There are three words that strike fear into the hearts of modern-day politicians. They are not obscene or distasteful to any ethnic group, but saying any one of them in the context of the day's news will cause an instant and infectious breathing spasm on the part of any of all the bought-and-paid-for pros of either party. Like the Lord's Prayer to a ghost, a cross to Dracula, or a silver bullet to a werewolf, any of them will empty a political caucus room in ten seconds flat.
The first word is RATIONING.
Speak it and watch the pols scatter like roaches! We may sweat and fear while they maneuver to find ways to keep us content while the oil companies pick our pockets, but you will never hear the word in our time. Oldsters among you may recall that the Iran conflict first arose not during the Carter administration but in that of Richard Millhouse Nixon. When the walls of Watergate started caving in around him, he had already ordered the govenment printing office to prepare ration books in response to the gas "shortage" which plagued us for years. After Nixon's impeachment, the plan was dropped by Gerald Ford, but the threat alone was enough to put the problem on the back burner for a while. Once Reagan took office, OPEC was back in the driver's seat and prices began to rise sharply.
I am not saying that John Q. Public would be thrilled with the idea but it would not take long until crude oil prices begin to spiral. It would not really be necessary to actually DO it, just the threat would take the steam out of OPEC's sails and cause a sense of cooperation to bloom forth. If, instead of cajoling us to conserve, drive less, and bear the burden, just one proposal by a member of Congress or a whiff of a suggestion by anyone in the administration would cause OPEC's attention to sharpen like the tread of the principal outside a classroom door. But it will not happen because too many of the "blind trusts" probably contain oil company stocks and too many Congressmen have an offer for a job as a lobbyist in their back pocket, just in case they lose an election.
The second word is IMPEACHMENT.
Nancy Pelosi says this word is "not on the table." Lord knows there are plenty of grounds to impeach both Bush and Cheney but, although a majority of the people would support it, only few in Congress have the guts to advocate for it. Their reasons are vague and unformed. "It would be bad for the country," "it would interfere with our concentration on other problems," and "there isn't time to ram it through before their term is up anyway." A cynic would suggest that the real reason nobody wants it to happen is because they hope to be in a position of power and they simply wouldn't want it to happen to them as they claw their own way to the top.
President George W. Bush and his vice-President, Richard Cheney, have scoffed at the laws of our nation and, in opposition to our Constitution, have gathered to themselves powers that no other President has ever claimed to have and that we certainly do not want any future President to presume to possess. The only way to demonstrate to these men and to any future office-holder that this behavior is intolerable is to impeach both of them before their term ends and to remove them from office prematurely. If we do not, they will have established a precedent that will allow any future President with imperial ambitions to become an actual dictator at will and will greatly imperil the rights and freedoms set forth in our Constitution.
The third word is DRAFT.
This is the most deadly word of all, which simply "must" remain unspoken. For DRAFT to be even breathed in the Halls of Congress would create such an uproar throughout the land and cause the speaker to be sent to the dungeons. We all know that it was more than foolhardy when, against the advice of the ground commanders, we invaded Iraq with less than half the force which we used just to push Iraq back out of Kuwait. Later Mr Rumsfeld would say that we "go to war with the Army we have, not the Army we might wish we had or the Army we might have someday." However, there was not an all-out effort to increase our military numbers other than to secretly hire international mercenaries in equal numbers at a cost greatly in excess of the amounts necessary to increase, through a draft, the numbers of our own forces.
Meanwhile, our National Guard, our so-called "second line of defense," those men of the community charged with responsibility to protect American civilians, are being ground into the desert sands in interminable service while the "homeland" drowns, burns, or blows away in the absence of our traditional rescuers. While the Guard families are torn apart by the extended absences, constant fear, and numbing deprivation, other young men blithely enjoy their college years without a care in the world as the President enjoins us to "go on with our lives and go shopping." (Does he really believe that we have nothing else to do?) If the cowboys and oil men who presently inhabit the White House really believe that we are in a world-wide War Against Terrorism, they should demonstrate the courage of their convictions by telling the American people the truth and build a large enough force to accomplish the task.
At the start of World War II, we had practically no Army and, after Pearl Harber, no Navy at all. But, with the institution of the draft we soon had a military that could defeat both Germany and Japan. And we did in less time than we have spent in Iraq! Yet when asked what the citizenry could do to supprt the troops Our Fearless Leader urged us to "go shopping and live your lives as usual." We watched as the military was supplemented by the National Guard, made up of people who had either served their military obligation or viewed this enlistment as the acquisition of a second job. Instead, they have lost their lives, their arms, their legs, and their sanity in the filth of the battlefield by "indefinite detention" and rotated back again and again until they come home either in a body bag or on a stretcher.
I have grandchildren whom I do not want to see go to war. But if a war is worth fighting, it is worth fighting right. That would mean going in with adequate force, overwhelming the enemy, establishing order quickly, and getting it settled so that our men and women can come home where they belong. Meanwhile, our National Guard will be available to handle disasters on the home front as they were designed to do.
It is easy to blame George Bush & Company but Congress must share the blame. If they really believe that we are engaged in a war of world-wide scope, they should inform the President that they are going to institute a draft so that we will have personnel to replace those who are worn out by year after year of unwinnable war in intolerable conditions. The Democratic Governors should order their National Guard troops home where they are sorely needed.
In each threat of exhorbitant gasoline prices, the R word should roar throught the halls and committee rooms of Congress, the I word should be back "on the table," and the D word should be used if the troops are not ordered and enabled to either win or come home.
And, if we have to RID ourselves of the President and quite a few oblivious Congressional representatives, so be it. The American people are demanding action. They want an either/or decision and they want it now. The only comment I can think of as a message to Congress comes from the old Bowery Boys movies, "Hit 'em, ya bum! You got the wind wid ya!"
Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan, a free-thinker, and a warrior for truth and justice. Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to email@example.com