Tuesday, April 18, 2006

“Decider” House Rules

"I'm the decider and I decide what's best."

President George W. Bush's words a couple of days ago, stating that he planned to stand firm behind embattled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, gave me pause.

“Decider?”

Is that even a word?

Well, if someone who runs is a runner, then someone who spits must be a spitter and someone who decides must, then, be a "decider." I guess we're all "poopers," too?


Really, though, shouldn’t the leader of the most prosperous and advanced nation (though I have my doubts of late) use better ... I don't know ... more "growner upper" words? How about, “I’m a leader and I stand by my decisions" or “I contemplate, then stand by my convictions"?

But "decider?" Really?

Oh well, our “decider” has decided and that’s that. No matter how big the pile of poop he's created gets, Bush says Rumsfeld's done "a fine job" -- kind of like Brownie, I guess.
This despite recent charges from the New York-based group Human Rights Watch that Rumsfeld might have been fully aware of the abuses inflicted on at least one prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay. The international human rights group is asking the president to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Rumsfeld and other senior Pentagon officials.

"The question at this point is not whether Rumsfeld should resign," said Joanne Mariner, HRW's director of terrorism and counter terrorism, "it's whether he should be indicted. A special prosecutor should look carefully at what abuses Rumsfeld either knew of or condoned."

The "Decider is sticking by his man even after six retired military commanders publicly declared Rumsfeld “unfit to lead the nation's military forces” and called for his resignation.

“What's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense," Bush responded in news conferences.

The military critics, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
pointed out , are not "perfumed Pentagon princes." They’re Marine and Army generals, who unlike Bush and Rumsfeld, have seen up close combat that's taken soldiers' lives.

But, hey, what do those who Bush and Rumsfeld describe as “two or three or four retired people” really know?

Apparently quite a bit. Just listen to NPR host Diane Rehm’s
interview Tuesday with Retired Major General John Batiste and other military leaders. Batiste, who specifically retired to speak publicly against Rumsfeld and the poop he and Bush created in Iraq, lays out a succinct argument for the defense secretary’s ouster.

No matter. We abide by “Decider” House Rules these days and that's scary stuff if you allow your mind to dwell on it -- especially c
onsidering his response to the question about plans for a nuclear strike against Iran:

"All options are on the table,” the president replied.

What!?


Just how exactly are China, Russia, Germany or any key members of the U.N. Security Council supposed to keep international tensions on low-boil with a trigger-happy “decider,” who's still cowboying through Iraq by the way, blabbering about dropping nukes?

Now, I’m no Condoleeza Rice, but how can Bush expect Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or North Korea’s Kim Jong-il to quietly abandon their nuclear ambitions when he’s unwilling to take a nuclear option against them off the table.

Haven't our misguided adventures in Iraq convinced enough Americans that the president's simple talk comes with very dangerous consequences? How long was it after Bush uttered the words "axis of evil" that we found ourselves embroiled in the nation-building, democracy-spreading fiasco that is Iraq?

I get nervous when Bush sounds his goofiest. Because while we're laughing, the "Decider" is deciding and nothing ... I mean nothing ... is funny about that.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

FUN WITH DICK & GEORGE

by Sylvester Brown Jr.
"If You're Not Completely Appalled, Then You Haven't Been Paying Attention..."
My wife's bumper sticker speaks volumes about America's response to the capers of the Bush administration, but only partly.
Within the past few months, we've heard about the president's illegal wiretapping program, his efforts to allow takeover of American seaport operations by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates, and his recently exposed plot with Britain's Tony Blair to start the war in Iraq even if no WMDs were found.
Then, last week, we learned Bush directed Vice President Cheney to leak classified information (already proven false, by the way) to bolster the case against Iraq. The winking and nodding that insued ultimately exposed a CIA agent, Valerie Plame. Why? To discredit Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who dared to challenge Bush's whopper of a tale about Saddam Hussein's attempts to obtain "yellowcakes," a processed form of natural uranium ore, for his nuclear weapons program.
Are Americans paying attention? Some are, but it seems to make little difference. The Bush crowd figured out a long time ago that the attention span of many Americans lasts about as long as OxyContin in Rush Limbaugh's briefcase. All the administration has to do is deny, deny, deny and sprinkle the debate with a few cliches like "executive privilege" and "war on terror." They then turn to Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and other journalistic prostitutes (those at the FOX News brothel included) to parrot the rhetoric and Presto! our A.D.D.-challenged electorate gets distracted by the pretty, red, white and blue balloons.
It's not like credible information isn't available. Last week's Washington Post article painstakingly laid out how Cheney's former top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, followed orders giving select members of the press "select" classified information to discredit Plame's husband. HuffingtonPost Blogger, Larry Johnson, offers an excellent chronology of events that blows away any doubt that the president lied (and kept lying) about the whole sordid Plame affair.
Yet, the masses of voters act as if all is well in the White House. Why? Because "the facts" are more complicated -- the evidence not as visible as a stain on a blue dress.
If Democrats and the so-called "liberal" press ever want to get serious about exposing the president's follies and contradictions, they'll have to find a better, more effective means to communicate. Forget about blogs, mass e-letters and in-depth investigative reports. That's a waste of time with the majority of lazy Red State voters.
Maybe the progressives ought to borrow a tried and true method that helped millions learn the "basics." Maybe it's time to communicate with the uninformed, uninspired voters on another level. Maybe it's time for a simpler approach:

FUN WITH DICK AND GEORGE
Red State Reader Books

CHAPTER ONE

"Come, George, come and see," said Dick.

"What is it, Dick? I can't see," said George.

"Yellowcakes, yellowcakes, see, George, see. See the mean brown man with yellowcake? He wants to blow up the world. We should tell everyone," said Dick. "Every boy and every girl."

"I'll pretend to see," George said. "Will everyone else see, like me?"

"Don't worry, George, we'll make sure they all see what we see," said Dick.

"This is a happy day for me. A happy, happy day," George clapped.

CHAPTER TWO

George was sad. No one believed he saw yellowcakes.

Mean old Joe said there was no such thing.

"George told a lie, lie, lie," Joe told everyone.

Dick was mad at Joe for making George sad. Dick was mad, mad, mad.

"Don't worry, George. I'll stop Joe. You wait and see."

"How?" asked George.

"I'll tell his secret," said Dick. "Then everyone will stop believing Joe and believe you again."

George was afraid. He and Dick were team leaders. They were supposed to play by the rules. Revealing team secrets is wrong, wrong wrong, George thought.

"Oh, no, Dick. If we tell, we might go to jail."

Dick laughed at George.

"Ha, ha, ha. Don't worry George. I will tell Scooter to tell. He will tell. We won't go to jail. Never, never, never! We will never go to jail."

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," George said.

CHAPTER THREE
Scooter said, "Come here, Judy."
"Come here, Matt."
"Come here, Bob."
"See, see, see? See what Dick wants you to see?"

"I see," said Judy.
"I see," said Matt.
"Where? Where?" asked Bob.

"Will you tell all the others?" Scooter asked. "Will you all tell?"

"I don't know," answered Matt.

"Pretend I was never here," said Bob and Bob ran away.

"I'll tell, I'll tell," said Judy, happily. "I told everyone about the mean brown man with yellowcakes. I'll tell this, too."
"I will tell everyone what Dick wants us to see. Tell, tell, tell," Judy sang.
CHAPTER FOUR
George was sad. The team found out he and Dick were telling secrets.
Matt had told. Bob had told. Judy went to jail. Scooter might go to jail, too.
George was afraid that he and Dick might get kicked off the team.
He started to cry.
Dick laughed at George.
"Ha, ha, ha. Don't cry George. The team will blame Scooter, not you, not me. Scooter will go to jail but we won't. Never, never, never! We will never go to jail."
Dick gave George a pretzel and let him sit on his lap.
George felt much better.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dick," George said.
And George fell fast asleep.
Other Red State Reader Books:
Dick and George Steal an Election (Parts 1 & 2)
Dick and George Go to Church
Dick and George and the Scary Hunting Trip
Dick and George Have Fun With the Constitution
Dick and George Go to Jail


Thursday, April 06, 2006




Rise of the Black Racists?

An interesting phenomenon has occurred in this country over the past 40 years or so.

Back in 1966, a person tagged with the term "racist" more than likely had white skin. Back then, it was the Confederate-flag-waving, civil-rights-loathing, black-skin-hating, KKK, Bull Connor, Gov. George Wallace type who wore the label.

More and more, however, I'm hearing seemingly articulate, professional, high profile white folk casually refer to blacks as "racists."

Just the other day, embattled former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) called Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) a racist while threatening to file ethics charges against her. Last month, conservative pundit and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin dissed a young prodigy, Autum Ashante, after the girl's poem, "White Nationalism Put U In Bondage," made national news.

"Meet the 7-Year- old Racist Poet," Malkin wrote in her March 15th blog. According to Malkin, the child shouldn't be blamed; she's just the product of Black History Month in public schools, separate recruiting programs, and government contracts awarded by race.

"Autum Ashante is the natural offspring of militant multiculturalism and government-sanctioned identity politics. We reap what we sow," Malkin wrote.

I'm assuming everyone with a computer, TV, radio or newspaper has read or heard about Ashante and McKinney. There's definitely room for criticism and defense of both individuals, but I'm not going to wade into those murky waters -- at least not now.

Instead, let's discuss the application of the word "racist." Readers of my column sometimes call me racist. It always puzzles me. Yes, I discuss race relations and hot-topic cultural issues and, at times, I even criticize perceived racist actions, but I don't consider myself a racist.

When did it become racist to talk about race? Can African Americans even be racists? Have we enjoyed so much cultural progression that the word has taken on a generic connotation?


I read quotes from several whites that called McKinney and the young poet racists, but they weren't the only ones. Some blacks did, too.

Maybe the word has been revised. After all, rappers claim they've changed the meaning of the words "pimp," "Ho" and the "N" word. Perhaps whites and a few blacks flipped the script on the "R" word, too.

If so, I missed the memo.


I turned to my nifty desktop dictionary for clarification.

"Racist (noun):
The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Discrimination or prejudice based on race."

So, according to the dictionary, blacks can, in fact, be racist. In a practical, historically accurate sense, however, I don't agree.

Racism without power is like a gun without bullets. Sure, blacks can be prejudiced. I'm sure there are many who don't like whites simply because they're white. And, yes, blacks can be racial opportunists. They can certainly use race to advance their careers or cover transgressions. McKinney might be an opportunist and young Ashante may very well be prejudiced, but can they be racists?

I don't think so.


McKinney's and Ashante's actions and words are not powered by slavery, rape, lynching, Jim Crow, and property theft or the denial of basic privileges like home ownership, voting rights, education, civil liberties and the use of public accommodations. Their words are just words. Their "prejudice" lacks bullets.

In my day the definition of a racist was clear. I suspect it still is. Unless, of course, you ignore the history from which the word was born.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jesus and the Dead Presidents

He reflected on his father’s orders as he walked down the billowy path.

“Things are out of control down there,” his Father boomed. “Go, choose one to return and straighten things out.”

He absolutely hated going to that room. Some of the occupants were pleasant. Others were enlightened and wise. But most were just so, so … full of themselves. Even here, in this perfect place.

The atmosphere in that place was not at all like his favorite spot, the room of “Peace and Philosophy.” The many years he’d spent there, discussing everything (and nothing) with Plato, Sojourner, Confucius, Gandhi, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Einstein, Curie, King, Teresa and the other “Wise Ones” passed like hours.

Even the crude “Room of Comedy” was far better than that other room, Jesus thought to himself, recalling how the room had livened since Pryor’s arrival. Why, just the other night, he’d helplessly spit a mouthful of wine on Peter and Paul while laughing at Foxx, Hope, Belushi, Skelton, Bruce and Pryor as they engaged in something they kept calling “the Dozens.”

He could already hear quarreling despite the fact that he was yards from the dreaded room. No doubt, some of them were engaged in their usual debate over the same meaningless matters.

He had begged his father not to give these souls their own quarters. After all, on Earth, they were of the same hue and from the same country. How could they possibly attain a higher, more enlightened status if they mingled just amongst themselves? Jesus had asked his Father.

But, no, Yahweh, still very much in favor of “free will” (despite the whole Adam and Eve fiasco), didn’t interfere. When the boisterous ones of the group pleaded for special quarters, his Father granted their wishes.

“Perhaps they’ll learn from each other’s mistakes,” God had told Jesus.

Jesus looked up at the sign hanging above their garish door:

“The White House II,” they’d named it.

“As if that matters here,” Jesus muttered, shaking his head.

“It makes ‘em feel important,” a quiet voice responded. “That’s all that matters to them.”

Jesus, smiled, instantly recognizing the voice of a frequent visitor to the room of “Peace and Philosophy.” He was relieved to find his old friend outside, playfully arranging and rearranging stars.

Perhaps he wouldn’t have to step foot into the ghastly “White House” room after all, Jesus thought with relief.

“Abe,” he gushed. “So good to see you. I need you. Things are in total disarray down below. Allah asked me to choose the most qualified to straighten things out. You’re the perfect ….”

“No,” Lincoln interrupted. “I did my best, Jesus. Really, I did. But things are still the same. One party thinking they’re better than the other. Whites thinking they’re better than blacks and countrymen thinking they’re better than the whole darn world. It’ll take a better man than me to fix what’s going on down there …

“Please, choose someone else,” the lanky, bearded gentleman exclaimed.

“I understand,” Jesus answered, placing his hand on Abe’s shoulder before turning toward the door, which obediently swung open.

The bickering was even louder and more chaotic inside the room. These souls argued daily and loudly about who had had the best, strongest, most expansive, most effective foreign policy, war strategy, domestic agenda or social reform policies. They hadn’t even noticed the Son of God in their midst … until he shouted.

“I NEED ONE OF YOU TO GO BACK AND STRAIGHTEN OUT YOUR COUNTRY!” Jesus yelled through cupped hands.

All heads turned first toward Jesus, then to the balding, pudgy statesman who stood, grabbed his feathered hat and sword and strode slowly toward Jesus.

“I’ve been awaiting your orders, Commander,” Washington said, saluting.

“Once we climbed back in bed with the Brits, chaos was sure to follow. It’s not our fault, you know,” Washington whispered. “It’s the Brits – you can’t trust them.”

America’s first president paused to fasten his red battle vest.

“It’s all part of that Cheshire cat Tony Blair’s little plan to get his grubby little paws around the throats of our broken and battle-tired country. It won’t happen, I tell you. I won’t allow it!”

Teddy Roosevelt pushed Washington aside like a rag doll. “Balderdash,” he shouted. The other presidents parted as Teddy lunged through the crowd, swinging a big wooden stick.

“I’ll go. The world needs a real rough rider, not a mumbling, illiterate pretend cowboy,” Roosevelt thundered. “Give me another swing at it, Jesus. I’ll straighten it out. Real quick like.”

“No, that’s okay … really,” Jesus replied, scanning the room of souls. His eyes rested on a shivering ghost, crouched in a far off corner, cramming jellybeans in his mouth.

“You, there, Ronald. Won’t you go?”

The former actor’s eyes widened. His skin grew pale. “Well … uh … I… c-can’t,” Reagan stammered. “Those, those men … Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Baker … they scared the bejeebies out of me when I was there. Their empire is even stronger now. Please don’t make me … I -I just can’t face them again. I - I won’t go back, not now … n-not now.”

Richard Nixon stepped up.

“I’m your man, Jesus!” he said dressing his hair with a spit-soaked comb.

“My old party is in control. And GOD … oops … oh … I’m sorry … but haven’t you heard? They’ve LEGALIZED wire-tapping. I was just before my time, you know. Today’s scene is my scene. Please, Lord, send me. Send me.”

“Err ... No,” Jesus replied curtly, turning his back on Nixon.

He briefly glanced at Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. Both souls dropped their eyes. Jesus knew their hearts. Both were sickened by the acts of man. His Apostles Matthew, Luke and John had told him of the men’s anguished pleas for forgiveness. Truman’s nightmares of the atomic bombs and those charred bodies haunted him still, even now … even in heaven.

Andrew Jackson sat shuffling a deck of cards at a nearby table. When their eyes met, Jackson gave the Son of God a knowing smile. Jesus read his silent thoughts. They angered him.

“No, Andrew! It is out of the question!” Jesus bellowed.

“My Lord, forgive me,” Jackson whispered, “but … but, who else?”

“No, Andrew,” Jesus protested weakly, anticipating the seventh president’s thoughts.

“Great One,” Jackson continued gingerly, “some of us have learned many things here. We know the folly of war and the foolishness of greed and power. But the weapon used now … the tool that motivates the madness, manipulates their fears, unites the uninformed and inspires this chaos is much greater than all of us who call this room home.”

“And what is this all-powerful weapon?” Jesus snapped, already knowing the answer.

“It is You, Great One. They use … YOU … as their weapon,” Jackson replied.

“ENOUGH!” Jesus shouted, rushing out of the room.

How desperately he wanted to dwell quietly in the room of “Peace and Philosophy.” He longed to detour to the “Room of Comedy” – if only to blot out his memories with laughter.

Instead, he walked into the House of Jehovah.

“Well?” God asked his son.

“These men in the White House … Father … They are of no use to us …”
Site Feed Subscribe to Sylvester Brown Jr./ Columnist