Wednesday, October 27, 2004

High Stakes for Church and State

This will probably be my last post before the election, so I'd like to pack as much in here as possible. For starters, I'd like to thank all the people who sent me the links that appear below.

If you follow all of them and read everything, you'll be busy from now until the election. In my opinion, if even one-tenth of the factual information presented in these article and sites is true or if you identify with only one-tenth of the ideas presented, you should have enough to make an informed decision to vote for John Kerry. But that's just my opinion. What's yours?

A week ago Sunday, an article appeared in the New York Times Magazine entitled "Without a Doubt". It was an overview of the president's thought process and how it has evolved over the years and especially since he has been in office. In the course of the article, the writer mentioned an evangelical pastor named Jim Wallis. Wallis is the founder of the Sojourners, a Christian organization President Bush consulted at the start of his term for advice on issues related to faith and poverty. According to the NYT article, Wallis has since become disillusioned with the president.
So I googled Jim Wallis and the Sojourners web site and this is what I found:

Now I don’t pretend to be an expert in Christian theology or Christ’s teachings. Yet I found a lot of common ground between my personal beliefs and the ones expressed in this article. I also found it comforting that there are Christian voices of this type out there.

Here are some other sites that have been recommended to me.

The first is and comes right from Vice President Dick Cheney. You may remember that in the vice-presidential debate a few weeks ago, Cheney cited some statistic, then said - since they kept arguing about statistics - "This is true, you can look it up on" He meant to say, a non-partisan organization that researches, verifies and otherwise checks statements made by the candidates. I don't know how truly non-partisan it is, but it can't be entirely anti-Bush if Cheney suggested viewers go there.Anyway,, an unrelated commercial advertising site, started getting bombarded with hits immediately after (or during!) the debate. After a day or two or this they decided to redirect traffic elsewhere, and make a political statement in the process. So they redirected traffic to George Soros, the multi-billionaire investor, has been posting an anti-Bush blog for weeks. It took him and his team a day or two to figure out what was happening. Then they put up a notice on their home page, saying they had nothing to do with the switch, but that they weren't unhappy with the unintended visits! Anyway, even on, Cheney doesn't exactly come out smelling like a rose. Serves him right.

Other non-partisan sites that research and report on candidates statements include:

The next link points to a speech given last week by Al Gore. Its thesis is that what many people view as President Bush's strength - his resolve against all odds - is actually his greatest weakness. The speech recounts, in one document, the crushing avalanche of information that has been widely reported elswhere. None of it should come as a surprise, but it's a bit overwhelming to read all in one place. It's long, but stick with it, especially if you're a Bush supporter or leaning towards Bush.
There seem to be many other interesting articles here, too.

Where the former VP's speech ends, the following song begins. When ideas are put to music, they can sometimes take on a new urgency. That's what I felt when I listened to this:
If you like it, you can campaign in the shower!

On the next site, Alternet, have a look at "Mideast meets West" (, about a correspondence between an American man (an ex-Marine) and an Iraqi woman, and "I was one guy in a bubble" (, about the lack of outside input into President Bush's decision-making process, make very worthwhile reading. The second article is reminiscent of Mr. Gore's speech. Finally, "The world according to a Bush voter" ( shows the results of a survey of the beliefs held by supporters of President Bush.

Lastly, you've heard of Republicans for Kerry. Now here's: Here is a link to an AP story about the site: AP story on

In closing, I'd like to introduce some historical perspective. In 2000, George Bush lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote. This had not happened since the 19th century. So I went to the Encyclopedia Britannica and looked up Grover Cleveland, who won the popular vote against Benjamin Harrison in 1888 but lost the electoral vote, and Rutherford B. Hayes, who lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden in 1876, but won the electoral vote. Here is what the Britannica had to say about Hayes:

In 1875, during his third gubernatorial campaign, Hayes attracted national attention by his uncompromising advocacy of a sound currency backed by gold. The following year he became his state's favourite son at the national Republican nominating convention, where a shrewdly managed campaign won him the presidential nomination. Hayes's unblemished public record and high moral tone offered a striking contrast to widely publicized accusations of corruption in the administration of President
Ulysses S. Grant (1869–77). An economic depression, however, and Northern disenchantment with Reconstruction policies in the South combined to give Hayes's Democratic opponent, Samuel J. Tilden, a popular majority, and early returns indicated a Democratic victory in the electoral college as well. Hayes's campaign managers challenged the validity of the returns from South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana, and as a result two sets of ballots were submitted from the three states. The ensuing electoral dispute became known as the Tilden-Hayes affair. Eventually a bipartisan majority of Congress created a special Electoral Commission to decide which votes should be counted. As originally conceived, the commission was to comprise seven Democrats, seven Republicans, and one independent, the Supreme Court justice David Davis. Davis refused to serve, however, and the Republican Joseph P. Bradley was named in his place. While the commission was deliberating, Republican allies of Hayes engaged in secret negotiations with moderate Southern Democrats aimed at securing acquiescence to Hayes's election. On March 2, 1877, the commission voted along strict party lines to award all the contested electoral votes to Hayes, who was thus elected with 185 electoral votes to Tilden's 184. The result was greeted with outrage and bitterness by some Northern Democrats, who thereafter referred to Hayes as “His Fraudulency.”
Hayes chose not to run for a second term, but according to the Britannica, he almost certainly would not have been renominated either. Hayes was not the only president to choose not to run for a second term. Much more recently, in 1968, Lyndon Johnson, mired in the Vietnam War, also decided not to seek re-election.

My other historical reference is to the Declaration of Independence. Some people have said to me that in times of such uncertainty, it's better not to change presidents. "At least with George Bush, you know what he stands for." This made me think of Thomas Jefferson's words:

"All Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed."

Of course, he then goes on to appeal to the risk-taking side of us.

May the better team win!


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Crawford mayor supports Kerry

According to an article in today’s Times, the mayor of Crawford, Texas, where President Bush has his ranch, is a Democrat and a Kerry supporter. The article also mentions a Crawford newspaper, the Lone Star Iconoclast, that has endorsed Senator Kerry. Here’s a link to that editorial and an equally interesting follow-up article to the publication of the editorial. And lastly, while you’re at the Iconoclast’s site, read the letters to the editor, which present an interesting cross-section from both sides of the (unfortunate) divide.

One of the questioners in last week’s debate asked President Bush why he had never vetoed a spending bill. Another article from today’s Times made me recall the president’s answer: "I haven't vetoed any spending bills because we work together". I assume this means the negotiating process is so smooth that by the time bills come to his desk for signature, all the wrinkles have been ironed out. Decide for yourself.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

The first Kerry-Bush debate

Thanks to the internet (and the New York Times!) I was able to watch last Thursday's debate a day later. Watching it live from France would have required being up in the middle of the night, something my wife says I do too often as it is.

I think the debate showed a telling contrast between the two candidates. I saw Senator Kerry as an experienced, poised statesman, someone who has thought long and hard about the problems America and the world faces during his 20-year tenure in the Senate.

I saw President Bush as the antithesis of the experienced, poised statesman. He seemed broadsided by his opponents direct statements. He seemed unable to formulate clear responses to them other than to repeat the same statement over and over, i.e. that Senator Kerry has been giving out "mixed messages". In fact I admire Kerry's patience in answering that charge: he believed Saddam Hussein was a threat. He believed that threat needed to be removed. He believes the president went about it in entirely the wrong way (my paraphrase).

Senator Kerry made a reference to his book "The new war" during the debate. A few weeks ago, independently of his comment, I decided to take a look at what the two candidates had penned over the years to get more insight into the values and vision of each of them.

Here's a link to George W. Bush's book, "A charge to keep". Now here's a link to John Kerry's book, "The new war".

I've selected these two books, because you can peek inside them on Amazon and read a few pages. Both were written about the same time, in the 1997-99 timeframe. The subjects are unrelated, and the books were written for different purposes.Yet they make for an interesting comparison. In my opinion, they literally speak volumes about the kinds of men George Bush and John Kerry are and the issues that are important to them.