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Putting the Kids to Work
January 23, 2003
By Sheila Samples

When the Bushies hit town two years ago, it was, "Hey - ya'll come on up to our new spread in DeeCee - and don't forget to bring the kids!" Okay, so I didn't actually hear them holler that, but considering the stampede of hometown folks to the seat of government in the past two years, they at least left the gate to the North-40 ajar, if not wide open.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to get the kids out of the house and gainfully employed. But this bunch is parceling out chunks of the republic like they're reading the family will. "To the victor goes the spoils!" is being taken to new highs - or in some instances - lows. Like back in November when Alaska's Republican senator Frank Murkowski was elected governor of his state and got to appoint his replacement. Seems the only suitable candidate in the entire state of Alaska was Frank's daughter, Lisa. That's Senator Lisa Murkowski to you...Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News that he looked high and low and hacked and whittled at the list until - by golly - the only qualified candidate left was Lisa. But not to worry - Lisa assures us that she "shares the same vision" as Daddy.

"It's time for the next generation of Alaskans to start building seniority in Congress," the elder Murkowski told the News, winking and nudging as he warmed to his subject. "...The person I appoint to the remaining two years of my term should be someone who shares my basic philosophy, my values, and..." - he didn't add because he didn't have to - my DNA.

But the Murkowski episode is scarcely a blip on this administration's "family tradition" radar screen. Such bits of nepotistic derring-do started long before Murkowski, and it started at the top. With his hand still on the inaugural Bible, creepy veep Dick Cheney was already looking to put his own kids to work. Just months after being selected, the veep met in June 2001 with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. A scant two months later, Cheney son-in-law Philip Perry was sitting in the cat-bird seat - chief counsel for the Office of Management and Budget, where he tends to antitrust matters in Ashcroft's Department of Justice. We all know the happy, lenient ending to that little chapter in the continuing Microsoft-Monopoly saga, don't we?

Then in February last year, Cheney's daughter, Liz - Perry's wife - miraculously appeared on the scene, a full-blown deputy assistant Secretary of State, where she is taking care of economic development - to include trade and investment - in the Middle East. Is that scary or what? According to the loony Moonie Washington Times, State Department and administration officials, "speaking on condition of anonymity" - told UPI "the new post was created specifically for the vice president's daughter."

There are many advantages to putting the kids to work, especially if such work is taking care of the family business. They're ideologically in sync, and therefore require little, if any, on-the-job training in order to plunder the nation's resources. And the best part is they don't tell the family secrets.

Few are better at their jobs than Michael Powell, whose dad Colin is more or less in charge over at State. Dubya appointed the younger Powell chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where he promptly rolled up his sleeves and began working feverishly to give this nation's communication goodies to three or four big corporations.

Although the FCC prides itself on existing solely to further the best interests of the public, its new chairman has repeated more than once that he "doesn't understand what the public interest is." Powell likes to say the market will determine the public interest - a frightening prospect when you consider he has now turned his destructive attention to allowing cable operators to extend their monopoly into the Internet digital area. Nice kid, that Powell. One of the family for sure.

Lest any man forget, no group earned the right to demand "payback" more than the hooded - er, robed - members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Snorting and grunting at the public trough, Chief Justice William Rehnquist was served up a key job for his daughter, Janet, who headed over to the Health and Human Services Department as inspector general in charge of fraud and deceit. Clearly the gal for the job. Once there, Janet wasted little time in triggering controversy across the entire fraud-and-deceit scandal spectrum - from firing long-time career employees to displaying a gun without a trigger lock in her office - to personally intervening in HHS matters to help her personal and political friends. She is currently under federal investigation, and her office was ordered in December to stop trying to dig out of that hole by shredding sensitive and possibly incriminating documents.

Think about that for a moment. An attorney - no, an inspector general, daughter of this nation's Chief Justice of the freaking Supreme Court - possibly shredding incriminating evidence in an ongoing investigation! The fact that either Rehnquist remains in place makes my head all fuzzy and tingly like I am so totally drunk I can barely shriek above a whisper and my barks of laughter are muted by waves of abject horror. Don't even administration families have limits to the mischief they'll allow their kids to get into?

And we sure don't want to forget little Eugene Scalia, who left his job as Labor's top lawyer last week after a chaotic two years of trying to kick down the Senate door. Scalia, son of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, is so virulently anti-labor that an enamored Dubya bypassed a contentious Senate confirmation and put him in place via recess appointment. In his year at Labor, Scalia worked tirelessly - enraging union leaders on every front and villifying American workers, not only front and back, but from both sides as well. He stripped workers of whistleblowers rights, fought to require them to buy personal safety equipment and is on record as saying ergonomics is "junk science and quackery." Hmmmm. This guy must be the proverbial "poor middle child."

However, according to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, wife of Kentucky's Republican Senator Mitch McConnell (surprise!), Scalia served the family well. "We will miss him greatly," Chao said incomprehensively but very very sorrowfully.

It's a family thing. And they're dead serious about it. Intellect, experience or background have little or nothing - okay, less than nothing - to do with putting the kids to work. Kentucky Repub Senator Jim Bunning's son, David, is an appellate judge who was confirmed by daddy's colleagues even after the American Bar Association found him to be unqualified and intellectually challenged. Hey, don't laugh. In this family, truly no child is left behind.

Which reminds me - another dim son is now a U.S. attorney although the twenty-something tyro had not a whit of experience to justify his confirmation. This could only happen in Georgia - to a kid whose last name is Thurmond. Because it's all in the family.

I could go on. And on. I haven't even made a dent in the inbreeding and kid-swapping going on in Washington under this administration. It's enough to make you recoil from "family values" - enough to make even the most hardened political pervert turn away in disgust.

Guess that's why the media refuses to talk about it...

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and former Public Information Officer at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

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