The Bush Dynasty
January 12, 2004 12:51 PM   Subscribe

The Bush family's history in the Middle East. "Between now and the November election, it's crucial that Americans come to understand how four generations of the current president's family have embroiled the United States in the Middle East through CIA connections, arms shipments, rogue banks, inherited war policies and personal financial links." So writes former Republican analyst Kevin Phillips, author of the new book American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush.
posted by homunculus (24 comments total)
But... but... but the people don't want to know the truth!
posted by five fresh fish at 12:54 PM on January 12, 2004

Phillips' previous book, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, was discussed here.
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on January 12, 2004

boom. phillips drops a much bigger bomb than o'neill ... and deserves more press - main street conservatives should take a listen to one of their own.
posted by specialk420 at 2:19 PM on January 12, 2004

Anyone want to take bets on how long till the White House starts an investigation of Phillips?
posted by scody at 3:15 PM on January 12, 2004

Checkout Safire's column in the NYT today. Then look in the mirror and realize you're a conspiracy wacko.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:20 PM on January 12, 2004

The article has little to do with the efficacy of the Iraq War, as Safire's column does. It simply has to do with conflicts of interest and the fascinating history behind an American Dynasty. It really is interesting and has nothing to do with conspiracy theories. It's about international business, the CIA, the BCCI, and the oil trade, all very real things which have but a few individuals who connect them all together.
posted by cell divide at 3:36 PM on January 12, 2004

Then look in the mirror and realize you're a conspiracy wacko.

There speaks the voice of experience.
posted by y2karl at 3:39 PM on January 12, 2004

One of the things that struck me about this article is its focus on verifiable facts.

Nobody wants to dispute that Dubya's daddy is a former CIA director, do they?
posted by ilsa at 4:40 PM on January 12, 2004

Could you explain to me, y2karl, how you can feel upset when others attack you but feel absolutely no shame attacking others unprovoked?
posted by BlueTrain at 4:59 PM on January 12, 2004

Bush Iran Conta Role

Then look in the mirror and realize you're a conspiracy wacko.

That's right. Why, all rational beings know name-calling equals refutation.

Could you explain to me, y2karl, how you can feel upset when others attack you but feel absolutely no shame attacking others unprovoked?

That's right. Why, all rational beings know that labeling others "conspiracy wackos" isn't provocative, and consitutes intelligent discourse.

Could you explain to us, BlueTrain, how you can feel upset about y2karl's remark and not about ParisParamus' typical initiating horseshit?

Ya ain't doin' that "hypocrisy never fails to amuse" thingie just for me, now is ya?

posted by fold_and_mutilate at 5:17 PM on January 12, 2004

(not true, karl can dish it out and take it)
My favorite Bush story involves Imelda Marcos and George Bush (then VP) at a cocktail party. Imelda told George that Khadafy tried to make a pass at her. Bush passed this on to Casey who then wanted to 'de-brief' Imelda.

and he did.
when the 64,000$ question came up (did you sleep with him) she replied:
"what a question to ask a girl"

of course the story of the debriefing was broke by the 'London Spectator'
posted by clavdivs at 5:47 PM on January 12, 2004

Could you explain to us, BlueTrain, how you can feel upset about y2karl's remark and not about ParisParamus' typical initiating horseshit?

Great question. Because Paris is obviously trolling, while y2karl has a habit of actually thinking about his responses and including links. My thought process was to speak the person most likely to change their behavior for the betterment of this community.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2004

If you really care about the community--as if: talk about spare me your hypocrisy--start a MetaTalk thread.
posted by y2karl at 8:09 PM on January 12, 2004

BlueTrain - So then ParisParamus gets habituated to his free ride, while y2Karl gets called to account for to responding to a provocation? I've read rational arguments aplenty coming from Paris - so I'm convinced he has free will in the matter. Why not save your free subway passes for the truly needy?

I agree that Kevin Phillips' story should be bigger than O' Neil's, but Phillips is merely singing the same tune he has sung of late.

True or not, his song is not considered as "newsworthy" as O' Neil's .
posted by troutfishing at 8:20 PM on January 12, 2004

im with bluetrain-- dont feed the trolls, in many ways feeding them is worse than being one. y2karl and bluetrain are both cool with me.
posted by chaz at 10:45 PM on January 12, 2004

White House Fires Back at O'Neill on Iraq

Suskind's book describes a pivotal White House meeting on Nov. 26, 2002, at which Bush's 2003 tax-cut package was determined. When O'Neill warned that the cuts and growing deficits could jeopardize Bush's plans for private Social Security accounts, Bush reportedly said: "What is your point about Social Security private accounts?"

At the same meeting, policy adviser Joshua B. Bolten warned that fully eliminating the dividend tax "burns a big hole in the budget," but Rove prevailed.

"You should be basing the package on principle," Rove is reported as telling Bush. "If double taxation of dividends is wrong, why do we want to settle for just eliminating 50 percent of the tax for individuals?"

Bush, at the meeting, reportedly paid attention to the politics of the tax proposal, saying it is important that "we don't slam the door in the third quarter of 2004." But his question to aides about the poor -- "What are we doing on compassion?" -- was met with silence. The account of the economic meeting portrays Bush as set on Hussein's removal, four months before he officially reached that decision. "Until we get rid of Saddam Hussein, we won't get rid of uncertainty," Bush reportedly told his aides, who went quiet.

This is scary stuff.

BTW, from TPM:

Number of days between Novak column outing Valerie Plame and announcement of investigation: 74 days.

Number of days between O'Neill 60 Minutes interview and announcement of investigation: 1 day.

Having the administration reveal itself as a gaggle of hypocritcal goons ... priceless.

posted by y2karl at 12:07 AM on January 13, 2004

Here's a Buzzflash interview with Phillips.
posted by homunculus at 12:19 AM on January 13, 2004

"...this is not a family that has a particularly strong commitment to American democracy. Its sense of how to win elections comes out of a CIA manual, not out of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution." -- Kevin Phillips

Phillips doesn't use the "F" word (fascism) but alludes to it quite strongly, and also to the royal dynastic comparison :

"Kevin Phillips: You've got the sort of arrogance of the family that's entitled to rule. And you've got the presumption of having been anointed by God to play this specific role. Now, you can find other rulers in world history that have had the arrogance, and family, and the sense of being anointed by heaven to do something, but you don't look for that in the United States. That's nothing we did.

BuzzFlash: Let's talk about the court advisors, if one is to carry the dynastic analogy through. Were you surprised that, after this so-called vice presidential selection process, George W. picks Cheney? He was his father's defense secretary during the first Iraq war, and also, as you point out, with Rumsfeld, the chief of staff and deputy chief of staff under President Ford during the mishandled Mayaguez incident and during the end of the Vietnam War. And when you add James Baker...." - "Kevin Phillips: This is a profoundly reactionary symptom. This is a dynasty bringing in all the old retainers and the people who represent various interest groups and geopolitical commitments. In the case of Cheney, you've not only got the lineage back to the first Gulf War and Vietnam, you've got somebody who, I think, in many ways, came to the mind of George Bush Sr. as somebody who would be an adult of skill who could play a role for the restored heir, so to speak. And in that sense, it's much like what Charles II had as one of his principal advisors the Earl of Clarendon, an advisor to his executed father 20 years earlier. This is something that makes a lot of sense when you think in dynastic terms. It doesn't make sense when you think in terms of American history."

posted by troutfishing at 10:26 AM on January 13, 2004

Here's Rolling Stone's interview with Phillips, and here's WaPo's review of the book.
posted by homunculus at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2004

Rolling Stone:

Can Bush be defeated?

History shows that restored dynasties eventually overdo it and tank themselves -- but it usually takes more than four years. The French Bourbons were restored in 1815 and got the heave-ho in 1830. The English Stuarts were restored in 1660 and ejected in 1688. The problem is, the other side gets dismasted by the restoration and can't mount an effective opposition.

What should Democrats do to beat Bush?

The economy is obviously still iffy, and Bush could sag hugely if Iraq turns into a civil war. But I also think the Republicans are as ideologically overextended today as the Democrats were in the 1960s. They're vulnerable on religion. John McCain actually ran against all of George W.'s games with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and Bob Jones University in 2000, and he didn't do badly. He didn't take a goddamn poll -- he just went out there and said all the stuff the Democrats don't have the guts to say.

I think half of the Democrats are afraid of their own shadow. That's why Howard Dean has been so successful. Even if he made mistakes, he had something to say, and he had the courage to say it. And that'll go a long way when you've got so many Establishment politicians who basically just look for whatever the received wisdom is and put a little maraschino cherry on it. If Dean and Al Gore can get the Democrats to face the Republicans' obvious weaknesses, maybe we'll see a real blueprint. But if it's emerging, it's still very quiet.

What would that blueprint look like?

You have to focus on the Bush family itself. They have made the presidency into an office infused with an almost hereditary dishonesty. There's so much lying and secrecy and corruption to it. Just look at the way Neil and Jeb and Marvin and George W. have earned their livings, with all these parasitic operations: profiting from their political connections, cashing in on favors from big corporations and other governments. It's a convergence of arrogance -- the sense that you don't have to pay attention to democratic values. It's happening again with Halliburton. They can't help but let their old cronies in there to make buckets of money off the war.

Their own arrogance provides a handle for their defeat. If the country does not come to grips with what Bush has done, then we may lose what we value about our republican and democratic government.


So Phillips's study is valuable less for what it says about the altered American political landscape (though much of what it says about that is astute) than for what it says about the Bushes themselves. Tracing the family lineage through four generations -- beginning with the president's great-grandfathers, George Herbert Walker and Samuel Prescott Bush, moving along to his grandfather, Prescott Bush, then to his father and himself -- Phillips paints a portrait that can only be deeply disturbing to anyone concerned about how power is now gained and maintained in this country.

Apart from the differences already mentioned between the Bushes and the Adamses, Roosevelts and Kennedys, one stands apart from and above all others: The Bushes have nothing to commend them to the public save rank ambition. Other than accumulating a certain amount of money and achieving a measure of what passes for aristocratic social position in this country, the Bushes have achieved nothing of distinction and appear to believe in nothing except their own interests. "Duty and public service do make cameo appearances in the Bush saga," Phillips writes, "fulfilling the stern instructions on those New England [prep] school walls. However, so do vanity, ambition and pretentiousness." What Phillips mainly detects in the family's history is "consistent ambition, rarely ameliorated by a particular cause or issues agenda, [that] is hard to reconcile with the New England school mottoes of duty, public service, and noblesse oblige."

I extract--you decide.
posted by y2karl at 11:36 AM on January 13, 2004

decide what...that you extract?
posted by clavdivs at 12:45 PM on January 13, 2004

See, you can write sentences.
posted by y2karl at 4:24 PM on January 13, 2004

Coincidentally, I've been reading a book called 1919: Red Mirage by David Mitchell and just came across the following passage. I hasten to add that it concerns the period immediately following WWI and has no conceivable relevance to the present. I copy it here purely for entertainment value. I am not a terrorist.
The desire of Rockefeller's Standard Oil to keep an eye on the Caucasian and Persian oil fields explained 'the humanitarian propaganda for a United States "mandate" under the League of Nations to care for the tormented people of Armenia.' Was it to be marvelled at that Minister of Transport Sir Eric Geddes (a large shareholder in the Kyshtim Mining Corporation), First Lord of the Admiralty Walter Long (a shareholder in the Anglo-Russian Trust) and Chancellor of the Exchequer Austen Chamberlain (a former director of the Russian & English Bank) should be 'in favour of burdening the British Treasury with advances to Tsarist generals, one of whom returned the Spassky mine to its exploiters as soon as he recovered it from the Soviets?'
posted by languagehat at 8:07 AM on January 14, 2004

For further entertainment value:

Unsanitary Acts: Former HSU student tells of unsafe food practices on U.S. military bases in Iraq

On July 17, 2003, Heather Yarbrough flew to Kuwait to start a new job: monitoring the quality and safety of food served to soldiers on U.S. military bases in Iraq. Her employer was the Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) Government Services division of Halliburton, the Texas-based oil company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney that has contracts with the U.S. government to support military personnel in the field and to help with Iraq reconstruction.

Yarbrough, 33, felt upbeat and excited. She had trained hard for a position like this, one that required expertise in food and science. She was banking on the high salary -- $1,500 a week -- to pay off her student loans. And unlike many of her fellow students at Humboldt State University, she supported the Bush Administration and its war on terrorism.

Yarbrough never dreamed she'd be fired a month later for what in her view was simply an effort to implement the Army's own safety and sanitation standards. Nor did she imagine that she'd be telling congressional staffers about potentially dangerous food being served to U.S. soldiers by ESS Support Services, a food-service subcontractor to Halliburton.

While Yarbrough did not see any soldiers fall sick from food served by ESS, she did witness something else that disturbed her: the labor system that feeds and supports U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. It's a system in which highly paid Americans oversee a huge corps of Indians, Pakistanis and other so-called "third-country nationals" working in sweatshop conditions for as little as $3 a day.

Yarbrough is not alone in pointing to problems in Halliburton's military contracts. Congressional watchdogs criticized excessive costs charged by Kellogg, Brown & Root (now a subsidiary of Halliburton) in the late 1990s at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.

Early in the Iraq war, the head of Army logistics complained that Halliburton and its subcontractors were deploying too slowly to forward areas, forcing soldiers to go longer than necessary without fresh food, showers and other amenities, according to the Houston Chronicle.

And last month a flurry of media coverage ensued after it was revealed that the Pentagon is investigating whether Halliburton and its subcontractors overcharged the United States as much as $61 million for fuel and inflated cost estimates by $67 million in a proposal for dining facility services.

You know, it's only those huge corporations like Halliburton that really have the experience of delivering substandard contaminated food to our troops in Iraq on a massive scale while ripping off the U.S. military, and ultimately, the taxpayers at home, on an equally massive scale.
posted by y2karl at 6:56 PM on January 14, 2004

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