“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability,
preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
If a president recites this oath, is he legally bound to take care of the nation itself, or only to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution’ of the United States (however White House legal counsel may interpret that clause)? Does he have some ‘wiggle room’ here? (Does the oath pertain only to duly elected chief executives?)
Although he has (twice) placed his hand on a bible and spoken the words, George W. Bush has never been serious about protecting the United States—not on Aug. 6, 2001, when he was shown a Presidential Daily Briefing titled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,’ and not on September 11, when the nation’s defenses were suspiciously slack. He disregarded his duty when for a year after 9/11 he opposed the establishment of a department of homeland security. And then there was Katrina .
The newly proposed cuts to cities and states’ anti-terrorism programs—including DHS grants for police, rescue departments, firefighters, port security, and transit security—compound the budget cuts of 2006 when Bush slashed anti-terrorism funding for New York City and Washington by 40% and sprinkled a paltry $1.7 billion instead on such second- and third-rate targets as Charlotte, St. Louis, and Jacksonville. (No offense, but really . . .)
- In 2006 a DHS ‘risk scorecard’ claimed that New York, with the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge, had ‘zero’ national monuments or icons. DHS’s anti-terrorism grants that year for New York City were reduced from $207 million to $124 million, and Washington’s DHS budget fell from $77 million to about $46 million.
- In 2006 New Orleans’s funds for security and disaster preparedness were slashed in half, from $9.3 million to $4.6 million, even as the stricken city was struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina—a disaster compounded by Bush’s earlier federal cuts to its flood protection system.
Bush Inc. has shown repeatedly that it views the possibility of terrorist attacks not as a threat to be countered effectively, without fanfare (as, say, the British do), but as a useful tool (like shock therapy) for frightening the American public into accepting policies and wars that are otherwise unjustifiable. (And recall the conveniently timed ‘alerts’ during the campaign year of 2004—what Keith Olbermann has termed ‘the nexus of politics and terror.’) In The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein has demonstrated in abundant detail that the security-industrial complex can be highly profitable for friends of the Commander in Chief and his party such as Dick Cheney of Halliburton and Erik Prince of Blackwater.
Since January 2001, as we have witnessed the successive waves of disasters and domestic funding cuts while wars proliferate and military budgets escalate and chaos metastasizes, we have come to regard the president not only (ironically) as The Commander and The Decider, but, seriously, as The Destroyer. (Observe how, regardless of the new National Intelligence Estimate’s findings on Iran’s nuclear energy program, he stubbornly insists on portraying Iran as a grave threat, an enemy whom he will threaten but with whom he will not try to reason, negotiate, or seek to coexist. Instead, he warns ominously of World War III. [See ‘Horseman of the Apocalypse’ below, posted Oct. 17.])
[Click here to see Keith Olbermann hotly berating the ‘unhinged, irrational Chicken Little of a president’ for continuing to frighten the public about Iran for months after being informed that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program.]
On the injustice of slavery, Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep for ever” (Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781–85). Indeed, the stubborn consistency of this administration’s reckless actions (and of its party faithful in Congress) only makes sense as the fulfillment of a curse upon this nation.
We citizens, meanwhile—we who count ourselves among the free and the brave—are duty- and honor-bound to resist The Destroyer and restore our nation to its rightful place as a “more perfect union” and a sanctuary of liberty and justice for all. To us, the only logical response to a world turned upside-down is to do as the Scottish novelist and artist Alasdair Gray once wrote: “Work as if you are in the early days of a better nation” (epigraph to 1982, Janine; 1984).