2. The system, policies, or practices of such a government.
Yesterday, I had a chance to relax-- to stay at home and recline on the Lazy Boy; my body felt calm and peaceful for the first time in over a month. Centered from a few days of intense—yet ever joyful!—meditation, contemplation, chanting (i.e. singing the name of God), and journaling my thoughts and emotions, I began watching the U.S. Senate debate regarding the “Detainee Treatment and Trials Bill”. I sat in awe as I watched these highly intelligent men and women read their speeches and express their views on subjects such as interrogation and detention of prisoners in this ‘war on terror’. Overall, I was so glad to see democracy in motion as the Democratic Senators pleaded with the Republican majority to listen to their views and to take their proposed amendments to the Detainee Bill seriously. It did not take long to realize that the Democrats’ efforts were in vein. Although the Republicans seemed to listen to the substantiated arguments put forth by the Democratic Senators as they outlined their amendments—for example, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-West Virginia and Vice Chairmen of the United States Senate Committee on Intelligence)—they made it clear that they were not going to budge. As the Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Rockefeller proposed an amendment that would give Congress the oversight they need to ensure that our intelligence gathering agencies stay within the law—that our PRESIDENT stays within the law. The amendment, in my estimation, was flawed in that it made mandatory quarterly field reports. However, if President Bush had given the Senate more than a couple of hours to debate and pass the bill, both sides of the political party would have had the time to work together to create the best bill possible, which could have included at least a little more congressional oversight, as Senator Rockefeller intimated needs be.
That brings me to my first major point: WHY IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES STRONG-ARMING LEGISLATION. THAT IS NOT THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS IN THE DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL ARENA WE CALL THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! The Constitution makes it clear that Congress has legislative power:
All legislative powers herin granted shall be vested in Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
For the president of the United States to (angrily and forcefully—if you saw his news conference) demand that Congress should pass his Detainee Treatment and Trials Bill at the threat of him shutting down the CIA terrorist intelligence programs is dictatorial, at best. President Bush asked Congress to pass this incredibly important piece of legislature in an infinitely small amount of time, and I’m supposed to feel secure that his motives aren’t political? He also held a closed meeting last weekend to update the bill without inviting any Democrats—including the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee himself, Senator Rockefeller!
Given this information, I was literally shocked to hear that earlier this morning Bush had the audacity to make the following political remark about the Democrats: "the party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run."
“The Party of Cut and Run?” Then what should we call his party—“the party of deceit, denial, and exclusivists?” I find it amazing that more Republicans are not outraged by the deceit, denial, and exclusivist actions of our current administration. I would have thought that by now most republicans would be sick of being lied to and would not want an imperialist republican as our leader. (If by calling Bush an ‘imperialist' anyone thinks that I am a ‘bleeding heart liberal’ or a ‘far left-winger’, you need only read the definition of the word above. You will see that he fits the bill.)
This bashing of the Democratic Party is unsubstantiated. President Bush and his administration got us into the War in Iraq not only preemptively, but also without immediate cause. He did not wait for Congress; he did not wait for the U.N. to finish their investigation into Iraq having WMD. Of course he didn’t! How could he when he KNEW that Iraq did not have nuclear weapons (read the book Blowing My Cover, by Lindsay Moran—one of the CIA officials sent to Iraq in 2003). To pull our Special Forces troops out of Afghanistan when Osama Bin Laden was-- by all estimations--cornered, so that our current administration could over-throw a country that they think the United States should control (in the name of creating democracy over there) is just outrageous! Iraq did NOT have weapons of mass destruction and our intelligence agencies found no ties to Al Qaeda. I am not saying that the War in Iraq should have been avoided (or could be avoided) forever; I do not pretend to be a politician or an Army general. However, I know in my heart that if President Bush’s true intentions for invading Iraq were to stop terrorism and to create a democratic society in Iraq, he would not have deceived the Congress and the American People. He would not have pulled our Special Forces out of Afghanistan without first finding Bin Laden. If you stay away from the ‘entertainment media’ (i.e. Fox News, MSNBC, etc.) and, instead, invest your time in scholarly articles like the “Misimpressions of Iraq”, by the University of Maryland, you will see just how many lies we are fed every day—not only by the president himself, but by the news media. I know that all politicians and presidents lie, and that it is sometimes for a good reason. Nevertheless, you would truly have to be ignorant to believe that our country does not feed us propaganda. Just look at the ‘fear’ inducing rhetoric President Bush has used his entire presidency; so often so, that people aren’t buying into it that much anymore. This might explain why he squirms around so much, anxiously bites his lower lip, and is so quick to anger in his most recent press conferences.
(Breathe in….Breathe out….Breathe in…Breathe out…. Ah, the political arena is such a great place to practice meditation, self-awareness, and calming breath techniques!)
Here’s a statement made by Bush after the Detainee Bill was signed by Congress yesterday: "As our troops risk their lives to fight terrorism, this bill will ensure they are prepared to defeat today's enemies and address tomorrow's threats."
I TOTALLY agree that our men and women in the troops should be supported 100 percent—and I DO support them. To be sure, when some of my friends went over to Iraq to serve this great country, I collected items and mailed them abroad, along with letters of love and encouragement. As illustrated in the above quote, President Bush has been lashing out against critics of the Iraq War; but how could there NOT be critics when no planning went into this war except for the initial takedown of the country. Our men and women—our friends and loved ones—were sent over to Iraq without the military providing them with sufficient armor for themselves or their vehicles! Most troops who wanted body armor to protect themselves from shrapnel from IEDs (improvised explosive devices) had to purchase it for themselves or have their families buy it on the private market and send it to them.
This is how America sends their troops off to war?
Speaking of war equipment, are you aware that Louisiana’s National Guard was almost fully depleted by the time Hurricane Katrina hit, and that almost all of their amphibious vehicles had been shipped over to Iraq for use by occupational forces? This is why the forces that were left in the state were unable to reach the many people who were stranded in the part of New Orleans where the water was more than nine feet deep. Look at this timeline of events and tell me if you think President Bush has the best interest of the people in the home front at heart:
HURRICANE KATRINA DATE OF EVENTS:
· Friday, August 25, 2005—Convinced by hurricane experts that New Orleans would face a direct hit by Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency
· August 27, 2005—Hurricane Katrina upgraded to a Category 3 storm. Blanco calls President Bush (vacationing at his ranch in West Texas) and asks him to declare a federal state of emergency in Louisiana. In her plea, she stated to the president “I have determined…that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments…”
· August 28, 2005—Hurricane Katrina upgraded to a Category 5 storm. Katrina made landfall and packed 160-mph winds.
· —New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin begins mandatory evacuation of the city.
· —Bush, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and FEMA Director Michael Brown were all “directly warned about the likelihood of a levee failure by that day" by Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center.
· --President Bush stays on vacation at his ranch in West Texas. He does not exercise his position as commander in chief and authorize deployment of the National Guard to the Gulf area. He does not help move along the red tape of the Homeland Security and FEMA.
· August 29, 2005—Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. By 8:00 A.M., Mayor Nagin reports that the levees are being breeched.
· President Bush attends a birthday party for Senator John McCain in Phoenix Arizona.
· Millions watch on TV as thousands of people are stuck in the Superdome—with no food, no water, no working toilets, and as people are stuck in their attics, standing on their roofs, and drowning.
· Gov. Blanco makes another plea to President Bush, stating—“Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you’ve got!” President Bush does not act on her request.
· August 30, 2006 President Bush attends a California fund-raiser, and later plays guitar for a photo-op with country singer, Mark Willis.
· August 31, 2006—FOUR DAYS AFTER RECEIVING WARNINGS FROM THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, AND 48 HOURS AFTER THE STORM HITS NEW ORLEANS, PRESIDENT BUSH FLIES BACK TO WASHINGTON, STATING THAT HE IS GOING TO PUT TOGETHER A TASK FORCE TO DEAL WITH NEW ORLEANS.
· President Bush’s staff has to compile a CD of news footage for the president since he did not bother to watch any news about the hurricane in general or New Orleans in particular.
· September 1, 2005—Homeland Security Regional Director Terry Ebert declared the federal response to the crisis ‘a disaster’.
· September 2, 2005—President Bush travels to Alabama and praises FEMA director Michael Brown, stating—“Brownie, you’ve done a heck of a job."
· February 28, 2006—The Associated Press acquires a video recording it obtains through a Freedom of Information Act request. The video made August 28—two days before the storm—showed Bush and Chertoff being repeatedly warned by FEMA officials and hurricane watchers that the levees in New Orleans could be breeched, and that the Superdome was not equipped to handle a Category 5 storm. *
Need I say more? So many sources of accurate information outline President Bush’s negligence as Commander in Chief and his blatant disregard for the Constitution of the United States of America. By accurate information, I mean actual transcripts; news conferences given by Bush; as well as no-bid contracting allotted to political cronies with regard to the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina: not to mention the indictment of Scooter Libby and Jack Abramanoff, etc. I don't have enough time to delve too deeply into Vice President Dick Cheney's transgressions (did you know he still receives a $170,000 annual "deferred compensation" income from Halliburton--the same company that has made over 11 billion dollars in the clean up of Iraq? He also lobbied Congress against a measure introduced by Senator John McCain that would outlaw torture. Torture is not only an International crime, it is also a Federal crime.).
With the leakage of the NIE, it is no longer ‘secret’ that President Bush’s actions are creating a hotbed for terrorist recruiting. The Taliban has regrouped in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda has set up shop in Iraq. It doesn’t take much logic to figure out why Iran wants WMD—not that I think they should have them! I don’t. I’m saying that it doesn’t take much logic to figure out that if the President of the United States declares that he will strike-- not only those countries who threaten us, but who we suspect MAY someday pose a threat to us, of course smaller countries are going to create Weapons of Mass Destruction. Cause and effect; it is as simple as that. To read a statement by Senator Rockefeller regarding the leaked NIE material, click here.
The other day, I witnessed a great tragedy while flipping through the channels on my TV set. I turned on MSNBC (and I do not—as a rule—watch or listen to any talking head political shows). There was a man screaming his head off—the veins in his neck popping out—about how college students who protest the War in Iraq are ‘anti-American’ and should go live somewhere else if they don’t like it here. Why is it that whenever someone (or in Bush’s case, a whole lot of people) express their views of discontent with the government, it is somehow based in ‘anti-Americanism’? Here is what I have to say to anyone who reads this who might think that I am somehow anti-American: Do you think I would take an entire day out of my life to write this, knowing that sitting at the computer for this long causes excruciating pain in my neck and left arm, if I DID NOT love America? America IS a great country and I thank God that I live here. However, I have wanted to write an essay about my disgust at the current administrations’ disregard for the Constitution—and the democratic processes that we have followed for the past two hundred plus years—for a couple of weeks now. With yesterday’s Congressional events turning out the way they did, coupled with President Bush’s scathing remarks about Democrats today, I knew the time was right.
It is time that America came together as a whole. There has to be a way that the two parties can work together. President Bush stated that the Democrats made it difficult to get the work done (with regard to the Detainee Bill). Perhaps if he gave the Democrats some input into the bill, rather than excluding them in the first place, they wouldn’t have had to introduce so many amendments in the first place. It is just too convenient that Bush rushed this bill through congress days before campaigning begins. How much faith are we supposed to put in a president who places such an important bill before the Congress just to get a leg up politically?
We can—and must!--fight the war on terror without making America look like a moral-less empire. Otherwise, we are left with the Bush-factor: more terrorists, more violence, no justice. We MUST stand by our Constitution—and force our president and his administration to do the same. America stands for democracy. What’s the point of a democracy if the president (and his staff) repeatedly deceit us and go above the law. I understand that the terrorist threat on our own soil is new (I lived in NYC and was teaching in Harlem when the towers fell), and these men and women need to be dealt with in a way that will send a message to other terrorists. I’m not insinuating that we’re being too harsh on the terrorists. What I AM questioning is the way our current administration conducts their business. A little less imperialism, and little more democracy, please.
About two weeks ago, the thought entered my mind that I HAVE to write about my disgust with the current administration before I have my next spinal surgery (see last post for details). I used to shy away from discussing—let alone writing—about politics at all costs. Politics is NOT going to be a new trend on this blog. However, as an American, I felt it was time that my voice was heard. It is also very interesting to see if, as a friend of mine says, I can “work with the issue of how to be spiritual and an activist without making (myself) crazy.” So far, so good! God bless our current administration; may they have the country’s best interest at heart.
*Historical facts culled from within the pages of The Case For Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office, by Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky. © 2006, Thomas Dunne Books
tags: Jaibhakti,President Bush, Iraq War, democracy, United States of America, NIE, Senator Rockefeller,