Bush & Co. vs. Democracy at home and abroad
Can there be a greater irony than George Bush & Co. claiming to be champions of democracy in Iraq and throughout the Middle East?
The plan for Iraq, established well before the invasion and documented as such, was to turn that sad country’s economy over to control by U.S. and multinational corporations. Completely. Foreign companies are to be allowed to buy all major industries in Iraq for next to nothing. That includes but is not limited to oil and its support industries.
Under the Bush plan -- now in place though buyers are scarce and profits are limited so far except for direct war profiteers such as Dick Cheney’s Haliburton -- all corporate earnings may be removed from the country. No reinvestment in Iraq is required. Taxes paid to Iraq are to be extremely low or nonexistant. Iraq is not allowed to charge tariffs on imports of foreign (mostly U.S.) goods. Under the only law perpetrated by Saddam Hussein that the U.S. has allowed to stand, government employees are not allowed to join or form labor unions. Several incidents strongly indicate that any union activity will meet with harsh response. Also, very early in the occupation, it was made illegal for workers to demonstrate against the overwhelming unemployment in the country.
The plans for the takeover are clearly stated in a 101-page U.S. State Department document that has been passed to some reporters, notably Greg Palast, an investigative reporter and author of the best seller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." (Speaking of irony, the State Department document’s title is "Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Growth.")
It appears that the official U.S. plan was drafted by representatives of major U.S. corporations. No Iraq citizen had any voice in creating it. No citizens of a democratic country would vote to accept such terms, and, in fact, at least one Bush insider acknowledged that and said the administration had no intention of letting any "democracy" get in the way of the corporate looting.
As sorry a tale as that is, the irony of the Bushies claiming even a smidgeon of loyalty to democracy is even more clear when set up against their activities in these last days of our own election campaign.
A couple of previous articles here have outlined some of the fraud, chicanery and general skullduggery perpetrated by Republicans all over the country to suppress Democratic votes, and, in fact, defraud the electorate. In the past week or so, other than the usually daily stump speeches, the entire Republican focus has been on such activity.
Given the huge effort now underway, it looks like the Republican strategists (read Karl Rove) concluded that they can’t win with just the previous level of cheating and so must greatly increase their efforts steal the election.
Florida, under brother Jeb Bush, isn’t bothering to hide it’s illegal and/or unethical actions. In addition to the many previously reported scams in effect there, the Hightower Lowdown reported for example that the Orlando League of Voters, a largely black organization, is being systematically harassed by Jeb’s state police – the Bush Family Brown Shirts. So far, more than 50 of the Orlando group’s leaders – mostly elderly black women – have had intimidating visits from very obviously armed plain clothes state cops, who roughly question them about their political activities. The cops refuse to say what motivates the interrogations, other than to hint to reporters that there may have been some voter fraud, unspecified, in a mayoral election in March. (The spurious claim was raised by the GOP right after that election and an investigation at the time and found "no basis to support the allegations," Hightower reports.)
The Hightower publication also says that recently, John Ashcroft, the Constitution-hating U.S. attorney general, began sending federal agents to states in which the Democrats and various liberal organizations have registered many new voters – starting with swing states, of course. The agents are questioning newly-registered people in their homes. Supposedly, they’re looking for fraud, although there is no reason to suspect it. Actually, they’re simply intimidating new voters on the probably correct assumption that many of them will be too frightened to vote.
And, again in Florida, as widely reported, 58,000 of 128,000 absentee ballots supposedly mailed to Broward County voters never arrived. Broward County gave Al Gore 67 percent of its votes in 2000.
Gee, said the elections folks, it must be the Post Office’s fault. The Post Office said it processed all of the absentee ballots mailed by the county and delivered them as soon as they were posted. The local Post Office has a special team to do just that, in fact.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement "investigated" for a matter of minutes and found no crimes had been committed. Supposedly the people who didn’t get their ballots can still get them, but many obviously are away and won’t receive ballots in time to vote and, anyway, there is no guarantee that the ballots will be delivered regardless of what the officials say now to reporters. Some citizens who called seeking their ballots have been unable to get through because phone lines and email were jammed.
Evidence of increasingly blatant GOP setups in Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan and elsewhere also continues to mount. New touch-screen voting machines produced and programmed by companies headed by Bush cronies figure prominently in several states.
In Ohio, where the vote obviously is going to be as fraud-ridden as in Florida, the Republican Party is trying every trick it can come up with to keep low-income and minority citizens from voting. The party has appealed a quick and firm local court dismissal of a phony challenge of new voter registrations – in Democratic-leaning areas only, of course.
Also, the Ohio GOP has recruited hundreds of lawyers and others to challenge voters in precincts with heavy Democrat-leaning populations. As one party official acknowledged, they don’t really expect to find many, if any, people voting illegally; the goal is to slow down the functioning of the polls in those areas to such a degree that thousands of people get tired of standing in line and leave without voting..
As reported by the New York Times first, the Bush camp (Karl Rove at his cutest) has pointed the Internal Revenue Service at the NAACP. The IRS is examining the civil rights organization’s tax exempt status on the grounds that NAACP Chairman Julian Bond made "statements in opposition of George W. Bush for the office of presidency" and "condemned the administration policies of George W. Bush in education, the economy and the war in Iraq."
That is so absurd the entire nation should be giving the Bushies the horse laugh. Compare Bond’s statements with those by leaders of any of several hundred tax-exempt organizations that are barely-concealed right-wing and Republican campaign and policy groups. Oh, and let’s not forget the "churches" run by Bush sycophants. Of course, the aim is intimidation, to silence the voices of Bush critics who are connected with nonprofits.
Bond reasonably pointed out that his statements were focused on policies, not politics, but the IRS attack isn’t about truth or justice; it’s about dirty tricks and using government agencies as political enforcers.
So here, finally, is the point.
The Republican Party of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, et al, the Republican Party of the power-grubbing television preachers and insanely greedy corporate executives, is utterly without morals or decency. It has no value but winning. It gives not a damn for honesty or integrity. It despises democracy and spits on the U.S. Constitution. It will do anything it can get away with to win and it wants to win solely because of the power and wealth that its leading members can accrue. And, very sadly, a great many ordinary folks who traditionally vote Republican seem to think all the dirty tricks are just fine, sorta cute, in fact, and that cheating is OK. "Everybody does it." Wink, wink.
Given those facts, there is serious doubt at this point that the Democrats can recapture the White House, let alone Congress. Kerry and Edwards may win the vote, as Gore did, and perhaps by a greater margin, and still be kept out of office by fraud, theft and possibly the complicity of our already seriously damaged Supreme Court.
What then, folks? If a second theft of the presidency is allowed and the current bunch of thugs holds office for another four years, American democracy could be so nearly dismantled that it may be impossible for liberal and/or centrist Americans ever again to have a full voice in the running of this country. It is conceivable that even if they suffer a clear electoral loss, the Bush Mob will refuse to step aside.
Better start thinking now about how you will respond to a clearly stolen election or a coup d’etat, should either of those occur.