Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bush and Osama - the Terror Twins

I took some time out this past month to enjoy the summer and my family, which now includes a fourteen month old grand-daughter, and wonder of wonders, the world managed to get on without my commenting on it. Not very well, indeed terribly, but it is still here as am I - hanging on by a thread of optimism. The fragile cease fire in Lebanon - much too late - but here at last - gives us some small hope for that embattled country and for Israel, but any optimism one might have had has been dampened by the knowledge that havoc - not peace - is the life blood of Bush and Osama - that wonderful team - one of whom gave us 9/11 - the other the Iraq war. How they need each other and how their policies thrive on chaos and bloodshed - other men's - never their own - is now as obvious as global warming. Every time Osama gives an interview, or plots an Al-Queda attack, Bush prospers in his effort to consolodate his power and destroy the civil liberties of this county by revving up his Rove/Cheney patented fear machine, designed to keep the Republicans in perpetual power and the Democrats on the defensive. Under Bush our autos continue to run on a finite supply of expensive gasoline, but our government runs on an inexhaustable supply of cheap terror. Every time Bush gives an interview, and hints at another war of "democracy" on the Arab world Osama prospers in his efforts to stir up the Jihadists and the insurgency. There can be no doubt that team Bush/Osama work hand in hand without ever communicating - both are theocrats - both are fanatics - both are men who do immeasurable evil in the name of God - needing each other more than they need their allies. With such enemies - who needs friends? Rhetoric can kill, and in the hands of these men, it often does. As we watch the police work in Great Britain, we realize that the way to stop terrorists is not by issuing gung-ho statements, but by careful police work in concert with the international community - something our President has been unable to accomplish.

As a sometimes resident of Connecticut I followed the Lamont/Lieberman race during my hiatus. I was not surprised by the resulting Lamont primary victory. All you had to do was drive through the state to see the great number of Lamont banners on lawns, and the scarcity of Lieberman supporters, but I was a bit surprised by the aftermath. Not by Lieberman picking up the mantra of Cheney that a victory for Lamont was a victory for the terrorists - Joe has shown that there is no blow too low - nothing he will not do to cling to power - the surprise was in the half-hearted endorsement of the Clintons for the democratic victor, Lamont. Bill Clinton may well be the most charming politician since Roscoe Conkling, that 19th century rogue, and Hillary the most dedicated, hard working Senator of any state, ever, but they have failed to grasp the enormity of the Iraq war and what it has done to this country - and this is flat-footed politics that will win her few supporters in her run for the White House and lose him many former admirers.

I recently visited with my nephew, John McNamara at Sloan Kettering. John was one of the firemen who worked for weeks at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11. Later, he volunteered for the cleanup of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. This is a good man, a modest man, an open hearted, generous man, and a real hero. In his late thirties he had no reason to expect the multitude of health problems that beset him in the past year, and he is now under treatment for cancer. He has only lately become an activist for other 9/11 workers who have suffered terrible health problems in the years after the World Trade Center catastrophe. By dismissing the dangers to the police and firemen, both the federal government and the local government did a great disservice to these men and women. Perhaps they didn't know, but they pretended that they did know that there was no great health risk, and these men and women went untested for years following their work on the sites. John and his wife Jennifer are expecting their first child in November. I know that John will get through this ordeal with his grace and courage but it's time the government paid its debt to the people who made the real sacrifices in 9/11 and Katrina.

As we come upon the anniversary of 9/11, one can only wonder at where we might be today if the Supremes had not made the most wretched political decision of our history by giving the Presidency to George Bush - the man who not only ignored the warning signs of the terrorist attack but used that attack and the threat of others to undermine our democracy. It is a dark spot on the reputation of such so called moderates as Sandra Day O'Connor who used the court for partisan political purposes. Did those genuine political conservatives know that they were giving the Presidency to the most radical president in our history? Shame if they did, and shame if they didn't. But it is a shame that covers a lot of territory; the lapdog press and the silent Democractic opposition. With any luck, and a little hope, on this 5th anniversary of 9/11, "the times they are a changin."