Monday, January 26, 2004

Response to The Status Quo

The Status Quo

It’s kind of unreal to me how people can continue to support the current President.
…Political parties aside, how can you look at the record of the current administration, save being an ultra-rich fat cat in the top tax brackets that are helped out by Bush’s tax cuts, and think, ”Hell ya! Sign me up for another four years of this shit.”

I do not count myself as beingl in the ultra-rich tax bracket, not by a long shot. I live in a rural part of Pennsylvania, but I commute to the greater Philadelphia area (in New Jersey) in order to make the most of my salary. By comparison to my peers, I scrape by on one salary, which is about half of their combined (his & her) incomes.

Hell yeah!! Sign me up for another fours years of this shit, especially if maintains the tax cuts that have benefited everyone, including me. Many people talk about the $300/$600 checks as if that was the only part of the tax cut. Those checks represented a refund of the taxes collected that year that were owed to the taxpayers because the cuts were retroactive to the first of the year. My net salary continues to be greater under the tax cuts (adjusted for my annual raise, of course).

Despite the rhetoric, everyone who pays federal income taxes received a tax cut. If I made $35,000 the tax cut was in line with the taxes I paid in that bracket. If I made $200,000 the tax cut was in line with that bracket. Granted, the $200K salary got more of dollar cut than the $35K salary, but not more of a percentage cut. On the flip side, the rich already pay more in percentage of taxes than do the rest.

Despite being overly religious themselves, our forefathers provided for the separation of church and state, yet this President continues to try to wrap the two together in a neat little incestuous blanket.

Growing up in NYC I witnessed a simple example of how state/religious can work together for social services. The unflappable Mayor Edward I. Koch (a noted Democrat who happens to endorse President Bush’s reelection) signed an order that any institution that received city funds could not discriminate against openly gay employees. The Dioceses of NYC was aghast at this (and despite the problems the Church has weathered – between the sinful acts themselves and the foolish cover-ups, the overall organization remains a vital and necessary entity). Mayor Koch was unwavering in his order, despite the Church stating that while they wouldn’t be surprised gays worked for them, they could not/would not ask people if they were gay or not.

So one day Archbishop John Cardinal O’Connor announced that the Church – who had received some funding from the city for their soup kitchens, hospitals, day cares, senior centers and the like – could either comply with the Mayor or close those programs. Citing the churches principles, the Cardinal announced he would be forced to close those hospitals, those soup kitchens, and all the rest.

In less than 36 hours, the mayor blinked, and the order was rescinded. Some called it blackmail; others called it standing on principles. Take your pick. Note the Church never said they would root out gays in their hospitals and centers, but that they would not knowingly hire them; this is not unlike a Mosque not knowingly hire an Orthodox Jew.

Up until the 1950’s, there was mandatory prayer in public schools. Despite possibly being patently unfair to those students who weren’t religious, or who weren’t of Judeo-Christian beliefs, there was little fear of the Government controlling religion. Yet, this was ruled unconstitutional. If the prayer existed in the public schools throughout the nation’s history -- up until the 1950’s -- and this nation did not become a theocracy, what possible fear of such fate do we have when public/religious relationship regarding social services?

More importantly, you should look back at the nation four years ago and at it now and say, “Are we better off now then we were then?” Now, this isn’t the place for petty discussions about how you personally felt about the last President and his, um, personal indiscretions. (The biggest kicker of all is that President’s throughout history have, notoriously, been morally shady people, but we just never had the same access to it via the bloodhound media that we do now.

While I’ll take it as written that there have been morally challenged presidents throughout history, I know of no other who lied under oath. That much said, I’d agree to set aside that thread for another day.

Since Baby Bush took over, environmental protections are down.
Drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Preserve is an ever increasing near reality.

Your first link Google’s pages on the Kyoto treaty. Last time I checked, few modern, industrial nations have signed it (many have token signatures, but lack their ‘congressional’ or parliamentary backing, in which case the signatures are cosmetic at best).

Further, the US Senate rejected the Kyoto treaty 99-0 during President Clinton’s term (and without Congress, there’s no treaty for the president to sign). I do not hear of any campaigns to oust Senators of either party because of that vote. Yet Mr. Bush gets all the heat for not going along with it. Is that fair?

As for ANWAR, the video CNN always shows depicts a tranquil, snow-covered, tree lined stream with deer in the foreground. Were that the place the drilling was proposed, I would be against it as well. Yet the actual proposed drilling site is desolate tundra. Why isn’t that being shown?

And considering the opponents say there isn’t much oil there, why is it okay to possibly endanger an environment that isn’t ours, but not ok to possibly endanger one that is (especially if for only the short-term of its supply)?

Where are we going to get oil? Or do you subscribe to the idea put forth by Vice President Gore that the internal combustion engine is a bigger threat to our nation?

Mr. Bush has endorsed research into alternative fuels, but this research ought to come primarily from the private sector, not the public.

As is relaxing legislation that regulates tourism via cruise ships in Alaska’s Inside Passage. If you knew what was allowed to be dumped within the Inside Passage, your stomach would churn (solid waste is allowed a mere three miles from shore).

Fair enough: if existing laws were being ignored, then I would agree this must stop. Where are the Alaskan Senators and House members? Where is the Alaskan statehouse? Where are the Alaskan voters?

Funding for the arts is down significantly - to almost non-existent amounts.

I have a hard time defending arts funding. Granted, there is plenty of pork in every modern-administration’s budgets, and I would submit a lot of needless appropriations could be curtailed long before arts funding. However, I also find it a contradiction that every major city has art galleries and museums that are privately funded and open to the public. Same for music, etc.

A woman’s right to choose is slowly but surely being taken away from her.

I’ll need some input on this one. In recent years, the only challenges to abortion I’ve read about involve the partial-birth procedures -- which according to pro-choice advocates occur so infrequently they are almost negligible – and teenagers being able to get abortions on demand, without parental/court oversight. Neither of these seems to break the foundations of the Roe v. Wade decision.

We isolated a significant portion of the world by thumbing our nose at the United Nations and taking to war in Iraq, a war we later learned was not prompted by the tragedy of September 11th. That national disaster gave Baby Bush an “excuse” to carry out a war he had longed planned. And, while it is great that the troops finally found Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, the actual figure head responsible for said national tragedy, is still roaming free. He marched us in to an ill-conceived war and an ever further ill conceived “occupation” (let’s be honest, that’s what it is). Gee, perhaps if we had waited for the further international backing the UN would’ve afforded us… Vicious little circle, no? What exactly is the proper way to prepare crow for eating? Does Martha have a recipe for that?

First and foremost: I must correct you in your use of the words ‘national disaster’ in describing September 11, 2001. A hurricane is a disaster, as are earthquakes, accidental train wrecks and forest fires. The word ‘disaster’ diminishes what happened. The proper description of September 11th is “an act of war” or “atrocity”.

You are right; perhaps we should have waited for the UN. After all, what reason did we have?

There was the cease-fire accord signed by Saddam Hussein that called for specific concessions to be made or we would instead enter Iraq. Nearly all of them were ignored (and lets not forget the almost daily surface-to-air firing upon coalition aircraft that patrolled the no-fly-zones), so you could say we merely resumed hostilities in the wake of the treaty violation.

However, there was 12-year delay and 16 Security Council resolutions, all of which threatened severe penalties if Iraq did not comply. Secy. Powell went to the UN with our intelligence and Hans Blix’s reports, that detailed the WMD’s Iraq had (not to mention the reports detailing the WMD’s Hussain personally attested to having).

(Now everyone is crowing this weekend about David Kay’s reported assertion that there were no WMD in Iraq; what the headlines fail to widely acknowledge is Mr. Kay’s own evidence of ‘a lot of material’ having been moved to Syria in the days before the US invasion. Hmmmm… and people are going to suggest that delaying the action had no effect. I’ll be happy to discuss MR. Kay’s interview in another thread; this posting – now 3 days late – was in regards to Kathleen’s Friday post.)

And where did going to the UN get us? China, Russia, France and Germany opposed our actions. China almost never approves of our actions (remember, they still claim our turbo-prop plane rammed their fighter jet), the rest have been reported to have expensive contracts with the old regime, in the billions, which were all in defiance of prior UN resolutions (a lot of good those resolutions are worth!).

So yes, we did what the UN Security Council had the cojones to vote for but not to carry out. For taking a stand, for gambling the lives of our soldiers and (not to mention his Presidency) the critics of the President criticize him?

As for your statement that a significant portion of the world is mad at us, what about the significant portions that have provided troops, intel and other support? Do they not count?

As for Mr. Bush having long planned such an action: in 1998 the Senate vote for the Iraqi Liberation Act (including but not limited Sens. Kerry & Lieberman), this was in response to President Clinton’s own description of the WMD threat. As then-Gov. Bush said in a 1999 debate, of course he planned the action, as he had hoped President Clinton at least had plans to do already.

So where are the WMDs? I don’t know. But if the US intel said they were there, if the UN’s own Hans Blix says there were there (and neither he nor the UN has recanted their reports), if our allies’ intel said they were there, and if President Clinton said they were there, who am I to suggest they’re all liars?

And while there are continued reports of links between Hussain and Al Qaeda, I fail to find any references made by Mr. Bush that specifically said this was the case. In fact I can find several to the contrary. I can find many references to Iraq funding other terrorist organizations, however, and that would fall squarely into President Bush’s ‘Bush Doctrine’ for anti-terrorism.

The budget deficit has grown to proportions of global implications.
Social programs have been slashed to unrecognizable levels.

Students continue to suffer in overcrowded and under funded, dilapidated schools. Teachers continue to be overworked and underpaid.

On the first point, the deficit, I cannot but agree completely! And in fact, I am aghast at the following:

  • The president allowed Sen. Edward Kennedy to all but write the education budget bill, which funding levels were raised by the Bush Admin. to levels above what was asked for by Sen. Kennedy (yet the esteemed gentlemen from Massachusetts still finds time to criticize the bill).

  • The president has endorsed and lobbied for the biggest increase in social spending since the New Deal with this ludicrous Medicare Prescription bill.

  • There are other domestic spending bills that are contrary to the Conservative principles he ran under in 2000. The point is, instead of holding the line on spending (allowing, of course, for an increase due to inflation), the President has done a lot to inflate social spending, and yet he doesn’t get any credit for it.

    Regarding teacher salaries and overcrowding:

  • In NYC school system, there is an average of 1 teacher supervisor for EACH teacher (I said average because there are those intrepid managers who handle 2 or 3). I know in private business a decent manager can oversee more than 3 people at a time.
  • In my local school district, there was tax increase to fund the new football/athletic stadium, to replace the 20-year-old structure. Sure the old one was old, but it was functional and could have been modernized. Still the school board elected to vote the new stadium. Meanwhile, on a grassy patch next to the main building, 20 trailers house ‘temporary classrooms’.

  • While these examples do not necessarily represent the greater school system nationwide, they are two examples taken from urban and rural school districts.

    If teachers are over-worked (9 month per year job), then the trend to make schools the baby-sitters for neglecting parents is more to blame than any one administration. After all, if teachers today are so over-worked, what good did the prior Administration do for them?

    How can this – and a million other things I’m not even touching on – be considered progress? How can you look at the shambles of our nation and say, ”This guy is doing a great job.” You can’t. There is not one single thing that can be held up as exemplary - or above and beyond. I shutter to think of what would happen to the US under another four years with this man.

    And from knowing the foreign policy and homeland security examples set by Messrs Clinton and Gore in their term, I shutter to think what would have happened in a post-9/11 world had Mr. Gore been elected president (and in my mind, that day of the attack and the days/months afterwards can be held to your exemplary standard).

    Judging by the unwavering desire to turn over our sovereignty to the United Nations – an organization that has been all but hostile to democratic republics the world over – I shutter to think what will become of us if any of the challengers become president (with the exception of Sen. Lieberman, who demonstrates a grasp on modern Foreign Policy).

    Some people just don’t have “it” – “it” being the power to lead the supposedly grandest nation in the world.

    Right of the bat here, I must insist upon a simple answer: if we are only ‘supposedly’ the grandest nation, what nation really is?

    His daddy didn’t have it. He doesn’t have it.
    And, you’ll notice I didn’t even touch on the easily preyed upon traits he could easily change to make himself look like less of a jackass - the mispronunciations, the shit eating grin, the talking out of his ass, the hanging his own staff members out to dry, the leaking of the name of a CIA agent as retribution…

    Oh this is grand, I am sorry to say! Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil repeatedly went against the proposals President Bush wanted implemented – that’s fine, I mean after all, Mr. O’Neil stood by his convictions, as did Mr. Bush, and as such there was a parting of ways (yes, he was fired). Mr. O’Neil then went on record stating he had no plans to be, as he called it, a sharpshooter against the Administration. Now in light of the publicity surrounding Mr. O’Neil’s book, who hung whose ass out to dry??

    Rather than rehash it here, refer to the following posts on my humble blog: here, and here for points regarding the alleged leak of Ms. Plaine’s name.

    As for the claims of the President looking foolish, consider these points:
  • Eeaaaagggghhhh!” Enough said.
  • Sen. Kerry and his pancake flipping flop, his poor decisions regarding his Philadelphia Cheese Steak, his claim that he voted for the Iraq resolution but didn’t mean to mean it, and his own fat-cat bank accounts.
  • The ever-changing positions of Gen. Wesley Clark (I would have voted for the resolution, I may have voted for it, I don’t know if I would have voted for it….), his endorsement of Bush Administration foreign policy (when he was a Republican), etc.

  • I'll avoid the foibles and misstatements of Messrs Clinton & Gore, and focus on the here and now.

    How are any of these traits of an admirable leader? Or like he can’t believe his own dumb luck (and, let’s face it, his even being in that office is dumb luck).

    Dumb luck? Assuming for a moment the alleged law breaking occurred to get him into this office did occur, Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore arguably got approximately 50% of the vote, each. Is that dumb luck? Hardly.

    These aren’t anything a good media adviser couldn’t cure him of, yet he has never hired anyone to take care of his classic "Bushisms". Why not? It could only serve to aide any credibility he hoped to ever have someday.

    OK, so if his media advisers did deal with “Bushisms”, wouldn’t you accuse the Administration of spinning to make the President look good? If so, he can’t possibly win on this point, can he?

    A leader that's a laughing stock... how appealing.

    Laughing stock? Now, now, I thought we were discussing the current president, not the last. ;)

    Even if you’re not a Democrat, you should want someone, anyone else to give it a shot. Couldn't hurt, might help.

    I am not a Democrat, and while I have more than a couple problems with some of the domestic and border decisions put forth by this President, I do not see any other candidate who has the desire and the message that would trump the good this President has done.

    Blind faith in anyone – especially an ill-advised, ill-prepared leader – is a dangerous precipice for us to stand on the edge of as a nation trying to recarve its niche in the world theatre.

    In my mind, blind faith would be saying things like ‘I would be willing put on a pair of kneepads in order to keep abortion legal’, as if nothing else matters. Blind faith is saying ‘who cares so long as the economy is good’ (which, given the turn in the economy in the last 2 years, I would submit some Democrats may have to eat their words). Blind faith is saying ‘anyone but {incumbent x}’ which would imply the local dogcatcher could run a country.

    These blind-faith descriptions I offer apply to any candidate of any party, as do all of my criticisms. I don’t present the actions of previous office holders as a free pass for President Bush, but only to make the reader ask if they would criticize a member of the opposition party for the same offence.

    I’ve never pretended to support every decision by the President, yet on matters of National Defense and overall Foreign Policy, there has yet to be any better. On matters Domestic Policy, while there are warts in his agenda (in my humble opinion), the good still outweigh the bad by a long shot.

    Our niche as a super power has been well-carved, or rather, re-carved in the last 2 years, since time and the elements have eroded its depth.

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