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Signs of the Turning of the Tide

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There are various indications that the tide is running now against the Bushites-- falling poll numbers, legal troubles, defections in the ranks. Slate.com has a new running feature called the 'Bush Abandonment Watch,' which is about how one-time loyal members of the Bushite forces are speaking up about the defects of the regime they've served.

Here's a new sign. The cover story of TIME magazine is called "The Great Retirement Ripoff," and one of its subcaptions on the cover says, "How corporations are picking people's pockets-- with the help of Congress."

This is a most encouraging development, because it has a dimension that is lacking in the others. The falling poll numbers, as I have argued in my piece "Not Reassured Yet," seem to reflect a repudation of the manifest failures of the regime: the war-gone-bad, the debacle after Katrina, the price of gasoline going up while wages go nowhere. And the "abandonment watch" is basically a case of rats leaving a sinking ship.

But this TIME magazine cover story is a different matter. It begins to get to the heart of the corruption and ruthless indifference to justice that have permeated this regime. Not only on the cover, but also within the piece itself, one might get the impression that one was reading not the fruit of Henry Luce's publishing empire, but perhaps the PROGRESSIVE or the RAMPARTS radical mag of old.

The piece quotes Secretary of the Treasury John Snow promoting the president's failed Social Security plan, calling for an ownership society. And then the piece goes on: "Of course, it's much easier to own a piece of America when you have a pension like Snow's. ....Snow was given a lump-sum pension of $33.2 million. It was based on 44 years of employment at CSX. Unlike ordinary people, who must work the actual years on which their pension is calculated, Snow was employed just 26 years. The additional 18 years were fictional, a gift from the company's board of directors...At the same time corporate executives are paid retirement dollars for years they never worked, hapless employees lose supplemental retirement benefits for a lifetime of actual work." And then TIME proceeds to tell about the rip-off of ordinary workers, abetted by Congress passing laws to allow the plunder of the have-nots by the haves.

Finally, the American people may be starting to get the word from the mainstream media about the spirit of insatiable greed, unmitigated by any concern for justice, that has been governing America during this period.

One might ask, however, where were these reports before? Where was TIME magazine while these laws were being passed? Where were these 'Bush abandonment' people, like Colin Powell's deputy-- Lawrence Wilkerson, now so eloquent in describing the fractured decision-making process in the Bush inner sanctum-- when his testimony might have influenced the 2004 election? Better late than never, but much better on time than late.

There's a novel --entitled STONES FROM THE RIVER, by Ursula Hegi--about a German town before, during and after World War II. Among the book's virtues is the psychological acuity with which it describes how, after the war, almost everyone remembers himself as having been among those few who opposed and resisted the regime. In fact, the reader knows from the earlier part of the book, however, that virtually all of them supported the regime happily enough while it flourished and held power.

Perhaps the United States is heading toward its own STONES FROM THE RIVER era. An era of false heroes and self-serving memory. Not altogether noble. But better that than the era that we've been living in.
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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