MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS
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Connecting The Dots
By Larry Kelley
Life And Death
"That we are to stand by the President right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile but is morally treasonable to the American public."
-President Theodore Roosevelt
Death comes only once. But, as Ben Franklin said, "It lasts for such a long time." I don't remember who, but someone else once said that death comes in threes. Evidence of this was offered at the end of 2006 when Gerald Ford, James Brown and Saddam Hussein said good-bye. (Actually, Saddam's last words were "God is great," according to the tape, but that another distasteful story.)
This one is about remembering the dead. And these three will be remembered more heroically in death than in life.
James Brown will be remembered as the "hardest working man in show business," an electrifying soul man I once hugged emotionally after a live show in Trenton, N.J. But to those closest to him and the law, he was a nightmare, constantly involved in drugs, police chases and spousal disputes, physical and emotional.
Saddam, according to the bootleg video, was the only one at his hanging who seemed to have any class at all. He was calm and polite while surrounded by goons hurling insults at him. He was even cooperative and helpful, politely declining the black hood and accepting the rope. Certainly, more heroic in death than he was in life, Saddam spent most of his time as an American stooge, literally willing to do anything to stay on top.
Gerald Ford was best known in life for two things, serving on the Warren Commission after the Kennedy Assassination, and serving as President after Richard Nixon's resignation. In both cases, he was a good soldier who did his duty when appointed. Unfortunately, those duties included some rather distasteful acts. Like, supporting the Warren Commission's ridiculous conclusions, contradicted by its own evidence, and pardoning Richard Nixon for Watergate and all other crimes he may have committed.
But Ford, it seems, is a better president dead than alive. He gave reporter Bob Woodward an exclusive interview which he would allow to be made public only after his death. In it, he told Woodward that the Bush invasion of Iraq was a big mistake and we should get out quick. It would have been nice to hear it sooner but being the good soldier, Ford adhered to the age-old policy of former presidents not criticizing a sitting president.
* * *
But George McGovern is not a former president, although it would have been much better if he had won in 1972 when he ran against Nixon. His recent book, "Out of Iraq" calls for Bush to set a date "six months from now" and withdraw every American from Iraq, which, he told CNN "we turned into a glorious mess."
"Why continue this slaughter beyond what is necessary?" he told Wolf Blitzer. "We will continue to lose 125 soldiers a month."
McGovern, a fighter pilot during WWII and an early critic of the war in Vietnam as an L-word Senator, said Americans did not learn the lessons of Vietnam because "people were confused by the president and vice-president into thinking the 9-11 attack was the work of Saddam and the Iraqis ... 'deceitful politics'...and they said they knew of weapons of mass destruction, but there were no such weapons."
After his recent trip to Vietnam, Bush was asked what lessons from that war could be applied to Iraq, the Bush-man replied ominously, "We'll succeed unless we quit." In other words, he thinks we would have won in Nam if we had stayed even longer.
Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, told CNN, "The president isn't listening to anybody but Cheney and Cheney is dead wrong."
* * *
"What matters is what happens on the ground (in Iraq)," Bush told USA Today recently. "That would be the best way to show the American people that the strategy, the new strategy I've outlined (increasing troops), will work."
Shortly after this statement, we saw what was happening "on the ground." A series of car bombings killed over 100 Iraqi civilians and wounded another 100 in Baghdad marketplaces.
Iraqi gunmen then dusted off the old Trojan Horse trick by dressing as US soldiers and driving seven vehicles through three official checkpoints to target and kill five US soldiers in Karbala.
A US. spokesman said the Iraqi army didn't interfere because "they assumed it was American- on- American violence. "They thought American soldiers were attacking other American soldiers?
And then the Iraqis managed to down a US Black Hawk helicopter, killing 12 soldiers, by using a "shoulder-fired missile." Didn't anyone in Washington see "Black Hawk Down?"
* * *
The Iraq Study Group, a ten-member bipartisan commission, made a series of recommendations that the president not only ignored, but contradicted. The committee recommended diplomacy in the Middle East, (rejected); shifting combat responsibilities to Iraqi soldiers, (maybe someday); refraining from committing troops indefinitely and withdrawing all troops by 2008.
Bush's answer to the last two recommendations? MSNBC reported that Bush said he couldn't guarantee we'd be out of Iraq by the end of his presidency because "we don't set timetables."
Congress, elected mostly to end the Iraq mess, promptly passed a set of non-binding bipartisan resolutions condemning the troop "surge" and courageously declared funds for the war would not be cut off. Thanks.
A Washington Post/ABC poll at the end of January reported that 48% of Americans believe the war in Iraq is "the most important issue facing the president and lawmakers" and that two out of three Americans trust the Democrats more than Bush to deal with the problem. But the non-binding resolutions show all the courage of the Cowardly Lion.
* * *
A Florida judge has rejected a request from an unsuccessful candidate for US Congress to examine the source code of electronic voting machines alleged to have miscounted votes in the November election. Judge William Gary of Florida's second Judicial Circuit rejected the request by Democratic candidate Christine Jennings, saying the source code for the software used in the elections is a "trade secret."
Jennings lost by 369 votes in the 13th Congressional District race after more that 18,000 citizens failed to have their votes recorded, according to the PC World website. Gary wrote in his January ruling that allowing the plaintiffs access to the source code "would result in destroying or at least gutting the protections afforded those who own trade secrets." Jennings, on her web site, wrote that she would appeal Gary's ruling. "It's shocking that there is more concern for protecting a company's profits rather than protecting our right to vote," she wrote. "The secrecy and question marks surrounding electronic voting is creating a real crisis in confidence among American voters, and the only way to resolve this is by conducting a thorough review by outside experts."
Or bringing back the hanging chad.
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