Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
HOW DID ABORTION RIGHTS COME TO THIS?  — Carol Hanisch charts how the right to an abortion began to erode shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision; Uber vs. the Cabbies: Ben Terrall reports on the threats posed by private car services; Remembering August 1914: Binoy Kampmark on the enduring legacy of World War I; Medical Marijuana: a Personal Odyssey: Doug Valentine goes in search of medicinal pot and a good vaporizer; Nostalgia for Socialism: Lee Ballinger surveys the longing in eastern Europe for the material guarantees of socialism. PLUS: Paul Krassner on his Six Dumbest Decisions; Kristin Kolb on the Cancer Ward; Jeffrey St. Clair on the Making of the First Un-War; Chris Floyd on the Children of Lies and Mike Whitney on why the war on ISIS is really a war on Syria.
Pumping the Polls

It’s the Manipulated Economy, Stupid

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

The first Fall rains arrive. Leaves begin to turn color. Species begin migrations. The airwaves buzz with vacuous political ads. Various pro-Democrat/Neo-liberal progressive groups are once again giddy anticipating the end of Neo-con iron fist control of the nation. Election season is upon us.

Ben Tripp threw cold water all over the hopes of the naïve pwogs the other day. Tripp predicted a Republican sweep, or, at least, the Republicans maintaining their grip on DC. Aside from the time-dishonored tactic of Election Fraud, the failure of the Peace Movement and others to hold anyone accountable –R or D –for votes supporting the Iraq war/occupation, incessant Terror Alerts, etc.; the bottom line ace in the hole for BushCo is manipulating the economy.

Could it be any more obvious? It doesn’t take a genius–Rovian or otherwise–to notice how things are aligning. Gas prices are headed to their lowest level in two years. On Thursday, September 21st, USA Today ran an article showing that "When it comes to President Bush’s approval rating –the number that measures his political health –one factor seems more powerful than any Oval Office address or legislative initiative."

And what is that measure? The article cites a statistical analysis by the Left Business Observer’s Doug Henwood, which found "an ‘uncanny’ 78% of the movement in Bush’s ratings could be correlated with changes in gas prices."

Using his research and recent gas price drops as a guide, Henwood accurately predicted last Thursday that it "wouldn’t be surprising to see his approval numbers rise into the mid-40s." Polls over the weekend showed Bush’s approval climbing all the way to 44%, his highest in a year.

Continuing its usual election year pattern when Republicans control the White House, the Federal Reserve Board hasn’t raised interest rates since the end of June, when the Fed set the rate at 5.25%. (The rate was raised to 6.5% for 2000’s stolen election. Quickly, it was dropped to a mere 1.75% for 2002 and 2004.) Now, after raising the rate steadily since then, the increase was capped in June. The Stock Market has responded and we’ll be seeing all sorts of blather about the Dow "reaching its all-time high"–11,722.98–by November 7th. (The Dow is at 11,611.67 as I write this.)

Just what have the American public been told equals a "robust, thriving economy?" Most folks, and especially the press, are conditioned to look to two indicators–gas prices and the Dow Jones Average. Who isn’t happy when gas prices drop? Other than the EXXON/MOBILEs of the world, that is. Big Oil is smarting at having to give Cheney a mere two-month price reprieve–the oily EXXON cartel alone has been pocketing $1 billion per week in profits so far this year.

So, as you enjoy the spectacle of yet another Diebold election, do as my buddy Steve Spahr and wait to fill your heating oil tank until early November; fill up the old Chevy and take a scenic drive through the corporate industrial E. coli farms, feedlots, clearcuts and mined-off mountaintops of rural America; cuz, by Rove, we won’t be seeing gas prices and interest rates this low or stocks this high for, uh, let me guess, two years.

MICHAEL DONNELLY drives a beat-up 1996 Ford Ranger pick-up with a rack for hauling recycled lumber. It’ll be in steady use until the post-election, post-Iran assault gas price escalation. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com