Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bizzaro World

Last time I checked, I grew up in America. You know, the land of the free, home of the brave. The land of opportunity. The beacon of light upon the hill. The land where an everyday bus driver could buy a modest home and raise a family. You know. America.

But lately I've had this disturbing feeling that I've become trapped in a waking dream in Bizzaro World. And in my Bizzaro World dream, I'm living in an America I don't recognize at all.

An America where facts just don't mean anything. An America where the right wing Fox News claims "Fair and Balanced" as its motto. An America referred to as the "Homeland" in a way that almost entices the term "Fatherland" to spring to mind quicker than anything about huddled masses. An America where "support our troops" is equated to supporting a guy who couldn't pass his flight physical yet plays dress up on an aircraft carrier declaring "mission accomplished'. An America that witnesses the repeated failures of just such a sitting president, the repeated scandals of his administration, the policy decisions based on words like "suiciders", "evil doers", and "internets", yet steps up to the voting booth and says proudly "Thank you sir. May I have another."

Then the realization sets in like a cold fog lifting from one's brain after an automobile accident: Bush America is my nightmarish Bizzaro World. Where else but in Bizzaro World could a rich frat boy with political connections, not to mention drug and alcohol addictions, grow up to mangle not only the English language, but the economy, the environment, the world's stability, and the office of the executive all in one fell swoop.

I just don't get it.

In the America I grew up in, America went to war with good reason. America did not go to war for 27 separate and questionable reasons. America did not go to war for reasons that prove to be overwhelmingly false. America didn't invade a country when a previous president, for example the father of the current president, decided it was a bad idea for a variety of reasons when he had the chance to invade first. And the America I grew up in did not invade a country that didn't attack us or our allies.

In the America I grew up in, when America did go to war, it went prepared, and gave our troops what they need to fight and survive. It didn't run out of bullets and have to purchase 130 million of them from the British government. It didn't have to hold a bake sale to provide body armor for our troops. American troops didn't dig through garbage dumps for "rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up" to armor their unarmored vehicles. The Secretary of Defense didn't hide behind a false excuse of "physics" when the Humvee armor vendors were only running at half capacity and wished to produce vehicle armor faster.

In the America I grew up in, America rewarded those who did a good job, and fired those who did not. The president didn't give the highest medal the country has to offer to those who consistently got it wrong, whose decisions resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives, or created a quagmire that will exist for an estimated ten to fifteen more years.

The America I grew up in helped those in need, both at home and abroad. It didn't cut Pell grants while keeping tax cuts for the most affluent in our society. It didn't cut aid to global food bank and charity programs that help children or the poor achieve a better life or just survive. It didn't try to hand over one of the most effective social programs in the history of the country, Social Security, to wall street brokerage firms.

The America I grew up in was a moral leader for the world. It did not ignore the tenets of the Geneva Conventions. Its president did not endorse or ever encourage the use of torture. It did not change the rules of the houses of congress to protect political leaders indicted of crimes.

But in my Bizzaro World waking dream, Bush America does all of this and more that I can recall. Even better, Americans re-elect him president. Of course since this is Bizzaro World, coverage of elections law violations in Ohio, also known as election fraud, will receive less coverage than that of a professional athlete getting beer tossed on him, shockingly, by a Detroit fan.

So in following with the Bizzaro World laws of physics, Americans will inaugurate a president with historically low approval ratings. A president for whom only 49% approve of his overall job as president, and the majority disapprove of his handling of the economy, Social Security, healthcare, and Iraq. Since we're speaking in Bizzaro World terms, Americans have of course re-elected the same president whom the slim majority of them say is strong on terrorism while 56% of them simultaneously think the Iraq war was not worth the cost. But his victory by less than three percent will be hailed as a "mandate", and Bush will spend his well earned political capital as he sees fit, his critics be damned.

Finally, if there be any doubt in the validity and existence of Bizzaro World, for the icing on the cake, Time Magazine will remove any such doubts, naming Bush Person of the Year, thus proving that God does have one hell of a sense of humor.

Someone wake me.