Posts Tagged ‘George W Bush’

Song for a Sunday

A warning – this one contains words of dirt and hate:

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The Friday Freebie

The Friday Freebie is where I share an online, open-access resource that I think readers might find interesting and useful. Each week, I will introduce a free resource that I think will be useful to teh angry Leftists – books, podcasts, web sites, etc. The aim is to compile a toolkit for understanding and advancing progressive ideals.

This week’s freebie rounds out our Bush Legacy Project (pending investigations and/or prosecutions). Author Ron Schalow contacted me this week to let me know that his book “Bullshit Artist: The 9/11 Leadership Myth” is now available for free online.

Schalow’s book is a biting  commentary on the actions of the Bush administration’s actions around the time of the 9/11 attacks. He charts the timeline of events on that day, as well as how the Bush administration worked in the days after the event to create a public perception of decisive leadership.

You can read Schalow’s book here – the for-sale version has the footnotes providing sources for all of Schalow’s information about the events. It’s a refreshing antidote to these types of claims – arguing that when the most obvious, serious opportunity for protecting the national security in the past eight years took place, the Bush administration struggled to get the job done, before and during that event.

Do you have a tip for future freebies? Contact me with any suggestions or requests.

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Bush Legacy Project

With just a few days remaining in George W Bush’s Presidency, we’re seeing plenty of retrospectives and evaluations. Half of them are being delivered by Bush himself; the other half are by members of the reality-based community.

To recognise this historic point in history and celebrate the departure of this administration, I thought we should collect some of the most insightful and/or entertaining evaluations of the Bush years.

I’ll start the ball rolling with two of the Washington Post’s columnists. First, Eugene Robinson (courtesy of Bron):

As his greatest achievement, Bush would cite the fact that there has been no terrorist attack on U.S. soil — I won’t use Bush’s unfortunate term, “the homeland,” which sounds vaguely Teutonic and evokes lederhosen — since the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda atrocities. Here, though, he relies entirely on short-term history. His argument, in effect, is that since we’ve made it through seven years and four months without an attack, his administration’s anti-terrorism methods must be both necessary and effective.

That must be a comforting thought for the president, but it’s unjustified. That there has been no new attack does not justify waterboarding, Guantanamo, secret CIA prisons or warrantless domestic surveillance. Bush believes these departures from American values and traditions were necessary, but from what we know so far, they look more like overkill — an excess of cruelty and a disdain for the rule of law that have seriously damaged this nation’s sense of itself.

And next, Dan Froomkin:

He took the nation to a war of choice under false pretenses — and left troops in harm’s way on two fields of battle. He embraced torture as an interrogation tactic and turned the world’s champion of human dignity into an outlaw nation and international pariah. He watched with detachment as a major American city went under water. He was ostensibly at the helm as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression took hold. He went from being the most popular to the most disappointing president, having squandered a unique opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after Sept. 11. He set a new precedent for avoiding the general public in favor of screened audiences and seemed to occupy an alternate reality. He took his own political party from seeming permanent majority status to where it is today. And he deliberately politicized the federal government, circumvented the traditional policymaking process, ignored expert advice and suppressed dissent, leaving behind a broken government.

What is your favourite summation of George Walker Bush’s time in office?

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No links; no pictures; just a few quick comments:

  • John Winston Howard – I’m glad you enjoyed the ceremony and the kind words your mate had for you. But when an unpopular lame duck gives a medal to a leader who lost his own seat, don’t be so foolish as to think it reflects the views of either the giver or receiver’s country;
  • Barnaby Joyce – Your mavericky high jinks can be good for a chuckle. But seriously, arguing against the weight of scientific evidence and economic modelling? and splitting with your coalition partner? while invoking Godwin’s Law? What the fuck, man?
  • George Walker Bush – If you are content to let history judge your actions in the decades to come, why are you taking literally every single opportunity you can to tell us what we should think of you?

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Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power by Fred Kaplan (Wiley, 2008).

I just finished reading this book last night and posted a review to my weRead app on Facebook; here’s a copy of what I had to say:

(4.5 out of 5)

An excellent examination of the foreign policy ideas that drove the Bush administration into the Iraq quagmire.

What I found most valuable in this book is that Kaplan distinguishes the different viewpoints that existed – pre-9/11 vs post-9/11 Bush; Rumsfeld and Cheney’s belief that displays of America’s military might would prompt a wave of democratic reform; the more “pure” neoconservatism of Wolfowitz and co.; Powell’s multilateralism and Rice’s evolving philosophy.

Yet at the same time, Kaplan argues – convincingly – that a flawed notion unified and motivated this group of people to move largely in the same direction. That notion was that in the post Cold War world, the United States had the capacity to use its power to impose change for the better; that they could do so anywhere and everywhere, and that the more they did so, the easier the task would become.

Kaplan concludes by evaluating the implications of this failed approach for the prospect of future interventions that could achieve genuine humanitarian good. In the context of the current crises in Gaza, Congo, etc. (not to mention Afghanistan and Iraq), and with the Obama administration about to take the reins, the issues he raises are of vital importance.

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An expert panel made up of George Walker Bush has decided that John Winston Howard should be recognised for his “efforts to promote democracy, human rights and peace abroad.” Apparently, engaging in a military invasion counts as promoting peace abroad, and supporting another country’s use of torture enhanced interrogation techniques and long-term detention without charge, trial or right of habeas corpus is promoting human rights.

His prize is the Medal of Freedom – the same honour that was bestowed in recent years on departing Bush lackeys who had managed to screw up, such as George Tenet (CIA director through 9/11 and the Iraq WMD debacle) and Paul Bremer (post-invasion Iraq governor). Losing really does have its privileges.

In that same spirit, let’s make sure that Tim Blair and Jennifer Marohasy get the honours they so richly fail to deserve – I am throwing my full support behind these two ignoble hacks in the 2008 Weblog Awards, because if Howard deserves a pat on the head, then so must they.

ELSEWHERE: Over at GrodsCorp, Scott has started compiling a list of the achievements for which JWH has earned the medal.

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More W-R-O-N-G-!

So, this is becoming a pattern:

  • The Australian reports something about Government communications based on anonymous sources.
  • The Opposition insists that the matter be investigated and explained.
  • The Government and corroborating sources (e.g., the Treasury Secretary, the White House, etc.) refute the original report.
  • The Opposition continues to insist that the matter be investigated and explained.
  • The Opposition looks foolish.

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Andrew Bolt is gunning for Krudd (if I may use the vernacular). He has been running a series of blog posts calling on the media to investigate “Rudd’s betrayal of Bush“. I have had several thoughts in reaction to this:

  • What a shame that Bolt apparently doesn’t have the skill or motivation to perform his own investigative work and has to rely on getting real journalists to take his ideas seriously.
  • Bolt flatly asserts that Rudd leaked the information. Isn’t this a terribly flawed assumption? The Bush administration has denied that Bush said what the Australian alleged. Rudd has denied that Bush said it and rubbished the notion that Bush isn’t well aware of the G20. What’s more, when asked whether the “leak” came from his office, has given an answer that approximates, “buggered if I know.” Yet Bolt still seems to be acting as though the “leak” gave information that would only be known to someone involved in, present during, or who had accurate information about, the Bush-Rudd conversation. If the information was false, then anyone could have made it up, so long as they knew the conversation took place and the general topic.
  • The phone conversation happened while there was a dinner party going on at Kirribilli house. Present at that party was one Chris Mitchell, editor of the newspaper formerly known as the Government Gazzette, currently known as the Opposition Organ, which has been using its editorial content to attack the Rudd Government’s policies and conduct. Now, this paper has published the “leaked” information. If the fact that it made Rudd look like a bigshot is enough reason for Bolt to conclude that Rudd himself was the “leak”, isn’t the fact that this made Rudd look like a blabbermouth enough of a reason to suspect Chris Mitchell?
  • If we take the idea of investigation seriously then, based on the information we currently have, someone fed the Australian false information about the Bush-Rudd conversation. Does the journalistic obligation to preserve confidential sources apply to a source who tells lies? Shouldn’t the investigation begin with the Australian revealing who gave them dud information?

Malcolm has been getting in on the act as well, and making some of the same errors of reasoning as Bolt. He says that the leaking of the conversation is embarrassing and a national security risk – which it might be, if the leak was accurate. Otherwise, it’s just bullshit spread by someone and believed by a newspaper who didn’t check the credibility of their sources well enough. But Malcolm adds in a call for the Australian Federal Police to head an investigation. Now I’ve never been shy about discussing the limitations of the AFP, but I would still contend that they are, in fact, a law enforcement body. So if Malcolm wants them to investigate something, should it perhaps be an allegation of some illegal activity? Just saying.

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Heckuva job

Boss Man’s all over this one. He’s on the phone, holding the red “Classified” folder, not shooting finger-pistols at the photographer. Awesome Presidenting.

You can’t say he doesn’t learn from his mistakes. Destroy one of my cities with a hurricane while I throw a party for John McCain once, shame on you. Destroy one of my cities with a hurricane while I throw a party for John McCain twice – uh, … – you won’t get those photographs again.

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A couple of interesting perspectives on the position the Bush administration has created and how it affects their response to the war in Georgia:

  • Brandon Friedman notes that America’s military entanglements, particularly in Iraq, weaken both its moral authority and its military capacity to deter Russia.
  • Fred Kaplan looks at how the Bush administration led (and continues to lead) Georgia into thinking that the US will act to support them, and he examines the choices and lessons from this point forward.
  • UPDATE: I almost added (“reminiscent of the elder Bush’s handling of the Kurds”) to the last point, and now I wish I had – Marty Kaplan expands on the analogy.

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