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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.
Andrew Weaver writes at Media Transparency that Karl Rove is sitting in the middle of the Bush Library-Institute at SMU (Southern Methodist University) like a spider sitting in the middle of a web.
Bush’s trickster, Karl Rove, “is planning to take charge…of the design, fundraising, and planning” of the Bush presidential complex at SMU. Benjamin Johnson, a history professor at SMU, attended the 2007 annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians. Several colleagues there reported that Karl Rove had been traveling around the country examining research facilities and discussing how to select Bush institute fellows (Johnson, 2007a). One prominent library director said, “Rove seems to know exactly what the square footage is of the building that will be at SMU and where it will be located on campus” (Johnson, 2007a).
Mark Langdale, president of the Bush library foundation recently confirmed that Rove is advising the organization, stating that he is “a critical resource about what happened in the administration, and he has a lot of good ideas about programming and positioning” (Meyers, 2008). This hands-on involvement by Rove demonstrates the importance of the proposed think tank at SMU to Bush insiders.
Unless the UMC takes a stand, neither SMU nor the UMC will have any say over the actions, agenda, or direction of an autonomous $500 million partisan-driven complex at one of its major universities. Karl Rove, who has a long history of hard-ball partisanship, will be in charge and he will roll out a giant Trojan horse and push it right through the front gate. The 99 year lease for a single dollar with a 249 year option (that the Bush foundation has required) means that after July, 2008 the next chance for the church to address the issue is the year 2357 (Peck, 2008).
Which means, of course, that this is the last effective time the Methodist Church will have a chance to challenge the erection of a propaganda center on their campus that will have as its goal the propagation of the Bush Agenda – torture, Constitution-trashing, monarchical presidential power, preemptive war, falsified intelligence, corporate toadying, etc – ruled over by the conscienceless man who made it happen with trickery, deceit, lies, and thievery. It will, as Andrew writes, “recruit, train, support, organize and deploy the next generation of right-wing political operatives.”
And all of it under Rove’s command.
If that doesn’t scare you, read the rest of the article.
With Bishop Jones fronting for the Bush family and scorning the wishes and feelings of his own church membership, the effort to stop the Bush Propaganda Center is moving toward the courtroom. Bush’s insistence on siting the Propaganda Center at SMU despite the vote of the UMC’s GC rejecting it has created a legal problem for the Methodist Church. Andrew Weaver explains (from an email).
Our legal team tells us that we need to go to court to give us the best chance to protect the property rights and voting rights of the 290 Jurisdictional Conference delegates who are the elected representatives of the property owners, i.e., the 1.83 million UMC members of the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ).
Unfortunately, the legal effort needs a member of the SCJ to come forward and act as the plaintiff. That hasn’t happened. Why?
Many fear the consequences to their future ministry if they appear to challenge their bishop, while others fear being countersued by the Bush Foundation.
With the Mafia-like scare tactics and intimidation typical of the Bush family’s dealings since Grandaddy Prentiss played kissy-kiss with the Nazis, George W and Karl Rove have effectively squashed the threat that for once they might have to obey an inconvenient law. With a tame bishop in their pockets and an on-retainer legal team, each ready to punish any Methodist who dares listen to his/her conscience instead of George W Bush, it seems that the Bush family will get away with flouting the law – this time church law – yet again.
Jim Hightower reported last month that Bush has ex-campaign shyster and all-round political hardman Karl Rove setting up the Library/Propaganda Center.
The Bushites have cut a deal with SMU executives to locate his presidential library on this private campus in one of Dallas’s wealthiest neighborhoods. They’ve targeted some Arab oil kingdoms, corporate chieftains, and wealthy heiresses to be the “megadonors” they need to raise half-a-billion bucks to establish George’s ex-presidential palace.
This one is to be markedly different than the usual complex of library, museum, and policy institute that other presidents have built. First (and unsurprisingly), rather than placing the full archive of the administration’s papers in the SMU complex so historians and others have access, Bush is to have a heavily-censored, anti-academic library. None other that Karl Rove will help with the censoring, making sure that historians only peruse documents that cast the Bush-Cheney regime in a glowing light.
Rev Weaver notes:
The majority of the delegates feel they can live with the library, even with its current limitation — censorship by the president and his heirs in perpetuity through his Executive Order 13233, signed soon after 9/11. What many delegates are disturbed by and will vote against is the partisan think-tank to honor George Bush, which is being organized by Karl Rove. Neither SMU nor the United Methodist Church will have any control over the direction of the partisan institute, and that deeply troubles many.
So Karl Rove, as we reported some time ago, is going to be the connecting link between the so-called “library” and the Propaganda Center, making sure, in effect, that the library ignores scholarship for Bush worship and the “institute/think tank” ignores thinking for mindlessly pimping W’s policies and ideology. Which includes, Weaver reminds us, his ceaseless support for torture. Weaver makes the argument, as guest blogger at Wallwritings, that “Torture Is Not a Methodist Family Value“. After a short history of Bush’s advocacy of torture and Methodist founder John Wesley’s condemnation of it, Weaver writes:
President Bush refers to himself a “proud Methodist”, but he has shown little sign of contrition, regret or repentance for his personal behavior which violates Methodist standards set long ago by John Wesley. Instead, Bush attempts to justify himself and place a shield of protection around government officials who use torture.
W may identify himself as a “proud Methodist”, but as investigative reporter Joe Esterhaz proved in his book American Rhapsody and others have confirmed, George W Bush doesn’t attend a Methodist Church and hasn’t since he became born-again under the tutelage of theatrical fundie Arthur Blessit.
Whenever Bush got into trouble, it wasn’t Billy Graham or Methodist preachers he ran to for solace and counsel, it was Pat Robertson and Bob Jones. I began to suspect that Bush’s Methodism was part of Karl Rove’s For Campaign Purposes Only “compassionate conservative” illusion and that he was really a fundamentalist in disguise, a far-right-winger playing to the center. Then, when Graham himself debunked Bush’s account after the publication of W’s campaign biography, ghost-written by a sports writer named Mickey Herskowitz, I knew it.
The idea that the Bush family itself is Methodist in any legitimate sense must of necessity be questioned when we consider, say, Poppy’s unusually close relationship with whacko fundie Rev Moon. A relationship so close that he hosted Moon at his presidential library in (where else?) Texas after Moonie “interests” donated $$1M$$ to said library.
The fiction that any member of the Bush family is actually and in reality Methodist has persisted right to the present day even though there isn’t an iota of evidence to support the proposition from any quarter. Poppy and Barb are Moonies, and W is a born-again fundie evangelist whose chief spiritual advisor is the guy who thinks hurricanes are caused by homosexuality.
Given that his Methodism is now a busted myth, why all the determination to make sure the library gets sited at a Methodist university? The answer is simple, especially if you’ve ever studied the way Bush and Rove do things: it’s cover.
Rove helped Bush to run the most secretive presidency in US history because he knew bloody well that if the public caught on to the real Bush agenda, we’d throw them out on their asses. So it was common for Rove to provide cover to distract or hide their real policies: Orwellian names (“Healthy Forest” for a bill opening public lands to commercial logging), foxes in charge of henhouses (a corporate lawyer who specialized in breaking unions appointed to head the Labor Dept), and the standard Bush bait-and-switch (promising to increase funding for Pell Grants days before he cut them out of his budget). This is simply another cover.
Rove and Bush both know that if the Methodists knew what was actually going to go on at the Propaganda Center, they’d revolt. But Bush needs the reputation of the Methodists as centrists and mainstream religious bi-partisans in order to provide his radically ideological “institute” with a patina of legitimacy. “We can’t be cranks, we’re part of a Methodist university.”
IOW, the Methodist Church is being used by the Bushes. It is to be the sheep’s-clothing under which the wolf hides so unsuspecting prey will think they’re safe and wander close enough to be eaten. Is that the role the UMC wants to play? Clearly not, but Bush is in an apparent position to force them to be his “beard” whether they like it or not.
Not that the opposition is giving up. They have an alternate plan.
Over the past several months we have systematically analyzed the 290 delegates of the SCJ with the help of delegates or clergy from each annual conference. I have personally spoken with over 40 delegates. We identified about 130 progressives, 100 conservatives and 60 moderates in the 11 annual conferences. We need 146 votes to win. If we can educate the delegates about the dangers of the Bush partisan think thank to the academic integrity of SMU and the good name of our church, we can win the vote. Most United Methodists, including most bishops, are people who seek to do what is right and good.
I wish them luck.
Ex-Wisconsin Gov Tommy Thompson has ended his quixotic bid to be president, which is going to come as a shock to those of you who didn’t know he was running. Poor Tommy. He couldn’t even get his dog to take him seriously.
On a lighter note, Karl Rove has become the latest in a slew of escapists to bail out of the Bush Administration one step ahead of a subpoena. Best Post Title Award goes to cul heath of ratboy’s anvil, who sums it up nicely.
In other significant news:
The Washington Post devotes three precious pages of yesterday’s Business section to the importance of upscale grocery stores to the economy.
Linda Chavez proves once again that Republican gullibility is, to all intents and purposes, a bottomless pit.
Giant Bluefin tuna near extinction thanks to Bush policies deregulating commercial fishing.
Musical chairs CEO game continues as Chrysler hires fired and disgraced ex-Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli as its new chief. If he does for them what he did for HD, Chrysler will be bankrupt in 6 months and Nardelli will walk away with yet another record-breaking severence package.
Google allows corporate shills to counter negative news stories with positive propaganda.
Bush privatization drive stymied by renegade EEOC.
Cheney’s absurd notion of unlimited executive power – which is what the so-called “Unitary Executive Theory” amounts to, as Bush’s latest power grab makes inarguable – is forcing a Constitutional crisis. The central notion of what I will call the “Cheney Doctrine” that executive privilege, as Scott Horton put it, “trumps” the Constitution seems to have left the Congress with no alternatives to forcing accountability from the Administration except for criminal contempt citations.
We know what will happen if Miers & Rove et al are served with them: they’ll be ignored on the grounds of executive privilege and the Congress will have to go to court in a system packed with irresponsible Republican judges to enforce both the citations and the original subpoenas Bush has declared invalid. Either that or he’ll pardon them, making the issue moot. Meanwhile, the witnesses whose testimony is crucial to discovering the truth about this Administration hide safely behind the walls of presidential protection like Mafia hitters hiding behind the Code of Omerta.
It looks like a Mexican standoff, but Rutgers law professor Frank Askin says in a WaPo op-ed today that there’s another option to the contempt dance that at once asserts Congressional power and puts the Administration into a PR bind it won’t be easy for them to get out of: either branch of the Congress can have its sergeant-at-arms arrest those who refuse to answer a Congressional subpoena and throw them in the DC jail.
New York Times reporter Michael Gordon, their Man in Baghdad, wrote a courageous article in yesterday’s paper condemning his own reporting. Gordon, who was the first to accept Karl Rove’s latest rhetorical trick wherein the confusing host of insurgent groups in Iraq is re-labeled “Al Qaeda” for clarity, and then authored a series of reports based on the assumption that the trick was an actual description, criticized the very trick he had been using without once mentioning it was him who’d been using it.
[Bush’s] references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgency in Iraq and its relationship with the Qaeda leadership.
There is no question that the group is one of the most dangerous in Iraq. But Mr. Bush’s critics argue that he has overstated the Qaeda connection in an attempt to exploit the same kinds of post-Sept. 11 emotions that helped him win support for the invasion in the first place.
Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia did not exist before the Sept. 11 attacks. The Sunni group thrived as a magnet for recruiting and a force for violence largely because of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which brought an American occupying force of more than 100,000 troops to the heart of the Middle East, and led to a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.
Gordon, who is famous for re-writing Rove’s press releases without any sort of independent investigation or evaluation as to their veracity or accuracy, adopted Rove’s term-change from “the insurgents” to “Al Qaeda” the same day it was announced by Bush and has been pushing it in his reporting ever since. Yesterday’s article makes it clear that, as a conscientious newsman, he is no longer going to accept such shoddy journalism from himself.
“Michael Gordon”, Gordon said in an interview today with this site’s editor, “has been shamelessly shilling for an Administration with a penchant for telling lies, and I, for one, am not going to put up with it any more.”
Speaking from Baghdad via AIM (his avatar is a cartoon of Pinocchio whose nose grows as Gordon types), Mr Gordon explained that Gordon’s slack, sloppy approach was an insult to the whole concept of professional journalism.
“This business of Gordon’s simply copying press releases and and military PR handouts and then printing them without asking a single question or verifying a single fact,” Gordon grunted in disgust, “has to stop. It brings our whole profession into disrepute, and I can no longer just sit by and watch Michael Gordon destroy our credibility and the trust our readers put in us. It’s a disgrace and I’m calling him on it.”
Asked if he expected Gordon to defend himself in the light of these revelations, Gordon replied, “I doubt he has the guts.”
Back in the dim, dark days of 2000 when Dick Cheney chose himself to be Bush’s running mate out of a field of thousands, you may remember that there was some relief expressed in both the press and the blogosphere that the inexperienced lout would have a Vice President with experience and “gravitas” (remember that word?). Those of us aware of Cheney’s past and Halliburton’s present were appalled. Our counter was – “Who are we electing, exactly? Who’s going to run the show, Bush or Cheney?” We suspected that the inept Texas Gov would get run over top of by the hard-right machine of a man who’d cut his teeth in the Nixon White House and learned where the ropes-and-pulleys of power were under Reagan.
We sort of forgot that question over the next few years as Bush became the public face of every decision and Cheney hid out in his bunker, emerging only occasionally to make the rounds of the propaganda networks, Fox and CNN, to insist, in that flat, gray, voice that brooked no questions let alone dissension or argument, on the certainty of WMD’s in Iraq before retreating behind a wall of secrecy and rumors of ill health that bubbled into the public sphere through layers of leaks in a process eerily reminiscent of the last few Soviet Premiers before Gorbachev.
It seems we were right to be concerned and wrong to let Cheney escape the spotlight for so long. More than that, we underestimated the extent to which an inexperienced, not very bright president who, like a lazy middle manager in a branch bank, saw his role primarily as one of delegating responsibility to other people, was willing to turn power over to others with stronger presences and less malleable opinions.
As a result, we wound up, it seems, not with one president but with three co-presidents: Bush, Cheney, and Karl Rove.