Step back in time to the problem
This post is from my friend BJ Trotter, a retired newspaper editor in the Carolina's. It is an honor for me that she has allowed me to cross post her work from DemWit.
If you are old enough, you remember those red, white and blue posters with the pointed finger and the challenge, “Uncle Sam wants you.”
I have just finished reading the transcript of President Obama’s address to the nation last night. In the wake of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, this president is pointing his finger at YOU: he wants you to help him to help America break its “addiction to fossil fuels.”
Isn’t it time?
When all the blame goes around, it ultimately comes back to YOU – for you are a citizen of a nation which consumes 20 percent of the world’s oil supply while possessing less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.
YOU are further to blame for not demanding accountability in the wake of years of Republican deregulation of this industry.
LET US step back in time to the problem.
On Thursday, 25 May 2006, I noted in my Daily Journal:
BREAKING NEWS: Awaiting a verdict in the 53-day trial of Enron’s founder and CEO Ken Lay (charged with six counts of securities fraud and conspiracy) and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling (charged with 28 counts of the same). The jury has deliberated six days. These men allegedly bilked employees and stockholders out of life savings when the company went belly up. They are accused of reporting the company was doing great when, in fact, it was failing. Stocks plummeted from $90 a share to zero. As an MSNBC reporter stated: “Enron has come to symbolize corporate greed.” This is the biggest case of corporate fraud to date – and there have been some big ones!
Noon. Ken Lay GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS! Jeff Skilling GUILTY on 19 of 28 counts! Also, Reuters is reporting a judge has found Ken Lay GUILTY in a separate case of bank fraud.
Bush’s good buddy Lay came out to the microphone to proclaim his innocence and invoke the name of the Lord. Not once has this hypocrite admitted any guilt in bilking so many out of their life’s savings.
NOW, step into DemWit’s time machine and travel back to the year 2003 when I first wrote “The Enron Connection” - an article I have subsequently updated.
I present the crux of that article here to show how closely aligned the Bush administration – which formulated our energy policies – was to those regulated by them.
From “The Enron Connection” by B.J. Trotter:
RALPH REED - Former head of the Christian Coalition and GOP strategist. Reed was hired by Enron for $10,000 a month in 1997 on the recommendation of Bush political adviser Karl Rove as a way to keep Reed loyal to Bush and close enough not to disrupt the campaign's "compassionate conservative" spin.
DON EVANS - First, Bush's chief campaign fund-raiser, then Secretary of Commerce. Evans accepted Enron Chairman Ken Lay's campaign contributions and fielded Lay's phone calls.
KEEP READING, it gets better.
ALBERTO GONZALES - Gonzales is a White House counsel who worked at Vinson and Elkins, a Houston law firm which represented Enron and signed off on Enron's questionable accounting schemes.
PATRICK H. WOOD III - Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Wood was Ken Lay's personal choice to replace Curtis Herbert, Jr., who was forced out of office by Bush after disagreeing with Lay on regulatory policies.
SPENCER ABRAHAM - After being appointed Secretary of Energy by Bush, Abraham called Ken Lay to talk about Enron's financial difficulties and their effect on energy markets. As a senator, Abraham received substantial Enron contributions.
ROBERT ZOELLICK - U.S. Trade Representative Zoellick, who served on Enron's advisory council, provided another key source of access for Enron officials.
MARC F. RACICOT - Former Montana governor Racicot was Enron's Washington lobbyist. He dropped his client after being named Republican National Chairman.
WENDY GRAMM - As Commodities Futures Trading Commission Chairman, Gramm, wife of then Senator Phil Gramm (R. - TEXAS), pushed through a measure exempting Enron from federal oversight. She serves on Enron's audit committee.
SENATOR PHIL GRAMM - Then Senator Gramm pushed through legislation shielding Enron from government scrutiny and later decided not to seek re-election in 2002.. Thus ended a dedicated Senate career for Gramm, who, in the mid-80s, co-authored the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act with the intent of balancing the nation's budget and cutting federal deficits.
THOMAS E. WHITE - White, a 10-year Enron executive involved in market manipulation and price gouging, sold off $12 million in Enron stock after Bush appointed him Secretary of the Army. Citizen advocacy groups pushed for his resignation, and he resigned in April 2003.
KARL ROVE - Rove, chief White House political adviser, was a major Enron stockholder when he met with Ken Lay to discuss Enron's problems with federal regulators.
JOHN ASHCROFT - U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft had to recuse himself from the Justice Department's Enron investigation after revealing the company donated $61,000 to his failed 2000 Senate campaign.
OTHER BUSH POLITICAL ASSOCIATES WHO HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED BY ENRON - Former Commerce Secretary and Texas oilman Robert Mosbacher, Secretary of State James Baker, former White House economics guru Lawrence B. Lindsey, campaign adviser Ed Gillespie. Department of Commerce General Counsel Theodore W. Kassinger and Maritime Administrator William G. Schubert.
DICK CHENEY - As head of the Bush administration energy task force, which, if I recall, met behind closed doors, Vice President Cheney gave Ken Lay and other Enron executives major influence over the creation of the nation's energy policy.
KEN LAY - Enron Chairman Lay, a longtime personal friend of George W. Bush, made the company Bush's biggest campaign contributor and used his resulting influence to shape public energy policy in Enron's favor.
GEORGE W. BUSH - President Bush rewarded Enron's massive campaign contribution by refusing to intervene when the company's profiteering sparked California's energy crisis - a crisis for which California Governor Gray Davis paid the ultimate price, a recall from office by groups which succeeded in putting the responsibility of the state's energy and budget crisis on his shoulders.
I CONCLUDED the article:
The tangled web of Enron is far-reaching and under-reported. Television news is too busy covering the "flavor-of-the-day" stories - from Michael Jackson's dangling baby to the Laci Peterson murder case to the touting of Ann Coulter's new book, which hails Sen. Joe McCarthy as a great American hero - to report on REAL news. The days of great investigative journalism, when the "Fourth Estate" served a "checks and balances" function, are seemingly in the past.
And, Enron is just the tip of the iceberg. The web of corporate entanglement by the current administration clearly marks a CONFLICT OF INTEREST, a charge which in the past would have had every newspaper and TV news source in this country howling for investigation.
Halliburton, Harkin, Bechtel, Westar. All involved in a political quid pro quo resulting in massive government contracts. Halliburton, where Dick Cheney served as chairman and CEO, and its affiliates have been given the very lucrative job of rebuilding Iraq.
There is no need for an independent counsel here. No one need dig up the facts. These are the facts, reported by a few brave news outlets, citizen advocacy groups, corporate watchdogs and Internet news sites across this nation. The problem with newspapers is their reader base is localized and not as far-reaching as cable TV's CNN, MSNBC and Fox News or the major network anchor desks. These TV news outlets, all owned by major corporations, have remained eerily silent on this issue of conflict of interest.
The ultimate responsibility for righting this wrong lies in the power of the American citizen's sole possession, which cannot be bought or sold - the vote.
Questioning why nothing is being done about this issue is fair.
SOURCES OF NAMES: Common Cause and “Big Lies: The Right Wing Political Machine and How It Distorts the Truth” by Joe Conason.
TRAVELING BACK to the late 1960s:
I worked in public relations at St. Regis Paper Company’s Ferguson Mill in Monticello, Miss. – at the time the world’s largest paper mill. I know the standards in place at that time to protect the environment and ensure workplace safety. I even remember a home office memo explaining the term “ecology.” Somewhere along the way those standards have been eroded.
BACK TO THE FUTURE:
There is a lesson to be learned here. Will America seize this opportunity and accept the presidnt’s challenge?
Not if the Republican Party can help it.