Postscript: President Bush's 2nd inauguration

Bush takes oath, pledges freedom

The Pitt News - 1/21/05

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- George W. Bush was sworn in yesterday as the United States' 16th two-term president.

On a bitterly cold Washington, D.C., morning, thousands of supporters and a handful of detractors gathered at the Capitol and on the National Mall. Crowds stretched almost a mile, toward the Washington Monument.

Bush's first term officially ended at midday, but he began his second term four minutes before noon as he took the inaugural oath that every president since George Washington has taken.

Standing on the steps of the Capitol, the president recited the 35-word oath, following the frail-looking Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, 80.

Rehnquist, who suffers from thyroid cancer and was making his first public appearance in three months, was interrupted every few words by a loud respirator that echoed throughout the Mall from a multitude of loudspeakers.

The president's address mainly focused on foreign policy, and he pledged a greater role for the United States around the globe.

"The best hope for peace is the expansion of freedom in all the world," Bush said. "We have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master and no one deserves to be a slave."

Dave Whitt, originally from Beaver, Pa., who now works at the Pentagon, watched the president's address from the Mall. Along with his son, Whitt sported a Steelers hat. He praised Bush's speech as "inspiring."

"It is what I was expecting him to say," Whitt said. "However, although it is good to say these things, it is much harder to do than say. It is the challenge to make it happen."

Whitt said he appreciated the president's continual references to God and the reaffirmation of God's place in the legacy of the United States.

For instance, the president said, "From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights and dignity and matchless value because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and Earth."

There was also a strong military presence in the audience. Joe Hines, who serves in the U.S. army, said, "It was my first inauguration, and it was very enjoyable."

Because it was the first inauguration since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, miles of metal barricades enclosed the vicinity around the Capitol. Snipers lined the rooftops and thousands of armed police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs manned the surrounding snow-topped landscape.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who battled Bush for the presidency in the fall, watched the inauguration along with other lawmakers and the families of the president and vice president.

Throughout his inaugural address, which lasted about 17 minutes, Bush did not mention Iraq by name. But he implicitly mentioned the war in Iraq by responding to criticisms of his administration's foreign policy.

"Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty," Bush said. "Though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt."

Maria Braechel, a student at American University in Washington, D.C., complained of inconsistency in the president's speech.

"He is really just contradicting himself when he is talking about freedom because he has been taking freedom away from all Americans and others around the world," she said.

"What he is saying is ridiculous," Braechel added. "I go to school here in D.C., and the [public schools] are terrible. The U.S. is falling apart, and he is talking about 'prosperity'?"

Though police and Secret Service at the checkpoints around the Mall attempted to take away signs criticizing Bush, Braechel managed to bring in a banner that read, "War begins with W."

"The legal observers are doing a good job around the checkpoints, making sure people's rights are not being violated, and that they are allowed to bring in signs," she said, referring to legal teams around the Mall.

There were no major disturbances in the crowd as Bush spoke. The few people who had brought signs held them up to steely-eyed looks from the president's supporters.

Keith Nelson, a local student, wandered in and out of the crowd silently, holding aloft a placard that read, "Same old Cold War oil-dependent logic."

"These people don't know what's going on," he said.

But on the steps of the Capitol, the president continued his address, drawing upon the words of former President Abraham Lincoln, who had delivered his first inaugural speech 144 years ago.

"The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did," Bush said. "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

"By our efforts, we have lit a fire in the minds of men," the president said toward the end of his address. "It warms those who feel its power. It burns those who fight its progress. And one day, this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world." 


Bush makes final appearance

Pre-election touchdown for President Bush

The Pitt News - 11/2/04


(with Michael Mastroianni)

President George W. Bush made a final pre-election appearance in the Pittsburgh area yesterday morning at the Post-Gazette Pavilion, drawing more than 11,000 supporters from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

The president repeated his request for the votes of Democrats who are "not on the far left bank" of the political mainstream, as he characterizes his opponent, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

Bush began the rally in his customary manner, appealing to local concerns and asking the crowd "for your vote, and for your help." He promised voters in the Rust Belt a better future for the economically depressed region.

"I will support free and fair trade, and that will create jobs in this area for coal and steel," Bush said.

The president drew cheers from his analysis of the war on terror, saying Iraq and Afghanistan have greatly benefited from U.S. intervention during the last three years.

"Iraq is still dangerous," he reminded the crowd, "because it is headed toward democracy. In January, Iraqis will go to the polls. Just look how far they have come since the time of torture rooms and mass graves."

The president did not mention the Osama bin Laden tape that emerged Friday. The tape led political pundits to hail the arrival of the anticipated "October Surprise," an event immediately prior to the election that could seriously affect the outcome.

By contrast, both parties have used the bin Laden tape to justify their stance on terrorism. Democrats have highlighted the Bush administration's failure to capture the most-wanted terrorist, while Republicans have used bin Laden's appearance to channel support for Bush as a wartime president.

Yesterday morning, the president said, "we are systemically destroying the Al-Qaeda network," adding, "one of America's most powerful weapons in the war on terror is freedom."

Bush blasted Kerry's Senate record by naming him to "the flip-flop hall of fame," referring to the senator changing his vote on the $87 billion supplement to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

At one point the crowd heckled a number of protesters being led out of the pavilion by police. The president elicited one of the loudest jeers from the crowd by mentioning the political activism of actor Ben Affleck and filmmaker Michael Moore.

Several politicians and celebrities joined Bush on stage, including Senator Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Curt Schilling, pitcher with the world-champion Boston Red Sox.

"Everybody wants to be on a winning team," Schilling said. "Tell your neighbors you are voting for George W. Bush, and get them out to the polls, too."

"We need a solid team effort in Pennsylvania to reelect the president," said Lynn Swann, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver.

Bush assured audience members that "freedom is not only America's gift to the world. Freedom is the All Mighty's gift to each and everyone of us."

In closing, Bush asked the crowd to "stand with [him]" when they go to the polls today. 

President Bush rallies in a hanger outside Youngstown, Ohio

Bush invites Dems to Grand Old Party

The Pitt News - 10/28/04

(with Michael Mastroianni) 

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO - During one of his final pre-election appearances, President George W. Bush rallied yesterday in Vienna, Ohio, a town just a few miles from Pennsylvania, asking Democrats to support him when they vote on Tuesday.

Bush was introduced to thousands of supporters in a hangar at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport by Senator Zell Miller, D-Ga., who spoke at the Republican Convention in New York last month. Miller said his support of the president across party lines is because of the new threat of terrorism on American soil.

"Before [Sept. 11, 2001], I would never have thought of supporting Bush," Miller said. "After [Sept. 11, 2001], there is no choice but to vote Republican."

In response, Bush's first comments related his hopes for partisan cooperation.

"My vision is a vision for everybody, not one party," Bush said.

"Probably, the most important reason why you should vote for me is so Laura can be first lady for four more years," Bush said, referring to his wife, who accompanied him on stage.

While Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., campaigned at a rally in Rochester, Minn., the president attacked his record of changing his stance on various issues during his tenure in the Senate.

"People in this part of the world like someone who shoots straight," Bush said. "A president has to lead with consistency and strength."

Bush described Saddam Hussein as "a dangerous leader with a lot of explosives and weapons." He continued to say that since the beginning of U.S. operations in Iraq in April 2003, thousands of sites with weapons have been found.

"The senator is making wild charges about missing explosives [in Iraq], but he doesn't know the facts," Bush said, adding "a candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not fit to be our commander in chief."

He then accused Kerry of "saying anything to get elected." 

According to Bush, Kerry takes "a narrow view of the war on terror."

"As we are liberating millions of people around the world, the United States remains the greatest source of good in this world," Bush said.

Bush admitted that the economy suffered a heavy blow with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but he believes the economy is "strong now, and getting stronger."

He continued by attacking Kerry's planned tax cuts and record in the Senate. He said Kerry has voted to raise taxes five times a year on average for the last 20 years.

"That's what I call a predictable pattern," Bush said.

The president appealed to Democrats to support him on Election Day.

"My opponent is outside the mainstream of this country and the Democratic Party," Bush said. "If you are not on the far left wing, I would be honored to have your vote."

Bush described "great traditions" of the Democratic Party, referring to Franklin D. Roosevelt's concept of "absolute victory," Harry S. Truman's posturing at the beginning of the Cold War and John F. Kennedy's spread of American ideals over the world in the early 1960s.

"Kerry is running away from those traditions," Bush said. "I hope that people who usually vote for the [Democratic] party will take a close look at my agenda."

"I believe in this leader," said Irene McLennon, who drove from New Castle, Pa., to see Bush speak. "He has strong plans for this country, and he makes more sense than [Kerry]."

"I voted for Bush in 2000," said James Goldsmith, an Ohio native and Vietnam veteran also in attendance. "Neither Bush nor Kerry has given me a reason to change my mind now."

During the speech, a group of Kerry supporters lined the road outside the airport. Their chants and signs were out of range of the throngs of Bush supporters within.

"Bush is strangling this country," said Karen Littman, one of the protestors. "We're worried it may already be too late to get us back on the right track."

After departing the airport on Air Force One, the president and his wife visited other towns in Ohio. Yesterday was Bush's 15th campaign visit to the state, which has 20 electoral votes. In the key 18- to 24-year-old age bracket, to which both Bush and Kerry are attempting to appeal, there are more than 88,000 Ohioans registered to vote, nearly half of whom registered this year. 

Sharpton: If you're an elephant, don't wear donkey clothes

Rev. Sharpton whips up young voters 

The Pitt News - 10/25/04

Rev. Al Sharpton believes the country may be in danger of "heading back to a pre-1950s America."

On Friday, Sharpton warned a Democratic rally audience about the long-term effects of a potential victory by President George W. Bush on Nov. 2.

Sharpton, a former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, told the packed auditorium in the David Lawrence building that "whoever wins will affect the rest of this century, for they will be appointing one, if not two, justices to the Supreme Court. These are lifetime appointments."

Sharpton, a 50-year-old Pentecostal minister and civil-rights activist from Brooklyn, N.Y., ran in the presidential primaries earlier this year.

The campaign itself was more important to him than the results of the various elections and caucuses, he said, because he had a message to get out. At the time, he said, "I want to go to the [Democratic National] Convention and stop the party's drift to the right."

"We can't act like elephants in donkey jackets," he said, arguing that the Democratic Party acts too much like the GOP.

Sharpton was ordained a minister at age 10, and at 19, he went on the road with soul singer James Brown, later becoming his tour manager. In addition to his civil rights activism, Sharpton turned to mainstream politics in 1992 with a campaign for the U.S. Senate.

As part of the get-out-the-vote effort that each party is employing in the last week before the election, Sharpton has been touring the country on behalf of the Kerry/Edwards ticket. He has visited 12 states in the past two weeks, and he is set to speak in 15 cities in the important swing states this week.

"It will be the young voters who decide who wins and loses this election," Sharpton said on Friday, adding, "You are the swingers."

This generation, he told the audience, has rendered polling "obsolete." By law, pollsters have to call people on their home phones. The three million newly registered voters are not being counted and included in the polls, Sharpton said, because "your cell [phone] is your home."

Sharpton also spoke about the impact of a Bush victory on the Supreme Court.

"Think about how Bush can appoint a 40- to 50-year-old right-winger to the court," he said, "for it will be your children and grandchildren who will pay the price."

Referring to the reconstruction era after the Civil War, Sharpton argued that it was not the rise of the Klu Klux Klan that reversed Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and later brought in the Jim Crow era of segregation.

"It was not the men in white sheets; it was the men in black robes," Sharpton said, adding, "the greatest danger for the women, blacks, Latinos [and] gays in this country is the Supreme Court being stacked against them. We do not get a vote on the Supreme Court, but we do get a vote for the president who appoints [the justices]."

One of the pledges Sharpton made in his campaign for the presidency was to "secure the right to vote." The best way to avoid a repeat of 2000, in which recounts in Florida indicated that many black people were denied their voting rights, said Sharpton on Friday, is for John Kerry to win by such a margin that there is no doubt about who won.

It is "absurd" to Sharpton that the Democrats are having to "defend why [they] want the power." He also finds it "absurd" that the Bush campaign is "running around talking about Kerry's record."

"You cannot compare a non-presidential record with that of an incumbent," he said.

Priya Patel and Allison Johnston, both freshmen at Pitt, enjoyed Sharpton's speech.

"He focused on the right issue," Patel said. "He was very charismatic and motivational."

Matt Lancaster, a Democratic field organizer for the Kerry campaign in Allegheny County, said, "We're going to win big here; it just depends how big. We need Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to win by a large margin to offset all the space in between that will go to Bush."

"You can define your time in history on Nov. 2," Sharpton said Friday, adding, "You will remember back, in years to come, when the right wing had kidnapped the flag and the Bible, when America was going backward. We will be able to say we turned this country upside-down, and put it back in the right direction." 

Democratic nominee looks to election day

Kerry rallies in Pittsburgh

The Pitt News - 10/21/04

Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., brought his campaign to Pittsburgh last night, talking to an enthusiastic rally on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University.

"Never has there been an election with so much on the table," Kerry said to the crowd. "Never has there been an election when every vote counts so much."

President Bush, Kerry added, "does not have a record to run on. He has a record to run away from."

With 13 days left until Election Day, Kerry is concentrating on the important swing states that both candidates are striving to win. On Tuesday, the senator was in Florida, where early voting has already started. Yesterday he flew from Waterloo, Iowa, to Pittsburgh, arriving at around 6 p.m.

Aging rocker Jon Bon Jovi played three songs before Kerry's entrance. Bon Jovi warned the audience that "this election is important not just for America, but for the world."

Kerry commented that Bon Jovi has written two songs about the Bush administration, even if he didn't know it.

"One was about the present state of our health care; its called "Bad Medicine." The other, about the economy, is called "Living on a Prayer."

A Kerry campaign volunteer estimated that the rally was bigger than Al Gore's in 2000, which was staged in the same place.

Crowds began arriving at CMU early in the afternoon. As Secret Service agents and Pittsburgh police set up metal detectors and fences around the mall area of campus, lines stretched toward Forbes Avenue.

Before the gates were opened around 4 p.m., Edward E. Stevens, a Korean War veteran, explained why he supports Kerry.

"He is the best choice to straighten out this country and the world," he said. "We all need to be in the same groove when it comes to fighting these terrorists, so we need co-operation."

"The Bush administration," he added, "has been a disaster in many areas, especially in Iraq. That country is now a magnet for terrorists. It's a terrible situation."

As Kerry spoke on stage, a group of Bush supporters staged a protest outside the rally, holding banners and chanting. One banner read, "Like Communism? Vote Kerry."

According to Ryan Martz, a freshman at Pitt, there was conflict between Republicans and Democrats. It was a "heated event," he said.

"[The Democrats] were grabbing our signs," Martz claimed, "pushing us, and some were throwing water on us. The police had to break some people apart. It's just a difference of opinion. We shouldn't be fighting."

On stage, Kerry spoke on a wide range of issues. On Iraq, he repeated his pledge to "bring back our allies." America needs other countries around the world, he said, to fight with the U.S. against terrorism.

Kerry also spoke of America's needs at home. "Why are we having to import flu vaccines from England?" he asked, referring to the much-publicized vaccine shortage in recent days.

"Why are senior citizens having to go up to Canada to buy the vaccines, at a cheaper price? We should be making [the vaccines] right here in America."

Kerry called for the U.S. to return to an age of invention, mentioning the Wright Brothers' historic flight in North Carolina, and the space age of the 1960s. A Kerry administration, the senator said, "will recommit America to science and exploration. And we will do stem cell research that will help millions of American lives."

In closing, Kerry spoke of his vision for the economy. 

"I don't want Americans to work for the economy; I want the economy to work for Americans," he said.

As the U2 song "Beautiful Day" boomed through the large stage speakers, Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, walked along the crowd barrier shaking hands.

"It's like one of those rock concerts," said an older woman as she was being pushed by audience members reaching over each other to touch the senator.

Dave Farkas, a junior at Pitt, said he was "happy and surprised that Kerry came out and talked about stem cell research, and didn't dance around the idea like he did at the debates."

"This is the first political rally I've ever been to," Farkas said. "And I was really impressed by the size and intensity of the crowd. You felt the Kerry fever, and felt part of something."

"I saw the unity between college kids and old people," he added. "To see people so united behind a presidential candidate was incredible." 

Former Bush advisor slams war policy, aims

Richard Clarke warns Iraq War strengthens terrorism

The Pitt News - 10/14/04

The al-Qaida network is "alive and well," assured former senior White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke, in a public lecture at Pitt Tuesday.

Clarke said that al-Qaida and affiliate groups, which he described as "the jihadists," have carried out twice as many attacks around the world since Sept. 11, 2001, compared to the three years prior.

He added that the "mistake" of invading Iraq, and the current occupation, is in fact "strengthening the jihadists."

In relation to what the United States could do about the situation, Clarke said, "If we pull out now, [Iraq] will have become what President [George W. Bush] said it was [before the invasion]: a terrorist haven."

Clarke is an internationally renowned expert on issues of security and terrorism, and he has served under the last three presidents as a senior adviser in this capacity. For 19 years before his White House service, Clarke worked at the Pentagon, in the intelligence community and in the State Department.

The publication of his memoir, "Against All Enemies," earlier this year sparked significant controversy, as it sharply criticized the Bush administration's response to the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

On CBS's "60 Minutes," which aired the week "Against All Enemies" was published, Clarke said he thought Bush had "done a terrible job on the war against terrorism."

On Tuesday, Clarke expressed his dissatisfaction with the phrase "war on terrorism."

"Terrorism is a tactic," he said. "We are not fighting a tactic."

The jihadists, Clarke explained, form an organization whose goal is to "replace modern, moderate Muslim governments in the Middle East with 14th-century theocracies."

Contrary to what the Bush administration has claimed, Clarke said, the jihadists "do not hate us for what we believe, or what we have done, but because they see us as a major roadblock to [this] goal."

In "Against All Enemies," Clarke said that in the days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pushed for retaliatory strikes against Iraq.

"There was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaida," he said in his lecture Tuesday.

The bipartisan 9/11 Commission, he added, reiterated this judgment.

Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Clarke has argued that support for the al-Qaida network in the Islamic world has amplified. Support has grown, he said, from between 20 and 50 million people, to about 400 million.

"Popular support," he said in the lecture, "translates into political and financial support."

Al-Qaida members, Clarke said, have long argued that America is instituting a "new crusade." He contended that, in the last two years, popular opinion in the Islamic world has swung to this view.

"Muslims have seen the U.S. invade a country that had not threatened it," Clarke said. "They have seen the U.S. occupy Muslim lands and install a puppet government. What al-Qaida had argued has come true to them."

Clarke asked, why do Muslims see it this way?

"They see the same things we see, but from a different angle, and it's not totally untruthful," Clarke said, trying to explain the sources of these perceptions. In covering battles in Iraq, he said, Arab news networks do not reflect on the two or three U.S. soldiers killed, as U.S. coverage does, but on the 150 Iraqis killed.

Clarke argues in "Against All Enemies" that in the mistake of invading Iraq, and the claim that Iraq is the "front" of the war on terrorism, the Bush administration has "squandered the opportunity to eliminate al-Qaida."

"A new al-Qaida has emerged and is growing stronger," he said.

To the Bush campaign's claim that "three-quarters of al-Qaida's key commanders have either been captured or killed," Clarke said on Tuesday that those leaders have been replaced.

Clarke recounted a "slip" made by Rumsfeld earlier this year, in which the defense secretary said, "We are creating terrorists quicker than we are capturing or killing them."

"The Bush administration needs to do something about Rumsfeld," Clarke said. "Every now and again, he lets out the truth." 

Howard Dean sets sights on hope

Dean whoops his heart out, before said whooping did him in

(Getty Images)

Dean and Reed debate for raucous college crowd

The Pitt News - 10/11/04

Just as Ronald Reagan asked in 1980, former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean asked Thursday night, "Are you're better off now than you were four years ago?"

He also asked, "Do you feel safer?"

Dean posed these questions toward the end of a debate with Bush-Cheney campaign adviser Ralph Reed. The event, billed as the "Great Debate," was held in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room and began as a heated affair before Dean and Reed took the stage, with both making their cases to the press.

"We will talk about credibility of this president," said Dean, the former governor of Vermont. He later added, "Arguing with Republicans on issues such as Iraq is like arguing with a two-year-old."

Reed, former head of the College Republican National Committee and former executive director of the Christian Coalition, charged that it was "beyond the pale" for someone wanting to be commander-in-chief to "insult our allies in Iraq." He said John Kerry had been on the "wrong side of history on every national security issue of the last 30 years."

In his initial statement to the crowd of about 500 people, Reed made clear that terrorism and the war in Iraq were the key concerns facing the electorate in November.

"Make no mistake," he said. "[The terrorists] want to strike the United States of America. They are working with laptops in caves, with cell phones. They want to kill innocent civilians."

Dean made the case that the election could not be about Iraq alone, but also about domestic issues.

"It's about jobs," he argued, pointing out that "the [United States] is the last country in the civilized world to not give healthcare to its citizens."

After their introductory remarks, Dean and Reed faced unscripted questions from the audience.

Debate moderator Gordon Mitchell, an associate professor of communication at Pitt, contrasted this loose format with the "strict rules" of the presidential debate in St. Louis Friday night, in which audience members had to submit questions beforehand.

"People accused me of being an angry candidate," said Dean, blaming his perceived anger on Republican maneuvers in recent campaigns. Dean cited the defeat of Vietnam veteran Sen. Max Cleland in 2002, a Democrat from Georgia who lost to Saxby Chambliss after being accused of being soft on terror, according to Dean.

Cleland left three limbs in Vietnam, and his Republican opponent questioned his patriotism, Dean said, explaining that Cleland's opponent ran commercials using images of Cleland with images of Osama bin Laden.

"I am nauseated by the Right talking about patriotism," Dean said, "when neither George Bush, Dick Cheney, nor [Donald] Rumsfeld, [Paul] Wolfowitz, or [Richard] Pearl served in uniform. John Kerry did."

"I honor everyone who has served in uniform," Reed retorted, "but it is not questioning someone's patriotism to question their voting record."

Many issues were addressed in the almost two hours of debate. While questions ranged from the USA PATRIOT Act to the Kyoto Treaty, the debaters mostly concentrated on the Iraq war and terrorism.

Dean quickly brought questions about the environment back to the issue's implications in foreign policy.

"We need a president who understands the importance of renewable energy, who understands that a thirst for oil is directly related to our national security," he said.

Regarding Bush's refusal to sign the environmental Kyoto treaty, Reed told the audience, "the policy to not sign Kyoto is not just President Bush's; there was a 98-0 decision in the Senate not to sign. If China, India and Brazil will not agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half, why should we?"

Reed, in closing, again made the case that the war on terror was the "transcendent issue of our time."

"The question we face," he said, "is what strategy, and what leadership, do we need for the civilized world to triumph over terror."

Dean argued that although neither candidate is perfect, "one has led us for four years in the wrong direction." He added that "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Mitchell commented afterward that the "vocal audience" did a "good job of staying engaged" and asking thoughtful, intelligent questions.

Both Democrats and Republicans have reiterated the importance of the first-time voters as Election Day approaches.

In their separate press briefings, Dean and Reed credited Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for its impact on young voters; both men have recently appeared as guests on the program. Reed commented that "half of 18- to 24-year-olds get their news of the campaigns from the show."

Reed, referring to the reasons for staging debates in university cities like Pittsburgh, said "Any chance to get young people, we will take."

Concurrently, Dean stated, to applause: "If the youth vote turns out, we win." 

Mr Kissinger comes to town

Kissinger throws weight behind Bush

The Pitt News - 10/7/04

Henry Kissinger spoke at Heinz Hall Tuesday night, spelling out his support for the Bush administration and what it holds for the future of American foreign policy.

Kissinger is a giant in the world of geo-political affairs, having served as Secretary of State under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and as national security advisor for six years.

"History will describe the events of the last three years as one of the most seminal events of our time," he said. "Never before have we been able to see foreign policy enacted in real time."

The great significance of events since September 11, 2001, Kissinger said, is that "private groups, not states, have now been able to attack nations."

Furthermore, he said, "the emergence of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of irresponsible, small states is a threat inconceivable only a few decades ago."

Kissinger is famous for his approach to international relations and his foreign policy initiatives while in office -- namely, peace-brokering with China in 1972 and his attempts to achieve peace between Israel and Palestine in 1973. But his political career is also marked by controversy. Kissinger supported authoritarian regimes in Chile, Argentina and East Timor, as well as the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War.

In relation to these latter policies, more than a dozen people gathered to protest Kissinger's speech outside Heinz Hall, holding up banners and berating those entering the building.

"He's a war criminal!" shouted a woman at a smartly dressed couple entering the hall.

"She knows! That lady knows!" she screamed loudly as they walked inside.

Across the street, a "Counter-Kissinger" event screened the documentary "The Trial of Henry Kissinger," based on the book by Christopher Hitchens which accuses him of war crimes.

In the book, Hitchens argues that Kissinger should be tried for these offenses along with his political partners and friends who have recently faced arrest and conviction; General Augusto Pinochet of Chile, Slobodon Milosevic of the former Yugoslavia and Major General Suharto of Indonesia.

Today, Kissinger cannot travel to some democratic countries around the world because of standing indictments against him for crimes against humanity.

In a question and answer section of Kissinger's lecture, an audience member asked, "How do you respond to the protests outside, accusing you of war crimes? Are you flattered to still be picketed?"

"My memoirs are an accurate account," he replied.

"These people have taken things out of context, a sentence here or there. I do not debate with them," he added.

In his lecture, Kissinger stressed the need for negotiation and diplomacy in dealing with the multitude of threats facing America in the modern world.

Stressing the need for dialogue, Kissinger gave examples of the threats posed by countries like Iran and North Korea, which possess nuclear arms.

He noted that China has more to worry about than the United States when it comes to North Korea. Describing the small Communist nation as "weird," Kissinger noted that 50 percent of the country's gross national product is spent on the military, while 100,000 die each year of starvation.

Kissinger has worries about Iraq's future, although he supported the initial case for the invasion.

"It is a difficult situation, having to create a stable society in a country of such complexity," he said. "[Iraq] was created in 1920, and has never seen a democratic government. To let the state slip into the hands of fundamentalists would be a disaster."

Kissinger ended his remarks with the observation that it is not possible for one nation to fully dominate the world.

Furthermore, in reference to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, he spoke of his obsession with the history of World War I during his years in public life.

"Although it all started with a peripheral event," he said, "nations did not know how to stop. Eventually the sacrifices got so great, with each country needing victory so bad, that none knew how to end the war." 

Then Sec of State Kissinger confers with President Nixon aboard Air Force One

George Soros addresses challenges ahead

Philanthropist aims for "good deed" in stopping Bush

The Pitt News - 10/6/04

George Soros has one mission right now: to defeat President George W. Bush on Nov. 2. Success in his mission, Soros said, would be the "greatest good deed [he] could do for the world."

"I am afraid that we have entered a vicious circle of escalating violence, where our fears and their rage feed off each other," said the billionaire philanthropist, as he began a nationwide speaking tour at Pitt yesterday.

Soros spoke to an enthusiastic audience Tuesday afternoon at Teplitz Memorial Courtroom in the Barco Law Building.

"Bush's war in Iraq has done untold damage to the United States," he said. "If we re-elect him now, we endorse the Bush doctrine of preemptive action and the invasion of Iraq, and we will have to live with the consequences."

Soros reminded the audience that, while Americans count the body bags of American soldiers, "the rest of the world also looks at the Iraqis killed daily."

"There have been 15 times more [Iraqis killed than Americans], he said, adding that "far too many were totally innocent, including many women and children."

"Every innocent death helps the terrorists' cause by stirring anger against America and bringing them potential recruits," he said.

Iraq, he repeated more than once, "was President Bush's unintended gift to bin Laden."

Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1930. He survived the Nazi occupation and fled the Communist rule of Hungary in 1947. In the United States, Soros accumulated billions of dollars through an international investment fund that he started with $5000.

In his speech, Soros repeated what he learned from his experience with totalitarian regimes, and from studying under the influential philosopher Karl Popper at the London School of Economics.

"Fascism and communism are similar in that they proclaim to hold an ultimate truth. But it is better to live in an open, imperfect society in which change is possible," Soros said.

Soros leveled strong criticism of the Bush administration's domestic actions following Sept. 11, 2001.

"For 18 months, [Bush] managed to suppress all dissent by calling it unpatriotic," Soros said."That is how he could lead the nation so far in the wrong direction."

Soros became an active philanthropist in 1979, promoting democracy and open societies. His foundation network spends about $450 million every year in 50 countries throughout the world.

Pittsburgh was the first stop on a one-month tour of the country. He is expected to spend as much as $3 million delivering his anti-Bush message in 12 major cities.

Soros has given himself over to a high level of media exposure for the cause of unseating Bush.

"I don't normally do this, but these are not normal times," he said yesterday.

The 74-year-old has been called a "sleazoid" by Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly, who also said Soros sits "as far left as you can get without moving to Havana."

Soros said he has been "demonized by the Bush campaign." In his opening words yesterday, he said he hopes his views will be heard despite this, for it is his belief that the president is "endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests and undermining American values."

Last week, Soros ran a two-page ad in the Wall Street Journal detailing his critique of the Bush administration -- something he did in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday, and will do in 35 other newspapers during the course of his month-long campaign.

To the question of whether his campaign has been well-received within the financial community in which he made his fortune, Soros said he had received many supportive calls from friends after the Journal ad ran. He nevertheless told the press briefing after the speech, with a smile, that it may appear he is "biting the hand that feeds [him]."

Soros said he was not in contact with the Kerry campaign, and that he did not speak for Kerry.

"I am not a surrogate," he said, and throughout the speech and in his literature, there is no overriding pro-Kerry message.

For Soros, the defeat of Bush is imperative. Indeed, this election, he said, "is the most important of [his] lifetime."

Speaking to the National Press Club last week, Soros said he realizes that what he says is bound to be unpopular.

"We are in the grip of misperceptions fostered by the Bush administration," he said. "No politician could say it and hope to be elected. That is why I feel obliged to speak out."

The "vicious circle" that he is afraid of, Soros said yesterday, is "not likely to end soon".

"If we re-elect President Bush, we are telling the world that we approve of his policies, and we shall be at war for a long time to come."