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(Oct. 31, 2004)

        I'm all out of glib. I'm down to serious.
                I'm sickened every time I hear some smug American say with a cheesey aura of world wisdom, "they're all crooked," in reference to the candidates, and "it really doesn't matter who you vote for."
                While there is normally some truth to these dessicated cliches, it's different this time.
                It matters who you vote for.
                Bush and Cheney manifest so much that is bad, wrong, ugly, venal, deceitful, cunning, arrogant, dangerous, heartless, and brutal that I just don't know where to begin. It doesn't really matter, as there is no persuading to be done here. People are beyond persuasion; most have little power of analysis to begin with, and Fox takes care of the rest.
                I have written columns and posted links to articles and commentaries on this small site for the past couple of years, attempting to point out the lie of the Iraq war; how it was planned long before 9/11, and how 9/11 was a cynically exploited excuse to rally understandably fearful citizens to the "cause." The cause, as put forth by the neoconservative doctrine, the Project for a New American Century, is the U.S. military and economic domination of the world, with fossil fuel and natural resources as the prize.
               It is now estimated that 100,000 innocent Iraqis died because of the U.S. invasion of that country---step one in the PNAC "global pax Americana"---an invasion not motivated to "free the Iraqi people," but to impose U.S. military presence in the Middle East on behalf of oil companies, Israel, and empire. There are intelligent people who admit to and defend even this rationale, but I call it madness.
               I certainly call the murder of up to 100,000 innocent Iraqis madness. "Operation Enduring Freedom" indeed. These dead are enduring permanent freedom from everything. Remember: a few thousand died in the World Trade Center collapse (and they were from many countries, as is often forgotten.) But rile up the "Don't Tread on Me" USA, and it will strike back many times over, calling for perpetual war against pretty much anyone it deems an enemy, no matter the "collateral damage."
                Don't believe it? Read the PNAC. Still don't believe it? I don't care. I don't want to hear from you. I don't want to see you, think about you, know your name, or hear your ignorant prattle and pious comic-book religious diatribe about Armageddon and all that stone-stupid folderol. Just plug into Fox News, go to McDonald's and eat your pre-fab processed cow sandwiches made of glorious rainforest. Go shoot your animals with telescopic sites and feel like real men. Go drive your big truuuuuuuuucks with the faded Old Glories flapping in the wind.
               American glory is fast getting very faded, indeed.
This is a choice between intelligence and stupidity, light and dark, sinking into blood and money and grabbing at some oily vines and pulling the country back toward solid ground.
               Those 100,000 dead people were better off under Saddam Hussein. They were alive then. Hussein was a tawdry little Arab tribal leader behaving much as many a tawdry Arab tribal leader has behaved for centuries. He held together the three contentious groups that comprise the cobbled-together nation of Iraq (and countless lesser factions) with threat and brute force. The U.S. did lots and lots of business with him, sold him weapons of mass destruction, looked the other way while he used them, and tortured and killed---until he began posturing about the "mother of all wars" and other silly stuff. Until he thought we gave him permission to take Kuwait.
                By 1999, the fix was in. Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Karl Rove, and the various other so-called Neoconservatives took charge. Cheney would be actual president, Bush would be a macho cowboy cheerleader figurehead, and the Carlyle Group/Halliburton set would rule the roost in the dawn of the glorious Pax Americana corporatocracy. First stop: Baghdad.
                This is what actually happened, folks.
                Then they set about securing power by scaring the living hell out of this country with the most juvenile devices, like the color-coded "terror" alerts and "war footing" and periodic John Wayne remarks from Bush and Ashcroft. When Bush said---which he did---that the USA is like one big ten-year-old child, he really meant it. And he should know. Petulant overgrown spoiled rich boy that he is.
                Cheney is the ghoulish one, though. Imagine having the blood of 100,000 innocent people on your hands, let alone the 1100 dead U.S. soldiers and 20,000 wounded. Only a megalomaniac idealogue can live comfortably with such things, and that brings to mind superstars like Stalin, Mao, and that little moustachioed fellow.
Cheney feels no grief over these deaths. And Bush? Well, he has been just having himself a whale of a good ol' Texas time, swaggering around as the rootin'-tootin' new sheriff in town---with God, who replaced his bottle of booze, on his side.
                It's really all too horrible and banal to write about. I don't have the stomach or intellectual prowess for it anyhow. Good thing people like Kevin Phillips, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now!, the great Bill Moyers, Greg Palast, Dave Lindorff, Paul Krugman, Connie Rice (not Condy) of The Advancement Project, Robert Scheer, Arianna Huffington, Frank Rich, and others are around to do some hard thinking.
                But they are up against Fox and O'Reilly and Limbaugh and other voices of doom---and more important, they are up against people who do not even read, let alone think.
                Which brings me back to the election.
                This is a choice between intelligence and stupidity, light and dark, sinking into blood and money and grabbing at some oily vines and pulling the country back toward solid ground. This nation is not split between left and right, liberal and conservative---it's split between the thinking and the unthinking. It's that simple. Some aren't capable of thinking, though they try; some don't try, and some think that thinking is for "girlie-men."
               Any thinking person presented with the facts of the horrors created by Cheney and Bush can only reject their policies, and passionately. These men and their aides are, as former Calif. Representative Pete McCloskey put it, "enemies of science." They are pillagers of the environment. They are murderers of humanity. Most of all, they are manipulators and liars. They have cynically, cruelly exploited the fears of people whom they know to be less intelligent and barely informed, to further policies that in no way benefit these people or the world. They have sneered at the trust of the American citizenry, while pretending to honor it, and have used it to facilitate their misdeeds. They are the shallowest and most callous of robberbarons and warmongers.
                Whether these man-monsters actually are demented enough to think that their policies are "good for America" is the stuff of parlor games. Cheney a patriot? He's a hard-line ultra-rightwinger "chickenhawk" who would have made Barry Goldwater uncomfortable, who lurked in the shadows of power for decades before ascending to his hidden presidency. He claims to revile anything that remotely suggests "big government" (read: social programs aimed at caring for the country, and alleviating its gravest problems---education and health care) while hypocritically steering a course straight for the biggest government: Big Brother. This is a sort of "patriotism" that Mussolini understood. The Neocons have changed Old Glory into a corporate logo. They are loyal to free market, not freedom. They believe in freedom of suppression, not freedom of expression.
                But. . .enough.
               The country is split, and it almost seems genetic, doesn't it? There are people who consider, analyze, and remain optimistic. People who look for cooperation as the ultimate answer to all ills. And there are those whose personalities are prone to authoritarianism and brutality. People who seek to oppress and control as the ultimate answer to all ills.
               One might argue that both approaches have failed, as humanity is immersed in the same struggle that it has always been, only in larger numbers. On the other hand, the very survival and achievement of the human race is testament to the power of cooperation, compromise, deference, and hope.
                John Kerry is the thinking person's candidate.Yes, he is creature of "the corridors of power," where he has quietly labored for over twenty years. Have his values been co-opted along the way? It would seem unavoidable. After all, as a wise man once said, "there is something fundamentally wrong with a man who seeks power, by virtue of the fact that he seeks it." But Kerry is also a man who showed the greatest valiance as a young soldier in Vietnam, and as a soldier fighting against a pointless war when he returned home. Some of that person must still exist.
                To have to point out that he has incalculably greater life experience, strength of character, intelligence, and success in every aspect of life than the wretched, pathetic, shriveled martinet who poses as president now is a sad chore. And perhaps it's irrelevant, considering what is perhaps the key observation to be made, as spoken by a friend recently: "I think Kerry is a man who tries to do the right thing."
               Will he do the right thing in Iraq? Is there a "right thing" to do there? Will he be able to in any way repair the terrible damage to this country's reputation, to the environment, the economy, education, and yes, world peace, that Cheney and Bush have so insanely brought about?
              There is only one way to find out, and that is to vote for him.
              To do otherwise is to strike a blow for the unfeeling, the fearful, the unthinking. A blow for darkness.

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