The Rant 

Well, leave it to me to rain on the parade of a lot of really good people rushing forth to do something good for an innocent child who was the target of a really horrible crime, but there are a couple of questions that need to be asked: The story of Youssif, the 5-year-old Iraqi boy, who, while playing in the yard of his home in Baghdad back in January, was attacked by masked men and doused with gasoline and set on fire, has been front and center on CNN and on for the past few days, with thousands of people writing in to ask how they can help. It is one of the most response-generating stories in CNN's history. Since January, the family of the disfigured boy has been trying to figure out what to do for him, as they can't get the proper surgical treatments in Iraq that would help repair the damage done, primarily to his face. They couldn't afford to move to the United States or Europe to seek treatment. They have been grappling with the idea of leaving their homeland. Youssif's father can't openly talk to the media because he is an Iraqi security officer, and coming forward would only put the family in further danger. Fortunately, the director of the Children's Burn Foundation in Sherman Oaks, California, was so moved by the story that she stated the foundation would pay all of the family's travel expenses to come to the United States along with medical costs, housing costs, social rehabilitation costs, and whatever else it might take to get this little boy and his family some help. Peter Grossman of the Grossman Burn Center, which is affiliated with the Children's Burn Foundation, has offered to do all of the necessary surgeries for free. (Thank goodness none of this would take place at Walter Reed Army Hospital, where Youssif might have to fend off rats, cockroaches, black mold, and neglect). These multiple surgeries will take up to one year to perform. And therein lies the rub. After all of this great news came out and thousands of people donated money on to help and this was looking like one of the greatest "good news" stories in a long time, it seems that there is a hitch: The family has to get the "proper" passports and visas to come to the United States and live here for a year while Youssif undergoes the surgeries. That's right: Entry into the Land of the Free and the Brave for this horribly injured child requires a little "paperwork." We can't just let any Tom, Dick, Harry, or Youssif get on a plane and get here and get here quickly to get much-needed medical care. Forget the fact that, because of the attack and being set on fire by insurgents that the Bush administration created, Youssif can't open his mouth wide enough to eat properly. Even if he hadn't gone into a depression and wanted to smile, he can't. No, let's wait. Let's get the paperwork done. After all, they are Iraqis. Maybe I am missing something here and I am sure I don't have all the facts, but there seems to be something terribly wrong with this picture. If George W. Bush and his cronies can get on Air Force One and jet about the country and the world anytime they like, whether it be traveling to Republican Party fund-raisers here in the United States or traveling to other countries to expound upon all the "progress" we are making in Iraq since attacking and occupying the country — and watching it basically go to hell — why can't he get on the plane, fly to Baghdad, get Youssif and his family on board, and fly straight back to Sherman Oaks and let this healing process begin? I know he doesn't read newspapers and relies on briefings by his quickly ship-jumping staff (thank you, Alberto Gonzales, for finally stepping down), but surely he knows about this by now. Maybe it's too difficult for him to face the fact that he attacked the wrong country for all the wrong reasons and there would likely be no insurgency and civil war in Iraq today, the product of which has resulted in this horrible thing that happened to this innocent child. Maybe if he were to face this and do something about it, he would have to stop and think about Youssif being just one of thousands of little children killed and/or maimed for life because of his war. Maybe coming face to face with a child who has been set on fire and disfigured would make it just a tiny bit harder somewhere in the back of his little mind to drone on and on and on and on about "staying the course." Or maybe he is waiting for the Iraqi parliament to get back from its month-long vacation so he can check in with them first. I know he understands how important vacations are. Maybe you should make some special arrangements and let your homeland security freaks and other agencies bend the rules just this once so Youssif can take a little trip of his own, so some good people in the United States can do some good work they have volunteered to do.

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