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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Though sailing blind, still the pilot cries 'Full speed ahead'
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   12/13/2007)

Just how wasteful, blind and arrogant is this pilot?

Consider all the ruined lives, wasted oil, the staggering
costs of cleaning up this mess.

Consider the contempt for world treasures, the environment.

Mostly, though, consider his sickening lack of judgment.

Even when sailing blindly through dense fog he stays the course.

Even among icons of world heritage, he cries "Full speed ahead."

Against the advice of cooler heads, his motto is the same.

When told about deficiencies in equipment before launching,
he goes ahead anyway.

Even after the magnitude of his errors become clear, he gives
out false information about the costs, the causes, the cure.

Even now he makes excuses. Even now he's clueless.

No, I'm not talking about President George W. Bush, I'm talking
about Capt. John Cota, pilot of the container ship Cosco Busan
when it ran into the San Francisco Bay Bridge five weeks ago and
spilt 58,000 gallons of deadly fuel oil into the bay.

Still, the Cosco Busan may be the perfect metaphor for how this country
charged into Iraq to shock and awe people who'd done us
no harm. The pilot could be a stand-in for the commander-in-chief
on our ship of state. Their offenses are identical. Lack of judgment,
sailing blind, ignoring the cost, ignoring geography, failure to
understand the equipment under their control, telling lies, general
arrogance and worse. Of course there are differences, mostly of scale,
and the biggest one is this:

No one with any power has the guts to hold Bush accountable before
the law.

In Cota's case, there's a state agency, the Board of Pilot
Commissioners for the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun.
They've suspended Cota's license and given him 15 days to respond.
On Dec. 6, they produced a six-page document called an "accusation"
that laid out the case against Cota. The board minced no words.
According to a story in the San Jose Mercury News, Dec. 7, the board
said the shipwreck was "a direct result of Captain Cota's piloting."

The U.S. could use such a board on the national level. The Senate,
the House, and Justice apparently are useless when it comes to
holding Bush accountable for invading Iraq based on lies, killing
lots of people there, and hinting he might try it in Iran. Toss in
kidnapping, torture, wiretapping, environmental damage, media
manipulation, attempts to cover up global warming, being asleep
at the wheel on 9/11, and you have a pretty strong bill of high
crimes and misdemeanors.

Still, hints on the breeze suggest members of the military, the media,
politicians and others are beginning to stand up to Bush and his
co-pilot Cheney, and for good reason. The arrogance of this crew
is breathtaking. Just hours after the National Intelligence Estimate
became public two weeks ago, and we learned that ALL our nation's
intelligence agencies combined had concluded that Iran ceased its
nuclear program years ago, Bush could still be heard saying, implicitly,
full speed ahead.

"To me, the NIE provides an opportunity for us to rally the international
community--to continue to rally the community--to pressure the Iranian
regime to suspend its program," the president said. "Nothing's changed."

It's even worse than Captain Cota's lack of judgment. At least Cota was
in a literal fog. Bush's affliction appears to be mental. It's as if he
were telling Iran, "Yes, our best minds agree that you have no nuke
program, so come clean and show me where it's at or we're going to get
really nasty." Come to think of it, that's about what happened in Iraq.
With enough missiles in the Persian Gulf now to turn that region into a
moonscape, the danger of staying the course could hardly be clearer.

Full speed ahead? Five years ago our cap'n said that and 90 percent of
the crew and passengers saluted. Signs abound that it won't go so easy for
Bush this time around. Consider. Five years ago, not only mouthpiece media
like Fox News, but even so-called "liberal" media like the New York Times,
ABC News and CNN were allowing themselves to be used to report phony stories
about aluminum tubes, yellowcake uranium, aerial drones, anthrax, al-Qaeda
connections and more---stories that history has finally blown away for the
phony plants they were.

Spy bosses like George Tenet and others who produced the National
Intelligence Estimates of 2002 and 2003, though split on the facts,
publicly lined up behind the Bush / Cheney case for aerial bombardment,
invasion and occupation of Iraq. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell
unwittingly made a phony pro-war case to the United Nations---based in
part on lies from tortured men, according to Newsweek and others
(Google "al-Libi+Colin Powell").

But now, mercifully, we have the NIE debunking the past two years' worth
of Bush/Cheney war rhetoric. We have the Times, CNN and ABC lining up to
give the public this good news. We have Secretary of State Condi Rice trying to
broker peace. Incredibly, we have Sec. of Defense Gates telling the media
that Iran is behaving much better in Iraq. Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan and
other conservatives are talking publicly about how incredible---in other
words NOT CREDIBLE---it is that Bush claims he only found out about the
NIE's bombshell after he said THIS about Iranians three weeks ago:

"If you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought
to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary
to make a nuclear weapon."

Still, these are sputters from a drowning sailor whose war schemes are
running out of oxygen---politically, economically, militarily, and now on
the intelligence front. As I said in a recent blog entry for,
yes, it's maddening that more congressmen are not calling for impeachment or
at least congressional investigations as to how Bush could've been so wrong
about Iraq and Iran. Neither are Hillary Clinton and others who refused to take
the "nuclear option" off the table regarding Iran, absolved. Still, it would
be miserly and mean-spirited not to recognize this NIE report for the godsend it is.

With less than 14 months to go, assuming he leaves office gracefully, it appears
Bush is being forced by his own staff and former allies, into admitting something
akin to the truth.

When and if that happens, can we celebrate for five minutes?