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September 09, 2008
No credit

The weirdest thing I've read today has to be this.

While hardly agreeing with the characterization of Bush's "legacy" as "shockingly liberal" it's an interesting context in which to view the last eight years. George Bush is an advocate of human dignity, a passionate defender of liberty, a lover of freedom, and a humanitarian. (You have to look at him through non-partisan glasses. I'm not sure where you'd get those, since a 70% DISapproval rating means that a significant percentage of the morons who voted for him, twice, now think he's a failure, but whatever.)

(Contrary to my normal policy, I'm stuffing this behind a cut. I know I'm prone to going on and on and on, but a 2,000 word rant is excessive, even for me.)

Consider this single paragraph in the aforementioned article:

The partisan portraits will not tell the whole story, of course, because the narrative is not tidy. Bush's legacy is more than the protracted war in Iraq. In some areas it is the result of hardline conservative ideology but in others it is surprisingly liberal. Bush is the tax-cutting conservative who nonetheless grew the federal government in size and power. He is the former governor who championed states' rights while centralizing more power in Washington. He is the proponent of race-neutral policies who did more than any president before him to measure, track, and invest in the achievement of black and Latino children. He is the advocate of human dignity who authorized interrogation techniques that amount to torture. The passionate defender of liberty who circumvented laws to spy on his own citizens. The lover of freedom who toppled one dictator while propping up others. The progenitor of wars that killed thousands on one continent, and the humanitarian who spent unprecedented sums to save millions from disease on another.

*cough* There are a few things there I'd take issue with.

This is the only time, for instance, I've ever heard of the man described as an "advocate of human dignity." I don't even know what they mean by that.

And what kind of "passionate defender of liberty" is he now or has he ever been? The only "freedom" he and his friends have demonstrated any love for is their own.

His AIDS spending was a calculated ploy to create a "humanitarian legacy" for his presidency. Besides, that funding comes with restrictions--the money is less for treatment for AIDS patient than for things like abstinence education. So it was a combination of some (restrictive) actual help and hunk of meat for his rabid religous "base."

Still it has to be admitted that I'm anything but objective when it comes to our Worst President Ever.

For those of you who haven't heard the story fifteen times before, let me say that the first time I saw his smirking face on television (seriously--the first time I ever saw his face), the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I thought, "If this were a movie, he'd be the murderer."

Here we are, eight years later. What's that body count at now?

Say, for civilians/innocent bystanders in Iraq? 86,000-95,000, right? And USofA soldiers? It's 4000+ dead and over 30,000 officially wounded (but "unofficially" the American wounded is estimated at 100,000).

I guess, in some ways, it's possible even for someone as partisan as me to admit that this administration has tried to do some things. The fact that they didn't do any of them well is, perhaps, another matter.

Or, perhaps not. The fact that they did a number of these things in cynical ploys to make themselves appear to giveashit about 'average Americans' might count for something, don't you think?

On a scale of one to five, making a cosmetic pretense at evaluating the WEP's behavior 'objectively'?

Powerful Central Government
The Party of small central government is leaving a BIG central government behind when they move out. I do not fear our government, no matter how large it's gotten. Big government is sloppy government and there's enough wriggle room in the cracks between departments and agencies that we're not in any immediate danger of living under Big Brother's thumb.

And a larger Federal government means jobs--jobs that receive paychecks that are mostly spent here at home, which helps stimulate the economy. (Unlike, for instance, killing people overseas.)

On the other hand, a large part of the explosion in growth of the Federal government is, in fact, the Big Brother Agency. And I disapprove of that. Completely and utterly. They spied on us and no matter what they say, I suspect they're still doing it.

I very much dislike the organized lunacy of 'homeland security.' I hate the reaction to the phrase by the ignorant and short-sighted. I hate the fact that so many people think the existence of an Agency with that name means we are, in fact, secure, when we're nothing of the sort. I hate the internment camp mentality of "rounding up" anyone who might be a bad person and locking them up incommunicado. I hate how they're so obviously groping in the dark, desperate to prove their worth but incapable of identifying the most obvious source of danger.

The TSA - the airport inspectors - possibly that's a bit different, but surely there was some alternative to creating the Agency, forcing airports to accept it, and then not paying for it?

But who should I blame? The WEP didn't want these new "security" measures. He only caved in and agreed to form Homeland Security under drastic pressure from Congress (who should have known better).

I don't feel any safer for any of it except maybe the TSA, how about you?

Half a credit. Because, even if the TSA bit is making us "safer," it wasn't his idea and he fought against it.

State vs Federal
Right up front, I'm saying, "no credit for this one." He didn't abandon is belief in "state's rights." He only "centralized" power in Washington during the course of grabbing as much power as he could for himself and his cronies. This is precisely the kind of behavior anyone with half a brain expected from him.

No Child Left Behind
I'm thinking, it was pretty obvious what the flaw in the plan was, even in the beginning. This created a shift from teaching to administration. Instead of knowledge, today's educator's focus on teaching test-taking skills.

But is the WEP entitled to points for doing something, even if it was obviously the wrong thing and we all know he was prevented from doing the right thing by the "abolish the Department of Education" weirdos on the Right?

I mean, if the government had said they were going to dump $50 billion into education to improve the life of everyone in the country and deal a mortal blow to poverty and the "welfare state" the rightwingers are so convinced is coming--well, those same rightwingers would have screamed themselves apoplectic. (I mention that figure because of the noticeable lack of rightwingnut outrage over the announcement that we were going to spend $50 billion to invade Iraq and kill people there.)

On the other hand, the whole NCLB did have the (no-doubt unintended) consequence of making people think about the problems in our education system and maybe the next Administration will have the momentum behind them to do something useful? They can take this lackluster plan, spend some of that 'blood for oil' money here in the States instead of overseas, and maybe actually improve our educational system.

I'll award one credit--just because the single shovel-full of work the Bush Administration did might turn out to be the first piece of work in the foundation of something worthwhile.

The Great Prescription Drug Benefit
A delightful giveaway to pharmaceuticals and a worthy payback for all of those ginormous campaign donations. The Federal government pays pharmaceutical companies to investigate and develop new drugs, gives them tax breaks for the (Federal government) money they spent developing new drugs, and then pays an inflated retail price to buy the (Federal government-funded) new drugs.

The benefit to citizens seems almost incidental.

We may never know who's to blame for the mess. Any company with 2-1/2 employees can get a discount prescription drug plan. Why does the federal government, with a constituency in the millions, have to pay retail? Heck, I can get a discount without even having a plan. My pharmacy gives me a discount if I buy a 90-day supply of my meds at one time. Why do the Feds pay retail?

And yet, there are a lot of people in this country who can now afford much-needed medications. How do we weigh that against the Feds insuring that our tax dollars will be used to pay at least 75% more for each of those drugs than we should be paying? Because I am all about helping others, but every dollar we're currently spending on prescription drugs means 75 cents less we can spend on other needs.

Okay, 2-1/2 credits for that one.

Advocate of human dignity
They tortured people, you know. His administration made it official government policy that the USofA is a "Torture State." We are the fulcrum of the Axis of Evil--we do evil and by those policies and others, we incite evil.

Plus which. Torture. He turned us into torturers. That's what he thinks the USofA is. That's what "patriotism" is to him. Torturing people who's only known 'crime' is that they know someone who hates them enough to have turned them in for a hefty cash payment.

Minus fifty.

Passionate defender of liberty
"Liberty" has nothing to do with invading countries and slaughtering thousands of people on the flimsy excuse that someone who was oppressing them looked at you funny and said mean things about your daddy.

Minus fifty.

Lover of freedom
Freedom has little or nothing to do with locking hundreds of innocent until proven guilty human beings up in a barbed-wire prison for years and years and years.

You cannot kill people until they agree with you. It never works. You cannot bomb a country into liking you. Democracy, as an export, is not best delivered at the point of a bayonet. No one was ever nuked into prosperity and "pacification" is a euphemism for the peace of the grave.

Minus fifty.

Maybe he loves people, even the people who don't love him, but I've never seen any sign of it.


Maximum points available: 40
Passing grade: a generous 30
Bush's final score: -146

I've seen blatant corporate favoritism, cronyism, and scorched-earth politics. I've seen Bush use people relentlessly and then abandon them when they became politically or publicly liabilities. I've seen employment of dishonest 'buddies', short-sighted partisan jiggery-pokery, and outright lying. I've watched government agencies tasked with protecting the individual or the ecology stripped of funding and power. But I've never seen anything that suggested that George Bush cared to leave this country or the world as better places than he found them.

His is a presidency of the wealthy, for the wealthy, and by the wealthy.

For everyone else? He's perfectly happy to keep them down and deprived. A workforce, and an electorate, worried about job security and having a roof over their heads is a workforce, and an electorate, that the wealthy Republican elite can exploit.

After all, you can't have a ruling class unless you have a ruled class. And that's what the rightwing is really all about, isn't it? (Aside from the delusional have-nots over there in the corner, the ones who attribute their own failure to "succeed" in life to unfair competition from more able competitors.) It's about a Wealthy Elite--a class that embraces conservatism because they see in it the best chance of preserving their own wealth.

This Republican Wealthy Elite is frightened of "the people." Not because of race, gender, or sexual preference, although those are always handy labels they can use to keep the electorate divided and their "base" stirred up. They're frightened because they believe that the success of others necessarily must come at the R.W.E.'s expense.

The R.W.E. can't conceive of a world where there's enough to go around.. They can't conceive of "enough", so they cling desperately to what they have, and grab greedily at everything else within reach.

And they hate anyone they think might want to take any of it away from them.

Their most potent weapons? Faith and hate.

They don't care if someone is gay. Several of them are gay. They don't care what color someone's skin is. Being "The Right Sort" isn't necessarily about that any more. They don't care if women are sexually active outside of marriage. The ones who are straight are mostly very happy to meet women willing to have sex without marriage. (They're equally happy not to wind up paying child support afterwards.) They don't care about religion. Many of them are in finance and many of them are suppliers of weapons to the military. The bible has things to say about usury and murder, and they know it. Some of them just don't believe.

All of that stuff is PR for the proletariat. And it works. They whip up hate--whether it's against the Democrats or the homosexuals or the Muslims or just the people who live on land that has a lot of oil, and they feed on it to stay strong. Sort of--vampirism.

They're afraid, every day, that their way of life might end. They fight by whipping up fear and hatred in others.

It would be sad, if they weren't so dangerous.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:18 PM


There's a lot more in that article to ding: Africa? Most independent observers admit that our influence in Africa is at something of a low ebb, though it was never great to begin with. China is making a huge diplomatic and economic push into African affairs, mostly by promising that it will provide aid and trade without nattering about humanitarianism, rights, etc. In response to that, the Bush administration has done.... nothing.

And don't get me started on the equation of "liberal" with "big government": it's absurd and, as you note, the growth is all in the "Big Brother" territory that is decidedly and deliberately illiberal.

NCLB? A trojan horse, designed to defund public education entirely.

Posted by: Ahistoricality at September 10, 2008 11:03 AM

I know there's more I should have ranted about. :) But I was approaching novella-length already. I'm surprised you bothered to read anything that long!

The article itself is thought-provoking. I've tried to decide just how serious the author was about all of that, but it's tough for me. When it comes to Bush, I just don't have an objective bone in my body.

Posted by: Anne at September 10, 2008 11:46 AM