Bush is our cross to bear Issues Beyond Palo Alto, posted by Jon, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on May 31, 2007 at 7:42 am
While it is true that Bush has presented America as a nation of vacant-eyed fratboys who gave up booze for the Bible and who care more for John Wayne than for Thomas Jefferson, we can not lay the blame entirely at the feet of our Idiot Child-Emperor.
He was put in White House twice by a public that is equal parts uninformed, psychotic, and apathetic. We constantly buy into the messianic myth of America as the Standard Bearer, the gleaming example by which all other countries must be judged. So blinded are we by what we do (or at least used to do) right, that we have long forgotten to bother with doing better.
Our unprecedented freedom of speech has brought us Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Girls Gone Wild and The Flava of Love.
Our substantial wealth has brought us a nation obsessed with 60-inch Plasma TVs, 120 GB iPods, episodes of MTV's Cribs, and a class of privileged twits so useless we needed to coin the term "celebutante" to explain their existence.
Our freedom of religion has given rise to some of the least tolerant brands of apocalyptic Christianity the world has ever seen.
We have an approximation of a Free Market system which is just distorted enough to allow a new caste system where consolidation of wealth and control falls in the hands of a single digit percentage of the population.
If the world looks at us and questions are moral right to dictate practices in the rest of the world, it is not just because of our elected leader. It is because they look behind the leader and see a nation too uninformed, psychotic and apathetic to stop him from rising to power.
What we need to do is put our own house in order. You do not take gardening advice from the neighbor with the dead lawn. People with whiskey on their breath do not run AA meetings.
In many districts, our Diebold moderated elections are so suspect that they would not pass UN oversight. Only 50% of our population has enough faith in democracy to bother voting. Do we honestly believe that we are the people to show the world a better way?
Our founding fathers considered America a great experiment. It still is. Which means it is a work in progress. Somewhere in the last hundred years, we have gotten way the hell off course. We need to fix this if we are to be respected in the world.
Islamic Fundamentalism will always be a problem. Our Fundamentalist in Chief is playing into their cause and vice versa. I think that it is important that the leader of any nation must fear death. Bush's form of faith puts his mentality just inches away from that of a suicide bomber. He calls his war one of ideology, because he knows that to call it a religious or holy war would tip his hand too much. He called this thing a Crusade when he was gearing us up to invade Iraq. It was probably the last time he was honest with the American people about his intentions.
But again, there is a large branch of the population that put him in the White House. These code words of "Crusade" and "ideological struggle" are a message to the contingent of Americans who hope for Armageddon. If the world looks at Bush as a dangerous zealot, they also look over the shoulder at the millions of Americans reading the Left Behind series, the Jerry Falwells, the Pat Robertsons, the Regent University grads who have packed this administration.
Our founding fathers were Deists, intellectual agnostics who knew that a major problem of the royal model was the idea of divine provenance. They created a secular government to try and avoid the pitfalls we are now diving into.
Part of the American Experiment was to have a nation that was not based on mutual acceptance of the same imaginary man in the sky, but mutual respect for the rational mind.
It is through a return to reason that we will reinvent our standing in the world.
Posted by Resident?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 31, 2007 at 8:19 am
I suppose it is also the president's fault that the nation is rising in obesity, spending $$$ on bottled designer water and designer coffees, and enjoying (?) the everyday necessities that a decade ago we would have scoffed at as privileged luxuries.
No, people cause many of the problems you have stated above. Some first hand, some because of their electoral choices. Take away the caucaus system, take away the $$millions spent on elections, take away the fact that it takes nearly two years to elect a president and then perhaps you will have something to argue about. Until then, you have no sympathy from me or the rest of the world.
Posted by Page, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on May 31, 2007 at 12:45 pm
The Bush administration used the fear generated on September 11 to push its right wing agenda and start its war against Saddam. Bush and Co. ridiculed John Kerry when he said that terrorists are criminals and we need old fashioned police work to deal with them. Yet every major case preventing a possible terrorist attack in the US and the UK has resulted from old fashioned police work.
On the night of September 11 and in the days that followed I waited for some sign that Bush undertood this would be a struggle that would require all our weapons - economic, social, cultural, political as well as military. I am still waiting. A great opportunity was lost, one that comes maybe once a century when the world appears united in common cause. Bush threw it away because his small mind couldn't grasp the grandeur of the chance.
And the debate about terrorism still hasn't happened.
If another major attack occurs tomorrow we will lose more of our civil liberties without a debate.
Americans react badly when they are afraid (suppressing liberties during the Red Scare of 1919; imprisoning Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor; suppressing liberties during the Cold War; and now torture, loss of civil liberties and an illegal war in the wake of September 11). It's time for the American people, if not their leaders, to understand that decisions made in the grip of fear almost always turn out badly with apologies and reparations to follow.
Osama and the other terrorists cannot bring us down. Only we can bring us down. And we are doing a wonderful job of it.
Posted by Jeff, a resident of Portola Valley, on May 31, 2007 at 12:51 pm
What Bush, Bin Laden, the Wahabis and the evangelical wing of the Republican party, as well as fundamentalists in general all share is that they are intellectually and doctrinally opposed to the principles of the enlightenment. Fundamentalists require us to substitute reason, science, and rationality with a mindless and unquestioning adherence to what they see as tradition and the received word of god, as interpreted by the fundamentalists; for realistically, fundamentalists stand for irrationality, superstition, and tyranny - so long as it's their specific brand. They also share a taste for moral posturing that is at odds with the reality of their conduct.
It is this that has caused the US' star to sink; for almost two centuries the US was not just a country, it was a symbol, a talisman to the world of what an enlightened society could be. Rightly or wrongly, in the 18th, 19th and first three quarters of the the 20th century the world looked at the United States as a special place.
What is horrifying is that the cynical bastards who wrecked America all wear their morality on their sleeve, they do Bible study in the morning, they drip the words of Jesus, they condemn the sinner William Jefferson Clinton, and behind the scenes they line their pockets, look after their friends, and justify torture.
Posted by Duddie, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on May 31, 2007 at 12:52 pm
It's well known that Bush intends to use some security scare to effect a total take-over of the US government sometime before the 2008 election so as to hang on to power. There already has been a National Security Directive issued to pave the way for this action.
I wish there were some way to stop this, but it seems like the die is cast and we're on the way to theocratic dictatorship.
Posted by Draw the Line, a resident of Stanford, on May 31, 2007 at 1:07 pm
Too bad Bush et al don't ACTUALLY have all the power and influence the Bush haters think they do!
I MUCH preferred it when Clinton portrayed us as we really are... a sex crazed,cheating, lying, legalistic, military despising, change with the wind, scared, criminal pardoning nation who didn't inhale!
Posted by Jack, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 31, 2007 at 1:49 pm
As the nation focused on whether Congress would exercise its constitutional duty to cut funding for the war, Bush quietly issued an unconstitutional bombshell that went virtually unnoticed by the corporate media.
The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, signed on May 9, 2007, would place all governmental power in the hands of the President and effectively abolish the checks and balances in the Constitution.
If a "catastrophic emergency"-which could include a terrorist attack or a natural disaster-occurs, Bush's new directive says: "The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government."
What about the other two co-equal branches of government? The directive throws them a bone by speaking of a "cooperative effort" among the three branches, "coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers." The Vice-President would help to implement the plans.
"Comity," however, means courtesy, and the President would decide what kind of respect for the other two branches of government would be "proper." This Presidential Directive is a blatant power grab by Bush to institutionalize "the unitary executive."
A seemingly innocuous phrase, the unitary executive theory actually represents a radical, ultra rightwing interpretation of the powers of the presidency. Championed by the conservative Federalist Society, the unitary executive doctrine gathers all power in the hands of the President and insulates him from any oversight by the congressional or judicial branches. Precisely what the founders tried so hard to prevent from ever happening when drafting the Constitution.
Posted by A Boomer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 31, 2007 at 2:15 pm
I loathe Bush as much as anybody, but does anyone honestly think he wants to keep that job beyond the expriation date? I hear he cannot stand being in DC (given his job performance, I don't blame him) and I would bet he can't wait to scurry back to Crawford and clear some real shrub.
Cheney may have the sorts of nefarious designs described above, but people like Bob Gates at Defense will not fall into line. There are a few people in the West Wing now who will contain this guy, much as Nixon was. The Republicans on Capitol Hill are starting to crack. Rove and Company no longer can keep all the dishes spinning in this charade they have been orchestrating since the Clinton impeachment. This administration is so incompetent, how can anyone think they would be able to pull off sucessfully a suspension of the Constitution?
There is a big turd in the toilet, and it has finally been acknolwedged for its acrid smell and the brackish waters overflowing onto the floor. The flushing has begun, but it will not end for another year and a half, and the stench will be with us for some time afterwards. But it will not bring the house down, just make it an unpleasant place to live for a while as saner people mop up the mess the turd has caused.
Posted by Sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on May 31, 2007 at 4:18 pm
While conventional wisdom agrees with you A Boomer, there are also some puzzling and alarming indications that the opposite might be true and that Bush is indeed suspending the Constitution, not in one big swoop, but in chunks and increments. There are plenty of justifications to start the impeachment process against that bastard, but Democrats should start it immediately to tie up his hands and slow down the process of GWB becoming a monarch, in increments. We can't take chances on being too optimistic, because once we lose our democracy we may never get it back.
Posted by A Boomer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 31, 2007 at 5:29 pm
I don't think I am naive about this so-called "Constitutional Crisis." My very old very feeble father gets all his right wing propoganda from his being a registered Republican at my house, and to read it, you would think that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are planning to abdicate the country to some new place called "North America," which, according to another one in today's mail, will likely be run by the crazies at UNESCO. The conspiracies are everywhere.
This is not 1930's Germany, where the country is in awe of a leader who seemed to restore it to greatness, and the government apparatchiks, especially the military, fell into line and did what they were told. I don't disagree that Shrub has significantly eroded some Consititutional rights, and even some of those already are getting returned. The next President, whoever it is, will change all of this with a stroke of the pen after he/she is sworn in and before the luncheon at the Capitol Building.
And, I'd love to see him get impeached, but I think the Democrats controlling Congress think it may backfire, they may end up with egg on their faces, and unwittingly give an advantage back to the GOP. They'd rather let Shrub squirm, and I think they are making the right call.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 31, 2007 at 5:39 pm
Every administration has had contingency plans for disasters. After the crap thrown at Bush because he did not instantly take over in New Orleans over the objections of State and local authorities, the objection to the revised emergency plan rings hollow.
It is a part of the republican form of government, or of any government that you don't always get your way. Get over it.
Posted by Marge, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 7:44 am
In 1926, Justice Louis Brandeis explained the constitutional role of the separation of powers. He wrote, "The doctrine of the separation of powers was adopted by the convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. The purpose was not to avoid friction, but, by means of the inevitable friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy."
Eighty years later, noted conservative Grover Norquist, describing the unitary executive theory, echoed Brandeis's sentiment. Norquist said, "you don't have a constitution; you have a king."
One wonders what Bush & Co. are setting up with the new Presidential Directive. What if, heaven forbid, some sort of catastrophic event were to occur just before the 2008 election? Bush could use this directive to suspend the election. This administration has gone to great lengths to remain in Iraq. It has built huge permanent military bases and pushed to privatize Iraq's oil. Bush and Cheney may be unwilling to relinquish power to a successor administration.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 10:04 am
One might also wonder what Brandise might have thought about the activist courts usurping legislative and executive powers.
Every president has had an emergency plan. These same folk complaining about this plan are the folk who bashed Bush for not having overridden local and state authorities to impose federal rule over New Orleans.
Posted by Sarlat, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 11:38 am
It may be true that bush is tired of D.C. and wants to go back to Texas to play cowboy, but he and Cheney must be very aware that after they are out of office there will be tremendous international pressure to get them and some of their cronies to the Hague to face war crime charges. The presidential directives allow them to stay in power, citing national emergency and the may feel it's the only way to avoid the Hague.
Posted by Citizen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 14, 2007 at 4:52 pm
I'm still stuck on your comment that Bush was put in the White House twice by the public...
I think if it hadn't been for a range of fraudulent election shenanigans, Bush would not have won the first election, probably not the second. Certainly if you take away the traditional incumbent advantage, he wouldn't have won the second election, either.
In Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets and demanded (and got) a fair election that brought the real winner to power. What did we do?
Republicans have been trying to get power and keep it by any means for decades. They seem to have thought that "absolute power corrupts absolutely" wouldn't apply to them. We could have predicted the shenanigans with elections long enough in advance to prevent them, yet we did not. (I saw foreshadowing of this at least six years earlier, many people predicted them earlier still.)
This had real consequences, to the Supreme Court, to our Constitution, that will last long after Bush leaves power.
Being a good citizen means more than just showing up on election day.