Friday, April 18, 2003

WHY DEMOCRATS SHOULD BE PROUD

It may seem like recently almost all I do is link to other articles. Perhaps so; still, I want to make sure my readers who may miss other well written pieces get good input to fuel their thinking machines.

Or maybe I want to make sure everyone else stays up nights worrying about the Bush machine like I do.

The most recent in what seems to be a spate of good analyses of the Bush regime comes again from Digby at Hullabaloo. He's one of the progeny of Atrios and Markos from Daily Kos. Some samples:
What’s Wrong With The Democratic Party?

Nothing, actually.

First of all, it is terribly important that we remember that the Democratic agenda is remarkably coherent for such a large coalition and it is universally supported within the party and by a majority of the country as a whole.

That is really quite remarkable when you think about it and it is the Democratic Party’s great strength

. . .

It is . . . important to remember that the Bush administration does not have a real governing majority or an electoral mandate. They just behave as if they do. . . .. Al and Ralph, both left of center, won a clear majority in 2000. We should not allow them to make even us believe that they are universally beloved and supported in this country. The ballot box has certainly not demonstrated that and neither do the re-elect numbers.

Yet, they have successfully enacted a radical economic and social agenda of supply side tax cutting, begun a revolutionary overhaul of the legal system, initiated massive regulation rollbacks and dissolution of the traditional separation of church and state. And they have also, not incidentally, completely overturned half century of foreign policy doctrine in just 2 years.

What’s amazing is that they have done all of this not only without a mandate, but without even explicitly campaigning on those issues or being honest about their implications. They are secretive and uncooperative with both the congress and the press and have assumed an inappropriate level of power in the executive branch. They do this because they know that they cannot win with their real agenda.

So, if most Americans support the Democratic agenda and the Republicans are blatantly governing far more radically than they promised in their campaigns, how are they getting away with it?

First, the other side has a huge advantage in money, incumbency and a constituency that benefits lopsidedly from the unrepresentative electoral college and senate. These are very powerful advantages that are unlikely to go away soon. But, even more importantly, they are overwhelmingly powerful in media, with the megaphone of power they now hold in all branches of government as well as the outright ownership of powerful talk radio, Murdoch newspapers and cable news.

. . .
The Bush administration, then, really is the political equivalent of Enron. Ken Lay and George W. Bush and Karl Rove and Andrew Fastow and Jeff Skilling and Dick Cheney are all cut from the same cloth.

. . .

The Democrats’ job is to prevent this from happening to the country. As taxpayers and citizens we are all shareholders in U.S. Inc. and if George W. Bush gets 4 more years I have no doubt that the results of his erratic decision making, his lack of transparency, his trust in radical ideologues and his reliance on sophisticated public relations to mislead the public will crash into reality. But, by that point the country will have been so seriously damaged that we may never quite recognize it again.

We shouldn't let these guys intimidate us. They are dangerous, but it's because they are reckless and corrupt not because they are a political juggernaut. That's their schtick. It's not real.
Now let's start telling the world the truth. Democrats, let's stand up in the face of Fox News and Clear Channel and Rush Limbaugh and tell the nation that the emperor has no clothes on.



Thursday, April 17, 2003

VIRTUAL MARCH TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS

We who opposed the war were accused of not supporting the troops. We denied it and continue to do so. Natasha at The Watch has proposed a fine idea that puts our support into action. She's proposing a new virtual march on Washington to oppose Bush's cuts in veterans' benefits and education benefits for soldiers' children.

I think it's a fine idea. I encourage other bloggers and my readers to spread the idea. Natasha has proposed May 1st, and that's fine. But I'd say let's do it on Memorial Day, the day we remember those who died in the wars -- justified or otherwise -- this country has been involved in. No matter why the leadership of the country started the war, the soldiers went to battle; they fought, died, and were wounded, and still bear the scars today.

It's a perfect idea for those of us who really do care about people (unlike the Bushies who don't give a damn about the GIs once the war is over). Spread the word. Let's swamp Bush and our Congress with the idea that we are NOT going to throw our wounded soldiers and their families away like used condoms.

Any bets that Clear Channel will NOT organize big rallies on this one?

UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED, ROVE WINS

Over at The Daily Kos, Steve Gilliard (whose analysis I usually admire) has stirred things up but good by raising the old "Nader cost Gore the election, so the mess we're in now is all the fault of the unyielding radical left." (If you go read the post, read the 300 plus comments. As you do so, imagine you're in a bar and how far into the comment exchange things would have devolved into fisticuffs.) I've had an ongoing exchange of views with a friend on this very subject. We've gotten about as far as the old "less filling, tastes great" exchanges. It used to be funny. It's not funny any more.

From the mid 20s to 1936, China's two main power groups, the Nationalists and the Communists, spent all their time fighting each other. They spent so much time, money, and energy fighting each other than the Japanese had no trouble at all walking into China. Even after they nominally buried the hatchet in 1936 they continued to spend more time fighting each other than the Japanese. Only Japan's defeat by the US and Britain freed China -- and the Communists and Nationalists immediately went at each other's throats again. Meanwhile, the people of China, whom both parties claimed to represent, suffered for their stubborn stupidity.

We who are anywhere to the left of Richard Perle all agree that Bush needs to go. No one wants to see His Imperial Highness in the White House one day past Jan 19th, 2005. Sooner would be better, but that's bloody unlikely. Can I get an amen here?

We also all agree that anyone in the current field of candidates would be an improvement over H.I.H. George I, right? Even Joe Lieberman (who has damned little chance of making it out of the primaries) would be an improvement because at least he believes in respecting the law of the land and our position in the international community. (well, mostly). Is everyone still with me?

And there's no doubt that if Emperor George gets re-elected it's not out of the realm of possibility that he'll hornswoggle the people enough so that no Green will ever come near Washington DC, much less run for President ever again -- assuming there's an election in 2008, of which I am not convinced.

So if we are going to keep any kind of opposition at all, it's got to have as much backing by as many people as possible, all standing together. That means, unfortunately, that I have to back Ben Nelson, because whatever else I may think of Ben (and he ain't perfect) he's better than Mike "How Does Con Agra Want Me To Vote" Johanns. That means that if Dean, or Edwards, or Clark, or any of the Democrats gets the nod in August, he's our boy. Once they get the nod, we have to pull together to get them elected.

So please, please, please: To my former fellow Nader supporters: We tried our best to make an impression, and in a way we did. Now let's bring our zeal back to a larger group where we can put it to work against a real enemy. To the "mainstream" Democrats who still want to rub our noses in Gore's loss: If it makes you happy to say it's all our fault, fine. I can handle that. Now let's put it behind us. Don't throw away the zeal of the "far" left -- we'll need shock troops in the next 18 months as well as crafty political operatives.

But what if we fail -- if Prince Dubya, by hook or crook, gets re-elected. Do I leave town and head for the hills? If you'd asked me two days ago, I'd have said I'm on my way to Canada on the Wednesday after Dubya's re-election. But now I'm not so sure. After reading the discussions about the "falangist" governments in South America, I got a bit inspired. Writers, artists, teachers, patriots -- real patriots, not flag wavers -- stayed behind in Chile after Pinochet came to power; stayed in Argentina after Peron was re-elected; stayed in Spain during the entire time Franco ruled the country. Ultimately they prevailed. And ultimately I believe if (God / Allah / Buddha / Baha'u'llah / the Wise Bula forbid) should Dubya stay in power and even take extraordinary measures, real patriots who stay here, who write and teach and spread the truth by whatever means we can, who talk, who stand up, and who say "We will not be silenced, we will not be cowed, we do not agree!" -- ultimately those who stay here will prevail and keep this country true to its founding principles.

And then we can get back to arguing "Less filling -- tastes great!"

UPDATE: A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES!

Via Mars or Bust we get these two links which I had to add:

This open letter to the Democratic leadership.

This open letter to Ralph Nader and the Green Party leadership.

THE UNITED STATES AS BANANA REPUBLIC???

There's been a lot of tossing around of terms like "Fascist" and "Communist" over the last few years between left and right. "Fascist" gets thrown around even more at the Bush regime. Now along comes James R. MacLean, a grad student in economics, and puts forward the idea that the Bush et al. are not so much "Fascists" as "Falangists."

What the hell is Falangism? Here's what I consider his key quote: "Falangism, in essence, is class warfare by a state which is assuredly devoted to a particular elite and which remains subordinated to that elite."

Sound familiar?

MacLean gives us a primer on the history of Falangism here at The Watch. Of note in James's nutshell history is that this particular form of government evolves in places like Spain under Franco, and in South American dictatorships when their "democracies" collapse.

After reading MacLean's post and having corresponded with him a bit, I don't think that H.I.H George I woke up one morning and said, "Hey, I think I'll be a falangist today!" But I think that MacLean has done a good job of correctly identifying the form that Bush's would-be empire is taking. Having been accurately identified, perhaps we can look to history -- and in a place we might not have looked before -- to see what was done in the past to correct the mistakes of the past.

So I'll be reading up on Allende, Pinochet, Franco, and Peron. If anyone can suggest good reading material, please feel free to do so in the comments sections.

One thing bothers me, though: Laura Bush as Evita Peron?

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

MOVE OVER, STEPHEN KING

I just read the most horrifying tale I've read in ten or fifteen years. It was more apocalyptic than Left Behind, more threatening than The Stand, more hair-raising than anything. I couldn't get to sleep last night because of the pure, unadulterated fear it put in me.

It was The American Prospect's The Most Dangerous President Ever. Some samples:
[B]y strategy, inclination and conviction, George W. Bush has been pursuing a reckless, even ridiculous, but always right-wing agenda -- shredding a global-security structure at a time requiring unprecedented international integration, shredding a domestic safety net at a time when the private sector provides radically less security than it did a generation ago. No American president has ever played quite so fast and loose with the well-being of the American people.

In foreign policy, the Bush administration seems above all a coalition of religious and secular millenarians. For many fundamentalists involved in Republican politics, the United Nations and other instruments of "world government" are literally satanic. For the almost entirely secular neoconservatives who provide most of the intellectual direction for this administration, the United Nations, the European Union, the International Criminal Court and kindred institutions are all obstacles to the emergence of unchallenged American hegemony. The neos don't view the coming American empire as God's kingdom, of course; they see it -- better yet -- as their own.
. . .
As with his foreign policy, no level of factual refutation seems to make a dent in Bush's economic policies. His programs not only shift the burden of Americans' economic security to an increasingly deregulated private economy, they do so at a time when the deregulated private economy is singularly unable to provide economic security. Given how the market has performed over the past two years, you might think that that would slow the course of the administration's economic agenda. But, as with foreign policy, that would understate the role of blind faith within George W. Bush's White House.

Behind Bush's economic policies lurk a novel political strategy and a malignant ideological viewpoint. Politically, the administration is counting on its proposed elimination of the dividend tax to win the support of what it says is the fast-growing and newly decisive shareholder electorate. Here again wish outruns reality: As Jeff Faux has noted in these pages [see "Who Gets to Retire?", TAP, June 17, 2002], fewer than half of the private-sector employees in the United States have any kind of pension or savings plan on the job. Only the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans have major investments in their 401(k)s, and it was only they who truly flourished in the boom of the 1990s. That leaves roughly 40 percent of Americans for whom stock values matter, but probably not nearly so much as wages, and 50 percent for whom stock values have no direct effect whatsoever.
. . .
That government which governs in secret is inherently dangerous. Contracts go to cronies, regulations get lifted, troops get deployed, all with no public scrutiny. Halliburton is currently putting out fires in Iraqi oil wells, on a contract that didn't go out for bid.

Which brings us to Dick Cheney, the most influential figure in the administration after Bush and the most influential vice president in U.S. history. By a number of accounts, it was Cheney who convinced Bush, early last July, that we had to go to war with Iraq. But Cheney's most distinctive contribution to this administration is his penchant for near-absolute executive power. Serving in the House during the Reagan administration -- and as the first leader of the more militant conservative forces that later came to power with House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) -- Cheney argued that the president should be able to back the Contras' war in Nicaragua free from congressional oversight. As Bush Senior's defense secretary, he contended that the president needed no congressional approval to wage the Gulf War. As vice president, Cheney has insisted that the composition of his energy-policy task force be kept secret, and opposed going to the United Nations for a second resolution. In an administration determined to free American power from all constraint and business power from most regulation, Cheney's particular contribution has been to keep power as unchecked -- and often as unseen -- as possible.
. . .
None of these presidents, great or awful, seems quite comparable to Bush the Younger. There is another, however, who comes to mind. He, too, had a relentlessly regional perspective, and a clear sense of estrangement from that part of America that did not support him. He was not much impressed with the claims of wage labor. His values were militaristic. He had dreams of building an empire at gunpoint. And he was willing to tear up the larger political order, which had worked reasonably well for about 60 years, to advance his factional cause. The American president -- though not of the United States -- whom George W. Bush most nearly resembles is the Confederacy's Jefferson Davis.

Yes, I know: Bush is no racist, and certainly no proponent of slavery. He is not grotesque; he is merely disgraceful. But, as with Davis, obtaining Bush's defeat is an urgent matter of national security -- and national honor.
Granted, most of what author Harold Myerson wrote is nothing new, especially to those of us who read blogs regularly. But this was the first time I'd seen it all concentrated in one place, sourced, attributed (mostly), and in one solid punch.

I don't know what scares me more: the absolute lack of control on Bush, or the seeming unwillingness of the Democrats to stand up to him. The supporting articles, not all of which are available on line but which are worth reading, play up the seeming unwillingness of not only the left but the media or anybody to stand up and say "Hey, this is wrong" about anything Bush is doing.

Also read All The President's Lies. The author lists, categorically, the number of pure, unadulterated lies that Bush has told about his policies, his past, and his current actions. As the author says, "If a Democrat, say, Bill Clinton, engaged in Bush-scale dishonesty, the press would be all over him."

Remember that the Prospect is not a rabid left wing organ. It's one of the more reasonable publications. For the publication to compare Bush to Jeff Davis is heavy stuff. And not to be ignored. It's not a call for us to don our fatigues, grab our AR-15s and head for the hills. Instead, it's a call for us to find common ground, put aside our differences, and get the bastard out of office before it's too late.

Last night I had an argument with my wife about whether I'm paranoid by wanting to be prepared to leave the country if Bush is re-elected. A year ago, I wouldn't have said that the country would go bonzo about invading Iraq. She has more faith in the people than I do. In the meantime, let's find strong anti-Bush candidates who will stand up for what is truly right, and support them. Last election I voted for Nader. I would not do so this time. I hope my brethren and sisteren on the left will do the same.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

DEMOCRACY AND FREE EXPRESSION, RICHARD NIXON STYLE

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming
We're finally on our own,
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio. . .

-Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, "Ohio"

This, dear Iraqis, is what democracy is all about now. You are free to accept the government the US gives you but not free to disagree with it.
MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) - At least 10 people were killed and scores wounded in shooting in Mosul, a hospital doctor said, as other witnesses alleged US troops had opened fire.

"There are perhaps 100 wounded and 10 to 12 dead" following the shooting near the local government offices in a central square, Dr Ayad al-Ramadhani said Tuesday at the emergency department of the city hospital.

Three witnesses questioned by AFP and casualties who spoke to hospital staff said US troops had fired on the crowd which was becoming increasingly hostile towards the city's new governor, Mashaan al-Juburi, as he was making a pro-US speech.
We have come to your country to free you from the tyrant who shot you when you disagreed with him, who suppressed dissent, who made you afraid to speak your minds.

Welcome us, dear Iraqis. We are here to free you from the yoke of dictatorship and bestow on you the blessings of freedom.

UPDATE: IF A DEMONSTRATION HAPPENS WITHOUT THE MEDIA, IS ANYONE REALLY UNHAPPY?

Via The Agonist we learn that the final paragraph in the above story has much more to it:
US forces today tried to hamper the media from covering a third day of anti-American protests by Iraqis outside a hotel housing a US operations base here, an AFP correspondent said.

Some 200-300 Iraqis gathered outside the Palestine Hotel to express their rage at what they said was the US failure to restore order after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime last Wednesday.

For the first time, visibly angered US military officials sought to distance the media from the protest, moving reporters and cameras about 30 metres from the barbed-wired entrance to the hotel.

"We want you to pull back to the back of the hotel because they (the Iraqis) are only performing because the media are here,"said a marine colonel who wore the name tag Zarcone but would not give his first name or title.
Well, we certainly don't want any dissenters showing up when anyone can see them. Then folks would think someone is unhappy. And everyone is happy that the Americans are in Iraq.

So "freedom of speech," dear Iraqis, means you can say anything you like. But it doesn't mean anyone has to listen to you. It means we can't prevent you from saying what you like (but see above). But we can prevent anyone from hearing you.

You'll come to love this democracy thing. Really.
ODERINT DUM METUANT

I've said it before: let them hate, so long as they fear. It was a favorite quote of that charming champion of liberty and freedom, Caligula. That seems to be the current philosophy of the Imperium. So we engender the hatred of practically every other nation in the world. No problem, as long as they don't fuck with us.

Here's one way to be sure we keep their hatred. Via Digby's Hullabaloo comes this fascinating article about DynCorp, the corporation that likely will get the job keeping the peace in our newest colony of Iraq and some of their previous activities in other countries:
employees and supervisors from DynCorp [who likely will get the contract] were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, forged passports and [participating in] other immoral acts. [An employee] witnessed coworkers and supervisors literally buying and selling women for their own personal enjoyment, and employees would brag about the various ages and talents of the individual slaves they had purchased.
This, boys and girls, is privatization at its best.

Monday, April 14, 2003

PARTANT POUR LA SYRIE, PARTE DEUX

Any of us who have had children know what teaches children best: experience, and usually painful experience. Telling the kid not to touch the hot burner only excites curiousity: only when there’s a painful burn on the finger does he learn that you weren’t kidding, and what the word “HOT!” means. Of course, your heart breaks for the sobbing child as you apply the burn cream and the band-aids, and of course you want to watch closely to make sure he doesn’t get burned too badly when he grabs the stove. But the lesson is learned and either he won’t grab the stove again, or he’ll learn how to deal with a stove safely.

It gets more complicated when you say “HOT!” and it is only warm. He says, “Aw, Mom, it’s not hot, I can grab it.” And he keeps grabbing it, with either no pain or minimal discomfort. Until one day he grabs the burner element itself and now you do have third degree burns to deal with, a screaming child, and accusations of child abuse. Now you get the blame for not telling him how to handle the stove, and the kid blames the stove for his pain. Like as not, he probably will kick the stove every time he walks past it – resulting in more pain.

It’s almost too bad that Rumsfeld didn’t burn his hands on Iraq the first time. We conquered Iraq as he predicted, with relatively low loss of life (US or Iraqi, believe it or not) and relatively little destruction (compared to the “shock and awe” campaign that was expected). In other words, no fingers were burned. Now, Rummy wants to grab on a little harder to the stove. He wants to go into Syria (see the numerous articles listed below). How bad will he burn his hands there? Hard to tell. Under Hafez Assad, I’d have said he’d have gotten them burned pretty badly. Under his son, I have no clue. You can bet he’ll find the stove at least as warm as he found it in Iraq; maybe hotter. But unless he gets his fingers burned, he’s going to keep grabbing the stove.

Are we wrong to keep telling him the stove is hot? I don’t think so. I do know this: a hundred GIs dead in Iraq; several thousand Iraqis dead; are getting us talked about. Americans were happy to go to Iraq. They may not be so happy to go on to Syria: that wasn’t part of the deal. Moreover, it wasn’t part of the Congressional resolution authorizing the Emperor – er, President – to act in Iraq. I question whether Congress would authorize action in Syria, no matter how foolish they are.

But the Emperor and his Court still need to have their hands burned. What bothers me is that their "hands" that will be burned horribly are our GIs who go without question – who do more than the Emperor himself did.

At least Gaius Julius Caesar took the field himself.

By the way, does anyone remember who said ""Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the First, his Cromwell; and George the Third . . .George the Third may profit by their example?" Or what the circumstances were?
QUOTE OF THE DAY

Courtesy of Doonesbury.com:
"Freedom's untidy. Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things."
-- Donald Rumsfeld, on looting in Baghdad
Certainly. That's one of the benefits of freedom that we enjoy in the center of the Imperium Americanum today.
PARTANT POUR LA SYRIE

Two years ago the biggest threats to world peace were Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, the so-called Axis of Evil. That's what Emperor George I said in his State of the Union address in 2002.

Four months ago, the greatest threat was Iraq. That's what the Emperor told us at the 2003 State of the Union address. Iran and North Korea are only minor irritants. No one else is on the Enemies List. Thus spake His Imperial Majesty.

We went into Iraq and toppled the lunatic who ran that country. He's either in Russia or at the bottom of a pile of rubble; either way, he's no longer a player. We don't know who's running Iraq right now but I'm sure that His Imperial Majesty will install His viceroy soon enough, and calm will reign again, almost certainly at the point of a gun -- but calm will reign, and it will be our calm.

But lo! On the horizon has appeared a new threat, one that we knew not of! His Imperial Majesty's Minister of Information tells us that Syria has joined the League of Rogue Nations (courtesy of Reuters and Yahoo). Why do we only learn this now, instead of four months ago?
Asked why the Bush administration was raising the weapons of mass destruction charge on Syria now, when it had not over the last six months, Fleischer said: "It's a relevant fact."
All previous statements on Syria are now inoperative. But before we go attacking Syria we might want to consider whether they are likely to fold as quickly as Iraq did.

Naaaw. I was wrong about Iraq. I'll be wrong about Syria. Go ahead, Your Imperial Majesty. Make like St. Paul. Go to Damascus. Maybe you, too, will have your eyes opened.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

MORALLY BANKRUPT LEADERSHIP

Steve Gilliard at the Daily Kos is quickly gaining my respect as a writer who cuts through the bullshit. Allow me to reproduce, in full, a column he wrote this weekend (with permission from and thanks to Daily Kos):
Morally bankrupt leadership

As I listen to yet another excuse from Donald Rumsfeld, I realize that Bush and his advisors will go to any length, bear any burden to avoid responsibility for their actions.

What astounds me, as Iraqis die in looted hospitals, a tragedy we created, is the way Rumsfeld and the PNAC cabal ran to embrace victory even as the mobs were looting the streets of most Iraqi cities. They sought to portray a crowd of 100 as a massive outpouring of liberation as a US tank pulled down a statue of Saddam. More people are gathered around a fountain in Washington Square Park on a warm spring day when class is in session at NYU.

The way the Bushies have tried to play off the chaos resulting from their actions is astounding. Not surprising, but astounding all the same. Because it is undermining their moral standing, not only in the wider world, but in Iraq. They are losing the middle class, what there is of it, as field commanders embrace militia leaders and expect people to work for free.

It is a morally bankrupt leadership which plunges another nation into chaos with no plan for its reconstitution. Bush and his aides were all about the fun part, the war planning, but as CSIS analyst and ABC consultant Anthony Cordesman said in December, 2002, the peace starts at the same time the war does. You have to plan for the peace or we will fail.

Victory in this, the most political of wars, is not about the surrender of an army. It is about establishing a just political order. Maybe they can accomplish it. But the chances look grimmer by the day.

While Bush was eagerly using wounded GI's as a photo op yesterday, Rumsfeld was whining about the media. The same media which misled people into thinking a statue was being pulled down by a mob when it was by a crowd of around 100 is now showing scenes of disorder not seen on most TV's since the collapse of the Mobutu government in what was then Zaire.

What also amazes me is that people think the anti-war movement was trying to defend Saddam or didn't want the Iraqi people to be free. I think Tom Friedman summed it up: was Iraq like Switzerland or Yugoslavia. Well, it's turning out to be like the Congo, but he asked the right question: what was under Saddam's rule? The anti-war movement, from my perspective saw two things: one, the immense human suffering war would bring, and two: the consequences of the war.

That was the problem. Not the actual war or Saddam, who could be disposed of easily enough, since he was hated by everyone. But what lay under his rule, why he ruled the way he did. Not three days after he's gone, civil war lies frighteningly close to the surface as Shia form militias and rob the Sunni rich and Arabs and Kurds square off in Mosul. They even looted the museums.

As we seek to restore power, we will rehire the police which enforced Saddam's law. As we have armed militias around. If you were a Shia from Saddam City, would you let a Sunni cop push you around when you have a couple of AK's, a few cases of hand grenades and a spare RPG around. The first time you get into a beef, an RPG round is going into the door of the police station.

The pandora's box of war seems to have opened and what we have under it is frightening.

More importantly, even if we restore basic order, clearly, the guns and militias may be with us for a while. Once a man tastes the power of a gun, putting it down isn't easy. Hundreds of thousands Iraqi teenagers are learning a simple lesson: a gun equals power.

Our leadership could have forseen that and then done things to prevent it. Instead, we mess around with Ahmed "Kerensky" Chalebi as other actors, some with various interests, plot to make things far more difficulf for us.

Instead of admitting our rush to Baghdad created these conditions, Rumsfeld, between threats against Syria, denies what any sighted person can see on their TV. It is a morally bankrupt argument.

I hope they can make it work, and quickly. But if not...the consequences of the war could make Saddam's rule look like a golden era.

Steve Gilliard
I can't add anything to that, except one point: If the consequence of our action in Iraq is to leave the Iraqi people nostalgic for Saddam Hussein, this whole thing will have been a collosal disaster, no matter how many statues we topple.
SHARING CROWS

There is currently no shortage of conservative columnists and bloggers demanding that we liberal or progressive bloggers and pundits who opposed the War to Liberate Iraq (and, I suppose, its museums, its artifacts, its private property, etc.) now begin eating crow. A good example is this column by Kathleen Parker castigating Maureen Dowd for writing "Yes, we won the war, but. . . "

Well, Dowd is right, if you think about it. As I write this, the Marines are still fighting in Tikrit and Tommy Franks and Rumsfeld both say the fighting isn't over. They're still looting in Baghdad. There's no evidence of any kind of authority in Iraq except at the barrel of a gun.

But okay, I'll eat crow and say that "we won the war" by the standards that we threw Saddam Hussein out of Iraq, whether it was in a Russian diplomatic car or in a dump truck full of rubble. And there was not a steady stream of body bags coming back from the desert.

But only if the conservatives will share my crow with me on the following:

- The economy was infinitely better under Bill Clinton than George Bush.

- Unemployment has risen dramatically under Bush and Bush's efforts to correct it have failed miserably.

- Bill Clinton's brief bombing campaign in Kosovo had the same effect on Milosevic as the war in Iraq had on Saddam, with fewer losses of American lives, less destruction of Kosovar and Serbian property, and much less anarchy, looting, and loss of American prestige in the world and polarization of opinion at home.

So let's serve up the crow. Fair enough? Or we can wait another six months and see if the GIs are still in Iraq, if the looting is still going on, if we're still fighing an enemy we "defeated" in April, or if we're in Syria, Iran, or Korea. Crow may taste better aged.