Hypocrisy in action
- The Democratic and Neo Con Daddy Warbucks, Feinstein and Cheney.
Senator Feinstein's War Profiteering
by Joshua Frank
February 28, 2006
It happens all the time. If the antiwar movement takes on the Democrats for
their bitter shortcomings, a few liberals are bound to criticize us for not
hounding Bush instead. It doesn't even have to be an election year to get
the progressives fired up. They just don't seem to get it. "How can you
attack the Democrats when we have such a bulletproof administration ruling
the roost in Washington?" somebody recently e-mailed me. "Don't you have
something better to do than write this trash?!"
Well, not really. It's too cold in upstate New York right now to do
anything other than fume over the liberal villains in Washington. "Why do I
write about the putrid Democratic Party?" I responded, "I'll tell you,
there's a reason this Republican administration is so damn bulletproof
nobody from the opposition party is taking aim and pulling the trigger."
And that's why the Dems are just as culpable in all that has transpired
since Bush took office in 2000. They aren't just a part of the problem
the Democrats are the problem.
I mean, who is really all that surprised Bush and his boys wanted to
conquer the Middle East? Not me. That's just what unreasonable neocons do:
they stomp out the little guy, kill off the weak, and suffocate the
voiceless. They only care about the girth of their wallets and the number
of scalps they can tack above their mantles.
The Democrats aren't just letting the Republicans get away with murder,
however: some of them are also reaping the benefits of the Bush wars. We
constantly hear about Dick Cheney's ties to Halliburton and how his
ex-company is making bundles off U.S. contracts in Iraq. But what we don't
hear about is how Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her husband are also
making tons of money off the "war on terror."
The wishy-washy senator now claims Bush misled her prior to the invasion of
Iraq. I don't think she's being honest with us, though. There may have been
other reasons she helped sell Bush's lies. According to the Center for
Public Integrity, Feinstein's husband Richard Blum has racked in millions
of dollars from Perini, a civil infrastructure construction company, of
which the billionaire investor wields a 75 percent voting share.
In April 2003, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave $500 million to Perini
to provide services for Iraq's Central Command. A month earlier in March
2003, Perini was awarded $25 million to design and construct a facility to
support the Afghan National Army near Kabul. And in March 2004, Perini was
awarded a hefty contract worth up to $500 million for "electrical power
distribution and transmission" in southern Iraq.
Feinstein, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee as well as the
Select Committee on Intelligence, is reaping the benefits of her husband's
investments. The Democratic royal family recently purchased a $16.5 million
mansion in the flush Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. It's a
disgusting display of war profiteering, and just like Cheney, the leading
Democrat should be called out for her offense.
And that's exactly why the Bush administration is so darn bulletproof. The
Democratic leadership in Washington is just as crooked and just as callous.
March 1, 2006
The Democrats' Daddy Warbucks
Feinstein family war profits, part II
by Joshua Frank
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum, could well be called the
Democrats' Daddy Warbucks. He's scored bundles from war contracts. He has
recently purchased a $16.5 million crib in San Francisco and along with his
wife has handed hundreds of thousands of dollars over to fellow Democrats.
Since the 2000 election cycle, Blum has contributed over $75,000 to the
Democratic Senatorial Committee, and thousands more to individual
Democrats, including John Kerry, Robert Byrd, Joe Lieberman, Ted Kennedy,
and Barbara Boxer.
Richard Blum's history as an entrepreneur began at the ripe age of 23 when
he began to work for the San Francisco brokerage firm Sutro & Company. Blum
quickly climbed the ranks and became a partner by the age of 30. According
the San Francisco Chronicle, "Blum proved that he had an eye for
fixer-upper properties when he led a partnership that acquired the
struggling Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for $8 million then
sold it to Mattel Inc. four years later for $40 million."
In 1975, Blum went out on his own and formed a brokerage agency. Today,
Blum's lofty firm, Blum Capital, holds positions in more than 20 companies,
including real estate giants, credit bureaus, and yes, even military
Blum sees himself as an altruistic capitalist, claims one of his
ex-employees: "He likes to go after companies that are down and out, and
bring their stock back to life. He thinks he's doing good." Blum shares a
large stake in Perini, a civil construction company that is happily
employed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But not all of Blum's war profits come
from Perini. In 1975, his venture capital firm went after fledging
construction and design company URS when the business was about to be
bought out by another corporation.
Since then, Blum has increased his stock in URS, capitalizing on its recent
military contracts. Unlike Blum's dabbling with Barnum & Bailey, his
current profits aren't so safe for child consumption.
Here are the basics to date: Blum currently holds over 111,000 shares of
stock in URS Corporation, which is now one of the top defense contractors
in the United States. Blum is an acting director of URS, which bought EG&G,
a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S.
military, from The Carlyle Group in 2002. Carlyle's trusty advisers, past
and present, include former President George H.W. Bush, James Baker, and
ex-SEC Commissioner Arthur Levitt, among other prominent neoconservatives
and Washington power brokers.
URS and Blum have since banked on the Iraq war, scoring a phat $600 million
contract through EG&G. As a result, URS has seen its stock price more than
triple since the war began in March 2003. Blum has cashed in over $2
million on this venture alone and another $100 million for his investment
"As part of EG&G's sale price," reports the San Francisco Chronicle,
"Carlyle acquired a 21.74 percent stake in URS second only to the 23.7
percent of shares controlled by Blum Capital."
The Carlyle Group has long been accused of exploiting its political
connections to turn a profit. And if Carlyle can come under the microscope
for its government ties and war profiteering, as it did in Michael Moore's
Fahrenheit 9/11, than surely Blum's URS ought to be subject to the same
Owen Blicksilver, Blum's spokesman, claims his boss and Sen. Feinstein have
never talked shop at home in their gated mansion: "Mr. Blum and Sen.
Feinstein have never had any discussions about outsourcing, government
contracts, or URS."
If this were a Republican senator's spouse scoring bundles off the spoils
of war and passing it along to fellow Republicans, the liberals would be up
in arms. But since Dianne Feinstein is a leading Democrat, mum's the word.
Partisanship trumps ethics.