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The Guns of August

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Congress is on vacation. Yes, I know, we have already mentioned that. The point of mentioning it again is to hone the point that recesses like this are a time when the Executive Branch should be on vacation, too, rousable in case of real emergency, but basically supine in a hammock somewhere, recharging depleted batteries.
This year the situation is fraught with various ill-omens, not the least of which is that both the President and Vice President are eminently eligble for impeachment-the I-word, that keeps being catcalled from virtually all quarters, but not in sufficient volume to persuade the Old Bulls in the Democratic caucus to read their Constitutions. The fraught part of this is that neither Bush nor Cheney are eligible for re-election, but both seem quite intent on grabbing power to the Executive, and you just have to ask yourself why.

Why? They must have something up their sleeves, say some ... many actually. They cannot believe that anyone from the group of ten candidates (or eleven if you count Fred, who has not done so well getting his tip jar salted so far) who lose to "none of the above" in polls are likely to succeed Bush or Cheney. Why then would Bush and Cheney be pulling power to a place they will have to abandon quite soon?

The situation is fraught with the answer(s) to that question, namely that they intend to instigate something that will virtually up-end the calendar of democracy. Let's see; what on earth could that be?

Well, Bush has had the Cabinet together in the the aftermath of the immigration policy bill debacle and order a shift to a new gear of enforcement. It is not exactly new policy, but it amounts to that given the differences in energy and commitment.

As I reported here earlier in the week, the politics of this are generally counterproductive to the party ordering the new levels of enforcement. Republican business owners will be quite annoyed when they are fined large amounts for infractions of hiring policies. So will Democratic business owners, who, I think we can all agree, will be prosecuted first and heaviest. The barrios will be seething with families ripped apart by unemployment, deportation, and the like. These were unlikely to vote Republican in the first place, so the shot Bush is putting across the minority bow this August has a meaning, perhaps, that goes beyond this level of politics.

The best time to confound Congress is when it is in recess. The stories Congressmen and women will hear back in their districts and states this August (if they are back there much of the time) will be tales of anguish, anger, and discontent. Congresspeople will not be in Washington to talk it over and to harass Bush and his Cabinet. When Congress convenes again there will be the issue of another I-word-Iraq-to deal with, so the continuation of the immigration crack-down will serve to embroil the Congress in a divisive issue just when it needs to be concentrating on the bizarre reality in Iraq.

But, there is yet another I-word for August. It is Cheney's favorite country, Iran. If you listen carefully on the edges of the corporatist media to the McClatchy news or the press in the U.K. you will hear about Dick Cheney rattling the sword and polishing the bombs he intends to rain down on the Ayatollahs and Mr. Ahmadinejad when the pretext ripens this fall ... or will it be sooner, while Congress is out touring vacation spots across the country or visiting the Green Zone for one last $5 carpet.

The Old Bulls who have Nancy Pelosi in thrall of all their legislative swack in the House are playing a very dangerous game of chicken with Dick Cheney. Their resistance to impeachment gives aid and comfort to Dick Cheney every day. Their belief that this will all be over like a bad dream in virtually "no time" will look awfully stupid when this nightmare of an administration finally flies off the constitutional rails and engages our country in a death struggle with Iran. It seems clear that Cheney and Bush have very little concern for the niceties of civil rights and civil liberties anyway, so an all-out war with Iran (and Iranians everywhere they may be) is sure to be a swan song for the Constitution. Iraq will be the staging ground it was always intended to be, and impeachment will be impossible.

Keep alert in August. It may turn out to be much more important that the September the media have you ready for.

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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

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