Dictators, Tyrants and Fools

By William Rivers Pitt

The greatest strength of the Republican majority in Congress and their allies in the White House is their unfailing ability to say and do anything, no matter how hypocritical or brazen or wrong, in order to win. The second greatest strength of the Republican majority in Congress and their allies in the White House is the simple fact that the news media almost never calls them on this, but that is an essay for another time.

We all know by now about the enormous raft of lies that were fed to the American people and the world about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Would you be shocked to know, however, that they are doing it again? Earlier this year, the Bush administration told allies in Asia that North Korea had supplied nuclear materials to Libya. This was a bald-faced lie; North Korea sold nuclear materials to Pakistan, an ally of the United States. Pakistan turned around and sold the stuff to Libya, but the Bush crew decided to fire a salvo of lies and disinformation at North Korea, and US allies in Asia.

The Washington Post reported on Sunday the fallout from these lies. "The Bush administration's approach, intended to isolate North Korea," wrote the Post, "instead left allies increasingly doubtful as they began to learn that the briefings omitted essential details about the transaction, U.S. officials and foreign diplomats said in interviews. North Korea responded to public reports last month about the briefings by withdrawing from talks with its neighbors and the United States."

This is why Condi Rice is touring Asia right now; some outraged allies have to be soothed. No, we didn't really lie to you. It's just that we can't make Pakistan look bad under any circumstances, and we surely can't have people know that our ally was selling nuclear materials to Libya. According to the Post, "The White House declined to offer an official to comment by name about the new details concerning Pakistan. A prepared response attributed to a senior administration official said that the U.S. government 'has provided allies with an accurate account of North Korea's nuclear proliferation activities.'"

Yes, the administration provided an accurate account…except for the fact that it was all wrong and designed to cover the backside of a rogue nation ally. These people will say anything. It is their greatest strength.

Take, for another example, the widely promulgated idea that 'Freedom is on the March' in Iraq. Yesterday, according to wire reports, freedom in Iraq looked like this: At least 45 people died in violence in Iraq, including a US soldier. Rebels struck around Iraq, hitting security forces in several parts of the country. In Mosul, a suicide bomber with a fake badge slipped into a building housing the provincial anti-corruption department and detonated himself inside the office of its chief, General Walid Kachmoula, killing him and two of his guards.

Attackers struck again a few hours later, opening fire on the procession bearing Kachmoula's coffin as it made its way to the cemetery, killing two people and wounding 14. Two unidentified bodies, shot in the chest and head, were discovered. In Baquba, gunmen attacked a police station, killing at least four police and wounding two. A truck bomb rammed into the entrance of an Iraqi army barracks, wounding 17 people. In Baghdad, 24 Iraqi rebels were killed and six coalition soldiers wounded in a firefight. In the northern city of Kirkuk, a U.S. soldier was killed and three others wounded when a roadside bomb hit their patrol.

Yet Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Fox News interviewer, "It's a wonderful thing to see 25 million Iraqis liberated, to see their economy improve as it has been, to see their political process move toward democracy."

They will say anything. It is their greatest strength.

Take, for a truly nauseating example, the grotesque charade that has unfolded around Terri Schiavo. Schiavo, as most know by now, is the Florida woman who languishes in a vegetative state while religious conservatives use her parents to keep her alive as a means to score political points. Sunday night saw an unprecedented barnstorming of legislation through Congress, pushed by the Republican majority, to keep Schiavo from being removed from the machines that are keeping her alive. The fact that her husband wants the measures to sustain her life ended, and that Florida law clearly gives him the right to make this decision, did not get in the way of a good chunk of political theater.

The myriad ways in which this issue rings the hypocrisy bells are difficult to quantify. The GOP, party of states rights, the sanctity of marriage, family values and religious freedom, placed the federal government into the role of mother, father, husband, wife, doctor and priest in this matter, and never mind the fact that they bulldozed Florida law again.

There is also the matter of the GOP talking points memo floating around out there which specifically states Ms. Schaivo's condition is a perfect wedge with which to remove Florida's Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson. Never mind the fact that the 'Culture of Life' advocates pushing this are also greasing the skids towards more executions of prisoners, or that they support a war that has killed and wounded well over 200,000 people in Iraq.

The next time you find yourself in a debate about Ms. Schiavo with a person who agrees with Bush and the Congressional majority on this, ask them about Sun Hudson. Hudson was born with a genetic disorder and was sustained by machines from the day of his birth. The Texas hospital housing him decided there was no point in sustaining his care, and Hudson was removed from his machines. He died at five months old.

This happened last week.

Five-month-old Sun Hudson was removed from his life-sustaining machines by a Texas law signed by then-Governor George W. Bush in 1999. The law allows patients deemed unsalvageable by the hospital to be removed from ventilators and other medical apparatus, with a ten-day window given to the families of the stricken to find another facility before the plug is pulled.

Sun Hudson was African-American, and neither Congress nor Mr. Bush came storming to his rescue before his death last week. Believe this: If Ms. Schiavo were an African American child, a Hispanic mother, an Iraqi wife, an Afghani grandmother, an American soldier suffering massive brain trauma from an explosion in Mosul, anyone from Darfur or the Congo, if she had been anything other than a white woman in a Fundamentalist-controlled state, we would have never, ever, heard of her.

The piercing hypocrisy found in this hue and cry over Schiavo is the simple fact that the GOP majority pushing this doesn't give a tinker's damn about her condition or her fate. They want to cobble together some kind of bastardized precedent with this to knock down a woman's right to choose, and they'd like to tag Nelson while they're at it. Beyond that, this is a smokescreen to cover their true intentions.

Understand that whatever these people are making noise about is not what they actually care about. They did it a couple of weeks ago; while shouting about Social Security reform and getting everyone all fired up over that, they passed the Bankruptcy bill, the Gun Manufacturers Shield Law and opened ANWR for drilling. They've known their Social Security 'reforms' have been dead in the water for weeks, but kept pushing them to distract opponents from their true goals, which they reached in fine style.

So it goes with Ms. Schiavo. They don't care about her. They want everyone looking at her, however, while they prepare to destroy the filibuster in the Senate in order to appoint a few far-right judges to the bench. Never mind that the Senate has confirmed 204 of Bush's judicial nominations, blocking only 10, which is an approval rate of 95%. The GOP majority still shouts "Obstructionist!" and is preparing to annihilate the one firebreak given to the minority that keeps truly bad nominees from becoming judges. They will try to do this soon, while everyone is caught up in the saga of the Schiavo feeding tube.

These people will say anything, and use anyone as a pawn, no matter how gross or disrespectful or hypocritical or flatly illegal it may be. They do this, ultimately, because they want everything their own way, with no room for compromise whatsoever. It is their greatest strength. It may also come to be their greatest weakness.

Only dictators, tyrants and fools believe they can have it all their way. Every dictator, tyrant and fool in history who has tried to have it all his way has failed in spectacular fashion. Often, that failure brings about the destruction of their family, their army, or their entire nation. Yet the lessons of history do not resonate with dictators, tyrants and fools. That, more than anything else, is why they always fail.

What we have seen in these last years is mushmouthed dictators in the Executive, petty tyrants in Congress, and fools in between trying to have it all their own way. They will fail, as ever. The backlash comes. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it, always."


William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.' Join the discussions at his blog forum.

Bush Laws in Schiavo Case, Texas at Odds

The Associated Press
Tuesday 21 March 2005

Austin, Texas - The federal law President Bush signed to prolong Terri Schiavo's life in Florida appears to conflict with a Texas law he signed as governor, attorneys familiar with the legislation said Monday.

The 1999 Advance Directives Act in Texas allows for a patient's surrogate to make end-of-life decisions and spells out how to proceed if a hospital or other health provider disagrees with a decision to maintain or halt life-sustaining treatment.

If a doctor refuses to honor a decision, the case goes before a medical committee. If the committee agrees with the doctor, the guardian or surrogate has 10 days to agree or seek treatment elsewhere.

Thomas Mayo, an associate law professor at Southern Methodist University who helped draft the Texas law, said that if the Schiavo case had happened in Texas, her husband would have been her surrogate decision-maker. Because both he and her doctors were in agreement, life support would have been discontinued.

The Texas law does not include a provision for dealing with conflicts among family members who disagree with the surrogate decision-maker -- as has happened in the Schiavo case -- although in practice hospital ethics committees would try to resolve such disputes, he said.

The Texas law, Mayo said, tends to keep such cases out of court, allowing life-support decisions to be made privately. However, within the last month two Houston cases went to court. One case resulted in a baby being removed from life support; he died soon afterward. The other led to the transfer of an elderly man to a nursing home.

Bruce Howell, a private health law attorney in Dallas who was involved in updates to the state law in 2003, agreed with Mayo that Bush's signing of the federal law appears to be inconsistent with his actions as governor.

"These are incredibly private decisions," Howell said. "I would hope that this case does not result in federal law overriding what I think was carefully and incredibly well intentionally thought out."

The White House said Monday the law allowing a federal court to intervene in the Schiavo case was narrowly tailored and not intended as a precedent for Congress to step into such battles.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan dismissed the claim that Bush's signature on the Texas law conflicts with his action Monday. "The legislation he signed is consistent with his views," McClellan said.





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