By Elizabeth DiNovella on January 31, 2007
“The people are sovereign, not the President”
January 31, 2007 By Elizabeth DiNovella

“Since the President is adamant about pursuing his failed policies in Iraq, Congress has the duty to stand up and use its power to stop him. If Congress doesn’t stop this war, it’s not because it doesn’t have the power. It’s because it doesn’t have the will,” said Senator Russ Feingold.

In language reminiscent of Fighting Bob La Follette, Feingold on January 30 implored his colleagues to do their constitutional duty. Chairing a Senate Judiciary hearing on Congress’s powers in wartime, Feingold in his opening remarks spared no one.

“In the United States of America, the people are sovereign, not the President. It is Congress’ responsibility to challenge an Administration that persists in a war that is misguided and that the country opposes. We cannot simply wring our hands and complain about the Administration’s policy. We cannot just pass resolutions saying ‘your policy is mistaken.’ And we can’t sit idly by and tell ourselves that it’s the President’s job to fix the mess he made. It’s our job to fix the mess, and if we don’t do so we are abdicating our responsibilities.”

Only two other Democrats joined Feingold at the hearing, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. Republican Alren Specter of Pennsylvania, the former chair of the Judiciary Committee, was also in attendance. According to The New York Times, Specter said a clash over Constitutional powers appears to be “imminent.” Specter also said at the hearing, “I would respectfully suggest to the President that he is not the sole decider. . . . The decider is a joint and shared responsibility.”

Feingold said he will introduce legislation today that would “prohibit the use of funds to continue the deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq six months after enactment.”

But will other Democrats, especially those with desires to be Commander in Chief, act to stop the war?

“Those (Democrats) who are timid on this, who are they listening to?” Feingold told The Politico on January 26. “The people don’t want is to talk just about ending the escalation. They think this whole war is wrong.”

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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