publisher's note
May 22, 2009



On this Memorial Day …
by Bruce Rodgers

Here we are … another Memorial Day weekend and America is at war in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia (if you’ve been paying attention) and at war with itself. The “vibe,” one might say, it not good.

Our ideologically narrow, constricted, upper-caste twin-party dualopoly, seeded by corporate money and fueled by grandiose behaviors of ego showcases a corruptible political system that makes every issue a battle.

Whatever it is, be it climate change, education standards, environmental regulation, torturing our enemies — whatever — seems caught on a perpetual wheel of rhetoric, leaving behind feeble, compromised solutions to be enacted when some agreement is reached, if ever. The old democratic belief that good laws come from “politics as the art of compromise” has been replaced with “does voting for this help me in my next campaign?”

The United States is a dysfunctional country with a political system unable to reform itself, comforted by a media contorting in it’s own survival spasms.

President Obama may be doing the best he can but it isn’t going prevent the massive ecological change facing future generations nor is it going to stop the continuing economic deterioration of the majority of Americans. Capitalism has been saved by a socialistic bailout using the money of ordinary citizens while the middle-class withers in the pain of foreclosures and lost jobs. As shovelfuls of debt bury each of us, our leaders debate “values” and “morals” with the falsity of the Inquisition.

On this Memorial Day weekend, people will get kicked out their homes, workers will lose their jobs, and soldiers will die overseas, or pushed further in fatigue-laced madness. But the focus from the media will be on the weather, on gas prices, on highway deaths and on getting photo ops of family members placing flags on graves

Obama, and Bush before him, repeatedly have said that the number one responsibility of the President is the protection of the American people. It’s always stated in the context of fighting terrorism or justifying warrantless electronic surveillance or denying due process or prohibiting First Amendment guarantees.

But much more threatens the American people than a collection of illiterate fanatics — a reality that has existed since the first efforts by humanity to become civilized and one that will likely continue for as long as humans hold to irrational beliefs and tremble in self-induced fears of tomorrow.

America needs a radical departure from the way it’s doing things and in how it views itself. Electing Obama may be a beginning of such a change but likely not. So far as President, he inspires, he calms and as the first African America president, he makes us proud. But as a change-agent, he has hesitated and his expansive view sees only the landscape, not the horizon.

On this Memorial Day, America needs to bring home the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan beginning immediately. No pre-conditions, no status assessments, no negotiations — just bring the soldiers home.

Let the Iraqis solve their own problems while we focus our resources on leaving oil behind as an energy convenance. Let the Afghans solve their own problems or, at least, prepare for the next foreign power witless enough to land troops on their soil. Let the Pakistanis deal with their own terrorist situation. If we can live the despots of North Korea and their nuclear ambitions, we must have faith in Pakistan that their citizens much prefer democracy to a theocracy. And as for Iran, that’s Saudi Arabia and the rest of Middle East’s problem.

America can contribute, can uplift others across the globe with humanitarian and technological aid — food, medical supplies and money to start small, self-sustaining enterprises. Let our troops on the ground in other places be out of uniform and unarmed.

Fear permeates this country. Begin to burn it away from our lives by bringing the soldiers home. NOW!

Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at


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