Monday, March 13, 2006

Our No-Account Government

Columnist Richard Cohen said it so well:

"It was a chat about a religious moment that purportedly bonded Bush to Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader of increasingly dictatorial bent. It's as if Putin, an ex-KGB spy, read Bush's file -- and conned him. He knew Bush would rather believe than think -- and that others in the administration, who knew better, would simply go along."

Yes, others would go along. And some would set the course. Vice President Dick Cheney took the helm.

The symbolic moment the "American people" (as the Republicans so fruitfully coined the hapless electorate) lost control of their government was in the spring of 2001 when Cheney was allowed to formulate energy policy behind closed doors as his task force meet with executives from big oil companies and their lobbyists from the U. S. Oil and Gas Association.

We lost control when we, and our elected representatives, allowed Cheney to refuse to release the list of task force meeting attendees. The Washington Post in 2005 finally did uncover some names based on records kept by the Secret Service.

These task force advisors read like a oil industry Who's Who: Chairman of Conoco (before the merge with Phillips) Archie Dunham, Royal Dutch/Shell Group chairman Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Shell Oil chairman Steven Miller, BP regional president Bob Malone and Exxon VP James Rouse to name a few.

A joint hearing of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees was held in November of 2005 to look into the Cheney energy task force after pressure from environmental groups who complained they were shut out of task force discussions while big oil was not.

Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens, a Republican from oil-rich Alaska, insisted the oil executives not be under oath when they testified before the committee and had his way over the protest of committee Democrats. The resultant farce of a perjury-proof oversight investigation uncovered nothing.

This is how we lost control of our government. A government without transparency, accountability or oversight.

This is how we got our disasterous energy, defense, education, social and other policies.

In the spring of 2001, the administration closed the doors of government while Bush cycled on, depending on faith to set his course. He took us into a blind alley.

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