News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Friday, April 6, 2007

Is "Nancy Pelosi" the N-word?

Stephen Colbert suggested it. And all the furor about Nancy Pelosi's stop in Syria while she is touring the Middle East reflects nothing more than the inane, petty, and malevolent depths in which our political system has become mired.

We like to cite the Orwellian state into which America has been thrown--but we have to admit that a super majority of Americans now recognize that fact, according to the opinion polls. Another book of note, Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny seems more relevant at this juncture.

The movie version, featuring Humphrey Bogart and Fred McMurray, still plays on cable television with some frequency. The situation is that a would-be novelist on board The Caine foments a mutiny against a captain who shows signs of incompetence brought about by a mental disorder. When his ship is ordered to tow some targets for some naval artillery practice, the captain becomes so distracted by some petty business brought to him on the bridge, a crewman's shirttail hanging out, that he doesn't notice that his ship is sailing on a course that severs the tow line. This is an act of negligence and incompetence that brings into question the captain's fitness to command. Later, the ship's captain shows signs of cowardice when he is to cover a marine beach landing and later shows incompetence and fear when caught in a tropical storm.

The ship's officers use a military procedure to declare the captain unfit to command, confine him to his quarters, and have him cited before a military court. The ships' officers are brought up on charges of mutiny. A very shrewd lawyer gets them off by provoking Captain Queeg into putting on a demonstration of his mental disorder on the stand. But the lawyer raises the question of whether the officers should have deposed Queeg from command or whether they were provoked into such drastic measure by the would-be novelist. The officers are confronted with the question of whether they could have prevailed upon the captain to make the appropriate decisions in the matters in which he was at fault.

The 15 British seamen and marines held hostage by Iran for a time renew the questions of command. Some of we old soldiers have questioned whether the British military has a code of conduct which insists that captured soldiers need give only their name, rank, and serial number when captured. We also questioned where the support was from their mother ship and why they were putting on televised confessions. Those questions were answered today. They were not operating as combatants in boarding the ship they inspected. This was the 66th such inspection of ships traveling in Iraqi waters for the purpose of preventing military contraband from being sent to Iraq. Iran is not designated as an enemy, so the rules of engagement that require armed resistance to aggressive acts do not necessarily apply. The young naval lieutenant and his marine captain counterpart in the incident found themselves surrounded while they were trying to simply explain to the Iranian force that they were on a routine inspection. The young commanders decided that armed resistance would end only in disaster and wasted lives of the persons under their command. Put in the simplest of terms, the situation did not merit the risking of lives in their estimation, and the information they gave over television was "none operational." That means it did not divulge any substantive facts. Rather, they chose to affect a cooperative demeanor in the hopes that civil protocols could get them out of their predicament. And that is what happened.

The question is if Nancy Pelosi is doing something that is insubordinate to her commander-in-chief and if her independent action is somehow a mutiny. That is preposterous. George W. Bush would like to cast himself in the role of a commander-in-chief so that any disagreements and countermovements to his policies can be cited as insubordinate and mutinous. He won the election of 2004 by sending a majority into the fear that they would be cowardly and traitorous if they did not support his ridiculous, life-wasting war. A majority no longer believes that.

Nancy Pelosi and the other members of Congress have an obligation and a responsibility to insure that the person who assumes command of the nation is operating with full moral and mental faculties intact. They have the function and responsibility to see that the people's interest is being competently and honestly represented in world affairs. As shown in the post below, a huge majority of the people do not believe that the Bush administration is competent or honest in representing them to the rest of the world. The Public Agenda poll makes these further points regarding the war on Iraq:

  • 73 percent now give low grades (C, D or F) to the U.S. for succeeding in Iraq (32 percent give an F); up from 57 percent in June 2005 (F's up from 16 percent in June 2005)
  • 61 percent say America's safety from terrorism does not depend on our success in Iraq and 70 percent say we should leave within the next 12 months (19 percent say immediately)
  • 59 percent say they do not trust the government to tell the truth on foreign affairs, up ten points since September 2006

The question of removing George W. Bush from command has been posed. The failures of his adminstration are hard for even the most devout regressives to deny. Furthermore, the evidence compiled in numerous books by those with inside perspectives on the adminstration show that obsessive compulsion with power and control is the motive behind the war. The fact is that 3,200 American lives have been sacrificed to the vanities and compulsions of a faction that perceives American democracy as a fascist design. Power and control are its primary concerns. The Swift-boating of John Kerry, Valerie Plame, the many intelligence and anti-terrorism officers who have told of the Bush deceptions, and of the U.S. attorneys who did not display enough aggression in carrying out Bush policies are examples of the technique of "vaporizing," demolishing the reputations of those who disagree and show resistance. The Bush and regressive answer to any questioning of policy and action is to launch personnel attacks in attempts to discredit those who do not accept the dictates of a regime that is emerging as the new face of fascism. This practice is very, very Orwellian.

Nancy Pelosi will be vilified. But she has done nothing but exercise her rights and responsibilities. Those who long for the regressive oppressions and denials of basic rights will continue to line up behind George W. Bush and malign and vilify those who see what he is doing as intellectually and morally wrong. As a member of Congress, she has the duty to oversee the armed forces, "to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States." She is not undercutting the commander-in-chief, as some regressives who confuse the presidency with monarchy and dictatorship contend. She is doing the duties required of her by the Constitution.

The last thing this nation needs is an impeachment--particularly one on the grounds that acts of incompetence demonstrate "an inability to discharge the powers and duties" of the presidency.

If the world has a future, it does not lie in the hands of George W. Bush. His predilection for belligerence, violence, deception, and wasting the lives of innocents for vain purposes are recognized by a huge majority of Americans as jeopardizing the world. Nancy Pelosi is performing her function as the grantor of authority for declaring war and to make the rules of government and regulation for the military forces and to oversee their funding. These powers reside in Congress, not in the commander-in-chief.

Let Nancy Pelosi show the alternatives to the George W. Bush and his merriless band of regressive-feudals throughout the world. Maybe she can head off our plunge into the neo-Dark Ages.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States