wytw4y "I think this is a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America." - BILL MOYERS rhtrjhejhjd
"This junta that is governing us, this Enron/Pentagon junta, dedicated only to enrichment through the oil business, as all the Bushes and Cheneys and so on are oil people, they are going to destroy, for personal profit, the United States. We are going to be destroyed by the hatred of the rest of the world." - GORE VIDAL
"I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d'etat imaginable. " - KURT VONNEGUT
"I think of them as an alien army. They have managed to take over everything, and quite in the open. We have a deranged president. We have despotism. We have no due process." - GORE VIDAL
"...This is the most corrupt and racist American administration in over 80 years." He said: "Some US journalist came up to me and said: 'How can you say this about President Bush?' Well, I think what I said then was quite mild. I actually think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction." - KEN LIVINGSTONE, the MAYOR of LONDON
"I think this is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history. " - GEORGE AKERLOF, NOBEL PRIZE WINNER IN ECONOMICS
"... this is a dangerous condition for any representative democracy to find itself in. The tight control of information, as well as the dissemination of misleading information and outright falsehoods, conjures up a disturbing image of a very different kind of society. Democracies are not well-run nor long-preserved with secrecy and lies." - WALTER CRONKITE
"... Today many people are rightly concerned about our precious individual freedoms, our privacy, the basis of our democracy. Of course we must fight terrorism, but have we irresponsibly gone overboard in doing so? I wonder. In 1960, President Eisenhower told the Republican convention, "If ever we put any other value above (our) liberty, and above principle, we shall lose both." - JOHN EISENHOWER
"...The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good." - GARRISON KEILLOR
"...And when you've been around the world and seen what the lack of freedom produces, you're going to take it personally when someone violates it, it, or when it's threatened---which I think it now is--- and you just get crazy, and you say, 'C'mon, surely someone's going to see thru this'." - ROBERT REDFORD
"It's as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam. The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul." - HELEN THOMAS
"I am more fearful for the state of this nation than I have ever been -- because this country is in the hands of an evil man: Dick Cheney. It is eminently clear that it is he who is running the country, not George W. Bush." - ELMER L. ANDERSON, former Minnesota governor and lifelong Republican -- until now.
"I think that right now we are in one of the most dangerous periods in our existence. Not since the Civil War has the state of our democracy been so doubtful. " - WALTER CRONKITE
"To say that the [Bush-Cheney] secret presidency is undemocratic is an understatement. I'm anything but skittish about government, but I must say this administration is truly scary and, given the times we live in, frighteningly dangerous. " - Former Nixon White House counsel JOHN DEAN
"We don't want this foolish, ignorant, and dangerous man in our country. " - Labor MP GEORGE GALLOWAY on Bush's UK Visit
"The US is really beyond reason now. It is beyond our imagining to know what they are going to do next and what they are prepared to do. There is only one comparison: Nazi Germany." - HAROLD PINTER
"...an administration of liars and murderers, who curse us because we stand in the way of their tyranny, who curse us because we stand in the way of their unholy and brutal agenda, an administration whose villainy and greed is insatiable. We stand at this threshold of history, and say to them, not in our names, not in our names!" - DANNY GLOVER
"We will export death and violence to the four corners of the Earth in defense of our great nation." - GEORGE W. BUSH
"One power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust." - NELSON MANDELA
dbfbdsdfbvs (Click on the name or article links below for complete interviews)
"I think this is a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America."
"It is the most radical assault on the notion of one nation, indivisible, that has occurred in our lifetime".
Recalling the populism and old-school progressivism of the era in which William Jennings Bryan stirred the Democratic National Convention of 1896 to enter into the great struggle between privilege and democracy -- and to spontaneously nominate the young Nebraskan for president -- journalist and former presidential aide Bill Moyers delivered a call to arms against "government of, by and for the ruling corporate class."
Condemning "the unholy alliance between government and wealth" and the compassionate conservative spin that tries to make "the rape of America sound like a consensual date," Moyers charged that "rightwing wrecking crews" assembled by the Bush Administration and its Congressional allies were out to bankrupt government. Then, he said, they would privatize public services in order to enrich the corporate interests that fund campaigns and provide golden parachutes to pliable politicians. If unchecked, Moyers warned, the result of these machinations will be the dismantling of "every last brick of the social contract."
--From the speech at TAKE BACK AMERICA: "This is Your Story - The Progressive Story of America. Pass It On...", June 4, 2003. A must-read at: http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0609-10.htm
"... What's emerged full-blown is the military-industrial complex famously predicted and feared by President Eisenhower fifty years ago. It's no longer possible to tell where the corporate world ends and government begins. "..."These fellows are all honorable men, I am sure, but they call for war with all the ferocity of non-combatants and then turn around and feed on the corpse of war. Illegal? Not in our system. Unsavory? No matter how you slice it. But the main point is this. America's corporate and political elites now form a regime of their own, and they are privatizing democracy."
- From "Bill Moyers on Money, Politics and War" (From PBS' BILL MOYERS' NOW)
"I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d'etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka "Christians," and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or "PPs."And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom* and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country, and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them?
And so many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick. What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can't. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody's telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!
- From "Kurt Vonnegut Vs. the !*!@", In These Times
Looking back at the past three years reveals a pattern of secrecy and of dishonesty in the service of secrecy. Some New Yorkers felt they had been lied to following the horrific collapse of the World Trade Center towers. Proposed warnings by the Environmental Protection Agency -- that the air quality near ground zero might pose health hazards -- were watered down or deleted by the White House and replaced with the reassuring message that the air was safe to breathe.
One sometimes gets the impression that this administration believes that how it runs the government is its business and no one else's. It is certainly not the business of Congress. And if it's not the business of the people's representatives, it's certainly no business of yours or mine.
But this is a dangerous condition for any representative democracy to find itself in. The tight control of information, as well as the dissemination of misleading information and outright falsehoods, conjures up a disturbing image of a very different kind of society.
Democracies are not well-run nor long-preserved with secrecy and lies.
- "Secrets and Lies Becoming Commonplace", April 3, 2004
"...And this is more and more my view of the American people in general. They've allowed an election to be stolen in November 2000. They made no fuss. We have perpetual war for perpetual peace. We have the Enemy-of-the-Month Club: one month it's Noriega, one month it's Saddam Hussein, one month it's Khadafy, currently it's Osama bin Laden. . .
MARC COOPER: "....Or is this really just one more rather corrupt and foolish Republican administration?"
GORE VIDAL:: "No. We are talking about despotism. The USA PATRIOT Act is as despotic as anything Hitler came up with - even using much of the same language. The Founding Fathers would have found this to be despotism in spades. And they would have hanged anybody who tried to get this through the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Hanged."
"...So there we are, embarked upon a great adventure, with one billion Moslems hating us, and the contempt of all of Europe, the hatred of most of Latin America -- for very good reason, we can't blame that on George W. Bush, we've had two hundred years to make them hate us down there. And we're making trouble in China, we're looking forward to a war in China. If I could find a way to get to the American people and say, "This junta that is governing us, this Enron/Pentagon junta, dedicated only to enrichment through the oil business, as all the Bushes and Cheneys and so on are oil people, they are going to destroy, for personal profit, the United States. We are going to be destroyed by the hatred of the rest of the world."
"I think of them as an alien army. They have managed to take over everything, and quite in the open. We have a deranged president. We have despotism. We have no due process."
Full Bio at: PBS' American Masters
John Eisenhower, lifelong Republican, and son of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, served on the White House staff between October 1958 and the end of the Eisenhower administration. From 1961 to 1964 he assisted his father in writing "The White House Years," his Presidential memoirs. He served as American ambassador to Belgium between 1969 and 1971. He is the author of nine books, largely on military subjects.
"Today many people are rightly concerned about our precious individual freedoms, our privacy, the basis of our democracy. Of course we must fight terrorism, but have we irresponsibly gone overboard in doing so? I wonder. In 1960, President Eisenhower told the Republican convention, "If ever we put any other value above (our) liberty, and above principle, we shall lose both." I would appreciate hearing such warnings from the Republican Party of today.
The Republicans used to be deeply concerned for the middle class and small business. Today's Republican leadership, while not solely accountable for the loss of American jobs, encourages it with its tax code and heads us in the direction of a society of very rich and very poor.
As son of a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is automatically expected by many that I am a Republican. For 50 years, through the election of 2000, I was. With the current administration's decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry."
world peace, says Mandela
Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- Former South African president Nelson Mandela has slammed the U.S. stance on Iraq, saying that "one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust."
On Afghanistan, Mr Mandela said that US support for the mujahideen (including Osama Bin Laden) against the Soviet Union and its refusal to work with the United Nations after the Soviet withdrawal led to the Taleban taking power.
He said that the United States' backing for a coup by the Shah of Iran in 1953 had led to that country's Islamic revolution in 1979.vdssvasv
"If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace," he said.
It is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America," he said. The former South African leader made it clear that the only member of the Bush team he respects is Colin Powell.
He called Mr. Cheney a "dinosaur" and an "arch-conservative" who does not want Mr Bush "to belong to the modern age." Mr. Mandela recalled that Mr. Cheney had been opposed to his release from prison.
(Constitutional scholar and Former Nixon White House counsel )
"We have a presidency that has found that governing by fear is a lot easier. They have managed to keep the terror in terrorism. They've done nothing to educate the American people about these issues, they've made them worse rather than better, they've exploited the tragedy and the travesty, and to me, that--the reason that's at the end of the book because this is, -- this is-these are the secrets that are going to really potentially threaten democracy and take the air out of democracy, if you will."
"... But this is what is far more troublesome to me: I open and close the book with the fact that Bush and Cheney could take the air out of democracy. That is what truly worries me. And since no one is discussing their obsessive secrecy and its dangerous implications, I decided I had to write this book, and do my best to get it before the American people before November 2004. They must decide if they want a situation that is worse than Watergate."
(the Mayor of London)
Bush is just about everything that is repellent in politics... You have got this super-patriotic
was a coward
country was actually involved in a war and has the most venal and corrupt
administration since President Harding in the 20s. He is not a legitimate president... This really is a completely unsupportable
and I look
forward to it being overthrown as much as I looked forward to
Saddam Hussein being overthrown. - BBC,
Thursday, 8 May, 2003
George Bush and the "right-wing neo-con establishment" have promoted a "clash of civilisations" between Muslims and the West, Ken Livingstone has said. - BBC, 12 September 2003
recalled a visit at Easter to California, where he was denounced
for an attack he had made on what he called "the most corrupt
and racist American administration in over 80 years". He said: "Some US
journalist came up to me and said: 'How can you say this about
President Bush?' Well, I think what I said then was quite mild.
think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet
that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating
will doom us to extinction." - The UK Independent, 18 November
On the Charlie Rose show. Listen to the interview online at (the last 5 minutes are on politics) at: http://www.charlierose.com/ Show Date: 4/30/200
CHARLIE ROSE: "I see in you a cynicism, a skepticism about power".
"When we're given these slogans all our lives about the importance of democracy & democratic ideals, the role of the constitution in our lives, and so forth, well, that's the way I grew up. I grew up I a very American household during the second world war when jingoism was a big deal. And I see these slogans (about protecting freedom) and the discrepancy between them and their actions, the hypocrisy.
And when you've been around the world and seen what the lack of freedom produces, you're going to take it personally when someone violates it, or when it's threatened----which I think it now is---and you just get crazy, and you say, 'C'mon, surely someone's going to see thru this'. But when they don't, you say to yourself, "OK what role can I play in this, what can I do to get another message out there?' And therefore you speak out against it, and simply say, 'look--- here's another version of what you're being fed with a big corporate spoon, on a daily basis, from the bully pulpit of an administration'.
Who are these people? Let's look at what is behind every move they make. Every single one of them, almost every one of them, have made their fortunes from the oil & gas interests. So what do we expect to get from them?
So that's the role I play, and we all should, to use art, or your own voice to simply say "This is not the truth." You deserve better, you deserve to get the truth, to get a certain kind of information, and we're not getting it".
Unfortunately, we are governed by people for whom time stopped shortly after World War II. They are blind and deaf to the changes of the past 50 years."
(Oldest and longest-running member of the White House Press Corp)
11/12/02 - Veteran journalist Helen Thomas brought the grit and whir of a White House press conference to Bartos Theater on Monday evening, speaking with passion about the media's role in a democracy whose leaders seem eager for war.
Actually, the 82-year-old former United Press International reporter didn't just speak: she surged into her topic, giving everyone present an immediate sense of the grumpy wit and fierce precision that gave her reporting on American presidents Kennedy through Bush II such a competitive and lasting edge.
"I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter," said Thomas, who is now a columnist for Hearst News Service. "Now I wake up and ask myself, 'Who do I hate today?'" Her short list of answers seems not to vary from war, President Bush, timid office-holders, a muffled press and cowed citizens, pretty much in that order.
Winston Churchill, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Louis Brandeis, George Santayana, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. all made appearances in Thomas' sweeping portrayal of what she sees as the administration's betrayal of both the character and will of the American people and the principles of democracy.
"I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war. Bush's policy of pre-emptive war is immoral - such a policy would legitimize Pearl Harbor. It's as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam," she said to enthusiastic applause.
"Where is the outrage?" she demanded. "Where is Congress? They're supine! Bush has held only six press conferences, the only forum in our society where a president can be questioned. I'm on the phone to [press secretary] Ari Fleischer every day, asking will he ever hold another one? The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul."
Thomas' mood became visibly more somber at the mention of Ronald Reagan's military buildup and at the name Bush. Again and again, Thomas warned the MIT audience, "It's bombs away for Iraq and on our civil liberties if Bush and his cronies get their way.
Dissent is patriotic!"
"We stand here because our right to dissent and our right to be participants in a true democracy has been hijacked by an administration of liars and murderers, who curse us because we stand in the way of their tyranny, who curse us because we stand in the way of their unholy and brutal agenda, an administration whose villainy and greed is insatiable. We stand at this threshold of history, and say to them, not in our names, not in our names!" - Speaking at a New York City Peace rally, 02-16-03 "The World Says No to War!", Democracy Now television/radio "Tens of millions of people took to the streets over the weekend in some 600 cities around the world..."
Arch Conservative Dick Armey leaves House with call for freedom
Thursday, December 5, 2002
"Personal liberty is critically important, and it should be important to all of us, irrespective of party affiliation, or even philosophy," Armey said, explaining his battles with Bush over the USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the new Homeland Security department. "That's the essence of America to me, more than any other thing. What makes us unique in the history of the world is our devotion to personal liberty."
Armey said it was his belief that personal liberty must be protected -- even as the nation wages its fight against terrorists -- that caused him to insist that many of the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act expire, unless Congress votes again to allow them. And that belief spurred him to fight -- often successfully -- Attorney General John Ashcroft's controversial efforts to increase domestic spying of American citizens.'
Harold Pinter is a "Leading middle and late twentieth century dramatist: actor, director, playwright, screen writer, poet, critic, and political activist. Pinter has received many awards, including the Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear in 1963, BAFTA awards in 1965 and in 1971, the Hamburg Shakespeare Prize in 1970, the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or in 1971, and the Commonwealth Award in 1981. He was awarded a CBE in 1966, but he later turned down John Major's offer of a knighthood. In 1996 he was given the Laurence Olivier Award for a lifetime's achievement in the theatre. In 2002 he was made a Companion of Honour for services to literature. Full bio at: http://www.haroldpinter.org/biography/index.shtml
In conversation on stage with Michael Billington, the Guardian's theatre critic, Pinter said the US government was the most dangerous power that had ever existed. The playwright said: "The US is really beyond reason now. It is beyond our imagining to know what they are going to do next and what they are prepared to do. There is only one comparison: Nazi Germany.
Pinter blamed "millions of totally deluded American people" for not staging a mass revolt. He said that because of propaganda and control of the media, millions of Americans believed that every word Mr Bush said was "accurate and moral". The US population could not be let off scot-free for putting the country under the control of an "illegally elected president - in other words, a fake".
He asked: "What objections have there been in the US to Guantanamo Bay? At this very moment there are 700 people chained, padlocked, handcuffed, hooded and treated like animals. It is actually a concentration camp. "I haven't heard anything about the US population saying: ' We can't do this, we are Americans.' Nobody gives a damn. And nor does Tony Blair." Pinter added: "Blair sees himself as a representative of moral rectitude. He is actually a mass murderer. But we forget that - we are as much victims of delusions as Americans are."
"Loyalty to my country: always. Loyalty to my government: when it deserves it."
"I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its tal
ons on any other land."
Read MARK TWAIN'S WAR PRAYER and Battle Hymn of the Republic
NPR Boston February 12, 2003
There it was. Big as life.
A full-page ad in The New York Times signed by 450 U.S. economists,
including 10 Nobel Prize winners, all lined up in adamant
opposition to the tax cuts at the heart of George W. Bush's economic
This is not a stimulus plan, said the economists. It's radical tax reform that will starve the government, fuel massive deficits, croak Social Security, destroy investment in schools and health and drive up economic inequailty.
It is, said one Nobel winner, "a weapon of mass destruction aimed at the middle class."
READ THEIR STATEMENT in PDF format at:
GEORGE AKERLOF NOBEL PRIZE WINNER In ECONOMICS
What we have here is a form of looting. I think this is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history. It has engaged in extraordinarily irresponsible policies not only in foreign and economic but also in social and environmental policy. This is not normal government policy. Now is the time for people to engage in civil disobedience.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Of what kind?
AKERLOF: I don't know yet. But I think it's time to protest - as much as possible.
JOSEPH STIGLITZ NOBEL PRIZE WINNER In ECONOMICS
"Perhaps the best known is Joseph Stiglitz, who was the World Bank's chief economist. Stiglitz is putting the finishing touches to a searing critique of Dubyanomics.
Joseph Stiglitz: ''There's no economic evidence in favour of these Reagan supply-siders.They talk a free-market ideology but, if you look at their politics in terms of bailouts and protectionism,* it is not a free-market policy; if you look at their procurement agenda and what they did with Bechtel in Iraq, it doesn't even look like a fair competition agenda. So you have to sort of suspect an element of ideology but more an element of particular groups seizing control.
'It is not just that they do not pay much attention to it but they are positively engaged in increasing inequality,' says Stiglitz.
* - "They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest." - From "The Danger of American Fascism by Henry A Wallace, The New York Times, 1944
GENE SPERLING NOBEL PRIZE WINNER In ECONOMICS
director of the Center on Universal Education at the Council on
Foreign Relations and former director of the National Economic
Council, said the Bush administration had promoted its millionaire
tax cuts on the pretext of stimulating jobs.
But instead of producing jobs, Sperling said, the cuts were helping to turn an expected $369 billion fiscal year 2004 federal budget surplus into a $475 billion deficit for that year and squandering money needed to shore up Social Security and Medicare.
"This administration, by leaving us long-term projections of high deficits, is taking away our country's ability at a future time to deal with crises," Sperling said.
PAUL KRUGMAN PRINCETON ECONOMIST, NY TIMES COLUMNIST
"It governs like there's no tomorrow." "Everything we know suggests that Mr. Bush's people have given as little thought to running America after the election as they gave to running Iraq after the fall of Baghdad. And they will have no idea what to do when things fall apart." -"Looting the Future, by Paul Krugman. Originally published in The New York Times, 12.5.03
W. Bush is like a man who tells you that he's bought you a fancy
new TV set for Christmas, but neglects to tell you that he charged
it to your credit card, and that while he was at it he also used
the card to buy some stuff for himself...." "...Will
someone be able to find the political sweet spot, the combination
of fiscal responsibility and electoral smarts that brings the looting to an end? The future of the nation depends on the
-The Sweet Spot by Paul Krugman. Originally published in The New York Times, 10.17.03
.... "The Republicans used to be deeply concerned for the middle class and small business. Today's Republican leadership, while not solely accountable for the loss of American jobs, encourages it with its tax code and heads us in the direction of a society of very rich and very poor."
"... in 1982, just before the Reagan-Bush "supply side" tax cut, the average wealth of the Forbes 400 (people) was $200 million. Just four years later, their average wealth was $500 million each, aided by massive tax cuts. Today, those 400 people own wealth equivalent to one-eighth of the entire gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States." / - "Healthcare Reveals Real "Conservative" Agenda-- -- Drown Democracy In A Bathtub", by Thom Hartmann / "...between 1973 and 2000 the average real income of the bottom 90 percent of American taxpayers actually fell by 7 percent. Meanwhile, the income of the top 1 percent rose by 148 percent, the income of the top 0.1 percent rose by 343 percent and the income of the top 0.01 percent rose 599 percent. " / - "The Death of Horatio Alger", by Paul Krugman / " The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good." / - "We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore", by Garrison Keillor, In These Times, 26 August 2004 (below) //
Go to Original
It is important from time to time to remember that some things are worth getting mad about.
Here's one: On March 10 of this year, on page B8, with a headline that stretched across all six columns, The New York Times reported that tuition in the city's elite private schools would hit $26,000 for the coming school year -- for kindergarten as well as high school. On the same page, under a two-column headline, Michael Wineraub wrote about a school in nearby Mount Vernon, the first stop out of the Bronx, with a student body that is 97 percent black. It is the poorest school in the town: nine out of ten children qualify for free lunches; one out of 10 lives in a homeless shelter. During black history month this past February, a sixth grader wanted to write a report on Langston Hughes. There were no books on Langston Hughes in the library -- no books about the great poet, nor any of his poems. There is only one book in the library on Frederick Douglass. None on Rosa Parks, Josephine Baker, Leontyne Price, or other giants like them in the modern era. In fact, except for a few Newberry Award books the librarian bought with her own money, the library is mostly old books -- largely from the 1950s and 60s when the school was all white. A 1960 child's primer on work begins with a youngster learning how to be a telegraph delivery boy. All the workers in the book -- the dry cleaner, the deliveryman, the cleaning lady -- are white. There's a 1967 book about telephones which says: "when you phone you usually dial the number. But on some new phones you can push buttons." The newest encyclopedia dates from l991, with two volumes -- "b" and "r" -- missing. There is no card catalog in the library -- no index cards or computer.
Something to get mad about.
Here's something else: Caroline Payne's face and gums are distorted because her Medicaid-financed dentures don't fit. Because they don't fit, she is continuously turned down for jobs on account of her appearance. Caroline Payne is one of the people in David Shipler's new book,' The Working Poor: Invisible in America'. She was born poor, and in spite of having once owned her own home and having earned a two-year college degree, Caroline Payne has bounced from one poverty-wage job to another all her life, equipped with the will to move up, but not the resources to deal with unexpected and overlapping problems like a mentally handicapped daughter, a broken marriage, a sudden layoff crisis that forced her to sell her few assets, pull up roots and move on. "In the house of the poor," Shipler writes "...the walls are thin and fragile and troubles seep into one another."
Here's something else to get mad about. Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives, the body of Congress owned and operated by the corporate, political, and religious right, approved new tax credits for children. Not for poor children, mind you. But for families earning as much as $309,000 a year -- families that already enjoy significant benefits from earlier tax cuts. The editorial page of The Washington Post called this "bad social policy, bad tax policy, and bad fiscal policy. You'd think they'd be embarrassed," said the Post, "but they're not."
And this, too, is something to get mad about. Nothing seems to embarrass the political class in Washington today. Not the fact that more children are growing up in poverty in America than in any other industrial nation; not the fact that millions of workers are actually making less money today in real dollars than they did twenty years ago; not the fact that working people are putting in longer and longer hours and still falling behind; not the fact that while we have the most advanced medical care in the world, nearly 44 million Americans -- eight out of ten of them in working families -- are uninsured and cannot get the basic care they need.
Astonishing as it seems, no one in official Washington seems embarrassed by the fact that the gap between rich and poor is greater than it's been in 50 years -- the worst inequality among all western nations. Or that we are experiencing a shift in poverty. For years it was said those people down there at the bottom were single, jobless mothers. For years they were told work, education, and marriage is how they move up the economic ladder. But poverty is showing up where we didn't expect it -- among families that include two parents, a worker, and a head of the household with more than a high school education. These are the newly poor. Our political, financial and business class expects them to climb out of poverty on an escalator moving downward.
Let me tell you about the Stanleys and the Neumanns. During the last decade, I produced a series of documentaries for PBS called "Surviving the Good Times." The title refers to the boom time of the '90s when the country achieved the longest period of economic growth in its entire history. Some good things happened then, but not everyone shared equally in the benefits. To the contrary. The decade began with a sustained period of downsizing by corporations moving jobs out of America and many of those people never recovered what was taken from them. We decided early on to tell the stories of two families in Milwaukee -- one black, one white -- whose breadwinners were laid off in the first wave of layoffs in 1991. We reported on how they were coping with the wrenching changes in their lives, and we stayed with them over the next ten years as they tried to find a place in the new global economy. They're the kind of Americans my mother would have called "the salt of the earth." They love their kids, care about their communities, go to church every Sunday, and work hard all week -- both mothers have had to take full-time jobs.
During our time with them, the fathers in both families became seriously ill. One had to stay in the hospital two months, putting his family $30,000 in debt because they didn't have adequate health insurance. We were there with our camera when the bank started to foreclose on the modest home of the other family because they couldn't meet the mortgage payments after dad lost his good-paying manufacturing job. Like millions of Americans, the Stanleys and the Neumanns were playing by the rules and still getting stiffed. By the end of the decade they were running harder but slipping behind, and the gap between them and prosperous America was widening.
What turns their personal tragedy into a political travesty is that they are patriotic. They love this country. But they no longer believe they matter to the people who run the country. When our film opens, both families are watching the inauguration of Bill Clinton on television in 1992. By the end of the decade they were no longer paying attention to politics. They don't see it connecting to their lives. They don't think their concerns will ever be addressed by the political, corporate, and media elites who make up our dominant class. They are not cynical, because they are deeply religious people with no capacity for cynicism, but they know the system is rigged against them. They know this, and we know this. For years now a small fraction of American households have been garnering an extreme concentration of wealth and income while large corporations and financial institutions have obtained unprecedented levels of economic and political power over daily life. In 1960, the gap in terms of wealth between the top 20% and the bottom 20% was 30 fold. Four decades later it is more than 75 fold.
Such concentrations of wealth would be far less of an issue if the rest of society were benefiting proportionately. But that's not the case. As the economist Jeff Madrick reminds us, the pressures of inequality on middle and working class Americans are now quite severe. "The strain on working people and on family life, as spouses have gone to work in dramatic numbers, has become significant. VCRs and television sets are cheap, but higher education, health care, public transportation, drugs, housing and cars have risen faster in price than typical family incomes. And life has grown neither calm nor secure for most Americans, by any means." You can find many sources to support this conclusion. I like the language of a small outfit here in New York called the Commonwealth Foundation/Center for the Renewal of American Democracy. They conclude that working families and the poor "are losing ground under economic pressures that deeply affect household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, political participation, and civic life."
Household economics is not the only area where inequality is growing in America. Equality doesn't mean equal incomes, but a fair and decent society where money is not the sole arbiter of status or comfort. In a fair and just society, the commonwealth will be valued even as individual wealth is encouraged.
Let me make something clear here. I wasn't born yesterday. I'm old enough to know that the tension between haves and have-nots are built into human psychology, it is a constant in human history, and it has been a factor in every society. But I also know America was going to be different. I know that because I read Mr. Jefferson's writings, Mr. Lincoln's speeches and other documents in the growing American creed. I presumptuously disagreed with Thomas Jefferson about human equality being self-evident. Where I lived, neither talent, nor opportunity, nor outcomes were equal. Life is rarely fair and never equal. So what could he possibly have meant by that ringing but ambiguous declaration: "All men are created equal"? Two things, possibly. One, although none of us are good, all of us are sacred (Glenn Tinder), that's the basis for thinking we are by nature kin.
Second, he may have come to see the meaning of those words through the experience of the slave who was his mistress. As is now widely acknowledged, the hands that wrote "all men are created equal" also stroked the breasts and caressed the thighs of a black woman named Sally Hennings. She bore him six children whom he never acknowledged as his own, but who were the only slaves freed by his will when he died -- the one request we think Sally Hennings made of her master. Thomas Jefferson could not have been insensitive to the flesh-and-blood woman in his arms. He had to know she was his equal in her desire for life, her longing for liberty, her passion for happiness.
In his book on the Declaration, my late friend Mortimer Adler said Jefferson realized that whatever things are really good for any human being are really good for all other human beings. The happy or good life is essentially the same for all: a satisfaction of the same needs inherent in human nature. A just society is grounded in that recognition. So Jefferson kept as a slave a woman whose nature he knew was equal to his. All Sally Hennings got from her long sufferance -- perhaps it was all she sought from what may have grown into a secret and unacknowledged love -- was that he let her children go. "Let my children go" -- one of the oldest of all petitions. It has long been the promise of America -- a broken promise, to be sure. But the idea took hold that we could fix what was broken so that our children would live a bountiful life. We could prevent the polarization between the very rich and the very poor that poisoned other societies. We could provide that each and every citizen would enjoy the basic necessities of life, a voice in the system of self-government, and a better chance for their children. We could preclude the vast divides that produced the turmoil and tyranny of the very countries from which so many of our families had fled.
We were going to do these things because we understood our dark side -- none of us is good -- but we also understood the other side -- all of us are sacred. From Jefferson forward we have grappled with these two notions in our collective head -- that we are worthy of the creator but that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Believing the one and knowing the other, we created a country where the winners didn't take all. Through a system of checks and balances we were going to maintain a safe, if shifting, equilibrium between wealth and commonwealth. We believed equitable access to public resources is the lifeblood of any democracy. So early on [in Jeff Madrick's description,] primary schooling was made free to all. States changed laws to protect debtors, often the relatively poor, against their rich creditors. Charters to establish corporations were open to most, if not all, white comers, rather than held for the elite. The government encouraged Americans to own their own piece of land, and even supported squatters' rights. The court challenged monopoly -- all in the name of we the people.
In my time we went to public schools. My brother made it to college on the GI bill. When I bought my first car for $450 I drove to a subsidized university on free public highways and stopped to rest in state-maintained public parks. This is what I mean by the commonwealth. Rudely recognized in its formative years, always subject to struggle, constantly vulnerable to reactionary counterattacks, the notion of America as a shared project has been the central engine of our national experience.
Until now. I don't have to tell you that a profound transformation is occurring in America: the balance between wealth and the commonwealth is being upended. By design. Deliberately. We have been subjected to what the Commonwealth Foundation calls "a fanatical drive to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that have shaped public responsibility for social harms arising from the excesses of private power." From land, water and other natural resources, to media and the broadcast and digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medical breakthroughs, and to politics itself, a broad range of the American commons is undergoing a powerful shift toward private and corporate control. And with little public debate. Indeed, what passes for 'political debate' in this country has become a cynical charade behind which the real business goes on -- the not-so-scrupulous business of getting and keeping power in order to divide up the spoils.
We could have seen this coming if we had followed the money. The veteran Washington reporter, Elizabeth Drew, says "the greatest change in Washington over the past 25 years -- in its culture, in the way it does business and the ever-burgeoning amount of business transactions that go on here -- has been in the preoccupation with money." Jeffrey Birnbaum, who covered Washington for nearly twenty years for the Wall Street Journal, put it more strongly: "[campaign cash] has flooded over the gunwales of the ship of state and threatens to sink the entire vessel. Political donations determine the course and speed of many government actions that deeply affect our daily lives." Politics is suffocating from the stranglehold of money. During his brief campaign in 2000, before he was ambushed by the dirty tricks of the religious right in South Carolina and big money from George W. Bush's wealthy elites, John McCain said elections today are nothing less than an "influence peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder."
Small wonder that with the exception of people like John McCain and Russ Feingold, official Washington no longer finds anything wrong with a democracy dominated by the people with money. Hit the pause button here, and recall Roger Tamraz. He's the wealthy oilman who paid $300,000 to get a private meeting in the White House with President Clinton; he wanted help in securing a big pipeline in central Asia. This got him called before congressional hearings on the financial excesses of the 1996 campaign. If you watched the hearings on C-Span you heard him say he didn't think he had done anything out of the ordinary. When they pressed him he told the senators: "Look, when it comes to money and politics, you make the rules. I'm just playing by your rules." One senator then asked if Tamraz had registered and voted. And he was blunt in his reply: "No, senator, I think money's a bit more (important) than the vote."
So what does this come down to, practically?
Here is one accounting:
"When powerful interests shower Washington with millions in campaign contributions, they often get what they want. But it's ordinary citizens and firms that pay the price and most of them never see it coming. This is what happens if you don't contribute to their campaigns or spend generously on lobbying. You pick up a disproportionate share of America's tax bill. You pay higher prices for a broad range of products from peanuts to prescriptions. You pay taxes that others in a similar situation have been excused from paying. You're compelled to abide by laws while others are granted immunity from them. You must pay debts that you incur while others do not. You're barred from writing off on your tax returns some of the money spent on necessities while others deduct the cost of their entertainment. You must run your business by one set of rules, while the government creates another set for your competitors. In contrast, the fortunate few who contribute to the right politicians and hire the right lobbyists enjoy all the benefits of their special status. Make a bad business deal; the government bails them out. If they want to hire workers at below market wages, the government provides the means to do so. If they want more time to pay their debts, the government gives them an extension. If they want immunity from certain laws, the government gives it. If they want to ignore rules their competition must comply with, the government gives its approval. If they want to kill legislation that is intended for the public, it gets killed."
I'm not quoting from Karl Marx's Das Kapital or Mao's Little Red Book. I'm quoting Time magazine. Time's premier investigative journalists -- Donald Bartlett and James Steele -- concluded in a series last year that America now has "government for the few at the expense of the many." Economic inequality begets political inequality, and vice versa.
That's why the Stanleys and the Neumanns were turned off by politics. It's why we're losing the balance between wealth and the commonwealth. It's why we can't put things right. And it is the single most destructive force tearing at the soul of democracy. Hear the great justice Learned Hand on this: "If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: 'Thou shalt not ration justice.' " Learned Hand was a prophet of democracy. The rich have the right to buy more homes than anyone else. They have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more gizmos than anyone else, more clothes and vacations than anyone else. But they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else.
I know, I know: this sounds very much like a call for class war. But the class war was declared a generation ago, in a powerful paperback polemic by William Simon, who was soon to be Secretary of the Treasury. He called on the financial and business class, in effect, to take back the power and privileges they had lost in the depression and new deal. They got the message, and soon they began a stealthy class war against the rest of society and the principles of our democracy. They set out to trash the social contract, to cut their workforces and wages, to scour the globe in search of cheap labor, and to shred the social safety net that was supposed to protect people from hardships beyond their control. Business Week put it bluntly at the time: "Some people will obviously have to do with less....it will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more."
The middle class and working poor are told that what's happening to them is the consequence of Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand." This is a lie. What's happening to them is the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious orthodoxy that in its hunger for government subsidies has made an idol of power, and a string of political decisions favoring the powerful and the privileged who bought the political system right out from under us.
To create the intellectual framework for this takeover of public policy they funded conservative think tanks -- The Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, and the American Enterprise Institute -- that churned out study after study advocating their agenda.
To put political muscle behind these ideas they created a formidable political machine. One of the few journalists to cover the issues of class -- Thomas Edsall of The Washington Post -- wrote: "During the 1970s, business refined its ability to act as a class, submerging competitive instincts in favor of joint, cooperate action in the legislative area." Big business political action committees flooded the political arena with a deluge of dollars. And they built alliances with the religious right -- Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition -- who mounted a cultural war providing a smokescreen for the class war, hiding the economic plunder of the very people who were enlisted as foot soldiers in the cause of privilege.
In a book to be published this summer, Daniel Altman describes what he calls the "neo-economy -- a place without taxes, without a social safety net, where rich and poor live in different financial worlds -- and [said Altman] it's coming to America." He's a little late. It's here. Says Warren Buffett, the savviest investor of them all: "My class won."
Look at the spoils of victory:
Over the past three years, they've pushed through $2 trillion dollars in tax cuts -- almost all tilted towards the wealthiest people in the country.
Cuts in taxes on the largest incomes.
Cuts in taxes on investment income.
And cuts in taxes on huge inheritances.
More than half of the benefits are going to the wealthiest one percent. You could call it trickle-down economics, except that the only thing that trickled down was a sea of red ink in our state and local governments, forcing them to cut services for and raise taxes on middle class working America.
Now the Congressional Budget Office forecasts deficits totaling $2.75 trillion over the next ten years.
These deficits have been part of their strategy. Some of you will remember that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan tried to warn us 20 years ago, when he predicted that President Ronald Reagan's real strategy was to force the government to cut domestic social programs by fostering federal deficits of historic dimensions. Reagan's own budget director, David Stockman, admitted as such. Now the leading rightwing political strategist, Grover Norquist, says the goal is to "starve the beast" -- with trillions of dollars in deficits resulting from trillions of dollars in tax cuts, until the United States Government is so anemic and anorexic "it can be drowned in the bathtub."
There's no question about it: The corporate conservatives and their allies in the political and religious right are achieving a vast transformation of American life that only they understand because they are its advocates, its architects, and its beneficiaries. In creating the greatest economic inequality in the advanced world, they have saddled our nation, our states, and our cities and counties with structural deficits that will last until our children's children are ready for retirement, and they are systematically stripping government of all its functions except rewarding the rich and waging war.
And they are proud of what they have done to our economy and our society. If instead of practicing journalism I was writing for Saturday Night Live, I couldn't have made up the things that this crew have been saying.
The president's chief economic adviser says shipping technical and professional jobs overseas is good for the economy.
The president's Council of Economic Advisers report that hamburger chefs in fast food restaurants can be considered manufacturing workers.
The president's Federal Reserve Chairman says that the tax cuts may force cutbacks in social security - but hey, we should make the tax cuts permanent anyway.
The president's Labor Secretary says it doesn't matter if job growth has stalled because "the stock market is the ultimate arbiter."
You just can't make this stuff up. You have to hear it to believe it. This may be the first class war in history where the victims will die laughing.
But what they are doing to middle class and working Americans -- and to the workings of American democracy -- is no laughing matter. Go online and read the transcripts of Enron traders in the energy crisis four years ago, discussing how they were manipulating the California power market in telephone calls in which they gloat about ripping off "those poor grandmothers." Read how they talk about political contributions to politicians like "Kenny Boy" Lay's best friend George W. Bush. Go on line and read how Citigroup has been fined $70 Million for abuses in loans to low-income, high risk borrowers - the largest penalty ever imposed by the Federal Reserve. A few clicks later, you can find the story of how a subsidiary of the corporate computer giant NEC has been fined over $20 million after pleading guilty to corruption in a federal plan to bring Internet access to poor schools and libraries. And this, the story says, is just one piece of a nationwide scheme to rip off the government and the poor.
Let's face the reality: If ripping off the public trust; if distributing tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the poor; if driving the country into deficits deliberately to starve social benefits; if requiring states to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor; if squeezing the wages of workers until the labor force resembles a nation of serfs -- if this isn't class war, what is?
It's un-American. It's unpatriotic. And it's wrong.
But I don't need to tell you this. You wouldn't be here if you didn't know it. Your presence at this gathering confirms that while an America with liberty and justice for all is a broken promise, it is not a lost cause. Once upon a time I thought the mass media -- my industry -- would help mend this broken promise and save this cause. After all, the sight of police dogs attacking peaceful demonstrators forced America to recognize the reality of racial injustice. The sight of carnage in Vietnam forced us to recognize the war was unwinnable. The sight of terrorists striking the World Trade Center woke us from a long slumber of denial and distraction. I thought the mass media might awaken Americans to the reality that this ideology of winner-take-all is working against them and not for them. I was wrong. With honorable exceptions, we can't count on the mass media.
What we need is a mass movement of people like you. Get mad, yes -- there's plenty to be mad about. Then get organized and get busy. This is the fight of our lives.
- Bill Moyers, New York University, June 3, 2004bfbasa
vVz We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore / By Garrison Keillor In These Times Thursday 26 August 2004
Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned - and there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today's. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.
In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. 'Bipartisanship is another term of date rape,' says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. 'I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.' The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.
The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.
Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.
Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy - the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president's personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.
The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.
Our beloved land has been fogged with fear - fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.
There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it's 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn't the 'end of innocence,' or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn't prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.
Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.
This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.
The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.
This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.
Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.
Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of A Prairie Home Companion, now in its 25th year on the air. This adapted excerpted from Keillor's new book, Homegrown Democrat (© 2004) is reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
"In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes." / - President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address
Why I Will Vote for John Kerry for President hdnjf By John Eisenhower The Manchester Union Leader Tuesday 28 September 2004nx
The Presidential election to be held this coming Nov. 2 will be one of extraordinary importance to the future of our nation. The outcome will determine whether this country will continue on the same path it has followed for the last 31/2 years or whether it will return to a set of core domestic and foreign policy values that have been at the heart of what has made this country great.
Experts tell us that we tend to vote as our parents did or as we "always have." We remained loyal to party labels. We cannot afford that luxury in the election of 2004. There are times when we must break with the past, and I believe this is one of them.
As son of a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is automatically expected by many that I am a Republican. For 50 years, through the election of 2000, I was. With the current administration's decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry.
The fact is that today's "Republican" Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. To me, the word "Republican" has always been synonymous with the word "responsibility," which has meant limiting our governmental obligations to those we can afford in human and financial terms. Today's whopping budget deficit of some $440 billion does not meet that criterion.
Responsibility used to be observed in foreign affairs. That has meant respect for others. America, though recognized as the leader of the community of nations, has always acted as a part of it, not as a maverick separate from that community and at times insulting towards it. Leadership involves setting a direction and building consensus, not viewing other countries as practically devoid of significance. Recent developments indicate that the current Republican Party leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance.
In the Middle East crisis of 1991, President George H.W. Bush marshaled world opinion through the United Nations before employing military force to free Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. Through negotiation he arranged for the action to be financed by all the industrialized nations, not just the United States. When Kuwait had been freed, President George H. W. Bush stayed within the United Nations mandate, aware of the dangers of occupying an entire nation.
Today many people are rightly concerned about our precious individual freedoms, our privacy, the basis of our democracy. Of course we must fight terrorism, but have we irresponsibly gone overboard in doing so? I wonder. In 1960, President Eisenhower told the Republican convention, "If ever we put any other value above (our) liberty, and above principle, we shall lose both." I would appreciate hearing such warnings from the Republican Party of today.
The Republican Party I used to know placed heavy emphasis on fiscal responsibility, which included balancing the budget whenever the state of the economy allowed it to do so. The Eisenhower administration accomplished that difficult task three times during its eight years in office. It did not attain that remarkable achievement by cutting taxes for the rich. Republicans disliked taxes, of course, but the party accepted them as a necessary means of keep the nation's financial structure sound.
The Republicans used to be deeply concerned for the middle class and small business. Today's Republican leadership, while not solely accountable for the loss of American jobs, encourages it with its tax code and heads us in the direction of a society of very rich and very poor.
Sen. Kerry, in whom I am willing to place my trust, has demonstrated that he is courageous, sober, competent, and concerned with fighting the dangers associated with the widening socio-economic gap in this country. I will vote for him enthusiastically.
I celebrate, along with other Americans, the diversity of opinion in this country. But let it be based on careful thought. I urge everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, to avoid voting for a ticket merely because it carries the label of the party of one's parents or of our own ingrained habits.
John Eisenhower, son of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, served on the White House staff between October 1958 and the end of the Eisenhower administration. From 1961 to 1964 he assisted his father in writing "The White House Years," his Presidential memoirs. He served as American ambassador to Belgium between 1969 and 1971. He is the author of nine books, largely on military subjects.
Why this Republican Ex-Governor will be Voting for Kerry By Elmer L. Andersen Minneapolis Star Tribune Wednesday 13 October 2004 ?/ "I am more fearful for the state of this nation than I have ever been - - because this country is in the hands of an evil man: Dick Cheney. It is eminently clear that it is he who is running the country, not George W. Bush." dfbdas
Throughout my tenure and beyond as the 30th governor of this state, I have been steadfastly aligned -- and until recently, proudly so -- with the Minnesota Republican Party.
It dismays me, therefore, to have to publicly disagree with the national Republican agenda and the national Republican candidate but, this year, I must.
The two "Say No to Bush" signs in my yard say it all.
The present Republican president has led us into an unjustified war -- based on misguided and blatantly false misrepresentations of the threat of weapons of mass destruction. The terror seat was Afghanistan. Iraq had no connection to these acts of terror and was not a serious threat to the United States, as this president claimed, and there was no relation, it's now obvious, to any serious weaponry. Although Saddam Hussein is a frightful tyrant, he posed no threat to the United States when we entered the war. George W. Bush's arrogant actions to jump into Iraq when he had no plan how to get out have alienated the United States from our most trusted allies and weakened us immeasurably around the world.
Also, if there as well had been proper and careful coordination of services and intelligence on Sept. 11, 2001, that horrific disaster might also have been averted. But it was a separate event from this brutal mess of a war, and the disingenuous linking of the wholly unrelated situation in Iraq to 9/11 by this administration is not supported by the facts.
Sen. John Kerry was correct when he said that seemingly it is only Bush and Dick Cheney who still believe their own spin. Both men spew outright untruths with evangelistic fervor. For Bush -- a man who chose to have his father help him duck service in the military during the Vietnam War -- to disparage and cast doubt on the medals Kerry won bravely and legitimately in the conflict of battle is a travesty.
For Cheney to tell the hand-picked, like-minded Republican crowds in Des Moines last month that to vote for John Kerry could mean another attack like that of 9/11 is reprehensible. Moreover, such false statements encourage more terrorist attacks rather than prevent them.
A far smaller transgression, but one typical of his stop-at-nothing tactics, was Cheney's assertion in last Wednesday's vice-presidential debate that he'd never met Sen. John Edwards until that night. The next day -- and the media must stay ever-vigilant at fact-checking the lies of this ticket -- news reports, to the contrary, showed four video clips of Edwards and Cheney sitting next to each other during the past five years.
In both presidential debates, Kerry has shown himself to be of far superior intellect and character than Bush. He speaks honestly to the American people, his ethics are unimpeachable and, clearly, with 20 respected years in the Senate, he has far better credentials to lead the country than did Bush when he was elected four years ago. And a far greater depth of understanding of domestic and foreign affairs to do it now.
Not that the sitting president has ever really been at the helm.
I am more fearful for the state of this nation than I have ever been -- because this country is in the hands of an evil man: Dick Cheney. It is eminently clear that it is he who is running the country, not George W. Bush.
Bush's phony posturing as cocksure leader of the free world -- symbolized by his victory symbol on the aircraft carrier and "mission accomplished" statement -- leave me speechless. The mission had barely been started, let alone finished, and 18 months later it still rages on. His ongoing "no-regrets," no-mistakes stance and untruths on the war -- as well as on the floundering economy and Bush administration joblessness -- also disappoint and worry me.
Liberal Republicans of my era and mind-set used to have a humane and reasonable platform. We advocated the importance of higher education, health care for all, programs for children at risk, energy conservation and environmental protection. Today, Bush and Cheney give us clever public relations names for programs -- need I say "No Child Left Behind"? -- but a lack of funding to support them. Early childhood education programs and overall health care are woefully underfunded. We have not only the largest number ever of medically uninsured in this nation, our infant mortality rates, once among the lowest in the world, have worsened to 27th.
As taxes for the wealthy are being cut, jobs are being outsourced if not lost and children are homeless and uninsured, this administration is running up the biggest deficit in U.S. history -- bound to be a terrible burden for future generations.
This imperialistic, stubborn adherence to wrongful policies and known untruths by the Cheney-Bush administration -- and that's the accurate order -- has simply become more than I can stand.
Although I am a longtime Republican, it is time to make a statement, and it is this: Vote for Kerry-Edwards, I implore you, on Nov. 2.
Elmer L. Andersen, Republican, was Minnesota's governor from 1961 to 1963.
/?/ ?/ bfbdcvbb rjrjr"George W. Bush and his administration have taken "normal" mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception,they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on." / / The Case Against George W. Bush / Ron Reagan Esquire September 2004 / The son of the fortieth president of the United States takes a hard look at the son of the forty-first ...and does not like what he sees
It may have been the guy in the hood teetering on the stool, electrodes clamped to his genitals. Or smirking Lynndie England and her leash. Maybe it was the smarmy memos tapped out by soft-fingered lawyers itching to justify such barbarism. The grudging, lunatic retreat of the neocons from their long-standing assertion that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama didn't hurt. Even the Enron audiotapes and their celebration of craven sociopathy likely played a part. As a result of all these displays and countless smaller ones, you could feel, a couple of months back, as summer spread across the country, the ground shifting beneath your feet. Not unlike that scene in The Day After Tomorrow, then in theaters, in which the giant ice shelf splits asunder, this was more a paradigm shift than anything strictly tectonic. No cataclysmic ice age, admittedly, yet something was in the air, and people were inhaling deeply. I began to get calls from friends whose parents had always voted Republican, "but not this time." There was the staid Zbigniew Brzezinski on the staid NewsHour with Jim Lehrer sneering at the "Orwellian language" flowing out of the Pentagon. Word spread through the usual channels that old hands from the days of Bush the Elder were quietly (but not too quietly) appalled by his son's misadventure in Iraq. Suddenly, everywhere you went, a surprising number of folks seemed to have had just about enough of what the Bush administration was dishing out. A fresh age appeared on the horizon, accompanied by the sound of scales falling from people's eyes. It felt something like a demonstration of that highest of American prerogatives and the most deeply cherished American freedom: dissent.
Oddly, even my father's funeral contributed. Throughout that long, stately, overtelevised week in early June, items would appear in the newspaper discussing the Republicans' eagerness to capitalize (subtly, tastefully) on the outpouring of affection for my father and turn it to Bush's advantage for the fall election. The familiar "Heir to Reagan" puffballs were reinflated and loosed over the proceedings like (subtle, tasteful) Mylar balloons. Predictably, this backfired. People were treated to a side-by-side comparison - Ronald W. Reagan versus George W. Bush - and it's no surprise who suffered for it. Misty-eyed with nostalgia, people set aside old political gripes for a few days and remembered what friend and foe always conceded to Ronald Reagan: He was damned impressive in the role of leader of the free world. A sign in the crowd, spotted during the slow roll to the Capitol rotunda, seemed to sum up the mood - a portrait of my father and the words NOW THERE WAS A PRESIDENT.
The comparison underscored something important. And the guy on the stool, Lynndie, and her grinning cohorts, they brought the word: The Bush administration can't be trusted. The parade of Bush officials before various commissions and committees - Paul Wolfowitz, who couldn't quite remember how many young Americans had been sacrificed on the altar of his ideology; John Ashcroft, lip quivering as, for a delicious, fleeting moment, it looked as if Senator Joe Biden might just come over the table at him - these were a continuing reminder. The Enron creeps, too - a reminder of how certain environments and particular habits of mind can erode common decency. People noticed. A tipping point had been reached. The issue of credibility was back on the table. The L-word was in circulation. Not the tired old bromide liberal. That's so 1988. No, this time something much more potent: liar.
Politicians will stretch the truth. They'll exaggerate their accomplishments, paper over their gaffes. Spin has long been the lingua franca of the political realm. But George W. Bush and his administration have taken "normal" mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on.
None of this, needless to say, guarantees Bush a one-term presidency. The far-right wing of the country - nearly one third of us by some estimates - continues to regard all who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid (liberals, rationalists, Europeans, et cetera) as agents of Satan. Bush could show up on video canoodling with Paris Hilton and still bank their vote. Right-wing talking heads continue painting anyone who fails to genuflect deeply enough as a "hater," and therefore a nut job, probably a crypto-Islamist car bomber. But these protestations have taken on a hysterical, almost comically desperate tone. It's one thing to get trashed by Michael Moore. But when Nobel laureates, a vast majority of the scientific community, and a host of current and former diplomats, intelligence operatives, and military officials line up against you, it becomes increasingly difficult to characterize the opposition as fringe wackos.
Does anyone really favor an administration that so shamelessly lies? One that so tenaciously clings to secrecy, not to protect the American people, but to protect itself? That so willfully misrepresents its true aims and so knowingly misleads the people from whom it derives its power? I simply cannot think so. And to come to the same conclusion does not make you guilty of swallowing some liberal critique of the Bush presidency, because that's not what this is. This is the critique of a person who thinks that lying at the top levels of his government is abhorrent. Call it the honest guy's critique of George W. Bush.
The most egregious examples of distortion and misdirection - which the administration even now cannot bring itself to repudiate - involve our putative "War on Terror" and our subsequent foray into Iraq.
During his campaign for the presidency, Mr. Bush pledged a more "humble" foreign policy. "I would take the use of force very seriously," he said. "I would be guarded in my approach." Other countries would resent us "if we're an arrogant nation." He sniffed at the notion of "nation building." "Our military is meant to fight and win wars. . . . And when it gets overextended, morale drops." International cooperation and consensus building would be the cornerstone of a Bush administration's approach to the larger world. Given candidate Bush's remarks, it was hard to imagine him, as president, flipping a stiff middle finger at the world and charging off adventuring in the Middle East.
//////////////////////(MOW editorial insert)
But didn't 9/11 reshuffle the deck, changing everything? Didn't Mr. Bush, on September 12, 2001, awaken to the fresh realization that bad guys in charge of Islamic nations constitute an entirely new and grave threat to us and have to be ruthlessly confronted lest they threaten the American homeland again? Wasn't Saddam Hussein rushed to the front of the line because he was complicit with the hijackers and in some measure responsible for the atrocities in Washington, D. C., and at the tip of Manhattan?
As Bush's former Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, and his onetime "terror czar," Richard A. Clarke, have made clear, the president, with the enthusiastic encouragement of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, was contemplating action against Iraq from day one. "From the start, we were building the case against Hussein and looking at how we could take him out," O'Neill said. All they needed was an excuse. Clarke got the same impression from within the White House. Afghanistan had to be dealt with first; that's where the actual perpetrators were, after all. But the Taliban was a mere appetizer; Saddam was the entrée. (Or who knows? The soup course?) It was simply a matter of convincing the American public (and our representatives) that war was justified.
The real - but elusive - prime mover behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, was quickly relegated to a back burner (a staff member at Fox News -- the cable-TV outlet of the Bush White House -- told me a year ago that the mere mention of bin Laden's name was forbidden within the company, lest we be reminded that the actual bad guy remained at large) while Saddam's Iraq became International Enemy Number One. Just like that, a country whose economy had been reduced to shambles by international sanctions, whose military was less than half the size it had been when the U. S. Army rolled over it during the first Gulf war, that had extensive no-flight zones imposed on it in the north and south as well as constant aerial and satellite surveillance, and whose lethal weapons and capacity to produce such weapons had been destroyed or seriously degraded by UN inspection teams became, in Mr. Bush's words, "a threat of unique urgency" to the most powerful nation on earth.
Fanciful but terrifying scenarios were introduced: Unmanned aircraft, drones, had been built for missions targeting the U. S., Bush told the nation. "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud," National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice deadpanned to CNN. And, Bush maintained, "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists." We "know" Iraq possesses such weapons, Rumsfeld and Vice-President Cheney assured us. We even "know" where they are hidden. After several months of this mumbo jumbo, 70 percent of Americans had embraced the fantasy that Saddam destroyed the World Trade Center.
All these assertions have proved to be baseless and, we've since discovered, were regarded with skepticism by experts at the time they were made. But contrary opinions were derided, ignored, or covered up in the rush to war. Even as of this writing, Dick Cheney clings to his mad assertion that Saddam was somehow at the nexus of a worldwide terror network.
And then there was Abu Ghraib. Our "war president" may have been justified in his assumption that Americans are a warrior people. He pushed the envelope in thinking we'd be content as an occupying power, but he was sadly mistaken if he thought that ordinary Americans would tolerate an image of themselves as torturers. To be fair, the torture was meant to be secret. So were the memos justifying such treatment that had floated around the White House, Pentagon, and Justice Department for more than a year before the first photos came to light. The neocons no doubt appreciate that few of us have the stones to practice the New Warfare. Could you slip a pair of women's panties over the head of a naked, cowering stranger while forcing him to masturbate? What would you say while sodomizing him with a toilet plunger? Is keeping someone awake till he hallucinates inhumane treatment or merely "sleep management"?
Most of us know the answers to these questions, so it was incumbent upon the administration to pretend that Abu Ghraib was an aberration, not policy. Investigations, we were assured, were already under way; relevant bureaucracies would offer unstinting cooperation; the handful of miscreants would be sternly disciplined. After all, they didn't "represent the best of what America's all about." As anyone who'd watched the proceedings of the 9/11 Commission could have predicted, what followed was the usual administration strategy of stonewalling, obstruction, and obfuscation. The appointment of investigators was stalled; documents were withheld, including the full report by Major General Antonio Taguba, who headed the Army's primary investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib. A favorite moment for many featured John McCain growing apoplectic as Donald Rumsfeld and an entire table full of army brass proved unable to answer the simple question Who was in charge at Abu Ghraib?
The Bush administration no doubt had its real reasons for invading and occupying Iraq. They've simply chosen not to share them with the American public. They sought justification for ignoring the Geneva Convention and other statutes prohibiting torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners but were loath to acknowledge as much. They may have ideas worth discussing, but they don't welcome the rest of us in the conversation. They don't trust us because they don't dare expose their true agendas to the light of day. There is a surreal quality to all this: Occupation is liberation; Iraq is sovereign, but we're in control; Saddam is in Iraqi custody, but we've got him; we'll get out as soon as an elected Iraqi government asks us, but we'll be there for years to come. Which is what we counted on in the first place, only with rose petals and easy coochie.
This Möbius reality finds its domestic analogue in the perversely cynical "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests" sloganeering at Bush's EPA and in the administration's irresponsible tax cutting and other fiscal shenanigans. But the Bush administration has always worn strangely tinted shades, and you wonder to what extent Mr. Bush himself lives in a world of his own imagining.
And chances are your America and George W. Bush's America are not the same place. If you are dead center on the earning scale in real-world twenty-first-century America, you make a bit less than $32,000 a year, and $32,000 is not a sum that Mr. Bush has ever associated with getting by in his world. Bush, who has always managed to fail upwards in his various careers, has never had a job the way you have a job - where not showing up one morning gets you fired, costing you your health benefits. He may find it difficult to relate personally to any of the nearly two million citizens who've lost their jobs under his administration, the first administration since Herbert Hoover's to post a net loss of jobs. Mr. Bush has never had to worry that he couldn't afford the best available health care for his children. For him, forty-three million people without health insurance may be no more than a politically inconvenient abstraction. When Mr. Bush talks about the economy, he is not talking about your economy. His economy is filled with pals called Kenny-boy who fly around in their own airplanes. In Bush's economy, his world, friends relocate offshore to avoid paying taxes. Taxes are for chumps like you. You are not a friend. You're the help. When the party Mr. Bush is hosting in his world ends, you'll be left picking shrimp toast out of the carpet.
All administrations will dissemble, distort, or outright lie when their backs are against the wall, when honesty begins to look like political suicide. But this administration seems to lie reflexively, as if it were simply the easiest option for busy folks with a lot on their minds. While the big lies are more damning and of immeasurably greater import to the nation, it is the small, unnecessary prevarications that may be diagnostic. Who lies when they don't have to? When the simple truth, though perhaps embarrassing in the short run, is nevertheless in one's long-term self-interest? Why would a president whose calling card is his alleged rock-solid integrity waste his chief asset for penny-ante stakes? Habit, perhaps. Or an inability to admit even small mistakes.
Mr. Bush's tendency to meander beyond the bounds of truth was evident during the 2000 campaign but was largely ignored by the mainstream media. His untruths simply didn't fit the agreed-upon narrative. While generally acknowledged to be lacking in experience, depth, and other qualifications typically considered useful in a leader of the free world, Bush was portrayed as a decent fellow nonetheless, one whose straightforwardness was a given. None of that "what the meaning of is is" business for him. And, God knows, no furtive, taxpayer-funded fellatio sessions with the interns. Al Gore, on the other hand, was depicted as a dubious self-reinventor, stained like a certain blue dress by Bill Clinton's prurient transgressions. He would spend valuable weeks explaining away statements - "I invented the Internet" - that he never made in the first place. All this left the coast pretty clear for Bush.
Scenario typical of the 2000 campaign: While debating Al Gore, Bush tells two obvious - if not exactly earth-shattering - lies and is not challenged. First, he claims to have supported a patient's bill of rights while governor of Texas. This is untrue. He, in fact, vigorously resisted such a measure, only reluctantly bowing to political reality and allowing it to become law without his signature. Second, he announces that Gore has outspent him during the campaign. The opposite is true: Bush has outspent Gore. These misstatements are briefly acknowledged in major press outlets, which then quickly return to the more germane issues of Gore's pancake makeup and whether a certain feminist author has counseled him to be more of an "alpha male."
Having gotten away with such witless falsities, perhaps Mr. Bush and his team felt somehow above day-to-day truth. In any case, once ensconced in the White House, they picked up where they left off.
In the immediate aftermath and confusion of 9/11, Bush, who on that day was in Sarasota, Florida, conducting an emergency reading of "My Pet Goat," was whisked off to Nebraska aboard Air Force One. While this may have been entirely sensible under the chaotic circumstances - for all anyone knew at the time, Washington might still have been under attack - the appearance was, shall we say, less than gallant. So a story was concocted: There had been a threat to Air Force One that necessitated the evasive maneuver. Bush's chief political advisor, Karl Rove, cited "specific" and "credible" evidence to that effect. The story quickly unraveled. In truth, there was no such threat.
Then there was Bush's now infamous photo-op landing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and his subsequent speech in front of a large banner emblazoned MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The banner, which loomed in the background as Bush addressed the crew, became problematic as it grew clear that the mission in Iraq - whatever that may have been - was far from accomplished. "Major combat operations," as Bush put it, may have technically ended, but young Americans were still dying almost daily. So the White House dealt with the questionable banner in a manner befitting a president pledged to "responsibility and accountability": It blamed the sailors. No surprise, a bit of digging by journalists revealed the banner and its premature triumphalism to be the work of the White House communications office.
More serious by an order of magnitude was the administration's dishonesty concerning pre-9/11 terror warnings. As questions first arose about the country's lack of preparedness in the face of terrorist assault, Condoleezza Rice was dispatched to the pundit arenas to assure the nation that "no one could have imagined terrorists using aircraft as weapons." In fact, terrorism experts had warned repeatedly of just such a calamity. In June 2001, CIA director George Tenet sent Rice an intelligence report warning that "it is highly likely that a significant Al Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks." Two intelligence briefings given to Bush in the summer of 2001 specifically connected Al Qaeda to the imminent danger of hijacked planes being used as weapons. According to The New York Times, after the second of these briefings, titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside United States," was delivered to the president at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in August, Bush "broke off from work early and spent most of the day fishing." This was the briefing Dr. Rice dismissed as "historical" in her testimony before the 9/11 Commission./..////////////////
What's odd is that none of these lies were worth the breath expended in the telling. If only for self-serving political reasons, honesty was the way to go. The flight of Air Force One could easily have been explained in terms of security precautions taken in the confusion of momentous events. As for the carrier landing, someone should have fallen on his or her sword at the first hint of trouble: We told the president he needed to do it; he likes that stuff and was gung-ho; we figured, What the hell?; it was a mistake. The banner? We thought the sailors would appreciate it. In retrospect, also a mistake. Yup, we sure feel dumb now. Owning up to the 9/11 warnings would have entailed more than simple embarrassment. But done forthrightly and immediately, an honest reckoning would have earned the Bush team some respect once the dust settled. Instead, by needlessly tap-dancing, Bush's White House squandered vital credibility, turning even relatively minor gaffes into telling examples of its tendency to distort and evade the truth.
But image is everything in this White House, and the image of George Bush as a noble and infallible warrior in the service of his nation must be fanatically maintained, because behind the image lies . . . nothing? As Jonathan Alter of Newsweek has pointed out, Bush has "never fully inhabited" the presidency. Bush apologists can smilingly excuse his malopropisms and vagueness as the plainspokenness of a man of action, but watching Bush flounder when attempting to communicate extemporaneously, one is left with the impression that he is ineloquent not because he can't speak but because he doesn't bother to think.
George W. Bush promised to "change the tone in Washington" and ran for office as a moderate, a "compassionate conservative," in the focus-group-tested sloganeering of his campaign. Yet he has governed from the right wing of his already conservative party, assiduously tending a "base" that includes, along with the expected Fortune 500 fat cats, fiscal evangelicals who talk openly of doing away with Social Security and Medicare, of shrinking government to the size where they can, in tax radical Grover Norquist's phrase, "drown it in the bathtub." That base also encompasses a healthy share of anti-choice zealots, homophobic bigots, and assorted purveyors of junk science. Bush has tossed bones to all of them - "partial birth" abortion legislation, the promise of a constitutional amendment banning marriage between homosexuals, federal roadblocks to embryonic-stem-cell research, even comments suggesting presidential doubts about Darwinian evolution. It's not that Mr. Bush necessarily shares their worldview; indeed, it's unclear whether he embraces any coherent philosophy. But this president, who vowed to eschew politics in favor of sound policy, panders nonetheless in the interest of political gain. As John DiIulio, Bush's former head of the Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives, once told this magazine, "What you've got is everything -- and I mean everything -- being run by the political arm."
This was not what the American electorate opted for when, in 2000, by a slim but decisive margin of more than half a million votes, they chose . . . the other guy. Bush has never had a mandate. Surveys indicate broad public dissatisfaction with his domestic priorities. How many people would have voted for Mr. Bush in the first place had they understood his eagerness to pass on crushing debt to our children or seen his true colors regarding global warming and the environment? Even after 9/11, were people really looking to be dragged into an optional war under false pretenses?
If ever there was a time for uniting and not dividing, this is it. Instead, Mr. Bush governs as if by divine right, seeming to actually believe that a wise God wants him in the White House and that by constantly evoking the horrible memory of September 11, 2001, he can keep public anxiety stirred up enough to carry him to another term.
Understandably, some supporters of Mr. Bush's will believe I harbor a personal vendetta against the man, some seething resentment. One conservative commentator, based on earlier remarks I've made, has already discerned "jealousy" on my part; after all, Bush, the son of a former president, now occupies that office himself, while I, most assuredly, will not. Truth be told, I have no personal feelings for Bush at all. I hardly know him, having met him only twice, briefly and uneventfully - once during my father's presidency and once during my father's funeral. I'll acknowledge occasional annoyance at the pretense that he's somehow a clone of my father, but far from threatening, I see this more as silly and pathetic. My father, acting roles excepted, never pretended to be anyone but himself. His Republican party, furthermore, seems a far cry from the current model, with its cringing obeisance to the religious Right and its kill-anything-that-moves attack instincts. Believe it or not, I don't look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration. We have reached a critical juncture in our nation's history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don't trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them?
Fortunately, we still live in a democratic republic. The Bush team cannot expect a cabal of right-wing justices to once again deliver the White House. Come November 2, we will have a choice: We can embrace a lie, or we can restore a measure of integrity to our government.
We can choose, as a bumper sticker I spotted in Seattle put it, SOMEONE ELSE FOR PRESIDENT.
/ cAnyone But Bush By William Rivers Pitt t r u t h o u t | Perspective Wednesday 22 October 2003
Wednesday 22 October 2003
Looking at both sides of the debate over the looming 2004 Presidential campaign, one finds weirdness on both sides of the political aisle. From the mouths of those who advocate for the current administration, we find this feigned outrage directed at those who criticize George W. Bush. The critics, we are told, have no substance to them. They just hate Bush for the sake of simple hatred. Many who argue from the liberal/progressive realm, conversely, cast their eyes across the nine Democratic candidates for the office and find each and every one of them sorely wanting in one way or another.
In other words, liberals just hate Bush because they just hate Bush, and simultaneously dislike all the Democratic candidates because they do not pass the purity test. Those within the liberal realm who argue the 'ABBA' perspective ('ABBA' being the 'Anyone But Bush Association') are denounced by a segment of their fellow liberals for having no standards, no morals, no integrity.
ABBA people tend to be upfront about the fact that they would vote for a baloney sandwich before voting Bush in 2004. This does not pass the smell test for many of their fellow progressives. Has the baloney sandwich ever held office before? Does the baloney sandwich have a record it can run on? Did the baloney sandwich vote for the Iraq war? Did the baloney sandwich vote for the Patriot Act? Where does the baloney sandwich stand on the Israel/Palestine issue?
There is no doubt that these are important issues, and there is no doubt that ABBA advocates will have to swallow a degree of their liberal integrity when they stand to support whomever wins the Democratic nomination in Boston this coming summer. Yet the conservative defenses of Bush and his 'haters,' along with liberal denunciations of the ABBA perspective as being without integrity, do not pass my own personal smell test.
The thing is, the conservative White House defenders are spot-on correct about one thing. I despise George W. Bush. I despise his Vice President, his Senior Political Advisor, his Chief of Staff, his Defense Secretary, his Assistant Defense Secretary, his Attorney General, his National Security Advisor, and his chosen Ambassador to the United Nations. Those names, in case you are confused, are Cheney, Rove, Card, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Ashcroft, Rice and Negroponte.
I despise his Congressional allies, who have shredded their constitutional duties by refusing to investigate a variety of incredible crimes. For the record, these crimes include the fabrication of Iraq war evidence, the outing of a WMD-hunting CIA agent in an act of political revenge, and the serious questions about how four commercial aircraft fooled the entire domestic defense shield and the entire intelligence community long enough to kill three thousand people.
I despise any and all of his people who fanned out two years ago to pound into the American consciousness the idea that criticizing Bush is treason. If you think that is over, take a gander at the first paragraph of an editorial entitled 'Kennedy, Other Critics, Are Traitors' that appeared today in a local Philadelphia paper called the Daily Local. The author, one Harlan "Buck" Ross, does an admirable job of describing the attitude the Bush administration has about its critics:
"According to my dictionary a 'traitor' is a person who behaves disloyally; one who betrays his country. What I hear from U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is nothing short of traitorous. The nine (10?) would-be candidates for the presidency in 2004 are but a short distance behind him with their ranting and raving and irresponsible blaspheming of the president of the United States."
Call me old-fashioned, but I could have sworn that one can only blaspheme against God. When criticism of this President, or any President, is rhetorically raised to the level of blasphemy, we the people have an enormous problem on our hands.
Yeah, I hate them all. Do I hate for the simple sake of hatred? Do I hate Bush because he is a Republican, a Texan, a white male, a meat-eater? Certainly not. I hate George W. Bush and all of his people because they have done an incredible amount of damage to this nation I hold so dear. I hate them because they are professional liars, thieves, brigands without conscience. I hate them, fully and completely, on the record.
They lied about the need for this war. If you won't take it from me, take it from an avowed conservative and Bush voter named Paul Sperry, who wrote an editorial entitled 'Yes, Bush Lied' on October 6. This was published, if you can believe it, on the ultra-right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com, the same page that carries such luminaries as Ann Coulter. Feast:
"According to the consensus of Bush's intelligence services, there was 'low confidence' before the war in the views that 'Saddam would engage in clandestine attacks against the U.S. Homeland' or 'share chemical or biological weapons with al-Qaida.' Their message to the president was clear: Saddam wouldn't help al-Qaida unless we put his back against the wall, and even then it was a big maybe. If anything, the report was a flashing yellow light against attacking Iraq. Bush saw the warning, yet completely ignored it and barreled ahead with the war plans he'd approved a month earlier (Aug. 29), telling a completely different version of the intelligence consensus to the American people. Less than a week after the NIE was published, he warned that 'on any given day' - provoked by attack or not, sufficiently desperate or not - Saddam could team up with Osama and conduct a joint terrorist operation against America using weapons of mass destruction."
In essence, Bush used the attacks of September 11 against the American people to gin up fear and dread, which he then used to push a war which did not need to be fought. Sperry, some devastating paragraphs later, concludes:
"Forget that Bush lied about the reasons for putting our sons and daughters in harm's way in Iraq; and forget that he sent 140,000 troops there with bull's-eyes on their backs, then dared their attackers to bring it on. It was the height of irresponsibility to have done so in the middle of a war on al-Qaida, the real and proven threat to America. Bush diverted those troops and other resources - including intelligence assets, Arabic translators and hundreds of billions of tax dollars - from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders along the Afghan-Pakistani border. And now they've regrouped and are as threatening as ever. That's inexcusable, and Bush supporters with any intellectual honesty and concern for their own families' safety should be mad as hell about it - and that's coming from someone who voted for Bush."
Mr. Sperry, in all likelihood, will remember these gems:
"This is a man that we know has had connections with al-Qaida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qaida as a forward army." - Bush, October 14, 2002
"Yes, there is a linkage between al-Qaida and Iraq." - Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, September 26, 2002
"There have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al-Qaida going back for actually quite a long time." - National Security Advisor Rice, September 25, 2002
The list of lies this administration told is long and distinguished. The number of lies told specifically about Iraq - his claim in May that "We found the weapons of mass destruction," his claim that Iraq refused to let the inspectors in when they demonstrably had, his claims about Iraq procuring uranium from Niger, his claims that Iraq was a threatening nation capable of attacking within 45 minutes, the mobile weapons labs, the aluminum tubes story, the mushroom clouds - boggle the mind. A few more to consider:
* He lied about wanting Osama bin Laden "Dead or alive" in September of 2001 because he turned around that March and claimed bin Laden was of no importance.
* His National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, said, "We had no way of predicting that terrorists would hijack planes and crash them into buildings." This was a lie. I have spoken to several engineers in the building-building business. Large buildings, and especially large government buildings, are constructed with a number of potential catastrophes in mind. A purposefully crashed airplane has been on that hazard list for a very long time. This, in combination with the warnings given to this administration by foreign intelligence services that were specifically about hijacked aircraft being used as aerial bombs, makes the whole sordid excuse reek.
* He lied about making America a "humble nation," and lied about "changing the tone." America has virtually no friends left within the international community because we have been violently belligerent instead of humble. The cries of "Traitor!" against administration critics have certainly changed the tone, but for the worse.
* He said, "By far the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum." This was a fantastic lie. The tax cuts benefited the vast majority of very rich people across the entire spectrum of very rich people. Those truly at the bottom of the spectrum received a pittance, and have watched the social programs they depend on die from lack of funding, because said funding was squandered by the tax cuts. By the end of the decade, Bush's tax cuts will substantially increase the tax burden on middle-class families.
* He lied when he said he did not know Mr. Enron, Ken Lay, before 1996. Lay was one of Bush's most generous benefactors well before 1996. The number of lies told about the specifics of Bush's relationship to Lay and Enron, and the many ways Bush tried to rescue that criminal company, would require a list that stretches around the moon. When Bush said, "Ken who?" after being questioned by the press about his Enron connections, this stretched the definition of bold lying into impressive new shapes.
* He lied about the reasons for the attacks of September 11. It was "enemies who hate our freedom," and not a constellation of foreign policy decisions made by this administration as well as its predecessors reaching back before 1978, that caused the attack. This lie, in particular, is diabolical. An American populace who are not given the understanding that actions have consequences is an American populace that can be easily led into an unnecessary war in the Mideast.
* He lied when he took credit for a Patients Bill of Rights as Governor of Texas. In fact, he vetoed the bill. Likewise, he took credit for reforms to the Texas educational system that had been put in place by Ann Richards and Mark White, among others.
* He lied broadly and often about his military service, despite the fact that no one in his Texas Air National Guard unit can remember laying eyes on him for almost two years of his tour. "I've been to war. I've raised twins. Given a choice, I'd rather go to war," said Bush to the Houston Chronicle on January 27, 2002. Cute, George. Problem: You've never been to war. Liar. The swagger across the aircraft carrier, by default, is a nauseating lie as well.
* He lied to the entire city of New York, and to the cops, firefighters and EMTs in particular. He said the air in New York was fine after 9/11 when he knew from his EPA chief that it was poison. He promised vast new funding to the police, fire and EMT departments in New York. Not a dime has been provided. It all went to the tax cuts and the Iraq war...which means it went to Bush's wealthy allies and friends in the defense industry. Fancy that.
We would be here all day if this list were constructed to be comprehensive. The above is representative: George W. Bush has lied about September 11, the Iraq war, the economy, his record as governor of Texas, his relationship with corporate criminals, and his own military record. In short, he has lied day after day after day about all of the issues he and his administration claim to hold dear.
I do not hate George W. Bush merely for the sake of hatred, or because he is a Republican. I hate him because he is a cancer that is rotting out the guts of this country. I hate him because he would not know the truth if it crawled up his leg and grabbed him by the nose. Truth does not advance the profit motive.
For liberals who denounce the ABBA perspective as being without integrity, my response is simple. Voting for anyone who can remove Mr. Bush, his administration, and all of these deadly lies from the highest office in the land is an act of singular integrity and patriotism. All hail the baloney sandwich, and never mind the blasphemy.
William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is a New York Times and international best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq," available from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," available from Pluto Press, and "Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in August from Context Books.
/ "... this is a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America." //jd/ "... they are going to destroy, for personal profit, the United States. We are going to be destroyed by the hatred of the rest of the world." /// "I am more fearful for the state of this nation than I have ever been - - because this country is in the hands of an evil man: Dick Cheney. It is eminently clear that it is he who is running the country, not George W. Bush." /// //// "...one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust." / "... the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction." / /_______________________________________________ /
Schuld ...schuldig bin ich Anders als Ihr denkt. Ich musste früher meine Pflicht erkennen; Ich musste schärfer Unheil Unheil nennen; Mein Urteil habe ich zu lang gelenkt... Ich habe gewarnt, Aber nicht genug, und klar; Und heute weiß ich, was ich schuldig war. / Guilt I am guilty, But not in the way you think. I should have earlier recognized my duty; I should have more sharply called evil evil; I reined in my judgment too long. I did warn, But not enough, and clear; And today I know what I was guilty of. // _______________________ ///
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