George, Mary, & McClellan
he problem for U.S. presidents who jump on their moral high horse and gallop around the world loudly lecturing other leaders about freedom and democracy is that their practices back here in America are often the exact opposite of what they’re preaching to others. George W., our present preacher-in-chief, recently went on a highly-publicized moralizing mission to Russia, where he publicly scolded President Putin for imposing anti-democratic measures. Fine—Putin’s autocratic tendencies are abominable. But then George got caught up in asserting his own moral purity, declaring: “I’m perfectly comfortable in telling you our country is one that safeguards human rights.” Well, yes, Americans certainly have a strong belief in that ideal. But Bush & Company have been energetically pushing America backwards on human rights. They’ve insisted that the White House has a right to torture war prisoners; they’ve used federal police and the military to shut out and shut up Americans who protest Bush’s policies. Filled with moral piety, however, George continued his lecture, saying, “I live in a country where decisions made by government are wide open.” What an absurdly awkward thing to say. Bush & Company are notorious for pushing a dangerous new culture of government secrecy. They have gone to court again and again to assert “executive privilege,” insisting that they have the autocratic right to hide all information about their decisions. They also maintain secret “no fly” lists, they have unilaterally suspended the public’s use of our right-to-know laws in case after case, they’ve doubled the number of government documents classified as secret, and they’ve claimed in several cases that not even Congress or the courts can examine their decisions. Of course, even under Bush, America isn’t as bad as Putin’s Russia—at least not yet. BUSH BUBBLE Do you think W. has ever visited the real world? Or has he spent his entire life in the bubble of special privilege? Take the economy, which he keeps telling us is fantastic. Even in the rare case when reality confronts him, George doesn’t get it. He recently flew to Omaha for one of his made-for-TV “conversations” with the people—although “the people” allowed in are a hand-picked rent-a-choir. On this day, however, reality intruded. A single mother named Mary told George that she has a young, mentally-challenged son and two daughters. Bush blurted out, “fantastic,” cheerfully telling the audience that Mary has “the hardest job in America, being a single mom.” Well, yes, Mary said, but she also has to work three other jobs to make ends meet. From deep within his personal bubble, the effervescent president then exclaimed, “fantastic,” calling her experience “uniquely American,” as though she was offering up her family’s hard reality as some sort of uplifting Horatio Alger tale. Then, George made a little joke of her situation, asking if she gets any sleep. This would be either laughable or pathetic if it were not so vicious—in the sense that government policy, which should do something to benefit the millions of Marys in today’s economy, instead is being shaped from within the bubble to do them more harm. Bush’s budget, for example, cuts education, housing, and food programs, claiming that there’s no money in the public treasury, while shoveling out $1.3 trillion in tax giveaways to America’s richest people, who share Bush’s bubble. Our elitist leaders have lost all sense of economic morality. They can live in their bubble, but they can’t hide. Eventually, the bubble will burst. LOOSE GANNON The Bushites constantly remind us that we now live in a new world of hyper-security. You can’t get on an airplane without removing your shoes, the mildest citizen protest is greeted with a phalanx of police in riot gear, and even the inaugural was a locked-down affair conducted within an iron circle of soldiers, police, Secret Service agents, spies, and other authoritarian forces. So, how did a loose cannon like “Jeff Gannon” get to sashay around the White House so freely for two years? Gannon turns out to be the nom de plume of a guy who now says his real name is James Guckert. He claimed to be a reporter for a web site that is a partisan PR front for an outfit called GOPUSA. He has no journalistic credentials. Yet, despite using a fake name and posing as a reporter for a “news” outlet that’s really a political operation—Gannon/Guckert was routinely allowed into the White House press room for daily briefings and presidential press conferences. He was called on regularly by press secretary Scott McClellan and by George himself, obviously because he tossed up marshmallow questions that denigrated Bush’s opponents and hailed George as a glorious leader. Aside from his alias, Gannon/Guckert also is linked to several sex-for-hire websites with names like HotMilitaryStud.com. Yet, the White House, which requires Secret Service clearance for reporters, now claims it had no clue about his background. Said McClellan, “People use aliases all the time in life.” The real fraud here is by Bush & Company, which knowingly used a party stooge to try to manipulate our news, and now is lying about it. 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.