One year ago, hours after George W. Bush's re-selection as president, I wrote lots of predictions here about what to expect during four more years of Bush, “One thousand-four-hundred-sixty-one days and nights marching in like an occupying army, trailing a sick cargo of simplistic patriotism, false pride, incoherent pronouncements, cruelty, mendacity, destruction….” With more than three years to go, assuming he's not, for instance, impeached, let's take a look-see and determine if any of my predictions have come true, regarding Bush. Oh, here's one now. No, make that two.
“Get ready for… impassioned and united enemies, broken treaties that'll make the world less safe….” Start with broken treaties. Our undermining of the Geneva Accords is almost complete. Since my column of Nov. 5, 2004, Bush appointed a proponent of torture, Alberto Gonzalez, as U.S. attorney general. It was Gonzalez who wrote the famous memo characterizing the Geneva Accords' provisions against torture as “quaint.” He's our top cop now. John Roberts, a former U.S. district judge who upheld provisions of Bush's policy about military tribunals and evidence gained from torture, now sits on the Supreme Court. And last month, as Sen. John McCain was promoting a bill outlawing torture against enemy detainees--a bill endorsed by 90 legislators--Bush threatened to veto it, while Dick Cheney tried pressuring McCain to exempt the CIA. That's likely because we've set up prisons in countries that permit torture—as I can document--and have jets ferrying suspected terrorists to them.
More evidence of institutionalized torture have been corroborated—use of trained dogs, sexual humiliation, water-boarding and other sophisticated tactics beyond the means of young soldiers engaging in “frat party pranks” as Rush Limbaugh and others have characterized them. Now it's been proven that many of the victims were innocent of any wrongdoing. Face it. Torture is and has been official U.S. policy for some time. It started at the top.
As for “impassioned and united enemies,” every study shows that acts of terror have gone up dramatically worldwide the past three years, especially in Iraq, where most reporters stick to the Green Zone around Baghdad, and even there are still not safe. It's also become clear that the alliance between al-Qaeda and Sunni radicals in Iraq is now a hard reality of the Middle East—something we supposedly went to war to prevent.
“Get set for a continuing procession of heat waves, storms, droughts and more papered over with lies about the effects of global warming,” I wrote. This is tricky. So-called “acts of God” occur in any administration. Still, Katrina, Rita and more are evidence of warmer global waters. Study up on recent pronouncements from the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Science Foundation, then decide for yourself whether Bush's many denials and hedges ring true.
“Get ready for national debt as far as the eye can see or else new taxes on the middle class and poor.” The national debt has skyrocketed under Bush. We are in hock now to Japan and China to the tune of about $700 billion total. Should those governments stop floating our deficits, a crisis could ensue. I wonder what the implications are for future conflicts on the many issues that separate us from those nations. Meanwhile, it costs $350 billion per year just to pay the interest on the national debt, making it the third largest line-item in our annual budget. Certain to add to that debt are spending proposals by Bush regarding Katrina's aftermath, Avian flu, space travel and tax cuts for the wealthy. Mostly, though, Iraq has been the budget buster. We've now spent upwards of $350 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to CBS, with no end in sight.
“Get ready for crooked dealings in the name of energy, for bills that'll deface the environment and sweetheart deals for polluters… for Supreme Court appointees who'll roll back reforms… for drilling in virgin wilderness, roads into forests that pre-date humankind's arrival in America… mountaintop removal and destruction of our streams… more lies from Dick Cheney, more false optimism from Donald Rumsfeld, more double-talk from Condoleezza Rice….” I also mentioned Plamegate and more pandering to our fears (Scooter Libby? Avian flu, anyone?). I'll be glad to debate whether these predictions are all coming to pass. True, some predictions I made one year ago have yet to happen, but then again, we're still in Year One of Bush's second term.
“To cover such atrocities prepare yourself for language straight out of Orwell…” I wrote. I'll come back to this one, because the subject is just too big, the manipulation of the media too extensive and revolting to do justice here. So I'll just leave you with a phrase that relates to this issue. “Heck of a job there, Brownie.”