What to look forward to in the second Bush Administration
There are so many things threatening to come from this administration, some more immediate, some on the near or farther horizon. All are menacing in one way or another to our moral sanity, our democratic way of life, our health, our lives.
- (First, for me) is this continuing savage, illegal war in Iraq -- the continuing atrocity of "shock and awe" which is the bombing and shelling of populated cities and towns -- this is to continue. We are told that Falluja had to be destroyed in order to carry out "democratic" elections. Falluja was indeed literally pulverized. The ICRC (Red Cross) has estimated that a minimum of 800 civilians were killed in the one-week siege of that city alone.As if that number were not shocking enough, the Reuters news agency and the Iraqi Red Crescent separately give even much higher minimum figures. The true human cost of the bombardment is not reported by the Pentagon. The British medical journal Lancet has published the figure of 100,000 civilian deaths in all Iraq since the March 2003 invasion began, based upon its own research and that of Johns Hopkins University.We can look forward to two, three, many Fallujas until the "insurgency" of a people defending their country against a brutal invasion is finally crushed -- and the US can deepen and extend its control -- not direct ownership -- but its control over the energy resources of Iraq -- which was the secret plan of the Bush administration since the first day it came into office.
- On the domestic front, the privatizing of Social Security is front and center on Bush's agenda. This would shift trillions of dollars of our retirement funds directly to the Wall Street firms -- and every proposal of the Bush commission assumes large benefit cuts in the guaranteed portion of Social Security, or raising the retirement age -- or both. The enormous cost of transition into private accounts is the immediate threat looming to retirement income, not to speak of the harm to people who can least afford to play the stock market with their retirement funds.In addition to this, the privatizing of our Medicare system has already begun with the passing of Bush's Medicare prescription drug bill last December which, beginning in 2006 removes 45 percent of our taxpayer federal funds out of Medicare and into the hands of the private insurance companies, thus beginning the slow pauperization of our traditional Medicare until we no longer can afford to have it. Unless this bill is repealed, Medicare's privatization is already in the works.
- The continuing degrading of our planet's and our nation's environments, beginning with the consequences of Bush's refusal to sign the international Kyoto Protocols on limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The consequences can already be seen -- with the already apparent global warming, the shrinking of the Arctic ice cap, wild fluctuations in weather patterns, and the ongoing threat of depletion of the Gulf Stream and wrenching dislocations in the food chain and habitat.In the US itself under the Bush administration the removal of many of the environmental protections we have come to regard as sacrosanct with respect to our air, our water, our food have been watered down or have been threatened with being eliminated almost entirely.
Much of this has been done by executive order, outside the jurisdiction of Congress. The boards and scientific commissions with jurisdiction over these questions have been politicized by Bush by the marginalizing or outright firing of those who do not agree with Bush's business-oriented conclusions. A large group of Nobel Prize Winners and university scientists have signed a public letter of deep concern about these trends.
- Dissent anywhere is not to be tolerated. Under the Patriot Acts I and II it is only a slight exaggeration to say that the 10 original amendments to the Constitution, our previously sacred Bill of Rights, have been pared down now to about 5 or 6, or eliminated -- for the purpose of safeguarding our freedoms and security.
The Fourth Amendment, which long protected citizens' homes against unreasonable search and seizure, is no longer sacrosanct. Amendments V through VII which guaranteed the rights to legal counsel in criminal cases and guarded against double jeopardy, testifying against oneself, biased juries, etc. -- is no longer operable if the Justice Department deems the accused to be sympathetic to a "terrorist" cause.The original framers of the Constitution who never could have foreseen that our government would one day need to jail someone indefinitely without judicial review -- thus wrote a document which now turns out to be "quaint" as Attorney General designate Albert Gonzales, one of the writers of the sinister Patriot Act, characterized the Geneva Conventions to be.Under the Bush agenda the Patriot Act and its sequel is to be removed from its sunset clause and made permanent.
- Four new justices stand to be named to the Supreme Court by Bush in the next four years -- all with the conservative or arch-conservative philosophical backgrounds of Justices Thomas and Rehnquist. And other conservative judges will be named to fill federal appeals and circuit benches as they come open.
- Most of the states, including Illinois, are struggling under massive deficits and are cutting many social services and infrastructure -- some seeking ways to have the public somehow pick up the tab, if they would. The federal government announced it would not be helping, its last dollars tied up in the Iraq war (two hundred billion at last count) and in the massive tax cut to the wealthiest individuals. Under the Bush agenda this tax cut will be made permanent, and the historically unbelievable federal debt growing deeper and deeper leaves a hideous legacy for our children and their children.Basic economic principles are simply lacking, and some Republicans and business leaders are coming out condemning this president in record numbers on the issue of the irresponsible policies with respect o the economy, and also the war.
- Etc.: There are many more issues to make ourselves aware of -- and wary of -- such as:
- The deep and blatant corruption of allowing the CEO of the major Pentagon contractor -- still in the pay of that contractor -- to make national military policy which directly and massively benefits that contractor. This is our vice president, of course, and Halliburton with its subsidiaries the contractor.But the same is true of the individuals that sit on the Defense Policy Board of the Pentagon -- all are in one way or another connected with the top military and defense contractors whose companies massively profit directly from the policies put in place by these very members of the Defense Policy Board. (This is also true, of course, for the president's father, and the president.)
- The separation of church and state is quietly eroding. The defunding of public education is openly discussed in some communities.
- The distrust and contempt many countries feel toward this administration grows daily not least because of the lies coming out of the Bush White House that have become systemic. The Abu Ghraib tortures and the Guantanamo prisons scandals will be a permanent stain on our flag, and the hypocrisy of what we say versus what we do revealed for all time to come with the total impunity of the leaders who put those policies in place.
- Our soldiers are dying and losing limbs while wholesale war profiteering is openly admitted in congress, and there is not enough money to fully fund veterans' health care -- and the VA has ordered their personnel to stop informing veterans about their benefits -- while an OMB memo shows the VA expects close to a billion dollars in cuts in 2006. Bush has called for the closing of three VA hospitals and partial closure of eight more. Where will he put the wounded?