Reports out of Washington are about the Bush administration trying to distance itself from Enron. It is reported that Enron officials called on the Secretaries of Commerce and Treasury in October seeking help to influence banks as their credit crunch was beginning to snowball. Ari Fleischer and others in the administration were making the point that the administration took no action on the requests. As if this gave Bush and his team some brownie points.
Last year as the California energy rates were skyrocketing amid widespread reports of price gouging and with Enron rolling in millions from consumers there, Ken Lay met personally with Dick Cheney. The next day the administration announced it would not be imposing price controls on electricity.
The GOP economic "stimulus" package of 2001 was set to give the biggest corporations in the nation handouts ... rebates for the "alternative minimum taxes" they've paid over the past 15 years. The biggest sinkhole into which these dollars could be sunk: Enron. It was up for $254 million under that plan. Enron stands to collect most of that in the newly revised version being pushed by the administration, the one that W says will help put people back to work.
In 1993 while working on an oversight committee, Wendy Gramm, wife of Senator Phil of Texas, helped Enron get an exemption from regulations. Five weeks later ... she joined Enron's Board. In recent years, Phil has received nearly 100,000 in campaign contributions from Enron. That does not count the huge amounts donated to him by Lay and other Enron chiefs directly.
Enron got special legislative treatment so that its operations fell in the cracks between securities regulators and commodities regulators. Last year,when Lay complained to Bush that the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wasn't quite with the program, the man was replaced by a more docile successor.
By the way, Enron flew Poppy and Barbara Bush to W's inauguration. Even the new chairman of the Republican Party, Marc Racicot, is an Enron lobbyist.
All this, of course, is just a little bit of this whole amoral and greedy mess. So, the administration did nothing to urge bankers to help the free-falling Enron in October. So what!? The Bush team had already served Enron extremely well.
San Marcos, Texas
With the Enron debacle thousands of workers have lost their retirements and thousands of small investors have lost their lives' savings. Now something strange is happening. We don't see thousands of people waving flags and making up donations for these unfortunate citizens. What has happened to "UNITED WE STAND? Is it NOT as patriotic to help victims of predatory capitalists, as it is to help victims of foreign terrorists?
Dan & Beverly Sweeton
The last issue of The Progressive Populist, 2/15/02, did a good job of detailing the many aspects and interconnections between the Bush administration and the Enron scandal. Your various reporters uncovered what amounts to a "hidden government" in the activities of certain un-elected individuals. Prominent among these "movers and shakers", former Secretary of State under Bush the elder's administration, James Baker, is mentioned no less than four times, in different articles, as a power behind the throne. He headed the legal team whose efforts resulted in garnering Florida's electoral votes for Bush the lesser; he headed the law firm representing the oil companies trying to get the oil from under the Caspian Sea; he occupied a seat on the board of directors of Enron; he was a consultant with the Carlyle Group, an investment firm which cooked up the "Economic Offset Program" with Saudi Arabia and which was characterized as a "kickback scheme" for providing money to rich Saudi businesses with ties to the royal family. As the Enron scandal unravels perhaps we'll get to identify more of these un-elected policy makers. If this shameful scandal doesn't result in Campaign Finance Reform, nothing will.
Thomas A. Comeau
Lemon Grove, Cal.
After years of being a left-wing supporter I am left with a feeling of nausea. I think I have finally figured out why.
Many liberal pundits are on the public dole at the local university safe from the perils of unemployment and with fat retirement benefits. Some are drawing big compensation from their own tax-free organizations. Others are being paid handsomely by establishment media as the "house-liberal".
Not one liberal pundit ever suggests a positive alternative, say like a real revolution, or creating, or supporting an alternative economic/political lifestyle. I am quite sure that few of these so-called liberal pundits believe that capitalism can be reformed or that complaining without action will make any difference. They must appreciate that world over-population is a major problem, that organized religion is but an agent of government, charged with crowd control in exchange for lucrative tax relief benefits, but they are silent.
Modern liberal pundits make Republican Abraham Lincoln sound like a liberal. Lincoln described a revolution as a people's right, to be used to dismember or overthrow a government in which they have grown weary, [First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861].
Bush has outlined the largest increase in military spending in decades. It's no secret that he has as many friends who will profit from making war as he does who have and will profit from his tax cuts, his environmental protection roll backs and from recently acquired access to previously blocked oil reserves.
Bush has outlined a growing list of countries to wage war on or in and has already begun to move from Afghanistan to the next country on the list, the Philippines. As long as we are at war he hangs onto a percentage of voter approval that he would be otherwise deprived. Just take a look at his approval rate prior to Sept. 11 last year. War has been and will continue to be the perfect distraction to lull the masses. A tool ideally suited for the Bush administration and much of Corporate America that moves taxpayer dollars in their favor and their favor alone.
Thankfully a choice few who actually have the power to stand in the way of such subtle dictatorship are taking a stand, even against the flow of the blind "patriotism" expressed by the masses that are held down with fear, insecurity and revenge that is given them by a bought and biased media. Our own Congress and House of Representatives are slowly catching on to the motivations of those select few so that those few are growing in number. They are receiving the needed push to demand an accounting of such examples of the relationships between the executive branch of the federal government and Corporate America as is represented in the General Accounting Office vs. VP Dick Cheney. They are tearing down the walls of secrecy relating to the executive branch teamed with the intelligence community with regard to their knowledge of world activities, specifically along the lines of terrorism. This secrecy is represented with Bush and Cheney both requesting that Tom Daschle ease off of investigations of the same.
Make no mistake that truths will come out no matter how diligently the Bush administration attempts to quell them. While the masses are busy waving flags at CNN coverage some Americans are turning off their TVs and pulling out their magnifying glasses and stethoscopes for a better look and absolutely will not keep quiet of what they find. Our masses will be reawakened because a growing number have waged a "War on Ignorance".
Santa Rosa, Cal.
Arianna Huffington's 2/15/02 column, "Memo to Washington: We can handle the truth," did a good job of excoriating both the Enron crooks and their "paid help" in the Bush administration.
Her comic relief of cutting through the dissembling and cover-ups in the administration and Enron by imagining the scene of Don Evans being interrogated in a game show like The Chamber was hilarious.
However, if I were going to imagine a truly independent congressional investigation, I myself would imagine for instance a certain Senator Ralph Nader, like a revenging archangel, grilling these corporate and government crooks in the glare of a public trial and exposing the whole sorry mess for average Americans to see and understand how far the government and corporate overlords have gone in destroying their democracy, and impoverishing and deceiving them.
A few weeks ago, Nader was on ABC's This Week with that low-life PR flack from the Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, and he wiped the floor with him. Nader expressed the truth and rage that all average Americans feel about corporate Ponzi schemes like Enron, and the government's complicity in aiding and abetting the corporate crooks.
It is too bad that more average Americans do not watch the Sunday morning talk shows, and had the chance to see Ralph Nader, like no other political figure, express the MAJORITY feelings of most Americans, who see this combined corporate and political crime of Enron being pushed under the "rug of lies" that the ruling elite use to further bury any real popular democracy.
I've just read my new copy of Appalachian Alternatives, Winter 2002 No. 70. It lists around 600 donors to this Appropriate Technology Demonstration Center & Appalachian Sustainable Forest Center in Kentucky. It thanks over 7,000 of us who bought Simple Lifestyle Calendars, and thanks 60 institutions and individuals who became Kentucky Solar Partners. The only presidential candidate appearing in the list is Ralph Nader! He is a man in touch with the everyday reality of American life. I am grateful that he was on the November 2000 ballot, to give us the choice of a real candidate, not a packaged one.
After reading Alexander Cockburn's 2/1/02 article "Enron and the Green Seal" six times, I have some questions and some answers. The questions are, where it is written, "Whereby some outfit like the NRDC or ED" does the word like mean similar to? "Whereby some outfit like" should not be there. It should have read "The NRDC or ED would issue testimonials ..." The rest of the sentence doesn't make sense. What is incorrect? What is he trying to say?
It is only recently that I've been reading about "market oriented inducements to environmental problems" for the sake of regulation. Can he be specific and give examples?
The sentence, "the quickest transition for virginity to seasoned performance ..." doesn't make sense. Wouldn't from virginity to seasoned performance have made some sense?
Also, why did Cockburn mention Environmental Defense when he gave no data of what they did or did not do? How can be justify that? Why didn't he mention the Sierra Club as well?
My answers are, it seems to me that article was written awfully fast and edited quite poorly by somebody. And I'm not going to stop being a supporter of NRDC. It seems to me that looking at the big picture and weighing the positive benefits vs. negatives destructiveness of a company or an individual or organization are more important than one or two mistakes or flaws of such.
Although I loathe Phil and Wendy Gramm, Dick Cheney and all the other characters in James Cullen's article "Drain the Swamp" [2/15/02 TPP] and I enjoyed the information and humor immensely, I still must object to calling Wendy Gramm "Wendy" and the men by their last names. It is an old feminist objection in me from years ago when we noticed that the symmetry of calling children by their first names and adults by their surnames and of calling women by their first names and men by their surnames equates women with children, a longtime tradition in patriarchy. Patriarchy is still at the root of our national psyche and words that reflect this reinforce it. If "Wendy," as head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, could exempt energy futures contracts from regulatory oversight, she is one of the "powerful boys in the evil empire" and needs to be treated as such. Evil does not have a sex, but patriarchy is usually pretty evil. Eradicating sexism will at least help us recognize that greed is the problem, not men. Patriarchy just facilitates a certain group's access to the booty. Even without greed, though, patriarchy has never been good for women and children. Thank you.
[Editor's Note: The editorial in question also called George W. Bush and Ken Lay by their nicknames on succeeding references.]
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