W: The most undemocratic prez ever | AspenTimes.com

W: The most undemocratic prez ever

Gary Hubbell

I have several friends who think George W. Bush is a terrific president and that everything he’s done in office is hunky-dory. For example, regarding our combat deaths in Iraq, Dan is fond of saying, “More people are killed each year falling off of ladders in this country. Three thousand people, compared to the millions killed in World War II, is no big deal.” Nice thought.Dave tells me, “If you want lower taxes, keep voting Republican.” (As if I ever started.) “If you leave it to the Democrats, we’ll have 18 percent interest rates like Jimmy Carter, and the economy will go down the tubes.”Dan is an economist, and he says that a $2.8 trillion deficit, relative to the gross domestic product, is a tiny fraction of the economy’s power, and again, it’s no big deal.I’m a hunting outfitter, and practically every one of our customers bristles at the thought of a John Kerry or Hillary Clinton in office, because they think the first item on the Democrats’ agenda is to strip them of their firearms rights. George Bush, they think, is a defender of those rights.Aside from all these issues, I’ll tell you why I have a deep antipathy towards George Bush as president: He is undemocratic. An integral part of the Bush/Rove agenda is to deny people the right to participate in their own democratic institutions. For example, let’s talk about the concept of freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble. In the Constitution, it doesn’t say where and when we may speak and assemble. It simply guarantees that right. In a culture where Supreme Court decisions have affirmed that a naked stripper can’t be denied her right to take off her clothes and dance, flags can be burned, and Ku Klux Klan members can march through the streets wearing hoods and robes, the Bush administration has cleansed the streets of protesters at each of his inaugurations. Anyone not bearing a “ticket” – i.e., a Republican supporter – has been held back four blocks from the parade route. And if you were bearing a placard of protest four blocks back, you were probably put on a terrorist watch list by the FBI.As I understand it, George Bush is an employee of the people of the United States of America. He uses tremendous taxpayer resources everywhere he goes – private jet, Secret Service security forces, local cops blocking traffic. Logically, any time he speaks in public, anyone should be invited, because we’re all footing the bill. And if people want to protest, that’s their constitutionally guaranteed right. At a Denver “town meeting,” Secret Service agents ejected three citizens who were wearing T-shirts (under long-sleeved shirts) printed with the words, “No blood for oil.” Presidential appearances in Arizona, New Hampshire, and North Dakota have featured ejections for T-shirt messages. In West Virginia, two attendees were handcuffed and removed from an event because of their T-shirts.In the same vein, another Colorado resident spotted Dick Cheney walking on the street in Beaver Creek. The man walked up to the vice president and simply stated that he wasn’t fond of Cheney’s policies in Iraq, whereupon he was handcuffed, thrown to the ground and arrested by Secret Service agents, while his young son stood there, frightened and suddenly unattended while his father went to jail for expressing his freedom of speech. The Secret Service ought to be ashamed for having become guerrillas and thugs for a couple of losers like Bush and Cheney.We may never know what happened at the infamous oil-industry conclave in Dick Cheney’s office soon after Bush’s contested 2000 election victory, because no one has managed to pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding that meeting of oil company honchos and the VP, despite several lawsuits. Yet we can easily guess what happened, as the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service suddenly began issuing drilling permits in pristine roadless areas faster than the oil companies could find drilling rigs. They are pulling in rigs and crews from China, for crying out loud, and our Western landscapes are being irrevocably scarred.Despite overwhelming public support for preservation of wilderness and open space, the Bush administration arbitrarily slashed roadless designations for our remaining open spaces. Don’t think there will be disclosure after Bush finally leaves office, either. The Bush administration has already moved to place presidential papers under wraps for 12 years beyond the normal time limit, so we won’t know what happened until Bush, Cheney, and Rove are drooling in their soup at some nursing home.At least Bush hasn’t exercised his veto power, right? Laws are laws, right? Not necessarily.An American Bar Association task force issued an alarming report stating that George W. Bush has routinely attached “bill-signing statements” to laws that he has signed, reserving the right to “revise, interpret, or disregard” measures on national security and constitutional grounds. So, a law is not a law that George Bush signed into law, if George Bush wants to break the law. Get it? Does that sound democratic to you?Mind you, this has nothing to do with being a Republican or a Democrat. It simply has to do with George Bush’s fundamental misunderstanding of democratic principles and everything to do with his desperate grip on power. And you might note that I haven’t even touched the issue of torture and denial of due process for terrorism suspects. I’m talking about how Bush and Cheney have conducted themselves right here in Colorado. Four people from our own state have been manhandled and abused by George Bush and Dick Cheney’s staff. It could happen to you!If you’re ever invited to some presidential fundraiser at $500 a plate, be careful what you wear. The imperial president might decide that “Louis Vitton” or “Yves St. Laurent” is an intolerable statement of support for the French, and some blue-coated thug with a wire coming out of his ear might be wrestling you into an unmarked car, destination unknown.