November 19th, 2001

Column 31

It has been some time since I last wrote. There are a few reasons for not writing sooner. The main reason is that I wanted to wait and see what the ‘Bush Gang’ would do in the first few months of his Presidency. I have expected the worst and haven’t been disappointed. After the two Federal executions last June, I was struck by the fact that wherever Bush goes, people end up being killed under his watch. It is a curious thing and I have to wonder why that would be, but I haven’t figured it out. Maybe you have some ideas on that. I was amused by a comment someone made after seeing Bush on the news. Bush was on his ‘Ranch’ in Texas and wearing a 10-gallon cowboy hat and strutting around with his little chest all puffed out like a tough guy. This guy says it is interesting how Bush could wear a 10-gallon hat on a 5-gallon head. Well, that doesn’t have anything to do with what I wanted to talk about, but it was amusing so I thought I would share it with you.

I do want to talk about Bush. We all know about the terrible events of September 11th, but what Bush his gang has been doing since then is very disturbing. Within days of this tragedy, Bush was already trying to use this tragedy as an excuse to take away the Civil Rights that serve to protect us. Whenever Politicians or people in authority want to take away your rights in order to protect you, you had better sit up and pay close attention to what they are doing. They claim these will be temporary measures and once the crisis has blown over, things will return to normal. That is not the way it works. Once the government makes changes (temporarily) the changes have a way of becoming permanent and when the Politicians and authorities say they want to take away something in order to protect you, you better start asking yourself who will protect you from them.

One of the things they are trying to do is make it easier for government agencies to spy on people. Things like tapping phones without a warrant, going into your e-mail to see what is there. Holding a Military Trial for those who ‘harbor terrorists’, that is probably the scariest one and it should make you very concerned. This harmless and reasonable sounding proposal would allow the Government to arrest ANY person and hold a Military Trial to determine their guilt. In a Military Trial, the person on trial is not allowed to cross exam witnesses. They are limited in being able to see the evidence against them and once you are convicted there is no appeal of the sentence. If you are convicted, you could be given a Death Sentence.

If you aren’t concerned yet, try this scenario. Let’s say you have a friend who is from Afghanistan. You hang out with them and socialize. Nothing remarkable. But let’s say the Government decides this friend of yours is a terrorist, so they arrest that person and put them through a Military Trial and convict them (remember they don’t have to show any evidence). After your friend is convicted, the authorities decide to have a look at all the people this person associated with. Your name pops up as being a friend, so the authorities can also arrest you and put you through a Military Trial. Of course, this is an extreme example, but as we have seen over the last 20+ years, the authorities go to extremes because of ambitious prosecutors or because of incompetence. So it isn’t really that far fetched of a scenario and the potential for abuse is very real.

Another concern is how the Bush Government seems to be using the tragedies as a way to take away the rights of others who face the legal system. They seem to be trying to whittle away at the protections in all legal cases. Of course they are trying to tie this into the so-called war on terrorism. It seems very cynical to me that they use something like this to try and push through things that the American people would never put up with if they weren’t so scared.

Another thing about this ‘war on terrorism’ that bothers me a lot is that since the 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon, the USA has been aware of the Terrorists targeting America. These attacks continued on through the 1990’s when Clinton was President. There was the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. There was the bombing of the military base in Saudi Arabia. There were the two bombings of the US Embassies in East Africa. There was the attack on the US Navy ship COLE. There were also other incidents that happened through the ‘90’s. Instead of the Politicians and News Media focusing their attention on trying to resolve these problems, all they cared about was Clinton’s sex life. The Republicans had the focus of America on Clinton and Monica, instead of trying to stop these terrorist acts which were becoming more frequent and devastating. So it is interesting to see how, after the September 11th attacks, you don’t hear the Republicans or News Media talking about how they dropped the ball. They were negligent and didn’t do anything to solve these problems when they could have done so. Instead they obsessed on Clinton’s sex life. Now they are saying they have to fight this terrorism problem to make the world safe. It seems very disingenuous to me.

Of concern to me now is how it seems the American people have forgotten about the Death Penalty issue after the events of September 11th. I have been watching very closely to see if the mainstream media would continue to discuss the cases where innocent people on death row have been exonerated. I haven’t seen one story regarding that. I seriously doubt if suddenly there are no more innocent people on death row after September 11th. Well, there are still innocent people on death row and it seems that has taken a backseat now.

Don’t take this the wrong way, I know Bush isn’t glad that all these innocent people were killed in the September 11th tragedies. I am not implying that for one second, but you have to admit that these tragedies helped Bush enormously. Suddenly no one is talking about how Bush stole the election (in the final count Gore won by a handful of votes of ALL ballots in Florida). There is no discussion about the death penalty now. There aren’t any discussions about a woman’s right to chose. No discussion about stem cell research. No discussion about Health Care. The discussion about how the economy has gone downhill since Bush became President is not on the news that much. It seems that all the attention is on what is happening in Afghanistan. Maybe Bush can stretch this whole thing out until the next election so he can get another 4 years in office.

That is all I have to say for this one. I will be back to write some more a lot sooner than it took me for this one. I hope you will pay attention to what the Government is trying to do to ‘keep you safe’. It is VERY serious.