Is it a good thing that President Bush is seeking the approval of the United Nations to oust Saddam Hussein? In so doing, Bush bowed to those who counseled that definitive proof is needed before the United States can launch an invasion of Iraq. But are such inspections likely to produce the kind of proof required by the dovish critics?
A tip-off to the futility of it all is that after much haggling about the verbiage of the rules under which U.N. inspectors are operating, there is no clear consensus of what constitutes a violation that would allow us to intervene in Iraq. In point of fact, Saddam is not even required by the U.N. resolution to tell the truth about whether he has weapons of mass destruction. Iraqi lies will not be considered a breach of the resolution. Only evidence discovered by the U.N. inspectors would put Saddam in clear violation, and even then it is likely that the same countries that originally objected to an invasion of Iraq will not be convinced to change their minds.
There is also every indication that the burgeoning anti-war movement could care less whether or not the inspectors find the elusive "smoking gun." The protests grow stronger despite the fact that Bush decided to work through the United Nations. In truth, none of these people would consider such a preventive war justified. The pope has already indicated that his church will not support a preventive strike against Saddam.
Apparently, we are required to wait until Saddam launches a nuclear missile or smuggles smallpox into our country before we can act. Under this criteria, even the preemptive Israeli strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1991 is considered an outlaw act, even though it quite likely prevented Saddam from using a nuclear weapon against his neighbors.
Bush is faced with a world that has no sense of logic and conveniently wears moral blinders. Ultimately, we will once again be faced with the lonely task of eliminating a tyrant …
Do Republicans really believe in local control? Rep. John Perzel is a Republican but, in league with some Democrats, has spearheaded a takeover by the state of this city’s schools, its convention center — and now even its taxi cabs are apparently fair game. To be sure, Mayor John Street has wittingly or unwittingly aided and abetted this state grab for power.
The latest actions by Perzel and friends at the 11th hour before Ed Rendell becomes governor is outrageous even by their own standards. No such case could be made for the state taking over the convention center, despite its labor problems or the cabs or, for that matter, Harrisburg’s past interference in the city’s efforts to contain gun violence through legislation.
Normally, Republican logic dictates that local control is better than control by a centralized bureaucracy because it is closer and therefore more accountable to the voters. But Perzel’s latest actions were done without public discussion and in order to frustrate the wishes of state voters, who just elected a Democrat to Harrisburg. Perzel is not only power-hungry, he’s a hypocrite by his own party’s standards …
The ongoing battle between the mayor and some members of City Council over increases in the property tax has an illogic all its own. With Mayor Street finally admitting what Sam Katz told us a few years ago — that the city’s budget problems are reaching crisis proportions — it would seem irresponsible to talk about cutting property taxes without explaining how the lost revenue will be recouped.
The other chief source of revenue for Philadelphia is the dreaded wage tax, which is paid by workers who are already heavily taxed, and has caused us to lose businesses to the suburbs in the past. You can’t logically focus on the property tax problem without acknowledging the ripple effect it may have on the wage tax and city services.
As president of City Council, John Street fought the good fight when then-Mayor Rendell held the line against city unions. Though the battle has earned Rendell the enmity of those unions forever, it didn’t prevent him from getting a second term as mayor and recently getting elected governor. There is a lesson in there for Street and City Council.
But Street has failed to improve his power base since being elected, and he faces tough challenges in the primary and general election next time around. All because he failed to heed the old political adage that you make those tough decisions early enough in your first term so as to minimize the effects on your reelection. Now Street is facing a no-win situation — cut city services and face down your union supporters, or do nothing and see the city slide toward bankruptcy again.
Tom Cardella can be heard before and after the Eagles-Redskins game Sunday on 94-FM WYSP.