Monday, January 31, 2005
Even though Sinclair fired Mr Lieberman, they're insisting he owes them "liquidated damages" on the ten months remaining on his contract. And they're holding him to his non-compete clause. But they want to start the six-month non-compete at when his contract was supposed to end -- not from when he was fired in October. (DCRTV.com)
The law dates back to 1913, but the Bush administration -- like administrations before it -- took a fairly loose interpretation with the law. In the end, the Bush administration broke all records last year in spending on PR firms. (WashPost)
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Friday, January 28, 2005
President Nixon put together the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism in the wake of the 1972 Olympic terrorist attack. It only met once, but spent five years working on potential terrorist threats.
In language that evokes deja vu, the panel warned that airlines wouldn't go along with increased security costs, that terrorists might build a radioactive "dirty bomb," and discussed ways to protect commercial planes from anti-aircraft missile attacks. (AP)
On the President's side, that includes the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security -- with connections to Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard, and the US Chamber of Commerce -- and more than $34.6 million in contributions to federal candidates since 1999. And support from the security and investments sector which contributed $8.1 million to the Bush campaign in 2004.
In the other corner -- the non-partisan AARP is joining forces with highly partisan labor unions -- whose PACs gave $52.7 million almost exclusively to Democrats last year and their 527 groups which spent $101 million.
The turnaround shows a volunteer spirit of the American people. It also exposes flaws in our vaccine distribution system -- with many doses shipped to where they were never needed. (MSNBC)
Just wait until the debate begins. (USA Today)
This project is in addition to the September 11 Digital Archive Project, the Library's first major aquisition of 9/11 materials. My personal experiences as a reporter on Capitol Hill that day are included in that collection. (CNN)
The House Committee on Government Reform has released a report saying the Bush administration used a record $88 million in taxpayer money for publica relations contracts in 2004 -- more than double what was spent in 2000. (CBS)
Thursday, January 27, 2005
The program has grown from $155 million in 1994 to $1.5 billion last year. You don't need a college degree to know that adds up to a lot of your money at risk. (CNN)
The President promised an Amendment banning gay marriage -- but says that won't fly now.
He planned major income tax reform -- but put it off for at least a year because Social Security reform got complicated.
The Associated Press analyzes how things have changed from the lofty goals of his inaugural address to the reality of his news conference just one week later. (AP via Yahoo!)
Just for the record, the Marshall Plan was the brainchild of every conservative's favorite Democrat -- Harry Truman. And it led every conservative's favorite European conservative -- Winston Churchill -- to refer to Mr Truman as "the man who saved western civilization." (NYT -- Editorial)
America has the highest prescription drug prices of any country in the world. Drug companies make pills here in the US and ship them to Canada. It is as much as 62% cheaper to have those drugs shipped back to the US than to pay the price at the corner drug store here in the states. (CNEWS)
The US Institute of Peace -- created by Congress and paid for with your dollars -- got it right when the much better funded spy shops missed the ball altogether. The USIP gets by on a mere $17 million a year -- chickenfeed in Washington.
The USIP is coming into it's own. After eight years, they're getting $100 million from Congress for a new building, in the last site left on the National Mall. (WashPost)
Back in 2001, the administration spent $37 million. Last year, the they shelled out $88 million. All told, the Bush administration has spent $250 million of your money to convince you to support their agenda. That compares with $128 million the Clinton administration spent in its second term to sway you to their way of thinking.
Some $240,000 of the Bush administration's spending went to commentator Armstrong Williams to promote the "No Child Left Behind" law. He failed to disclose the connection, leading to investigations by the FCC, Congress, and Education Department as they look into possible payola and "covert propaganda" crimes.
Another $41,500 went to syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher to promote a $300 million dollar marriage plan the administration had. She also failed to disclose the connection in her syndicated columns.
Mr Williams' contract was through the Ketchum PR firm, the largest PR contractor to the administration. They took in $97 million of your tax dollars in the last four years.
Currently, the Republican Party is raising private donations to help with the PR effort at the White House. (USA Today)
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
The commentary was called "Disclosures" and argued that journalists should disclose potential conflicts of interest to their readers or viewers. This is a basic tenent of journalism.
But The Point pointed to bloggers Jerome Armstrong of MyDD.com and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga who runs DailyKos.com. Thing is, they both disclosed that they took money from the Howard Dean campaign to promote him on their sites. (NewsCentral.tv)
High praise, considering Mr Krauthammer consulted with the Bush administration on how to write the speech. Mr Krauthammer forgot to mention that in his critique on Fox News.
Mr Krauthammer was one of ten people invited to the White House on January 10. His column's distributor -- the Washington Post Writer's Group -- issued a statement saying the commentator didn't see the visit as an exercise in speech writing.
Liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America also says columnist and commentator William Kristol also consulted on President Bush's speech and failed to mention his involvement while praising it. (Editor & Publisher)
"I expect my Cabinet secretaries to make sure that that practice doesn't go forward. There needs to be independence," the President told reporters during a rare news conference.
Williams took $240,000 from the government to promote the "No Child Left Behind" law in his newspaper columns, and on radio and TV shows. He never disclosed the connection until USA Today broke the story.
The President says his agenda should stand on its own two feet, without secretly placing commentators on the government payroll. (ABC)
In what has become the deadliest day of the Iraq War, 31 members of the 1st Marine Division died in the crash of a transport helicopter with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Another five Marines and Soldiers died in other incidents around the country. The Pentagon isn't saying if the helicopter crash was related to hostile action. An investigation is underway. The Marines in Fallujah reportedly plan a news conference at 1:00 pm EST with more details of the crash. (DoD)
Want a little financial advice? Buy stock in red ink manufacturers, because Washington's going to use a record amount of it this year. Additional war spending will drive the federal deficit to a record $427 billion for fiscal 2005. That tops last year's $412 billion.
Right now, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased year by year:
- 2003: $78.6 billion
- 2004: $88 billion
- 2005: $105 billion (estimated)
But Gallagher never told her readers she'd taken $21,500 from a Department of Health and Human Services contract to promote the plan. Her work ran from January through October in 2002. She also took another $20,000 grant from the Justice Department to write a report called Can Government Strengthen Marriage? The report was for a private group called the National Fatherhood Initiative.
The amount of money is not nearly as much as the $240,000 commentator Armstrong Williams took in an undisclosed government contract to promote the "No Child Left Behind" law. But after that scandal broke, the White House promised on January 11 that the Williams case was an isolated incident. (WashPost)
Republican polls show near-retirees evenly split on privatizing a part of Social Security. But as they are given the talking points from Republicans and Democrats on the issue -- the support slips and opposition increases. (MSNBC)
Gee, in this country a little rain can cause low turnout. (MSNBC)
The Senator says the abortion rate fell 25% between 1990 and 1995, and another 11% by 2000. Senator Clinton claims the Bush administration has cut birth control funding leading more women to seek abortions. (CNN)
The request for more money comes even as Congress' top budget analyst predicted $855 billion in deficits over the next decade -- without the war money factored in. (CNN)
Media training is now routine for troops headed to Iraq -- has been for years in the Marines. They're getting a couple of hours of briefings from public affairs specialists, then handed talking point cards to memorize in case they run into the enemy -- er, a reporter. (Accentuate the Positive)
Friday, January 21, 2005
“You have been given a mandate. ... Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ.”
Mr Jones also called Catholicism and Mormonism "cults" in a 2000 campus magazine article.
He says he's stepping down to let someone closer to today's youth -- someone with new ideas -- to take charge. Who knows, they may allow raccoon coats and jalopies on campus. But "The Charleston" will still be banned. (MSNBC)
Thursday, January 20, 2005
More than 50 donors have contributed $250,000. More than 90 donors topped $100,000. (CRP)
Dr James Dobson, head honcho of the conservative Focus on the Family, is focused on SpongeBob. A cartoon sponge may appear to be a soft target. But Dr Dobson, Phd, has identified SpongeBob as the key figure in a new axis of evil that includes Jimmy Neutron and Barney the dinosaur.
At issue is a video that Dr Dobson sees as the WMD in the culture war -- a video produced by the We Are Family Foundation -- founded by Nile Rodgers, who wrote the 1970s disco hit "We Are Family." Dr Dobson claims the video preaches tolerance for homosexuals -- and tolerance cannot be tolerated.
But it appears Dr Dobson is relying on the same kind of intel that told us there were WMDs in Iraq in 2002. It seems Dr Dobson has been looking at the wrong website. There is a site called "We Are Family" which promotes sexual tolerance. But it's completely different from Mr Rodgers' site and not affiliated with his foundation.
Mr Rodgers created his foundation after the 9/11 attacks to teach kids not to hate people from other cultures.
But hey, it's still preaching tolerance -- that may be close enough for Dr Dobson. (NYT)
The Presidential Inaugural is almost always an expensive spectacle. But Vermont Governor James Douglas (R) used his inaugural ball to raise money -- $20,000 for Vermont's military families. Gov John Lynch (D-NH) and Gov Jon Huntsman, Jr (R-UT) used their galas to raise $60,000 in tsunami relief.
Republicans in Washington state got stiffed. After the recounts deposed Republican Dino Rossi, 150 of his supporters tried to get their money back for the now useless $75 tickets to his canceled inaugural ball. Mr Rossi's people refused any refunds. (Stateline.org)
The FBI grilled former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp about his involvement in the UN's Oil-For-Food scandal. The FBI interviewed Mr Kemp back in October about his contacts with Samir A. Vincent, an oil trader who pleaded guilty to four criminal charges stemming from the scandal.
Mr Kemp is reported to have had several contracts with Mr Vincent and the two spoke at least once a month for several years about Mr Vincent's desire to improve US-Iraqi relations. Mr Kemp's lawyer -- Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Clinton -- says Mr Kemp approached Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell about Mr Vincent's proposals, but was rebuffed each time.
Mr Kemp was Bob Dole's running mate in 1996. (NEWSWEEK via MSNBC)
But states and communities have lined up lobbyists to get Congress to keep bases in their backyards up and running -- whether the military wants them or not.
And the state of California has hired the lobbying firm of Clark & Weinstock to keep their bases open. Guess who works as a lobbyist for Clark & Weinstock. Vic Fazio.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Among those taking part in the program were dozens of American companies and individuals. And among those, Samir A. Vincent.
The Justice Department says the New York businessman got the rights to 9 million barrels of oil and a stack of cash to lobby US and UN officials to weaken economic sanctions against Iraq. (Yahoo! News)
The polling data has been released. An examination shows that none of the clients of the $10 million dollar system -- ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox, or the Associated Press -- was misled into inaccurate projections. The problem seems to be that people leaked incomplete data early in the day that was not true to the results the actual polling was gathering. (MSNBC)
From Texas, Virginia, New York and New Jersey. The latest combat deaths in Iraq bring the total number of American service men and women killed in the war to 1,362 -- 1,073 died in hostile actions. A full list of those killed in the Iraq War is here. (WashPost) [Photo Credit: Terry Turner]
Drugs made in the US and shipped to Canada are cheaper than the same drugs sold in the US. The price can be 32% to 62% cheaper. Americans bought 12 million prescriptions worth about $700 million from Canada in 2003.
PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry's lobbying arm, has hired a former US ambassador to Canada to help with the lobbying effort. The Center for Public Integrity obtained Canadian lobbyist disclosure forms showing the extent of the campaign. (CPI)
Except he didn't use asterisks. Sure that was music to the ears of all the "values voters" in the audience. (CBS)
Prominent conservative groups such as the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family launched a phone campaign to the White House on Tuesday, flooding the switchboards with calls from angry rank-and-file conservatives.
The President on Friday said Senators had made it clear to him the amendment had no chance of passing unless the courts strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which pretty much does the same thing as the amendment would. (WashPost)
Rep Thomas is the highest ranking Republican to cast doubts on Social Security reform. But a rising drumbeat of doubt from Republicans in Congress is beginning to paint the President's Social Security plans in a familiar shade: that of President Clinton's health care reform. That disaster split the Democratic Party and allowed the Republicans to sweep into House and Senate majorities in 1994.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
oil, gas, & mining industries -- which they're supposed to regulate.
The spa's "Four Hands Massage" is priced at $260 for 50 minutes. That's the typical price the mining industry pays for about 50 acres of federal land. Might want to watch the taxpayers' pockets those four hands are reaching for. (EWG)[Photo Credit: Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa]
Then there's the cost of defending all those extra troops. Another 35,000 vehicles need armor at a cost of $4 billion.
The cost of the war at the end of 2004 came to $128 billion. By the end of this year, it should reach as much as $232 billion. By the end of 2007, $316 billion.
But that doesn't include major maintainence and replacing destroyed equipment. A single Bradley Fighting Vehicle will run taxpayers $3.16 million. (Christian Science Monitor via USA Today)
"Because he's hiding." -- President Bush to the Washington Post when asked why the US has not yet captured or killed Osama bin Laden. (CNN)
Friday, January 14, 2005
The report says the Iraq War and other possible conflicts "could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are 'professionalized' and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself." (NYT)
The Presidential Inaugural will cost around $40 million. What could that money buy? The Associated Press offers some comparisons:
- Two hundred armored Humvees with the best armor for troops in Iraq
- Vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million children in regions devastated by the tsunami
- A down payment on the nation's deficit, which hit a record-breaking $412 billion last year
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Anti-war groups have backed off plans to sue the National Park Service after the government came through with free seating for the Inaugural Parade. For the first time ever, protestors will have reserved seating -- though not much of it. They'll get a small bleacher section taking up about 220 feet along the mile long parade route on Pennsylvania Ave. (Scripps Howard News Service)[Photo: Bleachers along Pennsylvania Ave Parade Route by Terry Turner]
- Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced a bill requiring the Navy to maintain a 12 carrier fleet. USS John F Kennedy, homeported in Florida, is slated for retirement under the Navy's plan.
- The Georgia delegation is lobbying to keep the C-130J and F-22 programs -- both built partly in Georgia.
- And 24 Senators sent a fax to President Bush urging him to save the C-130J. All represent states where part of the plane's built.
Killing the C-130J program would save $4.1 billion dollars. Cutbacks to the F-22 program would save $11 billion. That'd pay for three months in Iraq. (Miami Herald)
Shortly after the visit, one of Girard-diCarlo's clients -- Raytheon -- won a $10 billion contract for border protection. Since 2003, Blank Rome has lobbied Homeland Security on behalf of tech company BearingPoint. That company was awarded a $229 million deal in September. CNN has this picture of President Bush, Secretary Ridge, and Mr Girard-diCarlo from a campaign stop last year. (NY Post)
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
- One county bought 18 radios -- from a company owned by one of the county commissioners.
- The county also paid to install one of the radios in the commissioner's personal car.
- Another jurisdiction bought a trailer -- to haul lawn mowers to "lawn mower drag races."
One official from a rural county in Washington said of the items purchased with federal dollars: "Some of the equipment on the ODP (Office for Domestic Preparedness) list we don't even recognize. We think, well this looks good, maybe we'll need it. We're getting stuff we won't use. This equipment could have gone to Seattle where the real threat is."
And don't forget the Dodge Durango no one in South Dakota is allowed to drive. (Dallas Morning News)
Sinclair has launched an internal investigation now that Mr Williams admits he took $240,000 in taxpayer-funded payola to promote the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" law. His contract included a requirement that he interview Secretary Paige on his radio and TV shows.
Sinclair Broadcast Group issued a statement saying they were unsure if any such interview aired while Mr Williams worked for the TV station group as an analyst.
A former producer who worked on the show talked with Salon.com:
"'He was clearly double-dipping,' says one former Sinclair producer. 'He was getting paid $240,000 [by the administration] and getting paid as a commentator by Sinclair. When I read the USA Today story on Friday I was aghast, as anybody in his business would be. Then the first thing I thought about was Williams' interview with Paige and then a light went off.'
The producer recalls the Williams-Paige sit-down as being the 'single worst interview I've seen in my career. It was nothing but softball questions. In retrospect, it was clearly part of Armstrong's way of getting paid' by the DOE. (Weeks later, Williams conducted a similar interview with Vice President Dick Cheney, pitching him such easy questions as, 'Why do you think the media is so obsessed in trying to tie you to Halliburton?')"
Sinclair executives say they had no idea of Mr Williams' link to the government when the interview happened. (Salon.com)
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
"If we do not act soon, Social Security will not be there for our children and grandchildren." -- President Bush, Radio Address, December 10, 2004.
The ranking member of the House Rules Committee has sent a letter to Sinclair -- and to TV One, another outfit on which Mr Williams has appeared. Rep Louise Slaughter (D-NY) demands that both fire Mr Williams immediately.
TV One says it's show with Mr Williams, "On Point," would be put on hiatus.
Sinclair promises an investigation. Chief Counsel Barry Faber says it's believed that Mr Williams interviewed Education Secretary Rodney Paige about "No Child Left Behind" while at Sinclair. A producer who worked at Sinclair at the time tells Watching Washington he clearly remembers working on that particular show.
Mr. Williams' newspaper column is all but dead at this point. His distributor, Tribune Media Services, fired him after the USA Today story of the scandal broke. An informal phone poll by Editor & Publisher, a newspaper trade journal, had all the papers they contacted saying they would no longer carry Mr Williams through any distributor. (Hollywood Reporter via Reuters)