The Kerry Challenge - Al Uthman

Dying Quietly - Matt Taibbi

A Conversation About Nothing - Gabe Armstrong

The Allentown Terrorist - Lee Langenfeld

The Tet Defensive- Matt Taibbi

The Rapture Report!- George W's Guide to the Apocalyppse

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The Kerry Challenge

If the Democrats Lose, It’s Because They’ve Earned It

By Allan Uthman

A recent Harris poll indicates that about half of you don’t have any idea what’s going on, or don’t seem to care at all. After what should have been a crushing few weeks for the Bush administration, our National Embarrassment has actually risen in some polls, much to my own puzzlement and frustration. It would seem that Bush is another “Teflon President,” or more aptly that his supporters are equipped with Teflon skulls, easily deflecting documented abuses of power lest they fully register in their brains.

Let me explain: in the last few days, the 9/11 Panel has concluded that there is no credible evidence of a Saddam – al Qaeda connection, a bipartisan group of former government officials has released an unprecedented letter calling for Bush’s removal, an April State Department report which trumpeted declining terrorism in ’03 turned out to be grade A bullshit, CIA pal Ahmed Chalabi has turned out to be a lying, spying, thief, and a recent poll shows that Iraqi support of the U.S. occupation has dropped to two percent. In addition, it was discovered that still-hanging-on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has hidden detainees from the Red Cross, and that the CIA and Justice Department were discussing the legal ramifications of torturing detainees a couple of years ago, both items further exacerbating the prison abuse scandal.

The White House has reacted in their trademark fashion, by lying their asses off, and taking advantage of our nation’s hard-won willful ignorance. Cheney replied to the 9/11 commision by simply re-telling the same damn lies that got us here in the first place. Bush pretended not to have “really” met with Chalabi. ‘Unhappy camper’ Colin Powell, his credibility a distant memory, insisted that the erroneous report was a simple mistake and “not politically motivated,” albeit only after a congressman pointed out the errors. And Rumsfeld, looking a little more bewildered every day, pretended that there were really good reasons for hiding prisoners that had nothing to do with abuse, but failed to mention what those reasons actually were.

Despite all of this, Bush is still in a dead heat against Kerry. A recent Harris poll of likely voters shows Bush a full ten percent above Kerry, up from April, while many other polls show Kerry up by a few points, or Bush up more modestly, or both tied. The news is staggering, really. All of this evidence of wrongdoing, of deception, of blundering, has had no significant impact on his popularity. How can this be? Isn’t anyone paying attention? Are Americans really this dumb? Well, yes and no. Whenever I get involved in a conversation with a Bush supporter about these issues, I get the same response: yes they’re dishonest and corrupt, but so are all politicians. Fair enough. Then the core problem shows its face: “I don’t really like Bush, but I just don’t think I can vote for Kerry.”

Here’s a hint for the DNC and the Kerry campaign: try coming up with some short, catchy phrases to describe Bush. “Flip-flopper” is catchy and fun to say, and it sticks in your head. Try “Globe-banger.” Remember, this is marketing now, not debate—the candidate is a brand, not a collection of experiences or even opinions.

The real problem is that these are our only options, as most people perceive it, and I really can’t blame anyone for disliking Kerry; he’s just another brand. Bush and Kerry are Coke and Pepsi, McDonald’s and Burger King, Time and Newsweek. Bush is Fox News, and Democrats want to change the channel to CNN, imagining that they’re getting the truth. Party-line Democrats have been fooled into thinking that they represent change or hope, that they’re on the right side—or rather the left side. Nothing could be further from the truth in reality. The Democrats are a decoy; a corporate hegemonist’s plan B. Bush’s speechwriters are right; Kerry is a “flip-flopper,” but then so is Bush—both are simply career politicians willing to say anything, or not to say anything, in order to get elected. Just think about Bush’s ridiculous rhetoric about protecting “small” businesses, or recall his campaign stand about not engaging in nation building (then again, I suppose what the U.S. is currently doing in Iraq could be better termed “nation demolition”).

It’s downright stupid that these are our choices. We are a diverse nation full of vastly divergent opinions, and a good half of us believe in a method of government that could be described as democratic socialism, whether we know it or not. But we are offered only two options, which are closer to each other on the political spectrum than Nixon and Reagan. Everyone has the same excuse for voting for either asshole A or asshole B: excuse A: “yeah, Bush is a lying thief, but I just don’t like that Kerry; he won’t even say what he thinks.” Excuse B: “yeah, Kerry is afraid to say anything that might alienate anybody, but, Christ, Bush is an evil monster hell-bent on destroying the world.” Personally, I prefer B, but that’s not the point. The Right is right about John Kerry; he is a pedantic stiff, unable to simply speak his mind on any issue. It’s not really his fault; as we can see by the relentless mocking of Dean, Kucinich, or any other earnest candidate who dares pop his head above water, the media had no stomach for candor—they want marketing. The only one left who dares enter the fray, Ralph Nader, is excoriated and hated for screwing with the Pepsi challenge dynamic we’re so used to. I live in New York, and have the luxury of knowing my state will go to Kerry regardless, so I will vote for Nader, because he is the only candidate who says anything, and the only candidate who isn’t an obviously corrupt shill for his donors. The other two are so clearly compromised that they might as well be overdubbed with that “wah-wah” sound they used for the voices of adults in “Peanuts” cartoon specials when I was a kid.

The fact that Bush may well win reelection is a testament to the weakness of the other side. Kerry’s inability to assert a positive plan or even a firm opinion is a campaign strategy, but a bad one. He will lose if his plan is to let Bush hang himself, because Bush’s supporters are either too stupid or too stubborn to properly gather and analyze the growing volumes of evidence against him. They won’t read Worse Than Watergate, Plan of Attack, The Great Unraveling, The Price of Loyalty, or any of the other books detailing the awful joke our White House has become, if indeed they read at all. They don’t give a damn about foreigners, or even the fact that the recent executions of Americans in the Middle East are a direct result of Bush’s policies there. The campaign brought by Move America Forward (the same people who squashed the “Reagans” miniseries) against Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 only underscores their alarmingly conscious unwillingness to learn the truth about their leaders. It should not be the left’s fate that we fall victim to the same crap. Stare Kerry in the face, Democrats; see him for what he is. Don’t glorify him, and don’t use Bush as some kind of standard of character to measure him by. You should be demanding more, much more than this.

I’m not saying, as Nader has, that there is no significant difference—there is. When Democrats are elected, the poor get a slightly better deal, and the rich get a slightly higher burden. Social issues count for something too—Kerry is pro-choice, and won’t stack the courts with more religious idiots. But where will we be on health care? Corporate taxation? Campaign finance reform? Stock market manipulation? Nowhere, that’s where.

I request of you one simple thing: if you don’t like either of the candidates, then don’t vote for either of them. Vote for someone you like who hasn’t a chance of winning. Hell, vote for Pat Buchanan, write in for Rocky and Bullwinkle, anything but choosing an evil idiot just because you feel personal animosity for the other guy. If we all followed this advice, we might be able to steal our country back from the insidious two-party system. Well, maybe, eventually. Oh hell, just vote for Pepsi…I mean Kerry.




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