Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Wringing in the New Year

Mikaela says:
I'm loving all the year-end wrap-up going on. Everyone's taking stock of the last year, and checking in with the last 8 while they're at it, in preparation for the next big change to prepare ourselves for.

I can honestly say that I'd prepared myself for Obama's defeat. Even when they called it for him on election night, a part of me was protecting itself from disappointment, and I refused to really give in to the good feelings that such a victory should have caused.

I'm still holding my breath.

Then again, I'm doing the same thing about being pregnant, despite the growing body of evidence swelling in front of me. I just can't bear to start thinking about how different, and perhaps wonderful, life will be with a baby, just in case something doesn't go as well as I might hope.

Instead, I'm happy to focus all my energy looking backward and channeling my fears as anger toward all that I know went wrong under Bush & Co. I just finished the Angler, a look at Cheney's vice presidency based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting in the Washington Post.

It's a surprisingly optimistic book, chronicling not just Cheney's attempts to accrue power to himself, the vice presidency, and the executive officer, but also his lost battles and ultimate failures. Condoleeza Rice emerges as a good guy in this narrative. She's cast as the voice of reason that holds out against Cheney & other crazies and ultimately prevails as Bush's most trusted advisor. Interesting. I always lumped her in with all the neocon forces of darkness. Not that she's all that great. In fact, saying that she's the sanest of the bunch helps throw into illuminating bas relief just how crazy this administration has been, and how far off the cliff they've driven all of us.

Want some numbers to back all that up? Look to Harper's Index! Here's a (rather long) sampling of my favorites:

  • Percentage of Bush’s first 189 appointees who also served in his father’s administration: 42
  • Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98
  • Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182
  • Number of them ever charged with a terrorism-related crime: 0
  • Number charged with an immigration violation: 762
  • Days since the federal government first placed the nation under an “elevated terror alert” that the level has been relaxed: 0
  • Percentage of Americans in 2006 who believed that U.S. Muslims should have to carry special I.D.: 39
  • Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50
  • Minimum number of laws that Bush signing statements have exempted his administration from following: 1,069
  • Estimated number of U.S. intelligence reports on Iraq that were based on information from a single defector: 100
  • Number of times the defector had ever been interviewed by U.S. intelligence agents: 0
  • Portion of Bush’s presidency he has spent at or en route to vacation spots: 1/3
  • Percentage of Republicans in 2005 who said they would vote for Bush over George Washington: 62
  • Seconds it took a Maryland consultant in 2004 to pick a Diebold voting machine’s lock and remove its memory card: 10
  • Number of states John Kerry would have won in 2004 if votes by poor Americans were the only ones counted: 40
  • Number if votes by rich Americans were the only ones counted: 4
  • Portion of all U.S. income gains during the Bush Administration that have gone to the top 1 percent of earners: 3/4
  • Increase since 2000 in the number of Americans living at less than half the federal poverty level: 3,500,000
  • Years since a White House official as senior as I. Lewis Libby had been indicted while in office: 130
  • Minimum amount that religious groups received in congressional earmarks from 2003 to 2006: $209,000,000
  • Amount such groups received during the previous fourteen years: $107,000,000
  • Percentage change in U.S. discretionary spending during Bush’s presidency: +31
  • Percentage change during Reagan’s and Clinton’s, respectively: +16, +0.3
  • Number of the five directors of the No Child Left Behind reading program with financial ties to a curriculum they developed: 4
  • Rank of Bush among U.S. presidents with the highest disapproval rating: 1
  • Average percentage of Americans who approved of the job Bush was doing during his second term: 37
  • Percentage of Russians today who approve of the direction their country took under Stalin: 37
And lastly, after my own review of a little notebook I carry around in my voluminous bag (perfect, my sister said, for a diaper bag -- only where will I put all the additional stuff???), I came across this little rant that summarizes my anger and fear about Bush.

He’s a shell,

A shadow, a dark-side projection,
National doppelganger of fear,
A jock-strappin’ cowboy,
A repeated mistake,
A stupid promise that comes back to jail you,
A self-satisfied frat boy,
Blank check-writer,
Good-will exploiter,
Epitome of ineptness --
A mass of mediocrity
That bites my nails
Empties my reserves of hope
Does everything but comfort me
In the white-fear darkness of night
When I realize again
There are more of him coming.

And with that expended, I feel much more ready to bring in a new year, a new era, a new President, a return to the Constitution and country I love.