Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Real Second Term

GW will paint his second term plans in glorious platitudes tonight. His administration has been particularly fond of giving reassuring names to brutal programs that do the opposite of what they are called, and of making bold announcements but either not following through or acting in the exact opposite way. Our gutless press makes this a lot easier. GW's only talent has always been marketing, and the p.r. presidency fits in so well with the media that is nothing but advertising.

But reality cannot be forestalled forever. The piper must be paid. One concrete indication of Bush's second term plans came last month in a Office of Management and Budget memo, instructing every government agency with domestic programs to cut their 2006 budgets, especially---as the Washington Post reported-" popular programs that Bush has been touting on the campaign trail."

Here are some of the currently underfunded but well established and effective programs that will be cut further immediately in the second term: Head Start, WIC (the primary nutrition program for women, infants and children, administered by states), job training, home ownership aid, and a number of cuts in education. These programs of course benefit the poor, which more recent statistics show, have grown in number and are deeper in poverty during the Bush years; and they benefit the middle class, which nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office studies recently say have gotten the least benefit from the Bush tax cuts and are bearing most of their cost.

Expect the Bushies to push for even greater and more permanent tax cuts for the wealthy, to be paid for by the middle class, the poor, and everyone's grandchildren. Expect the remedy for Social Security and Medicare to be as costly, complicated, ineffective and ultimately profitable for favored private companies, as was the experiment with prescription drugs.

The Bush remedy for soaring gasoline prices is to make his oil buddies more money by ruining the Alaskan wilderness for centuries but yielding little oil. Every other industrial nation and even some huge auto and oil companies recognize the need for clean renewable energy, but the U.S. remains fixed in the past, as the future dies. The same on global heating and the climate crisis. The same on our fatally broken health care system---even the head of CA Blue Cross calls for a system of universal health insurance. P.R. and fundamentalist slogans won't make any of these daily tragedies and future catastrophes go away.

The trend is clear: more people falling out of the middle class, into poverty, where the so-called safety net is another advertising illusion. When are Americans who watch too much TV going to understand that because they want to identify with the rich and famous, this doesn't make them rich and famous? And those people who seem so friendly and down to earth, are always going to be friendly and down to earth with their wealthy friends, and their wealth comes largely from exploiting the gullibility of those who couldn't get them on the phone in a million years?

In foreign policy, some who troll those waters in Washington believe that the neocons that brought us a tragic war in Iraq are not really chastened but merely lying low until after the election. With Bush freed from facing the voters again, their ideological rigidity, their almost religious fervor and belief in their simplistic ideas, will once again drive American foreign policy and suppress internal freedom and dissent, as in the early days of Iraq and the Patriot Act. And why not? If they get away with the invasion of Iraq, based on willfully phony info, demonstrating stubborn ineptitude and arrogance, causing death, destruction and untold suffering---if they can do this and the electorate doesn't repudiate them but returns them to office--why not diss the rest of the world again, stretch our society past the breaking point to support their toy soldier video game wars?

These observers believe that in the second term, neocon Condy Rice will run the State Department, neocon Rumsfeld will move over to the White House as the national security advisor, and somebody like neocon Paul Wolfowitz will run Defense.

So get ready for war in Iran and/or North Korea. Get ready for Patriot II, and the power of the Bushies and the bureaucrats to spy on email and phone calls, examine every kind of personal record, with no recourse or remedies. What happens today if you find yourself on a no-fly list by mistake? It's not just a bureaucratic nightmare, because nobody knows which bureaucracy is responsible. It's something out of Kafka, it's happening to people right now, and in the second term, it will happen to many more. You don't have to do anything except have a name or physical description somewhat similar to somebody that someone told someone else might be suspicious. It can't happen to you? It can't happen here?

There will likely be no Supreme Court willing to protect individual rights against corporations and government, as Bush fills slots bound to open up in the next four years with rigid rightwing justices. It will be the Scalia and Clarence Thomas court.

You can forget about already weakened health and safety regulations, and especially consumer protections. Corporations will rule, and they will be allowed to lie, to cheat and steal, with impunity. As long as they put on a happy face. Like a lot that government does, it doesn't seem to matter until you need it, and it's not there.

A government that doesn't help the common good, help individuals in need or protect either individuals or the common good, isn't likely to be devoting resources to a common future, or to looking for what may help individuals and the common good in the future. So among those aforementioned cuts are slices in medical and scientific research. Not even mentioning the travesty of stem cell research, or other blatant bans and promotions that seek to establish the most extreme version of so-called fundamentalist Christianity as the ruling state religion.

At the moment, a tight race for the presidency seems to be getting even tighter, as John Kerry seems to be losing ground to a relentless and shamelessly lying p.r. campaign funneling through the GOPer convention, from the cheap fa├žade of Arnold to the fulminating hatred of Zell Miller and the slick mendacity of the dangerously deluded Dick Cheney and GW Bush. This is no time for overconfidence. This is no time for nitpicking. Are you really going to turn up your nose at voting for Kerry because you don't like his looks? If you care about your children and your parents, if you care about nature and the planet's future, if you stand for justice, equality and civil liberties, you must do all you can to deny George Bush this second term.