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Are We Safe Yet?

I don’t know, I know I say I write poetry, but I know I graduated with a News/Editorial Journalism degree, so I’ve had this old newspaper article (from the Naples Daily News, actually) sitting on my desk for months, and the headline emblazoned across the top of the page says: “U.S. military hold AP photographer in Iraq 5 months without charges.” And I just had to throw away that old newspaper page and ask, are we safe yet?
After I don’t know how many months, years we have had the discussion over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (even after everyone has pretty much agreed that there weren’t weapons of mass destruction set up by Saddam Hussein for attacking us), to destroying the dictator Saddam Hussein when W’s father couldn’t do it (my husband keeps saying that the Iraq war in 1990-1992 was a U.N. led mission and we didn’t have the authority to get Saddam, even though every American wanted to get him), to declaring that our “war” efforts are to liberate a third world country (which really has something to do with the lives of U.S. citizens, what our military is supposed to exist for), I just keep thinking back to President Bush (you know, just for ease of writing I’m going to call him W from now on...) saying that we’re safer now that we’ve battled Iraq. A ton of other sources will say that our entering that country and staying there has created more people who hate us, and if you compare the number of deadly attacks (2 in Clinton’s reign of 8 years and 3 or 4 that I can count off the top of my head in W’s reign), we’ve had more terrorist attacks since 9/11 than before 9/11. And W keeps saying that we’re safer (after he stopped searching for Bin Laden and decided to go after Saddam Hussein, who had no direct ties to 9/11), and the only image that keeps popping in my head is an image of the Bush family driving along in their hummer (not like they’d use something fuel efficient), with Jenna and Laura continually asking over and over again (instead of ‘are we there yet?’) the question, “Are we safe yet?” And after they ask one too many times, President Bush (I mean “W”), their father, turns around and yells, “If you ask that one more time, I’ll turn this car right around.”
Anyway, that’s the image I get in my head. Maybe it’s fitting for the way our President looks at this conflict in Iraq, I don’t know, but it’s all I keep thinking. He does seem to have a bit of an “I don’t care” philosophy, coupled with his Texas macho-bully persona. You think I’m silly for saying he doesn’t care? When asked by reporters about W’s search for Bin Laden within a year of 9/11, W said something to the effect of ‘Bin Laden isn’t a concern for him to find’.
Ask any American (from a fear-mongering Republican to a Hacky Sack playing Democrat), at any time after 9/11, if Bin Laden was a priority to find, and I think you’d get a different reaction than the reaction of our President.
Want to hear some more collaborating evidence of W’s manners? Carol V. Hamilton noted in Being Nothing on ctheory.net that “according to The Perfect Wife, Gerhart’s biography of the First Lady, Bush was ‘snarly’ upon learning that his daughter Jenna would undergo an emergency appendectomy, ‘like he was pissed at her.’” I heard (from Progressive Talk radio 680 in Memphis, Air America) that when W’s daughter Jenna had the emergency appendectomy, W was going to Florida. When a reporter asked why he was leaving after his daughter just had surgery, W said something to the effect of, ‘I don’t care how she’s doing until she cleans her room.’
Now that’s a caring man. Macho all the way.

•••

Last year, President Bush stated: “Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.”
C Ra McGuirt (of Penny Dreadful Press) notes this: “This is what happens when people allow themselves to be terrorized. This is what happens when people become so preoccupied with “security” that they (ironically) give away their security for the illusion of security. This is what happens when the media becomes a flag waving patriot. This is what happens when people stop questioning authority.
Why is this a “gruesome truth”? Because most people want to see their country and their government as something noble, something to be admired regardless of it’s inherent nature. The truth is though-- our nation is a chaotic world of good and bad. It must be tended to. Like a gardener who tends to his garden with constant water, fertilizer, and attention, we must tend to our nation with constant inquisition, analysis, attention, and action. When it comes to the gruesome truth, like the gardener, we must get our hands dirty from time to time.”
Interesting point, C Ra. You giving away security statement remind me of the Benjamin Franklin quote: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

•••

My husband read to me a chapter of a book by Barbara W. Tuchman, and I’d like to quote it here before I tell you the name of the book. See how fitting it is to our current situation.

“America intervention was not a progress stucked step into an unsuspected quagmire. At no time were policy-makers unaware of the hazards, obstacles and negative developments. American intelligence was adequate, informed information flowed steadily from the field to the capital, special investigative missions were repeatedly sent out, independent reportage to balance professional optimism — was never lacking. The folly consisted not in pursuit of a goal in ignorance of the obstacles but in persistence in the pursuit of despite accumulating evidence that the goal was unattainable, and the effect disproportionate to the American interest and eventually demagig to American society, reputation and disposable power to the world.”

Okay, the book was The March of Folly From Troy To Viet Nam, and this was the beginning of the chapter talking about Viet Nam. Does it sound at all like what we’re going through today? And do we ever learn from our mistakes?<>

•••

Well, I can’t answer that ‘learning from our mistakes’ question whe I see the decisions W makes when it come to the war (you know, I hate calling it a war, only congress can declare war and we haven’t had a war sine World War II, forget Korea, forget Nam, forget Iraq...), and I really don’t know what the end goal of my editorial should really be. I’ve been thinking about writing something about the inadequacies of W’s reign of terror, so to speak, but I don’t know where to start. I hear about Jim Webb, a new Democrat Senator for Virginia and the deciding vote for Senate to change for the Democrats... Now, his son is in Irag, and his son was just recently almost killed when Webb was introduced to the President. Webb even found out the W was briefed about his son before their meeting, and W was told to keep that under consideration when they met and talked — even Think Progress stated that “Bush Was Warned To Be ‘Extra Sensitive’ About Webb’s Son.” Well, when they met, W said, “How’s your boy?” (and the thing is, W can find out more about how Webb’s son is doing than Webb can...)But Jim Webb said as a response, “I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President.” W responded, “That’s not what I asked you.” Webb said that he wanted to punch W for saying that, because he felt the audacity of W’s comment for his son Jimmy, who for all intents and purposes should be going home to heal from his serious injuries. Now, if you want to hear about a house divided: the Republican wing of the world (with sources like Bill O’Reilly and the National Review commenting on this...) would call Webb “rude,” “inappropriate,” “disrespectful,” or “classless” for making the comments he did to W. But on the flipside, The Daily Kos reported that “this President could be so crude and uncivil as to strut the power of his office and demand that Jim Webb tell him how things were going with his son while in full knowledge that his son had almost died.”
Anthrax letter to Tom Daschle You see, with almost any topic I’d bring up here, everyone will choose their polarized sides. But let me throw another one your way, with a possibly slanted perspective on an attack that happened in our country only a week after 9/11. Do you all remember the Anthrax in the mail scare? Well, Wikipedia will even tell you that “The 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, also known as Amerithrax from its FBI case name, occurred over the course of several weeks beginning on September 18, 2001 (a week after the September 11, 2001 attacks). Letters containing anthrax bacteria were mailed to several news media offices and two U.S. Senators.” Now, I’m going to lay out for you who the Anthrax-laden letters were mailed to: the media letters were mail to ABC News, CBS News, NBC News and the New York Post. The Government letters were addressed to two Democratic Senators, Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont. But over the radio I heard people suggest how letters were mailed to the media and to Democrats (anyone that may ever be against the President?). Could these targets have been chosen to help the Bush kakistocracy instill fear in not only the general public (because of the 9/11 attacks) but also in his opponents? Now, I searched for info on the Internet and found TONS of places talking about conspiracies... I even read in BBC News on 14/3/02 state that “a Newsnight investigation raised the possibility that there was a secret CIA project to investigate methods of sending anthrax through the mail which went madly out of control.” CBS News (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/06/28/national/main513694.shtml) even reported that “The FBI is investigating the possibility that someone secretly grew the deadly anthrax mailed to politicians and media outlets last fall at an Army laboratory in Maryland and further refined it at home” (with the Tetrahedron Publishing Group even reporting on this, at http://www.tetrahedron.org/articles/anthrax/anthrax_espionage.html).

•••

As I said, I really didn’t know how to start this editorial, because in wanting to talk about how the Bush Administration has actually made us less safe than we were before W started in office — or even a year after 9/11/01. There are so many little tidbits of information, and it’s hard to piece everything together to form any cohesive storyline. Like, I’d hear stories about the history of the Bush family, and... Well, how do you piece together distant ties to the Nazi party, or to funding the original Planned Parenthood — which was an organization to promote abortions in “the undesirable element of society” (i.e. blacks and Native Americans and other minorities)?
Let me tell you a little something about W’s grandfather, Prescott Bush (1895-1972). Now, Prescott was involved with the American Birth Control League (makes sense for a Republican), and served as the treasurer of the first national capital campaign of Planned Parenthood in 1947.
Hmmm. Planned Parenthood. I’ve always thought it was a place to help guide pregnant women to not have abortions but to either keep the child or carry it to term and put it up for adoption, which would make sense that a Republican would support it, but apparently I was (in part) wrong — Planned Parenthood will help you find information on sexual health, birth control, emergency contraception and abortion rights. Now, looking briefly at the history of Planned Parenthood, they seem like a strong organization fighting for women’s rights. But when I read further, Planned Parenthood became the product of the union between the eugenics movement and the “birth controllers.” The eugenics movement, tainted by public hostility to their Nazi-like ideologies, united with the birth controllers (from The History of Planned Parenthood, by Mike Perry, http://www.ewtn.com/library/PROLIFE/PPHISTRY.TXT). “In short, Margaret Sanger herself believed that the organization she had founded had not altered its ‘primary objective’ - stopping the ‘multiplication of the unfit.’”
The unfit? The name “Planned Parenthood” even came in a 1938 letter from Dr. Lydia DeVilbiss, a Florida physician, birth controller and racist. Choosing a name suggested by an open racist illustrates once again that the new name didn’t mean a new agenda.” Racial minorities were considered very threatening, and birth control could be thought of as a way to keep the minorities exactly that — minorities. Citizen magazine (01/20/92) even posed (http://www.blackgenocide.org/sanger.html) that Dr. S. Adolphus Knopf, a member of Margaret Sanger’s American Birth Control League (ABCL, which along with other groups eventually became known as Planned Parenthood) warned people at a March 1925 international birth control gathering in New York City of the menace posed by the “black” and “yellow” peril.
I don’t make this stuff up (Hell, I do my damndest to cite my sources). But the thing is, the forming of Planned Parenthood throughout the early 1940s coincided with Prescott Bush’s involvement with the organization.

•••

Oh, if you think I’m grasping at straws to tie the Bush family with Nazis (you know, with the Nazi-like ideology of the eugenics movement), I’ll search for something else — like this, from the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html): “Prescott Bush was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany — a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism. His business dealings continued until his company’s assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.” There was even a civil action for damages brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave laborers at Auschwitz.
Want more evidence? “Even after America had entered the war, [Prescott Bush] worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler’s rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.”
In George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin (http://www.tarpley.net/bush2.htm) in Chapter II: The Hitler Project, it even notes that “The Bush family’s fortune was largely a result of the Hitler project. The powerful Anglo-American family associations, which later boosted George H. W. Bush (41st U.S. President) into the Central Intelligence Agency and up to the White House, were his father’s partners in the Hitler project.” I mean, I even found out that Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Bush#War_seizures_controversy) explains about the war seizures controversy.

•••

And I’m sitting here talking about the Bush family fortune ties to W’s grandfather trading with Nazis in the WWII era, and it made me think of how every liberal under the sun at one point was equating W with Hitler. Now, I don’t think there’s any real evidence to support these claims (although in some aspects it’s better to call W as a fascist, because as the definition goes, does have a tendency toward — and actual exercise of — strong autocratic or dictatorial control), but Pravda even made the remark ( http://english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/98/387/11693_bush.htm) that “Nazi leader Herman Goering once remarked that it was easy to lead people into war, regardless of whether they resided within “a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.” All that was required, Goering argued, is for their government to “tell them they are being attacked, and [then] denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger.””
Does that sound like Republicans arguing with Democrats during this “war on terror?” But Pravda even summed it up by saying “how easily Americans can be manipulated, how willing they are to be lied to, and how vacuous the freedoms of speech and press have become when the bulk of information is filtered through corporate-controlled media that profit from jingoism, propaganda and dishonesty.”
A MoveOn.org ad ( http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,107426,00.htm) even stated: “A nation warped by lies. Lies fuel fear. Fear fuels aggression. Invasion. Occupation.” Sounds like they’re talking about the Bush years, right? Well, it was showing images of Hitler, before it said “What were war crimes in 1945 is foreign policy in 2003.”
Although it’s interesting to hear people say these things, there are also a number of sources outlining the differences between Bush and Hitler (see http://www.politicalhotwire.com/1307-adolph-hitler-vs-george-w-bush.htm, for example). It might be easy to jump the gun and rashly call our leader someone so vile, but it doesn’t help your case if you can’t back up your statements with real facts.
Not that everything the Republicans say is purely fact, but as I said, check your sources. Jumping to conclusions without evidence to support your theory won’t help your cause, it will probably only hurt it.

•••

It’s not easy figuring out how to put all of these seemingly unrelated facts together, which is why my editorial is beginning to look more like a hodgepodge of assorted random facts. Because it’s hard on the surface to piece all of this together to formulate one cohesive statement. I can say that he has hired the most ethnically diverse cabinet in the history of the United States. But I can also say that his decisions (probably with the blind support of a Republican House and Senate for so long) have probably in many respects hurt this country more than helped it. I don’t know if Nancy Pilosi and the Democrats taking over the Senate and the House will have a real effect — I don’t know if they’ll be able to stop the war W wants to keep going strong by cutting off funding for any potential additional soldier will happen.
I know I’m just the editor, but there are a lot of things about this country’s future that I don’t know. And I don’t know what steps have to be taken to make us feel safer — and make us literally be safer.
If I listen to my founding fathers (and people like Benjamin Franklin) and keep in check how I’ve always lived my life, I’ll be doing everything I can to keep my liberties — while occasionally looking over my shoulder to make sure that everything is as safe as I need it to be.




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Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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