The Austin Chronicle

The Hightower Report

By Jim Hightower, August 26, 2005, News


"Support Our Troops," shout the bumper stickers and ribbon magnets attached to vehicles all across America.

Good idea ... but do we really mean it? Oh, sure, George W. and the other pols will praise the troops at the drop of a hat – but rhetorical support is not the same (or as good) as substance.

Start with the fact that this commander-in-chief and a gung-ho Congress sent troops into the hell of war ill-equipped, telling soldiers deploying to Iraq: "Oh, by the way, bring your own armor." Two years into the Iraq mess and our troops are still (still!) scrounging for scrap metal and sandbags in an often-futile effort to jerry their military vehicles for protection against insurgent bombs.

Ask wounded vets about the support they're getting when they come home for treatment at veterans hospitals. They're finding that Bush and our Congress critters have not even budgeted for the massive influx of wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan, as though it had not occurred to the geniuses in charge that more beds, doctors, etc. might be needed, what with a war going on and all. The result is that vets suffering from the horrors of war are facing outrageous waits for medical care.

Finally, a bill was moving through Congress to provide an extra billion bucks for veterans hospitals. This is not near enough to deal with the problem, but even this sum was not treated as urgent by Bush and the lawmakers. They failed to pass this bill before Congress adjourned for a monthlong vacation and George W. started his five-week holiday.

In the days before departing Washington, though, the politicians did rush out a boondoggle of an energy bill, a special law to protect the gun industry, a pork-laden highway bill, and another trade scam for global corporations. At least they made their priorities clear: corporations first, vets mañana.

If "Support Our Troops" is no more than a bumper sticker or a magnet on a car – it's an insult.


One of the favorite whipping boys of right-wing moralists is Larry Flynt, the self-described "smut peddler" and civil libertarian.

But holy moly, smut has gone corporate! Some of the primmest, most proper, most Republican of CEOs are quietly slipping bundles of "dirty" money into their hand-tailored pinstripe suits – money derived from their burgeoning business of peddling porn on television.

I'm not talking about the tame fare of Desperate Housewives or the flashing of Janet Jackson's breast on a Super Bowl broadcast, but about the really raunchy stuff of X-rated movies now available on your own personal tube. Movies rated single-X feature nudity and simulated sex; double-X movies show real sex; and triple-X ... well, it can cause your eyeballs to explode.

Thanks to cable and satellite TV, you can get all three in your own home, not only courtesy of Larry Flynt, but also of such heavy-hitting corporate Republicans as Rupert Murdoch. His DirecTV satellite company peddles the stuff, as does EchoStar satellite company.

If you don't have a dish, no problem – just hook up to Adelphia Communications, the nation's fifth-largest cable TV provider. Adelphia was once run by the ultra-conservative John Rigas, who considered even the softest porn immoral. But, alas, John had other moral weaknesses, as he got caught looting the company and now faces prison time.

Adelphia's new top executives are still backers of George W. and other "moral values" Republicans, but they've redefined the company's morality in terms of hard cash, making a grab for the billion-dollar-a-year market for TV sex. Adelphia has become the first major cable company to offer the most explicit, hardest-core programming to its subscribers. As a company official explains: "People want it, so we are trying to provide it. The more 'X's, the more popular."

That's a perfect statement of today's corporate ethic: Money trumps morality every time.

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