A dark Independence Day
I find it ironic that on Independence Day 2006, America is the closest it has ever been to serving a monarchy since 1776, when we declared independence from King George’s England.
As I write, the current Republican leadership of our great democracy is working feverishly to curtail and eventually destroy the freedom and civil rights of all Americans.
In a move that would make the Founders take up arms again if they were around to see it, the Republicans, led by the current would-be King George, are slowly but surely dismantling America’s great Constitution and Bill of Rights.
It’s hard to believe that in less than six short years, more than two centuries of hard-won, precious democracy are coming to an end. And it’s all because one village idiot, lurching around on strings jerked by the clever, wicked puppet masters who created him, was able to shyster his way into the presidency and appoint a cabinet of made up entirely of greedy, evil fools.
It was a coup in slow motion. And because 230 years have passed since Americans have felt the yoke of monarchy or the whip of tyranny, we sat on our hands, looked the other way and allowed it to happen. Fat and happy, complacent and apathetic because our lives were easy and our government (we thought) was on our side, we hemmed and hawed and looked the other way as the presidency was stolen. It was hard, you see, to understand. And so rather than work to understand it – and thus fight it and set it right – we took the easy way out and accepted it. We didn’t want to rock the boat. We wanted to put the uncomfortable moment behind us and move on. To get along. Because Americans are nice people.
That was our first mistake.
Our second mistake came after a small group of Islamic extremists, armed with ridiculously simple weapons, hijacked four jet airliners and crashed two of them into the World Trade Center, the third into the Pentagon, and the fourth into a field in Pennsylvania, killing 3,000 innocent Americans in the process. Shocked, stunned, deeply frightened, angry and wanting revenge against those who’d hurt us, we placed the power to declare war solely in the village idiot’s eager hands. At the same time, we passed without thought the Orwellian-named Patriot Act, a law that put our most precious civil liberties at grave risk, thinking that this was what we had to do in order to avoid another such tragedy.
Our thinking was shallow and fundamentally, deeply mistaken. To save the house from fire, we burned it down and breathed a chuckleheaded sigh of relief.
Since those scary, purple days in September 2001, when we handed them complete power over us, the village idiot and his warped masters haven’t looked back.
They took us to war against the Taliban in Afghanistan because it aided and abetted the ones who’d attacked us, Osama bin Ladin and his ragtag network of terrorists, al Qaeda. That seemed the right thing to do, and if felt mighty good to whack someone. While we crowed over our “victory,” though, we let Osama get away from us because catching him was, to quote the village idiot, “hard work.” And then instead of rebuilding the country we’d bombed and occupied, we set up a weak, puppet democracy, refused to spend any more treasure on it than we absolutely had to, and abandoned it, because, you know, rebuilding a country is hard work, too. Today, the once-ousted Taliban is regaining strength and numbers, the hapless people we “liberated” are pretty damned tired of being left with nothing but rocks to eat and hovels to live in and are taking up their pitchforks, and the puppet government is virtually powerless outside its fortifications. We are, once again, facing more war in unfortunate Afghanistan and with squandering more treasure (a projected $83 billion by the end of 2006, according to costofwar.com). As of June 30, 308 American soldiers have been killed there, and there’s no accurate count of the number of Afghanis killed and injured. But it’s hard work, so we’re just sitting back and watching as Afghanistan falls apart, rather than acting.
In the meantime, the village idiot and his masters took us to war against Iraq, a country which had nothing to do with the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 but which was both an annoying pebble in the idiot’s shoe and a wonderful opportunity to stuff vast treasure into the mattresses of his masters. To get the American people to go along with pre-emptive war, they lied.
They told us that Saddam Hussein did too have something to do with Sept. 11 (though they were fuzzy on exactly what that “something” was) and even if he didn’t, he would have if he’d thought of it – he certainly had box-cutters! Besides, he had Weapons of Mass Destruction squirreled away. And not only that, he was surely dreaming of making nuclear bombs, which he’d sell to Osama for a discount, and we all know what he’d do with them. Mixing metaphors with gleeful abandon, they told us if we didn’t act right now, we just might see the “smoking gun become a mushroom cloud.”
So, ever credulous and still wetting our panties over phantom Osamas, we did it. We made war upon a country which posed no actual threat to us, toppled its leader and bombed the holy crap out of thousands of innocent people. It was a great series on TV – lots of boom-boom, though it was a little disappointing when we weren’t greeted with flowers like the puppet masters promised us, except for a couple of staged incidents. A few months later, the village idiot dressed up in a manly flight suit with parachute webbing that cupped his balls prominently for all the world to see, strutted around on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and declared “Mission Accomplished.”
Except, it wasn’t.
There was that niggly little matter of “post-war planning,” which would have taken too long, gotten in the way of the successful marketing plan and was, you know, really, really hard work.
Today we still occupy a country made up of many different, volatile religious sects who hate each other at least as much as they now hate us. Because the pebble in the idiot’s shoe hurt his foot – and his masters are hauling in lucre hand-over-fist – we’re making the Iraqi people live in bombed-out rubble, we’ve taken away their clean water, food and electricity, and killed and injured so many of them that their doctors, hospitals and morgues can’t possibly keep up. We’ve destroyed their precarious economy, their hopes, their dreams and their lives – and we don’t have a plan, let alone a clue.
It’s been over three years since we started the war in Iraq. There were no WMD. For most of that time we’ve been fighting an insurgency, a guerrilla war our forces are badly suited for but which works a charm for the insurgents. We’re very good at firing rockets from the sky at buildings and blowing them up (along with anyone unlucky enough to be inside them) and at looking through infrared goggles so we can see bad guys at night, but we haven’t a clue what to do about dog carcasses stuffed full of explosives. And although we’ve spent $292, 944 billion — and counting — on the war so far, our soldiers still don’t have adequate body armor or armor for their vehicles. When they leave their fortified camps, they’re sitting ducks. Whadda way to support our troops.
As of July 1, 2,533 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Of those, 2,396 have died since the idiot declared “Mission Accomplished.” The official estimate of American soldiers wounded in the war stands at 18,490. With the summer heat soaring to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and higher, if they’re lucky, Iraqis get a couple of hours of electricity a day, courtesy of the American occupation. The drinking water supply is intermittent and toilets don’t work. Bombs go off with boring regularity, killing one, five, two dozen at a time. The sectarian violence has increased to a point where dozens of bodies are found nearly every day, people who were tortured to death or, if they were lucky, summarily executed with a bullet through the head. Buying gasoline for generators to cook meals and provide enough electricity for a few hours of light, or perhaps a brief respite from the heat, is an exercise in misery and terror. Iraqis wait in long lines of traffic under a blistering sun to fill gas cans, hoping the car next to them isn’t full of explosives about to detonate. And in a twist of terrible irony, in a country with the second-largest supply of oil in the world, gas is expensive.
“When the Iraqi people stand up, we can stand down,” says the idiot. More recently, he assured us that we won’t bring troops home from Iraq while he still “occupies” the White House. By that time, we’ll have been at war in Iraq for six years. God help us.
Here at home, the village idiot and his masters have worked hard to slash and burn the civil rights and freedom of all Americans, while preserving and fattening the bank accounts of the wealthiest 2 percent among us. They’ve destroyed America’s reputation and credibility around the world. While we blithely watch “American Idol” and Bill O’Reilly flap his poisonous lips about the War on Christmas and invite Osama to bomb Coit Tower in San Francisco, home of “liberals,” the Idiot Who Would Be King and his thugs have shamed America by engaging in the torture of prisoners, “renditions,” and the indefinite detention of prisoners without charges or hope of a fair trial.
They’ve spied on us, wiretapping our phones, perusing our e-mails and website visits, and looked at our bank accounts. They’ve kowtowed to the Religious Right, threatening our right to safe, legal abortions and even our right to use birth control. They’ve stacked the Supreme Court with their friends, raised the cost of Grandma’s Medicare and gleefully allowed the pharmaceutical companies and healthcare conglomerates to bleed us dry, while still not providing adequate healthcare to millions of Americans. They’ve played politics with our national security and stood idly by while their cronies rake in political payback, and in spite of all their shrieking over the “War on Terror,” they’ve left America just as unprotected as it was on Sept. 10, 2001.
They watched, deaf and dumb, as New Orleans drowned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and, nearly a year later, still haven’t fixed the levees or provided safe and adequate housing for the thousands who were left homeless. They control all three branches of government – and blame the press for reporting information they’ve already leaked themselves.
“But we haven’t been attacked again on our soil!” the village idiot and his masters crow. Indeed we haven’t. There has been no need for Osama bin Ladin and his ilk to waste money and manpower on attacking us again. They’re just sitting back, safe and sound, cheering us on as we pour gasoline over our own heads and light a match.
Happy Fourth of July.