Chris Fearnley's 2004 Presidential Election Notebook

I am a design science revolutionary which means that I am primarily apolitical. The design science revolution is a technological one. Technology includes social constructs such as the machinery of our government and the public discourse so essential to Democracy. The 2004 election is extremely important because it is the first time in decades that one political party, the Republicans, control all of the major branches of our government: the executive, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. For a lower case 'd' democrat like myself the prospect of unchecked Republican power is ominous. The objective of this notebook is to record my writings to try to frame the political discourse in a civil and comprehensively considerate manner. I will endeavor to be courteous, respectful, incisive, truthful, and logically rigorous. Please send feedback to

Subject: A lesson from this election's cognitive dissonance
Date: 6 November 2004

For the first time in history, a President is reelected despite not winning the popular vote in his first term. The promotion of a "culture of life" includes the hypocritical moral values of a bloodbath for oil in Iraq and serious violations of the Geneva conventions. A President who is allegedly strong on terror, loses in every state where the 9/11 terrorists struck (and by 85% in NYC, site of the worst of 9/11). Strident, violent vengeance is embraced by the leader of so-called compassionate Christians. Lies about WMD and the non-connection between Saddam and 9/11 are believed by the majority of the winner's voters. Most of the country wants change, but votes for more of the same. Even the Red Sox won! Past is not prologue. My calculus of justice itself is stymied.

Insight comes only when I remember the words of Buckminster Fuller: "Dare to be Naive". We humans are fundamentally ignorant about how the world really works. We need to acknowledge that. The most important lesson I take from the Presidential election is that we cannot afford to wait for voters or politicians to secure our future. They didn't protect us on 9/11 and it is clear to me that they won't protect us in the future. It is each of our individual responsibilities to set the world right, to join in common purpose to make the world better in whatever little ways we can but with greater urgency than in times past. Our future freedom depends, as I believe it always has, on the collective integrity of each individual to do what they see as just and right.

U.S.News & World Report publishes my 13 October 2004 letter.

Al Gore Speaks on Iraq Monday, October 18 , 2004 at 12:30pm Gaston Hall, Georgetown University Washington, D.C.

Subject: President Kerry would show civility and respect
Date: 16 October 2004

Reflecting upon the debates today, I am most struck by how respectful Kerry was when disagreeing with President Bush. He always explained the facts or the policies with which he disagreed and why. Kerry disagrees sharply with Bush, but in the debates he never so much as implied that Bush's ideology or character were "bad". That's respect. President Bush tended to flatly assert that this or that thing Kerry said was "inconsistent" or "liberal". Bush rarely gave a deeper rationale for his disagreement. It gave the impression that Mr. Bush only sees the world in terms of Black and White, Right or Wrong. That isn't leadership, it is called divisiveness.

Our President is America's face to the world. Kerry proved to me by his respectful discourse in the debates that he would show the world tolerance and respect. Kerry showed that he has a deep understanding about how to disagree and battle with the opposition in a respectful and positive way. Several times he reached out to President Bush with compliments and accord (only reluctantly did Mr. Bush return the favor). I am starting to really see how Kerry could restore America's respect in a world that feels betrayed by President Bush's blunt "You're with us or against us" conceptuality. And maybe, just maybe President Kerry's respectful approach will bring civility back to American politics.

Jim Lobe, "Security Scholars Say Iraq War Most Misguided Policy Since Vietnam", (Silver City, NM & Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, October 13, 2004).

Subject: Bush shows unsteady emotions and weakness on unemployment in third debate
Date: 13 October 2004

Bush was incoherent and repetitive in the first debate, overly angry and aggressive in the second, and nervously smiley in the third. My concern is that our President in a tense debate setting (not unlike the strained situations involved in international diplomacy or getting congress to work with him to solve complex budget issues) has trouble managing his emotions. Kerry was much steadier, he varied his emotions to the situation, he seemed much more Presidential in both mood and stature.

Bush's answer to a question about unemployment was to offer the promise of a good education, going to "a community college which is providing the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century". If someone is unemployed how can they afford to go to college? The tax cut doesn't help someone who is unemployed. Bush is right that education is important for jobs in the long term, but he completely failed to address the immediacy of the current situation (we are adding too few jobs to even keep up with population growth). Kerry spoke to the most salient issue: "help workers to transition in every respect".

It strikes me that those are two of the most important observations about the third Presidential debate.

Presidential Debate of 13 October 2004

The Washington Post's transcript of the 13 October Presidential debate.

FactCheck: New And Recycled Distortions At Final Presidential Debate

CATO Institute Report: May 7, 2003 A Case for Divided Government argues that when power is shared in Washington, government works better.
CATO Institute rankings of fiscal spending by recent Presidents

A Failed "Transition": The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War By the Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy In Focus.

Presidential Debate of 8 October 2004

  1. The Washington Post's transcript of the 8 October Presidential debate.
  2. Distortions Galore at Second Presidential Debate

Vice Presidential Debate of 5 October 2004

  1. Washington Post's Transcript of the Vice Presidential Debate
  2. Cheney & Edwards Mangle Facts in their Vice Presidential Debate
  3. FPIF: Fact and Fiction in Foreign Policy: Misleading Foreign Policy Statements Made by the Candidates in the Vice Presidential Debate

Subject: The source of Kerry's fresh credibility
Date: 3 October 2004

The Bush administration told America and the UN that Saddam was a serious threat. Dick Cheney warned about a mushroom cloud, Bush said Saddam was trying to get uranium from Africa, and the whole administration said that Saddam had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). None of which turned out to be true: there were no WMD, no active nuclear programs, no active WMD programs. America has a serious case of egg on its face. The international cold shoulder that President Bush is receiving is due to the fact that very few nations trust him after his unjustified Iraq war. I too lost my confidence in President Bush's integrity. That is why Kerry is the source of fresh credibility for America again. By highlighting the problem of Bush's untrustworthiness, Kerry showed that he will be able to restore America's respect as an honest truth-telling nation.

Subject: Kerry's approach to fight terrorism seems more balanced and comprehensive
Date: 2 October 2004

In the debate President Bush said that the centerpiece of his terrorism policy is "to stay on the offense". Senator Kerry outlined his multi-point plan: bring a fresh credibility to lead strong alliances, reach out to the Muslim world, strengthen our military, strengthen our intelligence, go after the financing more authoritatively, vigorously oppose nuclear proliferation, invest more in COPS, fix some of our tunnels and bridges and most exposed subway systems, inspect more containers in our ports, x-ray the cargo compartments, fully staff our firehouses, better protect the nuclear and chemical plants, as well as kill the terrorists with an offense. I get the impression that the Bush plan was to attempt a knockout punch with large-scale military operations in the middle east (I can't believe they really want endless war). Kerry's approach is to proceed with many more smaller but significant strengthenings. I think Kerry's more balanced and comprehensive approach will work out much better because the world is complex and big operations involve tremendous costs and risks that can easily backfire (witness Iraq).

Subject: Kerry showed how we can get out of Iraq honorably
Date: 2 October 2004

When Senator Kerry said "I will make a flat statement: The United States of America has no long-term designs on staying in Iraq", it showed that he has a deep understanding of the cause of the resentment fueling the Iraqi insurgency. When he said that, I finally saw that he can deliver on his promise to get us out of Iraq honorably. Kerry would bring a fresh start and new credibility to moving Iraq from an American occupation to a young democracy. When President Bush's claims that we would find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq proved to be untrue, he lost the credibility needed to win the peace in Iraq. Kerry convinced me that his new credibility would bridge the gap.

The Washington Post's transcript of the 30 September Presidential debate.

Subject: Kerry showed strong, incisive leadership on nuclear proliferation
Date: 1 October 2004

When Kerry introduced the issue of nuclear proliferation as the number one threat to America, he showed strong and incisive leadership. During President Bush's watch, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved their "doomsday clock" from nine minutes to midnight to seven. Their reason was the slowness in securing nuclear material and "U.S. abandonment of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and U.S. efforts to thwart the enactment of international agreements designed to constrain proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons". Kerry incisively pointed out Bush's failure to lead on this critical issue. Kerry also showed how President Bush's program for bunker-busting nuclear weapons sends a mixed message to Iran and North Korea. Kerry's leadership on this issue stands in stark contrast to President Bush's failure to prevent North Korea from building nuclear weapons.

Subject: Kerry was strong, decisive, and Presidential in the debate
Date: 30 September 2004

Kerry impressed me with his leadership in the discussion on nuclear proliferation as the most significant threat we face. Bush seemed too relaxed, nonchalant, and folksy for a war time President. I thought it was confusing when he said that the future of Iraq is in the Iraqis hands (is that why they are killing our troops?). In a time of war, we do not need a nonchalant, folksy leader, we need one with incisive ideas who can use his smarts to do the job right. Kerry impressed me about that.

It was a telling vignette when Kerry joked about some of the things the Bush daughters said and Bush responded by saying that "I'm trying to put a leash on them". Kerry smartly pointed out that he learned long ago not to do that. It made Bush seem patriarchal, not modern. It was Bush's patriarchal decision to go to war in Iraq without a broad coalition and without the troops or the plan needed to win the peace that has put us in a vulnerable position in the middle east. It spoke volumes about the quality of the men in that exchange.

Subject: A very troubling Republican ditto-head campaign
Date: 25 September 2004

I am very troubled by the stream of ditto-head, "talking point" derived comments that have been delivered by several key Republican leaders to try and associate John Kerry with the innuendo of increased likelihood for a terrorist attack. It started with Cheney's comment about us getting "hit". President Bush added to the message with his comments about the danger of "mixed signals". Deputy Secretary Of State Richard Armitage said that Iraqi insurgents are working to influence the US election. Orrin Hatch, Dennis Hastert, and Oliver North have all piled it on saying similar things. This is scary talk. If there is evidence that the terrorists have a plot of this nature from captured cell phone conversations, terrorist web sites or informants, then the American public needs to know the facts and have it independently verified. Otherwise, this is simply an insidious, baseless attempt to smear John Kerry from the core of the Republican party. America deserves (after 9/11) to have an intelligent discussion of ideas and analysis of the candidate's records, not baseless smearing and fear-mongering. We deserve better.

Subject: Bombing cities filled with civilians is wrong
Date: 25 September 2004

Yet again this morning's news includes reports that an American bombing of a suspected insurgent position has killed women and children. What happened to the effort to win over Iraqi "hearts and minds"? Bombings in heavily civilian areas tend to entrench an insurgency. It happened in Vietnam, it is happening in Iraq. Has President Bush so lost his patience and his moral integrity that he would sanction risky bombing operations that are certain to strengthen the insurgency and continue killing women and children? The only way to control the insurgents is to send in tens of thousands of troops. We need to stop killing women and children with indiscriminate bombs.

Subject: Integrity, trustworthiness and the war in Iraq
Date: 24 September 2004

A key element in the debate around this year's election is the integrity and trustworthiness of the Presidential candidates in respect to the war in Iraq. In President Bush's 2003 state of the union address, he alleged that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa and had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. In fact, these claims turned out to be unwarranted. By leading America to war based on a litany of groundless allegations, President Bush severely damaged America's respect as an honest peace-loving nation. Never before did America "cry wolf" over matters of war and peace. Even if there was no intent to lie, Bush's judgment and integrity on matters of national security will never again be trusted at face value by most Americans let alone the rest of the world and its leaders. Although I recognize that complete integrity is impossible for finite humans to fully achieve, we should demand the highest standards of integrity from the President of the United States of America. This President lowers those standards below my personal threshold.

Subject: Changing strategy and tactics is necessary in war
Date: 22 September 2004

In military briefings about Iraq, our generals often explain that in war they must continually adjust tactics and strategy to deal with an ever changing enemy. Evidently, our military understands this critical element for success in war: it is imperative to incisively respond to the salient aspects of the actual situation. President Bush's warning "not to wilt or waver or send mixed signals to the enemy" caricatures his failing to appreciate the need to change tactics and strategy when faced with new facts. When I listen to John Kerry talk about Iraq, I do not hear "wilting" or "wavering", I hear a man who is continually evolving his thinking about how best to adjust our tactics and strategy to win the peace in Iraq. President Bush needs to learn something from the US military: in both life and war it is often necessary to change your position when faced with unexpected facts and factors. It is pure obstinacy to steadfastly stick to an ineffective policy.

Subject: Why do some wars divide America?
Date: 20 September 2004

America rallied together for WWII and Bush's war against Al Queda in Afghanistan. Why is it that America divided over the Vietnam and current Iraq wars? I submit two speculations that deserve careful thought. First, wars tend to receive widespread support if they are in direct response to significant attacks (e.g., Pearl Harbor, 9/11, etc.). This makes sense because the strategy of "tit for tat" has been shown to be the best policy for building and policing cooperative win-win relationships. Secondly, united support for wars can be sustained when they START with widespread support. Neither Vietnam nor the current Iraq war had strong support at the beginning. America always gives its commander in chief the benefit of the doubt. But if the President doesn't win a quick victory or start with enough support to get the full commitment of most Americans, divisions start to form and begin to fester. In conclusion, it may be that in a Democracy with free speech, we are only able to remain united in war when the cause and the stakes are clear to a large supermajority of Americans from its beginning.

Subject: Seeking victory against terrorism
Date: 19 September 2004

Consider the incisive quote from Sun-Tzu's The Art of War: "In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns." President Bush has sold us an arduous, bloody campaign against terrorism. A strong leader would focus steadfastly on victory, instead of getting distracted by a crusade to try to impose democracy by force of arms in the Middle East. Bush's battle cry that we "fight the terrorists abroad" is not a strategy for victory, it fails to address the root causes of terrorism and assumes we can outspend and outlast them in a lengthy, bloody war with no end in sight. As a result of the quagmire that Bush's Iraq campaign has generated, terrorism has launched a successful and growing counterattack practically every day this past past month. President Bush doesn't seem to understand the art of war. America desperately needs leadership that understands what it takes to get a real victory over terrorism.

Subject: Measuring success in the war on terror
Date: 18 September 2004

Terrorism in Russia has recently surged. This week we learned that 14 American governors received booby-trapped letters. Each day this past week brought new carnage from terrorism in Iraq. The problem with President Bush's war on terrorism is that we are LOSING ground. During the Clinton administration and the first couple of years of Bush's administration Al Queda's war against America was only able to strike a few times per year. Although the situation was intolerable, they were not able to strike monthly let alone daily. During the past year of the Bush administration terrorism has become rampant: a near daily occurrence somewhere in the world. The measure of progress in the battle against terrorism ought to be the frequency and severity of attacks. By this measure Bush's terrorism policy is a miserable failure.

Subject: Freedom, transparent government and terrorism
Date: 14 September 2004

Two of today's news items concern me deeply. First, Rep. Waxman released a congressional investigative report documenting the growing secrecy of the Bush Administration which is leading us away from a more open, transparent and trustworthy government. Secondly, a report on ABC News that President Putin is proposing a major extension of Kremlin control over political and security structures. Combined these reports document a scary trend: both in America and in Russia: a trend toward more totalitarian behavior by government. Thomas Jefferson said "When governments fear people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." Let us not allow the fear of terrorism to drop our guard against the more omnipresent fear: fear of tyranny.

Subject: The connection between freedom and terrorism
Date: 13 September 2004

I am struggling to understand President Bush's view that a lack of freedom is the cause of terrorism. Why would a terrorist who is oppressed by a non-free government respond by hating America and wanting to kill Americans? It just doesn't make any sense. Terrorists tend to attack elements of the society that oppresses them, not random disinterested foreign powers. For example, the Boston Tea Party (an early instance of economic terrorism) directly attacked British interests. The only resolution to this contradiction seems to be to acknowledge that the terrorists must feel oppressed by the US government. If that is so, how is it that by further meddling with their affairs (in Bush's euphemism "freeing them"), will we root out terrorism? The cause cannot be a cure.

Subject: Lack of freedom is evidently not a root cause of terrorism
Date: 12 September 2004

President Bush's web site says "Above all, [our security] requires bringing freedom to people for whom it has been too long denied, for free people do not support terror." Then he asserts that Iraq has been freed by the US forces. The logical conclusion is that the people of Iraq no longer support terror. The truth is that the war in Iraq seems to have let terrorism become rampant. Clearly, something is seriously wrong with President Bush's logic.

Subject: Taking responsibility for 9/11
Date: 11 September 2004

In the three years since 9/11, I have heard very few in government, with the notable exception of Richard Clarke, apologize and take responsibility for the events of 9/11. It is an important element of leadership to honestly take responsibility for events even if they were beyond your control. Since our government plays the blame game instead of taking responsibility for 9/11, it is necessary for our citizenry to take the lead and show the way. I, Chris Fearnley, failed the American people on 9/11 by failing to anticipate and address salient issues that might have led to increased security in America and around the world. I am deeply sorry for my shortcomings that allowed 9/11 to happen. I commit to redouble my efforts to work for the success of all humanity and to endeavor to find solutions to the problem of global security. Since I made that commitment in 2002, my life has changed significantly. I invite everyone to join me in this cathartic effort.

Subject: Is the Iraqi insurgency too broad-based for us to defeat?
Date: 9 September 2004

The news that Fallujah and many other parts of Iraq have again come under complete control by the insurgents is very disturbing. It suggests that the Iraqi insurgency is broad-based. Our experience in Vietnam and Russia's wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya demonstrate that broad-based insurgencies are practically impossible to suppress even with superior force. President Bush needs to give us a new, more incisive plan to secure the peace in Iraq than simple steadfastness and consistency. That plan has not worked and seems to be continually losing ground.

Subject: Decisiveness in the war in Iraq
Date: 8 September 2004

G.H.W. Bush's incursion into Panama and war in Iraq ended decisively. President Clinton's sucessful war in Kosovo also ended decisively. The trouble with this President's handling of the war in Iraq is that it is not over and shows no sign of coming to a decisive end any time soon. One of the main lessons learned from the Vietnam war was that before we go to war, we must ensure that not only can we win the battles but we must also win the peace so our troops can come home. Unfortunately, President Bush did not learn that lesson.

Subject: Troops killed in Iraq exceeds one-third of 9/11 death toll
Date: 7 September 2004

2,752 people died on 9/11 in NYC. We went into Iraq allegedly to prevent catastrophes of that scale. The Iraq catastrophe continues to grow more costly and deadly by the day for the American taxpayer, our soldiers and their families. Add in the toll paid by coalition partners, other third party noncombatants like the Red Crescent and the UN, plus innocent Iraqi civilians and the Iraq war has turned out to be a greater human tragedy than 9/11. Terrorism has become more frequent since the Iraq war began. This war is becoming a greater terror than terrorism itself.

Subject: The hobgoblin of small minds
Date: 6 September 2004

It seems that the Republicans believe that steadfastness and consistency are the primary virtues of leadership. So they have been highlighting Senator Kerry's alleged flip-flops. But Emerson said it best: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." I hope we soon see an end to this divisive tactic of criticizing small inconsistencies. No human is immune from such allegations: the world is simply too complicated. Indeed, President Bush first opposed but now supports the Department of Homeland Security. That makes him a flip-flop too. All this proves is that both candidates are mistake-making human beings.

Subject: Has President Bush turned the words "freedom" and "liberty" into Orwellian double-speak?
Date: 5 September 2004

During President Bush's convention speech he spoke at length about liberty and freedom in the context of the war in Iraq. He compared the Iraq war to WWII and our liberation of Germany. Would we have accepted Hitler if his rationale to invade Czechoslovakia and Poland was to liberate it? Would we have trusted Stalin if his argument to invade Hungary and Czechoslovakia was for freedom and liberty? Of course not! Freedom and liberty is not an acceptable reason to fight a war. If it was, every country could simply invade their neighbors to give them the gift of their form of "freedom" and "liberty". By using the words "freedom" and "liberty" in this way, President Bush only increases my cynicism as to his true motives in Iraq.

Subject: Zell Miller's Angry Tirade
Date: 4 September 2004

Zell Miller's keynote speech to the Republican National Convention was an extremely angry tirade --- he scowled the whole way through. I am very concerned about how Democracy itself can survive if angry character assassinations like Zell Miller's continue to play such a strong role in politics. Rancor like Miller's that treat not just John Kerry but thousands of his colleagues in the Democratic party and anti-war movement as unfit to serve their country are the lowest form of gutter politics. I hope that this election campaign becomes an honest discussion where both sides learn from the other and together build a plan to make America safer from both terrorism and our complex economic troubles. After all we are all Americans and we ought to be in this together.

Subject: Bush's first big mistake in the war on terrorism
Date: 3 September 2004

"I faced the kind of decision that comes only to the Oval Office, a decision no president would ask for, but must be prepared to make," Bush said. "Do I forget the lessons of Sept. 11 and take the word of a madman, or do I take action to defend our country? Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time."
This is precisely the moment when President Bush made his first big mistake in the war on terrorism. There were still many options to ensure that the threat of Saddam Husein would be neutralized. The UN weapons inspectors were making significant progress despite Saddam's foot dragging and would have been able to certify Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction within six months according to Hans Blix's estimate. By rushing to war before we had a plan to win the peace or secure help from additional European and Arab powers, President Bush created a new round of support for Arab hatred of America which is one of the primary root causes of terrorism. Bush blundered badly.

Subject: Zell Miller's Attack on Kerry
Date: 3 September 2004 is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. They have a thorough report on Zell Miller's Attack on Kerry which reveals the distortions in Miller's speech.

Subject: A Secure America in a Secure World
Date: 3 September 2004

FPIF has released a proposed framework for securing America in the post 9/11 world. I have reviewed their plan and find it to be the most incisive plan that I have seen to date. It is especially keen in its treatment of addressing the root causes of terrorism which most other efforts have omitted.

Please read the report at and share your impressions with me.

Then join me in the effort to secure America by helping to ensure that this incisive, comprehensive plan is thoroughly discussed so that it can be improved and implemented.

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