January 01, 2004

It's 2004 AD . . . whew! This is the year that - legally, non-violently, and gratefully - we elect Dr Howard Dean to replace George W Bush as our president.

After that happens, we will be able to begin healing from the spreading cancer called "The Reagan Revolution" to start on a foundation to forward a New Progressive Agenda. Much of that foundation is being articulated now by Dennis Kucinich, George Soros, Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun, Manuel Valenzuela, Jim Hightower, Howard Zinn, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern, Jim Lobe, Julien Ninio, and a growing number of media agencies, journalists, bloggers, and other advocates of peace, justice, and truth.

I want to start the year by thanking everyone who has come here and then come back; everyone who has left a comment (even those scolding me for switching my support to Howard Dean), signed my guestbook, or sent an email; everyone who has linked to my blog from theirs; and everyone who has referred someone here.

So . . . just a couple of goodnews items:

First, it looks like Halliburton/KBR is gonna lose it's oil for votes welfare payment. (Talk about shutting the barndoor after the damn barn's been dismantled.)

Next, Stephen J. Glain writes in The Boston Globe that, "Pentagon freezes Iraq funds amid corruption probes". Excerpts:

The Pentagon has frozen new funds approved for Iraqi reconstruction amid growing allegations of corruption and cronyism associated with the rebuilding process . . .

The Pentagon's decision to delay Iraqi reconstruction is another setback for a process already hobbled by political insecurity and, increasingly, concerns over corruption and misconduct. The success of the US-led bid to remake Iraq politically depends largely on efforts to reverse the country's chronic unemployment by repairing it economically. But lawmakers in Washington and businesspeople in Iraq say the bidding process lacks transparency and favors a growing class of monopolists and oligarchs that could overwhelm the country's infant regulatory framework.

"Everyone is focusing on the capture of Saddam Hussein," said Laith Kubba, a former Iraqi dissident who divides his time between Washington, London, and Iraq. "But with Saddam gone the most important thing is the country's political and economic transformation, and that is being held hostage by vested interests" . . .

The US government and the International Finance Corp., the lending arm of the World Bank, say they have made available hundreds of millions of dollars for small to mid-sized businesses in Iraq. In addition to new sources of capital, Iraqi businesspeople say they want enhanced oversight and regulation over the subcontracting process to prevent larger players from tilting the awards in their favor.

"Otherwise, the next round of bidding is going to be more corrupt than the first," said an Iraqi consultant to US telecommunications companies with offices in Baghdad and Washington. "The clans have always done this, but now it's a hundred times worse."

Ashcroft finally recused himself from the Plame-outing investigation. Not only will the Special Prosecutor's dog not hunt, I doubt whether there's anything left to catch a scent on. The best that will happen is that someone in the "administration" who is expendable and probably wants out anyway will 'fess up, get sentenced, then pardoned by Doubleduh in late October.

Be at peace.