Morning Report 12/4/04
A Decorated President

Lighting up the White House

Yes, yes, reconstruction of Fallujah will take some time, but all the Christmas decorations are already up at the White House and they look just great.

"Happy Holidays to you all," Laura Bush told reporters on Thursday. "Good to see you all. I'm so excited to welcome everybody to the Christmas decorations to the White House right now, and I think the White House looks really terrific."

The Bushes, under the personal protection of new Homeland Security chief Bernie Kerik (left), arrive at the Pageant of Peace at the Ellipse on Thursday to light the National Christmas Tree

George W. Bush joined in the festivities, telling the crowd at Thursday's National Christmas Tree lighting on the Ellipse, "Tonight we begin a joyous season, and the city of Washington is never more beautiful than during the holidays."

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Well, it's not so beautiful for everyone. Income inequality is wider in the District of Columbia than in any other major U.S. city, as I pointed out in an October 25 item about plans for welcoming D.C.'s new baseball team.

The president, of course, is a former front man for the former owners of the Texas Rangers—he chipped in 1.8 percent of the purchase price and reaped a fortune when the team was sold. But the really good news this season, as he told the tree-lighting crowd, is you-know-what:

At Christmas time we celebrate good tidings first announced two thousand years ago, and still a source of great joy in our world.

So what if most of the world doesn't see our Christian crusade that way. To stir up your own holiday excitement, take a look at Fact Sheet: White House Holiday Decorations, which details the merry preparations.

Did you know that there are 155,500 Christmas lights adorning the White House this season? Laura Bush's fact sheet doesn't note this, but, as of 10 a.m. on December 3, that's 123.7 lights per U.S. soldier killed in Iraq so far. That's my calculation based on Donald Rumsfeld's fact sheet.

¶ Even in Iraq, the Red states support Bush

The Bush regime's situation in Iraq is so desperate that it finds itself in agreement with Iraq's Communists—though for different reasons—that elections must go forward as scheduled.

A story by the Washington Post's Peter Baker on Thursday, "Bush Dismisses Talk of Delaying Iraq Vote," included this passage:

"The thing that has kept the Shias out in the country quiet is that there would be an election by January," said Henri J. Barkey, a former Clinton State Department official now teaching at Lehigh University. "Any backing off from that date would be seen as abandonment."

Any delay, he added, would be considered caving in to the insurgents and would encourage further violence. "Not having elections would be taking the lid off the powder keg . . . and anything can happen after that."

Now turn to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting's fascinating Iraqi Press Monitor, which excerpts this passage from an editorial in the Iraqi Communist Party's newspaper, Tareek al-Shaab:

We have emphasized the importance of holding elections as stated in the transitional administrative law. Elections will legitimize the Iraqi authorities.

Resorting to pretexts (such as saying elections will not be honest) is futile and will justify the foreign presence under the excuse of insecurity.

We have been working on making elections succeed. Our party understands the call to postpone elections as based on caring for their success. If a comprehensive agreement occurs, there must be a program of procedures to provide the necessary prerequisites for elections.

¶ Somebody's blinkers are on

Good luck scraping together any gold during your golden years. Even the Bush regime occasionally leaks the truth about its scary plan to privatize Social Security. From a Friday New York Times story:

A top economic adviser to President Bush strongly implied that any overhaul of the system would have to include major cuts in guaranteed benefits for future retirees.

¶ No protection for the grouse

Yes, you're in danger. If you don't believe me, wait until Bernie Kerik (see photo above) starts lecturing you—if he's not laughed out of the Senate during confirmation hearings.

But under Bush, even the entire concept of "endangered species" is endangered. The latest target: the sage grouse. As Felicity Barringer of the Times reports:

Amid an intense lobbying effort by energy and ranching interests in the West, a team of Interior Department biologists has recommended that the sage grouse, a bird whose sagebrush territory has been vastly reduced by farming and development, is not threatened with extinction and does not for the moment need to be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

It seems that Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton is worried that the grouse will "disrupt development." For more, see this story on

My prediction: The next target of the administration is the nattering nabob. Too much negativism. Might interfere with holiday shopping.

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