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December 29, 2004

Niagara Falls Reporter predictions for 2005

Link: Niagara Falls Reporter Opinion.

It will be a bleak and painful year for Americans at home and our ship of state around the world is terribly off-course.

The insurrection in Iraq will continue and pacification will be increasingly difficult for our overstretched, overexposed and inadequately equipped occupation forces. The attack on the dining hall at the U.S. base in Mosul underscores the vulnerability of all our forces.

Elections in Iraq will proceed on schedule, regardless of what the Iraqi people want. George W. Bush wants the elections and his is the only voice that matters.

Voting will be marked by violence and widespread confusion. Vast regions of the country and large segments of the population will be unable to vote. Others will simply refuse to participate in such a contrived exercise in the American-imposed civics lesson.

George W. Bush will declare the elections a great victory and proof that his experiment in planting seeds of democracy will blossom throughout the Middle East -- except in Saudi Arabia, but that's a personal, family matter.

International observers will pronounce the elections a meaningless "political show," as the process will fuel more sectarian and ethnic hostilities. Iraqi security forces will be of little use in quelling the disturbances during the elections.

Field Marshall Rumsfeld will survive. His screw-ups don't matter. He has the unflinching support of Dick Cheney, who has told the president that "Rummy stays."

More evidence of abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners will emerge and those horrors will be traced to "Do what you have to do" memos and OKs from the White House. The Red Cross, Red Crescent and Amnesty International will document torture and murder in the prisons. The military atrocities at Guantanamo Bay will make the civilized world sick.

The Bush administration will blame "rogue" National Guard units and media "hype."

But the man behind the curtain of fascism -- White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who wrote legal briefs enabling torture and, in effect, declaring the president is a king -- will become Attorney General of the United States.

Instead he should be facing indictment, imprisonment and disbarment. He's a first-rate toady and third-rate legal mind, but rises to undeserved respectability as a devoted, professional Bush loyalist, who will say and write anything to please the boss. Lawyers who take their oaths seriously should be outraged!

Democrats in the Senate will be politically correct, roll over and allow the confirmation of a man whose wanted poster should hang outside every respectable court of international justice.

Condoleezza Rice presents another portrait of easy confirmation. Forget that she ignored a specific warning that Osama bin Laden was planning to use airplanes to attack the United States. She will glibly defend the whole episode as misinterpretations about what the word "threat" meant. She will talk for days and say nothing.

A handful of senators might ask her a few tough questions. In the end, they will simply roll over.

Actually, she does have some expertise in the old Soviet Union, where she could prove herself invaluable in trying to get Bush's "soul mate," Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, to stop dancing with Stalin's ghost.

But Bush wants Condi nearby. In his world, personal convenience always looms larger than world issues. She, too, should not be confirmed. Her national security failures and her fabrications about Iraq and Saddam should make her political toast. But the Democratic wimps in the Senate will rescue her from the grill.

I predict Rudy Giuliani's halo will permanently disappear and his sidekick -- the once would-be Secretary of Homeland Security, Bernie Kerik -- will be in more legal hot water. These two are rewriting the book of sleaze and neither will hold public office ever again.

Bush will get the Congress to craft some kind of privatized Social Security accounts.

They won't do a damn thing to address the real problem and won't offer any specifics about reductions in benefits, older retirement age and greater payroll deductions. That would require courage and candor.

We have, as they say in Texas, a president who is "all hat and no cattle." He ain't gonna tell the real truth. He'll just swag and brag and "pray" for a good year to come. I worry about an unending war and the suffering it will cause, the desecration of our environment, a tidal wave of national debt and the fate of millions of Americans who don't have jobs.

But I do predict that 2005 will be a year of enlightenment for all of us.

Posted at 6:50 AM

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