- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

"We ought to focus on sidewalks, not Saddam," prudently observed Los Angeles Councilman Jack Weiss. "I didn't run on a foreign policy platform."

Yet, nine of the 15 members of the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution against U.S. policy on Iraq.

"We're not a bunch of crazy councilmen," argued Councilman Ed Reyes, who inexplicably can discern stupidity from mental illness. Further, council members are not pro-Iraq, just pro-United Nations. How convenient.

Yet, Los Angeles is hardly alone. One hundred other cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia have opposed military action against Saddam Hussein. More correctly, we're talking not about cities, but their city councils.

In most big cities, public employee labor unions elect the city council. It's cost-effective for them. In effect, the government unions control both sides of the bargaining table. For a few million bucks in campaigns, their return is tens, even hundreds of millions in sweetheart contracts.

City governments ratify agreements with antiquated work rules, recession-proof job security, inflation-plus raise hikes and generous benefits. And unfunded pensions mortgage the city's future.

These are not your father's union leaders. These ideologues feel solidarity with others, not America. Moreover, they are partisan Democrats who oppose unilateral action by President George W. Bush. But the same political hacks supported President Bill Clinton's singular commitment of U.S. troops in Bosnia and Kosovo.

The rationale of unions and their political cronies to undermine U.S. foreign policy? It extends beyond situational morality. City council members in Los Angeles and other cities are pretentious latter-day utilitarians. Why use resources for war, they say, when cities (unions) need the money?

Three quick points regarding these civic-illiterate politicians. 1. They are incompetent stewards (of their city's public purse). 2. They are ignorant (of American federalism). 3. They are disingenuous (about national defense spending).

The inescapable bottom line is this. Why spend any money on defense? Why not divert it (all) to local political patronage?

The Los Angeles City Council depended on the foreign policy expertise of Ed Asner. The actor has never met an anti-American he did not admire. He opined that comparing Saddam with Adolf Hitler is "drivel." Mr. Asner, a senior citizen but not yet an adult, is wise beyond his years: "I somehow can't picture Saddam Hussein marching into Poland."

(Certainly, Saddam won't march into Paris. Why threaten an ally?)

The in-effect pro-Iraq resolution was the brainchild of L.A. councilman Eric Garcetti. He described it as "a moral stance [to] protect human rights and world order." Will the young Garcetti one day retire as a historian?

Mr. Garcetti's father was the Los Angeles district attorney who could not convict O. J. Simpson of murder. The son continues in public service. He represents Hollywood, geographically, if not spiritually.

Earlier this month, Berlin concluded its film festival. William Wallace reported for the Los Angeles Times. The subhead read, "Germans ate up the anti-administration sentiments voiced by Americans at festival."

Actor Edward Norton said he was happy to be in Europe. "I almost forgot what it's like to be proud of my government."

"I have no idea why we're fighting Iraq," said Oliver Stone. Then, why would he?

Dustin Hoffman said, "I am not anti-American." Why should he say that?

"Hoffman put a warm feeling in the stomach of many Germans," noted German editor Harald Martenstein, because Mr. Hoffman "gave the impression to Germans that by being against this war, you are in harmony with people in the United States who matter actors, directors and so on …"

Susan Sarandon now aspires to Jane Fonda status. Fonda was the latter-day bride of the strongly anti-Israel CNN founder Ted Turner, who recently defended terrorist homicide bombings. In her earlier, equally immature years, Hanoi Jane praised North Vietnam anti-aircraft gunners for shooting down U.S. pilots. Her visits to Hanoi are known to have encouraged the torture of American POWs

Rob Reiner opposes going to war without U.N support. Rob Reiner also opposes going to war with U.N. support. Rob Reiner indeed is a meathead.

There is something extraordinary about this spectacle in Los Angeles. Not just that the (city council) inmates control the asylum. It is the politically correct Mayor James K. Hahn. Incredibly, he signed the resolution.

Note that Hahn's father was Mr. Kenny Hahn, a legendary supervisor of Los Angeles County. Kenny Hahn, a Hubert Humphrey Democrat, was a spiritual man concerned about poverty and prejudice. But he was a large man on the great moral issues. It is hard to imagine Kenny Hahn signing such a resolution.

Suppose Mayor Jim Hahn had stood up (or grew up?). He would have become a national hero.

Boycott Paris? Berlin? Why not Jim Hahn's Los Angeles?


Arnold Steinberg is a political strategist.

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