Good news/bad news -- 09/18/04

A magazine (I think it may have been Reason magazine -- I tried to track it down online and just lost an hour and a half to reading lots of political commentary without finding the quotation I was seeking) recently quipped about the 2004 presidential election campaign: There's good news and bad news. The good news is that one of these two candidates is going to lose. The bad news is that one of these two candidates will win.

Four years ago I didn't like either of the two main candidates. I will confess to feeling a bit more unease about a potential Gore victory than a potential Bush victory, but I think that was caused mostly by my Libertarian leanings that view Big-Government Liberals as being a greater threat to civil liberties than Small-Government Conservatives. (Yes, I know, I know... since election Bush has shown that he is neither for smaller government nor is he especially conservative, at least not as embodied by someone like the late Senator Barry Goldwater.) Once the election was over, the blatant hypocrisy with which Gore and the Democratic machine attempted to steal the election in Florida through a combination of demagoguery and partisan legal maneuvering, made me glad that he eventually failed. As I believe I noted at the time, even a total scumbag like Richard Nixon, one of the worst presidents in our history, had enough decency in 1960 to refuse to challenge blatant election fraud in Illinois and Texas in order to not split the country. (And yes, the events of 9/11 have made me truly grateful that he was not the president.)

I've not liked a lot of what Bush has done in office. In fact, in terms of domestic issues, the tax cuts are about the only thing he's done that I like. I oppose his failure to cut waste, fraud and pork in the budget; I think his No Child Left Behind is ridiculous (no, I'm not opposed to it because I think the federal government should pump even more billions into it and add even more layers of bureaucratic meddling; I'm opposed to it because I think it is an area where the federal government has no business interfering); I think parts of the Patriot Act are unconstitutional; I think the "War on Drugs" is a sick (and expensive) joke; I think many of his actions are shameful pandering to the most backward and bigoted segments of the hard-core fundamentalist Christian right (including his support for amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, keep your dirty hands off the Constitution!); his prescription drug program is more pandering (this time to the AARP and the senior lobby) that is totally fiscally irresponsible... and, well, I could go on, but I guess you get the idea....

In the wake of 9/11, I was pleased to see Bush showing leadership. I fully supported taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan. When it comes to the various "nations" in the Middle East with their support of jihadists and terrorists in general and for alQaeda in particular, I would support far more aggressive action than we have taken. I have always thought that we should tell the ruling kleptocracies in those lands: if we suspect that you are providing any support or aid to these jihadists, we will destroy your government. We don't intend to conquer your country and rule it, we're just going to overthrow you. If your replacement happens to be a democracy, that would be nice, but our concern is eliminating the jihadists and if your replacements provide assistance in that effort we will be happy with them. If, like you, they provide aid or support or shelter to the jihadists, then we will remove them also and will give their replacements a chance to prove themselves. Iraq was a special case. In a certain sense, there may have been a stronger case for taking out Iran first, but there was definitely a sufficient case for getting rid of Saddam. (I don't want to hear any "Bush lied" nonsense; almost everyone, including people like Bill Clinton, believed that Iraq had WMD programs and probably had working WMDs -- in fact, that was one of the arguments against war, that Saddam would use his WMDs against our troops! -- and, besides which, that was just part of the justifications for the war). However, I thought there was an especially strong reason for overthrowing Saddam: we owed it to the people of Iraq following the ill-advised way we stopped the first Gulf War without taking him out and then the craven and shameful way we encouraged the Iraqis to rise up against him and when they did, we stood by and did nothing while he slaughtered them by the tens of thousands. (And just where the hell were all of the oh-so-moral-and-concerned protesters back then?) Of course, having betrayed them like that, I don't know how anyone could expect them to greet us with cheers and bouquets of flowers.

Is everything going well in Iraq? No, things are a mess. Did we do everything right? No, the administration made some really bone-headed mistakes. Do they want to admit there were things they screwed up (and things they are still screwing up)? Of course not. Now, the reality is, we are there. So, from someone seeking to replace Bush, we need to hear how he will fix things. Okay, I suppose Kerry needs to tell us that he would have avoided the war or he would have done it in a more nuanced way that would have brought France in on our side (what is that man smoking? France, besides their natural political impulse to attempt to build their importance by opposing the U.S., etc., was so mired in oil and weapons deals with Saddam and had key figures raking in big chunks of the billions of dollars of illegal kickbacks and bribes under the U.N.'s Oil for Food program that they would never have joined with us in overthrowing Saddam)

But that is past, what we really need to hear is what he would do if he were elected to office. He has already told us that he too would have gone to war with Irag fully knowing what we now know. Uh, okay, so that was then, this is now, what would you do next. Ah, he has a secret plan, but he can't tell us because he isn't president. (Hmmm, seems to me I've heard that before, a guy named Dick Nixon, had a secret plan for ending the war in Vietnam.) Oh, and he would have all of our troops out before the end of his first term. Okay, so you are telling the jihadists that all they have to do is hang on and we will go home and let them take over? Kerry seems to only want to talk about his four months in Vietnam more than thirty years ago (and then only if nobody will ask him any questions about it, like about the lies he told about spending Christmas in Cambodia, a story he has since retracted, etc. -- And how come he continues to refuse to sign a form 180 authorizing release of his full records?) If you want to talk about your past, don't center everything on those four months, tell me about after you came home, about your accomplishments since then and how that complete record supports your claims for what you will accomplish over the next four years.

So, I didn't vote for Bush last time and, in many ways, I am unhappy with his programs and performance. (I think if the Democrats had nominated Lieberman I might be planning on voting for him.) But Kerry appears to be an even worse choice. I am trying to base that judgement on Kerry's record and on what he is saying. I am trying to avoid judging him by his supporters. (I don't know if these self-righteous morons realize it, but everytime I see some anal aperture waving a "Bush is Hitler" sign I have the fight the urge to immediately write out a check to the Republican campaign.... which is strange because, other than a city councilman in Binghamton whose political affiliation I can't remember, my limited amount of political contributing has been to Democrats.. in fact, we plan to contribute to the campaign of our Democratic state senator who is being opposed by a Republican who is truly Repugnant.)

Okay, enough rainy day ranting... I will try to avoid any more political discussion for the next few weeks because I really don't like our choices and it is depressing to thing about them.

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