We will get to the genuine outrage
shortly, but first let’s cut through some of the starch. The reaction
of Will Bunch,
who writes the Attywood blog for the Philadelphia Daily
News, is a good example of the overwrought reaction that greeted Bush’s
typically bug-eyed reading of the words that someone put on the autocue
for him. This is the offending passage, which Bunch took from this CNN

“Some seem to believe we should
negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument
will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” said Bush, in what
White House aides privately acknowledged was a reference to calls by
Obama and other Democrats for the U.S. president to sit down for talks
with leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“We have heard this foolish
delusion before,” Bush said in remarks to the Israeli Knesset. “As Nazi
tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: ‘Lord,
if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been
avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false
comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by

That’s it. A tired, ludicrous,
irrelevant and meaningless analogy, from the most unpopular president
in American history –  a despised, pathetic wretch whose words sway no
one beyond a fanatic minority of zealots – and a cynical,
profit-seeking elite — already committed to his murderous vision. The
speech will have no impact whatsoever on the outcome of the
presidential race. It tells us nothing that we don’t already know about
the Bush gang’s lust for war with Iran, a nation the gang has long
painted in the colors of Nazi Germany.

But because this pointless
regurgitation contained a dig at the likely Democratic nominee, Bunch
calls it an act of “political treason.” In fact, in a truly remarkable
– and to me genuinely shocking – outburst, he says that Bush’s tweaking
of Obama in the speech was actually worse than the Watergate scandal,
the Iran-Contra scandal, and all of the Bush Regime’s own depredations
in the past seven years, including the “flagrant disregard for the
Constitution, the launching of a ‘pre-emptive’ war on false pretenses,
and discussions about torture and other shocking abuses inside the
White House inner sanctum.” All of this — crime, deceit, mass murder
in a war of aggression — pales in comparison to Bush’s Knesset speech,
which Bunch calls “a new low that I never imagined was even possible.”

I don’t want to pick on Bunch. He
seems like a nice guy, and he has worked hard over the years in
detailing some of the outrages of the Bush Regime. But I must confess
that I simply cannot comprehend the mindset that would lead to such a
statement. Bush goading Obama in an overseas appearance is a “new low”?
Worse than torture? Worse than unrestricted spying on the American
people? Worse than the subversion of the electoral process in Watergate
(not to mention the 2000 and 2004 campaigns)? Worse than running guns
to the Iranian mullahs to help fund a terrorist insurgency in
Nicaragua? Worse than aggressive war launched on false pretenses? Worse
than a million people dead and more than four million driven from their
homes? What kind of moral algebra could lead to such a conclusion? How
could anything that Bush says at this point be worse than what he has
already done?

Part of it stems,  I think, from
the deeply ingrained and deeply self-righteous “American
exceptionalism” that characterizes most “progressive” viewpoints. What
we have here, first, is the temporary insanity that afflicts almost all
partisans during an election year, in which the slightest perturbation
on the American political scene far outweighs any other event in moral
importance. Second, there is the upsurge of patriotic bunkum that
arises during presidential campaigns, where partisanship so often wraps
itself in the robes of a violated idealism.  Witness the quivering
sanctimony of Bunch’s indignation (and try not to let the humming
chorus of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” – from, say, the soundtrack
of “Doctor Strangelove” – drown out the prose as you read):

As a believer in free speech, I
think Bush has a right to say what he wants, but as a President of the
United States who swore to uphold the Constitution, his freedom also
carries an awesome and solemn responsibility, and what this president
said today is a serious breach of that high moral standard.

Of course, there are differences of
opinion on how America should handle Iran, and that’s why we’re having
an election here at home, to sort these issues out — hopefully with
respect and not with emotional and inaccurate appeals….[Here Bunch
accurately describes the hypocrisy of Bush’s remarks in respect to
other American dealings with Libya and, indeed, Iran. Then the bunkum
kicks into overdrive.]

But what Bush did in Israel this
morning goes well beyond the accepted confines of American political
debate. When the president speaks to a foreign parliament on behalf of
our country, his message needs to be clear and unambiguous. Our
democracy may look messy to outsiders, and we may have our
disagreements with some sharp elbows thrown around, but at the end of
the day we are not Republicans or Democrats or liberals or

We are Americans.

O, e pluribus unum! Let the mighty
eagle soar! Yeah, we may mix it up a little bit, but at the end of the
day we are all one, we are all….family.

One can only assume that Bunch has
not been reading his own admirable pieces for the past several years.
Or anything else for that matter. Throughout this entire decade, the
public “debate” has been packed to the rafters with fierce
excommunications of Bush regime critics as “un-American,” not “real
Americans,” not “one of us,” “traitors,” “enemies”  and so on and so
forth. (My own in-box has groaned with such messages for years. Indeed,
if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told by a fellow American
that I am not their fellow American, I could probably run for president
myself. At least for a week or two. I imagine that Bunch, writing for a
much larger public platform, has gotten even more of this kind of 
hysterical shunning.) Yet still the bunkum goes on:

And you, Mr. Bush, are the leader
of us all. To use a diplomatic setting on foreign soil to score a cheap
political point at home is way beneath your office, way beneath your
country, and way beneath the people you serve. You have been handed an
office once uplifted to great heights by fellow countrymen from
Washington to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Eisenhower, and have plunged it
so deeply into the Karl-Rove- and-Rush-Limbaugh-fueled world of
political destruction and survival of all costs that [you] have lost
all perspective — and all sense of decency. To travel to Israel and to
associate a sitting American senator and your possible successor in the
Oval Office with those who at one time gave comfort to an enemy of the
United States is, in and of itself, an act of political treason.

“You, Mr. Bush, are the leader of
us all.” I can’t say for sure, of course, but I would bet good money
that not once in the last five years (if not longer) has Will Bunch
ever felt in his heart, even for a nano-second, that Bush is “the
leader of us all.” I would imagine that Bunch, like any sentient being,
has long considered Bush to be a willfully ignorant preppy thug who
cheated his way into office, where he has gleefully spit and shat upon
the Constitution, the rule of law and all human decency. And I know for
a fact – from the very post examined here  – that Bunch considers Bush
a war criminal who launched an act of aggression on false pretenses. So
why does Bunch – and the other progressives shocked at Bush’s speech –
engage in false pretenses of their own? Why pretend that this
bloodstained husk is some kind of legitimate figure, and be outraged
when he fails to respect the niceties of some idealized vision of
American politics, or lowers the “dignity of his office”?

And why engage in the same kind of historical ignorance that Bush’s statement reeks of? Bunch says that Bush compared Obama
to “those who at one time gave comfort to an enemy of the United
States.” Presumably, he is referring to Neville Chamberlain and others
who negotiated with Hitler before the war. But Hitler was not “an enemy
of the United States” until he declared war on America in December
1941, in fulfillment of his military pact with Japan. Thus anyone who
held talks with Hitler prior to December 1941 was not “giving comfort
to an enemy of the United States.” Yes, I know Bunch is trying to turn
Bush’s own words against him, to say, “you call Obama an appeaser, but
you are committing treason yourself!” But “appeasement,” though it
might be foolish or ineffectual in particular circumstances, is not
treason. Nor did Bush claim it was. And for God’s sake, criticizing a
political opponent – even in the hallowed precincts of a foreign
legislature – is not treason in any sense, not even metaphorically.

And speaking of historical
ignorance, should we now take up the vast field of crime, folly, and
“political destruction and survival at all costs” that has historically
characterized the “dignity of the office” of president, which Bush has
supposedly lowered? No; life is too short. Let’s leave that fascinating
topic aside for now and move on.


As we said, at the core of the
mindset represented by Bunch’s post is a fierce partisanship disguised
as idealism. To test this, let’s perform a brief thought experiment.
Imagine that Barack Obama, not George Bush, is president of the United
States. Imagine that President Obama went to Israel and spoke to the
Knesset on the 60th anniversary of the nation’s founding. Imagine that
upon that solemn occasion, President Obama spoke on this wise:

“Some seem to believe that
violence, or the ever-present threat of violence, should always be at
the forefront of our dealings with those nations with whom we have
serious disagreements — as if pointing a gun at someone’s head is the
best way to win hearts and minds,” said Obama, in what White House
aides privately acknowledged was a reference to calls by presidential
candidate John McCain and other Republicans for military action against

“But I believe we should follow the
insights of that great statesman and military leader, Winston
Churchill, who said: ‘Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.’ We have
an obligation to pursue every possible avenue for peaceful resolution –
and pursue them in good faith, with genuine commitment and unstinting
effort – before we ever consider drawing the terrible sword of war.
History teaches us the monstrous consequences of making violence a key
instrument of national policy. We need only look at the unspeakable
evils unleashed by Nazi Germany, or the agony today in Iraq, to see the
cruel folly of opposing Churchill’s abiding wisdom on this point.”

What would Will Bunch and the
progressosphere have said to such a speech? Would they have condemned
Obama for “political treason,” for lowering the dignity of his office
by launching a “cheap” partisan dig at a domestic political opponent during a speech abroad?
Would they shuddered with revulsion at his invocation of Nazi Germany
for political purposes – in the Israeli parliament, of all places?

No, of course not. They would have
praised his bold stance against the warmongers back home – and the
warmongers in Israel. They would have hailed his subtle dig at McCain:
“another brilliant example of the artful blending of political
pragmatism and genuine idealism that has been a hallmark of Obama’s
presidency.” They would have applauded his reference to World War II:
“I doubt if a single member of the Knesset was left unmoved when Obama
evoked the ‘unspeakable evils’ of Nazi Germany. I know there were tears
in my eyes as I watched that portion of the speech on YouTube. That’s
precisely the kind of deep, learned historical perspective – tempered
always with the human touch, the empathy toward others – that has made
this president so unique.” In short, they would have lauded such a speech, if the content and speaker had been different. It is certainly not the non-existent principle of non-partisan presidential decorum in foreign appearances that has so vexed them in this case.

Every time a president speaks on
foreign soil – every single time, in every administration – there is a
domestic political angle somewhere in the mix. Every time a president
goes abroad and praises his own policies or viewpoints, he is attacking
his domestic critics, either directly or by implication. There is
nothing unusual or heinous about the practice; it is inevitable, and
unavoidable, if a president says anything more than “Happy to be here”
on a foreign visit. Even in the most idealized world of ever-dignified
presidents representing a unified people who always put aside their
sharp elbows and come together in the end, Bush’s flaccid rhetoric at
the Knesset would not represent a scandal or outrage of any kind.


But the progressive hissy fit over
Bush’s speech has provided a massive distraction from the real scandal
of his appearance before the Knesset, and his reference to Nazi
Germany: the fact that this mass-murdering wager of aggressive war
would not have been standing before the Knesset at all – if not for his
own family’s extensive, and profitable, role in the rise of the Nazi
war machine
. A role which continued not only after “Nazi tanks crossed
into Poland” (where Bush family investments helped finance the
concentration camp at Auschwitz) but even after Nazi forces were
killing American troops in North Africa.

As Toby Rogers noted in his
landmark 2002 piece for Clamor magazine
, “Heir to the Holocaust,” which
pulled together the vast amount of documentary evidence of the
Bush-Walker clan’s intimate and instrumental connection to the Nazis:

According to classified documents
from Dutch intelligence and US government archives, President George W.
Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush made considerable profits off
Auschwitz slave labor. In fact, President Bush himself is an heir to
these profits from the holocaust which were placed in a blind trust in
1980 by his father, former president George Herbert Walker Bush.

Throughout the Bush family’s
decades of public life, the American press has gone out of its way to
overlook one historical fact – that through Union Banking Corporation
(UBC), Prescott Bush, and his father-in-law, George Herbert Walker,
along with [their business partner] German industrialist Fritz Thyssen,
financed Adolf Hitler before and during World War II.

Rogers’ article – and other pieces
such as the stories published in 2003 by John Buchanan in the New
Hampshire Gazette — provide the devastating details of this sorry
history, including the seizure of some of the Bush family’s Nazi assets
under the Trading With the Enemy Act in 1942 – and their subsequent
pulling of elitist strings to keep these genuinely treasonous dealings
out of the public eye….and even profit from them after the war, when
the family and its partners were allowed to liquidate their share of
the seized foreign assets:

Prescott Bush received $1.5 million
for his share in UBC. That money enabled Bush to help his son, George
Herbert Walker Bush, to set up his first royalty firm, Overby
Development Company, that same year. It was also helpful when Prescott
Bush left the business world to enter the public arena in 1952 with a
successful senatorial campaign in Connecticut. On October 8th, 1972,
Prescott Bush died of cancer and his will was enacted soon after.

In 1980, when George H.W. Bush was
elected vice president, he placed his father’s family inherence in a
blind trust. The trust was managed by his old friend and quail hunting
partner, William “Stamps” Farish III. Bush’s choice of Farish to manage
the family wealth is quite revealing in that it demonstrates that the
former president might know exactly where some of his inheritance
originated. Farish’s grandfather, William Farish Jr., on March 25th,
1942, pleaded “no contest” to conspiring with Nazi Germany while
president of Standard Oil in New Jersey. He was described by Senator
Harry Truman in public of approaching “treason” for profiting off the
Nazi war machine. Standard Oil, invested millions in IG Farben, who
opened a gasoline factory within Auschwitz in 1940.

Farish had signed a deal with the
Nazis on secret patents for synthesizing rubber. Hitler couldn’t have
gone to war without it. Even after America entered the war, Farish
stood by his Nazi partners and refused to share these precious trade
secrets with the U.S. government, despite the American military’s dire
need for rubber.

None of this means that Bush’s
grandfather was a Nazi. This is simply the way the American elite have
always functioned
. Ideology, morality, patriotism, law – all must give
way to the relentless and ruthless pursuit of wealth, and the power and
privilege and dominance wealth brings. Prescott Bush traded with the
, even when they were killing Americans, because there was money
in it. For the same reason, his son, Prescott Jr., has long been a
leading figure in trading with the repressive communist regime in
China (as have Dubya’s brother Neil — and Don Rumsfeld too, for that matter.). For the same reason, Prescott Senior’s other son, George Herbert Walker Bush,
and his son, George Walker Bush, have long had extensive and intimate
business ties with the violent religious extremists in Saudi Arabia,
and with a number of other tyrants throughout the Middle East and
around the world.

It seems astonishing that in a
media culture in which the slightest youthful peccadillo and most
remote family history of a presidential candidate or office-holder are
exhumed and examined in microscopic detail, the Bush family’s
documented and indisputable involvement in the rise of Hitler and his
machine of aggressive war has never come to the attention of the
general public. But because such truths expose the reality of the
elites who control the commanding heights of American society – and
give the bitter lie to bubbly effusions of American exceptionalism, to
pious, comforting fantasies about unifying leaders of us all carrying
out their awesome and solemn responsibilities with unshakeable dignity
– they remain forever outside the purview of “serious” discourse.
Anything that genuinely challenges the prevailing pieties that mask the
murderous operations of empire and oligarchy must be ignored, or
mocked, scorned and marginalized (as we have seen in the controversy
over Obama’s pastor,
Jeremiah Wright). If in those very rare instances
when the challenge is too powerful to be ignored or trivialized, then
it must be physically destroyed, as in the case of Martin Luther King
Jr. — or even George Wallace, who presented a dangerous challenge to
elite rule from the right (threatening the race-based “Southern
strategy” of the Nixon campaign) and was eliminated from the national
scene by the assassination attempt in 1972 which left him crippled.

The only scandal attendant on
Bush’s speech last week was the fact that this unrepentant beneficiary
of Nazi blood money – who has himself aped the Nazis in his own
policies of aggressive war, state terror and lawless authoritarianism
— was allowed to stand before a foreign legislature and prate about
freedom and liberty and “fighting evil.” And this is just part of a
larger scandal: that he has been allowed to walk free among decent
people without facing the slightest threat of justice for his crime,
enjoying what is perhaps the chief privilege of his class – the
immunity from all consequences of his malevolent actions.

But to the progressosphere, Bush’s
little indirect dig at Obama was far more scandalous than any of this;
indeed, it was a “new low” in our national life. Of such
tunnel-visioned self-delusion is our “progressive movement” made.
Afraid to speak the truth, or unable to see it when it is in front of
their eyes: no wonder the “progressives” have been unable to stop the
Regime’s monstrous crimes, or rally public support for impeachment, or
turn the tide of national policy away from empire, dominion and
injustice – a destructive tide that Obama, Clinton and McCain are happy
to keep riding to their own positions of power, wealth and privilege.

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