“Bush Untethered”

That’s the actual title of today’s NYT editorial – the kind of piece we’re seeing more and more frequently as the media finally start to shed their 911-generated fear of dissent and rediscover their intended role as watchdog and critic. The piece’s thinly veiled message will be missed by no one who possesses minimal gray matter: our president is an out-of-control egomaniac who believes he can do whatever he chooses, with no legal restraint, in the name of national security.

Watching the president on Friday in the Rose Garden as he threatened to quit interrogating terrorists if Congress did not approve his detainee bill, we were struck by how often he acts as though there were not two sides to a debate. We have lost count of the number of times he has said Americans have to choose between protecting the nation precisely the way he wants, and not protecting it at all.

On Friday, President Bush posed a choice between ignoring the law on wiretaps, and simply not keeping tabs on terrorists. Then he said the United States could rewrite the Geneva Conventions, or just stop questioning terrorists. To some degree, he is following a script for the elections: terrify Americans into voting Republican. But behind that seems to be a deeply seated conviction that under his leadership, America is right and does not need the discipline of rules. He does not seem to understand that the rules are what makes this nation as good as it can be.

The debate over prisoners is not about whether some field agent can dunk Osama bin Laden’s head to learn the location of the ticking bomb, as one senator suggested last week. It is about whether the United States can confront terrorism without shredding our democratic heritage. This nation is built on the notion that the rules restrain our behavior, because we know we’re fallible. Just look at the hundreds of men in Guantánamo Bay, many guilty of nothing, facing unending detention because Mr. Bush did not want to follow the rules after 9/11.

Bush really believes in Presidential Infallability, even after Katrina proved to us all that our president is grossly incompetent. (Sure, proof was already abundantly available to those who for many months had been carefully watching the disintegrating situation in Iraq. But Katrina brought it closer to home, and made the president’s ineptitude and callousness undeniable – the only positive side of the tragedy.) I’d like to think that after the Republican contingent led by John McCain forces Bush to compromise on the interrogation laws it will force the little man to be more humble and to face the fact that laws apply to the president, too. But that won’t happen; Bush has already proven time and again he will do whatever he chooses, led on by a higher authority. I always cringed when over-zealous liberals claimed Bush was as bad as Osama Bin Laden – and I still do. No, it’s a false statement, but increasingly I can see that there are nevertheless some strking similarities between the two men in regard to their perception of good and evil and of how far one can go to achieve one’s ends. In this regard, in their highly simplistic and narcissistic worldviews, these similarities cannot be denied.

The Discussion: 21 Comments

Richard – Part of my education was spent in Maine, in a small liberal college surrounded by prep schools for the ruling class. I’ve met many of the George W. Bush types, only as young men. They have fixers for everything, and accept responsibility for nothing. It’s part of their breeding and social class.

Get drunk and smash up a car? Daddy’s fixer will take care of the car and the damages. Get caught cheating? Legacy students don’t worry. Get a girlfriend pregant? Daddy’s lawyer’s will take care of the baby and pay her off. Get caught with drugs? Daddy’s lawyers will make a donation and keep it out of the news.

The usual course in their lives rarely allows these spoiled kids to reach maturity, as they rarely reach old age. Unfortunately, one made it thru and is now leading the USA. George is clearly a product of that system, and the suffering caused by his presence continues.

September 18, 2006 @ 4:59 am | Comment

I just found this quote that I believe can explain GW. From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Rich Boy”:

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.”

Having never suffered the consequences of their actions, how can they even IMAGINE our plight, to be ruled by them? This era really is a tragedy.

September 18, 2006 @ 6:32 am | Comment

Well said, Senator. When you think of all the great men on this planet, and think that somehow this one misfit, this scamp, rose above all of them to become king of the world and that the Americans allowed it to happen twice…. Let’s just say that it won’t be long before we look back upon this time with a mournful curiosity, a sense of bewilderment as to how it could have happened, much like many wonderful German people looked back at their country in 1946 and asked, “Wie war das moeglich?” (“How was that possible?”)

September 18, 2006 @ 6:39 am | Comment

That’s what The Great Gatsby was all about, how the rich could play with the world and its people as if we were their toys, then when they screwed things up they could “retreat into their money.” Sad, but so true.

September 18, 2006 @ 6:50 am | Comment

Sen Bob…ask not what Bush can do for you…ask what Kennedy (John, Ted et al) can do for your party. Ain’t just the GOP that has the blue bloods, ya know…
…Kerry…Gore…the list goes on…

Though Jimmy Carter teaches sunday school in my Ga. hometown…

September 18, 2006 @ 7:03 am | Comment

Well, no one said the GOP had the monopoly of blue-bloods.

September 18, 2006 @ 7:13 am | Comment

Well, in addition to the spoiled rich brat who always gets his way and doesn’t know how to react when people tell him “no,” there’s another tradition, noblesse oblige (excuse my spelling) – it’s not just about having money, it’s what you choose to do with it.

If you haven’t seen the press conference in question, it’s well worth a watch (I have the link posted if anyone is curious). Bush appears utterly unhinged. And he makes a remark to David Gregory that is just…mind-boggling. Well, several.

September 18, 2006 @ 10:01 am | Comment

I’m wondering if you shouldn’t just transform your blog into a full-fledged, declared rant on how much you and everyone you know hates Bush.

How many of the articles on your current first page represent a post on how much you hate Bush, or at least Republicans in general? And how many represent material on the subject you are most renowned for?

I hate to lecture, but you are slowly turning into just another political rant machine.

September 18, 2006 @ 10:41 am | Comment

Richard and Otherlisa, your comments are dead on, but, you failed to mention that the president threatened another terrorist attack if congress doesn’t toe the line.

But, I guess you guys don’t think he can do that, huh? As you know, I do.

Maydayog, wake up and smell the poop. Nobobody here hates the president, we just think he should use his constitutionally granted tools to do his job which, strangely enough, is to protect the constitution.

Watch the press conference to see a “political rant” and another abuse of authority – shutting up a legitimate question.

Unfortunately, having let him avoid a proper investigation of the biggest crime in US history, he has every expectation of avoiding proper investigations of everything he does.

I think every crime deserves a full and proper investigation and punishment of the guilty – isn’t that actually a republican issue?

September 18, 2006 @ 11:25 am | Comment

“Wie war das moeglich?” (“How was that possible?”)

I have been asking this since election day 2000

The Obvious answer is of course that he cheated.

Still I must ask how it is not possible to defeat him by a wide enough margin as to make cheating impossible.

September 18, 2006 @ 11:35 am | Comment

I rise to associate myself with the remarks of Joe Craine. Joe said “Nobody hates the President.” That is absolutely true.

What Joe, I, and so many citizens are concerned about is the future of a once great nation. The world is aching to have the US regain its moral standing, its belief in freedom, and its concern for human rights.

I am now an old man, but once I was young, And my nation was once an ideal that so many aspired to. I have watched in my years the ideals slip away, to be replaced by fear and hatred.

Richard said it well: “Wie war das moeglich?” (“How was that possible?”)

September 18, 2006 @ 2:44 pm | Comment

Every election year I write heavily about US politics in the weeks prior to the election, Maydog.

September 18, 2006 @ 5:53 pm | Comment

Maydayog, wake up and smell the poop. Nobobody here hates the president…

I’m sorry, but I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at such a statement. You ask me to “wake up”, or in other words, to see the truth of the situation, all while denying the most obvious truth of all.

I’m assuming that you don’t speak for Richard, who made this wonderful post entitled, “Why we hate Bush”.

Every election year I write heavily about US politics in the weeks prior to the election, Maydog.

Frankly, I see nothing about “US politics” on your blog. I see bile, anger and frustration disguised as political musings.

I’m just wondering– do you really believe that there is no viewpoint other than what you post on your blog? The lack of a balancing viewpoint, even if it is just addressed on the surface, makes your home on the internet an uncomfortable place for those of us who do not share your views. As I said, a fair share of your posts have become nothing more than hate-filled diatribes that share as much with politics as I share with Captain Kangaroo. Do you really want to alienate part of your audience in such a manner?

I’m not exhorting you to stop mentioning Bush– I’m encouraging you to get past your hatred and focus on what has always made your blog exceptional.

I’ll quote from your blog:

A peculiar hybrid of personal journal, dilettantish punditry, pseudo-philosophy and much more, from an Accidental Expat who has made his way from Hong Kong to Beijing to Singapore, and finally to Taipei for reasons that are still not entirely clear to him…

People can find posts skewering Bush anywhere on the web, but your experiences in Asia are unique. That is what makes your blog special, Richard.

September 19, 2006 @ 8:12 am | Comment

OK, don’t know what happened there…

Could you please erase the extra posts?

September 19, 2006 @ 8:15 am | Comment

Maydayog, I thought that was a long post!

Thanks for the backref. What I read there was exactly what I described above. Perhaps hyperbole is inappropriate for an article title, but the article merely described some of the despicable (“hateful”) acts implemented, performed and condoned by this president. Your comments seemed to take a personal bend.

What scares me is that the only president to permit two terrorists attacks (911 and anthrax) on this country, who has failed to properly investigate either, who has broken our laws and our traditions and who cannot be bothered with catching the perps has now threatened the country with another terrorist attack if he doesn’t get permission to use East German legal methods here.

I don’t think that remark was hyperbole. Since he has not yet protected us (oh, I am sorry – he did catch those Florida terrorists who were going to bring down the sears tower – I felt so much better after hearing about that) from any terror and has increased the reasons people might try, I am amazed that conservatives cannot find someone honest to carry their banner.

Rush likes to repeat ad nauseum that President Clinton violated his professional (as a lawyer) obligations. A president who has no profession, of course, cannot violate professional obligations. But, this president has violated his oath to his country and to his constitution.

Like I implied, I think your are asleep. Wake up.

September 19, 2006 @ 10:14 am | Comment

Madayog, I’ll take care of it.

Oh, and full disclosure: I hate Bush. I hate him for what he’s done to my country and to the rest of the world. He’s a torture-loving sadist, and I’m ashamed of what’s been done in America’s name under his regime.

How’s about that for fair and balanced?

Those of us who have disagreed with the Bush Administration have found ourselves accused of being traitors, of being anti-American, of being appeasers, you name it. So sorry if we’re just a little angry after watching Bush spend our country’s blood and treasure on an unjust war and look for ways to justify torture by calling it “alternative procedures.”

Yeah, I’m a charter member of the Sacred Order of the Shrill.

September 19, 2006 @ 10:24 am | Comment

Maydog, I hate Bush, and I can provide lots of evidence as to why this is so. If you look back at this blog from the very beginning, US politics has always been a primary concern. I get more links from outside blogs for my US posts than my Chinese posts. I write about whatever strikes me as worthy of comment, and I have no quota for the number of US vs. China posts that I produce.

Unlike the irrational hatred of Clinton, inspired by wild rumors like his “body count” or the “murder” of Vince Foster or a blow job, my loathing of Bush can be documented based on actual deeds and very specific facts. It is a subject of unending interest to me, how America ended up in this unbelievable mess, and I’m not going to stop writing about it because you want to read about something else. The sad news (for you) is that this blog is written by me for me – when I started it I never expected to get any readers at all, let alone the number I now get every day. That’s a nice bonus, but the fact remains, this blog is a reflection of me and my beliefs. I don’t plan on changing that anytime soon. Get used to it.

September 19, 2006 @ 6:16 pm | Comment

Well, I certainly stand corrected and sincerely apologize to both sides for interfering.

While I fully agree with the criticism leveled at the criminal in the white house bby Richard and Otherlisa, I do not hate him. The feelings he evokes in me are revulsion, anger, sadness and, most assuredly, shame.

And, again unlike Richard and Otherlisa, I think that all crimes committed while he has occupied the white house should be fully and impartially investigated, especially the crimes of September 1, 2001.

Lynch mobs are made up of those who hate. There can be no justice where there is hate. My experience is that hatred makes one blind.

September 19, 2006 @ 8:30 pm | Comment

Joe, maybe it depends on your definition of hate. I hate lots of things, like all Hostess desserts and Dick Cheney and Osama Bin Laden and fundamentalism of any kind and drivers who run red lights. But I don’t want to see anyone lynched, I don’t want to see mob violence performed. And I DO believe Bush should be held accountable and tried for war crimes and other crimes. I do NOT believe he or anyone else should be lynched by an angry mob. There is wild-eyed irrational hatred, and then there is cool, calculating and purpose-driven hatred. All of my own attacks on Bush in this blog are driven by the latter, I believe – each is backed with plenty of evidence, never relying on superstition or emotionality. Yes, I may be emotional about it, just as I am emotional about bloggers and reporters who disappear in China. But behind the emotion is always a catalog of facts that I believe justify my hatred. For the record, I also hate Hitler, Mao and Stalin and Instapundit. And I hate all child molesters. Hate’s not a bad thing if it is controlled and channeled to produce positive outcomes. It’s when it’s used to generate irrationality and mob violence as we saw in the Cultural Revolution and Nazi book-burnings that hate becomes a most serious problem. But like love, it is a normal human emotion and anyone who denies it is lying to himself. (If you actually want to deny it, can you really say with a straight face there is no one and nothing that you hate?)

September 19, 2006 @ 8:45 pm | Comment


I appreciate and value your contribution to disclosure and dicussion too much to take up this argument.

September 19, 2006 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

Anger is an energy. I forget who said that. Maybe Patty Smith.

September 19, 2006 @ 11:45 pm | Comment

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