Thursday, December 29, 2005
What kind of America?Although the past year was marked by sudden and traumatic events, starting with the tsunami that shocked us last Christmas, change generally occurs gradually, and often we do not notice even very substantial and threatening changes. In the past five years, I have become increasingly alarmed at changes that threaten what we love most about America.
The middle class is under attack. Tax breaks for the rich have been financed by the accumulation of debts that threaten the financial security of all Americans. Corporate bosses have off-shored many thousands of jobs, and for four years in a row median income in the United States has declined in real terms! More Americans do not have health insurance. Pension commitments are being broken. The GOP wants to walk away from Social Security, and bankruptcy has been "reformed" to ensure that the credit card companies get their pound of flesh. Corporate interests and the interests of the most wealthy and privileged Americans are the priorities of the Congress and of the President.
Despite the President's empty rhetoric about the march of democracy, we have abandoned any claim to idealism. We are a renegade nation, an aggressor who launched an unprecedented "preventive" war against Iraq. We do nothing to prevent genocide in Darfur. We cast aside the Geneva Conventions and international commitments regarding torture. With secret "interrogation" facilities around the world, we send prisoners to countries that will torture people for us (when even the Gonzales rationalizations are too limiting for our needs).
Our Congress is an embarrassment. The stink of corruption that attaches to Tom DeLay has been spread far and wide among the GOP. Congress abdicated its war powers responsibility, and has permitted the President to run a war that was never justified, except by false information that the Executive branch presented in support of its desire to invade Iraq. There has been no check on the power of the Executive, even as the incompetence, dishonesty and foolhardy nature of this administration has become painfully apparent.
The President has claimed unprecedented powers in the name of national security. He has ordered widespread wiretaps and surveillance of Americans. He insists that his powers as Commander in Chief inherently allow him to do whatever he likes during "time of war" -- even the arrest and indefinite detention of Americans.
What we were once, we are no more. Where are we headed? Are you okay with all of this?
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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