The Hightower Lowdown
A real Fourth of July, bushwa from D.C., & airline fairness
American flags were flying all across the country on July 4 -- but this year not all of them were the traditional "Stars and Stripes" that symbolize our nation's independence and America's historic commitment to "liberty and justice for all."
True Independence Renewed
Instead, in more than 200 places, "Corporate America" flags were unfurled, posing the question of whether we really are an independent people, or a people who've been rendered subservient to global corporate power. This "Corporate America" flag still was red, white, and blue, but in place of the 50 stars in the corner of Old Glory, the logos of McDonald's, IBM, GE, Nike, CBS, Texaco, and other giants shone forth in all their garish glory.
These rebellious flags implored citizens to "Declare independence from corporate rule." They were raised in protest against the corporatization of our health care system, schools, media, environment, food, politics, government, and every other aspect of society. Some hoisted the provocative flags in front of such chains as Starbucks and Wal-Mart, some draped them from highway overpasses, and some carried them in July 4 parades. The biggest was in New York City, where the Corporate-Spangled Banner appeared on a 600-square-foot billboard near Times Square.
While politicians who are owned by some of these very corporations gave pious July 4th speeches about America's revolutionary ideals, these patriots were putting those ideals into action. To know more about this growing assertion of grassroots independence from our modern-day corporate autocrats, contact a watchdog group called Adbusters: 607/736-9401.
"Bushwa" is a slang term meaning rubbishy nonsense, baloney, bull -- b.s.
For an example of bushwa in action, look no further than the White House, as George W. and Dick Cheney continue to push policies that favor their fat-cat campaign contributors at the expense of regular Americans -- and common sense. From denying the science of global warming to promoting the fantasy of star wars, from proposing that we "save" social security by destroying it to insisting that NAFTA is such a success we should extend it to 31 other Latin American countries -- Bush & Co. are specialists in rubbishy nonsense.
Perhaps they're swallowing their own baloney, but few other Americans are buying it. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll -- actually worded in a way that favors incumbent presidents -- dumps a ton of bad numbers on Bush's presidency. Even after all the media coverage he got for his fat, sugary tax cut, and even after he took a made-for-television tour of Europe, Little George's overall job-approval rating has dropped to a pitiable 53%. It's way worse for him on specific issues -- for example, only 47% approve of his foreign policy performance, he's down to 39% approval on his environmental policies, and his energy approach gets the okay of only 33% of Americans.
The worst news for Bush is that the people see through his claim to be president for "all Americans." Only 10% think his policies favor the middle class or the poor, while nearly 60% say he favors the rich. Like Daddy Bush before him, he's seen as being out of touch with regular folks -- only 25% say that he's concentrating on the problems that matter most to them.
As this poll confirms, people know bushwa when they see it.
Jim Hightower's latest book, If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates, is available in a revised and updated paperback edition.