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GOP Makes Obstruction An Even Higher Priority Than Moms

So much for that "family values" party label. Via Dana Milbank:

It was already shaping up to be a difficult year for congressional Republicans. Now, on the cusp of Mother’s Day, comes this: A majority of the House GOP has voted against motherhood….

It has long been the custom to compare a popular piece of legislation to motherhood and apple pie. Evidently, that is no longer the standard. Worse, Republicans are now confronted with a John Kerry-esque predicament: They actually voted for motherhood before they voted against it.

Republicans, unhappy with the Democratic majority, have been using such procedural tactics as this all week to bring the House to a standstill, but the assault on mothers may have gone too far. House Minority Leader John Boehner, asked yesterday to explain why he and 177 of his colleagues switched their votes, answered: "Oh, we just wanted to make sure that everyone was on record in support of Mother’s Day."

By voting against it?

Putting obstructionism ahead of moms is the Republican way. Got it.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is still hiding things from the public. And the Congress. As LHP pointed out yesterday evening, that a "…reference to the Federal Register reflects the past practice of actually PUBLISHING Executive Orders, so the rest of us would know what they said. Oh, and in olden days (read, before the Supreme Court annointed Shrub to be King) OLC opinions were routinely published, too." Oh, how things have changed.

Sen. Russ Feingold has been pushing for more scrutiny and more disclosure for a long time — and his recent hearing on Secret Government Law was one in a series of attempts at oversight. In an op-ed in yesterday’s LATimes, Feingold made this salient point:

…No one questions the need for the government to protect information about intelligence sources and methods, troop movements or weapons systems. But there’s a big difference between withholding information about military or intelligence operations from the public and withholding the law that governs the executive branch. Keeping the law secret doesn’t enhance national security, but it does give the government free rein to operate without oversight or accountability. Even the congressional intelligence committees, which are supposed to oversee the intelligence community, have been denied access to some of these legal opinions.

Congress should pass legislation to require the administration to alert Congress when the law created by Justice Department opinions ignores or even violates the laws passed by Congress, and to require public notice when it is waiving or modifying a published executive order. Congress and the public shouldn’t have to wonder whether the executive branch is following the laws that are on the books or some other, secret law. (emphasis mine)

It is as though some elaborate fiction has replaced our experiment in government by and for the people.

Sam Seder, who is one of the best informed hosts on progressive radio, had two recent interviews that are well worth a listen on this very point. One, a podcast interview with Sen. Feingold on the secret law issues, and the second a podcast interview with Philippe Sands on how America’s secret torture policies came to be. As Sen. Feingold made quite clear back in 2006, the GOP isn’t exactly standing on solid footing based on their own prior arguments about the rule of law and the limitations of government in pushing expanded unilateral presidential power. But that doesn’t keep Bush officials from refusing to answer questions, or GOP loyalists from refusing to ask them, does it?

We have a complacent media which has failed to do much meaningful follow-up to two huge stories: on the revelations that torture procedures were hand-approved at the highest levels of the Bush Administration and on the Pentagon’s use of planted PR propaganda purveyors in the form of retired military officers. (The Pentagon has put a cache of documents online for reading, but have seen no reporting from media sources on what is contained therein. Anyone want to do a bit of reading this weekend?)

Governments must be held accountable for their actions. And if the Congress and the Fourth Estate are incapable of doing so, then it is up to the public — through the power of the ballot box and repeated contact with elected officials to force the issue to the fore. The GOP’s repeated tactic has been to stall and prevent any meaningful oversight, putting party politics before the national interest, and to try and make any legitimate hearing of substance into as much of a bread and circuses farce as possible. (I’m looking at you, Issa, Burton and crew.)

So let’s talk about how we can best hold them accountable, since it looks like it’s pretty much up to us…

PS — I may be on with Sam this Sunday at 5 pm ET. Soon as this firms up, I’ll let you know…

(YouTube — Sen. Feingold’s opening statement in the secret government law hearing.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com