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Inevitability

The first rule in physics may very well be the first rule in politics as well: an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

Today, we are a country on a clear course.  We are a country at war, with thousands dead, and no exit strategy. We are a country addicted to foreign oil, trapped in habits of pollution, reluctant to imagine our own solutions. We are a country divided over the direction of our own culture, quick to condemn our fellow citizens, unaccustomed to seeking out common ground. We are a country of significant gaps in income, achievement, and opportunity. We are a country of damaged reputation, which has squandered international goodwill, and antagonized new enemies. We are a country that disrespects our fellow man, whether they are stranded on their own rooftops surrounded by floodwaters, or shipped in secret to illegal prisons abroad and held without charge or trial. We are a country adrift from its foundational values, detached from its own political process, concerned instead with comfort and leisure above all else. We are a country that has forsaken the health of its own national character. 

Things being what they are, our judgment as a nation is in question. In the absence of a change of direction, we are likely to continue further in this direction. It is time to assess where we find ourselves, how we have gotten here, and where we want to go. What’s more, it is time to assess what political force is strong enough to effectively alter our currently disastrous course. It is time for America to make a decision.

Right now, there are many forces in motion in American politics, each seeking to influence the trajectory of our national direction. And while these forces range from policies to personalities, we find that three forces present Americans with the most considerable implications and consequences. The first of these forces is George W. Bush, whose leadership and influence remains a fact of life. His relevance, for now, is indisputable. The second is Hillary Clinton, whose candidacy has placed her as the clear frontrunner in the race for her party’s nomination and shrouded her campaign in an aura of inevitability. Given her strong standing, it is necessary to imagine and scrutinize what her leadership stands to mean to our national direction. And the third force in motion is the candidacy of Barack Obama, who has yet to pull significantly ahead in the race, even while his message has resonated with hundreds of thousands of Americans who have donated and attended his rallies in ever-increasing and unrivaled numbers over the past eight months.

With each of these forces, there are things we know, and things we can reasonably presume. We know the mistakes and the abuses of George Bush. It is easy to imagine what his political influence still stands to mean for the occupation of Iraq, the ballooning national debt, and any further sidestepping of congressional oversight and the Constitution. In other words, the self-proclaimed Decider remains perfectly positioned to continue in the direction of abysmal leadership to dire ends. Much remains to be done in the next 16 months of his administration. It is in light of this reality that we must more closely assess the other two political forces at play, for what they each stand to inherit and contribute.

We have come to know a great deal about Hillary Clinton. We know that she is smart. We know she is driven. We know she practices a very personal spirituality, which has grounded her in forgiveness. We know her supporters are convinced of her goodness as a person and promise as a politician. We know she has won over a skeptical New York, who has embraced her and reelected her by a significant margin. We know she is running a smart and effective campaign.

We also know she voted to authorize George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2002. We know she chose not to read the complete National Intelligence Estimate prior to casting her vote. We know Clinton publicly and inaccurately accused Saddam Hussein of giving “aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members.” We know that prior to the war, Clinton also voted against the failed Levin amendment to require that George Bush prioritize diplomacy first by seeking a U.N. resolution to wage war in Iraq, and to return to Congress for approval if his efforts failed. We know she argued to stay the course in Iraq in 2003. We know she argued against the withdrawal of troops in 2005. We know she did not begin to position herself differently on this issue until public sentiment swayed in late 2005 with the criticism of Representative John Murtha. We know that just last week, she voted to recognize the Iranian National Guard as a terror organization, laying the groundwork for military action against Iran and further empowering George Bush to extend the war in the Middle East. We know she has consistently shown poor judgment on the most important issue of our time. We know she has failed to take responsibility for that error. We know that she has not learned the lesson of her mistake in 2002.  

All that said, there is one more thing we know about Hillary Clinton: you love her, or you hate her. Nationally, she polls quite negatively. In every Gallup poll since June 1 of this year, at least 46% of those polled indicated they had an unfavorable impression of Hillary Clinton. That number has remained generally the same across Gallup polling from the last decade. We know how she stirs the Republican base to attack and how, whether provoked or not, she antagonizes “vast, right-wing conspiracies” against her and her husband Bill Clinton. We have every reason to imagine that the partisan divide of the 1990s that prompted Whitewater and propelled personalities like Rush Limbaugh would return in full force with a renewed, galvanized sense of purpose. Joe Biden put it well in last week’s MSNBC debate when he said that “a lot of the old stuff” from Bill Clinton’s presidency would come back with a Hillary Clinton presidency. This includes Bill Clinton, himself. Now is the time to ask questions about how Bill Clinton’s international status and influence as a private citizen via his foundation and Global Initiative might blur the line with official American policy should he serve as America’s first gentleman.

All these points leave us to ask several questions, in fact. Does Hillary Clinton have the judgment to be President? Has her record shown that she understands the issues we face as a nation? Can she unite all Americans under a common vision and calling? Can she counter her unfavorable impression on half of the country’s citizens? Does it make sense that Clinton is the inevitable candidate for her party’s nomination? Can she in fact win the presidency in a general election? Will Clinton advance the health of our national character? Will another Clinton be the answer to another Bush? Can she truly offer America a new direction?

To all of these questions, the answer is assuredly: no. 

This leads us to consider the political force of Barack Obama. One thing we know about Obama is that we are still getting to know him. Since he announced his bid for the presidency last February, Gallup has consistently shown that 8 – 16 % of those polled have never heard of Obama. We also know that as people learn about him, they come to a favorable opinion of him. Since last February, Obama has usually polled at or above 50%. It is perhaps not difficult to hold Obama in a favorable light after learning more about him.

We know Obama moved to the south side of Chicago as a recent college graduate and worked as a community organizer in a neighborhood rife with crime and poverty. We know he decided then and there that the problems of Chicago’s south side were systemic and could only be addressed by rewriting the policies that allowed them to exist at all. We know Obama earned a law degree from Harvard and became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. We know he returned to Chicago to start a civil rights law practice and teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago. We know he was encouraged by others to run for state senate in Illinois, where he served for eight years. We know he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004 on a record of achievement in Illinois.

We know Democrats work with Barack Obama. We know Republicans work with Barack Obama. We know he brought them together in Illinois to create the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which provided $100 million in tax cuts to families over three years. We know he worked with Illinois law enforcement to require the videotaping of confessions after several death row inmates were found to be innocent. We know he worked to expand early childhood education. We know Obama partnered with Democrat Russ Feingold in the Senate to pass an ethics reform bill, aimed at restoring the conduct of both political parties.

We know Obama has already changed the way politics and campaigning is done in America. We know he refuses to accept donations from lobbyists or political actions committees (PACs.) We know he has shattered fundraising efforts at the grassroots level time and again, having most recently earned 501,000 donations from 351,000 contributors over the past three financial quarters. We know he attracted record-breaking crowds across the country: 20,000 in Austin, Texas; 10,000 in Oakland, California; 20,000 in Atlanta, Georgia; 24,000 in New York City. We know he has attracted this support by campaigning on the politics of hope. We know his message awakens Americans.

And perhaps most importantly in this coming election, we know Obama can make hard decisions and make them well. We know Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2002. We know he was courageous enough to state his position publicly and decent enough to stand by his position when it was considered unpopular at best and un-American at worst. We know Obama believes in telling America what it needs to hear when it doesn’t want to hear it.

Right now, the fact is, America needs to hear something difficult. Right now America needs to hear that our reputation abroad is tarnished. Right now the purpose and the relevance of America are both in question among some. The idea of America is in doubt throughout the world as they wonder if America’s moment has passed. They wonder this in the Middle East where we have abandoned the peace process. They wonder this in Darfur where genocide is annihilating life everyday. They wonder this in Kenya where an entire generation of orphans lies in the wake of HIV/AIDS. They even wonder this at home, where the ninth ward of New Orleans remains in ruins and the city of Jena, Louisiana exposes the subtle prejudices that corrupt our legal system more than a generation after the Civil Rights Movement. Where has America gone? Why is America so absent? Where is America’s leadership?

People ask this because America has simply forgotten how to be America. We have forgotten how to be brothers and sisters. We have forgotten to use reason over rhetoric. We have forgotten that rights of man are what bind us together and what legitimizes our way of life – here and around the world.

This is a matter of nothing less than our national character. Who do we believe we are? Who do we chose to be in this world? We must remember and restore our national character in fundamental and bold ways. Thomas Paine said shortly after the birth of America “let but a nation conceive rightly of its character, and it will be chastely just in protecting it. None ever began with a fairer than America, and none can be under a greater obligation to preserve it.” He also said, “A good opinion of ourselves is exceedingly necessary in private life, but absolutely necessary in public life, and of the utmost importance in supporting national character.” America, Paine wrote, has it in her choice to do, and to live, as happily as she pleases. The world, he said, is in her hands.

We need to hear these things. It is vital to our nation’s future. The only candidate speaking to us is Barack Obama. The only candidate being honest with us is Barack Obama. The only candidate offering us a next step is Barack Obama. The only candidate telling us it is time once again to have a leader of the free world is Barack Obama.  He has said, “This election offers us the chance to turn the page and open a new chapter in American leadership. The disappointment that so many around the world feel toward America right now is only a testament to the high expectations they hold for us. We must meet those expectations again, not because being respected is an end in itself, but because the security of America and the wider world demands it. This will require a new spirit – not of bluster and bombast, but of quiet confidence and sober intelligence, a spirit of care and renewed competence. It will also require a new leader. And as a candidate for President of the United States, I am asking you to entrust me with that responsibility.”

Inevitably, America will march forward. Inevitably, America will elect a new leader in 2008. Inevitably, the threats of today will become the conflicts of tomorrow. Inevitably, the errors of the Bush years will become the responsibility of our next President. And inevitably, the direction of our nation will be defined by that same leader. Inevitably, in this election we are making a decision about our national character.

What remains to be determined is what we as Americans will decide to value in that process. Will we support or reject the cycle of Bush and Clinton leadership? Will we seek out new understandings of our own citizenship? Will we engage in the renewal of our country’s purpose and processes? Will we choose to change the course of our nation in ways that are fundamental and bold? Will we acknowledge where we have failed so that we might design a new course that will lead to greater success? Will we admit that the political age we have just lived through is not working and decide to turn the page on that chapter in our history? Will we change the course we are on in America and seek out a new direction? Will we decide that there is a better way? Will we recognize soon enough and clearly enough that such a better way is already galvanizing, already forming, and already becoming its own force in American politics? Will we let that force of hope, reason, and unity transform us and redirect us as a nation? Where will out current course inevitably lead us? And what must we inevitably do to alter it?

 An object in motion, after all, tends to stay in motion. It takes a great force to stop it.

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Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it better. Dirty Dancing and Strictly Ballroom pale in comparison.

The American GOP Forum at Morgan State in Baltimore. A chance for Republican presidential wannabes to strut their stuff for a largely African American audience in attendance — and with, maybe, hundreds of thousands more courtesy of PBS, who televised the debate. Tavis Smiley moderating. Who’da thunk it? What self-respecting conservative president-in-waiting would pass up such an opportunity to make his case?

Well, the four top tier Repubs took a pass. McCain, Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, all of ’em. Seems they thought “the audience might be hostile and unresponsive.”

Big mistake.

The event organizers deserve an Emmy for turning the snub to “Best Dramatic Effect in Reality TV.”  The six “second tier & lower” candidates, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter and Alan Keyes took their places at their six slick, see-through podia. You could see every inch of ’em. Interspersed on stage, for all the world to see every minute of the debate, were the four empty podia of the front runners. A constant reminder of who cared enough to show up — and who didn’t.

I was mesmerized. For a crusty old Liberal like me, the visual message on that stage was mind-blowing. Then Tavis Smiley elevated the debate format to stellar heights. The first question? He asked each of the candidates to address the absence of the Big Four. If I’d had a bottle of champagne handy, I’d have popped the cork right then. There’s no way out of this, I thought.

I was wrong.

Huckabee was first to respond and was inclusive — and utterly brilliant. “I’m embarrassed,” he said. “I want to be president of the United States, not president of the Republican Party…” He was clearly incensed at the shameful behavior of his fellow GOP candidates and made no bones about it. His take no prisoners attitude, delivered with all the sincerity and zeal of the Baptist preacher he is, had me on my feet.

While the others also shook their collective heads in disapproval and spoke to it, none of them came across with the same depth of feeling Huckabee evidenced. Besides,  he was first and had no time to gather his thoughts. Nor did he have a response to model his own after; he had to wing it and he did. Beautifully.

It’s not easy for a committed white guy who’s anti-social programs for the needy (If we’d all just be responsible for ourselves, keep Dubya’s tax breaks for the wealthy,  privatize Social Security and let big business do it’s thing without a lot of silly regulations, everybody would be just fine…) to relate to a room full of minorities. Most of the candidates proved that to be true.

When the question of what legacy each of them might leave the African American community if they were elected, the answers were revealing. Brownback waxed eloquent about his effort, already underway, to see an African American museum constructed in D.C. — and he would be the president who, at long last, officially apologized for slavery and segregation. Duncan Hunter jumped in with a notion of doing away with pornography, although he failed to make celar why this was an urgent African American issue. He extolled “less regulations and less taxes” as a shiny new legacy for Black America. Alan Keyes said he did not believe there actually is “this deep divide in this nation” and seemed to feel that a same-sex marriage moral compass and “faith” in schools would pretty much do the legacy trick.

It was Huckabee, again, who hit the high point: Access to decent housing, a justice system that’s not weighted against African Americans. I was on my feet again. Whoo-hoo! Housing! All that social justice and justice justice! Honey, I was ready to pull the lever. Or touch the screen. Or lick the #2 lead and put a big old X in the box next to his name.

But something went wrong for me when the subject of Darfur was raised and Huckabee said we didn’t need to be tinkering with genocide there until we dealt with the genocide here–abortion. Scratch the benevolent surface and something’s not quite what it appears to be.

Mike Huckabee may prove to be a real threat to the top tier Repubs. He actually is the “compassionate conservative” the GOP touted so loud and proud back in 2000. He preaches love and he means it, all that “love” stuff. Sincerity is not his problem. He’s Baptist. He can prance and preach, wrap himself in the mantle of Christian love, open his arms wide and hug us right into a born-again stupor.

But he’s that kind of Baptist. Therein lies the flub: A singular religious perspective defining public policy, impacting the law, packing the Supreme Court. That kind of love, no matter how well-intended, will narrow the moral landscape and priorities to same-sex romanticism, save-the babies, preach the biblical version of world history and science in the classroom…

And ignore world poverty, illiteracy, hopelessness, rage and genocide as lesser problems (after all, we want to get to heaven, here) and deny healthcare to all those babies we’re supposed to be saving and send them off to Iraq to fight in the endless bloody occupation/holy war against (t)errorism — because, under GOP management, we’ll still be over there fighting when the next generation is cannon-fodder-aged.

This man is not a change in direction. He’s the same old social sins agenda in a spiffy new outfit. With a cross.

The religious right could well rally ’round this fella. God help us.

I am a life-long Southerner. My family, branches both here in South Carolina and in Virginia, were plantation owners; cotton and tobacco growers who bought and sold people, broke families and bodies and spirits for profit. I was raised by genteel racists who still claimed “Our darkies did not want to be free. They depended on us to take care of them. Why, we saved them from the torment of everlasting hellfire when we brought them over here and gave them to Jesus and they knew it! They’d been nothing but heathens, living like monkeys over there in Africa, practially swinging from trees…”

I’m not proud of my heritage. My children were grown, well into their twenties before I ever told them the truth about their ancestors. I have pictures of the old homes in Upstate South Carolina and on the James River in Virginia. The homes we lost in the “War of Northern Aggression.” In the fifties and sixties, when I was growing up, the Civil War was still being fought down here. I lived in the middle of that battle, that bitter war of words against the Yankees and what they’d done to us, what they’d taken from us. I lived the Great American Apartheid. Fear and hatred, burning crosses, lynchings. The noose was a terrible symbol of the dark soul of the South.

I had hoped we’d outgrown all that. Apparently, some of us have not. Continue Reading »

Barack Obama says it best: There are no good options in Iraq, only bad ones and worse ones.

Then there’s the worst one. The Decider-in-Chief laid it on the line for us last night.  We’ve gone from Operation Enduring Freedom to Operation Enduring Bleed’em. A stay-the-course “enduring relationship with our ally” while they fight off Al Qaeda — those really bad guys who want to bring down Iraq’s duly elected government.  Iraqi leaders, he tells us, want us to stay. They want this enduring relationship to go on and on and on. Dubya didn’t say how enduring this occupation is going to be. Unless we count on the reference he made to the next president taking over as Commander-in-Chief of the 130,000 troops on the ground come January 2009.

BUT. General Petraeus says we can begin bringing our troops home. It’s the drawdown at last. We’re all on the same page now. Angry Democrats in Congress, an even angrier American public and those skittish Republicans on the Hill, we can all say we’re friends again because George W. Bush says so. He’s bringing over 5,000 troops home by Christmas! The fact that about half of them were already scheduled to leave Iraq doesn’t mean a thing. After all, he didn’t extend their tours. He’s decided things are going so well in Iraq that another 20,000 or so troops will come home by next summer! The way he figures it, we’ll have about 30,000 fewer troops on the ground before you can say “This isn’t a drawdown, Mr. President! This is the end of your surge —  and the Army told you  they cannot maintain it past March anyway! Don’t feed us a mouthful of crap and call it caviar!”

All we’re going to need, he says, to buy the hardworking Iraqi government a little more time and breathing room so they can finally get it right, is the same troop level we had nine months ago. Before the surge.  And that government deserves all the time we’ll give ’em. Sure, they’ve failed to meet most of the Bush benchmarks; sure, they took the entire month of August off for a collective vacation from all that exhausting commitment to concilliation, benchmark-meeting and democracy stuff. Sure, American troops on the ground (without a vacation in sight) bought that recreational month of August with their own blood. But, hey, the surge is working and our troops are coming home! Eventually. Continue Reading »

Shame you can’t have a 4:20 commercial…

So. It’s official. After a protracted lackluster start-up leaves the Right yawning through primary season, a frustrated GOP offers up the Grand Ole Poseur. The Great White Hope. The near-Ronald Reagan hits the campaign trail.

Actor/lawyer/former Tennessee Senator Fred Dalton Thompson is off and running. In it to win it. The collective conservative sigh of relief was explosive enough to alter the course of the jet stream; surely there’s nothing but fair weather and smooth sailing ahead. This guy has it all. Experience on the Hill — just enough, not too much. Name recognition to die for, a face everyone knows and trusts. We’ve seen him in action and we’re impressed. He’s served us well as the serious, thoughtful sage DA Arthur Branch on NBC’s Law and Order. He dispensed golden nuggets of legal wisdom every week for several years, never got flustered, seldom lost a case that really mattered. And every Law and Order crisis was neatly resolved in under sixty minutes. No lie. Watch the re-runs. You’ve got to believe in a guy who can do all that. America loves its bigger-than-life heroes and this fella filled the screen. Imagine what he could do in the Oval Office.

Not only has he got star quality, he’s a bona fide regular guy. He wears blue jeans, tools around in a red pickup truck. He drove that old truck all over Tennessee in his ’93 run for the Senate. Folks ate it up like a platter of Memphis barbecue. Most never suspected the truck was pre-positioned a mile or so away from Ole Fred’s stumping grounds; seems a luxury car or limo delivered candidate Thompson to the big, red truck and he took it from there. The long, tall, plain talkin’ everyman arrived in red, white and blue average American style. It’s all about image. You have to look the part to play the role.

He’s an outsider, too. There’s no tacky “Washington Insider” tattoo on this good old boy’s forehead. Serving a term or two in the U.S. Senate does not make a man (or woman) one of those tainted insider types. No way. And that’s a fact.

But there’s more to the life and times of Fred Dalton Thompson than stints as a beloved TV DA or another Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style pol. He’s got a long history — 20 years or so — as a living, breathing lobbyist in D.C. and he played that role to the hilt.

One of his clients in 1982 was the Tennessee Savings and Loan League. On their behalf, Thompson lobbied for a bill to deregulate the S&L industry. The result? The final version of Thompson’s pet bill is widely credited with laying the groundwork for the risky financial ventures, fraud and mismanagement that ended with the S&L collapse of the late ’80s. Regular folks lost money and U.S. taxpayers shelled out around $150 billion for the bail-out. Fred? He got paid.

He lobbied for Equitas, a British reinsurance company handling billions of dollars of asbestos claims for Lloyd’s of London. What profit-savvy insurer wants to face paying full price for all those pesky asbestos victims? Equitas paid Thompson about $760,000 between 2004-2006 for his handiwork on their behalf. And the list goes on. This outsider spent plenty of time and energy peddling influence.

A spokesman for Thompson explains it this way: “Many of the candidates from both parties have been lobbyists or have been lobbied at one point or another in their careers. It is an honorable endeavor that goes back to the beginnings of this republic.”

That point of view makes it all better. My kids once had a penchant for the same “But Mo-omeverybody else is doing it!” argument. I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now.

Still, they tell us, he’s untainted. He’s a different breed altogether: The new, improved outsider-insider. He’s just like all of us. Except that the K Street gang — who’ve bought our government wholesale, kept the costs of gas and oil, health insurance and prescription drugs, staggeringly high or wholly unaffordable for too many of us — rightfully rejoices at a potential Thompson presidency. After all, he might say he’s one of us, he might look like one of us, but he’s one of them.

He’ll only dance his way into the White House if we let him. Maybe we’re smarter than the GOP thinks we are. To quote a very smart Illinois voter about the Thompson campaign:  “What they’re doing is like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig — and putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t mean you have to take it to the prom.”

Old George and his minions have been trying to re-educate us for years. Even with his approval ratings in the basement–right under the sump pump– we shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions about what a disaster the Bush years at the helm have been. After all, he tells us, “The jury’s still out on George Washington.” And he ought to know. He’s reading a book. So, he’s sort of like George Washington. Really. A couple of hundred years from now folks’ll read a book about Dubya. Under neocon leadership the Iraq War ought to be winding down about then and everyone will see how wise the 43rd president truly was.

 And they tell us he’s just like Abraham Lincoln, too. Misunderstood. Greatness is too often unappreciated by the masses. In the midst of a bloody Civil War nobody much liked Abe, either.

After nearly five years of taking offense at any comparison between his Iraq War and Vietnam (“What distortion of the war on the ground?” “What quagmire?”), Dubya has penned a new page in the GOP Official U.S. History Book. In a lengthy, didactic History-Lesson-for-Dummies speech before the VFW, after linking his war (and his leadership) to every honorable, justifiable U.S. engagement, he invoked Vietnam:

“…there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War [This sounds about right.] and how we left. There’s no debate in my mind that the veterans fron Vietnam deserve the high praise of the United States of America [If you’re so proud now, where were you, Cheney and the rest of your defermentloving warmongers then? Those troops you admiremy husband among themsure could have used some help.] Whatever your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens…

“There was another price…we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today’s struggle…those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001… [In Iraq Dubya still insists it’s all Al Qaeda, all the time.].”

W. goes on to make his point clear: We only lost the Vietnam War because we quit–and that cut-and-run policy gives aid and comfort to our enemies today. Once again, victory is ours for the taking. Unless we quit.

There are some similarities between Vietnam and Iraq. In both cases the declaration of war was based on lies. The two Gulf of Tonkin “incidents” were were suspect in one case, disproved altogether in the other. The Saddam-Al Qaeda-9/11 connection was false, there were no WMD. In both wars our military bore/bears the brunt of the battle while a reluctant and/or duplicitous Vietnamese/Iraqi military stood down. In both wars we propped up inept, corrupt governments. In both wars millions of innocent civilians were killed, maimed and displaced. In both wars the official U.S. government spin trumped the facts on the ground. We were/are winning. The successful end– total victory with honor– was/is right around the next bend… And, at the end of the day, the Vietnamese didn’t like us, the world’s opinion of us plummeted and we were at each others’ throats here at home.

And there was one significant difference: Corrupt or not, the government of South Vietnam asked for U.S. aid and intervention. We did not make a unilateral pre-emptive strike against a sovereign nation who never asked us to invade their homeland.

When all else fails, George W. Bush brings the Almighty into matters of policy as he sees them. His VFW Neo-history lesson speech was no exception:

“The greatest weapon in the arsenal of democracy is the desire for liberty written into the human heart by our Creator.”

You can’t argue with God. And, in the Bush version of U.S. History, it is the POTUS who must define what God meant by “liberty.” In the present case, it seems to mean a right-wing version of democracy at gunpoint, a docile pro-American regime in power and the Hydrocarbon Act benchmark to seal the deal.

Iraq is like Vietnam–only better. This time, if the pro-war Right has its way, we can’t lose because we won’t quit. We may never leave at all. Occupation and control of Iraqi oil fields. That’s the new, improved definition of liberty. Believe it. It’s in Dubya’s new, improved history book.