The State of the Union: Liar in Chief
Resolute Leader II 2004 oil on canvas 62" x 42" Tom Block
If you were unable to stomach watching President George W. Bush give his second-to-last State of the Union speech last night (Goddess protect us for two more years) then I certainly won't make you suffer through the entire, tired exercise here. But I will quote some of the more glaring misstatements (aka lies) immediately rebutted by Senator-elect Jim Webb - VA, who gave the official Democratic response. The especially appropriate images are by artist Tom Block (artist statement included below.)
BUSH: A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy — and that is what we have. We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth — in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs … so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move....SourceFact: In just the first ten days of the new Democratic-controlled Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an increase in the national minimum wage. It was the first time in a decade. Source
WEBB: When one looks at the health of our economy, it's almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it's nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.
Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them. Source
Man of God (Voting Block) 2004 oil on canvas 62" x 42"
BUSH: Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Source
WEBB: The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed. Source
Spokesman (War is Peace) 2004 oil on canvas 62" x 42"
BUSH:The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. But whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent, they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans … kill democracy in the Middle East … and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale. Source
WEBB: With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years. Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world. Source
Undersecretary of Absolution 2004 oil on canvas 62" x 42"
BUSH: My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success. Many in this Chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq — because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.
If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. Source
WEBB: The war's costs to our nation have been staggering.
The damage to our reputation around the world.
The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism.
And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.
The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.
Reformer 2004 oil on canvas 62" x 42" Tom Block
How many times did Bush mention the word Iraq, Iran or terror/ist in the 2007 SOTUS? You can use THIS handy, interactive chart to see for yourself. You can even type in other words and find out how he spun them in all his SOTU speeches.
Unindicted Senator 2004 oil on canvas 62" x 42" Tom Block
ARTIST STATEMENT: Tom Block
Felix Varela said: "All good people fear political parties," and the enclosed work, entitled "Response to Machiavelli," explores why. Our political system is peopled by the least spiritually realized among us, those that desperately need a sense of personal power to feel as if their lives have meaning. Unfortunately, the truly moral people in our society have no such needs - and the public forum is left to become a Machiavellian scrum among the morally bereft, the vast majority of whom put their own need for self-worth above the public good.
Machiavelli proposed in his book, The Prince, that the "ends justify the means;" this series of paintings explores that premise, examining specific "energies" that rule in our public sphere, regardless of the particular name of the politician or their party attachment.
The paintings themselves are portraits of these energies, detailing such aspects of Power as the complete lack of a central "Truth" or "Principle" to public statements ("Spokesman: War is Peace"); the oxymoronic language and behavior of those who continually abuse our public trust ("Oxymoron" and "Reformer"); the absurdity of pretending to have religious or moral "principles" while caring not a whit about anything but personal power ("Resolute Leader I & II") and other issues pertaining to the lust for power.
Ultimately, the paintings offer a poignant recitation for a populace that is strangled by the pretensions and emotional immaturity of its leadership. The subtext of this study, which details a political system that is, at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, truly Machiavellian, is to call to the citizenry to judge our leaders by their actions, ignoring their words, and take back the public sphere from those least spiritually qualified to "lead" us. - Tom Block
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