|Posted on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 04:29 am: |
There's a debate about the debates going on at the F&FS site on this board, but that particular thread has gotten so long it's now unwieldy and hard to work through. In any event, this is a letter that I sent to our local county paper, The Harris County Journal, after its former publisher wrote an endorsement of the Bush-Cheney ticket a week or so ago. My letter appeared in yesterday's HJC (Thurs., Oct. 14, 2004), and appeared, miraculously, uncut:
Dear Harris County Journal,
I have a Kerry-Edwards sign in my front yard. Let me tell you why. First, I am a veteran (U.S. Air Force, 1968-1972). My father and my step-father were both career Air Force men, veterans of World War II and Korea.
The idea that President Bush and his neoconservative cronies have waged an effective war on terrorists does not stand up to scrutiny. They did the correct thing after Sept. 11, 2001, by invading Afghanistan to kill al-Qaeda terrorists and the Taliban forces sheltering them. No other honorable option existed. However, since authorizing these justifiable attacks (but failing to capture Osama bin Laden by allowing Afghan fighters rather than U.S. troops to pursue him), Bush has made mistake after mistake.
A number of high-level military officials privately believe that the invasion of Iraq is the worst strategic blunder that an American president has made in their lifetimes. It is certainly among the worst that I have witnessed.
First, Bush and Co. had decided to attack Iraq long before September 11. They pursued only those "facts" that would indict Iraq for harboring weapons of mass destruction and/or having links with al-Qaeda. They ignored those bolstering diplomacy, sanctions, and ongoing weapons inspection. In other words, Bush misspoke about seeking war only as "a last resort." He actively sought war, despite never having set foot in one himself.
Second, until just recently, Bush and Vice-President Cheney repeatedly insisted that Iraq had both WMDs and ties to al-Qaeda (even though the the 9/11 Commission has refuted these notions), as if repeating a lie magically made it true.
Third, once the Bush administration took us to war, it did so with no coherent plan for the consequences. It guarded the oil ministry, but allowed looting to take place elsewhere. It refused to give former Ba'athists any role in the new system (creating more rather than fewer insurgents), and it opened Iraq to a growing influx of Arab terrorists and opportunists. Too few American troops on the ground -- blame Secretary Rumsfeld -- made it impossible to establish security. As a result, most Iraqis now regard us as occupiers rather than as liberators, even the many who applauded Sadam Hussein's fall.
Fourth, nearly everything the Bush administration has done has created the impression that we are an occupying force, intent only on securing Iraq's oil, dictating its policies, and protecting Israel. This perception has turned even moderate Arabs and Islamicists against us. The abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison occurred at least in part because the Bush Administration took no steps to forestall them and, in my view, contributed to the attitudes making the abuses possible. (Osama bin Laden is in hiding, yes, but he is smiling at these developments.)
Fifth, in blowing off our most of our traditional allies, Bush focused the attention of hardliners, militants, and terrorists almost exclusively on us as their main target and burdened the American taxpayer with the cost of the debacle. The only Americans now profiting from this war are corporate contractors, including Halliburton, of which Vice President Cheney was a former CEO. (The doubtful ethics of this conflict-of-interest rarely raise an eyebrow among Bush supporters.)
Sixth, the absence of any exit strategy dogged this war from the beginning. And there is still none. Bush unnecessarily took us to war, envisioning a cakewalk, and now he and his henchmen can find no honorable way to disengage. Meanwhile, the number of in-country insurgents grows daily. Even conservative Pat Buchanan argues that where, initially, there were only 5,000 hardcore insurgents, today there are 20,000 -- at least. The losses among American troops have spiraled up every month since early summer.
Seventh, while focusing on Iraq, the Bush administration has allowed our pressure on al-Qaeda, Iran, and North Korea to slacken. We have been dealing not with the real sources of danger that Islamic militantism and loose nuclear warheads pose, but instead with a major distraction, and the need to send troops to Iraq has undercut our ability to respond forcefully elsewhere.
Eighth, apparently neither George W. Bush nor any of his advisors (not even our "superb" Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld) foresaw any of these mistakes. Certainly, they took no steps to prevent them or to erase their worst effects before they grew into public-relations boondoggles and/or vast military disasters.
Bob Tribble, former publisher of the Harris County Journal, once wrote that the idea of John Kerry as president "scared" him. The first debate showed that President Bush cannot articulate his own policy, much less implement it. Rewarding him and his agenda-driven neocon pals with another four years strikes me as both scary and crazy. Kerry and Edwards offer a fresh beginning, even with the lousy hand that Bush has dealt our entire country. I urge anyone who's paying attention to give new leadership a chance to play it more intelligently.
Pine Mountain, Georgia
Nancy Jane Moore
|Posted on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 04:51 am: |
Michael, that is the most clear statement of the problem that I've seen. It needs to be on the op-ed page of every paper in the US. It ought to be on TV and radio, too, but I guess it's too detailed for a damn sound bite.
And for the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone finds Kerry "scary." I can understand disagreeing with him on some issues, but he is so obviously an intelligent man who thinks about issues and knows how to lead, which ought to be the basic qualification for anyone running for president.
|Posted on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 04:59 am: |
Nancy, thanks. Clearly, though, the issues aren't obvious to everyone, or this election wouldn't be as close as everyone's predicting it will be. Indeed, I'm pretty sure that Bush will win here in Georgia, thus altogether negating my vote in the electoral college. I find that enraging, as neither Bush nor Kerry is running for Governor of Georgia, but for President of the United States.
|Posted on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 11:07 am: |
The conservative media continues to confuse whatever "undecideds" might be left by focusing on red herrings like Kerry mentioning Mary Cheney in the debates. (I guess the swift boat red herring has lost traction.) A lucid, well-reasoned, critique of policies, which should be the very pith of a presidential campaign, today seems to have no place in it.
|Posted on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 01:56 pm: |
Good one Mike!
|Posted on Friday, October 15, 2004 - 08:57 pm: |
I find that enraging, as neither Bush nor Kerry is running for Governor of Georgia, but for President of the United States.
As a Tennessee resident, I'm in the same boat you are, and I am equally enraged. There's nothing quite like the feeling of helplessness that accompanies the knowledge that my vote means absolutely nothing.
George H Scithers
|Posted on Saturday, October 16, 2004 - 03:35 pm: |
Michael, you have said what needs to be said better than I can.
|Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 04:35 am: |
Again, folks, thanks for the feedback. I'm pretty sure that between today (Monday, October 18) and the election, we'll see Bush's partisans pour on the negativity; in other words, I don't think we've seen the last of the so-called swift-boat vets and their campaign for "truth." I might mention here, too, that just as damning an assessment of Dubya's domestic policies could be written -- in every area: fiscal responsibility, education, environment, homeland security, civil rights, etc., etc.
|Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 09:34 am: |
Interesting last-minute campaign point. This weekend, the Washington Post Metro section did a story on locals who had Kerry lawn signs stolen. I would have considered this a harmless bit of local color, but for the fact that a friend of mine who spent last week in Dallas brought me a copy of Sunday's Dallas Morning News (a GOP paper, I'm led to understand) with almost the exact same story about the pilfering of Kerry lawn signs from N. Dallas neighborhoods, on page one.
Hmmmmm. A return to the bad old days of C.R.E.E.P., perhaps?
|Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 10:19 am: |
I've had a Kerry sign on my lawn for a good while now, here in Pine Mountain, Georgia, where I am definitely in the minority politically re the presidential election, and I've heard stories of Bush signs disappearing from lawns, too, in certain places. I do think that more pilfering and intimidation have come from Bush partisans, especially those whose idea of civility comes from talk radio, but must confess that I have no statistics, only anecdotal evidence. I had to replace my sign once, but that was after one of the recent hurricanes blew through and carried -- Kerry'd? -- it off.
Nancy Jane Moore
|Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 11:43 am: |
I sympathize with you Georgians and Tennesseeans (sp?). You should vote, though; your neighbors could surprise you.
My vote feels equally meaningless, even though the District of Columbia will unquestionably deliver all three of its electoral votes to Kerry. The margin will be so huge that one vote more or less won't matter. I'm predicting 90 percent of the vote for Kerry; Gore got 85 percent in 2000.
I'm enraged about something different. About three times a week I get some kind of email message that says "contact your senators and representatives". I'd love to do that, but I don't have any senators and my so-called representative doesn't have a vote. (I wouldn't need to contact her anyway, because she'd vote right about 99 percent of the time anyway. If she could vote.)
Lots of gaps in our democracy here in the Land of the Free.
|Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 12:03 pm: |
Yes, DC does get screwed. Taxation without representation is wrong, but the days of people in the US actually caring about injustice that doesn't affect them seem to be over. Nobody outside of the District can seem to work up any indignation about DC's plight, and the city's attempt to put the issue front and center by moving its primary before the Iowa Caucuses fell flat when the candidates with a chance of winning just skipped it.
Eleanor would vote right, unless a couple of people with picket signs in front of her office demanded that she vote wrong...
I will proudly waste my vote in VA, where GWB wins in a cakewalk...
|Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 03:37 pm: |
My wife and I just got back from a long roadtrip to Oakland, where we attended a friend's wedding. On the way down, we passed miles and miles of fields where sheep grazed around mammoth Bush-Cheney campaign signs. Alas, despite the clear subtext, I don't think the signs were meant ironically. (I wish I'd had the camera out!)
At the post-wedding brunch yesterday, the family of the groom and I got to talking about the upcoming election. They're all from Britain and claim that UK support for Bush is so low that if he were up for election there, he wouldn't get ten percent of the vote. Why, they asked, do so many Americans support Bush? What does he offer them?
Hell if I know. It's a damned embarrassing time to be an American.
|Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 04:51 pm: |
I'm about to travel out of the country and if anybody asks, I'm from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, eh?
|Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 05:35 pm: |
I, too, am a Tennessee resident and I'm for the idea of one man, one vote--not this electoral college nonsense. On a more upbeat note, here in Knoxville the number of Kerry signs, it seems to me, have increased; especially after the first debate. There was also a huge swelling around town of voter registration on Oct. 2nd. Still, East Tennesse is notoriously conservative. We'll just have to see. And yes, I've done early voting, casting for the right man to clean up this mess we're in.
Hang in there,
|Posted on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 05:38 pm: |
Yes, a very positive and succinct letter. I'm glad it wasn't edited for whatever reason. Well done, my friend!
|Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 04:19 am: |
I try to remain upbeat, but, in Georgia, it's often difficult. If the election goes Bush's way, I really do fear what may happen in the man's second term. He was not constrained in the least by the fact that he "won" the 2000 election by the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court, when the popular vote argued forcefully that he had the near-opposite of a mandate, and has pushed his policies farther and farther to the right, with specific sops and come-ons to the evangelical right, and another four years will do more than even his own ego to convince him that he is God's man, in God's time, and the world had better Look Out. If he wins, and I travel outside the country, I may wear a black armband to indicate that I'm in mourning for a country incapable of choosing the Fair and the Competent over the Self-Righteous and the Bellicose. My concern keeps me awake at night.
Nancy Jane Moore
|Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 05:49 am: |
10 Ways to Keep Upbeat
1. Avoid the fatalists on our side, the ones who are convinced we're going to lose.
2. Take heart in the upsurge in voter registrations, especially among young people. Remember that a lot of these voters are being ignored by the polls.
3. Note how many people in their 80s are saying "this is the most important election of my lifetime." Those folks remember the Depression and WWII, and they're not supporting Bush.
4. Note how many people who don't normally get involved in electoral politics are out going door to door and sending money. Around here a lot of my friends are going to Pennsylvania and W. Va., which are up for grabs.
5. Note how many people who are normally way to the left of the Democratic Party have realized that sometimes the lesser of two evils really is worth striving for.
6. Don't talk politics with people on the other side. It's not worth the aggravation.
7. Read Paul Krugman every Tuesday and Friday in the NY Times.
8. Post messages on places like this. Yes, we're preaching to the choir, but as Ursula LeGuin remarked recently, you have to keep up the choir's spirits.
9. Don't let Bush's arrogance fool you. Don't panic too much about the possibility of Republican dirty tricks.
10. Remember, we can win this election.
That's how I'm getting to sleep at night. Of course, every day I scream at the radio and despair at The Washington Post, which has outsourced its editorial page to the Wall Street Journal. You gotta do a little screaming, too.
|Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - 07:39 am: |
All of these are excellent points, Nancy, and good to keep in mind. I am in fact encouraged by the high numbers of new voter registrations, and this morning in the post office a man in his late 70s or early 80s stopped me and thanked me for writing the letter that begins this thread. He's genuinely worried about what's happened to the country under Bush and is particularly concerned, as you might imagine, about the costs of health care and prescription drugs. He and his wife have enormous monthly expenses as a consequence of just these issues. Anyway, Nancy, many thanks for your list.