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Impeach Bush

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 White House Sees Budget Moving to Balance
 Wall Street Skeptical of Bush Reforms
 D.C. Group to Sue Cheney, Oil Co.
 U.N. to Debate U.S. Stand on War Crimes Court
 Bush Under Heavy Fire at NAACP Convention
 Senate Review of SEC Nominees Delayed Amid Crisis
 Resignation Pressures Mount on SEC Chairman Pitt
 Bush on the Defensive About Corporate Scandals
 Bush Defends Stock Sale
 Scandal, Fear and Malaise
 Whitman and Climate Report
White House Sees Budget Moving to Balance
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels said on Tuesday that an upcoming review of the U.S. budget will show it moving out of deficit and toward balance by mid-decade.

The Office of Management and Budget is due to release its mid-year review on Monday. Daniels, who spoke to reporters following a meeting with Senate Republican leaders, declined to say what the report will show for the budget deficit in fiscal 2003. But he said it will show an improving picture for the longer term.

"It will show that we will be moving back toward balanced budget -- a balanced budget that presumes spending restraint," Daniels said. He added that the report will show a balanced budget that includes Social Security reserves by 2005 -- a target date he has previously mentioned.

"I think the report will bear that out," he added.

The re-emergence of federal deficits after four years of surpluses has become a potent political issue ahead of November's congressional elections, where small swings could shift control in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

Democrats blame President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut approved last year and argue the shortfalls will erode Social Security and Medicare at a time when the baby boom generation is nearing retirement.

Republicans counter the tax cut has been a key factor driving the U.S. economic rebound and that a surge in spending, not lower taxes (see "Bush to Blame Stock Woes for Bigger Deficits" proving the republican argument is a farse.), is the main reason for the red ink. The Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-led Senate are at odds over spending limits for fiscal 2003, which begins on Oct 1.

The House has set a $759 billion spending limit. While the Senate has failed to pass a formal budget plan, Democrats, and some Republicans, wanted a $768 billion cap.

Daniels said the mid-year report will assume the spending caps set by the House.

Commentary:
Who cares what the republican House or republican president projects? Have they ever been right? One needs to recall how the Reagan budgets were wrong year after year so much so, that the congress was forced to call them "dead on arrival".

Bush, like Reagan is a pathological liar. He told us we had surpluses, and it was our money. Now we don't have surpluses and he still supports tax cuts, the only difference is, he's changed the reason for the cuts...now he says it's for economic growth.

Why does this president think it's moral to pay for tax cuts, which he targets to go mostly to the rich, with borrowed money? Anyone with character or integrity would undo the tax cut. Bush has neither so he won't (or can't).

Bush also knows Americans are losing money left and right because of the corporate scandals, and the only way he can stay in power is to use borrowed money to buy votes. We can only hope investors will say "ENOUGH ALREADY" and change the direction of the country in the 2002 election.


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Wall Street Skeptical of Bush Reforms, Wants Action
Reuters.com

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street professionals on Tuesday voiced skepticism about President Bush's proposals on accounting reform, saying strong words alone are not enough to allay investors' deep distrust of corporate America.

"If we actually saw some guys go to prison for these scandals that would do something," said Bev Hendry, portfolio manager at Phoenix-Aberdeen. "We need more action, less talk. These things take a long, long time to be enacted."

Bush, the first president with a master's degree in business, traveled to the heart of Wall Street to recommend more jail time for those convicted of corporate fraud and other proposals aimed at restoring confidence battered by waves of accounting scandals and executive wrongdoing.

In the climate of mistrust and uncertainty, stock indexes last week sank to 5-year lows.

"At this moment, America's greatest economic need is higher ethical standards," Bush said. He proposed doubling prison terms for mail and wire fraud charges to 10 years and increasing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's budget by $100 million to hire more investigators.

The president addressed the Association for a Better New York, a group of civic and business leaders, at the Regent Wall Street Hotel, just down the street from the New York Stock Exchange. Bush said the proposals "should be welcomed by every honest company in America" and should help move "corporate accounting out of the shadows."

But Wall Street fund managers and strategists said they must see specific actions taken before confidence is restored.

"I want to see these guys wearing wide, pinstriped (prison) suits," said Tony Maramarco, a fund manager for David L. Babson & Co.

Major stock gauges were little changed after the speech. The Nasdaq composite index was down 0.05 percent to 1,405, the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.14 percent to 9,262 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 0.62 percent to 970 in afternoon trading.

"The president's speech was tough and reasonably well balanced ... but the implementation of so many of those things will not be as immediate as many people hope," said Alan Ackerman, market strategist at brokerage Fahnestock & Co. "So, as bad news surfaces, it continues to erode confidence."

PRESIDENTIAL PROPOSAL

Bush urged companies to stop giving loans to corporate officers. As outrage builds over multimillion-dollar pay packages for some top executives, he called for companies to justify how compensation packages are in the company's interest, explaining them in detail and in plain English.

The president plans to sign an executive order creating a "Corporate Fraud Task Force" to help direct investigations and prosecutions of corporate criminal activity.

Some said Bush's specific proposals could help investor confidence and stocks after possible malfeasance at companies, including long-distance provider WorldCom Inc., which the SEC has sued for allegedly improperly booking billions in expenses as capital spending.

Other scandals that have undermined confidence include the collapse of energy trader Enron Corp. and telecommunications company Global Crossing Ltd., which is under investigation by the regulators and the FBI.

If Bush's purpose was to soothe nervous markets, some observers were unconvinced.

"The fact is that the perception of the integrity of corporate economy is so damaged that something far more dramatic needs to be done, and his proposals don't do that," said Professor Lawrence Mitchell, an expert in securities law at George Washington University.

Commentary:
Bush is so proud of his master's degree in business, but whenever he's asked about one of his business decisions he says it's old news. Why doesn't he just answer the questions. Wall Steets needs a president they can trust. Bill Clinton, where are you?


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D.C. Group to Sue Cheney, Oil Co.
YahooNews.com/NPR/AP

MIAMI (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton Co., the oil company he ran for five years, are being accused of accounting fraud by a watchdog group.

Washington-based Judicial Watch said it would file a shareholder lawsuit on Wednesday against Cheney and Halliburton.

Cheney was chairman and chief executive of the oil field-services giant from 1995 to 2000. Halliburton announced on May 28 that it received notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission that the commission was looking into Halliburton's accounting methods — adopted in 1998 — for reporting cost overruns on construction jobs.

The SEC has not filed any charges against Halliburton.

Judicial Watch alleges those accounting practices resulted in the overvaluation of Halliburton's shares, deceiving investors.

"We're seeking actual and punitive damages for allegations of securities fraud, for changing accounting practices and not advising the public of these changes," Judicial Watch chairman and general counsel Larry Klayman said Tuesday night in Miami.

Messages seeking comment from Cheney and the White House were not immediately returned late Tuesday.

"We don't believe that there's any merit to this case," Halliburton spokeswoman Zelma Branch said.

The lawsuit, which is expected to be filed Wednesday in federal court in Dallas, also names 10 of Halliburton's board members. Klayman said auditor Arthur Andersen LLP will also be named in the lawsuit.

Andersen spokesman Patrick Dorton declined to comment.

Under Texas law, the lawsuit can only specify that it seeks damages greater than $200,000. Judicial Watch is seeking far more.

"We're looking for millions of dollars in damages. We're looking to hold Vice President Cheney and others accountable," Klayman said. "We have no faith in the Bush administration and we have no faith in the Securities and Exchange Commission's investigation."

Judicial Watch, a private, conservative group, has sued for access to records of the Cheney-led energy task force that drafted the Bush administration's energy policy.

The allegations against Cheney came on the same day that President Bush ( news - web sites) called for tougher penalties to fight the corporate corruption that has engulfed several high-profile companies in recent months.

Bush himself has come under criticism for transactions he made while a director at Harken Energy Corp. in the early 1990s. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Commentary:
Compared to these guys, President Clinton looks like a boy scout.


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U.N. to Debate U.S. Stand on War Crimes Court
Reuters.com

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Turning up the heat on Washington, the U.N. Security Council agreed on Monday to stage a public debate this week on U.S. demands for immunity for its peacekeepers from the reach of a new global war crimes court.

Council diplomats privately predicted the marathon session, scheduled for Wednesday, would increase pressure on the United States to back away from its demands. The vast majority of the 189 U.N. member-nations strongly oppose the U.S. stand.

The United States has threatened to shut down U.N. missions one by one as they come up for renewal -- starting with a police training mission in Bosnia -- unless the council votes to shield U.S. peacekeepers from the International Criminal Court launched last week in The Hague, Netherlands.

The issue has deeply divided the council, with just two of its 15 members, Russia and China, said to support a U.S. draft proposal floated last week.

Washington nine days ago vetoed a resolution renewing the mandate of the Bosnia mission for six months. It then relented and gave the council another three days to consider its demand.

Three days after that, Washington agreed to a second short-term renewal of the Bosnia mission, keeping it alive until midnight on July 15 (0400 GMT on Tuesday, July 16).

Four other U.N. peacekeeping operations, in addition to the Bosnia mission, come up for renewal in July. They include the U.N. force policing the volatile border between Israel and Lebanon, and shutting down that mission could have serious security implications for close U.S. ally Israel.

OVERWHELMING INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT

The public debate was requested by Ambassador Paul Heinbecker of Canada, which played a central role in the court's creation.

Heinbecker wrote the Security Council that a public airing of the issue was crucial because the U.S. demands threatened the council's credibility and the viability of international law, as well as the integrity of the new court.

Irish Ambassador Richard Ryan predicted the debate would be heavily lopsided against the U.S. position, with international support for the court "clearly overwhelming."

"We understand the U.S. concerns, but we have to find a way that does not put the court in competition with the Bosnia mission," Ryan told reporters.

The world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, the court was created to pursue cases of gross human rights abuses, genocide and war crimes when national courts fail to do so.

The treaty creating the court has now been ratified by 76 countries, but the Bush administration has rejected it, leaving the court without power on U.S. territory.

President Bush worries that a politically motivated prosecutor could grab a U.S. soldier working in a country that has ratified the treaty, such as Bosnia.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Secretary of State Colin Powell in a letter last week that the entire U.N. peacekeeping system was "being put at risk" over what he said were exaggerated U.S. fears of vulnerability to the court.

Many world leaders have angrily accused Washington of turning their backs on the people of Bosnia after playing a central role in ending the Balkan state's bloody three-year war and its "ethnic cleansing."

Commentary:
Bush as leader of the free world? Not a chance. The world is against this man and his conservative policies. His only influence, if we're to call it that is created with money (our tax dollars). The United States is nearly friendless in the world and the only friends we have are bought and paid for. We shouldn't be surprised. Bush bribed a lot of Americans with his tax cuts. That cut, which goes mostly to the rich, is also being paid for with borrowed money.


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Bush Under Heavy Fire at NAACP Convention
Reuters.com

HOUSTON (Reuters) - President Bush is coming under heavy attack at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, where speaker after speaker this week accused him of ignoring black concerns and pandering to the far right.

In particularly harsh language, black leaders such as Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson and Kweisi Mfume said the president had done little to attract black support.

"Today we have a government that is enfranchised by miscounted or uncounted votes. Even though it lost the election, it operates as if it has a mandate to take our rights," civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson told the convention on Monday.

"Today we face the most threatening combination to civil rights in 50 years," he said, referring to Bush and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

"When he (Bush) spoke to our convention in Baltimore in 2000, he promised to enforce the civil rights laws. We knew he was in the oil business -- we just didn't know it was snake oil," Bond, chairman of the NAACP's board of directors, said in a Sunday speech.

NAACP president Mfume drew a few groans on Monday when he told 3,000 delegates at the George Brown Convention Center that he considered Bush "a likable fellow."

The groans turned to cheers when he said, "But I don't like his presidential practice of divide and conquer when it comes to black organizations and black people ... you can't be president of all the people when you only want to be the president for some of the people."

"Houston, we have a problem," Mfume said.

Traditionally, black voters have aligned with Democrats and voted heavily against Republicans, as they did Bush in the disputed 2000 election. He has said he wants to attract more minorities to the largely white GOP and describes himself as a "compassionate conservative."

But the NAACP speakers charged that Bush and Ashcroft were dismantling the civil rights laws which they view as a buffer against racism and fought long and hard to get.

Ashcroft, they said, has fought affirmative action programs and done little to protect voting rights.

"We have an attorney general who is a cross between J. Edgar Hoover and Jerry Falwell," Bond said. "There is a right-wing conspiracy, and it is operating out of the United States Department of Justice."

Adding to the antipathy toward Bush is his refusal to talk with NAACP leaders or speak at their convention, which he has not attended since 2000 while in the midst of the presidential campaign.

On Monday the group got a brief letter from Bush sending greetings to convention participants and praising the group for supporting civil rights.

Mfume complained that "President Bush has not found the time or the inclination in two whole years to sit down and have one 30-minute dialogue, honestly and openly, with this organization."

As if to remind Bush that the NAACP deserves his respect, Mfume said impatiently, "At the end of the day, this is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights group."

Mfume said the NAACP was beginning a massive voter registration and education drive ahead of the mid-term congressional elections in November.

He also called on Congress to pass an election reform bill to assure there would be no repeat of the ballot disputes that marred the 2000 vote and ended in Bush's controversial victory over Democrat Al Gore.

Bond, a veteran of the civil rights movements in the 1960s, said the stakes were high.

"We've got to ensure a massive turnout of minority voters in this year's elections -- our future is on the ballot in every state. If we don't vote, we lose -- and our children and grandchildren will lose, too," he said.


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Senate Review of SEC Nominees Delayed Amid Crisis
Reuters.com
July 08, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With U.S. markets adrift on a tide of scandal and mistrust, Senate review of nominees to the market-policing Securities and Exchange Commission is being delayed by a problem with one nominee, sources told Reuters.

As a result, two commissioners' seats at the SEC remained vacant on Monday, while two others were only temporarily filled, almost a year since President Bush named Harvey Pitt as SEC chairman, and with lawmakers from both parties calling for Pitt to resign.

The nomination of Roel Campos, a Texas broadcasting executive, has not been forwarded to the Senate by the Bush administration, leaving the controversial Pitt as still the only officially confirmed member of the commission.

Cynthia Glassman, a recent Republican nominee, is serving under a temporary recess appointment, awaiting Senate review. Isaac Hunt, a Democratic holdover from the previous administration, also has a recess appointment, but is not expected to be renominated as a commissioner.

Legal experts said it was urgent that the SEC's leadership gaps be filled to bolster the agency's credibility.

"It is and continues to be bizarre that the other four commissioners for the SEC have not been confirmed," said Joel Seligman, dean of the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, and a noted expert on securities law.

Comment: The SEC problem can be traced back to the 1990's when the republican senate refused to confirm President Clinton's nominee's.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have called for Pitt's resignation in recent days, accusing him of acting too slowly and tentatively to restore market confidence and of being too close to the businesses he regulates.

Richard Breeden, who was SEC chairman from 1989 to 1993, charged Pitt's attackers with playing politics.

"If the Senate would like to do something, the first thing they should do is confirm the four SEC commissioners sitting around waiting for confirmation," Breeden told CNN.

Questioned about the delays, Capitol Hill and Bush administration aides said such hold-ups were not unusual in the federal government. Asked about the Campos nomination, a White House spokeswoman said, "He's going through the process."

Molly Rowley, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle, said "We expect that he'll be nominated ... We don't have any reason to believe that Mr. Campos' nomination won't be sent up." Campos could not immediately be reached for comment.

Meantime, the short-handed SEC is being hobbled. Last week, a judge dismissed an SEC action against accounting firm Ernst & Young, finding procedural error in the fact that only one commissioner could vote to approve the action, with two commissioners having recused themselves and two seats empty.

"As we saw with the Ernst & Young business, when you only have a small number of commissioners ... that in itself is a problem. But it's a bigger problem now with an embattled Pitt and the legitimacy of the whole agency under some assault," said Norman Ornstein, political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a policy study group.

SEC MEANT TO BE COLLEGIAL BODY

The SEC, created by Congress in the 1930s as a collegial body to encompass differing opinions, has five seats. Members are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. One of the members serves as chairman.

No more than three SEC commissioners may come from the same political party. In practice, that means the party in power chooses three commissioners; the one out of power picks two.

Pitt -- formerly an elite Wall Street lawyer who represented many of the accounting firms and corporations he now regulates -- is a Republican. He was nominated by Bush and confirmed by the Senate last summer.

Two other Republicans have been nominated by Bush. Glassman, a former economist at Ernst & Young, has begun serving under a temporary arrangement, but has not been cleared by the Senate. Paul Atkins, also a former accounting firm executive, has been nominated but not yet confirmed.

In January, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle began urging Bush to nominate two Democrats. He did so in April. One is Harvey Goldschmid, law professor at Columbia University in New York. In 1998 and 1999, Goldschmid was SEC general counsel.

The second is Campos, a lawyer and communications industry executive in Houston. He was formerly an assistant U.S. attorney in California, where he also practiced law privately.

Neither Goldschmid nor Campos has been confirmed by the Senate, like Glassman and Atkins. The Goldschmid nomination has been sent from the White House to the Senate Banking Committee for consideration, but that of Campos has not, sources said.

Aides said the committee had hoped to review and confirm all four nominees simultaneously, but this has been delayed.

Hunt alone voted on the Ernst & Young action, with Pitt and Glassman recusing themselves due to possible conflicts of interest. Pitt represented the firm while in private practice.

Commentary:
The Chairman of the SEC has to recuse himself on a regular basis, making him useless. Time for Bush to boot his butt out and put some people in who don't have a conflict of interest...something I think is impossible for this president. Bush needs to pay off a lot of people who donated to his campaign and to the republican party since he's been president (more than any president in history). They want something for their money--access and the ability to break laws with immunity.


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Resignation Pressures Mount on SEC Chairman Pitt
Reuters.com
July 08, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Harvey Pitt, embattled chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, faced more calls for his resignation on Monday, with markets awash in scandal and one lawmaker comparing the chief U.S. markets cop to bumbling TV deputy sheriff Barney Fife.

"We need somebody more like Eliot Ness (the legendary 1930s FBI agent) and less like Barney Fife," said Rep. Jay Inslee, a Washington Democrat, during a congressional hearing into the accounting scandal at telecommunications group WorldCom Inc., latest in a string of corporate controversies.

As President Bush prepared to make a much-awaited speech on corporate responsibility on Wall Street on Tuesday, Inslee called on him to seek Pitt's resignation, joining other lawmakers from both parties in similar appeals.

At a press conference on Monday, President Bush said Pitt has his backing. "I support Harvey Pitt. Harvey Pitt has been fast to act ... I think Pitt's doing a fine job," Bush said.

SEC spokeswoman Christi Harlan told Reuters, "There's no reason for Chairman Pitt to step aside. ... It's absolutely not helpful for people in positions of public trust to contribute to investor uncertainty with soundbites."

In a column in The New York Times, maverick Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain called for Pitt to step down.

Accusing the SEC chairman of an inadequate response to the troubles plaguing corporate America, McCain wrote: "While Mr. Pitt may be a fine man, he has appeared slow and tepid in addressing accounting abuses, and concerns remain that he has not distanced himself enough from his former clients."

On Sunday, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota accused Pitt of having a "cozy, permissive relationship" with U.S. corporations and called for his replacement.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said on Sunday Bush had total confidence in Pitt and rejected Daschle's charges.

Pitt, a former Wall Street lawyer with prominent clients that included major accounting firms, took over the SEC last August after being nominated by Bush and confirmed by the Senate.

Richard Breeden, former SEC chairman from 1989 to 1993, said Congress should be working with Pitt, not attacking him.

"They're playing a Washington political game here and this is a high-stakes game because the American public is disgusted with what it's seeing," Breeden said in an interview with CNN.

PITT EXPECTED TO WEATHER STORM

Pitt was likely to survive the criticism building against him since public interest group Common Cause initiated the resignation demands in May, said political observers.

"He is digging in here, as best he can, and unless there is another huge problem, he's probably going to be able to withstand the pressure. But he's going to be a regular whipping boy," said Norman Ornstein, political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a policy study group.

McCain, who ran against Bush in the 2000 Republican presidential primary, criticized Pitt for having to abstain from numerous SEC votes during his initial months as chairman because many actions up for votes involved former clients.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, in a television interview on Monday, said Pitt was intelligent and competent but had too many ties to the industry he is supposed to regulate. "For one thing, he's represented so many in the accounting industry, he frankly can't work more than a couple days a week on cases. He keeps recusing himself," Frank told NBC. "The SEC has suffered under the Bush administration."

Daschle told CBS, "I have to say that at this point, we could do a lot better than Harvey Pitt in that position today. ... That cozy permissive relationship has to end."

Daschle said Pitt was overseeing "a kinder and gentler SEC, just the opposite of what we should have had."


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Bush on the Defensive About Corporate Scandals
YahooNews/NPR/AP
Tue Jul 9,11:07 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush on the defensive about corporate scandals and his own record as a businessman a decade ago, pledged Tuesday to expose and punish acts of corruption with new penalties and stricter oversight. "Self-regulation is important, but it is not enough," he said.

The American economy today is rising while faith in the fundamental integrity of America's business leaders is being undermined," Bush said in remarks prepared for a speech on Wall Street.

"The business pages of American newspapers should not read like a scandal sheet. ... I am calling for a new ethic of personal responsibility in the business community — an ethic that will increase investor confidence, make employees proud of their companies and regain the trust of the American people," Bush said.

The president called on the U.S. Sentencing Commission to recommend longer prison terms for corporate executives guilty of fraud and announced a new task force for the pursuit and prosecution of corporate criminal activity. The task force would be headed by Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and include investigators from the Department of Justice ( news - web sites) and other agencies.

Bush also wants to double the maximum prison term for mail fraud and wire fraud to 10 years, and strengthen laws criminalizing document shredding and other forms of obstruction of justice.

Bush released a 10-point plan that builds on another one he issued in March. Aside from the task force, all proposals will require approval from lawmakers, stock market executives, regulators or the companies themselves. Bush would:

Enhance the ability of the Securities and Exchange Commission ( news - web sites) to freeze improper payments to corporate executives while a company is under investigation.

Persuade publicly traded companies to prevent corporate officers from receiving loans from their own companies.

Ask stock markets to require that a majority of a company's directors — and all members of the company's audit, nominating and compensation committees — have no material relationship with the company so that they are truly independent.

Bush addressed the corporate scandals and their political implications for his administration at a White House news conference Monday.

He was bombarded by questions about his record as a director at Harken Energy Corp. in the early 1990s. The SEC forced the company to amend its books to reflect millions of dollars in losses that had been hidden by the sale of a subsidiary to a group of insiders.

As Bush described it Monday, when the SEC cried foul on Harken's sale of a subsidiary to a partnership of its own executives, which had the effect of concealing $10 million in losses, "There was an honest difference of opinion as to how to account for a complicated transaction."

The president rejected comparisons to Enron Corp., where sham off-the-books partnerships were used to hide hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Arthur Andersen LLP was the accounting firm in both cases.

Asked if he, as a member of Harken's board at the time, approved of the questionable transaction, Bush shrugged. "You need to look back on the directors' minutes," he said.

Bush, who was on the company's audit committee, was the subject of a separate insider-stock trade investigation. The SEC took no action against Bush in that inquiry, which also found he had disclosed his sales of Harken stock later than the law requires on four occasions.

The president is calling for swift disclosure of such insider stock sales.

Pressed to explain his eight-month delay in reporting such a sale on one occasion, Bush said, "I still haven't figured it out completely." Previously, he had said he thought regulators lost the documents. Last week, the White House called it a mix-up by lawyers.

Bush acknowledged that unscrupulous accountants could use some of his own explanations on internal "differences of opinion" about his company's accounting to justify improper decisions by corporations.

"Sure, this is a handy excuse," he said. "But good prosecutors and a strong SEC will determine the difference between what becomes a handy excuse by somebody willing to defraud, and somebody who has just a difference of opinion."

He said that in New York he would call for a "stronger SEC" — one with 100 new enforcement officers, plus more investigators with $100 million more he asked Congress for.

Earlier this year, the White House proposed a "zero-growth" budget for the SEC that calls for staff reductions in securities fraud investigations.

Comment: Bush was born-again. As usual this man asks for more and more money to be spent because he's too inept to do his job. How about filling the SEC with people who can do their jobs first? Throwing more borrowed money at the problem seems to be the Bush motto."

Democrats were pouncing on the Harken history to promote their argument that Bush's strong financial and political ties to the business world undercut his credibility as a reformer.

"Bush and his economic team promising to crack down on corporate America is like letting the fox guard the henhouse," said American Family Voices, a group with ties to labor unions.

The organization was running TV commercials in Washington and New York reminding viewers of Bush's role at Harken.

Congress' top Democrats — Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt — appeared with former WorldCom and Enron employees to announce their own "investor's bill of rights" Tuesday.

Commentary:
The SEC is already crippled by political cronies who can't vote because of their ties to so many criminal institutions/investigations. Bush has no credibility since he used insider information in 1994.

Bush says accounting for a $10 million dollar loss is a matter of a difference of opinion. Accounting laws and regulations don't allow for opinion to enter into the equation.


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Bush Defends Sale of Stock
Tue Jul 9, 9:14 AM ET
NPR/YahooNews/The New York Times

WASHINGTON, July 8 President Bush defended himself today against a barrage of questions about his own corporate stock dealings even as he vowed to take a tougher line in a speech in New York on Tuesday against corrupt corporate executives

As pressures mounted today from Democrats in Congress, Mr. Bush repeatedly dismissed assertions that he had failed to properly disclose a 1990 stock sale, saying the criticism was nothing more than a political attack, although he acknowledged that he still did not know why the sale had not been disclosed as promptly as required by law.

"I still haven't figured it out completely," Mr. Bush said in a late afternoon White House news conference hastily announced after his return from a three-day vacation at his parents' summer home in Maine, and only 18 hours before what the White House has billed as a major presidential speech about corporate responsibility.

Asserting that a central element of his proposal is to strengthen the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Bush said, "I'll call for a stronger S.E.C., more investigators and more budget."

As Mr. Bush and Senate Democrats vied to seize political advantage on the corporate responsibility issue today, former top executives of WorldCom invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination rather than answer questions on Capitol Hill about a $4 billion discrepancy in the company's books.

At his news conference, the president was also vague and dismissive about the accounting procedures at a company on whose board he served, the Harken Energy Corporation. Harken was subsequently required by the S.E.C. to restate its earnings.

"In the corporate world, sometimes things aren't exactly black and white when it comes to accounting procedures," Mr. Bush said, referring to Harken.

Seeking to upstage Mr. Bush before his speech on Wall Street and emboldened by momentum created by fresh scandals at WorldCom and other companies Congressional Democrats moved to gain the upper hand by trying to broaden significantly the corporate reform legislation that is to be taken up by the Senate on Tuesday.

While the current focus of the legislation is on accounting-related changes, Democrats want to expand the measure to make it simpler to prosecute securities fraud, aid plaintiffs who want to bring private securities fraud lawsuits against corporations, and make it easier for securities regulators to levy fines and impose other penalties on executives and directors who commit wrongdoing.

Mr. Bush also said at his news conference that he wanted to strengthen enforcement powers of the S.E.C. and expressed confidence in Harvey L. Pitt, the chairman of the regulatory agency, whose resignation has been called for by Democratic Congressional leaders in recent days.

The curious timing of the news conference, in the White House press briefing room, appeared intended to distract attention from a day that would have been dominated by news coverage of the beleaguered WorldCom executives. The event also seemed an attempt to place Mr. Bush back in command at the White House after three days of television and newspaper pictures of him fishing and golfing in Maine, many of them accompanied by reports of the president's own corporate stock dealings.

White House officials also seemed intent on getting questions about Mr. Bush's stock dealings out of the way before his speech, which his advisers hope will clear the way for a more straightforward handling by the media of his remarks on Tuesday. But they probably did not anticipate that Mr. Bush's meeting with reporters would be so dominated by questions about Harken.

The scandals in recent weeks at WorldCom, Tyco International and other companies have added so much energy to the drive for corporate reform that the Senate accounting bill, which was struggling just a month ago, is now expected to pass by a wide margin.

Democrats are trying to take greater advantage of that favorable political momentum by adding significant amendments to the bill proposed by Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, Democrat of Maryland that may not have had enough support to pass the Senate just weeks ago. Many of these provisions have the support of the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, aides said today.

"The Sarbanes bill is a strong bill and a great starting point, but there are a number of areas where it can be strengthened," said Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who plans to offer several amendments.

Asked today about the Sarbanes bill, Mr. Bush said, "We share the same goals, and I'm confident we can get a good piece of legislation out of the Congress."

Mr. Bush added, "My concern on the Sarbanes bill is that there's overlapping jurisdiction, which will make it harder to enforce rules and regulations, not easier."

Mr. Bush insisted that the procedures at Harken were not similar to those at the bankrupt Enron Corporation, and that there was no malfeasance, saying, "There was an honest difference of opinion as how to account for a complicated transaction."

The most sweeping amendment to the Democrats' plan is a proposal by Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. That proposal creates a new felony for any "scheme or artifice" used to defraud shareholders; increases penalties for shredding or other destruction of evidence; offers new protections to corporate whistle-blowers; and prevents executives who lose securities fraud lawsuits from using bankruptcy to escape fraud-related verdicts and settlements. Mr. Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has the strong support of Mr. Daschle; many Republicans are also backing most provisions of the measure.

The proposal would, however, also lengthen the amount of time plaintiffs have to file securities fraud lawsuits, a provision many Republicans have objected to. Also, Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, is expected to offer another plaintiff-friendly amendment that would make it easier for investors to sue accountants, lawyers, investment banks and others who "aid or abet" securities fraud.

In another important amendment, three senators want to write into the law strict responsibilities for corporate lawyers. This proposal, by Mike Enzi, Republican of Wyoming, and Democrats Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey and John Edwards of North Carolina, requires corporate lawyers for publicly traded companies who receive credible evidence of material legal violations to bring the matter to the attention of management and, if ignored, the board.

Mr. Levin plans to offer an amendment that would empower the S.E.C., without first going to court, to ban "unfit" officers and directors from publicly traded companies; fine accountants, lawyers, companies, executives and directors who violate securities laws; and obtain records for financial investigations without disclosing the subpoenas.

Even with all the new political momentum, the Democrats have to be careful, as whatever they pass still faces a showdown in conference committee with a much different legislative package approved in April by the Republican-controlled House. If the Democrats put too many new items on their bill, that could undermine its support among some members and reduce the legislation's momentum.

It is unclear whether Mr. Bush's news conference will put the questions behind him, particularly because he offered less of an explanation today than he and his advisers have in the past for why he was eight months late disclosing his 1990 sale of Harken stock on a document called a Form 4.

In his 1994 race for governor of Texas, Mr. Bush said that he thought he had filed on time but that the S.E.C. had misplaced the proper disclosure forms. Last week, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, attributed the late filing to a "mix-up" with Harken's lawyers. Mr. Bush said today, "As to why the Form 4 was late, I still haven't figured it out completely."

Mr. Bush repeatedly said that his stock sale and late filing were old news, and that it had been used against him by his political opponents for years. "People love to play politics," Mr. Bush said. Then he added: "That's nothing new. That happened in 1994. I can't remember if it happened in 1998 or not. It happened in 2000. I mean, this is recycled stuff."

At issue are 212,140 shares of Harken stock that Mr. Bush sold on June 30, 1990, for $4 a share, or $848,560, eight days before Harken finished its second quarter with a loss of $23.2 million. By August, the share price had fallen to $2.37. The S.E.C. investigated on suspicions that the transaction was conducted on the basis of insider information, a potential crime, but dropped the investigation in 1993, saying that "at this time no enforcement action is contemplated."

Today Mr. Bush said that by his accounting, he had actually lost money on the sale. "I sold the stock at 4, and 14 months later you know, the holding period for capital gains I think was 12 months in those days the person who bought my stock could have sold it for 8, could have doubled his or her money."

Aides to Senate leaders said they hoped that widening the scope of their bill would illuminate what they believe is a sharp contrast with a weaker plan by the Bush administration.

"I'm afraid he's going to try to blur the difference and get away with something without real teeth in it," said a senior aide to the Democratic leadership. "I think he's going to stand up there, with a great deal of hoopla, and deliver what sounds like a responsible position, but do nothing to support a responsible bill."

Commentary:
Bush made over $800,000 from a crocked stock deal and now says he doesn't recall and it's old news. I'm thinking if I made $800,000 in one day, I'd remember every detail of it---how about you? The man is a pathological liar.


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Whitman and Climate Report
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Christine Todd Whitman, the top U.S. environmental regulator, said on Wednesday she was not told in advance about a controversial Bush administration report that concluded greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities were the primary cause of global warming.

The report caused a stir last week among environmentalists because it appeared to align the administration with scientists who believe vehicle emissions and pollution from power plants and oil refineries have caused global temperatures to rise.

The United States is the world's biggest energy consumer and emissions producer.

President Bush dismissed the report as a product of the federal "bureaucracy." Bush said he had read the report, but the White House later said the president was only briefed on the study.

The report was quietly posted on the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site after it was sent to the United Nations.

Whitman, the head of the EPA, said she did not read the report in advance and was not even aware of the study until news organizations reported it.

"I knew about it when I read it in the paper," she told reporters on Wednesday following a speech at an energy efficiency conference in Washington.

Green groups have long questioned whether Whitman has a say in setting administration environmental policies, or if those decisions are made by White House officials. Her comments on the climate change report raised more doubt.

'ABSENTEE LANDLORD AT EPA'

"It certainly creates the appearance that she's an absentee landlord at EPA," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust. "It's starting to look like she's (EPA) administrator in a ceremonial capacity."

Whitman said she was briefed on the EPA report after it was published.

The report's conclusions were reviewed by the staff of the EPA, the State Department and other agencies before it was published, Whitman said. "Since nobody saw anything earth-shattering in what the conclusions were ... they didn't think they needed to raise the red flag," she said.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Wednesday he was out of the country when the report was released and he did not read it in advance, nor has he since been briefed on the study. Energy Department staff helped write the report.

Whitman, along with White House officials, have tried to downplay the controversy by citing a speech Bush gave last year when he stated that human activities were a cause of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the administration's new report went a step further, saying human activities were primarily to blame for global warming and have caused "surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise."

Environmentalists seized on the report as a major change in Bush administration policy. In the past, green groups pointed out that the administration had said the science was unclear on the causes of global warning.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES TO FIGURE IN ELECTIONS

With environmental issues likely to figure in November's congressional elections, a group of Senate Democrats last week demanded that the White House clarify if it stood behind the report or not.

Democrats have accused the administration of trying to relax various anti-pollution policies that are costly to industry. Republicans maintain that more voluntary and market-based programs can achieve the same results.

The Bush administration has been repeatedly criticized by the European Union for not doing more to reduce carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming.

Green groups have urged the United States to re-sign the international Kyoto treaty that seeks to reduce the world greenhouse gas emissions by setting nation-by-nation targets.

The White House rejected the treaty as too expensive for U.S. industry and instead put forward a program encouraging American firms to voluntarily curb heat-trapping emissions.

Whitman said the climate change report's conclusions would not alter administration policy. "We certainly aren't changing our position on Kyoto," she said.

Whitman said she would reiterate the administration's opposition to the treaty at a UN-sponsored conference on world poverty and environmental issues in Johannesburg, South Africa, later this summer.

Commentary:
Conservatives....ya gotta love them. Don't bother them with the fact...they're conservative and their ideology dictates to them their version of the truth. Geez. Energy and the EPA had no idea this report was coming out and they wrote it. And these guys get paid to do this?


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Scandal, Fear and Malaise
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nine months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States finds itself in a jittery mood, as scandal and doubts envelop a growing number of major institutions.

The CIA, the FBI, the Roman Catholic Church, the stock market, major corporations, accountants and brokers are among the organizations and professions facing criticism either for their honesty or their ability to perform -- or both.

"The country is restive. There's all this worrisome stuff happening and there's deepening concern about whether the dangers are being properly addressed," said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas.

"Sept. 11 has affected the way we feel. People are not changing their lifestyle but how they look at life has changed ... We all know that there is the potential for more bad things to happen to our country," said Ed Klimek, mayor of Manhattan, Kansas, a town of 44,000 in the American heartland.

A sense of anxiety about the reliability of company balance sheets has weighed down the stock market for weeks. Ordinary investors, who rode the boom of the 1990s, now seemed spooked as the value of their retirement funds erodes day by day, although the economy has resumed growth.

In one Wall Street Journal survey released this week, 57 percent of respondents expressed lack of confidence in corporations and brokers to give them honest information.

Additionally, 59 percent said they lacked confidence in the intelligence services; 68 percent said the Catholic Church was covering up the child-abuse scandal instead of releasing the facts, and 54 percent expressed negative views about drugs companies, suspecting them of manipulating prices.

"We have an extremely jittery nation. I do sense there is tremendous insecurity out there. It's almost like the reaction of children whose parents get divorced and start to question everything they once took for granted," said Jennifer Laszlo, a public opinion pollster.

PAST PROBLEMS OVERCOME

The United States has gone through such periods of doubt before, notably during the Vietnam War and again in the late 1970s when a recession and energy crisis prompted then President Jimmy Carter to deliver what became known as his "malaise" speech, declaring that the country was facing a deep crisis of confidence.

So far, President Bush seems to be largely untouched by the malaise, although his approval ratings have slipped a little in some polls below the 70 percent mark -- still high in historic terms but below the stratospheric levels Bush recorded for many months after Sept. 11.

The president tried to calm fears by announcing his support for the creation of a new government department of homeland security. But this week's disclosure of a new alleged terror plot to build a "dirty bomb" gave Americans something new to worry about.

Laszlo said Bush's support was wider than it was deep, bolstered by the fact that Americans desperately needed someone to trust and partly by the fact that the Democrats had not managed to tie him personally to any of the failures.

But Buchanan said the president seemed for the time being to have lost his ability to inspire the nation, which he had demonstrated so well in his speech to Congress a week after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed around 3,000 people.

BUSH UNABLE TO INSPIRE

"Bush seems to have lost his rhetorical ability to rally and inspire for the moment. He's in damage control mode right now," said Buchanan.

Comment: Hey Pat, he never had the ability to rally the nation. The country didn't need this wimp to tell us anything we already didn't know.

With the military campaign against Afghanistan largely over, the next stages of Bush's "war against terrorism" seem ill-defined and complicated, hamstrung for the time being by seemingly intractable conflicts between India and Pakistan and between Israel and the Palestinians.

So far, at least, the polls have not detected any groundswell against the president's party in the upcoming November mid-term congressional elections. But voters seem to be paying little attention to the campaign at this stage.

However, there are signs that Americans are beginning to change their behavior in response to the gnawing uncertainty, which has been fueled by a steady stream of government warnings that more attacks on civilians are inevitable.

Financial analysts were surprised this week by a drop in retail sales in May of 0.9 percent instead of a predicted increase of around 0.3 percent. The figure increased fears the economic recovery underway from last year's mild recession would be sluggish, though few expect a "double-dip" recession, which would see the economy begin to contract again.

The analysts are awaiting other economic reports to see whether American consumers are turning conservative in their buying habits.

Commentary:
Bush the boring is what he is. The man needed 9/11 to protect us from his programs, lies and personal failings. The press seems to think it's the job of the democrat party to unearth the truth about Bush. And here we thought it was there's. Wake up press and do your jobs, or better yet move and let the next generation do it for you.


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