The Week in Review (May 1-6)

Jeff Alworth

By (admittedly brief) convention, I begin the Week in Review on Mondays.  Also by convention, leaders wait until after they win a war to declare victory.   Missionaccomplished_1So let me dispense with the first to point out that Sunday marked the two-year anniversary of the second, when George W. Bush declared "mission accomplished" in his Iraq adventure.  Is there any event more emblematic of our political divide?  Bushies and anti-Bushies both hail the moment as a transcendent symbol.  For liberals and Dems, it stands as the symbol of the President's arrogant disregard of reality.  For Bushies, who yet maintain the adventure has been a success, it was the moment Caesar took a bow.  I guess it all depends on what the meaning of "accomplished" is.  Or is it "mission?"

Mondays are usually skimpy news days, but not last week's.  To commemorate the Caesar's success in Iraq, perhaps, fellow Evil Axis designee North Korea popped a missile over the Sea of Japan.  Call it a salute to Bush's foreign policy successes in East Asia.  Closer to home, Karen Minnis lobbed missiles of her own, pulling out from the joint Ways and Means committee and daring her Senate colleagues to stick to their guns on education.  A nuclear option of a different sort?

Lots more accomplishment to consider on Tuesday.  Lynndie England began the day by pleading guilty to torture in the Abu Ghraib scandal.  Cabinet members were sworn into the new government in Iraq--except for key positions reserved for Sunnis, who just don't seem to be getting with the program.  And from the final member of the Axis of Evil troika?  Word that Iran was indeed moving forward with its nukes program.  (Scorekeeping note. Evil Axis members with nukes before Dubya--zero.  Evil Axis members with nukes or nuclear programs now: two.  Evil Axis members with no nukes and no plans for nukes: one--the one we invaded.)

Also more nukes in Salem: while Senate Dems were supporting a bill to require that health insurers cover a variety of procedures for women, House Republicans were pushing for a law that parents be notified if their minor daughter was getting an abortion.  House Republicans are also pushing for a law to create penalties for injuring or killing a fetus during the commission of a crime--tantamount to giving personhood to fetuses.  Well that ought to repair comity between the chambers, huh?

news was dominated by a dramatic bombing in Iraq that killed 47 and injured scores more.  The target--a police recruitment center.  Let me ask you something.  What's more impolite: me using this moment to mention that "mission accomplished" business, or the invasion itself, which was based on lies and poor intelligence and has killed, by reasonable estimates, over 100,000 people?  I guess it's a judgment call.

Enough Iraq, though, let's bring it back home. On Thursday, most of the news was local.  Foes of Gordon Smith (fess up--that means you) reported that they were "saddened" to hear that the Senator may have broken ethics rules when lobbyists paid for him to hang out at an Irish castle.  Foes of the school zone speed limit (wherein it was illegal to take a midnight drive past a school at 30 miles an hour) were not saddened to hear that the Oregon House approved a bill to limit the 20 mph zones to working hours.  And the soul-crushing news of the day was the Forest Service's decision to ignore five million citizen comments and rescind Clinton's roadless rule banning development in 60 million acres of national forests.  I'm still trying to shake that one off.

Friday's news was delivered in the form of a riddle: was Tony Blair's re-election to an historic third term a victory or a defeat?  His Labour Party lost seats and votes, but still have an outright majority and the aforementioned historic victory (historic because no Labour Party government has ever gone for the threepeat).  Tell you what, I'd take three presidential wins in a row even if we call it a defeat.    Nationally, the riddle was this: is it a good sign if jobs are up, but wages are down?  That was the story in April.  One final note on the Axis of Evil.  On Friday, the AP reported that a deep hole being dug in North Korea appears to be preparation for a nuclear test.  Since we're writing about riddler Friday, let's leave on a question: if North Korea conducts a nuclear test, will Bushies regard it as a yet another triumph of their leader's keen foreign policy, or will they, for the first time, begin to wonder if they've re-elected a bozo?

  • Finrod (unverified)

    I am a Progressive and am not a foe of Sen. Smith, which is defined as "one who has personal enmity for another". I am a foe of the current leadership of the Republican Party which has seemingly lost all reason in mortal fear of a recession that would slash their personal fortunes and demote them to mere citizens. I am not the enemy of people whose overriding interest is in promoting their business interests, merely the opposition. I respect conservatives that retain human values and courage of their convictions, however misguided. I would pull no punches with sell-outs that promote or rubber-stamp outrageous abuses of the power of the majority to be put up for "consideration". Senator Smith's fight against the unreasonable cuts for Medicaid in Frist's budget bill was ample demonstration of Smith's humanity and courage. I desperately want to send another Democratic senator to DC, but to gloat over possibly disgraceful ethical conduct of a delegate from our state is petty and unworthy of lovers of democracy. It is the tactic that Tom Delay championed when he turned the House into a rumor mill of personal attacks against President Clinton in order to disempower a popular opposition leader. You have lost the battle against an unscrupulous opponent when you sink to his level.

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