Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Read Between The Lines: Has The Bush Administration Scared Us Into Looking The Other Way While It Consolidates Power?

Consider two items from the news:

A new report from the libertarian CATO Institute on the Bush presidency: "The pattern that emerges is one of a ceaseless push for power, unchecked by either the courts or Congress, one in short of disdain for constitutional limits."

Meanwhile, former Homeland Security inspector general Clark Kent Ervin writes in his new memoir, “Clearly, the Homeland Security Department has served to make us only marginally safer, and in the age of terror, marginally safer is not enough.”

These are not liberal sources. If anything, these are sources that should be friendly to the goals of a so-called politically conservative administration.

But what does it say that the administration has taken questionable steps -- side-stepping existing laws, failing to adequately protect our borders, pushing to kill Democratic-sponsored proposals on Homeland Security, unnecessarily placing politics into the discussion on domestic terrorists, looking the other way when a country with previous ties to terrorism wants to take over our ports -- while claiming to protect the homeland? Has this administration accomplished much of anything, other than consolidating power at the excecutive branch?

Another non-liberal who is unhappy with the administration's apparent power grab is Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has questioned President Bush's assertion that he has the power to bypass more than 750 laws enacted over the past five years.

''There is some need for some oversight by Congress to assert its authority here," Specter told the Boston Globe. ''What's the point of having a statute if ... the president can cherry-pick what he likes and what he doesn't like?"

And let's not even get into the fiasco that is the Iraq War. The Bush Administration sold that war with half-truths and misinformation, gave Congress only partial information to lock up its support, and ever since has spun, spun and spun some more, hoping that Americans would believe that overthrowing Saddam Hussein was an appropriate reaction to the events of Sept. 11, or the ongoing global fight against Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

Are we safer? Ervin, the former Homeland Security inspector general, says "marginally."

That shouldn't make any American happy, given the cost.


Blogger thewaronterrible said...

Yes, despite all that, one-third of the population and the Washington D.C. press corps continue to afford this president credibility. Can you believe it?
History will bow its' head in shame.
If people were spared the Reich-wing originated obfuscation, this president would be unanimously considered no more competent to run this country than would former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow be considered competent to run the U.S. Treasury.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Kenny R. said...

Spector: That's funny. Everybody knows he's the biggest RINO in Congress. But I guess at this point, the Desperate Dems will use anybody to prove their point. The problem is your missing the big picture. This is an oligarchy, brother. Both parties are one in the same. Any fool can see that. And, sadly, nothing is going to change it.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

So I guess, Kenny, we should just blow off the entire subject.

I mean, Ervin must be a RINO, too. And CATO aren't really Republicans. And all those other inconvenient facts ... just toss them out, right?

"Both parties are one in the same."

>> That's an intellectually lazy thing to say, Kenny. It may be comforting -- your crap is no better than my crap, etc. -- but you can't back it up with anything. I doubt you could provide any significant evidence to support the idea that the current GOP and the current Democratic Party have anything in common.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous ditto said...

Protection Schmotection.
The important things is W created a another big wing of government, an entire department called "Homeland Security". With a name like that we MUST be safer... right?

Good to have you back JABBS. Hope all is well.

6:48 PM  
Blogger lost faith said...


2:59 AM  
Blogger lost faith said...

It's great to have this site back again. Since you left, the traditional press, now collectively known as MSM, has taken a beating - and one its due. But after smacking it around for a while, then what? Without traditional media's investigatory capabilities, you might as well bring on Nero's replacement 'cause it's time for the fiddle playing.

It's sad there isn't a greater critical approach in the media to issues such as these because, like Babylon, the discourse gets segregated into many fragments such as the comments of both Kenny and rob. Both points have vaildity - they're not mutually exclusive.

No, technically, the 2 parties don't form an oligarchy, but the point of them being too similar to make a significant difference on many issues is true. How about Hillary's vote for Bush's preemption, as well as her continuing support for this nightmare we're in now? On that day when the Democrats could've separated themselves distinctly from the right wing ideology of the Administration, they chose not to do it. How about Katrina? Where's the Democratic leaderhsip on that? How about Feingold's move to censure or Conyer's move to impeach? They sit and wait for the zeitgeist to change.

Joe Klein's new book brilliantly highlights the synthesis of the two parties by explaining their dependence on focus groups. Where has leaderhsip gone on both sides of the aisle? To about 1,000 participants in any given poll who detail what is and what is not acceptable. And so far Hillary, along with many of her collegaues, have followed this roadmap so that, essentially, they're indistinguishable from their opponents. Remember Kerry's lethal line about being against the war after he had voted for it.

If Kenny's right and it's an oligarchy, it's not run entirely by the inner circle but by the handful of citizens who express what's acceptable. This is in concert with the fear politicians have of losing their job, and more importantly, their power.

The second point of synthesis is Big Money, which calls the shots for both parties. Rob, what have the Democrats done about advancing an energy policy? A universal health care policy? An immigration policy? A fair and understandable prescription drug policy? Basically, no more than the Republicans. It's foolish to think otherwise. In this regard they are united by omission. Today, the best thing they've got going is Bill Clinton's move to extract soda from schools and Biden's plan to divide Iraq into 3 sections. That's basically it.

Of course they both have extensive platforms typed out, and speeches prepared to differentiate themselves from their opponents, but the America people have swallowed enough snake oil by now so they see through the charade.

That's what the press and both parties seem to be missing. The trust in government, in the traditional media, and the American dream are rapidly eroding.
Maybe the focus group callers aren't asking, Do you still believe in the basics of this democracy? Who knows? But it can't go on much longer before attitudes harden and ultimately become irreversible. And that's the sense of lost faith in Kenny's assessment that's alarming. But don't blame him. It's justifiable.

There's been a whole lotta scammin' going on by both parties, the media, and the electorate itself who don't act like the critical stewards a good democracy needs to exist.

3:37 AM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

I can appreciate Lost Faith's above attempt to be fair and objective.
But can we stop it with the Kerry: "I voted for the war before I voted against it" already.
Yes, Kerry should be faulted only to the extent it was a stupid comment that Republicans/conservatives could easily manipulate and completely take out of context. As a result of this, and an unquestioning MSM, it largely caused Kerry to lose the election.
However, it is interesting to note the MSM did not get even a smidgen of the same play to a Bush comment: "I don't know where Bin Laden is. I don't spend that much time on him."
In proper context, Kerry was talking about initially voting against the $87 billion in funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, because he believed it lacked tight and focused spending requirements. (If I remember correctly, and someone catch me if I'm wrong, Bush initially rejected the very same funding plan).
Further Kerry also was hardly allowed to tell his side of the story in the MSM. He said he foremost voted for the war resolution because it was clearly worded that it was meant to coerce Sadaam into cooperate with the U.N. inspectors. It emphasized Bush would only resort to war as a last resort. Bush also repeated this stand to congress and the American people.
Kerry has since learned what is since been decided by a majority of Americans: Bush mislead everyone, congress included. It was the Administration's intent all along to attack Sadaam, facts, the UN inspections, representations to Americans be damned.
Kerry sensed what has since been found by the Congressional Research Office: Congress was not provided with the same intelligence as Bush.
In addition, Kerry was similarily damned by the conservatives and the mainstream media for his pre-election comment that the U.S. "needed a consensus" from the world to go to war.
In retrospect, now that the majority of America has decided that Iraq is a quagmire, I think most Americans would now agree with Kerry: He was only speaking ocmmon sense.
If the Bush Administration had listened to the greater world, the U.S. would not be in this quagmire right now.
I don't mean to revisit history. But I think the continuation of such misleading interpretations of "voted for before voting against" comment act continue to excuse the Bush Administration for its failures to recognize the problems with its Iraq policy early on.
Those who fail to interpret history are doomed to repeat it.

11:24 AM  

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