Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

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Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oil brokers sex scandal may affect drilling debate

After reading articles on the sex for oil scandal like this one below which are saturating the Internet, television, radio and newspapers in this country and across the world, we would do well to remember that Jack Abramoff, one of this country's leading lobbyists, has just been sent off to prison--- although he expects to be pardoned by Bush before he leaves office.

Abramoff, if you will recall, was bribing elected public officials and bureaucrats left and right with funds "skimmed" from casinos in the Indian Gaming Industry.

The Fertitta family's "Station Casinos" were run out of Missouri after attempting to bribe high-level elected public officials and bureaucrats, but not before being assessed huge fines--- once again, Frank Fertitta was allowed to escape a good, well-deserved, stiff prison sentence.

What is noteworthy, and our mainstream media seems to have forgotten, is that Gale Norton, a partner in Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck who was appointed by Bush to head up the Department of Interior (surprise, surprise... the same Department of Interior now embroiled in this sex for oil scandal) is responsible for approving the "Compacts" creating the Indian Gaming Industry--- and it was controversial bribes and payoffs made by Abramoff who shuffled between casinos filling brown paper shopping bags with cash from the casino managements to pay-off the politicians and high-level bureaucrats.

One has to wonder how far these corrupt, dirty deals extend into the political life of this country, especially seeing how so many elected and public officials from both political parties so easily turn their backs in indifference to the plight of this Nation's more than two-million casino workers employed at the more than 400 smoke-filled casinos strung out across this country comprising the Indian Gaming Industry where prostitution and drugs are an integral part of these casino operations.

For instance, why would Democrats, claiming to have the backing of organized labor in Minnesota and Michigan, continue approving new "Compacts" allowing more casinos to come into existence while they are fully aware of the atrocious conditions workers are placed in at the hands of these vicious, violent and sadistic mobsters operating and managing these casinos who First Nation Communities are "fronting" for?

Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan recently approving the Gun Lake Casino venture is a case in point.

With all the talk of "human rights" and "worker's rights" being mouthed by the so-called "leaders" organized labor along with the politicians like Governor Granholm who they back, one would think there would be greater sensitivity with less inclination by politicians to approve these casino ventures until worker's rights are protected through inclusion in these negotiated "Compacts."

What is really unusual is the lack of reported campaign contributions going to the state politicians supporting these casino ventures when campaign finances of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich show huge contributions being made by the likes of the Fertitta's and other clients of Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck which would lead anyone to suspect that drugs and sex might be replacing campaign contributions when it comes to the Indian Gaming Industry... yet, there are no investigations of this industry on a level of what is taking place relating to the oil industry as far as the United States Department of Interior is concerned; again, any thinking person would have to believe the corruption in the Indian Gaming Industry goes well beyond Jack Abramoff and pay-offs and bribery of elected public officials and bureaucrats in Missouri... and most likely far beyond the sex for oil scandal now unfolding in the oil industry.

One has to wonder if there isn't similar corruption involved in the peat mining for casino deal in Northern Minnesota's Big Bog. We know that politicians were wined and dined by Red Lake Nation politicians and their gaming board, and partying even took place in the Minnesota Attorney General's own office with Mike Hatch present!

Capitalism has spun the most pernicious web of graft, greed and corruption in business and politics to the point where every facet of life in America has now been tainted--- ironically--- by politicians claiming to own the "family values" issues.

The Democratic Party at its National Convention shunned former President Jimmy Carter while John Edwards was in hiding and Bill Clinton was brought out as a champion and star of the Democratic Party--- a man, who used and abused the highest political office in the land to gain sexual favors from a White House intern... but, apparently it is better to have a pathetic scum-ball like Bill Clinton speaking for Democrats than a former President who feels the Palestinian people are darn near close to being considered as human beings. And what do we hear from the delegates and State Chairs of the Democratic Party as Bill Clinton is elevated to sainthood as Jimmy Carter is relegated to the position of an "unwelcome person" and persona non-grata as Dennis Kucinich agrees to having his speech censored by these same corrupt bigots now in complete and total control of the Democratic Party which some party hacks, including those like Sirota, Borosage, Davidson, Webb, Wendland and Hayden proclaim to be the "democratization" of the Democratic Party?

Senator Debbie Stabenow can defend her husband who hires a barely legal age prostitute to give him blow-jobs at a sleazy motel, but, Stabenow can't stand up for the rights of casino workers employed at poverty wages in smoke-filled casinos without any rights as she remains just as silent while Jimmy Carter is shunned by the top-dogs in the Democratic Party for saying that the Palestinian people are human beings.

The entire political process has become corrupt beyond the comprehension of most people and working people are the big losers... this entire process is what really stinks like dead fish kept in old newspapers for eight years... and Sarah Palin, lipstick and all... is part of the entire stinking mess... right along with George Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, Gale Norton and Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck and Jack Abramoff who awaits his Presidential Pardon.

In fact, in light of all of this corruption, what could be any worse? Having a warmonger and war-criminal sitting in the White House being portrayed to the world as a hero because he was shot out of the sky while dropping napalm and cluster bombs on innocent Vietnamese people tending to their rice paddies.

Anyways, read the article below... it will give your family something to think about while eating dinner around the kitchen table... if your stomach can handle the discussion.

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Oil brokers sex scandal may affect drilling debate

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer

Thursday September 11, 2008

Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080911/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/interior_oil_scandal

WASHINGTON - A scandal involving sex, drugs and — uh, offshore oil drilling. It's a strange mix, and it couldn't have come at a worse time for those in Congress pressing to expand oil and gas development off America's beaches while trying to stave off an election-year rush by Democrats to impose new taxes and royalties on the oil industry.

An Interior Department investigation describing a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" by workers at the agency that issues offshore drilling leases and collects royalties hit lawmakers Wednesday just as they prepared for votes next week on expanding offshore drilling.

"On the eve of Congress starting this big debate you've got a horror story of mismanagement and misconduct in programs that are going to be a key part of the discussion," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in an interview, adding that it can't help but influence the debate.

The two-year, $5.3 million investigation by Interior's inspector general found workers at the Minerals Management Service's royalty collection office in Denver partying, having sex, using drugs and accepting gifts and ski trips and golf outings from energy company representatives with whom they did government business.

The investigations exposed "a culture of ethical failure" and an agency rife with conflicts of interest, Inspector General Earl E. Devaney said.

Between 2002 and 2006, 19 oil marketers — nearly a third of the Denver office staff — received gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies, including Chevron Corp., Shell, Hess Corp. and Denver-based Gary-Williams Energy Corp., the investigators found.

"Employees frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and natural gas company representatives" who referred to some of the government workers as the "MMS Chicks."

The director of the royalty program had a consulting job on the side for a company that paid him $30,000 for marketing its services to various oil and gas companies, the report said.

MMS Director Randall Luthi said in an interview the agency was taking the report "extremely seriously" and would weigh taking appropriate action in coming months.

But the impact in Congress, where lawmakers are debating an expansion of the offshore oil and gas leasing program by allowing drilling in areas long off limits, was immediate.

"This is why we must not allow Big Oil's agenda to be jammed through Congress," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who strongly opposes any expansion of offshore drilling, especially closer to Florida. He said the report "shows the oil industry holds shocking sway over the administration and even key federal employees."

"This IG report has it all — sex, drugs and the Bush administration officials once again in cahoots with Big Oil," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., whose Joint Economic Committee released a report last year claiming the Minerals Management Service has failed to collect millions of dollars in oil royalties.

Republicans and Democrats promised further scrutiny of the Interior Department agency which last year handled $4.3 billion in royalty-in-kind payments from energy companies drilling on federal lands. Under the program oil companies give the government oil in lieu of cash and the MMS office in turn sells the oil on the open market.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the IG report "raises very serious questions" about the royalty collection process, something especially troublesome "given the potential for expanded domestic drilling." He said some basic reforms in the royalty-in-kind program should be included in drilling legislation.

Wyden said the program should be suspended to "clean house" at the federal agency and "bring back the process of rigorous audits and accountability."

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, planned a hearing on the investigation next week. Two of the committee's key Republicans — Reps. Tom Davis of Virginia and Darrell Issa of California — criticized Waxman for not pursuing an investigation into the royalty program earlier.

But Republicans rejected suggestions that the scandal makes the need for more offshore oil and gas any less urgent.

House Democrats on Wednesday offered a broader drilling proposal than they had floated previously. It would lift all moratoria on drilling 100 miles from shore and allow energy development beyond 50 miles from the coast if a state agrees. Waters closer than 50 miles would continue to be protected.

The drilling measure is part of a broader energy package that also would roll back tax breaks for the largest oil companies and require them to pay additional royalties, with the money to be used to spur renewable energy programs and conservation.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called it "a strong bill that will increase responsible drilling and invest in renewable energy" and said those criticizing it would "rather have a political issue."

But House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused the Democrats of "trying to pull a hoax on the American people." He said the plan would result "in little or no new American energy production" because states would share no royalties and have little financial incentives to allow drilling.

The Senate, meanwhile, is expected next week to take up several drilling proposals, including one that would open waters off the Atlantic from Virginia to Georgia and the eastern Gulf off Florida to drilling but keep the bans in place elsewhere. That plan also would allow for a 50-mile coastal buffer.


Associated Press writer Dina Cappiello contributed to this report.