The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Dick Thompson Letter 10/02/04

The Crawford, Texas, newspaper has endorsed Senator Kerry instead its most famous resident, President Bush.

The newspaper's ( editor provides a stinging rebuke to the president for actions which have hurt individual Americans and the United States itself. The editor's list of Bush misdeeds is familiar to those who know what the Bush admistration has actually done, in contrast to what it says:

1. Using false documents and misinformation to start an unnecessary war with Iraq;

2. Destroying national and international unity of purpose to destroy 9/11 and other terrorists;

3. Exhorting us to sacrifice in the face of terrorists by shopping;

4. Rescinding basic legal rights provided us by our Constitution;

5. Emptying the Social Security trust fund of $507 billion;

6. Trying to slash Social Security benefits;

7. Cutting Medicare by 17 percent and reducing veterans’ benefits and military pay;

8. Eliminating overtime pay for millions of Americans;

9. Passively letting oil prices rise 50 percent;

10. Giving tax cuts to businesses that send American jobs overseas;

11. Giving billions of in government contracts to cronies without competitive bids;

12. Turning a budget surplus into the worst deficit in the history of theUnited States;

13. Destroying the United State's moral, economic and military leadership in the world;

14. Cutting the Community Oriented Policing Program (COPS) by 94 percent to increase our security;

15. Fighting creation of the 9/11 commission and failing to endorse its recommendations.

The litany of Bush lies, errors, deceits, failures and manipulation goes on. Fortunately for the rest of us, his hometown neighbors have had the courage to confirm for us what he is. All we need to do for our beloved nation and ourselves is enact regime change in Washington. We can't stand four more years of blind, swaggering incompetence.

Joy Dworkin Letter 10/02/04

Dear Editor:

Perhaps the spin on the Bush smirk is too easy. It’s just too easy to connect the dismissive arrogance registered on the president’s face at the first presidential debate with his dismissal of the National Intelligence Council’s dire predictions in July about Iraq. (Bush says the State Department is just “guessing.”) Over a thousand U.S. soldiers dead, continued car bombings, beheadings, Shiites and Sunnis at one another’s throats—we all know these are most accurately described as “hard work,” right?

But even if his smirk is mere style and his harping on “hard work” is a folksy linguistic misstep, what about that undeniably substantive moment of the first debate when my jaw dropped so hard the momentum brought my entire body to the floor? Bush said that in 2000 he never would have dreamt of committing troops to a war and thereby risking American lives but that (here it comes) “the enemy attacked us.” Kerry responded forcefully to the president’s blunder, pointing out that Iraq War II is in no way a response to 9-11. Nevertheless, it is important that all voters ponder Bush’s statement.

A majority of Americans continue to connect the terrorist attacks on 9-11 with Iraq. Members of the intelligence community and others warned that there was no such link well before the war, and the 9-11 Commission confirmed that there is no evidence of a connection. Nevertheless, generally ignorant of Islam and fearful of an amorphous terrorist enemy, Americans easily confuse Osama bin Laden with Saddam Hussein. What does it tell us that Bush reinforces this misunderstanding?

The president seems tragically “out of touch.” Looking to the future, a president so willing to play the “Muslim card”—whether out of ignorance or out of cynicism—spells future tragedy as well.

Joy Dworkin

Joy Dworkin Letter 10/02/04

Dear Editor:

“Candidates trade barbs,” the headline read in the Globe the morning after the first presidential debate. But in fact, the debate was remarkably substantial, and we got a fair picture of the differences between these two candidates in terms of their approaches to foreign policy and security issues, their contrasting worldviews, and—most obviously—their personal styles. Kerry appeared decisive and well prepared. Bush seemed defensive and annoyed. According to the Boston Globe, Kerry looked “more serious and substantive, more knowledgeable and confident” than Bush. Bush was sarcastic and whiney, repeating the irritating refrain, “It’s hard work!” The president may think this folksy expression earns our sympathy for his efforts. But frankly, it has a hollow and callous ring, since it refers not just to Bush’s “work,” but to the escalating violence, car bombs, beheadings, and continuing deaths of our soldiers. At this very serious time in our nation’s history, Kerry appeared sober, in command of the facts—in a word, “presidential.” Bush appeared flippant and out of touch.

No wonder according to the ABC, CBS, CNN, USA Today, and Gallup polls, Kerry won the debate.

Joy Dworkin

Kerry Will Restore American Dignity -- The Crawford (Texas) Iconoclast

Kerry Will Restore American Dignity

2004 Iconoclast Presidential Endorsement

Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:

• Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.

• Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.

• Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.

• Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.

• Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.

• Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and

• Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.

These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office. The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda. Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs.

Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding terrorism and Iraq.

President Bush has announced plans to change the Social Security system as we know it by privatizing it, which when considering all the tangents related to such a change, would put the entire economy in a dramatic tailspin.

The Social Security Trust Fund actually lends money to the rest of the government in exchange for government bonds, which is how the system must work by law, but how do you later repay Social Security while you are running a huge deficit? It’s impossible, without raising taxes some time in the future or becoming fiscally responsible now. Social Security money is being used to escalate our deficit and, at the same time, mask a much larger government deficit, instead of paying down the national debt, which would be a proper use, to guarantee a future gain. Privatization is problematic in that it would subject Social Security to the ups, downs, and outright crashes of the Stock Market. It would take millions in brokerage fees and commissions out of the system, and, unless we have assurance that the Ivan Boeskys and Ken Lays of the world will be caught and punished as a deterrent, subject both the Market and the Social Security Fund to fraud and market manipulation, not to mention devastate and ruin multitudes of American families that would find their lives lost to starvation, shame, and isolation. Kerry wants to keep Social Security, which each of us already owns. He says that the program is manageable, since it is projected to be solvent through 2042, with use of its trust funds. This would give ample time to strengthen the economy, reduce the budget deficit the Bush administration has created, and, therefore, bolster the program as needed to fit ever-changing demographics. Our senior citizens depend upon Social Security. Bush’s answer is radical and uncalled for, and would result in chaos as Americans have never experienced. Do we really want to risk the future of Social Security on Bush by spinning the wheel of uncertainty?

In those dark hours after the World Trade Center attacks, Americans rallied together with a new sense of patriotism. We were ready to follow Bush’s lead through any travail. He let us down. When he finally emerged from his hide-outs on remote military bases well after the first crucial hours following the attack, he gave sound-bites instead of solutions. He did not trust us to be ready to sacrifice, build up our public and private security infrastructure, or cut down on our energy use to put economic pressure on the enemy in all the nations where he hides. He merely told us to shop, spend, and pretend nothing was wrong. Rather than using the billions of dollars expended on the invasion of Iraq to shore up our boundaries and go after Osama bin Laden and the Saudi Arabian terrorists, the funds were used to initiate a war with what Bush called a more immediate menace, Saddam Hussein, in oil-rich Iraq. After all, Bush said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction trained on America. We believed him, just as we believed it when he reported that Iraq was the heart of terrorism. We trusted him. The Iconoclast, the President’s hometown newspaper, took Bush on his word and editorialized in favor of the invasion. The newspaper’s publisher promoted Bush and the invasion of Iraq to Londoners in a BBC interview during the time that the administration was wooing the support of Prime Minister Tony Blair. Again, he let us down. We presumed the President had solid proof of the existence of these weapons, what and where they were, even as the search continued. Otherwise, our troops would be in much greater danger and the premise for a hurried-up invasion would be moot, allowing more time to solicit assistance from our allies. Instead we were duped into following yet another privileged agenda. Now he argues unconvincingly that Iraq was providing safe harbor to terrorists, his new key justification for the invasion. It is like arguing that America provided safe harbor to terrorists leading to 9/11. Once and for all, George Bush was President of the United States on that day. No one else. He had been President nine months, he had been officially warned of just such an attack a full month before it happened. As President, ultimately he and only he was responsible for our failure to avert those attacks.

We should expect that a sitting President would vacation less, if at all, and instead tend to the business of running the country, especially if he is, as he likes to boast, a “wartime president.” America is in service 365 days a year. We don’t need a part-time President who does not show up for duty as Commander-In-Chief until he is forced to, and who is in a constant state of blameless denial when things don’t get done. What has evolved from the virtual go-it-alone conquest of Iraq is more gruesome than a stain on a White House intern’s dress. America’s reputation and influence in the world has diminished, leaving us with brute force as our most persuasive voice. Iraq is now a quagmire: no WMDs, no substantive link between Saddam and Osama, and no workable plan for the withdrawal of our troops. We are asked to go along on faith. But remember, blind patriotism can be a dangerous thing and “spin” will not bring back to life a dead soldier; certainly not a thousand of them.

Kerry has remained true to his vote granting the President the authority to use the threat of war to intimidate Saddam Hussein into allowing weapons inspections. He believes President Bush rushed into war before the inspectors finished their jobs. Kerry also voted against President Bush’s $87 billion for troop funding because the bill promoted poor policy in Iraq, privileged Halliburton and other corporate friends of the Bush administration to profiteer from the war, and forced debt upon future generations of Americans. Kerry’s four-point plan for Iraq is realistic, wise, strong, and correct. With the help from our European and Middle Eastern allies, his plan is to train Iraqi security forces, involve Iraqis in their rebuilding and constitution-writing processes, forgive Iraq’s multi-billion dollar debts, and convene a regional conference with Iraq’s neighbors in order to secure a pledge of respect for Iraq’s borders and non-interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.

The publishers of the Iconoclast differ with Bush on other issues, including the denial of stem cell research, shortchanging veterans’ entitlements, cutting school programs and grants, dictating what our children learn through a thought-controlling “test” from Washington rather than allowing local school boards and parents to decide how young people should be taught, ignoring the environment, and creating extraneous language in the Patriot Act that removes some of the very freedoms that our founding fathers and generations of soldiers fought so hard to preserve. We are concerned about the vast exportation of jobs to other countries, due in large part to policies carried out by Bush appointees. Funds previously geared at retention of small companies are being given to larger concerns, such as Halliburton — companies with strong ties to oil and gas. Job training has been cut every year that Bush has resided at the White House. Then there is his resolve to inadequately finance Homeland Security and to cut the Community Oriented Policing Program (COPS) by 94 percent, to reduce money for rural development, to slash appropriations for the Small Business Administration, and to under-fund veterans’ programs. Likewise troubling is that President Bush fought against the creation of the 9/11 Commission and is yet to embrace its recommendations. Vice President Cheney’s Halliburton has been awarded multi-billion-dollar contracts without undergoing any meaningful bid process — an enormous conflict of interest — plus the company has been significantly raiding the funds of Export-Import Bank of America, reducing investment that could have gone toward small business trade. When examined based on all the facts, Kerry’s voting record is enviable and echoes that of many Bush allies who are aghast at how the Bush administration has destroyed the American economy. Compared to Bush on economic issues, Kerry would be an arch-conservative, providing for Americans first. He has what it takes to right our wronged economy.

The re-election of George W. Bush would be a mandate to continue on our present course of chaos. We cannot afford to double the debt that we already have. We need to be moving in the opposite direction.John Kerry has 30 years of experience looking out for the American people and can navigate our country back to prosperity and re-instill in America the dignity she so craves and deserves. He has served us well as a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and has had a successful career as a district attorney, lieutenant governor, and senator. Kerry has a positive vision for America, plus the proven intelligence, good sense, and guts to make it happen. That’s why The Iconoclast urges Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country. The Iconoclast wholeheartedly endorses John Kerry.

Friday, October 01, 2004

James Wolcott - Tweet Smell of Success

Tweet Smell of Success

Posted by James Wolcott

Birding has been slow in Cape May. Warbler action has been weak. Even Pete Dunne, local birding deity, said the other day that it was dead out there--his most recent hawkwatch had been a dud.

But this morning as I walked to the general store to pick up the papers, there were birds everywhere aflutter. Bluejays. Cardinals. Mourning doves. Sparrows of every persuasion. A peregrine falcon or merlin (I didn't get my binocs up fast enough) winging overhead. Later, at Sunset Beach, a quartet of pelicans floated over like a band heading to a gig. Some would attribute this to a shift in wind direction or a change in temp, but I know different.
Nature is celebrating last night's presidential debate.

The trees are alive with the sound of Kerry.

Only a few weeks ago, things looked grim. Bleak. Even posters on the liberal blogsites seemed to be sitting on the suicide ledge peering past the slough of despond into the abyss below. That infamous Gallup Poll which had the race Bush 104, Kerry -6 had many of us rattled. A statistically impossible 110 point deficit seemed a mite difficult to overcome.

But that was before John Kerry grape-stomped Bush into a sullen mash.

In birding, those fanatical about building up the life lists of species are known as "twitchers." But there was no bigger twitcher last night than the bird-hating Bush, who once ignorantly shot a killdeer during a photo op thinking it was a dove, according to Karen Hughes' merde-eating memoir. Bush's face suffered a silent outbreak of Tourette's Syndrome; he grimaced, smirked, sniffed, rolled his eyes, and did some weird thing with his mouth that as yet has no diagnostic name. He was President Twitchy, giving a performance that critics hailed as "peevish" and "petulant."

We've seen President Twitchy before. When Helen Thomas persisted in asking Bush why he was trying to tear down the walls between church and state, and wouldn't be sluffed off with one of his standard nonanswers, Bush, as I wrote in Attack Poodles, went through a battery of irked expressions that ended with him imitating Tony Perkins in the final shot of Psycho, looking as if he had a fly on his nose.

Since then Bush has been wheeled out into forums where no one can dare question or contradict his majesty, where he can lean forward and repeat ad nauseam his patented soundbites. Last night I believe we saw the ugly comeback of the private face of Bush--the irritable expressions he flashes subordinates when he's presented with information he doesn't like or feels someone's taken up too much of his time or is pressed to explain himself to people he shouldn't have to explain himself to because he's the president and fuck you. The notion that Bush is "likeable" has always been laughable. It takes a Washington pundit to be that dumb. He's an angry, spoiled, resentful little big man--I use "little big man" in the Reichian sense of a small personality who puffs himself up to look big through bluster and swagger but remains a scheming coward inside--and next to a genuinely big man like Kerry, shrunk before the camera's eyes.

Kerry achieved a lot of things last night, and one of them was shifting the focus for future debates. In the two debates to come, political junkies and media analysts aren't going to be measuring Kerry to see if he's "up for the job." He proved that he was last night. No, they're going be trained like birders on Bush's demeanor and body language to see if we get another outbreak of the peevish twitchies.

Frankly, I'm amazed by this reversal of fortune. Bush let Kerry get to him. I truly thought Bush would stick to the Reagan playbook and genially shrug off Kerry's criticisms with a grin and a quip, but he's a greater mass of insecurities and arrogant entitlements than even I imagined. I pity the fools who have to prep Bush for the next debate. Because they're sure going to have one pissy pupil on their hands.

Eleanor Clift - A Win For Kerry

Published in Newsweek Online

A Win for Kerry
The first debate was reality TV, and it was not kind to Bush. Now the momentum shifts to the Dems—and raises the stakes in next week’s veep encounter

By Eleanor Clift

Oct. 1 - George W. Bush didn’t look at his watch the way his father famously did during a presidential debate, but he might as well have. The president had the air of a man who couldn’t bother being there. Response shots aired by the networks captured his smirking dismay at his rival’s answers, much the way Al Gore sighed in disgust at Bush four years ago.

Republicans thought they had the race wrapped up. All their candidate had to do was repeat his road-tested slogans. But 90 minutes of Bush is a long time. There’s a reason why he has held fewer press conferences than any other modern president. He is incapable of conceptual thinking, and he came across as agitated and annoyed that more was expected of him now that he’s the self-styled “war president.” He repeatedly said he is “working hard” and “it’s hard work,” as though that alone should silence his critics.

If Republicans were overconfident going into the debate, Democrats had begun preparing themselves for defeat. Kerry had given up so much ground that he was close to being written out of the race. Voters had absorbed the image of Kerry as a flip-flopper without core convictions. A very different Kerry showed up in the debate hall. He was calm and disciplined while Bush was “slouching and praying for the light to go on so he wouldn’t have to think of anything else to repeat,” said a Democratic strategist.

Kerry spoke crisply and clearly, and he looked presidential. He defended his position on Iraq as consistent—agreeing with Bush that Saddam Hussein was a threat, but saying he would have handled the situation differently. When Bush confronted him with that old saw about how he voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it, Kerry scored big, saying, “I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?”

This was Kerry’s best performance since, perhaps, ever. Like Lazarus, he is back from the dead. He energized his own Democratic base, which had begun to drift away in despair. Democrats now believe he has a chance to win. Standing alongside Bush, he showed himself to be more than up to the task. The contrast could not be greater between Bush, a man who passionately believes in the rightness of his convictions to the point of willfully excluding facts, and Kerry, a man who operates by reason and intellect. Before Thursday night, Bush had made a mockery of Kerry, using ridicule and sarcasm to turn his opponent into a cartoon figure. That will be harder now that voters have gotten a fuller picture.

A single debate probably won’t determine the outcome of the election, but with two more debates ahead, the Bush team has got to be worried. It’s a tactic of Karl Rove’s to create an aura of inevitability about Bush, and he no doubt convinced the president the debate would be a slam dunk. Bush strode onto the stage with his customary swagger, but it was downhill from there. He had that deer-in-the-headlights look for much of the time, and he repeated stock phrases so often, he became a caricature of himself. This was reality TV, and it was not kind to Bush.

Now the momentum shifts. The Kerry crowds will get larger and more enthusiastic, which raises the stakes for John Edwards to be able to replicate Kerry’s performance. Edwards has been almost absent from the national news, dismissed by the Bush team and the media alike as an also-ran with nothing of importance to say on the most critical issues of the election, Iraq and national security. Edwards has to show gravitas when he debates Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday night in Cleveland. He has to press the case Kerry opened against the Bush-Cheney team—that for all the tough talk, they are neglecting homeland security needs because of the strain Iraq has put on resources and because they won’t scale back tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

The Kerry campaign team is mindful of how Gore won the first debate in 2000, and then lost it in the 48 hours of spin that followed. The impact of this debate on the overall race will turn on Kerry’s ability to capitalize on his strong performance and Bush’s ability to rebound. Now the pressure is on Bush. His limitations as a leader, and the shortcomings of the policies he mindlessly champions, have been exposed. Beyond saying he was bringing freedom to Iraq, he did not offer much of a defense of the war. Neither man acknowledged the latest attacks in Baghdad that killed at least 34 children. Kerry was respectful, almost gentle with Bush. There were more openings Kerry could have taken, but that might have been seen as piling on.

© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

Jeff Martinek Letter 10/1/04

Dear Editor:

There’s an old saying that you never bring a knife to a gun-fight. Someone should have reminded George Bush that you don’t show up for a 90 minute debate with only nine minutes worth of material.

Despite the “soft bigotry of low expectations” carefully prepared for President Bush’s debate performance by his handlers, there was no way to spin his petulant, repetitive performance Thursday night as anything less than a disaster for a man who has staked his entire reelection on his supposed mastery of foreign policy issues.

Finally given the chance to stand on the same stage with the President, Senator Kerry showed himself to be the informed, articulate, resolute statesman that he is. Where the Senator offered both a penetrating analysis of how George Bush has failed the American people on foreign policy and a clear vision of how a Kerry Presidency would clean up the mess, George Bush offered confused conflations of Saddam Hussein with Osama bin Laden, cliches about “hard work,” and unconvincing assertions about how he “know[s] how this world works.”

In his attempt to support his central message---that we are fighting terror in Iraq so we won’t have to here, Bush made several false claims:

He said twice that "75 percent" of al Qaeda leaders have been "brought to justice." But the studies show that the occupation of Iraq has helped al Qaeda recruit more members.

He claimed that “We got 100,000 [Iraqi citizens] trained now,” despite the fact that Pentagon documents say that only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training.

He claimed he has increased spending on curbing nuclear proliferation by "about 35 percent" since he took office. But The Washington Post reported Oct. 1 that Bush proposed a 13 percent cut in his first budget as President.

Jeff Martinek

Elliott Denniston Letter 10/1/04

Rich Man's President

Dear Editor,

We all admire people who stand for principle and don't put their economic interests first. However, it might help voters this fall to know to what degree the Bush administration works against them and favors only the very rich.

The federal surplus when President Bush came to office was $5.6 trillion, while now the federal deficit under the Bush administration is $2.3 trillion(Congressional Budget Office). A huge factor contributing to this deficit were the Bush tax proposals; under these the average tax break for the top 1% of earners was $96,634, whereas the average tax break for the bottom 60% of earners was $350 (Citizens for Tax Justice.) (Yes,I have proofread these numbers!) To see how much richer the very rich have become, "Business Week" points out that in 2003 CEOs "earned" an average of 300 times as much as their workers, compared to 42 times as much in 1982.

At the same time 1.2 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office, the greatest sustained job loss since the Great Depression (Bureau of Labor

The Education President's No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001; to date, it has been underfunded by $26.4 billion (U.S. Department of Education)! As for health care, since Bush took office 3.8 million people have become uninsured (the U.S. Census Bureau) and family health care premiums have risen by more than $2700 a year. No one likes taxes, but what should we think of tax laws that turn so much money over to the very rich that they reduce the amount left for education and health care, and create debts that we all will have to pay on for many years!

Elliott Denniston Letter 10/1/04

Cutting Through the Media Fog

"You know, I've been so busy lately that I haven't had time to watch the political ads and decide how to vote," said a friend of mine recently.

I was too surprised to answer. I thought everyone knew that political ads are incredibly slanted, that they are often devious attempts to manipulate us. On the other hand, how objective are news sources today?! Everyone complains about how biased they are--and everyone is by and large right! So we are largely left on our own.

Therefore, I offer some irrefutable facts, and some personal opinions. Facts: under Bush's presidency, the economy has slumped, and the surplus has turned into a huge deficit, millions of people have lost their jobs and their health insurance, education has been severely underfunded--and the rich have gotten richer. Furthermore, (my convictions), a horrible and unnecessary war has been started, with no honorable and just conclusion possible. The president has been shown to have seriously shirked his military duty, while his opponent, according to John McCain and the U.S. Navy, is unquestionably a war hero. For me, deciding how to vote is overwhelmingly clear.

Pat Murphy Letter 10/1/04

Dear Editor,

The first presidential debate made very clear what has been repeatedly glossed over by the Bush administration in this election period: Bush recklessly invaded Iraq without exhausting other opportunities that could have kept more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers from being killed, he diverted resources from the real terrorist threat posed by Al Qaeda, and he racked up huge expenditures. Moreover, Bush failed to create a viable plan for winning the peace and instead has mired our country in a devastating conflict. As Sen. Kerry noted, our casualties are increasing each month with no end in sight.

As a very concerned citizen who loves America, I see the debate proving that we have an excellent choice for our next commander-in-chief, and it’s not Bush. Kerry displayed his strong convictions, specific plans, determination to root out terrorists, and consistent position on Iraq—which the Bush administration has wrongly characterized as inconsistent. Bush, however, offered his tired “sound bites” instead of thoughtful responses, acted arrogantly, and demonstrated that he is out of touch with the reality of the situation in Iraq and elsewhere. I’m tired of Bush’s weak and misleading promises. I’m tired of Bush’s people undermining the moral high ground the U.S. once enjoyed in the world. I’m tired of now being told that the “world is safer without Saddam” as the justification for a war we were told was necessary because of (nonexistent) WMDs and the false implication that there was link between Iraq and 9/11. Of course, Saddam is reprehensible, but as Kerry emphasized, he could have been controlled effectively without war. I see Kerry offering us a dynamic, strong, and steady alternative as president. We’ve suffered through enough failures these last four years—it’s time for a change in the White House.

Pat Murphy

A Day in the Life of Joe Republican

A Day in the Life of Joe Republican

Joe gets up at 6:00 a.m. to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards.

He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too because his employer needs to offer competitive benefits to hire the best people.

Joe prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

Joe drives to work in one of the safest cars in the world because some liberal fought to raise safety standards and emission controls.

Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with good pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some Liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noon time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC up to $100,000 because some liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from greedy, unscrupulous bankers like the ones who ruined the banking system before the depression. Joe needs to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republican's might still be sitting in the dark!)

He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home. He turns on a radio talk show, the host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn't tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day)

Joe agrees, "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I'm a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

--- From the people who brought you the eight-hour day, the five-day work week, vacation time, and much more. Don't take any of it for granted.

James Ridgeway A Knockout For Kerry

Published in the Village Voice

A Knockout for KerryBig John Sends Dubya to the Mat in Round One
by James Ridgeway

WASHINGTON—Contrary to all the press predictions, John Kerry easily overcame George Bush in Thursday night's debate, taking the attack from the very beginning and never once losing control. It was a knockout—with Bush going down almost immediately and never getting back on his feet. The president appeared confused, left to mumble aloud on the subject of Iraq, "It's incredibly hard work."

In debating terms, Kerry controlled the floor from start to finish with one rapid fire attack after another. Bush never was able to break through. His famous frat-boy disdain was reduced to goofiness. Kerry made him look by turns ignorant, deceitful, churlish, and just plain out of it.
Bush tried to use his campaign's flip-flop line against Kerry, but it went nowhere. Kerry had such a clear control of facts and argument that the charge fell almost immediately, a spent and useless weapon.

Sometimes the president looked like he didn't know what Kerry was talking about. Bush would shrug his shoulders, try one of his little sneers, or chime in with "That's absurd" or "I don't appreciate the candidate saying" such and such. Time and again he reverted to his punch-drunk line that "it's incredibly hard work. . . . We're making progress."

The president went for the slime almost from the beginning. In answer to a question from moderator Jim Lehrer as to whether Kerry's election would increase the chance of a terrorist attack, Bush did his little frat-boy twitch and smugly said, "I don't believe it's going to happen," meaning that Kerry would never be elected and distinctly leaving the impression he thought we would be more open to attack if Kerry were elected.

Tonight Bush repeated much that he has said before: That 75 percent of all Al Qaeda leaders are in prison, that we are winning the war in Iraq, and that there are hopeful signs in Afghanistan, where 10 million people are registered to vote. The capture of Saddam had made America safer. To which Kerry responded by ticking off the rising U.S. casualties, our inability to gain control of the security situation in Iraq, and the global spread of Al Qaeda.

Kerry said again that Bush had Osama bin Laden penned up, but instead of sending skilled American troops to get him, Bush turned the fight over to warlords who had been on the opposite side only days before, letting Osama escape. Kerry said Afghanistan was a disaster, with more Americans being killed every month and opium production soaring.

Kerry argued Bush had invaded with no plan to win the peace, said his administration would make it clear the U.S. has no long-term designs on Iraq, and declared he would use a pre-emptive strike only as a last resort after international negotiations had failed.

Bill Kumbier Letter 9/1/04

Dear Editor,

In the first debate of the presidential race, certainly both Democrats and Republicans heard what they wanted to hear. Anyone who was watching and listening, however, should have perceived a telling difference between the two candidates and, one, I believe, that recommends John Kerry as the stronger, wiser, more resourceful candidate and, potentially, the stronger and wiser commander in chief.Kerry outlined his consistently held position on Iraq clearly and forcefully, incidentally making the crucial point that there is a difference between making a mistake about the way one talks about the war and the huge, increasingly grievous mistake of having rushed to war without a plan for peace, as Bush did. Kerry articulated the need, even at this late date, of working for a stronger alliance to deal with the current disaster in Iraq, an alliance Bush, despite his harping that we not “leave out Poland,” never seriously cared to seek. In Bush’s coalition, where are our friends Germany, France, Canada, Japan? Despite Bush’s charges—which began to stutter like a broken record—that Kerry was “inconsistent” on Iraq and wasn’t capable of leading us out of a war Kerry called, correctly, a “grand diversion” from the real war on terrorism, Kerry drove home his commitment to do his utmost to deal with the war in an honorable way that would support our troops, help rebuild Iraq and respect our partners in the global community.After the debate, one Republican spinner said he thought Kerry “lectured” him while Bush “talked” to him, and that he was still “confused” about Kerry’s position. What Kerry did was not lecture but inform, presenting new perspectives we need to hear, with care, honesty and thoroughness, while Bush repeatedly—and with obvious, fidgeting impatience—kept looping back into the same old song.

William Kumbier

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Jude Meche Letter 9/30/04

(Published in the Kansas City Star)

Inaccurate information

I will be the first to admit that the recent calamity involving CBS' use of suspicious documents is troubling. CBS was patently irresponsible in its reporting and its research.
But isn't there a certain irony and hypocrisy in the Bush White House attacking others over inaccurate information? After all, it was Bush who issued false claims in a State of the Union address. It was Bush who relied on poor research to justify a war with Iraq.
Until the day when we find a single weapon of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush has no business assuming a posture of indignation over CBS' mistakes. Nor does he have any business attacking anyone else's false research.
If Bush wants to demand higher standards in research for the news media, he should start by setting a better example himself.
Jude Meche
Joplin, Mo.

Bill Kumbier Letter 9/30/04

Dear Editor,

Three weeks ago a student from my neighborhood elementary school knocked at my door. He asked me if I wanted to buy some gift wrap to support his school, though he knew nothing about the products displayed in his glossy brochure and nothing about why the money from his sales was needed. A few days later, another student rang my doorbell with a similar request, this time to buy cookie dough. I fell for some white chocolate macadamia nut dough, only to be approached two days later by yet another student hawking the same products. To many Americans, especially parents of school children, this routine is all too familiar. Why have we chosen to make our schools fend for themselves through such fundraisers or, even worse, lottery proceeds, rather than ensuring they are generously supported with our tax dollars? Recent data from the National Priorities Project shows that Missourians' share of the $150 billion in tax dollars spent so far on the Iraq war is $2.7 billion, and that Missourians can expect to pay about $896 million for each year we remain in Iraq. This money could have funded participation by 400,000 children in Head Start, funded over 400 new elementary schools, or paid thousands of teachers' salaries. It would have relieved countless students and their reluctant customers of having to buy candles and cheese logs nobody really needs.Missourians have a reputation for being very scrupulous about how their tax dollars are spent. Are they aware of how much President Bush's stubborn insistence on fighting an unnecessary war has cost us and our children's education?
William Kumbier

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Al Lorentz - Why We Cannot Win (in Iraq)


Before I begin, let me state that I am a soldier currently deployed in Iraq, I am not an armchair quarterback. Nor am I some politically idealistic and naïve young soldier, I am an old and seasoned Non-Commissioned Officer with nearly 20 years under my belt. Additionally, I am not just a soldier with a muds-eye view of the war, I am in Civil Affairs and as such, it is my job to be aware of all the events occurring in this country and specifically in my region.I have come to the conclusion that we cannot win here for a number of reasons. Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality.When we were preparing to deploy, I told my young soldiers to beware of the "political solution." Just when you think you have the situation on the ground in hand, someone will come along with a political directive that throws you off the tracks.I believe that we could have won this un-Constitutional invasion of Iraq and possibly pulled off the even more un-Constitutional occupation and subjugation of this sovereign nation. It might have even been possible to foist democracy on these people who seem to have no desire, understanding or respect for such an institution. True the possibility of pulling all this off was a long shot and would have required several hundred billion dollars and even more casualties than we’ve seen to date but again it would have been possible, not realistic or necessary but possible.Here are the specific reasons why we cannot win in Iraq.First, we refuse to deal in reality. We are in a guerilla war, but because of politics, we are not allowed to declare it a guerilla war and must label the increasingly effective guerilla forces arrayed against us as "terrorists, criminals and dead-enders."This implies that there is a zero sum game at work, i.e. we can simply kill X number of the enemy and then the fight is over, mission accomplished, everybody wins. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We have few tools at our disposal and those are proving to be wholly ineffective at fighting the guerillas.The idea behind fighting a guerilla army is not to destroy its every man (an impossibility since he hides himself by day amongst the populace). Rather the idea in guerilla warfare is to erode or destroy his base of support.So long as there is support for the guerilla, for every one you kill two more rise up to take his place. More importantly, when your tools for killing him are precision guided munitions, raids and other acts that create casualties among the innocent populace, you raise the support for the guerillas and undermine the support for yourself. (A 500-pound precision bomb has a casualty-producing radius of 400 meters minimum; do the math.)Second, our assessment of what motivates the average Iraqi was skewed, again by politically motivated "experts." We came here with some fantasy idea that the natives were all ignorant, mud-hut dwelling camel riders who would line the streets and pelt us with rose petals, lay palm fronds in the street and be eternally grateful. While at one time there may have actually been support and respect from the locals, months of occupation by our regular military forces have turned the formerly friendly into the recently hostile.Attempts to correct the thinking in this regard are in vain; it is not politically correct to point out the fact that the locals are not only disliking us more and more, they are growing increasingly upset and often overtly hostile. Instead of addressing the reasons why the locals are becoming angry and discontented, we allow politicians in Washington DC to give us pat and convenient reasons that are devoid of any semblance of reality.We are told that the locals are not upset because we have a hostile, aggressive and angry Army occupying their nation. We are told that they are not upset at the police state we have created, or at the manner of picking their representatives for them. Rather we are told, they are upset because of a handful of terrorists, criminals and dead enders in their midst have made them upset, that and of course the ever convenient straw man of "left wing media bias."Third, the guerillas are filling their losses faster than we can create them. This is almost always the case in guerilla warfare, especially when your tactics for battling the guerillas are aimed at killing guerillas instead of eroding their support. For every guerilla we kill with a "smart bomb" we kill many more innocent civilians and create rage and anger in the Iraqi community. This rage and anger translates into more recruits for the terrorists and less support for us.We have fallen victim to the body count mentality all over again. We have shown a willingness to inflict civilian casualties as a necessity of war without realizing that these same casualties create waves of hatred against us. These angry Iraqi citizens translate not only into more recruits for the guerilla army but also into more support of the guerilla army.Fourth, their lines of supply and communication are much shorter than ours and much less vulnerable. We must import everything we need into this place; this costs money and is dangerous. Whether we fly the supplies in or bring them by truck, they are vulnerable to attack, most especially those brought by truck. This not only increases the likelihood of the supplies being interrupted. Every bean, every bullet and every bandage becomes infinitely more expensive.Conversely, the guerillas live on top of their supplies and are showing every indication of developing a very sophisticated network for obtaining them. Further, they have the advantage of the close support of family and friends and traditional religious networks.Fifth, we consistently underestimate the enemy and his capabilities. Many military commanders have prepared to fight exactly the wrong war here.Our tactics have not adjusted to the battlefield and we are falling behind.Meanwhile the enemy updates his tactics and has shown a remarkable resiliency and adaptability.Because the current administration is more concerned with its image than it is with reality, it prefers symbolism to substance: soldiers are dying here and being maimed and crippled for life. It is tragic, indeed criminal that our elected public servants would so willingly sacrifice our nation's prestige and honor as well as the blood and treasure to pursue an agenda that is ahistoric and un-Constitutional.It is all the more ironic that this un-Constitutional mission is being performed by citizen soldiers such as myself who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, the same oath that the commander in chief himself has sworn.September 20, 2004Al Lorentz [send him mail] is former state chairman of the Constitution Party of Texas and is a reservist currently serving with the US Army in Iraq.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Bill Kumbier Letter 9/28/04

Dear Editors:Since I am at least two of the glass-half-empty individuals cited and criticized by Allen Shirley in his latest, upbeat letter on the "truth" of the state of the economy (Globe, 9/28), I want to respond to a couple of points.First, Shirley questions the use of recently released U. S. Census Bureau data on the grounds that the bureau "only does complete data every 10 years." Of course, as most Americans learn in grade school, a comprehensive U. S. Census is conducted only once every decade. Yet census data are collected and analyzed all the time, and the recent statistics that show that there are now 35.9 million poor Americans, that there are 45 million Americans without health insurance and that, during President Bush's term so far median family income has fallen by $1,535, are deeply disturbing and should be faced squarely, not rationalized away.Second, Shirley rhapsodizes about full parking lots at shopping centers and the presence of "over 100 restaurants on Range Line alone." One, truly, can see a lot at Wal-Mart if one's eyes are open, including underpaid, overworked associates trying to support a family on meager incomes and struggling young families, seniors and students buying crates of Ramen noodles and other cheap foods. In my neighborhood, I see more and more shoppers, but at convenience stores and the proliferating "dollar shops."Mr. Shirley may well see the glass "half full and filling," but his perception has no corner on economic "truth."Bill Kumbier

Jeff Martinek Letter 9/09/04

To The Editor:

The 10-year ban on assault rifles is due to expire on Monday. Polls show that two-thirds of Americans favor the extension of the ban on these military-style weapons.

Public health groups have called for the ban’s extension and police chiefs from large U.S. cities rallied last Wednesday at a Washington D.C. memorial for fallen police officers to ask the President to take action.

They should have reason for optimism: President Bush promised to extend the ban during his 2000 campaign, and just this week, through a White House spokesman, he contended that he “supports the reauthorization of the current ban.”

So why has a Congress controlled by the president’s party done nothing to bring a bill reauthorizing the ban to the President’s desk?

The answer is simple and cynical: The National Rifle Association.

The NRA, which has strategically withheld its support and vast soft-money resources from the president until the ban expires, is determined to hold him hostage in its outrageous campaign to put assault weapons back on the street. If the President can make it to Monday without an extension bill reaching his desk, he stands to receive a massive wave of NRA support, including hour-long infomercial ad-buys in swing states dedicated to attacking John Kerry.

Will the president go back on another campaign promise, pretend that he’s powerless to prod a Republican Congress, and allow the NRA to dictate national gun policy in the midst of a war on terror?

We’ll know in a matter of days. And we’ll take that knowledge to the polls on November 2nd.

Jeff Martinek
Joplin, MO

Mark Adams Letter 9/1/04

Screaming at Asphalt

Most of the American public does not know that communism started in Kirkistan, right on the Eastern slope and was financed with 5700 Rupes by a minor financial group in Hungary. They were first called the "Bonjovians". They went from Slovinia via canal boats and given more billions from banks in Sweden, overthrowing the Hessian leaders, all of this according to Senator Scafe in 1919. It is in the Congressional Records (1919). They left Hesssia and came to America and now here it is the Republican Party led by George W(where was he)Bush. Use the old brain and chew on that for a while.

What if President Bush had not invaded Iraq? Remember the majority of Americans did not support it. What if Bush used as an excuse, " U.S. Citizen do not want another Texas Air National Guard." How many more Alabama Air National Guards would we have suffered by now. See if you can wrap the old noodle around that one. How much greater would the screaming voices be if Bush had acted and dropped an A Bomb on Iran?

If Bush were a real Rebublican instead of a Neocon, what would the Republicans be saying about his steps to defend us as a nation by invading North Korea? Republican Party leaders set a pattern for all Republicans to follow, always screaming in protest at the concerned citizens even if the "concerned citizens for truth" are defending all of us as a nation. The news media takes up the protest of the Republicans as a drumbeat for the Republican choir to get everyone screaming at the concerned citizens.
What about John Q. Public, who does not give a flip about political parties. Our media is supposed to serve us — not the corporate entities that own them. Why don’t the news reports expose the truth? Guess what? The news media have their own agenda.
Mark Adams, Neosho
With inspiration from Gerald Fowler's letter Joplin

Jeff Martinek Chart Essay

Choices That Matter, Choices That Don’t

Jeff Martinek
Assistant Director, Honors Program

"Bad officials are elected by
good citizens who do not vote."
---George Jean Nathan

Never in the history of the human race have a people been presented with so many trivial choices---at the very time they should be concentrating on significant ones.

I’m not talking about the obvious consumer choices---McDonalds vs. Burger King, Nike vs. Reebok, Play Station vs. X-Box. Even if we decide on Coke instead of Pepsi, we are still obliged to choose which of the current 12,000 versions we want: Caffeine-Free-Low-Carb-Cherry-Vanilla-Ginseng-Viagra Coke anyone?

And then there are the MTV Awards, the Espys, the online Jay-Z vs. Nelly polls, the opportunities to “have your voice counted” about which Survivor should be voted off the island, who should bed the Bachelor, or become the next Apprentice, or the next bride of Joe Millionaire, or the most likeable mommy on “Trading Spouses”----wait, I meant “Wife Swap.”

As Americans, we glory in these choices---they’re the essence of our freedom, right? And in the age interactivity we demonstrate it with a vengeance. On the night of the finals of the first American Idol, the two largest phone carriers in the U.S. reported that call volume was over 230 million calls above normal. 230 million calls. Just to decide which pre-fab nonentity would be pronounced an international fake superstar!

Why then does the United States have by far the lowest voter turnout of any Western society----I mean turnout for votes which actually effect whether we go to war, what rules we will live under, which rights will be upheld, and how our money (and our children’s money) will be spent?

Why, furthermore, do young people---those who will be most affected by the political decisions now being made---show the least interest among any group of Americans in politics and voting?

The fact is that citizens in the 18-25 year range turn out at a rate of approximately 32% in presidential elections. And the rate for that age range amongst those lacking a college education is a pathetic 21%.

Nationwide, young adults say the biggest reasons they don’t vote is because “they do not care.” This is followed by “voting does not make a difference,” “not informed,” and “too busy/not enough time.”

Too busy? Perhaps mastering Madden NFL 2004 and scanning the ‘net for Eminem remixes are big time commitments. Or maybe there are better reasons for youthful apathy.

If you are not in college, you are statistically likely to be working a series of dead-end retail and/or manufacturing jobs, with no property, no kids, and no “investment in the system.”

If you are in college you are probably struggling to balance schoolwork with your part-time job(s). You may be unsure about how and where to vote while living away from home.

But most likely, you, as a young person, have grown cynical about politicians, who seem to consist of two types: either mealy-mouthed hypocrites or attack-ad spewing jerks.

It is to you I make my appeal.

First, let’s agree. American politics in the age of Television is a brutal and degrading blood-sport. Who could fail to be disgusted by the constant sniping, the dishonest political commericals, the pompous pundits trying to tell us what to think? It’s enough to make us ready to concede to Winston Churchill his famous claim that “Democracy is the worst form of government.”---as long as we remember the rest of the sentence---“with the exception of all others.”

Democracy is messy, and messiness tends to turn off the idealism of young people. Thus they opt out altogether.

Here’s my advice: don’t wait for the system or the politicians in it to become perfect. They won’t. But they will be a little less unbearable if they know that more people are keeping an eye on them.

Much is at stake in every election, but there’s never been more on the line for Americans in general and young Americans in particular than on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004. And young people---especially those in swing states like Missouri---have the opportunity to make the difference.

There are already some encouraging signs: young voter turnout increased almost 60 percent in last year’s New Hampshire Democratic primary. Four times as many 18-to-24-year-olds turned out for the 2004 Iowa caucuses than for the 2000 caucus, and there were also increases in turnout for the primaries across the country. In a poll taken in October 2003, 39 percent of people aged 17 to 24 were “absolutely certain” they would vote in the 2004 elections, 30 percent higher than its highest point a year before the 2000 elections.

Will students on this campus be part of a historic renewal of interest in politics, civics, and citizenship? Will they demand that politicians address their concerns, safeguard their futures, and consider their needs? Or will they continue to allow others to make decisions which will affect virtually every aspect of the life they have ahead of them?

Let’s just say that there’s a whole lot more at stake in these questions than whether we’ll be afflicted by Ruben Studdard or Clay Aiken.

Jeff Martinek Letter 9/27/04

Dear Editor:

President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have seriously misled the American people about the number of Iraqis that have been trained to provide for their own security.

In February, Rumsfeld said, "there are over 210,000 Iraqis serving in the security forces. That is an amazing accomplishment. There are a number of thousands more that are currently in training."

Rumsfeld's statement was grossly inaccurate. On Tuesday (9/21), Rumsfeld admitted, "we're training up their security forces now…about 105,000 are now properly trained and equipped."

On Saturday (9/25), President Bush repeated this when he said that nearly 100,000 “fully trained and equipped” Iraqi soldiers, police officers and other security personnel are at work.

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee now estimate that only 22,700 Iraqis are trained enough to be “minimally effective at their tasks.”

But they were being generous: the Pentagon’s own documents show that only 8,169 have had the full eight-week training program. 46,176 Iraqis are listed as “untrained.”

Everyone is entitled to do a little “rounding up” to make numbers look better, but when you represent approximately 8,000 trained Iraqis as being a force of 100,000 or even 210,000, you are no longer merely fudging. You are lying.

Jeff Martinek

Robin Douglas Letter 9/27/04

The Letter from Helen Setser (9/27), asks CBS to issue an apology for running false documents. Where is our apology from President Bush? The documents may have been false but the message is not - no one knows where he was when he was supposed to be serving in the national guard. That is the question - where was he? There is an unclaimed $60,000 waiting for anyone who can say they served with him - again, I say, it is unclaimed. I don't care if Kerry deserved or didn't deserve his medals - at least we know where he was during the war. Let's stick to the facts. Now why are we in Iraq? Oh yeah, something about some things were suppose to be somewhere or something like that...kinda.

Jeff Martinek Letter 9/26/04

Dear Editors:
The constant attacks on John Kerry by the Republican slime machine suggesting that he will be soft on terrorism and unwilling to support his own military defies both logic and 20th century history.
Never mind that Kerry himself is a decorated veteran who volunteered for two tours of duty, won a silver star, a bronze star, and three purple hearts in a war avoided by both our current President and Vice President. The charge supposedly sticks simply because he is a Democrat.
But how in God’s name can anyone assert that Democrats are unwilling to wage war and support the military?
A Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, sent Americans to Europe to save Democracy in 1917 (over the vehement objections of isolationist Republicans).
A Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt, responded to Pearl Harbor in 1941 by putting the entire nation on a war footing in order to support the "Greatest Generation" in its struggle against totalitarianism on two fronts.
A Democrat, Harry Truman, made the gravest wartime decision in human history when he choose to drop atomic bombs on Japan in an effort to cut short the slaughter of American G.I.’s. That same Missouri Democrat committed the US to the fight against Communism in Korea.
A Democrat, John F. Kennedy, faced down the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
And finally, for better or worse, it was a Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, who escalated the war against Communist expansion in Vietnam.
Yes, that’s right, every major war of the 20th Century was presided over by a Democrat. And the two world wars which left the U.S. the most powerful international force on the globe were both won with Democrats in office.
Keep that in mind the next time "Five Deferment" Dick Cheney, makes another sneering remark about the mythical softness of Democrats on defense.

Jeff Martinek Letter 9/26/04

Dear Editor:
Colleen Crabb Cook was apparently trying out-Zell Zell Miller in the use of empty and outrageous rhetoric in attacking John Kerry’s defense record in these pages. Miller suggested at the Republican National Convention that a Kerry-led armed service would be left with nothing but "spit balls" to defend itself; Cook’s vivid imagination took that line of thought to its surreal conclusion when she wrote that "if Kerry should become our next president, our Army will be made of naked men running around with sticks and clubs."
Of course neither Miller nor Cook can defend such claims. The problem is that such indefensible images are meant to "stick" despite the fact that no one, not even the speakers themselves, takes them seriously.
While deliberate exaggeration to make a point is a normal part of all persuasive speech, there’s a point at which empty inflammatory rhetoric does irreparable damage to the credibility of those who use it. After all, if one had a solid case, backed up by clear and convincing facts, one would not have to resort to such blatantly unfair and irrational attacks.
As far as John Kerry’s votes a decade ago to cut certain defense programs, let me quote directly from George Bush senior’s 1992 State of the Union Address:
". . . we will shut down further production of the B-2 bombers. We will cancel the small ICBM program. We will cease production of new warheads for our sea-based ballistic missiles. We will stop all new production of the Peacekeeper missile. And we will not purchase any more advanced cruise missiles. . . . The Secretary of Defense recommended these cuts . . . ."
And who was Secretary of Defense under George Bush senior? Mr. Five Draft Deferments himself----Dick Cheney!

Joy Dworkin Letter 9/07/04

Letter for “Voices” page:

Safer with Kerry

The International Brotherhood of Police Officers, a national organization that supported Bush in 2000, recently endorsed John Kerry. Although political pundits claim Bush will win on Nov. 2nd if we enter the polls with security as our top concern, I agree with the police officers. We’ll all be safer with John Kerry.

The invocation of 9/11 at the Republican National Convention should only serve to remind us that we’ve been less safe since Bush took office, not more so. To be safe, we must accurately identify danger. Shockingly, many Americans still believe Iraq was linked to 9/11. As for the overt Iraq War II justification that the U.S. was threatened, I thank Mr. King for reminding Globe readers (“Get it right,” 9/5) that Saddam Hussein used WMD’s, but that was in the 1980’s. Bush misled the country into war, distorting information from the CIA, which actually argued against claims of imminent danger, and resisted demands to investigate and disclose information about events leading up to the tragic attack. Indeed, for nine months our president steadfastly refused to establish the Department of Homeland Security.

The wrongness of our military policy toward Iraq is not a partisan issue. Pat Buchanan said the other night on national TV that he’s sure Reagan wouldn’t have waged war against Iraq. He guesses Nixon wouldn’t have, either. George W. Bush’s militarism and handling of international politics is extremist and is counter-productive. A senior CIA official has been quoted as identifying our preemptive war as the best possible advertisement for Al Qaida recruitment. Again, thanks to Bush, we are less safe.

As a U.S. citizen proud of the ideals of our constitutional democracy, I know those ideals can ultimately defeat repressive ideologies. But only if we live up to them.


Joy Dworkin

Joy Dworkin Letter 9/22/04

September 22, 2004
President Bush's Lead Balloon
We did not expect President Bush to come before the United Nations in the middle of his re-election campaign and acknowledge the serious mistakes his administration has made on Iraq. But that still left plenty of room for him to take advantage of this one last chance to appeal to an increasingly antagonistic world to help the Iraqis secure and rebuild their shattered nation and prepare for elections in just four months. Instead, Mr. Bush delivered an inexplicably defiant campaign speech in which he glossed over the current dire situation in Iraq for an audience acutely aware of the true state of affairs, and scolded them for refusing to endorse the American invasion in the first place.
Even when he talked about issues of common agreement, like the global fight against AIDS and easing the crushing third-world debt, Mr. Bush seemed more interested in praising his own policies than in assuming the leadership of an international effort. The speech would have drawn cheers at an adoring Republican National Convention, but it seemed to fall flat in a room full of stony-faced world leaders.
Mr. Bush has never exhibited much respect for the United Nations at the best of times. But the United States now desperately needs the partnership of other nations on Iraq. Without substantial help from major nations, the prospects for stabilizing that country anytime soon are bleak. American soldiers and taxpayers are paying a heavy price for Washington's wrongheaded early insistence on controlling all important military, political and economic decision-making in post-invasion Iraq.
Other nations have generally responded by sitting sullenly on the sidelines. Even when they cast grudging votes for American-sponsored Security Council resolutions, they hold back on troops and financial support. With the war going so badly and voters hostile to it in most democracies, that situation is unlikely to change unless Washington signals a new attitude, and deals with other countries as real partners whose opinions and economic interests are entitled to respectful consideration.
Mr. Bush might have done better at wooing broader international support if he had spent less time on self-justification and scolding and more on praising the importance of international cooperation and a strengthened United Nations. Instead, his tone-deaf speechwriters achieved a perverse kind of alchemy, transforming a golden opportunity into a lead balloon.
[p.s. there were also reports yesterday that Bush called his own CIA's grim predictions for Iraq "just guessing" --- I'll try to track that quote down and pass it on]

Democratic Talking Points 9/20/04

>>> Elizabeth Allen 9/20/2004 9:15:10 AM >>>
Kerry Letter Writers Network:

For those of you interested in writing further about Iraq, I have included the latest talking points. When you write, please try to keep our audience in mind - the undecided voter - who will be more convinved by solid reasoning than emotional outbursts. We need to reach out to open minded people to demonstrate not only why George Bush is WRONG, but now we must emphasize why John Kerry is RIGHT to lead this country.

Also, this week in Missouri, a new group called Moms with a Mission will be launching a nationwide Home Front Tour. These Moms are women with children serving in either Iraq or Afghanistan who plan to tell the American people the truth about what going on over there, and what military families are facing back home.

They will be in Springfield and Joplin on Tuesday and Hannibal on Wednesday before moving on to Iowa. Please support them if they come to your hometown.

Thanks, and keep writing. Your letters are working! Elizabeth

Talking Points on Iraq
September 20, 2004

The question for this campaign, and for the American people, is whether George Bush has handled Iraq in a way that has made us stronger or weaker, safer or less secure.
George Bush took us to war, and as Commander-in-Chief he is solely responsible for where we are today.
George Bush tells us that if he had it all to do again, he would do it the same way. Think about what he’s saying. He still would have rushed to war without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work. He would have still sent our troops into battle without enough body armor. He would have rushed our country into war without any notion of how to win the peace. He would have still set the conditions for what happened at Abu Ghraib.
Not only is this incompetent and arrogant, it’s dangerous and serves as a clear warning for what George Bush may do in the future.
· The President is not being honest with the American people or about what’s going on in Iraq. And our Commander-in-Chief is not being honest with our troops. The administration’s own official intelligence estimate paints a grim picture for what may happen in Iraq. Yet the President continues to look at what’s happening in Iraq through rose colored glasses.
Some of the Republican Party’s most experienced senators on national security issues – Senators McCain, Hagel and Lugar – have come out and told the American people that things are not going well in Iraq. Yet the President continues his same happy talk without acknowledging the truth.
Real leadership means being able to change course in order to avoid failure and best protect the American people. Yet, Bush stubbornly clings to a failed course.
This President’s failure to level with us before the war has been matched and exceeded by fundamental errors of judgment during and after the war. He made colossal failures of judgment.
Because of the way President Bush has handled Iraq, he’s taken his eye off of more urgent dangers – the nuclear threats have increased – look at Iran and North Korea; the international terrorist club has expanded; radicalism in the Middle East is on the march; and we have divided our friends and united our enemies. Our standing in the world is at an all time low.
Consider where we were, and where we are. After the events of September 11, we had an opportunity to bring our country and the world together in the struggle against the terrorists. Through his policy in Iraq, the President squandered that moment and isolated us from the world.
John Kerry believes that despite all that has gone wrong, we can still avoid failure in Iraq. Like McCain, Hagel and Lugar, he believes that Bush has to level with the troops and the American people about the war and the enemies we are fighting.
John Kerry has a plan to get us back on track in Iraq. Today he called on President Bush to take the following steps in Iraq. First, the president must finally secure promised international support. The President must also get serious about training Iraqi security forces and get this moving. Third, the President must carry out a reconstruction plan that brings benefits to the Iraqi people. And finally, the President must take essential steps to hold promised elections next year.
The truth is that the President Bush has no strategy for success in Iraq. He has not told the truth to the American people about why we went to war and how the war is going. His leadership has made us less secure and weaker in the war against terrorism.
John Kerry knows that we have to do better to avoid failure. He knows that we have to change the direction of our country. And when he is in the White House, that’s exactly what he will do.

Bill Kumbier Letter 0/19/04

Dear Editor,
Judging from several quotes in the recent New York Times article, "For Many in Missouri, Picking a President Is More a Matter of Values Than Policy" (9/19/04), I sense that many of my fellow Missourians will be choosing between President Bush and Senator Kerry this year on the basis of "moral issues" and "Christian-influenced social values." Not surprisingly, coming from this self-proclaimed "buckle on the Bible belt," those moral issues are, pre-eminently, abortion, gay marriage and the freedom to tote a gun.
As one Missourian to another, I would encourage undecided voters in my state who are concerned with the morality of a presidential candidate’s position to think a little more broadly about what constitutes a "moral" action or policy. Is it moral to stand by and watch millions more descend into poverty, as recent U. S. Census Bureau figures have shown, while awarding the wealthy with over $400 billion in tax cuts? Is it moral to burden future generations of Americans with a deficit that will take years to eliminate? Is it moral to continue to allow almost 20% of our population to try to survive without adequate health care? Is it moral to initiate an unnecessary war that so far has cost the lives of over 1,000 Americans and an estimated 10,000 Iraqis, a war that has provoked yet more atrocities and shattered the lives of American and Iraqi families?
I appreciate the value that Missourians put on morality, but morality, Christian or otherwise, cannot be separated from social justice and a basic commitment to human rights. I believe Senator Kerry will come far closer than President Bush has to realizing those ideals. If Republicans claim that President Bush has done or will do that, then I respond, as we say in Missouri, "Show me!"
William Kumbier

May Belle Osborne Letter 9/04/04

Dear Editor,
Arnold Schwarzenegger rewrote history in his RNC speech. Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey never debated in 1968. Presidential debates took a hiatus from 1960(Kennedy/Nixon) to 1976 (Ford/Carter)

True to his acting career in a make believe world, Arnold ignored reality and lied about the fundamental values on which he said he based his entire political code of beliefs for his life.

Dismissing reality (education, economy, healthcare and national security) and denying historical fact and truth is a flaw of the Republicans of the current administration.

It is frustrating to witness an administration built on secrecy and deceit with the money and majorities on the FEC and FCC controlling the airwaves. The current administration shows total disrespect for the reasoning intellect of average citizens, expecting us to live their sad lie. We never hear the truth. The average citizens are smarter than that, are they not?

May Belle Osborne Neosho,MO

Jude Meche Letter 9/18/04

Dear Editor,

Joe Jaglowitz’s 18 September letter regarding John Kerry’s military service makes it obvious that he has only listened to the Bush camp’s slanders of John Kerry rather than seeking out the truth about Kerry’s military service. Let’s be clear; the Bush camp has no interest in telling the truth about their opponent, so no truly educated voter should listen to only Bush’s version. So, let’s take a look at how Kerry recounts his military service.

Unlike many other young men at that time, John Kerry did not run away from military service. Kerry did his duty in Vietnam and was recognized not only for his service but for his heroism. Even Republican Senator John McCain has praised Kerry for his wartime service.

But Mr. Jaglowitz is correct. Kerry did change his mind about the war in Vietnam. After seeing how the conflict in Vietnam was mis-managed and seeing the atrocities committed by Americans in the name of war, Kerry decided that the war was wrong. It takes strength of character to admit a mistake. We emphasize to our children that it is better to ‘fess up when they have made mistakes. And when our children do admit their mistakes, we praise them for their courage. So, why should we not hold our president to the same standards that we hold our children?

Instead of continuing to support an Iraqi war that has been mis-managed and that has seen atrocities committed by American soldiers, John Kerry has once again shown the strength of character to admit his mistakes. This is not a “flip-flop,” as Mr. Jaglowitz claims. This is strength of character, and this is courage. And it’s time we have someone with both of those characteristics in the Oval Office.

Jude Meche
Joplin, MO

Bill Kumbier Letter 9/18/04

A recent (September 18) New York Times/CBS News poll shows that many Americans say that John Kerry has not made a case for why he wants to be president and are concerned about Kerry’s ability to handle an international crisis. Even though many of these Americans also think that the country is “heading in the wrong direction” and are “distressed” with President Bush’s handling of the economy, they incline toward Bush.

As a Kerry supporter, I am distressed by the apparent lack of public awareness this poll reflects. I began to pat serious attention to John Kerry during the Iowa caucuses and it took me only a couple days of listening and reading to learn why he wanted to be president, what he would do as president and that he would tackle international crises by engaging the support of America’s traditional allies without weakening our resolve. I know Kerry wants to be president to improve the lives of all Americans, by implementing a detailed health care plan that will make available to all Americans the same health care coverage that our legislators enjoy and a detailed plan for eliminating tax breaks for companies who are “outsourcing” American jobs and by reducing the unconscionable economic and human burdens Bush’s stubborn, go-it-alone war policy has imposed on us.
The poll clearly suggests that Americans simply have bought what the Republicans are selling: vague plans for the future and an image of John Kerry so obviously false that it’s stunning that thinking voters would accept it. I have been privileged to vote in eight presidential elections and I can remember none that entail consequences for Americans as serious as this one. It is more important than ever for voters to be aware, to watch, read and listen critically and inform themselves.

Bill Kumbier Letter 9/04/04

Dear Editors:
As reported in the New York Times (9/4/04), on the day after President Bush proclaimed what he is doing and will do to help seniors manage increasing medical expenses, Medicare officials announced the largest premium increase in Medicare's history, a 17% increase to $78.20 a month. This comes on top of U. S. Census Bureau data released late last month that revealed that the number of Americans without any health insurance at all grew by 5.2 million to 45 million, roughly 16% of the population. Moreover, the announced Medicare increase has nothing to do with whatever increased costs seniors will face when the new prescription drug benefit program begins in 2006, a program the president is very proud of but one in some respects so scandalous that it caused many seniors to cancel their AARP memberships. These facts belie whatever President Bush claims he has done to make health care available to Americans. As John Kerry recently pointed out, the war in Iraq so far has cost us $200 billion: "Think of what that money could have done for schools, for health care, for prescription drugs, for all the things we need to do."
Bill Kumbier, Joplin

Jeff Martinek Letter 9/14/04

To The Editors:

As the Republican National Convention made abundantly clear, President Bush intends to ignore his abysmal economic record and run the last leg of his reelection campaign almost entirely on the proposition that only he is capable of maintaining the safety and security of the American public.

Vice-President Cheney went as far as to suggest that a “wrong choice” in the upcoming election could mean that the U.S. would be “hit again . . . in a way that will be devastating.” His message was inescapable: John Kerry can’t and won’t keep you safe.

But has the Bush administration and the Republican Congress, really made us safer? Let’s look at the facts.

According the Department of Homeland Security’s own records, Bush cut funding to the Office of Domestic Preparedness, which supplies a variety of first-responder grants to state and local governments, by $800 million, from $4.4 billion in 2004 to $3.6 billion in 2005. In addition, Bush cut state and local domestic preparedness grants by $975 million in his 2005 budget, from $2.4 billion in 2004 to $1.43 billion in 2005.

Coming closer to home, The Bush budget cuts $17,846,848 from homeland security formula grants in Missouri. These grants provide police, firefighters and emergency management teams with the training and equipment they need to keep communities safe. He also cut state and local grant funding for first responder training, exercise, and technical assistance by nearly half, from $320 million in 2004 to $178 million in 2005.

Shame on the President for funneling billions towards an unnecessary and ill-conceived war Iraq while simultaneously cutting taxes on the richest Americans (the only war-time tax cut in history). It has forced the Bush administration to make cuts in the very government functions that we need more than ever to keep ourselves safe.

Jeff Martinek

Jeff Martinek Letter 9/03/04

To the editor:

It would be hard to pick the most repellant moment of a Republican National Convention which set new lows for evasion, dishonesty, and sheer viciousness.

For some it was Arnold’s Schwarzenegger's cruel and smarmy line labeling those who worried about their economic futures “girly men”--- take that, laid-off auto workers!
For others it was the foaming-at-the-mouth rant by keynote speaker Zell Miller, the same man who said at the ’92 DNC that the Republican party was the party of “cynicism and skepticism” which has “mastered the art of division and diversion, and . . . robbed us of our hope.”

But for me it was the “Purple Heart Band-Aids” distributed to the delegates by Morton Blackwell, a longtime GOP activist associated with Senior White House Advisor Karl Rove. According to AP reports, these bandages, emblazoned with purple heart, mocked the service of John Kerry and were accompanied by a message which read: “It was just a self-inflicted scratch, but you see I got a Purple Heart for it.”

Could anything more disgraceful be imagined? Let’s not forget this about a party that mocks the sacrifices of American war heroes, starts optional and ill-conceived wars, and bans photos of military caskets:

Newt Gingrich: Did Not Serve
Karl Rove: Did Not Serve
Paul Wolfowitz: Did Not Serve
Dennis Hastert: Did Not Serve
Tom DeLay: Did Not Serve
John Ashcroft: Did Not Serve
Dick Cheney: Did Not Serve
George Bush: Supported The War in Vietnam, but used family influence to avoid service there.

And those who poison the airwaves with anti-Kerry bile:

Rush Limbaugh: Did Not Serve
Bill O’Reilly: Did Not Serve
Sean Hannity: Did Not Serve
Michael Savage: Did Not Serve
Joe Scarborough Did Not Serve

We had a word for people like this in the 60’s: chickenhawks.

Jeff Martinek

Pat Murphy Letter 9/13/04

As a hardworking member of the middle class, like so many other Americans, I am extremely concerned about the shortsighted and dangerous practices of the Bush administration and fear for the future of our country if Bush is re-elected. Consider the domestic state of our country. U.S. jobs continue to be “outsourced” to other nations or otherwise terminated. The rich, not the working poor or the middle class, have enjoyed the bulk of tax relief measures. We face a huge, record-setting federal deficit that threatens not only our security, but also that of future generations. We are witnessing the weakening of protections for clean air and water, as big industries see a rosy economic future at the expense of ordinary Americans. The oil producers continue to call the shots while prices skyrocket and alternative energy sources are virtually ignored. The Medicare prescription drug act benefits not our needy senior citizens, but the pharmaceutical companies that are already seeing huge profits. Our cherished rights as Americans are being slowly eroded. The Patriot Act, for instance, poses numerous serious threats to the liberties we have always held dear and that generations of Americans have died to uphold. Eminent U.S. scientists have pointed to the Administration’s failure to respect sound scientific practices. Highly-placed members of the president’s own administration have come forward and criticized deeply flawed proposals and programs. Billions of dollars that could help Americans at home are being diverted to an ill-advised war in Iraq.

Four more years under Bush? Why? Our prospects for the future are dismal if the false promises and reckless policies are allowed to continue. We need to act in our best interests as Americans and refuse to re-elect this seriously flawed administration.

Pat Murphy

Ann Courtney Letter 9/03/04

“Respecting America”

Mr. George W. Bush has repeatedly sneered at our Constitution and our way of life. Have we forgotten that the validity of his election was never really established? For that reason I have been concerned by this President from the beginning of his term, and as a loyal American citizen, I am not reassured by what he has done since. His Patriot Act, which allows Federal agencies access to every scrap of knowledge available about us, is a complete suspension of our freedom as American citizens. His practice of giving tax cuts to the rich while giving “tax cuts” to the rest of us that (did you read the fine print?) our children will have to pay back in another ten years or so is not the American way. His practice of allowing his vice president to continue receiving dividends for energy company Halliburton and award them an $8 billion dollar postwar Iraq contract is clearly unconstitutional. His practice of arresting representatives of the Democratic Party and other legitimate protesters at conventions and rallies is a clear misuse of our law enforcement agencies to violate freedom of speech. How is it that we as Americans have not undertaken impeachment proceedings against Mr. Bush, who declared war without the appropriate act of Congress? He is NOT a true representative of the Republican Party, he is NOT a true representative of Christianity, and he is CERTAINLY NOT a representative of the values I as an American hold dear. Please, please, folks, hold Mr. Bush accountable for his actions. Remember, there is still a Republican Congress. If Mr. Kerry is elected, that same Republican Congress will stonewall any of his more radical ideas. Mr. Kerry has proven that he is able to work constructively with several of the politicians we most honor, including Mr. John McCain and Mr. Bob Dole, and these gentlemen will help him reach compromise agreements with Congress that will protect our jobs and our industry. But you have seen that in the past four years that same Republican Congress has done nothing to stop Mr. Bush from selling our industry out of the country for the benefit of his wealthy friends. Do you realize that our water company, the so-called Missouri-American Water Company, was permitted to be sold to a German company? We don’t even own our water rights any more, folks! Let’s use the system of checks-and-balances provided by our wonderful political system to prevent Mr. Bush from tearing more holes in our Constitution and from selling any more of our country down the river.

Dick Thompson E-mail 9/11/04


This is from new member Dick Thompson, a local Democrat who has gotten many letters into the Globe. He makes this extremely important point about how we do our submissions:

Don't know if it has to do with content, or someone at the Globe being asleep at the switch, but I haven't had much luck submitting letters from the Globe's online "letter to the editor" form. Have had more success sending e-mails directly to:

or to editorial page editor Clair Goodwin at:

or to editor Ed Simpson at:

Thanks for your own "letters to the editor" contributions. Don't know that we'll change many minds in this stronghold of "true believer" Republicans, but at least we can try. I'm particularly bothered that the Globe seems to give a lot of space to local Bush / Cheney "regional coordinator" Allen Shirley, without identifying his "position", and not publish rebuttals to his own distortions of fact. Maybe that in itself is an appropriate subject for a letter.

The other thing I don't know is how one becomes a "guest writer", not subject to the nominal 300-word limitation on ordinary letters to the editor. Do you?

Keep tryin' !

Dick Thompson

Bill Kumbier Letter 9/11/04

Dear Editors:
Why has President Bush only generally and vaguely "denounced" the so-called "527s"—political action groups that raise unregulated soft money—and not specifically the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Why would he not want to distance himself, as clearly and unequivocally as possible, from this group, whose lies about John Kerry’s Vietnam service continue to sprawl all over the news media and now top the best-seller list? Could it be because, as reported in the New York Times (9/11/04), the biggest chunks of the $6.7 million the Swift Boat Veterans have received come from Bush backers, like T. Boone Pickens, who gave $500,000 to the Swift Boaters, and Bob Perry, a Texas Bush supporter who gave $200,000 in seed money to the group, not to mention many others who have supported both Bush and the Swift Boat Veterans with contributions of $1,000 or more?
As Hendrik Hertzberg recently argued in the New Yorker magazine, the Swift Boat schemers want us to worry about whether, at Christmastime in 1968, John Kerry "was a few thousand yards on one side or the other of the border between Cambodia and South Vietnam." What we really should be worried about is why the Swifties have shoveled millions into a campaign to benefit, whether he admits it or not, George W. Bush, who, as Hertzberg put it, "spent Christmas of 1968 on the East Coast . . . about fourteen million yards from the Vietnam-Cambodia border."
Bill Kumbier

Pat Murphy Letter 9/03/04

Now that the Republican Convention has concluded, it’s vital that we look behind the well-orchestrated show of approval for Bush’s policies and carefully examine the record of this administration. As a concerned American who loves our country deeply, I am appalled at the incredible amount of damage our country has suffered during the Bush administration and fear that re-election will bring irreparable harm. This administration’s record is a shameful one—which perhaps explains why the campaign rhetoric has focused on attacking Kerry rather than exploring the administration’s actions—as the Iraq situation exemplifies. This administration has enacted policies that are short-sighted, ineffective, and dangerous.

We invaded Iraq preemptively, in violation of the non-aggression policy we have followed throughout our history. We were rushed to war with claims about weapons of mass destruction and with inferences that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Neither, of course, was true. Hundreds of American soldiers have died because of this rush to war, and our brave troops will continue to perish. Instead of saving war as a last resort, the administration seemed eager for an invasion, refusing to allow the weapons inspectors to complete their work. Our virtually unilateral invasion has cost us the high moral ground that we once held in the world and devastated our ties with our allies. The atrocious acts in Abu Ghraib sicken every American who values moral responsibility. The world has become not a safer place through this war but a more dangerous one, as we’ve seen through the alarming influx of foreign terrorists into Iraq. Vice President Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, profits obscenely through the war and its no-bid contracts.

The administration tends to ignore these facts and acts as if we should ignore them as well. We shouldn’t.

Pat Murphy

Bill Kumbier Letter 9/11/04

Dear Editor,
While watching the Republican National Convention a couple of weeks ago I became so frustrated and irritated with the spectacle of conventioneers’ flapping their plastic footwear and chanting "Flip flop" that I almost threw a sandal at the television.
Bush supporters, it seems, are quick to pounce on any instance of what they see as their opponent’s opportunistic changes of mind and vote or as an unprincipled weakness and willingness to go whichever way the political winds blows. They fail to realize—or, more likely, wish us to forget to realize—that there are often very sound reasons for changing one’s position or acting in a way that may at first seem inconsistent but actually is not.
Consider how the Republicans characterize John Kerry’s "record" on Iraq. They are fond of appearing "puzzled" by the fact that Kerry voted to authorize the President to take military action against Iraq yet later wasn’t quick to vote for President Bush’s request for $87 billion more to fight the war. They are even more "confused" at Kerry’s willingness to vote for the money if the funds were taken from Bush’s $400 billion in tax cuts but not if that spending would simply add to the burden of the deficit all Americans bear.
The Republicans want us to forget that almost everyone in Congress voted for the authority Bush wanted to go after Saddam Hussein and that many, once they saw how undiplomatically and recklessly he did that, regretted that vote. They want us to forget that a war begun on the pretense of eliminating weapons of mass destruction doesn’t seem so justifiable when it turns out there are no such weapons. They want us to forget that the war costs money that might better be spent on improving the quality of Americans’ lives.
The Republicans’ criticism of what they call "flip flopping" reflects a simplistic world view that wants to see everything as black or white, that doesn’t make room for responding to new information and that sticks stubbornly to a position even when it makes perfect sense to change it. I for one would rather have a leader who was flexible enough to respond to changes, who is open to new possibilities and strategies, and who can appreciate the complexity of some situations, all qualities that I see in John Kerry but, sadly, not in President Bush.
William Kumbier