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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/21/09

Tea Parties, Taxes and Torture Served

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Message Betsy L. Angert
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I am a discontent and distressed taxpayer! "Disgruntled" is a word that might describe my deep dissatisfaction with how my tax dollars are spent. Yet, on April 15, 2009, typically thought of as "Tax Day," I felt no need to join my fellow citizens in protest. I did not attend a "Tea Party". I too believe, in this country, "taxation without representation" is a problem. One only need ponder the profits of lobbyists to understand the premise. Corporate supplicants amass a 22,000 percent rate of return on their investments. The average American is happy to realize a two-digit increase. Nonetheless, as much as I too may argue the point, assessments are paid without accountability, what concerns me more is my duty dollars did not support what I think are ethical projects.

 My cash funded the unconscionable and the President stated "nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." Had outrage for criminal intent and actions been voiced, I too might have rallied round bays and buildings with buckets of brewed leaves in hand. Yet, it seemed amongst the tea teetotalers, no one was incensed by the illegal, and what I believe to be immoral practices.

Tea Tossed

The "Teatime" participants I heard did not mention the myriad of misery Americans inflicted on adversaries. Fury for the previous Administration's torturous policies did not appear in the papers, or, at least, I did not read these statements. Talk of the recently released memorandums (pdf) did not evoke much discussion. The current crop of "grassroots" demonstrators spoke of how the Obama budget might burden their personal lives. Angry activists vocalized a preference not to pay levees. Few, if any, reflected on the benefits received. While our grievances may differ, we share a conviction. I too am troubled by what the Obama Administration, which I helped to elect, thinks correct.

Taxes Paid

However, unlike the anxious Americans who voiced their dissent for levees paid, I am happy to give my tax dollars to the government. For me, funds that help supply public services are vital. I welcome the opportunity to better ensure there will be police, firemen, and women. I take comfort in the knowledge children and adults may use libraries to peruse quality books. I embrace legislation intended to better instruction. In my life the importance of education cannot be understated. Bridges built and maintained, roads paved, traffic signs and signals, functional sanitary sewer systems, and diseases controlled and prevented . . . As a concerned citizen, I am glad I can contribute to these ventures. I object to what I think unlawful and debauched.

I cannot condone interrogations authorized and acted upon, in my name. My angst is exacerbated by the current Administration assertion; these crimes are not punishable by law. Those who tortured only did as was commanded. At the time, the Department of Justice declares, "superiors" stated such harsh techniques were legal.

Torture Tolerated

What I would call cruel and unusual punishment, the prior President, his Vice, and Cabinet thought proper. Each Executive stated these torturous measures were necessary to protect Americans. The people heard proclamations that what "we" did was justified. It was effective.

Only months ago, Vice President Dick Cheney explained; "The professionals involved in that [so-called torture] program were very, very cautious, very careful -- wouldn't do anything without making certain it was authorized and that it was legal. . . (I)t's been a remarkably successful effort. . . . I think those who allege that we've been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the terrorist surveillance program, simply don't know what they're talking about." (Memos aside. Please peruse Torture Memorandums. )

Dick Cheney and his compatriots seem to distinguish between citizens of this country and those who might be identified as "foreigners." To further elucidate the spokesperson for the Bush White House stated; "These are not American citizens. They are not subject, nor do they have the same rights that an American citizen does vis-à-vis the government."

The newer Administration may concur; civil rights afforded to our countrymen may not be offered to individuals classified as combatants. While I disagree with that contention, I do believe as the Obama White House does. International Law states, all living creatures have an inalienable right to be treated humanely. Thankfully, President Obama and his Cabinet condemn tortuous practices. Yet, the current Administration announced there is no need to prosecute. Mister Obama affirmed, "(A)t a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."

I must ask; does this declaration ensure history will be repeated? Individuals such as I accept that tribunals will not transform what was. Punishment may not convince those who engaged in criminal behaviors to change. I seek no retribution. Yet, I do think there is a need to prosecute the culpable. Humanitarian principles lead taxpayers such as I to declare, torture, by any definition cannot be tolerated. As a society, we have seen how people are easily numbed by what peers think, say, and do. Studies show the prevalence of video violence has an influence on what we later think is acceptable. In America, ideally, not ideologically, we understand profound principles unite us.

The greater good, the commonweal, take precedence over individualism. As is inscribed in the Preamble of the Constitution "in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish" in this country, we care. Our fellow citizens, and future generations matter to us. Perhaps this profundity explains why concerned citizens, those who happily contribute to tolls are distressed by the Obama Administration's declaration, there will be no prosecution.

Persons such as I, who are troubled by torture, understand the past permeates the present and will be the future, if what is worrisome is avoided, accepted, or is left unattended. We, the peaceful people who are proud to pay levees of love, are not comforted by an act of contrition. Nor does the knowledge that President Obama released the memorandums as required by law reassure us. If intentionally inflicted physical and psychological harm can be characterized as just, and some

Conservatives, such as the former Vice President, Dick Cheney, thinks it does, then it makes sense to tax payers who supported the previous President to sanction the acts outlined in recently released memorandums as sound. Many Conservatives share this sentiment, although not all. Lest we forget former Presidential candidate John McCain's succinct statement on one the techniques the Bush Administration authorized. "They should know what it [waterboarding] is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture."

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I am an Educator, a student of life; I am an Author. On each path I learn from you and with you. Indeed. we all teach and study. Together we advance awareness and acumen. We learn, grow, and glow greater. Please peruse my prose at and (more...)
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