Bushville: Tent City
BUSH WATCH...celebrating our 11th year
Bush, Obama, Senate Defeat Constitution In Wiretapping Case (June 4, 2009)
Readers' Poll: Do You Agree With Bush's Explanation Re Regulation? (May 30, 2009) The AP reports that during his recent Michigan speech Bush:
"...talked about the economy, blaming "a lack of responsible regulation" in the lending industry for the recession and said that the Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., or Freddie Mac, shouldn't have engaged in certain financial practices. 'I don't want to sound like a self-serving guy, but we did try to rein them in,' Bush said."
Do you agree that Bush tried to rein in the lending industry's financial practices through responsible regulation? Can you think of an instance that supports your view? Thanks, and respond here.
Groundhog Day: Bush a Tragic Figure, Still Denies His Incompetence (May 29, 2009) BENTON HARBOR/ST. JOSEPH, Michigan – Private citizen George W. Bush poked his head out from his quiet, exclusive Dallas neighborhood last night to give his first major speech since leaving office. Ironically, the place he picked is near [Detroit,] one of the nation’s poorest, most racially divided cities. It also happens to be in one of the reddest, most conservative congressional districts. The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan attracted 2,500 people who greeted the former president with great warmth and excitement. It was obvious that they must be the 30 percent of Americans who have remained loyal to Bush. However, it was evident that one of the lowest-rated presidents of all time is not someone office holders want to be around these days. Republican Representative “Freddie-boy” Upton, Bush’s nickname for him, was not there nor were other local political officials who are customarily introduced at such affairs....
Choosing a vice presidential candidate was Bush’s first big decision, he said, and he looked for someone who could advance his own credibility. Cheney was a “thoughtful guy” who would “do a good job.” Besides, Cheney wasn’t interested in running for president so he wouldn’t distance himself from the president if something went wrong. Such ironic comment was typical throughout the speech and Bush and the audience seemed quite oblivious to it.
In another instance, a woman asked what impact his strong religious beliefs had on his presidency. He replied that “religion and politics are a dangerous mix” and that he “made religion a personal matter” by trying to practice Jesus’ commandment to ‘love thy neighbor.’ ...[Bush] seemed concerned that Americans had somehow taken to negatively stereotyping Muslims in the Middle East. Such comments made it hard to believe that Bush’s perspective and reality could be one and the same thing....
As usual, Bush relied on his words and force of personality to convince people of his best hopes. The former president...received a standing ovation when asked what he wanted his legacy to be. “Well, I hope it is this: The man showed up with a set of principles, and he was unwilling to sacrifice his soul for the sake of popularity.” Little did Americans realize after the 2000 election that this administration would attack American civil liberties and regard the Constitution as just a piece of paper! Of course, September 11 pervaded his speech. Only this time he used it less to strike fear in his listeners but more to solicit pity for himself. “You have to convey a sense of calm,” he said. “If you’re president of the United States, if you overreact, you send shock waves throughout society.”
...So how will the country ultimately judge George W. Bush? Seeing him in action clearly illustrates that he is a tragic figure not because he presided over the worst attack on the United States in history but rather that he thought he could be a competent president. “It was my honor [to serve as president]” he said. “I love America and I wanted to serve in any capacity.” Such statements belie his actions, starting with when he went AWOL from the Texas National Guard.
Bush also illustrated that he is not aware of whom he is: a man who took political advantage of a disaster and then ruined his own presidency. He will forever remain responsible for our fallen and wounded; the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani dead, wounded, and homeless; our shrinking treasury; and our reputation in the world. Bush may have charmed his supporters in the room last night but it is doubtful he will have the same effect on most people. And after witnessing this first major speech, it is obvious that it will be difficult for him to be George W. Bush, probably for the rest of his life. ---Olga Bonfiglio
How Bush Used Pliant Mainstream Media To Push War Lies (May 24, 2009) "George Bush protected my family and REAL American values and that will come out in history, not the baloney hyped by the Obama media machine (NBC to start with)." --Steve Donovan, Mailbag
"No president has done more to turn the media into a propaganda machine than Bush." Jerry Politex, Mailbag
Just two weeks ago, the Obama Pentagon revealed that a major cover-up of corruption had taken place at the Bush Pentagon on Jan. 14 of this year — just six days before Bush left office. This strange incident — reported in The Times but largely ignored by Washington correspondents preparing for their annual dinner — deserves far more attention and follow-up.
What happened on Jan. 14 was the release of a report from the Pentagon’s internal watchdog, the inspector general. It had been ordered up in response to a scandal uncovered last year by David Barstow, an investigative reporter for The Times. Barstow had found that the Bush Pentagon fielded a clandestine network of retired military officers and defense officials to spread administration talking points on television, radio and in print while posing as objective “military analysts.” Many of these propagandists worked for military contractors with billions of dollars of business at stake in Pentagon procurement. Many were recipients of junkets and high-level special briefings unavailable to the legitimate press. Yet the public was never told of these conflicts of interest when these “analysts” appeared on the evening news to provide rosy assessments of what they tended to call “the real situation on the ground in Iraq.”
When Barstow’s story broke, more than 45 members of Congress demanded an inquiry. The Pentagon’s inspector general went to work, and its Jan. 14 report was the result. It found no wrongdoing by the Pentagon. Indeed, when Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize last month, Rumsfeld’s current spokesman cited the inspector general’s “exoneration” to attack the Times articles as fiction.
But the Pentagon took another look at this exoneration, and announced on May 5 that the inspector general’s report, not The Times’s reporting, was fiction. The report, it turns out, was riddled with factual errors and included little actual investigation of Barstow’s charges. The inspector general’s office had barely glanced at the 8,000 pages of e-mail that Barstow had used as evidence, and interviewed only seven of the 70 disputed analysts. In other words, the report was a whitewash. The Obama Pentagon officially rescinded it — an almost unprecedented step — and even removed it from its Web site.
Network news operations ignored the unmasking of this last-minute Bush Pentagon cover-up, as they had the original Barstow articles — surely not because they had been patsies for the Bush P.R. machine. But the story is actually far larger than this one particular incident. If the Pentagon inspector general’s office could whitewash this scandal, what else did it whitewash? ---Frank Rich
How Cheney Runs the New "White House Boy Toy" (May 20, 2009)
Bush Saw Iraq As Holy War, But What About Obama in Afghanistan? (May 19, 2009) The Bush administration was using Bible passages (both Old and New Testaments) on cover sheets of security reports, emblazoned on top of pictures of our armed forces. The implication was clear - this was a religious war, and our troops were fighting for the God of the Bible. GQ has a bunch of these cover sheets, hand delivered by Donald Rumsfeld to the White House. Again and again, security updates were adorned with bible passages.
"Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith (Isaiah 26:2)." "Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His loving kindness, To Deliver their soul from death. (Psalm 33:16-19)." "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13).
Again and again, no one at the White House seemed to object and demand the practice end, as the reports with biblical quotes kept coming and coming. We know that the Bush administration launched the war based on flimsy and false intelligence, and used torture to try to falsely link Iraq to 9/11. But, what we now know is that in the opening days of the war in Iraq, even the flimsy intelligence took a backseat to the idea that this was a Biblical fight between the forces of good (those who worship the God of the Old and New Testaments) against those who worship the God that is chronicled in the Koran....
It doesn't just offend me as a Jew that I was apparently fighting for the New Testament in the eyes of the Bush Administration. And it doesn't just offend me as an American that they thought it proper to engage our troops in what they obviously saw as a religious crusade. As someone who still has friends over in Iraq and Afghanistan, it boils my blood to think that insurgents and terrorists now have something else to show around as "proof" that America is "fighting a war on Islam." Rumsfeld and those at the Pentagon (as well as the White House) had to know that there was a possibility that these would come out, and only exacerbate the religious and cultural misunderstandings about the United States in the region. And yet, they didn't care.
This kind of message from the top trickled down, allowing some troops to feel comfortable in presenting themselves as Holy Warriors, and expressing that in areas where that kind of message hurts more than helps. Earlier this month, it was revealed that some troops were handing out Bibles in Afghanistan, written in Pashto and Dari. A chaplain told some troops that their job was to "hunt people for Jesus."...The long arm of the Bush administration has reached from the past into the present, again. We need to investigate how widespread this notion that we were in a religious war spread, and how far it trickled down. And, most of all, President [Obama] and Secretary of Defense [Gates] must make clear to our forces that it is a false notion, and any actions based on it must stop now. ---Jonn Soltz
Bush/Cheney Shouldn't Speak For GOP, Unless They Want To Confess (May 16, 2009) Cheney isn’t simply going out in a blaze of vainglory. He felt the stiff winds of change and accountability blow across his coffin. It roused and enraged him. Now, he’s on a political suicide mission. And if his own party is collateral damage, so be it. He would rather break it than see it bend anyway. Mission almost accomplished. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last month, Cheney’s positive rating has reached another low: a measly 18 percent.
His incessant ramblings are further weakening an already hobbled party as well. That’s bad for them and the country. We need a strong opposition party to ensure a healthy democracy. And while politics are cyclical, the Republicans are now in danger of flat-lining. One-party rule doesn’t appeal to me. Lord Acton had it right: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Amen.
So, the Republicans need to dump this crotchety recalcitrant and develop a new vision that embraces moderation and inclusiveness, for all our sakes. Look at it this way: Cheney’s positive rating is even lower than George W. Bush’s. And he shouldn’t speak for the Republicans either. Unless he wants to apologize. ---Charles Blow
"President" Cheney Speaks For Puppet Bush Administration (May 12, 2009) When Bush was getting ready for the presidential campaign in 2000, he faced criticism that he knew nothing about foreign affairs and really wasn't interested in knowing, so he selected Cheney as his vice-president, pointing out that Cheney's experience would balance out his inexperience. When Bush became president, he likened the job to his experience as a cheerleader and a (failed) CEO, and left the heavy-lifting of the presidency to Cheney. By the six or seventh year of the Bush administration it had become abundantly clear, even to Republicans, that Cheney was the Darth Vader of American history, but by then the widespread damage to the U.S., both home and abroad, had been done. It was then that Bush began to drift away from Cheney's influence, leaning on others as he limped to the finish line of his presidency. Here, Maureen Dowd looks at Cheney's present attempts to rewrite history, as Bush remains mute in Dallas, waiting for others to create the propaganda machine at the Bush-controlled presidential libaray at SMU, which will serve as a base from which Bush will spew his lies through well-paid speeches written by others at well-protected conservative venues throughout the world. --Politex
The man who never talked is now the man who won’t shut up. The man who wouldn’t list his office in the federal jobs directory, who had the vice president’s residence blocked on Google Earth, who went to the Supreme Court to keep from revealing which energy executives helped him write the nation’s energy policy, is now endlessly yelping about how President Obama is holding back documents that should be made public. Cheney, who had five deferments himself to get out of going to Vietnam, would rather follow a blowhard entertainer who has had three divorces and a drug problem (who also avoided Vietnam) than a four-star general who spent his life serving his country....
Cheney unleashed, egged on by the combative Lynne and Liz, is pretty much the same as Cheney underground: He’s batty, and he thinks he was the president. W. admired Cheney’s brass (he used another word) but grew increasingly skeptical of him, the more he learned about foreign policy himself, and the more he got pulled into a diplomatic mode by Condi in the second term. There were even reports of W. doing a funny Cheney imitation and that it dawned on him that Cheney and Rummy represented a scofflaw, paranoid Nixon cell within his White House. “Toward the end, 43 was just as confused as anybody about what makes Cheney tick,” said a Bush family loyalist.
Cheney’s numskull ideas — he still loves torture (dubbed “13th-century” stuff by Bob Woodward), Gitmo and scaring the bejesus out of Americans — are not only fixed, they’re jejune. He has no coherent foreign policy viewpoint. He still doesn’t fathom that his brutish invasion of Iraq unbalanced that part of the world, empowered Iran and was a force multiplier for Muslims who hate America. He left our ports unsecured (*), our food supply unsafe, the Taliban rising and Osama on the loose. No matter if or when terrorists attack here — and they’re on their own timetable, not a partisan red/blue state timetable — Cheney will be deemed the primary one who made America more vulnerable.
W.’s dark surrogate father is trying to pull the G.O.P. into a black hole of zealotry.... When Cheney was in the first Bush administration, he was odd man out. Poppy, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell corralled Cheney’s “Genghis Khan” side, as it was known, and his “rough streak.” Cheney didn’t care for Powell even then. But with W., “Back Seat” — Cheney’s Secret Service name in the Ford administration — clambered up front. Then he totaled the car. And no amount of yapping on TV is going to change that when history is written. --Maureen Dowd
(*) "A United Arab Emirates (UAE)-owned company...bought...control over facilities in six U.S. ports: New York, Miami, Newark-Port Elizabeth, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Baltimore....Most U.S. port terminals are operated by foreign companies because most shipping companies are foreign owned." --Council on Foreign Relations. "The fears over foreign entities owning critical infrastructure generally stem from the belief that foreign companies do not have as vested an interest in security as U.S. firms." --Council on Foreign Relations.
Mailbag (May 6, 2009) Your top of site FDR quote is extraordinary... and awful darn true in terms of what our new leader Obama has already done; with more to come. Fact is, George Bush protected my family and REAL American values and that will come out in history, not the baloney hyped by the Obama media machine (NBC to start with). Our constitution and our founders vision was far better protected, and enforced under Bush. As a 51 year old Father of two, I remain deeply disturbed with the pathetic and failed generation I happen to be part of, Baby boomers or in reality, Baby brats. God help America...the one our founders created not the socialistic disaster and failure the world created trying to achieve as we have. --Steve Donovan
Thanks for your note, Steve. Actually, the FDR quote is more of an attack on Bush policy, not a defense of it. "Fact is," the key aspect of Bush policy was to gain more wealth and power for the top 10% of the nation at the expnse of the remaining 90%. Those wealthy and powerful more often than not represent that "private power" that FDR terms "fascism." As for the protection of the Constitution, "fact is," the unprecedented Bush attacks on our Constitution represents one of the lowest points in American history. Further, your attack on the media is one more falsehood in the Republican playbook. No president has done more to turn the media into a propaganda machine than Bush. In sum, I read your note as just one more attempt to rewrite history to suit your goals, whatever they might be.
As for your attack on socialism, I recently read this comment in the NYT:
"There is another historical base to the Dutch social-welfare system, which curiously has been overlooked by American conservatives in their insistence on seeing such a system as a threat to their values. It is rooted in religion. 'These were deeply religious people, who had a real commitment to looking after the poor,” Mak said of his ancestors. 'They built orphanages and hospitals. The churches had a system of relief, which eventually was taken over by the state.' So Americans should get over ‘socialism. This system developed not after Karl Marx, but after Martin Luther and Francis of Assisi.' 'Socialism' is then something of a straw man...rather than political ideology, religious values and a tradition of cooperation are what lie beneath the modern social-welfare system." --Jerry Politex
Bush News Judge OKs probe of torture complaint against Bush officials
Spanish Court Weighs Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush Officials
How Close the Bush Bullet: We've Been Living Under a Dictatorship
Yoo, Bush and The Subversion of Liberty Conspiracy, 2001-2008
A Major Difference Between Conservatives and Progressives: Glorification of Leader. See Bush
The Morning After Pill Conspiracy: Bush Politicized FDA
Under Bush: Labor Agency Is Failing Workers, Report Says
E.P.A. Plans Closer Review of Mountaintop Mining Permits
Federal judge ordered CIA to produce unedited summaries of purged torture docs
Turley: Cheney war crimes probe would be 'shortest in history'
Former Powell chief: Cheney is 'dangerous'
Stewart to Cheney: Drink a cup of 'shut the f**k up'
"Commander in Chief? she says of George W. Bush, with a mix of disbelief and scorn.You blew up every single financial vessel we had and if you think you aren't personally responsible, well, the blame starts at the top. There is no higher top than you, SIR! If I were you, I would feel so absolutely horrific that I would take every penny I had and distribute it to anybody and everybody to help them in whatever way I could. You owe the American people every penny of your fortune and your family's fortune." --financial adviser Suze Orman
Leading the attack on history and logic, Bush and Cheney, the good-cop, bad cop of the Bush Legacy Team have broken with the tradition of past Presidents and have begun to bad-mouth the present President almost from the git-go. Good cop Bush has specifically said he's not going to comment on Obama's actions, semingly following the tradion of past Presidents, while bad cop Cheney has already taken a number of interviews, spewing his lies and distortions into the ears of his listeners. As we know, the good-cop bad-cop approach is a team strategy, and Bush and Cheney have perfected it over the years. --Jerry Politex
Bush Farewell: Declares "Peace of Mind to Seniors" Creates Perscription Drug Nightmare
Mailbag (2): Hagiographer Claims Bush, Alone, Could Not Have Destroyed 9 Trillion Economy
Bush Farewell: Declares "Peace of Mind to Seniors" Creates Perscription Drug Nightmare
In his farewell address in January, 2009, then-President Bush said, "A new Medicare prescription drug benefit is bringing peace of mind to seniors and the disabled." Yet, a NYT analysis by Mark Lange in March, 2009 reports: "Medicare Part D, the prescription benefit that went into effect three years ago, was supposed to let the elderly get their medicines more cheaply by creating competition between private insurers....But the cost to taxpayers has been 3.5 times the market value of those prescriptions, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs." This is just one more way Bush has screwed the American people and walked away with a smile and his mind on a legacy of lies.
"Part of the problem," writes Lange, "was that insurance analysts saw a chance to double the size of the managed care industry. Drug companies stood to collect $30 billion in windfalls over the coming decade. So legislation was pushed, paid for and effectively drafted by thousands of lobbyists.
Proposals requiring the government to use the buying power of 40 million Medicare patients to negotiate prescription prices were defeated. Pharmaceutical lobbyists fought for direct federal subsidy of drug benefits, knowing plans would be reimbursed no matter how much prices were inflated. Lobbyists also prevented identical but less expensive drugs from Canada and other countries from coming here. After arm-twisting that reduced at least one member of the House of Representatives to tears, the bill to expand Medicare passed at 5:53 a.m. on a November morning in 2003.
When the program went live in 2006, a fragmented market of 80 insurers — with 1,400 prescription drug plans — lacked the purchasing power to negotiate drug prices. Nor did those insurers have much reason to bargain, since Part D subsidized the most costly patients at 80 percent. So prices under Medicare private insurance plans for the top 10 medications shot up, and in 2006 the five largest drug firms notched a 45 percent spike in profits over the previous year. After insurers rushed to sign as many retirees as possible at attractive rates, they raised premiums 13 percent. Medicare patients in private plans cost taxpayers about 15 percent more than those covered under traditional government programs.
Then the story started to resemble a Dickens novel. State insurance commissioners complained about a nationwide pattern of aggressive, abusive and deceptive marketing practices by sales agents. Free of basic oversight and enforcement, other insurance agents and brokers manipulated the elderly by falsely claiming that they worked for Medicare, selling unrelated and inappropriate policies, bullying the elderly and even forging signatures.
Mailbag (3): Hagiographer Claims Bush Is Not Accountable For Recession/Depression
Continuing an analysis of a letter recently sent to Bush Watch...
2. "I understand that Bush did not make the best choices necessary for the survival of this country but to hold him accountable for a shift downward in the economy is absolutely absurd,..."
Naturally, Bush, alone, could not have created our present economic state, which finds us on the very edge of another great depression, but he did all that he could to foster and encourage it, and he should be held accountable. To put it another way, he did nothing to stop it, and he used his powers as President to kill, block, underfund, foot drag, and jawbone against regulations and oversights that would have stopped it. Focusing on Congress, not Bush, here's what Dem. House Chairman of the Financial Services Committee Barney Frank writes about Bush (our numbers). Admittedly, Frank holds a bias, but his narrative presents facts that can easily be verified by Google:
1. Republicans...in 1999...passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which overturned a Depression-era law preventing commercial banks from acting like investment banks. In 2000, they passed another bill which loosened regulation of derivative markets. I voted against these bills -- but to no avail. [These bills were key in encouraging lending and insuring without backing collateral. Clinton signed the first and Bush the second. The very regulations that were geared to prevent a second great depression were removed by their pens. --Politex]
2. As described in the most reputable published sources, in 2005 I in fact worked together with my Republican colleague Michael Oxley, then Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, to write a bill to increase regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac....These efforts were defeated because President Bush blocked further consideration of the legislation. In the words of Mr. Oxley, no flaming liberal, the Bush administration gave his efforts 'the one-finger salute.'
3. Under Republican President George W. Bush, many federal agencies turned a blind eye to activities which would later precipitate the global financial meltdown. The Securities and Exchange Commission decided to allow the nation's largest financial institutions to "self-regulate;" the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan declined to use its power to regulate subprime mortgages; the Comptroller of the Currency decided to preempt state consumer laws on subprime mortgages.
4. Meanwhile, President Bush himself demanded that Fannie and Freddie increase the percentage of subprime loans they purchased, supposedly because of his belief in an "ownership society." [Reference to a key Bush speech on the subject was given in part one.] Incidentally, increased lending to subprime borrowers would also fuel astronomical profits by the financial services industry.
5. In March 2007, just two months after I became the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee for the first time, I moved quickly to forge a bill which would regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill passed the House in May, with all 223 Democrats voting for it, and 103 Republicans voting against it. President Bush later signed that legislation into law [after the damage to Fannie and Freddie had already been done].
6. Later in 2007, I introduced legislation to restrict subprime mortgages. The bill passed the Financial Services Committee and the House, but it did not pass the Senate, where because of the filibuster rule, the Republican minority actually does have the power to hobble the majority. The bill passed the full House with all 227 Democrats and 64 Republicans voting for it, and 127 Republicans voting against.
6. Republicans also forget -- or do not understand -- that the present financial crisis has many fathers. The failure to pass any meaningful legislation before 2007 allowed unscrupulous actors to gorge themselves at the public's expense. Unregulated mortgage brokers sold subprime loans including the now infamous NINA (No Income No Assets). Major financial institutions packaged bad mortgages into securities and sold them as low-risk investments. Rating agencies gave stellar grades to toxic assets while being paid by the companies who stood to benefit from their actions. Insurance companies like AIG issued Credit Default Swaps which magically turned toxic assets into gold.
Bush Legacy Team Accelerates Drive to Scrub History of Bush Failures
Even though Bush is keeping quiet in Texas before heading out on a lucrative speaking tour, an informal network of former aides is keeping his views in the political bloodstream, defending his legacy in TV appearances and backgrounding reporters about his record. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer calls the Bush pundits “a loose confederation of people united in our belief in what President Bush did....”
The Bush defense forces include Fleischer; former press secretary Dana Perino; Bush political czar Karl Rove, who has contracts with Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek; economics guru Tony Fratto; the prolific Peter Wehner, former director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives; and the graceful speechwriter Michael Gerson, who writes an opinion column for The Washington Post [as well as Bush speechwriter David "Axis of Evil" Frum]. --Politico
Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer Wednesday attempt[ed] to spin the Bush presidency on Iraq and the economy [on Hardball, With Chris Matthews].... Fleischer...attempted to propagate the now widely discredited neoconservative theory that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were allies and that Hussein had a hand in 9/11 by saying, “After Sept. 11, how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again.”
To all of these statements, [Keith] Olbermann on his Wednesday night program Countdown responded with “Fleischer had to be stoned” and that recent attempts by Fleischer and other Bush aides to spin the presidency were “patently absurd” and “almost insane.” “We got this arrogant, condescending crap that Obama should basically be sending thank you notes to Bush every day for ridding the world of Saddam Hussein,” Olbermann said, asking Newsweek editor and MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter, "Is the idea that the more ridiculous you make the spin, the larger the yield?” “I don’t think there’s too much reality,” Alter said of the Bush aides, adding “These folks are all in the legacy business.” --Raw Story
Mailbag (part two): Bush Hagiographer Claims Bush Couold Not Have Destroyed 9 Trillion Economy By Himself
Continuing an analysis of a letter recently sent to Bush Watch...
5. "Anyone who has a f**king brain would realize that you cannot destroy a 9 trillion dollar economy in 8 years, can\\\\\\\'t happen. Which is why the affects of Reganomics were seen during the Clinton administrationThe affects of Reganomics were seen during the Clinton administration because 2 Replubicans, Regan and Bush Sr., followed the plan first set forth by Regan in order to fix the economy which it did."
If by "fix the economy," the writer means the movement of money from the lower and middle classes to the top 10%, the economy finally has been "fixed" during and by the 8 year term of Bush 43. I agree, it's taken 30 years, but it couldn't be done without Bush, Jr., following the economic ideology of Reagan and those Presidents who followed.
But, facts are, the "affects of Regonomics" continued into the Bush 43 years, with a lot of help by Bush, Jr. Here's one overview by Bob Herbert; another will be presented in a few days.
During the Reagon years, "working people were not just abandoned by big business and their ideological henchmen in government, they were exploited and humiliated. They were denied the productivity gains that should have rightfully accrued to them. They were treated ruthlessly whenever they tried to organize. They were never reasonably protected against the savage dislocations caused by revolutions in technology and global trade. Working people were told that all of this was good for them, and whether out of ignorance or fear or prejudice or, as my grandfather might have said, damned foolishness, many bought into it. They signed onto tax policies that worked like a three-card monte game. And they were sold a snake oil concoction called “trickle down” that so addled their brains that they thought it was a wonderful idea to hand over their share of the nation’s wealth to those who were already fabulously rich....
"The seeds of today’s disaster were sown some 30 years ago. Looking at income patterns during that period, my former colleague at The Times, David Cay Johnston, noted that from 1980 (the year Ronald Reagan was elected) to 2005, the national economy, adjusted for inflation, more than doubled. (Because of population growth, the actual increase per capita was about 66 percent.) But the average income for the vast majority of Americans actually declined during those years. The standard of living for the average family improved not because incomes grew but because women entered the workplace in droves. As hard as it may be to believe, the peak income year for the bottom 90 percent of Americans was way back in 1973, when the average income per taxpayer, adjusted for inflation, was $33,000. That was nearly $4,000 higher, Mr. Johnston pointed out, than in 2005....
"Men have done particularly poorly. Men who are now in their 30s — the prime age for raising families — earn less money than members of their fathers’ generation did at the same age. It may seem like ancient history, but in the first few decades following World War II, the United States, despite many serious flaws, established the model of a highly productive society that shared its prosperity widely and made investments that were geared toward a more prosperous, more fulfilling future. The American dream was alive and well and seemingly unassailable. But somehow, following the oil shocks, the hyperinflation and other traumas of the 1970s, Americans allowed the right-wingers to get a toehold — and they began the serious work of smothering the dream.
["After the Republican Great Depression, FDR put this nation back to work, in part by raising taxes on income above $3 to $4 million a year (in today’s dollars) to 91 percent, and corporate taxes to over 50% of profits. Every billion dollars (a half-week in Iraq) invested in infrastructure in America created 47,000 good-paying jobs as Americans built America. Reagan promptly cut income taxes on the very rich from 70% down to 27%. Corporate tax rates were also cut so severely that they went from representing over 33% of total federal tax receipts in 1951 to less than 9% in 1983 (they’re still in that neighborhood, the lowest in the industrialized world).
Regan to cover his tax cuts doubled the tax paid only by people earning less than $40,000/year (FICA), and then began borrowing from the huge surplus this new tax was accumulating in the Social Security Trust Fund. Even with that, Reagan had to borrow more money in his 8 years than the sum total of all presidents from George Washington to Jimmy Carter combined. Reagan’s tax cut greatly diminished expenditures on infrastructure (bridges, roads, hospital, colleges, etc.) When Reagan dropped the top income tax rate from over 70% down to under 30%, all hell broke loose. With the legal and social restraint to unlimited selfishness removed, 'the good of the nation' was replaced by 'greed is good as the primary paradigm....Before Reagan years there were only about 1 million illegal aliens in our work force, when he left office 3 million, and today 12 million. During that same period union membership has dropped from 25% to 7%. Cheap labor increases corporate profits. Before Reagan the enforcement of laws against hiring illegals served as a barrier to their entry."] --Thom Hartman
"Ronald Reagan saw Medicare as a giant step on the road to socialism. Newt Gingrich, apparently referring to the original fee-for-service version of Medicare, which was cherished by the elderly, cracked, “We don’t get rid of it in Round One because we don’t think it’s politically smart.” The right-wingers were crafty: You smother the dream by crippling the programs that support it, by starving the government of money to pay for them, by funneling the government’s revenues to the rich through tax cuts and other benefits, by looting the government the way gangsters loot legitimate businesses and then pleading poverty when it comes time to fund the services required by the people.
"The anti-tax fanatic Grover Norquist summed the matter up nicely when he famously said, 'Our goal is to shrink the government to the size where you can drown it in a bathtub.' Only they didn’t shrink the government, they enlarged it and turned its bounty over to the rich."
"Since Bush has been president:
An analysis of a letter sent to Bush Watch this week...
1. "Will you people please utilize better sources when trying to desecrate a president."
"Desecrate" means to "deprive something of its sacred character." Here, we have a writer who attempts to continue the myth of Bush as an object of worship. As Wikipedia notes, "many consider acts of desecration to be sacrilegious acts," conflating politics and religion into one and turning those who are against this writer's politicized religion into heretics...traitors.
As for "utilizing better sources," the letter writer fails to identify "better," nor does he provide a single source in his distortion-filled 3 paragraph letter as a positive (or negative) example of what he means.
2. "I understand that Bush did not make the best choices necessary for the survival of this country but to hold him accountable for a shift downward in the economy is absolutely absurd,..."
I do, and I'll address this point in a later report.
3. "...especially seeing as how the Democrat\\\\\\\'s in Washington pushed the CRA which deemed it necessary for banks to provide loans regardless of one\\\\\\\'s ability to repay those loans."
The CRA is neither a group nor an agency, it is a a federal law initiated by Carter in 1977 in response to unfair lending practices. The page on the government web site that addreses this problem states: "The Community Reinvestment Act is intended to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with safe and sound banking operations."
"...CRA examinations are conducted by the federal agencies that are responsible for supervising depository institutions: the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS)." These ratings are used when a financial instution wishes to change its structure through, for example, a merger or an acquisition.
After the savings and loan scandals in the 80's, fueled in part by the lack of oversight by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board of the thrift industry, (TIME) then President Bush, whose sons Neil and Jeb were involved in the scandals, signed a CRA-related bill, tightening up the rating system. In 2007 Ben Bernanke, Bush-appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve being kept on by Obama, observed, "this law greatly increased the ability of advocacy groups, researchers, and other analysts to 'perform more-sophisticated, quantitative analyses of banks' records, thereby influencing the lending policies of banks. Over time, community groups and nonprofit organizations established "more-formalized and more-productive partnerships with banks.'" (Wikipedia).
"According to a 2000 United States Department of the Treasury study of lending trends in 305 U.S. cities between 1993 and 1998, $467 billion in mortgage credit flowed from CRA-covered lenders to low- and medium-income borrowers and areas. In that period, the total number of loans to poorer Americans by CRA-eligible institutions rose by 39% while loans to wealthier individuals by CRA-covered institutions rose by 17%. The share of total US lending to low and meduim income borrowers rose from 25% in 1993 to 28% in 1998 as a consequence." (Wikipedia).
During those Clinton years, tweaks to the CRA through new bills and regulations moved towards losening rating restrictions on financial institutions, allowing them to meet community lending obligations through methods other than loans to low and medium would-be homeowners. As for those groups, Bernanke again in 2007, "managers of financial institutions found that these loan portfolios, if properly underwritten and managed, could be profitable" and that the loans "usually did not involve disproportionately higher levels of default."
Further, CRA supporters were actually warning Bernanke about the paractices of financial institutions that crossed the line drawn by the various bills and regulations: "According to the New York Times, some of these housing advocacy groups provided early warnings about the potential impact of lowered credit standards and the resulting unsupportable increase in real estate values they were causing in low to moderate income communities....Housing advocacy groups were also leaders in the fight against subprime lending in low- and moderate-income communities, 'In fact, community advocates had been telling the Federal Reserve about the dangers of subprime lending since the 1990s', according to Inner City Press. 'For example, Bronx-based Fair Finance Watch commented to the Federal Reserve about the practices of now-defunct non-bank subprime lender New Century, when U.S. Bancorp bought warrants for 24% of New Century's stock. The Fed, rather than take any action on New Century, merely waited until U.S. Bancorp sold off some of the warrants, and then said the issue was moot.' However, subprime loans were so profitable, that they were aggressively marketed in low-and moderate-income communities, even over the objections and warnings of housing advocacy groups like ACORN." (Wikipedia).
Actually, George W. Bush was the one person who made affordable housing for low and middle income Amnericans a major cog in the government's economic policy in an October 15, 2002 speech at George Washington University less than two years into his administration. Bush called for the purchase of a home without a down payment, "the American Dream Down Payment Fund," and government-paid vouchers to make mortgage payments, "what they call a Section 8 housing program...to help with continuing monthly mortgage payments after they're into their new home." This was said in front of members of the "housing industry," members of the Association of Real Estate Brokers, his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, his Secretary of Agriculture, his Secretary of the Treasury,"folks from the faith-based community," "heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," and his Domestic Policy advisor.
"Partners in the mortgage finance industry are encouraging homeownership by purchasing more loans made by banks to African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities...Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have committed to provide more money for lenders," Bush said. "They've committed to help meet the shortage of capital available for minority home buyers....Freddie Mac recently began 25 initiatives around the country to dismantle barriers and create greater opportunities for homeownership. One of the programs is designed to help deserving families who have bad credit histories to qualify for homeownership loans.
"More and more people own their homes in America today. Two-thirds of all Americans own their homes, yet we have a problem here in America because few than half of the Hispanics and half the African Americans own the home. That's a homeownership gap. It's a -- it's a gap that we've got to work together to close...We've got to work to knock down the barriers that have created a homeownership gap....by the end of this decade we'll increase the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families," Bush avowed
"San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Governor Randall Kroszner has stated that no empirical evidence had been presented to support the claim that "the [CRA] law pushed banking institutions to undertake high-risk mortgage lending". In a Bank for International Settlements ("BIS") working paper, economist Luci Ellis concluded that "there is no evidence that the Community Reinvestment Act was responsible for encouraging the subprime lending boom and subsequent housing bust," relying partly on evidence that the housing bust has been a largely exurban event. Others have also concluded that the CRA did not contribute to the current financial crisis, for example, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan, Tim Westrich of the Center for American Progress, Robert Gordon of the American Prospect, Daniel Gross of Slate, and Aaron Pressman from BusinessWeek.
"Some legal and financial experts note that CRA regulated loans tend to be safe and profitable, and that subprime excesses came mainly from institutions not regulated by the CRA. In the February 2008 House hearing, law professor Michael S. Barr, a Treasury Department official under President Clinton, stated that a Federal Reserve survey showed that affected institutions considered CRA loans profitable and not overly risky. He noted that approximately 50% of the subprime loans were made by independent mortgage companies that were not regulated by the CRA, and another 25% to 30% came from only partially CRA regulated bank subsidiaries and affiliates. Barr noted that institutions fully regulated by CRA made "perhaps one in four" sub-prime loans, and that "the worst and most widespread abuses occurred in the institutions with the least federal oversight".[footnote #68] According to Janet L. Yellen, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, independent mortgage companies made risky "high-priced loans" at more than twice the rate of the banks and thrifts; most CRA loans were responsibly made, and were not the higher-priced loans that have contributed to the current crisis. A 2008 study by Traiger & Hinckley LLP, a law firm that counsels financial institutions on CRA compliance, found that CRA regulated institutions were less likely to make subprime loans, and when they did the interest rates were lower. CRA banks were also half as likely to resell the loans. " (Wikipedia).
Cheerleader Bush Stiffs President Cheney At the Last Minute, Mureen Dowd
As we lurch through the disasters bequeathed by W. — the economy tanking, 17,000 more troops going to Afghanistan, Chrysler pleading for a total of $9 billion.... I asked Adam McKay, the former head writer of “Saturday Night Live,"... why people [just laught at] one of the worst presidents ever.
“He’s so clearly a neglected 13-year-old that there’s something really kind of heartbreaking about him,” McKay said, calling him “a good-time Charlie” who was “just used his whole life to front questionable business endeavors, and in a way that’s what his presidency was. He doesn’t have Cheney’s cartoonish need for power and greed that’s so off the charts you don’t even understand how Cheney got that way. W. may have some awareness, deep down inside, sort of like a petulant teenager who just flunked the trig quiz and knows he screwed up. I think Cheney not only knows but is delighted with everything he did, as is Rumsfeld.”
One of the great mysteries of the Bush presidency is whether W. ever had an epiphany when he realized that he had been manipulated by Dick Cheney, whether it ever hit him that he had trusted the wrong father figure. There were clues in the last couple of years that W. and Condi were trying to sidle away from Cheney by using the forbidden strategy of diplomacy in dealing with Iran and North Korea, and by cutting loose Rummy. As one official who worked closely with both W. and Cheney told The New York Daily News’s Tom DeFrank the last week of the administration: “It’s been a long, long time since I’ve heard the president say, ‘Run that by the vice president’s office.’ You used to hear that all the time.”
The clearest sign of disaffection we have is Bush’s refusal to pardon Scooter Libby, the man known as “Cheney’s Cheney,” despite Vice’s tense and emotional pleading. It was his final, too little, too late “You are not the boss of me” spurning of Dick Cheney. It may seem pointless for W. to worry about his legacy at this juncture, but he clearly did not want to add a Marc Rich blot to all the other gigantic blots on the copybook.
As DeFrank reported in The Daily News, Cheney conducted a full-bore, last-ditch campaign to persuade W. to pardon Libby, peppering the reluctant president with visits and phone calls, and was furious when W. would not relent. After so many years of getting W. to do so much of what he wanted, by giving the insecure president the illusion of deference and a lack of personal ambition, it must have been infuriating to Cheney to have W. turn a deaf ear.
By not pardoning Cheney’s alter ego, who plied his dark arts trying to discredit Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson and then lied to protect his boss, W. was clearly saying he thought that Libby, and by extension Cheney, did something wrong. But it’s not clear whether W. is simply pouting because Cheney’s machinations blackened his legacy, or if, at long last, he fathoms the morality of it, that Cheney did hideous things to the Constitution....
BUSH WATCH MAILBAG: Thank you for the sanity :) Thank you for BUSH WATCH. It has proven to be a terrific resource of information over the last few years. I have always relied upon it to provide insight and accuracy compared to what is provided on the 6:00 news. Now that Obama is looking like he will win today I feel like my blood pressure will go back to normal. Just imagine the rest of the world will look fondly upon us again. --Eric Robinson
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