Sunday, August 29, 2004

Seattle Times: Kerry for President

The Seattle Times: Kerry for President

The Seattle Times

Friday, August 27, 2004, 01:16 P.M. Pacific

Kerry for President

Four years ago, this page endorsed George W. Bush for president. We cannot do so again — because of an ill-conceived war and its aftermath, undisciplined spending, a shrinkage of constitutional rights and an intrusive social agenda.

The Bush presidency is not what we had in mind. Our endorsement of John Kerry is not without reservations, but he is head and shoulders above the incumbent.

The first issue is the war. When the Bush administration began beating the drums for war on Iraq, this page said repeatedly that he had not justified it. When war came, this page closed ranks, wanting to support our troops and give the president the benefit of the doubt. The troops deserved it. In hindsight, their commander in chief did not.

The first priority of a new president must be to end the military occupation of Iraq. This will be no easy task, but Kerry is more likely to do it — and with some understanding of Middle Eastern realities — than is Bush.

The election of Kerry would sweep away neoconservative war intellectuals who drive policy at the White House and Pentagon. It would end the back-door draft of American reservists and the use of American soldiers as imperial police. It would also provide a chance to repair America's overseas relationships, both with governments and people, particularly in the world of Islam.

A less-belligerent, more-intelligent foreign policy should cause less anger to be directed at the United States. A political change should allow Americans to examine the powers they have given the federal government under the Patriot Act, and the powers the president has claimed by executive order.

This page had high hopes for President Bush regarding taxing and spending. We endorsed his cut in income taxes, expecting that it would help business and discipline new public spending. In the end, there was no discipline in it. In control of the Senate, the House and the presidency for the first time in half a century, the Republicans have had a celebration of spending.

Kerry has made many promises, and might spend as much as Bush if given a Congress under the control of Democrats. He is more likely to get a divided government, which may be a good thing.

Bush was also supposed to be the candidate who understood business. In some ways he has, but he has been too often the candidate of big business only. He has sided with pharmaceutical companies against drug imports from Canada.

In our own industry, the Bush appointees on the Federal Communications Commission have pushed to relax restrictions on how many TV stations, radio stations and newspapers one company may own. In an industry that is the steward of the public's right to speak, this is a threat to democracy itself — and Kerry has stood up against it.

Bush talked like the candidate of free trade, a policy the Pacific Northwest relies upon. He turned protectionist on steel and Canadian lumber. Admittedly, Kerry's campaign rhetoric is even worse on trade. But for the previous 20 years, Kerry had a strong record in support of trade, and we have learned that the best guide to what politicians do is what they have done in the past, not what they say.

On some matters, we always had to hold our noses to endorse Bush. We noted four years ago that he was too willing to toss aside wild nature, and to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We still disagree. On clean air, forests and fish, we generally side with Kerry.

We also agree with Sen. Kerry that Social Security should not offer private accounts.

Four years ago, we stated our profound disagreement with Bush on abortion, and then in one of his first acts as president, he moved to reinstate a ban on federal money for organizations that provide information about abortions overseas. We disagree also with Bush's ban on federal money for research using any new lines of stem cells.

There is in these positions a presidential blending of politics and religion that is wrong for the government of a diverse republic.

Our largest doubt about Kerry is his idea that the federal debt may be stabilized, and dozens of new programs added, merely by raising taxes on the top 2 percent of Americans. Class warfare is a false promise, and we hope he forgets it.

Certainly, the man now in office forgot some of the things he said so fetchingly four years ago.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Democracy, That's the Ticket

This is probably already on my friend Dick Mac's blog, but I couldn't help including this. I find this kind of behavior really reprehensible, not to mention unAmerican. This example is from northern Michigan, but it has been happening throughout the country at Bush's Youth--er, rallies (if anyone doesn't understand that reference, e-mail me).
Traverse City Record-Eagle
August 17, 2004

Ticket ripped because of sticker
Teacher, 55, wanted to see a president

Record-Eagle staff writer
TRAVERSE CITY - Kathryn Mead wanted to see her first sitting president when George W. Bush visited the city.
Instead, Bush campaign staffers tore up the 55-year-old social studies teacher's ticket and refused her admission because she sported a small sticker on her blouse that touted the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards.
"I had my ticket and photo identification, but they would not let me in because of this sticker," said Mead, a teacher at Traverse City West Senior High, who said she has seen Queen Elizabeth and Pope John Paul in person.
"I have never found this kind of screening anywhere in my travels around the world. I can't imagine being denied access to hearing the president of the United States speak."
"How can anyone in the United States deny someone entry? Isn't this a democracy?"

Several people outside the campaign event tried to console Mead, who was visibly upset.
"It really is comedic," said a man holding a Kerry/Edwards sign. "What absolute nonsense."
Kate Stephan, chair of the Grand Traverse Republican Party, could not be reached for comment after the rally.
But Ralph Soffredine, a Traverse City commissioner, school board member and former police chief who worked security at the front gate, said it is part of the Bush campaign policy.
"We were told that anyone with stickers or shirts would not be let in if they would not take them off," he said. "(Mead) came to me after her ticket was torn up, but I told her there was nothing I could do.
"I know her and it was really too bad, but I would say that we had very few instances of that. I thought it went very well."
Lynn Larson, chair of the Grand Traverse Democratic Party, said the move is typical of other Bush rallies that only allow Republican supporters to see the president.
"The very reason that we are here protesting is to protect our First Amendment rights," she said. "When the Secret Service rips somebody's sticker off and takes their ticket away, it makes me even more determined to march to protect our rights."
Mead, who has taught for two decades, instead stood on the sidewalks with other John Kerry supporters, listening to Bush from behind a fence.
"I really, truly wanted to have the experience of having seen the president and hear him speak, which is very important to me as a social studies teacher," she said. "How can anyone in the United States deny someone entry? Isn't this a democracy?"

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Time to Get Out the Bush

Time To Get Out The Bush
How do you know it's time for a major change in American leadership? Let us count the signs

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

You know it's time for a serious change when the president of the United States actually mutters the infantile, instantly infamous line, "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we," just after finishing phonetically spelling out his name, in his favoritest red crayon, on yet another budget-reaming $417 billion defense-spending bill.

And you know it's time for a change when not a single one of the rigid and spiritually curdled military yes men standing around the ceremonial signing table, those sad automatons with their wooden smiles and stiff spines and bone-dry souls, not one broke into a hysterical bout of sad, suicidal laughter, followed by uncontrolled wailing and the rending of flesh and the muttering of oh my freaking God what the hell is this man doing as leader of the free world.

You know it's time for a change when you hear that Kerry and Edwards both wrote their own riveting, galvanizing acceptance speeches at the Democratic National Convention, heartfelt and effective rhetoric that gives you hope not for the quality of polished oratory but for genuine, refreshing political intellect, and verbal acumen, as you offer deep thanks that at least some politicians can still speak coherently and cogently without mangling the goddamn language at every adjectival clause.

Whereas you just know Dubya isn't capable of writing a single word of his own speeches, and will employ entire squadrons of lackeys to do it for him at the RNC, and will regardless still insist on mispronouncing "nukuler" and "'Murka" and "terrist" and "gin bender at Yale," and will doubtlessly say something like, "We must stamp out evil in all its forms because evil wants to do evil things to us and evil don't know the depths of its own, uh, evilnesses. Praise Jesus."

There are signs and indicators. There are feelings and intuitions. There is that undeniable tang in the air, that clenching of the cultural colon, that cringe in the collective soul. Something has got to give. A national shakeup is more than imminent—it is desperately, urgently needed. And Bush is just about finished.

Don't you feel it? The sensation that the country cannot continue to careen down this ultraviolent, antihumanitarian path much longer without implosion and desperation and a massive increase in sedative prescriptions for anyone with an even slightly intuitive sense of justice and future and long hot sighs of hope? You're not alone.

You know it's time for a dramatic change when American bookstores and movie theaters are filled with unprecedented numbers of extraordinarily damning BushCo exposés and embarrassing tell-all tomes and brutal whistle-blower digests from all corners of the culture, produced by everyone from disheartened CIA insiders to ex-generals to respected reporters to former U.S. allies.

From Clarke's Against All Enemies, Woodward's Plan of Attack, Suskind's The Price of Loyalty, Phillips' American Dynasty, Dean's Worse Than Watergate, Unger's House of Bush, House of Saud and Imperial Hubris, by Anonymous, to Fahrenheit 9/11 and Outfoxed and The Hunting of the President. Go ahead, Google any one (or all) of those titles. The list is endless and stunning in its depth and in the heat of its unanimous BushCo condemnation.

Hell, it's getting so you can't turn a corner or have a nuanced, humane thought without confronting another hunk of undeniable proof that what these media documents say is true: The Bush administration is quite possibly the most economically destructive, environmentally devastating, ethically corrupt, internationally loathed, deliberately tyrannical, worst-dressed administration in American history.

What, too harsh? Hardly.

When the professors and other intellectuals and the artists and the social workers and the mystics and the truly spiritual among us are appalled and mournful, and the homophobes and the rednecks and the religious zealots are cheering and shooting their guns in the sky, this is how you know.

When America has become a global punch line, a petulant and screeching child in an oversize Texas cowboy hat throwing oily little tantrums on a WMD whim, and the global community can only sit there, stunned and enraged, as every ally withdraws all offers of support and overtures of concern for our well-being, this is how you know.

The activists know it. Angry groups are popping up by the hundreds across the nation, all working diligently to toss a nice emetic into the Republican gorge-fest. Some are even going so far as to offer up the ultimate sacrifice: They will have sex with any Republicans willing to withhold their Bush vote this election.

It's true. It's funny. It's called What, too extreme? Hey, extreme times call for extreme lubrication.

The watchdogs know it. The usual reaction from most analysts and wonks, most intellectuals and artists, when faced with another presidential election, is this: Yawn. After all, such ultra-elitist, top-tier shifts have little effect on the massive daily political grind, the real meat and potatoes of government, right? This is the common wisdom. A change in presidents is like changing the paint on an aircraft carrier: different patina, same damn boat.

Not this time. All those who normally claim that a change in who sits in the Oval Office means nothing are now all frantically waving their arms and shouting their protests and joining the resistance. This election is different. This one matters like never before in history, considering how so many of us underestimated just how much damage a single president's gnarled, hateful administration could unleash upon the world in a single term.

This is the new rallying cry. If you care at all about the soul of this country, if you care at all about women's rights and gay rights and true spiritual freedom and the environment and our international standing, if you care at all about actually reducing the anti-U.S. hatred in the world, as opposed to amplifying it a thousandfold, then oh my god yes, this election matters.

This, then, is how you know it's time for a serious change. When you can feel it in your bones, when you finally attune and really listen to the underlying messages and dig deep into your own spirit and discover that no, this isn't the way the world is supposed to work. This is not the way the country has to be.

This is not the way the world's greatest superpower is supposed to behave, this bitter metallic taste that leaps into my mouth whenever I see a picture of BushCo isn't really supposed to be there, the vice president isn't supposed to make children cry and flowers wilt and the gods recoil in disgust.

And the president isn't supposed to mangle the language and induce multiple wars and invite international derision and make so many millions of us ashamed to be Americans. It's time for a serious change. This is how you know.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Bush "seeks new ways to harm US"

From my brother, web surfer extraordinaire (and master of Fingertips).
Bush 'seeks new ways to harm US'
From correspondents in Washington

US President George W. Bush offered up a new entry for his catalogue of "Bushisms" today, declaring that his administration will "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people".

Mr Bush misspoke as he delivered a speech at the signing ceremony for a $US417 billion ($593 billion) defence spending bill.

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Mr Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

No-one in Mr Bush's audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Fun with Vocabulary

Since it's unfair to slime all Republicans with the same viscous brush of lies, slander, and acid that spew from the administration's henchmen from Cheney down to Sean Hannity, I've decided this new breed that the GOP hath spawned needs a new name. hence:


Use it as you like. We'll start a movement.

Monday, August 02, 2004

My iPod's Dream House

A digression from the political arena:

The other day, while I was surfing the 'net, through Everything iPod, iPod Hacks and iPod Lounge, I saw the plethora of third-party add-ons available, everything from high-tech aluminum sleeves and sports bands to designer cases for multiple collections and customized ear plugs.

I looked down at my sleek second-generation 'pod, surrounded by its black cover, its skintight fire-engine blue cover, its two different car adapters, its selection of cables, of earplugs and headsets, not to mention the various different iterations of itself available through the playlists (am I feeling angry today? am I feeling folksy today? am I feeling spontaneous today?), and nestling in its brand-new Altec Lansing collapsible portable speakers, I recognized a feeling.

The feeling of play, of whimsy, of imagination, of accessorizing. Of projecting my personality onto an inanimate object.

Oh my god--my iPod has become my Barbie doll.

It even has its own dream house--I had to buy an external hard drive for iTunes and the music library, since my first-generation white iBook (obsolete, circa 2001) ran out of space.

Think about its impossible dimensions, the slim white casing with its good looks unattainable by any normal human, the wealth of mix 'n' match available, the bonding of creativity and self-expression. It even comes in different colors now; though maybe the minis are more like Skipper and Scooter and Midge. Or even Francie.

And love. I am in love with my iPod. It has opened up new worlds for me, takes me away from the mundane, and I can play with it at work. How great is that? Granted, it's not as personal as a Barbie--if something were to happen to this iPod I could update without feeling devastated. I don't have to worry that a different iPod's hair and face wouldn't be exactly the same, the coif pressed to the side by lying in a box or the face perhaps a slightly different color from a new batch of dye.

I've never lost my love for my childhood Barbie, the vintage Barbie with the sloe eyes, ponytail, and pouty red lips. Not the generic wide-eyed teen of current crops, but a Barbie who was never, never, never ever 16. Even as a child I knew she wasn't 16.

My much-adored Barbie with her still-perfect ponytail and well-kept clothes (for I was a careful child with my dolls) suffered an unknown fate. She just disappeared. The last time I saw her she was in the attic of the last house my parents lived in. My mother swears she never let any children play with her. Yet all that remains, once my mother moved out of the house, was the double-case in black plastic vinyl, some miscellaneous accessories and stacks of old catalogues, my second Barbie, the swivel-hipped beach babe with orange net bathing suit and bendable legs, some panels from the Fashion Shop, and my Dream House (untouched, I might add, for some 30 years until my cat chewed a corner of the roof). In some misguided generosity I had given my cousin, the closest relative I have to a sister, my beloved Francie doll and her incredible wardrobe. Neither my cousin nor my aunt have any recollection of what happened to her.

Luckily, early on I had rescued Skipper and Scooter, stuffed in their case with clothes bulging off the wardrobe and shoes and socks and tights and butterfly nets bursting out of the drawers.

But I still mourn the loss of my Barbie and her clothes. Her wonderful, stylish, well-made clothes with sewn seams, carefully proportioned patterns, and wonderful attention to detail.

A few years ago, in a period of blue funk, I fixated on Barbies, most likely trying to recapture the elusive feeling of play that people inevitably lose to social conditioning. I bought a new Barbie, some clothes, accessories, and a new case. But today's Barbie dresses in what can only be described as white-trash couture, full of too-short skirts in unattractive bright pastels made of glued-together, poorly dyed fabrics that probably never saw human hands. No one with any taste would ever want those clothes in real life, but we all wanted vintage Barbie frocks, the pouffed skirts, white gloves, oh-so-perfect high-heeled mules. Look at Charlotte's wardrobe from Sex and the City--pure Barbie doll! (I was so waiting for SATC fashion dolls! Why not, HBO, why not?)

So i'll continue accessorizing my iPod with sheaths and coats, cases and personalities. And while it plays, so will I.