Jim Hightower

The Scam of Homeland Security


There’s a rule of bureaucracy that says: When confused, reorganize. The Bushites and the Congress have just resorted to this timeworn dodge in a big way. Clueless about the threat of terrorist attacks at home, they’ve reorganized the federal bureaucracy. They’ve taken 22 existing agencies with 170,000 employees and jammed them into a brand spanking new super-agency they call the Department of Homeland Security, glomming the whole mess together with a $35 billion annual budget. This is supposed to make us safer? Even the White House acknowledges that this newly-conglomerated monstrosity will take years to get itself together. From moving furniture to battling over turf, DHS officials are going to be focused on their shuffling organizational charts rather than tracking terrorist threats. But you’ll be glad to know that the Republican leadership quietly slipped some very useful amendments into the DHS bill. Useful to their corporate campaign contributors, that is. For example, GOP majority leader Dick Armey attached a provision that gives blanket immunity to corporations that make faulty bomb detectors, gas masks, and other antiterrorism equipment. Thanks to Dick, victims won’t be allowed to sue for injury or death even if the manufacturers intentionally make defective devices. How does this help our security? Dick also used the bill to undo an earlier corporate reform passed by the House, which prohibited giving government contracts to runaway corporations–those cheaters that reincorporate as foreign companies by setting up phony off-shore addresses so they can avoid paying their U.S. taxes. Without a vote, Armey simply inserted a provision in the DHS bill reversing this reform. Homeland Security might be a new agency, but it’s the product of the same old corrupt politics.


Bush and his congressional operatives are preparing to rush through a whole trainload of legislative nastiness, claiming that George W has won a “mandate” for his total corporate agenda. Mandate? Not exactly. Start with the fact that this is a president who didn’t even win the popular vote in 2000 and is only sitting in the White House because five Republican Supreme Court members perverted Constitutional law to slip him in. And polls consistently show that the public opposes the bulk of the programs he’s pushing. Yes, say the Bushites, but we just had a sweep of the mid-term congressional elections, putting our party in charge of both houses and giving us a fresh mandate, so get out of the way while we do the people’s will! Hold your stampeding horses: You gained only two seats in the senate and five in the house–hardly mandate territory. Before you try to act in the name of “the people,” check the election numbers. The great majority of the people thought the campaigns were such a pile of issue-avoiding, negative horsehockey that they didn’t vote at all. And of the 39 percent of American voters who did cast ballots, the majority of them voted either for Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Working Family, Independent, or other parties’ candidates–not for the GOP. The so-called “mandate” that you are claiming actually is made up of less than 18 percent of the electorate! There’s even less to that number than meets the eye. A big percentage of the 18 percent does not support your elitist and extremist agenda of more tax breaks for the rich, creeping privatization of social security, the gutting of consumer bankruptcy protection, and all the other favors you plan to give to the corporate powers that finance your elections. You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken manure, and Bush’s claim of a “mandate” is 100 percent chicken manure.


Gosh, I miss Harvey, George W.’s handpicked head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Wall Street watchdog agency. What a beautiful guy, the perfect portrait of Bush’s plutocratic administration! He came to the SEC straight from Wall Street, where he was a big shot lawyer for Arthur Andersen, and other giant firms that he was now supposed to regulate. Like George himself, Harvey was a 100-percent true believer in laissez-faire ideology. Harvey totally looked and acted the role of corporate concigliere and bureaucratic autocrat. Like an old Thomas Nast caricature of a Robber Baron, Pitt is, shall we say, portly. He’s got a full beard, a big belly that’s amplified by the red power-suspenders that he favors, and he has a gruff arrogance that seems to be fueled by his wan gaseousness.

Woodrow Wilson once said that some people come to Washington and grow, while others just swell. Harvey was a sweller. Faced with the mass finagling and outright robbery being conducted by the Enrons, Arthur Andersens, and all the rest of the Wall Street crowd, Pitt never ceased being an eager accommodator. He was the perfect poster boy of the Bushite’s undying loyalty to Wall Street greed. But, alas, Harvey was so gross, so inept, and so politically tone deaf that he was too heavy a load for even the most corporate White House in history to carry. So, on election night, while the media spotlight was pointed elsewhere, Harvey was offed. The good news is that George W. is now the national symbol of corporate excess.

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.