View From Lodi, CA Pittsburgh, PA: Bush Leaves San Joaquin Valley, And U.S., Devastated

Even George W. Bush realizes that
no one is sorry to see him go.

In a recent interview, Bush said:
“This isn`t one of the presidencies where you ride off
into the sunset, you know, kind of waving goodbye."

[Bush
Legacy Truly Hard to Stomach,
by Ellen Goodman,
Washington Post, December 27, 2008]

Bush underestimates how poorly his
record will reflect on him. In an informal survey of
historians, 61 percent ranked Bush dead last among all
American presidents, finally getting

James Buchanan
off the hook.

In a

column
a couple of years ago, I forgave my friends
for their 2000 Bush vote. 
But, since Bush repeatedly displayed just how
over his head he was during his first four years, I
didn`t extend my generosity to them for their continued
2004 support.

Transparent as Bush was, enough
Americans voted for him a second time thus enabling him
to finish the country off. A large bloc simply could not
vote for the

Democrat John Kerry
—in retrospect a high price to
have paid for party loyalty.

I`ve had several conversations in
recent weeks with devoted Bushies. The strongest
argument any of them can make is that, as they put it,
“At least we haven`t been attacked again.”

But my question is if Bush is so
dedicated to national security, why is

our border with Mexico still wide open?
And why do
sworn border defenders, agents

Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean
, remain in jail even
as Bush has started his rounds of

presidential pardons?

Bush`s legacy, which he is so
concerned about, will include two colossal failures: the

Iraq War
and the

financial crisis
precipitated by the

mortgage meltdown
.

Many Americans who do not have friends
or relatives who are among
the 4,200 killed
in Iraq are spared from the direct pain the war
inflicted. Yet, we deeply mourn their losses.

Still, although no one would trade the
loss of a loved one for a

home mortgage
, the housing disaster has devastated
thousands more Americans—tens of thousands of them who
live in the Lodi/Stockton area.

The consequences of Bush`s
financial folly are enormous.

The crisis kicked into high gear when
Bush pushed the pedal to the metal with his 2002
announcement to increase minority homeownership by 5.5
million. Lending the money proved no problem.

Paying it back
is, as we have seen, a different
story.

After Bush`s proclamation, everything
soon changed. At first, home values shot up. But once
reality struck, prices in the

San Joaquin Valley
, now unanimously considered the
nation`s number one area most adversely impacted by
foreclosures, went into free fall.

Today, the Valley is a

housing wasteland
whose collapse is worldwide news
that reporters from as far away as Japan and Paris
cover. A “60 Minutes”

feature
highlighted the


“Home Repo Tour”
that offers prospective buyers
homes they can pick up for as much as 70 percent less
than their pre-crisis asking price.

For a comprehensive analysis of the
housing cave-in and

how it evolved
, interested parties with strong
stomachs should read the New York Times series,
The
Reckoning
.”
In its on-going report, sixteen
articles to date, the Times fingered the
predictable suspects—Citibank,

Merrill Lynch
and

Washington Mutual.
 

Other, less obvious culprits named by
the Times are:  

  • Former
    HUD
    Secretary

    Henry Cisneros
    and now a multimillion-dollar
    real estate developer who, according to the
    Times,
    “…encouraged the unprepared to buy homes…”

    Cisneros duped many

    Hispanics
    who because of their shared
    ethnicities were easy targets for him.

     
  • An unrepentant

    Phil Gramm
    , former

    U.S. Senator from Texas
    and champion of banking
    deregulation who from 1999-2001 relentlessly pushed
    for laws that he says unshackled businesses from
    needless restraints but ultimately lead to their
    economic collapse.
     
  • The credit watchdog agencies,

    Moody`s, Standard and Poor`s and Fitch Ratings,

    gave glowing recommendations to substandard real
    estate lenders like Countrywide Financial,
    overlooking in their reviews the inherent risks.
    From the fees it extracted, Moody`s enjoyed profit
    margins that were higher than the richest Fortune
    500 companies, including Exxon and Microsoft.

The total Bush devastation won`t be
known until long after he`s gone.

In a so far futile effort to make
it appear like something positive is being done to
restore the economy, the federal government has
distributed willy-nilly billions of dollars in bailouts.

Banks have been nationalized; the auto
industry may not survive. Consumer confidence, and the
purchasing power it generates, is in the tank. The
damage list is longer but decidedly not Happy
New Year
in its tone so I`ll forego it.

In 2009, Americans are left to
hunker down and hope that president-elect Barack Obama
can deliver on at least a small percentage of his
campaign promises.

Frankly, after Bush, I`d settle for
a one in 10 success ratio.



Joe Guzzardi


[email
him]


is a California native who recently fled the state
because of over-immigration, over-population and a
rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to
Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth
rate stable.

A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School,
Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It
currently appears in the



Lodi News-Sentinel
.