Restoring the Good, Old Term "Bum"

The word “bum” has two major meanings. One is pejorative and refers to the unfortunate among us who find themselves homeless and out of work. That particular term has properly fallen out of use. However, there is another definition of “bum.” Webster’s Dictionary defines a bum as “one who performs a function poorly.” Brooklyn Dodgers fans were fond of yelling “kill da bum” and “throw da bum out” to umpires who rendered questionable calls against their players. While reading about a number of Bush administration officials today in The Washington Post, I thought to myself, “these people are also bums.”

Aside from being political extremists, several Bush administration political appointees and their allies abroad are, indeed, performing their jobs poorly. So let’s stop with the politically correct terms and resurrect the term bum. It’s clearly past time to throw these bums out.

Let’s examine some of the bums who have recently made the news because of their awful performance in office. The headline in yesteray’s Post reads, “Report Blames Flawed NASA Culture for Tragedy.” The Columbia Accident Investigation Board released its findings on the cause of the space shuttle disaster that occurred last February. The report cites NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe for overemphasizing budgets and deadlines over technical failings and safety. That should come as no surprise to anyone. That’s because O’Keefe is a bum. During the Bush the First administration, O’Keefe was chief bean counter and Secretary of the Navy under another bum, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. O’Keefe and Cheney make a perfect pair. O’Keefe, who first pinched pennies as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget when he first joined George W. Bush’s administration in March 2001, thought he could run NASA on a shoe string budget at the expense of safety and proper technical engineering oversight. As a result of this bum’s actions, seven astronauts died. Cheney, a Vietnam War-era draft dodger, decided he would micromanage the production of intelligence on Iraq by personally visiting the CIA headquarters and editing the intelligence reports. As a result of this bum’s actions, 180 men and women have died as a result of hostile action while wearing the uniform that Cheney shunned during Vietnam.

The day after the Columbia panel issued its blistering report on what caused the shuttle disaster, O’Keefe vowed to reform NASA. Sorry, Mr. O’Keefe, you are a bum, a poor performer. NASA and the international space program cannot afford any more screw-ups from the likes of you. Since bums rarely understand their own shortcomings, O’Keefe did not do the right thing and resign. Congress should call for O’Keefe’s immediate dismissal.

Also found on page one of the Post is this headline, “Bremer: Iraq Effort to Cost Tens of Billions.” Bremer replaced retired General Jay Garner to get things back to normal in Iraq after incessant bombardment by the United States. Bremer, a former Heritage Foundation stooge, is just another Bush administration bum. His viceroyship of Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. Iraq’s recovery was to be paid for from oil revenues. So, where’s the oil? Some of Iraq’s northern oil pipelines have been blown up by Iraq’s resistance to U.S. occupation. But other oil is being pumped into tankers in the Persian Gulf. Where is it going? How come Iraq’s rebuilding is going to cost “several tens of billions” of dollars? Why is Bremer entertaining the rebuilding of the Iraqi pipeline to Haifa, Israel? None of the money from that oil will ever get into Iraqi hands without severe strings being attached. So Bremer is willing to spend tens of billions of dollars, in addition to the $4 billion a month price tag from the Pentagon’s operations, for a country that is rapidly descending into irreparable chaos, while shipping its oil (and much of the oil revenue) to Israel. What a neo-conservative wet dream that is! The cash-strapped Treasury of the United States cannot afford this Iraqi folly any longer. Bremer is a bum and he should be thrown out.

There is a passing reference on page 20 to David Kay, the U.S. weapons specialist that has a team of 1200 personnel who are searching for (or planting) weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It’s ironic that it is David Kay, a CIA operative, and not David Kelly, the late British scientist, who is running this operation. If it’s taken this much time for Kay and his team to find WMDs in Iraq, he is obviously just another Bush bum. If the U.S. wants final closure on the WMD fable, send a UN weapons team to Iraq that includes Scott Ritter. They will find the truth. But then again, the truth is anathema to the Bush administration. Kay and his people should pack their bags and find other employment.

Page four of the Post carries a story about the never-ending battle by the GOP to redraw Texas’s congressional districts into politically-contrived Republican districts with majority Democratic districts confined to apartheid-style and ethnically-based “Bantustans.” It is clear that the blow-dried successor to George W. Bush, Governor Rick Perry and his Lieutenant Governor, David Dewhurst, are both major league bums. While they have been conspiring with House Majority Leader bum Tom DeLay, the Texas legislature has not been able to consider hardly any pressing legislation on education, medical care, and other quality of life issues. The Democrats in both the Senate and House have wisely prevented a quorum by fleeing into exile into neighboring states. Opposition leaders being forced into exile is commonplace in Third World banana republics. Congratulations to Perry and Dewhurst for placing Texas into the same category as Gambia, Rwanda, Guatemala, and Burma. Texans should immediately launch a recall of both of these bums.

An awful story concerning the U.S. Navy appears on page 6. The Navy and its GOP allies want to overturn the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which was signed by President Richard Nixon in 1972. The Navy does not care for the restrictions placed by the act on its use of a new low frequency sonar system. A number of federal and private studies have demonstrated that the use of the Navy’s sonar has resulted in mass beachings of whales and harms the hearing of dolphins, porpoises, and whales. A Federal judge in California recently ruled that the Navy’s use of the sonar must be restricted to areas that are not in areas populated by migrating, breeding, and foraging marine mammals. Weighed against these gentle creatures of the sea is the Navy Department led by Gordon England, who just reassumed control of the Navy after serving a brief stint as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. England had served as Navy Secretary before going to Homeland Security but his replacement, Colin McMillan, committed suicide at his New Mexico ranch in July. Now back at the Navy’s helm, England is trying to kill marine mammal protection. There was a time when the Navy used marine mammals in special warfare operations. Perhaps the torture the Navy wants to visit upon the marine mammals is retaliation for one of the Navy’s special operations dolphins, Takoma, going AWOL in the Persian Gulf last March. During his first term as Navy Secretary, England presided over one of the largest frauds in the Navy’s history. England managed the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet project, described by one senior Navy officer as a complete fiasco and one of the largest cost overruns in the Navy’s history. But why would England do anything differently than what he did as a General Dynamics executive? Contractors like them have written the book on fraud, waste, and abuse. Clearly, England is a bum. He should be fired. Personally, I’d replace him with someone more intelligent, like Takoma, if the Navy can find him.

In the international news section of the Post, there is a story about the bogus presidential “election” just conducted by Rwanda’s dictator, Paul Kagame. Although Kagame has been an effective repressive dictator, his role as a so-called unifier has been a duplicitous failure. For that reason and others, Kagame is a real bum. Chief U.N. prosecutor Carla del Ponte was about to investigate Kagame and his henchmen for their own roles in the genocide in Rwanda and neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. But when her plans became clear, Kagame’s controllers in Washington and London pressured UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to fire del Ponte. When one closely examines who was responsible for the catalyst that triggered the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the Russian SAM-16 missile attack on the plane carrying the Hutu Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, Kagame’s fingerprints might as well be on the triggers of the missile launchers.

Kagame laughably announced he had won re-election as President of Rwanda with 95 per cent of the vote. Kagame must have learned about such election results when he was being trained by the militaries of North Korea and China. After all, Kim Jong Il of North Korea did a hair better than Kagame, winning 100 percent of his vote for re-election with a 99.9 percent turnout. Kagame’s major opponent, his former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, whom I’m proud to know as a friend, claimed foul. The European Union’s election observers claimed there was widespread voter harassment. Every independent minded specialist on Africa’s Great Lakes region said 95 percent for Kagame, an ethnic Tutsi emigre from Uganda, was impossible since 80 percent of Rwanda’s population is Hutu and they would naturally favor fellow Hutu, Twagiramungu. Kagame won as a result of voter fraud even more massive than that committed by the Bush boys in Florida. So, it’s no wonder what State Department spokesman Phil Reeker (oh, what an apt name) said about the bogus Rwandan election. He called the sham poll “an important milestone in Rwanda’s political transition” and that the election went “smoothly and quietly.” Unless Reeker’s kidding, such a statement would make him a bum. He should try and live in Rwanda and see how smooth and quiet things are in a <U.S.-supported> Stalinist dictatorship in the middle of Africa.

On the Post’s Federal Page is a story about the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on the air quality in southern Manhattan in the aftermath of the World Trade Center collapse. The report states that EPA warnings about the potential hazards from the collapse were deleted by the White House and National Security Council. The White House, the NSC, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) deleted information in the EPA report concerning the dangers posed by asbestos, cadmium, and lead in the air. CEQ Chairman James L. Connaughton defended the action, along with acting EPA Administrator Marianne Horinko. They both qualify as bums. They should be fired and be held accountable to all the rescue workers and others in New York who continue to suffer complications from airborne contaminants. As for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who obviously played a hand in the deletions in the EPA report, there are so many reasons why she is a bum. She should have been fired long ago.

On the Op-Ed page is a story about Arnold Schwarzenegger. This buffoon of an actor wants to fix California’s fiscal problem, originally caused by Enron’s contrived energy crisis heaped on America’s most populous state in 2001. I guess Schwarzenegger is going to do for his state what he did for his company, Planet Hollywood–force it into bankruptcy. Yes, if I put on my “Total Recall” hat, I remember he and his two partners, Sly Stallone and Bruce Willis, using their fantastic financial skills, couldn’t turn a profit on a plate of French (err . . . “freedom”) fries and a hamburger. Schwarzenegger, like another Austrian who once left his native country and ran for office in another country in a “fixed” election, is a bum. Hey Schwarzenegger, now that the Red Planet is only 34.6 million miles from the Earth, why don’t you get your “aahss to Mahs” instead of Sacramento? (And please, take your pal Sean Hannity with you).

Finally, on the last page of the Post, there is a story about the State Department’s non-proliferation chief, John Bolton. During tense negotiations with the North over its nuclear weapons plant, Bolton launched a personal tirade against North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il and his government. And Bolton considers himself a diplomat? Of course, he was only following the lead of Bush, who once called Kim a “pygmy,” a pejorative term for the Twa people of central Africa. But it’s now clear that morons like Bolton crossed paths with a seasoned diplomat, Charles “Jack” Pritchard. Pritchard told North Korean officials that Bolton was just running his mouth and his comments were not official U.S. policy. After the enriched plutonium hit the fan, Pritchard was out and Bolton remained. Bolton’s chief ally is Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl. I once attended a Senate hearing and noticed that from the way the light was hitting his face, Kyl seemed to have a short mustache under his nose. His hairline is similar to that of the Fuehrer. But his policies are even more similar than his looks to the former chief of the “master race.” Both Bolton and Kyl are bums. Bolton should be fired by Colin Powell. The people of Arizona will have to give Kyl his walking papers in 2006.

There are other bums in the Bush administration and the list is way too long to consider in this column. But chief among the bums is George W. He actually had the nerve to speak to the convention of the American Legion in St. Louis after having slashed well over a billion dollars in medical benefits to aging and ailing veterans. This AWOL weekend warrior during Vietnam has no camaraderie with such an organization. Every day, more and more U.S. troops in Iraq are placed in jeopardy because of the bungling of Bush and his neo-con advisers: Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, and the others. They are all bums. Let’s “throw da bums out.”

WAYNE MADSEN is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth. He is the co-author, with John Stanton, of the forthcoming book, “America’s Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II.”

Madsen can be reached at: