Tuesday, July 16, 2002

A powerful asset

The Israeli cabinet backs off the apartheid plan. For now.

The US is not only training a new central Afghan army, but also little proxy units to go after Al Qaida. These units are connected with local warlords and not under the central government’s control, and are paid more (by the US, I’m assuming), which means that the central army training programs are being deserted (at least 1/3). So the US is not only helping create private armies, but actively undermining its own puppet central government.

Two of the NY Times columnists in the Tuesday paper focus on Bush’s past economic history, Kristof noting that when the Rangers coerced Arlington into seizing private property for their ballpark, they added to the list properties they wanted to re-sell for a profit (after getting them at compulsory knock-down prices). Krugman focuses on the funds of the U of Texas, which Bush effectively privatized and whose dealings he made secret, so that many (unprofitable) deals were made with cronies, one of whom was Bush himself. He also notes that Bush’s fellow-owners of the Rangers gave him $12 million more than his investment entitled him to, out of the goodness of their hearts, and not because he was the son of the presidents. This is all familiar if you read Molly Ivins’s columns, but bears repeating.

Bush, meanwhile, is calling the current economic slump a “hangover” after an “economic binge.” Far be it for me to contradict Dubya on a subject he knows so much about, hangovers, but what’s he suggesting? That the economic growth of the Clinton years was unhealthy? That all stocks are horribly over-valued and need to come down? That the boast that everyone is a stock-holder now suggests that everyone is a drunken rube now? Actually, the truth is that Clinton’s Justice Dept was even less likely to punish corporate crime than the previous admin (or environmental crimes or...). Is he suggesting that Clinton was soft on white collar criminals? It would be amusing to hear him say it aloud. And rare indeed to hear him say “Clinton” out loud.

When Bush sold his Harken stocks, it was 2 months after he’d signed a promise not to for 6 months. This makes his claim that his sale was unrelated to insider knowledge about the company’s crappy performance, and that he’d always intended to sell to finance the Rangers deal, is that much less believable. The Bushies say that the promise was related to a planned public stock offering and that when it fell through the promise no longer needed to be kept.
Which would mean that Bush knew that the company was in trouble, so even their explanation points to insider trading.

Cheney, who did pretty much the same exact thing with Halliburton stock, is being sued, but, according to Ari Fleischer, “The Vice-President continues to be a powerful asset for the country and the President.” Another example of bad accountancy. There may also be a little fuss over the billions a division of Halliburton is now earning providing support services for the military, at much more money than it would cost the Pentagon to do it itself. The company got into this business after Cheney, the Elder Bush’s defense secretary, changed the rules to allow it...

The government gets John Walker Lindh to plead guilty, armed only with an illegal confession, a raftload of false charges they could never have proven in court, the knowledge that he’d be convicted in this environment whether they proved their charges or not, and a judge hand-picked for his willingness to allow in unconstitutional evidence. The system worked. He pleaded guilty to carrying hand grenades in Afghanistan, which I find hard to believe is against American law, and working with the Taliban, which ditto. Also, he’s supposed to cooperate in giving intelligence to the government. If little Johnny Taliban knows anything that the CIA still doesn’t know, you have to be wondering what they’ve been doing the last 10 months.

Bush proposes to set up cells to think like terrorists and plan attacks. And in a couple of years they’ll have skills they can take with them into the private sector.

From the Telegraph: A quadriplegic man is suing the Wildside strip club in West Palm Beach, Florida, for allegedly breaking the law by not providing wheelchair access to the lap-dancing room.

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