Friday, September 30, 2005

They Said, I Said

Ironically, to respond to Mr. Otis’ letter of three
weeks ago, I find myself in the insane position of
having to defend President Jimmy Carter.

I should start out by admitting that Mr. Otis is quite
correct: I am naively obsessed with “good guys versus
bad guys.” I hasten to add that I am not so naive as
to think that there are no “black hats” in the
conservative movement. A few weeks ago, I wrote about
a few Republicans who I think need to be spanked.
However, there is no need for me to speak too often to
that issue because there are so many voices in that
chorus that one more adds nothing to the cacophony.
In fact, those raised to decry the iniquities of the
left are like voices in the wilderness.

Take for example Chuck Gregory’s obligatory
Bush-baiting and soft-sell on Al Gore two weeks ago.
Bush sabotaged the levies of New Orleans by not
funding them and, had Gore been President, he would
have allotted funds for their maintenance and been
castigated by evil Republicans as a wastrel. The
nonsense is so droll it has become unsurprising, if
not expected. However the facts, as usual, read quite
differently than the spin. While it is true that Bush
has consistently budgeted less than the Army Corps of
Engineers has asked for, Congress has always raised
the figure slightly, but still less than what the
Corps asked for. Even despite that, Corps civil works
projects in Louisiana have been better funded than
those in any other state in the union, to the tune of
$1.9 billion - note that California only got $1.4

What Chuck seems to have forgotten is that Al Gore was
the Vice President for 8 years and so we have a record
to look at and compare. What the record shows is that
the Bush Administration has budgeted more for
flood-control projects in the Big Easy than the
Clinton Administration did - I’m sure that Al Gore did
his best to influence Bill to be more giving, but
failed...again. ‘Bill and Al’s Excellent
Administration’ cut 98 flood-control projects and
terminated a $120 million project which would have
protected the West Bank (Harvey Canal) and its 140,000
lower-income black residents - but no one claimed Bill
and Al were racists. In 1999, Clinton budgeted only
half of what New Orleans officials requested for
flood-control - but no one claimed they wanted black
people to drown. In a completely Al Gore moment, Bill
promised to veto FY2000 appropriations for the Army
Corps, not because it spent more than he wanted, but
because it lacked a pet environmental project he
wanted - no, not levee maintenance, but rather a
project to save endangered birds and fish in the
Missouri River. As has always been the case, the
radical environmentalist agenda would save birds and
fish and let people drown - but that doesn’t get
reported. What the record also shows is that during
the Clinton years, the Corps was encouraged to engage
in flashy, often unnecessary, construction while the
Bush team has been trying to redirect them away from
new construction and back to maintenance, which in
many instances was long overdue - but Bill was
responsible and George is inept.

There’s quite a hubbub over Tom DeLay’s indictment by
Ronnie Earle with precious little substantial
information being presented. If DeLay is guilty,
which an indictment doesn’t even come close to proving
(especially this one), then he should be punished -
and frankly, more seriously than you or I would be for
the same crime, because he has more power than we do.
However, it has yet to be proven that he is, in fact,
guilty of anything at all. On the other hand, I’ll
wager that most of you have no clue what happened to
Michael Steele. That would be Lieutenant Governor
Michael Steele of Maryland. Oh, by the way, he’s a
Republican and considering a run for the US Senate
seat of retiring Paul Sarbanes. Senate staffers Katie
Barge and Lauren Weiner lifted Steele’s Social
Security Number from public records and used it to
gain his credit report. ID theft is a federal crime
and this instance of it comes with a stay at a prison
of the State’s choice lasting up to 2 years. Did I
mention, Barge and Weiner work for Sen. Chuck Schumer
(D-NY) of the Schumer-Nelson ID Theft Prevention Bill?
That would be the obnoxious wind-bag Schumer who
blasted Choicepoint VP Don McGuffy with questions
like: “Do you have a policy when someone’s identity
has been stolen...about notifying law enforcement

Barge and Weiner stole the information in conjunction
with their work for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign
Committee (DSCC) which Schumer happens to be the
chairman of. Their theft occurred sometime in early
July and they were immediately fired and reported to
authorities....err, no, they were put on paid leave
through August 31. They were allowed to resign in
mid-September following an ‘internal investigation.’
Sen. Schumer’s office “immediately notified” Lt. Gov.
Steele in a timely fashion shortly thereafter. Barge
and Weiner are now being investigated by the Justice
Dept and the FBI, who were “immediately notified”
after the DSCC ‘internal investigation.’ Somehow, I
doubt that the honorable Senator Schumer or the DSCC
will be subjects in the investigation, just as they
are not subjects in the news. Contrast the reporting
of this event with the reporting of DeLay’s indictment
or the rumor-mongering masked as reporting about Karl
Rove’s involvement in the Plame affair. Suggesting
that the press has a right slant or is conservatively
controlled is simply laughable.

Which brings me back to defending Jimmy Carter. Mr.
Otis’ references to David Rockefeller, Jimmy Carter
and the Panama Canal treaty is a thin skein of
distantly-related parts of a larger event in time.
Certainly, it is easy to fill in the blanks, draw
connections, see shadows and explicate a complicated
issue in simpler terms. Unfortunately, sometimes, the
world is just complicated. Many very large banks had
financial rods in Panama’s fire. American and Latin
American relations were at a low point. Jimmy Carter
wanted a foreign policy ‘win’ - God knows, he needed
some sort of success somewhere. However, it is not a
conspiracy that the ‘movers and shakers’ rise to the
top in their professions and often come to positions
of power in politics. I’d rather have a crackerjack
banker working Federal finance than a bang-up
bookkeeper, but I’m probably just too naive.

The US State Department’s website says:”President
James E. ("Jimmy") Carter saw returning the Panama
Canal as key to improving U.S. relations in the
hemisphere and the developing world.” I see no
historical reason to doubt that. In fact, much as I
hate to admit it, Jimmy Carter, who I think was one of
the worst Presidents ever and a moron in foreign
policy and military matters, hit the nail on the head
returning the canal to Panama, even considering the
continued US funding involved. By the 1970s, the
military justification of the canal was nonexistent
and the political potential of the deal, at the very
least, worthy of consideration. Unfortunately, within
a decade, Manuel Noriega would take over and any
political gain was lost, but that’s not Carter’s

Now, according to the Trilateral or Neocon conspiracy
theory, the Bankers were behind the treaty as an
assurance of their investments in Panama. That is
simply a fool’s argument, as Noriega proves. If there
were such a super-power secret-society, Noriega would
not have been allowed to rise to power. Moreover, had
the banks wanted stability for their investments, it
would have been far easier to simply foreclose on the
entire country and take it over. Profits to the
conglomerates would have been far greater that way.

Sadly, despite Mr. Otis’s very cogent writing and the
very fair and even-handed approach he takes to issues,
the truth about conspiracy theories (my own probably
included) is that they “offer meaning and
purposefulness in a capricious, kaleidoscopic,
maddeningly ambiguous, and cruel world. They empower
their otherwise helpless and terrified believers.
There are more than 186,600 Web sites dedicated to
conspiracy theories in Google's database of 3 billion
pages...There are 1077 titles about conspiracies
listed in Amazon and another 12078 in its
individually-operated Zshop.” (‘The Economics of
Conspiracy Theories’ Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.)

So you see, I find it hard to shed any tears over the
one-sided way in which I choose the targets of my
scribblings. However, if I have ever offended anyone,
I apologize with all my heart for any feelings I may
have hurt. I can’t look at a magazine or newspaper,
flip through television news broadcasts, or tune
through the radio dial without being bombarded with
‘views from the left.’ Those few, albeit refreshing,
right-side pundits are just that...few. By the same
token, I find it hard to credit the ‘conspiracy
theory’ that the media is leaning right or even
controlled by a right-leaning cabal. To give credence
to some neoconservative, masonic, knights templar,
illuminati, or trilateral secret society that seeks
world dominance is just so much 007 fantasy. It has
been making the rounds for hundreds of years and
probably a lot longer than that.

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005


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