[sixties-l] On the domestic front

From: monkerud (monkerud@cruzio.com)
Date: Sat Oct 20 2001 - 00:19:13 EDT

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    Bush Manipulates Patriotism
    By Don Monkerud

    After a stunned nation rallied around the president in the aftermath
    of the bombings of September 11, the Bush administration is pursuing
    its right-wing policies with a vengeance.

    The speed and sweeping nature of Washington's policies portend an
    increasing shift to the right in US policy. After facing criticism
    for a "unilateralist" and "go-it-alone" attitude, Bush now wraps his
    agenda in a common fight against terrorism. Under the mantle of a
    "War on Terrorism," Bush finds new acceptance and approval.

    Now virtually every new policy is backed with a call for
    "bipartianship" and unity during the "war." For example, the Bush
    energy plan gives oil, gas and coal companies billions of dollars in
    subsidies, rejects fuel-efficiency standards for SUVs, foresees a
    forest of oil derricks off the California coast and supports drilling
    in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Despite huge
    profits-such as Exxon Mobil's record $17 billion-by oil companies,
    Bush argues for his industry-created energy plan as overcoming
    "dependence on Middle East oil" because it harms "national security."

    Bush's new plan to boost the economy is equally filled with
    regressive policies. After a giveaway of over a trillion dollars that
    primarily went to wealthy tax payers in 2001, Bush now calls for 41
    percent of his 2002 tax cut bill to go to the richest one percent of
    Americans. His "stimulus package" provides $70 billion-out of $100
    billion-to go to businesses. Companies like General Electric and the
    auto industry stand to reap huge benefits.

    Bush will subsidize the wealthy to make it through this time of
    "hardship." Meanwhile the top one-fifth of Americans set a record,
    receiving 49.7 percent of national wealth. The average poor person's
    income in 2000 fell to a record low. A family of three struggles to
    stay above the federally mandated poverty level of $13,738 and the
    poorest one-fifth of Americans received 3.6 percent of the national
    income-another record low. Bush proposes this policy, while urging us
    to visit Disneyland and appeals to our patriotism "to get the country
    moving again."

    Opposition to Bush's defense spending increases melted on September
    11. Immediately afterwards, Congress appropriated $40 billion, part
    of which will to be used for counter-terrorism. Congress then turned
    around and approved a $345 billion defense budget that included the
    largest military pay increase in 20 years as well as $8 billion for
    an unproven missile-defense system. Another $50 billion was approved
    for a "black budget" to be used for intelligence, and observers
    expect Bush to come back with additional defense spending proposals
    before the end of the year. Chairman of the Armed Services Committee,
    Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said passing the bills were "essential to
    our national security."

    With limited opposition, Congress also succumbed to Bush's expansion
    of police powers in the US. The FBI and CIA, for the first time, can
    now share investigative evidence, wiretap phones and computers, and
    conduct lightning-swift searches. Immigrants can only be held for
    seven days- rather than indefinitely as Bush proposed-but any
    investigation begun before the new law takes effect can continue
    indefinitely. If innocent people are hurt, they can sue for up to
    $10,000. Some of these were Bush proposals before the "war," but
    others were added.

    Ignoring the role that globalization played in the September 11
    bombing, Bush is touting a "new multilateralism" and pushing Congress
    to allow him "fast track" approval of trade treaties. Such treaties
    will abrogate US antitrust, intellectual property and food-safety
    laws. Opponents warn of labor and environmental disasters if the US
    surrenders trade sanctions as a way to prevent these catastrophes,
    but right-wing business interests argue that rich countries improve
    labor and environmental laws. Such improvements appear unlikely, but
    Bush claims fast-track authority is necessary to build an
    international coalition to fight terrorism.

    Foreign governments are also jumping on the bandwagon to fight
    terrorism and further their own regressive agendas. With hints that
    the US may begin to rely upon Russian oil to replace dependence on
    the Middle East, Russia appears ready to accept Bush breaking the
    1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. This would clear the way for US
    nuclear testing and US weapons in space, a long-stated objective of
    the Bush Administration. In exchange, they would receive much needed
    oil revenue.

    The rearmament of Japan also got a boost from the "War on Terrorism."
    Its House of Representatives is on the verge of allowing the
    Self-Defense Forces, for the first time, to participate in distant
    military actions. Although Japan's postwar constitution renounces
    war, four Japanese warships are set to join US forces. Right-wingers
    in Japan, who have pushed for a revitalized military for some time,
    praise this as "a big step forward."

    In the face of criticism, the Bush administration appears unwilling
    to examine its policies. Many foreign and domestic critics of Bush's
    bombing of Afghanistan suggest that the bombing is a failure of US
    foreign policy and that policy needs to be reconstituted. One
    administration official even admitted that we are losing "the hearts
    and minds" of the Arab and Islamic world. In response Bush hired a
    Washington public relations firm to hold focus groups, create a
    website and recommend ways the US military can improve its image.

    The newly concocted "War on Terrorism" was a godsend to President
    Bush and the Republican Party. As a minority president handed the
    office by a Supreme Court that disallowed the manipulation of votes
    in Florida, Bush had so alienated Republican moderates that the party
    lost control of the Senate. Many of Bush's policies appeared to be
    headed for rough sledding. People spoke of him as a one-term
    president. After September 11, everything changed.

    Today the Republican Party is riding high, but the rest of the
    country will suffer. Unfortunately Bush's policies relentlessly build
    toward a nation where the rich grow richer and the poor poorer and US
    globalism rules the world economy. These are the same conditions that
    bred the fundamentalist fanatics that bombed the WTC on September 11.
    As such conditions grow worse, the American people need to realize
    that the war will be much much longer than anyone expects.

    The End

    1000 words
    Don Monkerud
    Copyright 2001
    First time print publication
    rights in circulation area only

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