What's It Going to Take?

[Note: This article was written during the Bush/Cheney regime before he was "re-elected" to a second term.]

Did you ever read the "Left Behind" series? If not, it's a series of 10 books (I think) about the "end times" that some say are predicted in the Bible. In the books, an underground group called the "Tribulation Force" works to bring the message of salvation to as many people as possible. During these final years, the Tribulation Force often watches with bewilderment while the population of the world blindly follows the orders of the charismatic world leader (who the Trib Force knows is the anti-Christ), despite the overwhelming evidence that it's obviously not in their best interests to do so.

Change "world leader" to "president of the US" and I'd call myself a member of the Tribulation Force.

It is utterly beyond my comprehension why any patriotic American in this nation is NOT demanding the impeachment of George W. Bush. And yet the man still has an approval rating of above 40%. What is it going to take, America, to remove the blinders from your eyes? What is it going to take to make you wake up and see what is happening to this nation and to the US Constitution? I'm concerned that if more Americans don't wake up, they're going to be woken up to the sound of either the US military pounding down their doors after Bush declares martial law or to the sounds of bombs dropping on US soil when the rest of the world gets tired of our bullying and says enough is enough— just like they did to Germany and Japan during World War II.

Here are some tidbits in the news that highlight the alarming rate at which our Constitution is slowly being destroyed.

In Texas, the state's comptroller has denied the Unitarian Universalists "tax-exempt" status because the organization "does not have one system of belief." (Read full article here.) Two US presidents have been Unitarians, yet according to the state of Texas, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, had no religious affiliation. (Rather ironic, don't you think, that the home state (I know Bush was born in Connecticut) of another father/son presidential pair is the first one to so blatantly violate the US Constitution?) According to the US Constitution, government is not permitted to define "religion". But according to Jesse Ancira, the comptroller's legal eagle, they must apply a standard so that not just anyone can apply for tax-exempt status as a religion. The standard they have chosen is that to be recognized as a religion, there must be "simply a belief in God, or gods, or a higher power." I guess that leaves out Buddhists too then, huh? I'll be the Dalai Lama will be surprised to hear that news! A full 25% of the groups rejected for tax-exempt status have been non-Christian groups, yet the comptrollers office claims no bias against non-traditional groups. Unless 25% of the state of Texas is not Christian, non-traditional groups are being denied more frequently than traditional groups. But given that the Unitarians have been around since the days of the founding fathers, I guess even traditional groups are in danger of being denied now. I'll bet Baptists are going to be next because the Baptists are "dedicated to a high degree of personal independence and to the right of the individual to interpret the New Testament for himself in matters of faith and practice." (Religions of America; edited by Leo Rosten, 1975; p. 20)

The Bush Administration has spent more than $700,000 on programs like the "Silver Ring Thing", run by evangelical Christians to teach and promote abstinence. This year, Bush's budget for his abstinence only "sex education" is projected to be $270 million. But according to the UN's population figures, there are 53 births to teenage mothers for every 1000 teenagers in the US. That ties us with Micronesia, Maldives and Lesotho. We are the only "first world" (read "rich") nation in the "top" 75 (of a list where it's better to be at the bottom). Russia is number 76, with 30. Guess whose near the bottom of the list? Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands— you know, all those "sexually immoral" countries— some of whom even allow *gasp* gay marriage!. (You can see the whole list here.)

Studies have shown that when kids aren't taught about contraception and STDs and aren't given information to help them make choices, they are more likely to become pregnant and they're more likely to contract an STD. Additionally, these programs have been shown to be utterly ineffective. While they do delay the onset of sexual activity by an average of 18 months, very few of those who take a vow of abstinence as teens remain virgins until they are married. In fact, it has been shown that where such programs are put in place and are the only programs available for "sex education", teenage pregnancy actually increases. Yet these same groups who are pushing these programs are also the same groups decrying the rate of abortion in the US, which is actually lower than it was in 1975 during the height of the "sexual revolution". Teens account for 20% of the abortions performed in the US. And yet the groups that call for an end to the right to abortion are the same groups that are pushing programs that result in more teenage girls getting pregnant and seeking abortions! Go figure.

There is, of course, the ongoing debate about voting machines for the upcoming election. One of the largest manufacturers of the voting machines is a large contributor to the Bush re-election campaign. And in Florida, the state the determined the winner of the last presidential election, which just happens to be governed by the president's brother, has decided to not keep a paper trail of votes. This from the state where tens of thousands of voters— most of them blacks and/or Democrats— were illegally prevented from voting in the last election. Proponents of the electronic touch screen voting machines tell us how secure they are and how they have back-up systems on their back-up systems to prevent fraud and hacking. That's what the Pentagon and every other bank that's ever been hacked into has said. I have to admit though that waking up on the November 3 to read a headline that says "Mickey Mouse wins Florida" would be rather humorous.

Of course, there are what are being touted as "security measures" that are being introduced right and left that open up great potential for being abused.

  • Tracking chips that parents are being encouraged to have their kids wear, usually as a watch. But some parents are taking it a step further and actually implanting this chip beneath the surface of their child's skin. So now, if someone kidnaps a child, they know that there's a chance they may have a tracking chip on their body somewhere that will lead the police right to you. So you either let the child go (they might talk and reveal your identity since 80% of child molestations and 76% of kidnappings are at the hands of family members or close family friends), you "cut off" whatever part of the body you think may have the chip (the child may be able to tell you where it was put) or you kill the child and, while the police will eventually find him/her, you hope to be long gone. And if you choose to kill the child, you had better do it quickly because they can track it instantly. So gone is the "golden" 24 hours that police talk about, where they have the best chance of recovering a child still alive.
  • There's talk of a "national ID card" to supposedly help make us more secure against terrorists. So now if they can't find you using your SSN, your driver's license number or any of your credit cards, they might have a chance of locating you using your national ID card. Fortunately, many states are fighting national ID cards, even though the federal government is trying to tie it to the amount of aid it gives to states.
  • There's the new navigation systems that are being put into new cars. These are being touted as beneficial: they can even unlock your car door by punching a code into a computer thousands of miles from where your car is. But it also means that every time you get in your car, someone knows where you are going, how long you have been gone, what stores you shop at, what kind of restaurants you go to. This kind of data would be a gold mine for those who are into identity theft. And yes, the information is protected from hackers. But then so was the Pentagon. Of course, most people who have this onboard navigational system also have cell phones, but at least the cell phones can be turned off if you want some privacy.
These are just a few items and don't even touch on the measures taken by this administration to curtail human rights and civil liberties. There's the Federal Marriage Amendment, the first time that a US president has attempted to use the Constitution to deny equal rights to anyone. And the Patriot Act, that 700 page document that was miraculously prepared in less than 2 months after 9/11. You know, the one that got almost unanimous approval by both houses of Congress before ANY member had even READ it! This bill grants broad, sweeping powers to both law enforcement and the president, powers which undermine the system of checks and balances that this nation uses to maintain it's status as a constitutional republic. There are the misrepresentations (some would say outright lies) that got us into a war that's turning into the new Viet Nam. There's the stalling and evasiveness the administration has shown towards 9/11 commission and their unwillingness to make the whole report public.

But one of my favorite schemes of this administration is that whenever Bush's numbers start to drop in the polls, suddenly there is an impending terrorism attack planned— they don't know where, when or how the attack will be carried out— but it's from reliable sources. And then, of course, when no attack comes, people say "See! These security measures the president put into effect really work!" Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house! Personally, the very name "Department of Homeland Security" makes my skin crawl.

And of course, the latest scandal: the torture of Iraqi prisoners and those in Guantanamo. Whether or not Bush knew anything about it, he is the commander in chief and he is ultimately responsible for the actions of his subordinates. His denial of responsibility and/or knowledge rings as hollow as Reagan's "I don't recall" when asked about the Iran/Contra connection.

Come November 3, this country will either get a chance to change course and restore our dignity, honor and commitment to freedom and civil liberties or we'll get another four years of Bush. If it's the latter, I can't help but think that whatever comes after will be what we deserve for allowing this man to stay in office as long as he has. The Republicans were up in arms and tried to impeach Bill Clinton for getting oral sex from a willing intern. Bush has violated international law, the US Constitution and his presidential oath of office and the Republicans are looking to vote him back into office for another for years. Go figure.

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