Column No. 78 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - September 29, 2005
My late step-mother, Jeanne Erlanger Jonas, liked to quote an old Jewish saying: “When something that appears to be bad happens, how do you know for sure that it is a misfortune?” Let me tell you something, Karl Rove and his puppet sure like that one. Think about it. 2001: Bush’s polls are sagging; he doesn’t seem to have a program other than tax cuts for the rich and deregulation for the corporations and the environmental plunderers. He cannot talk about certain major elements of what he really wants to do in office – e.g., invade Iraq; amend the Constitution on his own authority -- because to do so with no context would be intensely unpopular. And so along comes 9/11.
Were the Georgites part of it, or did they simply know it was coming, or did they know something was coming but didn’t know what, or did they really know nothing? Who knows? Since the day after the tomorrow there have been all kinds of suspicions, accusations, all around the Internet, all around the world. Just on this Sept. 15 came the word, from a right-wing Republican Congressman no less, that 2.5 terabytes (apparently that’s a lot, a lot and then some) of information about the key 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta, was shredded on orders from who knows who (Donna de la Cruz, Associated Press Writer)
One thing about the Georgites: they sure have a real big capacity “shredder” somewhere, probably built on a no-bid contract by one of their manufacturing buddies. Did this --- did using some monster shredder or a monster furnace, or what-have-you --- sound suspicious? Well yes, but, after all, you know, it’s time to move on….
Nevertheless, whether they were in on 9/11 in some way, they sure knew how to use it. Gotta admire Karl Rove. They moved a “the-President-can-do-just-about-anything-he-wants-to-in-the-name-of-national-security” resolution through Congress in about 72 hours back then. Within six weeks, they rushed the 342-page Patriot Act through Congress, after giving members one hour to read it. A number of provisions of the Act had been drafted before 9/11, but the “Justice” Dept. under Ashcroft knew that the measures would go nowhere absent a big bang. And they got just what they wanted, on 9/11 (maybe not the deaths, but surely the Big Bang --- no not that Big Bang that so many if their supporters on the Religious Right deny ever occurred --- but one they could use, politically). And then there was the invasion of Iraq, the story of which everyone reading this column surely knows.
To recap, a major tragedy occurs. Over 3000 people are killed, more injured. Many businesses, large and small, are put off track, some never to come back. Many lives are disrupted, some never to resume normally. The reputation of a Mayor is saved, a mayor who otherwise would have gone down in New York City history as the one, touting himself as a “fiscal conservative” no less, who left behind the largest budget deficit by far. Bush rides 9/11 into Iraq, going after Kurdish oil, permanent bases in the western Iraqi desert, and the projection of “US Power” into the Middle East on the ground --- these being the frequently published neocon objectives for the US in the region since the mid-90s. Further, Bush and “I-change-Constitutions” Rove (see my TPJ column No. 37 of 12/2/04) used the 9/11 hysteria which they amped up to the highest degree possible to, with the total cooperation of an utterly supine and intimidated Congress, arrogate to themselves the power to simply ignore major provisions of that great document, beginning with the felling at one swoop of major protections supposedly guaranteed by the 4th (reasonable search and seizure), 5th (due process), and 6th (jury trail guarantee for criminal cases) amendments. This was soon followed by the elimination of habeas corpus and the assumption of power to end or ignore international treaties that, by provisions of the Constitution itself, were part of it. 9/11 was indeed no misfortune for the Georgites when it came to implementing totally reactionary foreign and domestic policies that they otherwise would have had a very, very hard time getting by with.
Now again, with “The Great New Orleans Bush Flood of 2005”, they are on their merry way to doing the same thing using what for many people is a great misfortune. They have another whole series of policy objectives which they otherwise would have had a very hard time putting through, at a time when Bush’s popularity keeps reaching new lows, especially in response to his response to the Flood. Numerous observers (Paul Krugman of The New York Times was one of the first) have already noted the fact that Bush is already using his Flood to implement another whole series of retrograde policies, this time domestic, many of which are becoming increasingly unpopular. These include policies that respond directly to a principal Georgite objective, in Grover Norquist’s term, to “starve the beast” that is government, in this case that hungry, aging, New Orleans dike system.
So, the Georgites want to undercut prevailing labor pay rules, do away with many environmental regulations (particularly ironic in this case because large parts of New Orleans may become permanently uninhabitable due to the “toxic gumbo” created by Republican environmental policies [John Rumpler and Alex Fidis, TomPaine.com, “Poor public policy created the chemical soup inundating New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain”], hand out no-bid contracts in the billions to their buddies, likely by sending boys to do men’s work as they did with the Coalition (sic) Provisional Authority in Iraq and, similarly, continue their incredible mismanagement here so that government will continue to look bad, further, use the spending on New Orleans as an excuse to cut other non-military, non-criminal “justice,” non-repressive government spending, also further drive up the deficit so that if the Democrats were ever to get back into office, ever, there would be no money for them to spend on fixing the nation, and so on and so forth.
One major question: are the Democrats, finally, finally, finally getting mobilized? Perhaps, yes. Even John Kerry and Bill “watch-me-if-you-want-to-learn-how-to-set-policy-by-poll-numbers” Clinton are making strong anti-Bush speeches (too bad they never did it even once during the last Presidential Campaign), and Senator Kennedy, long a strong, public Bush opponent, can now speak out without fear of being belittled by the Senate Democratic leadership. What should these and other newly mobilized potential leaders be talking about? Everything that is wrong with Georgite policy and the Georgites from incompetence to corruption to their true aims for democracy, here at home, not as fantasized for there in Iraq.
Most important in my view, an awakening Democratic leadership should be talking about just what the proper functions of government are. Over such issues should political battles now be fought. A very, very clear line should be drawn between the Georgite ideological tenets of every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost; the rich take everything they can get their hands on; the oil companies rule; every problem can be solved with violence; facts don’t matter -- only what they think does, and science be damned; a theocratic fascist dictatorship would be the best way to run the country, replacing the system under which our country has been governed, for better and for worse, but more better than worse, for 200 years: Constitutional Democracy and the Rule of Law, not men.
The ideology of US Constitutional Democracy, from which we do stray from time-to-time, is clearly stated in the Preamble to the Constitution: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” This is what the Constitution itself tells us it is there for. This is what the Georgites are totally opposed to.
This is what the Democrats should be taking into battle against the anti-constitutionalists. Time will tell, of course, if they do.