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Monday, August 29, 2005

Mayday, mayday!

2005 is fast-becoming the summer of our nation’s discontent.

We continue to have high school students who don’t understand “basic” American history, those in college who lack even a high-school reading level, an academic and funding crisis of epic proportions in our nation’s urban and rural school districts and lackluster interest in math and the sciences.

But that’s okay because we’re going to revolutionize the teaching of science by introducing “alternative” theories about our world and its creation in the form of intelligent design. Nevermind that it relies not a wit on scientific methodology (nor, I would argue, intelligence), but was instead “designed” as an answer to evolution’s inability to explain everything.

This theory is rooted in the realm of the ignorant who have capitalized on people’s deep-rooted faith by drawing just enough innuendo, spread just enough misinformation and spent large gobs of money in a PR campaign designed to cripple the science programs of our nation’s already suffering public education system.

Can it get any worse?

Why, of course it can. We’re going to change the rules of our national park system so that anyone can jet ski or snowmobile their way across protected lands. I mean, really, who needs to worry about the future of our national parks when we can’t even enjoy them to their fullest today? One editorial today mentioned the harm to the “soundscape” of our national parks. Who needs to hear the moose or bird calls or, God forbid, the quiet when they can get off on the hard-charging, revving sounds of a snowmobile?

And then, of course, there’s Iraq.

Last week, former Democratic senator Gary Hart wrote in the Washington Post:

The truth is we're way off course. We've stumbled into a hornet's nest. We've weakened ourselves at home and in the world. We are less secure today than before this war began.

Who now has the courage to say this?

Who indeed?

As Maureen Dowd wrote on Saturday, the Bush Administration has “jumped the couch” and the shark.

Now we’re canning respectable appointees at such positions as the Bureau of Justice Statistics because it has some disturbing though perhaps not surprising news to report about police treating blacks and Hispanics more aggressively during traffic stops than whites. Wasn’t there a movie about this?

Dowd writes:

You'd think that by now, watching the meshugas in Iraq, the Bush crowd would have learned some lessons about twisting facts to suit ideology, and punishing those who try to tell the truth. But they're still behaving like Cinderella's evil stepsisters, who cut their feet to fit them into the glass slipper: butchering reality to make the fairy tale come out their way.

Pat Robertson is on television advocating state-sponsored assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to save a few bucks on war, and we’ve strained our military, financial and diplomatic resources to adequately deal with Iran and North Korea. But the Bush administration feels our nation’s pain. It counters the grief and protests of Cindy Sheehan, who’s son was killed in Iraq, with its own mother of an Iraqi soldier with one small difference — her child is thankfully still alive and well.

If there’s one thing that causes my blood pressure to skyrocket it’s when simple-minded folk believe in the all-or-nothing approach. Life isn’t black and white. Case in point: Bush believes we either stay the course and finish the job in Iraq or capitulate into immediate withdrawal. Are he and his posse utterly incapable of coming up with myriad alternative solutions?

Apparently so, just as this administration is utterly incapable of admitting mistakes and adjusting for changes in circumstance, let alone fact. When Henry Kissinger starts likening Iraq to Vietnam, you can just hear the Fonz revving the engine of his motorcycle for his big jump.

But that leaves the Democrats, who have all but vanished. In the months leading up to the war, they caved in to the administration’s strength in the post-9/11 era and their own partisan, selfish concerns over mid-term elections.

Questions went unanswered — and worse — unasked. The media also were bystanders in this event, clearly queasy with the idea of questioning the policies of a president who presided over our country while it was under attack. That practice, and that of following Bushie around his backyard pool like a bunch of fawning puppy dogs, has got to stop. We have to put his and his administration’s feet to the fire over and over again. And if they refuses to answer, so be it. But the questioning must never stop. The American public deserves answers and accountability.

So here we are, with the fourth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 looming, no end to the bloodbath of the insurgency in Iraq, no clear idea of how to win or at the very least withdraw without it collapsing into an Islamist state, and a military system that is being drained of its personnel (thankfully some Guardsmen are left to help with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans). But we’re going to fix that with a $350 million new Army recruitment ad campaign that doesn’t mention Iraq. As if men and women who enlist aren’t smart enough to figure out that Iraq is a very real port of destination.

Can someone speak the truth for once? Hillary, Joe Biden, John Kerry, John McCain, Russell Feingold? Please, I’d like to see the Democrats grow a set of balls and start to challenge the miserable state of our country with some very tangible solutions to correct our course. And I'd like to see the same from moderate Republicans. Because we are WAY off course.

We ALL deserve better. And we need to demand it now.

Here is the scenario I picture as the icing on the cake:

On Sept. 10, the Ohio State University Buckeyes are playing Texas Longhorns. George W. Bush, a big UT fan, decides to make an appearance at the Horseshoe. If that happens I will first regurgitate my chili, say a few Hail Marys as penance for my venom, and then pray to God W. takes the time to meet with the families of the Ohio Marines who were killed a few weeks ago in Iraq. Because even though the Buckeye state elected him to a second term, he surely didn’t see fit to pay his respects when some of our own paid the ultimate price for his policy. But hey, wouldn't want to ruin a perfectly good football game. Pass the pretzels.

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