There are so many cliches and well-worn similes that one hardly knows which to use. The "House of Cards"? The "Falling Dominos"? The "Chickens Coming Home to Roost"? The "Iceberg Metaphor"?
Well, whichever nod to ancient wisdom is your favorite, they all apply. The illusions on which the Age of Bush is based are coming apart at the seams. From every possible direction, ugly realities are forcing themselves into the florid dreams of conservative optimists and turning them into fetid nightmares.
As anyone with a lick of sense knew they would.
Scott Horton has been following the Don Siegelman story for months on his blog, No Comment at Harper's and has developed a near-airtight case that the former Alabama governor was railroaded by Karl Rove, who ordered that Siegelman be prosecuted on corruption charges just before the election to make sure the incumbent Republican gov won.
For all that time Horton and a few other blogs (including my humble self once or twice) were the only ones interested in the story. Now that's all changed. As the pendulum swings - drastically - away from the GOP version of life and truth and actual truth starts to emerge, more previously too-busy-to-bother reporters are jumping on the bandwagon, perhaps remembering at last why the became reporters in the first place.
For instance, the WaPo's Christopher Lee has finally brought the festering Siegelman Saga to the pages of one of America's two biggest newspapers with a piece on the way Bush-appointed Chief of the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and party political hack Scott Bloch interfered with a Justice Dept investigation of the way the Siegelman corruption case was handled.
on Oct. 11, OSC chief Scott J. Bloch ordered the case file be closed immediately, saying that he had not authorized it, seven career employees wrote in an internal draft memo made public last week.
"After concerns are expressed that OSC simply cannot close a file without conducting an investigation into theses [sic] allegations, the TF [task force] is directed to not further investigate this case and to wait for further instructions from the Special Counsel," the employees wrote in the document dated Jan. 18.
That episode and others detailed in the 13-page memo illustrate how the controversial Bush appointee, whom critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have accused of political bias and managerial misconduct, frequently has been at odds with top career staffers over which cases should be pursued by the principal office protecting federal whistle-blowers and policing partisan politicking in the federal workplace.
Is there anything unusual about such behavior from Bush-appointed officials? Of course not, not to readers of this blog and others in the left blogosphere, certainly. But to readers of major media, this is all brand, spanking new.
Last week, FBI agents raided Bloch's home.
Bloch, whose office and home were raided by FBI agents Tuesday in connection with a probe of his activities, repeatedly has denied staffers' requests to investigate cases they believed deserved scrutiny, the memo shows. At the same time, Bloch has launched aggressive, politically charged investigations into executive branch agencies that career staffers considered either overly broad or largely unrelated to the office's jurisdiction.
The memo, addressed to Bloch, offers "deeply troubling new evidence of Bloch's misuse of his office," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, or POGO. The nonprofit watchdog group obtained the document and made it public last week on its Web site.
Nearly 5 years ago, in a long post about voting irregularities, I quoted a graf from Britain's Independent (in those days, we had to go overseas to find the truth in a newspaper).
Most suspect of all was the governor’s race in Alabama, where the incumbent Democrat, Don Siegelman, was initially declared the winner. Sometime after midnight, when polling station observers and most staff had gone home, the probate judge responsible for elections in rural Baldwin County suddenly “discovered” that Mr Siegelman had been awarded 7,000 votes too many. In a tight election, the change was enough to hand victory to his Republican challenger, Bob Riley. County officials talked vaguely of a computer tabulation error, or a lightning strike messing up the machines, but the real reason was never ascertained because the state’s Republican attorney general refused to authorise a recount or any independent ballot inspection.According to an analysis by James Gundlach, a sociology professor at Auburn University in Alabama, the result in Baldwin County was full of wild deviations from the statistical norms established both by this and preceding elections. And he adds: “There is simply no way that electronic vote counting can produce two sets of results without someone using computer programmes in ways that were not intended. In other words, the fact that two sets of results were reported is sufficient evidence in and of itself that the vote tabulation process was compromised.”
Nobody cared then. What a difference 5 years and an unbroken record of failures makes.
I've written a lot about how much trouble the pension systems are in this country, about how corporations eager to falsify their lousy stats underfunded their pension programs figuring they could always a) put it in later or b) simply refuse to pay the pensioners what they were owed. Unfortunately that game, it turns out, reached into public pension funds, too, and the downturning economy threatens the retirements of a lot of govt workers, including if not especially, First Responders.
How did the public entities decide to handle it? Run mainly by Republicans, and following the example of the highest officers in the land (also Republican), how do you think? They cooked the books.
The funds that pay pension and health benefits to police officers, teachers and millions of other public employees across the country are facing a shortfall that could soon run into trillions of dollars.
But the accounting techniques used by state and local governments to balance their pension books disguise the extent of the crisis facing these retirees and the taxpayers who may ultimately be called on to pay the freight, according to a growing number of leading financial analysts.
State governments alone have reported they are already confronting a deficit of at least $750 billion to cover the cost of the retirement benefits they have promised. But that figure likely underestimates the actual shortfall because of the range of methods they use to make their calculations, including practices that have been barred in the private sector for decades.
Local governments use these same techniques for their pension funds and face deficits that further contribute to what some investors and analysts say may be shaping up to be a massive breach of faith with a generation of public employees.
Once the safest investments in the nation, now public employee pensions are going to be rocked by the same stupid techniques used by and sold to them by greedy corporate lawyers, gutless accountants, and all the Republican shills who convinced them everything was going to be alright because it was "morning in America". Nobody told them you spelled it "mourning".
As a result, the GOP can't catch a cold. And they remain so disconnected and clueless that they think inviting Dick Cheney down is going to help a struggling Pub candidate.
Since losing 30 seats and their 12-year stranglehold on power in 2006, House Republicans have kept asking themselves the same question: Can it get any worse?
On Tuesday, they may get another answer they won't like.
With lots of help from Washington -- including more than $1.3 million in campaign cash and a last-minute visit by Vice President Cheney -- Mississippi Republicans are desperately trying to retain a congressional seat in one of the most reliably conservative districts in the nation.
"Can it get worse?" Can Republicans get any dumber? Duh.
What kind of sense of reality does it show when a GOP struggling against its own administration invites a VP even less popular than the president down to a campaign that's on the edge of the anti-Bush abyss? Are they trying to destroy themselves? Or are their heads so firmly buried in the sand they think those earthworms are voters?
You know, when it all starts to go bad, you can't buy a break. And it couldn't happen to people who deserved it more.