George W. Bush

Hey, neocons, Dick Cheney is irrelevant — maybe it’s time to find someone new

It has been entertaining to watch former Vice President Dick Cheney. He’s become a “thing” again as neoconservatives raise hell about the resurgence of the Islamic militants in Iraq as the latest failure of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

Cheney appeared on Fox News last week and was grilled by host Megyn Kelly over an op-ed he and his daughter, Liz, had written in the Wall Street Journal.

“[T]ime and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir,” Kelly told Cheney. “You said there were no doubts Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You said we would be greeted as liberators. You said the Iraq insurgency was in the last throes back in 2005. And you said that after our intervention, extremists would have to, quote, ‘rethink their strategy of Jihad.’”

“Now with almost a trillion dollars spent there with 4,500 American lives lost there,” she continued, “what do you say to those who say, you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?”

Cheney, of course, didn’t back down. He defended the now-debunked intelligence showing that that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and claimed that “[i]t would have been irresponsible for us not to act” and that the Bush administration “did do the right thing” by toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Recovered From the Memory Hole: Bush Admin. Agrees to Date for Withdrawal from Iraq

George W. Bush

As the carnage escalates in Iraq, American partisans are pointing fingers and making assertions as to “who lost Iraq.” The neo-cons say that Obama lost Iraq because he pulled the troops out prematurely. Those who opposed the war from the beginning say Iraq is Bush’s mess (something this author mostly agrees with). While these debates are important, what are the facts?    

It turns out that in 2014 we have a nifty tool called Google. One of the most helpful tools is the advanced search that allows someone to enter in a range of dates (it’s the closest thing we have to a time machine). I remembered that the Bush administration set a date for withdrawal from Iraq soon after Barack Obama was elected to be the next POTUS (despite what the neo-con revisionists are trying to say now) but I didn’t remember exactly when. I set the range between November 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008 and entered “Iraqi withdrawal of US troops” in the search box.

Hey, Obama, it’s time to stop playing world policeman: Iraq, Afghanstan wars to cost taxpayers $6 trillion

Editor’s note: The author of this post isn’t advocating for a tax increase, but rather pointing out that the costs of deficit spending, whether war funding or domestic spending, are eventually passed onto future generations through higher taxes.

The Iraq and Afghan wars could cost U.S. taxpayers about $6 trillion, which would amount to $75,000 per household.

In times of war, one would think, governments increase taxes to finance their endeavors overseas.

What then-President George W. Bush did to cover the war efforts between 2001 and 2003, however, has added $2 trillion to the U.S. national debt, according to a 22-page report released by the Kennedy School of Government.

President Bush, who cut taxes during the first years of the Iraq war, decided to borrow money to pay for the military effort, adding even more than $260 billion in interest to the national debt up to date.

But that’s not the only factor tied to the exorbitant price tag of this generation’s misguided — to say the least — war on terror.

Some of the most jaw-dropping costs of the war efforts are associated with what the study called the reconstruction funding for both Afghanistan and Iraq.

The $61 billion used in reconstruction efforts in Iraq have been mostly misspent, the study suggests, and so have the $87 billion spent in reconstructing efforts in Afghanistan.

Finally: It looks like progressive Democrats are going to stand up to Barack Obama

President Barack Obama may be facing a revolt in his party over intervention in Iraq. Nearly three years after he claimed the war was over, the White House is preparing an airstrike campaign in Iraq against the ISIL, and that’s not sitting well with many of the progressives that make up the Democratic Party’s base:

Since Friday, thousands have added their names to two progressive petitions warning the president against military action in Iraq, one from San Francisco-based progressive group CREDO and the other hosted by Should Obama decide to go ahead with airstrikes in Iraq — he ruled out ground troops in a brief question-and-answer session with reporters at the White House Friday — progressive strategists told BuzzFeed Sunday the liberal grumbling could turn into an election year headache for the White House.
Leaders of CREDO, a group known for strong criticism of Obama over Keystone and other issues, are already equating Obama to his predecessor as U.S. military action in Iraq goes back on the table.

“If the president takes ownership of George W. Bush’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq by launching a new round of bombing strikes, Iraq will become Barack Obama’s war,” reads the CREDO petition.

New York Times spiked story on illegal, unconstitutional NSA warrantless wiretapping in 2004

George W. Bush NSA

The New York Times put the kibosh on a story that would have exposed the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program in 2004, according to a recent episode a PBS Frontline. (View the two-hour episode here.)

Then-executive editor Bill Keller made the decision after a series of calls and meeting with NSA and White House officials. From the Al Jazeera America report:

In spring 2004, Justice Department attorney Thomas Tamm made an anonymous call to Times reporter Eric Lichtblau after learning of the program. Tamm worked in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court — set up as an NSA watchdog to ensure its surveillance programs were legal — where he saw references to wiretaps and information that hadn’t come through FISA warrants.

“The law specifically said that if you didn’t go through the court, you were committing a federal felony,” Tamm told Frontline.

After Tamm’s call to Lichtblau, another Times reporter, James Risen, who also had knowledge of the spy program, made a call to then-NSA director Michael Hayden, Frontline reported. Risen told him he knew about the warrantless wire tapping program targeting Americans. Hayden reportedly hung up abruptly. Soon after, the White House demanded a series of meetings with the paper.

Recalling the meetings, Philip Taubman — the D.C. bureau chief at the time — described them as “Orweillian,” adding that Bush administration officials would only speak in hypotheticals: “If the U.S. had such a program, we would request that the New York Times not publish any information about it.”

Opting for oblivion: Establishment Republican donors want Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush

It’s almost like the Republican Party wants to lose in 2016. The New York Times reports that the party’s establishment donors and fundraisers will line up behind Jeb Bush should the former Florida governor decide to run for president:

In private conversations that are now seeping into public view, some of them are signaling to Mr. Christie’s camp that, should Mr. Bush enter the race, their first loyalty would be to him, not to Mr. Christie, according to interviews with more than two dozen of them.
“They feel good about Jeb,” said Barry Wynn, a fund-raiser for George W. Bush and a former chairman of the Republican Party in South Carolina. “They don’t have any questions about his integrity.”

The family name, he said, remains a powerful draw. “They love the Bush family,” Mr. Wynn said. “They love the whole package, and they feel Jeb is just a part of the package.”

In interviews, a number of the donors and fund-raisers acknowledged that the interest in Mr. Bush was a measure of the creeping doubts about Mr. Christie’s ability to either fully rebound from his troubles or to win over conservative skeptics to secure the Republican nomination.

Yeah, the Republican establishment has done such a great job picking the party’s nominee in the last two presidential cycles, why shouldn’t they get to decide it again. The picture presented of Bush is so disconnected from the reality, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Political dynasties are created one vote at a time

Bush dynasty

I have a confession to make. I am part of the problem. I have helped to create the next generation of a nepotistic political dynasty. I voted for George P. Bush.

Since there appears to be a Jeb Bush 2016 media boomlet going on, dynasticism is once again the flavor of the month. People often talk of political dynasties like the Bush, Clinton, and Kennedy families like they are imposed on the country from on high against the will of the people. As many problems as the democratic institutions of our republic have, we still elect our representatives by popular vote, whether they have a well known last name or not. And George P. Bush is the perfect example of that.

Generally opposed to political dynasties, I vowed to support whoever ran against Bush for the state office. Then I started researching the dozens of candidates on the ballot for various positions and found out that his opponent, David Watts, is a crazy person.

My opposition to xenophobia outweighs my opposition to nepotism, so I was forced to vote for George P. Bush. I could have abstained on that race, of course, but the result would have been the same. With my help, the youngest member of the Bush dynasty is now well on his way to the White House.

Does that sound presumptive? It’s not.

Ralph Nader rips Obama on civil liberties, abuse of power

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader will soon release a book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, about the realignment in American politics. Specifically, the growing distrust from both the left and the right toward businesses that often collude with the government for bailouts and special favors.

There’s another topic that Nader plans to tackle in the book — President Obama’s alarming abuse of executive power and disregard for civil liberties, which, he writes, surpasses George W. Bush:

In his new book, Ralph Nader calls for the end of “unconstitutional wars and unchecked militarism” — and lays blame on President Barack Obama for going beyond even George W. Bush.

Nader writes in “Unstoppable” that Obama “has extended the Bush doctrine by declaring his unilateral right, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, to destroy anybody, anywhere in the world, including American citizens, suspected to be engaged in alleged terrorist activities, all this vaguely and loosely defined as anti-U.S. security.”

Lack of healthcare reform a failure of Bush’s presidency

Edward Lazear, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, has written an interesting op-ed at Politico Magazine on some of the healthcare reforms developed by President George W. Bush’s administration mid-way into his second term.

Lazear presents these reforms as an alternative to Obamacare, pointing to the recent findings in the Congressional Budget Office report showing that employment will drop by 2.5 million full-time workers because of the disincentives created by health insurance subsidies in the law. He explains that the 2007 reforms would have made healthcare more cost-effective and efficient. What’s more, it would have made health insurance more accessible to Americans who couldn’t afford coverage.

“The Bush 2007 plan achieves these goals,” Lazear wrote. “The basic structure is to offer all Americans a standard tax deduction, in 2007 set at $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals. The deduction would apply to payroll tax — both employee and employer contribution — as well as to income tax.”

“Importantly, the size of the deduction would be independent of the amount spent on the plan. Any taxpayer who has a plan that includes catastrophic coverage gets the full deduction, irrespective of the plan’s cost,” he continued. “That is important because it creates the incentives to choose efficiently.

Lazear explains that the problem with the current system is that it’s tied to employment. Instead, he argues, that offering tax credits to individuals would create “appropriate incentives to shop around.”

Hollywood star: Obama is “Bush on steroids”

Gary Oldman

In a recent interview with Den of Geek, actor Gary Oldman compared the dystopian themes in the remake of RoboCop to what’s going on currently in the United States under President Barack Obama, who, the star noted, promised to be different from his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Oldman, who is known for his roles in Sid and Nancy and the Harry Potter series, said that the new iteration of RoboCop touches heavily on political issues compared to the original 1987 movie.

“This one, I think you watch it and it’s science fact — you watch it and it looks recognisable. I think the debate of security and safety versus liberty, and how, in the name of security, liberty has been encroached upon,” Oldman told Den of Geek. “[D]rones [are] a big argument at the moment, and how they’re saying troops on the ground will be robotic troops at some point,” adding that the movie also touches on “freedom of choice” and “cynicism of the media.”

Oldman took the themes in the movie a step further, explaining that one could watch the movie and easily believe that it presents a picture of what’s going on the United States under President Obama.

“But you look at American politics at the moment, and it’s one mess after another, one scandal after another,” Oldman said. “I mean, it’s falling around him. The empire is crumbling.”

“You mean it’s crumbling around Barack Obama?” asked Ryan Lambie, who conducted the interview for Den of Geek.

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