[ Well put, Batch. –BL ]
18 Sept. 2004
by Nathaniel Batchelder,
Oklahoma City Peace House
EVERYTHING AT STAKE:
People I admire most include Ralph Nader and folks committed to the Greens. Because I and they are aligned on so many issues, I pray they consider the high regard underlying my words:
Elections are not ?OPINION SURVEYS? to separate the righteous from the less. Elections determine WHO will sit in the seats of power for 2, 4, or 6 years, thus WHO we get to LOBBY for all the things we believe in.
The voter?s choice is ALWAYS: someone better or someone worse.
That’s because millions who disagree with us also get to vote, and also because elements in the system permit it to be sullied by big money and big corporations (which always do everything they can to sully ANY system).
More is at stake in the elections this November than in any election in memory (I am 58). Some things which are on the line — even universal voting rights and honesty in elections — if lost, may never be retrieved. Those who win get to determine futures in the following areas:
SUPREME COURT: One or two Supreme Court Justices will be appointed in the next four years shaping the Court for 25 years. (Don’t forget, it was the Supreme Court as currently made up which ordered Florida to: ?Stop counting the ballots.?)
ENVIRONMENT: This administration and its majorities in the House and Senate have reversed or set aside some 300 environmental protections, outlined in the book by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: “CRIMES AGAINST NATURE.”
This administration and its allies do not believe human activities affect global warming, defying some 90% of the scientific community …. but it’s only OUR PLANET that they are experimenting with. National Geographic’s current issue devotes 72 pages and the cover to ?global warming.?
Top government officials reflect fundamentalist religious beliefs that conservation is not necessary because ?judgment day? will end the world as we know it.
STOPPING TERRORISTS: This administration gave a pass to 120 Saudi Arabians including 19 members of the Bin Laden family to leave the country within days of the 9/11 terrorist attack on America, without so much as being questioned if they knew the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. (Compare that to the security checks YOU go through flying to Atlanta.) But they have enacted Patriot Act I and Patriot Act II, which civil libertarians call the most draconian and oppressive curtailing of individual freedoms in American history. The government may now legally monitor your internet use, all your purchases and library check-outs, and detain without explanation anyone designated a ?potential terrorist? (which designation is very loosely defined).
WOULD PRESIDENT GORE HAVE WAGED WAR? We’ll never know, but Bush did, against the counsel of allies, against the counsel of many military professionals, in violation of international law, and ignoring the words of President G.H.W.Bush explaining in his memoirs why America did NOT ?march on to Baghdad? in 1991 (i.e: no support from allies in the coalition, and removing Saddam would have left a ?void of power? which Iraq’s political and religious factions would fight each other to fill.)
INSTEAD, based on misinformation, disinformation, false hopes and poor planning, this administration led America into a war against the wrong enemy, permitting many members of al-Quaida to escape from Afghanistan. The war inflames anti-American passions in the Middle East, fueled by Abu Ghraib photos and thousands of innocent Iraqis killed or imprisoned by American forces, who do their best in an impossible theater of war. (We veterans of Vietnam can attest that distinguishing friends from enemies in a foreign culture and language is very dangerous and dicey. Mistakes spill blood on both sides.)
War in Iraq was planned by some before 9/11. Check the website of ?Project for the New American Century? where neoconservatives behind the Bush team outlined before the 2000 elections their idea for war in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein <
IGNORED NEEDS OF A SUFFERING WORLD: Fully six million people die every year from AIDS, TB, and malaria (truly a Holocaust) and the diseases are spreading. This administration broke its promise to ?give $3 billion a year for five years,? sending far less than that, but only to 19 countries selected by the administration. (By contrast, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria directs its resources to organizations doing the best work in EVERY nation in need, regardless of politics.)
AIDS, TB, and malaria are not political footballs but ?PUBLIC HEALTH THREATS? becoming more virulent with every passing year, and spreading all the time. America must double its giving to stop these global catastrophes, and free such medical campaigns from political considerations hampering their effectiveness.
Half of humanity still survives on less than $2 a day, with no guarantee of safe water, public education, or public health services. For reasons of compassion, good international relations, and to stop terrorism where it starts, American foreign policy must endeavor powerfully to alleviate suffering and death caused by preventable disease and the worst poverty.
America must stop ignoring and breaking international treaties designed to serve human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, workers’ rights, and environmental protection, and JOIN THE HUMAN FAMILY in building a better and sustainable future for all people.
THE BIG TAX CUT: Fully half of President Bush’s trillion-dollar tax-cut accrues to the wealthiest 2% of Americans — families VERY wealthy, with proven earning abilities. National surpluses inherited by this administration have been turned into national deficits, threatening social security, maintenance and repair of highways, roads and bridges, and putting at risk a host of programs which assist families in the greatest need.
In America’s history there has never been a big tax cut in time of war, and, indeed, in time of war, America’s wealthiest citizens have often been t axed at rates twice as high as today’s rates. America’s tax rates are becoming ?reverse Robin Hood? — relieving taxes of the wealthiest, and shifting the tax burden down upon working and poor families.
AMERICA’S INFRASTRUCTURE: America’s infrastructure — our roads, bridges, highways, railways, public utilities, water systems — have for 30 years been allowed to deteriorate and decay. This is approaching crisis proportions, and MUST be addressed by an administration willing to restore reasonable tax rates upon America’s most wealthy citizens and corporations.
Rebuilding and repairing infrastructure supporting commerce and quality of life must become top priorities.
AMERICA’S ECONOMY IN PERIL: 1) With the continuing export of jobs, downsizing of corporations, and corporate shifting to part-time and temp-help labor, the national income of America’s wage-earners continues to decline. The obvious end result of this squeeze is reduction of purchasing by most Americans, who simply have less money to spend. Full warehouses but people without cash caused America’s Great Depression.
2) During the ?stock market boom? of the 1990s (with all its abuses and illegalities) oceans of cash got invested in houses and properties, setting off a resultant ?boom? in their prices. Property prices are leveling, and most will eventually settle and fall, which will have dire consequences for families and the economy. If folks bought a home for $200,000, and lose a job, they may be forced to sell, then find their house worth only $120,000. Bankruptcies by individuals and families are on the rise, and these threaten the entire system of banking and finance.
Averting a serious ?economic adjustment? or ?crash? will require Franklin Roosevelt-style federal investments in building infrastructure, both to put millions of Americans to work with a salary, and to rebuild the very systems which support commerce and life.
In view of these economic perils, this administration’s trillion-dollar tax-cut, benefitting primarily the wealthy, seems especially short-sighted, and suicidal (unless its real purpose was to shore up the wealth of the wealthy before ?the crash? comes, in which case it was also savage.)
THREATS FROM THE ?FAR-RIGHT? Sad to say, our government has for centuries supported foreign governments (or foreign revolutions) which Washington, DC, decided were in America’s ?national interest? no matter how violent or brutal. During the Cold War especially, this frequently meant supporting repressive and violent regimes against their own people in order to protect ?the balance of power? or to protect US corporations? access to cheap foreign resources and labor.
Business has gone global. Americans watch in dismay as ?American corporations? like General Motors export millions of jobs with no thought or responsibility for American working families left in the lurch. Business and government increasingly work hand-in-hand supporting policies good for profits but bad for people and the environment. Big corporations hire hundreds of full-time lobbyists and give millions of dollars to political campaigns. Big business loves ?Global Free Trade? treaties which have no protections for workers or the environment.
This is bad news for working American families and anyone committed to government ?of, for, and by the people? which we can rely upon to act for ?the common good? and ?the general welfare.”
If our American government has sometimes supported oppression and repression of millions abroad for political purposes, including even torture, imprisonment, and assassinations, what will stop our government from doing similar things in this country, against Americans, who are guilty only of opposing government policies or organizing political opposition?
Because I know that ?political liberals like me? in El Salvador were arrested, tortured, and often killed by their government in the 1980s, with CIA support and US financial assistance, I wonder if political liberals like me could become a target of government repression inside America in the future?
Current trends alarm me, including curtailing citizen freedom and independence, expanding government surveillance of average citizens without recourse to legal protection, consolidation of America’s news media in the hands of fewer and fewer big corporations, submitting voter registration lists for computer purging of voter rolls, computer voting machines which leave no paper trail, and the astronomic rise in the cost of political campaigns which disenfranchises average citizens from running for office. All this proceeds with little resistance from elected officials in our government whose job it is to represent us.
It is “We The People” who must reclaim our democracy and regain control of our American government.
It is ?We The People? who must organize for victories in the November 2nd elections.
God save the United States of America and the world in which we live.