JUST IN CASE YOU RUN INTO PROBLEMS TOMORROW

Click here to print an Election Protection card. (Thanks, David Bruce, for the suggestion.)

THE CASE FOR BUSH

Tod Lewis: ‘Your incessant Bush bashing and hatred is misguided. Pray tell, what did Clinton do to protect us during his 8 years in office? Answer. Nothing. Even after the first WTC bombing and Bin Laden’s declaration of war on America, the Clinton Administration did basically nothing.’

☞ No hatred here, Tod. But tell me this: Even if Bill Clinton had been the worst president in history (he was one of the best), how would that be relevant to Bush’s performance?

President Bush had the good will of the whole world Sept 12, 2001. Now we are widely disliked and distrusted – and the man who killed 3,000 Americans is alive and well and sending us videotapes. Tens of thousands have died, hundreds of billions have been spent, millions of potential new terrorists are ripe for recruiting, Colin Powell tells confidants we are losing the war . . . and you think this is okay why?

I won’t repeat all the stuff I’ve been subjecting you to (you are a good man for reading it, given how much we disagree) . . . but for you to dismiss it as ‘hatred’ is to avoid the substance. If you don’t want scientists to be able to do stem cell research, present your case, I’ll present mine, and that’s how one or the other of us might learn something. Same with all the other issues.

Please note that President Clinton, in handing the baton to President Bush, had identified Bin Laden as a ‘tremendous’ and ‘immediate’ threat to the United States, and Bush was urgently warned as early as January 7, 2001, in a face-to-face meeting with the head of the CIA, to pursue the counter-terrorism initiatives then in the works. Instead, the tremendous, immediate threat was ignored – all focus was on Iraq until September 11 – and most of the focus remained on Iraq even after September 11. You are okay with this why?

DEAD OR WOUNDED?

Clint Chaplin: ‘You use ‘deaths’ and ‘casualties’ interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Casualties includes wounded as well as dead. I’ve not seen the study, did they report on 100,000 civilian casualties, or 100,000 deaths? Many people make this mistake.’

☞ Good question. This is what I was basing it on:

Study Puts Iraqi Deaths of Civilians at 100,000
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL,
International Herald Tribune

Published: October 29, 2004

PARIS, Oct. 28 – An estimated 100,000 civilians have died in Iraq as a direct or indirect consequence of the March 2003 United States-led invasion, according to a new study by a research team at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. . . .

IF YOU’RE CATHOLIC

A Prolife Case against Bush
It’s about more than abortion
by Sidney Callahan

I voted for George W. Bush and I’m heartily sorry now. My support was motivated by prolife convictions, but so is my present dismay. I opted for Bush in 2000 because I thought he’d try to protect embryonic life in and out of the womb, and also support faith-based social initiatives. As for foreign policy, Bush’s promises of ‘humility’ were reassuring. Humility is, of course, a central Christian virtue, and Bush’s seemed to reflect his avowed identification with ‘Christ-because he changed my heart.’

Then came 9/11. U.S. military forces quickly engaged in retaliatory warfare; new policies and rationales justified preemptive military action. Yes, terrorism is a real threat that must be countered, and Saddam was a monster, but what was the administration leading us into? Our unilateral act of war against Iraq turned much of the world against us-and with good reason. First-strike attacks are a breach of moral principle and international law. Our present policies, now dubbed the Bush Doctrine, are morally suspect and prudentially disastrous. Billions of dollars are being spent, many lives are being lost, and Americans have tortured Iraqi prisoners. Islamic terrorists have been given renewed impetus for their crusade of hatred against the West. Has this kind of ‘war on terrorism’ really made us safer?

At the same time, domestic troubles mount. Hopes for bettering the plight of the poor under Bush II seem blighted. New tax cuts favor the rich. Poor children are still left behind. Compassionate conservatism, we now know, is mostly directed toward the wealthy-those who will never need to worry about their health-care insurance, or the size of their Social Security checks. Fortunately, there has been some progress on the prolife front. The president signed the partial-birth abortion bill and has set up a bioethics commission, which advises him on the morality of unregulated biotechnical research. For these measures and his encouraging speeches, Bush is called the ‘Prolife President’ in the movement’s literature.

Yet, for an advocate of a Catholic consistent ethic of life, Bush’s prolife credentials seem compromised, if not completely betrayed, by his pursuit of optional war. For Catholics, prolife advocacy must include peacemaking and social justice. Solving social problems through violent killing is a proabortion strategy, and a preemptive-war policy can be just as lethally prochoice. In international affairs, U.S. military might can never by itself make right, nor can it create democracy by force. Killing to create peace and coercion in the cause of freedom constitute a policy beset by internal contradictions.

What happened to Bush’s avowed humility? His strong Christian faith apparently has a shadow side. Bush emphasizes his unique role in God’s plan and relies on gut religious intuitions. In referring to his conversion from drinking, he has said, ‘There is only one reason that I am in the Oval Office and not in a bar. I found faith. I found God. I am here because of the power of prayer.’ Well, yes, but this does not mean we can slight self-examination and critical testing of his understanding of God’s will. The president does not seem to recognize that conscience is not divine dictation, or the direct voice of God, but rather God’s voice ‘echoing’ in his depths (the Catechism). Individual conscience can be in error because it is a complex human capacity requiring reason and emotion. Moral decisions must be continually informed through dialogue and consultation with others.

Inspired by a favorite Methodist hymn, ‘A Charge to Keep I Have,’-emphasis on the I-Bush seems content to go it alone. On the question of going to war in Iraq, the president found it easy to brush off the UN, reject the pope’s pleas for peace, and dismiss the U.S. bishops’ statement. He also ignored the admonitions of his own Methodist leaders-along with warnings from Jimmy Carter and senior Republican policy experts. Worst of all, the millions of antiwar demonstrators around the world were contemptuously pooh-poohed as irrelevant to him. OK, so maybe Bush has never heard of the ‘the grace of self-doubt,’ but surely somewhere in his Yale education he must have encountered the Greek concept of hubris. What good is it to declare oneself a humble sinner and remain so absolutely, supremely certain (or cocky) in one’s behavior? How many leaders in history have been brought down by similar gut-based moral certainties?

Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia, comes to mind. I thought of George W. Bush keeping to his charge when reading about Nicholas earlier this year. As a man of deep faith, Nicholas was convinced of his own inner moral guidance. In the midst of the wartime crisis, Nicholas calmly assured his prime minister, who was desperately reasoning with him to change course, ‘Despite most convincing arguments in favor of adopting a positive decision in this matter, an inner voice keeps on insisting more and more that I do not accept responsibility for it. So far my conscience has not deceived me.’ Nicholas went on to explain that ‘a czar’s heart is in God’s hands.’ This leader’s stubborn faith in his imperial and providential destiny led to disaster.

Bush, too, appears superconfident, now promising to ‘rid the world of evildoers.’ He has had more than one Rasputin assuring him that his critics can be dismissed as enemies of the faith. Should those with the right stuff listen to weak sisters? True believers may be more dangerous than those who fake it. The mounting costs of a disaster can be interpreted by them as a test of courage. As the president declared in his State of the Union address, ‘We will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory.’ (Sacrifices consisting of the lives of other people’s children are always easier to endorse.) As casualties and ‘collateral damage’ increase, it can become harder to admit error. In 2004, the Republicans will be a prowar party led by a would-be crusader.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party and John Kerry will remain rigidly and dogmatically proabortion. In this sad dilemma I think the Catholic prolife agenda of peace and social justice for all is best served by a vote for Kerry and the Democrats. At least Kerry, a Catholic veteran and antiwar protester, will be committed to work for a foreign policy of international cooperation aimed at peacemaking. Protecting fetal lives is an all-important prolife goal, but every day my local paper runs pictures of young U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, and who’s counting the Iraqi civilian lives destroyed?

Another reason to urge an anti-Bush vote by prolife advocates arises from reading the signs of the times. From my ‘feminist for life’ (prowoman, prolife) perspective I can see that it takes much time for education and moral persuasion to gradually change abortion laws. But from the perspective of peace and war, the world can get much worse fast. Disastrous miscalculations and conflict can enkindle violent wildfires. I am now ready to sign up for a ‘Prolifers against Bush’ campaign. The Catholic vote in 2004 should support the church’s imperative call for peacemaking abroad and justice for the poor at home. As Jesus says, all those who cry ‘Lord, Lord’ (however sincerely) may not be doing God’s work.

Yet I am certainly no Bush hater. I find him genial as a person and welcome the good that he has done for the unborn. But I have become completely alienated by his foreign policy as well as frightened by his moral and religious views. Overconfidence in God’s direct guidance can be a good man’s fatal flaw. Who could have been nicer than Nicholas II?

Sidney Callahan is a psychologist who has taught moral theology and is the author of In Good Conscience: Reason and Emotion in Moral Decision Making (HarperSanFrancisco).

IF YOU’RE BORN AGAIN

Bush is polling at 70% with evangelicals and born again Christians, down from 80% in 2000. Click here for the story. You’ll meet some interesting people.

IF YOU’RE JEWISH

A Message to the American Jewish Community
from Professor Alan Dershowitz

There are American Jews who have said recently that although they support John Kerry’s positions on every major domestic issue – – from the Supreme Court to women’s rights to gay rights – – they plan to vote for President Bush because they believe Bush would be better for Israel.

Respectfully, I believe they are wrong for two reasons.

First, I know personally how strongly John Kerry feels about a safe and secure Israel. I remember vividly when John went to Israel with our dear mutual friend, the late Lenny Zakim, the New England director of the ADL. On his return, that’s all John could talk about – – his admiration for Israel’s combination of strength and determination to make peace. He has a perfect pro-Israel voting record in the Senate and I have no doubt that, as president, John Kerry’s unwavering commitment to Israel will continue.

President Bush, though well intentioned on Israel, has hurt the Jewish nation’s position in the world. The actions of the United States in Iraq, especially since President Bush prematurely declared “mission accomplished”, have been disastrous for Israel. The failures in Iraq have weakened the influence of the United States in the Middle East and have made it much more difficult for us to thwart Iran’s determination to develop nuclear weapons aimed at Israeli population centers. The Iranian mullahs know that Americans could not stomach another military action in Iran while the occupation of Iraq continues. This reality, confirmed by President Bush during the first debate, has emboldened them to speed up their nuclear program – – a program that poses the greatest existential threat to Israel, the Jewish people and ultimately America, since an Iranian nuclear program could result in terrorists with dirty bombs. The current Bush policy with regard to Iraq has weakened America’s war against terror by diverting military and other resources to a quagmire that is only getting worse.

The second reason is that pro-Israel votes should not turn an American presidential election into a referendum on Israel. Our goal must be to keep support for Israel a bipartisan issue – – and in this we have succeeded. Pro-Israel voters are free in this election to vote based on other important issues, such as women’s rights, separation of church and state and the Supreme Court.

These issues actually coalesce in practice. If President Bush is reelected, he will have as many as four Supreme Court vacancies in his first year: and he has told us exactly who he intends to fill them with: clones of his two favorite justices – – Scalia and Thomas. A Bush Supreme Court will put at risk a woman’s right to choose abortion. Equally important it will lower the wall of separation between church and state and increase the power of the religious right. Although the religious right has been very supportive of Israel – – especially in comparison with the Presbyterian and Episcopal branches of Protestantism – – their agenda for the American future poses considerable danger to the Jewish future in America.

They envision a Christian state with Christian schools and a Christian Supreme court.

Listen to the Texas Republican Party platform which “affirms that the United States is a Christian nation” and refers to the “myth of the separation of church and state.”

Listen to Lou Sheldon, the founder of the “Traditional Values Coalition”:

“We were here first. We are the keepers of what is right and what is wrong.”

And listen to Ralph Reed, the director of the Christian Coalition:

“What Christians have to do is to take back the country. I honestly believe that in my lifetime we will see a country once again governed by Christians and Christian values.”

And to Jerry Falwell:

“I hope to see the day when as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. We must never allow our children to forget that this is a Christian nation. We must take back what is rightfully ours.”

And to Pat Robertson:

“The Constitution of the United States is a marvelous document for self-government by Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheist people, they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society. And that’s what’s been happening. If Christian people work together, they can succeed in winning back control of the institutions that have been taken from them over the past 70 years.”

The Bush Administration supports the lowering of the wall of separation. Its prayer breakfasts, its faith-based programs, its Ashcroft Justice Department, and its evangelical rhetoric are all music to the ears of the proselytizing Religious Right. Remember President Bush’s inauguration, which was dedicated to “our savior Jesus Christ” and seemed more like a Christian prayer service than a national civic event?

A Kerry-Edwards Administration would keep the wall high. Senator Edwards has warned that “faith should not be used to divide us.” Jews especially have an important stake in the separation of church and state. We are first class citizens of this great nation precisely because no religious tests may be required for holding office and because the state may not favor one religion over another or religion over non-religion. We must preserve that neutrality for the good of America, the good of Jews and the good of the world.

Professor Alan M. Dershowitz is Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

FIRE THE CONFETTI!

Have you seen YesBushCan.com? It began as a pro-Bush group driving around the country supporting the President in a campaign bus they had decorated and equipped with confetti cannons. Well, last week, the group endorsed John Kerry. According to the web site: ”In the course of our travels, we ended up learning more about Bush’s policies than he wanted us to know,’ said Harmon Spellmeyer, one of the Yes, Bush Can team. ‘We came to see that this administration is a catastrophe for most people.

WE’RE GOING TO WIN

Jon Bonesteel: ‘Looks like George W. Bush futures are cratering.’

☞ Jon refers to this site, where speculators play with hypothetical money to win a trip to the Inauguration. Kerry futures now go for $890 – versus $410 for Bush. Kerry is now even with or slightly ahead of Bush in most polls. Zogby has him up a point at the exact same point – what was then four days out from the election – that Bush led Gore 46-42. In others words, Kerry is about 5 points ahead of where Gore was at this point in 2000. So instead of winning by 537,000, as Gore did, it could be more like 6 million.

There’s much more good news I could recount (bad choice of words?), but it comes down to this: Go vote tomorrow, take a nap, and get ready for a long, happy night. Hope is on the way. Stronger – and fairer – at home. Respected again in the world.

I know some of you don’t see it my way, and I am particularly grateful that you come to hear me out. Open minds are the hope of our country.

 

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