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?

Friday, October 08, 2004

STUDENTS WILL BE IGNORED AT TONIGHTS DEBATES

As students increasingly do not vote and do not participate in government, it is no surprise that we will be ignored at tonight's presidential debate. Here are some issues students should demand be adressed in this election:

-The Draft. Although Republicans and George W. Bush continue to assure us they will use only volunteers, the American people continue to question what they mean by "volunteer." If given the choice between volunteering and going to jail, many youths will volunteer. John Kerry says he will begin to withdraw troops, after he says he will put more there. These men can not be trusted with the future of our military.

-Living Wage. Students desparately need a living wage. President Bush does not like any minimum wage laws and believes a class of poverty is necessary for him to bask in his wealth; Senator Kerry believes $7 an hour can raise a family. American Students would, of course, love to see Kerry or his daughters live on seven dollars an hour, but don't count on it happening, or being brought up tonight.

-College Education Costs. Plans to reduce the cost of college are easily recognized by skeptical students as empty promises, and obviously empty promises are worse than pure silence. Kerry once promised free college, but those promises were dead once the banks put him on their payroll.

-The War on Drugs. Bush may not appreciate that he was never jailed for his past drug use, but he has no problem locking up millions of people who lead the same immoral life he has. As a Senator, John Kerry never questioned Clinton's escalated war on drugs, either. Neither men would ever propose replacing the corporate prisons filled with marijuanna users with better schools. Never.

-Job Loss. Since January 2001, 2.7 million jobs have been lost and more than 75% of those jobs have been high wage, high productivity manufacturing jobs. College students are well aware that they will have difficulty finding work once they graduate. High school graduates unable to afford the insane college tuition prices are having more and more difficulty finding trade work. Many jobs have been lost due to the Bush-approved NAFTA, which Kerry voted for. Many jobs could be created by rolling back the Bush-Kerry taxcuts, using the money to fund American infrastructure and redirecting large bureaucratic and fraudulent health expenditures toward preventive health care we can reverse this trend and create millions of new jobs.

-Government Reform. Young people are sick and tired of the same old lies, the same Washington elite ignoring the future of our country. But as long as two men, both from America's 1% richest and most egalitarian, are running for office, don't expect any change. If we opened up our government by fully funded federal elections, instant run-off voting, none-of-the-above options, and proportional representation, Bush and Kerry know they would never stand a chance. Such issues at tonight's debate would proce disasterous for their comfy government positions.

American Students need to gather together to make these issues more recognized and debated in the political arena.