Tuesday, December 28, 2004


2004 in Review -- From a Liberal Perspective

Sometimes I wonder why I still bother reading the drivel that comes out of the mainstream press. I mean, it's not like my blood pressure will shoot up or anything since it's quite low. I guess I just can't believe these people are for real.

Eleanor Clift, in my view, the heiress apparent to Helen Thomas' throne believes the following items should have received more attention from the MSM in 2004:

American casualties in Iraq: Supporters of the war cite the relatively low number of U.S. military fatalities (now around 1,300) compared to the 58,000 deaths in Vietnam. But coverage rarely focuses on the wounded, whose official number is close to 10,000. If you include those who have developed mental disabilities as a result of the stressful urban warfare, the rate of injured climbs to more than 30,000. And the number of those killed or hurt in two years of fighting in Iraq is greater than the number for the first four years of the Vietnam conflict.

So Ms. Clift would have liked to have even more coverage of the American dead, all the better to erode the resolve of the American people in fighting this war on terror. What about the casualties in Afghanistan? Somehow I don't think she would be as interested in that.

Civilian deaths in Iraq: The U.S. military doesn’t keep count of “collateral damage,” but a report by researchers affiliated with Johns Hopkins indicates that 100,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the American invasion. Supporters of the war say that’s an exaggeration, but even if it’s only 10 percent accurate, 10,000 innocent Iraqis lost their lives in the cross-fire between their countrymen and an invading army.

It seems to me that liberals have a very hard time placing the blame where it's rightfully due. Civilian casualties are a sad fact of life in any war. But it's not the Americans who are causing them. How about the cowardly insurgents who think nothing of hiding inside mosques and amongst women and children, in essence, using them as human shields?

Stress and strain on National Guard and Reserves: John Kerry called the Pentagon’s reliance on these part-time soldiers to fill out the U.S. presence in Iraq a back-door draft. Forty percent of the 150,000 troops serving in Iraq are Guard and Reserves. They’re not youngsters, and interrupting their lives entails enormous social cost that will take its toll in failed marriages, children left behind, stalled careers and reduced productivity.

The only time any liberal gives a flying monkey's fart about the American military is when the army (in this case, one of VOLUNTEERS) acts in defending our interests.

Cost of the war: John Kerry was accused of exaggerating during the campaign when he said the war cost $200 billion. George Bush waited until after the election to ask for more funding and Congress is anticipating another “supplemental” budget request when it assembles next year. The cost of the war is now well over $200 billion and counting. Yet Bush wants to make his tax cuts permanent, making him the first wartime president to cut taxes rather than raise them to pay for his war.

Well if you feel the main role of the government should be that of a sugar daddy, as opposed to it's real responsibility of protecting its citizens from the initiation of physical force, and protecting their property rights, then I can see how this figure might seem excessive.

Health-care insurance—its cost and access: Bush convened an economic summit to gin up a phony crisis in Social Security, which he proposes to solve by partially privatizing the program and borrowing the trillion dollars in start-up money it would cost. The summit was a Potemkin village that ignored the far more immediate crisis of 45 million Americans without health-care coverage.

Now to be fair, I don't think that frivolous malpractice suits are the only thing responsible for the spiraling cost of health insurance. There's also the issue of state mandates. And quite frankly, I've never heard of any politician addressing this.

The useless Star Wars program: The Pentagon delayed the latest test of this fanciful idea until after the election, and when the emerging technology flunked the test, a Pentagon spokesman insisted it didn’t fail, that it was “incomplete.” Such Orwellian language has given rise to a popular bumper sticker in Washington: BUSH-ORWELL ’04. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. A missile-defense system is religion to the right. Conservatives believe in it as an act of faith. Even though the more likely threats to the nation come from a suitcase bomb, the Bush administration continues to pour billions into Star Wars, a construct of the cold war.

So let me get this straight. When the United States wants to build up its defenses, in this dangerous day and age, it's simply a "useless Stars Wars program?" It seems like I only hear the term "Star Wars" used to describe the U.S. Was it "Star Wars" when the USSR was arming to the teeth? Is it "Star Wars" when the Iranians are enriching uranium to build nukes? Is North Korea having nukes also "Star Wars." Ms. Clift blanks out here.

The assault on the teaching of evolution: We thought this was settled 79 years ago at the 1925 trial of a high-school biology teacher in Tennessee, when celebrated defense attorney Clarence Darrow represented John Scopes in the legendary Scopes "monkey trial.” Now Christian fundamentalists are hawking a new theory, intelligent design, which posits a God-like figure overseeing evolution. Critics call it “creationism dressed up in a lab coat.” What’s next? The earth is really flat?

Hate to break it to you, Ms. Clift, but America is a religious country where most people believe that human beings are more than just highly evolved animals. I think it's safe to say that once you start viewing people as only sophisticated animals, you're just a short step away from excusing all sorts of immoral behavior/actions. And to me, it seems like THAT'S what the Christian fundamentalists ultimately want to convey.

The dominance of right-wing media: It’s a food chain to die for—first Drudge, then Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, then The Wall Street Journal. When they get hold of a story, they can make it a blockbuster. Going into the Christmas season, they made the word “secular” sound worse than liberal. When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg referred to the “holiday tree” in Rockefeller Plaza and not the Christmas tree, he was accused of being a secularist.

Good Heavens! There goes that big bad dominant right wing media! So CBS, ABC NBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times, the Associated Press, Reuters, and the nauseating National Public Radio with their constipated sounding commentators are just not enough for Ms. Clift.

For the full commentary, click here.

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