The Wright Perspective℠
Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠
A Blog by Gary Wright II
America desperately needs more heroes - NOT more Neros!
Saturday, December 11th, 2010
Nearly two thousand years ago, Rome was almost completely destroyed by a huge fire that burned for five days. There is a popular legend that says Emperor Nero played his fiddle while watching Rome burn down. That legend (started by Cassius Dio) isn't completely true; Nero played a lyre, not a fiddle, and one historian (Tacitus) says that Nero wasn't in Rome at the time of the fire. It's interesting how differently some history books record the facts during such monumental events of mankind. Whether Nero actually did this or not, history has certainly stuck the story to his name.
Today, we are witnessing another significant moment of our civilization, and I can't help but think of the legend of Emperor Nero and his fiddle. While America is "burning down" around us, we have a bunch of Emperor Nero's in Washington, D.C. While they should be trying to help quench the flames, they are just standing around pretending to be busy. They might as well all be playing fiddles...
We can't attach blame to just the Democrats or the Republicans - they all have failed us. If we look at the rather short history of our nation, the outlook is not very hopeful or flattering. Our country was founded by core principles that sound great on paper, but in actuality the actions of our government are based entirely on greed. I believe that most Americans want to uphold these founding principles, but we have no leaders in power to implement the changes needed to save our country from total destruction.
There are three events in recent history that clearly demonstrate this assertion:
Throwing out our system of checks and balances: Our government is divided into the Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch. The Executive Branch sets priorities. The Legislative Branch makes laws. The Judicial Branch enforces the laws. Another duty of the Judicial Branch is to provide the "checks and balances" to ensure the other two branches don't violate our Constitution.
After two federal courts have ruled the military policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) violates the Constitution, the Senate has now voted twice to not hold debate on this issue. It's not like they discussed the issue and decided against it - they voted to NOT DISCUSS the issue. This will hurt our country in two ways: The annual Defense Authorization bill is what gives our military the funds it needs to operate. They needed to pass the legislation to support the troops we have already deployed to fight in two wars. With the Senate failing to bring the DADT policy into compliance with the law, it will force the courts to end the policy. Had the Senate done their job, the military could implement the repeal in an organized manner. The courts have already ordered the policy to be ended immediately, but a temporary stay was issued while the case is appealed to the Supreme Court. Opinions don't really matter once a court ruling is ordered, but the majority of Americans support the repeal. More importantly, the majority of our troops support the repeal. The recent study done by the Department of Defense found that over two-thirds of our military (and their families) said the repeal would have little or no impact. The House of Representatives have already passed the repeal, but the Senate has refused to carry out their duties despite the rulings of the courts.
They have to do what the court says, right? In theory, yes. In practice, no. An example would be the removal of Native Americans on the Trail of Tears. The Cherokee actually won their case in the US Supreme Court, but President Jackson and the State of Georgia ignored the court ruling to enforce their own idea of justice. It is somewhat ironic that the same greed that brought this nation into existence is the same greed that is "burning down" our country.
Corruption of elections: The amount of money spent during the last election is both staggering and sickening. In addition to the millions raised by campaign supporters, one candidate spent over $120 million of their own money. They ended up not getting elected, but you have to wonder why so many people will spend millions in order to get a job that only pays a quarter of a million. Do they have poor judgement when spending money, or are they are totally corrupt. Either case, I guess it should be no surprise that our nation is now beyond broke. Last week the GOP said they wouldn't work on any other issue until they got their way. If the "tax breaks" were so important to them, why didn't they make them permanent during the eight years they had control? Because they didn't get cuts passed to millionaires, they refused to even discuss making a one-time $250 payment to those disabled and on social security. With the prices of food and medicine rising so rapidly, those on a fixed income don't have a chance to survive through this economy. How can we give a $9 TRILLION handout to companies, yet we refuse to help our disabled and elderly?
WikiLeaks.org: Our government has been putting a lot of pressure on the companies that support this web site, but WikiLeaks.org is not the enemy. The old saying of "Don't shoot the messenger" certainly applies in this case. I'm a veteran and I've had a security clearance, so I completely understand what is at stake with these issues. I DO NOT condone the unauthorized release of classified information of any type. With that said, I believe that history will conclude that those associated with WikiLeaks are not just national heroes, but international heroes. Our government and our media want us to believe that these "leaks" are putting lives in danger. Actually, they are saving thousands, if not millions, of lives. Unfortunately, the data also shows us just how many precious lives have already been wasted. The actions carried out by our country are not in line with our principles of freedom and justice, and WikiLeaks is only reporting to the world the unvarnished truth of our actions. WikiLeaks didn't generate these documents - these were written by the leaders we have trusted to run our country. Shouldn't it be the authors of the documents that should be held accountable? Much of the material being released by WikiLeaks provides clear evidence of war crimes, so I think the data should be viewed in that context.
I haven't read, nor care to read, the millions of documents being published by WikiLeaks, but I will use one widely-reported incident as an example. The government is holding Private Manning in prison for allegedly releasing the video that recorded a military helicopter opening fire on a group of civilians in Iraq. If guilty, he shouldn't have released it - but the video proves that the military chain of command had failed to address the matter. More disgustingly, the military lied in an effort to cover up the incident. Releasing the video might have not been the legal thing to do - but in my opinion it was probably the right thing to do. You are welcome to see the video for yourself at CollateralMurder.com WARNING: The video is quite disturbing!
Video from helicopter scope: You see a group of men casually walking through a courtyard. They are not marching or moving in a military formation. Two men have items strapped over their shoulder. As the helicopter circles around them, you can see the items are video cameras. None of them appear to be holding AK-47s or Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). A lot of confusion can happen during the fog of war, but none of these men have weapons drawn and the helicopter is not under any fire or immediate threat. As the group reaches the street, they ask for permission to shoot the people, but they say the men are holding weapons. When the helicopter circles again, they have a clear shot at the group and the open fire. When the dust settles, most of the group are dead, but they see one man trying to crawl to safety. The gunner is heard just begging for a reason to shoot the guy saying, "That's it... just reach for a weapon!" The two men who were carrying cameras were civilian reporters for the Reuters news agency, one is on his cellphone with a colleague when the shooting starts. A civilian van arrives on the scene and they get out to render aid to the shooting victims. There are no weapons mounted on the van and as they open the sliding door, there are no weapons visible inside the van. What is clearly visible are two children who are sitting in the front passenger seat of the van. The helicopter opens fire again, killing the survivors and those rendering aid. The gunner even brags about shooting the van "right through the windshield." The helicopter guides a group of troops on the ground over to the scene and the video shows a Bradley tank rolling over one of the bodies. The troops that arrive are horrified at the two injured children and ask for them to be taken to the hospital. They are then ordered not to evacuate the children, but to let the Iraqi police handle it. This is NOT how we win the "hearts and minds" of these people. In my opinion, those who failed to take action are just as guilty as those who did the actual shooting. Our government shouldn't be abusing our system of security classifications to cover up evidence of crimes. Will history record WikiLeaks or Private Manning as our heroes or our traitors? Trying to blame WikiLeaks for releasing the video is just a distraction. The people being "brought to justice" should be those who commit the crimes - not those who report them.
Hey! What's that sound? Do I hear a fiddle playing in the distance???
-- Gary Wright II
I've written several blog entries on this topic. To read more, visit our page devoted to PFC Bradley Manning .