View from Lodi, CA: Bush Plutocracy vs. American People


Although I have never been a
supporter of President George W. Bush, I take no
pleasure in writing the harsh assessment that you are
about to read.

Bush is the President of the United
States. Therefore Bush deserves our utmost respect. And
in the days immediately following Bush`s

controversial
election, the nation rallied around
our new president. After the

9/11 tragedy,
we looked to Bush for guidance and
comfort.

But in recent weeks, Bush has made
it impossible to sustain any good feeling we might once
have held for him. He is incapable of straight talk.
Americans—desperate for leadership—shake their heads as
Bush piles one vague poll-driven comment onto another.

The Bush administration has danced
to its own tune since it took office. Starting in August
2001, when Vice President Dick Cheney refused to turn
over to the General Accounting Office

documents
concerning Bush`s energy policy through
last week when the administration was forced kicking and
screaming to grant additional time to the

9/11 Commission
investigating the

terrorist attacks
, the list of offenses is too long
to recount here. Suffice it to say that secrecy and
arrogance are Bush`s hallmarks.

At the core of our skepticism of
Bush is the realization that we no longer live in a
democracy. Under Bush, the United States is a
plutocracy— government by the rich and for the rich.

Using financial disclosure
documents filed with the

Office of Government Ethics
, the Wall Street
Journal
compiled this net worth list of high-ranking
Bush officials:

  • Bush ($11-$21 million)

  • Cheney ($20-$80 million)

  • Donald Evans, Secretary of Commerce
    ($12-$45 million)

  • Colin Powell, Secretary of State, ($20-$70
    million)

  • Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
    ($62-$242 million)

While having wealthy men in high
office is not new in America, rarely have we had so many
powerful politicians and plugged in business moguls so
blatantly trample what remains of our middle class.

Cheney made his fortune at
Halliburton. Try as you might, you can`t keep up with
Halliburton`s transgressions.

And Evans—our fabulously wealthy
Commerce Secretary— continues to

insist
that those outsourced jobs—gone forever—is a
great thing for America.

If you don`t believe Evans, just
read the 2004

Economic Report of the President.
Here is the
Bush mantra on jobs spelled out for you:

“When a
good or service is produced

more cheaply abroad
, it makes more sense to import
it than make or provide it domestically."

And this gem from the same report
claiming that

Chinese exports
are not: “a primary factor in the
displacement of American manufacturing workers.”

Must we lose 2.2 million jobs
during the Bush administration and have our intelligence
insulted at the same time?

Bush describes himself as a
“wartime president.”
And he hopes to ride that pony
all the way through a successful November re-election.

When I think about Bush and Iraq, I
think about this unnecessary war`s human cost. That 500
troops have died in
Bush`s folly
is a scandal.

But that is only the beginning. On
February 11, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist
Gene Collier wrote about his interview with Dave Autry
of the

Disabled American Veterans
office. In addition to
the 500 dead, wrote Collier, there are:

“At least 9,000 servicemen and women wounded, sickened
or injured? How about 6,891 troops medically evacuated
for non-combat conditions between March 19 and Oct. 30,
2003?”[Wounded
U.S. veterans get a raw deal at home
]

Another DAV
official, Tom Keller, reported that the injured return
home in the middle of the night. Worse the DAV, which
has traditionally provided comfort to the wounded, is
denied access.

Said Keller:

“I have my own feelings about why the Bush
administration is bringing the casualties back to the
States in the middle of the night and wants to keep
organizations like the DAV away from them. I believe the
administration wants to keep the American people in the
dark about the number of troops being wounded, the
severity of the injuries they are receiving and the
types of illnesses that may be surfacing."

So outraged
is DAV Executive Secretary David Gorman, a Vietnam War
veteran who lost both legs in southeast Asia, that he
wrote Rumsfeld with a copy to Bush demanding to know why
his organization`s fully trained and accredited staff
cannot visit the wounded.

To date,
neither Rumsfeld nor Bush has replied.

Certainly
many readers will reprimand me and predict that Bush, as
flawed as his administration is, will be many times
better than the Democratic nominee. I`m not persuaded by
that argument since I don`t like or trust any of the
leading Democrats. I hold John Kerry, Howard Dean et al
in equally low esteem.

But here is
what I do know: Bush has been dishonest. The federal
government doesn`t belong to him and his hand-picked
cronies. The government belongs to the American people.

And one of
the few powers we have left in what was once a great
democracy is to vote out those who haven`t listened to
us.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the


Lodi News-Sentinel
.