I watched with confusion as Nancy Pelosi bowed in front of the Dalai Lama. It was a great photo op for our erstwhile Speaker, but I confess that I have no idea what she was doing in India. Several days later I heard that Pelosi said that President Bush should consider boycotting the opening ceremonies to send China a message about their oppression of Tibet. It’s not that I think that the Dalai Lama and his followers do not deserve our support. As a practicing Buddhist, what is going on in Tibet is extremely painful to watch and read about. It’s just that I don’t think we hold the moral compass anymore, and I firmly believe we should clean up our own house before we tell others to clean up theirs. We have no business boycotting the Olympics.
Not until we stop torturing
There is evidence that the authorization for torture came from someone very close to the top. Could it have come from the President himself? Given Bush’s blatant disregard for the law and his willingness to compromise America’s value system, I certainly think it’s a possibility. The recently declassified John Yoo memo clearly shows that either Bush or someone in his employ wanted to see how far he could go when it comes to fighting terrorism. The Department of Justice apparently thought he could go pretty far.
The memo gives President Bush carte blanche to run roughshod over the Constitution. It states that he has unlimited powers to order brutal interrogations. If that isn’t enough, the memo also states that he can bypass the Fourth Amendment (which protects against unreasonable search and seizures) and the Fifth Amendment (which covers the central due process guarantee). Basically the DOJ would have us believe that our imperial president can operate outside the limits of the law.
We are now in the eighth year of President Bush’s reign. Is there still any question about whether or not he took office with the intention of expanding his executive powers? That has been the intention of the Bush-Cheney tag team almost from the day they assumed power. Let’s stop ignoring the obvious. Our rights are eroding right in front of our eyes and we’re sitting back with the proverbial ‘deer in the headlight’ look. Yes, Virginia, it’s happening.
The declassification of these memos proves one thing. There was intent on our government’s part to employ torture techniques during interrogation of detainees. What happened at Abu Ghraib was systemic, not the result of some underlings running amok as our elected leaders would have us believe. It just happened to leak out so someone had to take the fall. We know there are violations at Guantanamo. It must be closed. It is also a matter of public record that we are using “extraordinary rendition” with detainees, shipping them off to foreign countries where we know torture is practiced.
Not until we stop funding the illegal war in Iraq
President Bush authorized the invasion of a sovereign nation under false pretenses. In plain English, he lied and so did those serving him. Even Colin Powell’s participation in the lying dispelled any notion that he might have had a shred of integrity in an otherwise shameless administration. In April, Bush will ask Congress for an additional $107 billion to continue on with this endless, destructive war.
The estimates of Iraqi dead are staggering, perhaps as high as 1 million. It is reported that 2 million have been displaced to neighboring countries. The so-called “rebuilding” of Iraq that America has sunk millions of dollars into is a disgrace. Contractors have taken advantage of the bloated war trough and have raised structures that are either sub-standard or uninhabitable. We contract with Blackwater USA, a civilian freelance mercenary army, to fight on our behalf and they kill innocent civilians in our name. We rewarded Blackwater just recently by extending its contract in spite of the fact that there is an ongoing investigation.
Let us not forget that President Bush lied and led our soldiers into a war with no justification. We were never in any danger from Saddam Hussein or Iraq. At my last count, we had lost 4, 013 American soldiers in Iraq. More than 40,000 have been injured either physically or psychologically as a result of serving in Iraq.
Someone is benefiting from our presence in Iraq, but it is not the Iraqi people and it is not our own soldiers. It is the vast military-industrial complex with its long tentacles weaving its way through Washington. Congress must stand up to the President and vote to cut the funding for this war.
Not until we hold our own leaders accountable
On March 21, Nancy Pelosi visited the Dalai Lama and stated that if freedom-loving people did not speak out against China’s oppression in Tibet, “we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world.” Speaker Pelosi is wrong about that.
The United States lost all moral authority when its leaders lied to Congress and the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq and violated the terms of the Geneva Convention by holding prisoners without access to legal representation and by employing torture during interrogations. Speaker Pelosi herself, who took impeachment off the table from the minute she assumed leadership, has further compromised our position as a beacon of Democracy.
If Richard Nixon (illegal wiretapping and resulting cover-up) and Bill Clinton (illicit affair and lying to a grand jury) both passed the litmus test for impeachment, it’s certain that both George Bush and Dick Cheney have passed with flying colors. They have committed several impeachable offenses, like illegal wiretapping, lying to Congress and the American people, violating the articles of the Geneva convention, and invading a sovereign nation under false pretenses. It strikes me as hypocritical that we should be calling China’s leadership to the whipping post when we simply refuse to hold our own leaders accountable for their actions. It is not different because it is America. It is just as despicable.
Should we boycott the opening ceremonies, the United States will almost certainly be conspicuous by its absence. The mainstream media will, of course, turn it into a grand gesture in the name of democracy and the American public could well buy into that propaganda. For the rest of the world, that message will be lost in translation.