Saturday, September 3


CNN just raised the question of race in relation to the federal response to the dire situation in New Orleans. Reverend Joseph Lowery, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said, "I don't think anyone would deny that it's a factor. But there's another demon here: class. Look how quickly we rushed to the rescue at the Twin Towers, symbol of wealth and power, as opposed to the levee, which is a symbol of poverty. What did we do for Rwanda, which had no oil, and Iraq, where there was a pool of it?"


I have a thought to add to this post by Kos:

We have two competing world views in American politics. The first says that government cannot help people. That government must be as small as possible, and exists only to provide security from external enemies. The other says that government can be a force for good and can help make people's lives better.

This week, we are seeing the effects of the lack of government. The American people are seeing what happens when the GOP worldview is dominant. We've talked about the two disasters -- the hurricane itself, which was unavoidable, and the response to the hurricane and lack of leadership, which was.

We are seeing a third disaster -- the conservative world view itself, crashing and burning as reality meets ideology. Where government programs are slashed in the name of Norquist's drownable government, only to see an entire major city wiped off the face of the map as a result.
[emphasis mine]

Forget "government programs" and the second world view. If conservatives believe that government "exists only to provide security from external enemies," the Bush administration has failed in the single government function that conservatives acknowledge as proper. Hurricane Katrina was certainly an "external enemy" and yet the federal government has not provided security for the residents of New Orleans and has been achingly slow to respond to the effects of the storm's aftermath. And as right-wing pundits attempt to divert blame to local and state governments, they cannot deny that, as AmericaBlog points out, the federal government agency of Homeland Security is charged with "primary responsibility for any natural disaster or large-scale emergency."

But I don't expect the 30% of Americans who harbor an irrational love for and loyalty to George Dubya to admit to ANY failure on his or his administration's part. I've heard too often in the past few days their dismay and disgust at the situation in the Gulf Coast turn to indignation when confronted with any criticism of their hero. NOTHING is the man's fault. After all, he's led by God. It's always someone else's failure or an inaccurate analysis.

For instance, a Republican friend of mine and I were watching on CNN at lunch on Wednesday the big press conference Bush and buddies conducted. The EPA chief announced that he was waiving restrictions on air standards to encourage more oil production. When I asked, "How's that? How is that going to help oil production? Sounds like Bush opportunism at play again, taking advantage of the situation to give another break to the oil companies," she replied, "There must be some reason. He wouldn't have done it otherwise." This, from someone who thirty minutes earlier had been cringing at the video of her former neighborhood in New Orleans under water and practically in tears of anger at the condition of the people there.


CNN compares statements from government officials with the reality on the ground at the time of their statements.


Talk Left discusses the Red Cross being ordered to stay outside of New Orleans.

From a commenter:

A panelist on Washington Week Tonight reported that a doctor at Charity hospital had operated on Al Gore's son years ago and he had somehow communicated with Al Gore who made arrangements for two American Airlines planes to evacuate patients to hospitals which had agreed to take them. But FEMA would not approve the plan because they can only work with public officials and Al Gore is now a private citizen.

In general, they also said that for whatever reason FEMA can only work with public institutions, they cannot provide assistance to private hospitals.

The transcript is supposed to be up on at least Monday noon.

Utter incompetence in the face of dire emergency. Someone, fire these people, please.

A second commenter responded:

Litz - Like it or not you can't have people just flying in, on their own, to get people out. Especially in a situation in which criminals in the local population are shooting at rescue teams.

A competently run operation would secure specific locations as staging areas and coordinate offers of assistance from credible and proven sources such as the city of Chicago and Al Gore/American Airlines. We're not talking here about Sammy Samaritan and his teenaged kids wanting to bring in cookies his wife baked. Those responsible for this clusterf**k should have welcomed help from organizations that could do what they couldn't.

Canada, Britain, France and Germany have offered substantial assistance to the U.S., including mobile shelters, airplanes, medical crews, and other essentials. Have you heard a single word about our actually accepting it?

More and more it's sounding like the typical BushCo M.O. Insist on total control so nobody can get enough access or information to expose their incompetence. After all, if you accept help, it's an admission that you NEED it.


The so-called "Christian" right's solution to sin: kill all the sinners.

“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."

The New Orleans pastor is adamant. Christians, he says, need to confront sin. "It's time for us to stand up against wickedness so that God won't have to deal with that wickedness," he says.

Believers, he says, are God's "authorized representatives on the face of the Earth" and should say they "don't want unrighteous men in office," for example. In addition, he says Christians should not hesitate to voice their opinions about such things as abortion, prayer, and homosexual marriage. "We don't want a Supreme Court that is going to say it's all right to kill little boys and girls, ... it's all right to take prayer out of schools, and it's all right to legalize sodomy, opening the door for same-sex marriage and all of that.”

Shanks heeded warnings to evacuate New Orleans, and is currently staying with friends in the Jackson, Mississippi, area.

I'm sure Shanks and Kelly are comforted by the fact that only gays, Supreme Court justices, Mardi Gras celebraters, heathens, witches and those who've had abortions will be counted as casualties of Katrina in New Orleans. But I'm just a mite confused by the scenes I've seen on TV of poor people with lots of children (abortions cost money, and not many gays give birth) expressing their Christian faith or crying out to God for help. It seems as if the wrath of the storm and its aftermath have disproportionately affected people of color and those living in poverty. They're not the picture of Mardi Gras Krewes (who are in the main the wealthiest and most socially connected citizens of New Orleans, nearly all who evacuated before Katrina struck).

And I'm sure the people left stranded in New Orleans are comforted by the "Christian" compassion being shown to them by the evangelical leaders of their city.

What God do these leaders worship? Did they ever read the New Testament? Are they completely unacquainted with the nature and teachings of the Christ they purport to follow? They sound like nothing so much as goats, and the destruction they delight in seeing visited upon others I fear will rebound to them.


Lest anyone think money and class don't figure into the rescue efforts:

At one point Friday, the [Superdome] evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses pulled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line — much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the Superdome since last Sunday.

"How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?" exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.

Friday, September 2


Came in late to MSNBC's "A Concert for Hurricane Relief." Came in on Harry Connick singing, "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans." Winton Marsalis is playing trumpet.

Saw an impassioned plea by Kanye West cut off as he said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Mike Myers looked at him with an expression I couldn't quite interpret -- "don't say that, buddy" or "they're going to edit you," or "don't go there" -- I don't know.

Aaron Neville is singing "Amazing Grace."

Marcie Gay Harden making a plea for donations to the Red Cross.

Richard D. Fairbank, CEO of Capital One, sponsor of the concert, speaking.

Video of valiant rescue attempts. Jimmy Smits narrating footage of the desolation, with a theme of people helping people.

Claire Danes now, talking about schooling for the refugees. Remedies for these schoolchildren has not yet been addressed.

Brian Williams touring New Orleans with Harry Connick.

Faith Hill (whose husband Tim McGraw is a Louisiana native) singing "Precious Lord, Lead Me Home."

Leo DiCaprio urging donations.

Matt Lauer speaking.

End of concert with all participating in "When the Saints Go Marching In." Harry Connick leads, Aaron Neville, Tim McGraw, Glenn Close, John Goodman on stage.

How can we let this center of most unique American culture sink? New Orleans, the "Big Easy," has had its faults, but it is undeniably world-famous as the genesis of a world-famous, distinct American musical style. And anyone who's ever experienced the New Orleans magic cannot fathom the United States without a New Orleans.


"The people of New Orleans have gotta understand," the pResident repeated several times today at his press conference after touring the hurricane damage along the Gulf Coast, the frustration from criticism of his administration's response obvious in his voice. "They've gotta understand" -- that's a perfect snapshot of the attitude of this arrogant, privileged president. How dare newly homeless, tax-paying people who are living without food and water, terrorized by lawless gangs, with no certainty that after five days of horror they still have a future, question this man's leadership? They're supposed to just take his word that he "cares," that "help is on the way," that "progress is being made." They've "gotta" -- his implied order was surely a poor choice of words, though he commonly uses them, that betray his authoritarian mindset.

He ended his remarks with his usual unreal optimistic assessment, saying that the "good news" is that the Gulf Coast will be rebuilt better than ever. That should be great comfort to a city of a million and a half residents, who need the basic necessities of life, including jobs, right now, not in ten years or so.

The Sage and I spent our honeymoon in New Orleans, our favorite city, and have traveled back to the Crescent City to celebrate key anniversaries. We drove to N.O. after our wedding in NW Florida, passing through Mobile, Biloxi and Gulfport (where I lived for six years and still have relatives) several years after Hurricane Camille destroyed the area. I had seen the destruction several times during those intervening years, but The Sage had not. When we got to Biloxi, he was stunned, asking, "Haven't they begun reconstruction YET?" What he didn't know until I told him was that things were considerably better -- it just takes many years to complete rebuilding after such devastating destruction. So when people, particularly Bush, speak of "rebuilding" New Orleans, they neglect to say that we're not speaking in terms of months, or even several years. We're talking a decade or more.

It was maddening to hear Bush praise his incompetent political appointee, FEMA director Mike Brown, for doing a "great job" when all evidence is to the contrary. But Bush makes a habit of lauding his personal appointees no matter their performance; he seems to judge them on their personal loyalty to him, not their record.

"I'm satisfied with the response, I'm not satisfied with all the results," he said, smirking all the time. How can he possibly be satisfied with the former but not the latter? If the results aren't satisfactory, that is a direct condemnation of the action. But the Bush view doesn't reflect that kind of logic. He has absolutely no problem with non sequiturs.

Lou Dobbs keeps trying to blame the state and local governments in an equal measure with the federal government. Does he really think that the fourth poorest state in the U.S. (Mississippi is the poorest, and also suffered tremendous destruction and loss of life, so he could make the same bogus claim for that state) could provide anything like the pre- and post-disaster planning and logistics that the federal government could, and should, mount? Lou's explicit argument was that since New Orleans has a black mayor and what he called a "black power structure," African-Americans who are complaining should be aiming their criticism equally at those officials. What a display of ignorance. New Orleans may have a black mayor and many blacks on the police force, but the Chamber of Commerce and all real political power still reside with the white community, although it amounts to only 25% of the population. Only .04% of the N.O. black residents report incomes in excess of $200,000. Is anyone naive enough to believe that money isn't power in New Orleans, unlike every other city in America? Also, the governor and both U.S. Senators are white. At any rate, did anyone seriously criticize the local and state (but no! that means Jeb Bush) governments in Florida for unpreparedness related to Hurricanes Charley and Frances?

Lou's panel, Karen Tumulty, Ron Brownstein and Roger Simons, all agreed that the scariest thing we've learned from this experience is that we're very unprepared for a national terrorist attack.

And who's responsible for that? Bush Bush Bush Bush Bush Bush Bush Bush.


* 27% of the residents of New Orleans have an income below the poverty line (as compared to the national average of 12.7%).
* 50,000 households do not have cars.
* Median income: $17,000 (as compared to a national median income of $40,800 for men and $31,200 for women).

With the exception of Faux News, the blond bimbos of the mainstream media (male and female, and some only acting blond) seem to have ceased dissing those from New Orleans who did not leave the city before Hurricane Katrina struck. They also appear to have been deeply moved by the visuals depicting the suffering of those affected by the storm and its aftermath. At any rate, I've heard more of them interrupting politicians and bureaucrats as they recite their "help is coming soon-progress-is-being-made" speeches, the newscasters making visibly angry retorts and offering tougher follow-up questions, than I've ever before witnessed. This morning on CNN the O'Briens vigorously peppered FEMA director Michael Brown and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.

Let's see 'em be that tough on Dubya. Ha. Fat chance.

UPDATE: Apparently Ted Koppel has joined the gang of indignant newscasters. (Hat tip to AmericaBlog.

Thursday, September 1


This evening's cable news reports have not been kind to the administration. Repeatedly I've heard the question asked, "What does this disaster tell us about our preparedness to meet a terrorist attack?" I've also heard several iterations of the report that Bush reduced the amount the Corps of Engineers planned to spend on shoring up the New Orleans levees and determining ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane.

"I'm not saying it wouldn't still be flooded, but I do feel that if it had been totally funded, there would be less flooding than you have," said Michael Parker, a former Republican Mississippi congressman who headed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from October 2001 until March 2002, when he was ousted after publicly criticizing a Bush administration proposal to cut the corps' budget.

Tragic, horrible, unwanted, unneeded proof that in four years Dubya and company have done less than zero in making the U.S. safer. That was never his priority, it is evident. Instead, he decided to show his daddy he could do what daddy couldn't (topple Saddam) and pushed through tax cuts that enriched the already wealthy and added more than a million Americans to the ranks of the impoverished.


Anderson Cooper 360 is asking hard questions about the federal government's slow response to Hurricane Katrina and Bush administration. Interviews Senator Mary Landrieu (LA-DINO), who starts to brag on the Congress, the president, and says it'll be time later to talk about what's gone wrong.

Anderson interrupts her. "Excuse me, Senator, but for the past few days I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets and don't appreciate hearing politicians complimenting each other and trumpeting what good they're GOING to do. Do you get the anger that's out here?"

Oh yes, she's angry too. (Wouldn't know it from her demeanor and tone of voice.)

Anderson: "Yeah? Who are you angry at?"

Landrieu: "I'm not angry at anyone, just expressing frustration." She goes on to spout cliches about how great America is.

Andrieu, impatiently: "A lot of people here don't think we're looking so great, they are ashamed at what's happening right here in our country. No-one seems to be taking any responsibility. You say there'll be a time and place later to allot responsibility, but this seems to be the time and the place, people want answers. I've been here several days, and this is the first time I've seen National Guard troops in this town."

Landrieu: "There will be a time to talk about all of that, trust me. (?????) We all know what is happening, and we're trying to do the very best we can." Thanks the president AGAIN.

Anderson: "It's hard to see how this problem is going to get solved."

Anderson tears, chokes up. A very passionate report.


The New Orleans Times-Picayune staff is devoting 100% of its time covering the aftermath of Katrina. The stories reported by locals will tear your heart out.


Here's Holden's Bush Boom:

This week's census report showed that income inequality was near all-time highs in 2004, with 50.1 percent of income going to the top 20 percent of households. And additional census data obtained by the Economic Policy Institute show that only the top 5 percent of households experienced real income gains in 2004. Incomes for the other 95 percent of households were flat or falling.

Income inequality is an economic and social ill, but the administration and the Congressional majority don't seem to recognize that. When Congress returns from its monthlong summer vacation next week, two of the leadership's top priorities include renewing the push to repeal the estate tax, which affects only the wealthiest of families, and extending the tax cuts for investment income, which flow largely to the richest Americans. At the other end of the spectrum, lawmakers have stubbornly refused to raise the minimum wage: $5.15 an hour since 1997. They will also be taking up proposals for deep budget cuts in programs that ameliorate income inequality, like Medicaid, food stamps and federal student loans.

They should be ashamed of themselves.


Anybody see Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) on CNN this morning? He about blew his top, and he definitely lost his cool, at Miles O'Brien for questioning whether he was satisfied with the speed and scope of the federal response to the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina. Omigod! Never say you're suggesting that the godly George W. Bush hasn't done everything humanly possible to rescue us! You heathen, Miles, you're just trying to use "hindsight" when we in Mississippi are so very, very grateful for the prez. You're not going to get ME to criticize Fearless Leader. Besides, we still need federal help and we all know how retaliatory Dubya is to people who criticize him. Shut your filthy trap and quit suggesting that we had plenty of warning. (Whine) This thing was just a category 1 when it came through Florida. We didn't have but a few piddly hours of notice that it was a monster!

And what do you mean by asking if we have enough National Guardsmen on duty? Why, we have 1,000 on the scene. Why don't we have more? Well, we had to wait for other states to see how bad off we are so they'd lend us some of theirs. Yes, we have a couple thousand more Guardsmen in Mississippi. Why aren't they on the scene yet? You're so negative!


I've been busy the past couple of days coordinating my company's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts with other companies in our industry. I've had quite a few conversations with Republicans and Independents whose reactions to Bush's performance during the crisis range from disappointed to disgusted. He's not winning any political points for this one. Dan Froomkin rounds up reactions in the press:

"Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday -- which seemed casual to the point of carelessness -- suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis."

National Review's Corner blog was full of harsh critiques yesterday. Rod Dreher wrote: "We don't need mere emoting. . . . But we do need our president to make an emotional connection of some sort with his suffering countrymen.

Bush CAN'T do more than emote because he just plain doesn't "feel the pain" of anyone except his rich buddies when they bogie a hole or are accused of corruption, fraud, etc.

Wednesday, August 31


Overheard a gem on this morning's Ankarlo in the Mornings talk radio show on Dallas KLIF. Darrell was conflating "Hugo Chavez, a communist" with "Cndy Sheehan, funded by communists."

Don't you just love it.

Tuesday, August 30


Had an interesting conversation with a 29-year veteran writer with the defunct Dallas Times-Herald, which closed its doors nearly 15 years ago. (I dearly miss it, since all that's left is the conservative and corporate media tool, the Dallas Morning News.)

We had some time to kill, waiting for the film crew to show up (I was filming an interview, and he was doing the questioning) and as usual, I introduced the subject of politics. He confessed that he was a Republican but no George W. Bush supporter. My interest piqued, I asked him why, and he told me the story. Seems that back when Dubya was on the board of directors of Harken Energy, the aged reporter was sent to interview him. "He was sitting back in this fabulous office with a great big 'W' on the wall -- you couldn't miss it -- and it was a terrible interview. The guy obviously didn't have a clue. When I got home I told my wife, "I sure hope that fella never goes into politics. He's dumber than a post, maybe the biggest idiot I've ever met."

I asked him if that was still true, if he'd met anyone dumber since then. "I don't think so," he replied.


Tom Watson writes an eloquent eulogy for the war.

And folks, it's time to fold 'em. When the argument for continuing war is to merely to honor the dead that have gone before with more dead, with more wounded, with more destruction, you know the jig is up, that the military maneuver is merely in the form of a forlorn hope, destined to die for nothing. The Iraqi civil war will rage until there is no Iraq. There never was an Iraq, except as the construct of an empire and a dictator; we had no business in the squabbles of religious tribes. And we have no business in helping to write a consitution that places the lives of women at the mercy of a medieval code of sexist, moralist, symbolist system of humiliation and punishment. Conspiring with the mullahs against women may be George W. Bush's greatest act of treason against the world's people - and it will live in infamy.

"There is nothing to this but to admit failure, and save American lives. Perhaps that is not honorable. Perhaps it leaves a vaccuum in the east, into which the hard-core religionists can step. To bad: it is done. And we need to be done.
So now Camp Casey will move from Texas to Washington DC, and indeed, will spread to cities and towns across the United States. And the moral relativist press will be finally shaken from its torpor. Even Russert will admit the waste. Even Andrea Mitchell will see the failture. Even Ruppert Murdoch will turn Fox to oppose the war from the right.

The war itself is over, the retreat will begin shortly, and Iraq will settle in to its own bloody reinvention over the next decade. And America, my country, will reel.

I have just one cynical remark to add. If history is any judge, half of America will forget the lessons we learn from this debacle and elect another Bush or Nixon thirty years from now to do it all over again. God forgive the Supreme Court for gifting George W. Bush with the presidency.


XPatriated Texan has a good read on the Lautenberg-Kerry bill -- "Lies, Money and Politics."


The complete text of the draft Iraqi constitution is here.


"George Bush desperately wants history to remember him as the Sept. 11 President. In speeches, he sounds like a wartime Bill Murray, who wakes up every morning only to find that it is still 9/11." -- Bruce Reed, Slate

The rest is also good.


Unconscionable, but consistent.

Does anyone seriously still consider Bush a "compassionate conservative"? As usual, he considers help for the desperately poor to be a left-wing conspiracy to take the escargot and creme brulee out of the mouths of the truly deserving rich.

The U.S. used to have a reputation throughout the world as the most generous of nations. It's only taken four and a half years for Bush to completely reverse that.

The L.A. Times agrees:

His most odious change was to delete all references to the Millennium Development Goals, which commit industrialized nations to cutting world poverty in half by 2015. Part of the deal was that rich countries would eventually contribute 0.7% of their gross national product to foreign aid. The goals were a world-changing burst of optimism from international leaders in 2000, a recognition that all people have the right to be free from misery, starvation and preventable disease and that those able to pay have some responsibility to alleviate needless suffering.

Most of Europe is moving closer to the 0.7% goal, but the United States has long lagged; last year it contributed 0.16% of national income to foreign aid. Bolton's amendments make it clear that the Bush administration would like to pretend the millennium agreement never happened. This is a slap in the face for the aid organizations and international donors that have been working for years toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals. But it's far worse than that for the Third World, where their abandonment would be a death sentence for millions.

Monday, August 29


Could Russ Feingold win the nomination in '08 or will Dems be frightened off by the ghosts of McCarthy and McGovern?


"George, I didn't want to say this, but you're starting to sound like -- well, like an addict. I've been reading this little book about gambling addictions. Let me read you some of the symptoms: 'Spending a lot of time with other gamblers. Continuing to gamble despite negative consequences. Gambling as a means to cope with uncomfortable feelings. Chasing losses with bigger bets. Swearing to quit as soon as you get your money back. Borrowing, or taking out secret loans, to pay for gambling. Bragging about wins, but not mentioning losses. Spending more than originally planned.' Any of that sound familiar? I don't think you planned to drop 1800 and change at the Baghdad, did you?"

You can read the whole thing here.


How, you ask, can Bush be so successful at achieving his legislative agenda yet so incompetent in prosecuting the war in Iraq?

Here's how.


"It's not worth it."

I hope that soldier was talking about our "mission."

Sunday, August 28


As Hurricane Katrina nears the Gulf Coast, our prayers and thoughts go out to all those whose lives and homes and loved ones are in jeopardy. As a native northwest Floridian (though with family all up and down the Gulf Coast), I've seen hurricanes come and go. Some warnings we take more seriously than others. All through my youth my family would refuse to evacuate, and during Camille (1969), one of the few Category V hurricanes, my uncle, who stayed home in Gulfport while his wife and daughters left, was found in a tree near his roofless house, unconscious and with a broken arm. Since then my family has evacuated anytime they were advised to do so and now have a network of destination options developed. They've come to regard evacuations as mini-vacations.

I wish everyone had such options. For many without the ready cash, the prospect of leaving home, sheltering in a school and sleeping on cots discourages them from doing the sensible thing. But a Category IV or V hurricane is a killer and has to be seen to be understood. I remember driving out to the beach, about 10 miles from my home, after one such and seeing the reality so vividly the image has never left my mind. A beachfront apartment house owned by one of my close friend's parents had the beach-facing side completely ripped away so that one could see the appliances and furniture squashed into the doorways of the rooms of the four-story structure. It was a terrifying sight, visible proof of the power of surging tides that could lift and carry refrigerators, washers and heavy bedsteads and hurl them at will.

So please, if you're anywhere near the target area, get out and get out now. Make it an adventure for the kids, like camping out. And don't come back until you've been assured that it's safe to do so. Remember, most deaths occur AFTER the storm has passed.


Substitute IRAQ for VIETNAM in these quotes and see if they don't give you chills.

"Should I become President...I will not risk American permitting any other nation to drag us into the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time through an unwise commitment that is unwise militarily, unnecessary to our security and unsupported by our allies." -- JFK, October 1960

“The administration should clarify its intent in Viet Nam. People lack confidence in the credibility of our government. Even our allies are beginning to suspect what we say." -- Donald Rumsfeld, 1966

"The war against Vietnam is only the ghastliest manifestation of what I'd call imperial provincialism, which afflicts America's whole culture--aware only of its own history, insensible to everything which isn't part of the local atmosphere. --Stephen Vizinczey, Hungarian novelist, 1968

"Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world's policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world's midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war." --Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1979

"It's time that we recognized that ours was in truth a noble cause." --Ronald Reagan, Oct. 1980

"Above all, Vietnam was a war that asked everything of a few and nothing of most in America." --Myra MacPherson, 1984


Frank Rich is right. Democrats risk irrelevancy as long as they support continuing the Iraq War. Should a Democrat stake out such a position ("we can still win this thing if only someone more competent than Bush was prosecuting it') and win the presidency in 2008, it won't be long before the Democratic Party owns this war -- it will be quickly forgotten that it was the Republicans who got us into this mess.

It's 1968 all over again, with the parties flipped. LBJ, a Democrat, escalated the conflict in Vietnam he inherited from JFK into a full-fledged war and after 3-4 years had to face the fact that he could not win re-election because of it. Richard Nixon, who in his turn inherited it from LBJ after his own election in 1968, was determined not to be the first American president to lose a war and made the disastrous mistake of trying to continue the war "under new management." He had a "secret plan to end the war," he said, as if management was the problem, not the war or the rationales for it themselves. Nixon and his party, I suppose in a fervor of nationalism, refused to brand the conflict as a mistake and continued to beat the drums of patriotism and the domino theory. Four more years was enough to bring the American public to the realization that the Vietnam War was a dreadful, dreadful mistake. What's more, it was now Nixon's war, not LBJ's, and Republicans eventually paid a political price for that sentiment.

Now most of our Democratic leaders are echoing Nixon's mistake. Once again, it's the management, not the policy, that's in error. Polls show that a majority of Americans don't agree with them. Biden, Kerry, Clinton et al say if only we would throw more troops into Iraq things would turn out differently. Where, precisely, do they propose getting those troops? And why, precisely, do they think that even a defeat of the "insurgents" would discourage conflict between the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi'ites? The problem is, the hawks still don't understand that the insurgents are not, Vietnam style, representing a single ideology or identity. They're composed of former Ba'athists, ordinary Iraqis who want their country won back from the invading Americans, foreign fighters, and, most significantly, adherents of various clerics and Islamic ideologies. Our staying or going is not going to change the fact that we've already broken Iraq, we've allowed it to fragment it, and we simply can't paste it back together again.

I've read the arguments of many whom I respect in the blogosphere that we have to win the 2006 and 2008 elections in order to change the course of the war (and our own nation), and that we can't do that with a "dove" at the head of the ticket. I reject that as a fallacy. The trick is not to endorse the Bush mission but to change the positioning of the Democrats. Our leader mustn't pretend that it was right to vote for the war but that Bush has bungled it. He or she should insist that we were deceived and that now we know it was a terrible error to invade Iraq, and that continuing it will break the Army and the Guard and ruin our chances of fighting global terrorism, protecting our borders and securing our homeland from the very real threats that now and might in the future threaten the country. We can talk militarily tough all we want so as to avoid the George McGovern syndrome, but we mustn't for one minute suggest that Bush was right. If we elect a Democratic hawk, we'll own this disastrous war, and we'll get the blame for years to come for a situation we inherited and could not win.

Because make no mistake -- there is no way to win in Iraq.


This morning on the McLaughlin Group, Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune predicted for the 2006 elections the greatest upset of incumbents since 1994, based on current polls.


George Will and Cokie Roberts were lavishing praise on Alan Greenspan This Week and his legacy for reigning in inflation during his tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve when Fahreed Zakaria offered what he called a "mild dissent" -- Fahreed suggested that it has not been Greenspan but in recent years China and India who, with their low prices and labor costs, have exerted a controlling influence on U.S. inflation rates. Fahreed said that the U.S. has traditionally chided western European capitalist states for their inability to "suffer the pain of capitalism," the low cycles that inevitably occur, but that under Greenspan the U.S. has itself financed a wild party by accumulating crushing consumer and national debt, and Fahreed criticized Greenspan's embrace of the Bush tax cuts. Here's the money quote:

"Alan Greenspan has spiked the punch bowl with grain alcohol."