The Bush Files

A sampling of the day’s best independent news, views, and resources on US politics, keeping an eye on the Bush Administration. Updated each weekday.


March 16, 2001

Voteless in Tennessee, too — Counterpunch
Seems Florida may not have been the only place where African Americans were harassed at the voting booths. Reports of black voters being ordered to the back of the line, told to remove NAACP stickers from their cars, and intimidated by police are rife in Al Gore’s home state — but the mainstream press isn’t interested.

Colombian state governors to Bush: Stop the spraying! — DRCNet
The governors of four Colombian states travelled to Washington D.C. this week to plead with their president and ours to stop spraying rural croplands with herbicides. The chemical bombardment is meant to eradicate coca plants, but, as abashed US officials acknowledged, it’s also wiping out food crops. DRCNet offers an interview with one of the aggrieved govs.

March 15, 2001

The Grim Reaper goes to Washington — Slate and New York Times
It’s bad juju to talk about it on Capitol Hill, but the death of either 98-year-old Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.)or 79-year-old Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) would most likely shift control of the Senate to the Democrats. The New York Times (free registration required) tactfully broached the subject a few days ago, and Slate has quantified the chances of either senator expiring before the end of their terms. (Odds are for both of them hanging in there.)

If you can’t stand the heat — Salon and The Guardian (UK)
Bush’s about-face on carbon dioxide emissions limits may have thrilled energy industry leaders, but it’s a snub to environmentalists, moderate Republicans, and even the Department of Energy. European leaders are especially steamed, which comes as no surprise, since EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman recently assured them that the US was committed to reducing CO2.

I’d like to thank the Supreme Court — LA Weekly
Florida activist Bob Kunst is on his way to the Oscars, where he’ll nominate Bush for an award of his own devising: Best Performance in a Coup.

 

March 14, 2001

Kerry vs. Lott on Arctic drilling — Boston Globe
Sen. John Kerry. D-Mass., has threatened a filibuster to block debate in Congress on national energy policy because of a provision in the bill to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. Majority Leader Trent Lott says Kerry would be irresponsible to hold up the whole bill because of one provision, and that the ploy won’t work because the GOP plans to use Kerry’s antics to pin the energy crisis on the Democrats in the eyes of the American people.

When is a caribou an albatross? — Grist Magazine
Everywhere President Bush looks, he seems to find reasons to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But caribou-in-the-Arctic could quickly become Bush’s gays-in-the-military, says David Helvarg.

Dubya cribbing from Reagan era — Helen Thomas
Have a listen to the Gipper’s radio addresses in the early days of his administration, and you’ll find the blueprint for Dubya’s policy agenda. In 1981, Reagan was pushing a tax cut, missile defense, increased military spending, states’ rights, anti-abortion policies, and school vouchers. According to Helen Thomas, George Jr. is trying to do what his dad couldn’t: convince the right that he is a “true believer” in the tradition of Duke.

 

March 13, 2001

Bush drinking buddy emerges from hiding — The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
The night George W. Bush was arrested for drunk driving in 1976, he had been drinking with former tennis star John Newcombe of Australia. Newcombe tells the Telegraph he went into hiding to avoid press scrutiny of the event just before the election. But now that Dubya is firmly ensconced in the White House, Newcombe is more than happy to tell all, including the fact that Bush had downed a six-pack before getting behind the wheel.

Bush, Cheney whip Powell into line — The Times (UK)
Secretary of State Colin Powell has twice had the gall to come to his own conclusions about prudent policies, according to The Times, only to be shouted down by his bosses. Powell’s ideas on US policy toward North Korea and Iraq were both publicly nixed by Bush and Cheney, respectively. The message to Powell from on high seems to be: be seen and not heard.

GOP using JFK to peddle Bush tax plan — Boston Globe
The Kennedy clan is none too happy with a GOP group that has begun airing radio commercials in Louisiana to drum up support for the Bush tax plan. The spots use excerpts of speech President John F. Kennedy delivered in 1962. “It is intellectually dishonest and politically irresponsible to suggest that President Kennedy would have supported such a tax cut,” Sen. Teddy Kennedy and JFK daughter and legal scholar Caroline Kennedy wrote in a letter to the group.

Forget recounts; the vote was fixed — World Socialist Web Site
The US Commission on Civil Rights has issued preliminary findings in an investigation of alleged civil-rights violations contributing to the disenfranchisement of thousands of Democratic voters in Florida. The commission’s report points to policies carried out by the state administration — including the offices of Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris — that excised potential voters from the rolls before election day. Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry said, “Voter disenfranchisement appears to be at the heart of the issue. It is not a question of a recount or even an accurate count, but more pointedly the issue is those whose exclusion from the right to vote amounted to a ‘no count.'”

Did he, or didn’t he? — The Guardian (UK) and the Associated Press
Here’s an interesting contrast between how the US media and the UK media cover the same story. The Associated Press and The Guardian (UK) ran stories about The Palm Beach Post recount — the one that showed that thousands of Gore votes were tossed because of a confusing ballot design. The AP’s headline: “Gore Might Have Won“. The Guardian’s headline: “Recount shows Gore had won“.

 

March 12, 2001

A Justice Department Bill Gates could love — Reuters
Dubya has appointed another veteran of his father’s administration, tapping lawyer Charles A. James to take over antitrust duties at the Justice Department. James has already expressed skepticism about the case against Microsoft brought by his predecessor, Joe Klein. Also worth remembering are ties between James’ boss-to-be John Ashcroft and Microsoft: The company contributed $9,000 to Ashcroft’s failed Senate campaign, and $716,777 to the Republican National Committee, which also assisted Ashcroft’s campaign.

Morality, Bush-style — St. Petersburg Times
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has proposed using taxpayer dollars to teach chastity in public schools. Meanwhile, The Smoking Gun points out, Gov. Bush’s son Jebby has been caught getting, well, a little grabby and jabby in the back seat of a Jeep Cherokee in a mall parking lot, according to an October 2000 police report. (Thanks to BuzzFlash for the tip.)

Floridians wanted Gore — Palm Beach Post
The Miami Herald based its recount undervotes — those cases where no vote was counted because of the legendary “dimpled” chad problem — and determined that George W. Bush rightfully won the election in Florida. The Palm Beach Post took a different tack by counting Palm Beach County’s “overvotes” — those ballots on which voters punched the hole or filled in the bubble next to a candidate’s name and also wrote the same candidate’s name in the write-in space, or punched holes next to two candidates’ names, as happened with the infamous “butterfly ballot.” Had those votes been counted Gore would have won by more than 10 times the margin Bush claimed in the official count, according to the Post.

Marc Rich, Dan Burton, and the apartheid-oil connection — Center for Public Integrity
Pardoned financier Marc Rich helped supply oil to South Africa in the 1980s in violation of international sanctions against — and US laws barring trade with — the country. Also during the ’80s, Rep. Dan Burton, the congressman heading up the investigation of Rich’s pardon, worked with the International Freedom Foundation, “a Washington-based organization in part clandestinely funded by the South African military to prop up overseas support for apartheid,” according to the CPI. Burton didn’t mention that job — or his staunch opposition to the South Africa sanctions — when he quizzed a former White House advisor about Rich’s embargo-busting during a Mar. 1 hearing.