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Brain Dead, Made of Money, No Future at All

  By William Rivers Pitt
  t r u t h o u t | Perspective

  Tuesday 17 August 2004

  To: George W. Bush
  1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
  Washington, DC 20500

  Dear George:

  A pretty awful joke has been making the rounds lately. Some might say it's an awful joke because of the comparison. Most, however, think it's an awful joke because it isn't funny. It's too close to the truth to be funny.

  The joke: What is the difference between President George W. Bush and President Ted Bundy?

  The answer: Bush killed more people than Bundy.

  See? I told you it was a terrible joke. On the one hand, it is in poor taste by commonly accepted standards to compare a sitting President to a notorious serial killer. On the other hand, though, the 943 dead American soldiers in Iraq, the more than ten thousand dead Iraqi civilians, the more than five thousand dead civilians in Afghanistan, and let's not forget the large crowd of Americans you toddled off to the Texas killing bottle while Governor, pretty much means you have left Mr. Bundy in the deep shade when it comes to the body count.

  There are, of course, the nearly 3,000 dead people from September 11th, people from all over the world. The 9/11 Commission broke out some buckets of whitewash, and like a group of dutiful Tom Sawyers, painted over the grim realities of that day. It couldn't be stopped, they said in their report. People like Richard Clarke, Sibel Edmonds and the families of the lost who know more about the events of that day than anyone on the planet, disagree.

  "Two planes hitting the twin towers did not rise to the level of Rumsfeld's leaving his office and going to the War Room? How can that be?" asked Mindy Kleinberg, a 9/11 widow who has become a leader in the truth movement. The thing is, Mindy, Mr. Rumsfeld was probably fine-tuning the Iraq invasion plan he'd been working on for years. He is, after all, a professional.

  Three more American kids got killed in Iraq today, George. That makes 30 dead American soldiers in the first 16 days of August. That's thirty more names to be added to the commemorative wall which will appear somewhere in Washington DC someday. Thirty more etchings in ebon stone, thirty more people who would not now be dead but for your decisions and your actions and your appalling dishonesty.

  I'm pretty bored with those commonly accepted standards that are supposed to be applied in the treatment of a sitting President. Too many people have been playing patty-cake with you over the last three years, George. Too many journalists looking to keep their sweet seat in the press crunch at the White House, too many television news anchors who think research and context is for other people, too many media outlet owners - read: 'massive corporations' - whose profit margins are intimately wed to your suicidal policies, and, frankly, too many politicians for the 'loyal opposition' who have been tested in the forge of true crisis these last years, and been found to be sorely wanting.

  So let's not have any patty-cake between us, George. Let's get down to brass tacks. Your people compared Senator Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein during the 2002 midterm campaign. Cleland left two legs and an arm in Vietnam, but your people did that to him anyway. A little hard talk, East Texas style, shouldn't be anything new to you.

  A wiser man once wrote this:

  "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure...if, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I can see it, if you don't.'"

  The wiser man who wrote these words was Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to his law partner Billy Hendron. Lincoln wrote this letter in 1848 while serving in the House of Representatives, years before he himself would assume the office of the Presidency. Lincoln became, in the fullness of time, a war President who unwillingly inherited his war, and then pursued it with grim determination.

  He summoned Generals like Ulysses Grant, whose essential demeanor, in the words of Civil War historian Bruce Catton, "was that of a man who had made up his mind to drive his head through a stone wall." From March of 1864 to April of 1865, Grant used the mighty Army of the Potomac as Lincoln's merciless fist, until the white flags were raised over bloodied ground at Appomattox.

  Lincoln was a war President who won his war, though the fighting of it was not his choice. He fought the enemies arrayed before him, and did not invent enemies out of whole cloth. Imagine Lincoln, faced with the Confederate insurrection, deciding to undertake an invasion of Greenland. He would have been laughed out of the White House. That's basically what you've done in Iraq.

  You fancy yourself a war President, right? "I'm a war President," you said on television not long ago. "I make decisions in the Oval Office with war on my mind." Your war in Iraq is a war of choice, not of necessity. It had nothing to do with September 11, weapons of mass destruction, or bringing democracy to the Iraqi people. It had nothing to do with defending the American people.

  Your boys wanted to get paid. Cash money on the barrelhead for Halliburton, right? Almost twelve billion dollars they've made to this point. Hey, it's good work if you can get it. All you had to do was use September 11th against your own people for months, scare them to death, denigrate the work of the weapons inspectors you agreed to send in there, flap around some claims about weapons of mass destruction (26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX gas, per your own words from your 2003 State of the Union Address), and then fly onto an aircraft carrier and declare victory while your people were still dying.

  As if that wasn't bad enough, you're also losing your war of choice.

  Hard to believe, isn't it? Your daddy rolled up Iraq like a windowshade when it was his turn at the big wheel. Your daddy made it look easy, which is perhaps why you thought you could take care of business over there on the cheap. Do you have trouble looking daddy in the eyes these days?

  Right now, the soldiers you sent into harm's way are fighting a running battle in the holy city of Najaf, which is home to the Shrine to Ali. Ali, in case you didn't know, is considered to be the legitimate heir to Mohammed himself by followers of the Shi'ite faith. Shi'ites all around the world - millions of them in places like Iran and India and right here in America - are reacting to this action in the same way Catholic parishioners in Boston would react if someone rolled tanks on the Vatican. If you so much as chip the paint on that shrine, you're going to unite yet another group of people in explosive rage against the United States.

  The gap between you and Abraham Lincoln is so wide, George, that it cannot be measured by any scientific instruments currently known to modern science. Abe had you pegged, though, 156 years ago. You were allowed to make war at your pleasure, and the world entire is desperately wondering how you can be stopped.

  You might have heard, George, about a fellow named Hugo Chavez winning the referendum on his Presidency in Venezuela. Millions of poor people flooded out of the hills to cast their votes for him, because he uses his nation's oil revenues to pay for their food and education. Quite a novel idea, yes? How many schools could we have built - schools like citadels - with the twelve billion dollars you have thrown at Halliburton? How many hungry people in your own country could have been fed? How many jobs programs could have been funded? How many catastrophically polluted Superfund sites could have been cleaned?

  That apparently wasn't on your program, George. You have eviscerated OSHA regulations - those pesky things that keep workers from getting injured and killed on the job - because you want to appear 'business-friendly.' The $1.5 million you got from the chemical industry in campaign funding compelled you to lower the safety standards for chemicals used in the production of superconductors, chemicals that are believed to cause miscarriages in pregnant workers. You eliminated overtime pay for six million workers, going so far as to have tips for employers posted on your administration's Labor Department website which will help them screw employees out of the wages they earn. You have obliterated environmental protections across the board.

  The list goes on. For a man who fashions his political persona as a "regular fella," you have delivered a large screwing to the real regular fellas who are going to have to plow through the wreckage you've left in your wake.

  I worry about you, George. You live in a stark black-and-white world, and you actually think God speaks to you. There are a lot of people in padded rooms, wearing coats that button up the back, because they have had similar delusions. You see monsters everywhere. Some of them do exist, to be sure, but I am forced to remember the words of Frederich Nietzsche: "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you."

  You have become a monster, George, and the abyss is staring into your eyes. I wonder what it sees there. I know what I see.

    William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and international bestselling author of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You To Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'