Dubya Watch
"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want,
and deserve to get it good and hard." -- H.L. Mencken

Thursday, October 28, 2004
He wanted to go after Iraq from the beginning. Yet another source says George Bush had plans for Iraq early on -- before he was president. The source is a writer who was co-writing Bush's autobiography until he displeased Karen Hughes:
“He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father’s shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. “Suddenly, he’s at 91 percent in the polls, and he’d barely crawled out of the bunker.”

Not a surprise by any means. But it's yet another piece of proof. (via Metafilter)

Saturday, October 23, 2004
Just the facts. From The Nation: 100 Facts and 1 Opinion - The Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Administration, complete with links to sources and a PDF version for printing. (via Devoter)

Monday, October 18, 2004
He makes decisions based upon faith and instinct, not facts. Sunday's NYT Magazine contained what may be the most frightening article yet by a respected journalist (former WSJ reporter Ron Suskind) about the Bush Administration's decision-making process. It relies on faith (both religious and "gut instinct") and is controlled by an increasingly smaller group of people.

This long article contains too many examples to include here; here are two. The first provides a decent summary of what the entire article is about:
Machiavelli's oft-cited line about the adequacy of the perception of power prompts a question. Is the appearance of confidence as important as its possession? Can confidence -- true confidence -- be willed? Or must it be earned?

George W. Bush, clearly, is one of history's great confidence men. That is not meant in the huckster's sense, though many critics claim that on the war in Iraq, the economy and a few other matters he has engaged in some manner of bait-and-switch. No, I mean it in the sense that he's a believer in the power of confidence. At a time when constituents are uneasy and enemies are probing for weaknesses, he clearly feels that unflinching confidence has an almost mystical power. It can all but create reality.

Whether you can run the world on faith, it's clear you can run one hell of a campaign on it.

George W. Bush and his team have constructed a high-performance electoral engine. The soul of this new machine is the support of millions of likely voters, who judge his worth based on intangibles -- character, certainty, fortitude and godliness -- rather than on what he says or does. The deeper the darkness, the brighter this filament of faith glows, a faith in the president and the just God who affirms him.

This may be the most frightening quote; the unidentified aide sounds like one of the gung-ho neoconservatives that surround Bush:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Their denial of reality makes more sense now.

Sunday, October 10, 2004
He cloaks his intent by speaking in code. I was watching the second presidential debate Friday night -- of course -- when I was puzzled by one of George Bush's answers. Here's the complete question and answer from a transcript; see if it strikes you the same way:
GIBSON: Mr. President, the next question is for you, and it comes from Jonathan Michaelson, over here.

MICHAELSON: Mr. President, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who would you choose and why?

BUSH: I'm not telling.


I really don't have -- haven't picked anybody yet. Plus, I want them all voting for me.


I would pick somebody who would not allow their personal opinion to get in the way of the law. I would pick somebody who would strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.

Let me give you a couple of examples, I guess, of the kind of person I wouldn't pick.

I wouldn't pick a judge who said that the Pledge of Allegiance couldn't be said in a school because it had the words "under God" in it. I think that's an example of a judge allowing personal opinion to enter into the decision-making process as opposed to a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Another example would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges, years ago, said that the Constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights.

That's a personal opinion. That's not what the Constitution says. The Constitution of the United States says we're all -- you know, it doesn't say that. It doesn't speak to the equality of America.

And so, I would pick people that would be strict constructionists. We've got plenty of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Legislators make law; judges interpret the Constitution.

And I suspect one of us will have a pick at the end of next year -- the next four years. And that's the kind of judge I'm going to put on there. No litmus test except for how they interpret the Constitution.

Dred Scott? Why would he bring up the Dred Scott case?

I should have figured it out, but I didn't. I only stumbled across the explanation by accident: He was speaking in code, another one of those things he slips in for the benefit of his followers, like at the end of the first debate ("We've climbed the mighty mountain. I see the valley below, and it's a valley of peace."). Except that Biblical allusion wasn't a secret message about what one of his policies would be. The Dred Scott reference was.

Dred Scott v. Sandford = Roe v. Wade

If you're anti-abortion, anyway. Here's where I stumbled across it, along with two explanations.

To see the parallel that many advocates do, refresh yourself with the Dred Scott decision:
The Court first held that Scott was not a "citizen" within the meaning of the United States Constitution as that term was understood at the time the Constitution was adopted and therefore not able to bring suit in federal court. According to the Court, the drafters of the Constitution had viewed all African-Americans as "beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

And they compare this to the finding in Roe:
The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, [410 U.S. 113, 157] for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument. On the other hand, the appellee conceded on reargument that no case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Constitution does not define "person" in so many words... in nearly all these instances, the use of the word is such that it has application only postnatally. None indicates, with any assurance, that it has any possible pre-natal application. [410 U.S. 113, 158]

All this, together with our observation, supra, that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.

In short, the decision that a fetus is not a person will eventually be viewed in the same way that we view the decision that a Negro is not a person. If you think I'm making this interpretation up, a quick scan of some Google search results will show otherwise.

So this is what happened Friday night: George Bush promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who will seek to overturn Roe v. Wade.

That's his right, of course, although you may or may not agree with it. But what I find deeply offensive is his speaking in code. Come out and say it in plain English so that everyone can understand what you mean, Mr. President, instead of cloaking your intent.

I'd love to see Bob Scheiffer ask Bush to explain this at the third and final debate this Wednesday.

Update: If I had waited a day, I could have simply pointed you to this Slate article, which elaborates further on how the Christian Right views Dred Scott.

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