Saturday, December 11


How many times are we going to insert ourselves into their affairs and then betray Haiti?

ROGER F. NORIEGA, the assistant secretary of state with responsibility for the Caribbean region, takes umbrage at suggestions that the United States has been quicker to send troops into Haiti than to alleviate its appalling poverty. "Nothing could be further from the truth," Mr. Noriega huffed last month in a letter to the St. Petersburg Times. Mr. Noriega goes on to describe the lavish infusions of U.S. aid to Haiti over the past decade -- most of it before the Bush administration took office. He does not mention the Haitian Economic Recovery Opportunity Act, known as HERO, a trade bill that could have provided tens of thousands of jobs in the country's textile sector. Perhaps that's because his administration let the bill die quietly in Congress without lifting a finger to help.

UP0DATE: Black Commentator has a good article on this called "Haiti: Colin Powell's Crime In Progress."


Arab Officials Criticize U.S. Support of Israel:

Senior Arab officials attending a U.S.-sponsored conference in the Middle East rejected the Bush administration's assertion that greater democracy would help end terrorism, arguing that the administration's strong support of Israel made it difficult to undertake political reforms or halt extremists driven by hatred of U.S. policies.

"Let us face it: Our differences are neither religious nor cultural," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Faisal said. "We perceive no clashes of civilization or competing value systems. The real bone of contention is the longest conflict in modern history."

Duh. Like this is a revelation?


Could David Brooks be any more puerile, gullible, clueless?

People who instinctively trust the markets support the Bush reform ideas, and people who are suspicious oppose them.
This is not 1932 any more. This is not the age of big, static state institutions. This is actually about building a bridge to the 22nd century.

Brooks is so pitifully conflicted. He wants to think that the Republicans, of whom he is a supporter and advocate, are the forward-looking party, while simultaneously trying to enshrine them as the party of 1930s-era moral values.

How the dickens does he expect the Republicans to lead us into the 22nd century when they're so uncomfortable with the 21st?

UPDATE: The Daily Howler takes on Brooks' column.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum does likewise.

UPDATE: And don't miss Uggabugga's.


Nick Kristof has been trying to drum up more Coalition troops for Iraq and having no success. Doh! He's finally getting it:

We might recall what happened to ancient Athens, perhaps the greatest flowering of civilization. In just three generations, one small city - by today's standards, anyway - nurtured democracy, became a superpower and produced some of the greatest artists, writers, philosophers and historians the world has ever known.

Yet Athens became too full of itself. It forgot to apply its humanity beyond its own borders, it bullied its neighbors, and it scoffed at the rising anti-Athenianism. To outsiders, it came to epitomize not democracy, but arrogance. The great humanists of the ancient world could be bafflingly inhumane abroad, as at Melos, the My Lai of its day.

Athens's overweening military intervention abroad antagonized and alarmed its neighbors, eventually leading to its defeat in the Peloponnesian War. It's not so much that Athens was defeated - it betrayed its own wonderful values, alienated its neighbors and destroyed itself.

Friday, December 10


Tim Noah on why BushCo insularity breeds bad decision-making:

The overarching theme of Surowiecki's book is that people are much smarter collectively than they are individually. He makes an exception, though, for small groups of people who share the same opinions. These tend to be stupider than their constituent members, because when like-minded people get together they drive each other to embrace more mindlessly extremist views. Studies have shown, for instance, that if you put a bunch of pessimists together in a room they will become more pessimistic after talking to one another, and that juries whose members are inclined to give plaintiffs large awards usually give even larger awards after they've deliberated.

Any large-corporation manager has observed this dynamic time and again. It's such a no-brainer for me that for years I have deliberately seeded people of divergent views into task teams that I direct. It's important to factor into our decision-making processes anticipated adverse consequences or obstacles and prepare counter-arguments and/or alternative solutions. The Bush Way is to consider only best-case scenarios; it's why they're consistently unprepared for anything less.

Edwin Markham understood the value of inclusion:

"He drew a circle that left me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,
But Love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in.


This story should have the entire U.S. Congress and the so-called mainstream media screaming 24/7 until the situation is corrected. The situation, which has been well known for some time and which John Kerry tried to address during the presidential campaign, has effectively been ignored. How can that be? Isn't "support for the troops" a holy value in the U.S., especially today?

The row over America's failure to send enough military vehicles to Iraq took a new twist yesterday when the company that manufactures them said it could deliver 1,200 more a year, but has had no request from the Pentagon.

How can this be justified? Is no-one to be held accountable?

The success of message manipulation: my nephew, who returned late this summer from a tour of duty in Iraq, described the situation precisely as it's been reported, but when I asked if he resented the administration because of it his response was, oh no! It's not the president's fault -- it's the fault of THE CONGRESS.


BREAKING NEWS...Kerik Withdraws His Name for DHS Chief.

Seems Newsday columnist Ellis Henican was right in calling the Kerik nomination "a ticking time bomb."

Wonder what the fuse was.

UPDATE: Corrente has the answer.

Thursday, December 9


This is why I endorsed Howard Dean as head of the DNC in a December 1 post:

There is another destination beyond strong finances, outreach, and campaigns.

That destination is a better, stronger, smarter, safer, healthier America.

An America where we don't turn our back on our own people.

That's the America we can only build with conviction.

When some people say we should change direction, in essence they are arguing that our basic or guiding principles can be altered or modified.

They can't.

On issue after issue, we are where the majority of the American people are.

What I want to know is at what point did it become a radical notion to stand up for what we believe?

Over fifty years ago, Harry Truman said, "We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don't need to try it."

Yet here we are still making the same mistakes.

Let me tell you something: there's only one thing Republican power brokers want more than for us to lurch to the left -- and that's for us to lurch to the right.

What they fear most is that we may really begin fighting for what we believe -- the fiscally responsible, socially progressive values for which Democrats have always stood and fought.

I'll give this to Republicans. They know the America they want. They want a government so small that, in the words of one prominent Republican, it can be drowned in a bathtub.

They want a government that runs big deficits, but is small enough to fit into your bedroom.
They want a government that is of, by, and for their special interest friends.

They want a government that preaches compassion but practices division.

They want wealth rewarded over work.

And they are willing to use any means to get there.

Tuesday, December 7

Reflecting on the presidential race.

Jon Stewart:

Now I will confess that as a Jewish man living in a city -- New York -- where eighty percent of the people voted for the loser, I could feel a touch disenfranchised, perhaps. But at what point did Jewish people from New York ever feel overrepresented? So I don't feel angry. Oddly, there seems to be more anger and disenfranchisement in the enfranchised. I don't think I've ever seen a time when the party that controlled the Senate, the House, the White House and the Supreme Court was so out of sorts about how little respect they get. At a certain point you want to say, "OK, Goliath. Stop pretending."

Al Franken:

The right-wing media pounds and pounds this stuff about elitist liberal blue states versus the down-to-earth red states. It's ridiculous. I'm from Minnesota. I grew up in suburbia, in a working-class neighborhood. So I think I have some feel for middle America. In reality, all the states are some shade of purple. There's plenty of very conservative Christians in Minnesota, and there's plenty of liberals in Texas. It's not as clear-cut as people like Sean Hannity make it seem when he holds up a map and says, "See how much red there is?" A lot of those red spots are desert. And, as David Owen from the New Yorker said: Acreage don't vote; people vote.

There's a lot of comfort we can take in what we accomplished. We did very well in a lot of state legislatures. That's no small thing -- it's building a farm team.

"America is so much better than this"

Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis):

The administration's record of the past four years suggests a foreign policy careening out of control, driven by ideologues who want to test their theories in the laboratory of the Middle East one minute, by domestic political considerations the next, and by spiteful attempts to punish those who disagree with their methods the next.

Where is this going? Who is in charge? Who knows? No one ever seems to be held accountable for the blunders, the failures, the wildly inaccurate presentations and projections or the painfully ineffective initiatives. Congress cannot simply accept more of the same, keep our heads down and hope that somehow we will muddle through. The stakes are far too high. Our national security, the stability of the world that our children will inherit, our troops — even our country's honor — are on the line. Congress has an obligation, not to oppose every administration effort, but to reassert our role in helping to steer the ship of state wisely rather than recklessly. I look at our foreign policy over the past four years, and I know that America is so much better than this.

I look forward to the opportunity to raise these concerns with Dr. Rice when she testifies before the Foreign Relations Committee, and to receiving some assurance that she will work with Congress to put our country's foreign policy on a better, more effective footing.


Get the government out of the advertising business, especially when small farmers and meat producers don't need it, don't want it, but are forced to fund it.(Unless, that is, Brent Bozell complains about lost ad revenues for his company as a result!)

he Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow from small beef producers who say they should not be forced to pay for an expensive marketing program. Under the Beef Promotion Research Act of 1985, the Agriculture Department collects a fee of $1 per head of cattle sold by beef ranchers. Like similar programs for pork, cheese, fruit or you name it, the beef checkoff arrangement turns the fees - $80 million a year in the case of the beef folk - over to industry groups to spend on marketing, commercials and research. Those groups, for their part, would like to believe that when beef shows up on your plate for dinner, it's because they told you to put it there.
The small farmers rightly claim that the checkoff program is a violation of their right to free speech because it forces them to pay for ads they may not agree with, or may not want. To combat that, the government has come up with the ludicrous idea that the ads are actually "government speech" - whatever that is. The government also says that if the payments aren't mandatory, farmers and distributors who don't advertise will get a free ride at the expense of those who do. Of course, there's an easy answer to that argument: kill the programs.

Farmers and others who have to pay into checkoffs have been trying to get out of these programs for years, and United States courts have thus far been erratic in their decisions. Ditto for the Supreme Court; it kept the program for tree fruit back in 1997, but killed the one for mushrooms in 2001.


Thank God he took a break from his break. I needed a fix of Paul Krugman truth-telling. In this case, it's about the crusade on the right to destroy Social Security, not in order to fix it, but because it works:

My favorite example of their three-card-monte logic goes like this: first, they insist that the Social Security system's current surplus and the trust fund it has been accumulating with that surplus are meaningless. Social Security, they say, isn't really an independent entity - it's just part of the federal government.

If the trust fund is meaningless, by the way, that Greenspan-sponsored tax increase in the 1980's was nothing but an exercise in class warfare: taxes on working-class Americans went up, taxes on the affluent went down, and the workers have nothing to show for their sacrifice.

But never mind: the same people who claim that Social Security isn't an independent entity when it runs surpluses also insist that late next decade, when the benefit payments start to exceed the payroll tax receipts, this will represent a crisis - you see, Social Security has its own dedicated financing, and therefore must stand on its own.

There's no honest way anyone can hold both these positions, but very little about the privatizers' position is honest. They come to bury Social Security, not to save it. They aren't sincerely concerned about the possibility that the system will someday fail; they're disturbed by the system's historic success.

For Social Security is a government program that works, a demonstration that a modest amount of taxing and spending can make people's lives better and more secure. And that's why the right wants to destroy it.

Monday, December 6

It's never fun (or maybe, honestly, it is) to report that your hometown is the scene of the year's most ignorant lawbreakers.

"I'm Miss Panama City, home of the world's most beautiful beaches and dumbest criminals."

Where are our like-minded patriots?

James Wolcott on George Galloway, the antiwar maverick member of Parliament expelled by the Labour Party last year.

READ IT. And then wonder, where are OUR mavericks, OUR brave souls?

We have them, you know. You don't know their names because our SCL media didn't cover them, and they weren't already famous, so who cared?


I'm swamped enough with work and disgusted enough by what I'm seeing in the MS press and many liberal blogs to keep on, as I've been doing the past week, speaking out without taking the time to research and cite all my references. So for what it's worth, here's my plaint, and it's why I started this blog (to vent my frustration) so I won't apologize any further.

I DON'T APOLOGIZE FOR OPPOSING THE WARS IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ. Yes, I was appalled as was every American on 9/11. I wanted justice. I STILL want justice. And I want increased safety for my children and my fellow U.S. citizens. I didn't see how either invasion would bring that about. I believe that when a criminal commits a crime, you go after him, not his neighbors or his relatives or his co-religionists.

We didn't do that in either case, go after the actual criminals. Yes, the Taliban was "protecting" Al Qaeda at the time. But our intelligence had informed us not once but several times in the time immediately preceding 9/11 that the Taliban was disenchanted with Bin Laden and sought a rapprochement, seemingly willing to betray and/or turn him over to international authorities. We didn't respond. (Bush never responds unless it's to a direct attack.) It was also obvious to me that Bush had his eye on Iraq from the beginning and that Afghanistan was a mere sop to the sensibilities (and public relations potential) of expert American diplomats. More than a year later, what have we reaped? A rebounding Taliban, a renewed (once ended by the Taliban) opium trade (up 300% since the invasion), and a devastated country in need of billions of dollars of reconstruction.

Whatever. I won't even try to recap the Iraq debacle and its obvious failures to accomplish a single one of our avowed objectives.

It's ironic that my career-military officer-dad warned me, as a teenager struggling with the questions raised by the Vietnam War, against trusting any civilian authority over my own intelligence and common sense. You'd think he'd have instilled me with a belief that the American military is always forthright and trustworthy, wouldn't you? Instead, my revered dad taught me that the military is merely an arm of civilian policy, and is only as good as that policy. That doesn't mean that he didn't love, honor and feel responsible for the soldiers under his command. On the contrary. He was plain-out telling me that no matter how heroic and praiseworthy are the efforts of our troops, it is their commanders that are truly responsible for their actions, and that the chain of command bears the ultimate responsibility.

So, having digressed as usual (it's a journal after all, isn't it?), I return to my original thesis: Bush's "War on Terror" is a disaster; not one action along his way has demonstrably made the United States safer, more respected, more hopeful.


As the scion of a decades-old-tradition military family, three of our young men who have fought in the recent Iraq incursion, I have an opinion on the Pat Tillman affair.

This is not the first time a young American man has heroically and, at great sacrifice to himself and his family, offered his services to the U.S. military to protect and defend our country. And it is not the first time that political objectives (at home and, secondarily, abroad) have been used to deceitfully lure into battles whose objectives are obscure or covert, brave and selfless young people who ultimately lose their lives in a pointless and, sometimes, corrupt, military engagement. In Pat Tillman's case, it seems that a FUBAR battle in a FUBAR war, led to the death of a singularly fine, selfless, patriotic young man. I cannot hope that his wife and small children will find the comfort in the heroism of his death, now acknowledged as a tragic accident wherein our own military fired upon and killed this fine young American; nothing will compensate them for the loss of their husband, son and father. I cannot hope that they will find some nobility and purpose for his death. The Taliban is resurging, the opium trade in Afghanistan has tripled since our invasion, and Osama Bin Laden has not been captured. So, I ask, why did Pat Tillman die? Why did he risk the futures of his wife and children, and their lives together? Was he just a raging lunatic Republican? That would make him one of a few. None of the other raging lunatic Repugs we're familiar with risked even their comfort, their livelihoods, much less their lives, at any time to defend America: not Bush, not Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.

Pat Tillman wanted to avenge the deaths of the 9/11 victims and, mostly, protect Americans from further attacks. I honor him for that intention. Incompetent military officers and political decision-makers put him in harm's way, denying him even the chance to accomplish his selfless goals. There was never any chance, we now know, that the U.S.A. intended to go all-out to capture Bin Laden. We were too busy focusing on an invasion of Iraq, for which purpose we still don't understand.

Just a thought. Comments to The Smirking Chimp tend to be a cut above the norm, educational, and enlightening.


I'm getting reluctant to quote from the NY Times because of its highly flawed pre-Iraq invasion and election coverage. But this is unmistakably true, so even they can't mess it up too badly. So much for Christmas hiring.

Those monthly numbers, disappointing on their own, reinforce what is now an unmistakable pattern in which the economy grows at a decent pace and corporate profits surge, while wages lag inflation and job creation barely keeps pace with the growth in the labor market.

We know how we got here. Tax cuts were misdirected at investment rather than consumption, resulting in an economic recovery weaker than it might have been. The budget deficit portends higher interest rates and a weaker dollar, both of which impair business confidence and, in turn, inhibit hiring. And then there's the lack of affirmative policy on jobs, such as a targeted credit that would make hiring more attractive or, at the least, an increase in the minimum wage to help the working poor and put money in the economy, fueling consumption that is critical for job growth.

Persistent subpar job creation might cause some leaders to question their policies. Yet, more high-end tax cuts and higher deficits are the template for President Bush's second term.

We've lost WHOSE minds?

We've lost their hearts and minds:

THE Pentagon has admitted that the war on terror and the invasion and occupation of Iraq have increased support for al-Qaeda, made ordinary Muslims hate the US and caused a global backlash against America because of the “self-serving hypocrisy” of George W Bush’s administration over the Middle East.

The mea culpa is contained in a shockingly frank “strategic communications” report, written this autumn by the Defence Science Board for Pentagon supremo Donald Rumsfeld.

On “the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds”, the report says, “American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended”.

“American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of, and support for, radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single digits in some Arab societies.”

Referring to the repeated mantra from the White House that those who oppose the US in the Middle East “hate our freedoms”, the report says: “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedoms’, but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favour of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing support, for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states.

“Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypo crisy. Moreover, saying that ‘freedom is the future of the Middle East’ is seen as patronising … in the eyes of Muslims, the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. US actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.”

The way America has handled itself since September 11 has played straight into the hands of al-Qaeda, the report adds. “American actions have elevated the authority of the jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims.” The result is that al-Qaeda has gone from being a marginal movement to having support across the entire Muslim world.
The Pentagon report also calls for the establishment of a national security adviser for strategic communications, and a massive boost in funding for the “information war” to boost US government TV and radio stations broadcasting in the Middle East.

The importance of the need to quickly establish a propaganda advantage is underscored by a document attached to the Pentagon report from Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, dated May.

It says: “Our military expeditions to Afghanistan and Iraq are unlikely to be the last such excursion in the global war on terrorism.”

Oh goody. More excursions alike to Afghanistan and Iraq. To what purpose? At what cost?

I'll tell you what I believe. To George W. Bush's inane (not insane) and petulant purposes: to "leave a legacy" (of what kind?) and demonstrate to his father and dad's friends that he's more of a "warrior" (read: action figure) even though W has run from every direct conflict of his life. Sorry, Furious George. You lose. And because you do, we all lose.

And who's surprised? Not us Democrats. We have always known him for the sniveling, cowardly, dry-drunk braggadocio that he is.


I've never been more swamped at work, yet Republicans continue to drop by my office to gloat about the election and even, unbelievably, to beg affirmation from me. E.g., "Did you see the new jobs numbers? So the economy isn't so bad as you Democrats insisted it was!" Well, since new jobs created registered significantly below the average monthly number required to keep up with new entries into the job market, I don't see why that's a cause for celebration. And since the election Bush has appointed such dismal characters for principal roles in government, I don't see any reason to rejoice there, either.

Bernard Kerik as head of the Department of Homeland Security? A guy who led the NYPD for a mere 11 months before 9/11, whose leadership was one of the failures noted re the aftermath of 9/11 by the 9/11 Commission (re communications among the first responders)? A guy who couldn't recruit, much less train, a smidgen of an Iraqi police force and left four months into his six month appointment to take a "vacation"? A guy whose only credentials appear to be that he looks like G. Gordon Liddy and, like Liddy, blindly backs his president 100%, no matter what?

Alberto Gonzales, the man whose memos proposed discarding the Geneva Conventions and supported torture of political prisoners by the USA, being appointed our new Attorney General? The man who never met a Texas execution he didn't like? Another Bush appointee who looks good demographically but horrific in reality?

Condi Rice as Secretary of State? She doesn't even understand modern Russia, her supposed area of expertise (although her credentials are on the Soviet Union, which doesn't even exist anymore), much less does she have any credibility in diplomacy; for crying out loud, she's one of the USA's biggest (acknowledged) failures as National Security Adviser, and for this she merits being placed in the line of succession to the presidency?

And now we're told that our new Secretary of Health & Human Services will be the very guy who presided over the Medicare prescription benefit scandal, when Congress was deliberately deceived by this very man's department as to the costs, benefits and liabilities of the proposed plan.

Nothing has changed since the election, except to make visible and real what was predictable beforehand. My K-4 teacher daughter (who voted for Bush) today bemoaned the fact that she cannot afford to buy health insurance (none is offered to teachers at her learning center) and therefore has to deny herself medical care in order to save for when her toddler son needs it. "We need healthcare reform!" she cried, sick as a dog (I had to leave work in order to take her to the emergency room when she was experiencing severe and frightening stomach pains). What could I say? You should have voted for John Kerry? I did, reluctantly because I don't believe in hitting someone when they're down. (That's SUCH a Democratic attitude -- when do you remember a REPUBLICAN having a problem with that? Just remember the opening to this post -- I haven't exactly been walking into the offices of my Republican co-workers, rubbing their noses in Bush's ongoing messes.)

The Sage and I are in our middle fifties. We've worked a long hard time to provide for our five children but despite the fact that our income has risen dramatically over the past decade (primarily the Clinton years), we're still solidly middle-class. It's getting close to the time when we could consider options for retirement, but the reality is still at least 10 years off. What can we expect when our time comes? Bush is readying the nation for "Social Security reform" and "tax reform." Everything I read indicates that this means our Social Security benefits will be reduced and our taxes will expand during at least the next four years, and more if Bush is successful at making his new "reforms" permanent, particularly his tax cuts for the wealthy, which have to be revenue-balanced SOMEHOW -- reputedly, and expectedly, at the expense of the working classes.

With all the problems and challenges facing the American people, Republicans such as John McCain are now preoccupied with the baseball/steroids issue. It was all the rage this morning on talk radio. Finally, an issue that divides Republicans! Radio talk host Darrell Ankarlo doesn't see why we don't just make steroids legal and let the players suffer the consequences of their choices. Moral virtues spokesperson Bill Bennett thinks that would be sending the wrong message to kids -- after all, they're illegal. Ankarlo says, then why not make them legal again? They were once.

Here's my take, and it's not libertarian or republican. I don't even know if it's democratic. To me the deal is: steroids have very dangerous consequences taken long-term; some players will sacrifice their long-term prospects to make the big bucks today, and since steroids offer them the best bet for doing that, they'll go with them. However, some players will decline performance-enhancing drugs in light of their long-term dangers. Those players who do so cannot be competitive with those players who take the steroids. So how is that fair? Rewarding players who do take the drugs relegates the straight-shooters to almost-beens, or else forces them to a decision they would never make independently, that they must take the risks to stay in the game. In the "moral values" race, I'd say my position makes the most sense, but who am I to say compared to the self-proclaimed Darrell Ankarlo or Laura Ingraham?

No, Democrats "don't get it." We still expect some semblance of fair play and reason to rule. Republicans just favor winners, no matter how they get there.

Sunday, December 5


I'm so sick of all the cacophony about how desperate the situation is for Democrats. Situation for what? Elections? We're no worse off now in number of offices held than the Republicans have been at different times in our nation's history. We "lost" this past election of November 04 by a mere 2% of the popular vote nationally (probably by less if votes were properly counted, but even so, this is a worst-case scenario that we should be weeping bitter tears about?). Most of what is being written and said analyzing the election includes a blue state/red state theme, a "moral values" meme, and/or a "Democrats just don't get it" streak.

Enough already! This hyperbole is, at base, a result of the perceived importance of this presidential election. It WAS important, hyper-important, maybe the most important of our lifetimes. I think the importance for us Democrats was because it highlighted our fears of this administration, that they could in another four years wreak a havoc to our constitutional rights, economy, civil institutions, environment, foreign relations, domestic security, and popularly accepted cultural boundaries that could not be easily corrected for many decades.

I don't doubt for a minute that BushCo will continue to inflict major damage on our American reputation, position in the world, and just as important for me, upon those values that have sustained us for more than 200 years and made our nation a beacon of hope to the peoples of the world. I vote for the Democrats precisely because of that. But if I were a cynical politician, I'd say we're in for a huge pendulum swing back to the progressive worldview. BushCo can't succeed in all their various nefarious activities forever. I feel like we're back in the early days of Hitler when the German ascendancy thought they could use and "control" the National Socialist movement only to find that their was no re-bottling of the genie once released.

But I digress. What are the Democrats to do? Let the tenor of the times determine it. Be sensitive to the cycles of events. There are few monolithic voter blocs -- the "Christian right," which is largely characterized by its anti-abortion and anti-gay stances; the African-American bloc, less dependably Democrat than in some eras but still acknowledging that the RNC has little or nothing to offer them; corporate interests, which cannot help but recognize that Bush is all about shareholder value and nothing about corporate citizenship. The Christian right will be impregnable for some time to come; they only have two issues, and Democrats cannot compromise on the right to choose and tolerance and civil rights for gays -- otherwise, they take away a large part of the reason of their base to even BE Democrat.

Democrats should stop all this caterwauling over the lost election and continue to be a principled, courageous OPPOSITION PARTY. When the roof falls in on the Bush policies, there should be no doubt in the minds of the American people who is at fault. If Democrats continue to cave, as they did in 2002, to the Bush mystique, there will be very serious doubts. In fact, if I could point to any one reason for our losing this past election, it would be precisely that. Voters didn't punish Bush for his grave miscalculations and failed policies; though the overwhelming majority thought we were on "the wrong track," they gave the architect of that track another four-year lease on leadership. How can that be?

They didn't blame him for it. As my recently-returned-from-Iraq professional soldier nephew told me: "I don't blame Bush for our problems. He can't do very much about them. I blame Congress."

What are the Democrats to do? OPPOSE BUSH POLICIES.


These people are so in love with the sixties:

"But you've got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I'm for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord." - Jerry Falwell, Oct. 24, 2004, CNN. [Hat tip to AmericaBlog.]

Shades of "Kill a Commie for Christ."

New action-figure doll for the Christmas rush: George W. Bush as military chaplain/Rambo, personally "blowing away" international terrorists (he identifies them by the 666 stenciled on their scalps) in the name of the Lord.


The chickenhawks didn't learn the lessons from Vietnam because they had "other priorities" at the time. What freaking idiots put these guys in charge? DON'T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR JOHN KERRY.

Given the recent disappointing performance of Iraqi police and security forces, the influx of more US troops marks at least a symbolic setback to the larger strategy of "Iraqification", or giving indigenous Iraqi forces more responsibility for maintaining order and keeping the largely Sunni insurrection in check.

"I fear that it signals a 're-Americanization' ... of our strategy in Iraq," retired army Colonel Ralph Hallenback, who worked with the US occupation in 2003, told Thursday's Washington Post.

The announcement also offered an "I-told-you-so" moment to any number of critics, who have argued from the outset that the Pentagon's civilian leadership, in hoping to prove that wars could be won with fewer forces, more firepower and greater speed, was dead wrong.
For the vets, one of the most important lessons of the whole Indochina debacle was to scrupulously avoid situations in which US forces found themselves in an escalating guerrilla war, where the only way to contain a growing insurgency was to deploy more troops to the theater.
The announcement on troop numbers raises yet another bogeyman from the Vietnam era - the administration's "credibility" in conducting the war, particularly when the top civilian leadership not only had insisted from the start that the number of "boots on the ground" was adequate, but had also ridiculed senior retired and active-duty military officials who publicly warned before the invasion that many more would be needed.
Such reports are feeding efforts by some lawmakers to add as many as 50,000 soldiers to the armed forces, an expense that Pentagon and so-called "deficit hawks" in Congress would prefer desperately to avoid. Deficits, indeed, is another bad word dating from the Vietnam era.


Naomi Klein answers a U.S. embassy chief's challenge to her assertion that in Iraq, the US eliminates those who dare to count the dead:

"We don't do body counts," said General Tommy Franks of US Central Command. The question is: what happens to the people who insist on counting the bodies - the doctors who must pronounce their patients dead, the journalists who document these losses, the clerics who denounce them? In Iraq, evidence is mounting that these voices are being systematically silenced through a variety of means, from mass arrests, to raids on hospitals, media bans, and overt and unexplained physical attacks.

Mr Ambassador, I believe that your government and its Iraqi surrogates are waging two wars in Iraq. One war is against the Iraqi people, and it has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. The other is a war on witnesses.

Being out of touch for a few days and then trying to catch up on the news has brought me to a new stage of despair.