Rogue leader

“ … many other [suspected terrorists] have met a different fate. Put it this way … they are no longer a problem …”

– George W. Bush, State of the Union address

With a wink and a nod, a swagger and a grin, Bush asserted his unilateral authority to assassinate “problem” individuals around the world.

The gap between suspected terrorist and proven terrorist takes in many innocent people. In recent months, we have seen entire communities, nationalities and work forces under the cloud of “suspected terrorists” subject to registration, detention, deportation and mass firing.

“Innocent till proven guilty” and “trial by jury” establish a methodical process to determine guilt or innocence. Bush’s substitute, “guilt by presidential edict,” has no process except political expediency, thus ensuring that in many cases not only will the innocent be punished but also the guilty will go unsought.

Bush’s “presidential right to assassinate” policy goes hand-in-hand with the previous assertion of his unilateral right to declare anyone, including U.S. citizens, as “enemy combatants,” and then imprison them indefinitely without trial, a lawyer or, even, public knowledge.

Let’s not forget that two years ago a right-wing consultant firm hired by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush falsely classified thousands of African-American voters as “criminals” and kicked them off the voting roles without due process, thus paving the way for the ascension of George W. to the presidency.

At a time when the American people are engaged in serious struggles for peace, decent wages, health care, education and affirmative action, will we be safer in a world without the rule of law where corporate spokesmen like Bush decide unilaterally who is a “problem” and what should be done about them?

Tearing up the Bill of Rights, flouting established international law and the UN are clear signs that Bush is a rogue president, using a war on terrorism to place himself above the law in order to promote his corporate agenda.

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Silence on racism

The words “race,” “equality,” or “civil rights” never once crossed the lips of George W. Bush during his State of the Union address, Jan. 28. The silence was deafening.

In the wake of the Trent Lott fiasco, the country has been grappling with the fact that officials, at the highest levels of power, long for and support policies that will push our country back to days of legal segregation and Jim Crow.

The country has been facing the fact that racist inequalities still exist today. Our public schools face what one report called re-segregation. Gaps in wages, housing, health care, education worsen the quality of life for millions of Americans – African Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Asian Americans, American Indians, Arab Americans and other people of color. Police brutality, unequal treatment in the courts, and racial profiling are still pervasive throughout the criminal justice system. The racist gap in living standards worsens the quality of life for working people and families of all races.

Furthermore Americans have been coming to grips with the fact that the president has come out against what has been the law of the land – affirmative action – a legal remedy to make up for past and present racist discrimination. The administration filed a brief opposing the University of Michigan’s admission policies, a case now before the Supreme Court.

Millions of people, perhaps an anti-racist majority, want our country to take on the challenge of racism and all forms of inequality. But the president and his advisors do not. Bush’s speech is part of a wider pattern of policies that deepen racial and gender disparities – ranging from the war to economic and budgetary policies – all of which will weigh heavily on communities of color and women.

The silence was deafening, but the people’s response should be deafening, too. Demand from all our leaders pro-civil rights legislation, affirmative action programs, equality in all areas of life and “no” to any appointment of anti-civil and women’s rights judges.

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