The Bush Decade
by Mick Youther
It's that time of the year again--when anyone who pretends to be a columnist is obligated to comment on the events of the past year; or in this case, the past decade.
The first big event of the decade was when the U.S. Supreme Court changed the way we choose a President. Instead of counting votes to see who won the 2000 election, the Supreme Court stopped the vote count and appointed George W. Bush to be our forty-third President.
The majority of Americans responded to this unprecedented outrage with a yawn. Given the choice between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, it didn't seem to matter which one became President--so we got Tweedle Dumb. After all, how much harm could one man do in a government of checks and balances, constrained by the U.S. Constitution?
Now we know.
George W. Bush came into office looking for any excuse to invade Iraq, and his neoconservative cronies were hoping for some kind of "Pearl Harbor event", so they could implement their plan for world domination (as described in the Project for the New American Century's publication: Rebuilding America's Defenses. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was just what they needed.
Bush quickly declared a War on Terror and invaded Afghanistan. His War on Terror soon became his War of Error (with the invasion of Iraq) ...and America has been at war ever since--with the usual consequences:
"War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few " No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."--James Madison, fourth U.S. President (1809-1817)
Mr. Bush's wars (along with his tax cuts), had the predicted effect on the American economy.
"The day the Bush administration took over from President Bill Clinton in 2001, America enjoyed a $236 billion budget surplus--with a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion. When the Bush administration left office, it handed President Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit--and projected shortfalls of $8 trillion for the next decade. During eight years in office, the Bush administration passed two major tax cuts skewed to the wealthiest Americans, enacted a costly Medicare prescription-drug benefit and waged two wars, without paying for any of it."--David Axelrod, The Washington Post, 1/15/10
You would think such a drastic economic downturn would hurt everyone, but it didn't. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer:
- ""[O]ver the last decade 2/3 of all economic growth has gone to the top 1% of income earners. Meanwhile the middle class has suffered a $13 trillion writedown in wealth as a result of the housing collapse."-- Robert Freeman, The Real Top Ten Stories of the Past Decade, CommonDreams.org, 1/1/10
- "Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999--and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009."--The Washington Post, 1/2/10
"It was the worst decade for jobs. Some 7 million jobs were lost (perhaps permanently), 14.5 million were left unemployed, and 6 million out-of-work adults became discouraged and stopped looking for work" By the end of the decade, the jobless rate reached a 26-year-high."-- Terrance Heath, Blog for America's Future, 1/8/10
The Bush Administration didn't confine its attacks to Afghanistan and Iraq, it also attacked the Constitution of the United States. Before the dust from the collapse of the World Trade Centers had settled, Congress passed the PATRIOT ACT. "and anyone who objected to its unconstitutional provisions was branded "soft on terror".
To keep Americans safe, our government has infiltrated and investigated such nefarious groups as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Catholic Workers group, a consumer group fighting a utility rate increase, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and the DC Anti-War Network (any group opposed to war is a definite threat to Bush's New World Order).
"[The FBI's watch list] has more than 1 million entries of names and aliases representing about 400,000 people" --with an average of 1,600 people who presented a "reasonable suspicion" being added every day."--San Francisco Chronicle, 11/29/09 (This list has included the names of infants, dead people, Senator Ted Kennedy, singer Cat Stevens, and President Evo Morales of Bolivia. What this "watch" list doesn't include is the names of people known to be the most dangerous terrorists in the world. (Our government wants to keep those names secret) Don't you feel safer now?
"In May 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA had been secretly collecting the phone-call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by major telecom firms."--The Washingon Post, 10/13/07
"The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried""--The Washington Post, 9/22/07
"Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not feel bound by the law or the Constitution. It cannot even be trusted to properly use the enhanced powers it was legally granted after the attacks."--New York Times, 8/3/07
The Grand Finale of the Bush presidency was when the housing bubble burst, precipitating a economic meltdown and the worst recession since the Great Depression. American taxpayers had to bail out the Wall Street firms that were responsible for the whole mess (because they were too important to fail--or so they tell us).
"And now--while states and counties, cities and towns, schools and public services of every kind are struggling through a prolonged recession; those same Wall Street firms are reporting record profits and handing out huge bonuses to the financial geniuses who caused the crash in the first place.
Let's face it. By almost any measure, the first decade of the twenty-first century sucked--unless you were part of the rich elite that has prospered from Bush's wars and the wholesale exportation of America's factories to the lands of cheap labor. That is why Barack Obama won such a decisive victory in the election of 2008--because he promised change.
In the next decade, things will change. The wars may end; the economy may improve; but the assault on our Constitution will continue--unless we stop it.
Right now, our government can read our letters and emails, monitor our phone calls, track our movements, search our houses, examine our medical and financial records, and confiscate just about anything it wants--even if there is no suspicion of a crime. The government claims it has the right to do these things--The Constitution of the United States says it doesn't. That is why we must defend our Constitution.
Every government official has taken a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution. We must demand that they live up to that oath. If they do that one thing, the next decade will be better than the Bush Decade.