Viewpoint: Ship of state taking on water

Ol’ Trent stepped in it, eh? His loose-lipped comments in praise of Sen. Strom Thurmond, that old hunk of cornpone who has been moldering on a senate seat the last umpteen dozen years, has Washington and the nation rightly bent out of shape.

Because of this rearing up of racism, everyone is distracted from the President’s wild-eyed threat to nuke Saddam and Bush’s selection of a cadre of crooks to beef up the administration’s economic policy and intelligence operations.

Up ‘til now Bush has had one policy for everything. You spell it “w-a-r.”

Despite all the bellicose rhetoric, Iraq has not responded with any threats against this country. And nobody is asking or answering the question: Why is Iraq the only country that has to disarm? Israel has more weapons of mass destruction than any nation in the Mideast, but there are no calls for it to disarm.

How about North Korea? No calls or threats to disarm or we invade. No oil there, either. India? Pakistan? Both have nukes, but we are silent. What about Russia?

The U.S.? We have the most deadly weapons in the world and we have used them in the past and may again. If anybody suggested we should disarm, the entire country would bristle in indignation.

Then there’s the very peculiar picture of American intelligence operations. Despite all our hi-tech capabilities and our plethora of alphabet agencies, we have been unable to find Osama, a six-foot-four giant in a land of short people, or one-eyed Mullah Omar, el supremo of the Taliban, or the person who mailed all that anthrax a while back.

But GeeDubya has no trouble rounding up the bad guys when he wants them in his administration. He found and resuscitated John Pointdexter, who masterminded the arms-for-hostages scam in Iran-Contra days. Convicted on five felony counts of lying to Congress, he later was acquitted on a technicality.

Today, he heads a federal operation to collect every bit of information on everyone of us and stash it in a big database—national security, you know.

Pointdexter has so irritated some Californians with his planned snooping that one editor of a weekly paper published John’s home phone number and urged his readers to call the admiral and ask him why he needs to know what they paid in bridge tolls or what they had for breakfast.

Shrub also dug up Elliot Abrams, another Iran-Contra whiz, and put him in charge of Middle Eastern affairs. Might as well put Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in command of the PLO. Abrams was found guilty of lying to Congress, but five years later, Papa Bush pardoned him.

Then there are Abrams’ buddies, John Negroponte and Otto Reich. The former is our ambassador to the UN, and the latter serves as special envoy for western hemispheric affairs at the State Department.

Kissinger even came back briefly but found the seat as chairman of the commission investigating 9-11 was too hot and departed abruptly. More than a couple of folks think Henry is one of our leading war criminals for his part in the Vietnam War and some capers in Latin America.

Next, we have the new economic team. William Donaldson to take over the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A long-time friend of the Bush clan.

Wall Street is tickled pink. Donaldson is one of them; they’re safe! Former chairman of the exchange, founder of a Wall Street investment firm and ex-chairman of Aetna Insurance Co.

Donaldson advocates the same high standards of accounting for foreign firms as the ones followed by Enron, WorldCom and Tyco, all sterling examples of business ethics.

Of course, there was that small problem at Aetna, but don’t give it a thought. It was only that nine months after he took charge Donaldson told investors he had Aetna’s struggles with rocketing medical costs under control and profits would be looking good.

Four months after that, some little glitches in the company’s accounting system were discovered and Aetna announced profits would be substantially lower than anticipated. The stock dropped 18 percent in one day.

Just 10 days before that, Donaldson bailed out. As CEO for 10 months, he pulled down $1 million in salary, a $6 million bonus and more than $11 million in restricted stock and options. There’s a guy who understands economics!

How about the new treasury secretary, John Snow? Snow was chairman of CSX Corp., a railroad company. The operation paid no federal income tax whatsoever in three of the last four years. The Los Angeles Times reported CSX raked in more than $1 billion in pretax profits over four years. The feds handed CSX $164 million in tax rebates. That’s cookin’! He makes a profit, pays no taxes and gets rebates on the taxes he didn’t pay. On top of that, CSX paid him $36 million in salary and forgave a $24 million loan so he wouldn’t lose any money when the stock price dropped. As columnist Molly Ivins wrote: “Lends a whole new meaning to snow job, doesn’t it?”

Is it any longer a mystery why 60 percent of Americans no longer vote? Greed and special interests rule.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!