Sore loser Silvio Berlusconi is alleging fraud in the Italian election and demanding his center-left rival is stripped of victory. Romano Prodi's victory has been acknowledged by France, Spain, Luxembourg and the European Commission but not Washington.
I see this as a sign of things to come in America - Berlusconi is a hard right neocon hawk very much in the Bush/Cheney mould and indeed has been much supported by the White House. He's been involved in some nasty practises in Britain involving an alleged bribe to the spouse of a government minister and is now likely to be tried in an Italian court on charges of fraud and corruption over the issue. He has already seved six years for fraud in the past and been narrowly aquitted of other similiar charges. Berlusconi could be a posterboy for rightwing Abramoff style graft. He owns most of Italy's media and makes sure it speaks with his voice.
It's significant that within hours of Berlusconi's defeat being announced the Sicilian Mafia's Boss of Bosses, on the run for forty years, was arrested in the town of Corleone - after everyone had known for years that his friends in politics and big business were protecting him.
If Berlusconi had Bush's self-awarded war powers he would have already declared martial law and himself El Duce. Luckily, the Italian people have already been through the whole deal one and, no matter how chaotic everyone else thinks their politics are, show no inclination to go the same road again.
Whereas Bush has the powers he took unto himself, the domestic wiretaps, the military commands already set up to do an end-run around posse comitatus, the detention camps, the lot. And I'm pretty certain he has the will to use them should the next elected President not be to his liking. A lot of wingnuts would be loudly applaud if he did. I'm not the only one who has noticed - Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is just as worried.