Commentary

You need a scorecard to keep up with the growing number of Bush administration lies, sleazy cover-ups and criminal scandals. This is an administration infested with cronyism, corporate profiteering, corruption and racism, a group chock full of moral degenerates. It’s an ugly portrait of unbridled free-market capitalism, where corporate gangsters have their hands on all the main power switches of government.

The nomination of Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court is the latest in a slew of crony maneuvers. Miers was hired by Bush during his run for Texas governor to “investigate” (cover up) the many politically explosive problems he could face, like his choice placement (and questionable performance) in the Texas Air Guard during Vietnam, his drunk driving arrest, and rumors of cocaine-snorting adventures. “She knows where the bodies are buried,” said one report. What better way to wrap yourself in legal Teflon than to appoint your personal lawyer to the Supreme Court?”

Extra-strength Teflon is what this administration may need. A glimpse of the immensity and depth of the corruption shows it is systemic.

The Iraq war is the mother lode of this administration’s political and moral corruption. Then comes the Katrina catastrophe — the man-made one. Sandwiched between are layers of scandal. The leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name to the press, involving administration big shots Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. The indictments of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The investigation of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for selling stock in his family’s hospital kingdom, HCA Inc., right before its price plummeted. The congressional Government Accountability Office finding that Bush’s Department of Education violated its “propaganda prohibition” when it paid more than $200,000 to conservative columnist Armstrong Williams to promote the lousy No Child Left Behind law.

In a lesser known case, White House budget officer David Safavian was actually arrested Sept. 19, charged with lying and obstructing the investigation of lobbyist and sleaze king Jack Abramoff, a longtime buddy Tom DeLay. The White House had Safavian involved in hurricane relief until he was arrested.

Abramoff is under investigation for fleecing $82 million from Native American Indian tribes and using the proceeds to pay for junkets for Washington powerbrokers. DeLay enjoyed several Abramoff junkets, sunning himself on the Marianas Islands, a haven for sweatshops, and golfing in Scotland. Christian Coalition architect Ralph Reed and no-taxes-on-the-rich-and-strangle-the-government guru Grover Norquist also enjoyed Abramoff’s trips.

Abramoff is under indictment for a casino deal that has a gangland-style murder attached to it. Business associates of Abramoff have been arrested in connection with the murder of the owner of a casino that was purchased by Abramoff and a partner.

The Bush group proclaims that they represent “family values” and have “moral authority,” but their crimes would make the Gambino crime family blush.

At the same time, their ultra-right policies have put capitalism on steroids. Oil companies and banks are awash in profits, while gas prices are rising along with the federal deficit, poverty, unemployment, personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures. A war is raging, the Gulf Coast and the entire country’s infrastructure need rebuilding, and environmental degradation is being encouraged.

This is not a Hollywood movie conspiracy, neatly planned and coordinated by some neo-con boys in a back room. It is the real-life workings of a corrupt corporate-run government. It is the opposite of democracy.

What happens next depends as much upon the fighting mood of the people as anything else. In the complex calculus of politics, the build-up of such scandals, in and of itself, doesn’t automatically lead to a tipping point in the balance of power. For there to be a qualitative change, the ingredient of mass struggle must be added. During Watergate, it was mass struggle and public opinion that turned the tide against Richard Nixon as much as any revelations.

The beginnings of a new mass upsurge are apparent in the march of 350,000 Americans on Sept. 24 to end the war, the more than 350 people arrested in nonviolent civil disobedience and the 1,000-strong lobbying effort on Sept. 26. The outpouring of support for Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan and the falling approval ratings for the president and Republican-controlled Congress confirm the mass struggle potential.

“Impeachment” is beginning to be heard more. Progressive Democrats of America and others are strategizing to take back Congress from the ultra right GOP in 2006.

Worried Republicans are beginning to turn on each other. One pollster said they have “much to fear about the year ahead.” Some in the GOP are preparing for defeats in 2006.

Can the Bush administration withstand this build-up of negatives? Mass struggle and grassroots organizing to expand and deepen the anti-ultra-right coalition will help tip the scales.

Terrie Albano (talbano@pww.org) is editor of the
People’s Weekly World.

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