August 2003 Archives

Unfair and Unbalanced

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By David Remer, Aug. 23, 2003 PoliWatch.Org

Gail Appleson writes in a Reuters story about the dismissal of Fox News' suit to prevent the sale and dissemination of Al Franken's book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them". Fox News sought to abridge Franken's 1st Amendment rights to speech in using the courts to stop the sale of his book by stating that Franken's use of the phrase "fair and balanced" on the cover of his book, violated Fox News' trademark of those same words. The U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said, "This case is wholly without merit both factually and legally."

The religious right is attempting to take control of censoring text books for Texas and many other states through the state Board of Education, the Administration has diligently pursued to keep secret all information from the public which may be injurious to its reelection bid in 2004, and now Fox News has attempted to ascribe virtuous words to itself via trademark and defend itself from criticism based on that trademark. It is truly a gift to be born in America where the Constitution and rule of law, not of men-women, ultimately dooms such authoritarian tactics to failure.

Following is an excerpt of an essay by Geroge Soros.

The Bush doctrine is built on two pillars: First, the United States will do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy, and second, the United States arrogates the right to preemptive action. Taken together, these two pillars support two classes of sovereignty: the sovereignty of the United States, which takes precedence over international treaties and obligations, and the sovereignty of all other states, which is subject to the Bush doctrine. This is reminiscent of George Orwell's Animal Farm: All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

To be sure, the Bush doctrine is not stated so starkly; it is buried in Orwellian doublespeak. The doublespeak is needed because there is a contradiction between the Bush administration's concepts of freedom and democracy and the principles of open society.

In an open society, people can decide for themselves what they mean by freedom and democracy. But the Bush administration claims that we have discovered the ultimate truth. The very first sentence of our latest National Security Strategy reads as follows:

"The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom--and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise."

This statement is false on two counts. First, there is no single, sustainable model for national success. And second, our model, which has been successful, is not available to others because our success depends greatly on our dominant position at the center of the global capitalist system, and that position is not attainable by others.

by David Remer August 8, 2003 PoliWatch.Org

As of August 2, 2003 at 03:57:28 AM GMT, every man, woman and child in America owes the U.S. government (on average) $23,158.33 in taxes. The total amount of this public debt, as of the time quoted above, is estimated at $6 trillion, 738 billion, 941 million, 60 thousand, 413 dollars and 31 cents.

Following is a discussion of what this public debt is; what it means for Americans; and what choices voters have in the 2004 election to deal with this enormous sum owed by all of us. This discussion is by no means comprehensive. It would take a book, or a few, to discuss all of the implications of such public debt. Rather, this discussion hopes to provide an overview and guide for voters in making a decision in 2004. Some definitions are in order.

Public Debt, in its simplest definition, is the amount of money the taxpayers of America owe to those who invest in the future of our government. Investors are those persons who buy treasury certificates and government bonds. (I will simply call them Bonds in the rest of this discussion). Government Bonds are nothing more than money borrowed by the government. This money borrowed by the government is described in promissory notes to repay the loan with a stated interest rate. These promissory notes are the actual paper called bonds and certificates. The stated interest rate for the loan to the government represents the amount of money the government will pay to the investor, in addition to the loan amount (principal), as an incentive to the investor to loan their money to the government.

An American in a family of four, who brings home the paycheck, owes those investors $91,849 dollars. In addition to this, that same breadwinner owes those same investors an additional $2,565.75 in interest for this year on that principal. This 6 and 3/4 trillion dollar figure is so large; it is difficult to understand what it means. Yet, its meaning is of grave importance for voters entering the polling booths in November of 2004. (UWSA)

The principal amount, that 6 and 3/4 trillion stated above, does not hurt the economy or the tax payer as long as 1) investors continue to have faith in the American government's willingness and ability to pay it back some day, and 2), the government does not try to buy back that debt. If however, investor's fear the American economy is beginning to slide downward they will seek to redeem their Bonds for cash. In this case, at a time when the government will want to use money to stimulate the economy, it will instead, have to pay that money out to investors cashing in their bonds. This can compromise the government's ability to stimulate a faltering economy. If the government decides to pay off that debt, it will have to raise the cash to redeem the Bonds from investors. The government's primary source of cash is taxes from its citizens. Therefore, taxes cannot be reduced, and will likely increase, if Congress decides to pay down the debt.

Why would the government ever want to completely repay the public debt and zero it out? Two very important reasons come into play.

First there is the tax issue for the tax payer. As long as the debt exists, the taxpayers have to pay the interest on that debt. As noted above, in this fiscal year, every paycheck earner with a family of four is going to pay, on average, $2,565.75 by April 15, 2004. If the government did not have this debt, the government would be able to reduce that wage earner's taxes by this same amount (on average). Therefore, the debt is a very large concern for citizens who want very much to see their federal taxes reduced.

Secondly, the debt greatly reduces the government's options and flexibility in dealing with various international and domestic crises. Contrary to the actions of some in congress, there is a limit to how much the American government can borrow before such debt seriously undermines the American economy. As already mentioned, investors may, in large numbers, cash in their bonds leaving the government strapped for cash. If the government simply prints more money to have more cash, inflation sets in.

Inflation causes prices for basic things like food and housing to increase dramatically as the buying value of the dollar falls. A lower value on the dollar results in lowered profits for small and large businesses and that can result in mass layoffs from work. South American countries experienced such hyper-inflation in the 80's and 90's and their economies have yet to recover from the devastating effects of inflation. So, if the government has a huge debt already, and another crisis comes along to force even more heavy borrowing by the government (selling Bonds), the economy could be seriously damaged resulting in a lowered quality of living standard for most American families.

The interest on the debt is either paid with current tax revenues, or, it is added to the debt by way of the government issuing more Bonds (kind of like borrowing on one credit card to make payments on two others). The government can only pay cash for the interest if tax revenue from tax payers is more than the amount the government is spending.

Currently, the government is running a deficit. That means the government is spending more money than it is bringing in. This year, the deficit is running between 400 and 500 billion dollars. And next year's deficit is projected to be even larger.(FFIS) This would put the national debt at about 7 and 3/4 trillion dollars by election time next year.

So what does this all mean for the 2004 elections?

First, it obviously means we are going deeper and deeper in debt and this trend has to end at some point. If it does not, America will find itself in the same situation as California where the confidence of investors has been so shaken, that California must now promise to pay very high interest rates in order to continue borrowing. This means higher taxes for its citizens in the present, and in the future, in order to pay the higher interest rates and buy back the bonds when they come due for redemption.

Second, it means the debt and deficits are going to be hot potato issues on the campaign trail. The candidates are going to either deemphasize the debt and deficit's importance if they are incumbents, or use them as clubs against their opponents if they are seeking seats of power. It will be a rare candidate who will deal honestly and openly with the public on this issue because it is a complicated issue and candidates like to keep their message simple. Also, because many candidates may not understand the issue well enough to be able to provide the public with a comprehensive detailed plan to deal with the debt and deficit.

Finally, this debt and deficit mean the government is in no position to underwrite social security in 2010 when the bulge in the baby boom generation hits retirement age. Also, it means the federal government does not have the money for a host of other priorities which would be funded, were it not for the debt and deficit. Some of those programs are health insurance for all Americans, Medicare, and Medicaid, shoring up impoverished and dilapidated schools, education in general, worker retraining after layoffs, border security, adequate homeland defense spending, full funding for the Head Start program, and a host of other priorities American voters have.

Economics is nothing more than choosing a small set of spending priorities out of a host of spending choices where there is a limited amount of money. The U.S. government has a very limited amount of money and credit left. Therefore, it must limit its choices as to what it is going to spend our tax dollars on.

When it comes time to vote for a representative, a senator, or the President, in November, 2004, Americans should decide if they believe this debt and deficit spending is harmless, and incumbents have the situation well under control, or not. The Congress controls the spending the government participates in. For the last two years, the President and Congress have agreed to extend the debt ceiling by law, and increase the deficit spending well into the election year. Since, the Republicans have a majority in both houses of Congress; voters will need to decide if they wish to support Republican candidates in light of this information.

It is beyond the scope of this article to cover representatives and senators running in 2004. It is possible though, to represent where the Democratic presidential candidates, The Republicans, and the third parties stand on this issue. Don't expect hard and fast numbers though. Among candidates and politicians, such hard and fast numbers provide a measuring stick for performance. First, let's summarize the Republican position.

President Bush has stated that he believes the revenues will exceed spending once the economy picks up and the surplus can be used to pay down the debt. However, even the Whitehouse has admitted that next year's deficit will likely be larger than this year's. And it is a fact that this year's deficit is much larger than last year's. Despite all the spin to the contrary, the simple arithmetic fact remains that if one is spending beyond one's income, and then, one reduces one's income, the net result will be greater deficit spending and debt. The President's tax cuts exacerbated the deficit which is adding dramatically to the debt at the rate of $1.72 billion dollars per day since September, 2002.

The Whitehouse defends this action by stating that the economic slowdown which began just before President Bush took office would have resulted in a deeper and longer recession had the President and Congress not enacted the tax cuts. Economists generally agree this is partially true. There is debate as to whether the tax cuts to the wealthiest in America stimulated the economy. Some argue those tax cuts resulted in greater consumption of goods and services, which stimulated the economy. Others argue those tax cuts ended up in investments which, in a slow growth economy, does not stimulate demand for goods and services and thus, does not stimulate the economy.

The Democratic Candidates:

Howard Dean states he would balance the budget which would stop the deficit spending.

Dean also criticized Bush for failing to address the issue of insured Americans while passing tax cuts that have increased the deficit. He said he would repeal part of Bush's tax cuts to pay for the insurance and pledged that his presidency would start with balancing the budget.

"If we don't restore fiscal integrity to our government we will simply not have the dollars it takes to offer the health care coverage America needs."

Regrettably, Howard Dean does not state in specific terms how he would balance the budget and thus end deficit spending. He does not indicate what spending he would cut, nor how much and whose taxes would be raised to balance the budget. He also is not specific on a plan to eliminate the national debt.

Joseph Lieberman states his plan would pay down 1 trillion dollars on the debt over the next 20 years. However, his plan calls for more government spending and tax incentives in the short term to stimulate the economy. This is a similar approach now touted by President Bush as the means to control the deficit. Senator Lieberman also is not specific on how the debt would be eliminated and whose money would buy back that debt over the next 20 years.

Senator John Kerry at least partially addresses this issue on his web site. He indicates he would take a long term approach by investing in the infrastructure that will allow the U.S. to remain competitive in the global marketplace for years to come. He would provide for targeted tax cuts for working families and provide tax incentives to small businesses to stimulate the economy. He would provide support for training and education both for the young and the workforce to insure competitive advantage on the global stage. He says he would invest in technology which implies tax cuts or subsidizing companies inventing new technologies. He indicates he would end wasteful spending in government. Unfortunately, Senator Kerry does not state where else he would cut spending and whom it would affect.

Senator John Edward's position is similar to Kerry's. He is more specific on curtailing spending however. At his web site it states:

He has repeatedly called for delaying additional tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and believes the tax cuts for middle income families should be permanent. The Senator has also called for increasing the estate tax exemption to $7 million per family to protect small businesses and farmers, but not a complete repeal of the estate tax.

Senator Edwards called upon Congress to trim the federal workforce outside national security by 10% over the next decade and shut down federal agencies that have outlived their usefulness, and get rid of pork in the budget and close down special interest loopholes.

Representative Richard Gephardt states on his web site that he has been for deficit reduction and repealing the Bush tax cuts. Gephardt is not specific at all about where he would cut spending and in fact, his web site reads like a shopping list for government to spend as much or more than is currently being spent. He states he would increase revenues by providing health insurance which would free up more money by consumers to stimulate the economy.

Senator Bob Graham's web site provides the most detail on how he would increase revenues and reduce government spending. It is a detailed plan and is yet short to read as it is summarized. Essentially, he is for targeted tax cuts, eliminating off shore tax dodges, investing in training and education in the work force and repealing many of President Bush's tax cuts while extending or making permanent some which were targeted to working families. In addition, Senator Graham is specific on infrastructure spending. Despite his specificity, his numbers are incomplete and do not facilitate adding his program costs and subtracting his revenue gains to and from the deficit or the debt.

Representative Dennis Kucinich has the most detailed and specific issues based web site found in this review. While the web site does not provide an overview of his deficit/debt reduction plan, within the specific issues such as military spending, economies, and corporations, are detailed numbers. Within the various issue statements can be found his plan for reducing government spending, increasing revenues, and investing in infrastructure, education and the work force. It may actually be possible to add and subtract his numbers to achieve a net effect of his plan on the deficit and debt. If one assumes a detailed numbered plan is necessary to reduce and eliminate the deficits and debt, Dennis Kucinich appears to be the only Democratic candidate who is doing his homework and fostering informed consent by the voters.

Representative Carol Moseley Braun's and Reverend Al Sharpton's web sites provide no plan or details to address the deficit and debt.

Third Parties

The American Reform Party (ARP). The ARP has on it its platform a very specific agenda for dealing with the deficit and the debt. This party is resolute in ending the debt and passing a balanced budget amendment. The ARP proposes to slash government spending across the board in increments, stop foreign aid of any kind until the debt is erased, and end corporate welfare entirely. In addition the ARP would require all appropriations proposals to be spelled out as to their cost and how such appropriations will be funded, before they may pass to the floor for a vote. Many of their proposals are protectionist and isolationist with regard to America's role in the geo-economic sphere.

The Constitution Party (CP) proposes a complete elimination of the tax system that exists today. Their formula as outlined on their web site is simple. Government spending is funded by import tariffs. To the extent that there is a remaining deficit to fund government activities, each state will contribute to the federal coffers an amount equal to the deficit times the percentage of total U.S. population residing in the state. They also advocate eliminating many agencies now in government and virtually all forms of federally funded welfare.

The Natural Law Party (NLP) The NLP is fairly specific on their web site although, like all of the third parties, there are no numbers to crunch. The NLP calls for boosting worker productivity gains as a means of increasing tax revenues. Also, for lowering taxes to stimulate discretionary spending, and expanding enterprise zones. In addition they call for cutting corporate health costs.

The Green Party (GP) The GP's web site contains a host of issues. The one entitled "The National Debt" addresses the issue with a simple paragraph :

Working people and the small business community are shouldering a disproportionate amount the debt burden. To help make up for our nation's neglect, we support tax increases on mega-corporate and wealthy interests; defense budget reductions (see FOREIGN POLICY); and entitlement reductions to those who can afford reductions most (by "means testing," etc.).

This is indeed a complicated issue and rife with differing viewpoints and interpretations. This fact should not however, intimidate voters from the polls, nor intimidate voters from making up their own mind on the issue based on their best educated guess. The reason is that when it comes to numbers this large, and variables this diverse, educated guesses are all that even the Ph.D.'s have to offer.

The government belongs to the people if the people choose to hold the government responsible to them. Every American who votes in November, 2004, will be acting on their own behalf by pondering a bit on this subject. And afterward they will be well served to come to as rational a decision as they can muster before entering the voting booth. It is after all, ours and our children's pocketbooks at stake.

By David Remer Aug. 1,2003 PoliWatch.Org

Due to the war on terrorism and the sluggish economy, this vitally important issue is not being given the attention it is due by every parent of a school age child in America. The privatization movement underway in this country will have dramatic consequences for the future of schools in America. And the choice between local and national standards will be made in 2004 whether voters are aware of the issue or not. In this article, the case for the relationship between a private school system and local standards vs. public school system and national standards will be made. Next, an examination of the effects each system will have on educational standards in American schools is explored. Finally, the choice between the two will be made clear in regards to the 2004 elections.

In a previous article on 2004 Election Issues, only half of the education issue in America was discussed; namely Private vs. Public education. Here, the other half of the issue is explored, Local Standards vs. National Standards. The two issues are related because with the privatization of America's schools will come an explosive growth in local educational standards. Many in the Republican Party, to include the religious right, seek such local standards in private schools. The Libertarian Party actively seeks local standards and The Constitution Party's goals would benefit from local standards. The Natural Law Party straddles the fence, arguing for private schools while calling for national standards. Whereas, if the public school system prevails, a goal of most Democrats and The Green Party, more national standards will likely be, not only accepted by the electorate, but asked for by the majority of it.

Why would privatizing America's schools lead to local standards? To begin, private schools in a local area will be motivated by profit and the competitive model free enterprise. The owners of one set of local schools will do a cost benefit analysis of their own operation compared to that of competitors in the area. Where possible, for marketing and advertising purposes, private school owners will implement procedures and programs that they can tout as being better than their competitors. Thus, they will maneuver to gain greater market share of students and, through economy of scale(1), decrease costs, increase revenues, and thereby increase profitability. On the face, this would appear to generate a healthy competition for higher quality education for all students in a given locale.

What is the consequence of this argument? First, we must examine the effects of privatizing schools in rural areas, then; examine the differences for urban areas. The competitive private school model leads to local educational standards and public school systems promote national standards. Having made this argument below, it will be obvious that there is a clear choice for American voters in 2004 in regard to this crucially important issue.

For rural areas, it is difficult to see how a smaller more geographically spread population of school age children could be economically served by more than one private educational company with a physical presence. In some rural areas, competitive companies may arise; but, over time, a monopoly on education will surely emerge. This result will occur from community demands for lower cost quality education. The consumer will demand lower costs, and one or another competitor will achieve marketing share in sufficient quantity to make its competitor unprofitable and leave the locale.

The reason is the fixed costs of education cannot be reduced below a certain level. The cost of buildings, loans on those buildings, utilities, maintenance, salaries, and ratio of teachers to students are fixed costs at a minimal level. If a competitor has a market share advantage, the disadvantaged education company will continue to lose market share because its lower profit margins will not permit keeping up with increased salaries, capital investments and marketing and advertising of the advantaged company. Ultimately the disadvantaged company's educational and, or, marketing performance comparisons with its competitor will fall. Consumers will choose to withdraw their students from the poorer performing school to the better performing one; or from the less well marketed school to the better marketed and advertised school.

Once a monopoly is established in the locale, the private company will seek equilibrium; where profits are sustainable and maximized at the lowest cost of educating a student. For an educational company, that would mean three things. First, the monopoly company would maintain performance standards of education sufficient to stay off any competitors from moving into the territory by providing the minimum educational performance required to keep the majority of consumers content with the amount that is being spent to educate their child. Second, it would mean that the key determinant of the quality of education the company needs to deliver will be the amount parents are willing to pay for their child's education. This amount, can and will, fluctuate with economic conditions of the rural area. Finally, it would mean that over time, in the absence of competition, standards for excellence in education will be diminished to that minimally required to maximize profitability.

Note: In a large rural area with large stratification of income levels, there may come to exist a couple of private educational companies or just one with multiple schools serving the area. However, the schools will not compete with each other, since, one company (or school) will tailor its education to the advantaged income groups providing the best education in the area, another company will tailor its program to the middle income population, and possibly a third will tailor its program to minimal standards for families with less than middle class incomes. Each will be a monopoly within its customer's income bracket. This ultimately will be what 'school choice' is all about.

For this reason, it will be difficult for parents to assess their child's educational performance because differing companies will be offering differing educational programs to differing income groups. There will be no standard for the assessment.

In urban areas, such as Dallas, competition of a sort can arise because the large population and income distribution could support competitive companies at profitable levels. But, again, the net result would be a stratification of educational quality according to income. Dallas may be able to support 2 or 3 competitive companies marketing their educational program to the wealthiest of the population, while 4 or 5 companies might be supported for the middle income groups. And finally, one or two companies may be profitable marketing their program to the lower income families.

It will probably be argued by some that parents, in concert with local government, will be able to exert control over the quality of education administered by a private company. While that will likely be true in many cases, another serious problem will arise. Namely, that this very body of parents whether they represent the majority of student's parents or not, will effectively replace the school board and set standards for education that the rest of the population in the locale may find objectionable, such as religious education in the school. Those unrepresented parents would have little recourse but to sell their home, leave their jobs, and move to another locale.

Privatizing schools opens the door for oppressive rule of a minority or majority in a locale in which they represent to the education company the standards they expect to be met in the classroom for all students in the community. Being a monopoly, the company will assess the financial viability of one group's standards for all students over another group's, and choose to implement the standards of one group over another based on the viability study. Thus, unrepresented groups in the community will be left with no voice in their student's educational experience at school.

The key issue then is one of standards. And where privatized education overtakes public education, a stratification of educational programs will be inevitable where differing standards of education are proffered to wage earners with school age children according to income. This follows the ever present and obvious rules of product and quality differentiation according to consumer stratification by income level. Therefore, a Republican approach toward privatizing education will ultimately lead to local standards of education being set by local competitors or monopoly educational companies. And within that locale, an additional and diverse set of educational standards will result as a result of income distribution and the varying degrees of quality of education which families can afford.

Conversely, minimum national standards can only be maintained if a national public school network is maintained. It is given that within differing income communities whose schools are supported by property taxes and/or state revenues; there will be differences in quality of education. A high minimum standard however can only be maintained if government remains the primary financial support for the school systems. As long as government, whether local, county, state or national, is funding a public school system, a high minimum standard for education can be maintained because the resources needed to achieve those standards can be allocated according to need in most cases.

The public funding of the agencies administering the distribution of public funds, whether that agency be the local school board or the state or national department of education, has an obligation to maintain a high minimum set of educational standards. President Bush has called for just such implementation. Now, if President Bush would backup, with resources to the schools needing them, his mandate for high minimum standards, the worst of schools in America should improve dramatically. Regretfully, President Bush has set those standards as a means of highlighting how some public schools are failing to meet those standards, rather than as a means of determining which schools to deliver more resources to. At the same time, the administration is pushing for vouchers to support private schools.(3) It intends to direct funds needed to shore up failing public schools into voucher support programs that will underwrite private schools.

Public school systems permit access and voice to all consumers of education in the district. If concerns are raised which negatively affect even a minority of students or student families, the public school system has a responsibility to address those concerns. That responsibility stems from its non profit status its mission statement which is to provide quality educational service for all students in the publicly supported school system.

There is a host of research demonstrating both that financial resources do enhance quality of education and don't enhance quality of education. There are also a number of research papers touting the competitive benefits of private schools on public schools, and many debunking the claim that private education is cheaper than public education. While such research will eventually have a role in shaping education, they fail to address the central issue regarding private vs. public education in America. That issue is whether local or national standards will best serve America's future via privatized education or public education, respectively.

Thus, the choice for voters in 2004 regarding local or national school standards is largely a conservative and liberal choice. Conservatives seek ending publicly funded schools in favor of private schools and the subsequent local standards that will prevail. Liberals seek enhancing the public school system and support national school standards. The Green Party and the Democrat Party represent the stance for national standards and its prerequisite publicly funded school systems. The Republican, Libertarian, and Constitution parties hold the stance for local standards by way of privatizing the educational system. The Natural Law party is split on the issue. America can have a relatively uniform educational system offering a minimum high standard of education to all Americans. Or, American can have a multi-standard educational system in which disposable income determines how much quality in education their children will receive. This issue is a clearly delineated one for voters in 2004.

By David Remer Aug. 1,2003 PoliWatch.Org

The President stated on July 30:

Health insurance for elderly and disabled Americans was one of the greatest, most compassionate legislative achievements of the 20th century. It spared millions of seniors from needless worry and hardship. Since 1965, every President and every Congress has had the responsibility to uphold the promise of Medicare, and we will uphold our promise. We will do our duty.

The AARP reported:

Starting in 2006, beneficiaries will have three choices: Stay in the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program with no drug coverage. Or stay in traditional Medicare, and purchase coverage through a private drugs-only plan. Or switch to a private managed care plan under a new program called Medicare Advantage that will offer coordinated health services and drug coverage.

This is mainly a Republican approach. Many Democrats would prefer simply to add drug coverage to the present Medicare program

...But both Kennedy and Baucus warned that the agreement is a "fragile" one that could easily unravel in conference if Republicans push too hard toward privatization.

The real fundamental issue at debate here is socialized programs. Republicans and conservatives adamantly oppose socialized programs for any but corporate industry (they even oppose that philosophically but, dare not bite the hand that feeds them). Democrats and liberals believe that private enterprise alone is insufficient to gurantee a minimum living standard for all Americans. They believe that socialized programs are required to insure those who have the least in America can share in at least some of the minimum standards of middle class life with health care, minimum retirement benefits and publicly supported education.

What is to be taken note of here, is the Republican intent to eventually eliminate Medicare by forcing the elderly into privately insured health care plans. Whether the elderly can afford such insurance premiums is not their concern. Given that this is the Republican position, it makes the President's remarks above a political sham to gain votes in November. Once reelected, he will, in all likelihood, further the Republican agenda to rid our nation of Medicare altogether, along with Social Security, and other publicly funded government programs to assist those unable to assist themselves.

Note the following quote from WatchBlog, a multi party view of 2004 election issues, in which a conservative in the Republican column states:

This is a cultural war. Not between religions or whether or not someone is gay or straight, it is between values of freedom, free markets and the totality of what is wrong with the left wing in America. The fight against socialism and Marxist ideologies creeping into our governmental systems, our institutions of learning and our children's minds is what is at stake.

There is a clear choice to be made in 2004. Buy into the Herbert Hoover days of freedom for the corporate rich, and servitude and dependence for the rest of Americans, or, vote anything but Republican.

P.S. I have great empathy for the millions of Republican voters who may one day wake up to a new America wherein they find themselves no longer needed by the Republican party and living in a country where they are on their own to fend for themselves in a competitive dog eat dog society of their own electing. Compassionate conservatism sounds good to a lot of Americans, but, then they haven't read Orwell's 1984 and don't understand 'newspeak" or 'doublespeak' where words take on only the meaning the government wishes them to take on for the expedience of protecting and enhancing power.

High School Under Scrutiny for Giving Up on Its Students. A class-action lawsuit against Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn charges the institution with prematurely pushing kids to leave school. By Jennifer Medina and Tamar Lewin. [New York Times: Education]

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