LitKicks Op-Ed, October 2006

There is nothing literary about the following post.

Here in my humble country, affectionately known by many as “the U.S.A”, we are a month away from congressional elections that will shape our policies for the next two years. LitKicks has been commenting on elections since 1996, when we proudly endorsed Bill Clinton’s re-election for President (just scroll down to November 4, and by the way, he won and we were happy to have helped). A month before the hotly-contested Bush-Kerry presidential election of 2004, we staged a 31-day exercise in non-partisan literary debate, October Earth, which was intended to be some type of moral-spiritual “palate-cleanser” (we’re not sure it worked, but we had fun). Today, as in 2004, I want to avoid partisan politics, but I do want to speak in stark terms about the choice I think we’re facing in this upcoming national election.

In the office where I go to work every day, and in most of the offices where I have worked as a technology consultant and website developer, we have a way of approaching future projects and current responsibilities that involves careful, methodical planning. Whenever we begin a new project, we take care to identify realistic (not optimistic) estimates of the time, costs and risk for every step we take. We always consider worst-case scenarios before we dive into a project, because it’d be irresponsible not to. We monitor progress aggressively, and work together to solve unexpected problems quickly. The type of behavior I am describing is the way successful business managers in any field work.

Managers who do not do the above are generally known as “incompetent”. “Incompetent managers” are frequently found in office buildings alongside competent managers, and they can sometimes rise to frighteningly high levels of responsibility. The best four examples I can think of are currently running our country:George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Dennis Hastert.

It’s October, so please allow me to use a cliche: three strikes and you’re out.

Strike One was failing to plan for a post-Saddam government in Iraq. Decisions were made hastily, estimates were based on best-case scenarios, and pessimists were bullied into submission. The historical record shows us that President Bush did not know, two months before he finalized the decision to invade Iraq, that there were significant tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq. He said “I thought they were all Muslims”. This shit ain’t funny.


Strike Two was failing to jump to action to save lives during the New Orleans flood. This timeline speaks for itself. Absolutely disgusting.


Strike Three takes us down the Mall to Congress, where Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert failed to do anything about reports that a pedophile was running rampant among the Congressional pages.

Incompe … do I even have to say it?

In our ideologically pitched age, it’s easy to get so caught up in the good vs. evil rhetoric that we fail to see things that are obvious. I know that there are many, many opinions about tough issues like war, terrorism, religion, nuclear policy, the economy, energy policy, health insurance, etc. But sometimes it seems we identify so closely with our positions on these issues that we allow our politicians free rides on their actual performance as long as they say the right things. So let’s step away from “big issue” politics for a moment and just take a look at the way our current leadership actually handles things. You be the ump — how are they doing?

American voters, it’s time to throw some bums out. Thank you for allowing me to speak my mind, and I’ll go back to the literary stuff now.

4 Responses

  1. Vision from France”The U.S.A”
    Vision from France

    “The U.S.A” look strange. Every country looks “strange”. “Country” is a strange word. It gives birth to strangers.

    French people don’t like “American” (America-Bush-McDonald’s-Coca Cola). But they like Bruce Willis and Madonna. They don’t know anything else.

    They don’t know Rexroth.

    You are making America different. The failure is not yours. Incompetence is not American.

    Politics is incompetence. Give us poetry, beauty. We live in a time of evil vs evil. I need LitKicks.

    With love

  2. Henry and I are with
    Henry and I are with you…

    You want a literary slant? Henry David Thoreau once tried to give an anti-slavery speech at a town meeting in Concord, but when he got there he found that none of the citizens or politicians wanted to hear it. They were there to discuss the settlement of land in Nebraska and said that his speech would be “out of order.”

    Thoreau said of this incident, “I had thought that the house was on fire and not the prairie.”

    Thoreau also said, “They who have been bred in the school of politics fail now and always to face the facts. Their measures are half measures and makeshifts merely …”

    …hmmm…sounds familiar…

    Oh, by the way, I remember hearing Bush say that he didn’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. I could barely believe my ears. People talked about the strong possibility of the levees failing for days if not weeks. It was a major source of discussion among coworkers, friends, and the media.

  3. Nausea of Eternal
    Nausea of Eternal Recurrence

    Q: Who is more incompetent than Condoleezza Rice?
    A: The American voter.

  4. Complete CynicismI have
    Complete Cynicism

    I have fallen prey to complete cynicism. It’s probably not an accident that it extends from books to politics. It’s rather like a drunken binge and you’re stumbling around in the dark, falling down; knowing it can’t get any worse than this.

    And then it always does.

    Ironically, it has nothing to do with books and politics. Yet it has everything to do with both. It has to do with hope.

    You’re talking about good citizens becoming self-empowered and that needs to happen, obviously, but it’s more complex than one might assume because the people without hope don’t really believe that becoming empowered can equate with becoming empowered to the extent that we can facilitate change.

    I’ve given up.

    I can’t make it through perfectly good books and throw them at innocent walls. I just assume the next psychopath will be elected. Why.

    Perhaps the reader and the public are related.

    I have lost ALL faith in the animal.

    Now, I only loathe him, and want him to leave me alone. I want nothing to do with him and have removed myself to some very real isolation.

    Which is fine. I like it. I bother no one. No one bothers me. Life passes me by as an observer now and I am content to even write and then throw it away. It takes some effort to learn to do that.

    But hope and faith that “things” will get better — or CAN get better — empowerment or no empowerment, seems to be an ephemeral notion not supported by evidence that quite clearly indicates otherwise.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!