Politics: June 2002 Archives

I see sites like these: Media Whores Online, or (on a smaller scale) leftyblog; which seem to think of themselves as the left side of the political spectrum, but what they really stand for is the Democratic party. By the standards of any real politics, the Democrats are a centrist party. In most western countries, many of their positions are center-right:

  • lack of support for universal healthcare
  • support of the death penalty
  • feeble support of gay rights and reproductive rights
  • problematic on church/state separation
  • supportive of massive military spending
These people think the Green Party and Ralph Nader are the enemy as much as the GOP. After what I've seen in the last couple of years, I'm not sure I can vote for the Democratic politicians that "represent" me. In the last presidential election, I got to watch Joseph Lieberman state, "the Constitution promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. We are after all not just another nation, but 'one nation under God.' " He also said that morality was impossible without religion. These are not the statements of a "liberal" political party -- they are those of a religious party.

I see Richard Gephardt saying that, with the new threat of global terrorism, the United States must be "ready to strike, not just deter."

I see the USA Patriot Act pass 356-66 in the House, and 98-1 in the Senate.

I see the Senate unanimously approve a resolution sponsored by its Democratic and Republican leaders that expressed support for the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance. The statement by the DNC chairman says: "Today's decision by the Federal Appeals Court is unfortunate. The pledge of allegiance is a reflection of the values of America and have been an important, patriotic tradition for more than a century. I trust that the judicial process will ultimately overturn this wrong-headed decision."

I see the Democratic party support the failure that is the War on Drugs.

I see the Democratic party support abortion, but not public funding. They believe the "right to choose" is for those who can afford such a right. They don't seem to have a problem with my tax dollars going for plenty of things I don't approve of.

As a gay man, I find it laughable that anyone could vote for the Republican party, but "they're not as bad as the GOP" is not a good enough reason for me to vote for the Democrats. They must earn my vote -- they do not have a "right" to it. Given the ways the party has acquiesced as the Bush administration has shredded the Bill of Rights since 9/11, I will not vote for a Democratic candidate again unless I see a fundamental change in their behavior.

Washington Post article:

The FBI is visiting libraries nationwide and checking the reading records of people it suspects of having ties to terrorists or plotting an attack, library officials say.

The FBI effort, authorized by the antiterrorism law enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks, is the first broad government check of library records since the 1970s when prosecutors reined in the practice for fear of abuses.

Note that it is illegal under the Patriot Act for a librarian to state that they have turned over records to the FBI. The FBI has to obtain a search warrant from a secret court and must only "show it has reason to suspect that a person is involved with a terrorist or a terrorist plot – far less difficult than meeting the tougher legal standards of probable cause, required for traditional search warrants or reasonable doubt, required for convictions."

This country is becoming a police state.

After a court ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance containing the phrase "under God" (added in 1954) is unconstitutional, our elected leaders all rushed to proclaim their support for God:

House members gathered on the front steps of the Capitol to recite the Pledge of Allegiance en masse. The Senate unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by its Democratic and Republican leaders that expressed support for the reference to God in the pledge, and instructed the Senate's legal counsel to intervene in the case. The vote was 99 to 0, with Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) absent.

When the phrase "Under God" was added in 1954, Eisenhower said the change was being made "to recognize a Supreme Being" and advance religion at a time "when the government was publicly inveighing against atheistic communism".

Handy chart of the Bush administration's corporate connections.

I live in NYC, and I worry about what might happen that could destroy this city. Our "leaders" are doing nothing to make this world a safer place. It's stupid to spend $400 billion a year on defense. We now spend more on our military budget than the rest of the world combined. In fact, the $48 billion increase requested for this year is larger than the total budget of any other country. Is it making us safer? Is having huge military budgets the way to protect what we believe in? I don't think so. Look at the Cessna scare -- the Reuters headline is US Fighters Arrived Too Late to Guard White House.

It's some kind of scary Old Testament belief. America has always been about deterrence and punishment to prevent bad things from happening, rather than prevention. How else can we explain the war on drugs? Why do we prefer to spend money on prisons and police rather than education?

Maybe the "Old Testament" thing is more of an excuse than we deserve? One could argue that we prefer punishment because there is more money to be made that way. It's hard to measure the profitability of foreign aid (and we're at the bottom of industrialized nations for our foreign aid budget). It's easier to measure what the defense contractors are making.

Bush's handlers claim his speeches are influenced by his knowledge of the great thinkers:

On the morning of June 14, on the way to a college commencement address in Columbus, Ohio, Bridgeland, director of USA Freedom Corps, briefed reporters on a speech President Bush was about to give. It would be, according to Bridgeland, based on the works of George Eliot, Alexis de Tocqueville, Cicero, Adam Smith, Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, Pope John Paul II, Benjamin Rush, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

"And we've actually discussed [Aristotle's] 'Nicomachean Ethics' together," Bridgeland said, apparently with a straight face. "Yesterday, he was talking in the Oval Office about how Lincoln had completed or addressed the concern that the founding fathers had when -- Madison in particular, when he rejected Patrick Henry's request to include a declaration of rights in addition, because of the concern that future generations would not remember that there are duties associated with protecting the country we love so much. He made that very case yesterday in the Oval Office."

The article is worth reading for the comparison of Bush's speeches with the words of Jefferson, de Tocqueville, etc.

Found via cursor.org:

In a press conference with Rumsfeld, the Georgian defense minister tells the press that there are basically no al-Qaeda in his country, and that the USA has been pumping huge sums of money into the country:

it's very difficult to me to say how much billions were spent by the U.S. I wish to assure you that what was done during these years, and especially since 1998 up to this day, is much bigger than any millions you can count.

House Passes Mormon Land Deal

The House quietly passed legislation yesterday allowing the Mormon Church to buy more than 900 acres of federal land in Wyoming to commemorate a religious site.

Then this is the weird part. What's up with the House? A secret Mormon cabal?

Despite the controversy surrounding the bill, just two lawmakers -- Hansen and Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D-Mich.) were present to say "aye" when the measure came up to a vote. The legislation will face a tougher time in the Senate, where both of Wyoming's Republican senators, Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi, oppose the bill.

"The Martin's Cove area is public land in Wyoming, and I feel that decisions regarding our public lands ought to reflect the will of our people," Thomas said.

Covering Bush's commencement address at Ohio State Univeristy, The Washington Post tells us:

The commencement addresses of George W. Bush serve as guideposts to a presidency first troubled, then revived.

A year ago, he received an honorary degree from his alma mater, Yale University, where he was booed, heckled and greeted with a sea of protest signs. Scores of professors boycotted the ceremony because they thought Bush undeserving, an image Bush himself indulged. "To the C students, I say, 'You, too, can be president of the United States,' " he said then.

Today, at Ohio State University, Bush basked in the adulation of 55,000 people who treated him to waves of standing ovations in Ohio Stadium as he received an honorary doctorate. University officials bestowing the ceremonial hood on the president hailed him as "the most sought-after commencement speaker in the nation" and praised his "common-sense approach," his "unwavering faith in the nation" and his overall leadership since Sept. 11, which "comforted and inspired us all."

According to FAIR, protesters were threatened with arrest for so much as turning their backs on the President during his speech:

According to the Columbus Dispatch (6/15/02), students were warned ahead of time they faced arrest if they showed any signs of dissent: "Graduates had been warned during rehearsal on Thursday that they faced arrest if-- as was rumored-- some stood up and turned their backs on Bush during his speech." The warning continued on the day of the event as well, according to the Associated Press (6/14/02): "Immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university's speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a 'thunderous' ovation."

What a beautiful lesson in patriotism. The students from OSU have a web site covering the event, and the followup, including statements by protesters at www.turnyourbackonbush.com.


Tom the Dancing Bug - Bush insists "Up is down"

Doug Marlette

Under Mayor Giuliani, municipal workers were forbidden to talk to the press without permission. Not surprisingly, the city lost a lawsuit over this. Now that we have a mayor who has heard of the Bill of Rights, the city won't appeal the decision.

As I've heard Ann Northrop say more than once, "How do they sleep at night?".

Bob Barr, Georgia Republican and the House impeachment manager during the Clinton impeachment travesty, is suing Clinton, James Carville and Larry Flint for $30 million, claiming "loss of reputation and emotional distress". (This is a Salon Premium article, so unless you're a subscriber you'll only see the beginning.)

Barr has quietly filed a suit against Clinton, Carville and Flynt for "participating in a common scheme and unlawful on-going conspiracy to attempt to intimidate, impede and/or retaliate against [Barr]" for his role as an impeachment manager in 1999.

At the same time, he's championing a bill that would limit non-economic medical damages to $250,000, saying "a national liability insurance crisis is ravaging the nation's healthcare system."

There's a mention of the lawsuit in the Washington Post, but not the bill limiting damages.

Speaking of Bob Barr... here is a nice little anecdote that was reported on the local NBC affiliate, plus the Alanta Journal and Constitution, about him calling an airport guard an "idiot little nigger".

Actual AP headline: Bush pledges fight against evil:

"Evil is evil, and we will fight it with all our might," the president said.

Interesting article in the Washington Post:

A conservative group is suing the Bush administration for access to documents about last fall's anthrax attacks, asserting that top officials might have known the bioterrorist attack was coming.


Larry Klayman, chairman of Judicial Watch, said administration officials said last fall that some White House staff members had begun taking the antibiotic Cipro on Sept. 11, weeks before the anthrax attacks were made public.

"We believe that the White House knew or had reason to know that an anthrax attack was imminent or underway," Klayman said. "We want to know what the government knew and when they knew it."

Can someone explain to me why I should even consider voting for one of the 2 major parties at this point? The people in charge are too stupid to figure out how to make the world safer. They're doing everything they can to destroy what good will we had from the rest of the world after 9/11.

Gephardt Backs War on Terror

House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) said yesterday he supports military action "to terminate the threat" from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but said he is "deeply concerned" that the administration has moved too slowly to improve homeland defenses.

Gephardt, a prospective 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, offered broad support for President Bush's war on terrorism. He endorsed views outlined in the president's commencement speech at West Point on Saturday, saying that, with the new threat of global terrorism, the United States must be "ready to strike, not just deter."

The latest "Get Your War On" episode was published on May 22 and I hadn't even noticed until today.

Tom Tomorrow's blog has a story on Bush's visit with Brazil's President, in which he asked, "Do you have blacks too?"

The original story is in Der Spiegel. I'm not surprised this one didn't make it into the U.S. papers.

I suppose this could be an urban legend, but the point of the story is that with Bush we're not sure. I don't think we could imagine Clinton or Carter or even G. Bush I asking such a thing. With Bush II, it seems possible.

I've been reading this essay: The Bush 9/11 Scandal for Dummies, by Bernard Weiner, on the always useful Common Dreams web site. While I don't subscribe to the full conspiracy theory aspect of this, I think there are some things worth considering.

My take on this is that the Bush administration knew that something was likely to happen, and decided to take a calculated risk that it wouldn't be too bad. Their other alternative was to panic the U.S. and possibly bring our already shaky economy into a deep recession. Perhaps they feared that if they had warned us and nothing happened, they would have been roundly criticized for "crying wolf".

The problematic aspect of this: Apparently administration officials thought the risk was high enough that they changed their behavior over the summer to avoid the risk to themselves of commercial airline-based terrorism:

It seems they weren't the only people with advance warning:
  • San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was warned by "an airport security man" on September 10 to rethink his flight to New York for the next day

  • Many members of a Bronx mosque were warned to stay out of lower Manhattan on September 11

It would be easier to brush the author off as just another "conspiracy theorist" if the Bush administration hadn't refused to allow any serious investigation of the intelligence failings that led to September 11. If administration officials felt that the warnings they had were enough to warrant changes in travel plans for the President and members of the cabinet, and failed to warn the American people, I think it's fair to say their behavior was treasonous.

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from June 2002.

next archivePolitics: July 2002



3 latest

3 random