James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Friday, January 30, 2004

(Not) Counting the Iraqi dead

Suppose for a couple of minutes that the Bushies’ current explanation for invading Iraq is true (or is this an excuse or two back?) and that we sent our armed forces into that sovereign country to free it’s citizens from the yoke of an evil dictator and make their lives better.

Never mind, for a moment or two, that we’ve made the average Iraqi’s life worse by fostering 60 to 70 percent unemployment and drastically cutting the pay of those who do have jobs (see an earlier report here). Forget temporarily that most of them are now even more impoverished, hungry and in greater danger of violence than they were before the invasion.

If, indeed, the Bush motivation was to rescue the Iraqis from the unquestionably vile Saddam Hussein, why doesn’t this country care about the Iraqis who are being killed and maimed now?

Note that every report on violence in Iraq, and, indeed, on our presence there, tells us how many Americans have been killed. The count, as we are frequently and rightfully reminded, is now more than 500. But we see no reports on the total number of Iraqis killed and wounded.

The Bush Administration, according to several reports in the mainstream press over the past several months, deliberately has made it all but impossible to get numbers on civilian casualties. And few, if any, American reporters in the country, given their reliance on the military, are going to go the extra miles to try to put those numbers together.

Who cares anyway? You don’t see or hear many in this country worrying about Iraqi injuries and deaths. The indifference is particularly marked among those who so readily bought into the “free the people” excuse for war when the original one collapsed.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Who runs the big show?

Oh what the heck, someone has to bring this up:

Who really is, or are, the president?

Sadly, that’s not a question any of the mainstream media are going to touch. They wouldn’t touch it if they were in possession of a firm answer and could prove beyond doubt who really wields the power and makes decisions in the administration fronted by G.W. Bush.

The question is never far from my mind, but it rose to the forefront again a couple of days ago as I watched a television replay of Bush trying to answer a reporter’s question about Iraq and those nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction.” He fumbled and bumbled and tried desperately to remember what he was supposed to say in such a circumstance. His efforts at recall were as obvious as those of a fourth grader who hasn’t done his homework. It was painful to watch; embarrassing.

Let’s stop pretending, folks. George W. Bush is too damned stupid to be president in fact. It’s barely possible that he was born with adequate I.Q. points, but he’s like so many television-bleared, football-hammered people in this country: He can’t focus, he’s too bored after 15 minutes too pay attention to anything that doesn’t blow up, scream, crash or take it’s clothes off. He doesn’t read, and has acknowledged proudly that he pays no attention to any news that isn’t set before him in summary form, spin included, by his “advisers.” He is, in fact, as empty headed as a stereotypical 16-year-old jock.

Published statements and quotes from former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s book (I haven’t yet read the book) confirm that vacuousness.

A degree from Yale? C’mon. How many idiot offspring of rich and famous people have the “great” universities granted degrees? Signifies nothing.

So who’s running the show? My own bet is the ghost, Dick Cheney. I know some people think it’s a group that includes Carl Rove and others of the behind-scenes right wingers, politely called neocons. But surely there must be some one person who has the final say in that contentious crowd.

I still have some hope that we’ll know someday how decisions were made in the Reagan White House. I have much less hope of learning who’s running things in the current mob.

(Isn’t it interesting, by the way, that little mentions of Reagan’s growing incapacity while still in the White House – asides in discussions of other issues – are now creeping into print? I’ve seen a couple of the “everybody knew” sort recently. If everybody knew, why the hell didn’t they tell us? We’re talking mental capacity here, not bad legs or a bad back.)

OK. So now I’m officially a conspiracy theory crank. I can live with that.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Search, read and crank hard

Outrages against the public weal flow out of the Bush Administration and rightist-controlled Congress at such a pace that it is impossible to keep up – not that most Americans are trying, or even aware of what’s happening.

That’s not entirely the public’s fault.

Our general news media are falling down on the job as never before. One has to know how to look and where to look to get a fairly good overview of right wing’s massive attack on our democracy and the “lower classes.” And, of course, we have been taught almost from birth that someone who complains all the time must be, certainly is, some sort of nut case. If almost daily you raise a cry against some action of Nominal President Bush and the White House crowd, you are assumed to be a nutter. People won’t look at the facts you decry, merely the fact that you complain so often.

I’m certain now that is not an accident. The rightists in the White House -- superb strategists, whatever else they also may be -- throw out two, three, a dozen “initiatives” a day, knowing that most of them will slip by unobserved by a fumbling press and citizens largely immersed in their own immediate concerns and bamboozled by a phony war and constant proddings to fear. Those who complain loud and often will be widely dismissed.

Those of us who care deeply about what’s being done have to find the sources of accurate and complete information. They are around, but they aren’t delivered to your door step every morning, and certainly aren’t to be found by touching a button on a remote control.

We also have to keep yelling, even at the risk of being labeled cranks. Keep writing letters to the editor, keep writing and telephoning members of Congress and state legislators and governors and the operators of broadcast stations and heads of corporations. Do not let them rest easy. There is at least the chance that some of what you say, supported by facts, will get through to others.

In the interests of keeping informed:

I wish everyone in the country belonged to an outfit called the Public Concern Foundation for no other reason than to receive it’s four-page, 8 ½ by 11-inch newsletter, The Washington Spectator, published 22 times a year. Membership, which brings you the Spectator, is $15 a year, $12 for seniors and students. I only recently began receiving the publication – the subscription was a Christmas gift – but I am impressed. It is remindful of the days of I.F. Stone. The current issue is devoted largely to a strongly documented report on how the Bush family and friends are profiting mightily from the presidency. Profiting in real and very big dollars and operating, as many of us suspected, the most corrupt administration in American history.

You can join/subscribe by sending a check or money order with your name and address to The Public Concern Foundation, P.O. Box 20065, New York, NY 10011. Further subscription information is available by emailing subscriptions@washingtonspectator.com...or you can order a subscription through Amazon.com

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Be Nice (If You're a Democrat)

The most-published pundits, the op-ed writers and broadcast folks are calling for Democrats to be polite, to make nice with the opposition, to be “moderate” in all things. The volume and rhythm of the chorus has risen to such a crescendo over the past two or three weeks that it has taken on the unmistakable aspects of a campaign. In fact, it’s become so loud it’s downright discourteous.

Much of the make-nice advice is aimed at Howard Dean, of course. He got mad in Iowa, and the polite types in expensive suits, who had been poised for such an event, jumped in so quickly they almost mussed themselves. But it’s not entirely aimed at Dean, even when he’s the cited target of the remarks. The spokesmen for polite politics also are reminding other Democrats in what they consider to be a subtle way to be cool, to be ladies and gentlemen.

(No, of course the dainty folk of the media are not aiming similar remarks at Bush or any of his crowd, no matter how vicious. We have an awesome double standard here, and there’s no escaping that fact.)

I’m sorry Dean felt compelled to apologize for his Iowa outburst, but it’s understandable given the volume of the attacks.

As far as I can make out, there are two main reasons for the surge of deportment advice.

One is the agenda of the right (in both parties), which was freaked when Dean jumped into prominence on the basis of genuine grass roots support – a move that was in itself seen as intolerably discourteous to long-time political insiders. From the right’s viewpoint, one must wait one’s turn, gradually climb the ladder, take one’s share of the big-money campaign donations and hope for more later if the leaders are pleased with you.

The right wants to eat Dean’s liver, and if they can get him by selling the public the belief that he is too intemperate to be president, they’ll dance with glee.

And how is it working? A couple of days ago, a locally produced public affairs show on Twin Cities public television – a show hosted by smug political hangers on and peopled by even more unbearably smug party hacks from both major parties – dwelt briefly on the apparent shift of Democrats from Dean to John Kerry, the old-line pol. One of the Republicans on the show maintained that Kerry will make a more difficult electoral foe for Bush, but he simply couldn’t keep a straight face. He had to laugh as he said it, and there was no mistaking what he was laughing about..

The other motivation for telling Dems to be nice lies in the identities of media folks. As I’ve said before, they deeply identify with the power establishment. They demand a kind of obeisance that they haven’t received from Dean to this point – and they want to remind the other Democratic candidates that they can’t get away with anything short of kowtowing. And these days reporters mostly are solidly upper middle class suburbanites who are....discomfitted....in the presence of genuine anger, no matter how justified. It’s just not on, doncha know.

My own take on the political front today is: If you’re not angry, you don’t understand what’s being done to you. If you don’t express the anger plainly and effectively, the right will go on walking all over you.