Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Inappropriations Committee

Despite the myriad investigations of congressional Republicans and the Republican executive, the Capitol Hill GOP crowd's obtuse behaviour continues unabated.

If you thought Tom DeLay might be laying low at least until his Texas money laundering trial was over, you might need to rethink that notion. DeLay has just claimed a seat on the House subcommittee that "oversees" the Department of Justice. That would be the same Justice Department currently involved in the investigation of long-time DeLay associate Jack Abramoff and that Republican lobbyist's financial favouritism to a host of congressional Republicans.

Interestingly enough and given the recent dust up over Bush appointed flacks at NASA headquarters, this committee is also charged with overseeing NASA. Though it seems doubtful that DeLay much cares about such issues as those raised in the Deutsch affair beyond being a loyalist to the Republican cause, DeLay will be in a very good position to direct funding, not just toward Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, but any and all NASA space flight centers around the country. And he will be able to do this because DeLay has also scored another committee seat by jumping into the now-convicted Randy Cunningham's spot on the House Appropriations Committee. It will be interesting to see how Goddard Space Flight Center is treated with DeLay onboard, given that scientists there have been front and center in this Deutsch expose.

By occupying seats on both committees, I can easily imagine DeLay directing NASA in how contracts are awarded, no doubt making sure that fervent Republican donors get first dibs on any NASA contracts coming down the pipe. Not only will he now influence oversight of the agency, he will control the purse strings to give that oversight some teeth.

The Rove outrage machine continues. In fact, these moves almost smack of design. More than a few have theorised that these sorts of moves are exactly meant to keep the scandal level so high, the public becomes imbued with a numbness to it all. As more and more stories of yet more execrable behaviour dominate the news, an American public tunes out, convinced that this is just the way things are. The DeLay-stuffing initiative by GOP leaders is only the latest turn of the scandal crank, albeit a small notch in the larger gear mesh of corruption, scandal, cronyism and crass politicking.


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