White House

A fresh start

Perhaps not since Watergate, when one former attorney general was headed to jail and another to a perjury conviction, has anyone taken over the Justice Department under more difficult circumstances.

As if to reinforce the impression that he is truly in charge, Michael Mukasey was sworn in as attorney general twice, privately last Friday and ceremonially Wednesday, with President Bush avowing that the former judge “has my complete trust and confidence.”

Still swinging

As America’s ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton was the White House’s most effective defender. Now, as an ex-diplomat, he has become among the administration’s toughest critics. But he critiques from the right, not the left, which probably explains why the elite media are not eager to focus on what he has to say.

Bush vetoes health ed bill

President Bush, escalating his budget battle with Congress, on Tuesday vetoed a spending measure for health and education programs prized by congressional Democrats.

He also signed a big increase in the Pentagon’s non-war budget although the White House complained it contained “some unnecessary spending.”

The president’s action was announced on Air Force One as Bush flew to New Albany, Ind., on the Ohio River across from Louisville, Ky., for a speech criticizing the Democratic-led Congress on its budget priorities.

Judge to White House: Save emails

A federal judge ordered the White House to preserve copies of all its e-mails, a move that Bush administration lawyers had argued strongly against.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy on Monday directed the Executive Office of the President to safeguard the material in response to two lawsuits that seek to determine whether the White House has destroyed e-mails in violation of federal law.

Bush insults vets on Veterans Day

President George W. Bush snubbed America’s 20 million veterans Sunday, hiding out at his Texas ranch on yet another vacation while sending Vice President Dick Cheney, a draft-dodger during the Vietnam War, to Arlington National Cometary for Veterans Day ceremonies.

Bush, who has spent more time on “vacation” than any President in history, made a brief trip to a local American Legion Hall near his Crawford, Texas, ranch for a ceremony honoring four Lone Star vets who have died in Iraq but skipped the traditional Presidential appearance at Arlington.

Big Brother Bush is always watching

Privacy is under assault in America and the government is leading the charge.

Like personal liberties that disappeared under the despotic Presidency of George W. Bush, privacy is becoming an extinct species as the government seeks to monitor all financial transactions, travel and communications of Americans.

Now the Bush Administration wants to “redefine” privacy to fit its assault on the personal freedoms and civil liberties of American citizens.

By the time Bush is finished, the preamble to that historic document that once defined this nation will have to be changed to say that Americans are entitled to “a monitored life, a government-mandated notion of happiness and the terror of pursuit.”

Will Bush ever call Musharraf?

President George W. Bush has not telephoned Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf since he imposed emergency rule and cracked down on protesters in a crisis that the White House on Tuesday called a “mistake.”

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino also described the situation in Pakistan as a setback and a crisis in its “early days,” and said it was premature to call Musharraf a dictator.

Mukasey’s mistake

Former federal judge Michael Mukasey will certainly be confirmed as U.S. attorney general, but the Senate Judiciary Committee’s 11-8 approval of this otherwise qualified candidate was closer than it should have been.

Mukasey’s misstep was to appear to denounce torture without exception on the first day of his hearings and then come back the next and appear to waffle on a particular form of brutal interrogation — waterboarding — that the White House finds acceptable but many others consider to clearly be torture.

Rice must testify in Israel spy case

A judge ruled Friday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley can be subpoenaed to testify in a sensitive spying case that has focused attention on pro-Israel lobbying in the United States.

Federal court judge T.S. Ellis ruled to allow the request by lawyers for Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, former employees of the influential pro-Israel lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to subpoena Rice, Hadley and 13 other current and former top government officials to testify in the case, according to court documents.

When in doubt, Bash Congress

President Bush’s agenda these days is not subtle: Blast Democratic lawmakers for ineptitude. Then find a way to do it again.

Even with the factors working against him — record-low approval ratings, fading public attention and dwindling time in office — Bush still talks like a leader whose hand has never been stronger. Backed by a veto power that’s hard to override, Bush has taken to blistering Congress in a remarkably relentless fashion.