The Failed Columnist

A personal take on current events - political, social, cultural, educational, scientific, and other subjects.

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All you need to know about me is that I have never called anyone a Macaca and I have never denied my heritage!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Bush and the Price of Dishonesty

Is POTUS surprised that the American people no longer support his war in Iraq by overwhelming numbers? He should not be. The only person responsible for the public ‘cutting and running’ from ‘staying the course’ in Iraq is none other than George W. Bush himself.

Back in early 2003 when it seemed all but certain that the US was going to invade Iraq, I was arguing with one of my neoconservative friends about the impending war. He initially recited the administration’s often repeated lines that America had to go in there to remove weapons of mass destruction. However, when I debated with him that I really did not see the threat and that if that were really the case we ought to invade North Korea first, he finally conceded that in reality, invading Iraq was just a way to remake the Middle East into a peaceful democracy. I remember him saying distinctly that if Bush were to tell the American public this they would not support him. True or may be not.

You never know with the American people, may be we would have been willing to try such an experiment of bringing democracy to that region. But the point is that if the president had talked to the public as adults and told us the true reasons why we were going in and had been honest about the sacrifice that would be required, Americans would have made the hard choice on whether to support such an effort or not. Chances are that most Americans would not have supported it, but if they did they would still have been supporting the president through all the hard times in Iraq.

Instead, the president and the administration were never honest with the American people. First, we were going into Iraq to secure rogue weapons of mass destruction, those never showed up. Second, we were going to need only a few troops to get the job done, when General Shinsheki suggested we might need more; he was properly canned and showed the door. Third, we were told the war would cost less than $50 billion dollars mostly paid for by Iraqi oil. To date the war has cost more than $300 billion dollars all American taxpayer money and recent reports estimate that by the time this war is over, it would have cost us anywhere from $1 trillion to $2 trillion dollars. Finally, American troops were supposed to have been greeted with flowers and candy according to Cheney, instead they are greeted daily with IEDs and to date more than 2,500 US soldiers have been killed since Bush declared ‘Mission Accomplished.’

Now, that is not to say that the Neocon dream was impossible. It was a noble, difficult if not unrealistic dream, but not necessarily impossible. Although the means may not have been justified, the end would have been. If that had happened, History would have forgiven Bush for starting a war that was not justified if he had remade the Middle East into the Neocon dream. So with that in mind, you would have thought that after the public supported the initial war effort, this administration would have taken every step possible to execute this war competently. But no, Rumsfeld stood by and literally said, “Shit Happens” as Iraqis looted the government infrastructures in Baghdad after Saddam’s fall. One of the first acts of the Coalition Authority was to disband the entire Army, where were they going to get the replacements? The Coalition Authority we now learn was doomed from the beginning. Instead of hiring competent and experienced public servants, as we learn in the Book Emerald City, all you had to do was claim George W. Bush as your personal Christ and Savior and you were on your way to Iraq. So many books have been written on the war already and it is not even over. Yet, the theme remains the same, at every stage where a competent administration would have executed the war in a different manner, this administration failed woefully.

It has been evident for months now that the so called ‘stay the course’ strategy in Iraq wasn’t working but Bush ignored the public’s outcry and let more soldiers die unnecessary deaths in Iraq instead of admitting that the course was not working. Now with two weeks to election, Bush finally has a change of heart – he is willing to change tactics but not strategy (whatever that means). But it’s too little too late. The American people are mad – mad that the people in Washington were not honest with them and this November their voices will be heard clearly at the polls.



Upcoming Blog:

Mondaday, October 30 – Congratulations Senator Macaca! The Price We All Pay for Extreme Partisanship.

On Wednesday, November 8, the rest of the nation is going to wake up and wonder why Senator George Allen could be re elected to office after all the Macacas, Niggers, Pork Chops and Tax Filings. But we here in Virginia are not going to be surprised. All across America, the phenomena will be repeated. Republicans will win elections not because they have demonstrated competence, but because some Americans will rather vote for an incompetent, corrupt, out of touch Republican than vote for a Democrat who is competent, qualified and ready to change Washington.



Related Articles:

War Now Works Against GOP. Peter Slevin and Michael Powell, Washington Post. October 26, 2006 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/25/AR2006102502000.html)

Why Bush Thinks We’re Wining. Dan Froomkin, Washington Post. October 26, 2006. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2006/10/26/BL2006102600725.html)

Staying The Course Right Over A Cliff. George Lakoff, New York Times. October 27, 2006. (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/27/opinion/27lakoff.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)

The Arithmetic of Failure. Paul Krugman, New York Times. October 27, 2006. (http://select.nytimes.com/2006/10/27/opinion/27krugman.html)

Iraq and Your Wallet. Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times. October 24, 2006. (http://select.nytimes.com/2006/10/24/opinion/24kristof.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists)

Trying to Contain the Iraq Disaster. Editorial, New York Times. October 24, 2006. (http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/10/24/opinion/24tues1.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fEditorials)

A Shelf Full of Books Chronicle Iraq Policy, Strategy. NPR Morning Edition. October 24, 2006. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6371029)

All the President’s Enablers. Washington Monthly. March 2006
(http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0603.enablers.html)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fool Us Once..Ok, Fool Us Twice..

In the lead up to the 2002 midterm elections, the Bush administration came up with a brilliant political strategy – force a vote on the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq just before elections. It was great politics, most Democrats voted for it afraid to be seen as weak on national security with the September 11 attacks just barely a year old in the American psyche. That didn’t help Democrats much, Republicans still succeeded in portraying them as weak on security and they suffered a defeat that Fall. Fast forward to 2004 and the same strategy was again in play, with the nation at war, the Republicans again convinced America that to change course would be disastrous, so Americans stayed the course and reelected Republicans again to all branches of government.

Two years later, another election looms, so what is the administration and Republicans to do? Well if you guessed pulling their playbook from 2002 and 2004, you guessed right! It is once again time to call Democrats weak on national security and to remind Americans that we are at war for an indefinite period of time against an enemy we cannot see or totally get rid of, so you need to once again stay the course. But will the strategy work again or is it getting too old? After Hurricane Katrina, Harriet Miers, Terri Schiavo, the Social Security debacle, Dubai Ports debacle, Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay corruption scandals, gas prices that may rise again after the election, the continued carnage in Iraq, declining US image and power abroad, and recently the Mark Foley scandal, it seems the American people are finally ready to say it is time for change, staying the course hasn’t worked so well.

I read some articles recently that illuminates what is to come. The first was Minimum Wage, Minimum Gall by Harold Meyerson and the second one ‘Republicans Losing the Security Moms by Jim VandeHei. Meyerson’s article finally said on paper what many Americans have come to fear about the Republican party - that is, Republican politics is about 1) What is good for the Republican Party and its donors, and 2) How can we stick it to the Democrats? Notably absent is the most important question that any politician should always ask, what is good for America as a whole? VandeHei’s article is probably the worst nightmare for the Republicans, it asserts that the so called security Moms who voted for Bush over Kerry in 2004 now have voter remorse and plan to vote Democratic. If you can’t win over security moms with your message of fear, who else can you turn to?

Be Afraid, be very afraid! This time around, it just doesn’t ring the same The American people aren’t that scared of terrorism anymore, may be we have come to accept it as a normal fact of life, or as Frank Rich succinctly put it, ‘the era of Americans fearing fear itself is over.’ We are more worried about our jobs staying in America, gas prices going up after elections, affordable healthcare and education, etc. So, Republicans may have been able to fool the public in 2002 and 2004, but to paraphrase President Bush, ‘You can fool the American people once..may be twice.. but after that you can’t get fooled again!’ The American people have come to the conclusion that when the choice comes down to choosing between a party that has proven how incompetent it is at home and abroad versus a party that looks good on paper but can’t seem to articulate its vision, they will rather give the benefit of doubt to the party that has been out of power. After all, it is just impossible for many Americans to imagine that anyone can be as incompetent as the Republicans have been.

And so it is that 2006 might be the waterloo for the brilliant or ruthless Karl Rove (depending on which side of the political spectrum you stand). In the past elections, the Republicans won by demonizing their opponents and playing to the nation’s fear in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. What is surprising time around is that almost all of the Republican woes have been self-inflicted with Democrats virtually standing by and watching in disbelief and glee. After the elections, if Republicans lose, most of them will blame the Mark Foley scandal, but the Foley scandal was just the nail in the coffin.

It could have been a different story. After 2004, President Bush never had to run another campaign in his life, so he could have governed from the middle, brought a divided nation together, and perhaps start building that ‘permanent majority’ Rove so craved, but he went after Social Security. FEMA could have been an effective response agency, but it was infected with incompetency a virus that afflicts this administration at every level. The State of Florida decided on Terri Schiavo’s fate, but Republicans decided State’s rights did not matter in this case. Republicans could have fought corruption, but instead they chose to take golf trips with Jack Abramoff. They could have reduced government spending, but instead the squandered the taxpayers’ money on bridges to nowhere and handed out Billions of dollars to their rich donor friends. They could have fixed Medicare, rather they used it as an opportunity to reward the drug companies. They could have focused on important issues such as healthcare, the economy and education, but instead they took up flag burning and gay marriage

Today with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear to most Americans that instead of going into Iraq, we could have fought a more effective war against terrorism someplace else. May be it is true that Iraq was an imminent threat to the American people, but most Americans never saw the threat and the administration never tried to convince other nations of our case. Today we are stuck with a laughable ‘coalition of the willing’ in Iraq but it is our brave men and women who are paying the ultimate price for the mistakes politicians made back in the comfort of their smug Washington office. For the taxpayer, it is a shock that a war that was supposed to pay for itself is costing us more than $1 Billion dollars a week. To date, we have spent close to $400 Billion already in Iraq - all money that future generations will have to eventually cough up somehow. Republicans controlled every branch of government but failed to do anything for the American people. No political party in contemporary American history has squandered such rare opportunity.

There are some who say that nothing good has come about from this administration and the GOP led congress, I respectfully disagree. If anything, they showed us exactly what things not to do when in power. Democrats would do well to remember the lessons of the Republican follies when they win this November!

Monday, October 16, 2006

If Terrorists Could Vote..Who Would They Vote For?

As another election approaches, the only thing Mr. Dick “Grim Reaper” Cheney or Mr. Bush have not yet implicitly stated is that if terrorists could vote in America, there would vote for Democrats. But wait a minute, why would any terrorist want the Democrats to take over Washington?

The so-called war against terrorism was never going to be easy. How do you go about fighting an ideology perpetrated by people who live in the shadows? Fighting Islamic fundamentalism would have required a multi-prong approach – military, diplomatic, cultural and intellectual - The same way we fought and prevailed against communism. But that would have been too long and too complex for our black and white president. So Bush chose to fight terrorism only one way – via conventional warfare.

Afghanistan was an exceptionally easy war. The fundamentalist Taliban had taken over the government of a failed state and harbored the attackers of the New York towers. The war made sense and the Taliban were easy visible targets. More than a majority of Americans supported the war. Internationally, support for America was strong even in Muslim countries. After Afghanistan, the Bush administration could have sat down and crafted a long-term approach to fighting terrorism, but rather they chose another easy target – Iraq. Leading up to the war, Mr. Cheney famously proclaimed that we would be greeted with flowers, and Mr. Bush spoke of a Middle East blossoming with Democracy that would finally bring peace to the region. In terms of cost, we were told that Iraqi oil money was going to pay for the adventure. So we went into Iraq with a laughable ‘coalition of the willing.’

Three years later, Iraq is in shambles, about 3,000 civilians are killed each month in so called sectarian violence, almost 3,000 US troops have lost their lives and the American taxpayers have footed the war expense to a tune fast approaching $400 Billion dollars. Yet in the rubble of Iraq, a marriage of convenience has been born between the terrorists and Mr. Bush’s party. Let’s be honest, while Democrats cannot in reality pull out every American soldier in Iraq today if they win, their long term plan is to get out as soon as feasibly possible. The Bush and Republican plan is to stay the course until “victory” is achieved or Bush leaves office. Now, Iraq has been a boon to business for the terrorist network. The war fits into the terrorists’ narrative – that America is an empire that wants to take over the Middle East and impose its values and culture on Islam. Therefore in Iraq, there has not been a scarcity of people ready to blow themselves up to defend Islam.


Bush also now realizes that he has enjoyed a good relationship with terrorists all along. On September 10, 2001, Bush’s poll numbers were dismal and the administration seemed to have no direction on where to lead the nation. But the attacks changed all that; it gave the administration something to campaign on. Terrorism gave Republicans their wins in 2002 and 2004. As 2006 approaches, the truth is that Bush now needs the terrorists just as much as the terrorists need Bush.
There was a time not long ago when mentioning the name Osama Bin Laden was considered taboo. It would remind Americans of the administration’s failure to go after the real terrorists. Today, however, Bush is only to happy to quote Bin Laden every chance he gets. After proclaiming that he wanted him dead or alive, he has realized suddenly that he actually needs him alive and not captured. We need the American people to be afraid as we head to the polls. The terrorists themselves are not stupid either, in October 2004 we saw a flurry of terrorist videos surface that may have helped Bush win. This year there have already been some such videos.

It has been a strange marriage of convenience for both sides, but the honeymoon may be nearing its end. Americans seem ready to throw Republicans out of office. That means finally we can start having a real debate on the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism. Now, that can’t be good news for neither the Republicans nor the terrorists. For the terrorists seeking to recruit more suicide bombers, it might mean a slow down in business. For Bush and the Republicans, if terrorism is off the table, it means that they would actually have to talk about other issues such as education, healthcare and the economy. And so ironically, with less than a month to election day, with sagging polls and an angry electorate, Republicans are going to hit the campaign trail with one last ‘hail Mary’ claiming how they and only they can fight terrorism, what they are not going to tell you is that if those same terrorists could vote in November, they would overwhelmingly vote Republican!



Related Articles:

President Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html

Cheney Back Delivering the Grim Campaign Speech. Peter Baker, Washington Post, October 9. 2006. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/07/AR2006100700892.html)

President Bush Press Conference. October 11, 2006 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/10/20061011-5.html)



Upcoming Columns:

Friday, October 20 – Fool Us Once…OK, Fool Us Twice

Two years later, another election looms, so what is the administration and Republicans to do? Well if you guessed pulling their playbook from 2002 and 2004, you guessed right! It is once again time to call Democrats weak on national security and to remind Americans that we are at war for an indefinite period of time against an enemy we cannot see or totally get rid of, so you need to once again stay the course. But will the strategy work again or is it getting too old?

Monday, October 23 – Congratulations Senator Macaca! The Price We All Pay for Extreme Partisanship.

On Wednesday, November 8, the rest of the nation is going to wake up and wonder why Senator George Allen could be re elected to office after all the Macacas, Niggers, Pork Chops and Tax Filings. But we here in Virginia are not going to be surprised. All across America, the phenomena will be repeated. Republicans will win elections not because they have demonstrated competence, but because some Americans will rather vote for an incompetent, corrupt, out of touch Republican than vote for a Democrat who is competent, qualified and ready to change Wash

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Bush Doctrine and the 'Axis of Evil.'

When Bush stood and made the ‘axis of evil speech’ in the 2002 SOTU speech, he received cheers for it and the speechwriters were clamoring to take credit for coining the phrase. No one can measure exactly how much of a threat Iraq, Iran and North Korea were then, but no one can argue that those countries at least in the cases of North Korea and Iran have not risen up to make the self fulfilling prophecy true.

The Bush doctrine, like anything else this administration dreams up in Dick Cheney’s mad scientist laboratory, was flawed from the beginning and it was executed in the worst way possible. So you want to deter nations from threatening America, what do you do? Oh, yes, let’s go after the weakest country that may or may not have weapons of mass destruction. What would any of us have done if we were the leaders of North Korea or Iran?

Since the United States has never attacked a country with nuclear power, the message the Bush invasion of Iraq was sending to the rest of the world was, ‘if you don’t want the US to ever attack you, better ratchet up work on that nuclear bomb!’ To make matters worse for the US, the Iraq war went awfully wrong. In fact, that is a gross understatement; the Iraqi invasion has been a total disaster for not only US foreign policy but to our credibility as the world’s remaining superpower. Sure, there may be ‘rogue nations’ out there, but there are not stupid. Everyone watches TV, they see our troops bogged down in the Iraqi war, they see our options are few, and they are taking advantage of it. From Sudan’s arrogant refusal to let UN peacekeeping forces in to Iran’s flaunting of the UN resolution to North Korea’s nuclear test, the axis of evil see the mighty power bleeding and they are taking all the advantages they can.

One might ask, if all these came about because we called them the axis of evil, would they now act differently if we changed it and called them axis of good instead? It is probably too late. Our competent administration has refused to hold direct talks with either Iran or North Korea and as you can see it is working great so far! Critics of President Bush like to bring up the accusation that he is dumb, but this is not about being brainy. I am sure we have had C students who did quite well as presidents. The problem with Bush is that he lacks the curiosity necessary to be a good leader and he lacks the ability to learn from mistakes (Case in point: Rumsfeld is still in charge and we ll continue to ‘stay the course’ in Iraq). A more competent administration would have understood that the world is not black and white, diplomacy is complex but works when you dedicate the necessary time and resources. This administration has always taken the easy way out. In Iraq it was easier to invade than to pressure the Saddam regime to allow back UN inspectors. With Iran and North Korea, it has been easy not to hold direct talks instead of doing so and we are paying the price.

So, if it is true that North Korea has finally acquired the Nuclear bomb, it is only a matter of time before Iran says it has one too. Finally, it is clear for the world to see that the Bush doctrine has failed woefully and made the world a much dangerous place than before. But wait, I am mistaken, why should Bush be blamed for this? He has only been in office for six years. If my recollection serves me well, according to apologists of this administration, everything should always be blamed on the Clinton administration, so there you have it, once again its Bill Clinton’s fault!


Related Articles:

President Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html

Bush’s Blunder in North Korea
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/

U.N Considers Response to North Korea
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/09/world/asia/09cnd-nuke.html?hp&ex=1160452800&en=e294c996e3f77f14&ei=5094&partner=homepage



Upcoming Columns:

Monday, October 16 – What if Terrorists Could Vote..Who Would They Vote For?

As the 2006 election approaches, the truth is that Bush now needs the terrorists just as much as the terrorists need Bush. If Bush and the Republicans are out of office, a new administration and the Democrats may look for a more rational way of fighting terrorism beginning with leaving Iraq…

Friday, October 20 – Fool Us Once..OK, Fool Us Twice

Two years later, another election looms, so what is the administration and Republicans to do? Well if you guessed pulling their playbook from 2002 and 2004, you guessed right! It is once again time to call Democrats weak on national security and to remind Americans that we are at war for an indefinite period of time against an enemy we cannot see or totally get rid of, so you need to once again stay the course. But will the strategy work again or is it getting too old?

Monday, October 23 – Congratulations Senator Macaca! The Price We All Pay for Extreme Partisanship.

On Wednesday, November 8, the rest of the nation is going to wake up and wonder why Senator George Allen could be re elected to office after all the Macacas, Niggers, Pork Chops and Tax Filings. But we here in Virginia are not going to be surprised. All across America, the phenomena will be repeated. Republicans will win elections not because they have demonstrated competence, but because some Americans will rather vote for an incompetent, corrupt, out of touch Republican than vote for a Democrat who is competent, qualified and ready to change Washington…

Hail, The Birth of a New Blogger!!!

Hi everyone in blogosphere! This is exciting! You mean I don’t have to wait weeks and months to see if I can get a column published in one of the major newspapers or not?! Now let me be the first to admit that I doubt that anything I have ever written has been worth publishing, but instead of some editor deciding what millions of readers get to read, now you can decide for yourself if you want to read my blog or not.

What would I be writing about? Everything, from historical to current events, educational, scientific, cultural to of course political and anything else that comes to my head at any particular time!

How often will you post your columns/blogs? I ll probably try to post a column at least once a week (Mondays) depending on how much there is to write about at any given time. On other days, I ll try to do the traditional blogging and just write whatever is on my mind or in the news!

Why do you keep using columns slash blogs? Because in reality, I am just a columnist wanna be. My Monday postings are not going to be your typical diary-entry type blogs but more in the style of a newspaper column.

Who is welcome to post comments on your blog? Everyone! I welcome every one to post comments whether or not they agree with me. However, I do understand that this is the internet and people feel they have to be rude, or impolite to get their points across. If you cannot say what you have to say in a civil and dignified manner, then please find another blog. Thank you.

Again, I am delighted to finally join the blogosphere, blogworld, blogging family, or whatever you call it. I hope you make the time to stop by every now and then to read my columns and blogs, and in turn, I look forward to reading your responses!

Thank you,

Yyadnus.