House Of Cowards

by Michael W. Stowell

May 20, 2002


When our local Redwood Peace and Justice Center, rpjc.net, opened last November someone donated a big box full of buttons, all sorts of buttons; from John Lennon 'Give Peace A Chance' buttons, to Martin Luther King 'I Have a Dream' buttons, to 'Nature Bats Last' buttons; hundreds of buttons, all loose and unorganized. While sorting through them, I found one very unique button that I kept for myself. It has a picture of George Bush I and the words, "I'm not a wimp - I'm a mass murderer."

It is difficult to believe that a more cowardly person exists anywhere on earth, but young George is proving himself worthy of an even bigger button.

Start with his campaign. He could have insisted on Nader's participation in the debates and addressed the concerns of those who disagree most with the Republicrats' status quo agenda. He could have created an opportunity to defend his beliefs and challenge those who disagree in an honest, open forum in front of the American people. He did not.

And then there was the election fraud. Thousands of Florida voters were denied access to the presidential election; many voters said their votes didn't count or they were turned away from polls due to mistakes on voter lists, there were busy telephone lines at election headquarters, punch-card voting machine foul-ups and other problems. Statewide, the largest number of voting problems were found in precincts with high proportions of black and elderly voters. Many law-abiding voters across the state said their names were dropped because they were mistakenly identified as ex-cons, who aren't allowed to vote in Florida. Why wasn't George W. Bush the first person to insist on a full recount of Florida votes and an investigation of voting irregularities?

What about the Enron/Andersen scandal? If George W. had any moral fiber at all he would tell us everything he knows about that shameful tragedy and help with the investigations. Only a coward will protect thieves - thieves who stole billions of dollars from people who were depending on that money for their retirement.

Why doesn't Bush demand that his vice president step forward and disclose all he knows about the influence peddling and corporate shell-games played by the energy giants? The Bush administration continues to deny the non-partisan General Accounting Office's request for information concerning who the White House Energy Task Force met with while formulating national energy policy. For the first time in history, the GAO has sued the executive branch for access to records. Why is the White House going to such lengths? What are they trying to hide? Surely a person of integrity would insist on full public disclosure.

Bush has refused to acknowledge the ominous evidence of global warming and intends to weaken the Clean Air Act. He has diligently pursued expansion of fossil fuel consumption and created even more threats to endangered species and the overall health of this planet's biosphere. Only a coward would shrink from the responsibility of leading this world to a greater respect for life and a greater awareness of the dire consequences of irrational industrialization.

Does Bush speak with a 'forked tongue'? He abandoned his campaign rhetoric on regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants; he said the nation's energy problems, not pressure from energy industry lobbyists, changed his mind. However, two weeks before Bush's pusillanimity, lobbyist Haley Barbour wallpapered the White House, from VP Dick Cheney on down, with a memo suggesting the president must provide a sound energy policy by not taking action against carbon dioxide. At the time, Barbour represented the interests of several energy companies that gave substantially to Bush's campaign.

Among Barbour's 50 lobbying clients at the time was an industry coalition, the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council. The lobbying group, which paid Barbour's business a half-million dollars last year, was set up by power-generation companies including FirstEnergy, Duke Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority. FirstEnergy was a top contributor to the Bush campaign. Commerce Secretary Don Evans, the former head of Colorado Oil, an oil and natural gas company, helped Bush raise a record amount of money during the 2000 presidential campaign. Once again, what kind of creep would endanger both the short-term and long-term health of the whole planet by enabling a bunch of greedy eco-rapists?

Now consider George W. Bush's reaction to the events of September 11th. He could have initiated an investigation into those events -- the whole world deserves to know what went wrong and why. Thorough investigations of rail disasters, plane crashes, and even natural disasters are conducted in order to understand what happened, to prevent them from happening again and to minimize the tragic effects when they do. Why, then, does Bush oppose an investigation into the tragedies of 9/11?

Survivors of the Embassy bombings are suing the United States government because, from court reports, it appears clear that the US had received prior warnings, but did little to secure and protect the staff at our embassies. Did the same thing happen again? Why hasn't the cowardly Bush demanded an answer?

And how could any person who loves democracy and justice condone a travesty like the so-called 'Patriot Act'? The name itself is a cowering lie, given what the Act contains and what it will someday be known for: its complete abdication of democratic law and principles. It utterly relinquishes any semblance of due process, violates the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments, and is the most comprehensive document and tool the fascist mind has ever created. If Bush is not a sneaking coward, why did he not warn the American people of this, the most abominable of violations of constitutional law?

What about the treaty setting up an international criminal court? Would he rather conduct global witch-hunts? He has rejected the concept of a permanent tribunal designed to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes, whining that the court has the potential to create 'havoc' for the United States, exposing American soldiers and officials overseas to 'capricious and mischievous prosecutions'. What does this man have against public trials and law and order? The whole world wants to know.

Regardless of our gutless leader's aversion to due process in open court, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will begin operations next year in The Hague. More than the required number of 60 nations have signed the treaty and the court's jurisdiction will cover crimes committed after July 1 of this year. The ICC will become the first new international judicial body since the World Court was created in 1945 to adjudicate disputes between states. Individuals are now tried in ad hoc or specially-created tribunals for war crimes (which reminds me, why didn't poltroon Bush speak out in defense of duly-elected President Milosevic when he was kidnapped and hauled off to that kangaroo court in The Hague?).

Then there is George W. Bush's cowardice and neocolonialist bullying through his proxy imperialist, Ariel Sharon. Thirty-five years of terrorism against the Palestinian people and now this renewed push for their complete dispersion. The human mind cannot conceive of greater ugliness. The Palestinians have long suffered torture, terror, destruction of property, displacement, and takeover of basic resources, crucially water. These policies have relied on decisive US support and European acquiescence. To quote the Great Recreant himself, 'if you support terrorism, you are a terrorist.'

Why did Bush send 'Mr. Goodcop' Colin Powell on a roundabout itinerary that fueled Arab suspicions that the United States is continuing to give Israel wide latitude to wage its repression and aggression? On the eve of Powell's arrival in Morocco, at least a half-million people took to the streets of the capital, Rabat, to protest Israel's military operations and U.S. backing for the Sharon government. That demonstration was the first pro-Palestinian rally that authorities have allowed since the latest round of violence erupted in late 2000 and was described by Moroccan authorities as one of the largest protests in the kingdom's history.

Similar demonstrations have swept the Arab world, from Egypt, a crucial U.S. ally and keystone of the Middle East peace process, to Bahrain, home of the Navy's 5th Fleet. Only the worst kind of coward spreads anger, hatred and suspicion on a global scale and hides behind a nuclear arsenal so terrible its existence is an implement of terrorism.

I'll not speak of Bush's complicity in the war crimes committed in Jenin.

Or of the cowardly bombing of Afghanistan.

Or of the cowardly, sneaky, U.S.-backed coup in Venezuela.

Or of the cowardly lies against the people and government of Cuba.

Or of the cowardly 'war on drugs' that is really a war on the disenfranchised and poor.

Or of the rest of the cowardly acts perpetrated by the cowardly cowards.

If I believed the 'mass media' and the House of Bush, it would seem as though I live in a nation of cowards, but I know that's not true. All I have to do is look around and I can see that the House of Cowards is an old, dilapidated shack that's ready to fall.

Give it a push.

...and check out the new RPJC website.

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Michael W. Stowell is chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Arcata Library in Arcata, CA. He is the producer/editor/videographer of numerous public access television programs; he is a naturalist, a gardener, a bicyclist and a Swans' columnist.

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Published May 20, 2002
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