Catapulting the Propaganda

By Molly Ivins
June 1, 2005

Bush decided to wage an entirely elective war against a country that presented little or no threat to us -- and according to the Downing Street memo, he damn well knew it, too.

As a longtime fan of both George Bushes' eccentric grasp of English, I naturally enjoyed this gem from W.: "See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." (Bush in Greece, N.Y., May 24, once more explaining his Social Security plan to a town hall meeting of perfectly average citizens -- except they had all been pre-screened to allow only those who agree with him into the hall.)

"Catapulting the propaganda" would explain his performance at the press opportunity that same day at which he appeared surrounded by babies born from frozen embryos. He used the phrase "culture of life" at least 27 dozen times (I think I exaggerate, but maybe not). "The use of federal dollars to destroy life is something I simply do not support," he said to the press the following day.

Meanwhile, back in Baghdad, federal dollars are being used to destroy life at a pretty good clip because Bush decided to wage an entirely elective war against a country that presented little or no threat to us. And according to the Downing Street memo, he damn well knew it, too.

The destruction of life in Iraq is more dramatic than taking a blastocyst smaller than a pinpoint out of a petri dish. The 1,600 American dead so far -- not much culture of life there. The 15,000 wounded, many of them irreparably -- not so good there, either. Estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths are all over the lot: a British medical journal claimed 100,000 last year, the Iraq Body Count website says between 21,000 and 25,000. The U.S./U.N. sanctions are widely believed to have killed hundreds of thousands, most of them babies, even after the Oil for Food Program was instituted.

The New York Times reports that the doctors in Iraq are now being threatened by insurgents and so are fleeing what was a showcase system under Saddam. I think we'd all have to agree, so far there's no progress on bringing a culture of life to Iraq.

What I don't get is the disconnect in Bush's mind. One must assume he figures in Iraq, "You gotta break eggs to make an omelette," or something akin. He said at the photo-op with the adorable children who had been produced from frozen embryos and adopted by other parents, "The children here today remind us that there is no such thing as a spare embryo."

Nonsense. Fertility treatments that help couples to have children leave far too many excess embryos for all of them to be adopted. They are simply discarded by the laboratories, thrown out. What in the world is he talking about?

Seems to me the anti-abortion people are getting as nutty as the gun lobby, which lets cop-killer bullets on the street, wants to allow .50 caliber rifles that can bring down airplanes, and stops efforts to close loopholes that let dealers sell to terrorists and criminals. Plus a bunch of other nutcase stuff that is not only harmful to society, but opposed by the great majority of the American people. Anti-abortion people are even going after the process of judicial bypass for girls who cannot fulfill the parental consent restriction.

Look, 60 percent of the American people are in favor of funding stem cell research. Do we have a First Amendment issue here? Is this the case of a few people imposing their religious views on everybody else? I don't know enough about stem cell research to tell you that it will produce miracle cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases, as some scientists claim. But it's not only worth a shot, it would be criminal not to do it. The people who are ill are here, now, human beings in terrible suffering.

Bush is prepared to use his first-ever veto. Didn't stop the bankruptcy bill, didn't stop all those tax cuts for the very rich, didn't stop that gross agriculture bill -- but this he will veto. He says we will "cross a critical ethical line by creating new incentives for the ongoing destruction of emerging human life." And he doesn't think starting an unnecessary war was crossing a critical ethical line?

It's the old slippery slope argument. Look, all of law is a process of drawing lines on slippery slopes. The difference between misdemeanor theft and felony theft is one penny. The difference between misdemeanor and felony drug possession is one gram. For that matter, the difference between a pig and a hog is one pound. We're always drawing distinctions, and it is necessary to do so -- hunting rifles, OK; .50 caliber rifles, don't be a fool.

This is a don't-be-a-fool argument. "Culture of life"? Whose life?