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.


May 4, 2001

Bush’s roadless bait and switch — NRDC
The Natural Resources Defense Council is slamming the Bush administration for touting its decision to keep a Clinton-era policy preserving roadless areas in national forests: The administration also introduced an exemption to the rule, the group notes, that renders it practically meaningless. “This is a sneak attack,” says Nathaniel Lawrence, NRDC’s senior attorney. “The Bush administration claims to be keeping the roadless rule in place, but it is opening an exemption that will kill it.”

Why cabinet keeps getting corrected — Washingtonian
It’s happened to Christie Whitman (on Bush’s CO2 policy and on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) and Colin Powell at least twice (on Iraq sanctions and North Korea missile talks). It happened to Donald Rumsfeld earlier this week (on US-China military contacts): A cabinet member makes a public statement of policy only to have the administration “correct” the statement. According to the Washingtonian, that’s because the cabinet offices are plumb out of loyalists in administrative positions and chock full of bureaucrats, leaving secretaries sifting through reams of meaningless paper and guessing at White House positions.

May 3, 2001

Top bracket windfall — Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
Bush’s tax cut, passed almost totally intact by Congress, includes a massive reduction for those in the topmost bracket, despite the fact that fewer than 1 percent of taxpayers fall in that bracket. The reduction for just those lucky few amounts to $237 billion over the next 10 years.

The worst 100 days — The Nation
The Nation isn’t pulling punches: “During his first 100 days, George W. Bush’s principal accomplishment, indeed his only one, was to demolish any too-generous illusions about who he is,” the editors write. They go on to call the first 100 days “ugly” and “ominous” and Bush “politically tone-deaf.”

Social Security adviser was subject of pension lawsuit — CNN
Richard Parsons, Bush’s pick to co-chair the administration’s new Social Security commission, was at the center of a recently settled federal lawsuit against AOL Time Warner, where Parsons is a top executive. The lawsuit, settled by the company for $5.5 million, alleged that the media behemoth cheated hundreds of workers out of health and pension benefits by falsely classifying them as temporary employees and independent contractors.

May 2, 2001

Fun with fundraising — Chicago Tribune
Johnny Huang, a central figure in the Clinton fundraising scandals, testified that Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao asked him to contribute to the reelection campaign of Chao’s husband, Sen. Mitch McConnel, R-Ky. in 1990. Huang, whose ties to Chao go much deeper than he let on in the hearings, said his contribution of $2,000 was later illegally reimbursed by his employer. McConnell, a vocal opponent of campaign finance reform, gave the money back just after President Bush nominated Chao to the labor post.

At least this guy wasn’t named drug czar — Various
From the Dept. of Counted Blessings: Say what you will about Bush’s drug czar nominee, John Walters — it coulda been worse. High on the list of candidates was Robert Maginnis, a policy wonk at the ultra-right-wing Family Research Council who fought against President Clinton’s plan to allow gays in the military. He has testified in Congress that marijuana users “are known to terrorize their families and neighbors with violent acts or steal from them.”

100 days, a fever dream — PopPolitics.com
Steven Day hallucinates 100 days of Bush, including Pat Robertson advocating abortions in China (oh wait, that wasn’t a dream), Josiah Bartlett’s impeachment, and Ken Starr’s investigation of the founding fathers.

May 1, 2001

Put down the treaty and step away — Various
George W. Bush says his administration remains committed to the idea of a missile defense system that many scientists believe won’t work, and that would violate the ABM treaty reached in the 1970s between the US and the then-Soviet Union. Russia is livid at Bush’s barely veiled attempts to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty The Federation of American Scientists has written a letter begging the president to reconsider the “Son of Star Wars” system: “The system would offer little protection and would do grave harm to this nation’s core security interests,” particularly in Korea, China, and Russia.

Debate tape reveals Bush’s hot temper — Talk
It has been months since we heard about the infamous “debate tape” leaked to the Gore campaign by someone inside the Bush campaign just before the first presidential debate. Democrats have said it was a failed set-up designed to make Gore look unethical; a Bush campaign worker was indicted recently for her role in the case. Now a high-ranking Bush campaign adviser tells Talk what was on that tape: Bush losing his cool during a mock debate as the campaign staffer playing Tim Russert peppered him with tough questions.

Texas energy hogs — Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Near hysteria surrounds the energy crisis in California, and Dick Cheney recently warned that the rest of the country could be in the same boat if it depends on conservation instead of building new power plants. It’s no wonder Cheney and Bush, Texas boys both, don’t put much stock in energy saving: Texas ranks highest among the 19 most populous US states in energy use per capita (California ranks second to lowest.)

An FoW for China — Los Angeles Times
George W. Bush has tapped one of his former Yale frat brothers to be the US special envoy to China. Bush has frequently chosen friends (and their family members on at least two occasions) and major campaign donors for positions of significant power in the administration.

April 30, 2001

Right this way — Observer (UK)
The Bush administration’s most enduring legacy may be its “hijacking of the US judiciary,” which is being engineered by a shadowy cabal of right-wing attorneys known as the Federalist Society (whose members include Solicitor General Ted Olson, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, and Sen. Orrin Hatch), according to The Observer.

New drug czar, same old strategy — Detroit Free Press
On the campaign trail, Dubya suggested that the country needed to shift the emphasis of the War on Drugs away from attacking supply and toward treatment. Now Bush has tapped John P. Walters — an old-fashioned drug warrior — as his pick to be the next drug czar. Walters advocates harsh minimum sentences for, drug users even for first offenses and favors expensive military intervention in drug-producing countries in Central and South America.

Jenna’s busy signal — New York Daily News
Austin, Texas police were happy to fax copies of a misdemeanor citation for underage drinking, issued Friday to Jenna Bush, to any reporter who asked — and they didn’t black out Jenna’s dorm room phone number. The suddenly-famous student’s phone apparently rang off the hook all weekend, and the Secret Service officers assigned to Jenna are “steaming.”

Cheney’s gift from the heart — GW Hatchet
Vice President Dick Cheney will give the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates $3.12 million as a gesture of thanks for 23 years of treatment for heart disease at the university’s medical center. The money will be used to create the Richard B. Cheney Cardiovascular Institute. The charitable gift is one of several Cheney is making to disburse some of his capital gains from cashing in stock options from Halliburton Co.