Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Beginning Of The End?

The feeding frenzy is on in regards to the outing of Valerie Plame. Blood in the water, sharks arriving on the scene. The very conservative Washington Times joins in:
It is a natural instinct of any White House to hunker down when political opponents are making accusations of wrongdoing. This page supported the president in 2000 and anticipates doing so again in 2004. But this is beyond politics. It is a simple matter of right or wrong. And it is precisely at such moments that the moral and ethical measure of a statesmen is taken.

Indeed, this is a simple matter of right and wrong. At the root level. Beyond that, it stinks of the level of politics we have fallen to in America. What especially the right wing has stooped to, in its efforts to coopt democracy. I'm sick of it, and I'm glad that the Washington Times is also demanding action.

President Bush should have been all over this when it first arose months ago. Since he wasn't, he either is behind it, i.e. "in the loop", or not a moral or involved leader. This kind of leak, and for the sole purpose of revenge, is intolerable in the damage it could do. The lives it could put in danger. The operations, covers, and investigations it could jeopardize.

The worst part of it all is why they did it. Not at root for political revenge, but to defend a skewed and exaggerated case for war. Yes, the administration knew they had left parts of the case out, and thus felt that people like Wilson needed to be silenced, or punished, or made an example, so others wouldn't get the same idea. What idea? To communicate facts, and elicit the truth.

This is the tipping point of one of the greatest scandals in American history. A fradulent war. What I mean by this is not that Saddam Hussein is the preferable leader of Iraq, but that we initiated this action, this war, which has resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives and the suffering of countless millions, under false pretenses. We exaggerated and distorted the evidence in order to influence the American public (successfully) and the world (unsuccessfully) that this was a just and preferable action. This has tarnished the effort, the success, of an otherwise eminently justifiable (but case not made) goal of deposing a brutal dictator.

For us to have become the bad guys in this effort, to have ruined our name, reputation, and treasury over it, is tragic and absurd, not to mention wrong.

To have denigrated the UN and long time allies over disagreements, to deny the value of debate and discussion of arguments and ideas, to trash the name of leaders who were only following the opinions of their people, was wrong.

To have stonewalled on and manipulated the discussion of the true risks and costs of this war, while the economy lagged, record numbers of Americans were out of work, and huge tax cuts benefiting mainly the wealthy were enacted, and while veterans benefits were being proposed to be cut, was wrong.

To have dismissed millions of Americans on the streets protesting this war, including hundreds of thousands in New York, site of Ground Zero, as a "focus group", or as closet traitors, was wrong.

To then have traitorously outed the wife of a man as an undercover agent of the CIA, because he was telling the truth as he sees it, and endangering her connections and operations, to essentially try to squelch the truth, and to further a lie, was wrong.

Friday, September 26, 2003

New Democracy Forum

If you haven't been introduced, go check them out. You won't regret it.
The American Sentimentalist Is Back!

I noticed today that Mark W. Andersen, otherwise known as The American Sentimentalist (or at least that's his blog), has returned from a long hiatus. How long? Almost two months. Now, I don't know what he's been doing, but I can say that's he's back to doing what he does best - articulating on the American condition.
Not only does the U.S. continue to single-handedly dominate the world market for arms sales, as evidenced by a new report sent to Congress this week by the Congressional Research Service, but it also continues to pretend that it does no such thing, instead preferring to present itself as a peace-loving nation who deserves the respect and support of the world community for its unquestionable commitment to peace.

He concludes his piece along this theme with this question:

"...how can we trust those leaders who promise us peace and security in our own neighborhood but who fail to mention that it comes at the expense of those who live and die, unseen, on the other side of town?"

Here is my reply:

Setting aside the ghettos, and our lead in violent deaths and crime in the democratic world, and accepting the question as is, we cannot trust those leaders. Only a fool would do so.

There is such a thing as foresight, vision, strategy, and wisdom. You would hope your leaders have it. The Chinese have contemplated and experimented with it for thousands of years. We don't have that.

Our leaders have a clear economic self-interest in selling arms around the world. It is really less a national security strategy first, and capitalizing crony-style second, then allowing one's own interest to shape national security interests, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Since we cannot definitively call this a conscious process, which would be the same as an indictment (for all intents and purposes), this serves to underscore the need for checks and balances. One check and balance which is vastly out of order is that of the people themselves. Thus, the need for strengthening the freedom of information, increasing transparency, tightening conflict of interest rules, and being more vigilant against corruption.

The people must force this issue. Those who benefit as things are won't bring this to them. They'll avoid it, and battle each other on more surface issues.

As for the other suffering peoples who bear the brunt of our hubris and largesse, God bless them. There's not much to be done, because most of these countries are not even democracies, or free. It's elites who buy these arms, in order to further their own parochial power interests.

It's a mess, and here in America we can only demand greater participation and to give our informed consent. To do this, we'll need the information, we'll need transparency to ensure accountability.

Without it, we can do nothing, but have faith in leaders we do not trust, and who we know subscribe to a philosophy of self-interest being the greatest good.

I was sent scraping back for this exchange today after reading a post from Thinking It Through, where Tom referred to a piece written by Jack Beatty from the Atlantic Online.

The Founders feared that the republic would succumb to corruption without republican citizenship—without citizens who could transcend privatism and hold elected officials to account, demanding probity and competence, and judging their performance against both the clamorous necessities of the time and the mute claims of posterity.

We face the same danger today, and there is no excuse for it. Not with our unprecedented media reach and exposure. It's time we take back the media, and start taking charge of our democracy.

Beyond The New Patriotism...What Is Success?

Democrats have a habit of assuming that everyone is as sure as they are that voting Bush out is the top (if not only) priority in 2004. They're wrong. Most people are not that passionate about it one way or the other, yet, and are just going about their lives.

With that in mind, those who are angry should be catered to at this point, because they're the ones who are paying attention, driving discussion, and raising unexpected tons of cash for the Demos.

Don't mistake all these angry people for Democrats either. Many are independents, Greens and Progressives who are more than willing to get behind Dean. They like what Dean is about, and they are not just about voting out Bush. They've been angry with both the Republicans and Democrats for a long time.

Thus the quandary. You can't expect a strategy of bullying independents and progressives into voting against Bush to work, outright, so you really do have to run on something that addresses that, and their concerns.

Also, you have to run a candidate who can speak to those who are not so passionate about things, or who have yet to become passionate. Howard Dean has the quality of motivating people, of making those who are dispassionate become passionate. In addition, he's not a radical, or a leftist, and hasn't even really promoted that part of his record and platform yet, so he deftly could become the acceptable candidate for moderates as well.

Don't count out Dean. Or any of the others for that matter. And don't expect a majority of Americans just to vote "against Bush". You have to run on something, for something, you have to define what success will be, on your terms. The "new patriotism" is a step, but it should be the default that you can exercise your freedom of speech and expect accountability from your leaders, not a revolutionary new platform.

That's what the Right is doing to this country. They really are moving and framing issues, and limiting consciousness. They've got Democrats selling the ship and believing that the greatest thing they can do is to defeat Bush/Rove.

What a joke. Wake up. Transparency and accountability. Freedom of information. Electoral reform and Instant Runoff Voting. Make the people happy. Really. Give them what they want. For real. Stop being the lesser evil, and start being something good.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

More On The New Patriotism

I'm really loving the "new patriotism" thing. The publicity it's getting. We really need to hear that. Whether Wes lasts or not, the message that people should speak out, and that leaders should be accountable, needs to be heard.

There is no effective defense against it from the Bush Administration. They are totally unaccountable, share no information, and are downright antagonistic to the exercise of free speech.

With Dean angrily, and Clark matter-of-factly, pushing the meme that we need a change of leadership because our current one is antagonistic to American values, the veil of fear can be lifted.

People want to complain, they want to speak out. Things are going badly. The economy sucks. They're out of work. They're sick of Iraq, and sick of lies and BS. They know we need to somehow succeed in Iraq, but how we define that, and with who leading the way, is totally open, and negotiable.

Americans want to breathe again. Between Dean and Clark, and with Kerry, Kucinich, Graham, and the other Democratic hopefuls, that breathing space is being opened, whether you're angry, or whether you're just chagrined.

Hopefully the Democrats don't blow it. They're poised to seize one of the most dramatic, defining, and decisive victories in the history of American politics. Against the current monopoly of politics and discourse, with its vision of a new century of fear and unilateralist domination triggered by a single terrorist attack, and for an American-led, global democratic renaissance, and retrenchment, after 9/11, defined by a coming together, in unison, of the free and decent peoples of the world, united in opposition to those who hate, commit violence, and seek to undermine free democratic society and civilization.
Let's Not Forget John Kerry, Or Dennis Kucinich, Or...

Other Democrats have also spoke out about "what is patriotism". John Kerry, during the war, very bravely, and Dennis Kucinich, with his anti-war stance, since before the war even started. I shouldn't leave them out, or any of the others, but I'm not going to go overboard and list everyone. The message is the medium.
The New Patriotism

I just finished reading about Wesley Clark's promotion of "a new American patriotism". To hear this sentiment from a man of his stature is inspiring. And most welcome. Though I realize Clark isn't inventing the concept, as here and elsewhere this "speaking out, questioning authority and holding your leaders accountable" has been the going currency, it's refreshing to hear this from a leading contender for the top leadership job of this country.

To be frank, what Clark is advocating is holding himself accountable, and leaving himself open to questioning, since the ostensible goal of his run, and his platform, is to be the very leader he is referencing. To my knowledge, this is an unprecedented platform for a presidential candidate, and is a signal of the remarkable times that we live in (that free speech and accountability would be so seemingly revolutionary).

We now have at least two candidates, the two top Democratic candidates mind you (including Howard Dean), who are running on (what can be considered) unprecedented platforms. For citizen empowerment, participation, and real American values. For transparency and accountability. In this regard, Clark has come out strongest so far, with his "new patriotism". I'd like to hear more from Howard Dean about this, and, alternatively, would like to hear more from Clark on electoral reform and IRV, which Dean has championed. These two guys alone signal the beginning of what I see as the new American renaissance, not to mention a new century of freedom.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Tell The Truth As You See It

The latest furor, or at least one of the latest, surrounds Ted Kennedy's statements referring to the Iraq foreign policy as a "fraud", as well as criticizing the lack of accountability of funds allotted for Iraq, with speculation that this gap is due to attempts to "bribe" other governments to help or bail us out.

Ted Kennedy is a great American. A senator and statesman. He has evidence to back his claims, and he is calling it as he sees it. There's no harm in that. To any who would wish to silence Mr. Kennedy, I can only say this: back up your claims. Ted can, and does.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Coming Down A Little Too Hard On Bustamante

After reflecting on my criticisms of Cruz Bustamante, and considering the decision today ordering Cruz to give the big money donations back, I've come to the conclusion that I came down to hard on him.

Though I strongly disagree with any intentional dickering around with fair elections law, if the judge in today's case found no reason to believe Bustamante intended to break the law, I certainly don't have the information to say so.

It's too bad that it has to get like this though. Even the appearance of impropriety hurts the cause of the everyday voter, and also in this case Cruz Bustamante's campaign. He will tarnished by this court action, if only even slightly. The race just might be that close.

Regardless how close that part of the recall vote goes, there's still little question in my mind that it needs to be shot down. It is a silly law, in the sense of allowing less than 10% of voters to oust a sitting governor. In today's partisan world, it's absurd actually. This could be done everytime, and there's little doubt that this will be a one-shot wonder, unless Arnie becomes governor, in which case the Democrats may just turn the tables before then rewriting the recall process.

The first and only important principled vote is NO on the Recall. Do not let this great state of California be hijacked. We just had an election, and if you can't win that, then quit your crying. At least wait a little while. But this timeline is absurd, and is another example of the coopting of politics by monied interests. It's time for that to be reined in, so that the everyday Californian voter again begins to believe that their vote counts.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Cruz Bustamante Is In The Same Boat As Arnie

By violating the intent of our laws, whether legal or not, in his fundraising, Cruz Bustamante has lost legitimacy and credibility. He should not be our governor this cycle.

The only vote left is NO on the recall (which I've advocated all along). Either that, or vote for one of the independents or third party candidates. Priniciples matter. The two parties continue to prove their inviability and corruption.

I, for one, am sick of the "lesser of two evils". Is this the enduring vision of our democracy and elections?

Please, all of you, fight for electoral reform. Instant runoff voting. Demand it.

Pretty, pretty please.
The Forgetting Man II

It's just beyond shame, and impropriety, for Arnold Schwarzenegger to be getting unequal access to high-audience major media outlets. It is an affront to the state of California, and to democracy in America. Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, and Larry King should be seen for what they are...cynical operators of self-interest who are furthering the erosion of American principles of equality and justice.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a friend of democracy. He skips debates against his opponents, and instead chooses to appear on vanity shows that have very little substance or critical reflection. He is a symptom of what sucks in America - what is eating us alive and eroding our cherished principles of democracy.

We don't have equal-time rules for nothing. It is not Arnie's job to find the loopholes in this clearly communicated spirit of fair elections. He is wrong. It doesn't matter if it's legal. It is wrong. He is going against the intent of the law, and he knows it.

Arnold is a fake and a charlatan. I don't care if I'm repeating myself. He has not addressed the great issues which face us here in California, and has questionable ties to those who worked against us during the energy crisis (Ken Lay).

Forget about Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's not one of us.

Monday, September 15, 2003

The Forgetting Man

Seems that Arnold Schwarzenegger is of the mentally frail sort. Has a very hard time remembering anything. First, it was the OUI magazine interview about the orgy. He claimed he didn't remember it. How do you forget an orgy in the weight room? (BS meter at 9 out of 10)

Then, it came out that he attended a meeting to hear Ken Lay's energy plans for California, just before our energy crisis hit. Seems Arnie can't remember this meeting either, which begs the absurd. How do you forget a high-profile meeting with the chairman of one of America's biggest corporations, about a matter which has since crippled the state you live in, and in which you have stated your desire to lead? (BS meter at 8 out of 10)

Now, it seems that Arnold earned a salary from Joe Weider when he came to California on his H-2 visa, which of course is illegal. This is not a surprise, one would expect it, and it's certain that Arnie was paid under the table, as many an illegal immigrant. It's well documented by Arnold and Joe throughout the years in various interviews. But guess what? Arnold can't remember receiving a salary from Joe Weider, Joe can't seem to remember how often he paid Arnold, and Arnold's campaign manager has made a number of absurd statements about the sum of $65, including that Arnold got a one-time payment of $65. Wow! That'll tide you over! (BS meter at 10 out of 10)

Arnold is a liar. He's the perfect politician. The whole routine - denial, deceit, delay - he's got down pat. And he calls himself an outsider? Please. He's already proven to be a lying politician, and not a very effective one at that. You can put me on the record with this. Arnold Schwarzenegger, until he comes clean and starts to own up to things, is nothing more than a vain, racist, misogynistic, cynical manipulator. You can quote me on that. We don't need him here in California. Or those who seek to subvert normal elections, and the affairs of the state, with less than 10% of the people giving a signature.

I'm still waiting to hear how Arnold explains his white-power crap that he threw on the black body builders he worked out with. Does he remember?


UPDATE: Wow, anger can really do it to you. In its moment. I called Ahnuld something I shouldn't have earlier, and I'm taking it back. It's my blog, I'll do what I want. To Arnie, I apologize for that single remark, though nothing else. I've replaced the offending noun with "manipulator".

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Fear And 9/11

We must never surrender to fear. Ever. On 9/11, an act of war was committed against the United States. We were caught sleeping, and thousands of Americans died. The airline security problems that allowed that attack to occur have been addressed. Yet the nation still lives in fear. Our leadership, and especially President Bush, is largely to blame for this.

In the atmosphere of fear our leadership has cultivated, calls for security seem to be trumping the protections of liberty. I call this the fear quotient. The more fear, the more one seeks to alleviate it, to feel secure, and to sacrifice some personal freedom. The less fear, the more the demands for freedom seem the preeminent concern. In the civil rights struggles of our history, it has always been the conquest of fear, and the consequent enlargement of consciousness and courage, that has given the oppressed peoples the fortitude to demand freedom before all else. Liberty or death.

In a larger sense, this fear quotient works around the world. The more we are feared, the less secure those who fear us will feel, and the more we will be vulnerable to attack from them. This seems paradoxical, but only because we are so used to playing with a stacked deck. The need to alleviate fear, through one means or another, is paramount in our human experience. Thus, this will be the same for an oppressed people who fear their oppressor. Our only recourse for this is to believe we are too strong, too powerful, to be touched, or to be harmed. In other words, invulnerable. After 9/11, we know all too well this is not true.

Regardless of our state of vulnerability, this is not the mission or moral basis of our great nation. To be invulnerable. To be an untouchable superpower. We are about freedom and opportunity first, and security and power second. Any nation may choose security and power as their highest goal, their most esteemed aspiration, but this has nothing to do with freedom, justice, equality, opportunity, or capitalism. Any number of means may be chosen to reach this end, and none has been proven infallible through history.

What makes us different in America is that we are about something greater than these mundane political power concerns, and this something is not solely about us as a nation. About America. Rather, we focus on means, not ends. Freedom is our highest value, our most cherished dream, and freedom is owned and deserved by all, not by a chosen few. Whoever they are. Wherever they are. In America, we were the first to declare independence, and we will not be the last. We are certainly not alone.

As for security against the oppressor, against those who would frustrate our national mission from the outside, we need to be vigilant. Against the criminal who would inflict harm, a certain level of security is essential. At the same time, to downplay and surrender our most cherished values and aspirations, in an effort to gain greater security and power, needs to be passionately justified. Clearly and definitively. Also, these new powers, if granted, need to be wielded openly and transparently.

In this, we can have no confidence in our current leadership. They who ask for these expanded powers, and who make little effort to alleviate the irrational fears of Americans, have done little in the way of sharing information. The information they have trumped, for the most part, itself has been found wanting. Instead, the trend has been to conceal or avoid information, like the costs of a war with Iraq, and to deny access to information sought by other branches of government, or concerned citizens, in regards to their procedures and deliberations.

Base foolishness it would be to deed more power to a team which hoards everything it gets. Information is power. Our current leadership, and administration, share virtually nothing but messages of anxiety, fear, and disguised ideology. When their statements are examined for veracity, they are found fanciful and, in many cases, no longer even being defended. Thousands have died by our hands, yet we have no consistent, singular motive for it. To say it's a war against evil, against terrorism, is not good enough. There must be some legitimacy. Around the world, we've lost that, and in the process created a violent and terrorist-drawing cesspool in Iraq that we were supposed to be fighting elsewhere.

Indeed, it is we who have brought the terrorists to Iraq, most gallingly of all claiming to do so for the benefit of the Iraqi people. Though Saddam was no angel, I fail to see how drawing terrorists to Iraq is going to help the Iraqi people. To liberate them. To relieve their suffering. All of these have been trumped as justifications for the war.

I also don't see how these actions will serve the legacy of 9/11. Instead, I feel only shame, and remorse at the loss of global solidarity and compassion that rode in the wake of our great national tragedy. To lose that, to completely reverse it, to move from love and compassion to fear and loathing, is the greatest tragedy of all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

How Bad Is Our Intelligence?

If I'm to believe the administration, and specifically Condi Rice, we underestimated the vileness of Saddam Hussein, in regards to his wanton disregard for the infrastructure of Iraq. Now, I don't want to be too shrill about this, but if our intelligence agencies can't even ascertain the state of lightly-guarded public facilities, i.e. infrastructure, in Iraq, then how the hell are they going to infiltrate the inner circles of Al Qaeda and other secretive terrorist organizations?

I'm serious about this. I could have led an intelligence operation in Iraq, with no experience, and developed a team that could have discerned the state of infrastructure and public facilities in Iraq. How hard can that be? I mean, my expectation level of our intelligence, of our James Bonds, goes far beyond this mundane task.

Not that I believe Rice when she says they underestimated Saddam. They didn't guard the crucial ministries and facilities during and after the war, and that is the main reason for the infrastructure problems today. Not what took place before the war. Perhaps if they had secured these ministries, like they did the Ministry of Oil, we wouldn't be having this conversation, and the Iraqi people wouldn't be suffering so badly, or living so poorly.

I encourage all of you to ponder your own expectations for our intelligence services and operations. Not to mention care and attention by elected leaders to deteriorating infrastructure.
Further Thoughts On Civic Participation And Informed Consent

From Natasha over at Pacific Views. She writes a great piece, and really gets into it, along our main themes of informed consent, expanded political enfranchisement, and grassroots responsibility and accountability of our elected representatives.
Your community needs you. Not someone who's had more practice talking to people. Not someone more influential, attractive, smarter, richer, better educated, or in possession of more leisure time. You.

None of those other things are at issue. Thanks to the magic of television and nationwide print media, we all get constantly presented with the opportunity to compare ourselves to fictional paragons. People whose rough edges have been smoothed away by speaking coaches and make-up artists. We don't see the mustard stained tie, the laundry day clothes, the beat up car they drove nervously to their first job interview, or all the years of struggle and mistakes.


We are today watching the mugging of our democracy, and the collapse of informed consent. But it seems too many people have assumed that with 300 million people watching, nothing too bad can happen. But maybe we need to suggest that because so many people think someone else will handle things, that it's someone else's job to participate and stay informed, we are at far greater risk.

Don't buy the subtle lie that anyone else is working on your behalf to keep you informed, or to tell you if your participation is needed. The media is a business, and their goal is to stay in business. Even bloggers who are gathering information for a hobby each have a personal agenda regarding what interests and concerns them. And all information outlets are prone to missing things that may be of crucial importance, because they can't cover everything there is to know.

There's a lot more, as she really fleshes out her thoughts, and I highly encourage you to join her. We all need to become more actively involved in our own liberty, community, and world.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

A Couple Thoughts On Campaign Finance Reform

Yesterday, the Supreme Court began reviewing the latest legislation on campaign finance reform. All appearances seem to indicate an even split, with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a familiar role as swing vote. After reading the article this morning, I was struck with two insights.
But attorneys for the political parties said that by banning unlimited "soft money" contributions from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals, the law will starve the parties of needed money. They said it diminishes their ability to carry out their core mission: organizing and turning out their voters in elections.

The first insight comes from this argument, which seems sound, upon initial examination, until you reflect on reality rather than rhetoric. If the core mission of political parties is indeed to "organize and turn out voters", what the heck are they doing with all of the money they are collecting?

To my knowledge, America has the worst turnout for general elections than any other modern democracy. On the other hand, I'm quite sure that our political parties collect orders of magnitude higher amounts of cash than political parties from these other democratic nations. So, with this in mind, aside from the campaign finance reform implications, does this mean that the political parties are failing in their mission? Or, more likely, that they are just lying about their core mission to the Supreme Court justices, when they know full well that their primary purpose is to spend money to influence elections?

The defeatist and shill Antonio Scalia (who yes, I do not like) surely must believe this nonsense, or consider it not to matter (since hopeless, in his opinion, to try stopping the buying and selling of politics), but what would explain the views of the other justices? Will they actually fall for this rhetorical sophistry, which, though valid on its face, and well-spoken, is clearly unsound when an even slight examination of the facts is taken?

The second insight came a bit later in the article, during discussions about limiting corporate and union political activities and speech. What struck me more than anything is the base assumption that these types of collectives, or organizations, should have any "rights" so to speak of at all. Certainly there is nothing in the Constitution that would require it, for the Constitution is concerned with the God-given rights of human beings, as citizens, and is not concerned with these particular fictional entities.

I don't know the history behind it, but I assume that at some point, or points, in history Congress has insitutionalized these protections and rights of fictional entities. In a worse case scenario, in which the Supreme Court decides against legislation drafted to stem the buying and selling of democracy and opinion, then the very protected status of these fictional entities itself should be reviewed. I'm not advocating it right at this moment, but my initial gut feeling on this is that this is a legitimate and legal way to address the issue, and one that libertarians, conservatives, and liberals will not be able to dismiss out-of-hand (except those who are in hock to corporate and union money).

Take a moment with me. Lean in to reality, with open eyes and ears. Look at the number of people who "buy-in" to democracy in America. Look at other democratic nations. See what's different, and what's clearly negligent. See what's wrong, and try to determine how to fix it. We need to expand the political establishment, and enfranchisement. To stem cynicism, and attitudes of meaninglessness. Education needs to be primarily focused on this civic achievement, rather than just being a mill with which to spit out technicians of various kinds. Technical education has its place, in that we are a vibrant capitalist economy in need of labor and innovation, but that's not our American mandate and mission, despite the reactionary residue of the Cold War.

Our mandate and mission is about liberty, justice, and freedom, and taking responsibility for that by being involved, voting, and aware of the day-to-day issues that fuel and challenge our liberalist democratic tradition. The rest, including how we manage our economic activites above and beyond the exercise of liberty, follows in its wake.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Can Leadership Get Any Worse?

We are finally going to the U.N., and to countries such as France and Germany, to request assistance and share the burden of Iraq. Fairly. One wonders why this hasn't been done earlier.
The effort to secure international assistance is "a tacit admission that we don't have the forces there to get the job done," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "If we don't turn things around in the next few months we are facing a very serious long-term, problem."

Why do I characterize this as a failure of leadership? Simple. If Senator McCain's statement is to be taken at face value, we now seem to be negotiating in a position of weakness. This is a great turnabout from the mood and stature around the world we wielded after 9/11. Then, we could ask, even demand, in negotiations with a position of strength, for nations to help us in a fair and equitable way. Win-win for everyone, and most of all for us, because we're driving events.

Now, on the other hand, we're being driven by events. Since in the initial war buildup we played hardball with negotiations, and overestimated our strength, we in the end poisoned some of those relationships, and made it clear we could go it on our own, with the help of a few traditional friends (not to mention a number of "rogue's gallery" allies). We scorned the very idea of needing the help of "Old Europe", or the U.N., and then marched into war in arrogance and lack of full preparation.

The situation has changed. As Senator McCain states it, if we don't get help now, "we are facing a serious, long-term problem". This almost sounds like a bailout. In other words, we are becoming dependent on assistance now, and everyone knows it. This is not, and no longer, negotiating in strength. It is weakness. Looking at the whole picture, from the beginning of the war process until now, it is incompetence and bungling.

Whoever was driving this process really thought they were the smartest and baddest people in the world. The only ones who understood the rod and mantle of power. What a joke. They have ruined the highest state of global solidarity in memory, post-9/11 sentiment, and fumbled negotiations for a very expensive and perilous war that could have been easily handled otherwise.

They have fumbled away great opportunities, and, like sorceror's apprentices, caused havoc with power. Since the sane individual doesn't agree with their "power-or-else" philosophy, and may indeed believe that ordered and respectful relations are the keys to world peace and prosperity, nothing in the overall picture has been irretrievably lost. Only some time, and we know there are those who are set on striking us. To them, we must turn our attention, along with our freedom-loving and peace-nurturing friends and allies around the globe.



We must also finish the job in Iraq.

We must also stop blowing opportunities to weave freedom around the globe, by the heart and not the sword.


Finally, I give credit to President Bush for finally changing direction, at this late stage of the game. I expect some of the civilians who have misled you to see their proper end. Unemployed.