Thursday, June 26, 2008

Most Failed President in American History Wants a Successor

It must be small solace to James Buchanan: he is no longer the worst president in American history. A poll by the Los Angeles Times has Bush down to an approval rating of 23%. That's close to the 25% of Americans that expert Bob Altemeyer says are authoritarian followers (see John Dean's Conservatives without Conscience). Such followers respond to the kind of fear-mongering used by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay and Karl Rove. John McCain, who is receiving considerable help from the White House, shows clear signs of following in Bush's footsteps.

Authoritarian followers like their politics expressed in black and white terms and they get annoyed if everyone else doesn't follow the party line by wearing a flag pin. It's embarrassing that the media still jumps when frauds like Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol and Ann Coulter try to spin their nonsense on the American people. No, Mr. Limbaugh, torture is not a fraternity hazing. No, Ms. Coulture, liberals are not the enemy —not unless a free press, social security, medicare and democracy are now considered unAmerican. No, Mr. Kristol, we do not need a third war in Iran after the blunders and incompetence of Iraq, and the failure to finish the war in Afghanistan (29 Americans have died in Iraq this month and about 20 Americans have died in Afghanistan in the last 30 days where the toll per year has been climbing since the invasion in Iraq).

Bush's foreign policy is sufficient reason for his presidency to be listed among the worst. Now we have the economy to worry about. Here's the latest economic news from CNN:
U.S. stocks fell sharply Thursday with the blue-chip index enduring its worst June so far since 1930, and plunging to its lowest finish since Sept. 11, 2006, after getting slammed hard as crude soared to new highs and Goldman Sachs disparaged U.S. brokers and advised selling General Motors Corp.

The Dow Jones fell over 358 points on Thursday. The stock markets in the US would be lower than they are except for three factors. First, the hijinks of Bush and Alan Greenspan a few years back have unleashed inflation making the quarterly reports a little harder to read after the price increases of the last year. Second, the dollar has been devalued making it easier for foreigners to buy stocks (buying American companies seems preferable to buying American goods). Third, after getting burned by the credit crisis, foreign stock exchanges have been having their own problems thus making US markets relatively attractive, at least by comparison. We are of course in a global economic crisis that is reflected by the price of oil which rose to $140/barrel today.

And still there are Republicans touting that the economy is doing fine. After all, the economy grew by 1% in the first quarter this year. If the growth was real, which I doubt, it is likely the profits went straight into the pockets of America's billionaires while the hordes of Bush cronies got their share of the plunder. One thing for sure is that most Americans did not benefit from that "growth." Nor did the cities, counties and states who are having trouble meeting their budgets. What is also clear is that Bush and the leadership of the Republican Party have absolutely no plan for putting America's future on a more sound basis except to continue the stupidity of the corporate bottom line which is really nothing more than a scam to take money from our future and line the pockets of the usual suspects. And John McCain admits he doesn't know much about the economy.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court is doing it's best to destroy any notion that the American people run the country. No, according to the Supreme Court, the wealthy not only run our country but they have special privileges and a special status that must be protected by the courts. If corporations incur enormous damage on the American people, the Supreme Court will kindly limit the damages. Here's a story from the San Jose Mercury that appeared in the Los Angeles Times:
The court ruled that Exxon Mobil must pay $507 million - about one-tenth of the original jury award - to punish it for recklessly putting a known alcoholic in charge of a supertanker traveling a treacherous channel.

The justices described Exxon's conduct as "worse than negligent, but less than malicious."

Capt. Joseph Hazelwood had been drinking and was not on the bridge when the Exxon Valdez ran aground on a reef in March 1989, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound.


But some lawmakers and environmentalists faulted the court for giving a big-money reprieve to one of the world's richest companies. Exxon Mobil earned more than $10 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2008.

"This ruling is another in a line of cases where this Supreme Court has misconstrued congressional intent to benefit large corporations," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Warner Chabot of the environmental group Ocean Conservancy was stunned by the lesser amount that Exxon would have to pay.

"That's pocket change. They can turn over one cushion on their leather couch and find that," said Chabot, whose group has offices in San Francisco. He worried the amount would not motivate companies to adopt the strictest environmental protocols. [Apologies for the extensive quote but the decision was truly an obscenity and a clear violation of American values.]

I'm no expert but I know a thing or two about oil spills. My wife and I were volunteers for over ten years for an organization that watches for oil spills and documents the damage when a spill happens. The first thing you learn is that oil spills are always more damaging than what is reported by the media. That's understandable since the media conglomerates are easily intimidated by other corporations and sometimes by their own corporate heads.

America cannot continue with business as usual. The brutal fact is that the world cannot continue with business as usual. We need leadership. Not the top down leadership we've been getting for the last 28 years that is usually bought and paid for by the wealthy. We need a bottom up leadership that restores America's future and democracy. Is Barack Obama that leader? I honestly don't know. But I have no doubt whatsoever that he will be a vast improvement over a Bush third term. Will we continue to have problems? Yes. We have a conservative Supreme Court that will continue to thwart the will of the American people to restore a more just and fair society. We have a Congress with too many members on the take and too many members who have forgotten that they serve the American people. The reality is that it will take a generation to repair the damage that has been done in Washington. Many of us will be gone by them. It will be up to younger people to continue on. Their future is in peril.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Terrific rant; glad to see another post. But of course I have a couple of quibbles.

Don't accept that 1 percent 1Q growth stat. There's every reason to suspect Bush's drones would fudge that number without a second thought. But even if they didn't do that, I question their ability to accurately measure a 1 percent tick in either direction. Their yardsticks aren't that good and the U.S. economy is too big, diverse and diffused internationally.

Sen. Flip-flop McPander wouldn't follow in Bush's footsteps. He would follow in Bush's cloven-hoofsteps.

Limbaugh and Coulter aren't frauds. How dare you question their disintegrity? They are certified-genuine publicity- and money-grubbing demagogues, pathological liars and mean-spirited boors. As for Kristol, he's a glib, fact-challenged twit with connections. Hey, somebody's got to be a huge, ongoing embarrassment to the New York Times.

"Worse than negligent, but less than malicious." Sounds like the Supremes are rehearsing, in case Bush and Cheney are ever brought to justice.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Craig,

GREAT post, I like it when you speak in your OWN voice, the lead half especially.

I also agree 327 per cent with the poster above. Gee. He must really be some kind of an idiot. Like me.

(It Takes One To Know One)

Bob Tyson

2:25 AM  

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