The Hightower Report

Bushites fail to protect troops; and Wall Street divides up the bonus booty


BUSHITES FAIL the TROOPS

Good God Almighty! Is there no one at the Pentagon or in the White House with a brain ... or a soul?

From the beginning of Bush's wretched war in Iraq three years ago, our brave troops have been screaming to get adequate armor both for their bodies and their vehicles. Yet, astonishingly, Bush and the other dunderheads at the top have either ignored, stalled, or fumbled these life-and-death requests. Now we are learning what their callousness and ineptness cost.

A secret Pentagon report has recently come to light revealing that up to 80% of the marines killed in Iraq from upper body wounds would not have died if they had had the proper body armor. Yet, the marine brass did not even begin buying this armor until last September – and more than 90% of the units ordered still have not been delivered to Iraq.

Equally disgusting, many soldiers have died because their lightly armored Humvees are easily penetrated by roadside bombs. An armored truck called the Cougar could have saved their lives; again, though, the Pentagon only started ordering this truck last May, and delivery to Iraq is three months behind schedule! This delay comes because the Cougar contract went to a small, politically connected outfit in South Carolina that had never mass-produced vehicles and botched the job. A dozen prototypes did get to Iraq, but had to be recalled because of failing transmissions, etc.

Meanwhile, our blasé leaders dismiss criticism, saying they're doing all they can as fast as can be expected.

What we have here is a failure at the very top. If George, Dick, and Rummy really gave a damn about soldiers, such top corporations as General Motors immediately would've been brought into a crash program to meet the needs of our vulnerable troops. Instead of continuing to make $50,000 Hummers for war-evading yuppies, GM should have been enlisted to make Cougars. But that would have required leadership from a real president.


WALL STREET DIVVIES UP THE BONUS BOOTY

Oh, hallelujah, the bonuses are in! Manna from heaven is showering down upon you!

You are a Wall Street broker, aren't you? These few financial elites are the lucky devils who have recently been blessed with $21.5 billion in bonuses dispensed by Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and the other giants that twist our economy to their advantage. Even while the wages of working stiffs did not even keep up with inflation in 2005, these high-flying speculators enjoyed nearly a 50% increase in revenues, producing record profits.

So they are now splitting the loot. The honcho of Goldman Sachs, for example, pulled in $38 million, the CEO of Lehman Brothers took $14.9 million, and the top dog at Morgan Stanley had to settle for $11.5 million (but, after all, he only worked for six months last year).

In fairness, I should note that their good fortunes are trickling down to those below – though certainly not to those as low down as you and me. But the sellers of multimillion-dollar estates, rare art, luxury imported cars, and private jets are in high cotton as the Wall Streeters rush to spend their bonanza.

For example, Gotham Dream Cars in Manhattan will sell you a Lamborghini Gallardo for only $195,000. If you're a younger bonus baby on Wall Street who can't quite afford to buy this exotic vehicle – hey, Dream Cars will let you rent it for $1,350 a day. "It's the perfect way for people to celebrate without going overboard," says the president of Dream Cars. How egalitarian is that?

Also, super-luxury Manhattan apartments, starting at $10 million, are said to be a particularly hot market this year. As a broker for such properties put it: "We love Wall Street bonuses."

Remember, Bush & Company say that these financial hucksters who are now divvying up the booty they took from investors in 2005 are the very people who should take over our Social Security program.

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

Pentagon, George W. Bush, Iraq War, Cougar, Humvee, Dick Cheney, Donald Rimsfeld, General Motors, Wall Street, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Gotham Dream Cars

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