Crunch Time

Why do I laugh when a major newspaper’s headline is about Eric Massa’s “groping” history? That his staff was uncomfortable with his tickling routines? I guess because I’m reminded of all those Saturday Night Live noogies. Of course, those were skits. But, then, so are these, some among many in today’s political theatre. The Massa example, though, reeks of immaturity—the overly friendly behavior, touching in all the wrong places, is conduct that makes people skittish. And sickish.

Yes, I laugh but, then, so soon, I feel like crying.

Because the salacious is considered headline material or breaking news in our country, today.

Why no large type about the growing numbers of military suicides, of troop deaths? Or that more and more troops who’ve had multiple deployments are unfit for service? Post-traumatic stress disorder is, well, very seldom stressed in our disordered world.

Why no photographs of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s parentless, limbless children whose lives have been forever shattered by our smart bombs?

Why no mention of antiwar actions, beginning this month in Washington, DC and lasting until the troops start returning home?

We’re past crunch time here in the USA. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released this economic report in February:

…the number of unemployed persons, at 14.9 million, was essentially unchanged, and the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.0 percent), adult women (8.0 percent), whites (8.8 percent), blacks (15.8 percent), Hispanics (12.4 percent), and teenagers (25.0 percent) showed little to no change in February. The jobless rate for Asians was 8.4 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was 6.1 million in February and has been about that level since December. About 4 in 10 unemployed persons have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

…the civilian labor force participation rate (64.8 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.5 percent) were little changed.

Imagine—one day you’re feeling pretty secure. Oh, you may wonder how necessary you are to your employer. You know how essential your employment is to your family. But you to your employer? Hmm. And, then, you get the ax. Zap! Nonessential personnel. You wonder if you still have fingerprints. And you have children to feed. Maybe, your spouse works but this could be part time with no benefits. You can’t make your monthly mortgage payments, foreclosure is looming, and your family will have no health care. Cobra’s too expensive, and you are plunged into a place you thought you’d never reside—poverty. Oh, yeah, add to this the depth of desperation. Or should this be the height of desperation?

We’ve spent billions on wars. If we don’t demand an end to our imperialist foreign policy, this figure will reach trillions.

We send billions annually to Israel and we sell them weapons for their Zionist genocide of Palestinians.

We maintain more than 700 foreign military bases.

We cause undeniable suffering throughout the world, decimating populations, creating orphans, babies born with birth defects, refugees, body-filled morgues, and destroying infrastructure, environments, and cultures.

And when I say throughout the world, I don’t exclude our own country.

Blame it on the Military Industrial Complex and greed. Blame it on a lack of conscience. Blame it on broken promises.

Blame it on all of us who sit back and do nothing.

And, yes, blame it on the terrorists. They’re winning. I’m not talking al-Qaida or the Taliban, here. No, I’m saying those who sit at and behind the highest levels of our government–the decision-makers, plotting the next occupation, those who’ve corporatized the air we breathe, those who have subjugated us, those who kill civilians in our names, those who’ve replaced our Constitution with the Patriot Act.

So, be a participant in the slaughter and ravaging, or do something to prevent the continued destruction. Peace of the Action may be our only salvation, our last chance—the real hope for change. Go to for more information.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:


Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: