The Blameless Mr. Bush

If you can follow the logic, the Republicans have occupied the White House for very roughly two-thirds of the last 40 years, yet the Democrats are to blame for the crisis the county — and the world it resides in — is experiencing.

I can’t follow the logic. It’s a little like blaming the hapless ACORN for the mortgage bust…oh, wait, the Republicans already did that. Never mind. The Catholic Church, which has been playing the role of an ultra-conservative poltergeist in U.S. social policy while hiding behind its tax exemption, has withdrawn its million-dollar support of ACORN — not because of the mortgage thingie (which never had anything to do with ACORN to begin with), but for that silly episode of Mickey Mouse registering to vote a few thousand times. At this point, I almost feel sorry for ACORN. For me, that’s saying a lot. Imagine being stuck between the Republicans and the Catholic Church. Talk about a rock and a hard place…

Anyway, speaking of rocks, the latest Republican brainstorm is that George Bush had nothing to do with anything. Bill Clinton did it. Never mind that Clinton has been out of office for 8 years; George is a nice man who has merely been extremely unlucky to follow the evil Clinton into office and have to deal with all the hell that allegedly broke loose as a result of an 8 year Clinton administration.

With the exception of the “unlucky” part, (which is recent), in the early days of the Bush administration, right up through September 11, 2001, we heard this “Clinton’s fault” stuff a lot. It didn’t make sense to me even back then. Yes, Clinton was in office 8 years, but he spent at least half that time dealing with a Republican Congress that kept impeaching him, or at least trying to. They didn’t seem to be able to get much else done.

Here’s another point to consider: Clinton was a fiscal conservative. As he was a fiscal conservative without also being a social conservative, he actually managed to get stuff done — pretty much on his own, since Congress spent most of its time studying its neocon navel during the Clinton administration. Under his watch, the U.S. budget was balanced. I guess Republican logic says that he’s been lurking around in the 8 years since creating the biggest deficit in U.S. history. But they fail to explain how he has managed that, or why he would even try.

And again, there’s that nagging fact that the Republicans have occupied the White House pretty much of the time since 1968. But still, it’s Bill Clinton’s fault. I’m even hearing that some of it is Jimmy Carter’s fault. (Remember him? No? Why am I not surprised?)

Awfully powerful, these Democrats. At least, they must be awfully effective: they accomplished more mischief in 12 years than the Republicans allegedly managed to clean up in the remaining 28.

To be fair, there are some signs of sanity now that I hadn’t seen in the last several years. One of them is the sudden, if infrequent criticism of the formerly unassailable Ronald Reagan. To my mind, this is the idiot who started the cascade of idiocy that enabled the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004 that resulted in an 8-year Bush administration.

This criticism, (still faint and infrequent as a mysterious radio signal from outer space), as well as the suddenly accurate recollections of Reagan’s less saintly moments in office, is reassuring — kind of like a dementia victim responding to a drug that enhances long-term recall. We do need to remember, not through Republican cloudy lenses, but with some sort of sharpness and accuracy. To be sure, Reagan did not cause the crises of the past 8 years any more than did Clinton. But what his administration did do was give ol’ George a chance. There was a time when nobody that stupid could get elected, even as uneasily as Dubya did. But the Reagan Machine, which morphed into the Contract On America in the 1990’s, opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box.

Quickly, as if the cosmos itself had had quite enough of this nonsense, weird, eerie stuff started to happen: 9/11/01 was just the start. That was easily blamed on Clinton, who had left office less than a year earlier. It was especially easy to blame Clinton if you ignored the fact that Bush had brushed off a warning about the impending attacks a month before they occurred.

Then we invaded Afghanistan. Then Iraq. Then Katrina happened — certainly that was not Bush’s fault, but the “heck of a job” in responding to it was.

Illegal immigration mushroomed out of control, and Bush’s response to an angry populace was only to call them “racist.” He sent Mexicans in to fix New Orleans, at least until word got out that U.S. contractors who had gone there had been sent home after being forced to train Mexican companies to do their jobs. After that scheme failed, apparently nothing further was done to resurrect New Orleans.

Mexican Presidents, in the meantime, were allowed to parade around the U.S., talking of “reconquista.” More recently, their troops have repeatedly entered the U.S. And yet, nothing has been done. We’ve barely even heard about it. (No, this is not a racist neocon fantasy, folks, this is real.)

Nothing was done about the deteriorating healthcare system. Nothing. Not enough money, Bush claimed. This leads one to wonder where all the money for the financial-giant bailouts is coming from, as it would have more than paid for an overhaul of the healthcare system. And that’s not all…

Jobs continued to be shipped overseas, even as millions of new bodies arrived on our shores and poured over our borders with little or nothing being done to stop them until very recently. Overall, it’s estimated we lost at least half a million jobs in the early 2000s, even as we added several million immigrants to our residents list. There’s an obvious problem with the math there, as well as another obvious problem: even when we ended up with 300,000,000 people in the U.S., U.S. corporations claimed they still couldn’t find enough good help and needed to import some more bodies — hundreds of thousands of them annually, in fact. And they usually got their way because nothing was being done to stop them.

Nothing was done about the ailing planet except to deny that it was ailing.

Nothing was done about the housing crisis except to deny that there was a housing crisis, which only became apparent after the mortgage market crashed to an extent that almost no one but a truly rabid neocon could succeed in blaming it on the tiny, hapless, stupid, blubbering, bleeding-heart ACORN, the unwitting left-wing patsy of immigration-crazy, cheap-labor, ultra-conservative big business and the Catholic Church. Never mind that a lot of us had been wondering for years how people who were earning less than $100,000 a year — and the vast majority of us were — could afford the $700,000+ McMansions that were springing up all over the place, as perfectly viable older homes were needlessly knocked down or became hideously overpriced themselves.

And now, just about everything in the financial markets has collapsed. Money is being given away in buckets and barrels to the very people who engineered the collapse through their own greed. You and I are left to pay the bill while AIG continues to throw staff parties and pay their executives millions. GM and Ford now have their hands out, even though it’s their own fault that they were caught with lots full of gas-guzzling SUVs at the same time that gas prices soared over $4.00 a gallon and Exxon rolled in the dough while trying to excuse it by claiming that they were not really rolling in dough because the dough was…I don’t know. Barely covering executive salaries, perhaps?

And nothing was done — at least, nothing was done as quickly as the financial-market bailout. What was done for the average person came slowly and was not much help. In fact, I was just thinking that I really do not want, but really need a new car and really, because of my Bush-era salary (which at this point I’m lucky to have at all), can’t afford one. Where’s my handout?

It’s all Bill Clinton’s fault. Remember that.

George Bush must have been vacationing at his ranch the past 8 years.

(for further comment, read http://www.truthout.org/110608A and http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=goodbye_and_good_riddance)

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Oh, shut up

It is now over one week since the election that has left us all stunned at the sight of an actual future. Many people are still too dazzled to speak. Except…are you shocked…Sarah Palin.

The election did not change the fact that we still are faced with a dying economy, a sickly planet, a failed healthcare system, two impossible wars, Rush Limbaugh’s failure to develop chronic laryngitis, etc. etc. etc.

But all this is lost on the pit bull. All she can do is talk about herself. And talk about herself. And talk about herself.

Now mind you, if I were being attacked as she is, no matter how accurate the attacks, my knee-jerk reaction would be self-defense. But apparently this creature has learned nothing from the ticket that defeated hers: that being that sometimes the best defense is little or no defense. And so she yammers on and on about her clothes and her attackers’ immaturity and nasty child bloggers who live in basements, and God, and blah, blah, blah. All this tells me is what she would have done if she had become Vice President — or worse, if McCain passed away, and she were President: “Stop being so MEAN to me while I’m doing my nails!”

“Kisses for my President,” indeed.

Irritatingly, however, some Republican wags are speculating on the pit bull’s supposedly bright future as “the leader of the Republican party.” Others, such as Frank Shaeffer (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/sarah-palin-will-never-be_b_143036.html), a former Republican himself, offer what I view as overly narrow and optimistic pessimism about her prospects. (As much as some would like to believe it, the supporters of the McCain/Palin ticket were likely not all racist rural Southerners who didn’t go to college. Further, I’m not convinced that college is a universal remedy for ignorance.)

I believe it’s too early to tell what will happen to the pit bull. She may end up being the next Dan Quayle if present trends continue and Fox News continues to be discredited long enough for it to stick in people’s minds and outweigh the fact that a lot of people have been, and still are, tuning in to this network for “news” as they have for a decade now. Why does Fox News matter? Because they are attempting to orchestrate the apparently endless saga of Sarah Palin: they are evidently the ones who broke the news about McCain campaign insiders attacking the pit bull (and apparently not all of the attacks originated with the fictional Eisenstadt blog), and they are the ones currently conducting some very fluffy interviews with that same pit bull, allowing her to defend her nine-inch nails and three-inch stilettos with a wink and a pretty smile. They are, to put it bluntly, in for forefront of the attempt to ram her down our throats.

I have not watched the interviews (I don’t have cable or satellite), but from what I gather, nothing of substance is being covered — unless you count the expensive clothing that covered the pit bull during the campaign. Judging from present circumstances — and let’s face it: those circumstances have only been in place a few months — she seems set to become a sort of political equivalent of Britney Spears rather than any truly serious force in public life in years to come. Certainly her public appearances in the 10 days following the election have proven that she is still incoherent and ill-informed, and operating in a sort of princessey bubble. For me that’s pretty hard to overlook, and it will be hard to forget even if she does eventually manage to pull together a few coherent sentences.

If public memory turns out to be short, however, we may be stuck with Palin in the long run. At worst, she may actually make a serious bid for the Presidency in 2012, and we may have enough hungover lunacy from the last 30 years to elect her. Think it’s not possible? Read http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/what-doesnt-kill-the-far_b_143398.html, and start shivering now.

All that aside, what I suspect will really happen is something in the wide margin between Britney Spears/Dan Quayle and President Palin: I think the pit bull will end up like Phyllis Schlafly. She’ll be a bubble-headed irritant constantly mumbling from the right side of her mouth, the realization never dawning on her that if the country were so perfectly conservative as she envisions, no one would be listening to her. The media will run to her every time they need a right-wing opinion on a “liberal” matter, just like they have at times with Schlafly and more often with the late Jerry Falwell, who never failed to show up on any talk show where the subject concerned women’s rights, which was a subject he knew as much about as does the pit bull about anything at all except for clothes, the ‘immaturity’ of people who are mean to her, nasty child bloggers who live in basements, God, and blah, blah, blah.

I believe this is her most likely fate because I think that while the pit bull attracts far too many protectors who really ought to know better, she may actually have too much baggage to become President. Because of this, she may not be able to attract enough bullies (including Fox News, which as I said appears weakened at the moment) to shield her, as George Bush did. She is, in many ways, Bush’s female equivalent — but being female, and seeming to exist now in a post-conservative environment, she has extra problems he never had to deal with. They may never be able to build a proper wall to surround her; they’d need one as thick as her skull and as big as her mouth, which at the moment no longer seems possible.

Time will tell. I’m still holding my breath until Bush is actually out of Washington for good, just because I am so afraid of what his administration might engineer in the next few months. Until then, this is the best guess I can make.

In the meantime, however, I sure do wish Sarah Palin would shut up. For crying out loud, hearing from her over and over — almost every friggin day of the week — is like being pecked to death by a chicken while you’re trying to run away from a tornado. Enough, already.

Rethinking John McCain

In 2000, I was briefly a John McCain supporter.

The year 2000 seems like a century ago and I don’t remember precisely what attracted me to his campaign. I do remember, however, that one smear Bush used on McCain was that he was “crazy” from having been tortured as a prisoner of war. I already intensely disliked Bush before he was elected the first time, and felt very, very angry that this creature — Mr. AWOL himself — had been allowed to get away with it. Of course, he did it again to John Kerry in 2004, and once again got away with trashing a veteran on the subject of military service. For Bush, that issue should have been too hot to handle. But for some reason it wasn’t, and for some reason it was effective.

Anyway, there were times in the last year when I wondered if Bush may have been right about McCain. The person who ran for President in this year did not resemble the one I supported years ago.

But now I wonder how much of what I observed was actually John McCain and how much was the result of John McCain getting frustrated with too much manipulation by the RNC and the people running his campaign.

I know the man is heavily flawed — he’s a definite gold-digger, was apparently horrible to his first wife, is a gambler, and has a terrible temper. But I’m tired of George Bush and his sort being allowed to be heavily flawed while anyone who opposes them has to be nothing less than a saint, or else — and sometimes even being a saint isn’t enough. So to McCain’s flaws, I say, “big fat hairy deal.”

Then again, some words did come out of his mouth that were unfortunate, if not downright stupid, and he was rude and told a lot of outright lies during his campaign. Too often he appeared to be ill-informed and indecisive, a la Bush. That, I have trouble with.

But I’m wondering if he fell or was pushed. Take the case of the pit bull, for instance. I’m coming to believe that McCain may not have had much of a say in this particular disaster. I would not have believed that just a few days ago, but his gracious concession speech — and the revelation that he would not allow his campaign to make issues of certain facts about Obama, such as Obama’s lack of military service — showed me the old John McCain, the one I admired. He still exists, then.

So what happened here?

We’ll probably never know. There is an attempt being made to make Sarah Palin look even worse than she actually was (which admittedly was incredibly bad), in an effort to exhonerate John McCain. I think that may not be necessary. Not that she doesn’t deserve to be demonized, but the thing is, the people who are now demonizing her are the same ones who may have chosen her to be McCain’s running mate.

If that is true, she herself comes out looking the victim. In some sense she may have been — being a woman, I have experienced some of what I gather she went through — but she doesn’t deserve the sympathy that comes with that status. If there were anything worthwhile behind the designer frames, heavy makeup, and expensive clothes, I have obviously failed to note it. She may have been manipulated, but after a certain point her decisions were her own. Those decisions reveal a great deal, and are the reason my opinion of her is unlikely to change even if I do (to a point) understand.

On the other hand, there’s John McCain, and the question of who is the real John McCain. And it is a valid question.

I’m guessing it all comes down to who was in control of this mess, and what it says about McCain that he himself may have lost control of it, or what it may say about the state of the Republican party that he may never have had any control.

Whatever happened, I am rethinking John McCain. The graciousness of his concession speech tells me that someone worthwhile was still lurking behind the messy facade we saw in the last year. Now that it’s unlikely he will ever run for President again, I guess it’s easier to wish him the best. And I do.

Yesterday there was no tomorrow…

Tonight, all of a sudden, it seems as if there may be one after all. Obama was elected President today. I watched his speech in Chicago’s Grant Park on television. It was the first time in many years that I’ve been able to watch a politician’s speech and feel nothing but hope and admiration, rather than irritation and anger.

I know there are rough times ahead; hell, we have rough times today. Bush couldn’t leave us with anything better. He never has in his life.

But now there is a light on somewhere. It will be on all night.

It’s all over but the Bush

…and where is the grinning idiot? Hiding on Airforce One? Oh, wait, he did that already…

YES THIS IS RELATED: I used to like to listen to the Gatlin Brothers. They were once an immensely-popular trio of singing brothers, led by the beautiful country-pop tenor of the eldest brother, Larry. Until the 1990’s their only problem was that Larry wrote nearly all of their material, and for every one great song he wrote, it often seemed like he wrote at least 200 stinkers. Then, saddled with drug-abuse and other problems (I seem to remember that one of them was that Larry lost his gorgeous voice), they retired from touring. Not surprisingly, their nearly stratospheric fame in the 1970’s had faded badly by the year 2000.

And then they became victims of the Bush.

I recall that sometime in February or March of  2001, the Gatlins, who were/are from Texas, went on television to hold a “prayer vigil” to pray that all those who hated Bush would not so much come to like him as atone for the sin of hatred (a lot of people were, at the time, struggling with the fact that this asshole stole an election; I still haven’t quite recovered from it). Why the Gatlins did not include Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Weiner a.k.a. Savage, etc., in on the atonement thing is a good question, as is why it became so excusable for neocons to hate Clinton with the same incoherent passion with which they loved Bush. However, I digress…

I’m happy to note that in the 8 years since, the Gatlins have almost completely disappeared and nowadays, nearly everybody hates Bush. In fact, the only people who appear not to hate Bush are those who listen daily to the likes of Limbaugh and Weiner. I note that these people tend to carry radios with them wherever they go and play those radios quite loudly. Possibly they are not brainwashed enough and need to keep being reminded. “A day without corrosive anger is like a day without sunshine,” you know. Or maybe it’s just that when you have something that makes as little sense as does the notion that Bush is a good guy, you need to keep being reminded why he’s a good guy. When sense doesn’t make sense, you have to keep making it seem to make sense. Or something like that.

Anyway, by the end of today, we’ll have a view of what life will be like post-Bush.

But not so fast.

In the past eight years, we’ve all become too accustomed to seeing eyes in the Bushes. Just because the chimp is missing in action today, and just because he’s supposed to leave office in January, doesn’t mean he’s gone.

To start with, McCain/Palin still might manage to steal the election. That’s the surest way of Bush staying in office at least another 4 years.

Even if they don’t, Bush could still pull some more mayhem — perhaps enough to declare the election null and void and put us all under the thumb of marshall law “for our own good,” just like all the other shit he has pulled in the last 8 years “for our own good:” ignoring a terrorist threat before 9/11; the color-coded “be afraid, be more afraid, be very afraid” alerts; two wars — one excusable but the other inexplicable; letting New Orleans go to hell after Katrina (or rather, attempting to give New Orleans to Mexico after Katrina, then turning his back on New Orleans when the scheme didn’t work); domestic spying; torture; calling Americans “racist;” ruining the economy; bailing his Wall Street buddies out at the expense of the rest of us…how many things have I missed? Too fucking many to mention. So yes…I do believe that a declaration of marshall law is not totally impossible at this point. Could be that because there are some of us still standing, Bush might decide he’s not done yet.

For instance, there has been some speculation that the bitch dog (a.k.a. Pit Bull Barbie) accidentally let it slip that we are already at war with Iran. I have my doubts about that, because I check the international newspapers. Even if such news were being suppressed in the U.S., I very much doubt Iran would be quiet about it. And the European newspapers, at least, would be bound to report it.

But there may be a grain of truth in her slobber. She of the Confused Facts may have let slip a not-so-distant future plan.

And so I, for one, will not stop holding my breath after we learn the election results today or tomorrow. I will hold my breath until Inauguration Day, because until then, the Bush will still be lurking. Even more frightening, he may still be lurking long thereafter.