Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How Does One Sum Up 8 Years?

It is now officially less than one week until George W. Bush leaves office, and Barack Obama begins the thankless task of attempting to repair the damage. Somewhere, a widget is counting down.

The topic of the Bush legacy is obviously a big one. Bush and his dead-end defenders insist that history will vindicate him, and I suppose that helps them sleep at night. It is hard to see how he is remembered as anything other than our nation's worst President. The best he can hope for is to be remembered as an affable simpleton in over his head and controlled by his inner circle. To take away that level of personal responsibility would be wrong, in my opinion, as I think Bush was politically smarter* (if intellectually incurious on policy and economics and any other matter) than some might give him credit for.

(*For the record, unlike many, I don't see Hurricane Katrina as where the wheel fell off that bus. It started earlier in 2005 with the Terri Schiavo mess-- which outed the religious right as the opportunists they are-- and the failed attempt to privatize Social Security, which was a bridge too far on the GOP dismantle-the-New-Deal train. Katrina just toppled an already weak foundation.)

Beyond just his personal decisions, actions, and policies, he quickly created a political and economic culture in this country that is the reason the damage is so widespread. When you hire people who hate government to run it, when you hire people who hate regulation and oversight to oversee vast agencies and economic apparatuses, when you hire people who view civilian deaths as 'collateral damage' to run foreign policy, when you use divide and conquer as electoral/political strategy... well, you get the idea. The current economic collapse and the lack of accountability for it, for instance, didn't exactly come as a surprise for those with long enough attention spans to remember Enron. All of this enacted by a party that still seems more concerned about whether gay people might get married than learning any lessons from all of this.

So how do you sum it all up? Some folks give a try...

Rachel Maddow also shared her two cents the other night with several segments... the first focusing on war on terror policies, the second on the Katrina aftermath, and the third on the economy. Worth watching.

More links below. And let's keep counting down.

The Atlantic: Then and Now: The nation Barack Obama inherits

San Francisco Chronicle: Bush: Only time will tell about his legacy

CQ Politics: Bush's Non-Mea-Culpa Tour of 2009

WashPost: Economy Made Few Gains in Bush Years: Eight-Year Period Is Weakest in Decades

As A Gay Person...

...I have this to say to Log Cabin Republicans: Ha ha!

[PS- President-elect Obama is throwing us an inaugural bone. I'll take it.]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Odds and Ends

Yea, I'm slacking, but Mario Kart doesn't play itself. Here's some news...

President-elect Obama, hearing a lot of progressive criticism of his stimulus proposals, said last week he is open to making changes if he hears better ideas. It seems that has begun, with Obama making concessions to congressional leaders, including plans to "grow the size of an energy-tax incentive package and modify proposed tax credits for individuals and for businesses that hire new employees". An encouraging start.

Also... spoiler alert... the Republican Party has suddenly (and mysteriously!) become budget hawks again. Trillions for war(s) and failed banks? That's fine, but if you start talking about funding 'infrastructure' and 'state governments' and other crazy ideas like that, they will be on your ass like white on rice. So yea, good luck with that, Barry.

Hey, speaking of the bank/Wall Street bailout billions... Obama will be soon be gaining control of what's left of that. He says he intends to "fundamentally change the way the second half... is spent, focusing some of the relief on housing and small businesses." Transparency in this whole mess was also promised, and wouldn't that be an interesting experiment?

For those interested in the FCC and related issues, Obama's chairman choice is revealed.

And after earlier saying that closing the Guantanamo prison would be a "challenge", Obama's people released a statement clarifying that closing it remains an early priority for the President.

Also, please forward this article to Obama: 'U.S. finds Iraq tactics don't work in Afghan war'.

'60 Minutes' had a great report this past weekend on the oil bubble. Recommended.

'Joe' the 'Plumber', the right-wing blogosphere's new international war correspondent (?!!) shares more of his trademark wisdom, insisting that reporters are evil and shouldn't be allowed to report honestly on wars, once again demonstrating that he is the right-wing base's living id.

Finally, '24' is back... and conservatives still seem to think it's a documentary.

Hard To Disagree With Any of This List...