10 February 2005

In search of a typical, reasonable supporter of Mr. Bush

Stumbled across this and thought I'd reproduce and share these questions, as I answer them myself, and pose them for the conservative readership here (though anyone of any political persuasion can feel free to chime in with their own feedback).

1. What's the most important problem facing America?

Economic injustice, record incarceration rates, declining quality health care availability, threat of terrorism, uncontrolled immigration, globalization. Oh, sorry, I was only supposed to pick one.

2. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states (I abridge the text to concentrate attention on the relevant portions; be assured that I have not altered the meaning): "No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." Does not the detention of 'enemy combatants' at Guantanamo violate the Fifth Amendment? Does this not alarm you?

Yes, it is alarming.

3. Is "separation of church and state" an essential component of American government?

Yes, even as a Christian, I believe strongly in separation of church and state, and our founding fathers, despite the barrage of propaganda, also were adamant about keeping the state out of the religous domain and vice versa.

4. In his speech to the nation justifying the upcoming invasion of Iraq, President Bush offered two rationales: the "imminent danger" arising from Saddam's possession of WMD, and his ties to Al Qaeda. We now know that neither of these justifications was true. Mr. Bush erred; should not an error of such import and magnitude disqualified him for a second term in the eyes of any reasonable voter?


5. It has been established beyond all doubt that the Bush administration deliberately misled Congress as to the true cost of its health care bill, even to the point of suppressing correct information about the cost. If Mr. Clinton's lies about his sexual activities merited impeachment, should not have Mr. Bush's lies on this matter, involving billions of dollars, be even more deserving of impeachment?

Not certain that this could be categorized as a "lie", but it is true that the Bush administation has wrapped just about all of its initiatives in an Orwellian cloak.

6. Does Mr. Bush's obvious predilection for favoring the rich and powerful, both in terms of tax benefits and easing of legal constraints on corporations, bother you?

Yes, and it's been a sinister scam on a serious scale that has most of the public hoodwinked into thinking that these effects help, rather than hinder, John Q. Worker.

7. Do the 9/11 attacks justify a weakening of Constitutional protections for individuals?

Benjamin Franklin summarized it best: "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"

8. Mr. Bush has wiped out the largest budget surplus in history and replaced it with a gigantic deficit. Does this bother you? Is it serious or important?

Bush's neoconservative apologists will argue that deficit had to do less with Bush than with other macro economic factors (and of course, blame Clinton) and the "war on terror". And some of the same folks who clacked away about deficit spending now are downplaying any potential ill effects of massive deficit spending. Deficits are not evil up to a certain point -- credit is a powerful enabling mechanism that empowers entities to envision enourmous feats, but after a certain level of indebtedness, it becomes a significant material drain, and the costs will be borne by working folks.

9. Mr. Bush has alienated most of the world; the sympathy and good will generated by 9/11 has been replaced by distrust and ill will. Is this a significant mistake?

Here, I really don't care what the rest of the world thinks of the U.S..

10. Mr. Bush promised to be a "uniter, not a divider", yet under his administration America has become more polarized than at any time in our history. Does this bother you?

I can't lay this at the feet of Mr. Bush -- it's more due to the massive investment conservative think tanks and media empires have made in pounding their doctrine into the head of every American -- that any public subsidy is wrong, unless of course, it's a commercial/corporate recipient. Some embrace this, others vehemently reject it.

11. If you agree that many of the above points represent mistakes on Mr. Bush's part, what positive factors in Mr. Bush's policies outweigh these negative factors?

Outside of some minor deals and the initial decision to invade Afghanistan (which they subsequently mismanaged), I can't think of anything this adminstration has done that I am in agreement with. They value dollars over people, war over peace, the greedy over the needy, and wish for us to embrace a faith based paradigm instead of a reality based world. Cleverly, they wrap their missives in a benevolent Judeo-Christian fraudulent cover. Is Mr. Bush evil incarnated? No, I believe he believes he is doing right, but he's sold by his packagers as a white knight, when he's doing the bidding of nefarious forces. It can be argued that all politicians are predisposed to serve those holding the most loot, but this clan has taken that notion to new depths, on a institutional and technological level nprecedented.

8 February 2005

Goldberg v. Cole

University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole and conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg exchange some heated words on Iraq, with the good professor simply dusting the inept charlatan son of Lucianne.
But Goldberg is just a dime a dozen pundit. Cranky rich people hire sharp-tongued and relatively uninformed young people all the time and put them on the mass media to badmouth the poor, spread bigotry, exalt mindless militarism, promote anti-intellectualism, and ensure generally that rightwing views come to predominate even among people who are harmed by such policies. One of their jobs is to marginalize progressives by smearing them as unreliable.

The thing that really annoyed me about Goldberg's sniping was it reminded me of how our country got into this mess in Iraq. It was because a lot of ignorant but very powerful and visible people told the American people things that were not true. In some instances I believe that they lied. In other instances, they were simply too ignorant of the facts to know when an argument put forward about, say, Iraq, was ridiculous. For instance, it was constantly said that Iraqis were "secular." This allegation ignored four decades of radical Shiite organizing and revolutionary activity by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the al-Dawa Party, and others, as well as the influence on Iraqis of the Khomeini revolution and of the 1991 Saddam crackdown on Shiites. They were never contradicted when they said this on television, though.

And, of course, there was all that hype about Iraq being 2-4 years from having a nuclear weapon, which was either a Big Lie or a Dr. Strangelove fantasy. Khidir Hamza appears to have been paid by someone (and got big royalties from the American Enterprise Institute) to spin a web of complete lies about the Iraqi (non-existent by then) nuclear program. Goldberg in particular pushed that line, with his North Korea comparison, on a number of occasions. His current excuse is that other people were wrong, too. D'oh.