US Diary: 'orrible Bush
1. Treasonous Bush Fostering Fascism -- by Bill Gallagher
We, the suffering American people, are now in the sixth winter of our national discontent, thoroughly numbed by President George W. Bush's radical agenda, wild misjudgments and wholesale lies. He sells fear to win support, when it is he we must fear most.
The nation and world brace to endure more of Bush's obsessions, miscalculations, greed and sheer incompetence. We are in the seventh hell of an administration that claims all power and denies all responsibility. The state of our union is frightening.
These are very dangerous times. Nothing in our national experience has prepared us for the chilling consequences of the double dose of foreign and domestic irresponsibility and recklessness Bush has wrought.
Of course, I wish I could say I anticipated the cold reality of the Bushevik horrors. I didn't. I was horribly wrong. While I get a steady flow of hate mail accusing me of "hating Bush," I don't. I simply pity him as a tragically flawed figure who happens to be far more lucky than good and an effective prop for the interests he gladly serves. I do despise what he has done to our nation already and fear what's to come.
But that's not what I thought five years ago, after the U.S. Supreme Court selected and anointed this failed progeny of a wealthy family, with a familiar name and vast influence.
Left on his own and relying on his own merits and wit, Bush always fails.
But his pedigree, the country club culture and the Ivy League affirmative action his family status guaranteed assured this manifestly mediocre man his richly undeserved academic opportunities, business "successes," personal wealth and the powers of high public office.
Never forget that Yale University and the Harvard Business School gave our nation the worst president and manager of civic affairs we have ever had. That's a stigma those otherwise respected institutions must bear. They helped create this monster.
Reflecting on what I anticipated and wrote when the supremely ill-qualified Texas cowpoke took office on that bleak January day, I now realize what a fool I was.
I praised his inaugural speech, calling it "stunning." Dubya quoted Mother Teresa and urged Americans to see the "pain of poverty." The president who went on to do more to enrich the rich and steal from the poor than any other in our history was calling on people to sacrifice to help others.
"I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort," Bush said. He fretted that, in times of economic decline, "the vulnerable will suffer most."
And then, in one of the most pixilated moments in my life, I gushed in the column that "our 43rd president set a decent tone for his administration far different from his shrill campaign. He called for 'a nation of civility, courage, compassion and character.'"
What we got was corruption, cronyism, chaos and craven assaults on the civilized world. His "compassion" for the poor has turned into an unprecedented raid on the U.S. Treasury to give tax cuts to the richest Americans and his corporate sponsors. Middle-class workers are paying for the reckless debt, as their real income remains flat or declines. Programs to help the poor are being slashed as corporate welfare, business subsidies and pork-barrel spending have grown wildly under Bush's watch.
A cover story in Britain's "Economist" warns this is "danger time for America" as a result of Bush's economic and fiscal policies and the retiring Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan's monetary policies.
The article notes Greenspan's legacy and reputation may well falter quickly from the pain his work leaves.
"Mr. Greenspan's departure could well mark a high point for America's economy with a period of sluggish growth ahead. This is not so much that he is leaving, but what he is leaving behind: the biggest economic imbalance in America history," the "Economist" warns. America's housing boom -- enabled by Greenspan's low interest rates -- results in people borrowing against "the rising potential artificial value of their homes" to indulge in all kinds of superficial luxuries.
As a consequence, "Americans have been able to literally consume more than they earn. ... Part of America's prosperity is based, not on genuine gains in income, nor on high productivity, but on borrowing from the future," the "Economist" offers.
Consumer spending dominates the modest expansion of the U.S. economy, but Greenspan -- along with the Busheviks -- has created a fragile and unpredictable economic engine built with unsustainable devices.
"Robust consumer spending has boosted GDP growth," the British journal notes, "but at the cost of a negative personal savings rate, a growing burden of household debt and a huge current account deficit."
Greenspan recently told the French finance minister, "We have lost control of the budget deficit."
No, Mr. Greenspan, "we" have not committed this unconscionable act of generational thievery. You, Bush and the Republican Congress have created this mess with your addiction to borrow-and-spend federal budgets.
Greenspan's irrational exuberance for Bush's irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans has put us on the track of the fiscal trainwreck we are sure to have. Long ago, Greenspan lost any respectability as a central banker to become a hack politician and GOP partisan. Good riddance!
American manufacturing, especially the automotive sector, is in big trouble, and Washington refuses to do anything to help. Detroit auto executives, with their hubris and shortsightedness, have contributed largely to their own plight, but some factors are beyond their control and government can and should do something about them.
With Delphi in bankruptcy, Ford closing plants and cutting one-quarter of its workforce, and General Motors losing $8.6 billion last year -- and with that vulture Kirk Kerkorian ready and willing to use his large stake in GM to force liquidation of the company -- the industry and people who depend on it are in dire straits.
But Bush is not prepared to help in any way. He told the Wall Street Journal last week, "I think it's very important for the market to function," and he downplayed any possible federal role in assisting the domestic automakers.
Of course, Bush can't stop the Chinese from unfairly manipulating their currency, which hurts U.S. manufacturing, because Chinese banks are financing a substantial chunk of the enormous debt he's created. You can't get tough with the Chinese when they're keeping us fiscally afloat.
Health care costs put American automakers at a serious competitive disadvantage with foreign competitors. A single-payer health care system would be the best thing the federal government could do to help U.S. manufacturers. We pay more per capita for health care than any other industrialized nation, and yet we still have 40 million people uninsured.
Auto executives know a single-payer system would help enormously, but they don't have the guts to say so out loud.
Besides, they probably figure the Busheviks are so beholden to the drug industry, insurance companies and for-profit hospital chains, it's pointless to broach the subject.
But, by golly, some industries are doing just fine with their buddy doing a heck of a job in the Oval Office. Military contractors and energy companies are thriving. Halliburton, of course, is both.
Vice President Dick Cheney's former company -- with the largess of government subsidies for oil exploration and no-bid Pentagon contracts in Iraq -- reports the most profitable year in its 86-year-history: $1.1 billion in net income. Halliburton still sends residual payment checks to Cheney's bunker.
The corporate culture he created there has resulted in Halliburton being caught on numerous occasions cheating the taxpayers, overcharging and performing substandard work. A recent report showed that company provided untreated water for soldiers in Iraq. The market that best functions for Halliburton is based on influence and political clout.
Chevron -- where Condoleezza Rice once served as a director -- made a record $14.1 billion for 2005. That's as fuel prices soar, consumers and businesses suffer, and Bush and the Republican Congress provide more tax breaks for oil companies. It's always better to be lucky than good. Just ask Lord Halliburton and Princess "Concealeezza."
Bush's idea of "civility, concern, compassion and character" has made the world despise us. His war in Iraq will cost more than $1 trillion. That money would have been better spent investing in our own infrastructure and homeland security. Bush's neocon fantasy of forced democracy is failing in Iraq. Sunni fundamentalists and jihadists are gaining support in Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
The desperate Palestinians -- tired of getting nothing -- just voted democratically for Hamas to run their government. Bush has never put up a dime of his "political capital" to help create a Palestinian state and forge a lasting peace. The invasion and occupation of Iraq have only diminished hope for political stability in the region and have spread chaos and extremism.
Bush is fostering fascism to "protect" us, claiming he has the authority to spy on people without search warrants and indefinitely detain "enemies" without charges and legal representation. He condones kidnappings and torture. He says this illegal, unconstitutional and barbaric behavior makes our nation "safer."
Bush's horrible adventure in Iraq has weakened our security and nurtured terrorism. At home, the economy is precarious at best. We are a fiscal basket case. Tuesday night, Bush will tell us how much better off we are with him at the helm. The truth is, the state of our union is a shambles. Can matters get any worse? Just wait until next winter.
(Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
2. Impeach or Indict Bush and Cheney -- by Ronnie Dugger
The year 2006 will be historic for the nation, and probably for humanity. Texans Bush and Rove and their conspirators in the second Bush presidency have disgraced American democracy at home and in the world with debasements of our nation and our values that have now entered their climactic phase. What part will the rest of us Texans play in this decisive year?
As I have written in a review-essay that appears in the tenth-anniversary spring issue of Yes! , the quarterly of new solutions published in Washington state by David and Frances Korten (YesMagazine.org), we are living and working in the very days and nights of the American Emergency, the climactic American Crisis. Our elections are bought, and our government is run by and for the major transnational corporations. Bush announced in 2002 his illegal presidential policy that the United States can and will attack other nations first, waging war on them, when he so decides. He is now waging, as if he were doing it in our names, a bloody war of aggression against Iraq, which on the face of it is a crime against humanity under the Nuremberg principles that we and our allies established and enforced with hangings after World War II. The President, the Vice-President, and their factors sold this war to Congress with twistings and lies that were crafted to infuriate and terrorize us about Iraq’s alleged connections to Al Qaeda and mass-murder endangerments to us from Iraq itself, all of which literally did not exist. In polls now six of 10 Americans do not believe the president is honest. Yet he has three more years of dictatorial control over our nuclear and other arms and our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps and seems now to be maneuvering to use that control to wage another aggressive war on Iran, with literally incalculable consequences.
We Texans are a major source of this deterioration into crisis. The leading Democrats of the state so dishonored the liberal traditions of their party that in the resulting political vacuum, Bush was elected Governor here, and from Austin he mounted the campaign that a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court illegally decreed made him President. After that, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, from Sugar Land, crafted his scheme to use corporate money to widen the Republicans’ majority in the Texas delegation to Washington, D.C., battening down right-wing GOP control of the House and the Congress. The third President from Texas and his Republican Congress then waged aggressive war on Iraq, drove the nation into insolvency to further enrich the already rich, and just for good measure tore up the Constitution.
As we in Texas bear guilt for this we have also begun to join the resistance and revolt against it, starting with Cindy Sheehan’s brigades in Crawford. By happy accident the Texas trip-root that now threatens to help bring the Bush presidency crashing down, crushing itself under its own arrogance, hubris, and criminality, is a law against corporate money in Texas elections that was passed a century ago in the state’s populist afterglow. To uphold that law, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has braved ruthless contumely, as he had done often before in order to prosecute public officials he believed had violated the laws. While it is merely seemly to await the outcome of the trial of DeLay and his co-defendants on the charges that they laundered corporate money through Washington to elect Republicans to the House from Texas, in a speech in September Earle declared what he believes his prosecution is all about. “Corporate money in politics” has become “the fight of our generation of Americans....It is our job—our fight—to rescue democracy from the money that has captured it,” he said. “The issue that we’re faced with is the role of large concentrations of money in democracy, whether it’s individuals or corporations, the issue is the same.”
Since 1994, although the polls show a majority of Texan citizens support progressive reforms such as adequate taxation for equal education for Texas schoolchildren, the leaders of the disappearing Texas Democratic Party and their statewide candidates, finking out on every ethically important political issue, have proved again and again that nothing fails like failure. Rot-gut Republicans have swept every statewide office and achieved mercenary domination of the Texas courts, too. In my opinion, Texas Democrats ought to have concluded by 2002 at the latest that they should be choosing, from among the waves of the on-comers, entirely new sets of state and local party leaders and candidates. For example, rather than be taken in, even a jot, by the torrent of contemptuous abuse directed at Ronnie Earle by Tom DeLay, his lawyers, and that ilk, Texans should be realizing that—just as the dramatic prosecutions of Thomas E. Dewey in New York made him a Republican presidential candidate and now the populist prosecutions of Eliot Spitzer in New York State are making him a national figure—Ronnie Earle has fully qualified himself as a front-rank leader in Texas politics. For another example, this year, in my opinion—shared, by the way, by Jim Hightower—Texans are very fortunate to have running for Attorney General the lifelong labor lawyer and Democratic firebrand David Van Os of San Antonio. The Observer does not make political endorsements, but I may say here for myself alone that David, in my carefully considered personal judgment, is the Ralph Yarborough of his generation.
The national resistance to Bush, Cheney, Rove, et al., is coming into focus, too. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, which is the logical source for impeachment initiatives, has taken the significant step of calling for an investigation of Bush and Cheney with a view to censure, which obviously could metamorphose into impeachment. Tom Daschle, until recently the Minority Leader in the Senate, Sen. Edward Kennedy, and Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, are all calling for investigations of Bush and Cheney. Elizabeth Holtzman writes for impeachment in the current Nation , and the Internet is on fire with initiatives to impeach Bush and Cheney for crimes committed in office, foremost among them lying our nation into a war of aggression. Impeachment is unlikely as long as the House remains firmly in GOP control, but this year it would be gratifying to see citizens seeking the election of House candidates—whether Democrats, Republicans, or independents—who promise explicitly to vote, if elected, to impeach Bush and Cheney.
If impeachment does not become possible, let me broach with you the idea that a grand jury, federal or state, should indict Bush and Cheney for their manifold official crimes. Are we, as we are so often piously assured, “a nation of laws and not of men,” or is the President above the law if his party controls the House and can block impeaching him?
The Constitution is silent on whether a seated President and Vice President can be indicted, while in office, for crimes committed while they have held those offices. Constitutional lawyers are congenitally prone to announcing that this cannot be done because it would disrupt the ongoing business of the government. But it is time to do it, if necessary absent impeachment, for exactly that reason—to disrupt the continuation of THIS government.
I have not yet found one constitutional lawyer who can cite a Supreme Court case or any other judicial precedent prohibiting their indictment—if you know of one please let me hear from you. In 1973 Nixon’s attorney general said the President can’t be indicted, but why should Nixon’s attorney general bind us?
Committed to nonviolence, determined, in this post-Gandhi era, against violence, nevertheless we are once again in the position of the Framers of the Constitution. In the post-revolutionary emergency, the Founding Fathers took things in their own hands, violating their clear instructions from the states by proposing to create the United States, which the states then created. In the crisis we are in now we must not be misled by expostulating lawyers or posturing politicians. We the citizens can make up our own minds whether we can indict Bush and Cheney and, if they are convicted, throw them out.
May we close here, then, as we began two centuries and more ago, with the words of Tom Paine. “We have it in our power to begin the world over again,” he said. “The birth day of a new world is at hand… We are a people upon experiments. It is an age of revolutions, in which everything may be looked for.”
(Ronnie Dugger is the founding editor and former publisher of The Texas Observer. Author of presidential biographies and other books and articles, he writes now from his office in Cambridge, Mass.)