Monday, November 01, 2004

Helen Thomas Has a Little List

The Queen Bee of the Washington Press corps, Helen Thomas, has a new online op-ed:

The presidential election on Tuesday is one of the most crucial in American history.
There are many reasons -- in foreign policy and on the domestic front -- why President George W. Bush should not be reelected.
Among them is the dominance of the radical right in his advisory councils, who are taking the United States down the wrong road at the start of the 21st century.
The road could lead to more mindless wars abroad and a widening gap between the rich and the poor in this country.

By “mindless wars” I assume she means Iraq and Afghanistan, where we have a clear political goal, a strategy for achieving it, and local support for our goals and strategy; and not Kosovo, where we have no goal beyond stasis and the locals are as divided as the day we set up camp.
There will be only one way to read the election results if Bush wins: The world will see his victory as an affirmation by the American people of his disastrous preemptive war policy, which led the United States to invade Iraq without provocation.

The UN Security Council didn’t think so, when it unanimously voted for Resolution 1441, a detailed list of Iraq’s refusal to accept the generous peace terms offered in 1991.
The U.S. attack on Iraq is a clear violation of international law and has made us helpless to condemn others for similar acts.

The same private citizens that challenge the power of a President of the United States to condemn a sovereign government for violations of international law, condemn this president for violations of international law.
As for a global wave of aggression triggered by America's war in Iraq, where is it?
Contrast this decade with the 1970s, a period when the US government gave the firmest support for international arbitration and all but renounced independent action. This witness attempted land grabs in Israel, Yemen, Indonesia, Tanzania, Central America, Afghanistan, and Cyprus, by Communists, NATO allies, and nonaligned Third World nations.
It would seem dictators are more cowed by an American President on the warpath than by a Nobel Peace Prizewinner.
If he wins reelection, Bush may see his victory as a signal to follow the neo-conservative dream of a political transformation of the Middle East through military force.

George Bush has invaded exactly one Middle Eastern nation, and erected a democracy there.
His predecessor, Bill Clinton, erected a Middle Eastern ogliarchy that will live as long as Arafat does.
Their predecessor, George Bush, restored a monarchy, and his predecessor Ronald Reagan failed to stabilize anarchy in Lebanon with brutal and lasting results.
His predecessor, Jimmy Carter, infamously supported a brutal tyrant and opened a running sore in the Middle East that festers to this day.
So clearly, Bush has broken with his predecessors, and for the better.
Or would Ms. Thomas prefer interventions to preserve autocracy? So long as we can’t allow the Middle East to descend into anarchy and general war, we’re going to intervene.
The president also would likely continue his new-style isolationism by giving short shrift to post-World War II treaties, such as those banning biological and chemical weapons.

Who’s talking about biological and chemical weapons treaties? Is this yet another attempt to condemn the negotiated death of the ABM treaty as an act of bad faith? You may not like the result of the open, bilateral talks to dismantle the ABM treaty, but there was nothing to complain about with regard to procedure or diplomacy. It is equivalent to the United Kingdom and People's Republic of China negotiating the handover of the entire Hong Kong colony, when the 99-year lease only covered mainland Kowloon.
There is nothing to indicate Bush is willing to stop the gross violations of the Geneva Conventions on the humane treatment of prisoners of war.

Nothing, apart from the prosecutions and prison terms for such violations?
The Taliban in Afghanistan are no more a licit army under the terms of the Geneva Convention than the Army of God that exploded pipe bombs in 1990s America. Those riflemen are not American citizens and they weren’t captured on US soil.
Dark reports of the shameful treatment and secret transfers of detainees still emanate from Iraq and the U.S. brig at the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba.

Secret transfers are not a form of abuse. If the transfers were known, their own friends would blow them up and their American guards with them.
Despite his vehement denials, Bush may be compelled to call for another military draft if he persists in making war.

Yes, he might. Any President might, should some other nation declare war against the United States. That is why there is still a Selective Service, because we do not fully control whether we stand at peace or at war.
As to the War on Terror, even with Iraq we are mobilizing about 15% of our Reserves and Guard, and we are continually enlisting eager Iraqi volunteers.
He is scraping by now with his all-volunteer military, along with reservists and National Guard members, keeping them on duty longer than planned with a so-called a back-door draft. If he wins a second term, he wouldn't have to worry about running again and would have a free hand to undo his read-my-lips campaign promises.

Helen Thomas has believed this war is "Mr. Bush's war" so long, she now views the troops fighting it as "his all-volunteer military".
When these people enlisted, they agreed to serve a set period as active duty personnel, and then remain under orders as reserves pending a national emergency as declared by the government.
This is not a back-door draft any more than mandatory overtime for firefighters represents Soviet-style forced labor.
Anyhow, the draft cannot be restored except by Act of Congress, who just voted down a draft 402-2. And they also are adamant that there be no draft. In light of those facts, no serious person can claim opposition to the draft are campaign lies.
On the homefront, the rich will be sitting pretty again with big tax cuts while the budget deficit and national debt zoom sky high.

I remember the 1970s, when the rich dodged taxes by lending to the government instead of seeking commercial enterprise, the budget was still in deficit, and the national debt was growing despite a top marginal rate of 70%.
Bush donors from the military-industrial complex are being well rewarded, especially Halliburton, formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, which already has reaped no-bid contracts to the tune of billions of dollars.

Are you complaining the job went to Halliburton?
Or that the job costs as much as it does?
Or that the job is being done at all by anybody?
Organized labor will still be behind the eight ball under a new Bush administration. Workers will be pressured to accept "comp time" in place of overtime pay, and the lowered safety standards imposed by Bush's Labor Department will lead to more industrial accidents.

“Pressured” as in, they cannot be denied the legal right to refuse in favor of legally-mandated overtime pay.
In what way have unions been currently repressed? Unless denying their lobbyists a slam dunk in Congress counts as a form of repression, I don't see it.
Don't expect Bush to lift a finger to stem the tide of outsourcing of the nation's biggest companies to China, India and other points East, where they can find cheaper labor.

What? You would have us violate our sworn oaths regarding the World Trade Organization? Even if a US President decided to throw the WTO out the window and tackle outsourcing, what could be done? The problem for us is that there is a foreign labor pool every bit as qualified and capable but with lower earnings expectations. The federal government has intervened already; after the bubble burst, techies raised loud wails about the ease with which Asian techs were obtaining visas to work in the USA for less than the going wage. And Congress heard them, and closed the open door. Now John Q. Singh can’t get into Silicon Valley to earn a living. Was he supposed to take up a spindle and loom in a Benares sweatshop, and forget he could do programming? Either our companies take advantage or the foreign competition will. We saw this in the 1980s with Asian manufacturing, now it is starting to creep into the services industries as well.
The president is expected to keep trying to weaken public education with voucher programs to aid private schools, many of them religious.

“Weaken” in the sense that American parents will have clear options regarding their children’s education, beyond blind faith in the school board and the teachers’ union. Opposing voluntary enrollment in religious education verges on bigotry, since religious instruction for children is an obligation for Catholics, who are some 25% of the American population.
He is certain to follow through on his pet project to privatize part of the Social Security system with voluntary private investment accounts, driving a big hole in the program's trust fund. We should all hope that Congress won't go along with such a dangerous idea.
Social Security was the 1936 Depression-era program to support the elderly, the disabled and deprived dependent children.

The upcoming Social Security crisis was defined by government back during Bush the Elder’s tenure. Nothing has been done about it. If nothing is done, the program will definitely be in a crisis. The worst-case scenario: Bush’s plan is tried, fails, Congress steps in and restores complete government coverage.
Senior citizens, meantime, are staying away in droves from Bush's highly touted prescription drug program, which the administration publicly underpriced by $1 billion.

Actually they’re not, they’re taking advantage of Uncle Sucker in ways the Administration and Congress naively underestimated. Hence the revised bill.
Furthermore, the resident's compassionate conservative legislation banned importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. That is not expected to change in a new Bush term.

Forcing American drug companies to offer lower prices to Canadian government health care--which they must do or risk their patent in Canada--while at the same time purchasing those American products at the artificially-low Canadian price, is a quick recipe for bankrupting an American industry.
Bush also wants to cater to corporate interests by capping damages in medical malpractice suits at $250,000.

Yup. If individual doctors or three-man clinics count as ‘corporate interests’.
If reelected, Bush -- who has injected religion into public affairs more than any president has in modern times -- is expected to continue his messianic mission in the White House. He will blur even more the separation of church and state.

“Modern times” apparently began in January 2001. I vastly prefer President Bush, who does not hesitate to cite religion in explanation of his own conduct, to President Clinton, who did not hesitate to cite religion in explanation of what he would compel America to do.
For women and minorities who support abortion rights and affirmative action, there is the scary prospect that the candidate who wins Tuesday may be able to appoint three, perhaps even four Supreme Court justices.

How about whites and men who support abortion rights and affirmative action? Ha ha.
It’s a measure of just how undemocratic and un-American those policies are, that there existence depends not on the support of a majority of Americans, but on “three, perhaps even four Supreme Court justices”.
Bush undoubtedly will see his reelection as a mandate to push the country further to the right. And if he elected, he will be answerable to no one.

Who would President Kerry answer to? I though Bush was a puppet of the neocons and fatcats…

New century not working out for you, Ms. Thomas?

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