Al on America by Al Sharpton, Karen Hunter
"I am running to take out the DLC, which I call the Democratic Leisure Class, because that's who it serves-the leisure class and the wealthy," professes the ubiquitous and controversial reverend. In keeping with this theme, Sharpton's 2004 presidential campaign platform is an uneven political manifesto that concentrates more on race relations than on the complexities of foreign policy.
A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America by John Kerry
Before Kerry lays out his positions on everything from education reform to health care, foreign policy and civil liberties, he discusses his candidacy in the context of his calling to public service, hitting on the themes of finding common ground and restoring America's promise. Kerry's belief in service strongly shapes the campaign platform, as in his suggestion that community service should become a requirement for high school graduation.
Winning Back America by Howard Dean
"I talk as simply and directly to people as possible," claims Dean, and though his official campaign biography-cum-manifesto is notable for its plainspokenness, it mostly lacks the passionate forcefulness the front-running Democratic candidate has shown on the campaign trail. The toning down appears deliberate; not only does Dean apologize for intemperate remarks, he goes out of his way to describe himself as a nonradical during his late '60s college years and compares his fiscal outlook to that of his "moderate business-oriented Republican" father.
A Prayer for America by Dennis Kucinich, Studs Terkel
In 1977, aged 31, Kucinich was elected "Boy Mayor" of Cleveland. Now a U.S. representative from Ohio, he is one of the most interesting and unusual members of the Democratic presidential field for 2004. His strong, even radical positions on workers' rights, the environment, health care, foreign policy and defense give him a good claim to represent "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" and to challenge the business-oriented centrism promoted by the Democratic Leadership Council.
Four Trials by John Edwards, John Auchard
In his campaigns for the U.S. Senate (successful) and the Democratic presidential nomination (struggling), Edwards has defiantly celebrated his earlier career as a trial lawyer. Following that instinct, Edwards has chosen to cast his campaign memoir as an account of four of his courtroom experiences. Four Trials is brimming with Clintonian empathy for regular folks, and Edwards is at his best in his endearing portraits of the victims he represented in medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits. He also displays a keen understanding of the psychology of a jury, which he calls "a microcosm of democracy." Edwards weaves in recollections of his youth as the son of a mill worker, his rise to prominence as a lawyer, his dedicated family life and the death of his son in a car accident. But he mostly sticks to the details of the cases; he omits almost entirely his years in the Senate and his plans for the presidency. Edwards can tell a good yarn, and at times this book works as a courtroom drama. But it suffers from shoddy, platitudinous prose. The book is chiefly of interest for the way it manifests Edwards's strategy to present himself as an advocate for the downtrodden to his new jury, the American electorate.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Who Built America: Working People and the Nation's Economy, Politics, Culture, and Society by Christopher Clark
Workers, women and minorities are the focus of a volume more successful as a textbook than as a history for the general reader. At its best, this offers enlightening glimpses of the impact of white settlers on American Indians, early stirrings of the labor movement, the hardships imposed by slavery, and "the capacity of ordinary people to alter the very process of history."
Funding Health Care: Options for Europe by Elias Mossialos, Anna Dixon etc.
Twelve chapters examine current health care funding approaches and outline their advantages and disadvantages. Taxation, voluntary and supplemental forms of insurance, user fees, and informal payment systems are analyzed from a cross- national and interdisciplinary perspective. An introductory chapter covers conceptual issues related to funding. Contributors are health care analysts with European universities, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Social Security by Lita Epstein
Presents a history of Society Security in the United States and covers the basics of collecting retirement benefits, disability benefits, Medicare, medigap, and privatization of Social Security.
Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire by Wesley K. Clark
Retired General Wesley Clark's follow up to his insightful, detailed memoir of NATO's victorious Kosovo campaign begins as a concise analysis of the 2003 military invasion/occupation of Iraq and wends its way to a troubling yet ultimately hopeful examination of America at an unprecedented domestic, economic, and geopolitical crossroads. Clark's keen intellect (he was a Rhodes Scholar and graduated first in his class at West Point) and refreshing gift for intelligent plain-speaking often call attention to salient observations too often overlooked in the daily jumble of selective news and political spin.
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Truth About Corporate Cons, Globalization and High-Finance Fraudsters by Greg Palast
Muckraking has a long, storied tradition, and Palast is evidently proud to be part of it. In this polemical indictment of globalization and political corruption, Palast (a reporter with the BBC and London's Observer) updates the muckraking tradition with some 21st-century targets: the IMF, World Bank and WTO, plus oil treaties, energy concerns and corporate evildoers of all creeds. Some of Palast's reports are downright shocking (if familiar). He shows, for example, how the WTO prevents cheap AIDS drugs from reaching victims in Africa and how World Bank loan policies have crippled the economies of Tanzania and other developing countries. On the home front, he details Exxon's horrific safety record before the Valdez disaster and reveals the price-gouging by Texas power companies during the California energy crisis.
Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville, Richard D. Heffner (Editor)
Democracy in America is the classic analysis of America's unique political character, quoted heavily by politicians and perennially popping up on history professors' reading lists. The book's enduring appeal lies in the eloquent, prophetic voice of Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), a French aristocrat who visited the United States in 1831. A thoughtful young man in a still-young country, he succeeded in penning this penetrating study of America's people, culture, history, geography, politics, legal system, and economy. Tocqueville asserts, "I confess that in America I saw more than America; I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or hope from its progress."
Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries by Arend Lijphart
This updated and expanded edition of the highly acclaimed book Democracies offers an even broader, more thorough analysis of today`s democracies. Encompassing thirty-six democracies around the world, the book compares cabinets, legislatures, parties, election systems, supreme courts, interest groups, and central banks to arrive at important-and unexpected-findings about what type of democracy works best.
Experience And Education by John Dewey
Dewey is considered "America's only Philosopher" par exellence, but he wrote so much that is hard to get to the core of his philosophy. In any event, whether you want to understand Dewey's philosophical center or simply get a quick, concise overview of progressive, experience-based educational theory, this would be the book to start with.
The Faith-Based Initiatives and the Bush Administration; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by Jo Renee Formicola
In Faith-Based Initiatives and the Bush Administration: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly noted scholars Jo Renee Formicola and Mary C. Segers analyze the administration's initiative from three distinct dimensions. They begin by reviewing the administration's intent and the policy's potential to create a viable, legal accommodation between church and state on matters of social justice. Next, the authors look at the constitutional hazards and havoc that such a program would likely create. Finally, they examine the politics of implementing these faith-based initiatives among those groups trying to enact and oppose such a strategic change in American public policy



Note: Anyone who wishes to become a columnist
or submit a column or a response to a column
please contact Alllie.

State of the Old Union
seen from the New Union

By Martyn Jones


This essay which I call: State of the Old Union seen from the New Union, is a personal view of the Bush Administration and the Union of the USA seen from the European Union. To give you a rapid idea of where I’m coming from, I’ll give you a clue, this essay could also have been titled: The 2004 Pretzel Review or Herr Bush & My Part In His Downfall.

It’s State of the Union (SOU) address time, and on the night of the 20th of January 2004, President George Walker Bush set out his election year road map, and went about the task emphasizing the need for unwavering leadership in the war on terrorism and proposing measures to tackle some of the other major issues that confront America. What was the aim of this particular SOU address? The answer is simple, it was the kick-off meeting for the start of the Bush Presidential “re-election” campaign, a meeting with content designed to please the core Bush supporters, to maintain the peripheral supporters and to attract the undecided. The message was clear: Vote for me, and you’ll be happy! Or else you’ll be just another sorry, un-American, terrorist-loving, tree-hugging, loser!

Ok, I’ll be frank and earnest about this, I have never what I would call had serious and widespread problems with American conservative leaders in the past, but this is different. I don’t like George Walker Bush one little bit. I don’t like what he represents, I don’t like what he does, I don’t like what he says and I certainly don’t like the way he took the positive inheritance of the Clinton Administration and turned almost everything to crap. I don’t like his disdain for the civil society and his dismissal of reasoned morality, I don’t like his fawning adoration of corporate welfare, I don’t like his brand of compassionate conservatism – which is no more than stitch up the poor, the defenseless and the needy, and over-feed the rich. I don’t like his situational-ethics, his fundamentalism and his hypocrisy. I don’t like his apparent heartlessness, callousness and thoughtlessness. I don’t even like the people he chooses to work with: the ruthless, the warmongers, the authoritarian, the emotionally repressed and the down right perverse. I don’t like how he comes across -his aesthetics – a style closer to Nazi Berlin or Nuremberg than 21st century New York, Atlanta or San Jose. I don’t like his disdain for old friends and allies – how to win enemies and generally piss people off - nor his crude mistreatment and roughshod attitude with international institutions and treaties, such as: the United Nations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent and the Geneva Convention.

I don’t care that he can’t manage to watch a ball game, eat a pretzel and drink a cold Coors at the same time without falling off the sofa. I don’t care that he talks like he’s been programmed by a teenage hacker on dope, I don’t care that much that he smirks every time he talks about killing people and I don’t even care that he comes across as a jerk.

The Bush Administrations inclusive, expansive and evasive lust to bring democracy to the oppressed and downtrodden smells of rotten fish, and the rhetoric is full of damn lies. Don’t they know that from the outside their thinly disguised blood lust and war-mongering fools very few people? The Bush doctrine is the PNAC doctrine; the PNAC doctrine is one that clearly promotes US hegemony to the detriment of almost everyone else. The maintenance of the US position of being the biggest dog on the block It’s thinly disguised intimidation along the lines of: do what we want and like it; if you don’t like it you can shut up, and if you don’t shut-up we’ll lock you up, or maybe even kill you. On top of all that, it sucks the big one that Bush, the front man of the new imperialist war party has the gall to deny delusions of empire. Is that being in denial or is that being a Liar?

No one is safe, no one is safe from the threats of the Bush Administration, and I don’t just mean Iraq or Iran or Syria or Cuba, or even the Wellstone’s of the world – which just says more than enough, but they have even tried to strong-arm the French and the Germans back into cowering submissiveness – luckily for them, both Russia and China are, simply stated, just too well armed and too inscrutably big to push around in this way.

But, having said that darn it, this Years State of the Union address just made me mad! Mad enough to dislike the guy even more so: for what he is, all that he represents and even for the horse that he rode in on.

As Howard Dean, one of the front-runners for the Democratic Presidential nomination, bluntly put it: "The State of the Union may look rosy from the White House balcony or the suites of George Bush's wealthiest donors," and followed up with: "But hardworking Americans will see through this president's effort to wrap his radical agenda with a compassionate ribbon." I don’t know how this is viewed in the US, but seen from here this almost sounds like a compliment, considering the reality of the Bush Administration.

The Low-down on The Low and Down

Here are some of the points and initiatives outlined in Bush's State of the Union address, with a few comments:


The President defended the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, and claimed progress toward quelling the violent insurgency, with 45 of the former regime's top 55 officials captured or killed. He didn’t directly address the cost of the Iraq adventure: Over 500 American soldiers have died so far, and about 11,000 wounded or maimed. Some 10,000 Iraqis have been killed and tens of thousands more wounded. The cost so far in dollars might be in excess of $150B.

Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio said tax cuts and the Iraq war had weakened the middle class. The Bush Administration, said Kucinich, "has spent $155 billion for an unnecessary war driven by fear.”

The President reiterated the commitment to full sovereignty for Iraqis by the end of June; seemingly at odds it with US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s earlier statement that the return of sovereignty to Iraqis will take some time and a hasty process could result in a "failed state".

Again, not one single darn word from the President about why the Administration lied to get the US into a war of aggression in Iraq, and not a darn word about why the Administration lied about having no exit plan to get the US out of Iraq. Nothing about why he and his mate Tony Blair had a meeting and acted like the whole world met. “Two guys in a phone booth calling a world summit. And they come out with a world manifesto: We go into Iraq, and we tell the American people they have weapons of mass destruction”[1]. As James Carville put it: “Paul Wolfowitz and his chicken-hawk buddies acted all along as if we’d topple Saddam and the Iraqi people would immediately go build a stock market.”

In response to the President, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California censured Bush's "go-it-alone foreign policy that leaves us isolated abroad and that steals the resources we need for education and health care here at home."

And what do get from “in denial” Bush fans? Whiney, whinging and wanton blubber of: “Well Clinton did it too”. I tell you, if the DNC said that 50 + 50 = 104 and the GOP said that 50 + 50 = 104,000, the very same Bush fans would probably whine: "well, both of them are stretching it a little bit".

War On Terrorism

“Hey honey, this Iraqi guy talks funny, just like Dubya!”

If one wasn’t paying too much attention one could be forgiven for thinking that, instead of listening to the SOU address, that one had mistakenly tuned-in to the State of Iraq and War On Terrorism address.

During the SOU address the President said: “America is on the offensive against the terrorists who started this war”. So exactly which terrorists was he referring to? And what war sanctioned by congress did he mean?

Bush noted there has not been an attack on U.S. soil in the last 28 months. He somehow overlooked the deaths suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He went on to exact, in no uncertain terms, that Congress renews the USA Patriot Act. He stated: “key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year”, which was met with polite but muted applause, and continued: “the terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule” which got the GOP politicians back on their feet applauding and cheering enthusiastically. Which begs the question, what on earth were they doing applauding and cheering at that juncture? It seemed, at least to me, as though they were cheering for the continuation of the terrorist threat.

Bush argued that America is now safer because the U.S. led invasions overthrew regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The facts are that the rebuilding of Afghanistan has been screwed up and Iraq is in a quagmire, so is America really safer now? Democratic candidate Howard Dean doesn’t seem to think so, and had the courage to say so, even when it came to the capture of Saddam: "the capture of Saddam has not made America safer," he was quoted as saying. Directly contradicting President Bush and drawing the wrath of two Democratic presidential rivals - as if the opinions of two displaced Republicans in the DNC really mattered

On the day following President Bush’s State of the Union address independent analysts at the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davros said that far from making the US safer place, the war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq had in fact served to intensify the dangers. Jessica Stern, lecturer in public policy at Harvard University said: "No, we are not safer". "Going into Iraq in the way we did, without broad international support, really increased the ability of Al Qaeda and its sympathizers to 'prove' that the objective of the United States is to humiliate the Islamic world, more than it was to liberate the Iraqi people," was how former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans characterized the invasion of Iraq. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said actions such as the detention without trial of more than 600 "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, had surrendered the moral high ground and provided an additional raison d'être for militants.

President Bush went on to state: “and the boys and girls of Afghanistan are back in school”. Now I don’t want to sound overly cynical, but I suppose this did not include the 4 children killed in U.S. air raid on a village in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan (19th January 2004). Not the first children to fall victim of coalition attacks and disgracefully not the last.

More tellingly the President said: “The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world”. That’s curious, what did Bush mean exactly by: America AND the civilized world?

If pigs could fly, would Ashcroft have a seizure?

Saint George and the Dragons

In his plan to spread democracy love around, he Congress to double the budget for the National Endowment for Democracy, itself set up by Congress to provide grants to pro-democracy groups across the world. The additional $40 million would be targeted to programs in the Middle East.

In the SOU address, the President said: “As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny, despair and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends.”

Now Bush isn’t the greatest of communicators but I’m sure he could write at least one bestseller, something along the lines of: “How to piss-off friends and irritate people”. I’m sure there are quite a few people throughout the middle east who would find this comment offensive: Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan etc. just to name a few. From an external perspective this is yet another indication that this US administration is the most arrogant, most conceited and most ignorant administration in terms of foreign policy - of all times.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

“Because of American leadership and resolve the world is changing for the better. Last month the leader of Libya, voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regimes weapons of mass destruction programs. Including a uranium enrichment program for nuclear programs”. The President said it was the result of 9 months of intensive negotiations between the USA, the UK and Libya. Hokey! Ghadaffi had renounced terrorism well over a decade ago, and was no friend of Muslim fundamentalist groups such as the Islamic Martyrs Movement, whom on the 1st June 1998 attempted to assassinate him. If anything, Ghadaffi’s willingness to renounce WMDs had more to do with the efforts of the Clinton and Blair administrations in the mid 90’s than anything that Bush can claim credit for.

Following on from that, he encouraged other nations, especially North Korea and Iran, to follow suit. Well George, just take a lead from your predecessor! Who managed to contain things without putting the whole of the US on Orange Alert, and who managed to avoid causing a minor crisis every time he opened his mouth to talk about Foreign Policy.

Unsurprisingly President Bush talked a lot about Weapons of Mass Destruction and Iraq, but he didn’t mention a word about the 500 tons of Sarin gas that he claimed - in 2003’s SOU address - that Iraq possessed. In addition, no mention was made of other former Bush Administration claims about other WMDs in Iraq, such as: over 25 thousand liters of Anthrax and over 38 thousand liters of Botulinum.

The President went on to say: “We are seeking all the facts — already the Kay report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations”, again, in the absence of facts or truth, he was being somewhat economical with the use of innuendo.

Social Security

The President urged Congress to overhaul Social Security to allow workers to invest some of their payroll taxes in private retirement accounts, he said: “We should make the Social Security system a source of ownership for the American people.“

Just what the hell he meant by that is anyone’s guess. But as always, following the money trail will give an indication of who really benefits from such policies.

People buy goods and services from both the private and public sectors. In the private sector, they vote with their dollars; in the public sector, they vote with their ballots. Both sectors have different advantages over each other; the public sector is better at handling natural monopolies (where circumstances prevent competitors on a free market), because voters can control prices through their ballots. Nations that have tried to privatize their natural monopolies have failed disastrously. – Steve Kangas

Health Care

Well darn! The President just realized that Health Care costs are rapidly rising. I guess it takes a genius of the caliber of Dubya to have spotted that one so early. Well, on Health care, The President proposed:

That people who buy catastrophic health care coverage as part of new health savings accounts be allowed to deduct 100 percent of the premiums from their taxes. The new tax-free savings accounts were part of the Medicare prescription drug bill signed into law last month.

That Congress set up refundable tax credits of up to $1,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families to help low-income workers buy health insurance.

Allowing small businesses to band together and negotiate lower insurance rates so they can cover workers.

So, is the Presidents deal on Health Care mean of generous? Seems to me it’s pretty mean when it comes to the less fortunate and pretty generous when it comes to the drug companies in particular and the private sector in general. Catastrophic health care coverage is so third world it’s an appalling admission of lack of compassion. Allowing small businesses to form co-ops is just a policy stolen from the Democrats – indeed, why do businesses need to be allowed to form beneficial co-ops of any sort anyway?

As Retired Gen. Wesley Clark said, Bush's assurances were "just smoke and mirrors" to conceal that he "has helped those who have most, hurt those who have least, and ignored everyone in between."

Just answer me this, if you don’t make enough money to even see you through to the end of the month and you can’t afford health-care payments, what difference does a tax-break on health-care payments make?

Again, the President shows his true colors when he affirmed: “A government-run health care system is the wrong prescription”. Sheesh! He’s a bigger love-slave to reactionary dogma than the Pope, Stalin and Silent Bob rolled into one.

Drugs and Sex and .. No Rap?

In the SOU address the President proposed an additional $23 million for schools that want to use drug testing to expand early intervention programs. In whose pockets will this money eventually end up? Would we be surprised if most of it goes to the private sector? or to Bush and Cheney’s buddies in the “religious” right? If you’re surprised at the suggestion you definitely aren’t paying attention!

In government schools, "drug-free zones” have become asylums of "zero tolerance” where students are suspended for having an aspirin. Children who might help a fellow student with a headache are accused of dealing. Is this how we teach children respect for the law? - Wes Vernon, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001

Interestingly enough, six of the original 2004 DNC Presidential candidates support the repeal of the 1998 Drug Provision of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Joseph Lieberman, Carol Moseley Braun, Richard Gephardt, and Dennis Kucinich came out in support of repeal after listening to concerns from members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. John Kerry supports a partial repeal of the drug provision and John Edwards declined to take a position.

He “reached out” to major sports leagues and athletes and encouraged them to end the use of performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids, and to push for more stringent drug policies. But was this any more than a gesture, more empty rhetoric dressed up as substance to promote a “compassionate conservative” agenda?

Mr. Bush announced new ways to educate teens and parents about the health risks associated with early sexual activity, including a public education campaign to help parents talk to their children and doubling to $270 million the funding for abstinence education programs.

Louis Silverstein writing in The Columbia Chronicle stated: “Estimated U.S. deaths in the year 2001 attributed to tobacco: 400,000; alcohol: 110,000; prescription drugs: 100,000; aspirin and related painkillers: 7600; marijuana: zero. Yet, the insanity and injustice of the war against drugs goes on.”


George Bush repeated his long-held belief that marriage should be only between a man and a woman, and expressed support for a constitutional amendment, if necessary, to ban same-sex marriages. George is pandering to his core supporters amongst the right-wing Christian fundamentalists and protecting his butt when it comes to losing right-wing votes. Nearly three people in four in the U.S. oppose gay marriage, almost the same proportion as are otherwise supportive of gay rights. This means that many of the same people who are even passionately in favor of gay rights oppose gays on this one issue.

Contrast this with the view of Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in the decision overturning Colorado's Amendment 2 referendum: "We cannot accept the view that Amendment 2's prohibition on specific legal protections does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability on those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint"

Bush gets a lot of ideas and support in this area from Rick Santorum, the Republican senator from PA. Rick Santorum won fame by equating homosexuality with bestiality and child molestation. As Carville put it: “Rick Santorum is much more than a world-class homophobe, he’s a world-class hypocrite” – enough said I think.

It’s The Economy Again Stupid

Now it may come as some surprise to Republicans, but the jobs issue is very much a part of the issues of the economy. Bush briefly addressed the issue of unemployment, but didn’t give any answers, which is surprising really, as he should know more about employment more than any other President in recent times, after all, in the last 3 years of the Bush Administration more than 3 million jobs in the US have been destroyed – not lost, as some people like to say, nobody says “I put a job down here a minute a go, and now I can’t find it”. The jobs weren’t misplaced! They weren’t lost! They were destroyed! On Bush’s watch!

One more time Bush defended the neo-liberal interpretation of the notions of free trade and cited job losses as simply the result of rising productivity. His solution to job losses seemed to be at best a suggestion of under-funded training initiatives. As one comic said, there will probably be just enough funds in the Bush education budget to train 3 million people to ask, “you want fries with that?”

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said the President "still doesn't understand what's happening in living rooms across this country." He suggested Bush "talked about how he wants to help people find jobs, but for three years he stood by while we lost more jobs than at any time since the Great Depression."

In the State of the Union address the President recommended that Congress make tax cuts permanent. On the face of it, cutting taxes and increasing spending seems perfectly reasonable, and under circumstances it can work. The Republicans will point out that even Kennedy took this approach. However, there is one big difference: the amount of deficit. When Kennedy made his tax cuts the USA had today’s equivalent of a $36.5 billion deficit, compared to today’s actual deficit of $500 billion plus. In addition, the number of people in retirement was far less then the number of people employed.

Indeed, there is no historical verification that tax cuts stimulate economic growth. The peak period of growth in U.S. history (1933-1973) also witnessed its highest rate of taxes on the most wealthy: 70 to 91 percent. During this period, the general tax rate rose too, but it reached its plateau in 1969.

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota stated: "Instead of borrowing even more money to give more tax breaks to companies so that they can export even more jobs, we propose tax cuts and policies that will strengthen our manufacturing sector and create good jobs at good wages here at home."

So Bush is screwing the economy by his insistence on sticking to outdated, inadequate and inappropriate ideology – oh boy! It’s that warm, wet and fuzzy, trickle down your leg, faith-based deja-voodoo economics, all over again.

Edukeshun 4 da Neshun

Bush’s brief SOU sojourns into the area of education were tad less than coherent. He said: “By passing the No Child Left Behind Act, you have made the expectation of literacy the law of our country”. But it was rhetoric removed from reality, and it served to highlight a major credibility gap that exists between Bush fantasyland and actuality. Illustrative of this lack of credibility is the No Child Left Behind Act that Bush got congress to pass - in all the excitement and hullabaloo it was under-funded to the tune of $17B.

Here are some of the initiatives mentioned in the SOU:

  • Fund partnerships between community colleges and employers in high-demand sectors.
  • Help students with reading and improve math education.
  • Expand advanced-placement programs in low-income schools
  • Urge professionals with math and science experience to become part-time high school teachers.
  • Proposed larger Pell Grants for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high school.

One can almost sense the cold dead hand of neo-liberal largesse in these cheap and cheerful faith based gestures. How much will be provided for these initiatives? Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s enough, not by a long shot. Maybe Education can be bought on the cheap in the US. With so many high-tech jobs being destroyed in the US where exactly does Mr. Bush expect these highly trained people to work? In China?

In my humble opinion, the bottom line for Americans should be to go and speak to that wise guy in no uncertain terms: Mr. President, Educational reform without thought and without funding is just plain codswallop – anything else, and you’re all hat and no cattle. If you don’t get a coherent answer you like then kick his butt out of office.

Faith Based Initiatives

Congress declined to enact his proposals for nearly two years, mainly because federal dollars would be going to groups practicing religious discrimination in hiring. However, now that the GOP hold all three major institutions of political power in the Republic the President will get what the President wants.

In terms of Faith Based Initiatives The President said he would:

  • Renew his push for legislation to give religious groups more access to federal funds for social services, as long as their services are available to anyone but without requiring them to make fundamental changes.
  • Proposed a new four-year, $300 million prisoner re-entry initiative to expand job training and placement services to provide transitional housing and help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups, to prevent recidivism.

What’s wrong with Faith Based Initiatives? James Dunn at Wake Forest University, North Carolina gave one angle. “In Washington D.C. the local government has given money to religious groups for years to run various programs. Watching this for over 20 years, I have noticed that the churches receiving funds from... government become mysteriously silent when the government or the mayor does something that is clearly wrong. Why do they go silent? They are worried that they will lose funding.”

Americans would have to make at least 10 times the donations they currently give to charity to fully replace government social spending. And there is no reason to believe that people who so bitterly hate paying taxes would gladly surrender an equal amount to charity. Arguments that charities can do the job better than government are naïve - most charities are small, highly localized and ill suited to responding to national disasters or shifting economic trends. About 90 percent of charity funds are both collected and spent locally, which means that rich communities tend to have well-funded charities, and poor communities tend to have poorly funded ones. For this reason, only 10 percent of all charitable donations are directed to the poor. Re-allocating charity donations to the communities that need them most will incur intense political opposition from the communities that fund them. – Steve Kangas

However, probably the biggest problem with Faith Based private initiatives in terms of democracy and the civil society is the blurring of the boundary between church (religion) and state.

You tell someone you're a Metatron, they stare at you blankly. You mention something out of a Charlton Heston movie and suddenly everyone is a theology scholar! – Dogma, the movie


If this State of the Union address didn’t wake you up to the madness that is the Bush Administration then you are either very wealthy, you really don’t care or you are just not paying attention. GOP politicians are trying to spin this Presidency as a success, well another first for both Bush, and me: first time I ever heard that success makes a sucking sound.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of key issues notable by their absence from the SOU address:

  • The President overlooked the faltering Middle East peace process; he made no mention of the much-vaunted roadmap or of any other initiative to end the conflict.
  • He didn’t clearly mention anything related to Civil Rights.
  • He didn’t mention the contribution that France and Germany have made on the ground in Afghanistan.
  • He didn’t mention the environment or environmental concerns
  • He didn’t appear to mention the Information Technology sector in any serious way.
  • He didn’t address the pending 9/11 investigation
  • He didn’t mention the hunt for one of the key the people behind 9/11, i.e. Osama Bin Laden
  • He provided a lot of program and policy items, but no vision, and no clear definitions of any overall strategies.
  • Etc. etc. etc.

Either by accident, obnoxiousness or purposeful omission, many of the key issues of concern for many people were absent from the President’s address. Indeed, although much of Mr. Bush's State of the Union rhetoric was pitched at the middle class and to working families, his policy agenda still fails miserably to match his words. I would strongly suggest that the American people, too many of whom are inclined to give Mr. Bush the benefit of the doubt, start to get the reality check thing into gear. Pause for one moment to consider what is happening! Stop paying so much attention to the propaganda! Disconnect from Fox News and CNN! Start in earnest to look beyond Mr. Bush’s words and gestures! Take a much closer and much more critical look at his policies – and you will find that the policies and the rhetoric really don’t match up.

I’ll end with just a couple of quotes:

"A nation that maintains a 72% approval rating on George W. Bush is a nation with a very loose grip on reality." - Garrison Keiller

"Clinton's advisors met nearly weekly on how to stop bin Laden ... I didn't detect that kind of focus from the Bush Administration." - Two Star General Donald Kerrick

"You know, back in 2000 a Republican friend of mine warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be overstretched. You know what: I did vote for Al Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true." – James Carville

At the end of the day, George Walker Bush didn’t challenge Saddam Hussein to a fistfight and win. He didn’t go to the University of the Universe, and he didn’t get a first. He didn’t run the New York marathon in 5 minutes, nor did he chase the evil Lex Luther in a Star-fighter and he certainly didn’t win the popular vote in 2000. To top it all off, Bush wants to go to Mars. What can you say after that? This guy is clearly from another planet and is just plain homesick?

Lastly, let us hope, that if there is a God, and she is a benevolent God, that she blesses America. But either way, come December 2004, Bush and all his keystone cop cronies should be out on their collective asses. Amen!

© Copyright 2004 Martyn Richard Jones
All Rights Reserved


ItsMarty’s Celtic-Spanish Garlic Soup
Amount Ingredient Preparation Method
18 cloves Garlic Sliced fresh garlic – preferably purple
150-200 Grams Serrano ham Cut into small bits – quarter size of a finger nail
8 cups Water  

500 Grams
Bread Dry real bread cut into walnut sized bits
1 1/2 teaspoons Paprika  
1/2 coffee cup (more if you like) Olive oil
Preferably virgin oil from Andalusia
2 per-person Eggs Free-range
  Salt and pepper and Louisiana chilli sauce -- to taste  

Peel the cloves of garlic and cut them into largish slices – don’t dice them.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. When oil is hot add garlic, fry briefly 30 seconds, then add the bread bits and the ham and fry until the bread is lightly browned. Then add water, salt, pepper, paprika and chilli sauce and bring to the boil quickly. Simmer covered for 10-15 minutes until bread looks like it is beginning to dissolve.

Crack two eggs into the soup – don’t stir it - allow the eggs to poach until they are set (about 4 minutes), or cooked as much as you like them. Stir slightly and serve hot in big soup bowls.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------[1] Revd. Al Sharpton

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State of the Old Union seen from the New Union (Febuary 2, 2004)

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Election 2000-Highway Robbery and a Supreme Court Disgrace-

Part 1 (May 23, 2003)
Part 2
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Part 3 (June 12, 2003)
Part 4 (July 8, 2003)


Bush Is Packing The Federal Courts: What Can I Do? (June 28, 2003)


The Rantings of an Angry, Fed Up Conservative


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The Myth of Free Trade (Febuary 3, 2004)

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