Democratic Underground

The Kingdom of Thieves

August 21, 2004
By Richard A. Stitt

The unilateral, go-it-alone, every-man-for-himself, preemptive-strike policies of the Bush/Cheney administration have set the tone and the template for the greedy, profiteering, dog-eat-dog slime now ripping off the Florida victims of Hurricane Charley. But it goes much deeper.

With the recent profiteering and price-gouging in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley many people in Florida are now realizing the brutality between a "helping hand" and just plain opportunism and greed.

However, greed is precisely what propelled the Republican Party and the Bush administration into total control of our country. Those who criticize the militant Bush neo- conservatives as overreaching in their quest to transform the world, and especially the Middle East, are accused of being un-American and unpatriotic

Similarly, critics of the so-called market forces and entrepreneurship promulgated by the Ponzi Scheme Wall Street crowd are vilified by the Bush defenders. Surely, one would agree that after 13 cuts by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan in the Fed interest borrowing rate for the corporate fat cats (eleven of them in a row), a $1.35 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest 10% of the population, massive tax breaks and subsidies to corporate giants and agribusinesses, huge defense spending outlays, and an unprecedented borrowing spree, there would be some expected increase in consumer spending and thus a temporary spurt in the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But the truth is most American wage earners have seen their paychecks decrease. Inflation and outsourcing of jobs and cutbacks in pension and health benefits have caused the earnings of the majority of workers in the US to drop, not rise, as it has with the wealthiest 10 percent of the population. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), adjusted for inflation, the income of all Americans fell by 9.2 percent from 2000 to 2002.

One only needs to go back to the early days of the administration to see the initial power grab by the corrupt corporate Republican benefactors such as the Bush/Cheney-orchestrated price-gouging energy rip-off of over $40 billion by their largest corporate contributor, Enron (which eventually went bankrupt to the tune of $63 billion), from the Western states in 2001 to understand the enormity of the biggest swindle in the history of our country under the stewardship of Bush/Cheney.

During that period when Californians were urged by State and local authorities to cut back and conserve as much electricity use as possible, Cheney remarked that "conservation is just a personal virtue" and scoffed at the notion that an increase from $35 per megawatt hour to $3,000 per megawatt hour was anything but "fair and reasonable." And when Bush was asked (begged) by the affected states to order the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to cap the costs and price-gouging, Bush cynically shrugged off those pleas and said that the "market forces" of supply and demand were working as intended.

Thus, the gauntlet was thrown down early by this captious mob of thieves and we have been paying the price ever since. Price-gouging and profiteering, then, have not only become representative of the Bush/Cheney politics of greed, but have become the hallmark of the entire administration both domestically, where our federal budget deficit alone is nearly $500 billion for the fiscal year ending September 30, and in foreign policy, where nearly $200 billion has been tossed down the black hole of Iraq reconstruction with no end in sight.

In an interview several days after Hurricane Charley roared through Florida one person asked, "Why do people try to capitalize on other people's hardship and misery? Of course it angers me. They see an opportunity and, fine, if you want to make a little money. But there's a limit. This is ludicrous."

But nothing has changed since the five activist U. S. Supreme Court justices mandated the installation of the Bush/Cheney junta in the White House in December 2000. Republicans typically disparage the misfortunes of the hurricane victims just as easily as they did when there were rolling blackouts in California and other Western states during the "energy crisis" in 2001. Some claim, as we often hear by the Bush/Cheney deputies on Screech Radio and Fox News Network, that these unfortunate victims put themselves in this position. They go on to denigrate their circumstances, proclaiming that they are just a "Bleeding Heart Libruls" who deserve no "sensitivity" or sympathy for their misfortunes.

G. W. Bush is facing a moral dilemma here since he has clearly demonized the use of the word "sensitive" (even though he used it himself once saying "America should be sensitive about expressing our power and influence") in dealing with human tragedy. Far from the message of "compassionate conservatism" which we heard during the Republican campaign in 2000, he and his sardonic, sneering second-in-command Dick Cheney have sharply criticized John Kerry's use of that word when he described his plans to salve over serious rifts caused by the Bush administration with once-friendly US allies.

The profiteers in Florida have learned well from their mentors. The corrupt Bush/Cheney Camorra and their complicit, rubber stamp Republican-controlled US Congress have dispensed untold and unaccounted for US taxpayer-funded billions in no bid contracts to greedy, parasitic corporations such as Halliburton and their subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root.

In Florida, the price-gouging extortionists and profiteers are now pouncing like jackals and vultures on a decaying carcass. These predatory practices in times past would have been harshly criticized as criminal acts, punishable in our courts of law. But in the world of Bush/Cheney, profiteering at the expense of the less fortunate has been elevated and celebrated as a State virtue in a winner-take-all climate of greed.

In the last lines of Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet, Ozymandias, he wrote:

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains.
Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

On November 2 an opportunity will be available for the voters to cast aside the petty monarch, G. W. Bush, and send him back to Crawford, Texas where he can erect a monument to the breathtaking greed for which he and his kingdom of thieves so brazenly represent.

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