Voting between a rock-head and a hard sell - Ed Brock

This is going to be complicated, so stick with me, OK?

First, a quick note on last week's subject. I am still looking for verified 527 groups. One reader suggested a Web site called Opensecrets.org, which lists among others the anti-Bush groups "America Coming Together" and "MoveOn.org." I call these groups because I have yet to confirm their status as 527s. The site recommended to me by the Internal Revenue Service, Guidestar.org, doesn't list either group and some of the wording on America Coming Together's Web site indicates it doesn't qualify as a 527.

But perhaps I'll do more on that later.

This week I feel an urge to spell out exactly why I'm not voting for President George Bush.

It's a number of things, really, but the war in Iraq was the clincher. In a moment I'll explain what I think should have been done instead.

First, I want to say that I'm once again deeply dissatisfied with the choice we the voters have been given for November. I'll admit that, in my frustration with the Bush administration, I had paid little attention to John Kerry and what he stands for.

Now I know a few things about him, and some of it is unpleasant. I don't like the fact that he voted for the recent action in Iraq, but I am somewhat assuaged by his explanation to Time magazine that he expected George Bush to handle things differently.

Not a very good explanation, and neither is his explanation of why he voted against the money to support the troops we had committed to that misguided venture, but that's just not enough to sway my vote.

And let me just put one bunch of nonsense to rest right now. To think Kerry will not take the appropriate action if we are attacked again, or to prevent a future terrorist attack, is nothing more than rhetorical piffle.

Also, be done with misrepresentation of the "sensitive war" comment. Here's the full quote the appropriately named Vice President Dick Cheney pulled from to start this ridiculous bit of bluster.

Kerry told this to minority journalists at the Unity 2004 in August.

"I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side."

I've bolded all the other adjectives in that statement for my Republican readers with selective vision.

As for Kerry's voting record in the Senate, with its apparent lack of major legislation with his name on it, read the aforementioned Time article, featured in the Feb. 9, 2004 edition, for details on that record. Some of it I would question, and some I find reassuring.

Now allow me to explain why Bush's much-vaunted decisiveness has had a negative impact on the war with terror.

This is what should have been done.

Following the sad but necessary war in Afghanistan, I would have focused on intelligence gathering and specific strikes against terrorist targets. I would have realized that, though Osama bin Laden and his cronies are but part of the terrorist problem, it would not be wise to sidetrack my military resources until that fight was truly done.

Now, for doing away with Saddam, I would first have realized that the information I was receiving was dubious, and common sense would have told me that Saddam, much weakened by our ongoing restrictions, was probably not an immediate threat.

So, I would have pressed him to readmit the United Nations weapon inspectors to further limit his ability to mass produce the weapons of mass destruction, which, it turns out, he didn't have due in part to previous U.N. weapons inspections.

Had Bush been willing to be patient, he would have found out ahead of time that Saddam was actually losing control, that any number of people were actually ripping him off while he planned to write a book about his life. Then, maybe, a transition could have been forced without a direct invasion.

And, if after actually studying the situation and determining that a war was necessary to set things right in Iraq, I would have taken the time to make sure we had support not only from our important allies (I still say something could have been worked out about France, Germany and Russia's oil contracts), but primarily from the other Arab nations.

Which brings me to another important misstep by the Bush people in their swaggering policy, namely their treatment of Iran.

By labeling Iran as a member of the so-called "Axis of Evil" along with Iraq and North Korea, Bush dealt a hard blow against the rising democratic movement within that country. Having been stripped of his arguments about Iraq's supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction as justification for the war, Bush has been pushing this belief that the spread of democracy in the Middle East will have the long-term effect of disinclining the people there from participating in terrorism.

That's a good point, but why fight a war and invade a country when democratization is already an ongoing, natural process under way in Iran? That movement has been going on for the better part of the 20th century and, according to Hooman Peimani with the Asian Times, it is likely to succeed despite some setbacks.

Why wouldn't Bush support that? Two reasons, perhaps. Number one, the self-imposed democracy that may soon rise in Iran would not be one we control, but would have to be treated as an equal, according to Peimani, and I agree with that opinion.

Also, the process may take time, just as my aforementioned plan for dealing with Iraq would take time, and taking time just doesn't look very decisive, does it? And when you may only have four years to do the things you want to do, like finish Daddy's war, well time is not on your side, is it?

Add to this the fact that I disagree with Bush on most social issues, such as stem-cell research and gay marriage, and you see that my internal scale remains tipped to the left at this time.

But I'm running out of room, so allow me to sum up.

I'm not voting for Kerry because he's a Democrat. I belong to no party and would vote Republican if their candidate was a moderate who had a plan that I felt the country needed.

And I'm not voting for Kerry because I think he'll be a great president. Unfortunately, I'm not even voting for Kerry because I'm sure he'll make a better president than Bush.

I'm voting for Kerry because I hope he'll be a better president than Bush, and I'm pretty sure he won't be worse. That sounds pretty sad, but there are some other reasons for my decision that I'll go into next week when I dare to suggest what should be done now.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 extension 254 or at ebrock@news-daily.com .