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Lions and Tigers and Bears. Oh My!

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Wizard: No, I'm afraid it's true. There's no other Wizard except me.
Dorothy: Oh - you're a very bad man!
Wizard: Oh, no, my dear. I - I'm a very good man. I'm just a very bad Wizard.~~
from The Wizard of Oz - 1939

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, most Americans were understandably shaken. But in the months that followed, the reaction to that attack by an incompetent Bush administration and a cowering Congress revealed a crisis in American courage and leadership that has only recently begun to right itself. It was as if someone had pulled back the curtain on our confidence.

Despite finger-pointing that continues to this day, there was little that could have been done to prevent the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. Not everything in the world is predictable. Not everything can be completely controlled. One need only look to the current meltdown taking place among the control freaks in the White House these days as evidence of that.

Nearly seven years after 9/11 America’s true nature has been exposed. Her deep-seated insecurity revealed. The men in dark suits who operate the control levers of power deep within the bowels of our nation’s capitol have been exposed for what they are – not so bright wizards whose game has come undone, at the helm of a sinking ship of state, and clinging desperately to a microphone screaming, “The great and powerful neo-cons have spoken.”

Mired in a foolish war of their own making, universally disliked, politically paralyzed, the facade of righteousness and morality peeling away like old paint to reveal base a rotten inner core. Yet, they cling to hope.

For over half a decade now George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice have, like Dorothy, Scarecrow, and the Tin Man, pointed to unseen things that lurk in the shadows of the American imagination.

“Lions and Tigers and Bears. Oh My!”

Except, instead of the man-eating jungle animals the chant arising from the trio has been terrorists, terrorists, terrorists. They’re everywhere, and nowhere. They hate our freedom. They want to emerge from the caves where they live and envelope us in mushroom clouds. They want our ruby slippers. But a new ululation has begun to usurp the old; Iran, Iran, Iran, it goes.

It is what this gutless group has done best since 9/11 - play upon the insecurity of Americans. Who would have ever imagined that the self-proclaimed greatest nation in the history of the world – the emerald city -- could find danger in so many quarters? that we would attack and invade small and powerless countries, erect walls at our borders, hire mercenary armies to “protect” us, accept the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people who’ve perished at our hands as collateral damage, spy on ourselves, forego trials, assume the guilt of those our secretive agencies say are guilty?

What founding father could have foreseen the day when the citizens of the idealistic new Republic would tolerate the abolishment of Habeas Corpus, the torture of its enemies, the abandonment of its representative government to corporations and special interests, and rely on utter secrecy in its conduct of public affairs?

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them,” Patrick Henry said back in the days when the British government ignored the will or expressed wishes of the governed.

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” wrote Benjamin Franklin.

They would shudder at the timid munchkins we’ve become.

How can it be that that a people who own so many guns, profess such great faith in God, and whose military maintains over 700 permanent bases throughout the world remain so insecure?

Our own Center for Defense Information tells us that the U.S. military budget is more than 37 times as large as the combined spending of the seven "rogue" states (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria). We spend 9-10 times more each year than China or Russia and roughly 100 times more than North Korea and Iran. We are now spending $12 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And now the LA Times writes that the “United States may be deploying nuclear weapons, believed to be aboard some of the ships in the aircraft carrier groups, within 10 miles of Iran's shores."

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Mark McVay has lived and taught school in Oregon, Michigan, California, and Colorado. He is a Vietnam veteran and served in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in South Vietnam in 1969-70. His wife is a retired USMC officer. McVay's writing has (more...)

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