Sunday, July 31, 2005

Corruption and our Vice President

Over the past 50 years presidents have been taken to task for a variety of reasons. Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for reelection:
on March 31, 1968, after the Tet Offensive, a narrow victory over Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary, the entry of Robert Kennedy into the presidential race, and new lows in the opinion polls, he announced, in an address to the nation, that he would no longer seek renomination for the presidency. He cited the growing division within the country over the war as his reason.
Then we have, of course, the defining scandal of Watergate:
Nixon was eventually investigated in relation to the burglary of the Democratic Party offices at the Watergate office complex, one of a series of scandals involving the Committee to Re-Elect the President (known as CRP but referred to by outsiders as CREEP), the White House enemies list and assorted "dirty tricks." .... Despite his efforts, one of the secret recordings, known as the "smoking gun" tape, was released on August 5, 1974 and revealed that Nixon authorized hush money to Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt, and also revealed that Nixon arranged for the blackmailing of the CIA into telling the FBI to stop investigating certain topics because of "the Bay of Pigs thing." .....In light of his loss of political support and the near certainty of both his impeachment by the House of Representatives and his conviction by the Senate, he resigned, effective August 9, 1974
Jimmy Carter had to deal with the Iran Hostage Crisis (quit possibly manipulated by the Reagan campaign). Of interest here is that he probably precipitated the crisis by giving asylum to the Shah of Iran, a guy about as popular as Ahmad Chalabi:
The subsequent responses to the crisis, from a "Rose Garden strategy" of staying inside the White House, to the unsuccessful attempt to rescue the hostages, were largely seen as contributing to defeat in the 1980 election....Although the Carter team had negotiated with the hostage takers for release of the hostages, an agreement trusting the hostages takers to abide by their word was not signed until January 19, 1981, after the election of Ronald Reagan.
Speaking of Ronald Reagan, we have the infamous, and poorly resolved, Iran Contra Affair. It is interesting to me that several participants in this illegal activity are prominent members or the Bush II Administration (Elliot Abrams comes to mind). Do I need to say anything about the farce of impeaching a president for a sexual dalliance? And don't tell me it was about lying to a grand jury. If you do, I'll make you sit through a Weight Watcher's meeting with Porky Rove (even if it is in Leavenworth with these guys).

Executive Staff - Leavenworth Penitentiary

Which brings us up to the current bunch of crooks. What has rankled with many of us is the brazen corruption that now pervades Washington now that all three branches of the Gov are controlled by the Cheney administration.
Billmon has taken up the cudgel that Molly Ivins has so ably wielded. She quotes from Ken Silverstein in "The Great American Pork Barrel:"
In the past two decades, the pastime has become breathtaking in its profligacy. Even as the federal deficit soars to record heights, the sums of money being diverted from the treasury have grown ever larger. Last year, 15,584 separate earmarks worth a combined $32.7 billion were attached to the appropriations bills -- more than twice the dollar amount in 2001 ... and more than three times the dollar amount in 1998, when roughly 2,000 earmarks totaled $10.6 billion. The process is so willfully murky that abuse has become not the exception, but the rule.
But it is the relationship of our Vice President (aptly named) that rankles the most. Here is a man who was CEO of Halliburton, the company that has benefited most from the Iraq War. He has remained on the payroll of Halliburton while still holding elected office!
A report by the Congressional Research Service undermines Vice President Dick Cheney's denial of a continuing relationship with Halliburton Co., the energy company he once led, Sen. Frank Lautenberg said Thursday.

The report says a public official's unexercised stock options and deferred salary fall within the definition of "retained ties" to his former company.
The company Halliburton is corrupt. The whole Iraq War is corrupt. Where else could $8 Billion ($8,000,000,000) go unaccounted for.
At the end of the Iraq war, vast sums of money were made available to the US-led provisional authorities, headed by Paul Bremer, to spend on rebuilding the country. By the time Bremer left the post eight months later, $8.8bn of that money had disappeared. (emphasis added)
The latest is that Tom Delay placed a stealth amendment in the Energy Bill. He did it after the conference was closed! And it benefits? You guessed it, dear old Halliburton (and of course, Delay's district, Sugar Land). Henry Waxman, my favorite hall monitor, is once again on the job:
At its essence, this provision is a $1.5 billion giveaway to the oil industry, Halliburton, and Sugar Land, Texas. The provision was inserted into the energy legislation after the conference was closed, so members of the conference committee had no opportunity to consider or reject this measure.
This is corruption. This makes Boss Tweed look like a piker. This is Tammany Hall and Teapot Dome in Capitol Letters. It is all about greed and money. No amount of hand waving will remove these egregious insults to our constitutional government and they will tarnish our Government for years.

And this when there are a lot of children starving in Darfur.

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