Thursday, September 08, 2005

War on the Poor

Kanye West upset the administration's applecart with his assertion that Bush hates black people and therefore the catastrophic conditions in NOLA were allowed to go unnoticed and unaided by the federal government for so long. Meanwhile, fingerpointing and blame-placing have become the most talked-about topic in the aftermath of Katrina. The Bushies deny the former, while trying to deflect and misdirect the latter.

First, let me state for the record, I do not believe Bush hates black people. I don't think Bush particularly cares about race or ethnicity at all. In his life the only people of color or cultural difference have been just like him, wealthy, educated, powerful, and he is just fine with his people, no matter what they look like. See examples like Condi, Al G. and cousin Bandar Bush. Colin Powell would be on that list, but he committed the ultimate offense in Bushworld, he disagreed (and was proven right). He is no longer one of them, although it really has nothing to do with race.

The people Bush and his constituency hate are poor people. People who were not born wealthy like most of those in government. People who did not have the gumption to pull themselves out of the lower middle class like AG Al Gonzales. People who did not have the Rev Billy Graham pull them out of an alcohol and drug-fueled haze and put them on the path toward self-righteousness. People who depend on the government for their lives and their livelihood.

How do I know this? Because he proves it everyday, in everything he has done as our compassionate conservative president. Lets take a look - tax cuts for the wealthy; no federal healthcare program; disdain for social security; underfunding of education, social programs and disaster preparedness; an unnecessary war overseas staffed by low-paid enlisted, reserve and national guard troops; the assumption that everyone who wanted to get out of harm's way in NOLA could, sparking the slow response to calls for help.

Bush believes that a lean and mean federal government can take care of all the important problems facing our nation while simultaneously fighting terrorism and an unnecessary war, because he hates and refuses to look seriously at the problems, especially those facing the poor. He does not want the dead soldiers from Iraq or the dead from Katrina to be shown by the media because he and people like him don't want to see how their decisions effect the lives of others. His mantra is to say everyone is doing a great job, reward all those around him for their contributions, ignore all evidence to the contrary (and keep it out of the press) and the administration is always right. In Bushworld, they can do it all, for the people who matter.

Which brings me to Juan Cole. He posted an open letter to Donald Rumsfeld, which I have reprinted below.

"US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld maintains that the US government can both take care of New Orleans and pursue the 'global war on terror.' Uh, Donald, let's look at this situation. First, much of New Orleans is under water. You stole money that should have been spent on its levees for the Iraq War, and you stole state national guards from Louisiana to fight in Iraq. (The state national guards hadn't signed up to fight foreign wars and were surprised when you kidnapped them, sometimes for a whole year at a time.) So you haven't actually done a good job with the effects of Katrina in New Orleans. In fact, the job has been so bad that some wags are saying they can't believe you personally were not in charge of the recovery effort.Then let's consider the war against al-Qaeda. You may have noticed that Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a videotape late last week. It was bundled with the farewell suicide tape of Muhammad Siddique Khan, the mastermind of the 7/7 bombers in London. It now appears that your inability to capture al-Zawahiri has allowed him to intrigue with Pakistani jihadi groups to recruit British subjects to bomb their own country. Bin Laden and Zawahiri are at large and free men, which is your failure.Then there is the war in Iraq. I don't need to tell you that that isn't going very well. In fact, what in hell are you doing in the godforsaken Turkmen city of Tal Afar? Is it really a big threat to the United States? Is it likely to be friendly to us if you drop 500 pound bombs on its residential districts?You left out the fourth war Bush is fighting, on the US poor. The average wage of the average American work fell last quarter, amidst rising corporate profits. Bush cut billions in taxes on the rich, and then gave $300 checks to some poor people, who didn't seem to realize that by taking it they were giving up all sorts of government services and maybe even their social security payments.So, Donald, maybe it is true that you can save New Orleans, occupy Iraq and fight a global war on terror all at the same time. But you, at least, cannot actually do these things successfully. Which is why you should have resigned a long time ago."

Juan Cole directed his anger at Rumsfeld, but as the ever eloquent Scott McClellan put it in his recent press report, the buck stops with the president. He is the one who charged in his 2001 inaugural address, "The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born." If every person who came out of the scourge that was Katrina, every family of a soldier who died in Iraq, every citizen who has felt disenfranchised by an administration who vilifies those who disagrees with them, does not feel insignificant in the America Bush has created, don't worry. He still has three more years.

In Bushamerica, 99% of us are all poor, some just haven't noticed it yet.