Roundup: Media's Take
This is where we excerpt articles from the media that take a historical approach to events in the news.
David Aaronovitch, writing for the Guardian (Feb. 24, 2004)
I know it's true that, as an old friend in Australia pointed out to me in an email last week,"It doesn't really matter very much if you were wrong or I was wrong. One hundred years from now, some very clever historians with access to material we all know nothing about may prove the point conclusively, one way or another. What matters is what happens now."
Now, nearly a year after the beginning of the coalition invasion of Iraq, something is beginning to be created, and it doesn't look like anything that anybody quite anticipated. It is more complex, more difficult, more beset by difficulties and tragedies than anyone who supported the invasion ever allowed before the war.
Judging from those relatively few reports that do not deal with the security situation, it seems that parts of the national infrastructure of Iraq, such as electricity and water supply, have taken far longer to repair or construct than expected. Many hospitals still suffer terrible shortages. Unemployment is over 50%. Crime and fear of crime are very high in some places, with many abductions and murders. There is widespread disappointment at the gulf between the material promises and the reality of post-Saddam Iraq.
And, of course, there are the bombings and ambushes, aimed at the Iraqi police, NGO offices, CNN journalists, Shi'a clerics, communists and soon, doubtless, as those targets protect themselves, at buses and markets. The security failure above all has helped to create the other failures. Attempts by coalition forces to contain such attacks have had the inevitable effect of alienating sections of the population whose houses have been raided or who have been subject to rough treatment by occupying forces.
I bundle these negatives together because we are now four months away from the handover of power from the coalition authority to the new sovereign Iraqi entity; an entity whose shape and origin we are still not sure of. And because, between them, they constitute a major reason why the influential organisation, Human Rights Watch, made the judgment a few weeks ago that the invasion of Iraq could not be justified on humanitarian grounds, the grounds that people like me have specifically used to justify it."The difficulty of establishing stable institutions in Iraq," wrote HRW,"is making the country an increasingly unlikely staging ground for promoting democracy in the Middle East."...
...And here we come to it. Three weeks ago, a few days after the devastating bombs in the Kurdish city of Erbil, a representative of the Kurdish PUK, Barham Salih, addressed a meeting of the council of the Socialist International in Madrid."Friends," he told them,"our nightmare of the Saddam Hussein fascist tyranny is over. The world should have acted sooner to end the killing fields and stop mass graves in Iraq. Good social democrats should be making the moral argument that the war of liberation in Iraq came too late for so many innocent victims of Saddam's fascist tyranny. And the lesson for the international community should be (that) it must be prepared to act in time and pre-empt terrible tragedies from happening again anywhere else in the world."
I respect HRW, but there is, in Salih's words, a reproach and a demand, neither of which can be ignored."Most Iraqis," Salih went on,"see the moral and political imperative for the war of liberation as overwhelming." The Guardian's own Salam Pax put it in his different way, two weeks ago."Saddam is gone, thanks to you. Was it worth it? Be assured it was. We all know that it got to a point where we would have never been rid of Saddam without foreign intervention; I just wish it would have been a bit better planned."
Meanwhile many good things have been happening. The Free Prisoners Association, for victims of the old regime, now has 17 offices throughout Iraq. There are 200 newspapers and Iraqis can debate and watch and listen freely. There is, for the first time in the country's history, a woman police officer, and women's organisations are active and demonstrating for equal rights. The Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) has recognised the Iraqi Federation of Trades Unions as"the legitimate and legal representatives of the labour movement in Iraq", despite an unexplained American raid on the IFTU's HQ in December. The UN is back in Iraq and helping to prepare the ground for elections in the next 18 months. The green shoots of civic society are pressing through what Salih has called the"broken clay" of the Iraqi state. This is despite the killing and bombing of organisations associated with this new Iraq...
...You could, as Tariq Ali and John Pilger have suggested, desire victory for the Iraqi"resistance" despite its massacres of the innocent, on the basis that, as Ali has put it,"Occupations are usually ugly. How, then, can resistance be pretty?" Or, in Pilger's words,"While we abhor and condemn the continuing loss of innocent life in Iraq, we have no choice now but to support the resistance, for if the resistance fails, the 'Bush gang' will attack another country. If they succeed, a grievous blow will be suffered by the Bush gang."
Or you could decide to heed Salih."I call upon you to help Iraqi democrats in this critical juncture of the history of the Middle East. To help us transform our country from the land of mass graves and aggression to the land of peace, justice and democracy. I can see an Iraq that is democratic, that is an anchor for peace in this troubled part of the world and a partner to civilised nations in pursuit of the universal values of human rights and justice. Thank you."
Craig Gordon, in Newsday (Feb. 22, 2004):
They gathered in a Detroit motor lodge in early 1971, veterans calling on brother veterans to speak of the unspeakable - war crimes and atrocities they had committed in Vietnam in the name of America .
The so-called Winter Soldier meetings were controversial even then, and a young John Kerry made their most horrific testimony the opening paragraphs of his own address to a Senate panel three months later, an appearance that catapulted him to a leading role in the anti-war movement.
Kerry told senators that more than 150 veterans testified in Detroit that they or fellow soldiers had raped Vietnamese women, cut off ears and heads, used electrical torture, cut off limbs, "razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam . . ."
Since then, Kerry has sought to downplay his own involvement with the three-day Winter Soldier meetings. His campaign said Friday that Kerry "did not speak" at the event - and that he did not testify to his own personal experiences in Vietnam - but was there only as an observer and to record what was happening.
Yet a transcript of the meetings in the Congressional Record shows Kerry did have a role at Winter Soldier that he has not generally acknowledged - that of a "moderator" on one of the panels of veterans who testified, a role organizers now say was to question the veterans and draw out the most remarkable aspects of their testimony.
Douglas Brinkley, a historian who wrote a book on Kerry's experiences in Vietnam and in the anti-war movement, said his research also showed that Kerry had acted as a moderator.
"Kerry participated in Winter Soldier in the sense that for the Vietnam veterans that came there, there were moderators, and there were eyewitnesses. And Kerry was a moderator or questioner. He was there asking questions of all these guys - without revealing what he did over there," Brinkley said in an interview.
Brinkley sees Kerry's role in observing the testimony in Detroit as similar to what he did while tape-recording oral histories while in Vietnam . "He was really trying to get an indictment going against the U.S. government - for misadventures in Vietnam , or, one might say, war crimes."
Brinkley agrees that Kerry did not play a central role in Winter Soldier, but said, "I don't think that's fair to say, he didn't speak at all, that he was mute in the corner. . . [he was] playing more a reporter role than a spokesperson, more of a questioner, questioning these guys."
Late yesterday, Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade acknowledged that Kerry did play a role in the Winter Soldier hearings but said it was far less formalized than the title of "moderator" would suggest - because, Wade said, the event itself was relatively informal, with small groups of veterans gathering throughout the day to offer their stories. Kerry did not know he was listed as a "moderator" in the Congressional Record but viewed his role as a "quasi-journalist" gathering information he later compiled into a book....
The historical record shows that atrocities did occur in Vietnam, as in the My Lai massacre or the so-called Tiger Force activities that were recently uncovered, but Kerry's emphasis on them in 1971 infuriated many veterans, even some of his former crewmates.
Republicans already have signaled that they plan to use the other part of Kerry's Vietnam experience against him as fodder for television ads, including his decision to speak at an anti-war rally with Jane Fonda, who bankrolled the Winter Soldier meetings.
Fonda later became a deeply divisive figure for her 1972 trips to North Vietnam . An anti-Kerry veterans site has posted a photo of the two in the audience at a September 1970 rally at Valley Forge , Pa. , with Kerry several rows behind Fonda. A flier on the rally also lists Kerry and Fonda as speakers, but Fonda recently said, "I don't even think we shook hands."
Kerry's testimony before the Senate panel in April 1971 wasn't the only time he had addressed the question of atrocities. On "Meet the Press" in 1971, Kerry said he believes he himself had committed "atrocities" simply by engaging in some of the tactics common among U.S. forces in Vietnam - firing into free-fire zones, where anything that moved was a target.
Yet on the campaign trail now, Kerry offers a somewhat selective recitation of his post-war days. He rarely mentions the most dramatic moment of a weeklong protest he organized in Washington - when hundreds of veterans tossed away medals, ribbons and other items in protest. It was revealed years later that he had thrown his ribbons but not his own medals, instead tossing the medals two veterans who couldn't attend had given him.
Kerry's campaign has not highlighted the Winter Soldier part of his Senate testimony, but instead has noted another famous line from the speech - "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
Kerry denies charges that his Senate testimony insulted veterans. "If you read what I said, it is very clearly an indictment of leadership. ... And it's the leaders who are responsible, not the soldiers," Kerry said last week. "The fact is if we want to re-debate the war on Vietnam in 2004, I'm ready for that. It was a mistake, and I'm proud of having stood up and shared with America my perceptions of what was happening."
Wade said Kerry has chosen to highlight his other anti-war activities instead of Winter Soldier because he had a much greater role in those - conceiving and organizing the Dewey Canyon event, giving speeches and publishing a book.
In the Congressional Record, the transcript does not delineate between what Kerry and fellow moderator Jan Crumb said on the panel that day, attributing all quotes simply to "moderator." Crumb, who now goes by the name Jan Barry, said in an interview he couldn't recall but concurred that Kerry did not play a central role in the event.
Yet the three days of gripping testimony made a deep impression on Kerry, who said the Winter Soldiers described not "isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."
Even among some who testified at Winter Soldier, there was a bit of surprise that Kerry chose to highlight the most graphic charges made during the three-day hearing - charges they feared would cement the image of Vietnam vets as "baby killers."
"I was surprised when he gave his speech in Washington that he referred to the things like raping women, shooting dogs," said Dennis McQuade, a Wisconsin social worker who said he testified at Winter Soldier under his former name, Dennis Butts. "It grabs attention, but again, not all the testimony was about that kind of thing."
Kerry critics, like Mackubin Thomas Owens, a Marine platoon leader in Vietnam who now teaches at the Naval War College , accused Kerry of helping "slander a generation of soldiers who had done their duty with honor and restraint." One professor, Guenter Lewy, wrote a 1978 book that attacked the credibility of the Winter Soldier hearings, saying a Navy investigation found some coached or bogus testimony.
Editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Feb. 23, 2004):
For both sides [in the gay marriage debate], the Constitution is more than what the word literally means: a system for "constituting" the federal government. Especially after the addition of the Bill of Rights and post-Civil War amendments designed to protect recently freed slaves and their descendants, the Constitution is at least semi-sacred, and not lightly to be changed.
It isn't just that amending the Constitution requires super majorities -- two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-fourths of the states. There is a popular conception that the Constitution and what the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan called its "majestic generalities" encode timeless truths. It follows that the document should be amended only on rare occasions -- even if such a cautious approach locks in unfortunate interpretations of the Constitution by the courts.
Seventeen years ago I participated in a sort of mini-constitutional convention sponsored by the American Assembly. Participants -- judges, constitutional lawyers, political scientists, historians , journalists -- were given a blank check to revise the Constitution, perhaps undertaking radical revisions like a move toward a British-style parliamentary system. When the oratorical dust cleared, we had concluded anti-climactically that the structure of the Constitution "has, in general, proved sound, given the Civil War amendments and other adjustments. There is no fundamental reason to believe that it will not work as well in the closing years of this century and into the next."
This sense of caution also helps to explain the moribund state of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. True, some feminists still agitate for adoption of the amendment declaring that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Yet the effort has stalled. That is partly because some of the legal victories the ERA was to have produced have been secured under the current Constitution, such as the Supreme Court's 1996 decision requiring that women be admitted to the Virginia Military Institute. But it also probably reflects a preference for new rights to be discerned by courts in the Constitution as it is.
This attitude is not new. In his book "A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture," Michael Kammen cites the results of a Roper poll taken in 1939 and again in 1946. Respondents were asked:
Which of the following most nearly represents your opinion of the American form of government?
1) Our form of government, based on the Constitution, is as near-perfect as it can be and no important change should be made in it.
2) The Constitution has served its purpose well, but it has not kept up with the times and should be thoroughly revised to make it fit for present-day needs.
Kammen notes that "a strong preference for the first option persisted."
The notion that the Constitution is "near-perfect as it is" (or as it has been interpreted by the courts) may be the best check against not only a marriage amendment but two others that are waiting in the wings. One is the much-introduced amendment to overturn Supreme Court decisions protecting the right to burn the American flag as a political protest. The other is a "religious freedom amendment," newly fine-tuned by its author, Rep. Ernest Istook of Oklahoma .
John Tierney, in the NYT (Feb. 22, 2004):
[John] Edwards has been criticized for not having enough government experience, but a pleasant disposition can overcome a lot of handicaps. Intellectuals made fun of Eisenhower's mangled syntax, but they were outnumbered by voters wearing"I Like Ike" buttons. Gary Hart's candidacy in 1988 was ended by his sexual indiscretion, but Bill Clinton survived his, thanks in no small part to his charm. Al Gore may have been a better debater than George W. Bush, but the audience was put off by his supercilious manner.
"A majority of Americans disagreed with Ronald Reagan's policies in 1984, but he won because they liked him personally," said Mr. Luntz, who has advised Republican candidates."People look at presidential candidates in a special way because they can't get away from the president. They can ignore a senator or governor, but a president will be in their living rooms for four years. At a minimum they have to like him."
Michael Deaver, the crafter of Mr. Reagan's image, said that in his cheerfulness Mr. Edwards reminded him of Mr. Reagan, as did Mr. Edwards's response to criticisms by Mr. Kerry.
"Edwards responded to Kerry's negative statement by saying, 'Well, I wouldn't put it that way. I would say it this way,'" Mr. Deaver recalled."That was exactly the way Reagan would rephrase a negative question and put a positive twist on it."
Daniel Hill, the author of"Body of Truth," an analysis of body language, has studied the candidates' styles by tracking 23 facial expressions during televised debates. He counts, for instance, the number of"social smiles" using just the mouth,"genuine smiles" using the eyes and mouth and signs of disgust or anger.
"Dean consistently showed anger by pressing his lips together or tensely holding his mouth slightly open," Mr. Hill said."Last fall, Kerry was showing definite signs of contempt and disgust by raising his upper lip, but that's gone now. He's trying to be more likable by smiling more, but rarely can he get past the social smile to the genuine smile. Edwards gets there much more often. He conveys the most optimism, and lately he's been adding gravitas by knitting his eyebrows to show that he feels the pain of the other America."
If Mr. Edwards wins the charm contest, why is Mr. Kerry winning the primaries? Likability is not everything, especially in times of war. Richard Nixon proved that in 1968, when he defeated everyone's favorite uncle, Hubert Humphrey. Just as voters then worried about the Vietnam War and social unrest, today's voters are concerned about Iraq and terrorism, and they may prefer Mr. Kerry, a war hero, even if they don't particularly want to invite him for drinks.
When Americans were asked to describe Mr. Kerry in a national poll last week by the Pew Research Center, two of the most common words of praise were"good" and"qualified," while two criticisms were"arrogant" and"phony." The strengths of his character and experience outweighed the objections to his personality, giving him an overall favorable-to-unfavorable rating of two to one. Mr. Edwards had the same favorable rating.
Gary Younge, in the Guardian (Feb. 23, 2004):
As civil war encroaches, civil society implodes and civil political discourse evaporates, one of the few things all Haitians can agree on is their pride in Toussaint L'Ouverture, who lead the slave rebellion in Haiti that established the world's first black republic."The transformation of slaves, trembling in hundreds before a single white man, into a people able to organise themselves and defeat the most powerful European nations of their day is one of the great epics of revolutionary struggle and achievement," wrote the late Trinidadian intellectual CLR James in his book The Black Jacobins. The transformation of that achievement into a nation riven by political violence, ravaged by Aids and devastated by poverty is a tragedy of epic proportions.
The nation's 200th anniversary this year looks back on 13 coups and 19 years of American occupation, and now once again looks forward to more bloodshed and instability. The country's political class must bear their share of responsibility for where they go from here. Western powers, particularly France and the United States, must also take responsibility for how they got to this parlous place to begin with. If Haiti shows all the trappings of a failed state, then you do not have to look too hard or too far to see who has failed it....
But if the bicentennial offers a bleak backdrop for the immediate fate of the first black republic, it also offers the opportunity to place these events in some historical perspective. For ever since Haitian slaves expressed their desire to breathe freely, western powers have been attempting to strangle its desire for democracy and prosperity at birth.
"Men make their own history," wrote Karl Marx."But they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under given circumstances directly encountered and inherited from the past."
From the outset Haiti inherited the wrath of the colonial powers, which knew what a disastrous example a Haitian success story would be. In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte:"The freedom of the negroes, if recognised in St Domingue [as Haiti was then known] and legalised by France, would at all times be a rallying point for freedom-seekers of the New World." He sent 22,000 soldiers (the largest force to have crossed the Atlantic at the time) to recapture the"Pearl of the Antilles".
France, backed by the US, later ordered Haiti to pay 150m francs in gold as reparations to compensate former plantation and slave owners as well as for the costs of the war in return for international recognition. At today's prices that would amount to £10bn. By the end of the 19th century, 80% of Haiti's national budget was going to pay off the loan and its interest, and the country was locked into the role of a debtor nation - where it remains today.
Any prospect of planting a stable political culture foundered on the barren soil of economic impoverishment, military siege and international isolation (for the first 58 years the US refused to even recognise Haiti's existence). In 1915, fearing that internal strife would compromise its interests, the US invaded, and remained until 1934.
Richard S. Dunham, in Business Week (Feb. 23, 2004):
It was reckless for Academy Award winning filmmaker Michael Moore to accuse Bush of"desertion" because of gaps in his National Guard service record, when the son of the then-U.N. ambassador was working on a Republican Senate campaign in Alabama. It was shameful when retired General Wesley Clark, then a Presidential candidate, declined to disavow comments by Moore, a Clark supporter. And it was hysterical hyperbole when Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe charged that Bush had gone AWOL. No facts back up the Democratic boss's McCarthyesque charge.
McAuliffe may have achieved his purpose. The news media focused determinedly on Bush's inability to verify his 1972 whereabouts. The White House's stumbling response to the press frenzy only made the story bigger -- at least for a few days. McAuliffe can proudly declare,"Mission Accomplished."
But just because the gambit paid off for McAuliffe, at least in the short run, doesn't mean it was right. His charge was the equivalent of Joe McCarthy's infamous phantom list of supposed communists in the State Dept. Guilty until proven innocent.
"THE COMRADE APPEARS." Back to Kerry. The Democratic front-runner has also become a target of the modern-day McCarthyites -- using the Internet. Doctored Vietnam-era photos have shown up in cyberspace, in an attempt to discredit the decorated Navy lieutenant as an unpatriotic antiwar radical. One particularly odious example: A photo of Kerry at a congressional hearing was altered to insert a Viet Cong flag in the background. Another picture conveniently added radical actress Jane Fonda (hated by pro-war forces as"Hanoi Jane") to an otherwise routine photo of young Kerry.
It reminds me of a terrific exhibit at the Newseum a couple of years ago called"The Commissar Vanishes." In that exhibit, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin excised the images of communist functionaries as he had them executed or exiled. History was altered to suit the political needs of the day. This anti-Kerry conspiracy could be called,"The Comrade Appears."
Those of us baby boomers who came to political consciousness during Vietnam -- including this correspondent, who was a bit too young to face the dilemma of Bush and Clinton -- still are deeply affected by the conflict that poisoned a generation of public discourse. Younger voters don't understand what all the fuss is about."Ancient history," some of them declare."Get over it."
NO-WIN DECISIONS. That's good advice. Democrats and Republicans alike should try to get over it. Most voters have. According to a Feb. 18-19 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 79% of Americans say Bush's National Guard experience will make no difference in their voting decision. Three-fourths of voters said the same thing about Kerry's Vietnam experience.
Just 21% of voters -- almost all Republicans -- said Kerry's activism in Vietnam Veterans Against the War would make them less likely to support him, while 14% said they'd be more liable to cast a vote for him because he became a protester. The overwhelming majority, once again, couldn't care less.
Bush, Clinton, and Kerry all faced no-win decisions over service in Vietnam. Kerry went to Southeast Asia and has medals to show for it. Bush protected the Texas coast from the Vietnamese, as Arizona GOP Senator John McCain put it in a 2000 campaign jest. Bush has an honorable discharge to show for his service.
Michael McAteer, writing for the Toronto Star (Feb. 21, 2004)
U.S. President George W. Bush will be re-elected in November in a landslide.
We have it on the highest authority: God.
It appears that God passed the prediction on to TV evangelist and right-wing Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson who passed it on to his television flock via his 700 Club program on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded.
"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk," Robertson said, telling his TV audience the revelation came after several days of prayer."I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blow-out election in 2004. It's shaping up that way."...
...Ever since he found God in the 1980s, giving up the bottle for the Bible to help kick his alcoholism, Bush has courted the religious right to further his political ambitions.
Making no secret of his own religious conviction that the world is engaged in a moral battle between good and evil, he has peppered his speeches with biblical language and imagery like a preacher at a Bible-belt revival meeting....
..."We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone," Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address."We do not know, we do not claim to now all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the living God behind all life, all history. May He guide us now. And may God bless the United States of America."Bush is said to read the Bible daily, pray in the Oval office and occasionally open cabinet meetings with prayer. Jesus is the political philosopher and thinker he most admires.
The problem, as U.S. theologian suggests, is not with Bush's sincerity but with his evident conviction that he's doing God's will. With the words"God wills it," Pope Urban blessed the first Christian crusade against the"infidels" in 1095, leading to almost two centuries of bloody battles and wholesale laughter. If Bush believes he is God's agent and sees military victories as a validation of a God-entrusted mission, then only God knows how far his anointed will go.
Some mainstream theologians conclude that Bush suffers from a messianic complex, that his theology is that of John Calvin's, the French/Swiss Protestant reformer who believed he was called by God to reform the church, intertwined politics and religion, and divided the world into the elect and the damned.
Jim Wallis of Sojourners, a U.S. ecumenical justice and peace Christian community working for justice and peace, says that Bush, by confusing nation, church and God, has embraced a theology more American civil religion than Christian faith. But, as Wallis argues, God has not given the responsibility for overcoming evil to a nation-state much less to a superpower with enormous wealth and particular interest."To confuse the role of God with that of the American nation, as George Bush seems to do, is a serious theological error that some might say borders as ideology and blasphemy," Wallis says. In a recent article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, theologian, historian and author Karen Armstrong notes that you don't hear much about the Beatitudes from the Christian right."The Christian right today has absorbed the endemic violence in American society: they oppose reform of the gun laws and support the death penalty," she writes."They never quote the Sermon on the Mount but base their xenophobic and aggressive theology on (the Book of) Revelation."... ...God bless us and save us.
Dan Eggen, in the Washington Post (Feb. 14, 2004):
President Bush agreed to meet privately with the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but has ruled out offering any testimony in a public setting, according to a White House statement released last night.
In addition, the commission's executive director said that Vice President Cheney, former president Bill Clinton and former vice president Al Gore have tentatively agreed to provide similar private testimony to the panel. None has committed to testify publicly.
Commission officials and historians said Bush's decision appears to be unprecedented, allowing an outside, nonprosecutorial panel to question a sitting president about some of the most sensitive national security issues of his administration. During the investigation into the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, for example, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson submitted a three-page statement to the Warren Commission but was not subjected to questioning.
"Outside of a legal investigation, I cannot recall any sitting president meeting with an investigative body of this kind," said Philip D. Zelikow, the commission's executive director, who is a history professor at the University of Virginia. "It is highly unusual."
Among the issues likely to be pursued during interviews with Bush and the others are whether either the Bush or Clinton administration had specific clues that could have provided a warning of the Sept. 11 plot and whether the government was sufficiently focused on the threat posed by al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, commission sources said. The questioning is also certain to include discussions of intelligence reports known as the President's Daily Brief, including one from Aug. 6, 2001, that discussed the possibility of hijackings by al Qaeda, sources said.
From the LAT (Feb. 15, 2004):
A look at Bush's military record
During the Vietnam War, George W. Bush was admitted to the Texas Guard and received a commission as a second lieutenant. Some important dates:
January: While still at Yale, Bush completes Air Force officer qualification test in New Haven, Conn.
May: Texas Air National Guard Commander Col. Walter B. "Buck" Staudt meets with Bush, recommends him for a direct commission to second lieutenant and acceptance for pilot training. Bush joins the Guard on May 27 as an enlistee at Ellington Air Force Base, near Houston.
July 12: Federal Recognition Examining Board says Bush is qualified for promotion to second lieutenant with the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.
July 14: Enters basic training in San Antonio, Texas.
August: Completes basic training.
September: Promoted to second lieutenant.
November: Undergoes pilot training at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
December: Begins serving as a trainee with the 111th Squadron.
January: Assigned flight duty as an F-102 fighter pilot with the 111th Squadron.
August: Three-member board recommends promotion to first lieutenant.
Regularly attends drills and alerts at Ellington; begins working at a Houston agricultural company.
January-April: Continues service in the Texas Air National Guard.
May 24: Requests permission to transfer to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, so he can work in the Senate campaign of Winton "Red" Blount Jr. , a family friend. Texas unit does not approve transfer.
August: Fails to take required flight physical.
September: Suspended from flight status.
September: Requests and receives approval for a three-month transfer to 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in Montgomery, Ala.
October: Is paid for two days service; it is not certain where he served.
November: Returns to his Texas unit at Ellington, serves four days.
January: Serves six days; according to White House records, has a dental exam at Dannelly Field Air National Guard Base in Montgomery, Ala., on Jan. 6.
April-July: Serves 40 days, participating in nonflying drills. Last day for which he is paid is July 30.
September: Requests discharge from the Texas Air National Guard so he can attend Harvard Business School.
October: Receives honorable discharge eight months before the end of his enlistment.
Renato Redentor Constantino, a writer and painter based in the Philippines, writes a weekly column for the Philippine national daily, TODAY (whose online partner is abs-cbnnews.com), in www.tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute (Feb. 20, 2004):
And so here we are, at the crossroads of another day, speechless and troubled by what is before us, so anxious to engage in a conversation with what ought to be, and yet so unaware of or indifferent to a past waiting to explain itself, to be heard, to be remembered.
"You have to understand the Arab mind," said Capt. Todd Brown, a U.S. company commander with the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq, who had led his troops in encasing Abu Hishma in a razor-wire fence to contain the resistance suspected to be coming from the village."The only thing they understand is force."
Over a century ago, during a period of history that few Americans today can recall, another U.S. general uttered similar words. It would take at least"ten years of bayonet treatment" to make Filipinos accept American rule, said Gen. Arthur MacArthur, even as, to deprive the"enemy" of popular support, U.S. troops herded whole Filipino villages into concentration camps -- precursors of the strategic hamlets used by the United States during the Vietnam War and the razor-wire fences now employed by the troops commanded by Capt. Brown to enclose defiant Iraqi villages.
History. How much better off we would all be today if only we remembered more -- beginning with the origins of the relationship between the Philippines and the United States, a chapter which in our history is called the Philippine-American War; a chapter that began on February 4, 1899 and lasted an endless decade, which largely defined not only the pathways Filipinos were forced to take over the next century but the imperial directions that have framed recent U.S. history as well.
By returning to this vast and incredibly brutal conflict, Americans (and Filipinos) today may yet find what they have lost: the key to understanding the depravities of the present and, perhaps, their collective deliverance.
The triggers for war
For an empire perennially weighed down by the necessity of justifying aggression, triggers for war are providentially everywhere, to be pulled expediently whether real or not. In the spring of 2003, it was weapons of mass destruction in Never-Never Land or al-Qaeda connections. In 1964 in Vietnam, it was an attack by North Vietnamese gunboats. In 1899, it was"savages attacking our boys." Anything will do.
When Lyndon Johnson's administration launched its long-planned full-scale bombing campaign in Vietnam, it did so using the authority granted by Congress under the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, named after the site where North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly attacked U.S. destroyers on August 2 and 4, 1964. With domestic concern growing over an escalating U.S. military intervention, the Tonkin Gulf incidents gave the Johnson government the leverage it needed to pressure Congress to authorize an open assault on Vietnam. Reports of the alleged attacks caused such a rumpus that, by August 7, 1964, within three days of the second incident, Congress had passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution by a vote of 416 to 0 in the House of Representatives and with just two dissenting votes in the Senate.
Only later was it revealed that a draft version of the resolution had been prepared prior to the alleged attacks; that the provocation on August 2 actually came from the U.S. side -- an American destroyer deliberately entered North Vietnam's territorial waters escorting South Vietnamese boats -- and that the August 4 attack did not take place at all. By the time the Johnson administration's manipulation of the incidents was exposed, however, the US was already deeply" committed" to a full-scale American-led war in Vietnam.
As we cycle backwards in history, we find a similar and no less bloody tale of cold-blooded imperial calculation and script-writing.
To kill a republic
The last decade of 1890 was an invigorating time for Filipino revolutionaries. After four centuries of largely inchoate revolts, Filipinos had united in 1892 under the banner of an organization whose goal was to overthrow Spanish colonial rule and create a democratic Filipino republic. By 1896, born out of well-articulated aspirations for national economic and political independence, open revolutionary war had commenced. By the first few days of 1899, the revolutionary movement had not only defeated Spain, but assembled a government ready to administer to the needs of a victorious if war-weary populace.
Such a dream of an emergent republic was not to be, however, for an expansive America had different ideas about how the islands should be ruled. Behind the backs of the Filipinos, the government of President William McKinley ended its brief war with Spain by signing the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. Under it, the Philippines was conveniently ceded to the United States. The constitution, however, prevented the implementation of a treaty annexing Asia's first republic without ratification by two-thirds of the Senate.
McKinley knew he lacked that required two-thirds vote, but this did little to stop him from pushing through the treaty. If the US took possession of the islands, Philippine cane sugar would be allowed to enter the country with no tariffs placed on it, thus reducing costs for sugar refiners, the biggest of which was the American Sugar Refining Company, a backer of the president. This was at a time when some in Congress were arguing that Americans could enjoy all the economic opportunities the Philippines had to offer without bothering with annexation. But as Admiral George Dewey -- who would soon play a major role in the occupation -- put it,"Capital would not feel safe to invest in the Philippines unless the United States annexed the islands."
In the end, outright bribery -- the 19th century version of present-day PACs, hordes of lobbyists, and"revolving doors" -- did the trick for McKinley, delivering a large portion of the needed votes into his hands. In order to tip the balance, however, the president needed one more thing, a trigger for war that would drive the rest of the votes his way.
Weeks before war broke out, the War Department began to issue announcements meant to prepare the public for the fact that"U.S. forces would have to defend themselves" if attacked by"natives" -- even as American troops were deployed to Manila itself. On February 2, the Navy dismissed all Filipinos employed on its ships in Manila harbor, while Army regimental commanders were given orders to provoke a conflict with the Filipino forces. On the same day, a U.S. regiment deliberately occupied an area called Santol where Filipino republican troops were already positioned. The Filipinos protested but, not wishing to ignite hostilities, eventually withdrew.
On the evening of February 4, 1899, US soldiers in Santol were instructed to venture yet further into territory held by Filipino troops, with the order"to shoot if the need arose." The Americans soon encountered Filipino sentries whom they immediately fired upon. The private who first opened fire reportedly shouted to his companions,"Line up, fellows, the niggers are in here all through these yards." Hours later, McKinley announced to the press"that the insurgents had attacked Manila." The next day he dispatched instructions to crush the Filipino army.
An emissary from the Filipino side was dispatched to the American commanders to request"a cessation of hostilities" and explain that the provocation actually came from their own troops. He was rebuffed by the Army commander, who told him that the fighting"having begun, must go on to the grim end." News of"savages" and"barbarians" who had"fired on the flag" soon filled American newspapers. On February 6, the Senate ratified the treaty by exactly one vote more than the needed two-thirds and the Philippines formally became a colony of the United States amid soaring promises of better lives for Filipinos. Yet it would take the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of those same Filipinos in a decade-long orgy of pacification before armed resistance to U.S. rule was finally crushed.
"You never hear of any disturbances," said a U.S. congressman just back from Manila at a moment when McKinley had launched a campaign of"Benevolent Assimilation" in the Philippines,"… because there isn't anybody left to rebel… The good Lord in Heaven only knows the number of Filipinos that were put under the ground. Our soldiers took no prisoners, they kept no records; they simply swept the country, and wherever and whenever they could get hold of a Filipino they killed him."
Before he took command of the Army during the war, Gen. J. Franklin Bell announced:"All consideration and regard for the inhabitants of this place cease from the day I become commander. I have the force and authority to do whatever seems to me good and especially to humiliate all those … who have any pride."
"I want no prisoners, I wish you to kill and burn: the more you kill and burn the better you will please me," was the order Gen. Jacob Smith issued a century ago as his troops slaughtered civilians and Filipino revolutionaries alike defending the first republic in Asia and the freedom they had just wrested from Spain. Smith had ordered his troops to turn the island of Samar into a"howling wilderness" so that"even birds could not live there." When asked by a soldier to define the age limit for killing, Smith replied,"Everything over ten." Foreshadowing the fate of Lt. William Calley, who was found guilty of leading U.S. soldiers in perpetrating horrors in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai and who served only four and a half months of his life sentence behind bars after which he was pardoned by Richard Nixon, Gen. Smith was court-martialed for issuing his barbaric orders, found guilty, and sentenced to - an admonition.
Explaining the brutality meted out by American soldiers to Filipinos, a Boston Herald correspondent covering the war commented,"Our troops in the Philippines … look upon all Filipinos as of one race and condition, and being dark men, they are therefore 'niggers,' and entitled to all the contempt and harsh treatment administered by white overlords to the most inferior races." As early as April 1899, a US commander was already predicting,"It may be necessary to kill half the Filipinos in order that the remaining half of the population may be advanced to a higher place of life than their present semi-barbarous state affords."
As it turned out, however, not that many died. As early as 1901, the number of Filipinos who had been killed or had died of disease as a result of America's vile occupation was pegged by a U.S. general at a"mere" 600,000 -- a horrific figure considering that it took the United States another decade to literally wipe out Filipino resistance.
And America keeps asking itself,"Why do they hate us so?"
"We're going to become guilty, in my judgment, of being the greatest threat to the peace of world," said Senator Wayne Morse, who voted against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in the U.S. Senate."It's an ugly reality, and we Americans don't like to face up to it. I hate to think of the chapter of American history that's going to be written in the future in connection with our outlawry in Southeast Asia."
When Americans are ready to ask the question,"Why have we learned so little?" they will see hands extended to them waiting to be grasped; people elsewhere eager to tell them, in Arundhati Roy's words,"how beautiful it is to be gentle instead of brutal, safe instead of scared. Befriended instead of isolated. Loved instead of hated." Folks waiting to whisper in their ears,"Yours is by no means a great nation, but you could be a great people."
References: Leon Wolff, Little Brown Brother , 1991; Saul Landau,"The Iraq ploy and Resemblances to the Start of the Cold War," November 28, 2002; Gabriel Kolko, Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, The United States and the Modern Historical Experience , 1985; Daniel Boone Schirmer, Republic or Empire: American Resistance to the Philippine War , 1972; Jonathan Shephard Fast and Luzviminda Bartolome Fransisco, Conspiracy for Empire: Big business, Corruption and the Politics of Imperialism in America, 1876-1907 , 1985; Dexter Filkins,"US tightens grip on Iraq with tough new tactics," TODAY, December 8, 2003; Kim Petersen, Dissident Voice , July 29, 2003; Arundhati Roy,"Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy, Buy One Get One Free," transcript of audio address in New York, May 13, 2003.
Copyright C2004 Renato Redentor Constantino
Mr. Constantino's recent works can be accessed at www.redconstantino.blogspot.com . Constantino is currently working full-time on climate and energy concerns with Greenpeace China. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jay Tolson, in US News (Feb. 16, 2004):
America, John Quincy Adams once famously declared, "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy." Those cautionary words of 1821 are currently enjoying a second round of fame, largely because no discussion of George W. Bush's foreign policy can seem to avoid them.
Pithy as the sentence is, though, does it really explain how the sixth president's vision of America's place in the world might bear on American grand strategy in the 21st century? Two new books come to contrary conclusions. And while that contrast inevitably reflects opposing partisan views in the heated debate over national security strategy, it might also suggest ways of seeing beyond the intransigent positions.
In America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy, two former Clinton National Security Council staffers, Ivo Daalder and James Lindsey, claim that Bush has pulled off nothing less than a Copernican revolution in foreign policy. In the aftermath of 9/11, they say, Bush adopted a doctrine of pre-emption to justify action against rogue states that develop weapons of mass destruction or harbor terrorists. At the same time, he elevated go-it-alone ventures over multilateral cooperation and aggressively asserted America's role as the world's only superpower.
The authors' analysis rejects the conventional wisdom in foreign-policy circles--that is, that Bush was duped into adopting his ambitious grand strategy by a stealthy cabal of neoconservative thinkers. The revolution is his own, they say, set in motion by 9/11 to be sure, but guided by his own instincts and the input of a wide range of advisers. By far, though, their most controversial claim is that Bush has repudiated not only the internationalist thinking of such recent leaders as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman but also America's oldest foreign-policy traditions by arguing that "the United States should aggressively go abroad searching for monsters to destroy."
Well, not quite, suggests Yale University historian John Gaddis in his forthcoming book, Surprise, Security, and the American Experience. Far from seeing it as a revolution, Gaddis reads Bush's strategy as a return to the guiding principles of pre-emption, unilateralism, and hegemony that were first laid down by--you guessed it--old John Q. himself. Indeed, Gaddis argues, American foreign policy has undergone three major transformations, each on the heels of a deeply traumatizing surprise attack. Responding to the burning of the White House and the Capitol by the British in 1814, Adams--at that point America's leading diplomat and soon to be James Monroe's secretary of state--became even more unilateralist in his thinking. And in 1818, when Andrew Jackson entered Spanish Florida in pursuit of marauders, Adams persuaded Monroe not only not to apologize but to claim the right of pre-emptive action. That principle was used by later presidents as justification for U.S. expansion, notably in Texas and other parts of the West. The Monroe Doctrine, inspired largely by Adams, was the first assertion of national hegemony in this hemisphere and a clear warning to Europeans to stay out.
Turning point. Those three principles were elaborated and expanded right up through the first half of the 20th century. But then came Pearl Harbor, which enabled Roosevelt to overcome America's go-it-alone isolationism and forge a multilateral system, combining U.S. power and leadership with cooperative alliances and new international institutions.
September 11, Gaddis contends, compelled America-- strategically adrift since the end of the Cold War--to return to older principles. But the point of reconciliation between his views and those of Daalder and Lindsey is this: While pre-emption and a certain unilateralism might be necessary in today's world, their success depends on utmost diplomatic tact and utmost caution, including good intelligence openly evaluated in order to support pre-emptive actions. And while exporting democracy may be a noble goal, Gaddis concludes, the United States might better emphasize exporting its own federalist principles, forming even more consensual alliances and wielding power "while minimizing arrogance."
James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, in the Gulf News (Middle East) (Feb. 17, 2004):
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The dynamic in today's Israeli-Palestinian and US relationship is distur-bingly similar to the Zionist-Palestinian-British relationship of the 1920s.
Back then, the Zionists made no secret of their intent to take advantage of the mandate to prepare the foundation of their future state. And so they brought into Palestine tens of thousands of Jewish settlers, acquired Arab land, built colonies and created the infrastructure of a nascent state within the mandate.
The Arabs of Palestine, at the same time, had no coherent response to this growing threat. To be sure, they convened congresses and passed resolutions arguing that the mandate had no legitimacy and the Balfour Declaration was without legal foundation.
As pressure grew, from the impact of Zionist immigration and land acquisition, the Arabs demonstrated, rioted, and, faced with overwhelming force, were beaten. For their part, the British who created and allowed this dilemma to develop and fester, acted as arbiters to what they termed" competing cla-ims".
At times, they appeared beleaguered by their burden (never acknowledging that it had been largely of their own making). But by their actions and inactions they enabled the Zionist enterprise to succeed.
Today a similar set of dynamics is at work. The Israeli colonial enterprise in the West Bank has continued unabated since the late 1960s. During the 1990s – the years of Oslo – Israeli governments, both Labor and Likud, pursued what could only be described as a massive 'land grab'.
Settler population in the occupied Palestinian lands doubled and settler blocs along the Green Line, in strategic fingers cutting deep into the West Bank, and in a large section of land around occupied Jerus-alem, grew massively.
More ominously, while negotiators met, a network of Israeli highways was being built connecting these colonies to Israel proper, making clear a strategic plan to maintain control of these burgeoning Jewish-only communities. In the process, Palestinians lost control of more and more land and saw their dream of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza evaporate.
As Palestinians became corralled into several blocs, cut off by colonies and security roads, they demonstrated, rioted and ultimately resorted to horrific acts of violence.
In response, Israel acted to further consolidate its hold over these colonies by building a wall and barrier fence that has taken more Palestinian land and disposed more Palestinians of their livelihood and their hopes.
The official Palestinian response to all of this has been to issue appeals for justice. They've gone to the United Nations and passed resolutions and now they have gone to the World Court seeking a judgment.
The United States, self-declared inheritor of the British mantle, acts as beleaguered as its predecessor as it proclaims, in frustration, its weary attempt"to balance competing claims". But the United States, like the British before them, is more enabler than mediator.
What do you need to know to be an American? That's the tricky question raised by the Bush administration's decision to revamp the test that immigrants must pass to gain American citizenship.
Right now, the quiz focuses arbitrarily on a set of often-trivial facts about American history and government such as"Who wrote The Star-Spangled Banner ?" and"What is the 49th state of the union?" But frankly, who cares? If you ask me, it would speak better to contemporary civic competence if people could answer,"Who is Oprah?"
The difficult part is figuring out how to create a better test. One would like new citizens to understand the institutions and accept the values of our system of democracy, and one would like a test that shows that people know what those institutions and values are. Those seem to me to be infinitely more important than mere facts.
Not that native-born citizens necessarily know these things. But people who have grown up in this country breathe in civic values, whether they want to or not.
I once gave a lecture in London in which I tried to illustrate the everyday quality of civic values. I said,"It's just like at home at the dinner table when you tell your kids there will be no dessert unless they eat their vegetables, and one of them responds: 'That's not fair! I can have dessert if I want to! It's a free country!'"
In the United States, this example gets nods of recognition, but in London, no one knew what I was talking about. No child in Britain has ever objected to a parent's or teacher's command by claiming,"It's a free country."
Only Americans have this peculiarly heightened sense of themselves as bearing a backpack full of"Don't tread on me" rights and living in a country that prizes liberty above all else.
Michael R. Gordon, in the NYT (Feb. 16, 2004):
... If [John Kerry] becomes president, his own military record and his familiarity with military culture will enhance his standing and facilitate his relations with the military, from four-star officers to the lowliest recruit.
Because Bill Clinton lacked that insight and credentials, some former Clinton administration officials say, he found it difficult to order the military into Bosnia and make other decisions that were unpopular at the Pentagon. He had to coax the military along. A President Kerry, on the other hand, could be expected have more confidence in dealing with military leaders and military issues and in exercising civilian control of important decisions.
A more central question, however, is whether it is necessary to be in the military and to be shot at in order to be a good president. Eliot A. Cohen, a military historian and the author of"Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime," a book that makes a strong case for assertive civilian control in wartime, says there are some impressive counterexamples.
"Look at the Civil War," Mr. Cohen told me."Jefferson Davis was a West Point graduate, a colonel and a combat veteran, and he was a lousy commander in chief. Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer who had served one month in the militia during a small Indian war, and he was a superb commander in chief. Franklin Roosevelt was a great commander in chief and had no military service. The qualities you look for in a commander in chief do not necessarily correlate with prior military service."
Lawrence J. Korb, a former official in the Reagan Pentagon and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank, differs."Operational experience is a plus for someone to be commander in chief," he says."Eisenhower was able to stand up to the military and keep the defense budget from exploding."
The issue has somewhat different implications for President Bush than Senator Kerry. Politically, the focus on Mr. Bush's service in the Texas Air Guard is not to the president's advantage, though he has virtually invited scrutiny by reveling in his role as a former military man, wearing flight jackets and, in a famous episode he would possibly now like to forget, flying in a warplane to the carrier Abraham Lincoln in May to proclaim that major combat operations in Iraq were over. One could not have asked for a more vivid example of how prior service in the armed forces does not necessarily lead to prescient judgments on military affairs.
George W. Bush's own military record during Vietnam also brings up the issue of shared sacrifice as the casualties from Iraq continue to add up on his presidential watch. But Mr. Bush did serve honorably in the military and found a pursuit that required discipline and entailed risk: flying a fighter jet.
My own view is that military experience, like experience in business or government, can be useful preparation for a political leader but should be considered neither a requirement nor a bellwether. In fact, because of the end of conscription and the establishment of the all-volunteer force, it may become an increasingly rare item on politicians' resumes.
David Shaw, in the LAT (Feb. 15, 2004):
The Bush administration has, after all, been more effective at throttling the mainstream news media than any administration in memory.
That may seem a churlish observation a mere week after the president sat for a one-hour interview with Tim Russert on"Meet the Press." But with every network host and anchor having angled for the interview for months, it was Bush who decided when, with whom and in which venue he'd talk.
That's not an unusual exercise of the presidential prerogative. But it's evidence anew of how successful and determined this administration has been in controlling media access.
I know, I know. In every presidency of the past 30 or 40 years, the news media have complained that they didn't have enough access to the president, that he was determined to go over their heads and speak directly to the public, and that he and his staff wanted to talk about only what they wanted to talk about, not what the reporters thought they should talk about.
In virtually every case, the reporters covering the president — whichever president it was — grumbled that relations between the media and this particular occupant of the White House were the worst in the history of the republic (or at least the worst since Nixon, the longtime, all-time, Watergate/plumbers/enemies list/18 1/2-minute-gap/"You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore" bête noire of the media).
But it seems to me that a confluence of circumstances and events (the tragedy of 9/11, the public's growing disdain for the media, the growth of alternate news forms and forums, the Bush administration's scornful attitude toward journalists) have made the traditional media more compliant — and have enabled the Bushites to ride roughshod over them.
The president's declining poll numbers and growing partisan criticism of and public skepticism over his rationale for war in Iraq may change that. The media may feel emboldened to challenge Bush more aggressively, and he may feel compelled to be more cooperative — as witness his"Meet the Press" appearance.
But so far, the Bush administration has been especially successful at stonewalling the media, keeping the White House team"on message" and all but abandoning the traditional presidential press conference.
Through Tuesday, Bush had conducted only 11 solo press conferences. Other presidents had far more by the same point in their first terms, says Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor of political science at Towson University in Maryland, who's writing a book on White House communications. Dwight D. Eisenhower had 78, Lyndon B. Johnson 79, Jimmy Carter 53, Ronald Reagan 21, George H.W. Bush 72 and Bill Clinton 40. Even Nixon had 23, more than twice as many as George W.
Modern technology makes it much easier these days for a president to avoid the traditional news media outlets and forums. Clinton was only partly joking when he said at a radio and television correspondents dinner during his first term:
"You know why I can stiff you on the press conferences? Because Larry King liberated me from you by giving me to the American people directly."
Today the president can use any number of Bush-friendly venues to get his unfiltered message across. Who needs a White House press conference or Dan Rather — or even Larry King, for that matter — when you have Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Matt Drudge?
John Perazzo, in frontpagemag.com (Feb. 17, 2004):
When analysts look back on the moments that catapulted Sen. John Kerry to frontrunner status in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, they will acknowledge that one of the biggest turns of the campaign occurred on January 25. On that day, Kerry campaign strategists whisked Jim Rassmann from Florence, Oregon, straight to Iowa for an emotional, “surprise” public reunion with Kerry. As Rassmann's fellow soldier in the Vietnam War, Kerry saved Rassmann's life by dodging a hail of enemy gunfire to drag him out of a river and carry him to safety. As John Hurley, director of the Veterans for Kerry campaign, acknowledges, Rassmann's appearance with Kerry gave the senator an enormous boost. “It was just thrilling to get [Rassmann's] phone call out of the blue,” Hurley said. “Normally I'm a calm guy, but I was dancing and shrieking.”
Kerry has made frequent references to his military background, depicting himself as a proud American who served his nation honorably during the Vietnam War. However, what most people do not realize is when Kerry returned from combat, he became a key figure in the early-1970s, anti-American and pro-Hanoi movement personified by Jane Fonda. Like so many of those protesters, Kerry publicly maligned American soldiers, and went on to become a prominent organizer for one of America's most radical appeasement groups, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). He developed close ties with celebrated activists like Fonda and Ramsey Clark, the radical Attorney General who served under President Lyndon Johnson. (Clark went on to head the pro-North Korean International Action Center.) Kerry also supported a document known as the “People's Peace Treaty,” which was reportedly composed in Communist East Germany and contained nine points – all of them extracted from a list of Viet Cong conditions for ending the war.
By participating in VVAW demonstrations, Kerry marched alongside many revolutionary Communists. Exploiting his presence at such rallies, the Communist publication Daily World prominently published photographs of Kerry addressing anti-war protestors, some of whom were carrying banners with portraits of Communist Party leader Angela Davis. Openly organized by known Communists, these rallies were typified by what the December 12, 1971, Herald Traveler called an “abundance of Vietcong flags, clenched fists raised in the air, and placards plainly bearing legends in support of China, Cuba, the USSR, North Korea and the Hanoi government.”
In early 1971, Kerry organized one of the most confrontational anti-war protests of the period, in which nearly 1,000 purported Vietnam veterans gathered on Washington, D.C.'s Mall for what they termed “a limited incursion into the country of Congress.” As part of a carefully orchestrated buildup toward that demonstration, Kerry had recently testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, claiming to have personally heard U.S. soldiers boast about having raped, dismembered, tortured, poisoned and randomly executed innocent civilians – sometimes even razing entire villages in a manner reminiscent of Ghenghis Khan. During that same time period, Kerry charged that American-perpetrated war crimes in Vietnam were the norm, not the exception – and were carried out with the full awareness and blessing of officers at all levels of American military command.
Today, many American veterans and their families deem Kerry's past public excoriation of U.S. troops as unforgivable acts bordering on treason. As a result, veterans have formed several groups opposing Kerry's presidential ambitions. The root cause of their anti-Kerry sentiment is summarized by the publication U.S. Veteran Dispatch , which notes that Kerry's aforementioned testimony “occurred while some of his fellow Vietnam veterans were known by the world to be enduring terrible suffering as prisoners of war in North Vietnamese prisons.” Indeed, Senator John McCain has stated that his North Vietnamese captors had used reports of Kerry-led protests to taunt him and his fellow prisoners. Retired General George S. Patton III angrily charged that Kerry's actions were giving “aid and comfort to the enemy.”
One anti-Kerry group, Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry (VVAJK), recently formed a national coalition with two other groups: Vietnamese-Americans for Human Rights in Vietnam (VAHRV), and Vietnamese-Americans Against John Kerry (VAAJK). “We represent hundreds of thousand of American veterans,” says VVAJK founder said Ted Sampley, “who do not want to see John Kerry anywhere near the Oval Office.” A formal VVAJK statement reads, “As a national leader of VVAW, Kerry campaigned against the effort of the United States to contain the spread of Communism. He used the blood of servicemen still in the field for his own political advancement by claiming that their blood was being shed unnecessarily or in vain . . . Under Kerry's leadership, VVAW members mocked the uniform of United States soldiers by wearing tattered fatigues marked with pro-communist graffiti. They dishonored America by marching in demonstrations under the flag of the Viet Cong enemy.” In a similar spirit, VAAJK member Dan Tran says, “On behalf of tens of thousands of Vietnamese-Americans, we are determined to demonstrate against Senator Kerry all across this nation . . . John Kerry aided and abetted the Communist government in Hanoi and has hindered any human rights progress in Vietnam.”
As chairman of the Select Senate Committee on POW/MIA (Prisoners Of War/Missing In Action) Affairs, which was created in 1991 to determine whether any American POWs or MIAs were still alive in Vietnam, Kerry doggedly pushed the panel to conclude all Americans were dead. According to U.S. Veteran Dispatch , “[N]o one in the United States Senate pushed harder to bury the POW/MIA issue, the last obstacle preventing normalization of relations with Hanoi, than John Forbes Kerry.” Controversy erupted in December 1992, however, when, according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, “Hanoi announced that it had awarded Colliers International, a Boston-based real estate company, an exclusive deal to develop its commercial real estate potentially worth billions. Stuart Forbes, the CEO of Colliers, is [John] Kerry's cousin.”
Kerry's career in the U.S. Senate began in 1984. Since then – and notwithstanding his efforts to portray himself as a political moderate – he has established a long record of support for a wide array of left-wing causes, ideologies, and associated pieces of legislation. Among the most significant features of this record are the votes he has cast with regard to national defense and security issues. During his Senate career, Kerry has voted for at least seven major reductions in defense and military spending. Even after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by Islamic terrorists, he voted to cut intelligence spending by $1.5 billion for the five years prior to 2001. In 1996 he voted to slash defense spending by $6.5 billion.
However, Kerry has been a big spender on non-defense projects, having earned a lifetime rating of only 26 percent from the organization Citizens Against Government Waste. Over the years, Kerry has voted against a Balanced Budget Amendment at least five times, and against lowering overall government spending at least three times. In 2001, he voted against President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut package, marking at least the tenth anti-tax relief vote of his Senate career. By contrast, Kerry voted in favor of President Clinton's 1993 tax hike, which was the largest tax increase in American history. In fact, Kerry recently called for “a return to the fiscal responsibility we gave this country in 1993 when we passed the Deficit Reduction Act.” Kerry's consistent pattern of voting in favor of high taxes has earned him a meager 25.2 percent rating from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) for the period of 1985-2001. Similarly, the group Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) gives him a paltry 12.5 percent rating for the years 1999-2002. The issue of taxation, of course, has enormous implications for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives Kerry a 36 percent rating for the years 1985-2001, and the National Federation of Independent Business rates him a pathetic 21.4 percent for the years 1997-2001.
Kerry's positions on most political and social issues are consistently leftist. In 2000, he voted to expand federal hate-crime protections to include such categories as gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities. He has consistently voted in favor of Affirmative Action and set-asides in employment and contracting. With regard to environmental issues, he consistently supports the positions of radical leftist groups like the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which has endorsed him for the 2004 presidential election. During the past six years, the LCV has approved of 95 percent of Kerry's votes on environmental matters. According to the Capital Research Center, which rates the political leanings of nonprofit organizations, this group's rating places it at the extreme Left of the political spectrum.
Kerry has voted in favor of federal funding for abortions, and against requiring parental notification for minors' abortions. On at least three occasions he has voted against proposed bans of partial-birth abortions. While Kerry has earned a Zero-percent rating from the National Right To Life Committee, his National Abortion And Reproductive Rights League rating is consistently 100 percent, year after year.
With regard to criminal justice, Kerry opposes the death penalty “because I think it's applied unfairly.” After 9/11, however, he conveniently changed his tune. Said the senator,"I am for the death penalty for terrorists because terrorists have declared war on [our] country. I support killing people who declare war on our country.” But this is a new position for Kerry, who, between 1989 and 1993, voted at least three times to exempt terrorists from the death penalty, on grounds that anti-death penalty nations would refuse to extradite suspected terrorists to the United States.
As Michael Dukakis' Lieutenant Governor from 1983-1985, Kerry supported a furlough program for hundreds of Massachusetts' inmates, a program that many critics deemed too lenient toward criminals. In a case that garnered national attention during the 1988 presidential debates between Mr. Dukakis and George H.W. Bush, a prisoner named Willie Horton brutally raped a woman while he was free on such a furlough.
Though Kerry characterizes himself as a political moderate, his voting record is, in fact, every bit as far-Left as that of his fellow Massachusetts senator, the candidly left-wing Ted Kennedy. According to Congressional Quarterly , over the course of Kerry's Senate career, he has sided with Kennedy fully 94 percent of the time for key votes. In a number of different years – 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, and 2001 – that figure stood at 100 percent. Kerry's lifetime Vote Rating from the leftist group Americans For Democratic Action (ADA) is 93 percent. Senator Kennedy's ADA rating is a slightly lower 88 percent; that is, a avowedly leftist group states that John Kerry's voting record is to the Left of Ted Kennedy's. By contrast, Kerry's lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU) stands at just 5 percent – the third lowest figure in the entire Senate, higher only than the ACU ratings for Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer. The ACU ratings for some other notable Democrats are: 13 percent apiece for Richard Gephardt, Hillary Clinton, and Tom Daschle; 14 percent for John Edwards; 15 percent for Dennis Kucinich; and 19 percent for Joe Lieberman. Senator John Breaux, one of the upper chamber's few moderate Democrats, has a 46 percent ACU rating.
Kerry's stated positions on various major political issues have, on numerous occasions, been inconsistent and contradictory. For instance, he fiercely condemns the Patriot Act as the slippery slope toward a police state, and excoriates Attorney General John Ashcroft for violating Americans' civil liberties. “We are a nation of laws and liberties, not of a knock in the night,” says Kerry. “So it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft. That starts with replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time.” But in 2001, Kerry in fact voted for the Patriot Act – parts of which he himself originally wrote. He said at the time that he was “pleased at the compromise we have reached on the anti-terrorism legislation as a whole.” “It reflects,” he said on the Senate floor, “an enormous amount of hard work by the members of the Senate Banking Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. I congratulate them and thank them for that work.”
In 1991, Kerry voted against authorizing the use of force in the Persian Gulf. Yet he now claims that he fully supported Operation Desert Storm, but voted against it only because he wanted the first President Bush “to take a couple more months to build the support of the nation.” At the dawn of that war, Kerry warned that the elder Bush's “unilateral” action constituted a “rush to war” that might lead to “another generation of amputees, paraplegics, burn victims.” “Is the liberation of Kuwait so imperative that all those risks are worthwhile at this moment?” he asked rhetorically. Eleven days later, he wrote a letter to a constituent explaining that he opposed military action and preferred to give economic sanctions “more time to work.” Nine days after that, however, he wrote to the same constituent and said that he “strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis.”
More recently, Kerry has exhibited similar shifts in his stated stance on the 2003 Iraq war. Amid his blistering criticisms of President George W. Bush's foreign policy, Kerry has said, “We did not empower the president to do regime change.” Yet in fact, Kerry supported an October 2002 Senate resolution that specifically cited regime change as a goal. That resolution, which passed by a 77-to-23 margin, authorized President Bush to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein refused to abide by UN mandates. Kerry had similarly voted to make regime change a U.S. objective back in 1998.
Throughout 2003 and into 2004, Kerry has condemned what he calls President Bush's needless “rush to war” against Iraq. But in October 2002 Kerry himself addressed the Senate with a stern speech declaring Iraq “capable of quickly producing [and] weaponizing” biological agents that could be delivered against “the United States itself.” In a January 23, 2003, foreign policy speech at Georgetown University, Kerry stated, “Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. He miscalculated an eight-year war with Iran. He miscalculated the invasion of Kuwait. He miscalculated America's response to that act of naked aggression. He miscalculated the result of setting oilrigs on fire. He miscalculated the impact of sending scuds into Israel and trying to assassinate an American President. He miscalculated his own military strength. He miscalculated the Arab world's response to his misconduct. And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction.”
Despite his consistently leftist stance on the issues, John Kerry has staked out public positions all over the political map since the early 1970s. But one thing has remained troublingly consistent: He prefers to hide his three decades of left-wing activism from the American public. We hope the American people will not be so easily fooled.
Brendan Miniter, assistant editor of OpinionJournal.com, in the WSJ (Feb. 17, 2004):
America is now at a crossroads. In one direction is complacency, a return of the mindset the nation was in before 9/11. It is here that staying within the consensus of"world opinion" is valued above acting on moral principles. It is here that, we are told, the ethos of the"everything goes" culture must not change. Schools and other civic institutions need more money, but shouldn't come in for fundamental reform.
In the other direction lies a wholly different mindset. Here Sept. 11 is still seen as a turning point not only for foreign policy, but culturally as well. That day marked the coming of an era where America is again confident enough in her ideas of individual liberty to not only encourage their spread abroad (sometimes through forcibly removing dictators) but also to teach them in her schools at home.
This isn't the first time the nation has come upon such a fork in the road. The four presidents that preceded Lincoln--Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan--stayed within the political consensus on slavery. They chose complacency and therefore didn't move the country any closer to solving the most pressing moral problem of their day.
President Bush is not making that mistake. He is taking on the most pressing issue of our times with fundamental changes. He's overhauling the Middle East and other incubators of terror. By liberating Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr. Bush is creating liberal democracies in the Muslim world that will serve as bulwarks of liberty and the first line of defense against terrorism. On the domestic front, Mr. Bush is pushing to change the landscape as well. Citizens who do not have a sense of the goodness of their nation or even of their own history cannot long be counted on to confront the evils of despotism and terrorism.
Teaching civics, raising education standards and shoring up other religious and civic institutions is perhaps the best way to address this domestic problem. So President Bush has his Faith Based Initiative to end decades of discriminating against religious organizations in government contracts and the No Child Left Behind Act to address failing public schools. And at the National Endowment of the Humanities, the administration has developed a"We the People" initiative.
With a relatively small amount of money--about $100 million over three years--the NEH is supporting projects to teach civics and history around the country. Some grants go to creating new curriculums for public school teachers. Others to giving social-studies teachers refresher courses in American history. A grant to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation is making research on early American slavery in the Chesapeake region publicly available.
Lou Dubose, in LA Weekly (Feb. 13-19, 2004):
So President Bush went mano a mano with Tim Russert on Meet the Press and put to rest the claim that he went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard. He was serving in the state of Alabama while working on a congressional campaign of one his father's buddies in 1972. Bush said he left the Guard eight months early because he was accepted into Harvard Business School's MBA program and “worked it out with the military.”
The AWOL claim had been resurrected when filmmaker-author Michael Moore called Bush a deserter. Then Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe started talking up a debate by suggesting that when war hero John Kerry stands next to George Bush, he is next “to a man who was AWOL in the Alabama National Guard.” Bush issued a “bring 'em on” challenge, urging reporters to take a hard look at his service record. The records the White House hastily released Monday are still full of holes.
Rather than only asking how a young George W. got out of the National Guard, we ought to ask how he got in when 350 American men were dying each week in Vietnam and 100,000 were on National Guard waiting lists across the country. For years the talk in Austin political circles had Bush using his father's stroke as a Republican congressman from Houston to secure one of two or three rare open billets in an Air National Guard Unit — after scoring in the 25th percentile on the standard test given to flight-program candidates. There was also the story of a political contribution conveyed to the Democratic speaker of the Texas House to secure a slot for Bush. When Bush moved into the Governor's Mansion, the stories dried up — as did two of the sources who circulated them in Austin bars frequented by the state's political cognoscenti.
But there's something about the risk of perjury in federal court that focuses the mind on the truth. In 1999, the former Democratic speaker of the House who secured Bush's spot in the Texas Air National Guard was a witness in a lawsuit involving two seemingly unrelated subjects: the Texas lottery and George W. Bush's military service. The story the former Texas politician told doesn't square with what Bush père et fils told reporters at the same time. But neither of the Bushes told his version of the story under oath after a hard-ass federal judge (who recently jailed a former Democratic attorney general for lying in his courtroom) ordered a deposition.
Ben Barnes did.
Barnes was a Texas power politician from the other side of the state and the other side of the tracks from the River Oaks neighborhood that elected the senior Bush to Congress in the 1960s. He was a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman from Brownwood (a.k.a. Deadwood), Texas, elected to the Statehouse when he was 22. Three years later, he was elected speaker. By the time he was 30, he won his first statewide election and was the youngest lieutenant governor in the history of the state. Lyndon Johnson compared him to Thomas Jefferson and predicted he would be the next Texan elected president. The Texas Monthly called him the Golden Boy of Texas politics. He was a young man at the top of his game. Then a bank-stock scandal in the early-'70s got in the way of his next career move, and he came in third in the 1972 Democratic primary election for governor. (Republicans at the time were irrelevant.) He was never charged in the stock-fraud case that sent his successor in the Speaker's Office to prison. But the throw-the-bastards-out election of 1972 ended Ben Barnes' career. Or so it seemed.
By 1998, Barnes was on top again, as a millionaire lobbyist working for GTech, the company operating public lotteries in 37 states. But lottery revenues were plummeting, and lottery-
commission chair Harriet Miers (who was also Bush's personal lawyer and once was paid $19,000 to look into the National Guard story for a gubernatorial campaign) re-bid GTech's contract. GTech sued, threatened to shut down the Texas lottery for a year, and hired a new lobbyist — after providing Barnes a $23 million severance package. Miers fired one lottery director who sued and settled. Then the second lottery director fired by Miers filed suit. He claimed he was taking the fall for GTech, which, he alleged, kept its contract and bought out Barnes because he had the story on Bush.
So in 1999, as George W. Bush was running for president, Barnes and the Bush military record were going to court. Barnes told his story in a five-hour deposition and then told the reporters what he had told the court. As speaker of the Texas House, he would sometimes find slots in the National Guard for the fortunate sons of friends and supporters. It had already been reported that two of his aides would take the names of the lucky young men who won the legislative lottery over to the commandant of the Guard, who would find space for them. In 1969, a Houston oil-service company executive called on Barnes and asked him to get George W. Bush into the National Guard.
Sid Adger was a Houston-centric whom the boys at the Petroleum Club called “The King.” He was the vice president of an oil-field mud company, a former Air Force and Pan American Airlines pilot, a hunting guide for petro-politicians from Texas and Louisiana, and a friend of George H.W. Bush. He lived in the same neighborhood as the Bush family. His children attended the same private schools as the Bush kids. He belonged to the same downtown social clubs. Poppy Bush loved “The King,” the first President Bush's secretary told the Dallas Morning News .
Shortly before George W. Bush graduated from Yale, Adger called on Speaker of the House Barnes and asked him to get the son of then-Congressman George H.W. Bush into the Air National Guard. It was a commonplace story: A young man of privilege ends up in a National Guard unit that looks like a polo team without horses. Senator Lloyd Bentsen's son was there, as was a relative of Nixon Treasury Secretary John Connally, along with the Adger kids (but not in the flying unit.) There were even a couple of Dallas Cowboys. (Despite the many prospects, a clumsy recruiting effort attempted to turn our high-flying F-102 pilot into the Guard's anti-drug poster boy. “George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed,” reads a 1970 Guard press release. “Oh, he gets high, all right. But not from narcotics.” The Reefer Madness tone of the ad suggests just how out of touch the Guard's PR shop was. As does the content, considering the persistent rumors about Bush's cocaine use.)
A history of service to country in a country-club Guard unit was acceptable while Bush was managing partner of the Texas Rangers and governor of Texas. But it was a problem for a presidential candidate. And the problem would only get worse if it looked like he got preferential treatment. Long before Bush announced he was a candidate, he sent Commerce Secretary Donnie Evans to Austin to find out what Barnes might say if reporters asked. Evans was one of W. Bush's oil-field cronies from Midland, where the two men had found Jesus together in an intense, all-male, Bible-study group. He was also the finance director for Bush's presidential campaign.
“The Bushies got to Barnes first,” an Austin political consultant told me at the time. Barnes put Evans' fears to rest, and Governor Bush personally thanked the former speaker: “Dear Ben: Don Evans reported your conversation. Thank you for your candor and for killing the rumor about you and dad ever discussing my status. Like you, he never remembered any conversation. I appreciate your help.” (The simple syntax in the September 1998 note obtained by The Washington Post is signature-mark G.W. Bush.)
In 1999, Barnes reluctantly gave his deposition (which was sealed when the case was settled), telling lawyers the story of Adger asking him 30 years earlier to help the son of a Republican congressman get into the National Guard. Barnes also provided reporters a brief summary of what he had said under oath.
The Bush campaign claimed their hands were clean because there was no direct appeal from the Bushes. Again, the story was advanced through the queer syntax of George W. Bush. “All I know is that anybody named George Bush did not ask him for help,” Governor Bush said at the time. His father wasn't so cocksure, saying he was “almost positive” he hadn't discussed his son's draft status with Adger. Then both Bushes began to argue that Adger's appeal to Barnes was done without their “knowledge or consent.” Adger wasn't talking because he had died three years earlier.
Robin Toner, in the NYT (Feb. 15, 2004):
For much of American history, a respectable - if not heroic - stint in the military was almost a prerequisite for high political office. An overwhelming majority of the House of Representatives for many years were veterans. Most presidents had served in the military, and even before the rise of modern image making, presidential campaigns celebrated the candidates' feats in battle, from Yorktown to Tippecanoe to PT-109.
This changed in recent years, as the draft ended and military service became a far less common rite of passage. Some analysts, in fact, saw the rise of a new, post-cold-war, feminized politics in the 1990's, epitomized by the ascent of Bill Clinton and his doggedly domestic agenda. Under this theory, the president-as-warrior seemed almost a throwback.
But not anymore. The president-as-warrior seems painfully relevant, as the first presidential election since the attacks of 9/11 takes off. And the old question - what did you do in your generation's war? - is back, with a vengeance, in a new and perhaps more unforgiving context.
Last week, Republicans were scrambling to define and defend President Bush's stint in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam era: how he got there, where he served, how often he reported, whether he fulfilled his obligations.
Democrats, for their part, were trying to defend their likely nominee, Senator John Kerry, against charges that he came back from his much-decorated service in Vietnam to denounce the war, make common cause with the angriest protesters, including Jane Fonda, and vote against military spending.
It was a moment that captured the edgy, altered politics of the post-9/11 age. Republicans were outraged by the suggestion that President Bush, who is running for re-election as a proud and seasoned commander in chief, had not fulfilled his own duties in 1972, when he was assigned to the Alabama Air National Guard.
Democrats were intent on not being painted into their own dangerous corner in a dangerous age - and on beating back the idea that they are instinctively antiwar. All this played out for an electorate that, compared with four years ago, is acutely aware of the value of the military and the demands put upon it, and considers national security something other than an abstraction.
Analysts say the current debate revolves around the question pushed to the forefront by the war on terrorism: Which candidate is the better commander in chief? How do they behave under stress? Can they relate to the soldiers on the front lines? Has each of them lived, personally, by the values he professes publicly?
Douglas Brinkley, a historian at the University of New Orleans and the author of"Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War," argues that the Clinton years, in retrospect, were an aberration, not the dawn of a new era.
"In 2004, it's the perfect time for that American tradition of waving the bloody shirt to come into our political discourse again,'' he said."The soccer moms of the 1990's have become the security moms of 2004."
And what the candidates are telling them, Mr. Brinkley and others said, is"I will make you safe."
Wayne Perryman, an inner city minister in Seattle and the author of Unfounded Loyalty, in an editorial circulating on the Internet (Feb. 2004):
Most people are either a Democrat by design, or a Democrat by deception. That is either they were well aware the racist history of the Democrat Party and still chose to be Democrat, or they were deceived into thinking that the Democratic Party is a party that sincerely cared about Black people.
History reveals that every piece of racist legislation that was ever passed and every racist terrorist attack that was ever inflicted on African Americans, was initiated by the members of the Democratic Party. From the formation of the Democratic Party in 1792 to the Civil Rights movement of 1960's, Congressional records show the Democrat Party passed no specific laws to help Blacks, every law that they introduced into Congress was designed to hurt blacks in 1894 Repeal Act. The chronicles of history shows that during the past 160 years the Democratic Party legislated Jim Crows laws, Black Codes and a multitude of other laws at the state and federal level to deny African Americans their rights as citizens.
History reveals that the Republican Party was formed in 1854 to abolish slavery and challenge other racist legislative acts initiated by the Democratic Party.
Some called it the Civil War, others called it the War Between the States, but to the African Americans at that time, it was the War Between the Democrats and the Republicans over slavery. The Democrats gave their lives to expand it, Republican gave their lives to ban it.
During the Senate debates on the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, it was revealed that members of the Democratic Party formed many terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan to murder and intimidate African Americans voters. The Ku Klux Klan Act was a bill introduced by a Republican Congress to stop Klan Activities. Senate debates revealed that the Klan was the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.
History reveals that Democrats lynched, burned, mutilated and murdered thousands of blacks and completely destroyed entire towns and communities occupied by middle class Blacks, including Rosewood, Florida, the Greenwood District in Tulsa Oklahoma, and Wilmington, North Carolina to name a few.
After the Civil War, Democrats murdered several hundred black elected officials (in the South) to regain control of the southern government. All of the elected officials up to 1935 were Republicans. As of 2004, the Democrat Party (the oldest political party in America) has never elected a black man to the United States Senate, the Republicans have elected three.
History reveals that it was Thaddeus Stevens, a Radical Republican that introduced legislation to give African Americans the so-called 40 acres and a mule and Democrats overwhelmingly voted against the bill. Today many white Democrats are opposed to paying African Americans trillions of dollars in Reparation Pay, money that should be paid by the Democratic Party.
History reveals that it was Abolitionists and Radical Republicans such as Henry L. Morehouse and General Oliver Howard that started many of the traditional Black colleges, while Democrats fought to keep them closed. Many of our traditional Black colleges are named after white Republicans.
Congressional records show it was Democrats that strongly opposed the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. These three Amendments were introduced by Republicans to abolish slavery, give citizenship to all African Americans born in the United States and, give Blacks the right to vote.
Congressional records show that Democrats were opposed to passing the following laws that were introduced by Republicans to achieve civil rights for African Americans:
Civil Rights Act 1866
Reconstruction Act of 1867
Freedman Bureau Extension Act of 1866
Enforcement Act of 1870
Force Act of 1871
Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871
Civil Rights Act of 1875
Civil Rights Act of 1957
Civil Rights Act of 1960
And during the 60's many Democrats fought hard to defeat the
1964 Civil Rights Act
1965 Voting Rights Acts
1972 Equal Employment Opportunity Act
Court records shows that it was the Democrats that supported the Dred Scott Decision. The decision classified Blacks and property rather than people. It was also the racist Jim Crow practices initiated by Democrats that brought about the two landmark cases of Plessy v Ferguson and Brown v. The Board of Education.
At the turn of the century (1900), Southern Democrats continued to oppress African Americans by placing thousands in hard-core prison labor camps. According to most historians, the prison camps were far worst than slavery. The prisoners were required to work from 10-14 hours a day, six to seven days a week in temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees and in temperatures that fell well below zero. The camps provided free labor for building railroads, mining coal-mines and for draining snake and alligator invested swamps and rivers. Blacks were transported from one project to another in rolling cages similar to the ones used to transfer circus animals. One fourth of the prison populations were children ages 6 to 18. Young Cy Williams age 12, was sentenced to 20 years for stealing a horse that he was too small to ride. Eight-year old Will Evans was sentenced to 2 years of hard labor for taking some change from a store counter and six-year old Mary Gay was sentenced to 30 days for taking a hat. While authorities sent whites to jail for the same offenses, they sent blacks to the prison camps with much longer sentences. Thousands died from malaria, frost bites, heat strokes, shackle poisoning, others were buried alive in collapsing mines, or blown to pieces in tunnel explosions, and still others drowned in swamps or were beaten and shot to death. Every southern black citizen was a potential prisoner for any alleged small offense, including violating evening curfews. Through the prison camp system, southern owners of railroads, mines and farms had an unlimited source of free labor. The black prisoners played a major role the South's economic development. Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, said, in his opinion, "the prison camps were a new form of slavery, but far more inhumane."
History reveals that it was three white persons that opposed the Democrat's racist practices who started the NAACP.
Dr. Martin Luther King, several Civil Rights leaders and many historians reported that during the first two years of his administration, President John F. Kennedy ignored Dr. King's request for Civil Rights. The chronicles of history reveal that it was only after television coverage of riots and several demonstrations did President Kennedy feel a need to introduce the 1963 Civil Rights Act. At that time, experts believe the nation was headed toward a major race war.
History reveals that it was Democratic Attorney General, Robert Kennedy that approved the secret wire taps on Dr, Martin Luther King Jr., and it was Democratic President Lyndon Johnson that referred to Dr. King as " that nigger preacher." Senator Byrd referred to Dr. King as a "trouble maker" who causes trouble and then runs like a "coward," when trouble breaks out.
Over the strong objections of racist Republican Senator Jessie Helms, Republican President Ronald Reagan, signed into law, a bill to make Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. Several Republican Senators convinced President Reagan this was the right thing to do.
Congressional records show after signing the 1972 Equal Employment Opportunity Act and issuing Executive Order 11478, Richard Nixon, a Republican, that started what we know as Affirmative Action.
On December 15, 1994, federal Judge David V. Kenyon issued a court order to the Clinton Administration in the Case of Fairchild v Robert Reich Secretary of Labor (#CV92-5765 Kn). The order demanded that Secretary Reich and the Clinton Administration force 100 west coast shipping to develop an Affirmative Action plan to stop discrimination against, African Americans, Hispanics, Female and Disabled Workers. Female employees were being sexually harrassed, Hispanic were being denied promotions and training, Disable Workers were being laid off, and African Americans were being force to work in an environment where they had job classification called " Nigger Jobs." Clinton left office six years later and never complied with the court order. The companies still do not have an Affirmative Action Plan.
President Clinton sent 20, 000 troops to protect the white citizens of Europe's Bosnia, but sent no troops to Africa's Rwanda to protect the black citizens there. Consequently over 800,000 Africans were massacre
During the 2003 Democratic Primary debates, the Rev. Al Sharpton, said the Democrat take the black vote for granted and treat African American like a mistress. They [Democrats} will take us to the dance, but they don't want to take us home to meet mama."
On December 3, 2002, President Clinton spoke to Democratic Leadership Council in New York regarding the future of the Democratic Party and how they could retake the White House. At no time did he address Civil Rights issues for blacks or doing things to improve the conditions of African Americans. His only reference to Civil Rights was Civil Rights for Gays. His only reference to improving communities was his recommendation to revisit the Marshall Plan to re-build communities in other countries. His entire speech was aired on C-Span.
After exclusively giving the Democrats their votes for the past 25 years, the average African American cannot point to one piece of civil rights legislation sponsored solely by the Democratic Party that was specifically designed to eradicate the unique problems that African Americans face today. Congressional records show that all previous legislation (since 1964) had strong bi-partisan support, even though some Democrats debated and voted against these laws.
After reviewing all of the evidence, many believe America would have never experienced racism to the degree that it has, had not the Democrats promoted it through:
Negative Media Communications
And Flawed Adjudication.
The racism established and promoted by members of the Democratic Party affected and infected the entire nation from 1856 with the Dred Scott decision, to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case. But they never offered or issued an apology.
Today both parties must remember their past. The Democrats must remember the terrible things they did to Blacks and apologize and the Republicans must remember the terrific things they did for Blacks and re-commit to complete the work that their predecessors started and died for.