Friday, March 18, 2005

March 17, 2005

Memo to Caribou: There goes your neighborhood
Texans have never forgiven Alaska for joining the union and knocking Texas off as our largest state. So they are getting even by turning Alaska into a giant air-conditioned version of the Long Horn State.

Yesterday the Republican-controlled Senate voted to allow oilrigs into Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They should have changed the name at the same time, since it will be a “refuge” no longer.

Once the Republican-controlled House votes to go along the influx of tobacco-spittin’, pickem-up-truck drivin', gun-racks-in-the-window, “Jake’s, Jeb’s and Arlo’s will begin rollin’, rollin’ rollin’ north -- Hummers and Halliburton, Four-wheeler’s for Christ, Hooters and hell-raisers, wildcatters for wampum.

Roads will cut into lands where no tire has ever rolled; no steel has ever pierced the frozen tundra -- one of the final patches of earth where the sounds of mankind's engines have not drowned out the sweet music of creation.

And for what? A few billion more barrels of the stuff melting the ice caps, heating the earth and crapping up the air we breathe. What geniuses we are.

Another Genius Heard From
Federal Reserve chief, Alan Greenspan, was on The Hill yesterday assuring Senators that Bush’s plan for private accounts was a great way to reform Social Security.

Then Sen. Hillary Clinton had the bad taste to remind Weird Al that, four years ago he also assured Congress that the Bush tax cuts were a great idea -- that they would stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Hillary pointed out that both of those predictions were wrong. The only quantifiable results of the Bush tax cuts are half trillion-dollar annual budget deficits as far as taxpayer's eyes can see.

Greenspan – glancing down to see if George had maybe left a stain on his blue suit -- tried to spread the blame:

“We were all wrong about that,” Greenspan sheeplessly replied.

Hillary, a woman
with way too much experience dealing with lying men, was not about to let Al get away that easily.

"Your testimony helped blow the lid off the lock boxes," Hillary replied, "and, just for the record, we were not all wrong."

Go to your room Al, and stay there. Bob Rubin, a lonely and broke nation longs for you.

Flat Learning Curve
But never mind that Greenspan was wrong about the Bush tax cuts, or that, thanks to those cuts we are now in hock up to our wallets to China and other Asian central banks. None of that mattered to Republicans. No sooner did Greenspan finish testifying than the Republican-controlled Senate rejected efforts to reinstate budget rules mandating that any tax cuts be offset by equivalent spending reductions or revenue increases. The "pay-as-you-go" rules, in effect through the 1990s, could have jeopardized Bush's call to make his first-term tax cuts permanent, but it would have also complicated efforts to secure approval of a budget resolution.

So, if the House goes along, it means the good times will roll on for the wealthy. Already the wealth gap between the top 1% of earners and the rest of us has widened faster than at any time since the turn early days of the 20th century.

It’s the Re-Gatsbyiscation of America, an enormous redistribution of wealth upwards. And we all remember how that all ended in October 1929.

Memo to Republicans: Here’s a refresher on Econ 101 -- Rich people get rich by selling stuff to working people. If too much of a nation’s assets (wealth) gets locked up in rich people’s bank accounts, stocks and trusts, working people don’t have the money to buy stuff from the rich people’s companies. Duh!

An economy is like a farmer’s stone wall; it’s the little rocks that hold the big rocks in place. How many times do we have to learn that lesson?

Gangsta’s Are as Gangsta’s Do

John “Teflon Don” Gotti had his Sammy “The Bull" Gravano. Tom “The Ham
mer” DeLay has Jack Abramoff. Jack is DeLay’s fixer and consigliore rolled into one. Four years ago I produced a long report for a group of Clinton Dems on the DeLay/Abramoff relationship, but they refused to run it saying, “We don’t want to pick a fight with DeLay.” (That report is posted online HERE)

Dems had no balls then and, consequently, they have no power now.

John Gotti’s downfall came when he started to believe he was untouchable. He got cocky and careless. DeLay has made the same mistake. The DeLay/Abramoff relationship continued to fester until the stink got too much for even the Republican-controlled Senate to ignore. So yesterday the Senate Finance Committee opened an investigation into allegations that Abramoff used nonprofit organizations to launder money for a variety of improper activities, including overseas trips for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

“Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.), the panel's top Democrat, faxed a letter to Abramoff's attorney seeking information from the Capital Athletic Foundation, a charity he created. The committee wants financial records and receipts for travel, which would include a 2002 trip to Scotland by House Administration Committee Chairman Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and lobbyist and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed…Tax records for the groups show a flow of $2.5 million through the national center to a company controlled by Abramoff and to Abramoff’s foundation…. in 2002 the Choctaw tribe, a client of Abramoff's, donated $1 million to the center and in 2003 Greenberg Traurig gave $1.5 million in "grants" that originated from an Abramoff client.” (Washington Post)

Meanwhile the House Ethics Committee can’t investigate anything following a Saturday Night Massacre-type purge of Republican members unwilling to stonewall a committee investigation of DeLay’s fundraising activities. Dems have – correctly – thrown a parliamentary fit refusing to participate in the Republican’s Soviet style "Ethics" Committee.

By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large

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