VIEW TO THE WEST
Ten Years After
by Peter Shelton
Sep 08, 2011 | 1972 views | 12 12 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the “royal wedding” of politics and fashion in Ridgway this past weekend, I kept having this fantasy: What if I were stuck on the gondola with uncle-of-the-bride, George W. Bush? What would I say to the 43rd president?

I know, it was a pure impossibility. W probably wasn’t among the wedding guests closeted up in the Mountain Village. Nor would the Secret Service likely allow him to ride the gondola, particularly unaccompanied. But then I thought, OK, say there’s an agent or two in there with us. Late summer lightning shuts the thing down for an indefinite period. We’re swinging up there with lots of time to get past the awkward bits and down to brass tacks.

I asked a friend what he’d say. We happened to be waiting in line for a film up in the Mountain Village on Saturday, the day of the purported Bush-Lauren rehearsal dinner at Gorono Ranch Restaurant. My friend said he didn’t think he’d be able to say anything at all: “I’d probably try to strangle him.”

An honest fellow. A part of me was right there with him. “So much damage done,” this friend said. “So much harm.”

But don’t forget (in my fantasy) there are the guys in dark glasses with buds in their ears. So, the strangling option was out. I would be left with just words – to find them or not find them in an inevitably prickly situation.

I asked Ellen what she’d say. She answered that she probably wouldn’t say a thing. I could see her sitting there steaming, trembling with opportunity and restraint, unable to speak to a man who had so infuriated her over the course of eight long years. A man Ellen came to dislike so she had to put her fingers in her ears and sing, “La, La, La, La . . .” every time his voice came on the radio.

This was an honest reaction, too, this say-nothing option, and an amazing one given Ellen’s upbringing as a polite social creature. Ellen’s instinct is to fill an awkward silence, to draw out strangers, to make others feel welcomed and worthy. For Ellen to deny her training and imagine only a stony rebuke said volumes about the enmity she felt and still feels.

I too would feel the pull of manners, to stifle my angriest thoughts, this being a human being sitting on the bench across from me. This being a happy occasion, presumably, for Shrub. The damage done. His administration history.

But there would be another part of me that would want to shake off the charitable, and the nerves, and insist on Bush hearing from an aggrieved constituent. This being Film Festival weekend as well as Double RL wedding weekend, I figured I’d start by asking if he’d seen Taxi to the Dark Side. This is the Alex Gibney documentary about the first detainee in the war on terror, an innocent Afghan taxi driver who was tortured to death by American soldiers in Bagram prison in 2002.

I know, I know. Even if he had seen it, it’d be like water off a duck’s back, oil on water. But I’d want him to hear it anyway. How he and Mr. “Dark Side” himself, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, and John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzalez – how all of their lies about “torture” and “extraordinary rendition” and “unlawful combatants” and “weapons of mass destruction” didn’t fool everybody, didn’t fool a lot of people, people who were painfully ashamed to be Americans with such dissemblers for leaders.

When you, I would say to Mr. Bush, got on TV and said straight into the camera, “America does not torture,” what were you thinking? We already knew about the water boarding, and the attack dogs, and the sexual humiliation, and the darkness, and the sleep deprivation, and the hanging of men from the ceiling by their shackles. We already had Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

You wanted to exploit the patriot in us, but we saw the deep-seated weakness at work, the essential weakness of a bully, one who isn’t at all certain of his own strength, or in this case, of the strength of a nation to survive with its moral compass intact.

I would ask you, Mr. President, to take a look at the final scene of the movie. Look at it before you descend into senility, or total O.J.-style denial. (I realize this may be asking too much, but surely, surely there is some recognition, deep inside, of the counterfeit.)

Look at yourself at the microphone talking about the Geneva Conventions on torture and the words that prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

And then you got that smirking school-boy look and paused for a second before whining, “How vague is that?”
Comments
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TellurideFreePress
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September 15, 2011
Interesting debate.

I always find it compelling that when a President is failing, the partisans who voted for them will invoke memories of failed policies of past Presidents as if that somehow justifies the failures of "their man".

GW failed in many areas. There is no question about that. He succeeded in many areas as well. Was he the anti-Christ? No more than Obama.

It is time to stop blaming the last administration for President Obama's failures.

Since Gus appears to be focused on the torture of suspected terrorists under GW and not on the starving homeless Americans now in poverty under Obama, I must ask, "Where are your protests over the invasion of Libya, drones in Yemen murdering innocent civilians, Guantanamo still being open, the ATF's fast and furious program or the Solyndra scam which are now looking more and more like Watergate level corruption. These are serious issues that respected journalists should be reporting or at least opining about.

Yeah, I know that Telluride is far left of the rational political spectrum and catering to their hate for GW is both easy and popular but come on Gus, bashing Bush and Cheney while ignoring the same actions and policies of Obama is not only hypocritical but shows desperation.

Unfortunately, whether Obama wins or loses really does not matter (with the exception of columnists switching gears). Our government is broken and partisan Republicans and partisan Democrats are to blame. The only difference between the two parties and the last two Presidents is rhetoric; and the saddest part of it all is that smart folks (like Gus) continue to believe there is actually a real difference.

Until Americans start thinking for themselves instead of having an elephant or a jack ass tell them what to think, we will continue to focus on our differences and not our similarities.

I would have thought that with the specter of a double dip recession (or worse), skyrocketing poverty levels, the sprouts of an inflationary cycle and a renewed threat of a Middle East conflagration between Israel and her Arab and Turk neighbors would force the intelligent among us to demand an end to silly partisan games and work together to rebuild America. But it is just sooooo easier to bitch out the other side. Intellects? pffffft.

GusJarvis
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September 14, 2011
Well, ResponsibleFreePress, call me what you like. At least I have confidence enough to make comments under my name.

It's been a pleasure today.

-Gus Jarvis, Associate Editor

ResponsibleFreePress
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September 14, 2011
Yes, Mr. Jarvis-

Facts are stubborn things-the number of people making your illustrious 110k per year has fallen by 24% since Barack Obama was inaugurated; we keep this trend up and no one can save SS.

I have no complaint on the safe harbor amount of 110k being raised; raise it if that will keep the milk flowing to our less fortunate. In fact, it should not be limited at all-the idea that income taxes should pay for general government and ss taxes for safety nets is a good one; the corruption is that we have used SS deposits in prior years to fund general government and now the SS administration is the largest holder of IOU's from the general treasury. Imagine holding IOU's from an entity that is 16 trillion dollars in debt! With more on the way!

As for Mr. Perry, no, I think I have had my fill from the state of Texas. Let's see..Bush 1 and Bush 2 (twice). Perry reminds me of Bush 2; the hair and the religious bent. Pass on Perry here. Marco Rubio? I wish! Allen West for vice president!

Finally, I certainly do collect my check each month; I paid in and I expect re-payment. Period. As should you. Perhaps you have confidence issues since you can't seem to do the math and you look like you are early 30's...the system as we know it is a ponzi scheme and if created by any citizen (and not the government)would be a criminal act.

This back and forth started about creating jobs from government handouts or stimulus. I just think that the business of government is governing and not rescuing; in the last 11 years we have had about 4 major stimulus acts and all have failed. Jobs are created by productive acts and I rest my case on government jobs - we have lost ten million jobs in the last 11 years despite the presence of all this stimulus.

Done with the arguing and good night Mr. Jarvis.

GusJarvis
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September 14, 2011
ResponsibleFreePress,

Mention Social Security as a Ponzi Scheme again and I will truly believe you're in Perry's camp for Prez. Good on you though, to jump on his fear mongering bandwagon.

While social security has issues, it is NOT bankrupt and solving its problems shouldn't be that hard of a conundrum. Once again, it comes down to the rich paying their fair portion of payroll taxes that contribute to social security.

As it is right now, the social security program can make it's payments for the next 25-plus years. Some say longer. Oh, yeah. It's never been a burden on the national debt.

As its been for much too long, an employee's income is only taxed up to $109,000 a year for the payroll tax, meaning that a person who makes $110,000 a year is taxed exactly the same as a person who makes $10 million a year.

We all know that over time the number of those making over $110,000 a year have increased exponentially, so why shouldn't that payroll tax increase to match those income trends?

(I believe there are some crazy left wingnut types in Washington trying to raise the tax level to $250,000 a year.) This simple change would ensure social security benefits are paid for the next 75 years, maybe longer.

Once again, we are talking about fairly taxing those who make the most money in this country.

Face it ResponsibleFreePress, it isn't some notion that Social Security is bankrupting the country or that its akin to some Madoff ponzi scheme, you just don't like the fact that someone less fortunate than you may actually use a dollar you made during your employment to buy a gallon of milk. Poor, poor ResponsibleFreePress. I do feel for you.

I am willing to bet, though, if you haven't already, you will be first in line to ask for your social security check and then bitch about the program on your way to the bank.

As for those wasting their time reading sports in The Watch, I only hope they do so on Sunday, after church, of course.

- Gus Jarvis, Associate Editor
ResponsibleFreePress
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September 14, 2011
Yes, Mr. Jarvis-

Look around and you will find the answers you seek.

Is Social Security bankrupt? Yes. So, lowering our contributions while we maintain COLA adjusted payouts is simply ignorant.

We agree on the wars; no dispute here.

My idea to penalize those corporations that accumulate profits while reducing employment is not mine; it was the law for many years but was chipped away by that master of trickle down-Ronald Reagan. Time to bring it back and hurry.

The idea that we should equalize those who are not industrious or who like to sit home and read the sports column in The Watch is a dis-service to those who wake up early and get going on good ideas. Think Ben Franklin not Barack Obama.

We were once freemen who worked hard, saved, sacrificed, put men on the moon, won the important wars-Revolutionary, Civil, I and II; now we have become whiners and a people with a hand out looking for a job from the government. Us old men know that long term employment comes from useful productivity not make work like Solyndra or CCC jobs.

I am glad that you laugh when you read my writing; would that you read it to learn and you would get along much better in life.

And no goofballs for me; my grand daughter just told me that CNN, Maddow and that ilk are addicted to them.

Cheers!
GusJarvis
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September 14, 2011
You make me laugh ResponsibleFreePress, you always have.

With such decisive and absolute answers to the world's problems, I'm surprised we even have any problems at all. You certainly have it all figured out.

Let me know when you plan to run for public office, you have my vote.

Seriously though, stay off the goofballs.

-Gus Jarvis, Associate Editor
ResponsibleFreePress
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September 14, 2011
Hello Mr. Jarvis-

Not sure what a goofball is but it must be some type of liberal mix designed to avoid reality.

Not interested in a goofball.

Resign? Won't need to; he will have his hat handed to him in 2012. Look at Wiener's seat in the 9th district of NY; held by democrats since 1923 and yesterday a Republican cleaned a career democratic politician 56 to 44 percent.

On your other points-yes, very fortunate in my life. No, we need to drastically raise tax rates to pay for our stupid wars and our excessive spending. Your point that corporations are the new kings as they have more accumulated wealth than ever before is well made; we need to re-institute the accumulated earnings penalty tax which penalizes excess accumulation of funds in the absence of new hiring. No, we spend more money on education than ever before and we have produced unemployable graduates; we need to remember we are freemen, who took up arms and beat the King at his own violence through what became known as Yankee ingenuity. Lets simply let exceptional men and women rise; the rest should not be propped up but left to their own genius or lack thereof. No, cutting the payroll tax was ignorant; the trust fund is not existent; the social security system is the largest ponzi scheme in the history of the world and worse because it is a mandatory confiscation of our own labor for income re-distribution.

I will say that you are an energetic writer even if ignorant of reality; please continue to comment on socio-economic issues. Like playing softball with the blind.
GusJarvis
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September 14, 2011
ResponsibleFreePress,

Resign? You must be high on goofballs.

What's wrong with cutting the payroll tax to make it easier for small businesses to hire new workers? What's wrong with making it easier for small businesses to get the loans they need to grow? I certainly don't think Obama's Job Act is the end-all solution but it's better than doing nothing and its better than simply saying we must cut taxes to create jobs.

We have heard that argument over and over and over again from the conservative right. And yet it has never over time created an impressive number of jobs. Ever.

What next for you ResponsibleFreePress more tax loopholes for corporations and the rich? I bet that will create jobs. Riiiiight.

Perhaps, you, ResponsibleFreePress, are one of the lucky higher class citizens who enjoy numerous tax loopholes and a relativly low tax ratein comparison to the middle and lower classes. If this is you, I completely get your point. Say no more. I would vote republican too. They look out for their rich buddies in the name of job creation. Must be nice.

Meanwhile, corporate profits continue to exceed record numbers while job creation remains low.

So I ask you, ResponsibleFreePress, how can we trust that lower tax rates for the rich will ensure job creation.

This argument is a broken record that never seems to end.

Frankly I don't think Obama's plan goes far enough when it comes to new spending. Our education system needs to be improved first and foremost.

- Gus Jarvis, Associate Editor
ResponsibleFreePress
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September 14, 2011
Hi Mr. Jarvis-

If, as you say, the only way out of this mess is a combination of spending cuts and new taxes, how can you support President Obama's American Jobs Act which has increased spending?

Lets face the facts on Mr. Obama-he has never held a private sector job and has no idea on how to create one. His only solution is government sponsored employment.

It is time for him to resign.
GusJarvis
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September 14, 2011
Although I wholeheartedly disagree with what most of responsiblenewsfreak said, I do believe Mr. Bush does deserve some praise for his work on HIV/AIDS in Africa. And if he is "mounting efforts" to form a public-private partnership to combat cancers, good for him once again.

These positive's don't erase a crooked presidency though.

I will never forgive Bush for straight-face lying to Americans on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He treated his the public, both supporters and non-supporters, like idiots. I can't forgive him for that. You shouldn't either.

Let's not get stuck here on what Bush did but what he didn't do.

After 9/11, when Bushy had support from almost everyone in the country (myself included) to do something against terrorism, he entered into wars in two different countries with no way to pay for them. Let me repeat, no way to pay for them.

And here, is where the U.S.'s current fiscal problems began. It's been a downward debt spiral ever since.

Here's what he could have done.

Bush could have told Americans after 9/11, "Look, I know we don't need any more taxes but we have to do something about this terrorism problem. We must fight this problem in Afghanistan. But, this fight against terrorism isn't free. I am proposing a AntiTerrorism sales tax of 2 percent nationwide until the end of my presidency. This will pay for our fight against terrorism and its the responsible thing to do."

Now, you tell me. Who in their right mind, would be able to say "no" to that tax after watching those towers fall. Even the tea party would have to back that tax. It was an opportunity for Mr. Bush and, more importantly, our citizens to pay for our wars the responsible way.

Instead, Bushy sent the country spiraling into debt (not to mention a prescription drug plan) and the effects of that decision linger on, and on and on. Hell, I might even believe that if Bushy did find a way to responsibly pay for the wars through a tax, there might be a Republican in the White House right now.

Which brings me to Pres. Obama. As an "unhinged left wingnut" I would agree that the President has been disappointing. He hasn't done the things he said he would do like closing Guantanamo, he hasn't pulled this country out of Bushy's recession (he stopped its downward direction, at least) and he hasn't been the advocate for the environment and environmental regulations that all us left wingnuts would have liked to see. I am also smart enough to understand that the political situation in Washington right now doesn't exactly push progress in any form.

Perhaps the biggest problem is Obama and his supporters believed he would be able to pull this nation out of this dismal economy in a short period of time. What we are finding a reality is that economies take time to fix themselves. There are no magic pills. Experts have worked on this problem since the beginning of time, yet there is no one solution. If you believe by simply cutting taxes for the wealthy is THE solution, you're being duped.

This economy is here to stay for a while. That's the truth of the matter. If you believe any one of these Republican presidential candidates who say they have the magic pill, you're blinded by their B.S. The only way to move forward in solving the country's debt/job problem is a combination of spending cuts AND new tax revenues. If you don't believe that, your not being realistic.

-Gus Jarvis, Associate Editor
responsiblenewsfreak
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September 14, 2011
Mr. Shelton demonstrates that he is still a card-carrying member of the unhinged left "wingnut" still disrespectfully ranting on about Bush-Cheney. As a committed liberal-progressive, Mr. Shelton should know that readers of this paper recognize the extreme bias for what it is and resent having to get slapped around by his continued hatred for anything Republican, Conservative or Tea Party related. Might I say, George W. Bush accomplished so much more than just keeping America safe after 9/11. No other president did more for the cause of HIV/AIDS relief in Africa than W., As a post-president, W is currently mounting efforts to form a public-private partnership to help combat cervical and breast cancers for women in developing countries. There are now 250 sites in 11 countries. Can you admit, BO has done virtually nothing, except to continue his campaign from 2007. Never in my life have I seen a more political machine ruin the foundation of our country. He has broken promises to his progressive base. He has maintained the Bush-Cheney anti-terror programs of rendition; hasn't closed Guantanamo; the Patriot Act is still around; he waffles on bringing troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan and now, Libya. So, if you think Bush has a "smirking school-boy look," please tell me what that haughty, nose-in-the-air look is all about for BO. Is he smelling something in the wind? And isn't it odd The Watch has and will continue to besmirch its enemies, yet has not run any critical pieces on the dismal failures as America's first "Black" president. Intellectual dishonesty is still alive and well in Liberal Land. "La, la, la, la..."

ResponsibleFreePress
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September 09, 2011
Mr. Shelton should take a minute and review the pictures of people, our people, Americans, jumping off the twin towers prior to being burned to death...Mr. Bush surely knew and saw these images and he swore to protect us from the mad islamoterrorists ...

His so called torture produced the evidence that would eventually lead to Mr. Osama Bin Laden being shot in the eye.

Torture people bent on harming Americans? You bet. Where is the board and the water bucket?