The Hightower Report

Dubya paints rosy pictures of the war and job creation … and on both, he's lying


GOOD NEWS ON IRAQ

At last, the Bush team has come up with a secret weapon to deal with their disastrous handling of the Iraq war: Yellow smiley-face stickers.

In a joint effort by top government officials and the Bush presidential campaign, your and my tax dollars are being spent on a propaganda push in our country to spread what the Pentagon calls "good news" about Bush's Iraq occupation. In a five-page memo titled "Guidance to Commanders," Donnie Rumsfeld himself pushes the propaganda effort, which involves importing Iraqis to make presentations on U.S. military bases. They assemble soldiers to form the audiences, and base commanders are urged to "market" these appearances "effectively" by bringing in the local media and prominent citizens. The show-and-tell talks are "designed to be uplifting accounts with good news messages," says Donnie's memo, adding that these events "are positive public relations opportunities."

Another part of the new spin is to halt distribution of negative news. A government contractor named Kroll Security International Ltd. issues daily factual reports on developments in Iraq. Obviously, Kroll has had to deliver lots of bad news, including reports detailing the spreading attacks by insurgents. So, in September, the government simply stopped sending the Kroll reports to members of Congress and other "outsiders."

Then there was September's extremely rosy speech to congress by Ayad Allawi, Bush's hand-picked leader of Iraq's interim government. Did Allawi get speech-writing help from the Bushites? "None that I know of," George's PR flack recently fibbed. In fact, both a Bush campaign aide and U.S. embassy officials in Iraq helped Allawi write the speech and practice his delivery. Also, the state department booked his subsequent high-profile media tour of the U.S. to promote Bush's war.

It's bad enough that we're paying so steeply for Bush's war of lies – why should we also be taxed for a blatant propaganda campaign to boost his election chances?


'JOBS'

Great news, shouts George W on the campaign trail – 95,000 new jobs were created in September! This is proof, he exclaims, that his trickle-down economic policies are working.

How rosy! How wrong.

First, 95,000 new jobs is a pathetically weak number in an economy that boasts such enormous new wealth-creation as ours. It takes nearly twice that merely to match the number of new workers coming into our nation's job market each month. Meanwhile, there's the growing job backlog – the millions of Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed (wanting full-time jobs, but only able to get part-time or temporary work).

How bad is Bush's job record? Herbert Hoover-bad. George will be the first president since Hoover, way back in the Depression economy of 1932, to have produced a net loss of jobs on his watch.

Wait, cries Bush, look at the September unemployment rate – only 5.4%! Another rosy number, but another deceit. The only reason it didn't go up is that 200,000 more Americans have become so discouraged in their job searches that they gave up looking for work in September. If you've quit looking for a job, the system no longer counts you as unemployed ... even though, of course, you are.

But there's another job statistic that George doesn't want you and me to focus on: wages. The real issue isn't the number of jobs, but the pay of those jobs. Wages determine whether ours will remain a middle-class country, and the news here is not good. Hourly wage gains under Bush have fallen beneath the rate of inflation – meaning America's middle class is falling down. Indeed in September, there was a loss of another 18,000 well-paying manufacturing jobs, while low-paying service jobs were up by 100,000. On average, the jobs Bush says he's creating pay $9,000 a year less than those he's lost.

It's the American dream that they're destroying.

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

Iraq War, George W. Bush, Guidance to Commanders, Don Rumsfeld, Kroll Security International, Ayad Allawi, jobs, unemployment, Herbert Hoover

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