As the year winds down, here are seven things from 2007 that we should carry with us into the new year.
1) ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES
Sen. Barbara Boxer had the best soundbyte of the new Congress during a hearing of the Senate Environment Committee, in which she reminded the former chairman, Republican Sen. James Inhofe, that she held the gavel as "elections have consequences." Now only if she can convince Sen. Feinstein and other Democrats in the roll-over-and play dead caucus to make this a reality.
2) NEW ORLEANS IS STILL STRUGGLING
Two years after Katrina, in Orleans Parish only 65 percent of public schools are open, 57 percent of hospitals, 36 percent of day care centers, 50 percent of bus routes and not a single police department structure has been repaired. Two telling facts are that foreign governments have provided almost as much aid to Louisiana colleges as the Bush administration and that neighboring and Republican Mississippi has received almost three times as much aid on a per capita basis.
3) BUSH IS AWOL IN DEFENDING VETS
Despite the fact that the Army's Surgeon General admitted that the VA was underfunded and unable to hire enough nurses and mental health specialist to treat returning war vets, President Bush's FY2008 budget fell nearly 10 percent below consensus estimates of amounts needed. Last month, Bush vetoed a bill that would have restored $4 billion in funding for the VA. While the bill ultimately signed by Bush restores $3.7 billion of this sum, it is "contingent emergency" funding which becomes available only if Bush makes a formal request for the money by Jan. 10.
4) GOVERNMENT IS THE ENEMY ... NOT
Ever since Ronald Reagan, the Republicans have openly professed that government is the enemy. In light of the recent rash of dangerous defects in toys from China and the largest increase in coal mine fatalities in 107 years, along with the fact that the Bush administration has cut staffing at the Consumer Product Safety Commission by 16 percent, the Mine Safety Commission by 19 percent and OSHA by 35 percent, you realize that government is not really our enemy but rather is the enemy of GOP donors who want to cut corners at our expense and get away with it.
5) DEPARTMENT OF MENDACITY
In case it had not become evident after the litany of lies about Iraq, Katrina, Guantanamo and 50 percent of anything else said on a day ending in "y," the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran confirmed what John Dean said in 2004 -- that mendacity was an essential element of public policy in the Bush White House. Even after receiving the NIE, which reported that Iran had suspended its nuclear program in 2003, the Bush administration continued to warn about "World War III" and a potential "nuclear holocaust" in beating the drums for war with Iran.
The report only highlights the Bush administration's view of government in which the Presidency is about maximizing power for its cronies and the Congress and the American people are mere pawns to be manipulated to implement their ideological agenda (which can only prevail by subverting the democratic process).
Congress should address this issue not only because it is a serious offense in its own right, but also to send a signal to others, such as Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani, who appear to have embraced this model of governance.
6) SCOOTER LIBBY CONVICTED OF A FELONY
Scooter Libby was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the outing of Valerie Plame. With former Bush White House spokesman Scott McClellan's new book indicating this was part of a conspiracy that included the President and Vice President, both Congress and the Special Prosecutor should pursue McClellan's claim.
In addition, Plame's lawsuit against Libby and Cheney was dismissed by a Republican judge in part because the defendants were acting within the scope of their employment. This is troubling, since the Vice President is sworn to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States," and the Constitution expressly provides that he may be removed for treason, so how then can a treasonous act be within the scope of the Vice President's duties?
While Republican talking points try to deflect this argument by reducing Ms. Plame to an office clerk, if she was so insignificant why did the CIA want to redact 35 percent of her book?
7) RED SOX NATION
In 2008, we will discuss whether we are a Red or a Blue nation, but 2007 was definitely the year of Red Sox Nation!
Have a happy and healthy 2008!
Originally Published in Santa Monica Daily Press