Monday, July 26, 2004

I've been housesitting at my mother in law's house in Santa Clara this past week. Her house is a garden of eden in the middle of bland suburbia. The front porch and lawn is a series of terraces and gardens and walkways built using bricks from an ugly wall in the backyard that was recently torn down. There is a japanese architectural influence throughout. Draped proudly from the main front porch, right in front of the front door is a U.N. flag, where most people would drape the stars and stripes. My wife and I will be taking this cue and will be flying our own U.N. flag in front of our house when we get home. In a few months, after their in-law addition is built, we will be moving down here on a semi-permanent basis to live cheaply and take care of some personal financial woes that have been festering for too long.

Amidst this garden, I've been spending mornings after watering the plants reading the various current politically charged books she keeps throughout the house. Among them, I've dabbled with Rogue State: America At War With The World, by T.D. Allman, Why Do People Hate America?, by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, and currently, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush. The best by far is the latter, as it is concise, well written, and considering the source, a former Nixon aide whose whistleblowing in Watergate was well known, it comes from a position of intimate knowledge of how things work in the White House. I highly recommend this one. Of the former two, the first is a tad heated in the rhetoric department and the second is academically obtuse. I am all about mainstream reading these days, as far as promoting reading to anyone who may reside on the fence for the 2004 election.

Today the Dem Convention begins and I am hopeful that their quest for positivity doesn't come at the cost of missing opportunities for telling all Americans how much damage the Bush administration has done to our country's reputation throughout the world. I doubt Kerry's going to call in question the whole notion of preemptive war, and I think it is a mistake if he doesn't. This notion, in my mind, is the root cause for all the troubles we will face in the coming years. As I had been saying from the moment we began responding to the 9/11 attacks, Bush is playing right into Al Qaeda's hands. They wanted an escalation to promote their existence to others in the Arab world who have been against Western hegemony in world affairs. The way that Bush has handled our foreign policy is making matters worse than they already were before the attacks. He would have been better off doing nothing.

Let me reiterate what Kerry needs to focus on: Statesmanship vs. Brinksmanship. There is a way we can coordinate the world response to terrorism on an international level, where all parties are in agreement (or near agreement) on how to proceed. It's not that the Bush administration tried to do it and failed, they wanted to go it alone in the first place. "If you're not with us, you're against us." If that's not a loaded way to frame the debate before the debate ever got going, I don't know what is. They went to Iraq on a predetermined timetable, taking the weather into account. Should Kerry get elected, the world will come back to the table and ask him, "how can we help you fix this mess." And he will succeed where Bush failed miserably.

To me, the Bush administration, run by neocons, decided to take the balls out approach the moment the Supreme Court decided the 2000 election in favor of Bush, knowing that it was unlikely they would exist past their first four year term. It was opportunism by an extremist group of dangerous ideologues to seize the moment to insert their agenda for all it was worth, knowing their time in power wouldn't last long. Then 9/11 happened and their agenda was given the cover it needed, and they began to realize that they were afforded an actual opportunity to stretch it to eight years.

There is no question that our #1 priority in this country is to get Kerry elected. While I may not agree with him on many of his stances (voting for the war to begin with, for starters), at this point it's all about damage control. A very personal analogy for me relates to my own credit card debt. The things I'd juggled in life for a number of years did not add up, and now I am to a point where I need to suffer through just working and not juggling the gamble of a musical career any longer, live with my mother in law until the slate is wiped clean, and then we can talk about saving and investing for the future, and moving forward with more lofty goals. The situation in this country now politically (not to mention economically) is a lot like that. We need to get Kerry in there first, and then reverse the damage of the past four years before moving forward with trying to shift the country further to the left.

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