Democratic Underground

Santa Baby, Make These Wishes Come True

November 29, 2005
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

Let us stipulate that maybe much in the list below is not going to happen. But one sits on Santa's lap not for the certainty that the presents requested will be under the tree on Christmas Day, but because we can voice our hopes out loud to a stand-in for our preferred diety that perhaps, just perhaps, a few of our wishes will be granted.

With that understood, here is what I - representing, I think, a goodly number of Americans roughly from the center-left to the center-right - want for Christmas. Oh please, Santa, make at least some of these come true.

1. Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald obtains pre-Christmas indictments of Cheney, Rove, Rice, Feith, Hadley and others in the outing of a CIA agent (a crime George H. W. Bush called "traitorous"), and for lying to Congress in order to get authorization for a war that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.

2. Indictments are unsealed for Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, Dick Cheney, Gen. Jeffrey Miller and others for concocting legal theories officially sanctioning torture of detainees in U.S care. The avalanche of these, and the Plamegate/Iraq War, indictments leads to a clamor for impeachment as more and more traditional GOP leaders abandon the White House.

3. Congress, led by GOP members desperate to get re-elected, passes a resolution calling for phased U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, beginning ASAP. Bush, desperate to maintain Republican control of the House and thus stave off impeachment talk, makes moves in that direction; he says he'll withdraw thousands now and maybe as many as 50-60,000 next summer, "unless the security situation requires our presence." Congress doesn't buy it - they suspect Bush will re-insert U.S. troops in-country after the 2006 election - and votes to cut funding for the Iraq war.

4. As a result of the GOP defections, indictments of top officials, and the growing corruption scandals, the GOP loses its majority in both the House and Senate in 2006.

5. GOP leaders in the House, Senate and business community visit the White House to tell Bush and Cheney that they have lost the confidence of the public, and are endangering the future of continuing conservative rule; Bush and Cheney are urged to resign.

6. Because Bush and Cheney do not resign, impeachment hearings begin in the House, a bill of impeachment is rendered, and Senate trial date is set. The Senate votes to convict Bush and Cheney. The new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, becomes President. She is sworn in by the Chief Justice - and, notably, also by new Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

7. The Bush tax cuts, which mostly benefit the already-wealthy, are repealed by Congress. Numerous GOP members, who formerly supported the tax breaks, use as their rationale that the hundreds of billions of dollars should go first to fund important social programs and infrastructure upkeep. The budgets for those programs are significantly increased.

8. The mass-media, having supported the Bush Administration through it all, sink even further in public esteem. To save their hides, and their bottom-line profitability, they take the desperate step of reporting the truth. Their circulation and viewership begins to rise; the neo-con crazies - Limbaugh, Savage, Coulter, O'Reilly, Hannity, et al. - are dropped by a good share of the radio and cable networks, due to a massive drop in ratings.

9. The insurance industry, seeing the global warming handwriting on the wall and going broke paying out claims for floods and hurricanes and pollution-caused deaths, leans on Congress to enact strict greenhouse-emission limits on manufacturing; automakers double their fuel-efficiency standards, and the government once again pays more attention to science and less to faith-based and profit-based lobbyists.

10. Noting the many questions raised about the integrity of the election process under a computer-voting system, all states return to paper ballots, hand-counted, with party observers verifying the honesty of the vote-tally. In addition, investigations are held to determine the validity of the 2000, 2002, and 2004 federal elections and the 2005 balloting in Ohio. A number of Diebold technicians testify under oath that they manipulated ballot numbers on orders of their superiors; officials of the GOP-supporting computer-voting companies are indicted.

11. Spurred on by the success they had in championing a phased withdrawal from Iraq, the Democrats in Congress decide to reacquaint themselves with their spines on other issues as well. A true, two-party system emerges, with civil debate on the issues. Academics likewise feel more free to state their political views publicly, and are especially effective in the non-renewal of many of the Patriot Act's worst sections.

12. The U.S. government, anxious to reduce the major reasons for extreme Islamic terrorism in the world, works tirelessly to broker a just peace between Israel and Palestine. The two states work out ways to live side by side - Israel is guaranteed security within its borders by the Palestinians, now that it has withdrawn its settlers from the West Bank, and Palestine has a viable, contiguous state; both sides agree to pacts on water rights, job-creation, and joint administration of Jerusalem. Terrorism begins to decrease overnight; the U.S. is more secure at home.

MOVING ON FROM THE WISHES

So, there they are: the 12 wishes that could turn our country around, permitting us to start undoing the enormous domestic and international damage effected during the past five years, and implementing a more helpful, positive program.

But wishes don't make it so. So how to help a burdened Santa make them come true?

Yes, the imploding Bush Administration - beset by scandals, corruption, incompetence, arrogance, bullyboys, whistleblowers, ignorance - is doing its part to bring itself down. But the rest of us have roles to play as well.

In the main, those roles involve organizing, talking truth to power, and keeping the momentum-ball rolling.

HELPING THE GRASSROOTS GROW

Money is a big part of political organizing, sending our donations and energies to where they can do the most good. Find the party or grassroots group or lobbying organization with which you feel most politically comfortable, and help provide them the funds - and/or donate some of your time to them in battling the forces of regression and violence.

Two of our friends, just for a simple example, host monthly dinner parties for activist-minded colleagues and neighbors; each such evening includes composing hand-written letters to local or national officials on a particular issue. At times, especially on local issues, it's clear their letters have had a demonstrable impact on local pols' decision-making.

(Note: When a legislator receives a handwritten or typed letter from an actual constituent - not a form-letter or email or petition that originated in a lobbyist's office - it carries immense weight; I was told once by a Congressional staffer that each such genuine constituent letter, whether handwritten or typed, represents 10,000 voters who think likewise. The pols pay attention to such letters.)

BRINGING LIGHT INTO THE DARK PLACES

Speaking truth to power can mean something as simple as writing letters to the editor, or calling a local radio talk-show, or participating in "sit-in" demonstrations at a legislator's office - or traveling to Crawford, Texas, to let Bush know there is nowhere he can hide from citizen wrath. On another level of speaking-truth-to-power, there's Rep. John Murtha stepping up and telling Bush and his fellow members of Congress that enough is enough, the Iraq War is a thoroughgoing disaster and we need to get out ASAP.

Many in the Democratic party leadership secretly harbored such sentiments, but were too timid to stray far from the Bush line lest they be tarred as "unpatriotic" or "soft-on-terrorism" by the Roveian legions. Some leading Democrats, with presidential ambitions, are still mired in that fear-swamp, and you know who I mean. We have yet to locate a charismatic, electable national progressive leader willing to step out and tell it like it really is.

Those who choose to imitate the Hard-Right conservatives should pay a penalty: put a scare in the DINOs (Democrats in Name Only) by supporting alternative progressive candidates in the primaries.

Murtha could say what he said because millions of us out here in ordinary America have spent years preparing the anti-war soil to such an extent that now close to two-thirds of our fellow citizens believe invading and occupying Iraq was a huge ideological and military mistake, based on lies and deceptions ladled out by the Bush Administration. As a result of this grassroots labor, the operative question no longer is whether we should "stay the course" in Iraq, getting tens of thousands more U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians slaughtered and maimed in the process, but how best to extricate ourselves as quickly as possible. That huge shift in American sentiment can be ascribed, at least partially, to our willingness to talk truth to power.

A major contributor to that major shift in support for Bush's war are those whose official job-description is (or at least used to be) talking truth to power. I'm referring to opinion-molders and institutional and Internet journalists and bloggers. For the names of many of those courageous writers, see "Honoring Our Journalistic Heroes." Those progressive websites on the Internet, ours included, receive precious little funds from anybody but their readers, so don't forget to donate regularly to those who consistently shine the light of fact into the dark caves of illusions and deceit.

KEEPING THE MOMENTUM BALL ROLLING

In recent weeks and months, the wheels have started to come off the Hard-Right's juggernaut bus. The Bush Administration is self-destructing from within and beset by more and more forces from without. We are just about at the point of critical mass.

But the Bush/Cheney/Rove forces are still in the White House - unless we can pry their fingers from the levers of power - and thus are still able to do enormous, deadly damage both to what remains of Constitutional rights and protections domestically, and to the shreds of American respectability abroad as a result of imperial wars and cruel torture carried out in our names.

To get to critical mass, a constant and increasing pressure must be built up, to the point where the momentum for change is so strong that the Bush forces will be unable to reverse it.

That's our job right now. So let's get to it.

Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., co-editor of The Crisis Papers, has taught government & international relations at various universities, was a civil rights and anti-war activist in the '60s and '70s, and a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. To comment, contact crisispapers@comcast.net.

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