The Hightower Report

Unions come together for national energy independence; and Bush stifles dissent.


A BIG IDEA

What if the White House and Congress were to do something sensible, positive, visionary, and good for everyone, instead of ... well, you know, the opposite of all of the above, as they've been doing?

Here's one big idea that would definitely be a plus for our people and for future generations: Launch a 10-year, $300 billion, crash program to provide energy independence for America. This would be a nationwide effort involving millions of us grassroots people to develop, build, and run a high-speed rail network, a distribution system for hydrogen-powered cars, energy-efficient buildings and appliances, solar- and wind-power systems, and other means to kick our nation's costly oil addiction.

It's called the Apollo Project, and it's a proposal that has been put together by 10 unions, including steelworkers, auto workers, mine workers, service employees, machinists, and electrical workers unions. Among other good results, their bold plan can restore America's manufacturing jobs, link blue-collar America with the environmental movement, eliminate the need for more oil wars, build a sound energy infrastructure for the future, spur a national construction boom, stimulate the economy from the ground up, excite and unite workaday Americans in a shared mission, and provide a positive model for the rest of the world.

Now that's sensible, positive, visionary, and good for everyone!

Froodle-doodle, cry the naysayers in the White House, Congress, and oil corporations -- where are you going to get $300 billion to finance this? I say we should get it from where it went. Washington just doled out $350 billion from our public treasury to enrich elites who were already super-rich. Let's put $300 billion of that back in the treasury to finance this Apollo program for the good of all, instead of watching the privileged stick it in foreign bank accounts or buy more mansions in France.

To see the Apollo proposal for yourself, check out www.apolloalliance.org.


DISSING AMERICA'S RIGHT TO DISSENT

When George W. was governor of our state, we Texans learned firsthand of a deep, anti-democratic flaw in his makeup: He abhors dissent and is totally dismissive not only of dissenters, but also of the people's right to dissent.

As governor, as presidential candidate, and now as president, Bush's unconscionable (and, I think, unconstitutional) disrespect of our fundamental right to question authority and confront power has surfaced again and again in an alarming "Bush Doctrine of Contained Dissent." What this amounts to is an imperious decision that any and all protesters must literally be corralled -- kept in protest pens well beyond the sight and sound of his eminence ... and of the media.

In Texas, Gov. Bush's security police suddenly swept down on a group of peaceful picketers who were on the public sidewalk in front of the governor's mansion -- a sidewalk that historically has been the site of protest. At this time, George was launching his presidential run, and he simply didn't want these dissenters to his environmental policies getting between him and the TV cameras -- so he had the state police move them to a designated protest zone in a faraway parking lot.

At the Republican presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia in 2000, candidate Bush created a fenced-in, out-of-sight protest zone that would only hold a few hundred people at a time. And, as president, his autocratic games continue -- for example, last year at the Columbia, S.C., airport, a protester with a "No War for Oil" sign stood in an area where Bush supporters stood. The protester was ordered to move a half-mile away. He refused, so Bush's police arrested him.

This is not America, the Land of the Free, but a new land of Bush autocracy. Four groups have now sued the secret service for systematically shutting out the people's protest. To learn more, call the American Civil Liberties Union in Philadelphia at 215/923-4357.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

energy independence, Apollo Project, unions, George W. Bush, freedom of speech, dissent, American Civil Liberties Union

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