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February 4/05      

          OPINION:     SOTU & Other Gripes: The Legislative Usurped By the Executive, Undermining Democracy.

So President Bush gave us another  warmed-over same ol', same ol', Tuesday night. Cripes!

When I saw him encouraged to continue his scam by the applause and shouts of  his Republican boosters, saw how sheltered he was by the careful  theatrical staging which didn't allow for personal expressions printed on tee shirts, I curbed my impulse to smash the television and began to think about what was supposed to be--the Executive under the watchful eye of the Legislative, and saw how that ideal had turned into myth.

    My dictionary  describes democracy as: "A government in which the supreme  power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representatives involving periodically held free elections." Remember that idea?

       Looking back: When it was suggested by those few who were still not weaned from the idea of monarchy, that General Washington become the first American king, he wisely declined.  Thus, an ideal was set in motion. The founding fathers of this early republic were an elite group of exceptional but imperfect men which formed to express the will of the people, while at the same time it was clear that their intention was to guide with great care this potentially chaotic will.  Perhaps some had unexpressed thoughts of Plato's Republic whereby the best and the brightest would be chosen to rule the less gifted, the inherent danger, of course, residing in the identity of the mysterious entity that would do the choosing of these superior beings.

       In today's world the ideal theory remains--that we, the great unwashed, are to choose leadership through a system of free elections.  While in reality these elite, potential electables, are in effect being chosen by a not-so-mysterious entity:  special interests with the deepest pockets; corporations who can hijack the democratic ideal by funding campaigns, funding the most powerful lobbies, funding think-tank intellectual sneaks who don't have to answer to us, who can and do formulate and express ideas having nothing to do with the will of the people, but rather concoct policies reflecting so-called national interests, that tired euphemism for corporate greed--and proceed to advise the Executive in back room meetings, undermining our democracy while  advising the President to sell this ideal to Islamic fundamentalists who don't really want it, while at the same time overriding a weak-willed legislative body, in the end creating foreign policies which are too often damaging to this country, not to mention the planet. 

       As an example, we've had five years of an oil crusade with lies and mismanagement, lost lives and billions of dollars, all of it carefully wrapped in religion and the American flag, contrived to satisfy the newly-globalized brokers of power who appear to have less and less allegiance to we the people of the United States Of America.  

       One has to be independently rich to be entirely self-assertive, to be free of the corruption of corporate payola; but then, one is essentially buying his or her election.  I imagine our lawmakers and their paymasters would be terrified by the idea of our government prohibiting contributions while providing a budget for political campaigns with a level playing field, and especially terrified if every American citizen awoke and came out to vote.  But don't sweat it, big guys, since Joe six-pack won't make the effort unless he thinks he has a voice in his own country.  Which you guys continue to make sure he doesn't.

       And Joe probably doesn't remember that our 18th century fathers of the Constitution intended the legislature to create laws for the well-ordered  good of the people, and expected the

President to always govern within the guidelines of these laws.  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams while at risk of being hanged by the English, for espousing independence, would no doubt puke if they could see this ever-growing reversal and debasement of the political balance. 

       One can almost believe our kids are no longer well schooled in history so as to encourage ignorance of what was, and what could have been, rather than what is--what Bush and company have been worsening.  Clearly too may American kids are less interested in honorable ideas than they are in the game of achieving the scores to achieve the schools, to achieve the money, none of which has anything to do with learning, while believing that blatant cheating, free of shame, is just another part of the means to an end in which morality is not a seriously considered factor, which shouldn't  surprise one, bearing in mind the glaring and ongoing corruption of our political system, so widely reported in the media which kids are exposed to.  Is this what's called, trickle down? 

       And then hopefully there will be enough jobs to go around, for these kids, which leads me to:

       As usual the President mentioned education, as he always does, because it sounds so great, so uplifting, you know, the future of our kids' schooling.  Wants to do something about it, he says. But meanwhile the numbers tell an unpleasant story:

     50% of graduates in India are science and math majors.   

     75% of graduates in Singapore are science and math majors.

     16% of graduates in the U. S. are science and math majors.

       But don't despair.  Think about all the great college football and basketball scholarships that are given to some of our more athletic kids who dream about the big money.  And all those games featured on the telly selling all those products to you and me. And maybe one of these kids can actually play in the Super Bowl, for Pete's sake. 

But anyway, folks, in the end we don't have to worry about all that boring science and math crap, 'cause we'll simply outsource our tech and science projects, or bring those really smart guys over here.  So it doesn't really matter. Hell we're already doing it.  Think about all the money our businesses  are saving.  It'll trickle down, right?


       Yeah.  And then, too, Mr. Bush stated he wants a commission to propose new ideas for you and me to have more "control" over responsibility for our own health care costs through tax incentives and savings accounts. Translation: snooker Joe six-pack into assuming more of the costs so as to retain the tax breaks for the rich, and to pay for his insane war in Iraq; saving being something of a joke since almost no one can put aside for anything after paying for gas and the escalating prices of the daily necessities, even with two job families; with Bush at the same time telling us the economy is super because productivity is way up, while not mentioning salaries are stagnating and that people fear losing their jobs, never mind their pensions; Mr. Bush apparently never understanding how out of touch he is with the rest of us.

       And yes, also during Bush's same ol', same ol', Tuesday night, he said the nation was addicted to oil.  Really? Ex-oil-man crony to Cheney who is crony to the oil/energy bunch, the bunch who helped devise our energy policy behind closed doors in the White House, which in effect became our foreign policy? He said that? 

       Yep.  Said it like he just discovered our nasty habit and stuck it into his speech to show how smart he was, that he knew that, and to cleverly make us feel guilty for causing all the current problems. Of course he failed to mention, his and Cheney's friends at Exxon-Mobil reaped profits in 2005 of $36.13 billion, the largest profit ever recorded by an American corporation.  But hell, they're our guys, right?  Americans, right? Guys who sent their sons to fight in Iraq for the good of the oil business.  Right? No? Oh.


       Part of that amazing oil profit, by the way, was used to pressure our legislators, used to sabotage efforts to control global warming and to push for oil drilling in the arctic as well as off our glorious coasts, money that could have better served our beautiful country by promoting and developing alternative energy sources which are already available, sources they've done everything to squelch while giving just enough lip service to  conservation to buck the environmentalists and anesthetize the uniformed, all of which has been silently applauded by ex-oil-man Bush. Yeah, that guy, one of our dealers.  The guy who just told us that we are addicted to oil.

       During Bush's speech, I couldn't help taking note of his new mantra: "Radical Islam," instead of just terrorism, which I guess hasn't been working too well for him in the polls, lately.  The other version I heard today was: "Radical Islamic extremism." Yikes!  All of which leads me to wonder if he's seeking to call forth his fellow citizens to join him and Rummy in a kind of fanatical religious crusade against the other half of the world, us against them, which makes me very wary, this heating up of rhetoric as if preparing for another costly invasion.

        Or hopefully it's merely another attempt to enhance what he believes is his strong suit--protector of America against the evil terrorists.  You know, like mushroom clouds and orange alerts before the elections.  Or maybe Bush is only trying to justify a 2007 defense department budget that looks for $439.3 billion, in addition to the $120 billion he needs for the war in Iraq. Maybe  it's only that. 


       Whatever he has in mind, Bush, unlike General Washington, has assumed the mantle of the monarch, speaking like a man who knows the Legislative has lost it's will, ignoring the fact that the Constitution does not allow for the kind of executive privilege which permits him to make it up as he goes along.  He told us in so many words, he is going to use the NSA for domestic spying without warrants and the 4th Amendment be damned, and I'm certain he is thinking of the self-assertions of past presidents, for instance Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.  Lincoln for suspending habeas corpus resulting in a loss of due process. Though consider our nation at war with itself; sedition, hatred, mistrust, the landscape crawling with spies; the states hosting enormous bloody battles, hard to imagine today. Americans killing Americans, resulting in 600,000 dead.

        And then Roosevelt doing much the same during World war II, placing thousands of Americans in concentration camps because they happened to be of Japanese decent; executing Germans without due process when they entered the country under cover of darkness.  Then consider most of the world at war, a time of great darkness, of holocausts, with millions in the military and huge numbers of our men fighting in Africa and Europe and the South Pacific, during which we lost several hundred thousands of them. Add to that about 60 million dead around the globe.  No doubt many of those poor souls had in mind the apocalypse.

        We're worried about Al-Quaeda as much as you, Mr. Bush, and justifiably so. We hate them as much as you and we  worry we may suffer a major attack once again.  And we love our troops as much as you say you do, and we don't oppose you merely for the sake of opposition, but rather because we strongly disagree. And we realize there are occasions for pushing the Executive envelope, such as now, but this is not a monarchy, and there are limits to your authority which should not be exceeded under cover of executive privilege.  And this is not the Civil War or World War II, and you're not Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt.