Bush Wins:

17 Reasons not to Slit your Wrists

Pamela Olson
23 November 2004

A day late and a dollar short as usual, here are my two cents about the American Presidential elections. I welcome responses and feedback, especially from people who voted for Bush. I would dearly love to hear your reasons why. My current assumptions about Bush voters are probably biased and not very flattering. Enlighten me.

The exit polls showed that the top reasons people voted for Bush were "terrorism" and "moral values."

In my estimation, this means the great triumph of the first term of the Bush administration has been to scare the American people stupid. Or maybe just very cleverly to tap into and utilize stupidity that was already there. I'm not sure which came first.

Fundamentalism (belief systems that allow no questioning or individual thought and encourage chauvinism, nationalism, irrational fear and intolerance) is on the rise in the United States for reasons which merit serious and sober study and counter-action. Instead, the Bush guys skillfully aided and abetted it and rode the wave.

It appears that the line in the sand between Democrats and Republicans today (the joke is that we still call two parties that are 87% identical a democracy) is whether politicians should pacify intelligent and compassionate Americans in the economic bottom 95% while going about their business of giving away the wealth of the world to their corporate sponsors...

Or whether they should strengthen and cozy up to those Medieval-style fundamentalists who can be led around by anyone willing to co-opt and exploit their racist, sexist, homophobic, and rather sloppily-interpreted ideologies and manufactured fears of terrorist boogeymen who in reality have less chance of killing us than lightning or bee stings, and who are very much more likely to sting us if we keep kicking their hives, as the CIA itself has admitted.

It's a clash of civilizations right here on the home front.

A New Yorker named Mark wrote to an email list I'm on:

A 1997 poll found that 43% of the 81% of Americans who believe in heaven also believe there are harps in heaven. [1] The possibility that those people are taking over our country is frightening.

Sorry, Mark. The fundies won this round in a big way.

The logic that leads them to grant carte blanche to a cabal of maniacs? As long as bombs are dropping and lots of brownish people are dying, Americans are safe. As long as women and gays aren't upsettin' the traditional social order, maybe nothing too discombobulating will happen in our lifetimes. And if we hang on to Israel, and keep it away from those inscrutable heathern towel-heads, maybe Jesus (who was obviously a white European) will come again, and then we can all just whistle. [2]

One of Bush's key strategies to get re-elected was to put a law banning gay marriage on the ballot in 11 key states to draw out the people with a vitriolic and incomprehensible hatred of homosexuals to vote for it. These people, of course, were almost certain to vote for George W. Bush while they were at it. Nice one.

So, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, gay marriage has been officially banned in 11 more states, Bush has been successfully re-elected, and women's rights and the separation of church and state are being rolled back faster than Wal-Mart prices.

Candidates race each other to see who more steadfastly supports Israel's illegal, racist policies. The national treasury looks like the credit card account of a seventeen-year-old crack addict. (Maybe brings back memories for our Commander in Chief?) Education, health care, air and water quality, cost of living - down, down, down, up.

Iraq (and many other places) will continue to smolder horribly, probably for decades to come, killing our boys and their men, women, and children. And more ex-Presidents and their buddies will enjoy more billion-dollar deals along with their chosen Uncle Karzais in each of the nations they ravage with cheerful impunity, while the masses back home are left clutching lottery tickets, tiny rebate checks, and Revelations.

Ben Tripp of CounterPunch wrote:

Here's what makes me sick: the last time, Americans voted for this Hakencreuz Hillbilly because he misrepresented what he was about. This time, they knew exactly what he was about, and they voted for him anyway.

We voted for intolerance. We voted against the environment, against the poor, against women, against queers, against Arabs, against any modicum of change or understanding or enlightenment. What does this say about our country?

It's not like the Democrats were helping us out, either; they moved about as far to the right as they possibly could, giving us no real choice and totally alienating the Left, at least those who weren't short-sighted and panicky enough to be in the Anybody But Bush bloc.

We could have had a movement, but instead we just leaned Bushwards in the hopes of stealing votes from clueless swing voters. We effectively strengthened and legitimized Bush's vast 'intolerance' base -- his second base, I should say, since he's said on the record that his true base is the economic top 1%.

And all this racing-each-other-to-the-right turned the debate, which is almost always meaningless, into low comedy that was a horror to watch for anyone with a basic knowledge of the world, history, and human rights. Lucky for them, most Americans don't have such knowledge.

But it's not all bad. Several houses of cards are on the brink of collapse, and it will be poetic justice if the Bush- and Sharon-types are still in power to take the heat when they fall. Rome is over-reaching while cutting the rug out from under itself in a number of ways, and Israel is America's Mini-Me, making very similar mistakes.

The rest of the world is almost relieved George W. Bush was re-elected. A jazz star, born and raised in Israel, who calls himself a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian, said:

America is a superpower. No one can topple it. The only people who can topple America are Americans themselves and they have done it. They have elected a qualified imbecile to run their administration. They are getting involved in so many wars and they are far from being successful in any of them. This empire is falling apart.

Our alliances are falling apart, our credibility is falling apart, our claim to morality is falling apart, our civil rights are taking an alarming nose-dive, and best of luck with health care, education, social security... Even some former staunch Conservatives who still have some of their faculties about them are properly horrified.

But history has seen darker times than these. We the People haven't lost. The two-terms-of-Bush setback may even be a blessing in disguise. There was a devastating ice storm in Oklahoma a few years back that nearly destroyed half the trees in Haskell County. We were horrified. But a couple of springs hence, things came up newer and greener than ever before.

Sometimes we have to hit bottom before real change and renewal can take place. And Bush seems to be taking the most direct path to the bottom possible. That's cold comfort for all the people and places being killed and destroyed and all the hearts being broken as we speak. (Most people in the West are comfortably shielded from the worst, but it's there, manifestly.) And there's a good chance things will reach critical mass and just keep getting darker from here on out.

It's up to us to make sure this doesn't happen. There's a lot of potential to see the current mystifying horrors as a wake-up call to face difficult truths and take difficult but necessary actions. We're the only ones who can do it.

We must resist and help others resist the urge to become rigid out of fear, to bury ourselves in the past or in the neo-ideologies that thinly attempt to justify economic and political brutality that will spell disaster for all of us in the end.

In a globalized world, we have no excuse for ignorance. We can't let the terrorists and ideologues, Eastern or Western, modern or medieval, win. There are more possibilities than they try to make us think.

You're either with me or you're with George W. Bush and the terrorists.


The following cheered me up a bit anyway:

  • Light humor by the lovable Limbaugh of what America calls the Left (ha!);

  • A beautiful quotation by Howard Zinn, one of my heroes. His A People's History of the United States may be the most important book I've ever read;

  • An article about why Kerry's loss might be a battle worth losing in the long-term for those lesser-of-two-evils Democrats;

  • And finally, Homer Simpson sums up two-party democracy in seven words.




Dear Friends,

Ok, it sucks. Really sucks. But before you go and cash it all in, let's, in the words of Monty Python, 'always look on the bright side of life!' There IS some good news from Tuesday's election.

Here are 17 reasons not to slit your wrists:

1. It is against the law for George W. Bush to run for president again.

2. Bush's victory was the NARROWEST win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

3. The only age group in which the majority voted for Kerry was young adults (Kerry: 54%, Bush: 44%), proving once again that your parents are always wrong and you should never listen to them.

4. In spite of Bush's win, the majority of Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction (56%), think the war wasn't worth fighting (51%), and don't approve of the job George W. Bush is doing (52%). (Note to foreigners: Don't try to figure this one out. It's an American thing, like Pop Tarts.)

5. The Republicans will not have a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate. If the Democrats do their job, Bush won't be able to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues. Did I say "if the Democrats do their job?" Um, maybe better to scratch this one.

6. Michigan voted for Kerry! So did the entire Northeast, the birthplace of our democracy. So did 6 of the 8 Great Lakes States. And the whole West Coast! Plus Hawaii. Ok, that's a start. We've got most of the fresh water, all of Broadway, and Mt. St. Helens. We can dehydrate them or bury them in lava. And no more show tunes!

7. Once again we are reminded that the buckeye is a nut, and not just any old nut -- a poisonous nut. A great nation was felled by a poisonous nut. May Ohio State pay dearly this Saturday when it faces Michigan.

8. 88% of Bush's support came from white voters. In 50 years, America will no longer have a white majority. Hey, 50 years isn't such a long time! If you're ten years old and reading this, your golden years will be truly golden and you will be well cared for in your old age.

9. Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't have to buy now.

10. Five more African Americans were elected as members of Congress, including the return of Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. It's always good to have more blacks in there fighting for us and doing the job our candidates can't.

11. The CEO of Coors was defeated for Senate in Colorado. Drink up!

12. Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away.

13. At the state legislative level, Democrats picked up a net of at least 3 chambers in Tuesday's elections. Of the 98 partisan-controlled state legislative chambers (house/assembly and senate), Democrats went into the 2004 elections in control of 44 chambers, Republicans controlled 53 chambers, and 1 chamber was tied. After Tuesday, Democrats now control 47 chambers, Republicans control 49 chambers, 1 chamber is tied and 1 chamber (Montana House) is still undecided.

14. Bush is now a lame duck president. He will have no greater moment than the one he's having this week. It's all downhill for him from here on out -- and, more significantly, he's just not going to want to do all the hard work that will be expected of him. It'll be like everyone's last month in 12th grade -- you've already made it, so it's party time! Perhaps he'll treat the next four years like a permanent Friday, spending even more time at the ranch or in Kennebunkport. And why shouldn't he? He's already proved his point, avenged his father and kicked our ass.

15. Should Bush decide to show up to work and take this country down a very dark road, it is also just as likely that either of the following two scenarios will happen: a) Now that he doesn't ever need to pander to the Christian conservatives again to get elected, someone may whisper in his ear that he should spend these last four years building "a legacy" so that history will render a kinder verdict on him and thus he will not push for too aggressive a right-wing agenda; or b) He will become so cocky and arrogant -- and thus, reckless -- that he will commit a blunder of such major proportions that even his own party will have to remove him from office.

16. There are nearly 300 million Americans -- 200 million of them of voting age. We only lost by three and a half million! That's not a landslide -- it means we're almost there. Imagine losing by 20 million. If you had 58 yards to go before you reached the goal line and then you barreled down 55 of those yards, would you stop on the three yard line, pick up the ball and go home crying -- especially when you get to start the next down on the three yard line? Of course not! Buck up! Have hope! More sports analogies are coming!!!

17. Finally and most importantly, over 55 million Americans voted for the candidate dubbed "The #1 Liberal in the Senate." That's more than the total number of voters who voted for either Reagan, Bush I, Clinton or Gore. Again, more people voted for Kerry than Reagan. If the media are looking for a trend it should be this -- that so many Americans were, for the first time since Kennedy, willing to vote for an out-and-out liberal. The country has always been filled with evangelicals -- that is not news. What IS news is that so many people have shifted toward a Massachusetts liberal. In fact, that's BIG news. Which means, don't expect the mainstream media, the ones who brought you the Iraq War, to ever report the real truth about November 2, 2004. In fact, it's better that they don't. We'll need the element of surprise in 2008.

Feeling better? I hope so. As my friend Mort wrote me yesterday, "My Romanian grandfather used to say to me, 'Remember, Morton, this is such a wonderful country -- it doesn't even need a president!'"

But it needs us. Rest up, I'll write you again tomorrow.


Michael Moore


"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

    ~ Howard Zinn, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A personal history of our times, p. 208


Kerry Should Be Glad He Lost

November 04, 2004

FOR THOSE of us who were disappointed, and even horrified, by George W. Bush’s return to power there was one consolation in yesterday’s result. On the contrary, the previously unmentionable hope for the supporters of liberal politics in America, is that Senator Kerry has done the Democratic Party a favour of immense, historic proportions by losing to Mr Bush. In military history, it is a commonplace that there are certain battles worth losing rather than winning — and if ever this were true in politics, then the 2004 US election would be a case in point.

To see what I mean, step away from America for a moment and consider the most successful left-of-centre party in the modern world: Britain’s “new” Labour Party. Now ask yourself what electoral event laid the foundation for Labour’s success. This would be the 1992 election, in which a manifestly incompetent Tory Government was unexpectedly and undeservedly returned to power.

If Neil Kinnock instead of John Major had won the 1992 election, the devaluation of Black Wednesday would have occurred even sooner. The monetary crisis which undermined the Tories’ long-established reputation for economic competence would have been blamed on Labour’s mismanagement. Black Wednesday (or Monday or Tuesday) would almost certainly have brought down the Kinnock Government and would unquestionably have ended Labour’s hopes of ever again becoming a serious party of government. Indeed, as a very minor contributor to the outcome of the 1992 election through my articles unravelling Labour’s absurd tax plans, I have often been thanked by friends in the party for inadvertently helping them to avoid the terrible fate awaiting them if they had gained power.

So was 2004 a good election to lose, just like 1992 in Britain? Will the Democrats one day thank John Kerry for losing, just as Labour is grateful to Mr Kinnock? This seems distinctly possible, given the challenges now facing America, especially in geopolitics and macroeconomics. Iraq is a mess which Mr Bush created and it is surely fitting that he should be the one forced to clean it up. The same is true of ballooning government deficits, escalating oil prices and the small but growing, threat of a crisis in the US balance of payments leading to an international run on the dollar.

Extricating American forces from Iraq will be extremely difficult for Mr Bush, especially if he tries to maintain significant control over its foreign policies and its energy resources. Restoring stability to Iraq, without handing the country over to an overtly anti-Western or theocratic regime will become even harder if Mr Bush decides to pick a fight with Iran over nuclear proliferation — or, even worse, if he backs Israel in a “pre-emptive” military attack. To control America’s public finances will be equally difficult, given that the President and his party are now totally committed to ever-lower taxes, ever-more aggressive military postures and ever-more generous corporate subsidies.

It is quite likely, therefore, that in the next year or two President Bush could face a military or economic crisis (or both) — and, crucially, that such a crisis would be analogous to Black Wednesday in its political effects. If Mr Bush suffered a serious military setback, either in Iraq or in a broader confrontation involving Iran, Israel and other Middle East countries (not to mention North Korea or Taiwan), the Republicans would lose their reputation as the “party of national security”, just as the British Tories lost their reputation as the party of economic competence in 1992. The damage to the Republicans’ national security reputation would be even greater if America were hit by a serious terrorist attack or if withdrawal from Iraq turned into a disorderly Vietnam-style humiliation.

On the economic front, the Republicans risk disgrace if they raise taxes or if, as is much more likely in my view, America suffers a financial and inflationary crisis because of its failure to bring the federal budget back under control.

But even if the Bush Administration manages to avoid any such disasters, the analogy with Britain in the early 1990s suggests that the Democrats should be grateful to stay out of the White House for the next four years. The electorate’s decision to let Mr Bush clear up his own messes does not just threaten the incumbent with poetic justice; more importantly it offers a reprieve from a potential death sentence on the Democrats. If a newly-elected President Kerry were to suffer a terrorist attack or a humiliation in Iraq or some kind of fiscal crisis, the political backlash against the Democrats would be far worse than the damage faced in similar circumstances by Mr Bush.

For as hard as Mr Kerry would try to blame the Bush legacy for any such disasters, the public would see them as evidence that the Democrats as a party are weak on terrorism, prone to defeat in military confrontations and ideologically committed to higher tax. It is again worth imagining the public reaction in Britain if it had been the economic policies of Mr Kinnock, instead of Mr Major, that were blown away by the markets six months after the election of 1992.

In sum, the next four years could be a good time for the Democrats to let right-wing Republicans take their policies to their logical conclusion and beyond. Just as Mr Major took Thatcherism beyond its logical conclusions with policies such as rail privatisation and the bizarre moralising of “back to basics”, the Republicans could overreach themselves not only in economics and foreign policy but also in social and environmental matters and on the membership of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Democrats must rebuild their party, unite around an impressive new leader and wait for Republican mythology to self-destruct in the face of events. All this will happen in time, very possibly in the next four years. If so, the Democrats may one day hail Mr Kerry as the man whose defeat paved the way for Hillary Clinton, just as Labour now reveres Mr Kinnock as the lucky loser who made possible the triumphs of Tony Blair.


"Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!"

    ~ Homer Simpson, while being enslaved and whipped by evil aliens controlled by President Kang, an evil alien who was democratically elected over evil alien Kodos.


[1] http://www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/never.html

[2] Nothing against Jesus or religion, just against, you know, maniacs.


"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this [9/11] happen.'"

    ~ Jerry Falwell

"If the United States takes a role in ripping half of Jerusalem away from Israel and giving it to Yasser Arafat and a group of terrorists, we are going to see the wrath of God fall on this nation that will make tornadoes look like a Sunday school picnic."

Next: My Boss will run for President of Palestine

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