Evil Is Real: George Bush Is Making Millions Off His Ungodly Crimes
Army 1st Lt. Nicholas John Vogt, who lost his legs in a 2011 explosion in Afghanistan. On the front, Jerral Hancock with his son. All photos by David Jay.
The empire staggers on. Obama sends more senseless troops to Iraq, revisionist history proclaims the "courage" of the authors of its tragedy, and George W, accomplishing at least his declared mission of “replenishing the ol’ coffers,” is raking in millions with equally senseless $175,000 speeches a pop to audiences who evidently, inexplicably, dispiritingly seem to think he has something to say. Eagerly embracing the profits of what has been deemed "the post-presidential industrial complex," Bush had given at least 140 talks by 2011, when they became harder to track, for fees ranging from $100,000 to upwards of $175,000, reports Politico. These days, the details of his appearances are carefully shielded behind confidentiality agreements and bans on recordings; they're also commonly held in private venues like resorts, casinos, ballrooms and convention centers. When he spoke at a fundraiser for a homeless shelter in McKinney, Texas - McKinney again! - he charged a modest $100,000, and was reportedly "very popular and charming and pleasant.”
Despite the tight controls, some details have leaked out. Bush has talked to chambers of commerce, multinational energy companies, global wealth management firms, the National Grocers Association and National Association of Chain Drug Stores, a “Let Freedom Ring” July 4 rodeo celebration in Oklahoma and a “GET MOTIVATED!” seminar in a San Antonio basketball arena, and the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, where he said, “Bowling is fun.” He told the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs the three best things his father gave him were “being raised in West Texas, no money and unconditional love,” Politico reports, "and then got back into a motorcade of a couple SUVs and cop cars and flew home on a private plane." Laura Bush gave a speech in Orlando the same day; she told the annual conference of the Society for Human Resource Management, “There’s nothing more fulfilling than real work.”
Among his more relevant remarks, Bush said to the Advertising Specialty Institute in Dallas, “History will ultimately judge whether I made the right decisions or not.” For once, many of us believe this is true. So does David Jay. A former longtime fashion photographer, he was wrestling with the realities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2013 when he visited D.C.'s Walter Reed military hospital and saw things he had never seen. The result is "Unknown Soldier," a series of five-foot, black and white portraits of severely wounded veterans. The images are now on display in Washington; they will also become a traveling exhibit, and have been purchased by the Library of Congress. Those veterans' lifelong wounds, Jay believes, are all of ours. "You can imagine how many times each of these men and women have heard a parent tell their child, 'Don't look. Don't stare at him. That's rude'," he said in an interview. "I take these pictures so that we can look - we can see what we're not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we created them."
In this one vital regard, Jay shows more awareness of and takes more responsibility for the atrocities of our wars than George Bush, who perpetrated them. The Politico story notes that Bush mostly keeps his appearances in this country, often in Texas and Vegas. That could be because Bush has a small, provincial world view, or it could be he recognizes the discomfiting reality that he could face war crimes charges in other countries. Of his speeches we know about, the most staggeringly, infuriatingly clueless was at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. It was ostensibly about ISIS. "Evil is real," said Bush, straight-faced. "Murdering innocent people to move a political point of view has been, is, and always will be evil."
Tomas Young, 1979 to 2014