Thursday, September 6, 2007

Where do we go from here?

What's Next?
A Group News Blog Roundtable

In early July 2007, I wrote privately to my Group News Blog colleagues in what become known as the Roundtable.

I started writing with the following questions:

  • What are my secret concerns for the next six to eighteen months?
  • What predictions or fears about the future am I afraid to say even here, let alone publicly?
  • What future am I afraid could happen I'd rather just keep quiet about, than risk having my vote canceled (people stop listening) by saying something too paranoid or strange?
For two months Hubris Sonic, Lower Manhattanite, Sara Robinson and I have talked about our deepest concerns of where the Bush/Cheney administration may take the United States and the world from now through the 2008 US elections.

Some of what we were concerned about when we began is now more obvious -- a possible war with Iran. Other possibilities may not yet be so clear.

We're going to share with you a candid, inside the locker-room talk between the four of us about what we're truly worried about, what we think the future could hold.

We are not saying these futures will happen. We are not predicting. These are concerns, speculations about an uncertain future.

This is a long post. We believe it's worth your time.

Steve Gilliard said over and over he believed President Bush wouldn't last out his term. That's where this Roundtable starts. Against the background of Gilly's long outstanding prediction...

GNB Roundtable -- What's Next? Fall, 2007

(LM) I generally didn't weigh in on Steve's "Resignation Prediction" threads -- because I often thought they had more wishful thinking than 100% solid analysis to them. That's not to say I pooh-poohed them entirely. I just opted to sit back and watch on an issue that weighty. And then, I suppose it was the last couple such posts, when the wheels really began to come off on all things Bushiana that I hesitated-- and came to the realization that this could actually happen. Not definitely -- but could. And that was a major mental leap for me.

(SARA) I feel a little funny about making predictions. It's one of the big professional no-nos for futurists -- precisely because (as Steve knew all too well, though probably not well enough) they're usually wrong. I skate way too close to that line often enough as it is; and it's something I need to watch as I get closer to the end of my degree and start doing actual futures work.

Instead, we prefer storytelling about scenarios: here's what could happen. Or this. Or this. Kind of like you did below.

(JESSE) Steve was wrong.

I'm not a paranoid (unless my pain/supporting meds get messed up.) I do watch my back and watch out for my family/friends closely and am not comfortable in crowds, but that's due to so many years working on the street. I'm not paranoid in the sense of, I don't go around thinking of conspiracy theories or that the government or large organizations are out to get us, me, or the world.

If 1/3 of the world dies from bird flu it isn't because someone did it on purpose so the rich can live and kill off the poor. They can't afford live-saving drugs and medicine and their immune systems and countries' medical systems are screwed up anyway so 80% of those people will die while we in first-world countries will only be decimated. I don't believe anyone is setting that up to happen and if it does happen, it will simply be evolution in action.

(SARA) That's one solid scenario: epidemiologists are telling us that the odds of something like this happening between now and, say, 2050 are far more likely than not. We're already a good 35 years past due for a major epidemic, something on the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu. I shudder to think what that's going to be like with a Bush-run public health system in charge. The last thing we need is 14th-century faith-based crony medicine.

(HS) I think Steve was wrong also. You have to realize Bush thinks he is doing a good job. He really believes that. Why in the hell would he resign? The only possible reason would be he just gets tired of the job. That has been a consistent thing throughout his life. Daddy’s friends would come in and take over and Junior could head off to whatever awaited him next. But I think we had that moment and he stuck it out instead of quitting. It was when the Iraq Study Group with Baker coming in to tell him what to do. It was Cheney who made the difference in Bush's life that time. Gave him the ‘backbone’ he needed at the right time. God help us all.

(JESSE) That said, the Bush/Cheney administration has left me -- for the first time in my 48 years of life -- thinking genuinely paranoid thoughts about my own government.

(HS) You are right to be paranoid. One of the reasons that I am active in politics which only happened when we invaded Iraq was because of the threat I felt this administration is for our country. In 1979 when I was being inducted I swore to uphold and defend the constitution of the U.S. against ALL enemies foreign AND domestic (which of course is also the line from which Richard Clarke took his book title). It is my belief that people like Cheney, Rove, and John Yoo are a grave threat to our country. Grave. It is not easy to unravel the near decade of security apparatus that they are putting in place. Not to mention the dividing of the American people against each other.

(LM) I've been very reticent to talk on it because sometimes I feel like I'm having those "paranoid thoughts". They seem that way because the implications if true, are frankly, earth shattering for this country. I remember Watergate and the upheaval it wrought. The damnedest thing is that you were deemed “on the fringe” if you thought Nixon would resign, as it was such a draconian "fix" for the problems assailing us. But son-of-a-bitch, he did.

(HS) George Bush doesn’t have half the integrity or brains Dick Nixon had.

(SARA) You may know that I'm a big fan of cycle theories -- and I'm finding one in particular to be a huge comfort right now. All of this is a sign that we're exactly where we're supposed to be. The last time we were here was about 1934, and the corporate royalists were attempting to overthrow FDR and install Smedley Butler as dictator. That was pretty damned evil. Same shit, different cycle. But by 1940, they were in a whole other place. Things are now changing at least that fast.

(LM) Part of me has always wanted to think -- because I really do care for this country -- maybe too much -- that Nixon's "no mas" was an isolated seizure, a momentary freakout that we would all be able to point to years later and nervously go, "Heh. That was wild!" Bad as all that uproar was, I guess I wanted to believe that it was a "blip". Now...well, like you said, "things are changing fast."

(SARA) It'll get both better and worse for the next 15 years or so. And after that, the world as we knew it will be gone. That part is inevitable. The only question is whether it'll be far better, or far worse. That part is up to us -- literally, up to how well Gen X does its historical job as it passes through midlife.

(LM) I too, have come to if not a belief in "cyclical" patterns, a belief at least in "the law of averages". So skullduggery -- and yes, patently evil acts have been perpetrated by this administration, particularly in the name of this war and all of the wrangling of people and facts involved in it that THEY'VE GOTTEN AWAY WITH, that the law of averages just seems to be coming into play now. They're the lean whip of a guy who had the fast metabolism seemingly forever, snarfing down burgers by the bagful -- shakes by the gallon, and now thirty-plus years old, BOOM!, the jello-shaking gut appears, he can't get up the steps anymore, and his chest is always hurting him now. Bad news is on the horizon for this "fella".

(SARA) My observation is that the farther out of balance things get, the more energy it's going to take to return to any kind of equilibrium. The system should, in time, self-correct -- but it's gonna be a hell of a trip while that gonzo pendulum swings.

(JESSE) I see three possible options:

1. The Green Zone is over-run and/or Congress pulls the plug. If the Green Zone is over-run, after the troops fight their way clear, Bush will need a distraction. Fast.

If Congress pulls the plug Bush will fight them tooth and nail, vetoing, then deploying soldiers into harms way and daring Congress to let them die without giving them money, sending the whole fight to the Supreme Court which will HAVE to rule for Congress 8-1 (Thomas votes no) or 9-0; precedent is utterly clear that the Article I Legislature has the power here, not the Article II Executive. If Congress pulls the plug and/or SCOTUS rules against him, Bush will need a distraction. Fast.

2. The Republicans decide to jettison Bush/Cheney wholesale in order to attempt to survive the 2008 election. This may take the form of #1 above, pulling the money plug on Iraq, actively attacking Bush on other points, or even going along with impeachment which as we all know "is off the table." Let's call #2 an all-out attack on Bush/Cheney by Congress backed by the press (because the press suck up to Congress; that is who the traditional media believe will be around for the long haul to give them reflected power), up to and possibly including impeachment. Bush will need a distraction.

3. Life goes on more or less as it has been. POTUS & VPOTUS ratings continue their free-fall. No impeachment. Our troops die in Iraq. The election draws nearer. For reasons I'll explain in a moment, Bush will need a distraction.

(SARA) I'll be very surprised if American people let themselves be distracted this time. We may actually be over the threshold where another terrorist attack would even do the trick. At this point, we'd just blame it all on Bush. After all, we've seen the precedent for that -- heckuva job,Homeland Security! We're not in a good mood where he's concerned right now anyway: the fury over the fact that he tore up the Constitution in the name of security and then still failed to protect us would be incendiary.

(LM) It agree on the possibility of an all-out assault on the Green Zone. I don't wanna think it -- but I can see it, and that's BAD, if I can see it. But let me add a couple of other scenarios:

1.) The kidnap of a prominent general in the war theater. Really bad, but possible I think with the level of infiltration in the Iraqi forces.

2.) The exposure of classified information that officially states "we have no plan" in Iraq. Someone who calls himself "saving the party" could do this -- and scuttle Bush/Cheney.

3.) A major whistleblower who produces documents detailing Bush admin misdeeds. Call me an optimist, but there's always somebody who just...breaks under conscience's weight.

And Sara, I agree -- I think that a terror attack in the U.S. wouldn't "help" Bush in the way many once thought it could. I can actually see people blaming him, fed up with him and the incompetence in general, taking something like that as a final denouement, an "And now you've brought us THIS! -- Thanks for nothing!"

(HS) I think we will see a major attack on the green zone, almost certainly a major bomb inside. But not being overrun, I always thought Steve was off base on this. The military in ‘Nam woefully underestimated their enemy they never expected nor did they plan to be overrun or really face any kind of large conventional forces, and their bases were not protected from it. Or rather the defenses were not taken seriously. It’s my understanding the Green Zone is set up to repel an attack, and with the constant threat of suicide bombers they stay on top of this sort of thing. I think they will probably get attacked but it will be repelled. Although you guys may be right it will force Bush to do something. What isn’t exactly clear. Aint nobody there left helping him from the old Texas crew, except [gulp] Dick Cheney.

(JESSE) I believe Bush and Cheney have committed too many criminal acts to risk allowing anyone not already a member of their crime family access to the reins of power. I believe strongly that Cheney is willing to do literally anything to maintain power -- a true sociopath -- and that Bush is willing to allow himself to be led by Cheney. Don't know what the clinical diagnosis is for this; suspect it is Narcissistic Personality Disorder, all about me, me, me! The world doesn't exist for anyone to GWB outside of himself.

(SARA) Sounds right to me. That's why there are such piss-poor GOP candidates -- they really didn't groom anybody to run in 2008 because, somewhere in the back of their minds, they didn't really plan to surrender power come Election Day. There are other, better explanations for this too, but all of them come down in the end to GOP hubris (not sonic!) in believing their own one-party-rule fantasy. Too bad the Viagra wore off.

(LM) The wild card of course, is Cheney, who I think does not care about the party itself, but rather, the furthering of his own twisted, small circle of policy wonks grand views on how they've always wanted to reshape shit to enhance their and their future generations' financial status. Cheney is the stumbling block to Bush's leaving, or removal. Unka Dick doesn't want to be president -- he'd have to live too much above board and has made too many enemies to be in the direct line of fire. And if Bush left, or was somehow being forced out, Cheney knows that he isn't the power brokers' choice as the follow-up. So, the only way to secure his continued presence is to keep Bush in place. That's the one BIG thing that could keep Bush where he is until 2009. Were Bush AND Cheney (and it would have to be both of them) moved aside, there would be no one they trust enough to carry on the Cheney Neo-Con "grand plan". No one with enough gravitas, or moxie or whatever you wanna call it. The bench is empty, and the crop of players comin' up -- the '08 candidates? Nah. Na ga cut it.

(HS) I think Cheney is nuts. Just plain bonkers. I think one of the previous strokes he had damaged his brain. His behavior during 9/11 was just bizarre.

(JESSE) I think one and/or both of two scenarios will go down no later than mid-winter 2008 to provide a distraction. Maybe as early Yes I mean this month or next. You don't want a new war during the holidays. They are:

a) war with Iran, and/or

b) a terrorist attack on the United States by al-Qaida. Or by people the Bushies can claim (9/11, 9/11, & 9/11) to be al-Qaida.

(SARA) The sales job on Iran is already well underway -- and we're not the only ones to notice the parallels to the way they sold the Iraq war. Same marketing strategy, with a single letter change.

With any luck, the GOP members of Congress will recognize this as their party's death sentence, If anything pushes finally pushes them over the edge on impeachment, I could see that war being it. It may be the only option left if they have any hope of keeping their seats next year.

(HS) Jesse and Sara wrote their part of this in early August, and as we can see we are right in the middle of the “Iran War” sell. Being hard pushed by the Cheneyites. I think the GOP realizes it is a major problem for them. Unfortunately they are as powerless as we are to stop it.

(LM) But things are sooooooooo bad for the GOP, I can't imagine that there are not some who have in back rooms concocted a "coup", or doomsday strategy if things go all the way down the shitter, re: a disastrous, polarizing Iraq incursion. If I may go all Simpsons "Comic Book Guy" for a minute, in recent years, there's been sturm and drang about Batman's character. It seems that although Batman is by many levels NOT the most powerful of the heroes, he is the most coldly pragmatic. And his pragmatism showed when he recently unveiled a series of protocols to be used in the event that Superman, the most powerful of all the heroes went rogue. Superman and his co-horts were aghast at the idea that Bats would have such a plan in place, but in the end, Ol' Bats justified it as necessary for survival. I do feel some in that back-room, behind-the-curtain GOP hierarchy have a "Batman Plan" in place. And they are getting itchy as it is becoming clearer and clearer that pragmatism...and SURVIVAL may dictate its implementation.

(HS) Wishful thinking on LM’s part here. Planning? Is this something the GOP does well?

(SARA) If the Reeps in Congress don't abandon Bush, then a complete Dem tidal wave is assured. Assuming, of course, there's an election -- but at this point, when most of America is soooo eager to get rid of this guy, I'd place my bet that there will be.

It's encouraging that Bush's attempt last month to sell us on the idea that the 9/11 AQ and AQ-in-Iraq are the same entity appears to have largely tanked. The blogs and a few honest newspapers (McClatchy) stepped right up to counter that deliberate obfuscation. The twenty-seven-percenters bought it, but I don't think many reality-based people did.

(JESSE) First, McClatchy is lying right now.

Second, I believe even if we go to war with Iran, a terrorist attack with either major casualties or NBC weapons on the U.S. mainland is likely as it provides the excuse Bush/Cheney needs to declare martial law and cancel or postpone the elections and ramp up the terror and the fear and the horror. Giving them reason to extend martial law keeping elections postponed. Just look at the way they've been building enclosures and giving operational licenses to Blackwater mercenaries in every ocean State. The Bush administration is planning, no, counting on long-term civil unrest in the United States before their term is over, before they have to surrender power through elections.

We kid ourselves by saying this is the United States and it can't happen here. Yes -- it can happen here and it is being set up so it could happen here, no different than Chile in 1973. Safeguards have been systematically dismantled by the Office of the Vice President just as if he were a third-world dictator. Cheney is positioned to take over the country in law and in fact, with the active help of mercenaries, Republicans in Congress trying to hold power, the traditional media, the Christian right wing, and Republican Judges, this entire "shadow" government and national emergency plan that Cheney is personally in charge of. Cheney and George Bush simply can't afford to face an honest prosecutor and I don't believe they plan to, no matter the cost.

(HS) I think AQ is in worse shape than we are being told. I think their financial network is dismantled. Yes, it was relatively cheap for them to pull of 9/11, but it was still at least half a million. They had to infiltrate 20 guys. They had to pay for housing, cars, flight school. It was a substantially logistical operation and was deep in enemy territory I think they relied on sympathetic Muslims, a network which walked away from them when they saw the impact of 9/11. No, it would be very difficult if not impossible to pull off a comparable operation. Not to say they are not innovative but the network is hurting. Of course they could get lucky but it won't be a planned op of any size.

(SARA) That's been the big fear for the past three years; but, honestly, for the reasons I stated above, I think the odds of that happening are actually somewhat less than they've been. People are just SO MAD now. We all know now what a fucking liar the man is. We don't trust him.

(HS) I think this is exactly right. They really have no idea how mad people are. They don’t understand the meaning of so many people showing up at political events, town halls etc. NOT in an election year. We have more than a year before the election. And to be frank, it’s the Dems election to lose. So the result is not really in that much question. It probably will be one of the front running Democrats. And yet thousands showed up in Chicago for Yearly Kos. In an off year….

Not saying he might not try to run that shit -- in fact, the more desperate he gets, the more likely it becomes that he will. But I just don't think we're buying any more. The way things are headed, Bush and Cheney are going to be lucky if they can leave office on their own two feet instead of swinging on the end of a lynch mob's rope.

(JESSE) Free press, watch what you say, the camps, donating money to anyone whom has every been associated with a group whom waved in the direction of people who thought something bad about President Bush... Kids, tell us about your parents here, buh-bye...

(SARA) I recently read Mikey Weinstein's "With God On Our Side," about the Christianist takeover of the military. Most Americans have no idea how openly pervasive this has become -- the picture he paints indicates that anybody who plans to progress in the services any more had better Come to Jesus, literally, or it won't happen. (HS may have another perspective on this, and I'd love to hear it.) The ideal of the Christian Warrior has become a dominant archetype.

And, beyond that, we're now at a point where Blackwater -- which is also under Evangelical control -- is like the 10th biggest army in the world.

So, yeah, I do feel some apprehension about the potential for "ethnic cleansing" against liberal Americans. Certainly the legal and physical infrastructure to make it happen is all in place, waiting to go. When a weapon exists, people are inclined to use it. And the bigger it is, the more likely they are to use it.

(Time until Sara has a British Commonwealth passport: P minus one year and counting....)

(HS) The fundies infiltration of the military and I say infil not takeover because it’s the former not the later. It's certainly quite strong now. This is part of what is a threat to our country. I think they are getting promoted here and there. You have to remember a lot of the military people are very uncomfortable with the fundies. Most of them are loud bellicose, beer drinking, good ole boys. Cursing and drinking and chasing tail are like breathing to them. Don’t expect too many born agains. Yes you are going to get some of these guys promoted ahead of others but those are isolated cases. And they will be in disfavor as soon as Bush is gone. But it is a metric to watch. The Air Force is in bad shape.

(JESSE) I've never felt this way about my own government in my life and as I said, I'm not paranoid. But I believe all the way down in my bone marrow that Dick fucking Cheney is not willing to go gently into the night. He's guilty, guilty, guilty. Cheney knows the moment a President and Vice President who are members of the Democratic Party get control of the Executive Branch of the Government of the United States, both he and then former President George Walker Bush will be facing multiple indictments, sooner rather than later. And war crimes trials. Bush truly may not have figured this out yet or thinks Daddy will bail him out somehow.

(HS) Wouldn’t surprise me if Bush pardons himself in the final days… I suppose that legal… thanks John Yoo!!!!

(LM) The hell with daddy -- he needs to worry about daddy's friends. They don't want a huge Democratic majority in place, with a Dem controlled executive branch nodding in silent acquiescence to investigations that would make the present Waxman probes look like gentle caresses compared to the spiked suppository the future holds. A "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one." scenario where Bush and again, all things Bushiana are thrown overboard to keep the GOP's life raft afloat (with enough GOP still in place to obstruct the most damning investigations) just doesn't seem that far-fetched anymore. I can see a panicked GOP hierarchy -- and I don't mean a McConnell or Lott -- I mean a James Baker and that whole "behind-the-curtain" crew fearing being relegated to "joke" or non-factor status, trying to salvage something of the party's influence, and jettisoning Bush -- even against his will. Cheney...well, as I said, he's a whole other nut to crack.

(SARA) Steve asserted often that Cheney is in worse health than anyone knows. I always wondered if he had a source on that -- seems possible he did, but we'll never know.

But I've already written the post saying that I think that, unless BushCo gets far more flagrant than they already are, the Dem president and Congress are going to walk away from the whole mess as soon as they take office. There's no percentage for them, personally, in pursuing indictments -- no matter how much the health of the country depends on them.

The speed at which they're walking away from prosecuting Gonzo now that he's gone is, to me, a strong sign that Bush will also walk off scot-free.

(HS) Sadly, I think Sara is right here. The Democrats seriously just want all the noise to stop. They will lay down no matter what here. It is going to be up to us to make them pursue these issues.

(JESSE) But Richard Cheney is calling the shots and Richard Cheney just ain't giving up power. He will kill you, he'll kill me, he'll kill 10,000, 20,000, 100,000 more US soldiers and slide the United States right into civil war and FUCK the constitution to avoid his crimes and thefts and literally hundreds of felonies over the last seven years coming to light.

I believe Cheney thought he'd die in office, no kidding. But damn his luck he lived through it and now he wants to live on and stay in power till he kicks.

(LM) But do you call that "living"? I dunno. Understand, that this White House is no longer "playing offense". They are now simply in 24-7 cover-their-ass mode. I never thought that Bush wouldn't finish his term because of fear, or cracking under any sort of emotional pressure -- he's too cosseted to really sense the depth of the shitmire he's created. My realization that he may NOT finish things out came out of seeing those power-brokers (Baker & Crew) who are pissed at him, eventually flexing their muscle. This White House is in a holding pattern. Playing not to win anymore, but just NOT TO LOSE. It's the old football, "prevent" defense, where you try not to give up the deep ball, and keep the other team's offense "in front of you" in a close game nearing its end. But what's happened here, is that if you've ever watched football closely, the "prevent" is a cocktail for disaster, because invariably, the other side finds its momentum, and even when you come out of the "prevent" to save your ass, the defense is overwhelmed, and the offense can't get untracked.

The team becomes a joke. And when that happens, ownership'll often step in and MAKE A CHANGE. That poll on GOP candidates showing "none of the above" as the leader is a steel-toed boot to the nads of the GOP's power brokers. Bush, and the party's Congressional fealty to him (rendering them "The Party Of Bush") has so damaged the "brand" that the coming '08s with the pretty obvious anti-GOP Tsunami, I can actually see party bigwigs flexing -- to cut of the gangrenous limb, lest it poison the whole body. I didn't think it was possible before -- but now? Now I can actually visualize it. I understand, that it makes them dangerous, cornered rat-style, though. Prone to desperate acts.

(HS) Remember they think they are doing a good job. I don’t think they realize the GOP itself is as worried as they are. That’s why they reacted strongly to Sen. Warner’s (R) criticism of the war. It was because it blindsided them and yes they are prone to desperate acts. The GOP is going to try to tear itself apart. I am looking forward to that!

(JESSE) My take is, this administration takes us to war this fall/early winter, or allows a terrorist attack to happen inside our borders in the heat of the summer when everyone's all hot and sweaty and killing people in the inner cities and angry anyway (unless their time-table gets pushed up on them because of #1 or #2 above) and use the war and the terror attack to justify martial law, then postpone elections and they simply aren't scheduled again.

It took Chile 17 years from the coup before they had a new president. All our administration needs is to "overlook" a terror plot and they can attempt hanging on just like Rudy Giuliani.

(SARA) I find this scenario not only credible, but increasingly likely as they get increasingly desperate. But, as I said above, I think you -- and Bush -- are underestimating just how pissed off people are now. I think 9/11 2.0 would go down considerably differently -- and not at all like they expect.

(HS) Yup, people will be much more critical of any response. They will not get a pass. Although we still have the corporate media to contend with. They will push the spin. Of course it will just help show how bad they are.

(LM) The "internal" polling right now is death-on-a-stick awful for the right -- people ARE pissed -- as far as their future prospects being affected by the present short-sighted fanaticism by Bush/Cheney Bush (immigration aside -- which will only further marginalize them with the fastest growing voting bloc in the land -- gun barrel, meet foot). Iran? Oh God -- a desperation move late in the game. To go back to the football analogy, and the "prevent" defense where you're barely hanging on to win, what generally explodes the defense into a million pieces is gamble, which springs a "freak" play by the offense. A blown tackle on "D" clears a runner for a huge gain. One. Random. Thing. I don't think we know what that thing is just yet.

(HS) Howard Dean’s anti-war, pro health care, people powered campaign was 4 years too early.

(SARA) I do believe there's a good deal of civil violence, and possibly a civil war, looming in our future -- probably within the next 5-7 years. Either the right wing makes its move to consolidate power; or else they get so furious over a Dem win in 2008 that they revolt. They never thought Clinton was a legitimate president -- and it's not a coincidence that militia activity exploded immediately after the '92 election. Dave Neiwert has expressed some worry that a liberal victory next year will send them to the barricades and trenches; his sources are already picking up chatter to that effect. It's something we need to anticipate, because it could get very ugly very fast. Right now, I think this is a more credible threat to domestic order than 9/11 2.0.

(LM) I don't like to think about the "civil war" scenario, but...well, these are people who were writing books about establishing a permanent GOP majority. A grand plan was in place, and it's going all to hell. There is a number of wingnuts who "don't want the movie to end that way." You would have in essence, a 1/3 built Death Star, much like the one near the end of the last Star Wars film. Formidable when near completion, yes -- but at that stage? Still vulnerable, and in a position to be scrapped should the "grand plan" be abandoned by its prime architect. There are crazies who will take matters into their own hands should the "Death Star" be on the verge of being scrapped. And we all know how dangerous wingnut Star Wars fans with light sabres can be. :)

(HS) I would disagree with Sara’s take here. I do think the wingers will lose their little minds. I think we might see a political assassination or a bombing of a ‘liberal’ newspaper that sort of thing but I don’t see any sort of large scale civil disturbance. This was a fear of mine in 2004 if Kerry had won. I was afraid the wingers would just not accept it. It would have been bad. To be frank it may have been a good thing he didn’t win.

(JESSE) I do not want my opinion going up in any way or form unless it is a consensus pick. I am deeply embarrassed to admit any of this even to you, my friends, that I distrust my own government this profoundly, for fear it will be mistaken for simple paranoia. But I do not believe it is. I am genuinely afraid of what Dick Cheney and his puppet Bush might try to keep themselves in power to avoid being exposed as criminals, war criminals, possibly even traitors and first-degree murders, depending on how the indictments are framed.

As for civil war, if somehow we make it to the election safely, I think we're fine no matter who wins. We only get civil war if Bush & Cheney impose martial law. Then everyone goes out into the street, Republicans included. No one is going to put up with this crap. Their lies are obvious to all but the true believers by now.

(LM) In one way Steve was probably wrong in my eyes -- banking on W's cowardice and weakness as the impetus for not being there in the end. But in the Machiavellian sense -- "the end justifying the means" -- as Steve predicted, homeboy may not survive until the end credits. (Movies...AGAIN) Is impeachment possible? Ehhhhh...offenses meriting that have been breached long ago. That doesn't mean I feel it's a totally lost cause. The way things are cratering, with so much mud bubbling up, I could conceivably see how maybe -- just maybe it becomes a viable consideration as more hard-core Bush support evaporates. But it's a long, drawn-out process, and if things got bad enough, waiting for impeachment would be like waiting for an ambulance to the ER at Cedars of Sinai in L.A. while you've got a guy bleeding out of a massive leg wound in the middle of downtown Ramadi. Field surgery is necessary to save the life. It may be dirty. It may be brusque. But waiting could mean death. And that's the reality I think the GOP -- certain inner circles of the GOP are looking at.

(SARA) I don't think of it as paranoia so much as zeitgeist. We really are in a time of tremendous realignment on almost every front -- a time when the American social and political contract is coming up for its periodic renegotiation. Happens every 80 years, which means almost all of us get to go through this once in our lifetimes. It's never pretty. It always brings out the very worst in us. It also brings out the very best, and I'm confident we're going to see a lot of that emerging soon, too.

(HS) To me it is clear the beltway crowd and their lickspittle sycophants just don’t realize how dangerous Bush/Cheney is. For them the power, and the cocktail parties and the Senate boys club and the soirees have always been and always will be. It's unthinkable for them understand just how tenuous ‘tomorrow’ is. The moves these guys are making are historical and in the same way we were unable to understand the nature of the attack on 9/11 until it was over. It’s the same here. Our democracy is under attack from a threat they don’t really understand, they don’t get it. Bush/Cheney look like just more guests at the garden party.

It is a paradigm shift and they are clueless as to its implications.