Friday, June 17, 2005

Some things to think about today

The Washington Post reports on the administration's latest attempts to protect their oil and other business partners:
Bush administration officials working behind the scenes have succeeded in weakening key sections of a proposal for joint action by the eight major industrialized nations to curb climate change.

The administration's push to alter the G-8's plan on global warming marks its latest effort to edit scientific or policy documents to accord with its position that mandatory carbon dioxide cuts are unnecessary. Under mounting international pressure to adopt stricter controls on heat-trapping gas emissions, Bush officials have consistently sought to modify U.S. government and international reports that would endorse a more aggressive approach to mitigating global warming.

Last week, the New York Times reported that a senior White House official had altered government documents to emphasize the uncertainties surrounding the science on global warming. That official, White House Council on Environmental Quality chief of staff Phillip Cooney, left the administration last Friday to take a public relations job with oil giant Exxon Mobil, a leading opponent of mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

But there's some good news about the administration: The New York Times is reporting on their new NYT/CBS Poll showing major drops in the president's approval ratings--and even bigger drops in Congress' approval ratings.
Forty-two percent of the people responding to the poll said they approved of the way Mr. Bush was handling his job, a marked decline from his 51 percent rating after of the November election, when he embarked on an ambitious second term agenda led by the overhaul of Social Security. Sixteen months before the midterm elections, Congress fared even worse in the survey, with the approval of just 33 percent of the respondents, and 19 percent saying Congress shared their priorities.
Another big story is hitting the MSM (after weeks in the blogosphere): Ohio's Coingate. Paul Krugman offers his take on this today.

Since their 1994 takeover of Congress, and even more so since the 2000 election, Republican leaders have sought to make their political dominance permanent. They redistricted Texas to lock in their control of the House. Through the "K Street Project" they have put lobbying firms under partisan control, starving the Democrats of campaign funds. And they are, of course, trying to pack the courts with partisan loyalists.

In effect, they're trying to turn America into a giant version of the elder Richard Daley's Chicago.

These efforts have already created an environment in which politicians from the right party and businessmen with the right connections believe, with good reason, that they have immunity.

And politicians who feel that they can exploit their position tend to do just that. It's a likely bet that the scandals we already know about, from Coingate to Tom DeLay's dealings with the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, are just the tip of the iceberg.

The message from Ohio is that long-term dominance by a political machine leads to corruption, regardless of the policies that machine follows or the ideology it claims to represent.

And here's an interesting new wrinkle in the Bolton nomination situation: Dem Senate Leader Harry Reid is continuing to stall on a vote, despite Majority Leader Frist's wishes, until the administration provides the information they've been requesting for weeks--and has tied the Downing Street Minutes into the reason why:

"Concerns about this administration hyping intelligence and Great Britain hyping intelligence cannot be dismissed lightly," Reid said, adding that it "is no small matter for us to learn whether Mr. Bolton was a party to other efforts to hype intelligence."

Bush and his aides, including Bolton, justified the invasion by saying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a threat to the United States, but no such weapons have been found.


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