Wake Up America, Part One - Worse than Incompetent
I have been having trouble trying to come to terms with the fact that the American public somehow reelected this ignoramus. I simply cannot - I try to ponder that for a moment or to, and I simply cannot fathom thought process went through the collective heads of 60,000,000 Americans how somehow or other chose to vote for the worst president in the history of the United States.
This post is the first of a three part series entitled "Wake Up America". In this first part, subtitled "Worse than Incompetent", I will explore the historical incompetence of the Bush Administration. This seems like a tired issue that I want to get away from -- but somehow 60,000,000 Americans didn't get the message. It is my hope that, perhaps by the end of this three part series, I will have convinced at least of few of these Bush supporters of the error in their ways.
The second part of this series will be subtitled "The Second Term". After reviewing the dismal record of the Bush Administration during their first term, it is hard to imagine that anything worse could come from the second. Unfortunately, this is a naive view. With no worries about re-election, along with a republican house and senate, the Bush administration will have free reign over the next four years. This is a very frightening situation. In this part of the series, I will examine some of the issues that the Bush administration has claimed they will address over their next term. The checks and balances of the democratic process have failed us - if you do not already agree with that statement, you will by the end of this series. In any sane reality, George W. Bush would never have been re-elected. Our only hope now is to fight the administration every step of the way over the next for years -- part two of this series will discuss what we must do.
The third and final part of this series will be subtitled "Addressing the Real Issues Facing our Nation". Over the past month, you will have no doubt have heard the republican noise machine spouting out that we have a problem with Social Security. That is simply not true -- it is true that we will eventually face a minor funding issue with Social Security, if left unchecked -- in the year 2052. There are far more pressing issues facing our nation, such as dependence on non-renewable energy resources, pollution, global warming, economic injustice and the wage gap, along with large segments of the population who are homeless, uninsured, and employed. These are the issues that we should be addressing as a nation. The great experiment that is the American Dream is failing us, and the Bush Administration is pulling is decades and decades into the wrong direction. When compared to other industrialized nations, the United States lags behind in many quality of life indicators, such as life expectancy, infant mortality, quality of life, quality of health care, pollution levels, and per capita energy expenditure. Yet the Bush Administration continues unabatedly to pull is on the wrong direction. It is time to put a stop to this regressive thinking, and stand up for what we believe in.
Part One - Worse than incompetent
Over the past four years, the Bush administration has demonstrated a tendency to reward incompetence and punish aptness. This behavior emerges from the top levels of the administration, and appears to have permeated into the general public. How else can you explain the fact that they were awarded with a second term after the disgrace of the first four years.
We will begin our judgment of the Bush Administration's first term by looking at several key statistical indicators which should paint a general overall picture of the administration's performance.
Start by taking a look at this chart demonstrating the accumulated national debt. It is somewhat ironic that the major increases in the national debt all occurred during republican administrations -- Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr. When Reagan took office in 1980, the total accumulated national debt was hovering around $1 Billion. In a mere twelve years while Reagan and Bush Sr. in office, the national debt skyrocketed to over $4 Billions dollars, which is over a 300% increase.
Bill Clinton was able to curtail this massive spending spree, and eventually brought us the first budget surplus in decades shortly before he left office. Now, take a look at this chart, demonstrating the year-by-year federal budget deficit/surplus. Notice the extreme disparity between Clinton's final year in office, and Bush's first year in office. In one year, we went from a budget surplus of $250 Billion dollars to the largest deficit in national history. How can such a stark contrast in economic disparity be explained? Perhaps this quote, provided by Vice President Dick Cheney, on November 15th, 2002, will help explain things:
"Reagan proved deficits don't matter."
So, how does the national debt really affect you? For starters, approximately 17 cents out of every dollar collected for tax purposes is immediately applied to interest on the national debt. If this trend continues, we will soon end up in an completely inescapable situation. With only 83 cents remaining out of every dollar, the spending power of the federal government is severely hampered.
Rather than spending a great deal discussing this issue, I will redirect you to this comparison of economic indicators for the the Bush Administration vs. the Clinton Administration, written by the Progressive Policy Institute. The chart at the top of the study is both striking and alarming. The chart compares average annual change on several key economic indicators. The disparity is obvious. The Clinton saw average movement in the right direction on every issue except for one -- trade deficit reduction. The Bush Administration meanwhile, demonstrated movement in the wrong direction on 8 of the 11 economic indicators, and managed to outperform the Clinton Administration on only two issue - productivity and trade deficit reduction.
One of the key issues I'd like to point out is the "Jobs with Good Wages" indicator. The Progressive Policy website describes the "Jobs with Good Wages" indicator as
"This indicator is a weighted index based on the change in the number of jobs in different income quintiles under Clinton and Bush. A positive value represents job growth biased toward higher paying jobs, which reflects an upwardly mobile economy."
The Clinton administration produced an average 4.7% annual increase on this indicator, while the Bush administration has so far produced an average annual decrease of 1%. Coupled with the high levels of unemployment we have witnessed during the Bush administration, you can begin to understand the cause for concern. For the sake of completeness, here is a list of the economic indicators where the Clinton administration outperformed the Bush Administration (For a complete definition of each of these categories, see the full article)
- National Debt Reduction (3.89% to -0.94%)
- Jobs (2.38% to -0.17%
- Full-Time/Part-Time Job s(0.11% to -1.67%)
- Jobs /w Good Wages (4.7% to -1.0%)
- Americans /w Health Insurance (0.32% to -0.55%)
- Per Capita GDP (2.42% to 1.62%)
- Median Household Income (1.65% to -1.15%)
- People out of Poverty (2.29% to -4.33%)
- Homeownership (1.94% to 0.37%)
Moving away from economic indicators, we now turn our attention to social indicators, which should help improve our overall understanding of our nation's health. We start by looking at abortion rates. Remember the election? The major issue cited by many Bush supporters in the vote was "Moral Values". These moral values primarily included abortion and gay marriage. You may be surprised to learn that voting for Bush may actually have the opposite of intended affect. Abortions were on a decade decline when Bush came into office. Every year Clinton was in office, the national abortion rate declined. With Bush in office, abortion rates have actually increased. Why would this happen, you might ask? The primary reason cited for abortions is the inability to pay for the child. Here is a quote from an article on the subject, originally reported in the Houston Chronicle:
"Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, insurance, jobs, child care and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need a president who will do something about jobs, health insurance and support for mothers."
It looks like the original Houston Chronicle article has been removed. Here are two additional links on the subject: The Al Franken Show and e-The-People.
In addition to the abortion rate trend reversal, there has also been a major reversal in national crime rates. Under the Bill Clinton administration, the national crime rate decreased every year that he was in office. While Bush has been in office, the crime rate has increased every year that he was in office. This trend reversal can again be attributed to the nation's economy and overall health.
While we are on the subject of abortion and moral values, I should point out that a recent study found that Red State marriages are 22% less likely than Blue State marriages to end in divorce. The state with the lowest rate of divorce? Massachusetts. So much for "Protecting the Sanctity of Marriage".
The major blunder of the Bush Administration had to be the initiation of the War on Iraq. The administration outright lied about their motivations for the Iraqi War. There were no WMDs, and there was no credible evidence that could be used to confirm this belief. There was no connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission Report confirmed these facts. In the lead up to the war,the Bush administration repeatedly used the phrase "There is no doubt..."
"We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."
oh really...are you so sure about? If not, why didn't you say so when you were asked about the biggest mistake you had made since 9/11?
Time and time again, the Bush Administration has rewarded incompetence. Here is a quick look.
Condoleezza Rice - After 9/11 occurred, the president's National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, was questioned during a hearing about an August 6th Presidential Daily briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S" When questioned, Condi brushed off the importance of the report, stating that it was primarily a "Historical document" She stated "The report did not warn of any coming attack in the United States" Did you read the title, Condi? She also stated "The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States." As the National Security Advisor, is it really prudent to make a distinction between these two cases? The now declassified PDB included statements stating that the terrorist network had undertaken surveillance of buildings in New York, and that the terrorists would likely involve the highjacking of airliners during the terrorist attack. During testimony, Condi also used the phrase that there was "no recommendation of what to do about it." Come on! You are the NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR. That is your job!
Given this document, what she should have done was to contact the FBI to inquire about any suspicious activity involving airliners, and the FAA to provide them with a watch list of known terrorists. If she had done this, she may have learned that in July, a Phoenix FBI agent said that al-Qaeda terrorists may be training at U.S. flight schools and urged a nationwide investigation. This one phone call may have been enough to stop 9/11. Al-Midhar and Alhazmi were already on watch lists. It is understandable that 9/11 may not have been stoppable, but the fact is, Condoleezza refused to accept any responsibility for not taking action on the PDB when it is obvious that the appropriate action should have been taken. Condoleezza Rice should also be infamously known for uttering this terribly alarmist remark:
"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud" How has she been rewarded for this incompetence? How about by being nominated as the new Secretary of State?
Donald Rumsfeld - My last blog entry, Support Our Troops - Condemn the Bush Administration, should be enough to convince you that this guy should resign. In fact, more than half the country now feels that Rumsfeld should be resign. So, what does Bush do? President Bush gave Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld a vote of confidence, stating that Rumsfeld is "doing a really fine job", and that he was "very pleased" when Rumsfeld agreed to stay on. Good one.
The Bush Administration appointed Republican partisan Porter Goss to head the CIA. Since then, the CIA, which already failed America miseribly during 9/11, has seen an exodus of top level officials, resigning out of protest over the partesan control of the government over the CIA. The 9/11 Commission found that CIA and whitehouse were engaged in groupThink -- It appeared that the CIA was simply under task to find as much evidence as they could to support the official republican party line. This was a terrible situation. So, after this was found out, how did they respond? By informing the members of the CIA that all employees within the agency needed to toe the party line. This is an administration that simply doesn't want to hear any dissenting opinion.
Earlier this month, the president awarded medal of Freedom to Paul Bremmer, General Franks, and George Tenet. What a joke! George "Slam Dunk" Tenet was the man who told President Bush that it was a ‘slam dunk’ that Iraq had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Gen. Tommy Franks was the man who reassured Bush and Rumsfeld that we could invade Iraq with only 150,000 troops. Paul Bremmer was the man responsible for disbanding 400,000 Iraqi army and police force officers, who ended up losind their jobs and going home. This has led the the phrase "That guy is one mistake away from a Medal of Freedom".
Meanwhile, there are a few people who have stood up with a dissenting opinion to the Bush Adminstration. Remember Ambassador Joseph Wilson? His op/ed piece What I didn't Find in Africa originally appeared in the New York Times only July 7th, 2003. His reward for standing up to the Bush Administration for misusing prewar intelligence? The outing of his wife, Valarie Plame, as a CIA operative by Karl Rove and Robert Novak. This outing ruined Valarie Plame's career, and bordered on criminal. The message was heard loud and clear. No one would dare mess with this administration and risk a similar fate.
Signs of Life
Over 60,000,000 people voted for the Bush Administration. They must have done something right, didn't they? Let's look at a few of th issues they like to point to as successes.
President Bush likes to point to the No Child Left Behind Act as one of the key selling points for his administration. Unforunately, after passing the act, the administration decided to underfund the promised amount by $27 Billion dollars. State budgets have been left to foot the bill for the shortfall, which has, as a result, led to teacher layoffs and cut programs. This act has had exactly the opposite of the desired affect on the nation's educational system.
The USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) is a terrible concoction. I think they spent more time coming up with a clever title for the bill than actually examining the contents contained within. This bill is a disgrace -- Bush likes to talk about how the terrorists hate our freedom, yet massive American civil liberties and freedoms were curtailed by this bill. The PATRIOT Act was 340 pages long, yet congress was given only 3 days to read it. If you watched Fahrenheit 9/11, you'll witness a congressman stating that they don't even read the bills, because they don't have time to.
Bush Tax Cuts - Bush is the only president in history that has ever cut taxes during war time (which, coincidently, he started) We started with a budget surplus, and we are now facing record budget deficits. Yet, he had the audacity to run his reelection campaign on the idea of reducing the deficit? Just how unfair where these tax cuts? It turns out that 43% of the tax cut went to the wealthiest top 1% of our population. The top 1% of the population makes over $319,000/year, with an average income of $915,000. Yet, the administration continues to argue that the greatest proportion of tax cuts went to the poor. So, yeah, Bush might have saved your family a couple thousand dollars in tax cuts, but that isn't the whole picture. For one, he is robbing from the poor, and giving to the rich. Secondly, he is making future generations (our children and our children's children) pay for his ill-conceived war, and his re-election campaign. It really doesn't get more immoral than this.
The Bush Administration has gotten us into a very fine mess. What justification could possibly be used to validate a vote for Bush. It appears that the incompetence of the Bush administration has indeed permeated into the general public of the United States. Bush has been known to lack intellectual curiosity. The Bush administration refuses to seek outside opinions, often rejecting or ignoring any advice that contradicts their world view. There was plenty of evidence to contradict the idea that there was WMDs in Iraq. The allegations of uranium yellowcake in Niger were contradicted by the testimony of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. The aluminum centrifuge tube evidence was also proved to be completely baseless. The fact is, the Bush Administration was engaged in "GroupThink". They ignored all facts, and rushed as quickly as they could into the quagmire in Iraq, simply because they knew that their political momentum would quickly run dry if they did not act. In short, they pulled a fast one on the American public.
It is now almost two years later. You think the American people would have wizened up by now. Guess again. It turns out that Bush supporters are largely ignorant of facts. A pre-election study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), found that Bush supporters largely believe that Iraq had WMDs, a connection with Al Qaeda, and that the Duelfer report proved the existence of Iraqi WMDs. Also surprising is that a majority of these Bush supporters would not support the war in Iraq if these conditions were not true. Conclusion? Like the president himself, a slim majority of the American public would rather continue to believe what they currently know to be true, rather than pick up a newspaper and learn the facts. Perhaps the preponderance of cable TV networks, such as the highly biased and unfathomable Fox New Network, are to be blamed. The mass media, in general, hasn't been much better. A tighter leash must be put on the Bush Administration -- four more years of unbridled political action from the Bush Administration is more than we can afford to bear.