Back to the Future with Focus on the Family
Yesterday, Jim posted his response to Focus on the Family....Action's 16-page "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America." They say that though their letter is a "what if?" exercise, that this "does not make it empty speculation, because every future 'event' described here is based on established legal and political trends that can be abundantly documented..."
For example, the letter predicts four terrorist attacks in the U.S., after which "the entire country is fearful." I can just imagine it-Homeland Security would need a whole new color-coding scheme. (Magenta Alert!) But who knows? Maybe they have some kind of intelligence upon which to base such an outrageous prediction-perhaps a memo with a title something like: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S."
It's just too bad that back in 2000, Focus on the Family...Action kept their clairvoyant abilities under a bushel and neglected to send a "Letter from 2008 in Bush's America" warning us all of the trouble we'd encounter. Maybe they thought it would be bad for fundraising. Well anyhow, let's fire up the DeLorean and travel back to the year 2000 for this letter from the future....
October 30, 2008
I can hardly sing "God Bless the U.S.A." anymore. When I hear the words
"And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free,"
I get tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Now in October 2008, after seeing what has happened in the last eight years, I don't think I can still say that "I'm proud to be an American." The actions of my government have been a national shame.
And do "At least I know I'm free"? Our civil liberties have been trampled by a White House that dominated all three branches of government for most of its term, enabling it to pass legislation like the U.S.A. Patriot Act and other policies that increased secrecy and domestic spying and vitiated habeas corpus-all in the name of national security. Few politicians of either party dared to resist them for fear of being branded "unpatriotic" or "soft on terrorism."
The 2000 election was closer than anybody expected. In fact, Al Gore won the popular majority. But because of loyal officials in Florida and conservative allies in the Supreme Court, George W. Bush became president. Many Christians voted for Bush because he was "pro-life" and a "compassionate conservative." As Bush himself often says, history will be his judge. It hasn't been too kind so far.
Over the next eight years:
- Administration neo-conservatives use the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11 as the rationale for attempting to remake the Middle East according to their Project for a New American Century-an extreme agenda widely available well before the 2000 election.
- The resulting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan kill thousands of Americans and untold civilians, but fail to bring Osama Bin-Laden to justice.
- Global sympathy for the U.S. after 9/11 turns into global anti-American sentiment and is fueled by a war waged under false pretenses of weapons of mass destruction that were never discovered.
- President Bush awards the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, to General Tommy Franks, George Tenet, and Paul Bremer despite the fiasco that Iraq had become.
- No-bid military contracts result in profiteering and corruption by corporations with cozy administration relationships.
- Other military contractors-run by evangelical Christians-are found by the FBI to have committed unjustified killings of civilians.
- Our national honor is further tarnished by revelations of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, a network of secret prisons, and the practice of "extraordinary rendition."
- Later investigations demonstrate that top administration officials anticipated that their decisions regarding treatment of prisoners would be a national shame.
- With the Middle East peace process on the back burner-or off the stove entirely-for much of his term in office, Bush is forced to accept the Hamas' electoral victory in Gaza and Hezbollah's renewed influence in Lebanon.
- The domestic response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks is a new bloated national security apparatus that makes hundreds of arrests but only a handful of convictions related to terrorism.
- Closed-door meetings between Dick Cheney and corporate officials form U.S. energy policy.
- Global scientific consensus on climate change is suppressed and resisted, as evisceration of environmental protections deepens environmental degradation.
- Government apathy and incompetence exacerbate the effects of Hurricane Katrina, disproportionately affecting poor black residents of the Gulf Coast.
- A mentally unstable man with legally purchased guns goes on a killing spree on the Virginia Tech campus.
- Despite their popular self-defense rationale, guns kept in the home for self-protection are still 22 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than to kill an intruder in self-defense.
- "Born again" Christian couples divorce at the same rate as their secular counterparts, but conservative leaders continue to blame gays and lesbians as the prime threat to the sanctity of marriage.
- Despite new studies demonstrating the link between social spending and economic conditions on reducing abortion, the extreme flanks of both parties continue their narrow focus on legal maneuvers that have little demonstrable effect on actual abortion rates.
- Bush's Faith-Based Initiatives raise hopes of effective anti-poverty government partnerships-but funds are cut so deeply that multiple officials appointed to run the initiative resign in disgust.
- The percentage of Americans in poverty rises from 11.3 in 2000 to 12.5 in 2007
- The number of Americans without health care increases by 5.9 million between 2001 and 2007.
- The U.S. prison population rises to 2.3 million-more than any other nation by both number and percentage. China is a distant second.
- Tax cuts for the rich, combined with massive military spending on the war in Iraq, balloon the national debt from $5.7 trillion in 2001 to $10.5 trillion in 2008
- The national budget goes from a $128 billion surplus inherited from the Clinton Administration to a deficit of $438 billion in 2008.
- Though U.S. military spending is greater than the rest of the entire world combined, both parties want to increase the size of our armed forces.
- Deregulation and unchecked corporate greed result in multiple corporate scandals, culminating in a full-blown financial crisis and recession that result in massive government bailouts-while the recipients of sub-prime mortgages are blamed for their bad choices.
- Meanwhile, oil companies rake in record profits.
- Also, immigration raids, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, the U.S. Attorney firings, Terry Schiavo, Jack Abramoff, Tom Foley, Duke Cunningham, Larry Craig, Tom Delay, shameful conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital, increase in soldier suicides, and Dick Cheney shot a guy in the face ...
Of course, not all of this stuff is the Bush administration's fault. Just most of it. And it's not like he didn't accomplish anything worthwhile. PEPFAR is great. Really quite super. Even though members of his own party tried to sabotage it. But I digress.
The truth is almost always scarier than fiction. That's why, in this campaign, both candidates have emphasized their desire for change. After the last eight years, we desperately need it.