My first column of the New Year ought to be upbeat and filled with hope. You know, "Happy New Year!" "Get out the party hats!"
I am not getting out the hat, but I am optimistic about 2007. Here's why.
No, I am not the least bit hopeful about the soon-to-be-announced "new and improved" Bush plans for Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Palestine, New Orleans, our public schools, our tax system or global warming (concern for polar bears not withstanding). This man appears incapable of altering his course on any issue.
And, equally disturbing, he knows the truth. He is not troubled by that inner uncertainty most of us feel. (Recall his loopy idea that he is God's messenger? Yikes!) For him, change of an established course is the same as admitting the worst sin a man can commit: admitting weakness. He is sort of our version of the Marlboro man, without the horse. Ultimately even the Marlboro man admitted the error of his ways when lung cancer intervened. For Bush, the truth may force him to act, but don't count on it.
I am optimistic in part because the occupation of Iraq is going so poorly that the Democrats in Congress have no choice but to reject sending more troops to Iraq and, yes, to begin to cut funds for the occupation. We are approaching the fourth anniversary of the invasion, and nothing is going well. Reconstruction is a bad joke, and training the Iraqi army to take over is a pipe dream. So there is no sense in deluding ourselves that if we just wait six, 12 or 18 months, it will all be fine.
Even the military is increasingly willing to admit that "we" are engaged in "their" civil war. Frankly, the only question now is when we will leave, not whether we will leave.
In my view, the American people won't tolerate more of the same. They know what they voted for. Congress has no choice; Democrats running for office in 2008 have no choice. Republicans have no choice. It is over - now end the suffering. Bring the troops home.
Now, let's take a peek at the domestic front. Rep. John Conyers, who will soon be chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is on to Karl Rove's tricks. Democrats in Congress, under Conyers, who carried out an extensive investigation of the Ohio election debacle, will have a chance to force the White House to run clean elections in 2008. We need paper backup to electronic voting, enough machines in black and student districts, and no more culling the lists based on false assertions of criminal records or threats of arrest for past parking tickets.
It should be fun. Hell, we haven't had an honest presidential election since Clinton won a second term. I think 2008 will be. Thank you, John Conyers, RFK Jr., Greg Palast. You blew the whistle.
Global warming is now on everyone's mind. Thank you, Al Gore. "An Inconvenient Truth" awakened a nation. Not even Bush's scientists can deny it now. Global warming is a fact.
Is it too late to change? I don't know, but we must assume the answer is no and act now. Anyone seeking office in 2008 must be on board. The people are way ahead of the politicians. They want action. In conclusion, I am optimistic because Jon Stewart will be back; Democrats have no choice but to act; the war in Iraq is almost over. I think I will get a party hat after all.
Ed Garvey is a Madison lawyer, political activist and the editor of fightingbob.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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