Matt's Blog
...religion, politics, and other things you should never discuss at bars (but probably do anyways).
Thursday, April 17, 2003

Sen. William Frist, MD: The Doctor is Out? It appears that the new Senate Majority Leader may not be as adept as the Bush White House expected in his leadership role. Will the heads start rolling or will the GOP trouble in the Senate continue?

Senate Leader's Tax Cut Flap, Missteps Have Caused Problems for Bush and GOP

Frist Off to Rocky Start
By Jim VandeHei and Helen Dewar

As a close friend and political ally of President Bush, Sen. Bill Frist seemed the White House's ideal choice when he captured the Senate majority leader post in December. Yet 100 days into the job, the Tennessee Republican has stumbled in pushing the president's agenda and infuriated some fellow Republicans by cutting a last-minute deal to slash Bush's prized tax cut package.

Frist, who won his job with Bush's help, has surprised friends and foes alike with a rocky and sometimes awkward transition to power. After Republicans bragged that they needed just one more vote to approve Bush's bid to drill for oil in an Alaskan wildlife refuge, Frist's leadership team didn't find it. After Frist quietly reached out to California Democrats to strike a deal on Bush's plan to limit medical malpractice jury awards, negotiations collapsed and he had to lay the matter aside.

Even some GOP victories under Frist have come at a steep price. Senate Republicans passed tax cuts for charitable giving, for instance, but only after jettisoning much of Bush's ballyhooed faith-based initiative. Nothing, however, raised more questions about Frist than last week's tax cut negotiations, which left House GOP leaders fuming and accusing the Senate leader of purposely misleading them.


Kuwait Chris

Connecticut's own...

Rep. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, ignored requests from the U.S. military and the State Department by crossing over the Kuwait border into Iraq yesterday and complaining that humanitarian aid isn't getting to the Iraqi people fast enough.

Mr. Shays, the first member of Congress to get into the war-torn country, traveled across the border with a convoy of aid workers from the Connecticut-based charity Save the Children. But other U.S. lawmakers meeting with military leaders in Kuwait were told they could not go, Mr. Shays told the Associated Press in a phone call from Kuwait.

Aid organizations are frustrated, he said, because the military, citing security concerns, is limiting their activities to just one community, Umm Qasr, where Mr. Shays spent yesterday.

"When I get back I am going to have hearings on how we are engaging" aid organizations, said Mr. Shays, who is vice chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. "Danger is part of their job. They know how to deal with it, and they are ready and willing to do it. I think they need to be engaged a bit more."

Mr. Shays traveled to Kuwait with a congressional delegation and later attended briefings with war commander Gen. Tommy Franks and other Defense officials. He said he was disappointed the U.S. military and the State Department did not want him to go into the battle-scarred country.

"I had to use the Save the Children's network to get in. And [the State Department] led me to believe I was doing something that they didn't want me to do," he said. "I just wish other members of Congress had seen what I got to see."

Monday, April 14, 2003

CBS News | Dole And Clinton On U.N. |

Senator Dole: Look, I welcome the help of other countries, so long as they share our goals. Kofi Annan and his crowd; remember them? They did everything they could to stop the liberation of Iraq. And nobody has forgotten bin Laden, except maybe those in your administration who were supposed to keep an eye on him.

President Clinton: There's the old Bob Dole! You know, I worked for years to get bin Laden and almost did, when most of your party could have cared less. And, he's still at large. As for Saddam, you're the one who paid him a courtesy call and tried to weaken sanctions on him just before he invaded Kuwait, and after he had used chemical weapons on his own people. Saddam Hussein is gone and good riddance. Now we have to build a democratic Iraq. The U.N. can help us, and we should let them.


I knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was my dad. Mr. Bush...
Wow, this one has to hurt. News | Reagan blasts Bush

The Bush inner circle would like to think of George W.'s presidency as more of an extension of Ronald Reagan's than of his one-term father's. Reagan himself, who has long suffered from Alzheimer's disease, is unable to comment on those who lay claim to his political legacy. But his son, Ron Jr., is -- and he's not pleased with the association.

"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now," he said during a recent interview with Salon. "Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the '80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's -- these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Republicans & Race: Lincoln's Dead and there are No Apologies

To deny the fact that the Republican Party has a troublesome record and history with race is to deny both the facts and reality. This is not to say that all Republicans are racist. It's not even to say that most Republicans are racist. It is to say that the GOP has a strange magnetism to those who are racist. It is also to say that there are a significant number of members of the Republican Party, including elected officials, who continue adhere to an anti-diversity doctrine that is not in touch with the trends of the 21st Century.

It is no longer possible for the Republican Party to cling on to the mantle of being "The Party of Lincoln" in areas of race relations. When southern blacks freed from slavery joined the Republican Party during reconstruction and following, it was a far different party than the GOP of today.

Former Republican Senate Majority/Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss) brought to light some questions about the matter of race in the Republican Party when he remarked how the country would be better off had anti-segregationist Strom Thurmond won the presidency when he campaigned against civil rights. Public outcry against these remarks was, appropriately so, quite loud and upset. The scenario brought to light Lott's questionable voting record over the course of his congressional career in matters of race. Troubling, however, is the fact that while the situation caused the Republican party to publicly blush, it did not lead to its evaluation of its standing and record. This was clearly demonstrated recently when Rep. Barbara Cubin of Wyoming. The Republican congresswoman from Wyoming, on the House floor, remarked,

"My sons are 25 and 30. They are blond-haired and blue-eyed. One amendment today said we could not sell guns to anybody under drug treatment. So does that mean if you go into a black community, you cannot sell a gun to any black person, or does that mean because my…"

The entire black community is under drug treatment? Rep. Cubin was, at the end of the quote above, interrupted by Congressman Watt of North Carolina. After being called upon for her clearly inappropriate remarks, the lady for Wyoming did not apologize because she made grossly inappropriate remarks. She did not apologize for racial stereotyping. Oh no. She apologized, "to my colleague for his sensitivities." It's the old "I'm sorry your upset, but I'm not sorry for what I did to make you so." It's a word game.

I think the Washington Post in its April 11th editorial entitled Where's the Outrage summed up the House's response quite well. It wrote:

Yet more astonishing than Mrs. Cubin's obtuseness was that when the full House considered whether to have Mrs. Cubin's words "taken down" as offensive -- a move that would have stricken them from the record and kept her from speaking for the rest of the day -- it voted in her favor, 227 to 195. Not a single Republican lawmaker voted against the remarks. Afterward, not a word of criticism from House Republican leaders. Upon being asked for comment, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) yesterday ventured (through a spokesman) to say that the remarks "clearly left the wrong impression." He also described Mrs. Cubin as a "sensitive and at heart a very good person." Maybe so; but shrugging off the offensiveness of her statement is no more appropriate now than when Republican leaders tried the same tactic immediately after Mr. Lott made his remark.

And around the country young people are saying, "Yes, but I'm a different kind of Republican." Perhaps they are, but it's the same kind of Republican Party, and nobody is changing it. It was noted after the Lott fiasco that the Republican Party seemed embarrassed by the remarks, but not ashamed. It looks as though with the Cubin case, they are not even embarrassed anymore.

-Matt Bailey

God writes a lot of comedy...
the trouble is,
he's stuck with so
many bad actors
who don't know how
to play funny.

-Garrison Keillor


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