Former U.S. president George W. Bush. (REUTERS) Former President George W. Bush might want to drop the superlatives.
In what is at least his second foot-in-the-mouth moment recalling the toughest moments of his presidency, Bush has said “the most nervous moment” of his presidency was throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the 2001 World Series.
According to an interview Bush gave to the producers of “Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience,” a TIME documentary that aired over the weekend, and a clip provided by Gawker, the former president said:
The adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and the ball felt like a shotput. And Todd Greene, the catcher, looked really small. Sixty feet and six inches seemed like a half-mile. And anyway, I took a deep breath and threw it, and thankfully it went over the plate. The response was overwhelming. It was the most nervous I had ever been. It’s the most nervous moment of my entire presidency, it turns out.
The statement was reminiscent of another by Bush last year, in which he said the worst moment of his presidency is when rapper Kanye West called him a racist. “It was a disgusting moment, pure and simple,” Bush had said. “I didn’t appreciate it then [and] I don’t appreciate it now.”
Bush was referring to a Hurricane Katrina live telethon appearance by West in 2005, in which the performer launched into a an angry diatribe about race and aid efforts, including the accusation: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
The Guardian pointed out at the time that the comment came in spite of Bush having led “the U.S. into war and presiding over the beginnings of one of the greatest financial disasters in history.”
This time, Gawker provides a laundry list of things Bush should have found more nerve-wracking than a baseball pitch, including receiving a warning that Osama bin Laden was going to strike the United States or authorizing the torture of detainees in U.S. custody. “That was some … pitch, though,” Gawker writes sarcastically.
By: Elizabeth Flock, The Washington Post, September 12, 2011
Former President Bush was roundly derided a decade ago for urging Americans traumatized by the September 11 attacks to go shopping. He may, in fact, have been onto something.
Certainly, shopping on its own is a facile and inadequate response to a tragedy that required a new assessment of our national security procedures and how much of our revered American civil liberties we were willing to give up to achieve security—or perhaps, a sense of security. That conversation needs to continue, especially in the area of civil liberties retrenchment.
But Bush was right about something, and that is that ours is a consumer-driven economy. This is arguably a bad basis for a modern economy; there is only so much we can consume (the obesity epidemic is only one sign of our over-indulgence). And people were foolishly taking out home equity loans on wildly over-valued properties and then using the money not to improve the property (thus, theoretically, increasing its value), but to buy other things. This is not sensible. But the reality is, our economy runs on people buying things, and with the economy in the state it’s in, people aren’t shopping anymore. Since people aren’t buying, companies aren’t creating jobs. Many corporations are making record profits and holding huge amounts of cash, but they don’t want to take on more workers because the demand is not there.
So, here’s a 10-years-after tweak of Bush’s suggestion: if corporate America wants to shows its collective patriotism, its leaders should hire someone. Hire even a dozen people, if you run a large company, or even one employee, if you own a small business. Some public officials are worried about raising taxes on the wealthy, arguing that the well-off are job creators. Well, create some jobs, first, and that argument will have more merit. And remember: taking on another employee isn’t a cash loss, ultimately, because it creates a new customer (and a taxpayer who won’t be getting unemployment insurance anymore, either). If shopping was the answer a decade ago, hiring someone is the answer now. It’s the patriotic thing to do.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, September 12, 2011
CNN Online has publisheda story titled an “angry electorate helps sustain tea party,” ignoring the clear evidence the “movement” is only sustained by thinly-veiled religious zeal and wealthy funders like the Koch brothers.
Perhaps in an effort to avoid accusations of liberal bias, CNN Online parrots Tea Party spin, concluding the article by quoting a GOP strategist who states “The tea party is an organic movement that was largely created by people who were frustrated by Washington. . . There’s not much you can do about something that’s genuine, something that grew organically.” On the contrary, the tea party has been funded since its inception by the billionaire Koch brothers and other wealthy ideologues, and its events and gatherings have been orchestrated by corporate lobbyists.
Koch-funded Christian Right
Studies show that most people who now identify with the Tea Party were already highly partisan Republicans and identified with the religious right before the “movement” began. In the August 2010 New Yorker article lifting the veil on Tea Party funding, conservative economist Bruce Bartlett explained that “the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement,” and that they are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.” Tea Party handlers, then, harness the religious zeal of its members, allege they are motivated by Ayn Rand-inspired economic populism, and run candidates like Michele Bachmann who play down their extreme social conservatism in favor of an economic platform. And news outlets like CNN apparently continue to take the “grassroots movement” at face value.
Clearly Partisan Agenda
Matt Kibbe, longtime Republican operative and president of tea party group FreedomWorks, told CNN “we’re not a protest movement anymore; we’ve morphed into something else. We’re a get-out-the-vote machine. We’re organizing at the community level.”
Recently released recordings from the Koch brothers’ donor retreat in June, though, demonstrate that Tea Party events have always been aimed at electing Republicans. As Think Progress notes, Koch Industries executive and lobbyist Kevin Gentry described being “on the road” in 2010 for the Koch-funded “Americans for Prosperity’s last minute kind of get out the vote tours,” which he said was “a Tea Party AFP event designed to help in the Congressional races.” The specific “get out the vote” event Gentry referenced was in Congressman Paul Ryan‘s district.
CNN is co-sponsoring a GOP presidential debate with the Tea Party Express tonight.
By: Brendan Fischer, Center for Media and Democracy, September 12, 2011
One of the signature policy proposals that Mitt Romney outlined in his economic plan and highlighted in his USA Today op-ed last week is a policy that is as pernicious in practice as it sounds unthreatening. On page 61 of his plan, Romney proposes to cap the rate at which agencies would impose new regulations at zero. This means that if an agency is required by law to issue a new regulation, it must offset the costs, presumably by eliminating some other regulations. Essentially, Romney is proposing to adopt pay-as-you-go budgeting to regulations.
It’s not entirely clear if this rule applies to each agency—would the Food and Drug Administration have to eliminate some food inspection rules if they created some new regulations of food?—or if this is government-wide policy, so if the government creates rules in one area, it would be required to undo rules in another, unrelated area. But either way, this policy would have far-reaching negative consequences. Imagine, for instance, if a cap on regulations was in place after the financial crisis, when lack of regulation of Wall Street led to the cratering of the economy. Under this proposal, in order to regulate Wall Street to ensure that economic devastation couldn’t happen again, the federal government would have to eliminate regulations on food or water or air, or some other protections. Where is the logic of undoing clean air regulations because new consumer protections are needed?
Behind this policy response is a simple animosity towards any rules for businesses that come at the expense of profits. Republicans have been arguing that regulatory uncertainty is hurting job growth because businesses supposedly refuse to make hiring decisions when they don’t know what the rules will be. But if anything were going to feed uncertainty, it would be a rule that haphazardly and randomly picks old rules to eliminate once new rules were created. Companies make decisions about their future assuming those regulations stay in place; eliminating old regulations will simply favor some firms over others.
The bigger point to be made, however, is that regulations are not what are ailing our economy now, nor are they hindering growth. McClatchy recently surveyed small business owners on why they weren’t employing additional people—none offered regulation among the barriers to hiring. (That’s why it’s particularly unfortunate that the president recently fed the Republican obsession with his suspension of the ozone rule, citing “regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover,” as part of his rationale.) In fact, if anything, greater regulation can be correlated with greater growth: Over the last 50 years, the decades of the highest growth rates for our economy saw the greatest expansion of government and its regulations. Growth rates were highest in the 1960s at 4.55 percent for the decade, when we created Medicare, Medicaid, and the Great Society poverty programs—our greatest expansion of government. And growth rates were the lowest in the last decade, averaging only 1.38 percent. I think it is safe to say George Bush was not a friend of regulation.
But if regulations aren’t the culprit, what is? What’s holding up hiring now is that there is not enough demand in the economy. Even bond traders like Bill Gross acknowledge the need for direct federal help for job creation and growth. To actually create jobs, Republicans should come to the table with the president and pass ideas they have supported in the past, like investment in roads and bridges and hiring teachers who have been laid off. But because Republican ideology will not tolerate federal policies that actually help create jobs, they are reduced to pithy sounding policies on regulations that are just another way of getting rid of protections for consumers in order to help corporations.
As a former policy director on a presidential campaign, I am sympathetic to the desire to try to propose “new” policy ideas that sound good in a speech or a press paper. In the back and forth of a campaign, reporters, campaign press staff, and even the candidates can demand new policies in areas that have been well-trodden and don’t typically make for exciting speeches. But a serious candidate has to put forward serious ideas to solve actual problems. And for a candidate trying to distinguish himself from a Texas governor ready to shoot from the hip, Mitt Romney’s cap on regulation does not meet that test.
By: Neera Tanden, COO, Center for American Progress, Published in The New Republic, September 12, 2011