"It’s a terribly hard job to spend a billion dollars and get your money’s worth."
     -- George M. Humphrey, U.S. Treasury Secretary, February 23, 1954.
"According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."
-- Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Defense Secretary, September 10, 2001.


The Litmus Test
Posted November 5, 2005 | Link

It can be said that every issue has at least two sides. Although it’s quite possible that each of these sides is valid, equating them to each other often requires a lot of logical manipulation. For example, can you easily justify murder or robbery without a lengthy and complex description of an innocently troubled person who might only exist in your imagination? Luckily, most issues can be resolved rather quickly, such as the terrible job President Bush is doing.

Don’t take my word for it, simply listen to the thousands of protestors at every stop he makes around the world. Can all of these complaints, many from people who have better things to do with their lives than hang out in crowded places for hours on end, be attributable to simple envy of the United States? Of course not. If we were truly the democratic and economic leader of the free world, then people would be turning up to see our leaders and pay respect to them. Instead, we get thousands of Argentineans turning up to shout, “Fascist Bush! You are the terrorist!”

How did this happen? Well, some of it comes with the territory. The truth is that our foreign policy often emphasizes American economic interests over the rights and freedoms of the rest of the world. In some cases, our policies have changed with each administration, causing further chaos around the globe. It’s hard to be complaint-free when you run such a large economic empire with more than 250,000 troops stationed in over 140 different countries. How would we feel if China or Russia had troops permanently situated in lower Manhattan? Unfortunately, the Bush administration has hit even lower lows.

The main reason you haven’t heard more about this is because of two reasons: the mainstream media has largely ignored or downplayed these complaints; and because Bush’s public speeches are heavily sanitized to prevent critics from attending. The latter charge is the more insidious one, and it’s a shame that it’s so commonplace that it rarely gets reported any longer. The truth is that every single planned appearance by Bush includes a thorough screening of all guests to ensure that every one of them is a supporter, or at least not a Democrat. Sure, it’s understandable for a president to present a positive image, but the Bush team’s paranoia is boldly Orwellian. Motorcade routes are scrubbed of protestors, signs of protest are not captured on film, and even people wearing inappropriate shirts are forcibly removed from auditoriums. If you thought that the First Amendment guaranteed free speech, you obviously don’t know this president.

In other countries, where crowd control is either less possible or less important, Bush has faced more honest appraisals. Wherever he goes, thousands of protestors come out to rally against the War on Terror, his authoritarian policies, and the man himself. Ask yourself again, what is the motivation for thousands of people to take the day off of work and spend the day screaming at a foreign dignitary? They’re certainly not being paid for it; they are often going against their own government’s political alliance with the U.S.; it’s also not very likely that Bush owes them any money. It must be something more—something that we don’t want to admit.

The truth is that George W. Bush, has let us down in many ways. Current opinion polls reflect this sentiment, even if the mainstream media has little stomach to report it. The CIA leak scandal that recently indicted Scooter Libby ranks higher on the public attention meter than any other scandal since Watergate. Likewise, Bush’s popularity is the lowest of any president since Richard Nixon. Ironically, John Dean, who was Nixon’s White House Counsel and one of the Watergate cover-up artists, wrote a book claiming that the Bush administration is more damaging—and more secretive about it—than Nixon’s was. Not a very good testimonial.

I miss the optimism that graced our country under the Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton eras. People started to think that anything was possible—world peace, reaching the moon, beating the Soviets, or even becoming rich. Now, the best we can hope for is that our country doesn’t go broke, that we can drive our cars without having to wage land wars in Asia, and that we don’t have to watch the executive branch of our government go on trial again. We can do better.

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