Sneak Peek: President Bush’s Second Inaugural Address

I have received an early transcript.

My fellow Americans,

I love my country. I want you to know that during the first four years of my administration I have tried to do the right thing for America and her citizens. We have done our best for this land that we all love, and God bless you, you have been so kind as to send me back here to Washington, to continue to serve, and that’s exactly what we intend to do.

Because you see, my fellow Americans, while we tirelessly worked for the betterment of these United States, and we have been certain of our righteousness, we must now concede that we are human. Mistakes have occurred, wrong assumptions made.

In 2000, I lost the popular vote in this country. A majority of you voted for my Democratic opponent. And yet my party and my lawyers fought this outcome all the way to the Supreme Court, using every bit of legal chicanery at their disposal to take the deciding electoral votes in Florida, a state run by my own brother and whose top election official was the co-chair of my campaign there. My opponent, to head off a potentially disastrous constitutional crisis, graciously conceded defeat when he saw that we would stop at nothing. For these actions I feel only remorse and shame, and I beg your forgiveness.

In 2001 I proposed an enormous tax cut. My financial advisors urged me to call it “tax relief.” I proclaimed “The surplus does not belong to the government. It belongs to the people,” and through the use of a campaign-style publicity blitz, I sold this idea to you, and my party and my advisors rammed it through the Congress. Only then did it become clear that this so-called tax relief amounted to nothing more than payback to the wealthy CEO’s and corporations that have been financing my political career for twenty years and who essentially bought the White House for me in 2000.

My friends, I intend to correct this in my second term. I am proposing a rollback of these huge and regressive tax cuts, and a return to reality-based financing of the federal government. My economic policy up to now has created only more wealth for the already-rich, while hard-working Americans have seen their futures converted to dismal, low-paying fast food jobs. This needs to change, and that’s just what we are going to do. The money from my tax-cut rollbacks will go into real investment in education, job creation and job training, and trying to return to some semblance of a balanced budget.

During my first term in office, the United States was attacked by terrorists. Terrorists who had given every indication of their intentions for years, and who we didn’t bother even to try to disrupt or apprehend. It is to our everlasting credit that we went after them where they lived, that we destroyed their bases in Afghanistan and toppled the government that sheltered them there. I’m proud of what our brave soldiers accomplished there.

But we quit that fight in the middle and we did not capture their leader. Instead we turned to attack another sovereign nation, wreaking destruction on their country and killing an estimated one hundred thousand of their people, while costing the lives of over 1300 of our own, spending over one hundred and fifty billion dollars and destroying the worldwide credibility of the United States.

I sold this war to you, my fellow Americans, with more propaganda and deception. Everyone knows now that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam Hussein — bad as he was — had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks, and it is to my deep shame that I confess to you now that I knew it all along. We all knew — Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary-designate Rice, even Secretary Powell — but we wanted the war so badly that we were willing to deceive the American public to get it started.

I can’t deny that this war has been good for Halliburton and many friends of mine and the Vice President’s. But, my friends, war is wrong. It’s evil and I will not spend another American life, not one more dollar for the continuance of this killing. I know now that we cannot bomb the world into peaceful democracy. Therefore effective immediately I am ordering my commanders to stand down in Iraq, and to begin converting their operations from death and destruction to humanitarian assistance. We have created a terrible mess in Iraq, and it is incumbent upon the United States to help in whatever way it can to alleviate the suffering and to help restore peace in the countryside and dignity to the Iraqi people. In this effort I’m asking for the support of every American.

My fellow Americans, I admit to you today that there is no “war on terror.” Instead, my administration has waged war on the American Way. Through the Patriot Act and the frenzy that engendered it, through reinterpretation of The Geneva Accord and other international agreements, we have become a nation of torturers, a government that “disappears” people, a power-mad, oil-thirsty imperial bully, a pariah among nations, and I say to you this will not stand! As I speak, arrest warrants are being sworn for the top members of my administration: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condaleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz and others. Within the hour they will be in custody, and real investigations will be undertaken to learn the details of their culpability in these corruptions of American ideals.

Which leaves me.

I stand before you, my supporters and detractors, and I say to you “I have sinned.” For the damage I have done, I can expect no les than to be thrown from office, even imprisoned, and if you and the courts see fit to punish me so, I will gladly accept my fate.

I am a lucky man, but I am not a smart man. I was born to great wealth and sent to the finest schools, but I didn’t learn very much. I didn’t understand all that was happening during my first term in office. Until now, I believed that I was ordained by the Almighty to do the things that I have done as your President. Now I only wish for a chance to right the wrongs that I have committed — and I have named only a few of them today. I stand before you humbled and ashamed, and I beg you to let me try. I can’t promise that I will make no mistakes, but I can tell you this: There will be no more deception, no more hidden agendas. I will try my best to lead a government that is truly of and for the people, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you, and God bless us all.

***************UPDATE*****************
I heard the speech a little while ago, and apparently he discarded the text above and used something else. Oh, well…

Social Security

In which I get double mileage out of one rant.

This post originated as a comment I made on someone else’s blog. It was in response to his occasional whining about how Baby Boomers are trying to steal his Social Security income. Since he is only thirty years old I think he could find some more immediate worry, but that’s blogging.

Anyway, after I posted my comment, I read it and enjoyed it so much I thought I’d put it here, too, because I want to put something here today but I’m busy baking persimmon bread. The post, with minor edits:

You should relax about Social Security. Nobody would be more at risk in this regard than the baby boom generation, if there were a “Social Security Crisis,” which there is not. The system needs a minor tweak, perhaps the funding of one less high-tech bomber per year, but the current crop of “leaders” wants to dismantle our system of a low-yield but secure federally managed plan and replace it with a scheme to shift the retirement savings of the nation into — surprise! — the pockets of investment bankers and CEO’s, with the caveat that if you happen to invest in, say, an Enron or an MCI, you can kiss your life savings goodbye, but you should starve happy because you had the opportunity to act as a rugged individual. To get guys like me to shut up and let it happen, they propose to spend 2 TRILLION dollars (your kids will pick up the tab, OK?) to fund the transition.
The good news is that inevitably even the Christian Right will wake up and start to object to this kind of foolish spending. The bad news is that the beneficiaries of this scam will be isolated in walled and guarded cities by then. OK, not really, but their money (which used to be ours) will make them untouchable.
Your enemies are not hippies or boomers, who have been paying for fifty years to keep Social Security afloat. Your enemies are your elected officials.

Happy New Year to all. Thanks for checking in.

Priorities

Hurray for The United States!

The Bush administration, after being embarrassed by international criticism, has increased its pledge of help for the tsunami victims to $35 million, about the amount they are burning in Iraq every four hours, and a bit less than they are planning to spend on the 2005 inauguration festivities.

Blue Christmas

So this is Christmas. And what have you done?
Another year over. You are just begun.
So this is Christmas – I hope you have fun.
The near and the dear ones,
The old and the young.

So this is Christmas for weak and for strong,
For rich and for poor one, the road is so long.
So Happy Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

War is over
If you want it
War is over now

Listening to John Lennon’s hopeful, melancholy “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” in my office, and I almost broke down when it came to the chorus. I had to close my office door and get my composure back. For the poor suckers all over the world in bunkers, in tents, in caves, it’s not over. I know it never will be, so why do we keep talking about peace on earth? My Daddy told me If you don’t want to get drunk, don’t take a drink. I say If you don’t want to have a war, don’t send troops. We can’t shoot our way to peace, but we seem to be doomed to keep trying.

John’s hopeful, useless wish seems all the more pathetic this time of year.

Election Reflection #2: Move to the Middle?

I was talkimg to a guy at work yesterday and he said he voted Republican even though he is generally a Democrat, or some such crap. He said he “just didn’t like the face of the current Democratic Party.” When I asked him what he meant he said “You know, Snoop Dogg, P. Diddy, vote or die…” This is a family man in his forties, but almost for sure not a racist, and he’s got a problem with black people urging him to vote? I don’t get it. Maybe I’m wrong about him. You can’t just ask people if they are racists. They will almost always say they’re not, at least in 21st century USA.

This got me thinking about what the Democrats (my party, for better or worse) is going to have to do to get his vote in 2008 (2006, being local, is a whole different discussion). There is a surprising amount of talk and writing already going on about this very subject, just a week after losing the White House for another four years. I suppose that’s all we can do at this point — at least we’re not going through the denial phase of dealing with our loss (the hard core lefties are in denial — they are pissed off that Kerry conceded so early, and want recounts in Ohio, New Hampshire and maybe Florida). What I hope we (the Dems) don’t do is dump P. Diddy, or change our beliefs to make them more palatable to conservatives. I am willing to sign on to a large corporate political party, but I still think that politics must be based on what you really think, not what you think will win votes. I think the Party stands for things that a majority of voters can actually get behind — more on this in a later post — but we need to say it more clearly. If we find the right candidate, and he articulates basic Democratic values plainly and honestly, we’ll be able to get the needed votes (including my colleague at work).

Election Reflection: Sad American

I read this crazy letter (see below for info on this bad link) on Blogger this morning, and I couldn’t help responding. There were 11 comments when I first saw the letter. Two hours later, when I got around to writing something, there were 97 comments. By the time I posted, I was number 127.

I suspect this blog is not real. At the very least I’m not sure I believe this woman is being entirely sincere. Read it and see what you think. Since my feedback is buried 127 deep, here’s a copy of it:

Dear Sad American,My first reaction to your letter was that you have pretty clearly outlined the reasons why you shouldn’t have voted Republican no matter who the Democrats were running. The more I read, the more I thought that this was some backhanded way to gloat about Bush’s victory: My guy’s a complete asshole and he’s done nothing but bad and dangerous things in his public life, and your guy STILL couldn’t get elected! In the end, if Bush’s first four years in office weren’t enough to tip the scale for you, Sad American, then the Democrats will never have your vote, and probably shouldn’t expend too much energy trying to get it.

In broadest terms, the Democrats are the party of the people, and the Republicans are the party of the rich. The reason that sounds clichéd is that it’s been true for generations. Shame on us (the loyal left) for not elucidating that point effectively in this past campaign, and for not showing that there are moral reasons for our positions on abortion, welfare, war, racial equality, marriage (gay and otherwise), social security and the environment. Despite your words, or because of them, I doubt the Democratic leadership will ever be able to get through to you, but you’re right about one thing: we need to make our voice heard by more voters. And we will.

I can’t help noticing that your “blog” seems to have been created solely for the purpose of posting this one message. This makes me wonder if you’re for real. Here’s my real name and email address. What’s yours?

Larry Jones
jones@revision99.com

[NOTE: I’ve had to change my name here for reasons discussed elsewhere in this blog. In my actual message to Sad American I used my real name and email address.]

I bet she doesn’t answer me, or reveal anything concrete about who she is.


Edit, 12 years later: The original “letter” was taken down soon after I wrote this post. I’ve looked for it on and off over the years, and never found until now, October 15, 2016. The link in my post above goes nowhere. Here’s the letter itself, which I discovered on a Daily Kos post dated November 7, 2004.

How You Could Have Had My Vote

It’s been two days since John Kerry conceded, and all I am seeing, hearing and reading from the Democratic party is that you guys think you lost on “moral values.” You seem to think this means nothing more than opposition to gay marriage. You seem to think that Bush voters waited in line for hours to stick it to the queers, to tell those faggots how much we hate them!

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many Bush voters, like myself, were not happy to be voting for the President’s re-election. Many Bush voters agonized over our decision and cast our vote in fear, trepidation, and trembling. Many of us would have given our left arms for a Democrat we could have supported.

Because I am too young to be as disillusioned as I am, and because I know that one-party rule is not good for my country, and because it is my deepest wish to see the Democratic party change into one I can give my whole-hearted support, I am going to explain why you didn’t get my vote, and how you can get it in the future.

First, for context, let me give you a bit about my perspective: I am a single, heterosexual, college-educated woman in my late 20’s with an annual income of about $30,000. I live in a solidly red state in the South, the region you guys wrote off entirely without even trying to persuade us to vote for you. I am not an ideologue, and I experience painful ambivalence about many political issues. The notion of an abortion makes me queasy, but I don’t want Roe vs. Wade overturned. I have friends who’ve been impregnated by rape and friends who found out late in their third trimesters that they were carrying babies too malformed to ever have normal lives. The pictures of Iraqi children who’ve lost arms from the bombs my tax dollars bought make me shed tears, but I recognize that the war was the right thing to do, given the information we had available at the time the decision was made. I had no health insurance for three years, but I’m still, hesitantly, not in favor of socialized medicine. I know people who abuse the social services, but I also have friends who would be dead without the food stamps and SSI checks they collect each month. I believe in God and consider myself a Christian, but I don’t go to church, and Falwell, Robertson, and their ilk scare me more than they scare you. I believe that in a perfect world, Roy Moore would have to live with the stench of his own ego, just like the rest of us do.

I have gay friends who are closeted and gay friends who couldn’t be more open if they had QUEER tattooed across their foreheads, and I think they should be allowed to get married if they want to. I read The Onion, Dilbert, Dan Savage’s sex advice, Salon.com, and quite a few blogs. The local librarians know me on sight. I waited in line until midnight when the fifth Harry Potter book came out. I can’t wait to see the new Chucky movie. I will probably shack up before I get married, but I won’t be proud of it. I wouldn’t buy an SUV, even if I could pay cash for one. I recycle. I shop at Wal-mart, but I feel guilty about it, and if they unionized, I would never cross the picket line. I think FOX News is about as fair and balanced as a seesaw with a gorilla on one end.

President Bush’s close relationships to people like John Ashcroft scare me. I hate the PATRIOT Act and am fearful of what might be part of PATRIOT II. The two dumbest trial balloons I’ve heard floated for his second-term agenda are privatizing Social Security and abolishing the income tax. When he says that God chose him to be President during this time of trial, I am embarrassed. I roll my eyes.

I am a pragmatic, disillusioned, realistic, and entirely ordinary member of the radical middle.

Here is why you didn’t get my vote:

You didn’t give me clear positions on the issues. I followed the news closely all through the campaign, but I still don’t understand Kerry’s position on Iraq. I know he voted for the IWR, but then he voted against the $87 billion. To you, that seemed to be a symbolic stand against Saddam Hussein (the IWR) but also a principled stand against a President who was out of control (against the $87 billion). To me, that was just confusing. He said he would have done everything different, but he also said that, knowing what he knew today (the day he was asked) he still would have cast the same vote. He said that he would bring allies to our side to share the burden, but he also said he would be sending 40,000 more of our troops. He said that we must finish the job, but he also said it was the wrong war at the wrong place and the wrong time. Huh?
You didn’t convince me that you would defend America against the threats of terrorism. Kerry seemed to think that terrorism is like any other crime. You catch the people responsible and put them in jail, and that’s that. After seeing the destruction – physical, financial, psychological, and emotional — wrought by the September 11th attacks, I do not understand how he could believe this. The hijackers lived among us, ate at our restaurants, shopped in our malls, and wounded us worse than we have ever been wounded before. How Kerry saw this as a crime, and not as a paradigm-shifting event that deserved a military response, both in direct retaliation and to keep it from ever happening again by going on the offensive, is something I don’t understand.
You insulted my intelligence by the constant mantra of Kerry’s service in Vietnam. Most of the men I know who are older than 50 served in some way, either in country or in the Coast Guard or other non-combat roles. I don’t see the relevance, and the drumbeat of “three purple hearts” struck me as manipulation. It was as if you were saying, “These dumbshit hawks want war? We’ll give ’em a real war hero! That’ll get their votes!”
Your constant references to the opinions of the rest of the world scared me, and I’m not talking about the “global test” comment. I don’t care what Europeans think about me or my country. I learned in high school that living my life with one eye on the opinions of everyone else leads only to unnecessary turmoil and pointless pain. Why didn’t you?
You disturbed me with your demonization of the rich. Rich people were talked about in this campaign as though they were all evil cheaters who had wage slaves tied up in the basement to be flogged for minimum wage, and what they didn’t earn from the wage slaves’ labor, they stole from nursing home residents. I am not rich, but I work hard, am learning about investing money, am continuing to improve my prospects for earning more money in the future, and fully expect to end up at least well-off someday. If I do, it will be because of my efforts and work, not because of winning “life’s lottery.” I know two millionaires personally. Both are entrepreneurs who took big risks and worked their backsides off for years to get where they are. Given that Kerry is married to a billionaire, this seemed especially hypocritical.
Here is something you could work on right about now: I could not stomach to listen to your incessant hatred of President Bush. Bush is stupid, Bush is an idiot, Bush is Hitler, Bush is a Nazi, Bush masturbates to photos of dead Iraqi babies, I’d vote for my dog before I’d vote for Bush, I’d vote for Castro before I’d vote for Bush, the Rethuglicans are fascists, Bush voters are treasonous, Bush should be impeached, blah blah blah blah blah blah. It was old three months after Bush’s inauguration, and it’s now just tiresome. I don’t hate my President, even though I voted for him with more reluctance than I can express and a queasy feeling in my stomach. Language like this makes you seem immature, needlessly vulgar, and obnoxious.
Lastly, and I hope this doesn’t hurt anyone feelings, because my objective is to make you think, not emote: I don’t think you really want my vote. I actively sought out your perspective. I tuned in regularly, for months, to your biggest media project, your serious effort to get your message out: Air America Radio. I listened all day on Good Friday as host after host mocked people like me for believing in Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. I listened as Janeane Garofalo, who was one of my favorite comedians for years, expressed hatred and disgust for Bush voters so vile that I ended my live stream feeling assaulted, as if I’d been vomited on. I listened the night that Mike Malloy told a young Republican to hang up the phone and go open a vein. I listened to pure, unadulterated venom that was so intense I sometimes cut the stream and cried. Tonight, your spokespeople on AAR have been calling people like me “snake-handling evangelicals,” and that was about the kindest thing I heard. Um…y’all? I’ve lived in the South my entire life and have never met a single snake-handler. Your attitudes, language, and behavior toward people like me: reasonable, thinking Christians who are quite moderate politically and who are just as well-informed as you are (yes, I’ve read all the PNAC essays, too, and yes, they scare me, too) is reminiscent of nothing so much as an abusive ex-lover, a crazy and drunken stalker. “I’ll make you love me, or you’ll regret it, you worthless bitch! Come here and let me beat you over the head and tell you how stupid and worthless you are! Then you’ll see it my way!”
I tried so hard to give you guys a chance. I’m young, I’m not extremely religious, and I’m supportive of liberal ideals like fighting for higher wages, stopping outsourcing of jobs, and standing up for the little guy. I wanted to vote Democratic this time, more than I can possibly put into words. You just didn’t give me the option.
President Bush won on values, yes, but not hatred of gays or any other stereotype you have in your head about Bush voters like me.

He won because he has values, clearly defined values, and even though I agree with little of what he believes, at least I know what he believes. At least I know that he really does believe in something. At least I know that he will do what he says he will do.

That’s disgustingly little, but unbelievably – you offered me less.

So, if you want my vote next time, and the vote of all my close friends, and the millions more like us that you refuse to believe exists, it’s pretty simple: take positions and don’t waffle on them. Stand up for America, especially with regard to terrorism. Shut up about what Germany and France think. Stop pretending that the only way to become wealthy in America is to cheat, for the sake of those of us who still want to get there. Treat the President with at least as much civility, if not respect, as you would’ve wanted right-wingers to give a President Kerry. Most importantly, please, please please, please, please, please stop abusing me. No more verbal and psychological and emotional savagery. Treat me like a voter whose vote you would actually appreciate getting, and you will get it.

Do you maybe, just maybe, see where I’m coming from?

I doubt it. But I had to try.

Sincerely,

A Very Sad American

President Bush

Well, what the fuck. The Republicans have just been projected winners in Ohio and Alaska, putting them at 269 Electoral College votes. This means I have again overestimated the intelligence of the American voter. I don’t see how we could have had a worse president than this Howdy Doody look-alike. The only thing we had going for us, I thought, is that we could always tell ourselves and the rest of the world that Bush and company backed into it, or that they stole the White House. And yet they get elected to commit further mayhem! Now we must face that we have intentionally brought this upon ourselves.

I predict that Bush’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage will not come to pass. Bush’s handlers don’t want to waste their time on stuff like that, when there are countries to invade and money and oil to steal. But acting like they supported it was effective in getting out the bigot vote, 2004.

Election Day

I am fried. For the past six months I have followed the minutiae of the 2004 Presidential Election. I have listened to it on the radio, watched it on TV and read it on the web, eagerly consuming poll information, strategies, the lucky and unlucky breaks both sides got, the scurrilous attacks and counterattacks, the great and bungled moments in the candidates’ speeches, their conventions, their rallies. their endorsements, the financial news and so on and on.

In the last ten days the campaign has revved up to a level that seems unprecedented, or maybe it’s just that I haven’t wanted a guy out of office this bad since Richard Nixon, so everything seems to be more intense than it is (Come to think of it, both Nixon and Bush II were out of touch with reality, but at least in Nixon’s case it was more of a clinical matter — he couldn’t help it.). Last night I came fully awake twice, and lay there worrying. This is very unusual for me.

The pollsters and pundits keep saying that the race is a “statistical dead heat,” whatever that means. Almost all the polls have shown a two-to-four-point lead for Bush more or less continuously for six weeks. Every now and then, Kerry creeps ahead by a point or three in one or another poll, but then slips back behind a couple of days later. In a basketball game, this could be a hopeful sign: You only need to be ahead by one point when the final buzzer sounds, and if you stay close, that could happen.

But in real-world politics, who is fooling whom here? Any given poll on any given day might show a “statistical dead heat,” but in all the polls one guy is leading 95% of the time right up to election day. Any one poll is “within the margin of error,” but the Bush lead still spans pretty much all the polls, and consistently. So I am getting ready for four more years of insane violence abroad, repression at home and a laissez faire economy

And yet…

  • There are millions of newly-registered voters, many of them not “pollable.” Will they vote, and for whom? They are mostly young, a demographic that should favor Kerry.
  • Who are all these early voters? Are they rushing to show their support for the status quo? Or unable to hold back their revulsion at what has been done in the past four years?
  • There are hundreds of thousands thrown out of work during this Republican term — millions if you count the teachers, scientists and manufacturing workers now working at McDonald’s. If they vote their pocketbooks…
  • There’s not much chance that anyone will be turned away this year in Florida, what with all the lawyers, polling judges and international observers on hand. This should work in Kerry’s favor.

These and other factors give me hope. I also derive some hope from Rush Limbaugh. I have been listening to his daily radio tirade for a while now, and the pitch of his rant has been rising lately. His attempts to spin literally everything that happens in the Republican direction have been getting hysterical in recent days. Probably his listeners get their news from him rather than from other sources, so they may not notice, but he has dropped any pretense of living in the real world lately, simply pulling out the facts he needs to make his points, ignoring everything else. He has researchers who find things out for him — perhaps they are telling him bad news, and he is going bonkers on the air trying to make it not so. I can only hope.

This crop of religious right-wing nutcases that has taken over the White House has done a lot of damage, and they are planning to do more. The nation will probably wake up some time during the next four years if they get reelected (perhaps I should say elected), and vote the Party out decisively in 2008. I hope it’s not too late by then. In the meantime, it would be delicious fun to throw them out now.