BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
December 2, 2002
BUZZFLASH READER COMMENTARY
An open letter to the Honorable Senator James Jeffords:
A voice of reason in the wilderness is always a welcome relief to the lost and weary traveler. I am not lost, but many are. Your Op-Ed in the NY Times on 11/30/02 provides a road map to the real issues of Homeland Security.
In 1970 I became separated from my unit in Cambodia. For a moment a vision of prison camps flashed by. I had a compass, so I knew I could find the way to the "safety" of Vietnam. But I was the leader and could not leave my platoon behind, nor was it likely that I could easily find it on my own. I decided to maintain my position in silence.
After a time, I looked up from my map and saw a welcome site. As a unit, they swept back in the direction from which they had come. I was soon surrounded. Just another day in the bush for the military.
We will not look back at the history we are making today as just another day in the bush. We are about to be trampled by a stampede back to our "middle ages". Too many people are silently waiting in fear for Big Brother or the "stern father" to guide them to safety at any price. This administration feeds on fear with the complicit corporate media providng the required endless repetition of administration talking points. Congress is becoming "irrelevant" along with the UN, NATO and international law in general.
Proclaiming irrelevance is the kiss of death by the far right. Polls are conducted to determine if the citizens want war now, or later. Patriotism is demonstrated by flying a flag on the SUV. Legitimate questions about foreign or domestic policy are defined as "attacks" by people who hate America. One can choose to let the forests burn or to plead for unregulated logging. Another choice is defined to be dirty air and greedy lawyers or the Clear Skies initiative. The New Deal is no longer relevant, it is claimed.
The Homeland Security Act, as passed, is the largest fraud ever perpetrated upon the citizens of this country. 100 Senators know this but only 8 Senators had the courage to vote no along with you. The special interest provisions slipped in demonstrated a level of disdain for the democratic process and open government that defies description. The secrecy provisions insure that legislators and citizens will be encouraged to continue to mind their own business. Reagan said, trust but verify. This President says, trust or else.
The Democratic Party is about to become irrelevant. The other party has already begun to dance on the grave of the donkey. As the details of the Thanksgiving "package" come to the front pages, one can hardly wait for the Sunday talk shows to find out how rapidly the water is really rising. Pay cuts for federal employees, $14 billion to Israel. For good measure, cut the emergency funding for heat for the elderly. The President, in his radio address, suggests we all visit a soup kitchen to salve our collective conscience.
Several weeks ago the Washington Journal (C-Span) featured a segment on the Great Depression. A string of several callers recounted their personal experiences during those difficult times. A self-avowed right winger called to "break up the commie, hippy lovefest". He proclaimed that he became a taxpayer in 1946 and "I got the bill for all that New Deal crap".
The history professor who was the invited guest, announced that the federal budget was $2 billion in 1941 when all the significant programs were in place. At the end of the war the federal budget was $100 billion.
Truman, soon after, embarked upon an effort to create the DOD, motivated in part to make the military more efficient and flexible. To quote Senator Byrd: "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my bureaucracy". At least it took two years.
I regret that there are not more Senators like Senator Jeffords, who supported Senator Byrd with an impassioned plea questioning the wisdom of the mad rush to pass a badly flawed bill created in a matter of months.
Perhaps Senators Snowe, Specter and Chafee will officially become Independent and join you as gatekeepers and watchdogs.The deaths of Mel Carnahan and Paul Wellstone are the tragic events that led to this imaginary new mandate. The "talking heads" deliriously cluck about their smashing defeat of bolshevism, while elevating Rush Limbaugh to the level of a serious mainstream political commentator.
Nelson Rockefeller was elected governor in the "democratic" state of New York in 1958. He served four terms. I voted for him. The late Vice President would have no place in modern politics. The voters of Louisiana have the choice of voting for someone who backed the President 74% of the time, or electing someone who vows to make that standard 100%. Senator McConnell vows it will be "war". The line between foreign and domestic policy has become blurred. Both need some serious oversight. Who has the courage to provide it? Both parties are madly scrambling to gut campaign finance reform in a disgusting display of bipartisan loyalty to money.
My current home in Georgia now elects governors on a pledge to bring back the Confederate flag. Karl Rove and Ralph Reed waged the most vicious and vile political campaign against Max Cleland I have ever witnessed. The President visited the state 6 times to drive home the importance of electing a man with a "bad knee" to help him pass his Homeland Security bill. Chambliss vowed to back the President 100%. One is either with the President 100% or against him. This view supports the notion that the democratic process is most effective when reduced to a mindless ritual of affirmation. That is the prime rule of governance in the military. It is unsuitable when applied to civilian governance.
The Homeland Security issue has been narrowly framed as a choice between personal safety and the need for food and shelter. Polls ask, what is most important to you? If one has adequate food, clothing and shelter, it is assumed one has a job with a fair wage. The need to feel safer then becomes an attractive option. One poll suggests that a significant number of people mysteriously feel safer merely because the Homeland Security bill has been passed into law.
Pundits justify the elimination of unemployment compensation because it removes the motivation "to not find a job". Some insist that extension of benefits precludes solving the real problem of creating jobs. They decide that what people want are jobs, not handouts.
My only fear stems from what my government has become today. It is much like being in Cambodia when one is not supposed to be there. Even worse, the path to safety may require revisiting Vietnam in some way. Perhaps we have already brought the "quagmire" to our own streets.
Bob Gaiek, Atlanta
A BUZZFLASH READER COMMENTARY
* * *
|DAILY BUZZ||FIFTH COLUMNIST||CARTOONS||SOUTHERN STYLE|
|MEDIA LINKS||LINK ARCHIVES||SEND NEWSFLASH||ABOUT|
otherwise noted, all original