Thursday, August 7, 2003

Unpatriotic soldiers, Dr. Bushlove, Howard Lieberdean & The Reality of 2004

First, protestors were being unpatriotic and endangering our troops by speaking out against the war. Now, the troops themselves are being told to shut up!

Pentagon makes moves to contain complaints from US troops in Iraq

Written by Douglas Quenqua
Published on August 04 2003

WASHINGTON: After several troops made some highly publicized negative comments to the media about the war effort in Iraq, the Pentagon has taken steps to keep the frustrations of both soldiers and their families out of reports.

According to a story in the July 25 edition of Stars and Stripes, the military appears to be curtailing its much-touted embedded-journalist program, which has allowed reporters almost unfettered access to military units throughout the war and occupation.

The 3rd Infantry Division, from where many complaints have arisen, has expelled many of its embedded reporters, and its troops are no longer allowed to talk to the media outside of pre-approved news features.


What next? A soldier gets court-martialed for speaking out? Maybe executed?

For those still sleeping well, under the misguided illusion that Bush and his cronies aren't all that bad and that he is, at heart, a good guy with all Americans' best interests in mind:

'Dr Strangeloves' meet to plan new nuclear era

Julian Borger in Bellevue, Nebraska
Thursday August 7, 2003
The Guardian

US government scientists and Pentagon officials will gather today behind tight security at a Nebraska air force base to discuss the development of a modernised arsenal of small, specialised nuclear weapons which critics believe could mark the dawn of a new era in proliferation.

The Pentagon has not released a list of the 150 people at the secret meeting, but according to leaks, they will include scientists and administrators from the three main nuclear weapons laboratories, Los Alamos, Sandia and Livermore, senior officers from the air force and strategic command, weapons contractors and civilian defence officials.

Requests by Congress to send observers were rejected, and an oversight committee which included academic nuclear experts was disbanded only a few weeks earlier.



And for the well-intentioned but completely misguided progressives I know that are supporting Howard Dean, here's a little something to chew on:

Dean's No Wellstone

comment | Posted May 8, 2003
by Jim Farrell

Lately, presidential contender Howard Dean has been likening himself to the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Out on the stump, Dean has used a phrase that Wellstone long employed--that we need candidates who "represent the democratic wing of the Democratic Party." Before audiences of progressives and party activists, it is reportedly Governor Dean's best applause line. No wonder. The Democratic rank and file yearn for populist leadership based on a firm commitment to progressive policies.

Dean acknowledges that his own politics are considerably less "liberal" than Wellstone's but that he identifies with the senator's passion and commitment to beliefs. Certainly, Dean's campaign has many of the trappings of progressive politics. Dean himself is an upstart and outsider, and his call for a grassroots campaign to "take back America" sounds progressive.

But as Wellstone frequently said, it's not the thought that counts but the deed. So how do the records of the two men compare?


While Dean may share some measure of Wellstone's passion, his record and his agenda are very different. As governor of Vermont, Dean targeted for elimination the public-financing provision of the state's campaign finance law--a law similar to the one Wellstone pushed in the Senate. In February 2002, Dean said his big donors are given special access. While Wellstone fought for people on welfare, Dean said some welfare recipients "don't have any self-esteem. If they did, they'd be working" and scaled back Vermont's welfare program, reducing cash benefits and imposing strict time limits on single mothers receiving welfare assistance.

Dean advocated sending nuclear waste from his state to the poor, mostly Hispanic town of Sierra Blanca, Texas. Wellstone called the proposal "blatant environmental injustice" and fought to delay the measure in the Senate. It ultimately passed but was later determined unsafe. Just last year, Dean proposed deep cuts in Medicaid, which were blocked in his own legislature. Now he calls Representative Dick Gephardt's healthcare proposal, which would roll back the Bush tax cuts in order to provide a tax credit for employers mandated to deliver health coverage to workers, "a pie-in-the-sky radical revamping of our healthcare system." Dean has said that a constitutional amendment to balance the budget "wouldn't be a bad thing" and that the way to balance the federal budget is "for Congress to cut Social Security, move the retirement age to 70 and cut defense, Medicare and veterans' pensions." In the name of fiscal conservatism, Dean's final-year Vermont budget also cut portions of the state's public education funding. Dean supports the death penalty and as governor was embraced by the NRA. Although he opposed the war on Iraq, his policy on the Middle East is closer, he says, to AIPAC--the American Israel Public Affairs Committee--than to progressives calling for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories.


He's basically a softer Joe Lieberman. No thanks! (Farrell, by the way, was the spokesman for the late Senator Paul Wellstone.)

Finally, my response to someone who took objection to my saying "middle America is nowhere near ready to vote a black man, woman or Jew to the office of President" on a message board, offering Lieberman and Hilary Clinton's poll numbers and references to Jackie Robinson and John F. Kennedy:

While I applaud your optimism, I must respectfully disagree with it.

Lieberman is simply riding the wave of name recognition right now. When it comes down to the real deal, his relative similarity to Bush will again depress the democratic turnout (he did a nice job of dissing the union vote the other night) and the fact that he is Jewish will invigorate the far right to flood the voting booths. He was spared the overt anti-semitism as a VP candidate but he won't be if he's in the driver's seat.

Hilary is an exception, not the rule, and her being a woman is, at best, the second most important thing for her supporters. She's transcended such basic categorization.

As for a racial or ethnic minority getting the nod, I'll believe it when I see it. Playing baseball (or providing any other form of entertainment) is a completely different world from being President as your inability to name even a handful of nationally prominent politicians of color proves.

As for Kennedy, it should be noted that the 1960 elections had a 62.8% turnout, the highest on record, and he won the popular vote by only 118,574 votes - less than .025% of the total! It was the same electoral college that screwed Gore that made the big difference for him.

I'd like to think that Democrats are not really falling for the anyone but Bush line. Gore/Lieberman may have won the popular vote but the fact of the matter is it was with only 51% of those eligible voting. The G/L combo didn't do anything to energize the left. If anything, they polarized it, forcing many progressives to wrestle with the Gore vs. Nader decision. When Clinton beat Bush Sr. in '92, turnout was 55.1% and a large chunk of THAT vote went to Ross Perot (18.91%).

Remember, not many took Bush seriously throughout 2000, thinking him too dumb to win. Even Republicans didn't take him seriously at first. Americans have extremely short memories and all it will take is an upswing in the economy or improvements in the situation in Iraq for his approval numbers to jump back up and the Democrats to start believing Gore should run again.

The time is ripe for change. Bold change. Halfway measures won't be enough this time. If Democrats want to be the force behind that change, they're going to have to nominate someone that represents a significant, fundamental change.

Now I need to get some less important Thomson Media work done before heading off to my first Kucinich Meetup tonight.

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