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.

| Sat Sep. 8, 2001 3:00 AM EDT

Sept 8, 2001

Boom times -- US Newswire
The lefty watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense wants to know whether taxpayers footed the bill for a private fireworks display put on at the White House after a dinner for Mexican President Vincente Fox -- a show estimated to have cost as much as $250,000. TCS also points out that George Zambelli, head of display-producers Zambelli Fireworks Internationale, just happened to give $2,000 to the Bush campaign last year.

Ashcroft's right-wing 'dream team' at the DOJ -- People for the American Way
"[Attorney General] John Ashcroft has turned the Justice Department into the Radical Right's Dream Team," says People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas. Of particular concern to the group are the high-profile positions held by members of the right-wing Federalist Society. Among the highlights:

  • Solicitor General Ted Olson, who was Bush's lawyer before the Supreme Court last fall. He also represented Reagan during the Iran-Contra hearings and is a close friend of Ken Starr.
  • Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson: Thompson was a witness for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his Senate confirmation hearings and a longtime board member of the right-wing legal activist Southeastern Legal Foundation.
  • Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources Thomas L. Sansonetti: Sonsonetti is a former lobbyist for coal mining and other industries seeking access to public lands.
  • Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention J. Robert Flores: Flores was the vice president and senior counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families, a lobbying group that strongly supported Child Online Protection Act, an Internet censorship bill that is now before the Supreme Court.

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Sept 7, 2001

Americans losing faith in Bush on economy -- CBS News
According to a new CBS News poll, Americans' view of Bush's and the GOP's handling of the economy is growing ever darker. Dubya's overall approval rating is down to 50 percent, a new low. "(T)he White House is not viewed as a credible authority on the actual state of the federal budget. And more Americans say it's the Democrats in Congress, not President Bush, who are more likely to make the right decisions about that budget, the economy and government spending," says CBS.

Bush brushing up on English -- Christian Science Monitor
President Bush has given a record few press conferences, and his public speeches are heavily scripted, because his handlers fear the kinds of verbal gaffes which embarrassed him during the campaign. So in a sort of summer school home-study program, Bush used August to practice his articulation in low-profile events, writes Francine Kiefer. "Using the American heartland as a kind of language lab, he delivered his first televised presidential address to the nation, and experimented with small and informal settings where he's more at ease." While early efforts were successful, according to observers, the real test for Bush will be whether he can win back some of the public's confidence during what promises to be a bitter budget battle.

Sept 6, 2001

Tricky math in Alaska -- Boston Globe
Teddy Roosevelt IV says Congressional Republicans are riding roughshod over the environment, as usual, but it's their deceitfulness that should really irk Americans. "John Sununu, the New Hampshire congressman, has given us a disingenuous amendment to the House energy bill. The amendment is an attempt to disguise as conservative a willful and aggressive intrusion on the pristine wilderness of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. It claims to limit the drilling to 2,000 acres, but this includes only the land where drilling pads and supports actually touch the ground. This is like measuring the New Jersey Turnpike by the acreage occupied by its tollbooths, in which case the turnpike would be situated on 2.77 square miles."

Always a 'duh' moment -- The Nation
George W. Bush has finally acknowledged that there's a little problem with the economy, but darn it, nothing he does seems to be fixing it. Robdert Scheer says, "The pity is that it took him so long to acknowledge the obvious, but then he was relaxing on his 26-day vacation while all those layoffs were announced. ... What he doesn't seem to grasp is that most of the checks have been mailed and cashed, so far to no avail. The expensive platinum-plated bullet is proving to be a dud." The problem, says Scheer, is Bush's loose grip on the basic laws of economics: "They should have warned him in the first place that a tax cut for the rich would not work as a stimulus to the economy because it is analogous to pushing on a string. Give money to the rich, and they'll squirrel it away. As Bill Gates once told me, you can only drive one fancy car at a time. Give that same money to people who are struggling to get by, and they will spend every penny, producing that famous multiplier effect that we all learned about in Econ 101."

The Bush affair with secrecy -- The New Republic
Secrecy has become a team sport at the White House -- closed door meetings where favors are apparently bought and sold have captured headlines almost since the inauguration. But there's another secret the Bush administration is trying to keep, and it may be doing it in violation of the law, says Josh Chafetz. For seven months, the administration has prevented the National Archives from releasing 68,000 pages of documents, including correspondence between then-president Ronald Reagan and his aides. Historians say if the White House tries to further delay the papers' release, they may go to court. (Thanks to Tom for the tip.)

Sept 5, 2001

US backs away from children's rights -- Reuters
Bush may have said that he would "leave no child behind," but when it comes to children's rights internationally, it's the administration that is being left behind. In the run-up to a United Nations Children's Fund conference on children's rights later this month, US negotiators have insisted that a treaty on children's rights -- already signed by the vast majority of the world's nations -- be shelved, that sex education be banned in favor of abstinence, and any references to children's right to health care be dropped. The US delegation also declared that it would oppose any references to the sexual exploitation of girls in war zones, saying this would discriminate against boys.

Do as he says, not as he does -- San Francisco Chronicle
George W. Bush has repeatedly said that he wants Americans to spend their tax rebate checks in order to spur the economy back to health. But when asked whether he had received his own rebate check yet, Bush said he didn't know. And when pressed as to how he would spend it, Bush said he'd give it to charity. Writes Stephanie Salter, "Haw-haw. The man can't even remember from one day to the next the cornerstones of his own economic policy, haw-haw. Or it could be something else, something even scarier than stupidity: The arrogant disconnect that comes with privilege."

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