Breaking Ranks With The Clueless
There comes a time when a re-evaluation of an enterprise is required. Should one find that a change is in order, one should take the indicated action. One Republican has done that very thing:
Republican Bucks County commissioner Andy Warren, the longest-serving commissioner in county history and now head of the regional state transportation office, said he switched his party registration over the weekend. The change comes, Warren said, after years of watching the national Republican Party move further and further to the right. Alongside criticisms of an "out-of-control" national debt and an impossible-to-understand Social Security system, former Warren reserves more harsh words for Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick's positions since taking office in January. Calling Fitzpatrick a "DeLay Disciple" and decrying the Republican Party's move to the right, Warren on Wednesday announced he has become a Democrat.
County Commissioner Sandy Miller, the only Democrat on the county's highest governing board, has a long working relationship with Warren and said she found his party switch surprising. But she also said the move makes sense to her. "I know that Andy Warren is not and has never been a hypocrite, and I know that, philosophically, he's always been a very thoughtful person," she said. "I'm sure that this is not a decision that was made lightly or casually."
There also comes a time when it is no longer possible to avoid stating that which needs stating:
In an upcoming interview with Rolling Stone, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) re-asserts his reputation as an outspoken critic of the his political rivals. Reid attributes his style (which Rolling Stone refers to as "gunslinger,") in part to his days on the Nevada Gaming Commission.
Most likely to cause a stir, however, is an exchange that concludes the interview:
RS: You've called Bush a loser.
HR: And a liar.
RS: You apologized for the loser comment.
HR: But never for the liar, have I?
"Let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth - to see it as it is, and tell it like it is - to find the truth, to speak the truth, and to live the truth."
- Richard Nixon, when he accepted the Republican nomination for president in 1968
Sometimes the truth slips out in an unintended manner:
At a press conference on Tuesday, President Bush, speaking about detainees who had complained of being abused, said they were "people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble - that means not tell the truth."
Mr. Bush meant, of course, to say dissemble, which really means to deliberately mislead or conceal. Nevertheless, he knew what he was talking about. The president may have stumbled over the pronunciation, but he's proved time and again that he's a skillful practitioner of the art.
Practicin' The Preachin'
We've now learned, thanks to Vanity Fair, that a former top F.B.I. official, W. Mark Felt, was the legendary confidential source Deep Throat. I can't think of a better time to resurrect the Watergate saga.
The lessons of Watergate and Vietnam are that the checks and balances embedded in the national government by the founding fathers (and which the Bush administration is trying mightily to destroy) are absolutely crucial if American-style democracy is to survive, and that a truly free and unfettered press (which the Bush administration is trying mightily to intimidate) is as important now as it's ever been.
The trauma of Watergate, which brought down a president who seemed pathologically compelled to deceive, came toward the end of that extended exercise in governmental folly and deceit, Vietnam. Taken together, these two disasters, both of which shook the nation, provided a case study in how citizens should view their government: with extreme skepticism. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, drunk with power and insufficiently restrained, took the nation on hair-raising journeys that were as unnecessary as they were destructive. Now, in the first years of the 21st century, George W. Bush is doing the same.
Gulf Of Tonkin II
Just last month we had the disclosure of a previously secret British government memorandum that offered further confirmation that the American public and the world were spoon-fed bogus information by the Bush administration in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. President Bush, as we know, wanted to remove Saddam Hussein through military action. With that in mind, the memo damningly explained, "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
With George W. Bush in charge, the nation is mired in yet another tragic period marked by incompetence, duplicity, bad faith and outright lies coming once again from the very top of the government. Mr. Bush wanted war, and he got it. Many thousands have died as a result. That's the kind of deceit that was in play as American men and women were suiting up and marching off to combat at the president's command.
Setting The Example
Even in Afghanistan, where the U.S. had legitimate reasons for going to war, the lies have been legion. Pat Tillman, for example, was a popular N.F.L. player who, in a burst of patriotism after Sept. 11, gave up a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army Rangers. He was sent first to Iraq, and then to Afghanistan, where he was shot to death by members of his own unit who mistook him for the enemy.
Instead of disclosing that Corporal Tillman had died tragically in a friendly fire incident, the Army spun a phony tale of heroism for his family and the nation. According to the Army, Corporal Tillman had been killed by enemy fire as he stormed a hill. Soldiers who knew the truth were ordered to keep quiet about the matter. Corporal Tillman's family was not told how he really died until after a nationally televised memorial service that recruiters viewed as a public relations bonanza.
Mary Tillman, Corporal Tillman's mother, told The Washington Post:
Lying is a way of life for Bu$hCo members. I have a not-so-heavy example of recent Bu$hCo behavior that demonstrates this:
No, not the identity of Deep Throat. I'm talking about Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' middle name. The White House has long been secretive about what that "R" stands for. But Daily News Washington Bureau sleuth James Gordon Meek has wrenched the answer out of Gonzales himself:
"It's just a middle initial," the attorney general admitted to Meek.
Some of Bu$h'$ lying might actually be the expression of cluelessness. A couple of examples:
I think we heard the Bush administration in full voice this week, laughing at those who ask questions, wringing tears from those who would dare dissent.
Asked if the Iraqi insurgency was getting more difficult to defeat militarily, Bush answered with a classic Dubya-ism. "No, I don't think so," he said, "I think they're being defeated. And that's why they continue to fight."
It's the sort of answer that makes you pause and scratch your head for just long enough to give him a chance to change the subject.
Or toss it off to his straight man:
Afghanistan's 'free' press
Bush announced, "And in the spirit of the free press, we'll answer a couple of questions."
The first question dealt with the military's treatment of Afghan prisoners of war. It was full of facts and details and built-in follow-ups, so you could tell the reporter asking it would probably never get called on again. And, after this rocky start, Bush decided to let the American reporters cool their heels for a while.
"Somebody from the Afghan press?" he asked next.
There was an awkward silence, which Karzai gamely tried to fill in by asking, "Anybody from the Afghan press? Do we have an Afghan press?"
Then he spotted the single reporter his government had permitted to travel outside Afghanistan. "Oh, here he is," Karzai said, as the room filled with the not-quite-warm laughter of people who suspect they might actually be the butt of a joke but aren't sure.
It turned out, National Public Radio journalist David Greene reported later, there were nine other Afghan reporters who were to have followed Karzai on his U.S. visit but, at the last minute, the Karzai government decided to withhold their travel permits for fear the journalists might try to escape their troubled homeland.
Bush seemed genuinely surprised that the Afghan reporters weren't there -- American journalists had been asked to fill in their empty seats -- so it seems that Karzai forgot to mention to his good friend that the whole free press thing has a slightly different meaning in the burgeoning democracy that is Afghanistan.
In the [Rolling Stone] interview, Reid claims that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was unable to take part in the compromise because he is, "Driven by ... right wing zealots". On Frist, Reid elaborates: "I like him, but he hasn't been in government very long. ... Being a senator is about the art of compromise. That's what the filibuster is all about — it forces compromise.
Let's hope that non-clueless Americans of all political persuasions remember this, and bring to an end the one-party process that is underway on its unrelenting quest to destroy their nation.
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