by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
November 10, 2006
FOR VETERANS, NOW IS THE TIME TO WAKE UP AND FIGHT
BRADENTON, Fla. -- This low-tech backwater on the southern Gulf Coast of Florida observes Veterans Day today with unusual zeal. At all the American Legion posts the public is invited to lunch for free or a dollar or five, there's a parade in nearby Palmetto, across the Manatee River, and a week-long American Patriotism Celebration has been underway for days. The local Bradenton Herald is full of articles and ads about the various events, and every state, county and city office and agency except the police department is closed down.
How ironic it is, then, that these men who fought for our freedoms in wars new and old are largely part of the vast movement that is steadily giving them away. Every time the White House and certain elected officials say we need to sacrifice some of our liberties for security against terrorism, they are in the vanguard of the movement away from the Bill of Rights. Does someone need to tap our telephones, hold us in prisons without charges, isolate us from our lawyers, or sift through our bank accounts? "Go right ahead," these grizzled geezers say, "I have nothing to hide."
When our glorious leader is caught in a lie, their glorious trumpet, Rush Limbaugh, leads their glorious choir in defending his lies. Admittedly, he said two days ago that he is sick of doing that "for people who don't deserve it," but he is still the same deaf and drug-addicted conservative he always was, always standing at the ready to defend people like Mark Foley the pervert and Tom Delay the influence-peddler and Bob Ney the crook by pointing his finger at someone else in the past or present of the Democratic Party. Like the army of the lame and halt he leads, he has nothing bad to say about our loss of precious freedoms, and nothing good to say about anyone who stands up to defend them.
As a onetime Republican whose roots in the party go all the way back to that bloody battlefield at Gettysburg and the great man whose compassion saved my great-grandfather's life; as one whose own grandfather topped the most powerful and corrupt Democrat in the nation, Christy Sullivan of Tammany Hall, and whose great-grandfather was thrown down a flight of stairs by and killed by Democrats in an election riot at the turn of the century; and as one whose uncle and grandfather were the only two Republicans elected in New York City in the course of a century, it has grieved me deeply to think I once kept company with these mice of modern conservatism. I can remember when I was proud to be a conservative Republican, jealous of our rights, defending them all, and defending the strength and vitality of our nation. Now I have to be a Democrat to feel that way.
But it's not all about Republicans and Democrats. It's about the betrayal of America.
Deep in my blood, I liken this Admninistration to Communists, because they do precisely every thing that our first-grade teachers told us Communists would do. They make every truth a lie, they disgrace the good, they control the airwaves to spew rotten propaganda, and they lead the way in selling out not only our freedoms but our working men and women to the Chinese Communists. They let the Chinese steal our technology, bankrupt our industries, buy up all our debt, take over our major corporations; they oppress the middle class and lavish wealth upon the rich, all while waving American flags and telling us how much they love the country they have cheated, pillaged and disgraced.
As veterans, you joined a bunch of like-minded liars who turned away a genuine war hero to elect a pair of cowardly noncombatants who respectively went AWOL from the National Guard during wartime and claimed seven deferments to avoid service. What brave, fearless leaders! You ignored the torture of dozens of innocent people - and, all right, the torture of hundreds of guilty ones - as though the Geneva Convention did not also protect our own men and women in uniform.
They have given away the wealth of our national resources to their cronies in the oil business, forced the elderly to jump hoops to get expensive prescriptions, allowed the credit card companies and banks to take tens of billions out of the pockets of the indebted with usurious interest rates and huge overlimit and late payment fees, and driven the stock market to new highs by driving hundreds of thousands of small businesses out of business so their Enron buddies could rule the roost. They let a cabal of energy companies steal the $21-billion surplus California's imagination and innovative energy had earned it, all to pay a debt of gratitude to their single largest contributor, Ken Lay. They gave away hard-earned billions to the Bechtels and Halliburtons and Brown & Roots again, just as they had in Vietnam, hiding the cost in the name of national security and their great patriotic war.
Do I sound angry? Where's the joy at winning back the Senate and the House on Nov. 7? I feel no joy. Like most older Americans, I have become increasingly isolated as the national conversation has descended into drivel, our music has become meaningless, our movies become garbage, our books a literary wasteland, our children a hundred million narcissists on YouTube and MySpace contending for the honor of the most raw, most violent, most cruel, most stupid, most ugly, most slavish and most high. A generation, someone said yesterday, has been utterly lost because their education was so impoverished by their schools and their culture.
Back when the guys who are getting drunk at the Legion hall today had just gotten home from their war, America was another country, and in many ways, a far, far better one. We were a nation respectful of our allies, because we had fought and died with them in the Black Forest and the Ardennes, at Normandy, on Iwo Jima and at Monte Cassino. We all bought poppies from frail old men and women who remembered the immortal lines we memorized in school about Flanders' Fields.
Who can blame them for getting drunk and giving away their rights? In their stupor, they signed away their right to a majority vote here in Florida when they want to amend their state constitution; they elected what many say is a closeted gay Republican as Governor, even though he will let his pals in the insurance world drive them out of their homes if they can't pay the rates when their mortgages require them to; they gave up the elderly, the innocent and helpless to the greed of lawyers, banks, health care giants and drug companies.
So go ahead and celebrate today, you proud veterans of our great wars. Go to live in the past, where you did something decent and right and true, because the present you have created shames and disgraces each and every one of you who claim to cherish our freedoms and our American way of life.
I only ask you this: Why did you come home and give up the fight?