The February 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Top 20 Meanest Cities in U.S.

Hate Crimes in Fort Lauderdale

Classism in the Stacks: Libraries and Poor People

Housing Authority's Kafka-Style Interrogation

Bay Area Transit: Separate and Unequal

Lawsuit on Behalf of East Bay Bus Riders

MLK Would Tell Congress to Value Workers

Art, Music for Homeless Kids

Mercy: A Story

The Birdman of Berkeley

Resisting Unjust Corporate Power

President Bush Speaks His Mind

Street Spirit Poetry


January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

The President Speaks

Poor Leonard's Almanack

by Leonard Roy Frank
Street Spirit February 2006

Painting by Jos Sances. Big Brother "War is Peace." A president right out of Orwell.

The following chronologically arranged quotations are drawn from President George W. Bush's published spoken words during the last five and a half years.

1. I don't know whether I'm going to win or not. I think I am. I do know I'm ready for the job. And, if not, that's just the way it goes.
Des Moines, 21 August 2000.

2. Charlie Rose: OK. What if you thought Saddam Hussein, using the absence of inspectors, was close to acquiring a nuclear weapon?
Bush: He'd pay a price.
Rose: What's the price?
Bush: The price is force, the full force and fury of a reaction.
Rose: Bombs away?
Bush: You can just figure that out after it happens.
Rose interview on PBS, August 2000.

3. This is an impressive crowd. The haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.
Al Smith Foundation speech, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City, 19 October 2000 (three weeks before election day).

4. I told all four that there were going to be some times where we don't agree with each other. But that's OK. If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.
Referring to several key appointments, news program, CNN, 18 December 2000. Bush was president-elect at the time.

5. Our nation is still somewhat sad, but we're angry. There's a certain level of blood lust, but we won't let it drive our reaction.... We're steady, clear-eyed and patient, but pretty soon we'll have to start displaying scalps.
Remark to Jordan's King Abdullah, 28 September 2001, quoted in Bob Woodward, Bush at War, 2002.

6. This is a new kind of -- a new kind of evil. And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.
After returning to the White House from Camp David, 16 September 2001, quoted in Ron Suskind, "Without a Doubt," New York Times Magazine, 17 October 2004. Bush was widely criticized for using the word "crusade" which people in the Middle East associate with the attempt by Western Europeans to conquer their lands during the Middle Ages.

7. Reporter: Do you want bin Laden dead?
Bush: I want him -- I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said "Wanted: Dead or Alive."
Impromptu news conference, Pentagon, 17 September 2001.

8. Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out.
Interrupting national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's meeting with several senators in the White House, quoted in Time, 31 March 2002.

9. Mr. Castro, once -- just once -- show that you're unafraid of a real election. Show the world you respect Cuban citizens enough to listen to their voices and to count their votes.
Speech at a Miami rally for his brother Florida governor Jeb Bush, May 2002. It was the fraudulent Florida vote count in 2000 that enabled Bush to become president.

10. America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish.
Speech, U.S. Military Academy, West Point (New York), 1 June 2002. The building of 14 permanent military bases in Iraq, started about a year later, and the existence of more than 700 other U.S. bases strategically located abroad suggest otherwise.

11. Bob Woodward: [Do you explain to your key advisers that you are testing, planning on being provocative?]
Bush: Of course not. I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation.
Format adapted, interview (20 August 2002) with Woodward, Bush at War, 2002.

12. Reporter: But, still, those countries who didn't support the Iraqi Freedom operation use the same argument, weapons of mass destruction haven't been found. So what argument will you use now to justify this war?
Bush: We've found the weapons of mass destruction. You know, we found biological laboratories. We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them.
Television interview, Poland, 29 May 2003 (two months after the invasion of Iraq).

13. Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. We are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.
Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the United States and more than 130 other countries since 1984, forbids governments from deliberately inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering on those within their custody or control. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit. Beating, burning, rape, and electric shock are some of the grisly tools such regimes use to terrorize their own citizens. These despicable crimes cannot be tolerated by a world committed to justice.
White House statement, 26 June 2003.

14. There are some who feel that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.
Remarks, White House, 2 July 2003. Bush made this comment as the insurgency in Iraq was moving into high gear.

15. I don't understand how poor people think.
Remark to Rev. Jim Wallis, quoted in New York Times, 26 August 2003.

16. No President has ever done more for human rights than I have.
Remark to Ken Auletta, "Fortress Bush," New Yorker, 19 January 2004.

17. You need a CIA that's gonna slit a guy's throat. Bring 'em to justice.
Referring to CIA director George Tenet who was under attack for faulty intelligence on Iraq, off-the-record pep talk at a retreat for House Republicans, Philadelphia, February 2004, quoted in "Washington Whispers," U.S. News & World Report, 16 February 2004. Tenet resigned from office three months later.

18. Let me make very clear the position of my government and our country. We do not condone torture. I have never ordered torture. I will never order torture. The values of this country are such that torture is not a part of our soul and our being.
Remarks to reporters, Washington, 22 June 2004. One year later, a human rights organization report contradicted the president's statement: "[There is] prima facie evidence that senior members of the U.S. Administration, including President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, have authorized human rights violations, including 'disappearances and torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.'" (Amnesty International, USA, Guantanamo and Beyond: The Continuing Pursuit of Unchecked Executive Power, May 2005).

19. This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous [pause], and having said that, all options are on the table.
News conference, Brussels, 22 February 2005.

20. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.
Ad-lib remark during a speech on Social Security, Greece (New York), 24 May 2005.

21. Reporter: Thank you, sir. Mr. President, recently, Amnesty International said you have established "a new gulag" of prisons around the world, beyond the reach of the law and decency. I'd like your reaction to that....
Bush: I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that is -- promotes freedom around the world.... In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report. It just is. And, you know -- yes, sir.
News conference, White House, Washington, 31 May 2005.

22. Again, I want to thank you all for -- and, Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job. The FEMA Director is working 24 -- [applause] -- they're working 24 hours a day.
Remarks, Mobile Regional Airport, Alabama, 2 September 2005 (four days after Katrina struck New Orleans). Michael D. Brown stepped down from his post as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency a few days later after being charged with mishandling the crisis.

23. We must always maintain the highest ethical standards. We must always ask ourselves not only what is legal, but what is right. There is no goal of government worth accomplishing if it cannot be accomplished with integrity.
Speech, Constitution Hall, Washington, 15 October 2005.

24. In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations....
This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the president of the United States.
GEORGE W. BUSH, explaining his decision, in 2002, to authorize wiretaps without court-ordered warrants (as required by law), radio address, 17 December 2005. The president had this to say on the same topic 20 months earlier: "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires - a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution" (speech, Buffalo, 20 April 2004).


Leonard Roy Frank is the editor of Random House Webster's Quotationary (20,000-plus quotes on 1,000-plus subjects). His "Frankly Quoted" column, distributed freely over the Internet every month, consists of 30-35 quotes and original thoughts, mostly about current events. To get on the "Frankly Quoted" listserve, send your e-mail address.

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