James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Monday, May 15, 2006

Is it Congress or the Capone Gang?

We, the people of the United States of America, are wretchedly stupid and dismally ignorant.

I know that, because the U.S. Congress says so. Also because there is an overwhelming amount of supporting evidence.

Members of Congress don't call us stupid or ignorant in so many words, of course. Although they are as rotten a collection of thieves and con artists as ever disgraced Washington, most members of Congress are not as stupid as we the suckers who keep them in office. We passively allow them to commit countless crimes and to act openly and disdainfully against our interests, but we probably would take umbrage if they said out loud what their actions so clearly show.

In our government today, unmitigated stupidity is the province of that other gang of criminals, the people who run the presidency. And they don't care whether we are stupid and ignorant or not; they will do what they want to do regardless of whether we kiss their feet or spit in their faces –- or rather, in the direction of their faces, since we are not allowed within shouting distance, let alone spitting distance, of their royal persons.

The arrogance of Congress in its open thievery, its utter disdain for the public good and for the rule of law, and the cowardice of those who know right from wrong but won't cross their more powerful colleagues, tell all we need to know about how the members view us.

How do they tell us what they think of us? Let us count the ways.

*Even the people who read nothing but an occasional sports page story and the comics now know, through repeated telling, that the promises of ethics “reform” so rashly made after Jack Abramoff got his mammaries caught in the proverbial laundry device were almost immediately broken.

The crooks came home for spring break, learned that we, their constituents, weren't asking any questions or making any demands born of the scandal, and correctly decided that we either don't know or don't care about the ongoing bribery and trading of favors for votes. So they passed a “reform” bill that accomplishes exactly nothing; the bill was designed to a great extent by the very lobbyists who do most of the bribing.

End of that story. As the New York Times said in an editorial, the inclusion “ethics training” in the phony bill is “the ultimate touch of drollery.”

*Tom DeLay, the former capo de capo of the Republicans, designed the infamous K Street Project, which forced lobbyists to support only Republicans, to hire only Republicans and to pay through the nose for the laws they want. It works. It provides huges sums for Republican campaigns and ensures that Democrats, other than a few tame Republicrats such as Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton, get little or no corporate dollars. It also ensures that laws are written to the specifications of the rich and powerful, and screw you and me.

At this point, there seems to be only one way to dismantle the DeLay-designed system, bring fairness to the electoral process and put an end to the writing of laws by the corporations. That way is public financing of elections. In fact, it is the only way to achieve any measure of ethics reform.

The members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, avoid any mention of public financing as pedestrians avoid dog droppings on the sidewalk. Public advocacy groups such as Common Cause and TomPaine.common sense call for such reform, but Congress is deaf to the sound.

*The New York Times and a handful of other publications have reported at some length on the real mess in the CIA – going much deeper than the Bush nomination of yet another incompetent crook to head the organization -– but most of the corporate press has ignored or almost ignored the goings on, and probably no more than five percent of the American public is aware of the story.

You may, vaguely, have heard that Kyle Foggo (great name for a spook, huh?), also known as Dusty, resigned May 11 as the CIA's third ranking official. The FBI later raided Foggo's home, looking for evidence of how he illegally helped poker pals get government contracts. Among the numerous charges pending against CIA top guns is the improper awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in CIA contracts to cronies in the business world. Several members of Congress also are almost certain to be implicated, if the investigation goes forward and if the administration doesn't interfere.

Foggo also is tied to the recently-resigned CIA director Porter Goss (doncha just love those preppy monikers?), who is a nominee for the prize as the guy who caused more resignations of top professionals in the agency than any other director in its history.

Most of this appeared in an article in the Times on May 12.

Congress, acting unanimously for a change, is ignoring the whole thing. So are most of the corporate news media.

*On the same page on the same day, the Times had a another story you probably haven't seen if you read another newspaper or get your “news” from TV. Federal investigators are “examining the activities” of several members of the House Appropriations Committee. The investigation has to do with the relationships of committee members –- especially Rep. Jerry Lewis, the Republican chair of the committee –- and various lobbyists and contractors.

It's an expansion of the investigation that put another Republican (now former) member of the committee, Randy Cunningham, behind bars for up to eight years, and it involves out-and-out bribery.

Again, the silence from Congress and most of the press is good enough for a concert hall. Hell, no one is even coughing. We'll have to wait for quite awhile to see if this investigation goes on or gets deliberately blocked.

*A little thing, as government crimes go these days: The Guardian, in Britain, reported a few days ago that the Pentagon secretly has shipped “tens of thousands of small arms” from Bosnia to Iraq over the past two years. Amnesty International, which provided the information for the story, said the guns, many of them Russian-made automatic weapons, ostensibly were for new Iraqi troops (which army wasn't clear), but that many apparently “have fallen into the wrong hands.”

In plain language, the U.S. Military is arming the Iraqi “insurgents.”

Not a peep out of Congress.

*Truthout (not your local newspaper) reported a few days ago that Turd Blossom, aka Karl Rove, has warned the Bush that he, Blossom, is about to be indicted in the CIA case that gets occasional attention from the press. The charges against Blossom almost certainly will involve perjury and probably also obstruction of justice, Truthout writer Jason Leopold said.

Prediction: Republicans in the administration and in Congress will complain that the charges are politically motivated and that any perjury was a minor offense. Those will be the same Congressmen and administration flunkies who howled about perjury when Bill Clinton tap danced over the meaning of the word sex.

Republican members of Congress are not pressing the Bush to get rid of Blossom. In fact, they have their heads so low under their desks that you'd think both houses of that once-august body were composed of a few confused Democrats.

*CongressDaily says that former National Security Agency staff guy Russell Tice is going to raise a stink before the Senate Armed Services Committee in the next week. Watch for the stories, but look on the inside pages next to the acne-cure ads, even if Tice keeps his promise to blow Bush's CIA nominee Gen. Michael Hayden out of the water.

Hayden, a former intelligence officer for the NSA, was responsible for many illegal activities during his tenure at that agency, Tice told CongressDaily. The illegal activities, including the use of satellites in space to spy on U.S. Citizens, go far beyond what's been reported so far, Tice said.

Will the members of your Congress press Hayden and the administration on such matters? Will the administration withdraw the nomination? Will the corporate press tell you the whole story?

Life in these once-United States is just full of questions, most of which are never satisfactorily answered.

*Early last week a House appropriations subcommittee decided it will block, at least for now, a move by Bush's Department of Energy to blatently screw over people who work for contractors that offer pensions to their employees.

The department said it would no longer reimburse contractors for any costs associated with providing traditional pensions to their employees. However, it said it would cover expenses (much smaller in most cases) for providing 401(K) plans.

How's that for pushing political goals by means of official policy?

Subcommittee members, aware of the bribery investigation, did the right thing on this one, but as with so many actions, we'll have to wait and see what happens once the cloud blows past.

*Another one I won't go into detail on here, because it has received plenty of main stream coverage: We just passed the deadline for older folks to sign up for prescription drug coverage under the Republican Medicare Part D program. The news coverage has been out there, but mostly weasel-worded, so that many folks still don't understand:

The plan is a stinking scam. It was largely written by the drug companies, which contributed $87 billion (billion, with a “b”) to political campaigns, overwhelmingly Republican campaigns, between 1998 and 2005. (Information from Institute for America's Future.) People who are 65 and older and didn't enroll by the deadline will pay horrendous penalties should they decide they have to sign up later. The program specifically forbids Medicare from using it's bulk purchase power to negotiate better drug prices for plan enrollees. The Bush gave former Medicare administrator Thomas Scully an “ethics waver” that allowed him to negotiate for his present job as a drug industry lobbyist while he was still working on writing the bill for Congress. No member of Congress objected, so far as I can discover.

My desk still is almost entirely buried in material about such scams, thefts, robberies and screwings of the body politic, but this piece already is too long.

Perhaps I'll go on with the list in a day or three.

Throw a kiss to your senators and representatives....preferably wrapped around a large and heavy rock.

And feel free to copy any or all of this, or borrow as you see fit to provide your “conservative” acquaintances with the facts.