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Dictators, Tyrants and Fools
By William Rivers
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
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
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
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
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.