Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Are soldiers and others dying for empty campaign slogans?

In 2002, Karl Rove told Republican candidates to “run on the war.” Twenty-thousand corpses later, Rove's strategy has proven successful. Bush leads in the polls. Still, it's a cynical, heartless and dishonest strategy.

I'm writing this hours before the first Bush-Kerry debate, so you know better than I whether Bush repeated his famous slogans about Iraq: “Stay the Course” and “We're turning the corner” and “Democracy is on the march.” If he did, there's new evidence he's lying and he knows it. Here's why I say that:

On Sunday, Sept. 26, I watched talking heads on “Washington Week In Review” and “Washington Round Table” discuss a column by Robert Novak in the “Chicago Sun-Times” in which he wrote that key Bush policy makers want to pull out of Iraq next year.

Now, Novak is a scoundrel in my book. It was he who made the treasonous announcement that Valerie Plame is a spy. When it comes to what Bush insiders are saying, however, he's been a reliable scoundrel. There's no reason to believe he's lying about Bush's true intentions in Iraq. The following is from Novak's online version of a column at the Sun-Times site dated Sept. 20:

“Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave iraq next year. (my italics) This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go.” He goes on to say, “Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush's decision will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term officials. According to my sources,” writes Novak, “All would opt for a withdrawal.” (my italics).

This should've been headline news everywhere. (So much for a liberal media). If Novak got it right, it means our troops are dying in Iraq today for campaign lies. If untrue, it makes you wonder what Novak and/or his well-placed sources are up to. Could be he's trying to muddy the waters in order to attract voters like me, who think invading Iraq was a horrible mistake.

If so, it won't work. From where I stand, a vote for Bush is a vote for new nuclear weapons, death to songbirdsand ancient forests. It's a vote for dirtier water and air. It's a vote for human savagery--prison abuse, bombing Muslim cities and more. It's also a vote for continued deceit on a very large scale. From lies about the cost of prescription drugs to the quality of the air at Ground Zero after 9-11. From lies about tax relief to who's writing our energy policy. It's a vote for sending billions to China and Japan to pay for our federal deficits as far as the eye can see.

Still, this election, by any rational analysis, should mostly be a referendum on Bush's handling of the war. Think back two years, to when the Bush-ites were telling us:

* It would be over in weeks

* They'd throw flowers at our feet,

* Their oil would pay for it,

* We'd find tons of chemical weapons and missiles and an active nuclear program.

* We know where the weapons are.

* We'd install a democracy and change the Middle East.

* We'd bring in Osama dead or alive.

None of that has happened and a broad range of intelligence says it won't happen.

Ask yourself, had you been able to foresee, two years later…

* 20,000 dead Iraqis, more than half of them civilians.

* 1,200 dead Americans, counting civilians.

* 25,000 wounded, maimed or emotionally scarred Americans.

* The loss of $200 billion in tax dollars with no end in sight.

* The CIA, FBI and military intelligence organs telling us in July that Iraq could be headed for Civil War and that the status quo is the best we can hope for over the next five years.…

* The war was based on lies or faulty intelligence.

* Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11.

* American prestige is at an all time low around the world.

Had you known all that ahead of time, would you still have been for the bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq? I wonder, would you support Bush if he trumped up a case and invaded Mexico? Canada? Robbed a bank? Are you constitutionally incapable of criticizing a Republican? Give me a clue.


Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist for The Knoxville News-Sentinel, as well as a freelance journalist, short story writer and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. His writing awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Michigan Journalism Fellowship, a Golden Presscard Award and Malcolm Law Journalism Prize. He is finishing a novel, ORACLE OF THE ORCHID LOUNGE, set in his native Tennessee. His book of selected journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes, the Best Writings About People by Don Williams, is now available for pre-ordering. For more information, you may email him at