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October 30, 2004

2 Days to Election 2004

I leave tomorrow for New Mexico for Election Monitoring with Election Protection. So it's possible this may be my last post before the election. Vote. Vote Early. Make sure Kerry supporters vote.

Here's to victory!!

Updates

The McMinnville News-Register printed my letter to the editor (scroll down) as "No more misadventures from strategic errors" this Saturday, which couldn't be be timing in my opinion (for whatever undecideds there are out there!). In the paper edition, it was the first letter -- good position! A key part of the argument was:

"Could 9/11 have been prevented? No one knows, but they weren't even trying. They had kept America's counter-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke "out of the loop"...."

I wrote recently about helping out with the Republicans, Business Leaders and Veterans for Kerry bus tour on Monday, and we got great coverage an article in the McMinnvile News-Register in their next (Wednesday) edition. Photo with me in it is not online :-(

W.L. and D.L. hosted a great fund-raiser for America Coming Together .. and great conversation afterwards at Ponzi Bistro. If you can believe it, after announcing the event on their website, they got a call saying it might be bad for "a small business like yours" to support ACT. So, I encourage you to come by and taste and buy some wine from some of the finest people and winemakers in Oregon.

John Kerry for President

The more time passes, the more impressive John Kerry becomes. To me, he's not just not-Bush. I just watched "Going Upriver", about John Kerry's early years up through the Vietnam War protests. Kerry today is in many ways the same man he was 30 years ago -- straightforward, smart, direct, driven by a higher purpose than himself. A sense of clear, high moral character and deep integrity that has shown in his actions about how he campaigns as well as in words and deeds. A good man, worthy of respect, who recognizes a dangerous fight with a bully but stands up to him for the good of America.

Can you imagine being in John Kerry's these last months, having to carry the burden of opposing this president with all the tools and viciousness at Bush's disposal? Few people are that strong. I am glad I am not in Kerry's shoes.

So, let us not rest these final days but rather continue to see that we win back America through John Kerry:

  • Go canvassing this weekend and
  • help from home by making a few calls to get other canvassers out in battleground states.

Republicans for Kerry

If there are any Republicans still wavering, here's a run-down of several Republicans for Kerry organizations to see what Republicans themselves are saying about why they support Kerry. See also this roundup at John Kerry's website.

Here is another conservative, life-long Republican testimonial against Bush. And this one from someone who is in the rarified air around Bush. From Conversation with a Conservative: Peter G. Peterson

The Commerce Secretary in the Nixon administration explains that the Republican Party "has lost its moorings" in recent years.
"....a long-term tax cut is not a tax cut at all, unless it's accompanied by long-term spending cuts. It's what you'd call a deferred tax increase on the future, which is our children."

"...during the Democratic, Clinton years, there was this bipartisan cooperation, to raise taxes on people like me, and to put caps on spending, and we had something called the "Pay as you go" rule."

"...And Dick Armey, who's hardly a liberal -- who used to be the House Majority Leader -- says we can't pin this one on the Democrats. We're in charge of the White House and the Congress."

[In a meeting with Bush Peter told Bush:] ".... tax cuts for people like us, before you've solved the costs you're going to be passing on to your kids, is in my judgment immoral. But you could just tell by his steely response that tax cuts are part of the theology."

Missing 380 Tons of Explosives in Iraq

There's something amiss in the language of the missing 380 tons of high explosives.

Using dump trucks holding 10 tons, it would require a convoy of 38 dump trucks or 38 trips by one truck. Using pick-ups carring 1 ton, it would take some 380 trips, or with a 10 pick-up convoy, 38 trips. This isn't "looting" where some people dashed inside and zipped out with whatever they could hold before anyone noticed. This was a big, long effort.

As Maureen Dowd wrote,

"Mr. Cheney and the neocons were in a deranged ideological psychosis, obsessing about imaginary weapons while allowing enemies to spirit the real ones away."

Bush's Abuse of Faith

Faith Abuse: When God Becomes A Campaign Ploy by Arianna Huffington

"Nowhere is this blending of church and campaign more evident than in "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House," a DVD being distributed to tens of thousands of America's churches.

Although not officially the work of the Bush-Cheney campaign, it obviously has its approval, and indeed was screened at a party for Christian conservatives hosted by the campaign at the GOP convention in New York."

No on 36

The US constitution, aside from how the government is constituted, is not about enshrining history or traditions, but about preserving individual rights in a non-discriminatory fashion against encroachment of the state or by other people. Aside from crimes against the state (treason), the constitution doesn't address what things shall be crimes committed by individuals -- not even murder, burglary, etc. Those are left as "malleable" items that can be defined and changed by legislative action, so long as they don't infringe on the rights quaranteed in the constitution. This, in recognition that societal mores change and tradition and accepted behavior change over time.

A ban on gay marriage certainly doesn't meet those tests of whether it is deserving of being elevated to the constitution.

Forward-looking

Bush seems to have given many Republicans pause, causing them to re-evaluate their values. I think there is an interesting opportunity for progressives to mold a more universal message, by incorporating the recognition by many Republicans that fiscal responsibility is more important than lower taxes, that tax burdens should be progressive and not regressive, that they care about the environment, civil liberties, separation of church & state and especially that those less fortunate should not be just left to themselves.

Election Reflection

There is no need to tally again the unbelievably long list of terrible things Bush has done to this country (The Nation has one nice tally of their top 100 issues with Bush), nor to enumerate the horrors that Bush could visit upon us and he rest of the world with four years of unrestrained messianic ideology unleashed through what is not neo-conservatism, but rather neo-fascism.

Instead, as we close in on the final days of the campaign and as I review this election cycle, and my own mini-oddessy during it, I find myself strangely close to where I started writing in December 2003, angry and driven by a sense of frustration and of foreboding about Bush. And today, angry as ever with Bush, but now with the hope of John Kerry.

As I reflected and wrote the following, it was a while before I realized how much what I was writing was earily similar to my first piece "A Moderates Manifesto" (first in a long line of unpublished letters and op-ed pieces sent to the New York Times ;-). In that piece I argued that moderate Republicans need to quit the party in order to remake it. I little imagined that we'd not only find so many actually doing that, and doing it publicly, but also finding so many dyed-in-the-wool conservative Republicans also now repudiating the Bush-led fundamentalist Republicans.

See "Unfit to Govern".

October 28, 2004

Unfit to Govern

When I was growing up, I hated the idea that voting machines had a lever to vote the straight party ticket. I thought you should pick the best candidate. When I was eligible to vote, I registered as an independent. I'm not really a "joiner".

But over time, what became very clear was that I abhored certain Republican behavior even more than I disagreed with some of their positions. This is frighteningly so in the Bush administration.

Whether the debate is about judicial nominees, the reduction of civil liberties by parts of the Patriot Act, the veracity of the justificaction for the Iraq war, the indefinite detention of hundreds of prisoners through a possible legal loophole between US and international law, how we work with international allies and institutions, the appropriateness of multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts, running up huge deficits, and all the other issues of our times, the Republicans today insist with righteous indignation on getting everything they want (and even grab for more if others try and whittle it back) and accuse the opposition variously of abetting terrorists or of being unpatriotic or, condescendingly, of being naive, or they yell at them and call them names and threaten them. Then they seek political revenge on those expressing their constitutional right as Senators to vote according to the rules of the Senate ... and ultimately they seek to stifle the voice of representatives elected by almost half of us.

There is some awful streak in the Republican party that seems to draw them toward divisiveness and vitriol. They become so convinced of their own rightness and they focus on achieving their goals at the cost of rejecting civil discourse over differing opinions, to the loss of respect for those who disagree with them, and to the loss of the rights of the political minorities. That is, they are focused not on the good of society as a whole but on imposing their view on the rest of us.

In contrast to being a "uniter", Bush has turned out to be the "dis-uniter in chief". He has divided America from its allies, divided the already-rich from those seeking the opportunity to move up the middle-class, and stimulated a level of partisanship that is at an all-time high.

With arrogance and hubris, with lack of compassion and lack of respect for others, the radically right Republican party is using their elected positions to force their own agenda on all of us. They are discarding compromise, they are discarding respect for others whether here or around the world. We can now see and hear the clamoring by the left as they rise up to fend off the bludgeoning of two decades from the right. It is this polarization that the right is creating which looms before us.

Thus has this Republican party has shown itself unable to promote the GENERAL welfare of this country.

In the last fifty years, the the greatest threats to constitutional goverment have been Republicans: Senator Joe McCarthy, President Richard M. Nixon and now President George. W. Bush. They are so focused on power that they are willing to villify patriots, to lie and deceive, and to disenfranchize voters.

Republicans are unfit to govern.

October 26, 2004

6 Days to Election 2004

It's not over 'til it's over. I'm confident but not complacent. There's still time to make a difference!

In this entry:

  • You can make a difference in a battleground state right now!
  • Republicans, Business Leaders and Veterans for Kerry bus tours
  • The New Yorker magazine Kerry endorsement
  • No on 36 (Oregon measure banning gay marriage)
  • Bush and Republicans effort to undermine media
  • Will the conservative Republican endorsements of John Kerry never end?
  • John Kerry, The Rolling Stone Interview (excerpt of Kerry's agenda)


You can make a difference in a battleground state right now!

Wow, what a great 10 minutes I had! And you too can help in a battleground state from home in 10 minutes. Here's how:

  1. I clicked on http://calls.johnkerry.com (here)
  2. printed out the phone script,
  3. clicked the button, and
  4. the Kerry campaign displayed 5 names and phone numbers of Kerry supporters in Akron, OH to call.

I called them all, working to get canvassers for last Saturday at 10am and Sunday at noon,

  • talking with them or leaving messages and
  • clicking the response buttons on the form and then
  • sent back the Kerry campaign database the results of my 5 calls.

Then I was out the door, off to a meeting.

In less than 10 minutes, you can make a difference in battleground states across the country helping the Kerry campaign get out the vote. And then keep calling.

Instead of this election being a "squeaker", help ensure we get out the vote yourself across the battleground states and make sure we send Bush packing!

Republicans, Business Leaders and Veterans for Kerry bus tours

Sunday's Oregonian had an ad that listed 240 of the 500 Republicans, Business Leaders and Veterans for Kerry which I joined a few weeks ago.

On Monday I joined the Republicans, Business Leaders and Veterans for Kerry bus tour to McMinnville, Dallas and Albany, OR before having to skeedaddle to a meeting. What an experience hearing people's heartfelt reasons for leaving the Republican party, or why they're standing up for Kerry, or demanding to know why George W. Bush hasn't been held responsible for 9/11 happening on his watch (man who lost several friends in it), a position that frustrates me too and was recently addressed in the American Prospect.

By 3pm we'd already gotten coverage on the radio. [Updated 10/27/2004: Excellent coverage in the McMinnville News-Register too.]

The New Yorker magazine Kerry endorsement

The amazing The New Yorker magazine Kerry endorsement (thanks, A.N.). Sure wish I could marshall my thoughts and writing like that!

No on 36 (Oregon measure banning gay marriage)

Several people have asked me about Measure 36 and supporting the No on 36 effort, which I definitely do. Most of the election I have worked other issues that have overlapping support (Kerry, Measure 37, ...) because of the belief that publicizing Measure 36 tends to bring out more opposition that also solidifies around Bush than it helps. However, Measure 36 has gotten so much play lately that my old position isn't relevant now.

As a G.R. put it some time ago when we discussed this:

A letter to the Oregonian that talks about 36 will bring two conservatives to the polls for every liberal.

I think most observers would say that Rhinehart's purpose in talking about marriage was to reelect Bush. This is a republican issue.

Support No on 36's efforts:

The Rockridge Institute has a fascinating look at the language and positioning of the gay marriage issue.

The People for the American Way has some interesting related resources.

Bush and Republicans effort to undermine media

This excerpt is from a follow-up interview with Ron Suskind (author of Without a Doubt in The New York Times Sunday Magazine 10/17/2004) in an article Reality Based Reporting in Salon.com 10/20/2004

Do you think the attack on the press is a way to eliminate a national point of reference on facts?

Absolutely! That's the whole idea, to somehow sweep away the community of honest brokers in America -- both Republicans and Democrats and members of the mainstream press -- sweep them away so we'll be left with a culture and public dialogue based on assertion rather than authenticity, on claim rather than fact. Because when you arrive at that place, then all you have to rely on is perception. And perception as the handmaiden of forceful executed power is the great combination that we're seeing now in the American polity.

So what are you left with? Perception and, increasingly, faith. Think about faith. Try to anchor that in the traditional public dialogue of informed consent in America, which has in large measure at least been based on discernible reality and on facts that can be proven -- not only facts coming out of the government but facts people feel in their own lives.

It is one devil of a challenge. One man's conversation with God guides the globe and human affairs. How exactly do you frame that inside the secular writ of informed consent based on facts? I think those who are forcefully running the White House electoral machine -- and the soul of this machine is an extraordinary operation -- understand this with great alacrity.

As with so many of us, several times I've raised the issue of fundamentalists taking over the Republican party and Bush's mind. Here's an interesting recap of when this problem raised it's ugly head in 1922 by Harry Emerson Fosdick on May 21, 1922, from the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City wrote “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”, presented by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy as Will the Fundamentalists Win? A Question Revisited:

That historic Fosdick sermon on the fate of fundamentalism was delivered in a context heavily populated by self-designated protectors of truth who were seeking to cleanse their churches of all persons deemed to possess a progressive or liberal mindset....

Today, 82 years later, the situation is as much the same as it is dramatically different. Now, it is clear, fundamentalism is not just a tempest in an ecclesiastical tea pot but a powerful phenomenon in most of the major religions of the world....

Let there be no mistake in understanding, at stake in the divides of the present moment are nothing less than the vitality of democracy and the integrity of Christianity within this nation....

Christian fundamentalism will not be defeated by the strategic, targeted opposition of people like us so much as, eventually, it will self-destruct. Fundamentalism carries within its very nature the seeds of its own demise....

For some similar reasons, I don't think that the fundamentalists are likely to prevail over time as I've said or worried about, for example here:

Will the conservative Republican endorsements of John Kerry never end?

See the blog on George Soros's website for a whole rank of Republicans writing in.

'Frightened to death' of Bush By Marlow W. Cook, a former Republican Senator, Special to The Courier-Journal

.... Lyndon Johnson said America could have guns and butter at the same time. This administration says you can have guns, butter and no taxes at the same time. God help us if we are not smart enough to know that is wrong, and we live by it to our peril.

I am not enamored with John Kerry, but I am frightened to death of George Bush. I fear a secret government. I abhor a government that refuses to supply the Congress with requested information. I am against a government that refuses to tell the country with whom the leaders of our country sat down and determined our energy policy....

For me, as a Republican, I feel that when my party gives me a dangerous leader who flouts the truth, takes the country into an undeclared war and then adds a war on terrorism to it without debate by the Congress, we have a duty to rid ourselves of those who are taking our country on a perilous ride in the wrong direction.

If we are indeed the party of Lincoln (I paraphrase his words), a president who deems to have the right to declare war at will without the consent of the Congress is a president who far exceeds his power under our Constitution.

I will take John Kerry for four years to put our country on the right path.

John Kerry, The Rolling Stone Interview

There's a great interview of John Kerry in Rolling Stone, of which I've pulled a few excerpts. By JANN S. WENNER

[Kerry lays out his agenda:]
First of all, make America safe, and deal with nuclear proliferation and the global confrontation.

Second, we have to create jobs and be fiscally responsible -- so that we're creating the framework for America to be strong at home.

Third, we have to have a system that provides health care for all Americans, and I have a plan to do that.

Fourth, we're going to have education that works for everybody -- that lifts people up. Ongoing adult education -- a system that works.

And fifth, we're going to have an environmental policy that leaves this planet to our kids in better shape than we got it from our parents.

That's it -- that's the agenda.
....

If you send troops into Iraq, how will you be able to tell them they're not risking their lives for a mistake?

Because I'm going to make it a success, 'cause we're going to win. We're going to do what we need to do to get this job done. And I'm committed to doing that -- and I know how to do it. I'll put a foreign-policy team together that talks the truth to the American people.

What do you mean when you say you know how to do it?

I've spent thirty-five years dealing with these kinds of issues. When I came back from fighting in a war, I fought against the war here in America. As a senator, I led the fight to stop Ronald Reagan's illegal war in Central America. I helped expose Oliver North and Manuel Noriega. I've been at this for a long time. You know, I led the initial efforts to change our policy on the Philippines -- which ultimately resulted in the elections, and became part of the process that helped get rid of Marcos.

I negotiated personally with the prime minister of Cambodia, to get accountability for the killing fields of the Pol Pot regime. I've negotiated with the Vietnamese to let me and John McCain in and put American forces on the ground to resolve the POW-MIA issue. I've spent twenty years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; I've been chairman of the Narcotics Terrorism Subcommittee. I have five times the experience George Bush does in dealing with these issues, and I know that I can get this done.
People say this is the most important election of our lifetime -- do you agree?

I believe it is. And I want your readers to stop in their tracks and consider what's at stake for them. Because not enough people connect the things they hate, or feel or want, to the power of their vote. And they've got to be willing to go out and work in these next couple of weeks.

How do you yourself feel? What burden does it place on you?

You know, I've been in public life all my life -- with one brief exception, when I was a lawyer and started a small business. I accept the weight, but I don't feel it. I've lived out so much frustration over the last few years that this is a liberating experience for me. I feel excited by it. I feel energized by it. I welcome it. And I just want other people to understand what's at stake here.

How did you feel when you first saw those Swift-boat ads?

Disappointed -- a sense of bitter disappointment. That people will stoop to those depths of lying -- for their personal reasons.

Did you get angry at Bush personally?

Look, I know politics is tough, and I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what they do to me. But I do worry, and I am angry, about what they do to the American people. That's what this race is about. It's not about me. I can take it -- I don't care. I've been in worse things. I was on those boats -- I got shot at. I can handle it.

What I worry about is that they lie to America. What I worry about is that they tell the middle class, "We're giving you a tax cut," and the top one percent of America gets more than eighty percent of the rest of the people. I worry that they are unwilling to do anything about the 5 million Americans who have lost their health care.

I worry that there are twenty-eight states in America where you can't go fishing and eat the fish, because of the quality of the water. I worry that they've gotten us into a war where young kids are dying, and they haven't done what's responsible to protect them. That's what I worry about. The rest of it is small pickings.

You don't get angry when Bush outright lies about you?

No, I don't get angry at it. I think it's sort of pathetic.

Finally, if you were to look back over eight years of a Kerry presidency, what would you hope would be said about it?

That it always told the truth to the American people, that it always fought for average folks. And that we raised the quality of life in America and made America safer. I want to be the president who gets health care done for Americans. I want to be the president who helps to fix our schools and end this separate-and-unequal school system we have in America. And I want to be the president who re-establishes America's reputation in the world -- which is part of making us safer. There's a huge opportunity here to really lift our country up, and that's what I want to do.

Every 50 Years - American fascism in 2004

It would seem that every 50 years in America ... a form of fascism rears its ugly head.

I first got sent Thom Hartmann's The Ghost of Vice President Wallace Warns: "It Can Happen Here" (or excerpts here) about two months ago (from A.N.) and while I generally agreed with the parallels drawn, I felt it was too inflammatory. But as time has gone by and with reflection, tracking Al Gore's excellent series of speeches and the The New Yorker interview of Al Gore The Wilderness Campaign and with the reading of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. book Crimes Against Nature (and the like-named Rolling Stone article Crimes Against Nature, and with watching ever more Republican dirty tricks, lies, divisivness, etc. I realized I had let myself fall into a trap: to shy away from seeing the Bush administration as a resurgent form of fascism because it was unpleasant to accept what we've come to rather than to face it would be to refuse to learn from history. So I came back at it with a fresh eye.

We are currently faced with a political witch's brew:

  • religious evangelical fervor manipulated by
  • those with huge war chests excersizing tyrannical power for
  • corporate gain
  • under a lazy media eye that acts as megaphone for distortions instead of as a searchlight exposing them

Many people have touched on these issues. So without rehashing them, here's how I've organized them in my own mind:

  • power at all costs via a culture of spreading divisiveness in society
  • focus on feeding corporations
  • unexamined certainty in their own rightness

Power at all costs via a culture of spreading divisiveness in society

  • lies about, mocking & denigrating opposition candidates
  • disenfranchising ever larger segments of the population
  • demonizing certain segments of the population
  • using inflammatory issues to fog voter vision about the range of issues

abortion
flag burning
pledge
gay marriage

  • hyper-patriotism in all things as a bludgeon

flag desecration
pledge of allegiance
if you dissent, you are supporting the enemy
if you disagree with the Commander-In-Chief, you are supporting the enemy

  • implementation of the tyranny of the majority

no respect for the political opposition, even though it represents almost half of the citizens
releasing legislation to vote with no time for the opposition to read it
throwing arbitrary differences into house bills so that they have to be "resolved" in house-senate joint conferences without a vote in the senate
implementing constitutionally invalid legislation and regulations knowing that it will take a few years before they can be adjudicated in the courts

  • court-stripping
  • indefinite detentions with no hapeus corpus

Focus on feeding corporations

  • energy - task force of corporations only
  • environmental roll-backs, eliminating appeals, etc.
  • haliburton no-bid contracts
  • industry lobbyists becoming agency heads across the board
  • industry writing regulations secretly

Unexamined certainty in their own rightness

  • convinced of their own greatness, they isolate themselves from disagreement, from dissent, from allies, and ultimately from the majority of America, such as Clarke, O'Neil
  • "free speech cages"
  • proof of loyalty to attend campgaign rallies
  • wearing a t-shirt saying "Protect Our Civil Liberties or asking uncomfortable questions can get you arrested
  • repudiating treaties
  • distancing the country from 200-year American allies
  • ignoring swing voters and focusing ever more narrowly on evangelicals

Franklin D. Roosevelt had quite a bit to say about this and more:

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes strong than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power."

"True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."

"We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we now know that it is bad economics."

October 20, 2004

Excerpts from The Ghost of Vice President Wallace Warns: "It Can Happen Here"

The Ghost of Vice President Wallace Warns: "It Can Happen Here" by Thom Hartmann

The Republican National Committee has recently [(as of July, 2004)] removed from the top-level pages of their website an advertisement interspersing Hitler's face with those of John Kerry and other prominent Democrats....

The RNC's feeble attempt to equate Hitler and Democrats was short-lived, but it brings to mind [FDR's second vice president Henry A. Wallace who wrote an article] in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.

"The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."

.... As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

.... in Wallace's view, most politicians still felt it was their obligation to represent We The People instead of corporate cartels. "American fascism will not be really dangerous," he added in the next paragraph, "until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information..."

.... In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip - runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy as anti-American. When Windrip becomes President, he opens a Guantanamo-style detention center, and the viewpoint character of the book, Vermont newspaper editor Doremus Jessup, flees to Canada to avoid prosecution under new "patriotic" laws that make it illegal to criticize the President.

In a comment prescient of George W. Bush's recent suggestion that civilization itself is at risk because of gays, Wallace continued:

"The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power...."

.... "The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact," Wallace wrote. "Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy."

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism the Vice President of the United States saw rising in America, he added, "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...."

Finally, Wallace said, "The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. ... Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must ... develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels."

This liberal vision of an egalitarian America in which very large businesses and media monopolies are broken up under the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust Act ... was the driving vision of the New Deal (and of "Trust Buster" Teddy Roosevelt a generation earlier).

.... In 2004, we again stand at the same crossroad Roosevelt and Wallace confronted during the Great Depression and World War II. Fascism is again rising in America, this time calling itself "compassionate conservatism." The RNC's behavior today eerily parallels the day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, "In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for."

It's particularly ironic that the CEOs and lobbyists who run the Republican National Committee would have chosen to put Hitler's fascist face into one of their campaign commercials, just before they launched a national campaign against gays and while they continue to arrest people who wear anti-Bush T-shirts in public places.

President Roosevelt and Vice President Wallace's warnings have come full circle. Which is why it's so critical that this November we join together at the ballot box to stop this most recent incarnation of feudal fascism from seizing complete control of our nation.

October 19, 2004

14 Days to Election 2004

Ballots are being delivered in Oregon, so now's the time to mark your ballot for John Kerry, David Wu, No on 37, etc. and get them in early. Don't let some disaster or family emergency possibly interfere later. The Kerry campaign is organizing balloting day this Wednesday: get them in on or before Wednesday so we can:

  • establish momentum
  • avoid wasting GOTV $$ and efforts on ourselves!

Bush's team is working the evangelical vote hard, trying to get another 4 million votes. Why not take a few days off work this week and next and call and canvass for John Kerry?

Here is a poignant reminder of why it is important to try and make this election as clean as possible, and a win for Kerry over intentional voter disenfranchisement:

"how do i explain this to my kids? "play fair shanti." he says "why daddy, the president doesn't have to, why should i?" btw, we really did not have this conversation - however i am really afraid i will have to."

And if you suspect voter fraud in Oregon, you can send email to (thanks DL): [email protected]

You know, the Bush administration is so bad and so dangerous, that sometimes I'm guilty of not making the case for Kerry. Who I think is a great candidate for president! So ....

Why I trust Kerry with my vote.

Through the fog of misleading attacks on Kerry, here's why I trust John Kerry.

Kerry's History: Eyewitnesses, including the man who's life he saved, have established his willingness to sacrifice himself for others. When he saw egregious leadership failures that cost the lives of others, he took an unpopular, public stand against the political conduct of the Vietnam war. He subsequently devoted his life to public service, fighting for money, care and recognition for veterans who had fought the Vietnam war. (See also my commentary from last month on Why is Vietnam relevant today?)

Kerry's criticism of Bush: When he criticizes the president, he does it over deeply held convictions about policy and leadership failures, not with ridicule, name-calling and personal attacks.

Kerry's positions: pulling out just a select two: his Energy Independence plan and his Healthcare plan. Kerry's energy policy is a refreshing look at the problem: not just idealistic-but-unrealistic goals whether high tech (hydrogen is a decade or two away at best) or conservation-will-save-us -- but instead Kerry has taken a comprehensive look at how we can make realistic progress now to reduce dependence on unreliable suppliers, stop sending so much money to other countries, build jobs using hybrid technology, etc. On healthcare, a similar effort to confront serious societal issues with creative thinking about realistic ways to make substantial progress quickly.

Behind these are a deep-seated optimism that we can make a positive improvement to not only our future and our children's future, but also a positive improvement to the future of our friends and neighbors lives so we all have more opportunity. What the framers of the constitution may have considered part of the "general welfare", not just the welfare of those in power. You know, like Ben Franklin's creation of the public lending library.

Of course it is easy to find weaknesses in any candidate -- personality or policies you don't agree with -- but we only get to vote on each candidate as the complete package of good and bad attributes, associates and policies. So it isn't a question of whether a candidate is our ideal candidate, but how much better one complete package is over the other on the ballot for achieving our overall goals. I think Kerry is a damn good complete package.

The New York Times endorsement of John Kerry for President does a great job of laying out both the detailed case against Bush and the strong case for Kerry. Following are excerpts (emphasis mine):

He [Kerry] has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent.

We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking...

....his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core."

There is no denying that this race is mainly about Mr. Bush's disastrous tenure....

Mr. Kerry has the capacity to do far, far better. He has a willingness - sorely missing in Washington these days - to reach across the aisle. We are relieved that he is a strong defender of civil rights, that he would remove unnecessary restrictions on stem cell research and that he understands the concept of separation of church and state. We appreciate his sensible plan to provide health coverage for most of the people who currently do without.

Mr. Kerry has an aggressive and in some cases innovative package of ideas about energy, aimed at addressing global warming and oil dependency. He is a longtime advocate of deficit reduction. In the Senate, he worked with John McCain in restoring relations between the United States and Vietnam, and led investigations of the way the international financial system has been gamed to permit the laundering of drug and terror money. He has always understood that America's appropriate role in world affairs is as leader of a willing community of nations, not in my-way-or-the-highway domination.

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.

Voting for president is a leap of faith. A candidate can explain his positions in minute detail and wind up governing with a hostile Congress that refuses to let him deliver. A disaster can upend the best-laid plans. All citizens can do is mix guesswork and hope, examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character. It's on those three grounds that we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president.

Other points being made for Kerry:

  • Vote for a Man, Not a Puppet, by lifelong conservative Republican Charley Reese is circulating from May this year
  • Endorsements by Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald
  • Conscience of a Conservative: http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20041025&s=george102504

As well as against Bush:

And finally a taste from Al Gore's most recent speech ((emphasis mine), butyou'll have to read the rest yourself):

I have tried hard to understand what it is that gives so many Americans an uneasy feeling that something very basic has gone wrong in our democracy. There are many people in both political parties who worry that there is something deeply troubling about President Bush's relationship to reason, about his disdain for facts, his incuriosity about new information that might produce a deeper understanding of the problems and policies that he wrestles with on behalf of the country.

.... Most of the problems President Bush has caused for this country stemmed not from his belief in God but his belief in the infallibility of the right-wing Republican ideology that exalts the interest of the wealthy, and of large corporations over and above the interests of the American people. It is love of power for its own sake that is the original sin of this presidency.

.... The essential cruelty of Bush's game is that he takes an astonishingly selfish and greedy collection of economic and political proposals, and then cloaks them with a phony moral authority, thus misleading many Americans who have a deep and genuine desire to do good in the world.

On-the-ground actions by friends:

  • LB, HB were filling out and delivering their ballots out yesterday and took them in!
  • SP and KP are hosting a ballot party Wednesday for a number of people -- I hope to join them. The John Kerry campaign is organizing ballot parties, so check the website for events in your area.
  • WL also joined Election Protection efforts and may join me in Albequrque where AN has enlisted 5 of her friends to join her as well.
  • SP says he's found door-to-door canvassing in western Washington County, OR surprisingly satisfying -- getting several people each day to support Kerry for President!
  • DB publicly endorsed Kerry through Washington Business Leaders for Kerry. As I did in Oregon, thanks to JC. FS and WL also joined the group on my invitation.
  • MN has commited to door-to-door canvassing in Florida next week.
  • DL wrote to Oregon's Secretary of State, Bill Bradbury, about voter fraud concerns here.

October 18, 2004

America: Forgetting Our Own Formative Lessons of History

One of the founding principles of our nation, deeply informing the constitution, is the separation of pillars of influence -- not just within the govenment apparatus (Administration, Legislature and Courts), but also of church, state and political speech. These are separated because the lessons of history that our founders had absorbed, show that concentration of power produces tyranny over those without the power. That is, it leads inevitably to suppression of other people's views and oppression (ostracism, imprisonment, death, exile) of those holding those organizing for freedom to express those views. And that leads to strife and the inability to achieve the overall societal aims.

That is a lesson the founders learned and built into our constitution in an effort to build an enduring, pluralistic society.

That is a lesson that President Bush hasn't learned and if Bush is elected in 2004, this grand experiment in tolerance may come to an ignominious end.

Today there is a clear desire to merge church and state as expressed by right-wing Catholic bishops and the evangelical fundamentalists including President Bush, Tom Delay, etc. And abetted by a certain ambivalence by many.

As well as opposition to this attempt as well:

While a huge majority (72 percent) affirms that a US president should have strong religious beliefs ...most are wary about involvement of religious leaders and houses of worship in partisan politics.

On the surface, this seems reasonable: why shouldn't religions be able to dictate to their followers how to vote? Why shouldn't they be able to engage in partisan electioneering to support a candidate, a party, a ballot measure, or legislation?

To see why this is a problem, let's refresh our memory: the first amendment of our constitution addresses several things in equal measure:

"Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Why are these rights separate? Because a democracy is founded on the ability of people to make free election choices. If one religious view is established over others, democracy ends. If people aren't allowed to publicly express their views, democracy is ended. If people can't organize and act collectively to induce change, democracy is ended.

Let us take but one example, Republican zealots have repeatedly attempted to allow religious organizations to endorse candidatesa and engage in partisan electioneering, àlà HR 235, referenced above.

Today, some Catholic bishops and evangelicals are united in their desire to pursue this direction. Today this appears as a united front of christians. But if they succeed, soon they will begin fighting with each other over which church's interpretations are the right ones.

And, as I wrote to The New York Times:

Political speech is the most fundamental free speech. As churches become political machines, are they prepared for the implications that services are now political events? Are ministers and worshipers ready for the excersize by others of their own free-speech rights? Do worshipers really want to have to push their way through a gauntlet of protesters? How long will it be before evangelicals are protesting at mosques, Catholics against Unitarians? Will churches be available to those who disagree with them?

Our constitution separates religion from state and from speech so that each can have its protected domain of influence in our lives. If we merge them, we will open a Pandora's Box of intolerance.

Well, perhaps some of these people haven't forgotten, but like Bush they never learned.

However, John Kerry knows the formative lessons of this nation and will maintain our constitution, not run roughshod over it.

Churches as Politcal Machines -- Opening Pandora's Box?

(New York Times, 10/18/2004

To the Editors:

The New York Times reported that for some bishops “there is only one way for a faithful Catholic to vote in this presidential election, for President Bush....”  Republicans bills, such as HR 235, allow religious groups to endorse political candidates and conduct partisan electioneering activities.

Political speech is the most fundamental free speech.  As churches become political machines, are they prepared for the implications that services are now political events?  Are ministers and worshipers ready for the excersize by others of their own free-speech rights?  Do worshipers really want to have to push their way through a gauntlet of protesters?  How long will it be before evangelicals are protesting at mosques, Catholics against Unitarians?  Will churches be available to those who disagree with them?

Our constitution separates religion from state and from speech so that each can have its protected domain of influence in our lives.  If we merge them, we will open a Pandora's Box of intolerance.

No more misadventures

(LA Times, 10/18/2004)

To the Editors:

The two events costing the most American lives since Vietnam occurred on Bush's watch: 9/11 and the Iraq war.

Could 9/11 have been prevented?  No one knows, but they weren't even trying!  They kept America's counter-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke "out of the loop" and wouldn't listen to his warnings and advice because he was not part of the Bush inner circle.  But he was right.

In Iraq:  Then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shinseki advised that a much larger force would be needed.  He was retired early.  But he was right: we were unable to secure the borders, stop the looting, and safeguard the reconstruction effort.

Paul O'Neill, warned the Bush tax cuts would create huge deficits -- he had to resign as Secretary of the Treasury.  Richard S. Foster, Medicare's Chief Actuary, had his job threatened after warning that the Bush medicare bill was going to cost an extra $100B.  Scientists at EPA and elsewhere have their findings overridden by political appointees.  But they are right.

We don't know what events will come in the next four years, but Bush would repeat his error: cutting out key people that don't agree with his preconceived notions.

Electing Bush assures some new misadventures -- we just don't know if it will be in Iran, North Korea, Homeland security, our children's health or their opportunity for advancement.

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