It's the middle of the night, but I couldn't sleep. I heard from an old friend today and was astonished to hear his mildly positive comments about GWB. He also called Howard Dean "reactionary" (well, maybe a little bit around the edges), anti-military (huh?) and liberal.
And then he asked me my opinion. Poor guy. Now he has a reading assignment. No one who reads Kos needs to read this. I'm just saving it here for the rest of my uninformed friends.
In order to keep this as short as possible, I'm not going to give references/citations -- but I think you know me well enough to know that I'm
not basing what I write about below on one liberal magazine or talk show host or something -- I'm basing it on reputable news articles and, in some cases, transcripts found on the White House website. If you ever want me to follow up with documentation, just ask. :-)
My primary position is this (as if you couldn't tell from my note): GWB must go. The things I find offensive about this administration fall, more or less, into three categories:
- the Iraq War as it has occurred and the neocon
doctrine that has supported it;
- clever and/or emotionally-labeled mandates without funding; and
- corporate ownership of policy and
There is ample documentation that this administration (and in particular
Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Perle) were bent on going to war with Iraq
and taking out Hussein well before 9/11. Their reasons had to do with
gaining a foothold in the Middle East (especially if they lost their
airbases in Saudi Arabia), gaining more control and access to Iraq's oil
fields, and demonstrating our military superiority in order to have more
power in negotiations like those between Israel and Palestine.
Wolfowitz proposed an Iraq invasion on 9/12 but we did end up going into
Afghanistan instead. Afghanistan went to the back burner fairly quickly,
however, and they were back on track with Iraq. (The security briefing that
the Clinton adminstration left with the Bush administration was filled with
Al Quaida, yet the evidence shows that it didn't receive serious attention
until soon before 9/11)
Here's the critical part: in promoting an Iraq war, the highest members
of the Bush team were very careful with their official words (like those in
the Congressional resolution for military action) but polls show that the
public believed (and things like press briefings and administration speeches
promoted) that there was a link between Saddam and 9/11 and that Iraq posed
a "grave and gathering" danger (and yes, some officials did use the word
"imminent" threat) to us.
Neither was true, and the administration knew it
-- yet they allowed
public fear and anger to grow based on a belief of imminent threat and 9/11
connections, and to push Congress to a "yes" vote. (The resolution itself
did not mention imminent danger: that's a big part of my anger with certain
congresspersons and senators.) As an added bonus, they blew off the U.N.
(and the pope and many, many others). They knew best.
Cheney and Rice and Powell were frequently at the CIA as the intelligence
analysis took place prior to the war. This has never
because analysis is supposed to be a-political. Administration members of
any party are not supposed to supervise the analysis because they have
(naturally) a biased POV.
Interestingly, recent comments by the top officials (especially Rice and
Cheney) have been much less circumspect. The official Bush/Cheney blog
insists the threat was imminent, even with David Kay's initial report
showing virtually nothing. Rice's speech to the Council of Foreign
Relations can reasonably be translated as "Black is White. Up is Down."
(including her amazing assertion that, if the UN Security Council had seen
the Kay report before the war, they would have supported it). Cheney was
willing to spout information just a month ago on Meet The Press that
*everyone else* (including those in his own team) had discredited. Then,
when asked about the poll showing that 76% of the country thought that
Hussein had been involved with 9/11, he said, "I can understand why they
think that," and when asked if there was a connection, he said, "we don't
know." Even GWB contradicted this the next day.
this administration had its reasons for going to war in
Iraq, but those are not the reasons they gave publicly. You can believe
that it's ok that they did that, you can believe that they were misled by
the CIA's incompetence, or you can believe that they selectively and
misleadingly used what intelligence there was to make their case. But I
don't see how people can now say that we were told the truth. And hundreds
of our men and women have died. And Israel/Palestine is more dangerous than
ever. And unless we do stabilize Iraq with our own money ($87 billion now
and much more later), it's going to be more of a haven for terrorists than
it ever was.
This pre-emptive doctrine is irrational. Are we going to invade Iran
next? Because they're not following the rules and they probably really are
building nukes. What about North Korea? Genocide has been happening in
Africa for years. Are we going into the Congo? There are Very Bad Men
doing bad things all over the place. Are we going to take them out next?
Even if the point of this "Shock and Awe" campaign was to demonstrate our
superiority once, what is our current situation telling anyone?
And I'm not even going to go into a discussion of our invalidating the
place of the UN in world affairs by going to war to protest Saddam's defying
of previous UN resolutions Sheesh.
After 9/11 the world mourned with us and offered full support. Today, you'd
be hard pressed to find a nation of people on this planet who think well of
us. (And anyone who had read the comments of many South American and
African diplomats on the Bush administration's arrogant dismissal of them
*prior* to 9/11 would find nothing at all surprising about any of this.)
And the outing of Ambassador Wilson's wife? And the Patriot Act? And
what's going on at Guantanamo and with other "enemy combatants" who are
being held at prisons with no attorney contact, no trials, no anything?
And how about that aircraft carrier landing? In a flight suit? And
now, the GWB Action Figure by KBToys. All this, when the man was AWOL from
a full year of Air National Guard service and never paid a single penalty
So along with everything else, he has not a single iota of shame.
Even I was surprised to realize that.
2. Unfunded mandates.
"No Child Left Behind." I defy you to find an
in-depth local analysis of this in any major newspaper that says it's doing
anything like what they advertised. It's crippling school districts. Bush
praised Americorp publicly, then cut the heart right out of it. Most
obscenely, Bush thanks our soldiers for their sacrifices while cutting not
only Veteran's benefits, but many supports for the soldiers' families,
including their housing and children's schools. (Did you know that many
wounded soldiers have to pay for their own meals while in the hospital?)
And the very worst unfunded mandate of all -- the shocking lack of funding
for Homeland Security.
3. Corporate/Industry control of government.
The first sign, of course,
was Cheney's energy policy meetings -- in the White House (which, last time
I checked, was "our" building) -- for which he is steadfastly refusing to
release any details including who was there and what was discussed. (Ken
Lay/Iraq just to start).
Then we have The Healthy Forest Initiative. The
Clear Skies Initiative. Both these -- and recent energy policy legislation
in Congress -- were drafted by industry. Global Warming research (28 pages
of it) was simply deleted from the EPA report this year. Industry-powered
changes are also evident in "clean water" policies and most recently in
proposals to allow increased hunting of endangered species in other
The tax cuts and lack of leadership on corporate corruption all come under
this heading, too. As an Australian colleague of mine observed recently,
"Bush is the best President money can buy."
GWB must go. Geez, Bill Clinton (jerk that he is) was impeached
about consentual sex -- and note, not a single soldier died for his blow
SO -- who to support on the Democratic side?
I support Howard Dean because:
- He opposed the Iraq War. He's one of the very few who spoke out against
it even while we were "shocking and awe-ing" the hell outta Bagdhad and
everyone was all gung-ho. He criticized Bush when it seemed foolhardy to do
so (and Kerry, Gephardt, and Edwards were all backing his tax cuts, war
- He's a fiscal conservative. He made plenty of "liberals" mad during his
terms as Vermont's governor (by keeping spending under control) and he's the
only candidate right now that says you can't promise health care and
education funding and everything else and still insist on tax cuts. And
- He's a social progressive/liberal/whatever you want to call it. He was
the first Governor to sign civil unions legislation and he doesn't hide from
the question. He considers it a civil rights issue, not a gay rights
issue -- and considers "marriage" as a religious, not a government,
institution. He tells the story of a elderly man who came up to him after a
speech and thanked him for signing the civil unions legislation. Dean asked
the man if he had a son or daughter who was gay. Turns out the man was a
veteran of Normandy on D-Day -- and was himself gay. He'd fought for the
country, lost hundreds of fellow soldiers, put his own life on the
line...but was denied the right to share health insurance with his longtime
partner, nor to visit that partner in the hospital, etc. (By the way, GWB
has proclaimed this "Marriage Protection Week")
- He believes the way to support our economy and increase jobs is to put
much more support behind small businesses. This is an especially effective
idea, he says, for minority communities and also it supports businesses that
won't move their jobs overseas. (Do you know where lots of Bush campaign
material is being produced? South America and India!) He supports
renegotiation of trade agreements so our companies have to have worker
pay/treatment/conditions in other countries that are similar to those here
(obviously taking into consideration different costs of living, etc).
- He has a rational plan to get health insurance for all based on a plan
that has worked in Vermont. The plan combines Medicare/Medicaid-type
support, government supported health insurance for children, incentives for
private health insurers and the companies that use them, and the ability of
many Americans to get the same health plan Congress has. He's also put out
a long-term care plan that addresses many issues you and I encountered at
- Full funding of special ed. Investment in renewable energy -- for the
future and for the jobs it would create. Revision of the tax code.
You mentioned that he's "reactionary." I assume this is because of his
rather sharp tongue? Okay. I think he's a bit hot-headed at times, but I'm
so incredibly angry about things these days that most of the time, I'm
impressed with how calm he stays. :-) He has changed his position on many
things over the years and says, "I'm a doctor -- I make a diagnosis, but if
the symptoms and other data don't support it, I change it." Compare and
contrast to GWB.
You mentioned that he doesn't support the military. Why do you say that?
He has already stated that he has no intention of cutting military spending.
He supported other military actions prior to this war. He certainly
supports restoring Veteran's benefits and the other things Bush has cut.
Of course, on the "social liberal" issues, you have to vote your conscience.
I have no disagreement with his pro-choice, pro-civil rights for gays
stands. I'm not thrilled with him for being pro-death penalty in certain
extreme cases, because I'm fully against it -- and while I'm certainly glad
he supports current federal gun control legislation, I think his local
control policies are unrealistic and his getting a thumbs-up from the NRA is
just hard to take. :-) But that's another reason I support him -- he holds
firm on some issues that he knows will cost him votes.
Here's a minor reason for liking him: his wife (also a physician) has never
campaigned with him and doesn't intend to now. She fully supports her
husband's ambitions but says, "Despite his intense passion for public
service, Howard has never made his public aspirations become my personal
obligations...As a doctor and a partner in a medical practice, I have
responsibility to my patients. That's why my time 'on the campaign trail' is
limited; when people are sick they want and need to see a physician who
She wants to practice medicine in DC if he becomes President. This makes
her naive, I know, but I love it.
Dean has never missed a soccer or hockey game involving his son or daughter.
He skipped a recent NAACP event in SC because it was parents' weekend at
Yale. His son got into some trouble with friends a few months ago (raiding
the liquor cabinet at the country club, if I remember correctly) and Dean
disappeared from the campaign for several days.
FINALLY (Jeff sighs in relief), Dean has campaigned, from the beginning, by
reaching out to individual voters and giving them the control. The campaign
is totally decentralized. HQ has provided (mostly through the internet) web
space, flyers, other materials for us to use -- but we are free to create
our own campaign events, flyers, outreach, etc. The campaign has provided
about 6 different ways in which we can link up with others and either plan
or join in various events. We have a forum to discuss issues and best
practice. We have links that let us find others in our area. We have
"First Wednesday at 7" meetups every month.
And that 14.8 million dollars he raised this last quarter? The average
donation was $87.
Ok. I'm done. Your turn. :-)