Column No. 122 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - SEPTEMBER 21, 2006
Dr. Jonas’ article below was first published in TPJ on October 14, 2004, in the days immediately prior to the 2004 General Election. Dr. Jonas accurately projected the consequences of a 2nd Bush administration – the continued centralization of power in an imperial President – President Bush.
TPJ is republishing Dr. Jonas’ article as a reminder to all Americans, but especially Democrats, of the consequences if Democrats do not capture majority control of the US House or US Senate in November. Dr. Jonas’ article is a clarion call for Democrats to put their shoulders to the task at hand – every day. – Junkie
A lot is made of George Bush’s “misstatements,” internally contradictory pronouncements, distortions, and outright lies. Based on what he says, it is very difficult sometimes to tell just what George Bush stands for. For when he talks about the famous “compassionate conservatism,” “spreading freedom and democracy,” “securing the homeland,” “creating a fair tax system,” “fighting a war on terrorism,” “protecting traditional values,” one is often reduced to the “huh?” response: what exactly does he mean, how does he intend to get there, and where are the resources?
When one looks at what he actually does, however, then Bush policies and their meanings become much clearer. As my good friend, personal editor, and The Political Junkies contributor Tony Pell says about the Bushes (and he coined the following phrase in reference to George I; it applies with a vengeance to George II): “Read their lips; but watch their hips.”
And so this column is not about Bush lies. The Georgites always say, “no they’re not,” regardless of the facts on the ground. The spin around the Duelfer Report on Iraqi WMD, as “reposted” as “news” by Fox “News” Channel for example, made it sound like the contents of the Report supported the reasons the Georgites gave for going to war. They just hope to get into an endless and distracting “are, are not, are, are not” argument.
This column is not about Bush mis-use of the language, which the Georgites always pass off as “well, that’s just the country boy in him” (the Andover, Yale, Harvard country boy!). It is not about any of the outrageous Bush statements like the “war on terror is unwinnable,” which he and/or the Georgites always manage to “correct” by the next day or so and then deny that he ever made, or at least ever meant, the original.
This column is about policies and programs that George Bush has either implemented or clearly proposed for implementation. Some are prominent; some are obscure. All of them present a very clear picture of what George Bush wants our great nation to be, to become. If you possibly have any undecided voter friends, you could present this list to them with the question: “Is this is what you want our country to look like?” And then follow up with, “If you do, make sure to vote for Bush.”
George Bush will propose to the next Congress, if he is re-elected, “the further reduction, if not the elimination, of taxes on savings and investments, including taxes on dividends and on capital gains on stocks, bonds, and real estate” (New York Times, Taxes for an Ownership Society, Editorial page, Sept. 15, 2004). If Bush is re-elected, he will have clear majorities in both Houses of Congress, and legislation to implement this proposal will pass, meaning that all that will remain of the income tax will be a wage tax.
The Patriot Act, that piece of civil liberties-busting legislation that the Georgites must have written before 9/11 because its 340-plus densely written pages were introduced to the Congress within about two weeks of the tragedy, will be made permanent. Presently, it is due to expire in 2005. George Bush wants it in place forever. (In a future column, I am going to deal with the question no one seems to ask: why?) Yes, George Bush does permanently want the power, on his own authority, to bypass the Constitutional guarantees for protection against non-judicially-warranted search and seizure (the Fourth Amendment), the right to due process of law (the Fifth Amendment), and the right to a speedy trial by jury in criminal cases (the Sixth Amendment, for any person, US citizen or not, whom he deems to be a “terrorist threat” of one sort or another.
In the United States, marriage is both a religious and civil procedure. It is defined in and regulated by the law in each of the 50 states, as well as by the numerous codes of the numerous religious entities that exist in our country. George Bush supports the passage of the “prohibition of gay marriage” amendment, which would deny the benefits and obligations of civil marriage to same-sex couples. That would vitiate the provision of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution that prevents any state from denying “to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It would restore the status quo ante bellum (the Civil War, that is) that one or more classes of persons, defined by who they are, not anything they have done, can be placed outside of one or more provisions of the law, this time at the Federal as well as at the state level. If the homosexual community is hit first (as it was in Nazi Germany), which one would be next? (Just guess.)
As detailed in the September 18, 2004 Report from the office of Congressman Henry Waxman of California, the Bush Administration would continue its process of creating the most highly secretive Administration in United States history. For example, Bush has already issued an Executive Order severely restricting access to the papers of former Presidents, denied access to any records of the famous Cheney task force on energy, adopted a policy to refuse initially any requests for Executive Branch information under the Freedom of Information Act, and doubled the number of government documents put under the seal of “classification,” including ones issuing from such Departments as Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
The Bush Administration is in the process of giving border patrol agents “sweeping new powers to deport illegal aliens from the frontiers with Mexico and Canada without providing them the opportunity to make their case before an immigration judge” (R.L. Swarns, US to Give Border Patrol Agents, New York Times, August 11, 2004). Who will be the next group of persons for whom a police agency will be able make a determination of law violation and go right on to determine and then impose punishment? This, by the way, is the exact same power that the Nazi German Schutz Staffel (known colloquially as the “SS”) had. Who, here, might be the first victims? Protestors against such policies, perhaps?
If Bush has his way in a Second Administration, his choice for CIA Director, politico Porter Goss, would have the power to engage in domestic intelligence gathering and surveillance, whether or not any criminal activity is suspected. Presently, the FBI does need some semblance of suspicion of criminal activity in order to do the same thing.
It is already clear that Bush follows the dictum of Hermann Goering, pronounced by him shortly before his death at this own hand at Nuremberg: to enhance the power of government over the individual. Goering said: “whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship . . . all you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
George Bush appoints people like Prof. Diana Schaub to the Federal Bioethics Commission. Speaking on stem cell research, she said: “Every embryo for research is someone’s blood relative. . . . I would not be prepared to restore the intellectual functioning of a 93-year-old man by sacrificing embryonic life” (Stem Cells and Slavery, Science, June 18, 2004, p. 1742). Talk about the imposition on all of us of one particular personal belief on the matter of when life begins! The Georgite approach is to apply the “life-begins-at-the-moment-of-conception” doctrine to both the beliefs and actions of every member of our society, regardless of whether or not they agree with it.
“The U.S. adolescent pregnancy rate is the highest in the industrialized world -- 10 times more than in the Netherlands or Switzerland. Of the 900,000 U.S. teenagers who become pregnant every year, 8 in 10 say their pregnancy was un-intended” (Playing Politics with Women’s Lives, Science, July 2, 2004, p. 17). The Bush policy for dealing with this situation is a combination of abstinence preaching, sorry “teaching,” and the criminalization of abortion.
On a wide variety of environmental, health, labor, and personal safety matters, the Bush Administration has re-written existing regulations to suit the wishes of industry, often with former industry employees and/or lobbyists writing the self-same regulations (J. Brinkley, “Out of the Spotlight, Bush Overhauls U.S. Regulations,” New York Times, August 14, 2004). The article’s headline says it all about the public relations approach of the Administration on this policy.
This ends this litany of what Georgitism really means. Among Bush’s many failings, however, is not a “failure of leadership,” as Bob Herbert described the Administration’s conduct in relation to Iraq policy in his New York Times Op-Ed column of August 6, 2004. While I agree with much of what Bob Herbert has said over time, I totally disagree with this position. It is not a failure of leadership, on Iraq or on any of the issues presented briefly above.
The Bush Administration’s ideology is clear: it is an approach to government and governing that puts as much power as possible, with as little legislative, judicial, or public accountability as possible, in the hands of the Executive Branch. It takes the country back to the Coolidgean view that “the business of government is business.” Moreover, since George Bush is capable of distracting huge numbers of people who are in fact negatively affected by his governmental philosophy and actions, and actually get them to support him, from the Georgite perspective he is the perfect leader for their movement. After all, look at just how much the twin forces of the Radical Reactionary Right (mis-named the “neoconservatives”) and the Republican Religious Right have achieved in such a short time under George Bush’s leadership, and at how much more of their agendas they will be able to achieve, should their chosen leader be re-selected. For the implementation of his chosen policies and for his voters, George Bush is a fine, almost a perfect, leader.