A diary of year one with our unelected president
BY BARRY CRIMMINS
CAN IT REALLY be a year since we didn’t elect George W. Bush president? Time sure flies when you’re going straight to hell.
Let’s take a look back at our first 12 months with the court-appointed chief executive.
Happy holidays! The Republicans, hell-bent on returning ethics to Washington, formalized the theft of the election with an assist from the Supremacist Court, when George W. Bush was appointed president of the United States.
The turn of the millennium, which reached a de facto conclusion a year earlier when marketers commandeered the calendar, actually expired at midnight, December 31, 2000, outliving the credibility of America’s electoral process by several days.
The New Year arrived with the feel of one of those action movies where a comet’s hurtling toward Earth and, short of a miracle, it’s going to hit — hard.
Neither Bruce Willis nor Robert Duvall showed. Bush was inaugurated. A dazed electorate had been body-politic slammed into a deep Florida sinkhole. As we scrambled to clear the cobwebs from our heads, an ominous groan grew to a large rumble emanating from a fleet of conveyances set to dump toxic waste, religious sewage, and corporate effluence upon us. Only those who could tread slime stood any chance of crawling back to dry land.
During the Inaugural weekend, the Republicans delivered on their promise to return dignity to the capital by tying longhorn steers in the foyers of grand hotels. Z-list celebrities, such as Dixie Carter and the Statler Brothers, were the only showbiz types to soil themselves by attending the festivities. Bush wept as he awaited his swearing in. Perhaps he was thinking of all the Texans who gave their lives in the death chamber so that he could be there.
Laura Bush announced that she would use her position as First Lady to promote abstinence. No one wondered why.
The F-month was marked by the continuation of ridiculous cabinet confirmation hearings begun in January. Even though W.(orst) was appointed president after losing the popular vote and stealing the Electoral College, the assemblage of corporate toadies, backroom fixers, and self-loathing zealots he nominated would make you think he arrived with a mandate.
What this guy lacked in brains he made up for in audacity. Who else would even consider Governor Christy Todd Whitman of New Jersey to head the Environmental Protection Agency? And who would foist upon us church-state integrationist John Ashcroft — a man deemed by Missouri voters less fit for public office than a corpse — as attorney general?
After becoming treasury secretary, former ALCOA chair Paul O’Neill told Britain’s Financial Times that he thinks corporate taxes should be abolished, along with Medicare and Social Security. Fortunately, O’Neill hasn’t yet found time to transfer the Social Security trust fund into Enron and Lucent stock certificates.
Bush better be reappointed in ’04, or there won’t be time for his cabinet to unpack all the baggage they brought with them.
The only nominee to go down was Linda Chavez, who withdrew her name from consideration for labor secretary when it got out that she had illegal aliens sleeping in the exact spot under the table where she paid them. Too bad: she would have worked cheap.
February’s highlight came when the teaching of evolution was restored in Kansas. Kansans celebrated by walking upright, taking shelter from storms, and communicating through a series of simple grunts. If this keeps up, their congressional delegation is in big trouble.
In March, Bush announced that taxes on the rich would be replaced with an honor system under which the elite would be expected to increase their commitment to private, faith-based bribery and slush funds by some 50 percent.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was christened and immediately manned by scab air-traffic controllers. The vessel is actually larger than Grenada, the site of Reagan’s greatest military victory.
A March earthquake heavily damaged Starbucks’ Seattle headquarters. Within days, the coffee giant bounced back and replaced it with 60 new headquarters at various places around the city.
In financial news, the NASDAQ was traded for a 1988 Yugo, high mileage, needs bodywork and a new engine. Smith Barney ran a 75% off! everything must go! sale.
So far, on W.’s watch, the US
• Accidentally sank a Japanese fishing boat.
• Got into a military incident with the Chinese that any kid in a video arcade could have avoided with a few clicks of a joystick. (In fairness, the South China Sea was positively crawling with Japanese fishing vessels.)
• Strafed Europe with debris from military aircraft that must have been built by the same technicians who found a way to make plastic rust on US cars in the ’70s.
• Failed to explain adequately the " Baptists under fire " incident in Peru, where a Baptist missionary’s plane was shot down under the aegis of narcotics interdiction. Apparently the War on Drugs targeted-substance list had been expanded to include " opium of the masses. "
On April 13, I wrote: " If Bush’s foreign policy gets any more antiquated, the Crusades will resume in July. " Okay, I was off by a few months. Oh, and on April 15, wealthy Americans paid taxes for the final time.
Although humanity is pretty durable, many began to believe it didn’t have a British cow’s chance at customs of surviving the court-appointed Bush administration.
Aaron Sorkin, creator of the Emmy Award–winning The West Wing, was arrested for possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms, which explains Sorkin’s vision of a White House peppered with idealists fighting good battles.
In honor of May Day, American corporations laid off workers by the thousands just to make sure they would be ineligible to celebrate the international workers’ holiday. Court-appointed president Bush finally named his choices for the federal bench in May. The long delay was due to the travel time required for the judges to reach Washington from their residences in the 17th century.
After appearing at the National Rifle Association convention and praising gun nuts as " America’s unsung conservation heroes, " Interior Secretary Gail Norton earned a new title: Secretary of the Ulterior.
May’s top story: like any good Vermonter, Senator Jim Jeffords demonstrated he knows when the sap runs and when to run from the sap. Jeffords left George W. Bush and the Republican Party, taking with him majority control of the Senate. As a result, Trent Lott and the rest of the GOP Senate leadership were given a chance to do some of that " downsizing " they like so much.
First the court-appointed Bush administration literally takes office, and then The Producers sweeps the Tonys. The year 2001 will always be remembered for joke revivals featuring fascists.
In June, I traveled to Albuquerque to speak at a drug-policy conference hosted by the stalwart anti-drug-war warriors of the Lindesmith Center. Federal drug prosecutors and DEA agents just happened to schedule their convention in the same town at the same time. The feds held no seminars on subtlety.
Speaking of substance-abuse arrests, Jenna Bush was busted in June for underage drinking. Considering who her father is, it’s a miracle the poor kid isn’t walking around with a morphine drip in her elbow.
Al Giordano, a former Phoenix staff writer who publishes the Web-based Narco News, and Mexican journalist Mario Menéndez faced a huge civil suit in New York City brought by Banamex (a Mexican bank, since purchased by Citigroup) and its chair, Roberto Hernández. Hernández was upset with Al and Mario for printing corroborated facts about his and his bank’s involvement in the drug trade. The suit was intended to prevent Al from continuing to publish his independent, highly factual refutations of the big lie that is the drug war. At a July hearing in federal court, Giordano and Menéndez demonstrated that the case had no business in New York, especially since it had already been thrown out of Mexican courts for lacking merit. In December, New York State Supreme Court judge Paula Omansky threw the case out of court, informing the plaintiff that Giordano and Menéndez deserved the same First Amendment protection afforded journals that publish lies about the War on Drugs.
Unlike most Americans in their first year on a new job, W. took an extended paid vacation in August. It’s a good thing he got rested up, rather than exhausting himself with concerns like airport safety and domestic security.
Issue Date: December 27, 2001 - January 3, 2002