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Thursday, October 05, 2006

There are Better Reasons for the GOP to Sink, but I'll Settle for the Foley Scandal

While the Foley scandal sucks all the oxygen out of the room, other things are obviously happening. On the environmental front, the Union of Concerned Scientists warns that, without immediate action, global warming will change the Northeast US in ways not good for folks in Maine.

Global warming is poised to substantially change the climate in the Northeast if heat-trapping emissions are not curtailed. The extent and impacts of the change depend on the choices that governments, businesses and citizens make today. So concludes the first study released today by the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (NECIA), a collaboration between the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a team of independent scientists from universities across the Northeast and the nation. To read the full report, visit

"The very notion of the Northeast as we know it is at stake," said Dr. Cameron Wake, Research Associate Professor at the University of New Hampshire's Climate Change Research Center and co-lead of the report. "The near-term emissions choices we make in the Northeast and throughout the world will help determine the climate and quality of life our children and grandchildren experience."

Let's focus on the words 'near-term' and set them aside for later.

In other non-Foley news, the New York Times shows us just how insanely optimistic and out of touch with reality the GOP is.

Even as the Bush administration urges Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Republicans in Congress have put down a quiet marker in the apparent hope that V-I Day might be only months away.

Tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation’s capital “for commemoration of success” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, the money was not spent.

Now Congressional Republicans are saying, in effect, maybe next year. A paragraph written into spending legislation and approved by the Senate and House allows the $20 million to be rolled over into 2007.

To go back to the words we set aside earlier, this $20 million isn't going to be spent within any time frame anyone could call 'near-term'. In fact, there's a real possibility it will never be spent at all.

Right now, the best thing we can do for our nation is make sure that Republicans no longer call the shots in D.C. They have absolutely no interest in dealing with the problems facing the nation, they pretend to deal with them while focusing on issues that americans aren't all that concerned about. The GOP is the party of bait and switch. When they were voted in in even larger numbers in 2004, the issues they stumped about were same sex marriage, terrorism, and lies about Democrats.

After the election, they got right to work on reforming Social Security. That fell through, so they went to eliminating the estate tax. Two years later, they held a phony vote on same sex marriage that everyone knew would fail. Republicans didn't waste a lot of sweat on the issues they used to get people to vote for them. Terrorism, in the meantime, got worse.

If they can't even be bothered to deal with the problems the lunatic base wants them to, how likely is it that they'll be dealing with global warming or government corruption or the real situation in Iraq anytime soon?

William Rivers Pitt writes of the Foley scandal, "But perhaps worst of all is the fact that a story like this is what captures the complete attention of the news media, and by proxy, captures the attention of the American public. Iraq, 9/11 and Abramoff don't pique the interest of those tasked to report the facts. A sex scandal, however, is a five-alarm house on fire. This does not say much for them, and in the end, doesn't say much for the rest of us, either."

Yes. The media has been doing a terrible job of reporting on the administration and its pet Congress. A lot has been said about how easy the Foley scandal is to understand and, compared to the Abramoff scandal, it is. Abramoff is so broad and involves so many people that it's less about one thing and more about a big collection of separate crimes tied together by a single thread. And the thread is easily lost.

But given that the MSM isn't likely to improve anytime soon, Foley is gold. Take this column by Dan Froomkin, titled President Who?:

Is this what it feels like to be a lame duck?

President Bush is careening around the country, feverishly campaigning for Republican congressional candidates and unleashing highly provocative accusations against his Democratic critics.

But nobody really cares.

The only thing anyone wants to hear from the president right now is his reaction to the Congressional page-sex scandal revolving around former representative Mark Foley and rapidly enveloping the GOP House leadership.

On top of that, the public doesn't trust him. A fresh round of polls shows that most Americans think Bush has been intentionally misleading about the progress in Iraq, they oppose his war there, and they don't think it's making them safer. His approval rating is back down to a dismal 39 percent.

And establishment Washington has finally and conclusively written him off as being in a state of denial.

How is that a bad thing? And Bush's GOP had already been tweaking conservatives' last nerve. On Sept. 27 -- just before Foley broke -- the Wall Street Journal ran this:

As the White House and its Republican allies on Capitol Hill work to retain control of Congress in November's elections, a small but vocal band of conservative iconoclasts say they would prefer to see their own party lose.

The array of former members of Congress and officials from Republican administrations dating to the 1970s are using opinion articles, speeches and interviews to make the surprising -- and, to many of their friends and colleagues, near-heretical -- argument that it would be better for the country if their party lost. Some say they plan to vote Democratic for the first time in their lives. The Republican rebels say the modern Republican Party has so abandoned its conservative beliefs that it deserves to be defeated by the Democrats.

This is exactly the same argument I heard some lefties making in 2000 in explaining votes for Nader. The Democratic party had lost its soul, it needed to return to its roots, maybe a loss would be a wake up call or a rallying point or whatever figure of speech you like. Didn't work out so well, did it?

The problem with GOPers in '06 is the same as with dems in '00. Everyone thinks it needs to get back to basics, but no one agrees about what those basics are. In a two party system, both parties are coalition parties. Democrats represent a wider coalition of interests, but Republicans still need what they call the 'big tent'. The problem is, everyone in the tent thinks they're the real Republicans and everyone else has to go.

The WSJ article tells us that, "Three factors are driving the conservative backlash against the Republican-led Congress." There's the deficit and spending crowd who are sick of watching Bush and company shovel tax money into every open hole they come across. Others are believing their own PR -- that a Democratic congress would be so disastrous that people will line up behind the Republican candidate in '08. Others are unhappy that Iraq is distracting from a 'war on terror'.

And voting Democratic or for a third party isn't the only option here. Diehard Republicans just stay home when they're not happy. It's going to be hard for the GOP to pull its ace -- the religious nuts -- on election day when they're hip deep in a gay sex scandal. These people are completely insane and the fact that House leadership covered for a gay is going to sink in more than the fact that they covered for a sex offender.

So, yes, it's sad that this is the issue that's going to bring the GOP down. But the justice is poetic -- they've taught their base to hate gays and now those gay bashing robots they've programmed are going to bash themselves out of power.

Sooner or later, some Republican Op is going to cry, "This is a witch hunt!" But that's going to ring hollow from someone who'd handed out the torches and pitchforks to begin with.


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