Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Adieu to Dubya, Jan 7, 2009 Edition

Wherein I sift through the archives for posts that shed light on the presidency of one George W. Bush. Let us begin.
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

There has been some serious run on this.

"God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

--George W. Bush to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, according to Abbas

I would probably let it stand, as did Josh Marshall, for it pretty much speaks for itself. (Prudent bloggers should note: it's a second-hand quote. There's a lot of room for misunderstanding there.) If it's relatively close to what the President said, it's not inconsistent with things he's said before, and publically.

But Kevin Drum asks: "I can't pretend to know what Bush really feels in his heart, but is this really so bad?" Adding some analysis about how the remark was made in confidence, when the President was presumably gaining trust, the Calpundit gives Bush a pass. "He's talking to a religious person engaged in a largely religious dispute and trying to gain his trust. The remarks were made privately, and were obviously an attempt to speak in language that would be appreciated by the Palestinians."

Two thoughts. The quote itself, if we take it at face value, is the same kind of simplistic moralism Bush has used to justify about every action he's ever taken. It's unyielding fundamentalism, and he means it very literally: he believes he was instructed by God to invade Iraq. How a Palestinian is to regard this as good news escapes me. If God is on Bush's side and Bush is on Israel's side, how could Abbas think this was a hopeful comment?

More importantly, if Bush is conducting his foreign policy based on religious dictates, we should all be concerned. I'm less interested in letting Bush off the hook on the comment, because he seems insistent on making the point that this is not a game of politics or confidence-gaining, it's moral clarity. You're with him or you're agin him. Kevin compares Bush to Jimmy Carter, who also used his faith to create agreement. But Carter used it in exactly the opposite way: he used the universality of religion and the compassion of Christ as a way of building bridges. Bush isn't interested in agreement--he's interested in others yielding to his (and God's?) will. Big difference.

posted by Jeff | 1:12 PM |

July was a bad month for Bush. It was in the midst of the scandal over the "16 words" in the SotU (blatant lies, they were). On just one day I noted the following difficulties:

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Having a busy morning; I'll blog this afternoon. In the meantime, some good stuff on the implosion of the White House:

Deficits are mushrooming like the accusations of Presidential lying. Up to half a trillion, and that doesn't include the cost of occupation.

Damn those scientists: missile defense won't work. (Prediction: Bush will call it "darn bad science.")

Walter Pincus continues to hammer the President on WMD, and is expanding his inquiry to show a coordinated effort by the administration to deceive. (Anyway that's one reading of his story.)

Conason's incredulous about the line, ""We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." (Though it may actually give the President cover. If he was unaware that inspectors went to Iraq before the war, it's pretty reasonable to assume he might not have known Niger's document was a fake. Of course, it would offer the Democrats some different ammunition.)

Finally, Bush is no longer in control of the news cycles. No--really?

posted by Jeff | 10:30 AM |

Remember the Plame Affair? I know, not really. In retrospect the whole thing seems pretty penny-ante for the Bushies. But it was a big deal in the blogosphere. And it began in July:

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I guess it's finally time to delve into this Plame affair. Tom's been following this thing like a lazer, and he's got a very nice timeline up at Just One Minute. (Nice work, Tom--with this you may make large mammal.) I've printed out the relevant materials, and now I'm off to lunch to, ah, digest it.

[1:22 pm]
All right, I've perused the documents and think I've got it sorted out. The issue at hand is two-fold. First is the revelations by Joseph Wilson regarding the Iraq-Niger connection. In February of 2002, he traveled to Africa and discovered the uranium claim was bogus. No more necessary on that thread--you know where it ends up.

The second issue involves possible White House payback to Wilson for continuing to point out the CIA knew as early as a year before the State of the Union about the bogusness (bogiosity?) of the Niger claim. The payback was this: "administration officials" outed his wife, Valerie Plame, who was an undercover CIA agent. They did so in conversations with Robert Novak, which he revealed on July 14.

The big question on the second issue was whether the source of the outing was really the administration or other "government officials" (read: the CIA). This is significant because it's another link back to abuse of power and lying by the White House. (Tom also questions Krugman's interpretation of events, painting him as a low-down slanderer who can't quote an article without misreading half the meaning. If Bush is my windmill, Krugman is his.)

All of this is interesting, and may finally lead to some congressional investigations. It's subtle and obscure and hard to put together, though, so I don't know if it can be sustained as the kind of story that sells newspapers. (Not that it's been used to sell many newspapers yet, either. A Google News search turns up 14 lone mentions.)
posted by Jeff | 12:36 PM |

I realize, as I read through these old archives, that the collapse of the Iraq "victory" really caused the press to start poking at Bush's underbelly. And if found lots that stank:

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

All right, so apparently Bush said some shocking things in his press conference today, but that'll have to wait, because I don't even have time to read the report. I'm still on DARPA, a day late and a dollar short (well, several thousand actually). I'm a blogger, for Pete's sake. What do you want, the New York Times?

So DARPA. A big coup for our man Ron Wyden and a big blow for John Poindexter, who's probably going to get run out of town on a rail. All well and good, except that the proposal wasn't such a bad idea. (Actually, I don't know what the proposal actually was; I just know what I heard in the news. According to those reports, the FutureMAP plan was designed to be used by Middle East experts in the way that futures trading is conducted. They place "bets" on the likelihood of certain events happening--say Sharon getting whacked--and then a predictive model emerges.)

So let's examine what might be truly horrible about the plan. 1) It's impolite. 2) Well, there is no two--other than it being an unseemly program, it's not like the government would be sifting through your library records, reading your email, or plopping you in the pokey for three months on a "material witness" charge. But I suppose it is a bit unseemly. And by God, we're fighting terrorism, so whatever we do, make sure you don't offend anyone.

It may or may not have been a usable idea, but it's based on an economics model that so far I haven't heard anyone say was suspect. (Maybe Max knows.) You get people to predict what's going to happen, and you ensure they're using their best information because they put money on it. (In one story I heard on NPR this morning, someone--probably a DARPA hack--said it wouldn't actually be money-based, except maybe in terms of grant money. Whether that's true or just spin, I dunno.) Apparently the models have some statistical accuracy.

DARPA's a scary agency--don't get me wrong. But here we have George Bush gutting the judiciary and strong-arming Congress; we have the AG running roughshod over existing law and its practice; in Texas, Republicans are trying create a monarchy; John Poindexter's original vision for TIA was some kind of Orwellian interconnectivity of media, stopping, apparently, just short of the cameras in your living room; and we're worried about an economics modeling system because it's slightly impolite?

I think we oughta make every stinkin politician go through boot camp and put them on a one-month tour in Iraq and see how their vision of war, freedom, and the dangers of offending the 700 Club realign.

posted by Jeff | 11:36 AM |

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