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'Chicken Hawks' Defend the Roost

By Bill Berkowitz

These Chicken Hawks, bluesy trash/bar punk rock band, aren't Bush's defenders ... "In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first." …Ambrose Bierce

This might be a good time to pause and remember America's "Chicken Hawks." No, not Chicken Hawks, the first baseman/outfielder who played for the New York Yankees in 1921 and the Philadelphia Phillies in 1925.

Nor am I referring to Chicken Hawks, the bluesy trash/bar punk rock band that some critics have compared favorably with the Velvet Underground. Not the Ozark Adventist Academy Chicken Hawks; not adult male homosexuals who prey on young boys; not red-tail hawks, referred to as "chicken hawks" by West Virginians.

I'm talking about America's home grown, draft dodging, non-military, super-patriotic cheerleaders for the president's "war on terrorism." These are your major league Chicken Hawks! The folks who stand on the sidelines waving flags and cheering the troops on as they traipse off to war…but who, ahem, had better things to do than serve in the military themselves.

These jingoistic "Chicken Hawks" are leading the charge in the "war against terrorism." They are legion in Washington, especially within the Republican Party.

Last week, an Alternet story by Jim Lobe pointed out that a new organization has been formed to "take to task those groups and individuals who fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the war we are facing."

Heading up Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT), a project of the Washington, DC-based Empower America, is William Bennett, one of America's "Chicken Hawks."
... it's people like Dick Cheney ...

Bennett, the self-proclaimed arbiter of American morality, has done stints as secretary of education as well as drug czar (he sure did a terrific job in those capacities). He runs K12, an outfit aimed at families who are home schooling their children, and he recently signed on as a commentator with CNN.

And then there's Tom DeLay, a Texas "Chicken Hawk" who avoided military service in Vietnam and who suffers from foot in beak syndrome. According to a recent BuzzFlash Editorial, DeLay, the Republican Party's Majority Whip in the House, also known as "The Exterminator," accused Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) - who fought in Vietnam - of betraying his country by raising questions about the direction of the president's "war on terrorism."

A reader wrote

"This morning (3/9), I was sipping tea and watching CNN when Tom Delay came on to speak about wonderful GW. He was asked about Kerry's mild rebuke of him and he came out with the most outrageous comments. I think he should be censored.

"He said that Kerry fought in Vietnam and came back to protest against it and it was people like him that gave aid to the enemy and undercut our soldiers over there and that people like him caused us to lose the war. Then he said that if GW had been president we would have won that war. I think I have lived long enough to be totally disgusted by the revisionist history of Vietnam by people who ducked and hid."
... and John Ashcroft ...

Knowing that Tom DeLay is a big blowhard, I assume the BuzzFlash reader got DeLay's remarks accurately. Most people who know anything about President George W. Bush's military service would either recoil in embarrassment or crack-up at DeLay's absurd remarks.

Bush's service record can probably best be summed up with the question, "Where's George?" He did join the Texas National Guard and instead of serving in Vietnam, he worked for an Alabama senatorial campaign. There are troubling reports about his record as a National Guardsman - did he really disappear for a while and yet still manage to receive credit for service. For more on this see the Boston Globe's May 23, 2000 story at One_year_gap_in_Bush_s_Guard_duty%2B.shtml

DeLay's current comments reminded freelance writer William Pitt of an incident at the time of the 1988 Republican convention. DeLay was dispatched by party leaders to meet the press and "defend the military service record" of George Herbert Walker Bush's Vice Presidential pick, J. Danforth Quayle, who instead of going to Vietnam, served in the Indiana National Guard.

According to Pitt, DeLay told the gathering that Quayle was prevented from going to Vietnam because too many minorities had volunteered ahead of him. For the complete Pitt story at, see:

DeLay isn't the only "Chicken Hawk" servicing the president's "war on terrorism." You'll find plenty of hypocrisy to go around at This fine website exposes the names of many GOP stalwarts who never served a day in the military. Check out the names on the list. It's a who's who of major "war on terrorism" supporters.

Prominent Republicans who did not serve in the military
... and Georgie, himself, who hasn't served in the U.S. military

  • Speaker of the House

    Dennis Hastert - avoided the draft, did not serve.
  • Majority Leader, and soon to be retired, Dick Armey - avoided the draft, did not serve.

  • Majority Whip Tom Delay - avoided the draft, did not serve.

  • Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott - avoided the draft, did not serve.

  • President G. W. Bush - decided that a six-year National Guard commitment really means four years.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney - several deferments, the last by marriage (in his own words, "had other priorities than military service").

  • Attorney General John Ashcroft - sought deferment to teach business education at Southwest Missouri State University.

  • Karl Rove - avoided the draft, did not serve, too busy being a Republican (see: )

  • Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich - avoided the draft, did not serve.

  • Senator Phil Gramm (R-Texas) - avoided the draft, did not serve, four (?) student deferments.

    And don't forget Bill Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Pat Buchanan, Jack Kemp, Vin Weber, George Will, Ken Starr and Rush Limbaugh - comedian and author Al Franken devoted a chapter to conservative chicken hawks in his best-selling book Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot.

    For more on these gentlemen, see: Pat Robertson enlisted, went over to Korea and was sent home when the fighting started at his father's request.

    After you've scanned the list, think about how quick these folks are to pounce on anyone raising questions about Bush's war. Think about Lynne Cheney, the wife of the non-serving VP, whose American Council of Trustees and Alumni recently branded a number of America's university professors as the weak link in the "war on terrorism." And think of the outrageous claim by Tom DeLay, accusing Kerry of undercutting the military's efforts in Vietnam by returning home and protesting the war.

    Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
    Big Brother is Watching You

    Jeffrey Montgomery: Bush Exploiting the Nation's Fear

    The U.S. Senate's Phony Patriot Act

    Related Sites:
    Truth Out

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    I'll leave the last words to the Credence Clearwater Revival.

    Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
    Ooh, they're red, white and blue.
    And when the band plays "Hail to the chief",
    Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,

    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son.
    It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no,

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