President Bush is no Hitler.

I have a number of friends and relations that have supported George W. Bush in the past. It’s pretty hard to admit you’re wrong, and these folks still support him. So I’m going to write this out in one burst, for fear that I won’t have the balls to click “submit” if I bother to make this a coherent argument.

I feel that if we return George W. Bush to office, we’re a bad people. While what the Bush administration is doing is not as bad as what the Nazis did, folks who work to keep Bush in power are doing the same thing in their turn as those who supported the Nazis when they knew what they were doing was wrong. This includes folks who have given a record $200 million dollars directly to Bush’s re-election cause and the untold more to soft money. If you honestly and thoughtfully disagree with me, ok. But failing that, support for Bush’s re-election is equivalent to support for keeping Hitler in power.

There, I said it.

Fool me once: During the campaign for his current presidency, Bush’s most forceful and repeated advocacy for himself was that, with the moment of his being sworn in, he would restore the honor of the office of the presidency and of the United States in general. An appealing goal to many, but on its face it derives all goodness from his own perceived character and not from his uniquely individual actions. His charge was that President Clinton’s lies on personal matters did far graver damage than those of, say the elder President Bush when he lied to congress about negotiating with terrorists while a candidate or as Vice President. The younger candidate claimed no previous success in business or political affairs that were not attributable to his family. (A family that, we are now learning, derived great economic and political profit from its ability to work in secret with Hitler’s Germany.) He claimed no answers or leadership beyond his ability to choose good advisors. The closest he came to revealing his policy intensions were broad statements that he would not engage in nation building, that he would favor education above else, that he would work to stop government interference with the rights of individuals, and that he would be compassionate. I’m ok with that. He also trash-talked the most successful economy in history until he achieved his aim, which might have been a clue about how he would manage our economy. His most important decision during the campaign — his choice for VP — was not properly legal, but this technicality was waived by judges appointed by his father. OK, so maybe there were some clues here.

I’m grateful that he did not enjoy the support of a majority of Americans during the election. Not even a majority of those who cast votes. Let’s skip what many around the world, and not a few in America, think of as the coup by which he achieved power.

Anyway, people get the government they deserve.

Fool me twice: We don’t have to guess what Rumsfeld will do. He has told us that he would destroy anything he perceived as a threat, and he has made good on his word. He has never really told us of any specific plans for actually helping any formerly enemy people to become an in independent and stable ally. And he should know his enemies well: He was point man in directly raising Sadaam’s regime to it’s pre-war power.

We don’t have to guess what Ashcroft will do. He has already declared that anyone who stands in his way is un-American, that he is not bound by prior US or international law or judicial oversight, that only he and the President can decide who is under whose jurisdiction, and that his and Rumsfeld’s private armies are immune from both civil and military prosecution. The good people of Missouri that knew him preferred to elect a dead man, but Bush finds him a good choice.

We don’t have to guess what Poindexter will do. This fine choice to direct significant portions of national security was actually convicted of running a shadow government and sentence to jail. The conviction was overturned on a technicality involving a botched immunity deal. (I’m not sure what relationship the deciding judges or prosecutors had with Bush senior.)

We don’t have to guess what Republican staffers will do with the power afforded to them by such changes as the Patriot Act. Even without specific legislation, the majority staff of the Senate judiciary committee has already read private computer files of the minority staff and leaked those files pursuing political gain. Instead of denouncing this, the Republican party leadership declared its own definition of privacy and right and ridiculed the minority for failing to take further steps to protect it’s private data.

As the mess these guys create go to court, we don’t have to guess what Thomas will do; he’ll vote with Scalia. We don’t have to guess what Scalia will do. He has already declared many times that, despite what every social studies teacher has ever taught me, his court has no right to interpret the intentions of the other branches of government. Meanwhile, he claims to be the only one who can decide whether his personal relationship and activities with Bush’s people is a conflict of interest.

We don’t have to guess how how president Bush will keep candidate Bush’s promises, or how he will manage petty issues like fiscal responsibility or whether wackos with assault rifles constitute a well-regulated militia. But this goes beyond mere political disagreement.

Our actions in at home and abroad in the name of fighting terrorism are truly wrong. We don’t have to guess how our arrogance and violence will be perceived around the world. We already know we are regarded as the only first world country in which the state kills its citizens, invades other countries without cause, tortures the vanquished, ignores treaties it has signed, and dares anyone to question it. And we don’t have to guess what the reaction will be: hatred and violence. The US Olympic Committee has already cautioned our athletes to literally not wave our flag too vigorously, and everyone considers a successful meeting of world athletes to be one in which not too many will get murdered.

We don’t have to guess what our reaction will be to world opinion. I’ve already seen myself and my loved ones steel our own hatred and prejudices against the world. Fuck ’em, we say.

Enough. I don’t like the nation we are under this President Bush’s leadership. He and his supporters fan moral flames against anyone who disagrees with the way they tell us what to think, how to act, what to do with our bodies and our eyes, and who we may love. What do we have to wait for before Republicans of conscience admit George W. Bush is a bad guy, break with party loyalty, and do what’s right for the country? I have to believe that anyone with a moment to reflect will recognize this as wrong. And if we do for our country what we know is wrong, than we are not patriots. Reasoned people of both parties can work with each other to resolve issues, whichever party is in power. But Bush divides us into those with him and against him. I hope we will all be against him.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.


  1. Bush is no Hitler, but he may yet ignite the next world war. I agree with everything you say.

    As I think I wrote in an earlier entry here, I have three main online diaries

    — one here

    — one at

    — one at <a href=”“&gt; Hulver’s Site </a>

    My persona on this site is pretty tame. I’ve saved my more wild ravings for the other sites, and haven’t posted any rants here. I guess I was trying to foster the notion of wetmachine as a technoparanoia/technoskepticsim/I’m-not-ready-for-the-future

    site. My tagline has been, variously, ”fear the future“ or ”I fear these things.” I was trying to keep this site genteel. I wanted wetmachine to be interesting, but I wanted it genteel.

    But I’m glad you posted your rant here, Howard. Because I *am* afraid of the future, and the thing I most fear is Bush’s re-election. I’m nearly paralyzed with fear, day to day, that Bush will get re(s)elected.

    In my other diaries I’ve posted anti-Bush

    <a href=”… rants </a> more toxic than yours.

    I guess I’ve refrained from posting that kind of stuff here because I’m aware that even though it makes me feel better to get it off my chest (and it does do that), saying such things in public often has the paradoxical effect of convicing others that any feelings as intense as mine must be irrational, hence wrong.

    I think it’s time for me to stop worrying about such niceties and start writing here in the voice that’s most natural to me, about the things I truly care about.

    Thanks for breaking the ice.

  2. Sorry about the links. The blogging software that I use for this site, well, I won’t say it sucks, because it’s freeware so it would be ungracious of me to complain about it. Also it’s open source, so in theory if I don’t like the fact that the blogging software does not even allow you to post links, for the love of Mike, then I should just fix it. . .

    But that will be a topic for another day. Interested readers can find my diaries, if they care to, on sites Kuro5hin and HuSi. There are some vitriolic antibush screeds on K5.

  3. There was a brief time, back in the late ’90’s, that nerds, freaks and geeks were considered the hip new leaders of our society. (Or maybe I’m just an oblivious nerd!) Surely, Boy Scouts, safety patrol, MIT, DeMolay or B’nai B’rith and whatever other crap we were involved in were meant to prepare us for leadership.

    I feel that since then, the wise use of technology has become even more important, even as society at large has stopped listening and investing in us. It’s more important than ever that we be vigilant with others and with ourselves about trying to know right from wrong. And we must speak up.

    That said, in blogs as in any arena, we’d do well to be coherent. But sometimes you just gotta let go.

  4. I cannot agree that re-electing Bush makes us “bad” people, although I believe it would be a catastrophe for the country.

    Frankly, I find such moral condemnations unhelpful on either side. Yes, I am more than painfully aware of how the George Bush presidency has unfloded and how the next term would be even worse. But I consider the rank and file American voter. If you work 10 hours a day, try to take care of your kids, and get what information you can from the mass media (and you know my opinion of them), the responsibility of the administration for our current situation, and how bad our current situation is, is blurred.

    I am not surprised the majority of Americans feel detached from the political process and simply don’t vote at all.

    A, ultimately, we must live in a democracy and its result. I think it would be awful if Bush were reelected, without thinking people who vote for him are bad in and of themselves. And I would try to work with them if they were elected.

  5. >The good people of Missouri that knew him

    >preferred to elect a dead man, but

    >Bush finds him a good choice.

    Ashcroft is a very good argument that the Washington Sytems requires a publically elected cabinet rather than an appointed cabinet. Missouri deemed Ashcroft unfit for public office in a very humiliating manner. Yet he rose to one of the five powerful positions in the country through appointment.


  6. Harold, thank you for your comments. (And you, too, Cam.) I suspect we agree on a lot more than we disagree, and you have helped me sharpen some thoughts — a bit.

    You raise an interesting question, “What does it mean to be bad?” Is not being willing to work with someone a desiderata? My rant was more about feeling than about definition, and while I’m still not sure exactly what I meant, there are a couple of data points I do feel comfortable in accepting:

    1) Germany was bad in supporting Hitler.

    2) I would work with people from that period of Germany. In fact, my mother in law was born in Hitler’s Germany and her father served in the Wehrmacht. I love them both.

    So I can’t accept that there is necessarilly an incompatibility between a nation being bad and willingness to work with it’s people. (I understand that’s not quite what you were saying; I’m pushing it a little further.)

    In putting a moral label on a group of people, I may be doing something that I find distasteful in the Bush administration itself. I don’t know if I can justify it, but I feel as though it is appropriate and required in this case. I am (slightly) comforted by the equivocation that I am condemning a group who have taken a specific action (such as sending money, or more strongly, continue to send money), as opposed to condemning a group by association or thought.

    Finally, I do not accept that we can’t hold the rank and file voter responsible. (Again, I’m pushing your words a bit.) Maybe that’s my real point: that we are individually responsible for our own actions, and that in a democracy it is our responsibility to participate with action. We are now at a point, just as the world was with Hitler, in which it should be clear to all that Bush’s actions are wrong and that continuing to support him is not a responsible action.

  7. I’m gonna draw a silly analogy. If I draw on a check that wasn’t written to me and skip to Rio, my bank — and not the guy who signed the check or his bank — gets stuck with the bill. Why? Because shomebody’s gotta take the fall, shweetheart, and my bank is the only one of those three who had a chance to notice that I am not the guy whose name is on that check.

    In real life, it was probably sorted by a machine and the bank couldn’t have known whose name was on it. But my bank could have checked and nobody else could. If it wants to save money by using machines to sort, this is the risk it takes.

    Well, if I the voter rationally choose to give scoundrels the chance to mislead me because I have work to do, I live with the consequences of that.

    In a democracy, the buck stops here. Not because it’s reasonable, but because it’s fair. Don’t like it? Move to China.

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