The Fear

Here’s the transcript of Bush’s Feb. 8, 2003 radio address:

“THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Powell briefed the United Nations Security Council on Iraq’s illegal weapons program, its attempts to hide those weapons, and its links to terrorist groups.

The Iraqi regime’s violations of Security Council Resolutions are evident, they are dangerous to America and the world, and they continue to this hour.

The regime has never accounted for a vast arsenal of deadly, biological and chemical weapons. To the contrary, the regime is pursuing an elaborate campaign to conceal its weapons materials and to hide or intimidate key experts and scientists. This effort of deception is directed from the highest levels of the Iraqi regime, including Saddam Hussein, his son, Iraq’s vice president and the very official responsible for cooperating with inspectors.

The Iraqi regime has actively and secretly attempted to obtain equipment needed to produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Firsthand witnesses have informed us that Iraq has at least seven mobile factories for the production of biological agents — equipment mounted on trucks and rails to evade discovery.

The Iraqi regime has acquired and tested the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction. It has never accounted for thousands of bombs and shells capable of delivering chemical weapons. It is actively pursuing components for prohibited ballistic missiles. And we have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.

One of the greatest dangers we face is that weapons of mass destruction might be passed to terrorists who would not hesitate to use those weapons. Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. And an al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases.

We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad.

This is the situation as we find it — 12 years after Saddam Hussein agreed to disarm and more than 90 days after the Security Council passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous vote. Saddam Hussein was required to make a full declaration of his weapons programs. He has not done so. Saddam Hussein was required to fully cooperate in the disarmament of his regime. He has not done so. Saddam Hussein was given a final chance. He is throwing away that chance.

Having made its demands, the Security Council must not back down when those demands are defied and mocked by a dictator. The United States would welcome and support a new resolution making clear that the Security Council stands behinds its previous demands. Yet, resolutions mean little without resolve. And the United States, along with a growing coalition of nations, will take whatever action is necessary to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime.

Thank you for listening.

END”

And so it was off to war, glorious war. And, of course, the bonus that Bush would be a “war President” for the election.

John Quincy Adams and George Walker Bush

I saw the following quote in a fundraising pitch from The Independent Institute*:

“During this time, President Bush has become the first full-term president since John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) NOT to have vetoed a SINGLE bill.”

Information from the Office Clerk of the House confirms this statement(http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0801767.html).

It is certainly an attention getting statistic… I don’t rightly know what to make of it, other than it only re-emphasizes the exceptional nature of the Bush Presidency.

* Yes, I’m aware of where their money comes from, like everyone else on the right. At the same time, I have a lot more respect for truly libertarian institutions like this. These folks are generally a lot more coherent and consistent than their brethren… and they’ve been consistently and highly critical of the Bush’s administration’s policies re: the war in Iraq, civil liberties, and expansion of police power.

Thomas Leavitt

Greens vs Dems

I posted a comment in the ongoing Greens vs Dems debate, and thought I would elevate it to a post. (I can do that. So can the other posters here, by the way.)

Changing the minds…

The Green’s idea is that they are forcing the Democratic Party and the country back to the left. I agree that this needs to happen. In fact I used to BE a Green because I believed this strongly.

But if you study what has happened to America it is not the Republican PARTY that has moved the public — and therefore the Democratic Party — to the right, it is their network of well-funded think tanks and advocacy/communication organizations. By changing public attitudes, they can elect candidates that reflect the changes their efforts have brought.

Parties reflect the public. What is needed is not a change in the Democratic Party, but a means to change public attitudes, which would then change the candidates and parties. Parties don’t tell the people what to think — people’s thinking tells the parties what to do. Parties respond to the voters. Change the people, then the Parties will change.

To accomplish this, we need to fund organizations that are able to reach the general public through marketing, and work to restore Progressive values of community, sharing, nurturing and democracy — and counter the Right’s propaganda. That’s what the Right has been doing — pounding the public with “free-market” and “linertarian” and “personal responsibility” messaging — and we need to do it right back.

This is not the job of just a radio network, it requires a long-term effort with strategic funding designed to reach the long-term goals. It requires many organizations doing research into public attitudes and language and messaging, etc. That’s what the Right does. They have over 500 organizations working on this, and they are well-funded.

As the public is moved back from the Right’s constant ideological drumbeat, THEN the Democratic Party will respond.

m4s0n501

ANOTHER Fine Mess He’s Gotten Us Into!

Three years ago North Korea did NOT have nukes. Bush insulted them and called them part of the “axis of evil” and then refused to negotiate with them, forcing them into a crash program to develop nuclear weapons. So here we are. Our military is completely tied up in Iraq, and North Korea is threatening to set off nuclear weapons.

N. Korea Threatens to Test Nuclear Weapon:

“WASHINGTON (AP) – North Korea told the United States on Thursday that it would test a nuclear weapon unless Washington accepted Pyongyang’s proposal for a freeze on its atomic program, a senior administration official said.”

It REALLY, REALLY matters who you vote for. REALLY.

This is a case where the “lesser of two evils” literally means not ending the world.

The Terrible Cost

“Price of war”:

The Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy In Focus have released a study on the costs of the Iraq war. Here are the human costs as cited by the groups, but the report also includes security, economic and social costs.

Human costs for the U.S., Iraq and the world:

U.S. Military Deaths: Between the start of war on March 19, 2003 and June 16, 2004, 952 coalition forces were killed, including 835 U.S. military. Of the total, 693 were killed after President Bush declared the end of combat operations on May 1, 2003. Over 5,134 U.S. troops have been wounded since the war began, including 4,593 since May 1, 2003.

Contractor Deaths: Estimates range from 50 to 90 civilian contractors, missionaries, and civilian worker deaths. Of these, 36 were identified as Americans.

Journalist Deaths: Thirty international media workers have been killed in Iraq, including 21 since President Bush declared the end of combat operations. Eight of the dead worked for U.S. companies.

Iraqi Deaths and Injuries: As of June 16, 2004, between 9,436 and 11,317 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion and ensuing occupation, while an estimated 40,000 Iraqis have been injured. During “major combat” operations, between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers and insurgents were killed.

Human Costs: While Americans make up the vast majority of military and contractor personnel in Iraq, other U.S.-allied “coalition” troops have suffered 116 war casualties in Iraq. In addition, the focus on Iraq has diverted international resources and attention away from humanitarian crises such as in Sudan.

Who you vote for does make a difference. If not to you, it certainly did and does to those listed above.

Supreme Court Backs Cheney

The same Supreme Court that ruled that President Clinton basically had to go on television in his underwear (no attorney-client privilege, OK to proceed with private suit that supposedly wouldn’t get in the way of running the country, etc.) ruled that courts can take more time deciding whether to make Cheney disclose who and what went on with his “secret energy task force.”

One thing we know about the task force is that it involved maps of Iraq’s oil fields even before 9/11. If we know that, and they still want the rest of it secret, what is it they want to keep the public from knowing?

Denial of Service Attack on my personal weblog.

It appears that someone has launched a denial of service attack on my personal weblog – the post at this URL: http://www.thomasleavitt.org/personal/blog/index.php?p=530, accounts for 150 out of the last 200 accesses, and 670 out of the last 1000 … most of them from a small number of similar IP addresses. Given that the post is entitled “Nader endorses Camejo!”, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to draw the conclusion that someone angry about Nader’s selection of Camejo as his VP is trying to exact their revenge. Which is amusing, given that I’ve already stated that if the race is close in California, Kerry is likely to get my vote… despite the fact that I run a web site entitled UnrepentantNaderVoter.com. Not to mention my rather ambiguous feelings about Nader’s campaign, also previously stated. :)

Anyway, I’ve decided turn my personal blog off, for the moment, to prevent the rest of the server from getting hammered. Seems like the Republicans aren’t the only types who believe in censorship. :/

Thomas Leavitt

If I were the devil

I don’t know why but my political/personal inbound emails run 4 out of 5 right wing, and often it’s on its third or fourth generation of forwards. Half of these emails have longer headers than text. While I’ve stopped trying to respond to those where I just don’t recognize any names (which is most because what few right wing friends and family I have remaining have long since learned I “REPLY ALL” my responses and dropped me from their email lists) in yesterday emails I received a special request from mom. Mom , ever the diplomat, has so far avoided being removed from family and friends GOP_chain ebombs but is finding it harder to ignore them. So mom, knowing my penchant for not keeping my mouth closed (sure, now it’s handy . . .), forwarded me the latest and asks if I can help her formulate a response. Half hour later and I’ve whipped out a quick Fisking of a perennial favorite of Death Pools around the country; Paul Harvey. I sent it back and didn’t give it any thought until I got word today that it’s being printed up and passed around.

Our most gracious host, Dave, sent me a link months ago to guest post and told me “Whenever inspiration strikes . . .”

So, in the spirit of “It would be a shame to waste a good Fisking” I present for my opening post:

Paul Harvey, If I Were the Devil, Fisked

If I were the devil, I would gain control of the most powerful

nation in the world; I would delude their minds into thinking that they

had come from man’s effort, instead of God’s blessings;

This kind of simplistic logic suggests that man is the opposite of God, and the devil is the opposite of God, so therefore man (or in this case man’s effort) is equal to the devil. If I were the devil I’m quite sure I would appreciate this kind of logic. I’m not sure who else would though. Of course there are many that would argue the devil has already gained “control of the most powerful nation in the world” through the person of George Bush, but I doubt that’s what Paul had in mind with this statement.

I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people,

instead of the other way around;

If you were the devil what would you think of invading and occupying, at a cost of tens of thousands of innocent lives, a nation that was not a threat to the US, was not involved in recent attacks against our country and had in fact been a subsidized client state of the US only a decade ago? If I were the devil I’d love the oil and use our troops to steal it.

I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their

state revenue;

If I were the devil I would cut taxes (especially on those most able to afford them) until entire states bordered on bankruptcy. Then I’d cut vital public services including infrastructure, transportation, education, school nutrition programs (as the devil this would be one of my favorite cuts), police and fire protection. Can’t very well ensue social chaos without cutting education, Police and fire.

I would convince people that character is not an issue when it

comes to leadership;

Considering the inexplicable level of support for Bush I think the devil has already won this one.

I would make it legal to kill unborn babies;

If I were the devil I would make it mandatory to torture semantics.

I would make it socially acceptable to take one’s own life, and

invent machines to make it convenient;

If I were the devil I would make it socially acceptable to prolong a person’s un-treatable suffering and agony as long as possible, and invent machines to make it convenient.

I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that the life

of animals are valued more than human beings;

See both “mandatory to torture semantics” from above and “invading and occupying.”

I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of

His name was grounds for a lawsuit;

If I was the devil I would insist that God be taught in the schools. Outside of the fact that I, the devil, couldn’t exist without God, nothing brings out the absolute worst in people like instilling the belief that their God is the only correct God (as the devil I’m telling both sides this one, hee hee hee). Now couple this with cuts to education and law enforcement and I’d be one very happy devil.

I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the

young, and I would get sports heroes to advertise them;

Not that Jesus was a sports hero, but he did do a ton to help promote wine. If I were the devil I’d take credit for tobacco though.

I would get control of the media, so that every night I could

pollute the mind of every family member with my agenda;

If I were the devil I’d want royalties from Fox.

I would attack the family, the backbone of any nation.

Does this explain why the holiest are forbidden to marry and have families? If I were the devil it might make sense, but as it is it doesn’t.

I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If

the family crumbles, so does the nation;

If I were the devil I’d forbid divorce. Misery loves company and oh how much company I’d have were that the case.

I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies

on canvas and movie screens, and call it art;

If I were the devil I would compel people to repress their most depraved fantasies and then, when they inevitably act out on them behind the scenes, have them repeatedly shuttled to new parishes to start over again (and again, and again), and call it rehabilitation. Or denial. The devil doesn’t know the difference anyway.

I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and

that their lifestyles should be accepted;

If I were the devil I’d want to convince the world to be as intolerant as possible of others who are different. If I were the devil I’d be agreeing with what Paul Harvey really thinks on this one.

I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined

by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agenda as

politically correct;

If I were the devil I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves exclusive spokesmen for God’s word and refer to their agenda as Divine. Of course others may refer to it as an inquisition . . . or a Crusade.

I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of

date, and the Bible is for the naive;

If I were the devil I would persuade people that the Bible is just as relevant today as it was when it was written 2,000 years ago. Especially Leviticus. He’d be my favorite. Death for mixing your fibers, death for working on Sunday, death for talking back to your parents, tips on selling your daughters into slavery . . . what’s a devil not to like? Anyone who doesn’t believe that everything Leviticus espouses is the path to a richer, more fulfilling life is naive.

I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that

prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are

optional;

If I were the devil I would close the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer, faithfulness and obedience, to the exclusion of all other concerns, are the only things that matter. Much easier to work my magic* without free will messing things up.

* An example: “Look, over there! The devil is in that man. KILL HIM! Ohh now look over THERE! Another possessed by the devil. You must, for the sake of your saftey, kill them too.” It’s almost too easy.

Hmmm… I guess if I were the devil, I’d leave things pretty

much the way they are. Good day.

Hmmm . . . I guess if I were the devil I’d agree things are going my way, but not for the reasons Paul Harvey thinks.

Rewriting History

I wrote about this the other day, but today Tony Blankley’s column is out. Here’s what he says:

“But it is that third point about failing to catch Bin Laden where Clinton probably, and correctly, realizes he is historically most vulnerable. Whether or not Clinton tried as hard as he could, the cruel, objective fact of history is that Bin Laden and his al Qaeda emerged on Clinton’s watch. He failed to nip it in the bud, and it has now blossomed into a malignant worldwide danger. “

Notice how he says “on Clinton’s watch?” Actually, bin Laden and al-Queda “emerged” on Reagan and Bush I’s watch — and were funded and trained by them.

Speaking of things happening on someone’s “watch,” what happened on George W Bush’s watch?

Clinton the Most Progressive

Thomas posted some Green propaganda so I’ll just ask one question. Can you name an issue where Clinton was not the most Progressive president we’ve had since FDR?

Update - Unless you have an absolutely perfect candidate, who agrees with every single position you have, 100% of the time, then aren’t you voting for the “lesser evil” every time you vote, no matter who you vote for? In other words, “lesser evil” is just meaningless words, designed to sound good but actually confusing the real issues. You have to compromise, even if you vote for yourself.

Nader’s selection of Peter Camejo as VP

Nader has picked Peter Camejo, Mr. Avocado himself (an avocado is Green on the inside, and Green on the outside), as his running mate/VP. For those of you not in the know, Camejo ran as the Green Party of California’s candidate for Governor in 2000 and 2002, earning respectable totals in both campaigns (over 5% in the 2000 race, and 200,000+ votes in both races). This is a political masterstroke (at least, if you look at it from the perspective of a Nader campaign supporter):

1. It (negatively) seals the fate of an independent Green Party candidacy by David Cobb. Faced with the double-whammy of a Nader/Camejo ticket, each of which draws upon a significant and not necessarily overlapping segment of the Green voter/activist population, it seems inconceivable that a Cobb campaign could gain any traction at all, even within the confines of the Green Party itself. Having Camejo running as the “Green” half of a Nader/Green “fusion” ticket* pretty much renders Cobbs’ “Safe States” campaign pointless, and narrows even further a base already considerably shrunken by defections to the Nader campaign. A Cobb campaign would be a “rump” campaign in the most classic sense of the word, and I think most activists within the Green Party will recognize that and vote accordingly.

2. It renders whatever decision the Green Party makes in Milwaukee about endorsing Nader more or less irrelevant – with Camejo having delivered a big chunk of the Green grassroots to the Nader camp, all the convention can do is make it more or less difficult for Nader to obtain a few ballot lines. What will the convention decide? Who knows… my sense is that the momentum for a Nader endorsement is building, but at the same time, if Camejo’s decision has finally put the last nail in the idea of an independent Green candidacy via David Cobb, as I think it has, it may very well result in a substantial number of the party’s delegates opting to sit this one out, rather than putting the Green Party in the position of supporting and being a proxy for a candidate (or a pair of candidates) over which it has no control whatsoever.

Why Camejo?

1. There was a very strong “Draft Camejo” movement in the Green Party, folks who’ve been seeking to ensure that an authentically Green voice is heard this November, one that the media will have a hard time silencing. Camejo, even as the VP of a Nader ticket, fits that bill very well, and I think most of the Draft Camejo types will very willingly come on over to a Nader/Camejo ticket, regardless of whether the Green Party officially endorses it.

2. Camejo’s always been a bit of a wildcard, willing to go his own way, regardless of whether or not the party establishment has bothered to line itself up behind him or not (such as when he plunged into the race for Governor of California during the recall election), and this fits. It also, as I point out above, pretty much seals off any potential for a strong campaign by a separate Green Party nominee.

* See: The Challenge of 2004: GREEN PARTY UNITY (from Peter Camejo) and Robert Caldwell’s essay, For a Green-Nader Candidacy.

What do I think, personally? I don’t know. I like Camejo, and I like Nader, but I’d like them both more if they were the official nominees of the Green Party itself, rather than independents making an end run around party process. I’m a Green, first, not a Naderite or an “independent progressive”. I believe that the most effective way to work for the long term transformation of American politics (and thus the preservation of life on this planet) is build the Green Party into a credible and effective alternative to the politics of the status quo, as represented by the duopoly. I don’t see how an independent campaign by Nader and Camejo does this, and so I find it hard to muster much enthusiasm for it. That said, Kerry’s done nothing to earn my vote as of yet, and quite a bit to lose it… under normal circumstances; but we’re not in normal times, and Bush strikes me as incredibly dangerous (or rather, those around him). Enough so, that I’m willing to concede that I might hold my nose in November and cast a vote for him, if things look close in California.

Put it another way: you’re not likely to see me pounding the pavement, or writing a check, or holding a fundraiser, or manning a phone, for any candidate for President of the U.S. this fall. Ray Glock-Gruenich (Green) for Congress in the 17th District, anyone? :)