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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Nov. 23, 2001

Keep terror trials public — Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Bush’s proposed secret military trials of terror suspects would be counter-productive, cautions the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “How would America look to the rest of the world if it started to conduct secret military tribunals? How much credibility would the verdicts of such trials have, especially in the Muslim world?” it asks.”These people commit acts of terrorism in part, they say, because of what America represents in the world. What America represents is the rule of law, and these criminals – perhaps especially these criminals — should be subject to it.”

Republican campaign insider to oversee campaign financing rules – Associated Press
President Bush aims to nominate a top Republican Party attorney and campaign official to serve on the Federal Election Commission, the AP reports. Michael E. Toner, the Republican National Committee’s chief counsel, was the Bush campaign’s general counsel and an attorney for former Sen. Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. “This is another example of appointing people to the Federal Election Commission who represent views of the regulated community rather than the public,” commented Fred Wertheimer, head of Democracy 21, campaign-finance watchdog group.

Nov. 22, 2001

Bush to cut federal funding for California hospitals — Los Angeles Times
The Bush administration is closing a “regulatory loophole” that has provided hundreds of millions of federal dollars to health care facilities catering to the poor and uninsured, report Roger Rosenblatt and Nicholas Riccardi. “California’s safety net hospitals already are having trouble meeting their mission of caring for large numbers of people who lack health insurance,” they note, and hospital officials predict disaster.

Bush “stabbed history in the back” — Richard Reeves
“With a stroke of the pen on November 1, President Bush stabbed history in the back and blocked Americans’ ‘right to know’ how presidents actually make decisions,” says columnist Richard Reeves. After Bush signed the executive order severely limiting access to his own presidential papers as well as those of Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., and Bill Clinton, Reeves sent the president “a couple of books on recent presidencies along with a note saying they might become valuable artifacts, because no writer will be able to do books like them anymore.” In the past, he notes, presidential papers have provided valuable clues to US plans to assassinate foreign leaders including Fidel Castro, Chile’s Salvador Allende, and South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem. “I suspect these Bushmen, aware that they are headed into a nasty war, simply do not want to have to spend their later lives defending the decisions they are making now,” Reeves concludes.

Nov. 20, 2001

Republican unrest on the Hill — Chicago Sun-Times
A Tuesday meeting of Republican congressional whips “erupted” with anger and frustration, columnist Robert Novak reports. The GOP stalwarts were upset by what they see as a lack of support from President George W. Bush, who they believe has abandoned them recently on key legislation, Novak says. The Republicans are reportedly “mystified” that Bush has failed to take a strong stand on the economic stimulus and airport security bills. The GOP whips also expressed animosity toward Budget Director Mitchell Daniels, “the latest Bush Cabinet member to become the target of Republican lawmakers,” Novak says.

What the recount didn’t count — The Nation
The results of the long-awaited analysis of disputed Florida ballots in the 2000 presidential election by a consortium of major media outets led many to declare George W. Bush the clear winner. But The Nation reminds that the recount did nothing to address several serious flaws in the balloting itself, from the wrongful purging from voter lists of people mistakenly identified as felons to antiquated machinery in poor and minority districts that made votes in those areas more likely to be discarded.

Nov. 19, 2001

Bush’s multilateral hypocrisy — AlterNet
There is a double standard at work, David Corn argues, when George W. Bush calls on the nations of the world to join the US in its international war on terrorism but refuses to join that same international community in its war on global warming. The US was conspicuously absent last week as 165 nations agreed to a new version of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. The Bush administration should be humbled by the success of the climate talks, says Corn. “No doubt, the Bush administration had hoped that, with the United States out of the picture, other industrial nations would retreat (“Hey, why should we cut our greenhouse gasses, if America won’t?”) and this would trigger the collapse of the Kyoto process,” Corn says. “Then Bush could say, ‘Told you this was a bad deal, nobody’s sticking with it.’ But the other countries — including European partners in Bush’s anti-terrorism coalition — stayed the course.”

The oiliest administration —
In the first of two articles on the Bush administration’s ties to the energy industry, Damien Cave outlines just how deep the connections with Big Oil run. We all know that Bush comes from an oil family, and that Vice President Dick Cheney was chief of an oil services firm until just before the election. But the connections go farther, extending to dozens of other administration members: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was on the board of Chevron; Commerce Secretary Donald Evans was the CEO of the natural gas firm Tom Brown Inc. “Their friends, finances, and worldviews are all oil-drenched,” writes Cave. “George W.’s ties to oil don’t prove that the industry decides our every foreign policy move. But they do just about guarantee, for all practical purposes, that nothing significant will change in American energy policy.” A great primer for understanding the oily context of current White House policy, both at home and overseas.


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