Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletins

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TiM GW Bulletin 2002/2-1

Feb. 3, 2002Mar. 18, 2002

Who Says Money Cannot Buy Presidency, Favors? Enron's Peons, Unocal's Yokels

Bush League All-Stars

"Death Merchants," Oil Companies, Hijack Foreign Policy; Americans Act as Volunteer Hostages; Enron's Busted Croatian Deal; Bush Didn't Even Stay Bought!




Phoenix                              1. Bush League All-Stars

Phoenix                              1a. Bush Didn’t Even “Stay Bought! Pretzel Prez Dumps Close

                                                  Pal and Financier (Enron's Lay) Like Excess BaggageMar. 18, 2002

Budapest                            2. Enron's Croat Connection

Zagreb                                3. Enron’s Busted Croatian Deal Feb. 5, 2002

Who Says Money Cannot Buy Presidency, Favors? Enron's Peons, Unocal's Yokels

1. Bush League All-Stars

"Death Merchants," Oil Companies, Hijack Foreign Policy; Americans Act as Volunteer Hostages

PHOENIX, Feb. 3 - Who says money cannot buy a presidency?  Yes, even Presidency of the United States.  It’s just that the bigger the office, the bigger the price… But also the bigger the returns to the buyers of political favors. 

Enter Enron’s Ken Lay, Bush Sr.’s close pal, by far the brightest of the Bush League All-Stars.  With over $2.5 million in his own and corporate political contributions, Lay was by far the biggest financial supporter of  “Dubya’s” campaigns.

Which is why the President’s claim sounded so lame when he tried to deflect the blame.  He said that Lay/Enron supported the Democrats.  True…  to the tune of less than half a million dollars.  But the Bush League Republicans got more than $2 million from the failed energy company and its former chief (see the chart and Bush League All-Stars table).

Besides, Lay spread his fortune around.  This erstwhile political power broker seemed to try to buy favors left, right and center.  He and his wife, for example, neither of them Jewish, were the biggest donors to the Holocaust Museum in Houston, agreeing to fund 10% of the museum’s $3 million budget, according to "Actualité juive", a French Jewish weekly (Jan. 24 issue).  They also got our Pretzel Prez to be the guest of honor at a fund-raising dinner for the museum in March of last year.

(Also see "Enron's Croat Connection", Item 2 of this article).

From social to economic influence, Lay and Enron had their fingerprints all over the Bush administration.  In fact, “Enron’s One Good Return (Was) Political Investments,” read the headline of a Jan. 31 editorial by Wall Street Journal’s Albert Hunt. 

Which is why when George W. Bush did an abrupt turn-about-face on Jan. 23 - from supporting Lay/Enron to criticizing both - he committed the ultimate sin of a politician and of the members of the world’s oldest profession.  He didn’t stay bought! (“the only honest politician is one who stays bought,” according to an old political saw).

Cheney: Always Ready to Cut a Good Deal?

By contrast, Pretzel Prez’s Veep, Dick Cheney, isn’t even trying to distance himself from his ties to Lay/Enron.  Claiming that he is supposedly protecting the executive privilege, Cheney has refused to release the details of his various meetings with Lay which were said to influence the Bush administration’s energy policy.  In turn, the GAO office is now suing the White House in order to gain access to the transcripts of those meetings (talk about arrogance and obstinacy… one government branch having to sue another to get information!).

This much is clear… Lay/Enron first lobbied Washington to support a huge power plant in India which the World Bank called a white elephant eight years ago.  Then it tried extortion (threat of Washington sanctions) to get $2 billion from India’s government.  Writes the Journal’s Hunt:

“Vice President Cheney, on June 27, lobbied Indian opposition leader, Sonia Gandhi, on behalf of Enron, shortly after the Cheney energy task force specifically recommended promoting energy production India. What was Enron's role? Mr. Cheney won't say…

The Enron/India episode undercuts the administration's contention that it only followed its free-market principles. Treasury Secretary O'Neill approvingly noted that, "The genius of capitalism is people make good or bad decisions and they get to pay the consequences or enjoy the fruits."

Enron failed in India and, under a controversial and contested contract, wanted to be bailed out. Irrespective of whether a failure to do so would have hurt foreign investment in India, was it the role of the American government to seek such a favor for a big campaign contributor?

Hunt answers his own rhetorical question:

“Is Michael Jordan good for the NBA? Is Helen Hunt a great actress? Is Madonna trashy?”

Of course, Enron/Lay were buying favors when they made huge contributions to the Bush campaign.  India was just one of many episodes that illustrate that money can and does buy power and influence in our corrupt political system:

“Few special interests got more access or results than Enron: legislative favors, a lax oversight of its risky financial derivatives, tax breaks, unsurpassed input into the Cheney energy legislation drafting process and most of what it wanted, and reportedly even veto authority over regulatory appointees.

Enron's successes soured only when the company's fortunes turned south last October. It was, as Democrats James Carville and Paul Begala charge, "like the hooker who fell out of love with the sailor after he ran out of money".”

Or like a politician who doesn’t “stay bought.”

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And now, politicians of such low morals as Bush and Cheney are leading the nation into a flag-waving frenzy and an open-ended “war on terrorism.”  That is was predictable as it is pathetic.  “Dubya Dubya Dubya Dot Warmonger Dot Com,” was a sub-heading of a TiM Bulletin published at a time the dot-coms were still worth something (see “Weep Mankind!” -Jul 26, 2000). 

More than 18 months later, tens of thousands of lives extinguished by war can perhaps help mankind understand better why our headline for the July 2000 news story about Cheney being picked by Dubya for his Veep was “Weep Mankind!”  As chairman and CEO of Halliburton, the 22nd largest Pentagon contractor with about $600 million in Department of Defense (DOD) revenues in 2000, Cheney was in the war business.  As Dubya’s Veep, Cheney is in the war business.  Cheney, the epitome of the New World Order’s motto - “perpetual war for perpetual commerce,” (also see Chronicles column, Aug. 1998) has been working on both sides of the Washington-“Death Merchants” revolving door for 34 years.  And it shows…

Our long time readers may recall our Kosovo wartime story, "Death Merchants'" View: "War Is Great; Peace Sucks; Long Live NATO!" (May 19, 1999). 

“Wall Street investors who backed the "death merchants" have seen the Top 10 Pentagon defense contractors' stocks outperform the market (the S&P 500 index) by a 2.5-to-one ratio since March 23 (+15% vs. +6%), the day before the shooting war started in Yugoslavia. 

After lagging the S&P during the first three weeks of NATO's war on Serbia, the Top 10 Pentagon stocks surged ahead in mid-April, and stayed ahead of the market, as it became evident that this war could drag on. And as Congress started to deliberate the White House's request for additional $12 billion of funding for the Pentagon.

But even before this request, and before the shooting war started on Mar. 24, the new Day of Infamy, the U.S. defense budget for fiscal year 1999 and beyond had been already increased by the Clinton administration. The White House requested in February an additional $112 billion in Pentagon spending over the next five years, bringing the Pentagon's budget up to $319 billion by 2005.”

We’ve just updated our study of the Top 50 Pentagon contractors’ business volumes for 2000.  And guess which company has benefited the most in 1998-2000 from the increases in military spending?  Surprise, surprise… It was Cheney’s Halliburton!  It topped ALL OTHER (!) “death merchants” by growing its Pentagon-related business by 108% (see the chart and Top 50 Pentagon contractors by annual spending increase table at our web site).

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The business wasn’t too shabby for the rest of the top Pentagon contractors, either.  The top 10 military vendors’ revenues, for example, increased by 26% between 1998 and 2000, while their stock prices surged by 40% during the same period (see the chart and table at our web site). 

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On the global scene, the U.S. arms manufacturers’ 2000 sales surged by 44% since 1999, to $18.6 billion, topping all other international “death merchants,” and accounting for exactly half of all global arms sales.  Russia was a distant second with $7.7 billion of revenues, but with an even higher (60%) annual increase.

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And just think… the global “death merchants” had collected such impressive New World Order “peace dividends” long before the Bush administration took power, and well before the Sep. 11 attacks.  As the WTC towers collapsed, the “death merchant” fortunes surged.  The post-911 world promised to be a free-for-all feast for the military contractors and energy companies.  And a sunset for a civilized world.

Wasting no time for chance to gouge the flag-waving public, the Bush administration has already marshaled huge increases in our nation’s defense spending (an additional $59 billion in fiscal 2003 alone; $675 billion over the next 10 years - see the chart).  No wonder the shares of the top Pentagon contractors are thriving on Wall Street.

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The Raytheon stock, for example, the nation’s third largest defense contractor with $6.3 billion in DOD revenues in 2000, closed at $23.95 on Sep. 10 - the 52 week LOW.  Raytheon closed at $38.27 on Jan. 31 - a 52-week HIGH! 

So Wall Street knows what Washington’s “war against terrorism” is all about, even if the naïve, flag-waving Main Street Americans don’t.  The U.S. taxpayers are hostages of the “death merchants” and energy companies, and of their Washington peons at “Dubya Dubya Dubya Dot Warmonger Dot Com.”  Willy-nilly, we have been all harnessed (by our stupidity and gullibility) into supporting the Bush League jihad against jihad; into cheering and funding acts of state terrorism in the name of fighting individual terrorism.  And for the sole benefit of Enron’s, Lockheed’s, Boeing’s, Raytheon’s or Halliburton’s of the corporate world.

If the flag-waving U.S. public weren’t as stupefied (see "Dancing 'Round the Golden Calf," a Washington Times, Aug. 31, 1997), Americans would be waving the stars and stripes upside-down - a sign of distress.  For, we’ve lost thousands of innocent lives because of the hatred Washington’s policies have sowed; we’ve lost our dignity by stooping down to the terrorists’ level; we’ve lost respect of other nations around the world, even of our friends and allies; we are losing freedoms and rights enshrined in our Constitution for which our forefathers died in the American Revolution; and now… we are about to lose our shirts, too, once the new military budget is implemented. 

And just think… we’ve lost all that just so that a few “death merchants” and energy companies could make a few extra bucks.   

And what’s the American public doing about it?  In a word - cheering!  About 82% of Americans approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll taken Jan. 18-21, and published in the Jan. 24 edition of the Wall Street Journal.  As to the Enron scandal, 40% of Americans “are not particularly concerned” about the Bush administration, according to the same poll.

This writer hangs his head in shame.  As a free-thinking American.  For once, the Truth in Media editor wishes the media had lied.  For, that would be less painful than having to reconcile oneself to being surrounded by so many morons.

Patriot Diapers!?

And what are the leading American business executives doing about having their business interests hijacked and held hostage by a bunch of industrial era dinosaurs? (“death merchants” and oil companies).  In a word - nothing!  Well, maybe not quite nothing.  Having allowed their businesses to be sucked into the national flag-waving frenzy, they are sticking the stars and stripes on their office buildings, products, vehicles… lest they be ostracized as “unpatriotic.”

In other words, they are acting like shepherds who allow themselves to be led by the sheep.  Which, in turn, are following the wolves in sheep’s clothing - straight to the slaughterhouse (also see “Ostriches, Sheep and Sardines,” this writer’s Oct. 1999 Sydney, Australia, lecture).

For, using our flag for commercial purposes is a crass, disrespectful, disgraceful, despicable... desecration of everything for which the Old Glory stands.  Even the Wall Street Journal acknowledged that (see "Marketers Tread Precarious Terrain", Feb. 5).  Business leaders should be educating the public about the real patriotism and dignity, not pandering to the crowd's lowest instincts.

Besides, a war economy is not necessarily good for everyone’s business, as America’s industrial warmongers would have us believe.  Airline, health care, tourism, transportation, insurance, IT companies… are only some among several industries whose leaders should be voicing their dissent but aren’t. 

In fact, few American executives are even bothering to define their unique business interests, let alone oppose the direction in which they are being pulled by their noses by “death merchants’” and oil companies’ Washington proxies.  Given the herding mentality that’s now pervading our country, like the American people, most business leaders feel dissent would be considered “unpatriotic.”

This writer hangs his head in shame.  Again.  This time, as an independent American businessman.

Because a herding mentality and blind one-mindedness have led to creations of yesteryear’s bogeymen, like Adolf Hitler.  The moment business leaders and the German people stopped questioning and started obediently following their popular leader in the 1930s, their fate was sealed.  Are Americans today making the same mistake?

One comforting thought... “Don't be afraid of anything except of sin,” His Holiness, Serb Patriarch Pavle, counseled this writer in September 1995, right after NATO commenced its first bombing of the Bosnian Serbs (see “Orthodox Patriarch Leads by Example,” Feb. 9, 1997).  For, God “will weigh everything precisely and fairly,” he said. 

Including the sins of globalist elites, such as Ken Lay and Enron’s Peons.  And the stupidity of the “panem and circenses” (“bread and games”)-infatuated materialistic masses.  And the cowardice of business leaders who fail to lead. 

In the end, we will all get what we deserve. 


1a. Bush Didn’t Even “Stay Bought!”Mar. 18, 2002

Pretzel Prez Dumps Close Pal and Financier (Enron's Lay) Like Excess Baggage

PHOENIX, Mar. 18 - Some old information has just come to the attention of the TiM editor.  And it sheds additional light on the evidently chummy relationship between the former head of Enron and the current head of the White House.  The new details support what we’ve already concluded about our fearless leader in the “war on terrorism” - that George W. Bush seems to be as spineless as he is corrupt.

Here’s what we wrote in our Feb. 3 “Bush League All-Stars” article:

“Which is why when George W. Bush did an abrupt turn-about-face on Jan. 23 - from supporting Lay/Enron to criticizing both - he committed the ultimate sin of a politician and of the members of the world’s oldest profession.  He didn’t stay bought! (‘the only honest politician is one who stays bought,’ according to an old political saw).”

Of course, we had reached that conclusion based on other evidence we gathered as we “followed the money.”  Now, two articles from over year ago can help lead a reader to the same conclusion.

The Jan. 4, 2001 New York Times piece by David Sanger, Cheers Fed's Action And Tax Cut,” provides an excellent introduction as to who the main economic advisers (and thus, beneficiaries) of our Bush League president were.  The NY Times describes “Kenneth Lay, the chairman and chief executive of Enron (as) one of Mr. Bush's most enthusiastic supporters.”  

[for a complete list of invitees to Bush’s economic forum held in Austin, Texas, in early January 2001, i.e., even before his inauguration, click here to check out the table at our web site "Some Bush Major Leaguers"].

A Feb. 11, 2001 Los Angeles Times article by Edwin Chen and Judy Pasternak titled, Bush's Ties to Enron Chief Attract Growing Scrutiny,” goes even further, providing juicier details of the close Bush-Lay relationship, whose existence our fickle turncoat Pretzel Prez is now denying. 

“The "Dear Ken" and "Dear George" letters reveal long-standing personal and professional relationships that are intimately intertwined,” says the LA Times.  How intimate?  Beyond the cash contributions that we have already described, “during the (2000) campaign, Bush repeatedly flew on Enron jets,” the LA Times also pointed out. 

"There's always been a question of whether the policies he's pursuing are his or Ken Lay's. Actually, there is no difference,” Craig McDonald, head of the nonprofit Texans for Public Justice, a political watchdog group that TiM also referenced in our initial “Bush League All-Stars” article, told the LA Times.

Here are some other excerpts:

WASHINGTON (Feb. 10, 2001) --To hear Kenneth L. Lay tell it, you'd think he's just another guy who occasionally hands out free advice to his longtime friend, who now happens to be president…

Although many energy executives and companies have given generously to Bush's political endeavors, Enron and Lay stand out.

Now 58, Lay was a strong backer of the current president's father, former President Bush. After the elder Bush's defeat by Bill Clinton in 1992, Enron hired his secretary of State, James A. Baker III, and his Commerce secretary, Robert A. Mosbacher, as consultants.

In Austin, Lay became a patron of George W. Bush and donated more than $500,000 to his campaigns, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based watchdog organization.

Lay was also a member of the prestigious governor's business council, which advised Bush on such matters as deregulating electric utilities, easing the tax burden on businesses and enacting tort reform…

"I am a strong supporter of the president, as I was with his father. I've known him and his family for a long time," Lay said during a recent meeting with The Times' editorial board.

But he added: "Probably my influence over the president or my advice to the president is grossly exaggerated."

Just five days later, Lay was among a small group of business executives having lunch with the president at the White House. At the time, Bush was playing down the need for a federal role in California's energy problems.

More recently, Lay discussed California's energy crisis with Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill. Lay said he warned both Cabinet officers that the crisis would have "serious [national] implications" and that "the federal government needs to . . . at least have some contingency plans."

Bush soon showed far more interest in the crisis. "We have an issue in America right now called energy," he said during an appearance Tuesday to tout his tax cut plan….


TiM Ed.: It is also worthy of note how some of the business media glorified Enron at the time of the LA Times article (Feb. 2001).  The Fortune and the Business Week, for example, each published laudatory stories about Enron:


It is, as Fortune magazine put it last year, "far and away the most vigorous agent of change in its industry, fundamentally altering how billions of dollars' worth of power . . . is bought, moved and sold, everywhere in the nation."

Amid the escalating energy crisis, Enron's core business reported income of $777 million in the fourth quarter of 2000--nearly triple that of a year earlier, according to Business Week.

Less than a year later, just like our Bush League leader in the “war on terrorism,” the major league media “didn’t stay bought.”  Just as Bush dumped a close friend like excess baggage, the media are now trying to outdo each other by casting stones at their former Enron heroes. 

Just how close the Bush-Lay ties have been was also illustrated back in October 1997, when Bush intervened on Enron’s behalf by calling the Pennsylvania governor.  "I am certain that will have a positive impact on the way he and others in Pennsylvania view our proposal," Lay wrote to Bush, in a letter obtained by the LA Times.

“He was not disappointed. A short time later, Enron gained a foothold in the Pennsylvania electricity market,” the LA Times noted.

That’s the kind of close friendship whose existence our President is now denying.  With friends like that, who needs enemies, right?  Dubya’s current pals would be wise to keep that in mind.

As for the American people, with leaders like that, we would be wise to do just the opposite from what our Pretzel Prez orders.  If we know what’s good for us…

By the way, that Pennsylvania governor who awarded Enron the business was none other than Tom Ridge, our new “homeland security” czar, the king of false alarms.  Which shows how cronyism among the Bush League members is turning our Republic into a “banana republic.”  And America into a laughing stock of the rest of the world.


For the full LA Times article, click here.


2. Enron's Croat Connection

BUDAPEST, Jan. 31 - Just how wide and deep the tentacles of Enron’s corruption have reached can be also seen from a Jan. 31 story in the Financial Times (London), filed from Budapest.

“In one meeting, Mr (Franjo) Tudjman (Croatia’s late president) asked Joseph Sutton, head of Enron's international operations, how much influence his company had with the US state department and whether it could arrange WTO (World Trade Organization) entry,” the FT writes.  "Mr Sutton said he could not promise WTO membership, but guaranteed that Enron and the US would lobby for Croatia's entry into the WTO, Partnership for Peace and Nato."

Tudjman even tried to link the Enron deal with avoiding arrests by the International War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague over the his and his government’s war crimes against the Serb minority in this small Balkans country. 

Here’s an excerpt from that FT report:

The Enron collapse may have finally ended a long-running scandal over relations between the US energy company and the semi-authoritarian government of the late Croatian president, Franjo Tudjman.

Mr Tudjman, who led Croatia through independence, negotiated a controversial memorandum of understanding with Enron before his death in December 1999. It would have given Enron rights to build a power station in Croatia and run it for 20 years, selling electricity to HEP, the state electricity company, at above-market rates.

Questions about the deal intensified after Mr Tudjman's death and the election, in January 2000, of a democratic government. Tapes of conversations show that Mr Tudjman hoped giving Enron the contract would secure political favours, including a state visit to Washington.

After renegotiation, Enron is thought to have retained the right to build a power station and sell electricity to HEP at above-market rates, though lower than previously. That contract expires this summer, though details are unclear due to confidentiality agreements.

Enron's power deliveries to Croatia ended on November 30, when other European deliveries ceased. The power station has not been built.  The deal's legacy, however, may be the light it sheds on Mr Tudjman in his later years - and on Enron's readiness to and play along with his fantasies. […]

Croatia had been isolated politically - particularly by the European Union - over treatment of Serbs during the offensive that ended its war of independence.

For the full story, see “Enron’s curious Croatian client”.


3. Enron’s Busted Croatian Deal Feb. 5, 2002

By Dr. Tomislav Sunic

ZAGREB, Feb. 5 - Further to our report about Enron’s busted deal with Croatia's late president, Franjo Tudjman (see Item 2 of this TiM Bulletin), here is a piece by Dr. Tomislav (Thomas) Sunic, who contributed this comment to TiM from Zagreb, Croatia.  Dr. Sunic holds a PhD in political science. He is a former US professor and author of several books.

"The former Croatian government under the late president Franjo Tudjman was eager to cut the deal with the US energy giant Enron. The reason behind it was its eagerness to obtain favor of the Clinton's administration. Accordingly, Enron was supposed to build a huge power plant in tiny Croatia and supply the country with cheap energy. A Croat-American lady and self-proclaimed "lobbyist," Ms. Zdenka Gast, quite vocal in the Croat media during Tudjman's reign, played a role as a mediator between Enron and the Croatian government.

Later on, with the arrival to power in January 2000 of the new neo-communist liberal government in Croatia, the deal was unilaterally scrapped. The new Croatian government allegedly viewed it as detrimental to Croatian economy. But this was, apparently just a minor move in a larger effort to distance itself from Tudjman's legacy - both the good and the bad one. 

Zdenka Gast, disappeared from the public view and one has not heard from her ever since. Today, there is a great deal of media silence in Croatia about the role of Croat politicians in the Enron scandal. One can speculate with good reason that other local movers and shakers in the former and current Croat government were involved, or better, yet may have received hefty kick-backs from the giant?

At the time of the signing of the Enron deal, a prominent go-between-man was Mr. Goran Granic, who survived the government purges upon the arrival of the new leftist-liberal government in 2000. Granic even made it to the top as the Vice Prime Minister in the new government. As an old Balkan proverb goes, "one hand washes the other."

It is worth noting that Goran Granic is a brother of the former Tudjman minister of foreign affairs, Mate Granic, a largely incompetent stuttering, greasy-palmed politician, displaying an extraordinary penchant for enriching himself, his extended family and his cronies.

At the time of the signing of the Enron deal, William Montgomery was the US Ambassador to Croatia. After the unilateral scrapping by the deal in 2000 by the new Croat government, Montgomery did not hide his fumed anger. But since the subsequent surfacing of the Enron wheeling and dealing in the USA, Montgomery, now a US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, remains pretty tacit.

For its unilateral breach of contract, the Croat government has had to pay fines to Enron, although nobody in Croatia knows how big was the penalty tab.  One thing remains certain, though. Since January of this year, Croat citizens’ electricity bills have doubled."

Dr. Tomislav Sunic, Zagreb, Croatia


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