Wednesday's must-reads


Geraldine Sealey
June 16, 2004 5:29PM (UTC)

Spokesman: Scooter didn't tell Cheney
Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, attended a 2002 meeting where he learned Halliburton would receive no-bid work to secretly plan restoration of Iraq's oil facilities -- but a spokesman for the V.P. says Libby did not tell his boss about the Halliburton deal, AP reports.

"Libby's presence was controversial because Cheney repeatedly has said he had no involvement in that contract or any other matters involving Halliburton, a Houston-based energy and construction company. At the briefing, a Defense official told a multi-agency group including Libby that Halliburton would secretly develop contingency plans to extinguish any oil fires set by Saddam Hussein if there was a war with Iraq."

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Rep. Henry Waxman's office has revealed examples of fraud, waste and abuse from Halliburton's work in Iraq, including that Halliburton charged taxpayers $10,000 a day to house employees in a five-star hotel in Kuwait instead of the $600 per day cost of using the same air-conditioned tents that house U.S. troops. But Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., responded yesterday by attacking Waxman's efforts.

"Too many Democrats, for political reasons I completely understand but personally find distasteful, have chosen to practice oversight by press release, oversight by leaking draft reports and confidential briefings," Davis said at Tuesday's committee hearing. "This is a strategy being driven top down by the House Democratic leadership."

Kay: Cheney has no evidence
The Boston Globe picks up the story about George W. Bush backing Dick Cheney's assertion that Saddam Hussein had "long-standing ties" to al-Qaida, but says "critics charged that the White House had no new proof of a connection."

Those critics include former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay. ''At various times Al Qaeda people came through Baghdad and in some cases resided there," said Kay, former head of the CIA's Iraq Survey Group, which searched for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism. ''But we simply did not find any evidence of extensive links with Al Qaeda, or for that matter any real links at all."

''Cheney's speech is evidence-free," Kay said. ''It is an assertion, but doesn't say why we should be believe this now."

Nader pushes for Ohio ballot
Yet another sign that Ohio could be the new Florida: Ralph Nader has kicked off his efforts get on the Ohio ballot, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

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"He said he needs 5,000 signatures in Ohio and will collect 10,000 to allow for signatures that are disqualified. As always, Nader pulled no punches. He said people should be suspicious of candidates who flatter the voters."

"'When you flatter someone, you turn off their capacity to be critical,' [Nader said in an Ohio campaign stop.] 'We have a nation of voters who are star-struck. Would you ever go to a bad dentist just because he is nice to you and gives you a lollipop for your kid? Of course not. Yet people vote for people just because they flatter them.' Nader decried the two-party system, declaring that the Democrats and Republicans are nearly indistinguishable."

Reagan-Bush ads to run
Just days after Ronald Reagan was buried, his image started appearing in ads promoting George W. Bush and criticizing John Kerry, the AP reports. "The Club for Growth's ad, which is to begin airing Wednesday, portrays both Republican presidents as leaders -- Reagan on communism and Bush on terrorism, while claiming Kerry was 'wrong then, wrong now' on national security."

"The ad shows Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, testifying to Congress in 1971 that 'we cannot fight communism all over the world and I think we should have learned that lesson by now.' Former President Reagan is then seen at the Berlin Wall in 1987, saying 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' That's followed by Bush telling rescue workers at the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: 'I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.'"

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But a Reagan family's spokeswoman said no one requested the permission to use Reagan's image in an ad, nor would permission be granted because it would imply that he endorsed one candidate over another.

It's worth noting that Dick Cheney is also using the Bush-Reagan comparison on the stump.

Dean: Tax cuts a scam
Howard Dean devotes his latest newspaper column to the reality of tax cuts.

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"For the past ten years many Americans thought they were getting tax cuts. In fact, they were losing money. While it is true that voters like the idea of tax cuts, they do not like the idea of cutting essential services, which is what is currently happening. For most working families, so-called tax cuts are simply an elaborate accounting shell game: lower income tax, but higher property tax . . . child tax credit, but higher college tuition . . . marriage penalty tax relief, but a 36 percent increase in health care premiums."

"For the average worker, with every dollar these tax cuts put in one pocket, it seems that two dollars are taken from the other. These tax cuts also happen to be the biggest factor in the creation of the largest and most chronic federal deficit in American history, roughly a half-trillion dollar added to our national debt every year."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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