Let me begin by thanking God for Katherine Harris.
She is such a picture-perfect example of ultra-right-wing looniness, theocratic hubris, raw Republican partisanship, and big-money political corruption that she serves as a sort of burning bush, warning us never to let such people gain high office.
Harris, of course, was the Florida secretary of state who did Bush’s bidding in 2000 to pervert the election results and hand him the presidency. Rewarded with White House backing for a congressional seat, she promptly got cozy with corrupt Pentagon contractors and is now under FBI investigation for taking illegal campaign donations. She is also this year’s GOP nominee for U.S. senator from Florida. But at least, unlike some Republican officeholders, Harris does not even try to sugarcoat her extremist theocratic views and intentions. In an August interview, she made a most alarming declaration, asserting that, “God is the one who chooses our rulers.”
Say it’s not so, Katherine! God chose you? And Tom DeLay? And Dick Cheney? Good lord, what a vindictive and destructive god that would be!
Then she unleashed her inner Taliban, declaring that America’s doctrine of separation of church and state is a “lie,” that the U.S. should not be a “a nation of secular laws,” and finally, “If you’re not electing Christians, then in essence, you are going to legislate sin.”
Ah, yes—those diabolical Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Unitarians, and probably even Presbyterians are all engaged in a grand conspiracy to dictate that all people must engage in adultery, murder, thievery, and other godless scourges. Thank God no Christians like Katherine Harris do such things. Keep being our example, Katherine. You’re doing the lord’s work—and you are proof that he works in mysterious ways, indeed.
While our soldiers are victims of an ever-rising death toll in Bush’s war of lies and incompetence in Iraq, the top executives of corporations supplying the weapons and other supplies for his war are lolling around on soft cushions of unprecedented personal pay—money that comes right out of the pockets of us taxpayers. A new “Executive Excess” survey finds that the top dogs at 34 big Pentagon contractors have helped themselves to nearly a trillion dollars in pay since 9/11. Among the top CEO profiteers: United Technologies ($200 million in pay); General Dynamics ($65 million); Lockheed Martin ($50 million); and Halliburton ($49 million).
Meanwhile, Army privates in Iraq, many of whom have died because the Bushites failed to provide them with the body armor they needed, are paid $25,000 a year for being war fodder. Yet, David Brooks, the CEO of a now-disgraced body-armor maker, took $192 million in pay in 2004 alone.
George W. likes to strut around crowing that his war is a noble cause and worth the sacrifices we are making. “We?” Not the CEOs. Their loved ones are not in Bush’s war, facing death and carnage every day. The CEOs have even gotten massive tax cuts from Bush in the middle of this war, so they are not even being asked to pay for it. Contrast Bush’s plutocratic policy with FDR in World War II. Not only did his four sons serve in combat, but he declared, “I don’t want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster.” Today, the Bushites refuse even to allow a congressional investigation into the war profiteers. To download a copy of the Executive Excess report, go to www.faireconomy.org.
KARL AND JACK
Remember Jack Abramoff, the disgraced superlobbyist who confessed early this year to corrupt influence peddling in Washington. When Abramoff’s lobbying scandal broke, scores of Congress critters and White House officials rushed to distance themselves from their former buddy. One who became especially distant was Karl Rove. He declared that Abramoff was merely a “casual acquaintance” who was barely known by the Bushites. But Karl forgot that there was a paper trail between the lobbyist and the White House. Following that trail, a Republican-controlled house committee has now revealed that the “casual acquaintance” and his lobbying team enjoyed 485 direct contacts with the White House in Bush’s first three years, including 82 contacts with Rove. These were hardly routine or perfunctory. Rove received coveted tickets to the NCAA basketball tournament from Abramoff, sitting with Jack all evening in the owner’s skybox. Also, Karl had a regular table at Signatures, a posh Washington restaurant that Abramoff owned. In turn, records show that Karl and other White House officials did favors for Jack, including delivering several million dollars in federal aid to his lobbying clients. And if you want coziness, Susan Ralston, who was Abramoff’s executive secretary, went through the White House”s revolving door in 2001 to become Rove’s top executive assistant. When the committee’s report revealed that Ms. Ralston was a frequent conduit between Jack and Karl, she abruptly resigned her White House position, saying it was time to “pursue other opportunities.” The Bushites are trying to make her the Fall Gal for their own sleazy ties to Abramoff—but the one who should be taking the fall is Karl.
Former Observer editor Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900.