Friday, Mar. 05, 2004
Dear Diary:

It's either throw a brick through my tee vee or write this, and since we're too broke to buy another tee vee -- and the spousal unit will kill me if he can't watch Star Trek -- then rant it is.

Every time I turn on the news I feel that much more depressed and angry. A government spending scandal here in Canada. Haiti. Iraq. The tone of the debate over gay marriage in the U.S. The way the current U.S. administration seems intent on wiping out the line between church and state.

I thought I had bottomed out when I saw a clip on Jon Stewart's show, a clip in which a reporter from the New York Times faced the final four Democratic presidential candidates and asked them in all seriousness if they thought that "God was on our side".

Ah, but the absolute nadir was yet to come. In the March 8 issue of the New Yorker there's a piece by Dan Baum about a wounded American soldier who's home now from Iraq. Baum interviewed him and other wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital.

"It was possible to forget how young some of the soldiers were as they told their stories of wounds and weapons, of campaigns and tactics, and of the time one of them, under orders to do nothing, watched a crowd of Iraqi men drop a woman who was said to be an adulteress from a high bridge ("We were, like, 'Fuck!'")"

Fuck. My thoughts, exactly.

Apologists for the current U.S. administration says things such as, "Okay, so we were wrong about the whole Saddam Has Weapons of Mass Destruction and He's Going to Hurt Us Any Minute Thing. Our bad. But look, we've freed the Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam."

Yeah, freed them like that woman was freed, to face Islamic vigilante justice while U.S. soldiers watched. Freed them to face 50 per cent unemployment for almost a year now. Freed them to face the lawless streets that come when desperate people who can't find work will do what they must to feed their families. Freed them from clean drinking water, stable electricity, gasoline--the basics you need to function in day-to-day life and rebuild a society.

Yeah, the war was a thing of beauty, wonderfully planned, a technological marvel. It is a tribute to the courage and skill of the American military and I have nothing but respect for these people and the sacrifices they have made.

But these people have been let down by the politicians who are supposed to be looking out for them, and even the most rabid supporters of the war have to admit that the U.S. went into Iraq without an exit plan. That whole "We'll make up the peace as we go along" dealio hasn't been working so well.

The Vision Thing. It's kind of a good idea to elect leaders who have The Vision Thing, who don't just think about the world in terms such as, "He tried to kill my daddy". Presidents who have The Vision Thing realize that there has to be a plan for the aftermath of war.

A historically aware president would have absorbed that through his knowledge of The Marshall Plan which stands as a wonderful tribute to what is best about the United States.

Sadly, the U.S. is currently governed by a man so historically unaware that he reportedly turned to the German Chancellor during the run up to the Iraq war and expressed disbelief that a leader could gas citizens of his own country. Yeah, he said that to the leader of Germany, a country once headed by a guy called Adolph Hitler.

Oh, and that whole refusing to take the time to build a meaningful coalition of major countries? Ah, that was pure genius. 'Cause, see, as the Iraqis look around now and see everything that's broken in their country, they know exactly where to place the credit because one country liberated them without taking the time to build international consensus and come in with a team.

Oh, and basically spitting in the face of the one organization that organizes peacekeepers, the soldiers who might have come in to help out U.S. forces after the war? That "irrelevant" United Nations?

Ah. Well. That Vision Thing.

President Bush billed himself as the great uniter. And yet when I look at the news I see a country that's isolated internationally and internally polarized.

The economy is in tatters--jobs are evaporating, and the man who came into office with a surplus has racked up the biggest deficit ever. He claims to celebrate the extraordinary strengths of his country, but he has subverted or tried to subvert two of the most amazing things about it -- its democracy and its justice system.

The use of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to deny justice to prisoners is not the United States I have known all my life. Trying to amend the Constitution to take away rights from people or impose a president's religious beliefs upon its citizens is not the United States I have known all my life.

I know. Not my country. But it's my world. When the guy in control of the biggest, most powerful military machine on the planet starts making up reasons for getting his war on in the Middle East--one of the most volatile places on the planet--and marches in without any clear plan for fixing things afterwards, I find it very hard to see my world with a twinkle in my eye.

See, for me it's all very personal. My only child works in the head office of a major bank. It's a good job, the kind of job that doesn't exactly grow on trees anymore. The problem is, the high rise building also houses the Israeli consulate.

There are protests in front of her building all the time. There's also security, keycards and bulletproof glass but when someone sends tanks into the Arab world and actually makes life even worse for the people there, I wonder how long desperation and rage rooted in another corner of the planet can be contained there.

So that's why I have been so quiet here. I know. What a drama queen. It's nuts to be this miserable. Spring is coming. In a few weeks my beloved gardens will resurrect themselves and I can go outside and play in the mud. Heck, I'll be freed of treadmill and be able to do my running outside. Sweet.

For now I'm going to ignore the news, switch channels when the American political ads come on and focus on the parts of my life I can control. This, of course, would be everything but my hair, cats, spousal unit, monster dust bunnies and buttal region.

Oh, man. Now I'm even more depressed ...

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 208.08 miles. Ten percent there rubber duck.Ten percent there rubber duck.
Oh man. This is going to be hard
Goal for 2004: 1,000 miles - 1609 kilometers

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