$40 million for a party. mostly from corporations that almost directly benefit from the war in iraq. i guess he should take it because it's all donated money, of course you'll take handouts. corporations and charities should have done better to donate their wealth to places where obviously it is most needed.

this is why india refused tsunami aid - they claim they have funds enough to cover losses all on their own. they don't want strings attached. they think it's a form of colonialism.

but the inauguration committee still should have taken strides to keep this thing from ballooning into the moster that it already is. the latest count are nine balls.

no matter how people justify spending that much for a party, there's still choices all sides could have taken so this event doesn't make non-military residents of the u.s. look, for once, like escapist fools. or fools in denial.

i'm disappointed because it shouldn't take too much effort to realize that this money could be spent better elsewhere - better armor for military currently in the field, for one. and then all the planes to fly them all back.

the president is ducking his head - his wife refers to him as a symbol. analysts predict there will be no jokes in his speeches this time. he'll still hold aloft a flute glass and toast the national guard reserve at their free ball. i hope someone calls out a question to him they way one soldier did, at the prompt of a reporter, donald rumsfeld when he visited them in the field: "so when are our brothers coming home?"

Expense Draws Wrath, but Not From Charities
By Carol Morello
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 16, 2005

... Rep. Anthony D. Weiner (D-N.Y.) said he has heard grumbling from some of his constituents in Brooklyn and Queens.

"These are sober times," said Weiner, who wrote a letter urging Bush to redirect the inaugural money to equipment or bonuses for U.S. troops. "We have 150,000 troops at war. We have a world recovering from the greatest natural disaster in recent memory. The image that is most troubling is of a president in black tie holding a champagne flute at a time when so many soldiers are eating out of a plastic pouch while getting shot at in Iraq." [ more ]

No Limits for Inaugural Fund-Raisers
By Glen Justice
The New York Times, Jan. 15

... The committee took advantage of campaign finance laws that allowed companies, which are prevented from contributing to candidates during the election, to donate freely to the inauguration and offered packages that include premium tickets to the festivities and special events with the president.

"Corporations do this as a matter of course," Mr. Reynolds said. "Many corporations had this in their budget for this year. Without knowing whether a Republican or Democrat was going to be elected, they had money already budgeted." [ more ]

For Inauguration in Wartime, a Lingering Question of Tone
By John Tierney
The New York Times, Jan. 16

... President Bush, like most of his wartime predecessors, is not halting the inaugural partying, but this year's planners are striving for a solemn mood. The inaugural events, with the theme of "Celebrating Freedom and Honoring Service," will begin Tuesday with a tribute to the military. After Mr. Bush takes the oath on Thursday, there will be a "Commander-in-Chief Ball" that evening for 2,000 troops who have either served in Iraq or Afghanistan or are headed there. Separate gestures are being made by corporate sponsors like Amgen, a biotechnology firm, which is assigning all its inaugural tickets to employees serving in the National Guard.

"Our tone throughout the inaugural events will show gratitude toward those who protect the ideals that make our nation so great," said Jeanne L. Phillips, the chairwoman of the inaugural committee, which seeks to raise $30 million to $40 million through ticket sales and private donations to pay for the events. [ more ]
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