Friday, August 22, 2008

* Terrorists or the marriage of elected officials to lobbyists ~ which is the more dangerous threat to Americans? In a NY Times book review of Thomas Frank’s “The Wrecking Crew” we learn, “The increasing supply of lobbyists, Frank observes, “should have driven the price of lobbying down, not up. … The most credible explanation … is that clients grew more and more confident that their lobbyists could deliver something of value in exchange for their fees. … The reason companies started buying, in other words, was that Congress began selling. Special-interest earmarks in legislation by members of Congress have exploded in number, while careers in elected or appointed office are apprenticeships for lobbying jobs.”

Since congress sets the rules for lobbyists and their interaction with elected officials the public is virtually defenseless against their self-aggrandizement. In the last decade ethics oversight of congressman has been virtually non-existent. Given the existing circumstances foreseeable change is not likely because the inmates are running the prison. Where is the public outcry? It is distracted by nonsensical issues promulgated by Republican spinmeisters, buoyed by the myopic pleas of the religious right and too often reinforced by corporate media magpies. Nor should Democratic congressmen be held blameless. There is some merit to their argument that their bare majority in Congress is insufficient to bring about meaningful change but one wonders if this is not also a cover for their complicity in the lobbyist culture. And, we the people are not blameless. Every poll demonstrates that the American people are completely fed up with Congress but when polled about their own elected officials they would return them to office. If this is a result of being comfortable with the devil that you know, welcome to hell.

~ Bovine excreta of the week - In an interview on Wednesday McCain said about lobbyists, “Whenever there’s a corrupt system, then you’re going to have these birds of prey descend on it to get their share of the spoils. … Lobbyists don’t come to my office. Because they know they’re not going to be an earmark. They know they’re not going to get a pork-barrel project… I think there are too many lobbyists in Washington.” For the record, McCain has at least 159 lobbyists – on leaves of absence - running his campaign, fundraising, and shaping his policies. ProgressiveAccountability.org lists the names, firms and issues.

* Another wedding you don’t want to attend ~ John McCain and corporate America – From ThinkProgress.org “The Hill reports that the CEOs of the 100 biggest Fortune 500 corporations have given approximately 10 times as much to John McCain as they have to Barack Obama. One explanation for this “generosity,” as outlined by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, is that McCain’s proposed corporate tax cuts would result in a $45 billion tax giveaway to the 200 largest corporations in America and a total of $175 billion in corporate tax breaks. Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips would each receive over $1 billion in tax breaks. It is obvious that their campaign contributions are a most prudent “investment.” Given the current federal debt, the fragility of the American economy and the deteriorating financial condition of most Americans this country cannot afford the corporate tax reductions that McCain proposes. If McCain and corporate America consummate their marriage close to 300,000,000 Americans get screwed without the benefit of an orchestra or a honeymoon.

* Like Vana White, just flipping letters ~ Wal-Mart / Mal-Mart – The leading retailer in America once again demonstrated its disdain for integrity, employee rights and probably federal law. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Prominent labor groups are seeking an investigation into whether Wal-Mart Stores Inc. violated federal election laws by telling employees that electing Democrats would lead to passage of legislation making it easier to unionize companies.” The article outlines a number of misleading claims aimed at intimidating employees of the Arkansas-based retailer. To learn more about this egregious icon of 21st Century corporate culture I suggest a visit to WakeUpWalMart.com and The Real Wal-Mart Facts. Their track record of being an irresponsible employer is only the tip of the iceberg.

*Where did I put that house? – Most of us have at one time or another misplaced the keys to our house. It is especially rare to misplace a house. Meet John McCain. On Wednesday McCain said he was unsure how many houses he and his wife Cindy owned but his staff would get back to the reporter who made the inquiry (USA Today reports that the McCains own 12 luxurious homes valued at over $10 million). The damn biased media have to stop asking the Senator from Arizona such nuanced questions. Before you know it they will begin asking him meaningful questions about the U.S. economy, where it is likely he will trip over his lip.

* McCain says he has strong national security credentials – The Jed Report provides a video of John McCain appearing on Larry King Live in 2001 saying, “if he'd been president, he'd have picked Donald Rumsfeld to be his Secretary of Defense and Dick Cheney to be his VP.” We unfortunately know how that scenario worked out! Is there any doubt that Cheney would have manipulated McCain the same way he pulled the strings of George Pinocchio Bush?

* I could use some friends in high places ~ versus friends who use to get high – This week I wrote a check to pay my county real estate tax. On that same day I read an article about the Governor of Nevada. It seems that the “honorable” Jim Gibbons (he is facing ethics and criminal investigations on unrelated matters) will face the state Ethics Commission for his role in securing a $5,000 tax break on his property near Lamoille, Nevada. The tax break allowed Gibbons to pay only $40 in state taxes for 40 acres of land. One dollar per acre! My annual property tax calculates to five dollars per square foot! Talk about inspiration to run for public office!

* Were you heartened when so many of our national leaders spoke out about Russia invading Georgia? Typical of the responses was the comment by Mitt Romney who said, “Russians have shown their willingness to act militarily against a sovereign nation.” His outrage and hand wringing was matched by the likes of Bush, Rice, McCain, Lieberman, Graham and every neocon this side of the military-industrial complex – all of whom strongly and complicity supported the U.S. invading the sovereign nation of Iraq.

* It has been leaked to the media that Joe Lieberman has been vetted as a potential Republican VP selection. As much as Lieberman has kissed-up to the Christian religious-right and embraced McCain/Bush policies it could be argued that the possibility is credible. I believe that this Jewish Senator from Connecticut has as much chance of being John (America is a Christian nation) McCain’s running mate as George Bush has of his profile being chiseled into Mount Rushmore.

* Corruption: the dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain – the web site Obsidian Wings did a Google search for “Bush administration + corruption.” The result was 2,640,000 web links. The article was pointing out the corruption this country has been subjected to over the last 7 plus years as a prelude to its comments about Medicare fraud. Misleading comments by Medicare officials in 2006 led Congress to believe that its efforts to reduce fraudulent and improper claims were successful. “But according to a confidential draft of a federal inspector general’s report, those claims of success… were misleading… Medicare officials told outside auditors to ignore government policies that would have accurately measured fraud, according to the report. For example, auditors were told not to compare invoices from salespeople against doctors’ records, as required by law, to make sure that medical equipment went to actual patients.” I say let’s not be too critical of these Medicare officials. They were wearing their American Flag pin on their lapels during testimony thereby providing them immunity from perjury.

* George Bush’s Peepness Envy ~ England’s spying program on its citizens may be bigger than his – An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph found, “In one week, the average person living in Britain has 3,254 pieces of personal information stored about him or her, most of which is kept in databases for years and in some cases indefinitely… The data include details about shopping habits, mobile phone use, emails, locations during the day, journeys and internet searches.” A recommendation for college students: if you read this article it will not be necessary to read George Orwell’s “1984” next semester. “The book has major significance for its vision of an all-knowing government which uses pervasive and constant surveillance of the populace, insidious and blatant propaganda, and brutal control over its citizens.”

The Washington Post this week published an article about the amount of data the U.S. government is collecting on its own citizens when crossing the borders with Canada and Mexico. Like the terrorist watch list so much information is being collected, ostensibly to protect us, it is doubtful that anyone is actually protected as the system drowns in data.

* “People say that President Nixon had phlebitis. That is simply not true. You don’t screw over 200 million people and get phlebitis. You get syphilis!”
My recollection from a Jackie Mason performance about 20 years ago.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Laughter is the best medicine for these sad political times: George Pinocchio Bush - priceless!

And bovine excreta is pure genius.

Obama made a smart decision by selecting Joe Biden. Shame he wasn't the presidential candidate but veep will do. Amazing your quote of McCain's dream team of Cheney & Rumsfeld!

Have a good week Stephen. - RZD