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Bush's Conservative Socialism

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board writes that even before the financial crisis, Americans were being "confronted with profound policy choices about how and when to extricate this nation from a war it initiated, how to temper a looming recession, and whether to continue Bush administration policies that had widened the gap between rich and poor, eroded individual liberties, strengthened presidential power, shifted the Supreme Court to the right, weakened relations with our allies, and delayed action necessary to slow the warming of the planet."

Bush Punts on Gitmo

Demetri Sevastopulo writes in the Financial Times: "George W. Bush will leave a decision on whether to shut the Guantánamo Bay prison camp to his successor by not pressing Congress for legislation to help close it - even though the Pentagon drafted options to do so, former and current officials have said.

"In 2006, the president said he wanted to close Guantánamo but when Robert Gates, his defence secretary, this year produced options to close it, they were rejected by the White House. . . .

"Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, and Mr Gates could not overcome opposition from the justice department, which baulked at the idea of moving prisoners from Guantánamo to the US, which in the short-term was the only solution."

Lyle Denniston reports on Scotusblog: "The Justice Department, in a new plea Thursday for the courts to keep 17 Guantanamo Bay prisoners out of the country, said that those detainees pose a risk 'distinct to this Nation'" by virtue of "the fact that the U.S. is the country that has been holding them captive for six years."

In other words, blogs Marty Lederman, the government is saying: "These detainees would not be a threat to U.S. persons -- except that the Pentagon has unlawfully detained them at Guantanamo, incommunicado and without any justification, for more than half a decade . . . and so they naturally would be inclined to harm Americans in retaliation for such unjust treatment."

Movie Watch

Oliver Stone's new Bush movie, "W," sure is inspiring critics to ask a lot of questions.

Moira Macdonald writes in the Seattle Times: "Does anyone not yet know what they think of George W. Bush? Any holdouts still trying to decide whether our 43rd president, he of the historically low approval ratings, has been a disgrace or a paragon? Those who haven't paid attention to the masses of ink devoted to Bush's policies and personality may find some surprises in 'W.,' Oliver Stone's episodic drama about the still-sitting president. For the rest of us, we've heard it all before: the bad-boy past involving excessive drinking, the marriage to a shy librarian, the religious conversion, the domineering vice president, the hastily entered war, the weapons of mass destruction that were never there."

Steven Rea writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Apart from the respective families and friends of cast members, it's difficult to imagine anyone who'll want to run out to catch W. Is there a man or woman left in America that needs to revisit the mistakes and miscalculations behind Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 'Mission Accomplished' aircraft carrier speech, the myth of Saddam's WMDs?"

Ty Burr writes in the Boston Globe: "'W.,' the first biopic ever made about a sitting US president, is either two years too late or 15 too early. George W. Bush hardly seems to matter anymore; attention has shifted to the two men who are vying to clean up the mess his administration has left behind. As it should. Who needs more Dubya taunting when there's work to be done?"

Ann Hornaday writes in The Washington Post: "Why this movie -- a rushed, wildly uneven, tonally jumbled caricature -- and why now? Why, when Americans and citizens around the globe are still coming to terms with the implications of so many Bush policies, would they want to pay money at the box office to see what amounts to an extended 'Saturday Night Live' skit?

"Why, when so many people are familiar with the vignettes that drive the episodic narrative of 'W.' -- the Time Bush Choked on a Pretzel, the Time Bush Quit Drinking After a Brutal Hangover, the Time Bush Invaded Iraq -- would they want to see it all reenacted again, albeit through Stone's occasionally stingingly satirical lens? . . .

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