"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

June 07, 2005

An excerpt from Hal Crowther's Shame is for Sissies:

...It's my impression that the White House has no patience with principles, liberal or conservative, and no respect for people who cling to them. Principle, like shame or irony, is for sissies. Aside from a primitive, invertebrate tropism toward power, I detect no guiding principle in the Bush presidency except the first one young George learned in Texas -- that oil is good and more oil is better.

If the media still hunted with live ammunition, Enron, Halliburton and the energy industry's pornographic profits since 9/11 would be enough to force this oil-soaked, sheik-beholden government to resign. (In disgrace -- remember disgrace?) The first thing every reporter was taught, back when reporters were taught things, is that the best way to find the truth is to follow the money. A student of the Bush presidency watches the money flow relentlessly uphill. Americans who earn over $200,000 a year received 97% of Bush's $1.4 trillion tax cuts, while the money to pay for his hemorrhaging abomination of a war was squeezed from cuts in food stamps, school lunches, student loans and veterans' benefits. Look it up. When shame and irony leave the hall together, no obscenity is inconceivable.

Worse still than handouts to the wealthy is the reprehensible new legislation that blocks working Americans from climbing the hill where the money flows -- laws like boulders rolled downhill to crush the scrambling underclass, the estimated 80 million Americans unable to pay their bills. Think about what it means to limit personal bankruptcies, inhibit class action suits against toxic employers like Wal-Mart, protect chemical polluters (usually oil companies) from liability lawsuits and cap settlements in personal injury cases. It means trying to eliminate what little protection ordinary citizens retain against corporate leviathans that cheat, exploit, injure and poison them, trap them in hopeless jobs, renege on their health care and default on their pensions. It means stripping leverage from the people who have no leverage to spare.

The Bush administration's domestic policies are the blueprint for a new feudalism, a kind of fascist plutocracy. List all the democratic safeguards that separate a working American from a slave or a medieval serf. There are many. Labor unions? Their membership has been reduced by two-thirds since the 1950s, and the White House has them ticketed for extinction. Lawyers? In rightwing rhetoric, plaintiff's attorneys like John Edwards are the devil's spawn. Courts, judges? The radical Right rains fire on responsible judges who resist its excesses and labors to replace them with pro-business reactionaries. Congress? Don't play irony with me. The media? I rest my case. If Bush has his way, the poor man, like serfs and slaves of yore, will have no one but God to protect him. And the religious right says God's a Republican.

While the president chides the Russians about democracy and free speech, he schemes to reward his corporate sponsors with a lucrative new version of slavery. If this, in fact, was a class war, it's almost over, and the losers are being led off in chains. This is more serious than encouraging Fred Flintstone biology while the world laps the US in science education; more serious even than gang-raping the environment and fighting bloody unwinnable wars, launched by lies, that enrich your relatives and cronies. This is selling out America, suffocating its every dream and promise....

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