Thursday, July 17, 2008


With six months left in office, the prez is inflicting as much damage as possible, heating up a new front for his war on (of?) terrorism in Iraq, while snuggling up to fellow antihumanists in the Chinese government, whom, he recently stated, he worries about offending if he took concerns over Tibet's sovereignty and China's myriad human-rights abuses so far as not to attend this summer's Olympics festivities. (Note: China is largely banking our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, increasing U.S. debt by billions.)

He's also pushing for off-shore drilling, probably less to lower gas prices for consumers (which it probably won't) than to deepen the pockets of his business interests in the oil industry. This from the candidate who wanted in 2000 to be remembered as the "Environmental President," an ambition all the more preposterous when you remember he was running against Al Gore at the time.

Now he's pushing the Dept of Health and Human Services to adopt and enforce new rules limiting federal funding for organizations (including counseling and other social services programs) who don't hire people who will refuse to pass on birth-control information because of their religious convictions. Perhaps he envisions a future when Planned Parenthood will be unable to ensure that parents seeking help will get any sort of "plan" at all.

The new rule also redefines oral contraception and other birth control techniques as abortion, thus radically redefining the word "abortion." (See Robert Pear, "Abortion Proposal Sets Condition on Aid," NY TIMES 07/15/08.)

You will also note that Bush the linguist has also struggled to limit the definition of the word "torture" to exclude water-boarding and other interrogation techniques traditionally viewed as torture. (On the other hand, he supports efforts to limit the word "marriage" to retain its traditional exclusion of same-sex couples.)

His No Child Left Behind initiative, along with his support of school vouchers, has crippled America's public school system. For the present administration, "education" now means teaching to standardized, multiple-choice tests, instead of challenging students to understand the world more clearly and to think for themselves.

(Right now I have no patience with supporters of vouchers benefiting parents who wish to send their children to private schools. If folks want to send their kids to private schools, fine, but public schools are "public" because the public [you, me, all of us] supposedly supports them. As a single man with no children, I get no tax considerations for keeping children out of the public school system either. Paying taxes is part of my responsibility as an American citizen these days; more importantly it's a contribution to the public good, even when my money goes to people and causes that have no personal interest to me individually.)

The innovative vocabulary of the present administration is an affront to logic and reason. Bush's scrambling of syntax has struck many as funny, embarrassing, or cute. But it is more disturbingly a direct attack on our abilities to communicate with each other with any definite meaning or understanding. Further, it's an attack on logic itself.

As Orwell warned in "Politics and the English Language," "A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts."

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