1 The War. At last count: 530 coalition soldiers dead, between 8,000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians killed and many more uncounted Iraqi military casualties, all of these dead shamelessly defamed by Bush administration lies, from the fictional Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda ties which provided the pretext for the war to the staged spectacles of the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad and Jessica Lynch’s “rescue,” to the daily press-briefing play-acting about how it’s all going Just Fine. The president continues to debase the dead with bottomlessly hypocritical macho posturing — his clownish May 1 flight-suit stunt on the USS Abraham Lincoln; his brave “Bring ’em on” challenge to Iraqi insurgents; his braver Thanksgiving oath to the troops, during his 140-minute tour of duty in Iraq, that “We will stay until the job is done.” And guess who still hasn’t attended a single soldier’s funeral for fear he might be associated with the rising Iraqi death toll?
2 The Occupation. From the beginning — allowing the plundering of museums and hospitals while taking pains to secure the oil ministry, handing Dick Cheney’s friends at Halliburton a $1.7 billion no-bid contract while refusing local contractors, firing on unarmed protesters — the paternalistic pretexts for the occupation have been difficult to swallow. Now, with a more “aggressive stance” against the insurgency, including Israeli-loaned tactics such as bulldozing homes and razor-wiring off whole villages, and mafia-loaned tactics like imprisoning the families of your enemies, it’s getting hard not to choke on it all.
3 The Abandonment of Afghanistan. Despite all his grand promises, Bush did not include a single penny for Afghan reconstruction in his 2003 budget request. Most of the money that has since been allocated for Afghanistan will go toward U.S. military goals, not to rebuilding the ravaged country. There is perhaps no better symbol of the effect of the U.S. military’s efforts than the damage done by two recent air strikes, one on a Friday night in Gardez, the other the next day in Ghazni province, which between the two of them left 15 children dead. Three adults were also killed, but the targets of the strikes, suspected Taliban, were not among them.
4 The Detainees. With a tongue-out, pants-down, spittle-soaked fuck-you to international law, the Bush administration continues to detain over 600 uncharged prisoners at a hastily constructed prison camp in the naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Nearly 30 have attempted suicide so far. The military admitted in April that a “handful” of the detainees are children between the ages of 13 and 15. A Pentagon spokesman insisted that, “despite their age, these are very, very dangerous people.”
5 The Other Detainees. Following its recent decision to grant U.S. citizen and “enemy combatant” Yaser Esam Hamdi access to legal counsel, the Bush administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court asserting its right not to do so, basically insisting that the executive branch trumps the judiciary until it decides the war without end has ended. The Defense Department has for the last year and a half denied Jose Padilla, another citizen held incommunicado and in solitary confinement in the same South Carolina brig as Hamdi, access to his lawyer on the grounds that it would disrupt the “trust and dependency . . . essential to effective interrogation,” as if the possibility of that disruption were not the very purpose of the Fifth Amendment.
6 Balls. There are few tidier examples of the Bush administration’s continuing effort to give the phrase “imperial arrogance” new currency than its request, prior to Bush’s visit to London, that the British government grant Secret Service sharpshooters immunity from prosecution should they carelessly take out a bystander or six. Tony Blair briefly sprouted a pair, and refused.
7 Rogue States. Funny behavior for someone who claims such grave distaste for weapons of mass destruction, but after sneaking the repeal of a ban (signed by his father!) on their development into his $400 billion military appropriations bill, Bush approved $13.5 million for research into developing “bunker-busting” and low-yield nuclear weapons and another $25 million to ready a site in Nevada for testing.
8 The Simple Life. In the midst of it all, another tax cut, marketed as a gift to the middle class, but which will have a net effect of transferring billions (an “itty bitty” $350 billion, to borrow the president’s locution) straight into the pockets of the rich.
9 The Secure Homeland. It wasn’t hard to see this one coming: the use of anti-terrorism laws to quell domestic dissent, from charges against protesters in Vieques to L.A.’s own Sherman Austin, who was sentenced to a year in federal prison in August.
10 And Counting. The quiet butchering of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and clean water regulations, the gutting of the Labor Department’s regulations on overtime pay and of FCC media consolidation rules, the proposed expansion of the Patriot Act, and and and . . .