Often, by the time a newspaper publishes a critical correction, it’s far too little and far too late to make much of an impact on the narrative of the original story. For example, when tensions flared across Israel and the West Bank late last year, the New York Times published the following allegation:
For once, some good news out of Washington:
Marking a moment of almost unprecedented bipartisanship in Congress, the House today passed a short-term budget bill aimed at funding the government through the end of September – with a whole six days to go before the federal government is slated to shut down.
“It’s a good day for the American people,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a press conference shortly after the bill was approved.
Unprecedented bipartisanship. That’s basically unprecedented. Surely, there’s gotta be a catch — right?
In a bipartisan vote of 318-109, the bill, which originated in the House but was amended by the Senate, will now go to the president’s desk for a signature.
Just as I suspected, a minor hold-up!: The President is in Israel and won’t get back to his desk until Saturday, which means there are three whole days for something to go wrong before the bill can be signed.
Then again, maybe it’s not a coincidence that the day after the President leaves the country, Congress finally managed to get something done… on second thought, maybe Obama shouldn’t rush back.
Mr. President, please consider extending your trip another three days — that is, once the shutdown has been officially averted — even if that means you have to sign that unprecedented bill with a precedented autopen.
Congress took some heat earlier this month when it afflicted the country with huge budget cuts in the form of the sequester — but left Congressional salaries alone. And now comes a report out of the Washington Guardian that House Republicans may have gone on an eating binge using taxpayer money:
As the country hurtled toward the fiscal cliff and sequestration, House Republican leaders apparently couldn’t live without their catering, coffee and cars.
In the last quarter of 2012, they spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to bring in food and drink from upscale restaurants, trendy coffee shops and grocery stores — even though Congress was only in session about a third of the time.
Coverage of the spending has focused on the GOP’s professed interest in decreased government spending and attempted to highlight this seeming hypocrisy. The original report from the Guardian was headlined “GOP leaders spent tens of thousands on coffee, doughnuts and catering” and continued, “The country may be headed toward leaner times with the sequester budget cuts, but you couldn’t tell from the way members of Congress spent on themselves.” But I’m not sure that narrative is altogether correct — or fair.
For one thing, the amount in question is peanuts compared to the overall budget. For another, Democrats behave in exactly the same way — it just doesn’t make headlines because we already know they’re big spenders.
But most importantly, let’s take a look at where all that money went:
After an 18-month investigation, congressional Republicans yesterday released a draft report on the Fast and Furious ‘scandal’. The first of what will eventually be three reports blames five officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for a gun-smuggling operation gone wrong:
In Operation Fast and Furious, agents employed a controversial tactic called gun-walking — allowing low-level “straw” buyers in gun-trafficking networks to proceed with loads of weapons that they purchased at gun shops in Arizona.
The tactic was designed to track guns to major weapons traffickers and drug cartels, but many of the weapons weren’t tracked and wound up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S., including the site of a shootout on the U.S. side of the border that resulted in the death of a border agent, Brian Terry.
I have more to say on the topic of gun control later, but in the meantime, I felt the need to point out that right-wing outrage over the incident is the height of absurdity – not because the program was initiated under President Bush, though it was, and not because Bush also freely exercised ‘executive privilege’ to cover for his Justice Department, although that is also true – but because, as we all know: