How Bush ruined my vacation

Catherine G. Bratton is a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union from Woodland

This is—or was—our year. We bought a house last year, a miracle in the California real-estate market. This year, we refinanced to get a lower interest rate and do a “cash out.” We knew from past experience that we needed to write a list of things we were going to do with the money so it wouldn’t get nickle-and-dimed away. Going on a proper vacation landed near the top of the list.

There was so much to choose from. We could rent a houseboat on a lake. We could go hiking in the mountains. Then there were all those cool cities: San Diego, San Francisco, Tulare! Then there were all those other states.

In Hawaii, we could buy five nights and get one free. Snorkeling, scuba, kids’ clubs, pools and so on. That was just Hawaii. What about Mexico, the Caribbean, even Australia? Ooh, koala bears!

Hey, if we go out of the country, we’ll need passports. Oh, that would be so much fun: getting our passports stamped when we enter a new country. Getting blown up by a suicide bomber at a bus station.

Whoa! Where did that come from?

I’ll tell you where: U.S. foreign policy. Our recent involvement in the realm of world affairs is not stellar. Talk about your ugly American! Even TV’s The Swan can’t help the American image. Bush-administration foreign policy, founded in duplicity, has shown the world the hypocrisy that makes up our government: Do as we say, not as we do. We don’t even follow the Geneva Convention, unless it suits us. No wonder other countries hate us. What ever happened to the golden rule?

Say we went overseas. I’d expect to have my husband imprisoned, my assets frozen, my two sons rounded up and my home raided. Memorable? Yes, but it doesn’t sound like the vacation memory I want to have.

So, we are staying on the mainland. It’s less of a risk, and besides, there’s no place like home. I know the language, and they’ve always got a light on at Motel 6. Goodbye, endless midnight buffets on Alaskan cruises, or the Friday luau on the beach. We’ll be here getting our kicks somewhere on Route 66.