Not Now

Since 9/11/01, American flags have flown on our cars.

Not now.

Documents, certificates, awards and medals from service to my country hung on the walls of my home and office.

Not now.

For most of my 56 years, I have been proud to call myself an American.

Not now.

The flags came down, the documentation of service went into a box – gone, just like the pride that used to come with being a citizen of a nation where greatness lost out to political expediency and integrity fell victim to lies and deceit.

Respect, which must be earned, can also be lost. I can no longer respect my country and it breaks my heart.

Sadly, those who follow the petty preaching of partisan politics can’t see what has happened to a once-great nation. They place party loyalty above love of country and lost sight of their country’s demise far too long ago.

Some say America’s greatness died during Bill Clinton’s two-terms as President. Certainly, turning the White House into a frat boy’s wet dream damaged the country’s credibility. Learning the leader of the most powerful nation on earth discussed foreign policy with leaders of other nations on the phone while an intern crawled under his desk and sucked him off didn’t help.

America’s problems started long before Clinton started banging interns (and God knows who else) at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps it is fitting that Vietnam has become an issue in this year’s Presidential election. That war, fought for all the wrong reasons, ended America’s innocence and flawed belief in its own righteousness and invulnerability.

Watergate sealed the deal, toppling a corrupt President, revealing a system of government where greed, power and political agendas replace honesty and freedom.

For a while, we thought the system worked and we could recover, but reform proved itself an illusion, Changes after Watergate only allowed powerful special interests to strengthen their hold on our government. Now, 30 years after Watergate, the seeds of destruction have taken root and grown into a full fledged jungle of corruption.

America finds itself once again embroiled in a war based on a lie, a conflict conceived not out of national need but political expediency.

Iraq, we were told, possessed weapons of mass destruction and stood poised to unleash them on the United States.

They didn’t.

Saddam Hussein, we were assured, provided aid and assistance to Osama bin Laden’s attack on the United States and our leaders said they could prove it.

They couldn’t.

Once these lies became known, our leaders and their followers dismissed them with the platitude that such misinformation, while unfortunate, didn’t matter because we liberated the Iraqi people and saved them from a dictator who tortured and killed Iraqis.

Now we learn that Americans have also tortured and killed Iraqis and the Secretary of Defense knew about it and didn’t even bother to tell the President of the United States.

George W. Bush, we are told, “privately admonished” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld but won’t admit publicly that any member of his administration fucked up big time.

Instead, Bush goes on Arab TV and says Americans are shocked over mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners but – as always – won’t take responsibility for what happened.

Another lie, another cover up, another disgrace.

These are not the actions of a country that deserves respect from its allies, the world community or its own citizens.

Yet those who genuflect before the party of the elephant continue to preach the lie that our actions in Iraq somehow make the world a safer place – a fact sure to be lost to the Iraqis and Americans who die every day at the hands of militants and suicide bombers.

On the other side of the political fence, Democrats offer us John F. Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who lied about throwing his medals over the fence at the White House. Depending on which version of the story he tells, what he tossed over the fence were either 1) his ribbons or 2) the medals of a friend.

So our choice in November comes down to an incumbent who evaded service in Vietnam by using family connection to get into the Texas Air Guard and then may or may not have completed his obligation or a Vietnam veteran who can’t keep his stories straight about what he did when he came home.

We have a choice between two liars to lead the corrupt government of a nation that long ago lost its shot at greatness.

Not much of a choice, but maybe we don’t need a choice because there really isn’t anything left for these guys to lead.

Once, I was proud to call myself an American.

Not now. And, sadly, I may never be able to again.