You've probably heard about the "Miss Me Yet?" billboard in Minnesota, featuring a picture of George W. Bush. According to Fox News, a "group of small business owners and individuals," obviously not fans of Barack Obama, paid for it. That's all well and good, and while I'm no fan of Barack Obama, I don't long for the presidency of George W. Bush. From a fiscal perspective, the Bush Administration was a disaster. Before you repeat the Dick Cheney talking point that most of the spending was for defense and two wars. Let me go ahead and tell you, that's not true. Bush was the biggest spender since Lyndon B. Johnson, dramatically increasing non-defense discretionary spending. Remember, he is a "compassionate conservative," which is apparently a nice term for "statist." Bush signed a new entitlement into law, his administration enacted the most regulations since Nixon ("we're all Keynesians now") and he backed the Wall Street bailout while telling us that he "abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." This is only the tip of the iceberg on his fiscal policies. – United Liberty
Dominant Social Theme: Revisiting Bush to make sense of it all.
Free-Market Analysis: We are returning to our article of yesterday regarding George Bush (Should US Voters Miss George Bush?) because we were surprised to find that some of our readers did not believe it was strong enough or that portions of it somehow constituted a defense (!) of the man. In fact, the article we have selected to excerpt above is not exactly a mainstream one (forgive us) but made approximately the same points we did. We were surprised to find it even took some of our tone and focus. There are obviously some general points about the Bush administration that would occur to almost any free-market thinker, so we are not surprised by the similarities.
You can read yesterday's Bell article here: Should U.S. Voters Miss George Bush?
And NOW – right here – we will state even more clearly than we did yesterday that those who write for the Bell find various policies of the Bush administration to be exceptionally odious and, not to put too fine a point on it, evil. Evil because when the administration could have done good (or at least less bad) it chose the path of war, destruction and oppression both at home and abroad – often in the name of a fictitious and cynical "security." It devalued the currency, brought ruin to the house of its citizens and generally did what it could to confuse the conversation of liberty and debase each and every program on which the republic had been built.
We hope that's clear enough.
Many will defend Bush by stating that he initiated many of his most destructive programs (including two wars) as a response to 9/11. But it is unfortunately obvious to anyone who studies the matter that the administration spent a great deal of energy covering up what happened on that terrible day – whatever it was – and even more energy making sure that those inclined to try to get to the bottom of 9/11 were never able to. We've written about this many times before as many others have and the only new point we have to add to the conversation is that sooner or later the truth will emerge – in all its ugliness – because the Internet simply will not let the issue die. Within the fullness of time therefore we expect the Bush administration to look even worse than it does now.
The point we were trying to make yesterday (and thought we did) was that his administration marked a watershed moment in the dialogue surrounding the state's normal oppressive nature. Like a Roman Caesar, Bush dramatically increased the power of the state and of its overt repressive nature. Until Bush, we would venture to say, the domestic American conversation (the popular one, anyway) revolved for the most part around varying degrees of freedom and citizens' rights – or lack thereof. BUSH ATTEMPTED TO CHANGE THE RHETORIC ITSELF. In doing so, the Bush's regime marked a further – and important – shattering of the American political system and cultural conversation.
Bush was perhaps the first American president since Abraham Lincoln (who jailed many who disagreed with him) to elevate state brutality including torture to an exalted level – as an ongoing necessity for increased domestic protection and security ETERNALLY. Additionally, of course, he waged several brutal wars overseas that killed and maimed thousands. But again, our other main point was that Bush is not given credit for the amount of damage he did – quite "cleverly" since many remain convinced he is a dope.
We recently received the following missive from Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty:
Harry Reid knows he has a fight on his hands with you and me over reauthorizing the Patriot Act. Now insiders tell me Harry Reid plans to sneak the Patriot Act re-authorization through the Senate as soon as they come back into session as part of a massive $85 billion special interest giveaway as a "Jobs Bill."
This bill is loaded with pork barrel spending and pay-offs to favored senators, union bosses and big government advocacy groups, and is itself another nail in the coffin of America's economic stability. That's why your voice added to the petition below and your opposition to this outrage are critical. Taking away our freedoms and invading our privacy will certainly not stimulate the economy, and it is by no means "Patriotic." In fact, there is nothing more un-American.
Furthermore, the badly misnamed Patriot Act is not the Act of Patriots. It is the act of petty tyrants seeking more and more power and control over our country. Now, ever so quietly, the Obama administration is working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to push reauthorization of the Patriot Act through without creating a stir among liberty-minded Americans.
We've all heard the defenses. How the Patriot Act was needed to combat "terrorism." How it would protect civil liberties while increasing security. How it would not be abused. These lies have all been clearly exposed. For eight years, the American people have ignored the wisdom of our founding fathers and traded freedom for security – and as predicted, we are losing both as a result. And now, Congress and the White House are set to reauthorize the so-called Patriot Act.
Frankly, you and I know the Patriot Act should be scrapped, or at least massively re-written to block federal snoops from casting fishing nets over the lives, histories and data of hard-working Americans. Unless you and I act today, however, this won't happen and the Patriot Act will be reauthorized for another five years or more without hardly a peep or a dissent.
If we do not stop this reauthorization, we'll see a whole lot more of what we've gotten over the last eight years:
*** Federal law enforcement on fishing expeditions, searching telephone, email, medical, financial, and other records looking for a needle in a haystack – and abridging the freedom of law abiding citizens everywhere.
*** Warrantless searches and roving wiretaps, paying telephone providers for access to TRILLIONS of phone records and ignoring Fourth Amendment protections.
*** Broad powers for the Treasury Department to demand private banking information and use the Patriot Act as a pretense to interfere with the free market.
*** Vast amounts of electronic data on virtually every American swept up by insider arrangements and purchases from phone companies, airlines and other businesses afraid to say no to a government "request."
We hope that the Patriot legislation is not renewed. But in any event, the Bush administration was responsible for this heinous bill, just as it was generally for the various consolidations of power that took place during his long eight years in office. Why? Because the Bush family historically (along with others of a certain class) has reportedly and evidently served the interests of the power elite, those few families and individuals whose goal it is, apparently, to create a worldwide, centralized bureaucracy and economy with a single currency and an EU-style, top-down, "democratic" leadership.
Yes, Bush and those close to him worked in service of these elites, in our estimation, and spent eight years doing what he could to erode one of the main stumbling blocks to further global consolidation – America itself and those republican red-state patriots whose guns and pickup trucks constitute a kind of "thin red line" warding off even more Draconian US fedgov (and international) oppression. This intention to whittle away at American culture was the proximate cause for the nutty, failed immigration bill (as we pointed out yesterday) that he tried to pass in his last year in office.
The Bell is anti-state and anti-war (other than for limited, potential instances of national/domestic defense) because free-markets flourish best when the state is minimized. Only free-markets with their competition and entrepreneurial fervor can lift a society up and guarantee increasing living standards for all, including better levels of health, etc. America and the West generally are very far from free-markets at this point, though we do believe that the Internet is change-maker that will gradually push the pendulum back toward freedom.
Americans shouldn't want Bush back because of the ruin he inflicted on the American economy and the two terrible wars he prosecuted, which have left an increasing legacy of militarism in America itself. But just as importantly, Americans shouldn't want him back because he attempted to change the fundamental American rhetoric of freedom to one featuring security and defense of the realm, including justifications of torture and international rendition. He was, as we pointed out yesterday, a kind of transformational president – consistently underestimated in our opinion — and it is only thanks to the Internet that he may not remain one.