Monday, March 31, 2008

Lieberman Award

Pennsylvania Governor Rendell lauds Faux News.

Profiles of the Obama Team

National Journal Article.

Baton Passes to Asia

This is happening much faster than anyone predicted, thanks to our $pending in the Iraq war.

Op-Ed Columnist
The Baton Passes to Asia
By ROGER COHEN
HONG KONG

It’s the end of the era of the white man.

I know your head is spinning. The world can feel like one of those split-screen TVs with images of a suicide bombing in Baghdad flashing, and the latest awful market news coursing along the bottom, and an ad for some stool-loosening wonder drug squeezed into a corner.

The jumble makes no sense. It just goes on, like the mindless clacking of an ice-dispenser.

On the globalized treadmill, you drop your eyes again from the screen (now showing ads for gourmet canine cuisine) to the New Yorker or Asahi Shimbun. And another bomb goes off.

There’s a lot of noise and not much signal. Everywhere there is flux and the reaction to it: the quest, sometimes violent, for national or religious identity. These alternate faces of globalization — fluidity and tribalism — define our frontier-dissolving world.

But in all the movement back and forth, basic things shift. The world exists in what Paul Saffo, a forecaster at Stanford University, calls “punctuated equilibrium.” Every now and again, an ice cap the size of Rhode Island breaks off.

The breaking sound right now is that of the end of the era of the white man.

I’d been thinking about this at Dubai airport in the middle of the night, as the latest news came in from the United States of the bloody end to the mother of all spending binges. I was watching the newly affluent from other parts of the world — Asians and Arabs principally — spend their way through the early-morning hours.

The West’s moment, I thought, is passing. Money and might are increasingly elsewhere. America’s little dose of socialism from Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson might stave off the worst but cannot halt the trend.

Then I arrived in Hong Kong. The talk was all about how U.S. economic woes could impact Chinese growth. Might it tumble to 8 from over 11 percent? And what of India, powering along with growth of a mere 8 percent or so?

The West should have such troubles! Even revised downward, these growth rates are at levels Europe and the United States can only dream of.

Decoupling — another Hong Kong buzzword — is not possible in an interlinked world: export-led Asian economies are vulnerable in some measure to U.S. troubles. But that measure dwindles as the Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese domestic markets explode.

Asian statistics can be numbing. With one third of humanity, the numbers get big. There are now 450 million cell phones in China.

But take another — the likelihood that some 300 million people will move from rural to urban India in the next 20 years — and you get a sense of the shifts underway. By 2030, India will probably overtake Japan as the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China.

But in the end, transformation is not about numbers. It’s about the mind. Come to Asia and fear drains away. It’s replaced by confidence and a burning desire to succeed. Asian business leaders are rock stars. The culture of education and achievement is fierce. China is bent on beating the U.S.A.

What you feel in Asia, said Claude Smadja, a prominent global strategist, is “a burst of energy, of new dreams, and the end of the era of Western domination and the white man.”

Hong Kong purrs. Its efficiency and high-speed airport train make New York seem third-world. All the talk of Shanghai rising and Hong Kong falling was wrong: they’re both booming. Mainland Chinese tourists come here in droves to play and spend.

I went to see Frederick Ma, Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce. He’s suave in that effortless Hong Kong way, the shrewdness wrapped in a soothing patter of bonhomie. How is it that this is the only place on earth where people think of what you want before you’ve thought of it yourself?

He eased seamlessly from talk of mind-boggling infrastructure plans involving bridges and high-speed trains to a gentle lament for America.

“I am very worried about the U.S. economy right now,” he said. “When I was visiting last November, I asked a banker friend what’s going on, and she told me that a Wall Street problem was soon going to be a Main Street problem.”

Yep, it’s a Main Street problem all right when people lose their homes and realize overnight they’re illiquid and have 1930s visions as Bear Stearns goes “Poof!” in the night.

Everything passes. In the 17th century, China and India accounted for more than half the world’s economic output. After a modest interlude, the pendulum is swinging back to them at a speed the West has not grasped.

It’s the end of the era of the white man; and, before it even began in earnest, of the white woman, too.

Obama Sparks New Dialogue on Mixed Raced Individuals

Article Here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Secret History of Credit Card

From Frontline.

This is well worth seeing.

How to End the War-- Brzenzinski Opinion in Wash. Post

How to end the war, by the great Zbigniew Brzezinski.


Both Democratic presidential candidates agree that the United States should end its combat mission in Iraq within 12 to 16 months of their inauguration. The Republican candidate has spoken of continuing the war, even for a hundred years, until "victory." The core issue of this campaign is thus a basic disagreement over the merits of the war and the benefits and costs of continuing it.

The case for U.S. disengagement from combat is compelling in its own right. But it must be matched by a comprehensive political and diplomatic effort to mitigate the destabilizing regional consequences of a war that the outgoing Bush administration started deliberately, justified demagogically and waged badly. (I write, of course, as a Democrat; while I prefer Sen. Barack Obama, I speak here for myself.)

The contrast between the Democratic argument for ending the war and the Republican argument for continuing is sharp and dramatic. The case for terminating the war is based on its prohibitive and tangible costs, while the case for "staying the course" draws heavily on shadowy fears of the unknown and relies on worst-case scenarios. President Bush's and Sen. John McCain's forecasts of regional catastrophe are quite reminiscent of the predictions of "falling dominoes" that were used to justify continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Neither has provided any real evidence that ending the war would mean disaster, but their fear-mongering makes prolonging it easier.

Nonetheless, if the American people had been asked more than five years ago whether Bush's obsessions with the removal of Saddam Hussein were worth 4,000 American lives, almost 30,000 wounded Americans and several trillion dollars -- not to mention the less precisely measurable damage to the United States' world-wide credibility, legitimacy and moral standing -- the answer would have been an unequivocal "no."

Nor do the costs of this fiasco end there. The war has inflamed anti-American passions in the Middle East and South Asia while fragmenting Iraqi society and increasing the influence of Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent visit to Baghdad offers ample testimony that even the U.S.-installed government in Iraq is becoming susceptible to Iranian blandishments.

In brief, the war has become a national tragedy, an economic catastrophe, a regional disaster and a global boomerang for the United States. Ending the war is thus in the highest national interest.

Terminating U.S. combat operations will take more than a military decision. It will require arrangements with Iraqi leaders for a continued, residual U.S. capacity to provide emergency assistance in the event of an external threat (e.g., from Iran); it will also mean finding ways to provide continued U.S. support for the Iraqi armed forces as they cope with the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The decision to militarily disengage will also have to be accompanied by political and regional initiatives designed to guard against potential risks. We should fully discuss our decisions with Iraqi leaders, including those not residing in Baghdad's Green Zone, and we should hold talks on regional stability with all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran.

Contrary to Republican claims that our departure will mean calamity, a sensibly conducted disengagement will actually make Iraq more stable over the long term. The impasse in Shiite-Sunni relations is in large part the sour byproduct of the destructive U.S. occupation, which breeds Iraqi dependency even as it shatters Iraqi society. In this context, so highly reminiscent of the British colonial era, the longer we stay in Iraq, the less incentive various contending groups will have to compromise and the more reason simply to sit back. A serious dialogue with the Iraqi leaders about the forthcoming U.S. disengagement would shake them out of their stupor.

Terminating the U.S. war effort entails some risks, of course, but they are inescapable at this late date. Parts of Iraq are already self-governing, including Kurdistan, part of the Shiite south and some tribal areas in the Sunni center. U.S. military disengagement will accelerate Iraqi competition to more effectively control their territory, which may produce a phase of intensified inter-Iraqi conflicts. But that hazard is the unavoidable consequence of the prolonged U.S. occupation. The longer it lasts, the more difficult will it be for a viable Iraqi state ever to reemerge.

It is also important to recognize that most of the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq has not been inspired by al-Qaeda. Locally based jihadist groups have gained strength only insofar as they have been able to identify themselves with the fight against a hated foreign occupier. As the occupation winds down and Iraqis take responsibility for internal security, al-Qaeda in Iraq will be left more isolated and less able to sustain itself. The end of the occupation will thus be a boon for the war on al-Qaeda, bringing to an end a misguided adventure that not only precipitated the appearance of al-Qaeda in Iraq but also diverted the United States from Afghanistan, where the original al-Qaeda threat grew and still persists.

Ending the U.S. military effort would also smooth the way for a broad U.S. initiative addressed to all of Iraq's neighbors. Some will remain reluctant to engage in any discussion as long as Washington appears determined to maintain indefinitely its occupation of Iraq. Therefore, at some stage in 2009, after the decision to disengage has been announced, a regional conference should be convened to promote regional stability, border control and other security arrangements, as well as regional economic development -- all of which would help mitigate the unavoidable risks connected with U.S. disengagement.

Since Iraq's neighbors are vulnerable to intensified ethnic and religious conflicts spilling over from Iraq, all of them -- albeit for different reasons -- are likely to be interested. More distant Arab states such as Egypt, Morocco or Algeria might also take part, and some of them might be willing to provide peacekeeping forces to Iraq once it is free of foreign occupation. In addition, we should consider a regional rehabilitation program designed to help Iraq recover and to relieve the burdens that Jordan and Syria, in particular, have shouldered by hosting more than 2 million Iraqi refugees.

The overall goal of a comprehensive U.S. strategy to undo the errors of recent years should be cooling down the Middle East, instead of heating it up. The "unipolar moment" that the Bush administration's zealots touted after the collapse of the Soviet Union has been squandered to generate a policy based on the unilateral use of force, military threats and occupation masquerading as democratization -- all of which pointlessly heated up tensions, fueled anti-colonial resentments and bred religious fanaticism. The long-range stability of the Middle East has been placed in increasing jeopardy.

Terminating the war in Iraq is the necessary first step to calming the Middle East, but other measures will be needed. It is in the U.S. interest to engage Iran in serious negotiations -- on both regional security and the nuclear challenge it poses. But such negotiations are unlikely as long as Washington's price of participation is unreciprocated concessions from Tehran. Threats to use force on Iran are also counterproductive since they tend to fuse Iranian nationalism with religious fanaticism.

Real progress in the badly stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process would also help soothe the region's religious and nationalist passions. But for such progress to take place, the United States must vigorously help the two sides start making the mutual concessions without which an historic compromise cannot be achieved. Peace between Israel and Palestine would be a giant step toward greater regional stability, and it would finally let both Israelis and Palestinians benefit from the Middle East's growing wealth.

We started this war rashly, but we must end our involvement responsibly. And end it we must. The alternative is a fear-driven policy paralysis that perpetuates the war -- to America's historic detriment.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. His most recent book is "Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Covering the Iraq War

Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com comments. He sorta slams Charlie Rose for being condesending in an interview that i have posted earlier. I don't think Charlie Rose was condescending. The Greenwald article is very interesting though, and thought provocking.

Charlie Rose - Conversation with President of Shell Oil

Much more interesting than I thought it would be.

Massive Ice Shelf Collapses

Is there anyone left that doubts Global Warming?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

End This

Tuzla - Gate and Wright Controversy


The longer this race continues, the more vile it is getting. Sen. Clinton and Obama are throwing everything at one another, while McCain continues to make gaffes, but is not called out on them.

As long as this horse race continues (which the media absolutely loves), it will force both the Sen. Clinton camp and the Obama camp to become more and more concerned with tearing the other down, rather than building up their own candidate. In the end, as nyt columnist Rich, who is an obama supporter, says, we will end up electing McCain.

SUPERDELEGATE PRIMARY

As everyone agrees, time is running out. As a party, we cannot let this go to the convention. Yesterday's Diane Rehm show, had the gov. of Tenn. on, and the panel talked about his proposal to have the superdelegates vote in June, immediately AFTER all of the states/territories have voted in primaries/caucuses. The Superdelegates will declare one way or another and the race will be over. By then, the Superdelegates will know whether Obama is unelectable, as the clinton camp alleges. They will know by then how all of the states adn territories have voted.

I think that the governor's plan is a great idea, as it will decide this thing once and for all, and will allow the democrats june, july, aug. sep, and oct. to go after the republicans.

DESTROYING THE PARTY

Basically Sen. Clinton and Barack Obama have the EXACT SAME PLATFORM. one is just more appealing than the other :-) and is a once in a lifetime candidate. guess who i think that is?

But either way, they should END this, or just declare a truce and only talk about the issues and not try to impugn the other candidate. The problem is, the only way now that Sen. Clinton can win, is to destroy Obama. Sen. Clinton has no other path to the nomination unless she wins in Penns., NC., Indiana, and the other remaining states. Even if she does that, she will in all probability be behind in the delegate count.


Sen. Clinton started it (because she had to), Obama is hitting back just as hard now. They will destroy one another.....

10 Largest Countries

according to Infoplease


LARGEST COUNTRIES (in sq mi):* 2007
1. Russia 6,592,735
2. Canada 3,855,081
3. United States 3,718,691
4. China 3,705,386
5. Brazil 3,286,470
6. Australia 2,967,893
7. India 1,269,338
8. Argentina 1,068,296
9. Kazakhstan 1,049,150
10. Sudan 967,493

50 Most Populous Countries

According to Infoplease.

World's 50 Most Populous Countries: 2007
Rank Country Population
1. China 1,321,851,888
2. India 1,129,866,154
3. United States 301,139,947
4. Indonesia 234,693,997
5. Brazil 190,010,647
6. Pakistan 169,270,617
7. Bangladesh 150,448,339
8. Russia 141,377,752
9. Nigeria 135,031,164
10. Japan 127,467,972
11. Mexico 108,700,891
12. Philippines 91,077,287
13. Vietnam 85,262,356
14. Germany 82,400,996
15. Egypt 80,264,543
16. Ethiopia 76,511,887
17. Turkey 71,158,647
18. Iran 65,397,521
19. Thailand 65,068,149
20. Congo, Dem. Rep. 64,606,759
21. France 61,083,916
22. United Kingdom 60,776,238
23. Italy 58,147,733
24. Korea, South 49,044,790
25. Myanmar
(Burma) 47,373,958
26. Ukraine 46,299,862
27. Colombia 44,227,550
28. South Africa 43,997,828
29. Sudan 42,292,929
30. Spain 40,448,191
31. Argentina 40,301,927
32. Poland 38,518,241
33. Tanzania 38,139,640
34. Kenya 36,913,721
35. Morocco 33,757,175
36. Canada 33,390,141
37. Algeria 33,333,216
38. Afghanistan 31,889,923
39. Uganda 30,262,610
40. Nepal 28,901,790
41. Peru 28,674,757
42. Uzbekistan 27,780,059
43. Saudi Arabia 27,601,038
44. Iraq 27,499,638
45. Venezuela 26,084,662
46. Malaysia 24,821,286
47. Korea, North 23,301,725
48. Taiwan 23,174,294
49. Ghana 22,931,299
50. Romania 22,276,056

Frontline "Iraq War"

This was awesome. I wish everyone could see it.

Trash Pickers

Good for the Environment.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Michael Goldfarb on Iraq

From Huffington Post.

Obama's Speech

Obama gave us a choice, a fork in the road. Are we sophisticated enough as an electorate to take the right path?

It was Brilliant.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tax Return Mystery

McClatchy Article

During Hillary's Clinton's New York race for the Senate in 2000, a man in an Uncle Sam suit calling himself "Tax Man" followed Republican candidate Rick Lazio around, demanding to know why Lazio was so slow in making his income tax returns public.

"The people of New York have a right to know what he's hiding," said Howard Wolfson, then a top Clinton aide who often trailed behind "Tax Man" feeding reporters campaign spin. "Rick Lazio's 15 minutes are up — he should stop making excuses and come clean with New Yorkers."

Eight years later, Clinton and her presidential campaign aren't making her income tax returns public. She's promised to release her income tax information on or around April 15.

Wolfson, now the Clinton campaign's communications director, won't say why Clinton wouldn't release her tax information earlier. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, released his 2006 tax return _ though only his 2006 return _ last April.

Clinton isn't the only presidential candidate who hasn't made tax records public. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, hasn't either. His campaign says that he'll make his records public in the next month or so.

McCain has never made his tax returns public, but Clinton has. In 1994, under political pressure over the Whitewater land deal controversy, the Clintons made public all their tax returns since 1977. The couple also disclosed their tax returns during Bill Clinton's eight years in the White House, but not since.

The delays by Clinton and McCain perplex some government watchdog groups, which note that past presidential candidates had no trouble producing their tax returns in a timely fashion. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, released his tax information in December 2003, for example.

"This is a part of the public record that voters have come to expect.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Memo to the Next President

I am repeating this because i loved the discussion.

Iraq War -- 5 Years Later

A great discussion on Diane Rehm.

Republican Storm Clouds

Good Article.

"It's no mystery," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). "You have a very unhappy electorate, which is no surprise, with oil at $108 a barrel, stocks down a few thousand points, a war in Iraq with no end in sight and a president who is still very, very unpopular. He's just killed the Republican brand."

Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan analyst of congressional politics, said: "The math is against them. The environment is against them. The money is against them. This is one of those cycles that if you're a Republican strategist, you just want to go into the bomb shelter."

The loss of Hastert's seat in a special election in the far suburbs of Chicago was particularly painful, Republicans conceded. GOP campaign aides contended that the victory of Democratic physicist Bill Foster, a political neophyte, was more a reflection of the unpopularity of his Republican opponent, Jim Oberweis, than a tectonic political shift in a district that once exemplified the GOP's stranglehold on the nation's outer-ring suburbs.

A Crude Case for War

Wash Post article.

Bear Stearns Deal

Article Here

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Excellent Coattails Analysis from Daily Kos

Here it is for us political wonks.

Coattails

Democrats seem to think Obama has bigger coattails in the fall election. I am sure that is one reason Pelosi supports Obama.

Hillary Supporter a Little Bit Too Enthused

Gold Hits $1,000 an Ounce

WEEEEEEEE as Atrios of Eschaton says.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is the Surge Working? -- PBS News Hour Debate

JIM LEHRER: And now, two very different views of the surge. They come from two frequent visitors to Iraq. Both are experts who have written extensively about the situation on the ground there.

Nir Rosen is a fellow at the New York University Center on Law and Security. Frederick Kagan is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a former professor at West Point.

Mr. Kagan, to you first. You agree with the president that the surge has been successful, correct?

FREDERICK KAGAN, American Enterprise Institute: Absolutely.

JIM LEHRER: And why do you say that?

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, the main purpose of the surge was to get the sectarian violence in and around Baghdad under control so that it would be possible for the Iraqis to start making political progress.

You have to remember that, when the surge went in, the purpose actually was just to get Baghdad under control. It was initially called the Baghdad security plan.

A variety of developments, including the turning of the Sunni Arabs against al-Qaida and the insurgency, have allowed us to be playing for much more than that. And so we've actually managed to stabilize a large swath of central Iraq.

And there has also been remarkable political progress. There's been progress on almost every one of the major pieces of benchmark legislation.

And so -- and the Iraqis are -- there's a new fluidity. When you look at the Iraqi political dynamic in Baghdad now, at the senior levels and throughout, there's a new fluidity in the equation, which comes from the fact that the Iraqis certainly feel that violence has dropped to levels where what they are starting to care about is less security and more moving forward with their country.

JIM LEHRER: Mr. Rosen, do you see the same -- do you look at the scene and see the same thing, less violence, more political possibilities on the Iraqi side?

NIR ROSEN, Fellow, New York University Center on Law and Security: No, I think it's absolutely a failure, the surge. I think that less violence is actually a sign of the failure of the surge.

The violence during a civil war was very logical. It was an attempt to remove Sunnis from Shia areas and Shia from Sunnis areas, and it's been incredibly successful. There are virtually no mixed areas left in Iraq.

You have what Americans call gated communities, effectively a Somalia-alike situation, where you have different neighborhoods surrounded by walls, controlled by a militia or a warlord. And they're sectarianally pure, all Shia, all Sunni. There's no reconciliation between the two communities.

You have, fortunately for the Americans, the Mahdi army decided to impose what they call the freeze, so Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader, could sort of clean his house, get rid of some of the bad elements there, and prepare for the next round.

Likewise, the Sunni resistance realized it had lost the civil war. Sunnis were basically expelled from Baghdad. They had lost their resistance to the occupation.

And beginning in 2006, you saw them being much more introspective in Damascus, in Jordan, and in Iraq, thinking, "How do we proceed? Our main enemy is what we call the Iranians." When they say Iranians, they mean basically all the Shias.

JIM LEHRER: The Shiites, yes.

NIR ROSEN: They call the government Iranian. They call the security forces Iranian. "That's our main enemy. The Americans can wait. We'll have a huddanah (ph)," a temporary cease-fire, "with the Americans so we can regroup, collect weapons, collect territory" -- thanks to the Americans, in this case -- "and then fight the Shias and sort of retake Iraq."

JIM LEHRER: So you see this as just a temporary thing that was not even caused by the American increase of troop -- the increase in American troops?

NIR ROSEN: Well, Muqtada al-Sadr's decision to declare the cease-fire was, in part, a result of the increase of American troops, because he realized that he was going to face more pressure from the Americans. So he might as well lay low, wait the Americans out. And when the Americans reduce their numbers, then you can continue this purge of Sunnis from Baghdad and elsewhere.



Sunni, Shia tensions
JIM LEHRER: So, Mr. Kagan, what Mr. Rosen is saying, essentially that both sides are laying low, the Sunnis for their reasons, the Shias for their reasons, that this is not a permanent thing.

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, there's a magnificent myth out there that Mr. Rosen just reiterated for us that there are no mixed areas in Iraq anymore and that the cleansing is completed.

And it's astonishing to me that someone who's been in Baghdad for as long and as much as Mr. Rosen has been could say something like that. There are still Shia areas in western Baghdad, not only in Kadamiyah, around the Kadamiyah shrine, in which there will always be Shia, but also in west Rashid.

JIM LEHRER: What does that mean?

FREDERICK KAGAN: It means that you still have -- in neighborhoods that are predominantly Sunni, on the west side of the river, which is historically the Sunni side of the river, you still have Shia enclaves that are within those neighborhoods.

Now, they're more consolidated than they had been before, certainly. At a low level, you certainly have seen that kind of consolidation, but there is no natural dividing line between Sunni and Shia in Baghdad, let alone around Baghdad, let alone in Diyala.

And the result is that -- for those people that want sectarian conflict, there are more than enough sectarian raw edges, both in Baghdad and around the capital, to be generating that kind of conflict. The fact that we've seen the violence drop even though you still do have mixed areas in Baghdad, Baquba, Diyala and so forth, tells you that there has to be something more here than the cleansing has been done.

JIM LEHRER: Mr. Rosen?

NIR ROSEN: Well, it's true that there are Shia areas in western Baghdad, but that's because the Shia militias made a lot of inroads even in western Baghdad. And they control more and more neighborhoods within the west.

But what's really frightening is that, indeed, when that sectarian fighting will resume -- and it will -- there's going to be nowhere to run to, because Syria and Jordan have closed their borders to Iraqi refugees; 11 of Iraq's 18 governors have closed their borders to internally displaced Iraqis. So when the fighting resumes intensively, it's going to be a slaughter.

JIM LEHRER: Why are you so sure it's going to resume?

NIR ROSEN: When you talk to people on both sides, to the militiamen, they're quite clear about their motives.

The Sunni groups, the Americans call them concerned local citizen or other euphemisms; they call themselves the awakening. They're quite clear. They're not just security forces that are cooperating with the Americans. They're temporarily not fighting the Americans because they want to regroup and prepare themselves to fight the Shias.

The Mahdi army is there. And this is their worst nightmare. The Sunnis, who we defeated -- and this is actually the Iraqi government in general, all the Shia Islamists who control the security forces and the government, and the Mahdi army, this is their worst nightmare.

We defeated the Sunnis. We kicked them out of most of Baghdad. We certainly got them out of power. And here they are coming through the back door, thanks to the Americans.

JIM LEHRER: Do you see the resumption coming, as Mr. Rosen does?

FREDERICK KAGAN: No. I think it depends very much on who you talk to in Iraq and how you talk to them about what kind of responses that you get. And I've spoken with Sunni local citizens and various people, and you get some responses that are along these lines. And you get some responses that are along other lines.

I think what's very important to understand is that this is a very local phenomenon. People have decided to join these movements because of local conditions on the whole and not because of some big pan-Sunni "Well, you know, now this is how we're going to get them this time" plan, because you have to keep in mind people also forget the sequence of how these guys become concerned local citizens.

The first reason why they become concerned local citizens is because they don't want to be killed, because they're in a middle of a war that they're losing. And so the first and only deal that we give them is we will agree not to kill them.

We aren't paying these guys to come over to our side; we certainly aren't arming them. What we're doing is promising not to kill them in the first instance. Now, that happens on a local basis.

And then I have to contradict Mr. Rosen. There is reconciliation happening on lower levels. When you go out into Diyala, where you have mixed tribes and where you have tribes on both sides, you do have CLCs from both groups. In areas to the south of Baghdad, you're starting to see some reconciliation initiatives reaching out to one another.

JIM LEHRER: You don't see that?

NIR ROSEN: There are exceptions, of course. And Iraqis were never sectarian. They've been pushed into this by various militias.

But when you hang out with the Sunni militiamen, with the concerned local citizens, when you hang out with the Mahdi army, when you're not with the American soldiers, but when you're with them naturally, and then you ask them who they were and why they joined these forces, they're quite clear.

They're former Islamic Army of Iraq, former 1920 Revolution Brigade, former Army of the Mujahedeen, the Iraqi Resistance. Some of them are even former al-Qaida.

And, yes, they realize they have lost the war against the Americans and they have lost the war against the Shias. "And we have to get the Americans off of our backs so we can control some territory."

So now they have territory inside Baghdad and elsewhere and they can use this as a foothold. And they are attempting to become a political movement. I accompanied some of these guys from Dura (ph), guys who controlled 150, 300 men who had been in the resistance.

They went to Ramadi to pay homage to Abu Risha, one of the main leaders of the awakening, and to try to join his political movement. And why? "So that we can fight the Iranians. So we can fight the Shias."


Impact of U.S. troop presence
JIM LEHRER: OK. Let's talk about the role of the Americans now.

As we said in the setup piece, there's a presidential debate going on about the withdrawal of U.S. troops. First of all, what is your reading, Mr. Kagan, of what the role of the United States military is on the ground now and how important it is to the stability and all things of the future?

FREDERICK KAGAN: It's critically important. And I think that the role that we've moved into is one of armed mediation. Increasingly, we've managed to persuade both sides -- and if you bring in the Kurds, all three sides -- that we are actually relatively impartial, relatively neutral force, which is a change, because a lot of the Sunni community had not been trusting us and had seen us as the enemy.

And now what we're doing at the local level, at the provincial level, and at the national level is working to create bridges between Iraqi groups of both sides and bring them together.

JIM LEHRER: A positive force.

FREDERICK KAGAN: Absolutely.

JIM LEHRER: You see the U.S. troops as a positive force...

FREDERICK KAGAN: Absolutely.

JIM LEHRER: ... among all Iraqis now?

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, there are still people shooting at us.

JIM LEHRER: Sure.

FREDERICK KAGAN: Still people who don't want us to be there. But among the majority populations, we definitely are playing a very positive role.

JIM LEHRER: Positive role?

NIR ROSEN: It's an occupation. A foreign occupation is never a positive thing. It's a systematic violence that's imposed on an entire nation.

Now, the American occupation was much more brutal the first few years, that's true. Abu Ghraib-like scandals aren't happening anymore. They've slightly softened their approach, but they're still killing innocent Iraqis everyday. They're dropping bombs on Iraq.

They have 24,000 Iraqis in American-run prisons. They haven't been charged with anything. They haven't been found guilty of anything. So still a very oppressive, systematic violence that Iraqis are enduring.

However, it's true that the American presence does mitigate some of the violence that would otherwise occur between Iraqis.

JIM LEHRER: How do they mitigate the -- just by being there?

NIR ROSEN: Well, these days, the Mahdi army is lying low. It's lying low, and not because it wants to stop killing Sunnis or stop seizing control over Baghdad, but because the Americans are there and the Americans were very clear that the Mahdi army is one of their main targets.

So they decided to become legitimate. And now the American leadership speaks with respect about Muqtada al-Sadr. So he might as well wait them out.






Debating withdrawal
JIM LEHRER: I know neither of you are politicians, but the political debate come November is going to be based, if it's still a hot issue among American presidential candidates, it's going to be John McCain on one side and one of the Democrats on the other.

John McCain is going to be saying, "We may have to have a U.S. military presence there," he says, "for 100 years, it's going to go on," versus either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton saying, "No, we want to start taking troops out."

How do you see this?

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, I hope that the debate will at least occur on the basis of reality on the ground and not these same sort of storylines that we've had for a long time. The American presence in Iraq is not an occupation. We are there by power of the U.N. Security Council.

JIM LEHRER: So you disagree with Mr. Rosen's reading?

FREDERICK KAGAN: Absolutely, in terms of international law and in terms of the reality on the ground. We're there under a U.N. Security Council resolution.

We hold detainees, not prisoners, on the basis of that resolution. And that's why we don't charge them with people. And there's a lot of international law here that people are not tracking on.

The violence has dropped; we agree on that. Americans are playing a role in continuing to have the violence drop and stay down; we seem to agree on that. Political progress is being made in the center; that's pretty clear.

So the question is -- and if we leave, the situation will deteriorate.

JIM LEHRER: In what way will it deteriorate?

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, I do believe that our presence is still essential in terms of this mediation role and also in terms of the support that we provide to the Iraqi security forces, which still need us for logistics purposes, for training, for a variety of other things, and also for the partnership that we play in help them become better forces.

JIM LEHRER: Mr. Rosen, how do you see -- if U.S. troops begin to be withdrawn by a new president, what happens on the ground?

NIR ROSEN: I think, frankly, they'll never be withdrawn by any of the candidates. Even the Democrats speak of maintaining a presence for the embassy, for training Iraqi forces, for counterterrorism, which is tens of thousands of soldiers already. So there's never going to be a full withdrawal.

Now, should there be? I think most Iraqis want there to be a full withdrawal. And they always have.

JIM LEHRER: Most Iraqis want...

NIR ROSEN: Leaving aside the Kurds, most Sunnis and Shias want that.

JIM LEHRER: OK.

NIR ROSEN: One interesting development, however, the last couple of years was Sunni friends of mine who were vehemently opposed to the occupation, as I was, began to worry that, "If the Americans leave, we're going to be slaughtered." And...

JIM LEHRER: The Sunnis are going to be slaughtered?

NIR ROSEN: Yes.

JIM LEHRER: By the Shia majority?

NIR ROSEN: Yes, I began to hear that in 2006, so Sunnis worrying about the debate in the U.S. on the Democratic side. People who had opposed the occupation who had fought the Americans worrying that, "If the Americans leave, we'll be slaughtered."

So it's a difficult -- it's a dilemma, because the occupation is a brutal presence that's imposed on the Iraqis. And they're arrested, and they're not charged. And that's a problem, actually.

And, of course, they're not handed over to the Iraqis, because that would be much worse. The Iraqis are actually grateful, relatively, to be arrested by the Americans and not to be handed over to the Iraqi forces where they're more likely to be tortured and killed.

But I think there's really no happy ending here. If the Americans stay, then they're only postponing the inevitable, which is fulfillment of the civil war.

But the Mahdi army is growing impatient with the cease-fire. Mahdi army men are losing control, losing their power and influence. They're still being arrested by the Americans, so they're growing resentful.

The Sunni militiamen feel like they're not getting anything from the Iraqi government, so why are they in this bargain? The Americans forced the Iraqi government to promise to integrate 20 percent of the Sunni militiamen into the Iraqi security forces. That's not really happening.

There's no reconciliation. In fact, the Iraqi government just acquitted two famous death squad leaders from the Ministry of Health. I mean, they're basically an insult to the entire Sunni community.

JIM LEHRER: No happy ending, Mr. Kagan?

FREDERICK KAGAN: I completely disagree. I think if you come at this from the standpoint of re-fighting the question of whether we should have gone in or not, continuing to say "occupation, occupation, occupation," which is a false statement, and presenting the view basically of the Sunni insurgency, then, you know, there's no happy ending for the Sunni insurgency.

I think if you look at what's actually going on, on the ground, and you look at the progress that's been made, and you look at the breakthroughs that have taken place, I think it's perfectly possible that we can work together with a large segment of the Sunni and Shia Arab Iraqi community and the Kurds to move forward in a very positive way.

JIM LEHRER: Gentlemen, thank you both very much.

Send in the Clown

Brokeback Mountain Interview, Heath Ledger (20 Minutes)

On Charlie Rose. I miss him.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pelosi Diss

I am surprised by Pelosi's not so subtle attack on Clinton.

Arctic Seed Vault

Arctic Seed Vault... so cool... so necessary. so prescient. Here.

Both Candidates Have Positives, Negatives

From Huff post here. This is a well thought out article, and great analysis.

Sun Will Destroy Earth in ~7.6 Billion Years

Article here.

1972 Democrats

Size Definately Matters

Monday, March 10, 2008

Great Question

From tpm, via andrew sullivan's site

Truly Funny

I saw these guys on Saturday night at the Warner Theater in DC. They were very funny.

VP Slot

Many agree that if Hillary is the nominee, she will have to offer the VP slot to Obama. He may not take it, but would be under tremendous pressure to do so. It would be a sure way for her to win.

But, lets say Obama is the nominee. Does he have to offer Hillary the VP slot? Would it help him? Would it attract working class white women to the ticket (arguably his weakest demographic). On the other hand, any dem will win NY and she has high negatives.

$3 Trillion Dollar War

and counting.

Obama and the Bigots

Kristoff nails it here.



The whispering campaigns allege that Mr. Obama is a secret Muslim planning to impose Islamic law on the country. Incredibly, he is even accused — in earnest! — of being the Antichrist.

Proponents of this theory offer detailed theological explanations for why he is the Antichrist, and the proof is that he claims to be Christian — after all, the Antichrist would say that, wouldn’t he? The rumors circulate enough that Glenn Beck of CNN asked the Rev. John Hagee, a conservative evangelical, what the odds are that Mr. Obama is the Antichrist.

These charges are fanatical, America’s own equivalent of the vicious accusations about Jews that circulate in some Muslim countries. They are less a swipe at one candidate than a calumny against an entire religion. They underscore that for many bigoted Americans in the 21st century, calling someone a Muslim is still a slur.

There is a parallel with presidential campaigns in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when one of the most common ways to attack a candidate was to suggest that he was partly black, or at least favored racial intermarriage. For example, the Federalists charged that Thomas Jefferson was “the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” And the word “miscegenation” was coined in 1863 and 1864 in charges that Abraham Lincoln secretly plotted for blacks to marry whites, especially Irish-Americans.

As late as the 1920 presidential campaign, a quarter-million letters were sent to voters accusing Warren Harding of being descended from a “West Indian Negro. ... May God save America from international shame and domestic ruin.”

In looking back at that history, you wish that a candidate had responded not only with, “No, I don’t have any black ancestor,” but also with, “So what if I did?”

Likewise, with countless people today spreading scurrilous rumors that Mr. Obama is a Muslim, the most appropriate response is a denial followed by: And so what if he were?

Granted, that’s not politically realistic as a comeback. A 2007 Gallup poll found that 94 percent of Americans said they would vote for a black candidate for president and 88 percent for a woman. In contrast, a Los Angeles Times poll in 2006 found that only 34 percent of respondents said they could vote for a Muslim for president.

Even if a prejudice is directed to a matter of choice, like religion or long hair, it’s still prejudice. It’s possible to believe that Catholics have every right to be president while opposing a particular Catholic candidate who would ban contraception; likewise, it’s possible to believe that Muslims have every right to hold office without necessarily embracing the candidacy of particular Muslims who advocate enveloping all women in burkas.

To his credit, Mr. Obama has spoken respectfully of Islam (he told me last year, on the record, that the Muslim call to prayer is “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset”). If he were to go further — “and so what if I were Muslim?” — many Americans would see that as confirmation that he is a Sunni terrorist agent of Al Qaeda who is part of a 9/11 backup plan: If you can’t reach the White House with a hijacked plane, then storm the Oval Office through the ballot box.

This is a case where Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain should take the initiative and denounce the fear-mongering about Mr. Obama as hate speech. The wink-wink references to “Barack Hussein Obama” and lies about his going to a madrassa are the religious equivalent of racial slurs, and Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton should denounce them in the strongest terms. This is their chance to show leadership.

When Mrs. Clinton was asked in a television interview a week ago whether Mr. Obama is a Muslim, she denied it firmly — but then added, most unfortunately, “as far as I know.” To his credit, Mr. McCain scolded a radio host who repeatedly referred to “Barack Hussein Obama” and later called him a Manchurian candidate.

Martin Luther wasn’t a model of tolerance but even he took the position that, “I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian.” In this presidential campaign, we should at least aspire to be as open-minded as 16th-century Germans

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Learn Disco

This is Hilarious!

Impact of Falling Dollar on US Economy

From the Newshour, here.

A Conversation About Roger Federer

My favorite sports star!


Dems Turning on Each Other

I so do not buy the alleged Rovian analysis that this BHO/HRC bickering is good for the Democrats because it keeps McCain off of the news, and focuses attention on the Democrats.

That is dumb.

There is so much that the Dems could be attacking McCain (HAGEE) on already, and that is not happening, and not getting any play.

Our mutual antipathy toward the other candidate will totally harm us with either women or with African Americans, come the general.

This sux.

Texas Results

According to McClatchy

Sen. Hillary Clinton watched a 20-point lead evaporate in little over a month but mounted a furious weekend sprint in which she consolidated her advantages with female and Hispanic voters to burst past Sen. Barack Obama in Tuesday's Democratic presidential primary, an analysis of election-night returns and exit polls shows.

The results show that the race for Texas played out in two stages.

Obama, fueled by high turnout and equally high excitement in most of the state's urban centers, carved out a narrow win in early voting. But on primary day, Clinton more than made up the lost ground by chipping away at her rival's strongholds without suffering significant erosion of her own support.

Here is a look inside the machinery that propelled Clinton to victory in Texas:

Border defense

Clinton began her battle for Texas in the Mexican border region and gave no quarter. When she was not in the region, it seemed that her husband, the former president, was on patrol. The result: She won the Laredo area with nearly 80 percent of the vote, the McAllen area with about 75 percent and Brownsville with almost 70 percent.

Gender politics

Exit polls showed that women accounted for about 57 percent of the Democratic turnout, and Clinton won an estimated 54 percent of that voting bloc. Her strongest showing was among Hispanic women, where she won nearly 7 of 10 votes. Her share among white women was nearly 6 of 10. Obama led among male voters, but not with the same commanding margins, the exit polls showed.

Obama's base

Obama won big among African-Americans, with almost 85 percent of the vote, exit polls showed. But blacks made up only about 20 percent of the turnout. He also won most of the urban counties. Harris County (Houston) went 56 percent for Obama, according to unofficial returns. In Dallas County and Travis County (Austin), he piled up about 62 percent of the vote. Tarrant County (Fort Worth) was Obama country, too, at 54 percent.

The late deciders

Clinton benefited from the voters who told pre-election pollsters that they were undecided. According to exit polls, nearly 3 in 10 voters did not settle on their choice until the final week of the race.

Among those who made up their minds on Tuesday, nearly 55 percent went for Clinton. Among those who decided in the last three days, almost 7 in 10 gravitated toward Clinton.

County-by-county returns paint a clear picture of how the late deciders affected the race. In early voting, Obama won nearly 60 percent of the vote in Tarrant County. By primary day, Clinton had halved that. The same held true in Harris County where Obama's 62 percent early-voting lead was whittled down to 56 percent.

Down to the issues

Sherri Greenberg, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, said many voters, especially women, were impressed with Clinton's stretch drive in which she emphasized her experience and her fighting spirit.

Arianna Huffington -- Clinton Using Rovian Tactics

Article from the Huff Post here.

With the media in full CSI: Ohio and Texas mode, slicing and dicing the body politic for clues to Hillary Clinton's latest resurgence (don't forget to check under the fingernails!), theories abound:

It was the economy, stupid. It was the Latino/African American disconnect. It was the media finally giving Obama some heat. It was Saturday Night Live (all hail Amy Poehler, Lorne Michaels, and Jim Downey -- political kingmakers).

But the real answer is to be found deep in our lizard brains. Clinton won by dealing from the bottom of the deck -- and the bottom of the barrel -- and playing the fear card. And, as happened in 2002 and 2004, Be Very Afraid proved to be a very effective campaign pitch.

After her New Hampshire comeback, Clinton famously declared: "I found my own voice."

For this latest comeback, she found Karl Rove's voice.

People aren't currently stocking up on Cipro and duct tape but, as the cable channels' hyped up reaction to the Times Square explosion showed, these are still jittery times. And appeals to voters' lizard brains still move the needle.

After an 11 state losing streak, Hillary Clinton didn't suddenly transform into a more compelling candidate. Only a spookier one.

So we got the 3 a.m. phone call, making no real argument about preparedness to lead, only the shadowy insinuation that bad things will happen to your kids if you vote for Obama. Trailers for slasher movies have less of a creep-you-out factor.

We got Hillary's ready-to-lead scorecard: "I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002." This scorched earth pronouncement led Air America's Rachel Maddow to tell Keith Olbermann, "That's what you say when you want to be John McCain's vice-presidential choice. That's not what you say when you're trying to become the Democratic nominee for president." Olbermann's take: "Unbelievable."

And we got that jaw-dropping moment on 60 Minutes where Clinton generously announced that she takes Obama at his word that he's not a Muslim and rejected rumors that he is with the so-big-you-could-fit-a-madrass-in-it caveat, "As far as I know." What's next, "Obama is a human being... as far I know"?

It's worth remembering that earlier in the campaign, when Clinton was still pitching the inevitability of her candidacy and fending off attacks from her opponents, she roundly disavowed these kinds of tactics. "I'm not interested in attacking my opponents," she claimed in Iowa in November. "I'm interested in attacking the problems of America and I believe we should be turning up the heat on the Republicans." Terry McAuliffe reiterated the do-no-harm-approach: "We're going to focus on the Republicans. We're going to focus on winning the White House. We're not going to attack our fellow Democrats. That's not what we want to do."

That is, they didn't until the high road looked like it would turn into a dead end. Then out came the fear-mongering playbook and the phone started ringing at 3 a.m.

I've written before about how fear-mongering works, causing voters to react not with their linear and logical left brain but with their lizard brain and their more emotional right brain.

Deep in the brain lies the amygdala, an almond-sized region that generates fear. When this fear state is activated, the amygdala springs into action. Before you are even consciously aware that you are afraid, your lizard brain responds by clicking into survival mode. No time to assess the situation, no time to look at the facts, just: fight, flight or freeze.

When we are in this state, we are biologically programmed to pay less attention to left-brain signals -- indeed, our logical mind actually shuts itself down. Fear paralyzes our reasoning and literally makes it impossible to think straight. It's the neuroscience, stupid!

After Tuesday's success, you can be sure the Clintons' march through the mud will continue over the seven weeks until Pennsylvania. Bill Clinton understood the potency of playing to voters' lizard brains -- it's why he started rolling the fear dice back on the Charlie Rose show. How to counter this kind of fear-mongering without kicking off a round of Mutual Assured Destruction for the Democrats is the Obama campaign's greatest challenge.

Gayest Songs Ever

On an Australian web site, via Andrew Sullivan. Here.

I agree with Dancing Queen as #1. But Smalltown Boy, by Bronksi Beat should have been #2, and Hit that perfect beat, also by the Bronski Beat, should have been #3.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rep. Ellisson, on Obama Muslim Smear

From the Huffington Post, article here

Matt Yglesias Says Rush Really Helped Clinton

Matt Yglesias says Rush really helped Clinton. Sheesh.. first she gives love to McCain, (prompting Rachel Maddow to say she should be McCain's VP) and now evidence emerges, from none other than the gifted Yglesias, that Rush Limbaugh came to her rescue.





I dismissed Rush Limbaugh's efforts to get conservatives to go vote for Hillary Clinton in order to make things easier for John McCain. Markos' efforts to do something similar on Mitt Romey's behalf didn't achieve anything. And, after all, why should it work -- the motive for voting is mostly expressive, so people are disinclined to do this kind of thing. But Dave Weigel rounds up some evidence that the Rush effect was real and put Clinton over the top in Texas.

And, of course, it worked. Clinton still won't win the nomination -- after Mississippi and Wyoming she'll be further behind in the delegate count than ever with fewer than ever delegates still up for grabs -- but for another couple of months McCain will have a high-profile anti-Obama surrogate in the field telling people the likely nominee is unfit for executive leadership.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tom Daschle on Charlie Rose

Obama's co-campaign chair speaks, oh so eloquently

American Unreason

Susan Jacoby on NPR.

Cost of Iraq War

Like a cancer in our economy, according to Bob Herbert of the NYT.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What Republicans Will Throw at Candidate Hillary

AmericaBlog post on what the republicans will throw at Hillary.



Hillary's campaign has already said that they are throwing the kitchen sink at Obama. They will discuss, are discussing, all the bad things that the GOP will throw at Obama in the fall.

So, what will the Republicans throw at Hillary in the fall?

Lots. But I'm not going to detail those things today because I'm, surprisingly, still pulling punches with regards to what I write about Hillary. I don't want to damage Hillary should she become our nominee, as increasingly unlikely as that appears. I don't want to write about very real scandals in Hillary's past, scandals that we will be forced to revisit for the next 8 months, and 8 years. I don't want to write about the rumors about Bill that no one has written about to date, even though the rumors include lots of details which are at least just as true as Obama being a Muslim. While Hillary's campaign is pushing known lies about Obama, such as the "Muslim" connection, most of the stories about Hillary are anything but lies. They're real stories that she will have to discuss publicly, again and again and again, to her and our party's detriment.

But I'm not going to be discussing the details of those stories today because I don't want to make our candidate damaged goods in the fall. You will notice that neither Obama's campaign nor Obama's official, or unofficial, surrogates are talking about the Clintons' past or present scandals, the Clintons' negatives, what a Clinton run for the presidency will to Democratic congressional races and governor races across the country. The Clintons are counting on the fact that none of us will write about their negatives, because we're too nice. So they can get as dirty as they want, with impunity.

Well, come Wednesday, if Hillary doesn't win 65% of the delegates in Ohio and Texas, and still insists on staying in the race and ripping our party in two, it will be time to start treating candidate Clinton with the same golden rule she is using for candidate Obama. Why? Not for revenge, but for the sake of our party and the fall election. Hillary and her campaign are in the process of turning Obama into damaged goods in the fall. They didn't have to go there, but beating Obama became more important to them than beating John McCain. So, the first question for Hillary come Wednesday, should she decide to continue risking our chances of winning in the fall even though the math says it's over, will be the question she's asking Obama today: What negatives will the Republicans throw against you in the fall? And as I've noted repeatedly, there are some negatives out there that most of you don't even know about - but everyone in Washington knows about them, in detail. That's because even Democrats who don't love Hillary, don't go there, for the good of the party. On Wednesday, the good of the party may dictate that we do.

Strife at the NY Times

This makes me sad. Hard times at the NY Times and an increased challenge from Murdoch's News Corp.'s Wall St. Journal.

Openly Gay Shadow Tory Minister to Wed

Article from the Daily Mail Here.

The Europeans are so much more advanced on this front.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

McCain and Hagee

Hagee is so loony.

Gay People Switching to Obama

According to this Bloomberg Article.

Jacob Weisberg's Book Reviewed on the NYT

The Bush Tragedy reviewed here.


Is the story of George W. Bush in fact a tragedy? Many Americans, of course, believe that his presidency has been a tragedy for the nation and for the world. But Weisberg provides few reasons to think it has been a tragedy for Bush himself. He portrays Bush as a willfully careless figure, only glancingly interested in his legacy or even his popularity. “To challenge a thoughtful, moderate and pragmatic father,” Weisberg argues, “he trained himself to be hasty, extreme and unbending. He learned to overcome all forms of doubt through the exercise of will.” Tragedy, in the Shakespearean form that Weisberg seems to cite (although there is nothing tragic about Henry V either), requires self-awareness and at least some level of greatness squandered. The Bush whom Weisberg skillfully and largely convincingly portrays is a man who has rarely reflected, who has almost never looked back, and who has constructed a self-image of strength, courage and boldness that has little basis in the reality of his life. He is driven less by bold vision than by a desire to get elected (and settle scores), less by real strength than by unfocused ambition, and less by courage than by an almost passive acquiescence in disastrous plans that the people he empowered pursued in his name.