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.


Apr. 13, 2001

Kids or terrorists? — The Times (UK)
The traditional White House Easter egg roll will take on a new twist under Bush: kids who are chosen to participate will be frisked by the Secret Service for guns, knives, mace, stun guns, and even balloons (they sound like gunfire when they pop). The ominous list of banned items is on the flip side of the cartoon-bedecked invitation ticket. Says the Times: “The heightened security at Monday’s event has been prompted by a spate of school shootings, leading authorities to regard even the youngest child as a potential threat.”

Enviro activists visit Bush ranch — IndyMedia.org
Greenpeace activists hung a banner from a water tower near President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. The banner read “Bush the Toxic Texan, Don’t Mess With the Earth.” All three protesters were promptly arrested, but not before television cameras captured the scene.

Apr. 12, 2001

Bush’s brush with an protected species — Various
Maybe Dubya’s proposal to gut the Endangered Species Act (see yesterday’s item, below) stems from his own brush with a protected species: During his 1994 run for Texas governor, Bush the Younger participated in a Texas dove hunt as a campaign photo-op. The candidate accidentally killed a protected plover known as a killdeer, which he says he mistook for a dove (the two are birds, and that’s where the resemblance ends, say critics. Judge for yourself: dove / killdeer). He was charged with a misdemeanor and fined $130. Later asked by the Houston Chronicle the difference between a killdeer and a killdee (they are both terms for the same bird, based on its distinctive call), Dubya answered: “One’s dead and one’s alive.” He later joked about the dead bird in his State of the State Address in 1995.

‘Heraldgate’ enters second round — American Politics/Online Journal
As we reported last week, The Miami Herald published two contradictory stories on consecutive days, the first concluding that Bush would have won a recount in Florida, the second that Gore would have won. Seems at least one Herald staffer is a little touchy about the subject. Martin Merzer, who wrote the first of the two Herald stories (the only one of the two picked up by significant numbers of mainstream outlets), responded to a critique of the contradictory reportage, calling it “utter nonsense.” In an e-mail obtained by American Politics, Merzer told a reader who questioned him, “If we were so off-base, wouldn’t the mainstream media — and more to the point, mainstream Democratic leaders — have risen to the occasion by now?”

Apr. 11, 2001

Bush proposes gutting Endangered Species Act — San Francisco Chronicle
A proposed cut to the Department of the Interior’s budget would essentially take the teeth out of citizen lawsuits against the US Fish and Wildlife Service for failure to enforce species protections. If the provision in Bush’s budget survives, the federal government would no longer fund enforcement of court orders stemming from such lawsuits. Since citizen lawsuits are often the only way the government is held accountable for enforcing endangered species laws, the ESA may be as good as extinct.

What global warming? — CNN
The Bush budget’s proposed spending cuts include a selective slashing of NASA’s budget, including programs that monitor global climate change from space. Bush can’t have the EPA saying global warming doesn’t exist when NASA is consistently proving that it does. (Thanks to Tim Clark for the tip.)

Bush’s former company imperils endangered turtles — ENN
Indigenous people in Costa Rica are mounting a legal challenge against Harken Energy Corp., which bought Bush’s near-bankrupt oil business some years back, to prevent oil drilling in what is called “the cradle of the Carribean sea turtle populations.”

Apr. 10, 2001

Texas diplomacy = foot-in-mouth disease — Molly Ivins
While trying to smooth over the tensions with China without saying the magic word (“sorry”), Dubya made matters worse by pulling out one of his old campaign sound-bites on China. Only he reversed a couple of key points and accidentally said China was “not a strategic partner but a competitor.” Says Molly Ivins, “It not only helps not to be dumb — it helps not to sound dumb.”

Smoke and mirrors on education spending — Reuters
The highlight of George W. Bush’s budget is a whopping 11.5 percent increase in the budget for the Department of Education. But numbers can lie, and Congressional Democrats say these do: the $4.6 billion spending increase the Bush administration cites includes $2.1 billion approved last year under Clinton. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., issued a statement saying “In reality, President Bush proposes only $1.8 billion in new money for education next year, a mere 4 percent above inflation.”

Apr. 9, 2001

Good cop, bad cop — Reuters/Associated Press
Dubya’s new budget proposal includes that teaspoon of sugar that makes it go down easier for any politician: a provision for more cops on the street. But maybe Bush ought to check in with his attorney general. John Ashcroft last week hinted that the administration was actually looking into cutting a huge federally funded community policing program.

Some salmonella with that arsenic, kiddo? — The Boston Globe
Thomas Oliphant of The Boston Globe says the only reason agriculture secretary Ann Veneman backed off the plan to ease testing for impurities in meat headed for places like public schools is that the news of the plan leaked out to the public. It, like so many of the regulatory decisions made in DC since Bush took office, was another favor to an industry which supported the GOP in the most recent election.

Geroge H.W.’s possible scrape with Linda Tripp — NewsMax/The Straight Dope/Columbia Journalism Review
Righties who hoped the GOP’s favorite recording artist Linda Tripp would be a part of the Bush II White House are bound to be disappointed, says the way-right news service NewsMax. Gossips there are speculating that she got on the Bush family’s bad side by nearly doing to the Elder Bush what she later did to Bill Clinton. NewsMax says Tripp almost blew the lid off an allegedly adulterous relationship (which was explored by the LA Weekly, Newsweek, and Joe Conason of Spy magazine at the time) between George Sr. and a State Department employee named Jennifer Fitzgerald.