Why I Can't Support George W. Bush
Rick Gagliano | 11/01/04

The Presidential Election is too Close to Call, Except from Where I Sit

There are many issues before the American public in this most important election, not the least of which should be, which candidate, George W. Bush or John F. Kerry can unite and lead our nation?

The short answer is that Bush has failed to do that in four years - and maybe hasn't really tried - and John Kerry is as yet unproven. But given the option of choosing between them, it's obvious that Republican George Bush has catered to the very single interests of the neoconservatives in positions of influence and they are not the interests of the vast majority of the American people.

Bush, after 9/11, firmly established himself as the nation's leader. We were in a state of shock following the terrorist attacks, and we followed emotionally, without the sound guidance of rationality. We backed the President's effort to invade Afghanistan, purportedly to catch or kill the terrorist leader and supposed architect of the World Trade Center bombings, Osama bin Laden.

Once inside Afghanistan, the message shortly began to be less clear. We were now after the Taliban, the ruling faction in the country. We were spreading democracy and freeing the people, though bin Laden remained, and is to this day, at large. In essence, the time, effort and lives lost in Afghanistan have been wasted. The military did not achieve it's primary objective, yet Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld, and their lot proclaim victory.

Also in our rush for revenge, the administration pushed through Congress the Patriot Act, granting the President and Justice Department wide and sweeping powers to combat terrorism and wage war while at the same time running afoul of the Constitution - the document the president is sworn to defend and uphold.

The Iraq issue is also most troubling in my view. We rushed into a war that was unnecessary and unjustified. We've lost over 1000 of our finest military men and women, countless more injured in battles for what? The freedom of the Iraqi people? Democracy in Iraq? Fighting terrorists abroad rather than at home? Those also were not our goals. Our only goal was to rid Iraq's leader of weapons of mass destruction. Since those weapons never did materialize and potentially never existed at all, the administration continued to shift the message, perpetrating upon the American public the most nefarious, degenerate, depraved, corrupt, immoral fraud in our history.

The war in Iraq, like nothing else in this campaign, has divided and polarized the electorate - and with good reason by my view. We should have never gone there, we should not be there and we should be making every effort to get out of there as soon as possible, regardless of the consequences.

On this point, I agree with neither candidate, though Kerry has made it perfectly clear that he does not support this particular war effort. Bush and his camp see the war in Iraq - or at least they try to convince us of this - as an essential effort in the war on terrorism. It is not. It never has been. It is simply a killing ground for American troops, Iraqis civilians and newly-trained combatants and a combination of insurgents, radicals and nuts. It was the brainchild of the neocons, of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Pearle and Wolfowitz and they will continue, if George Bush is re-elected, to wage this kind of war not only in Iraq, but to take their ruthless killing elsewhere throughout the globe.

In effect, terrorism, the bogeyman Osama bin Laden and the threat of more terror are the neocons' greatest allies. Why hasn't bin Laden been brought to justice or eliminated? Because the neocons need him and the idea of him, and they need terror - at least the threat of terror - or their existence becomes imperiled. It's a sick attitude that the neocons have embraced and, if allowed to continue, will ultimately destroy our union much sooner than the terrorists could ever have imagined.

For that reason, and the many other reasons that follow the neocon way of thinking - limitation of rights, police state mentality, "with us or against us" stance, kill or be killed, follow or you're unpatriotic - this administration must be shown the door. Any future president could do better than this one has done - isolating us and making the rest of the world unwelcome to and unsafe for Americans, killing, lying and covering up their mistakes under the guise of "national security." If Bush is reelected, there should be immediate movement in Congress for impeachment. He has lied, the Vice-President has lied, and they have committed acts of treason which threaten the security of the United States. They are criminals and they have displayed a criminal mentality.

What also is so troublesome about this election is how disinformed and misinformed the American people are on the issues, not the least of which being Iraq and how the President has misled the people and the media and mishandled the effort every step of the way. It is simply astonishing to think that so many people support the Bush campaign as to make this a close election. A trained monkey and a dead fish would actually be a better choice than Bush and Cheney.

This is why I am very concerned about this election. There are efforts underway by John Ashcroft and the Justice Department to disenfranchise as many voters as they can, ensuring a Republican victory. The timing and staging of events, particularly the appearance of a videotape of the villain, bin Laden, on Friday, October 29, are completely suspect, as are the intents of this administration, especially if given another four years to run amok in the global environment and at home.

I am not so much for John Kerry as I am against Bush. Kerry, in my view, can do no worse on matters such as terrorism and the war in Iraq than Bush. Bear in mind, Iraq is not Kerry's war; he will be only inheriting it if he wins. On other issues like outsourcing, jobs, education, foreign policy, the environment, repairing Social Security and reviving the economy, Kerry, while unproven, should at least be given the opportunity. His rival has failed utterly and completely in just about every policy area.

Finally, I don't believe George W. Bush is an evil man, though he may be. At the very least, he is a misguided soul who has surrounded himself with people who are likewise misguided or evil persons themselves. Whether this president has acted with corrupt and immoral intent or honestly believes he is doing the right thing, he is either sorely misguided or simply incompetent. He, and the people who surround him, must be defeated. Solutions: How to beat high gas prices and solve America's fat crisis at the same time
Rick Gagliano | 9/12/04

Two of the biggest problems facing America today - the high price of gas, and our national obesity - can be solved easily if Americans would only use their heads and show a little bit of fortitude and willingness to take matters into their own hands.

While those propositions may be a serious stretch of the imagination, and maybe more fantasy than reality, it's what's needed to keep America a dominant economy and slim down a nation that's been wolfing too many burgers and fries for far too long.

My proposal is simple: buy a bike - no, not a Harley! - and ride it every day. Now, that may seem far-fetched, to have every adult in America riding a bicycle, but it's really part of the American dream.

Most of us had bikes when we were kids, but gave them up when we reached driving age. That was our first mistake. Riding a bike provides great cardiovascular exercise and uses NO gas. ZERO. The only pump you have to sidle up next to occasionally is the air pump to keep your tires inflated properly.

One would think, with the inspiration provided by Lance Armstrong, who not only beat cancer but won a record 6 Tour de France titles, that Americans would be out riding in huge numbers. Unfortunately, we're mostly a nation of short-attention-span couch potatoes who cheer on our heroes from the comfort of our living rooms, gulping soda and munching on pizza. We, as a nation, don't have the ability to put 2 and 2 together and make a plan. Instead, we sit and wait and hope that the government will somehow get a grip on high Arab oil prices while at the same time do something about those growing love handles protruding over our waistlines.

It's not going to happen, people. We need to be more assertive about our own lives!

If 20% of adult Americans (drivers) rode a bike an average of 10 miles a day (it's about 30 minutes riding time), we'd likely see oil and gas prices dip by 10%. The added health benefit would be a more vigorous and slimmer people. Sure, you can still eat fatty foods, but you'd have to ride your 10-speed to Burger King to get them, so there's a negative incentive. And I'm here to tell you that after you ride about 3 miles, the last thing you want is some heavy food weighing you down.

To prove that I am serious about this, I've sold my car and now use my bike for just about all transportation. Fortunately, I live in an urban area, so shopping and work-related travel is minimal. Generally speaking, I need to buy food and supplies for my business, do some banking and make trips to the post office to ship products. I have a backpack within which I can heft about 10-15 pounds without noticeable strain, and my travel is generally less than 5 miles round-trip.

For heavy lifting, I borrow my dad's car, who lives about 4 miles away. I ride there, use the car, return it, and ride home. I've got that down to a maximum of two afternoons a week. In return for the use of the car, I buy the gas and keep it maintained. It's a great deal for my dad, who uses his car very little (he's retired).

While I'm not suggesting everyone go to the extremes I have, I am serious about the absolute need for Americans to become at least a little more creative, frugal and vigorous. One can purchase a good new mountain bike or road bike for less than $350, or used for under $150. Riding the bike for short trips on an average of 10 miles a day total will save about 3 gallons of gas per week (about $6), so your bicycle investment will be a net positive in a year or less.

After about two month, you'll likely see your clothing budget shrink, as you'll be able to get into a smaller size instead of having to move up. And you'll feel better; all of the things you need to lower will be: blood pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol, body fat all will be down.

So, get off that fat bottom and join a real American revolution. Tell the Arabs and Detroit that enough is enough. And show your kids what America is really all about - self-determination and perseverance.

If you have a story to share about the pleasures and benefits of cycling, email me here and maybe we'll publish your story.