Daily Archives: July 15, 2004

Here We Go Lay-DeLay: Corruption Widespread in Corp Govt

FITE Newsletter #32

Is “The System” working? That’s the question posed each time there is a national scandal. Now that we’ve seen a select few financial heads pictured in handcuffs and put on trial, we are supposed to conclude that the system “works”. This is an old method. We can recall at least as far back as Watergate when a presidential resignation and some convictions “proved” that our system was healthy.

Hardly. The corporate-political crime in this country has been shown to be widespread. In other words, “Kenny Boy” Lay is being prosecuted because the totality of Enron’s collapse set off too many alarm bells to ignore. We have learned of Enron’s stealing mega-millions through price rigging in California’s deregulated market only because of their going belly-up.

Without this collapse it would have been debatable as to what caused the skyrocketing energy costs in California. Less dramatic thievery continues by a substantial collection of thieves- not just “a few bad apples”, as Paul Krugman has noted- who have also bilked tax payers, in some evaporating the life savings of hard working taxpayers. But as their losses did not lead to total, public collapse, we ‘know nothing.’ More on this can be found on our web site.

Enron’s fall has fortunately helped expose some of the chicanery of powerful Tom Delay, House Majority Leader. Delay’s securing large contributions from Lay/Enron for “the redistricting effort in Texas” violates Texas law. We can safely predict that if Delay pays any sort of penalty, the usual bards will be announcing that the system has “worked.”

Instead, the actions of Enron and Delay remind us of the dominance of the tight-knit political-corporate elite that has wrested so much from public control and the public’s treasury. Paul Krugman targeted this axis, noting that:

The larger picture is this: Mr. DeLay and his fellow hard-liners, whose values are far from the American mainstream, have forged an immensely effective alliance with corporate interests. And they may be just one election away from achieving a long-term lock on power.



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Da Coach Update

No dice. WaPo says Ditka turned the Pubs down. I’m sure TCF is suitably…disappointed by the loss of such a promising entertainment. Better luck next time, Bert. Of course, this does mean that the Illinois GOP still doesn’t have a replacement for Ryan. The word is that after Ditka nixed a run, they went after Ryan–to come back. Now there’s a smart move. Has the GOP lost what’s left of its mind? They’re acting almost like, well, Democrats.

Update to the Update: Au contraire, TCF is relieved. I think he’s losing his sense of humor over there…. BTW, a commenter at TCF says Atrios says the newest GOP brainstorm is Ted Nugent. That’s too good to be true….

Voting in Florida–Here We Go Again

Brother Jeb’s promises to clean up the Florida election process–which lacked all credibility to begin with–have proven to be (TA-DA!) a sham.

MIAMI, July 14 – Three years after Gov. Jeb Bush announced a new voting system that he called “a model for the rest of the nation,” Florida is grappling with some of the same problems that threw the 2000 presidential election into chaos, as well as new ones that critics say could cause even more confusion this November.The touch-screen voting machines intended to cure many of the ills of 2000 have raised a host of other concerns here just four months before the election. A new state rule excludes the machines from manual recounts, and the integrity of the machines was questioned after a problem was discovered in the audit process of some of them. Voting rights groups filed a lawsuit last week challenging the recount ban, and a Democratic congressman has also sued to request a printed record of every touch-screen vote.

The controversy over the new equipment is just one of Florida’s challenges, which also include confirming which voters are ineligible, training poll workers on new policies and processing a flood of new registrations.

This is called ‘baffling them with bullshit’. Touch-screen systems have been notorious for their unreliability for at least four years, so Jeb buys…wait for it…touch-screen computers! Of course. After the controversy surrounding Florida’s illegal manipulation of the ineligible voter lists (yes, folks, what they did with them in 2000 is against the law), they ‘reformed’ the system this year…by hiring the same people and ordering them to do the same thing except this time they were to leave Hispanics off the list altogether. See, the ineligibility list is disproportionately loaded down with the names of innocent black folks, who vote Democratic, while Hispanics–who vote Republican, at least in Florida–were missing completely, innocent or not.

That list, thanks to those pesky watchdog groups, has been junked by the state after a judge ordered them to release it and the clumsy manipulation of it was plain for everybody to see. But you may rest assured that Jeb isn’t going to let that stop him from ensuring his brothers win in Florida by hook or–preferably–by crook. He has a lot of tricks up his sleeve yet, and time is running out. Unfortunately for poor Jebby, though, people are watching this time. The US Civil Rights Commission is holding hearings on the list they tried to slip through, and voting rights groups are centering in on every move he makes.

But I have a question: Who’s watching Ohio, the home state of Diebold and its loyal GOP chairman? You know, the one who said he would do everything he could (and he owns the machines that do the counting) to get Bush elected? Anybody tracking him?

Re-Defining Imperialism

Ultra-conservative commentator Max Boot, who normally just looooves the rattling of sabers, has decided that the only problem in Iraq was the way Bremer handled the PR. Along the way, he decides to re-define ‘imperialism’ as ‘foreign intervention’–and then defend it.

With the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded and L. Paul Bremer III back at home, it’s time to ponder the future of American imperialism. Many, of course, will huffily reply that U.S. imperialism has no future, and they will point to all the troubles we’ve encountered in Iraq during the last year as evidence.But whatever happens in Iraq, there will continue to be strong demand for U.S. interventions around the world. Failed states and rogue states constitute the biggest threats to world peace in the foreseeable future, and only the United States has the will and the resources to do anything about them. Even many of those who detested the invasion of Iraq plead for the U.S. to bring order to places like Darfur, a province in Sudan where genocide is occurring. The U.S. cannot shrug off the burden of global leadership, at least not without catastrophic cost to the entire world, but it can exercise its power more wisely than it did in Iraq over the past year.

One of Bremer’s chief failings was that he tried to act the part of an imperial proconsul. He and his spokesmen hogged the media spotlight, which only exacerbated Iraqis’ tendency to blame them for everything that went wrong, from too many car bombings to not enough electricity.

Apparently it isn’t just Karl Rove and the BA who have an unstinting belief in the power of imagery. See, we didn’t make any mistakes in Iraq and nothing bad is really happening there and we didn’t cut the Iraqis out of the chance to reconstruct their own country in order to hand $$BILLIONS$$ in contracts to the Vice President’s Corporation, Halliburton, and other US companies with long histories of overcharging and shoddy work and fraud. No, uh-uh. The problem is, rather, that Paul Bremer was on tv too much.

Having once read a book about it, Boot goes on to argue for his favorite form of empire–the British Empire of the 19th century–a direct slap at Paul Wolfowitz who has made it quite plain that he prefers the Roman Empire as a model. Because that’s the real argument in proto-neocon circles. They’re not debating whether or not America is to become an empire; as far as they’re concerned, that train left the station when the Soviet Union collapsed (‘only the United States has the will and the resources’). No, no. America’s destiny is as an Empire. They’re arguing over which form the empire should take.

If you want to know which form a second Bush Admin would take, Mr Boot has thoughtfully laid it out for you: it will begin the formation of the New American Empire (format yet to be determined), an Empire we simply have no choice but to create, and it will do it openly–no more pussy-footing around, pretending occupations aren’t occupations and puppet govts are genuine. No, we will be calling the shots, and Mr Boot prefers that when we do it, we don’t do it in front of cameras so the whole world can see us doing it. He thinks we should run our New Empire…discretely. With rapacious ruthlessness, to be sure, but also with the good taste not to brag about it too much or be overly heavy-handed. He thinks it will last longer that way.

But I have an alternate suggestion, since it’s all PR anyway. The New American Empire: Let’s not and say we did.