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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Forever War

When can we expect the United States to be under less threat from terrorists or others? I mean honestly, sit down and think about that for a moment.

How can you even contemplate national safety, with so many freelancing independent actors out there, trying to get their hands on nuclear, chemical and biological materials...and so willing to use pretty much any method necessary to get attention.

It seems we are in a period where a strong Executive here in the United States has perfected the Orwellian overtones in his "we're bringing freedom to the rest of the world" swagger all the while thumbing his nose at the laws of this nation. But are we any safer -- truly? I would argue that we are not, based on the rising number of threats and attacks on American interests. When can we expect to be year? The year after? Five years from now? Ten?

In the meantime, Congress has abdicated its constitutional responsibility of oversight. The GOP leadership has been too drunk with power, and too busy feeding at the money trough, to actually do their jobs. Which left a huge power vacuum that Karl Rove was only too happy to step in and have the President fill, using the powerful emotions of fear and anger to drive the political discourse.

But the problem with the President's seizure of all the reins of power in this country is that the nation's wagon wasn't designed to be driven by only one person. And we are careening toward the cliff, just like those old black and white cowboy cliffhangers, because we're off balance.

Anyone with a difference of opinion from this Administration has been painted as unpatriotic and soft on the defense of this nation ever since 9/11. Well, I'm calling bullshit on that meme right now. Here is why:

-- You do not defend this country well by making piss poor decisions, especially when you fail to plan adequately for military operations. This is evidenced by the mess we are still making in Iraq, and the growing resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. If the Republican Congress is not going to provide adequate oversight of this Administration's reckless and ill-conceived actions, then it is high time the Democrats were voted into power in the Congress to provide that balance.

The President and his merry band of incompetent bean counters and crony rewarders have endangered our troops and this nation's reputation with their piss-poor planning. And every citizen in this nation should be appalled and sickened by it. I've heard this from any number of readers and influential folks, including a growing number of former military and intelligence folks who are outright disgusted. If you haven't read James Fallows article in December's Atlantic Monthly, go find a copy and read it.

-- You do not defend this nation by pissing on its Constitution and its laws and its Congress because you find the paperwork tedious or because you think that legal restrictions are for the little people. This is a nation of laws. You are not the King. Get used to it.

If the Republican Congress will not provide adequate oversight of the Bush Administration's overreaching of the laws of this nation, then it is time for them to go. Let the government balance itself with the Democrats providing a check to Bush's power grab. But we do not serve this nation and its Founders by becoming the tyranny we say we are fighting.

-- You do not defend this nation by spying on its citizens and then lying to the face of every American and saying that you are not doing it. Again, if the Republican Congress is not going to provide adequate oversight, then the Democrats should be voted in to take care of providing a check and balance.

I could keep going on, but you get the picture.

We are in a protracted period, where the very liberty and democracy we have all held so dear in this nation are threatened. But not just from outside actors who threaten our safety. This threat comes from within our own borders -- our very complacency has allowed this power grab by the current Administration to fester and grow. The citizens of our great nation must demand better from our elected representatives. And that demand starts today. And it must continue into the elections in 2006.

If supporters of this Administration in Congress are going to abdicate their responsibilities as patriots and, instead, use their office to line their own pockets and those of their cronies, and rubber stamp whatever the Administration wants, whatever the cost to our liberty and our laws, then they must be voted out. Each and every one of them.

The 2006 elections ought to be a sea change for this nation. Let's all work to be certain that our elected representatives -- each and every single one of them -- know that we expect more. We expect better. We expect them to do their damn jobs. And if they won't, then we'll put someone in office that will.

This is a forever war, for the heart and soul of this nation - a philosophical war between patriots and power-hungry sycophants. There will always be forces who want to hijack the political arena for their own personal use. But it is our responsibility to stand up to this craven attempt at tyranny and call it for what it is. George Bush is a President, not a King -- and not a very good one at that.

(Apologies to the great Joe Haldeman for using his title for this post. If you haven't read Joe's book, The Forever War, you ought to do so. It is timeless science fiction at its best. Plus, Joe is one of the finest human beings you could ever hope to meet.)