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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-10-24 - 11:23 a.m.

“Bush Team Inept at Diplomacy”

Jews, Israel and America,

an op-ed piece in today’s N. Y. Times by Thomas L. Friedman, tells of his conversation with Scott Pelley of CBS News’ 60 Minutes, who had just returned from Iraq. When asked if the Iraqis have a nickname for the GI’s, he related they are called “The Jews,” because Americans are so closely allied with Israel against the Islamic.

But in the struggle between Mr. Sharon and common sense, America should be with common sense. The late Yitzhak Rabin wanted to get out of Gaza to make peace with the Palestinians, because he understood the danger of "Jews, Israel and America" all getting melded together in the nuclear age. Mr. Rabin knew that no peace deal would resonate in the Arab-Muslim world if it did not have a legitimate Palestinian partner. Mr. Sharon seems to want to get out of Gaza to make peace with the Jews. His aides have made clear that he is getting out of Gaza in order to entrench Israel even more deeply in the West Bank and the Jewish settlements there.

In the face of this plan, the Bush team is silent. This is partly because the Palestinians continue to stick with Arafat as their leader, even though this bum has led them to ruin - so the U.S. has nothing to offer Israel. And it's partly because the Bush team, which is so inept at diplomacy, has never had the energy or creativity to shape a better Palestinian alternative to Arafat. As a result, the Sharon vision of getting out of Gaza in order to take over the West Bank will probably win by default. If that happens, "Jews, Israel and America" will be bound together more tightly than ever as the enemies of Arabs and Muslims.


And what if Israel decides to make a preemptive strike against Iran, as it is rumored now to be thinking of? What will be U.S. position? We've certainly set precedent for such an attack. Iran must seem to be as imminent a threat to Israel as Iraq was to us. And try to convince the Islamic radicals the Jews, Israel and United States has anything other than that in mind.

The Middle East is even more of a tinder box than before Bush started the ideologues' Crusades. Money to support the insurgency in Iraq seems to be funneling from Arabia through Syria to Iraq rebels. Osama bin Laden is rumored to be in Pakistan. Recently Bush said something like the Iraqis would fight for democracy. Perhaps that is just what they are doing - fighting for the right to their own country. That is what insurgency usually is. I can only wonder if it would be any worse if we removed our troops. President Bush has the delusional idea that the terrorists hate us because we are free -- and if they become free, this will all go away. I believe (and I am not alone in this) that we are hated because of our policies in the Middle East. See the article above!

Immigrant Nation, Divided Country

Did you watch the CNN special about Immigrant Nation? "Are illegal workers stealing jobs and destroying the fabric of American society? Or are they energizing the U.S. economy and keeping the American dream alive? CNN Correspondent Maria Hinojosa, a Mexican-American herself, goes inside the lives of four families on the front lines of the growing debate over illegal immigration."

We could have our own vigilante conflict, if our government doesn't acknowledge we have a volatile issue involving undocumented immigrants and the burden they put on our health care and educational systems.

An Enthusiastic Endorsement of John F. Kerry

We have specific fears about what would happen in a second Bush term, particularly regarding the Supreme Court. The record so far gives us plenty of cause for worry. Thanks to Mr. Bush, Jay Bybee, the author of an infamous Justice Department memo justifying the use of torture as an interrogation technique, is now a federal appeals court judge. Another Bush selection, J. Leon Holmes, a federal judge in Arkansas, has written that wives must be subordinate to their husbands and compared abortion rights activists to Nazis.

Mr. Bush remains enamored of tax cuts but he has never stopped Republican lawmakers from passing massive spending, even for projects he dislikes, like increased farm aid.

If he wins re-election, domestic and foreign financial markets will know the fiscal recklessness will continue. Along with record trade imbalances, that increases the chances of a financial crisis, like an uncontrolled decline of the dollar, and higher long-term interest rates.

The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages. We get the radical goals but not the efficient management. The Department of Education's handling of the No Child Left Behind Act has been heavily politicized and inept. The Department of Homeland Security is famous for its useless alerts and its inability to distribute antiterrorism aid according to actual threats. Without providing enough troops to properly secure Iraq, the administration has managed to so strain the resources of our armed forces that the nation is unprepared to respond to a crisis anywhere else in the world.

Mr. Kerry has the capacity to do far, far better. He has a willingness - sorely missing in Washington these days - to reach across the aisle. We are relieved that he is a strong defender of civil rights, that he would remove unnecessary restrictions on stem cell research and that he understands the concept of separation of church and state. We appreciate his sensible plan to provide health coverage for most of the people who currently do without.

Mr. Kerry has an aggressive and in some cases innovative package of ideas about energy, aimed at addressing global warming and oil dependency. He is a longtime advocate of deficit reduction. In the Senate, he worked with John McCain in restoring relations between the United States and Vietnam, and led investigations of the way the international financial system has been gamed to permit the laundering of drug and terror money. He has always understood that America's appropriate role in world affairs is as leader of a willing community of nations, not in my-way-or-the-highway domination.

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.

Voting for president is a leap of faith. A candidate can explain his positions in minute detail and wind up governing with a hostile Congress that refuses to let him deliver. A disaster can upend the best-laid plans. All citizens can do is mix guesswork and hope, examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character. It's on those three grounds that we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president.


What started out for me as an Anybody But Bush election has gradually evolved into whole hearted support of John Kerry.

I plan to watch tonight’s CNN special on the new Evangelical United States and its impact on politics.

The Fight Over Faith

It is the fastest-growing form of Christianity in America. Some surveys say nearly 40 percent of Christians in the United States describe themselves as "evangelical" or "born again." What does it mean to be an evangelical in America 2004 and why is this brand of Christianity spreading so rapidly right now?

Premieres Sunday, October 24, 8 p.m. ET

I'll save my comments until after I've watched the special.

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