Election is setback for

Republican Michael Bloomberg eked out victory in the New York mayoral race using $60 million of his own fortune, and exploiting the weaknesses of Mark Green’s campaign and divisions among the Democrats. Bloomberg’s win was the exception to the rule in elections across the nation.

Republican Bret Schundler was defeated in a landslide in New Jersey, and the GOP also lost control of the State Assembly there for the first time in a decade; Republican extremist Mark Earley was defeated in his race for governor of Virginia.

Despite Bush administration efforts to use Sept. 11 to confuse and divide, the election suggests that working people still believe the most urgent issues facing the country are living wage jobs, health care, public education, prescription drugs under Medicare, the preservation of Social Security – and an end to terrorism. The message of the election is that these human needs must not be sacrificed in the name of “fighting terrorism.”

Perhaps there is a dawning among voters that, under the cover of “fighting terrorism,” the people are being fleeced by the Bush administration and Congress, which is even now ramming through $100 billion in additional tax giveaways to big business and the rich.

Bush has already signed the repressive Ashcroft “anti-terrorism” bill. He has an energy plan waiting in the wings that will lavish billions more on the oil corporations. Bush hides this crude corporate agenda under a blanket of war propaganda.

This is reason enough to demand an end to the bombing – an end to the war that serves the interests of Big Oil and the military-industrial complex. This election may be a harbinger of defeats for the corporate rightwing in 2002. But Bloomberg’s election is a warning of what can happen if we are divided by racism or if we mute our demands for delivery on a working families agenda.


Citizens’ inquiry needed

A few weeks ago, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) both called for investigations into the intelligence agencies regarding the Sept. 11 attacks. They said it shouldn’t be a finger-pointing and recrimination session, but a way to fix the problem.

Right-wingers are pushing the idea that it was Congressional oversight that stymied the ability of intelligence agencies to “do their job.” Ultra-right attacks du jour focus on the Congressional oversight committees that helped expose and reign in the secret and terrorist operations of the CIA.

Yet even with that limited oversight, the CIA, the National Security Council and the FBI still managed to train criminals and utilize coups, drugs and assassinations to carry out U.S. foreign policy whose mainstay was steeped in Cold War anti-communism and anti-Sovietism.

Funding Contras in Nicaragua and fostering the crack drug trade was okay for Reagan and Bush’s Oliver North because it fought communism in Central America.

Training and funding the Mujahideen, the heroin trade and fanatical Islamic forces, including the infamous Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan was okay since it fought the Soviet Union and communism in Central Asia.

And still the intelligence agencies want more. Even though bin Laden worked closely with the CIA for years and has been the most wanted terrorist since the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies, the intelligence agencies were so inept, so focused on undermining democracy worldwide, the CIA didn’t see Sept. 11 coming.

The FBI and Attorney General Ashcroft cannot “get their man” – those responsible for the Anthrax bio-terrorism. But they can hold one thousand people without charges.

Investigation is needed. But it can’t be run by those who have a stake in covering up the facts. What’s needed is a new type of Congressional oversight committee where Congresspeople sit alongside representatives from civil liberties, labor, civil rights, women’s and human rights groups to investigate the reasons why the intelligence agencies failed on Sept. 11 and what it will take to provide real and democratic public safety.