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Impeach Bush

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 Why Bush backed down on tariffs
 Bush's tariff exemptions
 Bush's coup in Venezuela
 Bush Pays Ransom to al Qaeda
 Bush Opposes International Law
 Gas Prices Skyrocket
 Republicans Seek more Debt
 Iraq's Oil Embargo
 Bush Blames Clinton, then Denies it--again
Bush lets utility companies pollute *
An Impeachable Offense
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration on Thursday said it will relax costly air pollution rules when U.S. utilities are repaired or expanded, triggering a storm of protest from environmental groups and some Democrats.

The move by the Environmental Protection Agency came after months of lobbying by U.S. utilities and industry, which have long complained about complex rules on how far they can go to enlarge or upgrade a plant before having to install costly equipment to control smog, acid rain and soot.

"The need for reform is clear and has broad-based support," EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said.

"Our review clearly established that some aspects of the New Source Review program have deterred companies from implementing projects that would increase energy efficiency and decrease air pollution," she said.

The changes to the agency's New Source Review program -- which is part of the Clean Air Act -- were 10 years in the making. They followed bitter court fights by some utilities over Clinton administration attempts to enforce the rules.

Moving to dispel a firestorm of environmental criticism, EPA officials said the new rules finalized on Thursday would not immediately impact utilities.

"I can categorically say ... that it has absolutely no impact on the power sector," said EPA Assistant Administrator Jeff Holmstead, pointing to rules set by the agency in 1992 that govern utility emissions. "Don't necessarily believe everything you hear from the environmental groups."

PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE

That is not the case for a separate set of regulations EPA proposed that face a lengthy comment period before they can be enacted.

The most odious of those, environmentalists say, are new definitions of routine maintenance that would give utilities significant leeway to upgrade the oldest, dirtiest plants that hold protections grandfathered by the Clean Air Act.

The new proposal is "the promise of eternal life" for old power plants, said Eric Schaeffer, a former EPA enforcement chief who resigned in March to protest what he said was a push to weaken pollution laws by the Bush administration.

If enacted, the new rules would "basically mean that no existing power plants would ever have to get cleaned up," said David Hawkins at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The oldest plants could be "rebuilt piece by piece for hundreds of years," he said.

President Bush deflected environmental criticism, and voiced commitment to clean air initiatives.

"This administration is committed to clean air and will work vigorously to achieve it," Bush said.

Bush said environmentalists were "absolutely wrong" in their criticism of the program, and touted his previously announced Clear Skies proposal, which requires utilities to cut three harmful emissions by 70 percent by 2018 using a cap-and-trade system.

DEMOCRATS, GREEN GROUPS BLAST DECISION

However, environmentalists and some Democrats criticized the action as the latest in a series of Bush administration moves allowing more pollution by industry.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle called the EPA announcement an "extraordinary example" of rolling back protections, and accused the Bush administration of "fast becoming the most enviro-unfriendly admin in 20 years."

Independent Senator Jim Jeffords and Democrat Joseph Lieberman called the new rules the biggest rollback of the Clean Air Act in history.

The new rules give industry "virtual free rein to increase their emissions ... without any oversight from the government," said Lieberman, a potential 2004 presidential hopeful.

Environmental issues are expected to figure in many of the November elections that will determine control of the U.S. House and Senate.

Jeffords, the chair of the Senate Environment Committee, said he will hold a joint hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine the administration's decision-making process on the New Source Review program.

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said he will sue the administration over the new pollution laws in a federal court.

New York State and other Northeast states have sued Midwest and Canadian utilities in the past, charging that smog and acid rain have damaged Adirondack lakes, killed forests and caused respiratory diseases.

Emission regulations pit the Northeast against the Midwest, which has many aging coal-fueled power plants that blow pollution across state lines.

The EPA ignored the public health impact of more utility pollution, green groups said.

"It's a major weakening of standards," said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust. "The EPA has no calculations on increased pollution or public health impacts."

Clapp described the move as "payback for big utility campaign contributions" during the 2000 election.

Whitman expressly contested the assertion that the new rules represent a rollback. "We are not rolling back the Clean Air Act," she said. New Source Review is just "one part of the many tools in the Clean Air Act that we have to ensure the quality of air," she said.

INDUSTRY RALLIES AROUND CHANGES

The announcement received across-the-board rave reviews from industry groups representing refiners, petrochemical, manufacturers and petroleum sectors.

"Business planners need the certainty these new rules help provide," said Michael Baroody, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

The Clinton administration in November 1999 sued nine Midwest and Southern utilities to enforce the New Source Review rules. The Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest public power producer, is awaiting a decision by a federal appeals court, which could set the tone for future cases.

Whitman refused to concede that the new rules would impact the agency's enforcement of those cases. "Nothing changes in those lawsuits. We will continue to enforce those," she said.

Commentary:
Whitman didn't know her department said man was causing global warming, but she knows the new rules that cut back enforcement of environmental laws. Shame on her. It appears Bush does believe in some things after all and clearly paying off those who put you in power is high on his list of priorities.


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WTO to investigate Bush's tariffs. Bush backs down.
Reuters.com

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday agreed to a second probe into U.S. steel tariffs at the request of Japan and South Korea, adding to international pressure on Washington over the controversial duties.

The European Union has already been granted a special WTO panel to investigate the U.S. decision to levy duties of up to 30 percent on a range of steel products and a number of other states are lining up to take similar action.

The steel tariffs, along with Washington's recent decision to boost massively its aid to farmers, have stoked international trade tensions, threatening the plans of the 144-state WTO for global negotiations to further liberalize world trade.

The United States says that the tariffs are needed to give its struggling steel industry time to restructure and that it is acting in accordance with the WTO's so-called safeguard rules.

But the EU and the others reject the U.S. argument and have demanded a ruling from the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).

Trade officials said that the two WTO panels agreed to so far would merge into one and that a similar approach would probably be taken with pending requests for panels from China, Switzerland and Norway.

It is China's first use of the WTO's disputes machinery since it joined the trade body at the start of the year.

As WTO dispute decisions can take months, the EU has threatened to retaliate with $300 million sanctions of its own unless Washington agrees to concessions.

Washington has granted EU firms some exemptions from the import duties, but Brussels says more are needed.

However, Japan, which had also been planning sanctions, has put its plans for retaliation on hold while negotiations on exemptions continue.

It is not only the threat of retaliation that has prompted the United States into giving some ground on the tariff issue. With the U.S. economy picking up, steel users complained that the duties were leading to a surge in domestic prices.

Commentary:
Bush thinks leadership is making a decision but backing down when he's about to get his butt kicked. Since he's getting it kicked so often these days, he must be getting used to it. We're in need of a real president again. Where are you Bill Clinton?


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Bush's tariff exemptions
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has exempted another 46 foreign steel products from hefty steel tariffs President Bush imposed in March, government officials said on Tuesday.

The move follows recent action by Japan and the European Union to delay final decisions on whether to retaliate against the United States for the steel tariffs, which had threatened initially to spark a global trade war.

Tensions have been easing in recent weeks, however, in part due to Bush administration steps to exclude more foreign steel from the duties that range up to 30 percent on some products.

But on the domestic front, U.S. steelworkers and steel companies have expressed concern that too many exclusions could weaken the steel tariffs, which Bush imposed to give the steel industry time to restructure after a string of more than 30 bankruptcies since 1997.

U.S. Commerce Department officials have pledged not to undermine the tariffs, but said they want to make sure domestic steel-consuming companies have adequate supplies.

Reflecting those twin concerns, the latest 46 products "were excluded because it was determined that they are not sufficiently available from U.S. producers and that excluding these products would not undermine the effectiveness of the safeguard on steel products," the Commerce Department said.

Earlier this month, the United States exempted 61 products totaling some 136,000 metric tons from the tariffs.

A tonnage amount for the latest batch of exclusions was not immediately available. A U.S. trade official said the amount was likely to be small compared to the 13 million tons of steel imports affected by the 8 to 30 percent tariffs.

However, the economic importance of the exclusions was higher than the sheer tonnage would suggest because of the specialty nature of the products involved, the aide said.

The new exclusions cover a broad range of mostly specialized, niche-market steel products including plate, hot-rolled products, tin mill products, cold-rolled products, stainless steel bar, corrosion resistant products, hot-rolled bar and stainless steel wire.

Many of those products are critically important to foreign exporters, the U.S. trade official said.

The Bush administration did not detail which countries would benefit from the new exclusions.

Under World Trade Organization rules, the product exclusions must apply equally to all countries, even if they are more likely to benefit a certain foreign producer.

Japan's Trade Minister Takeo Hiranuma told reporters in Tokyo the latest U.S. move would exempt about 20,000 tons of Japanese steel from the tariffs.

"This 20,000 tons is what Japanese industries had great interest in. I welcome the U.S. move," he said.

European steel companies have acknowledged receiving a portion of the exclusions announced earlier in June.

The Bush administration has worked from an initial list of about 1,200 product exclusions requests from both domestic steel consumers and foreign steel producers.

Approximately 200 to 250 of those were granted as part of Bush's initial tariff orders. Commerce windowed down the remaining list to about 469 products that it said it received sufficient information about to make a decision.

The products excluded so far leave another 362 product requests still pending from the requests the administration received before Bush's March 5 tariff decision.

Commerce plans to announce additional exclusions over the next several weeks, with the goal of finishing its work on the remaining 382 requests by July 3.

U.S. officials have not set a deadline yet for making decisions on another 800 or so exclusion requests submitted later in the process.



Commentary:
Bush and his conservative friends think the US isn't good enough to handle free trade so they put up tariffs, but then finding the world is against the US, he backs down. Bush the coward strikes again.


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Bush's coup in Venezuela *
An Impeachable Offense
Yahoo.com/New York Times

CHRISTOPHER MARQUIS The New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 15 — Senior members of the Bush administration met several times in recent months with leaders of a coalition that ousted the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, for two days last weekend, and agreed with them that he should be removed from office, administration officials said today.

But administration officials gave conflicting accounts of what the United States told those opponents of Mr. Chávez about acceptable ways of ousting him.

One senior official involved in the discussions insisted that the Venezuelans use constitutional means, like a referendum, to effect an overthrow.

"They came here to complain," the official said, referring to the anti-Chávez group. "Our message was very clear: there are constitutional processes. We did not even wink at anyone."

But a Defense Department official who is involved in the development of policy toward Venezuela said the administration's message was less categorical.

"We were not discouraging people," the official said. "We were sending informal, subtle signals that we don't like this guy. We didn't say, `No, don't you dare,' and we weren't advocates saying, `Here's some arms; we'll help you overthrow this guy.' We were not doing that."

The disclosures come as rights advocates, Latin American diplomats and others accuse the administration of having turned a blind eye to coup plotting activities, or even encouraged the people who temporarily removed Mr. Chávez. Such actions would place the United States at odds with its fellow members of the Organization of American States, whose charter condemns the overthrow of democratically elected governments.

In the immediate aftermath of the ouster, the White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer (news - web sites), suggested that the administration was pleased that Mr. Chávez was gone. "The government suppressed what was a peaceful demonstration of the people," Mr. Fleischer said, which "led very quickly to a combustible situation in which Chávez resigned."

That statement contrasted with a clear stand by other nations in the hemisphere, which all condemned the removal of a democratically elected leader.

Mr. Chávez has made himself very unpopular with the Bush administration with his pro-Cuban stance and mouthing of revolutionary slogans — and, most recently, by threatening the independence of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, the third-largest foreign supplier of American oil.

Whether or not the administration knew about the pending action against Mr. Chávez, critics note that it was slow to condemn the overthrow and that it still refuses to acknowledge that a coup even took place.

One result, according to the critics, is that in its zeal to rid itself of Mr. Chávez, the administration has damaged its credibility as a chief defender of democratically elected governments. And even though they deny having encouraged Mr. Chávez's ouster, administration officials did not hide their dismay at his restoration.

Asked whether the administration now recognizes Mr. Chávez as Venezuela's legitimate president, one administration official replied, "He was democratically elected," then added, "Legitimacy is something that is conferred not just by a majority of the voters, however."

A senior administration official said today that the anti-Chávez group had not asked for American backing and that none had been offered. Still, one American diplomat said, Mr. Chávez was so distressed by his opponents' lobbying in Washington that he sent officials from his government to plead his case there.

Mr. Chávez returned to power on Sunday, after two days. The Bush administration swiftly laid the blame for the episode on him, pointing out that troops loyal to him had fired on unarmed civilians and wounded more than 100 demonstrators.

Mr. Fleischer, the White House spokesman, stuck to that approach today, saying Mr. Chávez should heed the message of his opponents and reach out to "all the democratic forces in Venezuela."

"The people of Venezuela have sent a clear message to President Chávez that they want both democracy and reform," he said. "The Chávez administration has an opportunity to respond to this message by correcting its course and governing in a fully democratic manner."

On Sunday, President Bush (news - web sites)'s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites), expressed hopes that Mr. Chávez would deal with his opponents in a less "highhanded fashion."

But to some critics, it was the Bush administration that had displayed arrogance in initially bucking the tide of international condemnation of the action against Mr. Chavez, who was democratically elected in 1998.

Arturo Valenzuela, the Latin America national security aide in the Clinton administration, accused the Bush administration of running roughshod over more than a decade of treaties and agreements for the collective defense of democracy. Since 1990, the United States has repeatedly invoked those agreements at the Organization of American States to help restore democratic rule in such countries as Haiti, Guatemala and Peru.

Mr. Valenzuela, who now heads the Latin American studies department at Georgetown University here, warned that the nations in the region might view the administration's tepid support of Venezuelan democracy as a green light to return to 1960's and 1970's, when power was transferred from coup to coup.

"I think it's a very negative development for the principle of constitutional government in Latin America," Mr. Valenzuela said. "I think it's going to come back and haunt all of us."

Administration officials insist that they are firmly behind efforts at the Organization of American States to determine what happened in Venezuela and restore democratic rule. The secretary general of the O.A.S., César Gaviria, left today for Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, and the organization is scheduled to meet in Washington on Thursday.

Still, critics say, there were several signs that the administration was too quick to rally around the businessman Pedro Carmona Estanga as Mr. Chávez's successor.

One Democratic foreign policy aide complained that the administration, in phone calls to Congress on Friday, reported that Mr. Chávez had resigned, even though officials now concede that they had no evidence of that.

And on Saturday, the administration supported an O.A.S. resolution condemning "the alteration of constitutional order in Venezuela" only after learning that Mr. Chávez had regained control, Latin American diplomats said.

One official said political hard-liners in the administration might have "gone overboard" in proclaiming Mr. Chávez's ouster before the dust settled.

The official said there were competing impulses within the administration, signaling a disagreement on the extent of trouble posed by Mr. Chávez, who has thumbed his nose at American officials by maintaining ties with Cuba, Libya and Iraq.

Commentary:
Once again the Bush camp has shown its utter contempt for the rule of law and majority rule. As a member of the OAS the US is legally bound to not support the military overthrow of democracies. Yet, the president has done just that. Millions will hate the US for the actions of this very small man some call president.


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Bush Pays Ransom to al Qaeda *
An Impeachable Offense Americans Held Hostage---Month 10
Reuters.com/Abcnews.com/Msnbc.com

By Raju Gopalakrishnan

MANILA (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official said Washington helped pay ransom last month to Muslim guerrillas in the Philippines linked to Osama bin Laden, but the Manila government said on Friday that no such incident took place.

Residents on the southern Philippine island of Basilan, where the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas are holed up, said the reports of the payment of $300,000 for the release of two American missionaries were true.

The missionaries -- Martin and Gracia Burnham -- are still in the custody of the guerrillas. They were kidnapped over 10 months ago and have been held since on Basilan, a remote, mountainous and forested island.

A U.S. official told Reuters in Washington that the ransom was handed over to an intermediary of the Abu Sayyaf several weeks ago and confirmed television reports that the government helped arrange the payment.

Washington has previously linked the Abu Sayyaf to the al Qaeda network of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, who it blames for the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Over 650 American troops, including some 150 elite special forces, are in the southern Philippines for joint exercises with the local military to help vanquish the Abu Sayyaf. All the special forces and thousands of local troops are fanned out across Basilan.

Brigadier Donald Wurster -- special forces chief for the U.S. Pacific Command -- told Reuters in nearby Zamboanga City that the six-month time-frame of the exercises, which ends in June, could be extended and the number of U.S. forces could be increased.

However, details were still being worked out, he said.

Wurster refused to comment on the ransom payment report.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Manila said he would not like to comment on individual reports, but U.S. policy was not to give in to demands from kidnappers.

Provincial officials in Basilan said they had heard the money was handed over to intermediaries late last month, but that either the money had not reached the Abu Sayyaf or was deemed insufficient.

"Maybe the money went to the wrong people," said one official. "Or the Abu Sayyaf will not release them until some more money comes in."

MANILA DENIAL

Philippine National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said the reports from Washington were incorrect.

"The story has no basis and is apparently not true," he told Reuters. "Ransom is against U.S. and Philippine government policy."

Philippine military spokesman Brigadier Generoso Senga said some private parties may be involved in ransom negotiations with the guerrillas.

"It's possible that some private individuals acting on their own outside of government could be attempting to negotiate for their release," he said. "As far as both governments are concerned, we have a no-negotiation no-ransom policy."

According to local media reports, the Abu Sayyaf has been demanding $2 million for the Burnhams.

U.S. television networks NBC and ABC, citing unnamed sources, reported that the U.S. government helped arrange a ransom payment of $300,000 in private money that was given to an individual about a month ago.

The reports said U.S. officials had not been able to verify whether the money had been passed on to Abu Sayyaf.

Asked to comment on the reports, State Department spokeswoman Eliza Koch said: "The United States continues to work closely with the government of the Philippines in its effort to secure the safe release of the hostages and to bring the kidnappers to justice."

Abu Sayyaf is a rag-tag group of gunmen who nominally claim they are fighting for an independent Muslim state in the south of the Roman Catholic Philippines.

They sprang to notoriety two years ago after kidnapping over a dozen Western tourists from a beach resort in neighboring Malaysia and later made about $20 million in ransom.

The group kidnapped the Burnhams and 18 others from another beach resort in the western Philippines in May last year. Most of hostages have been released in exchange for ransom, but another American and some others have been executed.

Other bandit gangs are also heavily involved in kidnapping in the lawless southern Philippines and ransom is involved in almost all the cases where victims are safely released.

Giuseppe Pierantoni, an Italian priest who was freed from the custody of a bandit gang earlier this week after five months in captivity, denied government claims that police had raided the hideout of his captors and rescued him.

"We walked for about 12 hours from the interior to near the coast," Pierantoni told Reuters on Friday, describing how he was set free.

"We got maybe 200 meters from the highway and then we waited. The commander (of the gunmen) talked many times with somebody else on a mobile phone. Finally an ambulance belonging to the security forces came. The commander accompanied me to the ambulance and handed me over."

He said the bandits told him that a ransom agreement had been reached, but that he had no knowledge of whether that was true.

Commentary:
Yet another scandal begins, not unlike Iran/Contra. A president too ignorant or uninformed to know what is being done is his name gives aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States. The constitution calls it treason--conservatives will defend it.


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Bush Opposes International Law *
An Impeachable Offense
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States restated its opposition to the International Criminal Court on Thursday and said it was reviewing policy on the tribunal, which took a major step toward reality at a U.N. ceremony.

At the U.N. headquarters in New York on Thursday 10 countries brought the total number of nations to ratify the Rome treaty establishing the court to 66 -- six more than needed to bring the treaty into force on July 1.

The court, set up to try the world's most heinous crimes, has been hailed by many as a human rights landmark.

But State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the Bush administration continued to have objections to the treaty and would not submit it to the Senate for ratification.

"It has a number of fundamental problems. It purports to assert jurisdiction over nationals of states not party to the treaty, contrary to the most basic principles of customary international law governing treaties," he said.

"The United States is concerned that its military and civilian personnel will be exposed to politically motivated investigations and prosecutions.

"Accountability is a serious problem. Relatively unrestricted powers of the prosecutor and the court may lead to politicized second-guessing of a state's ability or willingness to investigate its own personnel," he added.

The Clinton administration signed the treaty right at the end of its term in office, arguing that this would enable the United States to take part in subsequent deliberations on the procedures the court will follow.

But the Bush administration, which took office in January 2001, is even less sympathetic to the idea of ceding jurisdiction to an international court.

Reeker declined to speculate on whether the United States might withdraw its signature from the treaty.

"The administration continues to review its policy toward the International Criminal Court. A full range of policy options is under discussion but no final decisions have been made," he added.

The rapid pace of the ratification has taken the Bush administration by surprise, said a U.S. official.

The new tribunal has jurisdiction only when countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute individuals for the world's most serious atrocities: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other gross human-rights abuses.

Cases can be referred by a country that has ratified the treaty, the U.N. Security Council or the tribunal's prosecutor after approval from three judges. But the court is not retroactive and cannot probe crimes committed before July 1.

Suspects from nations, like the United States, who have not ratified the treaty are still subject to prosecution -- providing the country where the crimes occurred has ratified the treaty and the nation whose citizens are accused fails to investigate.

Commentary:


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Gas Prices Skyrocket
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday played down the short-term impact of Venezuelan and Iraqi oil disruptions on U.S. markets, but said the developments bolstered the case for passage of President Bush's energy plan.

"The confluence of events in Venezuela, the decision by Iraq to shut off its oil supplies, has not created an impact in the markets as of today," said Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer.

"The situation, though, is an ongoing problem for the United States and for consumers," he added. "That's why the president feels so strongly in the need for the Senate to do what the House did, which is to pass a comprehensive energy plan ... so America can rely on America for her energy needs and not be vulnerable to the actions that others take."

Labor strife has upset oil operations in Venezuela, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, and experts have warned that a prolonged strike by oil workers there could raise gasoline pump prices for American drivers.

Separately Iraq, the United States' sixth biggest supplier of oil, announced this week that it would not export its oil, usually 4 percent of globally traded crude, until Israel withdraws from Palestinian areas.

Fleischer said the Energy Department was "monitoring very carefully oil markets and price," and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said on Wednesday that the Bush administration has been in contact with officials in Venezuela, which is a member of OPEC.

Abraham said he assumed other oil-producing countries would follow Saudi Arabia's commitment to replace oil lost from Iraq's decision to suspend its crude shipments and step in to do the same to replace Venezuelan disruptions.

Gasoline prices have rocketed by 24 percent since early March. Demand for gasoline usually peaks during the summer driving season.

While playing down the short-term market implications, Fleischer said developments with Iraq and Venezuela should spur the Senate to pass Bush's energy plan.

Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has, however, promised to filibuster any move to amend the energy bill to allow drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Republican lawmakers have cited Iraq's decision to cut off oil exports for 30 days as a reason why the United States must be able to tap ANWR's reserves and become less dependent on foreign crude.

"The point is, why take the risk? Why should the United States be vulnerable to these other nations? Why can't the United States do more at home?" Fleischer said.

Commentary:
The US has higher gas prices because of Bush's constant threats of attacks on Iraq and other countries. We can chalk this one up under "lack of leadership."


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Republicans Seek more Debt
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Majority Leader Richard Armey said on Tuesday that the House of Representatives should quickly approve President Bush's request for a $750 billion increase in the nation's borrowing authority.

The administration has urged quick congressional action on raising the debt ceiling to $6.7 trillion from the current $5.95 trillion limit. Failure to do so would result in an unprecedented default on government debt, and the administration tapped into government employees retirement funds earlier this month to keep from hitting the ceiling.

But the administration expects a flood of tax receipts as the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns approaches, and officials have said this money should be enough to keep the government within its borrowing authority through August. Taxpayers who owe money tend to wait until the last minute to file, while those expecting refunds usually file early.

Armey said the House would act on the administration's request as quickly as possible, but would likely wait to attach it to a more politically palatable bill such as the administration's request for $27 billion in emergency spending for the U.S. war against terrorism and domestic security.

"Our general disposition is to move this thing in whatever way the administration requests as quickly as we have an opportunity to do so," Armey told reporters.

Lawmakers are loath to vote for increasing the government's debt and Democrats are likely to use the issue to criticize Bush's tax cuts, which they say has brought more red ink and forced the government to tap Social Security funds to pay for other programs.

The Democrat-led Senate is unlikely to go along with Bush's full $750 billion request and has been waiting for the Republican-controlled House to act.

Armey said he thought the Senate should move ahead on the measure.

He told reporters that his advice to the Senate was "get something through the floor and we'll work it out in conference."

Commentary:
Recent stories tell us the republican congress is spending like there's no tomorrow. This is on top of Bush's promise to pay down the debt instead of making more. But wait, the real problem is we need a constitutional amendment. It's time to get rid of these idiots.


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Iraq's Oil Embargo
Reuters.com

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (Reuters) - The White House said on Tuesday that the United States was keeping a variety of options on the table for responding to rising oil prices.

President Bush said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday that he is prepared to consider a range of options to ease the pain if Iraq's 30-day cutoff of oil exports makes the problem of rising prices worse.

He refused to rule out tapping the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve or seeking a reduction in gasoline taxes if necessary. The White House is concerned rising oil prices could damage the country's fragile economic recovery.

"All options are on the table" to respond to an increase in prices, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters on the Air Force One flight that carried Bush on a day trip to Connecticut. "But that's a very general statement."

"We'll monitor markets," he said.

Commentary:
Bush's lack of leadership and plans to attack Iraq have caused Iraq to put up an oil embargo against the US. Poor George, his world is falling in around him. But he can always use the embargo to give big oil what they want---Alaska. Btw, why is it that oilman Bush is having so many oil problems? Is he making them happen or is he inept?


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Bush Blames Clinton, then Denies it
Reuters.com

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush denied on Saturday that he had accused his predecessor Bill Clinton of helping create conditions for violence in the Middle East by pushing for peace in a summit that failed.

"I appreciate what President Clinton tried to do. He tried to bring peace to the Middle East. I am going to try to bring peace to the Middle East," Bush told a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In an interview with Britain's ITV television, taped on Thursday and broadcast on Friday, Bush was asked whether he would be willing to convene a Middle East summit in order to bring the parties together.

"Well, we've tried summits in the past, as you may remember. There wasn't one all that long ago where a summit was called and nothing happened. And as a result we had a significant intifada in the area," Bush replied.

"The only time that's appropriate for a U.S. president to call a summit, when it looks like something can get done," Bush said.

To some observers Bush's comments sounded basically the same as the remarks that got White House spokesman Ari Fleischer in trouble a month ago. Fleischer said Clinton's "shoot the moon" drive at Camp David in July 2000 to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal contributed to the outbreak in violence.

After fierce criticism from Clinton loyalists and others, Fleischer said he regretted making the remark and withdrew it.

Many Republicans, however, agree with the idea Clinton overreached and helped propel the region into a bloody wave of violence when the Camp David talks appeared to bring the sides close to a comprehensive settlement but ultimately collapsed.

In this case, White House aides said Bush in his comments on British television was not referring to Clinton but to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

"Somebody told me there's a story floating around that somehow I am blaming the Clinton administration for what's going on in the Middle East right now," Bush said Saturday.

He said Arafat "has not lived up to the promises" he made in previous peace deals.

Commentary:
Bush blames President Clinton to deflect the real cause of the Middle East Crisis--his failure to lead.


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