�Obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience�
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Nov 18, 2005, 20:17

George W. Bush�s Veterans� Day speech in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania was little more than damage control or, as the Bard put it, �a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.�

On November 11, one of the rotating captions under a picture of Mr. Bush speaking read:

President Bush today accused critics of the Iraq war of distorting the events that led to the U.S. invasion, saying Democrats viewed the same intelligence and came to similar conclusions. �While it�s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began,� the president said. �These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America�s will,� Bush said.

They�re hardly �baseless attacks,� and it�s becoming increasingly clear that Mr. Bush does not speak for America or Americans. Rewriting history is precisely what Mr. Bush was trying to do in his Veterans� Day speech. More offensive was the fact that he was doing it hiding behind the memory of those he sent to their deaths.

A few days later, Bush did the same thing in Alaska. The New York Times commented in a November 15 editorial:

Yesterday [November 14] in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today. It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true . . . The reports about Saddam Hussein�s weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful . . . Mr. Bush said last Friday [Veterans� Day speech] that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that �it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.� We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.

Sadly, exactly what Bush knew, when he knew it, and what he and his cronies concocted for their own political purposes may never fully be known thanks to Executive Order 13233, which Mr. Bush signed on November 1, 2001. Under 13233, �a former president�s private papers can be released only with the approval of both that former president (or his heirs) and the current one.� The New York Times clarified:

Before [the] executive order, the National Archives had controlled the release of documents under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which stipulated that all papers, except those pertaining to national security, had to be made available 12 years after a president left office.

Now, however, Mr. Bush can prevent the public from knowing not only what he did in office, but what Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did in the name of democracy. (Although Mr. Reagan's term ended more than 12 years before the executive order, the Bush administration had filed paperwork in early 2001 to stop the clock, and thus his papers fall under it.)

While addressing �threats to America� in his November 11 speech, Mr. Bush did make one accurate statement describing his administration, and he suggested the only appropriate course of action: �evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience . . . we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.�

  • A holier-than-thou (former) House majority leader, who had proclaimed his goal was to imbue American politics with �a biblical worldview,� indicted.

  • A vice president who wants to legalize government-sponsored torture: �Mr. Cheney�s proposal . . . would give the president the power to allow government agencies outside the Defense Department (the administration has in mind the C.I.A.) to mistreat and torture prisoners as long as that behavior was part of �counterterrorism operations conducted abroad� and they were not American citizens.� More recently, Former CIA director Stansfield Turner labeled Dick Cheney a �vice president for torture.�

  • A senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to the president who seems implicated in outing a CIA covert agent whose husband disagreed with the party line: �Lawyers involved in the case have said Mr. Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, face the possibility of indictment on perjury or other charges related to covering up their actions.� Libby was indicted �on five felony charges of lying to investigators and misleading the grand jury in the C.I.A. leak case.� Karl Rove remains under investigation.

  • And an obsessed president who surrounds himself only with yes-men: �Bush foreign policy has been undercut by the president�s unwillingness to listen to ideas that conflict with his convictions. It is a devastating portrait of a president cut off from contrary views.�

Mr. Bush�s conscience has traditionally taken a back seat to his political obsessions. In March 2005, the Washington Blade published an editorial that outed that closeted conscience:

Doug Wead, a former friend and confidante of the president�s, recently released a slew of tapes he secretly recorded of George W. Bush while he was gearing up for his first presidential bid. The tapes uniquely capture Bush in moments of honest reflection as he contemplated a host of issues and policies as he was trying to stake out his positions on matters as divisive as gay rights and courting Christian conservatives.

For those interested in equal civil rights for all Americans, one part of the transcripts and editorial was particularly illuminating:

After meeting with James Robison, an influential Texas evangelical minister, Bush was recorded saying, �I think he wants me to attack homosexuals. . . . This is an issue I have been trying to downplay. . . . I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays. . . . I�m not going to kick gays, because I�m a sinner. . . . How can I differentiate sin?�

Regardless of his personal opinions, Bush apparently had a solid grasp of how the Christian right viewed homosexuals. After reading an aide�s report from a convention of the Christian Coalition, Bush surmised, �This crowd uses gays as the enemy. It�s hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuals, however.� In retrospect, those words seem eerily prescient, even cruelly ironic. That understanding of the deep-seated fear by the Christian right of homosexuals was a guiding principle that Bush used in the 2004 election to whip this part of his constituency into a voting fervor.

Bush�s distaste for gay-bashing was shelved in favor of Karl Rove�s divisive plan. The Machiavellian strategy worked. Bush was reselected and his powerbase launched an unholy war against gay and lesbian American citizens and the so-called �homosexual agenda� that Rep. Barney Frank so well articulated in his speech on behalf of the Stonewall Democratic Federation at the 2004 Democratic National Convention:

Specifically, we want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial.

They include the right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked; and, yes, the right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being. (Italics mine)

�The right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military.� The �don�t ask, don�t tell� policy has been a disaster since its inception 12 years ago. Despite that fact, the Bush administration continues to fight the policy�s repeal, at extraordinary costs and with obsessive compulsion �unburdened by conscience,� but with the usual hypocrisy.

Human costs: �Army Brig. Gens. Keith Kerr and Virgil Richard and Coast Guard Rear Adm. Alan Steinman have been longtime vocal opponents of �don�t ask, don�t tell� but it is the first time they publicly announced they are gay. They are the most senior officers to come out, but all three said they were afraid to go public while still in the service because they would have been fired. The former officers said they had been forced to lie to their friends, family and colleagues to serve their country. In doing so, they said, they had to evade and deceive others about a natural part of their identity.�

Economic costs: �A poll released earlier this month shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans believe gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. A study done earlier this year by the Government Accountability Office shows that more than 10,000 service members have been discharged over the last 10 years under �don�t ask, don�t tell.� The GAO also reported that it has cost taxpayers more than $200 million to recruit replacements for LGBT enlisted service members who were discharged." (story)

Hypocrisy: The Bush administration has dismissed thousands of gay and lesbian military personnel under �don�t ask, don�t tell� at the same time it�s used others as fodder. From Lou Chibbaro�s September 23, 2005, Washington Blade story entitled �Out gay soldiers sent to Iraq�:

Members of the Army Reserves and the National Guard who inform their commanders that they are gay are routinely converted into active duty status and sent to the Iraq war and other high priority military assignments, according to a spokesperson for an Army command charged with deploying troops.

�The right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work.� In order to keep gay and lesbian Americans from earning �a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work,� Bush�s primary powerbase -- politicized Christian lobbying groups �obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience� -- have been boycotting every and any company that treats its gay and lesbian employees equally or that contributes to any organization promoting equality. The boycott king is Don Wildmon, chairman of the Mississippi-based American Family Association. AFA has boycotted or threatened to boycott many of America�s premier companies, including American Girl Dolls.

Mirroring those actions, political brethren have sought to revoke or deny benefits equality-minded companies and governments wish to offer. Shortly after a judge in Michigan ruled that public universities and governments could provide domestic partner benefits without violating a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2004, �The Michigan Senate . . . asked the state Supreme Court to issue a temporary injunction blocking domestic partner benefits from being issued to the same-sex partners of public-sector workers.� Their rationale was laughable: �If we�re really concerned about not disrupting people�s lives, we ought to keep the status quo until the court makes a decision,� said Sen. Alan Cropsey, a DeWitt Republican who sponsored the measures.

How could providing benefits to people possibly disrupt their lives? It can�t, but disrupting the lives of gay and lesbian Americans and their families is precisely the agenda of the Bush administration and the Christian Right.

�The right for [gay/lesbian] teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked.� John D. Moore is the author of Confusing Love With Obsession: When You Can�t Stop Controlling Your Partner and the Relationship and professor of health sciences and psychology at American Public University. On March 8, 2004, featured an article by Dr. Moore, entitled �The president�s assault on gay youth.� It examined the effects of antigay political and religious rhetoric:

When President George W. Bush decided to publicly embrace a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, cloaking his remarks in the guise of religion, he psychologically violated millions upon millions of gay and lesbian youth around the nation as well as the many millions more who are their parents and relatives. In short, Mr. Bush has made it fashionable to declare �open season� on a segment of our society. Make no mistake -- his intolerant message was quite clear: �You and your family are not part of the American family.� . . .

Consider what one 20-year-old student wrote in an essay about this topic in a class I instruct on gender psychology: �I have beaten up faggots before, and I used to feel guilty -- not anymore! Bush says fags don�t count, so I guess it�s cool to do it.� . . .

Dr. Moore�s article is no longer available at, but a letter about it is.

While �hate speech� laws and policies may pose too great a threat to freedom of speech, surely one would think that finding other ways to make all students feel safe in school would be acceptable. But not for those obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience.�

The same day Bush announced the nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, the Washington Blade featured a story about a group of Iowa pastors who objected to an educational forum on student safety if that �safety� included gay and lesbian students.

A group of southeast Iowa pastors plan to launch an organized protest of a school-sponsored forum planned for Tuesday [November 1, 2005] focusing on bullying and its affect on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. . . .

The group of pastors said they are opposed to focusing the attention on school safety for that specific group of students. �We�re just strongly against it,� said the Rev. Steve Perkins of St. John AME Church, who attended a meeting of pastors Thursday to discuss strategy for opposing what some among them described as the gay agenda.

Perkins and his fellow ministers do not want to see GLBT students singled out as a specially protected class of student. If that happens, the ministers fear that proponents of the homosexual lifestyle will gain access to the hearts and minds of Burlington youth. �We do want safety for all kids,� Perkins said, �and for them to have an opportunity to learn on an even playing field.�

One has to wonder how Pastor Perkins defines �an even playing field,� considering how things are playing out in the public schools of somewhat more liberal New York City:

 . . . about a third of the [LGBT] students [surveyed] reported being called names daily and 26 percent said they had been hurt or threatened. Others said schools did not investigate complaints. �You have a climate that is hostile to LGBT in every school in this city, and when you have peer pressure enforced by an administration that�s hostile, it drives students to drop out of school,� said Pauline Park, chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy.

�The right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being.� This is the Big One. Legal same-sex marriage. To be sure, early on in the Wead tapes Mr. Bush did say he was opposed to �gay marriage.� One must presume that opposition was based on his born-again religious beliefs since there wasn�t then, nor is there now any credible sociological, psychological or economic evidence that same-sex civil marriage harms anyone or anything -- as so well demonstrated by Massachusetts over the last 18 months -- despite the continued doom-and-gloom rhetoric from opponents such as Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and a coauthor of The Case for Marriage. Ms. Gallagher recently spoke at Princeton University and voiced the same old nonsensical arguments:

�Gay marriage is not some sideline issue,� Gallagher said. �Losing [the gay marriage debate] means losing the idea that children need mothers and fathers. It means losing the marriage debate. It means losing limited government. It means losing American civilization. It means losing, period.�

According to the Daily Princetonian article reporting the event, following the presentation �Gallagher�s credibility in accepting money from the Bush administration� was questioned.

The arguments against same-sex marriage are purely religious and political, �theocratic� one might say. Throughout Western history �theocracy� and its proponents have always been �obsessed with ambition and unburdened by� the conscience they say is guided by scripture.

Bluntly put, the �scriptures� are texts written by men for their own purposes. Many of them preach hate and call for violence and murder in the name of �God� to promote His spokesmen�s political agenda. In relation to homosexuals, the case was recently made by a group of renowned theologians: James L. Crenshaw, professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School; L. William Countryman, professor of biblical studies at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific; and Mary Rose D'Angelo, associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. Some of their comments were reported by The Ledger�s religion editor Cary McMullen in his article, �Theology Experts Explore Bible, Sex: FSC lecture speakers challenge some widely-held �truths��:

With respect to homosexuality, Crenshaw said it is forbidden in the book of Leviticus, along with bestiality and cross-dressing. However, he said the biblical prohibitions should not necessarily be taken as final.

�We must reject at the outset any notion of the supreme authority of scripture. . . . Even those who take most literal interpretation of biblical texts, who claim to believe everything literally, nevertheless sit in judgment on their meaning at every juncture because readers determine meaning,� he said. As a result, Crenshaw said, �those who practice alternative sexual lifestyles� should not be condemned.

Yet they are condemned, daily, by the theocratic forces that continue to support Mr. Bush�s failed policies at home and abroad. As was said, �we� -- as in We the People -- �must stop them before their crimes can multiply.�

The 2006 elections should be interesting . . .

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