Dismembering George W. Bush

As the administration of George W. Bush at long last comes to a close, the historical record of his presidency will begin to take shape. And like everything else that touches this president, the outlines of his legacy will be distorted by his accomplices and apologists. They will seek to recast in the public mind an accounting that bears little resemblance to reality. It will not be a remembering of the Bush era, but a dismembering, a mutilation of facts and consequences.

In pursuit of that goal, a coven of Bush minions has already convened to forge a counterfeit version of recent events. This faction of falsifiers includes the most notorious of Bush’s inner circle. Amongst the notables who have converged to sanitize and canonize the outgoing misleader are:

  • Karl Rove – Also known as the Architect or Bush’s Brain. Rove was the source of some of the most insidious propaganda emanating from the Bush White House.
  • Margaret Spellings – A Bush crony from the Texas clan. As Secretary of Education, with no experience in teaching or administration, she presided over millions of children being left behind.
  • Mark McKinnon – The Bush media advisor who received a recess appoint to the Broadcasting Board of Governors. His role as an advocate of fake news reports makes him an obvious choice to help fictionalize the Bush years.
  • Karen Hughes – A long-time PR flack for Bush whose work with the White House Iraq Group was instrumental in developing the lies used to sell war to the American people.
  • Alberto Gonzales – The Former Attorney General. A natural choice for historical recollections when, during testimony before Congress, he couldn’t seem to recall anything about his own tenure at the Justice Department.

The determination of this group to whitewash Bush’s reign of error will no doubt be intense. But so will be the level of difficulty. Bush is skipping out of Washington with the lowest approval rating of any president for as long as such ratings have been measured. Even worse, with regard to forming a legacy, is that majorities of historians rank Bush as the “worst president ever,” an awesome achievement considering competition from the likes of James Buchanon, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon. The comments of one historian in the survey summarize the situation nicely:

“No individual president can compare to the second Bush. Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.”

It will be interesting to see how the defenders of the Bush legacy respond to that. Karl Rove has already provided a preview of how the history manglers are going to proceed. And he is not shy about disseminating nonsense. He asserts that no one will regard the decision to take out Saddam Hussein as a mistake or that the broader war on terrorism was a miscalculation. Rove may have a point there, except for the fact that most Americans already regard the Iraq war as a mistake, and the broader war on terrorism has been miserably miscalculated, as evidenced by the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the recent bombings in Mumbai. However, some of what Rove says is disturbingly plausible:

“No administration in the foreseeable future is going to go in and say, ‘You know what, we’re repealing the Patriot Act. You know what, we’re throwing out that terrorist surveillance program.'”

If Rove is right about this, than the American experiment was a failure. This is why it is imperative for Bush to be reprimanded by the law for his transgressions against the American people, the Constitution, and the world. If the Obama administration fails to undo these legislative and executive atrocities, then an abhorrent precedent will be set for decades to come. Americans may forever lose the freedoms for which Bush says the terrorists hate us. Maybe that’s his secret plan. If terrorists truly do hate us for our freedoms, then if you take them away the terrorists will no longer hate us – or hurt us. Safe at last. But Rove isn’t through prognasticating:

“We are better off for having woken up to the fact that we were in a war, and, mark my words, no president in the foreseeable future is going to step back from the tenets of the Bush philosophy, which are: better to fight them over there than to fight them here, and we will not wait until dangers fully materialize before we strike.”

The tenets of the Bush philosophy are nothing less than the grotesque advocacy of superiority and aggression. The phrase “fight them over there” is an overt declaration that non-American lives have less value and are expendable in the war on terror. Rove is making the argument that, while it is Americans who are fighting terrorists, it is everyone else who should suffer the consequences. And Bush’s doctrine of preventative war is not a policy of striking before “dangers fully materialize.” It is a policy of striking whether or not danger even exists. It is a policy of striking at shadows and illusions, except with real victims. Rove seems to have forgotten that no WMDs were ever found in Iraq. It’s too bad that thousands of Americans and more than a million Iraqis had to die in the interim. More likely, however, Bush’s philosophy is just a policy of manufacturing false justifications for attacking economic and ideological adversaries.

In the passage of time it is going to be important to preserve honest representations of the past. We must foil the legacy perverters in their attempts to fictionalize history. This means vigilance over the sort of odious assemblies described above, as well as over the media that has already been infiltrated by these and other revisionist historians.

If we are not vigilant, our legacy will be that we misunderestimated their strategery and we will forever dismember what actually happened in the dark days of Bush. And thus we will be condemned to repeat it.

Bush Nominates Clifford May To Propaganda Board

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is the federal agency responsible for all U.S. government and government sponsored, non-military, international broadcasting. Its affiliates include the Voice of America, Alhurra, Radio Free Europe, and Radio and TV Martí. If its mission was not originally intended to be a purveyor of propaganda, the Bush administration has seen to it that that is what it has become.

Now President Bush has made his latest attempt to further mire the agency in disgrace by nominating Clifford May to the Board. May is a former Republican National Committee communications director and the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, whose list of directors and advisors reads like a who’s who of neocon warmongers. He is an advocate of torture abroad, the suspension of civil liberties at home, and always the supremacy of America by virtue of its military might. As a writer for the National Review and a frequent guest on television news programs, he has a record of deliberately inflammatory and partisan rhetoric. Here are a few examples:

On coddling terrorists: “[Democrats] demand that foreign terrorists abroad be given the same privacy protections enjoyed by American citizens here at home.”

Actually, Democrats were demanding that Americans be given the privacy protections they are promised by the Constitution.

On the success of the surge
: “…the threat of an Iraqi civil war has diminished and there is no ‘resistance’ movement to speak of.”

Since May made this claim, 236 more American troops died in Iraq, along with 4,591 Iraqis.

On the Left as traitors: “…some of those on the left who would like to see America defeated in Iraq as a demonstration exercise that U.S. power never, never can be used for good.”

Setting aside the repulsive assertion that the Left is rooting for defeat, May erroneously implies that there is some good in BushCo’s occupation of Iraq.

This isn’t the first time Bush has used the BBG for blatantly political purposes. He had previously installed the utterly corrupt Kenneth Tomlinson as chairman. Tomlinson, thankfully, didn’t last long.

The circumstances proximate to May’s nomination further illustrate Bush’s purposeful mission to staff the BBG with faithful cronies. To make way for May, Bush had to withdraw his previous nominee, Mark McKinnon. McKinnon himself is a loyal Republican who worked on both Bush presidential campaigns. He was also a sitting member of the Board, having received a recess appointment from Bush in December of 2006. McKinnon’s fate was sealed, however, when earlier this year he resigned his post as the lead media consultant for John McCain saying…

“I just don’t want to work against an Obama candidacy. [Electing Obama] would send a great message to the country and the world.”

Despite insisting that he remains a “friend and fan” of the McCain campaign, whatever loyalty and qualifications he had that justified his prior service and nomination were null and void as he no longer displayed sufficient unquestioning partisanship. The Bushies require greater obsequiousness than that.

May still needs to be confirmed by the Senate to take a seat on the Board. With less than six months remaining in Bush’s term it would be idiocy for the Senate to do so. That obviously doesn’t rule out the possibility that they will. The FISA bill that the Senate passed last week was fully in line with May’s position on the issue. And it passed with Barack Obama’s vote. That should be an indication of how much we can rely on the Senate to do the right thing.

More Bush Cronies Get Recess Appointments

This president, who has repeatedly demonstrated his disdain for democracy and the rule of law, is again bypassing the senate to install a pair of unqualified and partisan cronies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The BBG is the agency that oversees federal media operations like Radio Free Europe and Voice of America.

On the heels of his re-nomination of the corrupt Kenneth Tomlinson to chair the Board, the president has now used his executive power to plant Warren Bell and Mark McKinnon on these boards while the senate is in recess. Neither of these appointees are suitable for service on the board and both would likely have failed to get confirmed by the senate. Allow me to introduce you to these new board members.

Warren Bell, appointed to the CPB:

As a television producer and writer, he worked on programs like “According to Jim” and “Coach.” He had a reputation as an outspoken and controversial conservative. He has had no experience managing the sort of administrative operation that would be expected of a board member and no experience in public television. What he does have is a record of provocative statements that call into question his temperment and impartiality. Here are some choice excerpts from columns he wrote for the National Review Online…

“I could reach across the aisle and hug Nancy Pelosi, and I would, except this is a new shirt, and that sort of thing leaves a stain.”

“I am thoroughly conservative in ways that strike horror into the hearts of my Hollywood colleagues. I support a woman’s right to choose what movie we should see, but not that other one. I am on the Right in every way.”

Mark McKinnon, appointed to the BBG:

As a consummate Republican insider, McKinnon was the media director for both Bush presidential campaigns. His Maverick Media collected half of the campaign funds paid to the top 50 recipients of Bush/Cheney spending – totaling over $170 million. He is also vice-chairman of Public Strategies, Inc., a Texas-based lobbying and political-image firm. Amongst other things, PSI has lobbied in support of Video News Releases that are distributed to television stations for them to run without identifying the source, which is commonly a government agency or an invested corporation. He also has no professional credentials requisite to the duties he will now assume.

While Bell’s strident partisanship is problematic, McKinnon’s appointment seems even more troubling. His career has been spent almost exclusively on getting Republicans elected to office or winning legislative plums for big business. More recently, McKinnon was hired as chief media advisor for John McCain’s aborning presidential campaign. I have been unable to ascertain if he intends to serve on the board and run McCain’s media at the same time. That would be ethically questionable in my opinion. But that hasn’t stopped them before.

These appointments will not expire until the end of the next congressional session. That’s a lot of time to inflict a lot of damage on our nation’s public media. They will also have additional opportunities to damage our international standing through partisanly manipulated broadcasts by an administration that has virtually demolished our reputation as it is.

I truly hope that I can impress upon you the potential for harm that exists, not merely from these unconscionably inappropriate appointments, but from the president’s willful avoidance of Constitutional process. Any responsible senator ought to be concerned about this usurpation of their jurisdiction. And responsible citizens should be calling their senators now to urge them to be responsible.