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.


June 30, 2001

Elliot Abrams for… human rights czar? — Various
President Bush has appointed Elliott Abrams, a key figure in the Iran Contra scandal, to a human rights position on the White House’s National Security Council. This is the man who, in 1991, pleaded guilty on two charges of lying to Congress about the covert operations in which the Reagan Administration sold arms to the government of Iran and funneled the proceeds the contra rebels in Nicaragua. Abrams, who in the 1980s was instrumental in shifting US foreign policy away from a focus on human rights, was pardoned by Bush Sr. in 1992.

Church and state, pro and con — Hotline Scoop
Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United For Separation of Church and State, takes on Sharon M. Daly, vice president of social policy for Catholic Charities USA over Bush’s faith-based initiative in Hotline’s “Matchup.” Of particular interest is a difference of opinion over whether African-Americans will benefit most from the plan, as Bush has argued. Lynn suggests that the administration “misled” civil-rights leader Rosa Parks to gain her support for the concept. “The plan, as currently drafted, opens the door to government-funded discrimination, which cannot be seen as a positive development for the African American community,” Lynn says. “Indeed, if Ms. Parks has been told the same things about this proposal that Bush administration spokespersons have told others to garner their support, she was misled as to the details and intentions of the initiative.”

Dubya’s FTAA doodles — Progressive Review
In this spoof “mysterious note found in our Eudora attachments file,” we see what purport to be scribblings George W. Bush made during the recent FTAA Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Among the musings are plans for an “initiation ritual for members” (a la Skull and Bones) featuring a scavenger hunt in which initiates must find “Street signs; oil; Cheney’s heart monitor; [crossed out] Al Gore (too hard).”

June 29, 2001

Uncle Sam wants YOU to go home — US News & World Report
George W. Bush has discontinued a tradition of allowing White House staffers and their families to join the President on the South Lawn to watch Fourth of July fireworks. Apparently Bush only wants his top aides around him for the event. An internal memo, reports US News, informed workers that the gathering would be limited to “immediate staff and Executive Office of the President agency heads.”

Return to the land of rich white men — Bergen Record
We knew there were an awful lot of retreads from previous administrations on George W.’s team, but the actual numbers are astounding: More than 40 percent of President Bush’s top appointees worked in his father’s administration, and nearly three-quarters have worked in the federal government before. Other interesting factoids dredged up by the National Journal:Four out of five of Bush’s top appointees are white; 31 percent served in the Reagan Administration; three-quarters are men; and 38 percent are former business executives.

June 27, 2001

Katherine Harris says commission “biased” — Washington Times, AP
The Florida secretary of state held a press conference today accusing the US Human Rights Commission of conducting a “bogus” investigation into allegations of racially-biased disenfranchisement of minorities in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. The commission’s findings aren’t credible, Harris said, because chair Mary Frances Berry rooted for Gore during the campaign.

Smells like a one-termer — American Prospect
Leaders of the European Union may have been pleasantly surprised to find that George W. Bush is not a total moron, says Robert Kuttner, but recent polls indicate that the American public is less sanguine. A recent New York Times/CBS poll says most Americans “doubt [Bush’s] ability to lead in an international crisis and doubt that foreign leaders have respect for Bush.” Most also don’t believe the president is qualified to make informed, wise choices for the Supreme Court. While there’s still time for Bush to burnish his image by moving to the center, says Kuttner, the pressure from social conservatives may be too great.

Hey George, Puerto Rico is part of the US — The Nation
“When George W. Bush announced from Sweden on June 14 that he planned to pull the US Navy out of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques by 2003, it struck some as odd when he referred to the people of Vieques, all US citizens, as ‘our friends and neighbors [who] don’t want us there’,” notes Angelo Falcon in the latest issue of The Nation. “It was as though he was saying Puerto Rico is a foreign country.” More geographical confusion from the man who brought us Grecians and Kosovarians.

June 26, 2001

Bush budget “a bridge to the 19th century” — NRDC
Many trees were killed to print the Bush administration’s massive budget proposal, and many more may pay for what’s inside, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Among other things, the group’s analysis finds, “[t]he proposed budget would slash overall spending for environmental and natural resources agencies by $2.3 billion, or 7.2 percent, in fiscal year 2002 — a drop from $32.3 billion to $30 billion.”

Cheney won’t give up energy execs’ names — New York Times
The General Accounting Office sent a stern letter to Dick Cheney last week, charging the Vice President with ignoring its demands that he turn over the names of energy industry insiders who met behind closed doors with the White House task force charged with formulating the national energy policy. Cheney has ignored several requests to reveal the names, which the GAO says Cheney has a legal obligation to turn over. According to the Times, “If the dispute continues, the accounting office could bring a civil action against the administration.”

June 25, 2001

The EPA’s revolving door — Los Angeles Times
Bush’s nominees for key environment jobs certainly have experience in Washington — as lawyers and lobbyists for the industries that the Environmental Protection Agency is charged with regulating. One nominee was a lobbyist and fund-raiser for Monsanto; other picks are former lobbyists for the timber, oil, gas, and coal industries. EPA head Christie Whitman has no problem with her future staff’s credentials — she says that she was looking for “people who understand how the real world works.”

GOP solidarity gets shaky — USA Today
Republicans in the House and Senate have been breaking ranks with Bush on a number of issues lately, and not just over details of the “patients’ bill of rights.” Last week, Jesse Helms complained about Bush’s “excessively personal endorsement” of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And there may be more GOP dissent ahead: there are mutterings in Congress about ignoring the White House and passing resolutions urging the International Olympic Committee to reject China’s bid to host the 2008 games.