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GUV DEFINES "REAL" CAMPAIGN NEWS: HE'S COLLECTED $6 MILLION. Discounting his recent support of corporate welfare, prayer in public schools, and educational vouchers, as well as his attacks on hate crime bills, gay rights, and environmental protections, not to mention his opposition to meaningful increases in teacher pay and children's medical insurance, George believes "the first bit of real news there is in (the) campaign" is that he has been able to garner six big un's after only a month of collecting. At the heart of the Bush money gathering campaign is "years of political groundwork by his father" and a list of nearly 90,000 folks who gave to his two campaigns for governor. At this rate he should reach his goal of over $50 million far in advance of the Y2K election, allowing him to ignore federal funding as well as the rules that such funding brings. Like his protracted decision to run, Dubya says he needs a lot of time to make up his mind about accepting federal funds, allowing him to break the news slowly and to prevent his GOP rivals from accusing him of buying the election. 3/31/99
WOLFMAN AGAIN: THE BUSH STORY THAT KEEPS ON TICKING. Last Friday we reported that Tim Fleck of the Houston Press checked out the 1/1/67 issue of the >Houston Chronicle and found an engagement notice reporting the plans of Yale junior George and Rice junior Cathryn Lee Wolfman to wed. That liason never reached the altar. Fleck reported "speculation that the Bush family broke up the 1967 engagement because the prospective bride had a Jewish background." Yesterday, the Stateman's Michael Corcoran followed up on the story: "According to the Houston Press, certain inquiring minds in the media are scurrying to find Wolfman (since married and moved out of state) and perhaps have jumped to the conclusion that, given her last name and her father's prominence in the garment industry (he owned Wolfman's clothing store in Houston), the Bush-Wolfman marriage was halted because of the bride-to-be's Jewish background." Corcoran reports that when Guv-spinner Karen Hughes mentioned the rumors to Bush, "he looked at me with a quizzical face and said, 'But she's Episcopalian.' " A check with Tim Fleck elicited this response: "The father was definitely Jewish, though not orthodox, and the daughter could very well have shed the religion and been known as a protestant in her social circle." 3/31/99 UPDATE. It turns out that Mr. Wolfman is Cathryn Lee Wolfman's step-father. See 4/1/99 update.
HOUSTON, DALLAS, FORT WORTH SMOG VIOLATES NATIONAL HEALTH STANDARDS AS BUSH ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM PROVES INEFFECTUAL. "The much-touted program that invites some of Texas’ biggest air polluters to voluntarily install modern pollution controls on their filthy old “grandfathered” industrial plants" is just hot air, says Lobby Watch, because it "suffers from an appalling lack of accountability." Texas Observer says the new Bush bill presently being considered, H.B. 2504, "is a reward to polluters, a disaster for the environment, an insult to the citizens, and a disgrace to the Governor and the Legislature. (4/2/99) 3/30/99
AL GORE ADMITS TO USING POT IN EARLY '70'S, GEORGE REFUSES TO SAY, CLASSMATE SAYS, "IF HE DIDN'T...THEN HE WASN'T ALIVE." A 1970 National Guard news releases is quoted as saying, "''George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed." Why can't the Guv be as equally forthright? Instead, we are given , ''I choose not to detail the mistakes I made (because such questions are) never ending." Guess what? With such answers, the questions will be never ending. Reporters ask, "What's he really hiding?" 3/29/99
WHILE GORE IS THE BEST CANDIDATE, DUBYA'S KARL ROVE IS THE BEST STAFF, SAYS CLINTON ADVISOR. "Those who know him say he operates on a few key rules. Know your client and choose a format that works to his or her benefit. Develop three or four central ideas that define your campaign (jobs, education, smaller government) and stick to them. Most important: Use humor to deliver your points. Reporters may remember what you said, but the voting public will remember how you said it....This folksy style also comes out in Bush's relations with the press. Under Rove's hand, Bush rarely gives interviews, but the governor has been known to call up Texas reporters at odd hours of the day to shoot the breeze, often about baseball. In practice, this gives reporters little time or inclination to ask hardball political questions." 3/29/99
STAGE FRIGHT? DUBYA AVOIDS REPORTERS FOR 24 HOURS WHEN KOSOVO BOMBING STARTS. When the bombing of Kosovo started last Wednesday, the Guv was finishing up one of his morning/lunch meetings with visitors. After lunch he usually meets with reporters to make announcements and answer questions. Instead, he went out the back door and jogged around town lake. He made himself scarce the rest of the day and the only news the reporters got was a handout from his office wishing for the troops' " safe and speedy return." That evening, reporters attempted to question Dubya at a ribbon-cutting ceremoney in Grapvine. He said, "'I hope the men and women come back safely,'...before hustling to a waiting car." By that time, Dole, Buchanan, and all the usual suspects had "taken to the airwaves and their websites to offer their opinions on the NATO effort." What happened to George? He froze. His advisers "wanted to make sure Bush was as informed as possible before offering his views on a delicate and complicated situation," an aide was quoted as saying. Uh huh. "In between (his first noncommittal statement) and his regular duties Bush was fielding advice from policy advisers," Condoleezza Rice and Josh Bolten. Under increasing pressure from reporters, a press conference was finally held Thursday afternoon. The Guv then said he did not have access to the President's military and political intelligence, but he felt we had to carry through with our threats and he hoped we have "an achievable goal and a credible exit strategy." Unfortunately, this 24 hour episode leaves one with a picture of Bush as a political figurehead, a marketing product who must await the words of others prior to taking a position on a national event that was far from unexpected. (AAS 3/26) 3/28/99
BARRON'S KOSOVO FOR DUMMIES. (No link, 3/28.) Since George undoubtedly filters much of his world news through financial source material, what better place for a quick and dirty overview of the problems in Kosovo than from Barron's Alan Abelson. Perhaps G. W. could have used this information prior to Thursday's news conference: "The reason for the attack...is a nasty piece of work named Slobodan ("Slob" to his intimates) Milosevic, Serbia's big cheese, who has been beating up on his country's Albanian minority (but a majority in the Serbian province of Kosovo). The bombing is aimed at forcing Mr. Milosevic to make nice so the Serbs and Albanians can live together happily ever after....Virtual unanimity among "experts" that air strikes alone won't do the trick is a powerful argument that they might.... We can only hope that the country that produced the Yugo is just as inept at armaments as it was at autos....As to the investment impact of the attack on the Serbs,...war is undeniably hell, but it can provide a shot in the arm for share prices." 3/28/99
BUSH CATCH-22 THINKING INDICATES BOTH LEADERSHIP FAILURE AND INTELLECTUAL LIMITATI0NS Last week our George said, "It's against the law in the state today for unmarried couples to adopt children." The next day his spinner said, "Texas law already forbids gay couples from adopting children." If either, both, any, or some of these two statements is correct, why has the Guv allowed a high-profile state agency, Child Protective Services, to break state law in publicized cases over and over again for years without being called on it. After all, as the state's major officer, Bush has a legal, moral, and ethical obligation to make sure state laws are being upheld. He publicly informs us that a law is being broken; yet, he allows the breaking of the law to continue. At the very least, this constitutes a lack of leadership on his part.
State "child welfare officials say they screen prospective adoptive or foster parents by checking for criminal records and past incidents of child abuse, as well as by evaluating the home environment. Preference is given to married couples if all else is equal, officials said. 'We will find out if a person is gay, but it doesn't disqualify them if they are,' said Marla Sheely, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services in Austin....The state does not keep track of how many (children) go to gay or lesbian households, officials said. An analysis in January 1998 found that about 70 percent of foster children were placed with married couples." This is where Guv-Dub's catch-22 thinking comes in.
" Rep. Robert. Talton, R-Pasadena, whose House Bill 415 would require children to be removed from foster homes in which parents are found to be lesbian, gay or bisexual, "said he can't understand why the state would even consider putting a child in a gay household when sodomy is against state law." The state's sodomy law, never used to convict anyone of anything in a court of law because it is considered to be unconstitutional, is often used to "prove" the correctness of some circular argument. Understandably, those who invoke the state law are unwilling to test its constitutionality. In this case, Bush is against gay adoption because it is against the law, but he encourages a bill that will make it against the law for a gay couple to adopt. By doing so, he is demonstrating a limited intelligence with respect to using rules of logic, or, even worse, he is allowing us to see that he is willing to appeal to Theocratic bigotry when it's to his political advantage. What would that make him? 3/28/99
BOSTON REPORTER BELIEVES TIMES SHOULD NOT HAVE APOLOGIZED FOR BUSH'S INTELLECTUAL LIMITATIONS. "Referring to a March 15 article about a series of private tutorials being arranged for Texas governor George W. Bush to get him up to speed on presidential issues, the (New York Times) note stated: 'As published, the article included an opinionated sentence casting doubt on his mastery of those issues.'" Dan Kennedy finds the retraction "strange, given that the rest of the article made it clear that Bush does, in fact, need the sessions at least as badly as his rival Dan Quayle needs a spelling coach." 3/27/99
DUBYA'S MONEY GATHERING CAMPAIGN MACHINE HITS HOUSTON POTHOLE FIRST TIME ON THE ROAD. "The governor has launched a substantial nationwide mailing and there is a lot of friend-to-friend fund raising going on," a Bush committee spokeswoman recently told an AP reporter. Although George has pledged that he won't campaign for cash until after the present session of the Texas lege, we're told "he has many surrogates" who will do the job for him. One such surrogate is Laura S. Rowe, who identifies herself as haveing an "association" with George's brother Neil and as being "state co-chair of the Bush Exploratory Committee Inc." The problem is she's raising money for the Bush "presidential bid out of the office of a nonprofit kids' charity in Houston,...seem(ing) blissfully unaware that federal tax law prohibits charitable nonprofits from engaging in partisan political activities and that use of a charity's assets in a political campaign could endanger its tax-exempt status....Several Houston political consultants reacted with gales of laughter when told about Rowe's use of a charity's phone and office as the checkpoint for a presidential fund-raising effort. 'Is she felony stupid or what?' asked one." 3/27/99
MEET THE BIG BUCKS BUDS BEHIND BUSH. When it comes to money, George's $15-20 million net worth is small potatoes next to this trinity of economic conservatives who helped to get him where he is today and hope that he remembers them in the future.
Richard Rainwater. An invester in everything from gambling casinos to property holdings to the Texas Rangers, and a major contributer to the Bush '98 campaign. If there's one man other than Dad who is responsible for the Guv's millions, it's Rainwater, who has made handsome profits by having "state buildings sold to his real estate company at bargain basement rates" while G. W. sat in the Texas governor's office during his first term, allowing the Dallas invester to try to turn a profit on holdings in Dubya's blind trust.
Tom Hicks. This investment banker to whom Bush and Rainwater sold the Texas Rangers owns a vast sports and media empire and was George's biggest '98 campaign contributor. Bush has allowed him to head up a committee charged with "investing $1.7 billion of public university money in the form of investments in private companies." Unfortunately, questions have recently been asked because "almost a third of the $1.7 billion has been committed to funds run by Hicks' business associates or friends (and).... five funds run by major Republican political donors." These questions have remained unanswered and Hicks has been unwilling to answer questions about his activities on the public's behalf.. "In the past three years, state auditors have criticized the secretive nature of (the Hicks committee's) investment decisions and have complained about the potential for conflicts of interest for board members."
James Leininger. Worth an estimated $300 million and a major Bush '98 campaign contributer, this Theocrat is in the process of creating a political, Eagle Forum-type litmus test for future Texas state employees and a state-wide TV news network to disseminate his views, adding them to such projects as a direct mail/political consulting organization and a bewildering number of PAC's that start up and close down "after a year." He's an "active funder and player in right-wing causes including school vouchers, home schooling, anti-abortion, tort reform, anti-gay rights, anti-unionism, anti-environmental efforts, a right-wing Texas think tank modeled on the Heritage Foundation, and Republican political candidates." During the '98 election he donated $549,749 to Bush, Perry, and other GOP candidates in addition to a Perry loan of $1.1. million, according to figures compiled by an ed voucher watchdog group. (DMN 3/26) 3/26/99
HOUSTON PRESS NAMES BUSH'S '67 MYSTERY FIANCEE: RICE JUNIOR CATHRYN LEE WOLFMAN. "The date is January 1, 1967, and the picture and engagement notice in the Houston Chronicle trumpet the engagement of future Texas governor George W. Bush and the daughter of a Jewish father from the Bushes' Tanglewood 'hood." 3/26/99
BUSH PLANS TO RAID TEXAS WORKERS' FUND TO PAY FOR PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATIONS. It's no secret that Dubya wants to create a legislative record during this session that he can brag about on the presidential trail, but he's hit a roadblock because he's overestimated the money the state has for his programs and the willingness of the legislature to give him the money that's available. His tax cuts and spending proposals are in trouble, so George is looking for more money to finance them, and he's turned to the Texas Workers' Compensation Fund. Bush wants to move half of the $800 million in the fund to the state's general fund. "Rep. Kevin Bailey, D-Houston, said moving the excess money to the general fund 'sounds like the same scam that was run on (the) Social Security (trust funds) in Congress.'.... Bailey said if there is extra money in the Workers' Compensation Fund, employers should be offered lower rates or injured workers should get increased benefits. 'That's really a ridiculous proposal,' he said of moving the money to the general fund. 'It's plain wrong to take money that should go to workers.' " 3/25/99
IF TEXAS LEGE "MEMBERS WERE SENT TO THE STATE CAPITOL BY GOD," GOD HAS A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR, IMPLIES MOLLY.
"In the not-so-bright category we find Sen. Drew Nixon of Carthage, whose previous record -- including his conviction for soliciting a prostitute -- does not inspire great expectations.... (He) was in his usual form on the hate crimes bill; he told Sen Rodney Ellis that he couldn't support a hate crimes bill that included 'sinners,' meaning gays. Ellis looked at him in stupefaction and said: 'You're so holy. You are really holy, all right.' Nixon didn't get it."
"And congratulations to Rep. Robert Talton, who is sponsoring a bill that would require the state to remove children from the homes of any foster parent who is found to be gay. Talton was apparently unaware that straight people might object to such a bill, so when he sighted a shorthaired female minister, wearing her collar and all, waiting in line to lobby him on it, he pointed at her and said, 'I don't like you, and I don't like your kind.' The minister, who had come to lobby along with her husband, looked at him in confusion and said, 'Presbyterians?' " 3/25/00
NATIONAL MEDIA PERCEPTION OF BUSH AS LACKING IN KNOWLEDGE DEMONSTRATED BY HIS RECENT STATEMENTS. Last week when Politex wrote a story about a steady stream of advisers coming to Austin to give three hour seminars for George's benefit, this sentence from a New York Times piece was skipped over, being considered old news: "There may never have been a `serious' candidate who needed it more." This weekend the Times retracted the statement, calling it an editor's opinion that should not have been printed. Could have fooled me. "While the incident may have been embarrassing for the Times, it also underscored a perception, privately being whispered among some in the national media, that Bush may not be ready for prime time." One non-Texas observer said "the national media's view of Bush may be different from that of the Texas press because they have not closely observed his six years as governor." Not so.
The Guv demonstrates his lack of knowledge on the state level quite regularly, most recently this past Monday. Local TV station KEYE quoted Dubya as saying, "I think adoptions ought to be between a married man and woman. It's against the law in the state today for unmarried couples to adopt children." George needs to consult with an attorney. Yesterday, a spokesspinner significantly re-worded the Guv's assertion : "Texas law already forbids gay couples from adopting children." It remains to be seen if this re-wording is factual, let alone indicative of state adoption policy. If the spinner's statement were so, what would be the purpose of proposed House bill 382, which Bush is backing? This bill assumes no such law exists. (See next story below.) Similarly, Guv-Dub's lack of knowledge about the nature of hate crimes has earned him negative words from the victims. Matthew Shepard's mother has called Bush's position "indefensible," James Byrd, Jr.'s sister said she was "disappointed" in him, and Dianne Hardy Garcia, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, calls the Bush statement "a kinder and gentler form of bigotry." (DMN 3/24) In the Capitol, Texas state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, the sponsor of the hate crimes measure, predicted, "I don't think he has the guts to veto it." Unfortunately, while Bush has been quite willing to tell us about his "guts" in the past, it's knowledge that he lacks. 3/24/99
BUSH REFUSES TO DEFEND LEGAL PARENTAL RIGHTS. ALSO GOES ON RECORD AGAINST GAY ADOPTIONS. "At a news conference Monday, Mr. Bush was asked whether children already in the custody of gays or lesbians should be removed. 'I have no idea whether the children ought to be removed or not removed,' he said." House Bill 415, sponsored by Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, would do just that, requiring children to be removed from foster homes in which parents are found to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. Also, Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who does not live in a part of Texas noted for the size of its gay population, is sponsoring House Bill 382 to prevent lesbians and gays from adopting children in state custody or becoming their foster parents. With respect to a question about that bill, Bush said, "I'm against gay adoptions. I believe children ought to be adopted in families with a woman and a man who are married." 3/23/99
GUV-DUB SUPPORTS HOUSE VOUCHER PROPONENTS. WHO ARE THEY? 9 out of 10 "House voucher supporters voted against constitutionally guaranteeing 'an equitable system of school funding,' and nixed a ban on hiring uncertified and untrained teachers." 8 out of 10 "opposed limiting class sizes in grades K through 4 and favored a measure that would allow discrimination in private school admissions policies," according to a study conducted by the Intercultural Development Research Association. 3/23/99
BUSH STRONGLY DISLIKES HATE CRIME BILLS BUT SAYS HE DOESN'T WANT GAYS INCLUDED EVEN IF HE DIDN'T At a news conference yesterday, "Bush declined to say whether he would veto any hate crime bill that emerges from the Legislature. 'I'll take a look at the bill,'he said. 'But how do you determine hate? Somebody has to explain that to me. . . . But most crime is caused because somebody hates somebody.'" Although he gave no explanation for his position, he also said "he does not believe that pending hate crime legislation should include provisions regarding anti-gay offenses." 3/23/99
WHEN THE MAN WITH THE PLAN WORKS FOR THE GUV WITH THE SHOVE, SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE. The man is Karl Rove, student of Lee "Dirty Tricks" Atwater and George's political strategist since his first gubernatorial run in '94. Dubya wasn't governor when he was called to Dad's White House in '91 to shove Sununu out of his post as White House Chief of Staff and keep an eye on Dad's political adviser and loose cannon Atwater, who, in his personal life, apparently was able to put Clinton's Dick Morris to shame in some respects. Political strategists have a long and romantic history in Western thought. Think of Iago and the narrator-observer in All the King's Men. Writings about the man behind the throne go back at least as far as Machiavelli in the 16th century who wrote The Prince to explain to the ruler du jour what kinds of dirty tricks are needed in order to keep the throne. That book is Karl Rove's favorite, according to Wayne Slattery in Sunday's DMN. Further, "when a reporter for the conservative National Review magazine wanted to know what thinkers had shaped Mr. Bush's philosophy, Mr. Rove suggested a heady canon: Myron Magnet's The Dream and the Nightmare, Gertrude Himmelfarb's The Demoralization of Society, James Q. Wilson's On Character and others" What Rove should have said is he shaped Dubya's philosophy, and these are the books Rove read. Politex recalls that when George, himself, was asked during a recent C-Span interview for a list of books that influenced him, he waffled and talked about an undergraduate history course he took and a book about floods in Mississppi, but he couldn't remember the title.
The problem with the Bush/Rove relationship is that you have two men who are long-time on-again-off-again associates of over 25 years who seem to need each other, but are not as comfortable with each other as the spinners would have us believe. George likes to give nicknames to members of his family and his close associates. For example, Laura is "Bushie" and Rick Perry is "Mad Dog." Rove is "turd." He's "a practitioner of take-no-prisoners politics whose candidate preaches moderation, inclusiveness and compassionate conservatism." Conflicts are built into that scenario. Unlike George, Rove is a hyper-energetic guy who lives politics. He's been described as "a mainframe computer living in a human body." That's not George. Rove's a bright guy, a brilliant strategist, and a player of dirty tricks, at least during his "irresponsible youth." Ever hear that phrase before? Not only has Rove been said to have taught Republican groups the "how to" of dirty tricks, he's admitted to trying out some, himself, but only when he was young, reports Slattery. Although the Bush camp wants to appear as being on the high road of politics, at least we know where George's explanation for his private life exploits came from. Rove, however, is still a loose cannon, to some extent. During and after the gubernatorial campaign, reporters learned that he was capable of giving them provocative quotes about Bush's political circumstances weeks, if not months, ahead of the official word, leaving spinner Karen Hughes to paper it over. This is bound to have created some tension in the Bush camp. Slattery reports that when Bush finished a press conference recently and reporters were still clustered around Rove a short distance away, Bush grew "slightly irritated" and Rove "blanched" and "fled the circle of reporters and followed the Republican governor back into the mansion."
But the problem between Bush and Rove runs deeper than a battle of egos for media attention. Unlike George Stephanopoulos with his TV personality and his book on life with Clinton, Rove has not been willing to wait to earn the big bucks by betting on George going all the way and collecting afterwards. During this past gubernatorial campaign, $2.8 of the 14.3 million spent by Bush went into the coffers of Rove's political consulting/direct mail conglomerate. To go back a bit, Rove was running his consulting company at the same time George was building a baseball stadium for his Texas Rangers. Early last year Bush sold his interest in the Texas Rangers, but Rove hedged his bets and tried to hold onto his very profitable political base: "Among current GOP officeholders, he counted as clients the governor, attorney general, a Railroad Commission member, the agriculture commissioner, several members of the Texas Supreme Court and a number of state senators." (AAS 3/9/99) Earlier this month Rove sold most of his consulting conglomerate. While directing a candidate and running a consulting firm hired by that candidate might have made some campaign investers uncomfortable, the more likely reason for Rove's sale of his firm was that Bush demanded a form of obeisance from his political adviser. Since Dad's experiences during the second presidential campaign, a show of loyality is an absoulute necessity for George. Rove has expressed his act of obesiance in a less sanguine light: "Bush doesn't want my focus diluted. If he's going to make the run, he'd like to have me available." Right now, "Karl Rove is the one indispensable component in Governor Bush's team. You need a talented cast, but there has to be a single dominant force at the staff level - and that's clearly Karl Rove." But one suspects that, like James Carville in the Clinton administration, if Bush were to go all the way, Rove's negatives would become more unacceptable and he wouldn't be around long enough to write that White House book. After all, Junior had to look after and try to keep a lid on Lee Atwater as a favor to dad, and he doesn't want to do that again. 3/22/99
"CROTCHETY" CATO INSTITUTE LIBERTARIAN EXPLAINS WHY HE IS NOT A "COMCON.""The combination of compassion and conservatism in government quite frankly frightens me. When I hear the term compassionate conservative, I think of a melding together of the worst ideas of the right and the left -- of Jesse Helms and Jane Fonda lying down together. It is not a pretty picture." 3/21/99
AN OPEN LETTER TO STATESMAN REPORTER KEN HERMAN. Isn't your report of an accusation of Bush backers stuffing cyber ballot box polls in today's Statesman a case of the pot reporting that the kettle may be black? You wrote, "Bush backers were accused of not playing by the one-visit, one-vote rules set by the operators of (an) online poll entitled Elections USA. 'The amount of cheating that has been going on is simply unbelievable,' said a note posted on the site last week when the poll was suspended." On 3/2/99 I wrote to your Statesman Editor Rich Oppel and cc'ed you about possible ballot stuffing on your own site. I quoted one person on a Bush site bragging that he voted for Bush 30 times on the Austin 360 site and exhorted all Bushies to visit.
I would imagine you've since addressed your own ballot stuffing problem, be it actual or perceptual, or you wouldn't allow your piece on ballot stuffing to be placed right next to a Bush presidential poll that is suspect, would you? That would be pretty embarrassing for a reporter, particularly since your possible ballot stuffing problem was called to your attention on 3/2/99.You could go to http://www.austin360.com/news/features/national/0320bush.html right now and check out the poll for yourself, then you could e-mail me and set my mind at ease. Perhaps since 3/2/99 your ballot stuffing problem has been fixed by adding a cookie, perhaps it has yet to be fixed, leaving one to wonder why, or perhaps the 360 Poll I'm presently looking at will be removed from the page with your story on it out of embarrassment before you get to it. At any rate, I'd very much appreciate a reply, one way or the other. 3/20/99
SMOKEY CITY SCRIBE ON MAGAZINE BEAT REGALES READERS WITH EASTERN WIT ABOUT BUSH. G.W. magazine news of the past week or so was filtered through the mind of gadfly Bill Steigerwald in his Thursday Post-Gazette column. He tells us Fortune "declares Texas is riding tall and proud in the saddle again, now that its economy is diversified and no longer dependent on its two traditional industries, oil and capital punishment." Actually, Bill, Dubya has been overseeing quite a few executions lately. Steigerwald calls the Guv's profile a "scouting report on Bush, the Sequel: 53, Ivy League-educated but a Texan to his boots, he's 'more passionate, more spiritual, more substantive' than his father, but then so is Dana Carvey." The Pittsburgh pundit goes on to imply that if we're dense enough to believe the spinners, G-Dub is a slam dunk: "No need to put the country through the coming electoral hoohah. All the political experts on CNBC/MSNBC/CNN/HGTV say Bush is a lock to take his party's nomination, beat the bark off Al Gore and deliver his inauguration speech about what it means to be a "compassionate conservative" in fluent Español." 3/20/99
WALK-IN'S FOR BUSH: NANCY HAD HER PSYCHIC, NOW GEORGE HAS A SLEW OF 'EM. (Second section.) Pundits say Dubya wants to be like Ronnie, but isn't this taking things a bit far? Yesterday Politex learned that a group of psychics and their followers consider our own G.W. to be a possible "walk-in," and that will be very important sometime between 2000 and 2012 when the polar shift occurs and 25% of the world's population is destroyed. According to Liz Nelson, editor of the "Walk-in's for Evolution" newsletter, a walk-in "is a soul who is invited to complete a life in progress by a soul who wants out or is simply done with the life. The exchange is always for a specific service to humanity and is never forced." There are 5 kinds of walk-in's, and George might be a "Hierarichial," or perhaps even from an "Interplanatary Alliance." The walk-in movement traces its roots back to the mid-60's when Washington, D.C. political reporter Ruth Montgomery gave up her syndicated column, moved to Mexico, and "channeled" her dozen "best-selling" books that earned her an international following. When Montgomery has a question, she types it out and her "psychic guides" provide a typewritten answer. The anonymous narrator of the web page that nominated Bush for the walk-in president who would guide the people through the pain and suffering of the polar shift is also a psychic typist who, along with input from Montgomery, decided that the Guv was the man for their plan. What these poli-psychics appear to find particularly gratifying about their method of presidential selection is " that it requires no previous knowledge base or logic chain." 3/19/99
DUBYA SIGNS EMERGENCY BOLL WEEVIL ERADICATION BILL, DOES NOTHING ABOUT HIS OWN POLL WEASLES. (Also, AAS 3/19, 3rd item.) George managed to squeeze out a tardy and reduced property tax/education bill proposal yesterday, and his main man on the Senate floor called it a "work in progress," meaning he understands it will be carved, skewered, and reduced even more before it ends up passing both houses and getting the Guv's John Hancock. Then it will be up to G-Dub's campaign spinners to make a cloth wallet out of a pig's bladder. Part of the plan is to have the lawmakers abdicate responsibility for giving the teachers a pay raise and turning the whole matter over to the voters in a complicated scheme that could involve the U.S. Supreme Court if the voters say yes. "The pay-raise plan stinks," said Annette Cootes of the Texas State Teachers Association. "There shouldn't have to be an election for teachers to get a pay raise." As for the property tax cut, don't ask. It's down from $2 billion to $1.3 billion and falling. We'll have more on this in the next few days, but the bottom line is there is a state deficit, not a state surplus. "It is not as much as some people were promising during the campaigns, but I'm sure that everybody understands that that's not possible," Sen Ratliff was quoted as saying, which is weasel-speak for, "You really didn't believe Bush's campaign speeches, did you?" 3/19/99
CAPITOL PLAYER BELIEVES GEORGE HAS SACRIFICED NEEDS OF CHILDREN FOR PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS. "The Children's Health Insurance Program may be limited to pre-teen children so that young girls wouldn't be eligible for family planning assistance and that the Governor's opponents could not use that in the primary states. The Hate Crimes bill that got out of the House Committee this week would cover sexual orientation and some are already warning that the Republicans will block this bill so that its passage would not embarrass the Governor. The Social Promotion limits bill was changed to get Democratic votes so that the Governor could claim it in his campaign," says George Strong. 3/18/99
Q: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SCHOLARSHIPS, VOUCHERS, AND ED STAMPS? A: NOTHING. Now that we're all agreed that Bush is fashioning the results of the 76th Texas legislature as part of his presidential campaign record, his managers aren't all that happy with the outcome thus far, and the future doesn't hold out all that much hope, either. Dubya's been able to reward his business buddies early with an oil tax break, and the electric deregulation bill has cleared the Senate, but he's had to compromise on his social promotions bill, his abortion package is only 50% winnable, his educational/property tax plan is late and in turmoil, and his " loyal opposition" is just warming up. The "most contentious" debate thus far was held in the Senate yesterday as the members debated the bill to have doctors notify parents when a child wants an abortion. The best line came from Sen. Mike Moncrief, D-Fort Worth. A supporter of the bill suggested a judge could bypass parental notification and declare the child mature enough to have an abortion. Moncrief responded, ""The reverse of that is if the court finds the minor is not mature, she has to become a mother." One can only wait for what will turn out to be the blockbuster of the session that shows promise of keeping Dubya's spinners working overtime, the battle over school vouchers. This 5 year "pilot program," which would involve around 150,000 students in the major school districts at a cost of between $2-3 billion would, according to Fort Worth columnist Cecil Johnson, "exacerbate the resegregation of the public schools that has occurred in Texas because of white flight to the suburbs and to private schools." Johnson reminds us of a past racist use of educational vouchers: "Vouchers originally were referred to as 'scholarships' when Georgia enacted a law in the '60s providing them for white children to attend private schools instead of desegregated schools." Politex wonders if the Austin school board's recent decision to do away with school busing for purposes of desegregation had anything to do with voucher politics. At any rate, Johnson concludes that Bush is pushing a " radical idea, which amounts to taxpayer funding for a parallel school system." Win or lose and apart from his Theocratic support, it's doubtful that the fallout from the voucher wars to come will be helpful to George on the campaign trail. 3/18/99
It's a Great Day for Green Bushies,
It's a great day to go play!
The sidewalks of Austin are thick with blarney,
You'd think the Guv's house was ol' Killarney!
It's a great day for the elephant,
For the donkey in array!
We're feeling so inspirish,
Because everyone's Irish,
It's a Great, Great, DAY!
KIVS IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY IN PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS. Knowing that "the best day of your campaign is often the day before you announce" and start saying things that your opponents and the press jump on with unabashed glee, Bush and Dole believe it's best to "Keep It Vague, Stupid!" Chicago sage Clarence Page opines that in this issue-free stage of the campaign with no "hot button issues that aroused angry white men and soccer moms in other elections," the "moderate," "big tent" beliefs of B+D have made them front-runners. Republican consultants see it differently, substituting "vague" for "moderate." They believe that "the candidate who starts last starts best." To many voters, Elizabeth Dole is still seen as candidate Dole's wife, and George Bush is the guy who used to be President. Their vagueness on the issues, however, allows opponents to characterize Dole as "Nurse Ratchett" and Bush as this year's "pet rock." 3/16/99
HOUSE DEMS WAITING TO "CRUNCH" DUBYA'S TAX/EDUCATION BILL, IF IT EVER MAKES IT OUT OF THE SENATE. "Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin, said the measure obviously is struggling. 'I think that's something you can almost feel in the air,' he said." Catch anything, George? 3/16/99
"PLEASE DON'T TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I'M GONE." No such luck, George. Although the Guv's gone fishin' with Laura and the twins in East Texas this week, folks are still talking about the cat and mouse he and Dem candidate Bill Bradley played at the boys' state basketball championship games on Friday, missing each other by an hour or so as they shook hands and autographed programs. Since Bradley has a Jones for politics as well as basketball, he spent his time in Austin picking up campaign cash at a political benefit and putting Bush on the spot for his vapid comments about hate crime bills. Last summer during the time of the Jasper hate murder, Dubya said, "All crime is hate crime." Now, his spinners have changed it to "All violent crime is hate crime," but Bradley said the quote won't wash during a lunch meeting with hate crime bill supporters in Austin. "We just have to step up, and no leader should be silent on this. I'll tell you today.... (if Bush) does not support passage of this bill, I will make this an issue in the general election." Spinners say G-Dub will consider the bill when it reaches his desk, Bush-speak for "I'm not backin' it!" 3/15/99
BUSH TURNS WEAKNESS INTO STRENGTH WITH ROSE GARDEN STRATEGY. Guv-Dub's "strategy may be designed to beat the bushes for endorsements and money and let him beat around the bush on tough questions about national issues," but it's working, say the pundits, because "influential policymakers, elected officials and fund-raisers are willing to meet him for lunch at the Governor's Mansion, " betting that George will make it to the White House and reward them for their support in tangible ways. That's why, according to Richard Berke with Rick Lyman in today's NYT, they're even willing to sign markers of support prior to being allowed to come down to Austin. That's even the case with the badly-need policy wonks that the Guv uses to learn about the world outside of Texas. "The meetings are often convened in a formal, deep blue dining room in the Governor's mansion, and sometimes in a smaller, sunny conservatory. They usually include just over half a dozen experts in a field and are scheduled for three hours but often last longer." Friends and classmates have described G.W. as a hands-on politician rather than an intellect, but during these sessions he's seen as being smart enough to keep to the all-important basics when his advisors begin to weave webs of deep thought. "Rushing to fill in his blank slate on pressing issues of the day before the campaign swings into full gear, Bush has embarked on a cram course that could be titled 'What you need to know to run for President'," summarizes Berke, who reports that these sessions have been going on since November of last year, which leads Politex to wonder about the mind Bush was telling us he was making up all these months. 3/15/99
"IGNORANCE IS (BUSH'S) ONLY LEGITIMATE DEFENSE OF 'TEXAS RELIGIOUS SUPREMACY ACT'." (No link available.) "Demonstrating a naivete that bodes ill, Gov. Bush has jumped onto the misguided Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bandwagon," by attempting to pass Texas legislation similar to that passed by the U.S. congress in 1993. When the federal act was applied in Texas vs. Flores last year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the act because it "violated the separation of powers, threatened the federal-state balance and bypassed the Constitution's amendment ratification procedures." Now, according to Professor of Law Marci Hamilton in today's Statesman, the conservative Rutherford Institute, which has been supported by Richard Mellon Scaife and was instrumental in providing Paula Jones with legal help, is working on the Texas state legislature to gain support of a Bush-backed bill which will initiate "strict scrutiny of any law that burdens religious conduct of any kind. By giving religion leverage against every law, such bills hand religion more power to...undermine the civil rights of minorities and women, jeopardize the welfare of children, and substantially undercut local community prerogatives." Like Congress' present re-thinking of the Independent Prosecutor Act, the history of the use of the RFRA has given members of Congress pause. "The information, though, does not seem to have reached Gov. Bush, who has declared that the Texas State religious freedom act he is pushing is a 'signature piece' of legislation that will be the centerpiece for his push to national office."
Last week both individual and institutional opponents of the bill appeared at the state's hearings in Austin, but Bush "remains oblivious to the underbelly of the religious freedoms acts and their direct assult on the rule of law. Some believe his staff has failed to warn him of the real consequences of giving all religions this extreme legal tool. He simply does not seem to understand what such a bill portends. Bush seemed to make this apparent at his press conference when he announced the bill and could not answer specific questions about its impact on state government institutions." Hamilton implies that if the act passes, the state will be caught in a morass of court fights about what a religion is, what is acceptable belief within a religion, and when a lawbreaker can claim a religious connection and when he cannot. She concludes, "No serious candidate for national office can afford to back (such) legislation....Despite their surface appeal, the religious freedom acts alter the careful judgements reached in every arena just because the one who intends to break the law can claim a religious connection. If Bush does know this but simply does not care, woe to us all." 3/14/99
GOP COMPETITORS WHISPER "BUSH CANNOT WITHSTAND SCRUTINY OF HIS PAST." At least one candidate is actively probing, but the New York Observer wonders "what resorces news executives (will) devote to the excavation of Mr. Bush's past?...Will they demand answers about his draft record and his induction into the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War?" Will they ask G.W. "to release his tax returns for the past 10 years," as Dad did in 1988 campaign? 3/13/99
JUNIOR'S "YOUTHFUL" CHARACTER STILL WITH HIM TODAY. TAKE PROCRASTINATION. George has told the media that he shouldn't be taken to task for problems he had while still a youth. As we know, many kids tend to wait until the last minute to hand in their homework. Dubya had this problem later in life, when he violated a SEC rule. He was required to register his sale of 60% of his stock in Harken Oil in June, 1990 for $848,560 as an insider trade by July 10, 1990, but didn't until March 1991. While he didn't say the dog ate the report, he did say it got lost in the mail, and President Dad agreed. Nothing happened to him about it. Now, it turns out that George is the same old "Junior." Yesterday he didn't meet the mandated deadline for filing bills, neglecting to file his $2 billion plan for property tax relief, coupled with his plan for education. "The Democrats, who are outnumbered 16-15 in the Senate, did not say whether they would seek to deny (Bush and) Bivins a fourth-fifths majority to allow (them) to file (their) tax bill after yesterday's deadline." Kids! 3/13/99
PRESS PLAYS PADDY CAKE WITH "POOR GEORGE" IN MEDIA "CHARADE." Dubya has $ and marketing. Now it's time to keep the content of his campaign as vague as possible, both to appeal to a wide cross-section of the GOP primary voters and to cover up his own limited grasp of the issues. Slate's William Saletan: "Bush remains clueless about many national issues, and, on others, he knows he can only lose votes by being pinned down. Moreover, the longer he postpones his candidacy, the longer he deprives his rivals of a target, thereby starving them to death. For these reasons, Bush is claiming immunity to policy questions. And he's getting away with it." Saletan offers a detailed look at six reasons and concludes that "Bush's portrayal of substantive interrogation as nasty nit-picking has completely suckered the media." He pretends to "suffer in silance as his fund-raisers bleed the field dry. 'I'll play the hand I was dealt,' he shrugs stoically. Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver gag in his mouth." 3/12/.99
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