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Editorial: Bush, Betrayal, & The War For Our Lives

Bush, Betrayal, Bowling for Columbine, the NRA, And the War for Our Lives

Buzzflash Editorial
October 24, 2002

When George W. Bush uses the war on terrorism to achieve personal, financial, and electoral goals, he isn't just playing politics; he's playing with our lives.

Survival is the most basic of human instincts. Americans want to fight terrorism not out of some great patriotic motivation; the reality is that we all want to wake up tomorrow and share another day with our families and friends.

The Bush cartel has made an art out of converting our desire to live into a bludgeon of fear. Under Karl Rove's guidance, we have been the victims of chronic emotional manipulation worthy of infamous dictatorships.

Take for instance the current horror of sniper shootings in the D.C. area. The Bush administration, other than to support the anti-law enforcement position of the NRA on ballistic "fingerprinting," has been virtually silent on the escalating number of sniper victims. On Wednesday, Bush managed to acknowledge that there is a "ruthless killer on the loose."

Did Bush just learn of the sniper attacks on Wednesday? No, the answer is much more sinister -- and unforgivable. Newsweek journalist Howard Fineman, a general Bush booster, nonetheless, took issue with Bush's relative silence on the issue. (Even John Ashcroft has been muzzled, except to issue a puzzling statement that the FBI would not oversee the case that involves a highly skilled marksman killing people over a three-state area.) Fineman noted that the White House political thinking was that it might hurt GOP candidates if Bush involved his administration too much in spotlighting the mounting carnage in the D.C. Area.

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The Karl Rovian mindset, according to Fineman, appears to be that if Bush draws attention to the sniper, it might help pro-gun control candidates in the Virginia-Maryland area. Furthermore, taking note of the murderous rampage might jeopardize Karl Rove's admitted strategy of causing havoc in the Democratic efforts to develop a "thematic campaign" to challenge the Republicans. In short, the White House has chosen to run a "disciplined" mid-term political campaign even at the potential expense of American lives.

BuzzFlash will also add some other reasons that the White House has virtually ignored the sniper shootings:

1) It could undermine the NRA's position on ballistic fingerprinting and disgruntle some of Bush's key supporters

The biggest grassroots ally of the Republican Party, as stated by Republican political leaders, is the NRA. By drawing attention to the Sniper shootings, Bush would be awakening the public to the sniper subculture condoned by the NRA. It would also put Bush further on the defensive for siding with the NRA against a proven crime-fighting and crime-solving tool: ballistic fingerprinting. It would belie the Bush effort to paint anyone who opposes him as aiding the enemy, because, in essence, the White House is aiding the enemy from within our own borders by siding with the NRA in opposition to implementing a "gun control" measure that might have cut down on the number of sniper victims.

On the same day that the 13th victim died at the hands of the "one shot, one kill" sniper, Charlton Heston was in New Hampshire exhorting white male gun "enthusiasts" to turn out for the Republicans. Heston is embarking on a farewell tour of rallying the NRA/GOP faithful with histrionic musket waving and words of gun worship, which amounts to pandering to people who believe that the great gift of American democracy balances itself on the barrel of a gun.

No, don't expect to hear much from George W. about the sniper, until he's caught. (Then he'll make a big hullabaloo out of it.) It might alienate the new grassroots army of GOP voters: the gun lobby.

2) It would acknowledge domestic terrorists and their Republican support

If Bush were to focus on the sniper shootings with some of the vehemence with which he denounces Saddam Hussein, he would admit that we have an internal terrorism problem -- and that not all terrorism is carried out by the "evil" outsider (that is to say a follower of Islam). Bush has failed at finding, by all accounts, the domestic anthrax terrorist who targeted "liberals," and has said virtually nothing about it. He also never, as far as we know, denounced the abortion clinic terrorist Clayton Lee Waagner. (Waagner has said on two occasions that he admires John Ashcroft, and that he understands that Ashcroft was forced to arrest him.)

Given that the anthrax terrorist likely obtained his supply from a military or CIA contracted lab; given that Timothy McVeigh was a former soldier in the army; given that the D.C.-area sniper likely has military connections; given that the armed internal militias are generally composed of NRA supporters and many have had military training, it would be politically "off message" to acknowledge an internal terrorism threat, even when it becomes a reality.

3) It would highlight the Bush Administration's ineffectual war on terrorism

By discussing domestic terrorism, or even drawing much attention to overseas acts of terrorism such as the massacre in Bali, Bush would, again, be politically "off message," because the Bush cartel has staked everything on making Saddam Hussein the source of almost all "evil." Any terrorism, at this point, that occurs without a verifiable Iraq connection is evidence, de facto, that Bush is not necessarily winning the war on terrorism. In short, discussion of such terrorist acts or potential strategies to prevent them opens up the issue that the Bush administration wants to avoid at all costs; i.e., is the Bush administration implementing effective policies in the war on terrorism or is it just saying, "shut up, we know what we're doing, and if you don't agree with us, you are aiding and abetting terrorism"?

In his brilliant, reflective film on America's legacy of gun violence, "Bowling for Columbine," Michael Moore comes to the conclusion that the United States has become a nation driven by fear. He, in a short cartoon (midway through the documentary) concisely summarizes the historical relationship between fear, gun ownership and racism, nailing down the irony that the one freedom that Americans seem least able to enjoy is a freedom from fear.

Moore shows, as he threads his thesis together with documentary footage, that the American media has turned violence and tragedy into titillating entertainment that only reinforces fear, creates a psychological need for more people to buy guns, and fosters a continued cycle of violence. After all, what would be on the weekend news if there were no "knife and gun club" activity to cover?

But he does more than explore how we have become a nation hot-wired into a permanent subconscious state of fear, due, in large part, to the news media (which packages violence as a form of entertainment), the gun lobby (including the profitable gun industry), and racism. With just a few broad strokes, Moore shows how the Bush Administration has taken advantage of a nation in fear to fulfill in its own political goals and enrich its supporters.

In pursuit of its self-serving agenda, the Bush administration plays the American public for fools, changing its story and spin so fast, it hardly lasts a news cycle. It uses so-called terrorist alerts at opportune moments to dampen discussion of other issues that might be embarrassing to the White House -- and White House "Senior Officials" even admitted that they used so-called "terrorist alerts" to put the Democrats on the defensive (after the discovery of an August 2001 memo and briefing that alerted Bush to the heightened potential for a serious attack, which he responded to by taking a month's vacation). Andrew Card, the White House Chief of Staff, boasted that the administration had to wait until September to, "package" the Iraq war.

Adding to this dangerous political game, the Bush cartel has given us more than ample reason to believe that they are blundering incompetents when it comes to fighting terrorism. They set up one goal after another that they haven't achieved, such as Bush's threat to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive." Other than bomb a stone age nation into the pre-stone age, what has Bush accomplished?

He's accomplished one thing: allowing his friends and family to profit from a nation in fear of fear itself.

For most Americans, the war on terrorism -- at home and abroad -- isn't about patriotism or politics, it is about coming up with the best plan for ensuring that we, and our loved ones, stay alive.

After all of Bush's blustering talk and often nonsensical claims, all we're left with is an administration that has shown itself, for the most part, to be a band of inept, politically motivated zealots, who put their agenda first -- and our lives second.

And that's something we should fear.


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Editorial Postscript: On the morning of October 24, as this BuzzFlash editorial posted, arrests were made in the sniper shootings. Meanwhile, Bush is out campaigning and raising money for a Republican victory on November 5th. During the course of the sniper shootings, Bush spent most of his time on the campaign trail, hauling in the dollars, while the residents of the D.C. Area cowered in fear, with nary a word of support from the White House.

Also during this period of time, while Bush was engaged in partisan politics, the head of the CIA stated that the likelihood of an Al Qaeda terrorist attack is as strong as it was prior to September 11th.

Excuse us, but what has the Bush cartel been doing for the last year?


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