A Cautious Man
September 30, 2004
Sad Eyes Never Lie
The gang at Fox News did not look happy after the Kerry/Bush debate.

That's about all the analysis you need, IMHO.

That Feeling of Safety You Prize
I was thinking about a variation of the old Ronald Reagan debate question, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

In the Bush/Kerry debate, which one should look at the camera and say, "Do you feel safer now, than you did on September 12, 2001?"

Personally, I don't think the President should use that line.

September 28, 2004
"I get up in the evening,
and I ain't got nothing to say ..."

So if your candidate is Senator John Kerry, do you have this fear that he'll get up at the first Presidential debate (the one on foreign policy), and just stand there while being accused of "flip-flopping" on Iraq? Me, too.

Now, if I were giving him advice (not that I have the opportunity to do so), I would suggest that he cut that attack off before it begins. His opening statement should be:

"Good evening. Nearly two years ago, on October 9, 2002, I addressed the Senate before we voted to give President Bush the authority to use force, if necessary, in Iraq. And what I said that day, is what I have continued to say ever since -
By beginning its public discourse with talk of invasion and regime change, the administration raised doubts about their bona fides on the most legitimate justification for war--that in the post-September 11 world the unrestrained threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein is unacceptable, and his refusal to allow U.N. inspectors to return was in blatant violation of the 1991 cease-fire agreement that left him in power. By casting about in an unfocused, undisciplined, overly public, internal debate for a rationale for war, the administration complicated their case, confused the American public, and compromised America's credibility in the eyes of the world community. By engaging in hasty war talk rather than focusing on the central issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the administration placed doubts in the minds of potential allies, particularly in the Middle East, where managing the Arab street is difficult at best.

The reason for going to war, if we must fight, is not because Saddam Hussein has failed to deliver gulf war prisoners or Kuwaiti property. As much as we decry the way he has treated his people, regime change alone is not a sufficient reason for going to war, as desirable as it is to change the regime.

Regime change has been an American policy under the Clinton administration, and it is the current policy. I support the policy. But regime change in and of itself is not sufficient justification for going to war--particularly unilaterally--unless regime change is the only way to disarm Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction pursuant to the United Nations resolution.
"And when I voted to give the President that authority, I did so with the understanding that he would not use it unless the threat was imminent, unless there was no other option, and unless he built a real coalition, including the Arab states, so that we would be able to win the peace -
And the administration, I believe, is now committed to a recognition that war must be the last option to address this threat, not the first, and that we must act in concert with allies around the globe to make the world's case against Saddam Hussein.

As the President made clear earlier this week, "Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable." It means "America speaks with one voice."

Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies.

If we do wind up going to war with Iraq , it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent--and I emphasize "imminent" -- threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs.

Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances.
"We know now that, after that vote, and action by the United Nations, the inspectors did return to Iraq, and were undertaking the difficult job of hunting for weapons of mass destruction, until the day President Bush told them to leave."

And, more stuff like that.

September 23, 2004
Rolling Stone Preacher
Do you see these Vote for Change concerts reaching undecided voters, or are they more to rally the energy of people who have made up their minds?

I always felt that the musician's job, as I experienced it growing up, was to provide an alternative source of information, a spiritual and social rallying place, somewhere you went to have a communal experience.

I don't know if someone is going to run to the front of the stage and shout, "I'm saved" or "I'm switching," but I'm going to try. I will be calling anyone in a bow tie to come to the front of the stage, and I'll see what I can do.

Mr. Springsteen has an interview in the latest edition of Rolling Stone, about his current outlook on politics and the Vote for Change tour coming up. Another, more serious thought from that article:
This has obviously been on your mind for a while. How did you come to this decision?

I knew after we invaded Iraq that I was going to be involved in the election. It made me angry. We started to talk about it onstage. I take my three minutes a night for what I call my public-service announcement. We talked about it almost every night on our summer tour.

I felt we had been misled. I felt they had been fundamentally dishonest and had frightened and manipulated the American people into war. And as the saying goes, "The first casualty of war is truth." I felt that the Bush doctrine of pre-emption was dangerous foreign policy. I don't think it has made America safer.

Look at what is going on now: We are quickly closing in on what looks an awful lot like the Vietnamization of the Iraq war. John McCain is saying we could be there for ten or twenty years, and John Kerry says four years. How many of our best young people are going to die between now and that time, and what exactly for? Initially I thought I was going to take my acoustic guitar and play in some theaters, find some organizations to work for and do what I could. I was going to lend my voice for a change in the administration and a change in the direction of the country.

Sitting on the sidelines would be a betrayal of the ideas I'd written about for a long time. Not getting involved, just sort of maintaining my silence or being coy about it in some way, just wasn't going to work this time out. I felt that it was a very clear historical moment.
A lot of people are feeling the frustration, of wanting to somehow make a difference this time. A lot of others seem to think that it doesn't matter. It's great to see that people who can do something in a big way, are out there saying, "This time it's really important."

I'll be at the Philadelphia show with the whole Cautious Family, including our first-time voter, the Cautious Son.

September 11, 2004
Into the Fire
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love

On September 11, I think of the morning of September 12. In my New Jersey community, about a dozen miles from, and within view of, lower Manhattan, we had spent the 11th not only viewing those terrible images, but worried about the fate of friends and neighbors who worked in the towers. Some eventually made it home, and some did not.

But on the 12th, as I woke to the radio, I heard a report that a New York City Fire Department chaplain was among the dead. Somehow, I knew immediately that it was Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest who had served in my parish in the town where I grew up. Although that was when I was just a kid, Father Mychal kept in contact with many, many families from the places he had served. He had baptized one of my brother's children, just a few years before. On the morning of September 11, my parents' home had two small photos of him on the side of the refrigerator, which they had received just a few months earlier. In each photo, he was wearing one of his "uniforms" – in one, his Franciscan habit, and in the other his Fire Department dress uniform. In both, he had the same wide grin and bright, excited look in his eyes.

On the 12th, there was another photo of Father Mychal, in the New York Times. In my edition, he wasn't even identified yet, he was just a man, a body slumped over being carried away from the destruction. But you could see his face, the mouth turned down and the eyes closed. He had rushed to the scene from his residence, the Franciscan friary on Thirty-First Street. He was killed as he stood ministering to the dead, the injured and the frightened, as the South Tower collapsed. Symbolically, the medical examiner designated Father Mychal as the first registered victim of the attacks, with death certificate number 1.

Less than 24 hours before his death, Father Mychal participated in the rededication of a fire house in the Bronx. As recounted in the book, Father Mychal Judge: An Authentic Ameican Hero by Michael Ford, as he addressed his fellow members of the FDNY, "Those who were present felt, in retrospect, that his words were valedictory":
We come to this house this morning to celebrate renewal, rejuvenation, new life. We come to thank God for the blessings of all the years that the good work has been done here and especially the last few days. … Keep supporting each other. Be kind to each other. Love each other. Work together … and from this house, God's blessings go forth to this community. It's fantastic but very painful. We love the job, and God calls you to it and indeed he gives you a love for it so that a difficult job will be well done. Isn't he a wonderful guy? Isn't he good to you, to each one of you, and to me? Turn to him each day, put your faith and your trust and your hope and your life into his hands. And he'll take care of you.
That picture I mentioned, of Father Mychal smiling in his Franciscan habit, can be seen on the memorial page located at this link, along with a short biography.

And that's what I think of on September 11.

September 09, 2004
"Singing Our Birthday Song ..."
Well, a whole year's gone by since the first Cautious Man random thought hit the ether. And what was my first brilliant insight? "Going forward, I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot about the approval, by the House and Senate, of resolutions authorizing military action in Iraq." Other than the fact that the resolutions are being used against Senator Kerry, and not President Bush in this election, I couldn't have been more wrong.

I just don't understand why more attention is not being paid to the fact that the Iraq invasion did not meet the criteria set by Congress. Remember, the President was authorized to use force ONLY if not doing so "will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq". Since then, we've learned that the alleged weapons of mass destruction, which we were imminently threatened with, were not there; and, that Colin Powell was given a completely phony set of arguments, to present to the U.N. Security Council in February of 2003. As I noted at the time, the sad and tragic fact is that Secretary Powell surely believed it when he said, in that February speech: "My colleagues, we have an obligation to our citizens. We have an obligation to this body to see that our resolutions are complied with. We wrote [Resolution] 1441 not in order to go to war. We wrote 1441 to try to preserve the peace. We wrote 1441 to give Iraq one last chance."

The other criterion in the authorization to use force was that an invasion would be "consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." Despite the many recent efforts of the Administration to conflate Iraq and Al Qaeda, the 9/11 Commission established and the fact remains that there clearly was no connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11.

So, this time last year I was annoyed that the President could not support either justification for the course of action he chose in Iraq. And one year later, we're up to over 1000 soldiers dead, in a war which everybody can see was launched without any proper authorization.

September 07, 2004
What Is It Good For?

What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
War is something that I despise
For it means destruction
Of innocent lives
For it means tears in thousands
Of mothers' eyes
When their sons go out to fight
To give their lives

("War", Barret Strong, Norman Whitfield)

As of right now, Iraq Coalition Casualty Count indicates that the one thousandth American soldier has died in the Iraq war.


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