What New Era? Its Old Politics in Red White & Blue

What New Era? Its Old Politics in Red White & Blue
Posted by FoM on November 14, 2001 at 07:54:51 PT
By Peter Schrag 
Source: Sacramento Bee
In the days after Sept. 11, the one thing most of us thought we knew for sure was that we'd entered a new era -- the frightening realization that America was no longer immune to the dangers and uncertainties that afflicted the rest of the world. We were in a struggle, unlike any we'd known, that could last indefinitely. The old politics was a thing of the past. Government was, for the moment, trusted again. But two months into our new, ill-defined "war" on terrorism, you have to start wondering: What new era? 
With every passing day, much of our public life looks more like the old era wrapped in new patriotic bunting.To be sure, Americans are rallying around the flag, as they always do in such situations. The most recent polls still show not only high approval ratings for the president, but also a marked increase in support even for political hitchhikers such as California Gov. Gray Davis.But with some exceptions, our leaders look and act like the same old politicians catering to the same economic and ideological interest groups.Congress' first major piece of post-attack legislation was the $15 billion airline bailout bill, essentially a gift to corporate shareholders. This by a government (that supposedly celebrates the free market) acting on behalf of an industry that for years had vehemently fought the tougher security measures that might have prevented the calamity. If the customers show up, the planes will fly, bailout or no bailout. Even Monday's disaster in New York can't change that.Then there's the House economic "stimulus" bill, consisting of such blatant corporate tax breaks and so little for workers that it embarrassed even some Republicans. This wasn't a response to recession or the new post-Sept. 11 circumstances; it was a payoff to corporate donors who hadn't gotten theirs in the first round of tax cuts.Meanwhile, the airline security bill, which should have been among the first orders of business, and which the Senate passed by 100-0, was being blocked by Rep. Tom DeLay and other House conservatives who oppose any increase in the number of people on the federal payroll, even if it means further delays in improving airline safety. All that despite the scandalous record of companies such as Argenbright Security that have consistently failed to catch people with weapons or screen their own employees, as the law requires.The list goes on: The administration, preparing for a possible cutoff of Middle East oil, is moving to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but so far there's been not one step to restore any effective program to reduce the nation's profligate consumption of energy. Gas guzzling, it seems, is the American way.Finally there's Attorney General John Ashcroft's campaign to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients to die under Oregon's assisted suicide law or who prescribe marijuana under the medical marijuana laws passed by California voters and those in seven other states. So even as the White House purports to make war on religious extremists in Afghanistan, it's doing the work of a religious faction at home.This is not just a matter of an administration that claims to support states' rights trying to overturn state laws. Nor, in the case of Ashcroft's attacks on Oregon's assisted suicide law, is it just an assault on medical practice, itself subject to state -- not federal -- regulation. It's a warning that any physician who prescribes what some federal agent regards as too much morphine to alleviate pain could lose his right to prescribe any drugs, and thus his right to practice.Both the wisdom of the Oregon law and the initiative process by which it was passed are subject to serious question. But when Ashcroft says that federal Drug Enforcement Agency operatives can easily discern the "important medical, ethical and legal distinctions between intentionally causing a patient's death and providing sufficient dosages of pain medication necessary to eliminate or alleviate pain," he doesn't know what he's talking about.For many terminal patients, there's no bright line between them. The very process of alleviating pain may hasten death, and if DEA agents can swoop down on doctors in Oregon, they can just as readily swoop down on them in California or Ohio.All this is going on even as the Justice Department seems no closer to any real break either on the Sept. 11 attacks or to the source of the anthrax that's terrorized Washington.On the contrary, it's become increasingly apparent that, even allowing for the things that nobody knew about anthrax at the beginning of this scare, the feds fumbled the investigation both within and between agencies. Given that record, and given the continuing threat of terrorism and the stretched federal manpower available to meet it, how on Earth can the feds justify diverting resources to attacks on doctors and their terminally ill patients?Is this the new era?Complete Title: Peter Schrag: What New Era? It's Old Politics in Red, White and BlueSource: Sacramento Bee (CA)Author: Peter Schrag Published: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Sacramento BeeContact: opinion sacbee.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Medical Marijuana Information Links and Liberty - Washington Times Order Based on Supreme Court Ruling Feds Crack Down - on Medical Marijuana
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Comment #3 posted by Dan B on November 15, 2001 at 02:48:02 PT:
Gas Guzzlers and War
Gas guzzling, it seems, is the American way.How true that is. In the month following the 9/11 attacks, consumer spending increased 7.1 percent--the largest recorded increase in history. Most of the country's sales went up only about 1%--except for one industry that dominated all others: automobile manufacturing.That's right: Americans apparently have decided that the best way to respond to the nation's "uncertain times" is to buy another gas-guzzler. Never mind that oil production will peak within the next year, but demand will continue to increase well into the next decade, causing (according to at least some people's analyses) an economic decline that will make the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s seem like Christmas. Worse yet, I think we are playing right into the hands of the oil barons.Think of it this way: if the Taliban figured out that banning opium production for a year would drive up the price for that commodity, don't you think it is also possible for someone to have realized that flying airplanes into buildings would decrease airline travel (who wants to take the risk of being hijacked and flown into a tall building, after all?), thereby transferring a large portion of oil consumption from airplanes to the less efficient automobile? The result? Rapid increase in demand for oil just as production reaches its absolute limit. What happens, then, when the Bush administration realizes all of this? They declare war on a country that will be central to maintaining some semblance of control over the Middle East. Think about it: they have troops in Saudi Arabia, so by installing an America-friendly government in Afghanistan they effectively sandwich the richest oil reserves in the world. Troops on both sides of the Persian Gulf--plus easy access to Russia and China. In other words, Afghanistan is not an end; it is a means to an end. What we are seeing now is not the big war; it is preparation for the big war. And it's not a war on terrorism at all; it is a war to protect America's oil gluttony, thus a war to protect the economic interests of global petroleum conglomerates centered not in the Middle East, but in the United States. And Great Britain.The plan is twofold: gain control of the oil overseas, and gain control of the American people. Right now, American troops have been strategically placed in Colombia (hello, Venezuela) and on both sides of the Persian Gulf, all with the backing and blessings (sad to say) of the majority of Americans (at least according to the biased network polls). But the Bush administration knows there will come a time when Americans are tired of having their sons and daughters return home in flag-draped metal coffins. Thus, the new "Office of Homeland Security," the goals of which are to identify any threats to "national security" (read: "dissidents and seditionists," i.e., you and me) and destroy them (e.g., genocide). Peaceful protest will become a thing of the past. Freedom of speech will be nonexistent. Actually, it will be redefined as "you have the freedom to say what you like as long as it agrees with the objectives of the American government." The Green party has already lost its freedom of speech: where's the public outcry? Where are the "objective journalists"? There is already no such thing as the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth amendments to the Constitution. The ninth and tenth went out the window long ago. Anyone care to take a guess as to how long it will be before we have troops in our homes?So far the plan is going off without a hitch. Americans have bit the "war on terrorism" bait--hook, line and sinker. What they don't understand is that when they swallow, the Bush administration will tug the line and rip their guts out their throats. It is, in fact, already happening.Farfetched? Read the interview and article by Stan Goff at for some background. Check out his links, too. It's coming, folks, and it won't be pretty.Dan B
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Comment #2 posted by Jeaneous on November 14, 2001 at 14:50:40 PT:
Sac Bee
I wrote to Mr. Schrag to thank him for his story covering the abuse of the Federal Government seizing records in another article.This article hits it even more on the head. I appreciate that this man is speaking out. The Bee has been great in the last two weeks with reporting these issues. But it took alot of letters by my husband and I along with many other I assume to stop the blockout of coverage.It's a start. I hope he and others continue.
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Comment #1 posted by Sudaca on November 14, 2001 at 09:18:04 PT
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