Tag Archives: Biography

Bush by Jean Edward Smith

In this era of supercharged presidential politics I’ve read a book about George W. Bush written by a presidential biographer who in an even tone really smacks Bush’s presidency hard. Smith gets into Bush’s decision making style as the cause of most of the difficulties. Bush called himself “The Decider.” His concept was that he would hear the various sides and then go off by himself and decide what to do and that was that. There was no revisiting a course nor was there any explanation of how he came to decide something.

The result was chaos. An Iraq invasion based on flimsy evidence was the main thing along with an unprecedented presidential endorsement of torture. Arrogance and recklessness are not the a good basis for sound policy.

Smith is much kinder about the later years of Bush’s presidency when his popularity was very low. He dealt with the financial crisis in a much different way and went ahead and did several things that ran counter to his conservative tendencies but proceeded anyway and probably saved the country for a much worse mess. When the auto industry was wobbling at the very end of his final term Bush decided to not leave it for the next president, Obama, to solve. Bush made several other controversial actions to save the industry.

Another side of Bush’s story was the lengths he went to make sure that his staff accommodate Obama and his incoming staff for a smooth transition. This time was a an era of great graciousness on the part of Bush. He and Obama have and their families have stayed great friends to this day.

I loved the book and I have to confess that I was not a fan of Bush especially when he okayed torture and when it came out that the there really was no evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

What does the book have to do with the situation today? I’ll repeat that arrogance and recklessness are not good ways to run a country.

Willie Nelson’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke When I Die – Musings From the Road

Willie Nelson - Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die

I just finished this slim volume and boy is it a gem of a book. Willie Nelson wrote this book about his life and his family and his philosophy of life. I first took notice of him when he came out in the 70’s with his Red Headed Stranger album (remember albums?) which I played over and over. Well that was over 40 years ago and you know Nelson is still making records and at 83 years of age has a very rigorous performance schedule.

Willie writing about himself is one thing but he includes little snippets from his friends, family, and fellow musicians writing about him. I thought that was great especially the vignette’s from his children from several different mothers. The other thing I really liked is the lyrics. He started out writing poetry when he was six years old and did that until he learned to play the guitar. His lyrics read like poems. One of the last songs he quotes is “Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth”

…We believe everything they tell us

They are going to kill us so we gotta kill them first

But I remember the commandment thou shalt not kill

How much is that soldier’s life worth

And what happened to peace on earth


So I am not sure that I would like to hold up Willie Nelson’s life as one everybody should emulate but he has some things to say that are worth reading.