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The American Choice: Freedom or Fear?

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Since this President has been in office, we have seen this county slide through crisis after crisis. Each crisis brings with it, another chance for the Bush administration to redeem itself in the eyes of American citizens, and also in the eyes of the world. The laws of probability say that with just blind luck he could pull off a victory or two, but even luck can't seem to help Bush and Company save themselves from their own stupidity and recklessness.

This nation has always considered itself a nation founded on the principle of law and rights for the common man. We have managed, as a people, to put up with administrations that have tested our commitment to those principles in the last 260 years. Not once have we replaced a President that overstepped his authority by the use of force, except by assassination that most believe was not government sponsored. We have never had a President replaced, other than Richard Nixon, in any way but an election. Richard Nixon resigned, rather than face a jail sentence for high crimes and misdemeanors. He didn't face a revolution. It was all done by rule of law. We have been a very fortunate nation, to have a record like that; a record that all Americans should be extremely proud of.

We are a respectful, patient and prudent people. We know how to change our nation's political direction without force. It is done through the ballot. This is the inherent greatness of our system. Many nations rely on revolution and coups to replace administrations and direction. There are many countries in the world today that have followed our lead. In some countries, they have a no-confidence vote they can use to remove leaders that no longer inspire their people. In our representative democracy, we must wait for an election. A no-confidence option looks very appealing right now, but that would mean changing tradition, and many Americans don't like to change our nation's traditions, especially after they have served us so well for the better part of three centuries.

The idea of changing our institutions and breaking with tradition doesn't seem to bother this administration however. I always thought that conservative's were traditional people and that change was not one of their stronger suits. I have heard the rhetoric of this President when he describes himself as a "compassionate conservative". It seems to me, that not only does this man not shy away from change, he doesn't worry about compassion getting in the way either. This man is full of surprises

It surprises me that a conservative would want to do away with the very benchmark of law created in 1215. That is 891 years of tradition. That was the year the Magna Charta was signed..This President, deciding to do away with the writ of "habeas corpus" as pertains to the so-called "terrorists". In doing so, Bush will forever hide the truth. Were they all in fact "terrorists", or were some of them just people that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? We will never know. He didn't just "suspend" habeas corpus for these people,... he did away with it. In case you don't know what that term means, and you are too embarrassed to ask, it means that people holding another human being, must charge that person with a crime in order to hold them. It gives us those annoying little things that take up so much time, like trials and getting evidence and proving that somebody did indeed break a law. I guess Mr. Bush doesn't want to go through all of that trouble, and he will then just hold them for as long as they wish, because somebody decided that they "might" have done something wrong. Mr. Bush is, after all, the decider of everything. Before you chuckle at that last statement, I'm not just playing with words. I am cold stone serious. The fact of the matter is, he could arrest you or me and we could disappear forever without anyone having the knowledge of where we disappeared too. When you hear the Neo-conservatives defend themselves and say that other President's like Lincoln have done the same thing, that is a lie. Other Presidents have "suspended" habeas Corpus in time of invasion or great peril, but they never terminated it. Just remember, this is the cornerstone of human rights, and America and The British Commonwealth, and most civilizations around the planet recognize it as such. This "Christian" President has thrown it away, like and old tool that has outlived it's usefulness.

The mid-term elections are little more than a month away. These are perhaps the most crucial elections that we have ever had in this country, even though we are not electing a President. It's not just because we get to use these elections as a referendum of the failed policies of this President, they are the only way, short of a revolution to stop the direction that this President and his ultra-right agenda. This seems to be the only way we can stop the use of fear as a weapon, to control the hearts and minds of Americans that has proven to be, by far, the most effective tool that George W. Bush has in his arsenal. Bush has used fear to advance our decision to go to war with Iraq, and to advance every other piece of right-wing legislation since September 11, 2001.

The President will continue to use this tool. It is the only effective way he can convince the American people to turn their backs on the concepts of human rights. The "security moms" as they call them, are one of George Bush's biggest supporters. Every day we hear the word terror and terrorist. According to the White House, these are the most terrible, the most diabolical enemy we have ever faced, and they are everywhere, looking to kill Americans because they hate our "Freedom". Maybe when George W. Bush gets through with this country they won't hate us for our "Freedom", because we won't have any.

We have abrogated the Geneva Convention, thrown out habeas corpus, turned our back on the Magna Charta, what is next? He has already made attacks on our Constitution, pushing for warrant less wiretaps of telephone calls, even when Congress had already given him the authority to wiretap anyone as long as he turned his request into the secret FISA court 72 hours AFTER the fact. He doesn't even want to have to do that! He wants the authority to do it without clearing it through anyone! This is the "Unitary Power" of the President. Just as he negated every law that tried to reign in the power of the executive branch with "signing statements" that exempted the executive branch from complying with laws he felt were a burden to the Presidency. He has signed 300% more "signing statements" than any President in history!

The American people suffered a grave attack on 9/11 by a gang of terrorists armed with box cutters, that got though a security system that was, by all definition, terrible. The FBI did not work with the CIA, and the NSA, and they did not work with the FBI. It was a disaster of proportions that led to another disaster of greater proportions. We lost the World Trade Center and approximately 2,500 lives, and part of the Pentagon, and a plane full of passengers in Pennsylvania. We also lost much more than that. We have lost basic freedoms. First was the Patriot Act, then the writ of habeas corpus, then article 3 of the Geneva Convention on the humane treatment of prisoners of war. This President has expanded the power of the executive branch so that it now has dictatorial powers. We have spent over 3000 Billion dollars, 22 million dollars a day on an enemy that we can't find, can't kill, and according to our Orwellian government, and it threatens us from around every corner of the planet, and has the entire country living in fear. We have lost traditional friends in nations that have supported us for decades throughout the world, who now look at the United States in fear. We have lost much since 9/11, but most of what we have lost, we willingly gave up. We sacrificed our freedom for security, and find that now... we have neither.

This is the challenge we face in November. We can vote with our knowledge and our conscience, or we can vote our fear. Franklin D. Roosevelt in his first inaugural speech said:"The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself". If we vote our fear, nothing will be better, and we shall only become more afraid. If we vote with our conscience and our minds and hearts, we can bring the idea of America back. To vote our conscience would be what our founding fathers would want us to do. To vote our fear would be treason.
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Tim Gatto is Ret. US Army and has been writing against the Duopoly for the last decade. He has two books on Amazon, Kimchee Days or Stoned Colds Warriors and Complicity to Contempt.

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