Saturday, December 29, 2007

Why 2007 Was "A Very Good Year" For Bush

2007 must have been one of the worst years for George W. Bush during his entire two term presidency? Right? Wrong. Well, 'wrong' according to this columnist from the Bush-loving Washington Times. It's not the way you view the events of 2007, it's the way you spin them, relentlessly :
Against all odds, and despite the usual drumbeat of criticism, President Bush had a very good year.

The troop surge in Iraq is succeeding. America remains safe from terrorist attacks. And the Goldilocks economy is outperforming all expectations.

At his year-end news conference, Mr. Bush said with optimism that the economy is fundamentally sound, despite the housing downturn and the subprime credit crunch. The very next day, that optimism was reinforced with news of the best consumer spending in two years.

The prophets of recessionary doom, such as former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, Republican adviser Martin Feldstein, ex-Democratic Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, and bond-maven Bill Gross have been proven wrong once again.

Calendar year 2007 looks set to produce 3 percent growth in real gross domestic product, nearly 3 percent growth in consumer spending, and more than 3 percent growth in after-tax inflation-adjusted incomes.

Meanwhile, headline inflation (including food and energy) will have run at 2½ percent, with only 2 percent core inflation.
Jobs are rising more than 100,000 monthly and the stock market is set to turn in a respectable year despite enormous headwinds. Low tax rates, modest inflation, and declining interest rates continue to boost Goldilocks, which is still the greatest story never told.

Mr. Bush's optimism is well-earned, in Congress too. He has stopped a lot of bad legislation on higher taxing and spending. He won on S-CHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) and the alternative minimum tax.

He mostly prevailed on domestic spending. And he got much of what he wanted on war funding without any pullout dates.
And he is not yet finished.

In the most dramatic statement of his holiday news conference, Mr. Bush said he will not stand for continuing congressional proliferation of pork-barrel earmarks.
"Another thing that's not responsible is the number of earmarks the Congress included in the massive spending bill," said Mr. Bush. "The bill they just passed includes about 9,800 earmarks. Together with the previously passed defense spending bill, that means Congress has approved about 11,900 earmarks this year. And so I am instructing Budget Director Jim Nussle to review options for dealing with wasteful spending in the omnibus bill."

This is huge. The statute of limitations for Republican overspending, over-earmarking, and over-corrupting that caused huge congressional losses in last year's campaign will not run out until the GOP shows taxpayers it again can be trusted on key issues of limited government and lower taxes.

In these matters, Republicans must be holier than the pope.

And while President Bush has been doing the Lord's work with his newfound veto pen, he must continue to wage war on earmarks if the GOP is to cleanse the political memory of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Looking ahead, the economy also would benefit from a corporate tax cut for both large and small businesses, including corporate capital-gains. The U.S. dollar would reap the rewards as new investment flowed in from the world. Several recent studies also show businesses would pass on tax-cost savings to the work force, thereby bolstering wages and ultimately creating new jobs.
Read The Full Story Here
"We're Tinkering With The Boundaries Of Human Life Here"

A remarkable, detailed and insightful insider account on how President Bush formulated his policy on stem cell research has been published in Commentary Magazine.

It's certainly rare to find stories that supply such detail on how Bush researches, discusses and ultimately reaches a position on an issue as contentious as stem cells. Regardless of whether you agree with Bush on limiting stem cell research, the process discussed in this story is fascinating, particularly the 'scene' where the advisor reads to Bush from Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World'. Some excerpts from the insider account :

In the United States, domestic policy is usually made when Congress sends the President a piece of legislation. He and his administration will often have been deeply involved in the crafting of that legislation, which he is then given to sign or to veto. In this case, in part by statute, and in part (as we shall see) because of a legal finding by the Clinton administration, Bush found himself with the sole authority to decide how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should apportion its research dollars on stem cells. The decision was his to render, and his alone.

Months before his final announcement, Bush personally set in motion a highly unusual process of deliberation inside the White House. The process combined philosophical and scientific research with investigations into both the morality and the practicality of various policy options.

In my first meeting with the President about stem cells, we discussed the basic issue in broad strokes. He was not being asked to assess the legality or even the wisdom of stem-cell research per se. No law in the country banned it, nor was anyone in either party pressing for such a ban. Rather, the question being put to him was whether he would authorize the use of federal funds—i.e., monies allocated by Congress for scientific investigation, to be conducted by the National Institutes of Health, in the area of embryonic stem cells alone.

As a first step, Bush asked me to prepare a set of background reading materials on the scientific aspects of stem-cell research. He also asked for a summary of the relevant laws of other countries, and a description of what the world’s leading religions had to say on the issue. Once I began turning in my memos, a day rarely passed when he did not call with a follow-up request or a question about something he had read. It was clear that in addition to the material I submitted, he was also finding other things to read and was talking about stem cells with friends and intimates.

I brought into the Oval Office my copy of Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 anti-utopian novel, and as I read passages aloud imagining a future in which humans would be bred in hatcheries, a chill came over the room.

“We’re tinkering with the boundaries of life here,” Bush said when I finished. “We’re on the edge of a cliff. And if we take a step off the cliff, there’s no going back. Perhaps we should only take one step at a time.”

The Full Commentary Magazine Story Is Here
Bush Quietly Advises Hillary Clinton On Iraq War And 'War On Terror'

Bush Says His White House Successor Will Find Gitmo And The War On Iraq "Necessary"

The War On Iraq will not end if Hillary Clinton is elected POTUS at the end of next year, just as the War On Iraq came no closer to ending when the Democrats won the mid-term elections last year.

President Bush wants to make sure that Hillary Clinton knows, as if she didn't already know, that shutting down the War On Iraq will be bad news for the United States, and the political and business elite.

Remember Vietnam is the chant, and the Democrats are not only listening, they're already singing along :

President Bush is quietly providing back-channel advice to Hillary Rodham Clinton, urging her to modulate her rhetoric so she can effectively prosecute the war in Iraq if elected president.

In an interview for the new book “The Evangelical President,” White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten said Bush has “been urging candidates: ‘Don’t get yourself too locked in where you stand right now. If you end up sitting where I sit, things could change dramatically.’ ”

Bolten said Bush wants enough continuity in his Iraq policy that “even a Democratic president would be in a position to sustain a legitimate presence there.”

“Especially if it’s a Democrat,” the chief of staff told The Examiner in his West Wing office. “He wants to create the conditions where a Democrat not only will have the leeway, but the obligation to see it out.”

To that end, the president has been sending advice, mostly through aides, aimed at preventing an abrupt withdrawal from Iraq in the event of a Democratic victory in November 2008.

“It’s different being a candidate and being the president,” Bush said in an Oval Office interview. “No matter who the president is, no matter what party, when they sit here in the Oval Office and seriously consider the effect of a vacuum being created in the Middle East, particularly one trying to be created by al Qaeda, they will then begin to understand the need to continue to support the young democracy.”

To that end, Bush is institutionalizing controversial anti-terror programs so they can be used by the next president.

“Look, I’d like to make as many hard decisions as I can make, and do a lot of the heavy lifting prior to whoever my successor is,” Bush said. “And then that person is going to have to come and look at the same data I’ve been looking at, and come to their own conclusion.”

As an example, Bush cited his detainee program, which allows him to keep enemy combatants imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay while they await adjudication. Bush is unmoved by endless criticism of the program because he says his successor will need it.

“I specifically talked about it so that a candidate and/or president wouldn’t have to deal with the issue,” he said. “The next person has got the opportunity to analyze the utility of the program and make his or her decision about whether or not it is necessary to protect the homeland. I suspect they’ll find that it is necessary. But my only point to you is that it was important for me to lay it out there, so that the politics wouldn’t enter into whether or not the program ought to survive beyond my period.”

The Examiner asked Bush why Democratic candidates such as Clinton and Barack Obama, who routinely lambaste his handling of Iraq, should take his advice.

“First of all, I expect them to criticize me. That’s one way you get elected in the Democratic primary, is to criticize the president,” Bush replied. “I don’t expect them to necessarily take advice from me. I would expect their insiders to at least get a perspective about how we see things.”

He added: “We have an obligation to make sure that whoever is interested, they get our point of view, because you want somebody running for president to at least understand all perspectives, apart from the politics.”

Vice President Dick Cheney was philosophical about the possibility of a Democratic president fundamentally reversing the policies that he and Bush have worked so hard to implement in Iraq.

“It’s the nature of the business, in a sense,” he shrugged during an interview in his West Wing office. “I mean, you get two terms. We were fortunate to get two terms. And I think we’ll increasingly see a lot of emphasis on deciding who the next occupant of the Oval Office is going to be.”

The War On Iraq will not end, regardless of who is elected president in 2008.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas (War Is Over) By George W. Bush

It's easy to imagine that John Lennon would think this is a masterpiece :

Friday, December 21, 2007

Checking The Silverware

President Bush doesn't mind recycling old jokes, and bad ones at that, to show how he's not all serious and really is just an average guy who likes a laugh, like you and me.

He also doesn't mind borrowing his, err, material from past presidents :

Good morning. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday reception at the White House as much as Laura and I enjoyed it. We took an inventory of the silverware, and this year only a few pieces were missing. So like if you see Gregory, tell him to bring them back.
-- President Bush at today’s press conference (referring to NBC's David Gregory)

I love meeting with the Members. For those of you who have been to our office, thanks for coming. For those of you that have not been to our office yet, you're coming. Just don't take any silverware. [Laughter]
-- President Bush, February 2, 2001, two weeks after taking office; remarks at the Republican Congressional Retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia

It's good to see my old fellow owner, "the Boss." [Laughter] What a record you've had -- a man who demands excellence and oftentimes gets it. [Laughter] But thank you for coming, George. I know the real boss of the Yankees is here, too, Arthur Richman. [Laughter] How are you, Arthur? Good to see you. I told you one of these days we would get to the White House. Just don't take any silverware, Arthur. [Laughter]
-- President Bush, May 4, 2001, referring to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and senior advisor Arthur Richman during remarks honoring 2000 World Series Champion New York Yankees.

Thank you all for coming. I'll see you Thursday, coats and ties. [Laughter] This year, Gregory, don't take any silverware. [Laughter]
-- President Bush, December 15, 2003 press conference; referring to upcoming holiday party

I want to thank Bob Wallace, the executive director. He spends a lot of time in the Oval Office. I'm always checking the silverware drawer. [Laughter]
-- President Bush, August 22, 2007, referring to VFW executive director Robert E. Wallace during remarks at Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

As you know, this is the second time that we've had editorial cartoonists here during this term. Last May 1 had some of you over for lunch. We're still looking for the missing silverware. [Laughter] -- President Ronald Reagan, May 7, 1987; remarks to Members of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Bushes & The Clintons : The Best Of Friends

George W. Admits He Took Advice On Being President From Bill Clinton

In a follow-up to the story here yesterday about Bill Clinton's bizarre claim that the very first priority of a Hillary Clinton presidency would be to send Bill and Pappa Bush on the road to repair the international damage wrought by George W. here's some interesting photos and details of the close relationship between the Bushes and the Clintons :

From Your New Reality :
Hillary Clinton likes to give the impression that she stands utterly opposed to President George W. Bush, and that she believes he has ruined the United States during his seven years in power.

But it's all a lie. The Clintons and the Bushes are really the best of friends, as we pointed out on this blog almost two years ago.

They're supposed to be enemies. But they're really good friends

From Your New Reality, January 2006 :
Mr Bush said he checked in with Mr Clinton occasionally.

"And you know, he says things that make it obvious … that we're kind of, you know, on the same wavelength about the job of the presidency," he said.

And what "wavelength" is that? President Bush didn't explain.

More on the very close relationships in the Bush-Clinton Presidential Family :
US President George W. Bush thinks it's funny that Senator Hilary Clinton could be the next President of the United States.

Despite the fact that both her and her husband Bill Clinton have savaged the Bush 2 Administration, and mocked the President for being dumb and careless and out of touch, there are no hard feelings from the Bush Family.

Bill Clinton spends an awful amount of time doing charity gigs with his former rival and fellow ex-President George Herbert Walker Bush. They've become great friends and current President Bush thinks of Bill as a member of the family now.

"That's a good relationship," Bush said of his dad's flourishing mateship with "my new brother".

President Bush thought it was "fun" to watch his father and Clinton together at the funeral of Pope John Paul.

When asked about who might be the next President of the United States, Bush mused about how future historians might look back and view the decades when only a few key members of two old American families held the most powerful office in the world as "Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton", he said.
Who needs elections?

Guess who they're laughing at? YOU

The Bush-Clinton Family Album : W. On Bill "He's My Brother"
Bill Clinton : Me And Pappa Bush Will Repair US International Image Damage Wrought By George W.


Bill Clinton is claiming that when Hillary 'wins' the White House, he will be sent on a world tour with George W. Bush's father to announce that the US is "open for business and cooperation again".

So voting for Hillary Clinton will launch the original Bush The Destroyer back onto the world stage?

The fake attacks by Hillary Clinton on President George W. Bush are clearly part of the theatre that they hope will keep the Bush-Clinton families at the top of America's political and power elite. They're not enemies. It's a con, a jape, an odious scam.

Hillary has refused to back ending the Iraq War and is opposed to President Bush's impeachment. She also backs President Bush on his railing against Iran, and has refused to rule out opposing air strikes on Iran if it comes to that. She is just as militarily-minded as President Bush, and will keep bushing the shared Bush-Clinton agenda for as long as she stays in the White House. If she even gets there. And her husband sure ain't helping.

That Bill Clinton would announce this tour, as part of the celebrations of another Bush-Clinton victory, and as though it were a good thing, as though it would help to win his wife votes, is just plain bizarre.

Considering how deeply unpopular the former President Bush was, and how staggeringly unpopular his son now is, most Americans would rather have acid poured in their eyes than to see any Bush representing their country on the world stage. Which is why Jeb Bush has decided to stay away from running for the White House for another decade or so.

Truly, truly weird :
Former President Bill Clinton said Monday that the first thing his wife Hillary will do when she reaches the White House is dispatch him and his predecessor, President George H.W. Bush, on an around-the-world mission to repair the damage done to America's reputation by the current president - Bush's son, George W. Bush.

"Well, the first thing she intends to do, because you can do this without passing a bill, the first thing she intends to do is to send me and former President Bush and a number of other people around the world to tell them that America is open for business and cooperation again," Clinton said in response to a question from a supporter about what his wife's "number one priority" would be as president.
This would be Hillary's Number One Priority on becoming president?

What planet are these people from?

UPDATE : To the surprise of absolutely no-one, except perhaps Bill Clinton, Pappa Bush has now nixed the idea of hitting the road with Clinton to badmouth his presidential son's legacy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bush Is King Of The Signing Statements

Dictatorship By 'Alternative Veto'

An interesting interview with Boston Globe journalist Charlie Savage on how President Bush uses signing statements to become "a government unto himself" :

More from Raw Story :
Dan Abrams examined the Bush administration's unprecedented use of signing statements in the second installment of his week-long MSNBC series on "Bush League Justice."

"President Bush doesn't like to veto laws," Abrams began. "He doesn't have to. Since he took office, he's been attaching conditions to laws already passed by Congress, allowing him to essentially disobey the will of Congress and dramatically expand his own power."

Bush has issued 1100 signing statements -- almost twice as many as all previous presidents put together -- often completely reversing the intended effect of legislation. For example, when Congress voted overwhelmingly to ban torture, Bush announced that this would "make it clear to the world that this government does not torture." Two weeks later, he added a signing statement to the bill that allowed him to ignore it.

Similarly, when a bill required the Justice Department to report to Congress on the use of the Patriot Act, Bush added a proviso that he could override this requirement any time he thought necessary.

Law professor Jonathan Turley told Abrams that the practice has two very serious effects. On one hand, "by using signing statements to this extent, the president becomes a government unto himself." But it also gives lower-level officials cover for their own illegal behavior by creating a deliberate area of ambiguity about the meaning of the laws.

"How does he get away with it?" Abrams asked Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage. Savage explained that signing statements have previously been considered merely as instructions to the executive branch on how to interpret legislation, and typically no one outside the executive branch even reads them.

According to Savage, Cheney's aide David Addington, who has been with him since the 1980's "is said to be the chief architect of these signing statements" and is the leader of the legal team pushing the most radical theories of presidential power.

The Imperial (Vice) Presidency of Dick Cheney rolls on.

Why do Bush and Cheney continue to gather unprecedented presidential powers, when they supposedly have only a year left in control of the White House? Are they preparing the ground for a Democrat President, or do they really believe the next POTUS will be a Republican?

If, as polls suggest, the next president is likely to be a Democrat, wouldn't Cheney be more interested in making it harder for the Dems to rule with the untold powers that Bush has enjoyed?
'I Fell In Love With Alcohol'

Bush On Getting Hammered

President Bush has made plenty of jokes about how much he used to drink. But it's rare indeed that he opens up about the dark, seductive side off alcoholism :

"I doubt I'd be standing here if I hadn't quit drinking whiskey, and beer and wine and all that..."

The president told ABC News he quit drinking over 20 years ago -- cold turkey.

"I had too much to drink one night, and the next day I didn't have any," Bush said. "The next day I decided to quit and I haven't had a drink since 1986."

"And you did it just cold turkey?" asked Raddatz.

"I'm a better man for it," Bush said.

The president said his alcohol problem wasn't severe, but said he still had a hard time quitting.

"I wasn't a knee-walking drunk," Bush said. "It's a difficult thing to do, which is to kick an addiction."

Earlier in the day after briefing the media on a report on teen drug abuse, Bush told a teenage girl who had struggled with drug addiction that he too had kicked an addiction.

"Your president made the same kind of choice," he told her. "I had to quit drinking. & Addiction competes for your affection & You fall in love with alcohol."

Later, Bush told ABC News he opened up to the girl about his alcohol abuse, because he was touched by her story.

"I was trying to encourage her to stay strong," Bush said. "I wanted her, this young girl who's struggling with drug addiction, to know that others who might be famous have the same issue, that she's not alone."

Bush said in his case, he made the decision to quit when he realized drinking was interfering with his family.

"Alcohol can compete with your affections. It sure did in my case," Bush said, "affections with your family, or affections for exercise."

"It was the competition that I decided just wasn't worth it," he said.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Military Families Abandon Bush Over Iraq War

Most Think Iraq War Sacrifices "Not Worth It"

Majority Of Military Families Support Dissenting Generals Who Speak Out Against The War

Some reality to cut through all the propaganda :
Families with ties to the military, long a reliable source of support for wartime presidents, disapprove of President Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq, with a majority concluding the invasion was not worth it, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

The views of the military community, which includes active-duty service members, veterans and their family members, mirror those of the overall adult population, a sign that the strong military endorsement that the administration often pointed to has dwindled in the war's fifth year.

Nearly six out of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does.

And among those families with soldiers, sailors and Marines who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 60% say that the war in Iraq was not worth the cost, the same result as all adults surveyed.

Patience with the war, which has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II, is wearing thin -- particularly among families who have sent a service member to the conflict. One-quarter say American troops should stay "as long as it takes to win." Nearly seven in 10 favor a withdrawal within the coming year or "right away."

Military families are only slightly more patient: 35% are willing to stay until victory; 58% want the troops home within a year or sooner.

Here, too, the military families surveyed are in sync with the general population, 64% of whom call for a withdrawal by the end of next year.

"You generally expect to see support for the president as commander in chief and for the war, but this is a different kind of war than those we've fought in the past, particularly for families," said David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland.

"The man went into Iraq without justification, without a plan; he just decided to go in there and win, and he had no idea what was going to happen," said poll respondent Mary Meneely, 58, of Arco, Minn. Her son, an Air Force reservist, served one tour in Afghanistan. "There have been terrible deaths on our side, and it's even worse for the Iraqi population. It's another Vietnam."

...disapproval of Bush appears to have transferred to his party. Republican leanings of military families that began with the Vietnam War -- when Democratic protests seemed to be aimed at the troops as much as the fighting -- have shifted, the poll results show.

"We support the troops; we don't support Bush," said respondent Linda Ramirez, 52, of Spooner, Wis., whose 19-year-old son is due to be deployed with the Marines early next year. "These boys have paid a terrible, terrible price."

..most military families and others surveyed took no exception to retired officers publicly criticizing the Bush administration's execution of the war. More than half of the respondents in both groups -- 58% -- say such candor is appropriate. Families with someone who had served in the war are about equally supportive at 55%.