Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Day 3 of the RNC: The image of Halliburton is given Breath and Voice

"He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak" (Rev 13:13-15) or so says the Apocalypse. Tonight Halliburton was given an image and voice in the form of a man named Dick Cheney, the current Veep, in another night of ultra-nationalism at the Republican National Convention. In what must have shocked foreign observers and moderate Americans alike, ultra-nationalist delegates chanted "USA" when Cheney defended Bush's insistence on a unilaterial right to pre-emptively invade other nations on the basis of incorrect intelligence.

Cheney's a huge crook, so he's easy to refute. Cheney thinks its out to hold on to a huge number of Halliburton shares while Halliburton stood to make record profits as a direct result of Cheney's "war fever," so described by Colin Powell in Bob Woodward's book. Here are some statistics from literature widely distributed by the Democratic Party:

When we talk to you about the influence of special interests like Halliburton, and the difference that you can make, it is NOT just campaign rhetoric. No firm has benefited more than Texas-based Halliburton, Dick Cheney's former
company. Let's look at the facts:

  • Halliburton was awarded a no-bid contract worth more than $7 billion for the rebuilding of Iraq. This contract was "coordinated" by the vice president's own office. That same year, 2003, Dick Cheney received $178,437 in "deferred compensation" from Halliburton.
  • Reports show that Halliburton drastically overcharged America for gas being imported into Iraq, and skimped on basic services to troops like providing clean working conditions and safe food.
  • In all, Halliburton has overcharged the U.S. government $186 million. They even used tax dollars to pay an employee in Iraq $82,000 a year to "walk around and look busy."
  • Dick Cheney is watching out for Halliburton, and Halliburton is watching out for Dick Cheney. A recently filed 2003 financial disclosure form reveals that Halliburton invoked an insurance policy last year to indemnify Cheney for what could be steep legal bills "arising from his service" at the company.

Legal fees arising from service to Halliburton? Might that arise from those internal Pentagon emails, leaked to the press, in which Halliburton contracts are excluded from the bid process specifically because they have been already precleared by the "Office of the Vice President?" All of this while Mr. Cheney's office (or, should I say Halliburton's office?) insisted to the press (not knowing they had these memos) that these very same Halliburton contracts had gone through the normal Pentagon channels without interference from a very financially interested Vice President? Those same contracts on which Halliburton later had to refund millions because the Pentagon concluded (at the urging of an angry press) that it had been severely overcharged? Or does that sentence in Halliburton's financial disclosures refer to some scandal that has not yet broken, and Halliburton dearly hopes never will? This must be some scandal waiting to brew, for the insurance was so expensive Halliburton could not hide it in its financial statements....

Cheney severely distorted Kerry's record, of course. Both Cheney and, I believe, Zell Miller claimed (using the usual Republican scare tactics, which ruled the evening), the Kerry had said, at the Democratic Convention, that he would not go to war without Paris' backing (referring to the UN Security Council), an outright lie, as columnist Mark Shields pointed out on PBS (and even Republican David Brooks was forced to agree it was quite a stretch).

In fact, Kerry has endorsed Clinton's rhetoric that we should be "multilateral when we can, unilateral when we must," while they argue Bush is "unilateral when we can, mulitlateral when we must," somethat that was evident at the RNC tonight when ultra-nationalistic Republican delgates enthusiastically chanted "USA! USA!" in response to Cheney's praise of Bush's desire to invade nationals unilaterally. At the Democratic Convention Kerry specifically said that, while he would attempt to seek UN support for US military adventures, he would never put the national security of the United States under the exclusive domain of the UN Security Council, completely the opposite of what Cheney claimed. That's why it was a lie, and Mark Shields called it as it was.

Of course both Cheney and Zell Miller and other speakers told many lies, not only about Kerry's foreign policy, but also about taxation. If you are in the middle or lower classes, George Bush will raise your taxes; perhaps he already has! He carefully lowered federal taxes so that the middle class has gotten a tiny sliver while the wealthest 1% --- what "[Bush] calls [his] base" --- received huge benefits. Federal outflows to states has diminished while the burden on states to pay for anti-terror related services and other federal mandates has never been greater, forcing them to raise taxes, either equally across the board if not primarily on the middle class. Net result? Higher taxes on the middle class, which is not, as Bush himself admits, Bush's poltical base.

Speaking of liars and the Apocalypse, didn't Zell Miller of Georgia look like one of the Four Horsemen of Doom of the Apocalypse today?

Were Prophet of Doom's statement that Strong Leader Bush is the "only man who can keep this nation safe" true, that would pretty much spell the end of Democracy. Oh let's scrap Presidential Term limits! Strong Leader Bush is the only man who can keep us safe from his disgruntled ex-CIA terrorists once hired by his father! Let's make Strong Leader Bush the King so he can keep us safe!!!

This sort of nonsense from the Republicans is why we must fight Bush's re-election tooth and nail. (And the fact that the evidence suggests his operatives stole the last election.) We feel most strongly the very essence of American Democracy is at stake. Karl Rove's strategy, that the so-called "war" on terror was a "horse" that could be ridden through the elections (by terrifying the American people) must not be allowed to succeed, for it is fundamentally the same strategy as that used by the fascists of the early twenty century. And I have documented the frightening parallels many times in my last emails in great detail, so there is no need to repeat them here.

We Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans. But, as Michael Moore pointed out in a column today in USA Today, we can be soft. If Zell Miller had been a Republican doing what he did today, the Republicans would have informed him that he was no longer a Republican.

Then they would have printed his face on rolls of toilet paper, and sold them over the Internet and on Fox News. I'm not making this up --- they did it just in 2001 to the senator that "became" an Independent.

Where are the rolls of toilet paper with Zell Miller's face on them?

No, we Democrats are nice people.

Our enemy is not nice. Our enemy does not stop at egregious violations of International law, or widespread torture of innocent civilians in slash-and-burn intelligence operations. Our enemy does not stop at vicious, "independent" smear campaigns with "facts" fabricated out of whole cloth and "witnesses" purchased with millionaires' millions. No, we face a truly ruthless foe, whose operatives apparently plan once again to steal Florida (as the recent court case demonstrates).

We Democrats are going to have be ready and willing (not necessarily do, but be ready and willing) to use legitimate counter-measures when we can and fight extremely dirty when we must this election, for the democratic nature of our society is at stake.

We must expect the worst in our enemy, and learn to think like him, so that we can plan to counter and respond in an instant to every one of his machinations.