Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | March 14, 2009

Al’s wise words

For all those Republicans criticizing the economic stimulus package as too spendy after blindly supporting George W. Bush’s “two wars on a credit card” (hat tip: Bill Maher), take a look at these points from USA Today founder Al Neuharth:

Not enough of us explain or realize why we’re in this money mess.

It’s primarily because we’ve spent or authorized more money on the Iraq war (its sixth anniversary is next Thursday) than we’re putting into the stimulus program. Comparison:

•The Iraq war $864 billion.

•The stimulus program $787 billion.

Sure, greedy bankers, covetous Wall Streeters, irresponsible buyers of homes and cars they couldn’t afford all contributed to this recession. But if we hadn’t blown that huge bundle in Iraq, we could have handled our problems here at home more easily.

Most of us consider Iraq to have been President Bush’s biggest blunder. It was, but Congress voted to let him do it.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, for much too long, it was considered taboo to question government, to hold leaders accountable. You’d be labeled as unpatriotic, as part of the “blame America first crowd,” or as sympathetic to terrorists.

Whether it’s the completely unnecessary Iraq War, with its waste of life and treasure, or the diminishing of our essential American-ness with winking at torture, erosion of civil liberties, and end-justifies-the-means attitudes about safety, we’re paying the price now for ignoring the principles upon which this country was founded.

We wouldn’t have an America without people who were willing to question authority, to insist upon the principals of freedom and justice that make this country great, and to take literally Patrick Henry’s words: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Perhaps if a few more journalists, members of Congress, and everyday Americans had been courageous enough to ask tough questions of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of that reckless administration, we’d be in a much better place today.

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