Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The DOD Inspector General

The Inspector General at the Departmnet of Defense must be disgruntled:

According to the report on the inspector general’s Web site, procurement rules were not followed in 22 of 24 deals awarded by the military on behalf of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad and its now-defunct Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA).

Many of these contracts, the biggest of which was to create an Iraqi media network, were not competitively bid.

In one example, a contractor was paid even though he was on vacation. In another, vehicles were airlifted into Iraq at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars without proper approval. And in a third, a media contractor was used to organize garbage removal.

AB

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Free Trade

In a thorough and convincing (to me, but I was already convinced) article in Foreign Affairs, Dan Drezner makes a good point that I hadn’t heard before:

Offshore outsourcing is similarly counterbalanced by job creation in the high-end service sector. An Institute for International Economics analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data revealed that the number of jobs in service sectors where outsourcing is likely actually increased, even though total employment decreased by 1.7 percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Outlook Handbook, the number of it-related jobs is expected to grow 43 percent by 2010. The case of IBM reinforces this lesson: although critics highlight the offshore outsourcing of 3,000 it jobs, they fail to mention the company’s plans to add 4,500 positions to its U.S. payroll. Large software companies such as Microsoft and Oracle have simultaneously increased outsourcing and domestic payrolls.

How can these figures fit with the widespread perception that it jobs have left the United States? Too often, comparisons are made to 2000, an unusual year for the technology sector because y2k fears and the height of the dot-com bubble had pushed employment figures to an artificially high level. When 1999 is used as the starting point, it becomes clear that offshore outsourcing has not caused a collapse in it hiring. Between 1999 and 2003, the number of jobs in business and financial operations increased by 14 percent. Employment in computer and mathematical positions increased by 6 percent.

AB

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In the Loop

Richard Clarke, in an interview with Salon, seems none to happy with Cheney:

QUESTION: Vice President Cheney told Rush Limbaugh that you were not “in the loop,” and that you’re angry because you were passed over by Condi Rice for greater authority. And in fact you were dropped from Cabinet-level position to something less than that. How do you respond to what the Vice President said?

ANSWER: The vice president is becoming an attack dog, on a personal level, which should be beneath him but evidently is not.

I was in the same meetings that Dick Cheney was in, during the days after 9/11. Condi Rice and Dick Cheney appointed me as co-chairman of the interagency committee called the “Campaign Committee” — the “campaign” being the war on terrorism. So I was co-chairing the interagency process to fight the war on terrorism after 9/11. I don’t think I was “out of the loop.”

QUESTION: The vice president commented that there was “no great success in dealing with terrorists” during the 1990s, when you were serving under President Clinton. He asked, “What were they doing?”

ANSWER: It’s possible that the vice president has spent so little time studying the terrorist phenomenon that he doesn’t know about the successes in the 1990s. There were many. The Clinton administration stopped Iraqi terrorism against the United States, through military intervention. It stopped Iranian terrorism against the United States, through covert action. It stopped the al-Qaida attempt to have a dominant influence in Bosnia. It stopped the terrorist attacks at the millennium. It stopped many other terrorist attacks, including on the U.S. embassy in Albania. And it began a lethal covert action program against al-Qaida; it also launched military strikes against al-Qaida. Maybe the vice president was so busy running Halliburton at the time that he didn’t notice.

There’s a lot more in the full interview.

AB

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Fundraising Update

I haven’t mentioned donating to Kerry in a while because we were doing so well:

Total Donations: 15

Total Dollars: $1141.78

Average Donation: $76.12

That includes $350 from Kash and I. So Angry Bear readers have ponied up $800 so far to help spread Kerry’s message and fight Bush’s attacks! Remember that after the Democratic Convention, Kerry (Bush as well, I believe) will be using public funds so contributions are needed between now and August. In any case, given the numbers to date, I think a reasonable cumulative goal for this blog is $10,000. You know what to do.

AB

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More McClellan

We’ve already established, using the White House’s own press release, that on and before 9/11 Clarke was in fact a top member of the anti-terorrism team, not the cyber-security team. In fact, on 9/11, he was apparently second only to Dr. Rice in the anti-terrorism hierarchy. Next question: did Clarke meet with Bush on 9/12?

Let’s roll the transcript, from Ari Fleischer’s September 12, 2001, 4:05 p.m. press briefing:

Q Can you give us a little more detail on the President’s day after, or following the meeting with congressional leaders? Was anyone else at this lunch with Cheney? What happened between — after the lunch with Cheney and right now?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President and Vice President Cheney had lunch in the private dining room right off the Oval Office. The President then made additional phone calls to foreign leaders, and began a meeting just a little while ago with his national security team.

Now all that remains is to determine whether that meeting took place in the Situation Room. Even if it didn’t, is it really plausible that the President was in fact in the White House (he had lunch in “the private dining room right off the Oval Office”) but never went into the Situation Room? And even if that’s true, is McClellan certain that’s the story he wants to run with?

AB

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Then Where Was He And What Was He Doing?

Skippy catches a puzzling statement from Press Secretary McClellan:

Q Scott, this morning, you said the President didn’t recall the conversation in the Situation Room on September 12th that Mr. Clarke said he had, where the President asked Dick Clarke three times to pursue links between 9/11 and Iraq. And you said he doesn’t — I had two questions. So did the President tell you or somebody in the White House over the weekend, he doesn’t recall?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I talked to him. He doesn’t recall that conversation or meeting.

Q And that was — he said it this morning, or this weekend? When did he say that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this weekend and this morning, yes.

Q Okay. And secondly, Clarke now says that he has three eyewitnesses, and he repeated it again this morning, and he named them — to the conversation.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let’s just step backwards — regardless, regardless, put that aside. There’s no record of the President being in the Situation Room on that day that it was alleged to have happened, on the day of September the 12th. When the President is in the Situation Room, we keep track of that.

In case you’re wondering, McClelland is talking about Septermber 12, 2001, the day after 9/11. So the President’s counter to Clarke’s charge that on 9/12 the President told Clarke to pursue links between 9/11 and Iraq is this: It Wasn’t Me (special I wasn’t there remix).

Ok, that’s par for the course, but if that’s really the line the administration wants to stick with, then I have a follow-up question: Where was the president if not in the situation (at any time that day) and what was he doing?



AB

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Swing State Summary

This table summarizes the results of my analyses to date of the jobs situation in Swing States; details and a discussion are at The American Street.

AB

UPDATE: Table corrected so that the column 3 heading reads “Right/Left Vote” and the ordering in that column is made consistent: Bush’s % first, then Gore’s.

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Jobs in Pennsylvania

In the process of composing my post for The American Street tomorrow, I realized that I skipped over a very important swing state, Pennsylvania. While Pennsylvania voted for Gore in 2000, Bush nevertheless enacted steel tariffs in an effort to court voters in this swing state. I suspect that Pennsylvania residents are not impressed: their state has lost 146,400 jobs since Bush took office, a 2.56% decline:

Gore carried this state 51%-47% in 2000; based on the jobs picture, Kerry should have no problem bettering that margin in 2004.

AB

P.S. Anyone notice how I managed to mention the steel tariffs without quipping that they didn’t appear to do much for the jobs picture in Pennsylvania?

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Clarke and Cheney Update

Josh Marshall has some key information on Cheney’s claim that Clarke was in cybersecurity, not anti-terrorism:

Cheney frequently gets a pass for what his aides later portray as unintentional misstatements of fact. But there are two or three levels of dishonesty involved in this response. The key one is timing. It’s convenient that Cheney doesn’t “recall the exact time frame” since the time frame puts the lie to his entire point.

Clarke was put in charge of cyberterrorism (a pet interest of his); but that was after 9/11.

Marshall also conducts a brief exercise in logic: 1) Clarke was in fact in charge of anti-terrorism before 9/11. 2) Clarke was in fact demoted. 3) Therefore, “saying Clarke was out of the loop is less a defense of the administration than an indictment of it.” Clarke’s demotion is nearly prima fasciae evidence that the administration demphasized terrorism before 9/11. I should have made that point earlier.

AB

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