Item: “The aircraft carrier Eisenhower, accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason and the fast-attack submarine USS Newport News, is, as I write, making its way to the Straits of Hormuz off Iran,” writes author and former New York Times Middle East Bureau Chief, Chris Hedges, for Truthdig.com on Oct. 9. Seymour Hersh and others have also reported the hasty buildup.
Item: A controversial study by the English journal, Lancet, estimates the war in Iraq has claimed about 655,000 lives, mostly civilians.
Item: CNN predicts half-a-million American troops will have applied for disability checks before the war ends, and that up to one-third of them will suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Item: New regulations that do away with habeas corpus protections don't distinguish between combatants and American citizens. Our government could "disappear" you or me tomorrow and administer torture without legal redress, if the right officials sign off.
Item: North Korea likely has joined the nuclear club.
Item: The army has plans to keep 140,000 troops stationed in Iraq at least through 2010.
Surely these breaking stories are more important than Mark Foley's clumsy passes at pageboys. If I were a registered Democrat, maybe I'd be doing handstands. The Foley story has legs. It'll cost the Republicans votes, and dominate media for weeks, opening closet doors on still more gay congressional staffers and others before it's over. Moreover it's removed a key Republican issue and cut into the party's religious base. After all, this was the party that was going to save the American family from homosexuals, dontcha know.
The fact that Foley was head of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus makes it all the more hysterical. But in the end, the whole thing's just too sad to stay funny. The next election should not turn on how We The People react to media hype about Foley's attraction for boys or young men, depending on definitions and sources.
I know, it's poetic justice at work. If Bill Clinton's fibs about consensual sex with a grown women cost his party lots of votes, then it's only fair that Foley's advances on pageboys cost Republicans some votes.
Yet history shows we'd have been better off spending less time in the nineties talking about Monica and more time discussing Osama, not to mention Iraq, global warming, nuclear proliferation and election reform. Those are the questions we should be focused on now.
Yes, Harold Ford should win Bill Frist's senate seat, because a counter-balanced government is more important than ever.
Yes, Republicans deserve to lose majorities in Congress, but they should lose them because of other issues, like these:
* A current foreign debt greater than that accumulated by all previous 42 presidents combined.
* Suppression of reports on global warming.
* A war based on lies gathered in part through torture. Google “al-Libi” for more.
* Destruction of a dozen international treaties that took seven presidents half-a-century to forge.
* The subversion of federal regulations by putting foxes in charge of henhouses at the Environmental Protection Agency, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Depts. of Treasury, Interior, Justice and so on.
* New revelations showing the president's advisers had ample warnings about Osama bin Laden before 9/11.
* Our lowest standing in the eyes of the world in 30 years.
* The most American troops killed in 30 years.
* The 800 signing statements Bush has attached to laws passed by Congress—more than all previous presidents added together--signaling Bush's belief that he's above adhering to such laws.
* The largest corporate and congressional scandals in decades, including crooked acts by Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, key Enron executives, and more.
* Conflicts of interest regarding voting machine manufacturers and the Republican Party.
* The disenfranchisement of thousands of minority voters.
* Use of banned weapons such as white phosphorous in Fallujah and elsewhere.
* The destruction of Lebanon.
* The widening gap between rich and poor.
* Failure to protect ports and borders.
* Failure to manage leftover Soviet nukes.
* Failure to do anything meaningful about Darfur.
* Failure to become less energy-dependent.
* Use of congressional “ear-marks” to take home the pork.
* New rules that stymie congressional debate.
* The New Orleans debacle, showing just how vulnerable American cities are.
* A deliberate strategy by some to starve social programs by over-spending on armaments.
* New generations of nuclear weapons.
* A deal to supply India with nuclear fuel that could be used for weapons.
As a friend likes to say, “These are not your father's Republicans.” They're radicals who should be turned out, but not because a congressman from a modest district in Florida lusts after pageboys, sad though it is.