(Archive - Week of October 30, 2004)

It's Election Time - Be a true American and vote
Over the past few weeks the Bush bunch have been using the word "liberal" every time they open their mouths. When the right-wing, conservative Republicans say "liberal," they do it with more hate in their tone of voice than they do when they say Osama bin Laden and Al Queda. When I hear the word "liberal," I think of a true "democracy." I am a proud to be American and "liberal." I am a registered Democrat, and I have put this statement in writing a hundred times, "If anybody can tell me just one thing that the Republican Party has passed in Congress and implemented for the benefit of the average American, I would join the Republican Party. A tax refund was implemented by Bush and his Republican Congress, but most of it went to the very rich. All the benefits that the working class Americans, senior citizens and retired military, etc. are receiving today were passed in Congress and implemented by the Democratic Party. Let's start with Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare. 

Democracy is not a categorical idea; instead it is qualified by terms such as liberal and representative. Classical democracy was direct, that is, the people voted on all major issues, whereas modern democracy is representative, which means we elect representatives to act on our behalf.

Liberal democratic government in the modern context means that there are free and fair elections, competitive parties, and limited government; that means that the mandate to govern given to governments is limited by the respect for certain basic rights such as laid out in a Bill of Rights. This would include such rights as free speech, association, religious expression, and freedom of the person, the right of someone to go about their daily life unhindered. These are some of the basics: Freedom,  Equality, Tolerance.

a) Democracy is ruled by the majority; in some cases imposing their will on significant minorities.

b) Freedoms are seldom categorical, but are limited by the rule of law.

c) Equality is difficult to achieve in a democratic laissez faire system, except in the general sense of equality of opportunity;

Let us now get down to the nitty-gritty of voting on Nov. 2 - that's only a couple days away. We know that Bush gets a failing grade for his so-called leadership during the past four years. One of the biggest mistakes that Bush made was to invade Iraq - an innocent country that played no part in the 9/11/01 disaster. I just don't understand how he can sleep at night knowing that he is the reason 1,100 young Americans were sent home from Iraq in body-bags, and more than 6,000 wounded - many having no arms, legs and eyes.

This is a free country in spite of George W. Bush, and the other Republican branches of government. You cannot be forced to vote, but if you do not, you become part of the downfall of our nation. Our country cannot stand another four years of George W. Bush. It will take President John Kerry two years to get America back on track after what Bush left him.

We need a two political party system to make our nation survive to the maximum in a true democracy. This is how Garrison Keillor sums it up.   

By Garrison Keillor
Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned-and there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today's. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.

In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship is another term of date rape," says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy-the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president's personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear-fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it's 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn't the "end of innocence," or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn't prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.

Who's insensitive to gays? Start with the Cheneys
By Ellen Goodman, Globe Columnist  |  October 21, 2004

LET ME SEE if I have this right. The Republicans are now accusing the Democrats of being insensitive to gay Americans? Or to one gay American at least?

After John Kerry mentioned Mary Cheney in the third debate, talk radio hosts finally found a lesbian they wanted to protect. Even the homophobic wing of cable TV rallied to the support of a family with a gay offspring.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney described himself as "a pretty angry father." And Lynne Cheney said of the senator: "This is not a good man."

What's wrong with this picture?

Remember way back in the 1980s, when Dick Cheney racked up one of the most antigay voting records in the House of Representatives? In 1988, he was one of 13 members who even voted against funding for AIDS testing and research when it was still called a "gay plague." Well, Cheney's come as far as many other Americans, and for the same essential reason. The more people in our families, workplaces, and communities come out of the closet, the harder it is to regard them as deviants who need to be cured or converted or jailed.

Mary was by no means outed on national television. She was already out. She lives with a longtime partner, wears a ring, and has worked professionally marketing Coors beer to the gay community.

She and Heather Poe sat at the convention under the camera lights with the rest of the family. She is not a "child" but the director of vicepresidential campaign operations and her father's chief confidante.

Dick Cheney has talked openly about his "gay daughter" in one of the rare moments that warm his icy persona. He even opposes the constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage that the president supports so ardently.

If Cheney has an argument with anybody it's with his running mate, George Bush. But the "pretty angry father" hasn't directed any of that anger at the Republican platform he's running on.

As for Lynne Cheney, who called Kerry's comments "a cheap and tawdry political trick," what does she call the RNC mailing that warned evangelicals that if Kerry is elected, the Bible will be banned and gay marriage will be the law of the land? High-minded?

At the Republican convention, Alan Keyes, the Republican candidate for Illinois senator, said homosexuality "is based simply on the premise of selfish hedonism." When asked if Mary Cheney was a selfish hedonist, he answered "of course she is." Did Lynne call Alan Keyes a bad man?

Cheney, for his part, said that this incident proves Kerry "will say and do anything in order to get elected." What about the anti-gay marriage amendments gracing the ballots of 11 states, including swing states like Ohio? Did he criticize the campaign's use of the gay issue to get evangelicals to the polls? Who will say and do anything to get elected?

And two days after the debate there was a rally in Washington dubbed "Mayday for Marriage." The "nonpartisan" crowd full of Bush-Cheney buttons was as antigay as it gets. Did I miss it when the candidates distanced themselves from Mayday?

Mary Cheney is an endangered species, a gay Republican in a campaign so hostile that even the Log Cabin Republicans refused to endorse Bush this year. She is loyal to her father, who is loyal to the president.

Is it any wonder that many people in the gay community think she is working for the enemy? There is even a milk carton posted on the Internet that asks the question: Have you seen her?

Yes, I am sure that Mary doesn't want to be seen as the Gay Daughter. Yes, Kerry could have made his point -- that homosexuality is not a choice -- without her help. And yes, the impulse to give a candidate's families some space and privacy is the right one.

But what Mary presumably wants in terms of privacy and acceptance is at heart of the gay community's pursuit of full and equal rights, which her party opposes. It's the people who still regard "lesbian" as a dirty word who most criticized the senator for using it.

So here we have it. The Republicans are using gay-bashing on a culture warpath back to the White House while they spin this story so masterfully that they look like the sensitive protectors of a family with a gay daughter. They have actually won political points suggesting that Kerry is picking on a gay woman while they, on the other hand, have compassion for the conservative Cheneys.

Hot damn, they're good at this. The next thing you know Karl Rove and & Co. will figure out a way for the candidate who (sort of) served in the Air National Guard to win political points over the decorated veteran of the Vietnam War. They might even try to tarnish his purple hearts.

Aw, no, they wouldn't go that far.

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