Now You Get Mad?

Last week I saw a popular wall post on Facebook that caught my attention.  It’s a diatribe consisting of a list of perceived failures of George Bush, phrased to suggest that people should be angry about him, not at President Obama’s health care plan.  (The beginning and closing references to people being angry now make this look like it’s aimed at tea parties.)  All of these points needed clarification and some, frankly, were so off target that they begged for outright refutation.  My notes on each are below:

YOU WANT TO GET MAD? We had eight years of Bush and Cheney, but now you get mad!

1.       You didn’t get mad …when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.  The Supreme Court did not “appoint” a president; the U.S. Supreme Court merely stopped the Florida state Supreme Court from ordering an illegal recount after they had already illegally extended the deadline for a previous recount.  Gore lost all of those recounts, anyway. 

2.       You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.  Allowing experts in a field to give input is now “dictating policy?”  When did the administration copy and paste any company’s plan into law?  Liberals are supposed to love “following the money”; where are the sudden surges in energy company profits because of these alleged shady deals? 

3.       You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got ousted.   Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity was revealed by anti-Iraq war State department official Richard Armitage, who was not a member of Bush’s inner circle and who resigned when Colin Powell did, who told a reporter about it as part of a conversation about her husband’s visit to Africa.  Even the Obama administration has rejected the Wilson’s attempt to sue Armitage and others for damages. 

4.       You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.  In the eight years since this became law, name one person who has had their civil rights violated because of it. 

5.       You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.  The only “illegal” invasion would be one that Congress didn’t authorize, and Congress overwhelmingly voted for the Iraq invasion.  The intelligence we had at the time was credible, and at the very least, as Donald Rumsfeld said, it’s better to fight terrorists in Baghdad than Baltimore.  Indeed, Iraq became a magnet for terrorists, and we’ve successfully beaten down al-Qaeda there.  There are precedents for preemptive strikes and invasions without being directly attacked first: think of the Civil War. 

6.       You didn’t get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.  Again, it wasn’t illegal, and the price tag here seems like an arbitrary complaint.  Does a high cost automatically invalidate something, because there are some longstanding liberal programs I’d like to direct your attention to…

7.       You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.  Of course we did.  Everybody did.  Sadly, aid money to struggling nations tends to get absorbed by corruption (think Africa).  Still, since there are no clues or viable suspects here, it’s hard to pin this to Bush administration malfeasance.

8.       You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people.   Waterboarding, which was used on only a few people and secured information that saved many American lives, is not torture, not under any reasonable definition.  It could only be called torture if we define any degree of stress or fear as torture, which would mean we’d have to shut down every police station and high school dean’s office in America.  Vanity Fair Christopher Hitchens volunteered to try it and then called it torture, but, as many pointed out, if you’d volunteer to try it at all, it isn’t torture. 

9.       You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.   How was any case of wiretapping illegal?  Name one instance of someone being illegally or even unfairly spied on.

10.   You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.   Clinton didn’t either (even though he had chances) and Obama hasn’t so far.  How is this evidence of corruption by Bush?

11.   You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.  How is this connected to the Bush administration?  In fact, Bush aggressively investigated this, even appointing a Clinton staffer to oversee it, and the VA made significant reforms under him.  He didn’t start this problem, but he ended it. 

12.   You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city drown.   How is Bush responsible for Hurricane Katrina?  The federal government was involved before and after the Hurricane hit, but the major failures—not evacuating more people, not securing the levees, not utilizing local buses, etc.—were the fault of Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco, both Democrats. 

13.   You didn’t get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich.  The Bush tax cuts benefitted the middle class more than anyone else, but why is a tax cut that also helps the rich automatically a bad thing?  They pay almost all of our taxes, anyway.  A tax cut for the highest earners and payers does not raise taxes on the poorer, so it doesn’t hurt them; what’s the complaint here really about? Hatred of the rich?

14.   You didn’t get mad when, using reconciliation; a trillion dollars of our tax dollars were redirected to insurance companies for Medicare Advantage which cost over 20 percent more for basically the same services that Medicare provides.   “Basically the same services?” What does that mean? That hardly explains the surge in volunteer enrollees in these programs since they were implemented. There’s no evidence beyond bitter wishful thinking to call this a conspiracy.

15.   You didn’t get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark, and our debt hit the thirteen trillion dollar mark. Are you kidding? From bloggers to talk radio, columnists to tea parties, you’ll find far more who opposed Bush’s spending and bailouts than supported them. Very few would say that Bush was perfect, and this was one of his greatest shortcomings. However, he and his administration were not the insidious, malevolent monsters portrayed here.

16. You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Rights aren’t a matter of being “deserved” or not. By that criteria, there’s no end to what rights we should codify and subsidize. As it is, everyone is entitled to emergency care, and the vast majority of the uninsured are either illegal immigrants or healthy young adults who don’t want to pay for insurance. Concern for the sick, which is laudable, is hardly justification for, in your words here, “stealing your tax dollars” to force enrollments in government programs for others.

Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans… oh hell no. AND NOW YOU’RE MAD ! These misconceptions have all been dealt with, but exactly whose tax dollars are being stolen to make the rich richer? Nearly half of all Americans pay zero federal taxes. This complaint, like most of these, seems disingenuous.

I don’t intend these rebuttals as insults nor do I offer them out of any anger; but I do want to have open discussions where more facts come into play. I welcome courteous responses.

3 comments on “Now You Get Mad?

  1. Jamie, you haven’t really answered many (any?) of the challenges in that wall post, you know. Asking, for instance, how Bush was responsible for a hurricane is entirely beside the point — no sane person ever said Bush was responsible for gathering the clouds, filling them with moisture, setting them to spinning in the right direction and velocity, and whatever else goes into the physical making of a hurricane. I don’t know many who think the federal government’s response after the hurricane was timely, effective, or sufficient.

    And so it goes with all or nearly all of your responses — you zero in on whether a figure is precisely correct rather than acknowledging that conservative Mormons didn’t apply anything like the “this bailout is a continuation of the war in heaven, and you’re on Satan’s side!” accusations that have been a constant refrain of the healthcare debate among your own people. You assert that waterboarding isn’t torture, yet have considered some of the nonsense you have to deal with as a high school teacher is intolerable and Must. End. Now. Et cetera, et cetera, and so forth, as the King liked to say.

    But I have to admit that here, as in virtually everything you write, you avoid the sarcastic tone and the cheap rhetorical shot, even if your reasoning often sidesteps the point. That is a great asset in political life. If I still lived in Las Vegas, I’d vote for you for any local school governance position — not for senator, mind you, but for any school position.

  2. All of this assumes a mythical Republican. Perhaps some of them exist, but not all.

    But as long as we are fact checking

    #4: Patriot act – evidently you need to read more than mainstream media.
    #9: Wiretapping – ditto

    #5: War Authorization – highly arguable – I might even say unconstitutional

    #6: Money lost – I have heard so much of this kind of stuff for years, many of which are pre-Bush, that I have scandal fatigue.
    #7: ditto

    #8: Torture – best case- highly arguable, worst case – they should be shot. Some experts say we have gotten valuable info, others say it is a waste and it ruins our image as well. Given the tendency of mankind to argue in a way that excuses themselves, I tend to believe the latter. Besides, as a whole, I find it morally indefensible and disgusting.

    Let’s not go to either extreme. If we can not at least understand our opponents views then it is we who are defective, regardless of how right or wrong they are.

  3. Ardis and Zen, thank you so much for these kind responses. However, both of you really just say that I’m wrong, without offering a solid critique of how my explanations fail, much less defending the accuracy of the quoted allegations. Ardis, most of your comment seems to stem more from bad experiences with other people than with substantive problems with the issues at hand (much like an inactive member of the Church explaining why they don’t come to church!), and Zen, only your last point even attempts to engage the issues–I understand that you may not want to post long refutations here, but if you’re not going to approach something like that, then why bother merely saying, “No it isn’t” (like the great Monty Python skit about the Argument Clinic)?

    Please know that I respect and appreciate all of your input, though, and I look forward to any further discussion you care to have. Thank you so much for your considerate comments!

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