Sorry to be late with this. Was still playing with those bears.

One last thought on gay marriage lingering from earlier this week – a thought I will admit it took me some time to own, so I blame no one for not finding it immediately congenial. But here it is: This is America, not Afghanistan. Why is it anyone’s business who I want to marry? If the government is handing out civil marriage licenses to people who choose to apply for them, as it hands out driver’s licenses and certificates of occupancy – why not to me? I pay my taxes.

Women may have had the same feeling from 1776 through 1920, when they got the vote. This is America. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What’s wrong with that?

And now to more important matters.

Excerpted from Paul Krugman in the New York Times Tuesday, in case you missed it (emphasis, as always, mine, for busy readers):

March 16, 2004
Weak on Terror
By PAUL KRUGMAN

. . . The Bush administration, which baffled the world when it used an attack by Islamic fundamentalists to justify the overthrow of a brutal but secular regime, and which has been utterly ruthless in its political exploitation of 9/11, must be very, very afraid.

Polls suggest that a reputation for being tough on terror is just about the only remaining political strength George Bush has. Yet this reputation is based on image, not reality. The truth is that Mr. Bush, while eager to invoke 9/11 on behalf of an unrelated war, has shown consistent reluctance to focus on the terrorists who actually attacked America, or their backers in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

This reluctance dates back to Mr. Bush’s first months in office. Why, after all, has his inner circle tried so hard to prevent a serious investigation of what happened on 9/11? There has been much speculation about whether officials ignored specific intelligence warnings, but what we know for sure is that the administration disregarded urgent pleas by departing Clinton officials to focus on the threat from Al Qaeda.

After 9/11, terrorism could no longer be ignored, and the military conducted a successful campaign against Al Qaeda’s Taliban hosts. But the failure to commit sufficient U.S. forces allowed Osama bin Laden to escape. After that, the administration appeared to lose interest in Al Qaeda; by the summer of 2002, bin Laden’s name had disappeared from Mr. Bush’s speeches. It was all Saddam, all the time.

This wasn’t just a rhetorical switch; crucial resources were pulled off the hunt for Al Qaeda, which had attacked America, to prepare for the overthrow of Saddam, who hadn’t. If you want confirmation that this seriously impeded the fight against terror, just look at reports about the all-out effort to capture Osama that started, finally, just a few days ago. Why didn’t this happen last year, or the year before? According to The New York Times, last year many of the needed forces were tied up in Iraq.

It’s now clear that by shifting his focus to Iraq, Mr. Bush did Al Qaeda a huge favor. The terrorists and their Taliban allies were given time to regroup; the resurgent Taliban once again control almost a third of Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda has regained the ability to carry out large-scale atrocities . . .

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

And from his column today:

March 19, 2004
Taken for a Ride
By PAUL KRUGMAN

‘Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” So George Bush declared on Sept. 20, 2001. But what was he saying? Surely he didn’t mean that everyone was obliged to support all of his policies, that if you opposed him on anything you were aiding terrorists.

Now we know that he meant just that.

A year ago, President Bush, who had a global mandate to pursue the terrorists responsible for 9/11, went after someone else instead. Most Americans, I suspect, still don’t realize how badly this apparent exploitation of the world’s good will – and the subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction – damaged our credibility. They imagine that only the dastardly French, and now maybe the cowardly Spaniards, doubt our word. But yesterday, according to Agence France-Presse, the president of Poland – which has roughly 2,500 soldiers in Iraq – had this to say: “That they deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that’s true. We were taken for a ride.”

This is the context for last weekend’s election upset in Spain, where the Aznar government had taken the country into Iraq against the wishes of 90 percent of the public. Spanish voters weren’t intimidated by the terrorist bombings – they turned on a ruling party they didn’t trust. When the government rushed to blame the wrong people for the attack, tried to suppress growing evidence to the contrary and used its control over state television and radio both to push its false accusation and to play down antigovernment protests, it reminded people of the broader lies about the war.

By voting for a new government, in other words, the Spaniards were enforcing the accountability that is the essence of democracy. But in the world according to Mr. Bush’s supporters, anyone who demands accountability is on the side of the evildoers. . . .

This week the Bush campaign unveiled an ad accusing John Kerry of, among other things, opposing increases in combat pay because he voted against an $87 billion appropriation for Iraq. Those who have followed this issue were astonished at the ad’s sheer up-is-down-ism.

In fact, the Bush administration has done the very thing it falsely accuses Mr. Kerry of doing: it has tried repeatedly to slash combat pay and military benefits, provoking angry articles in The Army Times with headlines like “An Act of `Betrayal.’ “ Oh, and Mr. Kerry wasn’t trying to block funds for Iraq – he was trying to force the administration, which had concealed the cost of the occupation until its tax cut was passed, to roll back part of the tax cut to cover the expense.

But the bigger point is this: in the Bush vision, it was never legitimate to challenge any piece of the administration’s policy on Iraq. Before the war, it was your patriotic duty to trust the president’s assertions about the case for war. Once we went in and those assertions proved utterly false, it became your patriotic duty to support the troops – a phrase that, to the administration, always means supporting the president. At no point has it been legitimate to hold Mr. Bush accountable. And that’s the way he wants it.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Amen.

VHS TO DVD

Joe Cherner: ‘Just wanted to thank your wonderful readers for their wonderful suggestions awhile back on copying VHS tapes to DVD. The easiest solution is now available from GoVideo. A simple unit that has a VHS slot and a DVD slot. Pop your VHS into the VHS slot. Pop your DVD-R into the DVD slot. Press copy and presto! Done! Exactly what I asked for from the beginning.’

 

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