george bush was one of the worst, if not the worst, president in the history of the usa...and certainly the most scandalous.
i can understand that some didn't like bush. i can even agree with some of the reasons, but really? worst and most scandalous? right off the top of my head i can think of several that were either worse or most scandalous, or both.
maybe you can give some examples to back that up?
Hugh's list is a good place to start....http://www.netrootsmass.net/hughs-bush-scandals-list/
395. Lax oversight at the Office of Thrift Supervision contributed to bank failures
A November 23, 2008 Washington Post story reports that lax oversight by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) allowed the savings and loan institutions it regulated to engage in dubious practices which led to $355.7 billion in thrift failures in 2008 and the need the to sell off other institutions to avoid failure. Thrifts are usually smaller than commercial banks and concentrate more on home loans. Even so, some of the names of institutions which failed or were sold are well known: IndyMac, Washington Mutual, and Countrywide, for example (see item 87).
Across the board, the Bush Administration aggressively deregulated financial markets. At the OTS this strategy was spearheaded by James Gilleran who headed the agency from 2001-2005. In his first 3 years, he cut OTS’s 1,200 staff by a quarter even as the value of the assets the agency oversaw increased by half. Banks were also allowed to draw down their reserves on average by a third to the lowest level in 20 years. To justify this, the OTS accepted unrealistic projections on what expected losses in the banks’ loan portfolios would be. At the time thrifts were making more and more higher risk adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), the OTS permitted them to assess the risk of these in terms of their introductory low rate and not the higher rate to which the loans would ultimately convert. And no, these loans were not being to the poor. As part of Gilleran’s deregulation, government obligations to lend in low income communities were not strictly enforced.
The structure of the OTS was also at odds with its mission. It had an inherent and fatal conflict of interest. It was funded by the very banks it was tasked with regulating. The bigger the bank the bigger the contribution. So although the OTS oversaw some 750 banks, Washington Mutual (WaMu) alone paid 13% of its budget. The mortgage writer Countrywide which was actually recruited by the OTS to become a thrift on the promise that it would be loosely regulated accounted for another 5% of the OTS budget.
In short, the thrifts were paying the OTS not to regulate them, and in exchange for the budget it received from them the OTS turned a blind eye to their reckless behavior. This arrangement worked out very well until the thrifts crashed and burned. Who could have predicted . . .?
Posted in: Anti-candidate, Corruption, Economy, Hugh's List of Bush Scandals
396. Wrongdoing in the Air Marshal Service
The Air Marshal Service went from 33 agents and a $4.4 million budget before 9/11 to 3,000-4,000 marshals and a $786 million budget. During this time, it has had 3 different leaders and been moved to 4 different agencies. Since its expansion, some three dozen marshals have been charged with crimes and hundreds (753 already at the time of a 2004 Inspector General’s report) accused of misconduct, everything from drug smuggling, a marshal who tried to hire a hitman to kill his ex-wife, inappropriate use of firearms, drunk driving, human trafficking, corruption, and weapons smuggling.
A November 25, 2008 report by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) reported that whistleblowers inside the Air Marshals Service were harassed for speaking out and that the Office of Special Counsel headed by the now fired Scott Bloch (item 153) did little to protect them.
This level of wrongdoing, chaos and mismanagement is pretty much what you would expect from Michael Chertoff’s Department of Homeland Security.
Posted in: Criminality, DHS/Homeland Security, Hugh's List of Bush Scandals, War on Terror, Whistleblower
397. Government OK’s dumping mining debris in and near streams
On December 2, 2008, the Bush Administration in its last days approved a Department of Interior rule which will allow coal companies to shear off the tops of mountains and dump the debris into surrounding valleys and streams. This change would primarily affect coalfields in Appalachia. Current regulations establish a minimum 100 ft. buffer between dumped material and streams. By changing the environmental effect on streams from “adversely impact” to “significantly degrade,” the new rule would allow variances that would reduce or eliminate the buffer. Stephen Johnson (items 23, 321, 348) the current head of the EPA and one of the Adminstration’s most active anti-environmentalists, stated that fish, streams, and wildlife would be protected. What Johnson did not say was that this would be done by changing the definition of “protected”. The rule also contains a lot of wiggle room in how runoff and water pollution would be minimized “to the extent possible using the best technology currently available.” For mining interests and this Administration, “the extent possible” can mean “not much” and “the best technology currently available” can mean whatever is handy.
Posted in: Anti-candidate, Environment, Hugh's List of Bush Scandals
398. Managing the Obama transition, the NASA example
The secrecy and the lack of accountability which have marked the Bush Administration are producing some comical but telling problems for Obama transition teams. NASA’s dictatorial Adminstrator Michael Griffin said that Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator, was unqualified to judge his pet project the Constellation program to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. He directed NASA employees to stay on message with the transition team. Interviews were monitored by NASA officials, and employees were told to report conversations back to their managers. Griffin also directly contacted contractors and told them to sell the program and not discuss any alternatives to it. He demanded that they pre-clear their presentations with him. Some contractors were also supplied with talkingpoints saying that if Constellation were cancelled it would make NASA look bad and damage public confidence in it. As a result, some contractors declined to participate in interviews fearing retribution from Griffin.
Griffin’s actions culminated in the following overheard exchange with Garver:
“Mike, I don’t understand what the problem is. We are just trying to look under the hood,” Garver said.
“If you are looking under the hood, then you are calling me a liar,” Griffin replied. “Because it means you don’t trust what I say is under the hood.”
It would be hard to find a more eloquent expression of the Bush mindset of “Trust me and don’t believe your lying eyes” or a better example of the view that facts are not to be addressed but managed.
Posted in: Contractors, Hugh's List of Bush Scandals
399. The cockamamie FBI investigation of the Madrid train bombings and Brandon Mayfield
On March 11, 2004, a series of bombings took place in Madrid which killed 191 people and injured 2,000. A fingerprint lifted from a bag of detonator caps was erroneously identified by the FBI as belonging to Brandon Mayfield, a 37 year old lawyer in Portland, Oregon. Although Mayfield was living more than 5,000 miles away from Madrid and there was no evidence that he had been outside the country, and despite the doubts of Spanish authorities about the fingerprint match, what sealed the deal for the FBI was that Mayfield’s wife was from Egypt and he had converted to Islam and had Moslem clients. As far as they were concerned, he had to be a terrorist. As a result, the FBI began a highly intrusive surveillance of Mayfield including wiretaps and searches of his home and office which culminated in his arrest on May 6, 2004 as a material witness, a detention which lasted two weeks. As Mayfield described his ordeal
The days, weeks and months following my arrest were some of the darkest we have had to endure. I personally was subject to lockdown, strip searches, sleep deprivation, unsanitary living conditions, shackles and chains, threats, physical pain and humiliation.
It is important to realize the intensity of the government’s pressure on Mayfield. They were hanging death penalty offenses over him and generally terrorizing both him and his family. In this, the government’s investigation recalls the heavy-handedness and sloppiness of its anthrax investigations (see item 366).
Nevertheless, a January 6, 2006 report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General Glenn Fine, in a fairly typical whitewash characteristic of IG reports, found that the FBI had not misused any provisions of the Patriot Act although it noted that the government’s sharing of information on Mayfield to other agencies had amplified the effects of its “mistake”.
On November 29, 2006, the government settled with Mayfield for $2 million. It issued him an apology, and allowed his case challenging the Constitutional validity on 4th Amendment grounds of the Patriot Act to go forward.
With great power comes great responsibility. Along with understanding a lot about human nature, the Founders understood this. They knew from their own experience that there were plenty of fools and zealots who would abuse and misuse any power that was given to them. It is why they were so careful to make sure that no power went unchecked. Post-9/11, the Bush Administration went on a bender and with considerable help, or complicit silence, from the Democrats undid many of the simple lessons that the Founders struggled so hard and sacrificed so much to bequeath to us. Bush and the political leadership on both sides of the aisle thought they were considerably smarter than the Founders gave them credit for. What they did not understand was that they were the ones the Founders were warning us about.
Posted in: Hugh's List of Bush Scandals, Incompetence, Inspector General, Surveillance, War on Terror
400. An absent President
Of the 2922 days Bush was President he spent all or part of 1,020 on vacation (35% of his time in office). This includes 487 days at Camp David, 490 at his ranch in Crawford, and 43 days at his family’s compound in Kennebunkport. If there is one word which typifies this and Bush, it is AWOL. The man has been AWOL his whole life. You have only to look at his academic career or his lack of it. It nails his experience with Vietnam where he never took a strong position for the war and went, or against it and protested. It was the essence of his time in the National Guard (whether it was technically the case or not). It marked his approach to his business failures. As for the governorship of Texas, it looks good on a résumé and is a useful political springboard but it is a weak position, tailor made for an AWOL man. Unfortunately for us, the Presidency is a real full-time job. In it, Bush stayed true to form. He was not just physically absent from it much of the time. He was intellectually and morally absent from it all the time.
The results we can see all around us. He did not keep us safe from 9/11. He mired the nation in stupid wars he waged stupidly and interminably. He was not there for Katrina. He took a piratical financial industry and negligently set it loose on the economy to wreak havoc in the housing and oil markets and eventually bring the whole system to the point of collapse and the country to the edge of depression.
But the blame does not belong to him. It never does with an AWOL man. No, it belongs with us who, as a nation, for 8 years took a vacation from our ourselves and our responsibilities. We had not just an AWOL President with Bush but an AWOL age. Now Bush is gone, as AWOL as ever, and we are left to deal with his legacies.