Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Hometown comes through

What is your home town?

How do you define that? Is it the place you live now? The place you were born? The place you spent most of your life? The place where your ‘heart’ is?

I’ve always had trouble answering the question “Where are you from” since my family moved so much when I was young… I never felt comfortable or “at home” any place, But I usually answered that I was from Louisville Ky, since that was where I was born, where much of my family lived, and where I had some of the best memories of my youth.

Louisville has come through for me again. In a state which is strongly pro-Bush, the Louisville Courier Journal has endorsed Kerry. I’m sure this stand will cost them in the largely reactionary state. In fact, they have endorsed him in one of the most cogent and damning indictments of the inept Bush adminisitration I have read.

I am, again, willing to admit to being a Kentuckian. Thank you, Courier-Journal.

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The Courier-Journal’s endorsement of John Kerry
President Bush stands for re-election next week as one of the most divisive chief executives in the country’s history.

It did not have to be that way. After the bitterly contested race in 2000, the President had an opportunity to recognize that his mandate was limited and to make good on his campaign promise to be a “uniter, not a divider.”

Then came the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001. Putting aside their differences, Americans stood shoulder to shoulder behind the President in their determination to defend the nation, defeat the criminals who had perpetrated mass murder, and combat global terrorism.

What the President delivered, however, was a dismal mixture of radicalism, recklessness and incompetence.

Fortunately, Americans have an appealing alternative. Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, has demonstrated, particularly during the televised debates, breadth of knowledge, ability to understand complex issues, and sound judgment qualities that have been missing from Mr. Bush’s stewardship.

Sen. Kerry offers hope of strong, responsible leadership in the White House. We endorse him enthusiastically.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that this election is primarily a referendum on Mr. Bush’s performance.

That record is highlighted by a rush into a tragic and unnecessary war, irresponsible tax cuts that threaten to crush future generations with debt and a poisonous subservience to right-wing domestic causes.

Following the 9/11 attacks, the President’s initial gut instinct was sound to pursue terrorists aggressively overseas in their own breeding grounds.

But after a necessary military campaign to dislodge al-Qaida forces and their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan, the President’s “war on terrorism” began unraveling.

A chance to capture Osama bin Laden was bungled by turning the job over to Afghan warlords. Too little aid and too few peacekeeping troops were sent to Afghanistan to stabilize the country more fully.

Most disastrously, the President became distracted by Iraq.

Invoking his doctrine of pre-emptive war, Mr. Bush cited a danger (Iraqi weapons of mass destruction) and a relationship (between Iraq and al-Qaida) that turned out not to exist. In his rush to war, his administration deceived the American people, alienated traditional American allies and polarized the nation by suggesting that those who opposed its war policy were unpatriotic.

In the aftermath of the invasion, it became clear that planning for the post-war period was inept. Too few troops were deployed, and costs were grossly underestimated.

A chaotic mess ensued:

A bloody insurrection. An infrastructure that was repaired slowly, or not at all. Massive unemployment among Iraqis. A scarcity of nations willing to contribute troops or money. The Abu Ghraib prison scandal that shocked world opinion and unfairly tarnished America’s brave soldiers.

Meanwhile, Iraq became the haven for terrorists that it had not been before. Recruitment for al-Qaida soared. Nuclear weapons programs of Iran and North Korea steamed ahead.

The President insisted he had made America safer. That boast seems laughable.

On the domestic anti-terror front, Mr. Bush has talked tough but accomplished far too little. He made sweeping assertions of presidential authority to suspend constitutional rights and to hold even American citizens indefinitely without trial. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has rejected some of his most outrageous claims.

Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Justice Department has produced a series of bungled prosecutions. Homeland Security officials issue alarming but useless color-coded alerts. And not nearly enough has been done to secure America’s borders, ports, bridges, and chemical and power plants.

The centerpiece of the President’s domestic efforts, however, has been irresponsible tax slashing that propelled a surplus toward record deficits.

Mr. Bush is not to blame that he inherited an economy sliding into recession.

It is his fault, however, that he proposed grossly excessive tax breaks and designed them to benefit chiefly the very richest Americans. They were an inadequate stimulus to the economy and to job creation. Mr. Bush remains the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a net loss of jobs in his term.

Moreover, in persisting with tax cuts even as he led the nation into Afghanistan and Iraq, the President broke a bipartisan tradition dating to Abraham Lincoln of raising taxes to pay for war. And as Congress passed a series of self-serving spending bills, he failed to use his veto power even once.

Meanwhile, under Mr. Bush, environmental protection regulations have been systematically weakened. Medical researchers have been stymied by stem-cell limitations to appease right-to-life zealots. An energy policy was drafted in secrecy with industry captains. The President’s No Child Left Behind law, while well-intentioned, became an underfunded and intrusive burden for the states. His judicial nominees have often been ideologues of questionable ability.

John Kerry can do better.

Despite Bush campaign propaganda to the contrary, Sen. Kerry shows strong resolve in fighting terror at home and abroad, and in pursuing the best possible outcome in Iraq.

His determination to work cooperatively with foreign leaders, whenever possible, is critical. The Bush administration’s arrogant unilateralism is unsustainable. The United States must have effective partnerships to deal with metastasizing terrorism and nuclear threats, and Sen. Kerry understands this.

At home, he has a record of bipartisan cooperation. He is a defender of civil rights and opportunity for minorities. He has offered creative proposals regarding health care, and he would reverse the stem-cell restrictions. He recognizes that global warming is a legitimate environmental danger.

Moreover, Sen. Kerry is the real fiscal conservative in this race, and he has a long history as a deficit hawk. His plans for controlling spending are unclear, but his determination to roll back the tax cuts for families making more than $200,000 annually would be a good start to restoring fiscal sanity.

Sooner or later, most of Mr. Bush’s handiwork will have to be undone.

Americans would do well to let Mr. Kerry get started.

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