Archive for the ‘Bush and Character’ Category

Romney and Character

May 11th, 2012 3 comments

Romney, as it turns out, was a bully as a teenager:

John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenage son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors. …

“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”

“It was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”

The bullying, and his reaction to it now, are somewhat reminiscent of another recent president, George W. Bush, who branded pledges with a red-hot coat hanger and defended it as being no worse than a “cigarette burn.” (A few reminders here, here, here, and here.)

Romney’s “youthful indiscretions,” however, go somewhat beyond that–leading a gang of youths who chased and tackled a kid, pinned him to the ground, and hacked off his hair while the kid screamed for help–for no better reason than that the kid was different.

Now, people change. People who were bullies as teens often mature and become better people. However, sometimes they only evolve into a different kind of person with the same basic disregard for other people. Like Dubya, sometimes they just get better at masking it.

What would have impressed me would have been if Romney had sat down and given a heartfelt expression of remorse. He could have told about how, when you are found and want to be liked by your peers, you do stuff that you regret later in life. That would not have been damaging to him–quite the opposite. It could have been an extremely human moment, respected by everyone, not to mention a teachable moment, helpful to many teens who might be doing wrong but could be steered right. It would be the kind of thing somebody like me, a person strongly opposed to Romney politically, could have said, “I may not like his policies, but I really respect what he did there.”

So, what did Romney say about violently assaulting a kid for being different?

“I’ll tell you,” Romney said, chuckling, “the thought that that fellow was homosexual was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case. But as to pranks that were played back then, I don’t remember them all, but again, high school days, I did stupid things. … And if anyone was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that.”

Holy crap. Really. My first thought is, this was just one of so many similar “pranks” that he can’t even remember what happened? What else did he do? How many other people did he assault? I mean, seriously, if he cannot remember chasing down and shearing a kid’s hair off while the kid screamed, that’s pretty goddamned significant.

It raises serious questions about his conscience, and shines a clearer light on how he could be proud of the work he did later on at Bain Capital, destroying companies and jobs for profit. What kind of person does even that one thing to that kid–or, as Romney himself admitted, many acts of bullying (excuse me, “pranks”)–that he can’t even remember something so chilling? The incident was so vicious that not only do the other people in his “posse” remember it vividly, but even bystanders, half a century later, have powerful recollections of it.

But then there’s his cavalier attitude toward it today, calling such a thing a “prank”–were I that guy he pinned down and cut the hair off of, I would be livid right now. (Sadly, he passed away years ago.) Worse, Romney said, “if anyone was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that.” “If”?? Really? You chase a kid down, pin him to the ground, and hack off his hair while he screams for help, and you’re still not sure if he was hurt or offended?

Like I said, holy crap.

Yes, In know–it was not his “human” answer, but his “politician” answer. Trying to minimize damage by apologizing and yet not admitting to any wrongdoing. Perhaps it only demonstrates that he’s a piss-poor, tone-deaf politician.

His campaign is also trying to minimize the story instead of dealing with it in a human manner:

“The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents.”

“Off base”? What is that supposed to mean? And exactly how can they know the stories are exaggerated if Romney says he cannot remember them? How can you both claim that a story is inaccurate and you don’t know anything about it?

A man who witnessed the incident seemed to remember it just fine–not to mention, had the appropriate response, years later:

Sometime in the mid-1990s, David Seed noticed a familiar face at the end of a bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

“Hey, you’re John Lauber,” Seed recalled saying at the start of a brief conversation. Seed, also among those who witnessed the Romney-led incident, had gone on to a career as a teacher and principal. Now he had something to get off his chest.

“I’m sorry that I didn’t do more to help in the situation,” he said.

Lauber paused, then responded, “It was horrible.” He went on to explain how frightened he was during the incident, and acknowledged to Seed, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”

Romney denies the attack on Lauber had anything to do with his assumed gender identity, but was known for similar attitudes toward other students–sadly, an attitude apparently encouraged by the school:

But Friedemann and several people closest to Romney in those formative years say there was a sharp edge to him. In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.

One could argue that Romney was simply a product of his environment and his time, and this may be true. It is certain that he has matured and would no longer look kindly on exactly these actions. But there does remain the question of whether he has evolved into someone who does look kindly on adult versions of the same kind of attitude. A disregard for those who are different, a lack of compassion for people in need, a disposition to confirm to the behavior of those in his environment rather than to work from an individual moral base.

People around him are talking about what a swell guy he is. But this means very little–remember, Dubya was described in the same way–in light of the fact that people with serious deficits in morality can easily present themselves as good ol’ boys.

Even more significantly, there is the realization few people understand, which is that most forms of discrimination and harm come from people who not only act decently most of the time, but who sincerely believe themselves to be moral people incapable of such things. Most racism today comes from such sources, as do most of the injustices, some large but the majority small, that happen in the world today.

One must judge people on their actions, not the image they project. Romney’s origins speak somewhat to his moral foundation, but his current casual disregard for the terrorizing he did as a young man speaks far louder.

Categories: Bush and Character, Election 2012 Tags:

Was It Worth It?

April 11th, 2012 1 comment

Iraq did not have any WMD. It was not really any threat to us, aside from possible oil price fluctuations (which the war has helped cause anyway). So the only real benefit was to take out Saddam Hussein, who was not really much of a threat, and actually had a role in stabilizing a powder keg of a nation. Yep, he was a bloody dictator and probably a pretty damned evil monster, but also not too much better or worse than a lot of other dictators around the world, and in that particular region, who we have not removed.

Even in light of the fact that there were no WMD–the putative core reason for the war–many conservatives still say it was worth it, and they would have done it all over again.

How about the cost? A minimum of $1.9 trillion, roughly $6100 for each individual man, woman and child in the United States. The actual cost is probably going to be higher.

So, was that worth it? Had Bush been honest in 2003 and told you that, just to remove Saddam, that you and every other American would have to chip in $6100 (that’s $24,400 for a family of four, no group discount)–instead of what he did tell us, that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the “$70 billion” cost–would you have merrily chipped in?

How about if he told you that it would cost an additional 4,800 or more American lives? And that it would kill at least 120,000 Iraqis along the way?

Is that worth removing a single bloody tin-pot dictator?

Would you really do that again?

Categories: Bush and Character, Iraq News Tags:

Burning Conscience

November 27th, 2010 1 comment

Bush says he tortured because Yoo, the lawyer, said it was legal. Yoo says just because he said it was legal, Bush didn’t have to do it. Both attempt to dodge responsibility for their actions, in a way that suggests they both know it was wrong but cannot bring themselves to admit it. Meanwhile, this petty, self-serving back-and-forth within the context that there’s nothing wrong with torturing people effectively spits upon what was the hallowed essence of our national spirit.

I simply remember a time when America had these things called “principles.” Bad guys tortured, not us. Bad guys started pre-emptive wars, not us. And constitutional rights always outweighed a false sense of security.

That America no longer exists, courtesy of people like Bush and Yoo. May they vacation in London, where at least a few people possess a modicum of sense.

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The Week in Conservatism

November 20th, 2010 4 comments

Sorry to have been quiet for several days; we’re at a very busy time in the semester right now. But it’s been a pretty busy week for conservatives, too. So instead of ten posts, here’s an all-in-one.

This has been a pretty typical week for conservative politics–and yet we see more crazy crap in a one-week span now than we used to see in months way back when. like so much else in politics, the goal posts keep moving.

James O’Keefe is at it again. He started by releasing heavily-edited tapes of conversation with ACORN, eventually destroying the organization despite its being cleared of any wrongdoing, on the weight of faked controversy blared through the Fox News megaphone. Then he and his cohorts were arrested when they went to a Democratic senator’s office and falsely tried to pass themselves off as a telephone repair crew. They attempted to gain access to the senator’s telephone equipment closet–claiming, of course, that they never would have done anything improper once they got in to it. Then he tried to punk CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau because she was doing a documentary on young conservative activists he didn’t approve of; he planned to entice her to board a “pleasure boat” where he would make sexual advances and videotape everything.

So, what is O’Keefe up to this time? He wanted to embarrass another popular conservative target, the teacher’s unions. So he hired an attractive young man to approach 38-year-old New Jersey special-ed teacher Alissa Ploshnick, ply her with drinks, and use leading conversation to try to get her to say embarrassing things on tape so it could be heavily edited and used to discredit her and the unions. They were successful: in response to O’Keefe’s operative’s attempts to steer the conversation, she said it was hard to get a tenured teacher fired (that’s not exactly standard date talk), and gave an example of one teacher who had used the N-word. The edited tape was then made public, the teacher disgraced (she was suspended and lost thousands of dollars in salary), and Republican governor Chris Christie used to to attack the teacher’s unions in a fight to cut teacher salaries, benefits, and tenure.

But what stands out about this sordid smear is the target O’Keefe chose. Ploshnick was not just a random teacher, she is a hero in a very real sense. In 1997, a careening van threatened to run over a dozen schoolchildren; Ploshnick saved them:

Alissa Ploshnick risked her life to save the lives of a dozen Passaic schoolchildren. She threw herself in front of a careening van to protect her students and landed in the hospital with broken ribs, a fractured wrist, a badly bruised pelvis and glass cuts in her eyes. She could have died.

I can only assume O’Keefe will next target Captain Sullenberger in order to attack the pilot’s unions. That’s just the classy kind of guy he is.

Charles Murray, co-author of “The Bell Curve,” the arguably racist and thoroughly discredited book about intelligence, is at it again, once more earning his right-wing credentials. He insists that if you are not a NASCAR-loving, End-of-Days-fearing, game-show-watching American from a rural area who vacations in Branson, Missouri, then you’re exactly the kind of elitist snob that Glenn Beck and the Tea Partiers have been warning us about. You love to backpack in the Sierra Nevadas and gush about exquisite B&Bs overlooking Boothbay Harbor. You isolate yourself, marrying only your own kind, are hostile to anyone below your station, are completely apart from the mainstream America which you disdain, and are “ignorant about the lives of ordinary Americans.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t see liberals going around snubbing others for their lowbrow tastes. Stupidity, yes–believing Glenn Beck, voting against their interests, thinking Fox is balanced journalism, thinking Sarah Palin is presidential material. But that’s judging people by demonstrably poor judgment, and not for where they live, what religion they belong to, what sports they like, or what TV entertainment they enjoy. As many people with bad judgment live in cities as they do farmland, just as many smart and reasonable people live in rural areas as do in cities. As for backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas and gushing about exquisite B&Bs, that’s more hackneyed a stereotype than the drunk, wife-beating, pickup-driving redneck bigot.

The elitism that conservatives constantly whine about supposedly concerns arrogant people who look down on others because they believe themselves to be better than the ones they disdain. Well, guess what: conservatives have cornered that particular market. And Murray is simply exemplifying that in classic style. People like him and Palin go around telling conservatives that they are more patriotic, more hard-working, more deserving, and just plain better, that they’re the real Americans. Which is what elitism is all about–thinking you’re better than others because of who you are, not because of how you treat other people.

Incoming House Republican Andy Harris, who campaigned against government-run health care, throws a hissy-fit when he learns that he has to wait a whole month before his government-run Congressional health-care package kicks in. While running for office, he vowed to “lead the fight to abolish Obamacare.” Is it possible to get more hypocritical than that?

Republicans viciously attacked Obama’s auto industry bailout as “socialist” and accused him of “taking over” the auto industry, as if he were now controlling its every move. If so, then Obama is an economic genius: the industry is back on its feet, GM is now successful and profitable with a fantastic IPO, and due to the bailout, Obama saved 1.4 million jobs–and not burger-flipping jobs, but solid manufacturing jobs for the most part. That goddamned socialist! Well, Republicans laid it all on his door, blamed him for whatever it would bring–and now that it’s being paid back in full and the auto industry is taking off, they have switched to nothing but praise for Obama. </snark> Actually, they’re claiming it was a big coincidence and TARP had nothing to do with it. Seriously.

The people of Alaska liked Sarah Palin protogé Joe Miller and his ideas so much that they did something almost unheard of in American politics: they defeated the official candidate for a safe Senate seat with a write-in vote. Who said that people in rural America are dumb?

Sarah Palin, meanwhile, makes an overture to run for president in 2012–and conservatives in government and the media now seem to be mocking her, with Palin foe Murkowski, winning the “No Shit Sherlock” award for November, saying Palin just isn’t presidential material.

Michele Bachmann says that earmarks are bad except when they are transportation projects in the district of the politicians getting earmarks for them. Which, of course, are the classic definition of earmarks. In short: we get to be the anti-earmark heroes while bloating the budget with earmarks because when we do it, it’s legitimate and therefore not earmarks. Got that?

Republicans, clamoring for deficit reduction, refuse to say they would cut anything that would make a dent in the deficit, and instead demand that rich people get massive tax cuts again, and that is more important than middle-class tax cuts. Because they’re all about the little guy, and, as Rand Paul says, poor people and rich people are so intertwined that there’s really no difference between us. So, when do I get to live in the really nice house of that rich guy uptown, and drive his nice cars? Unless by “interconnected,” Rand Paul meant “in the thrall of.”

The GOP canceled a meeting with Obama because they didn’t like the idea he might upstage them:

The roots of the partisan standoff that led to the postponement of the bipartisan White House summit scheduled for Thursday date back to January, when President Barack Obama crashed a GOP meeting in Baltimore to deliver a humiliating rebuke of House Republicans.

Obama’s last-minute decision to address the House GOP retreat – and the one-sided televised presidential lecture many Republicans decried as a political ambush – has left a lingering distrust of Obama invitations and a wariness about accommodating every scheduling request emanating from the West Wing, aides tell POLITICO.

“He has a ways to go to rebuild the trust,” said a top Republican Hill staffer. “The Baltimore thing was unbelievable. There were [House Republicans] who only knew Obama was coming when they saw Secret Service guys scouting out the place.”

That’s what The Politico originally printed. Since then, they have rewritten the post without note of the revision–considered dishonest by Internet-reporting standards–and in so doing, removing some of the more outrageous claims by conservatives.

Josh Marshall had an excellent rundown of this. Obama did not crash, he was invited. He did not ambush, he was expected well in advance. Conservatives were, in fact, salivating at the opportunity to make Obama look bad, and Fox News broadcast the event–until Obama was doing so well they couldn’t bear it any more, and they cut away early. Obama came with his usual bipartisan outreach, complimenting the Republicans and trying to find common ground; the Republicans asked him sharply partisan questions, sounding like asses; and Obama handled the questions adroitly, making excellent points and sounding reasonable. That’s why Republicans hate him so much for it. They weren’t “ambushed” because they didn’t expect him to come. They were ambushed because they expected to humiliate him, and were shocked to find that this backfired when Obama was reasonable and rational, making the politically motivated Republicans look like dicks.

Speaking of which: Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, accuses NPR of “spouting propaganda,” saying, “They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism.” No wonder he hates Jon Stewart so much–Stewart spoke out against calling people “Nazis.”

McCain (2006): We shouldn’t stop DADT until the military leaders tell us to. Last year, the military leaders told us to.

McCain (2009): That’s not good enough. We need to study it. OK. Study it is. They did the study, and it supports the repeal of DADT.

McCain (2010): We shouldn’t depend on a study, we should depend on the military leaders and what they say. Um, we went over that already. The top military leaders support the repeal.

McCain (2010): We need a different study. We need a study on the effects of openly gay soldiers on morale and battle effectiveness. That’s exactly what they study was.

McCain: We need more study. Maybe some committee meetings and whatever else we can throw in the way. Now, uproot that goalpost and set it back another ten yards. That’s it.

As usual, Jon Stewart laid it out best:

Bush plagiarizes several passages from his memoirs:

Crown [Bush’s publisher] also got a mash-up of worn-out anecdotes from previously published memoirs written by his subordinates, from which Bush lifts quotes word for word, passing them off as his own recollections. He took equal license in lifting from nonfiction books about his presidency or newspaper or magazine articles from the time. Far from shedding light on how the president approached the crucial “decision points” of his presidency, the clip jobs illuminate something shallower and less surprising about Bush’s character: He’s too lazy to write his own memoir.

Why am I not surprised?

One thing the Republicans do right: distribute and follow their hollow and meaningless talking points. They sure know how to get everyone reading from the same page. And it makes for a bit of fun as Jon Stewart runs all the clips together in a bunch to expose how shallow it is. This week’s talking point: time to start having adult conversations. As if (a) they’re the adults, and (b) they really want to do that. It’s kind of like how they claim to be the bipartisan ones right before declaring scorched-earth campaigns when Obama gives them everything they want.

In Case You Bought Into Bush’s Self-Serving Image Repair

November 14th, 2010 1 comment

Okay, national crisis settled. Kanye West backed down from his statement five years ago about Bush not caring about black people, and Bush magnanimously forgave West his horrific sin. Goody.

For something slightly more relevant than whether or not a under-inhibited rapper hurt the feelings of a former president, why not go down to New Orleans and ask the families of the more than one and a half thousand people who died in the predominantly African-American city whether or not they forgive Bush for dawdling for five days before finally sending national guard troops to rescue and assist people and bring materials and support?

It speaks a great deal to the man’s judgment and humanity that he perceives his greatest mistake was to fly over New Orleans and publish a PR image of him looking out the window, and his greatest heartbreak was a rapper’s insult and not the people who suffered and died in the storm and flood.

In the photograph, he said, he looked “detached and uncaring,” as if that was really anything to be concerned about. As if staying on vacation to celebrate his birthday while the crisis raged was an understandable delay, or that waiting for five days before deploying the national guard was a minor technical detail.

Though he repeated it in his current book-selling tour, it was at his final press conference as president that he came up with this insipidly self-serving idea that he could have shown his concern more effectively by landing in the area and having a photo op. In what can only be called an astonishingly heartless attempt to spin the reality, he then acts out painful realization that landing his jet would just have distracted from the rescue effort. The rescue efforts he failed to begin for another three days.

Setting aside the fact that his failure to act, which caused hundreds of Americans to die in neglect, was his greatest blunder, Bush’s humanitarian concern over the potential disruption of rescue efforts is transparently dishonest. Remember the whole “Heckuva job, Brownie” incident? The irony of that unearned compliment is what caught the headlines, but what went largely unreported was that Bush’s photo op halted rescue efforts at a time when dozens of people were still dying every day. Instead, Bush commandeered the nice, shiny helicopters (not being used or serviced during his photo op in front of them) to serve as a backdrop for his heroic PR campaign where he lauded a criminally incompetent crony. Remember, that photo op came just as the guard troops began to arrive and were needed most urgently. Nor was it the only time he held things up. Bush made repeated trips to the area, each time diverting and delaying rescue efforts while lives were still being lost.

Worse, when Bush “came to the rescue” with supplies and equipment, these things tended to stay only slightly longer than Bush did. After he left, the supplies and equipment were pulled out after him, showing that they were for show, not for helping people. Flash but no depth.

And yet, even with all of this clearly recorded and easily available to anyone who cared to look back at it, we still allow ourselves to have the narrative hijacked by irrelevant bullshit like the story of Kanye West hurting Bush’s feelings.

Smart, Dumb… or Something Else?

September 16th, 2009 Comments off

An interesting angle on Bush reported in GQ:

“I’m trying to remember if I’ve met [Sarah Palin] before. I’m sure I must have.” [Bush’s] eyes twinkled, then he asked, “What is she, the governor of Guam?”

Everyone in the room seemed to look at him in horror, their mouths agape. When Ed told him that conservatives were greeting the choice enthusiastically, he replied, “Look, I’m a team player, I’m on board.” He thought about it for a minute. “She’s interesting,” he said again. “You know, just wait a few days until the bloom is off the rose.” Then he made a very smart assessment.

“This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said. “She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let’s wait and see how she looks five days out.” It was a rare dose of reality in a White House that liked to believe every decision was great, every Republican was a genius, and McCain was the hope of the world because, well, because he chose to be a member of our party.

Andrew Sullivan then added:

When the history of the Bush administration is written, Bush may emerge as the sanest of them all. Remember his alleged first reaction to the WMD data: “This all we got?” Or his alleged response to torture: “Do these harsh interrogations actually work?

There’s one more he didn’t cover: when Cheney wanted to push through yet another tax cut for the rich, Bush’s response was, as I recall, along the lines of, ”Didn’t we do that already?“

The thing is, in all of these cases, the observations Bush is reported to have made were not really strokes of genius or anything remarkable. Seeing the actual reports of WMD would have made it clear to even an amateur that the evidence was weak; that torture was unreliable was not exactly a secret; that they pushed too many tax cuts for the rich was remarkably obvious; and that Palin was unprepared was painfully clear.

What marks Bush in these cases is not his wisdom or insight, but instead the fact that he let all of these things pass without acting on them. Maybe there wasn’t much he could do about Palin, but note his reaction when reminded that it was the party choice: ”I’m a team player.“ It seems as if that was his reaction all the time. If he knew the evidence on WMD was not enough, why did he not revise his opinions, or at least not lie brazenly to the American people? If he knew torture was ineffective, why let it happen? If he knew that there were too many tax cuts for the rich, why did he become the spokesperson for their passage?

Maybe I’m being too harsh; it’s not like Bush was, you know, in charge or anything.

These revelations do not say anything good about Bush; in fact, they make him look worse. If you’re president, you don’t do things you know are wrong because those around you say they’re for it; in such cases, being a ”team player“ is worse than immoral. Were he simply a dunce who could be gulled into believing anything, that would be bad. But to know that something is wrong and yet allow himself to be directed to do it anyway, that’s even worse. He was not just a puppet, he was a puppet and complicit. He was in the position where he could have acted, where he could have told Cheney to stop on any one or all points. Instead he willingly acted wrongly, even criminally, at the behest of underlings, as if he had no will power of his own.

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Ending on a Usual Theme

January 21st, 2009 Comments off

Josh Marshall makes a good point; from the start of Bush’s presidency:

Clinton drew the wrath of the Bush team even before the new president took office. … Bush aides steamed that Clinton staged a lengthy farewell rally at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington just as the inauguration ceremony ended.

So, where did Bush go immediately after the inauguration today? To Andrews Air Force Base, where he held a farewell rally among 4,500 friends and supporters, before going back to Texas, where he attended another rally.

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Not the Best Poker Face

January 21st, 2009 Comments off


Is it just me, or does Bush have the worst fake smile on, constantly? Looks like he is clearly not enjoying this, and is doing a bad job of not looking like it. The word “grimace” comes to mind. Ungracious to the end.

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From Where the Threat Comes

January 16th, 2009 1 comment

One boast that comes up again and again from the Bush administration, its supporters, and its apologists, is that they succeeded at one thing: they kept us safe from terrorist attacks over the past seven years. They remind us, again and again, that there has been no foreign terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. And that is true, in that there has been no major foreign terror attack on American soil. What is not true, not even by a long shot, is that this is an accomplishment of the Bush administration, due to any successful policy.

First of all, terrorists attacked the United States in 1993, with the World Trade Center car bombing. After that, there was no foreign terror attack within the United States for the remainder of the Clinton administration. But try to get a right-winger, especially one touting the Bush administration’s “accomplishment,” to say that this was because Clinton effectively waged a war on terrorism. Easier to wring champagne from a dry rock. If Bush accomplished a great feat, then so did Clinton–at far less cost.

But, they will tell you, Clinton let the terrorists lay the foundation for the 9/11 attack. Not true: it was not even close to recognizable during his administration. And when he left, he gave the Bush administration the strongest message possible: Al Qaeda is your strongest threat. And he gave the Bush administration the method with which to fight them: shake the trees, monitor and coordinate all data coming in from intelligence and law enforcement agencies, then investigate all leads. The Bush administration then received, from the intelligence community Clinton had built, a plethora of warnings, clues, and red flags warning them of 9/11. Bush ignored all of these. This was Bush’s fault, not Clinton’s.

But still, even if you accept that Clinton protected us from terror attacks, then you must admit that Bush did as well, right? The answer is no: Bush cannot take credit for the lack of attacks any more than he can take credit for the lack of meteors flattening major cities. Simply because none came, it does not show an accomplishment on his part. Port security, to this day, remains dangerously lax. Our borders remain porous. Al Qaeda remains strong, in fact emboldened from Bush’s policies. Just because there has been no major attack on U.S. soil does not mean that Bush protected us from one.

All you have to do is ask a simple question: what were the planned attacks we were protected from? If Bush did such a great job, then there must be records of terror attacks that have been foiled. But when you look at the plots Bush claims to have foiled, all you have are scattered plots hatched by bumblers and fools, dim-witted radicals who could barely buy their own boots, let alone stage attacks against the United States. The greatest threat was the plot in Britain to carry explosives on planes in water bottles, and yet even that plot was, at best, what is now euphemistically called “aspirational.” The plotters had no explosives, not even airplane tickets. All they had was an idea, and some links to terror groups. And even in this case, the Bush administration arguably made things worse: the British wanted to let the plot develop to the point where contact was made with real terrorists–but the Bush administration, for political purposes, pressured them to break up the plot prematurely, and so people who could pose a far greater threat were not caught.

The fact is, no terrorist plots of any real threat were broken up by the Bush administration. Domestic anti-terror measures remain anemic. The reputation of America has been severely damaged, while Al Qaeda is swimming in a sea of volunteers generated by the Iraq War and images like those from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

True, there has been no attack on U.S. soil–but Bush has obligingly transported Americans that Al Qaeda and others can kill much more conveniently close to home. 2,974 victims were killed on 9/11. However, 4,226 American soldiers (and a number more non-military Americans) have been killed in Iraq over the past five years–the equivalent to another 9/11 and then some. The monetary cost has also been similar, if not worse, to the cost of 9/11. In many other ways, Bush’s Iraq War has cost even more–9/11 did not break our military, nor did it wreck our international reputation and standing–quite the opposite, in fact.

The truth that is inescapable in the end is that far from protecting us, the Bush administration has made us far more vulnerable, far more weak. Why Al Qaeda has not attacked on U.S. soil, when they clearly are and have been very much able to do so, is known only to them. That reason, whatever it is, is the only reason we have not seen a U.S. attack (though we have seen a large number of very deadly attacks elsewhere all across the globe). And whatever that reason is, it has nothing to do with the anti-terror policies of the Bush administration–unless they have been holding back as a means of supporting the disastrous-to-us, but beneficial-to-terrorists Bush policies.

Bush is little else but a pathetic fraud, claiming a lack of evidence as evidence of a great achievement. But he will soon strike a great accomplishment in fighting terrorism: he will leave office and no longer be a threat to the American people, no longer be a fantastic boon to the terrorists.

When There Are Too Many to Count

January 13th, 2009 3 comments

BushkatrinacakeguitarBush was asked at his final press conference if he had made any mistakes and if so, what was the biggest. While Bush did not repeat the “I can’t think of any” boner, one could say that he did much worse. One part of his answer:

I’ve thought long and hard about Katrina — you know, could I have done something differently, like land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge. The problem with that and — is that law enforcement would have been pulled away from the mission.

Wow. You really have to stand back and look at that statement carefully to truly understand the breathtaking lack of humanity involved in what he said.

He apparently was told by somebody that he made a mistake somewhere in handling Katrina, but he just can’t seem to grasp–even now, after thinking long and hard–what he did wrong. I mean, really–land Air Force One in New Orleans?? How stupid is that? It is as if the man seriously believes that the only problem with his handling of Katrina was the bad PR. Not that he had hired an incompetent crony to run FEMA. Not that he could have been better prepared based upon the warnings, which showed impending disaster four days in advance. Not that he could have heeded those warnings and put the National Guard on alert, having them move into position so that they could have been on the scene almost instantly after disaster struck. Not that he could have reacted faster. Not that he should have ended his vacation earlier and sped back with the same sense of urgency to act that he did when the Terri Schiavo legislation needed to be signed. Not that he ate cake and strummed his guitar the day after the hurricane hit and hundreds of Americans died. Not that he could have sent in the National Guard after he finally got there instead of sitting on his ass for five days, five days doing nothing, without giving the National Guard the go-ahead, while the city and many of its inhabitants drowned.

No, he was more worried about how his PR actions affected his legacy. Land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge. That would have fixed things.

But note his lament after this nugget of hindsight, that landing Air Force One (had it even been possible) would have taken away from rescue efforts. As if his decision not to land in New Orleans was a stroke of considered genius. As if he had not, in fact, made exactly that error, as if he had not traveled to the region while people were still dying, while people were still in need of rescue. Witness the CNN screen grab at right, note the pretty, shiny Coast Guard helicopters just sitting there unused so they could act as his PR backdrop instead of being out in the field saving people’s lives. Note the shine on the helicopters–showing that time had been taken to make them look good, time which should have been spent pulling people out of the water or bringing in badly needed food and medicine. Bush acts as if he had not killed many Americans with his photo ops, had not slowed down rescue efforts.

No. Instead, after thinking long and hard, he feels that his greatest error, the biggest mistake of his administration is that he didn’t generate enough meaningless publicity to make people believe that he really cared.

What his answer also shows is that Bush is today far more cognizant of what cost him in the polls than he is of what really were errors of serious magnitude. But, hey, the man’s got to think about his legacy, right? Screw the citizens of the United States of America–let’s keep our eyes on what’s important here.

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The Pettiness of Bush

January 8th, 2009 2 comments

You’ve probably heard about this already: how the Obamas wanted to move into Blair House early so their two daughters would be able to start going to school. Blair House is the ideal choice because it is a secure venue and would be fair easier and cheaper to manage. The Bush White House said: “No.” In fact, they said more than that–they said that they were “appalled” by the request. Yes, how dare the president-elect and his family ask to live for a few weeks in Blair House, which they are scheduled to move into anyway come January 15th, so as to (a) avoid having to move house twice, (b) making it easier for their two little girls to attend school, and (c) save a lot of taxpayer dollars.

Why did the White House turn them down? Because, they claimed, Blair House was “booked” until the 15th. They did not specify, and it seems clear now: they were lying. The only dignitary reportedly scheduled to stay at Blair House is former Australian Prime Minister John Howard. On January 13, Bush will award Howard, Tony Blair, and Alvaro Uribe the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Howard receives it primarily for his backing and loyalty to Bush during the Iraq War. In other words, a last-minute payoff to political allies for their backing in a bloody, unnecessary, and illegal war. Which is so deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Blair and Uribe decided to stay at hotels despite the offer of Blair House.

Still, what’s wrong with booking the house for someone else? Well, first of all, Blair House is huge. It’s a complex of four townhouses with 119 rooms and 35 bathrooms covering 70,000 square feet. You could house four large families there, complete with entourages, in luxurious, roomy splendor, and they would never have to cross paths or even see each other. Every member of each family could even have their own private bathroom. The fact that Bush offered Blair House to Blair and Uribe in addition to Howard clearly demonstrates that the guest mansion is big enough for more than just one guest with entourage. Second, there are reports that Howard was not booked to stay there until after the Obamas made the request, meaning that the White House would not have had to cancel anyone’s stay even if Blair House wasn’t big enough to accommodate a large number of people.

In short, Blair House was not “booked,” it was completely available for the Obamas to move in. Essentially, the Bushes simply and pettily decided to lie and snub the Obama family at the cost of both security and taxpayer expense. Very big of them. Yet another high note upon which to end this administration.

Reflections on Legacy

December 26th, 2008 3 comments

This was no ordinary president. This was a president who was, by any measure, absolutely remarkable. Just not in a good way. This is a president who is now neglecting the worst economic crisis in generations so he can instead concentrate on using the presidential office to “secure his legacy”; while America plunges into crisis, this president is so busy trying to make people believe he did a good job that he’s not even doing his job any more.

But campaigning cannot a legacy make; this president’s actions have already defined that legacy.

This was a president who came to office by stealing an election. Who lost not only the popular vote, by a substantial margin, but who in truth lost the electoral vote: had it not been for an illicit purge of legitimate Democratic voters by an assistant of his brother, the 2000 election would have gone the other way.

This was a president who initially distinguished himself by violating significant international treaties, treaties meant to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. All so he could justify a trillion-dollar boondoggle to benefit corporate interests, a missile defense “shield” which could be easily, naturally, more anonymously, and even more cheaply circumvented by not using missiles to deliver nuclear weapons.

This was a president who, perhaps because of the terrorist angle to the missile defense argument, systematically ignored terrorist threats and allowed the most horrific and damaging terror attack in history to hit the United States. Despite repeated specific warnings about who, when, and how, this president ignored all warnings; despite the arrests of two terror suspects learning how to fly but not land commercial jets, no follow-up action was taken. And then, after the attack, this president shamelessly used the fear it generated to his own political advantage.

This was a president who drove the nation into a three-trillion-dollar war which killed more than four thousand of our troops and hundreds of thousands of civilians, a war which was not only unnecessary, but which even caused things to become worse. A war which was so badly mismanaged that it still boggles the mind. A war for control over the flow of oil. A war which claimed to fight terror but instead benefitted terrorists immensely.

This was a president who reversed our long-standing commitment to a policy of never being the first to begin a military strike.

This was a president who reversed our long-standing commitment to never torture.

This was a president who took a budget surplus, the strongest trend to fiscal solvency in generations, and turned it into the deepest deficit and debt in history, not just through massive spending on a destructive, unnecessary war, but through unchecked partisan pork-barrel spending unlike anything seen before.

This was a president who oversaw the deconstruction of countless jobs, the descent of the American wage-earner, the slow but persistent war against unions and worker’s rights, and the relentless expansion of the divide between rich and poor.

This was a president who consistently, even doggedly, acted against the American people at every turn, in favor of wealthy institutions. He gave tax breaks to the rich and tokens to the middle class and poor, tokens cancelled out by reductions in public services. He gave license to corporations to poison, pollute, pillage, and plunder so as to deprive the people of health, environment, and security. Whenever there was a conflict between citizen and corporation, this president always, without fail, sided against the citizen.

This was a president who effectively repealed the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, denying Americans the right to privacy.

This was a president who effectively violated, weakened, or obviated eight of the ten Amendments in the Bill of Rights.

This was a president who politicized the entire government, appointing people to lifetime positions based solely on their political affiliations and partisan loyalty.

This was a president who used the American soldier to legitimize his actions, but never missed an opportunity to short-change and abuse the soldiery.

This was a president who either ignored the intelligence machinery of the nation or else directed it to whitewash intelligence for political purposes, and then blamed his own failures on them.

This was a president who used fear against the American people, from false frightening threats of nuclear attacks so as to start a war to false frightening terror alerts to win an election.

This was a president who incessantly lied to the American people.

This was a president who let New Orleans drown while he ate cake and strummed a guitar, then halted life-saving emergency rescue operations so he could pose for some photo ops.

This was a president who took more time off on vacation than any president in history.

This was a president who took international goodwill and respect and turned it into contempt, anger, and suspicion.

This was a president who tried to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, and the educational system.

This was a president who left the nation in a state of utter disrepair: a crumbling infrastructure, bleeding manufacturing jobs, an economy devastated by deregulation and neglect, with a debt of literally unimaginable depth.

And this is not even a comprehensive list.

This president need not bother to waste time in his attempt to polish his legacy; his legacy is truly secure and undeniable. Since he seems uninterested in working hard to help fix the economic mess he has helped to create, he should simply be true to his legacy, and spend the remaining twenty-seven days on vacation. Goodness knows that having no president is a far better alternative than having this one.

Categories: Bush and Character Tags:


December 18th, 2008 1 comment

It’ll be nice to have a president who values the people of the nation at least as much as he values its institutions. Over the past eight years, Bush has given far higher priority to energy companies, financial institutions, drug companies, media corporations, so forth and so on. Whenever there was a conflict of interest between the American people and these organizations, Bush always acted against the interests of the people.

In the last days of his administration, Bush is spending most of his time enacting all manner of new edicts which essentially do all the things he couldn’t even bring himself to do before, a massive free-for-all, a giveaway to the fat cats and a serious reaming for the American people. Among the slew of new scandalous decisions: allowing more farm manure runoff, more mining waste runoff, more pollution near national parks, uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, allowing concealed weapons in national parks, allowing religion to be used to deny women abortions, transporting toxic materials through populated areas, allowing truckers to drive longer hours without sleep, giving more freedom to fisheries to damage the environment, and more corporate activity that could kill off endangered species.

Fortunately, there is talk of Congress employing a loophole which could–hopefully–easily repeal all of Bush’s changes in the last two months of his presidency. If not, then this last-minute fire sale to corporate interests, this lame-duck assault on the safety and rights of the American people could prove to be a major distraction for the Obama administration.

At the very least, we won’t have a president who is actively out to harm the American people. As Keith Olbermann noted, it’s almost as if Bush decided, upon his election, to do the most damage to the country possible. Or as Aaron Sorkin put it about a fictional Republican, he’s someone who says he loves America but clearly can’t stand Americans.

They’re Not Seeing Us Off As Liberators, Either, It Seems

December 15th, 2008 3 comments

Bush just isn’t getting any breaks on Iraq. Pretty surprising footage, which you’ve probably seen a thousand times already:

From Bloomberg:

In Arab culture, throwing shoes is a grave show of disrespect. “This is the farewell kiss, you dog,” the man shouted in Arabic. …

The shoe-thrower, who was in a group of journalists, was wrestled to the ground and taken away. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq,” shouted the man, later identified by the Associated Press as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi- owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.

The guy actually had pretty good aim. Though it’s hard to judge, it seems that he might have hit Bush if Bush hadn’t ducked both times. The shoes might have been a little high, though–like I said, hard to judge.

And yes, it’s just one guy, the other journalists apologized, with all the deaths in Iraq it’s inevitable that at least someone would feel this way, etc. But it’s pretty iconic, don’t you think? If this is the footage that gets remembered when we think back about Iraq, it would be pretty damned appropriate.

It’s also a small peek at authenticity in an arena where little is authentic. Everything about Bush and Iraq that the U.S. can control, especially at high-level events like these, is scripted; for real life to intrude like it did here is worth noting because it’s the only thing you can be sure is true to life instead of being some kind of manufactured political play.



The thing to look for is how the Iraqis in general respond. Will they see this guy as a jerk, or will he become an underground hero? My bet is on the latter, which doesn’t bode well for him–who knows what the people in charge will do with him if they consider him a threat to the manufactured imagery.

If you think that all this not really something that’s important or relevant, remember that pageantry is very important with Bush and Iraq. Remember that other iconic moment, from the beginning of the war, where a crowd of “Iraqis” toppled the statue of Iraq? The scene you see again and again whenever a TV program shows a quick succession of images recalling the Iraq War? That even was a pure fabrication from start to finish, one that the media willingly went along with (and still goes along with today).

I see it as wholly relevant, perhaps definitively so: Bush going out not under the carefully staged guise of a patron statesman seeing off a country he liberated, but as a dirt-low huckster with an angry audience throwing shoes at him.

This is the pageantry Bush deserves, and I’m glad he’s getting it.

Categories: Bush and Character, Iraq News Tags:

Re-emphasizing the Re-writing of History

December 2nd, 2008 2 comments

You know those political statements you hear sometimes in which the sheer number of lies and inaccuracies embedded in such short utterance just overwhelm you?

GIBSON: You’ve always said there’s no do-overs as President. If you had one?

BUSH: I don’t know — the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn’t just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that’s not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.

The “intelligence failure.” You have to sometimes wonder if Bush, at this point in time, truly believes the line of BS that he has been spinning all these years about Iraq. Maybe, like Reagan, he actually does; it’s hard to tell. But if you recall what actually happened, the intelligence failure was not at the CIA end, it was at the executive end. Or has everyone forgotten that the Bush administration, fully intent on steamrolling forward into a new Gulf War, (a) completely and intentionally ignored evidence given to them by the intelligence community that said Iraq was not a threat (just as they ignored terror threats before 9/11), (b) spun intelligence reports like political talking points so as to emphasize the propaganda they felt best helped their established political goals, and (c) completely made up crap as the metaphorical whipped cream with a cherry on top–you know, like Cheney’s assertion that our intelligence not only told us that Hussein was 6 months away from completing a nuclear weapon, but that we knew exactly where the Iraqi nuclear facilities were.

There was no “intelligence failure” in the traditional sense, or if there was, it was far less significant than the fact that the Bush administration, as with everything else they were involved in, politicized the intelligence information that came their way, just as they politicized scientific data, the Constitution and our laws, the bureaucracy and the entire legal system, so on and so forth.

The problem with politicized intelligence data: it fails.

“A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein”? Yeah, because you told them so. You were the head cheerleader in that propaganda assault, remember? You were the one releasing only information that led people to that conclusion, remember? You were the one sanitizing even data being given to Congress, and then claiming they made an independent decision on the matter because they saw the same data you did. And, it “wasn’t just people in my administration”?? Listen to this guy cast the blame on others, as if it was everyone but himself–world leaders, the Congress, people in his administration–everyone and anyone but himself. All Bush has to do is utter the phrase “the buck stops here,” and he’ll break irony but good.

As for everyone else having the “same intelligence”? That part is pure fiction.

But Bush didn’t stop there:

GIBSON: If the intelligence had been right, would there have been an Iraq war?

BUSH: Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld. In other words, if he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.

I can’t find an emphatic enough synonym for “unbelievable.” Either Bush really is buying into his own line of crap, or he believes that everyone else has. Bush said this years ago and keeps saying it, even though the facts are so blindingly clear they hurt: Hussein did let the inspectors in, Hussein’s claims that he did not have WMD were true, and it was Bush who yanked the inspectors out.

But note Bush’s re-writing of the question: the question clearly intended to ask, “if the intelligence had been right and shown that Hussein was not a threat”–a question that makes sense. But Bush did not answer that question. Instead, he assumed that the question was, “If the intelligence had been right in that the WMD were actually there, would there have been an Iraq war?” And that question makes no sense–after all, the war was completely predicated upon the fiction that the WMDs were present; if the “intelligence” had been correct, it would have been no different than what happened. Here, Bush must be (a) an idiot, (b) so entrenched in his lies that he literally cannot imagine anything else, or (c) both. My vote is for “c.”

But Bush gets the Academy Award for irony when he answers this question:

GIBSON: Greatest accomplishment? The one thing you’re proudest of?

BUSH: I keep recognizing we’re in a war against ideological thugs and keeping America safe.

Do I even have to explain that one?

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

November 4th, 2008 Comments off

Few people have been paying attention to George W. Bush, and I for one stopped paying attention to his poll numbers after he stalled at 28~30% for several months. Just took a look, and saw that despite a few polls putting him in the 26-to-29% range, Bush has been festering between 20 to 23%. That is the lowest rating for any president in the last 70 years–lower than Nixon when he resigned, lower than Truman’s lowest.

Bush, meet dust bin of History.

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San Francisco Values

July 10th, 2008 3 comments

Reagan got a big airport in Washington D.C. Dubya gets a small sewage plant in San Francisco.

The appropriateness of this designation is so blindingly obvious that it needs no further comment.

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Hoo Boy

May 16th, 2008 3 comments


I’m going to blog more on this later, but Bush & McCain really outdid themselves today with sheer idiocy and hypocrisy.

Really. Imagine Bill Clinton, in mid-2000, going to Israel and comparing then-Governor Bush with Hitler appeasers. Republicans would have gone nuclear with rage, not the least of which would have been at the idea of an American president going overseas and using a foreign podium to slam another American politician.

And then there’s McCain, whose big day was trounced on by Bush’s speech. Personally, I think Bush did McCain a favor by eclipsing his “Magic Pony” speech, in which he’s finishing his first term in office and he presides over a world of winsome faeries and prancing unicorns. All McCain could do in Bush’s shadow was to agree that that nasty Obama man was indeed an appeaser.

And then the wingnuts, apparently attracted to stupidity light moths to flame, chimed in. Reserving further comment for later, I will simply let you watch Chris Matthews utterly annihilate the right-wing talking head as an unimaginably blustering moron. It is literally breathtaking.

Some days you can be so thoroughly stupid that even your pals in the media come out and call you a laughable moron.

Republicans Reinforce Job Discrimination

April 24th, 2008 3 comments

Wow, the right-wingers are really showing their true colors as bigots. They just filibustered (what, the 5,349,816th time this session?) a bill that would make it possible for workers to sue for pay discrimination, essentially killing it. Obama and Clinton returned to D.C. to vote for it, and McCain stayed away, signaling that he would have voted to kill it anyway.

Let’s rehash: this is based upon a scummy re-interpretation of law by the Bush administration. The original law was intended to make it so that if you found out your employer was paying you less than another worker for the same job because you were the wrong gender or race, you could sue them, so long as you filed suit 180 days after the last occurrence of the discriminatory pay. That was obviously meant to be structured so that the 180 day deadline happened after the last disparate paycheck was issued.

In a suit based upon this law, an employer tried to claim that the 180-day deadline started when the initial decision was made to issue unequal pay, taking advantage of wording that was just nebulous enough to allow for that interpretation (if you’re a complete idiot). Co-workers don’t immediately disseminate how much money they make to all coworkers, and employers often strongly discourage (or even try to prohibit) such sharing in any case. Finding such disparity within 6 months of the initial pay difference is so rare to discover that the law would essentially be meaningless under the new interpretation. It’s about as obvious as it can get that this was not the way the law was supposed to work.

The plaintiff, Ms. Lilly Ledbetter, won her case, and all the appeals until it reached the conservative-stacked 11th circuit (a spin-off of the 5th circuit, the most conservative in the country)–whereupon the law suddenly changed to support discrimination. Then the case was appealed to the Supreme Court, and naturally, the Bush administration jumped on the company’s side, filing a brief in support of the bigotry, in opposition to the EEOC’s rational application of the law in accordance with decades of precedence. And the 5-member Republican majority on the Supreme Court voted along straight party lines to uphold the ludicrous reinterpretation that essentially gutted the law. (Message: if you’re a corrupt, lawbreaking corporation, now is the time to get your suits before the high court! Get the payoffs while they last!)

Some right-wingers used the “it’s the law’s fault” defense, saying that they’d like to fight against discrimination, but darn it, the law is just so clearly written to be stupid, we have no choice but to follow it and be stupid ourselves. The Bush administration made no such dodges; they simply claimed [PDF] that once a decision was made to discriminate, a corporation could not be expected to remember that it had initiated such discrimination beyond 6 months, and it would be a travesty if people were allowed to sue after discrimination had continued for years and years. (They even made the deranged argument that the Ledbetter law would discourage allegations of discrimination from being “expeditiously resolved.”)

So if a corporation got away with discrimination for 180 days, then they were home free–untouchable from that point on. As I pointed out before, this asinine view of the law just begs for abuse, and is even institutionalized in posterity if pay increases are decided as a percentage of initial pay levels.

Well, no problem–just re-word the law so that it clearly states the obvious intent. But there’s a big problem–no, two big problems: one, the president–who vowed to veto the reworded bill, and now the Senate Republicans, who just filibustered it to death before it could even get to the president’s desk.

So the conservative wingnuts in all three branches of government have not voiced their intent to let bigotry reign.

Ready to vote yet?

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: the insidious Liberal Media™ continues to call Republican obstruction “blocking” or “denying” in their headlines, even eschewing the correct term “filibuster” in the full text of most of the articles covering this story (the few that there are, that is). They showed no such reluctance to use the word “filibuster” almost endlessly in the far more rare cases when Democrats blocked a handful of the most extremist right-wing judicial nominees.

Oh, and here’s a bonus bit of Republican hypocrisy:

Republicans said Democrats were playing politics, by timing the vote to give the Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, time to return to the Capitol from the campaign trail. Both senators spoke in support of the bill before the vote.

Yes, how terrible that they allowed senators time to vote on legislation. As opposed to four years ago, when Kerry returned to D.C. to vote for a veteran’s health care vote… and the Republican leadership delayed the vote so Kerry couldn’t vote on it. Those Republicans are just pips, aren’t they?

Who Thought History Would Start So Soon?

April 11th, 2008 2 comments

You know how Bush (along with his supporters) likes to say that history will judge him? (No doubt in an attempt to delay judgment till well after he’s dead.) Well, the early verdict is in, and it doesn’t look too good for him. 109 noted historians, among them Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winners, were asked to judge Bush, and fully 61% call him the “worst in the nation’s history.”

However, 35% of the respondents had a more favorable impression, saying that he ranked only somewhere among the worst ten presidents (though a few of those said that only James Buchanan saved Bush from coming in dead last). Others in that 35% credited their generosity to a hesitancy to decide too soon: “It is a bit too early to judge whether Bush’s presidency is the worst ever,” said one historian; “though it certainly has a shot to take the title. Without a doubt, it is among the worst.”

In fact, only 4% of the respondents ranked Bush among the 2nd-to-30th group, and half of them–two historians–dared call Bush’s tenure a success.“

It’s not as if these people did not explain their reasoning, either:

”No individual president can compare to the second Bush,“ wrote one. ”Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.“

”With his unprovoked and disastrous war of aggression in Iraq and his monstrous deficits, Bush has set this country on a course that will take decades to correct,“ said another historian. ”When future historians look back to identify the moment at which the United States began to lose its position of world leadership, they will point—rightly—to the Bush presidency. Thanks to his policies, it is now easy to see America losing out to its competitors in any number of area: China is rapidly becoming the manufacturing powerhouse of the next century, India the high tech and services leader, and Europe the region with the best quality of life.“

One historian indicated that his reason for rating Bush as worst is that the current president combines traits of some of his failed predecessors: ”the paranoia of Nixon, the ethics of Harding and the good sense of Herbert Hoover. . . . . God willing, this will go down as the nadir of American politics.“ Another classified Bush as ”an ideologue who got the nation into a totally unnecessary war, and has broken the Constitution more often than even Nixon. He is not a conservative, nor a Christian, just an immoral man . . . .“ Still another remarked that Bush’s ”denial of any personal responsibility can only be described as silly.“

”It would be difficult to identify a President who, facing major international and domestic crises, has failed in both as clearly as President Bush,“ concluded one respondent. ”His domestic policies,“ another noted, ”have had the cumulative effect of shoring up a semi-permanent aristocracy of capital that dwarfs the aristocracy of land against which the founding fathers rebelled; of encouraging a mindless retreat from science and rationalism; and of crippling the nation’s economic base.“

”George Bush has combined mediocrity with malevolent policies and has thus seriously damaged the welfare and standing of the United States,“ wrote one of the historians, echoing the assessments of many of his professional colleagues. ”Bush does only two things well,“ said one of the most distinguished historians. ”He knows how to make the very rich very much richer, and he has an amazing talent for f**king up everything else he even approaches. His administration has been the most reckless, dangerous, irresponsible, mendacious, arrogant, self-righteous, incompetent, and deeply corrupt one in all of American history.“

And there’s more. But I think that covers the high points.

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