New York

President Bush, Republicans Eyeing Zero-Fun Environment

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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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