Archive for the ‘Bush/Bush Administration’ Category
From Digby, who really ought to know better by now.
And once we cut the deficit by doing nothing and everyone has pulled themselves together after this collective panic attack, we can all sit down and have a rational discussion about long term health care costs and fixing that little shortfall in Social Security.
Isn’t that cute? She thinks we can still have one of those. She thinks there’s enough left of our brains after 20 years of Fox that we still remember what rational discussion is.
Of course, it’s possible she’s being sarcastic. I hadn’t thought of that.
As if poor Haiti didn’t have enough trouble, President Obama plans to send George W Bush, the man who took the disaster of Katrina and made it into a top-notch tragedy of epic proportions just to destroy a bastion of GOP political opponents, to Haiti to help straighten things out.
President Obama is asking his two immediate predecessors – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – to come together to lead the nation’s humanitarian and relief efforts to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake that has ravaged the Caribbean island.
The partnership is expected to be announced by the White House in the coming days, after officials have a better handle on the full scope of the devastation. Mr. Obama called Mr. Bush on Wednesday, aides to both men said, and Mr. Bush agreed to do whatever he could to help.
OK, so Clinton will be there, too. The Dynamic Duo? I don’t think so. Clinton knows govt and could help lobby for aid and clear away red tape. All Bush knos how to do in a disaster is stand in front of it and promise money he has no intention of delivering. So “whatever he can do to help” means photo-ops and empty promises?
Also known as “innocence” or “prolonged ignorance”, it is often encased in infantilism.
Shortly after the First World War, John Dos Passos declared in his seminal novel 1919 “the death of innocence in America”. It became a catchphrase, the summation of America’s sudden blasted knowledge of a world – Europe – from which it had always considered itself safely distant. The world had shrunk, Dos Passos was saying, and the USA had finally been drawn into it. We were part of a global reality whether we liked it or not. American men, after all, had died fighting a war that had started in Europe over European beligerences.
Needless to say, Dos Passos’ declaration of the death was premature and greatly exaggerated. It may have been clear to him and to the rest of that post-war generation of writers and political thinkers that the nation could no longer afford the luxury of the isolationism we had practiced with relief since the War of 1812, but as a people it turned out we had no intention of religuishing the useless but comforting ignorance that allowed us to escape responsibility for anything that happened on the world stage.
“Innocence”, either the loss of or the retaining of, became a major theme of the Roaring 20′s. Rather than embrace our new knowledge, we turned our backs on it and…played. From the self-involved if indistinct longing of Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby for easy pickings and no regrets to the open admiration of Capone and the Wild West he made of the Chicago streets as if the consequences could be shrugged off as easily as a viewing of a Hollywood gangster film, we clung to our native “innocence” as if it were armor plating against adulthood. We shrugged off responsibility, if anything, much more casually than our attachment to films and their stars. We shut our eyes and turned up our noses whenever “serious people” warned that Wall Street was having us on and the whole thing was going to come crashing down. When it finally did, we felt hurt, betrayed, as if a parental promise of an endless playtime had been reneged on without reason. We pouted.
Nobody seems to want to hire poor Gonzo and David Addington’s having trouble finding a job, too. In fact the whole Bush Gang seems to have been elevated to Pariah Status. SPI’s David Horsey offers one explanation.
Actually, in true Bushie fashion, the witch doctor is lying. He wasn’t Bush’s science advisor. He was Bush’s economics advisor. This is Bush’s science advisor:
Prosecutor: And so Mr Rummysfelt has admitted that he knocked an elderly woman on the head with a tire iron in order to steal her purse after she cashed her Social Security check.
Judge:(to Defense) So your client is pleading guilty?
Defense: No, Your Honor, my client isn’t pleading at all. My client wants the charges dropped. Read the rest of this entry »
George W Bush, as I have argued many times, has been a spectacularly successful president – if your definition of “successful” includes turning the govt into a sort of combination National Chamber of Commerce and corporate wish-list enforcer. He has virtually gotten everything he’s asked for, usually on his own terms. He had a rubber-stamp Republican Congress for 6 of his 8 years and even when the Democrats won it back in ’06 largely due to the way his ultraconservative, pro-corporate policies devastated the country, they continued to give him pretty much everything he wanted, including FISA, telecom immunity, more troops in Iraq (anybody remember “the surge”?) and worker- and environment-unfriendly trade deals.
But once he’s gone, history is not going to look kindly on him. He hasn’t left yet and already they aren’t. The reasons are simple: his success has been a disaster for the nation in every important area one can think of. Surprisingly, that’s not how he sees it. For example, he’s currently running around insisting that the odious, destructive NCLB has been a major success and even had the gall to warn Obama not to mess with it.
Bush argued that No Child Left Behind has “forever changed America’s school systems” for the better, forcing accountability on failing public schools and leading to measurable improvements among poor and minority students. [There's no evidence whatever it has done any such thing, but since when would a lack of proof stop Bush?]
“I firmly believe that, thanks to this law, students are learning, an achievement gap is closing,” Bush told the audience at General Philip Kearny School.
He also suggested that Obama, who has vowed to overhaul the program, should tread carefully before following through on promises of reform. “There is a growing consensus across the country that now is not the time to water down standards or to roll back accountability,” Bush said.
No, there isn’t. There’s a growing consensus that NCLB has been an utter failure and needs to be re-vamped. Personally, I think it’s so bad there’s no saving it. We ought to throw it out and start over.
Glenn Greenwald confirms what I wrote five years ago: that the militarization of our politics was a Bush/neocon goal and that it has succeeded. Joe Biden, a supposed Democrat, is referring to Obama as our next Commander-in-Chief.
Biden’s formulation here is a particularly creepy rendition, since he’s taunting opponents of Obama that, come Tuesday, they will be forced to refer to him as “our commander in chief Barack Obama” (Sarah Palin, in the very first speech she delivered after being unveiled as the Vice Presidential candidate, said of John McCain: “that’s the kind of man I want as our commander in chief,” and she’s been delivering that same line in her stump speech ever since).
This is much more than a semantic irritant. It’s a perversion of the Constitution, under which American civilians simply do not have a “commander in chief”; only those in the military — when it’s called into service — have one (Art. II, Sec. 2).
Worse, “commander in chief” is a military term, which reflects the core military dynamic: superiors issue orders which subordinates obey. That isn’t supposed to be the relationship between the U.S. President and civilian American citizens, but because the mindless phrase “our commander in chief” has become interchangeable with “the President,” that is exactly the attribute — supreme, unquestionable authority in all arenas — which has increasingly come to define the power of the President.
In this case, I hate to say I told you so but I did and I’m not the only one. Rob at Fact-esque points to an FDL post that harkens back to a GAO report that laid it all out 14 years ago when the derivatives market was invented. Under Clinton. Who also had little interest in regulating the financial sector that provided him mucho campaign dinero. Despite the heavyweights who are denying all knowledge that anything was amiss.
Alan Greenspan was forced to admit he had “put too much faith” in the power of an unrestricted market, which is a bit like a Japanese filmmaker saying he put too much faith in Godzilla. “Too Much” belief in a cartoon of the real world is not exactly a forgivable, legitimate reason for allowing the planetary economy to self-destruct because, after all, your rich friends got a whole lot richer for a while there for as long as they could maintain the myth. “Sorry, I didn’t realize stomping on your head with hobnail boots was going to crunch your skull” a) doesn’t do me much good when I’m dead and b) isn’t credible since everyone who has ever seen a boot or a skull and isn’t a MORON would be able to tell what would be likely to happen when they met.
There is, I think, nothing more maddening for me than to watch or listen to or even hear about one of this president’s moralistic speeches, the ones wherein he counsels everyone to “be true to American values”. I didn’t have to watch it or hear it but he just did another one, a commencement speech at Furman University in Greenville, SC, in which this defender of torture, this moralist who publicly admits he’s willing to let sick kids die if it means protecting insurance company profits, this ex-addict who abused booze and did so much coke he couldn’t remember if he’d done any, lectured the graduating class on living a “culture of responsibility” and told them “they would never find fulfillment in ‘alcohol, drugs or promiscuity.’” Easy for him to say. He’s had his already. Decades of it.
The hypocrisy at Furman must have been hip-deed on the ground, like wading through a basement after the sewer pipe bursts.
“A culture of responsibility means serving others,” Mr. Bush said. “To all of you, my call is to make service to others a way of life. Wherever you live, whatever you do, find a way to give back to your communities.”
To understand this clap-trap, we need a Bush Interpretator. I offer my services. I will explain the above quote by defining key words that don’t quite mean the same thing to Mr Bush that they do to you and me.
For instance, when we say the word “community”, we generally mean our community – the town we live in, the county, the state, perhaps the region. When Mr Bush says the word “community” what we know from his actions he really means to say is “business community”. For example, eRobin wrote about his intention to veto a Medicare Bill that he says protects doctors and patients “at the expense of private insurance companies.” Can’t have that in BushAmerica.
Then there is that lovely word “others”. If we are to decide who he means when he says “others” we have to look at who he has chosen to serve, and in that case the overwhemling answer would have to be “corporations” because Mr Bush has spent his entire presidency working to make things easier for them. He hasn’t lifted a finger to help anyone else. Of the weak and disenfranchised, from poor, sick kids to the refugees from Katrina to the elderly to the unemployed, he has been unavailable at best and actively hostile at worst. One of the biggest and most fervent of his crusades was the one to abolish the Social Security system and force everyone to win their retirement money through the slot-machine-type lottery of the stock market.
Therefore, if we are to take Mr Bush at his word defined by his actions, his translated comment would have to read:
“A culture of responsibility means serving corporations,” Mr. Bush said. “To all of you, my call is to make service to corporations a way of life. Wherever you live, whatever you do, find a way to give back to your business communities.”
Of course, I’m not the only one who sees through the Bush mask. The students and faculty of Furman itself were less than thrilled at his decision to pontificate at them.
[E]ven here, in a reliably Republican state, the president’s visit prompted protests by students and faculty members, who complained in recent weeks about his selection as a graduation speaker. The event at which he spoke on Saturday evening was open only to ticket holders.
More than 200 Furman professors and students signed a statement criticizing Bush administration policies and the Iraq war.
“Under ordinary circumstances, it would be an honor for Furman University to be visited by the president of the United States,” the statement said. “However, these are not ordinary circumstances.”
The statement said the Iraq war had “severely damaged our government’s ethical and moral credibility at home and abroad.”
Mr. Bush…ignored about 15 faculty members who stood silently, wearing T-shirts that bore the words, “We Object.”
I bet. That’s what he usually does. What surprises me is that the 15 were allowed into the event in the first place. He usually protects himself from dissenters by having them blocked from attending and the ones wearing critical t-shirts are normally arrested.
But the most hypocritical moment in a hyper-hypocritical speech has to be this one:
Mr. Bush said[,] “There is no shame in recognizing your failings or getting help if you need it. The tragedy comes when we fail to take responsibility for our weaknesses and surrender to them.”
This would be poignant if there was a scintilla of a suggestion that he was looking back on his own disastrous tenure with an inkling of understanding, but of course there wasn’t because he isn’t. At the end of his abominable presidency he is as certain that everybody else on the planet but him is wrong as he was at the beginning. He may actually believe, this president who has successfully ducked taking responsibility for any of his actions practically from the day he was born, that his avoidance of it is the apex of responsibility, that his blind stubborness represents the height of true strength.
Although I have to admit that in the Most Hypocritical Statement Sweepstakes, this one would give the previous one a run for its money:
Mr. Bush said: “Our country needs corporate responsibility as well as personal responsibility. So my call to those of you entering the business world is to be honest with your shareholders, be truthful with your customers and give back to the communities in which you live.”
One is forced to wonder what he could possibly mean by that, this man who has spent the last 7 years actively helping corporations avoid responsibility for their actions, lie to their shareholders, rip off their customers, and steal resources from every single community in which they’re located. How does one square this statement with the reality of his refusal to allow the SEC to investigate his buddy Ken Lay for 2 years? Or with his turning over of virtually every once-watchdog govt agency to lobbyists and corporate lawyers who come from the very industries those agencies are supposed to police? Or with the fact that his Justice Dept has investigated fewer cases of corporate malfeasance than any JD since the Teapot Dome scandal?
One can’t. They aren’t squarable. One is forced to the conclusion that this man who has escaped accountability for everything his entire life fully expects to continue escaping for whatever remains of it. Or else he is so incredibly dense that he actually believes white is black, down is up, and bad is good simply because he says so and the sycophants he has surrounded himself with echo it as loud as they can. “Mr President, you’re a genius. Of course you’re right, Mr President. Yes, Mr President.”
Bush White House: Sycophants-R-Us.
There is so little self-awareness in Bush that one simply can’t reasonably suspect that he isn’t what he patently is: a spoiled brat who has no more concept of the real world than a mushroom. Yet people pay to hear him speak riddles and hypocrisies and lies in a mangled English that is the best he can manage, this so-called Yale graduate.
UPDATE: (6/5/08) One rather astounding section of Bush’s speech escaped the notice of the fawning NYT reporter but not the sharp ears of Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Scot Lehigh: George W Bush warned the students about…going into debt.
I couldn’t make this stuff up.
But here’s what took the commencement cake: Bush’s warning to graduates to avoid amassing too much debt.
“You can strengthen our country by showing fiscal discipline in your lives,” he said. “It may sound funny coming from a visitor from Washington, D.C., but it’s important to your futures and the future of our country.”
Although that quote suggests the president has some inkling that he’s an unlikely messenger on this topic, it didn’t keep him from offering this counsel: “My advice to you is not to dig a financial hole that you can’t get out of. Live within your means.”
Having inherited a budget in surplus and a declining national debt, this president pushed through a series of tax cuts and presided over spending increases that have left us awash in red ink.
Publicly held federal debt has gone from $3.4 trillion when Bush took office to $5.3 trillion. Add in the trillions owed to government accounts like the Social Security Trust Fund, and our total national debt is now $9.4 trillion, up from $5.6 trillion in 2000. That’s more than $30,000 for every American citizen. Meanwhile, since 2001, long-term unfunded liabilities and commitments have ballooned from about $20 trillion to more than $50 trillion.
“We have gone from a point where we had current and projected budget surpluses to where we have large and growing deficits,” says former comptroller general David Walker, who led the Government Accountability Office from late 1998 until March of this year. “And we have gone from a point where we were projected to pay off all the federal debt and have fiscal sustainability for 40-plus years to a point where we have large and mounting debt burdens and the simulation model that is used by GAO to project fiscal sustainability crashes in about 40 years.”
ZERO self-awareness factor, ZERO irony quotient.
Two short statements before we begin:
- This is not intended to be anything like an exhaustive list, only a beginning for a list I hope will grow like a tree with the addition of many branches connected but spreading in all directions.
- My primary purpose is to set down, as clearly as possible, some of the Principles which I believe trump all and every convenient political excuse for doing nothing or worse, doing the opposite because we can convince ourselves it’s expedient. There are such principles and it’s time we acknowledged them. (All Hail Chris Dodd!)
- My secondary purpose is to help foster the apparently near-lost notion that politics is about something greater than re-election. In a democracy, it is the ultimate expression of justice, mercy, and community. It is about organizing and then manifesting the common good. It is about resisting abuses of power, whether from corporations, the military, foreign enemies, or the government itself. What it is NOT about is its own perpetuation at the expense of democratic principles and/or social comity.
Principle 1: The Law and the Constitution
While one can certainly argue about various interpretations of parts of the Constitution, the one Truth which must be considered incontrovertible is that the Constitution is the foundation of the nation’s legal structure. Two hundred years+ of precedent and legal opinion rest on that foundation, and while it is neither desirable nor practical to cleave literally to everything in it – it is a document written by fallible men, after all – it is dangerous and potentially destructive to ignore it altogether.
Far worse is the idea that a single politician – the president – has either the authority or the power to re-write portions of it without the consent of the governed (that’s us, people). That contentious, not to say arrogant, belief is contrary to the very meaning and purpose of the document. To insist that the president can do such a thing is to insist that the president is a monarch, not a subject of the people but a dictator who can make his own laws – the very condition against which the Founding Fathers rebelled and which caused them to write the Constitution in the first place.
The Constitution is and was from the very beginning an attempt to enshrine in law the concept that “the just powers of the executive derive from the consent of the governed” - not from the material and possibly accidental acquisition of power, whether military, financial, or political, but from the active consent of the community and its people. To maintain (much less act) otherwise is a violation of American law so breathtaking in its extremity and its contempt for the source of American society that it MUST define such a one as totally and utterly un-American. In other words, a Traitor.
There can be no compromise here. One CANNOT be at once a believer in democracy and at the same time award – or even be willing to tolerate – the assumption of monarchic powers by the executive branch (the president) and the concomitant loss of power by the legislative and judicial branches. There is room for interpretation and compromise with regard to exactly where the lines of power are drawn, but there is NO room for unilateral assumption of such power, especially by an executive so classically ignorant of democratic principles that he doesn’t even know what they are.
There can be no compromise here because to compromise about fundamental precepts is tantamount to declaring them non-operational. That in turn is tantamount to declaring that our democracy is no longer democratic because it is no longer governed by core democratic principles. It is now an autocracy with a monachic or dictatorial leader who may conduct himself by acknowledging the will of the people or in complete defiance of it, as he wishes.
In other words, that we have denounced our 230-yr-old “experiment in democracy” and gone back to empowering a functional monarchy – that we have willfully and deliberately traded our president for a king.
It may be said that the lines between one and the other are blurred, not easily defined. In many cases that may be true, but not in all. The Bush “signing statements” in which he added, like a king, codas that said he acknowledged the law but had no duty to obey it, should have sent up Red Flags all over the country. There is no ambiguity about what he was declaring, nor any confusion about what he meant: they were bald, flat-out rejections of the legislature’s power over the executive, direct and unarguable repudiations of fundamental Constitutional law. He should have been impeached for the very first one.
And even if they had been less obvious and incontrovertible than they were, they should still have occasioned an argument in the Congress – and in the press and public – over what they meant and whether they’d gone too far. There was no such argument (except in progressive blogs).
Why not? Because the so-called “opposition party” decided it wasn’t politically expedient. Despite our hopes, now that they’re in power they continue not to think so. This is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE. As pre-Nazi Germany eventually learned to its sorrow, it isn’t possible to sell out some of your core beliefs and still survive as the society you once were. You have fundamentally altered its nature with your gutting of centuries-old law in order to placate a power-hungry dictator you’re afraid of, and fear doesn’t excuse disemboweling your civilized principles simply because it’s “expedient” and “practical”.
At some point, if you don’t draw a line in the sand and declare “this far but no further” you become a dictator-enabler, an anti-democrat. A Traitor. You may hem and haw and delay until the question is no longer debatable, but when that moment is reached you MUST stand and fight or be accounted a coward, a sell-out, a Traitor to democracy. If you do not, then you and your party – the party that goes along with you – MUST be rejected by democrats because you have betrayed everything they stand for and allied yourself with monarchists who want to return kings to their thrones and send the people packing back to the fetid serfdom from which they emerged 250 years ago.
One CANNOT be a democrat – or a Democrat – if one believes in or supports or aids the reinstitution of monarchy. That ought to be self-explanatory. That it isn’t any more is one of the great sadnesses of Bush’s sad reign.
The other thing that Thomas Nephew’s post about his encounter with Eric Alterman throws into sharp relief comes from his commenters. It is the old tension between pragmatic compromise and ideological purity.
Put another way, when does the need to be elected in order to pursue your agenda cross the line into cowardice and/or philosophical emptiness? When does pragmatism turn into win-at-any-cost vapidness? IOW, where exactly is the dividing line between a Paul Wellstone and a Mitt Romney? And is there any room at all for principles? Alterman – and a great many other so-called liberals in the Democratic party – think not.
You know I have a lot of trouble thinking of any principles that I hold more dearly than defeating George Bush in 2000 (2008?) , in the election … [audience laughter] seriously! I think that principles are a form of vanity. Of moral vanity. I think principles are a very useful teaching method for children. I think… but… I have two problems with principles. One is that whatever principle you have I have a competing principle for the same situation. So when you say I’m doing this on principle I can tell you “but there’s another principle that’s at work in the same situation and you’re violating that principle.” So I think principles are what people do instead of making difficult decisions.
(emphasis in the original)
Maybe. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe pragmatism is a way to avoid the certain pain of sticking to difficult principles, principles you believe in but which may make being elected problematic.
I’m not going to discount the nerve, even the courage it takes for a committed believer to compromise his/her beliefs in order to affect a world which will leave him/her out if s/he doesn’t. But otoh, we’re now looking at a situation in the Democratic party where compromise – some say “surrender” – has gone so far that it’s hard to say what the Donkeys stand for any more or even if – like Romney – they can be said to stand for anything at all.
That isn’t a question Alterman or those like him want to discuss. Here’s Paul from Nephew’s comments section:
Thomas, I think you’ve happened upon the tension that occurs between the idealist and the pragmatist.
Alterman is a political opportunist. He’s more concerned with helping his Party obtain more power and influence than achieving goals based on ideals or principles. You may find he and his kind distasteful (as do I on more than a few occasions), but they are a necessary component of the system.
You are an idealist, who believes that the Party should use its power to push through social justice programs for the betterment of the country.
Paul, you’re oversimplifying to the point of condescension about idealists and pragmatists. And you’re also underestimating Thomas’ pragmatism, which his response and many past posts demonstrate.
Exactly. Mr Nephew has been far more willing to compromise than I have been and I’m nothing if not a pragmatist. The difference between the Alterman/Paul school and the Nephew/Nell school is the difference between a group for whom, just as Eric said, defeating George Bush is more important than anything else, and a group that believes it’s just as and perhaps far more important to prosecute accountability in order to prevent a repitition of the Bush/Cheney lawlessness.
But it goes beyond that, even. Defeating Bush is all very well and certainly important for the country. Yet as critical as that victory is, its importance does not allow us to duck the prime question:
And replace him with…what?
Even if we accept the connected propositions that a) defeating Bush is the Prime Directive and b) defeating Bush requires adopting GOP initiatives – which I hasten to say I don’t accept and neither does Thomas or Glenn Greenwald or any number of other lefties who’ve spoken up since the ’06 election who think exactly the opposite – even if you accept that duality, you’re forced to ask what difference it really makes if his replacement is just going to go on pursuing the Bush Agenda or, at a maximum, refuse to undo the damage that has been done so far.
Democrats and liberals have all too plainly been counting on a win in 2008, and have dealt away much of their honor and self-respect in the process of waiting for that blessed event — which may not come. But even if there is a President Obama or a President Clinton next January 10, the value of that victory has already been tarnished by their party’s — and its apologists — craven refusal to hold the most powerful lawbreaker and political criminal in the land to account.
Mr Nephew is convinced - he and Paul have at least this in common - that the Democratic refusal to stop the war, the spying, the torture, and the destruction of the economy that have been hallmarks of the Bush Regime is some sort of campaign strategy that they will jettison once the election is over and the White House is theirs. Far from being too idealistic, Mr Nephew is arguing that the Democrats are chasing the wrong strategy, that unprincipled surrender is a losing strategy.
In point of fact, it’s much more likely that the Democratic refusal to oppiose George Bush has much less to do with winning the election (as Greenwald pointed out months ago, the numbers suggest their willingness to roll over for the Bushies has badly hurt them in opinion polls, thus actually making it harder for them to win the longer they are seen as Bush enablers) than it has with the strong and demonstrable possibility that the Democratic party has been so focused on its need to WIN that it has become poisoned by its own obsession, infected by Republican success with the They’re Right/We’re Wrong Virus. If that’s the case, then they have chosen deflect a base uncomfortable with their new “principles” by using the win-at-any-cost excuse.
And much of the base is buying it.
There’s a legitimate argument here but those of us willing to have it must be just as willing to go all the way to the ultimate questions:
What has the Democratic party become since it was taken over by the neo-liberal New Democrats in the late 80′s?
Do they deserve to win? Are we really going to be any better off with a party that has grown used to making excuses for torture, supporting govt spying, prosecuting an illegal war, and abetting the growth of imperial powers in the presidency as if they aren’t worth worrying about?
Yes, I’m talking about George. The 1/3′s worth of dead-enders just shrunk.
CNN: 31% approval rating.
Gutless Wonder Senate Democrats will, thanks to Harry Reid and that tireless corporate sycophant, Jay Rockefeller, the telecom lobbyist’s BFF, pass the FISA bill today that will retroactively legalize Bush’s lawlessness and protect him, his administration, the Gonzales DOJ, and runaway telecom corps from any accountability for years of illegal spying. As Greenwald puts it:
[T]he most extraordinary aspect of all of this, if one really thinks about it — it isn’t merely that the Democratic Senate failed to investigate or bring about accountability for the clearest and more brazen acts of lawbreaking in the Bush administration, although that is true. Far beyond that, once in power, they are eagerly and aggressively taking affirmative steps — extraordinary steps — to protect Bush officials. While still knowing virtually nothing about what they did, they are acting to legalize Bush’s illegal spying programs and put an end to all pending investigations and efforts to uncover what happened.
How far we’ve come — really: disgracefully tumbled — from the days of the Church Committee, which aggressively uncovered surveillance abuses and then drafted legislation to outlaw them and prevent them from ever occurring again. It is, of course, precisely those post-Watergate laws which the Bush administration and their telecom conspirators purposely violated, and for which they are about to receive permanent, lawless protection.
Chris Dodd, who sacrificed his presidential ambitions to fight this bill, made an impassioned speech against passage last night. He lays out what’s at stake with little or no beating around the bush (no pun intended). Watch and listen to what a principled Democrat looks and sounds like. This may be the last time you get to see one.
Two recent posts at Talk to Action, the website that specializes in tracking the religious right, show quite clearly that despite our overwhelming rejection of mixing religion and education in the public arena, Xtian theocrats not only haven’t given up the effort to make the US a “Christian Nation” governed by Biblical rather than secular law, they’re surrounding their failed attempts with new arguments possibly scarier than the last bunch. Don Byrd opens yesterday’s post on Bush’s latest school voucher proposal by saying, “If there is one thing we should have learned from the Religious Right by now, it’s that they never give up.” Something we should remember always – you can’t take your eyes off them for a second.
Witness Bush’s latest excuse for proposing school vouchers yet again even though it’s been proved repeatedly that they don’t work. Under the typically Orwellian name, “Pell Grants for Kids”, misleading and inaccurate to say the least, Bush’s rationale verges on the creepy.
Non-public schools, including faith-based schools, have helped to educate generations of low-income students; however, they are disappearing at an alarming rate.
The buried assumption that it is the appropriate business of govt to rescue religious schools in financial trouble is directly contrary to our Constitutionally-mandated neutrality toward religion in a secular society. Byrd disposes of this argument in a few words.
Of all the stated reasons I’ve heard to offer school vouchers, propping up religious schools has got to be the worst. Religious institutions should make their own case for being, and should be supported by like-minded believers, not by taxpayer money. If they are “disappearing”, that is a concern to be addressed by the church, not by the government.
We certainly don’t want the mechanisms of the state to stand in the way of the church. But, we can’t be promoting them either.
Bush’s inability to either understand or accept that relatively simple concept is one of the hallmarks of his presidency and a key reason why it has failed. His “thinking” is so ideological, so limited, so shallow in nearly every respect that even patently improper ideas are never questioned. No matter how absurd they are or how much evidence exists that they’re wrong, ineffective, or even harmful to American society, he cannot see their flaws simply because he’s decided not to look for any. Anything he chooses to believe is true, and any evidence that it isn’t must have been faked or twisted. Like most ideologues, he always assumes that everyone else is also an ideologue. Like most corrupt Republicans, he assumes that everyone else must also be corrupt. Like most conservatives, he finds it easier to foster simple-minded beliefs than to do the work it would take to find the truth.
Which brings us to Chris Rodda’s post on HR 888.
HR 888 is a bill introduced by Cong Randy Forbes (R-VA) that would try to force the phony “history” of our Founders’ supposed Christianity into the school system.
This resolution, which purports to promote “education on America’s history of religious faith,” is packed with the same American history lies found on the Christian nationalist websites, and in the books of pseudo-historians like David Barton. It lists a total of seventy-five “Whereas’s,” leading up to four resolves, the third of which is particularly disturbing — that the U.S. House of Representatives “rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation’s public buildings and educational resources,” a travesty of the highest magnitude, considering that most of the “history” this resolve aims to promote in our public buildings and schools IS NOT REAL!
(emphasis in the original)
In his latest post, Rodda catches us up on what Forbes has been saying to sell his bill and, true to form, he’s lying, this time about who he claims is against the bill.
The first is Mr. Forbes’s implication that the ACLU is somehow at the forefront of the fight against his resolution:
“You know it’s amazing to me — we get groups like the ACLU that are fighting so hard against this resolution, and yet you know some of the things that they have fought to allow people to do and say which so undermines the strength of this country, but yet they’re right out there fighting saying that we don’t even want these words discussed — we don’t even want ‘em put out there for the American people to talk about ‘em and see ‘em, and you know, it just isn’t a lot of intellectual honesty that goes around.”
The ACLU? As far as I know, the ACLU has had nothing to do with the fight against this resolution.
But the ACLU is a favorite – and therefore easy – target for the Right, so why not another lie? After all the others, one more will hardly be noticed.
Dan Barton’s influential – and very short – book, The Foundations of American Government, purports to prove that the Founders intended America to be a Christian Nation ruled by Biblical principles through a combination of seriously warped interpretations, out-of-context quotes, and just plain invented “history”. It has been debunked by both legitimate history scholars and experts in religious history so often that it’s astounding there’s anyone left who doesn’t know how bogus this “information” is. Yet that is the version of history that Forbes wants to foist on the country’s educational system. By force of law, if necessary.
And at no moment do any of these clowns, from Bush to Barton, have a moment’s hesitation when confronted by facts. They believe what they believe and facts are what they say they are, even when they make them up. Despite overwhelming evidence that Americans don’t want a theocratic govt, they’re going to shove it down our throats anyway, even if they have to do it under the radar when we’re not looking.
They’re fanatics, and fanatics NEVER QUIT. Neither can we.