President Bush Frees Scooter Libby

And I,
holding my head in horror, cried: "Sweet Spirit,

what souls are these who run through this black haze?"
And he to me: "These are the nearly soulless
whose lives concluded neither blame nor praise.

They are mixed here with that despicable corps,
of angels who were neither for God nor Satan,
but only for themselves.

Dante’s The Inferno, Canto III

After living abroad almost ten years in both Saudi Arabia and in The Netherlands, one of the most upsetting and glaring aspects of American life I experienced on my return was the apathy and un-involvement of the average Americans I met. They seldom had the least interest in the governance of their community, scant interest in world affairs, and little sense that they, as individuals, could make a difference.

This was utterly at odds with my experience living in middle class neighborhoods for years, both in Riyadh and in Amsterdam – two extremes of the liberal/conservative world. In both countries it was usual, not unusual, to comfortably routinely have conversations about politics and frequently to find that natives were even well informed about American politics. (The press – not unsurprising unfairly skews the portrait of Muslim life, even in Saudi Arabia,).

And as unsettling as today’s news is about the commuting of Libby’s sentence by President Bush, I look beyond that to indict the American people who continue to put up with this White House and the continuing corruption of our country’s executive branch. It has been an extraordinary tenure of overreach, arrogance, and outright politicization of a supposedly equal branch of government.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
--From Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

Regardless of your political persuasion, how can you, the reader continue to be herded, like sheep, putting up with, rather than taking exception to? Be not surprised that into the vacuum that ensues from your non-involvement, that special interests and the rich and powerful gleefully take your place in governing.

And as to the freeing of Scooter Libby, well one wonders at the record death sentences George W. Bush signed as Governor, sending America to the top of the list of those who still use this barbaric practice. This barbaric practice that denies, to permanently caged humans, the Christian opportunity for redemption, and places the hand of every American on the executioner’s hand. We can’t use public funds to transfer frozen zygotes, that will be discarded, to medical research to help save lives and reduce human suffering --- but we can use public funds to take the life of a caged human –-- even though DNA testing occasionally shows that the convicted are actually innocent.

And to this self-proclaimed compassionate President, I ask, what about the two million incarcerated in our country, the highest percentage in the world -- many of whom are serving hellish sentences for non-violent drug related crime?

Garrison Keillor paraphrased Dante:

“Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral.”


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