"The beast has been hobbled, and though we rightfully take cheer in this, we must remain wary. Any animal handler will tell you that a dangerous animal becomes all the more threatening, when they are wounded. Much like a rottweiler caught in a bear trap, the republican party has gone into full cornered-rat mode, casting about itself in fear, and lashing out in fearful desperation.
In the leadup to the transition to the new congress, the Bush Bowl is faced with their last chance to make their ruinous policies permanent, and we're sure to see the lame-duck session rubberstamping like there's no tomorrow. There's little than can be done about this last-ditch offensive, other than to grin, bear it, and entertain a bit of confidence that when the adults are sworn in on January 3rd, perhaps some of the damage these children have wrought can be repaired.
So, we must keep an eye on the tremendous task before us, as a country.
Firstly: The war
Unfortunately, there are things that even a tremendous swing in the congress cannot solve. The powers of the legislative branch in the realm of foreign affairs are limited, but through their actions, they can force the executive to make changes. Considering that Bush has proven himself incapable to admitting any mistakes, and even less adept at accepting reality, I'm not too hopeful.
The only solution, in light of this, is for the democratic congress to end our involvement in Iraq.
We invaded Iraq on a penny, and now, we're in for a few billion pounds. Our current path in Iraq will only lead to further disaster, and the only solution is a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces, letting the UN and NATO take over the security situation (with both forces invested with the funding, weaponry, and powers necessary to control the situation. Pro-western, secular muslim nations should be given a prominent role in the peacekeeping forces- Pakistan should be sent packing.)
Further, all no-bid Iraqi contracts to US firms must be rescinded, and investigated. Those companies found to have been gouging the american taxpayers should be fined to the tune of at least 75% of their gross earnings, with the money from these fines given over to Iraqi small businesses, with the caveat that the funds will be used to employ Iraqi citizens (The unemployment rate in Iraq is hovering at around 70%- give a guy a job to feed his family, and he's a hell of a lot less likely to volunteer to be a suicide bomber.)
While this is underway, Iraq must be made open to outside investment- this means that Halliburton, KBR, and the rest of the usual suspects need to leave- NOW. A full american divestment from Iraq is necessary, and essential- the american speculators need to be brought home, right alongside the troops.
I'd be remiss, were I not to point out the revolting nature of Rumsfeld's departure: He wasn't removed because he hopelessly bungled the war in Iraq, from day one. He wasn't removed because of the nearly 3000 americans and 650,000 Iraqis he killed. He was only removed, after George Bush found it to be politically expedient. In light of this, one can only assume that Bush would have kept Rumsfeld on, regardless of the death and destruction he certainly would wreak in the future, had the election gone the other way.
This overt politicization of the disaster that Iraq has become is only to be expected, but it's still chilling. What's even more chilling is that Rumsfeld, who is responsible for more horror and death than possibly anyone alive today, might very well walk away, and spend the rest of his days in peaceful retirement.
Fortunately, "Old Europe" has risen to the occasion, and charges have been brought against Rumsfeld in the German courts, and criminal prosecution is set to proceed. The U.S. Government is leaning on the the Germans to put a damper on the case, but it's likely that U.S. efforts to interfere in the German judicial process will just piss them off.
Thirdly: The Neocons
They're down, but not out. In recent days, faced with the reality that their pet project in Iraq has turned sour, they have been making their disapproval public- but not in the way you might imagine...
They claim that the invasion of Iraq was a damned sterling idea, but are lamenting that those amongst their number who executed their glorious plans screwed the pooch.
This is roughly analogous to an architect who designed a 100-story skyscraper built entirely from toothpicks and stale cat turds blaming the builders for using an inferior grade of feline feces. Make no mistake- this neocon "revolt" is an exercise in ass-covering, designed to ensure their ideological survival. They still have designs for a war in Iran, and they have their fingers in a hundred other pies- they're still among us, and we need to remain vigilant...
Much hay has been made about the assertions by Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean that impeachment isn't on the table. Ladies and Gentlemen- this is nothing but politics.
Howard Dean, as chair of the democratic party, is more of a CEO, than a politician. He isn't in charge of the party's agenda- he's just someone who decides how the party is managed. As such, he is not in a position to define the party's programme. Similarly, Nancy Pelosi is making her anti-impeachment statements from her position as leader of the democratic majority in the House- not as a representative.
Putting it plainly: When Dean and Pelosi say that impeachment isn't on the agenda, they're saying so in their capacities as administrators of party apparati, not as legislators. Nancy Pelosi, as leader of the House democrats, might not advance articles of impeachment against Bush, but that doesn't stop John Conyers from doing so.
If impeachment is to succeed, it cannot be seen as an issue closely tied with any one political party- it must be framed not as a partisan issue, but as an issue that transcends party lines (which is the primary reason why the republican-led impeachment of Clinton failed- it was so nakedly partisan, it was doomed from the start.)
Impeachment proceedings against Bush will begin- and when they do, we're going to have to handle this with finesse, rather than the ham-handedness that marked the GOP proceedings against Clinton.
Number 5 : Oversight
In the five days following the election, I've watched Fox "News" quite a bit- The spin has been simultaneously dizzying and downright hilarious. I haven't heard schizophrenia on this level since I listened into short wave broadcasts of Radio Moscow, in the days following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Whenever a democratic politician is interviewed, the Fox talking head invariably leans into the camera, and in level tones tinged with barely-concealed fear, asks the question:
"Will the democratic congress waste the american people's time with endless hearings, second-guessing this administration?"
Once again, the republicans display their ignorance of how our government works. "Second-guessing" the executive branch is the MOST IMPORTANT role that the legislative branch plays. In the next two years, expect to hear endless protestations from the republican party, as they're called to account for their actions...
And #6: KEEP HOPE ALIVE!
In the days following the election, I have spoken with a lot of my liberal friends, and all of them have been very upbeat. I, on the other hand, have been morose and depressed- "Hey- we won!" they say- "We'll see", I reply...
And that's a damned shame...
After four years of seeing every last hope being crushed like a newborn kitten beneath tank treads, I've become more pessimistic than I have ever been, in my life- but then, I got to thinking...
Hope is the lifeblood of human progress. Hope is the unique human emotion that allows us to fight for a better day, no matter the forces arrayed against us. Hope is the ephemeral, yet vital thread that united Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, and Martin Luther King, during their darkest hours in their march towards justice. Hope is the force that sustains Aung San Syoo Ki, Cindy Sheehan, and Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, and millions upon millions of others who are fighting for peace and justice in this world.
I realized that I had let these evil bastards rob me of this essential necessity of life- But no more.
The arc of history is long, but it always has, and always shall, bend towards justice."
There's a reference in there about German and U.S. groups bringing charges against Rumsfeld for the prison abuse scandals. Will someone finally hold the psychotic neocons accountable? Let's hope.
"The revolution's started- it's up to us to make sure it succeeds. - Eric Blumrich
"A State without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation." - Edmund Burke