The Inane AsylumÔ -
Congress and Its Inmates
column; see the post-election coverage in this issue.)
By Bernard Levy
Webster’s New World
Dictionary, Third College Edition, definitions:
Absurd, banal, foolish, frivolous, insipid, pointless, silly,
- “Asylum: A
sanctuary, as a temple, where criminals, debtors, etc., are safe from
arrest; an institution for the care of the mentally ill, or the aged, the
(Although this column was written pre-election, we believe
it requires publication)
On this election eve, let’s approach Congress, whom we “affectionately”
label “The Inane Asylum™,” on a “What if?” basis.
We have been taught by the experts (moms, dads, teachers) that
we should never revert to the “would have, should have, could have”
syndrome. In other words, whatever we
did, whatever has happened, is real and factual. We can’t go backwards.
Although President Bush has consistently said, when the many occasions have
arise – “I don’t want to play the blame game” – it’s not a question of blame, but a question of fixing
responsibility for actions. And so, let’s
indulge ourselves in the “What if?” game with Congress with the view that perhaps
something can be accomplished in the future.
if: Both prior to and immediately
after President Bush received his mandate from Congress to wage war in
Iraq, Congress had not marched lockstep with President Bush, but had
honestly and energetically reviewed the forthcoming war decision? When it was revealed that there were no
WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction), a Congressional inquiry should have,
at least, reviewed the steps that President Bush took to ascertain that
Iraq truly was a current threat to our security. Subsequently, Congress should have taken into account the
changing reasons for President Bush’s intrusion into Iraq – he wanted to
bring democracy to Iraq; Iraq was a threat to peace and a perpetrator of terrorism;
and Iraq had mobile units capable of chemical warfare. The Inane Asylum’s inhabitants would
have discovered that President Bush’s continuing reasons for invading Iraq
were similar to the actions of the pigs in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,”
when they imposed their new “edicts” on the wall of the barn.
if: Congress had honestly and
effectively “oversighted” the cost of war and reconstruction in Iraq? Had they investigated the overcharges
by Halliburton and other major contractors, they could have not only saved
the American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars but could have
taken effective measures to ensure that the contracts provided goods and
services that were without deficiencies and faults. The buck has to stop someplace, and it should
have been the oversight committees of Congress.
if: Congress had realized that a
comprehensive energy program and policy was necessary and legislated such
a program, even if it was vetoed by Mr. Bush? President Bush has decided that a comprehensive energy
policy is not necessary in spite of the fact that a major cost of any developed
nation doing business is energy – oil to us – and that the United States
was and continues to be at the mercy of the oil-producing nations, primarily
the countries of OPEC.
if: Congress had recognized that
the President was giving lip service to allegedly protect the environment when
he was actually reducing the
commitment to cleaner air and water?
Even China has done more than the United States to both recognize
this phenomena and take effective measures to correct its pollution
activity. Congress, in its
dysfunctional state, failed the American public by not taking the measures
necessary to safeguard our country, now and for future generations. An effective Inane Asylum would have
taken strong measures to goad the Bush administration into action, or, at
least, bring to the public’s attention that the environment was not being
if: Congress acted upon the need
to provide adequate healthcare to all of its citizens? Not doing so exacerbates taxpayer
healthcare costs in many ways, including paying for the costs of those not
covered. Congress should have
imposed upon the Bush administration the necessity to negotiate with pharmaceutical
companies to provide drugs at a reasonable rate to those many Medicare
recipients who cannot afford to pay for drugs, even a measured amount.
- What if: Congress
honestly and effectively considered the immigration issue? This issue will not vanish, even with a
wall. Recognizing reality and the
facts, Congress should have dealt with the issue in an honest, mature and
accountable manner. Again, partisan
ideologies have held sway. Most illegal
immigrants are honest, hardworking people who sought our country’s
opportunities to earn an honest day’s wage and attend to their families’
- What if: Congresspersons
attended to the needs of their constituents rather than their own needs? Not at any time in our history has this
been more evident than in today’s environment of corruption and
selfdealing in Congress. The
Abramoff scandal and revelations are just the tips of the icebergs that
permeate the workings of Congress.
Merely a visit to 101 Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., will
reveal the workings of special groups and their lobbyists. This simply stinks!
- What if: Congress “honestly” was concerned with purging itself of unethical
conduct? Its fox-in-the-hen-house approach
and conclusion that it can police “its own house” and set up appropriate
policies for ethical conduct is, as we say in the law, Caca-Poopoos. It just doesn’t work; it won’t work; it
will never work. Their denial of a
serious ethical problem and defeating a measure to have an independent
organization monitor their ethical behavior are without merit.
- What if: All the above happened? Would we be in a better position to
deal with Iran and Iraq knowing that our military was intact and not depleted? Would we be able to have provided
billions of dollars to further our education values and systems? Would we have been able to provide
adequate medical assistance to those in need who are not being given
adequate services today? Would we have
been able to have reduce our tremendous deficit and provide for the future? Would we have been able to provide
additional jobs and economic benefits to those who need them? Would we have been able to begin
rebuilding our nation’s crumbling, outdated infrastructure – highways, bridges
and other structures? Would we be
a less polarized nation, as well as a healthier one?
Maybe not, but even some of the above actions that could
have been taken would have been much better than the actions that were not
Truly Congress has lived up to its name and reputation of
being the Inane AsylumÔ.