Monday, October 31, 2005

Daily Kos: The showdown finally arrives

One of the most unusual and interesting political storms of the last generation was the fight over the appointment of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. The hearings were televised, the nation riveted. The appointment of Alito has the potential for that kind of political drama.

Daily Kos: The showdown finally arrives: "This is a gift to Democrats. Katrina, massive budget deficits, and continued economic hardship have proven that Republicans can't govern. Iraq and Osama Bin Laden have proven that Republicans can't run an effective foreign policy. Now Scalito, along with Bush's social security debacle, will prove to the American people that conservative ideology doesn't have their best interests at heart.

Let the debate begin."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Funds Fade, Deaths Rise and Iraq Rebuilding Is Spotty - New York Times

Funds Fade, Deaths Rise and Iraq Rebuilding Is Spotty - New York Times: "As the money runs out on the $30 billion American-financed reconstruction of Iraq, the officials in charge cannot say how many planned projects they will complete, and there is no clear source for hundreds of millions of dollars a year needed to operate the projects that have been finished, according to a report to Congress released yesterday.

"The report, by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, describes some progress but also an array of projects that have gone awry, sometimes astonishingly, like electrical substations that were built at great cost but never connected to the country's electrical grid.

"With more than 93 percent of the American money now committed to specific projects, it could become increasingly difficult to solve those problems."

Iraq has been lost, due to the incompetence and corruption of the Bush reconstruction program. It is, in effect, a dead man walking. The storm is Iraq is still waiting out there, still waiting to blow into American politics.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Daily Kos: State of the Nation

Daily Kos: State of the Nation: "What to expect now? In my opinion, a Wingnut Judge with a long resume.

"Get ready for war."

The Perfect Political Storm appears to have arrived and is spawning smaller storms on a weekly basis. A bruising battle, featuring a radical right S.C. nominee, and the possibility of a Democratic filibuster of the same, would be pretty dramatic.

Loss in Iraq

Loss in Iraq: "There are no easy solutions to these problems, nor is there a quick way to end American losses. In fact, one of the greatest dangers of Iraq is that domestic disenchantment with the mission will lead to a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops, a step that would greatly increase the carnage and hand a major victory to this country's foremost enemy, the Islamic extremist movement headed by al Qaeda. "

While liberals are beating up on liberal hawks for supporting the war and, in the words of the Washington Post, "glibly" describing Iraq as a catastrophe, the Right is building a meme, which will allow them to blame the Left, for forcing a withdrawal from Iraq.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bush Aides Brace for Charges

Bush Aides Brace for Charges: "officials are bracing for the kind of political tsunami that ... could change this presidency's course."

Tomorrow is Fitzmas and that makes tonite, Fitzmas Eve.

The danger to this administration is that, however narrow the indictments and charges, the controversy serves to highlight the effort by Cheney and his aides to lie the country into a war, which most Americans now regard as unwise.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Oh Yes, There Will Be Blood

The Blogging of the President: "Oh Yes, There Will Be Blood" Stirling Newbery is a national treasure with a very broad view of events. His thesis has been that American history divides fairly neatly into eras, and we are at the end of such an era, the era of cheap oil, if you will. The American people chose badly when they chose Nixon, and began the conservative ascendancy, and when they chose Nixon, they chose to ignore the implications of the end of cheap oil, to squander their patrimony on SUVs and other forms of self-indulgence.

Blood, says Stirling: "that is what the next two years have in store. The question is who is at the table, and who is on it.

While ma[n]y are dancing with joy over 'Fitzmas' - an event that would not have been possible without constant pressure on the media and the government from non-traditional sources - the larger blood letting is going to go on in the waves of layoffs and downsizing moves that the automotive and airline industry are due for."

Friday, October 21, 2005

Kevin Drum

The Washington Monthly: "Will the White House be ruined if Karl Rove leaves? If it is, there was nothing there to be ruined in the first place."


Norm Ornstein: : "Americans all have to consider the implications now of a worst case scenario-- the problems of scandal and polarization result in a meltdown of the W. Administration and a collapse of governance in Washington. No Doubt some hard core partisans and ideologues would exult. But with the domestic and foreign policy challenges the country faces, it would be a disaster for all of us.

We are in the same boat, and if it is rudderless, we all sink. "

Norm goes on to suggest that W. resign in favor of his father, former Prez, George H. W. Bush, who, in turn should appoint Bill Clinton as his V-P in a kind of national unity gov't, I guess. I cannot tell if he is joking.

Two points, which seem to have escaped Norm's notice:

1.) W.'s administration has already been a disaster: Worst President Ever (TM)!

2.) Rudderless ships don't sink, at least not until they run into something.

W. has been aiming for the rocks, and shouting "full steam ahead". Having his hand off the rudder and cutting off communication with the engine room might be an improvement.

The Constitution actually outlines a government in which Congress is the dominant player. The Republic managed to survive many, many years with weak Presidents, because Congress was powerful.

The way to survive 3 years of W., is to revive the Congress. A Democratic Congress, elected in 2006, will run over W., and that might be an excellent precedent.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hullabaloo asks: How long?

There is a rumor that Cheney may do a Spiro Agnew (i.e. resign), which would give Bush an opportunity to name a V-P, before, in turn, resigning.

Digby asks:

Hullabaloo: "If Condi becomes the Veep, how many hours/weeks/months/hours will it take for Bush to resign, Condi to become president, and all the Democratic hopes for a weak opponent in 2008 to be dashed?"

It has long been my view that the Republican powers-that-be would sooner lose Bush, than put up with his Hooverization. I frankly imagine that it might be a bit bloodier than this scenario, but the first step down that road is for Cheney to resign. Cheney should resign for being a lying crook, but he has the option of resigning for reasons of ill health. (He did make around $7 million last year, on his Halliburton options; so, he will be able to spend his last, sick months on the earth in style.) Either way, Bush then gets to appoint a successor. Whether Bush is smart enough to realize that he will be appointing his own successor, as well as Cheney's, I don't much care.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Presstitutes: The Sound Of A Tornado - How Bush Could Rebound

Presstitutes: The Sound Of A Tornado - How Bush Could Rebound: "Bush is 'likable.' Bush is 'religious.' Bush is 'resolute.' Bush is 'plain-spoken.' 'Al Gore invented the Internet.' John Kerry is a 'flip-flopper.' The media is 'liberal.'

"Through a self-reinforcing loop, the media can turn talking points into accepted, unconsciously-repeated facts. Inject the meme into the national bloodstream, repeat it endlessly, have ordinary citizens repeat it to the press, use these statements from the public as evidence of truth and as a means to convince other members of the public that the talking point is factual. And so on.

"Bush's opponents may be lulled into believing that his dismal poll numbers are evidence of his political demise, but Pre$$titutes have perfected the art of inserting pro-Bush and anti-Democratic memes into the public psyche, and that well-honed ability to create and solidify pro-Bush narratives suggests that his political fortunes could turn on a dime. . .

"Yes, there is a dawning realization among more and more Americans that 'Bush the resolute leader' is a figment of Pre$$titutes' imagination, that his presidency is a sham. But it's dangerous to underestimate the power of the media to drive home a narrative, and if they get an opening, a polling uptick, an event that can be spun in his favor, his fortunes could change dramatically."

The hope that a perfect storm -- really, the manifest consequences of insanely stupid and destructive policies -- could sweep Bush away depends delicately on the power of narrative. It is not the fact that policies have consequences, which matters so much, as that narratives identify good guys and bad guys, "cause and effect", etc. It is a sequence of events, spun into a persuasive narrative, which, dramatically, has political consequences, by attaching meaning and a moral lesson to those events.

Pressitutes reminds us that the corporate right-wing media is the corporate right-wing media -- they are an institutional enemy of rationality, liberalism and all that is right and just in America, and they are not likely to be swept away by any political storm. Instead, they make the weather, so to speak. The narratives of the coming political storm will be fabricated by the corporate right-wing media, and it is wrong to expect too much of those narratives.

Democrats need to realize that liberalism, to survive and prosper, must make the total and immediate destruction of the corporate, right-wing media an immediate priority. Democrats will be brought to power, however briefly, by Bush's incompetence. They may be made impotent in power by some combination of the corporate right-wing media and Bush's authoritarian Supreme Court. Serious Democrats need to think about what to do, about the Supreme Court (and the Judiciary, more broadly) and what to do about corporate media (cable news, Sinclair Broadcasting, Clear Channel, Infinity and the rest).

Friday, October 7, 2005

CBS News | Poll: Bush Ratings Hit New Low | October 6, 2005 22:30:04

CBS News | Poll: Bush Ratings Hit New Low | October 6, 2005 22:30:04: "This CBS News Poll finds an American public increasingly pessimistic about the economy, the war in Iraq, the overall direction of the country, and the President. Americans' outlook for the economy is the worst it has been in four years. Most expect the price of gas to rise even further in the next few months. . .

"The public's concerns affect their view of the state of the country. 69 percent of Americans say things in the U.S. are pretty seriously off on the wrong track — the highest number since CBS News started asking the question in 1983. Today, just 26 percent say things are going in the right direction. . .

"President Bush's job approval rating has fallen to his lowest rating ever. 37 percent now approve of the job he is doing as president, while 58 percent disapprove. Those in his own party are still overwhelmingly positive about his performance (nearly 80 percent approve), but the president receives little support from either Democrats or Independents. And while views of President Bush have lately not changed much among Republicans or Democrats, his approval rating among Independents has dropped 11 points since just last month, from 40 percent to 29 percent now.

The leading edge of the Perfect Storm has made landfall, I think. It is interesting that Republicans continue to approve of his performance. Kool-Aid, anyone?

When Republicans turn against him, that will be the beginning of the end. Some leading pundits have attacked him over Katrina and now Miers. This will be interesting.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Whiskey Bar: Back to the Future

Whiskey Bar: Back to the Future: "If this were October 2006 instead of October 2005, I'd say the Republicans could kiss their House and Senate majorities goodbye, gerrymander or no gerrymander. But of course it's not, and it's also hard to imagine that the next 12 months are going to be another uninterrupted chain of disasters. On the other hand, with this gang in power, you never know."

Oh, Billmon of little faith. This is just the leading edge of the perfect storm.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

TPMCafe || Gore on the Threat to American Democracy

TPMCafe || Gore on the Threat to American Democracy: ". . . the purpose of television news is no longer to inform the American people or serve the public interest. It is to 'glue eyeballs to the screen' in order to build ratings and sell advertising. If you have any doubt, just look at what's on: The Robert Blake trial. The Laci Peterson tragedy. The Michael Jackson trial. The Runaway Bride. The search in Aruba. The latest twist in various celebrity couplings, and on and on and on.

"And more importantly, notice what is not on: the global climate crisis, the nation's fiscal catastrophe, the hollowing out of America's industrial base, and a long list of other serious public questions that need to be addressed by the American people. . . .

"And it really matters because the subjugation of news by entertainment seriously harms our democracy: it leads to dysfunctional journalism that fails to inform the people. And when the people are not informed, they cannot hold government accountable when it is incompetent, corrupt, or both."

In other words, what if the political storm comes, and it isn't televised? Institutional structures in media ownership and control may have given us George W. Bush and no way to overcome.

The Power of the Court

The Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr shares with us the perspective of a former Bush White House lawyer and now lobbyist, Reginald Brown: "This is a man who almost lost the Presidency because of the liberal activism of the Florida Supreme Court. He understands full well the power of the Court and has been serious about his appointments in the past."

We can hope a political storm is coming, but, hope or not, the Republicans are building a fascist state, brick by brick.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Stirling Newbery prophesies!

Daily Kos: Stirling Newbery: "For those hoping that things will get better in the US after 2006, I have a simple message.

Wake up."

energy costs soar

Reuters AlertNet - Bush to push Americans to cut energy use as costs soar: "For consumers who warm their homes with natural gas, their winter costs would be 52 percent higher nationally from last year, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The Energy Department's analytical arm forecast heating oil expenses would rise 34 percent and electricity bills would be up 11 percent."

Billmon explains how the coming political storm may serve to consolidate the fascist state

Billmon: "If the overall direction of the system -- the political zeitgeist -- is towards greater corporate power and the decline of social democratic institutions and values (and that is the current trend in all of the major industrial countries) then scandal may only quicken the march, both by breaking up the existing centrist order and by setting the left up to fail if it manages to ride the backlash back into power. Even epic corruption scandals don't by themselves create the conditions for a successful revival of left politics. In fact they may do just the opposite."