Who cares what you think?
"Who cares what you think?" -George W. Bush, July 4, 2001, in response to a citizen who told him he was doing a poor job.
Several years ago, I really believed that a president was little more than a puppet.
Sure, he was the talking head of the government, but he couldn't really cause a dramatic upheaval or spectacularly change the direction of how the United States is run. I was wrong. America would be a far better place if George W. Bush was never elected and it's our duty to make sure he doesn't get re-elected. Although he speaks like he still uses a dribble cup and is fit for a bib, don't mistake his bumbling demeanor for someone who doesn't know what's going on. Yes, he's an idiot, but he's also a prophetic, savvy, vicious idiot. It's eerie.
"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls." -Gov. George W. Bush
We -everyone over eighteen who is an American citizen -are given a very basic tool to work with when choosing who we're willing to put up with to lead us. It's called voting. It's not the end-all, be-all to political activism. It isn't a magic wand, but it is a legal and lawful place to start.
Think of you voting as a BB. By itself, it's close to nothing. It won't even break the skin, even when properly shot. But think of millions of BBs all put together into a single, gigantic one. Then you've got something like a wrecking ball that - if you start swinging it around -people in their buildings of power begin to feel a little less secure. Voting. It's not perfect but works well in large blocks. For all you mathematicians out there, corporations already know how the back door to democracy works. They know, full well, the difference between the power of a single dollar and a million put together in a bundle. Same goes with voting.
Let me make it as simple as possible
. Politics has always been about power -the power to regulate, to enforce, to make policy, to govern. We also live in a capitalistic society. The more money one donor has, the more politicians listen. They have to; otherwise they'd be out of a job. Modern, national-level American politics couldn't exist without big business's support. True, both major political parties are guilty, but George W. Bush has not only taken corporate funding to before unheard of heights but, as President, he's busy making staggering amounts of corporate abuse perfectly legal. In a little bit, I'm going to be using a lot of numbers. If you don't remember the exact numbers, that's okay. Just remember anything with billions or trillions involved is scientifically known as "a fuckload of money, more than most entire countries on this planet will ever generate."
Sure, the current two party system leaves a lot to be desired
, as does the electoral college. Both of these elements need to be drastically changed, but the threat to America, namely the Republican party led by George W. Bush, is clear and in the present. Bush has put all his faith in bombing the shit out of other countries all the way "to democracy," while simultaneously slashing away America's social safety net at a pace this country has never seen. What's the use of "introducing freedom" in other countries when ours is essentially being gutted? Bush works fast. Since being in the oval office, he's cut $286 million from the Environmental Protection Agency's budget and erased $61 million in child care for poor, working families while granting over ninety times that amount to a single defense contractor, Boeing. For this one company alone, $31 billion is being spent on wars and conflicts that are choices, not necessity. With our tax dollars. In your name. In my name.
If you look at his record, Bush is a horrible businessman
with a long list of failed ventures. He's very adept at losing other people's money. Under his direction, U.S. retirement plans for public employees, corporate pensions, and endowments lost $1 trillion in the last three years after being pounded into the ground by poor stock returns. This three-year loss is equal to what the entire country of China made last year (its Gross Domestic Product) and has been called "probably the most destructive in the whole history of the U.S. fund business." It hasn't received a lot of attention, because, you know, it's math and math is boring and hard.
To look at this in a bit of a different way, think of major labels and their mostly shitty bands
. All you have to do is watch a bit of television, drive by a bus stop, walk into a grocery store and glance at the rack when you're waiting for your food to be scanned to see what band's being pushed. To most of the population, they see no real alternative, no small labels, or no fanzines because they're not right in front of their snout as they're shopping for potted meat and wine coolers. But you know better. You know where to look, know where to listen. Politics works on the same premise; if enough money is channeled into a product (be it George Bush or The Eagles, two of the world's worst enemies for different reasons, in my opinion), people will start to believe they have only one choice.
Fantastic amounts of money by itself is nice. What's even nicer, though, is having huge corporations and the government feed consistently off of one another. Politics has become even creepier lately than ever before, especially when it begins to be handled much like the entertainment business. This slide began back in 1987, when the Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to cover controversial issues in their community and to do so by offering balancing viewpoints. Basically, the FCC said, "May the politician with the most money buy their time slots, like any good advertiser." I don't know about you, but I know quite a few poor people who have great ideas. Mouths, meet gags.
In 1995, Clear Channel Worldwide Inc.
was tiny and owned less than fifty radio stations, but when Congress removed many of the ownership limits in 1996, Clear Channel started its meteoric rise to nation's largest owner of radio stations. It currently owns 1,233 radio stations and claims 100 million listeners. (Let's get some perspective. If an album sells a million copies, it goes platinum. One NOFX album, Punk in Drublic, took the better part of a decade to go gold, selling over 500,000 copies. Clear Channel's reach is two hundred times more than that, on a daily basis.)
Here's where the President comes in
. The vice-chair of Clear Channel, Thomas Hicks, has donated over $500,000 to BushÕs campaigns in the past. Michael Powell, the chairman of the FCC, is Secretary of State Colin Powell's son. During the most recent war with Iraq, Clear Channel advertised, organized, and sponsored numerous patriotic rallies attended by over 20,000 people each. The end result: "patriotism" Ð in a very narrow, conservative definition -is a marketing tool. Governmental policy and advertisements for vacuum cleaners are becoming more indistinguishable. Opinions, when unopposed and repeated thousands of times a day, sound like unilateral truths. That's scary.
"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it." -Gov. George Bush, Jr.
How is Bush so talented at laying waste to social policies while rewarding big business? Lots of practice. What's impressive is how accelerated his abuse of small business and individual people are, in favor of powerful companies. When Bush was the governor of Texas, he was given a $125,000 contribution by the owner of Pilgrim's Pride Chicken, who had been fined heavily for pollution violations for a decade. After Bush was elected, Pilgrim's Pride was granted a permit to inject three million gallons of liquefied chicken waste into underground wells per day.
The two worst offenders and clearest examples of when corporations convert economic into political power are Enron and Halliburton. In 1999, Houston-based Enron was massive. Headed by Kenneth Lay, it made $40 billion that year, was the eighteenth largest company in the United States, and AmericaÕs largest natural pipeline company. Enron and its executives were the single largest contributors to Bush, giving him over $550,000. The Enron Methanol plant in Pasadena, Texas won special concessions from then Governor Bush, allowing the company to pollute without a permit, as well as giving it immunity from prosecution for violating some environmental standards. Cumulatively, plants like Enron's in Texas spewed as much smog as the nine million cars in Texas put together. Enron then suffered the largest bankruptcy in American history, lied about its profits, and shredded most of the documents that could incriminate it's top board members. When Bush was asked about his relationship with Lay Ð who had given Bush the company jet to use for his presidential campaign Ð he replied, "Ken who?" This is called the shuck and jive. Bush takes gross risks in the name of Americans while never admitting those who he's closest associated with are committing crimes.
Halliburton is even stickier, as it's still in operation
. Vice President Dick Cheney was chairman and chief executive of the oil field and construction company from 1995 to mid-2000. Dick Cheney served in George Bush the First's administration as Secretary of Defense. In 1998, Halliburton was instrumental in rebuilding Iraq's petroleum industry, the exact same that Cheney helped decimate during Desert Storm. Five years later, right now in 2003, Halliburton is currently putting out fires in Iraqi oil wells, on a contract that didn't go out for bid. Let me underscore that: Dick Cheney still makes about a million dollars a year from Halliburton while holding the office of U.S. Vice President (which is illegal). The two U.S. wars waged in Iraq in the last decade directly enrich both him and Halliburton. More so, under the recently passed 2004 military budget, Halliburton has been cleared for unlimited contracts, which are blank checks worth billions of dollars.
Rewarding the rich remains crucial to Bush's Republican policy
. At what cost? As of 2003, fewer than half of the private sector employees in the United States have any kind of pension or savings plan on the job. It's as the Replacements said, "The rich are gettin' richer/ And the poor are gettin' drunk."
"No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we all are his accomplices." -Edward R. Murrow
It sounds bleak and it sounds like each citizen who isn't a millionaire or near the top of a huge corporation is going to get reamed. Yes, it is a steep slope. Yet, there are a couple of saving graces.
Luckily for us, some very smart guys formed the United States of America
, a country that came into existence solely due to revolt and revolution. Let's look at the source, The Declaration of Independence, a document that even the Republicans won't mess with. It states in its second paragraph that government is instituted by people "...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government."
It's right there. Government is supposed to be responsible to the American public. It says nothing of corporations. It says nothing about gross expenditures or crafty accounting. One person, one vote.
It's no wonder there's such a tremendous amount of voter apathy. It's in big business and the Republican party's best interest for you to lose interest in the one weapon that could potentially help stop what they're currently doing. What's that weapon? A big, stinkin' wrecking ball of votes that if they ignore, they'll be knocked out of office. What's missing in George Bush's equation? People. Regular fucking people. Waitresses, mechanics, secretaries, and people who work in fast food. People without a lot of cash. Young people. He's underestimated people who work for wages and salaries, not stocks. He undervalues people who rely on Social Security. He marginalizes the effect of his new IRS tax plans that propose to eliminate taxation on all income except wages will have on people.
What's worse than George Bush being an idiot? Allowing to be ruled by him. Vote
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