Cheney defends Administration Fearmongering

Cheney defends Administration Fearmongering and large amounts of money given to Halliburton to promote the Illusion of Security
Cardinal Richelieu Cheney said Friday that terrorist non-Christians are "doing everything they can" to get weapons of mass destruction to kill hundreds of thousands of Christians Americans "in a single day of horror" and that all suspected heretics should be reported and subjected to inquisition.

His appearance before the conservative Heritage Foundation marked the latest in a series of speeches top administration officials are giving in hopes of instilling a growing fear in the hearts of Americans curbing the growing criticism over the U.S. handling of Iraq.

"Some claim we should not have acted because the threat from Saddam Hussein was not imminent," Cheney said. "non-Christian Terrorist enemies of the faith our country hope to strike us with the most lethal weapons known to man and it would be reckless in the extreme to rule out inquisition action and save our worries until the day they strike."

"If you give me six lines written
by the most honest man, I will find
something in them to hang him
—Cardinal Richelieu Cheney
Richelieu adhered to the maxim that "the ends justify the means." Although he devoutly believed in the mission of the Roman Church, he sought to assign the church a more practical role. Richelieu argued that the state is above everything, and that religion is a mere instrument to promote the policies of the state.

The Cosmic Iguana of manis2society has another CIA outing for us to consider: Think Valerie Plame times two.

The father of slain CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann said Thursday he believes an independent counsel should investigate allegations that someone in the Bush administration exposed a CIA officer's identity -- an act he called treasonous.

Spann, the first American killed in Afghanistan, died in a prison uprising. His father, also named Johnny Spann, said he is still angry because he feels his son's identity and hometown were disclosed before his son's family could be adequately protected. see the links at the Cosmic Iguana
via the fabulous Suburban Guerrilla Susie Madrak where you will find more of Margaret Cho ripping Ann Coulter.
Len over at Musings of a Philosophical Scrivner has an interesting interview with Molly Ivins about the "de eadukashun" pReznit when he was in Texas





Follow, if you will, this twisted tale of special legislative relief, tailored, it would seem, for the benefit of one specific company - a company already under fire for unsevered ties to the Vice President and preferential treatment in no-bid contracts in Iraq.

Update 1: Halliburton to end request for asbestos stay

Halliburton Co. said on Monday (Sept. 29) it would cease trying to extend a bankruptcy TRO blocking more than 200,000 asbestos injury claims, and said it will make a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in November. Once filed, the bankruptcy plan automatically blocks any further asbestos claims, even if the court's stay has expired. Halliburton estimates the cash portion at $3.05 billion, or 9.8 percent higher than previous forecasts. Combined with the value of 59.5 million common shares to be contributed the total cost of the settlement exceeds $4.5 billion.

UPDATE 2: September 30, 2003 Insurers Oppose passage of S. 1125 In a letter to Majority Leader Frist insurers admit that almost all costs of S.1125 will be borne by the Insurance Companies - not defendants like Halliburton:

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act (S.1125), by a vote of 10-8-1, with Senator Kyl abstaining. As the legislative process and debate move to the full Senate, we want to express our immense disappointment with the current state of S.1125, and to explain why we must now vigorously oppose this bill.

UPDATE 3: September 30, 2003 The Asbestos Alliance website is offered by "asbestos defendant companies", "trade associations", and "insurers" and made to appear as if it is an asbestos victims support site. Tactics include efforts to get asbestos victims to ask their Senators and Congressional Representatives to support the legislation. Using the appellation "non-profit organization" this site obscures the fact that it's membership is entirely composed of "for BIG profit" companies and their "for profit" insurers:

The Asbestos Alliance is a non-profit organization comprised of asbestos defendant companies, trade associations, insurers and others seeking congressional legislation to solve America's asbestos litigation crisis.

Where does the government of the United States end and the corporation known as Halliburton begin? Corporations have always exerted great financial influence in Washington in the form of contributions to candidates, and corporate interest lobbies have supported legislation that benefits their membership. But the current legislation known as S.1125 smacks of something quite different. It seems to be especially beneficial to one particular corporation: HALLIBURTON.

First, take a look at S.1125.IS (you must type S.1125.IS in the "bill number" window):

Under Section 403 at the end of the bill you will find the following language:

(a) EFFECT ON FEDERAL AND STATE LAW- The provisions of this Act shall supersede any and all Federal and State laws insofar as they may relate to any asbestos claim filed under this Act.


(1) IN GENERAL- Any agreement, understanding, or undertaking by any person or affiliated group assigned to Tiers II through VI with respect to the treatment of any asbestos claim filed before the date of enactment of this Act that requires future performance by any party shall be superseded in its entirety by this Act.

(2) NO FORCE OR EFFECT- Any such agreement, understanding, or undertaking by any such person or affiliated group shall be of no force or effect, and no person shall have any rights or claims with respect to any of the foregoing.

(c) EXCLUSIVE REMEDY- The remedies provided under this Act shall be the exclusive remedy for any asbestos claim under any Federal or State law.

This means that this legislation, sponsored by Senator Rick Santorum, will RETROACTIVELY supersede all settlements previously made between Halliburton and the 200,000 claimants Halliburton has agreed to compensate with an amount between $2.775 billion and $4.3 billion:

Halliburton Reaches Agreement To Achieve Global Settlement of Asbestos Claims
* Plan covers all present and future asbestos claims, fully and permanently resolving all personal injury asbestos liability.
* Plan provides that Halliburton will retain 100% ownership of DII, KBR and all other subsidiaries.
* Plan preserves rights of customers, employees, vendors and financial creditors -existing contracts and obligations will be honored and creditors will be paid in full under terms of their agreements.
* Up to $2.775 billion in cash, 59.5 million Halliburton shares and notes with a net present value expected to be less than $100 million . . . . [Ed. note: Present value of Halliburton shares is $24.03 Sept. 29, 2003 market open.]

If S.1125 passes as-is, Halliburton's obligation to pay this $4 billion would disappear. Instead, the corporation would be bound by the provisions of S.1125. Here is what Halliburton has to say about that:

Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said if the legislation passes before the company's settlement is finalized, Halliburton's asbestos claims would move to the national fund. The company says it doesn't know if it would save money that way. [Ed. note: Emphasis added.]

Halliburton "doesn't know if it would save money that way" like we don't know if the Pope is Catholic.

Under this legislation, the top contributors to the fund, or Tier 1 contributors, are bound to pay a percentage based on 2002 "earnings," as reported to the SEC. Under Section 203 (b), corporations are to pay 1.5005 percent of the debtor's 2002 revenues in years 1 through 5 and declining percentages of that amount for the next 27 years. It does not matter if the "settlement is finalized" or not. The legislation supersedes any financial settlement.

So let's take a look at Halliburton's 2002 revenues to see what 1.5005 percent will be:

Revenues in 2002 were reported at $12.57 billion of (mainly taxpayer) dollars, so 1.5005% is $188,642,860 a year for the first five years, or $943,241,300 overall, which is just under one-quarter of the $2.775 billion in cash and 59.5 million shares (value $1,431,570,000) proposed under the previous settlement agreement.

NOTE: If S.1125 passes expect the stock price to return to pre-asbestos claim levels of $45 per share or more. Any increase in the price of the stock will personally benefit Cheney. Although he has pledged any dividend income on his stock options in Halliburton to charity (reducing his tax burden?) he has not relinquished ownership thus benefiting from the gain in equity.

After the first five years, the yearly obligation drops to $169 million a year for three years, with declining amounts for the years that follow. So Halliburton is looking at, at a minimum, a $3 billion advantage through this legislation over the next five years. And to top it off, Halliburton is substantially insured - so effectively, in fact, that the company may pay nothing after collecting the insurance. At 1.5% and falling for 27 years, the "loss" will be made up in insurance and 1.5% price increases.

Just think how the 51 Republican senators who have indicated their approval of the legislation are salivating at the prospect of a major contributor having billions of extra dollars to spread around in campaign contributions.

Given that Halliburton stock fell from a high of $45 per share prior to the asbestos problem that caused it to plummet to $8.50; it would be reasonable to expect the stock to regain that loss and more on the passage of S. 1125. If that happens Vice Presiden Richard Cheney stands to double the value of his stock options along with all of the shareholders of Halliburton stock.

This gain in equity is only part of the shift in financial power that fuels the campaigns of candidates for elective office. Trial lawyers who support Democrats will suffer significant financial loss while Republicans that benefit from 100% of the Halliburton political contributions will benefit from significant financial gain.

For the background and history of Halliburton and S.1125 Asbestos Legislation go here.

Great Reading at Open Source Politics
Jeff Alworth’s Cheney Lied
Susie Madrak’s
Self-defense for VotersGeorge Will’s context by John Williams Jeremy Puma’s Republican’s are just mean
The Pot Calling the Kettle Pious by Earl Dunovant Colin Powell is Done by Kenneth Quinnell Civility Dawn’s on Bush by Kevin Hayden

Robert Novak is a coward - The CIA's Patriotic Math - A Matter of Trust - I Have A Little List
all are about The Valerie Plame Affair

More good progressive blogs that deserve your attention:
Notes on the Atrocities - The Right Christians-- Suburban Guerrilla -- US Democratic Veteran -- Shock and Awe -- Prometheus 6 -- The People's Republic of Seabrook -- Lean Left -- Body and Soul -- SouthKnoxBubba -- Seeing the Forest -- The Incomparable Mad Kane -- blah blah blah 3 -- Rum inate This -- Democratic Underground -- The Lefty Directory -- Bart Cop -- The Smirking Chimp -- Busy Busy Busy -- Scoobie Davis

LIBERAL LINK-A-THON: moving progressive blogs up through the blogosphere Half the Sins of Mankind -- Sadly No ! -- rantavation -- The Mad Prophet Blog -- Mouse Musings -- A Rational Animal -- The Funny Farm -- Arms and the Man -- The Modulator -- WTF is it Now -- Out toLunch -- Nitpicker -- To the Barricades -- Folkbum’s Rambles and Rants please consider these fine progressive bloggers for your blogrolls and links.

The Troglodytes that elected Schwartzengroper are the concern of Maru the Crankpot at WTF is it Now
Da Gropenguvnor is gonna need a lota luck sez Jack at The People's Republic of Seabrook
A Rational Animal has Herr Rumsfeld left out of the Loop
High on the list of Halliburton information sources: is Arms and the Man
NPR interviews AEI NeoCon by rantavation
Arnold's Ode is up at the The Incomparable Mad Kane
GOPZILLA is the subject over at the Democratic Underground
Ruminate This move by GWB "lowering expectations" in leaky DC.

LIBERAL LINKS UPDATE on the Recall (mostly):
FantasticPlanet has a great link to the Gropenguvnor's Japanese TeeVee ads. (Quicktime movies) heheheheheh.
The Modulator links to some Recall Positives.
There are signs of the Apocalypse in California according to The Peoples Republic of Seabrook
SouthKnoxBubba has his own take on the new Super Hero of California, and
Kevin at Lean Left offers more notes on the Wierd Election in the Golden State.
Go wish The Funny Farm a happy first birthday of blogging - you also get to see Tom via digital photography.
It's pathetic over at SouthKnoxBubba
The Democratic Veteran hopes that Gray Davis has a nice retirement, and the SteroidFuhrer has a wake-up call that the job involved more than just showing up...like he does for movies.
The Cheeseweasle adds err subtracts err crunches the numbers for Ahnuld, and leads us to George Wills Conservative Travesty
The Cosmic Iguana hits on potential Gropenator lawsuit number one - this one from the UK and Thars gold in them thar wars.
Emphasis Added covers winner take all aspects of the Recall
From the Swamp has Greg's take on the Recall
The Gutless Pacifist gives us Conan the Governor and Comics for Swartzengroper
The Liberal Oasis has Four Lessons from the Recall but they do not mention the one(s) just below.
Mark A. R. Kleiman has a short take on the Recall results
Plucky Punk's Happy Land thinks Californians my be fleeing to Santa Fe to escape the Terminator
Meanwhile Nurse Ratched's Happy Valley Asylum Notebook has patients from California lining up for immigration status to Canada

Kenneth Quinnell of T Rex has Right Wing Zombies classified (Like the Rush Limbaughmicus) at Open Source Politics
The Blowtorch Monkey Armada's Palmer Hass has his first post up at Open Source Politics

Stephen at To the Barr icades turns 50: I am fashionably late in wishing him a happy 'it's not ALL downhill from here' day. We welcome Chris Grubner of American Dissent to OSP and agree that Republicans are out of their Gorditas
Natalie Davis at All Facts and Opinions is right _ we should be outraged until they Free Tommy Chong
I wonder if the Limbo Mumbo Jumbo druggie has looked into getting one of these yet _ read about the whizzinator at The People's Republic of Seabrook
Nurse Ratched over at the Happy Valley Asylum is gonna wash the foul mouthed administrations mouth out with soap. Meanwhile The Mad Prophet Blog's C. Bryan Lavinge explains his long absence. Does Ahnuld need practice? asks the Modulator Will computer woes stifle The Funny Farm? stay tuned for clues.
Speedkill has moved to a very nice new address. Update and blogroll progressive bloggers.

Final Push for S.1125 Asbestos Legislation


To fully understand the implications of S.1125 legislation, it is necessary to review some of the history of Halliburton and its asbestos problem.

On Tuesday, September 30 (tomorrow) the latest extension of a temporary restraining order will expire at midnight. As you read the material below, you'll discover the strategy of Halliburton's settlement team, and the reason for the notice sent last week of a bankruptcy filing planned for November will become perfectly clear.

Halliburton's major problem began back in 1998, when the company sought to solidify its dominance by the purchase of its chief rival:

Back in 1998, when he was CEO of oil-services giant Halliburton Co. (HAL ), Vice-President Dick Cheney oversaw the purchase of a smaller rival, Dresser Industries Inc. On Dec. 7, the deal backfired on his former company. When a little-known former Dresser subsidiary suffered defeat in a key asbestos litigation case, worried investors sent shares plunging 42%, to $12.

Halliburton began settling asbestos claims at a rate of 140 cases a day, paying an out-of-pocket average of $220 per case.

Halliburton executives say the Dallas-based company settled 36,000 asbestos claims last year for slightly less than its average historic cost of $750 each, that insurers picked up all but $220, and that the management remained committed to fighting unreasonable settlement demands.

"We have got a strategy of being willing to take every single case to trial if we have to, but last year ended up in trials that concluded in verdicts in only 17," Chairman Dave Lesar said last week. "We settle, on average, 140 cases in a positive way every day. We don't put a press release out every time that happens."

The asbestos lawsuits caused huge problems for investors, and, coupled with falling energy prices, the stock value fell from $45 to $8.70

Halliburton was already well off its 52-week high of $45 because of falling energy prices. Now investors are scared the company is about to get eaten by the asbestos monster--the same one that bankrupted Johns Manville and Owens Corning. With their coffers empty, asbestos lawyers are now going after other companies such as Halliburton, Viacom (VIA ), and Pfizer (PFE ). Although none of them produced the flame retardant, all sold products containing it or bought companies with asbestos exposure.

You'd think asbestos-exposure verdicts totaling more than $130 million against Dallas-based Halliburton (HAL ) might have a negative impact on the oil-patch giant's stock. Think again.

Since the latest Texas jury verdict in December, shares of Halliburton have rebounded by about 50%, to $13 a share, from a 52-week low of $8.70.

To assist in recovery from the stock price free-fall, Halliburton pushed a settlement strategy and benefited from rumors that major asbestos legislation would be passed. [Ed. note: the share price hit $25.90 last week]

Driving the run-up: The company rushed forward with a plausible strategy to deal with the lawsuits. Plus, rumors spread that President Bush would propose limiting corporations' exposure to asbestos litigation in his State of the Union address. After all, Vice-President Dick Cheney used to be CEO at Halliburton. However, the State of the Union address came and went on Jan. 29 with no such proposal in it.

The legal strategy was more complex, because it would depend on the text of the legislation. So Halliburton began settlement negotiations as asbestos claims reached 275,000. The original settlement was announced in December of 2002, and a temporary restraining order was obtained in February of 2003. The strategy of the company has become increasingly clear as the temporary restraining order has been renewed at least twice since February. The last renewal came in July and it expires on Tuesday, September 30.

Click here for the May 21, 2003 Client Information Letter and Temporary Restraining Order of February 2003, now in effect until September 30, 2003, after two extensions.

Click here for a compendium of all Halliburton press releases and asbestos related filings from attorneys Motley and Rice.

The Notice of Bankruptcy filing for November is now understandable in the context of this history and the excellent prospects for passage of S.1125.

Halliburton/Units: To Mail Disclosure Statement 09-22-03

HOUSTON (Dow Jones)--Halliburton Co.'s (HAL) DII Industries Inc., Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. and other affected units began soliciting claimants in connection with its planned asbestos and silica settlement.

Last December, Halliburton agreed to pay $4 billion in cash and stock to a trust that would pay current and future asbestos claims. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to put DII unit, including its Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. construction business, into bankruptcy proceedings.

In a press release Monday, the oilfield-services company said the disclosure statement, which incorporates and describes the plan of reorganization and trust distribution procedures, is being printed and mailed to asbestos and silica claimants for the purpose of soliciting votes to approve the plan of reorganization.

The company expects the mailing process will be completed in less than two weeks.

Remaining conditions to a Chapter 11 filing by the affected Halliburton units include completion of definitive financing arrangements, approval of the plan of reorganization by required creditors, including at least 75% of known present asbestos claimants, and Halliburton board approval. In July, Halliburton warned the cash required to fund the settlement may modestly exceed $2.78 billion, as a result of an increase in the estimated number of current asbestos claims. If this occurs, the company would need to reach an agreement with the claimant representatives to adjust the settlement matrices to reduce the overall amounts or increase the amounts the company would be willing to pay to resolve its asbestos and silica liabilities, resulting in an additional condition to a Chapter 11 filing. If all remaining conditions are timely satisfied, Halliburton anticipates that DII Industries, Kellogg Brown & Root and the other affected units would make the Chapter 11 filing in November. [Ed. note: Emphasis added.]

In case you ever previously wondered why George W. Bush and his friends have strongly pushed for tort reform to put lower caps on class-action lawsuit settlements, look no further than the case of mega-contributor Halliburton. How does a company that's repeatedly detailed its plans to file for bankruptcy for the past three years still generate wads of cash donations for Republicans?

On Monday, Halliburton began yet another mailing to participants, outlining its plan to file for Chapter 11 reorganization in November. This delay in payments on 200,000 claims for asbestos-related injuries is entering yet another phase.

This is reminiscent of the Exxon delays in paying settlements for the Valdez spill. Will it go on for 14 years without a dime being paid until friendly judges can reduce the settlement to peanuts?

Stay tuned for more amazing stories of corporate weasels re-writing the law while benefiting from billions of your taxpayer dollars.