Friday, April 30, 2004

Happy Hour 

Friday! Yay! I am going drinking and will update when I get back, but you, my friend, should write to the president evaluating his douche-iness. Go forth and e-mail.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Letters to Karen 

Tell Karen Hughes to eat a bag. It feels great!

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Don't You Want to Know Why We Keep Starting Fires? 

Dear President Bush,

The New York Times has a story today about yet another reason why you are unfit to govern a fraternity, much less the United States. You didn't like what the intelligence community had to say about Iraq, so you got other people to see if they could do better. And by better, I mean "what Dick Cheney wanted to hear."

This job fell to two men in the Pentagon in a room with no windows. I guess they wanted an environment equipped for maximum conspiracy theory potential. One of the "investigators" had this to say about what they were looking at:
We discovered tons of raw intelligence...We were stunned that we couldn't find any mention of it in the C.I.A.'s finished reports.
Raw intelligence reports are just gossip until you can prove that they have merit, Mr. President. If I call the CIA and tell them that my relatives in Canada are planning to invade, that doesn't make what I say "intelligence" even if they are massing on the border at Niagara Falls. It probably means that they are coming to my grandmother's house, which feels like an invasion, but just to my family and with more booze.

At best, you couldn't be bothered to find people who could differentiate between terrorist threats and random crap, but it was probably worse than that. As Patrick Lang, a former Middle East analyst for the D.I.A, put it:
I don't have any problem with them bringing in a couple of people to take another look at the intelligence and challenge the assessments... But the problem is that they brought in people who were not intelligence professionals, people brought in because they thought like them. They knew what answers they were going to get.
If there was really something to the allegations about Iraq, would it have been difficult to find professionals to work on this project? And Mr. Lang isn't kidding about the partisan cred of the men working on this:
When Mr. Perle was a top defense official in the Reagan administration, Mr. Maloof, a former journalist, worked as his investigator, assembling evidence that the Soviet Union was stealing Western technology. Mr. Wurmser, a Middle East expert who had written a book that attacked the Clinton administration and the C.I.A. for their handling of Iraq in the 1990's, had worked at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank where Mr. Perle was a resident scholar. Mr. Feith had been Mr. Perle's deputy at the Pentagon. And while they were all out of government, Mr. Wurmser, Mr. Feith and Mr. Perle had signed a 1996 paper calling for the overthrow of Mr. Hussein to enhance Israel's security.
I'm not comforted by their resumes, Mr. President, to put it mildly. Mr. Maloof was also in the habit of using his higher clearance to bypass what the intelligence community wanted them to see, "pulling" information from his other office and bringing it to their secret clubhouse. Isn't that illegal?

Unsurprisingly, the report they put together was "alarming," connecting practically every major terrorist group to one another as well as to states. Well, if you give me a Ouiji board, a copy of the Weekly World News, a live goat, access to Ahmad Chalabi, and some of your hair, I could tell you some alarming things too. What they were doing seems to be the intelligence equivalent of that.

Mr. Feith defends their work, inviting "anyone" to examine the quality of what they did. Okay, send it to me. I only have one class on Tuesdays and would be glad to look it over. All sorts of things were considered "logical" and "well-reasoned" until better evidence emerged. People used to believe that the sun revolved around the earth, that women had no sex drives, and that you were a moderate. I'm going to have to see this one and any evidence to the contrary to believe Mr. Feith. You have my address.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I'm Okay, You're a Terrorist 

Dear President Bush,

With your help, Arlen Specter won the Pennsylvania primary over diehard crazy man Pat Toomey. I doubt you did this for any reason other than Specter is better for your Presidential prospects, but I have a question. Senator Specter is pro-choice, and I, and many others, like him for doing things like blocking Robert Bork from the Supreme Court. Your groupie, Karen Hughes, said that pro-choice folks are comparable to terrorists. By her addled logic, the senator falls into that camp. Since you haven't asked Hughes to apologize, I assume you agree with her. Because you endorsed Senator Specter, does that mean the terrorists are winning? Do you think that it is okay to work with "terrorists" like Specter and myself if it is politically expedient for you? Is this your idea of "steady leadership in times of change"?

Now I don't mind that Specter won. The prospect of Toomey winning was too frightening, and it's going to make it easier on the Democrats now that Specter has spent the last three months running to the right and spending all his money. But it bothers me that I'm a terrorist, while Arlen Specter gets the full weight of the RNC pulling his butt out of the fire. So ask Hughes to apologize, or better yet, resign. Your actions say to me that there is no option.

Monday, April 26, 2004

My Body, My Choice 

Dear President Bush,

I'm back home after going to the March for Women's Lives. There were a million of us there, Democrats, Republicans (they aren't voting for you, I asked), moms, dads, kids, gay men, lesbians, college students, Catholics, Jews, Protestants, more people than I'd ever seen representing more kinds of people than I could count. We went right past your house, but you were hiding at Camp David. All you did was issue a statement acknowledging that the march was happening, which said the following:
The president believes we should work to build a culture of life in America and regardless of where one stands on the issue of abortion, we can all work together to reduce the number of abortions through promotion of abstinence-education programs, support for parental-notification laws and continued support for banning partial-birth abortion."
President Bush, I call bullshit on you. Let's go through this statement piece by piece and see what we discover, okay?

First we have the phrase "culture of life." I find that interesting coming from a man who executed 152 people, and better yet, doesn't seem to mind. You couldn't even pretend for the sake of appearances that you don't enjoy it. You felt the need mock a woman whose life was in your hands. That was classy.

Next, we have the series of badly considered policies. Abstinence only indoctrination has absolutely nothing in common with education. People should know how to avoid getting diseases that could possibly kill them, and if every kid was taught how to avoid getting pregnant, maybe fewer would. Parental notification laws are a big, steaming pile of crap. Women aren't going to avoid abortion because their parents will find out; it just makes their lives more miserable. It would be awesome if every family built the kind of relationship where a young woman could go to her parents, say, "This is my situation" and get the support she needs, but in my world there are incest, rape, and the kind of people who would go so far as to cut off their children entirely for wanting an abortion, regardless of the situation. Dilation and extraction is also something I support because I live in the real world. Pregnancies go wrong, parental consent laws delay teenage rape and incest survivors from getting the help they need, there are a million contingencies that are none of your business. Can't you see how each of these creates more of a problem with the following? I'm not behind you, and neither are the million people who were with me yesterday, because what you're promoting amounts to ignorance for everyone, and for some women, death.

Your statement wasn't the stupidest thing I've heard though. That honor is reserved for Karen Hughes, who in her ultimate wisdom, decided to compare me and everyone else at the march to terrorists. Of course I value life. The difference between us is that I value women's and children's lives, while you vaule a concept. If you want to impress upon me that you care about the life, then start by making sure that every mother and child is taken care of. Provide full health coverage, improve social services, and turn public schools into to palaces they deserve to be. Come out in favor of sex ed, so that accidental pregnancies will happen less often. Then publicly state that the death penalty is a terrible idea.

What really makes that statement ridiculous is the kind of people who will agree with the sentiment. Anti-choice activists have murdered doctors and posted the pictures and addresses of doctors and their families on the Internet to encourage others to do the same. Many of the counter demonstrators I saw yesterday openly held up Paul Hill as a hero and a martyr. If we're going to be throwing around accusations about who is a terrorist, I'm pretty sure these are the people you should be talking about.

All that said, though, yesterday made me feel great. Every person there wanted to send you back to crawford. It's going to be a beautiful day when that happens, and the march gave me all the hope in the world that day will be in the not so distant future.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


It is Friday, which is totally sweet for many reasons. I'll be spending my weekend in Washington, Monday's midterm be damned, with hopefully one million other people who are totally pissed at our motherfucking president for being an anti-choice, patriarchal jackass. Well, more accurately, I'll be spending about 24 hours on a bus chartered by socialists so that I can spend 8 hours in DC, but whatever.

The point is it's a good time to exercise some of your rights as an American and vent at W. at the same time. So hit the link on the left and let him know why you, at this particular moment, think he's an idiot. It's fun, and more importantly from my perspective, I'll have more potential roommates who speak English when I get hauled off to Gitmo. It will be awesome, I promise.

You Got Served 

Dear President Bush,

For the amount of time you spent thinking about campaigning, I would have expected you to be better at it by now. You made a great big deal over Kerry's military records not being public enough for you, and now every news outlet is going to be talking about how perfect those records are. Seriously, I'm 22 years old with zero experience running a campaign, and I could see this coming a mile away.

Maybe they'll notice this little contrast while they're at it. You're a disgrace, and I hope you and your friends keep making such a concerted effort to make it so obvious.

Try to Understand 

Dear President Bush,

When I was in the fourth grade, I brought home a form and told my parents I was going to play the clarinet. Music wasn't something that had occurred to them as something I should do before that day, but my father has often told me that signing that form and shelling out for a crappy plastic instrument was one of the best decisions he ever made in regards to me. He's right. Because of music, even though I went to a pretty bad high school, I was a competitive candidate for the best colleges in the country, and I go to one of them now.

My commitment and success in a single activity looked good to admissions officers, but it was more than that. Music taught me how to really focus. It kept me out of trouble. I made tons of friends I never would have known otherwise. And while I have no definitive proof that there was a correlation for me, I was very good at math. I was an all-around better person for it.

For the others kids around me, it wasn't always music, but I can give you an absolute guarantee that every single one of us who wasn't giving up had something like it. Art, sports, community service, drama, vocational training; we needed them just as much as we needed algebra, probably more. So when I read this Washington Post story, I could have cried because Raymond Park Middle School could have been my own.

In the foyer of my high school, there was a mural that said "Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I'll remember. Involve me, I'll understand." I guess somebody showed you statistics on poor districts' performance, but you don't understand. You don't understand the difference between education and being able to vomit up answers on demand. You don't understand that schools should be able to help the future engineer and the future construction worker, the writer and the ESL student, and the genius and the profoundly learning disabled, all at the same time. You've set a single bar that is too high for some, too low for others, and some kids are on a different playing field entirely. Every student at every school like the ones I went to are paying for your unwillingness to understand.

Schools should be palaces of education for everyone, whatever their needs may be, not Scantron factories. Republicans like to talk about "the soft bigotry of low expectations." The No Child Left Behind Act fits that phrase pretty nicely. If you ever bothered to get meaningfully involved in education, maybe you would understand.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Since They Aren't Pioneers... 

Dear President Bush,

I would like you to explain to me why you have decided to fool around with one of people's most basic needs, shelter, out of nowhere. Of course, you wouldn't be you if you hadn't bothered to notify local agencies in writing before implementing this, retroactivated it to January, AND made sure that the formula used to allot money to local housing agencies did not have to consider increases in rent rates.

So the expenses for Section 8 vouchers are rising. I have news, Mr. President: When you mess up the economy, there will be more poor people. It is positively wretched that out of all the things you could choose to underfund (the millions you're spending on pleasing your base with "healthy marriage initiatives" come to mind) that you would pick on those who are in the worst position to fight back. You have no compassion, conservative or otherwise, and it is exactly this kind of nonsense that proves it beyond any doubt.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Say It Ain't So 

I'm not in any way making light of or ignoring the actual people who our Fearless Leader has managed to get killed or physically/emotionally maimed in real life, but now he may have killed B.D. as well.

Death Squads for Some, Tiny American Flags for Others! 

Dear President Bush,

I see that you named John Negroponte as ambassador to Iraq because he "has done a really good job of speaking for the United States to the world about our intentions to spread freedom and peace." Is it Opposite Day? My desk calendar has something inane about mobile James Bond parties, and it would definitely have considered Opposite Day an important holiday. Did you issue some sort of decree?

I'm asking because unless "our intentions to spread freedom and peace" have something to do with death squads, you've hired the wrong man. It's very important to check the references on the resume to make sure they weren't copied out of a book or otherwise falsified, Mr. President.

Oh, wait, I forgot that you don't give a good goddamn. You already hired all the scoundrels and criminals left over from the Reagan administration's Latin American team, and this is just a promotion. Just as a quick reminder:
Negroponte served as Reagan’s Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. He was personally responsible for carrying out the Reagan administration’s illegal policy of training and arming Contra rebels inside Honduras for the purpose of overthrowing Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. He also oversaw the build-up of the Honduran military, while turning a blind eye to their campaigns of death and torture.
He still maintains to this day that no such horror was happening in Honduras. As the columnist puts it, our new ambassador is "either lying or he's totally incompetent." Either way, he sounds like a man after your own heart.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Worst. President. Ever. 

Dear President Bush,
I missed actually getting to see Bob Woodward on Sixty Minutes, but since just reading about makes me feel so ill, it's probably just as well.

There is a lot in there that we'll get to in a moment, but first an overarching question: Are you really so insulated and out of touch with reality that you thought telling all this to a journalist would be a good idea? I'm not saying I mind, but for all the lessons your administration took from the Nixon White House, it's interesting that you and everyone you work for decided to cut out the middle man and give all the damaging evidence directly to Bob Woodward instead of making him work for it.

I'm not surprised that Woodward is confirming that you were talking about Iraq five days after September 11th for reasons wholly unrelated to terrorism. It seemed pretty selfevident to anyone paying attention, and hopefully now a lot more people will be. No amount of red, white, and blue bunting, cowboys hats, or visits to military bases is going to cover your butt on this one, Mr. President.

Now for our old favorites, impeachable offenses! First, you illegally appropriated money from a fund that was supposed to be helping rebuild Afghanistan. Perhaps no one ever sat you down and explained it to you, but here in the US we have a Constitutional system of checks and balances. To keep people like you from funding anything without the consent of the public, you have to ask Congress. It's hard to wrap your mind around, I know, but I assure you it's in there.

Then we have you bringing in old family friend and ambassador to the US Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, and showing him top secret documents that explicitly were not to be shown to foreigners. But it gets better! In exchange for starting a war with Iraq, what did you win? An oil price fixing scheme designed to coincide with the election! My disgust for you right now really knows no bounds.

Maybe that's why you hadn't bothered to tell Secretary Powell about any of this until January 2003. I mean, all he was offering was a little bit of sanity, and that was no good to you. I'm sure that Karen Hughes, with her 35 years of military experience, was offering far more valuable advice...Oh, damn, wait, she's just a political advisor; it's Colin Powell with the 35 years in uniform. Were you having problems differentiating between the two?

Of course, saying anything about you being wrong about the whole WMD thing is just for the "elite circles." The elite circles of what exactly? My cousin's kindergarten class? You don't have to be an intellectual to understand that when the President promises something like a WMD program exists, but nothing is to be found, something has gone profoundly wrong.

You also think that this is a matter between you and God. Once again, that would be if we lived in a theocracy. This is a matter between you, me, and every other American citizen. One of these days, I'm going to send you a civics textbook with the important parts underlined.

As for how history will judge you, you said, "We don't know. We'll all be dead." That you might be right about, since I wouldn't be shocked if you got us all killed.


Saturday, April 10, 2004


Dear President Bush,

Like you, I used to routinely embarrass myself by mispronouncing words. I don't know what your excuse is, but my problem was that I used to pick up all kinds of vocabulary from reading. I would know how to use the words, but since I had never heard them said out loud, I had no idea what some were supposed to sound like.

I mention this because in today's New York Times, a professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago comes out against race based affirmative action, and I agree with him. He talks about how the one thing UIC can depend on for pride in the face of a severe lack of resources is racially diversity; they're in the top ten in the nation in that regard.

But UIC didn't get to that place by recruiting minority high school students; UIC students are more diverse than say, Yale students, because they are much less affluent.
We are often reminded of how white our classrooms would look if we did away with affirmative action. But imagine what Harvard would look like if instead we replaced race-based affirmative action with a strong dose of class-based affirmative action. Ninety percent of the undergraduates come from families earning more than $42,000 a year (the median household income in the U.S.) -- and some 77 percent come from families with incomes of more than $80,000, although only about 20 percent of American households have incomes that high. If the income distribution at Harvard were made to look like the income distribution of the United States, some 57 percent of the displaced students would be rich, and most of them would be white.
I went to a pretty small high school that was mostly working and lower-middle class and Latino, but I knew people there who had what it takes to go to an elite university like mine and many more who would have gone to much better schools had their income tax brackets been higher. The kid who didn't have any extra-curricular activities because he worked fulltime, but got very high SAT's without trying, the immensely talented musician who gave it up because there didn't seem to be a point, the kid who went from ESL to honors classes in three years, I could go on and on. None of them are where they could be because they were poor, not because of the colors of their skins.

If you want to get rid of race-based affirmative action, that's fine with me. Replacing it with class-based preferences would help far more people. Of course, if you do that, we're going to have to undertake a massive overhaul of the public school system to make sure that all of the people like my high school friends can hack it in college generally. Remember "No Child Left Behind"? I want to see you try that for real as opposed to for politics. You get to end affirmative action as we know it; people like my friends get to go to college. We both win.

Not the Kind of War We Win 

Dear President Bush,

I spent most of today simultaneously reading a book about Vietnam and watching 3 Lifetime Original Movies back to back, which is possibly the most depressing way one can choose to spend a Saturday. I was hoping against hope that when I finally got around to reading the news, it would be better than the rest of the week's, but unsurprisingly, it's about what I expected.

I see that the Vice President went to Japan to attempt to bolster support for the war while three Japanese aid workers are being held captive under threat of being burned alive if Japanese troops are not withdrawn from Iraq. Now, I wouldn't send the Vice President to rally support for anything because I find him to be downright freaky, but that's not what caught my eye in the article.

"It is absolutely essential in both Afghanistan and Iraq that we finish the task at hand," according to the Veep. The Times isn't reporting whether or not he managed to say it with a straight face, but it's still interesting. Did you finally figure out that Afghanistan is unstable, or did you get the memo about Afghanistan's booming market economy being fueled by opium?

Then there's the "task at hand" in Iraq: The worst week since the war began, although a ceasefire has apparently been negotiated in Fallujah. Hopefully it will stick. In any case, here's something from the first article that maybe you should print out and tape to your desk:
"They got rid of Saddam for us. None of us could have done it," Ismail said. "But they should have provided us with something better. Instead we got something worse."
Gen. Abizaid is looking into committing more troops, so he's finally catching up to the field of experts who said that was necessary before this war even began. Do you feel any shame over this since if you had committed an appropriate number of troops in the first place, maybe the past week wouldn't have happened?

This time of year, my sole vaguely religious thing to do is re-read A Prayer for Owen Meany, and there's one line from Owen I also think you should tape to your desk as well: THIS IS NOT THE KIND OF WAR WE WIN. Happy Easter.

Friday, April 09, 2004

500 Days Without You, Thought I'd Forget 

Dear President Bush,

Your Communications Director, Dan Bartlett, got snippy over some of Senator Kerry's remarks about you being on vacation again, replying that you "aren't skiing" on your trip down there for Easter. Of course not; you're screwing around playing games with the NRA and some unnamed hunting groups. In any case, I can understand spending a holiday away from work, but here's the thing; you've spent all or part of 500 days on vacation since you took office, which adds up to more than 40% of your term so far.

Now I've never had a fulltime job, aside from being a student, but I'm pretty sure that if I took 40% of my time off, I'd get fired. When I was a senior in high school, I maxed out my number of absences because I was bored, but had I missed 40% of the year, the school would have had no qualms about failing me despite my very high GPA. Why is it different for you? When it comes down to it, people like me are your employers whether we voted for you or not, so I'm telling you to get yourself back to the White House.

I know that spending a holiday with the head of the NRA is probably a lot of fun for you, but anyone who told you that your job was supposed to be fun lied. You like to talk about your solidarity with the soldiers in Iraq (I understand that you'll be taking a sidetrip to Fort Hood), but a lot of them are in mortal peril right now. The least you could do is actually do your own job while they do theirs.

Good Friday 

It's Friday, the beginning of the weekend and the day I ask all of you reading this to write your own letter to W. It's good to vent (don't tell me you don't want to if you're reading this), and it's part of our obligation as citizens to let our elected (or in this case 'elected') officials know what we think of them. So hit the link at left and tell the White House what they did to bother you recently.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Subconsciously Stupid 

Dear President Bush,

I admit that I did not get up this morning to watch National Security Advisor Condi Rice testify, but I'm reading the transcript now. The Center for American Progress has been doing factchecking so that I don't have to, and I think you may have missed my letter encouraging you to go over the definition of perjury with Dr. Rice. Go check it out what they've turned up so far.

One thing interested me from Dr. Rice's testimony that may seem trivial and probably won't get much attention is this:
Historically, democratic societies have been slow to react to gathering threats, tending instead to wait to confront threats until they are too dangerous to ignore or until it is too late. Despite the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 and continued German harassment of American shipping, the United States did not enter the First World War until two years later.
The Lusitania sinking was certainly tragic, but the Germans had been publishing ads in newspapers warning Americans that travel could be dangerous (I believe that the notice of the Lusitania's departure was right next to one of these warnings). Passenger ships were considered targets because the Americans were secretly using them to transport various military goods. The reason why the Lusitania sunk as quickly as it did and so many people died was because the torpedo hit a load of I believe bombshells that were in the cargo hold, but since nobody knew that, it was used for proganda purposes to build support for the war. It could just be a sloppy reference, but is Dr. Rice implying that your administration knew that we were at risk for attack, but didn't tell people and then used our ignorance to build support for your policies? I'm genuinely curious if that is the case, and if so, if you did it on purpose or if it was just your administration's collective subconscious slipping out.

You don't seriously expect us to believe that you didn't know September 11th was on the way, do you, Mr. President? The President's Daily Brief on Augut 6, 2001 was entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S." I know that you were "obsessed" with stem cell research at the time, but come on now. Presidents need to me multifunctional. If you think I'm wrong, then send me that briefing and everything else you had so that I can see for myself. If you think I'm right, but you're afraid it will be too hard for you if the public knew the whole truth, then you are not fit to be President. That's kind of a theme, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

An E for Egregious 

Dear President Bush,

Over at Kicking Ass, they've posted a good round-up of what kind of education voucher schools are providing.

I'm actually not surprised at some of the voucher school abuses they've listed. We briefly had a charter school in my town. By my county's standards, my high school really wasn't very good, but rather than working on fixing some of its problems, a handful of people got together and decided to cost my school district a ton of money by opening a charter school, ironically named the College Prep Academy . It was closed due to financial mismanagement. Now, I only have speculative evidence that it was failing before that happened, but most of the parents I knew who were interested in seeing their kids succeed wanted to keep them in the public school where we had things like sports, clubs, and fine arts. Most of the kids I knew who went to the charter school were kids who were doing badly in the public school already, and their parents decided it was the school's fault, so they pulled the kids out to do badly in the charter school instead. The school also happened to be across the street from the bar my dad hangs out in, and the people who ran the school used to come in and get hammered pretty frequently, which probably didn't help either.

But alcoholism aside, if kids who aren't doing so well academically in public school pack it in to try a charter school, shouldn't we be keeping track of their academic progress or lack their of? Why are voucher schools exempt from the regulations that are bankrupting public schools? Secretary of Education Rod Paige said that "It's not a federal responsibility to have oversight over choice schools." It's almost as if you're intentionally trying to force a radical change in American education by making it legally and financially impossible to keep public schools open so that education can be an industry rather than a public good. Yeah, I'm sure you'd never do that.

The Definition of Compassion 

Dear President Bush,

I try to stay away from your campaign site because it makes me feel violently ill, but a couple of sites were talking about the photos chosen for the section titled "Compassion" so I took a look. While making appearances at events for groups like Habitat for Humanity is a good thing, I think your definition of compassion is slightly off because it should involve a lot more than hanging out with Africans and African-Americans and taking pictures.

There are many things I could point to that you need to change before you get the compassionate thing down, but here are a few:I could go on, and on, and on about the scores of examples you've left behind you over the years, such as your record on the death penalty as governor of Texas, but why don't you start with these three? It's an election year, so I know you're trying to make things look better than they are, but we're not being fooled. If you actually did something worthwhile, you might get our attention.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Six Down... 

Dear President Bush,

Your Iraq fact today points out that six women out of twenty-eight total have been installed as deputy ministers in fourteen ministries, so I thought we'd take a look at how other Iraqi women are faring. Not surprisingly, they haven't been doing so well. Generally, fear of leaving the home has prevented many Iraqis from seeking treatment for both physical and mental problems, but it's especially bad for women. Just so you know:
In a recent case handled by [psychiatrist Dr. Maha] al-Salim, a woman, working because her husband's income was low, returned home late one day, so her husband started beating her. "It took us a while to treat her from that traumatic shock afterwards as all she was doing was trying to help the family get a better income," she explained.

Nearly 50 percent of 2,000 households in southern Iraq reported one or more abuses among themselves or household members, including killings, torture or beatings, according to a study released recently by the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), an NGO promoting health by protecting human rights...

The majority of households interviewed also did not allow freedom of movement for women, with restrictions on women's rights, which also had adverse health consequences for women and girls as they were unable to access health services or advocate for their needs.
Now that you've helped six highly educated, eilte women find jobs (and here's hoping they don't become targets because of their new positions), you can move on to the millions of others who need help staying alive.

And I Live By The River 

Dear President Bush,

Salon is reporting that a handful of National Guardsmen are sick because they were exposed to depleted uranium. The military isn't commenting on any diagnoses, but the New York Daily News had nine of them tested and their doctor says that four of them "'almost certainly' inhaled radioactive dust from spent U.S. artillery shells containing depleted uranium." The paper had the testing done because six of the nine contacted them after the Army allegedly refused to look into their illnesses.

That's pretty awful, Mr. President. "The soldiers complained of headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, joint pain and unusually frequent urination." That sounds strangely familiar, doesn't it? But I'm sure this could not have possibly been predicted. Oh, wait, except it totally was. Here are some fun facts from Dr. Doug Rokke, former director of the Army's depleted uranium (DU)project, from a 2003 Tom Paine article:Of course, you actively are complicit in getting these people sick. The same article reminds us of your role:
Meanwhile, in political circles, the White House has dismissed DU issues. On March 18, it issued "Apparatus of Lies," a report which, among other things, attacked claims that DU fallout from Operation Desert Storm has caused higher disease rates among Iraqi citizens. Those claims were part of "Saddam's disinformation and propaganda" campaign, the White House said.
You have been gearing up for a massive number of Gulf War Syndrome cases since before the war even started. I do not know how you can wrap yourself in the flag while knowing full well that thousands of American veterans will be permanently disabled because you wanted extra-lethal bombshells. You disgust me, Mr. President.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Can't Sleep, Clown Will Eat Me 

I am officially going to be a headcase between now and April 15th because I'm running one of the largest events at my university. And I have a midterm the next day because the history department wants to add to their fine collection of exams I've taken when I've been awake for three days.

I'm going to do my very best to put up at least one letter every day, but since I'm going to be living more or less out of my bag for the next week and a half, I'm not betting on them being the most stellar things I've ever written. But who knows? Maybe I'll reach a new level of consciousness and start channeling Thomas Paine. Anyway, forgive me for all poor writing and HTML errors between then and now, and in return I will try not to suck.

New Idea 

Dear President Bush,

I started writing to you last month because I'm fairly confident that you are almost totally uninformed about the world around you. I saw two things today that reminded me of my goal of at least trying to change that regardless of whether or not you are listening. First, we have Billmon, who has collected a series of quotes from various American propaganda machines. Then, there's a post from Josh Marshall on the generally dire situation in Iraq, which contained the following:
This Observer last week relayed a concern that President Bush was not being given accurate reports from Iraq, but today, one assumes that even a President who prides himself on not reading the newspapers now grasps that things are not necessarily proceeding to our advantage, to borrow an historic phrase.
well, I don't like to assume anything about you, Mr. President, so I'm going to add a specific feature to my letters to you modeled on your own Iraq Fact of the Day. My time is going to be somewhat constrained for the next ten days, but I hope to make it a daily addition to your in box.

Let's start with the basics. First, all of these Americans are dead because of your war. The Post doesn't have an exact count (I wanted you to see their faces), but this site outs the number of dead Americans at 617, plus 59 from the UK and 43 from elsewhere. Then, but no less importantly, we have Iraqi civilians who have been killed; they number somewhere between 8,818 and 10,668. All of these numbers are going to get much higher, Mr. President. I'm not going to blame you, because you don't deserve that much credit for anything; I blame the American people, both politicians and regular citizens like me, who allowed you and your friends to get away with starting a war for no real reason. That was pretty stupid of us.

Tomorrow we will start getting into a wider range of topics, but I want you to always think about these people and those who will join them as the first, last and most important thing you're responsible for in Iraq. I don't suspect you will, but I have to try.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Daisies Through Concrete 

Dear President Bush,

You are so busted. The New York Times and the Washington Post are both reporting today that your administration has been collectively lying like a rug about the summer of 2001. From the Times:
A review of the Bush administration's deliberations and actions in the summer of 2001, based on interviews with current and former officials and an examination of the preliminary findings of the commission, shows that the White House's impulse to deal more forcefully with terrorist threats within the United States peaked July 5 and then leveled off until Sept. 11.

The review shows that over that summer, with terror warnings mounting, the government's response was often scattered and inconsistent as the new administration struggled to develop a comprehensive strategy for combating Al Qaeda and other terror organizations.

The warnings during the summer were more dire and more specific than generally recognized. Descriptions of the threat were communicated repeatedly to the highest levels within the White House. In more than 40 briefings, Mr. Bush was told by George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, of threats involving Al Qaeda.
So I guess Gary Hart was right about Tenet. Over at the Post, we have this:
But the broad outline of Clarke's criticism has been corroborated by a number of other former officials, congressional and commission investigators, and by Bush's admission in the 2003 Bob Woodward book "Bush at War" that he "didn't feel that sense of urgency" about Osama bin Laden before the attacks occurred.

In addition, a review of dozens of declassified citations from Clarke's 2002 testimony provides no evidence of contradiction, and White House officials familiar with the testimony agree that any differences are matters of emphasis, not fact. Indeed, the declassified 838-page report of the 2002 congressional inquiry includes many passages that appear to bolster the arguments Clarke has made.
So you'll be asking Sen. Frist to apologize and perhaps resign over calling Clarke a perjurer, right? You can pick on over a million little things that Clarke said or wrote that he didn't perfectly remember; I don't care. The big picture he paints is pretty convincing. Also, you can't seem to recall where you were for a whole year in the early 1970's or whether or not you ever used cocaine, so don't throw stones. Just get on TV and tell us, your constituents, everything you've been lying about or obscuring for the last 30 years. You'll feel better, I promise.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Buy Now, Pay Later 

Dear President Bush,

I have some questions about the contractors who were killed in Fallujah on Wednesday. What happened to them was horrible and inexcusable, but I have to wonder about what they were doing there and if the US should be hiring people like them at all.

To begin, a lot of the headlines called them 'civilians,' but they weren't, were they? They were armed veterans of the most elite units in our armed forces. There are apparently at least ten thousand such contractors in Iraq, more than the number of British troops. I'm not going to go so far as to call all of them mercenaries, but some of the people being paid by my tax dollars honed their skills maintaining apartheid in South Africa or fighting for Pinochet in Chile. Of course, American contractors don't exectly have a bright shining record either. DynCorp employees in Bosnia committed sex crimes on a large scale. None were prosecuted though, because there's no accountability for military contractors who commit crimes.

The lack of accountability is probably attractive to you though, because by using contractors allows you to bypass the Constitutional rules for making war and the American public. You can just send off contractors to do what you want, and if there's a scandal like in Bosnia, you can clutch your pearls and say, "We had no idea, this is in no way our fault, and therefore we will do nothing about it." If they are killed, no one will care except for their families, like in Colombia.

Not all military contractors are commandos or criminals, but I have to wonder what those four men were doing in Fallujah. Supposedly, they were escorting a convoy of food to the Regency Hotel and Hospitality and the convoy managed to get away completely when the crowd attacked. It must be my liberal education talking, but I'm skeptical. Billmon can't seem to find any record of such a company existing and wonders if they weren't really doing something for the CIA. It does seem a little strange that you would need men with such elite training to escort food when you could probably use local people. And why would you send such obvious symbols of the occupation, military contractors riding around in SUV's, in a place like Fallujah, where Americans have been somewhat less than welcome for a long time? I already have one answer about who these men were:
Either the most foolish contractors in the history of mankind or frankly it may have been intelligence people doing intelligence work. I don't know. I was talking to a colonel friend of mine who is over in the Gulf right now, today, about this. And he said, if they're contractors this is Darwinian selection at work.
Do you have anything different to say?

I'm deeply disturbed that these contractors were in Fallujah to die, regardless of why they were there. Why don't you take some of the money you've been paying them and use it to make staying in the professional military a little bit more lucrative? I like having experts, but I've also known people who could potentially work for companies like Blackwater and I'd like them very strictly supervised.

Friday, April 02, 2004

But Who Will Think of the Children? 

Dear President Bush,

I saw this story over at the Right Christians, and thought that it might be good for you the learn a little bit about the kind of hell neglected children are facing in Mississippi. Now, children's services leave a lot to be desired all over the country, but what's going down there is particularly egregious. The Cliff's Notes version is:

Mississippi is also in the habit of sending children back to homes where they will be harmed. In one case, an 18 month old (that's right, months, not years) girl was sexually assaulted, but caseworkers tried to send her back rather than identifying the assailant. Other stories are equally heartwarming:
Among the plaintiffs in the Children's Rights lawsuit are four siblings in Forrest County who were reportedly malnourished and living in an unsafe home. Instead of referring the case to the county's youth court, a caseworker sent the children, ages 2 to 9, to the home of their elderly great-grandmother, who was already struggling to care for six other children, the lawsuit alleged.

When the woman protested, according to the lawsuit, she was told the children would otherwise be given to strangers and she might never see them again. When the woman had a stroke, the caseworker sent the children back to the mother, who had earlier been determined to be unfit.

Court documents cite another plaintiff, Jamison J., 17, who has spent most of his life cycled through 28 foster homes and institutions, some of them abusive. The lawsuit claims the Division of Family and Children's Services ignored opportunities for adoption and later sent the boy back to the home of his mother, where he witnessed the beating of another child. Despite his complaints to a caseworker, the child was later killed by the mother's companion.
There was also the child who was killed for wetting the bed, and the infant who was scalded to death for no reason at all.

Since you're all for the rights of the unborn, as evidenced by your signing of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, I thought that maybe you should take some time today to think about the rights of the born victims of violence.
"This has gone on so long that it's hopeless to expect the state to ever cure the problems on its own," Mr. Drinkwater said. "Part of the problem may be financial, but it's more than that. It's about priorities and abused and neglected children don't have a lobbyist. They have no political influence in the Legislature."
When are you going to start changing that, Mr. President?

I Heart Hart 

Dear President Bush,

Former Senator Gary Hart sure seems to have your number. He's not so pleased with you:
He (meaning you, the President) said, "I don't want Congress to do anything until the vice president advises me." We now know from Dick Clarke that Cheney never held a meeting on terrorism, there was never any kind of discussion on the department of homeland security that we had proposed. There was no vice presidential action on this matter.

In other words, a bipartisan commission of seven Democrats and seven Republicans who had spent two and a half years studying the problem, a group of Americans with a cumulative 300 years in national security affairs, recommended to the president of the United States on a reasonably urgent basis the creation of a Cabinet-level agency to protect our country -- and the president did nothing!
That's right, you were thinking about missiles instead. Because we've been hit by so many throughout American history.

But that's not my favorite part. Sen. Hart is of the opinion that you've got so many smoking guns that they are setting off the White House smoke detectors:
You know why I think George Tenet is still in his job? I think there are smoking guns all over the White House. I think if you crack the White House safe, you're going to find memos from Tenet saying, "The terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming."

So you think the intelligence community was giving Bush information he should have acted on before 9/11?

Precisely. And that's the only explanation I can think of for why no one's been fired. Which leaves open the possibility that the president misled the American people.
I think it's more than a possibility. I cannot wait for all of those skeletons in your closet to start dancing.

It's Document Day 

Dear President Bush,

Today seems to be all about documents. On Wednesday, US District Judge Paul Friedman ordered the White House to release documents that dealt with the Vice President's energy task force. You remember the one I'm talking about; you brought in lobbyists and corporate execs, but you've lied about it and claimed that all members were government employees ever since.

There has been all kinds of outrage over this case, which was appealed to the Supreme Court, because the Vice President used government funds to go duckhunting with Justice Scalia even though they both knew that the case would be in the Court very soon. So here's what we've got so far, Mr. President. Everybody knows that the task force included people who shouldn't have been there and that Scalia will vote in your favor regardless of the majority decision. So what's in the files that could possibly make you look worse than you already do? Are you simply hoping to keep this off the radar of Americans who don't already know that the White House is lying, or is it worse than that?

In any case, I'm hoping that the Supreme Court shoots you and the rest of the boys down. I mean, if they liked you, you would have had the opportunity to fill some spots on the bench by now. Remember, it's not too late to just give it up and hand over the documents. I know it's not your style to avoid giving up information until the last possible minute, but just try it this once. For me.

Less Than Instant Karma 

Dear President Bush,

For a long time, the ratio between the egregious violations of my government you committed and responsible people forcing you to own up to what you did hasn't been very good. I think that's starting to change. I've been paying attention to the Valerie Plame case since last summer, and I've been looking forward Patrick Fitzgerald blasting his way through the wall you've built around the White House for some time, but this is like Christmas:
In looking at violations beyond the original focus of the inquiry, which centered on a rarely used statute that makes it a felony to disclose the identity of an undercover intelligence officer intentionally, prosecutors have widened the range of conduct under scrutiny and for the first time raised the possibility of bringing charges peripheral to the leak itself.
You've wrung your hands publicly, stating that you didn't think we'd ever get to the bottom of who leaked Ms. Plame's identity, but it seems like you were wrong! Aren't you just overcome with joy?

Since your administration has specifically denied the involvement of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, what do you think will happen if and when they get charged with a federal crime? Will Karl Rove be frog-marched out of the White House, providing Joe Wilson and his family the vindication they deserve? This is better than any summer blockbuster.

Friday Funtimes 

Hello out there, all 3.7 of you reading this. This blog is one month old today, and even with a week of vacation, I have written more than forty letters to the President. It is Friday, as well, and since it is such a happy spring day, you all should write a letter to the President as well. It's not good to keep how you think of him bottled up, so go ahead and use the link on the left to vent.

X-Files Stuff 

Dear President Bush,

I think that you need to take a deep breath and calm down. Paul Krugman writes today in his column about how absolutely psychotic your administration is about attacking people who make you look bad, and how CNN helps you out with it.

The whole Letterman thing was just silly. The kid was bored; that's what you get for putting a 14 year old boy right behind you. Surely you can afford a ladder to get over yourself. Spreading rumors about Richard Clarke's personal life and trying to pass him off as mentally unstable is beyond the pale, though. I know that reading can be difficult for you, but as Krugman points out about the mind control paragraph, "it's a literary device, meant to emphasize just how ill conceived our policy is."

Once again I ask you, Mr. President: What happened to restoring dignity to the White House? From where I'm standing, you and your people have done far more to damage our government than anything President Clinton ever did.

The Body Hidden in the Trunk 

Dear President Bush,

What is this nonsense about you withholding documents from the 9-11 Commission? Here's how you made Scott McClellan explain it:
Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said some Clinton administration documents had been withheld because they were "duplicative or unrelated," while others were withheld because they were "highly sensitive" and the information in them could be relayed to the commission in other ways. "We are providing the commission with access to all the information they need to do their job," Mr. McClellan said.
That sort of defeats the point of having a commission, doesn't it? If you know what information they need to do their jobs better than anyone else, then you clearly must know what the answers the Commission is looking for are. So get on TV tonight and explain it all to us.

Unless, Sen. Kerrey is on the right track with his take on the situation. ""If it did happen, it's an unintentional mistake or it's another intentional act of the White House that will backfire." My money's on the latter because you didn't create the most secretive White House in history accidentally.

So what is it going to be, Mr. President? Are you going to hold out like you did with Dr. Rice, or are you going to start acting like a President rather than like an Enron CEO? Give decency a chance, sir.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Take Two 

Dear President Bush,

I believe that what we have here is a failure to communicate. Jesse at Pandagon points us to a story about your administration shortchanging the IRS's ability to investigate those who may be funding terrorists. Your administration's response?
Juan C. Zarate, the deputy assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing, said that "the I.R.S. certainly had a clear vision of how they wanted to allocate the funds, but there is a clear balance that needs to happen in the I.R.S., where they have to balance terrorist-financing investigations with other responsibilities, like drug trafficking and, perhaps most important, enforcement of the tax laws.''
Well, that's interesting because, as you may recall, you are already underfunding the IRS for those responsibilities as well. And next year isn't looking much better.

So what's it going to be, Mr. President? Are you going to fund the IRS or aid terrorists and corporate criminals? Seems like an easy choice to me, so let me know why it's so difficult for you.


Dear President Bush,

Today I woke up and had an epiphany. I realized the importance of nuclear families, the lives of the unborn, tax cuts, allowing men to rule the world, and the place of religion in government. I will definitely be voting for you the November because of I hate poor people, women, gays, and all those icky minorities. I also want to be able to carry a concealed weapon as often as possible. I think this change in outlook may have had something to do with the Chick tracts I was reading the other day. But sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I have to say, "April Fools!" I really had you going there for a minute, didn't I? I would never vote for you. That would be un-American.

But moving on to more substantive matters, I'm a little concerned about what's going on at the Treasury Department. Apparently, my tax money has been spent paying civil servants to analyze Democratic economic plans at the request of Tom Delay. The party line on this, so to speak, is that it's a good thing to analyze all possible plans to test their viability. That's true, but when the resulting analysis is distributed posthaste not only to Republican politicians, but to the Republican National Committee and other "interest groups," a line has been crossed. Your treasury secretary has also been busy putting forth your agenda all over the country.

Interestingly, some Republicans were very upset at John Snow's predecessor, Lawrence Summers, for merely saying that Republican proposals dealing with Social Security were "highly problematic" back in 2000. So when are you going to stop politicizing our various departments? I know that Scott McClellan said that he was unaware of the White House approving the Treasury Department's decision to act on Delay's request, but excuse me, I need to stand up because there are monkeys flying out of my butt. Okay, despite it being Spring Quarter of my senior year in college, some of my brain cells still work. There is no way that you didn't approve this.

Therefore, in the interest of nonpartisan analysis and discussion of the economy, I ask you to call for a full analysis of your economic policies to be performed at the direction of Democrats. I think this would be a fair according to the standards you just set.

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