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Monday, 2 August 2004

On the Issues

Some anonymous commenter posted that "[Kerry] can't get every liberal because if he differs on one issue, [Progressives are] off and running to the Green Party and thus useless, politically." One issue? excuse me?

I want to explain what issues (note the plural) are important to me, why they're personally important to me and what Kerry said about them, vs what Greens and Bush think about them.

Women's Rights

Some people think that women and men are already equal in this country. In fact, women now earn $0.44 per dollar earned by men. When I was a senior in high school, that number was higher than $0.70 per men's dollar. Women are not doing as well as men and, in fact, we're slipping. In my industries, the number of women engineers falls every year. There are fewer than three women conductors of major orchestras in the US (the women's phil just shut down), most grad students in composition are men, most composers programmed at festivals are men, and generally, work by women composers stops being played once they're dead. This does happen so much to men. Women are also consistently written out of music history. Pauline Oliveros was one of the founders of the San Francisco Tape Music Center. I picked up a book recently that said it was founded by Morton Subotnic and some other guy, but they allowed unkown composers like Oliveros to use the facilities. She's not dead and she's already being erased.

Kerry Says

My mother was the rock of our family as so many mothers are. She stayed up late to help me do my homework. She sat by my bed when I was sick . . .. And by the power of her example, she showed me that we can and must finish the march toward full equality for all women in our country.

My dad did the things that a boy remembers. He gave me my first model airplane, my first baseball mitt and my first bicycle.

I think women should have equal rights, but I'm not a fag. Also, my family followed normal gender roles. There is no lack of heteronormativity here. Model airplanes, baseball mitts and bikes are boy toys. Those things aren't important to girls. Also, I'm not a fag.

This was the first point in which Kerry gave and then Kerry took away. Almost every strong statement he made was immediately softened or negated. I don't think his asserting his masculinity is necessarily problematic and I understand that he is using cultural biases without thinking about them or endorsing them, but this pattern of advance then retreat is repeated throughout the speech


I will reach out to all anti-choice women. I will pay lip service to the idea of women's rights.


Full equality for women

Queer Rights

I came out in 1992. I was 16 and attending Catholic Highschool. Before I came out, I was the subject of rumors and harassment. I was harassed and hit in the locker room for my PE class. After I came out, things actually got much better. However, kids would attempt to harass me by chant "dyke dyke dyke" at me as I walked by, but gave up when I didn't react. I had to threaten to sue my school in order to take my girlfriend to prom in 1994. I still try to get in and out of locker rooms and bathrooms as fast as possible, because I fear getting beat up.

Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which means that my marriage to Christi is/was not recognized by the federal government, which affected my taxes for 2003. Californians passed a proposition against gay marriage rights, which also affected my taxes. I spent time arguing with my insurance company about whether I should qualify for a married rate and they said no because of the CA law. In short, I've been financially discriminated against. the same year that DOMA passed, ENDA didn't and still hasn't. companies in many many states are still free to fire queer employees for being queer. Anti-gay violence continues. Violence against trans people is extremely high. I'm often read as trans, which is part of the reason I have bathroom angst.

Kerry says

let's never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States.

A clear reference to the anti gay marriage amendment. But he never said so specifically. He never said anything about queers. Obama said something about having gay friends in red states. Kerry wouldn't go that far. Kerry has stated that he's against gay marriage. Like Clinton, he wants to deny me full equality. He wants me to be a second class citizen. He also wants to remind all of us that he's not a fag.


god doesn't like fags. Let's ammend the constitution against fags. Isn't there a way we can make gay bashing legal? I will attempt to appeal to gay conservatives.


Full equality for queers


I have health insurance now, cuz I'm in school, but I didn't have it for two or three years. I talked to my insurance agent about it (the same one who said that I should just drop Christi from my car insurance, no they wouldn't consider her my spouse.) and he quoted me a price of hundreds of dollars a month. I decided that the chances of me having a catostrophic health event were low enough that it wasn't worth paying in. The only thing that would make the high price worth it would be a catostrophic event. I am young and healthy and not particularly high risk for anything and the cost was insanely high. For many people, it would be completely out of reach. However, I'm lucky I even had the option to pay an arm and a leg for it. I talked to some folks with diabetes who could not get health insurance at all. Companies simply refused to insure them. They paid all of their health costs out of pocket and hoped somethign worse didn't happen to them. The US is the only first world country on earth which does not have socialized medicine. Europeans are horrified by these stories. Canadians are horrified by these stories. If a Canadian gets sick, they can go to the doctor. If it's time for a European to have a checkup, they call and make an appointment. Their healthcare costs are lower than the US because there are not for-profit institutions taking a cut. Candian medicine is cheaper because they have price controls. We could have those too if we wanted them. Implementing a Canadian-style health insurance program would lessen the cost of doing buisiness, because companies would not have to pay health costs anymore. Having people wait until they need to go to an emergency room before they get help is tremendously expensive. It costs taxpayers more. And people who don't have health insurance tend to be in poorer health when they're older, regardless of income level. Because they don't get checkups. We pay more to give people less. People die because of our lack of healthcare in this country.

The biggest issue I have with healthcare, however, is what happened to my mother. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and went to a Tennant-owned hospital for brain surgery. That hospital, like all Tennant hospitals, was double-billing insurance companies for care. Her insurance company paid double for her surgery. (Outside the ICU there was a crooked sign ona a plastic pillar and it explained that cutting costs was a "pillar" of how that hospital was run. Not very confidence inspriring. Cut costs plus charging twice as much equals huge profits. But for who and at whose expense? How ethical could it possibly be to make a profit off of a brain tumor?)

the reccomended follow up treatment included physical therapy, occupational therapy (that's where you re-learn to function in daily life) and speech therapy. It also included chemo therapy and radiation treatment. the insurance company paid for occupational and phyisical therapists because being able to talk without falling was a safety issue. They refused to cover speech therapy. The other two therapies were clearly helping improve her quality of life. But her speech did not improve. She was muted. Sometimes, you cannot pay for services out of pocket because systems are not in place to allow it and this was one of those times.

they similarly refused to cover chemo or readiation therapy. We went back and forth. Lawyers got involved. finally, the day the brain surgeon said was the last possible date, the insurance comapny approved. The radiologist was freaking out about how long the process took. She had my mom come in that afternoon. Not having insurance approval meant that she hadn't been able to start working on a treatment plan. Radiation is usually direct targetted at cancerous areas to kill tumors but hurt the rest of the brain as alittle as possible. For the next two or three days, the radiologists irradiated my mother's entire head, because she didn't have a plan yet and something needed to happen immediately

My mom was over 65 and qualified for medicare, but there's a lag after signing up and the hospital couldn't figure out how to switch insurance at that point. My dad tried to pay out of pocket, put it on a credit card, whatever and the billing office said they could only deal with insurance companies. People talk about how the rich get better healthcare. Being rich in that case doesn't just mean being able to pay for it, it means being able to buy the hospital. Only the upper 1% get anythig like adequate health coverage.

Sometimes I wonder if my mom would still be alive if her insurance company hadn't tried to save some money by denying her care. The insurance company isn't still alive. Smarting from Tennant price gouging and other problems, they filed for bankruptcy and were taken over by the state while my mom was in hospice care.

People have all sorts of speculation about how government health might be terrible. It's not the experience of Canada. It's not the experience of Europe. And whetever we had, it could not be as bad as what happened to my mom.

Kerry Says

And we value health care that's affordable and accessible for all Americans.

Since 2000, four million people have lost their health insurance. Millions more are struggling to afford it.

You know what's happening. Your premiums, your co-payments, your deductibles have all gone through the roof.

Our health care plan for a stronger America cracks down on the waste, greed, and abuse in our health care system and will save families up to $1,000 a year on their premiums. You'll get to pick your own doctor - and patients and doctors, not insurance company bureaucrats, will make medical decisions. Under our plan, Medicare will negotiate lower drug prices for seniors. And all Americans will be able to buy less expensive prescription drugs from countries like Canada.

The story of people struggling for health care is the story of so many Americans. But you know what, it's not the story of senators and members of Congress. Because we give ourselves great health care and you get the bill. Well, I'm here to say, your family's health care is just as important as any politician's in Washington, D.C.

And when I'm President, America will stop being the only advanced nation in the world which fails to understand that health care is not a privilege for the wealthy, the connected, and the elected - it is a right for all Americans.

Great. We can buy health insurance. Just like my mom bought health insurance. We can cut down on waste and greed, but the profit motive will still exist because we will still not have nationalized healthcare. All of us, whetehr we have diabetes or not, will be able to pay hundreds of dollars a month for healthcare that will refuse to cover basic services like speech therapy or raditaiton therapy. I'm so inspried. Oh, and no price caps on medicine. We'll do Canadian imports rather than ever ever ever regulate drug company profiteering. Nationalized healthcare would be cheaper and more effective and save americans (the middle class, you know) oodles of money and allow for a higher standard of lving, but the insurance companies must be able to make a profit. Otherwise, how can they write checks for campaign contributions?

Bush says

Sure, I can agree with that. Drug coverage for seniors, sure! Health insurance *snicker* reforms, no problem! They'll look almost identical to Kerrys. Canadian imports tho, they must be stopped. That's a huge campaign issue. We can campaign on Candian imports. And we'll never ever ever regulate drug company profiteering.

Green Party

Nationalized healthcare

International Organizations

My cousin was a WHO scientist. She got funds from the federal government and the UN to fight preventable parasite-bourne diseases. Her work has had direct applications. Who knows how many lives have been saves as a result of her work. The UN is a cooperative institution where nations try to work together to find joint strategies to solve world problems. They do a lot of good in the world. I support them. they also provide a forum for countries to peacefully settle their disputes, thus sometimes preventing wars. Going to the UN means acting cooperatively with other nations to solve problems for the good of everyone. what a nifty idea.

Kerry says

I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.

Bush agrees

I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.

Green Party

We need to pay the dues we owe to the UN. We need to use them to resolve disputes. We need to obey international law.


I am privledged not to have a personal story about war. I protested the war in Iraq. The US has bombed scads of countries since World War II. We're at war with the entire world, especially the third world. We bombed medicine factories in Africa under Clinton (which we did not rebuild. People and livestock are still dying without medicine.). We bombed Iraq under Bush, Clinton and Bush. We bombed Yugoslavia under Clinton. We bombed. We bombed. We bombed. We have troops all over the world, occupying the phillipines, keeping the Korean war going, geatting involved in local conflicts. We also have mercenaires, recruited from Special Forces all over the damn place, including in Columbia where we are directly involved in a decades-long civil war. We're killing peasants because they might be marxist. We've invaded Hati and Panama how many times now? Our institution at Fornt Benning, formerly called The School of the Americas continues to train south american death squads in torture techniques. The CIA continues to provide countries with american-made electrical shocking streips that you can put between people's teeth. We continue to make and supply our applies with handcuff which will rip up the captive's wrists if they try to escape. We continue to make, sell and use landmines. We continue also to fight the anti-landmine treaties. They keep killing people decades after the war is over. So what? the victims are never people who matter. We are the number one rogue and terrorist stae in the world, by our own definitions of terroism.

Kerry says

(skip to comments)

And as I thank them, we all join together to thank that whole generation for making America strong, for winning World War II, winning the Cold War, and for the great gift of service . . .

And then I reached across the aisle to work with John McCain, to find the truth about our POW's and missing in action, and to finally make peace with Vietnam.

I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. . ..

My fellow Americans, this is the most important election of our lifetime. The stakes are high. We are a nation at war - a global war on terror against an enemy unlike any we have ever known before. . ..

. . . on behalf of the middle class who deserve a champion, and those struggling to join it who deserve a fair shot - for the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day and the families who pray for their return - for all those who believe our best days are ahead of us - for all of you - with great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for President of the United States. . ..

And in this journey, I am accompanied by an extraordinary band of brothers led by that American hero, a patriot named Max Cleland. Our band of brothers doesn't march together because of who we are as veterans, but because of what we learned as soldiers. We fought for this nation because we loved it and we came back with the deep belief that every day is extra. We may be a little older now, we may be a little grayer, but we still know how to fight for our country. . ..

Remember the hours after September 11th, when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran up the stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon. When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation's Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.

I am proud that after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. How we wish it had stayed that way.

Now I know there are those who criticise me for seeing complexities - and I do - because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.

As President, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system - so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics. And as President, I will bring back this nation's time-honoured tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.

I know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can't tell friend from foe. I know what they go through when they're out on patrol at night and they don't know what's coming around the next bend. I know what it's like to write letters home telling your family that everything's all right when you're not sure that's true.

As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent." So lesson one, this is the only justification for going to war.

And on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.

I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.

Here is the reality: that won't happen until we have a president who restores America's respect and leadership -- so we don't have to go it alone in the world.

And we need to rebuild our alliances, so we can get the terrorists before they get us.

I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President. Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.

We will add 40,000 active duty troops - not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure. We will double our special forces to conduct terrorist operations. uh, to conduct anti-terrorist operations. We will provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives - and win the battle. And we will end the backdoor draft of National Guard and reservists.

To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way.

As President, I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower.

In these dangerous days there is a right way and a wrong way to be strong. Strength is more than tough words. After decades of experience in national security, I know the reach of our power and I know the power of our ideals.

We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to and not just feared.

We need to lead a global effort against nuclear proliferation - to keep the most dangerous weapons in the world out of the most dangerous hands in the world.

We need a strong military and we need to lead strong alliances. And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win. The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom.

And the front lines of this battle are not just far away - they're right here on our shores, at our airports, and potentially in any town or city. Today, our national security begins with homeland security. The 9-11 Commission has given us a path to follow, endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and the 9-11 families. As President, I will not evade or equivocate; I will immediately implement the recommendations of that commission. We shouldn't be letting ninety-five per cent of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected. We shouldn't be leaving our nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection. And we shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America. . ..

You see that flag up there. We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of you here and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with. . ..

You don't value families if you force them to take up a collection to buy body armour for a son or daughter in the service, if you deny veterans health care . . .

I learned a lot about these values on that gunboat patrolling the Mekong Delta . . .

whoah. way to get your war on. Look at the sheer amount of war topics and war imagry. He wants a bigger military. He wants to kill the terrorists. And forget resolving disputes in the UN, cuz they don't get veto power over our national security. Four years of Kerry means four more years of dropping bombs all over the world. the perpetual "war on terror," will continue. and you know, this isn't a war "against an enemy unlike any we have ever known before." We had a war on terror in the 80's. Under Regan. All the same guys were in it as are in it right now. Back then, the "war on terror" meant genocide in Guatemala. It meant bombing Nicurauga. It meant supporting Hussein in his war with Iran. We're going to find out that this "war on terror" means all the same things. Fighting against peasants who want to improve their lives in favor of monied interests and punishing countries who dare to defy those same omnied interests. Our war on terror is interlinked with our war on drugs. We brought crack into poor neighborhoods to finance our terror war in the 80's. Now we are at perpetual war with the poor at home and abroad. One is the domestic front (i'm sorry, i meant to say "homeland") and the other is the international front. Oh, and Kerry voted for the Partiot act. Our homeland will get more and mroe secure. Just like there are no drugs in innercity neighborhoods. And all with the help of giving up all of our rights to fight an unwinnable pseudo-war. The war on terror means attacking any defenseless country or any site in any defenseless country at will. that pharmicutical plant destroyed by Clinton? We said it was an al Qaeda bioweapons plant. This isn't new. It's just more out in the open. It means sending Special Forces to conduct terrorist operations instead of sending mercenaries. Is having a giant army all over the world making us safer? will it ever make us safer? no, it's just goign to give people reason to fight assymetric warfare against us. If we weren't in the middle east, people from the middle east would not care about us and our immoral ways. international terrorists do not care about our domestic policy, they care about our foreign policy. And for Kerry, our foreign policy is war, war, war and more war. That's it. Oh, and not giving international organizations veto power over our wars. And we're going to get our allies to come into Iraq and assume some financial responcibility for the mess we made, but only under our command, cuz we can't give any body else veto power. (Does that plan sound familiar to you? oh yeah, it's Bush's plan! how odd! and our allies weren't going for it. i wonder why not...)

Bush sez

Well, Bush got out of Vietnam, so he can't talk about carrying an M16, but he is a "war president." Yeah, he pissed everybody off getting into a war in Iraq. Clinton was smarter. He backed off from the Iraq war he nearly started in 1998. But Bush's plan for Iraq is, um, the same. And Bush likes perpetual war. And you know, Kerry voted for Bush's war. And, um, the difference here seems to be mainly that Kerry can tell nifty war stories and otherwise completely agrees with Bush as far as future plans. He doesn't agree that the mission is accomplished. And he says now that we shouldn't have gone to war, yet there he voted for it. sounds like Kerry only disagrees with Bush in terms of style and words, not in any concrete way. In fact, Kerry said, "My fellow citizens, elections are about choices. And choices are about values. In the end, it's not just policies and programs that matter; the president who sits at that desk must be guided by principle." Right there during his speech, he said that words and style matter more than actions. My goodness.


Bring out troops home now

Only one issue

So my anonymous commenter posted that "[Kerry] can't get every liberal because if he differs on one issue, [Progressives are] off and running to the Green Party and thus useless, politically." Seems like I've got a lot of disagreements with Kerry. Liberals aren't idiots. I don;t agree with everything Barbara Lee does, but I vote for her anyway. I didn't agree with everything Obama said, but it's clear that he represents his constitutients with thier best interests in mind, even if that means compromising. Because compromising is the essence of politics. We understand that nobody is perfect. But the democratic party has a natural base. Those are unions, blue collar workers, minorities, folks who aren't rich, academics, queers: the majority of the country. If they can get the base to show up and vote, they win. But they ignore their base to chase after mythical swing voters. And when Kerry agrees with Bush about the war and both say nice things about women's rights and both have a healthcare plan with only a few policy differences, well, then those swing voters are deciding on the basis of abortion. Or they're deciding on whether they think there should be a constitutional amendment against gay marriage (cuz Kerry and Bush agree about denying queers some rights and granting them others). Or they're deciding based on the minutae of differing healthcare plans, both of which leave private companies to profiteer. The swing voters are deciding based on one issue and they're off to the Republican party. Gosh, how disloyal of them!

Voting Kerry means voting against my own best interests. It means voting for my own second class citizenship. It means voting for more war.

On Saturday, I signed a petition to get Nader/Camejo on the California ballot.


Anonymous said...

I so agree on all your points. Maybe i'm a pessimist, but I think even if you have a Green Party candidate get elected, they'd have a tough time getting things passed. When it comes down to it, noone wants to pay for anything, but they want everything. My conclusion for all this is education. If people were educated to care and think of the big picture and know that you have to make personal sacrifices, then maybe....but for most people, it's the bottom line. i.e., i don't care about these things because it doesn't apply to me yet.

anyways, as for healthcare, I'm all for universal health care. I don't know much about the issues. But do you know of other countries that have universal health care where their population is similar to the US? I was listening to NPR a few months ago and they talked about this. The other side of the debate is that in countries w/ universal health care, like Canada, it's very difficult to get see a doctor sometimes and get operations that are very expensive. Whereas in the US, the general health care sucks for poor people, but for those specialized operations that costs mega bucks but saves a tiny portion of the population, we can do.

Anyways, what I've always wondered about is why noone talks about just how much doctors are paid in the US. How come noone says that doctors are paid way too much sometimes, just like CEOs? Granted, the issues are complicated. Doctors probably have to pay a lot to get their education to begin with, and god knows what else they have to pay for. But still, if we count the amount of money they get at the end of the day, it's still substantially high. And why is that?

Crinis said...

Politics isn't pure. It can't be. To win elections, politicians need to pander. It's the nature of the beast. Greens aren't winning that many elections because the swathe of the population their platform appeals to is small. I wish it weren't so. They are right on a vast array of issues. (BTW, no president can legally hand control of the military over to another nation, so any party with says otherwise is breaking the law, and the parties which say they won't aren't saying anything interesting)

Doctors in this country are making less and less per year. Sad, but true. This, compounded with rising healthcare costs, means that more and more of your money isn't even going to your doctor. It mostly goes to hospitals and pharmacuticals.

I happen to like hospitals and pharmacuticals for the most part, as well as doctors. I would like a national health care plan that allows me and my fellow Americans to go to doctors and hospitals, and get drugs from pharmacuticals that help them get well.

The issues you hear about re Canada are overblown. There are people in this country who can't see a doctor at all, and Canada sends sick patients to qualified hospitals when they need operations. The fact that they are even diagnosed is already lightyears ahead of the US.

yesyouam said...

mint post!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I agree with all of those points, and as the abused anonymous poster from before, I would like to clarify that I did not mean Kerry didn't differ on multiple issues.

As a liberal myself, I wish Kerry was more progressive. He's got plenty of room to move leftward, and in my perfect world he would do so AND be electable. But this world isn't remotely like that.

My annoyance with some on the left--not you celeste, but some of the less informed left--is that they're just as bad as the one-issue right-wingers. They don't like that Kerry isn't loudly advocating free national healthcare, so he loses their vote. In doing so, liberals not only doom themselves to backwards-thinking policies of people like Bush, but they rob themselves of the chance to put someone in the White House that can be swayed in the liberal direction.

Kerry's remarks on gay marriage are, to me, his most repugnant aspect. But the choice isn't "Kerry, Bush or the Greens," it's Kerry or Bush. And liberals need to recognize that it takes small steps, like electing someone who's open to liberal policies, to get where we'd all like to be.

That's why I said one issue, and I apologize if it implied Kerry was one issue short from perfect. Far from it. But it's politically ignorant to think that a vote for a third party will have anything but a detrimental effect on the social progress of this country.