The wheels are falling off. The carriage is headed towards a cliff. The passengers are beginning only beginning to get scared. And where is the driver? Or in our case, where is the president? He is absent without leave, once more leaving the country in the lurch.

This isn't about partisan politics. It isn't about scoring political points. It doesn't matter what politics or ideology you have. Look around. This country is in serious straits and there is no sign of adult super version.

William Odom, the head of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan, describes Iraq as the "worst strategic debacle in American history." We've committed American lives and over $250 billion in taxpayers' money to an occupation in which we are taking sides in a civil war against the Sunnis, while our allies, the Shiites, are creating a state in the South where most of the oil is, that is ruled by Mullahs allied to Iran, charter member of the "axis of evil," fighting a civil war, largely against the Sunnis. As Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel and former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell concludes, "We have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran. And if something comes along that is truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence."

In New Orleans, the cronyism and incompetence were lethal during the storm. But now the survivors are being abandoned once more by the so-called reconstruction. There is still no plan to return people to their homes. No plan to give them priority to rebuild their neighborhoods. No administrator to coordinate various government programs. The government is giving out literally hundreds of millions in no bid contracts to corporations from outside the region, while the city of New Orleans lays off 3000 badly needed public employees. And the Republican Congress is pushing to cut catastrophic aid for poor people - Medicaid, housing, and food stamps to pay for catastrophic aid to the survivors of Katrina - even while it nods at another $70 billion tax break for the wealthiest Americans. They are not making sense.

In the economy, the bankruptcy of Delphi, the largest automobile parts manufacturer in America, will likely be followed by the bankruptcy of Ford and possibly General Motors. These companies are giving executives new bonuses and severance packages, even while they are abandoning promises made to former workers on their pensions, and demanding that current workers take a pay cut of two-thirds - from some $27 an hour to $10 an hour. These are workers with families, mortgages, kids in college. Few working families can absorb that kind of pay cut and sustain expenses that they are already committed to.

And the president? He thus far has refused to do anything, failed to call a summit to figure out how to save Detroit. And worse than that, he keeps peddling the same trade deals that have racked up the worst trade deficits in the history of man, made America into the world's largest debtor, and insured that our children will work hours a week to repay the Chinese and Japanese central bankers that are holding an ever larger portion of our debt. This does not make sense.

The president, of course, hails the economy as successful, and says his economic plan is working. Profits are up, CEO salaries are up. But wages are down and health care is getting rolled back, and pensions are being abandoned. His economic plan is working for the few, not the many. His top end tax cuts are creating more jobs in China than in America.

If we rolled back tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, we could use some of that money to invest in alternative energy and energy efficiency and make this country less dependent on foreign oil and Americans less vulnerable to rising gas prices. Instead the president and the Congress keep lavishing more benefits on the oil companies that are already wallowing in record profits. They are not making sense.

Partisans say, well Democrats aren't much better. And in fact, Democrats haven't had a lot to say. But they can control nothing with the right in control of both houses of Congress and the White House. We only have one president. We look to him for leadership and to the Congress to keep his aides honest and accountable. Instead he's on vacation and the Congress is out to lunch.

I devote my energy trying to rouse the poor and the afflicted, urging them to stand up work harder, stay responsible and fight for justice. But given the reality we face, isn't it time for conservatives and Republicans to call their own president and their own majorities in Congress to account? This country needs a new direction and we can't wait to the elections of 2008 to begin.