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Dear George... Some Tips on Strong Leadership-- Something You've Proven You Know Nothing About



Dear George... Some Tips on Strong Leadership-- Something You've Proven You Know Nothing About


by Lonna Gooden VanHorn,


Mr. Bush, you have learned well from the techniques of Goebbels and Goehring.  You know that the best way to control people is by keeping them afraid.  When they are afraid they look to a “strong leader” to guide and protect them.  The question is, Mr. Bush, are you that “strong leader” we need to guide and protect us??


Your orange alerts and constant fear mongering succeed in keeping people afraid, but Mr. Bush, you were in charge when September 11th happened.  You did not keep us safe then, even though on August 6th you had received a PDB entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike inside U.S. ” 


When, because of your inaction the 9/11 terrorist attack did happen, instead of taking charge, you sat looking baffled and frightened in a schoolroom full of 7 year olds.  You did nothing.  For at least seven minutes you did nothing.  And then, when you did leave that schoolroom, instead of coming back to Washington and facing the danger as a strong leader would have done even at his own peril (the ability to act strongly and decisively while in peril is one of the definitions of a strong leader) you ran to Nebraska and hid in a bunker, letting Cheney, as usual, take charge. 


Strong leaders face danger head on, Mr. Bush.


Tell me, in view of what you did the last time you were warned America was about to be attacked, why should I believe you would do any better next time? 


You might look to John Kerry for an example of what a real leader would do.  In Vietnam instead of running down the river away from hostile fire, Kerry turned his boats into the attack and sought out the enemy. That, Mr. Bush, is the marker of a strong leader.


Strong leaders demonstrate the ability to take the initiative and to act decisively.


Those who actually served with Mr. Kerry say he was head and shoulders above the rest of them as far as leadership went and they all knew it. One of them, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Wade Sanders,  said he would follow Kerry anywhere, but he would not follow you into an ice cream parlor.  He must not think you demonstrate qualities of “strong leadership.” 


Oh, I know.  It was not your fault. Even though you had been in charge 9 months when the attacks happened, the tragedy was Bill Clinton’s fault.  Never mind that he had warned you strenuously that you needed to pay attention to Bin Laden. Never mind that Richard Clarke had drawn up a plan and had tried valiantly to get either you or your National Security Advisor to focus on the threat of terrorism.  Never mind that he had prevented a planned millennium attack on LAX, Never mind that any time Clinton had tried to do anything about Bin Laden or anything else while he was president the Republicans screamed and fought him every step of the way.  Including when he had bombed a suspected hide-out of Bin Laden’s.  They also managed to keep him busy on other matters.  Like constantly having to defend himself against spurious charges.  But you were on vacation that August and didn’t want to be bothered with such trifling matters as terrorist threats.  You have been on vacation for more than 40% of your presidency (actually, I am being kind, it was 42.4%)


Strong leaders are on duty 24/7, Mr. Bush.   They don’t spend 40% of their time on vacation.

But, Americans are supposed to believe you are a “strong” leader because you threaten and bluster?  So do most bullies, Mr. Bush.  And most people who manage to get others to do their fighting for them, as you have always managed to do.

You were in favor of the war in Vietnam but Daddy’s friends made sure you would not have to go fight in it.  You actually said

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada .  So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."

Would you have injured yourself to keep from going to Vietnam , Mr. Bush?  Would you have had that kind of perverse backwards courage if that is what avoiding Vietnam had required? 

Just curious.

A good thing it never came to that, Mr. Bush.  A good thing your daddy had friends.  

Hundreds of other young men had also hoped to get into the guard and not have to go to Vietnam , but your name jumped over their names and you became a stateside flyboy. 

Saying you are a fighter pilot is a good pick-up line in bars, isn’t it Mr. Bush?

But, even though because of who your daddy was you secured that sought after spot in the TANG, you abused it by partying too hard, and you ended up going AWOL and being grounded from flying. Probably because you knew you would have failed the drug test in the physical you decided you did not need to take. 

Not too many soldiers get to decide what orders they will or will not obey, Mr. Bush.  Most who do end up in the brig.  

Strong leaders fulfill their obligations, Mr. Bush.   They have a strong sense of duty.

You diverted funds and resources, some say illegally, from fighting the war on terror and protecting potential targets here at home to your war for profits for Halliburton in Iraq when you knew Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.  You were even finally forced to say that Iraq and Hussein were not connected to the 9/11 attacks, although Cheney never ceases repeating that lie. 

How has spending money in Iraq instead of using it to protect our ports, etc. at home made us safer?  How has the Iraq War made us safer?  Diverting resources from the effort to get Bin Laden and the terrorists allowed Bin Laden to get away and Al Qaeda to disperse.  Now Al Qaeda cells exist in 60 or 70 countries.  And, while some leaders have been captured or killed, its’ ranks have swelled because as British journalist Robert Fisk said, you are ‘the best recruiting poster Bin Laden ever had!’ 

Seymour Hersh was on Democracy Now today, Mr. Bush.  You know, the journalist who exposed Abu Ghraib as well as My Lai .  He said we will never recover from the hole the abuses at Abu Ghraib have dug us into.  He said even though you might not have known the abuses were occurring, commanders know if the leaders at the top have stressed there is to be no torture.  He said if you had done that, the commanders would have seen to it the sadistic torture at Abu Ghraib did not occur.  But you implicitly sanctioned torture, and so did Rummy.  Hersh said responsible leaders do not allow torture because they expect their soldiers to be treated in the same way they treat their prisoners.  He said

A strong leader cares about his troops.  He does not allow abuse of prisoners, because if he allows abuse, he cannot reasonably expect that “our enemies” won’t follow his lead and abuse our soldiers that they manage to capture.  Kinda like that old Biblical adage “What ye, sow, that shall ye also reap.” Or “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Sometimes, Mr. Bush, I wonder just what parts of the Bible you do read. 

Hate is the root of terrorism, Mr. Bush, and thanks to you, billions more people hate us worldwide.  How does making billions more people hate Americans make any of us safer?  More of those billions will, doubtless, be willing to die taking us out.  Especially since they now, thanks to you, are more impoverished and so have less to lose in dying. 

You, Mr. Bush, have put a bulls-eye on the backs of Americans everywhere.  But the people with the biggest targets on their backs are our poor soldiers.  And you and our government are not even keeping your promise to them, Mr. Bush.  They are not being allowed to leave the military when their time is up.  Many who have died in Iraq have died there after they should already have been back home.  Lucky for you most of them have more honor than you did and don’t just opt to go AWOL rather than do what their country calls upon them to do in order to enrich the coffers of Bush/Cheney campaign contributors and to steal oil for Condi’s Chevron. 

Strong leaders keep their promises, Mr. Bush

You, Mr. Bush, are not a strong leader.  You only play one on tv.  You are a bully and a coward.  And like most bullies and cowards, you do not take responsibility when things go wrong.  You pass the buck. 

In your failed business dealings, you emerged with fists full of money.  Your shareholders and we taxpayers were left holding the bag.  You did not worry about our financial well-being, only your own.  One of your professors in business school assessed your woeful business acumen as well as your opportunistic sense of morality and ethics and said he felt sorry for anyone who ever went into business with you. 

Contrast your ethics with the ethics of another president, Mr. Bush, Harry Truman, who said “The buck stops here.”  He also failed in business.  But he worked and eventually paid off every one of his creditors.  We know that neither you nor your brothers operate or have ever operated in business that way.  You would think it was not savvy.  And the buck never stops anywhere near you!! 

Strong leaders accept responsibility, Mr. Bush.  They conduct themselves in their business dealings in an honest and ethical manner.  This is especially true if they are advanced  Christians.  Are you taking notes??  I am trying to be helpful here.

I prefer a stronger more thoughtful type of leader, Mr. Bush.  One who will not make empty threats or promises.  One who, unlike you, weighs issues and solutions to pick the wisest one. One who has the sense to adjust his opinions when new information becomes available instead of clinging stubbornly to failed policies based on old or out-dated information.  Like, for instance, using as a primary source for information about conditions in pre-war Iraq the word of a crooked businessman who had been convicted of fraud in absentia, and who hadn’t actually been in Iraq in decades.

You have proven you never weigh anything at all.  But then you don’t have the intellect to weigh things.  You even brag that in spite of how poorly you did in school you still became president, as though that is something to be proud of.

You simply do what Daddy Cheney tells you to do or what feels good to you at the time, or you pick the option that will make the most money for you, your friends or your campaign contributors.  The one thing that defines your “Christian” administration, Mr. Bush, is GREED!  Other markers of this administration are bearing false witness and coveting the natural resources God gave to others.  I cannot think of a single one of the Beatitudes that you or your administration have adhered to.

Speaking of Daddy Cheney, Mr. Bush.  He held your hand and testified with you in front of the 9/11 committee, a committee you initially opposed, underfunded and fought every step of the way.

A strong leader desires to find out how security for his people failed, Mr. Bush.  He knows it is his duty to keep his people safe. 

A strong leader would have made sure he was cognizant enough of the facts of that failure that he would not have had to have his “Daddy vice-president” hold his hand while he testified.

A strong leader would also have been able to go to his “team” and say “I want to know who outed a CIA operative, and I want to know NOW,” and the guilty party would have been handed up almost immediately.  But it has been a year, and that traitor remains undiscovered.

I think it is time someone told you, Mr. Bush, you are president because of money and connections.  Period.  You would not be president if your brother did not happen to be governor of the state in which the votes had to be recounted.  And, please don’t forget, Mr. Bush that 540,000 more people voted for Al than voted for you.  It is also a given that most of the people who voted for Ralph Nader would have preferred Gore to you. Many more people wanted him to be president than wanted you to be president.  But, again.  Daddy’s rich friends saved the day for you.  

What have you ever done on your own but be a screw-up?  But, once again, you are not paying, the rest of us are.  Those who died on 9/11 paid.  Those who died and are dying and being maimed in Iraq paid and are paying.  While you go on yet another vacation.

Strong leaders succeed on their own merits, Mr. Bush, and they don’t make others pay for their mistakes.

Mr. Kerry was brave in Vietnam .  He was even more brave when he came home and tried to tell the truth about that awful war in the hope that thousands more would not be sent to die in Vietnam or in future wars fought for corporate profit.  Like, for instance, the one you got us into in Iraq to benefit Halliburton and your Daddy’s Carlyle Group.   Kerry was brave enough to speak out for what he though was right in the 70’s, even though he faced opposition and hate because of it.  That hate is still dogging him. 

Speaking out in an effort to save the lives of your fellow man, even though you face hatred and ridicule for doing so is a sign of a strong leader, Mr. Bush. 

I prefer a leader who won’t seek out a fight, but who will fight when he is needed.  Like Mr. Kerry did.  And like you didn’t.  He said we would go to war with Iraq if all else failed.  All else did not fail, Mr. Bush.  You simply wanted war.  A chance to experience vicariously and out of harm’s way what you had chosen not to experience 35 years earlier.  Mr. Cheney, especially, wanted no solution to the Iraq problem but war.   Halliburton was facing hard times that government war contracts would help see it through.

War, you thought, would mean money for Halliburton and other campaign contributors.  Money they would then dip into to donate to your campaign.  Your advisors told you it would be a cakewalk.  You thought you would be covered in our soldiers’ glory.  You thought all people want to be Americans.  And, rather than research your advisors’ assurances, you took their word as truth.  You believed what they (and you) wanted to believe.  You didn’t meet with the 1000  veterans, like Mideast specialist General Zinni, or David Hackworth, who said invading Iraq would be the most counter-productive thing you could do if you really wanted to win the war on terror.  You make it a point to never listen to experts other than those in your immediate circle.  Stan Goff is a retired Special Forces soldier.  He knows a lot about war.  He cannot understand why Tommy Franks is campaigning for you.  He said Franks had said Douglas Feith was one of the stupidest men on the planet.  Yet compared to you, Goff said, Feith is Robert Oppenheimer.  Do you know who Oppenheimer was, Mr. Bush.

A strong leader does not go to war for corporate profit, Mr. Bush. President Eisenhower was afraid that might happen and warned about it in his farewell address.  A strong leader goes to war because there is absolutely no other way to solve the problem.  A strong leader does not allow himself to be a lackey for the military-industrial complex.

A strong leader looks out for the poor, oppressed and powerless in his charge, Mr. Bush.  He lets corporations and the rich and powerful look out for themselves.  Unlike you.

And, unlike you

A strong, moral leader does everything in his power to prevent  war because he does not want to have the blood of the innocent on his hands. 

Omar Bradley, a strong leader, said something about that.  He said “War can be prevented as surely as it can be provoked, and we who fail to prevent it must share the guilt for the dead.”  But you don’t do guilt, do you, Mr. Bush?  Not in business and not in war.  Just like you don’t do funerals.  You don’t want to face what you have done.  Doing funerals might make you have to face a tiny bit of it.  I did read you said you prayed for forgiveness.  But, since you don’t believe you ever make any mistakes, I don’t suppose you believe there is much you need to be forgiven for.

But, even in the neverland you live in it hasn’t all turned out quite the way you envisioned it, has it, Mr. Bush??  Oh, Halliburton got the money alright, and you experienced your few minutes of glory in that ridiculous flight suit photo op on the Abraham Lincoln.  But you never experienced real danger.  You did not face combat.  You made that insensitive “Bring it on” comment, which a lot of troops and parents have said they would like to wring your f—ing neck for, but no one can reach you.  You are the most thoroughly protected president in the history of the United States .  Protected not just physically but also emotionally.  Not only do you not do funerals, you rarely visit the injured.  When you do, it is doubtful you see the worst cases or soldiers who are not supportive of you.  You do not want to face, and you are not made to face what your policies and actions are responsible for.

A strong leader faces the truth, Mr. Bush. He faces up to the reality and the consequences of what he and his policies have done.

Your father really had been a bomber pilot in war, and we have had other presidents who have served in the military.  But only you, the AWOL stateside, grounded from flying pilot ever felt the need to demonstrate his courage or bravery through an aircraft carrier landing carried out at great taxpayer expense.  None of the rest of our leaders ever even wore the uniform after they became president.  They did not have to try to prove they were not cowards.  Only you, Mr. Bush.  Only you.

You are not a leader, Mr. Bush.  You are an insecure needy man always looking for the limelight and affirmation. Always looking for the kind of  “high” that you used to get from alcohol and drugs.  And the rest of us pay.  Especially our poor soldiers and the suffering people of Iraq pay.  Our children will be paying for generations for your irresponsibilities carried out over the past four years even if you are not elected, please God, for another four.

When you are out of office in January, Mr. Bush, perhaps you could finally fulfill your tour of duty.  We have had guardsmen in their 60/s dying and being maimed in Iraq . 

Show us real courage, Mr. Bush.  Redeem yourself in your own eyes by actually facing danger.  Perhaps it is what you need to do to make peace with yourself.  You talk worshipfully about our brave soldiers.  At long last go be what you, apparently, have never been able to accept that you did not have the courage to be when you were young.  A real soldier.  A warrior.  Go try to be one of them!

Believe it or not, Mr. Bush, I wish you no personal ill.  But you are in a job you are in no way qualified for, a job you are not up to.  You are in over your head.  You should never have been the Republicans’ candidate, and you certainly should never have been elected.  But then, again, we Americans were smart enough to not elect you the first time.  Surely we will not elect you after the disaster the first four years you were not elected to have proven to be! 

A real leader has the humility to know when he is not worthy.

A real leader puts the good of the country over his personal ambition.

Al Gore, a real leader, thought he was doing that in 2000 when he quit fighting for the presidency he had won.  At the time, although I had voted for him, I figured that he had probably done the best thing for the country. Unfortunately, because you were much more inept, radical and power mad than any of us had dreamed you would be, he and I were both wrong.


Bio:  Lonna Gooden VanHorn is a mother of 6 and a grandmother.  Born and raised on a small farm in Minnesota , she is married to a veteran who served 18 months in Vietnam .  They now live in New Mexico .

Because she is grateful that despite her encouragement to do so, none of her children joined the military, she is working tirelessly to help defeat the man responsible for the tragedy of Iraq .  

Bio:  Lonna Gooden VanHorn is a mother of 6 and a grandmother.  Born and raised on a small farm in Minnesota, she is married to a veteran who served 18 months in Vietnam.  They now live in New Mexico.

Because she is grateful that despite her encouragement to do so, none of her children joined the military, she is working tirelessly to help defeat the man responsible for the tragedy of Iraq.


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