To take back Congress, take a page from Karl Rove

It’s all too coincidental. The former vice president of the United States of America draws considerable media coverage when he charges the current president is a threat to the republic and calls for a special, independent investigator to probe spying and other possible crimes against the American people.

Four days later headlines blare that Osama bin Laden has surfaced again. After a year and a half of absence from the public eye, what is purported to be his voice mentions falling public opinion polls for Bush, cites Rep. Murtha’s call to end the occupation as a reason the president is weakened, and throws in mention of a “truce.” Simultaneously, a new terrorist attack strikes Israel — quickly blamed on Syria and Iran, two of the Bush administration’s current foes. The fear coursing through the U.S. public’s mind quickens.

The next day, Karl Rove, that king of political slime and current object of a criminal investigation, comes out with the GOP “road map” to victory for the 2006 congressional elections.

In a speech before the Republican National Committee, Rove projects the same strategy that brought them victory in 2004: attack the Democrats on terrorism and national security. The return of the fear factor.

“The United States faces a ruthless enemy, and we need a commander in chief and a Congress who understand the nature of the threat and the gravity of the moment America finds itself in,” Rove said. “President Bush and the Republican Party do. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many Democrats.”

Well, for all who have an interest in booting out the Bushites from their control of Congress, it’s time to take a page from Rove’s playbook: the best defense is a good offense.

• The terrorism fear factor is their strong suit. So let’s take it on. Republican policies have created an endless cycle of violence. No one is safe from it. Terrorist attacks have increased around the world since Bush declared his “war on terror” and invaded Iraq without cause.

To end terrorism as we know it requires international cooperation to isolate those forces. But how secure can the U.S. be when an endless cycle of violence threatens to engulf the world, especially with the renewed war threats against Iran?

Despite billions of taxpayer dollars, there is no homeland security. Major cities have no evacuation plans for emergencies, as Hurricane Katrina plainly showed. Thousands of U.S. soldiers are dead and wounded for a lie, along with many more thousands Iraqis. Withdrawing the troops is not “cut and run.” It’s ending the cycle of violence.

• Stand up for the freedom to earn, learn and live. The Republican Congress has spent trillions propping up corporate, banking and private interests, increasing the Pentagon budget and ballooning the deficit. Poverty and joblessness have grown — and no wonder, with budget cuts to helpful government programs like Medicaid, student aid and Head Start in order to pay for trillions in tax breaks to the super-wealthy. Ordinary people suffer. More than 45 million go without health care, jobless rates soar in the African American community, public schools are under attack, and extremist religious interests assault science education. Immigrants, who come to the U.S. out of necessity, are scapegoated and targeted by racist groups. Pensions are stolen, worker health and safety slide back to 19th-century conditions and privatization of public resources, from Social Security to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for private exploitation are all on the GOP agenda.

To stop this wholesale theft of centuries of progress and democratic rights, Congress has to stand up for the freedom to earn, learn and live. Put people to work rebuilding the Gulf Coast and the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and reversing dangerous environmental degradation — not with the corruption of private interests, but with public works jobs. Massive job creation with livable wages will boost sagging economies across the country. The freedom to learn, earn and live means passing the Employee Free Choice Act, raising the minimum wage and addressing racism and inequality with real remedies. It also means keeping government out of people’s private lives — from who you love to when you chose to have children.

• Congress has to bring back law and order to the nation’s capital. Ultra-right Republican rule has created a culture of crime, corruption and incompetence. The Abramoff-connected corporate lobbyists on K Street are the current high profile case. But the criminal feeding frenzy dates back to the reign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose “Contract on America” opened the Capitol Hill floodgates for corporations to come in and start writing laws and regulations.

• With the White House, Congress and possibly the Supreme Court under ultra-right Republican control, checks and balances have gone out the window and the president thinks he is above the law. Democrats have to take back Congress from Republican control to restore the checks and balances that our forefathers (and mothers) saw as the foundation of our government.

Probably some will cringe at the thought of using terms like “law and order.” Personally, given the organized crime bosses that wield government control today, I want a law and order Congress to prosecute the Republicans’ culture of crime, guarantee no one puts himself above the law, and restore the system of checks and balances. We need a Congress that fights for the rights of the people and the freedom to earn, learn and live.

Terrie Albano (talbano@pww.org) is editor of the People’s Weekly World.