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Posts Tagged ‘Bush’

I never supported the Iraq war. I believe the entire affair was no more than a vendetta instigated by George Bush against Saddam  Hussein. Perhaps it was due to Saddam’s failed assassination attempt against George Bush Senior. Who knows? It certainly wasn’t about weapons of mass destruction. Nor was it about the “War on Terror”. Whatever the reason that Bush/Cheney had for it, they waged a war that caused the loss of many American soldier’s lives. Similarly, the war in Afghanistan is also questionable. After all, nearly all of the Al Qaeda terrorists who commandeered the aircraft on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia. One might think it would have made more sense to retaliate against Saudi Arabia – Osama bin Laden’s homeland. However, in the odd workings of the Bush/Cheney mind – the mind that condoned torture of prisoners, illegal wiretaps on American citizens, and the use of trials by military tribunals for people suspected of supporting terrorists, instead of using the U.S. justice system – America freely attacked two countries without cause. (It doesn’t make sense to say that America attacked Afghanistan because they had trained Osama bin Laden because it was America that had taught the Afghans these same tactics. In essence it was almost as if America had trained Osama bin Laden.

Once the wars began, George Bush/Cheney was anxious to hide the cost of war – American war dead from the American people. Thus the war dead were brought to Dover Air Force base in secret with no news coverage. The American people were not to know the human cost of the war – George Bush had learned that lesson from the Vietnam war. He knew that by managing the news the American people could be kept under control. He didn’t need any demonstrations in the streets.

There was, however, another problem for George Bush/Cheney.  What should be done with unidentified body parts of dead soldiers? For example, suppose a young Army volunteer soldier steps on a land mine and get blown into dozens of pieces? Or what about the soldiers who are flying to a battle and their helicopter crashes and they are burned beyond recognition? Or what should Bush/Cheney do about the soldier who takes a direct hit from a mortar shell and is split into three or four pieces? Should the military hold funerals for these people? It seems that Bush/Cheney decided that wasn’t necessary because by virtue of being dismembered these young men were no longer people – they were “medical waste”. Bush/Cheney apparently decided that the best thing to do with the remaining pieces of the young volunteer soldiers was to just throw them into the dump in Virginia.

So they did. The remains – i.e. arms, legs, fingers – whatever – were simply incinerated and literally dumped into a landfill, along with the garbage. That, apparently, is what hospitals do with “medical waste”, and it seems that is what America’s volunteer soldiers had become – medical waste. A sort of road kill – that’s all. And the government didn’t bother to tell the families of the soldiers what they had done. The complete lack of honor accorded to these soldiers by the U.S. government is horrific. The treating of war dead as garbage is reminiscent of the utter lack of humanity in the Nazi concentration camps. It smacks of the depravity of Pol Pot in Cambodia. It sends a clear message of a government that has lost its soul and humanity – it has simply become a heartless killing machine caring nothing for those on whom it drops its bombs and caring just as little for American soldiers who get shredded into pieces while fighting for…for…I wonder – just what are they fighting for?

So where is the outrage from President Obama? Where are the voices of Congress? Where is the American Legion? It was a news story for a day. OK, everyone. Let’s move on to the next thing. And so it goes in today’s America. No one is accountable. The desecration of the war dead is of little to no interest to the public. Life goes on. I wonder what’s at the movies this weekend…

Bring on the bread and circuses! Ave imperator! Moritori te salutant!

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Here’s what I’m wondering: When CIA Director Leon Panetta told Congress last month that he and the CIA had lied to Congress in the past, was he lying or telling the truth?  When an agency that is charged with providing information also gets into the disinformation business, how do you know which product is being provided to you, since they are expert at both? And if you know they have lied to you, how do you know you can trust them ever again?

The question to be asked is this: has the CIA, as a result of its complete loyalty to the regal Bush administration and thereby its participation in the cover-up of torture, as well as the providing of completely false information that was used to justify the Iraq War, become “beyond salvage”? Or can the CIA be fixed, and if so how do we fix it and even more, how do we confirm that it is fixed?

Things shouldn’t be like this.  The Central Intelligence Agency was created for a definite mission that is necessary for the defense of America.  For more than half a century the CIA has provided invaluable service to many Presidents and to the country.  It’s stated mission and goals are lofty and admirable. So what went wrong? How can it be that one of our most dedicated, pro-American, self-sacrificing organizations finds itself cross-threaded with the United States House of Representatives and maybe the Senate too?

The fundamental problem lies not with the CIA.  The CIA has tried to follow what it has been told is the chain of command, and it has done so to a fault.  They just followed orders, like good clandestine soldiers.  However, in this case, there was no other possible outcome because there is a fundamental flaw in the way our government is structured.  The CIA serves the President of the United States. They take orders from the President – not the House of Representatives and not the Senate.  However, the Congress does have oversight responsibility of the CIA, i.e, they have the authority to know what is going on in case some laws are being broken and so forth. But what happens if the President tells the CIA not to tell Congress what is going on? What if the President tells the CIA to lie to Congress?  Then whose orders do they follow, the President’s or those of Congress?  I believe we have excellent illustration here of the truth of the saying, “No man can serve two masters.”

It appears that the CIA Director Leon Panetta chose to follow the orders of the President.  Oh, wait.  Are you thinking that maybe George or Dick wasn’t involved? Could it be that good clandestine soldier Leon was just deceiving Congress for the Hell of it????  Was he just going rogue????  Right.

A Congressional investigation is almost sure to happen now.  Isn’t it? I mean how could Congress not try to find out exactly what went wrong? Surely they want to know.  Don’t they? They’re not afraid of what they’ll find are they?

The problem with the CIA trying to satisfy two masters is not unusual.  The same is true for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.  They all have a Commander in Chief, i.e. the President, and they all serve him too. This also includes all the civil servants who make up a good part of our government work force. In fact, not too many people report to Congress, do they? Which is probably why there is so much unhappiness among civil servants when a Congressman or Senator writes language in a Bill instructing money to be spent on some project that wasn’t in the “President’s budget”. It’s like the Civil Servants believe that the Congress has no right to participate in these decisions.  Except that it does. It’s in the Constitution.  It’s the way our government is structured. Checks and balances and so forth so we won’t have any more tyrants like King George.

Yes, although it makes a lot of government employees very unhappy, Congress does have a say.  It does have authority. Our President is not a monarch – something George Bush and Dick Cheney never quite realized.  It seems that these two characters happily manipulated the system, taking advantage of the delicate relationship between the powers of the Executive and the Congress…..  Actually, they just steamrolled Congress, let’s face it.  They got away with everything they wanted and they had people, like CIA Director Panetta, do the dirty work for them.  Like lying to Congress, I’m guessing. I know – it’s a wild and crazy guess.

Now, I suppose Panetta will pay the price for his loyalty to King George Bush.  On the other hand, if he didn’t lie to Congress, he probably would have lost his job a long time ago. (If my tenuous hypothesis is right, of course) Basically Leon was in a lose – lose situation from the beginning, he just didn’t know it.  He thought he was doing his job, being loyal to the King… uh..President.  The real problem was that the President and Vice President didn’t seem to be too loyal to the people or the Constitution, and so we were all in a lose – lose situation. And now, like Leon, we have to pay the price too.

But what about my original question? Can we trust the CIA? Yes, of course we can – just as much as we trust our President, no more and no less.

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The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp stands as a monument to the hypocrisy of the George Bush/Dick Cheney administration. So-called “captured enemy combatants” have been secretly transported to Guantanamo from various locations around the world, while the Bush administration denied that these people were entitled to any rights under the Geneva conventions, which governs the treatment of prisoners of war.  Only the convoluted minds of Bush, Cheney, and their gang could say with a straight face that people who were captured during the “War on Terror” are not prisoners of war.  It is the twisted minds of this gang of “patriots” who chose to deny these prisoners the basic human rights that the U.S. has sworn to uphold under the Geneva accords.  It is these people who even sanctioned the use of torture on these prisoners in order to try to gain information.  Far from being inspired by Thomas Jefferson, this President and Vice-President more legitimately owe their vision of the appropriate treatment of war prisoners to Edgar Allen Poe’s story, The Pit and the Pendulum.

Now, President Obama seems to be wrestling with George Bush’s dilemma: should we close Guantanamo and bring the prisoners to the U.S. for trial? For Bush the answer was a firm “NO”. This is because he felt that if the prisoners were brought to U.S. soil then they would be entitled to the rights of a U.S. citizen – like the right to a fair trial.  A fair trial? Yes, something that George Bush was determined that they would not have.  Wait a minute.  Just wait a minute. A fair trial is not some sort of lofty “Americans only” right. It is a human right – it is a right that every person on earth has.  It is one of those self-evident rights that everyone is born with –  it is one of those rights that Jefferson spoke so eloquently about.  The Bush/Cheney denial of a fair trial to these prisoners was not a denial of American rights; it is a denial of human rights.

None of us should be afraid of giving any captive a fair trial.  Why should we be afraid?  They are either guilty or they are not. We either have evidence of their guilt or we don’t.  And if we don’t have any evidence of their guilt then why in the world are we holding them captive?  Keeping people prisoner when you have no valid reason to believe they are guilty of a crime is lunacy – which probably begins to explain why Bush/Cheney locked these people up and threw away the key.  Oh, I know the story about classified information – you know, the evidence that condemns these people is so secret we can’t tell anyone about it.  I don’t believe it.  There are plenty of people – thousands, I’m sure – who have all sorts of security clearances who could be on a jury for these cases.  That argument doesn’t make any sense – it’s just Bush/Cheney lunacy again.

So what can Obama do? First, get these people out of Cuba and bring them to the U.S. for trial.  Now, a lot of people say they are afraid of having these “terrorists” in their local prison, and I suppose they might have a point.  Just in case these people are as dangerous as Bush/Cheney have claimed, they need to be locked up in an ultra-secure facility that is in nobody’s backyard.  What could be better than Alcatraz?  I know it is no longer an active prison – but it could be reactivated for this particular task.  There is no record of anyone ever successfully escaping from Alcatraz. So, the first step is to do a quick rehab of a section of Alcatraz, in order to make it habitable again. With enough priority, I expect this could be done in six months.  The work could be even be paid for with the economic stimulus package.  Think how many construction jobs it would create!

Then the trials would begin in the Federal courts.  Let the government make its case against each prisoner and let the courts decide innocence or guilt.  Those who are convicted of serious acts of terrorism could be sent right back to Alcatraz for a life sentence.  Those who are found “not guilty” would be returned immediately to those countries of which they are citizens.  It seems pretty straightforward to me.  People are either guilty or they are not.  This Bush/Cheney imprisonment-and-torture-forever-on-suspicion-of-guilt is as unAmerican a process as anything ever dreamt up by the leaders of the Spanish Inquisition.  It is more than unAmerican, it is a disgrace to humanity, and it is a blot on each of us until we bring it to an end.

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Bush, Cheney, Paulson, Rumsfeld, and now Madoff…the list could go on and on.  For far too many years Americans and the world have sat back and watched as these men and others have proved, time and again, that they lack a moral compass.  Most recently it was announced that Bernard Madoff bilked investors out of billions of dollars. Some wealthy investors have been virtually wiped out.  Who cares? Life goes on.  The best the Wall Street Journal has to offer is the advice that we must be careful with whom we invest our money.  How about some regulation and real oversight of the Wall Street crooks? Wouldn’t that be a good thing too?

Recently, Dick Cheney admitted that he approved the use of torture on people who were suspected of being enemy agents. The specific form of torture being discussed was waterboarding, a technique used during the Roman Catholic Church’s Spanish Inquisition.  Despite the fact that torture is against the laws of the United States and the world in general, Cheney is able to sit comfortably, unconcerned about being arrested and thrown into jail, and say that he was for it and that he helped in getting the “process cleared”. And yet, look at us.  We have become so accustomed to this sort of lack of integrity that we all just sit back and just turn the channel to see what else is on TV.

When the Iraq War was initiated, our Secretary of Defense was Donald Rumsfeld. Unhappy with General Shinseki, truthfully telling Congress that Rumsfled’s war plans were inadequate and non-sensical, he publicly scorned Shinseki saying that he was “far off the mark”. Rumsfled’s Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz said that Shinseki was “wildly off the mark”. Now, both Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz have been shown to “wildly off the mark” – after too many thousands of Americans and Iraqi civilians died in an entirely unjustified war against Iraq – a war advocated by Wolfowitz long before 9/11.  So where is the outrage of the American people? Why aren’t we marching in the streets in protest? Is it because there is something better on TV?

Today it was reported that President Bush is considering an “orderly” bankruptcy for the U.S. auto industry as part of a rescue package.  Some rescue.  It’s like going to a hospital for a heart transplant and later being told, while you are on life support, they have replaced your heart with a donor liver – it’s the best they could do.   I wonder if Goldman Sachs would have been interested in an orderly bankruptcy as part of their “rescue”?  How about Morgan Stanley? How about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?  I guess that if you are in the money business you get special treatment in this country.  If you are in the manufacturing business – well, you just don’t get it, do you? You see, we’re outsourcing all that kind of work – part of the global economy, you see.  We’re not really interested in having a strong manufacturing industry in the U.S. when we can get the poor people of other countries to make things cheaper over there in their poor countries. Then we just import the stuff, add on a nice profit margin, and run a sale – buy now and pay later. That’s the Bush business model: no rules finance, usurious interest rates, and let the rest of the world go through the labor of actually making stuff for us to buy cheap, while the country’s millionaires and billionaires make even more billions from the interest on our credit card purchases – interest that we’ll be paying for the rest of our lives, if all goes according to plan.

Recently, an Iraqi man was arrested for throwing his shoes at President Bush.  The news of this incident has made headlines around the world. President Bush has laughed it off as if it were a sort of carnival game he and the man were playing – like Whack a Mole or something.  Now the man who threw the shoes at Bush has become a hero to Arabs around the world who are unhappy with the war in Iraq.  However, it is my guess that while these Arabs might clearly associate the shoe throwing incident with a rejection of Bush and his war, there are many millions of other people worldwide who are quietly smiling at this act of rebellion and rejection because it symbolizes something more.  It also symbolizes a repudiation of Bush and his cronies, a repudiation of a disastrous war and a disastrous economic policy, a repudiation of a lawless presidency that endorses torture and the systematic dismantling of our Constitutional rights, a repudiation of a President who failed to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”, a repudiation of a President who even failed to save the drowning citizens of New Orleans.  His list of failures goes on and on.  The lack of integrity of this president, the most unpopular in the history of the United States, and his cronies, appears to have no limit.  The only plausible reason for not impeaching the man is that it would have left us with Cheney for President.

So America,  don’t ask for whom that Iraqi man threw those shoes, they were thrown for you.

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Does America have a destiny? A lot of people think so; it’s part of our culture, part of our heritage.  It’s also the misguided rationale for an extraordinary amount of cruelty, theft, murder, and neglect that has taken place, by the leaders of this land since the Puritans formed the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629.  When John Winthrop gave his famous City Upon a Hill speech to the arriving Puritans (followers of the misguided proponent of “predestination”, John Calvin) he exhorted them to obey all the commandments  so “that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it”.  The only problem was that this land they came to possess was already taken – it belonged to the Native Americans who greeted the arriving Puritans and helped them survive their first winter.

The Puritans believed that they were following God’s will when they came to America, and it was in the name of God that the elimination of those troublesome original owners of America began. By the early 1800’s their idea of Destiny was almost universally accepted by American leaders and it was used to justify the theft of much of the land from its owners. The idea was even given a name, it was Manifest Destiny: God’s will made clearly known to all.  President Andrew Jackson was an ardent subscriber to this theology/philosophy of American Destiny, and it was this “knowledge” that empowered him to take the final step in the theft of America: the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This piece of legislation gave the U.S. government the authority to remove Native Americans from their land and resettle them west of the Mississippi River. By 1837 about 25,000,000 additional acres of land, formerly occupied by Native Americans, had become available for white settlement and the introduction of slaves.

It seems that Andrew Jackson was well pleased with himself and never doubted for a minute that he might have done the wrong thing. Does this mindset remind you of a much more recent President?  Does any recent President come to mind who seems to believe that he is carrying out some Divine Destiny? Does any President come to mind who seems to have no conscience, who can watch citizens of our own country drown and do nothing, who can launch a “Shock and Awe” blitzkrieg against Iraq without a valid cause? What about a President who can order American soldiers into battle and then, when they return wounded and broken, allow them to be poorly treated or even ignored by a failed VA medical system? Do we have a President who truly believes that nothing is his fault because everything is the will of God?

From the Puritans to George Bush there is one thing, one concept, one mistaken belief that has informed too many of our leaders and has been the cause of centuries of injustice: the belief that they and this country have a God-given Destiny and they know what it is.  It is this belief that they are doing the will of God that allows them to sleep at night, knowing that in doing the will of God they could not possibly be sinning.  The idea that one can know one’s destiny is all a grand delusion.  This concept of individual and national predestination was clearly enunciated by the teachings of John Calvin in the 1500s – although there is no doubt that some form of such beliefs were held by various leaders for millennia before.  It has been America’s grand delusion, but the time has come for Americans to recognize it for what it is: the contamination of the noble American ideals of liberty, equality, and justice by errant, self-serving, religious beliefs.  It is because of religious errors like this that our Constitution demands that we separate Church and State.  The brave rebels who brought forth this country out of English domination and tyranny knew one truth very well:

Our forefathers may have been able to build a “city upon a hill”; but that does not mean that our elected leaders are  “the light of the world”.

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There are some financial experts who say that we are standing on the brink of a precipice.  Nouriel Roubini, a New York University Economics professor, who predicted the current economic meltdown, says that “things are going to be awful for everyday people” in 2009. There are several other experts who agree with him.  Mr. Roubini attributes the economic disaster to the bursting of a credit bubble – not a housing bubble. I would add that the continuation of the disaster is due to the abject failure of the Bush government to take effective action to prevent or mitigate the collapse of our, and the world’s, economy.  The question we should ask is why? Why hasn’t the Bush government taken decisive action? One might say that perhaps George Bush is an indecisive man, but if we reflect only for a moment on his actions in Iraq we will quickly see that he can be very decisive.  So why hasn’t there been any decisive action taken to prevent the collapse of our economy? Why is it that the only action taken by the Bush administration was to protect the investment banks?

Remember when Barack Obama and John McCain were campaigning against each other and John McCain stated that raising the tax rate to what it was under President Clinton for people who make more that $250,000 was class warfare? Today there is anger in Congress that the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds are not being used to combat the rising tide of mortgage foreclosures. Fed Chairman Bernanke predicts that 2.25 million homes will be foreclosed upon this year and the U.S. government is doing nothing to prevent it, even though the TARP was supposed to be used to alleviate the problem. My question is this: When a government that is run by the wealthy elite of America stands by and does nothing, refuses to help even when money has been made available to help the middle class and the poor, isn’t that class warfare?

It seems clearer than ever that our country is divided into two groups: the wealthy elite (the Elect?) who favor Hoover/Bush economics and the great mass of ordinary people who favor Roosevelt/Obama economics.  The question is this: who will prevail? It seems that Mr. Roubini and many others believe the Hoover/Bush group will prevail because otherwise they would be more optimistic about the economy for the next several years.  They might be right. Even as I write, legislation to provide a relatively puny bailout for the auto industry has been stalled by the House Republicans, the representatives of the wealthy elite, who are instead calling for the auto industry to file for bankruptcy. The fact that millions of ordinary Americans will promptly lose their jobs is apparently of no concern to them.

Here’s a question: is this just a difference of opinion on economic theory or is it something else? Could it be that it is really a difference of opinion about the purpose of government? Clearly this government acted urgently to save the wealthy elite owners of the banks, yet they drag their feet when it comes to saving the ordinary man.  Does anyone else see the long shadow of John Calvin standing over our Congress? Save the wealthy Elect, but when it comes to Katrina or Detroit, Asians caught in a tsunami or an earthquake, or Africans dying of starvation – well, just let them die. After all, if God has already decided who shall be saved and who shall be damned why should these wealthy Senators and Congressmen feel guilty? It’s not their fault is it?  The members of our Republican Theocracy has already saved themselves and their fortunes, and now they are about to strike against the poor once again.

My questions for the Republican Party is this: remember when that most famous Republican of all, Abraham Lincoln, said that America was a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”? So what was that all about? Was he some kind of pinko socialist or communist or what?  What sort of mental gymnastics do you do to somehow claim that you are the party of Lincoln when you are, in fact, the party of the wealthy elite (Elect) and you stand against everything Lincoln stood for?  It is obvious that if he were alive today Abraham Lincoln would be a Democrat. Today’s Republican Party is nothing more than the failed party of Herbert Hoover and George Bush.

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In 1791 the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution was written.  It states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion…”.  Thomas Jefferson later wrote that this amendment creates a “wall of separation” between church and state.  The founders of this country were well aware of the centuries of warfare in Europe that had resulted when church authorities meddled in the affairs of state or viceversa. The rebellious colonists of America were mostly emigrants from England where a former King, Henry VIII, had , in 1534, named himself as the head of the Church of England so that he would no longer have to deal with any interference from the Pope.

Separation of church and state is an anomaly in world history.  Caesar Augustus, besides being the emperor of Rome, also had the title of “Son of God”.  He was not the only Roman emperor to have this title.  Hundreds of years after the reign of Augustus, the Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the imperial religion of the Roman Empire and the rules of the Church became the law of the Empire. Theocracy has been the normal mode of the world’s governments from before ancient Judea to today’s Iran.  It isn’t difficult to understand why the world’s governments have always had such a close association between the state and religion. Both entities exert considerable power over the people and the union of these two creates a much more powerful entity that makes it easier for tyrants to create burdensome laws and regulations.  It also enables them to literally get away with murder.

For over two hundred years our nation was careful to attend to the letter and the spirit of the First Amendment; however, in recent times – particularly in the Bush administration, an attempt has been made to bring government and religion, particularly a certain type of “Christianity”, closer.  Beginning with an alliance with “evangelical Christians” during the campaigns and continuing with “faith-based” charities, the strict line between Church and State that Jefferson and his fellow revolutionaries envisioned has become blurred.  Our President has famously claimed that he could look into the eyes of Russia’s Putin and see his soul. Shortly after 9/11 he declared that the different countries of the world were “with us or against us”.  This President, a product of Anglican and Methodist teachings (which are derived from the Anglican Church), has chosen to let his religious beliefs temper his judgments. One can only wonder if it was his belief in Calvinist predestination that allowed him to sit back and watch while the people of New Orleans drowned.  One can only wonder what it was that allowed him to initially offer virtually no assistance after the South Asia tsunami struck Indonesia and Thailand.  One can only wonder why he did virtually nothing to help the people of Pakistan after their great earthquake.  One can only wonder how he can sit in his Oval Office and watch as the people of Darfur starve.

How does one justify doing nothing to help his fellow man?  How does a President of the United States quickly decide to give hundreds of billions of dollars to a few elite bankers (the Elect?) but is averse to helping the millions of people who depend upon the automobile industry?  Why is it that this man is so quick to help the wealthy class but so cold-hearted when the poor are suffering?  Could the answer be anything but his own personal philosophy? Could it be anything other than a grievous religious error that teaches that people are saved or damned from the moment they are born?

It is virtually impossible to separate a man’s religious beliefs from his philosophy of life, and it would be wise for voters in the future to question candidates closely to learn what is in their heart. Would they be a good and just ruler or would they be cold and distant, smug in the belief that they are saved no matter what?  As important as it is to choose a leader wisely, it is equally important that the people of America vigilantly guard their precious rights that are stated in the Constitution.  The strict separation of church and state is one of these. It is our right, but this and all of our rights can only be preserved by constant vigilance.  Over the past several years we have let our guard down and the nation has paid a terrible price.  Yet, this is not the result of a President’s stupidity, it is the result of his philosophy.  This Imperial Bush Presidency is the direct result of his arrogant, mistaken, ill-informed, and very non-Christian outlook on the world.  Now, as we suffer through the last days of the most unpopular, uncaring,  and theocratic President in the history of our nation, let us all make one resolution.

May America never make such a mistake again.

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