Monday, January 05, 2009

The Bush Bottom Ten

People today don't have much patience for long explanations of things. They like answers that are quick, easy to remember and can be recalled when it's time for the test, if there is one. This is even more true for younger people who, after all, can look up everything on Wikipedia and get some idea of what they need without actually asking anyone. I used to hear the phrase "Just the short answer, Dad!" pretty often. With that in mind, here are the ten worst things done by the Bush administration, all over now except for the final batch of pardons to the truly undeserving. They appear in ascending order.
10. The new deficit king. Republicans once had a reputation for being tight with public funds, but not this group. After inheriting a surplus from the Clinton administration, the Bush folks actually spent like there was no tomorrow even if you leave out the wars they started. Total national debt went from around $6 trillion to almost double that during the eight years. No one seems to care much unless you look deeper, which we can't from lack of space.
9. The sound of "poof" when financial assets become worthless. This sound was heard with increasing frequency when it became apparent that the strategy of deregulation hyped in the 80's and 90's didn't work any better in the new century.
8. The misuse of religious faith and people who have it as a major part of their lives. Score one for the cynics as programs set up to aid the spreading of the Word turned out to be just another way to equate "believers" with "voters".
7. The Katrina failure. TV networks somehow reached the disaster scene ahead of federal relief. When the feds did come, they had weapons drawn and bayonets fixed. Our private army (Blackwater mercenaries) took weapons from the survivors. The once largely Democratic city is now a much smaller one, with former residents scattered mostly in southern (GOP leaning) states.
6. Science itself is endangered by politicization as government-funded research goes looking for specific outcomes that support GOP-authored policy already in place. A surgeon general resigns after failing to keep research out of the political realm.
5. The Department of Justice becomes an advocate for the Bush administration. Phony claims of "voter fraud" are used to cover up the far more serious crime of election fraud from within government. Individual citizens are forced to take on both big business AND government allied as never before. The Office of Legal Counsel delivers up one opinion after another that seem to ratify the neocon "unitary executive" model of American government which supports a president with almost unlimited powers.
4. The administration decides unilaterally to bypass the FISA Act warrant-granting court in favor of blanket surveilence of electronic communications in an attempt to track down alledged terrorists. Since the operation is also secret, the government says, in effect, "Trust me. I'm doing this for your own good."
3. Bush uses "executive signing statements" which state the president's personal willingness (or lack of it) to enforce portions of laws already signed. His use of this particular ploy is far more than by all previous U. S. presidents combined.
2. The so-called, undeclared and open-ended "War on Terror" brings on a whole series of abuses which do great harm to American standing in the world. These include the imprisonment of terror suspects without charges, the reuse of torture techniques which brought the death penalty to Japanese military who had performed them on American soldiers in WW II, and the sending of prisoners to other countries with little or no scruples about torture called "extraordinary rendition".
1. After a lengthy period of "selling" the American public on the need to attack Iraq, a country which had never attacked the U.S., the administration lied us into a war with little upside, expensive and dangerous to those fighting in it, for the main purpose of bumping the president's popularity so high that all his domestic proposals would sail through a Republican-led Congress. It may go down as one of the most foolish military ventures by a great power EVER.
That concludes the list, though other failings of this administration are not hard to find. In fairness, some good things were adopted or proposed but did not pass through Congress. Still, this cascade of error and hubris leaves Bush's popularity at around 25%. If I were to add one more disaster to the list it would be the shrinking of the Republican Party from the dominant political entity in the country to a southern-based organization excluded from entire regions and left without leadership unless you count a Senator in his 70's from Arizona and a publicity-grabbing woman governor from Alaska who has shown herself unprepared for anything higher. The Party's strength now is found in people with less education.


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