Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bush Attacks Media to Cover Up His Failures

As it becomes increasingly obvious that Bush is too incompetent, ideological and dishonest to be remembered as a successful president, his press has not been very flattering of late. Of course, the media for the first four and a half years of his presidency tended to give Bush not only a free pass on a number of issues but even accolades for things that did little for America such as strutting on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln when the job in Iraq was already being bungled. As usual, Bush thinks his problems can be solved with better press and if the press is not going to cooperate, than his 'solution' is another one of his heavy, ham-fisted operations that do more harm to America than good; the attempt to bash The New York Times into submission because of another story embarrassing to Bush simply highlights the disastrous ineptitude of not only Bush but the party in Congress that supports his nonsense.

I wish the Republican Congress had the courage to hold the president and even crooked members of its own party accountable. All we can do at the moment is point out that Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist are guilty of dereliction of duty. They block every attempt to bring accountabililty back into the halls of Congress. In the meantime, Hastert and Frist have their own ethics problems, Hastert with his profits on highway legislation and Frist with his not so blind trust. This apparently is the best the Republican party can offer America at the moment.

Time magazine has an article by Eleanor Clift that amplifies the growing fact that if the right wing Republicans in Congress are incapable of enforcing accountability, then the job falls to a press that may finally be making some noise, feeble though it has been for most of the last five years:
The larger point is that journalists have taken up the task of holding this administration accountable. Congress has done nothing. A new book, “The Broken Branch,” by congressional scholars Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, makes the point that the Republicans who vaulted into the majority in 1994 are either crusaders, for whom the institution is incidental, or opportunists, getting rich at the expense of the institution. Ornstein has been around a long time and has a strong stomach. He’s seen all manner of financial and sexual escapades over the years, “but now it’s not just illegal stuff, it’s the stuff that’s legal,” he says, pointing to the 10-fold increase in “earmarks” since the Republicans took power. These are pet projects that benefit individual members tucked into legislation without scrutiny at the last minute. “There are members making killings in earmark transactions,” says Ornstein. Among them is House Speaker Dennis Hastert who bought a piece of rural property in his Illinois district and then worked hard to earmark $207 million in federal money for a major highway nearby. He sold the property for a $2 million profit. When news of his windfall made the front pages, Hastert blamed the “unrelenting Democratic media.”

Another example Ornstein cites is Republican Jerry Lewis, a 27-year veteran of Congress who compromised his reputation in the competition to become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. The highly coveted post is like being paymaster for the government. Instead of basing the decision on seniority, the way it was done in the past, or on credentials or merit, the Republicans turned it into a contest between Lewis and two other members to see who could raise the most money to elect Republicans. “They went out and embarrassed themselves and soiled themselves,” says Ornstein. Lewis met with a New York-based hedge fund that contributed $110,000, soon after which he reversed position in a committee vote to give these investors a windfall. He got the job.

I'm not a lawyer and I'm not a policy expert and I'm old enough to know that sometimes the things you wish for can backfire but there is a part of me that wishes that if the Democrats manage to gain control of either the Senate or House, that they would pass a resolution reminding government employees and others who may be involved in federal contracts that if there is a choice between upholding the US Constitution and the law, or obeying a president or advisers who are bent on breaking the law, the law must be followed and if there are problems such as threats of job loss, such people are free to notify members of Congress. Actually, if Democrats win a house, I imagine many people who are now afraid to speak up will finally have the courage to do so.


Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

From the beginning of the New Dark Age of Bush and Cheney, destroying protections for whistleblowers and otherwise discouraging them has been an administration priority.

The courts seem to be on the same page, too.

With depradations like putting Lewis and others up to competing for a committee chairmanship on the basis of money grubbing being SOP for Republicans, we need conscientious people blowing whistles all over the place.

BTW, those revelations about the House leadership only reinforce my belief that under GOP control, the U.S. House of Representatives has become the absolute worst legislative body in the land. It's bad enough to give representative democracy a bad name.

7:18 PM  

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