nitty-gritty that, in the final analysis, wins elections.

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Murder incorporated

The White House plumbed new depths of gangsterism Oct. 1 when George W. Bush’s press secretary, Ari Fleischer, suggested that assassination would be a cost-effective way of eliminating Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. “The cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less” than removing Hussein through a full-fledged U.S. invasion, he said.

He attempted to hide his call for murder by suggesting that it be carried out by Iraqis. But that is nothing new. The CIA has often recruited underworld hit men or assassins of foreign nationality to give the covert agency “plausible deniability.”

Assassination as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy was exposed in 1975 in hearings conducted by Senator Frank Church and his Select Committee on Intelligence. The CIA plotted the successful assassination of Congolese Premier Patrice Lumumba, and Vietnamese puppet leader Ngo Dinh Diem. Their attempts to murder Cuban President Fidel Castro stretched over decades. And there is disturbing evidence of “blowback” implicating the CIA and the FBI in assassinations here at home, such as President John F. Kennedy. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.

Sen. Church urged enactment of a federal statute barring assassinations. Powerful Cold War proponents of what they call “executive action” blocked it. However, every president since Gerald Ford has upheld an Executive Order barring assassinations. Until George W. Bush, that is.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that the CIA is once again contemplating covert missions. The Bush administration concluded that executive orders banning assassinations did not prevent the president from lawfully singling out a terrorist for death.

Just give the word “terrorist” an inclusive definition, and they can find an excuse to terminate anyone who stands in their way.

Fleischer’s call for assassination gives a menacing new twist to Bush’s vow of imposing a “regime change” on Iraq “by any means necessary.” This is a White House out of control, flouting every principle of decency, morality or international law.

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