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A history lesson, Bush style page 2
Time to check in on the faulty governing of the Bush administration.

RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 6/19/2005

By RICHARD AMRHINE

continued

I was impressed, maybe even a little disappointed, with how balanced PBS and NPR 2004 campaign and election coverage was. So many stories on public radio and television tell us of the less fortunate, here and around the world, and of those who have overcome hurdles to succeed. Should stories about the toll American actions have taken on others not be told? I wonder what Native Americans might think about that.

Indeed, $400 million is a small price to pay for stories that might not otherwise be told.

Would inserting reruns of "The 700 Club" and "The Old Time Gospel Hour" between episodes of "Sesame Street" and "Reading Rainbow" make it all OK?

Last week it was reported that government lawyers, apparently at the Bush administration's behest, backed off of monetary penalties being sought from Big Tobacco--funds that were to be used for smoking-cessation programs.

The result of the 11th-hour change of direction is that the Justice Department won't ask for the $120 billion from Big Tobacco that would have targeted the 45 million Americans who smoke. It will settle instead for $10 billion earmarked for preventing future smokers from taking up the habit.

The result is a break for big business, and a greater number of long-term smokers whose habit-related ailments will further overburden the nation's health-care system as the boomer generation ages. It's a typically short-sighted view from a short-sighted administration.

President Bush also believes the Patriot Act is such a good thing that it needs to be strengthened and made permanent.

This is the perfect example of dangerous policy that combines two Bush administration favorites: the politics of fear and the abuse of power. By using the former, he is seeking permanent authorization of the latter.

The U.S. system of checks and balances also applies to the scales of justice. There are safeguards in place to prevent the government from knowing more about you than it needs to. There is an understandable fear that the Patriot Act tilts those scales in the government's favor under the pretense of keeping Americans safer in an age of terrorism.

The original compromise that required it to be periodically reauthorized was a good idea and should be maintained. Any modifications demand thorough scrutiny.


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