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www.DukeEmployees.com - Duke Energy Employee Advocate

Election - Page 1

"Edwards's wife, Elizabeth, calls her relentlessly sunny husband 'the most optimistic person I know.'
Cheney once took a personality test that found him best-suited to a career as a funeral director.” - W. Post
"No one is going to have to sue me to find out who we met with." – John Kerry - L. A. Times
"What we've got now is a president of the United States who is actively misleading the American people
on the financial condition of the country. Shame on him." – Sen. Kent Conrad, Senate Budget Committee
"We need to outsource this administration." – Senator John Edwards - ABC

Bush’s Twin Liabilities

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – July 25, 2004

G. W. Bush’s wife and twin daughters were against Bush running for the presidency in 2000. They did not relish media attention. The world would be so much better off if Bush had listened to his family. Alas, he did not listen.

Ms. Bush and the twins have now grown accustomed to the limelight and notoriety. They want more of it and are campaigning for Bush in the 2004 election.

At one time, the twins were racking up a lot of headlines for alcohol possession by a minor; Jenna is a repeat offender. There were wire reports of the twins evading their Secret Service escorts. Jenna once used the Secret Service to spring her drunken boyfriend from jail.

After intimidation from the White House, the press decided to give the twins a break. Bill Clinton’s daughter received the same break from the press. There was a news blackout of the twins escapades. But as Bush campaigners, the twins are now fair game for all.

The twins are on a roll. They have already come up with a valid reason to vote for Bush. Reuters reported that the twins went online to announce that Bush attended their soccer games. That certainly is impressive. But when Jenna had emergency surgery on Christmas night in 2000, G. W. Bush was not there. He did allot her 45 minutes after the surgery – then took off on vacation (what else?). When asked about Jenna, Bush told the press ''she can clean out her room.''

Jenna has already started interfacing with the press. The Associated Press photographed Jenna sticking her tongue out at reporters. Laura Bush had made an attempt to instruct her daughters in ladylike conduct. In a TV interview she said that she told the twins to "stand up straight and keep your hair out of your eyes." That was a good start, but the twins may still not be ready for prime time.

The public can no doubt expect more politically astute, mature, reasoned, and relevant dialogue from the 22-year-old Bush twins.

Kerry’s Winning Move

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – July 12, 2004

John Kerry had a lot of opportunities to make a mistake in picking a running mate. He made the best possible choice by selecting Senator John Edwards.

It is not necessary to try to create a “political image” for Mr. Edwards. The facts are plain for all to see.

More than once, John Edwards has voted in favor of legislation that would restore the pensions lost to abusive cash balance plan conversions. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone in the White House on your side, for a change?

John Edwards’ staff has been a liaison for the Duke Energy employees, who have filed cash balance age discrimination charges with the EEOC.

Mr. Edwards has written to the Employee Advocate, stating that he wants to be a champion for pension justice. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a vice president who is interested in protecting promised pensions? We have had one who’s main agenda was starting illegitimate war.

The current administration regards American workers as the enemy. John Edwards’ father worked in a cotton mill and his mother worked in a post office. His younger brother is an electrical construction worker and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Mr. Edwards will not automatically view you as the enemy.

John Edwards is a self-made man. He was not born into wealth. He came from a mill town and became wealthy by using his intelligence and initiative.

He was a very successful attorney. He was victorious in representing people who had been injured and would have been crushed by corporations, without his help. Corporations are generally very happy to provide no compensation for injury. Many of them are also very happy to deny pensions and health care to those who have earned it. The current administration is doing everything possible to deny citizens access to the legal system. When you are completely at the mercy of corporations, you will have a very bad day!

John Edwards used his own money to finance his successful run for the Senate. That is something that you do not see every day. He would not accept donations from certain groups. Now that’s a rarity for any politician! He entered the Senate race as a political unknown and beat the incumbent senator! He, once again, beat the odds. The workforce needs such a man in their corner.

The CEO’s have had their every wish fulfilled for almost four years. It is time for an administration that can see past the boardroom. America cannot stand four more years of heading in the wrong direction.

Letter from Senator John Edwards

27 Envoys Call for Bush Defeat

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – June 19, 2004

Historians have said that 27 envoys calling for the defeat of G. W. Bush may be unprecedented, according to Bloomberg News. Richard Kohn was the chief Air Force historian for the Pentagon from 1981-1991. He said ``Their prominence and seniority and influence when in their diplomatic or military posts, and their number, is really remarkable.''

Pulitzer Prize winning historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., 86, said ''I can't remember anything comparable to that. I can't remember a precedent.''

The group, Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, is comprised of Democrats and Republicans. It issued a statement on Wednesday: ``From the outset, George W. Bush adopted an overbearing approach to America's role in the world, relying upon military might and righteousness, insensitive to the concerns of traditional friends and allies, and disdainful of the United Nations.''

It is noteworthy that the group called for Bush to be defeated, but did not specifically endorse John Kerry. That attitude is a new wrinkle in this election. Many groups and individuals are not promoting any candidate; they only want Bush out!

Some members of the group are: Jack Matlock Jr., President Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the Soviet Union; retired Admiral William Crowe, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman under Reagan; Charles Freeman, President George H.W. Bush's ambassador to Saudi Arabia; and retired Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak, who is advising Kerry's campaign.

Phyllis Bennis is a fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies, a group that promotes democracy and human rights. He said ''I don't remember a group of this stature before this war. The war is a crucial issue for every voting bloc -- those that are uncertain where they stand will take this as a very serious consideration.''

Casimir Yost, director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, said ''We have seen this on specific issues at times, expressing some unhappiness, but not a broad blast at the administration like this.''

Prime Minister Tony Blair has his problems also. He has been blasted by a group of 52 former U.K. ambassadors and international officials for supporting Bush in Iraq and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Associated Press reported that than 400 legal scholars have taken a different approach to getting Bush removed from office. They signed a letter urging Congress to consider impeaching Bush and any high level administration officials who approved the Iraqi prisoner abuses.

Immigration-law Enforcement

The Seattle Times – by Froma Harrop – May 1, 2004

Immigration-law Enforcement Can be Kerry's Winning Ticket

(4/30/04) - Here's a sure-fire, guaranteed way for John Kerry to win the election: Say that as president, he will enforce the nation's immigration laws. No fancy programs required. No draconian new laws. No need for more border guards.

Kerry should just say he will enforce the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. That means his administration will seriously go after employers who hire people not legally permitted to work in this country.

Do this, John Kerry, and you will become the 44th president of the United States.

Republicans once upon a time could be relied on to at least honor the nation's immigration laws. But President Bush has ended all that. He regards illegal immigration as just another source of labor — a nice cheap one. So he's proposing something he calls a solution, but that amounts to a new amnesty program.

It's pointless. As long as the government winks at employers who hire illegal workers, the workers and the employers will find one another. There are now an estimated 8 million to 10 million illegal workers in this country. Bush's brother, Gov. Jeb in Florida, wants his state to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. When Florida's lawmakers balked at the idea, Jeb accused them of engaging in "a policy of denial" concerning what he euphemistically calls "non-citizens."

Most illegal immigrants are good people who work hard, which is what makes the issue so painful. But while the choices are hard, they are also clear: Either control illegal immigration, or watch your most vulnerable low-skilled workers sink into economic collapse. From 1979 to 2001, the real earnings of men without high-school diplomas fell an astounding 28 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the flood of illegal competition deserves much of the blame.

Americans overwhelmingly back enforcement of our immigration laws. Polls show that 87 percent of the American public wants illegal immigration curbed. Allowing an illegal work force also amounts to a subsidy for unscrupulous employers. They get cheap labor, and the taxpayers get the bill for the immigrants' schooling and medical costs. And, contrary to frequent claims, illegal immigrants pay few or no taxes.

George Bush's utter passivity toward the nation's immigration laws leaves John Kerry with an easy opening. Kerry doesn't have to say much. All he has to do is make a micro-movement and offer to enforce the laws already in place. Kerry would thus win back blue-collar Republicans — many former Democrats who think the party has abandoned them. He would pick up votes from bona-fide Republicans enraged at the Bush administration's tolerance of lawbreaking.

And if Kerry states his position carefully, he won't lose Latino and Asian votes. Some ethnic "leaders" will accuse him of all sorts of nasty things, but legal immigrants understand better than most people how underground labor drives down their wages and benefits.

Some 30 percent of all immigrants lack a high-school education and so are already at the bottom of the labor market. Legal immigrants, especially Latinos, are far more likely to lack health insurance than the native born. When low-skilled workers get uppity and demand medical coverage, employers replace them with others afraid to ask for anything.

A poll of Hispanics in New York City found that less than a third wanted even legal immigration increased. Among Puerto Ricans, only 19 percent supported more immigration, while 36 percent wanted today's numbers lowered.

Right now, the forces of immigration control pounce on the poor people coming across the borders. The Bush administration lets the employers largely off the hook, even sympathizing with their alleged need for more workers. (If there really is a labor shortage, why doesn't he call for more legal immigration?)

The 1986 law puts the onus for illegal immigration on the fat cats. But one problem of the law is that it doesn't ask employers to verify the identification documents presented by would-be workers. Almost any piece of paper will do. Kerry can improve matters by demanding a secure national identity card for everyone, native or immigrant. It could double as ID for national-security purposes.

Kerry should say that today's immigrants are every bit as good as the ones who came before. But they must come here legally. If he does that, he wins the election.

The Amnesty Flop

Electronic Hanging Chads

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – April 25, 2004

If you think hanging paper chads caused problems in the 2000 election, just wait until electronic voting hits the mainstream! Elise Ackerman (Mercury News) gave a preview of what may come to pass. Electronic voting is going about as well as electric deregulation in California!

An advisory panel unanimously recommended a ban of touch-screen election equipment used in four California counties. That sound interesting, but that’s not all. The panel has urged the Secretary of State to pursue a criminal or civil investigation into the conduct of Diebold Election Systems.

Kim Alexander of the watchdog California Voter Foundation said ''This is a historic decision. This is the first time that any state agency has decided to decertify a touch-screen voting system.''

A state investigation concluded that Diebold sold an untested and poorly functioning system, that jeopardized the March primary. Diebold was also accused of misleading state officials about the system being federally approved.

Marc Carrel, assistant secretary of state, said ''They've been stringing us along. They've been jerking us around. They've been doing a bait and switch on software that has resulted in the disenfranchisement of voters.''

Some counties purchased Diebold AccuVote-TSx systems. Who would pay good money for something called an AccuVote-TSx? Anything with a name like that could never work. A good rule of thumb is that anything with “Accu” in the name is never accurate! A Ronco VoteMaster? Maybe. An AccuVote-TSx? Never!

To make the cheese more binding, the AccuVote-TSx was not approved by federal testers! Diebold led the officials to believe that federal approval was imminent.

Corporate spokespeople always have great things to say. David Bear, Diebold spokesman, said ''We are disappointed and somewhat amazed by the tone of the discussion.''

Diebold lost credibility when its proprietary software was found on a server connected to the internet. Independent scientists said the code did not meet even minimum security standards. Then Diebold installed untested software on 17 systems sold to California.

Mark Kyle, undersecretary of state, chaired two days of panel hearings. He said ''I'm disgusted by the actions of this company.''

The way things are going, a 12-year-old geek may be able to throw the election. In the future, voters may long for the days of hanging paper chads.

The "Gore Exception"

Jesse Ventura for President?

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – April 16, 2004

It is true that this year’s presidential election has been, and will continue to be, a no-holds-barred brawl. The White House has even attracted the attention of former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, according to the Associated Press. He has no plans to run this year, but is considering entering the 2008 race.

Mr. Ventura said "What would hold me back would be my family. The brutality of the campaign, the ruthlessness of the Democrats and Republicans. If it looks like I might win, there's no telling what they would do. They're very desperate people when it comes to third parties."

He seems to have a realistic grasps of the situation. He won the race for Minnesota Governor, as a third-party candidate. But winning a presidential race, as a third-party candidate, would be 10,000 time harder.

As a former pro wrestler and Navy Seal, no one doubts Mr. Venture’s physical toughness. But is he really ready to be a national candidate? Consider that he did not run for a second term as governor, because of the political heat.

In 2002, he told Minnesota Public Radio: "It's difficult to do these public- service jobs when you know your family can be assassinated by the media at any point, deservedly or not deservedly.''

Flawed Medicare Ads

Public Citizen – Press Release – March 12, 2004

Bush Campaign Should Refund Taxpayers for Flawed Medicare Ads

Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook

The General Accounting Office (GAO) report on the Bush administration's Medicare ads highlights the waste and deception that characterize the Medicare prescription drug bill and its corporate giveaways. The GAO said it best when it noted that despite "[Health and Human Service's] stated interest in informing beneficiaries of changes to Medicare, we observe several noteworthy omissions in HHS's materials."

While the GAO found that the ads' "political tone" did not "constitute a purely partisan message," the taxpayers deserve their wasted money back.

How can Bush possibly justify placing ads in the Washington-insider newspaper Roll Call, given that people eligible for Medicare - 65 and older - constitute just 3 percent of its readership? How can Bush call this an education campaign when the GAO found "noteworthy omissions" in the ads that "may lead beneficiaries to underestimate the amount they will need to pay for prescription drugs"?

It is ironic that while Bush chastises Congress to be "wise with the people's money," he spends more than $22 million of the people's money on inaccurate political advertisements. His campaign should refund the taxpayer's money for these political advertisements and he should pull the ads.

Budget of Gimmicks

www.senate.gov – by Senator Robert C. Byrd – March 1, 2004

A Budget of Gimmicks, False Promises, And Unrealistic Expectations

Senator Byrd delivered the following remarks as the Senate Budget Committee prepares to debate and vote on the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2005. The Budget Committee is scheduled to work on that budget beginning on Wednesday, March 3, 2004.

With the release of the President's budget for the Fiscal Year 2005, and the upcoming markup of the Fiscal Year 2005 budget resolution, it's now clear that the promises made by this Administration during the 2000 election have not been kept.

Contrary to the promise made four years ago to ensure the Social Security benefits promised to our nation's workers, our retirement and disability system has become more vulnerable.

Contrary to the promise made four years ago to make health care more affordable, drug prices continue to rise and health insurance remains unobtainable for too many Americans.

Contrary to the promises made four years ago to protect our nation's vital industries, this Administration's tax and trade policies have been an unmitigated disaster, with an alarming number of jobs being lost overseas.

Contrary to its assurances that it could be trusted to act as a prudent and responsible manager of our nation's fiscal policies, the Bush Administration has demonstrated neither prudence nor fiscal responsibility.

In his February 2001 address to a Joint Session of Congress, the President promised to pay down $2 trillion in debt during the next 10 years. He said that's "more debt repaid more quickly than has ever been repaid by any nation at any time in history." He has not kept that promise. Since the President submitted his Fiscal Year 2002 budget, our gross national debt has increased from $5.6 trillion to $7 trillion, and deficits have risen to $521 billion in the Fiscal Year 2004.

With deficit projections mounting, the cries of alarm are growing steadily louder.

The IMF, an international organization normally concerned with the debt problems of third-world nations, has issued an alarming critique of the United States, pleading with the Bush Administration to rein in its massive budget and trade deficits. Similar warnings have emanated from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, from former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and from the U.S. Comptroller General David Walker. Even the Administration's own political allies, ranging from the conservative Heritage Foundation to private-sector economists who endorsed the President's tax cuts, have pleaded with this Administration to get its fiscal act together.

Yet these warnings fall on deaf ears in this Administration. After spending $1.7 trillion to finance three enormous tax cuts in the last three years, the President's budget proposes an additional $1.24 trillion for more tax cuts.

President Bush's assertion that his budget will cut the deficit in half by 2009 is one more in a litany of promises that will go unfulfilled. The Bush Administration's own budget documents show that if none of its proposals were enacted into law, the deficit would still be cut in half. The President's budget actually makes the deficit worse in 2009 than if the Congress took no action at all.

For the Fiscal Years 2001 - 2010, this Administration's policies have transformed a ten-year, $5.6 trillion surplus into a $4 trillion deficit. And it just keeps getting worse. The President's budget includes record deficit projections that will push our national debt to extreme limits never before seen in our nation's history.

President Bush's budget is a wake up call for working America. Under the guise of inviting middle-class workers to sit at the table and share in the tax cuts, this Administration has run up a tab that won't be paid for by those with the golden parachutes. It will be the working man who gets stuck with the bill.

Instead of ensuring the Social Security benefits promised to workers, the President's budget would spend the entire Social Security surplus over the next five years – all $1.1 trillion of it – to pay for the Administration's tax cuts for the affluent and corporate elite. Not one dime would be allocated to save Social Security.

But even the enormous surpluses in the Social Security accounts can't cover the colossal cost of the Administration's tax cuts. President Bush's budget would also cut the funding for those federal programs that most benefit working families – federal student aid, unemployment and job training programs, health care initiatives for veterans and the poor and elderly – by a whopping $50 billion to pay for the Administration's tax cuts.

And still it is not enough. After draconian spending cuts and the loss of the entire Social Security surplus, the President's budget proposes to borrow an additional $1.4 trillion – much of it from countries like China and entities like OPEC – to pay for its tax cuts.

When you look at the promises versus the performance of this Administration, and the massive increases in the national debt necessary to finance their ill-conceived fiscal policies, our nation will be left with a "Bush Debt Gap" of $4.5 trillion.

The Administration is forcing working-class Americans not only to shoulder a massive debt burden, but also to give up those federal programs and services from which they most benefit.

The President's tax cuts are squeezing state revenues forcing increases in tuition rates. The cost of attendance at a four-year public college/university has gone up 26 percent since Mr. Bush became President, from an average of $8,418 in 2000 to $10,636 in 2003. Interest rates on student loans will increase, while Pell Grant monies and federal student aid programs are rolled back.

Drug prices will continue to increase – and veterans and seniors will continue to see their savings depleted – while cuts are made in those programs that help to provide them with basic health care.

Worker's pensions will remain underfunded and vulnerable, while this Administration stands passively mute.

Social Security's financing problems will continue to worsen, as money that should be saved to ensure the benefits promised to workers is wasted on an ideological fiscal policy that advocates tax cuts above all else.

The financial perils underlying the Social Security program were brought to light this week when Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan forced the President to confront the fact that his Administration has been hiding from for three years now: if we continue on the fiscal course set by this Administration, we will lose the only opportunity we have left to save Social Security.

The Congress has a responsibility to better educate the public about their Social Security system. The panic in the voices of my constituents as they called my office yesterday made it clear that more must be done to keep the public informed.

What's regrettable is that the real problems confronting future Social Security retirees have only recently surfaced in the Presidential debates. What's unforgivable, however, is that if it were not for Chairman Greenspan's comments, this Administration may not have even raised it as an issue this year. The President's evasive remarks have been to assure the American people that he will not cut the benefits of retirees or those near retirement. But what does that mean for 59-year olds or 60-year olds? Will the President try to cut their Social Security benefits or not? To cut Social Security benefits, without first engaging the public about its intentions, should tell us a great deal about the fiscal priorities and methods of this Administration.

In the face of this dismal reality, the Administration does not offer solutions, just excuses. It can only argue that their budgetary decisions are not their fault. The recession and out-of-control spending is to blame for massive deficits. Corporate accounting scandals are to blame for weak pension funds. The September 11 terrorists are to blame for the shoddy economy.

All of those arguments are belied by the facts.

Our investments in education, health care, transportation and other domestic discretionary programs are not the source of this Administration's deficit problems. Domestic discretionary comprises only 9 percent of the increase in spending over the last three years, and it represents only 17 percent of all federal spending. President Bush's budget doesn't even look at mandatory expenditures for savings, even though they comprise two-thirds of the federal budget. While the President's proposed spending cuts would significantly undermine our education and health care investments, it would barely make a dent in the Administration's deficit projections.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department is plagued with accounting problems so severe that the Secretary of Defense can't account for billions of taxpayers dollars. The General Accounting Office estimates that the very earliest that the Defense Department could possibly pass an audit would be 2007, and that is optimistic. The Administration doesn't even know how much time and how much money it will take to fix the accounting problems.

It's absurd that the Administration is proposing to cut vital domestic investments while billions and billions of dollars are lost every year in the Pentagon's broken accounting system.

The Administration's deficits have exploded in large measure because revenues as a percentage of our gross domestic product have declined to their lowest levels since 1950. According to the House Budget Committee, the three Bush tax cuts have increased the deficit by nearly $2.6 trillion from 2001 to 2013.

The notion that the Administration's deficits were created by a poor economy and increased spending is pure fantasy.

It's made all the worse by this Administration's efforts to hide these facts from the public. The Administration is touting the tough choices it is making to cut the deficit in half over five years. Yet, its budget is full of "magic asterisks" that assume an initiative will be offset, such as a $65 billion health care tax credit, but provides no information on where that savings will come from.

Contrary to the Bush Administration's past budgets with surplus projections extending out ten years to justify their tax cuts, this year, President Bush proposed a five-year budget. It hides from the public the alarming long-term deficits projected by the Congressional Budget Office. It hides the real cost of the Administration's proposals, such as the $1.1 trillion – trillion -- cost of extending the Bush tax cuts. Further, President Bush's budget includes no additional funds for Iraq, even though the Administration reportedly will submit another supplemental for Iraq after the November elections.

Here, perhaps more than anywhere else, is where the Bush budget is the most deceptive.

To date, contrary to the modern tradition of an Administration funding large scale, ongoing wars, at least in part, through the regular appropriations process, the Bush Administration has refused to request funds for the war in Iraq in its annual budget. The Administration waits until funds for the troops are almost exhausted before requesting additional funds through a Supplemental.

The Bush Administration's purpose is clear – to limit debate, to limit discussion, to limit having to explain to the American people how much this war will cost and how many lives will be lost before it is over.

This year, however, the political posturing has gotten worse. Not only did the President not include any funds in its budget for the ongoing operations in Iraq, the Administration has announced that no supplemental will be sent to the Congress until after – after – the November elections, depriving the American voters of any opportunity to judge the president based on his promises about the costs of a war in Iraq.

This is a budget of gimmicks, false promises, and unrealistic expectations. It's a budget of misdirection, canards, speciousness, spuriousness, sophistry, equivocation, fallacies, prevarications, and flat out fantasy. Worse, under the guise of reining in budget deficits, this Administration is continuing its assault on the values of the working class.

This is an Administration of corporate CEOs and Texas oil men. The corporate elite of this Administration did not grow up wondering if their parents could afford to send them to college. Their parents did not have to choose between paying for groceries and paying for health care. They do not stay up late at night worrying about whether they will lose their pension benefits, or whether Social Security will be enough to provide for their retirement.

When the Administration proposes to cut these programs or fails to provide adequate resources for them, it's because it has no personal understanding of the plight of America's workers and how much the President's budget cuts affect middle-class America.

Only a President who never had to apply for unemployment benefits would oppose extending them when so many workers are without a job. Only a President who never needed overtime pay would advocate taking it away from those workers who rely on it to make ends meet. Only a President who never needed federal aid to attend college would advocate cutting it back for those students who cannot attend college without it.

When this Administration leaves office, its legacy will be an enormous debt burden that will weigh heavily on the middle-class. In the process, it will have severely weakened their safety net, and have left little means for fixing it.

But it won't matter to this president at that point. He'll move back to Texas knowing that his pension and health care benefits are secure, and that corporate CEOs and Texas oil men are wealthier and more comfortable than ever before. He'll never have to rely on the safety net that his Administration has worked so hard to dismantle.

Bush v. Kerry

www.WildMatters.org – by Michael Colby – February 21, 2004

Bush v. Kerry: The Power Elite´s Dream Ballot

(February 11, 2004) - If you hear gleeful giggling from behind the curtain shielding the political elites from the mere masses, you’re not alone. There’s a party going on and we haven´t been invited. It’s a presidential election party, where the puppeteers of our democracy are celebrating an upcoming election that they can´t lose. It´s a contest between two of their own.

George Bush versus John Kerry is a dream ballot for those whom C. Wright Mills called the “power elite,” that tight little club of economic, political and military leaders who truly rule the nation. The power elite doesn’t care about political party affiliations. That’s child’s play. In their view, fools line up to vote while the real players decide who’s on the ballot. And for some reason we still refer to the whole charade as democracy. The joke’s on you.

Bush v. Kerry is simply nirvana for the bluebloods. As they say in the business world: it’s a win-win situation. From their perspective, whomever places his hand upon the Bible (yes, the Bible) on January 20, 2005 doesn’t matter because with a Bush/Kerry contest they’re already assured there will be no meaningful change in America for the next four years. None. Zero. Zippo.

Before the delusional Democrats out there start peppering me with hostile emails about the absolute necessity of getting “anybody but Bush” in the White House, just stop yourselves long enough to consider these facts: Kerry supported Bush’s war on Iraq; Kerry supported Bush’s tax cuts; Kerry hasn’t proposed one major social or environmental initiative in over 20 years in the U.S. Senate; Kerry hasn´t put forward any meaningful policy initiatives in his campaign for the presidency regarding jobs or healthcare. Kerry’s campaign seems to be all about proving that he qualifies as “anybody but Bush.” And all that takes is a pulse.

Bush and Kerry are also, of course, both proud military men. Bush took the easy way out of the Vietnam War by joining the National Guard – whether he showed up or not is another matter. Kerry, as he’s so fond of telling us, served his country by running gunboats up and down the rivers of Vietnam. Brace yourselves, folks, because the Bush/Kerry contest will be filled with assertions and accusations about who loves the military more.

Kerry is really confusing on the issue of the military, too. Before pro-military audiences, Kerry trots out his military medals (three Purple Hearts!) and talks tough about his “duty and service” to the nation. But then he’ll stand before the Dean Democrats and talk about how he led the anti-war movement when he got home. Well, John, what’s it going to be: duty and service or conscientious objections?

It’s this kind of double talk that has littered the political career of John Kerry. He’s always hanging around talking out of both sides of his mouth until it’s safe to actually pick a side – and then only if he´s forced to. Kerry doesn’t need Botox injections; he needs a spinal transplant.

Then consider Kerry´s oft-quoted attacks on “special interests.” Apparently, his special interests are holier than Bush´s special interests. The truth, of course, is that they share many of the same special interests, all to the detriment of we, the non-special people.

While it pains me to invoke the words of David Brooks, a conservative columnist at The New York Times, he did sufficiently lampoon Kerry’s rhetoric on special interests in a recently published column entitled “Kerry’s Special Friends.” After detailing many of Kerry’s special favors to the high and mighty, Brooks concludes as follows:

“You just ask David Paul, one of the big figures in the savings and loan scandal, if Kerry didn't make him feel special. You just ask the high-tech executive Bob Majumder how special Kerry made him feel, at least until Majumder was charged with 40 counts of conspiracy, witness tampering, fraud, tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions. You just ask the law firms, the brokerage houses, the oil companies, the H.M.O.'s and the drug companies, which have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Kerry.

“Oh, he sometimes pretends that he doesn't care about our special interests. He puts on that callous populist facade. But deep down he cares. Maybe he cares too much. When he's out on the stump saying otherwise, he's just being a big old phony.”

Of the many similarities between the patricians Bush and Kerry, there’s nothing more disturbing than their membership in the super-secret and super-elite Skull & Bones club at Yale University. The fact that both men are members of this club and neither is willing to spill the beans on any of its internal secrets and favors should speak volumes about the apparent “choice” this nation is being offered on the November ballot.

“America is about to choose between two presidential candidates,” writes Sam Smith, editor of the indispensable Progressive Review (www.prorev.com), “who belonged to an organization whose values were infantile, elitist, misogynist, anti-democratic and secret and whose purposes include the mutual support and protection of its members as they make their into the upper ranks of American society and throughout their adult lives. Far from apologizing for this, the two candidates refuse to give open and honest answers about their participation. Further, at least one of the candidates, Kerry, has retained a close enough relationship to the organization to have sought news members from among his young acquaintances.”

If Bush v. Kerry is truly the choice being offered to the nation in November, we don’t even have to wait for the voting to begin in order to declare the winner. This nation’s power elites are not only poised for yet another victory, but they’re thrilled by the prospects of four more years of calm, non-threatening waters from which they float their political boats.

Edwards Wins SC Primary

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – February 4, 2004

The Charlotte Observer and the Associated Press reported that John Edwards won the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary.

The North Carolina senator beat John Kerry 45 percent to 30 percent, in early returns.

“Loser” Lieberman confirmed his loser status by packing his bags and going home.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll ran Bush against the Democratic candidates. Only Kerry and Edwards beat Bush. Kerry beat Busy 53 percent to 46 percent. Edwards beat Bush 49 percent to 48 percent.

May the best non-Bush win the presidency.

John Edwards for Pension Justice

Employee Advocate – www.DukeEmployees.com – February 2, 2004

Tim Funk wrote in The Charlotte Observer that the South Carolina Democratic primary will be between John Edwards and John Kerry. The polls have Senator Edwards in the lead.

John Edwards has the strongest pension plank of any candidate running. Maybe he will not make the same mistake that Al Gore made. He had a very strong pension plank, but he did not stress it. It became lost on his Web page. If one did not know the exact location of his pension outline, it could not be found by searching the site.

John Edwards’ stand on protecting pensions from cash balance skullduggery is the best thing he has going for him. He should be shouting it from the rooftops.

Read on for more about John Edwards:

Edwards Calls for Pension Reforms

Associated Press - June 18, 2003

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is calling for changes in the nation's pension system to narrow the gap between top executives and the average worker.

Edwards, a former trial lawyer who often cites his working-class background as the son of a millworker and postal employee, touted his proposal as a way to address pension inequities that he said are rampant at major companies.

``Executives at far too many corporations today use tricks and gimmicks to give themselves huge benefits while cutting pensions for workers,'' said Edwards, in remarks he planned to deliver Friday. ``The economy is still in bad shape and working people in Iowa and across America are counting on their pensions.''

The Associated Press obtained a copy of Edwards' remarks. The North Carolina senator planned to outline his plan at three campaign stops in Iowa.

The Edwards' proposal closely tracks legislation introduced by several House Democrats last month, including Reps. Charles Rangel of New York, George Miller of California and John Conyers of Michigan. The senator said he backed that bill.

Specifically, Edwards' plan would:

--Eliminate tax breaks for executive pensions that are disproportionate with most workers in a company. He pointed to a recent survey showing 40 percent of companies considering pension cuts for workers, ``but far fewer are considering cuts for top executives.''

--Force companies to allow long-tenured workers to remain in a guaranteed plan. When companies convert their pension system from guaranteed benefits to a ``cash balance'' system, many older workers can lose much of their pension.

--Prohibit ``golden getaways'' in which executives who know the company is headed toward bankruptcy protect their pensions in special funds.

--Eliminate a tax loophole which allows many executives to avoid paying taxes on some pensions. Plugging that loophole would save $1 billion over 10 years in revenue that's being lost, Edwards said.

``Some executive use massive 'top-hat pensions' to obtain huge benefits while cutting worker pensions,'' Edwards said.

Pensions are a major issue in Iowa, a state with a growing and politically active population of seniors. Iowa holds the first test of the election with precinct caucuses in January.

Edwards proposes middle class tax cuts

Associated Press – Ron Fournier - June 18, 2003

WASHINGTON - Sen. John Edwards promises to slash middle-class taxes by $160 billion over 10 years, his unique counterpunch to President Bush's re-election strategy of casting Democrats as tax-and-spend liberals.

"He only values wealth," the North Carolina lawmaker said of Bush in the text of a Tuesday address. "He wants the people who have the most to get more. I want to make sure everybody has the chance to do well."

Edwards, who would pay for the plan by eliminating some recent Bush-backed tax cuts for the wealthy, is borrowing a page from the political playbook of former President Clinton. Though he failed to deliver on his populist pledge as president, Clinton's 1992 middle-class tax plan negated the traditional GOP argument that Democrats can't be trusted to hold the line on taxes.

Edwards also hopes to distinguish himself in a crowded field of nine Democratic presidential hopefuls.

While the candidates are unified in their opposition to Bush's two major tax cuts - arguing that the measures favor the rich and divert money from health care and other domestic needs - they differ widely on how to counter the White House's tax-and-spend attacks. Some have proposed middle-income tax relief as part of broader health care or energy policies.

Edwards is the first candidate to package his middle-class tax cuts - the largest, apparently, of the field thus far - as a direct challenge to Bush's policies that he says favor wealthy Americans living off of unearned income such as inheritance and stocks.

"I know this president wants to make the next election about taxes. That's why I'm going to tell America the whole story: This president is the reason your taxes are going up. I'm going to cut them," Edwards said in an excerpts of his speech made available to The Associated Press.

"Their economic vision has one goal: To get rid of taxes on unearned income and shift the tax burden on to people who work," he said. "This crowd wants a world where the only people who have to pay taxes are the ones who do the work."

The plan, previewed by Edwards' advisers, starts by getting the government in the business of matching retirement plans such as 401 (k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts. Under his proposal - open to people earning less than about $50,000 _the government would match or nearly match individual contributions up to $500, much like what many companies do for their employees.

The plan also includes a tax credit of up to $5,000 for first-time house buyers with moderate incomes. The exact cap has not been determined.

To encourage more savings, Edwards would cut capital gains taxes to families earning less than $130,000 a year. They would pay no taxes on the first $1,000 of capital gains, and their rates would be reduced by about half beyond that. The lower rates applies only to stocks held for at least three years and gains of up to $10,000 per family.

Those same families would pay no taxes on their first $500 of dividend earnings.

Reversing Bush's tax cuts, Edwards would increase capital gains taxes on people earning more than $350,000. That would ensure that investment gains of the wealthy would be taxed at the same rate - 25 percent - as middle class incomes.

He also would repeal the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts as they apply to the top two income brackets - those earning more than $240,000.

Those changes to Bush's plan on dividends and capital gains would save the government $300 billion over 10 years, aides said. Edwards' tax cuts would cost half that, leaving the rest to pay down the federal debt. He said he will find money elsewhere to improve health care.

In contrast, Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean would repeal both Bush tax cuts, including provisions that benefit the middle-class, and spend the money on reforms that guarantee access to health care. They say health care reform would be a boon to the middle class.

Gephardt has pledged to follow up health care reform with a child tax credit and reductions in the estate tax and taxes on married couples, all geared to the middle class.

Dean has not decided whether there will be any money left after health care reform for middle-class tax cuts.

Other Democratic candidates call for repealing Bush's cuts in lesser degrees, and have offered tax cuts they say would benefit the middle class. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, for example, offers tax credits to small businesses and their employees to make health insurance more affordable.

Worker and Shareholder Bill of Rights

Employee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com – May 19, 2003

John Edwards Supports Employees and Investors

(5/18/03) - The Charlotte Observer reports that presidential candidate John Edwards has announced a pension plank – a Worker and Shareholder Bill of Rights. We congratulate Senator Edwards for being the first 2004 presidential candidate to do so.

The announcement was made at a town meeting in Iowa, sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Senator Edwards said his proposal would force equal treatment of CEO’s and workers and allow shareholders to control boards of directors! This is exactly what this country has needed for a long time!

John Edwards' plan would also require corporations to publicly compare the pay of workers and the CEO.

Senator Edwards mentioned that his brother is a union electrician and that his mother once belonged to the letter carriers union. She took the U. S. Postal Service job because the family needed the union insurance.

John Edwards told the crowd “Thank God for the union.”

In an interview, Senator Edwards said that he wanted to prevent corporate behavior such as by American Airlines executives setting aside $41 million for their own retirement in case of bankruptcy.

John Edwards wants special treatment of CEO’s to end, by the revision of banking and pension laws. This is the most meaningful investor and pension proposal ever presented by any candidate.

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