My Quiet Life My Quiet Life

my vote

I voted on Saturday. It should be no surprise to any of you that read this blog regularly to learn that I voted for John Kerry.

Here, at long last, I have decided to write as briefly and persuasively as I can my case for voting for John Kerry. I realize this is late in coming, since we’re now a week from November 2, but better late than never. I don’t have time to elaborate at length on my own, so what I am going to do is target the issues most important to me, and cite the references that have most influenced me in my decision-making. This will be a whirlwind tour, so forgive me: I have a lot of ground to cover.

Economics

My reason for voting for Kerry and for any Democrat is primarily economic. Economics is a pet interest of mine, and it’s an issue that I believe trumps all others. At the end of the day, little is more important to most people than food in their bellies, and a roof over their head. In general, I owe a great deal to writers like Paul Krugman, JK Galbraith, and Brad Delong, whose blog is a favorite of mine. The CBPP (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) has also been an indispensable source of non-partisan analysis.

The track record of this Bush administration, and indeed, Republicans in general, in managing this economy has been abysmal. Richard Kogan, from the CBPP, has summarized this fact brilliantly in this document (PDF). Unlike the CBPP’s analysis, this is decidedly partisan – and for good reason. From the introduction:

Solid, factual information about the budget and the economy can be hard to get; even though much information is publicly available, you have to know where to look. I do, because I have been employed as an analyst of the federal budget for the last three decades.1 The budget figures in this memo are entirely from official government sources, so the data are prepared by civil servants in the employ of Republican appointees. I ll cite the sources in the endnotes (lowercase Roman numerals) so you can check my arithmetic for yourself. Let me be clear – the numbers are not, or should not be, in dispute. If you don t like the budgetary or economic results, you can vote Democratic (my recommendation), or decide you are voting for Bush for reasons other than his budgetary policies. But you cannot reasonably challenge the facts.

I don’t just link to that PDF to quote from it. Read it. It’s the most stunning condemnation of this administration and represents the primary reason why I am voting against them.

I believe that our government’s management of social security, medicare and medicaid to be one of the most important issues of the day, and JK Galbraith succinctly clarifies the situation in an article originally on salon.com found here.

Foreign Policy

The spectre of terrorism is being used by the Bush administration to cultivate a culture of fear in this country, and their fear-mongering is despicable and inexcusable. That said, it’s a grave issue for our country, inexorably tied up with our foreign policy in general. Josh Marshall has a great essay in Foreign Affairs detailing the pre-eminent force influencing this administration (and others), the so-called neo-conservatives.

Terrorism

Despite the fact that this administration is using terrorism and 9/11 as an excuse for everything from tax cuts to unprecedented civil liberty violations, it’s a very real problem. And it’s one that the United States is largely responsible for. During the cold war, we funded, equipped and trained Afghani rebels in order to combat the Soviet “menace” (which utterly collapsed in less than a decade) in Afghanistan. The CIA, with Pakistan, also utilized religious symbolism and fervor to drum up a “jihad” against the Soviets, importing radical recruits from all over the world. These Mujaheddin and their legacy are the very enemy we are now fighting in the loosely knit ideological group called “Al Qaeda”. Mahmood Mamdani discusses this briefly in this essay and at length in his book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim.

Naturally, the fact that we created this monster doesn’t mean that it isn’t a problem, that we shouldn’t fight it, or that it excuses their disgusting methods. But, you know, considering that many of the same men responsible for the foreign policy in the Cold War during the Reagan administration have also held positions of authority in this administration (Perle, Feith, Rumsfeld, etc etc.), maybe it’s time to give the heave-ho to the geniuses that got us in this position to begin with and go from there.

Iraq

Iraq was a mistake. I can’t begin to speculate on the true reasoning the Bush administration had for invading Iraq, but it was a mistake. Iraq was not a threat to us or our neighbors (unlike, say, Iran or North Korea, due to this administration’s complete reversal on global nuclear deproliferation). The “WMD” debacle goes without saying, but some have argued in turn that there was a humanitarian justification for this war. There was not. Ken Roth’s essay on this is perhaps the best rebuttal of any such claim. From its conclusion:

… the invasion of Iraq failed to meet the test for a humanitarian intervention. Most important, the killing in Iraq at the time was not of the exceptional nature that would justify such intervention. In addition, intervention was not the last reasonable option to stop Iraqi atrocities. Intervention was not motivated primarily by humanitarian concerns. It was not conducted in a way that maximized compliance with international humanitarian law. It was not approved by the Security Council. And while at the time it was launched it was reasonable to believe that the Iraqi people would be better off, it was not designed or carried out with the needs of Iraqis foremost in mind.

Further, if anything this excursion into Iraq has made us far less safe – over-extending our military and de-stabilizing a nation in an already volatile region. On a topical note, just today, the NYT reports that nearly 380 tons of explosives (RDX and HMX) in Iraq have gone missing. RDX is the primary component of C4. It only took 400-700 lbs or so to blow a hole in the USS Cole.

After the invasion, when widespread looting began in Iraq, the international weapons experts grew concerned that the Qaqaa stockpile could fall into unfriendly hands. In May, an internal I.A.E.A. memorandum warned that terrorists might be helping “themselves to the greatest explosives bonanza in history.”

This is the price we pay for mocking and maligning the international community and organizations who, it turns out, had a pretty firm grasp on the situation in Iraq.