The Bush’s, Conservatism and Historical Revisionism

U.S.M. steam ship Baltic.

U.S.M. steam ship Baltic. The Baltic was a U.S. mail ship. This print was done c1852 by N. Currier.

George W. Bush’s brother Jeb, former governor of Florida has some good poll numbers. Not long ago the Bush name was synonymous with epic failure. We’re a sentimental country that is also hammered everyday about how great and perfect conservatism is. So it was to be expected to some degree that Bush 43 numbers would go up. Those inexorably connected with Jeb’s suddenly looking like a contender for prez in 2016. Yes Jeb has said in the past there is no way he’ll run, but when someone with a Bush-sized ego thinks he can win and his millionaire friends are ready to back him, the infamous Bush ego wins out over any reticence. At that same link, Steve notes the reaction of the WaPo,

 But on fiscal issues, Bush draws criticism from both left and right. Tea party Republicans regard him as a reckless spender.

Even though the same poll shows ex-president Bush with a 93% approval rating among conservatives. The WaPo seems to think there is some movement out there called the Tea Party that is not joined at the hip and knee with the radical conservative movement. This tendency by the WaPo not to get it’s political reality straight and the conservative movement not to acknowledge and take responsibility for it’s disastrous failures is both funny and dangerous. This reinvention of the Bush 43 legacy is not a new tendency among conservatives. From Sarah Palin’s mangling of Paul Revere’s famous ride to Jonah Goldberg’s grandiose rewriting of the fascist movement, communism, conservatism and liberalism, butchering history is a large part of what drives conservatism. Conservatives suffer from the blow-back of their own drivel. By tuning into far Right radio, watching Fox News, subscribing to wacky Glenn beck newsletters – they constantly assure themselves they have done nothing wrong, while simultaneously selling the latest conspiracy theory about the United nation and American sovereignty. So telling themselves that Bush 43 did not lie and manipulate over 4000 Americans to their deaths and crashing the economy, is small potatoes for people who are emotionally, politically and physiologically trained to not accept responsibility for the malevolent crap they do to America. Meet the revisionist George W. Bush — pretty much the same as the old George W. Bush

“As time goes by Bush will benefit from the comparison with Obama,” Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford’s Hoover Institution predicted. “If Obama had been a Bill Clinton-like figure he would have made Bush look like the caricature his opponents have suggested. But Obama has been a great gift for Bush – he’s as polarizing a figure as Bush was.”

Hanson is the Nurse Ratchet of historians. The dreary soft monotone of quiet insanity.

Third, the performance of Bush’s economic team in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis probably deserves more credit than it gets. Despite being a wildly unpopular lame-duck president, Bush still was able to implement a series of international moves (convening the G-20 rather than the G-8) and domestic moves (TARP, the auto bailout) that prevented the crisis from metastasizing into another Great Depression.

All that said, however, there are some cold hard facts that cannot be erased. George W. Bush helmed a war of choice that proved, in the end, to impose powerful constraints (though perhaps not system-changing) for American foreign policy. He pursued his foreign policy aims in such a way as to dramatically lower U.S. standing abroad. He was at the helm when all of the pressures that triggered the 2008 financial crisis were building up and did next to nothing to stop them. And five years later, the GOP is still wrestling with the negative aspects of his political legacy.

I’ve already mentioned two of the worse legacies of Bush and the conservative movement ( you grandchildren will be paying for Iraq and the Great Recession. A few other highlights: Halliburton corruption (no bid contracts, lost billions in government funds), the  Abu Ghraib Prison Torture that cost American lives, 9/11 Intelligence Failures ( Bush infamous failure to act on a Presidential Daily Brief that said Bin Laden likely to attack),  HHS Deceptive Ad Campaign, exposing the name of a CIA NOC agent who was also an expert on Iraq WMD, the Justice Department scandals, and the Bush administration again endangering the troops and the civilian Iraqis they said they were there to save by appointing Republican cronies to rebuild Iraq. Can the conservative movement whitewash these, and dozens of other egregious acts of criminal malevolence and negligence. As Palin would say, you betcha. It is what they do.

Some other news: 20 Forgotten George W. Bush – Dick Cheney Scandals

You probably know that the campaign to rehabilitate the image of the 43d president of the United States has been launched with the opening of his presidential library.

How Conservative Media Reacted To Senate Republicans Blocking Modest New Gun Safety Laws

How Greed Is Dismembering America

The plastic patriot Konservative Koch Brothers’ Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat, the best govmint billionaires can buy.

Mountain Morning Light wallpaper – The Flat Tax Lead Bandwagon and Other News

American landscapes, green, nature

Mountain Morning Light wallpaper

The conservative winds are changing regardless of what the latest straw polls show. Herman Cain has made one too many missteps and the conservative establishment has declared his campaign is just about over. This op-ed is from the web equivalent of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, The Daily Caller –  Cain: Rove attacks me to help Romney

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO says former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove is attacking him in an effort to help former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Washington Examiner reports.

Cain’s comments came after Rove, considered the principal architect of President George W. Bush’s political career, mapped out a list of recent Cain “gaffes” on a whiteboard during a Fox News Channel appearance Monday morning. “The whole effect of this is to not create an image, I think, of him being a flip-flopper,” said Rove. “I think it’s to create an image of being not up to the task.”

“It’s a good thing the voters are not looking at Karl Rove’s little whiteboard,” Cain told the Examiner’s Byron York Monday afternoon. “I believe it is a deliberate attempt to damage me because I am not — quote, unquote — the establishment choice. But why not go with the choice that the people seem to like?”

Rove and Fox may not be crazy about Romney, but make no mistake this is a shot to the heart of Cain’s momentum. Cain’s much inflated persona as the outsider wears a bit thin when you consider that most of his campaign organization is the Koch brothers. The Right has taken to describing the Koches as liberal’s boogeyman. They are not invisible and they do not hide under beds, the millions of dollars they spend through the Cato Institute, FreedonWorks and American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) the Koches are a major force in the Anti-American conservative movement. They were and are major players in dismantling unions and workers rights. Forget about this meme that conservative voters are anti-establishment. That is the same old window dressing they used at the height of the tea nuts movement to shift blame for the economy and bungled foreign policy away from “true” conservationism. This analysis is spot on. If either one of the Koches started a run for president tomorrow it would shake up the race considerably.

Aging culture warriors on the Right love Rick Perry. He thinks all the batsh*t insane stuff Michelle Bachmann thinks, except he’s male. Perry has now jumped on the flat tax bandwagon. It hardly matters to the average conservative whether it is Cain or Perry’s flat tax, they will lower the taxes for millionaires and corporations and rise taxes on those with average incomes and below. Flat tax fits on a bumper sticker. Conservative pols have always preferred simple over smart or fair. Thinking hurts their pointed heads. For GOP Presidential Field, It’s Survival of the Flattest

As Steve Forbes learned in 1996 and 2000 and Herman Cain is learning now, the flat tax is a bad idea whose time never came. After all, the move to a single income tax rate for all earners inevitably shifts the tax burden from the rich to middle and lower income Americans. And if the rate is too low, the result is a hemorrhage of red ink from the U.S Treasury that quickly becomes an ocean of debt.

Nevertheless, in one form or another, the top tier of the 2012 GOP presidential stands poised to embrace this latest wildly regressive Republican windfall for the wealthy. Hoping to benefit from the hype surrounding Cain’s simple 9-9-9 plan, Texas Governor Rick Perry with Steve Forbes’ endorsement will announce his own flat tax proposal on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the resurrected Newt Gingrich has exhumed his own scheme in the guise of an “optional” 15 percent flat tax rate. And to confirm the growing flat tax popularity among his party’s primary voters, frontrunner Mitt Romney in typical fashion may be on the verge of reversing course.

If conservatives want to be the party of the perennially wacky Forbes let’s not try to discourage them. Forbes went down in flames. Perry and Cain will do likewise. Your conservative family making $40k a year and now pays no federal income taxes has no desire to start paying a minimum tax of Cain’s 9% or Perry’s 20%( as reported by the WSJ). Romney has not specified his flat tax rate yet and as the weeks progress and the feedback starts coming in I suspect it will be one of those flip-flop-flips which he backs off. Rick Perry: Standing Tall for the 1%

He’d allow multinationals to return the trillion dollars in profits that they have closeted abroad at a 5% tax rate, a truly shameless corporate giveaway. He’d lower corporate taxes to 20% immediately, while “phasing out” corporate loopholes – good luck with that.

Then he would blow a hole in Social Security, providing young workers with a choice for private accounts. Since under the current plan, young workers pay for the benefits their parents’ generation receives, this would starve Social Security of significant income just when the boomers are retiring. He does not say how he would replace what is likely to be a trillion dollar shortfall over the next thirty years.

But it will have to be by cutting benefits since he would put a lid on federal spending at 18% GDP (We currently spend about 24%, and it is impossible to imagine an effective government sustaining Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and bare bone essential services at less than 20%).

During the best of the Bush and total control of the federal government by conservatives spending was 20% of GDP. That is without a recession and spending with no compensating cuts ( its the the glorious borrow and spend years). We have trillions to pay in health are for vets of the two wars conservatives bungled. More of the baby boomers will be retiring. We still need infrastructure spending. A Rick Perry presidency looks as bleak as the landscape in The Book of Eli with no green zone left at the end to save us.

An unfortunate trend is to have a reflexive reaction to anything Obama proposes as dead on arrival. It might be cool in some circles, but not very productive – HARP II, Either A Huge Deal Or Not

The FHFA itself is actually not making any particularly grand claims on behalf of this initiative, and other people I’ve heard from in the government are likewise being very restrained and not promising any gigantic macroeconomic benefits.

Sarah Rosen Wartell, who leads the housing work at CAP, put out a statement observing that “some important details are still to come that will determine how much progress will be achieved.” Joe Gagnon goes really big, and says that if this is designed right we could get three to four million jobs out of it which obviously would be a huge effect. By contrast, Felix Salmon says he thinks this will do almost nothing. Personally, I have no idea who’s right about this. It can’t hurt to try, right?

If we split the difference between Joe and Felix that would mean 2 million jobs and quite a few people staying in their homes.

War By Other Means – Why it’s safe to ignore Republican criticism of Obama’s policy in Iraq.

This is getting all too predictable. President Obama announced that all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year, in compliance not only with his election pledge but also with the terms of a U.S.-Iraq treaty. In response, the Republicans moaned and hollered that Obama is playing politics with national security, or that he could have negotiated a better outcome, or that he’s surrendering to Iranian domination.

It’s a safe bet that, had Obama announced he was keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq for the indefinite future, most of the same Republicans would have moaned and hollered that he was breaking a promise to the American people, draining the Treasury, and boosting the chance of a terrorist attack by Muslims angered at our continued occupation.
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More than this, their complaints are unfounded, based on either ignorance or deliberate distortion.

First, it is crucial to note that this withdrawal and its timetable were set in a treaty called the Status of Forces Agreement, signed Nov. 17, 2008, not by Obama (who wasn’t president yet) but rather by George W. Bush. SOFAs, as they’re often abbreviated, are treaties—bearing the force of national and international law—that presidents sign with each country that hosts U.S. armed forces. They set the terms and conditions under which those forces can stay.

The SOFA with Iraq states, in Article 24: “All U.S. forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, waters, and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011.” That’s as definitive as these things get.

Article 30 does allow for amendments to the treaty, but only in the event of the “formal written approval of both parties and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in both countries.” For the past few months, U.S. officials (including some former Bush officials called back to join the delegation) have tested the waters to see if Iraqi lawmakers would allow—or, more to the point, wanted—an amendment that would permit some of the current 40,000 American troops to stay on. Their conclusion: The Iraqis had no such desire, and not much need.

There is the argument violence will increase on US withdrawal. We’ve been withdrawing troops over the past two years and while there was an uptick for a while violence is down. fewer Iraqis and fewer US military are dying. We’ll still have 40,000 troops on the Kuwaiti border and a Naval carrier group off the coast. Iran talks a lot of smack but they have no desire to have their clock cleaned by US air and naval power.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and some others have suggested that the sticking point was over a clause giving U.S. troops immunity from Iraqi prosecution for alleged crimes. This is a standard feature of such treaties, including of the earlier arrangement with Iraq. It’s true that the Iraqis refused to grant the immunity. But there was no leeway to negotiate an exemption, because the main sticking point was, and is, that the Iraqis simply do not want American troops in their country anymore. One U.S. official in Iraq said in a phone interview, “Even our erstwhile friends [among Iraqi politicians] want us out by the end of the year. None of them lifted a finger to keep us.”

Do Obama’s Republican critics, who have made such a big deal of Iraq’s bourgeoning democracy, really think Obama should (or could) have disregarded the democratically elected parliament of a sovereign nation—a sovereign ally, at that—in order to keep U.S. troops on that nation’s soil, allegedly for its own interest (as defined by us, not by them)? We would then become nothing but an occupying power, sure to trigger an escalation of armed resistance and appear hypocritical in the extreme.