29 September 2006

Last chance

Yesterday, Sept. 28, 2006, Congress passed the torture bill and destroyed American democracy as we know it. Even if the Supreme Court overturns the bill as unconstitutional, America has been changed forever.

I was nose-down at work all day, busy getting a newspaper and an advertising tab ready to publish. Not a single person who came through my chaotic office mentioned the dark work Congress was up to. Talk was about everyday things: the nice weather, a jammed thumb, the tasty bread, fruit and vegetables available from the local farmer’s market. Candidates running for local boards stopped by or called to make sure we knew their views on things important to the community. The Department of Homeland Security awarded the local fire department a big grant – close to a million bucks -- to hire more firefighters over the next five years to protect the growing bedroom community from wildfire and, one guesses, to try to save our lives should we be attacked by terrorists wielding bio-bombs and box cutters. Yet another local kids’ soccer team won yet another local championship, and adult league volleyball got off to a nice start.

But on this sunny, early autumn day, no one talked about the torture bill. It was a day like any other. Late in the afternoon, I got a news alert e-mail from CNN that told me the Senate had passed the bill. Now it will go on to the president, who will sign it, and in so doing, end this great democratic experiment.

I used to wonder how it was that the German people could accept Hitler and his Third Reich. I wondered how they could avert their eyes as the killing commenced all around them. I wondered why they didn’t rise up in outraged protest.

I don’t wonder anymore. Now I know how they did it, and I wish it was something I’d never had to learn.

Taken on day-to-day basis, the process of changing the face and workings of a government seems very, very slow. We have busy personal lives. There’s a paycheck to earn, bills to take pay, meals to cook, bathrooms to clean. The front lawn needs raked and kitchen floor swept, that report to the boss has to get done, the kids need help with homework. The dog upchucked on the carpet, it dried into a gristly crust and now we need to figure out how to clean it up. We have family get-togethers to attend, funerals, weddings, graduations. We go to church and bible studies, to the gym, to cultural events.

By the time all that’s done, most of us want nothing more than to be left alone for a few hours. We watch TV, play video games, read books. Some of us fill those few empty hours with volunteer work, others with hobbies. We sleep at night, then get up and start all over again.

In the meantime, the outside world in all its legal and governmental complexity continues on around us. Most of us aren’t very interested in politics. We complain about higher gas prices, cuss at the price of a cut-up chicken at the grocery and bemoan the gridlocked traffic we fight each day as we go to work. The high cost of health care and prescription medications make us hot under the collar.

But these things are beyond our control, we think. They’re just the way things are. The only option is to tighten the belt another notch and get up a little earlier so we show up at the job on time. Without a paycheck, it all falls apart.

The TV we watch doesn’t tell us the whole story about the larger world. We get skewed and, increasingly, propagandized snippets that tell us only part of the story. What we learn from the talking heads convinces us that whatever it is our country is doing out there in “the world,” it must be right, because America is always on the side of right.

We’re the good guys, the white hats. We’re the culture that came up with Superman, right? Our parents were the “Greatest Generation.” We’re doing what we can to live up to them -- and many of us have.

So when we learn that our government has just legalized the detainment and torture, without hope of trial or release, of anyone declared an “unlawful enemy combatant” – including American citizens living on American soil -- we hardly miss a step. Can’t be real. Oh, it is? Well, our government knows what it’s doing.

Doesn’t it?

Yes, it does. Just as the German government knew what it was doing, ruthlessly and in cold blood. And it’s brought us to this point in just five short years.

I’ve decided I can’t call George W. Bush “Codpiece” anymore. It felt good to throw some snark at him, but the time for that is over. For the last six years, this president has run roughshod over America, her People and her Constitution, doing exactly what he damn well pleases. He cheated his way into the presidency in 2000, ignored warnings of terrorist attacks against the United States on our soil, and after the attacks happened, started two wars – one to make him look good, which he dropped in favor of prosecuting a second war against a weak but oily and strategic country. He did this based on lies and the excuse of his illusory War on Terror. He sent our soldiers into combat without adequate body armor, support or equipment and refused to allow us to mourn their deaths properly. He ordered the return their broken bodies, in flag-covered caskets, to their country only during the dark of night and kept the press from making a photographic record of his -- and our -- shame.

After barely being re-elected in 2004, he turned his dark attention on his own country and began waging war here, blatantly breaking the laws that make America what she is and systematically shredding the Constitution. Today, Americans are the victims of eavesdropping, without a warrant, on their phone conversations by our own government. And now, that same government can, simply by calling you or me an “unlawful enemy combatant,” abduct, detain, and torture us – while not allowing us any opportunity, ever, for a fair trial or justice.

This president and his followers have turned America into a police state.
The only way we, as patriotic Americans, can fight back against this tyranny is by voting. It is, literally, the only way we have to make our voices heard in a country that is increasingly fascistic. The election on Nov. 7 may be our last chance to force change, even in the face of huge odds.

I’m furious with the Democratic party for staying spinelessly silent in the run-up to the vote on the torture bill, and I have little respect for any of them anymore, even if most of them voted, in the end, against it. It was too little and too late, the latest instance of their abject cowardice in the face of political aggression. They’ve let their country down over and over again since the turn of the century, and they make me sick.

Nevertheless, regaining a Democratic majority in Congress is the only hope we have as Americans for preserving our America, the nation that once stood for freedom, liberty, equality, and justice for all.

Please, as angry as you are, as discouraged as you may be, cast your vote on Nov. 7.

If the Republican Congress maintains its majority, and continues to give the lawless and law-breaking George W. Bush and his corrupt and power-hungry administration free reign, there will never be another chance.


Casey Kochmer said...

Sadly a Democratic majority in Congress doesnt solve the problem as their are part of the problem. They help support the terror bill in the end.

I have been thinking about this for a while. I believe we still have hope. For we can have hope in out own personal actions.

My take on Freedom is that we have to act and be ourselves. If we let these terror bills, NSA spy bills, and all the dark gloom of the press stop us from acting to our nature, then we have lost freedom.

No! The answer is to always act out! Yes vote for the lesser of evils, but that isnt enouigh! Even if it's in small actions we must act not just speak. Actions do add up over time and they do make a difference.

Its taken many years for this to happen, so it's going to take a few years of us acting in the small ways and big ways together to make a new system.

So its now become a personal quest, our quest for freedom.

PS like you I was amazed at how buried this news topic was...

Tom said...

Blue Wren,

Please be wrong. I so much want you to be wrong on this (but I know you are right - maybe even more right than you know).

Cheney/Bush intends nothing less than totalitarian control of (at least) these United States. Such has been their intention all along.

Elections? As empty as they are now, they will become, under King George, entirely a mockery. The current scum in Washington must be ousted if we want any semblance of democracy to remain. Corrupt Democrats? Sure but maybe at least we can talk to them.

There's not room or time here for me to detail all the reasons why I know you're right. I'm betting you have known this all along and you've been trying to keep it light.

As conservative as I am, I may never vote for a Republican again. However, it appears that most in Washington - of ANY politcal stripe - have forgotten how to tell the truth. Please, Blue Wren, don't YOU stop telling the truth.

Keep on Bloggin'

Wil Morat said...

You make a good point - it isn't that Americans don't care, or are so stupid as to not see the truth, it's exactly as you say - they have their own busy lives, trying to support families and take care of themselves.

And when they do get their news, it's biased and misleading.

So there lies the rub - media responsibility. We've lost sight of the good ol' days when reporters and journalists aimed to provide a fourth estate and keep a daily check on executive and legislative power. Gone are the times when reporters dug for the truth and gave context to stories. Now corporate media has created a world in which only the sensation headlines grab the attention, and there is little time for in-depth analysis.

That is what the media used to provide for people too busy to take their own time - IN DEPTH ANALYSIS. Simply reporting the news isn't enough - it is the reporters job to analyze and dig, to weave a story from multiple sources and places - NOT simply to report what was said.

It's time for America to demand fairness and justice from not only their politicians - but their media. Without information, it's very hard to accomplish anything.

Kevin Wolf said...

Well said, Wren. I wonder if we can turn this around at the last minute or whether we'll go over the cliff.

My concern is the Dems who will still be cowed by Bush Inc, even if they gain a majority, simply because they will then be looking to 2008 and trying desperately not to look bad between this election and that. (Bad as defined by the Republicans, of course.)

As tom says, we need somebody who will tell the truth. Anybody.