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By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
Sometimes the reality behind the spin just pops out at you when politicians open their mouths. Here are four such quotes on the topics of democracy, the U.S. Attorneys scandal, global warming, and Iraq.
1. DEMOCRACY & HARD-RIGHTISTS
Take John Bolton (please!), the arch neoconservative who Bush foisted on the United Nations in a recess appointment when the Senate wouldn't approve the nomination of Bolton as ambassador. He was on "The Daily Show" recently, arguing with host Jon Stewart about whether Bush should pay attention to the American public's overwhelming opposition to the Iraq War and to the Administration's mishandling of the occupation.
Bolton said Stewart and similar critics didn't understand how democracies are supposed to work. Bush's responsibility, said Bolton, is not to the amorphous thing called the "American people" but to be "true to the people who voted for him. Otherwise, what's the point of having elections?" ( click here )
In this, Bolton was restating the philosophy of governance that Cheney and Rove have utilized for the past six years. Using the logic of Machiavelli and Leo Strauss, Cheney and Rove believe that the Administration should move ruthlessly and aggressively on their agenda as long as they have one more vote than the other guys, with no concessions made to those who didn't support them. (I won't even go into the likelihood here that the Bush campaign stole the 2004 election.) Contrast this with John F. Kennedy's statement when asked why he was not looking after the interests of those who elected him; he replied: "I was elected President of all the people."
The Bush Administration believed all attention should be focused on their rightwing, activist, largely fundamentalist base that put them in power. They had little need to acknowledge the opposition and instead should try to marginalize and destroy them in every way they can, in order to create the conditions for permanent, one-party rule.
In short, the HardRightists do not believe in democracy, compromise, minority rights, civility, etc. That's "old school" politics -- "quaint," to use Alberto Gonzales' dismissive term. Bush&Co. engage in smash-mouth politics, grab it while you can take it politics, you're with us or you're against us politics, join us or get out of our way politics. It's an authoritarian, good vs. evil way of viewing the world, and it has stood them in good stead until recently -- aided greatly by post-9/11 fear and by a compliant, stenographic mass-media.
THE REVERSE-MIDAS TOUCH
So how to explain the grand change? Partly, of course, the shift came because the constant iteration of this extreme ideological perspective on the world gets old and boring and, most importantly, doesn't match reality. Also, there is Bush&Co.'s constant reverse-Midas effect: whatever they touch turns not to gold but to excrement. It's difficult to even think of a positive development that has emerged from the Bush Administration in the past six years. Rather, their list of accomplishments reveals little more than disaster, disappointment, and death.
The public eventually has come to discount the Administration's propaganda efforts, fed by Rove and his minions in the rightwing media machine, aided by the docile corporate newspapers and TV networks. What the Bushistas are peddling simply isn't credible anymore, at least to two thirds of the citizenry.
The HardRightists still depend on the remaining one-third: the fundamentalist die-hards, more comfortable with authoritarian leadership. But, at long last, the traditional non-fundamentalist conservatives, especially in the military, appalled by the extremists in charge of their party, ##have abandoned the HardRight Bush Administration. (
And why this drastic falloff of Bushist support? Though overly simplistic, one can offer these explanatory tags: Iraq, Katrina, Corruption, Incompetence, Valerie Plame, Iraq, Walter Reed, Domestic Spying, Pat Tillman, U.S. Attorneys, Iraq, and Iraq. Did I mention Iraq?
Simply put -- as verified by the November 2006 election results sweeping the GOP out of Congressional power, and in all the recent public opinion polls -- the country has taken a national no-confidence vote on the Bush Administration. They just want them to leave before more reckless damage is done. And, as recent polls demonstrate, 50% of Americans are in favor of impeachment hearings -- even in the face of the agit-prop doled out by the corporate media.
Finally, the Democrats, in limited areas, are beginning to come alive, which is another key ingredient for change.
2. THE U.S. ATTORNEYS REPLACEMENTS
So what's the money-quote regarding the U.S. Attorneys scandal? My vote goes to this one by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who told the senators at his confirmation hearing that
he would "never, ever" ask U.S. Attorneys to step down for political reasons. ( http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1174035822692 )
This was a bald-faced lie, and perhaps grounds for a perjury or contempt-of-Congress charge, as it has been clearly revealed that the reason for firing the eight U.S. Attorneys was that they weren't regarded as "loyal Bushies" -- an actual term used in an email to Karl Rove. The attorneys were, in fact, fired because, among other reasons, they were not willing to blindly follow the party line by investigating and indicting Democrats while giving a pass to felonious Republicans.
Once again, an administration in the White House gets itself into legal hot water not so much for the initial "crime," but because of the lies and deceits in the coverup. Reportedly, Gonzo has been spending days and days preparing his story for his appearances next week before the relevant Congressional committees. Why would he have to strategize with GOP minders if he has nothing to hide? If he has done nothing wrong, all he has to do is to tell the truth. Aye, there's the rub.
THE "LOYAL-BUSHIE" U.S. ATTORNEYS
And what of the "loyal-Bushie" U.S. Attorneys, now in charge in their districts? Here are just three:
* A judge ruled that an epic plea-agreement blunder by recently appointed U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor for the Washington, D.C. District -- in the largest tax prosecution ever -- means that the treasury can't recoup at least $100 million in restitution. The judge, in a notable understatement, said "This is a very poorly drafted agreement." ( http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/alerts/215 )
* U.S. Attorney J. Timothy Griffin (Eastern District of Arkansas) - a protege of Karl Rove -- made claims about his experience as an Army lawyer that have been put in doubt by military records. ( http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/040307b.html ) The 38-year-old Griffin claims on his official Web site that he prosecuted 40 criminal cases while at Ft. Campbell, where he was stationed from September 2005 to May 2006. But Army authorities say Ft. Campbell's records show Griffin only serving as assistant counsel on three cases, none of which went to trial.
* Four top staffers under Rachel Paulose (District of Minneapolis) voluntarily demoted themselves to send a message to Washington, D.C., that 33-year-old Paulose, who, after just four months on the job, is way over her head. ( http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/013470.php ) She has earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dictatorially dressing down underlings. Before being appointed to the plum U.S. Attorney post, Paulose, a graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School was a special assistant to Alberto Gonzales. DOJ has had to dispatch a high-ranking minder to Paulose's office to help her out.
And what about those U.S. Attorneys, presumably certifiable "Bushie loyal," that the Administration permitted to stay on in their jobs? How are they working out? Here's one notorious example:
Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo website, ( http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/013489.php ) which has been all over the U.S. Attorneys scandal from the very beginning, reports that in Milwaukee, an appeals threw out the corruption conviction aimed at a state official close to the Democratic governor because the evidence supplied by U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic was, to quote the judges (both Republican-appointed), "beyond thin." Bogus, in other words.
Clearly, in this whole U.S. Attorneys story, we probably are viewing only the tip of the iceberg these days. What's to come from below the surface is bound to reveal a much wider, even worse scandal, not surprising given the history of this Administration.
3. GLOBAL WARMING: BUSH'S STATE OF DENIAL
And the tell-tale quote that says it all about Bush and world climate change:
Asked by an interviewer what he hoped his "legacy" in history would be, Bush expressed the ultimate solipsism: "I'll be dead." ( click here )
In other words, the future we help create for our children and grandchildren is of no importance, since either the Apocalypse will come shortly or I'll be dead, so why should I bother my head worrying about what happens to others after I leave the scene?
That self-involved atittude of denial and ethical narcissism has resulted in non-action when it comes to global warming/climate change. The leading industrial country in the world -- responsible for a good share of the pollution that is speeding up global warming -- could have led the fight to cut back on CO2 and other pollutants, but instead did essentially nothing. More than six years of deadly neglect.
Now the world's scientists are telling us -- and we can see with our own eyes -- that the changes wrought by global warming are happening much faster than we once thought were possible, and catastrophe looms for millions around the globe due to rising sea levels, floods, droughts, shortage of potable water, extraordinary storm systems, starvation, wipeout of entire species, etc. etc.
But, what the hell? I've got mine, Jack. The rest of you will have to fend for yourselves. That's Bushism in a very few words.
4. THE UNFOLDING IRAQ CATASTROPHE
I guess this week's money quote on Iraq comes from Sen. John McCain, at one time a truth-telling maverick, but so desperate to occupy the White House that he drank the Bush Kool-Aid and became a raving supporter of all thinks hawkish in Iraq.
Bush's escalation of the war (the so-called "surge") is working so well, McCain told reporters, that "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today." ( http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Audio_John_McCain_interviewed_by_Bill_0326.html ) Since so many reporters and military officers guffawed loudly when he uttered that whopper, he thought he'd do a demonstration walk to show how safe it was out there on the mean streets of inner Baghdad. What was McCain thinking?
He did indeed take a stroll in a local marketplace, which he asserted was "proof" that one could walk freely in Baghdad. McCain, as photos revealed, was dressed in body armor and surrounded by 100 U.S. troops, with American snipers on the rooftops, and at least two Apache helicopters overhead. That's "walking freely."
The following day, probably as a response to that bit of photo-op grandstanding, the insurgents turned that marketplace into a bloody charnel house, bombs and bullets killing 14 Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi rebels had a point of their own to make. (McCain then tried to back away from his overstated optimism about the situation in Baghdad.)
THE CONSTANT 6-MONTHS-MORE REFRAIN
The pro-escalation spin is: Just give General Petraeus six months more. Haven't we seen this movie before in Vietnam and elsewhere? Six months from now, the White House and its lackeys will claim that "we're just about to turn the corner" and ask for six more months, and then six months more and then -- well, lookee here, there's a new Administration in the White House and it's now their problem. Goodbye.
In the meantime, more U.S. troops will be "surged" into Iraq: incompletely-trained Army and Marine brigades sent back for yet another tour of duty, more Reserves, more National Guard units (13,000 are being activated right now for service in Iraq), etc. etc. Bush, in effect, is painting targets on their backs and sending them into a civil-war shooting gallery.
The ostensible "Opposition Party," the Democrats, can't quite decide how far and how fast to push for withdrawal from Iraq, and whether now is the time to initiate impeachment hearings of Bush and Cheney.
So we'll be forced to watch thousands of young American men and women and Iraqi civilians get slaughtered and maimed until a new President reverses course and finally brings the troops safely home.
That's America 2007 under CheneyBush and far-too-timid Democrats. Disgraceful!
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly two decades, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org .
First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 4/10/07.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)