Anyone who has taken even the most cursory note of current events would know that the United States has taken a serious list to starboard - one so serious that the Ship of State in in danger of overturning.
Imagine my shock and dismay, when while struggling into my Mae West and sliding across the sloping deck toward the rapidly-filling lifeboat, I see a headline from today's Washington Post:
Republicans have already changed how the business of government gets done, in ways both profound and lasting. The common theme is to consolidate influence in a small circle of Republicans and to marginalize dissenting voices that would try to impede a conservative agenda.
It makes one wonder where WaPo was when the Ship of State hit the radical iceberg!
Has it really gotten to be so bad that even the Washington Post has finally taken note and dared to publish this 'revelation' as if it were news to the rest of us? Maybe it has:
Bush has tightened the reins on Cabinet members, centralizing the most important decisions among a tight group of West Wing loyalists. Now, the White House and Congress are setting their sights on how to make the judiciary more deferential to the conservative cause...
One has to ask author Jim VandeHei and the entire WaPo editorial staff: Where the hell have you been for the last 25 years???? Have you been backing into the future by only seeing where we have been, and only now has our recent past come into your focus?
The transformation started in the House in the 1990s and intensified with Bush's 2000 election. The result has been a stronger president working with a compliant and streamlined Congress to push the country, and the courts, in a more conservative direction, according to historians, government scholars, and current and former federal officials.
When Republicans won control of the House in 1994, conservatives turned an institution run by Democrats and veteran chairmen into a top-down organization that looked in some ways like the flow chart of a Fortune 500 business. The idea was to put power in the hands of a few leaders and place conservative loyalists in the most important lower-level jobs to move legislation as quickly as possible through Congress, according to current and former lawmakers.
Comparing the government to a corporation isn't a bad move here, but doesn't WaPo have a business section? Do you think for a moment that the investors who read that section would tolerate news and analysis of great importance arriving eleven years too late???
(I will be generous for this post and allow the WaPo timetable of GOP dominance to stand. I will ignore the historical fact that Ronald Reagan had the Democrats eating our of his hand from the moment he won the election as they trembled in fear of his followers.
(Personal anecdote to prove my point. When Reagan won the 1980 election, Los Angeles newscasters tended to wear casual clothes on set. The women often wore sun dresses and the like, while the reporters wore sport shirts. Only the male anchors wore suits. Within three days of Reagan's election, all of the media wore business attire.
(And so it began.)
But even allowing for all of this, it was clear to those of us paying attention that the following observation of WaPo was the intended result of the ($)election of George W. Bu$h in 2000 - a ($)election in which the media, as embodied by WaPo, clearly played favorites:
Bush created a top-down system in the White House much like the one his colleagues have in Congress. He has constructed what many scholars said amounts to a virtual oligarchy with Cheney, Karl Rove, Andrew H. Card Jr., Joshua Bolton, himself and only a few others setting policy, while he looks to Congress and the agencies mostly to promote and institute his policies.
Far from doing the nation a service with their Twelve O'clock Scholarship, WaPo actually feeds into it. They find a way to tie some of the blame to Bill Clinton:
President Bill Clinton oversaw a transition of government away from strong agencies, which historically provided a greater variety of opinions in policymaking.
"On the surface it looks like Bush is doing this better than Clinton, but there is much more going on," said Paul C. Light, an expert on the executive branch. Light said Bush has essentially turned most of the agencies into political arms of the White House. "It's not just weakening agencies but strengthening political control of the agencies," he said.
WaPo also ignores the implications of the worst of the Bu$hCo actions while presenting certain factual information:
With control over the House Rules Committee, which determines which bills make it the floor, how they will be debated and whether they can be amended, Republicans have made it much harder for Democrats to offer alternatives -- for example, a smaller tax cut than one Republicans advocate. Democrats also are increasingly shut out of the final negotiations on legislation between the House and the Senate before bills are sent to Bush for his signature.
Also moving in this direction is the Senate, where Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) seized control of selecting committee members after the 2004 elections increased his majority to 55 seats.
"Anybody with a brain knew once Republicans got their hand on the wheels . . . there was going to be punishment" because they felt silenced and slighted when Democrats were in control, said former senator Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.).
Since WaPo didn't cover this until it's almost too late to do much about the emerging one-party state that is a prime goal of Bu$hCo - one that, as Mary points out in her excellent article on the long-term goals of the Radical Religious Republicans - one can easily draw, in a manner similar to that of any typical well-indoctrinated Red Stater, the inference that WaPo doesn't have a brain, especially since they seem to have missed this clearly visible and salient fact of Bu$hCo life.
One has to wonder why WaPo are removing the Bu$hCo blinders now, after all these years, after all the scandals, after all the calls from people outside the Beltway. What is it that has finally broken the spell that kept WaPo in thrall to King George and the BFEE/PNAC Petroleum Pirate Po$$e Court Je$ter$? Could it be that the WaPo owners have decided that King George broke his promise of huge profits to them and the other members of the Topper class? Have they decided that King George is no Kriegsfuehrer since he can't even see to it that the world's most expensive military has control of a third-rate nation like Iraq?
I don't know, but whatever the reason is, do they not see that it is essentially almost too late to do anything about the monster they helped to create?
As Eric Alterman puts it in his MSNBC column which also looks at this WaPo article:
Call me shrill, ideological, or whatever you like, but I think we’re losing our Constitution, our civil liberties, and in many significant respects, our country. When future historians look back on this period, they will wonder, most of all, I think, how we let it go without a fight.
I don't know how this is all going to work out, but somehow, I don't see as likely this scenario WaPo presents by way of closing their expose:
"I would remind my friends that you may one day be in the minority and you won't want to be [run] roughshod over," said former minority leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.), who served in the House for 38 years, 14 as leader.
WaPo apparently still hasn't read the USA Patriot Act. They would know that King George has a lot of spears to stick into their tardy First-Amendment hides as they drag us down the road to ruin-nation [sic].
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