The Self Made Pundit

I'm just the guy that can't stand cant. ___________

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

In his joint appearance with President Bush and his designated replacement, Bob Gates, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld might have unintentionally identified one of the main obstacles America is facing in the Iraq war. He described the war as a "little-understood, unfamiliar war, the first war of the 21st century -- it is not well-known, it was not well-understood; it is complex for people to comprehend."

While Rumsfeld's condescending remark was probably directed at the American public, it was unintentionally the truth since the war in Iraq is not well-understood by certain people. Unfortunately, those people include Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

It has long been obvious that Iraq is either in a state of civil war or on the verge of civil war. As the Washington Post reported back in August (some thousands of deaths ago), top U.S. generals reported to Congress that Iraq was sliding into civil war.

"The sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it," Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "If not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war."

The concept that a country is at civil war when it is plagued by armed groups that are slaughtering their countrymen by the thousands is apparently too complex for Bush to understand. As Bush said at yesterday's appearance with Rumsfeld and Gates, "you hear all the time, well, this may be a civil war. Well, I don't believe it is …."

With Rumsfeld leaving his post, perhaps the chances for the Bush administration to comprehend the Iraq war increased marginally. Unfortunately, the man in charge continues to be Bush, who continually fails to understand anything that does not conform to his preconceptions (or what Cheney tells him).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Well, that was a nice election for once.

While I am pleased that the Democrats won a big victory in Tuesday's election, I am concerned about my Republican friends. Will they be at a loss this week, wondering how to react to such a devastating electoral loss?

In a spirit of graciousness, I would like to offer some advice to the Republicans. As a Democrat, I think I can speak with some authority about how to respond to a big electoral loss.

The first thing you should do (after sobering up) is replay the campaign of every heart-breaking close electoral defeat of the Republicans in your head. Now, this might sound like wallowing in self-pity, and it is. However, engaging in such an analysis also helps you to learn from your mistakes. It is only by analyzing your close losses that you can identify the one or two things your candidates could have done differently to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Armed with such knowledge, you'll be better prepared to win next time.

Consider the three razor-thin losses that will apparently cost the Republicans the Senate. Republican Senators Jim ("No") Talent of Missouri, George ("Gracie") Allen of Virginia and Conrad ("Montgomery") Burns of Montana all had moments in their campaigns when a different word or act might have made a difference.

Perhaps Senator No Talent would have won if Rush Limbaugh had been less restrained in mocking the effects of Parkinson's disease that Michael J. Fox exhibited in the campaign commercial for Democrat Claire McCaskill. If Limbaugh had not merely imitated Fox's tremors, but had thrown himself from his chair and thrashed around the floor for 30 minutes, perhaps that would have been more entertaining to the dim-witted sadists whose votes the Republicans were apparently seeking.

Senator Gracie Allen would probably have won his race if he just hadn't called that dark-skinned campaign worker of his opponent, Jim Webb, "Macaca." The insult "Macaca" might have been too exotic for Allen's usual voters, making Allen sound effete and French. If only he could have thought of some other, more-recognized, slur. Maybe he should have tried the successful approach of Bob Corker, the Republican Senator-elect of Tennessee, and asked the dark-skinned young man if he had come to Virginia to look for white women.

And then there's the heart-breaking apparent loss of Senator Monty Burns by some 1,500 votes. Perhaps voters were turned off by his gaffes, including insulting out-of-state firefighters who had come to Montana's aid as lazy, and claiming that President Bush has a secret plan to end the war in Iraq. The first gaffe made him seem mean, and the second made him seem clueless. By contrast, if Burns had claimed that Bush had a secret plan to send brave out-of-state firefighters to put out the fire in Iraq, Burns would have come off as far more credible. Given the strategic prowess demonstrated by Bush, such a claim might even have been true.

Engaging in such hypotheticals should be fairly easy for my Republican friends given their experience in pretending that Bush is not an incompetent and corrupt president. None of these hypotheticals reaches the heights of unreality of their deranged fantasy that Bush has the brains and judgment to run a government and direct a war.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Self Made Pundit's election predictions have been famous ever since his collgege days, when he wrote his "A" paper, "Why McGovern Will Win the Election," in November 1972. (It probably helped that my teacher was a former aide to LBJ.)

For 2006, the Self Made Pundit is predicting an even better night for Democrats than the McGovern presidential election. In fact, I think the Democrats will have their best year since the 1974 Watergate landslide.

I predict the Democrats will win 45 seats in the House for a whopping 248 to 187 majority, six seats in the Senate (gaining PA, OH, MT, RI, VA and MO, while losing none) for a razor-thin 51 to 49 majority and seven governorships for a 29 to 21 majority.

While the actual results might vary, I feel confident of at least two results -- my own reelection as trustee of my small village (running unopposed helps) and the election of more than 218 Democrats to the House for their first majority since the 1994 election. I believe it was Abe Lincoln who said, you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool most of the people in 218 congressional districts after six years of misgovernance by the corrupt and the insane.

Don't forget to vote.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Although I am a life-long Democrat, I must admit there are reasons for voting Republican this year.

Can it truly be said that Bush and his enablers in the Republican Congress have failed to deliver on all of their promises of the past six years? Let's review the successes of the Bush administration and see if they justify voting Republican in this mid-term election to strengthen Bush's hand at reshaping America.

Consider Bush's promise to improve education with his No Child Left Behind initiative. True, the Bush administration has not increased funding to improve education. Yet every schoolchild in America (not to mention the Mideast) has been given the opportunity to become a nuclear scientist by the Bush administration's decision to post millions of pages of captured documents from Iraq -- including Nuclear weapons plans -- on the internet.

I don't see how there can be any serious argument that Bush has kept his promise to export American values. Bush and his Congress have worked tirelessly to ship cherished American values -- such open trials, court-ordered wiretaps and a rejection of torture -- out of this country. Though I suppose one might quibble with Bush's usual inapt phrasing, saying "export," when he meant "deport."

Bush has not forgotten his promise to keep America safe. Has anything threatened the American way of life more than the cultural revolution, which had its roots in decadent Jazz music, which was born in New Orleans? Thanks to Bush's not letting Hurricane Katrina interrupt his vacation last year, America no longer needs to fear that New Orleans will give birth to any new form of syncopated music threatening to our traditional values.

I also think that Bush and his allies in Congress should be given credit for their fiscal discipline. Bush and his Republican Congress have controlled the many urges to balance the federal budget that went unchecked in the Clinton years.

Bush certainly displayed his famous resoluteness following his announcement that he wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive. Concluding that such ambiguity was not his style, Bush obviously decided that he wanted bin Laden alive and did everything he could to follow through on that decision, from refusing to send troops into Tora Bora to get bin Laden to shifting our focus from getting bin Laden to Iraq.

We should also give Bush his due for fulfilling his campaign promises for Iraq. No one can deny that Bush's policies in Iraq have lived up to his statement in the 2000 presidential elections that he was against nation-building.

And what about achieving victory for coalition forces in Iraq? While some might question the wisdom of Bush's obvious decision to partner with Chaos in Iraq, there's no arguing with success. From invading with neither a game plan for reconstruction nor sufficient troops to pacify the country to retaining the incompetent architects (Cheney and Rumsfeld) of a bungled foreign policy, Bush has brought Chaos to the edge of victory in Iraq.

As a fair-minded voter, I think all American voters should consider the merits of voting Republican this year to endorse these policies and encourage Bush to be Bush for another two years.

I know that given the reasons to vote Republican this year, even a die-hard Democrat like myself will be undecided as I walk into that voting booth.

Do I vote with glee at repudiating the incompetence, corruption and mendacity of the Bush administration or with sadness at how much Bush has succeeded in making this country a banana republic?

It's a tough choice this election year.