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September 29, 2005

From the Publisher

One nation, under Bush


We have been publishing the Journal for 15 years -- weekly since 1998. It is a fact that many a night before we go to press, I have a little insomnia. I often wake up thinking, what are we doing with our three dozen or so pages this week -- this opportunity we have to speak to a large percentage of Humboldt County households? It's worse when I am writing a column like I am this week. I know that out of the 22,000 people who pick up this paper, someone out there is reading. In addition, there is a pretty good chance that person might take their copy home or pass it on to a friend or leave it on the table in the coffee shop -- free newspapers are apparently read by 2.7 bodies each. Well, you can understand my anxiety.

It's also a fact that whatever we print, whatever we choose for a cover story or column topic, it will not satisfy you, the reader. Often letter writers ask, why is the Journal wasting space on that when there are so many important things to write about? Especially in times like these when the national and international news trumps any local issue of the day we attempt to cover. (All I could do the morning of Tuesday, 9/11, was write my column with a heavy heart and go to press with a cover story on whether or not some run-down, marginally historic buildings in downtown Eureka should be preserved. They were eventually bulldozed, by the way.)

So if I can't satisfy many of you anyway this week, I will use this space to tell you exactly what's on my mind. But first, a preface: Although I am a life-long Democrat, I have many Republican friends. I have respect for and enjoy the company of people who are honest, hardworking, generous with whatever they've got, and caring -- people who spend time beyond their immediate family trying to solve problems or work toward the betterment of their community. Some of those people are Democrats. Some are Greens. Some happen to be Republicans.

But at the risk of offending my Republican friends this week (and please don't stop reading), what I don't understand is how George Bush was ever elected president of this country. (Some say he wasn't, but get over it.) Worse, I don't understand how he was reelected.

Reflecting on the guiding principles of the Republican and Democratic parties this week, I feel like I've fallen down Alice's rabbit hole. For eight years under Clinton, we whittled down the national debt and lowered trade barriers that disproportionately, ultimately hurt the poor. Clinton's mantra was fiscal responsibility, sometimes irritating party loyalists and trade unions. (NAFTA, anyone?) That Democratic president used his pulpit to educate us and to urge us to become more self-reliant and less government-dependent. Government can help, but cannot solve all our social problems and it certainly can't solve the world's problems through the use of force either. We should use our awesome military power when necessary, use it judiciously, but we cannot be the world's police. For the most part, our foreign policy earned us respect abroad. And human rights and civil rights mattered. (I am grateful that man was not my husband, but as my president, he did a good job.)

Under Bush, we don't have less government -- we have more. Under Bush, our national debt has soared and the wealthy grow wealthier. We have allowed public policy to fuel this housing bubble with the lowest interest rates in history. No matter, many cynically say; the public won't pay much attention to all those zeros come next election time.

Under Bush, for the first time in recent history we invaded a sovereign nation without provocation. (The attacks of 9/11 were carried out primarily by Saudis.) If that weren't embarrassing enough -- wrong country -- I read this week that the Italian government has issued arrest warrants for a dozen or so Americans who apparently kidnapped an Italian citizen in Italy and flew him to a country that is somewhat lax when it comes to extracting information. For this, we have a new vocabulary word: rendition. And now, we learn that the U.S. Navy was part of these clandestine operations, providing the airplanes.

Finally, under Bush -- four years after 9/11 -- we were unable as a nation to quickly mobilize our government resources to help our own people when disaster struck, a disaster we knew was all too likely to happen. And it was a disaster that was aided and abetted by something we also know quite a bit about: vanishing wetlands.

During the initial evacuation, we also got a pretty stark reminder that, under Bush, the gap continues to grow between the rich and poor in this country, and that those poor are disproportionately black.

We should all be ashamed as a nation. I don't believe this president is an evil man. Just incompetent.



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