Tuesday, March 30, 2004

"A Political Disaster Awaiting Recognition" 

Dear President Bush,

At various times over the past couple years, I have described your Presidency as "Nixonian, but probably worse." Some of the people I've said that to thought i was using hyperbole, but no less of an expert than John Dean agrees with me. I can't wait to read Worse Than Watergate, and I assume the same goes for you, although probably for different reasons, so I thought I'd point out his Salon interview. It's too awesome to selectively quote from, so bear down and read the whole thing.

How do you feel about being a more horribly anti-American values than Nixon? I'm looking forward to your many misdeeds being exposed to the public, but in which area do you think you're most susceptible to going down in political flames? I was thinking of starting a pool, and you can be in on it if you want. It might be an instructive way to test your perception of the real world. I'm not sure what I want to bet on, but I'm leaning towards the Republican National Convention blowing up in your face when you try to exploit September 11. A lot is going to happen between then and now, but I think the 9-11 Commission findings are going to make you seriously regret choosing to go to New York. I'm thinking calls for investigations into the run-up to the Iraq war, victims' families giving interviews to every morning show, not to mention what the body count from your war will be by then. And as an added bonus, there's the very special place emergency service providers' unions have for you in their hearts. Do you think I'm on to something with this?

Like Dean, I think everything you have done is just awaiting recognition. It's just a question of what will reach critical mass first.

Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels When You Sell Your Soul 

Dear President Bush,

I've been thinking a lot about religion lately. I was raised Catholic, but I won't be attending Mass again until the Vatican figures out that misogyny and homophobia should be fought against rather than enshrined. Anyway, I don't know if it's the Catholic, the secularist, or the feminist in me that makes me so nervous about your kind of Christianity, but if this is the kind of future you are building towards, it is clear to me that it is a moral imperative from all three perspectives to destroy you politically.

I've always thought of your faith, particularly the whole God-is-on-my-side thing, as sort of an extremely expensive and toned down for public consumption version of a Chick tract. Since you have been incredibly explicit about it throughout your political career, I was shocked when I heard that your campaign people went ballistic over Kerry quoting the Bible. I knew it wasn't possible for you to suddenly be all for a bright line between church and state because your record clearly shows otherwise and your friends are obviously less discreet than you about their feelings on religion's place in society. Perhaps it was a sign of the apocalypse?

I checked for seven-headed dragons rising over Lake Michigan, but I didn't see anything. Then I saw the quote Kerry chose to use, James 2:14: "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?" Suddenly it all made sense. The Protestants like you who I've known have never been keen on social welfare and prefer to ignore those passages, but I think it's more than that for you and your staffers. The Right has done an impressive job of building up religion's role in politics while simultaneously bypassing all of those uncomfortably socialist parts. If Democrats reverse those trends, everything you've worked for is over. Screw the part about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, you care about now. I mean, you might fear hell, but I seriously doubt it based on your reckless and shameless administration.

I like what Kerry said, and I believe he's right about you. You're a Chick Tract, and I hope that the Democrats are smart enough to remind people of that at every turn. To adopt a slogan from your friends at the National Evangelical Association, what can millions of anti-dominionist people who enjoy religious pluralism do? Anything we want. I think that will happen, hopefully soon; if you were a halfway decent person, you would feel the same way.

Now Testify! 

Dear President Bush,

So Dr. Rice wil finally testify publicly before the 9-11 Commission. That certainly took you long enough. Since Dr. Rice seems to have had some small problems with telling the truth, I thought we should review the definition of perjury:
Main Entry: per·ju·ry
Pronunciation: 'p&r-j&-rE, 'p&rj-rE
Function: noun
: the voluntary violation of an oath or vow either by swearing to what is untrue or by omission to do what has been promised under oath : false swearing
I suspect that Dr. Rice and your other friends have been somewhat overzealous in their rush to defend you at the expense of what is true, so you're going to have be very careful that she is mindful of the fact that knowingly telling the Commission anything false is a crime.

Moving on to you talking to the panel, all these limitations on their audience with you makes me think you're hiding something. You have spent more time on vacation than any other President, you and the Vice President have spent an obscene amount of time fundraising, and apparently you think that governing in just another 9 to 5 job, so it sounds as if you have more free time on your hands than I do. Why do you and the Vice President have to have a joint session in private? There are enough hours in the day to allow you to speak separately. And if you aren't worried about how your testimony will play before the American public, why not take advantage of millions of dollars worth of free media by going ahead and testifying publicly? I would totally skip class to watch that.

The truth will set you free, Mr. President, ideally by way of impeachment hearings. If you think I'm wrong, then prove it to me in public.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Things That Are Bad 

Dear President Bush,

Remember the letter I sent you about sexual assault and relationship violence in the military? Well, this doesn't make me feel much better. This cadet was accused of raping another cadet, but was allowed to stay at the academy until he was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman in a wheelchair and has since been accused of raping a different cadet. He also apparently threatened to crash a glider into a classroom and recently violated his probation by attempting to solicit sex from a 14 year old on the internet. Luckily the "child" was actually an undercover police officer, but who knows if he hasn't done that before.

This young man doesn't exactly sound like an officer or a gentleman, Mr. President. It is extremely disturbing to me that he may have sexually abused three women when at least two, maybe all three could have been prevented had the academy been more serious about this issue. You say that you love the military, but sometimes it seems like you only mean the men. There is no excuse for this, so when will you do something about it?

Which Side Are You On? 

Dear President Bush,

I'm sure that you'll be happy to find out that I just got a job offer. Your Presidency has created quite the market for people like me who want jobs working to get you out of office. You've been absolutely inspirational in that regard. Since it's currently a growth industry, maybe you can figure out how to count us as manufacturers in some way. We could be manufacturers of dissent.

But I digress. I'm also really excited about this offer because it includes full health benefits, probably because I'll be working for Democrats. It made me think about how much a problem healthcare is in this country. I was reading this article and these are the people you need to be working for, not the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. This man has worked for Safeway for 34 years and his livelihood is being severely hurt by businesses like Walmart. It costs his employers $17,000 a year to cover someone with his seniority, which is a serious expense that any other decent government would be helping business owners by covering. Forget tax cuts, we need universal healthcare. This man has a family, he loves his job, so why not help him and others like him?

I know that you have been having problems with WMD's, so I was thinking that you could work on the proliferation of Walmarts of Mass Destruction. This kind of WMD really exists and presents a far more serious threat to Americans than Saddam Hussein did. Give it some thought, since it would be a way more successful endeavor.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Not Funny Ha-Ha 

Dear President Bush,

Remember how you used to talk about bringing dignity to the White House? This is not it. I may just be a kid from New Jersey, but my parents were pretty clear on how to conduct yourself in public and joking around about a snipe hunt for WMD's that to date has killed 591 Americans and wounded thousands more is probably something that I would avoid if I were the one responsible. Perhaps things are done differently in Texas. Let me know if that is the case.

In any case, I question your abilities as Commander in Chief if it is not possible for you to appreciate the gravity of the position. It wasn't just a one-liner; you did an entire presentation. You took time out of your day to have pictures taken of you looking in cabinets, but you only have an hour for the 9-11 Commission? You might want to rethink your priorities.

The Show That Never Ends 

Dear President Bush,

I spent the last week in downstate Illinois/St. Louis this week visiting a friend, and I have to tell you, I had an awesome time. I got to watch the 9-11 hearings live and in full, and you have serious problems. When are you going to tell Dr. Rice to testify? If you don't do it, you look guilty (and I suspect you are), but if you do, it looks like you caved to people like me. It won't be that bad, I promise. I might even respect you a little for it. So go on and cave. It'll be an enormous weight off your shoulders.

Just to give you an idea of how things seem to be from the outside, Richard Clarke doesn't seem to be afraid of you. He's calling for his testimony and related documents to be declassified. That is what you wanted, right? I look forward to reading all that, so I assume that you will make it your top priority to make as much information public as quickly as possible.

I think the best part of the trip though was being in a market where you air your ads. I've always lived in such solidly blue areas that I'd never seen a presidential campaign ad in its natural setting. I'd seen your ads online, but the reactions of the people I was with were what made them great. My friend's boyfriend is a Navy veteran, and what he had to say about you was really beyond what would be fit for polite discussion. We also visited my friend's parents, solidly middle class, middle aged dog lovers on the Missouri side, just the kind of people you are looking to influence with all that money of yours. They hate you with the white hot fire of a thousand suns. It made me feel good to be in a swing state and meet people who would crawl over broken glass to vote for anyone other than you. How do you feel about that?

I don't think I'll be taking any more breaks between now and the election, so look forward to my letters. I'm really excited about the next 7 months, and I think that we will learn a lot more about why you aren't fit to be President.

Monday, March 22, 2004

I Hear the Train A'Comin' 

I'm headed off to fabulous southern Illinois for the rest of the week. I have no idea if or how often I'll be able to update this while I'm there, but that will make what I can post that much more exciting for the four of you reading this, right?

Validate my existence by telling me how much you'll miss me while I'm gone.

This Epic Problem's Not a Problem For Me 

Dear President Bush,

I forgot to point out my favorite Richard Clarke quote to you earlier:
I have no idea, to this day, if the president saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer.
That is absolutely insane. It's no wonder that you've gotten us into so much trouble.


Via Atrios.

Dear President Bush,

I want you to explain to me, using small words and charts, exactly what your intentions were with this. From where I'm standing, it looks like you've got no clothes, but let's see what kind of excuse you can come with.

Then, you can explain why the FBI's emergency request for counterterrorism funding after September 11th was cut to a mere fraction of what they asked for. Gun violence and drugs were more important? Has the lead in the water down there gotten to you?

Finally, you can explain why it's okay for Condaleeza Rice to refuse to testify under oath. She's "insisting that presidential advisers need not answer to legislative bodies." Excuse me? I can think of some presidential advisers who ended up in front of Congress for far less egregious offenses. In our government, answering to Congress is the medium through which government officials answer to the American people. Maybe you could spend some of your campaign funds on buying her a civics textbook.

Everyday I wake up thinking that you couldn't possibly have done anything worse, only to find out that you have. Try to make tomorrow a little bit better, Mr. President. That's the job you're supposed to be doing.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Hopeless Romantic 

Dear President Bush,

i was thinking about the letter I wrote to you earlier today asking you to give the names of the gay friends you supposedly have when I read this. It affirms my belief that you must not know any LGBT people, because I don't understand how you could look any of these people in the eye and tell them that their relationships are worth less than yours or mine.

As these newly energized people found out, a marriage license is worth more than just the paper it's printed on.
"Before all this, I probably would have entered into a civil union — in fact, I did enter into a domestic partnership, because it was available and better than nothing," said James Krause, 53, a retiree who lives near New Paltz, N.Y. Krause and his partner of 15 years, Brendan Daly, 54, married during that town's brief flurry of same-sex weddings.

"But 'available'? 'Better than nothing'? How can you ask someone to settle for that?" Krause asked. "That's like telling Rosa Parks, 'Well, OK, you can move to the middle of the bus.' "
All these people want is the right to be married (Calling it 'gay marriage' implies that it's something different than what you or my parents have), something that you're apparently willing to pay out $1.5 billion to encourage low income people, single parents and high schoolers to do. About 10% of the population wants to write a Valentine to the nation about how great and important marriage is and you turn them down in favor of giving financial incentives to stay in bad relationships?

I don't know what scares you about this. Homosexuality isn't catching. I would have it by now if it was. And the idea that gays and lesbians are worse parents, that's just insane. I'd rather have parents who had thought it through and worked hard to get me than accidental parents who were woefully underprepared for me. More importantly, I can only hope that I will be able to have a relationship as stable as those featured in the article one day.

If you want my respect, you're going to have to start behaving a little more like Abraham Lincoln and a little less like Strom Thurmond.

Terrible Lie 

Dear President Bush,

You seem to have made the wrong man very, very angry. How in the world could you have been so stupid to ignore the top counter-terrorism expert in the country? Richard Clarke served under five presidents, and who, as Billmon put it, "exuded hardliner crediblity -- through the pores as it were." Remember when I told you that you had be careful of becoming a kind of moron? Clarke is the man who could have prevented that, but instead, you demoted him and now you're trying to slime him. At least that last part is making you sound even worse than you had to. For example:
As for the alleged pressure from Mr. Bush to find an Iraq-9/11 link, Hadley says, "We cannot find evidence that this conversation between Mr. Clarke and the president ever occurred."

When told by Stahl that 60 Minutes has two sources who tell us independently of Clarke that the encounter happened, including "an actual witness," Hadley responded, "Look, I stand on what I said."
As amusing as it is to watch your surrogates fumble around on national television, I'm not gloating; I'm just watching the evidence pile up against the odds of you being reelected with great thanks. Because you did not listen to Clarke, thousands of people died and there's no sign of the toll slowing. The next time you feel like blasting anyone on national security, you sit down and think about that. You have done nothing but hurt our country, and there is a special circle in hell reserved for you and your friends.

Invisible Man 

Via Atrios.

Dear President Bush,

The Chicago Tribune had an article about the First Lady today, and I had a question about this:
She defended her husband's call for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, while acknowledging that she and her husband have gay friends. "They ought to welcome the debate," she said of gays who saythe amendment would relegate them to second-class citizenship.
Leaving aside the horrify bigoted implications of that statement aside for a moment, who are these "gay friends"? If you are going to insist on blasting Senator Kerry for not naming some of the leaders who support him, you really need to let us all know who these mystery friends of yours are. I would never be friends with someone who considered me less than a full American citizen, so I question the existence of these people.

If they really are out there, I seriously doubt that they "welcome the debate," and it's disgusting to say that citizenship rights should be debated at all. It's condescending, bigoted, and makes me ill. It's a slightly more polite version of George Wallace or Bull Connor.

If your gay friends are really out there, then bring them on. Even Andrew Sullivan is pissed with you over this. I can't wait to see who you come up with.

That Was Then, This Is Now 

Dear President Bush,

Remember how you bragged that "We [Texas] are one of the first states that said you can sue an HMO for denying you proper coverage" back in 2000? M. Gregg Bloche does. The law that you were so proud of four years ago is now going before the Supreme Court, and your administration is pushing to have it struck down, which would entail "abandon[ing] a body of recent precedents that expose the managed-care industry in many states to negligence suits for withholding of coverage and care."

What gives, Mr. President? There's nothing "innovative" about health coverage that denies care to those who need it. I know that you could pay for any needed treatment out of pocket, but most of us need to deal with managed health care plans, which aren't exactly opposed to screwing the less well off out of treatment. I guess getting campaign donations from HMO execs is just more important to you than keeping Americans alive. That seems to be a theme with you.

Lies, Damn Lies, & the House of Representatives 

Dear President Bush,

I saw that Tom Delay said something a little bit strange to the New York Times, and I wanted to know what you thought about it. If you didn't know, there have been some squirrelly goings-on in the House that just might be serious ethical violations, my favorite being some of your party members threatening to withhold campaign funds from Rep. Nick Smith's son's Congressional campaign.

Since you wanted to bring honor and dignity to Washington, you're probably interested in what the majority leader had to say about this:
Mr. DeLay and other Republicans dismissed the accusations and calls for ethics changes, claiming the criticism was part of an effort orchestrated by Democrats and allied interest groups.

"This is the way they play politics," Mr. DeLay said. "I think it is really unfortunate. We have to go through it, and the lawyers make a lot of money, and there is never a result except press reports."
Well, that's interesting, isn't it? I seem to remember something else that could be described that way. Hmmmm, what was it again? Oh, yeah, remember when Rep. Delay spent most of his time working on getting former President Clinton impeached? I'm of the opinion that bribery is more important than a blowjob, but that's me.

I was thinking that maybe you could remind Rep. Delay of what he said back in 1998:
But I have a responsibility to answer a question today. And that question is how will history judge our actions that we take today?

I believe that this nation sits at a crossroad. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law. Sometimes hard, sometimes unpleasant, this path relies on truth, justice and the rigorous application of the principle that no man is above the law.

Now, the other road is the path of least resistance. This is where we start making exceptions to our laws based on poll numbers and spin control. This is when we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us; when we ignore the facts in order to cover up the truth.
Call him up and remind him about this because he seems to have forgotten.


Saturday, March 20, 2004

"You Fucking Die," I Said 

Dear President Bush,

I wanted to point out today's Nicholas Kristoff column to you about the extraordinarily high rate of maternal mortality in poor countries. As he points out, "Each year, 500,000 women die, almost one per minute, in pregnancy or childbirth in the third world. Childbirth is terrifying for most of the world's people. As a local proverb here in Chad puts it: A woman who is pregnant has one foot in the grave."

He also most rightly points out that the US could be doing something about this problem, but you cut funding to the United Nations Population Fund and the Reproductive Health Response in Conflict Consortium they "supposedly cooperated with China's repressive family-planning program."

That would be one way to explain your reasoning. Another way would be to say that you ignored your own expert panel and legislation passed unanimously in the Senate and by a 3 to 1 margin in the House in favor of listening to a die-hard anti-family planning group to score a few points with your base. The UN was actually changing China's policies:
At the insistence of UNFPA, Chinese authorities have agreed to abolish family planning quotas and targets in the 32 Chinese counties in which it operates. An independent fact-finding mission in October 2001 found that found that the Fund's program in China is playing an important catalytic role in the reform of reproductive health services from an administrative approach to a client-oriented approach that promotes informed choice of contraceptive methods through information, education and counseling.
While we're on the subject, let's talk about your reinstatement of the global gag rule, even though that during the eight years it was previously in effect, there was no evidence that abortions were happening less frequently. In fact, "the policy is likely to have the opposite effect: it will reduce access to contraception, leading to more unwanted and high-risk pregnancies, more unsafe abortions, and more maternal illness, injury, and even death."

That's not partisan blustering; you have endangered the lives of millions in 29 countries, including Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland, which have have some of the highest rates of HIV in the world, where USAID no longer distributes condoms. Clinics have been closed all over the world as well.

What you're doing right now is immoral and disgusting. When you decide that having healthy, living women and children is more important than politics, be sure to let me know.

I want to Defy the Object of All Taxx Laws 

Dear President Bush,

Since you've been having so many financial problems, but refuse to budge on your tax cuts, I thought I'd point you to this. Apparently the IRS doesn't have the resources to collect back taxes on people and businesses, even if they've been convicted for not paying.

I can't imagine that the IRS is your favorite federal agency, but check this out:
According to government budget documents, the amount of money the IRS knowingly left on the table last year equaled 1.8 percent of the total individual and corporate income tax take expected for 2003. It could have fully covered NASA's 2004 budget, the government's international aid programs, or the budgets of the departments of Commerce and Interior combined.
I know that this wouldn't solve all your problems, but when the median sum not being collected is $14,000 and the largest "involves more than $50 million" it might be something worth pursuing.

Just my two cents.

Family Values 

Thanks to ned, who is both fabulous and apparently psychic as to what will push my buttons.

Dear President Bush,

As surprising as this may seem to you, I come from a county where 54% of the voters wanted you to be President. Even without Nader, you still would have won. The Republicans in Morris County, New Jersey are really fabulous people. They pretty much hate anyone from my working class, largely Latino town on sight. When I was in middle school, I got spit on at my first away softball game. I was told by many, many people both my own age and adults not to apply to the top universities in the country because people from my town just didn't go to those kind of places. Others wouldn't speak to me when they found out where I was from. I got called a Doverican (rhymes with Puerto Rican) more times than I could count. I'm white, and I cannot even begin to imagine what these lovely people would have come up with if I wasn't.

I'm feeling pretty sick right now thinking about your supporters at home because what happened in Cherokee County, Georgia could so easily have happened in Morris County. The young men responsible targeted immigrant day laborers because they thought they were unlikely to contact the police and because they were likely to be carrying cash.

"After the assaults, the youths bragged at school that they had 'robbed some Mexicans' and spent the money, about $570, at restaurants and stores," according to the assistant Chief of Police, but as yet hate crimes charges haven't been added to the indictments.

You're probably wondering what all this has to do with you. Well, it seems that the families of the darling young men who did this are pretty bound up in the local Republican party. The prosecutor recused himself because of "his acquaintance with members of [indicted youth Ben] Cagle's extended family," which happens to include founding members of the county Republican Party who "remain active in civic affairs." The judges have done likewise, and although they cited no specific reason, it just so happens that young Mr. Cagle's uncle made a $400 contribution to one's campaign.

It's nice that Ben Cagle's family is so involved. One of the stories said that they were active in "cultural affairs" as well. I wonder what kind of culture that is. Traditional costumes like white hoods? The traditional kidnapping and beating of people less well off than yourself?

Anyway, I thought I'd let you know what some of your diehard supporters (Cherokee County went 73% in your favor in 2000) were up to lately. Is this the kind of thing you mean when you talk about "family values"? I'm genuinely curious.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Ground Control to Major Tom 

Happy day, it's Friday, I'm done with exams, and people apparently read this page without (more than a little bit of) mocking. Since it is Friday, I encourage all of you to hit up the President with a letter of your own. I haven't gotten more than 4 hours of sleep at a stretch this week, my eyes are all glassy, and my brain is mushy, so think up your own topic. I am going to nap.

Why Don't You Do Right? 

Dear President Bush,

Did you have a good time at Fort Campbell? I know you're fond of costumes.

The New York Times is reporting that the troops were somewhat less enthusiastic than they were two and a half years ago when you visited them. I was afraid that you might be confused as to why that is.

Let's start here. This war is creating hundreds of veterans who will be permanently disabled. I can't imagine that it's heartening to not be sure that your "thanks" will extend beyond this election cycle.

Then there are the more immediate problems, namely the equipment shortages. The troops being deployed over the next few months will be better off in terms of body armor and armored vehicles compared to the troops returning, but they are only "moving toward a requirement of 4,100 [armored vehicles]." It's nice to have goals, but shouldn't they already have them? Shouldn't they have had them a year ago?

And it get's better because the current supplemental funding bill paying for all this expires in September, but you want to wait until after the election to ask for another one. What is that about? Democrats seem to understand that wars cost money. It seems pretty cheap for something you called "nothing less than a struggle between civilization and darkness, good and evil, life and death" to be up in the air about funding.

So, if I was a soldier, I wouldn't be too pleased. Maybe before you go out to have your picture taken with soldiers again, you should take care of these things.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Suspect Device 

Dear President Bush,

With the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq coming up, I've been thinking a lot about how exactly we came to be involved there. I know that you think it was the right decision, despite the small matter of there not being any WMD's. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt for a moment and assume that you really believed everything that you've said about Iraq over the last 18 months.

I've also been thinking about an anecdote in Daniel Ellsberg's memoir, Secrets. It's a great book overall, but a couple of conversations he had with Henry Kissinger really stood out. In December, 1968, Ellsberg met with Kissinger to go over a study of options for Vietnam that had been commissioned from the RAND Corporation. Ellsberg warned the new special assistant for national security of what, in Ellsberg's opinion, had made Vietnam policies so consistently bad:
"You've been a consultant for a long time, and you've dealt with a great deal of top secret information. But you're about to receive a whole slew of special clearances... that are even higher than top secret... First you'll be exhilarated by some of this new information, and by having it all...But second, almost as fast, you'll feel like a fool... [T]hat will last about two weeks. Then, after you've started reading all this daily intelligence input... you will forget that there was a time when you ever didn't have it, and you'll be aware only of the fact that you have it now and most others don't... and that all those other people are fools.

"Over a longer period of time - not too long, but a matter of two or three years - you'll eventually become aware of the limitations of this information. There is a great deal that it doesn't tell you, it's often inaccurate, and it can lead you astray just as much as the New York Times can...

"In the meantime, it will become very difficult for you to learn from anybody who doesn't have these clearances... You will deal with a person... only from the point of view of what you want him to believe and what impression you want him to go away with, since you'll have to lie carefully to him about what you know... The danger is, you'll become something like a moron. You'll become incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they may have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours."
Ellsberg had been nervous about telling this to Kissinger, but he took it well. Nevertheless, Ellsberg feared that Kissinger didn't understand because "he didn't have the clearances yet" and he was right. In August, 1970 the two men met again, after the secret bombing of Cambodia had begun.
[H]e referred to his irritation at the group of Harvard scholars... who had visited him to resign en bloc as consultants in protest against Cambodia... He was contemptuous of their presumption that they could judge a policy when they knew so little about policy making from the inside. He said dismissively, "They never had the clearances."
Considering your contempt for nation-building as a candidate, at least publicly, I wonder if you don't have the same problem. You surrounded yourself with people who were only interested in pursuing their own agenda at the expense of the truth and let them punish anyone who disagreed, so I have to wonder if it's possible for you to see Iraq objectively.

I may not have the clearances to understand exactly what it is that you're trying to do, but I can read. Veteran intelligence professionals thought the case for war hadn't been proven, and "there is no word in the English language to describe [their] outrage" over the events of the past year.

You can tell me that humanitarian reasons make up for being wrong about any imminent threats to our country until you're blue in the face. I will always wonder about why you refused to listen to the professionals who told you that this was a bad idea. I think you've become something like a moron on this issue, Mr. President, and it scares me to know that you don't seem to care.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

You've Got To Hide Your Love Away 

Dear President Bush,

Before I get into the real meat of what's bothering me, I wanted to remind you of some things you said way back when you were a Presidential candidate. On October 11, 2000 you said:
I've been a tolerant person all my life... I don't really think it's any of my concern how you conduct your sex life. That's a private matter. I support equal rights but not special rights for people.

Then, to Larry King, on hiring LGBT people, you said:
Well, I'm not going to ask what their sexual orientation is. I'm going to put conservative people in the cabinet. It's none of my business what somebody's [orientation is].

With that in mind, some of your constituents in Tennessee want to be able to charge LGBT people with crimes against nature. They don't want to go after the heterosexual sodomites like me who engage in non-procreative sex, just gays. They're also looking into banning homosexuals from living in their county. Would protecting LGBT people from this kind of nonsense, as I am protected, be considered an equal or special right?

Next, we have your newly appointed Special Counsel has decided to engage in a little bureaucratic activism by deciding that LGBT people can be fired or demoted on the basis of sexuality. Now, I'm not a lawyer, but last I checked, you hadn't amended Executive Order 11478 to rescind Executive Order 13087, which prohibits the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexuality. But anyway, is it a special or equal right to not be fired for something that is not criminal in any way? For example, if I was a federal employee with firing powers, and I decided to start firing straight people, what would happen?

To review, Rheas County, Tennessee is really crazy, which is horrifying, and your lawyer is going to get you sued and I suspect that you will lose, which should be fun. I thought I'd let you know.

Boys Will Be Boys 

Dear President Bush,

In case you missed it, another soldier home from the war lost it. Luckily, this time he only killed himself. Maybe he was just the kind of guy who liked to threaten his wife by chasing her around with a firearm, because some for some guys, anytime is a good time for domestic violence, but this reminded me a series of things like this that have been bothering me since last year.

You remember these five murders from two years ago, right? Apparently, all of the couples involved in these cases had "a history of marital problems." I wonder what that means. A record of abuse? Not pushing the toothpaste to the front of the tube? I wonder if the Howells had a similar history because they are not the first, nor, I'm certain, will they be the last military family to to have this happen.

Then there's rape and sexual assault. The Pentagon told the Senate that "over the past 18 months, 112 sexual assaults have been reported by servicewomen in foreign countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait." And that's just the reported ones. What's even worse is, according to the Miles Foundation, a Connecticut-based research and advocacy group for victims of military violence, only 3% of those accused will ever be court-martialed. That seems a tad low to me, considering that the Pentagon is insisting that these crimes are not tolerated in the military.

There's rape at home as well; take a look at this story. The military response sure sounded hardcore to me:
When this wife told her husband she'd been raped, he took the first leave he could and came home. When he arrived, he found that Army investigators interrogated his wife for nine hours, asked her to take a polygraph test, allowed her attacker to confront her at the hospital, and even told him to call her on the phone from the investigator's office.
And let's not even get into what happened at the Air Force Academy, except to say that not guaranteeing victims any confidentiality is an absolute guarantee that the rate of 18% of female cadets being assaulted won't change anytime soon.

This issue bothers me more than you can possibly imagine because I take it very personally. I was sexually assaulted by a former Marine who is now serving as an Army officer while he was earning his degree at my university. It makes me sick to know that there are hundreds of servicemen just like him who get away with violence against women because nobody cares enough to make it stop. This is one of those things where silence is complicity, Mr. President, and as Commander-in-Chief, I haven't heard you saying much about this.

Baby Steps 

Dear President Bush,

I know how big you are on personal responsibility. I'd imagine that his something to do with your personal struggle with alcohol, which is admirable, but it seems that you left out at least one person when you made a list of all the people you had harmed to apologize to. I doubt that it would harm this family to fix this. Maybe you should contact Ms. Smith and pay that bill. It's just a suggestion.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Many Children Left Behind 

Dear President Bush,

I know how much you like to go on and on about not leaving any children behind, so I was wondering how exactly you'd like to explain this. I honestly don't give a good goddamn about standardized tests, but the idea that families like the Chandlers would have to turn their child over to the state to get him the kind of care he needs makes me sick.

I think this was my favorite part of the article:

No one tracks how many parents in Georgia have given up their children. But nationwide, parents handed over an estimated 3,680 children to child welfare agencies in 2001 for the sole purpose of getting them mental health treatment, according to the General Accounting Office, the research arm of Congress.

3,680? If this is good policy then I'm Phyllis Schlafly. If you're actually concerned with doing something for the children of this country, then I suggest that you start here.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Private Parts 

Dear President Bush,

Last night I wrote to you about the Justice Department's efforts to get ahold of women's medical records from abortion providers in an attempt to enforce the Two Deaths for the Price of One, I mean, Partial Birth Abortion Act. I think it's a horrible violation of a person's privacy, but you cannot imagine my shock to find out that you feel the same way, courtesy of Patt Morrison in the LA Times.

On April 12, 2001, you directed Secretary Of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson "to allow a federal rule that will protect the privacy of medical information for millions of Americans to become effective." You expressed concern that with today's technology it is more difficult to keep medical records between a person and his health care provider. You said that you would "protect both vital health care services and the right of every American to have confidence that his or her personal medical records will remain private" and that maintaining medical confidentiality was going to be "an important goal" of your administration.

So what's going on at the DOJ, Mr. President? Are they ignoring you? You really need to look into this because as Morrison reports, women are afraid to come in to Planned Parenthood, an organization that doesn't even perform D & X procedures. It's going to end up being a uterine version of WMD's. There's nothing to find, but a lot of people are going to suffer anyway. Let me know when you have this straightened out.

Misogynist Bullshit 

Dear President Bush,

A federal judge finally went over to the dark side and ordered the University of Michigan Health system to turn over copies of abortion records to the justice Department. I know that you signed the Let Women Die, I mean, Partial Birth Abortion Act with great gusto, so this probably isn't too much of a problem for you, but I was wondering if you ever thought about the implications this law has on everyday women's lives.

I know the description of this procedure isn't for the easily squicked out, but try to get past that. A woman doesn't put off having an abortion for six or seven months because she's too busy shopping for shoes. Only 1.4% of abortions are performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy; that number would probably be even smaller if your friends weren't so concerned with restricting availability to young and/or poor women.

Most women who end up having a dilation and extraction (the proper medical term for this procedure) do so when a wanted pregnancy goes awry. The Supreme Court has already ruled that a woman does not have to risk her life to carry a pregnancy to term, and that her physician can make that determination and continue with whatever procedure will best preserve her life, regardless of the effect that may have on the fetus (Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 1986). So you're kind of SOL for making your law so stringent, since the Supreme Court is sensible enough to not want mothers' mortality to suddenly go through the roof.

I suppose that you'll probably come back with a different version of the law though, so let's think about what it means for women who end their pregnancies late for other reasons. Now I understand that the First Lady's pregnancy that produced your daughters was difficult, but luckily both twins were born healthy. That was probably very difficult, and you're probably very grateful that things worked out as they did. Now imagine it had been different, that the doctors had come to you and your wife and said that they were extremely sorry, but after a battery of tests, they had concluded that your children were suffering from an extreme genetic abnormality or birth defect, and there was just no way that they would survive.

What would you have done if that had been the case? If it was me, I'd want the pregnancy to be over as soon as technologically possible to so I could get on with the grieving and move on. But under your new law, you wife would have had to carry such a pregnancy to term. She would have had to go to family gatherings and business functions pregnant with dead or dying babies. She would have had to go to the grocery store and the mall and be asked by sales clerks and little old ladies when she was due. She would have had to keep going to the OB/GYN to monitor her own health, and she would have had to sit in the lobby with all the lucky women who were going to have healthy children. That's dying a little bit everyday, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Hundreds of families have to deal with this kind of hell every year. Please explain to me why you want to make it harder on them that it already is. It seems to be a sight less than compassionate to me.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Math Is Hard 

Dear President Bush,

I see you've been out on the campaign trail blasting John Kerry for proposing a $1.5 billion cut in intelligence spending in 1995. You called this kind of thinking "deeply irresponsible" and claim that it would have "gut[ted] intelligence services."

Now, you may not have noticed an interesting trend lately, but when you make things up, people have started to notice. To begin, $1.5 billion only represented 1% of the overall budget, hardly a gutting. Perhaps you should have called it a "mole removal." Secondly, this cut was targeted at the National Reconnaissance Office, which had somehow managed to stash away from $1 billion and 1.7 billion without bothering to tell Congress, the Pentagon, or the CIA. If they were able to save up that kind of money for extra legal pads or booze or whatever, they probably weren't going to be hurt to badly by a budget cut.

What's more important to your credibility though, is the Republican role in this 'controversy.' Senator Kerry got the idea for a $1.5 billion cut over five years from Arlen Spector (R-PA). In the end, the NRO's budget was cut, by $3.8 billion, in the GOP-backed package that went through at a later time.

So logically, your argument must be one of two things, if you're getting the same facts that I am. One, it's a good thing for various federal agencies, departments, and subsidiaries to creat slush funds without informing their superiors or the American public. Alternatively, if John Kerry is bad on defending the US, the Republicans in Congress are even worse.

So which is it? You can't use the "September 11th changed everything" excuse, because if Republicans are granted amnesty for their "irresponsible" behavior in 1995, then Senator Kerry must be as well. Let me know when you figure it out.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Believe In What You Want 

Dear President Bush,
Yesterday you spoke to the National Association of Evangelicals in Colorado. It makes me wish that I had sent last night's letter earlier, but you're never to old to learn. Anyway, let's take apart everything the New York Times had in the article, and see what we learn. Ready?

You promised to "defend the sanctity of marriage against activist courts and local officials who want to redefine marriage." Let's begin with the idea of 'activist courts.' There are a few other court decisions from back in the day that could probably be defined as 'activist,' but without them we would still have anti-sodomy law, interracial marriage would be illegal, segregated schools would be Constitutional, states could outlaw contraception, and no one accused of a crime would have the right to an attorney or the right to remain silent. I cannot imagine living in a country where these things were not Constitutional. I suspect you agree (remember, 9 of the states where statutes were struck down following the Lawrence decision defined sodomy as anything other than procreative sex for everyone, and you only have two kids). Granted, there have been some cases where the Court went far beyond the matter at hand, but I don't think that kind of thing is likely to happen again. In any case, the whole "sanctity of marriage" thing sounds a lot like the arguments against interracial marriage to me.

You also said that "the union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in cultures and by every religious faith." What about cultures that practice polygamy? That's pretty time-honored in some places. Anyway, remember what I said yesterday about mixing up your religion with your government? It's un-American. But I think I might have a solution. Why don't we end government sanctioned marriage entirely? Instead, we can have civil unions for eveyone, and once you've signed your civil contract, you can scamper off to your priest or Elvis or whatever to have a marriage ceremony if you want to. That would be somewhat more conservative than amending the Constitution.

Here's something else I found disturbing: The back of the convention's program said, "What Can 30 Million Evangelicals Do For America? Anything We Want." Oh, Mr. President, it is not good to support that kind of thing as President of the United States. We've been over the secular nature of our government, but it's also important to remember something else Jefferson said: "The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." Those Evangelicals are not even close to being a majority, so what they're trying to do is even more egregious.

You also said, "I oppose the use of federal funds for the destruction of embryos for stem cell research... Human life is a creation of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man." Okay, once again, this is a secular nation. Don't make me say it again. And as I've told you before, embryos are not people. Embryos are clusters of cells that are routinely made in labs for such things as in vitro fertilization. If you are going to be against stem cell research, you have to oppose fertility technology as well, which is silly. However, deciding that our scientists should be limited in their search to find cures for a variety of debilitating and deadly diseases is nothing less than insane. I have an aunt and a first cousin with diabetes (if I have children, they would definitely be at risk for this), my grandfather and great-grandfather died of cancer, and the mother of one of my best friends has MS. Why do you want them and people like them to be sick? There is nothing compassionate about this.

I think you should spend more time with Robert Schuller. He seems to be a little more sensible than the rest of them. He said, "What upsets me about religious leaders of all faiths is that they talk like they know it all, and anybody who doesn't agree with them is a heretic," and "Politics is a force that pulls answers towards mediocrity. That is why when issues are politicized, I am gone." I doubt I'd get along to well with him in most respects, but he's right on about the role religion should play in society. Check him out.

Get Up Off That Thing 

For the two of you out there reading this thing, I've decided that every Friday I'm going to ask all readers to send in their own letter to the President. It might not seem like much, but one day literally dozens of people could be reading this and writing in on an almost monthly basis. So why not start now? I'm an optimist if nothing else.

I'll give you a topic: Attempting to ban marriage rights for LGBT people is neither compassionate nor conservative. Hit up the link at left and start writing.

If you send a letter, leave a comment so that I can see that someone, anyone, is reading this. If you want to suggest a topic for next Friday, go ahead. I would love you forever.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Jesus H. Christ 

Dear President Bush,
Tonight the College Republicans brought Roy Moore to campus, and I was there handing out quarter sheets with quotes from our founders about the separation of church and state. It occurred to me that perhaps you missed this particular facet of American history since you are such a fan of mixing religion and government. I'm more of a 20th century history girl myself, but it's nonetheless important to have some grasp of what was in the founders' heads when they established this country.

Most of our founders were Deists. While they believed in the existence of God, they rejected revelation and scripture in favor of nature and reason. Although they did not see much value in Christianity (as Jefferson put it, "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"), they did not demand that other Americans see things the same way, hence the 1st Amendment. It's very clear that these men had a secular government in mind, so why do you insist on injecting faith into so many of the things you do?

In fact, the "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the "In God We Trust" on our currency and as the national motto and "so help me God" for oathes all came from Cold War anti-communism in the period immediately following Sen. McCarthy's little experiment in ruining people's lives. I don't know about you, but I'm not a real big proponent of continuing anything associated with such blatant and foul ideology. I bet it made our founders spin in their graves at high speed.

The United States was "in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine," according to no less of an authority than George Washington. To try to make it so is un-American. I like our old motto, "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of many, comes one) better. It seems more in keeping in what I like to see from American citizens. You could even bring back the old "uniter, not a divider" schtick from four years ago if you started using this phrase instead of the whole "chosen by God" thing, which totally creeps me out.

If you are against being a defender of the Constitution and keep insisting on dividing this country along religious lines, there are some theocracies you could go check out when you're done being President. I understand that your family has some friends in Saudi Arabia. I think the twins would especially like it there. I know it's Islam rather than Christianity, but it might be good for you to get some sense of being a minority in a world centered on religion. Go check it out, and when you come back we'll take another look at how you feel about religion in government.

Screws Just Fall Out All The Time 

Dear President Bush,
Remember how yesterday I referenced cuts in education budgets across the country? Well, Rod Paige, your secretary of education, went down to St. Louis to check out a magnet school to see how well No Child Left Behind is working out at a school that educates the top students in Missouri. I imagine that this kind of school really, really needed an unfunded mandate from the federal government to improve, but I digress.

Anyway, these kids in St. Louis are smart, and they are also optimistic. Right now St. Louis is looking at $23 million in school budget cuts that would effect art, music, athletic, and gifted programs, so Craig Szczesiul, all of 18 years old, bless his heart, asked Secretary Paige, "Can you help us with ideas about how to fix the problem?"

You know what the response was? "I think you stumped me with that question." The Secretary of Education does not know how to handle a problem that is affecting school districts all over the country? Isn't this supposed to be his specialty? He then went off on a tangent about how the 1996 Olympics brought the people of Atlanta together, and finished off by demanding applause.

This is the same man who recently called the largest teachers' organization in the country a "terrorist organization." He also manufactured the so-called Texas Miracle as superintendent of schools in Houston. Why does he still have a job?

If the qualifications for being Secretary of Education are more or less being able to BS, I can send you some of my old papers and exams. I need a job anyway, and not being held accountable for anything sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

Don't Worry About the Government 

Dear President Bush,
There is a new bill in the Senate that I'm really excited about, so I wanted to make sure that you were aware of it. The first general election I was eligible to vote in was in 2000, and because of that I'm a big fan of making sure that every vote counts. Sadly, the new electronic voting machines that are getting more popular leave something to be desired on that front as Diebold, the company that makes them, has not done all it could to ensure that our elections are free from the problems that plagued Florida in 2000.

This bill calls for every electronic machine to provide a paper trail to make sure that in the event anything goes wrong with the machines, there is a back-up ready to go. This is not a partisan issue, but to oppose it would be on your part. Walden O'Dell, Diebold's chief executive and your supporter, has said that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." That kind of conflict of interest is what we call "sketchy" where I live.

To make matters worse, although they make a variety of machines that have paper print-outs, like ATM's, Diebold wants to make it "prohibitively expensive" for states to pay for this upgrade, which really should have been a regular feature. You should give Walden a call and ask him what is up with that.

And that's not all. These machines have major security flaws and could be hacked easily. "A self-described Christian arch-conservative, former Diebold systems manager Rob Behler," who sounds like your kind of guy, "says the company failed to adequately test its troubled equipment -- and balked when he warned them of widespread problems with the machines." And we'd never know, without paper trails.

After all, your election was not the most squeaky clean of all time. Do you want the Republican Party's legacy to be stolen elections? Your people do a pretty good job of distorting the electoral process as it is. People like me will be writing the history books, Mr. President. Keep that in mind, get Walden on the phone, and don't screw this up.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Best Things In Life Are Free 

Dear President Bush,
I see that today you went to Ohio to defend your economic policy. You apparently talked about the government's responsibility "to create an environment that increases more jobs and helps people find the skills to fill those jobs." I think you had the right sentiment, but I'm not sure what you meant. Did you mean that people should only be able to find new jobs with the government? That's what happened last month. I'm pretty sure you haven't done anything else to increase government responsibility in this area.

I'm also curious about why you characterized your opponents' ideas about the economy as "a recipe for economic disaster." How is that substantively different from what you've done to the economy as President? You also seem to be under the impression that Democrats are in favor of higher taxes. Actually, they are in favor of higher taxes for those who can afford them. All your tax cuts have accomplished have been local tax increases for people like my parents. Why do you want Americans who aren't as well-off as you to be sick and under-educated? I know that your friends have a lot of money to throw around to pay for these kinds of things out of pocket, but most of us don't, so your tax cuts don't do anything for us. If we seem "tired and defeatist," that's why. Please try a little harder to wrap your mind around that.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

16 Year Old Girls Giving Carnies Head 

Dear President Bush,
I've often wondered about what value you see in abstinence-only education. I suppose it would be great if fewer 14 year olds were having sex, but the whole "waiting for marriage" thing just seems bizarre. I'll admit that it made sense in say, the fifteen years following WWII, but back then most women were married by the time they were my age, 22, and usually earlier. But now a days, it's just silly to put off sex for that long. I mean, your old press secretary, Ari Fleischer, waited quite some time before he got married. Do you really think he was a virgin? Actually, that might be a bad example. Nevermind.

It's not the virginity part that bothers me about no-sex ed. It's the no ed part. In today's New York Times, there's a story about virginity pledges. According to the article, the kids who sign these pledges only hold off on sex about 18 months longer than kids who don't. They also had fewer partners and got married earlier. Although I suspect that the population inclined to sign these things is the same population that would hold off on sex a little longer, have fewer partners, and get married earlier anyway, any news is probably good news.

Then there's the bad news. The rates of disease for the former Virgins is exactly the same as for the rest of us, and even worse, they are less likely to get tested for STI's, so they don't know when they are sick. Shockingly enough, this probably has to do the fact that only 40% of these kids are using condoms, compared to 60% of the rest of us. The report doesn't say, but I wouldn't be too surprised if the reason why the former Virgins are twice as likely to be married at 23 than the rest of us is because their unplanned pregnancy rate is higher too. That is, of course, if untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea hasn't left them sterile. That could be the other half. It's hard to say.

I know you're not a fan of actually educating teenagers about sex, but I'd just as soon not have a generation of kids who don't know the difference between a clitoris and syphilis. I have enough problems with the guys I date as it is.

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action 

Dear President Bush,
I write to you from my university, but I'm actually from New Jersey. Specifically, I'm from North Jersey, where it's practically impossible to be more than one degree away from someone who died on September 11th. I'd say that you can probably imagine with my frustration with the lack of answers as to why that tragedy occurred, but I don't think you do. If you were as upset by September 11th as I am, you wouldn't be giving the 9-11 commission such a run-around.

The Washington Post reports today that although your campaign chairman said the White House has been "entirely cooperative" with the investigation, "last week, Congress rushed to approve legislation extending the deadline for the Sept. 11 commission -- in large part because constant feuding with the White House had made it impossible for the panel to complete its work on time." You've also apparently only agreed to sit down with the panel's chairman and vice-chairman, even though former President Clinton and Vice President Gore have given unlimited time to the full panel. This is especially striking considering the amount of blame people in your camp have been trying to place on the Clinton Administration. In comparison to your predecessors, you're acting like a petulant child. What are you afraid of?

This morning, Scott McClellan said on your behalf, "Again, from this podium I'm telling you that the President, of course, will answer all the questions that they want to raise." The Associated Press is interpreting this as meaning that the time limit has been dropped, but that seems to be a leap of faith on their part. McClellan was asked repeatedly if he meant the one hour limit was being dropped, but he never gave a definitive answer. In fact, when asked "Scott, since now seems like the time is negotiable, the President will now answer for as long...", McClellan responded, "I didn't say that."

So what is going on in your White House, Mr. President? Are you, or are you not going to cooperate with the 9-11 Commission? After all, I'm not stupid, and neither are most of my friends and family back home in Jersey. We know the difference between an hour-long sit-down with two panel members and full disclosure. We also like Mafioso-style behavior confined to the TV. You are our (sort of, kind of) elected representative, not Vito Corleone or Tony Soprano, so start acting like someone responsible to your constituents. Don't make me go all high-school-civics-class on you tomorrow.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

I Spy With My Little Eye 

Dear President Bush,
I've been following the Valerie Plame story since it first broke, and I have to tell you, I'm pretty excited about these subpoenas that were issued recently. I'm sure they make you feel all tingly inside, but in a different way.

Now you've said that you have instructed your staff to cooperate fully in the investigation, as outing an undercover agent is a pretty big deal, but that leads to a bigger question that Josh Marshall posed last week: Are you asking your staff to waive their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination? If you really mean for the investigators to get to the bottom of this, I think you should.

After all, you've made great hay in the last few years out of how we're either with you or against you and all. Ms. Plame was probably a valuable asset in not letting the terrorists win. So I call on you to root whoever leaked this information to Robert Novak out of their safe hiding places and bring them to justice. I know you are a fan of such things. So show me what you're made of and bring it on!

No Fetus Can Beat Us 

Dear President Bush,
As I'm sure you know, the House of Representatives passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, or as I like to call it, the 2004 Assault on Roe Act. This law would make the death of a fetus or embryo a crime on par with the murder of a person. The guilty party would not even have to be aware of the pregnancy.

In cases of homicide or assault where this occurs, judges consider it an aggravating factor in sentencing, which makes sense. However, making the loss of a fetus or embryo murder is very clearly a backdoor attack on a woman's right to choose and the beginning of a slide downward to criminalized abortion. It also seems to me that you don't trust judges, men and women who have committed their lives to the public good, to do the right thing and adequately sentence criminals. Why is that? Do you think most judges are incompetent?

Now I know that abortion makes you all squicky, but I think we should talk about it. Criminalizing abortion will not change the number of women who get abortions; it will simply make it far more dangerous for them to do so. SaveRoe.com tells us that "in 1965, when abortion was still illegal nationwide except in cases of life endangerment, at least 193 women died from illegal abortions, and illegal abortion caused nearly 17 percent of all deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth in that year." Seventeen percent! I'm sure you wouldn't want that for your daughters.

Also, before you get all worked up about abortion, we should probably talk a little about the kids we've got now. Let's use your state of Texas, since you had some time to work on improving the quality of life for children there. According to the Texas Children's Defense Fund one in five children there grow up in poverty. Texas also ranks dead last for the number of uninsured children; that means you have the most, not the least. It seems that there is still some work to be done on raising the children of Texas and nationwide as well. Perhaps your time would be better spent working on this issue.

A woman can be a Cabinet secretary, the head of the National Security Agency, a Senator, a Congresswoman, a business leader, a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, hopefully one day President, and anything else. Zygotes can't do anything because they are not people. Please keep that in mind.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Then they came for the professors... 

Dear President Bush,
This morning I was catching up on some reading from my modern Middle Eastern history class. Specifically, the book was on the events in Iran in the 1970's leading up to the revolution, and it's really fascinating stuff. It's remarkable to me that the United States was so completely unprepared for an uprising that seems so inevitable in hindsight. This class has been one of the most informative I've taken in my time as a student and I believe has better prepared me to understand the problems in the Middle East today. Did you ever take any on this subject? I'd imagine they were quite different if you did.

So imagine my surprise when I was reading Juan Cole's Informed Comment this morning. Unfortunately, it seems that some people in this country are against learning anything that doesn't completely follow a very specific, conservative ideology, the exact problem that lead to American problems in Iran twenty-five years ago. I am, of course, talking about HR 3077, the International Studies in Higher Education Act. This piece of legislation would create an advisory board, which would include two members of national security agencies, to make recommendations "to improve the programs under [Title VI of the 1965 Higher Education Act] to better reflect the national needs related to the homeland security, international education, international affairs, and foreign language training." The obvious goal is to stamp out any opinions in academia that conflict with those of our various intelligence agencies.

This is the exact kind of thinking that got you in so much trouble with the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Mr. President. Middle Eastern studies are going to be of tremendous importance in our struggle to help Middle Eastern countries. Just because a political scientist or a historian tells you something you don't want to hear does not mean what they are telling you isn't true. I also know it's difficult to deal with the fact that people close to you might not be the pillars of truth and knowledge that you've built them up in your head to be. That can be a real let down, but you're a grown man and I expect you to be able to shake it off.

HR 3077 is against the values our country was founded on and will only hurt American ability to think critically about the many problems in the Middle East as it is totally counterintuitive to the purpose of higher education. I think that we can agree that American involvement in the Middle East has been entirely too often based on ignorance, whether we're talking about letting the Iranian revolution happen, dealing with Saddam Hussein in the 1980's, allowing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia become hotbeds of militant religious fundamentalism, or refusing to admit that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq for far too long. I know you're big on tradition, but you need to let this one go.

In the Beginning... 

Dear President Bush,
My name is Victoria (like I'm putting my last name on the Internet), and I'm 22 years old. Like you were, I am a history major, and like your wife and daughters, I am a sorority woman, so we have a lot in common. I even want a career in politics. Imagine that!

It has come to my attention that you don't read the news yourself, but rather your aides choose for you what is important. I think this may have been a mistake on your part because judging from a lot of the news that I've been seeing, some important information on a wide variety of subjects have been falling through the cracks. Sometimes it also seems as if your staff members and other Republicans working on your behalf do things totally without your knowledge, based on your insistence that you are a trustworthy and decent man with love for all Americans.

As a person with a little more free time than you, and as a concerned citizen of the United States, I would like to help you rectify this problem. Therefore, you can look forward to an e-mail from me several times a week letting you know what your aides may have missed or considered unworthy of your time. I hope you find it informative.

I know that you don't like using e-mail because of the potential for legal repercussions, but I assure you that I haven't done anything worth issuing a subpoena over, so you can feel free to contact me here with any questions you may have on what I send you. Just don't be too loose with the identities of deep cover agents, or anything like that. You already have enough problems with the Air Force One phone records.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I will begin in earnest tomorrow. I hope you are as excited about this little endeavor as I am.

Friday, March 05, 2004

What the Hell? 

Welcome to Letters to W. Let me explain what it is that we're trying to do here.

Earlier this week, I was working on a letter-writing campaign at our student center. Since it was easy, a lot of people stopped by our table and were excited to participate in representative democracy, which made me pretty happy since so few college students vote, much less do anything further.

While I was sitting there, I was also thinking about President Bush, who has publicly admitted that he doesn't read the news himself. Instead, aides decide what he should read and give it to him. While unsurprising, that's a terribly sad thing for a grown man.

So I thought to myself, why not combine the two? As often as we can, some friends and I will (as respectfully as we can manage) be writing letters to the President to inform him of what bothers us at any given moment and posting them here. We don't think that he'll read them, but hey, we think representative democracy is awesome and we should exercise all our rights as citizens.

And more importantly, you should too. There are a lot of people in Washington from the President on down who get away with all kinds of badness because their constituents aren't paying any attention. Use the links at left, and fire away to whomever you think needs to hear it.

On with the show.

Are You Out There? Can You Hear This? 


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