Friday, February 08, 2008

Is Bush Clinton ?



I can’t help but wonder -- will “W” be the “Klinton” for Democrats ? You know what I’m talking about. The rabid, seemingly irrational, hatred that Bill Clinton inspires in some Republicans. Is George W. Bush destined to be the same for some Democrats ? Can he really be as bad as he seems ?

If you read Dan Froomkin’s latest blog about “W”, the answer is, yes, he really is that bad. (The article may be behind the firewall but it’s worthy reading. )

Bush Thumbs Nose at Congress

”The overall message to Congress was clear: I'm not bound by your laws.

The three other sections Bush reserved the right to ignore are also significant. One mandates the establishment of a commission to investigate waste and fraud in military contracts; another strengthens protections for whistle-blowers working for federal contractors; a third requires the president to explain in writing each time an intelligence agency refuses to respond to a document request from the House and Senate armed services committees.

But it's Bush's cavalier dismissal of the ban on funding for permanent military bases that really speaks volumes -- not just about his view of the role of the legislative branch, but also about his intentions for Iraq.”


The story focuses on President Bush’s liberal use of “signing statements.” Instead of vetoing a Bill, he signs it with the caveat that he will ignore certain provisions. It’s like having your cake and eating it too. Or having it both ways. Or being above the law.

My reading of Mr. Froomkin’s blog is probably not helped by the fact that I’m reading Thomas Oliphant’s book about the Bush Administration -- Utter Incompetents.

Having worked during both Administrations -- Clinton and Bush -- I have to go with what I know. Things were never “good” with the FAA during my career. I started right after the PATCO strike in 1981. We had another union up and running before Reagan left office. That was not easy nor was it fun -- starting a union during the Reagan Administration. It didn’t get any better during the first Bush’s Administration. It didn’t get any better...it didn’t get any worse. And then Clinton came in and things did get better. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea -- there were no “good old days” during my 25 year career at the FAA. But under Clinton, controllers received some long-overdue raises and they felt like they had a voice in how things were run. We even managed to make some needed upgrades to our equipment. FAA management remained a constant source of incompetence throughout, though.

All that went away under the second President Bush (well, except the FAA management incompetence.) It took him a little while to get it done but once President Bush started, he made up for lost time with a vengeance. I’ve often wondered if the events of 9/11 threw off his timetable. In the Bush Administration -- where it’s all politics, all the time -- it would have been politically imprudent to take on one of the groups that earned so much positive recognition on that dark day -- air traffic controllers. But America has a short attention span.

Marion Blakey brought in her hired gun -- Joe Miniace -- and the rest is what is on this blog almost everyday. By the way, Miniace is one of those names that you want to put away in a safe place so you can remember it. When the history of the FAA for this period of time is written, you’ll need know who he was.

Now we have controllers retiring in droves and trainees actually quitting (as opposed to flunking out.) That is something else you’ll want to make a note of and save. I was listening to Bobby Sturgell’s confirmation hearing yesterday and heard that the FAA Academy was passing 95% of the trainees. When I went through the Academy in 1981, 65% of the class flunked out. That knowledge ought to curl your hair. Not to mention the implications when you think about how the FAA is counting trainees as controllers to convince you that the facilities are “adequately staffed.”

Will “W” become the Democrat’s “Klinton” ? I think so. The only differences will be who made how much money and the body count.

Don Brown
February 8, 2008

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