Jim Hightower

How 'Bout Those WMDs?

What a Wonderland World it is in Washington! Wrong can be right, down can be up, a lie can be truth—all because the president says it’s so. Our present president seems to love to lie. Not because George W. likes doing wrong, but because lies simplify his life, turning his confusion into clarity. I think he even believes his lies when he speaks them, and when he gets caught lying, hey— that’s in the past, it’s just a technicality, and besides… it depends on how you define “truth.”

How about the big truth of WMDs? Where are those tons of Weapons of Mass Destruction that George W. so absolutely insisted Saddam Hussein had targeted at the United States, posing the imminent threat that was his moral excuse for invading Iraq? It’s a scream to watch the Bushites now try to squirm out of the inconvenient reality that they’ve found no masses of WMDs in Iraq. Lately they’ve tried to claim every slingshot, trailer, empty casing, and barbecue pit they come across as “proof” of Saddam’s WMD program. But when launching his Iraq Attack, George didn’t talk about such small stuff—he spoke specifically about a “mushroom cloud” that Saddam would ignite in America. The Bushites also flatly asserted that Saddam had 500 tons of mustard gas, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 30,000 rockets to deliver chemical weapons, dozens of scud missiles, 18 biological warfare factories, and all sorts of long-range missiles and other WMDs—that now can’t be found. First they claimed that Saddam hid them, then that he took them with him (how, in his backpack?). But now, the Bushites say it doesn’t matter—we kicked Saddam’s butt and that’s all anyone needs to know. Doesn’t matter? The president blatantly lied and it’s OK?

THANKS, DR. PHIL

It’s 2003… do you know where you are? Not the physical you, but the “digital you” that banks, credit-card firms, insurance companies, brokerage houses, and other corporations have created from personal information—information you thought was private. For example, how much liquor have you charged to your credit card, what’s your net worth, have you missed a loan payment, are you taking medicine for a sexual problem, what’s your monthly take-home, did you make a series of trips to Las Vegas last year? All this and more is collected by your financial institutions and—thanks to a little known law that congress passed four years ago—those institutions now can share all of your personal data, compile it into a detailed profile, and store this digital you inside their computers. But they don’t stop there—the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act lets them give “you” to all of their conglomerate affiliates and to sell “you” to other corporations under joint marketing agreements. The digital you is their slave… and the actual you doesn’t know which corporations have you or what they’re doing with you. You can thank former senator Phil Gramm for this theft of your privacy. At the behest of the industry (which, coincidentally, just happened to be his major campaign funder), Phil dutifully maneuvered this body-snatching bill into law. Gramm left the senate last year and was rewarded with a fat cat job with a giant financial firm that had lobbied for this bill. If you think that these privacy invaders should not be allowed to use and sell your personal information without written permission, you are not alone. People all across the country are outraged and are pushing for action to stop the privacy snatchers. There is both a bill and an initiative in California that would outlaw this corporate intrusion. If it passes there, other states will follow.

A MATTER OF “JUST-US”

You have to admire the compassionate conservatism of the only president we presently have. George W. has looked around the country, surveyed the growing economic woes of our people, and reached this compassionate conclusion: The rich are hurting. George has responded with a $400 billion tax giveback, eliminating the taxes that they pay on their stock profits. But this is not merely a matter of compassion, says George; it’s a matter of justice. He asserts that taxing the stock dividends of big investors is nothing less than the horror of “Double Taxation.” After all, corporations already pay taxes on these profits, so the 10 percent of Americans who own 90 percent of all corporate stock shouldn’t pay again when the profits are distributed to them. George, who likes things simple, says simply, “It’s not fair to tax something twice.” George, we know you’ve never worked for a living, but have none of your hot-shot corporate economists mentioned to you that working people have their incomes taxed not just twice, but multiple times? Our monthly wages are hit for federal and state income taxes, social security tax, unemployment and Medicare taxes—then these same wages are slapped with ever-rising sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes, highway and subway tolls, numerous fees… and, if we buy a six pack to try forgetting taxes, we’re hit with the liquor tax. If Bush really gave a damn about fairness, he wouldn’t single out a handful of rich elites for more favoritism, he would focus on restoring some progressive balance to a skewed tax system that grossly favors the rich and global corporations at the expense of America’s wage-earning majority. For the truth about Bush’s policies, call Citizens for Tax Justice: 202-626-3780.

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.

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