No more years

Ten more reasons for Nevadans to hang in there and save the planet from another disastrous 48 months

In this year’s State of the Union speech, President Bush urged Congress to make America less dependent on foreign sources of oil.

In this year’s State of the Union speech, President Bush urged Congress to make America less dependent on foreign sources of oil.

As thrift shop mega-sales go, Savers’ recent Labor Day sale—half off everything in the store—was a hit. From 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., the store drew flocks of folks looking for bargains on used clothes, shoes and furniture. Check-out lines extended back through the store at many times.

Outside the store, folks were registering people to vote. Beautiful idea.

The Savers crowd represents “We the People"—the folks on the lower end of our nation’s economic chain. Here are families who didn’t see many (if any) of George W. Bush’s tax cuts. They don’t have access to health care. They can barely make rent each month. In the past few years, they’ve seen all their expenses go up—housing, gas, milk, electricity.

Give Bush four more years? Not likely.

Here are 10 good reasons why they—and you—should vote for a candidate other than Bush in this year’s presidential race.

Reason 1: The president’s a poor shopper
Savers’ customers know how to make ends meet. That’s why they’re here—looking for bargains on T-shirts and ties.

Bush doesn’t seem to have a clue. The record budget deficits he’s racked up seem a bit like an irresponsible rich kid with Dad’s credit card. Look past Bush’s smile and you might catch sight of the reckless 20-something who came to work late, left early and didn’t show up for his Air National Guard physical (let alone five months of drills). The heavy-drinking Junior Bush tore up a rental house and urinated on a car after an election-night party, as former friend of the family Linda Allison recalls.

That was then.

Today, under Reformed Bush, gone are the budget surpluses that our federal government enjoyed under the previous administration.

During the 2004 fiscal year, our nation will spend an estimated $445 billion more than it takes in. (In Savers’ terms, that’s about 200 billion pairs of half-priced, used Levis—about 33 pairs of worn jeans for every human on the planet.)

Most of this deficit is due to Bush’s massive tax cut. Unfortunately, low- and middle-income families didn’t see much of the dough—not enough to offset cost-of-living increases.

As for businesses, more than 50 percent of small-biz owners received less than $500 from Bush’s 2003 tax cut, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Bush knows who his friends are—and they all make more than $200,000 a year.

At least one candidate supports small business. As a member and, later, chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Sen. John Kerry worked to protect and expand loan programs for small businesses—programs threatened by BushCo.

When it comes to government spending, 23 percent of federal contracts must go to the little guys rather than large Halliburton-type corporations. Kerry fought to increase that to 30 percent.

Kerry’s campaigning on a platform of more for the middle. He’ll end “corporate welfare” as we know it, he says, and roll back tax cuts for the richest 1 percent of Americans.

Reason 2: Bush’s abortion switcheroo
See the cute Bush-Kerry animation at It’s a largely even-handed satire, with Kerry repeatedly showing off—"I’ve won three Purple Hearts"—and Bush holding up breakfast food, “You’ve got more waffles than a House of Pancakes.”

Bush never tires of calling Kerry a “flip-flopper.”

Yes, it’s true. Kerry voted to give Bush authority to make war on Iraq. He voted for the Patriot Act and No Child Left Behind. And now he questions our actions in Iraq, grasps the flaws in the Patriot Act and wants to fix No Child Left Behind.

Changing one’s mind to better grasp reality is not the same as lying.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Perhaps Bush doesn’t change his mind, though in 1999 pro-lifers were concerned that the Texas governor was simply not pro-life enough. Bush had said he thought abortion was a choice between women and their doctors. Oops. Then he amended that to, OK, life begins at conception except in cases of rape or incest. Still oops.

Bush eventually learned to say the right things to the “family-values” folks—a passionate, well-meaning voting bloc that’s proven it can get its people to the polls. After his rousing support for banning partial-birth abortions last year, Hero Bush isn’t questioned by pro-lifers. (Not that the legislation, which is failing challenges in courts across the nation, will likely make a difference.)

What’s Bush really doing to stop the murder of innocent unborn humans?

Let’s look at his record.

Reducing the number of abortions in the United States necessarily starts with reducing unplanned pregnancies. As young people are taught about birth control, from condom use to patches to pills, teen pregnancy rates go down. So do the number of abortions. Estimates show that 1.7 million unintended pregnancies translate to 800,000 abortions, says Pat Elzy of Planned Parenthood in Reno.

“We respect people that view abortion as something they do not believe in,” Elzy says. “We also believe that other people should not be making these decisions for women. This administration has done many acts that reduce access to family planning that, in fact, prevents unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion.”

Among these acts: Discontinued funding for sex-ed programs that teach teens about birth control. Banning scientifically accurate contraception info on federal Web sites, including that of the Centers for Disease Control. Also, early in the administration, BushCo tried to get rid of contraceptive coverage provisions for 1.2 million female federal employees. Thankfully, the rest of Congress saved the day.

Pat Elzy of Planned Parenthood in Reno says the Bush administraion has done many things to reduce access to family planning, which increases unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

Republicans have repeatedly blocked legislation that would compel insurance companies to cover birth control.

Withholding and demonizing contraception creates a booming abortion industry—and also makes for plenty of high school girls playing Mommy. Nevada consistently ranks highest on the nation’s teen pregnancy index with the most births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

See those teenyboppers at the malls pushing strollers?

There you have Bush’s legacy.

Reason 3: Nevada students left behind
Bush said, “This nation will not go back to the days of simply shuffling children along from grade to grade without them learning the basics. I refuse to give up on any child—and the No Child Left Behind Act is opening the door of opportunity to all of America’s children.”

Part of the president’s statement to Congress during this year’s State of the Union address is true. The No Child Left Behind Act ups the ante for student achievement. And Nevada students won’t be hurt by higher expectations. The NCLBA claims to make students, teachers and schools accountable—if you believe that tests, tests and more tests are the best markers of achievement.

Free from accountability is the Bush administration itself, which failed to fully fund its act.

Bush says education is a priority. The truth lies in his budget, which shortchanged education by more than $80 billion last year.

Thanks to BushCo, the NCLBA was under-funded by around $32 billion in 2003, according to the National Education Association (NEA). Other federal education programs, from Head Start for preschoolers to Pell Grants for hopeful college students, dealt with funding gaps of around $49 billion.

How does that translate to Nevada students, who’re eking out an education in already overcrowded schools with decaying textbooks and underpaid teachers? While instructors are expected to get kids passing multitudes of tests, they’re not given the tools necessary—smaller classrooms, new textbooks, etc.—to accomplish the goal.

A state-by-state analysis performed by the NEA using U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services budgets shows that, in Nevada, 27,738 disadvantaged elementary-schoolers are “left behind” by the funding gap, as are 33,287 English-language learners, 9,227 preschoolers who qualify for Head Start and some 9,434 college students who’d be getting Pell Grants.

That adds up to 80,000 Nevada students hurt by the gap in federal funding—plenty of kids to leave behind.

Reason 4: The cost of power
Higher gas prices. More pollution. Fewer incentives for businesses who’d like to pursue sustainable-energy alternatives.

Bush stated in this year’s State of the Union: “Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run—so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”

Perhaps Bush really does think that a “modern” electricity system includes building at least three pulverized coal plants in Nevada. That’s surely not what Nevada lawmakers were thinking when they passed legislation that requires Nevada utilities to purchase at least 15 percent of their energy in the coming years from renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal.

Nevada has enough sun, wind and geothermal resources to be the alternative-energy capital of the planet. Under the Bush administration, tax credits for alternative-energy projects expired. Many investors and developers lost heart. Half a dozen renewable-power projects in Nevada have been delayed or killed.

Instead, Nevadans could see a 1,450-megawatt coal burning plant built near the pristine Black Rock Desert, another 500- to 800-megawatt coal plant in White Pine County and a 250-megawatt coal-burning unit added to the Valmy plant in northern Nevada.

Bush isn’t interested in modernization. He supports reducing dependency on foreign oil only if it means his fossil-fuel buddies can make money the old-fashioned filthy unsustainable way.

Reason 5: Sucks to live in your car
In 2002, Bush said, “We’ve also got to understand in this land of plenty there are pockets of hopelessness and despair. … The problem is we have a homeownership gap in America … and we need to do something about it.”

What kind of “something” did Bush plan to do? Well, his remarks came about the same time his budget proposed eliminating low-income housing programs, including the Rural Housing and Economic Development Program, and reducing federal funding by $400 million to the public housing capital fund.

Then, in 2004, BushCo went after low-income housing assistance in the form of Section 8 rent vouchers.

Affordable-housing advocates say that Bush’s programs would mean the loss of around $1.6 million in voucher subsidies that help Reno families pay for existing affordable housing. By 2009, the cuts could add up to $4.3 million of lost voucher money for the Reno area, according to estimates by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

The cost of living in Nevada is soaring. Home ownership rates are skyrocketing as newcomers flock to the Silver State. Yet the dream of home ownership is fast dissolving for many working poor families here.

Bush’s compassionate conservatism isn’t helping Renoites living in cars, motels or with friends and family.

Reason 6: Nukin’ Nevada
Here’s a quote taken a bit out of context.

Said Bush: “My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces. The United States will lead by example to achieve our interests and the interests for peace in the world.”

It’s obvious from Bush’s 2001 speech on missile defense and from other public statements that he supports nuclear-weapons proliferation. But yet, here are his own words, right in the middle of this speech—a stated goal of “reducing nuclear forces.”

Nukes tested in Nevada in recent months made it clear that Bush’s example-setting to the rest of the world will include more sub-critical testing of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Test Site. The military’s developing new kinds of small-range nuclear weapons for our terror-ridden post-Cold War world.

Affordable-housing advocates say that Bush’s programs would mean the loss of around $1.6 million in voucher subsidies that help Reno families pay for existing affordable housing. By 2009, the cuts could add up to $4.3 million.

Comforting, isn’t it, that these weapons of mass destruction are in the trustworthy hands of our own government? We are the good guys.

Reason 7: WMD sham
Bush: “He’s got weapons of mass destruction. This is a man who has used weapons of mass destruction.”

The president was speaking to a crowd in New Mexico in October 2002, when he first publicly lied about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs. He repeated similar statements across the nation. By March 2003, we were primed for war to rid the world of the Iraqi threat.

From Nevada, more than 2,000 individuals from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Nevada National Guard were sent into battle.

Four Nevadans, to date, have given their lives for the noble cause of defending our country from what we thought was a terrorist threat. Lance Cpl. Donald Cline, of Sparks, and 1st Lt. Fred Pokorney Jr., of Tonopah, were killed in action on March 23, 2003, near Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. In later months, Army Capt. Josh Byers, a South Carolina native who graduated from Reed High School in Sparks, and Staff Sgt. Cameron Bryan Sarno, of Las Vegas, were also killed.

These men and their families deserve our deep respect, sincere appreciation and gratitude. The administration that sent our family members and friends to fight in Iraq under false pretenses deserves our anger and frustration.

We didn’t make life better for Iraqis. The country is in shambles. Thousands of Iraqi civilians have died, by even the most conservative of estimates. Our nation’s soul was marred.

“It is organized violence on top which creates individual violence at the bottom,” said writer Emma Goldman, who died in 1940. The principle comes into focus when we look at the disturbing photos of torture victims from the Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib.

The loss of U.S. troops is now greater than 1,000. Perhaps this sacrifice will help out another leader who can’t be trusted.

Reason 8: Healthy, dead forests
Bush in Reno, June 2004: “Last December I had the honor of signing the Healthy Forest Act. … A vital piece of legislation by thinning the underbrush—that helps thin the underbrush, that allows thinning the underbrush—to restore these national treasures of ours. As we’re talking—debating the bill in Washington, my opponent opposed the law, saying we were taking a chainsaw to public forests.”

What handy timing. Just after a California fire raged through the southern part of the state, Bush’s Healthy Forest Initiative became law last year. While the law purports to protect forests, it does little more than turn forest management over to the logging industry.

BushCo’s initiative included harvesting more large valuable trees, allowing the timber barons to double or triple harvest levels in 10 years, according to the National Forest Protection Alliance. The group considers the Healthy Forest Initiative to be a huge threat to national forests, where millions of acres will be harvested by loggers.

But what about stopping forest fires?

Unfortunately, a science-based plan for responsible forest management was what Bush replaced with the big-biz-friendly scheme.

That conservation-minded plan for managing old-growth forest habitat and reducing the risk of fire in 11 national forests in the Sierra Nevada was adopted in 2001. It had taken nine years of research and more than 100 scientists from the Forest Service and universities across the nation. It was reviewed by experts in forest policy who called it “exemplary.”

No room for science, though, in the Bush camp.

Reason 9: Mucking Yucca
Speaking of science, here’s Bush, four years ago: “I believe sound science, and not politics, must prevail in the designation of any high-level nuclear-waste repository. As president, I would not sign legislation that would send nuclear waste to any proposed site unless it’s been deemed scientifically safe.”

Enough said.

Reason 10: Future shock
These days, CampaignMode Bush promises to reduce the federal deficit—but don’t worry, Tahoe mansion owners. Bush’s plans won’t impact tax cuts for the wealthy or the so-called war on terror.

But you gotta do something about a $445 billion deficit. And Bush, bless his shortsighted heart, thinks he might be able to at least, well, cut it in half.

Memos unearthed in June by the Washington Post intimate how Bush may intend to attack the deficit. No mention of making corporations pay their fair share.

Here are a few of the numbers from the Bush Administration’s Planning Guidance for the Fiscal Year 2006 Budget. Read carefully so you’ll know what to expect should Bush be reelected.

Education: Though it boasted of a $1.7 billion increase in discretionary funding for the Education Department in 2005, BushCo. would slash most of the increase—$1.5 billion—in 2006.

Veterans: The Department of Veterans Affairs would get a $519 million increase in 2005 but a $910 million cut in 2006. For those math-challenged readers, that means a quick windfall followed by a funding famine for our military heroes.

Hungry babies: In 2006, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program would be cut by $122 million. Head Start, the early-childhood education program, could see a $177 million cut.

Also, there’d be a $53 million cut to a much-touted homeownership program. National Institutes of Health spending could get hacked by $28 billion. There’d be cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the Transportation Department, the Social Security Administration, the Interior Department and the Army Corps of Engineers.

It’s kind of clear that Bush, once again, plans to balance his budget on the backs of the folks who have to clothe their children by shopping for half-price thrift shop garb.

That leads to one final Bush remark. Bush uttered it during the State of the Union:

“Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better."