The Daily Brew
Saturday, July 13, 2002:
The democrats had better wise up. This plays so perfectly into Ralph Nader's line that it isn't even funny.
Right after voting yesterday morning to limit debate on legislation clamping down on corporate abuses, 16 Democratic senators flew on corporate jets from Washington to Nantucket, Mass., for a weekend retreat with 250 major campaign donors.
The jets were supplied by BellSouth Corp., Eli Lilly and Co., FedEx and AFLAC. All have given large sums of "soft money" to both major parties, but Republicans generally have received the majority.
The cost of using the jets -- estimated by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at just over $44,000 -- will be counted as in-kind soft-money contributions to the committee. Tovah Ravitz-Meehan, DSCC communications director, said invitations to the weekend gathering were sent to those who had given $20,000 or more. There are no official events or presentations planned, she said, although some senators up for reelection this fall might discuss their campaigns with the donors.
The Democratic senators attending the Nantucket retreat are DSCC chairman Patty Murray (Wash.), Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Daniel K. Akaka (Hawaii), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), Jon S. Corzine (N.J.), Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), John F. Kerry (Mass.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.). source
Common Sense // 12:06 PM
Friday, July 12, 2002:
From the Grand Old Dame:
In Minneapolis today, Mr. Bush seemed to display some impatience over the attention that was being paid to the issue. He spoke about the way he believes that the attack on the World Trade Center has changed the way Americans viewed their lives.
"I believe people have taken a step back and asked, `What's important in life?' " Mr. Bush said. "You know, the bottom line and this corporate America stuff, is that important? Or is serving your neighbor, loving your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself?"
HEY NUMBNUTS! I realize you are already a millionaire, but the rest of us depend on the economy to eat. So we tend to think it is pretty important!
Common Sense // 3:20 PM
Who says Bush is an idiot?
He figured out how to cash out a public company years before the rest of them.
Common Sense // 2:15 PM
Help me here folks, I'm grasping at air.
Common Sense // 2:11 PM
Thursday, July 11, 2002:
Common Sense // 1:21 AM
Wednesday, July 10, 2002:
It is tough being a liberal and calling yourself a Christian. The main reason is you tend to have a lot of friends who aren't Christians, and they tend to ask you to explain idiots like the ones who beat this 11 year old kid so bad that his kidney's failed because he supposedly cheated learning a bible verse.
You can read the whole gruesome story here. All I can say is to repeat the wisdom of my father who asked, "why would you judge God by the acts of men?"
Common Sense // 10:30 PM
If you are like me, and would consider a paid subscription to Salon if only they would fire the wing nuts like Horowitz, I urge you to write Kerry Lauerman and let him know. He wants to hear from you.
Don't believe me? Read our email exchange:
I would like to go premium, I really would. Back when you were free, you were definitely my favorite zine. But, like many, I'm not going to do a damn thing that gives a single nickel to the likes of Horowitz.
I know your opinion, no need to repeat it. But I do have one question.
There are thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, who are just like me. On the other side, I doubt even 20 people would drop their Salon Premium subscription if you gave 'ol Dave the boot.
Have you ever calculated how much it costs you to print that nut job? Care to throw out a figure?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Kerry Lauerman"
Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2002 2:36 AM
Subject: Re: Subscribe
curious: who are these thousands, and hundreds of thousands? where are they?
wow. that was quick.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I've misinterpreted the 50 million votes that Al
Gore got. Maybe I've misinterpreted the 500,000 more he got than George
Bush. Maybe there aren't any liberals left in America after all.
If that's the case, then I suppose people who subscribe to Salon tolerate
your progressive writers because you have courage to publish ol' Davey
Horowitz. Yeah, that's it. They love his wild invective soooooo much, that
they put up with the cognative dissonance they experience if they
inadvertantly click on Conason.
Figure it out. Newsmax and Free Republic are only a click away. Your model
isn't like a daily, or even a newsmagazine. Your readers don't want
balance. They don't want equal time. They want to support a rare voice of
progressive reason in a sea of corporate mediopolies. Balance to that voice
is a click away, for free, among any of a dozen mainstream press outlets and
right wing attack sites. Your niche is progressives. Your story on Henry
Hyde literally put you on the map. But you insist on MAKING us pay Horowitz
salary (and a few others). It won't work. You have to pick sides. Or die.
Which is apparently what you've chosen.
Common Sense // 6:13 PM
Tuesday, July 09, 2002:
I suspect more than a few of the people who actually get to this spot on the internet share a particularly bad habit of mine. It is time for me to break this habit, and thanks to a wonderful group that has benefitted millions the world over, and not a few of my own friends, I think I know how to do it.
My name is brew, and I am a compulsive news junky.
It started when I began reading the paper as a child. For me, growing up in Northern Virginia, it was The Washington Post.
It was a heady time at the Post, as a couple of reporters who have since sold out their journalistic ethics for access to the current corrupt GOP presidential administration were early on their path to becoming powerful figures by bringing down a former corrupt GOP presidential administration. I was young and impressionable, and I was hooked.
Throughout my teens and twenties, I could handle my addiction. Girls, cars, and other youthful pursuits kept me distracted, and I was what I would call a "functioning addict." As the years wore on, however, my situation continued to deteriorate.
My ability to control my need for constant news input reached its first crisis point in graduate school, where I would spend countless hours shifting through hundreds of periodicals in the library. I graduated early, but my smile and diploma betrayed an awful truth; I had become a news junky for life.
My early working days after graduate school helped to keep my impulses in check, but at the same time, technology conspired to drive me over the edge. In 1992, cable television created the around the clock news cycle. While I hardly needed that bit of encouragement, cable was repetitive and boorish, so my indulgences were still. The internet, of course, would change all that. With free access to virtually every periodical on the planet, I was instantly in real danger.
Still, the final straw that drove me over the edge would not come for a few more years when the very levers of power in my government were stolen in broad daylight. As the weeks wore on, this corrupt cabal who had hi-jacked my birthright set about to systematically destroy all that I cherished. My planet's air, water and ground were immediately under an enormous assault. Soon thereafter, a war whose origins have never been investigated, precipitated a complete collapse of my and everyone elses constitutional rights. The freedoms my forefathers had fought and some died for were written out of existence before my very eyes. And then came the economic collapse.
All of this bad news has led me here. Reading all day. Nothing but politics. Rock bottom.
My name is brew, and I am a compulsive news junky.
I know the friends of Bill W will tell you, you can't have just a little. But I am going to try. Only an hour a day, from now on, and no more posting for two weeks. I promise.
But before I go, I would like to leave you with some words that I think we as Americans should take to heart, especially in these trying times. They are taken from our Nation's Declaration of Independance.
...all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security
I'll be back in two weeks. In the meantime, Never give up, Never give in, Never say die.
Common Sense // 9:39 PM
"We have to do more than lock up a few corrupt corporate executives. We have to clean out the misguided conservative politicians who helped create the conditions in which the corrupt could thrive."
The Conservative Bubble Boys
By Robert L. Borosage
Tuesday, July 9, 2002; Page A21
The bubble did it. Or so goes the newly fashionable, no-fault explanation for the cascading corporation scandals now posing a clear and present danger to the U.S. economy. "The '90s were a period of excess," intones head White House economist Lawrence Lindsay.
Every economic bubble since the Dutch Tulip Mania in the 1500s has been marked by scandal and crime. We were all swept up in the craze, captured by the desire to get rich quick. Since we're all implicated, no one is responsible. The market is coming back to earth; we'll sort out the few "bad apples," the lawbreakers, and move on.
Bull. This bubbleology would allow conservatives to shirk responsibility for what they have wrought. The fact is that after the "excesses" of the 1920s drove us into the Great Depression, there was no equivalent epidemic of financial and political corruption for 50 years until the current crime wave. That's because Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal put cops on the beat to police corporations and regulate their behavior.
The Securities and Exchange Commission was created to review the books. The Glass-Steagall Act separated investment houses from commercial banks to end corrosive conflicts of interest. The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department limited mergers and monopolies. Unions, some 30 percent of the workforce, made companies more responsible to their workers.
It is no accident that the current wave of costly corporate scandals followed the rise of modern conservatism to political power two decades ago. Ronald Reagan governed while denigrating government as "the problem, not the solution." He starved agencies of resources and placed committed ideological opponents in charge of them. Reagan's Commerce Department drew up a hit list of regulations resented by business ("the Terrible 20"). And of course Reagan signed the law that deregulated the savings and loans associations, while his appointee revoked requirements that any S&L have 400 shareholders. The resulting infamies cost taxpayers many billions.
The conservative assault on government reached fever pitch when Newt Gingrich led the "perfectionist" caucus of the Republican right to take over Congress. For Gingrich conservatives, government regulation was creeping Stalinism. House Majority leader Dick Armey said that in the New Deal and the Great Society, "you will find, with a difference only in power and nerve the same sort of person who gave the world its Five Year Plans and Great Leaps Forward -- the Soviet and Chinese counterparts."
And it wasn't just rhetoric. "Regulatory agencies have run amok and need to be reformed," said Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority whip, as he invited business lobbyists to detail the regulations they wanted gutted.
A centerpiece of Gingrich's Contract With America was "securities reform." Passed in 1995 over President Clinton's veto, the bill shielded outside accountants and law firms from liability for false corporate reporting, and made it more difficult for shareholders to bring suit against fraudulent reporting. A flood of corporate misstatements has followed, with nearly 1,000 companies restating misleading reports in the past five years.
Then there were the compromised auditors of Enron and WorldCom, loathe to risk lucrative consulting fees from the companies they audited. In the 1990s, Clinton's SEC chairman, Arthur Levitt, waged a long and bitter campaign to ban this basic conflict of interest. The accountants' lobby -- led by one Harvey Pitt -- blocked the reforms, with Republicans Billy Tauzin in the House and Phil Gramm, joined by New Democrats such as Joe Lieberman, threatening to gut the SEC's budget if Levitt went forward.
Meanwhile, investment analysts at Merrill Lynch were rewarded for recommending stocks they considered "junk" to unwary investors. That conflict of interest was a direct result of the repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act, which had separated commercial and investment banking since the 1930s.
Or consider Enron itself. Its business plan was a political plan, to free itself of regulation and oversight. The Gramms -- Wendy as head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission under Bush I and Senator Phil -- played a major role in exempting Enron's trading in energy futures and derivatives from federal regulation. Wendy Gramm then got a lucrative position on the Enron Board.
President Bush wants to pose as tough on crime now, but he came to office tailoring his rhetoric and administration to fit Reagan's pattern. He campaigned against the "excessive regulation" of the Clinton years. He appointed the accountants' lobbyist, Harvey Pitt, to head a "kinder and gentler" SEC. His first SEC budget proposed eliminating 57 staff positions, including 13 in the office of full disclosure and 12 in the office charged with preventing fraud. His Treasury secretary immediately shut down intergovernmental efforts to monitor the offshore corporate tax havens at the heart of Enron's financial maneuvers. And the president still opposes reforms to curb the executive stock options that allowed CEOs to plunder their own companies.
The new bubbleology must not distract from what really took place. Greed and the desire to get rich quick are constant in capitalism. It isn't the temptation to cheat that changes but the risk involved. What laissez-faire, anti-government zealots did by trashing government, cutting regulatory budgets and authority, and blocking needed reforms was to weaken the cop on the beat.
Markets require rules. We have to do more than lock up a few corrupt corporate executives. We have to clean out the misguided conservative politicians who helped create the conditions in which the corrupt could thrive.
The writer is co-director of the Campaign for America's Future.
Common Sense // 1:41 PM
A former Reagan official explains that Bush has made it us against the world.
Common Sense // 1:12 PM
Anyone who though McCain Fiengold was going to solve any of the problems with our democracy ought to read this
So exactly what happens when your employer starts leaning on you to support the Republicans and you say no? Do you get fired, or just moved off to a windowless office? Siebel Systems is certainly setting an interesting precendent.
Common Sense // 1:11 PM
Monday, July 08, 2002:
This probobly isn't going anywhere, but...
For a long time, I have fantasized about doing a cartoon. One small problem; I can't draw. But, I just learned that Tom Tomorrow doesn't do his own artwork, either! This gave me the idea that I might try teaming up with someone who could draw, and thereby give stunning illustration to my poorly written gags. So....
If you or anyone you know happens to have some artistic talent and some free time on their hands, I am officially looking for an illustrator. Send me an email if you are interested, no attachments please, as I delete all messages with attachments without opening them.
Common Sense // 11:44 AM