Dick and ‘cousin’ Barack

Vice President Dick Cheney said Friday he hasn’t reached out to “Cousin Barack” Obama since reports that the two share a distant relatives.

In an interview for CNBC’s “Kudlow & Company,” Cheney was asked whether he and Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate, have discussed their ancestral link.

“Cousin Barack?” Cheney said. “No, we haven’t — haven’t had the opportunity to talk about it.”

Lynne Cheney, the vice president’s wife, told MSNBC last week she uncovered the long-ago ties between the two while researching her ancestry for her latest book, “Blue Skies, No Fences.”

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More of the same

In a major address at the State Department, President Bush announced that U.S. policy toward Cuba will remain the same, only more so. Thus another opportunity for fresh thinking by the 10th American president to deal with Fidel Castro slides by.

The United States has had sanctions and an embargo on Cuba in place since 1961. Occasionally those restrictions are tweaked. But despite their proven ineffectiveness, they remain in place, more out of political inertia than any hope they might actually work.

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Has Dubya learned his lesson?

US President George W. Bush on Wednesday showcased his role in helping California fight devastating wildfires, eager to prove he learned the grim lessons of the botched response to Hurricane Katrina.

Bush, his presidency forever marked by Washington’s sluggish reaction to the killer 2005 storm, freed up more government aid for the victims of the fires and said he hoped they understood he was doing his utmost to help.

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Another ‘Katrina’ for Bush?

Hurricane Katrina has many legacies for the Bush White House, none pleasant. One is the guarantee that as soon as disaster strikes in the United States, President Bush’s every move is closely scrutinized to gauge the speed and tone of his response to the suffering.

This became clear yet again on Tuesday, as the enormity of the wildfires sweeping across Southern California became apparent.

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War on the installment plan

Betting that congressional Democrats’ opposition to the Iraq war will remain ineffectual, President Bush has asked for another $46 billion to continue fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That brings the total amount he has asked for this fiscal year, which is barely 3 weeks old, to over $196 billion. If this funding goes through, the United States will have spent over $800 billion on the wars since 2001, most of it carried off budget.

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Bush’s out-of-control war

The cost of President George W. Bush’s illegal and immoral war in Iraq — in both dollars and American lives — continues to spiral out of control.

Bush not only wants to send more and more Americans into harm’s way in his war. He wants to spend more and more money to fund his failing efforts.

All this comes when polls show more and more Americans not only want the soldiers home but want spending in the Iraq debacle reduced and the hemorrhaging economy brought under control.

But Bush has a habit of getting what he wants and the timid Democratic Congress appears powerless to stop him.

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Another Bush legacy in jeopardy

President Bush had hoped to leave behind a nuclear cooperation deal with India that would be a legacy foreign policy and energy achievement. But for reasons beyond Bush administration control, the deal is in danger of unraveling.

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Rice covers up ‘endemic corruption’

Four powerful Democratic lawmakers on Friday warned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that “endemic corruption” in Iraq was fueling the insurgency, and accused her department of covering it up.

The House of Representatives committee chairmen also accused US officials of refusing to answer questions on corruption in Iraq, and complained the department had reclassified data on the issue after it had been released.

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Bush demands power to spy at will

President George W. Bush on Wednesday warned the Democratic-led Congress not to “weaken” the power of US spy agencies to eavesdrop on communications between alleged terror suspects.

But the House of Representatives’ judiciary and intelligence committees both defied the president and approved a new bid by Democrats to revise a law extending authorization for warrantless wiretaps.

The new measure would revise the “Protect America Act” hastily passed under fierce pressure from Bush and the intelligence community before Congress broke up for its summer recess in August.

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