Friday, January 21, 2005

Surreality, part 1

The full text of Bush's second inaugural address.
Running commentaries here, here, here, and most importantly here.
More general commentary here, here, here, here, and here.

12 Comments:

Blogger Management said...

Posted on Thu, Jan. 20, 2005


Full text of Bush's inaugural address



Prepared copy of President George W. Bush's inaugural address:

Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:

On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.

At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.

We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.

My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.

And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.

Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:

From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.

A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy ... the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments ... the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.

All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.

America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.

In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.

In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.

From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?

These questions that judge us also unite us, because Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes - and I will strive in good faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.

We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Management said...

January 20, 2005
A Bellicose Bush

It sure was hard to take Bush’s second inaugural address.

The vainglory, the sanctimony, the cant.

How else to react to a laugher like, “America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling”?

What, pray tell, is Bush doing in Iraq, then?

How else to take a line like, “America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one”?

But America’s vital interests, as defined by this president and several before him, are to protect oil supplies, ensure corporate profits, and to fight terrorism. And if that means coddling Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, or winking at General Musharraf in Pakistan, or sleeping with dictators in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, Bush has no problem with that (see “Beyond Ukraine: Bush Sides with Dictators,” by Amitabh Pal, in the February issue of The Progressive).

How else to stomach Bush’s religiosity? He mentioned “the image of the Maker of Heaven and Earth,” and he said that though “God moves and chooses as he wills,” history “has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.”

If God is the author of liberty, Bush certainly sees himself as that author’s agent. “Because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom,” he said. “By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well—a fire in the minds of men.”

Then, in a creepy way, Bush fell in love with the fire metaphor. Early in his speech, he alluded to 9/11 as “a day of fire.” But here he embraced the fire of liberty. “It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.”

If that isn’t messianic, I don’t know what is.

And to linger over the image of an untamed fire burning those who stand in Bush’s way is not pleasant, to say the least. It also conjures up “the Lake of Fire” and the Armageddon that is so much a part of the rightwing evangelical liturgy.

In megalomaniacal fashion, Bush boasted of being the champion of all oppressed people everywhere. “American’s influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America’s influence is considerable,” he said, “and we will use it confidently in freedom’s cause.”

He set the country on a worldwide crusade, though this time he was prudent enough not to use the word. “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors.” And he warned “the rulers of outlaw regimes” that their days were numbered.

To Iran and North Korea, this was more than a murmur of war. It was war cry.

Bush seemed animated only when he was on the warpath. He discussed domestic issues in the most fleeting way, barely touching the bases of schools, Social Security, and health insurance. Jobs and the environment, among other issues, did not clutter the regal mind.

“We will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal,” he said. But the thrust of his economic programs these last four years, and every indication of his programs to come, is to increase the ranks of the poor and widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

He stressed the need for “private character” even as the government’s public character becomes coarser and more indifferent.

He tossed out a veiled reference to protecting the fetus (“even the unwanted have worth”) and hinted at defending the exclusive institution of heterosexual marriage (as when he referred to “ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever”).

But he skated over these sections with little of the enthusiasm he displayed for his martial darts.

Fortunately, a few faint voices of genuine freedom could be heard before Bush finished, These brave dissidents, exercising their First Amendment rights, managed to heckle the President and throw him slightly off pace as he came to the end.

These voices, and those of protesters along the parade route, serve as a reminder to Bush that he is not king, not yet.

-- Matthew Rothschild

7:47 AM  
Blogger Management said...

An Empty Exercise in Deceit
01/20/2005 @ 2:57pm
President Bush has not lost his flair for irony.

Just as the President hit the point in his second inaugural address where he declared to the dissidents of the world that "when you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you," authorities were removing peaceful protesters from the regal one's line of sight.

It was a similar juxtaposition of lofty rhetoric and less-than-lofty deeds that made the first term of the Bush presidency so unsettling to thinking people in the United States and abroad. And nothing in Thursday's inaugural ceremony suggested that the second term would be any better. Even as American forces remained mired in the quagmire of Iraq into which they were led by the Bush Administration's deliberate misreading of intelligence information, the President offered no indication whatsoever that he had learned from the mistakes and misdeeds of his first term.

Bush's lack of self-reflection belied the occasionally humble notes struck during his twenty-minute address. And it called into question the speech's bold assertions:

§ "Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen," said Bush, who declared, "America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling." Sounds great. But should anyone read that as an abandonment of the doctrine of preemptive war that served as an excuse for the unilateral invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq during the President's first term? The President provided no such indication, and his record recommends the most extreme skepticism.

§ "We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny," Bush said as he specifically addressed dissidents around the world, urging them to resist oppression and issuing that ringing promise that, "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." Does this mean that when challenges are mounted to the oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt or elsewhere, the United States will take the side of the rebels? Can we expect the United States to impose trade sanctions on China because of that country's brutal occupation of Tibet, its jailing of dissidents and its smashing of movements for trade unionism, religious freedom and democracy? If the leaders of Russia continue to dismantle that country's freedoms, will that put them on the wrong side of the United States? The sad truth is that Bush's Republican allies continue to ridicule former President Jimmy Carter for attempting to use economic sanctions and other diplomatic tools to oppose tyranny.

§ "America's influence is considerable, and we will use it competently in freedom's cause," the President announced. That's a reasonable sentiment. But should anyone take this as an acknowledgment that poor planning, self-delusion and isolation from the world made the Iraq occupation the mess that it is? Or that the United States will now set a different course? Read Sy Hersh's latest report in The New Yorker on maneuvering within the Administration to launch a guaranteed-to-be-disastrous war with Iran and you will have a hard time believing that competence and common sense have won out.

§ Speaking of what he called the "essential work at home," the President said he was determined to "make our society more just and equal." But how does he reconcile that pledge with the growing gap between rich and poor, assaults on affirmative action programs that allow victims of past discrimination to get an equal footing in society, and scheming to dismantle the safety-net protections of Social Security, Medicare and other programs?

§ The President affirmed his faith in "the durable wisdom of the Constitution." That's a fine choice of words. But does that mean that a second Bush Administration will begin dismantling the Patriot Act and other policies that undermine constitutional protections? Does that mean that he will refuse to nominate anyone to the federal bench who does not respect the Constitution's well-defined right of privacy--particularly as it relates to a woman's right to choose?

It would be appealing to take George W. Bush at his word. But, considering his track record, that is not an option. In fact, if history is a guide, the one guarantee we have is that Bush's words will not match his deeds. And his inaugural address will be remembered as nothing more than an empty exercise in deceit.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Pomp and Improper Circumstance
By Robert Scheer, AlterNet
Posted on January 18, 2005, Printed on January 21, 2005
http://www.alternet.org/story/21013/

On Thursday, an estimated $40 million worth of inaugural pomp and circumstance will only temporarily triumph over an incalculable record of deceit and error.

Of course, some might say it's tacky to rain on the president's parade, but two crucial news stories compel it.

First came the report, confirmed by the White House, that the fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had officially but secretly ended shortly before Christmas without, of course, any sign of the much discussed weapons that were such a critical justification for the war in the first place. This was followed by the astounding claim by the president that his narrow election victory in November absolved him of accountability for both the false rationales and outright lies used to justify the invasion, and the disastrous occupation that followed.

"Well, we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush told the Washington Post in an interview published Friday. "And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

Actually, the election provided no such moment of accountability because both major-party candidates had supported the war. John Kerry had voted to authorize the use of force against Iraq – and then inexplicably said on the campaign trail that he would have voted the same way even after learning that Congress and the American public had been deceived on the war's justification. The Democratic Party nominee even endorsed larger troop commitments to occupy a country where every Western soldier on the ground fuels nationalist and religious rage.

And although it is true that Bush secured a (very slim) majority of the popular vote, it is a portent of how history will judge him that the days ahead of his inauguration have been soured by a string of critical statements about his Iraq policy from some of the biggest Iraq hands in the Republican ranks.

Brent Scowcroft, the retired lieutenant general who was national security advisor to the president's father during the first Iraq war, warned ominously that the upcoming Iraqi national elections "won't be a promising transformation, and it has great potential for deepening the conflict. We may be seeing incipient civil war at this time."

Even the Bush family's consigliore is concerned enough to speak out publicly. James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state who has been working at Bush's behest to win international debt relief for conquered Iraq, is talking publicly about the need for a phased withdrawal: "Any appearance of a permanent occupation will both undermine domestic support here in the United States and play directly into the hands of those in the Middle East who – however wrongly – suspect us of imperial design."

Undaunted by such pragmatism, President "Mission Accomplished" Bush twice demurred in his interview with the Post from Colin Powell's prediction that U.S. troops would begin leaving Iraq in the next year.

Despite what Bush may think, elections grant leaders temporary power, but it is history that determines the rightness and wrongness of their actions. As Abraham Lincoln noted, you can even fool all of the people some of the time. That is why the nation's founders designed the Constitution to check the unbridled rule of the majority lest, driven by the passions of the moment, it embrace devastating error or even tyranny.

Consider that even without the debacle of Watergate, the reputation of the man who soundly defeated war hero and anti-war candidate George McGovern was ultimately doomed by his immoral and irrational decision to carpet-bomb most of Southeast Asia for years in a vain attempt to secure victory against a seemingly outmatched Third World country.

As we honor Medal of Freedom winner Martin Luther King Jr., a prophet of peace, it is depressing to consider that our president has just bestowed that same medal – the highest civilian honor in the land – on ex-CIA Director George Tenet and ex-Iraqi administrator L. Paul Bremer III.

After all, it was Tenet who kept Congress in the dark about the agency's considerable intelligence that contradicted the White House lies about Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program and ties to al Qaeda. And it was the bumbling Bremer who assured us throughout his stay in Iraq that everything over there was just going swimmingly – instead of admitting that it was actually going to hell in a handbasket.

No matter his electoral victory, Bush will never be absolved of sending young people to kill and be killed in a war without moral justification.

One does not have to be a Catholic to agree with the pope that the invasion of Iraq fails to meet the Christian standard of a "just war."

7:54 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Bush changes White House rhetoric about God

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

By DAVID DOMKE AND KEVIN COE
GUEST COLUMNISTS

In tomorrow's Inaugural address, George W. Bush will invoke God. We guarantee it -- presidents always do so at inaugurations. That he believes in or refers to a supreme power is not what distinguishes Bush from other modern U.S. presidents. What makes Bush notable is how much he talks about God and what he says when he does so.

The president referenced a higher power 10 times in his first Inaugural, including this claim: "I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity. I know this is in our reach because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves, who creates us equal, in His image." In his three State of the Union addresses since, Bush invoked God another 14 times.

No other president since Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933 has mentioned God so often in his Inaugurations or State of the Unions. The closest to Bush's average of six references per each of these addresses is Ronald Reagan, who averaged 4.75 in his comparable speeches. Jimmy Carter, considered as pious as they come among U.S. presidents, had only two mentions of God in four addresses. Other also-rans in total God talk were Roosevelt at 1.69 and Lyndon Johnson at 1.50 references per Inaugurals and State of the Unions.

God talk in these addresses is important because in these ritualized occasions any religious language becomes fused with U.S. identity. This is particularly so since the advent of radio and television, which have facilitated presidents' ability to connect with the U.S. public writ large; indeed, Inaugurals and State of the Unions commonly draw large media audiences.

Bush also talks about God differently than most other modern presidents. Presidents since Roosevelt have commonly spoken as petitioners of God, seeking blessing, favor and guidance. This president positions himself as a prophet, issuing declarations of divine desires for the nation and world. Among modern presidents, only Reagan has spoken in a similar manner -- and he did so far less frequently than has Bush.

This striking change in White House rhetoric is apparent in how presidents have spoken about God and the values of freedom and liberty, two ideas central to American identity. Consider a few examples:

Roosevelt in 1941, in a famous address delineating four essential freedoms threatened by fascism, said: "This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God."

Similarly, Dwight Eisenhower in 1954, during the height of the Cold War, said: "Happily, our people, though blessed with more material goods than any people in history, have always reserved their first allegiance to the kingdom of the spirit, which is the true source of that freedom we value above all material things ... So long as action and aspiration humbly and earnestly seek favor in the sight of the Almighty, there is no end to America's forward road; there is no obstacle on it she will not surmount in her march toward a lasting peace in a free and prosperous world."

Contrast these statements, in which presidents spoke as petitioners humbly asking for divine guidance, with Bush's claim in 2003 that "Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity." This is not a request for divine favor; it is a declaration of divine wishes.

Such rhetoric positions the president as a prophetic spokesman for God rather than as a petitioning supplicant. Such certitude is dangerous -- even for those who share such views -- because U.S. presidents have the unique ability to act upon their beliefs in ways that affect billions of people worldwide.

One is inclined to hope that Bush might recall the words of St. Augustine of Hippo to a student: "I wouldn't have you prepare for yourself any way of grasping and holding the truth other than the one prepared by him who, as God, saw how faltering were our steps. That way is, first, humility; second, humility; third, humility; and as often as you ask, I'll tell you, humility."

David Domke is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. He is the author of "God Willing? Political Fundamentalism in the White House, the 'War on Terror' and the Echoing Press" (Pluto Press, 2004). Kevin Coe is a doctoral student in the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Illinois.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Management said...

For the curious or the bored, here's an analysis of the frequency of Bush's chatter...
Inspired by a piece on the Daily Show, I decided to run my word-frequency analysis tool on Bush's inauguration speech. I've taken out extremely common words like "the" and "and". The format you'll see here is the number of times a group of words was used followed by the words that were used that number of times.

25 - freedom
15 - liberty
12 - America
11 - all
10 - every, because, their
9 - I, one, nation, own
8 - when, world, America's, country, Americans
7 - who, free, time, history
6 - work, human, people, must, day, hope, citizens, seen, justice, know, cause
5 - tyranny, came, those, rights
4 - president, fire, choice, character, life, great, good, some, states, there, now, united, long
3 - determined, goal, others, serve, God, forward, move, dignity, just, honor, always, governments, ideal, ideals, questions, another, fellow, power, excuse, before, independence, permanent, same, today, years, live, rule, society, soul, institutions, chose, single, under, us, defended, force, security, task, they, find

Here are the most common two-word phrases from Bush's speech, sometimes including commonly-used words if the combination seemed interesting:

13 - of the, of our
12 - of freedom
11 - in the
10 - we have, we will
9 - is the
8 - in our
7 - our country
6 - by the, for the, on the, of liberty
5 - work of, because we, and we, freedom and, have seen, all the
4 - and our, the world, you have, can know, united states, our own, those who, it is, their own
3 - day of, will not, on this, our world, to serve, our time, must be, one another, years of, liberty in, ideal of, force of, to our, a single, america will, we are, do not, justice and, our nation, rule of, the rule [he probably was always saying "the rule of"]

As you might imagine, with most prose, as the count decreases, the number of words grouped under that count generally increases rapidly. I've omitted the words and phrases used only once or twice, because they're basically everything else that Bush said.

Kudos to the Daily Show for noticing and making a very humorous deal of the Freedom/Liberty thing. Sometimes you can indeed get an idea of the point someone is trying to get across by the words they repeat. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to find the themes.

---Nick

8:07 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Bush's Words On Liberty Don't Mesh With Policies
U.S. Maintains Close Ties With Repressive Nations

By Glenn Kessler and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 21, 2005; Page A25

President Bush's soaring rhetoric yesterday that the United States will promote the growth of democratic movements and institutions worldwide is at odds with the administration's increasingly close relations with repressive governments in every corner of the world.

Some of the administration's allies in the war against terrorism -- including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan -- are ranked by the State Department as among the worst human rights abusers. The president has proudly proclaimed his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin while remaining largely silent about Putin's dismantling of democratic institutions in the past four years. The administration, eager to enlist China as an ally in the effort to restrain North Korea's nuclear ambitions, has played down human rights concerns there, as well.

Bush's speech "brought to a high level the gap between the rhetoric and reality in U.S. foreign policy," said Thomas Carothers, co-author of a new book, "Uncharted Journey: Promoting Democracy in the Middle East."

"The rhetoric is seamless, but the policy is very muddled. In fact, the war on terrorism has pushed the U.S. to be friendlier with nondemocratic regimes," said Carothers, director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Administration officials say Bush's goals are a "generational challenge" and should not be judged by the results of one or even two terms. In the speech yesterday, Bush said that "success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people." But often in the first term, Bush's objectives on democracy were set aside for more pressing and immediate concerns, such as need for cooperation in the war on terrorism.

Autocratic rulers in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, moreover, would be likely to be replaced by opponents of U.S. policy if free and fair elections were held there today.

Since shortly before the invasion of Iraq, the president has advocated democracy in the Middle East in a series of bold statements and speeches. But the follow-up has often fallen short. In a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy on Nov. 6, 2003, Bush pointed to Egypt, ruled for almost a quarter of a century by President Hosni Mubarak, and declared that the Arab country "should show the way toward democracy in the Middle East."

But Mubarak, who appears likely to run for president this year in yet another tightly controlled election, has sidestepped possible U.S. pressure to reform by providing key assistance in bids to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To this day, the government of Egypt retains veto power over which nongovernmental groups can receive any of the nearly $2 billion in annual U.S. aid.

Egypt has helped the war on terrorism in less savory ways. Bush expressed support yesterday for "democratic reformers facing repression, prison or exile." But in late 2001, U.S. authorities forcibly transferred an Australian citizen to Egypt, where, he alleges, he was tortured for six months before being flown to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Human rights experts said Bush's commitment to freedom is undercut by such actions, as well as the administration's treatment of detainees and terrorist suspects at Guantanamo, the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, was struck by the fact that Bush mentioned "liberty" repeatedly but did not use the phrase "human rights" as an overriding goal.

"The decision to speak in terms of liberty instead of human rights was deliberate," Roth said. "Liberty is an abstract concept, but human rights bind everyone, including the Bush administration. It's easy to say I'm for liberty but difficult to say I'm for human rights when he's overseeing what we know is a conscious policy of coercive interrogation, including inhuman treatment and sometimes torture."

During her confirmation hearings this week, Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice also stressed that she would focus on spreading democracy and freedom around the globe. Several senators questioned her on the inconsistency of the administration's approach, notably Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.). He challenged her to explain why the administration looks the other way when it comes to countries with near-dictatorships, such as Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan, while heaping scorn on nations with some level of elections, such as Venezuela and Iran.

"Some of this is a matter of trend lines and where countries have been and where they are now going," Rice replied. Countries are "going to move at different speeds on this democracy test. I don't think there is any doubt about that. But what we have to do is that we have to keep this item on the agenda."

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless coup, reneged last month on a promise to give up his title as army chief of staff, eliciting little protest from the administration. At her hearings, Rice said she felt that Pakistan has "come a long way" in recent years because Musharraf broke ties with the Taliban, which had ruled Afghanistan, and assisted in fighting al Qaeda.

The State Department, in its annual human rights report, has cited Uzbekistan for its "very poor" human rights record, including the torture and killing of citizens in custody for political reasons. There is virtually no freedom of speech or of the press.

Yet Bush met with Uzbekistan's president in 2002 and signed a declaration of "strategic partnership," and senior officials such as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have visited the country. The United States "values Uzbekistan as a stable, moderate force in a turbulent region," the State Department said late last year.

Jennifer L. Windsor, executive director of Freedom House, said Bush's goals are laudable, but "my sense from the first four years is that you didn't see that consistency of message in all parts of the administration."

She noted that the administration signed free-trade deals with Morocco and Bahrain, which, after some promising steps toward political reforms, have begun to crack down on human rights groups.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Black Antler said...

amen, amen, and amen

8:24 AM  
Blogger Black Antler said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Below is my running commentary on Bush's inaugural speech. Too bad heckling the president is a federal crime.

....We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

And have you notified the leaders of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and Uzbekistan that you're going to make bringing liberty and freedom to their lands the number-one national security priority for your administration?

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government.

Is that why we overthrew democratic governments in Iran and Chile and cozied up to the racist regime in South Africa? for years.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

What have you done lately to support the democrats of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Russia, or China?

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen.

Did Iraqis choose to be invaded and occupied in a fashion that has led to tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths?

America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

So why did your administration impose its choice for Iraqi interim president upon the UN official in charge of selecting the person for that post?

The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.

After the first Persian Gulf War, the Kuwait government promised to implement democratic reforms. It has not kept its promises, Have you used his considerable influence to promote freedom and democracy there?

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people.

Does Pakistan "President" Pervez Musharraf know about this?

Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty.

Please, Mr. President, name someone who has. You often say this, but you never tell us who you have in mind. We cannot hound these people out of polite society until you tell us who they are.

Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals.

Should they be surprised by the fact that America's standing abroad is at an all-time low?

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world: All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Mr. President, if a fellow were to stand in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square after hearing this speech, what precisely would you do for him?

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

Will US ambassadors in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Russia, China, Uzbekistan and elsewhere demand access to imprisoned dissidents and political opponents, explaining to the governments of those countries that the United States recognizes these people as the "future leaders"?

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

You neglected to mention that Alabama voters in November rejected a measure that would have erased provisions in the state's constitution that support segregated schools and the use of poll taxes.

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them.

When American citizens wanted to know which energy industry executives were advising Vice President Cheney's energy task force, you weren't keen on trusting them. You and Cheney refused to share this information with the "people." Do you have trust issues?

And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel.

But we will dismiss your counsel--and even deride it--if it does not accord with our own views.

Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies.

Yet in 2003 you showed no concern that your decision to short-circuit the inspections process in Iraq and launch an invasion without the support of the UN and key allies would lead to "division among free nations."

Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens: From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure.

But you have not dared asked the wealthiest among us to pay a dime extra for our defense in these difficult times. In fact, you have not even asked them to pay the same tax rates under which they got rich in the first place.

Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom.

Perhaps more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians are dead because you have "acted." How about compensation for their families?

And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well--a fire in the minds of men.

The National Intelligence Council notes that the war in Iraq has created a breeding ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists. Did you read its report?

All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself -- and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.

But you're not going to ask your kids to go over there, right?

In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character -- on integrity....

Such as leaders telling the truth about national security threats?

...and tolerance toward others.

But apparently not gay people who want to live in legally-recognized, committed, stable relationships.

Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self.

Unless, of course, the issue is reproductive rights. In that case, we do not believe in self-government of the self.

That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people.

By the way, do you still believe, as you once said, that God does not hear the prayers of Jews?

In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak.

Which is why your administration has been considering cutbacks in programs for low-income Americans.

Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth.

But we can execute those who commit a crime--even if they have lousy lawyers.

And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.

See Alabama.

Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes -- and I will strive in good faith to heal them.

How? By continuing your practice of saying untrue remarks about your political opponents?

Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart.

And why was it that you could not maintain that unity as the grand leader of the nation? Why did you claim during the 2002 congressional campaign that Democrats put their own political self-interest about the national security of the nation?

America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength -- tested, but not weary -- we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

When--and, more importantly, where? Please tell us.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Management said...

The War That Dare Not Speak Its Name
Sean Aday (1:18PM) link

Not a word on Iraq.
Lead to AP reporter Ron Fournier's analysis of President Bush's Inaugural Address.

Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, members of the United States Congress, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:

FONSECA, Jesus, 19, Pfc., Army; Marietta, Ga.; Second Infantry Division. SULLIVAN, Christopher J., 29, Capt., Army; Princeton, Mass.; First Cavalry Division. VITAGLIANO, Thomas E., 33, Staff Sgt., Army; New Haven, Second Infantry Division. HOLTER, Paul C. III, 21, Cpl., Marines; Corpus Christi, Tex.; First Marine Division. BECKER, Gunnar D., 19, Pfc., Army; Forestburg, S.D.; First Infantry Division.

I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.

HOLLOWAY, Matthew W., 21, Lance Cpl., Marine Corps Reserves; Fulton, Tex.; Fourth Marine Division. SMITH, Michael J., 24, Specialist, Army; Media, Pa.; Second Infantry Division. MANUEL, William F., 34, Staff Sgt., Army National Guard; Kinder, La.; Third Battalion, 156th Infantry, 256th Infantry Brigade. FITE, Joseph E., 23, Corporal, Marines; Round Rock, Tex.; Fourth Marine
Division. GUASTAFERRO, Daniel F., 27, Pfc., Army; Las Vegas; First Army Battalion. JOHNSON, David W., 37, Specialist, Army National Guard; Portland, Ore.; Second
Battalion, 162nd Infantry.

At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together.

VONRONN, Kenneth G., 20, Pfc., Army; Bloomingburg, N.Y.; 42nd Infantry Division. COMEAUX, Kurt J., 34, Sgt. First Class, Army National Guard; Raceland, La.; 256th Infantry Brigade. BUIE, Jimmy D., 44, Specialist, Army National Guard; Floral, Ark.; Third Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade. DEPEW, Cory R., 21, Pvt., Army; Beech Grove, Ind.; 25th Infantry Division. McVEY, Otie J., 53, Sgt. First Class, Army Reserve; Oak Hill, W.V.; 706th Transportation Company.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

BLANTON, Jeffery S., 23, Lance Cpl., Marines; Fayetteville, Ga.; Third Marine Division. HOYT, Robert W., 21, Specialist, Army National Guard; Ashford, Conn.; First Battalion, 102nd Infantry. LEACH, Patrick D., 39, Chief Warrant Officer, Army National Guard; Rock Hill, S.C.; First Battalion, 151st Aviation. ADLESPERGER, Christopher S., 20, Pfc., Marines; Albuquerque; First Marine Division. RENEHAN, Kyle J., 21, Cpl., Marines; Oxford, Pa.; Marine Air Control Group 28, Second Aircraft Wing.

My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people from further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm….

HARRISON, George D., 22, Pfc., Army; Knoxville, Tenn.; Third Infantry Division. WILSON, Bryan S., 22, Cpl., Marines; Otterbein, Ind.; First Marine Division. CALDERON, Pablo A., 26, Sgt., Army; New York City; First Cavalry Division. DAVIS, Daryl A., 20, Specialist, Army National Guard; Orlando, Fla.; 144th Transportation Company. DIAZVARELA, Sergio R., 21, Specialist, Army; Lomita, Calif.; First Battalion, 503rd Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team.

We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

BENISH, Stephen C., 20, Pfc., Army; Clark, N.J.; Second Infantry Division. BROOKS, Adam R., 20, Lance Cpl., Marines; Manchester, N.H.; Second Marine Division. BOSSELMANN, Kirk J., 21, Cpl., Marines; Napa, Calif.; Second Marine Division. CANTAFIO, Ryan J., 22; Pfc., Marine Reserves; Beaver Dam, Wis., Fourth Marine Division. NOLAN, Joseph M. 27, Sgt., Army; Philadelphia; 312th Military Intelligence Battalion, First Cavalry Division.

Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens: From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure.

COHEN, Michael R., 23, Cpl., Marines; Jacobus, Pa.; Third Marine Division. ARMS, Bradley T., 20, Cpl., Marine Corps Reserve; Charlottesville, Va.; Fourth Marine Division. HANKS, Michael W., 22, Lance Cpl., Marines; Gregory, Mich.; First Marine Division. FIGUEROA, Luis A., 21, Lance Cpl., Marines; Los Angeles; First Marine Division. DIMA, Catalin D., 36, Sgt., Army Reserve; White Lake, N.Y.; 411th Engineer Brigade, New Windsor, N.Y.

Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon.

HEFLIN, Christopher T., 26, Sgt., Marines; Paducah, Ky.; First Marine Division. QUALLS, Louis W., 20, Lance Cpl., Temple, Tex.; Fourth Marine Division. AILES, Jeramy A., 22, Lance Cpl., Marines; Gilroy, Calif.; First Marine
Division. BURGER, Dale A. Jr., 21, Cpl., Marines; Port Deposit, Md.; First Marine
Division. BRYAN, Benjamin S., 23, Lance Cpl., Marines; Lumberton, N.C.; First Marine Division.

I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes.

FREEMAN, Bryan L., 31, Specialist, Army Reserve; Lumberton, N.J.; 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion. CAMACHO-RIVERA, Carlos M., 24, Sgt., Army; Carolina, P.R.; 368th Transportation Company, 11th Transportation Battalion.
WENTZ, Cody L., 21, Specialist, Army National Guard; Williston, N.D.; 141st
Engineer Battalion. BARO, Jeremiah A., 21, Cpl., Marines; Fresno, Calif.; First Marine Division. HUBBARD, Jared P., 22, Lance Cpl., Marines; Clovis, Calif.; First Marine Division.

From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?

BARBRET, Mark A., 22, Pfc., Army; Shelby Township, Mich.; 44th Engineer Battalion. MORENO, Jaime, 28; Specialist, Army; Round Lake Beach, Ill.; 20th Engineer Battalion, First Cavalry Division. BAKER, Ronald W., 34, Specialist, Army National Guard; Cabot, Ark.; 39th Support Battalion. FELSBERG, Paul M., 27, 2nd Lt., Marines; West Palm Beach, Fla.; First Marine Division. BURBANK, Michael L., 34, Staff Sgt., Army; Bremerton, Wash., First Squadron, 14th Cavalry.

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, It rang as if it meant something.

JACOBS, Morgen N., 20, Specialist, Army; Santa Cruz, Calif.; First Infantry Division. KIM, Jeungjin Na, 23, Private, Army; Honolulu; Second Infantry Division. PREVETE, James E., 22, Pfc., Army;Queens, N.Y.; First Battalion, 506th Infantry. BROWN, Andrew W., 22, Sgt., Army; Pleasant Mount, Pa.; First Battalion, 509th Infantry. CAWVEY, Jessica L., 21, Specialist, Army National Guard; Normal, Ill.; 1544th Transportation Company.

May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.

And the other 1,316 U.S. military personnel who have died needlessly in Iraq.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Freedom from Reality

By Robert Parry
January 26, 2005
One of the most troubling crises confronting the world today is that the U.S. Executive Branch – controlling the most fearsome arsenal in history – has largely detached itself from reality and faces no counterforce in Washington capable of bringing it back down to earth.

In that sense, George W. Bush’s second Inaugural Address on Jan. 20 stood out as a defining moment. Bush wrapped a grim record of presidential abuses – an unprovoked invasion, extraordinary secrecy, tolerance of torture and indefinite imprisonments without trial – in the noble cloak of “freedom” and “liberty,” words he uttered 27 and 15 times respectively, as if words can amend truth.

Bush’s speech also ignored the fact that he and his supporters have consistently harassed and denigrated dissidents at home, often by tarring them as disloyal or crazy. Remember, for instance, the vicious attacks from the Right against former Vice President Al Gore in fall 2002 when he questioned the justification for rushing to war with Iraq.

This hostility toward dissent has continued to the present as some conservative pundits, such as the Washington Times’ Tony Blankley, are suggesting that journalist Seymour Hersh be investigated for espionage for writing an article in the New Yorker about the Bush administration’s secret military operations in Iran and elsewhere.

“Federal prosecutors should review the information disclosed by Mr. Hersh to determine whether or not his conduct falls within the proscribed conduct of the [espionage] statute,” Blankley wrote. [Washington Times, Jan. 19, 2005]

Ironically, Blankley is the editorial page editor for a newspaper financed by South Korean theocrat Sun Myung Moon, who has vowed to eradicate American democracy and who was identified by a congressional probe in the late 1970s as an operative for the South Korean intelligence agency. [For details on Moon’s background and his relationship with the Bush family, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

Professed Love

George W. Bush’s professed love for democratic principles also appears to be stronger when he’s lecturing other countries abstractly rather than when he’s actually practicing the civics lessons at home. Four days after what he called his Inaugural “freedom speech,” there was an ill-timed reminder of Bush’s personal double standards about democracy.

The Washington Post’s Al Kamen updated the political success stories that have followed the Republican activists who served as Bush’s street thugs during the Florida recount battle of four years ago. On Nov. 22, 2000, in what became known as the “Brooks Brothers Riot” – named for the preppie clothing of the rioters – the Bush operatives stormed Miami’s polling headquarters, pounded on doors and roughed up Democrats, leading city officials to abandon the counting of more than 10,000 ballots.

Though supposedly a protest by local citizens outraged over how the recount was being conducted, many of the participants were identified in a photo as Republican congressional staffers and Bush campaign workers who had been sent in to disrupt the vote counts. After the riot, the Bush campaign threw a celebratory party that featured crooner Wayne Newton singing “Danke Schoen.” The rioters also got a personal thank-you call from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush’s Conspiracy to Riot.”]

“Some of those pictured [in the riot photo] have gone on to other things, including stints at the White House,” Kamen wrote. “For example, Matt Schlapp, …, a former House aide and then a Bush campaign aide, has risen to be White House political director.” [Washington Post, Jan. 24, 2005]

Though Bush’s disruptive tactics in November 2000 delayed or obstructed local recounts, the Florida state Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount in early December. But Bush did not sit back and meekly accept the will of the voters. Instead, he sent his lawyers to the U.S. Supreme Court where he got five Republican allies to block the recount and hand him the presidency.

An unofficial recount, later done by news organizations, found that if all legal votes had been counted in Florida, Al Gore – not George W. Bush – would have become President of the United States. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “So Bush Did Steal the White House.”]

More Bare Knuckles

In Campaign 2004, Bush again demonstrated the Bush family’s bare-knuckled approach to politics.

As in other George Bush campaigns – by both father and son – there was the usual litany of dirty tricks and front-group smear operations, this time, including a well-coordinated assault on John Kerry’s Vietnam War heroism. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Reality on the Ballot” and “Bushes Play the ‘Traitor’ Card.”]

Other Bush campaign tactics were designed to suppress the Democratic vote, especially in African-American neighborhoods, by adopting aggressive “ballot security” procedures and through the creation of long voting lines.

So, while many Republican strongholds in the key state of Ohio had lots of voting machines and only brief waits, many Democratic-leaning precincts were shorted on voting machines causing delays that stretched on for hours. Many time-pressed voters had to give up because of child-care demands at home or the need to get to work.

Defeated candidate Kerry said the tactics suppressed the votes of “thousands” of Americans. “Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways,” Kerry said on Jan. 18. “In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, 11 hours to vote, while Republicans (went) through in 10 minutes.” [For more on the voting irregularities and the post-election battle, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush’s Unaccountability Moment.”]

Instead of joining Kerry in expressing concerns about this disenfranchisement of voters, Bush has remained silent while his supporters have denounced challenges to voting irregularities as “conspiracy theories.” In Ohio, Republican Attorney General James Petro has even sought sanctions against four Election Protection attorneys who filed a lawsuit seeking an investigation of the Ohio balloting.

On Jan. 18, Attorney General Petro filed a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court calling the election challenges “frivolous” and demanding fines and other court sanctions against lawyers Robert Fitrakis, Susan Truitt, Cliff Arnebeck and Peter Peckarsky. Lawyer Arnebeck responded that the real abuse of process came from Petro and Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who have refused to cooperate with the investigation into Election Day problems.

“They are just beside themselves because they cannot withstand cross examination,” Arnebeck said, according to the Columbus Free Press.

Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to Petro, protesting the Ohio attorney general’s attempt to punish the four lawyers.

“One would be hard pressed to see how the legal challenges brought under the Ohio election challenge statute were ‘frivolous,’” Conyers wrote. “It is widely known that the Ohio presidential election was literally riddled with irregularities and improprieties, many of which are set forth in the 102-page report issued by the House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff.”

Fawning Commentary

Despite this old and new history of Bush’s highhanded approach toward democracy, newspaper and TV commentators largely accepted Bush’s Inaugural declarations about “freedom” and “liberty” at face value.

Though some columnists have questioned the feasibility of Bush’s “ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world,” almost no one in Washington has questioned Bush’s sincerity. The idea that Bush might be a hypocrite – hiding an autocratic reality under the cover of democratic rhetoric – is presumably beyond the bounds of the capital’s conventional wisdom.

The Washington Post’s David S. Broder, known as the “dean” of the national press corps, wrote a glowing tribute to Bush’s “eloquent” speech, which Broder cited as proof that Bush was holding steadfast to his goal of achieving “the worldwide realization of the ideals of freedom and democracy.” [Washington Post, Jan. 21, 2005]

Another Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. chimed in that “every American will cheer the president’s repeated reference to the U.S. obligation to hold high the torch of freedom.” Dionne, a supposed liberal, gushed further, “I love what the president said about our obligation to dissidents around the world.”

But Dionne expressed some reservations about “whether the president has been candid about the costs of his all-embracing vision, about how to pay for it and raise the troops to fight it.” He also wondered “how consistently we will stand up for embattled democratic reformers” in China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. [Washington Post, Jan. 21, 2005]

In a follow-up column four days later, Dionne added to these mild criticisms by noting that White House aides and Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, had explained that the “freedom speech” didn’t signal any real change in U.S. policies.

“People want to read a lot into it – that this means new aggression or newly asserted military forces,” the elder George Bush told reporters. “That’s not what the speech is about. It’s about freedom.”

In other words, the speech was about words, not reality.

But like other Washington commentators, Dionne still didn’t question George W. Bush’s honesty, only his tactics. The columnist termed this Bush “freedom shuffle” a “terrible mistake” that might engender more cynicism that “if it spreads further through the Muslim world, could doom the very best aspirations of Bush’s policy.” [Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2005]

Autocratic Friends

Left out of these formulations are always the core questions about what “freedom,” “liberty” and “democracy” mean to the Bushes and their political allies overseas.

The evidence is overwhelming that the Bush family’s record is almost never one of standing tall for human rights and in defense of democratic freedoms in other countries. Rather, the family has a long history of coddling autocrats and dictators, even those who have engaged in political murders, torture and international terrorism.

Throughout his long political career, George H.W. Bush routinely sided with tyrants, such as Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet whose government not only repressed dissidents inside Chile but sent “death squads” into Europe and even to Washington to hunt down and kill political adversaries.

For instance, in September 1976, while the senior George Bush was CIA director, Pinochet’s assassins audaciously traveled to Washington and blew up a car carrying Chile’s former foreign minister Orlando Letelier. Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, an American co-worker riding in the car, were killed.

Though possessing information implicating Pinochet’s dictatorship in the terrorist attack, Bush’s CIA covered for Chile’s secret services by denying publicly that the Pinochet regime was responsible and pointing investigators off in false directions. Despite the CIA’s misleading statements, the FBI eventually did break the case, though Pinochet and his top assistants were never held accountable. [For details, see Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Even two decades later, when Pinochet was detained in London facing an extradition request from a Spanish prosecutor investigating the murder of Spanish citizens in Chile, the elder George Bush was still fronting for his old friend. Bush wrote a letter to British authorities urging them to ignore the Spanish extradition request. Following Bush’s intervention, Pinochet was allowed to fly back to Chile, rather than face human rights charges in Spain.

Terror War

The younger George Bush has displayed a similar selective judgment in dealing with foreign dictators.

While justifying the invasion of Iraq in the name of “freedom” – after earlier claims about weapons of mass destruction proved bogus – Bush has based many of his military operations in Persian Gulf sheikhdoms that offer few or no democratic rights to their citizens. Some allies in Bush’s “war on terror,” such as Uzbekistan, repress their own people as ruthlessly as Saddam Hussein did in Iraq. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush & Democracy Hypocrisy.”]

For good reason, this perceived Bush hypocrisy has undercut U.S. strategies for winning “hearts and minds” in the Islamic world. Bush’s mistaken interpretation of al-Qaeda’s motives for waging war – as a hatred for American freedom and a desire to destroy U.S. democracy – further hampers a coherent strategy for prevailing in the Middle East.

As former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer points out in his 2004 book, Imperial Hubris, Islamic militants view their attacks against U.S. targets, including the terror strikes on the World Trade Center, as a “defensive jihad” to protect what they view as longstanding U.S. assaults on their land and on their people.

“Their goal is not to wipe out our secular democracy, but to deter us by military means from attacking the things they love,” including their religion and their territory, Scheuer wrote. “Bin Laden et al are not eternal warriors; there is no evidence they are fighting for fighting’s sake.”

Rather, Scheuer wrote, the resistance to the United States is part of what many Muslims view as a principled struggle against a foreign power that has sought to re-impose a form of colonialism on the Arab world. In that sense, al-Qaeda's attacks are reprehensible but rational, the former CIA analyst on the Middle East argued.

According to Scheuer, U.S. policies over the past half century have “moved America from being the much-admired champion of liberty and self-government to the hated and feared advocate of a new imperial order, one that has much the same characteristics as nineteenth-century European imperialism: military garrisons; economic penetration and control; support for leaders, no matter how brutal and undemocratic, as long as they obey the imperial power; and the exploitation and depletion of natural resources.”

Scheuer, who wrote Imperial Hubris under the byline “Anonymous” because he was in the CIA at the time, also views Bush’s invasion of Iraq as counter-productive because it confirmed many Islamic suspicions about the United States and its motives.

Still, even with the Iraq policy spinning out of control and Islamic hatred of the United States soaring, Bush and much of the Washington commentariat seem content to continue their long bath in the warm rhetoric of freedom and liberty. They are doing so although the continued false defining of the challenges ahead guarantee more devastation for U.S. soldiers and the people of the Middle East.

The other option would be to take a hard look at longstanding U.S. policies in that region, at legitimate Arab grievances against Washington, and at the dangers caused by continued dependence on Middle East oil. That would undoubtedly cause much political pain and confront the nation with some wrenching choices. It is also virtually certain not to happen, at least in the foreseeable future.

Perhaps the one freedom most fundamental to Bush and his many admiring columnists is the freedom from reality.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His new book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

10:27 PM  

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