Thursday, February 26, 2004

A Worst Case Scenario

Evidence of what our future would look like after another four years of Total Republican Power can be found all around. It is, I think, a future that looks more like "The Matrix" or "1984" than the world we'd like to leave to the next generation. Words that come to mind are bleak, oppressive, feudal, medieval. I want to try to draw some threads together to weave this potential, dismal tapestry. It's true that the threads I've gathered here are the worst, but they are not unrepresentative.

"Are there not prisons and workhouses?"

BushCo have already promised their staunchest allies that they will make their tax cuts - perversely skewed to the richest Americans - permanent. As if the playing field is not already tilted in their favor, these tax breaks will ensure the widening of the already cavernous gulf between the rich and the rest. Tax cuts, abatements and loopholes for corporations are obscene by any rational measure; and the pandering to business by members of this administration would be embarrassing to any politician (or should be), but considering the complex of connections between corporations and this administration, they are literally obscene.

The results of these economic policies will be the purposeful, willful starving of the federal government of tax revenues. You'll get no Republican to admit it anymore, but their goal is truly to shrink the government and all of its programs, save defense, so that it is, as Grover Norquist opined, "small enough to drown in a bathtub." If you think this is preposterous, you need only listen to Alan Greenspan speak of how best to fix the record-breaking deficits caused by his "master's" tax cuts. He recommends: not repealing the tax cuts, not making current bureaucracies more efficient. No. He recommends cutting future entitlements from Social Security. He wants to finance the government deficit on the backs of poor elderly people.

"Your papers are not in order!"

Already, in an attempt at making Americans think they are serious about "Homeland Security," we have to endure ridiculous searches at airports. Some, identified by some process, are subjected to closer inspection. These typically include old women in wheel chairs, young families with children and professionals in suits. But efforts have been underway by the Department of Homeland Security to develop more intrusive methods of screening airline passengers. Early efforts have been met by howls of protest by passengers and civil libertarians, but make no mistake about it; should BushCo be reelected, CAPPS II or something very much like it will be implemented. Every time you fly, John Ashcroft and his cronies will be looking at your travel history, your credit history, and - if they can get away with it - what books you recently checked out at the library.

I don't have the link as I write this, but recently I read a news item where a man was arrested because he had no identification to show police while he was out in public - and doing nothing illegal. There are no laws against being in public without ID - yet. But you can count on such a thing under four more years of Bush. Something will happen, another terrorist attack, a flood of refugees from some place who's problems we've ignored for too long; and suddenly it will be possible to be accosted on the street, while doing nothing more than walking to work, and be asked for "your papers."

"A witch, a witch! Burn her at the stake!"

"Defense of Marriage Act." A constitutional amendment defining marriage as between heterosexuals only. "Faith-based" charities. The Ten Commandments in government buildings. "The Southern Strategy." Bob Jones University. "We are a Christian nation..."

Bush promised to be a uniter, not a divider during his 2000 campaign. Since then he has proven to be exactly the opposite. Although ignored for much of his first term, Shrubby has decided that he needs - as he did in 2000 - to whip up the passions of the far right to procure their votes. So now we have the specter of this ignorant, small minded man attempting to get his bigotry codified in one of the noblest documents ever to be written. Regardless of what they say, the Joint Resolution, as written, will make it not only illegal for gays to be legally considered married, but it will make civil unions or other legal "work-arounds" illegal as well. Don't listen to the rhetoric from the right; read the resolution carefully: civil unions will be illegal as well.

Republicans and the religious right want to be the first group in our history to build bigotry and hatred into our Constitution. And they will not stop there. More and more, religion will creep into everyday government. Already listening to Bush speak is like listening to some southern preacher; his speeches are littered with references and allusions to religion. Many are like code words, with one meaning to most and another, often completely opposite meaning, to those "in the know." There is an inherent hatred of "the other" in all of their rhetoric. Reelecting Bush will ensure four more years of them chipping away at abortion rights, at public education, at affirmative action, at anything that would seek to empower those that have been discriminated against.

"...Have dominion over the world..."

Is there a law, program or department dealing with environmental concerns or protections that BushCo and their oil industry cronies have not weakened, subverted or underfunded? They stack scientific review committees with people employed by industries that the committees are likely to review, they ignore consensus science on the environment on peaking oil production, on stem cell research, on birth control and on abortion. Their co-conspirators, the religious right, are intent on subverting public education, making it either impotent or bending it to their sectarian teachings.

Everything that they touch - like Midas in a Tim Burton version of the story - turns to soot. "Healthy Forests" means logging and clear-cutting. "Clear Skies" means allowing corporations to increase the amount of pollutants in the air. Nothing anyone from this administration says on environmental concerns can be taken at face value. You will more often be correct if you take the exact opposite of their slogans to be true. This past week, in fact, the entire administration is completely and actively ignoring a Defense Department study and recommendation on the catastrophic national security effects of global warming and attendant climactic changes.

"Cry, 'havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war!"

If you are at all current in reading about the "power behind the throne" that is the Neo-conservative movement in the Republican party, you know that one of the key tenets of their philosophy is that not only is the US the world's policeman (going completely against decades of Republican sentiment), but that it is our "destiny" to spread a pax Americana around the world by military means.

Afghanistan, in the wake of 9-11 was very likely a necessary war; although the more likely suspects were in Pakistan and most of the highjackers were from Saudi Arabia. Still, there was evidence that the Taliban were involved. The justification for the invasion of Iraq was a complete fabrication and our military is bogged down in a costly and deadly quagmire. But the neo-cons are not satisfied; Iran is in their sights. Syria is likely on their list as well - if not directly then through regional proxies. Because the military is proving too lean to fight all of these neo-imperial wars, I would fully expect a second term Bush to revive the draft.

Four more years of BushCo will likely mean four more years of war in some fashion. And this despite the fact that Iraq is proving daily that their reach exceeds their grasp.

"Bleak despair..."

I'm no soothsayer; I don't know for certain what the Ides of March will bring. I can't say with any certainty that if Bush is reelected that any of what I've described will happen. But in this case I do believe that "past performance does predict future performance."

Hopefully, in four years we will be looking back on aWol's one term as a thankfully failed experiment, while we work to reelect a Democratic president to his second term. Or we can look back with regret at having not worked hard enough to defeat Bush and his corporate cronies, mourning the loss of our youngest generation to endless wars, regretting the rollback of civil liberties and decrying the loss of our freedom to travel.

Preventing even the possibility of the dark, bleak future that lies at the end of the neo-con path is up to all of us.


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