Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schw...

Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was an especially tough weekend. The Trayvon Martin killing took me back to June 21, 1964 when three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were found lynched and mutilated near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

It also prompted recall of what happened to James Byrd, Jr., a Texan who, in 1998, was dragged by white supremacists behind a swerving truck for three miles until he finally died when his broken, battered and tortured body mercifully struck a roadside curb.

That isn’t to say that Trayvon Martin’s murder rises to the same level of horror as these cases…Trayvon got off easy with a bullet to the chest…but who can deny that his murderer, George Zimmerman, saw Trayvon as anything other than an outsider, an “other,” who didn’t belong were he, Zimmerman, found him. For that transgression Trayvon Martin lost his life.

But the bigger issue in this tragedy is the underlying narrative that turns a man like Zimmerman into an instrument of evil. It’s the same “not-one-of-us” narrative that killed the three civil rights activists and James Byrd Jr. and makes it okay for Rush Limbaugh to say that Michelle Obama is “guilty of uppity-ism”; that obsessively questions Barack Obama’s right to be president based upon imagined birth places; and, that allows Newt Gingrich to claim that President Obama “engages in Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior”, and makes Rick Santorum comfortable when he accuses President Obama of following a “non-bible theology” and that his agenda is “about some phony ideal, some phony theology.”

But, most dangerously, it’s a narrative that labels President Obama as the Antichrist, a belief held by nearly a quarter of all Republicans. In this hateful and toxic environment, is it any wonder that, according to a 2009 article in The Telegraph, “the rate of [death] threats against the president has increased 400 per cent from the 3,000 a year or so under President George W. Bush…”

One month ago, if President Obama, wearing a hoodie, had followed Trayvon Martin’s path, he might well have taken a bullet in the chest from George Zimmerman’s gun. He, too, would have been an outsider in Zimmerman’s sick and distorted mind…an “uppity Negro” who was where he should not have been.

In time, maybe George Zimmerman and the “stand your ground” law that protects him will be put on trial. Maybe something will change as a result. But I doubt it, because the NRA and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) likes things the way they are. After all, fear is good for business. It sells guns and rallies Republicans behind their movement to unseat a black president.

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So, I got a message from a reader who said, ““Whenever I read an article calling George Bush a war criminal I have to stop and ask myself exactly what is it that makes people like you tick.” I don’t think he meant it as a compliment. Nonetheless, I felt obligated to provide some clarity to his“tick” thing so he can get on with his life.

What makes people like me tick? Well, lots of things.

I get really pissed off when we fight unjust wars, unjustly.

I get really pissed off when, in order to exact revenge for the killing of nearly 3,000 people in the 911 attacks, we go to war against a country that had nothing to do with 911 or Bin Laden, and then watch as nearly 3,000 American soldiers die, 33,184 are injured, many of them seriously, and an untold number suffer the lasting effects of PTSD. Of course, that doesn’t include the million or so Iraq dead, but who gives a damn about them, right?

I get really pissed off at the $2-plus trillion price tag of the war, which contributed mightily to the deficit, and which people like you will try to offset with tax cuts for the rich, and cutbacks in the social safety net (perhaps you would be kind enough to explain how the math works on that).

I get really pissed when I think how giddy Bin Laden must have gotten when he realized that he set off a series of events, which we are still dealing with a decade later, that turned out to be an unmitigated economic and foreign policy disaster for the United States.

I get really pissed off because the decision to invade Iraq was made prior to the justification for the invasion.

I get really pissed off when I think about the secret energy policy meeting was held prior to the invasion at which Iraqi oil fields were divvied up among American oil companies.

I get really pissed off when the United States tortures combatants and detain them in secret prisons. Sadly, I could go on, but I think you have a sense of what makes me tick.

But, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Bush isn’t a war criminal. But if he isn’t, what the fuck would you call him?

The Rick Santorum phenomenon only makes sense in the context of what the Republican Party has become. He is supported by a significant number of people who vote as a group, and who possess a world view that is disconnected from any sense of reality other than their own. But to me, the problem isn’t Rick Santorum per se, nor is it any other Republican candidate because, after they are relegated to the political scrapheap, the right-wing, evangelical whack jobs who breathed life into them will still be around questioning evolution, promoting the Christian-nation baloney, removing Thomas Jefferson from social studies textbooks in favor of John Calvin (Texas schoolbook adoption), denying global warming, discriminating against gays and the transgendered, denying women the right to manage their own bodies, and burning an occasional witch. Can you imagine any other developed nation where a guy like Rick Santorum would be given even a puncher’s chance of becoming president, prime minister or whatever?

In a New York Times article by David Kirkpatrick entitled, “For Evangelicals, Supporting Israel Is ‘God’s Foreign Policy’” (November 14, 2006), he wrote:

Many conservative Christians say they believe that [President George W. Bush’s] support for Israel fulfills a biblical injunction to protect the Jewish state, which some of them think will play a pivotal role in the second coming. Many on the left, in turn, fear that such theology may influence decisions the administration makes toward Israel and the Middle East.

Well, I’m on the left and it sure scares the hell out of me; it should scare anyone who gives a damn about how the most powerful nation on earth conducts its foreign policy. But remember that Kirkpatrick was referring to the presidency of George W. Bush, a guy who talked the talk but didn’t walk much of the walk…thank God :).

An evangelical Christian like Rick Santorum will be another matter, altogether. Surrounded by like-minded cheerleaders and hounded by extreme-right supporters with markers to cash, would anyone be surprised if the U.S took up arms in support of Israel and, along the way, seized a little oil? In fact, would anyone be surprised to learn that our involvement in Iraq was a nod to the same evangelical forces?

But, once again, the issue is less Santorum than it is those who pull his strings. For this group, the ends justify the means. That’s the way it is with Crusades and the next election is a Crusade. The Right is already in with voter suppression, and they know a thing or two about electronic vote fraud (Vote Fraud 2004: How Ohio was “Delivered” to Bush). So 2012 is going to be a war, and it’s a war that the Left can ill afford to lose. I hope we’re up to it.
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In a post on this site entitled Religion in politics, a line in the sand, I offer this test to determine whether ideas are suitable for political debate: when ideas cannot stand apart from the faith-based belief set from which they spring, especially when those ideas can influence domestic and foreign policy, they must have no standing in the public square debate.

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those who allow religious dogma to trump their own, god-given ability to think and reason believe they are on a never-ending mission to make the world “Christian.” Frankly, I think that the whole lot of them, including Rick Santorum, are both nuts and dangerous.

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I thought better of mentioning it at the time, but what she said reminded me of three song titles: “Don’t worry, be happy”; “What will be, will be”; and that perennial favorite, “I feel better when I outsource to God any personal responsibility that I might have for future generations.”

The Discovery of Global Warming

Image via Wikipedia

This was written in early 2005. It is as relevant today as it was then.

I was recently in Florida for a couple of days. During the trip I had lunch with two people of the evangelical/Republican persuasion. Inevitably, the conversation turned toward the recent presidential election (Bush 2). Because I like to frustrate myself, I made the point that I would have voted against George Bush even if Iraq hadn’t happened, arguing that his environmental, economic and civil rights records were more than enough to convince me he was bad for America. They were, not surprisingly, uncomfortable with this heresy, but I pressed on. I voiced my concern about global warming and what it might mean for my children and their children. Unimpressed, one of my two luncheon companions reminded me that she was a Christian woman, and that I was wrong for not putting more faith in God. She reminded me that if the world was going to come to an end, then it was God’s will.

I thought better of mentioning it at the time, but what she said reminded me of three song titles: “Don’t worry, be happy”; “What will be, will be”; and that perennial favorite, “I feel better when I outsource to God any personal responsibility that I might have for future generations.”

That evening I had dinner with someone of a similar mind. She is a nice woman who described herself as a “believer,” and did so often. We, too, discussed the election and, not being too bright, I shared with her my luncheon conversation in between the entre and dessert. She listened quietly. When I suggested that it was irresponsible for America not to take steps to reduce greenhouse emissions to protect future generations, she continued to listen quietly. So, with that sign of encouragement, I foolishly pressed on: Believing that God is going to solve the world’s problems is okay, I said, but when those beliefs influence America’s policies, they must become part of the national political debate. Seemed pretty reasonable to me.

Then we finished our coffee in silence and quietly left the restaurant.