Saturday, January 22, 2005

Bush inaugural made me sick!

Bush inaugural made me sick!

Fittingly, I was puking Thursday and therefore unable to enjoy the coronation live, as it happened. I had a horrible migraine and while I was able to stave off a trip to the ER, I did have to see my GP and pain specialist. Funny thing, at both offices it was remarked to me that they were having an "epidemic" of migraines among patients and office workers. They said it was the weather, but I think it's just as likely we had a mass reaction to the political climate. Speaking for myself, I can say for certain that on *good* days, the Chimpster makes me ill. It doesn't seem too much of a stretch, that on his day of declaring himself world savior, vast populations of the world would wake vomiting and feeling as if a straight razor were embedded in their forehead.

So, I've been catching up on the inaugural events, reading B's speech -- checking the news, and I'm struck by a couple of things:

First, the over-the-top spending binge Bush went on for his party is obnoxious. We are at war. We have kids over in Iraq fighting and dying a losing battle without adequate armor. There is no sign of peace. There is basically "NO EXPECTATION for elections, as the Iraqi "voters" don't even know who their candidates are yet. I guess it's classified like the number of American soldiers injured in battle.

Perhaps the most aggregious affront to decency, is the fact that Bush refused to pick up the bill for security during his party, saddling the District of Columbia with the 11.9 million dollar costs that they are going to have to swipe from other homeland security project. For the record, DC has no meaningful representation in Congress, and voted 90 percent for Kerry in the so-called election. Also for the record, this is the FIRST TIME a president has refused to reimburse the District for inaugural expenses.

The next most eye-popping tidbit of the day was Chimpy's speech itself. Is he not first president to use an inaugural address to threaten the rest of the world with "ending tyranny?" Who does he think he is -- ending tyranny in the world? Can't you just imagine how this must sound to Sudan?

The speech was bizarre by any standard, but the disorienting mix of folksy clich├ęs with overwrought attempts at historical-sounding language made it sound like Napoleon as read by Maurice Sendak. My favorite example of this is about a third of the way into the speech he proclaims: "Liberty will come to those who love it." What about the people of Darfur? They must be freedom-haters.

In his attempt to sound solemn and dignified, he came off like he was reading My Pet Goat to a really, really big class of second-graders. Using "The Day Of Fire" as a reference to nine-fucking-eleven has such a transparent biblical tone to it that we are left to wonder if his personality isn't further splintering from the goof-ball frat guy, to born-again alkie, to now a psycho Captain Amerikkka. "After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical -- and then there came a day of fire." Eyes widen. Children cry. I picture him waving his arms on the Day of Fire line -- like "and then there was a BIG BEAR!"

In the bit about years of quiet/repose/sabbatical, Bush refers to the years of peace and prosperity of the Clinton administration. I don't recommend literary deconstruction of this -- you'll just bump your head, it's not deep enough for analysis. He probably just liked the way the word 'sabbatical' is vaguely Islamic. We are supposed to nod in agreement that had we been on "sabbatical" during Clinton's years of peace and prosperity, and somehow thank Bush for his attention to tyranny while he "clears brush" down in Crawford, ignoring the PDB that said Bin Laden Determined To Strike Within U.S. I find this choice of words curious for someone who has spent NEARLY A THIRD (27 percent) of their presidency on vacation. At only three years in office -- presiding over the largest act of terrorism in history, and engaged in TWO wars, George had already taken as many "personal days" as Clinton did in his entire tenure over eight years of quiet, repose and sabbatical.

You have to admit that he got the WORDS right in his speech -- now is indeed the time to face down tyranny -- but it's Bush's tyranny the world is worried about.

Last I checked this was a deeply divided nation in terms of belief. Yet, Bush declares: "America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth."

We disagree on abortion; on the war; hell -- we even bitterly disagree on whether Bush was elected fairly the first or second time. Gingerly, Bush leaps from the proclamation of a fake shared belief, to stating that now this is our MISSION in the world (more religious language); to bring American-style democracy to Fallujas-in-waiting across the globe. It should be no surprise his message was received with suspicion everywhere in the world except for the United States. Ironically enough, Americans were being pepper-sprayed and arrested while Bush was heard to say: "...rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by FREE DISSENT and the participation of the governed."

Now for the crux: "In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character -- on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self." In addition to being a shameless tautology, this statement is patently anti-American. Bush has drawn a circle around private character as being in the public interest. He is claiming providence over our private character and our conscience as fundamental to; imperative for; indispensable to; compelling -- our PUBLIC INTEREST. Where is this in the Constitution? This sounds much more like communism than democracy -- that each individual must be highly governed in support of the government. I'm glad he said it, though -- in the same way that when I ever broke up with somebody and I said that ONE THING that cuts to the bone (it's the sex; it's your mommy-issues, I don't like fishing THAT much).

What is he setting us up for? Are we soon going to have to pass morality tests in order to retain citizenship?

Oh, that brings me to me last point.

After making his big noise about rights and freedom, Bush asserts: "We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people." What is he's talking about? Abu Ghraib? Gitmo?

Bush has invented a new class of people. There used to be "Criminals" and "Prisoners Of War." Both groups have RIGHTS either granted by the United States Constitution or the Geneva Convention. The people incarcerated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitmo (and Lord knows where else) have been declared a THIRD kind of individual. Criminals have the right to face their accuser; the right to produce evidence in their defense; and have the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. Prisoners of War have even more rights, and for good reason. The Geneva Convention spells out how POW's are to be treated and UP UNTIL BUSH it was taken to heart because we don't want OUR SOLDIERS mistreated when they are taken prisoner.

Bush and our soon-to-be new attorney general Alberto "Gonzo" Gonzalez have created a THIRD category of individual -- the Enemy Combatant. Enemy Combatants have NO rights. They can be held FOR LIFE without facing an accuser or having evidence presented against them. Every time you see an American contractor beheaded on CNN you have Bush to thank. Until "enemy combatants" are treated like the POWs that they are, we are put men and women serving in Iraq targets for public beheading in response to our treatment of our prisoners. Think about that the next time you cut through the VA.

The hypocrisy in Bush's speech is numbing, but we have to confront it head on. We have to take notice and bear witness to his crimes against those who can't speak for themselves whether they are enemy combatants, blue states or simply non-capitalist interests. I think we all know what his game is. The time for self-satisfied cynicism is "way done past."

This is what I want you to do. If you are at all sickened by the shit you see going on in this administration you need to pick a battle. Any battle. Reproductive rights, the war, veterans support, education -- it doesn't matter. Pick something that is up your alley and write emails to your senators and representatives. Talk amongst yourselves. Make some noise. But don't let this moment pass.

Dangerous times call for extra effort. We could afford to sit back and enjoy our "quiet, repose and sabbatical" during the Clinton years. Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their party.


Blogger bill said...

The thing that bugs me the most about Gonzales is his work history. His job record reads that first he was Enron's legal counsel during the time it was cooking it's books, then on the Texas Supreme Court,

This guy has apparently never prosecuted a crimnal case, yet he stands to be America's chief law enforcement officer.

At least Barney Fife has arrested somebody....

Saturday, January 22, 2005 10:31:00 PM  

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