Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Final Word

October 28, 2004

I've spent a lot of this semester attacking George Bush and openly pushing my own agenda: change. I've been frank about that, and I've always encouraged my readership to go find out more for themselves, because I can only tell you what I think of what I've seen. You have to read the Taguba Report or the 9/11 Commission Report for yourself to know what you think of what they say and to know when a journalist or politician is misrepresenting their conclusions to support a partisan point. Unless you know the facts, you cannot see the spin. Here are some facts.

Bush's economic policies are crippling, and any economics student knows it. America has the highest deficit ever. Ever. And it's climbing. Bush has cut taxes and increased spending. He continues to borrow money from the Social Security fund. There is no plan to stop this trend, and he justifies it by the fact that we're at war. You know who will pay that? You. Me. Our kids. Through high taxes, cuts in government assistance (e.g. scholarships) or both. Kerry wants to repeal the tax cuts to the wealthy, which will replace a sizeable chunk of the revenue Bush lost. He also intends to reinstitute the "pay-as-you-go" policy that helped lead to the surplus of the late nineties.

But my main complaint is that Bush's administration has been dishonest with the American people at every step of the way. In the wake of 9-11, he had a country as united as it has ever been, and he has used that trust as a partisan bludgeon. Bush misrepresented the number and quality of stem cell lines that would remain available for researchers.

In his prescription drug bill, Bush pushed a private-sector plan that provided less coverage at higher cost than a Medicare plan would have. It was only after Republicans held the vote open for more than three additional hours to wedge the bill through (a theretofore absolutely unheard of procedural irregularity) that they admitted it would cost more than $125 billion more than they had initially claimed. The Republicans have attacked their critics as enemy sympathizers, and now they're regularly disseminating press releases smearing specific reporters by name.

And then of course, there's the dishonesty surrounding every aspect of the war. Bush has lost all credibility with anyone who does not follow him blindly, and I'm sad to say there are enough who do so that this is actually going to be a close race.

And Bush is squelching dissent. I've read of more than a hundred people who have been ejected from Bush rallies for something as simple as a pro-choice shirt or a Kerry-for-President button. One woman, Nicole Rank, actually lost her job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency two days after she and her husband were arrested for trying to attend a Bush rally in anti-Bush shirts. This is another sneaky shot in the publicity war, but this one's actually dangerous. Bush only gets filmed in front of universally supportive audiences, while Theresa Heinz-Kerry gets bad press for telling hecklers who were actually trying to drown her out to "shove it." This is just another example of the politically-motivated violations of free speech Bush has committed.

I cast my vote for John Kerry on Saturday, for those of you wondering, and I still say he'll win unless Bush declares martial law or interferes with the elections. I'd like to close this week with a quote from the great Robert A. Heinlein: "If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong."

Send your election predictions, suggestions, or half-sane rantings to my new address,

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Opinion Potpourri

October 21, 2004

I got a letter from a regular reader who was pretty upset at last week's column. She said that it sounded like I was trying to defend Saddam Hussein, and the gist of Mr. Hargis' piece (to some degree also a response since he was given my column to read before publication) would seem to follow similar lines. I now find myself actually forced to state that my point was not that I think Saddam Hussein seems like a swell guy. My point was that Bush and the rest of the Republican machine cast him as a threat by distorting the truth presented to the American public.

This is the plight in which Bush's spin-doctors have placed the contemporary dissenter: agree with your idiot leader or agree with the murdering terrorists. Sounds like a Catch-22, but I'm living proof that there's a middle ground.

I don't know how many times I can say it: we were lied to. The Republicans have engaged in every scummy, underhanded trick in the book since they took control of the American government, not only fanning the flames of xenophobia in the wake of an extremist attack but also playing havoc with procedural rules to push their agenda (i.e. the Medicare bill). This administration has created a color-coded "alert system" to tell us how afraid to be on any given day!

We are being played like a violin, and I cannot understand how people miss it. I like to think that people are basically intelligent, and the susceptibility of the American populace to this blatant political maneuvering simply astounds me.

I'd also like to address the ridiculous assertion that electing Kerry will somehow make another terrorist attack more likely. There's already a point-by-point set of recommendations from the 9-11 Commission that both candidates have agreed should and will be implemented. Besides, the terrorism fervor has been stoked to such heights that, regardless of who wins the office, the next president will have no choice but to comply with the high security standards the public is demanding, even if he were some sort of maladjusted psychopath bent on terrorist rule.

My editors have chosen an unfortunate time to provide a foil for my libertarian rantings. I have only one column remaining with which to convince you that Bush is the worst thing to happen to America since Nixon, so I must limit my response to Mr. Hargis instead of giving him the rebuttal he so richly deserves. He does an excellent job of tracing the paranoid xenophobic buildup that led to a populace capable of being cowed so easily by a government trying to scare them, but he says little other than that he, too, has been cowed.

Indeed, the ideological threat of the "commies" is quite akin to that of "terrorists" with one important strategic difference: terrorists have no territory to defend, no establishment to protect, no material future that we can attack. Their mission is solely destructive, their territory nonexistent, and as such they make much better bogeymen.

On a side note, the fact that he can say Saddam did anything with "no accountability" strikes me as wildly ironic, and I'm sure Saddam, in whatever U.S.-controlled sleep-deprivation chamber he's being kept, would find it even more so.

People don't like the Ridiculous Rush segment, so you can all start listening to him yourself if you need to keep tabs on just how dumb he is. This is what happens when you mail me at to tell me what you think. And what the hell are "cherry pickers of the truth?"

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Final Word on Iraqi WMDs

October 14, 2004

The grim reaper has come for Bush's presidency, and his name is Charles A. Duelfer. For those of you who missed it, the CIA's special advisor on Iraqi WMDs released his report about a week ago, having found no evidence that Saddam was attempting to construct nukes, bioweapons or chemical warheads. In fact, the Duelfer report pretty much undermines everything the Bush regime has told us about our reasons for going to war. The report reaches the conclusion that everyone already knows: Saddam was biding his time in an attempt to get sanctions lifted, trying to strike a bargain for every concession he made to the United Nations, and hoping to avoid losing face in front of the world. Let's look at some of the more enlightening findings.

After the initial invasion, soldiers found two trailers supposedly intended for use as mobile germ warfare labs, which, in the wake of our failure to find anything we could claim constituted a "weapon of mass destruction," Cheney called the "definitive evidence" of Iraqi duplicity. Duelfer, however, has determined that these trailers were intended for generating hydrogen, exactly as the Iraqis claimed all along, and a British bioweapons expert who inspected them on-site said they didn't even look like germ labs. The report found no evidence of SCUD-variant missiles with a range exceeding the U.N.-mandated limit of 150 km, and it states over and over again that Saddam was awaiting the end of the sanctions (which Bush claims were doing no good) to reconstitute his weapons programs. In his testimony to the Armed Services Committee, Duelfer even pointed out that after the Gulf War in 1991, Saddam's advisers told him he needed to restart his nuclear program and he declined, citing the volatility of Iraq's international relations as a reason to put such plans on hold.

So has Bush been playing politics with something as serious as American lives? Are we perhaps spreading something a little more sinister than freedom and democracy? Well, the report only talks about the facts, leaving domestic political issues to the politicians and pundits, but when we're told a week before war that the country we're about to attack has attempted to buy uranium and then told a week after invasion that this information was a mistake, it looks awfully suspicious. When Pakistani officials hold a press conference to announce an al-Qaeda capture two hours before Kerry's convention speech but at midnight by Pakistan's clock, it looks suspicious, and when the "definitive evidence" of Iraqi wrongdoing turns out to be a hydrogen production facility, it looks suspicious. Hey, I bet it will look even more suspicious when the government produces Osama bin Laden's body in the month right before the election.

This week's "Ridiculous Limbaugh Moment": on Monday, Rush jumped on Kerry for (get this) the name of the band that played at his wedding reception. It seems the band was called the French Millionaires, which is outrageous because.... Well, I think it has something to do with Kerry's bride being wealthy, but I can't remember what convoluted path Rush took to make it offensive. Also, a quote from the show I'd like to share: "Fear can be a motivator. If that's what does it for you, that's good. I want you to be afraid." Rush himself saying he wants to scare you into complying with the Republican agenda. Why, why, why is this man allowed to breathe my air?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Lincoln-Douglas It Ain't

October 7, 2004

I hope those of you wise enough to grab last Thursday's Sauce hot off the presses (looking for your weekly Filler fix, no doubt) were also wise enough to watch the debates. For those of you who missed them, I can't say enough good things about's unflagging coverage of the critical election issues.

The debate was predictable, more photo-op and media frenzy than discussion. I can tell Kerry won, and I've only read the transcripts (my poor computer can't handle C-Span's streaming content). I'm sorry I missed all the nuances of Bush's stupidity, though; can someone tell me if he did that thing where he wiggles his ears when he's confused? Neither candidate supposedly knew the questions in advance, so I know Bush had to be a lot more off-balance than comes across in writing.

The thrust-and-parry was practiced, Kerry using the word "better" more times than I had the patience to count and Bush riding his terrorism hobbyhorse for all it's worth. What I want to talk about this week are the people who threw the party.

The event was put together by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which was established in 1987. It's run by former chairmen of the Republican and Democratic parties and has been responsible for every presidential and vice-presidential debate our generation has been old enough to understand. In fact, the Federal Elections Commission dismissed a complaint, filed by third-party candidates including Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, that the CPD was a partisan organization.

The candidates cited their exclusion from the 2000 debates, which they were not even allowed to attend as audience members, as evidence that the CPD supports the Democrat-Republican agenda and is therefore violating campaign rules by taking the large sums of corporate money that fund its activities. The more attention I pay to this election and the more I information I dig up, the more I begin to understand how we as a nation get collectively suckered.

Something random: I've taken up is listening to snippets of Rush Limbaugh on my way to and from class recently (1450 AM, Christian music by night and conservative propaganda by day as far as I can tell), and I heard him attacking Kerry because he got a haircut and a manicure before the debate. What? Rush actually used the words "primp" and "coiffure." I was flabbergasted, though I suppose I shouldn't have been. As though Bush wasn't rubbed down like a thoroughbred racehorse before the debate! Rush, please, for the good of all America, die soon. Take Michael Moore out in the middle of the ocean in a rowboat, sink it and get eaten by a giant squid. Please. Think of the children.

No e-mail last week! Do I have to tell you that it's okay to use pieces of dead babies to cure Alzheimer's to get some feedback here? Oh, that reminds me! To Beau Boudreaux and other bigots on the subject of gay marriage, I quote again from Brown v. Board of Education: "Separate is inherently unequal." Allowing same-sex couples to marry doesn't hurt anyone, so either make "gay" a psychological disorder again or move on. Write with whatever you have to say.