A lightweight on a heavy day
With Dick Cheney mounting an offensive against past, present, and future U.S. retirees and Don Rumsfeld prepping for a nuclear skirmish with Iran, President George W. Bush had little to do yesterday but to be trotted out by his handlers to give an award to Colin Powell. Mission accomplished.
Speaking under a giant, projected image of Martin Luther King Jr., Bush told a crowd at Georgetown University, “Dr. King believed so fully in the ideals of America that he was offended every day that they were violated.”
And King didn’t even have a chance to look at any Abu Ghraib documents.
Lost amid the celebratory air of Bush’s appearance on the national King holiday was the fact that Washington, D.C., site of the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony, is the poorest of America’s large cities and displays the most grievous income inequality of any of them.
Bush laced ’em up anyway and bounded on stage to present Powell with the third annual John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award, named after the former Georgetown basketball coach who parlayed that job into a seat on the Nike board of directors. The first winner of the award, in 2003, was John Thompson, the former Georgetown basketball coach. Yeah, same guy.
Bush didn’t cite any of King’s remarks about a “a society gone mad on war.” But the president was simply acting as a weapon of mass distraction. While he was on stage, the real work of the presidency was being done behind the curtains—and behind enemy lines.
Seymour Hersh‘s report in The New Yorker that we’re heavily plotting a covert strike on Iran’s nuclear-weapon plants prompted a p.r. counterattack by the Pentagon. As the BBC reported this morning:
A [Pentagon] spokesman said Hersh’s
magazine article was based on rumor, innuendo, and conspiracy theories.
But correspondents say he did not clearly deny that U.S. troops have been on the ground in Iran.
Hersh insists that for six months U.S. forces there had been identifying military targets for future strikes.
Hersh, an award-winning reporter who last year revealed abusive practises at the U.S. military’s Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, quotes unnamed intelligence officials as saying Iran is the Bush administration’s “next strategic target”.
Cheney, on the other hand, has always thought of Iran as a strategic target. In fact, Halliburton, the company he formerly ran and which still pays him, still does business with Iran, despite a U.S. embargo.
Maybe that conflict of interest is why Cheney is now focusing on domestic issues. According to this morning’s New York Times, Cheney is said to be leading the massive push to revamp Social Security.
Did I imply there was a conflict of interest? I was mistaken. I forgot about the probe started a couple of months ago by California congressman George Miller of Halliburton’s decision to reduce its employees’ pensions. According to Halliburton Watch, Miller started an investigation of that matter after the Bush regime’s Department of Labor ignored the employees’ pleas for help. Here’s some background from Halliburton Watch:
Employees of Dresser-Rand saw the value of their pensions decline after Halliburton bought the company in 1998. The employees sought help from the Labor Department but the agency was unresponsive.
The Ad Hoc Coalition to Restore Retirement Security said Halliburton shafted Dresser-Rand employees by robbing them of the “full early retirement pensions they had spent their careers working for.” Each worker lost an average of $50,000. The Ad Hoc Coalition wants Congress to stop companies like Halliburton from using merger and acquisition laws “as a pretext to short-change employees of their promised pensions.”
Nine months after reducing worker pensions, Halliburton’s board of directors, with Vice President Dick Cheney as its chairman, awarded Cheney a $20 million pension.
Sounds to me as if Cheney is the perfect guy to push Social Security “reform” down our throats.
But don’t forget about Bush. He has a lot of important stuff to do before he retires to his Crawford ranch. Golly. He lectured the Georgetown crowd yesterday on the history of civil rights in America, saying at one point about the promises of liberty, freedom, and all that stuff:
It’s a story of Americans like Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who held our nation to those promises and would not rest until they were written into law.
Actually, King didn’t have a chance to “rest.” He was assassinated. Remember?
At least Bush knows that King wasn’t around very long. The president noted:
In the space of just a few years, through the power of his intellect, the truth of his words, and the example of his courage, he left this country a different and better place, and made his own journey to a different and better place.
King is memorable, but now, unfortunately, I’ll always think of Bush when I hear this phrase: “the power of his intellect, the truth of his words, and the example of his courage.”