Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Afterthoughts by Dan Kelley

I wrote this in a rush so I could get it out before the election. While the writing was done in haste the reasoning behind it wasn't. Hopefully the inevitable grammatical errors, jumbled structure and inelegant phrasing will be outweighed by the cogency of the underlying arguments. Please forward it people who might get something out of it. Preferably cut and paste and add the names again so it doesn't come up as a forward.


The Illusion of Choice

By

Daniel Kelley


By now you have received countless messages from the Democratic and Republican Parties and their surrogates. The bulk being lies and distortions meant to engender hate - not thought. Clearly, as the two sides work their faithful into a frenzy of personal animosity for the other candidate, the important issues of life and death have been artfully obscured.

And they must be. Otherwise, informed citizens would never allow themselves into being duped into Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee choices as they now are.

Don't be victimized again by candidates selected by the corporate-owned parties. Please consider the following depressing realities before you vote. Bush and Kerry:

-are staunchly for the war on Iraq. Both favor killing any Iraqis who oppose the rape of their country. To be fair, Kerry believes somehow that group rape is morally preferable to the selfish, unilateral rape espoused by Bush.

- have utter contempt for international law. While Democrats may fantasize that they are back an anti-war candidate that is hardly the case when Kerry continually tells us that we can “win” the war in Iraq.

-support virtually every bit of military spending proposed.

-invariably favor every significant aspect of the “free trade” agenda.

-strongly support the IMF and World Bank and the structural adjustment programs which they impose.

-favor the Israeli government under all circumstances.

-favor pouring more gasoline on the fire of Colombia's civil war and continuing the Cuban embargo.

-favor attempting to oust populist leaders in Latin America.

-favor a for-profit health system.

-favor expanding the prison industrial complex.

-favor the war on drugs (Kerry actually wants to expand it).

-favor the effective repeal of much of the bill of rights including the 1st, 4th, and 5th amendments.

-favor interfering in the elections of other countries for the benefit of American corporations, vis-Ã -vis the National Endowment for Democracy (sic) and the International Republican Institute.

-This list could go on and on but most importantly both will likely attempt to start wars in Iran and/or Syria if the domestic political situation looks at all amenable.

Frighteningly, the likelihood that Kerry would be able to get away with such a move is far, far greater. The reasons for this have to do with what Ralph Nader has called “the collapse of the left.” The most blatant aspect of this collapse is the overwhelming number of important “progressive” activists deliberately deceiving people into believing that a vote for John Kerry is a vote against the war. It will be far easier for a supposed “anti-war” president like Kerry to march his country to war than it would be for Bush who has exhausted his credibility here and abroad.


Iraq


A recent encounter with Michael Moore at Kent State University demonstrates the current willful ignorance of the anti-war movement. Moore, a Nader supporter in 2000, went to great lengths to smear Nader to the delirious applause of a crowd which was certainly in opposition to “Bush's War.” At the Moore speech I held up a sign reading; “A vote for Kerry is a vote for the war on Iraq” along with a Nader sign. Moore began ridiculing a Nader supporter in the audience saying “then there's the one Nader supporter.” I pointed out to him that there was more of us present. He looked at me, saw my sign and said with great contempt: “Oh that's cute.” No arguments. No discussion. Just ridicule and evasion.

I managed to point out that it wasn't very cute for the Iraqi children who were torn apart as a result of the war that Kerry voted for and supported all along. I reminded the crowd that Kerry had lied to the American people about Iraq in a manner just as blatant as that of George W. Bush. Kerry told us that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, that they had usable chemical and biological weapons, that they wouldn't allow inspectors into weapons sites and that they had kicked out weapons inspectors in 1998. It was clear at the time that he made them that all four statements were outright lies.

Had I been able to keep hollering without getting booted, I would have noted the fallacy of Kerry's statement that the President had reversed course and rushed to war after his admonitions. No such course reversal ever took place. Everyone in the government knew that the President was marching to war. All one need do is to examine how carefully the Bush administration managed the charade of a disarmament process. This is a crucial point. Before the war, the Bush Administration needed to create the impression that it was trying to avoid bloodshed with Iraq while at the same time continuing its inexorable march. It did so by simply stating over and over that it wished to avoid war while doing everything possible to publicly convey to Iraq that it was committed to going to war. The only way they were able to get away with this nonsense is because the Democrats didn't call them on it. If the Democrats had not been complicit in the pre-war propaganda, the utterly absurd contention by Bush that war was the “last alternative” would never hold water at this time. This treasonous silence by the other corporate party is the chief reason Bush has been able to get away with the war.

It is true that the administration did not state that war with Iraq was inevitable. But that is exactly the message we clearly communicated to Iraq. The Bush Administration simply made the most strenuous demands possible. It explicitly refrained from telling Iraq that if it complied with U.S. demands it would not be invaded. And the demands never stopped coming. When Iraq complied with the demand to allow inspectors to return with unfettered access, the Bush Administration simply added more demands and again explicitly refused to say that the US would not invade if Iraq complied. In essence, the U.S. was saying “Throw down your gun so I can shoot you.” It was also saying to North Korea and Iran to pursue nuclear weapons because we treat people with the real weapon of mass destruction quite differently than the strawmen we erect.

Examine the logic of yelling “throw down your gun” when you have drawn your gun on someone and clearly intend to shoot. Clearly, such a statement is not yelled if you suspect the individual actually has a lethal weapon because you are provoking them to shoot in self-defense. Rather, you say it to deceive onlookers into believing that when you murder your target, you did so in self-defense. If the onlookers are extremely stupid or totally oblivious, it might work. But it doesn't when someone points out the ploy.

The Democrats had far more than ample opportunity to point out the trick but, instead, helped the Bush Administration frame Iraq. The Democrats confirmed the core Republican lies that had allowed the murderer to kill his target.

“Yes, the victim did have a gun. I knew it for a fact. He was planning to kill me and had provided a gun and ammo to an enemy of mine who then shot my friend. Then, despite my exhortations he would not throw the gun down. If he dropped his weapon, I would not have had to fire.”

Kerry, however, has finessed the murder in the following way:

“I agree with everything the shooter said about his victim's behavior but he did not shoot the victim in the right way. Had he lined up a group of neighbors rather than just dragging his reluctant brother and cousin behind him, we would not be suffering the problems we now face.”

As the absurd process of deliberately maximizing Iraq's disincentive to cooperate with the inspectors continued, the Bush Administration began fraudulently claiming Iraq was not complying with inspections when it knew it was. To this day, Administration officials contend that we had to go to war because Saddam was in violation of U.N. resolutions when, in fact, the absence of WMDs makes a prima facia case to the contrary. It was clear in the months leading to the war that the “evidence” the Bush administration presented was absurdly weak just as every piece of evidence they provided regarding Iraq's WMD was obviously flawed.


A Disloyal Opposition

Why did so few people recognize the lies or - at the very least - the massive problems in intelligence when Hans Blix pointed out that all the intelligence the U.S. was providing was “garbage?” How is it so few realized the fraudulence of the intelligence before the war when the inspectors were telling CBS News that the intelligence the US provided was “garbage, after garbage. after garbage.” The reason is again clear, the putative opposition to the war (the Democrats) were, in fact, collaborators.

In the midst of the U.S. peddling their best, flawed information, the Bush administration went on the talk show circuit claiming that they were giving Blix good information. But time was growing short and as the false evidence was unraveling, the Bush administration needed to ratchet up the rhetoric. The Democrats proved willing accomplices.

Leading Democrats like Tom Daschle made it appear that the Bush Administration's case for war was unassailable. The time to truly make their case was then and they failed to do so. Even Dems who were ostensibly opposed to the war largely fell into line.

An opposition party of even marginal effectiveness would almost certainly have stopped the war. Imagine if the Democrats had insisted that Dick Cheney and others testify under oath to their certain knowledge that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program and the specific intelligence on where the weapons were? Instead, as in the case of Kerry's lies about Iraq's nonexistent WMD, the Democrats choose to stoke the fire of war rather than opposing it. In doing so they allowed the war to happen and also destroyed their party's ability to forcefully rebut Republican lies during the presidential campaign. After all, they choose to further the obvious lies rather than to fight them - what they believed was - short term political gain. But those congressional elections which Gephart insisted would bring the House back to the Democrats, never materialized and they had given up their best arguments for the presidential campaign.

Had the Senate Democrats made a principled stand, the war would likely not have happened. But if it had, they would now be landsliding Bush and the Republicans because the American people would not have be making decision on the prudent of the war based extensive, carefully crafted framework of fabrications. Such an inept performance could only be pulled off with people like John Kerry, Al Gore and Hilary Clinton as the putative opposition. Senate Democrats only masqueraded as an opposing party. At the most critical time in modern history they simply laid down for their corporate masters as they do at any truly critical moment.

Michael Moore, however, refused to even address that sorry record of collaboration. I rhetorically asked Moore why Kerry had not only voted for the war but blatantly lied to us about Iraq. Moore's response was the predictable ad hominem attack on Nader supporters. He refused to even discuss Kerry's stance on Iraq. The applause was predictably thunderous and almost unanimous.

The audience reaction was even more disgusting in light of Moore's refusal to debate Nader on the question: “For whom should the antiwar movement vote?” That Moore is superficial and disingenuous whore has been clear to me for years but the refusal of the audience to demand any answers was what mattered. While Progressives love to deride Republicans in light of the University of Maryland study that shows the flawed GOP world view of U.S. popularity, Iraq's WMDs and Saddam connections to 9/11, they should not be so smug. Progressives also live in an Alice In the Looking Glass world where John Kerry is an anti-war candidate despite the facts.

Later, Moore would note that W had sent over 1,000 men to their death. Apparently, Iraqis don't count as people. This racist, insensitivity brought no apparent negative reaction from the crown - just the opposite in fact. And this is the group of people who are supposed to be the activists against the wars!

The reality that the anti-war movement bought into the “Anyone But Bush” movement was clear at the Democratic convention. While tens or hundreds of thousands of people turned out for meaningless “anti-war” demonstrations at the Republican Convention, about 150 to 200 people showed up to protest the war at the Democratic Convention despite the fact that a big turnout could have had a real impact.


Self-Deception as a Progressive Virtue

While the self-deception of Progressives is especially blatant on the issue of the war, it is even more manifest in several other areas. When it comes to trade, the Kerry record is even worse. As stated at the beginning, Kerry has invariably favored every free trade initiative. The only action he offers believers in fair trade (who comprise well over ¾ of the US population) is overturning a tax break for outsourcing. A move that even his chief economic adviser admits is of minimal importance in motivating corporations to outsource. But this modest proposal has still had labor unions lining up to endorse an unrepentant free trader. Such behavior would be unbelievable were it not so customary.

Similarly a Kerry administration could and would pursue the same free trade agenda but far more effectively than a second Bush Administration. This would arguably not be the case were it not for “the collapse of the left” but it needs to be conceded that the left has in fact surrendered unconditionally.

Kerry is more dangerous than Bush. While Kerry's aims are almost precisely convergent with those of the Bush Administration, Kerry would clearly face fewer challenges in pursuing empire.

But Kerry is certainly much better on domestic policy contend his backers. This assertion is made despite the failings of his record and platform. Certainly domestic policy differences between candidates stand in more stark contrast. However, the distinctions fade when put in a larger economic and electoral context.

Many of the issues on which the candidates are ostensibly different are only for show. On the rare occasions that people discover that the parties are essentially the same, abortion is pulled out as the trump card. Republicans are against all abortions and Democrats are for abortion on demand we are told. Of course, neither statement is accurate as we will examine later in this article.

Having examining in depth Kerry's stances towards the war on Iraq it is should be clear above all else that the Democrats strategy of collaboration was not only ethically repugnant but - predictably - a political mistake. Certainly, 9/11 made a war on Iraq a viable possibility when the Administration conflated Al Quaeda and Saddam. Before then, there was no feasible possibility of starting a war as the Clinton Administration found in early 1998 when it attempted to do so (at the behest of Kerry amongst others it should be noted.) When the war was proposed in earnest after 9/11, the Democrats (by and large) were supportive despite the fact that they would be offered an obvious and utterly enormous chance to capitalize on the inevitable problems if they positioned themselves properly.

On final point should be made about Iraq. Some might argue that even though Kerry and the Dems collaborated in deceiving the public into believing a was necessary had Kerry or Gore been president neither of them would have started the war. This is flatly contradicted by the reality of what happened in early 1998 when the Clinton Administration began a public campaign to bludgeon the public into believing a war on Iraq was necessary. Two of the chief proponents of this move were Al Gore and John Kerry. Of course at that time 9/11 had not happen and as the Clinton Administration soon found out the public simply would not accept such a war.



Other Foreign Policy Issues

Commentators typically contend that Kerry is more in favor of multilateralism and that he and has more respect for international institutions. That such talk is taken seriously is indicative of the bankruptcy of political discourse. Such assertions are almost invariably made absent any specifics to back up the charges, and with good cause; if one were to run down the list of international issues in which Kerry would presumptively demonstrate his predilection for multilateralism one would quickly find that his stated and (thus far) pursued policy proscription are the almost indistinguishable from those of the Bush Administration.

On Israel/Palestine, Kerry is clearly, if marginally, worse than Bush. He has correctly boasted of always supporting anything labeled pro-Israel by AIPAC and he has at various times made statements absurdly claiming that Israeli and American interests are almost identical. With Kerry the extremely meager attempts to pressure the Jewish state into a more accommodating position vis-Ã -vis the indigenous population (the Palestinians) are likely to end.

It is also worth noting Kerry's positions towards the Middle East irrespective of his stance on Israel/Palestine and Iraq is, if anything, worse than Bush's. A while back the Kerry campaign issued one of it policy statements intended for an elite audience that indicated that a Kerry administration would emphasize combating terrorism over promoting Democracy. A translation into plain English would read; Those infrequent PR motivated attempts the Bush Administration made at promoting democracy in the Middle East will end. Rather, we will throw all our support behind entrenching dictatorships in the region.

What perceptive observers actually mean when they say that Kerry is more oriented towards multilateralism is that Kerry would garner more support from other significant powers because,

his personality will not galvanize opposition to US policy on the part of First World populations to the extent Bush's has. Thus, he will make it easier for First World governments to participate in the U.S. led exploitation of the rest of the world and
that Kerry will garner additional international support by cutting in other significant powers for part of the proceeds when we rape other countries - in reality this is Kerry's only real critique of Bush's stance on Iraq

If these propositions are true, they argue strongly against facilitating Kerry's rise

to the presidency if you are against U.S. imperialism. If you are for it, then you want Kerry because he might be able to carry it forward in a more sustainable fashion than Bush. This is best illustrated by Kerry's opposition to Bush's recently stated plan on scaling back troop deployments in Europe. No possible justification for such opposition could be offered other than reinforcing U.S. domination of Western Europe and thus the continued viability of the North Atlantic alliance - the cornerstone of post World War II U.S. domination and exploitation of the rest of the world.

Colombia is another area in which Kerry should frighten all of us. Since 1998 the U.S. has vastly stepped up its strategy of militarily supporting the government and the paramilitary forces in their battle against the guerillas. The predictable effect was a vast increase in the volume of political killings (roughly a doubling from 7 a day to 14 - as I remember.) Notably the chief architect of this strategy was Rand Beers, Kerry's chief foreign policy advisor. Further still, according to the excellent NarcoNews.com website, during his service in the Bush Jr. Administration, Beers perjured himself by absurdly claiming in a civil proceeding brought by victims of U.S. aerial anti-crop biowarfare, that the FARC guerillas in Colombia were linked to Al Queda. So a Kerry administration means a deepening US involvement in and escalation of the Colombian civil war.

On Venezuela Kerry's stance is similarly atrocious. Kerry wishes to see Chavez deposed which would return the majority poor population to utter subjection. But it would insure that the oil proceeds would flow to the rich in the U.S. On Haiti he seems somewhat better than Bush in that he criticized its “theological” hatred of Aristide but that seems of marginal importance given the entrenchment of the anti-Aristide coup.

Elsewhere in Latin America (and for that matter Africa and Asia) Kerry's pro-neo-liberal, pro-IMF stance is of primary importance. The only notable difference between Bush and Kerry in this respect is that Bush would likely be force into offering more debt relief and more foreign aid given the level of opposition to him that has developed throughout the world.


Fiscal Policy

The only particularly important difference between the two candidates in terms of fiscal policy is that Kerry favors top marginal tax rates several percent higher than that enacted during the Bush Administration (I will argue later that this is perhaps the only real clear-cut difference of any real significance in the domestic arena.) The meaningfulness of this difference (which is truly significant in and of itself) will almost certainly be all but eliminated by the fact that Kerry will face Republican majorities in both the House and Senate and these majorities are only likely to grow in the mid-term election because Kerry and his people are unable to make strong, coherent arguments and can only win in the face of overwhelming failures on the part of Republicans. Big failures are not enough. Democrats need wars and record job losses and even then they only edge out Republicans.

The important thing to note in fiscal policy is that the parties have become two sides of the same coin. The Republicans cut taxes and raise spending (thus expanding the deficit) while the Dems raise taxes and cut spending in order to decrease the deficit. Predictably, the political benefits of this cycle innure to the Republicans. Thus, the cycle is perpetuated. The Dems have demonstrated no capability to overcome the logic underlying the cycle despite the fact that it should be possible. Again the reason is that the Dems effectively do everything possible to confirm the lies that support the Republican world view rather than construct an alternate conceptual framework with which public might be able to understand the issue. Briefly, for instance Dems agree that Bush “cut taxes” rather than stating that he “deferred taxes.” This, despite the fact, that every dollar of “tax cuts” he passed went straight into creating deficits that must be paid off eventually.

Monetary Policy

On monetary policy there is no apparent difference between the candidates. Both favor a management of the money supply that victimizes the poor and middle class by raising interest rates and slowing growth just as the majority of the populations starts to feel the benefits of economic growth. In Greenspan's talk this is called pre-empting “upward wage pressure.” In practice, this means since this policy was adopted a quarter century ago that the majority of the population has stagnated or lost ground while the wealthy have vastly expanded their wealth. Today, 13,400 households have the same yearly income as the bottom 96 million Americans and the top 1% has the same wealth as the the bottom 95%. The disparities in income and wealth have continued to grow over the last several decades under both Democratic and Republican administrations, although it must be conceded that the Republican exacerbate the growing chasm between rich and poor.


The Wedge Issues

Liberals like to claim that the Bush Administration is comprised of Bible- thumping theocrats. But it should be noted that Ashcroft is the exception for the administration, not the rule. There is a good chance he wouldn't be around for a second term anyway. The people who make money and war policy in the White House are almost certainly predominantly atheists (as they are in any administration).

Whatever W's eschatological beliefs it seems extremely fanciful to believe the fundamentalists affect foreign policy - just as fanciful as it is to believe that our ignorant and disinterested president really formulates policy. Certainly, the Bush Administration rhetorically does a great deal to appeal to the Christian Right but it is remarkable in the lack of substantive action the Administration has taken on its behalf. True, Bush ostensibly backs a constitutional amendment against Same-Sex Marriage - but it was DOA. Thus, his position is strictly meaningless. It signed a ban on “partial birth abortion” that it knew would be struck down by the Supreme Court. It then backed congressional moves to outlaw “partial birth abortions” knowing that federal courts would still see its failures to protect the health of the mother. Outrageously, it has provided funds to religious organizations as part of its “faith based initiates” including prisons. Kerry opposes such funding, so this might be one of the few clear cut differences.

The real concerns on so-called social issues (including the crucial issue of abortion rights) are questions of who sits on the Supreme Court. Supreme Court appointees are notoriously difficult to predict and this will be all the more true given that any administration will likely choose candidates who have taken very few public positions on controversial issues. Additionally, a second Bush Administration would be somewhat restrained in its appointments based on the need to preserve the balance on the court in favor of Roe v. Wade. Note that Bush has always noted that he does not have an abortion litmus test for judges. Wink, wink to Pro-Choicers. Pro-Life Republicans received little solace when the President raced to the aid of Pro-Choice Senator Arlen Spector in his tough primary battle against a Pro-Life Republican. The reason for the President's backing was purely power: Spector could be elected and Toomey could not and it is far more blessed to maintain power for tax cuts than to clearly fight abortion.

Finally, it should be mentioned that if Roe is overturned that decision could be quickly reversed by appointing more justices to the Supreme Court (there can be up to 15 justices on the Court.) This means that in the unlikely event that the court overturns Roe, the decision could again be reversed by the appointment of additional justices by the next president. This would be politically feasible because if Roe is overturned, tens of millions of women (and men) would be immediately turned into political activists (which would destroy the Republicans agenda as a whole). Still, the outside chance that Roe might be overturned deserves careful consideration given the great implications of such an event.

One can safely conclude that Roe is unlikely to be overturned regardless of who is elected and even if it were, it would very likely soon be reinstated. Even if it weren't, the matter would just return to the states. So the material difference would be far more limited than most would believe. In other words, the outside chance that Roe would be overturned under Bush and Kerry's advocacy of a top marginal tax rate several percent higher than Bush is almost the entirety of the substantive differences. These modest differences justifying the election of Kerry over Bush must be calculated against far greater possibility of very serious international malignancy on the part of a Kerry Administration.

Vietnam

In accessing Kerry it is worth making some assessments of his record on Vietnam. While I haven't bothered to research the issue in great depth (preferring to concentrate on Kerry's record on Iraq and other contemporary concerns), I am reasonably confident in making the following capsule assessment. Kerry was perhaps marginally against the war prior to his volunteering to go there as indicated by a speech he gave in (I believe) 1966 in which he criticized the war on prudential rather than moral grounds. Keep in mind that Kerry was the son of an elite diplomat, had attended Yale and was well into his 20's by the time he volunteered to go to war.

It stands to reason that, with this type of background, if Kerry were truly a man of good character and good judgment he should have realized that the war was unjust (not just ill considered) and should have refrained from serving and instead stayed in the U.S. to organize against the war. Admittedly, it is tough to access just how culpable Kerry should have been in realizing the injustice of the war at that time because I don't know in great enough detail what information Kerry could feasibly have accessed at the time. In any event Kerry clearly volunteered to go to war to facilitate his planned political career which speaks ill not only of his character but also his perspective and sanity.

There has been a great deal of controversy over what Kerry did while in Vietnam and I don't have space to explore it here. It is worth saying that whatever orders Kerry received his actions were clearly immoral, Counterpunch writers Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn contend that Kerry committed war crimes in the course of his swift boat service and that he was involved in ferrying assassins who were working the notorious Operation Phoenix mass-assassination program. Regardless of the orders he received, the conduct chronicled by Cockburn and St. Clair is simply horrendous and ought to disqualify anyone from ever seeking public office much less becoming president. In contrast W.'s decision to avoid spilling blood was quite obviously the more ethical decision even if it was based more on self-preservation than a willful decision to avoid killing.

Did Kerry redeem himself by subsequently speaking out against to war? I believe he did. So was Kerry's decision to very publicly oppose the war also a political calculation. Probably because most of his decisions in life were political. The really interesting and pertinent question is whether in the course of working against the war did Kerry get carried away and take actions which he knew would be detrimental to his political career but useful in ending the war. This is the most difficult question of any importance to answer about Kerry. Truthfully, I don't know for sure but Kerry certainly did not do go as far as many of his antiwar comrades who testified to committing atrocities at the Winter Soldier hearings (where he did not testify.) At maximum we can say that if Kerry's vehemence about ending the war did prompt him to take actions against his political best interests, they were momentary blips of altruism that stand in stark contrast to the rest of his public life. The bottom line is that Kerry's Vietnam era activity provides scant hope compared to the ethical accommodations of his Senate career.


Conclusion

Voting for Ralph Nader would likely have positive effects in that it could strengthen the hand of those who seek to turn the Democratic Party into a force for ordinary people rather than for the corporations. It could add to the long term viability of third party challenges, thus making the Dems more accountable to their base. If Nader gets 1% of the vote in swing states where he is on the ballot, the Democrats would likely calculate an antiwar candidate would likely garner 5% or more the vote in 2008 if a Kerry Administration remains in Iraq throughout its first term or if they continue to fail to oppose the Bush Administration's presence there.

If he gets 1/3 of 1% in the swing states where he is on the ballot, the Dems would likely conclude that they can continue to play to their corporate constituency with little worry of losing a decisive share of the progressive base even if they continue their support for the war and all their out support for militarism, the free trade agenda, etc., etc, etc.

In other words a vote for Nader is a vote to increase the possibility that there will (at some time in the future) be true, meaningful opposition to the corporate agenda. In reality given the strength of the case against corporate dominance all that is needed for such opposition to prevail is for it to gain the enormous soapbox of a major party. But the only way this has any chance whatsoever of happening is if a significant number of progressives declare that they will not simply settle for anything (as the idiotic 'Anybody but Bush' slogan indicates.) If one looks back at the primary it seemed clear beforehand that the Dems would not be dumb enough and craven enough to put a pro-war candidate but they did. In reality the choice that Kerry was the guy was made by plutocrats back in 2001 in just the same manner that W was anointed the front runner for the 2000 nomination all the way back in 1996.

How did this catastrophe of having a pro-war candidate happen? Mostly it has to do with the fact that virtually the only thing democrats cared about was winning. They were dumb enough to think nominating a pro-war candidate would help them do so. Had they thought they would lose 5% or more to an antiwar candidate in the general they never would have put up such a creep. Voting for Nader helps the build the process by which it can be made clear to the Democrats that they can't win without addressing our issues. If this were to eventually succeed in turning the Democrats into a true opposition party, victory over the Republicans would be child's play.

Monday, November 01, 2004

WHATS SCARIER THAN BUSH?

Students For Nader received this message this morning from one of our frequent contributors.

Halloween question: What's scarier than four more years of Bush?
Election Day answer: Four years of "Kerry."

"Regardless of whether Bush or Kerry wins, the occupation of Iraq will continue, our addiction to climate-wrecking fossil fuels will continue, and 45 million Americans will continue to lack health insurance," said Lisa Weltman, Green candidate for the U.S. House in Michigan's 14th District .

"Both Bush and Kerry are on the wrong side of these issues. John Kerry, if elected, will maintain the Iraq occupation, will allow more oil drilling and a new oil pipeline from Alaska, will keep corporate control over our health coverage, and will support antidemocratic international trade authorities like NAFTA and the WTO."

Greens are sending an Election Day challenge to voters who oppose the war on Iraq and the racist war on drugs, who demand real steps to curb global warming, who support single-payer national health insurance and repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, and who desire global democracy instead of global corporate power:

Vote RALPH NADER !

"The Democratic Party has stagnated and retreated from its traditional positions and constituencies, while the Republican Party has been taken over by ideological extremists like Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Rumsfeld."

Saturday, October 30, 2004

NADER TO DEMOCRATS: ITS NOT OVER

Nader to Democrats: "It's not over"
By Beverley Wang, Associated Press Writer | October 30, 2004


MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader Saturday warned Democrats to expect legal action over tactics he called "disgraceful" and "fascistic."

Stay tuned. It's not over," he said.

Democrats have tried to keep Nader off the ballot in several states, including New Hampshire. Nader called their efforts "the most disgraceful, fascistic practices in the modern history of the Democratic Party."

He said his campaign is gathering documents to prove volunteers collecting signatures for him were harassed.

"The only steps we took were to ensure that Ralph Nader was playing by the rules," said Jano Cabrera, Democratic National Committee communications director. "If he wanted to get on the ballot in these states, he had to prove that he actually gathered valid signatures in these states, and Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop are not valid signatures. These are signatures that people gathered in Ralph Nader's name."

New Hampshire's state Democratic Party tried to kick Nader off the presidential ballot by arguing that signatures submitted for him were collected through widespread fraud and deceit. Nader remained on the state's ballot.

Nader said he was disappointed in Sen. John Kerry for keeping quiet on such issues, even after the two spoke about them on the telephone.

"Sen. John Kerry, who told me 12 weeks ago he didn't know about these dirty tricks over the phone, ... he never got back to me, notwithstanding my calling him 25 times in 35 days."

Cabrera said Democrats have repeatedly reached out to Nader. DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe has spoken with Nader several times, he added.

"In each instance, we have told him we don't want him to play the role he played in 2000, namely a spoiler in the election, a role he seems determined to play," Cabrera said.

Nader called McAuliffe "the chief architect of dirty tricks incorporated."

Cabrera labeled the comment "laughable in the extreme."

"They're so stupid," Nader said. "This is why they've been losing, losing, losing to the worst of the Republicans at the local, state and national level. This is Bush's election to lose, and if Kerry wins, it's largely because Bush significantly self-destructed."

About 50 people turned up at St. Anselm College to hear Nader speak about corruption in two-party politics. Nader also called for a leaner defense budget, better infrastructure, social programs and public works programs for Americans.

Once, he criticized the group -- made up mostly of students -- for the low turnout. He told them they were less politically involved than their parents.

"We need to reassert the sovereignty of the people and take back Washington, D.C., and we're the only campaign that has a dedicated 40-year history of pressing for the subordination of corporate power to the sovereignty of people; and a government that cares more for the interests of the people than the interests of their corporate paymasters," Nader said.

Outside, members of the college's Democratic group protested Nader's appearance. One wore a George Bush mask and several held a banner reading "Thank you Ralph, Best Wishes, W."

Nader said he hadn't decided yet if he will run in 2008. He said he would consider this year's election in New Hampshire a success if he got more than the 22,000 votes he received from the state in 2000.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

THE GREAT DELUSION

The Great Delusion
Kerrycrats and the War

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN


I asked one usually radical friend of mine, now a Kerrycrat, how she
could support a fellow who pledges a "better", wider war in Iraq and
then a march on Teheran. "Oh" she said airily, "you can't believe
anything a candidate will say."

From where we sit, here at mission control, CounterPunch hq,
(currently a facility known as the Claremont Inn off Interstate 10
east of LA, where Jeffrey St Clair is watching three inches of rain
sluicing down on the San Gabriel mountains) voting for John Kerry now
is like voting for LBJ in 1964 with full precognition of what he was
going to do in Vietnam for the next four years. By all means vote for
the guy if you think your ballot will really count in keeping Ralph
Nader out of the White House, but don't do so with the notion that all
along John Kerry has been holding a secret withdrawal plan close to
his chest and that his first three months in office will see the US
Marines haul down the colors from the US embassy in Baghdad, scoop
Ambassador Negroponte off the roof and head for home.

That's not what Democrats do when they get into office. When they
settle down in the White House and put up the portraits of Teddy
Roosevelt and Harry Truman in the Oval Office, they settle down to
fight the usual good fight of all Democratic presidents, which is
battling the slur that they are wimps, and less than real men.

Like Jimmy Carter back in the 1970s, President Kerry will be well
aware that what shoe-horned him into the White House was an entirely
negative public emotion, hostility to George Bush. Just as Kerry
consistently disdained his eager and all-forgiving left supporters
before November 2, he'll redouble his public and private displays of
rejection thereafter, contemptuously wiping Michael Moore's moist
kisses from all his cheeks. The constituencies President Kerry will be
eager to placate and to satisfy will be exactly the ones he has
courted the whole of this election year: the Neocons in Washington,
and the bankers in Wall St.

You doubt this, Kerrycrats? Take a look at what realistic
right-wingers are saying. Here for example is Edward Luttwak, no fool.
Last weekend Luttwak, currently ensconced at Washington's Center for
Strategic and International Studies, had an article in Britain's
conservative Sunday Telegraph, whose editors gave his piece the
headline, "John Kerry will make his adoring anti-war groupies look
like fools".

Luttwak reckons that Kerry is credible in those pledges to Wall Street
and the bankers to cut the deficit. (So much for any hopes of any job
creation at home.) But "to support him in the hope that he would make
American military policy more doveish is absurd. All the evidence is
that he will do the exact opposite."
Luttwak rolls out his case:

"He has declared that he wants to increase the US Army by two
divisions, more than the total of Continental Europe's intervention
troops. That too is a credible promise, in part because Iraq has
exposed an acute shortage of ground forces and an excess of navy and
air force personnel. But beyond any specific policy positions, there
is Kerry, the very combative man.

"In the televised debates, when President Bush spoke of 'defeating
terrorism', Kerry invariably spoke of 'killing the terrorists'. This
was not just an electoral pose: the words accurately reflect the
character of the man. … he is a fighter, and a ferocious one. I am
quite certain that if Kerry had been president on September 11 he
would have reacted more violently than Bush, sending bombers into
Afghanistan, not just Special Forces scouts, and demanding immediate
co-operation - or else - from Saudi Arabia, not just Pakistan.
European anti-militarists have really picked the wrong guy as their
hero.

"It is true that Kerry opposed the 1991 Gulf War (as did Senator
Nunn, among other certified hawks) but he urged the use of force in
Bosnia, regretted the failure to invade Rwanda before that, approved
the Panama intervention of the first President Bush and was an
enthusiast for the 1999 Kosovo war, before voting in favor of the war
in Iraq. If Kerry is elected next month, he will certainly not act out
his apparently clear-cut opposition to the war by immediately
withdrawing US forces from Iraq - although even the Bush
Administration is pursuing a form of disengagement, striving to add to
the number of Iraqi police and National Guard as quickly as possible
rather than sending more US troops…The only difference - and here is
the greatest irony - is that Kerry would almost certainly disengage
more slowly than Bush simply as a matter of political positioning: he
is the one more vulnerable to accusations of abandoning Iraq to
Islamic fanatics, warlord-priests and Saddam loyalists.

"It is not just over Iraq that the hawkish Kerry will confound
European liberals. He has harshly criticized Bush for not being tough
enough with Iran - another irony, because it implies a preference for
unilateral action rather than the multilateral diplomacy he supposedly
espouses."

Luttwak concludes: "Unless Kerry really does ask Congress for the
money to add two Army divisions, one will need a microscope to tell
the difference in military policy if Kerry wins the election. Perhaps
The Guardian and its readers should take a close look at those
pictures of Kerry with his shotgun after last week's goose shoot:
there goes a genuine American hawk, red in tooth and policy."

Of course Kerrycrats mostly eschew any analysis of what President
Kerry might do, probably because they know that to do so would be to
open Pandora's Box. CounterPuncher Joe Paff just called me to say that
before him on his breakfast table is a begging letter from Peace
Action (the merger of Sane and The Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign).
The letter discloses that "for the first time in its 47 years" the
group is advocating the defeat of an incumbent president. Joe says
he's read the letter three times but nowhere could espy the name
Kerry. So he's writing back assuring Peace Action he's sending money
to Nader.

From Chicago Suzanne Erfurth writes: " Look what came over my
electronic transom from the local 'Peace Calendar' of the American
Friends Service Committee. In 35 years, will they be hawking
invitations to movies glorifying the torturers at Abu Ghraib in an
attempt to help defeat whoever is running against the Democrat?

Here's what the AFSC featured on its calendar: "Event: Brothers in
Arms: The Story of the Crew of Patrol Craft Fast 194 Description:
Acclaimed author and first-time filmmaker Paul Alexander (Man of the
People: The Life of John McCain) began his Vietnam war-era documentary
on John Kerry and his crewmates of the patrol boat in the Mekong Delta
long before Kerry became the Democratic presidential nominee. In the
context of a smear campaign casting doubt on Kerry's military service,
the film takes on new meaning as it uses interviews, photographs, and
archival footage to examine the bond formed by six men of diverse
backgrounds under combat conditions."

In Oregon, we hear from Michael Donnelly, Oregon Peaceworks is
supporting a war candidate, Kerry. This is the same group that back in
the Nineties possibly helped Republican Senator Mark Hatfield over the
top in a desperately close race against Democratic challenger Harry
Lonsdale. Oregon Peaceworks endorsed Hatfield, saying he'd been a
staunch antiwar senator. Today Oregon Peaceworks supports a prowar
candidate, rather than the vehemently antiwar Ralph Nader.

No deed or slur is too dirty for the Kerrycrats, in their frenzy to
have a Democrat back in the White House. In years to come the list of
liberals and leftists renouncing their support of Nader in 2000 and
urging support this time for Kerry even in safe states will, I think,
be correctly brandished as a shameful advertisement of political
hysteria and even prostitution (often enforced by big foundations
threatening to cut funding from any outfit not bending the knee to
Kerry.) Until this year I don't think I'd ever fully understood the
inner psycho-political dynamic of the cold-war liberals, eagerly
signing on to, and often leading, the witch-hunts of the late 1940s
and 1950s.

Seeing the ABB-ers and Kerrycrats in action now, I am a wiser man.

FROM BUSH TO BUSH-LITE TO BUSH TO BUSH-LITE

Double Standards: Bill Clinton and the “Anybody But Bush” Movement
by Joe Licentia
Infoshop News | http://www.infoshop.org/inews

If the democrats take power this November they will probably continue
the same policies as Bush. We know this because Clinton did basically
the same thing when he was in office. To think otherwise is to ignore
history and the democrat's records. The "Anybody but Bush" (ABB)
movement is founded on a basically irrational hatred of Bush that completely
ignores the record of the democrats the last time they were in power.
The ABB movement practices a double standard: when republicans do
something it’s wrong but when democrats do the same thing it’s okay (or
didn’t happen at all). In party politics it is always the other party’s
fault, never the system’s fault. If a democrat were in office and
implemented the same policies Bush has most of the ABBers would support him.
We know this because Clinton implemented many of the same policies
ABBers criticize Bush for yet they didn’t develop the same kind of hatred
towards Clinton they have towards Bush. Most outright supported Clinton
and the minority who didn’t support him did not develop the kind of
irrational hatred towards Clinton they have towards Bush.

There are major continuities between Clinton’s policies and Bush’s
policies, even if their rhetoric is different. These continuities also
illustrate the flaw in thinking that putting a democrat back in office
will be a big change for the better. The last time a democrat was in
office he did pretty much the same thing the current occupant is doing, so
given that the current nominee doesn't disavow Clinton there’s no
reason to think the next democrat in the White House will be much different.

Bush’s environmental record isn’t very good, but neither was Clinton’s.
During the 1992 election campaign Clinton and Gore promised to shut
down the East Liverpool incinerator, which spews toxic chemicals into the
air a quarter of a mile away from an elementary school, but once
elected they refused to do so. The Clinton administration’s enforcement of
the endangered species act was lax and he weakened it through several
means, including the “no surprises” and “safe harbors” policies. Funding
of mass transit continued to decline under his administration.

Clinton ended the ban on production and importation of PCBs, stopped
the phase out of Methyl Bromide (a toxic pesticide and ozone layer
depleter), supported the weakening of the safe drinking water act (by
allowing increased levels of arsenic and lead in drinking water), signed the
Salvage Rider law (which cut down thousands of acres of healthy
forests), signed the Panama declaration (which weakened protection for marine
mammals including dolphins and whales), supported international
distribution of Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, supported mountain top
removal strip mining, continued subsidizing the sugar industry in Florida
(which poisons the Everglades & diverts water away from wildlife that
needs it), and lowered grazing fees on public land. Clinton also
supported the World Trade Organization (WTO), which weakened or removed
environmental protections, including the weakening of the clean air act and
the removal of part of the Endangered Species act's protection of sea
turtles. In 1996 former Sierra Club President David Brower wrote,
"President Clinton has done more to harm the environment and to weaken
environmental regulations in three years than presidents Bush and Reagan did
in 12 years."

Many in the ABB movement attack Bush for reducing civil liberties
through things like the PATRIOT act. Yet, almost all democrats in congress
vote for the patriot act and Bill Clinton supported many measures that
reduced civil liberties and expanded the police state. He signed the
Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the forerunner
to the PATRIOT act. It allowed the INS to deport immigrants based on
secret evidence, made it a crime to support the lawful activities of any
group the state department labeled a “terrorist organization,” and
eliminated federal constitutional review of state death penalty cases
(making the execution of innocent people more likely). Much of the PATRIOT
act consists of things that Clinton was unable to pass during his term.

Clinton encouraged the militarization of the police, including a
program to put 100,000 more cops on the street. This lead to political
repression, seen at Seattle, and more recent actions as well as a general
increase in police brutality, such as the police torture of Abner Louima
and the 1999 murder of Amadou Diallo (who was shot 41 times by police
claiming they thought his wallet was a gun). Clinton supported Internet
censorship, signing the Communications Decency Act - which the Supreme
Court fortunately struck down on first amendment grounds. When he ran
for election in 1992 Clinton pledged to free political prisoner Leonard
Peltier, but he was still in prison when Clinton left office. The rate
of capital punishment increased under Clinton, as did the rate of
incarceration. Clinton’s expansion of the prison system, due mainly to the
“war on drugs,” caused the United States to imprison more people than
any other country in the world, both in absolute terms and as a
percentage of population. All of this was done at a time when crime rates were
decreasing.

Democrats attack Bush over the poor state of the economy, but the
economy actually started going downhill at the very end of Clinton's
administration, in late 2000. The stock bubble of the 1990s caused the
recession and it occurred while Clinton was in office. Clinton's boom was
founded on corporate fraud from the likes of Enron and WorldCom. The
corporate crime wave occurred mainly while Clinton was in office, whose
administration was just as complicit as Bush. It was just exposed while
Bush was in office. The reason most Democratic leaders haven't
attacked Bush over this is because they're just as much in bed with these
criminals as the Republicans. Most of the benefits from Clinton's boom
went to the wealthier sections of society. Economic inequality increased
under Clinton, just as it has under Bush. None of this excuses the
Bush's handling of the economy, his administration's response to the
recession it inherited from Clinton has been awful, but there are strong
continuities with the Clinton administration.

Liberals often criticize Bush over his tax cuts for the rich and
generally waging a class war in favor of the rich, but Clinton did the same
thing. Clinton reduced the capital gains tax rate in 1997. This
disproportionately benefits the rich, since a large percentage of their
income comes from capital gains but most Americans make little or nothing
from capital gains. Corporate welfare (subsidies and tax loopholes for
the rich & big business) greatly increased under Clinton's
administration, in his second term alone corporate welfare rose by over 30%.
Clinton also attacked the poor by, among other things, abolishing the Aid to
Families with Dependant Children program ("welfare reform"). The
increase in poverty under Bush is, in part, due to this class war against
the poor by Clinton, which undermined the social safety net. After
winning election in 1992 Clinton made Lawrence Summers an official in his
administration and later appointed Summers his last Treasury Secretary in
1999. Before Clinton was elected, in 1991, Summers, then chief
economist for the World Bank, issued a memo reading:

"Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE
migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed
Countries]? ... I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste
in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.
... I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are
vastly UNDER-polluted ... The problem with the arguments against all of
these proposals for more pollution in LDCs (intrinsic rights to certain
goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.)
could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every
Bank proposal for liberalization."

Some democrats attack Bush over outsourcing, but Clinton supported
NAFTA, GATT, the WTO and "free trade" generally, which caused outsourcing
to go from a trickle to the current flood. Under Clinton the budget for
the federally funded Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
increased by over 30%. OPIC gives loans and guarantees to companies
intended to encourage investment in "developing" countries, which tends to
encourage outsourcing. For example, Kimberly Clark transferred 600 jobs
to other countries as a result of this funding and Levi Strauss
transferred 100 jobs overseas for the same reason. In other words, the
government gives loans to companies, through OPIC, to ship American jobs
overseas and Clinton increased OPIC's budget from under $100 million to $3
billion. Under Clinton 14% of OPIC's loans went to Citibank. Robert
Ruben, one of Clinton's Treasury Secretaries, became director of
Citibank after leaving office. Under Bush OPIC's budget decreased to $800
million. The problem with outsourcing is not that it "steals American
jobs," as nationalists argue, but that it replaces relatively high paying
jobs with lower paying jobs, causing the rich to get richer and the
poor to get poorer. Clinton's policies were even more pro-outsourcing
than Bush's.

Bush's policies on the media tend to favor the concentration of the
media into a few large corporations. So did Clinton's policies. He
signed the 1996 Telecommunications Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright
Act, which encouraged media monopolization at least as much as Bush.

Bush has a poor record on gay rights, but Clinton's record (if not his
rhetoric) wasn't much better, as shown by his signing of the Defense of
Marriage Act and his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

On abortion, Clinton signed an order banning any American funds to pay
for abortions overseas. Bush only expanded this to include cutting off
funds to any group that offers abortion as an alternative. Under
Clinton the number of abortion providers dropped to the lowest in 30 years.
A large number of counties don’t have abortion providers. This
effectively denies many women the choice to have an abortion since if there is
no abortion provider around then you obviously can’t choose to have an
abortion.

Clinton’s foreign policy could best be described as “cruise missile
imperialism.” ABBers attack Bush for his alleged unilateral “go it alone”
foreign policy and for invading Iraq on false pretenses. Both were
largely a continuation of Clinton’s policies.

Clinton increased funding for the military. He also bombed more
countries than any other peacetime president, including Yugoslavia, Sudan,
Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. In 1998 he bombed alleged terrorist
training camps in Afghanistan (which were built by the CIA for Islamic
terrorists in the 1980s) supposedly being used by Osama Bin Laden and a
factory in Sudan Clinton alleged was producing chemical weapons for Bin
Laden. No proof that this factory was producing chemical weapons was ever
provided and it was later proven that the plant was actually a medicine
factory. This probably resulted in thousands of deaths (there was no
investigation so we can’t know the exact number) because the source of
medicine for many Sudanese was cut off.

When Bush invaded Iraq, he went to the UN and attempt to get
international support and UN approval to invade Iraq. He failed to get that
support and invaded anyway but he at least tried to get UN approval. When
Clinton attacked Yugoslavia in 1999 he didn’t even try to get UN
approval, he just bypassed it completely in favor of a unilateral assault.
Nineteen nations, all of NATO, technically signed up to the war but the
US (with UK assistance) took the lead role and did most of the
fighting, just like Bush’s “coalition” in Iraq. Most of the world was against
the war, there were even small riots in front of US embassies. Unlike
the Iraq war, the US did have the support of West European governments,
but the rest of the world was against it (some were extremely upset).
One of the administration’s slogans was “multilateral when we can,
unilateral when we must,” which is virtually the same as Bush’s policy.

In Yugoslavia the government was fighting a war with the Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA), which advocated independence for the Kosovo province of
Yugoslavia. The official pretext for Clinton’s bombing of Yugoslavia
was that it refused to sign up to the Rambouillet peace accords and was
committing “ethnic cleansing” (genocide) in Kosovo as part of the war.
These pretexts were disproved, just as the pretexts for the Iraq war
were disproved. Clinton intentionally sabotaged the peace negotiations
between the KLA and Yugoslavia, which the US mediated, by inserting the
infamous “Appendix B” into the Rambouillet accords, requiring
Yugoslavia to allow NATO “peacekeeper” troops to occupy the entire country (not
just Kosovo). Obviously, Yugoslavia is not going to agree to just let
the US take the whole country over.

During the war all sorts of allegations were thrown around about
hundreds of thousands of Kosovars being massacred, rape camps being set up,
mass graves littering the province and so on. NATO’s own
investigations, after the war was over, failed to find any proof of these
accusations. There were atrocities, as in almost every war, but nothing even
remotely approaching genocide. NATO’s bombings killed more people than
the so-called “ethnic cleansing” which allegedly motivated it. Just as
there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there was no ethnic
cleansing in Kosovo. Furthermore, the CIA later admitted that it began
supporting the KLA even before the bombing started. In other words,
Clinton intentionally instigated the whole conflict, using the KLA as a
proxy army to attack Yugoslavia and create a situation where he would
have an excuse to bomb the country.

Clinton’s policy towards Iraq set the stage for the invasion of Iraq.
In 1998 Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, which made regime
change in Iraq official US policy. Clinton waged a terrorist car bombing
campaign against Iraq, whose targets included school buses, and attempted
to overthrow the Iraqi government via coup. Madeline Albright, who
later became Clinton’s secretary of state, said in a May 1996 interview on
“60 Minutes” that she thought the death of 500,000 Iraqi children due
to sanctions on Iraq was “worth the price.”

Clinton repeatedly bombed Iraq throughout his term. In 1998 Iraq
stopped cooperating with weapons inspectors, claiming they were being used
by the US as spies. Clinton had the inspectors withdrawn and launched
Operation Desert Fox, a major bombing campaign against Iraq much larger
than his previous bombings of Iraq. Afterwards the US continued
bombing Iraq on an almost daily basis until the invasion. A later UN
investigation found that Iraq’s allegations were true; the US was using the
inspectors to spy on Iraq. Bush merely escalated Clinton’s aggression
against Iraq from a low intensity war to a full-fledged invasion, an
escalation that probably would not have been possible had Clinton not been
laying siege to Iraq for his entire term. Clinton’s bombings of Iraq
were completely unilateral, without UN approval and carried out solely
by the US and UK.

Clinton’s pretexts for all this were the same pretexts used by Bush to
invade Iraq, but with more emphasis on weapons of mass destruction and
less emphasis on Al-Qaeda. On February 4th, 1998 Clinton said, "One
way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop
weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is
our bottom line." On February 17th, 1998 he said, "If Saddam rejects
peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to
seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
program." In his defense of Operation Desert Fox on December 16th, 1998
Clinton argued that, “Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his
neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological
weapons” and that, “The best way to end that threat once and for all is with
a new Iraqi government.” On February 18th, 1998 Secretary of State
Madeline Albright said, “Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens
there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a
rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us
or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.” Clinton’s
National Security Adviser Sandy Berger warned, “he [Saddam Hussein] will use
those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since
1983.”

The state department kept Iraq on its list of states that it claims
“sponsor terrorism” every year Clinton was in office. Part of a 1998
indictment of Osama Bin Laden by Clinton’s justice department read, "Al
Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda
would not work against that government and that on particular projects,
specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work
cooperatively with the Government of Iraq." The use of the fact that Iraq
under Saddam Hussein was a dictatorship in order to demonize Iraq and
justify aggression towards it has been a staple part of US war propaganda
since the Gulf War and continued to be so under Clinton. All the lies
used by Bush to justify conquering Iraq were inherited from Clinton.

Senator Hillary Clinton voted for the invasion of Iraq and her husband
agrees with her stance. Bill Clinton supports the war; he only differs
with Bush in that he thinks it would have been better to wait a little
longer before invading. In a June 2004 interview he told Time
magazine, “I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq …
I don't believe he went in there for oil. We didn't go in there for
imperialist or financial reasons” and that “You couldn't responsibly
ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these [weapons of mass
destruction] stocks. I never really thought he'd [use them]. What I was far more
worried about was that he'd sell this stuff or give it away. … So
that's why I thought Bush did the right thing to go back. When you're the
President, and your country has just been through what we had, you want
everything to be accounted for.” He also claimed after the weapons
inspectors left Iraq in 1998:

“there were substantial quantities of botulinum and aflatoxin, as I
recall, some bioagents, I believe there were those, and VX and ricin,
chemical agents, unaccounted for. Keep in mind, that's all we ever had to
work on. We also thought there were a few missiles, some warheads, and
maybe a very limited amount of nuclear laboratory capacity.

After 9/11, let's be fair here, if you had been President, you'd think,
well, this fellow bin Laden just turned these three airplanes full of
fuel into weapons of mass destruction, right? Arguably they were
super-powerful chemical weapons. Think about it that way. So, you're sitting
there as President, you're reeling in the aftermath of this, so, yeah,
you want to go get bin Laden and do Afghanistan and all that. But you
also have to say, well, my first responsibility now is to try everything
possible to make sure that this terrorist network and other terrorist
networks cannot reach chemical and biological weapons or small amounts
of fissile material. I've got to do that.

That's why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff
unaccounted for.”

During the 2000 election Bush, unlike Gore, was against “nation
building” (taking other countries over, like in Iraq and Afghanistan) but that
was obviously thrown out the window. Gore called for increasing
military spending by $10 billion over the next ten years, while Bush only
wanted to raise it by $5 billion over the next ten years. According to
Clinton foreign policy adviser Strobe Talbott, "the Bush administration
was right to identify Iraq as a major problem. A President Gore…would
have ratcheted up the pressure, and sooner or later resorted to force."
Subjected to the same political pressures as Bush and surrounded by
advisers like Talbott, Gore would have probably reacted to events in a
manner similar to Bush. Those who argue that Gore would have been less
aggressive than Bush and would not have invaded Iraq are arguing that the
more aggressive & militaristic candidate would actually have been less
aggressive & militaristic, which is fairly absurd.

The invasion of Iraq was the outcome of geopolitics and a changed
domestic situation, not which man occupied the White House. After the gulf
war the US laid siege to Iraq with sanctions and bombings. As this
siege progressively degraded Iraq’s military an invasion became more
likely, because defeating Iraq’s military in a war became easier & cheaper
the more the siege degraded it. At the same time, attempts to overthrow
the government and install a pro-US one through terrorism, coups, etc.
continually failed. The failure of these covert attempts to topple the
government and the decreasing costs & risks of an invasion created
pressure to invade Iraq, which, given enough time, would eventually lead to
an invasion. This process was accelerated by 9-11 because it decreased
domestic opposition to wars in general and enabled the government to
decrease opposition to the invasion by scaring the public with fantasies
about how Iraq was working with Al-Qaeda to launch terrorist attacks on
the US. The same pretext of “fighting terrorism” could be used to keep
US bases in the region for as long as the government wanted. 9-11
accelerated many of these trends, but they were still basically a
continuation of Clinton’s policies.

The Bush-haters position is not founded on the policies Bush has
implemented, which they complain about. If it were they would be Clinton
haters, too. Most ABBers’ position is based primarily on a blind
irrational hatred of the other party and, partly, also a reaction to the
different media images of Clinton & Bush. When Clinton ran for office he
claimed to advocate a mildly liberal reformist platform, once in office he
abandoned it and went with a conservative program. Today, most leaders
of the Democratic Party don’t even pretend to support that mildly
populist reformism Clinton espoused in 1992. To think that the next
democratic administration will be any different is asinine. Clinton’s
administration gives us an example of what we can expect if the democrats take
power this November: more of the same.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

200 Billion Dollars Can Go Far These Days

So far, roughly 150 billion dollars have been spent on the Iraq War, with a lot more to be spent this year. That averages out to about 500 dollars per American Citizen. While most citizens did not receive as much in tax cuts, they have had 500 dollars each looted from them to spend on a war with a nation that was never a threat to us. Each citizen, you could say, is owed 500 dollars by the Bush Administration.

John Kerry, however, likes this trend. He has indicated he is willing to spend as much as 200 billion dollars next year to continue the war in Iraq. As college students across the nation are flocking to vote for him and his plans to steal their money, let's consider what they are losing.

College Education. According to Costofwar.com, the amount of money spent in Iraq so far could have given 7 million students free college tuition for four years. George Bush and John Kerry have never worried about college tuition in their lives, and they don't intend to start worrying about it in the White House.

In Ohio, where college tuition raises are becoming one of the worst in the country, the same money we spent for the Iraq war could have sent a quarter of a million Ohio Students to college.


Housing.
Students who pay taxes in New York, but who find themselves strugging to find housing, will be dissapointed to know that what they paid for the Iraq War could have been used to pay for 119,419 New York Housing Units. Again, George Bush and John Kerry have never worried where they will find money for rent. They won't worry about it after the election either--- the corporations already have it covered.

The United States takes up 48% of the world military budget. Our closest second is Japan, which spends 5%. In contrast, we provide the least of any Western Country on health care or college education.

On Tuesday, millions of students will vote for John Kerry because he said he is for change. But he has never mentioned the inflated military budget or it's connection to diminishing college resources. Many students will vote for George Bush because he told them he will protect them from terrorism. How he would waste our money while doing so he forgot to say.

But many students will vote for or write-in a candidate who is for change. Many students who want to see the military budget replaced with college tuition credits will vote their conscience. They will vote for Ralph Nader.

Monday, October 25, 2004

ELECTION 2004 QUIZ

1. Which Candidate Believes We Must Win In Iraq before We Can Exit Iraq?
A. George Bush.
B. John Kerry.
C. All of the Above.

2. Which candidate has define what is meant by "victory" in reference to Iraq?
A. George Bush.
B. John Kerry.
C. None of the Above.

3. Which candidates have supported NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND?
A. George Bush.
B. John Kerry.
C. All of the Above.

4. Which candidate has received large contributions from Citicorp, a major issuer of Student Loans.
A. George Bush.
B. John Kerry.
C. All of the Above.

5. Which Candidate Is Opposed to the USA PATRIOT ACT?
A. George Bush.
B. John Kerry.
C. Ralph Nader.
D. B and C.

6. Which candidates have endorsed the war on drugs?
A. George Bush.
B. John Kerry.
C. All of the Above.

7. Which candidate wants the minimum wage to have at least as much purchasing power as it did in 1968?
A. George Bush.
B. John Kerry.
C. None of the Above.

8. Which candidate wants to give at least 99% of corporations a tax break?
A. George Bush.
B. John Kerry.
C. All of the Above.

9. Which party sued to remove Nader from the Ohio Ballot, and what party was the lawfirm they used?
A. Democrats used a Democratic Lawfirm.
B. Republicans used an Independant Lawfirm.
C. Democrats used a Republican Lawfirm.
D. Ohioans will be free to vote for their preferred candidate in Ohio.

10. Which two candidates belong to the same elitist secret society?
A. David Cobb and Walt Brown.
B. Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo.
C. George Bush and John Kerry.
D. George Bush and Al Sharpton.

ANSWERS
1. C. All of the Above. Both Bush and Kerry refuse to discuss an exit strategy until we have won the war in Iraq. As John Kerry summed up in the first debate, "I'm talking about winning, not leaving."

2. C. None of the Above. Appaently Bush and Kerry expect the Iraqis to wave a white flag when we have won. Otherwise, their definition of victory does not exist. If Iraq still is not stable in 100 years, will American troops still be dying there?

3. C. All of the Above. John Kerry voted on Bush's proposed NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND. Neither have suggested how to fund it or adressed the problems created by it, such as over-testing and the lack of civic education.

4. C. All of the Above. John Kerry immediately scratched his plan to provide free college once Citicorp was in his top five contributors column. This makes Kerry a paradox: Most politicians wait until AFTER election to break promises.

5. C. Ralph Nader. John Kerry and George Bush both endorse the Patriot Act. Bush has spoken very highly of it and John Ashcroft's use of it to invade privacy. John Kerry, who along with every other Democrat in the Senate (except Feingold), voted for the law and now says we must "keep 95% while making the other 5% even more effective."

6. C. All of the Above. Kerry voted for harsher penalties for marijuanna users during the Clinton administration, as well as increasing 10x the amount of money used in the war on drugs. He still does not favor legalizing any drugs and favors harsh penalties for non-violent offenders, often times college students who would not become hardened criminals if not for the time spent in jail when they are young.

7. C. None of the Above. Bush opposes minimum wage (in fact, he opposes wages for most workers at all). John Kerry favors a minimum wage equal to about what it was 7 or 8 years ago, when it was near an all-time low in terms of purchasing power. The 1968 Minimum Wage, inflation adjusted to today (as Congress's wages are) would be about $8.75, not the "maybe even as much as seven dollars an hour" Kerry proudly touts.

8. C. All of the Above. Both candidates want to cut corporate taxes, despite the fact most corporations don't pay any taxes now.

9. C. Democrats used a Republican Lawfirm. The Democrats used Kirkland - Ellis, the former lawfirm of Ken Starr, to remove Nader from the ballot. In Ohio the Campaign turned in 15,000 signatures, 3x as many as were needed. Because many of the signers, though, were not yet registered to vote (but registered later) and because some signatures did not match the signatures on 30-year old voter registrations, these names were removed. Many Ohioans will not be allowed to vote for their preferred candidate.

10. C. George Bush and John Kerry. In addition to being in the same secret society, they are both:
-Within the top 1% of wealthiest Americans
-Related by blood (9th cousins)
-MOst importantly, George Bush and John Kerry's biggest similarity is that THEY CARE MORE ABOUT THEIR EGO, THEIR BIG BUSINESS INTERESTS, AND THEIR IMAGE THAN ABOUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!

I Wasn't Going to Vote for Nader ... Until They Told Me I Couldn't

I Wasn't Going to Vote for Nader ... Until They Told Me I Couldn't
If Bush Wins, Blame Me
By DAVID VEST


Originally published October 20th, 2004 at www.counterpunch.org

In Oregon, we all vote by mail, and I have just cast my ballot in the November 2 election. At least, I think I voted. I'm not sure, because the candidate I wanted for president wasn't on the ballot.

There was a space for write-ins, a dotted line. Shouldn't there be two lines? Am I allowed to vote for president but not for vice-president? Will my vote count if I guess wrong?

There appeared to be many ways to do this write-in vote incorrectly, so that my ballot can be declared invalid. That's what I am expecting. It would match the way my candidate has been treated in Oregon and in many other states.

To be completely honest, I probably wasn't going to vote for Ralph Nader until they told me I couldn't. I didn't vote for him in 2000. (I wish I had, but that's another story.) But when I found out they weren't even going to give me the choice, it rubbed me the wrong way.

When I looked at the ballot and Nader's name wasn't even there, that's when he finally became my candidate.

I thought it was un-American. Not only that, it proved Ralph's point about how corrupt our two-party system is.

A lot of things have been proving his point lately. Like the fact that most of what he warned about in 2000 has come true. I went to his web site and watched his commercials. You have to watch them online; he doesn't have enough money to put them on TV. They're very basic, he just looks into the camera and tells the truth. I found them very powerful. If they showed them every 30 minutes on TV, or as often as they show Bush and Kerry ads, I'm not sure Ralph would finish third.

I hate the Bush ads that make Kerry seem unpatriotic for even daring to oppose the incumbent. Bush and Cheney have consistently suggested that for Kerry to point out the obvious, that Iraq is a mess, somehow "hurts the troops." Even worse, he is "helping the terrorists," who are doing everything in their power to help Kerry win. A vote for Kerry is a vote for bin Laden, they imply. Might as well put Saddam in the White House!

I thought these were the vilest political arguments uttered in my lifetime, and that no one could go any lower or treat the American electorate with any greater contempt, until I looked at the thrust of Kerry's argument against Nader. It is exactly the same, only more contemptible.

Kerry has done to Nader precisely what Bush tried to do to Kerry, suggesting that it is somehow unpatriotic of Ralph that he would even consider running for president when Kerry is running. He is "helping the Republicans," who are doing everything in their power to help Ralph run. He is on an "ego trip," he is "damaging his legacy," and he perversely fails to see that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.

The character attacks on Nader launched by the Kerry camp have been, if anything, even harsher than the Bush campaign's attacks on Kerry. It's almost as though Kerry sees Nader, not Bush, as the more dangerous opponent. You'd think Karl Rove was running this part of Kerry's operation, considering how dirty (and how effective) it has been. I can imagine what kind of "documentaries" Kerry's corporate backers would be producing if Nader were up in the polls.

These people are good at what they do. Their anti-Nader "talking points" have successfully permeated political discourse, and not just on TV. I hear them coming out of the mouths of good people, folks who passionately love their country and who seem to have no idea they are helping to slander a good man who believes himself to be working on their behalf.

It's not necessarily intentional. It's just that once they declared themselves pro-Kerry, they found themselves echoing the Kerry line. A year and a half ago, they were marching against the war. Now they support a man who voted for it and vows to continue the killing, only he'll do it "better." What happened to these people?

They have almost managed to convince me that it will be not only Ralph Nader's fault but mine as well if Bush wins. For all I know, they may be right.

Since it's all my fault, feel free to vote for Nader if you want to, the damage is already done.

"Feel free" -- what a curious phrase to use in an election. Do you "feel free" to vote your conscience, or do you feel pressured to vote against your own interests to keep fear of Bush, or the terrorists, at bay?

Or do you look at your ballot, as I did, and see that they have no intention of letting you vote your conscience.

David Vest writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch's new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com.

Visit his website at www.rebelangel.com

Sunday, October 10, 2004

NADER CHALLENGES MOORE TO DEBATE

This update from www.voteNader.org should interest students who have been ammused by Michael Moore's recent ramblings.


Nader Challenges Michael Moore to a Debate

Who Should the Anti-War Movement Vote for in 2004?
Ralph Nader today challenged film-maker Michael Moore to debate the question of which Presidential candidate the anti-war movement should support in November.

Nader proposes that the debate with Moore take place in Tempe, AZ, prior to the final Presidential debate on Wednesday, Oct. 13. "Since Bush and Kerry will not debate a plan to end our involvement in this quagmire, Michael should join me in giving the American people a deep and thoughtful discussion of how to avoid the quagmire that looms before us."

Michael Moore has stood by as the anti-war movement has morphed into a pro-Kerry movement. Secure in the knowledge that the anti-war movement has lost its integrity, Kerry has moved to leapfrog Bush, becoming the supreme war-hawk in this campaign. In the first debate, Kerry proclaimed that he would "win the war in Iraq," pledged to send more American troops to do it, and criticized Bush for having pulled back from the assault on Falluja in the face of large civilian casualties already from American bombs.

The nation’s premier right-wing columnist, William Safire, wrote in the New York Times on Oct. 4th, that Kerry had become the "newest neo-conservative," and was now "more hawkish than President Bush."

"The Nader/Camejo campaign continues to stand against this war," said Nader. "America should immediately declare a phased withdrawal of our military and corporate forces over the next 6 months, which will cause the bottom to drop out of the insurgency. Once mainstream Iraqis know they are getting their country back, they will have no reason to support the insurgency and the focus will immediately become how the Iraqis will work out their own affairs. The world should be prepared to assist with supervised elections, humanitarian aid, and with providing temporary peace-keeping forces from neutral nations to help the Iraqis settle their own affairs."

Just before the Iraq war the New York Times called the anti-war movement the world’s second super-power. Now, all that the movement has predicted has come to pass in Iraq, yet rather than being empowered by its vindication, the movement has no pulse except one of unconditional surrender to Kerry. The time is short, the need is great. We must breathe a renewed dynamism into our movement. As Fredrick Douglass said in the pre-civil war years, "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

What say you, Michael? Don’t you want them to trust you again?