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."
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€
â€œJust a few days ago the US Treasury rported that the net capital inflows from the rest of the world into the US fell for a 6th month in a row. Private from abroad fell to $34.7 billion in August and from $72.9 billion in July. Asian central banks made up for the shortfall. If they hadnâ€™t the current account deficit would have exploded. The NY Times quoted Ashraf Laidi, a currency analyst at MG Financial Group as saying, â€œforeign central banks saved the dollar from disaster. The stability of the bond market is at thee mercy of Asian purchases of US Treasuries.â€Add a comment
by Dave Lindorff
Here's the way to look at the Election Day outcome: If the U.S. were a parliamentary democracy, Bush would be history. Our self-proclaimed "war president" has lost a vote of confidence, not by the members of his party, but by the people of the United States.
Of course, we don't live in a parliamentary democracy, so weâ€™re still stuck with the same megalomaniacal leader, even though the control of the Congress appears to be passing to the opposition party. (As of this writing, the new House will be firmly in the hands of the Democrats by a bigger margin than the current House is in the hands of Republicans, and the Senate appears headed towards Democratic control also, albeit by the narrowest of margins: 1 Lieberman.)
So the question is: what next?
By Shepherd Bliss
I try not to think about torture. Then I read the following: Vice-President Dick Cheney apparently defends it, a U.S. soldier who objects to interrogation techniques commits suicide, articles with titles like â€œTortureâ€™s Not So Bad, If Itâ€™s Done for a War Worth Fighting,â€ and Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet was recently arrested and charged with torture.
Feelings about close friends tortured over thirty years ago in Chile rush in. Unfortunately, my experiences with U.S.-supported torture have been quite direct and specific.
To most people, torture is just an idea, probably abstract and distant. Not to me. Hearing the word, I feel, rather than think. I rememberâ€¦a sharp pain rises in my stomach.
by Mickey Z
The coast-to-coast mall known as America just loves to sing the praises of its revolutionary heroes-the land-owning white slaveholders affectionately called "Founding Fathers." But America, the land of denial, would rather ignore the revolutionary roots and spirit behind its birth. In other words, if pamphleteer Tom Paine were around today, well, he might not be around today. Can you say "enemy combatant"?
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We are often told actions speak louder than words but the life of Thomas Paine (1737-1809) tells a different story. Born in England, Paine eventually found a home as resident radical in the Colonies. His mutinous pamphlet, "Common Sense," was written anonymously, published in January 1776, and promptly read by every single member of Congress.
Time out: Every member of Congress read "Common Sense" (Insert your own punch line here).
As the dominant corporate media in the US made sure
everyone in the country would know just ahead of the
mid-term congressional elections here, Saddam Hussein
was convicted of crimes against humanity on November 5
for his involvement in the killing of 148 Shia men in
al-Dujail village after a failed assassination attempt
against him there in 1982. The Supreme Iraqi Criminal
(Hanging Court) Tribunal (SICT) sentenced him to death
by hanging, subject to appeal that's automatic and pro
forma. It won't save him from a very sore neck as
long as the Bush administration has the final say,
which it does despite international law or whatever
passes for it in Iraq where the law is what the US
occupier says it is. The sentence must be carried out
within 30 days after all appeals are exhausted and the
death sentence is ratified by Iraq's nominal president
and two vice-presidents who have no authority and take
their orders from US Ambassador and proconsul Zalmay
Khalilzad who takes his orders from Washington.
While few villains are more worthy than the man called the Butcher of Baghdad for whatever fate might befall him, not even a former dictator of his "stature" should have to answer for his crimes before an illegal tribunal established by an occupying power that has no authority under international law. The fact that the trial proceeded this way delegitimized the entire judicial process and in the eyes of independent jurists renders the verdict void and unrecognized.