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Author Topic: The Bush Presidency  (Read 5973 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« on: January 08, 2009, 09:44:22 AM »

Virtually no one likes President Bush very much these days.  This thread is for saying why, defending him, informative articles on his record, and the like:

WSJ

By KARL ROVE

Mythmaking is in full swing as the Bush administration prepares to leave town. Among the more prominent is the assertion that the housing meltdown resulted from unbridled capitalism under a president opposed to all regulation.

 
APLike most myths, this is entertaining but fictional. In reality, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were among the principal culprits of the housing crisis, and Mr. Bush wanted to rein them in before things got out of hand.

Rather than a failure of capitalism, the housing meltdown shows what's likely to happen when government grants special privileges to favored private entities that facilitate bad actors and lousy practices.

Fannie and Freddie are "government-sponsored enterprises" (GSEs), chartered by Congress. As such, they had an implicit promise of taxpayer backing and could borrow money at rates well below competitors.

Because of this, the Bush administration warned in the budget it issued in April 2001 that Fannie and Freddie were too large and overleveraged. Their failure "could cause strong repercussions in financial markets, affecting federally insured entities and economic activity" well beyond housing.

Mr. Bush wanted to limit systemic risk by raising the GSEs' capital requirements, compelling preapproval of new activities, and limiting the size of their portfolios. Why should government regulate banks, credit unions and savings and loans, but not GSEs? Mr. Bush wanted the GSEs to be treated just like their private-sector competitors.

But the GSEs fought back. They didn't want to see the Bush reforms enacted, because that would level the playing field for their competitors. Congress finally did pass the Bush reforms, but in 2008, after Fannie and Freddie collapsed.

The largely unreported story is that to fend off regulation, the GSEs engaged in a lobbying frenzy. They hired high-profile Democrats and Republicans and spent $170 million on lobbying over the past decade. They also constructed an elaborate network of state and local lobbyists to pressure members of Congress.


When Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama, then chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, pushed for comprehensive GSE reform in 2005, Democrat Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut successfully threatened a filibuster. Later, after Fannie and Freddie collapsed, Mr. Dodd asked, "Why weren't we doing more?" He then voted for the Bush reforms that he once called "ill-advised."

But Mr. Dodd wasn't the only Democrat to heap abuse on the Bush reforms. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts defended Fannie and Freddie as "fundamentally sound" and labeled the president's proposals as "inane." He later voted for the reforms. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York dismissed Mr. Bush's "safety and soundness concerns" as "a straw man." "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," was the helpful advice of both Sen. Thomas Carper of Delaware and Rep. Maxine Waters of California. Rep. Kendrick Meeks of Florida berated a Bush official at a hearing, saying, "I am just pissed off" at the administration for raising the issue.

Democrats had ready allies among lenders accustomed to GSEs buying their risky mortgages. For example, Angelo Mozilo, CEO of Countrywide Financial, complained that "an overly cumbersome regulatory process" would "reduce, or even eliminate, the incentives for the GSEs and their primary market partners."

It took Fannie and Freddie over three decades to acquire $2 trillion in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Together, they held $2.1 trillion in 2000. By 2005, the two GSEs held $4 trillion, up 92% in just five years. By 2008, they'd grown another 24%, to nearly $5 trillion. They held almost half of all American mortgages.

The more the president pushed for reform, the more they bought. Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute and Charles Calomiris of the Columbia Business School suggest $1 trillion of this debt was subprime and "liar loans," almost all bought between 2005 and 2007. This bulk-up in risky paper made it possible for banks to lend imprudently on a massive scale.

Some critics blame Mr. Bush because he supported broadening homeownership. But Mr. Bush's goal was for people to own homes they could afford, not ones made accessible by reckless lenders who off-loaded their risk to GSEs.

The housing meltdown is largely a story of greed and irresponsibility made possible by government privilege. If Democrats had granted the Bush administration the regulatory powers it sought, the housing crisis wouldn't be nearly as severe and the economy as a whole would be better off.

That's why some mythmakers are so intent on denying that Mr. Bush worked to rein in the GSEs. But facts are stubborn things, as Ronald Reagan used to say, and in this instance, the facts support Mr. Bush and offer a harsh judgment on key Democrats. Perhaps that explains why so many in the media haven't told the real story.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

 
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G M
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2009, 10:09:37 AM »

**Bottom line, there are a mountain of dead hajis that'll never threaten the free world, Thanks to President Bush. Allah has probably had to churn out 72 virgins at a record rate.**
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DougMacG
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2009, 08:45:09 PM »

I think it was Jay Leno who said Bush's big accomplishment was bringing an end to the drought in New Orleans...

The points that Karl Rove made about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are true.  But he did not see what was coming and HOLLAR AND SCREAM and use the bully pulpit or call members of his own party on the carpet until he got it done.  So he gets no credit for making a few comments on the correct side of the issue.  He was not elected pundit; he was Commander in Chief and leader of the free world.

Crafty wrote: "Virtually no one likes President Bush very much these days."  - I don't find the 'do you approve, yes or no' polling to be helpful.  It mixes people like me who may disapprove for one set of reasons with people like Ralph Nader for example who may disapprove just as strongly for opposite reasons.  Instead I prefer to choose whether he was on the right or wrong side of each issue, in my judgment, one by one.

On the positive side: 1) very controversial but I think the Iraq and Afghan efforts were amazing accomplishments that included vision and resolve.  Even if Iraq eventually fails, it was a heroic feat by the American soldiers to depose this thug and give millions of people a shot at peace and freedom.  Certainly could not and would not have been done without Bush.

2) Same goes for bold uses of technology and executive powers used to put in place the surveillance methods that have kept us safe for this long.  Very controversial, but IMO he got it right.

3) The tax rate cuts were successful beyond all predictions, discussed elsewhere on the forum recently.

4) Samuel Alito and especially Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biggest failures, time and space permitting:

1) Failure or inability to communicate even when he was doing things right.  Allowing his own popularity to tank crippled the presidency in the later years.

2) Spending and his failure to ever stand up to his own party.  There is an intentional division of powers between branches of government and he was wrong to go along with spending that was excessive - understatement.

3) Within spending was the expansion of federal powers and the unfunded liabilities.  Examples: prescription drugs medicare benefits.  Assuming the constitution puts the feds in charge of meds, then maybe it was a good program, but it doesn't.  If the constitution granted the federal government the responsibility to run the schools, then maybe 'No Child Left Behind' was a good program - but it doesn't.

4) Immigration reform - This was bungled.  Wrong program done in the wrong order - and never got it done.  My idea would be to cover the closing of illegal crossings with an expansion of immigration in the legal type, recruiting workers in skilled and educated fields where we need help, not just from one culture and not just mindless labor beneath the dignity of our local workforce.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2009, 08:52:14 PM by DougMacG » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2009, 11:55:29 PM »

Doug:

Thank you for raising the level of the discussion.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2009, 11:47:25 AM »

Marc,  Thanks for the kind words.  Feel free to revise or delete as we drift back to the abortion 'discussion'. 
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G M
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2009, 12:24:48 PM »

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3965454/George-W-Bush-winning-the-war-on-terror.html

George W Bush: winning the war on terror
Europe's political elites are no doubt salivating at the prospect of George W. Bush departing the White House in January.
 
By Nile Gardiner
Last Updated: 6:23PM GMT 26 Dec 2008


Criticism of George W Bush is often driven by a dislike of his personality, not analysis of his achievements Photo: EPA
On much of the world stage, President Bush has been widely reviled as one of the worst U.S. leaders of modern times, and it is hard to think of an American president who has received a worse press since Richard Nixon.
To his critics, who are legion on both sides of the Atlantic, the war in Iraq has been a monumental disaster, at a cost of more than 4,000 American lives and at least $500 billion. They see the war on terror, with the notorious Guantanamo prison camp as its symbol, as a catalyst for radicalizing tens of millions of Muslims that has made the United States a pariah in the Middle East.
The war in Afghanistan, they argue, is going badly in the face of a resurgent Taliban, the cost of Washington pouring most of its resources into Iraq. Bush, the theory goes, failed to keep his eye on the ball, weakening the fight against al-Qaeda through his supposed obsession with Iraq. He is also accused of undermining America's standing in the world, adopting a unilateralist foreign policy and refusing to work with its Allies.
Some of the criticism of Bush's foreign policy is fair. The early stages of the occupation of Iraq were poorly handled and there was a distinct lack of post-war planning. America's public diplomacy efforts have been poor or even non-existent, with little serious attempt to combat the stunning rise of anti-Americanism. More recently, Washington's failure to stand up more aggressively to Moscow after its invasion of Georgia projected weakness and indecision.
Much of the condemnation of his policies though is driven by a venomous hatred of Bush's personality and leadership style, rather than an objective assessment of his achievements. Ten or twenty years from now, historians will view Bush's actions on the world stage in a more favourable light. America's 43rd president did after all directly liberate more people (over 60 million) from tyranny than any leader since Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Widely seen as his biggest foreign policy error, the decision to invade Iraq could ultimately prove to have been a masterstroke. Today the world is witnessing the birth of the first truly democratic state in the Middle East outside of Israel. Over eight million voted in Iraq's parliamentary elections in 2005, and the region's first free Muslim society may become a reality. Iraq might not be Turkey, but it is a powerful demonstration that freedom can flourish in the embers of the most brutal and barbaric of dictatorships.
The success of the surge in Iraq will go down in history as a turning point in the war against al-Qaeda. The stunning defeat of the insurgency was a major blow both militarily and psychologically for the terror network. The West's most feared enemy suffered thousands of losses in Iraq, including many of their most senior commanders, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Abu Qaswarah. It was the most successful counter-insurgency operation anywhere in the world since the British victory in Malaya in 1960.
The broader war against Islamist terrorism has also been a success. There has not been a single terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and for all the global condemnation of pre-emptive strikes, Guantanamo and the use of rendition against terror suspects, the fact remains that Bush's aggressive strategy actually worked.
Significantly, there have been no successful terrorist attacks in Europe since the July 2005 London bombings, in large part due to the cooperation between U.S., British and other Western intelligence agencies. American intelligence has proved vital in helping prevent an array of planned terror attacks in the UK, a striking demonstration of the value to Britain of its close ties to Washington.
President Bush, in contrast to both his father, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton before him, had a crystal clear, instinctive understanding of the importance of the Anglo-American Special Relationship. Tony Blair may well have been labeled Bush's "poodle" over his support for the war in Iraq, but his partnership with George W. Bush marked the high point of the Anglo-American alliance since the heady days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
The decision by Bush, with Blair's support, to sweep the Taliban out of Afghanistan was a brilliant move, one that not all U.S. presidents would have taken. A weaker leader would have gone to the United Nations Security Council and sought a negotiated settlement with Kabul. It was a risky gambit that was vindicated by a stunning military victory in the space of a month, with a small number of U.S. ground forces involved.
Bush also made a firm commitment to defending the fledgling Afghan government, and succeeded in building a 41-nation NATO-led coalition. The notion that the resurgence of the Taliban is America's failure is nonsense. The U.S. has more than 30,000 troops in the country under U.S. or NATO command, making up over half of all Allied forces there. Continental European allies have simply failed to step up to the plate with more troops, with almost the entire war-fighting burden placed on the U.S., UK and other English-speaking countries. Afghanistan is not a failure of American leadership, it is a damning indictment of an increasingly pacifist Europe that simply will not fight.
President Bush also recognized the importance of re-shaping the NATO alliance for the 21st Century, backing an ambitious program of NATO expansion, culminating in the addition of seven new members in 2004. He also had the foresight to support the development of a missile defence system in Europe, successfully negotiating deals with both Poland and the Czech Republic. Bush was right to back the eventual inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, and both would be well on their way to membership today were it not for the feckless decision of France and Germany to side with Russia in blocking their path to entry.
Bush began his presidency primarily as a domestic leader. He ends it as a war leader who has left a huge imprint internationally. His greatest legacy, the global war against Islamist terror, has left the world a safer place, and his decision to project global power and military might against America's enemies has made it harder for Islamist terrorists to strike against London, Paris or Berlin.
Bush's decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power will make it less likely that rogue regimes, Iran and North Korea included, will seek to militarily challenge American power. The memory of the invasion of Iraq and the unequivocal message that sent is by far the most effective deterrent to Tehran developing a nuclear weapon.
If superpowers do not demonstrate an ability and a willingness to wield power (as Britain did on numerous occasions at the height of the Empire) their hegemony will be increasingly challenged. President Bush exercised U.S. military power to stunning effect in both Iraq and Afghanistan, an important reminder that America was still a force to be reckoned with after the 1990s humiliation of Somalia and the half-hearted missile strikes against Bin Laden in Sudan. In an age of growing threats and challenges, the projection of hard power matters, and America's next president would be wise to take heed.

Nile Gardiner is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2009, 04:23:36 PM »

History will show that George W Bush was right
The American lady who called to see if I would appear on her radio programme was specific. "We're setting up a debate," she said sweetly, "and we want to know from your perspective as a historian whether George W Bush was the worst president of the 20th century, or might he be the worst president in American history?"
 
By Andrew Roberts
Last Updated: 7:47PM GMT 14 Jan 2009
Comments 0 | Comment on this article

"I think he's a good president," I told her, which seemed to dumbfound her, and wreck my chances of appearing on her show.
In the avalanche of abuse and ridicule that we are witnessing in the media assessments of President Bush's legacy, there are factors that need to be borne in mind if we are to come to a judgment that is not warped by the kind of partisan hysteria that has characterised this issue on both sides of the Atlantic.

The first is that history, by looking at the key facts rather than being distracted by the loud ambient noise of the
24-hour news cycle, will probably hand down a far more positive judgment on Mr Bush's presidency than the immediate, knee-jerk loathing of the American and European elites.
At the time of 9/11, which will forever rightly be regarded as the defining moment of the presidency, history will look in vain for anyone predicting that the Americans murdered that day would be the very last ones to die at the hands of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in the US from that day to this.

The decisions taken by Mr Bush in the immediate aftermath of that ghastly moment will be pored over by historians for the rest of our lifetimes. One thing they will doubtless conclude is that the measures he took to lock down America's borders, scrutinise travellers to and from the United States, eavesdrop upon terrorist suspects, work closely with international intelligence agencies and take the war to the enemy has foiled dozens, perhaps scores of would-be murderous attacks on America. There are Americans alive today who would not be if it had not been for the passing of the Patriot Act. There are 3,000 people who would have died in the August 2005 airline conspiracy if it had not been for the superb inter-agency co-operation demanded by Bush
after 9/11.

The next factor that will be seen in its proper historical context in years to come will be the true reasons for invading Afghanistan in October 2001 and Iraq in April 2003. The conspiracy theories believed by many (generally, but not always) stupid people – that it was "all about oil", or the securing of contracts for the US-based Halliburton corporation, etc – will slip into the obscurity from which they should never have emerged had it not been for comedian-filmmakers such as Michael Moore.
Instead, the obvious fact that there was a good case for invading Iraq based on 14 spurned UN resolutions, massive human rights abuses and unfinished business following the interrupted invasion of 1991 will be recalled.

Similarly, the cold light of history will absolve Bush of the worst conspiracy-theory accusation: that he knew there were no WMDs in Iraq. History will show that, in common with the rest of his administration, the British Government, Saddam's own generals, the French, Chinese, Israeli and Russian intelligence agencies, and of course SIS and the CIA, everyone assumed that a murderous dictator does not voluntarily destroy the WMD arsenal he has used against his own people. And if he does, he does not then expel the UN weapons inspectorate looking for proof of it, as he did in 1998 and again in 2001.

Mr Bush assumed that the Coalition forces would find mass graves, torture chambers, evidence for the gross abuse of the UN's food-for-oil programme, but also WMDs. He was right about each but the last, and history will place him in the mainstream of Western, Eastern and Arab thinking on the matter.

History will probably, assuming it is researched and written objectively, congratulate Mr Bush on the fact that whereas in 2000 Libya was an active and vicious member of what he was accurately to describe as an "axis of evil" of rogue states willing to employ terrorism to gain its ends, four years later Colonel Gaddafi's WMD programme was sitting behind glass in a museum in Oakridge, Tennessee.

With his characteristic openness and at times almost self-defeating honesty, Mr Bush has been the first to acknowledge his mistakes – for example, tardiness over Hurricane Katrina – but there are some he made not because he was a ranting Right-winger, but because he was too keen to win bipartisan support. The invasion of Iraq should probably have taken place months earlier, but was held up by the attempt to find support from UN security council members, such as Jacques Chirac's France, that had ties to Iraq and hostility towards the Anglo-Americans.

History will also take Mr Bush's verbal fumbling into account, reminding us that Ronald Reagan also mis-spoke regularly, but was still a fine president. The first
MBA president, who had a higher grade-point average at Yale than John Kerry, Mr Bush's supposed lack of intellect will be seen to be a myth once the papers in his Presidential Library in the Southern Methodist University in Dallas are available.

Films such as Oliver North's W, which portray him as a spitting, oafish frat boy who eats with his mouth open and is rude to servants, will be revealed by the diaries and correspondence of those around him to be absurd travesties, of this charming, interesting, beautifully mannered history buff who, were he not the most powerful man in the world, would be a fine person to have as a pal.

Instead of Al Franken, history will listen to Bob Geldof praising Mr Bush's efforts over Aids and malaria in Africa; or to Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, who told him last week: "The people of India deeply love you." And certainly to the women of Afghanistan thanking him for saving them from Taliban abuse, degradation and tyranny.
When Abu Ghraib is mentioned, history will remind us that it was the Bush Administration that imprisoned those responsible for the horrors. When water-boarding is brought up, we will see that it was only used on three suspects, one of whom was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda's chief of operational planning, who divulged vast amounts of information that saved hundreds of innocent lives. When extraordinary renditions are queried, historians will ask how else the world's most dangerous terrorists should have been transported. On scheduled flights?

The credit crunch, brought on by the Democrats in Congress insisting upon home ownership for credit-unworthy people, will initially be blamed on Bush, but the perspective of time will show that the problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started with the deregulation of the Clinton era. Instead Bush's very
un-ideological but vast rescue package of $700 billion (£480 billion) might well be seen as lessening the impact of the squeeze, and putting America in position to be the first country out of recession, helped along by his huge tax-cut packages since 2000.
Sneered at for being "simplistic" in his reaction to 9/11, Bush's visceral responses to the attacks of a fascistic, totalitarian death cult will be seen as having been substantially the right ones.

Mistakes are made in every war, but when virtually the entire military, diplomatic and political establishment in the West opposed it, Bush insisted on the surge in Iraq that has been seen to have brought the war around, and set Iraq on the right path. Today its GDP is 30 per cent higher than under Saddam, and it is free of a brutal dictator and his rapist sons.
The number of American troops killed during the eight years of the War against Terror has been fewer than those slain capturing two islands in the Second World War, and in Britain we have lost fewer soldiers than on a normal weekend on the Western Front. As for civilians, there have been fewer Iraqis killed since the invasion than in 20 conflicts since the Second World War.

Iraq has been a victory for the US-led coalition, a fact that the Bush-haters will have to deal with when perspective finally – perhaps years from now – lends objectivity to this fine man's record.

Andrew Roberts's 'Masters and Commanders: How Roosevelt, Churchill, Marshall and Alanbrooke Won the War in the West' is published by Penguin

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/4241865/History-will-show-that-George-W-Bush-was-right.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2009, 11:23:49 PM »

President Bush is leaving office amid the worst recession in 25 years, and naturally his economic policies are getting the blame. But before we move on to the era of Obamanomics, it's important to understand what really happened during the Bush years -- not least so we don't repeat the same mistakes.

 
APMr. Bush has tried to explain events with one of his populist aphorisms: "Wall Street got drunk and we got a hangover." The remark is ruefully amusing and has an element of truth. But it also reveals how little the President comprehends about the source of his Administration's economic undoing. To extend his metaphor, Who does Mr. Bush think was serving the liquor?

Democrats like to claim the 1990s were a golden age while the Bush years have been disastrous. But as the nearby chart shows, Mr. Bush inherited a recession. The dot-com bubble had burst in 2000, and the economy was sinking even before the shock of 9/11, the corporate scandals and Sarbanes-Oxley. Mr. Bush's original tax-cut proposal was designed in part as insurance against such a downturn.

 However, to win over Senate Democrats, Mr. Bush both phased in the tax rate reductions and settled for politically popular but economically feckless tax rebate checks. Those checks provided a short-term lift to consumer spending but no real boost to risk-taking or business investment, which was still recovering from the tech implosion. By late 2002, the economy was struggling again -- which is when Mr. Bush proposed his second round of tax cuts.

This time the tax rate reductions were immediate, and they included cuts in capital gains and dividends designed to spur business incentives. As the tax cuts became law in late May 2003, the recovery began in earnest. Growth averaged nearly 4% over the next three years, the jobless rate fell from 6.3% in June 2003 to 4.4% in October 2006, and real wages began to grow despite rising food and energy prices. The 2003 tax cut was the high point of Bush economic policy.

Mr. Bush's spending record is less admirable, especially during his first term. He indulged the majority Republicans on Capitol Hill, refusing to veto overspending and giving in to their demand that the Medicare prescription drug benefit include only modest market reforms. Even those reforms have helped to restrain drug costs, but now Democrats are set to repeal them and the main Bush legacy will be the new taxpayer liabilities.


Nonetheless, the budget deficit did fall mid-decade, as tax revenues soared with the expansion. In fiscal 2007, the deficit hit $161 billion, or an economically trivial 1.2% of GDP. That seems like a distant memory after the bailout blowout of the last few months, but the point is that the Bush tax cuts aren't responsible for the deficits. Before the recession hit, federal tax revenues had climbed above their postwar average of 18.3% of GDP.

Which brings us back to Mr. Bush's "hangover." While his Administration was handling the fiscal levers, the Federal Reserve was pushing the monetary accelerator to the floor. In reaction to the dot-com implosion and the collapse in business investment, Alan Greenspan rapidly cut interest rates to spur housing and consumer spending. In June 2003, even as the tax cuts were passing and the economy took off, he cut the fed funds rate to 1% and kept it there for a year.

His stimulus worked -- far too well. The money boom created a commodity price spike as well as a subsidy for credit across the economy. Economist John Taylor of Stanford has analyzed the magnitude of this monetary mistake in a new paper that assesses government's contribution to the financial panic. The second chart compares the actual fed funds rate this decade with what it would have been had the Fed stayed within the policy lanes of the previous 20 years.

 "This extra easy policy was responsible for accelerating the housing boom and thereby ultimately leading to the housing bust," writes Mr. Taylor, who worked in the first-term Bush Treasury, though not on monetary affairs, and is known for the "Taylor rule" for determining how central banks should adjust interest rates.

By pushing all of this excess credit into the economy, the Fed created a housing and mortgage mania that Wall Street was only too happy to be part of. Yes, many on the Street abandoned their normal risk standards. But they were goaded by an enormous subsidy for debt. Wall Street did get "drunk" but Washington had set up the open bar.

For that matter, most everyone else was also drinking the free booze: from homebuyers who put nothing down for a loan, to a White House that bragged about record home ownership, to the Democrats who promoted and protected Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Those two companies helped turbocharge the mania by using a taxpayer subsidy to attract trillions of dollars of foreign capital into U.S. housing.) No one wanted the party to end, though sooner or later it had to.

In Today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Mugging Bank of America 
TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Declarations: Suspend Your Disbelief
– Peggy NoonanPotomac Watch: Meet Obama's Loyal Opposition
– Kimberley A. Strassel

COMMENTARY

The Weekend Interview: Jim Cooper
– Collin LevyEngaging North Korea Didn't Work for Japan
– Melanie KirkpatrickLeave the New Deal in the History Books
– Mark LeveyLet's Renew America Together
– Colin PowellCross Country: Sports Mania Is a Poor Substitute for Economic Success
– Jerry BowyerWhile the Fed is most to blame, the Administration encouraged the credit excesses. It populated the Fed Board of Governors with Mr. Greenspan's protégés, notably Ben Bernanke and Donald Kohn, who helped to create the mania and even now deny all responsibility. Meantime, Mr. Bush's three Treasury Secretaries knew little about the subject, and if anything were inclined to support easier money and a weaker dollar in the name of reducing the trade deficit. We know because numerous Bush officials sneered at the monetary warnings in these columns going back to 2003.

When the bust finally arrived with a vengeance in 2007, the political timing couldn't have been worse. Mr. Bush tried to rally with one more fiscal "stimulus," but he repeated his 2001 mistake and agreed to another round of tax rebates. They did little good. The Administration might have prevented the worst of the panic had it sought some sort of TARP-like financing for the banking system months or a year earlier than it did last autumn. But neither the Treasury nor the FDIC seemed to appreciate how big the banking system's problems were. Their financial triage was well meaning but came too late and in a frenzy that invited mistakes.

This history is crucial to understand, both for the Democrats who now assume the levers of power and for Republicans who will want to return to power some day. Mr. Bush and his team did many things right after inheriting one bubble. They were ruined by monetary excess that created a second, more dangerous credit mania. They forgot one of the main lessons of Reaganomics, which is the importance of stable money.

 
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G M
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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2009, 09:58:50 AM »


January 18, 2009
Bush Showed U.S. Is No Paper Tiger

By Debra Saunders
From the day President Bush took office, the long knives were out for him -- in ways they will not (and should not) be out for President-elect Barack Obama. The chattering class saw Dubya as a walking style crime in a cowboy suit. They hit Bush for everything -- for the way he mangled syntax, for the books he read and because he worked out too much.

Note that now that the buff Obama is taking office, stories gushing about Obama's daily workouts flood the channels. Oh, yes, and the same people who belittled Bush for sending troops to war even though he only served in the National Guard somehow do not seem to notice Obama's utter lack of military experience.

To trash Bush was to belong. There was little upside in supporting Bush, even if you had supported his agenda.

Most of the Democratic candidates for president in 2004 and 2008 voted for the Patriot Act -- and then campaigned against it. They voted for the resolution authorizing U.S. military force in Iraq -- then bolted from the war itself. Likewise with No Child Left Behind. Somehow Bush was the guy who looked bad as he withstood the heat while his caving critics preened.

When the Dems were pushing for a humiliating retreat from Iraq and opinion polls supported troop withdrawal, Bush instead pushed for a troop surge that has made all the difference. Vice President-elect Joe Biden -- who voted for the war before he was against it -- visited Iraq last week. While there, he promised the Iraqis that America would not withdraw troops in a way that undermines Iraqi security. Yet that was exactly what his party advocated a year ago.

Does Bush get any credit? No, just as he has received little credit for efforts that have prolonged millions of lives, thanks to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Forget considerable goodwill in India and Africa. His good deeds, you see, don't fit with the prescribed story line that, with Bush in charge, the rest of the world hates us.

Yes, the man also stumbled, and others paid for his mistakes more dearly than he has.

Under Bush's watch, Osama bin Laden evaded capture.

Worse, Bush's slowness in changing strategies in Iraq suggested a presidency in a fetal position when Bush should have been managing the store and demanding results.

Weapons of mass destruction? The CIA believed Saddam Hussein had them.

So did Hussein's lieutenants. I did, too. The conventional wisdom was wrong, but Bush can take comfort in the knowledge that without his efforts, Hussein almost certainly would have outlasted U.N. sanctions, armed himself to the hilt and wreaked unknown havoc in and beyond Iraq.

There is no comfort -- there is no upside -- to be had in the $810 billion Bush bailout. The Bush administration should have been on alert to contain the damage from the housing-price drop and mortgage foreclosures; instead, it allowed the credit crunch to reach a tipping point and roll over the U.S. economy. It was so avoidable. It was like the Katrina trailers all over again -- except this preventable and unnatural disaster left toxic trailers strewn across America.

There's an out-to-lunch sloppiness to the whole mess. It feels as if the barrage of criticism made the Bush engine seize up and stop running the business of the nation.

America's first MBA president turned out to be a poor administrator, more interested in ideas than making the machinery work. He was good at fighting -- and winning -- ideological battles in Congress, but he never demonstrated a commitment to making his own administration deliver as promised. In putting loyalty at a premium, he overlooked incompetence.

How will history judge Bush?

Osama bin Laden once told Time magazine that the U.S. withdrawal from Somalia after the murder of 18 U.S. troops on a humanitarian mission made him realize "more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat." Members of al-Qaida have told intelligence officials they never thought Washington would respond to the 9/11 attacks as ferociously as Bush responded. They expected a few bombs to be dropped, no boots on the ground, a swift withdrawal if casualties mounted -- the usual short-attention span foreign policy that warped Lebanon, the Persian Gulf War, Somalia, the African embassy bombings and the attack on the destroyer Cole.

Bush showed America's enemies a country that does not retreat in fear, does not bomb with impunity, and most important, does not desert civilians or foreign governments that trust us. If you think that doesn't matter, look at Libya, which disarmed its weapons program. And see how much easier Obama's presidency will be because Bush kept the faith.

Osama bin Laden may live, most likely quivering in a cave. And no one thinks America is a paper tiger anymore.

dsaunders@sfchronicle.com
Copyright 2009, Creators Syndicate Inc.

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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2009, 12:40:10 PM »


Bush commutes sentences of former US border agents

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer Deb Riechmann, Associated Press Writer 10 mins ago

WASHINGTON – In his final acts of clemency, President George W. Bush on Monday commuted the prison sentences of two former
U.S. Border Patrol agents whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited fierce debate about illegal immigration.
Bush's decision to commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who tried to cover up the shooting, was welcomed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. They had long argued that the agents were merely doing their jobs, defending the American border against criminals. They also maintained that the more than 10-year prison sentences the pair was given were too harsh.

Rancor over their convictions, sentencing and firings has simmered ever since the shooting occurred in 2005.

Ramos and Compean became a rallying point among conservatives and on talk shows where their supporters called them heroes. Nearly the entire bipartisan congressional delegation from Texas and other lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle pleaded with Bush to grant them clemency.

Bush didn't pardon the men for their crimes, but decided instead to commute their prison sentences because he believed they were excessive and that they had already suffered the loss of their jobs, freedom and reputations, a senior administration official said.

The action by the president, who believes the border agents received fair trials and that the verdicts were just, does not diminish the seriousness of their crimes, the official said.

Compean and Ramos, who have served about two years of their sentences, are expected to be released from prison within the next two months.

They were convicted of shooting admitted drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Davila in the buttocks as he fled across the Rio Grande, away from an abandoned van load of marijuana. The border agents argued during their trials that they believed the smuggler was armed and that they shot him in self defense. The prosecutor in the case said there was no evidence linking the smuggler to the van of marijuana. The prosecutor also said the border agents didn't report the shooting and tampered with evidence by picking up several spent shell casings.

The agents were fired after their convictions on several charges, including assault with a dangerous weapon and with serious bodily injury, violation of civil rights and obstruction of justice. All their convictions, except obstruction of justice, were upheld on appeal.
With the new acts of clemency, Bush has granted a total of 189 pardons and 11 commutations.

That's fewer than half as many as Presidents Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan issued during their two-term tenures. Bush technically has until noon on Tuesday when President-elect Barack Obama is sworn into office to exercise his executive pardon authority, but presidential advisers said no more were forthcoming.

The president had made most of his pardon decisions on low-profile cases, but his batch in December created controversy.
Isaac Robert Toussie of Brooklyn, N.Y, convicted of making false statements to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and of mail fraud, was among 19 people Bush pardoned just before Christmas. But after learning in news reports that Toussie's father had donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Republican Party a few months ago, as well as other information, the president reversed his decision on Toussie's case.

The White House said the decision to revoke the pardon — a step unheard of in recent memory — was based on information about the extent and nature of Toussie's prior criminal offenses, and that neither the White House counsel's office nor the president had been aware of a political contribution by Toussie's father and wanted to avoid creating an appearance of impropriety.

In an earlier high-profile official act of forgiveness, Bush saved Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, from serving prison time in the case of the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice. Bush could still grant him a full pardon, although Libby has not applied for one.

Bush's batches of pardons, however, have never included any well-known convicts like junk bond dealer Michael Milken, who sought a pardon on securities fraud charges, or two politicians convicted of public corruption — former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., and four-term Democratic Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards — who wanted Bush to shorten their prison terms.

Clinton issued a total of 457 in eight years in office. Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, issued 77 in four years. Reagan issued 406 in eight years, and President Carter issued 563 in four years. Since World War II, the largest number of pardons and commutations — 2,031 — came from President Truman, who served 82 days short of eight years.
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2009, 07:10:03 PM »

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3658858,00.html

Peres to Bush: If only what you did to Saddam was done to Hitler
Published:    01.19.09, 18:49 / Israel News

Outgoing US President George Bush telephoned President Shimon Peres bidding him farewell on the occasion of the end of Bush's term as president Tuesday.
 
Peres said to Bush, "If the world had acted against Hitler the way you acted against Saddam Hussein, the lives of millions would have been saved." The president added, "You made a historic contribution to the entire world and to the Jewish people in particular. We will treasure this forever and will never forget it." (Ronen Medzini)
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WSJ
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2009, 09:43:22 AM »

In a few hours, George W. Bush will walk out of the Oval Office for the last time as president. As he leaves, he carries with him the near-universal opprobrium of the permanent class that inhabits our nation's capital. Yet perhaps the most important reason for this unpopularity is the one least commented on.

 
APHere's a hint: It's not because of his failures. To the contrary, Mr. Bush's disfavor in Washington owes more to his greatest success. Simply put, there are those who will never forgive Mr. Bush for not losing a war they had all declared unwinnable.

Here in the afterglow of the turnaround led by Gen. David Petraeus, it's easy to forget what the smart set was saying two years ago -- and how categorical they all were in their certainty. The president was a simpleton, it was agreed. Didn't he know that Iraq was a civil war, and the only answer was to get out as fast as we could?

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- the man who will be sworn in as vice president today -- didn't limit himself to his own opinion. Days before the president announced the surge, Joe Biden suggested to the Washington Post he knew the president's people had also concluded the war was lost. They were, he said, just trying to "keep it from totally collapsing" until they could "hand it off to the next guy."

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For his part, on the night Mr. Bush announced the surge, Barack Obama said he was "not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Three months after that, before the surge had even started, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pronounced the war in Iraq "lost." These and similar comments, moreover, were amplified by a media echo chamber even more absolute in its sense of hopelessness about Iraq and its contempt for the president.

For many of these critics, the template for understanding Iraq was Vietnam -- especially after things started to get tough. In terms of the wars themselves, of course, there is almost no parallel between Vietnam and Iraq: The enemies are different, the fighting on the ground is different, the involvement of other powers is different, and so on.

Still, the operating metaphor of Vietnam has never been military. For the most part, it is political. And in this realm, we saw history repeat itself: a failure of nerve among the same class that endorsed the original action.

As with Vietnam, with Iraq the failure of nerve was most clear in Congress. For example, of the five active Democratic senators who sought the nomination, four voted in favor of the Iraqi intervention before discovering their antiwar selves.

As in Vietnam too, rather than finding their judgment questioned, those who flip-flopped on the war were held up as voices of reason. In a memorable editorial advocating a pullout, the New York Times gave voice to the chilling possibilities that this new realism was willing to accept in the name of bringing our soldiers home.

"Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave," read the editorial. "There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide." Even genocide. With no hint of irony, the Times nevertheless went on to conclude that it would be even worse if we stayed.

This is Vietnam thinking. And the president never accepted it. That was why his critics went ape when, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he touched on the killing fields and exodus of boat people that followed America's humiliating exit off an embassy rooftop. As the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti noted, Mr. Bush had appropriated one of their most cherished analogies -- only he drew very different lessons from it.

Mr. Bush's success in Iraq is equally infuriating, because it showed he was right and they wrong. Many in Washington have not yet admitted that, even to themselves. Mr. Obama has. We know he has because he has elected to keep Mr. Bush's secretary of defense -- not something you do with a failure.

Mr. Obama seems aware that, at the end of the day, he will not be judged by his predecessor's approval ratings. Instead, he will soon find himself under pressure to measure up to two Bush achievements: a strategic victory in Iraq, and the prevention of another attack on America's home soil. As he rises to this challenge, our new president will learn that when you make a mistake, the keepers of the Beltway's received orthodoxies will make you pay dearly.

But it will not even be close to the price you pay for ignoring their advice and succeeding.
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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2009, 01:52:44 PM »

***As he rises to this challenge, our new president will learn that when you make a mistake, the keepers of the Beltway's received orthodoxies will make you pay dearly.***  I have feeling BO will be the new teflon guy.
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« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2009, 10:59:14 AM »

I give Bush credit for lowering marginal tax rates and achieving amazing results.  Unfortunately the cuts were temporary and the results were squandered with spending and government expansion that is nearly always permanent.  My biggest complaint was Bush's inability to communicate positions and policies even when he was in the right.

This author/economist is a little harsher on the Bush Presidency "...bringing discredit to economic theories that he sadly never implemented."  He blasts Bush for TARP and he correctly points out what Crafty has stated previously, that government spending is a tax on the economy in itself.  Bush leaned toward free trade but his results were the opposite, new tariffs were imposed while new trade agreements failed. 

Supply Siders Should Eagerly Bid Bush Adieu
By John Tamny  http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2009/01/supply_siders_should_eagerly_b.html

Ever since the rebirth of classical economic theory as "supply-side" economics in the late '70s, the mainstream media have perverted its meaning as having solely to do with lower tax rates leading to higher federal revenues. And while empirical evidence shows the latter to be true, the real meaning of supply-side economics is actually quite expansive.

Measures passed by governments that reduce the barriers to work effort are what constitute true supply-side, or classical economic policy. Simplified, governments in a broad sense can negatively increase the barriers to work in four ways: through more regulation, tariffs on trade, higher penalties (taxes) on work, and currency devaluation. If they do, economic stagnation is frequently the result, while supply-side policies meant to enhance growth once again involve reductions in those wedges placed between work and reward.

And with President George W. Bush set to depart the White House today, it’s perhaps useful to look at his policies through a supply-side prism. Sadly, for a president who ran as an economic conservative, the economic policies forwarded by the Bush administration had very little to do with supply-side economics. Indeed, if his policies are to be viewed objectively, it should be said that adherents of the classical model should be eager to see Bush go.

With regard to regulations, they first and foremost inhibit natural economic activity that might otherwise be different absent rules set by the government. In one sense, Bush didn’t do too badly. When it came to the growth of the federal registry, pages under Bush rose 11 percent versus 21 percent during the presidency of Bill Clinton. On the other hand, the pages in the registry actually declined 12 percent under Ronald Reagan, and as Bush ran as Reagan’s heir, it’s fair to say he failed in this area.

Worse, not all regulations are the same in terms of how they deaden economic spirits. In that sense, Bush failed for eagerly signing Sarbanes-Oxley, a law that was successful only insofar as it expanded the need for legal and accounting services. Far from an economy enhancer, SarBox to a high degree turned otherwise entrepreneurial CEOs into slaves of accountants and lawyers. Failure was criminalized, and as such, the very risks that need to be taken by companies in order to grow were subsumed by draconian new rules that elevated economic facilitators over producers.

The Bush administration also foisted on the economy the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a program billed as capitalism’s savior. Given the collapsed shares of its alleged beneficiaries, it would be more true to say that government investment is always and everywhere an economic retardant given the basic truth that government money never comes without strings attached. In short, with the government now an owner of our banking system due to irrational fears suggesting the system was on the verge of collapse, our financial system will be weakened for the foreseeable future based on past and future certainty that its investment won’t be passive. In time, TARP will make the Community Reinvestment Act and other unfortunate regulations seem miniscule by comparison.

On the trade front, the departing head of one of Washington’s most prominent think tanks recently said despite Bush's many mistakes, he was strong when it came to free trade. Apparently this person missed the imposition of steel and soft-wood lumber tariffs early in Bush’s tenure, shrimp tariffs later on, and the administration's frequent jawboning of China for its allegedly weak yuan. Some might point to Bush’s aggressive efforts to pass a trade agreement with Columbia, along with positive rhetoric with regard to the latest (and failed) GATT round, but through the imposition of earlier tariffs the U.S. lost a lot of credibility that made future trade agreements less doable.

Perhaps worst of all, Bush caved when GM and Chrysler threatened bankruptcy absent a federal bailout. Suffice it to say, taxpayer subsidization of our ailing carmakers is but a tariff by a different name, and it might foretell a negative response from foreign governments. In the end, tariffs are a tax like any other, and as we work in order to consume freely, tariffs are a tax on work that Bush did too little to reduce.

When GOP partisans draw an economic line in the sand to defend Bush, they usually do so by noting the 2003 reductions in taxes on income and capital gains. There they have a point in that ’03 cuts were a certain positive for reducing the penalties on work and investment success.

But it should also be said that many of those same defenders miss the point. While almost to a man they would decry the explosion in spending under Bush not seen since the days of LBJ, they frequently fail to see the main reason why government spending is such a huge weight on the economy.

Spending is problematic because at its core, it too is taxation. When governments tax or borrow in order to spend, they are by definition reducing the amount of capital available in the private sector. Government spending is a tax, because spending by the government is money taken directly from our wages.

Worse with regard to Bush, his administration foisted no less than two “stimulus” packages on the economy; spending that once again withdrew capital from the private sector. And if that wasn’t bad enough, stimulus can only be an economic retardant for the wealth redistribution that it entails causing its alleged beneficiaries to work even less.

Lastly, when the government is not taxing or spending, it can tax us another way, and that is with inflation. Regardless of relatively low government measures of inflation wrought by productivity overseas, Americans were handsomely fleeced during the Bush years.

While the dollar bought 1/250th of an ounce of gold in 2001, as of this writing it buys 1/819th of an ounce. The aforementioned tariffs were a strong signal from the Bush administration that it desired a weaker dollar, and the aforementioned jawboning of China with regard to the value of the yuan was yet more confirmation.

Bush’s Treasury Secretaries of course paid lip service to a strong dollar being in our interest, but their frequent admonition that “markets” should set the price of the dollar concept revealed that a collapsing unit of account would be countenanced. And when we consider the strong correlation between weak dollars and failed presidents, the greenbacks’s decline on Bush’s watch is the largely untold explanation for his unpopularity. Put simply, voters will put up with a lot, but if the money they earn is being devalued, they become angry. Bush and the Republican majority ignored this truth all the way to minority status.

So while Bush got taxes right in 2003, his other economic policies largely taxed real work, and the direction of the S&P 500 during his tenure confirms as much. Indeed, while many would tie the lowering of tax rates to rising markets, the policies pursued under Bush undermined the good and the S&P fell 34 percent during his time in office. Even if we measure the S&P post 9/11, we find that it still fell 8 percent. To show readers how poor this performance was, the S&P even gained under Jimmy Carter - in his case 24 percent.

What’s comforting in all this is that the basic rules with regard to economic growth still hold. If we reduce the regulatory, tariff, tax and currency barriers to growth, the economy performs well. Unfortunately, none of this was done under Bush. At best we can say that his policies were anti-supply side.

So while his being the only 21st century president means George W. Bush can presently claim to be both the best and worst of the century so far, it seems not much of a reach to assume that the man who said his administration had to intervene in markets in order to save them will go down as the worst economic president of the 21st century. Whatever history's judgement, supply-side thinkers should eagerly bid Bush goodbye for bringing discredit to economic theories that he sadly never implemented.
John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, a senior economist with H.C. Wainwright Economics
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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2009, 09:38:27 AM »

Defender In Chief   
By Ion Mihai Pacepa
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, January 22, 2009

Now that President George W. Bush is out of office, America will start taking a more objective look at him. When the real history of our days is written, he will surely be considered one of America’s great leaders.

For one thing, George W. Bush is the only post-World War II president who won a major war. History will decide if it was wise or not for the U.S. to go to war against Iraq. But that war was not just President Bush’s war. It was America’s war, authorized by 296 House members and 76 U.S. senators, and the president’s duty was to win it. Americans are proud people who love their country and won every military conflict—until the wars against communist expansion. In 1776, 1782 and 1812, the Americans faced Great Britain, the most powerful empire in the world at that time, and they came out victorious every time. In 1846 Mexico attacked the United States and was soundly defeated. In 1898 the United States decimated the belligerent Spanish fleet and forced Spain to sue for peace. Toward the end of World War I, in which over 40 million Europeans were killed, the United States quickly put together an army of four million and became instrumental in defeating the German aggressor. During World War II, President Truman won an outstanding victory against the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis. Afterward, he and his fellow Americans rebuilt their vanquished enemies, and that made the United States the uncontested leader of the world.

Unfortunately, that was it. Two U.S. presidents were unable to win the war in Korea, and three others butchered the war in Vietnam. Consequently, some Americans began turning against their country’s own wars. By 1968, anti-Vietnam War protesters in the U.S. numbered almost seven million. They came to regard their government, not communism, as the enemy. That damaged the U.S. foreign policy consensus, poisoned domestic debate in the US, and built a credibility gap between the United States and the rest of the world that is today still wide and deep.

At the beginning of our war in Iraq, President Bush followed in the steps of his post-World War II predecessors, and also bungled the war. But he woke up and stood strong against the members of the U.S. Congress who could not remember that war was a matter of life and death and that it could not be approved today and disapproved tomorrow. The war in Iraq was not a popular war—no war has ever been. But now Iraq, on its way from tyranny to a sui generis democracy, is a model for that part of the world, and America is a victor again for the first time in over half a century.

History will also credit President Bush with demolishing the appeasement policy toward dictators practiced by his last two democratic predecessors. Tyrants loathe appeasers. On April 12, 1978, I was in the car with my former boss, communist dictator Ceausescu, driving away from the White House. He took a bottle of alcohol and splashed it all over his face, after having been affectionately kissed by President Carter in the Oval Office. “Peanut-head,” my former boss whispered disgustedly. I will also never forget the memorable day of July 1979, when President Carter affectionately kissed Leonid Brezhnev on both cheeks during their first encounter in Vienna. Or the days in 2000 when Yasser Arafat, an unrepentant terrorist who received his orders from the KGB—and from my Romanian DIE—got the red carpet treatment at the White House. But that was then. On December 14, 2003, the whole world clapped when U.S. soldiers pulled a scruffy looking, scared Saddam Hussein out of the rat hole he was hiding in. Muhammad Qaddafi, another bloody tyrant, got the message, and he immediately surrendered his nuclear and bacteriological weapons.

Restoring respect for the United States flag is another major achievement President Bush should be given credit for. After World War II the American flag became an international symbol of freedom and democracy, and the communist intelligence community, to which I belonged in my other life, used the unpopular Vietnam War to obliterate that belief. “Blue Star” was the code name of that operation, which enjoyed huge success among European leftists. Unfortunately, a few spoiled Americans, who could not even imagine what life under communist terror might be like, also started regarding the Stars and Stripes, not the hammer and sickle, as their enemy. An outbreak of American flag burning and other forms of flag desecration erupted around the world. Over 1,000 such cases were prosecuted in the U.S., igniting strong demands to adopt a constitutional amendment making the desecration of the U.S. flag a crime. But President Bush restored the respect for the U.S. flag the old-fashioned way: he and every member of his cabinet started wearing it on their lapel, and most of the country followed step.

Two days after September 11, 2001, my wife and I landed in Berlin. We were having lunch with friends at the enormous KaDeWe department store, and I wandered off to get some food for dinner. The manager came up to me and asked if I was an American, noticing the American flag on my lapel. “Champagne for everyone,” he ordered, when I told him I had just flown over from the U.S. “Without America and the Airlift, we would now be speaking Russian,” he explained. Now more and more people around the world once again see the American flag as the symbol of freedom and democracy.

Protecting America from international terrorism is another outstanding accomplishment of President Bush’s. Before he took office, the U.S. was repeatedly hit by terrorists. The devastating car bomb attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut (241 servicemen killed), the destruction of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (301 killed, over 5,000 injured), and the attack on the destroyer USS Cole (17 killed) are just some of those hits. A few months after President Bush was inaugurated, 2,998 people were killed in the infamous suicide attack on the World Trade Center in New York, and the Pentagon. But, once again, that was it.

Only weeks after September 11, President Bush started a devastating war against al-Qaeda, and he was also instrumental in reorganizing our intelligence community to face this 21st century plague. No other terrorist attack on the U.S. has taken place since then, although other countries—Great Britain and Spain among them—had been hit hard. This is another achievement for which President Bush has yet to be given the credit he deserves.

The 2008 Democratic National Convention was entirely focused on denigrating President Bush. Even some Republicans have not been kind to him. President Bush did, indeed, leave a lot to be desired. No American president has ever been perfect. But defending the security of the United States and its prestige around the world is the first and foremost task of any president, and history will certify that President Bush accomplished it exceedingly well.

I paid with two death sentences—from Romania—for the privilege of becoming an American, and I have dedicated my new life to helping defend this unique country. In 1988, when I became a U.S. citizen, I closed the few words I spoke as a sign of my gratitude with the last paragraph of “The American Creed” by William Tyler Page, a descendent of Carter Braxton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and of the tenth U.S. President John Tyler, who for many years served as president general of the United States Flag Association: “It is my duty to my Country to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.” That is exactly what President Bush did.

Lt. Gen. Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc. His newest book is Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination.
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2009, 11:41:03 AM »

I rarely find memoirs from outgoing administrations interesting or helpful, however I have been curious about the thoughts of Condaleeza Rice during the second term especially about the threats we face and what our actions should be. 

The Sec. of State traditionally favors talk while Defense prepares for war.  During the Bush second term, key enemies and rivals were well aware that the US was in no position to start a new war, whether in N.K., Iran or South Ossetia. 

As Iraq winds down or had it wound down earlier I wonder how the availability of American military muscle could have affecting negotiations elsewhere. 

Rice's record at State would have been perfect for an Obama administration (Can we talk?) but I wonder if she would have advocated a more active and physical foreign policy if our hands were not tied. 
« Last Edit: January 23, 2009, 10:54:15 PM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2009, 10:21:05 AM »

By NICK GILLESPIE
Now that George W. Bush has finally left office, here's a challenge to a nation famous for its proud tradition of invention: Can somebody invent a machine capable of fully measuring the disaster that was the Bush presidency?

 
APYes, yes, I know that attitudes towards presidencies are volatile. Harry Truman was hated when he left office and look at him now; he's so highly regarded that President Bush thought of him as a role model. There are, I'm sure, still a few William Henry Harrison dead-enders around, convinced that the 31 days the broken-down old general spent as president will someday receive the full glory they deserve.

In a way that was inconceivable when he took office, Mr. Bush -- the advance man for the "ownership society," smaller and more trustworthy government, and a humble foreign policy -- increased the size and scope of the federal government to unprecedented levels. At the same time, he constantly flashed signs of secrecy, duplicity, ineffectiveness and outright incompetence.

Think for a moment about the thousands of Transportation Security Administration screeners -- newly minted government employees all -- who continue to confiscate contact-lens solution and nail clippers while, according to nearly every field test, somehow failing to notice simulated bombs in passenger luggage.

Or schoolchildren struggling under No Child Left Behind, which federalized K-12 education to an unprecedented degree with nothing to show for it other than greater spending tabs. Or the bizarrely structured Medicare prescription-drug benefit, the largest entitlement program created since LBJ. Or the simple reality that taxpayers now guarantee some $8 trillion in inscrutable loans to a financial sector that collapsed from inscrutable loans.

Such programs were not in any way foisted on Mr. Bush, the way that welfare reform had been on Bill Clinton; they were signature projects, designed to create a legacy every bit as monumental and inspiring as Laura Bush's global literacy campaign.

The most basic Bush numbers are damning. If increases in government spending matter, then Mr. Bush is worse than any president in recent history. During his first four years in office -- a period during which his party controlled Congress -- he added a whopping $345 billion (in constant dollars) to the federal budget. The only other presidential term that comes close? Mr. Bush's second term. As of November 2008, he had added at least an additional $287 billion on top of that (and the months since then will add significantly to the bill). To put that in perspective, consider that the spendthrift LBJ added a mere $223 billion in total additional outlays in his one full term.

If spending under Mr. Bush was a disaster, regulation was even worse. The number of pages in the Federal Registry is a rough proxy for the swollen expanse of the regulatory state. In 2001, some 64,438 pages of regulations were added to it. In 2007, more than 78,000 new pages were added. Worse still, argues the Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy, Mr. Bush is the unparalleled master of "economically significant regulations" that cost the economy more than $100 million a year. Since 2001, he jacked that number by more than 70%. Since June 2008 alone, he introduced more than 100 economically significant regulations.

At this late date, it may be pointless to argue about the grounds for the invasion of Iraq, which even Mr. Bush has (finally) acknowledged were built on sand rather than bedrock. The Iraq war has lasted longer than any American conflict except for Vietnam and has cost more than any shooting match except for World War II. Leave aside for a moment the more than 4,200 U.S. deaths and 30,000 casualties, and ask a very basic question: Did President Bush's prosecution of the war -- he declared an end to major hostilities in May 2003 -- and his direction of the ongoing occupation make you feel better about the government's ability to execute core functions?

Or, like the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina (later made good by shoveling billions of pork-laden tax dollars to the Gulf area) and the rushed, secretive, and ever-changing bailout of the financial sector, did it make you want to simply despair?


Mr. Bush's legacy is thus a bizarro version of Ronald Reagan's. Reagan entered office declaring that government was not the solution to our problems, it was the problem. Ironically, he demonstrated that government could do some important things right -- he helped tame inflation and masterfully drew the Cold War to a nonviolent triumph for the Free World. By contrast, Mr. Bush has massively expanded the government along with the sense that government is incompetent.

That is no small accomplishment -- and its pernicious effects will last long after Mr. Bush has moved back to Texas, and President Obama has announced that his stimulus package, originally tagged at $750 billion and already up to $825 billion, will cost $1 trillion or more. Mr. Bush has cleared the way for President Obama to intervene more and more in the economy and every other aspect of American life.

Last July, the political scientists Philippe Aghion, Yann Algan, Pierre Cahuc and Andrei Shleifer wrote a paper titled "Regulation and Distrust." Using data from the World Values Survey, the authors convincingly argue that "distrust influences not just regulation itself, but the demand for regulation." They found that "distrust fuels support for government control over the economy. What is perhaps most interesting about this finding . . . is that distrust generates demand for regulation even when people realize that the government is corrupt and ineffective."

George W. Bush has certainly taught us that government really can't be trusted to be very effective, or open, or smart. He has also taught us that government can always get bigger on every level and every way. It's a sad lesson that we'll be learning for many years to come.

Mr. Gillespie is editor in chief of Reason.tv and Reason.com.
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2009, 10:37:25 AM »

***George W. Bush has certainly taught us that government really can't be trusted to be very effective, or open, or smart. He has also taught us that government can always get bigger on every level and every way. It's a sad lesson that we'll be learning for many years to come.***

Very true.  But an unchecked private sector without regulation certainly can't be trusted either. So this never ending platitudes about big government is the problem is stupid wrong headed and not going to win over anyone new. It ain't that simple.  The answer is something in between.  And that is where the fight/debate never ends.

For example, If the SEC simply enforced laws already on the books, if we simply enforced our immigration laws and include those of us who hire them for example, we would not have the mess we are in.
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2009, 02:08:56 PM »

"unchecked private sector without regulation certainly can't be trusted either...If the SEC simply enforced laws already on the books, if we simply enforced our immigration laws and include those of us who hire them for example, we would not have the mess we are in."

I agree with the second part.  The banking mess in particular was caused by feds not doing their job, or in the case of an activist Fed and a redistributive banking oversight 'industry', being assigned the wrong job. 

I think 'unchecked private sector without regulation' is an unintentional straw man argument.  I don't know anyone who favors free markets and free enterprise but opposes a proper role for government to govern.  I recently elaborated on the success for example of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that actually helps the industry it regulates by creating trust in the system.  Certainly the same goes for the regulators that perform safety inspections at nuclear power plants.  Nobody (that I know) wants new drugs without approvals, we just want them faster and better.  YOur examples, SEC and INS are also great examples.  I would add anti-trust regulation that is protective, not political.

As Scott Grannis points out http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/2009/01/no-relief-from-obamas-speech.html 90% of the budget, over 2 trillion and growing, could best be described as transfer payments, not governing.  Without trying to run every private industry from housing to health to energy to transportation to education, at the FEDERAL level, maybe they could perform their proper roles of governance and protecting the people a little more effectively.
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« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2009, 03:29:31 PM »

***I think 'unchecked private sector without regulation' is an unintentional straw man argument.  I don't know anyone who favors free markets and free enterprise but opposes a proper role for government to govern.***

But here is where we get back into the eternal debate:

What is proper role of government?

The left might say we need to get more money to the overseers (government) and add more people so they "can" have the resources to perform their oversight and enforcement duties.  The right might say that government is too inefficient or inept to do this job.

It is like our nation keeps debating in circles.  Like our planet goes around and around so does our divided country.

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« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2009, 12:06:39 AM »

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090820/pl_afp/usattackspoliticsridge

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former US homeland security chief Tom Ridge charges in a new book that top aides to then-president George W. Bush pressured him to raise the "terror alert" level to sway the November 2004 US election.
Then defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and attorney general John Ashcroft pushed him to elevate the color-coded threat level, but Ridge refused, according to a summary from his publisher, Thomas Dunne Books.

"After that episode, I knew I had to follow through with my plans to leave the federal government for the private sector," Ridge is quoting as writing in "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege ... And How We Can Be Safe Again."

Some of Bush's critics had repeatedly questioned whether the administration was using warnings of a possible attack to blunt the political damage from the unpopular Iraq war by shifting the debate to the broader "war on terrorism," which had wide popular appeal.

Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania, was the first secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security that the US Congress created in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes.

He also says that Bush's homeland security adviser at the White House, Fran Townsend, called his department ahead of an August 1, 2004 speech to ask Ridge to include a reference to "defensive measures ... away from home" -- language that he read as being a reference to the Iraq war.
In those remarks, Ridge said he was raising the threat alert level for the financial services sector in New York City, northern New Jersey, and Washington DC, and went on to praise Bush's leadership against extremism.
"The reports that have led to this alert are the result of offensive intelligence and military operations overseas, as well as strong partnerships with our allies around the world, such as Pakistan," said Ridge.
"Such operations and partnerships give us insight into the enemy so we can better target our defensive measures here and away from home," he said at the time.
He later publicly acknowledged that much of the information underpinning the new alert was three years old, stoking Bush critics' charges of political manipulation.
Ridge also details his frustration after the White House rejected his suggestion to establish department of homeland security offices in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, and -- long before Hurricane Katrina -- New Orleans, according to the summary.
He also says he urged his successor, Michael Chertoff, to reconsider the appointment of Michael Brown as the head of the Federal Emergency Response Agency (FEMA), whose response to the killer storm drew widespread criticism.
Ridge also charges that he was often "blindsided" during daily morning briefings with Bush because the FBI withheld information from him, and says he was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings.
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« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2009, 08:58:00 AM »

I call B.S.

Hype to spur book sales.
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« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2011, 09:50:53 AM »

In a few hours, George W. Bush will walk out of the Oval Office for the last time as president. As he leaves, he carries with him the near-universal opprobrium of the permanent class that inhabits our nation's capital. Yet perhaps the most important reason for this unpopularity is the one least commented on.

 
APHere's a hint: It's not because of his failures. To the contrary, Mr. Bush's disfavor in Washington owes more to his greatest success. Simply put, there are those who will never forgive Mr. Bush for not losing a war they had all declared unwinnable.

Here in the afterglow of the turnaround led by Gen. David Petraeus, it's easy to forget what the smart set was saying two years ago -- and how categorical they all were in their certainty. The president was a simpleton, it was agreed. Didn't he know that Iraq was a civil war, and the only answer was to get out as fast as we could?

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- the man who will be sworn in as vice president today -- didn't limit himself to his own opinion. Days before the president announced the surge, Joe Biden suggested to the Washington Post he knew the president's people had also concluded the war was lost. They were, he said, just trying to "keep it from totally collapsing" until they could "hand it off to the next guy."

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For his part, on the night Mr. Bush announced the surge, Barack Obama said he was "not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Three months after that, before the surge had even started, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pronounced the war in Iraq "lost." These and similar comments, moreover, were amplified by a media echo chamber even more absolute in its sense of hopelessness about Iraq and its contempt for the president.

For many of these critics, the template for understanding Iraq was Vietnam -- especially after things started to get tough. In terms of the wars themselves, of course, there is almost no parallel between Vietnam and Iraq: The enemies are different, the fighting on the ground is different, the involvement of other powers is different, and so on.

Still, the operating metaphor of Vietnam has never been military. For the most part, it is political. And in this realm, we saw history repeat itself: a failure of nerve among the same class that endorsed the original action.

As with Vietnam, with Iraq the failure of nerve was most clear in Congress. For example, of the five active Democratic senators who sought the nomination, four voted in favor of the Iraqi intervention before discovering their antiwar selves.

As in Vietnam too, rather than finding their judgment questioned, those who flip-flopped on the war were held up as voices of reason. In a memorable editorial advocating a pullout, the New York Times gave voice to the chilling possibilities that this new realism was willing to accept in the name of bringing our soldiers home.

"Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave," read the editorial. "There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide." Even genocide. With no hint of irony, the Times nevertheless went on to conclude that it would be even worse if we stayed.

This is Vietnam thinking. And the president never accepted it. That was why his critics went ape when, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he touched on the killing fields and exodus of boat people that followed America's humiliating exit off an embassy rooftop. As the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti noted, Mr. Bush had appropriated one of their most cherished analogies -- only he drew very different lessons from it.

Mr. Bush's success in Iraq is equally infuriating, because it showed he was right and they wrong. Many in Washington have not yet admitted that, even to themselves. Mr. Obama has. We know he has because he has elected to keep Mr. Bush's secretary of defense -- not something you do with a failure.

Mr. Obama seems aware that, at the end of the day, he will not be judged by his predecessor's approval ratings. Instead, he will soon find himself under pressure to measure up to two Bush achievements: a strategic victory in Iraq, and the prevention of another attack on America's home soil. As he rises to this challenge, our new president will learn that when you make a mistake, the keepers of the Beltway's received orthodoxies will make you pay dearly.

But it will not even be close to the price you pay for ignoring their advice and succeeding.


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« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2013, 08:37:24 AM »

Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 because he was not George W. Bush. In fact, he was elected because he was the farthest thing possible from Mr. Bush. On some level he knew this, which is why every time he got in trouble he'd say Bush's name. It's all his fault, you have no idea the mess I inherited. As long as Mr. Bush's memory was hovering like Boo Radley in the shadows, Mr. Obama would be OK.

This week something changed. George W. Bush is back, for the unveiling of his presidential library. His numbers are dramatically up. You know why? Because he's the farthest thing from Barack Obama.

Obama fatigue has opened the way to Bush affection.

***
In all his recent interviews Mr. Bush has been modest, humorous, proud but unassuming, and essentially philosophical: History will decide. No finger-pointing or scoring points. If he feels rancor or resentment he didn't show it. He didn't attempt to manipulate. His sheer normality seemed like a relief, an echo of an older age.

And all this felt like an antidote to Obama—to the imperious I, to the inability to execute, to the endless interviews and the imperturbable drone, to the sense that he is trying to teach us, like an Ivy League instructor taken aback by the backwardness of his students. And there's the unconscious superiority. One thing Mr. Bush didn't think he was was superior. He thought he was luckily born, quick but not deep, and he famously trusted his gut but also his heart. He always seemed moved and grateful to be in the White House. Someone who met with Mr. Obama during his first year in office, an old hand who'd worked with many presidents, came away worried and confounded. Mr. Obama, he said, was the only one who didn't seem awed by his surroundings, or by the presidency itself.

Mr. Bush could be prickly and irritable and near the end showed arrogance, but he wasn't vain or conceited, and he still isn't. When people said recently that they were surprised he could paint, he laughed: "Some people are surprised I can even read."

Coverage of the opening of his presidential library Thursday was wall to wall on cable, and a feeling of affection for him was encouraged, or at least enabled, by the Washington press corps, which doesn't much like Mr. Obama because he's not all that likable, and remembers Mr. Bush with a kind of reluctant fondness because he was.

But to the point. Mr. Obama was elected because he wasn't Bush.

Mr. Bush is popular now because he's not Obama.

The wheel turns, doesn't it?

Here's a hunch: The day of the opening of the Bush library was the day Obama fatigue became apparent as a fact of America's political life.

When Bush left office, his approval rating was down in the 20s to low 30s. Now it's at 47%, which is what Obama's is. That is amazing, and not sufficiently appreciated. Yes, we are a 50-50 nation, but Mr. Bush left office in foreign-policy and economic failure, even cataclysm. Yet he is essentially equal in the polls to the supposedly popular president. Which suggests Republicans in general have some latent, unseen potential of which they're unaware. Right now they're busy being depressed. Maybe they should be thinking, "If Bush could come back . . ." Actually, forget I said that. Every time Republican political professionals start to think that way, with optimism, they get crude and dumb and think if they press certain levers the mice will run in certain directions.

***
The headline of the Bush Library remarks is that everyone was older and nicer.

Jimmy Carter, in shades, with wispy white hair, was gracious and humorous. Anyone can soften with age, but he seemed to have sweetened. That don't come easy. Good for him.

George H.W. Bush was tender. He feels the tugs and tides of history. "God bless America, and thank you very much." He rose from his wheelchair to acknowledge the crowd. That crowd, and the people watching on TV—the person they loved and honored most was him.

Peggy Noonan's Blog
Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.
.
Bill Clinton does this kind of thing so well—being generous to others, especially former opponents. "We are here to celebrate a country we all love," he said. He was funny on how he wanted Mr. Bush to paint him and then saw Mr. Bush's self-portrait in the bath and thought no, I'll keep my suit on. He got a laugh when he called himself the black sheep of the Bush family. I said everyone was older and nicer. It's occurred to me that the Clintons and both Bushes were president when baby boomer journalists were in their 30s and 40s and eager to rise. Everyone was meaner, both the pols and the press, because they were all young. Now they're in their 60s. When they went through the 9/11 section of the library, the day before the opening, some had tears in their eyes. They understood now what that day was. Young journalists: You're going to become more tolerant with time, and not only because you have more to tolerate in yourself. Because life will batter you and you'll have a surer sense of what's important and has meaning and is good.

President Obama was more formal than the other speakers and less confident than usual, as if he knew he was surrounded by people who have something he doesn't. "No matter how much you think you're ready to assume the office of the president, it's impossible to understand the nature of the job until it's yours." This is a way of seeming to laud others when you're lauding yourself. He veered into current policy disputes, using Mr. Bush's failed comprehensive immigration reform to buttress his own effort. That was manipulative, graceless and typical.

George W. Bush was emotional: "In the end, leaders are defined by the convictions they hold. . . . My deepest conviction . . . is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom. I believe that freedom is a gift from God and the hope of every human heart." He then announced that on Saturday he would personally invade Syria. Ha, kidding. It was standard Bush rhetoric and, in its way, a defiant pushing back against critics of his invasions and attempts to nation-build. Who isn't for more freedom? But that bright, shining impulse, that very American impulse, must be followed by steely-eyed calculation. At the end Mr. Bush wept, and not only because the Bush men are weepers but because he means every word of what he says, and because he loves his country, and was moved. John Boehner weeps too when he speaks about what America means to him. You know why they do that? Because their hearts are engaged. And really, that's not the worst thing.

Back to the point. What was nice was that all of them—the Bush family, the Carters and Clintons—seemed like the old days. "The way we were." They were full of endurance, stamina, effort. Also flaws, frailty, mess. But they weren't . . . creepy.

Anyway, onward to Obama fatigue, and the Democratic Party wrestling with what comes next. It's not only the Republicans in a deep pit.
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G M
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« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2013, 08:07:33 PM »

Thank God Buraq rescued us from the nightmare of 5 percent unemployment and 2 dollar gasoline we suffered under BooooooOOOOOOooooosh.
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« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2013, 11:18:24 AM »



http://spreadlibertynews.com/bush-cancels-europe-trip-amid-calls-for-his-arrest/
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« Reply #26 on: October 24, 2013, 05:24:00 PM »

Book Review: 'Days of Fire,' by Peter Baker
The 2007 Iraq surge and 2008 bank bailouts were the most unpopular, and necessary, decisions by any president in our time.
by Jonathan Karl
Oct. 23, 2013 7:03 p.m. ET

By the time George W. Bush left the White House, his popular appeal had reached depths lower than all but a handful of his predecessors. Perhaps his only solace: He was not as unpopular as his vice president, Dick Cheney.

It was quite a downfall for a president who had won near-universal admiration for his leadership in the weeks and months after the 9/11 attacks. Soon after Mr. Bush boarded Marine One for the last time on Jan. 20, 2009, and flew out of Washington an ex-president, a former aide visited him at his new office in Dallas and said: "You're leaving as one of the most unpopular presidents ever. How does that feel?" Mr. Bush's response, as recounted in Peter Baker's excellent "Days of Fire": "I was also the most popular."

Mr. Baker, a White House reporter for the New York Times, NYT 0.00% has pulled off something of a journalistic miracle: He has written a thorough, engaging and fair history on the Bush-Cheney White House, the most polarizing presidency since Johnson's (Andrew, not Lyndon), with the possible exception of the current one. Mr. Baker chronicles the astonishing influence of Mr. Cheney, but unlike so many other writers, he doesn't fall for the popular caricature of the vice president as a sinister force controlling a hapless president. "Even in the early days, when a young, untested president relied on the advice of his seasoned number two," the author writes, "Bush was hardly the pawn nor Cheney the puppeteer that critics imagined."

Even so, Mr. Cheney was easily the most powerful vice president in history. He ran the transition in 2000, took command for a time from the White House bunker on 9/11, and did more than anyone to shape counterterrorism policy in the weeks and months after the attack on that day. As Mr. Bush himself joked in a 2006 appearance at the Gridiron Club: "There are all these conspiracy theories that Dick runs the country, or Karl [Rove] runs the country. Why aren't there any conspiracy theories that I run the country?"

Mr. Cheney was a constant and important presence, but Mr. Baker concludes that his effect was great largely because he was pushing policy in the direction that Mr. Bush himself wanted to take it. By the end of the first term, Mr. Cheney's influence had started to fade enough that Mr. Bush seriously considered accepting Mr. Cheney's offer to call it quits and talked to top aides about replacing him on the ticket with Sen. Bill Frist.
Enlarge Image

Days of Fire

By Peter Baker
(Doubleday, 800 pages, $35)

As the second term got under way, Mr. Cheney looked more like a traditional vice president—called upon when needed but more often sidelined on the big decisions, beginning with what was arguably President Bush's most important speech, the second inaugural. Mr. Bush used the speech to set perhaps the most audacious goal of any president: "ending tyranny in our world." For Mr. Cheney, spreading democracy was fine, but the primary objective was always security.

On some of the biggest decisions of the second term, Mr. Cheney found himself on the losing side as Mr. Bush generally pursued a more centrist course on many of the issues that Mr. Cheney cared about most. Over Mr. Cheney's objections, Mr. Bush opened up new diplomatic initiatives with Iran and North Korea, shuttered the CIA's "black site" prisons, and put limits on the NSA's surveillance programs. When a secret nuclear reactor was discovered in Syria in 2007, Mr. Cheney was the only person on the national-security team advocating a unilateral U.S. military strike to take it out. Mr. Bush decided to press the case diplomatically instead, a decision rendered moot when the Israelis bombed the reactor on their own.

Years later, Mr. Cheney told Mr. Baker it was a mistake for the U.S. not to do it. "I would have pursued a more robust course in the second term than we did," Mr. Cheney said. "I would have taken out the Syrian reactor. . . . It would mean that our red lines meant something. We threaten action if they proliferate—they proliferate, they get action. But we didn't do it."

It's no secret that Mr. Cheney clashed with Mr. Bush over his failure to pardon longtime Cheney loyalist Scooter Libby, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame leak case. Mr. Cheney pushed hard for a pardon, repeatedly bringing it up with the president. In the end, Mr. Bush even refused a personal request from Mr. Cheney that he at least meet with Libby before making a final decision. But Mr. Baker shows that the Cheney-Bush break had started years earlier, as Mr. Bush began siding more with those, especially Condoleezza Rice, advocating a less hard-line approach to counterterrorism.

Nothing weighed on the Bush presidency more than Iraq—a war started on flawed intelligence and made disastrous by bad planning and incompetence. Although Mr. Bush never expresses regret about the war, Mr. Baker recounts a moment of reflection, and maybe even doubt, when he was talking to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen in the situation room in late 2008. "You know," he recalled, "when I made the decision on Iraq, I went around the room to everybody at that table, every principal. 'You in? Any doubts?' Nothing from anybody." For his part, Mr. Cheney never uttered even a hint of doubt or second thoughts.

Mr. Baker credits Mr. Bush with showing some of his best leadership when he was at his lowest points—turning around the Iraq war with a surge of additional troops in 2007, when most people were calling for a withdrawal, and pushing a $700 billion bailout of the banks during the financial crisis of 2008. "Sending more troops to a losing war and spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out irresponsible banks had to be two of the boldest and most unpopular decisions by any president in modern times," Mr. Baker writes. "And in both cases, they proved to be critical to the country." And in both of those decisions Dick Cheney was right with him.

Mr. Karl is chief White House correspondent for ABC News.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2013, 01:00:37 PM »

http://www.caintv.com/video-george-w.bush-on-leno-ju

http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_709389075&feature=iv&src_vid=u-ke6wKzPwM&v=AMJv4e3TAq0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_709389075&feature=iv&src_vid=AMJv4e3TAq0&v=j40U0euplzk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_709389075&feature=iv&src_vid=j40U0euplzk&v=qwNehNnZRLE



« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 01:13:25 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2013, 07:57:54 PM »

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/how-to-thank-a-solder-by-george-w-bush
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