MAXWELL:  Rush, George, Paul, Ariel, together at last

1/14/2004 – Printed in the EDITORIAL section of The St Petersburg Times Newspaper

Today’s column is a roundup. One dictionary defines a roundup as “a gathering in of scattered persons or things.”

So many persons and things in the news interest me at this time that I want to share a few with my gentle readers. And please do not ascribe any significance to the order in which these items are presented.

I love this one, appearing Tuesday in USA Today. Rush Limbaugh, the big mouth drug user, has spent a lifetime trashing the American Civil Liberties Union, calling it an enemy of a free America. Well, guess what? The pinko ACLU has come to the defense of the liberal-hating darling of Republican zealots.

According to USA Today, the ACLU has “filed court papers supporting Limbaugh’s argument that investigators violated his constitutional right to privacy when they seized his medical records to determine whether he violated any laws by obtaining prescriptions for about 2,000 painkillers from four local doctors.” The beefy Rush suffers from back pain.

Think about it: The ACLU is defending a despicable person who has made a lucrative career out of insulting defenders of the most cherished amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Ironically, Rush’s attorney, Roy Black, had the unmitigated gall to argue that Rush’s case affects all Floridians, regardless of political leanings. True, but will Rush, along with his Dittohead ilk, learn anything from the ACLU’s principled, liberal action? What I love most about the ACLU is that it will, on principle, defend the KKK and Nazis when these bastards are right.

Here is another gem. The U.S. Army War College, founded in 1901 and operated by the Army, has published a report asserting that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and has diverted precious resources and focus from the more serious battle against Al-Qaida.

Written by Jeffrey Record, a defense expert and a visiting research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College, the report blasts President Bush for claiming that Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida were “a single, undifferentiated terrorist threat.”

Pentagon officials dismissed Record’s findings, arguing that the respected scholar is entitled to his opinion. And whose opinion on terrorism does the Pentagon value? That of George W. Bush _ our most incurious president ever. Members of the Army War College, of which Record is one, publish must-read studies on military and national security issues.

The next item is a real doozy. Of course, we all now know who PaulO’Neill is. In case you have been out of town, O’Neill is Bush’s former Treasury secretary who has collaborated on a book contending that, during his tenure on the Cabinet, his boss _ from day one _ was disengaged on issues that mattered most but was hell-bent on invading Iraq. The decision on Iraq, O’Neill says, was made before the World Trade Center attacks.

All of that is fine, but here is the most interesting part of the O’Neill dust-up. Following O’Neill’s Sunday night appearance on CBS’ 60 Minutes, the White House began a probe into O’Neill’s possible misuse of classified (“secret”) documents in making his public case against Incurious George.

Now, here is why this ugly matter finds its way into my roundup: The Bush administration wasted no time _ one day _ in launching a fierce, legal attack against O’Neill, while it still has not shown any genuine interest in discovering who disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame, the CIA employee whose husband argued, in a New York Times column, that Bush had misled the public about Iraq’s supposed purchase of “yellow cake” from an African nation.

What is the difference between these two alleged breaches of loyalty? I will not insult the intelligence of my gentle readers by trying to explain.

My final item involves Israel. In attempting to justify the immoral, stupid construction of a 25-foot wall on the edge of East Jerusalem, home to thousands of Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had this to say: “I know that people are talking about the fence. You know who built the fence? Terror built the fence.”

If I did not know better, I would think that Jesse Jackson’s wordsmith was writing Sharon’s stuff _ “terror built the fence.”

A more salient question for Sharon to ask is this: You know who built terror?

The answer is a simple one, one that Israelis and their American supporters do not want to hear: The perpetual, daily dehumanization of the Palestinian diaspora built terror. The terror, therefore, built the fence. The fence, subsequently, will engender more terror, ad infinitum.

My simple roundup.