Jim Hightower



If you’re a Bush, there’s nothing like an Iraq attack to deflect your political problems. George the First was widely considered a doofus with no popular appeal until he decided to go after Saddam Hussein in 1990, causing his poll numbers to soar. He didn’t get Saddam, and his war to protect the Kuwaiti oil monarchy ultimately didn’t save him from being defeated by Bill Clinton, whose campaign theme was, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Now a decade later, George the Second is in deep doodoo, facing skyrocketing deficits, rising unemployment, sinking stock prices, a stinking corporate scandal, more probes into his own business dealings, probes into Cheney’s business dealings, and… well, “Hey, gang, look over there–it’s that old nasty Saddam Hussein, let’s go get him!”

The problem with Bush’s chest-thumping bellicosity is that lots of ordinary Americans and Iraqis will pay the ultimate price for his political adventure. Perhaps if our commander-in-chief had ever faced bullets himself, he would not be so quick to howl for war. But George W. avoided the Vietnam war, thanks to family friends who pulled strings. This puts him at the top of a list of “Chickenhawks” compiled by the New Hampshire Gazette. The Gazette’s “Chickenhawk Database” is made up of prominent figures who are big warmongers now but avoided actual war when they had the chance. Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, and Karl Rove–three Bushites pushing hard for an Iraq attack–are on the Chicken-hawk list. So are such Congressional warmongers as Trent Lott, Phil Gramm, and Tom DeLay, as are some of the more bellicose media personalities, including Rush Limbaugh, George Will, Bill O’Reilly, Geraldo Rivera, and Tony Snow. Another interesting fact about these Chickenhawks is that none of their own family members will have to go to the front lines of the war they’re so loudly promoting. To see the Chicken-hawk Database for yourself, go to http://www.nhgazette.com/chickenhawks.html.


Washington press conferences aren’t anything more than self-serving noise that’s not worth covering, but this one was an exception. Nineteen Democrats in Congress pulled themselves together and stood tall in a press conference to say something that millions of Americans–indeed, an American majority–have been desperate to hear: “Wait one damned minute, Mr. Bush, we don’t agree with your rush to attack Iraq.” Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gang have been ceaselessly pounding the war drums, and the media has covered every nanosecond of the administration’s self-serving beat. Yet most Americans are asking: What’s the rush? Why now? Who’ll die? And, “Where the hell are the Democrats?” Sadly, the loyal opposition has been M.I.A., offering no flag of protest for war-wary Americans to rally behind. So, when Marcy Kaptur, Jim McDermott, Bob Filner, Barbara Lee, Bernie Sanders, Lynn Woolsey, Dennis Kucinich, and other stalwart members of Congress had the guts to step forward in opposition, it was an important moment for We The People. Only, we didn’t hear or see them, for the establishment media essentially ignored their stand and refused to cover their message. The New York Times buried the story inside the Saturday paper and denigrating the 19 members as being “outside the mainstream.” Well, the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were outside the mainstream, too, but they built a new nation on such democratic principles as having the right to dissent from the ruling dogma.


In 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed the law creating Labor Day as a national holiday. What a nice gesture… except that Ol’ Grover had unleashed 12,000 federal troops just days earlier to crush a strike by Pullman rail car workers, killing dozens of union members. A hundred and six years later, here came George W. Bush to a Labor Day picnic, posing as “The Worker’s Friend”… except that he’d been working behind the scenes for weeks to crush not just a strike, but a whole union. It’s the ILWU–the longshoremen workers union. These are the folks who do the dangerous and highly skilled job of unloading freighters at the three major West Coast ports. The owners of the giant shipping companies–most of which are foreign corporations, including COSCO, owned by China’s military–have been working with a secret White House group to bust ILWU’s bargaining power and reduce dockwork jobs to non-union, low-wage work. Also backing Bush’s outrageous meddling are Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, and other big box retailers who don’t want to pay union wages for unloading sweatshop-made products from China and elsewhere. Especially disgusting is the fact that Bush & Gang are using the war on terrorism as an excuse to do their dirty work, claiming that a dock strike could delay supplies going to our soldiers and also endanger homeland security. Tom Ridge, Bush’s homeland security czar, intervened, threatening to bring in federal troops to take over the port jobs if the union doesn’t give the owners what they want.

Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit www.jimhightower.com. To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900.