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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An Eerie Glow

This morning I awoke to the remnants of a misty sunrise. Every morning during the week begins with the ritual of clothes, cats and coffee. Throwing on a T-shirt and shorts, just enough clothes to not be embarrassed when I walk the dog, I grabbed the empty water glasses and headed downstairs. As usual, the cats raced me to the front door, eager to begin their daylong adventure of hunt, nap and play. I held the water glasses tightly to my chest with one hand as I pushed open the door with the other to let the cats out.

That was when I first saw it - a grayish, green glow hanging over the wooded yard, like a curtain of mourning veils, subduing the usual summer chroma of suburban yards and street and sky. "Hmmm," I told the cats as they leapt through the doorway, "Strange looking morning." They must have thought so too because they stopped for a moment as soon as they got outside and took in the muted light.

It was not until I took the dog out for her walk more than an hour after sunrise, that I really felt the heavy shadows that the dawn had yet to lift. True, it stormed during the night, but that only partly explains why it looked that way. This was not the kind of golden summer glistening that one usually sees after a big rain. It was a surreal glow.

I wondered how America glowed today. The odd morning light seemed to me a metaphor for the unreal optimism that has been demonstrated by the president in talking about the Gulf Coast's recovery or the upbeat Rumsfeld talking about how great things are going in Iraq and Afghanistan. Somehow, this country's leaders (sadly they are our leaders by default, if not by choice) have begun a new newspeak campaign, coloring the bad news with a rosy glow that is usually reserved for partisan sports announcers praising an incompetent player or team.

That they try to tell us that something good is happening when we know it's not would not be so bad except that they begin to believe it themselves. They say, "We live in wonderful, peaceful, prosperous times" as if it's an incantation, and just saying it makes it so. But like this morning's weird light, it does not reflect the truth. It hearkens back to Hurricane Katrina and the fact that the federal government tried to say that everything was under control in New Orleans when it clearly was not. Michael "heckuva-job-brownie" Brown said as much yesterday on the Today Show, pointing out that in Washington, DC they actually believed everything was ok.

It's the same with the economy, which really did not recover for the majority of Americans, and for the war in Iraq, where we never "turned a corner" and the mission is not accomplished.

The problem is people want to believe the deceptions, because it hurts to face the truth. That does not mean they don't, at some level, know what the truth is. That's why if we want to make a change, it will take more than just exposing the lies that everyone already knows are there (and it doesn't help that most Americans believe that such misstatements are politically bipartisan).

In order to take back our country from those who would drive it into the ground while telling us we are soaring, we have to show we stand for everyone being successful, and we have a plan for it; that we stand for the United States being safe and we have a plan for it; that we are a true global partner for peace, and we have a plan for that.

Only by saying what changes we will make will those changes come to pass. It's not magic; it's commitment, and we must be fully engaged in making it real.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Root Cause

" People understand that there needs to be a cessation of hostilities in order for us to address the root causes of the problem. The intent of the resolution is to make sure that we address the root cause."
-George W. Bush, at a press conference about the Israel-Hezbollah War, Crawford, Texas, August 7, 2006

Decades of conflict aside, what really is the "root cause," Mr. President? Let's look at some facts.

You chose to believe liars like Chalabi, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld and engaged in a failed foreign policy that held on to a narrow-minded belief that democracy is the opiate of the people. Democracy frees neither nations nor individuals. All it does is enable the establishment of a government, and as we know, governments are beholden to no one but themselves. The arrogance of your administration has destroyed years of diplomatic activity that has kept tensions in check. Healthcare is what people want, and food and shelter and gasoline.

This isn't just a butter-or-bombs argument. CNN's Henry Schuster, in a recent article titled "Hezbollah's Secret Weapon," talks about a young girl in Beirut named Zeinab, who, influenced by Hezbollah's community assistance projects, declares," 'I hope that when I be big and grow up, I want to be a doctor for Hezbollah. If someone is hurt, has a hurt in his hand, I will help him '." And, as Schuster points out, "That is Hezbollah's strength."

To millions of poor, hungry Arabs in the Middle East, Hamas and Hezbollah are successful as social welfare organizations, so the people put up with terrorism in their politics.

There's a lesson for you there. By cutting off relations with your so-called "axis of evil" you opened a void that, like Iraq, is being filled by the terrorist organizations. Radical ideologues that call for the destruction of Israel and the United States fill the bellies, hearts and minds of the people you forget are part of the world. A government, no matter how terrible, is still only a small group compared to the populations they govern. Governments change, but the people don't forget who fed them when they were hungry, who healed them when they were sick.

Frankly, I think Israel could do a great deal in the region if they were to provide some social help to their estranged neighbors, if the Arabs would let them.

Maybe if you took care of Americans like that your poll numbers wouldn't be in the toilet and your party wouldn't be so afraid of losing power. All this money to help heal the world, and it seems all you want to do is subdue it. And that's too bad... for all of us.