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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Opinion Column

What’s wrong with these pictures?

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Citizens of all political callings who take time to absorb the flotsam and jetsam of public affairs, and not merely what strikes them as agreeable, soon become experts (as well as cynics) on contradictions in the American way.

A sampling:

  • Idaho’s legislators were positively frantic to appropriate $1.6 million to prop up the funds-short 1,800-student Virtual Academy for-profit charter school, operated by K12 Inc., whose chairman is William Bennett, U.S. Education secretary in the Reagan administration. This even as students in Orofino were cut back to four-day class weeks because of inadequate funds. The state’s refusal to comply with a court order for repairing schools leaves Orofino with a pre-World War I brick school house described by The Christian Science Monitor as "among the state’s most dilapidated."

  • In the current issue of the conservative National Review magazine, Cato Institute scholar John Samples accuses Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain of unprincipled ideological treachery and media grandstanding for supporting Democrat Sen. John Kerry rather than President Bush in disputes about the war on terrorism. In an e-mail to Samples, I asked if he applies the same standard to Georgia Democratic Sen. Zell Miller’s support of President Bush and denunciation of his own party. "The betrayal of party works only one way—if you move to the left," he replied. Was Samples being facetious?

  • After his 20th-something trip to Florida, where Cuban-Americans dictate U.S. policy on Cuba and dominate the Republican Party apparatus, President Bush announced a new crackdown on people traveling to the communist island. Even a woman who went to Cuba to give away copies of the Bible has been charged. But Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig and Rep. Butch Otter, who oppose the trade sanctions, traveled to Cuba in hopes of ending the U.S. trade embargo. Otter’s office tells me he plans another trip shortly, presumably without fear of Bush ordering him arrested for violating the "crackdown" the president announced for his Cuban-American audiences on his political visit.

  • U.S. occupation administrator L. Paul Bremmer III, responsible for democratizing Iraq by giving Iraqis their freedoms, closed Al Hawza newspaper for what Bremmer said was false reporting and might incite riots. Sure enough, riots—after Bremmer closed the virulently anti-American newspaper. So much for freedom of the press in Iraq.

  • Finally, U.S. Senate Republican Majority Leader William Frist wants old classified testimony of former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke to be made public to compare it with his new criticism of the Bush administration’s terrorism strategies. Fine. However, Frist didn’t demand that National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice testify under oath in public, rather than seeking "executive privilege" even as she willingly shows up on TV to counterattack Clarke’s criticism. Nor has Frist urged Vice President Cheney to open up and disclose names of industry cronies he met in secret to formulate national energy policy.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.