Archive for category George W. Bush

Bush Library Rewrite Website Fact-Checks Fictional Legacy

Miss me yet?

H/t Huffington Post.

President George W. Bush famously remarked that he couldn’t think of any mistakes he was responsible for. That theme was carried forward in the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum that opened last May. Our Worst President Ever and his die-hard supporters continue to claim there was nothing wrong with Bush’s decisions.

Fortunately for the truth, the nonprofit group Bridge Project has produced The Bush Rewrite, a website that exposes Bush’s attempt to rewrite history in his favor.

George W. Bush’s presidency was bookended by a pair of crises that shook the nation: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the financial meltdown that forced the government to bail out several of the nation’s largest banks in the fall of 2008. In between, the Bush White House was plagued by a series of scandals and controversies, policy failures, and another disaster in the form of Hurricane Katrina. By the end of his second term, Bush had become one of the most unpopular presidents ever as his political allies began working on the long-term project of restoring his legacy.

To that end, the creation of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, opened in April 2013, offered a unique opportunity to attempt to rewrite history.

Located in Dallas, Texas, the Bush Library highlights the major events and policy initiatives that took place during Bush’s time in the White House. But as one might expect, the exhibits give the impression that Bush’s decisions were correct and admirable, while glossing over his failures and the harmful consequences of his actions.

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Right-Wing Health Care: Just Go To The Emergency Room

First of all, let’s remember where the so-called Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) came from. It was invented by the right-wing Heritage Foundation.

That was then, this is now. These days, Heritage president and former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint is on a campaign to convince Republicans to shut down the government in order to defund the Affordable Care Act. According to DeMint:

“This might be that last off-ramp to stop Obamacare before it becomes more enmeshed in our culture.” The law “is not about getting better health care,” he continued. Uninsured Americans “will get better health care just going to the emergency room.”

This was a myth when George W. Bush said it, and it’s still a myth.

Think Progress:

The so-called “free” care at emergency rooms is a result of The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act or (EMTALA), which requires hospitals that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to treat patients for emergency medical conditions regardless of legal status or ability to pay. But EMTALA only applies to medical emergencies like heart attacks or serious injury. It does not offer any treatment for chronic conditions, leaving the millions of Americans with diabetes who need regular access to medication to stay alive, or asthma patients, or women diagnosed with breast cancer without access to care.

The right-wing keeps saying “just go to the emergency room,” and there is not enough push-back on that from the reality-based community.

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Pay Is Too Damn Low

Today is the anniversary of NOT raising the minimum wage. Again. Four years ago, the federal minimum wage topped out at $7.25 an hour as a result of a law signed by President George W. Bush. A full-time worker earning the minimum wage now pulls in a salary of about $15,000 per year, far below a living wage. If Congress doesn’t send President Obama legislation to sign by the end of his second term, he will be the first president since Ronald Reagan who didn’t raise the minimum wage at all.

“McBudgeting” video is from Low Pay Is Not OK. Apologies to Jimmy McMillan for making a variation on his famous slogan.

More info: The American Dream Has Turned into a Grueling Quest for Survival for Millions of People

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Rep. Chaffetz: Impeachment Is On The Table

When President Bush and VP Cheney publicly confessed to criminal acts, the Democrats let it pass. Probably they thought nobody would take impeachment seriously anymore after Republicans made a mockery of it during the Clinton administration. Then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously said impeachment was “off the table.”

Ah, but Republicans view impeachment differently. President Obama wasn’t even inaugurated before Republican politicians were calling for his impeachment. The right spawned a cottage industry of inventing Obama conspiracy theories. Some right-wingers are pretty sure Obama is the Anti-Christ described in the Book of Revelation.

So let’s not be surprised when Utah’s very own Rep. Jason Chaffetz joins in (emphasis added):

Rep. Jason Chaffetz says President Barack Obama’s handling of the government’s response to the Benghazi terrorist attack could be an impeachable offense and vows to continue digging at the “lies of highest magnitude” from the White House.

“It’s certainly a possibility,” the Utah Republican said Monday when asked about impeachment. “That’s not the goal but given the continued lies perpetrated by this administration, I don’t know where it’s going to go. … I’m not taking it off the table.

Never mind that terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomats happened 13 times during the Bush administration, and killed 98 people. Congressman Chaffetz is on a mission to destroy the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton too, if he can. He recently participated in the NINTH congressional hearing on the Benghazi assault, which has also been investigated by the FBI and a State Department Accountability Review Board chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen.

The irony here is that President Obama is actually guilty of impeachable offenses, which the Republicans can’t talk about because it all comes back to Bush and Cheney.

UPDATE: Jason Chaffetz Doubles Down On Possible Obama Impeachment: ‘I’m Not A Patient Person’

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The George W Bush Rehabilitation Project Continues Apace (updated)

With the opening of George W. Bush’s presidential library, the right wing and mainstream media have swung into action with the full scale George W. Bush Rehabilitation Project.

The goal of the project is relatively  modest – convince the real world that Dubya wasn’t such a terrible president, that he made bold and enduring decisions that will shape the world for the better for generations to come.

It’s crap.  Bush’s presidency was eight years of disasters compounded by his blind ideological governance.  Charles Krauthammer this morning at the D-News which begins with a massive lie:

The most common “one sentence” for George W. Bush (whose legacy is being reassessed as his presidential library opens) is: “He kept us safe.”

Except of course for that one time.  In September of 2001.  You remember that one right?

Bush’s presidency was eight years of disaster, corruption, scandal and failure.  I agree with Paul Waldman’s assessment:

Nobody could argue he didnothing good; for instance, he put resources toward addressing the AIDS crisis in Africa, knowing that there was little domestic benefit to be had. And from what one can tell, in person Bush was usually a nice guy. But we shouldn’t let the mists of time make us forget all the awful things he did, too. Presidents have to be judged by their actions and the effects those actions have on the country and the world. Bush’s eight years in office were a string of disasters, and not little ones either. His disasters were grand and far-reaching, from the hundreds of thousands who died in Iraq to the squandering of trillions of dollars to the abandonment of New Orleans during Katrina. A few years later those things may no longer make us boil with rage. But we shouldn’t forget them.

The argument was never he was a bad man (although that is debatable) – a rich entitled jerk, yes, intellectually incurious, self confident in his own judgement to the point idiocy, but he was also a bad president.  An honest assessment of his administration has to include the fact that in its ruins were the seeds of the tea party and its attendant lunacies.  The Obama administration has failed to clean up all of Bush’s messes, but don’t forget they were Bush’s messes.

Saw this great post at Mano Singham’s place – the video of Chris Hayes is worth the time.  Singham’s title may win for most understated condemnation in a while: Thatcher and Bush were just as bad as you remembered them

I like Chris Hayes’ point that some of the “praise” for Bush amounts to “Yeah!  He made decisions!” as if making decisions itself is a victory and the consequences are entirely secondary.  Bush’s administration was every bit as bad as you thought.

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Ten Years Ago Today . . . And No It Was Not Worth It

I hate looking back.  Ten years ago today the US invastion of Iraq began. 

The push for war with Iraq felt like a time of public madness.  The American media has never been less absolutely incompetent than in those months.  Yeah, the media pretty much sucks now, but back then they were awful beyond the telling of it.  The largest peace rallies in history got no coverage.  American media has spent the last decade hoping no one reminds them how bad they were, how gullible, how insanely biased for the Bush administration they were and how they mindlessly lapped up any lie they were told. Read the rest of this entry »

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An Exercise in Truth-Telling

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Tonight’s must-see TV is on MSNBC at 7 pm: “Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War” uses the occasion of the upcoming tenth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq for an unusual exercise in media truth-telling, hosted by Rachel Maddow. The documentary is based on a book co-authored by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.

In the documentary, many of those who were sources for the book “Hubris” appear on camera for the first time. One of them, Mark Rossini, was then an FBI counter-terrorism agent detailed to the CIA. He was assigned the task of evaluating a Czech intelligence report that Mohammed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker, had met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague before the attack on the World Trade Towers. Cheney repeatedly invoked the report as evidence of Iraqi involvement in 9/11. “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April,” Cheney said on Meet the Press on Dec. 9, 2001. But the evidence used to support the claim–a supposed photograph of Atta in Prague the day of the alleged meeting—had already been debunked by Rossini. He analyzed the photo and immediately saw it was bogus: the picture of the Czech “Atta” looked nothing like the real terrorist. It was a conclusion he relayed up the chain, assuming he had put the matter to rest. Then he heard Cheney endorsing the discredited report on national television. “I remember looking at the TV screen and saying, ‘What did I just hear?’ And I–first time in my life, I actually threw something at the television because I couldn’t believe what I just heard,” Rossini says.

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Does The President Have the Power to Execute Americans Without Any Charges or Due Process?

Somebody has leaked a 16-page “white paper” (PDF) to NBC News’ Michael Isikoff. Prepared by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, it tries to justify President Obama’s claim that he has the power to target even Americans for assassination without due process. This is not the primary Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo justifying Obama’s kill list – that is still classified – but it appears to track the reasoning of that memo as anonymously described to the New York Times in October 2011.

Glenn Greenwald:

This new memo is entitled: “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force”. It claims its conclusion is “reached with recognition of the extraordinary seriousness of a lethal operation by the United States against a US citizen”. Yet it is every bit as chilling as the Bush OLC torture memos in how its clinical, legalistic tone completely sanitizes the radical and dangerous power it purports to authorize.

According to the “white paper,” if the US government simply asserts without evidence or trial that someone is a terrorist, then they are assumed to be, and they can then be punished as such – with indefinite imprisonment or death. The paper states that presidential assassinations are justified when “an informed, high-level official of the US government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US.”

What is “an imminent threat”? The paper expressly states that it is inventing “a broader concept of imminence” than is typically used in domestic law. Specifically, the president’s assassination power “does not require that the US have clear evidence that a specific attack… will take place in the immediate future.”

Basically, the Obama administration has asserted the power to kill anyone (including American citizens) anywhere, for any reason (or no reason – how do we know, because the decision is secret?), anytime they want to. And they are claiming that this is constitutional and legal.

I’m encouraged that not all Americans are buying this outrageous claim. A recent poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University found 48 percent of Americans think it is illegal to “target US citizens living in other countries with drones,” while 24 percent think it is legal. But the same poll found majority approval for the use of drone attacks against “people and other targets deemed to be a threat to the US” whether carried out by the CIA or the military, as long as those targets are not American citizens.

Ever since George W. Bush took power as a “unitary executive,” it seems that federal law, our Constitution and Bill of Rights have been all been subject to repeal via secret OLC memos. Illegal government actions became routine, mostly carried out in secret but sometimes we find out about them. The Obama administration hasn’t done much if anything to restore the rule of law, and they have instituted an unprecedented crackdown on whistle-blowers.

The trend is toward more illegality and less transparency.

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WikiLeaks Releases Prisoner Treatment Manual From Guantanamo

Guantanamo

By Agence France-Presse

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks website on Thursday started publishing more than 100 US Department of Defense documents including the first prisoner treatment manual for Guantanamo Bay.

…Among the documents is the 2002 manual for staff at Camp Delta at Guantanamo, shortly after it was set up by US President George W. Bush to house alleged Al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees from the “war on terror”.

“This document is of significant historical importance. Guantanamo Bay has become the symbol for systematised human rights abuse in the West with good reason,” said Assange, the founder of the website.

He added: “‘The ‘Detainee Policies’ show the anatomy of the beast that is post-9/11 detention, the carving out of a dark space where law and rights do not apply, where persons can be detained without a trace at the convenience of the US Department of Defense.

“It shows the excesses of the early days of war against an unknown ‘enemy’ and how these policies matured and evolved, ultimately deriving into the permanent state of exception that the United States now finds itself in, a decade later.”

UPDATE: WikiLeaks Releases US Military Policies for Detention & Avoiding Accountability for Torture

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Top Romney Advisor Calls Obama ‘Lazy.’ Racists Defend Statement as NOT Racist!

You’d have to be an asshole to defend Mitt Romney’s John Sununu’s statement calling our first Black President ‘lazy,’ as anything more than pure racism in its ugliest form.

Mitt Romney ratcheted his racist campaign up to a new level on October 4th, in an interview with veteran journalist Andrea Mitchell.   Romney’s top advisor, former racist governor of New Hampshire, John Sununu was Romney’s top pick to all but call Barack Obama ‘Nigger.’

 

You are a racist IF these ideas are lurking your head right now:

Hey! He didn’t actually use the word “Nigger.”  Besides, even some White people are lazy. All I have to do is defend the “lazy” word. Hmmm. EASY!

‘Wait no! Bush was lazy. All I have to do is find where someone called Bush “lazy” and I’m golden. Even better; if I can find where a Black man called Bush lazy, I can call REVERSE RACISM! …Shit, too much work.

I know, Sununu proved Obama is lazy because he didn’t want to pick up the pizza. Anyone could feel like not getting the pizza, even ME! I AM LAZY TOO AND I AM WHITE!  Hell, I know a Black guy and never gets ME pizza.’

If these or any similar thoughts are running through your head, your are a racist. And yes, even if you thought about dating a Black chick (or guy) once, you are still a racist.

It might help to consider other clues. This racist (John Sununu) wasn’t your average Joe Blow racist shootin’ the shit in some parking lot in Nashua. Mr. Sununu is no dumb ass racist. He is a smart bitchy racist…just like Romney.

Romney and Sununu planned HOW to call Obama ‘lazy’ and on which day and on which national TV station. They knew they would be accused of being racist. That is why they did it. They knew you would get that tingling feeling on the back of your neck when you got inspired enough to defend them. And they know how important the tingles are in your decision making process.

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Romney’s Total Neocon Meltdown

Romney's self-satisfied smirk

The Romney-Ryan campaign achieved a new low on September 11. Willard (“Mitt”) Romney attempted to suggest that President Obama is in league with Arab terrorists, and implied that “American values” include bigotry and hatred based on religious differences. He left the press conference with a self-satisfied smirk reminiscent of the last Republican president. Indeed, Romney’s irresponsible reaction to violence in Libya and Egypt is the surest indication that he plans to repeat the mistakes of George W. Bush.

Because Romney has had almost nothing to say about foreign policy, not enough attention has been focused on who he would appoint to key positions in the White House, Pentagon, and State Department. Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. John Bolton and other rabid neocons head the list.

Bolton is one of eight Romney advisers who signed letters drafted by the Project for a New American Century, an influential neoconservative advocacy group founded in the 1990s, urging the Clinton and Bush administrations to attack Iraq. PNAC founding member Paula Dobriansky, leading advocate of Bush’s ill-fated “freedom agenda” as an official in the State Department, recently joined the Romney campaign full time. Another PNAC founder, Eliot Cohen, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009, wrote the foreword to the Romney campaign’s foreign policy white paper, which was titled, perhaps not coincidentally, “An American Century.” Cohen was a tutor to Bush administration neocons. Following 9/11, he dubbed the war on terror “World War IV,” arguing that Iraq, being an “obvious candidate, having not only helped Al Qaeda, but…developed weapons of mass destruction,” should be its center. In 2009 Cohen urged the Obama administration to “actively seek the overthrow” of Iran’s government.

…Romney’s team is notable for including Bush aides tarnished by the Iraq fiasco: Robert Joseph, the National Security Council official who inserted the infamous “sixteen words” in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union message claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger; Dan Senor, former spokesman for the hapless Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer in Iraq; and Eric Edelman, a top official at the Pentagon under Bush.

There is plenty to criticize in President Obama’s foreign policy, including his conduct of the war in Afghanistan, the failure to close Guantanamo and end preventive detention, the out-of-control drone war in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries, the Libya intervention without congressional authorization, and his attempt to retain military bases in Iraq. However, short of starting a war with Iran, it would be hard to imagine how Obama could do as badly as Bush. America’s allies around the world (with the possible exception of Netanyahu’s Israel) see the Obama administration as an improvement. Our relations with Russia and China have gotten better, too.

Michael Tomasky:

Far from creating his own crisis as Bush did, Obama was hit with one, the Arab Spring. We can’t know how all that will turn out, and things certainly look bleak at this moment in Egypt and Libya. But Obama did the only things that could be done at the time. Can you imagine the United States siding with Hosni Mubarak against those people in Tahrir Square, or permitting the pre-advertised massacre of thousands in Benghazi?

The world is the world. Obama can’t wave a wand at it. But he can do what he has done, which is to run a sober and responsible foreign policy, not one based on theories developed in think-tank seminars underwritten by some hawkish Israeli billionaire. Obama’s approach to foreign policy is the one that has guided this country at its best moments (which have not, alas, been as frequent as we’d like), and it’s the foreign policy most Americans want.


UPDATE:
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) says President Obama “is apologizing because he didn’t like America.” With friends like Akin, Romney doesn’t need enemies.

UPDATE: Bob Cesca: Mitt Romney Kneejerks Into Another Colossal Blunder (Given an opportunity to look presidential, Romney decided to channel Rush Limbaugh instead)

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Master of Assassins

Master of Assassins

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House counterterror chief John Brennan has seized the lead in choosing which terrorists will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure for both military and CIA targets.

Move over, Thufir Hawat (from Frank Herbert’s Dune). The title of Master of Assassins now applies to a real person. In the United States Government.

Glenn Greenwald:

Needless to say, all of this takes place in total secrecy, with no legal framework and no oversight of any kind. Indeed, even after they had Brennan publicly defend the CIA drone program, the Obama administration continue to insist in federal court that the program is too secretive even to confirm its existence. It’s just a tiny cadre of National Security State officials who decide, in the dark, whom they want dead, and then — once the President signs off — it is done. This is the Change with which the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate has gifted us: ”some of the officials carrying out the policy are equally leery of ‘how easy it has become to kill someone.’

Reuters previously described the secret process used to determine which human beings, including American citizens, would be targeted for due-process-free death-by-CIA: they “are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials” with “no public record” nor “any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules” — an actual death panel, though one invented by the White House rather than established by law. And now John Brennan has even more control over the process, and fewer checks, when issuing these death sentence decrees.

Remember in the Bush era when little things like the Patriot Act and warrantless eavesdropping and military commissions were the Radical and Lawless Assaults Trampling on Our Constitution and Our Values? Now, all those things are completely normalized — controversies over those policies are like quaint and obsolete relics of a more innocent era — and we now have things like unelected Death Sentence Czars instead.

Really, once the Executive seizes power like this, there’s no going back to the Constitution. Which, as George W. Bush famously remarked, is “just a goddamned piece of paper.”

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