Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Bush and Republican Party record for the past 6 years

Republican Politics, American Style
Published on September 6th 2007 in Metro Eireann By Charles Laffiteau

Over the past few weeks I have discussed why I believe either active or untreated alcoholism has played a role in President Bush’s resistance to compromise and his unwillingness to admit any mistakes on either foreign or domestic policies, as well as the dangerous influence of Vice President Dick Cheney within the Bush administration. I then outlined mistakes which the Republican administration has made over the past 6 years, with the Republican Congress acting as willing accomplices, which I view as a betrayal of my party’s long held economic principles.
Today as I prepare to return to the states for a couple of months, I want to wrap up my analysis of how my fellow Republicans have performed during their 6 years in complete control of basically all 3 branches of the Federal government. I have tried to focus on 4 important areas, the role of the President, Vice President and their appointees in federal government, the Bush administration and the Republican Congress’s fiscal policies, their collective response to the crisis of healthcare entitlements and today on the President’s lack of respect for the US legal system.
I will conclude by highlighting the problems which have arisen and suggest solutions based on traditional Republican Party principles which have been ignored by both the President and many Republicans in Congress for the last 6 years. I’m not going to spend much time discussing the Iraq war or the so-called “war on terror” because I have already discussed these issues at length in previous columns.
The Republican Party has traditionally been opposed to government intrusion into American citizens’ private lives and a strong supporter of strict interpretation and adherence to the rights of citizen’s as set forth in the US Constitution. Republicans also push for greater respect for the rule of law and the creation of stronger institutions to uphold and enforce laws in other less developed countries which lack such legal systems, while also pointing to the US legal system as a worthy model.
But the Bush administration has shown little respect for US federal laws that it doesn’t like and has also turned the US Constitution on its head in the name of its so-called “war on terror”. Many respected Republican congressmen have joined Democrats in questioning both the constitutionality of many of the anti-terror policies President Bush has claimed he has a right to authorise and the effectiveness of these measures. In fact, whenever the Bush administration has been challenged in the US federal courts on its claims, these largely Republican jurists courts have ruled against the President and his legal advisors.
Federal courts have already ruled against the administration’s warrant less wire taping policies and the US Supreme Court took the administration to task for its refusal to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate CO2 greenhouse gas emissions by automobiles and power plants. Now the US Supreme Court has reversed itself and agreed to hear an appeal arguing that the Guantanamo Bay military detention hearings are unjust and that detainees have a right to contest their detentions in federal court.
Many constitutional lawyers say this was due to a respected Republican lawyer’s account of what he had witnessed while serving as a trial judge at these hearings. They believe that Colonel Abraham’s description of a procedure that he believed was deeply flawed and was simply a tool for military commanders to rubber-stamp decisions they had already made, played an important role in the US Supreme Court’s extraordinary reversal.
Here are a few quotes from Colonel Abraham that were recently published in the New York Times which summarize his views about Guantanamo Bay; “The hearings amounted to a superficial summary of information, the quality of which would not have withstood scrutiny in any serious law-enforcement or intelligence investigation,” He goes on to say how the military commanders reacted when the hearing panels decided that (due to unsupported accusations by unknown persons), a detainee wasn’t really an enemy combatant. “Anything that resulted in a ‘not enemy combatant’ would just send ripples through the entire process,” he said. “The interpretation is, ‘You got the wrong result. Do it again.’ ”
Maybe another ruling by the US Supreme Court against the Bush administration is what it will take to shut down Guantanamo Bay, because Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Rice have thus far been unable to persuade the President to do so. They can not seem to overcome the objections of Cheney and an Attorney General who is thoroughly discredited and widely derided by most Republicans in Congress. But given the Bush administration’s dismal record when it is challenged in federal court, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he and Cheney are standing by Alberto Gonzales even though he has become the laughing stock of Washington DC. The blind leading the blind!
True Republicans treat federal government like a business and hire the best people to run their agencies regardless of party affiliation. They don’t hire incompetent or inexperienced social conservative ideologues like Monica Goodling or officials with prior records of self dealing like J. Steven Giles. They cut loose cabinet officials who prove to be incompetent after they are on the job like Alberto Gonzales, rather than let them continue to demoralise their department’s employees.
True Republicans don’t try to make the federal government bureaucracy larger and more intrusive and they sure don’t use a budget deficit credit card to finance a war or an expansion of entitlement programs. They use a combination of taxes, reduced benefits and tighter eligibility guidelines to ensure the solvency of such programs. They also negotiate like any business would with potential suppliers on the prices the government pays for things like prescription drugs or the reconstruction efforts in Iraq or New Orleans.
True Republicans negotiate with dictators rather than invade their countries to overthrow them. True Republicans demonstrate genuine respect for the rule of law and they don’t thumb their nose at it the way Bush and Cheney have. Slan!

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