A blog by an American expatriate living in the heart of New Europe

"It's a lateral transfer" -- George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Bush's Credibility Issue, Part 4: Military Service

CNN.com:White House Releases New Bush Document

Surprise, surprise. . .
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House said seven months ago that it had released all the records on President Bush's stateside military service during the Vietnam War, yet new records are still dribbling out as Election Day approaches.

The White House on Wednesday night produced a November 1974 document bearing Bush's signature from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was attending Harvard Business School, saying he had decided not to continue as a member of the military reserve.

The document, signed a year after Bush left the Texas Air National Guard, said he was leaving the military because of 'inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the resignation was found in connection with a lawsuit brought by The Associated Press. The White House said the document had been in Bush's personnel file and that it had been found by the Pentagon.
Found?? Does anyone out there believe for one second that the Pentagon didn't know where these records were? We're talking about the President of the United States. It was in his personnel file! What, did they forget to look there?
Earlier Wednesday, the White House said Bush never was disciplined while serving in the Texas Air National Guard, never failed a physical and never asked his father or family friends for help to get him into the Guard.
Never failed the physical, because he never showed up for it-- It's well documented.

And, if he wasn't disciplined for missing this physical (which in turn disqualified him from serving his tour in Alabama)--
The Texas Air National Guard stripped Bush of his pilot status in August 1972 for failing to take the annual medical exam required of all pilots.
--then I assume he was a very rare case. The military disciplines such negligence, and I suspect they did so in his case as well. Democrats do too:
Democrats question why Bush was never punished for skipping a required medical examination or missing drills for six months in 1972.
If he never was punished, then Mr. Bush certainly received:

Special treatment-- I wasn't around during the Vietnam War, so I don't know. But from what I've heard from people who were around, the only way for anybody to get into the National Guard was to get help from a friend in a high place (and W. certainly had many of those). Perhaps he didn't specifically ask anybody for help, but if your father was CIA director, and you were about to be drafted into a quagmire like Vietnam, wouldn't you expect it?
AP asked whether Bush ever participated in a disciplinary process during his Guard service, whether he ever received a critical report or was ever present for a conversation in which his performance, conduct or physical condition were raised by a superior officer.

"No and this is clear from the president's records, which have been made public," the White House said in an e-mail response.
That is, of course, it's clear from the documents we know about. Certainly, more will be "dribbling out." I wonder what documents will be "found" next.

  • After the White House said that they had released all of Bush's National Guard Documents, do you believe that the Pentagon has just now miraculously "found" these?

  • Do you believe that Bush didn't want or ask for help to get out of Vietnam?
  • Do you believe that Bush fulfilled his obligations, when the National guard stripped him of his pilot status, after which he promptly resigned for because of "inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments?"

  • Look, Dan Rather or no, the White House has been pulling your chain about Bush's National Guard service. They just plain lied about releasing all of his documents, and they're lying now because --Gustav's bold prediction-- more documents will turn up later.

    And no, it doesn't really matter whether Bush skipped out on his Guard service or not. We should all vote on the issues of this election, which is occurring in 2004, not 1974.

    But here's a 2004 issue for you: When the Bush camp is saying that we can't trust Kerry, please ask yourself if you can trust this secretive and misleading administration. Despite what those slimy (and ironically named) Swift Boat Veterans for Truth say, we know that John Kerry served in Vietnam, honorably, saving a fellow soldier's life and sustaining several injuries in the process.

    The Swift Boat Veterans dismiss these injuries as minor.

    What injuries did W. receive? Well, he was serving on American soil, then working on a political campaign, and then attending Harvard, so probably none. But we'll never know, since he didn't even show up for a routine medical exam. My guess is that the most intense pain Bush endured during his time in the National Guard were some killer hangovers-- over at Harvard Business School.

    I don't believe ya, Dubya. And neither will the American public.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2004

    There's No Place Like Home

    The Lone Star Iconoclast, the newspaper in Bush's hometown of Crawford, TX, has endorsed Kerry-Edwards. Here's the link to the endorsement. If you want to see a concise list of the ways America is worse off after 4 years of the Bush presidency, just read the first paragraph. Can we afford 4 more years?

    Today's Electoral-Vote.com shows Kerry making a comeback. We can't trust any numbers from Florida, because the difference is so small, we don't know how hurricanes will effect voting, and the electons standards there are a complete debacle anyway. But Pennsylvania (21 EV's) is back in Kerry country, and Ohio (20) is back in play. Iowa (7) seems to be coming back to its senses, it's doubtful New Mexico (5) and Maine (4) will turn on us. Minnesota (10) and Maryland (12) will almost certainly go for Kerry, and I still believe there's an upset brewing in libertarian-minded Colorado (9). Even if Kerry doesn't win the state, there's a distinct possibility that he'll get 4 E.V.'s as a result of the referendum. I don't believe it will be as close as shown in Washington (11), and we have an excellent chance to snag a 2000 Bush state in New Hampshire (4).

    In disturbing Bush-vote-tampering news: There is a delay in sending out some absentee ballots from some states (including Michigan). Take a look at today's New York Times article. I am personally and directly affected by this. I haven't gotten my ballot yet, and 2 years ago it came a over month before election day-- there's still time, but this news makes me nervous. If my vote isn't counted, there will be hell to pay! Question: Why is online absentee voting registration going through the Pentagon?? Would you trust Donald "Well, if we can't have elections in some parts of the country, tough, that's life" Rumsfeld with your voter-registration application? I also just love the bit about a new website making absentee ballots instantly available to members of the military (overwhelmingly Republican) but not to the rest of us expats (overwhelmingly Democratic).

    What have you done to my beloved Democracy, Dubya? Cheater.

    P.S. Check out this excellent cartoon. Especially for those of you who think that Bush's Cowboy Diplomacy makes America safer.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2004

    Bush's Credibility Issue, Part 3: Tax Cuts

    Monday, September 27, 2004

    When George Bush says his tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are beneficial to the poorest Americans. . .

    I don't have time to write a long blog today. Fortunately, The Detroit News has helped me out:

    Exclusive Report: Tax Cut Impact
    Home rehab cutbacks leave poor in shambles
    Millions struggle: Tax cut benefits outweighed by cost of shabby housing.
    By Ronald J. Hansen, and Melvin Claxton / The Detroit News

    BOSTON — A panic-stricken Maribel Colon rushed her daughter Kyara to the emergency room after the 2-year-old kept tugging her ear and crying uncontrollably.

    Doctors treating Kyara quickly made a disturbing discovery: A cockroach had burrowed into the little girl’s ear and was trapped there.

    It wasn’t the first time. Four months earlier, doctors removed another cockroach from inside Kyara’s ear.

    Colon, who lived in Boston’s crumbling, roach-infested Maverick Gardens housing project, had seen enough. Shortly after the incident, she and her daughter moved out.

    That was three years ago.

    Today, the 64-year-old Maverick Gardens is being torn down and rebuilt under the Hope VI program, which uses a combination of federal and private money to rehabilitate troubled public housing projects.

    But Hope VI, which has spent more than $5 billion on 193 housing developments since 1993, is being eliminated by the Bush administration. It is one of several programs for the poor that the administration froze, scaled back or eliminated to trim costs while passing $600 billion in tax cuts that went primarily to those who earn more than $288,800 a year.

    America’s working poor have seen their tax cut benefits eclipsed by the cuts in services that helped them climb from poverty. Many of the affected programs are essential elements of welfare-to-work initiatives.

    Federal housing programs are especially critical for Americans in poverty and the working poor, who often find it difficult to pay for shelter without assistance. Public housing is hardly a free ride for tenants, whose rent payments cover anywhere from 35 to 65 percent of housing authorities’ operating budgets.

    Often, what they pay for are apartments in decades-old buildings riddled with structural problems. Hope VI, with its focus on razing complexes and replacing them with modern units, targets the worst of public housing.

    Detroit has lost more than 6,000 of its 11,000 units in the last decade.

    The result has been a long list of people — waiting longer and longer — to get into public housing. In Detroit, there are 9,000 people on the waiting list for public housing.

    Under President Bush, funding for the program has fallen from $570 million in 2001 to $149 million this year — a 74 percent drop. And although Congress has extended the program for at least the next two years, the administration again has asked for no money to fund it next year.

    While Hope VI has not always created as many low-income units as it tears down, it remains the only comprehensive rehabilitation program for public housing. And many of the nation’s housing projects clearly need an extreme makeover.

    At least 66,000 of the 1.2 million public housing units are in such disrepair that local housing authorities consider them “severely distressed.” These units, in crumbling buildings with dangerously decaying infrastructure, are barely habitable, if at all.

    In New Orleans, for example, inspectors for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development noted in 2001 that existing structures were so bad that if their buildings were privately owned, the agency could seek criminal charges against the landlord.

    Given the age of many projects and their lack of upkeep, the state of disrepair should surprise few.

    More than half of all public housing projects are at least 20 years old. One-third of them are more than 40 years old.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates it will take about $22 billion to catch up on a backlog of repairs in public housing. That’s roughly the amount the Bush administration is giving up in the first five years of cuts in the estate tax, which only the richest 2 percent of the population pays upon their death.

    The federal government traditionally has been stingy with capital improvement money for housing projects. Under the Bush administration, it is even more so.

    The current capital budget of $2.7 billion is $300 million a year less than when Bush took office in 2001. The cut is even more significant when inflation and rising material and labor costs are factored in.

    At current funding levels, it would take at least 58 years to clear up the backlog of needed repairs, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works on housing issues for the poor.

    Allowing structural problems to linger also means fixing them will cost more in the long run, say housing authority officials.

    In the meantime, the 3 million Americans who pay in excess of $1 billion a year to live in federally subsidized housing must wait for much-needed renovations.

    Andrea Foster, a 52-year-old resident of the Brewster- Douglass public housing complex in Detroit for the past four years, knows well what that means.

    One of the two elevators in the 15-story building has been out of service for months. Foster, who needs hip and knee surgery, said she has waited three months to move from her seventh-floor apartment into a third-floor unit. She said officials still need to repair ceiling damage to that unit.

    Foster, who gets around on a scooter, pays $160 monthly rent from her $564 Social Security check. She also receives $42 in quarterly assistance from Michigan.

    “You would think that it was a million dollars. It is so helpful,” Foster said. “It’s a shame $42 could uplift you so much.”

    Competing needs

    Faced with funding that hasn’t kept pace with needs, housing officials around the country have raided their already bare-bones capital improvement budgets to meet state and federal regulations and pay for day-to-day operations.

    That is the case in Boston, where the housing authority has shifted 10 percent of its capital funds to operations since 2002.

    Sandra Henriquez, executive director of the authority, says this means that repairs are delayed or put off entirely. Before the authority can make improvements to its housing units, Henriquez must ensure that units pass state housing codes and that underground oil storage tanks meet environmental rules.

    These are “jailable offenses,” she said, which means they take precedence in her capital budget. She also must make at least 5 percent of her units accessible for the handicapped.

    This alone will cost $35 million over the next five years, Henriquez said.

    “Right now, I’m as lean as possible,” she said.

    The shortage of affordable housing in the Boston area is a virtual epidemic.

    There are 31,000 people on the waiting list for subsidized housing.

    It is the same around the country, where the number of available public housing units has fallen by 100,000 over the past 10 years.

    There are hundreds of thousands of people on waiting lists across the country. The lists include those trying to get into public housing as well as those waiting for rental subsidies for private apartments.

    HUD stopped keeping a tally of wait times in 1998. Back then, the average wait was 11 months, with people in places like Detroit waiting for up to 10 years.

    Known needs

    With the rent on the private market often beyond the reach of many low-income Americans, millions depend on public housing.

    “Nobody wants to live in public housing,” said Meena Carr, who lives in an apartment in Boston’s Washington-Beech housing project with her daughter and two grandchildren. “But when you can’t afford to pay the kind of rent out there, you have no choice.”

    Carr’s daughter, Arlene, works 76 hours a week — after recently taking a second job. She said even with the increased salary, renting in Boston’s private housing market would consume more than half her income.

    “You work so hard to get ahead,” said the 39-year-old Arlene. “But your money just goes in bills.”

    It is hard to exaggerate the problem.

    The number of Americans who spend more than half their income on housing, or live in substandard housing, has jumped from 7.2 million to 14 million over the past two decades.

    Especially vulnerable are the elderly, disabled and families with children.

    A million children live in public housing. And more than half of all public housing residents are elderly or disabled.

    Half of housing project residents make less than $10,200 — a figure that places them in poverty. Many say without public housing, they would be in serious jeopardy of being homeless.

    Praise for Hope VI

    Even as Hope VI is phased out, many are touting its successes.

    In 2000, Hope VI won an Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The award honors exemplary achievements in government problem solving.

    In Houston, officials are completing work on the Historic Oaks of Allen Parkway Village using Hope VI funds.

    “Hope VI was a fabulous program,” said David Zappasodi, deputy director of administration for the Houston Housing Authority. “It was a catalyst in the Allen Park community. It is a beautiful community.”

    In Chicago, one of the nation’s most notorious housing projects, the Cabrini-Green high-rise, was demolished and replaced with attractive town houses.

    The same is true of Atlanta’s Villages at East Lake, a project so crime-ridden and dilapidated that tenants and police once called it Little Vietnam. Today, it is a mixed-income community of town houses.

    In Seattle, Hope VI money is being used to replace 893 damaged units at the New Holly housing project. The new development includes 968 low-income units and a mix of 465 market-rate apartments and homes.

    In Philadelphia, $140 million in Hope VI money is being used to rehabilitate the Mill Creek, Richard Allen, Schuylkill Falls and Martin Luther King Plaza housing developments.

    The Detroit Housing Commission is embarking on one of the largest Hope VI projects in the country. More than $24 million in Hope VI funds is being used in the commission’s proposed $250 million to $300 million redevelopment of Herman Gardens, on Detroit’s west side.

    The 2,144-unit Herman Gardens high-rise, which was razed several years ago, will be replaced with 920 mixed-income town houses. Construction on the 139-acre project, slated to begin next year, was approved for Hope VI funding in 1996.

    Before it was demolished, the more than 50-year-old project was riddled with problems and less than 25 percent occupied, said Damon Duncan, the Detroit Housing Commission’s director of Hope VI.

    Maverick’s hope

    Ruth Capone, president of the Maverick Gardens Tenants Association, is a third-generation resident of the project. She has lived there 40 years.

    When lawmakers in Washington cut funding for public housing, she sees firsthand what it means.

    Capone hears the complaints: cockroaches, drug dealing, wall tiles falling on children while they bathe. The tighter housing budget means there is no longer on-site maintenance for the aging buildings.

    “When all the funding stopped, all the services stopped, too,” Capone said. “We got hit double.”

    She said workers tearing down the existing structures have found traces of lead and asbestos, toxic substances that were supposed to have been removed
    years ago. Both were routinely used in the construction of older projects.

    Hope VI at least offers a needed change.

    The new structures will have 368 units. A quarter of the new neighbors are working-class and can bring a more stable environment to the crime-ridden complex.

    The new buildings have better heat, better cooling and offer residents simple comforts like their own front door.

    Capone knows she and residents of Maverick Gardens are among the lucky ones. At least 66,000 public housing units nationwide are still classified as severely distressed.

    “It’s about quality of life,” Capone said, standing between the new buildings and the old. “We don’t deserve to live like this.”

    Read it on the Detroit News's webpage at:

    Special Report - Tax Cut Impact

    Also, please read
  • Estate-tax loss will punch hole in budget

  • Horse owners can write off $100,000

  • Thousands wait for years to get help with rent

  • Highly touted crime-fighting tool axed

  • Working poor suffer under Bush tax cuts

  • Pinch blocks rise from poverty

  • Meals on Wheels pares back from hot food to frozen

  • Poor juggle bills as heat aid dries up
  • George Bush says that his tax cuts for the ultra-rich are a part of his "Compassionate Conservative" program to help the poor help themselves. After reading this, do you believe him?

    Friday, September 24, 2004

    Bush’s Credibility Issue, Part 2: Sudan and Iran.

    As many of you know, Foreign Policy is my favorite issue, so it’s no surprise that I couldn’t stay away from it. Of course, I couldn’t cover it in one nice neat entry either. No no, I’ll take the opportunity to be long winded about this one. Bush’s Foreign Policy is the gift that keeps on giving.

    In case you’ve just woken up from your Rove-induced hypnosis, let me update you on some world affairs. There’s a terrible crisis happening in the Darfur region of Sudan, where thousands of people are dying every day of starvation. This is happening because the Government of Sudan (GoS) has paid a motley crew of armed bandits called “the Janjaweed” to kill, rape, pillage, and destroy everything in the region. The people of Darfur are ethnically African, hence of a different ethnicity than most members of the GoS (who are mostly Arab). The women and children of the region (nearly all the men are dead) have fled to the farthest reaches of Western Sudan and to Chad. Refugee camps have been constructed, and they live there. Trouble is, no relief efforts with food (or medicine, or anything else) can get in to resupply these camps, because the Janjaweed are not letting them get through. The United States Congress has declared that the situation in Darfur amounts to genecide.

    In such a situation, even the most pacifist of us could be in favor of at least sending troops to escort said relief efforts, ensuring that they reach their destination safely. Those of us who are a bit more hawkish, might find this reason for war. After all, America can’t just stand idly by while genocide is being committed. We have gone to war to stop genocide in other regions. Why not Sudan?

    Because our military has been stretched too far of course. No one in their right mind would suggest full military intervention in a place such as Sudan right now. We’ve got our hands full with Iraq alone—let alone the situation in Afghanistan.

    But let’s just do a thought experiment for a moment:

    The U.S. never went to war in Iraq. Weapons inspectors were given time to do a thorough search for WMD. Perhaps they are still there, making sure on a continuous basis that WMD are not being produced.

    Due to insecurity in Afghanistan, the U.S. increased troop numbers there, allowing it to secure cities other than Kabul only. Afghanistan has been made much safer, and the upcoming elections look to produce successful results. Because of this very responsible move, Osama Bin Laden has been captured.

    What would the American public say to major troop involvement in Sudan? What would Republicans say?

    Surely, there would be resistance to military action—there always is. But there would certainly be less than there had been to the Iraq War, since there is a clear cause and a clear objective. There is, this time, a smoking gun.

    Republican leaders who now are stressing caution and a need for regional troops to do the dirty work in Sudan —a near impossibility due to the disorganization of most African militaries, not to mention governments (additionally, many African states are involved in other conflicts, and can’t spare the troops)— would instead insist on military action as soon as possible, seeing as human rights are being violated and the Government of Sudan has supported terrorists in the past.

    Then, in our thought experiment, couldn’t we expect a great groundswell of support in the U.S. and in other countries to take action in Sudan RIGHT NOW (or even several weeks ago)? Since we wouldn’t have all the troops pinned down in Iraq, military action would be conceiveable. Since we hadn’t cooled relations toward us throughout the world, countries would be willing to join us. Since this would be a multi-troop effort (I imagine NATO action) the population there would not believe that the U.S. was trying to occupy them or turn them into a colony. Since they would be saved from immediate, life-threatening oppression the population really would greet the troops with open arms. This would be an endeavor that could show what the U.S. really stands for. An opportunity for the U.S. to really lead the world, to be an example.

    Sadly, the U.S. is in a position to do no such thing. The Iraq endeavor has plunged us into a quagmire that will take years to get out of. And not only has it ruined our standing among other countries in the world, it has handicapped us. It has made us impotent in the face of the worlds biggest crisis.

    Which leads to the possibility for another crisis—in Iran.

    The government of Iran has refused to give in to U.N. demands that it halt uranium enrichment. Enriching uranium is what you do if you want to make nuclear bombs. Why hasn’t the Iranian government backed down? Surely the international community would be threatening heavy repercussions if Iran didn’t stop such action immediately.

    Sadly, it isn’t.

    Why not? Because no one is willing to provoke Iran at the moment. No country has the economic or military capability to stand up to Iran—except the U.S.

    But once again, the U.S. can’t threaten any action, because George W. Bush has made the U.S. impotent. Iran can feel free to flout U.N. resolutions, since it knows there won’t be any repercussions.

    And that’s why, on Sudan and Iran, George Bush has no credibility. When he claims that we have gone into Iraq because it’s part of the wider war on terror and for greater moral reasons, we can find that Sudan has established links with Al-Qaeda, and is committing human atrocities on a much grosser scale than Saddam Hussein was. After all, the U.S. Congress never declared that genocide was occurring in Iraq. When he says that we had to go into Iraq to show that U.N. resolutions must be obeyed, we see how that war made it impossible to enforce U.N. resolutions in both Sudan and Iran which require much more urgency.

    Of course, both of these crises occurred after the start of the Iraq war, so how could we have known?

    We couldn’t have. But these types of crises are not new—they happen in one form or another, in one country or another, quite often. While we can’t predict the next crisis, we can expect our leaders to put our troops into danger ONLY when it’s absolutely necessary. And we can expect them to hold to their statements about protecting democracy, freedom and human rights.

    Otherwise, the consequences are instability, impotence, and a lack of credibility when real crises occur.

    And these are the consequences that the U.S. and the rest of the world are paying because of Bush’s war in Iraq.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    Bush’s Credibility Issue, Part 1: Iraq

    I’ve been informed that, believe it or not, I actually have an audience (on two continents no less!). I tell you, this blog is really going places. I’d like to thank everybody for visiting the page. For those of you who are Kerry supporters, I hope you find an articulate formualtion of your opinions here. For you Bush supporters, thank you for participating in a spirited, coherent dialogue. I don’t pull any punches, but my goal is not viciousness. Please comment, I like to hear (new) arguments from the other side too. For you undecideds, I hope this column can convince you. Either way, make sure to vote on November 2nd. This is an election for the history books boys and girls. Let’s make sure as many Americans as possible have their opportunity to participate. These folks here in Europe think our democracy is a travesty with such low voter turnouts. Charleton Heston doesn’t waste his right to have a loaded gun in his house (even though he can think of no good reason to have one), so let’s not waste our most fundamental right: the right to self-determination.

    In solidarity with Kerry, I’ve decided to stop criticizing and pouting about the polls and the electoral-vote predictions. While his campaign is still a bit more negative than I’d like to see, Kerry (as in the primaries) seems to be regaining new energy just as people are starting to count him out. He's trying to get his message out, and since pretty much all I can do from my desk here in Warsaw is write this blog, I’m gonna use it to amplify (and clarify) Kerry’s message.

    I’ve decided to start a series on Bush’s credibility. The Kerry team thinks that this is where Bush is vulnerable, and they’re right.

    Fundamentally, the flip-flopper argument is an argument about credibility. The Bush team keep harping on the fact that Kerry may have changed his mind because if he changed his mind once, he may do it again—and how can we believe someone who just might change his mind?

    For the utter hypocrisy in this argument coming from Bush, please see the previous entry “Bush Flip-Flops”. Today, I’d like to examine whether we can believe anything Bush says—strong leader or not. (Do you believe Vladimir Putin? Remember that he too, is a “strong leader”— the Russian people consistently view him as such.)

    The logical way to begin such a series is by diving into the mother of all issues in this campaign: Iraq. (Please remember that this is the issue that Bush sees as most important. Kerry says it’s the Economy.)

    After the weapons-of-mass-destruction fiasco, George Bush should have alreday lost all credibility on Iraq. Bush likes to brush off this criticism by proclaiming that everyone thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Yet the weapons inspectors had voiced their skepticism about Iraq WMD plenty of times, and nothing had come of their cooperation with the State Department. Bush continued to ignore them.

    It seems he did have reason to pause before starting a war that has already cost thousands of lives.

    But if you needed any further reason not to believe him, it came a few days ago when (Bush-victim-turned-Bush-supporter) John McCain said that Bush hasn’t been “as straight as maybe we'd like to see” on the Iraq issue. This is in response to a new classified National Intelligence Estimate which claims that the most likely scenario resulting from the war in Iraq is civil war. Bush and his team had continuously insisted that Iraq was on the right track, and had disparaged journalists for not covering the positive stories there. The document’s exact contents are unclear, because Bush won’t de-classify it. Interestingly, according to the International Herald Tribune (September 17th ; www.iht.com), he quite willingly declassified National Intelligence Estimates which in the past seemed to be pointing to a rosy outcome in Iraq. Several members of the Senate, both Republican and Democrat, have criticized Mr. Bush for misleading the American Public about the situation in Iraq. For more on bi-partisan criticism of Bush’s talking-up of the situation in Iraq, check out this CNN.com report: http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/09/19/iraq.senators/index.html

    So, Mr. President, you have told us:

    1. That Iraq was an imminent threat when it wasn’t.
    2. That there were weapons of mass destruction when there weren’t.
    3. That the weapons inspectors weren’t doing their job properly, when they were.
    4. That containment of Saddam Hussein wasn’t working when it was.
    5. That you would build a truly international coalition when you didn’t.
    6. That major combat was over when it wasn’t.
    7. That the situation there was far better than it actually is.
    8. That it would cost less money than it’s costing, and more importantly,
    9. That it would cost fewer lives than it has.

    How can we believe anything you tell us about your strategy for Iraq Mr. President? And what is that exactly besides “staying the course?” John Kerry has hashed and rehashed his strategy. Little detail has come from the Bush camp.

    Against all of this, Bush falls back on two arguments: First, that he is resolute, Kerry is not, and therefore Bush is more fit to continue the war; and second, that anyone who believes things might not turn out for the best in Iraq is a pessimist.

    The first argument seems silly, because what does it imply? That Kerry might become undecided about democracy in Iraq? That he might decide a military junta is a better idea? Kerry may be a Massachusetts Liberal, but he’s not about to support a dictatorship. Of course, Kerry has always insisted that democracy is the only acceptable outcome in Iraq.

    The second argument also fails, since you’d have to be a shiny-eyed idealist to believe that things are going swimmingly in Iraq. We can get it right in Iraq, but we’ve got to get the strategy exactly right. Bush has already admitted that he has made a “miscalculation” about the dangers of the rebuilding effort in Iraq. Call me a pessimist, but the only way to get things going the right direction in Iraq is to get regime change in the U.S.

    Stay tuned, and please check out these links:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3626942.stm —about Bush being a master at “disguising the punch.”

    www.economist.com —if you have a membership you can read an article entitled “Pyongyang on the Potomac.” It’s in this weeks issue, so there’s still time to buy it at your local newsstand.
    It’s really a travesty what has happened with gerrymandering and the House of Representatives. It’s the reason why this country has become so polarized.

    www.electoral-vote.com —the Votemaster takes a poke at Cheney today. It’s quite funny.

    P.S. I'm just getting the highlights from Kerry's speech today. It looks like a home run. Just what Gustav ordered. Full of real proposals and coherent arguments. There's hope yet. . .

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    Desperate Acts of a Desperate Man

    For the second time in a row, I'm going to quote cnn.com. Although there are better, more reliable, and more in-depth news sites, for those of us watching Kerry, it's an important one. That's where most Americans go to get their news (as cnn is fond of pointing out). If you want to know the headlines that Americans are reading, you'll find them there. The news for us Kerry fans is not good. Not good at all. Here are just some of yesterday's headlines:

    For Kerry:
    Kerry focusing on Bush record
    Kerry rips Bush on jobs
    Kerry blasts Bush "excuse presidency"

    And for Bush:
    Bush pushing health care message
    Bush taking health care message to Minnesota

    See the difference? Now, you might say that it's the result of some Bush bias within CNN, and you might be right. After all, even in his speeches where he's "pushing his health care message" Bush is also ripping and blasting Kerry. But that's not the point.

    The point is this: the Kerry Campaign has gone negative. VERY negative. And while that might work for the Republicans, it's not going to work for the Democrats, mostly because Republicans are better at it.

    You see, Bush embeds his barbs in his speeches, using them as a contrast to his own policies. The Kerry team, lately, has been constructing whole speeches around Bush bashing. It might not seem like a big difference.

    But it is. Here's an excerpt from a Bush speech:

    "I don't think you can be pro-doctor, pro-patient, pro-hospital, and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. See, I think you have to choose. My opponent made his choice. He put him on the ticket. I made my choice: I'm standing with the docs and patients. I am for medical liability reform now."

    "I think; I made my choice; I'm standing; I am for . . ."

    And here's how a recent Kerry speech was portrayed in the Detroit Free Press (www.freep.com) yesterday:

    In some of his harshest economic attacks of the campaign, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told a Detroit audience Wednesday that President George W. Bush has overseen an "excuse presidency" that accepts no blame for decisions Kerry said have led to a loss of nearly 1 million jobs, higher health care costs and a record government budget deficit.

    "This president has created more excuses than jobs," Kerry said in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club. "His is the excuse presidency -- never wrong, never responsible, never to blame. He's blamed just about everyone else for his problems.
    "President Bush's desk isn't where the buck stops. It's where the blame begins. The president would have us believe that his record is the result of bad luck, not bad decisions."

    "The president; His is; He blamed; President Bush's desk. . ."

    Could Kerry please remind us some more that he's not the president? Could he please talk less about himself? Americans want to hear about Kerry. They want to what he believes and what he stands for. If Kerry doesn't tell them, Bush will do it for him: Massachusetts Liberal, Massachusetts Liberal, Massachusetts Liberal. (And why, by the way, aren't we hearing anything about how Kerry breaks the Massachusetts Liberal mold? He's pro small-business, pro free-trade, and has even shown willingness to give federal money to faith-based programs. The silence on this point is as distressing as it is deafening.)

    So while it looks like Bush is touting his positions over a naive challenger, Kerry makes himself look vicious, without getting any of his beliefs in the soundbites. Both speeches are focusing on what Bush believes. All Bush, all the time from both candidates does not equal success for Kerry. Kerry needs to realize that he has already captured all those who will vote for him because he's not Bush. To grab those crucial undecideds, he needs to define himself against Bush, not continue to define Bush. His attacks allow the Republicans to say things like:

    "John Kerry offered more pessimism about an economy that has created over 1.7 million jobs over the past year, and he rehashed old, tired ideas of higher taxes, of more regulation and of more government control of people's lives that his own advisers say will not work,"(Ken Mehlman, Bush campaign director).

    Americans hate pessimism. July was Kerry's best month during the campaign so far. Why? Well, in July Kerry picked John Edwards as his running mate. Edwards was bright and sunny and all over the T.V. for a week or two. Then, the Democratic Convention focused on John Kerry's character and message. Has anyone looked at the polls in Ohio lately? Bush is now leading by more than 10%. When Edwards was campaigning there, his "two Americas" rhetoric was exceedingly effective. Ohio was then in the Kerry column. The Governor of Michigan said this about Kerry's message:

    "I don't understand why it's not getting through in Ohio, especially, because their experience is so similar to ours."

    The answer is easy. In Ohio (a state I also know quite well-- I lived there for four years) Kerry's criticism comes off as pompousness. Edwards comes off as a humble man of the people (like Bush). Where have you gone John Edwards?

    I don't mean to say that the Kerry campaign shouldn't criticize Bush, but Kerry is in a better position if he stays above all the negativity-- he does best when he acts like he's already the President, not the challenger. The attacks should come from Kerry campaign members, Democrats in congress, or Democratic pundits.

    If Kerry acts like a president, he has the best chance of becoming president.

    *Note*: Today I saw some Kerry soundbites from speeches yesterday. His criticisms were more Bush-esque. "I believe the President should tell the truth. . . etc." That's better. Still, we need to hear more about where Kerry stands on the issues. The message isn't getting through.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    Michigan, My Michigan

    I found this on http://www.cnn.com. Since I’m from Michigan, I thought I’d post it:

    (CNN) -- The race between Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and President Bush is too close to call in the battleground state of Michigan, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday evening.

    Among likely voters surveyed, Kerry was the choice of 50 percent, with 44 percent for Bush and 1 percent for independent Ralph Nader. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

    Among registered voters, Kerry was at 50 percent, Bush at 43 percent and Nader still at 1 percent.

    The poll also found that the outcome of a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay and lesbian marriage is too close to be determined.

    Among likely voters, 51 percent said they would vote against such a ban, while just 45 percent said they would support it. Among registered voters, 51 percent were opposed and 44 percent said they would support it, the poll found.

    Michigan is one of a dozen states where opponents of same-sex marriage have put constitutional amendments on the November ballot to prevent the possibility of gay marriages.

    Gustav’s two bold predictions:
    1. Kerry will win Michigan, and
    2. the gay marriage amendment there will fail.

    I was there this summer, all over the state, and I really got the feeling that most folks were leaning towards Kerry. Bush is campaining in Western Michigan (a good idea) but I don’t think it will bring him the state. If I were a Kerry advisor (oh, if only!) I would tell him to spend less time in Michigan and more in Ohio. More electoral votes there—and while he’s at it, he should send Teresa to Pennsylvania. He’s losing there where he was winning a few days ago. She’s a (semi-) native, and reminding Pennsylvainians that they would have someone on their side living in the White House isn’t a bad idea.

    But what do I know? I’m just a political junkie.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    How's the Weather?

    This time of year, in such a political environment, political parties grab onto anything they can to snag an extra tenth or hundredth of a percentage at the polls. At least that's what you would guess. So how come the Democrats aren't?

    You know what I just saw on T.V.-- for the second time today? A report on BBC world about how more and more doctors are refusing to prescribe, and more and more pharmacists are refusing to fill the prescriptions for--

    Wait wait, lemme guess!

    1. Accutane, an acne drug linked to teen suicide?
    A: That would make too much sense.

    2. Medical Marijuana?
    A: If only that were an issue. . .

    3. Anti-Depressants to Democrats?
    A: In an attempt to make Democrats so depressed that they might not go to the polls? Good guess, but--

    No, no, no. The answer is the birth-control pill. The pill! Are we really going to have this debate? They've got doctors saying that taking the pill (not the morning-after pill, but your normal, everyday, contraceptive pill) is tantamount to abortion. Have I entered a time machine? Do they not realize that for every egg that is accidentally fertilized and doesn't survive because of the pill, that there are actually thousands of abortions prevented by it?

    What's the point? It's this: doctors and pharmacists who refuse to allow access to the pill will remain a minority, that's true; but for the next month or so, the issue of abortion is on the tube to get the GOP base fired up, and to remind those undecideds about the abortion issue-- something that might swing more religious undecideds to the Republicans.

    Nothing new, nothing new you might say, and you'd be right. But you'd be wrong if you thought the Dems were doing the same thing. Oh no. Playing offense is just not their thing.

    How is the weather in the States anyway? Nice? I heard things are pretty crazy in Florida, with a possiblility that Hurricane Ivan might hit the state, the third hurricane in less than a month. My sympathy goes out to those living there. Please protect yourselves and stay safe.

    And on the political pages all I see is how George W. Bush can play the sympathetic leader in that state. Am I the only one seeing a Democratic opening here?

    In the past few years, especially last year, as many of those who live in Poland might remember that we had quite mild winters. Many of my friends who have lived here for longer, or for their whole lives have said that weather used to be much more predictible here. Winters used to be full of snow-- not rain and muck. Winters were cold, but white. There were snowmen, snowball fights, etc.
    And, to be honest, there still are. Just fewer and fewer. The weather is getting stranger and more extreme. Just look at this summer in Warsaw. We had spring from March to July: Not your usual Warsaw summer, with the hot days starting in early May.

    Yes yes, I'm getting to the point. Here: Why aren't the Democrats bringing the Environment into the debate? This is the first election in recent memory where the Environment has been such a marginal issue. Where have you gone Robert Kennnedy Jr.??
    It seems to me that Kerry, with his logical and comprehensible energy policy (the idea that we ought to be at the forefront of renewable fuels-- leading, not following), could make substantial gains in places like Florida, where weather changes are already visible. Sure sure, there are good years and bad years for hurricanes. But 3 in one month? Has it ever happened since they've been recording? The scientists will figure out whether the changes in the weather are linked to Global Warming. That could take years. There are those of us out there who find the possibility frighteningly believable. The Kerry team needs to start talking about the environment in Florida.

    And yes, I know that nobody should be making a political issue out of the suffering caused by these hurricanes. First of all, George and Jeb already are making a political issue out of this by linking it to their so-called compassionate-conservatism, and are taking advantage of the situation to throw heaps of money on Florida before the election. And promoting Kerry's position on the Environment is not making an issue out of the suffering, it's making an issue out of the Environment, which should have been a huge issue in the first place-- and it's making an issue out of it in a place which has felt the early pangs of our environment's death throes.

    The Democrats have chosen to pick a fight on Gun Control this week-- fittingly, since by unabashedly not renewing a ban on ASSAULT WEAPONS (!!!!) the Republicans deserve a fight. Problem is, Gun Control brings more Republicans to the polls than Democrats. The issue might swing a few soccer moms, yes indeed, but that's no reason to neglect the Environment. As an issue, it could also help in places like the Pacific Northwest, where Kerry isn't as strong as he should be, and in New England, where Kerry is losing ground, as in Maine. (see today's electoral-vote.com).

    Then again, perhaps Kerry is spending so much time trying to win back states like Ohio and West Virginia-- states in the Midwest that were in his column just a few weeks ago-- that he doesn't have any time to reach for those precious 27 electoral votes in Florida.

    And if the Environment, on which Kerry clearly trumps Bush, doesn't become an issue soon, he won't have to reach for Florida at all-- because it will be in the Bush column come November 2nd, and with it, the Presidency of the United States.

    Saturday, September 11, 2004

    Bush's Flip-Flop

    It's official. George W. Bush has flip-flopped. After vehemently defending his position for several weeks that a new director of intelligence should not have budgetary powers, Bush has this week agreed that any new intel director should indeed receive those very powers.

    Never mind that this is finally the right decision-- why aren't the Dems pushing this into the spotlight? While the Republicans have continually screamed that Kerry voted for the war and now opposes it (Kerry voted to give Bush authority to go to war, not for an alliance-breaking wild-goose chase for WMD's and Neo-con pipe dream of reshaping the Middle East in America's image), Bush staunchly protects Rumsfeld from any threat to his authority until pressure from the public and his own party finally force him to cave. Bush was practically the only one in the country to be against giving the any new intel director such powers, and now he's able to switch positions under the radar so easily? Perhaps this issue is getting more play in the states. I hope so, because over here we're not hearing a thing about it.

    And while we're on the subject:

    Is there a politician out there who has never changed his mind? Tom Coburn, a Republican running for the Senate in Oklahoma is an obstetrician who once performed abortions. Now he says those who perform abortions should be executed. Three years ago, Bush said he was in favor of diverting Great Lakes water from Michigan and other Great Lakes states to the rest of the country. Just last week, at a campaign stop in Michigan, he proclaimed his determination never to allow it. Indeed, in the campaign of 2000, Bush ranted on and on about the evils of nation building. What then exactly is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Politicians change their minds all the time, not necessarily for the worse. Michigan's water oughtn't be diverted (at least not without compensation). If we hadn't started nation-building in Afghanistan, we'd have left the Taliban in power there. And any national intelligence director ought to have budgetary powers. So what's so bad about changing one's mind? The Republicans have even scored points on John Kerry's support for the death penalty for terrorists (after long opposing the death penalty) while George Bush has presided over executions of the mentally ill in Texas. Can they really be serious? Most Americans can probably understand John Kerry's movement on the death penalty, especially after the events of September 11th. Has a majority of Americans ever supported the execution of a man with the IQ of a six-year-old?

    And what's so great about a clear and decisive leader, whose decisions are all clearly wrong? Bush will remain firm against the terrorists, yes yes, we know. Are there folks out there who really believe that since John Kerry doesn't think the Iraq War was conducted correctly that he might just give in to the terrorists? The logic is mind-boggling. On the other hand, Bush has been very clear and decisive about alienating our allies, creating tremendous anti-American sentiment around the world (thus creating resistance to anything good that America might want to accomplish internationally). He has clearly made it easier for the philosophy of terror to gain popularity in precisely the places where we're trying to extinguish it, and he's clearly made a mess of Iraq (not to mention domestic issues like Education, Health Care, and Civil Liberties). So what good is a clear position when the position is clearly disastrous?

    Indeed, Kerry has remained consistent on all the issues. Kerry has always said that he voted to give Bush the authority to wage war, because he would have wanted such authority. Kerry ought to be commended for trusting his president to wage war responsibly in a time of national crisis, even though Bush is a Republican and Kerry a Democrat. Kerry's a free-trader, with a record in the Senate of voting for trade and against protectionism. Bush on the other hand, imposed illegal steel tariffs to grab a few cheap votes in states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania (both of which he could lose this November anyway). Kerry has never strayed in his support for a middle-class tax cut. While touting middle-class tax cuts, Bush has pushed through gigantic and irresponsible upper-class tax cuts. Kerry has long supported giving small businesses tax-incentives to provide health care for their employees. Bush's health-care policy consists solely of giving big pharmaceutical corporations enormous tax cuts, which the vast majority of economists agree will do nothing to make health care more available to those who need it most. It certainly won't make drugs any cheaper for anybody. Bush says he supports "smaller government" but has presided over the largest expansion of the federal government in decades. He has said that he wants the government to get out of the lives of regular citizens, but the Patriot Act allows the government unprecedented powers to surreptitiously monitor the activities of its own citizens. The inconsistencies go on and on and on.

    But we're not hearing any of this from the Democrats. Hypocrisy is Bush's biggest weakness, but the Republicans are making Kerry look like the hypocrite. If the Democrats don't use this ammunition, will it be any surprise if they lose on November 2nd?

    To keep track of how the race is really going, take a look at this site: http://www.electoral-vote.com. The information is objective, and despite W's lead in the popular vote polls, the race still remains tight from an electoral standpoint. The charts and graphs, as well as coverage of Senate races and such, is impeccable. You can find great political links there as well.

    Thursday, September 09, 2004


    First things first. Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy it. I'll mostly be posting my own political views here, since venting about the situation in the states to friends and family doesn't seem to soothe my frustration. I'm a Kerry supporter, and I'd also like to use this site to meet other Kerry supporters here in Warsaw. If you're a Kerry supporter too, and you live in Warsaw (or anywhere in Poland for that matter) please, contact me. There are Kerry support groups and Democrat groups all over the world, but I can't seem to find one here. Fine, better to organize one myself. If you're interested, email me.

    If you're a Bush supporter, you probably won't like what I have to say, but please read on anyway. My opinions aren't without bias, but I'll try to be as balanced as possible. My objective is heated-- but not malicious-- political discussion. You won't read any talk of Bush or the Republicans being demons or Nazis here. I understand that Republicans want the best for our country and the world, as do Democrats. We just disagree about how to go about getting it. If you disagree with anything I've written (as I'm sure you will) please email me with a response. For that matter, please email if you agree as well. If it's in the spirit of intelligent and calm political dialogue, I'll respond, or even consider posting it here.

    Or, if you prefer, just post a comment.

    Thanks for visiting. Expect the first posting within the next 24 hours.

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