The Rooster Guarding the Hen House

Keep your eye on the ball

Ah, February. Cold, short, anti-climatic February. There's only about five days until this month ends, but this is my first blog entry of the month. It is not because there have been no topics to comment upon. It's just been my feeling in the last month or so that reality has been so bizarre, there's been no need for me to point out the absurdities.

I want you to keep something in mind throughout this entry (and maybe take it home with you, as well).

The Bush administration spent $1.6 billion on public relations in the last 30 months. (click here if you have reason to doubt this)

Despite its gaffes, ineptitude, and increasing unpopularity, "spin" is, and always has been, a top priority for this administration. Oh, and denial too.

So any time something happens to monopolize the news, it is wise to go to page two of your newspaper (or Web site) and see what else is happening that day. There is the possibility that perhaps the most publicized events are not the most important.

Let's take the comedian's fodder for the last week or so:

The vice president shoots a man and that consumes the headlines for a few days. (And the victim apologizes for being shot!) Has anything like that ever happened in American history (with the exception of the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, which we still remember about 200 years later)? Though it remains in dozens of late-night monologues, that story has now virtually disappeared from the actual "news." Yes, the information had been withheld for a day or so. And it was minimized (oh, just a little buckshot to the face, which later somehow found its way to the victim's heart and gave him a heart attack. Just a little baby heart attack, though. Nothing really to worry about.) No charges pressed, VP sneering as usual, everything now neatly tidied up.

But I just have to wonder. I don't have any doubt that this administration--especially the Vice President's office--will go to great lengths to accomplish what they want. The VP has as much as admitted that about other events. So let's take a journey back about ten days and see what was actually vying for the front page before this National Enquirer-type story displaced everything.

"Scooter" Libbey had just said that he had been given the information he leaked--outing a CIA operative--from a higher source: Dick Cheney. And rather than rebutting it, Dark Prince Cheney said, yes, the Vice President has the authority to release privileged, confidential information. As probes have found out, the information was released perhaps to smear a critic of the Iraq war; and it turned out the critic was accurate that we had no reason to invade that country. Or not the reasons that were given. That all got dropped from the news (And, or course, the news media shares a great deal of culpability in getting distracted so easily. Or fixating endlessly on non-important items.)

Michael Brown, horseboy of FEMA, was pointing fingers at his superior, Michael Chertoff, the head of the "brainchild" agency, Department of Homeland Security, for bungling the handling of the Katrina rescue. Read page two, and you will find out that everyone, now, is agreeing that the Federal agency was completely dysfunctional--including Chertoff, a Republican-led House committee (which called the response to the hurricane "a national failure"), and even the White House, which first claimed to be ignorant about the severity of the situation. (Is ignorance a better excuse than incompetence? I guess they believe it is.) But an investigation also found that the White House knew about the levee breach in New Orleans a day before it admitted it did. The House Committee said thousands of injuries and deaths could have been prevented.

What else was in the news?

Osama bin Laden had just re-emerged and promised fresh attacks, and also offered a truce. Bush refused.

The United Nations had concluded that the United States is practicing prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, and called for that prison camp to be closed. Bush refused.

New Abu Ghriab pictures surfaced, further enflaming anti-Western sentiment in the Middle East.

Hamas won a "free" and "democratic" election in Palestine, and Bush, who claims to favor free and democratic elections, immediately refused to recognize the new government.

The Patriot Act was renewed with, as more then one Senator said, merely cosmetic changes.

The Administration proposed sales of 300,000 acres of Federal forest land to pay for schools.

The President stubbornly stood by the bugging and wiretapping of Americans without warrants or court oversight, even though Senators and House members of his own party had begun to bristle and revolt at the unprecedented grab for power by the Executive Branch.

The lawyer who helped provide the rationale for such an invasive policy was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Bush refused to acknowledge that he knew corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, though Abramoff provided pictures to prove it, and investigations pointed to a close connection between him and Bush's main advisor, Karl Rove.

On top of an astonishing 423 billion dollar federal deficit (and record trade imbalances), the President renewed calls for $1.4 trillion in tax cuts and proposed spending an additional $120 billion for Iraq (and $18 billion on Katrina relief, despite the billions that have been misspent) while proposing the reduction of a slew of domestic programs to help citizens here at home such as Medicare, vocational education, parent resource centers and anti-drug programs.

Iran restarted its nuclear program, condemned by just about everyone in the world, but some of our nation's top military strategists told us that we have few troops to go into that country, if we had to.

Oh, and did we say that Iraq has been getting closer and closer to a civil war?

So was the little shooting incident that monopolized page one for that week really such a bad thing for the Vice President and the administration? Was it just a little accident?

Give Them Some Good Port
And now that Cheney's smoke has literally cleared, we find out that--despite tough words by the administration about security, protection and hunting down those who are "against us"--they were asleep at the wheel when an Arab consortium was offered a deal to provide security for some of the nation's most important ports, including New York, New Orleans and Miami. Or were they? An AP story yesterday said that there had been special negotiations between "The White House" (which apparently no longer includes the President) and this firm from the United Arab Emirates. (According to the 9/11 commission's report, two of the hijackers hailed from that country, and much of the funding for the attack flowed through that country.) I am not going to get into whether or not this firm deserves to get the contract--"profiling" is a different topic indeed, if this is even profiling. But is the administration lying about what they knew? Again?

I'll take you back to Michael Moore's, Craig Unger's, (and other investigator's) documentation that the Bush "dynasty" has a special relationship with some in the Arab world. And we can ponder how far that might extend.

Well, perhaps the only good thing is that maybe, finally, Republicans too are beginning to see through the emperor's sheer clothing.

Hopefully this little posting lasts you (and me) for the rest of February.

Posted: Thu - February 23, 2006 at 10:46 AM