THINK ... IT'S PATRIOTIC
How Fucked We are Right Now
by Alan Blevins
May 2nd, 2004
Some may suggest that if I was a more eloquent person or had more respect for myself than to drop the “F-Bomb” in the title of this rant, it would be called “Reasons I Don’t Like George W. Bush”. Unfortunately, that title seriously underemphasizes the severity of the situation. If all there was to say could be summarized with “I disagree with the policies of the blah blah blah…” there is no doubt that this whole website would not exist today. To draw an analogy of sorts, one can liken my political awareness in general to the obese next door neighbor who never ventures from his residence: only in the event of flames springing from the roof and smoke cascading out the windows will this chubby recluse ever see the light of day. Well, the house is burning down, and as I wipe the sweat from my proverbial quadruple-chin, my beady eyes squint in awesome radiance of the sun.
How fucked we are right now:
Without a doubt, the war in Iraq is the single unifying issue that embodies most of the problems I see in this administration, and therefore many of the problems that are bestowed upon our country as a result. It is my firm belief that Bush and Co. acted on this internationally significant issue with haste, arrogance, and a “17-year-old-in-a-Camaro” machismo that is not only unbecoming of the leader of the free world, but inappropriate to the point of being tremendously dangerous.
There is now mounting evidence that, as early as the day after 9/11, the Bush administration was bound and determined to take up a war with Iraq, despite the fact that Iraq was uninvolved in the terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center. This is a deeply disturbing thing; even in the immediate wake of the attacks on our country, the fight against al-Qaeda and terrorism in general was tainted by a blood-lust for Iraq.
Let's get this straight right now: the war in Iraq has NOTHING TO DO with the war on terror. al-Qaeda is unrelated to Saddam Hussein. The destruction of downtown Manhattan and the lost lives of thousands of New Yorkers are unconnected with any persons, groups, or events that have transpired in Iraq. Simply stated, these are two different issues.
Why then would we actively pursue Iraq with the greater issue of terrorism still at hand? Because President Bush knew that he could. With a soaring popularity unlike any president has seen in years, the unconditional support of the majority of Americans gave him the green-light to pursue this longstanding interest. All he had to do was set the ball rolling. Allow me, for a moment, to take a stroll down memory lane…
On February 5th, 2003, Colin Powell presented to the United Nations “undeniable evidence” that Iraq was harboring weapons of mass destruction, evading UN weapons inspectors, and actively developing a nuclear weapons program. Using as-of-then recently declassified intelligence, including satellite imagery and bits of intercepted phone calls, Powell did his best to prove to the UN that Iraq was blatantly refusing to disarm, and even producing new weapons in the meantime. He also called on UN Resolution 1441 to give the Iraqi government one last chance to completely yield to weapons inspectors or prepare for “serious consequences”.
The general reaction to this presentation was not favorable of Powell's implications. Naturally, the Iraqi delegate denied all the charges against his country. Other delegates almost immediately took sides on the issue, with only Britain and Spain backing the US. Nearly all other countries were in favor of a peaceful solution to this problem.
As it became increasingly clear that war was at hand, the world rallied against it. On February 15th, 2003, the largest protest in the history of the world was held. Estimates of the number of protesters demonstrating range from 6 to 15 million. Converging in immeasurable crowds in cities across the globe, these people came together to convey a single idea: don't go to war with Iraq. (Consider that these are just the people who were willing to give up a day from their lives to express their views. One can only assume that the number of non-protesters with similar views was exponential in comparison.)
To make things official, Bush declared war on Iraq on March 19th, 2003. Despite the peace protests. Against the urgings of the greater part of the United Nations. To hell with all of it, let's get that Saddam.
The problem here is, in my opinion, when declaring war in the name of international policy, it would be a good idea to have international support. It seems entirely hypocritical to advance into battle using a United Nations resolution as reason and justification without the consent or approval of the United Nations itself. The foreign policy that justifies this rationale is irresponsible, dangerous, and, as suggested by congressman Dr. Ron Paul, even unconstitutional.
As the fighting raged and cities fell, no weapons were found. Even traces of the ghosts of weapons past were hard to come by. On May 1st, 2003, Bush declared an end to “major combat operations in Iraq” after making a dramatic entrance by Navy surveillance jet onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. He later gave a speech to the sailors and the world under a banner declaring “Mission Accomplished”. Some have since argued that this banner was not placed under the direction of the Bush administration, but rather by the soldiers on board the aircraft carrier. Even if these allegations are true and the banner was indeed a mistake for which Bush was not accountable, his words on that day still marched to the beat of the same drum. "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed" was the exact phrase used. That was over a year ago.
The number of US soldiers who have lost their lives as a direct result of this war is over 500 and counting, with more than 100 of these deaths in April alone.
As of this writing, we are still in Iraq, with plans to “hand over control” on June 30th. As the deadline looms, a major question still remains to be answered by Bush and friends: who exactly are we turning power over to, and how do they plan to govern and control a post-Saddam Iraq? It is all but clear that when the official occupation ends in June, an unofficial occupation of similar magnitude will be needed in July, lest Iraq collapse into complete and utter chaos.
Because we have acted with haste, and alienated most potential allies in the process, we find ourselves in quite the precarious situation. It is obvious that the Iraqi people will refuse any government established by US forces. Even if an international team is assembled to remedy the situation, it will most certainly call for heavy US backing in the way of military support. Either way, our armed forces have a long fight ahead of them with no certain end in sight.
In the meantime, President Bush has been cracking jokes about those wacky WMDs. Please follow this link and watch the video if you haven't already. (click the picture of Bush to begin the download)
The worst part of all of this is that we still have a war on terror to fight. Saddam Hussein may have been captured as a result of all of this, but the man responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks is still at large. The fact that we put aside our efforts to destroy al-Qaeda in favor of a war which was largely unnecessary is deeply disturbing. Even more troubling is the lack of international support we will have, if and when this anti-terror effort is resumed, as a direct result of our global disregard for the opinions of our former allies. It was a dangerous gamble that Bush took in leading us into Iraq, and we’re already paying the price for it.
Several people have pointed out to me that I am no genius when it comes to the economy. I would also like to point this out. Although I've had one course in micro-economics years ago in high school, for which I earned college credit, economics in general is mostly a mystery to me. When people start tossing around terms like GDP and Federal Interest Rate, my mind turns to other more interesting things, like the Ninja Turtles. Remember that one where they saved the train that April was riding from Shredder and his evil plot? It was totally killer.
Turtles aside, it seems to me that one does not need to be a mastermind of economic theory to come to the conclusion that something is not right here. I would hope that anyone with even the vaguest notion of “numbers” would raise an eyebrow to the fact that since George W. Bush has been in office, the largest budget surplus in the history of the United States of America is now the largest budget deficit in the history of the United States of America. I saw a bar graph of this once, it was pretty depressing.
Aside from that, the approach that Bush has taken to try and remedy our economic situation is more wrong than an oven-mitt salesman at a women's rights convention. The Bush tax cuts have dangerously jeopardized funding for many important programs, the effects of which can be seen at the Washington Citizen Action website. There are several documents that may be downloaded from there regarding exactly the effect these tax cuts have on the American people.
Also, in keeping with the “I'm no economic genius” theme, I'd like to point you to this website, which keeps a running list of articles regarding W's economic policies, and their effects (or lack thereof). Each excerpt has a documented source at the bottom. While I am aware that a website named “The Truth About George” may be (is) liberally slanted, the articles summarized only leave so much room for spin to be applied (it's hard to put a liberal slant on, say, 2.2 million jobs lost, $521 billion budget deficit), so I'm confident that these summaries are mostly accurate.
Prodigy of economics I am not, but the numbers speak for themselves.
An issue of particular importance to me is the environment. Call me a liberal hippie tree hugger communist, but I think this is something everyone should take seriously. My logic is this: we have one environment. It's not like eyeballs where if you accidentally poke one out, playing with sticks like your mother told you not to, there's a second one available and you can go on seeing and call it a lesson learned. No, it's not like that at all: if we mess it up, we're screwed. In June of 2002, the EPA under George W. Bush admitted for the first time that humans cause global warming. In a baffling statement just months later, the EPA asserted that carbon dioxide, the chief cause of global warming, is not a pollutant. To me, if global warming is bad, it only follows logically that the cause of global warming must also be bad. Also, as a general rule, chemicals produced that are bad for the environment are referred to as “pollutants”.
Protecting the environment, however, involves making sacrifices. Goods produced in an environmentally sound way tend to cost more, implementing environmental controls can add stress and financial burden on industries, and fuel-efficient cars (unlike SUVs) are not capable of transporting a complete Bavarian circus troupe. For the sake of the future, though, we must begin to accept some of these sacrifices.
Or, at the very least, I would settle for not undoing progress that has already been made.
Since taking office, Bush has made over 50 changes to a range of environmental policies, though rarely for the better. Notably, this list includes a step-up in oil drilling operations (particularly in the Alaskan wilderness), a loosening of logging restrictions, and proposals to weaken air and water pollution laws enacted over three decades ago.
“Why would you regulate a pollutant that is an inert gas that is vital to plant photosynthesis and that people exhale when they breathe?” argues Eron Shosteck, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. This argument is perhaps the worst argument for or against anything I've ever heard of in my life. (People breathe it! Photosynthesis, that's a science word! Inert! Inert!) Yes, people do exhale carbon dioxide, but they don't exhale billions of metric tons of it. The majority of CO2 produced comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Now, who do we know that's involved in fossil fuels?
Additionally, well-thought-out plans are being altered and under funded. For example, I offer the case of the Energy Star initiative, a plan to conserve energy by producing more efficient appliances. This plan is so effective, it produces “$70 in benefits for every dollar spent on it”. However, this EPA-sponsored program, like many government programs, has recently seen less funding. With less support, fewer potential “Energy Star” appliances can be tested, and fewer contracts to support energy efficiency can be maintained. If even a win/win policy such as this one cannot be maintained, it's no surprise that other policies are being altered as well:
The Bush energy plan is increasingly reliant on fossil fuels
Clean air rules are being relaxed
Land contaminated with PCBs (which are known carcinogens) may now be sold to developers before cleaning occurs
Automakers may continue to build less efficient vehicles thanks to a loophole recently renewed by Bush
And the list goes on... see BushGreenwatch and Natural Resources Defense Council
Just a little investigation reveals that we're worse off environmentally than we were four years ago, and there's no sign of getting any better.
On January 8th, 2002, George W. Bush signed the “No Child Left Behind” act into law. This legislation was the result of the hard work of a bipartisan committee in order to ensure that every child in every public school in America gets the education he or she deserves. Through a system of accountability, encouragement, and funding, the No Child Left Behind act was set to reform school districts across the nation, and thought to be a fine achievement for US lawmakers.
And then, Bush cut the funding for it. In 2004, NCLB was under funded by $9.7 billion. As a result “7000 school districts and 11 states” will be “losing significant funding” for the Title I program, which is designed to help the most disadvantaged students (the ones in danger of being Left Behind).
In the end, maybe this isn't so bad. Children who have a hard time learning probably don't deserve a proper education anyhow.
Chances are, if you take great offense to bad words, you've left my website by now (or are actively engaged in writing me an e-mail calling me a “typical foul-mouthed liberal”). Which is fine, of course, as it's your right to do so.
Rights, however, are becoming an interesting topic these days, particularly with regard to that zany First Amendment. There is a dangerous precedent being set currently, perpetrated by the FCC, and pushed forward by the Bush administration.
I've heard that a few people watched the Super Bowl this year and were treated to some special entertainment during the halftime show. A good fraction of America was shown a glimpse of one of Janet Jackson's breasts, and judging by the reaction, thousands of couches throughout the nation were in need of new upholstery shortly afterwards. This momentary display of a nipple on American broadcast television was an unparalleled first, and sent hundreds scrambling for answers.
The Federal Communications Commission, in an effort to uphold the dignity, pride, and honor of American media, is undertaking a witch hunt to track down and fine anyone and anything that might be obscene or offensive. Radio stations have since begun dropping shows and firing hosts at even the threat of potential legal action, and further, at the threat of a threat of potential trouble.
This brings us again to the historical quandary about exactly what is obscene, and who should be allowed to consume this foul media, if anybody. If my understanding is correct, obscenity is to be determined by the most average member of society (to grossly simplify the rule). This is not the case today, and while I shy away from referencing 1984, the fact stands that it is increasingly the directive of the current administration which is determining obscenity and not the consensus of the American people.
Regarding Howard Stern’s recent trouble with these policies, Jeff Jarvis summarizes very nicely in his essay, “F*cked by the F*CC”:
| If the government is going to regulate speech, where's the line and who's going to draw it? Is it at the least-common-denominator that makes all media safe for 5-year-olds? Is it at the church door that makes all media safe for church ladies? Is it at my car door so I can still listen to Stern? Is the line going to be drawn just on broadcast or will it extend to cable and satellite--and the Internet? Will the censored be just shock jocks--or newsmakers or bloggers?|
I couldn't say it better than Michael Powell -- the old, freedom-loving Michael Powell -- did in 1999 when he accepted the Freedom of Speech Award (which one assumes is now hanging in his bathroom): "I have gained a deep and profound respect for the wisdom of having an unwavering principle that stands at the summit of the Constitution, and holds: 'Government shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.'... Benevolent or not, we did not sign away to a Philosopher-King the responsibility to determine for us, like a caring parent, what messages we should and should not hear."
Now more than ever, George W. Bush is playing up his faith and his beliefs as an evangelical Christian. Often enough, one can find him asserting these beliefs in various aspects of his administration and policy.
I have no problems whatsoever with Bush being a Christian. I am myself a Christian, and have been all my life. What does concern me about this is a violation of the Constitutional separation of church and state. At a time when we are at war with a primarily Islamic country, and fighting against terrorists who justify their actions using an extreme (and grossly incorrect, I’m told) interpretation of the Koran, it is profoundly dangerous to be justifying our actions as “in the name of God”. To do so casts us as nothing more than crusaders, which could seriously hurt our legitimacy in the fight against terrorism. As sagely mandated by the forefathers, we must remain secular in reasoning, lest we be seen as terrorists ourselves.
For all of the reasons listed above and many more which are less verifiable or issues of a personal nature (and thus remain unstated), I sincerely believe that George W. Bush does not deserve a second term in office. The facts, the numbers, and the issues all stand for themselves: right now, we're fucked.
SO PLEASE! IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THIS...VOTE FOR KERRY!