Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"MISS ME YET?" ........you may be surprised where he's missed....or maybe not

By Bari Weiss The Wall St Journal OPINION JOURNAL April 24, 2010, Dallas

No one seems to know precisely who is behind the "Miss Me Yet?" billboard—the cheeky one featuring a grinning George W. Bush that looks out over I-35 near Wyoming, Minn. But Syrian dissident Ahed Al-Hendi sympathizes with the thought.

In 2006, Mr. Hendi was browsing pro-democracy Web sites in a Damascus Internet café when plainclothes cops carrying automatic guns swooped in, cuffed him, and threw him into the trunk of a car. He spent over a month in prison, some of it alone in a 5-by-3 windowless basement cell where he listened to his friend being tortured in the one next door. Those screams, he says, were cold comfort—at least he knew his friend hadn't been killed.

Mr. Hendi was one of the lucky ones: He's now living in Maryland as a political refugee where he works for an organization called Cyberdissidents.org. And this past Monday, he joined other international dissidents at a conference sponsored by the Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University to discuss the way digital tools can be used to resist repressive regimes.

He also got to meet the 43rd president. In a private breakfast hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Bush, Mr. Hendi's message to the former president was simple: "We miss you." There have been "a lot of changes" under the current administration, he added, and not for the better.

Adrian Hong, who was imprisoned in China in 2006 for his work helping North Koreans escape the country (a modern underground railroad), echoed that idea. "When I was released [after 10 days] I was told it was because of very strong messaging from the White House and the culture you set," he told Mr. Bush.

The former president, now sporting a deep tan, didn't mention President Obama once on or off the record. The most he would say was, "I'm really concerned about an isolationist mentality . . . I don't think it lives up to the values of our country." The dissidents weren't so diplomatic. (Z: this is the dignity we're missing now; imagine Obama staying quiet when the other side slams his then-finished administration, Obama turning the other cheek? He can't even do it now when he really should)

Mr. Hendi elaborated on the policy changes he thinks Mr. Obama has made toward his home country. "In Syria, when a single dissident was arrested during the administration of George W. Bush, at the very least the White House spokesman would condemn it. Under the Obama administration: nothing."

Nor is Mr. Hendi a fan of this administration's efforts to engage the regime, most recently by deciding to send an ambassador to Damascus for the first time since 2005. "This gives confidence to the regime," he says. "They are not capable of a dialogue; they don't believe in it. They believe in force." (Z: WHEN will American intel understand the Arab mind? How many times have even I mentioned this here at geeeeeZ? Pride and force..period)

Mr. Hong put things this way: "When you look at the championing of dissidents . . . and even the rhetoric, it's dropped off sharply." Under Mr. Bush, he says, there were many high-profile meetings with North Korean dissidents. "They went out of their way to show this was a priority."

Then there is Marcel Granier, the president of RCTV, Venezuela's oldest and most popular television station. He employs several thousand people—or at least he did until Hugo Chávez cancelled the network's license in 2007. Now, he's struggling to maintain an independent channel on cable: Mr. Chávez ordered the cable networks not to carry his station in January. Government supporters have attacked his home with tear gas twice, yet he remains in the country, tirelessly advocating for media freedom.

Like many of the democrats at the conference, Mr. Granier was excited by Mr. Obama's historic election, and inspired by the way he energized American voters. But a year and a half later, he's disturbed by the administration's silence as his country slips rapidly towards dictatorship. "In Afghanistan," he quips, "at least they know that America will be involved for the next 18 months."

This sense of abandonment has been fueled by real policy shifts. Just this week word came that the administration cut funds to promote democracy in Egypt by half. Programs in countries like Jordan and Iran have also faced cuts. Then there are the symbolic gestures: letting the Dalai Lama out the back door, paltry statements of support for Iranian demonstrators, smiling and shaking hands with Mr. Chávez, and so on. (Z: funny, they've cut funds toward promoting democracy here, too :-)

Daniel Baer, a representative from the State Department who participated in the conference, dismissed the notion that the White House has distanced itself from human-rights promotion as a baseless "meme" when I raised the issue. But in fact all of this is of a piece of Mr. Obama's overarching strategy to make it abundantly clear that he is not his predecessor.

Mr. Bush is almost certainly aware that the freedom agenda, the centerpiece of his presidency, has become indelibly linked to the war in Iraq and to regime change by force. Too bad. The peaceful promotion of human rights and democracy—in part by supporting the individuals risking their lives for liberty—are consonant with America's most basic values. Standing up for them should not be a partisan issue.

Yet for now Mr. Bush is simply not the right poster boy: He can't successfully rebrand and depoliticize the freedom agenda. So perhaps he hopes that by sitting back he can let Americans who remain wary of publicly embracing this cause become comfortable with it again. For the sake of the courageous democrats in countries like Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Colombia, China and Russia, let's hope so.

Ms. Weiss is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.

39 comments:

gramma2many said...

I sit down in the morning and read all of this and my mind just begins to swirl. It is hard to know how much more our country can take of this traitor ruining our beautiful nation.
998 days left and counting.
I saw Bush has published a book. Will be looking forward to reading it.

Brooke said...

Cutting funding for Democracy from such an openly socialist administration? Not surprising.

Really, I'm torn on this. I can't imagine Obama risking OFFENSE of a totalitarian gov't by telling them what they're doing is wrong.

Bush may have done well on this in other countries, but here in our own he let his "buddy Johnny Sutton" jail Ramos and Compean as virtual political prisoners.

tha malcontent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
atexaslupine, said...

I miss Bush. He indeed loves this country deeply, and respected the office he held. YES, he did some things wrong....

But please: let's NOT blame Bush for Obama. That was entirely the doing of the liberal media who--day in and day out for eight years--told Americans how he stole both elections, how much we all hated him (when really only 20-30% suffer from BDS), that he had lost the war on terrorism, AND that he was wrong to fight it in the first place. "Change" was what we "needed", and as ambiguous as they could make it.

The liberal media created the Obama monster, not George W Bush.

Don't let those liberals morons tell you any differently.
Do you hear that Shaw Kenawe

Name: Soapboxgod said...

Living in Minnesota, I've driven by this billboard twice and both times shaking my head with a defiant NO!

As to the request of not blaming Bush for Obama, I concur. However, let's also not forget that a number of Obama's present policies are merely exacerbations of policies first practiced by none other than George W. Bush.

But yes, to be certain, Obama is indeed responsible for owning his own policy.

James said...

everyone whining bout this right/center Clinton redux.

I still don't know what e's done that isn't a continuation of the last three decades of serious Libertarian destruction.

President Empty Suit has already launched three ties more drones than Chucklenuts did in his entire administration. I figured Brooke would be thrilled that he's killing Muslims.

Anonymous said...

A Good post Z,
Why would we be surprised at Obama's disinterest in others' freedom, when this President is clearly not interested in ours?

In fact he has worked hard to make us wards of the state by way of his healthcare debacle. And if Cap and Trade is accomplished, we will lose more of our freedom.

Obama himself has had the gall to deem the Constitution, flawed! What about America and American principles does he demonstrate that he likes?

He said in an interview early on, that the reason he didn't salute the flag or wear a flag pin, was "because I don't want to take sides".

I guess if you really believe you're king of the world, you'd take that position. Someone please tell the "King", his crown has slipped!

Isn't he the one who is working to "fundamentally transform this country"?

Oh yes, I miss Bush, not because he was perfect, but because he loved his country. Because he believed in freedom, and because he respected and believed in the Constitution and the American people.

President Bush did everything he could to keep us safe.

I have one more reason, selfish though it may be. I could sleep at night.

Pris

GM Roper said...

I too miss President Bush. He did a lot of things wrong (spending etc) but he did more right in one week, than the current occupant of the White House has done in 15 months.

Z said...

James: "I figured Brooke would be thrilled that he's killing Muslims."

I'm hoping Brooke responds, I could say plenty but I'll let her chime in.

Pris, I sure did sleep better, even on Bush's worst days where I was angry at something he'd done.

GM Roper...I'm with you.

heidianne jackson said...

i would expect that dissidants from those living under tyrannical regimes would miss gwb. regardless of his faults, he DOES love america. further, he recognizes that expanding personal freedom is the only way to reduce/remove tyrants and despots. unfortunately, he didn't recognize that no constitutional spending is anathema to protecting personal liberties here.

over and over again in the past 15 months we have seen bho bow to those who would do us harm and look the other way claiming it to be "and internal issue" when despots, tyrants and dictators have worked to reduce human rights and expand socialism. however, in the same timeframe, we have watched with horror while he helps the enemies of such states as honduras and israel to reduce their constitutional democracies.

it's sickening.

Anonymous said...

"I sure did sleep better, even on Bush's worst days where I was angry at something he'd done"

Ditto Z! Btw, do you think James get's his talking points at the same place Ducky does.....or....?

Pris

heidianne jackson said...

"Btw, do you think James get's his talking points at the same place Ducky does.....or....?"

ya know, pris, i'm beginning to think these lemmings all get their talking points handed to them by huffpo or kos or someone. they all spew the same idiotic nonsense.

highboy said...

Bush got too much credit from the right and too much blame from the left. At best/worst, he was a mediocre president during whose term a lot of bad unprecedented crap happened.

Z said...

I don't know about James but, like Ducky, he has no blog.....it's hit and run with Huffpo and Kos talking points...

Atexaslupine....the media DID create Obama, but they'd knocked Bush SO FAR DOWN, typical Alinsky fashion (with some help from Bush and his administration) that ANYBODY'd have been elected who wasn't a Republican.

The media's keeping Obama in office, too......any other president would have an even worse rating than Obama had we a media which told America all the truth...or ANY of the truth.
imagine people who voted for Obama knowing FULL WELL that he lied about knowing Ayers? The left poo-poo's that as if it doesn't matter, even giving Ayers a pass for having been a home-grown terrorist, but it does matter. Even today in America, character DOES matter with most of us.

By the way...COME TO THINK OF IT; INTERESTING THAT OUR LEFTWINGERS ARE CRAZED BY HOMEGROWN CONSERVATIVE TERRORISTS AND COMPLETELY NONCRITICAL ABOUT LEFTWING TERRORISTS LIKE AYERS, HUH?

Janie Lynn said...

I miss Dubya alright. I read a blog post yesterday about struggling with respecting the office of president when the man holding office is .. well .. Obama. Never has a politician brought up such angry emotions in me and that alone makes me struggle. At least with GWB I was able to respect him because he respected and loved the American people and our nation and I truly believe history will be much kinder to him than our current -ahem - leader.

heidianne jackson said...

"INTERESTING THAT OUR LEFTWINGERS ARE CRAZED BY HOMEGROWN CONSERVATIVE TERRORISTS AND COMPLETELY NONCRITICAL ABOUT LEFTWING TERRORISTS LIKE AYERS, HUH?"

z, i have to believe it's because they see those of us on the conservative side are working against their agenda, whilst ayers and his ilk are working for it.

@janie, i REFUSE to call obama - and most in congress for that matter - a leader. he is not a leader. he is a politician.

we NEED leaders. but all we find any more are politicians. that makes me so sad...

Chuck said...

It's all about class, Bush has it Obama doesn't

Z said...

And, Chuck, many Americans think Obama does have class, which is even more heart breaking? I wish he DID!

Janie, it gives me absolutely NO PLEASURE in insulting a sitting AMerican president, in fact it hurts me....but this man is so undignified, so accusatory, so thin skinned.
Remember when Tom Brokaw caught Bush on the tarmak outside Airforce 1 and asked "How do you feel about the Dixie Chicks having gone to Europe and insulted you?" (or words to that exact affect)...Bush said "Well, they have a write to how they feel." He NEVER insulted critics back, I'm not sure ANY president has...

yet, now we have this man who does constantly.

This morning, I was stunned to hear him tell us all that we can't have our grandchildren saddled with debt. IS HE KIDDING? Who PUT them in this incredible debt? he's using REPUBLICAN TALKING POINTS, TEA PARTY TALKING POINTS, and thinks we don't see through it?

AND, he then WARNS us all, including journalists, to LET THIS NEW ECONOMIC COUNCIL DO THEIR WORK...WE HAVE TO PUT POLITICS ASIDE AND DO WHAT"S RIGHT, NOT WORRY MORE ABOUT RE ELECTION....I mean, you can't make this stuff UP!
The way the Leftwingers treated ANYTHING Bush did with such incredible insult and now, suddenly, the left's warning people to NEVER CRITICIZE, telling journalists DON'T ASK QUESTIONS!?

Is this really happening in AMERICA?

Heidianne, of course that's why! Absolutely.....Ayers is COOL, he's against America! GREAT GUY, right? :0)

beamish said...

Looks like James and Ducky subscribe to the same blithering idiot trainer.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
I guess by comparison I miss Bush. But he had one serious flaw that I can't overlook and that was his pandering to the left with his spending. He did love his country and took every measure to protect it. There's a lot to said for that.

Anonymous said...

I miss him.
WVDOTTR

FairWitness said...

Z, we don't have a President in the White House who believes in Democracy, he's a Marxist.

Every day something else happens to remind me of just what a dangerous man Obama is. My God, what the hell did this country do??? How could so many voters have been so stupid?

MK said...

It's what i said before zero was elected and i still say it, when a democrat is elected, the flame of liberty is dimmed and is snuffed out completely in some places.

Leftists are the enemy of freedom and liberty. Don't look at what they say, look at the consequences of their policies. The only real question about it is whether that is intentional or because they're just too stupid to know otherwise.

Anonymous said...

"The only real question about it is whether that is intentional or because they're just too stupid to know otherwise."

MK, I think it's intentional. When it seems to be all about power, it is. This President is surrounded with radicals. They've believed for years the country has to be torn down, and built back up in their vision, and IMO, that's what they're all about.

Pris

Brooke said...

I'd like to figure out exactly what the hell James is fawning on about! I wonder if he even read the comment, or if he's just trying to display his complete lack of comprehension skills.

Let me spell it out for the marker sniffers here.

I just plainly said that I think Obama would rather allow oppressed Muslims who dare speak out die than risk offense of the governments.

*sigh*

Anonymous said...

I miss EISENHOWER and I miss REAGAN.

Most of all I miss the days before Watergate destroyed a good residency with a journalistic coup d'etat just because they COULD.

I do NOT miss EITHER of the Bushes.

Bushes, Clintons and Obama are all in it together. They're puttin' on a Punch and Judy Show for the ignorant masses. The Bushes are committed INTERNATIONALISTS.

Bilderbergers, Council on Foreign Relations, Skull and Bones, the Masons, the International Bankers and Financiers and major suppliers of raw materials who rule over millions of ignorant peons are in control.

WE, as US citizens have NOTHING to do with policy making decisions anymore. It's ALL been taken right out of our hands by bigwigs who have NO allegiance to anyone but themselves and the bottom line.

Disbelieve this at your peril.

~ FreeThinke

beamish said...

FT,

Do take care to use the hard to find tin foil to construct your hat. Aluminum foil won't do.

;)

Anonymous said...

Beamish,

I used to think that way too, until I met a number of people who came up with clear and convincing evidence that schemes for INTERNATIONALIZATION and the resultant loss of American sovereignty have been in the works for about a century.

One of these people was named Republican Woman of the Year by Hew Hampshire's RNC in 2009. She works tirelessly for the good of conservative principles within the Republican Party, and has been asked to join the campaign for Jean Shaheen's Republican opponent as a PAID member of the team, because of the outstanding talent, dedication and tremendous energy she has exhibited.

Just because people like Michael Medved, who passes for a conservative talk show host, dismisses and denigrates certain areas of knowledge, because they doesn't serve HIS idea of what America's international agenda should be, doesn't mean there is nothing to it.

The widespread vilification of Pat Buchanan as an "anti-Semite" is one small facet of why I refuse to be taken in by the likes of Medved.

This is obviously an insane world, and getting more so every day, so I don't dare dismiss ANY theories as nonsense till they are proven false.

There's too much smoke surrounding the issue of an anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Christian Internationalist Agenda for there not to be fire in there somewhere.

It's painfully obvious that "the people" have virtually NO SAY in making public policy. That ain't the way it's supposed to be, but the performance put on so far by the Obama Regime and the Obamanable Congress proves the assertion. But The Big O is but a symptom of the plague that infected us surreptitiously many decades ago.

I've been around long enough to know that nothing happens by accident, and there are no real coincidences in large-scale human interaction.

The other thing is this: We only know what we've been TOLD by the media. When has the established press EVER told the simple truth?

~ FreeThinke

beamish said...

FT,

I'm not all that familiar with Medved, but Pat Buchanan IS an anti-Semite. I'd even go so far as to declare Moonbat Pat a national socialist. A leftist. Well left of me anyway.

Where is the "anti-globalization / anti-internationalist" movement? Last we saw them waving anti-Semitic placards and re-enacting Kristalnacht outside the Vancouver Olympics, nearly a decade after they smashed the windows and firebombed shops of downtown Seattle during the World Trade Organization conference there.

Pat Buchanan and Medea Benjamin make a cute couple, don't they?

Like William F. Buckley, I find it "impossible to defend Pat Buchana from charges of anti-Semitism."

As for "nothing happens by coincidence" - it isn't a coincidence that Pat Buchanan shares the political views and support of some of the most virulently anti-Semitic left-wingers in politics today.

When Moonbat Pat left the Republican Party to take conservatives with him, few conservatives actually noticed.

I used to point at his run with Michael Kinsley on CNN's Crossfire as an example of the dearth of conservative viewpoints on news talk shows (a pre-Fox News dated reference there).

I cringe when Sean Hannity gives a microphone to that dipshit.

Z said...

Pat Buchanan isn't a Republican anymore? Hurrah!
I used to laugh out loud when msnbc tried to look FAIR AND BALANCED on Iraq and would have Buchanan on IRAQ WAR discussions...the most well known Republican totally AGAINST the war, and they pick him as their TOKEN TYPICAL REPUBLICAN...that way, they could say "But we have BUCHANAN ON!! See how FAIR WE ARE!?" heh

I have to admit I didn't know he ever said anything anti Semitic because I thought he was very pro Israel, but I could be wrong!

heidianne jackson said...

pat buchanan is a total anti-semite, z. trust me on this one.

Anonymous said...

Well, let's just agree to disagree on this one, and let it go at that. I think shouting matches are a waste of time.

If Pat Buchanan is anti-ANYTHING, he is more noticeably anti-Gay and anti-Communist than anything else.

The lack of wholehearted, unqualified SUPPORT and ADMIRATION for someone or something does not necessarily qualify anyone as "ANTI" whatever that object of adverse criticism might be.

I have little interest in or respect for most of the material that comes out of the Popular Entertainment Mills -- likewise the Education Mills of today. That does not mean I would start a campaign to OBLITERATE popular entertainment, or end all attempts at public education.

I agree that Pat Buchanan has teamed up with some pretty suspicious and unlikely characters in a vain attempt to build some sort of "anti-Establishment" coalition, but I've watched and listened to Buchanan for more than 25 years. A great many of his observations are dead on target.

This idea that not being an ardent supporter of Israel automatically makes one an "anti-Semite" is absurd. Most of the non-religious Jews in this country are profound LEFTISTS -- a huge percentage of American Jewry votes for DEMOCRATS. I doubt if many of those people care a rat's rump about Israel.

So what?

Isn't the right and privilege of EVERY American citizen to think, feel and openly express whatever he believes?

It's that old "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend -- to the death -- you're right to say it" business once again.

Voltaire, Thomas Paine and every single one of the Founding Fathers would be against political correctness and "hate speech" laws, which are nothing more than a concerted effort to POLICE the way we THINK.

Here's another way of putting it by yet-another illustrious figure in American history:

"If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought – not free thought for those that agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate."

~ Oliver W. Holmes (1841-1935)

And by the way, holding the opinion that getting involved in wars without end in the Middle East is neither anti-Semitic, anti-American or in any way reprehensible. Once again, American citizens have the God-given RIGHT to hold whatever opinions they like -- and to express them publicly.

We even have the right to call each other names, but I think the practice is unprofitable -- to say the very least.

~ FreeThinke

PS: Any and all forms of compulsory GroupThink -- or insistence on mass conformity to ANY code of conduct or professed ideals -- is TOTALITARIAN in nature. - FT

Z said...

I must be the only one who agrees with FT that being against actions of Israel doesn't mean someone's anti Semitic. I absolutely wholeheartedly APPROVE of Israel's actions and find the leftwingers protestations about the POOR PALESTINIANS a LIE and STUPID, but I have to admit I don't think they're all Antisemitic.

Heidianne, if you say so. I know Buchanan's supposed to be a staunch Christian so that's hard to believe, but you'd know, honey...xx

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Z.


Further historic commentary supporting Freedom of Expression is seen here:


'In an 1800 letter to Benjamin Rush Thomas Jefferson stated, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”'


Interesting context for that famous remark in this short article:


http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081109175148AAJQ6Fw


A very difficult question I would dare to ask:


If someone actually IS an "anti-Semite," -- a term of opprobrium all too often flung about with reckless abandon as a means of derailing debate -- does that automatically disqualify him or her from being properly respected and taken seriously if he or she has achieved a great deal in other realms?

That's a loaded question for which I have an answer that satisfies me, but I'd be interested to hear what others might have to say about it.

~ FreeThinke

beamish said...

William F. Buckley was against the Iraq War, and he was no anti-Semite.

If someone actually IS an "anti-Semite," -- a term of opprobrium all too often flung about with reckless abandon as a means of derailing debate -- does that automatically disqualify him or her from being properly respected and taken seriously if he or she has achieved a great deal in other realms?

Does it matter if John Wayne Gacy could paint?

Anti-Semitism is and always has been the mating call of leftists. Look at the economic policies championed by Buchanan and those of Kim il-Jung and tell me the differences, if any.

Yes, you can criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic.

I for one believe Israel's policies towards the Egyptian and Jordanian ex-patriates that call themselves "Palestinians" should take their cues from respected members of the United Nations. Russia, for example, dealt with Chechen terrorism by levelling Grozny. ;)

Z said...

FT...I couldn't respect anybody who was Anti Semitic...
I have known Jews I didn't like...I've known Armenians I don't like...I've known Catholics I wasn't nuts about, and plumbers who tick me off...........I think you'd say you admired my singing in spite of that!
But, to be ANTI SEMITIC and still be respected? Not by me. Maybe I'd still admire his paintings or her cooking, but that wouldn't be someone I'd respect or want to hang with.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding.

For me achievement always trumps the person who achieves.

That doesn't mean I'd want to have breakfast or share tea everyday with many of these characters. It's one of the great ironies that some of the most brilliant individuals are obnoxious -- socially unacceptable.

But I never rule ANYBODY out -- not even Fundamentalist Christians. ;-)

Unfortunately, "The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones."

At root we are commanded to love and forgive one another. I take that to mean even those who "revile" and "despitefully use" us -- or others."

"To err is human; to forgive is divine."

In personally forgiving even those who've committed the most heinous acts we help OURSELVES to cope with the world more fruitfully and to expand our capacities to experience happiness and fulfillment.

The lust for vengeance is -- in my never humble opinion -- a perfect way of perpetuating and expanding Grief, Resentment, Hatred and SIN.

~ FreeThinke

beamish said...

I guess I don't see the reason to call Buchanan a conservative beyond his Catholic pro-life stance. On domestic policy he's something of a Copperhead Democrat. He's written a book on why he thinks it is wrong to have gone to war with Nazi Germany. He sides with Palestinian terrorists over Israel's legitimate right to self-defense. He writes as if the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" conspiracy theorist's bible is the truth.

If intellect were money, Buchanan's holding pocket lint.

Anonymous said...

Read The Death of the West.

Hardly liberal.

But then PB's a member of the MEDIA. so maybe for him it's all just SHOWBIZZ -- i.e. doing and saying ANYTHING that will get you the mot attention.

"The People" just ADORE everything outrageous, salacious, scandalous, "off-color," horrifying, depressing and CHEESY.

It's a symbiotic relationship between The Public and The Enemedia. A first-rate example of ENEMETICS hard at work.

~ FreeThinke