Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hi padraiceen.

First, let me start off by saying that generally, discussions like this start off as a flamewar and don't end much better. So far your replies have been lucid and not mean-spirited and I appreciate that. I, however, tend to come off as far more caustic than I intend.

I just want you to understand that in this reply, in the capacity that I'm attacking anything, I'm attacking ideas, not you.

So have a seat. It is not a cut-and-paste, I have bothered to spend a good two hours to compose and edit this reply so it is coherent. It is long. It's long because when it comes to an indictment of Bush's policy and neo-conservative theory, what we have is an embarrassment of riches.

padraiceen writes:
Is there any way I can beg you and everyone who reads this to be constructive about it? Please? /moderate still desperately clinging to the hope that people won't be awful about it this time around

Because of how the last election sifted out, I think a lot of people looked at the presidency and said, effectively, "He's not my president. He doesn't represent me." And Bush always had a pall of illegitimacy thanks to being selected, not elected.

This time is different. This time the American people have spoken and truly had thier voices heard. This is not a sham election but a truly representative one. My anger is directed at them. Wait, no. It isn't anger. It's disgust. No, not strong enough. Revulsion. Bafflement to the point of nausea. The type of feeling you get when you begin to hydroplane with your wife and your kids in the car with you. Only this feeling is going to last for four years.

Since you suggest we should see the upside to all of this, and that you worry we might be "awful" about the vote result, let me explain this progressive's interpretation of a Bush (re)election...

America has willingly chosen a leader who has proven that he is determined to disregard the Geneva Convention, invent new categories for prisoners out of thin air so he can detain them indefinitely and lie to his own citizens repeatedly about the link between Iraq and al Queda (then claim, somehow, that he never made such a link), the threat that Iraq posed and it's capacity for following through with that threat (that it never made). And America will not mind or equivocate too much about these inconvenient facts but instead gloss it over with terms such as "standing together."

This leader has ignored the common sense of the rest of the world -- a world which, in retrospect, seems to have been quite correct.

The entire planet (well, with the exception of the few we could convince with substantial financial incentives) told Bush that there was no WMD (there wasn't, Bush admits, without saying he was actually wrong), no 45-minute threat (Bush blamed that one on the UK and our own intel said it was bogus), no uranium (Cheney asked the CIA to investigate, the CIA reported it was bogus, Bush used it in his State of the Union anyway), no chemical weapons, no mobile chemical weapons labs and that, in fact, the UN Weapon Inspectors had done their job so well that Saddam didn't have a drop of anything left.

At best, Saddam had a daydream in which maybe, someday, perhaps he could restart his terror. I bet he longed for the days when he could openly gas Iranian civilians, like back in '88. But then again it was much easier since Rumsfeld was our envoy to Iraq that year and we gave him the gas because we didn't like Iran.

Bush has squandered a budget surplus and turned it into an unprescedended debt for generations to dig themselves out of.

Do I blame him for the recession? No, these things happen regardless of who is at the helm. But I DO blame him for the recovery, or the lack thereof. He claimed his tax cuts would create a certain number of jobs. It didn't even come close. He said his tax cuts would jump-start he economy by a specific percentage. It didn't.

He is the only president that I am aware of that has lowered taxes during a war, nevermind a war and a recession. He has proclaimed his dedication to "freedom" while at the same time supporting government meddling in gay marriage (the government has no say whatsoever in who we love, religious bigotry aside), medical research, and a woman's right to decide what happens with her own body.

And while I'm on the subject, if these religious women are so hell-bent on saving every last embryo, why aren't they busy implanting one in themselves? After all, doing something you shouldn't has the same ethical consequences as failing to do something you should, and these eggs could expire. Er, I mean die. Which would be murder, right? Letting something die when you could prevent it?

Initially opposed to the 9/11 commission, Bush later stonewalled the commission until threatend with subpoenas and, finally, has ignored the recommendations of the panel. On a side note, I don't agree with the recommendations of the panel either. Specifically, the creation of a new intelligence agency. It just shows that we are not systemically opposed to anything Bush does.

Most damning, 1,000+ American soliders killed to date.

Remember Bush bashing Clinton's nation building and then engaging in it wholeheartedly? We're told that "9/11 changed everything!" No it didn't. It changed our perception of the world, now how it actually is. It was a "wake-up call."

Then I guess that makes Clinton a visionary, doesn't it? A little ahead of his time. That's the defiintion of a progressive: what a conservative will be in 30 years.

Cheney is another excellent target. What does this man do when he isn't hooking up his ex-company with multi-billion no-bid contracts or swearing at members of congress? Oh, I know. He is accusing Kerry of supporting military cuts that he, himself, led the crusade against. Viz:

[1] "This is just a list of some of the programs that I've recommended termination: the V-22 Osprey, the F-14D, the Army Helicopter Improvement Program, Phoenix missile, F-15E, the Apache helicopter, the M1 tank, et cetera." - Dick Cheney before the Senate Appropriations Committee

[2] Cheney cut 9 of original 25 Aegis ships planned, putting shipyard in jeopardy [States News Service, 8/14/90; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/24/90]

[3] Bush-Cheney Budget Terminated The Bradley. "Major weapons killed include the Army's M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Navy's Trident submarine and F-14 aircraft, and the Air Force's F-16 airplane. Cheney decided the military already has enough of these weapons." [Boston Globe, 2/5/91]

[4] Cheney Terminates The Black Hawk. "The Pentagon’s internal budget deliberations recommended termination of the Black Hawk program under Secretary Cheney." [Aerospace Daily, 5/15/90]

This is a very small sample. I could actually go on for a few pages of these quotes.

So am I ranting? F*ck YEAH.

Even with all this evidence to suggest that this so-called "leader" is a disaster, we chose him anyway. So I can no longer hold Bush solely responsible for the state we're in.

America, this is your leader, your responsibility and your cross to bear. We have told the entire world that this is a person who believes what we believe and values the same things we value. I can no longer tell myself that it's our government that these terrorists hate. No, they hate us. And they now know that what they hate is not some bananna republic dictator whose own people don't want him there. Yesterday fully legitimized Bush.

padraiceen writes:
If people keep saying things like this, we'll just have the same hateful ideological gulf that we had these past few years. Now, THAT is something I don't want a child to experience. Palpable ideological hatred is a terrible thing. ... I just don't see such a grim picture as you on pretty much all of the issues you mentioned below.

Much has been made about how Bush is the first president to be elected with greater than 50% of the popular vote and one reporter on television just said that this was a "great battle." No it wasn't.

What we just witnessed is a fracturing of the American psyche. "You're either with us or you're against us," isn't that what Bush said? If this isn't an "ideological gulf," what is?

If "hatred" isn't saying that anyone who disagrees with you is morally equivalent to mass murderers, what is?

In 2004 America, there is no room for "flip flopping" (some might call it "recognizing when you're wrong") or having a moderate stance on anything. Moderation is seen as wishy-washy when any senior citizen will tell you that wisdom is knowing that there are two sides to everything and the surest sign of maturity is backing down when the facts turn out to be other than you anticipated.

Equvocation is the very antithesis of fundamentalism. And what is Bush's core constituency if not fundamentalists?

Show me some moderation, some compromise in the neo-conservative agenda.

My daughter is ten years old. Her mother is gay and Rebekah lives with both her mother and her mother's girlfriend. All three are supporters of Bush. I've brought up Bush's position on gay marriage. I get dead silence in return. Why? Because to be pro-gay marriage is to be anti-Bush. And to be anti-Bush is to be pro-Osama.

If that doesn't go against the grain of everything American, I don't know what does. Wait, let me back up. It is very American, apparently. Just another mental stop-gap between what we're taught this country stands for and cold, hard reality.

If we're so hell-bent on giving Afghanistan and Iraq a democracy, why didn't we just give them a copy of ours? Hell, we can give them the original. We don't seem to have much use for it these days.

It's amusing to watch people who got their knickers all in a bunch over Clinton's dry cleaner bill argue that listing the names of the dead American soldiers on television would be "unpatrotic." What is more patriotic than acknowledging the biggest sacrifice a person can give to their country?

So to answer your question about whether I can be constructive about it ...I guess I have to turn the question back to you; what is there to be constructive about? If the next four years will be more of what we've just seen, what can I look forward to?

padraiceen writes:
If it's about abortion rights in general, there is no way Roe v. Wade would be overturned. It would be political suicide for the entire party.

Overturning Roe v. Wade is literally the holy grail of the Bush's base constituency. I do think that it would be political suicide and I don't think they could accomplish it. But I do know that it can be made into an issue large enough to seize up any other meaningful political discourse for a few years.

The looming threat of your reproductive rights being taken away isn't so far removed from actually doing it. The definition of "terrorism" is both the threat and application of a catastrophic event. If you grant that we are polarized as a country right now, the next four years of unfettered neocon control of all levels of government are going to make this much, much worse.

To argue otherwise is to make the tacit argument that the Republicans have gained even more control in this election and, somehow, they're going to become more moderate in response? No. This is Bush's first experience with legitimacy. This is a mandate from the United States. A friend of mine argues that Bush doesn't speak for all of us. Unfortunately, given the way our laws are structured, yes he does.

padraiceen writes:
It's kind of alarming how the implication is that you're ashamed that people exercised their rights to vote the way their personal ideologies said they should, because you disagree with their choices.

You're framing her position in a way that distorts the situation. We, as a country, must elect one person to be our leader. Half the country doesn't get Bush while the other half gets Kerry. So in selecting Bush as a leader, we are saying "Our system of government affords us a method to select our leader. The leader that we and our system have arrived at is Bush." So far I think we can agree.

Some of us perceive Bush's four years in office as a literally non-stop litany of failures. That people selected Bush makes us conclude one of three things: (a) We're wrong about Bush failures, (b) people selected Bush despite the failures or (c) our system is broken. I can't speak for Dolly, but I'm going with option B.

I'm going with option B because -- and please understand it's hard for me to keep this rant down to a few sentences -- Americans don't seem to have even a small grasp of the facts. Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program...

• 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%).

• Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program.

• 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

• 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found.

• Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission.

So I don't think the situation is quite as you've phrased it. It's not a matter of being ashamed that people used their right to vote, it's being ashamed that Americans don't seem to be disturbed that all of their "news" comes in from sources that have a financial interest in them not knowing certain things. Further, Americans don't seem to have an interest in reading the facts when it's laid out for them in a report signed by their own government.

That's not embarrassing. That's disgusting.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a Mrs. Powel anxiously awaited the results, and as Benjamin Franklin emerged from the long task now finished, asked him directly: "Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"

"A republic if you can keep it" responded Franklin.

padraiceen writes:
I may disagree with people about things, but I can't be ashamed of them for thinking something, really - that's their right. That doesn't gel with tolerance in my mind.

Intolerance is saying Americans cannot choose Bush as a president. It's perfectly within the bounds of "tolerance" to say you think it was a bad idea. If intolerance is saying "you shouldn't think a certain way," isn't your statement intolerant?

Isn't a constitutional ban on gay marriage "intolerant?"

Further, you must feel that the fathers of this country were awfully intolerant folks! After all, about a third of the population of the colonies were pro-Britain, a third were pro-insurrection and a third didn't care. And that 1/3rd minority created this country anyway. Not only did they say that staying a colony was a bad idea, they refused to accept it, regardless of it's "legality."

padraiceen writes:
But again, abortion is effectively a states' rights issue as it currently stands, if memory serves.

Negative. Roe v. Wade effectively made a state's right to oppose abortion illegal. Overturning Roe v. Wade would make this a state-by-state issue again.

padraiceen writes:
Massachusetts has no chance of ever criminalizing abortions, and I hope you can at least take some comfort in that.

It would be comforting if all I was concerned about was my own rights.

padraiceen writes:
[to Dolly] I hope I'm not trivializing your fears or anything, because that's the last thing I'd want to do.

Clearly you and I see a Bush agenda in an entirely different light. I'm not sure that I'd call your comments "trivializing" (I think you've been pretty polite, which, as I've said, is UNBELIEVABLY rare for such a topic). But I do think that your perception of what we have just done as a collective, as a country, is very much at odds with the facts. Not opinions, facts. Here I'm talking about the 9/11 Commission report, the Duelfer report, etc.

Put another way, let's assume that you're the passenger of a car. At some point you realize that the person behind the wheel is intoxicated and your arms are pinned down. Initially, the driver drifts over the yellow line but then recovers. Then over a curb, clipping a jogger and heading directly toward a house.

This is how those who don't trust Bush to either be sane, wise or even put the needs of Americans before those of his financial backers view the current state of this country. One might view your comments as a person sitting in the back seat saying, "you're making too big a fuss over this." We wouldn't call it "trivializing." We'd call it psychotic.

[again, that isn't an attack against you, I'm just trying to paint a picture for you, so you can spend a few seconds inside of our heads and see it the way we see it.]

padraiceen writes:
I don't know. I just have this bizarre hope that people will express their opinions about the election, and when it's all done, will put it behind them and come together, rather than pulling farther apart like last time.

The last four years have been a never-ending train of deceptions and inability to say "we made a mistake." EVER.

How the heck can I get behind that? Why would I want to?

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Would you expect the neocons and religious right to "come together" and support liberalized sex education that covered topics other than abstinance if Kerry had won? No. We don't lose our moral compass because Bush won.

padraiceen writes:
And this goes for the people on the right, too. If they start acting smug about it, I'm going to say the same goddamned thing to them. I'm tired of the partisanship on each side. It doesn't help anything, and it hurts the people who would much rather just work on patching things up.

Bush's election is a full-on endorsement of partisanship.


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