Dramatic License

A weblog of thoughts, inspirations, experiences of, in and about live theatre, film, television, literature and other media.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Rant - Dear Mr. President: Give Me Back My Liberty; I’ve Had Enough of Death

Dear Mr. President,

I am a proud and patriotic American. My heroes include George Washington, John Adams, Patrick Henry and James Madison. My father was a member of “The Greatest Generation,” serving his country as a young man by sweeping floors at the local USO during World War II.

I am also a proud Mensan. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am any smarter than anyone else, but it does mean that I think a lot more than a lot of people. Lately, I have been thinking a lot more than usual. My thoughts have brought me to the point where I feel the need to ask some hard questions of this Administration and of the American people.

The other day I was sitting and thinking about your administration and where it was taking us. I had the distinct impression that I had seen this somewhere before. Was it a movie? What movie was set during the middle of an unpopular war with a looming gas crisis and a President who lied to his people? No, no, no. It wasn’t a movie. It was the Nixon administration: Vietnam, the oil embargo, Watergate. Is it possible that this Bush administration is destined to be even worse than the Nixon administration, the administration that is synonymous with corruption? Apparently Vietnam only taught us how to treat our soldiers better in a time of war and when they return home, if they do return home. It didn’t teach us how to avoid another Vietnam.

Mr. President, it is time for you to answer some questions. Here are the hard questions that are on my mind.

1. How is this little excursion into Iraq keeping me safe from terrorism? Where are the weapons of mass destruction you swore we would find there? How many of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks have you rounded up in Baghdad? When are you going to face the fact that you lied to us and we know it? Congress gave you everything you wanted to continue to prosecute this ill-advised adventure with the one stipulation that you commit to a gradual withdrawal. What did you do? You vetoed it as catering to the whims of the terrorists. It takes a big man to admit defeat. I guess we know how big a man you are.

2. How does emptying my shampoo, hand lotion and mouthwash before getting on a plane keep me safe while I am flying? How does taking off my shoes for airport inspection keep me safe while I am flying? How does targeting people with common names like John Smith and James Taylor and making them go through extra security screening keep me safe while I am flying? Not one of the 9/11 hijackers took a liquid explosive on board. Not one of them planted a bomb in their shoes. Not one of them traveled under an alias that sounded like a common American name. They all carried simple sharp objects. They all traveled under their own real names.

3. How does building a fence or a wall along the Mexican border keep me safe from the threat of terrorist invasion? Not one of the 9/11 terrorists came into the US across the Mexican border. Not one of them was an illegal alien. They were all in the US legally. Most had entered the US from ports on the East Coast or from Canada. All had valid passports and visas. Please don’t build a wall along the border. I don’t want to watch in 30 years as some Mexican president stands at the wall saying, “Sr. presidente, rasga esta pared abajo.”

4. Why have you insisted on making it so difficult to go to Canada and Mexico? I haven’t been to Canada since I was a high school sophomore and went to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. I never exercised my freedom to cross freely into Canada to visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, but I always could if I would. Now I can’t, so I won’t.

5. How does banning gay marriage keep me safe from terrorists? Why is gay marriage a political issue, anyway? I don’t recall any of the 9/11 terrorists being gay. Was the anti-gay marriage thing all a smoke screen for preserving tax revenue? I think it was. When you and your cronies were first elected in 2000, the first things you did were reform torte laws making it harder for people to file for bankruptcy, an occurrence that is going to become more common in the current economy, create permanent tax breaks for the wealthy and eliminate the so-called death tax. Spouses have always been able to inherit without tax penalty. But children and non-related benefactors have always had to pay inheritance taxes. Until the elimination of the death tax, estates of considerable size were taxed regardless of who was inheriting. No more. Wow, if gay men and lesbians were able to marry, then they could inherit tax-free. We can’t have that, now can we? Follow the money. Stop disguising greedy policies behind a smoke screen of misplaced morality.

6. How can you sit idly by and watch your cronies profit off the backs of the working class by allowing gas prices to increase at an alarming rate and watch their companies profit at an equally alarming rate? Gasoline is not a luxury item; it is a commodity. However, we are allowing rampant inflation to turn it into a luxury. When are you going to do something about this? Our freedom to travel the country has been severely limited by your and your cronies’ thirst for profits.

7. How does monitoring my library usage, my book purchases and my Internet surfing habits keep me safe from terrorism? If I want to read the Koran, that’s my business. If I want to find out about the terrorist organizations that threaten us by reading their websites, that’s my business, too. Maybe if we could and would freely read their literature we would understand them better and come up with a real solution that would end all the death and dying.

8. What happened to “compassionate conservatism?” Your finest hours, and this is merely relative, were the days from 9/11 until your famous “Axis of Evil” State of the Union address in January 2002. In that scant 120 or so days, you did some of your best work, and some of your worst. I applaud the conquest of Afghanistan in response to 9/11. I commend you for following every bombing raid with humanitarian aid drops. Why didn’t you do the same thing in Iraq? Were the Iraqi people less worthy than the Afghans? Wouldn’t a little of that “compassion” have gone a long way to deterring the Iraqis from behaving the way they are now?

While these are all tough questions that you must answer, Mr. President, there are equally tough questions that the American people need to answer as well.

1. When did we Americans lose our balls and become a flock of blind following sheep? What happened to the Spirit of ’76? What happened to the spirit of the Age of Aquarius and the generation that actually tried to change the world for the better? Did you all grow rich and fat and lazy after your moment in the sun? Two hundred and thirty two years ago, American colonists, outraged at the rising costs of a commodity item, tea, brought on by the so-called Intolerable Acts, stormed ships in Boston and threw tons of tea into the harbor in protest. With the outrageous and blatant price gouging going on in the oil industry today, why are we not storming the corporate headquarters of these robber barons and shouting, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore?” Why aren’t we throwing tanker loads of Texas tea into the Gulf of Mexico?

2. Why are our Christian religious leaders supporting the carnage we are wreaking in the Middle East? How can the ambassadors of the Prince of Peace possibly condone this? Where are the religious leaders with the guts to say, as Arthur Miller’s Reverend Hale said in The Crucible, “cleave to no faith when faith brings blood . . . life is God’s most precious gift; no principle however glorious may justify the taking of it?” Where is today’s Martin Luther King, Jr.? If God is Love, then why are God’s people banging the drums of war? How can we possibly applaud a Christian leader who publicly calls for the assassination of a sitting head of state of a sovereign nation? When did Jesus command his followers to kill Caesar? We are no better than the terrorists we are attempting to fight if we do not adhere to higher principles.

3. What happened to our leaders? Where have they gone? Why haven’t we Americans sought out better ones? Why don’t you people get out and exercise the one liberty that defines us and separates us from the rest of the world: voting? Do you not care? Is it inconvenient for you? Do you not register to vote simply because you don’t want to serve on a jury? You had better get out and vote now, because at the current rate of personal liberty erosion, you won’t be permitted to vote within a few decades. FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Right now we are running scared. Fear makes us do stupid things. Look at Germany in 1932. Fear motivated intelligent, civilized, modern people to allow themselves to be legally usurped by Adolf Hitler. Don’t let fear of the terrorists make this happen in the US.

“Friends, [Americans], countrymen, lend me your ears.” We have been on the road to Abilene for far too long. As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” We have dug ourselves a hole so deep that we may not dig ourselves out of it in my lifetime. The best way to dig oneself out of a hole is to stop digging. Now is the time for all good men (and women and children) to come to the aid of their country. Mr. President, give me back my liberty; I’ve had enough of death.