Monday, May 23, 2005

May 20-22, 2005

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Is Bush The Worst President
EVER?


Yesterday’s column certainly hit a nerve. (I left it on the bottom of this page if you missed it.)

Is George W. Bush the worst president in the history of the nation? After five years in the White House we now have enough information to begin exploring that question.

So, presidential historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Beschloss, Haynes Johnson, are you folks up to this challenge?

Of course by the time those guys get around to publishing anything the issue would be moot. So, maybe there is someone(s) out there ready, willing and able to decide this pressing matter before it’s too late.

After reading yesterday’s piece readers added to the list of Bush – shall we call them “shortcomings.” Ruinous tax cuts, millions more American’s without health coverage, a wanton disregard for the environment, facilitating, and even rewarding, corporate corruption on Iraq-rebuilding contracts, stifling life-saving fetal stem cell research to curry favor with the religious right, torture, kidnappings, incarceration without trial and now the new British government memo that proves Bush planned to attack Iraq soon after he was elected, WMD or no WMD.

Asked by reporters if the administration would comply with Democrat’s demand for an explanation of that memo, WH spokesman Scott McClellan, tersely responded, “we see no need to respond.” (Translation: None you their damn business. None of your business either.)

Readers who responded to yesterday’s piece clearly shared my frustrations and fear that we have allowed things to go too far, and now it is too late to stop this rightwing, fundamentalist juggernaut. Some suggested, as I did, large street demonstrations opposing the war and Bush court nominees. Maybe millions of people in the street can convince arrogant Republicans that not everyone out here is a Red voter. And, it might just stiffen the spine of congressional Democrats, assuming they still have one.

Yesterday’s piece appeared today on AlterNet where those readers added their own comments and suggestions. Some suggested circulating an Internet petition demanding a national recall election. While not a constitutional remedy such a petition could be a useful organizing tool.

But I still believe that validation by a creditable source of my premise, that George W. Bush IS the worst president, ever, would be the most useful thing we could do right now.

So, is he? If not then I will shut up about it and just go back to just opposing his policies.

But, if the answer is, as I suspect, yes, yes he is the worst president ever, then wouldn’t that be such an important revelation that we should know it as soon as possible - while it matters and while we might, just might be able to do something about it?

There's no way this Republican-controlled congress will ever impeach Bush -- even if he were caught red-handed personally torturing Saddam in the Oval Office while being serviced by Monica. But, a well-documented study proving that Bush is indeed the worst president in history would certainly clip his wings – and those right-wings that flew him this lofty perch.

So again I ask, beg, plead, implore, grovel…. is there a non-partisan historian or organization out there that can settle this matter while it still matters? Is George W. Bush the worst president ever, or not?

(BTW, Earl Killian has already done a good deal of historical legwork for those interested in taking on this challenge. http://www.killian.com/earl/presidents.html )



Here are some letters from readers on this subject. Below them is the original column.
(And still more letters on this HERE.)

Not only is he the worst president ever but he's the scariest! Damn, I thought I was scared in the 70's always wondering if nuclear bombs were going to be set off. Things are scarier than I ever remember them. Between the debt situation, religion intruding everywhere, global warming/resource depletion, no substantial independent media to speak of, insane people running the world...YIKES!

Nevertheless, I wanted to let you know that I, and some of the people I hang with, DO care and will for some time.

To end on an upbeat note - did you hear what George Galloway had to say to Norm Coleman? Wasn't that great?! More of that, more of that!

Margaret Carbone

Editor,
I think you are on the right track identifying Bush
as the worst US President ever. That actually seems
a bit of a no-brainer, although I realize it takes courage to say it in print.

My concern is that he may actually be one of the worst
figures in all of Western history. Compare your list of
charges against him with Nero, the Pope of the Inquisition, Hitler, ...

In the entire record of Western "civilization" I am hard pressed to think of any regime more frightening than this unholy alliance of greed sucking business dudes -
Cheney, Lay, ... the "Religious" Right types Falwell et al, totally Machevillian political masterminds DeLay, Rove, Frist coupled with the complicity of Corporations who are allowed to do whatever they want without fear of Government sanction, and finally to the American people who are so dumbed down by 50 years of declining public education, and so spoiled by artificially cheap energy that they now believe is their God-given right - Saddam doesn't want to sell us Iraqi oil - well just invade and depose him. That's easy.

Until the American people crawl out of their Hummers,
wake up and demand to see Cheney's energy committee
meeting minutes, and really get their heads around where
these guys have put us, the rest of the world will justifiably despise us.


Bill Fellinger
Williston, Vermont



Mr. Pizzo
The Republicans have been so successful in demanding and getting what they want no matter the cost to the less-than-rich Americans? I cannot for the life of me comprehend how so many can be so ignorant of what is happening or stupid enough to let it happen if they know.

It's as if there is some sort of conservative religious revival taking place in the US that bears no resemblance to truth, fact, or reason.

Scary stuff. But why? I am convinced that it is too late to stop, undo, or reverse the terrible domestic and foreign policies of the Bush administration.

Just who is in power behind this shift to an ultra-conservative government? The famous authors of the 21st Century Plan that was concocted over 12 years ago?
The only way to make sense of what is happening today is to think oil. The US knows that cheap oil is running out and wants to position itself to control the flow of the largest reserves. Why else create permanent military bases in Iraq?

Once you understand that our national security and interests are tied directly to oil, everything else that is happening begins to make sense.

Connecting the dots, it is plausible that the US will engage militarily with any other country in order to protect the supply of oil for American corporations. Oil is the life-blood of capitalism and consumerism in this and every developed country.

And the average American won't speak up against such a policy because we will have lost our rights to do so.

Jeff
Rochester, MN

Steve,
I think that you're absolutely right. But Bush isn't just the worst prez we've ever had. he's also the dumbest! We've hit lows before, but nothing like this clown.

You know, for so many years we've elected Presidents, and whether you thought they were good or bad, whatever, you could always just forget who was in the WH and go about your life.

But with this Bozo, you have to keep up with his shenanigans on a daily basis because you just can't believe it. It's depressing!

Paul B

Steve
Just saw your blog for first time.....We are the underground and we have to be tenacious...Your blog summed up Bush ..I, like you, sometimes get the feeling we can’t do anything about it, but we can.. We are many....We just have to figure it out and don’t stop .The alternative is unthinkable.

I am calling Code Pink’s Grace Kelland today to give her ideas...Such as, a recall petition that states that we want a recall, a vote of no confidence election on paper ballots. An honest election --or are they afraid of an honest election?

Our bill of rights states that congress works for us, and working Americans are not being heard. They cannot destroy our country, they cannot bankrupt our country...They are wasting and stealing our money, and we want a recall!

This petition could be placed on many blogs and I am sure many people would sign it. I bet we could get millions of signatures..

It just might work.....
Peggy

Stephen,
Here in Orange County people are quiet. The flags and W stickers have finally been removed from most people's cars. No one talks readily about junior or Iraq so it is really hard to assess the attitude here.

Orange County is no longer the John Birch Society bastion of my youth due to the other two million people who have moved here in the last several decades, but it ain't no LA or San Francisco either. Clients in my industry are invariably "tax cut" conservatives who, if prodded, will mouth fealty to all the other bilge that issues forth from junior's lying pie hole. I think that privately they are probably horrified at the direction things are going, but would be committing commercial suicide if they shared their concerns with their pals at the yacht/country club. Not being a member, I am only guessing (hoping) of course. The OC (I hate that silly TV name) conservatives are state's rights types who must be nearly frantic at the continuing prospect of junior's DC black hole of political power - but they still love those tax cuts and of course those lucrative government contracts.

The local news is focused on Mr. Villaraigosa and car chases and missing brides and pop pederasts. Workers are loath to expose their true feelings at the water cooler for fear of being labeled a crank or a liberal. Who wants the boss to think you are unpatriotic or worse? My tactic is to talk to people my age raising male teenagers and to bring up the possibility of conscription. Many people seem to think I am crazy, but a few have agreed that they share similar fears. Its hell being a prophet.

The current news seems to indicate that we are at the tipping point, but as you point out it may be for naught. When a puke like Scott McClennan can blame and intimidate Newsweek for printing what should be common knowledge about US military torture and humiliation, its probably too late. Blaming the messenger, indeed.

My wish is for some progressive billionaires to fund a think tank archipelago, one of whose missions would be to research the biographies of any and all GOP leaders (it pains me to write "leaders") present and prospective and out them real good - show no mercy. And publicize their findings using the Heritage, AEI, Hoover Institute models. Ideas matter and the left better get the information/opinion infrastructure in place to compete or its over. We are stuck with junior, the worst president ever, but Jeb is being queued up and I fear that the foundation of destruction laid by his older brother will allow him flush the whole shebang right down the dumper.

From behind the Orange Curtain, I remain,
Kurt

Steve
The Dems need to get angry the way George Galloway did the other day. Why are they so weak-spined and mealy mouthed? I'm nearly 70 years old, but dammit--I'll march!

Sandy


Steve,
I just got back from a month in South Africa. And I tell you what - I felt a lot freer and safer there than I do here. You have no idea what a bad rep this country has over there! What's interesting is that hardly anyone takes any notice of the US any more - they are more interested in what is happening in their own country and in Europe. The majority feels that the US is in deep trouble.

Susan


Steve,
Bush is not just guilty of torture, but murder. Lots of murders. Not as in collateral damage from a bomb killing people. I mean people tortured to death by the U.S. Also, the obscenity of redefining "torture" as anything just short of causing "organ failure" -- with an exception that even causing organ failure and death isn't torture if we were seeking information. (A bit like the Catholic church's old view that a married woman could have sex with her husband without committing a sin as long as it was solely for the purpose of reproduction and she didn't enjoy it!)

Bill

STEPHEN,
YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT ON THE BUSH MACHINE AND THE RADICAL RIGHT WING'S TAKE-AWAY OF OUR DEMOCRACY, TO BE REPLACED BY A THEOCRATIC NEO-NAZI DICTATORSHIP.

YOU ARE ALSO CORRECT IN STATING WE HAVE DONE TOO LITTLE , TOO LATE, TO STOP THIS ABOMINATION. OUR LAST STAND IS MASS DEMONSTRATIONS AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, BUT ALAS, WHO IS THERE TO ORGANIZE THEM? PERHAPS GETTING YOUR STORY OUT, FORCEFULLY AND REPEATEDLY, EVERY WAY YOU CAN, WILL CAUSE A GROUNDSWELL.

TIME IS ON OUR SIDE. IRAQ WILL ONLY GET WORSE, SOCIAL PROTECTIONS WILL ONLY DIMINISH, HEALTH COSTS WILL CONTINUE TO SKYROCKET, ENERGY CRISIS IS HERE, ETC. WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS GET THE COUNTRY PISSED OFF.........GOOD LUCK.

Dr, BOB BROGNA

P.S. AS AN M.D. IT IS QUITE APPARENT TO ME THAT OUR PRES. HAS SERIOUS NEUROLOGICAL PROBLEMS, AND IS SOCIO-PSYCHO-PATHICALLY DYSFUNCTIONAL --SAME AS HITLER

(Yo, Dr. Bob. You need to take your keyboard in for a thorough digital exam. It appears something is stuck in there causing it to produce only CAPS.)

Steve,
I loved your Daily Thinking Points where you build a case, piece-by- piece, why Bush is the worst president ever.

It should be emailed to every conservative in the country. Hell, the GOP should have to address each and every one of the indictments you laid out on primetime nationwide TV.

Keep it up!
Unsigned

Mr. Pizzo
Your comments about the current government and its drive for power and control has a very familiar ring. But, it isn't just this administration or even the last forty years. The thrust for power and control has been a part of the tapestry for a long time.

Perhaps an early example can be found in The Trail of Tears, when President Jackson connived at the theft of Native American lands in the Southeast. Then there was Harry Truman. Aside from the Bomb (while peace talks were in progress), and the arbitrary ceding of half of Korea to the Soviets. he also gave us Executive Order 9835.

That edict resulted in to six million investigations of government employees. There were Star Chamber sessions; no actual witnesses, no real testimony, and above all, no attorneys for the defense. During the same period, the military (the AFOSI especially) followed suit. In addition to other acts, it added illegal searches, theft of private property and mail tampering. Then there were the background interviews, in which the "C" word was always placed front and center. In the Fifties, that was one step short of the firing squad.

When it was all over, there were no actual charges against anyone. The ruined reputations were irrelevant compared to the volumes of lists, especially at promotion time. And most important, the manipulators found that following the examples of HUAC and Joe McCarthy, they could get away with it. The Constitution was shredded. The UCMJ was turned into festive confetti. The victims were left to recover what was left of their lives. It was a first rate rehearsal for those who would give us the (soon to be toughened) Patriot Act.

The most distressing fact is that despite all the commentary, blogs and testimony, the current government just smiles and plows ahead with its multitude of true believers. Eventually, they will have a new armband: A black dollar sign, rampant, over a coiled bullwhip.

The knock on the door still vibrates
George B. Morgan

The Worst President, EVER?

May 19, 2005

For the record, I don’t like George Bush. And I don’t like most of the people who work for George Bush. So diehard Republicans can just brush aside my remarks as so much partisan blather.

But by now I suppose very few diehard Republicans ever read this blog. So do me a favor – email this to the diehards in your family and circle of friends. Ask them to tell me why I am wrong about this:

George Bush is the worst president of the United States of America, ever. Hands down.

And here are just a few reasons why I believe that statement is true.

America the Disgraced
President Bush’s actions and policies have destroyed America’s image as a nation that adheres to a set of core values, such as the rule of law, humane treatment of prisoners, presumed innocence, trial by jury and respect for international laws.

How do I know this? Because, the world is telling us so, whenever we care enough to ask.

“Positive views of the U.S. in Russia have risen 11 points in the past year. But U.S. favorability ratings in France and Germany are somewhat lower than last year and there has been a larger decline in Great Britain (58% now, 70% last year). Young people in Great Britain, France, and Germany have more negative views of America than do people in other age groups. An important factor in world opinion about America is the perception that the U.S. acts internationally without taking account of the interests of other nations. Large majorities in every nation surveyed believe that America pays little or no attention to their country's interests in making its foreign policy decisions. This opinion is most prevalent in France (84%), Turkey (79%) and Jordan (77%), but even in Great Britain 61% say the U.S. pays little or no attention to British interests.” (Full study)

Nice going George. Even Richard Nixon couldn’t tarnish America’s image that much.
George’s Vietnam

Bad Listerner
Then there’s the war that is largely responsible for that drop in our international image. President Bush really screwed this one up. First, everyone not drinking the Neocon Kool-Aid tried to warn George not to pull that trigger. Then Army Chief of Staff, General Shinseki, warned Bush that a war in Iraq would not be the “cake walk” his Neocon Rasputin, Paul Wolfowitz, promised. Instead, he warned, we would need a lot of troops in Iraq for long time. For that piece of advice he was first publicly embarrassed by his boss then shown the door.

“At a Pentagon news conference neither Mr. Rumsfeld nor Mr. Wolfowitz mentioned General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, by name. But both men were clearly irritated at the general's suggestion that a postwar Iraq might require many more forces than the 100,000 American troops and the tens of thousands of allied forces that are also expected to join a reconstruction effort. "The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark," Mr. Rumsfeld said. (Full Story)

That was 2003. Here’s a story from today’s paper.

“BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 19 - American military commanders in Baghdad and Washington gave a sobering new assessment on Wednesday of the war in Iraq….. In interviews and briefings this week, some of the generals pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major draw-down in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last "many years." (Full Story)

Gee. Who saw that coming?

So, thanks to George W. Bush and the handful of Neocon nuts you listen to. Now we are stuck in another Vietnam-type war thousands of miles from home. All the Vietnam trappings are here for anyone who cares to notice – indigenous insurgents, driven by a fanatical ideology, supported and supplied by “spoiler” nation-states with their own anti-US agendas, thousands of dead civilians, American soldiers dying by the gross week in and week out, with no end in sight.

Nice going George. Maybe because you skipped out on the Vietnam War you didn’t know this could happen. Or maybe you really are as dumb as common road gravel.

The Sovietization of America
One of the Republican party’s proudest boasts is that Ronald Reagan defeated the Soviet Evil Empire. The irony is they are now recreating pieces of that police state here at home now.

Hyperbole? You judge – while you still can.

“WASHINGTON, May 18 - The Bush administration and Senate Republican leaders are pushing a plan that would significantly expand the F.B.I.'s power to demand business records in terror investigations without obtaining approval from a judge, officials said on Wednesday. "This is a dramatic expansion of the federal government's power," said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington. "It's really a power grab by the administration for the F.B.I. to secretly demand medical records, tax records, gun purchase records and all sorts of other material if they deem it relevant to an intelligence investigation." (Full Story)

Now, the Patriot Act – you know, the law that among other things allows federal agents to demand your local library tell them what books you are reading – is about to be expanded.

Little by little this administration has chipped away at state powers by transferring them to Washington. And nowhere has this process been more pronounced than in the area of law enforcement and the courts. The FBI, which once had to defer to local and state law enforcers when on their turf, can now barge right in and take charge. All they have to do is an investigation a “national security” or “homeland security” matter.

Federal courts, which have acted as a brake on law enforcement abuses, are being systemically stacked with rightwing judges less likely to side with victims of overzealous cops or invasions of personal privacy.

That’s why this is going on right now:

“WASHINGTON, May 18 - The Senate plunged into an intense partisan struggle on Wednesday over the fate of stalled federal court nominees and the governance of the institution itself as the two parties locked in a debate over the right of the minority to prevent votes on a president's judicial candidates. "If Republicans roll back our rights in this chamber, there will be no check on their power," said Senator Reid. "The radical, right wing will be free to pursue any agenda they want. And not just on judges. Their power will be unchecked on Supreme Court nominees, the president's nominees in general and legislation like Social Security privatization." (Full Story)”

The Bushites are on a Neocon roll and the federal judiciary is their final obstacle. If they can stack the appellate courts and appoint two rightwing Supreme Court justices before the end of Bush’s final term, it will be “game over” for civil libertarians – and America as we knew her.

The Peasantization of Workers
Over the past five years we have seen the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of money. The already wealthy have become mind-numbingly rich under George Bush. Where did the money come from? It came right out of the pockets of working Americans and the poor.

I heard that groan from the right. Same old liberal, bleeding-heart bullshit, right?

So, you judge.

What the right has accomplished in just five years is the creation of a low-wage economy – a management wet dream – a country filled with high-skilled workers so desperate for jobs they will work for peanuts. Once powerful labor unions have been powerless to stop the flow of once high-paying blue and gray-collar jobs to cheap overseas venues. The jobs that replaced those lost to outsourcing pay an average of ten grand a year less. (As I said above, the money came straight out of workers pockets.)

Deflating Inflation
The administration likes to boast that it has kept inflation in check. Yes they have, at least somewhat. But the reasons inflation remains low are all bad reasons that will result in very bad news down the road.

First, consumers have less money to spend, as noted above. Since consumer spending power is a prime driver of price inflation, prices on many core consumer products have remained low. And many of those now low-price products keeping inflation low are no longer made here but in cheap-labor countries like China.

But inflation has many causes, not just consumer spending. Raw materials, shipping costs, currency fluctuations. And deep inside the bowels of the economic gut, rumbling can be heard.

“WASHINGTON -- Consumer prices jumped again last month, primarily reflecting sharp increases in food and energy costs, the government reported today. But prices for items other than food and energy were flat in April, while oil and gas prices have fallen since then, the Labor Department said, boosting hopes in financial markets that the recent inflation flare-up may be fading. Food prices climbed 0.7 percent last month, largely because of the rising costs of fruits and vegetables. But the so-called core-CPI, which excludes food and energy costs, was unchanged in April and is up 2.6 percent from April of last year.” (Full Story)

Inflation is not as benign as the government figures pretend. This is because of how they calculate inflation on individual items in the CPI and can fiddle with the facts. For example, if HP replaces a printer with a new model that might include a few modest enhancements over it’s predecessor which sold for $100, but prices the new model $125, government economists can claim the price really did not go up because the new model is better than the old model.

Trouble is you can’t buy the old model any longer, but never mind that. Even though you have to pay more for basically the same printer, the price did not go up -- because “they” say so.

How much of that is going on in calculating the CPI? Plenty. And if you shop you know it. They keep saying inflation is in check, but the checks I have to write for everything from my utilities to the food keep getting larger.

The point – figures don’t lie but liars can figure – and they are.

Keeping Up Keeping Up
If things are so bad, why hasn’t the economy slipped back into recession? Because it’s been running on credit. During Bush’s first term the economy perked up because Bush pumped $1.6 trillion in tax rebates into it. That was like giving a dying patient an injection of meth and then claiming he was cured because he was up and jerking around in bed.

Once consumers consumed their paltry tax rebates and the wealthy had deposited their hefty rebates into family trust accounts, the economy would have slowed again -- had it not been for low interest rates and easy credit. Consumers turned into home-equity vampires and credit card addicts in order to maintain the middleclass lifestyle their new low-paying jobs could no longer finance.
(See inset chart from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.)

And, the government as well went on a borrowing binge running up a national credit card debt of just over $7 trillion.

All that damage in just five years! It’s almost unimaginable, but true. And the negative long-term implications stagger those who understand that there really is no such thing as a free lunch, that deficits do matter, be they government deficits or consumer's.

Christian Jihadists
I will not belabor this point, except to say that, at the very time Bush berates religious fundamentalists aborad, he has breached the wall between religion and state here at home. He has jimmied open this Pandora's Box and there will be hell to pay for it eventually -- as there has been everywhere on earth where this was done.

All the above, and more, is why I contend that George W. Bush is the worst president EVER. Hands down, no one else even comes close.

Herbert Hoover may have trigger the Great Depression, but he didn’t invade another nation on false pretenses, or authorize torture of prisoners, or try to stack the courts. Franklin Roosevelt did try to stack the courts but Congress said “no” and he said “okay,” and went on the save the world from fascism and secure the lives of America's elderly by creating Social Security - which Bush now wants to subvert.

Johnson and Nixon did fight an illegal and immoral war but Johnson lifted millions out of poverty and got the Civil Rights Act passed, much to his own party’s determent. Nixon tried to subvert the Constitution but was caught and thrown out of office before he could succeed.

But I fear it’s too late to stop George W. Bush and his band of rightwing revolutionaries. We have let them get to far along now to stop them. We have let them neutralize too many constitutional checks and balances. And, once they deep-six the filibuster it truly will be game over.

Yes, the Democrats have begun to fight, but too little and now too late. The only recourse soon will be public demonstrations of the kind and size not seen here since the 1970s.

The only question is are there still enough of us out here who give damn.

By Stephen Pizzo
<>
Raconteur at Large
http://www.stephen.pizzo.com

1 comment:

Old Joe said...

G'day, here I am, an old (71) bloke from Australia who also is highly disturbed by what is happening in the US of A. Where did you find these maniacs bent on destroying all the good done by America over 200 years? Sadly we have apathy here too fuelled by our lickspittle prime minister who long ago disappeared up Dubya's ass propelled by his massive inferiority complex [just watch him beam when he is standing there with Geo. for a photo opportunity]. He has followed his Master in policies: Big tax cuts for the rich etc so that they are more concerned with continuing cheap gas for their SUV's to drive the kids one mile to school, than the values for which my country once was famous.
I feel it's gone too far now and change in America will require nation-wide violent demonstrations. I believe also that a trigger for these will come soon when the quagmire in Iraq will demand more US troops than are available voluntarily and Dubya and Co will attempt to reintroduce the draft. This will surely lead to some kind of 'final solution' and we can only hope that truth and sanity will prevail.

Old JOe