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By Bill Gallagher

DETROIT -- Four years of selected rule and now 100 days into his first elected term in office, George W. Bush has created so much madness it will take decades to undo and whoever succeeds him in the Oval Office will face an unimaginable mess. President 44 already is politically doomed. He will inherit a nation seriously wounded.

It's hard to recall a president who's achieved so little with so little and done so much harm. His hallmark domestic and foreign policies are cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and wage a wild, messianic war in the Middle East to impose democracy and nation-build. The results on both fronts are disastrous.

The tax cuts have created debilitating debt and fiscal insanity. Our first president with an M.B.A. should be an embarrassment to the people at Harvard who let this child of affirmative family influence gets a degree. His administration will become a case study in how to squander a surplus, borrow recklessly, destroy jobs and provide a limping economy in the process.

Now, even Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who once pimped for the Bushevik spend-and-borrow scam, says, "The federal deficit is on an unsustainable path," and that will cause the economy "to stagnate or worse." No kidding, Alan. By the way, how did you enjoy your four-year nap?

Others with eyes wide open have long seen the lies and dangers Bush and his Republican minions in Congress have sold as a formula for "growth" and " job creation." Sixteen months ago Bush and Greenspan shrugged off a chilling statement and warning about their fiscal foolhardiness. It came from respected economists Peter Orszag and Allen Sinai, along with Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, a man who actually experienced budget surpluses, a claim no president named Bush will ever make.

They said, "The U.S. federal budget is on an unsustainable path. The scale of the nation's projected budgetary imbalances is now so large that the risk of severe adverse economic consequences must be taken seriously."

We're already experiencing a weaker dollar and higher interest rates as a result of Bush's stroll down the "unsustainable path." We can only brace ourselves and wait for the time when we get smacked with those "severe consequences." It's coming. The only question is when.

An International Monetary Fund report sees great risks in Bush's reliance on foreign investors to sustain his drunken-sailor spending and borrowing. The IMF sees the United States on a course to increase net external liabilities to around 40 percent of GDP in the next several years, "an unprecedented level of external debt for a large industrial country."

George W. Bush is betting America's economic future on the willingness of banks in China and Singapore to enable his debt addiction.

Bush is still on his "Social Security will fail" crusade, willy-nilly tossing out terms like "crisis" and "bankruptcy." Has Bush even used the term "crisis" to describe his own budgets and unsustainable fiscal policies?

He does want to cut Social Security benefits and insists borrowing trillions of dollars more to kick-start private accounts will address the problem. But Bush refuses to consider modestly increasing Social Security taxes, a move that would generate more than enough revenue to keep current benefits intact.

Republican House members, when not trying to hide their Majority Leader Tom DeLay from the sheriff, are helping the White House drain more revenue from the Treasury. At Bush's prodding, the GOP lawmakers voted to repeal permanently the estate tax. That will cost a staggering $1 trillion over the next decade.

The Busheviks peddled the fraud that repealing the estate tax would save family farms and small businesses. In fact, it only touched the super-rich. Ask yourself how many people you have known who have paid estate taxes.

But wait, you say, don't worry about lost federal revenue. The president will show the way and responsible conservatives in Congress will join him in covering those losses with cuts in spending. Bush did propose some modest trims in farm subsidies, but the faux free market right-wingers on Capitol Hill will have none of that.

Bush would love to slash the hell out of Medicaid spending to further burden the poor for his failures, but the Democrats and a few Republicans, to their credit, are fighting that cruel move.

Besides, federal Medicaid cuts only shift greater burdens to state governments whose governors don't have the ability to run up debt. They actually must balance their budgets based on current revenues.

But rather than finding ways to cut spending and stop giving away the store, the GOP leadership in Congress is busy doing the Lord's work and protecting the "people of faith" from the snares of the devil (aka liberals) who might disagree with them.

Although I attended Catholic schools for 17 years and took a couple of courses in Scripture in college, I'm just learning how inadequate my knowledge of the holy word is. All these years I thought Christ's last words from the cross were "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit."

Now, with the inspired scholarship and enlightenment provided by Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson, I know the errors of my way. Forgive me for not knowing the Aramaic -- where's Mel Gibson when you need him? -- but I now know what Christ's true last utterance on Calvary was "My children, end the Senate filibuster for judicial nominees."

At a Justice Sunday gathering -- an event H.L. Mencken would have adored for its righteous fury, fire and brimstone -- the Evangelicals and their Catholic allies of convenience recently had a holy hoedown. At the Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., they attacked the Democrats for using the filibuster to block a handful of Bush nominees for seats on federal appeals court benches.

Dr. Dobson told the faithful that the struggle over Bush's would-be judges is not about politics, the Senate exercising its constitutional obligation and following rules in place for 200 years. No, folks, this is the apocalypse. I can feel the rapture now.

"This is one of the most significant issues we've ever faced as a nation, because the future of democracy and ordered liberty actually depends on the outcome of this struggle," Dobson bellowed.

So, I guess if the Senate rejects the "nuclear option" and continues using the same rules it has for a couple of centuries, democracy and liberty will crumble. Save us, Lord. When the hand-clapping, hooting, Jesus-jumping believers got their bellies filled with that horrible hyperbole, it was time to introduce the apostle of the straw-man argument.

"We don't have to be told to shut up and give it over to the secular left," shouted Bill Donahue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

He took a breath and added, "Who are they to say that I don't have a right to freedom of speech?"

Yes, Mr. Donahue. Who are they? The fact is they don't exist.

He can talk all he wants, and he'll never identify anyone from the secular left who has challenged his constitutional rights. It's easier to play to the paranoid crowd and pretend some lurking, nebulous liberal is ready to pounce and muzzle Donahue.

But the night belonged to Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Karl Rove's favorite theologian brought the crowd to a frenzy, urging them to end Beelzebub's filibuster and preach the word. "We are not calling for people to be moral, we want them to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ," Mohler said.

The following week, Alan Colmes of Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes" popped a handful of courage pills and questioned Dr. Dobson about some other theological views his pal Rev. Mohler cherishes.

Colmes reminded Dobson that Mohler once said, "As an Evangelical, I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is a false church. It teaches a false gospel. And the pope himself holds a false, unbiblical office."

Not wanting to jeopardize his unholy alliance with right-wing Catholics, Dobson ducked the question, whining, "He's a Southern Baptist, for Pete's sake, that's not an attack on the Catholic Church."

The most prominent Republican trying to link himself to the filibuster-fighting Christians was Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a man whose political talents are in reverse proportion to his ambition.

Frist, who clearly wants to be the next president, sent a videotaped message showing his allegiance to the group that brands Democrats as "against people of faith." As Frist prepares to smash two centuries of Senate tradition and rules, he sanctimoniously called for "more civility in political life."

Frist is a medical doctor whose family fortune comes from a chain of private hospitals. He wants no fundamental changes in America's fractured health care system. Dr. Frist attends to a nation where 45 million people have no health care at all. We have the most expensive and ineffective health care delivery system of any industrialized nation.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman informs us that "a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that 20 million working Americans are uninsured; in Texas, which has the worst record, more than 30 percent of the adults under 65 have no health insurance."

Dr. Frist prefers a national system where 30 cents out of every health care dollar goes to pay for bureaucratic bill and payment shuffling, and the big winners are insurance companies, drug manufactures and those charging exorbitant fees for medical services (private hospital chains, for instance). Under the Busheviks and Dr. Frist, a growing number of Americans are being cut off from health care or forced to pay considerably more for medical benefits. At the same time, corporations raking in piles of cash from the health care mess are prospering and financing Republican political campaigns.

The No. 1 reason for bankruptcy in the United States is people facing huge and usually unanticipated medical bills who simply don't have the money to pay. The new law making bankruptcy more difficult was a Bush-Frist ploy to reward campaign-contributing credit card companies and stick it to sick or injured people in the process.

Frist was a true believer in the fabricated reasons for attacking Iraq. As the lies unfolded, Frist ignored the evidence and behaved in the Senate more like a cheerleader than a real leader He's never said boo about the failure to plan for the occupation of Iraq. The terrible abuses and torture at Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan and Guantanamo didn't merit much legislative oversight under Frist's watch. He has shown himself a loyal disciple of Bush's wacky world view.

Bill Frist is wrapping himself around Bush's only real constituencies -- big business interests and the religious right.

George W. Bush already has seriously wounded our republic and no one more deserves the task of trying to clean up that political gangrene than a man whose dirty hands helped cause it -- Dr. Bill Frist.

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is gallaghernewsman@sbcglobal.net.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com May 3 2005