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Page   1 - Duke Energy Employee Advocate

Washington - Page 38

"I guess if Ari had to rebel, being a Republican is better than being on drugs, but not by much."
- Alan Fleischer, father of White House press secretary Ari Fleischer

Greenspan Babbles Again

Congressman Bernie Sanders - July 27, 2003

Statement of Congressman Sanders on 7/15/2003 regarding: Testimony of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan

Mr. Greenspan, as you know, I have been extremely concerned over the years that your interests seem to focus on the needs of the wealthy and large corporations rather than the middle class and working families of this country. Over the years, you have expressed your view that the minimum wage should be abolished, while at the same time you have supported the appropriateness of the richest people in this country receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks.

Over the years you have also been a staunch defender of unfettered free trade. And you have told the American people over and over again how unfettered free trade and trade agreements like NAFTA, Most Favored Nation Trade Status with China and other similar agreements would improve the American economy. Given that your position on trade has turned out to be totally wrong, and that our trade policy has turned out to be a disaster for American workers I wonder if you have finally reached the conclusion that it is time to re-think the fundamentals of American trade policy.

Mr. Greenspan over the last two years we have lost more than 2 million manufacturing jobs, ten percent of our entire manufacturing sector. With 14.7 million total manufacturing jobs, the U.S. now has the lowest number of factory jobs since October 1958. Meanwhile, American corporations, as they throw American workers out on the street are investing billions of dollars in China, Mexico, India and other poor countries where they are able to hire workers for pennies an hour.

Not only are we hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs, but there is now a huge upturn in the loss of white collar middle class. According to Forrester Research, "Over the next 15 years, 3.3 million U.S. service industry jobs and $136 billion in wages will move offshore to countries like India, Russia, China and the Philippines. The IT industry will lead the initial overseas exodus."

Mr. Greenspan, in addition to all of this, our country today has a record-breaking trade deficit of over $435 billion, including a $100 billion trade deficit with China.

A. Trade Deficit

Chairman Greenspan, at a speech you gave at Boston College on March 6 2000, according to the Associated Press, you said that "red-hot consumer demand, which has been met increasingly by imported goods, had driven the nation's trade deficit to unsustainable levels."

At the time of your remarks, the U.S. trade deficit was over $260 billion. Today, the U.S. trade deficit has skyrocketed to over $435.67 billion, including a $100 billion trade deficit with China alone.

Despite this increase in our trade deficit, when you have told us that "liberalizing global trade" has been an "ongoing success." Chairman Greenspan, over the last two years we have lost more than 2 million decent paying manufacturing jobs as American companies move to China or Mexico or are simply unable to compete with the cheap imports coming into this country. Not so many years ago the largest employer in this country was General Motors - where working people earned a living wage with decent benefits. Now, because of policies that you and others advocate, our largest employer is Walmart - where many workers are forced to depend upon food stamps to survive. I would like you to tell us how all of this is an "ongoing success."

B. Economy

Chairman Greenspan, over the past 2 years, the stock market has lost $3.7 trillion; more than 3 million private sector jobs have been lost; over 2 million factory jobs have disappeared representing 10 percent of the manufacturing workforce; long-term unemployment has more than tripled; new claims for unemployment insurance are up 27%; the unemployment rate has climbed to 6.4 percent, the worst since 1994; a $5.6 trillion projected 10 year surplus has turned into a $4 trillion deficit - a decline of $10 trillion in just the past 2 years alone; we have gone from a $236 billion budget surplus to a budget deficit of more than $400 billion; the national debt has soared to over $6.6 trillion; 1.4 million Americans have lost their health insurance; bankruptcy cases have increased by a record-breaking 23%; we now have the worst record on job creation in 58 years; the worst record on economic growth in 50 years; and business investment is at its lowest level in more than 50 years. Why do you deserve another term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve?

The following is the transcript of Rep. Sanders' question-and-answer period with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan during The Financial Services hearing.

SANDERS: Thank you, Madam Chair.

And, Mr. Greenspan, nice to see you again.

Mr. Greenspan, I have long been concerned that you are way out of touch with the needs of the middle class and working families of our country, that you see your major function in your position as the need to represent the wealthy and large corporations.

And I must tell you that your testimony today only confirms all of my suspicions, and I urge you -- and I mean this seriously, because you're an honest person, I think you just don't know what's going on in the real world -- and I would urge you come with me to Vermont, meet real people. The country club and the cocktail parties are not real America. The millionaires and billionaires are the exception to the rule.

You talk about an improving economy while we have lost 3 million private sector jobs in the last two years, long-term unemployment is more than tripled, unemployment is higher than it's been since 1994.

We have a $4 trillion national debt, 1.4 million Americans have lost their health insurance, millions of seniors can't afford prescription drugs, middle-class families can't send their kids to college because they don't have the money to do that, bankruptcy cases have increased by a record-breaking 23 percent, business investment is at its lowest level in more than 50 years, CEOs make more than 500 times of what their workers make, the middle class is shrinking, we have the greatest gap between the rich and the poor of any industrialized nation, and this is an economy that is improving.

I'd hate to see what would happen if our economy was sinking.

Now, today you may not have known this -- I suspect that you don't -- but you have insulted tens of millions of American workers.

You have defended over the years, among other things, the abolition of the minimum wage -- one of your policies -- and giving huge tax breaks to billionaires.

But today you have reached a new low, I think, by suggesting that manufacturing in America doesn't matter. It doesn't matter where the product is produced. We've lost 2 million manufacturing jobs in the last two years alone; 10 percent of our work force. Wal-Mart has replaced General Motors as the major employer in America, paying people starvation wages rather than living wages, and all of that does not matter to you -- doesn't matter.

If it's produced in China where workers are making 30 cents an hour, or produced in Vermont where workers can make 20 bucks an hour, it doesn't matter. You have told the American people that you support a trade policy which is selling them out, only working for the CEOs who can take our plants to China, Mexico and India.

You insulted Mr. Castle. Mr. Castle, a few moments ago -- a good Republican -- told you that we're seeing not only the decline of manufacturing jobs, but white-collar information technology jobs.

Forrester Research says that over the next 15 years, 3.3 million U.S. service industry jobs and $136 billion in wages will move offshore to India, Russia, China and the Philippines.

Does any of this matter to you? Do you give one whit of concern for the middle class and working families of this country? That's my question.

GREENSPAN: Congressman, we have the highest standard of living in the world.

SANDERS: No, we do not. You go to Scandinavia, and you will find that people have a much higher standard of living, in terms of education, health care and decent paying jobs. Wrong, Mister.

GREENSPAN: May I answer your question?

SANDERS: You sure may.

GREENSPAN: Thank you.

For a major industrial country, we have created the most advanced technologies, the highest standard of living for a country of our size. Our economic growth is crucial to us. The incomes, the purchasing power of our employees, our workers, our people are, by far, more important than what it is we produce. I submit to you -- may I?

SANDERS: (inaudible)

GREENSPAN: The major focus of monetary policy is to create an environment in this country which enables capital investment and innovation to advance. We are at the cutting edge of technologies in the world. We are doing an extraordinary job over the years.

And people flock to the United States. Our immigration rates are very high. And why? Because they think this is a wonderful country to come to.

SANDERS: That is an incredible answer.

Greenspan Babbles

A Special Prosecutor's Investigation

Employee Advocate – - July 26, 2003

On July 18, published a thorough examination by John W. Dean, as to why a special prosecutor should be appointed concerning WMD remarks made by G. W. Bush. Mr. Dean went on to list more shaky statements made in the State of the Union address of January 28.

Mr. Dean said “So egregious and serious are Bush's misrepresentations that they appear to be a deliberate effort to mislead Congress and the public. So arrogant and secretive is the Bush White House that only a special prosecutor can effectively answer and address these troubling matters. Since the Independent Counsel statute has expired, the burden is on President Bush to appoint a special prosecutor - and if he fails to do so, he should be held accountable by Congress and the public.”

A precedent was offered: President Polk lied to Congress to start the war with Mexico. Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln called for a Congressional investigation of warmongering. The House found that the war was "unnecessary and unconstitutionally commenced by the President."

Giving false information to Congress was not a crime in President Polk’s time. Today the false statements statute makes it a felony. The law does not require that the statements be sworn to or written. The law does not even require a specific intent to deceive Congress. Is it any wonder that Bush is stonewalling?

The outside links beow will open in a new window:

Why A Special Prosecutor's Investigation Is Needed To Sort Out the Niger Uranium And Related WMDs Mess

Is Lying About The Reason For War An Impeachable Offense?

Secret Energy Task Force and Iraq

Judicial Watch - Press Release - July 25, 2003

Commerce & State Department Reports to Task Force Detail Oilfield & Gas Projects, Contracts & Exploration Saudi Arabian & UAE Oil Facilities Profiled As Well

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, which are dated March 2001, are available on the Internet at:

The Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates (UAE) documents likewise feature a map of each country’s oilfields, pipelines, refineries and tanker terminals. There are supporting charts with details of the major oil and gas development projects in each country that provide information on the projects, costs, capacity, oil company and status or completion date.

Judicial Watch has been seeking these documents under FOIA since April 19, 2001. Judicial Watch was forced to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch Inc. v. Department of Energy, et al., Civil Action No. 01-0981) when the government failed to comply with the provisions of the FOIA law. U.S. District Court Judge Paul J. Friedman ordered the government to produce the documents on March 5, 2002.

The documents were produced in response to Judicial Watch’s on-going efforts to ensure transparency and accountability in government on behalf of the American people. Judicial Watch aggressively pursues those goals by making FOIA requests and seeking access to public information concerning government operations. When the government fails to abide by these “sunshine laws” Judicial Watch files lawsuits in order to obtain the requested information and to hold responsible government officials accountable.

“These documents show the importance of the Energy Task Force and why its operations should be open to the public,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

The Office of Bogus War Data

Employee Advocate – - July 20, 2003

Julian Borger reported in The Guardian that a shadow network existed in Washington to rig intelligence reports to justify toppling Saddam Hussein by force. The White House is accused of politicizing and contaminating its own intelligence sources. Former Bush officials provided information on how the Iraq war was promoted.

The Office of Special Plans (OSP) was set up to second-guess CIA information by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Vice-President Dick Cheney was a key player in this group. He made trips to the CIA to demand more “forward-leaning” interpretations of any threat posed by Iraq. Much of the network was off the official payroll to preclude bothersome congressional oversight.

Newt Gingrich was also mentioned as a player. He was a “consultant” and member of its defense advisory board. Mr. Gingrich was accused of browbeating CIA analysts to toughen up their assessments of the Iraqi menace.

Mr. Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, were accused of trying to include Iraq in the war against terror. When no evidence against Iraq could be found, the mission was turned over to the OSP.

An intelligence source said “Most of the people they had in that office were off the books, on personal services contracts. At one time, there were over 100 of them.”

John Pike, defense analyst, said the contracts “are basically a way they could pack the room with their little friends.”

Gregory Thielmann was a senior official in the state department's intelligence bureau until he retired in September. He said “They surveyed data and picked out what they liked. The whole thing was bizarre. The secretary of defense had this huge defense intelligence agency, and he went around it…They were a pretty shadowy presence. Normally when you compile an intelligence document, all the agencies get together to discuss it. The OSP was never present at any of the meetings I attended.”

A former senior Pentagon officer said “The iceberg analogy is a good one. No one from the military staff heard, saw or discussed anything with them.”

Congressman David Obey said “That office was charged with collecting, vetting and disseminating intelligence completely outside of the normal intelligence apparatus. In fact, it appears that information collected by this office was in some instances not even shared with established intelligence agencies and in numerous instances was passed on to the national security council and the president without having been vetted with anyone other than political appointees.”

It was charged that an ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon's office in Israel bypassed Mossad and sent alarmist reports straight to the Bush administration. Thus, the Mossad had no chance to label the reports as bogus.

A source familiar with Pentagon visits said “None of the Israelis who came were cleared into the Pentagon through normal channels.” It was said that they were waved in on Mr. Feith's authority without having to fill in the usual forms.

Mr. Feith and Richard Perle were once advisers to an Israeli Linkud party leader. The pair wrote that Saddam would have to be destroyed, and Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran would have to be overthrown for Israel to be truly safe.

For more on Richard Perle, click the link below:

Perle Still in Peril

Group Asks Cheney to Resign

Employee Advocate – - July 20, 2003

The Independent reported that Dick Cheney has been asked to resign by a group of senior former intelligence officials. He is accused of using his office to promote false evidence to build the case for war. He is also accused of knowingly misleading Congress, in an attempt to gain authorization to invade Iraq.

House Pension Brawl has been moved to another page.

Blame Shifts Back to White House

Employee Advocate – - July 18, 2003

Knight Ridder provided an update on the story about untrue statements being slipped into the State of the Union speech. National Security Council aide Robert Joseph was the White House official that Senator Richard Durbin alluded to earlier. Two senior CIA officials told Knight Ridder that Robert Joseph is the person who insisted that the bogus data be included in the speech. Joseph is a top aid to Bush national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. The witnesses spoke on the condition of anonymity at the classified hearing.

On Thursday, Bush was asked if he took responsibility for the uranium statement. In true political fashion, he ducked the question.

On July 7, the White House acknowledged that Bush should have never made the statement during the State of the Union address. The incident came under investigation and Bush and his staff have been backpedaling every since.

Knight Ridder reported in June that it was Joseph, who led an effort to include the uranium allegation in the address. He was working in conjunction with Vice President Dick Cheney's office.

Senator Durbin said “It raised the question in my mind about why we're not focusing on those individuals in the White House who were so hell-bent on including this questionable conclusion on the president's most important speech of the year.”

Senator Points to White House

Employee Advocate - - July 18, 2003

A senator charges that the White House is responsible for the bogus Iraqi statement in a presidential speech, according to Reuters. Senator Dick Durbin said that CIA Director George Tenet told Congress that a White House official insisted on including a disputed allegation about Saddam Hussein in the State of the Union speech.

The senator said that names were named. On “Good Morning America,” Senator Durbin said “He certainly told us who the person was who was insistent on putting this language in which the CIA knew to be incredible, this language about the uranium shipment from Africa. And there was this negotiation between the White House and the CIA about just how far you could go and be close to the truth.”

G. W. Bush tried to put all blame on the CIA, a move that appears to have blown up in his face. The White House is in full denial mode.

Bush Cannot Hide Behind the CIA

Employee Advocate - - July 17, 2003

The Associated Press provided an excellent report on the bogus weapons of mass destruction statement made by G. W. Bush. U. S. Officials said that when the Bush administration issued the untruthful statement, the CIA had not even seen the documents! The CIA did not see the documents until February 2003.

The AP report stated: “Even as the CIA found little to verify the reports, Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to put them into public statements. Sometimes CIA succeeded in getting the information removed.

For instance, the agency tried to have the Niger reference removed from a State Department fact sheet in December 2002, but the document was published before the change could be made, one U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press, speaking only on condition of anonymity.”

Various excuses offered by Bush were listed:

  • The CIA should have had it removed.
  • It was based on more intelligence information than the Niger letter.
  • It was technically true because it was attributed to British intelligence.
  • It wasn't the reason the United States invaded Iraq.

People are beginning to notice that when Bush is pressed, his story tends to change to fit the situation.

Senate and FBI Probe the Big Lie

Employee Advocate – - July 17, 2003

Lawmakers have ignored the elephant in the room for as long as they can. On Wednesday, senators probed CIA Director George Tenet about the G. W. Bush WMD lies, according to the Associated Press.

The Senate is probing if the fabrication was indicative of:

  1. an isolated error,

  2. deeper intelligence problems,

  3. or political manipulation.

If they throw out the first two, they may be getting warm!

A senior law enforcement official said that an investigation has also been opened by the FBI as to who could benefit from feeding the U. S. false information. If the FBI courageously follows that angle, they may find out more that they will be willing to admit to the public.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., requested the investigation last spring. The government, like corporations, will do the right thing, but only when its back is against the wall. The modus operandi seems to be to let the evidence get ice cold – then begin the investigation.

Senator Carl Levin, Intelligence Committee member, said “There's a lot of other troubling evidence. There may have been a pattern of exaggeration or stretching. So this is just one of a number of examples, it is not an isolated example.”

Aluminum tubes suddenly became weapons of mass destruction. Truck trailers morphed into biological weapons labs. A crude, oversized radio-controlled model airplane was billed as a drone of mass destruction. Bush even called it a “smoking gun.”

Senator Ron Wyden indicated that his constituents “are concerned about whether political judgments are made first and then there is an effort to find a set of facts that will support the political call that's been made at the outset.”

Senator John Edwards said “The responsibility is not the CIA's, it's not anyone else's. It is the president's responsibility. And those 16 words were spoken by the president and he has to take responsibility for them.”

Just when it seemed like the senators were oblivious to everything, some are proving that they can see the obvious. Some will never see what they do not want to see. It was certainly convenient for a fall guy to instantly appear when Bush was caught with foot in mouth. But only the sappiest of dupes would fall for that one. The big lie incident falls clearly into the same pattern that Bush has used since he was selected for office by the Supreme Court.

It was obvious from the committee's Republican chairman, Senator Pat Roberts, comments that he would like nothing better that to see the investigation derailed. He did add that the committee “will take this investigation wherever it leads.”

Senate and FBI Probe WMD Lies

Employee Advocate – - July 17, 2003

Lawmakers have ignored the elephant in the room for as long as they can. On Wednesday, senators probed CIA Director George Tenet about the G. W. Bush WMD lies, according to the Associated Press.

The Senate is probing if the fabrication was indicative of:

  1. an isolated error,

  2. deeper intelligence problems,

  3. or political manipulation.

If they throw out the first two, they may be getting warm!

A senior law enforcement official said that an investigation has also been opened by the FBI as to who could benefit from feeding the U. S. false information. If the FBI courageously follows that angle, they may find out more that they will be willing to admit to the public.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., requested the investigation last spring. The government, like corporations, will do the right thing, but only when its back is against the wall. The modus operandi seems to be to let the evidence get ice cold – then begin the investigation.

Senator Carl Levin, Intelligence Committee member, said “There's a lot of other troubling evidence. There may have been a pattern of exaggeration or stretching. So this is just one of a number of examples, it is not an isolated example.”

Aluminum tubes suddenly became weapons of mass destruction. Truck trailers morphed into biological weapons labs. A crude, oversized radio-controlled model airplane was billed as a drone of mass destruction. Bush even called it a “smoking gun.”

Senator Ron Wyden indicated that his constituents “are concerned about whether political judgments are made first and then there is an effort to find a set of facts that will support the political call that's been made at the outset.”

Senator John Edwards said “The responsibility is not the CIA's, it's not anyone else's. It is the president's responsibility. And those 16 words were spoken by the president and he has to take responsibility for them.”

Just when it seemed like the senators were oblivious to everything, some are proving that they can see the obvious. Some will never see what they do not want to see.

It was obvious from the committee's Republican chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts comments that he would like nothing better that to see the investigation derailed. He did add that the committee “will take this investigation wherever it leads.”

The California Recall

Arianna Online – by Arianna Huffington - July 12, 2003

The California Recall: Looking For The Silver Lining

(7/9/03) - Californians are used to earthquakes. Even stomach-flipping jolts of the ground beneath us are met with a shrug and a ho-hum yawn. Wait a few seconds, and they're over. Life goes back to normal.

But this one's different. It started slow, but it just won't go away. In fact, it has so rattled the political landscape in the Golden State that it has the state's political establishment running for the doorjambs and stocking up on bottled water and canned goods. It's swiftly dawning on them: this could be THE Big One.

I'm talking, of course, about the snowballing effort to oust Gov. Gray Davis in a special recall election. What just a few short weeks ago seemed like little more than a summer diversion for bored, angry and powerless California Republicans -- the political equivalent of a trashy novel enjoyed while baking on the beach -- is now looking like an inevitability.

All across the state, Democratic leaders are emitting a collective "Oh my god!" as they realize that Davis will now be forced to face the wrath of vengeful voters incensed over the state's $38 billion budget deficit -- which the GOP is blaming on Davis' fiscal irresponsibility while conveniently ignoring the orgy of fiscal irresponsibility being thrown by the White House and its congressional cohorts.

The Democratic establishment's response has been to circle the wagons and attack the recall effort as a right wing ploy. Which, of course, it is. There is no doubt that the campaign to remove Davis doesn't pass the sniff test. For starters, it feels undemocratic. After all, it was just 8 months ago that Davis was reelected by 363,548 votes (a five percent margin), beating his hapless GOP opponent, Bill Simon, fair and square. This leaves the backers of the recall looking like a bunch of sore losers, trying to do through the backdoor what they couldn't accomplish on Election Day. Which is particularly offensive given Florida and the growing fear that the standard GOP response to elections will become "either we win them or we undo them."

What's more, the pro-recall movement is redolent with unsavory ingredients. For starters, you might not want to stand too close to top recall patron and gubernatorial wanna-be Rep. Darrell Issa, who has spent more than $1 million of his own money on the endeavor. Issa is a real piece of work: a die-hard right winger who, in his college days, was twice arrested in cases involving weapons charges and stolen cars, and who later went on to amass a personal fortune of close to $100 million by selling -- are you ready? -- car alarms. Talk about poetic injustice. If nothing else, his profitable profession has clearly made him an expert in disturbing the peace. Too bad we can't do a career recall on Issa and his alarming bankroll.

Then there's the fact that many of the people gathering signatures on the anti-Davis recall petition aren't concerned Californians but a bunch of hardened hacks shipped in from out of state. These mercenaries couldn't care less about the problems facing the people of California -- just the buck they're paid for every name they get on the dotted line. "I'll work on anything," admits professional signature hound John Mitchell -- not exactly the rallying cry for a populist uprising.

And let's not forget the dog and pony potential of the Terminator putting his name on the recall ballot -- a prospect that has the national media licking their chops, and giving a significant amount of ink and air time to the recall story (to say nothing of millions in free publicity to "T3"). How many headlines playing off the idea of a "Total Recall" do you think we'll have to endure over the next few weeks? The smart money says the figure will be equal to the number of dollars "T3" raked in over its opening weekend.

But even given all this, it's time for California Democrats to step back, take a deep breath and admit to themselves that there is more going on here than an underhanded power grab by disgruntled Republicans with too much time and money on their hands.

A new poll released last week by the Los Angeles Times found that 51 percent of California voters now support the removal of Davis -- up from 39 percent in March. Perhaps even more meaningful is the fact that 33 percent of Democratic voters back the proposed recall.

Those kinds of numbers speak of a voter discontent that goes way beyond the ambitions of Issa and the GOP.

It shows that voters are sick and tired of having their electoral choices severely limited by a ruling class that has done everything in its power to maintain the status quo -- including the latest round of under-the-radar redistricting deals that make it all but impossible to unseat incumbents. And this is a bipartisan power play: In California, for instance, a secret redistricting deal agreed upon by both parties in 2001 created safe (i.e., voter-proof) seats for almost every member of the state Legislature.

And no one is more masterful at using the advantages of incumbency to shrink the choices voters are given than Gray Davis. Remember how he virtually handpicked his own opponent in the last election by digging into his massive campaign war chest to alter the outcome of the state's Republican primary? As the result of the $10 million he spent on ads attacking GOP-favorite Dick Riordan, Davis didn't have to face the rival he most feared. Instead, he got to take on the far less electable Bill Simon.

So, eight months ago, Davis gamed the system -- and now the system is about to strike back.

California's recall provision was added to the state constitution in 1911, one of a host of progressive era reforms designed to put more power in the hands of voters, and less in the hands of powerful corporations, such as the Southern Pacific Railroad, and the political bosses that did their bidding.

Big money is once again calling the tune in California -- Davis never met a check-wielding lobbyist he didn't cozy up to -- and it appears that disgruntled voters will use the recall to break through the special interest din and let their voices be heard. The same impulse can be seen on the national level in the burgeoning influence of, and the Internet-based fundraising success of Howard Dean. As Joan Blades, cofounder of, told me: "Individuals have been locked out of the candidate selection process for too long. That's why when a new way to participate emerges, there is such a powerful response."

So, however corrupt the parentage of the recall, it offers Californians a golden opportunity to send a historic message: that it's time to reorder our policy priorities and get back to serving the people. It can also be used as a cudgel with which to attack the Bush administration -- hammering home how its tax cuts uber alles economic policies, to say nothing of its way-too-cozy relationship with crooked energy companies like Enron, have led California to the brink of financial disaster.

If handled correctly, the California shake-up could turn into THE Big One -- an 8.0 on the political Richter scale with aftershocks felt as far away as the Oval Office.

Don't Bully Indian Claims

Seattle Times – Editorial - July 12, 2003

(7/10/03) - Shame on Bush administration officials and members of Congress trying to short-circuit a lawsuit over Indian trust accounts and bully a settlement.

For seven years, the Interior Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have been bloodied and bruised in court for decades of mishandling money from leases on Indian lands.

As the case moves toward a conclusion, language was put into an Interior appropriations bill to force a settlement and abandon the lawsuit.

This represents another stunning level of government arrogance in a proceeding already rife with lying, fraud, destruction of evidence and duplicity by senior public officials.

No one disputes the obligation and debt owed the Native Americans. No one credibly disputes the abject failure to properly account for and distribute those funds.

The lawsuit has been about forcing the government to act, to make any progress toward an equitable resolution, and to be forward-looking about reform of future accounting practices. Those elements would have to be part of a fair settlement.

The legislation would ignore all that and give the secretary of the interior a kind of "Take it or leave it, Buster" authority to settle hundreds of thousands of accounts.

Seven years of litigation is a long time in court, but the federal government has been taking advantage of individual tribal members since the accounts were created in 1887.

Sorting out the mess, assigning benefits, getting the government to write checks and ensure reforms is no simple process.

Brokering a satisfactory outcome was always an option. The Indian plaintiffs tried for years, but the government has not been a willing negotiator. Pushing for a legislatively mandated upper hand only reinforces the image of bad faith the government has brought to all phases of this shameful episode.

Complexity and expense are not excuses for dealing unfairly with tribal members and heirs owed money. Nor can the government be allowed to rob other Indian programs to pay its debts.

No quick and cheap settlement solution exists. The language before the House Appropriations Committee is an embarrassment after all that has been revealed in court.

Settle, but do it in any way that does not compound the grievance.

They Lied

L. A. Times – by Robert Scheer - July 11, 2003

A Diplomat's Undiplomatic Truth: They Lied

(7/8/03) - They may have finally found the smoking gun that nails the culprit responsible for the Iraq war. Unfortunately, the incriminating evidence wasn't left in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces but rather in Vice President Dick Cheney's office.

Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson publicly revealed over the weekend that he was the mysterious envoy whom the CIA, under pressure from Cheney, sent to Niger to investigate a document — now known to be a crude forgery — that allegedly showed Iraq was trying to acquire enriched uranium that might be used to build a nuclear bomb. Wilson found no basis for the story, and nobody else has either.

What is startling in Wilson's account, however, is that the CIA, the State Department, the National Security Council and the vice president's office were all informed that the Niger-Iraq connection was phony. No one in the chain of command disputed that this "evidence" of Iraq's revised nuclear weapons program was a hoax.

Yet, nearly a year after Wilson reported back the facts to Cheney and the U.S. security apparatus, Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union speech, invoked the fraudulent Iraq-Africa uranium connection as a major justification for rushing the nation to war: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa." What the president did not say was that the British were relying on their intelligence white paper, which was based on the same false information that Wilson and the U.S. ambassador to Niger had already debunked. "That information was erroneous, and they knew about it well ahead of both the publication of the British white paper and the president's State of the Union address," Wilson said Sunday on "Meet the Press."

Although a British Parliament report released Monday exonerated the Blair government of deliberate distortion to justify invading Iraq, it urged the foreign secretary to come clean as to when British officials were first told that the Iraq-Niger allegation was based on forged documents. The report noted: "It is very odd indeed" that the British government has still not come up with any other evidence to support its contention about an Iraq-Niger connection.

Nor has the U.S. administration told its public why it ignored the disclaimers from its own intelligence sources. In order to believe that our president was not lying to us, we must believe that this information did not find its way through Cheney's office to the Oval Office.

In media interviews, Wilson said it was the vice president's questioning that pushed the CIA to try to find a credible Iraqi nuclear threat after that agency had determined there wasn't one. "I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat," Wilson wrote in an Op-Ed article in Sunday's New York Times. "A legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses."

In a Washington Post interview, Wilson added, "It really comes down to the administration misrepresenting the facts on an issue that was a fundamental justification for going to war. It begs the question, what else are they lying about?" Those are the carefully chosen words of a 23-year career diplomat who, as the top U.S. official in Baghdad in 1990, was praised by then-President George H.W. Bush for his role as the last American to confront Hussein face to face after the dictator invaded Kuwait. In a cable to Baghdad, the president told Wilson: "What you are doing day in and day out under the most trying conditions is truly inspiring. Keep fighting the good fight."

As Wilson observed wryly, "I guess he didn't realize that one of these days I would carry that fight against his son's administration." And that fight remains the good fight. This is not some minor dispute over a footnote to history but rather raises the possibility of one of the most egregious misrepresentations by a U.S. administration. What could be more cynical and impeachable than fabricating a threat of rogue nations or terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons and using that to sell a war?

"There is no greater threat that we face as a nation," Wilson told NBC, "than the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of nonstate actors or international terrorists. And if we've prosecuted a war for reasons other than that, using weapons of mass destruction as cover for that, then I think we've done a great disservice to the weapons-of-mass-destruction threat."

The world is outraged at this pattern of lies used to justify the Iraq invasion, but the U.S. public still seems numb to the dangers of government by deceit.

Indeed, Nixon speechwriter William Safire this week in his column channeled the voice of his former boss to reassure Republicans that the public easily could be conned through the next election.

Perhaps, and far be it for me to lecture either Safire or a reincarnated Nixon as to the ease of deceiving the electorate, but as we learned from the Nixon disgrace, lies have a way of unraveling, and the truth will out, even if it's after the next election.

A Pig Named Perfume

Employee Advocate – - July 10, 2003

The environmental proposal that Bush is touting is called “Clear Skies” initiative. Doesn’t that name sound fresh, green, and good? It conjures up images of clean air, pure water, and a healthy environment. The name was deliberately picked to conjure up such illusions. But calling a pig “perfume” changes nothing.

Part of the Bush strategy is to do something half right to thwart any attempts by others to do it right. The Associate Press reported that almost a third of the House sent Bush a letter asking him not to weaken controls on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Bush wants to appear concerned about pollution, while only proposing weak regulations for utilities, energy companies, or whatever they may want to call themselves post Enron.

Congress is no longer eating out of Bush’s hand, as it once was. Tuesday, Bush officials were grilled at a hearing about the proposal.

Congressman Henry Waxman summed up the problem of dealing with Bush: “It's hard to trust an administration when they don't give us the information.”

Jeffrey Holmstead, head of the Environmental Protection Agency's air office, said “We recognize our analysis suggests something other than what we set out when we began.”

This is becoming a Bush pattern. Everything always seems to be different that the way Bush portrays it.

Congressman Joe Barton, air quality subcommittee chairman, said “There should be no mistake that today's hearing is merely a first step to educate members.”

Bush to Finish Destroying Pensions

Employee Advocate - - July 9, 2003

Your pension may now be worth about half, if you were forced into a cash balance plan conversion. Not only that, but more bad pension news is on the way. That bad news is George W. Bush. His aim is to help CEO’s reduce the pensions of those fortunate enough not to be stuck in a cash balance plan. The shameful legislation may be introduce this week, according to the New York Times.

The plan is to reduce corporate pension liabilities by billions of dollars. This liability is money owed to workers. If the corporate liability is reduced, guess what happens to your pension! Hint: It will NOT increase.

The NYT stated: “For some employees, the administration proposal would reduce lump-sum pension payouts.”

So far, everything that “Little King George” has touched has been a disaster. Now he wants to “fix” pensions. Bush’s meddling is expected to be added to the, already disastrous, Portman-Cardin pension bill.

The CEO’s are crying wolf again. As if they had not taken enough promised retirement money from employees over the years, they are clamoring for more and more. Executives often pay themselves millions of dollars to run a company in the ground. Then they start screaming for layoffs and reduced pensions!

Snakes in the Pension Grass

House Votes to Save Own Benefits

Employee Advocate – - July 9, 2003

On Tuesday, the House voted to guarantee their own, and other federal workers,’ drug benefits, according to the Associated Press. They will have their benefits, no matter how your Medicare benefits are reduced by Congress.

Remember, these are the same clowns that once froze wages for workers, while giving themselves pay increases.

Crocodile Tears Shed for Pillowtex

Employee Advocate – - June 26, 2003

Some years ago, politicians were jumping for joy to vote for NAFTA. There were ample warnings that American job would be lost if NAFTA passed, but the politicians were on their own agenda. Most politicians are a lot like CEO’s. They always think that they know best and just want you to “trust them.”

Pillowtex is now on the verge of collapse, which could lead to the largest layoffs in the history of North Carolina. Politicians are now scampering to appear concerned, according to The Charlotte Observer. Some of the same politicians who stabbed American employees in their backs want to be seen as helping. For them any calamity is just a big photo op.

Congressman Robin Hayes, R-Concord, is also making political hay out of the situation. In December of 2001, Robin Hayes and Cass Ballenger vowed to vote no on the bill to extend trade promotion authority to G. W. Bush. Under White House pressure, they both crumbled like they were made out of Styrofoam!

Many politicians, as many CEO’s, depend on the short attention span of a gullible public.

UNC Charlotte political scientist Ted Arrington said “If they are seen as not to care, that'd be disastrous. Once any of these politicians get involved, the others do too, and it's their job.”

That’s right. It’s a politician’s job to get his name in the paper as often as possible. It’s his job to get re-elected at any cost. It’s his job to get his name tied to any popular issue, although he may secretly try to undermine it.

Cannon Mills was once the name of the 116-year-old company. It was the center of Kannapolis, once a mill town in every sense. One could rent a house from Cannon Mills at reasonable rates - IF they happened to be employed by the mill.

The mill crushed attempts at unionization for years. David Murdock’s company bought Cannon Mills in 1982, according to a February 6, 2000 report in the Salisbury Post. Murdock appealed to the workers’ strong anti-union sentiment. He pledged to cooperate with employees.

Murdock threatened the workers with selling the mill if they voted in a union. They voted not to unionize by an overwhelming majority. A little over three years later, Murdock sold the mill anyway. When dealing with a CEO or a politician, always get the cash up front!

Before he left, he helped himself to the pension fund. He used the money to finance the takeover of Occidental Petroleum. The company bought its stock back from him. Murdock kept the $60 million profit.

He used textile pension money to buy into the oil business. He held a fund-raiser for presidential candidate and oil kingpin George W. Bush.

Murdock stopped the pension fund and bought annuities. The California firm collapsed and the retirees' small checks stopped coming.

The Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union filed suit against Murdock, on behalf of the retirees. He made an undisclosed settlement.

By the time employees were able to get a union in, they were pretty well beaten into the ground. The union was able to improve benefits for the workers. But it could not undo the damage the politicians had done to the employees. Now these politicians are saying “We’re from Washington, and we are here to help.”

The drowning employees have been thrown concrete blocks.

Is Orrin Hatch a Software Pirate?

Employee Advocate – - June 23, 2003

Senator Orrin Hatch has been backpedaling and explaining since he advocated remotely destroying the computers of people who swap music files. He was not concerned about violating anti-hacking laws, because Congress could make it legal.

Wired News added a little spice to the situation by reporting that Orrin Hatch uses unlicensed software on his official website. The JavaScript menu by Milonic Solutions, is copyright-protected and was not licensed for use on the Hatch website.

Andy Woolley, Milonic operator, said “It's an unlicensed copy. It's very unfortunate for him because of those comments he made. They're using our code. We've had no contact with them. They are in breach of our licensing terms.”

Not only was Hatch apparently using the software illegally, but there seemed to be deliberate deception involved. The source code on the Hatch site contained the line “* i am the license for the menu *”

Woolley said “It looks like it's trying to cover something up, as though they got a license.”

Laurence Simon, an unemployed system administrator, found the licensing problem on the Hatch site. He was outraged after reading Hatch’s comments about punishing citizens by destroying their computers.

Woolley added “We don't want blood. We just want payment for the hard work we do. We work very, very hard. If they're not prepared to pay, they're software pirates.”

Orrin Hatch could give the American public a demonstration of how his new system would work by destroying his own computer. That would not be a big problem for Hatch. The taxpayers would just have to buy him another one.

Senator Hatch-et Man

Employee Advocate – - June 18, 2003

Senator Orrin Hatch’s mail is diverted to either Ohio or New Jersey. His website states that it sometimes takes him months to receive a letter. He does not want anyone to remotely slip him any anthrax.

All the while, he is searching for a way to remotely destroy the computers of Americans, according to the Associated Press. Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is evidently hankering to dispense his own kind of back street justice. Tuesday he said that he wants technology developed that will remotely destroy the computers of anyone downloading music without the blessings of the corporate owners.

Never mind that legal experts have said these remote attacks would violate federal anti-hacking laws. Will Hatch become known as Senator Hack?

At a hearing, someone said “"No one is interested in destroying anyone's computer."

Hatch butted in and said “I'm interested.”

If Hatch has his way, your computer may suffer a meltdown because your 10-year-old swapped some music files on your computer.

Is a rogue politician really the best that America has to offer for chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee?

There is a way to remotely blast Hatch out of office!

Relax, it’s all legal. You do it at the voting booth. All the people have to do is vote for someone who is interested in protecting the benefits of working Americans instead of destroying their personal property. Then Hatch and cronies will suffer their own meltdowns, of sorts.

Washington - Page 37