Bushed: A diary of year one with our unelected president

by Barry Crimmins
Originally published in the Boston Phoenix. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Can it really be a year since we didn’t elect George W. Bush president? Time sure flies when you’re going straight to hell.

Let’s take a look back at our first 12 months with the court-appointed chief executive.

Inspiration from the top: Observations on the president addressing the nation

by John Chuckman
Reprinted from YellowTimes.ORG.

Millions of Americans settle into their couches with bowls of popcorn, bags of potato chips, and diet cola. They enjoy the color pictures on the evening news report of bombs exploding in Afghanistan. Pictures of explosions are always popular in America, no matter what their meaning or origin.

True, news pictures are less impressive than Hollywood special effects, and you generally don't get to see any blood or bodies - that would be unsuitable for a family show - but these pictures have their own thrilling quality, much like those grainy pictures of violent arrests or sting operations photographed with pin-hole cameras that are so popular.

Bush's Whitewater

Appearing before the House Committee on Financial Services, on December 12, Joseph Berardino, chief executive of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that conducted Enron's internal and external audits, said the company had engaged in "possibly illegal acts," and had misled auditors. Berardino's appearance followed Enron's filing for bankruptcy on December 2, after years of being touted as an exemplar of corporate innovation. Berardino did not specify which laws he believed might have been violated. In a related action, the Securities and Exchange Commission went to court to force, Enron's former chief financial officer, Andrew S. Fastow, to testify in an SEC inquiry. Enron has been called "largely responsible for the grooming of George W. Bush as a national figure." Enron is Bush's top career corporate donor, with directors and employees having contributed a total of $550,025 (as of January 5, 2001). Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey, and trade representative, Robert Zoellick, both served on Enron's advisory board prior to their government appointments. W's. association with Enron dates back to his father's administration when he reportedly lobbied on behalf of the firm for a pipeline contract in Argentina.

Karl Rove knows what all divas know

by Bill C. Davis
Reprinted from the Online Journal, with permission.

I wonder why I can't relax? Why can't I allow the virtual reality that is trying to pass itself off as America to have its way with me? The banal tight-lipped experts that clarify the agenda and the hardware—the graffiti on the bombs—the PR romps on the battle ships—the jocular tone during the pentagon briefings—the orchestrated questions—the stroll across the map of Afghanistan with pointers and detached intrigue. There is nothing worth listening to and yet the package is working hard.

Follow the Lumping Sums

On September 26, Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, and Robert E. Rubin, former treasury secretary appeared before a closed door meeting of the Senate Finance committee. Both recommended against trying to use cuts in capital gains tax or corporate income taxes as a way to stimulate the economy. Both recommended that any tax cuts be temporary, targeted at giving consumers and perhaps businesses a quick boost that wouldn't encourage financial markets to raise the long term interest rates that might threaten the government's long-term fiscal health. After the meeting, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and chair of the committee, and Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican committee member said they agreed with the "general framework" outlined by Greenspan and Rubin. Grassley told the New York Times that he had reluctantly concluded it was not the time for a capital gains cut. Administration spokesman Ari Fleischer would concede only that the scope of new tax cuts was "under review" House Republicans, however, including majority leader Dick Armey, insisted that capital gains tax cuts be considered, and that the administration had made a strong case for corporate tax cuts. The bill that, in the Times words, "Republicans muscled ... through the House," reflected Armey's view, and included more than $70 billion in corporate tax cuts this year. The Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan agency that is part of the Library of Congress, reported that seven corporations would receive more than $3.3 billion from the repeal and refunding of the corporate alternative minimum tax, established in 1986.

The Poster Police

A Durham student activist gets a visit from the Secret Service.

by Jon Elliston
A version of this story originally appeared in The Independent newsweekly on November 21, 2001. Reprinted with permission.

A.J. Brown, a 19-year-old freshman at Durham Tech, was thanking God it was Friday. It was 5 p.m., the school week was over, and in an hour she'd be meeting her boyfriend to unwind.

The Recount

It will come as no surprise to readers of The Dubya Report that a statewide recount of ballots cast in the 2000 presidential election, using what a majority of Florida counties said they would use as a standard of voter intent, would have given Al Gore a majority. This is one of the conclusions reached by the massive analysis of Florida ballots conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University Chicago. The study, whose results were released November 11, was funded by a consortium of U.S.

Finally, an Airport Security Bill

On October 11 the Senate unanimously passed legislation drafted by Senators Ernest Hollings, D-S.C. and John McCain, R-Ariz. that would place baggage- and passenger-screeners at major U.S. airports under federal authority and make them government employees. Since the House version of the bill sponsored by Reps. Bob Andrews, D-N.J. and Greg Ganske, R-Iowa was supported by all but three Democrats, as well as 15 Republicans, it seemed headed for quick passage. But despite polls indicating overwhelming public support for federalizing airport security workers, John Feehery, spokesman for Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, vowed that the bill, would be consigned to a "slow track." True to Feehery's promise, Republicans delayed a vote until October 29, and then until the 31st, then November 1, and finally to the evening of the 1st -- all while they rallied votes for a competing measure sponsored by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. The Young bill only federalized 25% of airport security personnel, and made airport security a responsibility of the patronage-prone Department of Transportation, while Ganske-Andrews gave it to the Justice Department. It was the Young bill that finally passed the House, by a vote of 286-139. A so-called conference committee with representation from the Senate and the House eventually resolved differences between the two measures, and legislation very similar to the Senate bill passed the House on November 16 by a vote of 410 - 9.

Texas Connections

Senator Phil Gramm has lent his imprimatur to two notable initiatives in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks. Last year as chairman of the Senate Banking committee, Gramm stopped a Clinton administration proposal that would have made it easier for investigators to follow the flow of terrorist money; and last week he apparently nearly prevented $20 billion in disaster aid to New York City from being included in an emergency appropriation bill. Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reported that the Osama bin Laden's family was among the investors in one or more funds operated by The Carlyle Group, a Washington, DC merchant bank that has George Bush Sr. on its payroll, and of which W. himself was a director from 1990 to 1994.

Opening Salvo in Coherence Initiative Sputters

On November 2 the New York Times reported on White House plans to "counteract what what some administration officials say has been a muddled effort to project a coherent, convincing message to Americans about the war in Afghanistan and their safety at home." The proposed solution: several "major" speeches from the cheerleader in chief. The prime-time television address to the nation Thursday night was apparently the big gun in this effort. Unfortunately three of the four major television networks chose not to relinquish prime time during the November ratings sweeps, handing a significant setback to what the Washington Post called "Operation Enduring Free Time." Having no new information or assurances to offer, in a triumph of tautology Bush's handlers evidently decided that the way to achieve a coherent message was by repeating statements that had already been made.


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