Criticism is the right and duty of citizenship

With the general election less than two weeks away, I find it unbelievable that Republicans still tolerate Bush's lies. Even those who claim to have "Christian values" turn a blind eye to his lies and convince themselves that he has their best interests at heart, that he can keep them safe from terrorism.

But a Bush victory in November would give the president a mandate to continue his policy of preemptive war, to continue corporate welfare through tax cuts, to further erode the First Amendment rights of individuals, to privatize Social Security, and to cut even more funding from social services. In spite of his campaign promises to the contrary, we can expect an attempt to, slowly but surely, reinstitute the military draft. We can also expect an attempt to alter the Twenty-Second Amendment (term limits for the presidency) so that he may run again in 2008. A continuation of Bush's policies will lead to a rapid erosion of the American standard of living. Unemployment will increase while wages and access to health care and social programs decrease.

Like his father and grandfather before him, George W. Bush believes in an imperial world view. Bush sees the corporation -- not the collection of individuals within a nation-state -- as the dominant power in the world. Bush wants corporations to have the unrestrained power to make money without having to worry about pesky environmental regulations, labor union contracts, or taxes cutting into their profits. This is what Bush means when he mentions the word "freedom." He is not talking about individual freedom, but corporate freedom. Bush wants to use preemptive war -- which may soon include the use of nuclear weapons -- in order to secure oil fields and pipeline routes for corporations. Never mind the turmoil and misery he creates. Just forbid the media to show the gruesome disfigurement that bullets and bombs leave on human flesh. Just forbid the media to show the body bags and caskets returning home. Just keep the television images clean and sanitized and convince people that you are fighting for some "higher purpose." And, of course, just stifle dissent by calling the dissenters "unpatriotic."

American GIs played a major role in bringing the troops home from Vietnam and similar actions are needed now against the unjust war in Iraq. War is the ultimate form of terrorism and there is no other way to look at it. In the days before the U.S. invasion and occupation, the Iraqi people were nervously shopping at open-air markets while children played nearby. Like all of us, they were hopeful that common sense would prevail and war would be avoided. Today, in an occupied Iraq, there is nothing to smile about. While families are being torn apart on all sides of the war, at least we Americans can sleep at night knowing that the Iraqi oil fields are safe. Never mind the death and destruction. Never mind that acts of terrorism will increase against us. At least the Oil Barons are making record profits!

Bush supporters say that open criticism of the Iraq war aids the enemy and hurts troop morale. But they fail to understand that criticism of elected leaders and their policies is the right and duty of U.S. citizenship. Blind deference to those in power is not only undemocratic but ignorant. GIs understand this. Unfortunately, the Bush loyalists don't.


Coral Gables Presidential Debate

The real losers in last night's debate were the American people. If you believe in the two-party system, sure, Kerry gained strength as a rich intellectual and Bush came off as a spoiled (some would say retarded) child of the Bush crime dynasty. We would have been better served by a larger field of candidates. At the very least, Ralph Nader should have been included in the debate in order to widen the area of discussion beyond two-party politics.

I am not a Kerry supporter, but I will likely be a Kerry voter because I have had all I can stand of Bush. Because Kerry is more intelligent, there is a better chance that he will be more reasonable. He did say that his goal is to build international alliances rather than take a unilateral approach and I do agree with this. Of course, we all know that corporate America makes the real decisions and that they want a president who can best advance their interests and increase their profits.

The after-debate spin room was a disgusting display of politicking, nitpicking and outright lying about what we had all just witnessed. The Bush spinsters could hardly contain their anger through their phony smiles as they continued to pound away at Kerry as a "flip-flopper." They know that repetition works. It does not matter what is true: Just repeat something often enough and it will seem as though it were true. I don't have to remind anyone of the repetitive themes the Bush administration used to build its case for war in Iraq. They were all lies, but the mass media repeated them over and over without challenging them. The supposed "imminent threat" of Saddam Hussein was based on old intelligence and false intelligence. CIA analysts, United Nations weapons inspectors, and anyone else who worked on Iraq issues, knew that the Bush administration was lying. Kerry should have been more forceful in calling a lie a lie.