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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Ideological Commitment

North Korea announced today that it has at least one nuclear warhead, something the state department has suspected since last year. In making this announcement to the UN, Korea cited the 'axis of evil' characterization Bush put forth and the militarization and policy of hostility that the administration has undertaken against nonprovocative enemies. A month ago, Iran warned that it would use preemptive strikes to guard against any incursion by US forces against their country's nuclear facilities. After the Iraq war, they said, Bush could not be trusted to act in a manner befitting a superpower. He could not be trusted to act like a head of state, rather than a cowboy who's been given the keys to his father's car.

In a little over two weeks, on October 9, Afghanistan will be having its first open election. The only problem is that the United States' crucade against the Islamic world has left Afghanistan as an eighth-string priority, and allowed warlords in the country to threaten and coerce and overall hijack the electoral process. We went to all that trouble to get rid of the Taliban, who we said was suppressing the basic rights of its citizens, and it's been supplanted by unchecked warlords doing the same thing with utter impugnity.

Meanwhile, China is gearing up for an unnamed military adventure. Sources inside Beijing suspect it might be against a country which rhymes with "Maiwan." They're really just following Russia's lead, however, in supressing democratic separatists under the guise of their own "war on terror." Guess what the United States is going to be able to do about it? Becuase the answer is, with our military pretty much committed to Iraq and facing troop shortages there, not much without a full scale draft. We certainly aren't going very far on the credibility front.

In this coming election, the choice is going to be between someone who is obsessed with the details and complexities of a situation and is consequently branded a "flip flopper," or a Texas cowboy who is ideologically consistent. Whether these characterizations are true (they aren't) or not (they really aren't), it's October, and those are the candidates we've got. I'm going to be voting for Kerry.

I never will understand why people want a president who puts his own personal beliefs above political expediency. We love presidents who do it, and agree with us, yet we hate above all else when presidents do this with the other side. So I'm curious why we're not all huge state's rights advocates, where we can exercize some larger modicum of control over who gets to do this to us. The difference between most past presidents and this one, is that this one has gone beyond the normal bounds of using the office of the president and all its might and legislative muscle, into a realm where he's simply making it up as he goes along. He's a president who lied about Iraq and invaded, and somehow the great people of the United States failed to see what the rest of the world saw as crystal clear: that starting a war on false pretenses and without any sort of legitimacy was harmful to the aggregate rule of law.

I believe that Saddam was as bad as the next guy, and I understand people who don't like abstract internationalism as a basis for avoiding war (too much book larnin'), but I hope we're all together on China going to war being a bad thing? Can we all just stand up together and agree that a nuclear armed North Korea is probably also something we'd like to have avoided? Or that Iran, where those silly terrorists actually trained, threatening preemptive strikes while they get the bomb is probably an event we'd rather not see? It seems like there is a lot of room for dispute about what's good and bad, but those three things seem like they solidly belong in the "really, really fucking bad" category.

The record with respect to international affairs absent war also warrents examining. One of the first things Bush did while in office was to withhold the nearly two billion dollars in AIDS funding to Africa unless they agreed to preach abstainance and not a single dollar could go to any organization who also performed abortions. If there is ANY situation where abortion is almost certainly morally justified, it's probably the one where the child, if born, has about a maximum of ten years alive in agony as their fragile immune system allows them to act as a mini petri dish, on a continent where disease isn't exactly an obviated problem for healthy kids. And in case that's not good enough, their parents will also almost certainly be dead by the time they reach maturity. But we have a guy who values life as president, so no money to the people who might have clinics which advise patients on how to get abortions. So the plague rages on, and our president sits back and stares down his coke-sniffing nose at the people of a dying country.

And as our schools continue to fail our kids, he sends our money to "reconstruction" efforts in Iraq, through no-bid contracts to the company who still has the vice president on their payroll. And as our medical system continues to leave millions uninsured, he acts as a father figure to the poor pharmacutical industry, who really need that billion dollar government grant since, having tackled the Gordian knot of old men who can't get erections, now what about old women who can't have orgasms? The SEC fails to prosecute... anyone... for fraud and insider trading. Except, of course, for Martha Stewart, who stole the retirement fund of exactly zero people, and had about zero distorting affect on the market.

Our civil rights continue to fade away as massive government programs utilizing Soviet style spy systems (your cable man, your librarian, your best friend), imploring them to report any suspicious activity, at which point they can perform warrentless phone taps and searches. State's rights have been whittled away by legislation and proposed amendments to the constitution saying that you cannot let two people of a certain gender get married becuase it scares homophobes ("If I'm married, and a gay guy is married... does that make me... gay?").

The part that I find ludicrous is that all of this has been done in the name of some common-man ideology and freedom and democracy, which is supposed to be his strongest selling point. He fights for the common man, as long as that common man owns a multibillion dollar pan-national corporation. He tries to protect life, so long as that life isn't a male between 18 and 24 years old, or of a specific skin hue. He tries to protect freedom, as long as it's his own to do what he wants, when he wants. And this guy is leading in the polls.

When other countries look down their nose at Americans, it's becuase they see a madman running the country - an uneducated hick who engenders that image because it makes people trust that he's really too dumb to be sneaky, who meanwhile is undoing the ABM treaty and the United Nations which have helped prevent armageddon for fifty years. They've stopped seeing a distance between the leader and the people because most people are too scared of the boogey man of terrorism to stop and consider that perhaps our wild, tantrum like flailing out is going to make the world less safe. We've abdicated the moral high ground in favor of petulence, and if we reelect Bush, we get four more years of seeing how fast we can pass our perported enemies on the race to the bottom.

cranked out at 7:50 PM | |

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