"All the news that gives me fits"
After enjoying the luxury of minding my own business for eight years under President Clinton, the 2000 election fiasco of George W. Bush shocked me to attention; and when his first acts in office included abandoning landmark environmental and arms control treaties, my repoliticization was complete. Now I'm a news junkie; Norm Chomsky gives me the goosebumps; and I've become one of those people who can't resist a good political debate even when decorum advises against it. I finally built this site so I can spare my friends and spout off to everyone, or no one, as the case may be.
If you've found this site, keep an open mind while you read my opinions in the middle column; then explore the links to the right and form some opinions of your own. Cheers!
© 2004-2010 Arlo Leach, all rights reserved.
Friday, November 19, 2004 at 4:30 pm
It seems like old news, especially now that George W. Bush has his mandate ... sigh ... but remember when we were getting ready to invade Iraq and the President told us our soldiers would be greeted as liberators? Why did anyone believe that? We gave Iraq a huge spanking after their invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and have been bombing, sanctioning, and bad-mouthing them ever since. Human rights groups estimated that 100,000 children died from related causes in those dozen years. And we thought they would be happy to see us marching down their streets in body armor and start running their country for them? Yikes!
Tuesday, November 9, 2004 at 11:15 am
What does it all mean?
Saturday, November 6, 2004 at 9:45 am
My goal in this post-election period is to figure out what my personal response is to the result, and figure out my relationship to politics and current events. I don't think I can stand four more years of news addiction, sitting on the edge of my seat to see what the Republicans will do next. I'm still letting my thoughts and feelings settle, but I've come up with a few options so far:
Thursday, November 3, 2004 at 6:15 pm
Well, it's true, Bush has won reelection. I was teaching last night and wasn't able to catch any news coverage; the one story I would like to hear is why Kerry decided that he wouldn't receive enough votes from uncounted provisional ballots. That seemed worthwhile to me, since one of the uses of provisional ballots, especially with Republican "vote challengers" in Ohio, was to try to disenfranchise minority voters who would disproportionaly favor Kerry. As I would have told the Supreme Court had I been Al Gore's lawyer in 2000, "Delays in the results might taint the legitimacy of an elected official, but not nearly as much as declaring a winner when any question about the result remains."
Wednesday, November 3, 2004 at 10:20 pm
I went to work this morning feeling faintly hopeful and expecting, at any rate, to have a couple weeks of vote counting to prepare myself emotionally for the prospect of four more years of Bush. So I was very cruelly shocked when a coworker casually mentioned that it was over. I immediately opened the browser window with the interactive Associated Press electoral map, and sure enough, Ohio had been marked red. The headline at CNN.com said simply, "Bush wins." Choke. Sob. This is disgusting.
The morning after
Wednesday, November 3, 2004 at 7:20 am
After working and watching from 6 pm, I finally finished my work and was able to concentrate on the election coverage after 10 pm. Unfortunately, a few states were still too close to call at 4 am, when Peter Jennings was too tired to hold onto his microphone or distinguish between Minnesota and Michigan, and I went to bed. Now it's the morning after and the situation is basically the same.
Voting is underway
Tuesday, November 2, 2004 at 2:15 pm
After staying home to meet the furnace repairman this morning, I stepped out to go vote at around 10:30. Someone had left a few Kerry/Edwards stickers on my doorstep, which brought a tear to my eye! I put one on my jacket and left the others for my neighbors.
A scary thought
Tuesday, November 2, 2004 at 2:30 am
Well, this is it -- polls open in Chicago in a few hours. I have to say, I'm pretty scared. I've gotten the impression lately that politics for Democrats is about economic policy, international relations, and other fairly distant ideas, while politics for Republicans is a moral crusade. They're passionate and will do anything to win, while we for the most part have better things to do. Sigh. In about 24 hours we'll see if this theory is accurate.
Causes of 9/11
Sunday, October 31, 2004 at 1:30 pm
I just did a quick Google search on "U.S. support for Israel," and the first site that came up was a detailed analysis of the causes of 9/11, from the Council on Foreign Relations. If "they hate our freedoms" and "their only agenda is death and destruction" seem superficial to you, please browse this site for the full story:
Sunday, October 31, 2004 at 1:20 pm
P.S. Here's more info about the bin Laden tape:
That's what I'm sayin'...
Sunday, October 31, 2004 at 1:15 pm
I had to "I told you so" moments this week. First, Osama bin Laden (who our blustering president still hasn't been able to catch after three years) released a videotape explaining that he ordered attacks on America to protest our support of repressive regimes in the Middle East. See my "Responsibility" post, just a little further down this page.
A contest between nations or states, carried on by force, whether for defence, for revenging insults and redressing wrongs, for the extension of commerce, for the acquisition of territory, for obtaining and establishing the superiority and dominion of one over the other, or for any other purpose; armed conflict of sovereign powers; declared and open hostilities.
Al Qaeda is not a nation, state, or "sovereign power," is not attempting to extend commerce or acquire territory, and is neither carrying out "declared" or "open" hostilities. Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees the difference here.
On a lighter note...
Saturday, October 23, 2004 at 3:00 pm
I just found this link on Michael Moore's website: a short, educational film strip.
Saturday, October 23, 2004 at 3:00 pm
Lest you think I'm soft, or, as Dick Cheney puts it, I "don't understand the global war on terror," I should take another minute to document my opinion on this. I will never condone terrorism -- killing innocent civilians -- or for that matter, killing anyone. But here's what's missing from the whole issue: why were we attacked on 9/11? I heard the explanation on TV once that day, and haven't heard it since. Bin Laden and his cohorts were protesting the American military presence in Saudi Arabia, where we've been propping up an unpopular monarchy for decades in exchange for favorable export deals. I would say that's a fairly legitimate complaint, and makes sense given that that's the home country of bin Laden and half of the 9/11 terrorists. But it's no fun to be criticized, so the explanation for the attack quickly changed: "they hate our freedom," and more recently, "their only agenda is death and destruction." It takes a pretty cynical view of human nature to adopt that explanation, but most people have.
Culture of death
Saturday, October 23, 2004 at 2:45 pm
I found it jarring the first time I saw John Kerry grit his teeth and say, "I will find and KILL terrorists," and he seemed to find it jarring as well. But politics might be the only game where you try to be like the other guy to win. And George W. Bush's dogmatism seems to be pushing everyone in a violent direction. Yesterday's Chicago Tribune featured a front-page photo of Kerry in a camo hunting outfit, carrying a shotgun, while his partner carried a bloody, dead goose. But hey, he has to show that he's as tough as W.
Thursday, October 21, 2004 at 9:25 pm
President Bush has taken every opportunity over the last year or so to scrunch up his face into that little gerbil expression, lower his voice, and tell us that it's his "most solemn duty to protect the American people." That never quite seemed right to me, so I did a little fact-checking and looked up the Presidential Oath of Office:
I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
I think Bush must have gotten hold of the wrong job description at some point. In fact, his most solemn duty is actually to protect the Constitution. Instead, he keeps supporting newer and more restrictive versions of the Patriot Act. Oops!
More advice for Kerry
Tuesday, October 19, 2004 at 9:00 am
John Kerry seems to have made the flu vaccine shortage a focus of his stump speech this week. I don't know ... although there might be some real connections, I feel like the president has less control over the supply of drugs, or the economy, or even individual terrorist attacks. What the president -can- control are the words that come out of his mouth, and the orders that he gives to our military commanders, and I think his failures in those areas would be subjects for much more powerful critiques. Yet Kerry, for all his courage in confronting the president, still hasn't been able to say, "Bush lied," or "Bush put his own interests before those of our troops." I can't imagine that a Republican would hold back, if the tables were turned. Sigh.
Some votes are more equal than others
Tuesday, October 19, 2004 at 8:30 am
There sure has been a lot of talk about "battleground states" this fall, with the media and political campaigns focused intensely on areas that are composed roughly equally of Democrats and Republicans. This is highlighting for me the impact of the electoral college on our political system. If we had direct elections, I think candidates would focus on areas where they are strong -- Kerry in cities like Chicago, Bush in the South -- and strive to build as much support as possible from their strongholds. Instead, both campaigns have to ignore areas where they can assume a victory and pour their resources into areas that could go either way. It's an acknowledgement that the votes of people in these states really do have more impact than others.
Go, fight, win!
Sunday, October 17, 2004 at 11:00 am
One of the funnier moments of Hijacking Catastrophe was the cross-fade from Bush at Ground Zero in 2001, speaking through a megaphone to gathered firefighters there, to Bush at Yale in his college days, encouraging the athletes ... while an interviewee said, "Bush did one of the only things he's really good at: acted as a cheerleader." It's a good point and explains both Bush's popularity, and some of his more peculiar statements about foreign policy. Regarding popularity, he tells Americans what they want to hear and what they need to feel good about themselves, and emotionally savvy folks know that complimenting someone is the best way to make them, in return, appreciate you. Regarding foreign policy, Bush places more emphasis on the appearance of a coalition than the true makeup of a coalition, and acts as if Kerry can weaken it merely by giving a negative assessment of it. Bush is playing the role of a cheerleader, making the troops and underinformed citizens of participating nations feel good about the situation ... but I think what we really need is a coach, who can look honestly at the strengths and weaknesses of a team and make whatever adjustments are needed to lead them to victory.
Sunday, October 17, 2004 at 10:45 am
I don't go to the Music Box Theatre in Chicago often enough, but I went there last night to see the latest in a new genre of "Bush documentaries," Hijacking Catastrophe. My man Noam Chomsky was hard to hear and didn't get much screen time, but as my companion Sally put it, the movie was "less flashy and probably more substantial" than Fahrenheit 911. I found its logical connections easier to follow, and its comparisons to Rome and other historical empires thought-provoking indeed. Best of all, it actually ended with information about what we can do about the problem -- not a very specific call to action, but the narrator's comments about "citizenship" synchronized with images of political protests were a lot better than the typical political commentary that simply leaves one feeling helpless about the problems at hand.
Saturday, October 16, 2004 at 9:30 am
I've been thinking a lot lately about what happens if Kerry wins. And I'm afraid to say it, but I predict that the Republicans will be more fired up than ever, and will further escalate their cultural war in America. I'd love to start relaxing in January and paying attention to my own life again, but that could be a very dangerous mistake.
Weighing the risks
Saturday, October 16, 2004 at 9:15 am
In the third debate this week, Bush responded to Kerry's discussion of his health care plan by saying that "government control of health care would lead to poor quality and rationing." What he didn't say is that the current system leads to 45 million Americans having no health care coverage. Clearly something has to change, and I don't see any reason to believe that the private sector can turn this around.
Accentuate the positive
Saturday, October 16, 2004 at 9:10 am
I mentioned the CNN blogs in my last note. I was just reading the "from the right" blog by Bob Novak, and he said, "By nature, Bush just likes to be positive, and he gets away from attacking Kerry." Hmm! It seems to me that Kerry always attacks policies, but it's Bush who goes in for attacks of character -- questioning Kerry's integrity, honesty, and background. And I've never seen Kerry scowl, smirk, laugh, make side comments, or deliver mocking lines like, "I'm still trying to decipher that." Cheney was guilty of this in the VP debate, too. How do you spell Republican? H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E.
The third debate
Thursday, October 14, 2004 at 12:15 am
I watched the third presidential debate this evening, and found it less interesting than the others -- I'm not sure why. I guess prescription drugs and No Child Left Behind just aren't as immediate as people getting killed in Iraq every day. Anyway, here are some miscellaneous thoughts:
Wednesday, October 13, 2004 at 3:15 am
Just in case anyone hasn't seen this yet ... it's priceless: check out Google's first search result for the phrase "miserable failure."
Wrecking the budget
Wednesday, October 13, 2004 at 3:10 am
According to this article, "Bush said he has the answers to fix the health care system and that he won't wreck the federal budget in doing so." Wait a minute. Didn't he -already- wreck the federal budget? Here's a typical, non-partisan report about that.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004 at 7:40 am
I was in Wisconsin last week -- a swing state! -- and noticed a billboard on the highway for Bush/Cheney, promoting more tax cuts with the slogan, "Because it's -your- money." Hmm ... then whose money have they been spending at unprecedented rates, driving the federal deficit to all-time highs? It must be someone's.
Bush = safety?
Tuesday, October 12, 2004 at 7:30 am
I've heard a lot of people say lately, in one way or another, that Bush is the only president who could keep us safe from terrorists. Let's do a quick fact check: when was the worst terrorist attack in our country's history? Sept. 11, 2001. Who was president at that time? George W. Bush. So how do you figure that we're safest with him?
The reality or the story
Tuesday, October 12, 2004 at 7:15 am
One thing I noticed in the first two presidential debates, and in Bush's speeches since then, is his emphasis on maintaining a positive -story- about a situation rather than fixing the real problem. I'm still trying to figure out how to articulate this. But consider the issue of international support in Iraq. Bush keeps hammering Kerry for his "wrong war, wrong time" quote, saying, "How can you lead a coalition when you talk about the war like that?" What Bush seems to be missing is that everyone knows the war has gone terribly awry, no matter what story you tell. Other countries are going to base their participation not on the story our president makes up about the situation, but on the reality of the situation ... and, perhaps more importantly, on the respect with which we treat them by leveling with them. In short, Bush thinks Kerry is being counterproductive by describing the situation honestly, but I think Bush is being counterproductive by giving more importance to appearances than to truth.
Utter, snarling contempt
Wednesday, October 6, 2004 at 2:30 am
Well, I figured I'd be a completist and watch the Vice Presidential debate this evening. Dick Cheney sure is more articulate than George Bush! But I was floored by the level of contempt he was able to express for his rival. He did soften noticeable after Edwards complimented him on caring for his "gay daughter," and directed his frustration exclusively toward Kerry after that point.
Friday, October 1, 2004 at 12:25 am
Aah, the first presidential debate! With the election now just over a month away. I was pretty nervous throughout the debate broadcast. But they're saying Kerry "won," so now I feel a tiny bit optimistic.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004 at 8:30 pm
I wasn't sure whether to post this here or on my biking website, but I've run across a few articles lately about Bush and Kerry both being cyclists. Here's one that draws some fun conclusions about their leadership styles, based on their choice of bikes. But to see what other cyclists think, check out this analysis of Kerry on his road bike.
Protest is never popular
Tuesday, September 28, 2004 at 2:00 am
According to this CNN poll, supporting a war after dropping out of the military in the middle of your term of service is more admirable than opposing a war after serving valiantly for a full term. Weird.
Thursday, September 23, 2004 at 3:55 am
I saw this on a bumper sticker on a Toyota Prius today: "We're creating enemies faster than we can kill them." It's horrible but true.
Thursday, September 23, 2004 at 3:50 am
I still haven't seen a hint of regret from the Bush Administration over the gruesome beheadings of two American civilians in Iraq. They did make a point, however, to criticize Kerry for looking at "the dark clouds, not the silver lining."
This is winning?
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 at 1:10 am
Another American was beheaded in Iraq today. I hope President Bush doesn't claim to be "winning the war on terror" any time soon.
Tuesday, September 15, 2004 at 11:15 am
I can't believe that the Republican presidential campaign has come this far without any real comparison between Bush's and Kerry's policies. They've managed to keep the discussion almost solely focused on one character trait, Kerry's so-called "flip flopping."
Thursday, September 2, 2004 at 4:00 am
Well, the Republican National Convention is happening this week, and it's just about all my poor stomach can take. I'm annoyed by the way the Republicans act like they own 9/11, although everyone expected as much when they chose New York City as their convention location. I guess you can't blame them -- they wouldn't have much to talk about if it weren't for that issue.
Monday, August 23, 2004 at 11:40 pm
I sure hope this is right!
Tuesday, August 17, 2004 at 1:40 am
If I didn't think it would make me sick to my stomach, I'd order this video and see what the fuss is about:
Tuesday, August 17, 2004 at 1:35 am
I started reading Gore Vidal's book Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace today, and was amused by this passage: "Bush, father and son, may yet make it to Mount Rushmore though it might be cheaper to redo
Monday, August 2, 2004 at 2:15 am
Every time I read a Bush vs. Kerry poll, it ends with the same ominous conclusion: "Only when the choices included independent candidate Ralph Nader did Bush edge Kerry by 2%." Nader ran for president in 2000 promising to fix a flawed election process that makes third-party candidacies practically impossible ... instead, he seems intent on participating in that same process, and dragging us all toward the same result: four more years of Bush. How can we stop this guy? Visit these sites to find out more: http://www.dontvoteralph.net, http://www.stopnader.com, http://www.notnader.com.
Basic financial planning
Monday, July 12, 2004 at 7:30 pm
Yard signs are already up in my neighborhood celebrating a new property tax cap that Chicago homeowners bullied the state government into passing today. I'm no economics expert, but I do work with a personal financial planner, and his advice is usually along these lines: "You've got to increase your income," or "You've got to decrease your spending." I can't imagine ever visiting him and hearing the advice, "You've got to decrease your income!" Cutting or capping taxes before solving our government budget problems amounts to the same thing. I guess the next bit of advice would have to be, "Just put it all on a credit card!" No, I don't think I'll ever hear that, from any responsible party.
100 pennies on the dollar
Monday, July 12, 2004 at 7:15 pm
Okay, this isn't political, but it did make me wonder. While approaching the El station after work, someone always steps forward to try to sell me a stolen newspaper or ask for a free train pass. Today, however, someone held out a roll of pennies and asked me to trade him for a dollar bill. I just can't imagine the motivation behind this scheme. Is he counterfeiting pennies? Rolling up 99 and making a one-cent profit on each transaction? Or perhaps he just found a bunch of discarded rolls that nobody wanted; I sure can't seem to get rid of them fast enough.
Liberals and trial lawyers
Monday, July 5, 2004 at 9:45 pm
The latest bit of negative campaigning, direct from an official Republican National Committee statement, describes Kerry's VP pick, John Edwards, as a "disingenuous, unaccomplished liberal and friend to personal injury trial lawyers." Aside from the fact that a blue-collar Southern boy who became a self-made millionaire and eventually won a Senate seat sounds pretty accomplished to me, the Republicans' skill for controlling language once again leaves me breathless. "Liberal" has been widely regarded as a slanderous word for over a decade already, but now suddenly we're all supposed to scowl in disgust when someone is accused of being a "personal injury trial lawyer" (or even friends with one!). I can only hope that if I'm ever hit by a drunk driver while riding my bike, and my only chance at justice is to sue, there will still be someone willing to put up with this nasty Republican name-calling and represent me.
The Saudi Empire
Saturday, June 27, 2004 at 4:30 pm
I saw Fahrenheit 911 this weekend. I was rather surprised by how heavily it made the "war is immoral" message, since the trailer seemed to focus on the "Bush is an idiot" message. But one thing I'm sorry it didn't say clearly enough is why our ties to the Saudi Arabian government are so strong: they need us as badly as we need them. As I learned from The Prize by Pulitzer winner Daniel Yergen, the Saudi Arabian government is an unpopular, totalitarian monarchy precariously held in power by the United States in return for decades of favorable oil concessions. It kind of makes all of President Bush's speeches about removing Saddam ("the evil Dictator") and democratizing the Middle East seem a bit silly, doesn't it?
Friday, June 25, 2004 at 10:30 pm
Dick Cheney tells a Democratic Congressman to "f--- off," then repeats a favorite Republican campaign slogan -- that his rival failed to engage in "a substantive debate over important substantive policy issues." Do these people even listen to their own words?
Thursday, June 17, 2004 at 10:15 pm
I was just remembering how badly Dennis Kucinich was roasted during the primaries for advocating a withdrawal from the unpopular NAFTA and WTO treaties. How irresponsible and reckless, the Republican opposition would say, to back out of our international obligations. This from the same party who unapologetically withdrew from key environmental and nuclear arms control treaties during its first few months in office. Oh, the hypocrisy!
Monday, June 14, 2004 at 7:30 pm
Every time a journalist says the phrase, "interim Iraqi government," I wish they would preface it with the qualifier, "U.S. appointed." Doesn't a report like "Today the interim Iraqi government agreed that U.S. troops would remain indefinitely" have a different ring to it than, "Today the U.S. appointed interim Iraqi government agreed that U.S. troops would remain indefinitely"? (I could make the same quip about Iraq's new foreign investment laws, but those were decided by the U.S. directly, before we appointed the interim government.)
Conservatism is undemocratic
Saturday, June 12, 2004 at 9:45 pm
I've learned that one of the basic tenets of conservatism is an inherent distrust of government and a desire, as much as possible, to dismantle it. This might make sense in other countries, but isn't our government "of the people"? If you believe that, then I think you have to accept that the direction the government takes reflects the wishes of at least some (and theoretically a majority) of its constituents. Either that, or the government is broken, in which case I think the correct approach would be to fix it (probably by removing lobbyists and advancing campaign finance reform and doing other things that conservatives typically don't like). But to simply try dismantling our "government of the people" either reveals an attempt to undermine the wishes of the majority, or a basic disbelief in democratic theory. In either case, I can't understand how conservatives who hold this anti-government view can ever claim to be protectors of the Constitution.
Links du Jour
Friday, June 4, 2004 at 12:30 am
I haven't had much time for ranting in the last few weeks, but here's something that jumped out at me today. After the country marked the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, George W. Bush proved he suffers from delusions of grandeur by comparing that war, which resulted in over 60 million casualties worldwide and helped shape the political and technological world we know today, with his own "war on terrorism."
Your neighbor called...
Tuesday, May 11, 2004 at 8:40 pm
A friend from Canada emailed today: "Has everybody down there gone nuts? Just stop killing and maiming people for Christ's sake! What's hard to understand about that?"
Anatomy of righteousness
Monday, May 10, 2004 at 11:30 pm
Whoa! This is one of the most liberal articles I've ever read in such a mainstream publication as Time. Was this in the print edition, too? Check it out:
Friday, May 7, 2004 at 1:00 pm
When Democrats attack our foreign policy, Republicans often respond that we should keep our national debates private and present a united front to the rest of the world. Generally, I agree with that. However, as everyone tears into Donald Rumsfeld this week over the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, I have to say that it's probably in our best national security interests to show vocal opposition to the Republican administration's war policies. After all, the only thing that allows Americans to travel relatively safely abroad is that citizens of other countries make a conscious distinction between our people and our government. If we can help them see a distinction between the brutal, militaristic half of our government and the reasonable, productive half, so much the better.
I share a country with these people?
Tuesday, May 4, 2004 at 1:45 am
While looking something up tonight, I happened to run across this scary site. If you'd like to purchase a t-shirt with a pugilistic slogal like "Peace Through Superior Firepower" or "Give War a Chance" -- or if you'd just like a reminder of what kind of people actually put our utterly compassionless leaders into power -- check it out.
Economics is not a science
Monday, May 3, 2004 at 6:45 pm
Every time I hear conservatives claiming that tax cuts are helping our economy, then hear liberals claiming that tax cuts our bankrupting our government, I have to conclude that nobody really knows how the economy works. I mean, everyone has their theories, but the theories are apparently and understandably impossible to test. And if you can't test your theories ... well, I'd say that's closer to a religion than a science.
Monday, May 3, 2004 at 8:20 am
One reason I always preferred John Kerry over Howard Dean is that Dean bought fully into the Republican's "war on terror" rhetoric. Kerry, fortunately, uses truly descriptive language to describe his ideas -- like increasing port security and funding local emergency services -- rather than unwittingly reinforcing a linguistic bugaboo whose lack of definition provides a cover for a truly frightening conservative agenda.
Making a difference
Sunday, May 2, 2004 at 6:30 pm
I've been haunted by a story I heard on Air America Radio this weekend about the use of depleted uranium in Iraq, including first-hand accounts from an Australian doctor who worked in civilian hospitals there. After she expressed disbelief that we've been causing cancer and birth defects for Iraqi children for 12 years now without much public concern, the show's hosts digressed into a discussion of how we can all turn our backs to these atrocities committed in our name.
Life in Iraq
Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 7:45 pm
I heard a story on NPR today about U.S. Army snipers working in Iraq. It made much of the fact that one sniper had "25 confirmed kills" without one "error." Umm ... can you imagine for a moment what it's like living in Iraq right now, with foreign soldiers (that would be us) hiding on top of buildings with high-powered rifles picking off suspected terrorists and trying not to kill too many civilians? It's unbelievable that we can gloss over a situation like that. What a sick world this is.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004 at 10:25 pm
I'm afraid I agree with one criticism of the Democrats, that they're engaging in negative campaigning. Although this is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black -- the Democrats are still years behind the Republicans in this area -- I do wish that Kerry and company could focus more on what they can offer rather than on how Bush has failed. After all, if Bush didn't have this complaint to repeat at every opportunity, his platform would basically be reduced to lowering taxes and winning the "war on terror," and he wouldn't be able to strike the "make him stop picking in me!" pity pose that basically won the Bush/Gore debates in 2000.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004 at 10:15 pm
I received an email message today about work underway in Congress to reinstate the draft. It's understandable that voluntary enlistments are down now that the government is cutting benefits and extending overseas tours. But I wonder if we could get away with a smaller military if we'd try to act like good global citizens and stop making enemies all around the world? Hmm. Too easy.
Victims from every corner of the world
Saturday, April 17, 2004 at 8:35 am
Spain is following through on its announcement to pull troops out of Iraq, and other countries are reconsidering their involvement, as well. I say good for them. Why should countries like Thailand and El Salvador, who have limited resources and pressing problems at home, send their best young men thousands of miles to die in the Middle East for the sake of our government's oil obsession? President Bush's "coalition of the willing" is largely coerced, mostly symbolic, and entirely sad when you consider its victims.
The power of words
Thursday, April 15, 2004 at 8:10 pm
Besides their shamelessness about aiming straight for the pocketbook, I'd say that the Republicans' most powerful weapon is their uncanny ability to select words and phrases that blind people to alternate viewpoints. During his 2000 campaign, for example, one of Bush's favorite phrases was "tax relief" -- a memorable idea that caught on despite the fact that Americans already pay lower taxes and have far more disposable income than citizens of any other first world country. Similarly, Bush has been able to discredit the judicary's constitutional role in settling controversial legal matters by throwing around the term "activist judges" whenever they hold their ground against conservative attacks on civil liberties. Oh, and how about "class warfare" to describe the logical notion that people with more money can afford to pay more in taxes?
There's a sellout born every minute
Thursday, April 8, 2004 at 9:45 pm
Last night I grabbed a book and settled into a booth at my favorite Mexican restaurant, but I soon got distracted by a pair of young women who sat down in the next booth. After exchanging a bit of small talk, they moved on to politics, and the first phrase that caught my attention was, "I don't like Bush, but there's a lot I could do with some more money in my pocket." Argh! Have the Republican TV ads emphasizing Bush's give-back-money-we-don't-have tax plans been that successful? "All Kerry wants to do is raise taxes," she continued. Yep, I bet he's really driven by that goal. To an answer from her friend about what kind of policy she would recommend, she replied with an answer that was so pat she could have been reading from a script: "Flat tax! Why punish people for being successful?" Indeed. And why bother with little details like a balanced budget?
I detect an inconsistency here
Friday, March 12, 2004 at 10:45 pm
By the way, these are the same conservative leaders who say that participating in the United Nations means giving up our national sovereignty; they're also the same leaders who willingly subjugate our court system to that of the World Trade Organization. I guess the message here is that it's wrong for a government to do what its citizens want, but it's right to do what its largest corporations want.
Liberating the Spanish people
Friday, March 12, 2004 at 8:05 pm
After the Madrid train bombings, conservative leaders are calling the Spanish government cowards and "appeasers" because they want to pull out of Iraq. I say they're finally acting like a democracy and respecting the wishes of the Spanish people, 95% of whom opposed Spanish involvement in Iraq when the U.S. was looking for war allies a year ago. Representative government -- what a concept!
CNN – Relatively unbiased for the mainstream…
BBC – …but there's nothing like getting outside of your own country for a bigger picture.
Michael Moore – His "must read" section is pretty addictive.
Truthout – A good collection of dissident journalism.
MoveOn.org – The Republicans are trying to shut them up, but this is a truly democratic organization.
Northern Sun Merchandising – Wear your values on your sleeve! Or jacket or backpack.
Noam Chomsky – Give him an hour and he'll change the way you see the world.