Friday, September 09, 2005

With what and with which and to whom?

Lawrence Kaplan makes the point in the September 12th edition of The New Republic that since the end of the Cold War, there has been a quest to replace that lost conflict with something else that could, as it is explained, restore the spirit of involvement and commitment that many in both parties feel is missing.

To be sure, that spirit has been missing since WW II and I believe the many of the early supporters of the Viet Nam conflict were looking for the good old days of world war. When was the last time the President could call for sacrifice and actually expect to get it? We’ve had wars on Poverty, an unending war on drugs and an attempt at a war on something loosely and inaccurately defined as Terror.

These endeavors have, for the most part, failed to rouse the martial spirit in most Americans for longer than a few weeks to a few months, and even the attack on New York hardly inspired a wave of enlistment. The spirit of volunteerism lasted for a shorter time than the flags everyone flew from their cars and support for George W Bush’s war has steadily declined to the exasperation of Jingoes everywhere.

Part of the reason Americans have been steadily less involved in civic matters, volunteer groups and general support of public endeavor stems from Tom Paine’s “That government is best which governs least” as interpreted by the Republican party. The cynicism toward Government by the Party now in power has fostered its own ineptitude in large part.

It’s quite possible that diversion of funds from agencies charged with civil defense and maintenance of flood control devices is related to this idea: that the Federal Government simply cannot and should not try to do anything, from inspecting meat, to delivering the mail, to fixing the roads to preparing for large scale disasters. It’s an idea that blossomed during the Reagan era and is bearing bitter fruit today.

The fact that the Military was set to respond immediately yet sat idle while the President ate cake with McCain, went to parties and while his lawyers argued all night over who had the right to send what and with which and to whom, has only increased cynicism and the perception that indeed – the Government is inherently inept because it is the Government.

So while volunteerism takes off wildly in times of crisis, even to the point of heroism, as we see so clearly today, it soon devolves into apathy, disgust and disappointment as we saw after the attack by al Qaeda 4 years ago.

To be sure, the emerging details of waste, deliberate diversion of funds, nepotism, political patronage and corruption have added to the public disillusionment, but when we have a leader who campaigned fiercely on the idea that Government is not to be trusted and that Government should be reduced, yet who bloats that government beyond all previous boundaries and sets it to work rewarding the rich and powerful at the expense of all else, can we blame the people for not wanting to follow him into one dubious battle after another?

What’s the color of horseshit? Brown, Brown, Brown

Time Magazine today shows us how Bush’s FEMA Chief Michael Brown lied on his resume, claiming among other things to have been a professor when he was only a student, an Assistant City Manager of Emergency Services when he was only an intern, etc. The Bush White House didn’t bother to check it out before parading his virtues before us. I guess when you don’t think the Government has a legitimate role in governing; you might as well give the jobs to people who can’t do their jobs.

Go directly to Jail

If the President can decide that a citizen can be held indefinitely without charges as an enemy of the people without any recourse or hearing or trial, and the President cannot be questioned as to why that citizen is an enemy, is there any point at all in talking about a Constitution any more?

Reuters informed us less than an hour ago that according to a Federal Appeals Court ruling today, Jose Padilla, who never actually attempted a crime, can rot in prison forever if the Government wishes and that the courts can do nothing. Bush says he’s an Enemy Combatant and that’s that. Bush can decide what an Enemy Combatant is and that’s that.

Appeals court Judge J. Michael Luttig’s decision today may be appealed to the Supreme Court, but then George is said to be considering Luttig for a seat on that court. We have courts, but Bush decides.

If this were a movie starring, say Peter Sellers as the Generalissimo of some fictitious country, it would be funny, but when it happens in a nation formerly known as a free country, it isn’t.


Crankyboy said...

If no skills are the required skills then I should be president.

Capt. Fogg said...

But can you cut brush?

Petunia McGillicuddy said...

this whole argument that we need a common enemy to unite us is bunk. the enemy is our finite lives. the enemy is meaninglessness. no, the enemy is that people are in denial and thinking that a new car every two years or remodeling their home (or watching on tv and wishing they had enough money for those things) will stave off inevitable darkness.