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The Eight Year Bailout
By David Swanson
Every time there's a new Cheney-Bush scandal, every time we discover that Dick Cheney lied to Dick Armey, or another top Iraqi informed the White House there were no weapons, or another missile kills another large family in Afghanistan, or the wars in Pakistan and Iran get out of control before we'd realized they'd begun, or we discover that Cheney's lawyer signed the Attorney General's name to an authorization to search Democrats' body cavities, or a chunk of the North Pole floats past the Republican convention, every single time this happens … there's a moment of thrilling fantasy in which we can imagine that the American people or their so-called representatives in Washington will snap out of their hypnosis and ship the whole damn kleptocracy to the Hague in wooden crates.
And the same goes for the latest proposal to steal a trillion dollars from our unborn grandchildren and give it to Wall Street. And here I thought the unborn were the only people these fascists did care about!
While I love the idea of clinging briefly to the notion that there really is something new here and that it will wake somebody from their slumber, I secretly have to wonder how exactly this differs from the past seven years and eight months. For that length of time, our government has enthusiastically gone out of its way to provide protection for (rather than from) predatory mortgage lenders, and to treat foreclosures as no more verifiably real than evolution or global warming. In March of this year Bush and his treasury secretary transferred a pile of public money to J.P. Morgan/Chase via the Federal Reserve to assume the liabilities and assets of Bear Stearns at a price not determined in the free market or via public bidding.
But borrowing money and throwing it at the people who least need it began before Cheney and Bush moved into their new public housing in 2001. Remember that Cheney had earlier served as secretary of "defense" and given Halliburton the contract to draw up a plan calling for giving more contracts to companies like Halliburton. Then Cheney had revolved out the revolving door to spend five years as the chief executive of Halliburton, during which period Halliburton had illegally done major oil and construction business with Iran, Iraq, and Indonesia, and had illegally sold nuclear technology to Libya. Cheney had then left his Halliburton job, along with a $33.7 million parting gift, to return to government as vice president, in which position he directed the Pentagon to grant no-bid contracts worth many billions of dollars to Halliburton. For at least two years as vice president, Cheney received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Halliburton in "deferred compensation." Of course, that was justifiable in terms of the public good: society might have collapsed had Cheney not piled up more riches.
But his riches and Halliburton's were a little crumb off the loaf of large-scale looting that has been the primary focus of our government all these years. While Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes called their book about Iraq "The Three Trillion Dollar War," they were being very conservative. If you read their book, you find that incredibly conservative calculations place the amount of money wasted at no less than five trillion dollars, and mounting, with no end in sight. And who gets that money? Well, certainly not "the troops" so cynically used to squeeze it out of those gelatinous masses of spineless goo that go by the name "House" and "Senate." And certainly not the Iraqi people. Nobody's been liberated, and nothing's been reconstructed. Over a million men, women, and children lie dead, but killing them didn't cost five trillion dollars. Most of that money has gone to war profiteering robber barons, the people who handle the financing of the debt, and China.
The as-yet-unsuccessful proposal to give our Social Security savings to Wall Street is part and parcel of this same scheme. The mission of our government simply is to transfer wealth from those who need it to those who do not, and the most absurd thing about this is the number of commentators who claim that George W. Bush is in some way a "failure." Most of us can just be grateful we have so little to lose, and give thanks to Nancy Pelosi for having taken impeachment off the table. She did so on May 7, 2006, and I would like to propose that the next Congress honor her wisdom by legislating a national holiday. Every May 7th from here on out let's celebrate by getting too drunk to stand up straight and going pheasant hunting with shotguns.