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It was Ann Richards, famous Texan, who gave us the definitive descriptions of the George Bushes.  That "he was born with a silver foot in his mouth" for the elder and "all hat and no cattle" for the younger. But, being doers, instead of talkers, we mis-understood what those descriptions really meant.  

We were wrong to think that George H. W. Bush, despite his occasional verbal gaffes, was well-meaning.  We should have recognized that a man, who vilifies a candidate for the Presidency of the United States by comparing him to a rapist and then denigrates that man's respect for a rule of law as in instrument of justice, does not mean well.  We should have recognized that a man, who employs the political tricksters Richard Nixon first brought to Washington, does not mean well.

Why were we misled?  Ann Richards got that part right in her 1988 keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention.  Modest, law-abiding middle Americans find it almost impossible to comprehend that evil roams about the heartland and lurks in the hearts of mild-mannered men.

Good people are easy to deceive.  It's not a matter of good people doing nothing.  Putting the blame on good people is itself a deception.

But, to get back to the hat and the cattle.  Ann Richards applied that to George the younger and, while there are all kinds of variants available for translation, the basic meaning of "all talk and no action" is pretty standard. And we got that wrong, too.

That's because people of action, people who have goals and work to achieve them, ascribe to the preconceived notion that action is good.  Work is good.  So, people who just talk are, at best, a disappointment.  But, that's not how idealists see it.

(Yes, George W. Bush is referred to as an idealist.  That's because he had an idea [democracy for the Middle East] and then tried to make it come true, without realizing he didn't know how).

What these modern day idealists believe is that the expression of an intent is the beginning and the end.  It's like the Creator pronouncing "let there be light" and light there is.  No action required.  The mission is accomplished in the announcing of it.  So, if no action is required, then its absence is neither a deficit nor a negative.

There's an old saying in a similar vein.  

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

But that's only true, if the beggars wanted to go somewhere.  Dubya, for example, wouldn't get on a horse for anything.  Having the hat, the symbol of his reign, was all he ever wanted.  Expecting him to manage anything was our mistake.  And we're paying for it in spades.

Even though it's extremely painful, we should all listen to what Ann Richards had to say in 1988.  

It's sad.  Her description of what Republicans had done in the name of Reagan/Bush is right on point.  What we missed is that it was their intent.  Middle America was meant to be destroyed.  Because, like little boys who tear the wings off flies or blow up frogs, some people get a thrill from watching others be deprived.  
We have to realize that not only does authority which stands silent in the face of abuse become complicit, but some people actually delight in being complicit and coming away with clean hands.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Shrub = Narcissist? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, liz dexic, myrealname

    George H.W. Bush has been depicted as a rather vacuous man who was appointed Ambassador and the head of this and that because it was known that G.H.W. wouldn't do much of anything.  When he was ambassador, he and 'Bar' spent most of their time going to receptions, and kept a rigorous social schedule.  It is also said the George and Barbara are essentially ageless teenagers with a great sense of entitlement.

    George W., however, exhibited a narcissistic nature at a young age, and every job or position he ever held was for one purpose - name recognition.  George and Poppy played all the right moves, enlisted friends to support the Jr., and the family connections paved the way for the Shrub's advance to the White House.  

    I don't think George W. has an Idealistic bone in his body.  He was manipulated by Cheney at every turn, but wasn't smart enough to know it because Cheney and the neocons planted seeds in George's mind, and Voila!  When the seeds bloomed, they became the Shrub's ideas.

    •  The point I was trying to make (5+ / 0-)

      is that what we see is not the result of one or two men's endeavors.  There's a whole coterie of people who do not mean well.  And they don't necessarily mean to get rich either.  They delight in inflicting deprivation, seeing other people in distress.  Which means, if my perceptions are correct, that every example of hardship we present warms the cockles of their hard hearts.
      The abusive persons aims to hurt and increasing hurt is a measure of success.

      What can we do about it?  Abusers have to be stopped.  Indeed, that's what we give our agents of government power to do.  The object of government isn't to make people do good; it's to stop some people from doing bad.

      by hannah on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 05:48:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Have to disagree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hannah, liz dexic

        The people who you may consider take joy and pleasure in seeing other people in distress, are, in my mind, completely unaware that there really are people in distress.  The 'little people' are simply not in their consciousness as the social circles do not merge.  On the surface, donations to charity, etc. are made, but for the most part, I doubt they even know one person who benefits from the charitable gifts.

        How else to explain the Republicans who so easily dismiss their actions which directly harm poor people?  It is all about power and that is what makes Wisconsin so fabulously interesting.  Scott Walker and the majority Republicans in the legislature unknowingly broke the power rules.  Their power grab was too obvious, too blatant.  Who would have guessed plain folks would be upset?

        •  Yes, well, power to be felt has to hurt. (0+ / 0-)

          Nobody considers a do-gooder powerful.  So, people who ascend to public office to exercise power are ipso facto not well-intentioned.  They may justify their "law and order" agenda as a response to pervasive evil, but that's just an excuse for doing what they want to do -- make life miserable for lots of people.

          by hannah on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 07:11:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I have to disagree. They are interacting with (0+ / 0-)

          the "little people" every day.

          Every time someone holds a door open, brings them food or takes the dirty dishes away, the wealthy are made aware of their superiority or superior position.

          Many also read and are aware of trends in the Market, and are aware of statistics of unemployment and income disparities reported in financial papers and TV channels.

          They don't have to know a person receiving charity, they just have to know they are there, and they themselves are not one of them.

        •  I think, like all tyrants, they justify what they (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hannah, Justus

          do in their own minds.

          There's very, very few tyrants who didn't think of themselves as the "good guy" who had the best of intentions. If some people got hurt, it was a sad necessity to serve "the greater good."

          I think that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal simply thought that they were the people who had the smarts, information and will to make the "hard choices."  That those hard choices benefited them and those just like them was simply, in their minds, a fact of the exercise of power. "America needs oil. Only we and the companies we represent can provide oil. Therefore, we are justified in whatever we do to make sure the oil keeps flowing."

          There's also the "we know best" idea. Neocons talk about other groups creating "new world orders" but they wanted to do the same thing. America rules everywhere and they rule America.
          The best of all possible worlds. God's work.

          As for Shrub, he rode Daddy's coattails throughout his life, from getting into college, to getting into the national guard, to becoming the front man for the Texas Rangers, to getting into the presidency. He's like Palin.....he gets by on charm, utter conviction that his good intentions alone are enough,  and a certain shrewdness that no one should mistake for actual intelligence.  And he's vain enough to actually think that everything his administration "accomplished" was his doing.  Because he, remember, is the "Decider."

          Sorry, Shrub, you're the puppet....who doesn't even see the strings.

          Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

          by Sirenus on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 09:01:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The best measure of these people's (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hannah, Pandoras Box, shaharazade, Justus

        souls is seen in Cheney's frequent "canned hunts" on game farms where the birds are all cage raised and only released on the day of the "hunt".  Since these are considered "tame" birds (livestock) there are no seasons or bag limits or any other type of restriction.  So Cheney sallies forth and bags hundreds of pheasants and ducks each outing.  There is no question of sport; it is simply an abattoir where Cheney is free to butcher however many birds he can afford.  The only question is why he does not rent out a chicken processing plant for an afternoon so he can kill thousands and not merely hundreds.  

  •  Not Half Far (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Somehow, this does not go half far.

    Where is Dick Cheney? Is there any follower of politics that thinks the driving force of evil for eight years was Shrub?

    •  THE ANGLER by Barton Gellman (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pescadero Bill, Justus

      reveals exactly how cunning and diabolical Cheney was throughout his career.  George W. put Cheney in charge of finding a V.P and we know how that turned out.  Bush insisted on appointing Colin Powell, much to Cheney's objections, so Cheney made one of his 'guys' next under Powell.   Cheney's name is synonymous with Manipulator.

      •  You don't jack with the power behind the throne. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and the rest of the cabal were the ones who ran this country for eight years. Bush was just a man who could be manipulated easily, while still being vain enough to actually think he was in charge.

        Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

        by Sirenus on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 09:04:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Confessions of an Economic hit man book (5+ / 0-)

    also explains  a lot about Bush/Reagan/McNamara/politics etc combined with corporations/government/world bank and explains the middle east happenings.

    Dubya was just part of the plan by birth..

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

    by roseeriter on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 05:56:47 AM PDT

  •  Though I'm sure I wasn't the first to do so (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, Justus

    I once summed up capitalism as being an institutionalized result of latent human survival instinct to acquire as much as possible to assure one's survival to the detriment of others - the human-greed instinct as it were.

    Capitalism is greed and greed is a latent animal instinct in some humans.

    And in those still carrying the gene that initiates the human-greed instinct, some do so viciously. They not only work towards gross self-survival, but take pleasure in knowing that by acquiring more then their fair share, they are assuring others will die for lack of having enough.

    It's a sick, almost homicidal thrill in watching and having a hand in the weak perishing. I believe it resides, or can be roused, in many wealth-secure people. Barbara Bush comes to mind. And I believe it is responsible in part for this most recent push by the well-to-do to drive the middle and lower classes into extinction.

    I don't mean that in a literal sense - that they actually want to see people starving to death in the streets of America, but deep within the subconscious of the greed rank (and to a greater extent on some level, the rich in general), there resides this impulse and an associated adrenalin rush from making it appear to be happening.

    Unfortunately, evolution away from this animal instinct is apparently generations off. But the Bush family is proof positive, IMHO, that it exists and inspires many a human to the detriment of the species and planet in whole.

    •  Capitalism, true capitalism, isn't quite what you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hannah, Justus


      Capitalism is based on the idea that most people will work harder for their own gain. Which is absolutely true.

      But true capitalism also posits a number of natural checks and balances to that truth. One of them is the concept of risk, central to true capitalism. Risk, of a capitalist's time, money and effort, is what tends to make true capitalists make sensible business decisions. There is no "too big to fail" in the capitalist theory.

      Sadly, like all "isms" capitalism runs up against a sad fact of human nature....that there will always be people who will try to game the system. This holds as true for steel trusts as it does for the kind of "communist" who thinks that all workers are equal, but some workers are more equal than others. Stalin was not a true communist.

      This tendency to game the system is why, in the real world, capitalism should be subject to sensible government regulation.

      I happen to be a big fan of capitalism. True capitalism, where those who invest their time, effort and money actually control the company.

      What we have in this country now isn't capitalism, it's corporatism, a whole different beast. These huge, multi-national corporations are run by executives who serve on each other’s boards of directors and write each other’s employment contracts. They don't give a damn about the long-term good of the company, they only care about the next quarterly profit statement....and how big their bonus is going to be.

      With corporatism, reckless actions that could damage the company--and its customers-- long term are fine, as long as the short term gains are huge. Even if the company fails, those who ran it into the ground still come out rich, with "golden parachute" contracts that guarantee that they gain even if everyone else loses.  With corporatism, the role of government is to tilt the playing fields in favor of the giant corporations, even if that squeezes out the kind of innovation that makes a better product available at a better price, which is the ultimate goal of true capitalism.

      We need to quit using the word "capitalism" to describe what these people do. Corporatism is more accurate.

      Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

      by Sirenus on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 09:18:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re: your sig (0+ / 0-)

        the two enemies are often to be found in one body.  Indeed, I'd argue that people try to control their environment (other people) BECAUSE they cannot control themselves.  Feeling out of control makes them feel very insecure.  So, the compensate by being obnoxious.

        by hannah on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 09:46:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, I meant people who think they have (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hannah, Justus

          the "right" to do whatever they want, and will do it, even when it justly angers people.

          Sometimes angering people is justified. Sometimes its a matter of doing things just because you can, and not giving a damn if it causes problems for others. Liberals often do this, usually in a minor way, such as using language that people find offensive, precisely because it is offensive.  It's not to make a point, it's more a rather juvenile thing, "Hey, I can say whatever I want and you can't stop me, so blankety, blank, blank, blank."

          A bit more serious are people who use their "rights" to justify really bad behaviour.  I once saw a documentary that concerned a bunch of 14-somethings who had gotten in the habit of harassing and knocking around elderly people who used a certain park. The kids were shown talking to the police--their position was "I'm underage, you can't do anything serious to me, I can do anything I want."

          I remember watching that and thinking: "No. There are no inalienable rights. There are no inalienable rights. Rights depend on the willingness of the society to protect them, and if you abuse them too far, society will say, 'The hell with it. We're tired of being beaten up by these little brutes. So forget about them being underage. Pass a new law. Thrown them in jail. Hell, pass a law that lets the police take them down in a basement and beat the hell out of them! We don't give a damn about their rights."

          Those who feel no need to control themselves can justly anger people. To the point that they don't care anymore about justice. So they restrict freedom. And that's not just their fault, it's also the fault of those who thought they could do anything they wanted, no matter how offensive, no matter how unnecessary, because they wanted to.

          Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

          by Sirenus on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 11:47:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Power, by it's nature (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, Justus

    does not have good intent. Look at the Bush's, they are a long line of evil doers, including Bush the Elder, a CIA stone killer. Grandpa Prescott was a nasty piece of work.  God knows where and and how this strain of psycho's got so much power.  Once they attain power they become members of Skull and Bones, or The Family colleagues in intent.  

    Same with the Kennedy's, their power came from bootlegging loot, was Joe's intent benign? Perhaps their intent does not matter to a society that elevates gangsters to power and calls wealth creation the highest good. I once heard the 'liberal ' Senator Franken say on Air America during the blood lust of Shock and Awe 'Hey were a violent society' as though this was just how we were.  

    It always makes me laugh when our representatives be they D's or R's come on my TV and tell me they can't represent either we the people or the laws because of 'powerful interests'. They are the 'powerful interests'.  They serve the powerful interests they are the face of power. Their intent is to maintain and grow the power.  They worship Mammon, they are doing God's work. Humans and the planet are expected to be sacrificed for their manifest destiny.  The intent is unimportant when the goal is just more greed, power and growth all to feed their lust. Why are we not willing to look beyond the persona's of those who push the buttons?  


  •  I sure miss Ann Richards (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sow hat, hannah

    Now there was a straight-talking Texan! And sadly, we are still facing today many of the same problems she described all those years ago.

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