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Dishonest and Delusional or Criminal?

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Although Americans stuck with the president through huge tax cuts for the rich, a destructive environmental policy, an economic policy that enriches corporations and lowers wages, and his attempts to dismantle Social Security, it took Hurricane Katrina before his ineptitude became an embarrassment.

As Americans wake up to the reality of George W. Bush, his popularity plummets. Even stalwart conservatives are calling the president incompetent and out of touch.

In the face of poor governance, Americans appear totally unconcerned, bent on enjoying the credit card lifestyle in mall heaven, although much of their spending is a response to declining wages. Recently, the horror of Iraq and the repeated failed promises of improvement have begun to wear thin, not to mention the projected $1 to $2 trillion price tag for Iraq and burgeoning yearly federal deficits.

When government officials warn of a White House lost in the "fog of war" and explain that Bush took a vacation on the eve of Katrina (he said he felt a "sense of relaxation" afterwards), the public knows things are terribly wrong. Huge corruption scandals in the Republican Party don't help, and the president's ratings have plunged to the lowest of his presidency.

In March, a Field Poll found 65 percent of Californians disapprove of Bush's handling of the war and 56 percent disapprove of his performance in office. Nationally, a Harris poll found in March that 64 percent disapprove of Bush's presidency and a March Newsweek poll found that 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the economy and of his energy policy, and 62 percent disapprove of his handling of health care.

Despite low ratings in many areas, the president's war in Iraq remains a lightning rod. After Karl Rove told him that Americans would support the war if they thought the U.S. would win, Bush began to give optimistic speeches that ignore the daily reality of Iraq, blame his failures on media reporting and paint a rosy picture of eventual victory. Grotesquely, he compares Iraq to Nazi Germany and Soviet domination. Bush says he is right and everyone else is wrong, including many of his own generals and the former Iraqi prime minister who claims his country is in a civil war. Now Bush wants a new regime change in Iraq and his speeches illustrate the sadly delusional policies of chickenhawk neo-cons and the ruling triumvirate: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Recently Senator Russell Feingold called for censuring Bush for a secret spying program in the National Security Agency (NSA) that intercepts thousands of emails, phone calls and other communications of citizens without warrants. After President Richard Nixon's abuse of spying in the 1970s, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to protect Americans from unreasonable intrusion of government in citizens' lives. Balancing the need for national security, FISA requires the NSA to obtain court orders based on reasonable cause and to make annual reports to Congress.

Ignoring the law, Bush claims presidential authority to authorize secret spying. According to the Newsweek Poll, 42 percent of Americans favor censuring Bush for breaking the law. Republicans rallied around the president to oppose any investigation because they feared the results would condemn the president and Republican complacency in ill-conceived spying. Currently, Congress is not considering impeachment and only 26 percent of those polled favor impeachment (94 percent of Republicans are opposed). In an attempt to bring Bush supporters to the polls in the upcoming Congressional election, conservatives around the country are pushing the questions: Should Bush is impeached?

There is little likelihood that Bush's own party would impeach him. If the Democrats win the midterm elections and were to impeach Bush, who would become president? Cheney who had a voting record to the right of Jesse Helms when he represented Wyoming in the Senate? Escaping Bush's policies isn't that easy.

As surly as the Ancient Mariner killed the pet albatross and had to live on to expiate his sins, America is stuck with the occupation of Iraq. As Colin Powell said upon Bush's invasion of Iraq, "You break it, you own it." As for Bush, the curse will live on in the eyes of those who accuse him of leading America, not only into an unjust war, but into a costly and possibly catastrophic decline. Not even God can save us and America's good reputation may never be revived.

Even more important than impeachment is the necessity for the U.S. to join the International Criminal Court, a war crimes tribunal that prosecutes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Court would play a role similar to the U.S.-sponsored Nuremburg tribunal, which oversaw Nazi war crimes prosecutions. So far, the U.S. has resisted joining the court, but joining may be the only way for American war criminals, who launched an unprovoked war on Iraq and murdered over 100,000 of its civilians, to receive the justice they deserve.

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Don Monkerud is an Santa Cruz, California-based writer who follows cultural, social and political issues.

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