Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 4

Even With the Iraq War Going SOOOOOOO Wrong, Bush Still Wins Election. So, Yes, This Could Happen Again.

Ugh. It was almost unimaginable. In a very short time, the country had gone from post-9/11 unification to vastly divided over the Iraqi War and an ugly, grotesque resentment by many Americans towards Muslims arose – many times ending in violence.

Simply stated (as Cheney would say), Bush screwed the pooch. As did all his boys. And Condoleeza.

Our intervention in Iraq was a nightmare that wouldn’t end. It devolved so quickly, that by election season 2004, I was no longer a moderate, independent voter. Watching the war hellishly unfold day after day, week after week pushed me farther and farther into the liberal column. I would atone for my support of Bush by likely never voting for another Republican again. It became clear that all Republicans do is tear asunder what the rest of us try to build and progress.

I was truly never fond of Gore and Kerry. They didn’t really have fire-in-the-belly Americans like to see in their executive leader. But they did have better decision-making capabilities and so many more men and women would be alive and kissing their children and putting gas in their cars and laughing at stupid jokes had Gore or Kerry carried the electoral college. But Justice Scalia and state constitutional bans on gay marriage prevented that.

A vast number of Americans are incensed by the sins of the unrepentant Bush et. al. As a former political analyst and current political junkie, I think on it quite often. I work out quite a bit to American Idiot by Green Day – a masterpiece, musically and lyrically providing stunning, often avoided insight by the popular music crowd. The album’s message clear and true: Americans were mindless lemmings, not asking questions, not conducting analysis, and allowing an un-fucking-necessary war to be launched in their name. Shame doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Relevant Questions Today

Would Bush have gone into Iraq had 9/11 not happened? He would have tried, but it would have been much, much harder to convince the public to support him.

Would Obama be president had Bush lost? Probably not.

Would McCain have ended the war? Certainly, undoubtedly not.

Could this happen again? Absolutely.

Example No. 1: Drone strikes. We do not know enough about this offensive weapon that is likely a valuable tool in the efforts to prevent another attack against the U.S. If, however, Obama alone is deciding who dies and who lives, he has extensive powers protected once again by the “classified intelligence” argument that absolutely should be augmented.

Example No. 2: Wall Street. The investment bankers on Wall Street brought the global economy to its knees. The economic destruction has likely lead to large numbers of early deaths, as well as having blow-torched the economic livelihoods of countless people worldwide. Not one executive has been prosecuted for this grand malfeasance and the public outcry is a whisper.

Example No. 3: Global Warming. U.S. fossil fuel consumption, extensive environmental destruction, and unchecked corporate transgressions to our air, water, food, ground have helped cause climate change, heralding mass storms, wildfires and floods that threaten the existence of towns, neighborhoods and people. Only in the most recent couple of years have the majority of Americans expressed their concern over this growing, looming danger.

Wreckage can be wrought and Americans – even with their access to information and freedom of speech – will turn a blind eye again and again. I have no doubt that, under the right set of circumstances, Americans will permit their leaders to conduct great evils in their name. Should I be amazed that Republicans support their leaders as they conduct voter suppression, attack the most fundamental rights of women and abandon the poor?

The United States of America is a wonderful country, but we, as its citizens, have an awesome responsibility to do right by each other and hold the powerful accountable. We cannot remain idle. We cannot keep quiet. We cannot ignore. That was the lesson of the Iraq War. Let’s not have to learn it again.

Writing this blog series has been a huge catharsis. I will never relinquish my responsibility in supporting the war, but I won’t stop talking about it, either.

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 1

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 2

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 3

Review: Frontline’s “The Untouchables”

After hearing a substantial amount of recommendations for Frontline’s “The Untouchables,” my husband and I came away last night with one reaction: Outrageous.

Granted, this is a common sentiment we illicit whenever absorbing details of the cause of the 2008 economic collapse. Now, 4.5 years later, we’re responding to the Justice Department’s complete impotence in their duty to hold wrongdoers accountable.

PBS, though, the bastion of public information delivery, was on it. “The Untouchables” presents an investigation regarding the lack of prosecutions of Wall Street executives in the wake of the economic collapse. Most viewers, I’m certain, come away with the overwhelming sense that the Justice Department has dropped the ball.

A number of interviewees, including former Senator Ted Kaufman, who was a placeholder for Vice President Joe Biden until the 2010 midterm elections, give the impression that it was not only possible to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt on the part of numerous Wall Street executives, but that these indictments should have gone forward.

The theory is posited that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who announced his upcoming departure from the Justice Department soon after the airing of the program, was simply fearful of taking any case to trial and losing, as well as doing damage to the economy.

The documentary also backs up one of my takeaways from Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind (I’ll have a review of the book in an upcoming blog). President Obama, who enjoyed vast support among Wall Street during his first campaign for president, wanted to unite the country and not engage in a legal blow-torching of the banking and investment sector the way most of us wanted. Secondly, the Obama economic team experienced great dissent, but one of the prevailing assumptionswas that the economy was weak and dependent on Wall Street and no policy should be done that would undermine confidence or hurt the banks further.

And so, there appears to have been placed a teflon shield around many of those involved in the rampant fraud and abuse that allowed Wall Street to concentrate much U.S. wealth to the upper economic echelons, decimate the middle class, and bring the global economy to the brink of utter destruction.

Should we all shut up and simply say thank you as the Dow has enjoyed considerable growth and the U.S. has avoided the dreaded “double-dip” recession? Absolutely not.

The wealth of the average U.S. household has declined significantly. The wealth gap has grown, which helps our economy continue on shaky ground. Millions of people worldwide have suffered tremendous harm to their livelihoods and the lives of their family due to the gross negligence of these financiers.

That these people should enjoy their high life and freedom after bringing the financial system to its knees is beyond credulity and illustrates the gross negligence on the part of the Obama administration and Congress. The Dodd-Frank legislation is small consolation considering the deregulation that led to this collapse has never been rectified. The U.S. is ill-protected from another dramatic financial down cycle – the likes of which will, again, wreak havoc on the lives of those lower on the economic totem pole.

The lack of oversight on Wall Street has simply pushed this country closer toward plutocracy and the government has participated almost to the point of criminal collusion. LIke someone hinted in “The Untouchables,” we need regulators for the regulators.

Shame on the whole lot of them.