Voices Crying Out in the Wilderness
By Alejandro Grattan-Domingez

     To criticize the Bush Administration has come to be regarded as tantamount to treason, or at the least unpatriotic. In this dismantling of the U.S. Constitution, the leadership of the Democratic Party and the American Press have cravenly decided to quietly fold up their tents and sneak under their beds.
     Yet, in the midst of this political plague, certain courageous voices are still heard. One of the stoutest is that of Senator Robert Byrd. Addressing the Senate on May 21, this elderly, somewhat venerable figure, made the following points:
     * That the horrific events of 9/11 had been manipulated to switch focus from Bin Laden and Al-Queda who masterminded the attacks to Saddam Hussein, who did not.
     * That the Bushies continued claim that the U.S. is the “liberator of Iraq” was utterly unsupported by the facts. Iraq is today on the verge of civil war.
     * That the government has awarded ultra-lucrative contracts to reconstruct Iraq to administration cronies without the benefit of competitive bidding.
     * That though the sole reason Bush used as having gone to war was because of Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction,” none of these weapons have yet to be found. Further, the Bush allegation that Iraq posed a dire threat to American liberty was rendered ridiculous when the country caved in just a few short weeks into the war. Iraq could not get a single plane into the air, and its missiles proved to be outdated and of extremely limited range.
     * One thing the war will succeed in doing is to convince 1,000 new Bin Ladens to plan the type of horror seen in the past few weeks. Another has been to alienate many friends around the globe with our dissembling, and haughty insistence on punishing former allies who did not see things exactly our way.
     * Meanwhile, despite the staggering cost of Bush’s War, the president has pushed through yet another mammoth tax cut which largely favors the rich, even though his first such tax cut was an abysmal failure, doing nothing to improve the economy.
     Sadly, Byrd’s landmark speech received almost no notice in the press.
     Another voice calling out in the wilderness is that of the ACLU. In a recent full page ad in The New York Review of Books, the organization states that “For more than 200 years, the Bill of Rights has stood as a wall between governmental abuse and the rights of a free people. But John Ashcroft, driven by a radical ideology and shamelessly using the events of 9/11 as a subterfuge, has been dismantling that wall. Today the government can get a secret warrant to search your home . . . monitor your Internet use, read your e-mails. You can be detained without access to a lawyer, and without being charged with a crime. Today, Ashcroft has authorized the FBI to monitor your political activities and send agents into your house of worship. We can only guess what tomorrow will bring.”
     Finally, on Bush’s record with the economy, Prof. Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001, has this to say: “Seldom has so few (the rich) gotten so much from so many (the non-rich.) That might well be the motto of Bush’s tax cuts. Clinton left Bush with a potential surplus over the next ten years of some three trillion dollars . . . but in an astonishing feat of fiscal mismanagement, Bush succeeded in squandering that surplus, converting it into a two trillion dollar deficit.
     Then there is Bush’s dismal record on Social Security reform, cheaper prescription drugs for the elderly, HMO reform, education and the environment. What Bush does have is the finest military in history, and in his neatest trick yet, he has made his presidency and the U.S. armed services virtually indivisible. First the phony photo op on the aircraft carrier; now what’s next, driving a tank into downtown Baghdad? Better yet, how about commemorating MacArthur’s return to the Philippines by coming ashore in a landing craft, wearing the General’s famous gold-braided hat, and smoking his equally famous corn-cob pipe? Wow, stay tuned!