Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The list, cont.

I'm continuing and condensing the list I started earlier. So far, we have:

1. Abu Ghraib/GITMO investigations
2. The CIA's 9/11 report
3. Valerie Plame
4. Iraq -- many variations; see below
5. Texas re-districting/Delay subpoenas
6. Indian Gambling hearings in the Senate

Let's add a few, and then I'll lovingly polish the brighter gems to a high gloss of potential scandal.

Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly wants us to watch

7. The Senate Intelligence Committee's second report, concerning political responsibility for prewar intelligence failures.
8. The pending resignations of several Supreme Court justices (and subsequent appointment battles in the Senate).

An astute reader of the Austin Chronicle also brings up some good items:

9. Next al Qaeda attack on U.S. soil (and I'll amend this to add "or rumors thereof, with corresponding hysteria")
10. Iraq elects radical anti-U.S. fundamentalist Islamic government
11. Number of kidnapped and murdered civilian hostages in Iraq tops 100
12. War with Iran, Syria, or North Korea (I'll add "or threat of")
13. Deficit tops $10 trillion.

And a few more I came up with:

14. Gaps in Homeland Security
15. Blatant abuse of the Patriot Act
16. Fall of the dollar and spiking interest rates
17. Continued limping of the economic "recovery"

I want to expand on #s 4, 5, 14, and 15.
4. Iraq
  • Renewed focus on Iraqi casualties -- When will they hit 1500? 2000?
  • The wounded -- will they become more visible, the grievous nature of their disabilities more graphic?
  • Will the inadequate nature of veterans' support and healthcare be highlighted? And how the Bush administration has sought to, and actually, cut those benefits?
  • Iraqi civilian deaths -- will they become any more visible, especially after we flatten Falluja?
  • Draft -- will we have one or will we cut and run? Those are the only two options -- will the cleft nature of this stick be made clear?
  • Troop mutinies -- I expect these to increase, unless we get the hell out. Will they be publicized?
5. Texas re-districting/Delay subpoenas
  • Delay won re-election with only 55% of the vote. With the continued accretion of scandal from the TRMPAC investigation (illegal campaign contributions), he is a ripe target for picking off in 2006. Texas Dems will be watching and working this one hard.
  • The re-districting of Texas, which TRMPAC paid for (it was, in fact, TRMPAC's raison d'etre) is in court and may not stand -- the Supremes themselves said it needed to be reconsidered in light of an earlier judgement that Colorado could not re-district at will simply to alter partisan balance. God knows what happens if the re-districing plan in place is overturned -- do we revert to the original lines in the next election? At any rate, it will make life more difficult for the GOP and could well result in a thinner Republican majority in the House. That, coupled with some major work on the '06 elections, could tip the balance of power to the Dems in Congress. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
12. Gaps in Homeland Security
  • Continuing shortfalls in airline security staffing and training.
  • Lack of appropriated funding to fix the problems.
  • Specific incidents pointing this up: "Journalist boards plane with stun gun," "Mentally ill passenger found sleeping in cockpit of US Air passenger jet." You know the kind of story I'm talking about.
13. Blatant abuse of the Patriot Act
  • Specific incidents of civil liberties being stomped.
  • Comments from administration officials demonstrating their disdain for civil liberties -- we know they make them, hopefully they'll be even more arrogant and careless now. Let's catch some of them on tape!
  • Outcomes of NYC protest trials. A preliminary ruling in the cases of the thousands of GOP convention protestors ordered the city to pay each one $1000 for locking them up without cause. If this stands, NYC is looking at a bill of several million dollars. Think they'll ask the RNC to cover the tab?

Now, why does this list even matter? Well, for one, I function best as a spoiler anyway, so it's natural for me to look for all the possible screw-ups on the horizon. But I'm also thinking about the millions of non-evangelical, non-homophobic Americans who voted for Bush because they are scared, because they were guessing and hoping he would somehow outperform his record and actually keep them safe, that he wouldn't use their approval as an excuse to make things worse while further enriching his buddies. We need to keep rubbing those people's noses in their mistake.

At Daily Kos, they say it this way:
This is going to be a very unpleasant ride. Those who didn't want this didn't win. Some voted for Bush because this is what they wanted (be careful what you wish for). Those who voted on the idea that Bush would 'fix' these problems in some vague way (and there were lots of those) are also the ones to watch. I am not one to believe that these are permanent Republican voters. They weren't ours this time, but reality is still out there (think Iraq), and Clinton is getting tougher to blame for everything. Schumer isn't giving up. There will be Republican setbacks despite this election. Political capital is gone once it's spent.

That's our job now. Keep all these things in play. What that means for starters is: watch for stories on these items -- and not in the major media. They will likely appear in small independent papers, radio, and the Web. They then need to be forced into the mainstream press where they will be noticed by those who had hoped Bush would magically become competent. So, email those stories to your friends, write letters to the editors of papers asking for more information on them, talk about them every chance you get. When major media do cover those stories, write and tell them they did a good job. Write follow-up letters to the editor filling in additional information or context left out of the original story. Support their sponsors.

I admit, that's not much in the grand scheme of things, but after all I'm not Seymour Hersh. We need to couple this kind of work with work on legislative races at the state level, with an eye toward taking back Congress in 2006 and possibly impeaching. That's the other side of this coin. It's not about sour grapes, or being spoilers just for the fun of it. It's about leverage. I'll get another post up on that topic soon, I hope. In the meantime, give me your suggestions for additions to the list. What will you be watching for in the next two years?

UPDATE: Let me go ahead and add #18: Pushing radical "reforms" that the bulk of Americans demonstrably do not want, such as Social Security privatization. And can I point out that #s 4, 8, 16 and 18 are in the news at this very moment? I should start a Google news alert system linked to this list, I guess.


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