Wednesday, June 28, one day's coverage in The New York Times, conveys a clear sense of how solidly the Bush ideology has infected America and its social, economic and political life.
Story #1 [front page by Carl Hulse] -- The flag amendment was defeated by one vote -- an amendment to the US Constitution to make the desecration of the American flag a federal crime. Not an amendment to protect burning copies of the US Constitution itself, or an amendment to protect the burning of the Declaration of Independence -- two documents which certainly contain the essence of America more than any cloth or some silly flag pin found in abundance on the lapels of all those hundreds of Republican draft dodgers and chickenhawks. And then, of course, when you have a President who refers to the US Constitution as just a "goddamned piece of paper," it's not surprising the Republicans use the flag as a loincloth to protect their manhood. What really stinks is that Democrats like Diane Feinstein and Harry Reid voted for it.
Story #2 [page A16 by Kate Zernike] -- Republican Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is "riled" by Bush's use of what are called "signing statements, memorandums issued with legislation as he signs it..." In effect, Bush uses these statements to reserve his right to interpret them as he wishes. If he chooses not to enforce them, Specter argues, he can justify doing so by issuing the signing statements. Specter maintains that Bush has exercised this abuse of power on over 750 laws enacted since he has become President. This tactic, of course, effectively eliminates the checks and balances of the government established by our founding fathers. At least there is one Republican that is paying it lip-service.
Story #3 [front page by Reed Abelson] -- This is a good investigative report which clearly shows the links between physicians hired by medical device makers to do research on their products in development and the money that comes from non-profit organizations owned or controlled by either the doctors or the device makers. The interconnections of all these self-serving interests demonstrate little regard for ethics and conflict of interests, while, to the contrary, rfeflect great regard for making lots of money. This story is the tip of the iceberg and, of course, applies equally (although the money is even bigger) to the relationships between "researchers" and drug companies.
Story #4 [page A8 by Scott Shane] -- Senator Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is launching a study to determine the extent of damage caused by the press disclosure of American counterterrorism actions related to money transfers by terrorists through the SWIFT consortium. Roberts, in a tour de force of hypocrisy, claims that the media is not acting responsibly and cannot be persuaded to "protect the means by which we protect this nation." While Roberts is anxious to pillory America's media, he refuses to hold hearings on or undertake investigations of the Bush administration's misuse of intelligence, fabrication of intelligence, and failures of intelligence on a whole range of issues.
Story #5 [page C3 by Edmund L. Andrews] -- Pity poor Henry M. Paulson, Jr., testifying before the Senate Finance Committee regarding his nomination to become secretary of the Treasury. He says: "Having good ideas is one thing. Having good ideas that are doable is another thing." What challenges he must face with all his good ideas -- he wants to keep taxes low, put restraints on the budget, increase American competitiveness, and use persuasion with China rather than threats. He is leaping into bed with a Bush administration that has cut taxes for the wealthy (to the detriment of everyone else), exploded a budget beyond anyone's wildest imaginations, decreased American competitiveness (the American automobile industry, for example, is tanking), and, finally, which has used threat and military menace more than persuasion in most of its international relationships. According to the story, Paulson offered no hints (much less details) of his own economic priorities. Unless he surprises us all, he seems to fit well into the Bush silence, tell-them-as-little-as-possible, keep-your-mouth-shut, frame of mind.