Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

Amidst the weeping, wailing, and grinding of molars over Donald Trump’s victory, there are some reasons for optimism. Yes, there’s a lot to fear, and Trump and his extreme right cohorts will do a lot of damage–notably to the environment and reproductive rights–but there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic:

  • Trump’s election has energized the left more than anything since Occupy Wall Street in 2011. There are demonstrations and myriad organizing efforts all across the country, and they don’t seem to be slowing down.
  • A Republican is inciting the left, and it’s probable that this time the Democrats, locally and nationally, won’t conspire with the FBI and corporate security firms to destroy a dissident movement — as they did in 2011/2012 when they were complicit in suppressing the Occupy movement. They’ll try to co-opt the emerging movement, but they probably won’t try to destroy it.
  • The corporate-lackey, identity-politics Democrats’ quadrennial good cop / bad cop blackmailing of the public didn’t work. They found the one candidate who could lose to Trump: a widely disliked corporatist synonymous with the status quo; they rigged the primary process to ensure her nomination, expecting that the Republican nominee would be so odious that they could cram their candidate down our throats. They were wrong. They’re now trying to divert attention from their culpability by blaming voters, pointing to “racism” and “misogyny” as the reasons for the electoral disaster they engineered. But a lot of people are finally wising up to their extortion tactics and realizing that the corporate Democrats are not the friends of working people.
  • As a result of the corporatists’ arrogance, bungling, and all-too-obvious ethical bankruptcy, there’s a real chance that “the democratic wing of the Democratic Party” will seize control of that party. I don’t think it’s likely to happen, but for the first time in decades there’s a real possibility that it will.
  • The Democrats might start opposing mass surveillance, erosion of civil liberties, and persecution of whistle blowers. Most of them abetted Obama in his assaults on whistle blowers and civil liberties, and his continuation of the mass surveillance begun under Bush. Now, they might show what passes for spine.
  • The alt-right is small and fractured. Current Klan membership is estimated at 5,000 to 8,ooo, and the largest neo-Nazi group in the country, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), has an estimated 400 members. In the 1920s, the Klan had at least 3,000,000 members and perhaps twice that. Taking population growth into account, that would equate to at least 9,000,000 members today. In the 1930s there was a plethora of openly fascist and pro-Nazi groups in the U.S. Just one of them, the German-American Bund, had at least 8,000 members, twenty times the membership of the NSM.
  • Alt-right members will continue to commit horrific hate crimes, but the alt-right is not a great national threat. Had the corporate Democrat won the presidential election, and predictably done next to nothing while public anger and hunger for change grew, it would have provided four more years for the alt-right to grow and metastasize.
  • We lived through eight years of Bush; we can live through four years of Trump.



Just when I thought I could go peacefully to sleep, I had to — just had to — check the news before I nodded out. I discovered that today’s BBC News reports that “US President Barack Obama has urged young people to ‘reject pessimism and cynicism.'”

This is the same guy who promised to be transformative, who promised “the most open administration in history,” who promised relief to the tens of millions suffering from the worst economic crisis in decades, who promised to wind down foreign wars, who promised to hold accountable those who had committed criminal acts.

And then, as soon as he was elected, the guy who jettisoned his progressive economic advisers in favor of Wall Street insiders (e.g., Larry Summers and Tim Geithner), declared war on whistleblowers, using the draconian, 1984ish Espionage Act to prosecute patriots who exposed industrial-scale wrongdoing, who did next to nothing to help the help the tens of millions who lost their homes and their jobs, who did not hold any of the Wall Street profiteers accountable — his “Justice Department” prosecuted not a single high-level criminal — and who has continued the disastrous, murderous Bush-era interventionist foreign policy.

Cornell West was absolutely right when he labeled George W. Bush a “catastrophe” and Barack Obama a “disaster.”

Barack Obama has cynically betrayed those who elected him, those who were desperate for “hope and change.”

Now, he dares to lecture young people; he dares to exhort them to “reject pessimism and cynicism.”

This is irony and cynicism on steroids. This is hypocrisy on steroids.

Barack Obama personifies both. He’s a national disgrace.

John Dean

“[A]uthoritarian followers [in the United States] are both men and women, who tend to be highly conventional, always and easily submissive to authority, while willing to work aggressively on behalf of such an authority. They tend to be very religious, with moderate to little education, trusting of untrustworthy authorities, prejudiced (e.g., with respect to gay marriage); they are typically mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bullying, zealous, dogmatic, uncritical of their chosen authority, hypocritical, inconsistent, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous, moralistic, strict disciplinarian, severely punitive; they also demand loyalty and return it, have little self-awareness, and are typically politically and economically conservative Republicans.”

–John Dean (White House counsel in the Nixon Administration), “Trump is the Authoritarian Ruler Republicans and Some Dems Have Been Waiting For

A false dilemma, or false dichotomy, is a logical fallacy which involves presenting two opposing views, options or outcomes in such a way that they seem to be the only possibilities: that is, if one is true, the other must be false, or, more typically, if you do not accept one then the other must be accepted.



by Chaz Bufe, publisher See Sharp Press

It’s hard to say which is worse, that politicians routinely employ false dichotomies or that their followers routinely fall for them. The logical fallacy in false dichotomies is very obvious, but a great many people don’t see the fallacy. Many even mouth false-dichotomy assertions as if they’re clever or make a point.

Cynical politicians use false dichotomy for several reasons: 1) To bypass their listeners’ reasoning faculty (all too easy a task); 2) To influence their listeners into only considering two, almost invariably bad, alternatives, rather than looking for others; 3) To cement the support of followers who accept the false dichotomy; 4) To rouse their followers into a frenzy of hatred against those to whom they’re impugning false beliefs or goals; 5) To intimidate those who hold other positions  into silence, because of fear of social ostracism, job loss, or physical violence from the politicians’ deluded followers.

Examples of false dichotomy abound in American political history. I’ll only cite two examples here, as I’m sure you can think of many others. The first was the  very common false dichotomy of Soviet-style “communism” (in reality, state capitalism) versus American-style corporate capitalism (“free enterprise,” to use the usual euphemism).  A more recent example was provided by the war criminal George W. Bush: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” To point out the obvious, Islamic terrorists can, and do, say the same thing. If that mirror-image false dichotomy, “if you’re not with us, you’re with the Americans,” were true, Fidel Castro would be pro-American.  (For now, we won’t consider the sloppiness of using “Americans” as a synonym for “American government.”) 

To put this another way, false dichotomies are false because there are virtually always other alternatives. Cynical politicians simply don’t want you to consider them. As an old proverb puts it, “When you only have two choices, choose the third.” Or the fourth, or the fifth.

How should we deal with false dichotomies? The most effective ways seem to be to listen for them, point them out publicly when we hear them, and to ridicule them and those who make them. If enough of us do that, it will (well, might) become socially unacceptable for politicians to use this crude form of political manipulation.


(Continued from Part I posted Sunday August 11. In Part II we deal with Obama’s apologists and his contempt for the people who elected him. In Part III, appearing Tuesday August 13, we’ll deal with exactly how Obama is betraying those people. )

As you’ve probably guessed, we’re referring in Part I to George W. Bush, Barack Obama, the electorate, Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden, and Obama’s apologists.

Let’s first deal with the apologists, the Ed Schultzes, Stephanie Millers, Martin Bashirs, Al Sharptons, and other pundits feeding at the corporate media trough. They have an exceptionally easy task, given the racist nature of much of the Republican opposition to Obama. And let’s be clear about this: a great deal of it is racist. This is very obvious. (Just tune in to any of the Obama supporters on MSNBC, and you’ll become well informed on the matter in remarkably short order.)

Today, the hyena hasn’t changed its stripes; but rather than howling “nigger!” it now hides behind code words: “food stamp president” (Gingrich), “Halfrican” (Limbaugh), and the like. The most obvious racists are the birthers. One can almost hear them breathing hard,  spluttering: “He’s a n– n– n– n– Muslim!” “He’s a n– n– n– n– Kenyan!”

This nauseating racism predisposes any decent person to defend Obama, to cut him a remarkable amount of slack. And he’s taken full advantage of that. He’s repeatedly stabbed the people who elected him in the back through his actions, while he’s continued to tell them what they want to hear. And, remarkably, some continue to believe him.

A recent instance of Obama’s manipulation of his base comes in the wake of the atrocious Zimmerman murder trial verdict and the sickening, racist character assassination of the victim–one example being privileged, puffed-up Ted Nugent’s evidence-free sliming of Trayvon Martin as a “gangsta wannabe.”

Obama responded in characteristic fashion. He gave a great speech on race, on what it’s like being a black man in America, while at the same time sources within his administration floated New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, whom Obama called “well qualified,” as the possible new Homeland Security chief. It would be hard to think of a more mixed message, given that Kelly presides over the largest systematic racial profiling program in the country. Short of actually nominating Kelly, it would be hard for Obama to come up with a more blatant way of saying to his supporters, “Fuck you, punks. What are you gonna do about it? Huh? Huh?! Abandon me? I don’t think so!”

(This series will conclude tomorrow.)