Saturday, December 31, 2005

May Not Be a Great New Year For Everyone

THE WASHINGTON POST concluded the year with a series of interesting pieces on Jack Abramoff. It's safe to say that 2006 may not be the best of years for Abramoff and those associated with him. The story is getting more and more complicated and the Post stories are a good place to start if you want to get up to date on the emerging scandal.
Read more from the series at the following links.

How A Lobbiest Stacked the Deck [Wa Po]
A High Powered Lobbiest's Swift Fall From Grace [Wa Po]

Just Inside the Beltway is signing off for the new year. We'll try to be better in 2006!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cheap Move at the Times

THE NEW YORK Times has long thought of itself as God's gift to all media. JIB likes to read the Times as much as anyone, but that has become more difficult since a recent decision by the paper to charge a fee to read Times columnists online. It's standard practice these days for a paper to charge a fee to look through archived news stories -- but the Times charges a fee even if you want to read a columnists on the day he or she is published. Outrageous! It used to be part of my weekly routine to check out the latest columns by Friedman, Brooks, Krugman, and -- yes-- even Dowd. But no more. Just Inside the Beltway is a little behind on this story, I know (the new policy has been in effect for several months now), but it is worth mentioning because I am now forced to take off my links to any NYT columnist. So long Thomas. Auf Wiedersehen David. Au Revoire Maureen.

Monday, December 19, 2005

In This Town, a Redskins Win Over Dallas Beats Anything Bush Has to Say

JUST INSIDE THE Beltway can't pass up on an opportunity to speak briefly about the most important thing that happened yesterday. (No, it wasn't Bush's prime time Iraq update) The Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys 35-7. Washington is a town that loves its football and they love it even more when their beloved home team can trounce an opponent like Dallas. Not just because they are the arch-rival Cowboys, but because those same Cowboys have dominated the Redskins for the better part of a decade. Well, not yesterday -- and not this year. For the first time since 1995 the Redskins swept the season series and kept alive their hopes of making the playoffs.

Yesterday's game was the first meaningful game between the two teams this late in the season since 1992. You can bet that DC is on cloud nine this morning because it's easy to forget losing all those meaningless games when you win the only one that really had something riding on it. It's one thing to play the Cowboys when both teams are heading toward 5-11 seasons, it's altogher different when both teams are playing to have a shot at the playoffs, even the NFC East division title. This game mattered (the way so many used to matter in the 1980s) and the Redskins responded by dominating every aspect of the game. That hasn't happened much in recent years so you'll forgive this city if we celebrate a bit.

Of course, none of it will matter if the Redskins lose next week to the Giants.

Bush in Prime Time

WHEN YOU PUT 'prime time' and 'Sunday night' in the same sentence, most people think about ESPN's football wrap-up show. But on this Sunday night, Chris Berman was replaced by George Bush as POTUS game yet another speech about the progress being made in Iraq. The difference between this speech and others, however, is that Bush was unusually subdued and contrite. Some highlights and newspaper commentary follows:
  • Bush sounding like more of a realist: "This work has been especially difficult in Iraq -- more difficult than we expected. Reconstruction efforts and the training of Iraqi security forces started more slowly than we hoped. We continue to see violence and suffering, caused by an enemy that is determined and brutal, unconstrained by conscience or the rules of war." [WP, NYT, USAT]
  • Bush was "uncharacteristically contrite"; speech "culminated a weekend in which his administration tried to retake lost ground" on Iraq and national security. [WP, NYT, NYT, USAT]
  • Cheney made a surprise visit to Iraq this weekend, and had some suprising reactions to what he saw: "Well, Iraq's looking good. . . I think when we look back from 10 years hence, we'll see that the year '05 was in fact a watershed year here in Iraq." [WP, NYT, USAT]

Monday, December 12, 2005

Abramoff Spreading the Wealth

WE DON'T YET know what the Justice Department investigation into the dealings of Jack Abramoff will turn up, but we now have a pretty clear picture as to where his money was coming from and where it was going. Monday's Washington Post has details (with charts) on the money trail. And if there is one thing that is clear it's this: Abramoff knew where to put the money! Among the top 20 recipients were 8 members of the appropriations committee and 6 committee leaders. With the help of the Post we dig a bit deeper:

Abramoff doled out $5.35 million over a 5 year period from 1999-2004.

Where did it come from?
  • The vast majority came from his dealings with cash-rich Indian tribes ($4.7 million), including $1.6 million from the Mississippi Brand of Choctaw Indians and $1.1 million from The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Where did it go?

  • $3.41 million went to Republicans and $1.88 went to Democrats
  • The top recipient in dollars was Conrad Burns (R-MT), Chairman of the Senate Interior appropriations subcommittee ($146,000). Hmmm, wonder if he had any influence on appropriations for Indian tribes.
  • Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI), a member of House appropriations committee, received $131,000.
  • J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), and John T. Doolittle (R-CA) round out the top five

Stay tuned...