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  Why I am for John Kerry

SPEAKING OUT:

Why I am for John Kerry

by Joe Rosenberg

We desperately need a change in leadership, and here's why.
A few months ago during the primary season, before Iowa and New Hampshire, I choose John Kerry as my favorite candidate. As a Vietnam vet, I was glad one of us could make it to the White House. Then and now, for me there have been two main reasons to support John Kerry: (1) he is not George Bush and (2) he showed up twice, as Dick Cheney would say, "Big Time," once when he enlisted and then when he made public his opinions about the war. I am certain there was an ulterior motive in both cases, Kerry being a very ambitious political animal, but he willingly put himself in the line of fire when others were ducking at home.

Right now, because of all the media coverage focusing primarily on his Vietnam service and anti-war activities, we hear little about what Kerry would do as President, except forming a general assumption that he will follow a Clintonesque domestic program and a more coalition-oriented foreign policy. So I can only list the reasons why we must have a change in leadership.,p> As an employee of the Social Security Administration for 39 years, I recall what Reagan did to the disability process in the 1980s, spending time and resources in aggressively determining if a person receiving Title II or Title XVI disability benefits still merited receiving those benefits.

This time it will not just be disability redeterminations that would be in play under a second Bush-Cheney-Halliburton administration, but Bush's policies of outsourcing federal program would be expanded into Title II and XVI, with insurance firms like Aetna and Prudential taking over the claims adjudication functions from SSA and State agencies. Many staff and computer positions at SSA are already targets for outsourcing, this trend will be accelerated.

A second Bush administration would further erode the independence of SSA management. Just before I retired, the folks I worked with in disclosure and privacy policy were administratively moved to the Office of General Counsel. This meant that if a political buddy of the President requests a list of SSA recipients, the Office of the Commissioner no longer sees two opinions, one by the disclosure people and by a politicized OGC, but only that of the OGC. That's why, during a second Bush term, SSA and SSI recipients can be expected to be barraged with mail from insurance companies, brokerages and who knows what else.

Next let's talk pensions, government and private. As the economy declines under a massive deficit, federal pensions and veterans' benefits will be cut back. This doesn't just mean no more Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs), but actual reductions in benefit amounts. In the private sector the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, already besieged by corporate bailouts, will no longer be able to pay out pension benefits when a pension plan goes bust.

Let's talk, too, about gas and fuel prices. With all our "pimping for petrodollars" Middle East policies, gas and oil prices will further skyrocket if Bush is reelected. Ditto the fees charged by our new 51st state, Halliburton. With the Bush tax cuts, the rich and upper middle class will still live comfortably, while the rest of the population can only shop at Thrift stores and Wal-Mart.

I suppose a second Bush term will see Colin Powell and other more moderate Republicans gone. Newt Gingrich signaled that on an O'Reilly show about a year ago. The number of minorities and Jews in the Federal Government can be expected to decline drastically as Bush strives for a more "Christian" government. Forget about stem cell research and AIDs cures; to quote Bush I, "not gonna happen."

The reconstituted State Department, meanwhile, will push for a more aggressive Israel. Jerry Falwell has openly talked of an Armageddon, where Jews and Muslims will wipe themselves out in the land of Canaan, allowing for "Christian" control of the land of milk and honey.

Finally, there is a gulag-America on the horizon, thanks to the USA Patriot Act. Every keystroke and library visit will be scrutinized to see if you are a traitor and/or pervert. It's not just going to be Cat Stevens denied access to an airplane, but you and me. As in the old South and big cities, troops will "guard" voting places, and prominent liberals and progressive will be removed from colleges. Personal IDs will be required and the Department of Education will deal in re-education--especially in the unfortunate "Blue" States.

From 1968 to the present, the GOP has been masterful at winning Presidential elections via "dirty tricks" and clever propaganda. Only Jimmy Carter, because he could not be tainted, and Bill Clinton, whom the voters loved as a personality despite his foibles, made it past the gauntlet the GOP erects. So far in 2004, they have framed John Kerry and forced him to defend or explain acts of 33 years ago. No one asks what George W. and Cheney were saying or doing in 1971. Our country is going to be controlled by a right-winged junta that would scare Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller or even Everett McKinley Dirksen--and all we are outraged about is whether or not some bimbo showed her breast on TV.

I can only hope people wake up in time before November 2nd and elect a real fighter, John Kerry.


Joe Rosenberg, of Baltimore, frequently writes book reviews for this newspaper.



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This story was published on September 28, 2004.
 
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