By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
Consider these points and evaluate the presidency of George W. Bush.
l One year and a half later, we still have few answers on the 9/11/2001 tragedy. The investigation of the shuttle disaster is proceeding faster than the worst attack on mainland America in modern history.
l No one in the CIA or the FBI has been held accountable for this massive intelligence failure.
l Osama bin Laden is the supposed sponsor of 9/11. Despite the invasion of Afghanistan, and the millions of dollars spent on that effort, bin Laden is still at large and operating. What happened to Bushs vow of Dead or Alive!? Maybe the belated capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will yield something.
l The Bush team rammed The USA Patriot Act through Congress. Congress folded, most never read the act, and the Bill of Rights is in tatters. Our own government can spy on us with impunity. Privacy is a joke. Even worse, Patriot Act II is being composed in secret for the next window of terror opportunity, and Congress is still useless and unable to resist.
l The anthrax attacks on Congress and the U.S. Postal Service are still unsolved. Most acknowledge the anthrax probably came from U.S. military stores. That case isnt solved either.
l The U.S military is now gathering in the Mideast to attack Iraq. The cost is astronomical. Many of the reservists activated and shipped overseas are personnel whose regular jobs would be involved in Homeland Defense, firefighters, policemen, etc. So much for domestic protection.
l Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge told people to buy duct tape and plastic to seal their homes, creating a mini panic. This method would be by and large useless because duct tape is gas-permeable, and it is virtually impossible to completely seal an average American home. If you did, asphyxiation by carbon monoxide poisoning is a real danger.
The government rethinks and retractsmaybe one safe room in a home would be better.
The Israeli government distributed packets to their citizens for such scenarios, complete with instructions and recommended materials.
No such program has been instituted and critics charge that the U.S. is still largely unprepared for a chemical, biological or nuclear attackone and a half years after 9/11. What do citizens do in the event of a chemical or dirty nuke attack?
l Yet, these weapons of mass destruction are the excuse we use for our proposed attack on Iraq. Most experts agree that Iraqs nuclear capacity is destroyed, with no immediate hope of recovery. Missiles are being destroyed, yet we continue to bomb other missile sites in the no-fly zone with no real provocation, unlike the four North Korean jets that came after our spy plane over international waters.
l Yes, North Korea really does have nuclear weapons and is restarting its nuclear production program, complete with a missile test into the Sea of Japan while our Secretary of State Colin Powell was visiting. Why? Because North Korea, with its the million-man army, knows it can push back and China backs it.
When he called North Korea part of the Axis of Evil, along with Iran and Iraq, George W. Bush created the largest diplomatic disaster in our history. He put North Korea on notice he was coming after them. Goodbye to all the negotiation of the Clinton administration, as designed. Now the U.S. does not negotiate, we just bully. He gave advance warning to three nations and all their allies that we were coming after them. So much for subtlety; let the trumpets blow. South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China are listening apprehensively. Because of Bushs failure, the region may see more nuclear proliferation. Good job, George!
Iran, also with nuclear weapons, is very quiet, for now. The U.S. is in Afghanistan to their east and in Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Accordingly, Iranian Muslim hardliners just defeated the reformers. U.S-wrought fear brought the fundamentalists victory. Good job, George!
Pakistan and India, also with nuclear weapons, are powder kegs. India is worried about our romancing of Pakistan for our Afghan war. Pakistan feels emboldened. India just tested a cruise missile with nuclear capacity that flew 185 miles. Good job, George!
By the way, it is largely acknowledged that Israel also has nuclear weapons.
l Bushs policies have simultaneously made more possible nuclear flash points active than ever before, and the U.S. commitment of troops overseas is on overtime and overextended. We have troops in Europe, Bosnia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and now even Colombia, not to mention our massive Middle Eastern build-up and a purported build-up in South Korea.
Estimates put our troops in 130 countries. Strategically, our shores and heartland are vulnerable.
l Some of our the smaller troop commitments are part of U.N. peacekeeping units. Ironically, the majority of the U.N. General Assembly is against our war in Iraq. As we try to gather votes in the U.N. Security Council, what is being promised in return? What will be the cost to the U.S. taxpayer? Is this diplomacy better called bribery, and what real long-term loyalty will it bring us? The charade is unraveling. Bushs press secretary, Ari Fleischer, was loudly laughed off stage by the White House press corps when he feigned outrage at a story purporting that U.N. Security Council votes were being bought.
l Bushs diplomatic thrust on Iraq has already cost us the loyalty of three long-time alliesGermany, France and Turkey. The outstanding majority of the people in each of those countries is against our president.
Germanys Chancellor Gerhart Schroeder used the anti-American-power card to get elected. His countrys economic woes became secondary to what Germans see as his standing up to American heavy handedness, reaching for oil.
Frances President Jacques Chirac is being cheered by his country (and even their former colony, Algeria) for standing up to the U.S. in the Security Council. His point that more inspections are going to cost nothing but time, rings loudly of common sense.
Yet, here in America, encouraged by our Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfelds remarks, France bashing has become a righteously macho sport. Even in Rockfords own Legal Follies, enthusiastic applause greeted the ridiculing of France and the fact that we bailed them out in two world wars. Obviously, the writer of that skit forgot that without Frances support in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, this country would not exist in its present form to proudly point Frances gift of Lady Liberty in New Yorks harbor.
Vive la France! Vive la Chiracs common sense! A true, level-headed friend will tell you what you really dont want to hot-headedly hear when you need common sense the most. France is such a friend, and the fact that the Bush administration is so belligerently ruining our relationship with our long-time ally bespeaks of its thunderously diplomatic blunders.
Turkey, a truly moderate Muslim state, says 95 percent of its population is opposed to war with Iraq. Rejecting the vote of its cabinet, the parliament voted down letting in U.S. troops to attack Iraq. The day after the vote, the Turkish stock market took heavy losses for fear of losing U.S. aid.
However the U.S. tries to carve into Turkey, we will have no Thanksgiving. If we intimidate Turkey with aid and they let us in, the people will be against us, and fundamentalists will gain ground. If we make them suffer monetarily, the people and the oligarchy will be against us and another long-term, pro-West ally will distance themselves from our interests.
Then theres the issue of the Kurds. If we liberate Iraq, the Kurds will want independence. This will be a threat to Turkey, who has slaughtered Kurds in the past to suppress their independence movement. If we let Turkey into northern Iraq, we will have betrayed the Kurds again, and they will be against us.
Some days you eat turkey, some days Turkey eats you, George.
l Meantime, Bushs foreign gobbling is eating the food right off the plates of our domestic programs.
In Oregon, the state is shortening the school year because of cutbacks in federal funds.
In communities that have military bases, according to the Chicago Tribune, 240,000 students will be eliminated because of cutbacks in federal funds. Yes, the education of two-thirds of the children of military families is getting whacked by our Education President.
Doubt all this is happening? Become a local believer by looking at how Bush has cut two-thirds of our own Rockford Housing Authoritys budget. We are now $3.8 million short in the RHA budget, and 60 to 75 employees will lose their jobs. The effect of the war on terror and homeland defense has come home to Rockford.
Supposedly, HUD forgot to ask for $250 million from Congress last year. RHA was getting $650,000 per month, now its getting $165,000 per month.
RHA Executive Director Lewis Jordan tells the tale: Everybody tells me the cavalry is on the way. They just cant tell me when. If we dont do what we are doing now, we cant make payroll in a few weeks. Cuts are being across the board. We just wont be as responsive as we have in the past because we are pretty much cut in half. One of the more scary parts are recent conversations with HUD. Theyve been saying theres a new formula on how money will be distributed in HUD. Thats trouble.
Its a hard call. I think that as things in D.C. are prioritized, Im not sure that poor people are on that list. As the president prepares for war, he said no one will be left behind. As he defends our shores, I hope he does not leave the homeland behind. Im not going to sugarcoat it; this is going to be devastating to public housing around the country.
The average RHA resident is a single mother with two kids making $5,100 a year. We try to make them socially responsible and contribute. We are more than halls and walls. With the hit we took with mental facilities closing around
the state a few months ago, we are hard-pressed with those new residents, said Jordan.
l The Social Security and Medicare trust fund has been raided for years, and only the mentally impaired think they are not threatened. Remember the so-called Budget Surplus? That was the Social Security Trust Fund. With Bushs new budget and its record-breaking deficit, forget about those programs existing as they do now. If we are really lucky, our Social Security benefits will end up like the RHA, cut in half.
Think goodbye when you look at your FICA and Medicaid contributions on your payroll check stub. Your money will be and is being pounded into the sand and people of Iraq, and all the other hell that will break loose when that war starts. Youll really need prescription drugs of some kind, when your retirement comes.
l As he gets close to his retirement, even the Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, is going through the motions of calling Bush out on his deficit proposal. However, old Greenspan likes Bushs proposal to cut taxes on stock dividends. Big surprise. The Federal Reserve, a private corporation, is heavily invested in the stock market and banks, and Greenspan wants his handlers to make more money off the taxpayers backs. He just doesnt want to seem too greedy about all that interest money the Fed and its owners will be getting off the U.S. debt.
l Bush and his handlers are trying to restructure society as we have known it for the last 50 years. By pumping our tax dollars into Homeland Security, the war on terrorism through the criminal-justice and military-industrial complexes, he is drastically reducing all the economic and civil liberty gains of the New Deal and Great Society programs by not funding public education and public service programs.
Big money hated those programs when they were created, and the oligarchy has had its sights set on them ever since. Bush is pulling the trigger. That report is aimed at anything they dictate as socialism, rather than democracy brought about by populist action. Special interests are more enlightened and should rule over the ignorant masses in the playbook of Bushs cadre.
As the economic and justice gap between the haves and the have-nots grows wider, Bush is planting the row of tragedy. What recourse does a citizen have … the courts? How can you afford justice when you cant afford a lawyer, and the judges slam you when you act as your own attorney or against the vested interests? ask many of the already disenfranchised.
The steel fist is in the velvet glove, as shown by how the administration is trying to put on the power of the Hispanics, by putting forth Miguel Estrada as a nominee for the federal appellate court. Estrada will do the right wings bidding, and Latinos will be anything but served by the tokenism of a Trojan horse.
The tokenism to democracy is fully shown by the crowded field of Democrats who are running for president. Not one of them has the character to truly stand up to Bush and his peoples designs. The lack of courage in the Democratic Party makes it laughable. Have any of them pushed for a full and impartial 9/11 investigation, right now? No. Have any of them asked for the repeal of the Patriot Act? No. Have any of them said Bushs diplomatic policies are a disaster? No. Have any of them called for a war vote in Congress? No. Have any of them fought for our domestic programs and a balanced budget, so we have a future as equal citizens? No.
The Democrats are a bunch of play-it-safe losers owned by their mastersthe corporate campaign contributors. Bush has planted himself right on top of the Democrats, and is laughing as his blatant rooting for fear and destruction destroys the gaping gussies in the supposed opposition.
Add in this lack of opposition to social injustice, the deficit and the tax money gorging into the military and related budgets, and here comes economic collapse, for the little guy and gal, but not for big money.
Money wins over people again, and wheres the big money? In oil. Wheres the oil? In the Mideast and central Asia. Those who rule all the oil rule all the world.
Yes, Germany and France want their piece of the oil market, and thats part of the reason for their opposition to our war in Iraq. Its good if they do retain their control of that oil because they see the true scenario, and they want a balance of power against hegemony and unilateralism of the worlds only superpower.
Heres the scenarioThe Bush administration and its ideologues Rove, Wolfowitz, Perle and Brzezinski, et al., see a new world order of what they call the American Imperium. Really, they use that term Imperium, like Imperial Rome or the Imperialism of the British Empire that this country revolted against. Odd how Britain is our only true ally in Iraq. The imperial presidencies of the past pale in comparison to the coming rule of King George W.
The maxim, You become what you hate rings so true. Hopefully, well never become like George W. Bush because he is a disaster, and almost everything he does and believes swings the steel fist in the velvet glove at our most cherished valuesliberty and justice for all. Its time to take the gloves off. He is the most dangerous president weve ever had.
The Iraq crisis fails to meet the criteria of a just war. Bushs actions violate the body and spirit of our Constitution. The United States is in danger of becoming every evil weve ever opposed in the world.
Call and write your congressman and senators and tell them to fight for us for a change, before its too late.
PETER FITZGERALD (R)
230 S. Dearborn St., Suite 3996
Chicago, IL 60604
DON MANZULLO (R)
415 S. Mulford Road
Rockford, IL 61108
As to recent critics of this paper who support Bush and have called this papers criticism of his administration left-wing, please refer to our editorials calling for the resignation of Bill Clinton at the time of his impeachment. Clinton supporters called us right-wing, at the time. We must be doing our job, if we are so popular with all of our winged friends.
One thing the world needs is popular government at popular prices.George Barker