Wednesday, September 29, 2004

George Bush as the New Archie Bunker

Pundits write that George Bush is doing a bad imitation of Clint "Dirty Harry" Eastwood or John "Duke" Wayne.

Mr. Bush's confident swagger, bigoted smugness, bully behavior, name-calling and unabashed flag-waving remind me more of Archie Bunker than counterfeit movie cowboys.

The only differences between Archie and George are Mr. Bush's wealth and Ivy League credentials, and Archie's conscience....Archie was mature enough to eventually see the light and arrive at a more loving, wise viewpoint, albeit with a long, reluctant sigh.

We affectionately laughed at Archie because we knew his oh-so-hidden heart would emerge at the end of 30 minutes. Americans could shake the pain of arising selfishness and intolerance, after FDR's New Deal generosity, in US life by precious, healing laughter at Archie's macho, ignorant fear, hatred and anger.

No one is laughing at George Bush. He means it. He wields fear, hatred and anger like a sharpened weapon to effectively divide Americans along lines of wealth, race, religion and culture.

He shamelessly uses bully tactics and name-calling as a matter of daily habit. He's the first President since Herbert Hoover to diss the NAACP annual confab. His abhorrence of all Islamic cultures and ways is obvious to the world. He's openly declared his hate for whole countries, simply because they dared disagree with his Bunker-esque view of the world.

I can hear Archie now, railing against the blacks and the Iraqis and France.

Problem is, George may not be gone in 30 minutes. There is no laugh track.

George Bush is for real. He, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld believe their intolerant words of fear, hate and anger, and they mean to continue imposing them on the world for another four years. If they are reelected, the potential for more violence and massive killings in this world, caused by their warmongering ways, is too painful for me to contemplate.

I keep waiting for the punchline.....

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Pastors as Political Hacks and Pawns

Saw a news report about fundamentalist pastors urging parishioners to register to vote. Certainly seems patriotic, on the surface. It's the way they urge them to vote that's manipulative and even hypocritical for a supposedly loving Christian organization.

Many of these churches are using materials provided by, the far-right political action arm of Focus on the Family. I went to the website, and found a clever web of links that eventually leads to radical far-right Republican stances and candidates.

The clear implication is that only Republicans have values. And our pastors, no less, are clearly telling us that if we don't vote this way, we have no values. Could anything feel more damning to the faithful? Could anything be less democratic?

They say that only Republicans support the sanctity of life. (False, by the way.) And like obsessed, spoiled children trying to have their way, they insist that no other issue matters. Mind you, these are the same people who support the death penalty. The same people have no moral issue with killing 1,000 American soldiers, maiming for life tens of thousands more soldiers, and killing 13,000 Iraqi civilians on their own soil....all apparently for oil and corporate financial gain for Republican donors.

Sanctity of life, indeed. Without hesitation, this president, as governor of Texas, presided over more executions than any other public official in American history. This is the president whose adminstration ran horrifying concentration camps at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and who knows where else. The Republican stance on sanctity of life for all God-created persons is at best inconsistent and worst, offensively hypocritical and racist. It's hard to imagine a public official with less regard for sanctity of life than George Bush.

Imagine pastors, reared on all Ten of the Commandments, using devious tactics, sly smiles, haughty eyes and smooth words to seduce parishioners to vote for George Bush, who has more discretionary blood on his proverbial hands than any other President in recent decades, and under the guise of sanctity for life? (Sounds like the description of a slick attorney, not a trustworthy Christian pastor.)

The insultingly smug, judgmental arrogance that only people with values vote Republican, the party of wealth, war and status quo, reminds me of........Pharisees.

It's enough to make the faithful doubt their pastor's understanding of Jesus' words.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Kill, Take, Suppress and Tax

Before a vast assembly last Tuesday, International Day of Peace, of 94 heads of states and govenments at the United Nations' annual ringing of the Japanese peace bell, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said....

"Today, the rule of law is at risk around the world. Again and again, we see fundamental laws shamelessly disregarded---those that ordain respect for innocent life, for civilians, for the vulnerable, especially children.

In too many places, hatred, corruption, violence and exclusion go without redress. The vulnerable lack effective recourse and the powerful manipulate laws to retain power and accumulate wealth. At times, even the necessary fight against terrorism is allowed to encroach unnecessarily on civil liberties.

We need to do better in forging a true global partnership for development, to fight hunger, ignorance, poverty and disease. And we need to promote greater tolerance and understanding among the peoples of the world. Nothing can be more dangerous to our efforts to build peace and development than a world divided along religious, ethnic or cultural lines."

That is a strong, stinging indictment of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld's Kremlin-esque tactics of kill, take, suppress and tax to remake the world into their mold, all in the name of Christianity.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A Haunting, Beautiful Benediction

Steve Wright, pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Ladera Ranch, here in Orange County, California, recently included at his blog a beautiful benediction (translation for evangelicals - a blessing, usually given at the end of a worship service). He found the benediction in a Franciscan Prayer. It haunts me.....I include it here for you to also reflect upon and savor.

Steve used to be a pastor at a church we attended in Fullerton. We moved, he and Joy happens that way. Be sure to attend his start-up church if you're down his direction.

"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that, through your love, you can make a difference in this world so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen."

Monday, September 20, 2004

al Qaeda's Best Recruiting Sargeant

At an annual gathering this past weekend in Tuscany, Britain's ambassador to Italy told British and Italian senior policy makers that "If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual reelection of Bush, it's al Qaeda."

Sir Ivor Roberts elaborated, " Bush is al Qaeda's best recruiting sargeant."

Hard to argue his logic and the facts.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Lou Dobbs for Time's Man of the Year

My apologies to Lou Dobbs of CNN for not listing him as a welcome exception to my rant (below) about national broadcast news. Lou Dobbs' objective, wise and mature reporting of the news, his sense of concern and values, and especially his pioneering campaign about the massive outsourcing of American technical jobs to third world countries make him head and shoulders above any other broadcast journalist today.

Mr. Dobbs invariably displays good judgment and good taste. His frank opinions and dogged persistence have singlehandedly caused the Bush administration and corporate executives to be accountable for outsourcing, executive malfeisance, tax cuts for only the wealthiest and many more despicable business actions.

Lou Dobbs for Time's Man of the Year! Or at least Broadcaster of the Year.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Letterman Gets Kerry, Leno Gets Worried

Not a good sign for George W. when even Jay Leno, well-known moderate conservative, distances himself from the Republican party and the Bush/Cheney re-election effort. And it's even more telling that Mr. Leno realizes how important his political views are to his audience.

It's been thoroughly reported that the most influential "news" reporters of this campaign are the late night comedians....Jay Leno, David Letterman and especially Jon Stewart. I believe that's true for several reasons. First, ask most 21 year olds where they get the news. The common answer? Stewart's The Daily Show, and often, David Letterman (CBS) followed with a chaser of Conan O'Brien (NBC). They're tuning out Leno, and Craig Kilborn, Conan's CBS competitor, recently quit.

And then it was announced yesterday that John Kerry has chosen David Letterman's show, not Jay Leno's talkfest, to make a key appearance this Monday evening, Sept 20.

Another reason for late night comedy as prime new source? Big time CNN/CBS/NBC/ABC news is's endlessly infatuated with the nuances of political sheningans...and most important, it's thrown all common sense and decency out the window.

Most national newscasters will repeat any inane statement, any obviously incorrect and outright silly claim, any manipulative press release or "leaked" scoop, for ratings and to be the first with the "facts." And incredibly, they do all this with a straight face. With a few exceptions (Dan Rather of CBS, Chris Matthews of MSNBC, often Aaron Brown of CNN), the news media have become neutered lap dogs for the President and his fear-mongering circle. Several times this political season, CNN has leaked a White House "scoop" only to be later embarrasssed when the "facts" were inaccurate. CNN got used like a common streetwalker.

Dan Rather...look at the hell he's taking for investigating info before rotely repeating the dictated, unsupported "facts." And Chris Matthews got insulted and challenged to a honest-to-God duel by a cranky scary old man, Senator Zell Miller, who is unused to being asked probing questions by reporters.

A prime example of biased, boring political lapdog reporting is not-so-closeted Republican Judy Woodruff of CNN's Inside Politics. She is clearly CNN's stealth response to Fox' huge ratings success with conservatives. She drones on endlessly about irrelevant political details. She is singularly responsible for bringing up the Swift Boat for Truth charges over and over and over ad naseum, long after the charges were proved false, sick and dead. Her actual words about Kerry on the maligning of his combat patriotism? "John Kerry didn't handle the Swift Boat charges well." A conservative-tinged, pro-Bush political answer that had nothing to do with truth, common sense, morality or substance. Candy Crowley is far more competent that Ms. Woodruff, but possesses less of a "TVQ" appearance, and holds little appeal for the Fox News conservative crowd.

Jon Stewart, David Letterman and Conan O'Brien tell the truth. Their words have the ring of authenticity and all-American common sense. They call it like it is, and like we know it is. And truth often hurts , so they make us laugh. We laugh, we laugh hard, because they help us realize the ridiculousness of it all, they put the obvious into words, and they bring us much-needed tension relief.

So Jay Leno, known opinion-silent middle-of-the-roader, close friend of Republican California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is worried. He's losing his audience and he lost the ratings-bonanza Kerry guest appearance, so he gave an interview this week to LA Weekly newspaper.

"Jay Leno says, 'I'm not conservative. I've never voted that way in my life.' He believes 'the wool was pulled over our eyes' with the Iraq war. He thinks the White House began using terrorism 'as a crutch.' after 9/11. He feels that during the campaign, Kerry should 'make Bush look as stupid as possible.' He believes 'the media is in the pocket of the government, and they don't do their job' so 'you have to have people like Michael Moore who do it for them.' He (currently) has on his joke-writing staff a number of former professional speechwriters for Democratic candidates. 'No Republicans.' "

Not a good sign for George W. Not for national broadcast news, either.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Shameless and Shameful

Fascinating that the Bush team says the CBS documents are forgeries....but they never say that the info is inaccurate. Never.

They haven't threatened to sue...they haven't denied the info....and they refuse to discuss details of Bush's National Guard duty, performance or evaluations.

They keep chanting the mantra that the documents are forgeries, which of course, is unprovable. By repeating it over and over, they believe the gullible American public will assume the charges are therefore wrong.

Exactly the same strategy that they shockingly still use to link the 9-11 terrorists with Saddam Hussein. They say it over and over and over, all the while knowing that there is no link. They're purposely playing word games. Imagine how stupid they think we are.

It's shamelessly cynical and dishonest of the Bush/Cheney team to intentionally mislead the public once again. It's tragic and shameful for the United States that it can't trust its president to tell the truth, even on matters 35 years old.

And all this when they had the audacity to denigrate a decorated war combat veteran who chose to serve his country.

Almost unimaginable. Almost.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Everyday Ways to Love Your Country

Here are a few everyday ways to love your country, regardless of your political views....

- Sign an online petition
- Speak out online
- Email your elected representatives
- Vote, no matter what
- Get your family and co-workers to vote, no matter what
- Read more, watch TV news less
- Write a Letter to the Editor
- Start a political book club
- Volunteer to be a precinct worker on election day
- Get a socially responsible day job
- Serve your community

--- Excerpts from "50 Ways to Love Your Country - How to Find Your Political Voice and Become a Catalyst for Change" by, 2004.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

American Healing

Today is the third anniversary of our collective awareness of our vulnerability...of the day we realized that our beloved country is part of the mortal world and not a mythic land with special protection by the forces of Good from harm.

The reality was a horrible shock. It still hurts to view film of the second plane flying into the World Trade Center tower. The pain is searing to watch and hear the towers crumbling to the ground. Of course, we grieve for the 3,000 lives lost that day. But we've grieved other massive loss of lives, and eventually moved on, national mental health intact.

We grieved more than lost lives on September 11. We grieved...we continue to grieve...that our nation is not above the rest of the world. We feel personally violated that our country was attacked, rather like a woman must feel after rape. We continue to be incensed that the American Way is not universally admired. Many rage that Islamic radicals don't comprehend the Essential Goodness and Rightness of the US view of the world.

John Kennedy, Jr never perceived his vulnerability to misread the grey horizon of a cloudy sunset. He assumed he was above making pilot errors. As a result of his aviation arrogance, he flew his plane to the bottom of the cold Atlantic Ocean.

I spent a few weeks on business in the Philippines in 1986. It was my first extended trip to a third world country, and only trip to a country long torn by violent insurgency. In the Makati, which is an affluent area of Manila, all homes had surrounding walls and security entrances. No winding driveways, flowered yards or knockable front doors. Armed guards stood in shopping centers and patrolled the roadsides. Life went on, though. War is an event. This was a permanent heightened state of alert, not an event. A new way of life, conscious of realities.

I was there with four other Americans to teach a company training course to several hundred young Thai and Fillipino accountants. We taught the two-week course at a campus built by former President Marcos outside Manila. The well-appointed site was set in lush tropical countryside, graced with frothy palm trees waving in warm trade breezes.

And a barbed wire, electrified fence. The five of us were told to enjoy ourselves. Just one thing...don't go outside that fence. If you do, we can't guarantee your safety.

We were vulnerable outside our isolated oasis. (Looking back, we were probably vulnerable inside our oasis.) Our hosts penetrated our American veneer of arrogance, and awakened us to common vulnerability. We were not made untouchable by a magical aura of Betterness. Our self-righteousness would not protect us from harm.

In fact, it can lead to our downfall. It can lead us to step outside the fence and be kidnapped. It can lead us to fly to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. And it can lead a nation to disrespect, abuse and exploit other cultures and countries.

Today, as we grieve the terrible events of September 11, 2001, we have every right to feel violated and angry over the loss of life and property, over the horrific disruption of our lives and economy.

But it's also time to stand back and examine our own attitudes. How did we help fuel the anger of the attackers? Why does the entire world, including all longtime US allies, believe that our arrogance contributed to our problems today? It's time to take responsibility for our self-righteous snobbery in regard to other countries, other cultures, other peoples.

Our country will heal and move forward in wise humility from our present national state of paranoia, self-pitying rage and hatred of others different from us only when we accept in our hearts that "God so loved the world," (John 3:16), not just the United States.

We will collectively heal when we start examining the plank in our eye. Yes, three years ago, attackers murdered 3,000 people on our soil. Did you know that on August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb we dropped on Hiroshima, Japan instantly killed 80,000 people, and that another 60,000 died within months from related injuries? 140,000 mothers and fathers, children, friends, co-workers, loved ones...just like the 3,000 we lost.

"How can you say to your brother 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck in your brother's eye." (Luke 6:42)

And in response to the evil attacks three years ago, we would do well to remember the sacred words....

"Do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:17-21)

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Bush and the Wealth-Challenged , By the Numbers

"Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people."
---- Isaiah 10:1-2

34,600,000 - Number of Americans living below the poverty line (1 in 8)

6,800,000 - Number of Americans in the workforce but still classified as poor

$300,000,000 - Amount cut from the federal program that provides subsidies to poor US families so they can heat their homes

40 - Percentage of wealth in the US held by the richest 1 percent of citizens

18 - Percentage of wealth in Britian held by the richest 1 percent of citizens

9,300,000 - Number of US unemployed in April 2004

2,300,000 - Number of American who lost their jobs, net of job gains, in the 1st 3 years of the Bush administration

22,000,000 - Number of Americans jobs gained, net of job losses, during Clinton's 8 years in office

39 - Percentage of tax cuts that will go to the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans, when cuts are fully phased in.

49 - Percentage of Americans in April 2004 who found out that their taxes had actually gone up since Bush took office.

$30,858 - Amount Bush himself saved on taxes in 2003.

$42,000 - Average savings members of Bush's cabinet received in 2003 as a result of tax cuts in capital gains and dividend taxes.

43,600,000 - Number of Americans without health insurance by the end of 2002 (more than 15 percent of the US population)

2,400,000 - Number of Americans who lost their health insurance during Bush's first year in office

--- Courtesy of Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief for the past 2 years of Vanity Fair magazine, from his book What We Lost, which is being published this week.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Bush and America the Beautiful , By the Numbers

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Genesis 2:15

George Bush, photo-op outdoorsman and hero of outdoorsmen, has compiled a fascinating record on environmental issues and care of our beautiful, beloved land and God's world. This is a small sampling of the facts....

$44 million - Amount the Bush/Cheney 2000 campaign and the RNC received in contributions from the fossil fuel, chemical, timber and mining industries.

200 - Number of regulation rollbacks during Bush 1st 3 years in office, downgrading existing environmental laws

50 - Number of those rollbacks made after 5 PM on a Friday, making it all but impossible for news organizations to report it to a wide audience.

50 - Percentage decline in EPA enforcement actions against polluters under Bush's watch

50 - Percentage decline in civil penalties for environmental crimes since Bush took office

62 - Number of members of Cheney's 63-member Energy Task Force with direct ties to corporate energy interests

0 - Number of environmentalists asked to attend Cheney's Energy Task Force meetings

31 - Number of Bush administration high-level appointees who are alumni of the corporate energy industry (includes 4 cabinet secretaries and the 6 most powerful White House officials)

25 - Percentage of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions the US is responsible for.

14 - Percentage carbon dioxide emissions will increase over the next 10 years under Bush's own global warming plan

24,000 - Estimated number of premature deaths that will occur under Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative.

750,000 - Tons of toxic waste the US miitary, the world's biggest polluter, generates around the world each year.

300 - Estimated number of court decisions citing federal gov'l negligence in endangered-species protection that remained unheeded during Bush's 1st year in office.

100 - Percentage of those court decisions that Bush allowed the gov't to indefinitely ignore.

1 - The rank of the US worldwide in greenhouse gas emissions

5 - Percentage of the world's population in the US

25 - Percentage of the world's oil used by the US

--- Courtesy of Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief for the past 12 years of Vanity Fair magazine,from his book What We've Lost, which is being published this week.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Heart Disease as Political Opportunity

President Bush issued a press release today to tell the world that he and Mrs. Bush called former President Bill Clinton to wish him well in his upcoming quadruple heart bypass surgery. (He had heart disease symptoms, but no heart attack.) This, after Bush inventively and cruelly blamed Mr. Clinton this week for causing the crippling US deficit (a hefty surplus when Mr. Clinton left office less than 4 years ago) and being the root cause of the US missing/neglecting al-Qaida anger.

Never one to miss out on shameless political exploitation, VP Dick Cheney issued a press release today to notify the voting public that he also called Clinton to wish him well, and to share his experiences about his 4 heart attacks and his quadruple bypass surgery many years ago. (Political translation - If Bill deserves sympathy, so does Dick...OR...we can do anything you can do, but we do it better.)

Here's my question...would Bush and Cheney have called Mr. Clinton if they couldn't issue press releases to American voters about their proferred compassion?

Voice of Reason from Moderate Minnesota

Please invest a few minutes to read excerpts from a clear-thinking Sept 4, 2004 lead editorial by the moderate-to-conservative midwestern newspaper, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"One needn't deny Bush's appropriate firmness in attacking Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan soon after 9/11 to assert that he almost immediately lost his way in the struggle against terrorism. He squandered international support and diverted the Pentagon's energies to a misplaced war against Iraq. He did so on poor advice from ideologues and frothy intelligence that utterly misjudged Saddam Hussein's capabilities. Iraq had no ties to 9/11. It had no weapons of mass destruction. In short, Saddam posed no terroristic threat to the United States.

Meanwhile, Al-Qaida remained, and remains today, a menace whose leader is still at large. Americans receive vague 'orange alerts' attesting to its continued threat to homeland security. Ports, energy supplies and transportation systems remain vulnerable for lack of federal attention. And Iraq? Long after Bush declared 'mission accomplished,' US forces face land mines and truck bombs, religious extremeists and political assassins. It's far from clear that Iraq will soon become the Mideast beacon of democracy that he envisions....

At home, Bush kept his promise to cut taxes. In doing so. he got little in the way of economic stimulus but went a very long way toward building unprecedented and unsustainable debt loads. Making those tax cuts permanent, as he proposed, would make impossible any substantial effort to bolster the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, which already face known shortages as baby boomers retire. That's before taking into account his plan to divert part of the payroll tax from Social Security to set up individual accounts. It's before spending money the gov't doesn't have on the long list of new programs he proposed....

In short, Geoerge W. Bush argued that he is the leader to depend on for security---national and economic. But it was an argument of assertion, unsupported by indicators of either physical safety or budget numbers that add up.

He did not, and cannot, stand on his case of attacking Iraq, nor can he point to a satisfactory outcome--in Iraq or his war on terror. National security requires that the struggle against terrorism focus on Al-Qaida and its shadowy linkages around the world---and that it be international in effort and scope.

As for economic security, Bush's plans are wildly contradictory; his tax cuts have placed the United States in long-term economic jeopardy---even as he proposed to 'reform' Social Security and Medicare.

If Bush is to craft a campaign that will appeal to more than his GOP delegates, the president will have to deal with the reality of his trumped-up Iraq war abroad and his insupportable tax cuts at home."


Friday, September 03, 2004

Bush 2004 & Bush 2000 - Startling Deterioration

After Bush's tepid, mediocre acceptance speech last night, C-SPAN 2 reran Mr. Bush's acceptance speech from the GOP 2000 convention. Ron and I watched in fascination....believe it or not. (I know...gads, what a boring life.)

Fascination because of the marked differences between Bush 2004 and Bush 2000. It was like we were watching a different person.

In 2000, Bush was focused and forceful....appropriately presidential. He pronouced words with precision, and spoke them with controlled passion. He rarely smiled, say for the occasional mild gesture. He made promises galore, of course, virtually none of which he actually addressed in ensuing years. But he seemed mature, reliable and alert. He stood tall and held his head high. His seeming maturity must have felt like nirvana after the sleazy personal irresponsibilites of Clinton. We understood why we voted for Bush in 2000.

The contrast to his 2004 speech demeanor is startling. Last night, he smirked continually....he slumped over...his eyes often looked blank and uncomprehending in comparison to 2000. He gave the impression of an aging, worn rush chairman at his fraternity reunion, not an experienced international leader. Most of all, he lacked his focus of 2000. He lacked physical and especially mental focus. You have to see the two speeches to understand the depth of deterioriation.

Ron and I looked at each other with the same shocking George Bush drinking again? If not, what happened or what's he taking?