Converting a Friend (Hopefully)

By GotDesign
A good friend of mine recently reviewed my blog and commented on my reasons for supporting President Bush's campaign. He stated that he would be voting against Bush for several key reasons; therefore, his vote would be against Bush, not necessarily for Kerry. This post will be devoted to responding to his reservations.

My friend's first concern is civil liberties. And this is one of his hot button issues. His statement is as follows:
First, the president's first constitutional duty and primary responsibility is to protect and defend the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights; he has done the opposite on numerous occasions and issues. I no longer trust him to carry out the duties of President.

Without further explanation, I will assume his reservations spring from the Patriot Act. Most provisions of the Patriot Act was already existing in U.S. law. There is very little that is new in the Patriot Act. These provisions provisions -- wiretap authorizations, library records, etc. -- were all in use in the United States. They were primarily devoted to enforcement of RICO statutes (organized crime). These powers were merely extended to allow the U.S. government to expand its capabilities to pursue terrorists and terrorist cells within the United States. In other words, the Department of Justice can now use the methods they use to track "Tony Soprano" in order to track down terrorist active and sleeper agents within the U.S. In fact, no provision of the Patriot Act allows for unchecked activities in pursuit of U.S. citizens. In order to look up anyone's library records (or other provisions of the Patriot Act) the Department of Justice (DoJ) still has to get a warrant from a Federal Judge -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). And because such warrant applications are potential avenues for the abuse of civil rights, the FISC is less likely to grant such warrant requests unless there are actual grounds to do so. As of September 13, 2004, the DoJ has received 1,613 complaints catagorized as potential civil rights abuses. Of this number, only 13 were deemed by the DoJ's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) as worthy of investigation. All others were either clearly not civil rights cases or they were not considered to be under the jurisdiction of the DoJ.

My freidn's second concern is Fiscal Responsibility -- the deficit. First off, there is no such thing as fiscal security during a time of war. You have to either support the effort wholeheartedly or not at all. Next, Bush's deficit is not as large as the Deficit under President Reagan (as a % of GDP). And, like Reagan, George Bush has an economy that is set to grow -- potentially grow very rapidly and strongly. The growth of U.S. GDP over the past 12-14 months has been about 4%. This is sustained growth. Numbers are slowing recently due to uncertainty regarding the elections. It is always better to take on debt when the rates are low. Currently the rates are very low. And the deficit will be eradicated as the economy grows. As the economy grows, the government collects more and more tax revenues. Greater tax revenues means the deficit is covered over a shorter period. Should Sen Kerry be elected, the deficit will only grow. I say this because Kerry has proposed plans for a great deal of spending on domestic programs. Only about 10% of the spending for these plans will be paid for by Kerry's promised restoration of the upper tax bracket from 35% to 39.75%. The rest of the funds either have to come through increased taxes or through deficit spending.

Ask any businessman, it is more fiscally sound to take on debt at the trough of a recession when the economy will rebound and grow. And going into debt at such a time is an excellent way to invest in growing the economy. Very little of the deficits were for military spending. A good portion of the deficit is due to reduced taxation. The money that the government is no longer collecting is being spent or invested by the American public. This spending drives up demand which increases production. Increased production turns around and spurs income growth and then more publoic spending and investing. It's the basic business cycle.

Lastly, my friend feels that President Bush lied in order to go to war with Iraq. While it is true that the President was missinformed, he never lied. Lying would require that President Bush knew that WMD were not in Iraq. The intelligence communities of the entire Western world held that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had WMD in the Spring of 2003. This is because Hussein never reported anything he did in this arena. Some say "sanctions worked." No they didn't. Hussein held stockpiles of WMD at the end of the 1991 Gulf War. We still don't know where they are today. Saddam wouldn't allow inspectors unfettered access to Iraq and so we don't know where he hid them. Saddam didn't declare any destruction of WMD materials, so we still don't know. Some in the intelligence community (myself included) think Saddam may have exported the WMD outside Iraq (Syria? North Korea?). The fact that the U.N., the U.S. and all European governments thought he had WMD just shows how wide an intelligence gap we all had. Nobody knew!

Sanctions were a joke. With the U.N. Oil for Food program, Saddam could both circumvent U.N. sanctions and buy votes in the U.N. Security Council. As Saddam was handing out oil vouchers, he was spreading corruption throughout the U.N. and weakening the Security Council's resolve to maintain or enforce sanctions.

Also, WMD were only one of many (8, I think) different reasons the U.S. deposed Saddam Hussein. Saddam's ties to terrorists (even al-Qaeda) were a large factor in effecting Bush's decision. And Congress authorized the President to act however he felt necessary (without caveat).

At the worst, President Bush was woefully missinformed. The CIA (and the European intelligence community) had an information gap you could sail an aircraft carier through. This is ultimately the fault (for America's part) of the Congress in shrinking the intelliegnce budget and keeping the CIA from being able to expand its network of spies into Iraq. And at the time, this intelliegnce gap was not seen. Several Senate and House commissions (9/11 and intelligence) have both said that no one in the Administration either fabricated information, coerced the fabrication of information, or could have known of the intelligence gap.

I will be happy to continue to answer any questions on these issues -- from either my friend or the general public. I could probably have devoted an entire book to answering these charges. But I have settled, for the time being, on the answers I have posted here.

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