October 25, 2004
|MAUREEN FARRELL ARCHIVES|
Attention Fence Sitters: 101 Points to Ponder Before Taking to the Polls
by Maureen Farrell
"Nixon was a professional politician, and I despised everything he stood for -- but if he were running for president this year against the evil Bush-Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him." – Hunter S. Thompson
Though the country is more polarized than it’s been since the Vietnam War, a palpable sense of "we’re in it togetherness" exists below the rancor and angst. Because of this, the question, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" has been replaced with the broader, "Is the country better off"?
At this particular fork in the road, we have to imagine where each path might lead. Where will we be five years from now? Twenty years from now? Should we "stay the course," even though the course is headed into a ravine?
Of course, the Bush campaign has been trying to scare Americans with images of wolves, suggesting that this administration will keep danger at bay. But George Bush has made us decidedly less safe by driving us deeper into the forrest. Should we reward the man who's steered the country into a ditch by giving him the keys to the company car?
One week from now, our collective futures will be decided. If you're still undecided, I beg you to consider the following:
The last presidential election
["George Bush’s presidency was] signed, sealed and delivered months before anyone entered a voting booth." – Investigative reporter Greg Palast
Incompetence prior to 9/11
"I don't believe any longer that it's a matter of connecting the dots. I think they had a veritable blueprint, and we want to know why they didn't act on it." — Sen. Arlen Specter
5. In addition to the Aug. 6, 2001 PDB entitled 'Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US,' the president saw a string of reports, including ones entitled: 'Bin Laden planning multiple operations,' 'Bin Laden network's plans advancing' and 'Bin Laden threats are real.'"
6 "Bush acknowledged that bin Laden was not his focus or that of his national security team. ‘I was not on point,' the president said [to Bob Woodward in Bush at War]. ‘I didn't feel a sense of urgency.' Well, how can you not feel a sense of urgency when George Tenet is telling you in daily briefings, day after day, that a major al Qaeda attack is coming?"
7. "'Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon," Richard Clarke told White House staffers in July 2001. "For six weeks. . . the U.S. government was at its highest possible state of readiness. . . By the time Bush received his briefing at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., on Aug. 6, the government had begun to stand down from the alert."
8. FBI officials complained after Bush took office, intelligence agencies were instructed to "'back off' from investigations involving other members of the Bin Laden family, the Saudi royals, and possible Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan."
9. Former Sen. Gary Hart says he warned Condoleezza Rice "about an imminent terror attack on two occasions before 9/11."
10. Senator: "incompetence. . . a contributing factor toward Sept. 11."
Incompetence on 9/11
"For more than two hours after the Federal Aviation Administration became aware that the first plane had been violently overtaken by Middle Eastern men, the man whose job it was to order air cover over Washington did not show up in the Pentagon's command center. It took him almost two hours to 'gain situational awareness'. . . "-- Gail Sheehy, the Los Angeles Times
11. Bush’s Pet Goat.
12. "How much in command was the commander in chief?"
13. John Dean: "It seems very probable that those in the White House knew much more than they have admitted, and they are covering up their failure to take action."
14. "Why don’t we have answers to these 9/11 questions?"
15. "FBI rewarding incompetence?"
16. "The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names."
Incompetence in Iraq
"Iraq is a terrible mess because of the criminal incompetence of the Bush national security team, and we are more alone in the world than ever."—Thomas Friedman, the New York Times
17. Zinni: "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption."
18. "As the toll of mayhem inspired by terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi mounts in Iraq, some former officials and military officers increasingly wonder whether the Bush administration made a mistake months before the start of the war by stopping the military from attacking his camp in the northeastern part of that country." (Shades of bin Laden's escape?)
and nuclear materials have been pilfered. As one writer put it, "your chances of getting nuked in your jammies have gone way up."
20. Career CIA officer: "America is losing the war on terror, in part because of the invasion of Iraq."
22. Brigadier General: "If we continue to proceed the way we are proceeding with the current strategy, there's going to become a point in time where the draft could be very necessary."
23. "If Bush is re-elected there are only two possible outcomes in Iraq" – and neither is good for America.
Bush Administration Secrecy
"This White House. . . is the most secretive ever to run the United States." – Former Nixon counsel John Dean
24. "I believe a veil of secrecy has descended around the administration and I think that's unseemly," Republican Congressman Dan Burton remarked, after Bush signed an Executive Order restricting access to Presidential records.
25. Cheney’s Energy Task force forced the question, "What are they hiding?"
26. As of Feb. 2003, there were more than 300 rollbacks of the Freedom of Information Act.
27. 9/11 family members said the White House "smothered every attempt to get to the bottom of the outrageous intelligence failures that took place on its watch."
"Sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies." -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld paraphrasing Winston Churchill
29. Even while publicly making mushroom cloud claims, hawks in the U.S. government privately admitted that Iraq was not a threat to the United States.
30. Early on, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell both publicly asserted that Saddam was not capable of attacking America.
31. The Pentagon constructed its own "lie factory" to justify a pre-planned war.
32. Paul Wolfowitz skirted the human and monetary costs of the war in Iraq, causing one lawmaker to note: "I think you're deliberately keeping us in the dark."
33. The Bush administration relied on "misrepresentation [and] manipulation" to make its case for Iraq.
34. As of Oct. 25, 2004, the White House Web site still contained a list of Iraq-related whoppers.
"President Bush may not be dumb, but he sure does think the rest of us are." – Molly Ivins
35. "The Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, struck a deal with the US not to seize Bin Laden after the Afghan war for fear of inciting trouble in his own country."
36. "The White House withheld information about North Korea's nuclear weapons program until after Congress passed its resolution authorizing war with Iraq."
37. The White House instructed Rep Dick Armey to insert a provision blocking lawsuits against vaccine makers into homeland security legislation. "Why would anyone want to save Eli Lilly on our children's backs?" one mother asked.
"First it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks.. . . Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11?" -- Former British environmental minister Michael Meacher
40. "On Sept. 10, Newsweek has learned, a group of top Pentagon officials suddenly canceled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns."
41. Former FBI translator: "I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with airplanes."
42. In 2000, the U.S. military conducted exercises to see how many would perish if a plane flew into the Pentagon and on Sept. 11, 2001 the CIA ran a similar simulation.
43. Days after the 9/11 attacks, Bin Laden family members were flown out of the country.
44. "Judicial Watch is aggressively pursuing the disclosure of the facts and the decision for White House staff, and President Bush as well, to begin taking Cipro nearly a month before anthrax was detected on Capitol Hill."
45. Bush knew.
Threats to Civil Liberties
"It's bombs away for Iraq and on our civil liberties if Bush and his cronies get their way." – Helen Thomas
48. School teachers threatened with arrest and tossed out of a Bush rally for wearing T-shirts that read ‘Protect our civil liberties.’
49. Mother of a slain solider arrested for interrupting Laura Bush.
50. Solider tossed out of a Bush rally for befriending a Democrat.
Threats to Democracy
"It's not an overstatement to say that on Nov. 2, the fate of traditional American democracy will hang in the balance." – Neal Gabler, the Los Angeles Times
53. "On the issue of war and peace, the United States is no longer a democracy."
55. Former Reagan official bemoans the "Brownshirting of America."
56. Bush-Connected Clear Channel raises questions about censorship and the merger of government and the media.
58. "So even before most of the country votes on November 2, it is likely that John Kerry will have been denied thousands upon thousands of votes, well in excess of one or two hundred thousand possibly, due to a national GOP strategy of voter suppression, intimidation and dirty tricks, using multiple strategies."
59. 'U.S. spies on chat rooms.’
60. Congress kept in dark about Bush’s Shadow Government
61. ‘The end of Democracy.’
Threats to Core Values
"Give us back the America we loved, and your friends will be waiting for you." – John Le Carre, the Los Angeles Times
62. "Unilateral preventive war is neither legitimate nor moral. It is illegitimate and immoral. For more than 200 years we have not been that kind of country."
63. Bush "will go down in history as the first president to try to write bias back into the Constitution."
64. "[Bush’s] international policies have been based on the hopelessly naïve belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies -- a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky's concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft. His immigration policies -- temporarily put on hold while he runs for re-election -- are just as extreme."
65. "Bush has shown an ideological commitment to the literalist Christian tradition at the expense of the broader view of the larger religious community. He is the first president not to meet with the leadership of mainline Christian traditions since George Washington."
66. "The nation's founders, smarting still from the punitive pieties of Europe's state religions, were adamant about erecting a wall between organized religion and political authority. But suddenly, that seems like a long time ago. George W. Bush -- both captive and creator of this moment -- has steadily, inexorably, changed the office itself. He has created the faith-based presidency."
67. "How did eight or nine neoconservatives who believed that a war in Iraq was the answer to international terrorism get their way? How did they redirect the government and rearrange long-standing American priorities and policies with so much ease? How did they overcome the bureaucracy, intimidate the press, mislead the Congress, and dominate the military? Is our democracy that fragile?"
Threats to America’s Worldwide Reputation
"Never before have so many climbed into the underbelly of U.S. foreign policy and left holding their noses." -- The Toronto Star
68. 'America's reputation as land of the free looking increasingly tarnished.'
69. "[In] eight out of 10 nations, those polled said - often in landslide proportions - that they hoped to see Democrat John Kerry beat President Bush in next month's election."
70. Brits lobby to get rid of George W. Bush.
71. Germany has signaled that if Kerry wins, they’d reconsider sending troops to Iraq.
72. "Probably no American president in history has been so universally hated abroad as Bush."
"Between now and the November election, it's crucial that Americans come to understand how four generations of the current president's family have embroiled the United States in the Middle East through CIA connections, arms shipments, rogue banks, inherited war policies and personal financial links." -- Kevin Phillips, the Los Angeles Times
73. ‘Why would Osama bin Laden want to kill Dubya his former business partner’?
74. ‘The Bush Crony Act’
77. "Donald Rumsfeld, the US defense secretary, sat on the board of a company which three years ago sold two light water nuclear reactors to North Korea - a country he now regards as part of the "axis of evil. . . "
78. "Nowhere is the revolving U.S.-Saudi money wheel more evident than within President Bush's own coterie of foreign policy advisers, starting with the president's father, George H.W. Bush."
79. "Bush Family Values."
80. "Cheney claimed that he supported the U.S. sanctions on Iraq, but the Financial Times of London reported that through foreign subsidiaries and affiliates, Halliburton became the biggest oil contractor for Iraq, selling more than $73 million in goods and services to Saddam Hussein's regime."
81. "A U.S. grand jury issued a subpoena to Halliburton Co. seeking information about its Cayman Islands unit's work in Iran, where it is illegal for U.S. companies to operate. . . "
"The disdainful smirks and grimaces that many viewers were surprised to see in the first presidential debate are familiar expressions to those in the administration or in Congress who have simply asked the president to explain his positions." – Ron Suskind, the New York Times
82. The reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
84. A "shot across the bow."
Human Rights Abuses
"[A] secret U.S. military unit has been ‘disappearing’ people since December 2001, and America has no idea how irreparably its torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison has damaged its image in the Middle East." – Summary of Seymour Hersh speech
86. 'Bush Administration lawyers greenlight torture.'
87. The US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison.
88. Rumsfeld knew of prisoner abuse and possible war crimes as early as 2002, but did nothing to stop it.
The Religious Right
"The outcome [of this election] threatens to transform the U.S. into an ironfisted theocracy." – Neal Gabler, the Los Angeles Times
89. ‘Their beliefs are bonkers, but they are at the heart of power: US Christian fundamentalists are driving Bush's Middle East policy.’
90 "The Rev. Jerry Falwell said yesterday that evangelical Christians, after nearly 25 years of increasing political activism, now control the Republican Party and the fate of President Bush in the November election."
91. "It is one of the saddest ironies of our time that as America tries to calm the fires of theocracy abroad, it should be stoking milder versions of the same at home."
92. When former Council for National Policy member Pat Robertson resigned as head of the Christian Coalition, some saw it as a sign. "I think Robertson stepped down because the position has already been filled," Gary Bauer said, referring to President Bush's role as head of the Religious Right.
93. "The only way Americans will have a presidency in which neoconservatives and the Christian Armageddon set are not holding the reins of power is if Kerry is elected."
The Home Front
"Voters should reject the notion that the current administration ‘inherited’ a bad economy or was the victim on 9/11 of previous White House policies. The state in which this nation finds itself can be traced to a single misfortune: four years of the Bush administration." -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
94. "Nearly 2.7 million manufacturing and 1 million professional-services and information-technology jobs have been lost since President Bush took office."
95. "Mr. Bush's foreign policy. . . has undoubtedly boosted the cost of gas and fuel oil to all Americans."
96. "The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million, the Census Bureau reported. . ."
97. "The Bush Social Security plan poses a major threat to the economic security of future generations of older Americans. And it also poses major risks for current beneficiaries."
98. "The administration's stem-cell stand is just one of many examples, from climate change to abstinence-only sex-education programs, in which the White House has made policies that defy widely accepted scientific opinion."
99. "George W. Bush will go down as the worst environmental president in our nation’s history."
100. "Under Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have reversed."
And finally. . .
"If the past informs the future, four more years of the Bush Administration will be a tragic period in the history of the United States and the world." -- The Nation
Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
© Copyright 2004, Maureen Farrell