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Creative Accounting, Just a Question, Misdirection
March 18, 2002
By Larry Martin

Creative Accounting

By spinning the war on terror into his personal security blanket, and with the Enron investigations grinding away at the pace of your average continental drift, the Chief Weasel of the Republic managed to keep the world's largest political scandal out of the headlines this week. Many liberals are worried this means the varmint might escape the noose, but I think this media slow-down is actually a good thing.

I am afraid if Enron gets too hot too fast we might be forced to watch W. don his bomber jacket, sling an M-4 over his shoulder, and personally lead a mock charge into the caves of Tora Bora for the cameras. Talk about things you just don't want to see in your lifetime; although it can be argued that a Bush photo-op in Kandahar might be the only way to actually get the press inside of Afghanistan.

If I had known the guy was going to start WWIII rather than get busted for Enron, I'd have voted to let the matter go. Not that our votes here in Florida count.

If you get depressed watching Pentagon press briefings on CNN repeating, "We cannot comment on that at this time." - and if hours of endless no-news updates are getting you down - then pop a few more Prozac (the Breakfast of Champions) and peek over at the business section in your local paper, because the Masters of Spin are at it again - weaving their webs for future conservative consumption.

According to the online edition of the LA Times (www.latimes.com) accountants are apparently having a really hard time getting the "books" straight these days due to the "tremendous increase in regulations over the last few years". (February 24, 2002; Accountants Can't Keep Up With Financial Complexity).

Q: Why is this important to us on the left?

A: Because, this is soon to become the new Republican battle cry.

"It was the complexity of the laws that made criminals of honest men."

Damn us liberals for making rules.

The accounting industry is fighting back to polish it's tarnished reputation because, as you may have read someplace, a large "independent" accounting firm failed to notice that Enron was not actually making a billion dollars a week - but rather losing a billion dollars a week.

It's just a sign change. Plus to minus. Haven't you ever accidentally done that in a math class? Give these guys a break!

However, a whistleblower (read: hysterical liberal) started screaming about the books being cooked and the next thing you know Enron is melting down faster than an ice cream cone at the annual Chernobyl Summer Picnic.

Important safety tip boys and girls: oil and honesty don't mix.

As soon as the news broke, Enron stock values disappeared faster than minority names from the State of Florida's qualified voter list; Enron exec's started cashing in their stocks and investing heavily in Cayman Island real estate; employees of Enron were introduced to what I call the " John Holmes" treatment, and congress started their own version of Survivor - Washington with the winners getting voted immunity and the losers getting 3 to 5 for SEC violations. (The smart money is on whoever hires Ollie North's old legal team.)

At the center of this storm we now find poor misunderstood accountants. Well I, for one, am on their side. The fact is that many accountants do have a hard time answering tough accounting questions such as,

"How do I deduct the bribing of Bush officials if I paid them off by hiring relatives or giving them insider stock information?"

"Do I get some sort of discount if I pay you to keep more than one set of books?"

"If a subpoena (X) leaves at 9 am from Washington DC via fax and a plane (Y) leaves New York for the Cayman Islands at 1 pm and flies 600 mph, will my plane cross into international waters quickly enough to avoid being served?"

"Can accountants be legally compelled to testify?"

The only thing Enron did was shed light on what most insiders already knew - Auditor is to securities fraud as Catholic Church is to pedophile.

In an effort to fool investors and the IRS, greed-driven companies create incredibly complex formulas to break the rules; much like drug dealers changing a chemical component so that they are not legally selling "cocaine". Of course, at some point in time, it's just easier to pay the government to look the other way. Which in America we euphemistically call, "soft money campaign contributions".

Most other countries refer to this practice as "corruption". The sad part about campaign finances is not just that our lawmakers can be bought - it's that they can be bought so cheaply. Of course Judas sold out for only 30 pieces of silver. The lesson here is that honor is cheap if you know where to look. Who you gonna call?

REG-BUSTERS. That's right, the best bribe for the buck. Conservatives - the RIGHT party for the RIGHT price. For an amazingly low down payment, the right-wing moral elite will make the public believe that those stupid "regulations" are just there to hurt businesses, mere technicalities that exist as a part of our vast liberal conspiracy.

However, we on the left think that there are some really good rules on the books. You know, rules like - for example - you can't claim that your company is worth, say, 90 billion dollars, when all you really own is a cocktail napkin with Dick Cheney's phone number on it.

I mean, sure, that's probably worth several hundred million depending on where you are in the election cycle, but to say it's worth 90 billion is just plain wrong.

Call me a radical, but I think that's a pretty decent rule.

So, when the Elephants of Deregulation come crying at your door telling you that all the little rules are making life difficult on poor overworked accountants, here's the spin stopper:

We on the Left want to help poor beleaguered accountants. Let's simplify matters:

1. Money you make goes into the bank. That's called a deposit.

2. Money you spend comes out of the bank. That's called a withdrawal.

3. At the end of the month, you add up all the deposits and subtract all the withdrawals. If you have a positive number - that is a profit. If you have a negative number - that is a loss.

4. Accounts must report what those numbers are without changing them.

Anything else is called "creative accounting" and is a no-no.

Call me a radical, but I think that might be another pretty decent rule.

Just A Question

I read in December that the war was over in Afghanistan and we had won. So why is it that in March I see headlines that say, "Deadliest fighting yet"? - Just a question.

Misdirection

Bush and Company have mastered the fine art of misdirection so well that lately they are starting to make David Copperfield look like a guy who does "pick-a-card-any-card" routines. Their latest feat of prestidigitation, about to unfold in front of your eyes, is a masterpiece of the black arts. I hate to reveal the ending before the show starts, but then, that's why I get the big bucks.

You know the newest highly publicized Grand Illusion? In it, the G.A.O. sues Dick Cheney (the man who ran on a platform of a more open and honest government) because Dick is apparently hiding his own backroom deals with energy billionaires like Enron. Well, it's all smoke and mirrors folks. Let me tell you how it ends.

Cheney will LOSE to the G.A.O. and be forced to turn over his notes.

You heard it here first.

Yes, I know Bush got a former Clinton hater and prosecutor to be the judge in the case. Yes, I know Cheney met with Kenny-Boy and other energy moguls and they are arguably the worst of the soft money whores. but Cheney will lose the "good fight" and be forced to turn over the notes in the end.

Why? Several reasons:

1. Most people think that a G.A.O. victory will give Democrats a stumping point - but that is the beauty of this misdirection. Turning over the notes will only show that the Starr Inquisition was truly "right" when they subpoenaed all the "Hillary-gate" and other Clinton files.

2. It will also "prove" to the masses that the justice system is "fair and equal" and not "pro-Republican".

3. It will show that Dick is not above the law. Mostly, though it will misdirect our attention to a complete non-issue because.

4. THERE IS NOTHING AT ALL IN THOSE FILES THAT WILL HURT DICK, THE WARTS, OR ANYONE ELSE IN COMPOUND W.

Come on folks, Dick has held those notes for a year now - one set of notes - by the time we get to look at them they'll read like a four-line quatrain from a Nostradamus prediction.

Energy leaders breaking bread Environmental concerns shared and echoed Honest men with hard choices I sipped a diet coke purchased with my own money and listened quietly

You got a better chance of finding Nixon's 18 minutes of missing dialog hidden in the elastic lining of Jimmy Hoffa's last pair of boxer shorts than you have of these notes revealing any dirt on the Dickster. Dick is holding on to nothing. He is a master magician directing all the attention he possibly can to that empty hand.

When it is pried open before a breathless audience - McCavity will not be there.

I think whoever pushes this into public view is going to end up looking like Geraldo opening Al Capone's secret vault on live TV. The nothingness will be unbearable. The more the left screams that there is something in his clinched fist. the more we will look like fools and the more Cheney will look like a man of principle who stood up for his convictions but obeyed the law after it was "clarified".

My reasoning?

"Note-gate" all started before Enron or 9/11. It was just a power play to see how far the G.A.O. would bend and how much the Bush boys could get away with. If they lost or were forced to show their hand, it would reveal nothing and would be a small ripple in the waters. Now everybody and their dog is trying to connect the dots from Enron to the big prize and what was only a dime store novelty gag has taken on the size and dimensions of a Lance Burton special.

So what can we do?

Democrats should refute Cheney's claims of privacy issues by saying,

"These are public officials - meeting with the heads of publicly held companies to discuss public policy. Republicans wanted to know all about Clinton's sex life; all we Democrats want to know is what you are doing with our money."

We need to start distancing ourselves from this being an Enron bombshell, and start defining what our victory conditions are. Look, we can always claim to be shocked - SHOCKED - if the notes reveal anything of substance, but I just don't see that happening.

Keep your eyes open and don't look directly at the magicians lest you become blinded by the glitter and flash paper.

Like a political tag-team version of Seigfried and Roy - Bush and Cheney are working in tandem. The notes are a non-issue. While we are watching Dick's hands, the Enron dancers are doing their number, Battle Hymn of the Republic is blaring on the speakers, and W. is making bombs appear over small third world countries - unnoticed in the shadows - personal freedom is vanishing on the other side of the stage.

It may be sickening to think about - but even Houdini would have been impressed.


Larry Martin is the founder of "Conservative Republicans Are Perfect" (C.R.A.P) a religious, right wing think tank. Mr. Martin's hobbies include racial profiling, trips to the Cayman Islands to visit friends and making large donations to conservative causes. He can be reached at: liberal@tampabay.rr.com

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