Sheila Samples: Suddenly, This Summer...
Suddenly, This Summer...
By Sheila Samples
"The United States is not nearly so concerned that its acts be kept secret from its intended victims as it is that the American people not know of them."
– U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark
Folks who watch the fair-and-balanced coverage of Fox News or perhaps CNN, the most "trusted name in news," might think Camp Casey is a neat new name for the Gaza Strip in Palestine or even a teenage hideout in Aruba. They would probably be surprised to learn the camp is at President George Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, and is named after 24-year-old Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004.
Casey's mother, Cindy Sheehan, has been living in a tent on George Bush's doorstep since Aug. 6 -- three days after Bush assured a group of Texas lawmakers in Grapevine that the slaughter of 20 Ohio Marines from one battalion in a single week would not shake his will, because, by God, "we are at war." Bush crowed, "Our men and women who've lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and in this war on terror have died in a noble cause and a selfless cause."
That did it. Cindy Sheehan says she decided at that moment to go to the Crawford ranch and ask Bush one question -- just one. "What was the noble cause that my son died for?"
Now, it would not be unreasonable for the president of the United States to come out and answer one question from a grief-stricken mother whose child was sacrificed in what Bush so giddily proclaims a "noble" cause. But that's not how this president does things. No one calls the shots for Bush; he does not make mistakes, and he says the great thing about being president is that he doesn't owe anybody an explanation. About anything. Especially about his war, a noble cause which has settled gloriously around his shoulders like a Cicerian ruff.
Bush steadfastly refuses to hear the voice of "the people" or to even acknowledge they have a voice at all. The only call Bush hears comes directly from God -- not from the street rabble comprising the cannon fodder required for his legacy, nor from their keening mothers who are beginning to buzz around his head like pesky mosquitoes at a Texas all day singing and dinner on the grounds.
Parents shouldn't have to bury their children. Ever. It disrupts the "natural order" of things. Unfortunately, most of the world is in agreement that nobody is better at disrupting order than George W. Bush. Thanks to his callousness and cruelty, the "one-question" meeting with Sheehan that Bush could have resolved in less than an hour while racking up some badly needed positive PR evolved instead into a movement that is gaining both attention and velocity. It is assuming a life of its own, and is sweeping non-stop across the nation. Cindy Sheehan is emboldening Americans awakening to a nightmare of murder, genocide, torture, abuse, assassination, rendition -- lies piled upon grisly lies -- to break through the yellow ribbons encircling the patriotic detention camp their nation has become.
Suddenly, this summer. Free at last.
Although Sheehan was called to her stricken mother's bedside last week and remains in California, the number of sojourners to Camp Casey continues to grow. These concerned citizens believe their president should -- as Fox News' Sean Hannity demanded in 1999 when troops were preparing to go into Kosovo -- "Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life..."
The people are awake. Like Sheehan, they want answers. Yet, at Camp Casey...
I saw NO religious leaders striding bravely through the shimmering Texas heat in an effort to stem the flow of innocent blood. Where are the peace-loving Christians who should be speaking out on behalf of Jesus Christ -- who minced no words when it came to peace and love and mercy? Why do these Good Samaritans cross to the other side of the street and skitter by fearfully, lest anything even remotely resembling compassion should be expected of them?
I saw NO members of Congess from either side of the aisle with the courage to throw a supportive arm around Sheehan's shoulders and demand that Bush answer her single question. How can they? Like dogs in heat, some are in pursuit of their corporate donors who are marching triumphantly into Baghdad. Others, mostly Democrats, are calculating the political risk of showing their faces in public lest they be asked to take a stand on anything, especially a hideous war for which ultimately they must be held accountable. The silence surrounding the 78 elected women in Congress is as thick as an Iraqi sandstorm.
I saw NO objective mainstream media (MSM) coverage of Sheehan's vigil. Those forced to acknowledge that something of historical magnitude was gathering steam were very careful to "balance" a 10-second Sheehan sound byte with interminable interviews with those who condemned Sheehan for not supporting the troops in a time of war. It's easy for those who get their news from US state-controlled corporate media to get the impression that Sheehan is an "activist mom," that she is little more than an "anti-war advocate" who is being used by left-wing political groups for their ideological advantage. 
Actually, the electronic MSM left the building years ago and are little more than holographic images on our TV screens. Their goal, especially CNN and Fox, is to do whatever it takes to keep the people from challenging or embarrassing, as they like to say, "this president." The gist of their coverage is that the Sheehan "ditch witch" needs to just shut up and accept Bush's grand vision. Sheehan should leave, for her presence there forces God-fearing, family-values-oriented Americans to watch sausage being made in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, in spite of all they can do, Bush's noble cause is rapidly becoming the people versus the sausage-making machine. The MSM are indignant that Sheehan is forcing them to bother their beautiful minds with such a messy process. Sheehan needs to show more compassion when George Bush whines that he needs to "get on with his life." After all, her son's life is over -- why does she have to try to ruin his?
The print MSM, although not as racuous, has uniformly enabled Bush to act upon his spate of fantastical delusions, whether about weapons of mass destruction, regime change, distributing freedom to every individual of oil-rich countries as a gift from God, liberating the denizens of entire villages by blowing them off the face of the earth, or spreading democracy like a virus throughout an entire region. Rather than address the critical questions that Sheehan and others ask -- have every right to ask -- about why their sons and daughters are dying, most reporters turn the issue into a political pissing contest.
"Certainly Sheehan has caught a wave, and the ranch stakeout was very clever," Washington Post's Dana Milbank remarked on Aug 18 in an online discussion. "But she has been seeking publicity for more than a year ... and for the most part, the media ignored her." Milbank admitted it is "possible" for Sheehan to have ignited a movement that will continue, but added he believed "Sheehan's story will fade after the Roberts hearings start." Milbank also quipped that the only citizen who has a right to take a grievance to the president is -- Laura Bush.
In his own online chat the day before, Milbank's cohort at the Post, Jim VandeHei, yawned, "The White House thinks this whole story is a silly obsession of bored reporters with nothing better to do during the slow August."
The blase' attitude of Milbank and Vandehei is shared by the majority of their peers, with the exception of far too few editorial writers such as the Atlanta Journal-Consititution's Jay Bookman and the New York Times' Paul Krugman and, of course, Frank Rich -- who has no peer. While waiting for August to end, Milbank and Vandehei could perhaps amuse themselves and their readers with a rollicking account of the travails endured by a pack of their fellow reporters and photographers who accompanied Bush on a 17-mile bike ride on Saturday, Aug. 13.
Or not. I mean, after spending hours cycling through the Texas Johnson grass and loco weed with the leader of the free world, a "bonding" adventure if ever there was one, what's there to talk about -- the 1,868 butchered US citizens in Iraq, one of whom was Casey Sheehan, whose mother is camped out at the front gate?
No? Well maybe the bikers thought to ask Bush why he stubbornly continues to remain in a bloody IraqNam quagmire that continues to suck our sons and daughters under at more than three a day, continues to add more wounded and maimed Americans to the already 45,000 whose lives are shattered forever, continues a murderous rampage against innocent civilians in two countries whose existance on this planet is so trivial their deaths are not worthy of counting.
Too much hard work? Well, I'm sure those stalwart journalist cyclists were just bubbling with questions about the "nobility" of a cause wherein a president is willing to sacrifice his nation's citizens, its money, its very existance on an illegal, immoral, grandoise crusade to spread freedom and democracy -- only to back off at the last minute and support the creation of an Islamist state. Surely they are curious about such shuddering hypocrisy. For Bush to change horses in the middle of the Democracy stream is the most deadly flip-flop of all time. Bush's cowardly retreat screams an answer to Sheehan's question and to questions of all mothers who are waking up and realizing that their children have died -- will continue to die -- in vain.
Milbank flippantly opines that when this August non-story is over, Cindy Sheehan will be viewed as either "Rosa Parks or Lyndon Larouche." I have news for Milbank and his fellow MSM holograms -- this is not last August nor the August before and, as Yogi Berra once earnestly opined -- "it ain't over till it's over.
The people have Karl Rove in hiding; they have smoked Bush out and have him on the run. Bush is so rattled that he shouts "9-11!" to any question posed to him, calls out "9-11!" to questions not posed to him, and holds up a sign heralding "9-11!" to passers-by on the street.
The search for answers began with a single woman stumbling along through a tangle of weeds in a ditch beside a dusty Texas back road, with a single question to ask the president of the United States. She was ignored by the president, yet her presence ignited a movement that roared across the country at an astonishing rate, almost instantly becoming larger than one dead soldier and his heartbroken mother.
And it is not over.
The people are coming, and George Bush knows it. They want answers. They want the truth and they will not stop until they get it from Bush and his neoconservative handlers, from the heartless and destructive religious right, the corporate military-industrial jackals, Congressonal whores and cowards, from the hollow virtual media complex. And from the murderous Donald H. Rumsfeld.
When that happens, this nation will experience its own terrible and awesome "Suddenly, This Summer" moment.
Then, and only then, will it be over.
 Local media across the nation did an admirable job of covering candlelight vigils that lit up the entire US landscape last week. Great photos and coverage here -- where attendees are encouraged to post photos from vigils in their area -- and here.
 The Internet is literally pulsating with minute-by-minute reports from reporters at the scene -- reports that cannot be spun, watered down or scrubbed by the administration or the MSM. There are far too many to mention here, but check out Democratic Underground, TruthOut, Huffington Post, The Iconoclast, Bush's hometown paper, and Air America Radio.
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a
former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a
regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact
her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2005 Sheila