You may know in your mind why you think that Dubya should not be reelected; sometimes you have trouble remembering the whys and wherefores. Well, this very levelheaded and well written article in the latest New Yorker will put it all together for you, again.
Here's George W. Bush's problem. How does a president win re-election when all the news the voters are seeing is bad?
Polls show the president running even or slightly ahead of Senator John Kerry. But bad news is piling up like mounds of trash in a garbage strike, and that's never good for an incumbent.
The war in Iraq is a mind-numbing tragedy with no end in sight. Dozens of Iraqi army recruits were slaughtered Saturday in one of the deadliest attacks yet against the Iraqi security forces. Yesterday an American diplomat was killed in a mortar attack near the Baghdad airport.
The latest horrific video to come out of the war zone shows the kidnapped British-Iraqi aid worker, Margaret Hassan, trembling, weeping and begging for her life. "Please help me," she says. "This might be my last hours."
American troops have fought valiantly, but cracks in their resolve are beginning to show. "This is Vietnam," said Daniel Planalp, a 21-year-old Marine corporal from San Diego who was quoted in yesterday's New York Times. "I don't even know why we're over here fighting."
Here at home the stock market has tanked, in part because of record-high oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at its low for the year on Friday as world oil prices streaked ever higher. The cost of oil has jumped more than 75 percent in the past year. With the weather turning colder, the attention of homeowners - many of them voters - is being drawn to the price of home heating oil. What they're seeing is not pretty.
The Energy Department expects heating oil bills to increase nearly 30 percent this year, and that may be a conservative estimate. Thermostats across the country are heading down, down, down.
Republican campaign officials are worried about the dearth of good news. The flu vaccine shortage has led to price-gouging and long lines of sick and elderly patients, some of them on the verge of panic. Last week we learned that the index of leading economic indicators had moved lower in September, the fourth successive monthly decline, which could be an indication of a slowdown in economic growth.
The lead stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post on Friday were both about Iraq - and both were disheartening. The Times said senior American officials were assembling new information about the increasingly deadly Iraqi insurgency that showed "it has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than had been estimated."
The Post wrote that, according to a U.S.-financed poll, leaders of Iraq's religious parties are becoming the most popular politicians in the country, an extremely ominous development in the view of the Bush administration.
These are all stories with the potential to influence voters, and they are not being offset by other, more positive developments. The result has been high anxiety levels among Republican operatives.
"If you're asking me if there's a perfect storm of bad news occurring, the answer is no," said a G.O.P. campaign strategist, who asked not to be identified. "If you're asking if I'd like a little rosier scenario to be played out on the front pages and the nightly news, the answer of course would be yes."
Unable to counter the bad news with stories of major successes, the Bush campaign has turned almost exclusively to the so-called war against terror. The message in a nutshell: be very afraid.
A Bush campaign commercial released a few days ago shows wolves advancing menacingly toward the camera. A voice in the ad says, "Weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm."
At the same time, the Republican Party is doing what it can in key states to block as many Democratic votes as possible. Party officials have mounted a huge organized effort to challenge - some would say intimidate - voters in states like Ohio and Florida, in a bid to offset the effects of huge voter registration drives and a potentially heavy turnout of voters opposed to Mr. Bush and his policies.
Election officials in Ohio said they'd never seen such a large drive mounted to challenge voters on Election Day.
Voter suppression is a reprehensible practice. It's a bullet aimed at the very heart of democracy. But the G.O.P. evidently considers it an essential strategy in an environment with so little positive news.
Are we moving in the direction of, under cover of "antiterrorism, the suppression of dissent? read this story and shudder! KATU 2 - Portland, Oregon
And in addition, we have received this eyewitness report:
Silenced by the President
By Trish Bowcock
Oct. 16, 2004
A few weeks before my father died, he woke me in the wee hours of the morning. He needed to talk. He was worried about Attorney General John Ashcroft and the destruction of American civil liberties. I comforted my father, believing he was delusional from medications. I was wrong.
I write this from my home in Jacksonville Oregon (population 2,226). President George W. Bush came here this week. The purpose of his visit was political. Southern Oregon has been deemed a "battle ground" area in the presidential race. John Kerry has made incredible inroads in this traditionally Republican stronghold. President Bush's
campaign stop was an attempt to staunch the slide.
Jacksonville is an old gold mining town. Our main street is only five blocks long, lined with restored storefronts. The sidewalks are narrow. We are a peaceful community. The prospect of an overnight presidential visit was exciting, even to me, a lifelong Democrat. My excitement turned to horror as I watched events unfold during President Bush's visit.
In the mid 1800s, when Indians invaded Jacksonville, citizens clambered upon the roof of the old library. It was the one building that would not catch fire when flaming arrows were shot. This week it was a different scene. Police armed with high powered rifles perched upon our rooftops as the presidential motorcade approached. Helicopters flew low, overhead. A cadre of motorcycle police zoomed into town. Black SUVs followed, sandwiching several black limousines carrying the president, his wife and their entourage as they sped to the local inn where they would eat and sleep.
The main street was lined with people gathered to witness the event. Many supported the president. Many did not. Some came because they were simply curious. There were men, women, young and old. The mood was somewhat festive. Supporters of John Kerry sported signs, as did supporters of George Bush. Individuals, exercising their rights of free speech began chanting. Onone side of the street, shouts of "four more years" echoed in the night air. On the other side of the street, chants of "three more weeks" responded. The chants were loud and apparently could be heard by President Bush. An order was issued that the anti-Bush rhetoric be quieted. The local SWAT team
leapt to action.
It happened fast. Clad in full riot gear, at least 50 officers moved in. Shouting indecipherable commands from a bullhorn, they formed a chain and bore down upon the people, only working to clear the side of the street appearing to be occupied by Kerry supporters. People tried to get out of their way. It was very crowded. There was nowhere to move. People were being crushed. They started flowing into the
streets. Pleas to the officers, asking, "where to go" fell upon deaf ears. Instead, riot police fired pellets of cayenne pepper spray into the crowd. An old ma n fell and couldn't get up. When a young man stopped to help, he was shot in the back with hard pepper spray balls. Children were hit with pepper spray. Deemed "Protesters"
people were shoved and herded down the street by the menacing line of armed riot police, until out of the President's ear-shot.
There the "Protesters" were held at bay. Anyone vocalizing anti-Bush or pro-Kerry setiments were prohibited from venturing forward. Loud anti-Bush chants were responded to by the commanding officer stating: "FORWARD," to which the entire line of armed police would move, lock-step, toward the "Protesters," forcing backward movement. Police officers circulated filming the crowd of "Protesters." Some were
people like me, quiet middle-aged women. Some sported anti-Bush signs, peace signs, or Kerry signs. A small group of youth, clad in black with kerchiefs wrapping their heads chanted slogans. A young woman in her underwear, sporting a peace sign sang a lyrical Kumbaya. Mixed among the "Protesters" were supporters of the President. One 19 year- old man shouted obscenities at anyone expressing dissatisfaction with the president, encouraging the police to "tazar" the "Stinking Protesters." Neither the "Protestors," nor the police harassed this vocal young man. Across the street, individuals shouting support for the president were allowed to continue. Officers
monitored this group but allowed them to shout words of support or hurl derisions toward Kerry supporters, undisturbed. Honking cars filled with Bush supporters were left alone. A honking car full of Kerry supporters was stopped by police on its way out of town.
The standoff with "Protesters" continued until the President finished his dinner and was secured in his hotel cottage for the night. Only then were the riot police ordered to "mount-up," leaping upon the sideboard of a huge SUV, pulling out of town, and allowing "free spech" to resume.
In small town American I witnessed true repre ssion and intimidation by law enforcement. I saw small children suffering from the effects of being fired upon by pepper bullets. I felt legitimate fear of expressing my political opinions: a brand new feeling. Newspaper accounts state the chaos started when a violent "Protester" shoved a police officer. No one I talked to witnessed this account.
It is reputed that President Bush and his staff will not allow any oposition activity to occur within his ear or eye sight. I can confirm, that in tiny Jacksonville, Oregon, this was true. Physically violent means were taken to protect the president from verbal insults. Freedom of speech was stolen.
My father was not paranoid as he lay dying. He was expressing great insight into the dangers of our current presidential administration and its willingness to repress personal freedoms. If I could talk to my father today, I would say, "I am sorry Daddy for doubting you." And, no matter what, I will continue to exercise my indivi dual right to freely express my opinions. Americans cannot take four more years.
Well, I had been apprised of this interference into the healthy voting habits of the American public in that heartland county of Clark in Ohio. The quick and dirty comment was that this looks like one of Karl Rove's dirtiest and most devious tricks. Let me put your minds at rest: it is not. And the outrage came iin the form of emails to the Guardian, tons of them, suspiciously quick, professional and scatological. But let the Guardian folks tell you the tale themselves. Guardian Unlimited | US elections 2004 | The last post
October 19, 2004 - How America's Church-State Cabal Plots Last Rites for Democracy
The French may not have been America's allies, in George W. Bush's misguided invasion of Iraq but a Frenchman named Bonaparte has certainly been a closer counsel to our current President, than most of this country's wisest savants. To a questioning member of the nobility, in 1801, Napoleon wrote: "A nation must have a religion and that religion must be under the control of the government."
This observation was neither new nor naïve. It had been periodically raised and advanced by religious and political power-mongers, throughout the history of both venues. The founders of this nation, most of them ardent believers, knew and understood the danger such thinking posed for any experiment in democracy. When drafting a constitution for his own Virginia colony, even before it became a state, Jefferson wrote that it does no harm for anyone to say, there are twenty Gods or one God. An abiding fear of the possible unholy alliance between religion and government led Emerson, more than seventy years after we became a republic, to write that God builds his temple in the heart, on the ruins of churches and religions.
So how did we get to this place, in a time of supposed enlightenment beyond most of the barriers that centuries of ignorance have thrown up against us? How has this recognized bastion in the defense of individual freedom become the comfortable home of a dogma, that demands submission of its populace and is almost certain to accrue their eventual enslavement? How could we have allowed the imposition of such a scheme, by one of the most hypocritical leaders in our history? Throughout that history, we've successfully opposed puritanical zealots and pietistic bigots who've attempted to ensnare our national intellect within the narrow confines of fundamentalist dogma, trying to keep the ethos of this democracy from resembling what its founders projected. Now, in the guise of preservation, that ethos is about to be cynically subverted.
This President and his demonic accomplices argue, their only motives are for the defense and furtherance of life. Those who condemned most of medieval Europe and its chattel in the Americas to degradation, torture and death, for centuries, argued the same. They protested it, even as they strapped their victims to the rack or bound them to stakes for burning, promising that this was the only route to their eventual salvation. In truth, they played God with the imposition of life and death, its real purpose to acquire power and amass wealth, for a dynastic few and their coterie.
President Bush defends his withholding of foreign aid from nations who allow birth control practices, as merely the result of his belief in a pro-life measure. In effect he condemns thousands of innocent mothers and their already born children to death from malnutrition and starvation, as punishment for what his religion perceives as a crime. He does the same, here, with stem-cell research, withholding the hope of life, contained in protoplasm that his teaching holds more valuable, than the lives of those its utilization might help. It's been the exertion of this sort of fiendish triage on hapless populations, for centuries, that's made the purveyors of fundamentalist religions anathema, to those who understand its ultimate hypocrisy and deadly levying of power.
But beyond the overwhelming humanist arguments against the pernicious partnership of religion and government, is its contradiction of the very logic on which this democracy is balanced; the concept that a body of free yet responsible individuals can collectively decide on what's in the long-term best interest of most of its members, without - in the process - depriving any of them of their individual rights. To this day, the best description of the rationale of our democracy was contained in a ruling of the revered Justice Learned Hand who explained, that while each of us has the right to make a fist, the right to extend it ends with the tip of our neighbor's nose. The reach exercised by this President and his fundamentalist oligarchy, has now extended far beyond what any citizen's nose can or should reasonably tolerate.
But to this outrage, we can also now add duplicity. While the President simpers that his sanctimonious deceptions are merely the result of his personal conversations with the Almighty, a presumption that insults any connection the rest of us might have, his henchman in the Congress are conspiring to turn church leaders into power brokers, in the coming critical election. They've quietly attached a Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act to the Jobs Creation Act of 2004. This allows churches and their leaders to legally endorse candidates and lend support to their campaigns, without losing their tax-exempt status. It's the ultimate step, in making the church and state true partners in governing the people of the United States. And they've done it by using an already passed Jobs act that's in the final conference stage, before signing by the President.
If the tip of your nose is beginning to smart, you'd best scream "STOP!" and quickly, to your congressperson and senator. But beyond this, you can ensure this important constitutional separation by separating its annihilators from power. That's clearly casting a pro-life vote for democracy.
It is scantly surprising that the New York Times should endorse John Kerry for President. But in this long editorial, the Old Lady of Times Square passionately and thoughtfully lays out all the good reasons to vote for John Kerry. The editorial focuses on President Bush's "disastrous tenure", lays out the reasons why it was so, and on the reasons why John Kerry would do better: because he has a strong moral core and a lively, wide-ranging intelligence. Amen.
We are being told that we are heading towards a bright future, that freedom is "on the march", that the economy is strong, while we see that incomes are falling, prices are rising, terrorism does not take a break and WSJ.com - Polls In 10 Nations Show Views Of US Worsening It is not only about Iraq that we are being lied to!!!!
The Republicans, elsewhere and here in Saratoga Springs, are unctuously talking about the need for "affordable housing". They are even using this adjectivation to get their most obnoxious and long cherished objectives (see Weibel/Gilbert Rd.) approved by the planning board. But their real intentions on affordable housing are to "let the market take care of it", and not let their projects be hampered by any need except their bottom line.
Read this Editorial from the New York Times (October 16th):
The War on Affordable Housing
Published: October 16, 2004
Ideologues in the Bush administration would like to dismantle Section 8, the most successful public-and-private housing partnership in the history of the United States. That's the only way to explain the destructive policies emanating from the Housing and Urban Development Department, which has been hammering at Section 8 all year. The conflicting signals and general aura of hostility have convinced housing authorities around the country that they need to defend themselves by avoiding new commitments and cutting back on their old ones.
Even worse, the developers who have counted on Section 8 money to build affordable housing for the poor, the elderly and the disabled now think that they can no longer trust this program. Republican lawmakers whose districts are being hurt have kept quiet in the name of party solidarity. But this posture of loyal complicity will be difficult to maintain as the housing crisis deepens, which it surely will if HUD continues along its current course.
A landmark program, Section 8 has produced affordable housing for needy Americans since the Nixon years. It works this way: instead of doing the construction itself, the government guarantees subsidies for rents in the private market. Families, most of them at or below the poverty level, pay 30 percent of their incomes toward rent, and Section 8 vouchers pay the rest. At the moment, the program covers about two million people, a majority of them elderly or in families with children. Developers building affordable housing have come to depend on Section 8 guarantees for financial backing.
Things are getting worse by the day, thanks to ideologues in the Bush administration who prefer a laissez-faire approach, regardless of the social costs. Unable to dismember the Section 8 program directly, HUD has chosen to destabilize it with a series of rule changes and budget maneuvers that are being felt from coast to coast. The current HUD secretary, Alphonso Jackson, has settled on a particularly destructive strategy involving misdirection and sleight of hand. He releases poorly explained policies that include hidden, but draconian, cuts. After an outcry from Congress, he retreats to lesser cuts that leave the program diminished, housing authorities confused and the general public mistakenly believing that the status quo has been regained.
The latest incident, laid out by The Times's David Chen, came after HUD released a vaguely worded and irrational proposal that involved reducing the value of housing vouchers for poor residents in some of the most expensive housing markets in the country. The proposed change was widely thought to have been rescinded after housing advocates and lawmakers raised a fuss. But a close look at the data shows that HUD still seems to be planning to enforce a part of the plan that would make it more difficult for large families to find larger apartments. The landlords have been quick to react. Faced with the prospect of Section 8 vouchers that pay less than fair-market rents, they have made it clear that they will simply refuse to deal with the program, especially in tight markets where they can pick and choose tenants. That will be a disaster for poor families with several children.
The insanity of this ideologically driven attack on Section 8 is underscored in a bipartisan book - written by two Republicans and two Democrats - just out from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. The authors include two former housing secretaries: Jack Kemp, a Republican, and Henry Cisneros, a Democrat. The authors argue convincingly that the country is sacrificing both families and neighborhoods by hacking away at the most successful housing program in history.
The book, "Opportunity and Progress," calls for restoring the sane bipartisan effort that produced the federal housing program in the first place. Most significantly, the authors urge Congress to insulate the housing program from partisan sniping by creating a national trust fund. Modeled on similar programs that work well at state and local levels, that national fund would be used to build, rehabilitate and preserve 1.5 million affordable apartments.
The proposal resembles one already pending in Congress, where a trust fund bill is bottled up in committee even though it has more than 200 sponsors. The bill, as originally introduced, would finance itself by redirecting a small portion of the profits from the Federal Housing Administration's mortgage insurance fund.
This page is generally suspicious of dedicated funds, but, given the national housing crisis, it makes good sense to direct money earned from housing back into housing. The bill would certainly have wide support, if only the Republican leadership allowed it to be brought to the floor.
1) A U.S. federal judge just ordered that U.S. Airways can cut the pay and pension benefits of its union workers by 21%. This in fact is a lawless act violating a union contract on behalf of corporate bosses. As the cold comes and fuel costs are through the roof, U.S. Airways workers will see their incomes drop drastically while they must perform the same labor for the same hours, as will retirees on pension.
2) A platoon of U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq, functioning as workers in uniform and transporting fuel in resupply lines, have refused to carry out the orders of their officers and have been placed under arrest. A report in the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, MS, states, "A 17-member Army Reserve platoon with troops from Jackson, Miss., and around the Southeast deployed to Iraq is under arrest for refusing a 'suicide mission' to deliver fuel, the troops' relatives said Thursday." The soldiers were ordered to transport fuel in unprotected vehicles through an area of Iraq north of Baghdad where they knew they would be subject to the Iraqi resistance's attacks. One of the soldiers had e-mailed his mother earlier in the week asking what the penalty would be for physically assaulting his commander.
Working people in the United States are recognizing that the Bush administration has launched a war in Iraq solely to satisfy the needs of their corporate and banking backers to dominate and exploit the land, labor and resources of the people of the Middle East. It is not possible that the government which attacks workers rights at home can fight for the "liberation" of working people abroad. This is a profit first, people last government and it pursues the same policy all over the globe starting right here at home. The same government is willing to allow the super exploitation of undocumented workers one day, and the next day have them rounded up in INS/ICE sweeps if they dare to organize themselves into a union. The same government that takes billions from working people to spend on war and occupation tells those working people in that there is no money for human needs at home.
Pro-life? Look at the fruits
by Dr. Glen Harold Stassen
I am a Christian ethicist, and trained in statistical analysis. I am consistently pro-life. My son David is one witness. For my family, "pro-life" is personal. My wife caught rubella in the eighth week of her pregnancy. We decided not to terminate, to love and raise our baby. David is legally blind and severely handicapped; he also is a blessing to us and to the world.
I look at the fruits of political policies more than words. I analyzed the data on abortion during the George W. Bush presidency. There is no single source for this information - federal reports go only to 2000, and many states do not report - but I found enough data to identify trends. My findings are counterintuitive and disturbing.
Abortion was decreasing. When President Bush took office, the nation's abortion rates were at a 24-year low, after a 17.4% decline during the 1990s. This was an average decrease of 1.7% per year, mostly during the latter part of the decade. (This data comes from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life using the Guttmacher Institute's studies).
Enter George W. Bush in 2001. One would expect the abortion rate to continue its consistent course downward, if not plunge. Instead, the opposite happened.
I found three states that have posted multi-year statistics through 2003, and abortion rates have risen in all three: Kentucky's increased by 3.2% from 2000 to 2003. Michigan's increased by 11.3% from 2000 to 2003. Pennsylvania's increased by 1.9% from 1999 to 2002. I found 13 additional states that reported statistics for 2001 and 2002. Eight states saw an increase in abortion rates (14.6% average increase), and five saw a decrease (4.3% average decrease).
Under President Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have reversed. Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction.
How could this be? I see three contributing factors:
First, two thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Web site). In the past three years, unemployment rates increased half again. Not since Hoover had there been a net loss of jobs during a presidency until the current administration. Average real incomes decreased, and for seven years the minimum wage has not been raised to match inflation. With less income, many prospective mothers fear another mouth to feed.
Second, half of all women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life). Men who are jobless usually do not marry. Only three of the 16 states had more marriages in 2002 than in 2001, and in those states abortion rates decreased. In the 16 states overall, there were 16,392 fewer marriages than the year before, and 7,869 more abortions. As male unemployment increases, marriages fall and abortion rises.
Third, women worry about health care for themselves and their children. Since 5.2 million more people have no health insurance now than before this presidency - with women of childbearing age overrepresented in those 5.2 million - abortion increases.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops warned of this likely outcome if support for families with children was cut back. My wife and I know - as does my son David - that doctors, nurses, hospitals, medical insurance, special schooling, and parental employment are crucial for a special child. David attended the Kentucky School for the Blind, as well as several schools for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. He was mainstreamed in public schools as well. We have two other sons and five grandchildren, and we know that every mother, father, and child needs public and family support.
What does this tell us? Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, health insurance, jobs, child care, and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need policies that provide jobs and health insurance and support for prospective mothers.
Glen Stassen is the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, and the co-author of Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, Christianity Today's Book of the Year in theology or ethics.
Democratic Senators and FCC Commissioner are denouncing Sinclair
Broadcasting's decision to run an anti-Kerry film as news later
this month. Buzzflash.com and others are carrying calls to
boycott Sinclair Broadcasting:
"Click here to find out if any Sinclair television stations are
in your area:
"You will be able to contact that television station directly by
clicking on the link listed by Sinclair. CALL THE TV STATIONS,
don't just email! Believe me, 50 phone calls will have much more
impact directly on that station than 100 emails; local, smaller
TV stations are usually understaffed, overworked, and you will
definitely get their attention by calling. Get your friends and
family to call, too!
HERE IS SINCLAIR'S INFO:
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
10706 Beaver Dam Road
Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030
410-568-1500 (Main Telephone)
410-568-1533 (Main Fax)
Database of Sinclair advertisers
Top Sinclair shareholders
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.
He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.
Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.
If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.
He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.
The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."
t r u t h o u t - William Rivers Pitt | The Scary Little Man: "Bush was every inch the angry man on Friday night, which is dangerous enough. But to witness anger combined with belligerent ignorance, with a willful denial of basic facts, to witness a man utterly incapable of admitting to any mistakes while his clear errors in judgment are costing his country in blood, to see that combination roiling within the man who is in charge of the most awesome military arsenal in the history of the planet, is more than dangerous. "
Guardian Unlimited | US elections 2004 | Bush's mystery bulge: "Bloggers are burning up their keyboards with speculation. Check out the president's peculiar behaviour during the debate, they say. On several occasions, the president simply stopped speaking for an uncomfortably long time and stared ahead with an odd expression on his face. Was he listening to someone helping him with his response to a question? Even weirder was the president's strange outburst. In a peeved rejoinder to Kerry, he said, 'As the politics change, his positions change. And that's not how a commander in chief acts. I, I, uh - Let me finish - The intelligence I looked at was the same intelligence my opponent looked at.' It must be said that Bush pointed toward Lehrer as he declared 'Let me finish.' The green warning light was lit, signalling he had 30 seconds to, well, finish.
Thanks to Tracie for this link to the now famous picture of the hump/bulge/box on President Bush's back during the Florida debate.
The New York Times > Opinion > The Town Hall Debate: "One of the uncommitted voters in the audience sensibly asked President Bush to name three mistakes he'd made in office, and what he had done to remedy the damage. Mr. Bush declined to list even one, and instead launched into an impassioned defense of the invasion of Iraq as a good idea. The president's insistence on defending his decision to go into Iraq seemed increasingly bizarre in a week when his own investigators reported that there were no weapons of mass destruction there, and when his own secretary of defense acknowledged that there was no serious evidence of a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda."
The Online Beat: "'(It's) not just me that sees the mess in Iraq. There are Republican leaders, like John McCain, like Richard Lugar, like Chuck Hagel, who have said Iraq is a mess and it's getting worse,' Edwards said, referencing three senior Republican senators. 'And when they were asked why, Richard Lugar said because of the incompetence of the administration.' "
Capital Games: "The Duelfer report shows that whatever threat Iraq posed was rather static. It was not becoming more serious. That means there was no 'immediate' and 'direct' reason on March 19, 2003, to head into an elective war, with few major allies, not enough body armor and reinforced Humvees, and little planning for the aftermath. "
Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment |
Scott Ritter mentions the source Duelfer didn't quote: "Duelfer is not an unbiased observer in this matter. For this reason alone, his ISG report must not be allowed to hide its findings behind a wall of secrecy. Far from showing the intent of Saddam Hussein to keep WMD, I believe a full review of all material relevant to the ISG's report will instead portray a dictator whose only desire was to retain his hold on power in the face of a US government which intended to do anything, including violate international law, to prevent this. "
Not only did Iraq not have weapons of mass destruction, its basic military capabilities were crumbling. Saddam was far from being an immediate, imminent threat; he rather was a tinpot dictator, filling his time writing romantic novels. The threat evolved later, after the US troops had invaded: Iraq became a magnet and central point for the Islamic rejection of Western values.
Here is what one of the President's professors at the Harvard Business School now says about him:
His former Harvard Business School professor recalls George W. Bush not just as a terrible student but as spoiled, loutish and a pathological liar.
By Mary Jacoby
Sept. 16, 2004 |
For 25 years, Yoshi Tsurumi, one of George W. Bush's professors at Harvard Business School, was content with his green-card status as a permanent legal resident of the United States. But Bush's ascension to the presidency in 2001 prompted the Japanese native to secure his American citizenship. The reason: to be able to speak out with the full authority of citizenship about why he believes Bush lacks the character and intellect to lead the world's oldest and most powerful democracy.
"I don't remember all the students in detail unless I'm prompted by something," Tsurumi said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "But I always remember two types of students. One is the very excellent student, the type as a professor you feel honored to be working with. Someone with strong social values, compassion and intellect,the very rare person you never forget. And then you remember students like George Bush, those who are totally the opposite" The future president was one of 85 first-year MBA students in Tsurumi's macroeconomic policies and international business class in the fall of 1973 and spring of 1974. Tsurumi was a visiting associate professor at Harvard Business School from January 1972 to August 1976; today, he is a professor of international business at Baruch College in New York.
Trading as usual on his father's connections, Bush entered Harvard in 1973 for a two-year program. He'd just come off what George H.W. Bush had once called his eldest son's "nomadic years" partying, drifting from job to job, working on political campaigns in Florida and Alabama and, most famously, apparently not showing up for duty in the Alabama National Guard.
Harvard Business School's rigorous teaching methods, in which the professor interacts aggressively with students, and students are encouraged to challenge each other sharply, offered important insights into Bush, Tsurumi said. In observing students' in-class performances, "you develop pretty good ideas about what are their weaknesses and strengths in terms of thinking, analysis, their prejudices, their backgrounds and other things that students reveal," he said.
One of Tsurumi's standout students was Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif., now the seventh-ranking member of the House Republican leadership. "I typed him as a conservative Republican with a conscience," Tsurumi said. "He never confused his own ideology with economics, and he didn't try to hide his ignorance of a subject in mumbo jumbo. He was what I call a principled conservative." (Though clearly a partisan one. On Wednesday, Cox called for a congressional investigation of the validity of documents that CBS News obtained for a story questioning Bush's attendance at Guard duty in Alabama.)
Bush, by contrast, "was totally the opposite of Chris Cox," Tsurumi said. "He showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him." When asked to explain a particular comment, said Tsurumi, Bush would respond, "Oh, I never said that." A White House spokeswoman did not return a phone call seeking comment.
In 1973, as the oil and energy crisis raged, Tsurumi led a discussion on whether government should assist retirees and other people on fixed incomes with heating costs. Bush, he recalled, "made this ridiculous statement and when I asked him to explain, he said, ?The government doesn?t have to help poor people?because they are lazy.? I said, ?Well, could you explain that assumption?? Not only could he not explain it, he started backtracking on it, saying, ?No, I didn?t say that.??
If Cox had been in the same class, Tsurumi said, ?I could have asked him to challenge that and he would have demolished it. Not personally or emotionally, but intellectually.?
Bush once sneered at Tsurumi for showing the film ?The Grapes of Wrath,? based on John Steinbeck?s novel of the Depression. ?We were in a discussion of the New Deal, and he called Franklin Roosevelt?s policies ?socialism.? He denounced labor unions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Medicare, Social Security, you name it. He denounced the civil rights movement as socialism. To him, socialism and communism were the same thing. And when challenged to explain his prejudice, he could not defend his argument, either ideologically, polemically or academically."
"Students who challenged and embarrassed Bush in class would then become the subject of a whispering campaign by him", Tsurumi said. "In class, he couldn't challenge them. But after class, he sometimes came up to me in the hallway and started bad-mouthing those students who had challenged him. He would complain that someone was drinking too much. It was innuendo and lies. So that's how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk, that he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy."
Many of Tsurumi's students came from well-connected or wealthy families, but good manners prevented them from boasting about it, the professor said. But Bush seemed unabashed about the connections that had brought him to Harvard. "The other children of the rich and famous were at least well bred to the point of realizing universal values and standards of behavior," Tsurumi said. But Bush sometimes came late to class and often sat in the back row of the theater-like classroom, wearing a bomber jacket from the Texas Air National Guard and spitting chewing tobacco into a cup.
"At first, I wondered, "Who is this George Bush? It's a very common name and I didn't know his background. And he was such a bad student that I asked him once how he got in. He said, "My dad has good friends." Bush scored in the lowest 10 percent of the class.
The Vietnam War was still roiling campuses and Harvard was no exception. Bush expressed strong support for the war but admitted to Tsurumi that he'd gotten a coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard through his father's connections.
"I used to chat up a number of students when we were walking back to class," Tsurumi said. "Here was Bush, wearing a Texas Guard bomber jacket, and the draft was the No. 1 topic in those days. And I said, "George, what did you do with the draft?" He said, "Well, I got into the Texas Air National Guard." And I said, "Lucky you. I understand there is a long waiting list for it. How'd you get in?" When he told me, he didn't seem ashamed or embarrassed. He thought he was entitled to all kinds of privileges and special deals. He was not the only one trying to twist all their connections to avoid Vietnam. But then, he was fanatically for the war.
Tsurumi told Bush that someone who avoided a draft while supporting a war in which others were dying was a hypocrite. "He realized he was caught, showed his famous smirk and huffed off."
Tsurumi's conclusion: Bush is not as dumb as his detractors allege. "He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion," he said.
In recent days, Tsurumi has told his story to various print and television outlets and appears in Kitty Kelley's expos "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty." He said other professors and students at the business school from that time share his recollections but are afraid to come forward, fearing ostracism or retribution. And why is Tsurumi speaking up now? Because with the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq and Osama bin Laden still on the loose, not to mention a federal deficit ballooning out of control, the stakes are too high to remain silent. "Obviously, I don't think he is the best person to be running the country, he said. "I wanted to explain why."
Tsurumi told Bush that someone who avoided a draft while supporting a war in which others were dying was a hypocrite. "He realized he was caught, showed his famous smirk and huffed off."
Tsurumi's conclusion: Bush is not as dumb as his detractors allege. "He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion," he said.
This weekend I have been a bit behind the eightball, and have posted nothing. I was reading a past The Atlantic issue, and the James Fallows article "Blind into Baghdad" that is still resonating in letters to the editor and commentaries. In essence Fallows argues that the Administration was not devoid of planning and strategy, but that it totally ignored previous planning and advice from its own experts.
Last night I listened to the Cato Institute's Dr. Preble at Skidmore, presenting the libertarian point of view on the Iraq war. Although Iraq was not what he really wanted to talk about, that became his dominating topic. If we can encapsulate the argument, preemptive war should only be waged against a certain enemy that means imminent harm to the U.S.A., AND HAS THE MEANS TO INFLICT IT. Saddam Hussein does not qualify on either point. He may have had dreams of world domination, but he was careful not to attack the USA, because, according to Dr. Preble, deterrence is still at work, and had he done so, he would have faced annihilation, and he knew it. And Saddam neither had the weapons (no nukes), nor the means to deliver them (no missiles). Those unmanned planes alluded to by President Bush never existed.
It was an excellent presentation and the student questions were great. We should pay more attention to theCato Institute
From "Sojourners" comes this piece:
Republicans say "liberals" will ban the Bible
by Jim Wallis
Imagine this. A political party does a mailing in important states. They accuse the other party of wanting to "ban" the Bible and establish gay marriage. Well, imagine no more. That's what the Republican National Committee has done. I'm not sure even Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson would go this far, but the Republican Party has in its aggressive campaign to make sure its conservative church base votes for George Bush.
To say this is outrageous seems like an understatement. I have never seen such a blatant and dishonest political manipulation of religion by a political party. But the Republicans seem shameless about it. The RNC acknowledged doing the mailings (when another religious group got a copy and circulated it to reporters), but they have yet to apologize for them. Instead, the Republicans admitted the mailing was part of their effort to mobilize religious votes for President Bush.
The mailing includes an image of the Bible labeled "banned" and a photo of a man putting a ring on another man's hand labeled "allowed," and suggests that's exactly what "liberal politicians" would seek to do. Then the good church folks are warned, "This will be Arkansas if you don't vote." A similar mailing was sent in West Virginia. This new Republican campaign in the churches is similar to an earlier effort that asked church volunteers to perform 22 "duties" in this election year, including turning over congregational membership lists to the local Republican Party. That suggestion even offended some of the Republican religious base as a too-partisan intrusion into church life and an attempt to manipulate the faith of voters.
The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia responded to the mailings in an editorial headlined, "Holy Moley! Who concocts this gibberish?" The paper went on to suggest that such behavior on the part of the Republicans could actually alienate swing religious voters and others: "Most Americans see morality more complexly," the paper said. "Many think a higher morality is found in Christ's command to help the needy, prevent war and pursue other humanitarian goals. Churchgoers of this sort aren't likely to believe childish allegations that Democrats want to ban the Bible."
Behind these partisan religious activities lies a fundamental assumption by top Republican operatives, that they OWN religion in America. Sojourners' "God is Not a Republican...or a Democrat" petition and ad campaign has resonated deeply around the country. Christians will be voting for both George Bush and John Kerry in this election, "for reasons deeply rooted in their faith," as the ad says. It also reminds us that all Christian values and ethics cannot simply be reduced to hot-button social issues.
Yet Republicans are not only assuming, they seem to be demanding that religious people vote only one way - their way. What the Republican Party is doing in these mailings is claiming that the religious vote in American belongs only to them and disrespecting the faith of all believers who disagree with their political agenda or candidate. Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be allowed to get away with that.
It also must be said that the Republican disrespect for Christians who disagree with them runs right along racial lines. The members of black churches will be likely be voting overwhelmingly Democratic this election, as they have for many years. If President Bush is being presented as the only moral choice, what exactly is the Republican Party saying about the faith of black Christians? Does the president not know that millions of Christians, including many evangelical Christians, disagree with him on the war in Iraq, on his budget priorities and tax cuts for the wealthy, on his dismal performance in poverty reduction, or on his policies that so negatively impact the environment? What is he saying about their faith with mailings like this one? And are the Republicans also saying that gay marriage is the only issue Christians should be voting on this year?
When I read about the new RNC mailing, my first response was to ask how conservative Republicans can accuse the "liberals" of wanting to ban the Bible when they ignore it altogether on the weighty scriptural matters of social and economic justice or on Jesus' command that Christians be "peacemakers." There should at least be a serious debate in this election about what those biblical teachings mean in relation to Christian voting. But the Republicans apparently don't want any debate about religion and the election. They have just declared themselves the winners.
Well, not so fast. Sojourners and many allies are committed to taking that debate to every corner of the nation during this election season. And you can help. As the candidates begin their debates this week, we say let the debate about religion and the election continue! Here's what you can do this week:
This outrageous, partisan, and manipulative mailing to churches must not be allowed to go unnoticed. And the Republican National Committee must not be allowed to get away with this abuse of religion and disrespect for the faith of believers who disagree with their political agenda. George Bush himself owes the Christian community an apology for this mailing that disrespects the faith of millions of committed Christians.
TAKE ACTION today. Write to Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and write to President Bush. Ask them to apologize and denounce these mailings. Tens of thousands of Christians sending this message to the Republican Party will get noticed and will make a difference. Hold the Republicans accountable for this mailing and ask George Bush to tell them not to manipulate or disrespect religion in this campaign again. Do it today.
I have been called to attention about the Listen up! in the title. It is, it seems, unseemly, peremptory, dictatorial. I do like it: it is aimed, probably not at most of you, attentive and sharp readers, but at those distracted cohorts that may stumble onto this blog, and that need grabbing by the lapels or their string of pearls, to pay attention and yell back at me.
Not that I like being yelled at. But if that is what it takes to get the impression of relevance....
I will end with D. Quijotes admonition to his faithful equerry, Sancho:
"the dogs are barking, Sancho, we must be riding.."
In the spirit of our reborn optimism after yesterday's debate, here is Calvin Trillin's poem, courtesy of The Nation:
On Republican Populism
Our policies address the cares
Of heiresses and millionaires.
Our point of view reverberates
With folks who live behind high gates
And folks whose country clubs may lack
A single Jew, a single black.
We're backed by all the CEOs.
We waive the regs that bring them woes.
To comfort them is our intent.
Yes, though we always represent
The folks who sit in corporate boxes,
The gratifying paradox is--
And this we love; it's just the neatest--
The other party's called elitist.
Let us say that I have been around the block a few times. So I have learned that I don't know much, and that I think that I am smarter than I really am. But I would like you to hear about my take on the world, on my original country, this country, this campaign, myself, my life, your life and how I believe that you should live it.