President Bush, Republicans Eyeing Zero-Fun Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Bush administration is beginning to show serious signs of collapse at home and abroad. The Plame Affair continues to roil Washington and the White House, and the administration and Republicans in Congress are under investigation in the widening Abramoff scandal.

Meanwhile the war goes on, with soldiers continuing to die day by day. The lack of U.S. security was underscored over the weekend when a U.S. Congress member, Tim Murphy, was hurt in a Baghdad Humvee accident.

There is continued fighting in Afghanistan, and the Shia-dominated government in Iraq wants the U.S. to give it more leeway in putting down Sunni opposition.

At home, the Plame spy investigation continues with Karl Rove still under investigation and facing possible indictment. There are now questions about National security adviser and former Cheney aide Steve Hadley's role in the leak. Hadley had been in contact with Italian military intelligence a few days before the phony Niger uranium documents surfaced in Washington. The papers originated in Italy. Hadley is thought to be another source of the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name, possibly to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.

In Congress, the Republican majority has fallen to squabbling among themselves over provisions of the tax-cut bill, some arguing for tax cuts to help the rich and others wanting to defend the middle class against the alternative minimum tax.

At the same time, the scandal around lobbyist Jack Abramoff is spilling over into Congress, with Ohio Republican congressman Robert Ney on the spot for getting mixed up in promoting in Congress a company, bought by Abramoff and a partner, that owns casino boats. Ney has been told the Justice Department is preparing a bribery case against him and a member of his staff. Other members and their families are under investigation in the Abramoff probe, and investigators are looking into administration officials as well.

Abroad, Bush's crusade to bring democracy to the Middle East is resulting in strengthening militant Islam, not weakening it. Last weekend in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood scored a startling upswing in the ongoing parliamentary elections there, winning 29 new seats for a total of 76, more than five times the number it held in the last parliament. The government did everything it could to shut down the Brotherhood in balloting, arresting hundreds of followers and cordoning off polling places. "The aim was to prevent voters from reaching the ballot boxes and to affect the result," Brotherhood deputy leader Mohamed Habib told Reuters. "But with perseverance the people and the Brotherhood were able to overcome the barriers." The Brotherhood wants to bring the country closer into adherence of Islamic law.

And then there is United Nations ambassador John Bolton. Bolton was sent to the U.N. to assuage longtime conservative desires to weaken and eventually crush the international organization. To that end, Bolton has been pushing a package of so-called reforms-mainly changes aimed at taking power away from the General Assembly and giving it to the Secretary General's office, in the name of making the U.N. more efficient. When developing nations balked, Bolton tried and failed to convince the British to back his scheme for blocking the next U.N. budget as a way to muscle the reforms through. The developing countries see the package as just another way for the U.S. to extend its political control over them. If the developing countries refuse to go along, he is threatening to have the U.S. use other means of solving international problems.

 
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