In repressive regimes, it’s common for the authorities to run closed governments. It’s also common to crack down on people who dare to try shining a little light on the government’s actions. Take China. On May 28, it was reported that authorities there were prosecuting a newspaper researcher for revealing in a published report that a certain Chinese official was about to resign as chief of the military. The researchers crime? Divulging “state secrets.”
Thank goodness we don’t live in such a repressive state, right? Yet, on this same day, it was also reported that the Bushites were trying to prevent two civil liberties groups from challenging the legality of Bush’s ongoing program of spying on millions of Americans. In an extraordinary move, the government asked two federal judges to block these watchdog groups from exercising their constitutional right to go to court. Why? The Bushites claimed that merely defending the legality of their sweeping spy program could divulge “state secrets.” Then, the next day, it was reported that Bush’s lapdog of an attorney general, Alberto “See No Evil” Gonzales, was warning journalists that they could be prosecuted just for reporting on big stories like Bush’s secret spy program. Gonzales menacingly declared, “There are some statutes on the books which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that [prosecution] is a possibility.” What would be the charge against reporters? Divulging “state secrets.”
So, let’s review: The Bushites secretly run an illegal and unconstitutional spy program against their own people. Then, when it’s uncovered by reporters and challenged in court, the BushCheney regime goes after the reporters and challengers, trying to hide its autocratic act behind the curtain of “state secrets.” How different are they from China’s repressive regime?
CORPORATIZING THE BORDER
What a surprise. George W. wants to turn the illegal immigration issue into another multibillion-dollar boondoggle for giant corporations. Such military contractors as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman are lined up at the federal trough, drooling at what Bush calls the Secure Border Initiative. This scheme will give government contracts to corporations to build a high-tech “virtual fence” along nation’s borders—”the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history,” bragged Bush.
That’s not a high hurdle, for our history of border security is littered with high-priced technological failures. Take the nearly-half-billion dollar program of video cameras, electronic sensors, and other cutting-edge technologies that corporate contractors provided for the Mexican border just a few years ago. Half of the cameras didn’t work or were never installed. The ground sensors did set off alarms—but in 92 percent of the cases they were triggered not by illegals, but by a wild animal or a passing train. Now, here they come again. Lockheed Martin, for example, is touting its Tethered Aerostat Radar as a border solution. This massive blimp, twice the size of Goodyear’s, would be tethered to the ground by a long cable, monitoring all movement below. One little problem, though: it can’t be used in high winds. Another piece of razzle-dazzle technology was a $6.8 million unmanned plane to patrol the border. It crashed in April after less than a year’s use. These military contractors have sorry records of cost overruns, fraud, and products that are defective or useless —we’re to turn border security over to them? Bush’s scheme is all about political posturing and fattening his corporate backers. The problem of illegal immigration requires an honest economic solution—not merely buying more hardware from high-tech hucksters.
ATTACK BY CORPORATE
FOXES While W., Congress, and the media have us all looking south to what they call the “invasion” of America by impoverished illegal immigrants, or looking east to what they call an “endless threat” to America from hordes of fanatical Islamic terrorists—there’s another, very real, but very quiet, siege taking place on our people’s government… from within. This assault is being mounted by extremely wealthy and powerful guys in pinstripe suits—a corporate assault on our public resources and institutions. They fly the flag of “privatization,” and their goal is to take over our public sector, essentially eliminating it and substituting corporate governance. In an important book titled, The Fox In the Hen House, Si Kahn and Elizabeth Minnich document the startling extent to which this has already happened. Corporate lobbyists, corporate-funded think tanks, and corporate-owned politicians have been pushing privatization (a euphemism for corporatization) for decades, with Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton willingly turning over public purposes, assets, and control to these private, anti-democratic, profit-seeking interests. As Kahn and Minnich show, the privatizers hit the mother lode with the BushCheney regime. With their extremist, anti-government ideology, the Bushites are gleefully selling out the public good by selling off whole chunks of our government. We know about their push to privatize Social Security and schools—but few are aware of the massive turnover of power to corporations in such areas as the military, parks, prisons, and social programs. For more information, check Kahn and Minnich’s website: www.thefoxinthehenhouse.com.
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.