Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Future in One Week

I received this email today, which was written by a friend's brother. I thought it was well-written and well-timed, so I wanted to share.

Hello Everyone,

With one week to go I'd like to make one last effort to convince everyone to vote on Nov. 2nd. Most of you already are going to vote and some of you already have. Still, humor me.

This election is going to be very close and extremely important for all of us. At stake are our national security, economy (both current and future), the education of our children, and the health and welfare of our older relatives and someday us. Add to the mix the new supreme court appointees that are likely over the next four years and you can feel the weight of this election.

You all know the situation we are in now and what has and has not happened over the last 4 years. With that in mind, I have attached a summary of the current administration's accomplishments during those four years. If you don't have time to read this short document, 'vote smart', then at least consider the following questions.

- How many of us have never made mistakes? Do you really trust someone who never admits to making mistakes?

- Are you better off now than four years ago?

- As the war in Iraq drags on and terrorists attack with more frequency around the world than ever before, are you safer now than before? (Really think about this one)

- With 90% of our military engaged with the Iraqi war, who would protect us if nuclear weapons from North Korea or Russia made it into terrorists' hands?

- Is it safer to be Strong and Wrong and on your own or Thoughtful and leader of a real coalition of strong friends? (Is providing 90% of the troups and money for the current coalition, really a coalition?)

From these questions, I guess you can figure who I'm voting for. Here's a hint, the same candidate that Bush's hometown paper in Crawford, Texas supports. If you're not sure or want more facts you can always check PBS, FactCheck.org, The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, or other nonpartisan organizations.

Take care and vote,

Hello All,

Well, here we are a little over a week from the most important election of our lifetime and I'm back to remind you all how important it is that everyone not only vote, but also cast an informed vote.

Unfortunately, the campaigns and the networks haven't really been doing a great job at helping us out. For example, 'The Swiftboaters' claims received lots of press, even though they have all been refuted by fact and government records. All, that is, but Kerry's claim to have been in Cambodia on Christmas Eve. Like Bush's missing National Guard dental records, there is no evidence to support his claim. Fahrenheit 911's overly enthusiastic presentation of information leading up to the Iraq War (though none of it refuted by the Bush Administration) has also turned off voters.

Where this leaves us is to find the facts out for ourselves. To this end, I have included the following web pages: www.factcheck.org, a site that is sponsored by the respected Annenberg Foundation, and www.people-press.org, sponsored by the equally well-respected Pew Charitable Trust. Checking these sites is a beginning, as other unbiased, non-partisan sites are available to help in making an informed decision November 2nd. Even if you are pretty sure who you're going to vote for, still have a look.

Now, if you'll indulge me a bit longer, I'd like to present you with some concerns that are at the crux of this election; the questions: "Are we better off now than 4 years ago?" and "Are we headed in the right direction?"

Let's start at home

Have the Bush Administration's policies strengthened the country?

A) Bush's economic policies (including his tax cuts that are disproportionately beneficial to the richest Americans), not the Iraq War or the War on Terror (they ARE two different wars), have wiped out the huge surplus he inherited coming into office. The country is now more in debt than ever before. Bush proposes to make these tax cuts permanent. This week he signed a $130+ billion tax cut for big business.

B) The country has lost more jobs than ever before and Bush will be the first president since Herbert Hoover (we all read about Hoovervilles in the Grapes of Wrath) to have a net job loss after 4 years in office. All other war time presidents added jobs.

C) The number of Americans under the poverty line has increased under Bush, more than any president since... you guessed it.

D) Bush's energy plans promote a continued and guaranteed dependence on foreign oil. (Was that why we invaded Iraq?) All the possible oil in Alaska's wildlife areas Bush wants to drill wouldn't satisfy the country's needs for more than 6 months.

E) Social Security now issues disclaimers on its statements that your benefits (the ones you paid for) may not be there when you retire and Bush has publicly spoken of privatizing Social Security. Individual retirement accounts are interesting, but how many of us made money on our investments in 2000 and 2001. Also, they will cost 1 trillion dollars just to be set up.

F) Health costs have risen and more Americans are now without insurance than ever before. Medicare payments have gone up (17% this year) in direct response to Bush's health care plan. Medicare is in serious trouble.

G) Assault Weapons. Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton supported a ban on Assault Weapons (Uzis and AK-47s, the weapon of choice for terrorists). This ban expired on September 13 and Bush, though he said he supported it, did nothing to extend it.

H) Children and the nation's education system ARE being left behind. The President may have had an idea, but he didn't fund it.

I) President Bush campaigned as a 'Uniter' not a 'Divider', yet we are more clearly divided as a country than at any point in recent history.

Poor policies and poor leadership lead to these domestic problems. Still, the nearly $150 billion extra dollars spent on Bush's Iraq War (see next section) might have helped fix a few things.

Now, on the International Front

Was the Iraq War, as Bush continues to state, necessary to protect America from terrorism? Not really. The 911 commission (which Bush opposed) reported the following major findings:
NO Weapons of Mass Destruction.
NO Iraqi Links to Al Qaeda or the September 11 attack. (Saddam did support suicide bombers in Gaza, but they were also financed by groups in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. While threatening to Israel and the Middle East Peace process, these suicide bombers posed no threat to the US.)

In fact, Bush's Iraq War has been a huge and unnecessary failure.

A) Bush's Iraq War drained needed resources (money, troops and specialists) away from the real struggle against terrorists in Afghanistan and south Asia. US troops remain in Afghanistan, but the lack of these resources funneled to Iraq has allowed Al Qaeda to regroup and the Taliban to reemerge with bombings to continue in major Afghani cities.

B) Even by the Administration's estimates, the number of terrorists in Iraq now has increased multi-fold since the invasion of Iraq.

C) Leaders in Israel and Pakistan (Pres. Musharaf), two US allies, have recently stated that the Iraq War has increased terror, NOT decreased it.

D) Kofi Annan of the UN echoes those statements and says the world is not safer.

E) Documented prison abuses in Abu Ghraib (and more cases to come) have severely damaged US credibility inside Iraq and the rest of the Middle East Region. So far, Bush has failed to hold anyone accountable.

F) Are we safer now? Bush's Iraq War has been a great recruiting tool for terrorists world-wide. Further, the State Department has reported more terrorist attacks after the Iraq Invasion than the years preceding. Are we safer?

G) Flouting the UN and our traditional allies by pushing forward with war has cost the US greatly in International prestige. After a highpoint immediately following Sept. 11, the Bush War squandered this good will to where the US now is at its lowest point in the eyes of the world in decades.

H) Bush's Iraq War may sometime in the future be described as a humanitarian success. Yet, there are other 'better targets'. As many people in the Sudan and North Korea are dying and suffering AND there are actually Al Qaeda cells in Sudan, and North Korea does have WMDs and has threatened to sell them to terrorists.

I) The Democracy that Bush's Iraq War will presumably create is good, but will not innoculate Iraq, the Middle East, nor the US from terrorists as Bush insists. The Philippines, Indonesia, Chechnya and Russia are all democracies and have all suffered greatly from terrorists. (Chechnya held presidential elections just one week prior to the horrible terrorist attack on school children in Russia)

J) Democracy Part II - Current polling in Iraq suggest that the people hold the US and Foreign Insurgents equally responsible (>30% each) for their current disastrous situation. Only 8% blame Saddam Hussein. Moreover, if the elections were held now, the Bush-installed leader, Allawi, would lose to a religious party supported by Iran.

K) The Cost. Over 1,100 US troops fatalities, 7,000+ casualties and 150 Billion dollars..all and counting. Then, of course, there are the costs to the Iraqis, the people we were supposed to help.

Is Kerry Suited to be the next president?

Unlike Bush's known record as president, we will have to predict Kerry's suitability from his past and from his proposals. This will need to be found out again from some research and not just from the campaign ads run by either candidate. As can be seen by checking Factcheck.org, both Bush and Cheney tend to 'exaggerate' their claims against Kerry.

Bush reminds us that Kerry voted against increased funding for the war in Iraq, leaving soldiers without needed body armor, etc. Kerry points out he voted against the management of the war and questions the President's decision to send the soldiers into battle without body armor in the first place.

Cheney (and the rabid Zell Miller) chide Kerry for voting to cut intelligence spending. The record they cite was decades old and was supported at the time both by Miller and then Sec. of Defense Cheney. Little is also made of the fact that President Bush's current appointee to run the CIA, Congressman Goss, voted for even more intelligence cutbacks during his tenure in the House.

I understand that Kerry is a politician just like the rest of them. He will make some promises to get votes and will be unable to fulfill others because of unexpected circumstances. I do believe, however, the country is headed dangerously in the wrong direction, both domestically and internationally, and there needs to be a change in leadership.

You know who I'm voting for and I hope all of you take the time to study the issues and make an informed choice. After you have made your choice, be sure to vote. Whoever wins needs to know that Americans care enough about problems to vote and that they need to respect that vote. Remember, at the ballot box, your vote counts just as much as the corporate lobbyists.

Best wishes from me, Julie and Liam to all of you and your families. This really is my final political missive for 2004. That is, unless anyone wants to talk politics...

Take care and vote smart,

No comments: