BIG ZOO

More than a year ago, I quoted a reader saying good things about this cheap-rate long-distance service. Last week, one of you noticed that BigZoo had removed the reader’s name from the quote and, instead, attributed the recommendation to *me* — under the headline, THE CONSUMER ADVOCATE – saying that *I* had been using the service for six months and that *I* thought it was great. (I had never even heard of it, let alone used it.)

Not surprisingly, this phone company has no phone number listed on its website. Instead, there are e-addresses for Customer Service and Marketing. I sent an e-mail to each and got back a form e-mail saying that they do their best to answer inquiries promptly. That was three days ago.

PUTTING YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS

It’s important to say – even though it’s completely obvious – that most Republicans are fine people of good will, just like most Democrats, Independents, Libertarians and, for that matter, if there are any left (very left), Socialists. So why are Democrats so intent on unseating Bush?

Well, there’s the trillion dollar lie about the tax cuts, where he told voters that ‘by far the vast majority of the help goes to people at the bottom end of the economic ladder.’ That’s a very big, very selfish lie. It takes the existing distribution of good fortune and tilts it significantly further in favor of those already best off, taking resources from everyone else. Most people, not being great at math or big readers of budget data, don’t see this for what it is. (A Time survey a few years ago found that 39% of Americans thought they were either in ‘the top 1%’ or expected to be.)

And, as is becoming increasingly clear, we didn’t have to start this war in Iraq in the way we did. (But now that we’ve started it, we have put ourselves in the very difficult position of absolutely having to find a way to succeed.)

It’s heartbreaking to see the cost to our brave soldiers who’ve died or lost limbs in this cause. It’s frustrating to think how much more effective it might have been to put even a tenth the blood and treasure into following through in Afghanistan and with Al-Qaeda. It’s discombobulating, at the very least, to read on the front page of the New York Times last week that, with our troops massed and ready to strike, Saddam was backing down. You mean all this might have been avoided? What if we had taken a few more months to (a) finish off Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan? (b) show the world we were truly making every effort to avoid war? (c) win broader support if war proved unavoidable? (d) either accept the bloodless victory the Times story suggested was a real possibility or else, at least, have more time to plan for a successful ‘aftermath,” instead of what’s going on now?

One does not dispute that Donald Rumsfeld is much smarter than the rest of us. (Or that Robert McNamara, in an earlier era, did not enjoy the same advantage.) One empathizes with his exasperation at having to deal with us. Why do we even take his time questioning his judgment?

But I’ll tell you someone else who’s pretty smart. George Soros. Made many, many billions by being smart. He’s already given $13 million or more to avoid a second Bush term. Asked in a Washington Post interview this week whether he would give even more if he had to, he said yes. Ah, but would he trade his entire $7 billion fortune to have Bush gone, the Post reporter asked?

Soros opened his mouth. Then he closed it. The proposal hung in the air: Would he become poor to beat Bush? He said, “If someone guaranteed it.”

Soros has his own view, which you can read in the Post or in his forthcoming book. Mine is that I don’t want to live in a country – like some – where we need machine guns to guard our gated communities. Yet as the disparity between the rich and the rest grows ever wider, and support is cut back for ‘the least among us,’ that’s where we’re headed. Nor do I want to live in a country that’s lost the separation of Church and State – but that’s where we’re headed as well.

(Speaking at the First Baptist Church of Pearland, Texas, in April of last year, House majority leader Tom DeLay said that God is using him to promote ‘a biblical worldview’ in American politics. Speaking to a divinity school audience a few months earlier, Justice Scalia pointed out the obvious flaw in our otherwise worthy Constitution. It says that the ultimate authority resides in ‘the people,’ when, of course, as he and his audience knew, it resides in the Divinity. Chief Justice Rehnquist has written: ‘The ‘wall of separation between church and State’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.’)

So, yes, I’d like to get back to figuring out what to do with your money and how to save on long-distance. (Your TIPS are doing fine, though, and even your wacky Borealis sits at $8 a share.) But getting this other stuff right is important, too.

Tomorrow: Molly Ivins Tries to Understand the George Bush Disconnect

 

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