Page 5


Mr. Franken seems to want to have it both ways, criticizing Limbaugh for “demonizing” those who disagree with him, but all the while attacking his enemies with invective and scurrilous assertions that remain totally unproven. For example, nowhere in the 288-page screed does Franken actually show any real evidence that Limbaugh is indeed fat. There is not one footnoted reference concerning Limbaugh’s body weight, and Mr. Franken seems to be relying on sheer guesswork. “The Ambassador” may not have written it, but the passage accurately reflects the right’s notions of “sound science.” But for those readers who just don’t get it, Franken is decent enough to explain his techniques. Not only does he include a chapter called “Fair Mean vs. Unfair Mean,” he also writes, “I hope it’s clear…that this book is a satire about the breakdown in the civility of public discourse. I’m making fun of meanness in public debate by being mean myself. It’s called ‘irony.’ Perhaps you’ve heard of it?” There’s also a hint of Franken’s own TV character, Stuart Smalley, in Franken’s explanation of the book’s title: “As Rush Limbaugh likes to say, ‘words mean things.’ Which is why I probably should have called this book RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT LIAR. But that just seemed so confrontational.” Despite his satiric exaggeration, Franken’s barbs often are both funny and deadly accurate: You know what I dislike most about these guys? They’re always so certain. They’re always 100 percent sure of what they’re saying. Even if it’s wrong. It must be a great feeling for a guy like Rush Limbaugh. To be able to sit there and say, “There are more Indians alive today than when Columbus landed,” and really believe it. That catches nicely the “conservative” approach to history. It’s irritating to listen to someone like Rush saying it’s the “height of human vanity” to believe that man can harm the planet; it’s gratifying to have Franken point out that it’s in fact the height of human vanity to believe you’re right all the time. Franken’s book has been cresting the Times bestseller list for several weeks, and its immediate and broad popularity suggests that perhaps the left has spent too much time and energy fretting over the danger of Rush Limbaugh and his talk-show ilk. After all, every action causes an equal and opposite reaction, so Rush must have a heap of bad karma coming his way. For those who can’t wait to see him get it, this is a book to savor. For those who think Rush Limbaugh is the greatest political genius of our timeread it and weep. “Pumping Gas,” from page 24 percent of their U.S. taxable income in federal income taxes. The top four oil companiesExxon, Mobil, Chevron and Texacoearned 13.3 billion dollars in taxable income for 1994, and paid only 603 million dollars in federal income taxesjust 4.5 percent. Overall, the top twenty-four largest oil and energy companies increased their income by nearly twenty-four percent that year, Citizen Action reported, but paid eighteen percent less in federal income taxes. They achieved these remarkable savings largely through foreign tax credits and other forms of corporate welfare. By comparison to the corporate eight percent, the average American family pays twenty-five percent of its income in federal income taxes. FILL1NG THE TROUGH. Whence all that corporate welfare? From Congress, of course, responding in kind to the corporate dollars that pour down like manna from… someplace. Citizen Action also reports that our Congresspersons, especially the Republican variety, have enjoyed an extraordinarily lucrative year. Based on an analysis of Federal Election Commission figures from January 1995 through March 1996, the Republican representatives and their primary congressional campaign committee have raised 119 million dollars fifty-five million dollars more than the Democrats. The Republican freshmendetermined to end “business-as-usual” in the capitolhave certainly done well by whatever business they’ve practiced instead. They set a new record for campaign fundraising, collecting an average of 380,887 dollars, or sixty-two percent more than Democratic freshmen raised during the previous comparable period. The champion fundraisers remain the veterans. Newt Gingrich tops the list at 2.58 million dollars for the five-quarter period; Democrat Charles Schumer, of New York, is a distant second at 1.49 million. Texans breaking the Top Twenty include Number Eight, Martin Frost \(nine hundred thouFL1P THOSE BURGERS. Wonks wanking the “new information economy,” including those in the Clinton administration, keep insisting that despite the continuing epidemic of corporate layoffs, more jobs are being created and in the long run the laid-off and the unlaid alike will be the better for it. In the April 3 issue of Left Business Observer, editor Doug Henwood takes a closer look at Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s recent assertions that “the most rapidly-growing job categories are knowledge-intensive,” and that the primary labor problem is re-training unemployed workers for jobs requiring high-tech skills. Henwood points out that the projections of Reich’s own agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the next ten years, show that in fact such “knowledge-intensive” work accounts for only seven percent of employment now, and only thirteen percent of projected growth. Of the “thirty occupations with the greatest projected growth, 1994-2005,” most look suspiciously familiar and most are hardly highpowered or high-paying. Heading the list are cashiers, janitors and cleaners, retail salespersons, waiters and waitresses, and registered nurses. The next two categories are “general managers and top executives” and “systems analysts”then followed by “home health aides,” “guards” and “nursing aides, orderlies and attendants.” AMERICAN EXPORTS? As if the assassination of a presidential candidate, the ex-president’ s becoming a comic international fugitive, the complete collapse of the economy, and a corporate drug culture so pervasive that the national political system is described as a narco-democracia weren’t bad enough, Mexico’s evangelical churches have decided to form a political movementemulating, no doubt, their Christian brethren in the U.S. Never mind that the Mexican Constitution forbids the participation of religious groups in politics. In March, according to Latinamerica Press, the National Council of Lay Evangelicals decided to form the National Reform Front, an organization with an “evangelical, biblical, Christ-centered basis.” The front didates committed to the organization’s 1 o ar \\\\ itiLl “: 1″1. Pri\\ .11k= Pwlics’ 71 Oak I II , ‘iiitptc riiropcoii Charm 0 \(.. A/mos/there i ‘ % Pets Welcome f e t1423 11th ST -trec -t, ’61’ Port Aransas, TX 78373 w $ S call hn Rcscruitions ,..” o re, s ultom i ,% A p p% .446;16 14,40 ’11,’ 11……. so, ‘..`Aw. Sea 00 Horse Inn A _ ry /,i,/,, G1,0 .111\(simit; 11\(111,1 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21