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PEGGING THE NEW YEAR RIGHT Like many kids, my brother had one of those toy shape finders. It came with a little mallet and wooden pegs for hammering correctly shaped pegs into matching holes in a bench. When playing with his friends, inevitably, some would not be able to fit the peg into its corresponding shape. One kid would always figure out that if he took the mallet and banged and hammered really hard, and forced the peg, even if it splintered or broke, eventually the peg would fit into a hole that did not fit its shape. George W. Bush has been the kid who has forced the square pegs into the round holes. He has beaten and hammered the country and the world. He has used force to break us, and come hell or high water, he is going to bang those pegs into the shapes he wants, even if they are the wrong ones. In 2004, we have finally, finally reached another election year. As the year unfolds, it will become clear to voters that after four long years of being forced, divided, hammered, and broken, they will have a distinct choice in candidates and the chance to replace the destructive forces of George W. Bush. Recently, in The Washington Post, Al From, who heads the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, credited Howard Dean with running a successful campaign, but questioned whether Dean can effectively lead the party as its nominee. “We need to lay out a reason to replace Bush.” From said. Al From should take a break from his efforts to create the Republican-lite a.k.a. Loser Party and listen to Howard Dean, for he has been laying out reasons to replace Bush for months, now. The following are just a few reasons why most Democrats and many Independents think another four years of a Bush administration will be a global tragedy in the making: Reason Number One: The greatest disaster to ever happen in our country, September 11, 2001, could have been prevented by George W. Bush. He has taken more vacations, more long week-ends, and more taxpayer financed campaign fundraising trips than any President in history. Former Republican governor of New Jersey, Tom Kean, chairman of the independent 9/11 investigating commission said publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented. Why was Bush taking a month off to vacation in Crawford, Texas just prior to 9/11 when he and his national security adviser had been warned repeatedly of its imminence? Why did he fail to alert the American people? Is it too much to ask of the President to stay on the job and not take a month’s vacation if he has been told we might be attacked? Governor Kean promises major revelations in the coming new year, but if his commission raises doubts about the President’s competency, Bush will just take that proverbial mallet and bang away until the will of the people is thwarted and the square peg has fit into the round hole. Reason Number Two: Bush lied about his reasons for invading Iraq. He squandered the country’s entire stock of global empathy and goodwill following 9/11 by invading Iraq under false pretenses, in violation of international law, and without the approval of most of the world. Bush said Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction(WMD) posed an imminent danger to America, but when no WMD were found, he said we invaded Iraq so we could install democracy there. Bush used 9/11 as a pretense for invading Iraq and repeatedly spoke of Sadaam Hussein and 9/11 in the same breath, as if it was Sadaam Hussein who had orchestrated the attacks on our country. Our efforts should have been concentrated on capturing Osama bin Laden and defeating al Qaeda, but Bush handed victories to the very terrorists he claims to scorn by placing our troops in Iraq. It took 150,000 soldiers, tens of thousands of deaths, and a billion dollars a week to capture Sadaam Hussein. Americans are told the country is safer, but are given warnings of “high alert” for more terrorist attacks. So which way is it? Are we safer? Are we more vulnerable and at a higher risk of another 9/11? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that were such an imminent danger? Reason Number Three: Under Bush, at the expense of necessary programs such as Social Security and Medicare, the giant corporations who contributed so lavishly to his campaign, are being rewarded. During this administration, three million people have lost their jobs. Daily, the corporate giants announce thousands of jobs being exported to India and China. The Wall Street Journal, recently reported that if this trend continues, by 2010, well over half of America’s high tech jobs will have vanished and America will have completed its transformation from an advanced to a Third World economy! And what about those Bush tax refunds? The $300 in tax relief most middle-income earners received was more than offset by increases in local property and state taxes, tuition hikes, and increased energy costs due to draconian cuts in federal funds for vital state and local services. Reason Number Four: Bush has transfigured a healthy budget surplus created by Democrats into an endless sea of red ink - in the form of massive federal deficits of over $500 billion. Taxpaying families, their children, and their children’s children will be swimming in debt to pay for what? Endless war, tax cuts for millionaires, and multinational corporate bankrolling. The national debt has exploded to over $6.9 trillion since 2000. Since then, our currency has declined in value over 30%. This President is asking future generations to pay more taxes, experience high inflation, and suffer a devalued currency to repay the unrealistic tax cuts of his reckless fiscal policies. So ring out the old, ring in the new! The year to come will surely be a bright and happy one when we get someone in the White House who doesn’t beat, hammer, and bang America by splitting it and forcing it into a shape it doesn’t belong.

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