2006-05-12 / Columnists

It's My Turn

"Confusion In The Union"
By Don Durant


Although each of us may be law-abiding citizens, and would not consciously involve ourselves in crime of any type, who is to say that we would not be accused of a crime. Many times the laws of our cities are enforced in such a way that even an innocent act can somehow cause trouble for the unaware. That is why the recent circus over the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito is so important. He would be in the critical position for the next forty years to decide, through the strength of his opinion, the rightness or wrongness of laws we are governed by.

His criteria may not always be based strictly on the law, but rather based on intrinsic values provided by his conservative leaning. It is true that he is from New Jersey, but many of those "conservative" judges and politicians formerly wore white robes: example, Robert Byrd and the late Senator Strom Thurmond, who were avowed former members of the KKK, and still others who simply took off the white robes and put on a suit.

It was Senator Byrd and Senator Arlen Spector who were used knowingly by the FBI to call Martin Luther King Jr. a coward in newspapers across the country, for leaving Memphis a week before the assassination. After a young Black man was killed during an unexpected riot, insisting that he go back and stand up as a man for these people he claimed he loved. Chastising him for staying in a white-owned Holiday Inn downtown and not supporting a black owned hotel, such as the Lorraine. At the urging of advisors, Dr. King did just that, and returned to Memphis to rally for the sanitation workers.

The mishandling of the NYC Transit Union; the employee layoffs of 30,000 middle-class workers at Ford Motor Company; layoffs at American Airlines based on pensions and health care costs; and many other horror stories too numerous to mention, show clearly that the middle class is a disappearing breed. In New York alone, the gap has widened between the middle class and higher earners. The president says the economy is bright. Indeed, it is for him, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Connie, and others earning $150,000 and more. The middle class in New York is averaging under $26,000, many on menial labor jobs. There are two economies: one for the rich, who live high on the hog, and one for the "middle class," who live under the belly.

We as people (Americans) inherited this prosperous country from our ancestors, just as Bush inherited it from Clinton. We are established as a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. The deeds that are being done in the name of the people, i.e. eavesdropping on American citizens, initiating wars, excessive spending, and otherwise breaking the law, etc., are being done in their name but not with their knowledge.

The president refuses to allow significant members of his administration to testify before Congress pertaining to Katrina, stating, "If his people are called to testify on advice they gave him they would hesitate giving advice in the future," in the name of the people.

In a recent press conference, the President stood for about 45 minutes fielding questions after a lengthy statement. He spoke on subjects as far-reaching as the Taliban to the all-volunteer army. He reiterated his doctrine laid out after the 9/11 attack: "If you support the terrorists you are the same as the terrorist. Harbor a terrorist and a nation will be taken in to account. You are equally as guilty." He said, "The Taliban was removed because, not only did they harbor terrorists, they stopped women from gaining an education.

If women wanted an education, they would be taken to the public square and whipped. In other words the Taliban would hurt them." He went on to state, "The terrorists are in position to do one thing: to kill men, women and children. Their objective is to kill men, women and children." On the all-volunteer army, "The only way we can keep an all-volunteer army, we must give them good pay, housing benefits, and money incentives." This said even though there is a major shortfall in recruiting numbers of young people signing up for the all-volunteer army. Huge incentives are being paid to re-enlist, which is helping to keep the numbers up with many of the same soldiers returning to Iraq two or even three times. "I saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. He was firing at our planes flying over his country. We called him a state sponsor of terror, because he was sponsoring terror. He had weapons of mass destruction. We had to disarm him.

When I said it I meant it!"

The president continued, "He is removed from power and the world is better off without him...there is a custom of freedom in our country, for people to speak their minds if they don't agree." Implying this missing component in Iraq, "We do what we need to do, that's why Saddam no longer has WMD. I think it's amazing the nation moved out from under a tyrant- and to election. Kind of like the U.S." He said with a grin, "Eleven million voters went to vote in defiance of killers."

A question was raised on how long we would remain in Iraq, "When the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. The Sunnis worry about the rights of the minority. The Saddamists like the power. Al Qaeda says, 'Don't worry, take your time, America will lose its will.' We are making decent progress: we will train police as well as troops in human rights.

You don't have to worry about me," said the president in response to a question complaining about the president not listening to advice from Congress to pull back. "I will be listening to people who know what they are talking about- the commanders on the ground. We are compassionate, every life counts."

The President is concerned that parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire, stating that the Patriot Act is required because Al-Qaeda is still there. The same energy is still there and still threatens to harm the U.S. within its shores. That same Osama that we put on a shelf to go off and fight an unnecessary war in Iraq, and now possibly in Iran and North Korea. We might as well act against the new Palestinian government as well. And then on to Chile, after all we can't have despots causing unrest in our hemisphere. The cost of these wars in people is expendable. The cost in money is negligible, because the economy is supposedly doing so well. The reality is the economy is falling fast, being propped up by the cost of war. It took 42 presidents throughout the history of our nation to reach a budget of one trillion dollars.

During the last five years under Bush, the budget has moved to two trillion dollars (42 presidents in total to arrive at one trillion- one president to arrive at two trillion). He is spending like he has a platinum American Express card. He has no concern for the reality of financial control and this waste of a Congress under the Republicans is just as bad.

There will be a price to be paid by our children. We owe China $250 billion; we owe Caribbean banking interests $150 billion; and our jobs have moved out of the country to overseas markets, (including the auto industry: many Chevrolets are being made in Korea) and the wide gap between the rich and the middle class is preventing the bills from being paid. For the first time since 1933, there is less earning in the country than what is being paid out. Imagine this same principle in your own household; would you lose your home? Would you lose your job? Your children's college fund...there is confusion in the Union!

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