Friday, March 18, 2005

Lying to Congress

I work for the federal government. My program is in the middle of the PART (Program Assessment Rating Tool) that is part of Bush’s Management Agenda. It's basically a way for Bush to smack programs and cut their funding to continue paying for his wars and his tax cuts. For instance, questions include, "How have you worked to fix your management deficiencies." Most of them have this tone, "We know you suck and are wasting money; defend yourself." I happen to work for a very good program, and we wanted to do is show that we are very efficient in using our funds for program purposes. This involves buying and helping distribute vaccines to third world countries, mostly children.

Well, the records we have showed that we spent about $150M as a division in FY04. Somehow, the my agency's financial folks told Congress in our FY06 budget justification that we spent $138M. Whoops, where did the other $12M go? We know for a fact that we spent $150M, and we have the records to prove it. But the financial people say we can’t have a different number than the one already reported, and that the discrepancy has to do with new budget lines created for CDC’s restructuring. The ordered us to change our budget figures and basically LIE to Congress. We, of course, refused. Quite strongly. So now the agency is stripping out all of our budget figures to hide the fact that THEY lied to Congress about what we spent! My God, the culture of “stretching the truth” has seeped all the way down to Atlanta from DC. It’s not just for the White House and Pentagon anymore! It's shameful.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Racism in the GOP

I find it interesting in the fights over nominations to see how the GOP tries to use race to its advantage. In the Democratic circles I run in, discussion of various candidates first goes toward their beliefs, then focuses on whether they can win. Race can and does play a factor in the "can this person win?" question, but it is by far not the most important consideration.

Compare this to the GOP, who will throw up the first minority face they can find that will publically agree with what the evangelical base wants. In Illinois last year, when the GOP candidate imploded in a sex scandal, they faced a formidable Democratic opponent who happened to be black. Apparently not finding any qualified black candidates in Illinois who were conservative enough, the GOP imported Alan "Mary Cheney and my daughter are selfish hedonists" Keyes to be the sacrificial lamb.

Now Maryland appears ready to do its own version of affirmative action. I can only suppose that the GOP has figured that Kweisi Mfume will win the Democratic nomination for Paul Sarbanes' Senate seat next year. Which is why this item in the Congressional Quarterly popped up today:

The Baltimore SUN reports that Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. "said yesterday that neither he nor first lady Kendel S. Ehrlich intends to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, but he held out the possibility that Lt. Gov. Michael Steele could become the GOP's most competitive U.S. Senate candidate in decades." The governor "said the fact that people are interested in whom the Republicans will nominate is proof that the party is more relevant than it has been in years. 'This is a seat I believe can be won by the right candidate,' Ehrlich said of his party's chances. 'Michael Steele would be a wonderful candidate.'" Democrats have several potential contenders. Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume is already running; Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger has set up an exploratory committee. Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen are considering bids.

Race is a primary reason that many conservative salivate at the thought of elevating Clarence Thomas to Chief Justice once Rehnquist dies or retires. As my GOP-loving uncle put it, "I'd love to see the Dems be forced into the position of blocking the first black nominee to the Chief Justice slot." That's how the GOP thinks about black people; they are nothing but pawns. Some might argue the same of Democrats, but I would argue that in many places (especially in the South) black Democrats have real power in swaying where the party goes. Such statements like the one my uncle made not only show that the GOP doesn't care about qualifications as much as power and ideology, but they are proud of that fact. Clarence Thomas has been one of the least distinguished people to sit on the Supreme Court in a long time. Most of the time, he just echoes whatever Scalia says, or vice versa. It's like they share a brain. If Thomas is put up, I hope the Democrats do filibuster him. A Thomas Court would be a disaster. I'd rather have Scalia; at least he is smart and thoughtful, although I do disagree with his conclusions most of the time.

Of course, Dems fighting a Thomas nomination would be used by the GOP to go to the black community and say, "See, they don't like you at all! Vote for us!" This assumes the black community is too stupid to see through the smokescreen, which it is not. They saw through Alan Keyes, and they'll hopefully see through the rest of the tokenism of the GOP.

HB 67 passes

As if the overwhelming passage of Amendment 1 (the Georgia anti-gay relationships amendment that banned not only marriage but anything that even hinted of marriage like qualities...even going so far as to deny gays access to the court system if the action arises out of a homosexual relationship) was not enough evidence that Georgia hates its gay citizens, the legislature is now taking on Atlanta for daring to have a civil rights ordinance protecting gays.

HB67 was written to overturn a decision of Mayor Shirley Franklin to fine the Druid Hills Golf Club for discriminating against gay members by treating partners of homosexual members differently than partners of heterosexuals. The House passed the legislation 124-39, which is remarkably close to the number of House members who voted to pass the gay marriage amendment last year. The GA Senate today passed the bill 37-11, so it goes to Gov. Sonny Perdue for his signature, which he will sign with relish.

This will not be the end of gay bashing by the Georgia Legislature. For next year, which is a big election year for state officials in Georgia, the plan is to ban gay adoption just like Florida has. The thousands of gay families with children will not matter. The intent is to destroy gay families while driving out bigots to vote for the GOP.