A year ago, in an office of the White House, America's first court-appointed president held a little meeting. He had campaigned on a catch phrase about "restoring integrity and honesty" to the White House. One of the remarks he made to his flock was there would be no tolerance of even a hint of scandal or impropriety during his watch. Of course, anybody who had paid attention to or researched this guy's history as governor of Texas or a rich, spoiled party animal could recognize the irony of his remark. But he said it. "No tolerance for even a hint of scandal." So what I want to know is: what happened to that rule?

Revisiting "Honesty and Integrity in the White House"
W. David Jenkins III

A year ago, in an office of the White House, America's first court-appointed president held a little meeting. He had campaigned on a catch phrase about "restoring integrity and honesty" to the White House. One of the remarks he made to his flock was there would be no tolerance of even a hint of scandal or impropriety during his watch.

Of course, anybody who had paid attention to or researched this guy's history as governor of Texas or a rich, spoiled party animal could recognize the irony of his remark. But he said it. "No tolerance for even a hint of scandal." So what I want to know is: what happened to that rule?

Scandal is described in the dictionary as "an incident that brings about disgrace or offends the moral sensibilities of society." Impropriety is described as "the quality or condition of being improper. An improper act. An improper or unacceptable usage in speech or writing." Let's try to keep this all in mind as we move on.

We all know that politicians have manipulated the English language for as long as we can remember. Some of our politicians have even had the ability to command the language. They were blessed with a talent to draw the masses in, to make a large crowd feel like they were sitting in the speaker's den in front of the fireplace. FDR had this talent, as did JFK. If Lincoln's delivery was as eloquent as his words then he must be considered one of the masters.

Carter and Ford seemed to come into their niche after they left office. Their repeated co-appearances are a comfort to the possibility that liberals and conservatives may find common ground. As much as it pains me to say so, Reagan must also be entered into this club. Although liberals abhorred his policies and insensitivity, he was able to draw in the masses, who supported him without them knowing he was actually screwing them at the same time.

However, one of the ultimate masters would have to be Clinton. Whether he was discussing the philosophies dear to his heart or "boxers or briefs," most Americans could sense we were getting the real thing. The leaders of the international community felt the same thing. This endearing quality is also why that day in August, when he told us he had actually been naughty with an intern, it hurt us so much. But he convinced most of us to stick by him, and his popularity upon leaving office that dark and rainy day proved he had succeeded.

Now look what we're stuck with.

Oh, I guarantee Little Bush and his babysitters try awful hard, but he and his henchmen are more appropriate for selling snake oil than they are anything else. And let's face it: snake oil is all we've been getting the last year. Bush Jr. is nothing more than a right wing salesman who has no command of the language. He simply manipulates it when he's not mangling it. Or when he's just plain lying.

Take for instance this whole economic package Bush is trying to push through. The package has been called an "economic stimulus" package for months now but I hear the White House wants to rename it an "economic security" package. This is probably due to the fact that most Americans would rather have their Social Security when they retire rather than give it all away to big corporations like Enron and GE. Must be the Republicans are starting to realize that people are starting to pay attention again to right-wing feed-the-rich shenanigans.

The GOP must figure if they use the word "security" in the title, the mindless flag-wavers out there will figure it's for their own good and stop asking questions. Some of the gutsier Democrats would like to delay some of the tax cuts proposed in last year's $1.35 billion disaster. I hear it has something to do with not allowing Bush Jr. to completely tank the economy to benefit his friends.

So now Bush and the gang are using their old scare tactics again by saying the Democrats want to raise their taxes. Nothing could be closer to a lie. In fact, a letter writer to the NY Times summed it up beautifully. She wrote, " Say your boss tells you one day that he's going to cut your salary. Then he changes his mind and decides not to. Using Bush's philosophy, you just got a raise." To put it simply, folks, the Democrats are not out to raise our taxes. Bush and his babysitters are lying.

Here's another thing that has me (and I'm sure others) wondering. If the smallest hint of scandal isn't to be tolerated in the Bush II White House, then why doesn't Jr. insist that Cheney release the documents regarding the energy policy meetings that Henry Waxman and the GAO have been asking for? Well, who knows? Maybe he did. Maybe that's how he got that suspicious "rug burn" on the side of his face. Ari states that the White House will not release the information because there are matters of "principle" involved. Besides, the GAO has no right to make such requests, says Ari. Um, Ari, here's a little news flash. Yes they do and they're thinking about taking you guys to court to get the answers we're entitled to.

And while we're at it, we all know Bush Jr. lied about how long he's known Ken Lay, formerly of Enron infamy. We also know he lied about Lay being an Ann Richards supporter. But the Mother Jones web site has a nifty little article by Louis Dubose and Carmen Coiro concerning a little situation in Argentina in 1988. Argentine minister of public works, Rodolfo Terragno was considering offers between two companies, Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi of Italy and PĂ©rez Companc, an Argentine company working in partnership with Dow Chemical. These companies were in line to build a $300 million dollar pipeline in Argentina. Terrangno was in the process of making his decision when, low and behold, some upstart company out of Texas named Enron wanted in on the deal. And just who do you suppose Enron sent to represent their interests? That's right, George "W."

And while we're on matters of messing with the rule against "honesty and integrity," let's put a few recent headlines in the cross hairs, so to speak.

About three weeks ago, Bush announced support for further research concerning alternative fuel cells for automobiles. Now, if this announcement had come under a Gore or a Clinton, then just maybe the news would be welcomed as a step forward for energy independence and ecological concerns. But this is George W. When one looks at the fine print, one also learns that Bush would also like to "ease up" on the proposed requirements for auto manufacturers to develop cleaner and more fuel-efficient gas engines. We all know that Georgie's first priority is big business. He could care less if a hydrogen fuel cell is developed. He thinks he found another way to benefit his buddies while looking concerned about the environment. In other words, he's lying again.

I mentioned earlier that the international community trusted Clinton more than many of the people who spent eight years trying to get revenge for his ending the Reagan/Bush Error. America is constantly under scrutiny by the world with regards to our actions. Especially now in these different times. Which brings me to another word game by the Bush crew. Enter Donald Rumsfeld.

It would seem that even though we are at "war" with terrorism, the people we take into custody are not prisoners of war. They are, as Rummy calls them, "illegal combatants." We have at this writing a sizable number of these "dangerous dozens" in a holding facility in Guantanamo Bay. Now there's this little problem, namely the Geneva Convention, and I'm pretty sure Rummy wished its rules didn't apply to him.

See, Commissar Donny wants information any way he can get it. He's said as much. Any time a press person reminds him that this is still America and begins questioning if these prisoners' rights are being observed, he goes into his folksy tirade about how horrible these people are and why should we be so concerned about their rights? It strikes me that as long as we are told that these terrible people are not prisoners of war but rather illegal combatants, that the Bushies figure that these prisoners are not protected under the Geneva Convention. Oh well, gee, guess what? Wrong again.

Article 4
A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied
3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

Which means that:
Article 17
Every prisoner of war, when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information. If he willfully infringes this rule, he may render himself liable to a restriction of the privileges accorded to his rank or status.
No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

What it boils down to is that these people are prisoners of war which means: "name, rank and serial number". We still have the support of most of the international community even if it's somewhat more reserved since the days immediately after 9/11. But that's mostly because of the way the world has seen this administration chipping away at the very basic rights bestowed upon us by the founding fathers, all in the name of "security." Echoes from 1968 Chicago have returned, "The whole world is watching!" And we'd better be very careful. Between Ashcroft's assault on domestic rights and now Rumsfeld's playing with the rules of war, America is beginning to look like Germany in the late 1930's - and our allies are just a tad wary.

With the obvious tragedy that was September, it would seem that the American people are being lied to and horribly manipulated. First, we have Sheriff George verbal distortions on the domestic front. Then we have the Secretary of Defense playing on mass anger while making our world a more dangerous place. Now, because of an obviously biased media, we as true patriots need to assume the responsibility of educating the masses.

The Bush theme of restoring honesty and integrity to the White House was obviously a lie. Bush's remarks that even a hint of scandal or impropriety "would not be tolerated" was a lie. The Media are ignoring what should be the obvious. We feel frustrated because they're not talking to us and it also feels like nobody is listening to us. What has happened to America at the hands of this faux administration is scandalous and improper and the results are eroding the very foundations this proud nation was founded on. But there is one very important thing we can do.

Educate just one. Not somebody who swears by Fox and Rush. They're casualties of right wing propaganda and other forms of trash. But someone who's starting to ask questions. Someone who thought his or her vote for Bush was the right thing to do. Somebody on the fence. I find there's quite a large number of them. Educate just one. Then we win. Then America wins.

Then we might just have a chance.

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