On the day before Thanksgiving, President George W. Bush officially pardoned two turkeys, guaranteeing that they would be allowed to live out their days in safety and security, unharmed even by FBI, CIA or the Department of Homeland Security. In America today, turkeys have more rights than U.S. citizens do.
I wonder how many Americans thought of alleged terrorist Jose Padilla this Thanksgiving Day. Padilla, arrested at O’Hare Airport in Chicago in May of 2002, still has not been tried in late November, 2006. Speedy trial? Oh, that is so-o-o-o 20th Century, so pre-9/11!
Neither the lobotomized Republicans of the Bush-Cheney stripe nor the non-vertebrae, windsurfing San Francisco Democrats really give a hoot, either about Padilla or the principles at stake in his continued imprisonment. But doggone it, that ol’ Dubya sure does one heck of a job o’ pardonin’ them turkeys, now, don’t he, boys?
As Chief Justice of the United States Roger Taney reminded semi-honest Abe during the Civil War, the Constitution of the United States does not give the executive branch any authority to suspend the "privilege of Habeas Corpus." That power is granted to the legislative branch, the Congress of the United States, only in times of emergency. With the Bush administration effectively declaring a state of emergency in effect until the end of the "war on terror," lasting at least generations, if not forever, the Congress of the United States has passed a Military Commission Act and put that tribunal’s procedures and rulings beyond the review of the federal courts. It is one of the greatest hijackings of liberty in the history of this or any other republic, so the American people, naturally, shrugged, yawned and went back to watching "Dancing with the Stars."
Americans claim to believe in the principle of "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." So I guess if your wife, your child, your mother, father, brother sister were to be apprehended anywhere in the United States and detained indefinitely and without charges or trial in a military prison somewhere, either here or abroad, as an "enemy combatant," your duty as an American would be to shrug your shoulders, say "Well, we’re in a time of war," as you tune in Sunday Night, Monday Night or Thursday Night Football. And the consolation lies in knowing that they would do the same for you. It’s the Brotherhood Of Servile Sheep, or BOSS, man!
Is this a nation of sheep? Or is that a slander on our four-footed, wooly friends? They have not been given the brains to think with. We have, but we prefer not to exercise them. Why think when you have the alternative of looking at the world with your two-party blinders in place? There is no need to think when you can vote either Republican or Democrat. You can choose what you hope is the "lesser of two evils" or you can go "eenie, meenie, minie moe." Why waste time looking for an independent or third-party candidate who stands for something credible? Why think at all?
The irony is that the public swallows it at all. Oh, sure, Bush’s approval rating is below 50 percent, but it ought to be below zero. And even the majority that no longer has confidence in his handling of the war in Iraq appears not to have troubled itself too much in wondering why it ever had such confidence in the first place. Worse, the search for a solution seems to begin and end with voting in the other party — Clueless Crowd B.
We must not "cut and run," we are told ad nauseum. But Washington’s movers and shakers are marvelously flexible. One day Henry Kissinger announces that the only credible "exit strategy" for the United States in Iraq is victory. (No kidding? You must have learned that in Vietnam, right, Hank?) A few days later, Dr. K tells us victory in Iraq is impossible. By those statements — ipso fatso, as Archie Bunker used to say — Kissinger seems to be saying that exiting Iraq is impossible. We appear to have a presence in war-torn Iraq the way we once had the Panama Canal — in perpetuity.
No wonder Bush, Cheney et al. resent the comparison to Vietnam. Vietnam, the big war they were eligible to serve in, was the last war they wanted to stay out of. But imagine Bush, while promising to "rid the world of tyranny," being unable to get America out of Iraq.
Ronald Reagan used that same "can’t cut and run" rhetoric about our military presence in Lebanon in 1983. Two days after issuing such a statement, he announced that Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger would be coming forth with a plan to "redeploy offshore." If that was good enough for Ronald Reagan, it ought to be good enough for this Republican administration.
And the Democrats should hearken to the wisdom of the late Vermont Senator George Aiken, who declared in the late 1960’s that the way to extricate ourselves from the quagmire in Vietnam was to "Declare victory and come home!"
Or, as the banner behind George Bush triumphantly declared three and a half years and more than 3,000 American deaths ago, "Mission Accomplished."
Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.