Thursday, February 15, 2007


By Ivan G. Goldman

What would get Congress to force Bush to pull out of Iraq? Money, of course. Washington is a bazaar, and if you want to buy something, you must pay the price. Congress has established and polished a system of legalized bribery that has most of its members spending most of their working hours raising contributions for themselves.

Members have proved repeatedly that they will vote against the interests of their constituents in favor of their paymasters and then rely on the inept media to allow them to escape consequences.

Generally, voting for what’s right doesn’t pay enough, which is why we’re saddled with a world dictated by insurance, banking, drugs, Star Wars creatures, creationists, and other industries willing to pay for what they want.

No, I’m not joking. During the seventies, in another life, I covered Congress for a daily newspaper, and during that time I convinced political operatives to give me details off the record about how their world works. They painted an ugly picture. Since then, the cost of campaigning – which means the cost of waging TV attack ads on opponents – has multiplied to staggering sums, and a corrupt system grew far more corrupt.

This week, during the Iraq debate, members of the House have been pretending to expose their political souls, with most of them prepared to vote in favor of a toothless resolution that objects to Bush’s military escalation. Only a minority is willing to stand up and use the power granted to them by the Constitution – the power of the purse – to end this pointless blunder of an occupation. In matters of foreign policy money is a lesser factor, true, but I guarantee you if we paid them enough to act decently, we’d get some decency out of them.

In the meantime, the relative lack of bribe-related motivation on this issue has members confused because it calls on them to actually scrutinize policy instead of checking their profit-and-loss ledgers.

Dead-enders consider themselves relatively safe funding Bush’s moronic war because most voters have been fooled into thinking withholding funds would be a stab in the back to troops in the field, leaving them out there on the battlefield with no bullets for their weapons. The Bush-Cheney team, though not trusted by a majority of voters, has successfully planted this lie in the public mind, just as it had a majority believing for years that Saddam Hussein knocked down the World Trade Center.

The media still do a terrible job of sorting out facts. The standard method of operation is to let both sides have their say and switch to a commercial. This works only when both sides at least try to tell the truth. Vicious liars are an odious thing to behold, and most of us, including the press, don’t know how to deal with them. First, you have to have your facts straight, then you have to challenge the lies.

During the Kerry-Bush debates in ’04, when Bush said he was an excellent steward of the environment, or words to that effect, Kerry was both flustered by the damnable, outright lie, and unable to muster the facts to prove that Bush had weakened the EPA and other key regulators in a determined and very specific pattern of abuse that dirtied air and water and defiled formerly protected land.

The most recent, reliable poll tells us 76 percent of Iraqis want us out of there within a year and think the presence of our troops exacerbates the killing. So it’s a mystery how the twisted Bush-Cheney team deludes anyone into claiming our troops are fighting for democracy.

You want more members of Congress to back off from the delusion? Pay them.

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