Monday, February 06, 2006

Joint Chiefs Wield Mighty Pen

Published on Sunday, February 5, 2006
by the Long Island, New York Newsday
by Les Payne

The men who command the armed forces of the world's lone superpower attacked a cartoonist who used his pen to depict their boss in a negative light in his newspaper.

This infidel cartoonist, one Tom Toles, whose panel appeared in The Washington Post, rendered a graven image of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It has long been accepted in the media that this infallible messenger of Bush-Cheney - known among the faithful as Prophet Rumsfeld - should be portrayed only in a light most positive.

The offending cartoon of infidel Toles, first off, miscast the prophet as a physician with stethoscope. It widely accepted that the beloved one does not stoop to such normal methods for his blessed healing. Rumsfeld's powers come directly from on high, and "it is what it is." As with his syntax, so too is the prophet's analysis unmatched. When, by every other eye, post-invasion things fell apart early on the streets of Baghdad, the prophet looked at this "untidy" freedom and uttered, "Stuff happens."

After rioting broke out in earnest, unexpected to everyone save the prophet, Rumsfeld dismissed it as the mere "pent-up feelings" of Iraqis adjusting to life without Saddam. As others dreaded these early signs of a terrible lack of post-invasion planning, prophet Rumsfeld knew better. "Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," he said on CNN. "They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen." The prophet spoke these words April 11, 2003. How blessed is his wisdom.

It is this magnificence that the infidel Toles' cartoon dared caricature in physician's scrubs attending to a woefully bandaged U.S. soldier missing both arms and both legs. "I'm listing your condition as 'Battle Hardened'" are the words the infidel Toles put in the mouth of his "Dr. Rumsfeld." The idea issued from the defense secretary's response to a Pentagon study warning the war in Iraq might end up "breaking" the Army. In dismissing the warning, prophet Rumsfeld said instead the conflict is rendering the military "battle-hardened."

Upon gazing at this cartoon of their maximum leader, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including chairman Gen. Peter Pace, went on blasphemy alert. How could they respond? Instead of the nuclear option, they settled for the mighty pen, in the first round at least.

"While you or some of your readers may not agree with the war or its conduct," their letter to the cartoonist said in part, "we believe you owe the men and women and their families who so selflessly serve our country the decency to not make light of their tremendous physical sacrifices."

Clever indeed! Whereas infidel Toles clearly attacked "Dr. Rumsfeld," these top military minds defended the quadruple-amputee soldier-patient. It is as if a nation attacked by a Saudi Arabian terrorist group based in Afghanistan would respond by attacking an Iraq that had nothing to do with the attack.

As for the cartoon, in a response to The Washington Post, Toles flattered himself that the letter from the Joint Chiefs was "an understandable response." Toles told the Post that he had in mind "the catastrophic level of injuries the Army and members of the armed services have sustained. ... I thought my portrayal of it was a fair depiction of the reality of the situation. I certainly never intended it to be in any way a personal attack on, or a derogatory comment on, the service or sacrifice of American soldiers."

It's a sure bet that the soldiers understood Toles' cartoon for the Rumsfeld attack it was. The chiefs likely understood it as well; they rushed down from the hills not to protect the soldiers but to defend their boss. Charges that the U.S. military is overstretched are credible, as well as suggestions that Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld never should have invaded Iraq and, having done so, should get out soonest.

Meanwhile, danger lurks with the Bush bunch controlling the National Security Agency spy desk and the nuclear trigger. The American public must insist that the infidel Toles and the press he represents be protected. Otherwise, they might have to surrender not only press freedoms but what precious few civil liberties they have left.

God, what a country!

© 2006 Newsday Inc.

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