Beware of G.O.P. Watchdog Darrell Issa

Darrell E. Issa, American politician

Beware of Watchdogs

I bring to your attention a story on the front page of today’s New York Times.  The GOP is at it again, floating ideas that have a good rhetorical ring, but offer little substance.  You might say they’re ranchers who are all hat and no cattle.

Representative Darrell Issa of California will become the chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when the GOP begins gets its hands on power (again) and begins to sabotage our government (again).  This isn’t about cutting waste in government.  Even Issa admits that his targets will save a relative pittance on a $3.5 trillion dollar budget.  The much-maligned earmarks everyone squawks about amounts to less than 1% of the budget.

So what is this about?  I would argue that it is another step toward stripping our government of its ability to serve people.  If government oversight really wanted to make a difference in our lives it would stop squandering the nation’s wealth and future on a hyper-inflated military, for example, but it won’t do that because the military serves corporate America so well.

Dwight D. Eisenhower — a Republican and a United States five star general — likely strikes most GOPers and Tea Partiers as something of a liberal today.  He wasn’t.  He didn’t mind helping Britain deal withIran’s Mosaddegh, built up the CIA, and supported an overwhelming nuclear arsenal.  His “Eisenhower Doctrine” seems to preceed the “Bush Doctrine” by claiming legitimate right to take military action in any part of the world to counter communism. 

Eisenhower just seems a little more thoughtful and stable, is all, and that isn’t nearly as exciting as the people offered today by the GOP and the Tea Party.

Eisenhower supported civil rights, health care reform, Social Security, the GI Bill, and continued all of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.  He also is responsible for the interstate highway system, nuclear energy development,  and funding NASA.  You can see why today’s conservatives might not recognize Eisenhower as one of their own…because he wasn’t.  Today’s Republicans are a breed apart and much lower on political chain of being.

If Republicans like Issa wanted to reform government AND serve Americans they would do well to revisit President Eisenhower’s politics and his agenda.  Specifically we should look at the Industrial Military Complex.

We are fighting wars overseas that officially have cost over $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan already and do not count our ongoing military obligations around the world and the money to keep it all going here at home.   The defense budget is over $680 billion officially and does not count the “supplemental” budgets for Iraq and Afghanistan and some other related “security” programs.

Conservatives coddle the military industrial complex.  People like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz simply lied to America to ensure that our tradition of military empire continued to expand.  It is good business and it comes at the cost of opportunity and freedom here in the United States as much as it does overseas. 

The atrocities committed in these reckless wars overseas — corruption, murder, property destruction, global insecurity — are unforgivable.  Yet the men and women who led us there have made fortunes.  

Issa and his party will not be looking for ways to reform government to make it work better for you.  Their goal is to make it work less.  The 1% savings they might get scouring budgets will be meaningless and lost anyway in the next budget increase for pet GOP projects.  The net result will be less money for programs that matter — local health clinics, cleaner environment, unemployment insurance, higher education and research funding, clean air and water, worker rights and safety — and other things that Americans appreciated and expected as a part of a high standard of living such as well-maintained public buildings and services. 

(How about cutting some tax cuts?  The Bush tax cuts are unwise.  These tax cuts have cost our budget billions and will top a $1 trillion if left in place.  How can we afford that?)

Don’t let anyone tell you there is no money out there.  There’s a lot of it.  Trillions.  A political party willing to spend more than a trillion dollars on a war killing tens of thousands of people but unwilling to invest a fraction of that to ensure health care for its own citizens is a morally corrupt group indeed.

It is the stated goal of the GOP to strip government of its services to the people, privatize as much of the remaining services as can be profitably attained, and instill a menu of conservative values through legislation and the judiciary as possible.  Their Orwellian talk of “freedom” is frightening…and guys like Issa are the new generals in this war to dismantle the democracy that men like Eisenhower fought to defend.

“Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961.


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