Heavy-hearted, Deeply troubled

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2003-04-30

I sent much of the following, in a letter, to the Democratic senator in our state, Illinois, Senator Durbin, but I think many of the same points could and should be made known to each and every elected Democrat, and also each and every candidate for president in the Democratic primary. So I addressed it to any universal senator. So, here goes my rant:

Dear Senator, I represent a group of loyal Democrats who are retired or semi-retired. We happen to live in Highland Park, Illinois, but we share a common feeling expressed among many many Democrats throughout the country that the Democratic party (with a few notable exceptions) has abdicated its legislative responsibilities in the face of the escalating right-wing onslaught of the Bush administration.

Most elected Democrats, it seems, now perform their role as "managers" rather than as reformers; rather than using their public platforms to attempt to function as a brake against the purposes of the administration (which, as noted by the economist William Greider, has as its goal the "rolling back of the 20th century, quite literally") they instead only want to manage the fallout of the social deterioration that will follow -- because they don't want to be branded with the demonic label by the Republicans as "liberal."

Senator, we are heavy-hearted, deeply troubled. We feel that a real crisis has befallen our beloved country. Foremost in our minds (to pick a random starting point) our government's frenzied violation of the principles of the UN Charter -- to which the United States has been a signatory for over 50 years -- second in enormity only to the military campaign itself where, with the whole world watching we sent 2000-ton missiles, fragmentation and cluster bombs, and tons of depleted uranium artillery into the middle of populated cities against an impoverished adversary with a Potemkin village army where the outcome was never in doubt.

As reported by British print journalists, the powerful munitions used by American and British forces probably left thousands of civilians pulverized, burned or buried in rubble, not to speak of the unknown number of wounded brought to the charnel-house hospitals, wounded women and children too numerous to even be counted by the hospital doctors attempting hopeless surgeries, many with little or no anesthetics or antibiotics. (The insidious effects of the long-lasting depleted uranium on the population involved, not to speak of on the combatants on both sides is not even a subject worthy of our government's concern.)

Senator, many loyal Democrats agree that not since the Vietnam war have we seen such open deception about the purposes and also the methods of US foreign policy orchestrated by the government and the media. Senator, this historic NEW foreign policy of preemptive, "preventive" war was NEVER voted on by the American people, a policy which unless repudiated at some time by our Congress, consigns the noble Charter of the United Nations to the dustbin of history.

Senator, we ask you to please consider what we are saying. We cannot emphasize strongly enough that we feel that it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the elected Democrats to speak out and educate the electorate about the moral and economic realities of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld agenda.

Senator, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe has instructed the Democratic presidential candidates not to make the war an issue in the upcoming election.

This notion of self-censorship shows an abject failure of responsibility, and if he really believes that it is a good idea, it shows an utter lack of understanding of the democratic process.

As Senator Byrd said in a recent speech in the floor of the senate, ..."A pall has fallen over the Senate chamber...We avoid our solemn duty to debate the one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while scores of our sons and daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq."

Senator, as one stout-hearted columnist said, by what logic is the war that millions thought unjustified and immoral even before it occurred now made justified and moral by the fact that it occurred? Indeed. And what could possibly justify suppressing the discussion of that war's legitimacy -- especially in light of the rumbling threats by the administration of more of the same to come, maybe in a year, maybe in two years?

We hope and pray you will not be persuaded by the McAuliffe doctrine.

There is a moral imperative that the implications of the administration's agenda be put before the American people and challenged, in forthright open discussion -- because its policies seem to the world to be utterly devoid of any sense of proportionality or justice.

And the American public also needs to know if they "got their money's worth" out of this new adventure, which is reported to cost US taxpayers at least $200 billion in war expenses alone. The rest of the costs are not given to us. We can assume there is not a "need to know" by anyone except the inner circles of the government, the Pentagon, and the Defense Policy Board whose members pushed the attack policy, and are now set to make billions directly out of it in their defense and reconstruction contracts.

Senator, the odious conflicts of interest -- the open, massive government corruption -- is a better way of putting it -- is widespread. The corporate and political elites in the administration form a regime of their own. It's almost as if the government has been privatized, as one wag observed. Anyone who takes notice can see it, and observing it engenders a feeling of deep cynicism on the part of the electorate. (Any reason to wonder why so few people in our country bother to vote?)

The tax cuts and the rewards flow consistently, in reality, in one direction, up to the wealthy. Social benefits, services to the poor, the middle class, societal groups like children, the aged, the uninsured are slated to be cut, privatized, or ended. Massive cuts to important parts of the discretionary budget including the environment, health care, education, and even veterans benefits are being given the ax to make way for the massive tax cut to the wealthy -- and to the huge yearly increases for the continually unsatisfied Pentagon budget.

And speaking of the federal budget, most of the American public does not realize that the amount of funds allocated for the Pentagon is upwards of 56 percent of the discretionary budget (!) -- latest number given is around $400 billion -- that's each and every year. Seeing a pie chart of all expenditures is very graphic. EVERYTHING ELSE gets a relatively tiny slice of the pie. (Pie charts are very dramatic tools.)

Senator, another very worrisome issue is the administration's Patriot Act, version no.1 (and no.2 in the wings) which directly tread upon several articles of the Bill of Rights and indeed, the Constitution. Another "anti-terror" bill (Kyl-Shumer) would also further restrict court or judicial supervision of police powers. (Does it seem an exaggeration to compare our country's situation to that of Germany circa 1932?)

Senator, we are sure you are aware of all that I have complained about.

Our point is that the public is not. And by and large this is because they are bewildered, kept in a state of orchestrated fear and insecurity -- because the don't hear a moral challenge and an honest discussion of the issues from their elected representatives, from the Democrats -- the OPPOSITION party.

Senator, concerning our deepest fears about the sorry state of our country's government we can only appeal to our chosen representatives. We appeal to you to speak out, to use your public platform, your pulpit, as it were, to CHALLENGE and to inform and to question openly in every public and private venue available, to demand HONEST answers of the administration, and to lift the level of public discussion, to enlighten the public -- about the misuse of their country and the abuse of its finest traditions. The sanity, the very future of the world probably depend on it.