Sunday, January 5, 2020

Auld Lang Syne

It's hard to believe it's 2020. And I'm sure I'm not the only person saying so.

After all, where did 2019 go? It sped past so quickly... from January to December seemed to be one big blur.

But here we are, facing the second decade in the century, filled with uncertainty and not a little apprehension. We are, after all, literally at the mercy of those who decide the fates of our nation and its people.

And we don't know all the facts, so we can't protect ourselves or react in a way intended to keep us safe.

It's true that our governments have lied to us consistently, mostly without ever being held to account for it. I was too young and naive to know what Presidents Eisnhower (my first consciousness of a president) and Truman might have caused then covered up with carefully orchestrated lies. And I haven't looked back or attempted to study the issues in detail.

But I know we didn't always get the truth from Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Ford. Witness our involvement in the Vietnam conflict.

President Johnson lied big time about the outcomes of Vietnam ... fake body counts, bogus field operations, etc. He and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, should have been tried for war crimes, but we didn't know until later the extent of their perfidy.

President Carter's stint in office was, by comparison, relatively honest. He seemed incapable of deception regarding his job performance and those around him followed his example. But after the Iranians took Americans hostage and Carter couldn't get them released, he earned a reputation as a failed president. I never bought that and still think history will show that he was probably one of our most honest.

President Reagan got into office on a lie. His arms for hostages deal brought the hostages home at a price and he spent his two terms finding ways to increase deficits and reduce the size of the middle class.

President Clinton abused his office with a tawdry sexual exploit. Period. While it didn't spill over into his actions as president, it forever labeled him as the second chief executive in our history to have been impeached. He was charged with lying to the FBI but not convicted and removed from office.

The two Bush presidents, George HW and George W will be known for their part in miring the US in the Middle East. The first Gulf War, the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent nearly decades' long wars there are on their heads, George W's in particular. The lies that came out of those administrations were, at the time, some of the biggest we ever heard. And many of us knew it.

The years of President Obama, while free of scandal or indictments, also had their share of lies. They were almost always related to war: the outcomes, the wins, the progress, the unfailing greatness of our progress to stamp out the bad guys. Now, years later, we know they were lies, but they were so artfully told many of us didn't suspect.

But right after candidate Donald Trump rode that escalator down to announce his candidacy, we have been subjected to what a fact-finding organization has reported as over 15,000 false statements (read lies) with more being delivered every day. His insecure, narcissistic personality pushes him to lie about the simplest of matters. His undisguised hatred of his predecessor and his successes pushes him to trash every policy designed to better the lives of we the people or keep the nation on an even keel in the world.

Now he and his war-mongering associates are trying to make us believe the United States was morally justified in targeting and killing a monstrous Iranian leader, that we alone are permitted to take such action on foreign soil without consultation of any kind with any experts in foreign relations or bipartisan groups of Congressional representatives. The rhetoric is blustery; the threats belligerent and the notion that retaliation for such an act would be cause for new violence.

I've always been an advocate for peace. I still believe that religion and greed are the two drivers of world conflict. The Middle East has been in religious wars for thousands of years and we had no right to interject ourselves into them. Many say it's because of the oil...that magic substance that is fueling not only the SUVs our auto makers have taken to creating almost exclusively, but also climate change which is altering life as we know it on our planet.

Denying that oil is a catalyst is another lie.

By now, I would have hoped the American electorate would have been done with lies. That we would have seen through the mercenary actions for what they are. But the chest-thumping is loud and long. Look what wonderful thing the US has done! We have rid the world of an evil man out to attack our homeland.

I don't know when we started calling the United States a homeland. But I do know that no place is safe now that Mr. Trump has unleashed the rage of entire populations of people who chant "Death to America." We were in a relatively calm place, with Iran abiding by the nuclear deal we signed and with diplomacy working to resolve the other crises afoot in the region. Now? No one knows what is next, but it's safe to say, without lying, that nothing good will come from what Donald Trump has done.

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