People's Court Judge Marilyn Millian has a great line she throws at somebody who lies to her once. 'I wouldn't believe you if your tongue came notarized!' Her contention is that if you lie to me once, no matter how you present your facts after that, your entire testimony is suspect. What makes the Bush administration think we, the voting public, are so dumb as to believe anything they say after they have been caught lying and so complacent that we won't do something about it?
By now everyone knows the facts about the deliberately misleading statements in Bush's State of the Union message. Now we learn of retaliatory leaks against those who raised doubts and questions. We heard him tell us that Iraq was liberated. (The Iraqis seem to have been liberated from electricity, fresh water, their own oil, their jobs. Mothers were liberated from their husbands, sons, and children. Children were liberated from their limbs and their families.) Bush stood on the carrier Lincoln in a flight suit after his well-staged publicity hop from the mainland and declared the fighting over and the war a success. If you looked carefully over his shoulder you could see San Diego 30 miles away. We all know that five months later the body bags keep coming: ours, our allies, UN peacekeepers, aid workers, Iraqis.
NPR and PBS commentators continually connect the dots between Halliburton and their subsidiaries with no-bid government contracts on everything from military housing to oil field re-construction, even the detention centers at Guantanamo in Cuba. They remind us that Cheney, with scant business experience, went from Secretary of Defense under Bush the First, to CEO of Halliburton; and that Bush the Second was a hefty shareholder until just weeks before their stock dipped. Halliburton began as little more than a general contractor to the military; a middle-man organization that fed out sub-contracts and pocketed big fees. The Texas corporation got their start in the good-old-boys, back-slapping network around Lyndon Johnson and grew to their present status via their Bush/Cheney connections.
Central among the reasons given for waging unilateral, pre-emptive war was the inability of the UN inspectors to find the hidden cache of 'weapons of mass destruction,' now just referred to as WMDs. We have been in Iraq many months now with many multiples of the original UN searchers and have found zilch. In a quest for justification, with great patriotic fervor, we were asked to link Iraq with terrorist attacks against the U.S. No evidence of Iraqi connections to 9/11 have been found. (There are many connections with the Saudis, but that doesn't seem to have weight at the moment.) The last I heard Osama bin Laden was still abroad in the land. Saddam Hussein is probably still alive and well. And our policies have made us many friends in the Middle East and abroadyeah, right! What is this really all about? No one voted for Paul Wolfowitz, who is characterized as sitting like a vulture in a tree since the days of Bush the First, just waiting for an excuse to take down Iraq. 9-11 provided him and the administration with their needed smokescreen. 'We the people' were conned, in our fright and our anger, into accepting via our elected representatives the lies that were served up as an excuse for pre-emptive war.
Now we are asked, via those same elected representatives, to give over another $80 billion or so to add to the $70 billion or more already spent, with what justification? Various groups at least call for 'accountability,' an 'exit strategy.' This monetary sink-hole, a country around the size of Texas or California, is drawing down national healthcare, efforts to abate hunger in the U.S. and elsewhere, affordable housing, myriad social services. For what?
After not listening to the few voices raised in opposition to the proposed pre-emptive war in Iraq, our elected congressmen in this representative democracy, while decrying the mendacity of the administration, will vote/ dump billions more in tax dollars into war's gaping maw. 'We can't turn our backs on our boys.' 'The WMDs are there, we just haven't found them yet.' 'A stable Iraq is needed to secure peace in the Middle East thereby protecting U.S. interests.' Does it really matter what song they sing now?
If nothing else, though it may be too late to close the monetary floodgates our flawed policies have forced open, it's not too late to reclaim a truly representative democracy. It's time for Cheney to get out of the basement closet or wherever he has been running things from and face the electorate. We remember all his entangling alliances with the industrial/military corporations. We remember he was conferring with Enron on developing a U.S. energy policy. This was after Enron drove California to the brink of bankruptcy and before they tanked themselves and their stockholders with their greed. It's time for Senators to recognize that they are elected for six-year terms, not life; and for the electorate to realize if a Senator hasn't got it right in six years, they're not likely too. Give 'em the boot.
Maybe we should even think about term limits for elected officials other than the President. Then they might have more accountability to the electorate and not the lobbyists and entrenched pork barrel good ol' boys. And it's time for Bush to realize he's not going to be allowed to steal another election.
No one is going to hand our government back to us. The establishment, both Republicans and Democrats, are not going to reflect the interests of the electorate unless we exercise the power of the vote. Election Day is too late to have a voice. It's time for voters to educate themselves on the critical importance of primaries; of the necessity to question candidates and vote in every election from school and library boards to local offices. And follow the money trail. Don't just listen to what the liars say, but look at whose pockets hold the money. We will get what we deserve if we don't quit fighting over a piece of the pie and grasp the bigger picture. There may not be much pie left to fight over. It's time to stand up and be counted.
Copyright 2003 by Marie J. Kuda. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org