Friday, May 16, 2008

Ruminations on 2001 and Beyond

On September 11th of 2001, all Americans were turned upside down and inside out. We grieved, feared, raged, hunkered-down and resolved. Little did the terrorists know that they were, in such a horribly twisted way, doing us a favor. The dreadful losses of life and property brought us all closer together as one people, determined to defeat those who would destroy us. Those terrorists read Americans wrong in a huge way! Unlike some cultures, Americans act rather than fold-up when tragedy strikes. Of course, there was grieving, but this reaction soon turned to action as the Pentagon was rebuilt, remains were respectfully extricated from the ruins and buried with dignity. We learned to embrace a "new normal". I disagreed with the president's move to shutdown every airport in the U.S. for such a long time. We are still reeling from that. Our airline industry and all the other industries that support it were irreparably damaged. Even big companies could not weather the standstill and the effects have been worldwide. Millions of people were harmed by this one decision. Really poor judgement seems to be rampant in our current administration. Thinking that American troops could free Iraq from its tyrannical leader and step back to watch a new democracy bloom was foolhardy, dare I say STUPID. People who have been subjugated for generations and lack knowledge of the rest of the world, much less anything other than dictatorial leadership, are not prepared to lead themselves. These underprivileged Iraqis may have felt like they were lost at sea when their leadership was removed. And now they are occupied by foreigners. Rule of law makes our system work. This is a foreign concept to people who have lived under oppression. How can they now believe that corrupt leadership will be held accountable and that they, the people, will guide their own future? It must be frightening when one has no example to follow. Tragically, America is no longer a shining example of the rule of law. There is the matter of the U.S. deliberately excusing itself from adherence to the Geneva Conventions. Abu Ghraib, Gauntanamo, and numerous other, secret facilities are shameful reminders of this. And now harrowing stories are being told about how immigration detainees are being abused. As long as there are good minds willing to validate these actions, we are no longer the good guys. America used to represent fairness, opportunity and compassion for fellow humans. Our children still receive a free education, a rare opportunity elsewhere. Charitable organizations struggle to care for those who need help and the wealthy keep getting wealthier. The middle class is the heart of our culture and their generosity and means are being stretched way too thin because of our government's lack of compassion and intelligence. If compassion doesn't sway thinking, then intelligence should. It is not intelligent to allow the wealthy to keep more and more of their money at the expense of basic human services, such as health care, housing and education. It is not intelligent to allow corruption to flourish. Government regulation is an unfortunate necessity to curb corruption. What message do we send when failed business leaders receive huge severance packages after accepting absurdly high compensation? It is not intelligent for the so-called leader of the western world to hand-off responsibility for bad decisions to those around him. Truman knew -- "the buck stops here." It was not intelligent to select members of the administration who never seem able to say "no" to the president. I want to believe that the president is basically a decent man, but he is too easily manipulated by those who are not. It is not intelligent to attempt to cover White House tracks in hopes of denying wrong-doing or mistakes. The Freedom Of Information act will eventually reveal the truth. Please -- someone tell me we will recover from this!

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