Six Months Later
Six months since the world changed forever, or so we were told.
In that six months, things have changed, things have gone back to normal and things have grown, but I don't think we can say that we have fulfilled the promises we made back then.
What the hell am I talking about? We're fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan and have helped a new government give freedom to the people of that country, sure and ridding that country of an oppressive Fundamentalist government is a Good Thing. But remember how we said we would honor the people who died and go after terrorism by the roots to end it once and for all no matter how long it took or what we had to do?
We aren't doing it.
That's just how I see it.
It wasn't even an hour before the first profiteering started on eBay. People were putting up WTC souvenirs for bid, and while it was shouted down and stopped for the most part, the profiteering didn't stop. It just moved up the food chain and became more respectable. Instead of some slimy bastard selling his old WTC T-shirts on eBay, you have to go the Mall of America and buy "memorial" T-shirts at the "911 Emergency Store" where they also sell posters of the pictures of the WTC, fireman and policeman figures that are just this side of "Precious Moments" figurines, and mugs saying "We Will Never Forget" where a portion of the profits go to related charities so that you can feel all warm and fuzzy about treating the deaths of over 2000 people like the Super Bowl. You have car dealers tell you to "Fight Back By Taking Advantage of Zero Percent Financing To Keep America Rolling" because God Knows the terrorists will quake in fear as we buy a new SUV to buy gas that finances their activities. You have TV networks putting the American Flag at the corner of the screen while doing tabloid reporting and feeding us propaganda while saying that they are honoring the victims and touting how the war coverage has made their news divisions more profitable than even in their stock reports.
And the politicians are the worst war profiteers of all, using the word "terrorist" as a club to beat every pet project into place and call into question anyone who dares question them. Tom Dashcle said that he wanted to Senate to know what new "anti-terrorism" funding for the Pentagon would be used for before approving it and was called a traitor by the Minority leader, and the "President" said that anyone who questions his defense budget (the largest in history) is being "Unpatriotic." Yep, as I learned six months ago, asking "What?" is the most unpatriotic act of all.
The War Against Terrorism has become something else that isn't being explained to us, but we are to support it blindly. It's gone from "Osama Bin Laden, Dead or Alive!" to "Osama Bin laden....dead or alive? Well, we aren't sure." The President has called North Korea one of the "terrorist nations" even though South Korea has said that not only is this not true, but it is destroying chances for peace between the two countries. The Grudge Against Iraq has been pulled into the conflict, and while Cheney flies all over the world like Michael Jackson touring to avoid child endangerment charges every country but England is telling the US not to use this as an excuse to finish up old business. The White House has used the fight against terrorism to push an anti-drug campaign, tax cuts for campaign contributors, telling Americans to spend money they don't have, and set up a secret government that there is STILL no information about it's activities other than "To keep the country going in case of a terrorist attack." Odd isn't it, that all the people who accused Clinton of keeping everything secret, wanting to take away all of our rights and have a "hidden government" have actually set up a hidden government in a mountain somewhere? The reason the X-Files is being canceled isn't because it's run out of ideas, but because the real conspiracies make a hidden government force colluding with aliens isn't "out there" enough anymore.
Anyone, and I mean ANYONE using the tragedy to push a financial or political program of any kind is worthy of nothing but our contempt. Instead of fighting terrorism by going to Disney World, why not fight terrorism by...oh, gee, I don't know...let me think...FIGHTING TERRORISM.
And yet, the reason we were attacked is ignored.
Bush calls the terrorists "Evildoers" because if someone is evil, no motive is required. And no, suggesting a wider context than "They hate our freedom" does not justify an attack on innocent civilians. What they did was wrong, should be condemned, and the Nations of the world should decide to band together to destroy terrorism, and shove all terrorists in prisons that make the HBO show "OZ" look like "Hogan's Heroes".
But they don't hate our freedom. That's the most profoundly stupid thing a President has said since "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
They hate that we preach freedom and practice the opposite. The best example I can think of is Iran, where we propped up the Shah for years, trained his secret police and helped him stay in power. Then, when the people DID rise up and demand democracy, they were a bit peeved at the US and we had no idea why. Now, we aren't training the secret police in Saudi Arabia (where all but two of the terrorists came from) but we do use our oil money to keep a monarchy in place as the people press for the freedom to choose their own leaders.
Kings and Princes are so bad that we in the US fought to make sure they weren't in charge of us. But when it comes to making sure we get cheap oil, I guess they are just spiffy.
I also would like to put forth the idea that while our attitude of "To hell with their rights" may make us feel better and give the Defense Secretary something witty to say when he's asked about human rights, it's a dangerous precedent. No, not because the Government might start treating Joe Average the same way, there are too many lawyers who would salivate at the idea of suing everyone involved for that to happen. No, it's the precedent that if we treat people poorly, don't follow the Geneva Convention and look for ways to weasel out of it ("They aren't prisoners of war because we don't recognize their government") when OUR soldiers, tourists, and citizens abroad are treated the same or worse, we have lost the moral high ground.
We'll go to an international body to protest and the country will be able to use our own arguments against us. Can you imagine the horror?
And didn't we start this by saying we were the best country in the world? Don't we WANT to be a beacon of freedom and fairness that other countries can ascribe to? I know I have heard too many speeches from people saying the US is the best country in the world. We should act like it and start following international law on the treatment of prisoners and the rules of engagement in war. And if you think it doesn't matter, ask a die hard Southern their opinion of General Sherman's March to the Sea, which was overwhelming popular in the North when it happened.
Nothing has stopped the killing in Kosovo more than dragging Milsovec in front of a court and making him look like the madman he is. His followers have deserted him for the most part, his former country is a recognized democracy and he has been shown that the rule of law will be enforced throughout the world.
The worst part of it all in my eyes is that we have become so blind to what is going on around us that we no longer care what rights are taken from us in the US. Sure the people on the left point at Attorney General Ashcroft and say, "See, he's the bad man we always told you he was." Problem is they are so busy watching him, they don't notice that the rest of Bush's team is sneakily going about taking more of our rights and pushing their agenda because no one is watching them.
Just a brief list of things that snuck by while we were being patriotic:
The US has said that they will "Unsign" a treaty to set up an international criminal court, putting all of the treaties the US has agreed to in danger of becoming invalid because the Bush Administration doesn't want to answer foreign criticism of some of its more...unsavory policies.
The Bush Administration has been accused of aiding in a coup that would have overthrown the duly elected leader of Venezuela after meeting with coup leaders who said that they would favor an oil policy more favorable to companies that contributed to Bush's campaign.
Bush's Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service indicate they'll cave in a lawsuit by real estate developers to reduce the protected habitats of many endangered species.
George W. Bush, and his regulatory czar, John Graham plan to eliminate regulations across the board, applying a pseudoscientific analysis that favors business over the public interest.
President Clinton imposed rules requiring pharmaceutical companies to test their drugs to make sure they were safe on children. On the one hand, the idea of experiments involving kids is kind of unpalatable. On the other hand, it's important that pediatricians know exactly what dosages of what drugs to give to kids. That's why when President Bush rescinds the rule as a gift to the drug companies, against the recommendation of American Academy of Pediatrics.
Colombia's government doesn't have the best human rights record. In a long, bitter, multi-party civil war, the army has racked up a record of torture and murder. The Bush administration is removing restrictions that said that Columbia had to improve its human rights record before we would send military aid to the country. Bush's plan is that U.S. military forces can become directly involved in Colombia's civil war, and the Colombian military has no incentive to improve its human rights record.
His budget specifically states that he won't pursue a reauthorization of the taxes on corporations that pay for Superfund cleanups, meaning that the money to pay for them will have to come from you and me.
That enough, or do you want more proof? You say you haven't heard much about these stories? Of course not. Remember, John Ashcroft said to Congress that criticizing the President and his agenda during wartime is tantamount to aiding and abetting the enemy.
So, if my next droning comes to you from prison, you'll know why.
Meet the New Bush, same as the old Bush.
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