Friday :: May 14, 2004

Introducing: The Corporo-Republican Party


by pessimist

It's no secret that the Republican Party can never run out of things to do to benefit their major sponsors of the corporate world. As it turns out, the desire for generous beneficial action is mutual.

Take Cheep Justice William Rehnquist - PLEASE!. He's being chauffeured to the dedication of the Ohio State Judicial Center in a corporate jet owned by American Electric Power.


Chief justice criticized for Ohio travel plans
Rehnquist will ride corporate jet to dedication

U.S. Supreme Court spokesman Kathy Arberg said the chief justice had nothing to do with the flight arrangements. "Arrangements for justices' travel and accommodations are made by the inviting organization," she said. "That's provided for in the Judicial Code of Conduct."

AEP spokesman Melissa McHenry said the company is "accommodating a request from the Ohio Supreme Court" and estimated the "incremental" cost to the court for the flight to be approximately $3,800. The "incremental" cost would not include the salaries of pilots or other fixed costs that would be paid regardless of whether the plane left the ground Saturday.

"AEP will be reimbursed for the cost of that," said Ohio Supreme Court spokesman Chris Davey. "We are hoping to save a little money because AEP has agreed to do it at cost."

Such a deal!

The court has received commitments from charitable foundations of several Ohio metropolitan bar associations to cover cost overruns if there are any, said Mr. Davey. "It was important to [Ohio] Chief Justice [Thomas] Moyer that we find a way to appropriately recognize this once-in-a-lifetime historic event without burdening the taxpayers of Ohio," he said.

"This is a service that is being provided for a charge. On a daily basis, we acquire our electricity from American Electric Power, and we pay for that. We purchase supplies and furniture in the course of doing business and it is never raised that that is somehow improper or would be an issue if the vendor ever appeared before the court." declared Mr. Davey

So what is American Electric Power getting out of this arrangement?

AEP and other utilities are defendants in a federal lawsuit filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act by their Ohio power plants. The case could work its way up the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ahhh, So! Was that a duck call I just heard?

"Who should Ohio citizens be more upset with, a for-profit company providing the plane or the Ohio Supreme Court for wiring the deal?" asked Jack Shaner, lobbyist for the Ohio Environmental Council.

"This is not a favor," said Mr. Davey. He noted that security issues and Chief Justice Rehnquist's knee problem made a commercial flight impractical. "The President of the United States does not fly on commercial airlines and generally neither does the chief justice of the United States," he said.

"Clearly, this is a favor. All businesses, including AEP, have things they need or want from the courts. I know Justice Rehnquist doesn't want to say more by the way he travels than with any speech he gives." Catherine Turcer, of government watchdog Ohio Citizen Action, said flying a U.S. Supreme Court justice on a corporate jet at another court's request, even at cost, doesn't look good. "I have a friend in Washington that I'd love to fly out here, but I can't call up AEP and ask for the plane," she said.

As bad as this looks, it isn't the worst act by the corporate world that blatantly benefits Republicans. Check out these partisan practices:


Corporate Political Censorship Runs Wild

It appears that the Corporate Media giants have decided to cripple the efforts of the most effective critics of Bush Republicanism going into the 2004 Presidential elections. This started becoming apparent when Move On.org was stopped from running relatively mild ads during the Super Bowl criticizing the Bush Administration for creating a huge national debt problem for our children to solve in the future. This was done by Viacom while the Bush Republicans did not face similar restrictions.

The Bush Republicans have no problem running their highly negative ads.

The outdoor advertising division of Viacom has stopped the Missouri Democratic Party from placing billboards in that state which read, “The Republicans have a plan. You are not part of it!” These ads definitely comply with the published political advertising guidelines used by Viacom. Unfortunately, the Missouri Democratic Party made the mistake of designing ads that are effective in pointing out that the Bush Republicans are advancing an agenda that promotes only Big Business.

Big Business is using their market power to hide this fact from the average voter.

This behavior seems to runs rampant among the Corporate Media giants. The Disney Corporation which controls a huge number of movie screens has instructed these theaters not to show Michael Moore’s new movie Fahrenheit 911 which is very critical of the Bush Administration.

It has been reported that Disney may believe that showing this movie will threaten tax breaks given them by the Bush Republicans.

The Baltimore based Sinclair television broadcasting company instructed their ABC affiliates not to show the Nightline program which honored the war dead from the Iraq War by reading their names. The ratings on the program were huge despite the blackout in the markets controlled by Sinclair. Sinclair executives and major stockholders have given tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to the Bush Republicans. They realize that the Iraq War has been totally botched by the Bush Administration despite the heroism of our soldiers.

The cost in American lives would defeat Bush if the American voter truly becomes aware of it!

This is the same reason the Bush Administration will not permit filming of the coffins of our fallen heroes returning home to grieving families.

Sinclair is engaging in blatant censorship and misusing the public airwaves to advance their political bias.

The most shocking act of blatant political censorship has been on the Internet by Yahoo. Yahoo has canceled the email account and Yahoo discussion groups of Florida Democratic radio talk show host Andy Johnson. This was done without good reason or advance notice. The action keeps him from having access to all his emails or addresses. It cripples his radio show. All his contact information has essentially been seized by Yahoo! Andy Johnson was the victim of this action within days after these writers asked him to join in endorsing the Bush Impeachment effort of Democrats.com http://democrats.com/impeach . His Impeachment discussion groups were shutdown when Yahoo typically keeps them going even when the founders accounts are cancelled.

Democratic activists all over this nation are demanding and planning responses to Corporate Media political censorship. Measures from challenging broadcast licenses, to pushing for legal requires for equal time and fairness in broadcasting, to lawsuits, to consumer boycotts and even passing anti-monopoly laws that break the market power of these Corporate Media giants are actively being discussed. These writers will attempt to keep you informed of developments in future commentaries.

Considering that the Republicans control both houses of Congress, I wish them a lot of luck. But then, considering this info, they just may have some luck after all!


Conservatives' dissent puts pressure on Bush

President Bush is facing sharp dissent from his conservative base that could force him to change course on the war in Iraq and other issues or risk losing critical support for his re-election campaign. The complaints are rising from the traditional conservative wing of the Republican Party — including such influential voices as Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois and columnist George Will, who are challenging the "neo-conservative" doctrine that the United States can remake the Middle East by toppling Saddam Hussein and nurturing a democracy.

"It would be foolish, not to say ruinously arrogant, to believe that we can determine the future of Iraq," Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said yesterday.

Bush still has solid support from his party's rank and file — 95 percent of conservative Republicans plan to vote for him or are leaning toward doing so, according to a Pew Research Center survey. But if dissatisfaction over the war and other hot-button issues — such as soaring federal-budget deficits, an expensive new Medicare drug entitlement and a proposed near-amnesty for illegal immigrants — spreads through conservative ranks, it could force Bush to change course or face the prospect that some conservatives might sit out what's expected to be another close election.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, suggested Bush's vision of America's role may be unrealistic and unwise.

"We need to restrain what are growing U.S. messianic instincts, a sort of global social engineering where the United States feels it is both entitled and obligated to promote democracy, by force if necessary," Roberts said in a speech.

Hyde and Roberts aren't abandoning their support for the war to topple Saddam. Both voted for the congressional resolution last year authorizing military action in Iraq, citing the threat of weapons of mass destruction. But no evidence has been found that Iraq had chemical or biological weapons or an active nuclear-weapons program, and Hyde and Roberts now insist that the administration's first priority should be to stabilize the country so Iraqis can form a government. "There's a growing split between conservatives and neo-cons," said a senior House Republican aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"From day one, traditional conservatives did not believe that the United States could deliver democracy to Iraq."

Unlike traditional conservatives, who are wary of big government, budget deficits and foreign entanglements, so-called "neo-conservatives" believe that America has an opportunity and even a duty to export its concept of liberty. Some in the administration thought Iraq would be Exhibit A of how readily Western democracy would take root.

Will, who is influential with traditional conservatives, recently scorned such neo-conservative thinking. Conservatism, he wrote, means seeing the world as it is, not as it should be. "Traditional conservatism," Will wrote. "Nothing 'neo' about it. This administration needs a dose of conservatism without the prefix." In a follow-up column, Will voiced sharp criticism of the Bush White House for refusing to consider changing course in Iraq. "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts," Will wrote. "Being steadfast in defense of carefully considered convictions is a virtue. Being blankly incapable of distinguishing cherished hopes from disappointing facts, or of reassessing comforting doctrines in the face of contrary evidence, is a crippling political vice."

Wars' cost estimated at $50 billion next year

Bush faces other criticism from traditional conservatives, notably over budget policies. David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union, noted in a recent letter to members that federal spending has increased by $300 billion since Bush took office, including $96 billion for domestic social-welfare programs. By comparison, Keene said, spending increased by only $51 billion during President Clinton's first six years.

So who's the big spending party now? Hey - a billion here and a billion there - pretty soon you're talking real money! That's how Dumbya's buddy Kenny-boy of Enron did it, and they were the management role model for the Bush (mis)Administration! Wasn't that a great choice?


War Management Follows the Wrong Corporate Model

There are lots of ways to explain why the Bush administration has made a hash of its Iraq policy. To my mind, however, this is fundamentally a story about management failure and a corporate leadership style that the first MBA president and his crew of former CEOs brought to Washington.

Or think of it this way: The reason the world's only superpower is stuck in the mud in Iraq is the same reason Xerox got into trouble with accounting, why Wall Street analysts and investment bankers didn't blow the whistle on WorldCom and Enron, and why much of the magic has gone out of Disney's Magic Kingdom.

Over the years I've noticed that companies that get into trouble, or lose their edge, have many of the same characteristics at the top: an overemphasis on hierarchy and orderliness; a penchant for secrecy and keeping decisions closely held; an instinct to discount information or dismiss views that don't comport with the company line; a habit of pronouncing rather than engaging intellectually with those outside the inner circle; an unhealthy arrogance and sense of entitlement.

When something goes wrong, the all-too-typical corporate response is to downplay its importance or bury it in bureaucratic processes. And if that doesn't work, the next line of defense is to pin it all on a few "bad apples" and move aggressively to "put the issue behind us," without ever really admitting serious error.

That should sound familiar to anyone who has watched Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John Snow on C-SPAN, or read Paul O'Neill's account of his ill-fated attempts to warn of the budgetary fallout from a second tax cut, or heard what Richard Clarke told the 9/11 commission about warnings of terrorist attacks that fell on deaf ears. It also describes to a T the process by which the administration has dealt with Iraq, from the original decision to go to war to the handling of the prison scandal.

Here's a little test: You are president of the United States and revelations about abuse of Iraqi prisoners has created the biggest crisis since Sept. 11, inflaming the Arab world, undercutting support at home and undermining our moral authority in the world. How do you spend the weekend?
If you answered "spend it at Camp David as planned, then drop in at the Pentagon on Monday to praise the defense secretary for doing a superb job," you just flunked, along with George W. Bush.

Noel Tichy, a management expert at the University of Michigan, notes that when Jack Welch faced a crisis when he was chief executive of General Electric, he would drop everything he was doing, scramble his audit team and descend on the problem unit. Over a weekend, he would conduct his own detailed investigation. And on Monday morning he would show up personally at the Pentagon or the SEC with a report on what went wrong, who would be fired and what he was going to do to make things right.

Something like that would never occur to Bush.

His view of the leader's role is to set broad goals and vision, delegate everything else to trusted subordinates and stay the course when things don't go exactly to plan. But as Michael Maccoby, a Washington psychoanalyst and management consultant explains, it is that unwillingness to get into the details and the lack of interest in hearing divergent views that create a kind of ideological rigidity, rendering Bush incapable of admitting mistakes or considering changes in direction.

The Bush team likes to crow that it brought disciplined, private-sector management to government. But as Joshua Marshall wrote last year in the Washington Monthly, theirs turns out to be a largely discredited, old-economy management style -- one better suited for the cartel-like oil, drug and railroad industries they came from than the messy, fast-changing realities facing the government of the United States.

I'd hate to face a board of directors and have to admit mistakes were made - unless I didn't make 'em!


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