A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Vote Viacom in 2004!

You want to know what's really wrong with this country and the people who are currently running it? Here's the story in a nutshell. Summer Redstone, CEO of Viacom, parent company to CBS, has endorsed George W. Bush.

In the past, Mr. Redstone was co-chairman of Edmund Muskie's presidential campaign. He's also a close friend of the other Massachusetts senator, Ted Kennedy. He had given $50,000 to the Democratic Party and also donated the maximum $2,000 to the Kerry campaign, after supporting Al Gore in 2000.

The most telling thing about the whole story is this little quote from Mr. Redstone:

"I look at the election from what's good for Viacom. I vote for what's good for Viacom. I vote, today, Viacom."

Not for the good of the American people, but for the good of Viacom. Or the good of Halliburton. Or the good of Enron. Or, and, or, and, or....

The second most telling thing was what was on Mr. Redstone's mind when he made his decision: not terrorism, not "spreading democracy", not homeland security, not "the economy" as you or I experience it, not abortion, not gay marriage, not "Christian values", not anything, really, that ordinary voters care about.

"I don't want to denigrate Kerry," he went on, "but from a Viacom standpoint, the election of a Republican administration is a better deal. Because the Republican administration has stood for many things we believe in, deregulation and so on."

The third most telling thing is where Mr. Redstone announced it: in Hong Kong, which, as we all know, is a part of the People's Republic of China.

I presume he's over there for the good of Viacom, too. After all, the Chinese growth rates are irresistable....

Thanks for the tip to The Queen of All Evil and for Linkfest space in Outside The Beltway.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: Joseph Marshall
RE: It's Come to This?

You're telling people how they should vote, because YOU think it's best?

Well...it's still a 'free country'. Despite efforts at lies and terrorism on the part of the Left.

"Not for the good of the American people, but for the good of Viacom. Or the good of Halliburton. Or the good of Enron. Or, and, or, and, or...." -- Joseph Marshall

How about, Da Vinci Seclorum, Inc? Or maybe the leather makers down the street? Or the business where your neighbor works? And millions of other businesses where a hundred million other Americans work?

Some wag once said, "America's business IS Business."

Which, by the way, contrary to your statement, "...not "the economy" as you or I experience it..." is an essential part of the 'economy'. No business. No economy.

If you want to be a socialist, please come out of the closet.



12:04 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

Calm down Chuckles! Mr. Redstone can vote however he chooses, for whatever reasons please him. But that doesn't mean that his reasons for doing so are immune from intelligent criticism.

The notion that our country's interests are always and everywhere identical with the private interest of anybody's private business is simply silly. All you have to do is follow the progress of efforts to, say, secure our chemical plants against terrorist attacks, and the successful interference with these efforts by chemistry industry lobbyists, to see this. Just one of many examples that a little research can dig up.

What on earth, for example, is in the interest of the United States in giving Haliburton a cost +2% of cost contract in Iraq? Under such terms, the more costly the job, for whatever reasons, including company negligence, the more money Halliburton makes! Certainly this is in Halliburton's interest, but I'm damned sure it's not in mine, nor in yours, as a taxpayer! Don't you agree?

Moreover, back when I was a Federal Civil Servant in DoD buying supplies for the Vietnam War, such contracts were EXPLICITLY prohibited for being the goldplating boondoggle that they are. It was well known then that Henry J. Kaiser first milked the public treasury with this in the 1940's, while building the insanely costly Liberty Ships!

So why, suddenly, in this Administration, do we see a recrudeescence of this boondoggle for the company that the Vice President has so long and intimate a history with? Give you three guesses. And the answer is not very likely to be in my interests!

When applied to large, multinational, corporations the notion that their interest is identical with the United States' interests is more than silly, it is totally ludicrous. Quite frequently the interests of these nebulous entities are directly opposed to the interests of the United States of America.

The fact that I think so does not mean that I am a "socialist", particularly. It merely means that I support the notion of an overriding "public interest" which sometimes trumps those private interests. And that I think that the limits of the public interest have to be decided on a case by case basis, and not by any unthinking "the business of America is business" rhetoric.

For were such rhetoric literally applied, we wouldn't be shaking down the luggage and the person of any "legitimate businessperson" flying in this country. And we wouldn't be wasting airline company money delaying flights and turning planes around because suspicious characters had boarded them. And we all know what that leads to, now don't we?

The fact that Mr. Redstone "votes Viacom" may be one of the benefits we all have living in a free country, but, as an informed and patriotic citizen of that same free country, I see no reason why his doing so shouldn't offend my taste.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: Joseph Marshall
RE: Cost-Plus

"What on earth, for example, is in the interest of the United States in giving Haliburton a cost +2% of cost contract in Iraq?" -- Joseph Marshall

You say you delivered supplies to Nam? How far up the food-chain were you? At the point of coordinating contracts with suppliers?

Cost-Plus is a legit form of contract. Usually used when it is (1) uncertain what the costs are going to be, because it's not a standard form of activity [Note: Rebuilding a country's infra-structure is not the norm for BAU, last time I looked.] and (2) it has to be done expeditiously, so there is no time to do the research and get detailed estimates; otherwise, people suffer.

What would you have done, differently? Would it have been as effective in getting services back up as expeditiously as possible?



5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. As for possible fraudulant billing practices on the part of Haliburton and its sub-contractors....

...that's where the GAO comes into play. Neh?

6:03 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

I was procurement agent buying for stock in the local DSA supply facility here. It was called DCSC back then and was primarily a procurement and storage facility for construction equipment and field fortifications, though we had some other specialties. At one point I was buying every V-belt used by the entire United States Military.

I'm not going to second guess the Haliburton mess too closely, but the point remains the same: the private interests of an individual or a corporation are not always congruent with the public interest.

As a liberal I undoubtedly favor a far broader definition of "public interest" than you do, but that still does not make me an enemy of all forms of private enterprise.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: Joseph Marshall
RE: The Voice of Experience, You Are

"At one point I was buying every V-belt used by the entire United States Military." -- Joseph Marshall

Then you are familiar with the array of contracting options available to the government. And you recognize Cost-Plus as a legit form.

"I'm not going to second guess the Haliburton mess too closely..." -- Joseph Marshall

Furthermore, I suspect you understand the necessity of that form in this particular circumstance.

RE: The "But" Point

"...but the point remains the same: the private interests of an individual or a corporation are not always congruent with the public interest." -- Joseph Marshall

BUT, and it's a big 'but', you have yet to prove that there were other companies that (1) had the capability and expertise to carry off the task and (2) they under-bid Halliburton for the job but were not selected and (3) Cheney had undue influence in the selection process.

If you can prove items 1 and 2 or, better, all three, you've got yourself a pulitzer prize. Otherwise....



11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. My experiences with contracts was from the perspective of the guy who cut the checks; P2 (Mission Fund) Program Budget Officer for Fort Carson in the early 80s. It was a $49M account supporting all units on the installation, which included the largest heavy division in FORSCOM. This was augmented by taking the Logistics Executive Development Course (LEDC) as a resident in '92. Had a lot of DESERT STORM vets in that class. Very interesting stuff....

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.P.S. It was at LEDC where I got a good look at the system the military uses for letting contracts. Lots of innovative things done to support the operations in DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, including Cost-Plus; when it absolutely, positively HAS to be THERE overnight, otherwise, 'very bad things' happen.

12:35 PM  

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