|jazzoLOG: Pray For George Bush|
41 comments4 Jan 2009 @ 20:59 by quinty : Yeop
and a week or two or so ago Bush advised Obama that being president is "an enormous experience." As if it will all be about him, his experience, not about the American people, or the world. For that’s how Bush sees his own eight years.
Indeed, to understand what has happened to us and to the world over the past eight years it is necessary to understand Bush’s shallowness. Without that it couldn’t have happened.
Evil? His failures were more about the banality of stupidity than any dark mysterious forces at work
4 Jan 2009 @ 21:05 by jazzolog : KaChing
Let's remember some people made millions, billions off this Administration. Those people are precisely the people the Administration wanted to get the money. From that standpoint, the Bush Regime has been a complete success. Anybody hear any laughter on the way to the BANK?
4 Jan 2009 @ 23:47 by quinty : In
the grossest and crudest manner.
They were so greedy they didn't even leave any chicken bones for the scavengers following them. Or a hen house for the rest of us.
Some sages claim this is the end of Capitalism as we know it. Really? Will greed die away and will common sense take its place? Or will this only result in a temporary respite the way the so-called Progressive Era and the New Deal and the aborted War on Poverty did?
After all, the crude form of Capitalism Bush practiced has its roots in the Founders. Some ingrained things don't easily disappear. And greed itself is a powerful force. Bush, being surrounded by powerful friends, apparently thought he was covered.
5 Jan 2009 @ 15:43 by quinty : Regarding
the Krugman post, which hasn't appeared here yet: that's some nightmare scenario.
And in the meantime the Republicans are still talking about tax cuts. My god, this blind inmovable mantra covering all our economic needs and problems has helped bring us here. Don't they realize taxes are good? That taxes bring us roads, schools, parks, libraries, fire and police services, and, hopefully, some day universal healthcare? Why, taxes have even been known to bail out a failing corporation or two.
And dig just beneath this unshakeable holy belief in tax cutting and what do we always find? Why, the greed of the rich. That's where this holy doctrine of Capitalism originated from - having been developed and refined over the decades and centuries into the status of holy scripture it has now.
5 Jan 2009 @ 16:53 by jazzolog : Krugman
I couldn't access this site this morning. I'll post today's column at the previous entry I think.
5 Jan 2009 @ 18:23 by vaxen : ...
5 Jan 2009 @ 22:44 by vaxen : ...
6 Jan 2009 @ 00:48 by Quinty @18.104.22.168 : Now Vax,
you know that was just a joke?
Vaxen apparently has decided to edit jazzoLOG so as to sabotage any threads in which he has appeared over the last few months, and make replies implausible. It is an adolescent approach to life.
6 Jan 2009 @ 07:03 by vaxen : ...
6 Jan 2009 @ 10:27 by jazzolog : Still Arguing About Climate Change?
If it's true, certainly there's nothing more important. Where I live, people still want to decide for themselves by stepping out the door, glancing around, and saying, "OK, this looks like January to me." But we don't live in Greenland, New Zealand, Alaska---and some say lots of people there don't seem to mind if it's warmer.
Is there really any room left for discussion about this? In the current Foreign Policy journal, Bill McKibben collects the arguments and delivers a brilliant update. Print it out and carry it around for the next mocking comments you encounter from friends, relatives or at work~~~
Think Again: Climate Change
By Bill McKibben
Act now, we’re told, if we want to save the planet from a climate catastrophe. Trouble is, it might be too late. The science is settled, and the damage has already begun. The only question now is whether we will stop playing political games and embrace the few imperfect options we have left.
“Scientists Are Divided”
No, they’re not. In the early years of the global warming debate, there was great controversy over whether the planet was warming, whether humans were the cause, and whether it would be a significant problem. That debate is long since over. Although the details of future forecasts remain unclear, there’s no serious question about the general shape of what’s to come.
Every national academy of science, long lists of Nobel laureates, and in recent years even the science advisors of President George W. Bush have agreed that we are heating the planet. Indeed, there is a more thorough scientific process here than on almost any other issue: Two decades ago, the United Nations formed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and charged its scientists with synthesizing the peer-reviewed science and developing broad-based conclusions. The reports have found since 1995 that warming is dangerous and caused by humans. The panel’s most recent report, in November 2007, found it is “very likely” (defined as more than 90 percent certain, or about as certain as science gets) that heat-trapping emissions from human activities have caused “most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century.”
If anything, many scientists now think that the IPCC has been too conservative—both because member countries must sign off on the conclusions and because there’s a time lag. Its last report synthesized data from the early part of the decade, not the latest scary results, such as what we’re now seeing in the Arctic.
In the summer of 2007, ice in the Arctic Ocean melted. It melts a little every summer, of course, but this time was different—by late September, there was 25 percent less ice than ever measured before. And it wasn’t a one-time accident. By the end of the summer season in 2008, so much ice had melted that both the Northwest and Northeast passages were open. In other words, you could circumnavigate the Arctic on open water. The computer models, which are just a few years old, said this shouldn’t have happened until sometime late in the 21st century. Even skeptics can’t dispute such alarming events.
“We Have Time”
Wrong. Time might be the toughest part of the equation. That melting Arctic ice is unsettling not only because it proves the planet is warming rapidly, but also because it will help speed up the warming. That old white ice reflected 80 percent of incoming solar radiation back to space; the new blue water left behind absorbs 80 percent of that sunshine. The process amps up. And there are many other such feedback loops. Another occurs as northern permafrost thaws. Huge amounts of methane long trapped below the ice begin to escape into the atmosphere; methane is an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Such examples are the biggest reason why many experts are now fast-forwarding their estimates of how quickly we must shift away from fossil fuel. Indian economist Rajendra Pachauri, who accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Al Gore on behalf of the IPCC, said recently that we must begin to make fundamental reforms by 2012 or watch the climate system spin out of control; NASA scientist James Hansen, who was the first to blow the whistle on climate change in the late 1980s, has said that we must stop burning coal by 2030. Period.
All of which makes the Copenhagen climate change talks that are set to take place in December 2009 more urgent than they appeared a few years ago. At issue is a seemingly small number: the level of carbon dioxide in the air. Hansen argues that 350 parts per million is the highest level we can maintain “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.” But because we’re already past that mark—the air outside is currently about 387 parts per million and growing by about 2 parts annually—global warming suddenly feels less like a huge problem, and more like an Oh-My-God Emergency.
“Climate Change Will Help as Many Places as It Hurts”
Wishful thinking. For a long time, the winners-and-losers calculus was pretty standard: Though climate change will cause some parts of the planet to flood or shrivel up, other frigid, rainy regions would at least get some warmer days every year. Or so the thinking went. But more recently, models have begun to show that after a certain point almost everyone on the planet will suffer. Crops might be easier to grow in some places for a few decades as the danger of frost recedes, but over time the threat of heat stress and drought will almost certainly be stronger.
A 2003 report commissioned by the Pentagon forecasts the possibility of violent storms across Europe, megadroughts across the Southwest United States and Mexico, and unpredictable monsoons causing food shortages in China. “Envision Pakistan, India, and China—all armed with nuclear weapons—skirmishing at their borders over refugees, access to shared rivers, and arable land,” the report warned. Or Spain and Portugal “fighting over fishing rights—leading to conflicts at sea.”
Of course, there are a few places we used to think of as possible winners—mostly the far north, where Canada and Russia could theoretically produce more grain with longer growing seasons, or perhaps explore for oil beneath the newly melted Arctic ice cap. But even those places will have to deal with expensive consequences—a real military race across the high Arctic, for instance.
Want more bad news? Here’s how that Pentagon report’s scenario played out: As the planet’s carrying capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies would reemerge. The report refers to the work of Harvard archaeologist Steven LeBlanc, who notes that wars over resources were the norm until about three centuries ago. When such conflicts broke out, 25 percent of a population’s adult males usually died. As abrupt climate change hits home, warfare may again come to define human life. Set against that bleak backdrop, the potential upside of a few longer growing seasons in Vladivostok doesn’t seem like an even trade.
“It’s China’s Fault”
Not so much. China is an easy target to blame for the climate crisis. In the midst of its industrial revolution, China has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest carbon dioxide producer. And everyone has read about the one-a-week pace of power plant construction there. But those numbers are misleading, and not just because a lot of that carbon dioxide was emitted to build products for the West to consume. Rather, it’s because China has four times the population of the United States, and per capita is really the only way to think about these emissions. And by that standard, each Chinese person now emits just over a quarter of the carbon dioxide that each American does. Not only that, but carbon dioxide lives in the atmosphere for more than a century. China has been at it in a big way less than 20 years, so it will be many, many years before the Chinese are as responsible for global warming as Americans.
What’s more, unlike many of their counterparts in the United States, Chinese officials have begun a concerted effort to reduce emissions in the midst of their country’s staggering growth. China now leads the world in the deployment of renewable energy, and there’s barely a car made in the United States that can meet China’s much tougher fuel-economy standards.
For its part, the United States must develop a plan to cut emissions—something that has eluded Americans for the entire two-decade history of the problem. Although the U.S. Senate voted down the last such attempt, Barack Obama has promised that it will be a priority in his administration. He favors some variation of a “cap and trade” plan that would limit the total amount of carbon dioxide the United States could release, thus putting a price on what has until now been free.
Despite the rapid industrialization of countries such as China and India, and the careless neglect of rich ones such as the United States, climate change is neither any one country’s fault, nor any one country’s responsibility. It will require sacrifice from everyone. Just as the Chinese might have to use somewhat more expensive power to protect the global environment, Americans will have to pay some of the difference in price, even if just in technology. Call it a Marshall Plan for the environment. Such a plan makes eminent moral and practical sense and could probably be structured so as to bolster emerging green energy industries in the West. But asking Americans to pay to put up windmills in China will be a hard political sell in a country that already thinks China is prospering at its expense. It could be the biggest test of the country’s political maturity in many years.
“Climate Change Is an Environmental Problem”
Not really. Environmentalists were the first to sound the alarm. But carbon dioxide is not like traditional pollution. There’s no Clean Air Act that can solve it. We must make a fundamental transformation in the most important part of our economies, shifting away from fossil fuels and on to something else. That means, for the United States, it’s at least as much a problem for the Commerce and Treasury departments as it is for the Environmental Protection Agency.
And because every country on Earth will have to coordinate, it’s far and away the biggest foreign-policy issue we face. (You were thinking terrorism? It’s hard to figure out a scenario in which Osama bin Laden destroys Western civilization. It’s easy to figure out how it happens with a rising sea level and a wrecked hydrological cycle.)
Expecting the environmental movement to lead this fight is like asking the USDA to wage the war in Iraq. It’s not equipped for this kind of battle. It may be ready to save Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is a noble undertaking but on a far smaller scale. Unless climate change is quickly de-ghettoized, the chances of making a real difference are small.
“Solving It Will Be Painful”
It depends. What’s your definition of painful? On the one hand, you’re talking about transforming the backbone of the world’s industrial and consumer system. That’s certainly expensive. On the other hand, say you manage to convert a lot of it to solar or wind power—think of the money you’d save on fuel.
And then there’s the growing realization that we don’t have many other possible sources for the economic growth we’ll need to pull ourselves out of our current economic crisis. Luckily, green energy should be bigger than IT and biotech combined.
Almost from the moment scientists began studying the problem of climate change, people have been trying to estimate the costs of solving it. The real answer, though, is that it’s such a huge transformation that no one really knows for sure. The bottom line is, the growth rate in energy use worldwide could be cut in half during the next 15 years and the steps would, net, save more money than they cost. The IPCC included a cost estimate in its latest five-year update on climate change and looked a little further into the future. It found that an attempt to keep carbon levels below about 500 parts per million would shave a little bit off the world’s economic growth—but only a little. As in, the world would have to wait until Thanksgiving 2030 to be as rich as it would have been on January 1 of that year. And in return, it would have a much-transformed energy system.
Unfortunately though, those estimates are probably too optimistic. For one thing, in the years since they were published, the science has grown darker. Deeper and quicker cuts now seem mandatory.
But so far we’ve just been counting the costs of fixing the system. What about the cost of doing nothing? Nicholas Stern, a renowned economist commissioned by the British government to study the question, concluded that the costs of climate change could eventually reach the combined costs of both world wars and the Great Depression. In 2003, Swiss Re, the world’s biggest reinsurance company, and Harvard Medical School explained why global warming would be so expensive. It’s not just the infrastructure, such as sea walls against rising oceans, for example. It’s also that the increased costs of natural disasters begin to compound. The diminishing time between monster storms in places such as the U.S. Gulf Coast could eventually mean that parts of “developed countries would experience developing nation conditions for prolonged periods.” Quite simply, we’ve already done too much damage and waited too long to have any easy options left.
“We Can Reverse Climate Change”
If only. Solving this crisis is no longer an option. Human beings have already raised the temperature of the planet about a degree Fahrenheit. When people first began to focus on global warming (which is, remember, only 20 years ago), the general consensus was that at this point we’d just be standing on the threshold of realizing its consequences—that the big changes would be a degree or two and hence several decades down the road. But scientists seem to have systematically underestimated just how delicate the balance of the planet’s physical systems really is.
The warming is happening faster than we expected, and the results are more widespread and more disturbing. Even that rise of 1 degree has seriously perturbed hydrological cycles: Because warm air holds more water vapor than cold air does, both droughts and floods are increasing dramatically. Just look at the record levels of insurance payouts, for instance. Mosquitoes, able to survive in new places, are spreading more malaria and dengue. Coral reefs are dying, and so are vast stretches of forest.
None of that is going to stop, even if we do everything right from here on out. Given the time lag between when we emit carbon and when the air heats up, we’re already guaranteed at least another degree of warming.
The only question now is whether we’re going to hold off catastrophe. It won’t be easy, because the scientific consensus calls for roughly 5 degrees more warming this century unless we do just about everything right. And if our behavior up until now is any indication, we won’t.
Bill McKibben is scholar in residence at Middlebury College and author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (New York: Times Books, 2007).
6 Jan 2009 @ 12:17 by martha : I don't want to pray
for George Bush. Instead i am going to pray that his brother never gets elected president!!!!!
6 Jan 2009 @ 17:18 by jazzolog : Ordinarily
I don't interrupt my workday to post replies to something I send out in the early morning. But there is an urgency to this issue, and it's reflected in the messages I received. (And thank you Martha, your reponse is urgent too!) The first comes from Bob Sheak, retired OU professor in sociology and anthropology~~~
Some thoughts on the McKibben article.
Despite the challenges and arguments that stand in the way of sensible climate-change policy, McKibben believes that the evidence clearly justifies the need for such policy. But McKibben and others are not content just to wait for government policies that will do the job, though perhaps Krugman's "Depression Economics," reflected to some extent in Obama's proposed stimulus package, may have some positive effect.
In his book (Deep Economy) and articles, Bill McKibben identifies communities around the world that are making strides toward "self-sufficiency" and developing what may become sustainable places to live in a world that is besieged by ever-mounting environmental crises. He thinks that these communities may serve as models for others to follow. The big question is whether we will have enough time for such models to spread and gradually supercede our environmentally-devastating practices through appropriate policies at the national and international levels? Still, he suggests, the survival of some communities is better than nothing.
Richard Heinberg documents "a frightening array of peaks" that threaten human survival. He lists the following: population, grain production (total and per capita), uranium production, climate stability, fresh water availability per capita, arable land in agricultural production, wild fish harvests, and yearly extraction of some metals and minerals (including copper, platinum, silver, gold, and zinc)."
Like McKibben, Heinberg has, nonetheless, not lost some sense of optimism about our ability to survive, and also believes that sustainable changes may first occur in local places around the world and then be emulated by others. In a chapter titled, "A Letter From the Future," Heinberg writes about a world that has surmounted the challenges it faced in our time and how it happened.
"Speaking of physics, maybe I should mention that I've come to accept a view of history based on what I've read about chaos theory. According to this theory, in chaotic systems small changes initial conditions can lead to big changes in outcome. Well, human societies and history are chaotic systems. Even though most of what people do is determined by material circumstances, they still have some wiggle room, and what they do with that can make a significant difference down the line. In retrospect, it appears that human survival in the 21st century hinged on many small and seemingly insignificant efforts by marginalized individuals and groups in the 20th century. The anti-nuclear movement, the conservation movement,the anti-biotech movement, the organic food and gardening movements, indigenous people's resistance movements, and the tiny organizations devoted to seed saving - all had a profound and positive impact on later events" (p. 184).
As Bob Whealey noted in one of his emails, it's important to keep hope alive. McKibben and Heinberg and scores of others who grasp the grave meaning of the deteriorating conditions around us also want to "keep hope alive."
Vandana Shiva puts it in more stark terms. We have a choice. She writes in her book, Soil Not Oil: "Climate chaos, brutal economic inequality, and social disintegration are jointly pushing human communities to the brink. We can either let the process of destruction, disintegration, and extermination continue unchallenged or we can unleash our creative energies to make systemic change and reclaim our future as a species, as part of the earth family. We can either keep sleepwalking to extinction or wake up to the potential of the planet and ourselves" (p. 144).
Hope and the call for action are good. Success stories and community models for change are good. Challenging arguments for the status quo with the best evidence is necessary. Policymakers who want money for a green economy in the Obama stimulus package are good. Still, will it all be enough? Or are we grasping at straws? Might we be in for a period of continuous patching of a system that is essentially unsustainable and that will eventually collapse? Or, alternatively, might it be feasible to make transformative systemic change, domestically and internationally, in time? Probably not.
The second comes from my wife Dana, and refers us to a letter James and Anniek Hansen have sent to Barack and Michelle Obama~~~
Dear Barack and Michelle
An open letter to the president and first lady from the nation's top climate scientist
This is a guest post by noted NASA climate scientist James Hansen.
29 December 2008
Michelle and Barack Obama
Chicago and Washington, D.C. United States of America
Dear Michelle and Barack,
We write to you as fellow parents concerned about the Earth that will be inherited by our children, grandchildren, and those yet to be born.
Barack has spoken of "a planet in peril" and noted that actions needed to stem climate change have other merits. However, the nature of the chosen actions will be of crucial importance.
We apologize for the length of this letter.
6 Jan 2009 @ 21:17 by quinty : Obama on the big issues
So far, Obama has been disappointing on many scores. Let’s hope on this one he is quite serious. I suppose many of us are waiting to see how he actually does on the truly major problems facing the world before judging. The economy, the Middle East, and, of course, global warming.
Hoping he will be able to deal with these problems may be why so many of us are giving him a pass. (Or I may only be speaking for myself.)
Did anyone catch Olbermann’s interview with Hillary Mann Leverett last night? She and her husband are both excellent on the subject of the Middle East. I found this interview eye opening though you may be more aware of what's going on than I.
[link] For the Youtube clip.
What are we to make of this? That Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh are crooning their praises for Obama is disconcerting. After all, it’s just as important to have the right enemies as the right friends, isn’t it? But then nearly everyone is praising him. Somebody will have to be let down, though let's hope it's not on the major issues. (Sorry the clip off topic.)
Well, we’ll see.
6 Jan 2009 @ 21:30 by quinty : There actually IS
a possibility science may be wrong.
But isn't it highly more possible those who use this argument to debunk science are rationalizing their own point of view?
And, once again, we should always look at the distant roots of many of these opinions, which are as fluid as water meandering down a hillside.
Remember how big and small business alike resisted environmental reforms? How those who wanted to protect old growth forests were called "tree huggers?" How industry wanted to use rivers to carry off its waste? On and on. And on a basic cultural level, rightwingers hated “hippie” spotted owl lovers? All that still lingers on.
BS often has a grain of truth. Just enough to legitimize the BS, to allow those offering it to rhetorically anchor themselves firmly. True, science may be wrong. It has been in the past - remember that ice age which scientists predicted a couple of decades ago?
But what if they’re not? And since when do we have the right to use the earth and the waters around us as an enormous toxic sewage dump for all our waste? And believe we can do so without paying the consequences?
7 Jan 2009 @ 18:49 by jazzolog : I Wonder Who Left The Tip
and who picked up the tab?
President-elect Barack Obama is welcomed by President George W. Bush for a luncheon meeting at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, with former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
7 Jan 2009 @ 19:41 by Quinty @22.214.171.124 : And
how much was the tip?
8 Jan 2009 @ 16:30 by jazzolog : If You Thought Frank Rich Nailed It
get a load of William Rivers Pitt's farewell~~~
The Greatest Greatness of George W. Bush
Wednesday 07 January 2009
by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Take me down little Susie, take me down
I know you think you're the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won't forget to put roses on your grave ...
- The Rolling Stones
To: George W. Bush
From: Your biggest fan
Re: Your imminent unemployment
Greetings, Mr. Bush.
I was sorry to hear about the passing of your cat, India. Eighteen years is a long time for a cat - my mother has one that's 20 and still going strong, if you can believe it - and I'm sure India had a comfortable, caring life with your family.
I got to spend part of last weekend with an old friend of mine. He's a bit older than 18, and he's also a troop who recently rotated back from a tour in Falluja. He just had a baby daughter, and he will be sent to Afghanistan before too much longer. He did his duty in Iraq, dealt his share of death and saw his friends die or be ripped to shreds right in front of him.
He was hollow in a lot of places that had been full before he went to Iraq. He was not the same man we'd said farewell to. But he was alive, and if he survives his upcoming Afghanistan tour, maybe he will get the chance to have a long, comfortable, caring life with his family, just like little India.
At present, my friend's life is the polar opposite of comfortable, and he still has Kabul waiting for him just over the horizon. His life is the way it is because of you, Mr. Bush. You have been the single greatest influence upon his time in this world; you put him over there and hollowed him out, and because of you, it's about to happen again. You were the single biggest influence upon the lives of every person he knew over there, every person he saw over there, and every person he killed over there.
It's funny. I was thinking the other day about when I marched in one of the first large-scale post-inauguration protests against you in Washington, DC. It was May of 2001, it was The Voter's Rights March to Restore Democracy, and it was a few thousand people shouting down the unutterably ruinous Supreme Court decision which unleashed, just as we then feared, everything that has since come to pass. "Not my president!" we bellowed. "Not my president!"
It's funny because that memory seems so very quaint to me now. A stolen election? Pfff. To paraphrase a different president, Americans get scarier stuff than that free with their breakfast cereal nowadays. Thanks to you, governor.
My All-Time-Grand-Prize-Bull-Goose-Gold-Medal-Winning Top Five list of what you've done, in no particular order, and in my own humble opinion:
1. You were warned by the outgoing administration when you first took office. You were warned by the Russians. You were warned by the Israelis. You were warned by the Germans. You were warned in a memo given to you by your own National Security Adviser. You were warned by men like Richard Clarke. You were warned all those times that Osama bin Laden intended to strike the United States, and still the Towers came down.
(All those people working on that Legacy Project of yours should go back to bed, by the way; they are trying to salvage the unsalvageable. You protected us, they claim? Ha. You're 0-1 on terrorism and 0-2 on war)
2. Less than a month after those Towers came down, a reporter asked what you thought we should do. "We need to counter the shockwave of the evildoer," you replied, "by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates." I happened to be watching television and heard you say that live into a camera. The only reason I didn't throw up on myself is because my teeth were clenched too tightly for the vomit to pass my lips. I swallowed hard, grabbed a pen, and wrote down what you said and when you said it. It was October 4, 2001, just after nine in the morning. You'd like people to remember you standing on that pile of rubble in Manhattan, you with the bullhorn and the heroic pose. I, however, will always remember you pitching tax cuts to a devastated nation while a pall of poison smoke still hung in the air over Ground Zero.
3. A few years later, you wanted hundreds of billions of dollars diverted from other areas of the federal budget and into your war in Iraq. You took more than $70 billion out of the budget used by the Army Corps of Engineers in Louisiana to fund the repair and maintenance of the New Orleans levee system. Katrina struck not long after you took that money and poured it into the sand, and the levees failed for lack of funded upkeep. Through this, along with your disinterested disinclination to help your own countrymen in their hour of darkest need, you played the very last note for that old, sad, lost American city. Reflected in those actions are the same budgetary priorities that motivated you to turn Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the hospital where I was born, into an abattoir of suffering and neglect for the wounded soldiers you tore apart for a lie.
4. You let Dick "Crazy-Eyes" Cheney do whatever the hell he wanted to whomever he wanted whenever and wherever he wanted, and be damned to the damned old Constitution anyway. Cheney once said the vice president's office was not part of the same branch of government as the president's office, and he said it with his bare face hanging out the whole time. Why? He didn't want to give any of his official papers over to the National Archives, as mandated by at least two federal laws. Nope, he said, my office is in Congress today, sorry about that, but be sure to come on back after you drop dead. Or words to that effect. That's about one zillionth of a percent of what he did, because you let him pick himself to be your boss.
5. On July 19, 2006, you vetoed H.R. 810. On June 20, 2007, you vetoed S. 5. Both vetoes killed legislation aimed at funding and vastly enhancing the reach and scope of stem cell research in America. The father of someone I know died of bone marrow cancer just after that first veto; he was adopted, no family could be located, so no donor match for a bone marrow transplant could be found. With stem cell therapy, doctors could have taken his own marrow and grown enough healthy, matching marrow to save his life. Two other people I know have diabetes, like millions of Americans. Stem cell research could offer them a cure. Someone else I know has multiple sclerosis, and stem cell research could very well help her, too. She'd write you a thank-you note for those vetoes, but her right hand doesn't work so well anymore. She's getting better with her left hand, so maybe that note can get written next year.
Also, you defied lawfully issued subpoenas and potentially set a precedent that could shatter the separation of powers. You told the American people Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons - which is one million pounds - of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent, 30,000 missiles to deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs, al-Qaeda connections and uranium from Niger for use in a robust nuclear weapons program, even though all of that was a lie. You made a joking video about not being able to find any of it. You outed a deep-cover CIA agent who was running a network designed to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists, and you did so because her ambassador husband told the truth about you in the public prints.
You gave away our right to privacy by sending the NSA to spy on us. You turned us all into torturers and butchers in the eyes of the world with your decision to use Abu Ghraib prison the same way Saddam Hussein once did. You tried to appoint Henry Kissinger to lead the investigation into 9/11. You turned the entire Justice Department into a carnival of political hackery. You championed the economic policies and deregulation fantasies that have left the financial stability of millions in ashes. You used the threat of terrorism against your own people in order to give yourself political cover. You killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who did you nor us no harm.
You did all this, and so much more.
From a certain perspective, one could argue that you have been the most successful president the country has ever seen. Think about it, because according to your definition of "success," it's true. You came into office looking to make your friends richer, and to fulfill as best you could your most overriding personal belief: that government is the problem, so government must be damaged and denuded to the point of impotence. Through your tax cuts and your two vastly expensive boondoggle wars, you made your friends rich. By unleashing Mr. Cheney and your other minions, you tore the Constitution to shreds and tatters. You have achieved both goals in smashing style, so from that certain perspective, you have triumphed.
Could you also, from the proper perspective, be considered our greatest president?
Perhaps, someday, if we make it so.
It will be in the best interests of many powerful people if we as a nation simply dismiss you and forget you ever happened. A lot of news media people want us to forget you, because in forgetting you, we would forget the media's vast complicity in your actions and misdeeds. A lot of rich people making new fortunes from war profiteering and defense contracts want us to forget they and you even exist, as it would make it possible for them to do it all again someday. A lot of politicians who stapled themselves to you would simply adore it if we forgot about you. The Republican Party would be forever in our debt if we forgot about you.
No. We will not forget you. We will remember.
We the people are going to save you from ignominious oblivion. We will remember. You could be the president who doomed America, the worst president of all time, but we must not, will not let that happen. You will be remembered differently, because we will hold the memory of you high, and behold you, and say, "Never, never, never again." We have tasted the soot and smelled the blood on the wind; we have seen how fragile our way of government is when placed in the hands of low men such as you, and because of that, you will be remembered for all time.
Your greatness will be defined by how we rise to overcome and undo what you have done. Your greatness will stand forever if we never, ever forget the hard, bitter lessons you taught us. We are responsible for this republic, for our Constitution, and for each other. We are our brother's keeper. You taught us that by becoming our Cain. You nearly slew us, but here we stand, and we defy the place in history you would relegate us to. We defy you, and by doing so, we rise.
Something like you must never again be allowed to happen to this country, and if we save ourselves by preventing you from ever happening again, your greatness is assured. You are the tallest of all possible warnings, and a promise all of us must solemnly and stalwartly keep. If we can damn you to the past, we will save our own future.
May you live forever, you son of a bitch.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is now available from PoliPointPress.
8 Jan 2009 @ 18:00 by quinty : Glossing over Bush
"It will be in the best interests of many powerful people if we as a nation simply dismiss you and forget you ever happened." That must never, never happen. For the damage Bush created can never be understood without being fully recognized. And hopefully, hopefully, that will serve as a lesson.
But we have been through this all before. Sorry to be dour, but we have a short memory in this country. And we still cling to many myths (taxes are evil, for one: trickle, trickle down, yes, like a golden shower) in this country. And greed and exploitation and a desire to game the system will not merely go away because Bush has been a disgrace. Do you think that would have stopped Blegoyavich? Or Bernard Maddoff (sp)?
But we have to recognize what Bush has done. That history has to be recognized, though the forces which brought Bush into power will linger on. And maybe a majority of Americans will become more sober from the experience.
"Freedom is a constant struggle," as Amy Goodman says.
9 Jan 2009 @ 11:04 by jazzolog : Bush The Episcopalian
Photo by www.stillman.org
OK, here's a staunch New England, cradle Episcopalian family. How is it these people spearheaded the Pentecostal political revolution? The current President still is telling interviewers God assures his prayers he's done the right things. Miraculous conversion? Or a covert operation? From a review of a new book about this~~~
Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces that Put it in the White House, and what Their Influence Means for America (Bloomsbury Press, 2008). Author Russ Baker shows, among other things, that Poppy Bush’s well-known service as a Navy pilot in World War II was also part of his work for Naval Intelligence. This set the stage for an astonishing double life participating in covert operations of the Central Intelligence Agency throughout his career.
By Frederick Clarkson
January 4, 2009
Poppy and W. Learn Evangelical Lessons
In the early 1980s, Vice President George H.W. Bush faced a political problem of historic proportions. The religious right, driven by politically energized evangelical Christians had altered the political landscape, helping deliver both the 1980 GOP nomination and the presidency to Ronald Reagan. How could the tragically preppy Poppy—a product of Andover and Yale, and secretive former director of the CIA—adjust to the new political reality in order to run for president in 1988? The answer to this question is part of the Bush family’s slow motion transition from old line Yankee blue bloods to good ol’ Red State politicians.
The story begins with Doug Wead, a former Assemblies of God minister turned what Baker terms a “hybrid marketer-author-speaker-historian-religious-political consultant,” who by 1985 had apparently been vetted and groomed to shape the Bush approach to the religious right. “Instinctively,” Baker writes, “he [Poppy Bush] was uncomfortable with pandering to the masses, and uncomfortable too with ascribing deep personal values to himself. For that matter, he didn’t like to reveal much of anything about himself, which was partly patrician reserve and partly perhaps an instinct reinforced by his covert endeavors over the years.”
If Poppy was going to be president, Wead advised, he needed to learn about “these people.” Eventually, Wead drafted a lengthy memo outlining a way for Bush to surf the rising wave of the religious right to the presidency. “This was the beginning,” according to Wead. But not only for their political strategy. Wead felt that Poppy himself had embarked on a spiritual journey, reworking his own spiritual identity even as he studied the evangelical world and developed a political approach for his 1988 presidential campaign.
All of this would be crucial since Representative Jack Kemp (R-NY), a well-known conservative evangelical, and televangelist Pat Robertson also planned to run for the GOP nomination, forcing Bush to compete for the evangelical vote. The three first clashed in the Michigan GOP caucuses, which preceded the usually first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. (Bush ultimately won after a critical court ruling.) But Wead revealed to Baker how the ‘covert operator’ orientation of the Bush camp played out on the ground. “I ran spies in our opponents political camps,” Wead said, including elected Robertson precinct delegates in Michigan. These Bush agents made headlines when they abandoned Robertson and publicly threw their support to Bush. “We helped them win… and totally infiltrate the Robertson campaign,” Wead declared. “I ran them essentially for [Lee] Atwater, but W. knew about them.”
“The spy argot here is suggestive,” Baker writes. “In the Bush milieu, an intelligence mentality spills over not just into politics but even into dealings with the church-based right. Domestic political constituencies,” he warns, “have replaced the citizens of Communist countries as a key target of American elites. They seek to win hearts and minds of devout Christians through quasi-intelligence techniques.”
The layers of secrecy were peeled back on a need-to-know basis over time. Unbeknownst to Wead, for example, the younger Bush had been a voracious consumer of Wead’s memos to Poppy and his top aides years before they met in 1987. W. had also quietly served as Poppy’s key adviser as they absorbed the lessons and formulated their strategic approach to religious identity and outreach.
Under Wead’s tutelage, Poppy would learn the ins and outs of the evangelical world. But Poppy and W. had a problem in common. Baker writes that they knew that W.’s “behavior before becoming governor [of Texas in 1994] his partying, his womanizing, and in particular his military service problems—posed a serious threat to his presidential ambitions. Their solution was to wipe the slate clean—through religious transformation.”
A Tale of Two Conversions
For this to work they needed “a credible conversion experience and a presentable spiritual guide.” And so the legend goes that none other than Billy Graham paid a visit to his longtime friends at the Bush family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine. This led to the famous walk on the beach that George W. Bush says “planted a mustard seed in my soul,” and to his supposed rebirth as an evangelical Christian. That was the accepted narrative in the media and throughout the evangelical world for years. But Graham later told a journalist that he does not remember the encounter; and to another said he does remember a walk on the beach—but not, apparently, any kind of spiritually meaningful conversation. Whatever the facts of the Graham episode, there are actually two conversion stories. The second was deep-sixed in favor of the Graham story, and only emerged after George W. was elected president.
The itinerant evangelist Arthur Blessitt, famous for dragging (mostly on wheels) a 12-foot cross around the world, posted the story on his Web site in October 2001, noting that he met with George W. Bush a full year earlier than Graham. “Mr. George W. Bush,” wrote Blessitt, “a Midland oilman, listened to the radio broadcast and asked one of his friends ‘Can you arrange for me to meet Arthur Blessitt and talk to him about Jesus?’ And so it came to pass.”
Wead, Baker reports, “had warned the Bushes that they had to be careful how they couched their conversion story. It couldn’t be seen as something too radical or too tacky. Preachers who performed stunts with giant crosses would not do. Billy Graham, ‘spiritual counselor to presidents,’ would do perfectly.” And that was the story that speechwriter Karen Hughes wove into Bush’s 1999 campaign book, A Charge to Keep. There was no mention of Blessitt.
Maybe Episcopalians, like a number of other religious groups that fly immediately to mind, aren't so staunch when it comes to the bottom line.
9 Jan 2009 @ 21:09 by quinty : The election (2008)
may have shown some pushback. That a majority of Americans may not want to go the evangelical way. And sanity, as well as self interest, may have prevailed. (I share the widespread bewilderment that so many plain folks don't vote their own interests but prefer to swallow the myths evangelical capitalism offers them.... )
The true Christian right though would like to see an enormous popular groundswell so that they can finally become the true power in this country. Why it is so incumbent upon some souls - whatever their religious faith - to "spread the word" is beyond me. Why isn't it enough to go to church on Sunday and partake in the little festival to commune with god or whatever? Is evangelism merely some sort of huge ego and power trip? A form of constant self validation of one’s own importance?
But as I started to say, the true Christian Right would like to obtain a super majority. When I think of this it reminds me of those science fiction horror films where a virus (for which there is no known cure) spreads world-wide turning its victims into murderous zombies who only desire to kill those who are still normal. And if the hero of our film stays out beyond sun-set he runs the risk a pack of these zombies will dig their dripping fangs into his throat.
Both Ronald Reagan and George 43 have illustrated what this evangelical super majority would bring to the world. And now Sarah Palin is at the top of the heap in the Republican Party. Each time she opens her mouth and makes a fool of herself she only draws more fanatical backers, unifying them all against a common enemy. The so-called "elites," from 57th Street in Manhattan to the first Starbucks in Seattle. And there are those among the Christian right who express themselves through their constant outrage against all these eletes causing their misfortunes and problems.
9 Jan 2009 @ 22:16 by b : bUSG
At least no one ever found out that Bush is Jewish.
9 Jan 2009 @ 22:42 by vaxen : ...
9 Jan 2009 @ 22:47 by vaxen : ...
10 Jan 2009 @ 12:47 by jazzolog : The Crusaders
One thing we can be sure of, with Vaxen around, is we'll get the latest batch of rightwing nutcases running loose at his favorite Internet hangouts. Of course he presents them as the atavars to save us from alien conspiracies he sees everywhere. John Ziegler has essential credentials for having been the famous LA rightwing talk show host that he was: he calls himself "a recovering Catholic"...and of course a libertarian. Since leaving radio he has devoted his career to attacking the media in documentaries and on the Web. Until he met Sweet Sarah, naturally. His only aim now is "to correct the historical record" about her...and maybe make a little money on the side...and possibly a place of influence on the bandwagon. [link]
If you hanker for a larger taste of this guy, here's a report with lots of quote about his departure from LA radio, as reported a year ago today~~~
and who can live without his infamous interview with Nate Silver about the legitimacy of a Zogby poll~~~
I didn't have time yesterday to check out a link to Arthur Blessit's website, referred to in the bit about Georgie's conversion to born-again. The man reports the whole deal in detail---with chapter and verse---in his entry The Day I Prayed with George W. Bush to Receive Jesus! April 3, 1984 Midland, Texas To God be the Glory! [link]
In Oliver Stone's W, a favorite actor I haven't seen around in a long time, Stacy Keach, plays a sort of composite character, named Reverend Earle Hudd, made up I think of Wead and Blessit. Stone's specialty is to create scenes like these that might have happened, that must have happened...but there's no historical transcript. I find the scenes with Hudd riveting, but neither Ebert nor the NY Times review even mention them!
Finally, Richard Clarke let loose on Thursday, in the New York Daily News~~~
President Bush saved U.S. lives? That's only more Karl Rove-style spin
By Richard Clarke
Thursday, January 8th 2009, 11:09 AM
George Bush, still President, is engaging in a legacy tour of media outlets. This comes despite his earlier having said he did not know how history would judge the Iraq war "because we'll all be dead."
Actually, many people are already dead because of Bush, and that is the point to keep in mind when he talks about his legacy.
Among the themes Bush is striking are that through action at home and fighting "them" over there, not over here, his administration stopped terrorist attacks and prevented another 9/11. There is a surface plausibility to those claims, as there has often been with the messaging served up by the Karl Rove spin machine. But let's look beneath the surface of the assertions.
Bush stopped terrorist attacks? Yes, some of the many alleged plots cited by the White House probably would have matured into attacks had not the U.S. intelligence community acted. Many were more aspirational than operational, and others were the pure inventions of FBI informants. (In the Miami Liberty City case, an FBI informant apparently bribed people who previously had no interest in Al Qaeda. When they swore the oath to Osama Bin Laden, they were then arrested for doing so.)
But even if taken on its face as true, should having stopped terrorist attacks earn this President a Harry Truman-like reassessment down the road? I can attest from firsthand knowledge that the Clinton administration stopped numerous terrorist operations that would have resulted in American deaths. Yet I don't hear Bill Clinton running around boasting about that. Clinton has other things to lay claim to - a balanced budget, huge job growth and eight years without a major war. If you don't think the Clinton administration stopped a major terrorist attack in New York City, you might want to talk with the blind sheik, who was involved in a plot to blow up the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and a federal building housing the FBI. But that would be tough to do because Omar Abdel-Rahman is in solitary in a federal prison in Colorado.
There wasn't a second 9/11? That's obviously true, but it misses the point. First, we must remember that Al Qaeda terrorists are patient, deliberate planners who often wait years between strikes. Second, there was the first 9/11 - and it happened on Bush's watch. Without rehashing the entire 9/11 Commission Report, the historical record is pretty clear by now that Bush did virtually nothing about the repeated warnings to him that those cataclysmic attacks were coming. Unfortunately, I can personally attest to that as well.
Bush saved American lives? Tell that to the families of the 4,200 U.S. military personnel who have perished in the needless war in Iraq. While they served heroically and deserve the great thanks of the American people, the tragic truth is that they were engaged in a war we should not have been fighting and which was sold to the Congress, the media and American people with exaggerated and even false claims.
Beyond the needless American deaths that are Bush's legacy, there are the Iraqis we almost never think about. Iraq Body Count is an ongoing human security project that claims to maintain "the world's largest public database of violent civilian deaths during and since the 2003 invasion." They say their data "encompasses noncombatants killed by military or paramilitary action and the breakdown in civil security following the invasion." Currently, their estimate - conservative when put alongside other totals - is that between 90,253 and 98,521 Iraqis were killed because George Bush invaded that country. That's thirty 9/11s.
Let George Bush keep pushing the buttons on the spin machine. That cannot change the facts. His administration's actions on terrorism, including Iraq, killed many more Americans than U.S. intelligence agencies saved in the past eight years.
Clarke was a counterterrorism adviser to former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He is the author of "Against All Enemies" and "Your Government Failed You."
10 Jan 2009 @ 17:45 by quinty : Rather than
constantly thanking the troops, and praising their valor,
shouldn't we simply get angry at those who sent them there to be needlessly killed?
Rather than constantly reafirm our patriotism and that
we "back the troops?"
That reasserting one's patriotism before criticizing seems necessary can be seen as a small rightwing victory. Or maybe not so small, since such disclaimers bow to the right's logic and reasoning. And validate their "patriotism" crap.
(My kneejerk reaction to Clark's "kneejerk" assertion of backing the troops. But Clark is in many ways is an admirable man, even if a Republican. Is he still?)
10 Jan 2009 @ 20:48 by a-d : Nonsense, b!
a lot of people have known That Secret "forever"!
Both from mommy's side -and Daddy's!....Did somebody say tha Obama would be Us first "Jewish" "president"????/ ahhhh... yes... there are people who don't stay abrest of Things... but not all are blind death and dumb! : )
Let me get the links to prove "our Case", eh? : )
10 Jan 2009 @ 22:59 by jazzolog : For Clarke's Campaign Contributions
check this link~~~
Such matters are public record.
For Bush family Judaic relationships...uh, anybody have a source?
10 Jan 2009 @ 23:32 by quinty : So perhaps
Clarke likes to go it alone?
Looking at this site again, well.....
I vaguely remember hearing him long ago claim he was a Republican. Or perhaps I remember it wrong? But Jazzo's link demonstrates he's no current member of that crowd. Bush et al would make anyone go straight! (Well, not all.) Clarke is a good guy and I'll never forget how at that committee hearing years ago he turned to apologize to the survivors and victims' families of 9/11 sitting behind him. Something no one else testifying that day did.
11 Jan 2009 @ 11:57 by jazzolog : Apologies And Blame
In fact, Richard Clarke is the only member or former of the Bush Administration to apologize for anything. Unless somehow one thinks getting rich at taxpayer expense is a sin or something, people like Cheney see nothing wrong.
Here's one who does though...with a bunch of links to others who do too. Rich's column today, another chronicle of our nation's disgrace---and will Dawn Johnsen finally bring Bush to justice?
The New York Times
January 11, 2009
Eight Years of Madoffs
By FRANK RICH
THREE days after the world learned that $50 billion may have disappeared in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, The Times led its front page of Dec. 14 with the revelation of another $50 billion rip-off. This time the vanished loot belonged to American taxpayers. That was our collective contribution to the $117 billion spent (as of mid-2008) on Iraq reconstruction — a sinkhole of corruption, cronyism, incompetence and outright theft that epitomized Bush management at home and abroad.
The source for this news was a near-final draft of an as-yet-unpublished 513-page federal history of this nation-building fiasco. The document was assembled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction — led by a Bush appointee, no less. It pinpoints, among other transgressions, a governmental Ponzi scheme concocted to bamboozle Americans into believing they were accruing steady dividends on their investment in a “new” Iraq.
The report quotes no less an authority than Colin Powell on how the scam worked. Back in 2003, Powell said, the Defense Department just “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ” Those of us who questioned these astonishing numbers were dismissed as fools, much like those who begged in vain to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to challenge Madoff’s math.
What’s most remarkable about the Times article, however, is how little stir it caused. When, in 1971, The Times got its hands on the Pentagon Papers, the internal federal history of the Vietnam disaster, the revelations caused a national uproar. But after eight years of battering by Bush, the nation has been rendered half-catatonic. The Iraq Pentagon Papers sank with barely a trace.
After all, next to big-ticket administration horrors like Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and the politicized hiring and firing at Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department, the wreckage of Iraq reconstruction is what Ralph Kramden of “The Honeymooners” would dismiss as “a mere bag of shells.” The $50 billion also pales next to other sums that remain unaccounted for in the Bush era, from the $345 billion in lost tax revenue due to unpoliced offshore corporate tax havens to the far-from-transparent disposition of some $350 billion in Wall Street bailout money. In the old Pat Moynihan phrase, the Bush years have “defined deviancy down” in terms of how low a standard of ethical behavior we now tolerate as the norm from public officials.
Not even a good old-fashioned sex scandal could get our outrage going again. Indeed, a juicy one erupted last year in the Interior Department, where the inspector general found that officials “had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.” Two officials tasked with marketing oil on behalf of American taxpayers got so blotto at a daytime golf event sponsored by Shell that they became too incapacitated to drive and had to be put up by the oil company.
Back in the day, an oil-fueled scandal in that one department alone could mesmerize a nation and earn Warren Harding a permanent ranking among our all-time worst presidents. But while the scandals at Bush’s Interior resemble Teapot Dome — and also encompass millions of dollars in lost federal oil and gas royalties — they barely registered beyond the Beltway. Even late-night comics yawned when The Washington Post administered a coup de grâce last week, reporting that Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne spent $235,000 from taxpayers to redo his office bathroom (monogrammed towels included). [link]
It took 110 pages for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan research organization, to compile the CliffsNotes inventory of the Bush wreckage last month. It found “125 systematic failures across the breadth of the federal government.” That accounting is conservative. There are still too many unanswered questions. [link]
Just a short list is staggering. Who put that bogus “uranium from Africa” into the crucial prewar State of the Union address after the C.I.A. removed it from previous Bush speeches? How high up were the authorities who ordered and condoned torture and then let the “rotten apples” at the bottom of the military heap take the fall? Who orchestrated the Pentagon’s elaborate P.R. efforts to cover up Pat Tillman’s death by “friendly fire” in Afghanistan?
And, for extra credit, whatever did happen to Bush’s records from the Texas Air National Guard? [link]
The biggest question hovering over all this history, however, concerns the future more than the past. If we get bogged down in adjudicating every Bush White House wrong, how will we have the energy, time or focus to deal with the all-hands-on-deck crises that this administration’s malfeasance and ineptitude have bequeathed us? The president-elect himself struck this note last spring. “If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated,” Barack Obama said. “I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.”
Henry Waxman, the California congressman who has been our most tireless inquisitor into Bush scandals, essentially agreed when I spoke to him last week. Though he remains outraged about both the chicanery used to sell the Iraq war and the administration’s overall abuse of power, he adds: “I don’t see Congress pursuing it. We’ve got to move on to other issues.” He would rather see any prosecutions augmented by an independent investigation that fills in the historical record. “We need to depoliticize it,” he says. “If a Democratic Congress or administration pursues it, it will be seen as partisan.”
We could certainly do worse than another 9/11 Commission. Among those Americans still enraged about the Bush years, there are also calls for truth and reconciliation commissions, war crimes trials and, in a petition movement on Obama’s transition Web site, a special prosecutor in the Patrick Fitzgerald mode. One of the sharpest appointments yet made by the incoming president may support decisive action: Dawn Johnsen, a law professor and former Clinton administration official who last week was chosen to run the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice.
This is the same office where the Bush apparatchik John Yoo produced his infamous memos justifying torture. Johnsen is a fierce critic of such constitutional abuses. In articles for Slate last year, she wondered “where is the outrage, the public outcry” over a government that has acted lawlessly and that “does not respect the legal and moral bounds of human decency.” She asked, “How do we save our country’s honor, and our own?”
The last is not a rhetorical question. While our new president indeed must move on and address the urgent crises that cannot wait, Bush administration malfeasance can’t be merely forgotten or finessed. A new Justice Department must enforce the law; Congress must press outstanding subpoenas to smoke out potential criminal activity; every legal effort must be made to stop what seems like a wholesale effort by the outgoing White House to withhold, hide and possibly destroy huge chunks of its electronic and paper trail. As Johnsen wrote last March, we must also “resist Bush administration efforts to hide evidence of its wrongdoing through demands for retroactive immunity, assertions of state privilege, and implausible claims that openness will empower terrorists.”
As if to anticipate the current debate, she added that “we must avoid any temptation simply to move on,” because the national honor cannot be restored “without full disclosure.” She was talking about America regaining its international reputation in the aftermath of our government’s descent into the dark side of torture and “extraordinary rendition.” But I would add that we need full disclosure of the more prosaic governmental corruption of the Bush years, too, for pragmatic domestic reasons. To make the policy decisions ahead of us in the economic meltdown, we must know what went wrong along the way in the executive and legislative branches alike.
As the financial historian Ron Chernow wrote in the Times last week, we could desperately use a Ferdinand Pecora, the investigator who illuminated the history of the 1929 meltdown in Senate hearings on the eve of the New Deal. The terrain to be mined would include not just the usual Wall Street suspects and their Congressional and regulatory enablers but also the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a strangely neglected ground zero in the foreclosure meltdown. The department’s secretary, Alphonso Jackson, resigned in March amid still-unresolved investigations over whether he enriched himself and friends with government contracts.
The tentative and amorphous $800 billion stimulus proposed by Obama last week sounds like a lot, but it’s a drop in the bucket when set against the damage it must help counteract: more than $10 trillion in new debt and new obligations piled up by the Bush administration in eight years, as calculated by the economists Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz in the current Harper’s Magazine. [link]
If Bernie Madoff, at least, can still revive what remains of our deadened capacity for outrage, so can those who pulled off Washington’s Ponzi schemes. The more we learn about where all the bodies and billions were buried on our path to ruin, the easier it may be for our new president to make the case for a bold, whatever-it-takes New Deal.
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
11 Jan 2009 @ 15:14 by quinty : The lightness of being Bush
A timeline of Bush scandals would be interesting. And impressive.
Those of us whose memories are both long and short remember that for quite an extended period of time during this administration at least twice or three times a week a new scandal, show of incompetence or embarrassment was nightly reported on the news. And that didn't include, of course, the things we didn't hear about!
Though I would be hard pressed if challenged to support this generalized memory with examples I think Facts on File could be helpful, and would probably answer all critics.
We should never have gotten rid of the Independent Counsel. Because Kenneth Starr disgraced that office with his zeal the need for such a counsel was and is still needed. I felt that way then and I feel that way now. If we had had one over these years the Bush legal situation might look quite different today.
12 Jan 2009 @ 11:37 by jazzolog : Timelines
There are lots of them coming out now Quinty. At first I too thought all of America forgot each crime or scandal as soon as it was off the front page---and into the recycling bin. But there are journalists who have kept track, and they're reeling them off all over the place. The Vanity Fair chronicle is a good place to start, either on the newsstand (Cate Blanchett on the cover) or at the link I put in the main entry above---at the mention of keeping memos short because Bush doesn't like to read things.
12 Jan 2009 @ 15:29 by Quinty @126.96.36.199 : Thanks....
Yes, impressive, as we all know.
18 Jan 2009 @ 11:38 by jazzolog : Don't Let The Door Hit Ya
Where the Good Lord split ya!
And Maureen adds a swift kick to the exit this morning. Her reservations about Obama, however, are well worth noting~~
The New York Times
January 18, 2009
The Long, Lame Goodbye
By MAUREEN DOWD
As Barack Obama got to town, one of the first things he did was seek the counsel of past presidents, including George Bush senior.
As W. was leaving town, one of the last things he did was explain why he never sought the counsel of his father on issues that his father knew intimately, like Iraq and Saddam.
When Brit Hume did a joint interview last week with Bush father and son, dubbed “41st guy” and “43rd guy” by W., the Fox anchor asked whether it was true that “there wasn’t a lot of give and take” between them, except on family matters.
“See,” the Oedipally oddball W. replied, “the interesting thing is that a president has got plenty of advisers, but what a president never has is someone who gave him unconditional love.”
He talks about his father, the commander in chief who went to war with Saddam before he did, like a puppy. “You rarely have people,” he said, “who can pick up the phone and say, ‘I love you, son,’ or, ‘Hang in there, son.’ ”
Maybe he wouldn’t have needed so many Hang-in-there-sons if he had actually consulted his dad before he ignorantly and fraudulently rammed into the Middle East.
When W. admits the convoluted nature of his relationship with his father, diminishing a knowledgeable former president to the status of a blankie, you realize that, despite all the cocky swagger we’ve seen, this is not a confident man.
That is vividly apparent as we watch W. and Obama share the stage as they pass the battered baton. One seems small and inconsequential, even though he keeps insisting he’s not; the other grows large and impressive, filling Americans with cockeyed hope even as he warns them not to expect too much too soon.
Even Obama’s caution — a commodity notably absent from the White House for eight years — fills people with optimism.
W. lives in the shadow of his father’s presence, while Obama lives in the shadow of his father’s absence. W.’s parlous presidency, spent trashing the Constitution, the economy and the environment, was bound up, and burdened by, the psychological traits of an asphyxiated and pampered son.
The exiting and entering presidents are opposite poles — one the parody of a monosyllabic Western gunslinger who disdains nuance, and one a complex, polysyllabic professor sort who will make a decision only after he has held it up to the light and examined it from all sides.
W. was immune to doubt and afraid of it. (His fear of doubt led to the cooking of war intelligence.) Obama is delighted by doubt.
It’s astonishing that, as banks continue to fail and Americans continue to lose jobs and homes, W. was obtuse enough to go on TV and give a canned ode to can-do-ism. “Good and evil are present in this world,” he reiterated, “and between the two of them there can be no compromise.”
He gives the good-and-evil view of things a bad name. Good and evil are not like the Redskins and the Cowboys. Good and evil intermingle in the same breath, let alone the same society. A moral analysis cannot be a simplistic analysis.
“You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made,” he said Thursday night. “But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.”
Actually, no. His decisions have been, for the most part, disastrous. If he’d paid as much attention to facts as fitness, 9/11, Iraq, the drowning of New Orleans, the deterioration in Afghanistan and the financial deregulation orgy could have been prevented.
Bush fancied himself the Decider; Obama fancies himself the Convener. Some worry that a President Obama will overdo it and turn the Situation Room into the Seminar Room. (He’s already showing a distressing lack of concern over whether his cherished eggheads bend the rules, like Tim Geithner’s not paying all his taxes, because, after all, they’re the Best and the Brightest, not ordinary folk.)
W., Cheney and Rummy loved making enemies, under the mistaken assumption that the more people hated America, the more the Bushies were standing up for principle. But is Obama neurotically reluctant to make enemies, and overly concerned with winning over those who have smacked him, from Hillary and Bill to conservative columnists?
If W. and Cheney preferred Fox News on the TVs in the White House because they liked hearing their cheerleaders, Obama may leave the channel on Fox because he prefers seducing and sparring with antagonists to spooning with allies.
Right now, though, it’s a huge relief to be getting an inquisitive, complicated mind in the White House.
W. decided there was no need to be president of the whole country. He could just be president of his base. Obama is determined to be president of as much of the country as possible.
We’re trading a dogmatic president for one who’s shopping for a dog. It feels good.
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
19 Jan 2009 @ 10:59 by jazzolog : 8 Years In 8 Minutes
Keith Olbermann gets it on, as only he can~~~
Olbermann | Bush Years: 8 in 8 Minutes
Friday 16 January 2009
by: Keith Olbermann, MSNBC Countdown
George Walker Bush.
43rd president of the United States.
first ever with a criminal record.
our third story tonight,
his presidency: eight years in eight minutes.
early in 2001 the U.S. fingered Al Qaeda
for the bombing of the USS Cole
Bush counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke
had a plan to take down Al Qaeda.
instead by February the NSC
had already discussed invading Iraq,
and had a plan for post-Saddam Iraq.
by March 5 Bush had a map ready for Iraqi oil exploration
and a list of companies.
Rice told Clarke not to give Bush a lot of long memos.
not a big reader.
August 6, 2001
a CIA analyst briefs Bush on vacation:
"Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S."
Bush takes no action tells the briefer - quote
all right, you've covered your ass now.
next month Clarke requests
using new predator drones to kill Bin Laden
the Pentagon and CIA
Bush remains seated for several minutes
to avoid scaring school children
by getting up and leaving.
he then flies around the country
and promises quote a full scale investigation to find
those folks who did it
Rumsfeld says Afghanistan does not have enough targets
we've got to do Iraq.
when the CIA traps Bin Laden at Tora Bora
it asks for 800 rangers to cut off his escape
Bush outsources the job to Pakistanis
sympathetic to the Taliban
in February General Tommy Franks tells a visiting Senator
Bush is moving equipment out of Afghanistan
so he can invade Iraq.
one of the men who prepped Rice for her testimony
that Bush did not ignore pre 9-11 warnings
later explains quote we cherry picked things
to make it look like the president
had been actually concerned about Al Qaeda
they didn't give a bleep about Al Qaeda
July and Britain's intel chief says Bush is
fixing intelligence and facts around the policy to take out Saddam
Bush and Blair agree to invade in March
Mr. Bush still telling us he has not decided
telling Blair they should paint an airplane in UN colors
fly it over Iraq and provoke a response
a pretext for invasion
the man who said it would take several hundred thousand troops
the man who said it would cost more than a hundred billion
the man who revealed Bush's yellowcake lie
his wife's covert status
the White House liars who did it
and covered it up
Bush commutes his sentence
then in Iraq, stuff happens:
Iraq's army, disbanded
the government de-Baathified
200,000 weapons, billions of dollars just
foreign mercenaries immunized from justice
political hacks run the Green Zone
religious cleansing forcing one out of six Iraqis from their homes
Al Qaeda in Iraq
other stuff does not happen:
and billions for Halliburton, Blackwater and other companies
while Mr. Bush denies VA healthcare to 450,000 veterans
tries to raise their healthcare fees
blocks the new G.I. Bill
and increases his own power with the USA PATRIOT Act
with the Military Commissions Act
public orders exempting himself from a thousand laws
and secretly from the Presidential Records Act
The Geneva Conventions
sparking a mass rebellion at the Justice Department
secret star chambers for terrorism suspects,
overturned by Hamdan v Rumsfeld.
denying habeas corpus,
overturned by Boumediene v Bush.
Rumsfeld warned in 2002 that he was torturing
that it would jeopardize convictions
out of 550 at Gitmo
hundreds ultimately go free with no charges
dozens are tortured
three are convicted
on U.S. soil twelve hundred immigrants rounded up
without due process
without court dates
without a single charge of terrorism
it wasn't just Mr. Bush no longer subject to the rule of law
he slashed regulations on everyone from banks to mining companies
appointed 98 lobbyists to oversee their own industries
weakening emission standards for mercury
and 650 different toxic chemicals
regulators shared drugs
and their beds
with industry reps
the Crandall Canyon mine owner told inspectors to back up
because his buddy, Republican Mitch McConnell
was sleeping with their boss
McConnell's wife is Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao
her agency overruled engineer concerns about Crandall Canyon
and was found negligent
after nine miners died in the collapse there
Mr. Bush's hands off
as Enron blacks out California
doubling electric bills
after months of rejecting price caps Mr. Bush bows to pressure
the blackouts end
Mr. Bush further deregulates commodity futures
midwifing the birth of unregulated oil markets
which just like Enron jack up prices to an all time high
until Congress and both presidential candidates call for regulations
and the prices fall
deregulating financial services and lax enforcement of remaining rules
created a housing bubble
creating the mortgage crisis
creating then a credit crisis
devastating industries that rely on credit
from student loans to car dealers
firms that had survived the Great Depression could not survive Bush
those that did got
seven hundred billion dollars
no strings, no transparency
no idea whether it worked
unlike the auto bailout
which cut workers' salaries.
a GOP memo called it
a chance to punish unions
but Bush failed even when his party and his patrons
did not stand to profit
investigators blamed management cost cutting communication
for missed warnings about Columbia
Bush administration convicts include
sex offenders at Homeland Security
every kind of thief in the calendar
and if you count things that were not prosecuted
the vice president of the United States actually
shot a man in the face
the man apologized.
Mr. Bush faked the truth
with paid propaganda in Iraq
on his education policy
tried to silence the truth about global warming
rocket fuel in our water
industry influence on energy policy
politicized the truth of science at NASA, the EPA,
the National Cancer Institute, Fish and Wildlife
and the FDA
exposed by whistleblowers from the cabinet down
"complete BS" the treasury secretary said
of Mr. Bush on his tax cuts.
Rice's mushroom cloud
Powell's mobile labs
Iraq and 9-11
Pat Tillman again
Pat Tillman, again.
the air at Ground Zero
most responders still suffering respiratory problems.
a Clear Skies initiative lowering air quality standards
the Healthy Forests initiative increasing logging
faith based initiatives
the cost of medicare reform
fired US attorneys
politically synchronized terror alerts
the surge causing insurgents to switch sides
that abortion causes breast cancer
that his first recession began under Clinton
that he did not wiretap without warrants
that we do not torture.
that American citizen John Walker Lindh's rights
were not violated
that he refused the right to counsel
heckuva job Brownie
some survivors still in trailers
New Orleans still at just two-thirds its usual population
the lie that no one could have predicted the economic crisis
the economists who did
no one could have predicted 9-11 except
one ass-covering CIA analyst
no one could have predicted the levee breach
in a PSA that aired on TV a year before Katrina
Bush actually admitted that he lied about not firing Rumsfeld
because he did not want to tell the truth.
look it up.
all of it
all of it and more leaving us with
ten trillion in debt
to pay for 31% more in discretionary spending
the Iraq War
a 1.3 trillion dollar tax cut
median income down two thousand dollars
three-quarters of all income gains under Bush
going to the richest one percent
unemployment up from 4.2 to 7.2 percent
the Dow, down from ten thousand five hundred eighty seven
to eighty two hundred seventy seven
six million now more in poverty
seven million more now without health care
buying toxic goods from China
outsourcing security to Dubai
still unsecure in our ports
and at our nuclear plants
more dependent on foreign oil
out of the international criminal court
off the anti ballistic missle treaty
military readiness and standards down
with two unfinished wars
a nuclear North Korea
disengaged from the Palestinian problem
destabilizing eastern european diplomacy with
anti missile plans
and unable to keep Russia out of Georgia
2000 miles of Appalachian streams
destroyed by rubble from mountaintop mining
at his last G-8 summit,
he actually bid farewell to other world leaders
saying quote - goodbye from the world's greatest polluter
consistently undermining historic American reverence
for the institutions that empower us
education, now "academic elites"
and the law, "activist judges"
capping jury awards
and Bin Laden?
living today unmolested in a Pakistani safe haven
created by a truce endorsed and defended by George W. Bush
and among all the gifts he gave to Bin Laden
the most awful, the most damaging not just to America
but to the American ideal
was to further Bin Laden's goal
by making us act out of fear rather than fortitude
leaving us with precious little to cling to tonight
save the one thing that might yet suffice:
Transcript and video link here~~~
20 Oct 2009 @ 09:18 by jazzolog : Dissent
I'll reiterate that opposition to what I tried to create with jazzoLOG has brought me to refrain from adding new articles to it. I remain in the membership of NCN to tend to what is left of the Log---and to dump the daily spam. Here Noam Chomsky sums up the Bush years---as well as the continuing negativity~~~
"The point of public relations slogans like 'Support our troops' is that they don't mean anything... That's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy? That's the one you're not allowed to talk about."
20 Oct 2009 @ 09:54 by vaxen : Atribute...
the sabotage to the gunpowder plot. Got a penny for guy? On November the 5th's 'bonfire' I'll make sure to burn an effigy of thee in Guido's staid/stead. The only man to ever enter parliament honestly, that was our Guy...
20 Oct 2009 @ 11:01 by mortimer : Flagellants?
Everybody makes mistakes sometimes, don't beat yourself up over it.
13 Dec 2009 @ 10:19 by jazzolog : Padilla v. Yoo
December 4, 12:11 PM, 2009
DOJ to the Rescue… of John Yoo
By Scott Horton
The Holder Justice Department has filed a sweeping amicus brief in the Padilla v. Yoo case before the Ninth Circuit, seeking to make absolute the immunity granted Justice Department lawyers who counsel torture, disappearings, and other crimes against humanity. The case was brought by Jose Padilla, who claims that he was tortured as the direct result of memoranda written by Yoo, now a law professor at Berkeley. At this stage, the case does not address the factual basis of Padilla’s claims, but documents that have been declassified by the Department of Justice make it clear that the charges have a firm basis in fact. Here’s the portion of the opinion authored by a lifelong Republican, Bush-appointed judge that the Justice Department found so objectionable:
Like any other government official, government lawyers are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their conduct….
The Holder Justice Department insists that they are absolutely not responsible, and that they are free to act according to a far lower standard of conduct than that which governs Americans generally. Indeed, this has emerged as a sort of ignoble mantra for the Justice Department, uniting both the Bush and Obama administrations.
According to the allegations in the suit, Padilla’s extraordinary regimen of abuse was imposed only after John Yoo personally gave it a green light, knowing that the torture prescription awaited his say-so. The result was long-term physical and psychological damage. Yoo’s outlandish opinions have been rescinded, but the question remains: can a Justice Department lawyer be held to account for grossly incompetent and unethical work that results in severe physical harm? It’s long been a tenet of federal law that agents of the government who are responsible for torturing individuals may be held to account for their conduct. The Holder Justice Department has been working feverishly to overturn this law, at least as it applies to employees of the Justice Department. With the solid backing of Republican-appointed judges on the Second Circuit, they achieved a major breakthrough on the Second Circuit in the Maher Arar case. Now they’re peddling the same pap to the Ninth Circuit.
The Justice Department once argued that no doctrine of immunity could be invoked to protect a person who, under cover of law and the authority of office, engages in torture, conspiracy to torture, or the holding of individuals outside of access to justice for prolonged periods (“disappearings”). These arguments were made in cases brought before the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, including United States v. Altstoetter and the Ministries cases—authorities which the brief filed by the Justice Department fails to note. Now the Justice Department argues that there are only three possible avenues for accountability of a Justice Department lawyer: internal review by the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of Inspector General, bar disciplinary action, and criminal prosecution. It effectively boils down to the Justice Department saying that it alone will decide about the accountability of its staffers for wrongful conduct that damages others.
Moreover, the courses that the brief describes are a chimera. The Office of Professional Responsibility has investigated John Yoo’s abusive and unprofessional memo writing for five years. As of this morning, its findings still have not been released—notwithstanding a representation by the attorney general to the Senate Judiciary Committee that they would be made public before November was out. More generally, OPR rarely actually investigates even the most serious allegations of misconduct, and almost never actually recommends any form of discipline. The only exceptions occur when a federal judge becomes involved, insisting on action (and often not even then), or when the misconduct becomes a matter of public outrage sustained in major newspapers and broadcast media for years. The ABA Journal has correctly summarized the situation by calling OPR the Justice Department’s “roach motel”—“the cases go in, but nothing ever comes out.”
The brief’s reference to the Inspector General’s office is also absurd. As OIG notes, it does not even have jurisdiction to deal with legal professional staff at the Justice Department—that rests with OPR.
Next, the Department suggests that state bar associations can address these questions. As a matter of established practice, however, state bar associations do not take up cases involving Justice Department employees. They defer instead to the Justice Department to deal with them, choosing only to look at cases involving Justice Department lawyers when the DOJ asks them to do so. Bars also apply guild rules, and like the ancient guilds, don’t much like punishing their own.
Finally, there is the question of criminal accountability. In the face of actual criminal investigations, the DOJ has behaved usually like a criminal accused, and intent on obstruction, not like a law enforcement agency. Criminal investigations involving the conduct of Yoo and his fellow torture-memo writers are underway at this moment in a number of foreign jurisdictions, most notably including the two pending criminal cases in Spain. It’s noteworthy that the U.S. Justice Department, presented with letters rogatory from the Spanish court probing into the torture of Spanish citizens at Guantánamo and the role played by DOJ lawyers in this process, elected not to respond. Attorney General Holder traveled to Europe at the outset of his term, promising European justice officials a new era of cooperation. But in the first significant test case, he has continued the Bush-era cover-up of potentially criminal misconduct deep inside the Justice Department.
The Holder Justice Department’s brief can only be squared with prior DOJ arguments this way: foreign lawyers in foreign Justice Departments have no immunity and can be held accountable, but lawyers who work for us have absolute immunity from any meaningful form of accountability. The path to a renewal of the criminal misconduct of the Bush years is being prepared right now. And Obama Justice Department lawyers are doing the work.
Scott Horton is a New York attorney known for his work in human rights law and the law of armed conflict. He lectures at Columbia Law School.
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