This archived article was written by: Les Bowen
I was hoping to let the political stabs at President Bush end last week. Rather, I’ll continue to make stabs at Bush, partly because he’s an easy target, but mostly because we as journalists have to take potshots at a man who says, “There should be limits to freedom.”
He called Kerry a flip-flopper, but our president, the man who says, “Freedom is on the march,” also said in 1999 that there should be limits to that freedom. Bush was specifically talking about some negative remarks posted on an anti-Bush website. We have in our nation’s White House a man who openly downplays the importance of the First Amendment.
If there is one thing that Americans cherish, it is the freedoms provided in the First Amendment. It is that freedom of expression that allows differing viewpoints on the same page of a newspaper. It is that freedom of expression that allows us the right to practice or not practice any religion we choose. It is a freedom that Americans hold dear.
Bush has no place to denounce that freedom. To do so shows contempt for the principles upon which this country was founded, and such a man should never be in public office.
Speaking of freedom, Bush urges his cronies that will continue to control Capitol Hill to renew the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was good in its time; it helped this country deal with a serious problem in a time of crisis, but its time has gone.
The provisions in the Patriot Act that can continue to help this country can be drafted into new legislation, which all of America, not just 54 million, will wholeheartedly support.
Of course we journalists will never have any influence on Bush, because he proudly claims he doesn’t read the newspaper. That’s sad. But it explains something for me. It explains why Bush has no idea what is really happening in Iraq. He calls the deaths of over 1,000 U.S. troops, hundreds of others from nations around the world and thousands, if not millions, of innocent Iraqi civilians a success.
He didn’t care when the department of defense tried to squash the release of photos of the hundreds of coffins coming home from Iraq with soldiers inside.
This is a president who ignores the expiration of the ban on assault rifles in the U.S., and meanwhile in Iraq confiscates AK-47s, machine guns and RPGs. Non-compliance results in arrest.
So it’s just fine for the guy down the street to have an assault rifle, but it’s not fine for Iraqis, while Americans live in the country with the highest rate of gun deaths.
This is a president who will never admit he was wrong. There are no weapons of mass destruction. Yes, there were plans, but there are plans for WMDs in Iran, and a laundry list of rogue nations with the capability to build nuclear weapons, yet the Bush administration has no interest in preemptively attacking nations such as North Korea or Iran. Instead, we stop talks with North Korea – talks that could lead to a peaceful resolution of a conflict over 40 years old.
There was no legitimate tie between Iraq and Al Qaeda. But there is a link between bin Laden and many other Arab states. But we don’t attack Saudi Arabia; we need their oil.
We weren’t getting any oil from Iraq. Instead, Saddam Hussein had barely contracted to trade with Russia and France when we attacked. It’s convenient that we attack a country just so we can have their oil and do it under the guise of a “Global War On Terror.”
The same war on terror has let bin Laden go free. Just two weeks ago, bin Laden was able to release a video – audio was not good enough. Seems bin Laden is confident enough that he can release a video. We have let him go free while we chased phantom nerve gas in Iraq.
After the third straight year of war, our armed forces are worn ragged and fatigued. Our brave troops have built schools for Iraqi children, yet Bush refuses to fund his No Child Left Behind Act, an act that is costing states millions of dollars.
Instead of funding highways, transit and other programs, states are squeezing every penny they can out of their budgets to keep up with federal regulations. Instead of channeling funding to programs that have been molded and individualized to the needs of the students in each district, funding is going to compliance with national requirements.
The point is this: Bush is the wrong man for any job at any time. He failed to keep his own businesses afloat. His only successful business venture occurred when he merged his own company with another that could administer it better than he.
Next time the terror alert elevates to orange or next time you run into a college freshman who can barely read, think about this: All it would have taken is one state. One lousy state is all it would have taken to get Bush out of office.
Unless they voted for someone other than Bush, Utahans have no right to complain about the condition of our schools, the condition of our highways, the high price of oil, the job market or the amount of financial aid we receive. It will be our own fault if a draft has to be instituted just to keep up with an international crisis. It will be our own fault when freshmen enter college with lower reading skills than our international counterparts. It will be our own fault next time an innocent bystander is gunned down by an assault rifle in our own streets.
I take my voting rights seriously. That’s not why I voted for Kerry, but it is why I voted against Bush.