Getting Your Attention

"Politicians are like diapers since they need to be changed frequently -- often for the same reason." -- Tom Dobbs [Robin Williams] Man of the Year


Despite the fact that millions of Americans voiced their opposition to the war in Iraq last November by throwing out some of their war-mongering senators and representatives and have subsequently only underscored that disapproval in several recent nationwide polls, their message has still not fully penetrated the inner circle of our nation's policy planners.

Each day we are seeing more and more evidence of executive ineptitude, mismanagement and insensitivity regarding the war and its consequences. And to add insult to injury the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have not only become more cavalier in their attitude, but believe that they can treat the public with disdain and get away with it.

A recent example came to light as Cheney was returning home from the war zones, the Far East and Southeast Asia. As Keith Olbermann reported, "The veil of secrecy in which the White House tends to wrap itself finally managed to suffocate the common sense out of at least one official. It happened during said official's attempt to deny that the vice president had gone into his meeting with Pervez Musharraf this week in order to beat up on the president of Pakistan, the official insisting that he should be referred to only as a senior administration official.

"That ground rule being established, let's take a look at what Mr. Anonymous had to say about Mr. Cheney's reported browbeating of the Pakistani president, quote, 'That's not the way I work. The idea that I'd go in and threaten someone is an invalid misreading of the way I do business.'

"Any guesses? Buehler? Buehler? Buehler?

"Asked further about the vice president's suggestion earlier in his trip that House Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha were lending comfort to the terrorists, the senior administration official continued, quote, 'What I said was that the al Qaeda strategy is based on the notion that they can break the will of the American people, and my point was that if we follow what I believe Speaker Pelosi really wants to do in terms of withdrawal, that that would validate the al Qaeda strategy. I was very careful in those words I selected. I didn't say, Give aid and comfort to terrorists. I didn't say, unpatriotic. I said it would validate the al Qaeda strategy."

Listening to this "anonymous resource's" liberal use of the pronoun "I" rather than the appropriate "we," one is reminded of television's sagacious comedian Ernest P. Worrell's query, "do we look like we got stupid wrote all over our faces, Vern?"

As the New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg has noted: "Mr. Cheney is arguably the most powerful vice president in American history, and perhaps the most secretive. The [Libby] trial painted a portrait of a man immersed in the kind of political pushback that is common to all White Houses, yet often presumed to be the province of low-level political operatives, not the vice president of the United States."

Recently we saw what Newsweek's Howard Fineman appropriately described as telling "brackets" embracing the Iraqi war.

On one hand a federal jury convicted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of lying about his role in the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity, finding the vice president's former chief of staff guilty of two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice all of which played a key role in getting us into this immoral war in the first place under false pretenses.

As for Libby's boss, Dick Cheney, Stolberg reports: "'There is a cloud over the vice president,' the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, told the jury in summing up the case ... .

"Mr. Cheney was not charged in the case, cooperated with the investigation and expressed a willingness to testify if called, though he never was. Yet he was a central figure throughout, fighting back against suggestions that he and President Bush had taken the country to war on the basis of flawed intelligence, showing himself to be keenly sensitive to how he was portrayed in the news media and backing Mr. Libby to the end."

Meanwhile, on the other hand a shocked nation was reading in the Washington Post and viewing on television the deplorable conditions that our "national treasure" (a political euphemism for the lives of men and women fighting this war) were being forced to endure during their "rehabilitation" from catastrophic injuries suffered in the war at Walter Reed Hospital and inadequate Army and Veteran's Administration facilities throughout the nation and in particular rural areas.

These recent revelations and the efforts by George Bush, Cheney and their neocon ilk to sell us on the idea that we need to have a "surge" (which in reality is nothing more than supplying cannon fodder in addition to the already over 3200 dead and 23, 800 wounded in an unwinable war), by way of "supporting our troops" so we can lay claim to a "Mission Accomplished," rings increasingly hollow.

As the Washington Post declared editorially: "There is plenty of blame to go around. Officials at Walter Reed were egregiously negligent. The Army's high command, and the Joint Chiefs above them, were too weak-kneed or obtuse to demand adequate resources for medical care -- just as they were too fearful for their own careers to demand adequate troops to fight the Iraq war to begin with.

"But the fundamental responsibility rests with the president and his former defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who stubbornly insisted on going to war without sufficient resources -- and then sought to hide the costs of their disastrous mistakes from the American public.

"Is it any surprise that the war's wounded have been hidden away in the shadows of moldy buildings by an administration that refused to let photographers take pictures of returning coffins? Or a White House that keeps claiming that victory in this failed and ever more costly war is always just a few more months away?"

When one examines this whole bloody war it should become obvious that it was conceived, implemented, and is being fought based on the big lie. It is as Thomas Paine reminds us in the opening sentences of his classic Common Sense: "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason."

Amidst the growing frustration that so many of us feel as we read and see the waste of life that we as a nation have initiated abroad the words of the 1960s guru Ken Kesey again comes back to haunt us: "When God wants to really wake up a nation, He has to use somebody that counts. When God wants to get your attention, He always has to use blood."

A.V. Krebs publishes the online newsletter, The Agribusiness Examiner, email He is author of The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness.

From The Progressive Populist, March 15, 2007

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