“A Plea for Captain John Brown,” Thoreau speech, 1859
It’s legacy time for a president in his final five months in office. For President Bush, that legacy is all bad.
He is the worst president the nation has ever suffered. America under Bush is the No. 1 rogue regime in the world, hated by most people abroad. He is a warmonger and a war criminal at the apex of U.S. global hegemony.
He has turned the “land of the free” into a quasi-police state, the so-called war on terror warring on the American people and their Constitution.
Bush has transformed the nation into a perpetual War Machine, the New Rome with bases all over the planet. The Pentagon, misnamed the Defense Department, has an annual budget of $1 trillion.
Iraq is the pivot of that military empire. It is draining America physically, financially and morally — delighting Osama bin Laden. The United States has built more than 100 mega-bases in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan is another Bush calamity.
Generals parade like wooden soldiers before Congress, spouting the “national interest” line for staying in Iraq. The propaganda does nothing for the shattered credibility of Bush.
Bush has approved torture, enraging the world and embarrassing America. He uses the typical administration euphemism, “enhanced interrogation techniques.” But torture, is torture, is torture.
Justice Brandeis, dissenting in the 1928 case of Olmstead, noted: “Our government is the potent and omnipotent teacher … it teaches the whole people by its example.”
The Bush example is catastrophic.
U.S. atrocities at interrogation centers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba would make a Third World dictator blush.
Bush ignores federal law and international treaties. The United States is AWOL when 111 nations ban cluster bombs. A federal district judge recently blew the whistle on an underhanded atttempt by the Bushites to impose an onerous Medicaid regulation.
As the New York Times editorialized: “The administration has been caught in a flagrant attempt to ignore the will of Congress and unilaterally chart its own path.”
The outrages of the Bush administration have occurred almost weekly. Right-wing politics triumphs over science. The so-called Justice Department is rampant with politics rather than nonpartisan justice.
Key positions in government in the agencies are filled by hacks who do Bush’s bidding. Cronyism and incompetence reign. It is ward-heeler government.
Bush is a quintessential environmental outlaw, mandating the trashing of the nation’s glorious heritage. Mountain tops are stripped bare for coal, the debris falling below and causing health problems. It is OK to explore for uranium just outside the Grand Canyon, one of the great natural wonders of the world. And, yes, snowmobiling in the temple of Yellowstone is all right.
The administration sneakily defies a federal court order as it implements new rules permitting logging in national forests. Its EPA vetoes California’s efforts to reduce tailpipe emissions. Bush stops the EPA from lowering ozone limits. His NASA public relations flacks distort accounts of research on global warming.
The secrecry by the Bush administration has been unparalled, seeking to avoid any scrutiny of its misdeeds. It fosters what former White House press secretary Scott McClellan calls the culture of deception. No photos are permitted of coffins shipped from Iraq.
Habeas corpus, that sacred writ, is ignored by Bush.
He ostentatiously gives up golf while U.S soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he opposes a new GI Bill of Rights, declaring fatuously that it is too expensive and discourages reenlistment.
The compassionate conservatism that Bush promised is an oxymoron, exemplified by the phony war on drugs that targets patients prescribed marijuana by their doctors.
Bush absurdly accuses Barack Obama of appeasement for suggesting diplomatic talks with nations he perceives as evil. Bush refuses to admit the truth of Muslim hatred: occupation of Islamic lands and theft of Arabic oil.
He socializes losses to boost laissez-faire capitalism. He scorns labor. The enforcement of wage-and-hour laws has dropped drastically in the GOP regime. His Labor Department is so anti-labor that it has become the Department of Business.
Bush insists on permanent tax cuts for the wealthy and elimination of capital gains and inheritance taxes.
His whole presidency belies his purported Christianity.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.