Thursday, December 22, 2005

At Years End: A slight silver lining

We the People of the United States, especially those of us who cherish our freedom and our political institutions, have endured a terrible year. The compelling evidence that the 2004 Presidential election may have been stolen stands un-refuted, albeit ignored by the mainstream media. The looting of the federal treasury continues, as the nation’s wealth continues to flow from the vast majority who produce that wealth to the minuscule minority that controls and owns that wealth. Education, health care and social services are starved as still more tax cuts are given to those least in need of them: the very rich. Corruption on a scale unrivaled in all our history flourishes as legislation and regulatory relief are purchased in an open market. Our soldiers and innocent Iraqi citizens continue to die in a war that was launched, and is now sustained, on a pack of lies.

And yet, for all this, the republic survives, albeit in critical condition. Recovery is possible, though by no means assured. For at long last, a few of our battered institutions are pushing back.

The criminal justice system to the rescue. While the federal government and the Congress have failed us, the law, in the hands of a few dedicated prosecutors, may be providing what might be the final line of defense of our democracy. The GOP House leader, Tom DeLay, while undisciplined by his Congressional colleagues, has at last been indicted in his home state of Texas. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has nailed “Scooter” Libby, Dick Cheney’s top deputy. Fitzgerald’s work continues, and it is likely that Bush’s “boy genius,” Karl Rove will be the next big fish to be hauled in. Meanwhile, the GOP-lobbyist sleaze coalition is unraveling as Jack Abramoff faces trial, and still more in his criminal syndicate are exposed and indicted. The scandal involves numerous GOP members of Congress – quite possibly, enough to cost the Republicans one or both houses of Congress. These investigations and prosecutions, largely conducted on the state and municipal level, are beyond the reach of the Bushistas. Stay tuned: this could be very big.

The media stirs. The mainstream media are discovering, to their sorrow, that Lincoln was right: you can’t fool all the people all of the time. The decline of media credibility reaches to the top of the industry: the “flagship” newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post. At the Times, Judith Miller’s fables of Saddam’s aluminum tubes and WMDs finally caught up with her, and so the Times has cut her loose. As for the Washington Post, the public is losing patience with Bob Woodward’s Bush-promotion masquerading as “access journalism.”

Right-wing ranting still dominates AM talk radio, as Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, etc. draw up to ten times the audience of the liberal Air America Radio. However, the trend lines are encouraging; the right wingers appear to be losing their audience while the ratings for AAR increase.

The Bush/GOP lock on the corporate media is loosening as a few news-people are beginning to act like real journalists again. Just ask Bush’s Press Secretary Scott McClellan who, at long last, is finally receiving some well-deserved harassment from the White House press corps. And just this week, newspaper editorials from around the country denounced Bush’s domestic spying with an intensity not seen since the Clinton administration.

The American media has a long distance to travel before it recovers its once-renowned independence and objectivity and with it the trust of the public. But at long last, it appears to be moving in the right direction.

The Congress Balks. Throughout Bush’s first term and well into his second the Congress behaved more like The Supreme Soviet than an independent branch of the United States government, (with the exception of a few months of Democratic control of the Senate, following the defection of Vermont’s Republican Senator Jim Jeffords). The Congress has been so accommodating to the President that Bush has never seen fit to take out his veto pen. At long last, the Congress is digging in its heels. First there was the 90-9 vote in the Senate banning the "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of prisoners. Then, just last week, key provisions of the Patriot Act fell victim to the threat of a Democratic filibuster and a failure of the GOP majority to round up the necessary sixty votes to invoke cloture. The formerly iron-clad GOP party discipline has been eroded by the legal troubles of the majority leaders, Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, with presumably still more to be snared by the metastasizing Abramoff scandals. Add to that the clear evidence from the November off-year elections that the voters are fed-up and eager to retire many of the culprits.

At last, the Congress has defied the lame-duck President, and the sky has not fallen on them. Still more declarations of Congressional independence are now conceivable, and thus doable.

The Election fraud issue is finally getting attention. Despite abundant statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial evidence of fraud in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections, the mainstream media has placed a near-total embargo on any mention whatever of the issue of electoral integrity. Amazingly, and disgracefully, most Democratic politicians and liberal publications have joined this silence. Apparently the expectation and hope of all concerned is that the issue, if ignored, would simply go away. Well, it hasn’t. A determined few independent publications and many dedicated internet web sites have kept the issue alive, as public opinion polls have disclosed that a significant minority of voters believe that their votes no longer count – that the election results are simply what the Republican manufacturers and code writers of the e-voting machines want them to be.

Now, at long last, the issue of voting fraud is grabbing public and even media attention. Reports of the unreliability of Diebold’s voting machines have seriously impacted the company’s stock value, leading to the resignation of CEO Walden O’Dell and several other officers. In Florida, Diebold machines failed a “hack test,” wherein the results of a hypothetical election were reversed leaving no evidence that the hack had taken place. An anonymous whistleblower employee of Diebold, dubbed “Dieb-Throat,” has revealed that through an undisclosed “back door” to the machines one person strategically situated can reverse the results of an election. Finally, a report from the respected and non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms the critics’ accusation that electronic voting equipment has severe security and reliability flaws.

As public dissatisfaction with the Bush regime increases and the 2006 election approaches, the public may become every more receptive to the idea that, due to fraud in the past elections, the Bush Administration and even the Republican Congress, have no legitimate claim to power.

READ ON (Fool us twice, can't get fooled again.)


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