[Mb-civic] Greg Palast: & Molly Ivins on The Republican Convention

ean at sbcglobal.net ean at sbcglobal.net
Fri Sep 3 20:16:51 PDT 2004

President Declares "Ownership Society" 
Tells Convention He's Ordered Invasion of Social Security Trust Fund

 byGreg Palast 

September 2, 2004 17:06

[New York]   Of all the bone-headed, whacky, breathtakingly threatening
schemes George W. Bush is trying to sell us in his acceptance speech
tonight is something he and his handlers call, "the Ownership Society." 
Sounds cool, "ownership." Everyone gets a piece of the action.  
Everyone's a winner as the economy zooms.  All boats rise.  

Sure.  Behind the hooray-for-free-enterprise crapola is that dog-eared
game-plan to siphon off Social Security revenues to pay for making Bush's
tax cuts for the rich permanent.   

Here's what the President has in mind.  Social Security is an insurance
plan.  You pay in, you get back.  But it's hard to get your money back
when there's a war where the Clinton surplus used to be.  It's not the war
on terror, or the war in Iraq, though Lord knows those have cost us a
bundle with nothing to show for all the lost loot.  I'm talking about the
class war that Dubya and his Dick Cheney have waged on the average working

We're talking an economic Pearl Harbor here.  While firemen and policemen
went running into falling buildings, the Bushmen were preparing to relieve
some gazillionaires, such as say, the Bush family, of the need to pay the
taxes that the rest of us pay.  Work as a teacher, you pay Social Security
and income taxes on every darn penny.   Sit on your yacht and speculate in
the stock market casino and you are off the hook on taxes on the "capital

Bill Clinton proposed putting his big surpluses into a Social Security
"lock-box" for that predictable rainy day.  But tonight, Bush instead
proposes to give the stock-options class a boost by lopping off a chunk of
Social Security insurance revenue for gambling in the stock market.  He
had this same idea in 2000.  If he'd had his way on his inauguration day,
the average "owner" in America, investing in the stock market, would be 7%
poorer, many flat busted.  Some "security."  Happy elderly "owners" would
be hunting for lunch in the garbage cans under Madison Square Garden. 

Here's the latest report from the front lines of the class war: The World
Bank reports the USA has more millionaires than ever -- we'll see them at
the Garden tonight.  Median household income's down -- most of us are
median -- while the bottom has fallen out for those at the bottom.  Our
poorest 20% have seen incomes drop by a fifth. America's upper one percent
now own 53% of all the shares in the market.  

And now the uppers want to crack open your retirement piggy bank, cut some
of your retirement benefits, then "allow" you to give them the remainder
of your money to fund their latest stock float schemes.   

If betting trillions on stock market ponies doesn't produce a big win,
what does Mr. Bush propose to do with all the hungry old folk?   I think I
heard George say, "Let them eat Enron certificates." 

And the future market fall, Mr. President, is a slam-dunk certainty. 
Let's do the math.  OK, class, we all buy stock this afternoon to fund our
retirement.  In fifteen years, baby-boomers are ready to kick back, take
it easy and retire on the stock they're about to sell.  Did I say, "SELL"?
 And HOW.  Around 2020, tens of millions of "owners" will be selling their
 to whom?  CRRRRASH! 

A deliberate policy of aiming for another 1929 is appropriate for the
top-hat and pinky-ring party of Herbert Hoover.   

The big problem is that supposedly non-partisan and even Democratic
poobahs are rushing to "reform" Social Security.  We have Alan Greenspan,
who has barely a word to say about the multi-trillion dollar deficit
wrought by Mr. Bush's tax cuts, yet is already warning about some disaster
in Social Security based on "trends."  Well, if we go by his own trend,
the Fed chief will soon be marrying a 12-year-old Girl Scout. 

Hey, Alan, back to Economics 101 for you.  As the boomers hit retirement
age, we're going to need added borrowing for transfer payments like Social
Security to maintain purchasing power to keep the economy alive while
millions of old folk dump assets.  

Listen, Mr. President, we had an "ownership" society once before. 
Luckily, it came to an end when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation


Greg Palast, nominated Britain's Business Writer of the Year by the UK
Press Association for his writings in the Guardian papers, is the author
of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." 
This month, Palast, who has returned to his native USA, will release,
"Bush Family Fortunes," the film based on his investigative reports for
BBC television.  Watch a preview of the film, out on DVD, at
http://www.gregpalast.com/bff-dvd.htm  Sign up for Palast's reports at
============================================ I


Unmitigated Gall
By Molly Ivins, AlterNet. 
The Daily Show nails the theme of the RNC.
September 2, 2004
Stephen Colbert, correspondent for "The Daily Show," the only news 
program to watch during the Republican convention, found the 
theme of this convention like a homing pigeon: "Unmitigated gall."
This convention alone would be enough to convince me that John 
Edwards is right about "two Americas," except I don't think he's gone 
far enough. These folks are in from another planet. They're living in 
an alternative reality. When is a fact a fact to these people? When did 
anyone ever find evidence Saddam Hussein had dog to do with Sept. 
It's all very well to claim our invasion of Iraq may yet bring about 
peace and democracy in the Middle East – hey, miracles happen – 
but when Rudy Giuliani assured us this "idealism" is in fact 
triumphing as he speaks, one must question the man's grip on 
sanity. Even the president is now claiming the disastrous occupation 
is the result of "catastrophic success." That seems to mean he thinks 
we won the war too fast.
Speaking of what Bush means, what a dumb flap over his obviously 
accidental misstatement that we can't win the war against terrorism. 
As I have often noted, even when Bush misspeaks you can usually 
tell what he meant to say. This little doozy was "clearified" the next 
day – on that mighty organ of reliable information, The Rush 
Limbaugh Show – only to be followed by Democrats chanting, "Flip-
That level of stupefying pettiness over nothing should be legally 
limited to Republicans. Meanwhile, note that Bush is back to being "a 
war president." Just a few weeks ago, he was going around claiming 
to be "the peace president" every 10 minutes, after months of 
claiming to be "a war president." So that makes the new shift a flip-
One of my favorite moments of non-reality came from Education 
Secretary Rod Paige, formerly school superintendent in Houston, 
where the stats on student performance have been so badly twisted it 
is now a national scandal. It was Compassion Night at Madison 
Square Garden, so we were celebrating Republican domestic 
achievements, a short list unless you just make stuff up, such as, 
"All across America, test scores are rising, students are learning, the 
achievement gap is closing, teachers and principals are beaming with 
pride." Now you tell me if this guy is living in Never Never Land.
The party platform, written in large part by Phyllis Schafly and her 
Eagle Forum, condemns stem cell research, women's right to decide 
whether to bear a child under any circumstances, and gay people. 
Just as a historical curiosity, I present the fact that at the 
Republican Convention in New Orleans in 1988, Mrs. Schafly gave a 
party with the theme "Let the Good Times Roll," thus proving the 
enduring role of irony at political conventions.
The real theme of the convention is "George Bush Makes Us Safer," 
as dubious a proposition as Madonna's virginity. Tom Ridge is not 
only not speaking in primetime, he's not addressing this convention 
at all – he's a non-person. In the current issue of Mother Jones 
magazine is a must-read by Matthew Brzezinski called "Red Alert." 
The "pull quote" is: "It was billed as America's frontline defense 
against terrorism. But badly underfunded, crippled by special 
interests and ignored by the White House, the Department of 
Homeland Security has been relegated to bureaucratic obscurity."
Brzezinski reports, "... the administration's misplaced priorities – - 
particularly its obsession with Iraq – - have come at the expense of 
homeland security." What a mess. What a waste of money. What 
colossal ineptitude. It's so dispiriting to read about it, one can't even 
work up a Henry Higgins-like: "Safer? Ha!"
While I was prepared to listen to much rhetoric about Bush's stalwart 
firmness as he steers the ship of state in the wrong direction, I was 
startled to hear Giuliani try to make points over our falling out with 
so many allies.
Look, the Coalition of the Willing is a public embarrassment, a 
monument to diplomatic witlessness, not to mention open bribery. To 
blame others for our diplomatic failure is both fatuous and offensive. 
Then to repeat Bush's obnoxious little bully line, "You're either with 
us or you're with the terrorists," is both stupid and dangerous.
The perception that we lack a decent respect for the opinions of 
mankind itself contributes to terrorism. Why encourage Americans, 
many of whom are already dangerously xenophobic, to treat the 
arguments of other nations with contemptuous dismissal? Especially 
when so many of them have been proved right?
Loved the Schwarzenegger speech and apologize again for having 
accidentally misappropriated the wonderful line of Clive James', the 
Australian journalist: "He looks like a condom stuffed with walnuts." 
Molly Ivins is a best-selling author and columnist who writes about 
politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.


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