Sept 30, 2005
Volume 33
Issue 39

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Bush Administration: Too many targets
Bush Administration: Too many targets
by Janice Van Cleve - Special to the SGN

It's confusing to be a progressive activist these days. During the Nixon administration it was only one lie, one crime, and one cover-up. There was only one gang of plumbers, none of them too bright, and once we bagged one of them, they started ratting on the others and the whole shameful house of cards came tumbling down. Today it's different. Today there are so many lies and so many crimes under the Bush regime that it's difficult to know where to begin.

Let's start with Michael Brown. He padded his resume, built a personal fortune suing horse breeders, and was appointed to head FEMA in 2003. Brown demonstrated how totally unqualified he was for such a responsible job when hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans. Dick Cheney and Karl Rove decided that Brown was too much of a liability for Bush and forced him to resign. Now he has the effrontery to whine before a Congressional committee and blame the victims for their own plight!

This brings us to Joe Allbaugh. Allbaugh was the previous FEMA director and before that, he was Bush's campaign manager. Allbaugh promoted Brown to succeed him then conveniently found employment as a lobbyist for Halliburton. Brown added language to the Katrina Relief Bill that waived government oversight on rebuilding contracts. Isn't that cozy? Allbaugh, of course, is a central figure in "Funeralgate", the scandal over human grave desecration in Texas, Georgia, and Florida that casts its shadow over Bush, who received contributions from the corrupt funeral home and who, as governor, quashed an investigation of them. (see

Tom DeLay is always fun. As House Republican majority leader, DeLay has earned a reputation as a vicious, vindictive control freak who smacks his Republican cattle in line with money and threats. It was DeLay who ordered and orchestrated the brutal redistricting of Texas, forcing Democrats in the state legislature twice to flee the state to thwart a quorum. Talk about federal trampling on state's rights! He is now under investigation for bribery and campaign finance violations. (see

There's corruption in the Republican Senate, too. Bill Frist, Senate Republican Majority Leader, is under investigation for insider trading. He sold his huge stock holdings in HRC, a hospital company in Tennessee headed by his brother, just five days before the stock tanked. He claims that it was held in a "blind trust" but he admitted he ordered the sale. Not very blind, is it? Curiously, he was urged to sell his stock when he took over majority leader from the racist Trent Lott, back in 2002, but refused. If Martha Stewart had to go to jail, certainly Bill Frist should. (see

Both Frist and DeLay are linked to Michael Scanlon and Jack Abramoff. Scanlon was DeLay's aide and ran a scam that defrauded Indian tribal councils. Abramoff was a lobbyist who funneled the Indian money to Republicans. He lobbied for the garment industry in the Marianna Islands where natives work in near-slavery to supply the clothing industry in the USA. DeLay, being the good friend he was to his buddy Abramoff, won exemption from federal immigration and labor laws for the industry. Scanlon is under investigation and Abramoff has been indicted. (see

Another Abramoff crony is David Safavian, chief of staff for the federal procurement office for the entire government. He joined Abramoff and Ralph Reed on one of his many dealings with influence peddlers in the Beltway. Safavian was arrested by the FBI this week. (see

It would be bad enough if it were just about money. However, there's high treason involved as well. Take John Bolton, Bush's abusive narrow minded ambassador to the UN. Even Republican senators couldn't stomach him, and his own former boss, Colin Powell would not speak for him. Yet Bush appointed him anyway while the senate was on vacation. When Bolton was at the State Department, he bullied his subordinates to support the neocon party line and refused to listen to intelligence reports about Al-Qaeda until the terrorists flew their planes into the World Trade Center. Bolton's negligence cost 3000 American lives and helped send a wounded nation into an unjustified war.

Donald Rumsfeld is also guilty of treason. His only military experience was as a flight instructor, yet he overrode the Joint Chiefs of Staff to gut the army into a "lightweight mobile reaction force." Then he plunged them into a major war in Iraq without enough troops. Mothers had to hold bake sales to buy Kevlar vests for their sons while soldiers had to salvage scrap metal to bolt onto the sides of their humvees. He lied about weapons of mass destruction just so he could play general in somebody else's sandbox. Almost 2000 American soldiers are dead and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians are dead because of Donny's delusions of grandeur.

It was weapons of mass destruction that was the nexus of the evil Karl Rove's treason, too. He, along with Dick Cheney, Condolezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Lewis Libby, and others in the WHIG - White House Iraqi Group - played with several spins before they decided that frightening Americans with a nuclear threat would be the way to sell an Iraqi war. He was merciless in getting revenge against those who did not toe the WHIG line. One who didn't is Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who exposed the "Niger uranium to Saddam" as a hoax. So Rove leaked that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was an undercover CIA agent. This is not only a direct violation of the law, in wartime it is treason. By blowing her cover, Rove exposed her contacts to certain death and crippled US intelligence operations in time of war. So far Republicans have been reluctant to pursue a trial.

Another promoter of the illegal Iraq war is Vice President Dick Cheney, who conveniently enough, was also CEO of Halliburton up until 2000. Halliburton continues to win no-bid contracts from the military and FEMA in Iraq, New Orleans, and Florida, to name only a few. Besides his other loathsome deeds, Cheney crafted Bush's national energy policy in secret with industry representatives. He repeatedly refused to disclose who was at the meeting, but Ken Lay of Enron was one of the players. The energy policy allows the consolidation in the oil industry that is now reaping enormous windfall profits from Americans at the pump. A federal appeals court threw out the lawsuit that would have forced Cheney to release documents from the meeting. (see

Last and not least, of course, is the white privileged frat boy who currently occupies the Oval Office. Like a deer in headlights he sat numbly in a Florida classroom while thousands died in the twin towers. Like a deer in headlights he played golf while New Orleans flooded. He showed up in photo ops playing at being a commander in chief when all the while he was just in the way. He never has been a success at any business, academic achievement, or military service. Now that one by one his mentors and handlers are coming under indictment and wallowing in scandal, the presidential puppet is losing his strings.

So where in all this mess does a progressive activist begin? Our usual strategy is to operate from weakness. We usually seek to build coalitions and agree on a common target before we act. We expend far more rhetoric and energy trying to force other progressives to buy into our agendas than we do into the agendas themselves. But with so many targets, how can we agree on a common one? It's almost as if Karl Rove designed it this way - to play upon our weakness.

What happened to our individual American spirit? What happened to our personal integrity? Why can't we progressives take a stand, alone if we must, and fight back? Rosa Parks did not wait for a consensus of the rest of the bus before refusing to give up her seat. Archbishop Hunthausen did not await approval before refusing to pay federal income taxes for Reagan's arms race. Cindy Sheehan did not wait for a coalition before she confronted Bush in Crawford.

Each of us has the power to speak out, to commit civil disobedience, to take risks for the sake of justice. We do not have to agree with the progressive next to us. We do not have to create yet another organization. All we have to do is pick a target, find our inner courage, and go after it. Remember Tiananmen Square where one lone Chinese man stopped a column of tanks. Is he dead? Who knows? But the courage of his action is burned into the memories of a generation and no doubt is still influencing Chinese policy.

Janice Van Cleve is a political activist in Seattle. She is urging Elliott Spitzer, NY Attorney General with jurisdiction over Wall Street, to indict Bill Frist for insider trading.

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