Above the Fold

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One
way to determine the top news story of the day is to look at where
it is placed in your daily newspaper. Front-page news is obviously
a quick way to catch major stories. But front page, above the fold
is the hottest spot in the entire paper. From this location, the
major story can be headlined and catch the reader's attention without
even picking the paper up. It also helps sell the papers from the
dispensing machines and from carriers who approach you at stoplights.
For the home-delivered consumer, the top half of the upper half
of the front page is even more significant because when folded to
fit into the clear plastic condom, that story is the one that shows
first. My Miami Herald was delivered today with the lead
stories appropriately popping out as I carried it into the house.
Above the fold: Troops Advance Into Fallujah. But above that
top story: Dolphins Head Coach Resigns. So in the eyes of
the press it is important that American soldiers are again risking
and giving their lives to rid Fallujah of its insurgents. But the
sacking of the Dolphins' head coach is a more important news story
and will sell more newspapers.

I
confess to being a Dolfan and most of my Dolfan buddies agree that
a new coach is needed. But there is something else sneaking up on
us that will need some attention. That something else is Veteran's
Day. Ironically, Veteran's Day is what took over something once
called Armistice Day. The irony is that Armistice Day marked the
ending of World War I, which was dubbed the war to end all wars.
Obviously, World War I did not live up to its expectations as we
continue to have wars and continue to produce war veterans. Apparently,
the public is tiring of hearing about America's veteran production
factory and is more interested in who will coach an overpaid bunch
of under-achieving athletes. Entertainment news supersedes uncomfortable
news. Maybe if The Heat coach and The Marlins' coaches would all
resign at once, we could just plunk the war news on some page deep
inside the newspaper, as if it wasn't even happening.

It
has been a juggling act lately to cope with Bush's re-election,
an escalation in the Iraq War, and the oncoming of yet another Veteran's
Day. I have collected a few quotes that have been helpful in making
sense out of this nonsensical world. A good friend recently sent
a quote that she thought would help me as I deal with the post 11/2
re-election crisis. I loved it:

Beware
the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry
into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged
sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind…And
when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils
with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need
in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused
with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all of their
rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For this is
what I have done. And I am Caesar."

The
quote is credited to William Shakespeare. It was too good to be
true. I could easily substitute George Bush for Caesar and the quote
would fit our modern day Iraq War lunacy. Unfortunately, I did a
check on the quote and it turns out to be an urban legend hoax.
My honest self therefore will not send it on as though Caesar actually
said it, but my spirited self says he should have. The statement
fits our current circumstances so perfectly that I could not resist
using it. Is there a problem with using bogus references when discussing
George Bush, a president who used bogus intelligence to drag America
into a war? Do unto others…

I
did find a quote that appears to be legitimate. This by Theodore
Roosevelt: "To announce that there must be no criticism
of the President, or that we are to stand by our President, right
or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable
to the American public." This came from an editorial Roosevelt
wrote for The Kansas City Star on May 7, 1918. So at least
one statement from our past rings true and remains helpful to this
day.

I
am against the Iraq War because it was sold to us as a pre-emptive
strike against a country that posed imminent danger to our freedom
and our welfare. We were lied to by our administration and even
exposing the liars did not stop it nor did it deter the public from
giving Bush another four years to spend America into bankruptcy.
He gets another four years to rev up his war machine so Halliburton
can get richer, more innocent Iraqis can be murdered, and the combat
veteran factory can produce more Americans with their lives devastated.

As
a child, I remember an annual observance of Poppy Day. My dad told
me it was a way to remember the veterans for their actions. Dad
came from an era where veterans were treated with some respect.
His contention was that we should be thankful to war veterans for
keeping us free. He drove that point home one day by telling me
that had it not been for the actions of our soldiers in history,
we might be speaking French. To an eight-year-old, that was a huge
relief since I did not know five French words!

As
an adult, and as a combat war veteran, I have my own views on respect
for war veterans. I suspect a lot of the public views combat veterans
with a cautious compassion. It has been my experience to hear and
feel a thank you now and then but that is about the depth of the
communication. I accept this because it seems incongruous to welcome
a man into your home for which you feel gratitude, yet knowing his/her
experiences, if brought to light would be grounds for removal from
the premises. The veteran understands this because he/she often
cannot stand being with himself.

What
King George does not get, and what many of our public does not get
is the veteran can recover from physical wounds. He/she can learn
to do things with one eye missing, or can learn to tie shoes one-handed.
We can be retrained to function at our jobs and live what appears
to be a normal life. What we cannot do is turn the goddamned video
off that plays like a screensaver in our minds. It is the video
of every horrible thing we saw or did in war. It is only the bad
stuff that won't stop playing.

My
video has been running nonstop since 1969. What deeply troubles
me today is Bush is producing more videos for more veterans to play
in their minds for the remainder of their lives. All of this comes
from a president with a chicken hawk administration where only one
member, Colin Powell has combat experience. And for what?

Well
here's an offer for the vets: come to Miami and watch The Dolphins
lose more games. Lots of tickets are available, the beer is cold,
and the peanuts are fresh. This way you can be involved in something
the press views as important!

November
11, 2004

Miles
Woolley [send him mail]
is a disabled Vietnam veteran living in Miami, Florida. He served
with the 9th Infantry Division in The Mekong Delta in
a Ranger unit doing reconnaissance 1968–69 where he received
a gunshot wound to the head leaving one side severely paralyzed.
He is a father of four grown children and grandfather of seven,
including a set of triplets.

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