I usually stay away from direct political commentary on this blog. There's plenty of it elsewhere, and I often feel that I fall into the trap of provocative didacticism when I'm at the dinner table, so on a blog, where there's no one to curb my passions whatsoever, there could be real problems - especially when it comes to wiping the foam from my mouth.
However, I can't help but relate a conversation that I had with a close, close relative about the current war in Iraq. This relative is super well educated - a BA from one of those very expensive liberal arts schools on the East Coast that claim to teach you to think for life - and advanced degrees in writing and business to boot.
It started with taxes. I mentioned some rather recent large payments Heather and I had made to our Federal and state governments.
My relative jumped in and complained about the amount she had had to pay last year. $50,000.00 is what she said she'd forked over.
I said, "Oh, please. If that's what you paid, that means you made nearly $250,000 last year and you can afford to pay that amount. I mean, you made A LOT of money."
"But that's sooo much money to give the government. It's ridiculous," she said.
I repeated my lack of sympathy, but added that I had no objection to paying taxes. I belong to a society. That society needs money to operate. What I really obected to was the way our politicians spend our money. I added that I wished that we had a system whereby - whenever I voted - I could vote for how tax dollars were spent. Ie, I apportioned percentages in the voting booth instead of voting for people who I hoped would do it for me.
"For instance," I said, "The money we're spending on this war is just mind-boggling considering all the things here at home that need to be paid for. We're in effect pouring money into a foreign country when we have roads, schools, hospitals, alternative energy resources and other social infrastructure elements that are currently underfunded."
"But if we stop fighting that war," she said, "Those people will attack us here."
My reply: Put that money into security here and it might be even more effective than fighting a war that is also killing our sons and daughters and tearing families apart. Even if that means not putting it into roads, schools, etc, we'd be better off since it would be money spent here, adding to this country's overall wealth and well-being. Spending it over there is getting us nowhere. Besides, right now our presence there is making those people want to attack us. If we leave, no one know what's going to happen - especially not the current administration which has one of the worst track records of predicting behavior in that region going.
And, anyway, I added, their efforts in Iraq are side tracking the hunt for the real culprits of 9/11 - those people are in Afghanistan, not Iraq. Get them and you might really put a dent in the organization with the stated goal to attack us.
"What are you talking about," she interrupted, "Iraq was involved in 9/11."
My jaw fell off.
How many years has it been since the 9/11 Commission published its findings? How long has Keith Olberman been pointing out the truth? How many times do newspapers, magazines and internet sites have to report it? I mean, I've seen the polls that say a huge number of Americans believe this to be true, but I haven't met one of those Americans yet. (Turns out I'm related to one.)
I pointed out to my relative what the 9/11 Commission said - no link. I went on about it just a little too long, but I was clear. No one has ever shown a link between the events of 9/11 and Saddam Hussein.
After a pause she said: "I really don't think about politics too deeply. I've got two kids and a job to hold down. All I know is that I had to pay the government $50,000.00 last year and that's ridiculous."