What more does it take for America to wake up and understand who and what George W. Bush really is? I watched tonight's Nightline, which I think pretty well clenches the truth: this problem really does start at the top and "trickle down" from there. Almost any of those is reason enough to say that the Emperor has no clothes.
On tonight's Nightline, we see the following:
- Ray Nagin has again ordered the evacuation of New Orleans, because the levees and pumps are in a weakened condition, and there is a significant likelihood that Tropical Storm Rita may come close enough to Nawlins to drop enough rain to re-flood the city. Remember that sound bite if Dubya tries again to claim that no one foresaw such a possibility. Bush and others in his administration have already lied about what they knew about Katrina and when they knew it.
- Bush makes the very astute point (no, really, I mean that sincerely, with neither sarcasm nor irony) that Mayor Nagin is getting ahead of himself with his ambitious plans to re-populate the city. It would be the height of hubris for Mayor Nagin to move people back into a city that George W. Bush has willfully left in harm's way, even though the primary fault lies with Dubya.
- Likewise, it would be the height of hubris to think that George W. Bush cares any more about poor black people in New Orleans today than he did three weeks ago. Do we really need human shields against a tropical storm? 'Cause there ain't no cavalry coming from Dubya's direction. He's only sorry to see you die if your death lowers his poll ratings. (That's kind of the message to Cindy Sheehan, too, albeit a harsh rephrasing of it.)
- FEMA continues to get in the way of first responders trying to help the people of New Orleans. President Bush says we should solve problems instead of pointing fingers, but he doesn't seem to have done anything much to actually solve the problem. Why doesn't FEMA have a cadre of — oh, I don't know — Emergency Managers who can step in and say, "OK, you're sending legit stuff, so you have emergency approval to do this." You see, in law, there's this thing called the defense of necessity, as in "Yes, all right, this shipment of bandages and splints did not fully comply with all government regulations. However, there is a hospital full of patients begging for basic supplies, so [someone at FEMA—list name and title of official] approved what appeared to be a legitimate urgent delivery." (Gee, Mr. Bush, you can figure out how to give "emergency" no-bid contracts to Halliburton, but you can't figure out how to give "emergency" permission for volunteers to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of New Orleans? Sounds like a failure of vision to me.) There's also the principle of mitigation of damages. But no, we turn away doctors offering medical supplies, private helicopters offering to evacuate suffering hospital patients, and food for the doctors and patients we won't evacuate — unless they have the word Baptist on the side of their van.
Let me give you a clue, here: having the word Baptist as your friend-or-foe callsign, is just a tiny bit on the obvious side, don't you think? I mean, that would be pretty piss poor as the password to a club house for 8-year-olds, but as our definitive proof that you're one of the "good guys" and couldn't possibly be up to any harm, it's inexpressibly inadequate. You might as well just put a combination padlock on NORAD instead of those fancy-schmancy reinforced blast doors (like in Wargames). Let me ask the American people: are you willing to take it on faith that no one would ever commit a terrorist act in a van that says Baptist on the side? For that matter, are you willing to take it on faith that Pat Robertson would never commit a terrorist act, just because he says "Praise Jesus" a lot? The guy has publicly advocated the assassination of the president of a sovereign nation. That in itself is a terrorist act under our laws, and yet our President stands idly by, implicitly condoning this act of terrorism by his very milksop denunciation of it. If you do not approve of "Reverend" Robinson's remark, Mr. President, then condemn it in terms that leave you no wiggle room. You're either against Pat Robertson or you're with him.
- We suddenly have lots of buses ready to evacuate wealthy communities in the Florida Keys, but we couldn't allow buses to go to New Orleans. Golly.
- Television is actually serving as a positive agent of social and political change in Afghanistan, because it is mirroring the people and showing them a way forward to progress and happiness, including such radical ideas as equality of men and women. I wonder what would happen in the United States if television portrayed a world of happiness and progress, including such radical ideas as legal equality of persons of all genders (not just two!). I'm sure that the Christian Conservatives would join me in hoping for a world of peace and brotherhood among children of God — wouldn't they?
Which is more important to you: Jesus' statement that God cares about all His children, sinner and saved alike, or your need to believe that other people are going to go to Hell?
Our government ought not be wasting taxpayer dollars on things that don't really make us any safer. That includes the following whole categories:
- Snooping into the personal lives of our citizens for prudish reasons. That includes both looking into someone's library records, but also taking such a keen interest in who they sleep with. (You heard John Roberts say it: the Constitution of the United States does contain a substantive right to privacy. That doesn't mean, "Yes, I will uphold Roe v. Wade," but it does mean that he will uphold Lawrence v. Texas.)
- Snooping into the personal lives of our soldiers, thailorth, marines, and airmen to root out the evil shirt-flap-lifter monsters.
- Worrying for us about things we can damned well worry about ourselves, like whether we choose to use alcohol or some other intoxicant to get a little disinhibited. (In simple terms, the government prohibition on many non-addictive recreational drugs is irrational and without foundation in science or medicine, especially when highly addictive drugs such as alcohol and especially tobacco are legally available. Not all drugs should be legalized — crystal meth is a greater threat to my home city than Osama bin Laden and Karl Rove combined — but many of them should.)
- Worrying for us about things we can damned well worry about ourselves, like whether our primary romantic relationship is with a man or a woman or a triad of gender-fluid genderqueer cross-dressing hermaphroditic transsexual sadomasochists. Don't tell me whom I can fuck, and don't tell me whom I can marry. As long as it is among freely consenting adults, the government has absolutely zero legitimate interest in the specifics.
- Trying to test the limits of how much you can push the majority religion on the rest of us. No, "One nation, under God" is not (directly) the most critical issue facing America. However, it is one more head of the same hydra. Simple question: how would you feel if the Pledge said, "One nation, without God"? Or, for that matter, "One nation, under all of our gods"? The lie that the 1954 rewording of the Pledge is part of the "Judeo-Christian heritage" of America, cannot withstand the faintest challenge. "I pledge allegiance to ... one nation under God" most certainly is a sectarian religious reference, and therefore it is an impermissible establishment of religion. Let's just spend the 10¢ per classroom and change it back to the original wording: "one nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all." The same goes with all legal challenges to try to get the purely sectarian Ten Commandments posted in government buildings.
- Lining the pockets of political allies. Why do we never see these Bush administration no-bid contracts going to companies that lean Democrat in their political contributions? Why do oil companies need tax breaks when we have $3 gasoline and record oil profits? What were Joe Allbaugh's and Michael Brown's qualifications? It's called "graft," and it's part of a thing called "corruption."
- Fighting a personal war of revenge and conquest, if in fact that is an accurate description of Iraq. (You, the reader, may think it's not, but it is at least a perfectly valid question, and it's one the Republicans refuse to take seriously.)
- Trying to allow the states to take away the common-law right to an abortion before quickening, without passing a Constitutional amendment to do it. There are flaws in Roe v. Wade, and an argument clearly can be made that its specific guidelines for distinguishing permissible from impermissible state regulation of abortion represented a judicial overreach. However, the bedrock principle of Roe v. Wade is one that John Roberts did in fact uphold in his testimony. The essence of stare decisis means that we cannot take away the right to abortion unless there is overwhelming reason to consider the precedent unworkable, and we must make the least modification to precedent possible to render it workable. In other words, even if the specific distinction between trimesters fails future judicial scrutiny, the underlying finding that a woman has a privacy right under common law and thus under the 9th amendment to an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy, but that the states have a legitimate interest in regulating abortion in the later stages of pregnancy, must remain intact. It's rather like an implicit severability clause.
To put it another way, Roe v. Wade is only a precedent, but "you cannot outlaw abortion entirely" is a super-duper precedent. If the foes of abortion want to allow the states to ban abortion entirely, they must persuade 2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution.