The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Tag: George W Bush

George Bush Is Responsible for Innumerable Murders and Rapes

The rehabilitation of George W. Bush because he says some bad things about Trump needs to stop.

Not only was Bush responsible for Iraq, he is responsible for everything that happened during it, and everything that comes from it. That includes ISIS, which absent the Iraq invasion, DOES NOT HAPPEN.

Every rape, every murder, every torture is George W. Bush’s responsibility.

His crime.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who does not understand this is entirely part of the problem.

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What 9/11 Did to America and the World

I wasn’t going to write much more about 9/11, but then Obama wrote that no act of terror could ever change America.

I don’t know if that’s true. If it is, it means America was already a terrible, terrible place.

The funny thing about 9/11 is that it worked. Bin Laden had a plan, his plan was to draw Americans in and show they could be beaten.

He thought they’d be beaten in Afghanistan. They weren’t–they were beaten in Iraq. When the US left Iraq it had to pay the various militias off to avoid attack.

That’s losing.

Meanwhile there are al-Qaeda affiliates over much of Asia and Africa. Al-Qaeda central may be weaker, but al-Qaeda the idea is far far stronger than it was before 9/11.

Saddam was a secular Muslim. He was one of bin Laden’s enemies, and the US destroyed him.

Meanwhile, at home, the US destroyed its own freedoms. It tortured people.

The US also instigated a worldwide assassination program, killing whoever it wanted, wherever it wanted, on the authority of the President.

The US has always been pretty shitty when dealing with others: supporting coups versus democratic governments, sponsoring death squads, looking the other way when its pet governments and terrorists raped, tortured, and murdered. (Pinochet had dogs trained to rape women; he was very approved of by Washington.)

Bill Clinton, of course, had killed about half a million Iraq children with his sanctions, and Madeleine Albright, a truly evil woman who is burning in Hell today if there is one (I doubt it) stated she thought it was “worth it.”

But after 9/11, the US went even further. Torture, from the top, by its own soldiers, as opposed to merely winked at. Widespread assassination. The gutting of habeas corpus. Probably a million more dead Iraqis. Later, under Obama, the destruction of Libya, another war crime. (He should hang, as Nazis hung, along with Blair, Cameron and Bush. Most Nazis were hung not for the Holocaust but for attacking a country which had not attacked them.)

American crimes, of course, are endless. All empires’ crimes are endless, and so are all colonial states’ crimes. This is true of both America and Canada, as they moved West, and it is true today of Israel.

Still, something important changed after 9/11. Lines were crossed.

Americans who are okay with all the crimes should be aghast as well, not that lines were crossed (they have no lines) but that they were crossed so incompetently. The US got its ass kicked by a bunch of rag tag militias. The myth of US military supremacy lay shattered. The US can still bomb anyone into dust, but everyone now knows that its military can do nothing but destroy.

Bin Laden was the first great man of the 21st century. Great is not a synonym for good. From a position of infinite weakness, he made his enemy use its own strength to accomplish his goals.

The US proved itself not just evil (don’t even, there are too many dead), but stunningly incompetent and crippled by corruption.

And today, Democrats are rehabilitating George Bush, the war criminal, to attack Trump.

Trump may yet do far worse than Bush, but until he’s started a major war, he hasn’t, and even if he does, Bush was–and is–evil and should be in a war crimes dock, along with most other major American politicians of the time, almost all of whom voted to give Bush the vast powers he used exactly as any fool could have predicted he would.

9/11 either changed the US, or revealed the US. Either way, the US after 9/11 was ghastly and evil.

And in 2004, knowing all the evil Bush had done, Americans re-elected him, thus showing that enough of them approved of what he had done. Cavil all you want about vote suppression and so on, it is not as if there was a huge tide of Americans who said “not in my name.”

This is still George Bush’s America, and his America is bin Laden’s America. Bin Laden was right about the US. He knew exactly what the US was, knew how to push its buttons and America did what bin Laden wanted to.

Bin Laden was a profoundly evil man, and he recognized the US’s profound evil and used that evil to his benefit.

Understand clearly, there were choices: Iraq did not have to be invaded; Afghanistan did not have to be occupied (a punitive expedition would have been sufficient); the Patriot Act did not have to be passed; torture in Guantanamo did not have to occur; routine drone assassination was not necessary.

All of these were affirmative choices, and virtually all of them were reconfirmed in 2004, then in 2008, because Obama continued almost everything Bush did, and even ramped some of it up, like drone assassination and deportations.

Bin Laden won because he was right that the US was evil, or perhaps, that with a push, it was willing to be even more evil.

Hell of a thing.

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Rule of Men, Not Law

Amidst all the screaming about Trump, there is a feeling that he is being unfair by singling out various companies for attack.

This is true.

It is also special pleading.

What Trump is doing, and what he will almost certainly do when he is in office, is pick out specific groups and individuals, and he will very likely use the weight of the state against them.

Oh dear. Oh dear.

This is rule by men, yes. It has also been going on for years. Anti-war protestors and environmentalists have been singled out for special attention on the positive side of the scale.

Meanwhile, on the negative end of the stick, let us compare two financial crises. In the eighties, there was a financial crisis too, filled with tons of fraud, called the Savings and Loan crisis. It happened under a Republican president.

Executives were charged, and they went to jail.

In 2007-2008, we had a financial crisis, and from 2009 on, Obama’s DOJ applied fines, not criminal charges. Those fines immunized the participants, and since they did not take money from those who had benefited (and were often less than the profits taken by the corporation, even) they did not dis-incentivize criminal acts. Instead, the DOJ said: “There is no real penalty, so make the money when you can, and we’ll immunize you for a token fee.”

There is no question in any reasonable person’s mind that many executives had engaged in fraud, negligence, and criminal conspiracy which could have been indicted under RICO.

But hey, they were let off. Meanwhile, people who applied for mortgage relief were deliberately given the run-around and fucked over, losing their houses (see David Dayen’s “Chain of Title” if you need the blow-by-blow.)  Robo-signing by financial institutions, post-financial crisis, was also mass fraud, attesting to facts the signers had no knowledge of.

America is already a nation of men, not laws. One can say, “It has always been thus,” and there is some truth to that, but it is more a lie than true: see the S&L crisis.

People have already been getting away with lawbreaking–depending on who they are–and not small numbers of people. And if you don’t think various firms haven’t been picked out for special, positive favors, you simply haven’t been paying attention.

2000’s Gore vs. Bush ruling was “men over laws.” It was such a bad ruling that the Supreme Court tried to say it couldn’t be used as a precedent. Meanwhile, the protections of law in general were gutted: the Patriot Act, the AUMF, the rise of the vast surveillance state with its clear industrial-scale violations of the Fourth Amendment. Most Americans live in a border zone, where they don’t have freedom from arbitrary search and seizure. As for the First Amendment, the existence of “First Amendment Zones” tells you all you need to know.

Trump’s behaviour is and will be the direct consequence of how many previous Presidents acted, including Obama (who notably killed an American citizen without any trial and claimed the right to do so).

To cry now, and especially to weep for large corporations who are bad actors, is hilariously hypocritical and intensely revealing. “Trump blackmailed them into keeping a few jobs in America, that tyrant!”

Oh, My, God, the funny. Now yes, Trump has also called out people for terrible reasons. Oh well. Yes, that’s a new bad thing (though not worse than killing a US citizen without trial, the right to face his accusers, or see the evidence presented against him), but I just find it hard to get very worked up over.

You already lost your rule of law. There are a few places one can date the loss to, but I put it in Obama’s mass-immunization of financial executives. You could argue for Bush vs. Gore or a number of other places.

But wherever you put it, it already happened.

You have the rule of men. For certain people, the law is interpreted and enforced differently.

This, folks, was at the heart of Trump’s attacks on Clinton for e-mail, which liberals laughed off.  But we all know that if some peon had done the exact same thing, they would have been ruined and probably gone to jail.

You already lost rule of laws, and had rule of men.

You have already paid a frightful price for this. The reason your economy is so bad is because bankers were immunized and bailed out, staying in charge of your economy when they are incompetent crooks and ordinary people were not bailed out.

Not coincidentally, minus not bailing out ordinary people, Trump does not win election in 2016.  (He also wouldn’t have won if Obamacare was not so flawed, but that’s another post.)

Trump is just the continued price for breaking your own laws and constitution, and your own unwritten norms.

As such he falls under “as you sow, so shall you reap”.

Until large numbers of Americans see it this way, including at least some faction of elites or would-be-elites, there can be no true fix for this situation, whatever happens with Trump.

Trump is the symptom, not the disease, and until you treat the disease, things like Trump (or the financial crisis and the lack of real recovery from that crisis) will continue to happen, and fools will continue to be bewildered by them, as if the very public actions of the people they elected had not led to them.

Machiavelli wrote, and America’s founders agreed, that good men could make bad laws work, and that good laws could not save bad men.

The founders’ equivalent was that eventually Americans would become so degraded that they could only be ruled by despots.

Americans have given many signs of being this degraded, and now it’s up to Americans to prove that they aren’t.

Don’t dare to say this is all on “deplorables” or Republicans, because Democrats have not just been complicit in all of this, they have spurred it on in deliberate ways–as with Obama on surveillance, drone murder, and whistleblowers.

It is on Americans.

Americans are reaping as they have sown. That all Americans are not bad or degraded is not the point. Enough of you are, and your elites are corrupt as a class, so much so that I would easily expect, in nine or ten years, to be fundamentally unethical and unsuited to public life. That includes, by the way, Bill Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Trump is what Americans have earned.

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Reagan and George W. Bush Changed the World More than Bill Clinton or Obama

We have a problem.

Left wingers and centrist, technocratic types are enamoured of intelligence. Of being smart.

Smart is all very nice. I am smart. But smart is not a synonym for effective or competent or wise or, well, most other words. It isn’t even a synonym for clever.

George W. Bush, by the time he got to the White House, was not smart. You listen to him talk, and it’s obvious. This is not a smart man (he was smart when he was younger–something went wrong).

George W. Bush had his two terms, and he changed the nature of American government in ways that neither Clinton nor Obama did. Bill Clinton ran Reagan’s economy better. Reagan was not smart. Reagan changed the nature of American government more than any President since FDR.

Bill Clinton was Reagan’s butt-boy. Understand that. Internalize it. He ran the neo-liberal economy that Reagan had created, and yes, he ran it better than Reagan, but he was living in Reagan’s world.

Obama ran Bush’s government. He kept deporting people–he deported even more people than Bush did. He ramped up drones. He kept troops in Afghanistan, he attacked Libya, he kept extending the Patriot Act and AUMF. He was operating within a constitutional order set up by Bush, and he never challenged it. Not once.

Obama was Bush’s butt-boy. Understand that. Internalize it.

It was famously said of FDR that he had a second class mind and a first class temperament. FDR created a framework for the US that ran, substantially from 1932 to 1970 or even 1980. Even Nixon, who overturned the post WWII order, didn’t overturn the New Deal. Heck, Nixon wanted universal health care.

Every Republican President after FDR and before Reagan, was FDR’s butt-boy. They ran the country he set up and they did it largely by his rules.

FDR wasn’t stupid, by any means, but he wasn’t as smart as Clinton. He might not even have been as smart as Obama. But he was far, far more effective. He got his way, he changed the nature of America, and he made it stick with his enemies.

Smart is NOT a synonym for effective.

This is very important to understand when dealing with someone like Trump.

I’m going to pound this issue a bit more, in a bit more detail, but for now: Stop underestimating people because they don’t have the sort of smarts you were taught in school matter, and which mostly matter because school selects for them. If you don’t, people like Trump and Bush will keep winning.

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