The Hightower Report

Enlist the rich; and Supremes clear the way for government to turn your property over to companies that'll pay more in taxes


HOW TO FIND AN EXIT STRATEGY IN IRAQ

I know that us menfolk are notoriously bad at admitting when we're lost and need to stop and ask someone for directions, but isn't it now obvious that George W. is totally lost in Iraq, without a clue of how to get out?

Instead of a coherent Iraq policy, Bush relies on political one-liners. His most infamous was "mission accomplished," but, for me, the most disgusting was his response two years ago when he was asked about the Iraqi insurgents who were beginning to attack our occupation forces: "Bring 'em on," taunted Bush. That's the kind of macho posturing and false bravado you might expect from someone safely inside a frat house or barroom (both of which George haunted during his war-eligible years), but it's completely irresponsible for a commander-in-chief to incite enemies to attack our soldiers.

When W issued his taunt, about 200 of our soldiers had been killed. Two years later, more than 1,700 are dead and many more are going to die because Bush is lost. He has no strategy except to plead with the public to stay the course in Iraq.

Why should we? George recently insisted that the sacrifice of our sons, daughters, spouses, and other loved ones "is worth it." But it's obviously not worth the sacrifice of any of his daughters, nieces, nephews, or other relatives – not a single one is there. This is the rich man's war, but the rich and privileged have made clear that it's not their fight. While the middle class and the poor are stuck fighting and dying there, the corporate elites are here at home, battling door to door in Washington to grab still more tax cuts and subsidies for themselves.

Not surprisingly, military recruiters these days are not reaching their quotas for signing up more of our sons and daughters to go die in Bush's war. Maybe they should try knocking on the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If more of the elites were enlisted, I guarantee you that George would find an exit strategy in a hurry.


COURT 'LIBERALS' BACK CORPORATE POWER

Something downright spooky is happening to me: I find myself agreeing with Clarence Thomas!

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that state and local governments may now use their power of eminent domain to seize someone's home or business and hand it over to private developers. Specifically, the majority said that the city of New London, Conn., was within its rights to take 15 homes from residents in an old waterfront neighborhood so a corporation can build offices, a hotel, and upscale apartments in their place.

In his dissent, Thomas said, "The Court has erased the public use clause from our Constitution." I agree. This clause allows private property to be taken by the government only for public uses, such as building public roads, parks, schools, etc. But the court's majority has now stretched this clause beyond recognition by ruling that the seizure is OK as long as there's a public purpose involved. In the Connecticut case, the purpose was to get more property taxes for the city by replacing the individual homes with a large-scale, ritzy development. In plain words, government officials have just been cleared to turn over your property to companies that'll pay more in taxes. As one of the home-owners put it: "It's basically corporate theft."

Bizarrely, it's the so-called "liberals" on the court who voted for this theft, and it was Thomas, Scalia, Rehnquist, and O'Connor who clearly saw that this opens the door to more abuse of us ordinary folks by corporate interests. As O'Connor noted in her blistering dissent, those who'll profit from this plutocratic ruling will be "those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations."

I'm with her. And for the court's clueless liberals, I propose that they pop a populist pill every morning to help them see the difference between the people's interest and corporate interests.

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

George W Bush, Iraq War, exit strategy, Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court, New London, Anthony Scalia, William Rehnquist, Sandra Day O'Connor, eminent domain

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