Tuesday, September 13, 2005
by Wayne Besen
I look out of my window in Brooklyn and see a beam of light soaring skyward from the World Trade Center site. Following the tragedy of 9-11, I found this luminous image greatly inspiring, as it represented America's steely determination to rebuild the Twin Towers and defeat Al Qaeda.
Four years later, this grand incandescent spectacle is just as symbolic. This time, however, it highlights George W. Bush's utter failure to capitalize on the catastrophe to unify America and build a stronger nation. Like the President's lofty post 9-11 promises and patriotic speeches, if one looks past the shimmering light, there is a big empty, hollow pit of nothingness.
Mirroring the Bush presidency, the beam is an illusion, distracting America from substantive public policy. In the most powerful nation in world history, four years have slipped by and Ground Zero stands for the amount of work that has been done at the vacant site. Not a brick has been laid. It is a painful black hole of broken dreams and meaningless rhetoric.
If we travel from the Big Empty to the Big Easy, we find another barren hellhole that this administration promises to rebuild. However, with no credibility, who can believe what Bush, Condi and Rummy have to say? If one thing New Orleans and New York have exposed, it is that modern conservatism is an ill-conceived experiment that has failed. It is an amoral, elitist political propaganda machine that is consumed with nothing more than achieving power and rewarding the friends of the powerful.
For example, ABC News discovered that the federal government listed Operation Blessing
only second to the American Red Cross as a charity Americans should donate to following Hurricane Katrina. This happens to be Bush friend and televangelist Pat Robertson's personal "relief agency".
"It could be worth tens of millions of dollars," Richard Walden, president and founder of Operation USA, a non-governmental organization specializing in disaster relief, told ABC News.
With such a lucrative endorsement, one might suspect that Operation Blessing was a top-notch organization beyond reproach. But according to the Internal Revenue Service, Operation Blessing gave more than half of its yearly cash donations to Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. Even in a time of crisis, the shameless Bush never misses an opportunity to reward his shady friends. Perhaps Robertson will use some of your Katrina money to plot the assassination of a meddlesome dictator in South America.
His approval rating plummeting to 39 percent in an Associated Press poll
, Bush is resorting to his old parlor trick of invoking God, as a ruse to distract the nation from his God-awful performance. The President has declared Friday a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. I support the event, but it might not be necessary if it weren't for the unholy political events that preceded it.
Perhaps, we would not have to pray for the homeless if the President hadn't cut the budget for the levee system in New Orleans. Maybe, if Bush hadn't named the embarrassingly unqualified Michael Brown as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, we wouldn't be gathering to remember the dead. Like Pat Robertson, who uses prayer to guide hurricanes to dens of iniquity, Bush dangerously misuses, and even abuses, prayer for political gain.
Healthy prayer is when one humbly asks God for the wisdom and strength to create emergency plans in advance that might save lives. Prayer becomes unhealthy, however, when one decides preparation is not a priority because God will take care of everything.
Praying to God does not mean that one can ignore God's laws of nature. If you don't shore up the levees, New Orleans will eventually flood. If you start a war of choice in Iraq and then fail to send in enough troops, the war effort will eventually unravel. If you cut taxes in a time of war, you will incur large deficits. If you don't make rebuilding the World Trade Center a priority, it will remain an empty pit in the heart of downtown Manhattan.
I think America should also have A National Day of Competence where Bush purges his legions of hacks and patronage pals and replaces them with trained professionals. Prayer is fine, but it is not a substitute for experience and job qualifications. Until this crony cleansing occurs, don't bet on your prayers being answered.
As I look out my window at the light shooting out of the darkness, I'm reminded that for all of Bush's tough talk and squandering of our nation's treasure we are less safe than ever. Last year, there were 651 "significant terrorist attacks", triple the year before and the highest since the State Department began keeping statistics more than twenty years ago. I turn on my television and the haunting images of dead bodies floating in one of America's most unique cities still fill the screen.
Whether it is in the Big Empty or the Big Easy, George Bush has consistently come up small. In his second-term, he had desperately hoped to avoid lame duck status. Thanks to a failed stew of policies, reality has taken control of the Bush presidency and he is now paddling for his political life in the sewage-filled duck pond that was once known as the city of New Orleans.
Fortunately, there was such a public outcry against pat robertson's Operation Fleecing, i mean 'blessing', that it was removed from the FEMA website.
posted by , at
I suspect Robertson wanted off the list when he realized it was likely to inspire a very public investigation into what he actually does with his 'charity' offerings.
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