The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Friday, October 10, 2003

THE ERA OF KISS MY ASS -- Paul Krugman writes another winner about how conservatives who savaged President Clinton in the 1990s are now upset that liberals are being so rude to Mr Bush. Conservatives want more civility in politics, apparently. Better late than never, one might think, but then one should think again. As Krugman notes, this is far more than an attempt to change the rules as it suit the conservatives. The hatchet men and women of the right wing have not ceased their character assassination of liberals, but they insist that liberals must sheathe their own sharp knives.
But there's more going on than a simple attempt to impose a double standard. All this fuss about the rudeness of the Bush administration's critics is an attempt to preclude serious discussion of that administration's policies. For there is no way to be both honest and polite about what has happened in these past three years.

On the fiscal front, this administration has used deceptive accounting to ram through repeated long-run tax cuts in the face of mounting deficits. And it continues to push for more tax cuts, when even the most sober observers now talk starkly about the risk to our solvency. It's impolite to say that George W. Bush is the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history, but it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.

On the foreign policy front, this administration hyped the threat from Iraq, ignoring warnings from military professionals that a prolonged postwar occupation would tie down much of our Army and undermine our military readiness. (Joseph Galloway, co-author of "We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young," says that "we have perhaps the finest Army in history," but that "Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian aides have done just about everything they could to destroy that Army.") It's impolite to say that Mr. Bush has damaged our national security with his military adventurism, but it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.
Just so. Liberals need not sink to the oozing depths that the right wing inhabited during the 1990s [and still do today], but we must be honest about the literally countless policy errors and prevarications from the Bush regime. And to be honest, we must be impolite.

And if our honesty offends the right wing, I can only say this: Kiss my ass.

I don't want to seem uncivil, of course, but still...kiss my ass.

TRUTH, LIES & CONSEQUENCES -- If you did not see the "Frontline" documentary tonight called Truth, War, and Consequences about the policy battles prior to the Iraq War, you missed a very valuable program. It was 90 minutes of illumination, even though I knew almost all of it already. If you missed, try to catch it on the rebound. Until then, browse through the "Frontline" website and learn more about Truth, War & Consequences.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

BUSH RHETORIC v. UGLY REALITY -- Mr Bush has given a number of speeches today, beginning with two in New Hampshire. As usual, Mr Bush's speeches were filled with half-truth, deceptions, and outright lies. Read on...

“Any time we put our troops into harm's way, you must have the best training, the best equipment, the best possible pay.”
--President George W. Bush, 10/9/03

“The administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.”
--Army Times, 6/30/03

“When Bush taunted gunmen in Iraq, many GIs must have nervously tugged at their obsolete flak jackets. For many GIs, Iraq appears to be a strictly BYOB war -- Bring Your Own Bulletproofs. The shortages [of protective gear] come down to money and priorities. Gen. Richard B. Myers confirmed last week that it would be December before there were enough plates for all of our people in Iraq.”
--Op-Ed, Dallas Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 10/5/03


“Since the liberation of Iraq, our investigators have found evidence of a clandestine network of biological laboratories.”
--President George W. Bush, 10/9/03

“We have not yet been able to corroborate the existence of a mobile biological weapons production effort…Technical limitations would prevent any of these processes from being ideally suited to these trailers.”
--Bush Administration Weapons Inspector David Kay, 10/2/03


“Last month this economy exceeded expectations and added net new jobs.”
--President George W. Bush, 10/9/03

The White House Council of Economic Advisors set expectations when President Bush proposed his economic stimulus package. The council said his economic policies would create 344,000 new jobs per month – not the paltry 57,000 jobs that were created. All told, Bush has overseen the loss of almost 3 million jobs – the worst record since Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression.
--Economic Policy Institute

“I came to this office to confront problems directly and forcefully, not to pass them on to other Presidents and other generations.”
--President George W. Bush, 10/9/03

“When the Treasury Department tallies up final figures later this month, it is expected to show a federal budget deficit between $370 billion and $380 billion for 2003,” one of the biggest debts passed onto another generation in American history.
--Wall Street Journal, 10/9/03

“I proposed and signed these [tax] measures to help individuals and help families.”
--President George W. Bush, 10/9/03

The most recent CBS News/New York Times poll shows that “despite three tax cuts in as many years, only 19 percent [of Americans surveyed] said Bush's policies made their taxes go down. Forty-seven percent noticed no effect, while 29 percent perceived that their taxes have gone up.”
--Washington Post, 10/7/03

“Almost half of all American taxpayers will get less than $100 this year and next from President Bush’s most recent tax plan. In 2005, three-quarters of taxpayers will get less than $100, and in 2006 and later years almost nine out of ten will get less than $100.”
--Citizens for Tax Justice, 5/30/03

Source: American Progress Center

MORONS WITH BAD IDEAS -- Someone thought the Monopoly-ish board game below would be a neat idea. It is called Ghettopoly and it involves "playas" rather than players and the game cards read like this: "You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50."

Some black activists find it so insulting and racist that they want it banned. I just want it shunned.

VIEWS OF GAY MARRIAGE CHANGING... -- for the better. But still a long way to go. Have a look.

"Just your best guess, do you think that allowing two people of the same sex to legally marry will change our society for the better, will it have no effect, or will it change our society for the worse?"

WORSE: 40%

"Do you think gay or lesbian couples should or should not be allowed all the same legal rights as married couples in every state, or does it not matter to you?"


"Do you support or oppose allowing homosexual couples to form civil unions that are not marriages, but would give gay couples rights such as inheritance, insurance and hospital visiting privileges?"



POPE'S NOBLE STAND TO EARN NOBEL? -- The exitable Italian press is all atwitter with speculation that Pope John Paul II will win the Nobel Prize for peace because of his principled opposition to the Iraq War. Wouldn't that be hilarious? Here's hoping...

FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! -- The New York Times weighs in with an editorial about the war of words and control being waged in the executive branch right now. It began with the White House v. CIA over the Plame affair, which is still going on. It continued this week with new protagonists, with word that control of post-war Iraq would shift from the Pentagon and Mr Rumsfeld to the White House and NSA Condoleeza Rice. Mr Rumsfeld claimed to have discovered the power shift from news reports, though the White House insists a memo from Ms Rice was sent to Mr Rumsfeld. Speaking in Colorado to European journalists earlier this week, Mr Rumsfeld rudely informed the assembled foreign hacks that he had not been consulted about the shift and clearly was not pleased.
Mr. Rumsfeld's rebellion was touched off by David Sanger's report in The Times on Monday that the White House was reorganizing the control of postwar Iraq and Afghanistan under the wing of Ms. Rice. That did not sit well at the Pentagon. It saw the switch, correctly, as an attempt to suggest that the hawkish Mr. Rumsfeld was being edged aside in the face of criticism that Mr. Bush does not have an adequate plan for Iraq.

Pentagon officials say there is less here than meets the eye. But Mr. Rumsfeld took the trouble in an interview, with newspapers in Europe no less, to make his disdain for the White House power grab quite clear. Mr. Rumsfeld said he had known nothing of the reorganization until he read news accounts. He dismissed Ms. Rice's memo describing the move as a restatement of the obvious, which is that the National Security Council is supposed to "coordinate" (translation: not run) this sort of thing.

But White House officials say Mr. Rumsfeld did know about the change and bristled at his swipe at Ms. Rice. Well, Pentagon aides said in reply, Ms. Rice may have sent a memo. But she sends so many memos, how can a busy defense chief remember them all? Someone at the White House, they say, is lamely trying to mute criticism of postwar policy at Mr. Rumsfeld's expense. Secretary of State Colin Powell's team is delighted. While Mr. Rumsfeld has insisted on total control in Iraq, Mr. Powell's aides see the Rice memo as giving him more say.

As entertaining as all this is to fans of Washington psychodramas, there are important decisions to be made about postwar Iraq and not a lot of reassurance so far that they are being made correctly. If Ms. Rice's memo signals a real attempt to exercise political control over the violence and instability in Iraq, that would be welcome. But so far, the grandly named Iraq Stabilization Group seems more like an attempt to substitute title-building for nation-building--reminiscent of this administration's announcement that it was dealing with unemployment by creating a new assistant secretary post at the Labor Department.
Pardon me if I laugh a bit. And gloat. This shift of control from Mr Rumsfeld to Ms Rice--if it means anything at all--amounts to no more than shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

RIGHT-WING COMMENT OF THE DAY -- "If I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would."
--Kendel Ehrlich, First Lady of Maryland, ironically, at a conference to prevent domestic violence against women

TAKING LIBERTIES -- Libertarians have often voted with and for the Republican party, mostly due to the old GOP slogan about smaller government. However, the Bush regime's toxic brew of eternal war abroad and civil liberties clampdowns at home has alienated many libertarians and for the first time, many are questioning their loyalty to the Republican party. Some may even vote for a Democrat in 2004, especially Howard Dean [D-VT].

ANOTHER BLUNDER AT THE U.N. -- The Bush regime's neocon plans for a future Iraq are so anathema to the rest of the planet and the U.N. Security Council that agreement on a new U.N. resolution for Iraq seems remote and the administration may abandon attempts to secure a broad international agreement.
Originally, the administration said United Nations approval of American plans for the next phase of postwar Iraq would encourage other countries to contribute money or troops. Now the tone has shifted to one of living without such help, if necessary.
The new pessimism about winning United Nations support results from the cool reception accorded to the administration's most recent draft on Iraqi self-government, which was supposedly redrawn to take into account suggestions of Security Council members.

What little momentum there was behind the American proposal was deflated after the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, disclosed his own reservations last week, much to the surprise of administration officials.

Mr. Annan, according to diplomats who have talked to him, essentially takes the view of the French that the violent attacks on Americans in Iraq would subside once an interim Iraqi government was established, perhaps in a matter of months.
So, it increasingly appears that American soldiers will continue to be the favored target of Iraqi resistance and American dollars will be poured endlessly down this Middle East sinkhole.

VENTURA THE MIDGET -- Once upon a time, former wrestler and former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura was the darling of the news talk shows. Boy, have things changed! Mr Ventura now has his own show on MSNBC, "Jesse Ventura's America," but instead of being a nightly affair, Mr Ventura's show is relegated to 6 PM on Saturdays, not exactly prime viewing time. How did Jesse Get so small so fast? A look at the ratings confirms the validity of that question. Mr Ventura's show opened with an audience of 194,000--a tiny number. Meanwhile, FOX News was pulling in 841,000 people and CNN 553,000 during the same time slot.

WHY DO THEY HATE US? -- Americans have been asking that question a lot lately. Pop icon Elton John as a two-word answer for us: Dennis Miller.

CENSORED...BUT NOT BY ME -- Responding to complaints from the U.S. State Department that two animated cartoons on the Al Jazeera website were "inflammatory," the Arab network removed the cartoons. Look for yourself.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Some exciting games this weekend [and Monday night] narrowed the list of unbeaten teams to four and those clubs find themselves in the best position possible: Atop the prestigious BB Power Poll. Congratulations to the winners. To the losers: The NFL is a fickle mistress. Come back next week.

01. Kansas City Chiefs [5-0]: Another week, another win, another Dante Hall highlight film. There is no more exciting football player in the world than Dante Hall! [No change]

02. Indianapolis Colts [5-0]: Two weeks ago, Dungy's team won big in New Orleans . Last night, they came back big to win an overtime squeaker in Tampa Bay . This team must be butter 'cause it is on a roll! [+1]

03. Minnesota Vikings [5-0]: Defense didn't play well against Atlanta , but the Vikings are scoring almost at will on offense. And they've done it without Daunte Culpepper the last two games. [+4]

04. Carolina Panthers [4-0]: Stephen Davis must be on everyone's short list for MVP. Getting out of Washington is looking like one of the best things he's ever done. [+5]

05. Miami Dolphins [3-2]: Back-to-back wins in the Meadowlands have Miami back atop the AFC East. [+3]

06. Denver Broncos [4-1]: Clinton Portis is almost unstoppable and there is no shame in losing to the Chiefs by a mere one point. That rematch should be a doozy. [-1]

07. Tampa Bay Buccaneers [3-2]: Hint: There are 60 minutes in an NFL game. [-5]

08. Tennessee Titans [3-2]: Steve McNair showed up. Where was the defense? [-2]

09. Green Bay Packers [3-2]: When Ahman Green and Brett Favre are both playing well, the Green Bay offense is almost unstoppable. [+5]

10. Seattle Seahawks [3-1]: Ouch! Holmgren's old team drops a major league smackdown on his new team. That one is going to leave a mark. [-6]

11. Buffalo Bills [3-2]: Held on to defeat an unexpectedly tough Bengals team, but the Buffalo offense from the first two weeks appears to be AWOL. [No change]

12. New England Patriots [3-2]: Huge win over Titans rescues the season. Never, ever, ever count out Bill Belichick . [+3]

13. Philadelphia Eagles [2-2]: They still don't look like the old Eagles, but these dirty birds are back. [+3]

14. St. Louis Rams [2-2]: Brenda Warner spent bye week running her mouth on talk radio. Actually, that's how she spends every week. [-2]

15. Dallas Cowboys [3-1]: First place? [+5]

16. New York Giants [2-2]: The G-men have lost two games at home this year. Just when the NFC East seemed to be on its way back, mediocrity rears its ugly head. [-6]

17. Baltimore Ravens [2-2]: Brian Billick spent bye week looking in the mirror and saying: "You are a sexy beast, baby!" [No change]

18. Washington Redskins [3-2]: Had been feasting off injured teams. Last week, they could not even do that. Here's a tip: Get ready to face a lot of blitzing. This team is not ready for prime time, folks. [-5]

19. San Francisco 49ers [2-3]: A tough win over their old coach holds the dogs off for another week, but the Niners are just a couple months away from another rebuilding project. [+2]

20. Cleveland Browns [2-3]: Tim Couch is playing himself back into a job. Beating archrival Pittsburgh should win him a few hearts in Cleveland . [+4]

21. Houston Texans [2-2]: Dom Capers spent bye week looking for other guys in the Houston area called "Dom." So far, no luck. [+1]

22. Pittsburgh Steelers [2-3]: The Steel Curtain lies in pieces. [-4]

23. Cincinnati Bengals [1-3]: Another tough loss, this one to Buffalo . Marvin Lewis has these guys playing hard, but they're not quite there yet. A healthy Corey Dillon would help. [No change]

24. Oakland Raiders [2-3]: Time to break this team up and start again. Hopefully, all those extra draft picks acquired for Jon Gruden will pay off. [-5]

25. New Orleans Saints [1-4]: The league's most disappointing team continues to disappoint. [No change]

26. Atlanta Falcons [1-4]: Vick cannot get back soon enough. [No change]

27. Arizona Cardinals [1-4]: Emmitt is just embarrassing himself now. It's like Johnny Unitas finishing his career in San Diego . [No change]

28. Detroit Lions [1-4]: Mooch isn't ready to beat his old Niners crew. Not yet. [No change]

29. Jacksonville Jaguars [1-4]: You only get a bump of one place for beating Moldy Marty Schottenheimer and his lame Chargers. [+1]

30. Chicago Bears [1-3]: Beating Oakland is not as impressive as it was last year, but scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter to do got my attention. [+2]

31. New York Jets [0-4]: No hanging chads here. Just hanging on until Chad . Oh, what could have been? What could have been? [-2]

32. San Diego Chargers [0-5]: For the second time in three years, Marty Schottenheimer is the head coach of a team that began the season with five straight losses. I wonder how many coaches of non-expansion teams have ever done that. The Chargers should fire Marty now. He's done. [-1]

EARLY CA EXIT POLL -- A source of mine in California just e-mailed me with the information that his exit polls reveal the following numbers:
For Recall 57%
For Schwarzenegger 47%
For Bustamante 34%

We'll see if that holds up, but it is about what I expected.

FROM CALI TO DC -- Conservative Newsweek columnist Howard Fineman has thinks the forces impelling California recall post a direct threat to GW Bush.
But in an odd but important way, an Arnold victory could be an ominous message for President Bush. There is a straight line of voter protest running from Ross Perot through John McCain and on to the Internet-based campaigns of Wesley Clark and even Howard Dean. To some extent, all were or are powered by a sense of voter alienation from the centers of authority in government politics — whether those center are in Sacramento or Washington, D.C. The bigger and more remote the government, the more ignored and misunderstood the voters feel.
I think he's correct.

SENATOR'S WIFE ABDUCTED -- The wife of Senator Judd Gregg [R-NH] was abducted at gunpoint from inside her home in suburban Virginia today. I just heard this from NPR radio.

UPDATE: NPR is reporting that Ms Gregg was forced to withdraw money from her bank and give it to her abductors. She complied and was released unharmed. It does not appear her abducters knew her identity. The suspects fled in a silver Le Sabre automobile and are being hunted by the police.

SENATOR NICKLES TO RETIRE -- Following the "Hillary for Prez" non-story over at Daily Kos, I came upon this little nugget and I'm embarrassed I didn't have it earlier. Anyway, Senator Don Nickles [R-OK] will retire after four terms in the Senate when his present term is completed in 2004. Senator Nickles was once a strong contender to be Senate Majority Leader, but was beaten out by Senator Trent Lott [R-MI] and Senator Bill Frist [R-TN]. A Democrat, Rep. Brad Carson, is interested in running for the vacated seat next year. Let's hope the Dems can manage to wage a decent race here. At the very least, force the Republicans to spend some real money and effort to retain their Senate seat in the heart of GOP-land. At best, win the seat outright for the Dem party.

WELL, WELL, WELL -- Is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton [D-NY] running for president in 2004? Maybe. Have a look.

Via Daily Kos.

UPDATE: Here is the skinny on this. The filing was done by a man named Eric Leonard in Arlington, Virginia. It is a Draft Hillary effort and has no official ties to the Senator. Mr Leonard is registered at 5041 7th Road South, Suite 201. Mr Leonard is calling himself the treasurer of this effort. Now, who is this Mr Eric Leonard? Well, could it be the Eric Leonard who writes for the extreme right-wing "news" website Newsmax? Seems more than possible, doesn't it? [Mr Leonard also works for KFI AM Radio and is, from time to time, cited by the mouth-breathers over at Free Republic.]

To me, this looks like an effort by a right-wing crank to generate a news story.

ANOTHER BLOODY DAY IN IRAQ -- Roadside bombings have killed three U.S. servicemen and wounded six in Iraq. An Iraqi interpreter was also killed in the attacks. Drip drip drip.

BOB GRAHAM IS OUT -- Senator Bob Graham [D-FL] has wisely decided to end his presidential candidacy, citing lack of funds. His abysmal ratings in the polls were probably the most important factor, though. A wise decision on Senator Graham's part. He recognized the obvious and inevitable and did not prolong the agony. Well done.

Monday, October 06, 2003

THEY DID SO WELL ON THE OTHER STUFF -- The news that the Bush regime will try to get control of Iraq by centralizing responsibility for the occupation within the White House somehow leaves me less than convinced our troubles are over in the Middle East. All this means is that one of the worst liars in this administration, Condoleeza Rice, will have more power than ever. Aside from a lack of honesty, however, we're also facing a serious lack of competence. I mean, putting the Iraq project under the rubric of the White House means turning over policy to the those responsible for the invasion, the lack of planning for everything after the invasion, or energy policies, our taxation policies, our economic policies. In other words, the White House message is
The New Iraq Policy: Brought to you by the same people who gave you the old Iraq policy!
Feel better yet?

MR BUSH DOES NOT LIKE "SUICIDER"S -- TBogg explains what that joke in the White House meant.

Do you have confidence in George W. Bush's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis, or are you uneasy about his approach?"

"Do you have confidence in George W. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the nation's economy, or are you uneasy about his approach?"

"Do you think George W. Bush has the same priorities for the country as you have, or not?"
SAME: 41%

"In general, do you think the policies of the Bush Administration favor the rich, favor the middle class, favor the poor, or do they treat all groups the same?"
RICH: 60%
POOR: 1%

Source: CBS News/New York Times poll. [Margin of error: 3%]

And in one-on-one battles between Mr Bush and a Democrat:
BUSH: 44%

Critically, however, a plurality of political independents have now turned against Mr Bush.

INDEPENDENTS on Bush v. Democrat
BUSH: 34%

Source: CBS News/New York Times poll. [Margin of error: 3%]

WHETHER OR NOT THE DINGO ATE THE BABY... -- it now faces extinction through hunting and cross-breeding with other dogs. Let's hope the Australlian authorities do something to prevent this tragedy.

BUSH REGIME: $600M FOR MORE WMD SEARCHES -- It has been suspected that the Bush regime was demanding an extra $600 million for more WMD searches in Iraq. Now we know that it is the truth, confirmed in Iraq today by Senator Mitch McConnell [R-KY].
"Yes, it is about $600 million," he said, without providing detail. Asked whether he would vote for such an amount, he replied, "I think so, yes." The Kay effort is reported to have cost $300 million so far.

Of Kay's negative report, McConnell said, "I think we were all somewhat surprised that the only evidence that's been found so far is programs possibly, but not actual weapons."

He contended that "everybody, even those who did not agree with our decision to go to war with Iraq," believed Iraq had chemical or biological weapons.

A fellow delegation member, Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-RI, disagreed. "I did have a quote in the paper in March of this year saying, `I don't think they're going to find any weapons of mass destruction,'" he said. Chafee voted against the congressional resolution authorizing war against Iraq.
Exactly! Senator Chaffee predicted we would find no WMD and many others said/wrote that even if some WMD were found, there was no evidence that Saddam posed an imminent threat to the United States or any of its allies. But removing Saddam was not intended to remove an imminent threat. It was intended to restructure the Middle East through a radical act of destruction. [And provide a fat load of "reconstruction" contracts to companies allied with the Bush regime.] This is another $600 million for Mr Bush's fruitless snipe hunt.

ROBERTSON PIGGYBACKS ON RUSH -- Pat Robertson took a break from begging little old ladies to send them their Social Security checks in return for a passage to make this remark on his hideous television chat show:
"He started off playing a chauffeur in 'Driving Miss Daisy,' and then they elevated him to head of the CIA, and then they elevated him to president and in his last role they made him God. I just wonder, isn't Rush Limbaugh right to question the fact, is he that good an actor or not?"
-- Televangelist Pat Robertson on "The 700 Club"
I think that one speaks for itself.

MILITARY STRETCHED TO THE BRINK -- In the new issue of Time magazine, Joe Klein writes about the logistical pressure the Iraq occupation is putting upon the U.S. military.
The military pressures are quite serious. The Army will face a troop-replacement crisis in March, when several units are scheduled to rotate home. A few weeks ago, the Congressional Budget Office found that the Army would be able to maintain a force of only 67,000 to 106,000 troops after that, unless the tours of the 150,000 currently serving in Iraq are extended or significant numbers of National Guards, reservists and Marines are rotated in or significant foreign help is found, which is unlikely. "We'll get it done somehow," a military source told me, with a sigh. But the long-term damage to U.S. military readiness--and national security--could be serious. "We can't sustain these troop levels for more than another year or so," an Administration official told me.
This does not seem to be the sort of thing the Bush regime considered before invading Iraq. They believed the occupation would go swimmingly, with hordes of young Iraqis pledging their lives to George W Bush and begging Halliburton to build things all over the country. Obviously, it has not gone that way. Right now and for the forseeable future, the U.S. military will be paying the price for the Bush regime's gross arrogance and incompetence. Let us hope that Mr Bush and his corrupt crowd of liars also pay a price--on Election Day 2004.

ARNIE STILL LEADING... -- but gap is narrowing in the wake of all these allegations of sexual molestation.

WAR PROFITEERS -- We know who is not profitting from the Iraq War: American taxpayers. So who is making money from the war--especially the "rebuilding" of Iraq? Well, Dick Cheney's old firm, Halliburton, appears to be doing quite nicely out of it all, thank you very much.
Now, six months after the United States toppled Saddam Hussein, there is mounting scrutiny of Halliburton's Iraq contracts, which total $3.1 billion and grow by the day. The contracts look suspect to some critics, given Halliburton's past overcharges to the government, its ties to Cheney and the absence of competitive bidding for a $1.4 billion oilfields contract.

At the same time, Cheney, the vice president since January 2001, faces renewed criticism for getting nearly $368,000 in deferred salary from a company that is profiting so handsomely from a war he helped launch.

Not surprisingly, many of the critics are Democrats. Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, brandishing a Congressional Research Service report that he said proves the vice president's ongoing financial ties to Halliburton, urged Cheney on Sept. 25 to come clean.

"I ask the vice president to stop dodging the issue with legalese and acknowledge his continued financial ties with Halliburton to the American people," Lautenberg said.

Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, wrote White House budget director Joshua Bolten on Tuesday to inquire about "waste and gold-plating" in Iraq.

"Too much money appears to be going to Halliburton and Bechtel while costing the U.S. taxpayer millions and imperiling the goal of Iraqi reconstruction," Waxman wrote.

Bechtel, a San Francisco-based engineering and construction company, has a $1 billion contract from a State Department agency to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure apart from the oil industry. That contract also is likely to grow.

Beyond Bechtel, a number of other companies -- including RTI International in Research Triangle Park -- have landed smaller contracts. But Halliburton is so dominant that it's hardly a stretch to call it the general contractor of the Iraq war and its aftermath.

Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, has received $1.7 billion so far under a broad-based, competitively bid Pentagon contract signed in December 2001 for an array of military support services in and around Iraq. The contract, which is annually renewable through 2011, has no cap on spending.

Under a separate contract awarded in March -- without seeking bids from other companies -- the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is paying Halliburton $1.4 billion to rebuild Iraq's oil industry. Halliburton is one of four firms competing for another massive oil services contract that the Corps expects to announce any day.
Naturally, the White House and Pentagon are loathe to discuss this matter and say the issue has not resonated with the American people. [Apparently, that is supposed to mean it does not matter.] The issue might resonante, however, if Democrats in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail made it a staple of all their speeches.

Hint, hint.


RUSH ON DRUGS -- Literally and figuratively. Roger Ailes [not the evil one] has some relevant quotes--straight from the ass's mouth.

PREACHER MOCKS DEATH OF MATT SHEPHERD -- You may recall the name of Matthew Shepherd. He was the young man who was tied to a fence and beaten to death in rural Wyoming by two men because he was gay. Fred Phelps is a Christian preacher who runs a group called God Hates Fags. At Mr Shepherd's funeral, Mr Phelps and others of his group demonstrated outside the cemetery, shouting anti-gay slogans and declaring that Mr Shepherd had been murdered in accordance with God's law. It has not ended there. Reverend Phelps now plans to erect a monument to Mr Shepherd.
But, the monument will be no memorial. Phelps says the monument would be 5 to 6 feet tall and made of marble or granite. It would bear a bronze plaque bearing the image of Shepard and have an inscription reading "MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22."

The monument would be erected in downtown Casper, Shepard's home town.
Here is a look at the proposed monument. It may be found at Reverend Phelp's website,

GENERAL CLARK RAISES $3.5M -- And he did it in only a few weeks. Most of General Clark's money was raised on the Internet and his total will top the fundraising efforts of other candidates, like Senators John Edwards [D-NC] and Bob Graham [D-FL] who have been in the race for months.

TOM TOMMOROW... -- on the perfect storm bearing down on the Bush regime.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

DID BLAIR KNOW SADDAM WAS NO IMMINENT THREAT? -- Robin Cook, a former British cabinet member who resigned over the Iraq War, wrote in his diaries that Tony Blair admitted to him he knew Iraq posed no imminent threat. The diaries are being published in The Sunday Times [subscription required].
"I have no reason to doubt that Tony Blair believed in September 2002 that Saddam really had weapons of mass destruction ready for firing within 45 minutes. What was clear from this conversation was that he did not believe it himself in March this year," Cook said.
There is no way Mr Cook can prove this conversation took place, of course, but an accusation like this, coming from a respected Labour MP, is bound to further reduce Mr Blair's popularity within his own party and the nation as a whole.

HALLE BERRY DUMPS HER HUSBAND... -- ...citing marital difficulties. [Why else would one separate from one's spouse: marital pleasantness?] This does not mean any of us have a chance with Ms Berry, though. Well, all of you have no chance. I do. Sure I do.

ANOTHER BUSH LIE: OIL -- Prior to the Iraq War, various members of the Bush regime repeatedly assured the American public that our taxpayers would not be stuck with the bill for Iraqi reconstruction. Iraq sits on a giant lake of oil and the Bush regime told us they would be able to pay for their own reconstruction. Some of us did not believe it even then. Unfortunately, too many people did believe it. As we now know, this was not yet another mistake, a further example of Bush regime incompetence. N o, this was yet another lie. A Pentagon task force warned the Bush regime of this problem long before the war.
The task force, which was based at the Pentagon as part of the planning for the war, produced a book-length report that described the Iraqi oil industry as so badly damaged by a decade of trade embargoes that its production capacity had fallen by more than 25 percent, panel members have said.

Despite those findings, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told Congress during the war that "we are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."

Moreover, Vice President Dick Cheney said in April, on the day Baghdad fell, that Iraq's oil production could hit 3 million barrels a day by the end of the year, even though the task force had determined that Iraq was generating less than 2.4 million barrels a day before the war.

Now, as the Bush administration requests $20.3 billion from Congress for reconstruction next year, the chief reasons cited for the high price tag are sabotage of oil equipment — and the poor state of oil infrastructure already documented by the task force.
And in typical fashion, the Bush regime is not willing to admit that it has been caught in yet another obvious lie.
The administration now plays down the report's findings.

Senior administration officials said that Mr. Cheney, Mr. Wolfowitz and Donald H. Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, were aware of the oil group's overall mission, but that they could not say whether they knew of its specific findings.
The lies never end with this administration. They just never end.