SYNDICATED COLUMN: The War Party

Democrats Lie to Prolong Iraq; Reporters Go Along Americans don’t know how their government works. Democrats, in control of Congress, are taking advantage of our ignorance to continue the Iraq War. Which brings up two questions: Why won’t the “antiwar” Democrats act to stop the carnage? And why aren’t reporters calling them on it? “Democrats,” writes Charles Babington in an Associated Press item that appeared in hundreds of newspapers, “control both chambers [of Congress] but lack the numbers to override President Bush’s vetoes of bids to mandate troop withdrawals from Iraq.” It’s a half-truth at best: the Democrats’ narrow majority is less than the two-thirds majority they’d need to override a presidential veto. Here’s the full truth: it doesn’t matter. The Constitution grants Congress, and only the Congress, to “raise and support armies.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could meet over cocktails right now and cut off the funding tomorrow. Within a few months, the…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Kill the Poor

Phony Poverty Study Fools Lazy Journalists They’re baaack! Once again the Heritage Foundation is mangling statistics to whitewash the ugly facts of life in Republican-run America. Last time, in 2005, they attacked the image of U.S. soldiers as cannon fodder being exploited for Halliburton. Au contraire, claimed the conservative propaganda mill. American troops, they said were actually “wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average” citizen. Of course, this wasn’t true. “Military personnel are poorer and less educated” than the average Joe, I found when I took a closer look. Heritage’s soldier study used junk logic and apples-to-oranges statistics to promote the GOP’s wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. And it worked. The lazy men who run the big newspapers and TV networks, deluded into believing there are two sides to every story, dutifully repeated Heritage’s lies. They never questioned a word. More soldiers died. The Heritage story made us feel less guilty about it. Now Heritage is telling us…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Give War a Chance

Time for Democrats to Get Mean “All of us feel it. There is a sickness in the American political system, a withering of the public faith in government that is so essential to our democracy. This has always been a country of rough political rhetoric. But the personal viciousness, the haste, the ideological shrillness are worse now than for many years.” —Anthony Lewis, New York Times, 1-29-96 Anthony Lewis obviously lives in a different world from the rest of us. Where I live, the main problem with the two-party system is a general absence of personal viciousness. Forget posturing on trivial matters like the budget impasse. On issues that really affect Americans on a day-to-day basis, Democrats and Republicans are in complete agreement. Both parties agree that at least 6 percent of American workers should be kept systematically unemployed in order to keep inflation down. The parties of Jackson and Lincoln both favor tax cuts for the rich, a less-progressive…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: America Goes Down

Oral Sex as the Intimacy Alternative I knew that Shannon liked me. After all, she had given me a whole box of cashews! More importantly, she sent me a Valentine’s Day card through our high school mail, for everyone to see. But I was 16. How could I know how serious she was about a geek like me, my dreamy Marsha Brady clone with the waist-length golden tresses? About a week later, Shannon drove me home from the Freedom Foods supermarket where we both worked for $2.90 an hour. Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Fire Away)” was playing. I was about to get out of her ’74 Pinto when she pulled me over toward her. Our eyes locked. Then it happened: my first kiss. I didn’t even mind that my mom was peeking through the Venetian blinds. More than the tunes have changed since the late ’70s. According to a new study on teen sex by Los…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: No News Is Bad News

The American Newspaper Goes Bye-Bye If you’re reading this in a daily newspaper, chances are that you haven’t been out much lately. You likely haven’t gotten pierced, tattooed, shoved around a mosh pit or submerged by student loans. To be precise, you’re probably about 50 years old. In 20 years, if this column is reprinted for some as-yet-unfathomable reason, the odds are that you’ll be about 70. In 30—well, that depends on advances in medical research. The American big-city daily, a grand institution of the 20th century, seems about to go the way of the era itself, but no one’s paying much attention. Just last week, the Phoenix Gazette, an afternoon paper that has appeared for 116 years, printed its last issue, its demise apparently caused by an old ailment: Americans prefer their written news in the morning. After toiling all day for Disney, Microsoft, Nike or whoever owns what’s left of the country these days, they seemingly can’t absorb…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: You Kill Me, They Kill You

Our Love Affair with Official Mass Murder On the evening of Wednesday, January 8, while most Americans were trying to choose between “Wings” and “Beverly Hills, 90210,” Kirt Wainwright lay strapped to a metal gurney, both of his arms stretched out like a man awaiting crucifixion, as a small group of witnesses gawked at him through a one-way mirror from an adjoining room. Nurses employed by the taxpayers of the State of Arkansas stuck needles into each arm and prepared to release poison—a mixture of sodium pentothal, Pavulon and potassium chloride, if you want to try this at home—into his veins. At the last minute, Justice Clarence Thomas, a letch who rose to the Supreme Court thanks to the affirmative action programs he opposes, requested a temporary postponement of the execution while he analyzed a potential conflict of interest (Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who rejected Wainwright’s request for a stay, knew both of his victims). Meanwhile, Wainwright remained splayed across…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Unhip To Be Square

America Deserves a Cool First Family We live in a square world We all got square eyes We live in square high-rises We read from square books —Thee Headcoats, 1990 The other day a C-SPAN interviewer asked Hillary Clinton how the First Family spends the time it has away from the glare of the klieg lights. First of all, it turns out that the Big Three have a lot more time on their manicured hands than do most other Americans. According to Hillary, it’s rare that any official duties are scheduled between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. Since Bill & Hill & Chelsea don’t have to worry about patching the roof, trimming the hedges or even shopping for groceries, they have their whole weekends to themselves. There’s just not that much for leaders-of-the-free-world to do these days, what with all of the good wars already fought and corporate executives doing such a swell job running the economy. Two years of…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Just Because You’re Oblivious Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Out to Get You

Conspiracy Logic and TWA Flight 800 Pierre Salinger says that he has an August 22nd Secret Service report that proves that TWA Flight 800 was shot down accidentally by the U.S. Navy. According to the former Kennedy Administration press secretary, Navy ships testing missiles off the coast of Eastern Long Island in July assumed that all flights in the area were flying at 21,000 feet, so they used 13,000 feet as their test altitude. Flight 800, however, had taken off late from JFK Airport, and was flying lower than previously scheduled in order to avoid another plane. Air traffic controllers, in “a tragic error,” neglected to advise the Navy, Salinger said, and a Navy missile blew up the plane. This scenario jibes with dozens of calls to the FBI from witnesses who claimed to have seen a streak of light heading towards the plane just before the blast. Salinger acknowledged that the alleged Secret Service memo has been posted to…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: United We Fall

The Melting Pot Boils Over Driving west across New Jersey recently, I was relieved to see the mile markers drop to single digits, and finally to zero. I was struck by a sign posted at the state border that read: “Welcome to Pennsylvania: America Starts Here.” As someone who grew up in Ohio, that seemed to make perfect sense. New Jersey is, perhaps, more “America” than Manhattan; nothing in America is less American than New York. Still, New Jersey isn’t really “America.” Continuing my trip—I was traveling to visit my mom in Dayton—I wound westward through a 15-mile-wide sliver of West Virginia that serves as a de facto DMZ between the mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. As I crossed the bridge in Wheeling, Ohio’s welcome sign declared “Ohio—The Heart of it All.” Indeed, the media had yakked a lot last year about the sweet irony of forcing the warring nations of the former Yugoslavia to sign their peace treaty in the…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: So Much for Democracy

Is a Clinton Victory Worth the Cost? My involvement with the Democratic Party started at age 9, when my mom took me along to pass out McGovern-Shriver leaflets door-to-door in our solidly Republican neighborhood. “The Democrats,” my mother explained, “are the party of the people. Republicans only care about rich big-shots.” Nothing I have seen since 1972 has contradicted the latter part of that summary of our two-party system. Watching my mom’s enthusiasm while she tried to reason with our neighbors and dialed number after number in the dingy campaign headquarters in downtown Dayton convinced me that there really was a chance of ousting President Nixon—a man, who all attempts at historical revisionism notwithstanding, was the devil. My fourth-grade class held a mock election that fall. There were 32 little Nixonites to my one Democratic vote. I quickly learned that, in America, Democrats usually lose, even when they win. Jimmy Carter squeaked by Ford in 1976—an astonishing fact when you…
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