It is, at best difficult and possibly disrespectful, to seek global comedy in this time of global tragedy, but I’ll do my best. As I type, the death toll from the Indian Ocean Tsunami has passed 150,000 and they’re still counting. Considering the immensity of the devastation and the poverty of the region, it is highly likely that double to triple that number will perish over the next few months due to the horrendous conditions. Leaders from around the world have pledged assistance to the survivors, including our own President Bush, who has promised a whopping three hundred and fifty million dollars of aid to the 11 countries hardest hit. To understand how magnanimous this is consider that it equals roughly about 8% of what we spend blowing the hell out of Iraq each month.
Considering also our track record of enormous discrepancies between the aid we promise and the aid we deliver (SEE the Bam, Iran earthquake or our fabled AIDS aid for Africa), it is likely that our assistance in the Indian Ocean will simply be another Bush family photo-op that quietly closes up shop as soon as the press leaves town. But that should come as no surprise to those who have seen the Bush administration as more than the lovable flag waving gay-bashers they attempt to appear to be.
The recent news cycle has brought a recurrence of stories about prisoner abuse in Guantánamo Bay and throughout Iraq with tales of interrogation methods so vile the FBI blew the whistle. Bush’s response, of course, has been to push even harder to make Alberto Gonzales, the man responsible for rewriting US policy to condone such treatment, as our new Attorney General. Perhaps Gonzales can do for the whole of America what he has done for our military: further de-humanize it with precise legalese.
On top of that comes news that the Bush administration is considering a nifty little battle plan called “the Salvador Option” to try to turn around the continuing quagmire we commonly call Iraq. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Salvador Option gets its name from the Reagan administration’s policies in the early 1980s in El Salvador, when our government routinely sponsored “Death Squads” who kidnapped, tortured and killed civilians who supported our opposition. All in all US trained death squads in El Salvador were responsible for more than 70,000 murders, each in the US name, each with Reagan’s blessing. To make sure they did it right the US trained them at our own academy for future Torquemadas, the notorious School of the Americas, alma mater of such notable upholders of right-wing Christian values as Guatemalan genocide architect General Efrain Rios Montt, Bolivian president and former military dictator, Hugo Banzer, who privatized his country’s water supply by selling it to Bechtel (a Halliburton subsidiary, imagine that), and of course everyone’s favorite drug lord, pineapple and Bush senior fall guy, Manuel Noriega.
It also turns out that to make sure America stomachs Bush policy taxpayer dollars have been spent to bribe conservative pundits to promote Bush agenda. So far only one columnist, Armstrong Williams, has come forward after being fired for pocketing a cool quarter of a million dollars to promote Bush education policy, but one can only imagine how many right wing writers Karl Rove must have on the take. In a way this revelation is comforting for it finally explains how supposedly intelligent people such as Sean Hannity and Robert Novak might’ve espoused all the insane propaganda they’ve been spewing.
So, what’s a nation to do? Is there an option out before the media begins grooming Jeb for the next 8 years? US Representatives John Conyers and Stephanie Tubbs Jones gave it their best shot by linking up with Senator Barbara Boxer and attempted to challenge the fraudulent election results in Ohio, a challenge Congress failed to muster over the 2000 election fiasco. Unfortunately it only resulted in further GOP demonizing of Democrats not willing to goosestep along with their march toward making America a god fearing country. So for now it appears we will just have to accept Bush is our president.
BUT, that doesn’t mean we have to like it, nor does that mean he has to remain our president for four more years, when four more months is far too long. I say that instead of embracing the Salvador Option, we as a people should look into the “Nixon Option.” Take hope for the Repub defection on the plan to exempt Tom De Lay from ethics rules, or from the fact that the former grand wizard of the right, Newt Gingrich himself, has dubbed the president’s plan to privatize Social Security “not politically doable.” Second term presidents are notoriously scandal ridden and G. W. Bush has certainly ridden through both elections on a herd of scandals so large they make W. G. Harding look like a choir boy and old Tricky Dick himself look like St. Richard.
Consider the Nixon-Bush parallels: corrupt Republican presidents presiding over unpopular wars, myriad crooked schemes to railroad the election and a trail of scandals leading right to the Oval Office.
Chances are Bush has already committed enough high crimes and misdemeanors to be put away for life. Unfortunately we’ve yet to locate a Woodward and Bernstein to turn the tide of public opinion. Websites such as Thousandreasons.org and the array of sites calling themselves “Impeach Bush” literally offer hundreds of reasons for impeachment that are far more valid than the occasional BJ from an overweight Oval Office intern. But what will be the turning point? How many more American values will we have to sell off in the name of “family values”? Upon re-election Bush proclaimed he had earned plenty of political capital and he intended to spend it. In the wake of the latest revelations of hiring death squads and bribing journalists, one can only wonder what his next shopping spree will bring.
Mikel Weisser teaches social studies and poetry on the West Coast of Arizona. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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