I guess we’ve learned that who runs the world matters, which is why politics – as imperfect as it is (you try winning the support of a wildly diverse group of people without stumble or compromise) – also matters.
(The idea that some people don’t register to vote is depressing. The idea that I know some of them, and that their reason is that they don’t want to be called for jury duty, is deeply depressing. Not to mention that it probably won’t work.)
So who runs the world? And how have they been trying to make that permanent? A trio of links today:
1. BILL MAHER – ELITES vs HAYSEEDS
If you can get past the tone, which is in places discomfiting (well for example, when he calls the President ‘—- for brains’), this clip makes a devastating point.
The third-ranking person in the Justice Department, in charge of overseeing the job performance of the 93 U.S. Attorneys was a 33-year-old graduate of Messiah College? And of a televangelist’s law school?
Which brings us to Paul Krugman’s column from Friday . . .
2. PAUL KRUGMAN – 150 MESSIANICS
April 13, 2007
For God’s Sake
By PAUL KRUGMAN
. . . Today, Regent University, founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson to provide ‘Christian leadership to change the world,’ boasts that it has 150 graduates working in the Bush administration.
Unfortunately for the image of the school, where Mr. Robertson is chancellor and president, the most famous of those graduates is Monica Goodling, a product of the university’s law school. She’s the former top aide to Alberto Gonzales who appears central to the scandal of the fired U.S. attorneys and has declared that she will take the Fifth rather than testify to Congress on the matter.
The infiltration of the federal government by large numbers of people seeking to impose a religious agenda – which is very different from simply being people of faith – is one of the most important stories of the last six years. It’s also a story that tends to go underreported, perhaps because journalists are afraid of sounding like conspiracy theorists.
But this conspiracy is no theory. The official platform of the Texas Republican Party pledges to ‘dispel the myth of the separation of church and state.’ And the Texas Republicans now running the country are doing their best to fulfill that pledge.
Kay Cole James, who had extensive connections to the religious right and was the dean of Regent’s government school, was the federal government’s chief personnel officer from 2001 to 2005. (Curious fact: she then took a job with Mitchell Wade, the businessman who bribed Representative Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham.) And it’s clear that unqualified people were hired throughout the administration because of their religious connections.
[. . . Krugman gives four examples . . .]
. . . Regent isn’t a religious university the way Loyola or Yeshiva are religious universities. It’s run by someone whose first reaction to 9/11 was to brand it God’s punishment for America’s sins.
. . . The Bush administration’s implosion clearly represents a setback for the Christian right’s strategy of infiltration. But it would be wildly premature to declare the danger over. This is a movement that has shown great resilience over the years. It will surely find new champions.
Next week Rudy Giuliani will be speaking at Regent’s Executive Leadership Series.
3. SYDNEY BLUMENTHAL IN SALON
This, too, is merely excerpted here and worth reading (free!) in its entirety.
. . . Bush has not simply filled jobs with favorites, oblivious to their underhanded dealings, as though he were a blithering latter-day version of Warren Harding. Bush has been determined to turn the entire federal government, every department and agency, into an instrument of a one-party state. . . .
Within the Bush administration, there are hundreds of Monica Goodlings, and she was their ideal. . . . She interprets criticism and debate as a mortal threat to all that is good and holy. She sees any institution of American life that is not devoted to the flag and cross to which she pledges and worships as twisted, biased and infernal. . . . She sees those who adhere to standards of professionalism as agents of deception, hiding their real agendas. She was enthusiastic in weeding out Justice Department employees and replacing them with true believers like herself.
[. . .]
Consider the reports surfacing only within the past month: that scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency have again been forbidden to discuss climate change; that nine newly appointed U.S. attorneys are political cadres; that the new U.S. attorney for Minnesota, Rachel Paulose, cites Bible verses in the office . . . and, according to one of four assistant U.S. attorneys in her office who voluntarily demoted themselves, treats disagreement as “disloyalty”; that the Election Assistance Commission last year, giving credence to Republican talking points of widespread voter fraud, ignored experts’ testimony to the contrary; that between 2001 and 2006, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department has purged 60 percent of its professional staff and not filed a single voting discrimination case on behalf of African-American or Native American voters; and that after the state Republican Party complained to Rove that the U.S. attorney in Wisconsin, Steven Biskupic, was not attacking voter fraud, Biskupic kept his job by filing corruption charges against an aide to the incumbent Democratic governor on the eve of the 2006 elections. (The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled the aide was “wrongly convicted” on evidence that was “beyond thin.”) . . .
. . . “There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one [says a former Bush appointee]: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”
FUND THAT ROTH IRA TODAY!
Whether or not you’ve finished your taxes, you can still set up a Roth IRA (or make a 2006 contribution to an existing one) by going on-line today at, for example, here (Less Antman suggests the T. Rowe Price Spectrum Growth Fund) or here (with Vanguard’s lower expense ratios but a $3,000 minimum to start . . . perhaps one of these).
A Roth IRA won’t affect your 2006 tax filing, because the contribution is not deductible. But it will begin growing not just tax-deferred but tax-free, and with less paperwork and better alternatives when you reach retirement age. (That said, a traditional IRA is a very good thing, too – don’t feel bad building one of those, either.)
If you’re rich-ish, make your 2006 contribution today – but also your 2007 contribution. The more the better.
(If you’re just plain rich, not ‘-ish,’ then $4,000 Roth IRA contributions won’t make a whole lot of difference to you. Give me that money.)
LIE OR CHEAT?
So let’s say you got legally married in Massachusetts. Do you lie on your 1040 and say you are ‘single’? Or break federal law and file jointly? Which is the honest thing for a same-sex couple to do?
(Honesty aside, the government requires that you check ‘single,’ even if you’ve been coupled for 40 years.)
Quote of the Day
Shrouds have no pockets. (There's no luggage rack on a hearse.)~. . . as they say
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