I used to live in New York City, Court Street in Brooklyn to be exact.  One fine Tuesday morning I woke up late and decided to take the subway in, rather than riding my bike.  It was a pretty typical, boring subway ride.  I came up out of the subway to a big booming sound followed by thousands of people screaming.  While I had been underground a group of fanatical extremists decided to murder thousands by crashing an airplane into World Trade Center 1, more commonly known as the North Tower.  I had come up the subway station stairs just after 9:03, right as another airliner was flown into World Trade Center 2.  We all have our own stories for that day, but I’d like to talk about the thing that makes me almost as angry as the attacks themselves that followed in the weeks and months after; the political football that was played.

A lot of us were swept up with the emotions following 9/11 – even I found my self not completely disagreeing with the angry mobs and their internet toughguy cries of “glass parking lot!” – a reference to using nuclear weapons on those responsible.  After the initial anger passed I realized how stupid I was, since the likelihood of any single nation perpetrating attacks of that magnitude was slim to none.  I calmed down and went on with my life, but there was an agenda to be pushed and fear is a powerful tool.  The Cheney administration deceitfully guided the United States into a war in Iraq under the guise of pre-emptively stopping Saddam Hussein’s completion or acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.  It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that no such weapons were found in Iraq and proven with modest doubt that Dick Cheney deliberately moved us toward war using fear to complete the stated goals of his neoconservative think-tank Project for a New American Century.  The extreme left-wing blogosphere also speculates that Cheney and his friends at Haliburton had a lot to gain financially from such a war, speculations that I certainly don’t disagree with.

Let me sum up that previous paragraph, TL:DR it for you internet meme fans:  Dick Cheney lied to get us into war in Iraq.  I won’t deny that Saddam Hussein was a disgusting man and overthrowing him – in and of itself – isn’t a bad thing, but at what cost?  Over 4000 Americans have lost their lives in combat operations in Iraq.  Over 30,000 have been wounded.  One trillion dollars has been spent on war since 2001.  Trillion.  1,000,000,000,000.00.  Figures like that should be pretty sobering, yet we continue to allow politicians play political football so that they can gain at our expense.

There is a growing trend in US politics to sensationalize a contrary position simply to oppose the other party even if it’s on a subject you agree with them on.  While that is disgusting in and of itself, playing politics for your own benefit is far worse.  A perfect current example:  Joe Lieberman.  Here’s a quote from the Connecticut senator from 2006:

“My proposals were to basically expand the existing successful public health insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid…. When it came to Medicare I was very focused on a group — post 50, maybe more like post 55. People who have retired early, or unfortunately have been laid off early, who lose their health insurance and they’re too young to qualify for Medicare. What I was proposing was that they have an option to buy into Medicare early and again on the premise that that would be less expensive than the enormous cost. If you’re 55 or 60 and you’re without health insurance and you go in to try to buy it, because you’re older … you’re rated as a risk so you pay a lot of money…”

Yet as was reported in the past few months, he has vocally and almost singularly derailed any expansion of Medicare or Medicaid.  The health care industry sees Medicare or Medicaid expansion as a bad thing, a threat to their profits.  Joe Lieberman has received almost two and a half million dollars in campaign contributions from the health care sector and his wife is a lobbyist specializing helping health care companies make more money at your expense.  A majority of Connecticut residents have said they want not only a public option but a single-payer system.  Do the math in your head:  Joe Lieberman, elected to represent Connecticut is playing political football, and he’s doing it for personal gain.

Both these examples, Lieberman and Cheney, show people’s willing to put other’s lives on the line so they can get more money.  This is the political environment we live in today:  your votes are bought by advertising paid for by corporations that care more about making money than about your well being.  The dystopian future presented in the cyberpunk genre of corporations running the world with a monolithic, uncaring, capitalistic face is not so far off, we merely have puppets named Lieberman, Cheney, or Gingrich as a pretty public face to make the hard pill of political football easier to swallow.

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Zarberg is a member of The Political Observers, a sub-group of our writers who are devoted to topics that are political in nature. Zarberg provides a liberal viewpoint in his articles.

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