Well, You're Wrong
Salon this morning published the text of the "firey" speech by Representative Pete Stark
of California on the House floor, in opposition to the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. It's helpful to see the logic, such as it is, used by opponents of the President...
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this resolution (authorizing military force against Iraq). I am deeply troubled that lives may be lost without a meaningful attempt to bring Iraq into compliance with U.N. resolutions through careful and cautious diplomacy.
Like, oh, the last ten years? The endless attempts to get productive weapons inspections? The reason we've reached the point we're at, Mr. Stark, is because every attempt has failed, and the Iraqi government has proven to be entirely untrustworthy.
"The bottom line is I don't trust this president and his advisors.
Well, we don't trust you
, so we're even.
The question is, do you trust Saddam Hussein and his generals more than the President of the United States, as your comptriot from Washington State, Mr. McDermott, does?
"Make no mistake, we are voting on a resolution that grants total authority to the president, who wants to invade a sovereign nation without any specific act of provocation. This would authorize the United States to act as the aggressor for the first time in our history. It sets a precedent for our nation -- or any nation -- to exercise brute force anywhere in the world without regard to international law or international consensus.
We've been through this argument too many times; there is more than sufficient provocation.
And as for a precedent, well, did Russia need a precedent before going into Chechyna? Did Iraq need a precedent to invade Iran and later Kuwait? Did India and Pakistan need precedents to start lobbing artillery against each other's forces? Did we
need a precedent before we went into Kosovo without provocation or
Get back to us when you've got the answers, Mr. Stark, why don't you?
"Congress must not walk in lockstep behind a president who has been so callous to proceed without reservation, as if war was of no real consequence."
Um...the fact that we've waited over a year to do this; the fact that we've gone to the UN, that means nothing, obviously. And "callous?" I think that callous would be waiting until thousands of Americans are killed by a biological or nuclear attack from Saddam or his terrorist pals.
"You know, three years ago in December, Molly Ivins, an observer of Texas politics, wrote: 'For an upper-class white boy, Bush comes on way too hard. At a guess, to make up for being an upper-class white boy.'
"'Somebody,' she said, 'should be worrying about how all this could affect his handling of future encounters with some Saddam Hussein.' How prophetic, Ms. Ivins.
Well, gee whiz, quoting a whiny populist columnist who's despised the Bush family for two decades! That's certainly convincing. I mean, that ends the argument right there, doesn't it.
"Let us not forget that our president -- our commander in chief -- has no experience with, or knowledge of, war. In fact, he admits that he was at best ambivalent about the Vietnam War. He skirted his own military service and then failed to serve out his time in the National Guard. And, he reported years later that at the height of that conflict in 1968 he didn't notice 'any heavy stuff going on.'"
Neither did the prior President. He, in fact, wrote once that he "loathed the military." I wonder if Mr. Stark approved of his vasous and sundry uses of the military.
"So we have a president who thinks foreign territory is the opponent's dugout and Kashmir is a sweater.
Bush is Stooopid! Thank you, Mr. Stark. The floor of the House is certainly the place for childish insults.
"What is most unconscionable is that there is not a shred of evidence to justify the certain loss of life. Do the generalized threats and half-truths of this administration give any one of us in Congress the confidence to tell a mother or father or family that the loss of their child or loved one was in the name of a just cause?
Yes! The just cause of the removal of a brutal tyrant who supports terrorists, who seeks weapons of mass destruction, who is an avowed enemy of the United States. Pretty clear to me.
"Is the president's need for revenge for the threat once posed to his father enough to justify the death of any American?
If that were the sole cause for war, of course not. But that is not the reason, and only a dishonest creep like Mr. Stark would suggest that it was.
"I submit the answer to these questions is no.
"Aside from the wisdom of going to war as Bush wants, I am troubled by who pays for his capricious adventure into world domination. The administration admits to a cost of around $200 billion!
"World domination?" Yes, Bush wants to be Emperor! Jim McDermott said so, and of course he must be right!
"Now, wealthy individuals won't pay. They've got big tax cuts already. Corporations won't pay. They'll cook the books and move overseas and then send their contributions to the Republicans. Rich kids won't pay. Their daddies will get them deferments as Big George did for George W.
Deferments? We don't have a draft, Mr. Stark. We have an all-volunteer military. If you don't know that, you probably shouldn't be voting on these kind of issues, now should you?
And tax cuts don't mean that "wealthy ndividuals don't pay." They mean that the government takes less of the money they earn away from them. And, by definition, the wealthy get larger cuts, because they're paying more taxes to begin with!
Math is hard, I know, but you are a Congressman, Mr. Stark. You ought to at least make an effort.
"Well then, who will pay?
"School kids will pay. There'll be no money to keep them from being left behind -- way behind. Seniors will pay. They'll pay big time as the Republicans privatize Social Security and rob the Trust Fund to pay for the capricious war. Medicare will be curtailed and drugs will be more unaffordable. And there won't be any money for a drug benefit because Bush will spend it all on the war.
Drugs will be "more unaffordable?" Why, exactly?
No drug benefit? Well, there isn't one now, and why exactly should there be more free ice cream for the AARP crowd anyway?
As for privatizing Social Security, well, that's good policy in any case. And "robbing the trust fund," well, that's done now anyway, so stop your lying and whining, Mr. Stark.
"Working folks will pay through loss of job security and bargaining rights. Our grandchildren will pay through the degradation of our air and water quality. And the entire nation will pay as Bush continues to destroy civil rights, women's rights and religious freedom in a rush to phony patriotism and to courting the messianic Pharisees of the religious right.
Really? Women's rights? Civil rights? Civil liberties, maybe, but there's a big difference there; and in any case, where were you, Mr. Stark, when the former Narcissist-in-Chief was trashing the Bill of Rights?
"The questions before the members of this House and to all Americans are immense, but there are clear answers. America is not currently confronted by a genuine, proven, imminent threat from Iraq. The call for war is wrong.
It's wrong if you don't mind being vulnerable to deadly attacks from a murderous tyrant who's clearly expressed his hatred for us and desire to attack us.
"And what greatly saddens me at this point in our history is my fear that this entire spectacle has not been planned for the well-being of the world, but for the short-term political interest of our president.
"Now, I am also greatly disturbed that many Democratic leaders have also put political calculation ahead of the president's accountability to truth and reason by supporting this resolution. But, I conclude that the only answer is to vote no on the resolution before us."
Accountability to truth and reason? You wouldn't know either of those things if they jumped up and bit you, you lying weasel!
But he's a Congressman from California. I guess we can't really expect anything better.