Today, let us reflect on the legacy of a man who has affected nearly every one of us in some way. A man whose accomplishments are many, and whose single-minded pursuit of a dream changed the world forever.
No, I don’t mean Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m referring to George W. Bush. Let us all take a moment to reflect upon Bush’s last day in office.
Ladies and gentlemen, his legacy:
– The invasion of Iraq. In reality, just lying about the reason our country invaded another would be enough reason to be against the war, but that wasn’t enough. There was also the mismanagement of the war, both militarily and economically; anywhere from 9-23 BILLION FUCK DOLLARS were lost in addition to the vile trillion or so already invested in this bullshit war. The war was illegal. Bush was required to prove to the Congress that Iraq was in violation of UN Resolutions by still being in possession of weapons of mass destruction, and secondly, that Iraq was behind 9-11. Both claims have since been disproved and discredited. Then again, those were never the REAL reasons we invaded Iraq, now were they? But when it comes down to it, the worst part of it all is the lives lost. Everyone talks about the sacrifice made by American soldiers, but their blind devotion to a lie and to an organization, the US military, that sent them to die for the good of a president and sorry lot of corporate criminals is not something I like to champion. Nobody ever mentions the lives of men, women, and children killed in Iraq, as if their deaths weren’t worthy of reflection. NOT ONE HUMAN BEING should have died for Bush and his cronies. And anyone who still thinks it was a matter of national security, contact Colin Powell and ask the motherfucker what he regrets most about his tenure in the Bush administration.
– Afghanistan. Nobody talks about the legality of this war. As far as everybody is concerned, Afghanistan was the “right” war. It was also a violation of US and international law, as the nation of Afghanistan never declared war on the US. To get around that, the Bush Doctrine was created, which stated that no distinction is to be drawn between terrorists and countries that harbor them. I suppose I understand the logic. I wish I could make up my own doctrine and grant myself the right to finally shoot Paris Hilton between the eyes with a ditz-seeking missile. But I don’t.
– The United Nations, the organization we started to keep the peace, rendered irrelevant when Bush decided that the laws we set in place to govern our conduct simply ceased to apply to us (or to Israel, I might add…). When we shit on the UN, we set a precedent for the rest of the world and lost the moral high ground. We equated might with right and lost the world’s trust. It will take decades to restore that trust – assuming we really mean it this time…
– Torture, Abu Ghraib (where it was estimated that 90% of the detainees were innocent), and Guantanamo Bay: just more reasons for the Bush administration’s dedication to rendering the UN irrelevant. It’s hard to torture prisoners of war when the organization you started is calling it a “crime”. Truly puke-worthy and an impeachable offense in and of itself.
– Lost an entire American city on his watch: New Orleans. This happened by appointing a crony to the worst possible position to appoint a crony – head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands, thus proving Kanye West correct.
– ignored the widening annual trillion dollar trade deficit with Asia
– Record high energy prices. Record energy company profits. Dick Cheney’s energy task force meetings remain secret. Need I say more?
– Withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol
– Turned the U.S. Constitution into swiss cheese
– The outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame
– The castration of the EPA and its abhorrent effect on the environment
– Politicized the justice department and fired attorneys who didn’t fall in line with the Bush administration
– No Child Left Behind (or, Cynically Named Piece of Legislation That Leaves As Many Poor Kids Behind as Possible)
– Tax cuts for the rich – at a time when the people need services the most – and a much wider gap between the rich and the poor
– The largest military budget in history
– Killed stem cell research – and lied about it
– Privatization of large chunks of the federal safety net
– Inherited a surplus (which would have gone towards paying off our staggering debt, but anyway…) and left us with the shittiest economy in 80 years…and even more staggering debt.
– Scandal, after scandal, after scandal, after scandal…
– after scandal…
There is, however, a silver lining to Bush’s tenure. Bush had initially campaigned as a uniter, and unite us he did. His inept and corrupt leadership galvanized the progressive movement and secured the rise of America’s first black president. Before Bush, do you think this country would have had the nerve to elect a black man? What better way to celebrate MLK day than by remembering Bush’s single greatest accomplishment while in office: being such an unholy fuck-up that half the country would rather take a chance on an inexperienced black man who admits to having snorted cocaine and listens to Ludacris, than on 4 more years of Republican rule? Things actually got so bad that a large portion of the country decided that racism wasn’t as important to them as finally having a capable, intelligent leader with integrity, regardless of his skin color. King’s dream is but a hair’s-breadth away, and to think, we have Bush to thank for it. So thank you, George W. Bush. What a legacy indeed.
I’ve wizened up to the fact that our military exists as little more than hired muscle for capitalism around the world. Someone gets out of pocket, nationalizes their oil, or decides that it no longer wants to be controlled by western corporations, our leaders call on the armed forces to straighten ’em out. From the Native Americans to the Filipinos, Latin America to the Middle East, our military has a long and brutal history of securing “our interests” and “fighting for freedom”. Is it any wonder that over half of all domestic spending is gobbled up by the Pentagon? OVER. HALF. I understand that it’s not usually in the nature of military men to question their superiors; they merely follow orders. When your Commander in Chief, however, is part of a war-profiteering racket, that kind of trained obedience is both tragic and immoral.
Then you have your military recruiters, people whose job it is to con as many poor kids as possible to fight for a rich man’s right to set up shop in someone else’s backyard. Some appeal to your jingoistic patriotism. I definitely understand anyone who signs up for that reason. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to defend home and country – I just wish people knew better.
The Bush administration is particularly notorious for sneaking in random provisions into their Orwellian laws. – the “No Child Left Behind Act”, for example, also allows military recruiters access to school records so they can call you up and set up an in-house con in person. Some of these military recruiters will appeal to students. They’ll throw around words like “job training” and “success”. I’m sure there are a lot of medics and engineers who got an edge by flaunting their military experience, but for every case like that there’s probably 10 civilians who were chosen for their straight “A”s.
They then dangle the idea of paying for college in your face. It’s particularly nauseating when you’re well aware that the kind of people who take the bait are very poor people – mostly blacks and Latinos. How cynical it is to slash education spending and college grants while giving a bloated military billions of dollars to nudge a poor kid who, without that education or college grant, either has to choose between the military, or in all likelihood, prison.
As if targeting poor minorities weren’t enough, now they go after illegal immigrants, too. (BY THE WAY, PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE.) They too are presented with a cruel and cynical choice: join the military and get first dibs on citizenship, or get deported. The way immigrants have been scapegoated in this country is deplorable; the way they are being taken advantage of by the military, despicable. It’s almost as if we set it up that way; pick on them, make it hard for these hard workers to earn a living, humiliate them, constantly demonize them on the news, then promise them a way to make it all disappear – and all you have to do is sign your life away on the dotted line. PRESTO – Halliburton gets another foot soldier.
Notice the interesting trend here: they take away your education so the army can offer it to you. They deny you the right to live and work so the army can “promise” you citizenship. They keep you dumb and ignorant, fearful and nationalistic, so that you may feel compelled to fight for a hidden, unworthy cause. When you control the options, you get others to play with the cards you deal. So let’s all stop playing. There is always another way. I know because I almost fell victim to it, too. They threw the money angle at me and I couldn’t afford to go to college. I was lucky enough to have parents who knew better, teachers who gave a damn, and scholarships. For others who aren’t so lucky, far be it for me to suggest the path you should take, but I will say this: get informed. For the time being, libraries are still free – do a lot of research. Weigh the options and whether you believe it’s worth it to lose your freedom at best, and your soul at worst, to the military-industrial complex. And for God’s sake, do your fucking homework.
Just in case you missed it:
While Bush is off trying to win the hearts and minds of Latin America (read: PR campaign to offset the growing influence of Hugo Chavez), he made a quick stop in Guatemala where he was greeted by the eternally grateful locals with rose petals and green palms as he rode in on his ass. Of course he couldn’t see where he was going because it’s hard to see with his head that far up his trusty steed. While in Guatemala the locals gave him a hard time about our government’s anti-immigrant efforts. Bush took a minute to espouse the virtues of the guest worker program and for some reason I found it necessary to drop-kick my TV.
The proposed guest worker program pretty much amounts to the continued exploitation of Mexican illegal immigrants in the form of below minimun wage pay (which makes corporations happy), while denying them actual citizenship for all their hard labor – and even giving them a boot after a few years (which makes white trash rednecks happy). As you can see, it satisfies both sides of the Republican constituency – big business and xenophobes.
Here’s a thought – how about you grant them ALL amnesty? Make them permanent residents so that they can actually feed their kids now, and not in the 9 years it will take for the fucking federal government to get around to their citizenship papers. Where’s the fucking humanity? A man has GOT to provide for his family somehow – more power to any man who loves his family so much that he’s willing to brave long, arduous periods of relentless walking; a merciless, scorching desert; and trigger-happy hillbillies with shotguns, just so he can provide for them, without the benefit of even seeing them when he finally comes home from work. This isn’t a crime, it’s a tragedy.
“But they’re breaking The Law!!!”
I love it when Republicans use this argument because the only thing that trumps a humanitarian perspective is an appeal to my utmost humble respect for law and order. It’s also a perfect argument because it conveniently side-steps their hidden (and, as is evident at any Minuteman rally, not so hidden) racism. It’s so cute how the same crooked assholes who got us involved in 2 illegal wars, widespread illegal wiretapping and surveillance in direct violation of constitutional law, Enron, pedophile congressmen, Tom Delay and that creepy trenchcoat guy with the fedora, still dare invoke “The Law” as a real argument. Nevermind that it was also once illegal to teach black people how to read, drink alcohol, or allow closet-Republicans the right to engage in kinky butt-play with their underage male interns in the privacy of their own bathhouses. I have a sinking feeling, however, that if all migrant workers were granted amnesty (thus making them “legal”), these pricks would still throw a fit.
Remember that movie “The Day After Tomorrow”? Remember what happens in the end after the entire US becomes a ski resort? Guess where Americans get to live as refugees for the next thousand years? Here’s a hint: it’s not Canada. How ironic, perhaps even fitting, is it that Americans find themselves illegally crossing the Rio Grande into Mexico so as to avoid falling victims to a humanitarian crisis back home? I guess what I’m getting at is that I can’t wait for a series of freak ice storms to turn the US into a barren, inhospitable wasteland of ice. Or something like that.