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.

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August 25-28, 2001

Get your Bush nickname — Modern Humorist
Dick “The Sicker Ticker” Cheney outlines the $800 million Federal Nickname Project, an effort to give each and every American a nickname: “[President Bush] believes his gift for coining folksy epithets has … cemented his political alliances with Tom ‘United Airlines Regrets This’ DeLay and Trent ‘I Fart A’ Lott.” Americans will be able to determine their own nicknames using a chart that associates personal characteristics with clever terms of endearment. African Americans, for example, will simply insert the phrase “Cool Breeze” between their first and last names; tall people may insert “Stretch”; millionaires can insert the term “Buddy” (billionaires may use “Good Buddy”).

Social Security scam — William Greider, The Nation
Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Richard Parsons, co-chairs of “Bush’s Commission to Gut Social Security,” are playing word games to simultaneously scare Americans about Social Security and raid the fund to pay for the Bush tax cut, according to William Greider. “Both are media darlings,” he writes, “well spoken and knowledgeable, but both are too smart not to know the deceitful word games their commission is playing.” If the Social Security “trust fund” is empty, as Moynihan and Parsons insinuate, it is only because of Reagan’s catastrophic tax cuts in the 1980s, not any fundamental flaw in Social Security’s structure. Now, Greider argues, Bush & Co. are further undermining the public’s confidence in the system in a carefully orchestrated mind-game designed to help sell the idea of privatization.

August 24, 2001

Hillary vs. Dubya, Round II — New York Post
Hillary Rodham Clinton has voted against more of the president’s nominees than any of her 99 Senate colleagues, and she led the charge to defeat Bush’s nominee for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Now she has reportedly set her sights on Eugene Scalia, the nominee to lead the Labor Department’s law unit and the son of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia is considered an enemy of workers’ rights by many Democrats, who remind us of his infamous statement that “ergonomics is quackery.” Scalia was last in the news when it was discovered that his law firm argued Bush’s side of last November’s election lawsuit before Scalia Sr. and the rest of the Supreme Court.

Cabinet dead pool — Village Voice/Slate
Office pools inside the Beltway may well be wagering on matters more compelling even than the impending NFL season — like who will be the first to exit the Bush administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell or Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. James Ridgeway asks “how long Secretary of State Colin Powell can stand to play Stepin Fetchit to George Bush’s stumblebum foreign policy team.” Over at Slate, Timothy Noah is tracking the “Rumsfeld Death Watch“: “Rumsfeld is being excoriated for mismanaging the Defense Department — so much so that it’s rumored there’s a pool at the Pentagon to guess when Rumsfeld will go.” Conservatives pin the blame for Rummy’s failure on an unsupportive Bush administration, which has managed to pull the rug out from under just about every cabinet member in its short tenure.

Whitman outs Bush as, er, underinformed — New York Times Magazine
Deep in Gregg Easterbrook’s story on how thankless EPA head Christine Todd Whitman’s job is, there’s a revealing quote: In offering her the job, Whitman tells Easterbrook, the president told her that she alone would be setting the administration’s policy on environmental matters. ”I asked him what the role for the [White House] Council on Environmental Quality would be, and he said: ‘I don’t even know what that is. I want you to be the environmental person.”’ The CEQ is the executive branch office responsible for enforcing the National Environmental Policy Act and coordinating the environmental policies of federal agencies. (Thanks to Grist for the tip.)

August 23, 2001

Whose coast is it anyway? — Associated Press
The Bush administration has appealed a June court ruling that blocked new oil and natural gas exploration off the California coast pending environmental reviews by federal and state authorities. “The Bush administration says it’s serious about states’ rights,” Drew Caputo, an attorney with the National Resources Defense Council, tells the AP. “By appealing that decision, the Bush administration is trying to go around states’ rights.”

Arctic drilling 101 — The Guardian (UK)
Need more ammunition for arguing with your friends and enemies about Bush’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? The Guardian (UK) is at your service with an elegantly simple guide to the delicate ecosystem and the dangers of drilling. For example, Bush & Co. argue that oil companies will build thick ice roads for drilling equipment in the winter and thereby protect the tundra. But construction of the ice roads requires crews to drain water from local streams and lakes, potentially damaging fish stocks and migrating birds.

Hide and leak — New York Observer
“One way to measure the priorities of any government is by observing what it strives to keep secret,” writes Joe Conason. “This axiom is currently being illustrated in the most stark fashion by the administration of George W. Bush. If you are an oilman or utility lobbyist who whispered about regulations and taxes to the Vice President, then the White House and the Justice Department will go to court to protect you from the curiosity of the public, the press or the Congress. But if you are the Prime Minister of Israel who talked on a supposedly secure telephone with the President of the United States, then the White House and its friends in Congress will permit your conversations to leak without the slightest concern for future diplomatic consequences.”

August 22, 2001

Washington press corpse — San Francisco Chronicle
The news media was all over every move Clinton made, spinning a new scandal on him or a member of his family practically on a monthly basis. Not so with George W. Bush. Says TV critic Tim Goodman, “Is President Bush getting a free pass from the press? (Maybe reporters are still catching their breath post-Clintons and will take up the hunt later?) And, if Bush really isn’t getting the benefit of a compliant press corps, is that very group falling down on its job to report real, hard policy news coming out of Washington?” Hmmm…

Bush’s peppy policy — The Progressive
What’s not to love about Bush’s foreign policy approach, asks Molly Ivins? “He went to the G-8 deal and only one guy got killed; he met with the Popester, a rockin’ guy… Karl told George W. he needed the Catholic vote, so Bush called the Popester ‘Sir.’ But he didn’t refer to anyone in Italy as a wop.” Dubya’s approach is even good for a suprise or two: “Who ever thought Bush’s first military action would be against Padre Island, Texas, which was supposed to replace Vieques, Puerto Rico [as a practice bombing range for the Navy]?”

August 21, 2001

FoWs not always welcome overseas — Houston Chronicle
It’s well known that presidents like to fill posh embassy posts with friends and top benefactors. George W. Bush’s pals, like the president himself, aren’t too well traveled or knowledgeable about the cultures and peoples of other nations. The Houston Chronicle says some of the envoys are playing so poorly overseas that their appointments “may be aggravating already strained relations with US allies.” Among the duds: California billionaire Howard Leach, ambassador to France, who doesn’t speak a word of French. He has said that his post as vice president of the San Francisco Opera Association proves that he is on the same cultural wavelength as the French.

A mole in Katherine Harris’ office? — Palm Beach Post
The news emerging from Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris’ office in recent weeks has made Harris look so devious and underhanded — not to mention politically inept — it’s easy to imagine a double agent on the inside, feeding the scoop to the Democrats while giving Harris the world’s worst political advice, jokes Palm Beach Post staffer S.V. Dáte.

Energy industry launches media blitz — Orlando Sentinel
“The big oil and gas companies that spent nearly $2 million to help elect President Bush last year are pouring millions more into an advertising campaign this summer to help sell his energy policy in Congress,” reports the Orlando Sentinel‘s William Gibson. The Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, a consortium of big energy businesses, has spent $1 million on television ads touting the Bush/Cheney energy plan — and protecting their investment at the same time. Another industry group, called Citizens for Real Energy Solutions, has launched a separate multimillion-dollar ad campaign featuring television spots in 10 states, including Florida. “The price of campaign contributions and ads would easily be eclipsed by the billions of dollars in industry tax breaks contained in the Bush-inspired energy bill approved by the House of Representatives,” writes Gibson.


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