Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I'm sitting in the bus station in Albany as I write this. (Obviously not literally. I don't have a laptop, and a laptop in the Albany bus station wouldn't have Internet access. In fact, I wrote "this" on a spiral-bound notebook in the Albany bus station on the date and time shown, and I'm copying it to the blog in the middle of the afternoon on the next day at my parent's computer.)

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. If I respond to wild, extreme accusations at all, it's to insist that they be supported. I always much prefer an argument, or at least an honest and straightforward lack of one, to name-calling. Why? Am I naive, or optimistic, or simply liberal in the non-political sense of that word?

But I don't think I can do that any more. Why have I wasted time (well, it's not like I was going to do anything better with it, but still) defending Bush and friends? He's not likeable, not admirable, and not respectable. He acts* like he has all the kingdoms of Earth and heaven at his disposal - which is appropriate in a twisted way, considering that he is the closest thing we've had to a dynastic ruler since the 1820's. But a grossly overgrown ego like that is all the more inoffensive because in reality all he has is this one country for another year and a half, and he only very debatably earned that. AND - at least as important - he's driving it into the ground.

Okay, so I shouldn't give up on tolerance just yet. How could the mentality Bush shows be understood or explained? (Besides "evil".) Help me here.

* As for how he's acting like an out-of-control egomaniac, I have two examples (out of many I'm sure I could find if I actually went looking for them). The first is the article I mentioned some days ago, about the requests he made to the British government. And the second is an article I saw in today's USA Today, which inspired me to write this entry in the first place. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a copy of the article online. But it was titled "Environmental limits on military training reduced." I'm not going to retype the entire article, but here's the basic idea: many (most? all?) military bases will be able to dodge or even ignore outright many environmental regulations on military bases - and apparently those regulations are needed, if "scores of those facilities are badly polluted, and more than 100 are on the government's Superfund list of the nations most contaminated properties." Some other details: the Endangered Species Act can no longer be used to designate land as a critical habitat if it is needed for military training. And the Navy can now test sonar systems that may "harass or harm" dolphins or whales.

My problem with this... even if you don't think protecting the environment or endangered species matters at all (and hey, I admit there's room for debate), then you have to admit this is stupid. Because some people do think the world we live in matters. Is Bush really so self-confident and self-deluded, or is he just being led around by the nose so badly, that he thinks he can afford this? If Bush were an intelligent person or if he cared about doing his job well or if he had even the slightest conception of serving the country as a whole instead of just the defense contractors** who helped put him into office, he might say, "Gee, the military is already stronger than it's ever been, maybe making extending a show of goodwill to my rivals is worth more than letting the military do anything they want, wherever they want." But no, I guess a show of... goodwill? foresight? compassion? is too much to hope for.

** Yes, and oil and other people. But it's the defense people we're talking about here.

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