Stop the Bush-Cheney money machine

George W. Bush hop-scotched the nation recently, raking in $20 million at $2,000-a-plate fundraisers, more than the combined total raised over three months by his nine Democratic rivals.

The Bush-Cheney campaign has exempted itself from federal fundraising limits by rejecting federal matching funds. Their aim is to raise $200 million. To get around the McCain-Feingold ban on corporate contributions, Bush-Cheney has perfected “bundling,” in which dozens of executives each contribute $2,000. Bush “Pioneers” each promise to raise $100,000, “Rangers” $200,000, and “Regents” $250,000.

It is the political equivalent of “shock and awe,” sowing fear and hopelessness among the people in the face of the GOP’s enormous arsenal of cash. The aim is consolidation of one-party Republican rule in the interests of a super-wealthy corporate elite in 2004. This elite has waxed fat with Bush-Cheney policies that insure trillions in corporate profits at the expense of working people and the poor.

Yet a Zogby poll shows public approval of Bush’s job performance slipping to 53 percent positive to 46 percent negative, lowest since before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. As of July 16-17, only 46 percent thought he deserved another term, while 47 percent said someone else should be elected. Only on the “war on terrorism” did Bush receive positive ratings, 59 percent to 40 percent, and even that is a dramatic decline. The numbers on health care: 36 percent positive, 61 percent negative; the environment: 31 percent positive, 65 percent negative; taxes: 45 percent positive, 54 percent negative; and jobs: 33 percent positive, 66 percent negative.

Bush and Cheney are vulnerable. The negatives are rising because the people are disgusted to see Bush raking in those millions while GIs die in Iraq, while millions are unemployed, without health care, while funds are slashed for public education. The obscene Bush-Cheney money machine can be brought to a halt Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2004. Now is the time to start registering voters to send this gang back to Texas.

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Peace on the Korean peninsula, now

Fifty years ago on July 27, 1953, an armistice agreement was signed that ended the three-year Korean War, a war that left five million people dead, injured or missing. Though the armed conflict ended with the hope of an eventual peace treaty, the Korean peninsula remains one of the most militarized areas of the world. Over a million troops – including 37,000 U.S. troops on 10 military bases – face off across the demilitarized zone between North and South, the largest landmine field in the world.

Despite North Korea’s repeated calls for normalization of relations and talks for a non-aggression pact with the U.S., when Bush came to power he ushered in a new level of war danger for the peoples of the region, citing North Korea as a possible target of a preemptive nuclear strike in the Pentagon’s infamous “Nuclear Posture Review.” He named North Korea as a country in the so-called Axis of Evil. The Bush administration has pushed the region ever closer to the edge of nuclear conflict, refusing to negotiate directly with North Korea despite encouragement from the governments of South Korea, China and Japan to do so.

Fifty years is too long for this simmering conflict to go on. Now is the time to end an old war, and for the peace movement worldwide to unite and support the right to independence, sovereignty and self-determination on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. Congress must step forward and challenge the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war with diplomatic initiatives.

The Korean people, North and South, have lived under constant fear of renewed armed conflict for 50 years. The dangers are greater in this new moment of preemptive, first-strike, regime change policies. We must demand that the Bush administration immediately begin bilateral negotiations on a non-aggression pact, start withdrawing U.S. troops, and shut down the U.S. bases on the peninsula. The Korean people must be allowed to proceed on a path towards co-existence and peaceful reunification.