In Pakistan, the oppressed have taken to the streets to fight the imposition of martial law by G.W. Bush’s self-described friend, Pervez Musharraf. They are being rounded up by the hundreds, and still more take their place. Their leader, placed under house arrest by the power-mad leader, has called for them to continue their struggle. Video has shown pitched battles in the streets of Islamabad, with the protesters being beaten by Musharraf’s goons. And what group is leading the charge against the suspension of the constitution and the clampdown in this supposed U.S. partner?
Yes, lawyers. "The lawyers have been the only force in the country to mount protests since Saturday night," reported the New York Times. The well-dressed revolt was spurred on by the chief justice of the country’s Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who was deposed by Musharraf hours before the court was about to rule that he could not run in the next election and must step down as Pakistan’s leader. "Go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice," urged Chaudry. "The constitution has been ripped to shreds...Don't be afraid." The photos and videos of protesters in suits and ties were as strange as they were heartening. "How do you function as a lawyer when the law is what the general says it is?" said one Pakistani barrister.
How, indeed? It almost makes one wonder why lawyers in the United States haven’t ditched their briefcases for protest signs, given the assault on the rule of law by the Bush Administration. Bush doesn’t have to fire the Supreme Court that put him in office in the first place and that has been so friendly to his program of indefinite detention, the practical elimination of habeas corpus and unprecedented executive secrecy, so there is less of a crisis atmosphere. It does sort of make you wonder what Cheney would have tried to pull with a less politicized and pliant judiciary. If Bush and Co. were really bold, it could be said that Musharraf’s recent antics are just a trial run for the American junta in 2008 – the bloodless coup by those who just won’t leave. Don’t think they haven’t thought about it.
Musharraf uses the excuse of his phony "war" on "extremists" and the resulting need for "security" to excuse his self-preserving crackdown. Sound "familiar"? That’s why Bush shrugs his shoulders and says to the clever slug who sucked $10 billion out of our gulible presdient and delivered nothing: "You ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform." That’s tellin’ him, tough guy. So much for Junior’s democracy agenda – a phony conceit to begin with, especially if it proves to be inconvenient.
Speaking of inconvenient, Neil Bush is back in the news. The president’s younger brother held the title of black sheep of the family before Junior got him off the hook by being the worst president in U.S. history. He embarrassed his father when he was president by getting caught up in the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s, barely avoiding indictment (but didn’t they all?). The details of his divorce from his wife featured tales of Asian prostitutes and his soon-to-be ex stealing hair from his head for either drug tests or voodoo experiments, depending on which version you believe. A delightful review of Neil's history of bufoonery is here.
Now, Neil Bush appears to be benefitting from his brotherly connections by creating a sham product that magically gets money from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) fiasco and, believe it or not, Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. Using a company that started up – no surprise here – with money from his ever-protective mom and dad, Neil’s job these days is to promote something called Curriculum on Wheels (COW). Various school districts across the country including, naturally, Texas and Florida have spent NCLB money on COW.
The problem is that the program has been determined to be educationally worthless by those stuffy educational types that demand that public money be spent on worthwhile things. Jay Spuck, a former curriculum director for the Houston school district that spent $300,000 on the overpriced junk, said "It’s not helping kids at all. It’s not helping teachers. The only way Neil has gotten in is by his name." Better yet, "the Katy Independent School District west of Houston used $250,000 in state and federal Hurricane Katrina relief money last year to buy the Curriculum on Wheels," according to the New York Times. And Babs Bush herself gave eight of the useless COW units to other schools with large numbers of Katrina evacuees.
Supposedly, the Department of Education is looking into all this and we breathlessly await their whitewashed report. In the meantime, it’s nice to know that another Bush is bungling up another business and getting bailed out by the usual suspects. The last time one of the Bush boys was looking for something to do, you know what happened. Let’s hope Neil is able to keep his job so we don’t have to go through that again.
Neil Bush’s antics, though, do raise an interesting point about the difference between what the right-wing is willing to do with information and what the left is unwilling and unable to do. If Neil Bush was even a second cousin Clinton or Rodham, I wouldn’t have to explain his history here – everyone would know because those expert in the politics of personal destruction would have made sure every detail got out into the MSM through daily repetition of the foibles of this damaged family member in the right-wing echo chamber.
But lefties can’t or won’t do that. I think it’s because we play fairer – we can’t bring ourselves to harp on the frailties of others, unless it effects public actions. That spoiled greedheads like Neil Bush would take advantage of government funds made available by his brother’s government privatization campaign comes as no surprise. We mention it here or there and move on. Even if we wanted to make him a national laughing stock – as deserving as his is – we don’t have the platforms to make it happen.
Besides, with Junior still in office, we’ve already laughed ourselves sick. It’s not funny anymore.