Editor’s Note: For many of us who objected to George W. Bush’s illegitimate power grab in 2000 and challenged his raft of illegal actions as President, the last eight years have amounted to a long, hard struggle with the survival of the American Republic in the balance.

Though no one thinks that Barack Obama’s election alone will change everything, it does feel good to un-grit your teeth a bit and take a deep breath, as Vincent Guarisco observes in this guest essay:

I call it Christmas in January. Indeed. I'm sure most of us are feeling a little less stressful (a bit lighter) after January 20th? Pinch me hard and quick, I'm as giddy as little tyke unwrapping presents under a tree. I can hardly believe this two-term misery tour is finally over.

I congratulate our new President and Commander in Chief Barrack Obama and his monumental administration on their first week in office. Finally, our battered nerves can rest a little easier as we turn the page to what we hope are brighter days ahead. Indeed, I am exhaling a sigh of relief for a hopeful tomorrow in this new leadership.

For sure, the world will never forget George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Indeed, President Obama's Inauguration will be remembered by most of us as the day the earth stood still. For many, time virtually stopped the second the clock struck High Noon.

To others, it was a beautiful stillness as Barack placed his hand on Lincoln's Bible to recite the Oath of Office (even though Chief Justice John Roberts screwed it up).

For me, the whole inauguration process was almost Hollywood surreal. It seemed like a dreamy DC reality show that peaked as I watched the outgoing culprits shamefully board their helicopter and fly-off into the cold, bitter horizon.

Yes, I admit, just knowing they were gone -- really gone -- was an instant heartfelt relief that started to heal my soul. Whew, what a rush!

As their helicopter loomed above, a little thought crossed my mind -- if I only had a dollar for every middle finger that got extended upward as they left Capitol Hill, I could retire a rich and satisfied man.

However, be that as it may, I feel much lighter without that ton of bricks on my aching shoulders. It all miraculously lifted as they departed. January 20, 2009, is a day that will live in the memories of all of us.

I truly hope those burdensome bricks can quickly find mortar to rebuild the goodness we all deserve. We have seen politics at its absolute worst, and I believe the majority of Americans have learned a valuable lesson -- we must all stay astutely engaged in our political system that begs for progressive involvement to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
 
To simply say the Bush legacy will not soon be forgotten is a weak statement. The devastating consequences of the Bush administration's corruption will linger for a very long time, both at home and abroad.

In fact, the mere mention of the letter "W" will always make our hair rise on our collective heads and fill the universal mind with painful memories. It should. Because one does not easily forget the hard-earned lesson of being betrayed by leaders in whom people had placed their trust. 
 
There are hundreds of examples to remember W's eight-year tenure, but here's my top memorable 10.  I only hope historians and educators will record the last eight years accurately, so we do not repeat our mistakes.
 
1) The deepest, darkest recession plagued with financial crises only comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Indeed, our dwindling financial statements speak for themselves as we continue to get screwed over by the Fed, foreign bankers, the Treasury Department, etc.
 
2) We will never forget the horrible attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. I ask you this: Will we ever get the whole story of what really happened on that fateful day that changed our lives forever?

3) Two preemptive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with a third equally bogus "war on terror" -- all waged as an excuse to murder with impunity, to steal foreign oil and other natural resources. Yes, we destabilized the entire Middle East for this endeavor. I ask you this, do we feel safer yet?
 
4) Extraordinary rendition, torture, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. All of this illegal. All inhumane and useless. Thus, we gained nothing but hatred for what we did. Plus, it put our own combat troops at risk and it also dishonored our nation in one fell swoop.
 
5) NSA warrantless wiretapping, spying at home (U.S. soldiers and news reporters included), politics of fear, silencing of critics, and abuse of power so foul that it would shame a septic tank. See Keith Olbermann's two-part interview with Russell Tice, former analyst at the National Security Agency, for more on this important issue.
 
6) From Dick Cheney's secret energy task force with kickbacks aplenty, to endless no-bid contracts galore, this administration's scandals have continued unabated time and again without a hint of remorse or shame. In fact, they still continue to profit to this day.
 
7) Total disregard of science, stem-cell research and other medical breakthroughs not yet realized, but which might have been. Bottom line, our health was/is put at risk and many people continue to unnecessarily suffer and die. Sadly, most of this health-related suppression was done for political reasons.
 
8) A constitutional shred-fest using shark-like teeth. Indeed, quality of life, human rights, workers rights have all diminished, and consumer protections have not only been downsized; most have disappeared altogether. There is no longer even a semblance of a security net for children, the elderly or those most vulnerable among us.   
 
9) A willful environmental destruction of the planet, WMD used by us and sold to others.
 
10) And who could ever forget FEMA's fiasco after Hurricane Katrina? Yeah, Dubya filled the management position with an incompetent who put Americans at risk – and not just on the Gulf Coast. Once again, do we feel safe yet? Or perhaps I should ask, does your house, condo or apartment have floaters installed yet?
 
There are hundreds of Bush’s mistakes and misdeeds that continue to affect all of us. I'm sure many examples are fresh in your mind, too.

That is why, for now, I prefer to concentrate on the future. Yes, I look forward to watching President Obama work his magic with an optimistic wish and prayer for greatness. God knows, he certainly has his job cut out for him!

Following behind Bush is proving to be no easy task. Obama definitely inherited the biggest mess this nation has ever seen. I welcome his wise leadership in this challenging time. And, I am grateful to have him at the helm working to fix our nation's reputation, economy and humanity.

For the first time in years – despite the many hardships we face – I truly feel better for what the future may bring. I say: God speed and good luck to President Obama.

Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans.

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