Views on politics and current events

Monday, April 04, 2005

Another Reply To The Same Fundamentalist Preacher

Written in reply to an ugly article written by a clergyman

The tragedy of Terri Schiavo has been the catalyst for much discussion in this country. Most people have an opinion one way or the other. Let us remember, no matter what that opinion may be, none of us knows the whole story, the pain and suffering endured by the Schiavo and Schindler family.

Rev. Porter has accused Michael Schiavo, his attorney, and the courts of nothing less than murder. Under the pretext of “right to life”, Rev. Porter and others have ignored and dismissed medical and legal expertise. We all have to resort to an ‘expert’ some time in our lives. Whether it be an auto mechanic, an accountant, a medical professional, a member of the clergy, an attorney. So why has the medical expertise of not one, but many physicians and healthcare professionals been reputed in this case? Why has the legal expertise of not one but many judges been reputed in this case? Ignorance. Ignorance of the law, ignorance of medical knowledge.

Terri Schiavo was not exterminated by a judiciary out of control. This case has shown that our judicial system works. Was there even one time the court ruled in favor of the Schindler’s after so many appeals? Congress and the Bush brothers were not rebuffed at every turn. Indeed, after a somewhat questionable ‘order’ from Congress for the Florida courts to re-examine the case, the previous rulings were upheld. So Rev. Porter can say the judiciary is full of ‘ignorant men and women in black robes that are serving as a super-legislature’ all he wants. Such is not the case for the majority of judges. These rulings were not made by a conspiracy of flaming liberal/secular humanist judges, but by some judges that are actually considered conservative. Terri left no document expressing her wishes. The only thing the court had to go by was her husband’s testimony as to what she told him. After due process, the court determined that Michael Schiavo knew her wishes and ruled accordingly. Perhaps that wasn’t the best way to determine this, but what other way is there without documentation?

Michael Schiavo did not murder his wife. If this was his intent, why did it take fifteen years? Why did he personally take care of her for eight years, and after she was put in a facility ensure that she got the best of care? The easiest thing for the husband to have done was to sign over guardianship to the parents, but he did not do that. Why did he continue for so many years? Only he can answer that. As far as no PET scans or MRI being given? This issue reflects more on our ignorance of the medical particulars of the case than any murderous intent by the husband, doctors or attorneys. Yes, he has a woman and two children ‘on the side’, but I do not condone or condemn his actions. It is his business, his conscience, and as has been said, he will have to face his maker.

Was Terri Schiavo in a vegetative state? In my ignorance I can’t say she was or wasn’t. Experiences of visiting comatose and otherwise incapacitated people does not make one an expert in these matters. All of these cases are different. Even if I had all of the medical records and legal documents before me, I couldn’t make a valid determination. I dare say Rev. Porter couldn’t either. The court appointed physicians to examine Ms. Schiavo. They looked at all the evidence and professional opinions and ruled accordingly.

So what can we really learn from all this? Get a living will. Make your wishes known to your family. Know that, although sometimes the courts make unpopular decisions that you don’t agree with, the system works. Realize that all of us have a right to voice opinion and work towards the change we desire, but trying to do so by circumventing the constitution and the judicial branch of government isn’t the way. That concern for the right to life goes beyond a tragic media circus and should include over 1,500 U.S. soldiers and countless Iraqi citizens that have died in the war (a war that Rev. Porter supports), the people that can’t afford medical care and the budget cuts being made in social programs that so many depend on (being done by an administration that Rev. Porter supports).

One last thing to ponder: If God truly works in mysterious ways, what if by working through Michael Schiavo, the attorneys and the courts, God has used them to call Terri home to rest? Or is this not in the realm of possibility, even for a God that works in ways we do not understand?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Written In Response To A Fundamentalist Pastor

If you consider the different denominations of Christianity, there seems to be disagreement in spiritual matters. Why else would there be so many different groups that all call themselves followers of Christ? Diversity in nature, diversity in humans, and diversity in religious and spiritual beliefs seems to be the norm. So I find myself in respectful disagreement with Rev. Porter’s last column pertaining to Easter and its true meaning to all Christians.

I do not believe in the blood redemption of Jesus for our sin, sin that we are supposedly born into. I do not believe in the actual physical resurrection of Jesus, but that the resurrection was one of spirit. I do not believe that to be a Christian a person has to accept these ‘miracles’. Jesus was a man that stood up for the down-trodden, stood up for the people called ‘sinners’ by the Roman-appointed Jewish priests of the temple, condemned the love of money, and urged us all to love one another as we love ourselves.

So I respectfully suggest that while Rev. Porter may speak for himself and much of his congregation, he does not speak for Christians like myself. But far from condemning him, I would go so far to say that I not only tolerate his beliefs, but accept them in the sense that his beliefs are right for him. Too often the word ‘tolerance’ is used to mean ‘I know they’re wrong, but I’ll just put up with them’, where as acceptance means to me that ‘I don’t believe the same as they, but they have a right to be respected as a fellow brother or sister of the human race’.

How are we as a world community ever to be able to live together if Christians themselves can’t learn to accept one another? There is no hope of living in peace with our brothers and sisters that practice Judaism, Islam, Buddhism or any number of other belief systems (including atheism) if we as Christians can’t live together in peace. God, the Spirit, embodies love, for there have been revelations and wisdom handed down over millenia throughout the world for every culture’s benefit. Truth cannot be monopolized by any one faith or group.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

More And More Conservatives Using The 'F' Word

February 14, 2005 IssueCopyright © 2005 The American Conservative

Hunger for Dictatorship

War to export democracy may wreck our own.
by Scott McConnell

Students of history inevitably think in terms of periods: the New Deal, McCarthyism, “the Sixties” (1964-1973), the NEP, the purge trials—all have their dates. Weimar, whose cultural excesses made effective propaganda for the Nazis, now seems like the antechamber to Nazism, though surely no Weimar figures perceived their time that way as they were living it. We may pretend to know what lies ahead, feigning certainty to score polemical points, but we never do.
Nonetheless, there are foreshadowings well worth noting. The last weeks of 2004 saw several explicit warnings from the antiwar Right about the coming of an American fascism. Paul Craig Roberts in these pages wrote of the “brownshirting” of American conservatism—a word that might not have surprised had it come from Michael Moore or Michael Lerner. But from a Hoover Institution senior fellow, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and one-time Wall Street Journal editor, it was striking.

Several weeks later, Justin Raimondo, editor of the popular website, wrote a column headlined, “Today’s Conservatives are Fascists.” Pointing to the justification of torture by conservative legal theorists, widespread support for a militaristic foreign policy, and a retrospective backing of Japanese internment during World War II, Raimondo raised the prospect of “fascism with a democratic face.” His fellow libertarian, Mises Institute president Lew Rockwell, wrote a year-end piece called “The Reality of Red State Fascism,” which claimed that “the most significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism. Whereas the conservative middle class once cheered the circumscribing of the federal government, it now celebrates power and adores the central state, particularly its military wing.”

I would argue that Rockwell—who makes the most systematic argument of the three—overstates the libertarian component of the 1994 Republican victory, which could just as readily be credited to heartland rejection of the ’60s cultural liberalism that came into office with the Clintons. And it is difficult to imagine any scenario, after 9/11, that would not lead to some expansion of federal power. The United States was suddenly at war, mobilizing to strike at a Taliban government on the other side of the world. The emergence of terrorism as the central security issue had to lead, at the very least, to increased domestic surveillance—of Muslim immigrants especially. War is the health of the state, as the libertarians helpfully remind us, but it doesn’t mean that war leads to fascism.

But Rockwell (and Roberts and Raimondo) is correct in drawing attention to a mood among some conservatives that is at least latently fascist. Rockwell describes a populist Right website that originally rallied for the impeachment of Bill Clinton as “hate-filled ... advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now.” One of the biggest right-wing talk-radio hosts regularly calls for the mass destruction of Arab cities. Letters that come to this magazine from the pro-war Right leave no doubt that their writers would welcome the jailing of dissidents. And of course it’s not just us. When USA Today founder Al Neuharth wrote a column suggesting that American troops be brought home sooner rather than later, he was blown away by letters comparing him to Tokyo Rose and demanding that he be tried as a traitor. That mood, Rockwell notes, dwarfs anything that existed during the Cold War. “It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth—not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself.”

The warnings from these three writers would have been significant even if they had not been complemented by what for me was the most striking straw in the wind. Earlier this month the New York Times published a profile of Fritz Stern, the now retired but still very active professor of history at Columbia University and one of my first and most significant mentors. I met Stern as an undergraduate in the spring of 1974. His lecture course on 20th-century Europe combined intellectual lucidity and passion in a way I had never imagined possible. It led me to graduate school, and if I later became diverted from academia into journalism, it was no fault of his. In grad school, I took his seminars and he sat on my orals and dissertation committee. As was likely the case for many of Stern’s students, I read sections of his books The Politics of Cultural Despair and The Failure of Illiberalism again and again in my early twenties, their phraseology becoming imbedded in my own consciousness.

Stern had emigrated from Germany as a child in 1938 and spent a career exploring how what may have been Europe’s most civilized country could have turned to barbarism. Central to his work was the notion that the readiness to abandon democracy has deep cultural roots in German soil and that many Europeans, not only Germans, yearned for the safeties and certainties of something like fascism well before the emergence of fascist parties. One could not come away from his classes without a sense of the fragility of democratic systems, a deep gratitude for their success in the Anglo-American world, and a wary belief that even here human nature and political circumstance could bring something else to the fore.
He is not a man of the Left. He would have been on the Right side of the spectrum of the Ivy League professoriat—seriously anticommunist, and an open and courageous opponent of university concessions to the “revolutionary students” of 1968. He might have described himself as a conservative social democrat, of the sort that might plausibly gravitate toward neoconservatism. An essay of his in Commentary in the mid-1970s drew my attention to the magazine for the first time.

But he did not go further in that direction, perhaps understanding something about the neocons that I missed at the time. One afternoon in the early 1980s, during a period when I was reading Commentary regularly and was beginning to write for it, he told me, clearly enjoying the pun, that my views had apparently “Kristolized.”

It is impossible to overstate my pleasure at being on the same side of the barricades with him today. That side is, of course, that of the antiwar movement; the side of a conservatism (or liberalism) that finds Bush’s policies reckless and absurd and the neoconservatives who inspire and implement them deluded and dangerous. In the past year, I had seen Stern’s letters to the editor in the Times (“Now the word ‘freedom’ has become a newly invoked justification for the occupation of a country that did not attack us, whose people have not greeted our soldiers as liberators. … The world knows that all manner of traditional rights associated with freedom are threatened in our own country. ... The essential element of a democratic society—trust—has been weakened, as secrecy, mendacity and intimidation have become the hallmarks of this administration. ... Now ‘freedom’ is being emptied of meaning and reduced to a slogan. But one doesn’t demean the concept without injuring the substance.”) In the profile of him in the Times, he sounds an alarm of the very phenomenon Roberts, Raimondo, and Rockwell are speaking about openly.

To an audience at the Leo Baeck Institute, on the occasion of receiving a prize from Germany’s foreign minister, Stern noted that Hitler had seen himself as “the instrument of providence” and fused his “racial dogma with Germanic Christianity.” This “pseudo–religious transfiguration of politics … largely ensured his success.” The Times’ Chris Hedges asked Stern about the parallels between Germany then and America now. He spoke of national mood—drawing on a lifetime of scholarship that saw fascism coming from below as much as imposed by elites above. “There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented... for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although significant differences.”

This is characteristic Stern—measured and precise—but signals to me that the warning from the libertarians ought not be simply dismissed as rhetorical excess. I don’t think there are yet real fascists in the administration, but there is certainly now a constituency for them —hungry to bomb foreigners and smash those Americans who might object. And when there are constituencies, leaders may not be far behind. They could be propelled into power by a populace ever more frustrated that the imperialist war it has supported—generally for the most banal of patriotic reasons—cannot possibly end in victory. And so scapegoats are sought, and if we can’t bomb Arabs into submission, or the French, domestic critics of Bush will serve.

Stern points to the religious (and more explicitly Protestant) component in the rise of Nazism—but I don’t think the proto-fascist mood is strongest among the so-called Christian Right. The critical letters this magazine receives from self-identified evangelical Christians are almost always civil in tone; those from Christian Zionists may quote Scripture about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in ways that are maddeningly nonrational and indisputably pre-Enlightenment—but these are not the letters foaming with a hatred for those with the presumption to oppose George W. Bush’s wars for freedom and democracy. The genuinely devout are perhaps less inclined to see the United States as “God marching on earth.”
Secondly, it is necessary to distinguish between a sudden proliferation of fascist tendencies and an imminent danger. There may be, among some neocons and some more populist right-wingers, unmistakable antidemocratic tendencies. But America hasn’t yet experienced organized street violence against dissenters or a state that is willing—in an unambiguous fashion—to jail its critics. The administration certainly has its far Right ideologues—the Washington Post’s recent profile of Alberto Gonzales, whose memos are literally written for him by Cheney aide David Addington, provides striking evidence. But the Bush administration still seems more embarrassed than proud of its most authoritarian aspects. Gonzales takes some pains to present himself as an opponent of torture; hypocrisy in this realm is perhaps preferable to open contempt for international law and the Bill of Rights.

And yet the very fact that the f-word can be seriously raised in an American context is evidence enough that we have moved into a new period. The invasion of Iraq has put the possibility of the end to American democracy on the table and has empowered groups on the Right that would acquiesce to and in some cases welcome the suppression of core American freedoms. That would
be the titanic irony of course, the mother of them all—that a war initiated under the pretense of spreading democracy would lead to its destruction in one of its very birthplaces. But as historians know, history is full of ironies.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

On The Virgin Birth

To begin a discussion of the validity and necessity of belief in the virgin birth of Jesus, perhaps we need to begin with thinking about what constitutes being a Christian.
Is it a set of ‘rules of belief’ that need to be followed? By ‘rules of belief’ I mean the following three basic beliefs of traditional Christianity about Jesus:

1. That Jesus was born of a virgin
2. That Jesus performed miracles
3. That Jesus was physically resurrected from death

Jesus was not the only person in history or myth that was thought to be of virgin
birth. Zoroaster, the ‘prophet’ of what can be considered the first monotheistic religion in the world of Zoroasterism (some scholars have put forth the hypothesis that it was this religion that influenced the Jews in exile concerning their own monotheistic faith) that came to the world in roughly the 6th century B.C.E in Persia also was supposedly of virgin birth. Some Buddhists also have thought that the Buddha was of virgin birth. Many of the truly influential religious figures in early history were accorded the same virgin birth myth. So perhaps these men were of such divine nature that it was a ‘miracle’ that they walked the earth. They were so special that their birth would have to be by extraordinary circumstances, such as a virgin birth, for how could such uncommon men be born of a common union between a man and a woman?

Is the virgin birth of Jesus the only one of these myths that is true? If it is possible for a person to be born of a virgin, then why only Jesus? Is Christianity the only religion in the world that has miracles that are fact? Why not the virgin birth of Zoroaster, Buddha and the others? To believe that Jesus was the one and only true virgin birth in all of past, present and future history is to make Christianity the most unique religion in the world, the religion closest to God, the religion that is the only way. For if it is true of Jesus and false for the others, then for sure Christianity is guided and favored by God and Jesus truly is the one and only literal son of God. How could it be any different?

But it is not the truth. The plain facts are that there is only one way for any person to be born to this earth, and that is by the coming together of a viable sperm cell and a viable egg. Period. Everything else is myth. This is the ‘system’ in place for procreation. There is no need for any other, for this system works very well and has worked very well for a long time. So there is no such thing as a virgin birth. Not Buddha, not Zoroaster, not Jesus, nor any others. If it is a miracle you want, how much more of a miracle can there be than the coming together of two tiny cells, the dividing and growing that happens until there is a human being brought forth? Despite all the scientific research about birth and fertility, it still remains a mystery how and why it happens. The ‘mechanics’ of the process are known, but that precious spark of life that makes it happen is still a mystery. So while there is no virgin birth, all of us are a miracle in our own right, for we have all came from a miraculous event.

The virgin birth is one of the myths that creates the illusion of exclusivity about Christianity for Christians. That somehow a Christian’s beliefs over-shadow other religious teachings and traditions, that Christians have a monopoly on truth. This exclusivity is false. For a Christian to believe that their belief is the only belief creates tension with our brothers and sisters of other faiths, and can give us a false sense of superiority over them. None of us is ‘better’ than the other. None of us has the right to condemn another’s beliefs, for the deep-felt convictions and beliefs of a Christian are actually no more worthy than the deep-felt convictions and beliefs of any other religion. I cannot believe that an omnipotent God that allowed us to develop our own cultures and traditions (which any religion is a product of) would set one belief system as superior to the other. Does God only love Christians, or is His love universal for all?

Christianity is the spiritual way for the Christian. Jesus is our spiritual leader and prophet, and he was inspired and filled with the spirit. Did God only send prophets for the Judeo-Christian peoples? If God is truly the Father of all of us, and a loving father at that, why would it be so strange to believe that prophets would be sent to every culture, every part of the world? Buddha, Mohammed, even the shaman of primitive cultures, could not all of these ‘holy men’ be considered prophets such as Amos, Jeremiah, etc.?

We are every one of us, God’s chosen people. Spiritual leaders and prophets have appeared in every culture in one form or another. So the uniqueness of Jesus does not supercede or demean any other spiritual leader’s appearance. The uniqueness of Jesus is a uniqueness in our religious traditions that have their roots with the ancient Hebrews.

Does the uniqueness of Jesus, his teachings and his message hinge on his being born of a virgin? No. A totally human Jesus could have the same teachings and message. Not to say that he was not divine. Truly he was filled with the spirit of God, and was concerned with the down-trodden in the society in which he lived. His was a message that decried the abuses brought about by a totalitarian state ran by the Romans that was aided and abetted by Jewish leadership. Indeed, the head priest of the temple was appointed by the Roman emperor. It can be imagined that the main criterion that an Emperor would use for such an appointment would be to appoint someone that would remain subservient to Rome, even at the expense of the priest’s own people. That was the political reality of the time.

Jesus saw how this political reality was oppressing his people, and that a select few of his people were leading the oppression. One of the ways used for this oppression was the temple, with its emphasis on the economic and life style improvements of the priests and the select few at the expense of the common person. The common person was being more and more oppressed through exploitation of their labor and money, and religious condemnation for the so-called dregs of their society. Prostitutes, lepers, the insane, all were considered evil, people that were possessed of evil spirits and shunned by the religious elite. Not welcome in the temple, considered unclean, they were the ones that had no hope for a better life or salvation. Jesus disagreed. Jesus made a point to associate with these so-called dregs of society, and was even so bold as to absolve them of their sin, which was totally opposite of what the religious leaders appointed by Rome advocated. It is no big mystery that he suffered a horrible death. When a person resists the powers that be to the extent that Jesus did, all too often a violent end is the result.

Again I ask, is the life and teachings of Jesus dependant on a belief that he was born of a virgin? Again I answer no. Then why is all the importance laid upon belief in a virgin birth? The ones that set up the ‘rules’ for Christianity so many centuries ago made it an essential dogma, along with the rest of the Nicean Creed. The bishops that governed the different parts of the Christian world at the time were summoned to Nicea by Constantine, Roman emperor. For roughly the first three centuries of Christianity, it was a very diverse religion. Gnostics, Donatists, and many other groups within Christianity all had their own beliefs about the particulars of the religion and Jesus. When Christianity was officially sanctioned as the religion of the empire is when the attempt to settle so many disagreements began to ‘officially’ happen. The bishops of the first and second Councils of Nicea argued, discussed, and got approval of the emperor over what a person had to believe to call themselves a Christian. So the formation of official dogma was not only a codification of belief, but also a way for the Roman empire to hold dominion over their people. Christianity soon became the official religion. And the decision on what the beliefs of this official religion would be rested with the bishops who were jockeying for control, and the emperor who was making sure that whatever the bishops decided was good for the empire. Forever since, the virgin birth has been part of Christian dogma.

What is more important; trying to lead a life based on the teachings of Jesus, or adhering to a belief in the virgin birth? Tradition says that the two are bound together, for even if you do good things with your life, if you do not have a faith that accepts so many myths as literal truth, there is no hope for your salvation. An afterlife full of damnation is your fate. This is a ‘faith’ that stems from fear. I believe Jesus walked the earth to teach us to love one another and conquer our fear. It plays on our fear about the unknown, about death. About a death that instead of freeing us from our burdens and suffering, multiplies them a thousand times, all because the condemned do not toe the line of orthodoxy.

Is it the right kind of faith to believe literally in the teachings of traditional Christianity because you fear eternal damnation? Is it right if the basis of your belief is so you won’t end up in the burning lake of fire? Should we do what is good in this life so that we get our ‘heavenly reward’? Is it merely a system of just reward for proper belief? If your faith is a way for you to avoid being cast in the lake of fire, then perhaps yours truly is a blind faith.

So I believe that the belief in the virgin birth is not necessary to be a Christian. My personal culture and traditional religion happens to be Christian, with ample teachings to help me lead a life full of compassion and love. Jesus remains the great teacher and prophet of my faith. Even though I personally do not believe in the virgin birth, the bottom line is that it does not make any difference if it is true or not. The teachings are the same, the messages of peace, justice and love remain the same. So whether, or whether not, is of no consequence.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Top Ten Reasons Why True Conservatives Should Not Support Bush

A most interesting list by a group that call themselves Classicons (classical conservatives) versus neocons.

10. He abrogated Republican principles that support free, fair trade
and conducted protectionist trade policy by imposing tariffs on steel
in March, 2002 solely to protect the domestic manufacturing base
against foreign imports.

9. He has subrogated long-standing Republican environmental and
conservation policies to private corporate interests by adopting
proposals such as "Clear Skies", ANWR drilling and other programs.
Republicans from Theodore Roosevelt, to Barry Goldwater, to Richard
Nixon had always been at the forefront of environmental policy,
viewing America's environment and natural resources as a special
trust to be preserved for the ages.

8. He has violated Republican principles that have always held that
the defense of the United States was the principal reason for a
central government by neglecting explicit warnings contained in the
President's Daily Brief of August 6, 2001 that stated "Osama bin
Laden determined to attack within the United States". He issued no
alerts; he did not raise the national defense condition; he did not
even alert state or local police authorities of the warning. No
president in our history - with the possible exception of FDR - has
been so negligent in his sworn duty to protect the United States in
the face of explicit prior warnings of a possible imminent attack.

7. He has gravely damaged alliances that have been built and advanced
by every Republican president since Dwight Eisenhower by diminishing
America's standing within the world community, including America's
relationships with some of our closest and most long-standing allies
in NATO, ASEAN, and the OAS.

6. He has contravened Republican policy to support a strong national
defense by "transforming the military" with his notions of
a "lighter, faster, stronger" force and "network-centric" warfare.
These concepts, and the fashion in which they are being implemented,
diminishes American force readiness and the ability of American
forces to wage warfare successfully in a variety of battle spaces and
against a multitude of enemies. Force redundancies and force
capabilities in multiple specialties that have been built into the
American defense palette since at least the beginning of World War
II, and that permitted America to project force to a variety of
combat environments (e.g., we used an army we built to fight the USSR
in Europe to fight Saddam in the desert in the first Gulf War), have
been put aside in favor of a force that "treats warfare as a
glorified targeting exercise", as one analyst put it. The American
ability to achieve political objectives by means of warfare - as
opposed to simply waging combat - has been greatly diminished by
Pentagon planners that have created a force that can fight only one
centrally controlled conventional opponent, and then only if that
opponent relies on the type of sophisticated electronic weaponry that
only advanced industrialized economies are likely to possess. (We can
beat England, Germany, and Japan, individually or together, but a
conflict with Nigeria, Iraq, Somalia, al-Quaeda, FARC or Hamas -
individually or together - may not be winnable because our weaponry
is too sophisticated and our tactics won't work against "lesser"

5. He has abandoned the Republican principle fiscal responsibility
and support for the Middle Class by burying America in a mountain of
debt and tolerating prolonged and exorbitant trade deficits. 40% of
his 2001 tax cuts funded tax cuts for the top 2% of taxpayers and
added $2 Trillion to the national debt. Trade policy has been
ineffective, ill-advised and mostly ad-hoc (a simple fix of an
illegal export subsidy in the Internal Revenue Code was viewed,
instead, as an opportunity to reward lobbyists and contributors with
virtually everything on their corporate tax wish list). Meanwhile,
presidential hubris threatens the economy with the prospect of higher
interest rates, inflation, and a gravely weakened dollar. These
economic conditions endanger the savings and economic well-being of
the Middle Class, a vital Republican constituency.

4. He and Dick Cheney have further weakened the Republican notion of
a strong national defense by creating a civilian defense
establishment that seems more concerned with Israeli political party
Likud's interests than with American interests. (Even Bret Scowcroft,
Bush 41's NSA, says this president is "mesmerized" by Ariel Sharon
and that Sharon has this president "wrapped around his finger".)
Richard Perle, the mentor or confidant to many of the civilian
leaders in the Pentagon has twice been investigated for espionage on
behalf of Israel; and "Scooter" Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas
Feith (to name only a few) are all protégés or confidants of
At least one of Feith's Pentagon intelligence subordinates has been
investigated for spying for Israel, and UPI reported that former
Reagan NSC Intelligence Director (and CIA
Counterintelligence/Counterterrorism Chief) Vincent Cannistraro said
that Feith himself was dismissed from his position in the Reagan
National Security Council because the FBI suspected he was passing
classified intelligence to the Israelis.

3. He has undermined traditional Republican support for maintaining
the world's preeminent national intelligence service by politicizing
intelligence to support a preordained Iraq War policy; by selectively
classifying documents so as to prevent political embarrassment; and,
by "outing" intelligence operatives for purposes of political
retribution. In just four years, the Bush Administration and it's
neoconservative operatives in the Pentagon have turned the CIA, the
DIA and NSC into, essentially, political adjuncts of the White House
Office of Political Affairs. Highly respected military officers, like
Anthony Zinni, and undercover intelligence operatives, like Victoria
Plame, have been branded "traitors" or had their cover identities
revealed, respectively, because they dared challenge the White House
in it's rush to war in Iraq. Now, the credibility of American
intelligence -- once the best in the world -- is questioned by our
traditional allies, and our ability to safeguard vital American
interests throughout the world is undermined, because our
intelligence services were blatantly misused and abused by the Bush
Administration to "sell" the Iraq War.

2. He has violated Republican military doctrine of a generation, as
best embodied by the so-called "Powell Doctrine". The Powell Doctrine
actually dates back well before the Gulf War and it's principles go
back to at least the Reagan Administration when Col. Harry Summers of
the Army War College published "On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of
the Vietnam War" in 1982. In nearly every phase of the Iraq War, the
Bush Administration violated virtually all of the precepts of the
Powell Doctrine, from failing to use overwhelming force to building a
sufficient and sustainable public support for the war, to failing to
have a clearly defined mission, to failing to have a clear exit

1. He has violated traditional Republican and conservative notions of
foreign policy - not to mention internationally recognized foreign
policy principles dating to the Treaty of Westphalia - by engaging in
a radical plan to transform the Middle East into a democratic region
by force of arms without a casus belli.

Copyright, 2005. In The Arena. Duplication or citation of this
article under "fair use"must cite

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