Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Bush's Budget Director Treated for Smoke Inhalation

(2004-02-03) -- White House budget director Joshua B. Bolton was briefly hospitalized today and treated for smoke inhalation and lacerations after a freak accident involving the Bush administration's $2.4 trillion budget proposal for 2005.

"Mr. Bolton was preparing to do a presentation about the budget when he was overcome by the smoke, fainted and actually shattered one of the mirrors which cut him in several places," said an unnamed senior administration official. "We're still working to confirm rumors that Mr. Bolton may have been juggling chainsaws at the time."

Mr. Bolton had been preparing to explain to Republican lawmakers how President Bush's budget adheres to the conservative values of smaller government and fiscal restraint.

The 2005 budget proposal projects a $521 billion deficit, with spending increases for the departments of Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, the Veterans Administration and the IRS. The expenses of war in Afghanistan and Iraq are not included in the $2.4 trillion total, and neither is the Homeland Security department's $2.5 billion Project BioShield.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Jude Wanniski's Take: Trent Lott Promised a Smoking Gun

He also cites a July 2002 Washington Post story that lays out what everyone who was paying attention at the time knew: Iraq was no immediate threat to anybody:

Despite President Bush's repeated bellicose statements about Iraq, many senior U.S. military officers contend that President Saddam Hussein poses no immediate threat and that the United States should continue its policy of containment rather than invade Iraq to force a change of leadership in Baghdad.

The conclusion, which is based in part on intelligence assessments of the state of Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and his missile delivery capabilities, is increasing tensions in the administration over Iraqi policy.

The cautious approach -- held by some top generals and admirals in the military establishment, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- is shaping the administration's consideration of war plans for Iraq, which are being drafted at the direction of Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The senior officers' position -- that the risks of dropping a successful containment policy for a more aggressive military campaign are so great that it would be unwise to do so -- was made clear in the course of several interviews with officials inside and outside the Pentagon.

High-level civilians in the White House and Pentagon vehemently disagree. They contend that Hussein is still acting aggressively, is intimidating his neighbors and is eager to pursue weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.

These officials say time is not on the side of the United States. "The whole question is, how long do you wait with Saddam Hussein in possession of the capabilities he has and would like to have?" said Richard N. Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory group.