Friday, December 12, 2003

On long term planning... 

"There's nothing I am worse at than long-term planning. I have never run my life that way. I believe that serendipity or fate or divine intervention has led me to a series of wholly implausible steps in my life. And I've been open to those twists and turns because I didn't have a long-term plan."

-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Bush's head-up-his-ass disease manifests another symptom 

In yet another collosal blunder, Bush today sought help from the very allies he had slapped in the face just yesterday.

Jeebus, what an idiot.

President Bush found himself in the awkward position on Wednesday of calling the leaders of France, Germany and Russia to ask them to forgive Iraq's debts, just a day after the Pentagon excluded those countries and others from $18 billion in American-financed Iraqi reconstruction projects.

White House officials were fuming about the timing and the tone of the Pentagon's directive, even while conceding that they had approved the Pentagon policy of limiting contracts to 63 countries that have given the United States political or military aid in Iraq.

Many countries excluded from the list, including close allies like Canada, reacted angrily on Wednesday to the Pentagon action. They were incensed, in part, by the Pentagon's explanation in a memorandum that the restrictions were required "for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States."

The Russian defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, when asked about the Pentagon decision, responded by ruling out any debt write-off for Iraq.

The Canadian deputy prime minister, John Manley, suggested crisply that "it would be difficult" to add to the $190 million already given for reconstruction in Iraq.

White House officials said Mr. Bush and his aides had been surprised by both the timing and the blunt wording of the Pentagon's declaration. But they said the White House had signed off on the policy, after a committee of deputies from a number of departments and the National Security Council agreed that the most lucrative contracts must be reserved for political or military supporters.

Those officials apparently did not realize that the memorandum, signed by Paul D. Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, would appear on a Defense Department Web site hours before Mr. Bush was scheduled to ask world leaders to receive James A. Baker III, the former treasury secretary and secretary of state, who is heading up the effort to wipe out Iraq's debt. Mr. Baker met with the president on Wednesday.

Several of Mr. Bush's aides said they feared that the memorandum would undercut White House efforts to repair relations with allies who had opposed the invasion of Iraq.

White House officials declined to say how Mr. Bush explained the Pentagon policy to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, President Jacques Chirac of France and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany. France and Russia were two of the largest creditors of Saddam Hussein's government. But officials hinted, by the end of the day, that Mr. Baker might be able to show flexibility to countries that write down Iraqi debt.

"I can't imagine that if you are asking to do stuff for Iraq that this is going to help," a senior State Department official said late Wednesday.

A senior administration official described Mr. Bush as "distinctly unhappy" about dealing with foreign leaders who had just learned of their exclusion from the contracts.

Under the Pentagon rules, only companies whose countries are on the American list of "coalition nations" are eligible to compete for the prime contracts, though they could act as subcontractors. The result is that the Solomon Islands, Uganda and Samoa may compete for the contracts, but China, whose premier just left the White House with promises of an expanded trade relationship, is excluded, along with Israel.

Several of Mr. Bush's aides wondered why the administration had not simply adopted a policy of giving preference to prime contracts to members of the coalition, without barring any countries outright.

"What we did was toss away our leverage," one senior American diplomat said. "We could have put together a policy that said, `The more you help, the more contracts you may be able to gain.' " Instead, the official said, "we found a new way to alienate them."

A senior official at the State Department was asked during an internal meeting on Wednesday how he expected the move to affect the responses of Russia, France and Germany to the American request. He responded, "Go ask Jim Baker," according another senior official, who said of Mr. Baker, "He's the one who's going to be carrying the water, and he's going to be the one who finds out."

State of the Union Redux 


Saturday, December 06, 2003

Bush caught lying to his own base 

Bush's constant lies and overall lack of any principles whatsoever are starting to catch up with him.

MSNBC has the article.

The issue came to a boil this week, when White House economic aides summoned conservative economists to allow them to vent their rage. But according to participants, the session did little to dampen their anger. Joel D. Kaplan, the deputy director of the White House budget office, displayed a chart showing that, outside homeland security and defense, spending was falling. But under tough questioning, one participant recounted, Kaplan conceded that his figures did not include the series of “emergency” supplemental measures requested by Bush each year.


“In the last three years we’ve had the biggest farm bill, the biggest education bill, the biggest foreign aid bill and now the biggest health care bill in 30 years,” said Moore of the free-market Club for Growth. “There’s now not any pretense that Bush is committed to smaller government.”

Has Arnold broken yet another promise? 

I'm from Los Angeles. I work in Hollywood. I like people from Hollywood. Even Republican celebrities aren't all the conservative. Arnold is practically a liberal. So I wasn't thrilled he was running but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. What worried me was not his conservatism, but his incredibly unrealistic promises based on incredibly unrealistic and naive ideas.

So it comes as little surprise that the budget battle, the whole reason Arnold was elected in the first place, is proving more difficult than he though.

Governor OKs borrowing plan

Published 5:34 p.m. PST Friday, December 5, 2003
After saying for weeks there would be no option for putting a big bond measure on the spring ballot, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger quietly gave the green light Friday to a plan to borrow $10.7 billion without voter approval.

Last summer, the Legislature authorized the bond sale as part of the budget agreement signed by former Gov. Gray Davis. But taxpayer groups, as well as many Republican lawmakers, criticized the deal, saying borrowing of that magnitude should be approved by voters.

One group, the Pacific Legal Foundation, filed a lawsuit in September, arguing the proposal to sell $10.7 billion of deficit-financing bonds should be ruled invalid because of provisions in the California Constitution that prevents the Legislature from taking on more than $300,000 in long-term debt without approval of the voters.

Shortly after being elected in the Oct. 7 recall election, Schwarzenegger said voters should approve the bonds; he's since proposed a $15 billion bond measure as part of his budget package now being debated in the Legislature.

Schwarzenegger also said repeatedly he had no backup plan if lawmakers did not agree to put his bond measure or an alternative he approved on the ballot.

But Friday, members of the California Fiscal Recovery Financing Authority voted to move forward with the Davis bonds. The governor controls five of the seven members of the board.

Arthur Mark, attorney for the legal foundation, said that he was surprised that Schwarzenegger allowed the authority to move forward given his apparent commitment to putting the bonds to a vote.

"I really don't want to comment on the governor's policy decision here," Mark said. "But it did take us by surprise. We heard the same things you have from the administration about their plans for bond financing."

If Schwarzenegger and the Legislature push the $10.7 billion bond deal ahead, his group will maintain its legal challenge, Mark said.

Vince Sollitto, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger, said the governor remains committed to his budget package, especially the call to put the bond package before voters.

"The governor has said repeatedly that if we don't put the bond package on the ballot and the bonds are not sold, the state will be out of money in June," said Sollitto. "He is pushing hard to get his measure on the ballot."

Schwarzenegger doesn't consider the authority's action as providing the state with a backup to an agreement on the governor's budget package, Sollitto said. "The action today merely continues the bond portion of the existing budget."

Lawmakers have been locked in a tough fight over the governor's budget package since he called them back into special session two weeks ago. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree the $15 billion in bonds should go before voters, but the two sides are hung up over a spending cap.

--The Associated Press

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