NOTE TO READER: The Next Time A Libertarian Says "Deregulate'.... SMACK'EM!
Ex LA TIMES reporter Robert Scheer never fails to satisfy. This is a devastating attack on the Gramms, two unindicted governo-corporate criminals. And it got him fired.
Scheer was fired from the Times. after l7 yrs. of fab reporting. Babs Streisand wrote THE TIMES a letter, immediately and asked to cancel her subscription, posted her complaint on her website. (below) Particular note should be made that what the Gramms did is *precisely* what Libertarians have been advocating for decades, what they look upon as *reeeeeally good* government and business practices. ‘Deregulation’ has always been a Libertarian *holy* word.
Enron Scandal Puts the GOP on Trial
By Robert Scheer, Truthdig. Posted February 2, 2006.
The trial of Enron's head honchos, Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, will reveal
how Republican politicians made the scandal possible.
Finally, after four years of legal maneuvering, the trial of Enron top dogs
Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling opens a new window on the outrageous practices
of our modern-day robber barons.
But it is depressing that the politicians who benefited from Lay's largess,
and who enabled Enron's chicanery by changing the law, are going unpunished
and even uncriticized. Indeed, the larger crime, in any proper moral
dimension of that word, was committed in the rewriting of the law on
corporate regulation to permit Enron's very existence as a humongous stock
There simply would be no Enron story were it not for the deregulation of the
energy market ushered in by Republican politicians, as Lay himself
acknowledged freely in a 2000 interview when asked to explain the "common
thread" in Enron's business model. "I think the common elements first are
that, basically, we are entering markets or in markets that are deregulating
or have recently deregulated, and so they have become competitive, moving
from monopoly franchise-type businesses to competitive, market-oriented
businesses," said Lay.
Enron's domination of those deregulated markets was made possible, to a
large degree, through the work of the powerful Washington couple Phil Gramm,
then-Republican senator from Texas, and his wife Wendy, then chair of the
Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Perhaps predictably, neither Gramm has been charged with any crimes in
connection with the Enron scandal, and both are barely mentioned in the two
leading books on the scandal, by New York Times business writers. But their
antics, well documented by the leading public-interest watchdog group,
Public Citizen, are the key to understanding the Enron debacle.
Back in 1993, when Enron was an upstart energy trader and Wendy Gramm
occupied the chair of the CFTC, she granted the company, the biggest
contributor to her husband's political campaigns, a very valuable ruling
exempting its trading in futures contracts from federal government
regulation. She resigned her position six days later, not surprising given
that she was a political appointee and Bill Clinton had just defeated her
boss, the first President Bush.
Five weeks after her resignation, she was appointed to Enron's board of
directors, where she served on the delinquent audit committee until the
collapse of the company. There was perfect quid pro quo symmetry to Wendy
Gramm's lucrative career: Bush appoints her to a government position where
she secures Enron's profit margin; Lay, a close friend and political
contributor to Bush, then takes care of her nicely once she leaves her
government post. Although she holds a PhD in economics and often is cited as
an expert on the deregulation policies she so ardently champions, Gramm
insists that while serving on the audit committee she was ignorant of the
corporation's accounting machinations.
Despite her myopia, or because of it, she was rewarded with more than $1
million in compensation.
A similar claim of ignorance of Enron's shenanigans is the defense of her
husband, who received $260,000 in campaign contributions from Enron before
he pushed through legislation exempting companies like Enron from energy
"This act," Public Citizen noted, "allowed Enron to operate an unregulated
power auction -- EnronOnline -- that quickly gained control over a
significant share of California's electricity and natural gas market."
The gaming of the California market, documented in grotesque detail in the
e-mails of Enron traders, led to stalled elevators, hospitals without power
and an enormous debt inflicted on the state's taxpayers. It was only after
the uproar over California's rolling blackouts, which Enron helped engineer,
that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finally re-imposed regulatory
control -- and thereby began the ultimate unraveling of Enron's massive
pyramid of fraud.
Because the second President Bush effectively stalled a more timely response
by the FERC, Enron's demise came too late to prevent California from losing
its shirt in its desperate attempt to keep the lights on. The state was
forced to hurriedly sign price-gouging long-term energy contracts in order
to prevent more damage.
And Bush, even at that late date, still attempted to save Enron by reversing
the policy of the Clinton administration aimed at closing off foreign tax
shelters of the type favored by the company's duplicitous executives. Bush,
who received $1.14 million in campaign contributions from Enron, according
to Public Citizen, couldn't understand why the company should not be allowed
to have 874 subsidiaries located in offshore tax and bank havens.
As the trial reveals just how fraudulent those offshore Enron operations
apparently were, keep in mind that this President Bush was most loath to
clear out those refuges of corporate pirates.
Robert Scheer is the co-author of The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq.
See more of Robert Scheer at TruthDig. Google his writings. Get book at ABEBOOKS
using SECRET CHEAP METHOD
BABS' LETTER: This letter is to inform you that I am canceling my subscription to the LA Times, and here is the reason why: The greater Southern California community is one that not only proudly embraces its diversity but
demands it. Your publisher's decision to fire Robert Scheer is a great disservice to the spirit of our
I'm almost embarrassed for you in seeing the LA Times being referred to as the "Chicago LA Times" on
the myriad of internet sites I've visited in the last few days. It seems, however, an aptly designated
epithet, representing the feeling among many of your readers that your new leadership, especially that of
Jeff Johnson, is entirely out of touch with them and their desire to be exposed to views that stretch them
beyond their own paradigms. So although the number of contributors to your op-ed pages may have
increased, in firing Robert Sheer and putting Jonah Goldberg in his place, the gamut of voices has
undeniably been diluted, and I suspect this may ultimately decrease the number of readers of those same
In light of the obvious step away from the principals of journalistic integrity, which would dictate that
journalists be journalists, editors be editors and accountants be accountants, I am now forced to carefully
reconsider which sources can be trusted to provide me with accurate, unbiased news and forthright
opinions. Your new columnist, Jonah Goldberg, will not be one of those sources.
Robert Scheer's column, with its often singular voice of dissent and groundbreaking expositional content,
has been among the most notable features that have sustained my interest in subscribing to the LA Times
for many years now. Apparently, previous leadership at the LA Times had no trouble recognizing Mr.
Scheer's journalistic prowess in that they nominated him for the Pulitzer Prize.
My greatest fear is that the underlying reason for Mr. Scheer's termination is part of a larger trend
toward the corporatization of our media, a trend that we, as American citizens, must fervently battle for
the sake of our swiftly diminishing free press.