This is the America I live in.
normal, average citizen, I unlock the front door and enter my home. I
don't know if anyone has entered surreptitiously -- perhaps a
sneak-and-peek job by Ashcroft's black-bag boys.
I boot up my
computer to go online. I don't know if my email is being monitored, if
my keystrokes are being recorded.
I call my attorney, about a
family matter. I don't know if communication with my lawyer,
previously regarded as "confidential," is being listened to. (This,
and the other examples above, and many below, flow from the
Bush-Ashcroft "USA Patriot Act.")
I visit my physician, and
learn later that my employer found out about a chronic condition I had
and laid me off, to keep his insurance costs down. The doctor-patient
confidentiality I thought existed is now breachable by government
agencies in cahoots with insurance companies.
This is the
America I live in.
I learn about U.S. citizens who have
been thrown into military custody, with no access to the judicial
system, kept uncharged for however long Ashcroft and Bush decide to
hold them as somehow connected to "terrorists."
I know of
American citizens, active in opposition to the war in Iraq, who have
been kept off commercial airlines.
Hundreds of citizens of
other countries are rounded up as suspected terrorists and sent to a
prison camp run by our government; they can rot there for years with
no charges and with no regularized access to the judicial process. To
avoid having to conform to international codes of conduct, the
detainees are not designated by the Administration as
I hear Ashcroft telling Congress that those
who raise questions about the government's harsh police tactics are
giving "aid and comfort" to terrorists.
This is the America
I live in.
In the daily newspaper, and online, I keep
running into stories about plans for future U.S. wars against other
nations -- Syria, Iran and Cuba are most often mentioned -- after the
November election, should Bush win. Moves already have started to
revive the military draft.
I read about GOP groups sending out
doctored photos of John Kerry, and passing on false rumors, based
apparently on nothing but partisan malice, about his private life.
The Bush Administration publicly revealed the name of a covert
CIA agent, apparently in retaliation for her husband telling the truth
about forged documents that were used to justify a WMD lie. Her life
is put at risk, her career is in tatters, her contacts abroad are in
danger. Revealing her name is a felony, but the Chief Executive does
This is the America I live in.
I will be
voting in my state's primary balloting and then, of course, in
November's general election. There are not adequate safeguards against
tampering with touch-screen computer-voting machines (it's been
demonstrated that they can be hacked into easily and the tallies
manipulated, with nobody ever knowing), and there is no paper trail
being used to verify the votes on most of those machines. The
proprietary software inside those computer-voting machines are
controlled mainly by three companies, one of which is partially owned
by a Republican senator and the others by avowed Republican
Traditionally, when America (or any other country)
suffers a major civil trauma, investigations are initiated almost
immediately to find out what happened and why, witnesses are placed
under oath, and those responsible are fired, or resign, or are
indicted for their malfeasance. More than 3000 persons died in the
September 11 tragedies, but the Bush Administration did everything
possible to forestall an independent investigation about pre-9/11
knowledge, nobody has been placed under oath, and the Administration
is continuing to stonewall and cover-up today. Whatever it is they are
trying to hide must be very very embarrassing -- or criminal.
All sorts of outrageous lies and distortions were utilized by
the Administration to get Congress and the American people to approve
Bush&Co.'s war in Iraq -- the plans for which were approved by
mid-2002. All those untruths, exaggerations and manipulations are
evident for all to see these days -- which explains why, in current
polls, the first adjective that comes to the minds of many citizens
when pollsters ask what they think of Bush is "liar."
is the America I live in.
The Bush Administration promised
it would be dedicated stewards for our air and water, but, as with
virtually every other environmental decision, has given in to whatever
rollbacks in environmental protection are desired by the polluting
industries. More arsenic in the water, more industrial sludge in the
rivers, more pollutants in the air, whatever. And when scientists
raise questions about the Administration's environmental or
global-warming policies, they are treated as the enemy -- unless the
scientific judgment conforms to the Administration's political
Bush claims to care deeply for our soldiers and
veterans, but he sends our young men and women to Iraq with the wrong
post-war battle plan -- turning them into sitting ducks in a shooting
gallery -- and without the proper body armor and armored vehicles that
would save their lives in the guerrilla battle being waged. And he has
provided no troops to guard Saddam's huge ammo dumps around the
country; these are the same dumps that are scavenged nightly for
armaments to make bombs that blow up our troops. U.S. soldiers, poorly
paid in any case, were expected to pay for their meals while in
hospital, and veterans benefits are cut back home.
commander-in-chief apparently did not complete his military service in
the National Guard during the Vietnam War, and appears to have gone
AWOL for at least a half-year, maybe more. At first, he claimed there
are no records, trust him, he fulfilled his responsibility, the proof
being that he received an honorable discharge. When the public didn't
buy that, he dumped hundreds of pages of records, which showed nothing
conclusive. (His records and arrest sheet reportedly were "cleansed"
of anything embarrassing before he ran for public office.) He's had
years to remember and contact members of his Alabama Guard unit, to
verify his claim that he showed up, but he has no names to suggest,
and nobody believable has come forward. But Bush is quite happy to
play dress-up soldier, and to send young men and women to fight and
die and kill in Iraq and elsewhere.
The Bush Administration
doesn't include the costs of war in Iraq in the defense budget;
instead, it comes to Congress for "emergency" appropriations -- $50
billion here, $87 billion there -- to pay for that war-of-choice, and
then browbeats legislators into passing those requests in the guise of
"supporting the troops." (Only a share of those funds "support the
troops"; the fat slice goes to "reconstruction," meaning, in practice,
to huge conglomerates like Bechtel and Halliburton.) Those who don't
vote for those bills know they will be smeared with the "unpatriotic"
All those billions for the Iraq adventure are draining
and bankrupting the national treasury, building up half a trillion
dollar deficit this year (and, it is estimated, many trillions more in
next seven years) that will have to be paid for somehow -- but not by
the wealthiest in our society, who are receiving huge tax cuts. No,
that bill is being paid for by the poor and middle-class, whose public
services are being cut left and right, and whose children and
grandchildren will have to pay through the nose just to maintain the
interest payments on that humongous debt.
This is the
America I live in.
A good share of the elderly, and
soon-to-be-elderly, in this country often have to face the
excruciating choice of paying the rent or buying their required
medicines. The Bush Administration, knowing something had to be done
before the election, concocted a half-baked Medicare drug-scheme that
would permit the insurance and pharmaceutical companies to make out
like bandits at the expense of true reform and aid. (Seniors no longer
will be permitted to purchase those drugs legally in foreign
countries, at a discount; the Medicare administration could get the
drugs at a much cheaper rate if it negotiated with the pharmaceutical
companies to do so, but that is now outlawed.)
workers have paid into the Social Security system for decades,
expecting to receive their Social Security checks as promised to help
them through their retirement years. Now, as the Baby Boomers are
about to reach retirement age, there is serious talk of cutting back
on those promised payments in order to help cover the gap in income
caused by the Bush Administration's wars and tax-cuts for the wealthy.
To distract us from examining Bush&Co.'s appalling record
of mistakes, mismanagement, incompetence, and the ramifications of its
reckless foreign adventurism and greed-oriented domestic policy, it
has become so desperate that it's chosen homosexuals as its designated
scapegoat for all that ails us in this nation. If Bush&Co. have
their way, gays will be written into an amended Constitution as
second-class citizens, something that hasn't occurred since slavery
This is the America I live in.
THERE IS ANOTHER COUNTRY I LIVE IN
country, citizens cherish the Constitutional protections afforded
everyone, even those we may abhor. Our country does not attack other
nations as a choice of geopolitical strategy, but only as a last
resort in self-defense. The government really feels for its citizens
and their daily dilemmas in getting through life, including the need
for them to have safe, well-paying employment and decent health-care.
The administration does not turn over pollution-control to the
polluters, does not privatize away its public services, does not favor
the wealthy corporate class in its tax policies. The government does
not attempt to alter the Constitution to permit bias to be written
into law. The leaders do not use divisiveness to push us apart but
rally us to be helpful and tolerant and inclusive. The government does
not attempt to keep its citizens in a constant state of fright.
Teachers are permitted to teach and inspire, instead of mostly
programming students for fact-based test-taking. Our foreign policy is
developed in concert with our allies rather than as a sole, swaggering
superpower bully enforcing its way around the globe.
the America I used to live in. That is the America I still want to
live in. That is the America it is still possible to live in, 9/11 or
not, a new pre-election terror attack or not.
people finally are starting to focus on the lies, duplicity, greed,
arrogance, incompetence and general mean-spiritedness of Bush and his
cohorts. They are not doing so just because of an upcoming election,
but because those policies are doing great damage to each of us each
day -- to the economy, to our jobs and job-security, to our health
care, to our air we breathe and water we drink, to our crumbling
infrastructure, to our declining and disappearing public services, to
our inadequate school systems, to our sense of ourselves as a moral,
BEWARE OF CORNERED
Bush's "re-elect" numbers are plummeting, his
performance ratings are falling, his popularity is sinking. The
arrogant hubris that got him to the top, and that so flummoxed his
opposition for so long, is coming home to roost. He and his cronies
have been found out, and they'll be bounced out -- and few will mourn
their going from power, not even many true conservatives, horrified at
how their party has been hijacked by greedy, power-hungry neo-cons,
who have turned the Administration into a take-the-money-and-run
system and into a huge, Big Brotherish police-state enterprise.
But cornered snakes are the most dangerous. One can only guess
at the dirty tricks and surprises that Karl Rove and his operatives
have in store for the Democratic nominee, and for us as a people. But
those sleazy tactics may not work as well this time. At last, Bush and
his neo-con friends are wounded, and may, through the determined and
persistent opposition of an aroused public, be brought
But these guys are not going to go easily. They fought
like tigers to get installed in power, and they will fight with every
weapon, legit or criminal, in their arsenal. That is why it is
incumbent on each of us -- liberal, conservative, moderate,
independent, libertarian -- to gear up, now, to help defeat the
Bush&Co. crowd in November. (This assumes that in the wake of a
new terrorist attack, any Bush attempt to impose martial law on the
country -- "postponing" the election until the "war on terror" is
concluded -- will be successfully resisted.)
That means, if necessary, our willingness to vote for
the Democratic candidate, even if we don't agree with certain aspects
of his program. That means sending money to, and volunteering time
for, whomever the Dem candidate turns out to be. That means
registering as many new voters as possible in the next few months.
That means pressuring the election officials in our various states and
counties to disallow touch-screen computer voting until or if the
software problems can be made transparent and are fixed -- and until
alternative machines can be purchased that provide a paper trail for
verification. That means talking to friends and neighbors and
colleagues about the dire situation in which we find ourselves under
Bush -- and, if he were to win, the even more egregious things that
will transpire after the election -- and the absolute need to change
Our country finds itself in one of those periods when
the shadow forces have emerged to take us back to darker, more
authoritarian and rigid times. But shafts of light are beginning to
pour through more and more cracks in the Bush&Co. edifice. The
force of light is coalescing across the country, and, if we do our job
correctly, will aid in swinging history's pendulum away from the
shadow world into a new dawn of hope and progress.
eyes have to remain on the prize: to break the back and momentum of
the Bush&Co. juggernaut. Once they are out of the White House, we
can work to undo all the damage they have done (and are doing right
now) and set about to push for true reforms and progressive programs.
We will re-light the lamps of righteousness, and illuminate the path
to a better country for all.
What you are willing to do will
depend on which vision of America you favor. Which America do you want
to live in?
Let's get to work.