The Bush Horror: An Elegy; A Letter

The following is a letter to my (infant) sons that I wrote in longhand in August, 2005 over a period of several days. It ends in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I am typewriting it here for archival purposes.   My intent in writing this was to preserve for them some sense of what occurred in this country as I don’t expect that the history books can or will do it justice.  My other intent was to capture my own emotions at the time, which were not good.

Cross-posted on the Great Orange Satan.

The Trust:

My dear _ and __:

   If you had told me five years ago that this country would have witnessed a contested Presidential election result, resolved only by a Supreme Court which effectively ordered a state to stop counting its votes (arguably in disregard of its own state laws), and exposing, as almost an afterthought, massive voter suppression, a near institutional campaign of racial intimidation, wanton disregard of legitimate ballots, and a manipulative smear campaign waged by the prevailing party culminating in political staffers flown to Florida to physically harass and threaten public officials, I would have thought–“that’s terrible enough, but somehow the nation will get past it, somehow common sense and reason will prevail.”

   If you had told me that the President elected from such an unusual, ambiguous result would have, notwithstanding losing the popular vote, proceeded to  force a far-right agenda down the throats of a divided electorate–and would blatantly, through Administrative fiat, strive to eliminate thousands of regulations  and several decades of laws in place governing the public health and safety, appointing energy company lobbyists to positions normally entrusted to the public welfare, curtailing worker’s long-fought rights to unionize in governmental agencies, massively cutting taxes for the richest one percent of the nation while augmenting defense spending, eliminating housing and educational subsidies for the nation’s poorest, all the while aided by a narrow Congressional majority that shut out minority participation in any meaningful legislation, then I would have begun to have doubts as to whether I was simply on the wrong side of History, and whether my own personal views about the country I was born in and taught to respect were simply quaint or naive in the face of such a growing, inexorable tide of social conservatism and economic Darwinism.

   But my doubts surely would have been assuaged by the decreasing popularity of these positions among the electorate, by the aimless foundering of the economy and the increasing divergence of the haves vs. the have-nots , which could not but alert and awaken the citizens of my country to the wrongheadedness of such a course.  By the assumption that the country, having regained its senses, would shake off this temporary fixation and ultimately resume its course towards equal opportunity, social progress and its historically beneficent goals of fairness and justice  for all citizens, with compassion and understanding as its watchwords, pride and resourcefulness at the heart of its character.

  Those hopes and beliefs, however, would have been naive. They were the beliefs of one who, having been raised in a relatively idyllic family environment, had an incomplete understanding of human nature and the power of its motivators. Because at the moment when the public’s confidence in them had begun to to stagnate and wane, and as the true deceptive nature of their promises had been revealed, this group of men–and they were nearly all men–blessed by dumb happenstance, were awarded a gift of immeasurable value to them, one that, in their own words, “could never have been predicted”: the dramatic, searing spectacle of our nation brutally attacked by radical Islamic terrorists and their wholesale, unforgettable, and horridly spectacular slaughter of three thousand American citizens.

The Betrayal and the Lie:

  Seizing upon the attacks of September 11th 2001, a date which in its euphonious recitation (“septembereleventh”) would be invoked ad nauseum as the rationale for every bad action that followed, the obnoxious, selfish, and self-serving nature of these men was instantly forgotten, swept away in a cascade of blind nationalism, artfully repackaged as “patriotism.” We were suddenly a nation “at war,” and we followed suit, proceeding to behave as dogs unleashed.

   Not even the most cynical-minded could have foreseen the gleeful, pathological opportunism on the part of the Republican party in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001.  Before the ink had dried on the plans to attack the country harboring the terrorists who had actually attacked us, another, totally unrelated scheme was hatched, along with an elaborate staging of phony intelligence, selectively leaked fantasies, canards and distortions, and contracts were drawn up and signed, granting untold billions in special favors, bribes, and suddenly available governmental largesse, all geared to cashing in on the ultimate prize–the world’s fourth largest store of known oil reserves.  As the profiteers joyfully colluded in this massive scam, and as they “rolled out” their hype and lies, their handpicked puppets fashioned an elaborate mishmash of “justifications” essential to drum up the public support they would need to cement their hold on power and assure the continuance of the planned enterprise.

   That this far-flung, once-in-a-lifetime project spawned by a weird, inverted fantasy in economic determinism (the “Project for the New American Century” was its grandiose title) would by necessity involve massive looting of the public treasury and would likely result in considerable loss and ruination of human life did not seem to be worth even a passing consideration.  Innocent, though foreign, men, women and children were deemed expendable in furtherance of the enterprise simply by virtue of their place of birth, the brownish pigment of their skin and their inability to speak anything but unaccented English.  The lives (and families) of U.S. servicemen were equally disregarded. Few, if any of the “Project’s” instigators had served in the military and the chief role of American soldiers metastasized quickly into a political bludgeon–even as they became, in reality, cannon fodder.

The Enablers of the Lie:

   These uniquely American opportunists and profiteers made dexterous use of all forms of media.  Paid shills in their corporate conglomerate news organizations, happily removed from the realities of war, gleefully embraced the lies, repeating them like trained parrots until the only self-evident “truths”, as far as these accomplices were concerned, were the somberly intoned pronouncements of their owners and enablers, the CEO’s, Board members and lobbyists who through the sheer power of their financial resources pulled the strings of our “elected” representatives as they curried favor with the regime.  Television and radio media were especially stroked as these men knew that folks who gleaned their “understanding” of world events through the print media were less “persuadable”. In point of fact, however, the intelligentsia did not need to be persuaded, as it turned out. They were simply drowned out. The profiteers’ ultimate goal was satisfied–to marginalize what was disdainfuly viewed as the “reality-based” community, a group whose lack of organization, self-absorption, and general disunity could be safely disregarded, much as they were disregarded in the eventful day-to-day activities of the Third Reich.

   Of course, the print media were also complicit, no less willing shills of the profiteers than their compatriots in television and radio.  They, too, fell prey to an insidious ethos spawned by the ceaseless harangues and cajolery by the strident, exhortative minority of loudmouths who collectively formed a Republican “noise machine,” attacking any perceived dissent from the prevailing lies as “unpatriotic” or “unAmerican.”  The intimidation of the print media by these calculating screeds led to a creeping equanimity, a hesitancy to challenge or question, a go-along mentality that complemented nicely with the desire for self-advancement or at least, self-preservation.  Of course, this was only the fault of the corporate framework in which these “journalists” operated.  This tendency to equivocate was easily conflated with “fairness” and “balance” but in reality transformed journalists into nothing more than comfortable eunuchs.

  You need to understand the importance of this.  In a free society, the only check on governmental abuse is a robust and assertive, inquisitional media. The media shape public opinion and public opinion is the means by which governmental officials are–or are not–compelled to enforce the “public trust.”  Before the news media in this country sank to the level of corporate entertainers, that check operated as it should have, by exposing and correcting abuse of the public trust. When a journalist allows himself to be browbeat, bought or otherwise cowed by intimidating corporate surrogates, objectivity disappears, and truth disappears along with it. The public, accustomed to believe what it reads and hears, begins to believe the lies fed to it.

   This breakdown of intelligent, critical journalism in this country did not, of course, begin with the 2000 election.  “Infotainment” had gradually supplanted news gathering for the past decade as corporate media, driven as always by their bottom line, found their increasingly uncritical audiences more receptive to sensationalism and titillation rather than the staid analysis of policy and its ramifications.  Deregulation and consolidation of the media resulted in its domination by a comparative few, and competition between media waned at the macro level as media outlets absorbed the learned tendency to behave as a flash mob, focusing on one titillating story until achieving a corporate orgasm, then like a porn addict, developing and deploying its spent energies into the next contrived encounter. Media in this country became glued to a series of breathless buildups, feverish in intensity, followed by exhausted, panting denouements, one after another.

    Opposition to the enterprise, which before too long had been packaged by the Administration as a “war on terror,” became an immediate casualty of the “new journalism.”  While protests happened (some actually dwarfing those that happened during the Vietnam war), those protests were uniformly ignored by the national media. People demonstrating against the war were vilified and derided as traitors by Fox News, even as they were being shot with rubber bullets and pummelled by Ninja-turtle garbed riot police. Many were jailed, many were beaten, many were shot with rubber bullets.  And voices raised in opposition to the enterprise were squelched as the wormish campaign of hate rhetoric spewed by talk radio and Fox news took hold–journalists and show business personalities were fired, musicians were boycotted and smeared, as devotees of the right draped themselves in American flags, shouting down all who even raised the most timorous dissent.  Politicians who voiced their reservations (nearly all Democrats) about the wisdom of the enterprise were publically labelled as “traitors” or “terrorists”, and even the patriotism of decorated war heroes was impugned and mocked as the noise machine took its toll and the masses wallowed in the aimless, hysterical jingoism. I should note that the Democrats that did speak out were a tiny minority–most of their compatriots had voted for the war out of fear and political expediency, and were hardly in a position to criticize its ultimate manifestations.

The Lie Collapses; The Horror Begins

   And so the war proceeded, and after a pretense of soliciting the approval of the international community, the superbombs began falling and the war which had been always been a fait accompli in the minds of its creators took shape. We were treated to only a sanitized version of its immediate consequences, as the lapdog media gleefully reported on its seeming swiftness and finality. But its designers had failed in a most elementary aspect–the planning of the aftermath.   The first signs that something was going seriously wrong were the rampant looting of Baghdad’s museums and public buildings, the failure to secure and shore up sources of water and electricity (although the Oil Ministry was well guarded), and the fact that the city of Baghdad had to be immediately transformed into an armed camp with a small safety zone carved out for the presence of American soldiers.  

    It was at this time, when the realization that things were going utterly awry had dawned on them, that the true ugliness of the folly began to manifest itself, and the country started behaving more and more like nationalist Germany in the 1930’s, or paranoiac America at the height of the McCarthy era, both on the home front and in the theatre of this voluntary war of choice, foisted on us by these appalling persons. It began to dawn on me that the same elements that created the German Horror were now infecting my country and at the most base core of their humanity Americans in 2005 were, absent the gossamer veneer of a “Constitutional” framework, motivated only a little differently than Germans in 1933.  I’d read Goldberg’s “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” and been struck by the thesis that ordinary Germans were possessed of an “eliminationist Anti-semitism”, a culturally-induced antipathy towards (in their case) Jews. This virulent, simmering hate smoldered over the years until it was finally made state policy and legitimized under Hitler, culminating in the Nuremberg laws and, ultimately, the Final solution.  What, if not “eliminationism,” was I witnessing here, with the continual, demonic invective against liberals?

    It’s painful for me to use this comparison because its misuse has become a cliche, and I fear you’ll think I’m exaggerating.  We are not at the point where the fabric of our society is about to be torn up and liberals are to be treated in the same manner as Jews were treated in the Third Reich.  But the same patterns of blame and vilification are becoming an everyday reality here.  Liberals are the new Jews in George W. Bush’s (and Dick Cheney’s) America.  Where blame is placed, we are the targets. Where opposition is voiced, we are the vilified. It was the liberals who opposed the enterprise, throwing up whatever tiny, ineffective roadblocks we could to the devastation that has followed. We were ignored, of course. The bizarre confluence of energy and defense conglomerates and pathological idealogues that spawned this ill-fated scheme had no interest in reversing course. We simply earned their enmity and have been demonized accordingly by their media machines.  And too many of us stood passively, waiting for the nightmare to end.

   As the war began to go awry, and the resistance to it among those attacked sharpened, the horrors mounted. Through the lens of modern technology came digital photographs of American troops torturing innocent civilians, messy leaks about captured prisoners being shuttled by our CIA to foreign countries to be tortured and killed, of US citizens being harrassed, “detained,” interrogated, jailed or otherwise intimidated.   Stories from the war front itself, previously sanitized through the propaganda filters of the national news networks (the Administration’s most loyal enablers) revealed behavior of our troops and hired mercenaries so devoid of moral content  that reasonable persons might have expected some indignation or righteous anger on the home front. There were stories of American troops egging on captured Iraqis to sodomize and rape children, the tapes of which were only provided to our elected officials in private meetings. These elected officials simply emerged from such briefings, ashen-faced, and the events were simply whited out of the public discourse, never to be addressed again.  There were incidents of our taxpayer-salaried American troops gang-raping Iraqi women, stories of mass killings and bombings of civilians, of inflicting ungodly wounds with uranium-drenched bullets and phosphorescent chemicals–all blithely ignored by a cowed media.  The only thing that came out of the media were the ever-increasing American body counts, and they were stark, cold statistics devoid of context. Iraq’s body counts, of course, were not worth mentioning.

   Elaborate, circus-like events were staged, and imaginary villains were created, almost on a daily basis, to gin up support for the continuation of the war. The capture of Saddam Hussein was faked and re-enacted for a photo-op, much as the toppling of his statue was faked in a CIA inspired piece of theater, again, as always, geared for the mollification of the US taxpayers sitting in front of their widescreen TV’s.  Phony “heroes” were created and hawked, whose exploits were later shown to be non-existent. And the troops mired in the broadening quagmire continued to die, one, two, five at a time, the death toll climbing every so slowly at a pace only noticeable by those who took the time to notice.

The Horror at Home

   At home, the crimes against the citizens continued. With their propaganda outlets firmly entrenched, the smearing of dissenters by the Republican Party churned along, unabated.  Online, liberals were threatened with death: offline they, and their perceived “allies” in Congress and the media, were mailed anthrax.  These domestic terrorists were never captured, nor were their crimes seriously investigated.  In a twisted irony, as banking and credit conglomerates were flooded with legislative largesse at the expense of the poor, a bizarre, apocalyptic exposition of “Christianity” began to rear its head in public discourse, and made its way into public policy decisions by the Administration. Public officials began braying about their “relationship with God,” and as if to prove it, began to wage an all out war against women and the poor. Women were slowly, incrementally denied the right to make their own reproductive decisions, or at least denied the right to receive any information from the government about their options. Pharmacists were encouraged to deny prescriptions to women whose personal behavior contradicted their own sense of morality.  Government websites were altered and replaced with inaccurate, often harmful information about birth control. Foreign aid to people dying of AIDS was denied unless the recipients agreed to toe the line and parrot the Administrition’s religious fantasies.  AIDS itself was virtually eliminated from the public discourse; as far as this government was concerned, it only existed in the abstract, and only in Sub-Saharan Africa, where funds once destined to treat malaria, which kills far more people, were diverted as a public relations sop to containing the disease via these ineffective, hectoring, faith-based programs.

   Sound science was deliberately rejected in favor of religious dogma. The Federal agencies responsible for providing health services and counseling to the poor were eliminated, or staffed with delusional Christian conservatives.  Science itself was ignored or re-written to conform to the peculiar viewpoints of these Dominionist extremists.  As a result, any serious consideration of the gargantuan, looming spectre of climatic change and environmental degradation were abandoned as irrelevant. The prevailing philosophy being–and I kid you not–that God’s plan for the end times was upon us and efforts to resist that plan were unChristian (and, as an aside, unprofitable).  As might be expected, the polluting mining and oil lobbies quickly recognized the advantage of an alliance with these self-deluded fantasists.

   But the real crime was the crime of omission. All of the events I describe here were ignored by those whose responsibility it was not to ignore them. The corporate media continued chasing its tail, autistically spinning in search of its fetish du jour, the flash mob coverage of missing young white women, preferably teenagers, or white children, dominating the “discussion.”  Bloviators on CNN and Fox devoted swaths of air time masturbating over these “human interest” stories as they struggled for “market share.”  The blood-curdling bad news from Iraq was ensconced in a cherry flavored gelatin, left to be picked gingerly out of the phlegmy mass of tripe by the few people who took the time to care at all.  

   In the face of looming failure, the Administration began to inject into its docile media stream ever-changing new rationales for the pointless carnage, even as the death tolls rose and the dams they erected to contain the atrocities began to collapse.  The pretense of imaginary “weapons of mass destruction” had been turned into a joke (the President himself joked about it in front of an admiring crowd representing the cream of the corporate media). The meme justifying the continued slaughter was one of “fight[ing] the terrorists over there” so we wouldn’t have to “fight them here.”   Not a single bobble-head in the corporate media seemed to take this ridiculous construction to task.  But at this point the bobble-heads may have realized their irrelevance. The genocidal fiasco had in fact resulted in a training ground for would-be terrorists, but to acknowledge that fact might have raised the legitimate question of whether it was in fact the US media who in their complacency had made us more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.  Of course, that is a question I have yet to see raised in any public forum.

   The insurgency was due, in large part, to the fact that many ordinary Iraq citizens (I don’t like the word “Iraqi” because it Indianizes them) were incensed at seeing their homes destroyed, their wives and children bombed, tortured and raped, their livelihoods eradicated and their government replaced by capitalist opportunists with no regard for their culture. While Americans dutifully swallowed the fiction that the resistance was made up of “remnants” of Saddam’s army, and “Al Quada,” the reality would have been apparent to anyone who decided to suspend the Administration’s “reality” and exercise their common sense. Nor was the fact that the existing divisions in the country would lay the groundwork for civil war beyond the comprehension of those who actually chose to think, rather than to “be thought” for.  

   Phony, rigged elections at gunpoint were trumpeted by the Administration’s fanatics, coupled with carefully staged photographs of Iraq citizens standing in line to exercise their trial in “democracy.”

This lie pacified Americans for a while longer, until once again the reality of limbless, brain-damaged young men began to intrude upon the fattened, complacent citizenry, whose idea of sacrifice consisted of a trip to the CVS to purchase a two-dollar magnet professing “support” for the troops.  Even as gasoline prices doubled at home and the bankruptcy of the enterprise grew impossible to ignore, the Republican party, through carefully orchestrated fear tactics and sloganeering still commanded the loyalty of enough citizens to re-elect the architects of the enterprise.

The Future

   At that point, and after the considerable efforts and emotions expended by your father and mother leading up to that electon, and having lost that hope, and seeing everything that I had been raised to hope for and believe in disappear into a vale of cynicism, I resolved to write you something about this time, something you will not understand through reading history, because history cannot really convey sadness and loss.  I hope more than anything in the world that you will not have to live through the disintegration of everything you believe in and that you will not have to experience this loss. For me all faith in my country has been obliterated. All interest in the arts, in music, in literature, all the things that provided me with such joy throughout my life, have all been relegated to a dark corner of my mind.  I think of God now and I feel nothing but numbness, having witnessed the utter debasement of Christianity by men whom God presumably guided into these positions of power. How can anyone find faith in the face of such rank hypocrisy?  The people propagating these crimes were the ones relying on their “faith.”  Their “faith” is destroying my country, and may possibly destroy the world.

   But it’s worse than that.  My hope for the future has been stolen from me. I no longer have any hope or confidence in future of this country or its people, because even though many, many good people are out there, the malign influence of these bastards is just too strong. They are wealthy, they are filled with passionate intensity, and they are just too powerful.  I cannot think of any period in American history when America was dominated by such unrelenting, hateful idealogues.  I wrote a few months ago that this was a particularly horrid period for America, but now I’m afraid I believe its never going to end. There is simply too much concentrated wealth, power and control for these people to simply disappear.

   As I write this the most serious calamity the world has ever seen, catastrophic, global man-made climate change, is being ignored by the US government. The manner in which it is being ignored is both cynical and depressing–science is being rewritten and falsified by the oil companies as justification for policy.  While the entire scientific community speaks with one voice on the horrible consequences of global warming, a few paid pseudoscientists are hired to whore themselves to the interests of Chevron and Exxon Mobil. And their propaganda is just as crass and cynical as the Administration’s.  The United States currently consumes one quarter of the world’s oil. If we don’t lead on this issue, the issue will never be resolved. I fear that it will not be resolved and that the world left to you when you grow up will be one on the verge of extinction. And while you may survive or even thrive in this twilight world, my fear is that your own children will not.

   You may think from reading this that your father was weak, that he simply chose to chronicle the bleakness unfolding before his eyes but did nothing to stop it. To some extent you would be right–up to now I have done little except for voting, participating in political campaigns, contributing money and writing the odd letter to the editor of the local paper. But in my defense I would say that my concerns for the last two years have focused almost exclusively on raising your brother, and now my concerns are on raising the both of you.  In truth I think I have been weakened and marginalized by the unrelenting cacophony of the haters, and shell-shocked in my disbelief at the enormity of what has happened, so quickly.  While these who are against us seem to merely flip a switch on their noise machine, like leaving the vaccuum cleaner running while the house is abandoned and its inhabitants are left for dead.  To be honest with you I despair of being to effect any meaningful change in the face of this type of power, but I can’t give up trying altogether. These words to you are just a small part of that effort.

   You need to know what type of “people” these were to really understand what I’m talking about. They are committed, virulent idealogues.  They do not care whose lives they destroy to get what they want, and if you get in their way you become their target. They will lie, steal, murder and invoke God all at the same time. They will sabotage careers, mail anthrax and bomb your house. They’ll send you threatening mail and they’ll destroy your property to intimidate you.  They will threaten your children.  If they could commit murder and get away with it they would probably find a way for their philosophy to justify it.  All because we get in the way of them making more money, and our opposition is a threat to the comfort of their ignorance and anger.  Don’t for a second think I’m exaggerating or dramatizing about the nature of these people.  Their goal, taken to its logical conclusion, is to silence and stamp out you and me.  And when you start believing they could not possibly be as bad as you suspect, they will demonstrate their true nature to you.  They are the people who will smile at you at work, who will open doors for you, who will politely engage you in restaurants and stores. But when they remove their poison political outlook from the safety of detachment and apply it in the real world, the poison nature of what they wreak reveals them to be nothing short of monsters.

   And I’ll be honest with you–the safest way to deal with these people and their unremitting bigotry, fear, and hate would probably be to crawl in a hole and hide, hoping you could survive the onslaught while focusing on your immediate needs. In some respects that is the mentality I often find myself retreating into. I used to regard this country as something special, something worth protecting and fighting for. Now I’m beginning to regard it simply as a vehicle to make some money and somehow escape.  But ultimately I find I can’t just crawl in a hole and hide. I just can’t. I’m not one of those fortunate ones who can pass through this life willfully ignorant of the insanity that is surrounding me. It would be a lot easier on my mind if I could, but I just can’t.

The Hurricane

   Since I began writing this, another disaster has struck our country. A category 5 Hurricane struck New Orleans, Mississippi, and parts of Alabama, probably the most devastating hurricane in a century. It is now six days since that hurricane made landfall. Eighty percent of New Orleans is underwater and the entire Gulf coast of Mississippi has been obliterated for at least a half a mile inland.  Thousands of New Orleans residents, most of them black and living well below the poverty level, remain trapped in the city. People are dying by the hour down there and fuel prices have gone through the roof. The economic and human devastation is going to be staggering.

   President Bush’s response has been abysmal. The second day after landfall he was vacationing in Arizona, the third day he was photographed strumming a guitar with a country music singer for a photo-op. Two nights ago he gave what the New York Times characterized as the “worst speech in his life,” full of platitudes and lies about non-existent federal aid and “prayers.”  Currently, three thousand members of Louisiana’s National Guard are preparing to die or be maimed pointlessly in Iraq, and most of their amphibious equipment is there as well. Despite assurances from Bush and that execrable traitor to the Democratic party, Bill Clinton, the mayor of New Orleans today said that “nothing is being done.” He’s right. There has been no mobilization of troops, as there should have been from day one; the few poorly trained Guardsmen available are watching helplessly as New Orleans is looted, and video footage of the victims shows bodies floating through the flooded city, children dying of malnutrition in their mothers’ arms, and impotent anger among the survivors unable to find food, water, or medicine. Local officials have termed the response a “National Disgrace.”  That’s exactly what it is.

   The most infuriating aspect about this fiasco is that some of even the physical damage may have been preventable. During the decade leading up to 2002 the levees surrounding New Orleans–the same levees that failed and allowed the ciy to flood–were under construction and refurbishing by the Army Corps of Engineers. 430 million dollars had been spent on this reinforcement, under Clinton. Under Bush, funding was halted and the 225 million necessary to complete the repairs was diverted to the Iraq war. This is not “supposition” on my part, this is acknowledged by the Army Corps of Engineers and it’s in the public record. Despite the protests of local officials, the Republican Congress saw fit to waste the money that likely could have minimized the impact of this horrific natural disaster by using it to make their own man-made disaster worse. The magnitude of this criminal negligence is staggering.

  In her cold, predictable fashion, Barbara Bush, the matriarch of this foul clan, who once declared that she wouldn’t want to sully her “beautiful mind” with intrusive thoughts of soldiers dying in Iraq, opined yesterday that the “underprivileged” (which I suppose is Kennebunkport-ese for “black”), were doing “quite well” as they had been afforded the wonderful opportunity to leave their presumably squalid homes and families in New Orleans for temporary cots in the Houston Astrodome.

  This cold, inhuman indifference, this chortling depravity is the most sickening aspect of this disaster, but it pales with the recognition that, apocalyptic pronouncements of future disasters notwithstanding, no meaningful measures are likely to be established to prevent or protect against its recurrence.  The Congress is likely to remain in the hands of the malevolent Republicans as gerrymandering and redistricting have been engineered to keep them in power in perpetuity.  As far as the victims of Katrina are concerned, the likelihood is that they will be treated and portrayed as unwanted and undeserving refugees by these “Southern strategists.”


   To put it bluntly, I dont expect much in terms of improvement.   I don’t know what country you’ll be living in by the time you’re old enough to appreciate these words, but I can tell you it’s unlikely to be anything close to the United States that I knew as my home.  My dilemna, and that of your mother as well, is how we can preserve the opportunities that came with being born in this incredibly affluent country while somehow navigating through the evil that has taken it over. I can tell you that despite the gross wealth disparities towards which this country is heading, education and awareness are stil critical to happiness. Despite the contempt for art, music, literature, history and science evinced by the fools currently running the country, my hope is still that you can find time in your lives to learn about, experience and appreciate all of these.  You are unbelievably fortunate to be born into fairly affluent circumstances. I hope you will one day appreciate how incredibly lucky you are. You are richer and healthier than 99% of the world’s population. By the time you read this, hundreds of millions of children born into lesser circumstances will have been born, lived, and died of disease, violence and poverty. Millions will have no knowledge of clean running water, plane trips, or even the concept of a “vacation.”  Most will not learn to read and write, and will always be the uncomprehending victims of those whose birthright should have taught them better. Most will never operate a computer, own a car, or experience one of the hundreds of inventions I can’t even to begin to imagine that will be created by the time you two come of age.  As you grow older and live your lives, don’t forget that these people exist, and always try to have compassion for those who cannot rely on the luck and good fortune you have experienced. Never, ever take anything in this life for granted, even as you are tempted to do so all your lives.

   Despite the best efforts of those who will attempt to control what you think, and despite the complacency that flows from being born into a world of relative wealth and privilege, always try to remember that beneath the veneer of custom and established comforts of material things and the constant, multiplying diversions this society throws at you, that this civilization and humanity are all very fragile and hang by a thread, at the whims of nature.  Mankind has fallen far behind its inventions in the evolutionary progression and the biological shock engendered by this fact has heightened its capacity for collective, reactionary evil. It breaks my heart that you will likely see these things come to fruition in your lifetime, but my ignoring the danger wouldn’t serve anyone, least of all you, who I care about more than anything in the world.  The best I can do is prepare you and make you strong, and I will dedicate the rest of my life to doing that.


  1. Memory.

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