Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Players are on the Field

The players are now on the field for an unusual Democratic presidential nomination race.

Sen. Hillary Clinton announced today that she is forming a presidential exploratory committee. Unlike Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton is not exploring anthing. She's running and forming an exploratory committee is the first step in her campaign. Unusually for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is the heir apparent and a clear front runner with high expectations of winning the presidency. Although her popularity is generally ignored by the mainstream media, Hillary Clinton is a genuinely popular politician who can speak with authority on any issue. She is also the first woman candidate who starts her campaign for the presidential nomination as the favorite.

I know this is just one more reason for people to think I'm totally uncool, but I favor Hillary in the election. Because the Bush administration has screwed things up so royally, being president between 2008 and 2016 is going to be unbelievably tough. Hillary can succeed as president because she's been through tough times in the White House, knows public policy inside and out, and has credibility on both domestic and foreign policy issues. I also like that Hillary is willing to call out the right-wing every once in a while. Hillary still has to prove that she has what it takes to get the country behind her in a crisis, but she'll have plenty of chances to prove that during the primary season. Of all the candidates in the Democratic and Republican Parties, Hillary is the most qualified by temperament, policy preferences, and experience to be president.

Although Hillary Clinton is the favorite, Barack Obama is going to be a strong challenger. Although inexperienced, Obama has a lot of positive buzz for his inspirational abilities. People like him a lot and he's the favorite of both Mrs. RSI and our daughter Katy. Like Hillary Clinton, Obama is a genuine political heavyweight and whoever wins the Democratic nomination is going to have to run a strong campaign. Certainly, there will be moments of negative campaigning, but I believe that the competition will benefit both candidates.

If either of the two leading candidates falters or proves to be a poor campaigner, John Edwards will take on the role of challenger. Edwards is nationally known, has some experience with Presidential political campaigns, and has positioned himself well for the Iowa caucuses. If he wants to have a real chance however, he has to hope that Hillary or Obama is a disappointment.

The other candidates all hope they can catch fire, but have little chance. Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson, and John Kerry all have their virtues, but none of them has much hope of breaking into the first tier.

Let the games begin.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Far From Toothless

My own little chunk of Red State Kentucky is buzzing today.

1. Growing Into My Stereotype. Today, I took a big step toward growing into an Eastern Kentucky stereotype. That's because one of my teeth was extracted at a dental office in a very prosperous little medical office complex in Lexington, Kentucky. No teeth is just as big a stereotype for Appalachian whites as gold teeth are for urban blacks. Perhaps I should write to a Lexington television station to offer myself for interviews. Not having teeth seems to be a prerequisite for being interviewed on camera by the Lexington stations or appearing in documentaries.

2. Win a Couple of Games And . . . One of the banes of the Kentucky public school system is coaches--especially football coaches and basketball coaches. There are 6th, 7th, and 8th grade basketball teams as well as junior varsity and varsity teams and a lot of those coaches end up working as highly distracted, and often very poor, social studies teachers. In a university town, college coaches impose a burden on the public schools as well. The current corruption rumor in my town is that the wife of the University's basketball coach got an assistant principal's job that she wasn't qualified for. Maybe that's because her husband the coach is a surprising 6-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference in his first year. Even in the very low mid-majors, winning a couple of games can land your wife a plum job.

3. Racism Central High Revisited. Allen Central High School in Prestonsburg, KY is still flying its rebel flags at most football and basketball games. However, they decided to put the battle flags away tonight because they were playing a team with a black player. What Allen Central should do is change their name to Martin Luther King, jr. High School. I'm serious. Confederate flaggers like the people at Allen Central claim that they wave the battle flags to show "Southern pride." Martin Luther King is the most eminent Southerner since Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and is much more highly thought of than contemporary Southern presidents like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George Bush. One would think that any Southern high school would be proud to name themselves after King. Likewise, the people at Allen Central claim that the Confederate flag represents "rebel spirit." Who was more of a rebel than Martin Luther King who took on the whole social and political establishment of the White South in his campaigns against segregation. And unlike the Confederates, Martin Luther King was a victorious rebel who won victory after victory in Southern cities, spurred the adaption of revolutionary civil rights legislation, and changed the hearts of millions. To the contrary, the Confederacy was particularly undignified in Kentucky where Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan blazed a crime wave of bank robberies as he moved through his home state of Kentucky and local Confederate generals like John Bell Hood proved to be particularly inept. Martin Luther King is a far better representative of rebel spirit than the Confederacy. Perhaps Allen Central could become the Martin Luther King High Mountain Mavericks.

Turned Upside Down

"Smiling Faces, sometimes, they don't tell the truth."

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has always been the most smoothly smiling face of the Bush administration. Not given to Dick Cheney's lop-sided sneers or the President's bouts of petulance, Gonzales maintains a placidly smug, smiling countenance as he parries questions about torture, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, and the other criminal activities of the Bush administration.

Gonzales is also the most sovereign liar, a guy who is absolutely convinced of the Bush administration right to refuse to share power, seek approval, consult, or cooperate in any way with Congress, the courts, the media or public opinion.

The current controversy over the Bush administration's refusal to consult with the FISA court over warrantless wiretapping is a great example of the way that the Bush administration looks for opportunities to refuse cooperation. It also represents a rare at least temporary victory for the Bush administration.

A 1978 law set up a system where the executive branch would seek the approval of a secret court, the FISA court, for national security wiretaps outside the normal process. That approval was either always or almost always given.

After 9-11, the Bush administration stopped seeking FISA court approval for the wiretaps with Gonzales citing the need for "speed and agility." It turned out, however, that the FISA law allows the executive branch to initiate the wiretaps and then seek approval later. It would be more accurate to say that the Bush administration refused to cooperate with the FISA courts just because the law said they had to. This way, the Bush administration was not obliged to seek the approval it would have gotten anyway.

This week, the Bush administration announced an agreement with a FISA judge that they could proceed with wiretaps without seeking FISA court approval. In other words, the Bush administration now has FISA court approval for avoiding the FISA court. When Gonzales testified before Congress, he looked like the cat who had swallowed a canary.

The victory may be temporary though. Unlike Congress, the courts don't have to generate a broad political consensus in order to override administrative abuses. In the final analysis, the courts have proven to be the only immediately effective check on the Bush administration.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

RSI scoops Novak

Today, Robert Novak reports on the "gloom and doom" among Republican politicos who worry that the unpopularity of Bush's surge will make 2008 even worse than 2006 from their perspective.

But RSI arrived at the landslide first. Over the last month, I've posted on the landslide theme here, here, and most recently here. According to Evans, Republican pessimism stems from the realization that the Maliki government is never going to clamp down on the Shiite militias and death squads. In the real world that Republicans don't recognize, the surge would be even more destabilizing if Maliki or the U. S. military were to confront the Shiite militias and death squads. Still, the likely failure of the surge will turn the Republican presidential nominee into the 21st century version of Walter Mondale and drag down the rest of the ticket with him.

Interesting enough, liberal bloggers like Matthew Yglesias and Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly are relatively suspicious of the landshide possibilities. As is the case with most liberal observers, years of weak Democratic leadership have conditioned Yglesias and Drum to doubt that the Democrats could take full advantage of Republican weakness. To the contrary, I suspect that the Democrats will have an embarrassment of riches in 2008. They'll be able to choose between two very capable candidates in Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama even though they could run a potted plant and still win.

No Confidence

Last night, Jacob Weisberg of Slate characterized the upcoming Senate resolutions on the surge as a "vote of no confidence" in the Bush administration. That's about right. The Senate resolution won't stop the Bush administration from increasing the number of troops, but it serves as official confirmation of what everybody knows--that President Bush has lost the support of Congress and the American public.

More Shots for Schottenheimer

Last week, sportswriters had Marty Schottenheimer of the San Diego Chargers dead, buried, and fired after the Chargers' playoff loss to the Patriots. However, expectations were confounded when the Chargers decided to bring back Schottenheimer for another year. Under Schottenheimer, the Chargers have gone from doormat to regular season dominance, but sportswriters think that "it don't mean a thing if you can't get a Super Bowl ring."

But that's more a matter of sportswriter bias than anything else. Sportswriters don't understand the technical aspects of football very well, but they can count how many times a coach or player has been to the Super Bowl. So they keep things simple by focusing on the ring. However, winning the Super Bowl is usually a matter of things that neither coaches or players can control at playoff time--getting hot at the right time (last year's Steelers), getting the right supporting cast for a dominant player (Green Bay with Brett Favre and Denver with John Elway), or organizational dominance (New England, San Francisco). Coaches like Marty Schottenheimer and Tony Dungy who have achieved consistent excellence in the intensely competetive NFL deserve enormous credit whether they win Super Bowls or not.

The same is the case with players. Even if Peyton Manning of the Colts never gets to a Super Bowl, he'll still be right up there with Joe Montana and John Elway as one of the best players ever to play a game.

Marty Schottenheimer had a great year as a coach. There shouldn't have been any doubt about whether he should be brought back again.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In Search of Credible Government

Near the beginning of the Bush administration's seventh year, the United States does not have credible government. The Bush administration is no longer credible to either the rest of the American elite or the broad American public. However, the public is not sure yet whether it wants primary responsibility for the country's welfare to be taken up by other institutions. The Bush administration has been furiously pumping air into the balloon of presidential power, but they may find power shifting away from them in the most dramatic fashion possible.

Vice-President Dick Cheney's comment about not running a war "by committee" illustrate the problem. In fact, the Bush administration has proven to the public that it cannot manage either the war in Iraq or domestic policy effectively. That's why Bush's job approval numbers in the U. S. aren't much better than his job approval numbers in France. A landslide majority of the public does not think the Bush administration is capable of effective government.

The Bush administration does not care what the public thinks any more than it cares what Congress, the Democrats, the media, or the UN thinks. Even though the President knew that the 2006 election was a repudiation of the war, he was happy to stick it to the public by escalating the war effort. But, the administration does not want Congress to cut off war funding, close Guantanamo, shut down warrantless wiretapping, or stop the rendition program. That is why they are now showing a willingness to compromise on small things like the deal on warrantless wiretapping announced today by Attorney General Gonzales. This is the Bush administration's end game, to largely defy the rest of American society but not defy the social consensus enough to trigger a Congressional effort to shut down their signature policies.

The Democratic Congressional leadership is in a very different boat. On the day after their election, the Democrats wanted to play it safe. In other words, they were willing to let the Bush administration continue to fail in Iraq and bumble at home while passing a safe and popular legislative program. However, the Bush administration's escalation of the war is proving to be so unpopular that the Democratic Congress may inherit the mantle of legitimate leadership. In that case, the Democrats will have the extremely difficult task of both rendering the Bush administration harmless and leading the country themselves in a time of war. In this context, the job of the Democrats is to keep pushing the administration on the war, keep investigating all their abusive practices, and keep their fingers in the breeze to see how far public opinion wants them to go in challenging the authority of the President.

Reponsibility for the public welfare has fallen almost entirely on the Democrats. Figuring out how to effectively carry out that responsibility while being burdened by the immature provocations of the Bush administration is going to be a tricky business.

Equality Ironies

Life as a College Prof. I've just had my first two days of classes this semester and one of the things that's always impressed me is the abilities of students at Morehead State University in Eastern Kentucky. Even though Eastern Kentucky is one of the poorest regions in the country and even though most students come in from terrible high schools, the talent can be spotted almost as soon as students begin writing. The fact that most students show that they have abilities despite the disadvantages in this region is a sign that students everywhere, people everywhere, have talent. There is equality in the world.

The problem is that the vast majority of students don't believe in equality. Instead, they believe in the domination of those who make the right "choices" over those who don't. Students believe that the number of people who have what it takes is small while most people are dumb-asses, losers, or any other of the hundreds of words we use to characterize failure. Not realizing the extent to which everybody has talent, the most ambitious students find themselves constantly bothered by questions of whether they have real ability.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Iran Boogie Man

Today's mini-scandal is that Iran has been able to acquire some spare parts for its military aircraft through Pentagon surplus sales. Supposedly, the Defense Department is aiding and abetting the Iranian "threat" through its shoddy sales and accounting practices.

But the surplus sales demonstrate how little Iranian threat there actually is.

In fact, Iran is scrounging spare parts for its 1970's vintage F-14 Tomcat fighters. These were the fighters that the Shah had purchased before he was overthrown. The Iranians are "suspected" of purchasing Russian-made planes of more recent vintage, but F-14's and F-4's are still the backbone of the Iranian Air Force. Currently, Iran is supposed to have 78 F-14's, but only 10 are "suspected to be functional" in the portentous words used by the MSNBC article. Having been built in the 1950's, Iran's F-4's are even older and more out of date than the F-14's. In fact, the F-4's were well out of date before George Bush started training as a pilot in the reserves.

Not exactly intimidating stuff.

Although Iran does have missiles, it does not have enough of a military to defend itself against American attacks, let alone threaten anyone.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Drawing Up the Indictment

The Democratic leadership is approaching a crossroads. During the 2006 campaign, the bulk of public opinion was extremely anxious for the Democrats not to be confrontational. People had all the confrontationalism from the Bush administration and the right-wing they could stomach and they did not want the Democrats adding to the burden.

However, the Bush administration's insistence on pursuing the surge in defiance of the outcome of the 2006 elections and the consensus findings of the Iraq Study Group seems to have changed the public mood. A full 70% of the population disapproves of the surge and it looks like more people are beginning to think that the Bush administration needs to be confronted over the lies they told to get into Iraq, the many crimes against humanity they've committed on terrorism suspects, the incompetence with which they have managed the war and more. As a result, the Democratic leadership is feeling pressure to bring the Bush administration to heal. This goes against the instincts of Democratic leaders to lay low and let the Bush administration destroy themselves.

One thing the Democrats can do is draw up an indictment of the full range of abuses involved in the Bush administration's conduct of the war and a good place to start is the enormous volume of lies that the Bush administration told to justify the invasion of Iraq. Here's a partial list of the lies drawn up by

"There was the claim about the "Mobile biological weapons laboratories". Proffered in the absence of any real laboratories in the wake of the invasion, photos of these trailers were shown on all the US Mainstream Media, with the claim they while seeming to lack anything suggesting biological processing, these were part of a much larger assembly of multiple trailers that churned out biological weapons of mass destruction. The chief proponent of this hoax was Colin Powell, who presented illustrations such as this one to the United Nations on February 5th, 2003. This claim fell apart when it was revealed that these trailers were nothing more than hydrogen gas generators used to inflate weather balloons. This fact was already known to both the US and UK, as a British company manufactured the units and sold them to Iraq.

Colin Powell's speech to the UN was itself one misstatement after another. Powell claimed that Iraq had purchased special aluminum tubes whose only possible use was in uranium enrichment centrifuges. . . Following the invasion, no centrifuges, aluminum or otherwise were found.

Powell also claimed to the United Nations that the photo on the left showed "Decontamination Vehicles". But when United Nations inspectors visited the site after the invasion, they located the vehicles and discovered they were just firefighting equipment.

Powell claimed the Iraqis had illegal rockets and launchers hidden in the palm trees of Western Iraq. None were ever found.

Powell claimed that the Iraqis had 8,500 liters (2245 gallons) of Anthrax. None was ever found.
Powell claimed that Iraq had four tons of VX nerve gas. The UN had already confirmed that it was destroyed.

Powell claimed that Iraq had an aggregate of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical and biological warfare agents. Powell gave no basis for that claim at all, and a DIA report issued the same time directly contradicted the claim. No biological or chemical weapons were found in Iraq following the invasion.

Powell claimed that 122mm warheads found by the UN inspectors were chemical weapons. The warheads were empty, and showed no signs of ever having contained chemical weapons.

Powell claimed that Iraq had a secret force of illegal long-range Scud missiles. None were ever found.

Powell claimed to have an audio tape proving that Saddam was supporting Osama Bin Laden. But independent translation of the tape revealed Osama's wish for Saddam's death.

Colin Powell's UN debacle also included spy photos taken from high flying aircraft and spacecraft. On the photos were circles and arrows and labels pointing to various fuzzy white blobs and identifying them as laboratories and storage areas for Saddam's massive weapons of mass destruction program. Nothing in the photos actually suggested what the blobby shapes were and during inspections which followed the invasion, all of them turned out to be rather benign. "

The list of lies in was actually quite a bit longer, and that was just Colin Powell's lies. They didn't get into Dick Cheney's technique of splattering out lies until one of them stuck.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

MLK and Color-blindness: A Speech

Martin Luther King and Color-Blindness

Good Evening. I'm very honored to be here tonight. The topic of my talk is what Martin Luther King would say about color-blindness.

Color-blindness is the idea that persons should be seen without regard to race. Advocates of color-blindness argue that racism in the United States is mostly a thing of the past and that America should act “as if” it were already a color-blind society in which everyone thought of themselves as an individual competing for status, income, and security. Over the last twenty years, color-blindness has become the most prominent rationalization for racial inequality and discrimination in American society. Advocates of color-blindness like William Bennett and Shelby Steele oppose affirmative action, oppose remedies for school segregation, oppose attempts to address economic inequalities among whites and blacks, and oppose efforts to reduce black unemployment. In addition, color-blind ideas are used to justify residential segregation, justify employment discrimination, justify police brutality against black citizens, justify mob violence against blacks, and justify racial stereotyping. For sociologist Eduardo de Silva, color-blindness is color-blind racism, and he argues that “color-blind racism serves today as the ideological armor for a covert and institutionalized system” of white supremacy.

What would Dr. King say about the idea of color-blindness? That’s an interesting question. Advocates of color-blindness like to quote the passage from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” where he says that he dreams of a day his children “will be judged by the content of their character not the color of their skin.” But color-blind advocates are disingenuous when they claim that King envisioned a society of competitive individualism. Dr. King usually spoke about black people, he always spoke as a black person, and once again, always spoke with an intense awareness of the racial character of the oppression of black people in American society. When Dr. King talked about 245 years of slavery, he talked about black people as a race; when Dr. King talked about the crippling effect of “the narrow pigeonhole of segregated schools” on black children, he talked about black people as a race (57); when Dr. King talked about the brutality of Sheriffs Bull Connor in Birmingham and Jim Clarke in Selma (184) toward blacks, he talked about black people as a race; when he talked about how “vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will,” (292) he also talked about black people as a race.

The examples of Dr. King talking about African-Americans as a race or as “a people” pile high in his writings. as King sought the most effective way to convey the monstrosity of white oppression and the urgency of resistance among black people as a whole. When King discussed resistance to the civil rights movement, he talked about it in terms of white mobs, white sheriffs, white moderates, white ministers, white businesses, and the white power structure. Likewise, when Dr. King talked about the courage of the students in Little Rock, the Freedom Riders in Mississippi, the civil rights marchers in Birmingham, and the Voting Rights demonstrators in Selma, he saw the bravery of those individuals as examples of the courage and tenacity of all black people.

Finally, Dr. King was speaking of race in 1967 and 1968 when he wrote of the frustration that he shared with black power advocates about black unemployment was still twice that of white unemployment (and black unemployment is still twice as high as white unemployment even today), the fact that most blacks still received second rate educations in segregated schools, the fact that blacks were subject to pervasive housing discrimination, and that blacks were blocked off from the best forms of employment. In response to the persistent discrimination and inequity, Dr. King expanded his agenda to encompass economic justice as well as civil rights laws. King urged African-Americans to patronize black-owned banks, insurance companies, and construction companies. He also organized an affirmative action program called Operation Breadbasket that employed boycotts to force companies into to hire specific quotas of African-Americans in the future (306). Yes, Dr. Martin Luther King believed in affirmative action. Dr. King also supported the establishment by the federal government of a guaranteed annual income (247), advocated a massive economic program along the lines of the Marshall Plan or the GI Bill (366-368) to give job training and better housing conditions to all poor people, and questioned the relation between capitalism and economic exploitation. For Dr. King, the corporate world, the educational establishment, and the federal government were all like the segregated South in that they needed to be radically changed before justice could be achieved.

What would Dr. King say about the advocates of color-blindness. I believe that Dr. King would classify “color-blindness” as a tactic for delaying and denying racial justice. Dr. King had two categories for resistance to the Civil Rights movement. The first was the open rejection of the KKK, White Citizens Councils, and governors like George Wallace of Alabama and Ross Barnett of Mississippi. The second form of resistance was the various kinds of temporizing arguments used to criticize the civil rights movement on non-racial grounds such as the claim that blacks were not yet ready for integration, or the notion that desegregation laws should be obeyed because they were “the law” rather than because blacks were human beings and brothers. In many ways, Dr. King thought that the clever rationalizations for resisting integration among white moderates were more of a barrier than open defiance. According to the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King thought that “lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” I believe the same would be the case if Dr. King were alive today—that Dr. King would view “color-blindness” as an important barrier, perhaps the most important of the ideological barriers, to the achievement of justice and brotherhood for African-Americans; that Dr. King would view the advocates of color-blindness as more of a threat to progress for blacks than all the Klan members and confederate flaggers combined, and that Dr. King would be just as emphatic in his rejection of color-blindness as he was in his rejection of waiting, his rejection of tokenism, his rejection of any claim that African-Americans did not deserve full equality in American society, and his rejection of the on-going discrimination and structural equality that persisted after the passage of Civil Rights legislation in 1964 and 1965.

I also think King would have gone farther. Noting that the advocates of color-blindness are so anxious to quote from his works, Dr. King would ask them to embrace the spirit of his work as well as the letter of the "I have a Dream" speech. King would ask the advocates of color-blindness to acknowledge that a color-blind society cannot be achieved until racial oppression is as played out as the three-cornered hats that George Washington used to wear—in other words, until whites stop practicing racial oppression and blacks stop having to fight oppression. Dr. King would ask advocates of color-blindness to stop attacking affirmative action, defending employment discrimination, and stop defending racial profiling and police violence; Dr. King would ask advocates of color-blindness to fully acknowledge the crucial contribution of the black struggle against white supremacy to American democracy; and Dr. King would ask advocates of color-blindness to accept that a just America is one in which every person shares in the tremendous economic prosperity of this country not just those in the top ½ of 1% wealth bracket. Finally, Dr. King would ask the advocates of color-blindness to redirect their talents and energies to the creation of the racial and economic justice that would make it possible for every person indeed to be judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. He would ask that of all of us.

Thank you.

(all number citations from Martin Luther King jr., (ed. by James W. Washington) A Testament of Hope: the Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, jr.)

Bush and the Whimpering Renegades

L'Etat c'est George. Dick Cheney's interview on Fox today was the logical outcome of everything he's done as Vice-President since the Bush inaugural. During the interview, Cheney argued that Congressional resolutions against the surge would have no impact on President Bush's conduct of the war. That may be the whole point of the surge. Dahlia Lithwick argues in Slate that the Bush administration has kept Guantanamo open, defied the FISA procedures for getting wiretaps, and tortured prisoners mostly so that they could assert a claim that the President did not have to obey either American or international law. L'Etat c'est George. Perhaps the Bush administration is now trying to demonstrate that a president can conduct a war in defiance of Congress, defiance of the courts, and defiance of public opinion.

The Point of Crisis. Glen Greenwald warns in a compelling blog post that the now-weakened Bush administration may lash out on a major scale as a way to prove their strength to themselves. My own thinking runs in the opposite direction. With the Bush administration committing itself to increasing the number of troops in Iraq, the political initiative is now slipping from Bush's hands to those of the Democratic majority in Congress. Next week, the Democrats are going to pass resolutions rejecting any surge in American troop levels and they're going to get up to 12 Republican votes in support of those resolutions. The next decision that the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate has to make is whether they're going to force a showdown over funding for the Iraq War. The leadership would rather be cautious, but it looks like public opinion might force their hand. The Democratic Congress is now the only credible part of government on the federal level and the the Democrats will be forced to push for a cut-off if public opinion hardens in that direction.

The Clock is Ticking Down: At this point, it's difficult to predict how the Bush administration would respond if Congress did cut off funds for the war. Conceivably, Bush and Cheney could defy the cut-off by unilaterally transferring funds for other accounts. They could also use the occasion to wash their hands of the failed war in Iraq and hope that future events like another 9-11 ultimately justify their position. Perhaps the chances for the former are better. The clock is ticking down on the Bush administration--there are 2 years and 6 days to go. Right now, I think the renegade administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney will go out with a whimper rather than a bang.