Our Nation at the Crossroads of History
Which way will we go? I'm not placing any bets yet. There are good signs and bad signs all over the news today.
I was so moved when I read this letter over at Truthout, from a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the Navy. The officer sent his wings and bars back in protest over Bush's policies:
Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to "disappear" them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a US Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a "signing statement" that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.
As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition. But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists' largess. Protests are limited to your "free speech zones", out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question.
Nevertheless, to remain silent is to let you think I approve or support your actions. I do not. So, I am saddened to give up my wings and bars. They were hard won and my parents and wife were as proud as I was when I earned them over forty years ago. But I hate the torture and death you have caused more than I value their symbolism. Giving them up makes me cry for my beloved country.
- The fissure between the President and the GOP is widening.
- One of Bush's top domestic policy advisors resigned when his criminal shoplifting habit was revealed.
- Doctors around the world are protesting the force-feeding of prisoners conducting a hunger strike at the American prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Dubai will not be controlling our ports.
- The port contracts may go to Halliburton.
- The new spin on the Valerie Plame outing: CIA people can be identified through Internet searches (of paid services), the Chicago Tribune found. According to Crewdson's article, Valerie Plame's status as a CIA operative could easily have been inferred, to those who knew where to look.
Ether Zone notes that "the Patrick Fitzgerald grand jury has been meeting every Wednesday and Friday mornings at 9:30 AM - ostensibly to do "read-ins" of prior grand jury testimony. The target? Karl Rove - for lying and perjury. Rove knows this and must be worried sick over it." Meanwhile, Cheney's office turned over 250 pages of emails from the VP's office, emails that had not been turned over the first time they were requested. But will anyone be held accountable?
As Ether Zone notes, if the Democrats regain control of the House or the Senate in 2006, the game changes dramatically and impeachment proceedings are sure to begin.
Let's go there for a second. Let's imagine, and frankly, this is no stretch, that the President's dismal 37% approval rating reflects the will of the voters. Will that be enough to change the scene? Not if Diebold, Hart Intercivic, Sequoia and ES&S are counting our votes:
- Diebold machines are easily hacked.
- Hart Intercivic machines just counted some votes as many as six times each.
- Votes cast on Sequoia machines were filmed going to the unchosen candidate.
- ES&S systems had a 30% failure rate in recent Ohio tests.
Americans aren't the only ones concerned about our vote. In my document "America's Vote at Risk," which I prepared well in advance of the 2004 election after a distressing conversation with a dramatically underinformed individual working for the Elections Assistance Commission, I quoted The Independent in the UK from October 14, 2003:
"A quiet revolution is taking place in US politics. By the time it's over, the integrity of elections will be in the unchallenged, unscrutinised control of a few large -- and pro-Republican -- corporations. [We wonder] if democracy in America can survive."The 2006 elections are more important than the 2008 presidential election, because whoever controls Congress has more power than the President. The fate of America and the near-term future of the world lies in the hands not of the voters, but of the voting machine manufacturers. But that's not the end of the potential story. Activists in counties all over America are working to educate their County Registrars and their Secretaries of State to the dangers of these various systems.
Will it be enough? Or will the takeover of America by right-wing forces, begun, I believe, on November 22, 1963, the day of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, be complete?
While I'm doubtful about the near-term future of our country, something fascinating is happening in Latin America, something which the global corporate oligarchy is already moving to oppose. Leftist leaders are being elected all over South America:
- Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist, was just elected the first woman president of Chile.
- Evo Morales, was elected president of Bolivia after helping his countrymen defeat a nefarious scheme to privatize the most basic substance on the planet: water. (Btw - check out this scary piece re water being the 21st century's oil.)
- President Nestor Kirchner of Argentina has led his country from debt to an economic boom by staring down the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- In Brazil, under leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, seven out of every ten new cars is powered by ethanol.
- In 2004, Uruguay elected its first leftist leader, a cancer specialist named Tabare Vasquez, who promised to help the poor and reestablish relations with Cuba.
- Hugo Chavez fought off a presumably-US-backed coup to remain in power in Venezuela long enough to offer discounted oil to the freezing denizens of Massachusetts.
What will the 22nd Century say about 21st Century America? Will we have succeeded in turning the Titanic around, or will we have sunk after striking an iceberg of our own making?
All our hands are on that pen, writing that story. Let's make it a good one.