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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bush Levels With America, Blames Media

It seems that every time I am out of town or unable to update this site for a period of time, armageddon arrives. It has been 20 days since I last updated it and all hell seems to have broken loose.

From the falling apart of the Dubai ports deal, to the Republican revolt against the White House, these must be trying days for the West Wing. President Bush's approval numbers are going down faster than the Titanic and show no signs of improving. He has even lost his edge on the one issue that got him reelected and gave the Republican party a powerful majority in Congress: terrorism. Some revel in the President's woes and the Republican's apparent downfall, but let me remind you that the ones that ultimately pay the price are the people. A dysfunctional government cannot get anything done, the bad stuff no problem, but the necessary issues big problem. How do you get a country on the wrong track back on the right track when there is no accountability and no admission of mistakes, no concerned effort to right the wrongs? That seems to be the case in the White House lately. Iraq looks to be descending into civil war, not full blown yet, but you can see the beginnings of one. Yet, the White House will not consider the notion. If our military forces are to stave off a potential civil war (and I honestly do not know if it can be done), the White House first needs to acknowledge that the possibility is there. You cannot try to fix a problem that you refuse to see. Iraq is only one of the many major problems that are in our horizon, but it is most definitely the one that will define President Bush's legacy, therefore he has staked everything on its outcome, to the detriment of every other issue, especially domestic ones. Among those are the current federal debt. Congress just raised the debt ceiling to almost 9 trillion dollars, the fourth time it has been done under this administration. Currently, it would take every American $30,000 to pay the debt off. Sound bad? It's worse. The amount that the ceiling was raised is already spoken for, meaning that should any emergency spending need arise, the ceiling would be tapped once again. If this doesn't make any sense to you, try looking at it from a credit card point of view. I you keep paying your bills by using your credit card without paying it off, you will eventually be so far in debt that you will be unable to pay your dues and have to declare bankrupcy. A government cannot go bankrupt, but it can lose its borrowing power, meaning that the U.S. would be in a budget crunch and unable to finance its operations. Five years ago we had a huge federal surplus, today a huge deficit, a huge debt. Yes, I know, 9/11, Iraq, blah blah blah. Excuses. You have to have a responsible fiscal policy to run a government properly, and fiscal & operational preparedness to respond to catastrophic events or else you run the risk of hurting the Nation more. Prioritize! Iraq or tax cuts (9/11 was an obligatory response). Not both. Get my point?

In April, the new Medicare prescription drug program will face heavy troubles. On April 1, drug companies will have more latitude in denying coverage on certain prescribed drugs that until now they have had to fulfill. This on top of the extreme cost and complexity of the program that essentially benefits drug companies. The ones who get hurt directly are the elderly who need medicines, and indirectly the taxpayer who funds the outrageously expensive program.

Among the other domestic issues of great concern are: rising health care costs, stagnating wages, high gas prices, rising interest rates, Katrina recovery efforts. There are more. Jobs are not really an issue since they are being created, but unlike previous economic periods, unemployment is no longer a correct measure for the health of this particular economy. People are having to work two or more jobs to stay afloat. Wages have become the measure in this economic period. They are the measure of economic health in the American family. America has fallen deeply into debt. Many are in over there heads. Wages are stagnant and are causing an economic crunch that is shrinking the middle class and increasing poverty. The people have jobs, but they are still struggling and they feel that the economic recovery is only limited to the top.

On the domestic front, the interests of the White House are not in accordance with those of the "mainstream", as they like to call the majority. You constantly hear RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman (the biggest liar/spinmaster and hypocrite on the planet, and I do not say that lightly) talk about the mainstream and how the Republican agenda is molded to it. NOT TRUE. The Republican agenda is driven by the religious right and the neo cons, neither of which are in the "mainstream". In fact, they are not even the mainstream of the Republican party. Point-to-fact, Bush has begun to lose people in his own party. I never thought his poll number would go below 40% because he would always have his base. Well, they have dropped to low 30s. The only way for that to happen is if he loses his base support. Let me also point out the fact that those who blindly support the President have a far less reaching education (and by extension are either ignorant or non-understanding of the issues) than those whose support has eroded, as shown by a CNN poll conducted last week.

The one good thing that has come out of all this bad news is the fact that the President has been forced to face the media and the American public or risk having his endangered legacy doomed beyond repair. Bush went on a PR campaign beginning this week in which, for the first time, he has faced unsympathetic crowds in Ohio (as opposed to the sympathetic screened ones he is used to), and yesterday at the White House press room, he called on ruthless reporters such as Helen Thomas, which he hadn't called on in three years. He paid the price, for they asked some tough ones and Bush got caught in contradictions to previous statements, but at least he seemed more in tune with reality and more willing, by force, to level with the public. Then strangely Bush went back to his friendly crowds today. I guess like any good political strategy, the White House had an aim in allowing Bush to speak. Their intent seems to have been to shift the blame to the media. They cannot blame the Democrats for all their problems, after all they were self-inflicted and it is a Republican White House, so they focused on the media. This push began yesterday morning during NBC's Today Show with an interview by David Gregory (my favorite). The interviewee, conservative talk show host Laura Ingram launched accusations that the media only showed the deaths and explosions because they were limited to their balconies in hotels and so forth. They were met with heavy opposition from Gregory. Later that day, somebody reminded the idiot Ingram about David Bloom and all the other journalists who have been killed in Iraq, not in their balconies or hotels, but in the field. During his speech, President Bush also leveled the accusation to the media, although in a much more respectful way as to not antagonize further a scorned media. The President does have a somewhat valid point. You do see more blood and death than progress and good news. It is an expected reaction by the media to cover that which is more impacting. But the President's point aside, that does not mean that the media is wrong in the coverage. The bad news outweighs the good news. Do you not think that the White House would be doing its best to get the good news out there to counter the bad? Openings of schools, women voting, etc. Yes there are some things improving, but along with the news coverage of the explosions and killings the media also puts less focus than it can on all the other bad stuff happening such as the lack of progress in getting oil supplies back up, the fact that there is shortage of electricity and water, that there is money misappropriated or more bluntly: lost, that three months after elections there is no government, that sectarian violence is increasing, etc. I mean, point by point, the bad news outweighs the good by at least 2 to 1. Would it be right to dedicate a newscast 1 to 1 ratio good to bad if bad is 2 to 1? That would not be an accurate representation of the field, would it? Even now, let's speculate that the media were to dedicate their coverage proportionately, 67% bad news, 33% good news. What sticks? What is going to remain in that head of yours after watching a newscast? Exactly. There is such an overwhelming amount of bad things happening that it is hard to justify the progress being made in limited areas when everything is going to hell everywhere else. As long as more bad stuff happens than good, this conflict will not end. Blaming the media, who has lost more than 80 journalists (more than the entire Vietnam war), by suggesting that they cannot get out there (they are not getting out there because it is so dangerous) enough is an indictment of the mission's shortcomings.


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