Tuesday, March 16, 2004

When I allow myself to ponder Bushshit like the dealings that have transpired with the Medicare Prescription bill, I just want to grab a big stick and start beating people whilst screaming "JESUS CHRIST, PEOPLE, WILL YOU PLEASE PAY ATTENTION!!! We've got trends emerging over here on aisle 3!!" Of course, after the nice men in the white coats carted me away, no one would pay attention anyway. So that's why I stay away from big sticks and megaphones.

One of the emerging stories of skullandbonesduggery in the Bush administration is the ongoing saga of the Medicare prescription bill. Richard North Patterson would be hard pressed to write a fictional tale of backroom deals, skullduggery, clandestine activity, and legislative manipulation to mirror the real life intrigue of this bill passing through the House late last year. I honestly don't know enough about this bill to judge if it's ultimately good or bad. But I do know that a legislative track record like this should at least cause everyone to take a harder look:

  • Congressional leaders violated House rules in extending the voting period on the bill up to three hours after the initial vote count came up short.
  • During debate of the bill, Rep. Nick Smith (R- MI) changed his vote to "yes" after veiled threats and bribery attempts (later recanted by Smith) by unnamed parties, including promises of $100,000 from business interests for his son's congressional campaign.
  • AARP, which originally opposed the bill, reversed course after an intense lobbying effort by various parties.
  • The White House rolled out a taxpayer funded multi-million dollar ad campaign to defend the faulty legislation. The GAO has since stated the ads misrepresented the prescription drug benefits and included "notable omissions and other weaknesses."
  • Last week, it came to light that the Bush administration threatened to fire the government's leading actuary on Medicare costs if he did a full Monty of program costs before the bill came up for a vote.
  • If all the above isn't enough, some news organization apparently had the veracity to "fact check" a video released by Health and Human Services that included staged news reports "selling" the plan to seniors.

Today, the San Francisco Chronicle was moved to editorialize:
After first covering up and then misrepresenting the facts about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, the Bush administration is now shamelessly working to further mislead the public by staging phony "news reports" about how well the law will work.

In order to sell the complicated and skimpy plan to seniors, the Department of Health and Human Services is paying actors to pose as journalists in bogus TV "news'' reports. Videos have been sent to TV stations, along with government-prepared scripts for news anchors to read. The idea is to make propaganda appear to be unbiased news during prime-time viewing.

It's a covert effort to exploit both the press and public. Coupled with the misinformation about the bill, it paints an alarming picture of a White House unconstrained about using deceit.

Repeatedly manipulating data to stifle honest debate, stirs up disquieting recollections of another White House, disgraced by lies and dirty tricks.

The Bush administration seems to have developed quite a track record in manipulating data and quelling congressional dissent on everything from Iraq to the entire medicare debacle. The more skeptical among us could even draw the conclusion that it's a trend.