Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Now that the Stupid-Ass Conventions and all of their poopla are out of the way, it’s time to assess the state of the Big Question that will be staring us all in the face in a few weeks. Herewith my attempt to cut through the Great Log o’ Crap that is the quadrennial American Presidential Campaign:

First, George W. “They Call Me Mister President” Bush.

Having lived in Texas when Dubs was governor, I can only say that it’s remarkable how far a man can go with a supportive family environment behind him. George W. managed to reinvent himself as a successful politician after failing in business...not that there’s anything wrong with that. But as governor of Texas, he proved amazingly adept at taking the taxing and spending power of the state and using it to benefit his friends and business associates. The Texas Rangers Stadium in Arlington is a monument to the power of the state to redistribute wealth... uphill.

Here’s a guy who squeaked into office on the strength of a Supreme Court decision and a questionable Electoral College vote. [Sure, he lost the popular vote, but as we all should know by now, that don’t mean shit. Read the Constitution to see how we elect presidents in this country. If you don’t like it, then work to change it.]

When the 9/11 attacks took place, he responded in a statesmanlike manner. And he went after the Taliban and al-Qaeda with military force. He did about the best he could do, given the shadowy nature of the terrorist foe we are dealing with.

However, instead of keeping the focus on combating terrorism, W allowed himself to be sidetracked into our adventure in Iraq. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of Saddam Hussein. I believe he had to be forcibly removed - if for no other reason than he continued to violate the terms of the 1991 cease-fire. And with that reason in hand, we could have made a strong case to get our allies involved (or call “bullshit” on ’em, viz the cushy deals France had with Iraq, not to mention the UN thievery going on). Instead, we marched in virtually unilaterally... and with no nation-building plan, no exit strategy. Freedom for Iraqis would taste a lot better with some civil order to go with it. Instead, they’ve got chaos.

Iraq is starting to look like personal payback. A chance to finish the job Daddy B left undone. But Bush Sr. didn’t march to Baghdad for good reasons... and we’re lookin’ at ’em right now.

"Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations’ mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." (George H. W. Bush, A World Transformed (1998))

Hmmm, what else? A Patriot Act that threatens the civil liberties of all Americans, pushed through by appealing to fears of terrorism. Gee, weren’t the Republicans the party of smaller, less intrusive government? Wha’ hoppen?

And then there’s that tax cut. Nothing wrong with a tax cut when the budget is balanced after the cut. And I see nothing wrong with a tax cut (in absolute dollars) going mainly to higher bracket taxpayers - after all, they pay more taxes - as long as the percentage reduction is shared by lower bracket folks as well. But to put a tax cut in place and keep it in place in a wartime spending environment? That’s moronic, folks. Bush is saying that we can have our war without any sacrifices - our kids and grandkids can pay for it. Hey, why the hell not?

What about the environment? Aaahh, don’t get me started. Now, I have no problem with our dissing the Kyoto global warming accord, a deeply flawed document that laid a disproportionate share of remediation costs on developed Western economies and gave countries like China a free pass. But pretty much everything else W has done in the environmental area looks bad. Real bad. You’ve basically got an empty henhouse and a bunch of suspiciously chickeny fox turds laying around.

On the church ’n’ state front, I get real nervous around people who talk about government support of faith-based initiatives. Bush talks like someone for whom God is the co-pilot...fine, but what about my God? Whose version of the Ten Commandments gets to sit in the courthouse? Keeping religion out of the public school classroom bothers a lot of people... but when you let religion get into your government, sooner or later, government is gonna get into your religion. And that can be very unpleasant. The Founding Fathers understood this; Chimpy, however, does not.

How ’bout abortion rights and reproductive issues? Again, whatever happened to the old Republican vision of less intrusive government? Now we cut off birth control money to developing nations because they don’t preach abstinence. Presto: more unwanted babies, more pressure for abortions. Whose brilliant idea is that? Stem cell research that could help millions of people living today - people, not embryos - is stymied because of obsession with a specific, narrow religious vision. Who is to say that God did not create a certain embryo in order to help a man with Parkinson’s disease live another few years?

No Child Left Behind. Here’s yet another example of pandering. Test, test, and test some more, but by all means avoid addressing the economic and social inequities that virtually guarantee that some students will have an uphill struggle. Blame the teachers for the combined failures of the students, parents, school administration, society at large, and (yes) the teachers. And then don’t fund it, because the states have all the money, right?

Campaign tactics. Yeah, they’re ugly. But the GOP appears to have taken turd-lobbing to a whole new level. Myself, I wish both Bush and Kerry would focus their campaigns on what they would do during the next four years to improve our economy, safeguard our nation and those of our allies, protect our environment, and educate our children. And when it comes to what the other guy did in Vietnam, or in the National Guard, or... whatever... then just shut the fuck up. That means you, too, Nose Candy Boy.

I will confess that there is one Bush position that I find no fault with: his unabashed, unequivocal support of Israel. Bush seems to understand that Israel is the one country in the Middle East that shares our American values of democracy and the rule of law. He seems to understand that the terrorism Israel faces daily and the terrorism we became so brutally familiar with on 9/11 are facets of the same evil. I’m not convinced Kerry is prepared to be the same stalwart friend to Israel that Bush has shown himself to be. But this is one issue among many, and we must consider the many. It’s likely that this question will give me the most agita as this election proceeds.

OK, rant over for now. Ahh, that feels better. Hey, how’re you gonna vote in November?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just did the Kerry to Bush issue comparison on the environment today, and could not believe how badly Bush did on his 2000 environmental campaign promises. Oy!

mac [peskyapostrophe.com]