Category Archives: George Bush (43)

Serene or Petrified?

The finagle was in for 2000.

You can read about it in Greg Palast’s book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.  The Florida state government, in the name of purging convicted felons from the voting rolls, disenfranchised thousands of others, effectively throwing the state to George Bush, who was elected President.

George Bush was an establishment Republican.  He campaigned on the usual Republican agenda of lower taxes and a smaller government.  I had voted for Al Gore, the Democrat.  I was disappointed by what happened, but could accept that the other guy won.  Under President Bush, we got into the War on Terror and war in Iraq.  We were told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which turned out not to be true.

Nevertheless, in 2004, Bush was re-elected, fair and square.   He ran on the theme, ‘I will keep America safe.’  His opponent, John Kerry, ran on the theme ‘I am not George Bush.’  It didn’t end well for John.

As I write this on the Saturday morning after Election Day, the results of the Presidential election are still unresolved.  I voted for Trump: I noted why in my last post, and won’t rehash that now.

And the finagle appears to be in process.  There are stories of piles of ballots appearing in the middle of the night, all voted for Biden, and of communities reporting more votes than registered voters.  So far, these stories are all unconfirmed.

The Democrats have changed since 2000.  While Biden presents himself as an establishment Democrat, the kind my parents voted for and I generally supported until about 10-15 years ago, the Democratic agenda has veered sharply to the left.  What used to be the middle of the road is now the ditch alongside it.

There will be recounts and court battles, and one way or another, Trump or Biden will win.  The loser will make a non-concession speech acknowledging the results, and that will be that, at least until Inauguration Day.  (You didn’t seriously imagine the D.C. sheriff coming to evict Trump from the White House, did you?)

I’d like to be able to be serene about a Biden victory and accept that ‘the other guy won.’  I could be serene if the Republicans hold onto the Senate.

But that’s dicey.  Counting the senators not up for re-election this year and the elections already resolved, there are 48 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and two Independents, who functionally count as Democrats (one of whom is Bernie Sanders).  Two of the remaining seats are in Georgia and will be the subject of a runoff election in January; the other two are unresolved as vote counting continues.

If the Democrats win two of these races, they and the Independents will have 50 senators, which is enough, since the Vice President (Kamala Harris, for now) breaks ties.  The Democrats will have their dream of a blue House, a blue Senate, and a blue President.  Unlike Trump in 2017, the leadership will not have to fight the rest of the government as they pursue their agenda.

And then… we’re in trouble.

Under the prevailing Democratic philosophy as I understand it, since I’m white, male, and heterosexual, I’m an oppressor, the origin of evil, and will need to be put down hard.  Hillary Clinton called me (and many others) ‘deplorable.’  Keith Olbermann remarked last month,

And then [Trump] and his enablers and his supporters and his collaborators and the Mike Lees and the William Barrs and the Sean Hannitys and the Mike Pences and the Rudy Giulianis and the Kyle Rittenhouses and the Amy Coney Barretts must be prosecuted and convicted and removed from our society while we try to rebuild it, and to rebuild the world Trump has nearly destroyed by turning it over to a virus.

MSNBC, 8 October 2020

Well, thank you!

As I write this, word has come in that Biden has won Pennsylvania and therefore the Presidency.  It was probably a foregone conclusion: Biden needed only to win any one of the remaining states in play.  The lawyers may continue their battles, but yup, the other guy won.

OK, which is it:

  • We’ve taken a turn for the left, one among many in American history, just like in 1976 and 1992 and 2008.  (I was, in fact, OK with all three of those.)  Things will change, a little bit, but the fundamentals of our country will continue: nothing to get overwhelmed about.
  • The writing is on the wall; the storm clouds are on the horizon.  We’re about to go through a very painful transformation.  And I can’t protect myself against it, as one might board up one’s house in anticipation of bad weather, because the difficulties will be perpetrated by our own government.  (OK, I could stock up on guns and hide out in the woods.  But I still must earn a living, and my wife is a bigger New York City chauvinist than I am.)

Let’s just hope the Republicans can keep control of the Senate.

Uncle Andy’s Four-Phase Plan

Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo released a four-phase plan by which businesses in New York State would reopen as the coronavirus threat passed:

  • Phase 1: Manufacturing, construction, curbside pickup for retail;
  • Phase 2: Retail, professional services, real estate;
  • Phase 3: Hotels and restaurants;
  • Phase 4: Schools, arts, recreation, and entertainment.

The state has been divided into ten regions for the purpose, with reopening in each region, and advancement through the phases, consistent on meeting a set of metrics.  Most of the metrics relate to hospital usage, which makes sense, although some of the thresholds seem arbitrary.  The threshold is a minimum 30% available hospital beds and intensive care beds, which most of the state passes, but if the threshold were 20%, the entire state would pass.

The one metric that worries me is the need for contact tracers.  The virus was spreading for a month and a half before it was determined to be an emergency: contact tracing now seems pointless and silly. 

Nevertheless, under the plan, there need to be a minimum of 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents: New York City will need over 2500.  Organizing and training a force of that size will be at least a three-month project.  Are we to remain on lockdown until then?

More worrisome is the authority to be vested in these contact tracers.  Will they have the authority to compel people to be tested?  To separate people from their families for isolation (as is happening in California)?  To compel answers to, ‘Are you now or have you ever been…’ or ‘Tell us about your friends and associates…’?

The only thing that such an effort would appear to accomplish is practice for a new Stasi whose authority, in the name of public health, would extend beyond biological viruses to embrace improper thoughts and improper speech.  That may be unconstitutional, but what the hey: it’s an emergency.

When I first read about the plan, I expected that we might be reopening in a few weeks.  I thought my work life would get back to normal in 4-6 weeks, and my wife and I would be able to enjoy dinner out in maybe 6-8 weeks.  Live baseball this summer, alas, would be a lost cause.  But if New York City will not come off ‘pause’ until we have 2500 contract tracers on staff, fully trained and ready to go, it will be a much longer wait.

I sure hope Uncle Andy reconsiders. And it’s disgusting, but right now, that’s all I can do.

*          *          *

Since the 1960s, when young men ran off to escape the military draft, the notion of running off to Canada to elude whatever turmoil the US was suffering has been with us.  It’s crossed my mind a couple of times, never very seriously, the last time in 2004 when President Bush was re-elected.

Now, in the name of public health, our liberties are basically gone.  Yes, there’s still freedom of speech, but only over the Internet, open to government monitoring.  Yes, there’s still freedom of religion–you can believe whatever you want—but all the churches are closed.

Alas, escaping to Canada won’t help.  They’re just as bad as we are.

Andrew Cuomo

Last Thursday we had the primary election in New York for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and some other offices.  It’s the first time that I can recall in my life that an election in the United States was moved from Tuesday.

But then, this past Tuesday was 11 September, the modern date that will live in infamy.  For me, it’s the day we learned our leadership is either stupid or evil, and to this day we’re afraid to find out which. Living well—or at least carrying on with aplomb—is the best revenge against terrorism, or stupid or evil governments.  Don’t let the bastards get you down.

Alas, I’m apparently in the minority.  11 September is supposed to be a day of moaning and interminable suffering, and not for normal things like elections.

Andrew Cuomo, son of Mario, won the primary and will be running for a third term in November.  His opponent this week was Cynthia Nixon, the actress who played Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City. I knew it was a lost cause, but I voted for Cynthia, even though I disagree with most of her positions.  Then again, if a live turnip had been running for Governor, I would have voted for it.

It bothers me when a politician is himself the son of a politician.  (I’m sure we’ll have daughters of politicians running for office someday, and I’ll have the same objection.)  It says that talent is so thin on the ground that we have to look to the children of past leaders.  I thought hereditary government was something we fought a Revolution to get rid of.

Worse than that were his campaign commercials.  Cuomo’s campaign invective against President Trump rubbed me the wrong way.  It isn’t that I agree or disagree with his positions: I watched Cuomo’s campaign commercials and realized: I don’t like this person.  I want him to go away.

In contrast, in President Bush, we had someone who more clearly became President in 2000 as a result of electoral finagling, and who led us into a pointless war.  But other than John Kerry, whose entire platform running for President in 2004 was ‘I am not Bush,’ nobody felt the need to rail against Bush or make him the bogeyman.

Alas, Andrew Cuomo isn’t going away, and I expect that he’ll run for President in 2020.

Mixed Bag

“Donald Trump is not a gentleman,” remarked my wife the other day.  She’s right, but then again, neither is Ted Cruz.  The two of the got embroiled in what seemed a bar fight over pictures of the candidates’ wives.  (I’m not going to fill in the details here: if the whole soggy saga gets lost to posterity, it can only be an improvement!)  At this point, I may end up voting for Bernie Sanders as the only candidate who (a) acts like a responsible adult, and (b) isn’t dead on the vine.

  • One might vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman, or because she presents herself as the logical continuation of the Obama administration. But Clinton, sadly, embodies everything that we love to hate about male politicians, and many people, myself included, believe that Obama is the worst President in modern times.  Moreover, she across as stale and tired in her speeches.  Even if I were on the fence and willing to consider her as a candidate, she needs to present herself as someone who actually wants the job.
  • John Kasich probably has the best head for figures of any of the candidates, and is the most likely to actually fix our problems. Alas, unless he can get people’s attention, his candidacy will go nowhere.  But that seems to be the plan.  I can almost imagine some Republican Party guy making the pitch: “We want you to run for President.  But realize that you won’t be the nominee: we just want you to be there to take momentum away from any oddballs that might show up.”  I’d have told the Party guy to fuck off, but that’s just me.

*          *          *

I initially had nothing useful to say about last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels.  But as news reports came out that the perpetrators were already known to the intelligence services, but that the Belgians were somehow unable to stop them, I began to wonder.  Apparently, what we’re supposed to do is let the potential terrorists into our midst, then maintain a police state to monitor what they’re doing and jump on them just as they’re about to attack.  Wouldn’t it be far simpler and cheaper not to let the potential terrorists into the country in the first place?

*          *          *

And for that reason, I can’t get upset with President Obama for not aborting his trip to Cuba to address the Brussels attacks.  When he woke up in the morning, the attacks were already a fait accompli.  It wasn’t like 11 September, when the United States was actually under attack while President Bush continued his visit to a Texas kindergarten.  (On that day it would have been so simple to say, “I’m very sorry, but something has happened that requires my immediate attention.  I have to go.”)  But this time, the deed was done: the Belgians have emergency services that can clean up the mess: all that’s left for our President is to utter the usual rot about how we stand with the victims.

What was creepy about the Cuba visit, however, was the President’s decision to have himself and his entourage photographed in the shadow of the Che Guevara mural in Revolution Square.  The Cubans had planned something different, but the President had everyone move so that Che was in the background.

For many years, I though the Cuban embargo was pointless and stupid, but it’s probably not practical for us to simply admit that.  But that isn’t what I think is happening now.  We’re reopening relations with Cuba not because we acknowledge that the embargo hasn’t accomplished anything useful, but because Cuba and the United States are converging.

“But Cuba is a totalitarian surveillance state!” I hear you cry.

And what are we becoming?

Lame Democrats

My parents were lifelong Democrats, and I’ve always been a registered Democrat.  While I’ve been bitterly disappointed with the party of late, and considered the alternative, I can’t bring myself to change to the other side.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the Democrats, offering me a bumper sticker:

Not a Republican

Is the Democratic party totally incapable of identifying one positive characteristic about the party, its platform, or its candidate that people would want to post for the world?

In 2004, Bush’s campaign promise, in a nutshell, was ‘I will keep you safe.’   Kerry’s was, ‘I am not Bush.’  Kerry lost.

The Democrats will have to do better, or else they’re toast.

Just Wondering…

At this point, we’ve all seen the video of Our Fearless Leader’s recent press conference in Baghdad, an which an Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at President Bush.  (The shoes missed; nobody was hurt.)  The Iraqi government wants to throw him in jail for several years, but he’s a local hero in his neighborhood for standing up to power.

Does this mean that, much like travelers at US airports, reporters at Presidential press conferences will be henceforth required to remove their shoes?

Pot calling the kettle…

On Thursday, President Bush addressed the Knesset in Jerusalem, and made the following remarks…

****

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

****

Well, maybe.

The remarks were taken in the US as an ‘outrage,’ and a slap in the face to Barack Obama, who has indicated that he would be willing to talk with our adversaries.  But to talk to our enemies–to at least initiate a conversation–is not appeasement.  That’s when you give your enemy something that he wants so that, hopefully, he’ll go away and not bother you again.

Years ago, we considered communism as radical, if not necessarily terrorist.  Yet we talked with the Russians and the Chinese, and despite their far greater power to destroy us than the current threat, we were able to keep the world in one piece.

It doesn’t hurt, other than from the standpoint of national pride, of which we have more than enough, to try to talk to our enemies, recognizing, however, that they may not want to talk to us.  One of the essential reasons that our enemies are our enemies is that they believe that their cause is right, and Bush is correct in noting that it’s really unlikely that “some ingenious argument will persuade them that they have been wrong all along.”

On the other hand, if Bush is looking to lecture someone about the futility of negotiating with terrorists, he needed only to look around him in the Knesset, or in a mirror.

For decades, Israel has been engaged in one ‘peace process’ or another in which it concedes something of value  to its enemies (who are sworn to Israel’s destruction) in exchange for peace, but the peace never materializes.  (Can someone explain to me how this differs from appeasement?)

The Palestinians, with at least the tacit consent of their government, launch rockets into Israel, and Israel, for its part, keeps a stiff upper lip about the destruction they cause.  On the other hand, if Israel exercises its right of retaliation, they are quickly brought to heel by world opinion for having created a ‘humanitarian crisis.’

For his part, after his trip to Israel, Our Fearless Leader went to Riyadh, where he tried to persuade the Saudis  to open the spigots and produce more oil.  The Saudis said no.  Bush made a similar trip earlier this year, complaining about how the high price of oil was affecting the American economy, with the same result.

On the one hand, the Saudis probably see themselves as businessmen, facing one of the basic problems of any business: establishing the most satisfactory price for their product.  But then why are we trying to bend over backwards to be their friends?  (Oh, that’s right: we do that anyway: at all levels of government, we’re more than happy to help big businesses because they will purportedly help the economy.)

On the other hand, the Saudi government does things to its people that would result in armed revolution if anyone tried them here.  And Saudi Arabia is the homeland of most of the 11 September hijackers.

So are they really our friends?

I don’t know, but I guess we have to keep up the illusion that they are, because otherwise they won’t sell us oil, and then we’ll all starve.