Monthly Archives: August 2006

Long-Term View, Part 2

The lede says it all.

Moderate reformers across the Arab world say American support for Israel’s battle with Hezbollah has put them on the defensive, tarring them by association and boosting Islamist parties.

This is a must read with all the reasons Bush’s foreign policy is dead wrong.

Long-Term View

So you think these 75,000 Palestinians don’t have a long-term view of the problem?

Israel’s military struck Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp Wednesday, killing at least two people and wounding five. Lebanese and Palestinian officials said an Israeli gunship shelled the Ein el-Hilweh camp, but Israel’s military said the attack was an airstrike that targeted a house used by Hezbollah guerrillas.

The camp is home to about 75,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants who were displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. (emphasis added)

GOP “Retreats”; Dems Don’t

Last week’s Mason-Dixon poll, which found weak support for higher transportation taxes, is a solid message from taxpayers and drivers, according to Del. Clay Athey, R-Front Royal.

“The people of Virginia believe that we have enough money to have a fine transportation system,” said Athey, one of the leaders of the House’s transportation efforts. “The message we’re getting [from voters] is ‘fix it with some innovative ideas.'”

GOP lawmakers held a retreat recently to talk strategy, and the end result is some decidedly new options when it comes to the state’s road problems.

Republicans are going to be “coming out with some innovative and creative ways to address the problem that doesn’t involve raising taxes,” said Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock.

It remains to be seen whether their ideas will be “innovative and creative.” But who wants to wager whether the Democrats have held a retreat to discuss transportation options in light of the effective road blocking by House Republicans and the recent Mason-Dixon poll.

I don’t make much of the anti-tax results of the poll. I think the anti-tax bias is more from the Democrats’ inability to outline the benefits of higher taxes. You can’t just say, “More money equals a faster commute.” People are more willing to volunteer, follow your lead or spend money — doesn’t matter what — when they have some specifics. You need to outline the specific projects and expected benefits.

But that would mean Democrats would need to sit around and strategize a bit. Or hold a retreat.

Don’t hold your breath.

Spin Begins

There will be a battle on the news and talk programs over the next couple of days to spin the Lamont victory. Democrats already seem to fear saying what this is all about.

“This shows what blind loyalty to George Bush and being his love child means,” said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the leader of the Democratic House Congressional campaign. “This is not about the war. It’s blind loyalty to Bush.”

The article from which the Emanuel quote comes is quite good. Kudos for New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney for limiting quotes in the article and not letting it degenerate into dueling talking points.

But to Emanuel’s statement, Lamont’s victory isn’t about one thing and solely a protest among voters who “hate” Bush. It was also about the war and a lot of what Bush stands for and what the Democrats don’t. They slowly are outlining alternative visions, but now stronger stands against Bush will be criticized not only by the GOP but by pundits in the media who will no doubt suggest that Democrats waited until they saw which way the wind was blowing in Connecticut before forcefully taking on Bush and his misguided foreign policy.

That’s unfair to many Democrats who have spoken out recently. But the reality is in the world of public opinion you still have to deal with the perception of mainstream media and anticipate how positions will be analyzed.

The greatest tragedy would be if Democrats start interpreting Lamont’s victory as a signal that they need to simple call for an immediate pullout in Iraq. That will be perceived as a McGovern moment that will harm the party in the long run. Rather, I hope the response goes something like this.

What Lamont’s victory tells us is that the country is ready for a more strategic and effective foreign policy that considers the long-range welfare of our country and the world. The U.S. can no longer base its decisions on Western movie mentality. We must export our ideas and values in a way that turns enemies into friends. George Bush and the Republicans’ approach has created more terrorists and made the world less safe. Democrats want to ensure that our children live in a safer world. We need to engage those who have opposed our policies and challenge our friends to work for peace and prosperity worldwide.

Lamont’s victory tells us that Americans want change. They want a government with a strong military defense that works in tandem with a strong diplomatic effort to win the war of ideas. We must create a strong defense that protects Americans from terrorist threats while we address the roots causes of terrorism. To do that we must be tough with our enemies and tough with our friends.

No one wants to repeat the mistakes of the Iraq War, and the Republicans don’t seem to have a Plan B. Clearly, Connecticut voters said “staying the course” is not an option. They want change, not only in our foreign policy but in our financial priorities. We have problems at home that need out attention and cannot afford to waste our dollars fighting a civil war we created.

Let’s rebuild our military strength for the job of defending America. And let’s get on with making peace and security for our children a priority again.

UPDATE: Just after publishing this post I read this AP story. Sure enough the Dems position the victory as a repudiation of Bush instead of what they stand for.

“Joe Lieberman has been an effective Democratic Senator for Connecticut and for America. But the perception was that he was too close to George Bush and this election was, in many respects, a referendum on the president more than anything else,” Reid and Schumer said. “The results bode well for Democratic victories in November and our efforts to take the country in a new direction.”

Meanwhile, the GOP’s Ken Mehlman used the opportunity to say what Democrats stand for.

“Joe Lieberman believed in a strong national defense, and for that, he was purged from his party. It is a sobering moment,” Ken Mehlman said.

The Republican National Committee chairman said Lieberman’s loss also is a “sign of what the Democratic Party has become in the 21st century. It reflects an unfortunate embrace of isolationism, defeatism and a blame America first attitude by national Democratic leaders at a time when retreating from the world is particularly dangerous.”


Oh Boy!


Thanks to Daily Kos for the photo.

The Foreign Affairs Narrative

With more evidence that the Democrats have a solid chance of gaining control at least one chamber this November, there are those who wonder how the Dems will blow it. Count me among them.

Dan Balz of The Washington Post had another of his excellent analysis pieces this weekend in which he laid out comprehensively the competing theories of what the “anti-war” movement could do to the Democrats’ November prospects.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) said it is a mistake to contend, as the Republicans are doing, that the Democrats have been captured by left-wing, antiwar activists, saying the Connecticut race most of all reflects discontent with Bush rather than an ideological awakening. “This is really about Bush,” he said. “It’s deeper than an antiwar thing.”

Still, many party moderates say they see worrisome parallels to what happened to the Democrats during Vietnam, when they opposed an unpopular war but paid a price politically for years after because of a perception the party was too dovish on national security.

“Candidates know they cannot appease [antiwar] activists if they are going to run winning national campaigns,” said Will Marshall, president of the centrist Progressive Policy Institute. “It will intensify the tension inside the Democratic coalition as we head into two critical elections.”

But leaders of the net-roots activists, and some party strategists, argue that as antiwar sentiment spreads Democrats stand to gain politically by aggressively challenging Bush’s war policies. Parallels to Vietnam are inaccurate, they say, because of the nature of an Iraq war that has become a low-level sectarian civil war.

There are many of us who opposed the war from the beginning but who now recognize that a quick pullout and retreat to isolationism is not a viable option. If anything, we must be engaged. Only the U.S. has the power to broker a lasting peace in the Middle East. An equitable solution to the Palestinian question is the first step. The Democrats can tell a compelling story.

The Bush administration and its rubber stamp, Republican-controlled Congress has seriously jeopardized our future, both internationally and domestically. They have fueled the threat from extremist Islamists and limited the help we get from our allies. On Sept. 12, 2001, the world was our friend. Today, radical violence has spread, and we have become isolated from the world. As a country we are less safe today than ever before in our history.

We cannot stay the course. We need a new one.

Internationally, that new course will demand that we seek a just end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is the lynchpin to defusing the terrorists. Muslims want peace and prosperity. To undermine the terrorists, we must have a return to Israel’s 1967 borders and a free Palestinian state bolstered by international aid to rebuild their economy. An international force must be convened to enforce the peace in the short-term.

We must end the Israeli-Lebanese conflict and offer aid to both sides to rebuild their countries. We must provide unwavering support for the Lebanese Democracy in its fight against the Hezbollah. That requires first and foremost, that we talked to Lebanese prime minister, something President Bush has not done through the nearly four weeks of fighting.

Diplomacy begins by talking with your enemies, not just your friends. We must open a dialogue with Syria and Iran, something the Bush administration has refused to do. Instead it issues ultimatums. We must work to end Syria and Iran’s support of terrorists by offering economic incentives that will also encourage democratic elements within those countries. A strong international coalition must be formed to organize this effort. We should assure them that we will not attack their countries. If we believe in democratic ideals, we can work to encourage democratic forces within those countries to control their own destinies.

In Iraq, we must set firm deadlines for the Iraqi government to assume control of their country and for our forces to leave. Only Iraqis can end the civil war there. If necessary, we must explore allowing the country to be divided into Shiite, Sunni and Kurd autonomous entities.

We must demand that Saudi Arabia withdraw its tacit support for Islamic radicals in its own country and that the Saudi monarchy facilitate democracy. We must demand that Egypt end its persecution of democratic elements in the country.

We must engage China and Latin America in a way that fosters free and fair economies, the surest path to stable, responsible and democratic governments.

At home, we must develop an alternative energy policy that radically reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

And we must rebuild our military strength, decimated by the Iraqi War, to ensure it is fully capable of protecting our homeland.

While in complete control of the reins of power, Republicans have failed to make Americans safe and secure. It’s time to end their failures and vote for a new direction.

Is Black Back?

Leesburg Today is reporting Dick Black is contemplating a comeback, having collected about $15,000 in contributions in the first six months of this year, much of it from developers. That’s not exactly a flood of money, but you don’t collect money for nothing. And of course, he had a closing balance of $85,000.

During the campaign, he made the point that he was 100% behind his gubernatorial candidate. But now,

Black said he ran nine contested elections and the one he lost just happened to be during the “absolute worst” presidential approval rating and a weak gubernatorial candidate in former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore. He credited Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) with his “keen awareness” that Loudoun was an important county in which to make a presence to get elected.

“The party had reached an ebb,” Black said of the GOP.

Well said. Neither Sen. Mark Herring or Del. David Poisson seemed concerned. Personally, I think a Black would make a tough opponent.

(Please, please, let Black run again.)

Sunnis vs. Shiites

Army generals were asked yesterday about the violence in Iraq and said that they feared the country might be moving towards a civil war.

The Bush administration, of course, doesn’t want to use that term and reportedly said privately after the general’s appearance that the violence that claims about 100 Iraqi lives a day doesn’t qualify as a civil war.

The administration also said it has established an office that will determine, in fact, when and if a civil war has commenced. The first proclamation from the office was that a civil war cannot be declared before the opposing sides have chosen a uniform color.

“A civil war requires one side wear blue uniforms and the other side wear gray ones,” said Karl Rove, who has been assigned the task of outlining the parameters of a civil war. “Until then, the violence only qualifies as “making steady progress.”

Rove has authorized Vice President Dick Cheney to approve a no-bid contract to Halliburton to manufacture 3 million of each colored uniform just in case a civil war erupts. The contract includes a 50% premium due to the “rush” nature of the bid.

Meanwhile, trying to identify who is blue and who is gray has proved a challenge for the administration. Therefore, President Bush is sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on an undercover mission to Iraq. She will attempt to infiltrate both sides of the conflict. Depending on who treats her best will help determine who is blue and who is gray.

With the civil war imminent, President Bush determined that now is the perfect time to take a vacation. He originally planned to enjoy his summer home in Mobile, Ala., before Mr. Rove reminded him he didn’t have a home there, but should a civil war break out, Mr. Rove will find a suitable property to buy there.

Thus, Mr. Bush is planning a 10-day respite at his Crawford, Texas ranch. Should a civil war break out in Iraq, the Secret Service has a plan to move the president regularly during his vacation to ensure he is at a secure location. The administration is worried that any mention of a civil war might provoke Shiite and Sunni rednecks throughout the South, as well as Texas yahoos. We’ve learned that the vacation hideouts are in Osage, Mosheim, Lime City, Moody and Lorena, all towns in Texas. (Revealing these names does not jeopardize security for the president because nobody knows where teh hell these towns are.)

Cindy Sheehan has offered her recently purchased five acres near the president’s ranch to him as an alternative vacation spot. She announced that while he’s there, she could not gurantee that a civil war would not commence.

Meanwhile, Pentagon officials are trying to dissuade Sec. Donald Rumsfeld from planning an attack on Atlanta with a Boy Scout troop and a box of matches.