January 30, 2008

Wednesday morning

Or at least I think it it. I am sure glad I missed the SOTU address. I don't think I could have handled watching this man talk. Few seemed to like the speech and thought it was phoned in, or should have been. Sometimes it seems like he understands he is in over his head and is just stalling to pass on his disasters to the next guy. For example, as I read/hear this story, the military budget just signed into law doesn't include the war spending for Iraq and Afghanistan, or more accurately, just includes enough to get them through the end of Bush's disaster. The next President will be saddled with a huge problem right off the bat. Thanks George.

And then there are his insidious signing statements. He added one to that military bill too. Says he may not do what the law says. And what was objectionable in the bill?
The President just signed the Defense Authorization Act, which has two provisions that are relevant to contractor accountability. The first, section 841, added through an amendment sponsored by Senators Webb and McCaskill, would establish an independent commission to study the waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting. The second, section 846, would improve whistleblower protection for contractor employees who report abuses by contractors.

The only wrinkle, however, is that the President issued one of his infamous signing statements, singling out these and two other provisions that the White House says "purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief." According to the statement, "[t]he executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President."

Senator Webb has said that he’ll nonetheless move forward quickly to establish the commission.
Yes, by all means, make sure you cover up the corruption of your administration. Yes, by all means, punish whistleblowers as you have already. And who dares to challenge the imperial Bush who can commit America to whatever he wants. Congress, as we have discussed, is a nuisance to King George.


I have been thinking more about the Faludi book and our conversation on women and their supposed natural role. She notes how biased the media coverage was about the victims of the attacks. Widows--and that meant stay-at-home-mom-Widows--were on every talk show and featured and lamented in every magazine. Widowers were largely unnoticed, unless they had young daughters. And as long as those widows kept their domestic role, they were golden. If they dared step out of that mold, as the Jersey Girls did by criticizing the President, they became horrible shrews who enjoyed their tragedy. Some of the widowed firefighters were raised up as suitable victims, but when one had an affair with another firefighter, it hit the fan and she was the villain. Not him. She stepped out of her acceptable grieving role and became some kind of siren. He was a victim of seduction.

And that is part of why I object to this idea of "natural" attached to actions like family abandonment or staying with the kids. Under that model, when the man stays with the family and is responsible, he is really rather heroic, because according to many, he is going against his "natural instincts." After all, he has much less natural connection to the family and the kids. The guy who leaves his family is then actually just weak, but also following his natural instinct. When the woman stays with the kid, she is remaining true to her nature. Human choice starts to get blurred here as do the complexity of these individual human relationships.

1 comment:

steves said...

The use of the word natural should never be a justification, but rather an explanation (or at least a partial one).

The media bias you mention seems more a reflection of cultural bias. In addition to what you mention, look how they report most attacks. They will often distinguish between women and children and men, as if the loss of a man's life is somehow less tragic.

The signing statements are stupid, in my mind. With the separation of powers, there have always been some tension between the branches and history is full of examples of presidents ignoring laws or not emphasizing them. Bush has vigorously enforced federal drug laws, despite the desire of some states to decriminalize use in certain cases. Clinton (wisely) took the other approach and scaled back certain aspects of drug enforcement in those states.

Bush's problem is that he makes a big spectacle with these signing statements, as if he is thumbing his nose at Congress. He has also gone beyond presidential power in some cases (torture). I don't know enough about this current bill to comment, so I am interested to see what others think.