From today’s Washington Post:
UNITED NATIONS, July 15 — The Bush administration is withholding information from U.N.-sanctioned auditors examining more than $1 billion in contracts awarded to Halliburton Co. and other companies in Iraq without competitive bidding, the head of the international auditing board said Thursday.
Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, the U.N. representative to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB), said that the United States has repeatedly rebuffed his requests since March to turn over internal audits, including one that covered three contracts valued at $1.4 billion that were awarded to Halliburton, a Texas-based oil services firm. It has also failed to produced a list of other companies that have obtained contracts without having to compete.
The Security Council established the IAMB, which includes representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in May 2003 to ensure that Iraq’s oil revenue would be managed responsibly during the U.S. occupation. The council extended its mandate in July so it could continue to monitor the use of Iraq’s oil revenue after the United States transferred political authority to the Iraqis in June.
The dispute comes as the board released an initial audit by the accounting firm KPMG on Thursday that sharply criticized the U.S.-led coalition’s management of billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenue. The audit also raised concerns about lax financial controls in some Iraqi ministries, citing poor bookkeeping and duplicate payments of salaries to government employees.
The Pentagon did not specifically answer questions about withholding information to auditors, but released a statement saying the Coalition Provisional Authority worked hard to manage Iraq’s oil resources.
Yet another conservative judicial candidate is stooping to racist tactics in an effort to get elected to the Georgia State Supreme Court so he can spread the love. The AJC’s Cynthia Tucker is on him.
Until last Friday, the campaign for the Georgia Supreme Court had been a rather one-sided affair. While the incumbent, Justice Leah Sears, has run a staid and dignified campaign — of the sort you might expect from a jurist — her challenger, attorney Grant Brantley, has hurled a list of clichéd charges at her: She’s too liberal; she’s anti-family values; she hates little old church ladies and small children. (OK, he hasn’t said she hates little old church ladies and small children, but you get the picture.) Last Friday’s debate, however, brought a bit of balance to the picture. Sears remained staid and dignified. But Brantley was outed for playing the race card.
Richard Gard, editor and publisher of the Fulton County Daily Report, started the evening by asking Brantley about one of his more peculiar campaign tactics:
“What possible justification can you give for putting [Sears’] photograph on your campaign fliers if not to telegraph to voters that she is the black woman in this race and you’re the white man?”
Brantley answered truthfully — whether he intended to or not.
“If she puts it on her brochure, then I see nothing wrong with putting it on my brochure . . . so there is no question about who my opponent is,” he said.
Candidates often excoriate their opponents’ voting records, minimize their experience and demean their contributions to public life, but they almost never broadcast photos of their opponents. The last time a local politician went to similar lengths was in 1994, when Mitch Skandalakis, then the chairman of the Fulton County Commission, tried to help a fellow Republican unseat a black Democratic commissioner, Gordon Joyner. Skandalakis helped to finance a brochure that featured a doctored image of Joyner — eyes askew, with an Afro and a distended lower lip. The brochure was mailed to 100,000 households in the county.
The race-baiting was ugly then, and it’s ugly now.
This is the sort of thing right-wing Pubs do routinely all over the South. This sort of racist pandering is why Bush needed to address the NAACP if only to distance himself from it and condemn it. And this sort of racist pandering is the reason he refused to give that address–he has no intention of distancing himself from it, and far from condemning it, the RNC is using tactics like this wherever they think they will work.
Bush’s people, attempting to explain why he was the first President in 50 years to refuse to address the NAACP, said first that it was ‘irrelevant’ and then asked why Bush should address a ‘hostile’ group? ‘Because that’s what Presidents are supposed to do’ probably wouldn’t cut much ice with them as an answer. It’s typical–and becoming more obviously so–that this president thinks he’s the president only of the people who support with him; if you don’t? In the immortal words of Little Dick–‘Go fuck yourself.’ Junior feels no need to convince all the people, or even most of them, that he’s their president too because he doesn’t consider that he is.
And then he wonders why black folk don’t support him.
The GOP convention, it seems, is a bonanza for sex workers.
“Bo, there’s so many strippers and hookers in town to play ‘hide the WMD’ with these conservatives, it would make Larry Flynt proud. They flew in from London, Seattle, L.A., all over, just for this, because demand is so high.””Wow! Wait wait wait, I’m confused. Aren’t the Republicans supposed to be the ‘moral,’ sex-hating, anti-women, Bible-quoting ones? I don’t get it.”
“Worst-kept secret in all of politics, Bo. It’s a fact: Demand for sex workers is at an all-time high when the GOP convention’s in town. Hell, there was even a New York Daily News article about it a while back. These Repubs are such a desperately horny, repressed bunch, they just can’t get enough of paying for ‘amoral’ sex. So ironic. If Middle America only knew how this group is so fulla perverts and horndogs, they’d have a fit.”
Jerry Falwell has crossed the line with his open endorsement of Bush and the AUSCS wants his tax-exempt status revoked.
Hoping to send a warning to churches helping the Bush campaign turn out conservative voters, a liberal group has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service charging that an organization run by the Rev. Jerry Falwell has violated the requirements of its tax-exempt status by endorsing Mr. Bush’s re-election.”For conservative people of faith, voting for principle this year means voting for the re-election of George W. Bush,” Mr. Falwell wrote in the July 1 issue of his e-mail newsletter “Falwell Confidential” and on his Web site, falwell.com. “The alternative, in my mind, is simply unthinkable. To the pro-life, pro-family, pro-traditional marriage, pro-America voters in this nation, we must determine that President Bush is the man with our interests at heart. It is that simple.”
He added: “I believe it is the responsibility of every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional Jew, every Reagan Democrat, and everyone in between to get serious about re-electing President Bush.”
Mr. Falwell, who helped lead conservative evangelical Protestants into politics 20 years ago as the founder of the Moral Majority, also asked for contributions to a political action committee run by the social conservative Gary Bauer. “It is the organization that I believe can have the greatest impact in re-electing Mr. Bush to the Oval Office,” he wrote.
Can’t get much more blatant than that. Falwell has spent his career skating along that very thin line between endorsement and support, between private and professional acts. This should have been done 30 years ago when he was using his church and his tv show to support Nixon; those were over the line, too. When he got away with it, it just got worse. The fact is that Falwell is a closet CR (Christian Reconstructionist) like Pat Robertson. Neither recognizes any validity in the church-state separation issue; on the contrary, both will do everything they can to erase it.
Yesterday, the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, argued in a letter to the I.R.S. that one of Mr. Falwell’s religious organizations, Jerry Falwell Ministries, had disseminated the message in violation of tax rules, which restrict tax-exempt religious groups and charitable organizations from engaging in politics.In an interview, Mr. Lynn said the complaint was also a response to the Bush campaign’s effort to enlist thousands of pastors and churchgoers to help get members of conservative congregations to the polls.
“I certainly hope that this sends a clear message that religious organizations have got to operate within federal tax laws restricting partisan politicking,” he said. “And I think the message is that the campaign has been reckless in its approach to churches, recklessly trying to lure them into political activities.”
The word ‘reckless’ is wrong. there’s nothing reckless about it. It’s a calculated ploy to pander to the Christian right and to identify Bush with Christianity, leaving Kerry with..what? The other day a local right-wing talk show host, Jay Severin, told a caller that the choice for voters was a Christian Bush or a ‘Marxist’ Kerry.
The Republican-controlled IRS is unlikely to move on this and court challenges will take years to be decided, but the publicity spawned by a centrist church organization finally, after all these years, protesting Falwell’s contemptuous disregard for the rules could be worth its weight in gold–or votes.