Thursday, October 26, 2006

How Will They Steal It This Time?

All right, as we enter the scary season (no, not Halloween, but the breathlessly anticipating the election shenanigansof Rove-Diebold-Bush), it is time to announce that the political lamp is again lit.

First, some items that were noted down at the comment level, but that folks may not have seen mentioned here at the top layer, in their RSS feed.
“Keith Olbermann is just on fire: channeling Ed Murrow.“ I agree with Stefan. This is the BEST thing from our side (the side of the Enlightenment and the American Experiment) in six years. I have waited so long for an alpha -- a real alpha -- to step forward who can denounce the rascals as thoroughly and rightly as Olbermann does.

Above all, it takes much more than passion and indignation (which Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore have in copious supply) or even evidence. What it takes is intellectual caliber and overwhelming maturity -- which they just as evidently lacked... but which Olbermann supplies in truckloads, along with more than adequate gravitas. People who ignore this would as easily have shrugged at Zola, during the Dreyfus affair.

* The president says the war in Iraq will be "just a comma" in history books, but by Nov. 26, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, with the Study Group's recommendations due, the comma will have lasted as long as U.S. involvement in World War II. Ponder that. Similar numbers died on 9/11 and at Pearl Harbor. Only after Pearl, the rich united with all other classes, helping pay to win a victory that left us a world titan, standing atop smoldering enemy despotisms.

Today, our alliances, popularity, internal cohesion, credit and finances, and (above all) our readiness for new emergencies... have all plummeted to levels that only our worst enemies would have wished upon us.

* The current military expenditures in the Iraq war are about to exceed those of the Korean war to make it the third costliest war in US history after World War II and the Vietnam War. On an inflation adjusted basis. What could we have done with a trillion dollars? To strengthen us is ways that would have left all foes in a cloud of dust? (According to nicholas d. Kristof.)

For every additional second we stay in Iraq , we taxpayers (ah, but not the New Lords) will end up paying an additional $6,300. In the run-up to the Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld estimated that the overall cost would be under $50 billion. Paul Wolfowitz argued that Iraq could use its oil to “finance its own reconstruction.” In science, relentless failure of prediction causes either re-evaluation of the theory, or discrediting of the theorist.

Since these are dogmatic men who will never re-evaluate, clearly they must be discredited.

*Bill Maher had a good take on the right-wing “think tanks” that helped get us into this disastrous war:

Maher: And finally, I propose a new rule in two parts:
(A) You can't call yourself a think tank if all your ideas are stupid; and
(B) If you're someone from one of these think tanks that dreamed up the Iraq War and who predicted that we'd be greeted as liberators, and that we wouldn't need a lot of troops, and that Iraqi oil would pay for the war, that the WMD's would be found, that the looting wasn't problematic, that the mission was accomplished, that the insurgency was in its last throes, that things would get better after the people voted, after the government was formed, after we got Saddam, after we got his kids, after we got Zarqawi, and that whole bloody mess wouldn't turn into a civil war, you have to stop making predictions.


Finally, there is this rumination, pulled upward from yesterday’s comments...

Russ Daggatt is savoring the likelihood that President George W. Bush is about to be the "lamest of lame ducks" after mid-term electoral reversals, without influence even within his own party. (Well, he did predict optimistic changes in 2004, too. Alas.)

In fact, regarding duck-lamedness, I beg to differ. In fact, Bush will have four more cards in his hand, after the elections, that will keep him a force to be reckoned-with.

First the inherent powers of executive department management. This will (for example) allow him to continue signing "emergency" exceptions to contract vetting rules. This has been a primary method of graft for 6 years and it requires no legislation. Dems in Congress would have to act assertively in BOTH houses to prevent this.

Second, we all fear his control over defense and foreign policy could "go nuts". Nuff said.

Third, there is the scenario of Cheney resigning in order to give W a new Veep... who would then be the GOP heir apparent. W's power to appoint this fellow makes him an overwhelmingly potent kingmaker.

But card number four is the biggest reason the GOP must continue kneeling to Bush. Presidential pardons. He can dish these 'get out of jail free' cards like Halloween candy. According to whim. (Especially if he does the unprecedented and issues one to himself!) There are scads/hordes who will be needing these Escape Justice Certificates, and they will do whatever it takes to get one.

It is not too soon for the dems to be contemplating maneuvers to limit this final betrayal of justice. Unless some of THEM are also standing in line?


Anonymous said...

One of the greatest risks facing this country is the apathy of voters and of Americans in general. By ignoring the paths this country is taking, it allows the Neocons and others who would seize control of this nation and use it for their own selfish purposes to inflict the desires of a united minority upon the lives of a fractured majority.

Niemöller wrote a classic poem often quoted and rewritten by whoever wants to utilize it... "When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; after all I was not a communist...."

It's a telling and true tale. People don't speak up because they feel they're not at risk or because they don't want to attract attention to themselves. But some have learned this lesson. People are speaking up. Aleph of the webcomic Malakhim wrote a couple telling pieces; one about how new laws in place allowing people who "act unnaturally" will impact against autistics who are literally unable to interact the same way as "NT"'s. Aleph's Oct. 11th commentary links a USA Today newsstory about the "behavior patterns" of the terrorists. The truth be told, however, plenty of cultures have cultural behaviors which make looking someone in the eye something to be avoided (that when you do this, you challenge them) (so it's not just Autistics who will be affected).

Likewise, Jennifer Reitz's forum has an active and vibrant community discussing politics in this country and abroad. One rather interesting (and controversial, in my eyes) posting suggests that Saddam Hussein should be released from jail and put back in power; that he is the one person who could unite his country and end the chaos going on there. Her further comments suggest that a good part of the Iraqi war and why it's continued to this day is to stop an economic collapse brought about by the Bush Administration and the Neocons ravaging of our economy.

(I like Jennifer a lot. She's talented and brilliant. But sometimes I think she lets her imagination run away from her a wee bit... she tends towards believing in conspiracies more than I think an intelligent person should... and clings to her beliefs in those theories even in the face of evidence suggesting she's wrong.)

America is waking up, blog-site by blog-site, forum-by-forum, website-by-website. Americans are starting to realize that Bush is wrong... and that he needs to be stopped. We'll see if he's stopped come elections. If enough Democrats get into power... who knows. Perhaps we'll have a second president in a row impeached. Or at the very least censored.

Rob H., Tangents

Anonymous said...

By my count, the Republicans will be defending 21 Senate seats in 2008, the Democrats only 12.

Next time is the Big One.

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that if congress can strip us of our right to habeus corpus then they can also strip the president of his right to use those get out of jail free cards.

Tony Fisk said...

One place to watch them 'steal it' is

How can this be too close to call?

Rob Perkins said...

Olbermann is the brightest and best-organized of all the commentators I've seen. He makes efforts to connect his stuff with history. He builds cases for his rants.

But he's no Murrow, for the basic reason that while they *are* well-organized, historically connected masterworks of prose, the fact remains that while Murrow (who is a historical figure to me, and not a contemporary, so take it for what it's worth) seemed much staid and confident in his facts, more willing to let the facts speak nearly for themselves, Olbermann simply doesn't. I've caught him stretching the case in every clip I've watched. Nine hard facts and one fallacy. Every time.

(Bully for him calling out Limbaugh, tho.)

He's plies his trade in an environment where there is no significant possibility that he will lose his job or his voice; significant and powerful factions of the Congress would not stand for it. Nothing today like the witchhunt hearings of Murrow's day exist.

And Olbermann, rather than broadcasting fact and having a tagline, scolds like an angry father. And you're left with the feeling that, like an angry father, he's *this* close to massively irrational strongman behavior. Barking "good night and good luck" doesn't make you a channeler of Murrow.

Thus, his barking seems to his opposites not as a some kind of shining beacon of rightness. He might be on the side of turning out the Republicans, but he paints with far too broad a brush, and slips in all the right shibboleths for the Right to simply ignore him. Even the Goldwater Republicans. He might be helping Bush to win, precisely because he is *too* angry-Dad for Bush's casual supporters to believe him.

Perhaps some of you believe that what Bush needs is an angry father. Heh! You're probably right! But let's not pretend he's on the side of Brin-modernism. The farthest I'll go is that he's tactically useful.

People who ignore this would as easily have shrugged at Zola, during the Dreyfus affair.

The wha? Oh, wiki is my friend. Then again Zola made the injustice popular, standing on the shoulders of others who made it clear it was injustice.

I confess to shrugging. There isn't much I can do where I am which isn't already being done. In any case, with an audience of 400,000 compared to O'Reilly's 2.2 million, and compared to Limbaugh's 20 million or so, Olbermann is *not* reaching the people who need to hear his words. He's only reaching David. And Stefan.

Well, OK, there is. I can talk to precinct captains. Which I did yesterday and two weeks ago!

Anonymous said...

We've heard here earlier about the possibility of an "October Surprise" shortly before the midterm elections, that might rally some of Bush's more skeptical, now-wavering supporters.

Could the North Korean nuclear tests be it?

Anonymous said...

I don't think the NK nuke tests qualify. Seems to me it was barely a blip on the radar, and Bush's numbers (and that of the GOP) have not improved. After all, it was on Bush's watch.

Anonymous said...

October Surprise? More like a November surprise: Local radio program says they'll announce the verdict in Saddam's trial November 5th.

Now, would it be better for The Party In Power for Saddam to be found guilty, or not guilty?

Anonymous said...

How will they steal this one? I certainly hope they don't, but there are far too many ways they could.

I've mentioned this before, but in addition to (mentioned by tony fisk), is a critical source for news and discussion of all the problems involved in electronic voting.

Most people seem to be worried primarily about hacking of voting machines so that votes are 'flipped' or miscounted, but that's actually the hardest way to affect an election with electronic voting machines.

You see, the vast majority of these machines do not produce any paper trail....

That fact is obviously a problem if the concern is executing some form of recount when hacking or whatnot has been alleged, but it also means an election can be thrown into chaos simply by introducing doubt about the integrity of the machines.

What should election supervisors do with the votes tallied on a memory card in a voting machine whose security seal is damaged?

Think about it for a minute.

That's right, you don't have to hack the machines, all you have to do is make it look like a few machines in precincts that vote heavily one way or the other have tampered with....

Kevin Crady said...

While I'm skeptical of the Saudi Royal Conspiracy Theory explanation for the neocon destruction of the U.S. (mainly because I think it's more advantageous for the Saudi Royals to have their own Pet Superpower/#1 Customer than for them to have America in ruins), and time seems to be running out for an "October Surprise," a course of action for the Forces of Darkness has occurred to me...

From the perspective of the New Lords, President Bush has become a liability. He is now the poster-boy for incompetence, ineptitude, and willful ignorance.

He definitely has a major "negative coattails" effect for the upcoming elections, and he is far from the "man on a white horse" Ubermench it would take to fully consolidate power and "sweep away" the last remnants of the Old Republic. Instead, he has become a millstone around the Empire's neck. If you're the New Lord cabal, what do you do?

The highly controversial film "Death of a President" is slated to be released (as I recall) on Nov. 5th, shortly before the elections. This film posits an assassination of George Bush in 2007, resulting in a neocon dictatorship, the end of civil liberties, etc.

Naturally, the film has excited howls of outrage, especially from the Republicans. But put yourself in the place of the New Lords. From their perspective, Bush has earned a dismissal, Darth Vader style.

So here's the scenario: the New Lords "arrange" an end to Bush's term just before the elections. The "Left" (and hence the Democrat opposition) is blamed, since the dirty deed was "obviously" inspired by the far-left film.

As Darth Cheney takes over the Imperial throne, Bush is instantly converted into a martyr. Assuming the elections aren't cancelled or suspended, they would take place amidst the pomp and ceremony of a Presidential funeral and a "new 9/11" with "the Left" (i.e. any opposition to the neocons, even "Old Rightists," libertarians, etc.) demonstrably revealed as Enemies of America.

No election fraud would be necessary. Even if the Democrats win in landslides (they probably wouldn't), they would be too cowed to start launching fusillades of subpoenas and investigations. If anything, they would have to try to be "better neocons than the neocons," at least until they are so fully invested in the Empire that they could not turn against it.

Since neither the public nor the media would expect neocon election-stealers to whack "their guy in the White House," the neocons would be absolved of suspicion. Unlike a conveniently-timed war on Iran (which could easily backfire, as even neocons must now know) or a Diebold election, this "Surprise" scenario does not leave them under a cloud of political illegitimacy.

Darth Cheney would be left in the "kingmaker position" Dr. Brin describes, with a vast flow of media sympathy (and antipathy for his opponents), a cowed Democratic opposition, and a free hand to act unopposed until his chosen successor takes power.

The Military Commissions Act could then be put into mass practice, and "traitors" like Keith Olberman (and the rest of us) would be on our way to waterboards in Gitmo or Eastern Europe. The New Lords would have the perfect pretext for consolidating permanent power.

It seems to me that this would work so well that the New Lords would almost be crazy not to do it...unless they have nothing to fear from a Democratic Congress. A nice, orderly transfer of power to the Democrats could be a dire portent in its own right, virtual proof that the Democratic Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New Lords' big-corporate machine.

I think this latter is probably the more likely scenario. I can't say I've been listening to lots of Democratic speeches and so forth, but I don't know of any ironclad promises by Democrats to repeal the Military Commissions Act, the PATRIOT Act, legislate a decisive end to the Imperial Presidency (no more "signing statement vetoes" etc.), an end to torture, no-bid contracts, Permanent War, and so forth.

I watched a recent Kerry speech to Democrats in New Jersey. He did rail against the MCA, but he didn't promise a Democratic Congress would repeal it. Instead, he touted a health care plan and a raise in the minimum wage.

Sure, some kind of "national health care" might be a good idea (or not), but seriously, our country and our world are in crisis. President Bush, like President Hindenburg of the Weimar Republic, has bumbled about laying the groundwork for dictatorship, while the polar ice sheets have started to melt and warming permafrost threatens to unleash runaway global warming, and Peak Oil threatens to cripple the entire global economy...

And the best the Dhimmicrats can do is promise hikes in the minimum wage and a health care plan? Oh boy, goodies!!! >jumps up and down clapping<

Frankly, if the Dhimmicrats were inclined to seriously oppose the neocon agenda, they would have been scouring the length and breadth of the land for revolutionary ideas like Dr. Brin's. They'd have beat a path do his door.

Instead, as far as I can tell, they're still in "politics-as-usual" mode, speaking in sound-bite bromides ("we need to take America back" "we need to give America a raise" "Every American child ought to have health care") instead of staging a political revolution.

Which means (to me): They aren't that unhappy with the way things are. They're probably hoping to inherit all those shiny new Presidential Powers in 2008. That's right, Republicans--soon they'll be Hillary's secret prisons! Not to mention the endless opportunities for no-bid contract graft, etc. for their campaign donors.

The best strategy for the New Lords is to own both "sides" of the aisle and gradually establish their Class Privilege without any coups, (too-)blatant election fraud, October/November Surprises or other Shocks To The System.

I hope I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that Bush is such a disappointment to the "New Lords," p.t.

"Unearned" income is only taxed at 15% these days.

And these guys tend to make their money on the leading edge of law, technology, enforcement and trade...

The government continues to be extremely slow closing up the loopholes where they make their real money...and any charges leveled against them tend to be minor if they are ever brought at all.

An interesting piece from Fortune that's causing a mild stir on economic blogs over the past few days:

It seems Americans whose income puts them in the "lower" part of the top 1% of money earners are even starting to resent the "New Lords."

Probably too late...most of the money is already in offshore accounts or invested in China.

David Brin said...

PT, great posting and thought provoking. As it happens, I do think you are wrong. I believe that the Democratic Party is the large large institution in the US that is still dominated by its modernist progressives. Even Hillary, as polarizing as she is, can shrug off all accusations of being some radical monster. Yes, she torched her husband’s presidency with an overly-ambitious (instead of incremental) health care bill. But big deal. The crux: there is absolutely no evidence that the Dems as a party are even remotely comparable to today’s GOP. Or leeser-of-evils.

Oh, sure, there are dangerous scenarios, with a looming left that is always worthy of a skeptical glance, even while we must ally with them to save the world. Hence my fervent prayer that the Democrat surge will be LED by moderates like the retired vets of the "Fighting Democrats". If one of these is near you, give him or her all you've got! If they lead the charge, it will set the tone. Centrist Dems slaying the monsters. And the Left will only be able to take the modest credit that they actually deserve.

I expect you will be pleasantly surprised by some of the neocon horros that get outlawed, if they get the chance.

Alas, you are also right that worrisome things have been happening across the spectrum. When the Dems have Congress, firehoses of money will stream at them. Hence the reforms I recommend at:

Worse, I fear something vastly deeper than corruption. For if *I* were an evil mega-zillionaire alpha controller, I would only use bribery as an entry wedge... in order to switch over to blackmail.

It is far more controlling. More powerful by far. Harder to track.

Someday, I must pen an "Open letter to politicians who are being blackmailed" -- offering this basic solace. "You are probably not alone!" More than likely half of your pals are under the thumb, by now.

Anyway, try taking a longer view. You can turn the tables, if you are careful. America will reward the first few to courageously do so. You know that, deep down.

Anyway, aren't you a patriot? Are you so much less a man than your forebears, that you cannot stand up to your country's enemies, when the chips are down? They suffered and died. All you have to do is stand up. I promise; this citizen will appreciate and remember your courage. Many other will.

(And if my sci-fi-quasi-paranoid attacks on a certain "house" weren't enough to get me accidented or poisoned, will this do it? Hey, I just spin scenarios. I do it for a living. Hire me for the right fee and I'll spin some for you!)

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

Give or take, each member of Congress doles out about $6 billion a year in government money.

And lobbyists spend about $8 million a year trying to influence each member of Congress.

Unless these numbers change somehow, I don't think the Democrats will be able to resist corruption.

If you were in a deal like this...would you voluntarily change it?

David Brin said...

Yes, I would. And some will try.

Those who are capable of genuine patriotism. Instead of the other kind, which consists (essentially) of masturbating at the flag.

Real patriots see what's unusually great about their country and fight for it. They contemplate the possibility that their own "side" can go mad, especially when all (all!) evidence shows that it is being harmed. Harmed by your own friends. THAT's when it takes real courage...

But we've covered this before.

Anonymous said...

Mabye it's just a generational thing, or maybe it's because I'm quite a bit left of the center-right Democrats, but every time I see people going "Ohnoes! Lefties!" mostly to appear "serious" or "moderate", I just shake my head. There's no "crazy lefties" I'm scared of, and even if there are some worth worrying about, they're the fring of the fringe, while the Republican's crazies are mainstream, like Limbaugh.

But there were two main things I wanted to post about. The first is This article over at The New Republic, about income inequality and things that kinda match up with the New Lords. Unfortunately, it's behind a stupid login screen, so try Bug Me Not for a login somebody else decided to share. But I'll quote a bit here.

"This seems to run in the face of economic theory. If workers grow more productive, logic suggests, they're making more money for their employers, which means businesses will find it profitable to hire more of them. The more workers get hired, the more businesses have to bid up their price to hire them, which means that their wages will rise. Yet that final step is not happening. The vast new wealth being created by U.S. business is going to owners of capital and nobody else."

And the real kicker: "Put simply, the fortunes of the very rich and the fortunes of everybody else have been diverging sharply. Over the last quarter century, the portion of the national income accruing to the richest 1 percent of Americans has doubled. The share going to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent has tripled, and the share going to the richest one-hundredth of 1 percent has quadrupled."

"If, on the other hand, you reject the theory of skill-biased technological change, you are left with an altogether more discomfiting explanation. Rising inequality must not be the logical outcome of the free market, the invisible hand working its magic. Instead, it must reflect the rising social, economic, or political power of the rich."

The whole thing's really worth reading, as it summarizes a bunch of the stuff going on right now.

And remember, it's not class warfare until the poor start shooting back.

Anonymous said...

And I got distracted from my second point, which was that I saw the paper copy of "Worldchanging: The Book" at B&N today, and it's a very pretty (and rather expensive) book, and Dr. Brin's name is on the back in the list of authors, in fairly large letters, which was neat to see.

reason said...

re politicians being blackmailed - the guy I wonder about is Cheney. If he is not being blackmailed then why is he putting his head on the block for Halliburton. I have seen it documented that he has no more financial ties to them, SO WHY ARE THEY BEING SO BLATANTLY FAVOURISED.

Anonymous said...


Direct financial ties is only a part of the picture. Since the man had been an integral part of the operation of Haliburton it seems quite obvious to me that he still has plenty of friends there. Especially when you are talking about that level in the business world those "friendships" mean a whole heck of a lot! They mean a lot of "You scratch my back, I'll scratch Yours" kinds of backroom deals that will help keep the money flowing in the hands of the well connected.

He doesn't have to directly have a financial connection to Haliburton to ensure his own future financial success by keeping close ties with his friends over there.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there is no need to have to directly a financial connection to Haliburton to ensure his own future financial success.There is a need to check for kids financial issues and resources particularly.