Less Than Six Months To Go…

According to the clock ticking down over at Evolutionary Middleman, it’s actually 152 days as I write this. One of my favorite sig lines, and bumper stickers, is “1-20-09 – the End of an Error“. Of course, by now you all realize what I’m talking about – the final days of the Bush Ascendancy.  My, how time flies when you’re having…what? Certainly not fun. It seems like only yesterday that I was watching the returns of the 2000 election on NBC, and jumped up and cheered when Tom Brokaw called Florida for Gore, only to have my excitement and giddiness hopelessly dashed on the rocks of Politics-as-Usual by the subsequent turn of events. I think that’s when I started drinking in earnest.

I was reminded of this by a story in the local paper.  It seems that a man, a Gulf War veteran by the name of Erich Scherfen, has found that he and his wife are on a terrorist watch list. It may be because he is a converted Muslim (with a Pennsylvania Dutch name, no less) who is married (which goes far in explaining his conversion) to a Pakistani woman who emigrated to the US in 1974. But he doesn’t know, because the government won’t talk about it. All he knows is that when he travels through airports, he and his wife are detained, sometimes for hours, and that the detainors tell him he’s on some list.

This would be a major inconvenience all by itself, however, to add insult to injury, Erich is a commercial pilot, contracted to fly for an operation called Colgan Air, who will not allow him in a cockpit until he’s removed from the list, and oh, by the way, get that done by September 1 or you’re fired. Neither Erich nor his wife, Rubina, have any criminal record, and they seem dumbfounded by the result of their government’s overzealous attribution to them of terrorist links. So, they have enlisted the services of the attorneys at the local ACLU (an organization normally vilified as anti-religious) to assist Erich in getting his name off of whatever list he’s on that prevents him from earning a living. They have filed suit in Federal Court for the Middle District of PA to get the government’s attention. Since litigation most likely will not be completed by September 1, I expect that a part of their strategy is to simply shame the government into taking him off the list, by using the attendant publicity associated with the lawsuit. The Press conference was my first clue. Since the attorney from the ACLU that represents them was also one of the attorneys in the successful Dover trial, Witold Walczak, I have high hopes for a quick and successful outcome.

Panning out to look at the bigger picture, this seems like business as usual in BushAmerica. In a system of government supposedly run by the people, for the people, it seems that the government is being run only for Republican fat cat politicos and their progeny. The rest of us seem to be here only for our consumer and tax paying qualities. While terrorism is a valid threat to its intended victims, as random and loose knit as they tend to be, it really isn’t a good reason to justify the wholesale repudiation of the individual freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, especially those of the First Amendment.

It wasn’t that long ago that I felt good about being an American, not embarrassed. I felt that other countries justifiably looked up to the oldest and most successful democracy in the world, despite our many faults, which to my thinking were outweighed by the ideals our Constitution put forth as an example to the rest of the world. Even with all our warts, we were still worth emulating.

But when your government can arbitrarily stick your name on a list, which in turn prevents you from working in your chosen profession, forcing you to hire a lawyer to enforce the basics rights guaranteed by the Constitution, without any explanation or reasonable justification for doing so, I begin to wonder about the country I live in.  When the apparent reason your name is on the list is because of your choice of wife and religion, I stop wondering and start to worry. And when the majority of Americans seem to agree with what the country is doing, or by their silence acquiesce, then Canada starts looking better and better.

We have so many things to <sarcasm>thank</sarcasm> Bush for. Like the No Child Left Behind Act, Guantanamo Prison Camp, The Iraq War and all those WMD’s he found, the outing of Valerie Plame (see, he really doesn’t care about keeping people employed in their chosen professions), Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. He’s done nothing to preserve Social Security which is still expecting problems when we boomers come of age. He’s frittered away the  budget surplus he inherited from his predecessor. He has handed over our privacy to the telephone companies and the spy agencies. He has increased the role of religion in public life, despite the First Amendment’s now fractured wall of separation between Church and State. He has destroyed the good will and empathy of the world that naturally was directed our way after 9/11, and Osama bin Laden is still living wherever he damn well pleases. He has done everything to increase the gap between the poorest and wealthiest in this country. He has attempted to destroy the credibility of science and scientists, by discouraging policies aimed at thwarting global warming, by supporting the teaching of Intelligent Design, and by generally failing to heed the advice of his own science advisers,  allowing science to become politicized instead. He has used fear, bigotry and xenophobia to pit American against American, further polarizing a country inhabited by people already naturally polarized by their diversity, for the sole purpose of maintaining political hegemony for his party. He has rewarded incompetency, while ignoring excellence.  He has elevated to a political art the act of lying to the public. He just may have theocratized the Supreme Court. In short, he has, by all reasonable standards and all objective criteria, been the worst President this country has ever seen. He makes Nixon look like Lincoln, in comparison.

So it’s with a wistful eye that I look to November, hoping against hope that Bush is a mere aberration, a mistake, an error, one we can cancel with a simple election.

I’ll drink to that! I just hope we don’t go from BushAmerica, to McSameAmerica.

[UPDATE: An Appellate Court out of the 9th Circuit has ruled, coincidentally on the same day, that people on these watch lists can sue to have their name removed.

Airline passengers on the government’s no-fly list can sue the government to get their names removed, according to a federal appeals court ruling Monday that swept aside complicated judicial rules that insulated the government from lawsuits over the sprawling list of suspected terrorists.]

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14 thoughts on “Less Than Six Months To Go…

  1. I’m also looking forward to the end of Bush’s Reign of Error. I truly hope we don’t get McSame, but I’m not sure the Democrats are capable of winning any election that includes an opponent to their candidate. Obama should be able to run away with this thing, but I’m not counting on that at all. Maybe I’ll feel better about his prospects after the Democratic convention is over. Then again, maybe not.

  2. Chappy:
    Has Obama vowed to get rid of the Watch Lists if he’s elected? Gee, I don’t remember that. Last I heard about his actions against government intrusion was when he voted YES for the new improved FISA, including its telecom immunity provisions.

  3. The scary thing about you list of things to THANK Bush for, is that I counted at least 3 or 4 major ones you missed;

    abducting citizens and foreigners in the middle of the night, spiriting them off to dungeons in 3rd party countries, holding them without chance to notify family, preventing them from seeing a judge and being charged or presenting evidence that the government is wrong, torturing many, killing some, treating the “justice” department as a right-wing political organization by firing U.S. Attorney’s who have not acted on the administrations political requests and by fabricating charges against a U.S. Governor and sending him to prison for the crime of being a liberal, and allowing subordinates to refuse to testify when called before Congress, (huff, huff, huff… out of breath).

    If I ever appear on Bush’s “watch list”, all I have to say to our government is “watch THIS, motherfuckers”. (you are left to your imaginations what I’m flashing at my computer screen). Anyone who is NOT a bit embarrassed to be an American at this point in our history, isn’t a true American and doesn’t understand what this country was founded to be.

  4. Yeah! What he said!

    Actually, I was huffing and puffing and I kept thinking of things to add to that paragraph. I stopped simply because it looked like overkill. I made my point.

  5. You made your point. But, in all fairness, when you bring up the travesty known as the Bush Presidency, you need to include all of the things on both of our lists (and we still left out a few that should be included) because it sounds like partisan politics when we proclaim “this is the worst president ever”. It sounds that way until you itemize what he has done to America. Then it sounds like you are under-selling your point!

  6. Ex: I agree that Obama is looking like McSame’s gangly brother lately, which may explain why he’s sinking in the polls.

  7. Here’s Ex’s mistake – he looks at someone who sucks, and makes an equivalency argument between that person and another who presents an even greater problem. No matter what – McCain will not be less odious than Obama. Will Obama be AS BAD? I suppose that’s possible, but let’s look at it like this – has there ever been Democratic President who was anywhere close to as bad as “W”? Frankly, I don’t honestly believe that McCain will even be that bad. But I do know that McCain PROMISES us that he will continue along the same path while Obama at least moderates his talk. I’m no fan a “lesser of evils” but sometimes you are locked in a position of either that, or opt out. This is a tough call for me. I’m tempted to choose “opt out”. But I have a feeling I’ll second guess myself in a year or two.

  8. Speaking of justice, Mukasey. Rule of Law? It’s now a distant fart in the wind of nascent fascism.

    As for Canada, Finland’s a better deal. But if McCain’s elected, forget it. There’s no place dark enough or deep enough to protect you from that sleazy little Alzheimerite. He’ll make Bush look like a progressive.

  9. In 1973 (damn! do I wish I’d paid more attention!) I was made acquainted with an article in a magazine that dealt with economic matters. I can’t remember the name of the article, but the subtitle was, “It’s time to cook the goos that laid the golden egg”.

    This article posited that the middle and working classes were an impediment and drag on society and must, if America was to be great again, be removed from the picture. Then wealth and power would be worthwhile, and they could “make America great again”.

    There was a lot that I read that I’ve seen come to pass, including the economic and cultural brutalization of the populace, and the fact that actual citizenship with its rights and benefits is held at the convenience, pleasure, and whim of “The State”.

    I play at dinners and other gatherings, and strange to say, I see a lot of the same faces at a lot of them, “conservative” or “liberal”.
    This is at “grassroots” level, and if even here the people involved are statists, give capital precedence over people, and (quelle surprise? are just the biggest me-firsters and grabbers.

    I don’t think that people on my street will see any difference, nor will the “direction” the country is taking change by so much as a degree or even a mil. I have an old friend (he is both a friend of long duration and elderly) and he told me twenty years ago that it was all the country could do to keep from raising their right hand and yelling “Sieg heil”. I think he’s right.

    We have a choice between “sharp shins or hard knocks” as they used to say where I passed a good bit of my youth.

    Yet we vote. “Everybody knows the dice are loaded…but they roll them just the same”.

  10. Sarge said: Yet we vote. “Everybody knows the dice are loaded…but they roll them just the same”.

    Me: Damn, I could use $100 right about now. I’d even be willing to take a chance to win it.

    Neighbor: We have a floating crap game going on in the neighborhood. I’ve never seen you there.

    Me: Well, shit, Dick is running that game and the dice are loaded! I’m not playing.

    Neighbor: All I can tell you is, if you don’t come and roll the dice, I don’t want to hear you complain later that you need $100. At least the guys who’ve lost money to Dick in the game have earned the right to bitch.

    Me: (sigh…)

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