The Rant 

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His tribe has been in power for 30 years, with plans to transfer authority from father to son. Yet despite the public disfavor and condition of his country, he continues to make personal appearances. He is  responsible for the deaths of thousands of his own people and countless others, including civilians, by bullets and bombs.

He routinely used detention without charge or trial and torture against his enemies. He ordered electronic surveillance and spying on his countrymen and hired mercenaries to fight his foes. Even after falling from favor, he still believes that he's some sort of religious mystic who was placed in power by God, from whom he receives personal instruction. He speaks in gibberish that no one else can understand. He is delusional, militaristic, and totally out of touch with the people of his country. During his reign, the elite prospered while the poor starved and went homeless. Anyone with such a record must be called to account for his criminal behavior, and George W. Bush certainly has a lot to answer for.

Earlier this month, Bush canceled a planned trip to Switzerland, where he was to make a speech, amid calls for protest and threats of arrest. In this country, while the Tea Party runs amok, making the most of their 15 minutes in the spotlight with bizarre attacks on the current president's legitimacy, human rights groups around the world have stated that they plan to seek arrest warrants whenever and wherever Bush travels outside the United States. Since Bush admitted in his autobiography to the authorization of waterboarding detainees at Guantanamo, the respected organization Amnesty International has said enough evidence now exists to open a criminal investigation. Yet there he was, yukking it up with Jerry Jones in the owner's sky-box at the Super Bowl, munching hot dogs in a billion-dollar football palace where millionaires play, while the rest of the populace struggles to recover from the disastrous economic mess he left behind.

Speaking of war criminals, Dick Cheney was the surprise guest at this month's annual CPAC Convention in Washington, D.C., where he presented the conservative organization's coveted "Defender of the Constitution" award to his old foxhole buddy, Donald Rumsfeld. There was enough irony in the hall to build a bridge. Cheney entered the room to the blaring of Tina Turner's "Simply the Best," reminding music fans that Cheney is an abuser like Ike Turner was. Jr. Walker & the Allstars' "Shotgun" would have been a better choice. The old-boy reunion was spoiled by a crowd of libertarian Rand Paul supporters, who had just listened to the new senator from Kentucky call for cuts in the defense budget to loud jeering from the crowd. Instead of welcoming Cheney like a returning hero, they shouted, "War criminal!" and "Where's Bin Laden?" at him, while the true patriots reverted back to the imaginative chant of "U-S-A," to drown out their opponents. Because of a new heart device that constantly pumps blood, Cheney technically no longer has a pulse. (Insert your own joke here.) The ultimate irony is that the former vice president may need a heart transplant but may be too old to qualify. I wonder who appoints Dick Cheney's "death panel"?

Rumsfeld emerged from relative seclusion to go on tour promoting his new memoir, Known and Unknown. The man Salon dubbed the "Architect of Terror" has been met by protesters at every stop and has shown a predilection for musings about meeting Elvis rather than the falsifying of intelligence to sell a war. Rumsfeld's appearance in Orange County, California, was planned around a special banquet costing $500 per person — $1,000 if you wanted to meet the secretary. The "Premium Seating Package," including two seats at the head table, an additional table for 10, and a "VIP reception" following the dinner, cost a mere $25,000, chump change to an O.C. Republican. Earlier, Rumsfeld had accepted the "Victory of Freedom" award from the Richard Nixon Foundation at a dinner at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. Over 200 people paid "hundreds of dollars" for the privilege of breaking bread with the man called "the worst secretary of defense in history." And that was by John McCain.

In The Godfather's most dramatic scene, Michael Corleone arranges for the elimination of the heads of New York's five crime families while he is in church, standing godfather to Connie and Carlo's baby. After the ceremony, he tells his brother-in-law, Carlo, to go back to the house and wait for his call. The unsuspecting sap is on the phone when Michael enters with the look of the grand inquisitor on his face. Michael explains that he has just "settled all family business" and utters the chilling words, "You have to answer for Santino, Carlo" — thus forcing the unfortunate turncoat to pay a long-delayed price for his role in the assassination of Sonny Corleone and proving that justice, though not always swift, is inevitable.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the subsequent horror that followed, was a war crime. If we are to continue as a nation of laws rather than men, it is essential that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld troika be told, "You have to answer for Santino." The lives of 4,757 American soldiers and a half-million Iraqis demand it. Democracy may be sprouting in the Middle East, but only when the era of privatized privilege passes from this land can we look ourselves in the mirror and ask, "What have we done?"

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