By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
11. Last March, members of Congress hosted a peculiar ritual for South Korean cult leader/ex-con/multibillionaire Sun Myung Moon, who was given a jeweled crown and pronounced the "King of Peace." Moon has declared that gays are "dung-eating dogs," American women are "prostitutes" and Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves by betraying Jesus. He did time in the 1980s for tax fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice, and there are extensive reports he's allowed followers to be tortured. Nevertheless, he's enjoyed a long relationship with the Bushes, and a Bush Sr. spokesman told the Washington Post, "[Moon's] group is about strengthening the family and that's what President and Mrs. Bush are deeply focused on." Various Moon VIPs have scored peachy government gigs, and under W's Faith Based Initiative, the federal government has given Moon grants supporting school programs focused on Moon's anti-sex teachings. Makes you long for Jerry Falwell.
12. In the 2000 debates, Bush promised he'd create millions of new jobs through his tax cuts. He promised he'd support allowing Americans to buy less expensive prescription drugs from Canada. He promised to end Washington's partisan squabbling. He promised that if he sent American troops into combat, "the force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well-defined." If you want to predict the next four years, just assume Bush will do the exact opposite of what he promises in the 2004 debates.
13. On Aug. 24, a high-level, independent Pentagon panel found Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed to effectively oversee detention policies at U.S. prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba, leading to the infamous rape and torture of men, women and children at Abu Ghraib. This torture was not simply a few hillbillies gone out of control; it was the direct result of this administration willfully flouting the Geneva Convention. Rumsfeld's resignation is expected shortly after hell freezes over.
14. Bush's Medicare Modernization Act is actually a devious way to gradually kill off Medicare altogether, splitting seniors into warring camps by adding a new, private Preferred Provider Organization option. More affluent seniors will pounce on this option, poorer seniors will stay with traditional Medicare, and the private competition will drive premiums ever higher as benefits for basic Medicare become ever worse. And as Medicare is dying, the healthier, wealthier seniors will have little incentive to fight for it. As taxpayers, we're going to pay a hell of a lot for Medicare in our lives, but by the time we're old enough for it, it won't be there anymore.
15. The Patriot Act does little to defend you from terrorists but greatly increases the government's power to get all up in your mess. Phone and Internet records can now be searched without warrants; police can see what books you've checked out of the library, but libraries are prohibited from informing you about the inquiry; your religious and political activities can be scrutinized even if the government doesn't suspect criminal activity; you may be jailed without being charged, denied a lawyer or the chance to confront witnesses against you, and held indefinitely without a trial. Bush's boys apparently still don't feel they've dismantled civil liberties enough: they're reportedly at work on the Patriot Act II.
16. On Sept. 24, The New York Times reported the Republican National Committee sent mass mailings to West Virginia and Arkansas warning that "liberals" seek to ban the Bible. The mailings featured images of the Bible labeled "banned" and a gay-marriage proposal labeled "allowed." RNC spokescreature Christine Iverson was unapologetic: "When the Massachusetts Supreme Court sanctioned same-sex marriage and people in other states realized they could be compelled to recognize those laws, same-sex marriage became an issue. . . . These same activist judges also want to remove the words 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance."
17. You know those tax cuts you've been getting during W's term, the ones that didn't quite take the sting out of getting laid off? On Sept. 23, Congress approved a $145.9 billion package to extend three cuts, despite an expected record $422 billion deficit this year. Democrats and moderate Republicans argued to extend the cuts one year and pay for them by closing corporate tax loopholes, but Bush held out for a plan extending the cuts five years while keeping his beloved corporate cats as fat as ever. Bush's fiscal policy is not unlike his energy policy: we'll relentlessly draw from a finite, diminishing pool, and by the time it runs dry, we'll be dead and somebody else can clean up the mess.
18. During a commercial break on a 2000 Late Night With David Lettermanappearance, the cameras caught Bush cleaning his glasses using the shirttails of Maria Pope, one of the show's producers. Our president used a stranger as his Kleenex. (See the clip at www.bushflash.com/unb.html.)
19. With nuclear tensions escalating with Iran and North Korea, Bush is touting a $100 billion missile-defense program that wouldn't stop a tetchy mosquito. On Oct. 3, the Associated Press quoted Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute think tank in Washington: "In terms of operational realities, it is a very rudimentary system that requires much further testing and could not stop a substantial attack against the nation."