The Hightower Report
Bush's long vacation benefits America; his Ag Department pick ain't exactly a family farmer.
We Need George's Leadership
Good God almighty! Have the media and the Democrats gone crazy?
There's been all this criticism flying around that George W. has been vacationing at his Texas ranchette for the whole month of August, rather than being at his desk in the White House working away on all the problems that our nation faces. Worse, the criticism stung Bush so much that his aides now say that he really only took a "working vacation," rather than kicking back and doing nothing.
This is not good for America. Think about it. When W. works, he tends to do bad things, such as gutting existing environmental laws so his polluting campaign contributors can put more of their toxic gunk into our air and water. When he works, he's trouble. Remember June and July when Bush was very focused on work? That's when we got the new Homeland Security Department, complete with its T.I.P.S. snitch squad to encourage Americans to spy on each other. That idea was so rotten that it even gagged right-wing Republican leader Dick Armey, who personally stepped in to try to kill it.
No, no, people, we do not want this guy working. Let him relax, loaf, fish, look at picture books. He's been good at goofing off all of his life, and we ought to encourage this core characteristic in his makeup.
Besides, what's so great about working, especially in the summer? Farmers used to enjoy this period as "laying by time" -- the crops were planted and hoed, and there wasn't much to do but wait for harvest, so it was time to enjoy, sleep late, go swimming, eat watermelon. Likewise, Europeans today take from a month to six weeks off -- yet we Americans average only a miserly 13 days of vacation a year.
Here's an area where Bush is qualified to provide some real and needed presidential leadership. He should say, yeah, I'm taking all of August off ... and so should you. In fact, he should declare August "National Take-Off Month."
Come on, George, have the courage of your convictions!
USDA Gets a Real Clod
Some of George W.'s appointees are so ugly you wouldn't pull them behind a John Deere with 30 feet of rope. But the ugliest yet might be the man Bush just snuck into the ag department as our new undersecretary for rural development.
Start with the fact that as head of a large corporate farm in Iowa, Thomas Dorr was slipperier than an Enron executive. He rigged his books so he could get around the legal limits on federal farm payments, which allowed him to grab more crop subsidies from us taxpayers than he was entitled to receive. Twice, including this year, he got caught and was forced to return thousands of dollars to the government. Dorr just shrugs off his unethical conniving, saying he has "no idea if it's legal" and telling senators at his confirmation hearing that even if illegal it's OK, because "I have known many, many farmers who have done that over the years." Maybe, but they probably don't expect to get a top government appointment.
While Dorr loves federal farm money so much he'll cheat to get it, he hates the idea that any of his tax dollars might go to help other rural people. Three years ago, he sent a hot letter to Senator Tom Harkin denouncing a small tax that helps extend Internet service to rural areas, saying that "subsidy games" had turned Iowa into a "state of peasants." Odd attitude for a guy who wants a government job to administer programs that help the rural poor.
Speaking of attitudes, he once made the unfortunate comment that three Iowa counties were enjoying economic progress because of their homogeneity -- meaning that they're all white and Christian. Dorr also doesn't like small, as in small farmers. He says that 200,000-acre factory farms fit his vision of what agriculture should be.
This guy should not be in the U.S. Agriculture Department, and he wouldn't be, since the Senate would not have confirmed such an obtuse clod. But, in August, George W. Bush made Dorr a recess appointment, sneaking him into office while the Senate was out of town.
Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To subscribe to his monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, call toll free 866/271-4900. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visitwww.jimhightower.com