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America Flounders as America Blunders

By Ben Roberts
June 04, 2007

At breakneck speed I pull up to the waiting departure lounge for a connecting domestic flight on an airline that shall remain nameless. This connection needs to be seamless and on schedule to get me to the nation's capital, Washington DC, since I will be going directly to work, upon landing. Things start to unravel when the representative at the boarding gate counter announces, after the scheduled boarding time has passed, that the reason for the delay is that the plane, just arrived from Caracas Venezuela, has been found to have a mechanical problem. She adds that the problem is being worked on and we should be boarding shortly. There are collective sighs and grunts of dismay as many glare at their watches and fish out their cell phones to update their pickup people at the other end. My thought was, "All the other times when I do this trip and am not on a deadline everything goes like clockwork. Now the one time I am, something goes wrong." Half hour later, we are allowed to board the flight.

Once on board the pilot comes on the intercom to announce that maintenance is working on the problem and we should be on our way soon. Fifteen minutes later he comes on again to say that maintenance is unable to identify the problem. Fifteen minutes after that he updates that they have identified the problem and need a part that is all the way on the other side of the airport. He assures us that the part is being rushed over and we should expect about a half hour for it to be installed before we can be on our way. There are collective groans and cynical comments with each update as passenger patience begins to wear thin. I wondered why they had us board in the first place without having nailed down the problem. I concluded that the collective displeasure on the faces of the passengers in the boarding lounge had spooked the representative, making her jump the gun to have us board. Meanwhile in the seat immediately behind me, a guy is on his cellphone with his girlfriend or wife. He gives her a blow by blow account of our predicament and signs off by saying, "Okay hon. I'll see you on the other side." I remember thinking that I didn't like his choice of phrase because it sounded kind of ominous and prophetic.

About an hour and fifteen minutes past our scheduled departure, we thunder down the runway and reach Washington without incident an hour after expected arrival, ominous comment notwithstanding. I reach work two hours later than usual, but all is well because I called on landing to inform the earlier shift about my delay. This travel episode left me thinking, as it gave me an insight into how we in America think, how we behave, and what we expect in our daily lives. It was also fascinating in that it showed in stark contrast how we, in certain circumstances, quickly jettison those very same behaviors and expectations which, for the most part, clearly define us. Here's what I mean. The scenario of my flight confirms what we in America already know. Namely, that we insist on quality, consideration, and being attended to when we pay for and patronize a service. This entails honest disclosure and being kept up to date. Once this is done we, for the most part, go along with the flow and do not resort to a Mount Vesuvius-type explosion. However, when such an entity, be it an individual or a group, departs from handling us in this way and resorts to irresponsibility, sloppiness, deceit, and treat us as inconsequential, there is hell to pay for the offender. Now then the question is how is it that when an airline suffers a small glitch that causes a minor disruption to our life our patience wears thin quickly. Yet, in a bigger scheme of life the majority of America has heavily invested in, patronized, and sworn by a product and an entity that has brought them nothing but displeasure by regularly doling out deceit, irresponsibility, and treating them as inconsequential, yet they still support this enterprise. I am talking about none other than George Bush and his Bush Administration. Based on their behavior, and the usual American response to such behavior, should we not have long ago tarred and feathered Bush and his entourage and run them out of town?

For the service of George Bush and his Administration, we paid not with money or a credit card. We used something much more valuable. Something so priceless that it cannot be quantified in monetary terms. Its called our vote. If that is not top dollar I don't know what is. Since that time we have continued to pay, both in the priceless category and in things to which a price can be affixed. Priceless are the sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers of America who have died and are dying in Iraq in a war that we were deceived into. This has been confirmed by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, former top US point man in Iraq, General Jay Garner, and now former CIA Director George Tenet. With three such notable men from the inner core of the Bush Administration stating their cases, who can now listen to Bush talk of 'mistakes were made?' Another priceless cost to America from Bush and his Administration is how their arrogance and irresponsibility in their alleged and contrived 'war on terror' has cost this nations stock, in terms of moral principle, respect, and goodwill, to plummet abroad. At home, another priceless cost is the curtailment of our freedoms as people listen in on our phone calls, watch what we read at our harmless local libraries, and at times deny some of us access to travel, all in the name of keeping us safe from bogeymen wearing turbans who, we incidentally have to attack in their homelands so that they do not come over into our cities and towns and attack us. What a colossal load of crock we are constantly being fed by Bush and those who control what we see and hear. Case in point.

A few weeks ago, Linda Stouffer of Headline News rolled out a story complete with photos of Iraqi infants and kids dying of diarrhea and intestinal distress due to water in that country being grossly contaminated with sewage. She ended the piece by saying, "Those poor kids." Ms. Stouffer neglected to mention that during the first Gulf War Bush senior and his British allies promptly and aggressively targeted Iraq's water and sewage treatment plants on the Tigris and Euphrates. Yes. During the initial phase of that war, a smartly dressed British Royal Air Force Commander came out and announced to the media that he and his western allies had successfully destroyed more than ninety percent of Iraq's water and sewage treatment facilities. How savage. This amounted to a direct attack on civilians, because surely Saddam Hussein and his inner circle would not be too put out by destruction of that country's water and sewage treatment plants, but the citizenry most definitely would be. So Ms. Stouffer, now you know why those kids are dying to this day from intestinal disease due to contaminated water. Is it not odd that Saddam and his high command would have been more affected if the good RAF Commander and his team had instead destroyed ninety percent of Iraq's oil production and refining capacity. After all, this is the wealthy resource that allowed them to live the good life. Not a chance! Had he done that Exxon, British Petroleum, and the like would have demanded that he be stripped of his badges and medals and be court marshaled.

In another segment Ms. Stouffer did a piece on how Hamas was using Mickey Mouse to indoctrinate Palestinian children to hate the United States and Israel. Are you kidding me? How is it that we can have crack journalists infiltrate a Hamas indoctrination class, yet those same journalist are grossly incapable, to this day, to display their craft and shed even a narrow beam of light on what many Palestinian and Western eyewitnesses described as a massacre in the Jenin refugee camp by Israeli soldiers. We really need to be careful what we call news and information.

In a recent Free Speech TV interview, British journalist extraordinaire, Robert Fisk, recounted his last of three meetings with Osama Bin Laden on a desolate mountaintop in Afghanistan. In that interview Bin Laden stated that his aim was, " make America a shadow of itself." By all accounts, he has done just that. You beg to differ? Well recall this. Last Thanksgiving a group of Muslim clerics were on a domestic USAIR flight. They requested extended lap belts and were apparently conducting some of their common religious practices prior to boarding, and a few less obvious ones inflight. A fellow passenger observed this and reported to the flight attendants that these men were engaging in strange and suspicious behavior. They were then hauled off the plane by authorities on the suspicion of exhibiting suspicious terrorist behavior. What we had here is a case of an American, unfamiliar and ignorant about what fellow Americans from a different culture were doing and became wildly paranoid. The result was that a highly respectable group of citizens were handled abusively and had their rights violated by our supposed golden standard of democracy, simply because they looked Arab and exhibited harmless religious behavior that one person was ignorant of and unfamiliar with. The guy in the seat behind me who said, "See you on the other side," to his pickup was Caucasian. If he were Muslim would I then have become excessively irrational and reported him to the flight crew? I think not. But now you see how Bin Laden has won. And Bush tells us this war on terror is indefinite because there is no battlefield as in previous conflicts. What a bunch of hooligans we have become. Next up do we throw a bunch of rabbis or priests off a plane as they perform their religious practices? God help us all.

America is now like a ship floundering and blundering among the shoals and sandbars of our time. No matter how many times Bush gets on TV with that disturbing gleam in his eye to tell us how many terrorist he has killed, he will be unable to turn things around for this nation. It is up to the people to do that. They can do this by demanding quality, accountability, and insisting on not being inconsequential. Much like the passengers on the flight to our nation's capital.

Ben Roberts is a newsletter editor, freelance writer and published author. His action adventure novel, Jackals of Samarra, and a collection of his articles can be found at his website He can be emailed from the site by clicking on: He can also be contacted by email at:

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