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"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. In the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience until luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake." –Thomas Jefferson
- DIVIDED WE FALL -
Today the most widely disliked man on earth swore a sacred oath of office. Then, in a display of arrogant and insensitive vulgarity unmatched in our nation’s history he ascended himself to the 55th Presidency of the no-longer-United States of America. All about him, the believers reveled.
The debauch capped a week that saw the Secretary of State-designate, Condoleeza Rice, declare her sensitivity to foreign affairs by publicly calling the tsunami disaster “…a wonderful opportunity for America.” The inauguration caps a week in which we heard the nation’s proposed chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General designate Alberto Gonzalez, endorse the most flagrant violation of human rights imaginable – torture - as a lawful way to interrogate prisoners. It was a week in which the White House finally announced that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and hadn’t been since the Nineties. Then, as if to top it all off, we were subjected to more baby-talk from the great man himself.
In a post-election return to using his own words, the self-styled leader of the “free world,” George W. Bush, blurted out that we cannot find Osama bin Laden because he is hiding. Still, the believers reveled.
What’s happening here is simple. A pickpocket creates a diversion so he can steal your money while you’re looking elsewhere. Well, guess what? The last four years have been one diversion after another. And our collective pockets have been picked clean while most of us were looking elsewhere.
Through skillful, and to all indications criminal exploitation of the ignorance, religious bigotry, and fear-borne panic of fully half of our countrymen, no less than $750 billion has disappeared from our public treasury with no accountability forthcoming. Yet they revel.
No fewer than 1.8 million jobs have moved offshore (5.3 million when adjusted for population growth) in response to Bush’s $79 million in yearly tax incentives for corporations who leave the United States.1 Yet they revel.
When Bush took office America was $265 billion to the good. It was the most prosperous day in our history. Three years later we were $500 billion in the hole.2 We are today $7 trillion in debt to foreign banks and about to allow the Bush pickpockets to rob Social Security of $2 trillion more. Two trillion! Seven trillion! We’re talking real money here! It causes one to speculate: can the knuckle-walkers who still believe this guy, conceptualize how very many zeroes are to the left of the decimal in such numbers?! Yet they revel.
The $40 million inauguration extravaganza – the most expensive ever - symbolically urinates upon the graves of the over 1300 young Americans who’ve died for Bush’s lies, mistakes, and corporate greed. That money would buy one helluva lot of body armor for our troops. But that $40 mil will instead buy martinis, hookers, influence, and contracts here in America. Yet the believers revel while our young soldiers continue to die (and worse) before they’ve even lived their lives. Tomorrow more shall die, these will die secure in the knowledge that their deaths are in vain. For there are no explanations or excuses left as to why they’re being made to die. None will be forthcoming either. No one who can stop the killing, cares any more. They’ve been given “political capital,” you see.
Bush and his buffoons will be the face of America for the next four years. Perhaps they are an accurate visage. The rest of the world thinks so.
To appreciate just how far we’ve fallen as a society, consider inaugurations past. In particular consider that of the man whose social programs will be destroyed by the current crop of Pennsylvania Avenue cretins over the next four years. Consider but two inaugurations of the most reelected president since Washington. Consider Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
To begin his presidency, FDR spoke the magnificent and more appropriate than ever words we all now know so well: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself... nameless, unreasoning, unjustified fear.” At the time of his last inaugural our nation was at war. It was a fight for our nation’s very survival against an enemy who actually had weapons and armies and the means to prevail. It was not an armed robbery disguised as a war. Nor was it a blood-soaked diversion wherein a bunch of draft-dodgers use the bodies of other men’s children to do their dirty work abroad while they pick our pockets at home. It was a real war, and real war-president Roosevelt came out onto the White House balcony to recite the oath of office. Then, in deference to the carnage extant in the world, he declared that there would be no celebrations of the inauguration. There would be no sycophantic tribute to his imperial magnificence. This was America, a place where honest men respected each other as equals. As Americans we would behave as a nation at war behaves. We don’t throw parties while our children die. FDR knew that. He took the oath, then retired back into the White House for a tuna salad, a cup of coffee, and the business of the commonwealth.
Yes, that was America. It was magnificent. It was nowhere apparent today.
Instead, today finds the most powerful and lethal nation in history in the hands of the irrational, the frightened, the greedy, the ignorant, the criminal, and the bigoted. By many counts our president is the most despised human being on the planet. Yet millions of Americans revel. Our countrymen revel to the tune of a $40 million inaugural bash though we are more deeply in debt than at any time in our nation’s history.
It is into this menagerie that I have wandered. I find myself in Washington this night. But I’m not here to celebrate. I’m simply making my way to Paris on business. There is a transportation strike in that city, it’s raining there, it’s foreign and frankly, both Paris and Parisians can be annoying. Yet it is nowhere near as foreign or annoying to me as is this place on this night. With its concrete barricades and legions of buttoned-down parasites, our nation’s capitol is a reflection of its occupants. Parisians there, Parasites here. The choice is an easy one. I cannot depart soon enough.
Meanwhile, as I walk toward the DuPont Circle Metro station, the shark-smiles are everywhere apparent in our capitol. The greed-mongers are celebrating their successful raid on our national treasure. Tonight and all week there will be parties to celebrate the four-year feeding frenzy about to begin. The parasitic privileged will drink their wine and they will laugh at the very fools who voted for them and their stooges. They will divvy up what’s left of our money. They will do so while laughing at the abject stupidity of a populace half of whom are too dumb to realize they’ve been robbed, and too dumb to understand why the other half are so damned mad. And, as is fitting, those who have robbed us will do what any rational crooks would do when met with such accolades from the majority of their victims, they will rob us yet again. They revel.
As night falls on the streets, the shark smiles are replaced by the slack-jawed smiles of the believers who will foot this bill. They’ll be among the few in this town who are paying for their own food tonight as they fill the fast food joints. The believers might have driven their RVs from far and wide to be here, but they will not be invited to the parties. If they were, they’d know they were being laughed at behind the walls that keep them out. Yet they came. They came resplendent in their cowboy hats and stars-and-stripes shirts to revel and stand in the snow and wave their little flags. But, hey, they’re not here to go to parties. They are here because they are patriots. Just ask them.
A man named Scott Ritter once said, "I can train a monkey to wave an American flag. That does not make the monkey patriotic."
As a nation, as a people we will fall farther than this before it’s over. We’ve not been this divided since the Eighteen-Sixties. Yet I for one will do my best to heed Thomas Jefferson’s words one more time, as I have all of my life. But one more time only. For, however divided, ours remains a nation worth saving. So, as the great man said, “Patience… a little patience and we shall see the reign of witches pass.”
Jefferson’s message is an important one, however difficult it might be to accept right now. For, as in times past, the revelers will wake up before this one is over. Eventually they will feel the stranger’s cold hand in their pocket. Then there will be hell to pay. I just hope it doesn’t take them too long this time. My patience is awfully thin right now, Mr. Jefferson, awfully thin.
At the airport, I buy a copy of Le Monde and head for my departure gate.
Dom Stasi, an engineer, is Chief Technology Officer for an international media network. A pilot, Air Force veteran, and former member of the Project Apollo technical team, he is also a widely published science and technology writer. A father of two, Mr. Stasi lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 38 years.
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