By Tony Russell|
As the 2008 election approaches, it may be worthwhile to make a quick
run-through of the past eight years, and remind ourselves just how horrible
they have actually been. Keep in mind, as you go to the polls, that many of
those running have supported Mr. Bush and his agenda at least 90%of the
time, or caved into his most despicable demands.
January 11, 2000 ~ The man campaigning to be "the education president"
exemplifies the advantages of an expensive education, pointing out that
""Rarely is the question asked, 'Is our children learning'?"
August, 2001 ~ Following a barrage of warnings that a terrorist attack
upon the United States is imminent, Mr. Bush goes on a month long vacation
at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Mike Allen of the Washington Post
calculates that, at this point, Mr. Bush has spent 42% of his term in office
February 5, 2003 ~ The administration sends Secretary of State Colin Powell
before the U.N. Security Council to make the case for an invasion of Iraq.
Powell speaks for more than eighty minutes, cutting loose with a barrage of
charges against the Iraqis, including claims that they are hiding chemical
and biological weapons, and have revived their nuclear weapons program. He
warns of "the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
pose to the world," and succeeds in scaring the bejesus out of the American
public. Following the invasion, no weapons of mass destruction are found.
Not a single accusation levied by Mr. Powell is ever substantiated.
May 1, 2003 ~ Mr. Bush stands aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in an event
orchestrated to mark the end of major combat operations in Iraq. With a
red, white, and blue banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" as a
backdrop, he declares, "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror
that began on September 11, 2001, and still goes on."
February 10, 2004 ~ At a fund-raising stop in Chicago,, Mr. Bush takes a
hard line on the leaking of Valerie Plame's undercover identity with the
CIA. "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.
If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of." Events
later indicate that the president indeed knows who provided the leak--his
closest advisor, Karl Rove, and his vice-president's chief of staff, Scooter
Libby. Rove retains his job until he eventually resigns; Libby is convicted
of one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury, and one count of lying
to the FBI. Libby is "taken care of" when Mr. Bush commutes his sentence.
April 11, 2004 ~ Fielding an unexpected question at his first prime time
press conference in over a year, Mr. Bush is unable to think of a single
mistake he has made since the attacks of September 11. "I wish you'd have
given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it," he
complains. A long, awkward pause follows.
"I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press
conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but
it hadn't yet," he says.
April 28, 2004 ~ The U.S. public learns about Abu Ghraib when 60 Minutes II
reports on the torture of prisoners just before an article by Seymour Hersh
is due to appear in The New Yorker. Among the revelations which eventually
emerge: prisoners have been pissed on and smeared with feces; a prisoner
with a wounded leg was beaten on the wound with a metal baton; prisoners
were sodomized with broomsticks and batons; prisoners had phosphoric acid
poured on them; prisoners were beaten to death; prisoners were dragged
across the floor with ropes tied to their penises; prisoners were shocked
with electric wires connected to "various parts of their bodies"; and
interrogators set guard dogs onto naked, bound prisoners. Prisoners were
routinely humiliated, deprived of sleep, forced to stay in painful positions
for long periods, subjected to interminable sessions of loud music, and
more. Death certificates routinely stated that prisoners had died "during
sleep" or from "natural causes." No investigations by Iraqi doctors were
Although authorization for such tactics was apparently given down the chain
of command, through Major Gen. Geoffrey Miller, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez,
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Vice President Dick Cheney, only
low-level military personnel are charged and tried for their part in the
torture, while no higher level military or civilian official is ever
charged. In fact, several officers implicated are subsequently promoted.
In a later interview with Mr. Bush, Adam Bolton of Britain's Sky News says
that there are those who would say that the scandals of Guantanamo Bay, Abu
Ghraib, and rendition are "the complete opposite of freedom."
"Of course," snaps Mr. Bush, "if you want to slander America."
August 5, 2004 ~ In a moment of unintended truth, Mr. Bush declares, "Our
enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop
thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do
August, 2005 ~ Hurricane Katrina devastates Louisiana and Mississippi.
After a FEMA staffer on the scene writes Michael Brown, FEMA's director,
that the situation is "past critical," with food and water supplies running
out at the Superdome and many people near death, Brown responds, "Thanks for
the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?" The death toll from
the storm eventually reaches more than twelve hundred. The president
congratulates Brown with the words "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
October 3, 2005 ~ Mr. Bush nominates his personal lawyer, Harriet Miers, to
replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. In the stories that
follow, Ms. Miers is widely quoted as saying that Mr. Bush is "the smartest
man I've ever met." There is stunned silence, and then a firestorm of
opposition breaks out among hundreds of men she has met, as well as some she
hasn't, questioning her experience and judgment. Her nomination is
March 9, 2006 ~ Mr. Bush signs the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act,
which contains oversight provisions designed to make sure that the FBI does
not abuse the unconstitutional powers the Act authorizes. The safeguards
require that the Justice Department monitor how often the powers are used
and in what kinds of situations, and periodically report that information to
Following the hoopla of the signing, Mr. Bush quietly issues a "signing
statement" in which he says that he has the power to withhold from Congress
the information required by the Act, if he decides that disclosing the
information would "impair foreign relations, national security, the
deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's
constitutional duties." His statement goes on to say, "The executive
branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing
information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner
consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the
unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . ."
Thus endeth the Constitution's careful balance of powers.
March 31, 2006 ~ In response to a question at a White House press
conference, Mr. Bush tells reporters, "When [Saddam] chose to deny
inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision
to make to remove him." This is the third occasion on which Mr. Bush has
blamed Saddam for causing the war by refusing to allow weapons inspectors
into Iraq. No one seems able to explain where Mr. Bush's attention was
focused when weapons inspectors, led by the UN's Hans Blix, ran back and
forth across Iraq for four months, with daily coverage by world media,
trying to find weapons that didn't exist. The inspectors were eventually
forced to leave Iraq only because the U.S. told them to get out before we
began to bomb the country. An official transcript of the press conference
notes "laughter" following Mr. Bush's statement.
January 14, 2007 ~ In a "60 Minutes" interview, Mr. Bush is asked if he owes
the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job. "Not at all," he
responds. "I think I am proud of the efforts we did. [Sic] We liberated
that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people
a huge debt of gratitude. That's the problem here in America. They wonder
whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in
How to account for those ungrateful Iraqis? One factor may be the more than
four million Iraqis who have been displaced, two million of whom have fled
the country. Another may be the high death rate. A study by the Lancet,
based on a survey of Iraqi households--92% of whom produced death
certificates to verify their account-- calculated that 654,965 excess deaths
in Iraq were attributable to the invasion through June, 2006. (This includes
not just casualties from military operations, but those due to a breakdown
of law enforcement, near collapse of the health care system, increased child
mortality, etc.) Shootings, kidnappings, suicide bombings, explosions of
IEDs, and mortar and rocket attacks remain constant threats. Baghdad has
electricity only eight hours a day. Only a third of Iraqi children have
safe drinking water. More than 80% of Iraq's sewage is now dumped totally
untreated into rivers and waterways. Etc., etc.
Don't worry; be grateful. Don't worry; be grateful. Where is Bobby
McFerrin when Mr. Bush needs him?
September 24, 2008 ~ Having ushered the American economy to the brink of a
financial meltdown which may rival the Great Depression, Mr. Bush declares
on national television, "I know many Americans have questions tonight. How
did we reach this point in our economy? How will the solution I propose
work? And what does this mean for your financial future?" "These are good
questions," he continues, "and they deserve clear answers." They do indeed,
but, for obvious reasons, Mr. Bush fails to supply them.
© Tony Russell, 2008