Friday, May 06, 2005

May 5, 2005

Do As We Say, Not As We Did

Two stories caught in my craw this morning. At first glance they may seem unrelated but in fact they have one very important thing in common.

Story 1:

Two on Ethics Panel Withdraw From DeLay Inquiry
WASHINGTON, May 4 - Two Republican members of the House ethics committee who contributed to the legal defense fund of Representative Tom DeLay, the majority leader, recused themselves Wednesday from any potential investigation of him as the panel took the first steps that could lead to such an inquiry. (Full Story)

This first story details how House Republicans, having been caught red-handed trying to stack the House Ethics Committed with two pro-DeLay shills, are now desperately trying to avoid having an outside counsel forced appointed to investigate their mega-sleazy Majority Leader.

The two Republicans who recused themselves each had already coughed up $5,000 to the Tom DeLay legal defense fund. The fund will pay DeLay's legal expenses in the event he is indicted for in Texas or has to fight charges of misconduct in Washington.

Chew on that little item for just a moment. House Speaker, Dennis Hastert removed two moderate Republicans form the Ethics Committee and replaced them with two guys he knew had each contributed five grand to pay DeLay’s lawyers. Talk about GOP chutzpah! Talk about arrogance. That’s the kind of thing John Gotti’s people used to do when their boss had to face justice… make sure he would be judged only by the best jury money could buy.
House Republicans thought the fix was in for DeLay, but Democrats blew the whistle on them and threatened to hold their breaths until Hastert put the ethics process back the way it was.

Yesterday Hastert tried to look like he was relenting. But Dems are having none of it. They want a nonpartisan outside counsel appointed, and that’s what was really behind Hastert’s strategic retreat.

You see Republicans, many of them the same people who gleefully used the Independent Prosecutor statute and hatchet-man Ken Starr to harass and cripple the Clinton presidency, are now terrified their own Tom DeLay might just get the same level of scrutiny.

Hastert’s ham-handed and obvious attempt to neuter the House Ethics Committee for DeLay has created the first real opening for House Democrats in five years. For the first time they now have a shot at cracking open the lid on the corrupt GOP campaign machine. Hastert’s actions have so tarnished and compromised the House Ethics Committee that only an independent counsel can conduct a credible investigation into the charges against DeLay.

Republicans will argue that the allegations against DeLay are not serious enough to require an independent counsel. I see. But “Filegate,” an old failed Arkansas real estate deal and lying about getting a BJ from an ugly fat girl was serious enough for an Independent Prosecutor and years of non-stop investigations costing taxpayers nearly $70 million.

Now, Story 2:

U.S. Warns Unions on Protests About Social Security
WASHINGTON, May 4 - The Bush administration has warned the nation's biggest labor federation that union-run pension funds may be breaking the law in opposing President Bush's Social Security proposals. (Full Story)

The administration’s Dept. of Labor shot off a letter Tuesday to the A.F.L.-C.I.O. warning that the Bush appointees at DOL were "very concerned" that the unions might be spending workers' money to "advocate a particular result in the current Social Security debate."

And, they warned the unions could be violating their fiduciary responsibilities by suggesting that they might take their investment business away from Wall Street firms that support Mr. Bush's plans.

Okay, let’s see if I get this straight. Labor unions are not supposed to use their member’s money to advocate political issues but tax-exempt religious groups can.
Do I have that straight? Onward Christian soldiers, is the American way, but workers unite, is just plain wrong.. I see.

Maybe instead of pretending to be shocked that labor unions would get involved with the Social Security debate, Republicans should ask why. Could it be that once upon not-so-long-time-ago employers provided generous pensions, including medical plans for their loyal retired workers. But no longer. Those have been "privatized," - which means employees have to fund their 401Ks out of their own paychecks. Those employer pension funds that still exist have either been looted dry by the employers or are under-funded and functionally insolvent. Even the federal pension insurance fund is broke.
Now that Social Security is all workers have to look forward to their unions are fighting to at least keep that safety net from being "privatized" into oblivion as well.

So, that’s why labor unions have jumped into the Social Security fight. And, may I say, it’s the least unions can do after sitting on their hands for the past two decades as employer after employer reneged on promises to their employees, mismanaged or robbed their retirement funds.

I said these two stories had something in common. In case you missed what it was, allow me.

- House Republicans are going to fight any attempt to appoint an independent counsel to investigate House Minority Leader Tom DeLay, even though they argued just the opposite when the perp was Bill Clinton.

- Pro-Christian, anti-labor Republicans in administration threaten labor unions for getting involved in the Social Security debate because they oppose the Bush plan, while actively encouraging tax-exempt Christian fundamentalists groups to support Bush’s efforts to stack the courts with conservative judges.

The thing the two stories have in common is, in a word, hypocrisy. Gross, shameless, brutal, self-serving, liar-liar-pants-on-fire, abuse-of-power, violating-of-public-trust, jury tampering, aiding-and-abetting, see-no-evil, your-mother-wears-combat-boots, stomach-turning hypocrisy.

Jesus H. Christ!, do these people have NO shame? (That was obviously a rhetorical question.)

Yuk of the Day

By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large

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