Thursday, June 18, 2009

IMPORTANT NEWS ALERT: Former President George W. Bush Apparently Suffering from Acute Amnesia

An article in today's Washington Times indicates that former President George W. Bush is suffering from acute amnesia. The article covers a speech Bush delivered in Erie, Pennsylvania. After the speech, Bush answered questions from the audience.

The article reports that Bush, adhering to protocol that governs former presidents, declined to criticize President Obama directly. Bush's defense of many of his policies, however, implicitly criticize Obama (or at least validate many conservative critiques of Obama).

A closer reading of Bush's comments reveals that he is apparently suffering from acute amnesia. Bush, for example, stated that:
I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in. . . . You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money.
This simple truism, however, hides some important issues, like the fact that Bush -- not Obama -- proposed TARP (or the "bailout") and signed it into law. Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson advocated the passage of TARP on the grounds that pumping nearly $1 trillion of "our money" into the private sector would help end the financial crisis.

Furthermore, even after many Republicans criticized the idea of providing federal financial assistance to the automobile industry, President Bush (not Obama) proposed using TARP funds to bail out Detroit. TARP for banks and car companies began during the Bush administration, not with Obama.

To his credit, Bush resisted the opportunity to criticize Obama for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Prior to leaving office, Bush said that he wanted to close the facility as well.

Nevertheless, Bush's comment on the danger of terrorists leaves the impression that he suffers from amnesia. For example, Bush stated:
[T]here are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that -- persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind. . . .
Although Bush mocked the idea of using therapy to reform terrorists, he sent many Saudi detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Saudi Arabia in order to participate in the "Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for Care and Counseling" program, which uses a 12-step program, combined with therapy, to rehabilitate terrorists. The program enjoys mixed reviews, and some of the detainees Bush referred to the program have resumed their participation in Al Qaeda.

Furthermore, Bush seems unable to recall that President Obama apparently agrees with his comments about the dangers of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Obama, like Bush, has decided to use military tribunals, in addition to civilian courts, to prosecute suspected terrorists. Obama has also stated that the government will use the controversial practice of "preventive detention" for "dangerous" individuals who do not face prosecution in either civilian or military courts. The Washington Times article does not mention whether Bush acknowledged the overlap between his policies and Obama's policies related to terrorism, nor does it report the contradictions between Bush's words and his policies.

Finally, Bush seems unable to comprehend current proposals for health care reform. For example, he said that:
There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care. . . .I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care.
Of course, President Obama has not proposed "nationalizing health care." Instead, at most, he supports a public plan option that will serve alongside private insurance. If this represents "nationalized" health care, then the country already has a nationalized system, because the federal government and the fifty states already serve as public payers of health care, under Medicare, Medicaid, the VHA, SCHIP, and various other programs. Although conservatives argue that an additional public plan option would cause the collapse of private insurance, this point is debatable, and it certainly is not a specific piece of Obama's proposals.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Hutchinson: "There you go again," as a great and sorely missed man said:

1. You are quite right that Geo. W. created TARP, and set it moving toward the economy, after giving it plenty of volts in the manner of Doc Frankenstein. What has The One done in response? Got out the tranquilizer gun and blast away at TARP? No; he's hooked up the entire American electric generation system to TARP and urged it on. What are you proposing? I howled against TARP and bailouts from the beginning. They've done a great deal of damage to this nation and will be a serious black mark on Geo. W.'s record? Do you agree? If so, will they be a serious black mark on The One's record? If not, why not?

2. "Instead, at most, he supports a public plan option that will serve alongside private insurance."

Really. How many insurance companies offer health insurance to people over 65? None. That market's been claimed by the ancestor of TARP, viz. Medicare. At most, the private sector sells "Medigap" policies that cover Medicare deductibles. Please explain why the private sector doesn't attempt to compete with Medicare, you know the "debatable" part you mentioned. If you'd care to back up your opinions, I'd greatly enjoy reading them.

Subsidiary question: Should national health care cover illegal immigrants? (This would not be a problem with private health insurance that the citizenry would have to pay for themselves.) If not, how is this to be prevented? How about a national identity card, that would have to be presented to get care? No card, no care. Don't have the card on you? Oooh, that's a misdemeanor. Or is the American taxpayer to be stuffed even farther into the Geithner powered lemon squeezer, and robbed to the limits of endurance to pay for illegal immigrants's health care?

3. The Guantanamo Bay detention center, a/k/a jail for terrorists. Tell us what you mean. The One preened all during the campaign, drenching us with 200 proof assertions of moral superiority, bawling that it would be CLOSED NOWNOWNOWNOW (whew, reareading those speeches always makes me dizzy.) What has happened? It seems that the-worst-Prez-in-history-says-Keith-Olbermann was on to something when he created Guantanamo. Guantanamo continues to flourish (care to start a contract to trade at Intrade on whether Guantanamo is closed by 20 January 2010? Who'd want to buy it?) The One trots around the world, showing the sights to General Michelle, while begging other nations to take this mistreated innocents abroad. How's that working out? More silence. Do you think stuffing four of them in the Bahamas by means of an enormous bribe behind the back of the British Foreign Office was "smart diplomacy?" What would you say if the Brits emptied their jails of IRA thugs by sending them to Puerto Rico, after promising the PR govt a billion dollars in aid? Show me the "smartness" in this diplomacy. All I see is overdone crow that The One shoves off on the rest of us, preferring to dine on the bloody carcasses of Inspectors General who try to blow the whistle on the corruption The One indulged in with his buddy the mayor of Sacramento.

Go easy when the urge to assail Geo. W. itches you. God knows, Geo. W. deserves assailing for his idiotic in-no-way-conservative domestic policies (excluding his judicial nominations, far better than his father's.) But for liberals to assail Geo. W. for his domestic policies is too much like watching an asthmatic assail his adversaries with sacks of pollen. It makes the vulgar laugh raucously and gives the judicious grief.

I think your notion of listening to the nurses when discussing national health care is a fine one.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Anonymous said...

I read your blog for solid legal opinions and analysis, not inflammatory headlines like this. I hate Bush and his policies as much as the next tree-hugger, but please, let's not be misleading with the headlines. There is no evidence to suggest that Bush is suffering from a medical condition (as would have to be given by a qualified medical professional, which I presume you are not).

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Greg - Your refusal to read makes it very easy to respond to your arguments. So here we go.

First, exactly what "volts" did Bush apply to the economy prior to the financial collapse?

Second, I have already posted about the Democrats and the economy generally. Kindly go to the left side of the blog, and look at the links under the heading: "Editor's Picks...." There is an article called: "Hold Them Accountable, Part II: If Conservatives Caused the Economic Crisis, They Had a Lot of Help from Democrats." Check it out. My critique of Bush here does not let Obama off the hook. Instead, it seeks to keep both of them on the hook!

Second - your comment on health coverage for people over 65 is awfully distorted. Medicare did not "nationalize" health insurance for people over 65. Prior to the enactment of Medicare, about 1/5 of all persons over 65 lacked health coverage, and the remaining 1/2 lacked sufficient coverage. Medicare Commission Report. Medicare overcomes this gap by providing coverage, but it did not "nationalize" insurance companies.

Furthermore, from the very beginning, the government has contracted with private insurance companies to administer Medicare, and since the 1990s, it has expanded the scope of private involvement. Now, plan members can have the "Medicare" policy administered completely by a private insurance company. This is only one aspect of Medicare that has heavy, direct private involvement. Kaiser Report on Medicare

Also, even if the government was the exclusive payer for people over 65, this does not amount to the nationalization of health care for all Americans. Although the details are not complete, Obama's discussion of a public plan has typically focused on the uninsured -- people who are not covered by their jobs and who are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid (or old enough to qualify for Medicare). You are looking at a specific case regarding a population that is at high risk for illness and extrapolating their condition to the market at large. But that is a very flawed analysis.

As for your comments about GITMO, I have criticized Obama's anti-terrorism policies more than most liberals. In fact, I believe you first visited this website because Glenn Reynolds linked to one of my critiques. I have criticized Obama on GITMO and most of the other practices that received condemnation from liberals during the Bush administration. Your effort to single me out as a hypocrite or as selectively critical on this issue is laughable, not to mention refutable by a cursory look at my prior articles. Bush and Obama deserve and will continue to receive my criticism. And, I suspect, so will you!

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous: Thanks for reading. I do not apologize for sarcasm and biting commentary. I am certain that most readers did not believe that I meant Bush "actually" sufferred from amnesia but that I was making a point about his selective recounting of history. If you "actually" did, I am sorry that you got the wrong impression. I am not, however, sorry for the headline.

PS: I am not a tree-hugger....

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Hutchinson: Good to read that you laugh a lot. Laughter is a good medicine, lowering the blood pressure, which must be raised by reading what I write...

1. What "voltage" did Geo. W. apply to the economy prior to the financial collapse? Typically, you don't specify a date, so let me try March 2007, when Bear, Stearns was bailed out, as the start of the crisis. Disagree with me? Supply your own, with reasons. What voltage did Geo W. apply before then? Damn Blogspot, which won't allow me to cut and paste the notorious CBO graphic. So go here for the proof. Geo. W. was running deficits, BIG deficits, in what were unambiguously good times, 2004-2006. There's your voltage.

More? Geo. W. tried, and flatly failed, to get better regulation of the notorious Fannie/Freddie/Sallie Maes/Macs during 2003-2006. A better grip on these government monstrosities would have saved all of us much grief. It didn't happen in part because such dubious characters as Barney Frank bawled that FFS were jus' fine and it was a plot to get them and keep the poor folks from getting $720,000 homes with an annual income of $14,000 . See what an Ivy League law school education can do for you, enabling you to define problems out of existence?

2. I am a little sorry to say you do the same thing with Obamacare. You write: "Also, even if the government was the exclusive payer for people over 65...:

Come on, now. What private insurer will sell you a medical care policy, so you can opt out of Medicare? "Medigap" policies don't count. I'd like you to name me a policy, issued by a private insurer, not a state run risk pool such as Massachusetts has.

By your definition, Great Britain does not have nationalized health care because Britons can buy private medical coverage. Your law school students and colleagues may solemnly nod at this assertion that Great Britain doesn't have nationalized health care, but others may think your legal formalism has sliced the baloney thinly enough for you to have mistaken it for your contact lenses. No wonder you are having trouble seeing.

Medicare's been running since 1965. The VA hospitals have been running for even longer. Are their performance records strong enough to provide an endorsement for the gummint to swallow the whole thing? And go easy on the "there's heavy private involvement, so it ain't really nationalized." I suppose NASA, which contracts out more than 50% of its budget, isn't a national space agency because of that heavy private involvement. Today, I can buy auto insurance from State Farm, Allstate, AAA, etc. Similarly, I can buy health insurance from Blue Cross, Aetna, Washington Physicians Service, etc.
The One claims that the "public option" won't crowd out private health insurance. Medicare strongly suggest otherwise. Come sir, take that baloney out of your eyes and see the world the way the laity have to! Or maybe you can't see because I've got you laughing again, and tears are blinding you. The way of us on the Right is hard...

Finally, at the end of this characteristically enormous post, let me thank you, sans sarcasm, for running a civil blog. This may sound patronizing, but I don't mean it so. There are far too many left and right blogs (KOS, BALLOON JUICE on the Left, ACE OF SPADES on the Right as exemplars) where vitriol is the order of the day. Profanity by the barrel is a good tip. That isn't the case here, and your admitted use of sarcasm has always been tempered with good humor (cause by laughing at me, no doubt.) Laughing, you aren't shy about blazing away with the verbal machine guns, and allowing your opponents to answer back with Flit guns...


Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Anonymous said...

I would love to read your thoughts on the firing of the IG for Americorps, Gerald Walpin, and what appears to be Chicago politics at it's absolute worst..Thank you.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

If you assign responsibility for the mortgage crisis to low-income individuals, you are consuming something far more toxic than kool-aid. Even assuming (against reality) that ONLY low-income mortgages caused the crisis, the "sophisticated" lenders who gave them the money are held to a higher standard. There are a variety of mortgage instruments that came into play that have nothing to do with subprime lending. The no do/no income verification loan, atl-a, adjustable rates, the explosion in the conforming" ceiling all contributed to the crisis. San Diego was one of the hardest hit cities, and it is certainly not besieged by low-income buyers. San Francisco saw the price of its homes accelerate substantially above income levels, but during this same time it has virtually lost its low-income to middle-income classes. DC experienced a similar pattern.

As for health care, the glaring difference between NASA and health care is that NASA has a definite monopoly on space travel, and it has only recently even allowed for substantial involvement by private companies in its own enterprises.

Also, you are neglecting the Medicare Advantage program, which is completely run by private insurers who receive a federal subsidy. Plan participants have higher premiums but greater coverage and flexibility regarding doctors. If receiving a federal subsidy makes an entity "nationalized," then every private university, the oil industry, and and private hospitals are all nationalized industries. Some seniors also have private insurance from employee plans (both in and out of retirement). Your sweeping comments sweep to far.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous: re Walpin - I noticed that conservative media have already concluded that "Chicago politics" dictated the firing. I will certainly criticize the president if the record reveals an improper basis for his discharge. But this cookie is still evolving. Stay tuned.

Desidero said...

Seeing that Bush was able to shove most anything he wanted through Congress during that period, saying he tried to improve Fannie Mae oversight is sheer nonsense, kind of like saying he tried to balance the budget.

Bush like most of the media seems to have forgotten things he did up to January 19. It took Nixon 4 years to inherit the Vietnam War. Obama inherited everything by Feb 1, much as I disagree with Obama.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Thanks, Desidero. Great observations. I have criticized Obama on many issues -- including the economy and national security -- but this certainly does not require that I ignore Bush!

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