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Stateside with Rosalea: 2004 Election


Stateside with Rosalea: 2004 Election

The Beginning Of The End

By Rosalea Barker

Am I the only person to think it was weird that the USS Ronald Reagan was launched yesterday while Bush was in Africa? Is there a back story here to do with the Reagans and the Bushes? Did George W. offend the Navy in some way with his photo-op a few months ago? Is he simply becoming an embarrassment to the administration and his party, or is impeachment seriously in the wind?

There is much speculation that his trip to Africa had less to do with AIDS and more to do with trying to cosy up to the African American vote here at home, which has traditionally been associated with the Democrats in urban areas. An article by Allan Greenblatt in the July issue of Governing, entitled The Two-Sided South, gives a more up-to-date reading of recent election results. Although the article is from the perspective of state rather than national elections, the forces at work - such as gerrymandered districts that effectively divide the region into black electorates and white electorates - apply to both.

It is hard to see where Bush's sudden interest in Africa has come from, but by publishing almost daily transcripts of what the tele-evangelist Pat Robertson says on the subject of Liberia, the Washington Post seems to be hinting that the trip is less to do with AIDS and more to do with Bush's evangelical beliefs. Combined with a recent report in the Israeli daily newspaper Ha'aretz that Bush said "God told me" to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, it kind of looks like we have one loopy dude for president.

I'm reluctant to come to that conclusion, but one comment that has stuck in my mind from not long after 9/11 is a report from a respected journalist who was given a tour of the White House by the president and came away remarking on the almost obsessive way Bush kept showing him a gold cross that Russian president Putin had given him.

The Africa sortie - like the occupation of Iraq - will backfire in a major way. Poor folks at home in the US cannot see the sense in spending billions of dollars on lands far away, and the number of folks who are plummeting from the middle class to the welfare class as jobs disappear is growing, adding more resentment towards foreign intervention and/or aid.

If it's easy to paint the Bush administration as having acted out its imperial ambitions in order to conduct weapons research, it is equally as easy to paint it as being anxious to turn the entire continent of Africa into the equivalent of an open air concentration camp where the inmates can be experimented on by drug manufacturers.

According to ACT UP, an AIDS activist group, the truth about African AIDS is as follows: HIV antibody tests are not required for an AIDS diagnosis in Africa; African AIDS is diagnosed by four very imprecise clinical symptoms - diarrhea, fever, persistent cough, and weight loss greater than 10 percent over two months; tuberculosis, malaria, and measles far outnumber cases of AIDS in Africa; and AIDS is not the leading cause of illness or death in any African nation.

Given that those four symptoms are common to many diseases that are easily treatable by drugs that already exist, and even preventable if a hygienic supply of water and a plentiful supply of food is available, you have to wonder if a greedy pharmaceutical industry hasn't gotten to a gullible president through his evangelical vanity vein.

And you have to wonder just who will be vice president as the nation goes to the polls in November 2004.


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