So, the Democrats have a majority in Congress. The bad times are over. The evil ones have been vanquished. Let's go ahead and declare world peace, an end to global warming, andâ€¹while we're at itâ€¹the cancellation of The O'Reilly Factor. I mean, what could be better, right? Hmm, we could also have a Democratic president to go along with a Democratic Senate and Democratic House. Can you say Hillary Rodham Clinton, boys and girls? Imagine that: A pinko by the name of Clinton running the White House with a merry band of liberals calling all the shots in Congress. How grand it would be...
Well, if you want a good idea of how things may go under the above scenario, you might want to reflect back upon the years of 1993 and 1994 because that's when President William Jefferson Clinton was enjoying the "advantage" of a Democratically-controlled Congress.
In just two years, the notorious liberal managed to abandon his pledge to consider offering asylum to Haitian refugees, renege on his promise to "take a firm stand" against the armed forces' ban on gays and lesbians, and back away from his most high-profile campaign issue: health care. He also signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), increased the Pentagon budget by another $25 billion, fired Jocelyn Elders, dumped Lani Guinier, ordered the bombing of Iraq and the Balkans, renewed the murderous sanctions on Iraq, ignored genocide in Rwanda, deported hundreds of thousands of "illegal" immigrants, and passed a crime bill that gave us more cops, more prisons, and 58 more offenses punishable by death. (All this came before the much-hyped Republican "revolution" in 1994. Can someone please explain to me why the right wing didn't like this guy?) Add a comment
It was horribleâ€¦ horrible. We heard a deafening explosion. The earth shook. A fraction of a second later a blizzard of shattered glass flew around us, and then it lay in drifts about our feet.
Then, horrors of horrors we heard the screaming: â€œYou did it! We saw you kids throw that rockâ€!
My close friend Bob and I were branded as terrorists!
I canâ€™t remember the year. Suffice it to say, it was back in my glory days. Bob and I were about thirteen years oldâ€¦ I think. We lived in a middle class, suburban housing development. One broiling summer afternoon, we had been innocently walking down the street carrying boxes of slot car track. We were going to make the biggest layout in Southern California.
What had happened? By chance, just as Bob and I were walking by the Griswold residence, the rear window of Mr. Griswoldâ€™s pride and joy, a shiny Dodge El Puerco, blew out all over the place. Parked halfway in the garage, with the back window exposed to the fierce sun of a Southern California summer, the Griswoldâ€™s Dodge was as explosive as Lucyâ€™s pressure cooker.
Now in that heat, not only would smart people entirely cover their car, but also they would at least leave open the carâ€™s side windows. However, the Griswolds werenâ€™t the sharpest knives in the drawer. That Dodge El Puerco was sealed up tighter than the Green Zone. Well, hot air expands and builds up pressureâ€¦ kind of like Senator â€œBullâ€ Horn. Something had to blow and it sure as hell did. It was spectacular. You would have paid money to see it!
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On Election Day, America took a step that history may show to have been absolutely crucial in saving this republic. At a time when the soul of America has been gravely endangered by our ruling powers, the American people have handed significant power back to the opposition party. Perhaps they will be an effective check on the hitherto unchecked power of this usurpatious presidency.
But winning even an important battle is not winning the war (if you will allow the martial metaphorâ€“ indeed, in a meaningful sense, this IS war).
To continue to roll back these dark forces, it is imperative that the opposition exercise its new powers wisely. In the coming days, I hope to explore here what that may require. I will begin now with some thoughts â€“and a questionâ€“ about what the Democrats should do with their new-found power to conduct investigative hearings.
by Dave Lindorff,
The big losers on Election Day were of course President Bush and the Republican Party, but there was another loser too: the conspiracy theory that had it that a slick operation run out of Karl Roveâ€™s office, and working in cahoots with the makers of the electronic voting machines increasingly being installed by voting districts around the country would steal the key elections electronically.
I always felt that this conspiracy theory was over the top, and that it moreover was having the pernicious effect of creating massive cynicism about elections that would keep many people from voting who otherwise might have.
There's no way to know how many people didn't go to the polls because they decided that it would be a waste of time, but I sure have heard plenty of people saying, over the past year, "What's the point? The Republicans are going to steal the election anyway."
Well, if they were ever going to steal an election, this would have been the one to do it to. The last thing a criminal president whose popularity is in the cellar needs is a Congress armed with subpoena power in the hands of the opposition party. Surely, if Karl Rove could have tinkered with the numbers on those voting machines in just a few dozen districts, or in states like Montana or Virginia where the margin was a few thousand votes, and where the key voter registrar officials were fellow Republicans, he would have done it.
Instead, we saw dozens of congressional races and a handful of key Senate races switch to the Democrats, and sometimes by the narrowest of margins.
by Mickey Z.
In a recent correspondence, Adam Engel wrote: "One of the greatest myths
about America is that it's the 'home of the brave.' Once, perhaps, prior to
1492. Now, it's most likely the greatest collection of cowards in the Milky
Way Galaxy." Engel specifically mentioned our lack of response to losing
habeas corpus and to being both "subject to eternal imprisonment for
liberating animals from vivisection labs" and "complicit in the murder of
hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghanis, South and
Central Americans, Haitians etc. etc. etc."
He could've also included our acquiescence in a frighteningly broad range of areas, e.g. access to health care, tolerance for voting irregularities, directly funding the Israeli war machine, and stomaching the groupthink behind saluting a flag. Americans talk the talk but when ordered to remove their shoes before going through airport security, it's "yes sir" all the way.
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For the purposes of this article I'd like to highlight another area in which American bravery is lacking...an area I have touched on before: supporting the troops. As John Kerry's recent episode demonstrated, one cannot appear to criticize the men and women in uniform without paying a high price. There are many who identify themselves as "anti-war" who will vigorously defend the troops. Even when faced with documented evidence of criminality, Americans still cannot summon the bravery to condemn the military.
As Don Rumsfeld is tossed overboard by the panicky Bushes (who value loyalty to themselves above all other virtues but never, ever, practice it toward others; there will be many more bodies left behind as the Family rallies to clean up Junior's mess again), Steve Gilliard steps in below to remind us that what we are actually dealing with here is not politics, not some Beltway horse race, or some idiotic media game of "who's up, who's down." The issue is mass murder -- thousands of Americans, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis -- and human suffering beyond imagining for millions more.
This is the reality. This is what really matters about Rumsfeld and the other architects of the war crime in Iraq. And although all the talk about the election's political ramifications for the Bush Administration is entertaining and diverting, as most gossip is, and not without some importance, on the most essential level it is a moral obscenity.
For when Bush opens his mouth, clotted bits of corpseflesh tumble out; when he walks, he wades through pools of human blood. And behind him, skittering and scooting in the blood-slick on their hands and knees, come all his ministers, handlers and toadies, come all the media sycophants who eagerly peddled his lies, come all the war profiteers who fill their bank vaults with hacked limbs, blown guts, crushed heads and mounds of viscera -- their treasure, their prize. Are we really supposed to be concerned about the political standing of such wretches? Should we not be outraged that they are allowed to walk among free people, much less exercise power and dominion over the nation? Why do they have any "political standing" at all?
And yet, they do. This too is reality, and we must deal with it.
by Joel S. Hirschhorn
Forget political correctness. The revolution has NOT arrived! Bush is still president. The corporate state is safe. The Upper Class has little to fear. Lobbyists will be writing different names on checks. Winning Democrats will entertain more than they will produce historic restorative reforms. Did Republicans deserve to lose? Of course!
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However, Americans who thought their votes would bring much needed change to our political system also lost. They just donâ€™t know or admit it yet. As usual, the third-party movement lost, because the two-party duopoly maintained its stranglehold on our political system. Populists and true progressives lost. Who or what was the biggest winner? The short-term and delusional tactic of lesser-evil voting won big.
On the liberal left, millions of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war voters held their noses, repressed the truth about cowardly and compromised Democrats. They rationalized why beating Republicans was the most important goal. Fake, neo-progressives, little more than embarrassed Democrats, finally showed their true blue commitment. On the right, millions of fiscal conservative, pro-life, and evangelical voters blocked out many facts, disappointments and scandals, and rationalized why keeping Republicans in power was the most important goal. They wanted to stay the course. Many spiritual libertarians given no Libertarian Party candidates went red. Spiritual greens went blue. Many independents, centrists and moderates unable to vote for None of the Above, went lesser-evil. Self-delusion ran rampant as placebo voting ruled the day.
by D.A. Weaz
The most remarkable thing about what the future holds for Dubya will be the prospect that he will have far fewer shields for his patent idiocy. For it was quite easy for George to hide behind Congressional Majority leaders of both Houses to offer guidance, support and the "jumpstart the propaganda" sound bytes, allowing the President's own one line regurgitations to have already had a phalanx of pundits and more eloquent speakers translating his one liners into a larger policy. The days of Congressional leaders supporting, rather than challenging, the President's vision are over. And even Rummy, for all of his arrogance, bluster and errant judgment, did actually have proficient command of the English language and a condescending air of authority that hinted that he might know more than what our own lyin' eyes were telling us every day. Rummy is history.
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So it now leaves a handful of translators and apologists. And even these are in disarray. "Shoot a man in the face" Dick Cheney has about the personality and charm of soiled toiletpaper and is one of the few politicans with an even lower approval rating than Dubya's. He is not likely to help. Ken Mehlmann, perhaps after looking like he's aged ten years in two, is rumored to be on the way out. And though Ken was on the dark side, he was smart enough to at least be both likeable and knowledgeable about issues, and yet that didn't stop him from running a clearly racist ad in Tennissee, which, though detestable, wound up winning the Senate seat in the best tradition of race baiting Southern politicians. Ken will be sorely needed, and his loss to the newly needed, kinder, gentler Rethuglican will be catastrophic, thinking about two years out.
So that leaves Condi. Articulate and loved by the media, she has constantly shown that she is incapable of earning the respect of those who matter most: the President and his army of warmongers. She might have more of a chance now that all of the NeoCons jumped off of the President's rotting carcass before yesterday's bloodbath, but there will still be a Dick in the corner office. And getting around that Dick has really be tough for Condi. They apparently don't mix well together.
And yes, there will always be the echoing media. But even these normal Republican doves have started taking shots at the Administration. They will surely try to limit the damage as much as possible, for example still refraining to declare Virginia's Senate race over, though all the votes are counted. But there is only so much spinning you can do, especially when Americans have finally woken up to the fact that our media is ranked #53 worldwide for good reason.
In short, these two years will be even more taxing than the string of disasters that brought George to this place. For now Congressional inquiries will mean that he will finally have to do something that he or his administration haven't had to do in six years: establish that their conduct fell WITHIN the bounds of the law. This will tax the President to no end because the prospect of criminal liability looms. And while he will certainly not be impeached, who can say what will happen if a Democratic President emerges in 2008 and we can explore much more completely the extent of George's criminality. And if then a Justice Department were worthy of its name, George's already historic string of bad luck could get much, much worse.
In the meantime, look to George to put on his most polite manners and congenial, back slapping persona. But this just reveals what a historically pathetic character he is: given a bit of power, he runs power amok, intoxicated with arrogance, infallibility and irreverence. When, however, he is called to account, he will retreat like a sheepish child, and hope a couple chuckles and shy smiles will get him out of the mess that he's made.
He is and has been a national disgrace. Having him explain the actions of his Administration, after stripping him of the wall of spokespeople separating him from reality, should be punishment enough.
But it is not. If Saddam can hang, "serious consequences" should ensue to George.
Maybe not now. But his time will come.
Just like he said: "We ARE a nation of laws."
American and European official and public opinion reactions to Saddam Husseinâ€™s guilty verdict on Sunday artificially removed both the trial and the death sentence out of context and focused instead on â€œflawsâ€ in the legal technicalities of a fair trial and on death penalty as a punishment, which exposed the trial/s in Baghdad as merely another episode in the U.S.-British so far unsuccessful efforts to establish their occupation of Iraq and to develop the current status quo there as the new order.
Saddamâ€™s trials were staged to buy the U.S. and British leaders as well as the rulers of their new Iraq some time for political survival, but the trials needed no time to prove they are counterproductive and will in no way make the conclusion of a farce trial a turning point, a â€œmilestoneâ€ or an end of era as President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki prematurely stated.
Democratsâ€™ crushing victory in the U.S. mid-term election was the latest proof that his administrationâ€™s gimmick of orchestrating trials of Saddam Hussein was a failure that clearly turned the pre-planned verdict against Saddam into a popular verdict against Bush himself, in a referendum on his performance in the war on Iraq that broke his grip on power in Washington by depriving him of ruling with his own Republican party in charge of both houses on Capitol Hill, as he has done for six years.
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by Chris Floyd
Ordinarily, the elevation of a gaggle of corporate bagmen, spine-free time-servers and craven accomplices of tyranny and aggression to the control of Congress would not be a cause for rejoicing. With a few notable exceptions, the Democratic Party has displayed nothing but cowardice and cluelessness over the past five years, betraying the interests of the American people at every single gut-check point in the long march to the self-proclaimed "Unitary Executive" dictatorship of George W. Bush. Whenever it really counted â€“ Supreme Court nominations, tax cuts for the rich, the class-warfare nuclear bomb of the Bankruptcy Bill, the appointment of sleazy, third-rate officials such as torture-enabler and Constitution-gutter Alberto Gonzales to high office, and of course, the eager goose-stepping into the war crime of Iraq (which was, let us remember, approved by a Democratic-controlled Senate) â€“ the Democrats folded, would not even go down fighting.
Is there any greater example of this than the vote, just a few weeks ago, on the "Military Commissions Act," the republic-killing measure that gave the president virtually unlimited, unchecked, unappealable powers over the life and liberty of every citizen? The Democratic "leadership" â€“ now suddenly basking in media lionization â€“ would not even mount a filibuster to defend the Constitution (not to mention the Magna Carta). Many Democrats actually voted in favor of ending the American Republic. (Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee was one of these â€“ and now he has reaped his reward: defeat. That's how it goes, Harold; you can make a deal with the devil, but he'll always cheat you in the end. You sold out the nation for nothing â€“ and now Bob Corker, yet another feckless, faceless, money-grubbing tycoon will pollute the Senate chamber.) The MCA debacle was the last full measure of fear and servility from a group whose collective record is one long tissue of shame.
And yet, and yetâ€¦this is indeed a time â€“ a brief, brief time â€“ for celebration. For the fact remains that the Republican Congress is â€“ as Matt Taibbi has detailed so forcefully â€“ the worst in American history: corrupt, incompetent, dysfunctional, lazy, and ignorant almost beyond measuring. As often mentioned here, they are the very picture of the Roman Senate described by Tiberius, after they'd voted him yet another grovelling set of honors and powers: "Men fit to be slaves." The damage they have done to the nation, and the world, as the bootlicking handmaidens of George W. Bush and his militarist mafia is incalculable, and will go on producing foul repercussions for years, perhaps generations.
By Norman Solomon
Saddam Hussein has received a death sentence for crimes he committed more than a year before Donald Rumsfeld shook his hand in Baghdad. Letâ€™s reach back into history and extract these facts:
* On Dec. 20, 1983, the Washington Post reported that Rumsfeld â€œvisited Iraq in what U.S. officials said was an attempt to bolster the already improving U.S. relations with that country.â€
* Two days later, the New York Times cited a â€œsenior American officialâ€ who â€œsaid that the United States remained ready to establish full diplomatic relations with Iraq and that it was up to the Iraqis.â€
* On March 29, 1984, the Times reported: â€œAmerican diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with relations between Iraq and the United States and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been restored in all but name.â€ Washington had some goodies for Saddamâ€™s regime, the Times account noted, including â€œagricultural-commodity credits totaling $840 million.â€ And while â€œno results of the talks have been announcedâ€ after the Rumsfeld visit to Baghdad three months earlier, â€œWestern European diplomats assume that the United States now exchanges some intelligence on Iran with Iraq.â€
The level of political discourse in these United States has sunken to a level where most people tune it out anymore. There's no surprise there, since most of us have to deal with paying mortgages, childcare and healthcare costs and get exhausted from the guano that the Mouthpiece Media believe is news. For the most part, many have decided the celebrity media figures are talking among themselves and no longer to or for us. The Kerry Flap du Jour is a classic example.
We ask when is the next episode of the television program "Deal or No Deal?" At least there is some excitement to be derived there.
The problem with the Kerry Flap is two-fold.
- It points to how we have made the Military-Industrial Establishment (thank you, President Eisenhower) so sacred that any comment upon its by-products is immediately deemed news. And;
- It speaks to how trivial our definition of "democracy" has become.
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