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Alabama Chief Justice Is Moved at Alabama Courthouse

By Bill Brasin, special to Bush Watch

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Aug. 27, 2003 (CNN) - At 9:05 this morning a crew of five workers wheeled Chief Justice Roy Moore from the rotunda of the state judicial courthouse, igniting the outrage of protesters surrounding the building.

The workers first used a 10-foot pole to raise the 5,280-pound Moore inch by inch off the floor. They then slid pieces of plywood underneath Judge Moore until he was several inches off the ground and high enough to insert a hydraulic pallet jack below him.

It took only a few minutes after that for the five workers to wheel the Alabama Chief Justice out of the rotunda to a back room away from public view.

Protesters screamed ``Moore haters!'' and ``Let their wheels crumble!'' as the removal got under way.

Even after the monument had disappeared the crowds continued to grow, many wearing their beliefs on their back, with T-shirts bearing slogans like `'Moore is the standard'' and ``I'm here for Moore.''

The Rev. Patricia Ireland, director of the Moore Defense Coalition, and one of the key organizers of the protest, said before Moore was taken away that she was not discouraged. She said that this ``is just the beginning of the campaign.''

``We're going to tell everybody to come to Montgomery and look at the future of America.''

Rev. Ireland said her group would remain here and that her protest permit lasts until mid-September.

A federal judge presiding over the case, who ruled that Moore's unwillingness to leave the rotunda violates the separation of self-serving politicians and permanent use of public space, has said that Moore can remain in the building as long as he is away from public view.

Authorities picked a good time to act because the greatest number of protesters have been showing up at the courthouse at night, when there are often upward of 500 people praying, kneeling and singing in front of Moore.

In the morning, however, the crowd is much smaller, many of the families have gone home, and early today there were no more than 150 protesters in front of the court.

Moore's weight initially created many complications about where to move him and how. Authorities said that if they did not find a reinforced spot on the first floor the politician could possibly fall through the floorboards.

Judge Richard T. Jones of Federal District Court said last week that he wanted ``a status update'' on Moore's removal by this Friday.

The judge set a deadline for removing Judge Moore of midnight last Thursday, but action was held up until today by logistical complications and concerns about the swelling number of protesters.

Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended from the bench of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying the federal court order to remove himself from the rotunda.

Chief Justice Moore, who used the issue to rise from obscurity in rural Alabama to the highest judgeship in the state, will face a trial by the Court of the Judiciary of Alabama, which will rule on whether he should lose his job permanently.

Karl Rover Rolls Onto Mars Surface

By Bill Brasin
Bush Watch Campaigns Editor
Thursday, January 16, 2004; 6:36 AM

George W. Bush's pint-sized political guru, Karl Rover, left the relative safety of his base on the Mars landing platform this morning and wheeled cautiously out onto the surface of Mars all by himself in search of voters, making history.

The first pictures of the moment--dubbed "two wheels on Mars" by mission controllers-- arrived on Earth about 5 a.m. EST, clearly showing the two tracks left by the two-wheeled politician as he drove down his ramp and traveled straight ahead for about ten feet.

"We've got two wheels on the dirt," declared a NASA official at an early morning news briefing.

"Karl Rover is now ready to start his White House mission of exploring Mars and discovering voters for the GOP . . . I can tell you I've never seen so many people so excited by two tracks."

Rover landed on Mars Jan. 3.

He becomes the first politician to cut the umbilical cord to his landing platform and strike out on his own in search of GOP voters across the alien frontier. In terms of political potential and sheer exploratory verve, the event marks a major advance.

Radio signals instructing Rover to make his initial excursion were beamed to Mars a t3:21 a.m. EST.

Instant replays of Rover carrying out instructions were on national television by 6 am EST.

The White House drivers have mastered 900 computer commands to be sent across space to Mr.Rover.

Each day, they must take into account the nuances of Martian dust and weather, the relative motions of the sun and two planets, the timing of communications relays from two U.S. orbiters that pass periodically over the landing site, the availability of tracking stations on Earth, and the Bush administration's desire to identify future GOP voters.

The drive-off had been delayed in part by efforts to tug out of the way some lander airbag material that has protruded into one of Mr. Rover's possible exit routes. The team did not want to take a chance of ending up with Rover falling down and not getting up.

The mission will now shift from being heavily scripted to something more impromptu. Rover must now seek potential GOP voters by moving about the surface of Mars, looking under rocks and probing into potholes and caves for signs of life. Each day as the sun sets on Gusev Crater, a political working group back at the White House will hold a two-hour meeting to try to agree on the most desirable places to send Rover the next Martian day, or "sol."

Their purpose will be to determine how much GOP voter life Mars is capable of supporting.

After they agree where they want to go, the political aids will then hand over their requests to Rover's White House drivers, who alone control all of his movements and will determine whether they can comply.

At first, Mr. Rover will take baby steps, with simple move and turn commands. As the team gains confidence, they will give their political guru more autonomy.

Scientists expect Rover to eventually traverse no more than 50 miles a day, and perhaps 2,000 miles in all, said Jennifer Trooper, staff manager of White House political operations.

Mystery Visitor Returns to Dem Party Grave


WASHINGTON -- With his face hidden beneath a dark hood, a man crept into a bitterly cold downtown graveyard before dawn on Sunday and raised a solitary monthly toast to the Democratic Party.

Continuing a 2-year tradition, the man, whose identity remains unknown, put his hand on the Democratic Party's tombstone, bowed, placed three red roses and a half-empty bottle of Martel cognac on the grave and then silently slipped back into the shadows.

A huge, pale-white moon glowed over the city, yet the man still eluded dozens people who waited in their cars or huddled together on the sidewalk outside the cemetery.

"To me, it's magic," said Jed Jarrett, national leader of the Democratic Party, who spent the night tucked inside a former Presbyterian church nearby with a small group of Dem party leaders he invited to watch the ritual. "It would be very easy to step out from our hiding place and expose him, but no one wants to ruin this mystery."

No one, not even Jarrett, who has watched the cemetery outside of Washington, D.C.'s Democratic Party headquarters every month on the 19th for the past two years, knows the identity of the so-called "Dem 2004 Candidate." The visit was first documented just a month after Al Gore's defeat in his 2000 presidential bid. For months, Jarrett says, it was the same frail figure.

Then, last December, the original visitor left a cryptic note saying, "The torch will be passed." Another note left later told Jarrett that the first man in black, who apparently died from wounds inflicted by the nation's mainstream media, had passed the tradition on to his rivals - Jarrett thinks there are either seven or eight to date. Such notes are the only communication anyone has had with the visitor.

A combination of respect, the visitor's cunning, and the chill of Washington on a January night kept the curious from uncovering the secret this time. "It's just this incredible rush of adrenaline when you see that he's made it again," said Anna Graft, a political science teacher at a high school in nearby Rockville, Maryland who has seen 12 toasts. "Even after all these months, it's a thrill."

The Democratic Party, which is best-known for poems and horror stories such as "The Black Court" and "Bush's Telltale Heart," died on the steps of the Supreme Court after collapsing, delirious. The circumstances of the Democratic Party's death remain unclear: some researchers have blamed a backbone disease, while others point to the late stages of moderation or to political road rage.

The visitor's three roses are thought to honor Al Gore, his vice-president running mate Joe Lieberman, and his close friend Bill Clinton, all of whom are remembered on the Party's graveyard tombstone. The significance of the cognac is a mystery.

"That he has kept this secret for two years is just so fascinating to me," said Sam Sincere, a ward healer from Philadelphia, Pa., who was seeing the toast for the first time Sunday. "For a fan of presidential politics, for a fan of mystery, it just doesn't get any better than this."

--AP, 01.20.03

Mr. Bush Confirms He Will Step Down As Texas Governor

By Bill Brasin
Bush Watch Writer
Tuesday, Nov. 23, 1999; 4:50 p.m. CST

AUSTIN –– Ending months of behind the scenes speculation, George W. Bush said today he is stepping down as Governor of Texas. "The answer is yes," he told surprised supporters. "I need to devote myself to the presidential campaign, full time."

He left no room for doubt in a news conference later: "It's time to get moving and get started," he said. "I'm traveling around the country and campaigning. I have no time for Texas"

Mr. Bush said he would make his resignation official in an announcement early next year.

The governor and his advisers engineered the announcement today to end speculation that he was abusing his elected position as Governor of Texas. They hoped that the development temporarily overshadows a string of political gaffes that have hindered his campaign; he came under heavy criticism for spending over $1 million of State of Texas money for protection and security as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination outside the borders of the Lone State State.

Mr. Bush has been under pressure from some Texas Republicans to quickly drop his mostly-symbolic position as governor and spend more time campaigning outside of Texas. Unlike the rest of the Republican candidates, Bush spends weekends at home in Texas and plans to be on vacation during December for more days than he will spend on the road.

Advisers said today's announcement was choreographed to head off Republican defections to McCain or Forbes. His likely Democrat challenger is either Al Gore or Bill Bradley.

Mr. Bush played down any connection between his political problems and the timing of today's announcement.

"I believe that this is time for me to answer a direct question (about his expenditures of Texas money for security while outside the state, his record of being out of the state on business days and returning for weekends and vacations, and his use of the Governor's Mansion for campaign activities) and I did so, because I believe that this campaign is about the issues that people are talking to me about," Mr. Bush said at a news conference after meeting with a group of anti-Hindu conservative Baptists.

Earlier, Sarah Stills , head of the United Federation of Religious School Teachers for Vouchers (UFIRST), had asked Mr. Bush, "Is it yes or is it no?" "The answer is yes," Mr. Bush said, clearly talking about the his decision to play fair with the citizens of Texas. "I intend to run full-time. I simply don't have time to attend to the many duties as Governor of Texas that the citizens elected me to do." Senior aides said the word "attend" was not meant to give Mr. Bush any wiggle room.

He broke the news to Media Advisor Karen Huge this morning. "He said, 'I'm running full-time,'" Huge told Bush Watch in a telephone interview. Senior adviser Karl Rover said, "He's running full-time."

Mr. Bush was in Austin today for his first appearance in the state in almost two days. He had been in New Hampshire feeding cows and grabbing lobsters.

"This cow eventually will shake my hand," he said in New Hampshire. Some hours later he pulled a lobster out of a tank at Larry's Lobster House. "This man looks like he's ready to cast a vote," he commented.

Looking calm and composed, Mr. Bush took several questions from reporters, including one about China's response to statements Bush read about in his foreign policy speech last week.

"I'm not going back," he replied. "I'm going forward."

He said his wife, Laura, and their twin daughters, were jogging around Austin's Town Lake so they didn't know about his announcement. "But I don't think they will be surprised."

He said he would welcome having his wife campaign full-time on his behalf rather than spending time serving as Texas' first-lady.

"We'll be moving out of the Governor's Mansion. We have a temporary suite at Austin's Four Seasons," he said. "My family background, my financial situation, and my code of ethics all tell me it's not right to take money from the people of Texas when we're not doing the job."

Mr. Bush said he will move into their new home in downtown Austin as soon as his newly-hired private security force signs off on its security system. After that, he will be in Austin, "from time to time," though reports over the years suggest that Bush has found the more liberal Austin less comfortable for him than his previous home in more conservative Dallas. The family is expected to eventually find lodgings near the Texas Rangers' Ballpark in Dallas.

"I just became more and more convinced that this is a campaign that needs to be made, that the issues at stake are important ones and I have a lot I want to say about it and so I'm looking forward with great anticipation to it," he said. "It's not right for me to spend full time on the campaign and pretend I'm still serving my fellow citizens as Governor of Texas.

Mr. Bush defended his aggressive fund-raising, and said it was legal and appropriate for Republican groups controlled by his financial backers to air ads that attack Forbes and appear to benefit his campaign even though his campaign didn't pay for them.

He dodged a question about the Log Cabin Republicans, saying the issue should be determined by that group and Reverend Jerry Falwell in so-called "final status" peace negotiations. He got into political hot water a few days ago by appearing to side with the anti-gay conservative Republicans. He also said he favors gay money and votes, but doesn't want to meet with gays in the Governor's Mansion or elsewhere.

BRASIN'S BEAT: DUBYA CHOOSES DEATH OVER TAXES. Last week Politex reported that Bush backs the GOP plan that is slated to give much of the 20-year, $2.8 trillion in tax cuts to our wealthiest citizens: "Bush called the House-passed tax bill 'in the right direction,' writes Matthew Miller in an LA Times syndicated column, 'thereby tacitly endorsing a sop to wealthy heirs--including himself and his kids.'" "What Miller is talking about," writes Politex, " is the Republican plan to eliminate estate taxes, a plan Miller thinks is filled with 'deceit, injustice, and hypocrisy.'" Miller feels that the GOP is framing the issue as being "populist," when, in reality, only those estates with a value over $650,000 are required to pay estate taxes. This means that only the wealthiest two percent in the country, Dubya's natural constituency according to his record of campaign donors, pay any estate tax at all. And since the wealthiest would want other taxpayers to pick up the $25 billion bill that the elimination of the estate tax will bring, one assumes that the less wealthy, say, the middle-class, will be asked to pick up the slack. Politex goes on to report that George has even learned GOP-speak with respect to this issue. He calls the estate tax the "death penalty." Ironically, it appears that eliminating estate taxes will not negate the "death penalty." Just the opposite. A study suggests that eliminating estate taxes will actually create a death penalty, and we're not talking metaphorically, here.

"As any good supply-sider knows, revenue raising is at best an incidental side effect of tax policy," opines Jodie T. Allen in a recent issue of Slate. "The real reason to raise or lower taxes is to 'incentivize' behavior. If you wish to discourage something (say, cigarette smoking), you tax the bejeezus out of it. If you wish to encourage something (say, the educating of children, or the realization of capital gains), you lower the tax on it. And if you can't get enough of something, you cut the tax to zero." Allen goes on to determine that House Ways and Means Committee chairman Bill Archer (R-Tex) "and his 196 Republican and 26 Democratic co-sponsors wish to encourage the supply of death. In the face of the current 55 percent tax rate on large estates, it's no wonder that most well-heeled Americans spend so much time and money avoiding the meeting with their Maker. With the prospect of Mr. Archer's zero tax rate, millions more Americans will decide to cash in their chips secure in the knowledge that Uncle Sam will not put his paw in the proceeds."

Slate fellow-reporter David Plotz decided to test the Allen theory against fact. To his surprise, he learned that her conclusions were correct. Plotz "obtained a chart of worldwide death-tax rates from the American Council for Capital Formation, grabbed life-expectancy data from, and got to work. Death tax rates in the 24 sampled nations ranged from 0 percent (Indonesia, China, India, and others) to 70 percent (Japan). Average life expectancy varied from 62 years in Indonesia to 80 years in Japan. Click here for all data. After much calculation and graphing, the amazing truth emerged: Low death taxes correlate with low life expectancy, and high death taxes correlate with high life expectancy." (The graph of the data may be seen at the beginning of this story.) Plotz concludes that his findings have "staggering implications for public policy. Death and taxes are no longer the inevitabilities of the human condition. In fact, Plotz's Theorem™ demonstrates that mankind can now choose death or taxes." On the basis of Plotz's findings, we believe that Bush will want to reconsider his support of the GOP plan to eliminate the estate tax, because no presidential candidate would want to be thought of as choosing death over taxes. 8/4-6/99

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