Friday, November 2, 2007

America, Open For Business, Closed To Freedom

Is there any area of our government, over the span of the last seven years, any area, in domestic or foreign policy, national defense, public welfare, the economy, name it, where the average, reasonably informed American might point to success, to signs of progress, of improvement, something, anything, to point to with satisfaction, with pride?

Yesterday I read an article by Steve Benin on the resignation of Karen Hughes from her post as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, a mouthful there, and a job for which she was as ill suited and unqualified as the man who appointed her and in which, during her two year tenure, she accomplished little, if anything.

In truth, she accomplished nothing, unless you want to count convincing large portions of the world that all Americans must be as out of touch with reality, as clueless and unthinking as their current Commander in Chief, and at that she excelled, as anyone might, having been dispatched to the Middle East with the rank of Ambassador, but without knowledge of the language, culture, history, religions, and general pet peeves of the various states and peoples of the region.

But Karen Hughes was tapped for her office for the same reasons as all Bush appointees are chosen, not for expertise or experience, not for performance or integrity in public service but for loyalty, for unwavering belief in the Messianic delusions of neo conservatism, and a willingness to march in lockstep, nah, goose step, against all who might disagree or dissent.

As I read Benin's article I had the thought that he might have written a very similar piece about nearly any federal department and the Bush appointees thereto in the last seven years. Which of the various cabinet level branches of the executive department of this country have not suffered greatly under the politically connected cronyism of the Bush/ Cheney administration?

We witnessed it at Justice, the politicization of the office of the Attorney General, the perversion of law and the resulting descent into the barbarity of denial of human rights and torture.

We saw it at Defense, where the best military minds of a generation were ignored in favor of the views of sychophantic careerists who allowed a lying Vice President and a comic opera Commander in Chief and their apparatchiks to lead them over the cliff and into the abyss of an endless and disastrous war.

We have seen time and again the incompetence, indifference and criminal neglect at "Homeland" Security and FEMA.

We have seen heads of federal departments turned into agents of electioneering, where party politics takes precedence over public welfare and the machinery and energy of the state is turned to the furtherance of private goals.

Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Treasury and the rest are now run by the industries that they are legally bound to restrain, regulate and control in the public interest.

Executive branch departments have been stripped of many of their most dedicated, long serving professionals and replaced with Bush loyalists from business and industry, or, in many cases directly from the most favored campuses, the ivy leagues of Christian evangelism. Regulatory functions have been curtailed, enforcement budgets slashed, and inspection schedules diminished to a laughable degree in nearly every regulatory corner of the federal system.

But this, after all, was the intent, to create central government that would gladly do the bidding of the corporate structure, throw aside all restraints, all regulation and increase its profits and its power.

Nearly every day I encounter a story in the media, a story of illness, injury, death or disaster befalling unsuspecting citizens due to the inattention, incompetence, lack of inspection and failures of enforcement of existing federal laws regulating consumer products, work place safety, environmental prohibitions or other areas where purity, safety and security were once almost taken for granted.

During the last seven years we have devolved into a country whose livestock, produce and other foodstuffs are ridden with bacteria and other contaminants, whose drugs and medical services are becoming untrustworthy, whose ports and borders are dangerously porous, whose bridges and highways are collapsing, whose military is being misused and abused in continuous illegal and futile adventures on behalf of corporate America, whose jobs have largely been moved to other countries and continents, whose pensions have collapsed and whose Barbie Dolls contain enough lead to write a novella. (Or, perhaps, the last paragraph)

The real problem however, the crux of the matter and what may finally deliver us stumbling and stuttering, quavering with dread at the terminus of the road to Fascist hell is the incredible damage that has been inflicted on the American spirit, the American soul, the American psyche. I may be accused of naivete' but in my world, in my mind and in my memory there was a time when the eyes of America contained a great measure of compassion, of kindness, of simple good will.

Those days are gone. Under the current regime the eyes of America, official America, the America of the ruling oligarchy are now filled with hunger, with avarice, with an insatiable lust for resources and power, for wealth and influence. America's eyes are no longer the warm welcoming eyes of Lady Liberty but the cold calculating gaze of the largest and most dangerous predator to ever stalk the planet, a predator to be feared and distrusted, to be resisted at all costs.

The eyes of Americans, our citizens, our electorate are filled with a mixture of apathy and fear, of meekness, a cowering attitude and a shuffling posture which is all too heavily reflected in their parliament.

America, in the brief span of my lifetime and largely in the span of a single decade has devolved into a killer of humanity, a dream slayer, despoiler of freedom, a destroyer, the destroyer of America.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust