Bush is now the most screwed prez ever
1. Bush is Losing Ability to Shape Events
By David Ignatius / Washington Post
As political power ebbs away from the Bush presidency, a number of changes are becoming visible around the world -- most of them unwelcome. Simply put, the White House is losing its ability to shape events.
President Bush's relentless focus on Iraq magnifies this problem. His almost daily comments on the war underscore just how much he has ransomed his presidency and the nation's security to the unlikely prospect of success in Iraq. And the monomania about Iraq distracts Bush and his advisers from other big issues that need attention.
What else is there to worry about? "A key question in assessing the risks to the outlook is whether the global economy would be able to 'decouple' from the United States were the latter to slow down more sharply than projected.'' This is from the latest World Economic Outlook report, prepared by the International Monetary Fund before this weekend's gathering in Washington of global bankers and finance ministers.
Rather than deferring to U.S. economic leadership, in other words, the global financiers are worrying about how to get out of the way if our pyramid of debt-financed consumer spending should topple. The IMF projects U.S. economic growth this year at just 2.2 percent, below the average for advanced economies and less than half the projected growth for the world as a whole.
A telling sign of America's inability to solve chronic problems is the IMF's discussion of our addiction to oil -- something President Bush talks plenty about but lacks the political will or congressional support to change. The IMF has gathered some genuinely shocking statistics: U.S. gasoline consumption as a share of GDP is nearly five times that in the other major industrialized countries; gasoline accounts for 43 percent of U.S. oil consumption versus 15 percent in other countries; fuel efficiency in America is 25 percent lower than in the European Union and 50 percent lower than in Japan. No wonder the world doubts our seriousness on energy issues.
With the White House in decline, interest groups are gaining more clout to influence policy. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is working mightily to keep the U.S.-China relationship on track. But the administration recognized political reality this week in filing complaints with the World Trade Organization about Chinese piracy of intellectual property, drawing an expression of "deep regret and strong dissatisfaction'' from Beijing. The New York Times, citing a China expert, said "Chinese officials appeared to be worried that President Bush was losing his ability to block protectionist moves in Congress.''
Bush is also struggling to maintain a good working relationship with Russia, whose cooperation on the Iran nuclear issue is crucial. But here again, he suffers from his weakened political position at home. The plugged-in foreign policy Web site The Swoop notes that administration officials want to help Russia join the WTO, but cautions: "A difficulty here is that this requires congressional support. This may not be easy to secure given increasingly hostile attitudes to Russia on Capitol Hill.''
Even the breakthrough trade and nuclear energy deal with India, arguably the administration's only big foreign-policy success last year, is hostage to the president's declining political support. Congress still hasn't passed the legislation necessary for the India package to go through. Supporters are hoping that strong backing from key Democrats will save it, despite the White House's declining influence.
The most dangerous consequences of the Washington power vacuum may be in Iraq itself. The president's pleas for bipartisan support, coming late in the game, seem to be falling on deaf ears. He has lost the Democrats -- Sen. Joseph Biden all but declared defeat for the Bush troop surge strategy this week -- and even the Republicans seem willing to give Bush's surge only provisional support, through this fall.
As bad as things are in Iraq, they may soon get worse. The focus on Baghdad security has led many analysts to overlook the growing risk of an explosion in the ethnically divided city of Kirkuk -- and even of a military clash between Iraqi Kurds and Turkey over control of the city. Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani last weekend threatened that if Ankara tries to protect the Turkmen minority in Kirkuk, "then we will take action for the 30 million Kurds in Turkey.'' That reckless statement probably had Turkish generals reviewing their contingency plans for military intervention.
Here's the paradox: Many of Bush's international policies are sensible because they seek to preserve a measure of American influence in a world that doubts our leadership. But with his presidency in disarray, George Bush is increasingly unable to make these policies work.
2. Bush’s Greatest Impeachable Crime
by Dave Lindorff
When my co-author Barbara Olshansky and I wrote The Case for Impeachment during the waning months of 2005 and early 2006, it seemed clear to us that the biggest impeachable crimes of the Bush regime involved the illegal war against Iraq, and the trashing of the rights and civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution. Almost as an afterthought, we also included a proposed article of impeachment against the president for his insidious efforts to block any regulatory, Congressional or international action on confronting global warming.
Now that the first two UN reports on the causes and magnitude of the threats posed by global warming have come out–albeit in watered down form, thanks in part to the administration_s continuing efforts to downplay the crisis–and now that independent scientific research is suggesting that the disaster facing life on earth, and human life and civilization in particular is of catastrophic proportions, it seems that perhaps we should turn things around.
At this point, arguably, Bush_s greatest crime is not the Iraq War, terrible as that has been. Nor is it his revocation of habeas corpus or his authorization of torture. It is not the usurpation of the legislative power of the Congress. It is not the felonious violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or his obstruction of the investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
His biggest crime is a deliberate campaign of inaction and active obstruction in the face of a clear need for the United States to act decisively to stop or slow catastrophic climate change.
This president has not simply denied the reality of global warming. He has actively lied to the American people about the dangers ahead, and has had his administration, through intimidation and post-hoc editing by political hacks, block the publication of government scientific reports on global warming. He has defunded projects that would help document the growing crisis, for example cutting funding for satellites that would measure the effects of climate change on the surface of the planet. He has pulled the U.S. out of the Kyoto Protocol–the first global effort to confront the problem and try to limit production of greenhouse gasses. He even went back on a 2000 campaign promise to limit carbon emissions from power plants, and instead has given virtual carte blanche to power companies to build the most carbon-spewing coal-powered generating stations possible, complete with gratuitous tax breaks. He has threatened countries with trade sanctions for trying to take actions that would combat global warming, and has even had the US government go to court against state governments, like California_s and Vermont_s, to try to block them from acting to reduce carbon emissions on their own, by for example setting mileage standards for vehicles sold in-state.
All of this has meant that for six critical years, when the U.S.–the source of 28 percent of the world_s greenhouse gas emissions–could have been taking decisive action to start reducing the CO2 that the U.S. is spewing into the already carbon-soaked global atmosphere, America has done nothing. In fact, America_s contribution of carbon emissions to the global atmosphere has been rising, not falling, as average miles per gallon figures for American autos have worsened, as more dirty power plants have gone on line, and as overall energy use in the US has gone up.
Stupidity, pig-headedness and yahooism are not impeachable offenses. The Founding Fathers pointedly rejected a proposal by George Washington that maladministration be included as grounds for impeachment. Rather, they stuck with “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which they took to mean acts that threatened Constitutional government, or endangered the people or the nation.
Well it seems crystal clear that the president_s actions and inaction on global warming easily fit that definition.
As the coastal waters rise, as other cities join New Orleans in suffering disastrous flooding, as the Midwestern grain belt and California_s salad bowl become dust bowls, as forests burn and already threatened species of animals and plants go vanish forever, and as the throngs of refugees of climate change in Mexico and other harder hit lands surge across America_s borders seeking relief, this president will be remembered best, like Nero and his fiddle, for the two terms during which he dithered, interfered and actively obstructed efforts to stop this predictable disaster from happening.
For that crime against our nation and our descendants, and indeed against the entire human race, Bush must be impeached.
[Dave Lindorff is an investigative journalist and columnist based in Philadelphia. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net and www.counterpunch.org. His latest book, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is “The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006).]