Opinion » Ted Rall


Ten reasons America needs a change


PORTLAND--George W. Bush has been a busy boy these past four years. Because his administration's policies are so radical and his attempts to change our country so far-reaching, it is sometimes difficult to remember them all. Here's a summary of why Bush and his gang of bloodthirsty corporate goons must go; voters may take them along to the polls to help them cast their ballots.

1. He stole the 2000 election. Voting to "reelect" an illegitimate commander-in-chief who seized power by judicial coup d'état is a tacit endorsement of how he got into the White House in the first place. How the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bush v. Gore is irrelevant. As a federal court, the five runaway Supreme Court justices had no right to agree to hear the case. Under our system of government, elections--and election disputes--fall under state jurisdiction. Their decision to take the case, the way they fixed the outcome in Bush's favor, and Bush's willingness to assume the presidency extraconstitutionally are outrages that no patriotic American, even if they agree with his policies, can forgive.

2. He politicized 9/11. During the early days after the attacks on New York and Washington, a stunned nation came together to mourn, and to assess the motivations of the 19 men who despised us so much they were willing to commit suicide as mass murderers to drive home the point. Rather than channel our newfound solidarity into positive initiatives, however, Bush used 9/11 to push for the USA Patriot Act, fast-track signing authority on free trade, tax cuts for the wealthy, lax regulations for polluters and a multitude of items from the partisan Republican Party wish list. He portrayed Democrats and others who disagreed with him as un-American traitors.

3. He let the terrorists get away while giving them a pay raise. The 9/11 hijackers were Egyptians and Saudis recruited by an Egyptian group, Islamic Jihad, with funding from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, some of whom received training at camps which were mostly in Pakistan, all of which were funded by Pakistani secret intelligence. Osama bin Laden, who may have funded all or part of the operation via al-Qaeda, was in Pakistan on 9/11. So who does Bush go after? Afghanistan, at best a back lot of Pakistani-backed Islamists and Iraq--which had nothing to do with 9/11. And what does he do about our real enemies in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia? He sells them more weapons. Egypt becomes the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel, collecting over $2 billion annually. Pakistan, ruled by a pro-Taliban general who jailed and tortured his democratically elected predecessor, is encouraged to develop its nascent nuclear capabilities. The 3,000 victims of 9/11 remain unavenged--and the stage is set for future attacks.

4. He murdered nearly 100,000 people. The war in Afghanistan killed at least 10,000 civilians and 20,000 Afghan soldiers (of which 10,000 were POWs allegedly massacred by Northern Alliance soldiers as U.S. Special Forces troops supervised the slaughter.) As of three weeks after the fall of Baghdad, General Tommy Franks estimated the number of Iraqi dead at 30,000 civilians and 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, men who were fighting to defend their country from a hostile invasion army. At least 10,000 more civilians and 5,000 Iraqi resistance soldiers have died since then. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq have anything to do with the war on terrorism, which has yet to start. Both wars were waged to expand American military and economic hegemony and Dick Cheney's policy of total energy dominance over oil and natural gas resources. The world would be safer if Charles Manson, a mere amateur killer by comparison, were released and Bush was sitting in prison.

5. He bankrupted the treasury. When Bush took the oath of office in January 2001, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office projected a surplus of $5 trillion over the next 10 years. Now, after two expensive wars of aggression and two series of extravagant tax cuts for the ultra rich--including the elimination of inheritance taxes on multimillionaires' estates--the federal budget is facing a $5 trillion shortfall. That's a $10 trillion net deficit--10 times more than the Reagan deficit that took Clinton his entire tenure to pay off--for giveaways to Bush-connected defense contractors like Halliburton and a fraction of one percent of wealthy individuals. Most Americans will get nothing out of this but the bill, which, if history serves a guide, won't be repaid until our children are dead. Goodbye national healthcare, sayonara help with college tuition. Bush has stolen our future.

6. He threw thousands of innocent people into concentration camps. Drawing from another of fascism's greatest hits, Bush used his fictional war on terrorism as a lame pretext to throw thousands of Muslims and Arabs into a new gulag archipelago spanning the globe from secret CIA-run prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq--including the infamous Abu Ghraib--to INS detention centers in Brooklyn to the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Detainees caught in battle were denied their Geneva Convention rights as POWs, tortured and even murdered. Illegal immigrants who should have been deported were jailed indefinitely without access to attorneys or visits from family. In the ultimate Orwellian twist, they were turned into "unpersons"; even their names were withheld from the media. Any president who endorses such atrocities, as Bush has repeatedly done in speeches, is against everything that America purports to stands for. Bush has even signed a secret directive authorizing himself with the right to assassinate anyone, anywhere--including American citizens--as "enemy combatants."

7. We are more feared than al-Qaeda. Bush's radical new policy of "preemption"--a self-ascribed right to invade other countries based on a presumed hunch--has terrorized the international community. Even though they have never threatened us, nations like Iran and Syria wonder whether or not Bush will invade them next--and are racing to develop nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the U.S. threat. Our traditional allies, who still want to engage themselves with the rest of the world, have been forced to distance themselves from our bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy. We, not Islamist terrorists, are the world's most feared power. We are feared, which is why we are hated. Because we are hated, we are in greater danger.

8. Bush has done nothing to improve the economy. At one of the presidential debates, Bush was asked what he would tell someone who had lost their job to outsourcing overseas. He answered that the unemployed had received their $300 tax cuts, and that within five years his education policies would start to help children. The truth is, Bush did nothing to jumpstart the weak post-dot-com economy he inherited in 2000. Like most Republicans, he favors high unemployment as a way to keep labor weak and salaries cheap. A Bush victory would ensure more of the same--fewer jobs, lower salaries, reduced unemployment benefits. A president can do a lot to stimulate the economy: jobs programs funded by the government, tax cuts for the working class. But Bush won't act because it would run counter to his ideological beliefs.

9. Bush will appoint the next Supreme Court justice. Whether they're values issues like abortion or gay marriage, or the next election dispute, the Supreme Court is balanced on the razor's edge between reason and right-wing fascism. Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist, who originally intended to step down during the last four years but evidently decided not to do so because of Bush's lunacy, are over 80 years old. They may not last another four years. We can't let Bush have the chance to appoint their successors.

10. We deserve a president who can speak English and doesn't look like a chimpanzee. John Kerry is a far from ideal prospect but he's a huge leap forward from an evolutionary standpoint.