Creating a Fascist State in Ten Easy Steps

It looks like George Bush might have studied these ten simple steps for subverting democracy as, to some degree, his administration has been practicing them.

It is obviously an exaggeration to claim that Bush is turning this into a fascist state, but for those of us concerned with the need to limit the power of government to preserve liberty, many of these actions are alarming. It is especially disappointing that most conservatives, who claim to distrust the power of government, can safely be predicted to respond to this article with support for Bush’s policies. The fact that over thirty percent of the country continues to approve of George Bush, and so many in the conservative media and blogosphere defend him, shows how precarious democracy is.

Kryptonite Discovered in Serbia

The Natural History Museum of London reports finding kryptonite:

The large green crystals of kryptonite have a devasting affect on the superhero. However, unlike its famous counterpart, the new mineral is white, powdery and not radioactive. And, rather than coming from outer space, the real kryptonite was found in Serbia.

Geologists and mineralogists from mining group Rio Tinto discovered the unusual mineral. It didn’t match anything known previously to science so they sort the help of mineral expert Dr Chris Stanley at the Natural History Museum.

‘Towards the end of my research,’ says Dr Stanley, ‘I searched the web using the mineral’s chemical formula, sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide , and was amazed to discover that same scientific name written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns’.

‘The new mineral does not contain fluorine and is white rather than green, but in all other respects the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite. We will have to be careful with it – we wouldn’t want to deprive Earth of its most famous superhero!’

Was Milosevic fearful that Superman would intervene in the Balkans and therefore obtained kryptonite as a defense?

The Wall Street Journal Examines Obamanomics

The Wall Street Journal joins in the guessing game as to what Obama really believes on the specifics of policy issues. They find that, on economics, he is to the left of Hillary Clinton and to the right of John Edwards:

One example of how the Illinois Democrat might approach economic policy is an unusual bill he first introduced to little notice shortly after entering the Senate in 2005 — and reintroduced last week. The “Health Care for Hybrids” proposal would offer federal assistance to car makers struggling with hefty retiree health-care costs in exchange for their building more fuel-efficient automobiles.

The legislation requires no sacrifice from labor unions and essentially allows Washington to set environmental goals for a powerful industry. The liberal American Prospect magazine singled out the proposal last year in a list of policy ideas it found promising. “Obama has come up with an audacious proposal.”

While Mr. Obama’s economic platform is still in its formative stages, interviews with his aides and a review of his congressional record and speeches suggest that Obamanomics may place him somewhat to the left of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, but to the right of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, another rival for the 2008 nomination. Mrs. Clinton seems to be cultivating the centrist mantle her husband won during his presidency, while Mr. Edwards is courting the party’s labor and grassroots activist base.

Mr. Obama’s views seem to be tempered by President Clinton’s strong push in the 1990s to steer the Democratic Party toward the center, away from the party’s prior support for protectionism and rhetoric about class warfare. Yet Mr. Obama has voted against a trade agreement and backs policies that redistribute income by taking revenue from the wealthiest to fund programs for middle- and lower-income households. Like most Democrats, he favors rolling back at least the portion of the Bush tax cuts that favor upper-income families.

Obama’s brief time in the Senate also placed him in opposition to John Edwards’s base of support–the trial lawyers:

In 2005, he voted for a bill making it easier for defendants to move class-action lawsuits into federal court. He explained his vote at the time by saying he didn’t want plaintiffs shopping for sympathetic judges, and thought large settlements often benefited the lawyers over the plaintiffs. But the measure was opposed by the Democratic Party’s big trial-lawyer backers. California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is now speaker of the House, criticized the measure then as an “injustice” to consumers because it would make it harder to bring claims.

While still vague, they review what Obama has said so far on health care policy:

Mr. Obama hasn’t yet settled on the specifics of his health-care plan, but aides say he isn’t interested in doing away with the current employer-based model of health insurance, and may not favor mandates requiring that individuals purchase coverage. That differs from Mr. Edwards, the only major candidate so far to unveil a health plan. Mr. Edwards’s proposal would require that all individuals buy coverage “once insurance is affordable” and require businesses to cover their employees or help finance their health insurance.

Still, Mr. Obama goes further than Mrs. Clinton, pledging to have all individuals covered by the end of his first term. She says it will take eight years to achieve that goal.

Mr. Obama is looking for ways to drive down costs, possibly by creating state or national health-care pools and offering hospitals and doctors financial incentives to convert to electronic record-keeping. Among his health-care goals is to keep costs low for business and find ways to “ensure that business can compete in a global economy and that not all the costs are being beared by individuals,” an aide said.

In his book “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama proposes having a nonpartisan group design high-quality, cost-effective health coverage, which individuals could purchase through pools, with private insurers competing for their business.

Karl Rove Under Investigation by Office of Special Counsel

Last night I posted a link to Bush administration officials who are having legal difficulties. It is already out of date due to the addition of another investigation into Karl Rove’s behavior:

Most of the time, an obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities of relatively low-level government employees, stepping in with reprimands and other routine administrative actions for such offenses as discriminating against military personnel or engaging in prohibited political activities.

But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.

First, the inquiry comes from inside the administration, not from Democrats in Congress. Second, unlike the splintered inquiries being pressed on Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified investigation covering many facets of the political operation in which Rove played a leading part.

“We will take the evidence where it leads us,” Scott J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel and a presidential appointee, said in an interview Monday. “We will not leave any stone unturned.”

Note that this is different from the special prosecutors involved in recent high profile investigations. The Office of the Special Counsel is a permanent office which monitors federal employees. TPM Muckracker has more on the office:

This time, it’s the Office of Special Counsel, a federal investigative unit that’s charged with monitoring federal employees, not to be confused with a special counsel or special prosecutor such as Patrick Fitzgerald. The OSC is charged with policing Hatch Act violations and protecting whistleblowers, among other duties. It’s a permanent federal agency, and it’s prosecutions are not criminal prosecutions.

But the OSC does have teeth. If it successfully prosecutes a federal employee before the Merit Systems Protection Board (which acts as its judge), then that employee can be terminated.

Bush Administration Under a Cloud

Just in case you lost your program, here’s an updated guide to the major characters in the national drama of the fall of the Bush administration.