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Power Outage Traced To Dim Bulb In White House
(Greg Palast, August 15, 2003)
I can tell you all about the ne're-do-wells that put out our lights tonight. I came up against these characters -- the Niagara Mohawk Power Company -- some years back. . . . Here's what happened. After LILCO was hammered by the law, after government regulators slammed Niagara Mohawk and dozens of other book-cooking, document-doctoring utility companies all over America with fines and penalties totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, the industry leaders got together to swear never to break the regulations again. Their plan was not to follow the rules, but to ELIMINATE the rules. They called it "deregulation." . . . It was like a committee of bank robbers figuring out how to make safecracking legal. . . . in 1990, one devious little bunch of operators out of Texas, Houston Natural Gas, operating under the alias "Enron," talked an over-the-edge free-market fanatic, Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, into licensing the first completely deregulated power plant in the hemisphere. . . . And so began an economic disease called "regulatory reform" that spread faster than SARS. . . . The power elite first moved on England because they knew Americans wouldn't swallow the deregulation snake oil easily. The USA had gotten used to cheap power available at the flick of switch. . . . Detailed regulations limited charges to real expenditures plus a government-set profit. The laws banned power "trading" and required companies to keep the lights on under threat of arrest -- no blackout blackmail to hike rates. . . . Of particular significance as I write here in the dark, regulators told utilities exactly how much they had to spend to insure the system stayed in repair and the lights stayed on. Bureaucrats crawled along the wire and, like me, crawled through the account books, to make sure the power execs spent customers' money on parts and labor. . . . Most important, FDR banned political contributions from utility companies -- no 'soft' money, no 'hard' money, no money PERIOD. . . . But then came George the First. In 1992, just prior to his departure from the White House, President Bush Senior gave the power industry one long deep-through-the-teeth kiss good-bye: federal deregulation of electricity. It was a legacy he wanted to leave for his son, the gratitude of power companies which ponied up $16 million for the Republican campaign of 2000, seven times the sum they gave Democrats. . . . But Poppy Bush's gift of deregulating of wholesale prices set by the feds only got the power pirates halfway to the plunder of Joe Ratepayer. . . . California fell first. The power companies spent $39 million to defeat a 1998 referendum pushed by Ralph Nadar which would have blocked the de-reg scam. Another $37 million was spent on lobbying and lubricating the campaign coffers of the state's politicians to write a lie into law: in the deregulation act's preamble, the Legislature promised that deregulation would reduce electricity bills by 20%. In fact, when in the first California city to go "lawless," San Diego, the 20% savings became a 300% jump in surcharges. . . . Enron circled California and licked its lips. As the number one contributor to the George W. Bush campaigns, it was confident about the future. With just a half dozen other companies it controlled at times 100% of the available power capacity needed to keep the Golden State lit. Their motto, "your money or your lights." . . . Enron and its comrades played the system like a broken ATM machine, yanking out the bills. . . . It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going out on the Golden Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation booster, to find his lost Democratic soul and impose price caps in California and ban Enron from the market. . . . It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going out on the Golden Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation booster, to find his lost Democratic soul and impose price caps in California and ban Enron from the market. . . . But the light-bulb buccaneers didn't have to wait long to put their hooks back into the treasure chest. Within seventy-two hours of moving into the White House, while he was still sweeping out the inaugural champagne bottles, George Bush the Second reversed Clinton's executive order and put the power pirates back in business in California. Enron, Reliant (aka Houston Industries), TXU (aka Texas Utilities) and the others who had economically snipped California's wires knew they could count on Dubya, who as governor of the Lone Star state cut them the richest deregulation deal in America. . . . Meanwhile, the deregulation bug made it to New York where Republican Governor George Pataki and his industry-picked utility commissioners ripped the lid off electric bills and relieved my old friends at Niagara Mohawk of the expensive obligation to properly fund the maintenance of the grid system. . . . And the Pataki-Bush Axis of Weasels permitted something that must have former New York governor Roosevelt spinning in his wheelchair in Heaven: They allowed a foreign company, the notoriously incompetent National Grid of England, to buy up NiMo, get rid of 800 workers and pocket most of their wages - producing a bonus for NiMo stockholders approaching $90 million. . . . Is tonight's black-out a surprise? Heck, no, not to us in the field who've watched Bush's buddies flick the switches across the globe. In Brazil, Houston Industries seized ownership of Rio de Janeiro's electric company. The Texans (aided by their French partners) fired workers, raised prices, cut maintenance expenditures and, CLICK! the juice went out so often the locals now call it, "Rio Dark." . . . So too the free-market British buckaroos controlling Niagara Mohawk raised prices, slashed staff, cut maintenance and CLICK! -- New York joins Brazil in the Dark Ages. . . . Californians have found the solution to the deregulation disaster: re-call the only governor in the nation with the cojones to stand up to the electricity price fixers. And unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gov. Gray Davis stood alone against the bad guys without using a body double. Davis called Reliant Corp of Houston a pack of "pirates" --and now he'll walk the plank for daring to stand up to the Texas marauders. . . . So where's the President? Just before he landed on the deck of the Abe Lincoln, the White House was so concerned about our brave troops facing the foe that they used the cover of war for a new push in Congress for yet more electricity deregulation. This has a certain logic: there's no sense defeating Iraq if a hostile regime remains in California. . . . Sitting in the dark, as my laptop battery runs low, I don't know if the truth about deregulation will ever see the light --until we change the dim bulb in the White House.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:08 PM
News Media Started the War (Not George Bush)!
I cannot believe this is not a bigger news story! I'm flabbergasted and astonished by the stupidity of this Bush comment. And, to top it off, HE REPEATED IT a few days later!
Bizarre comments from President Bush's press conference: When questioned about the economy, President Bush in part blamed the slow turnaround on the cable-news media. He complained that "one network in particular" had since last fall been warning about "the march to war, the march to war, the march to war," which, the President said "made investors afraid to take risks."
You gotta think that the communicator-in-chief was ad-libbing here. No way Karl Rove signed off such an idiotic talking point. The reason the cable-news media have been hyping the march to war since last fall is because, duh, the Bush administration has been marching to war since last fall. The media didn't invent news of a war -- THE PRESIDENT DID!
Our President is correct. Investors do hold back when there's geo-political uncertainty. But Ashleigh Banfield wasn't the one who sold us on the Iraqi-Niger-al-Qaeda connection. That was you, Mr. President. Brian Williams goes on Sunday talk-TV and says "when you get a smoking gun, it just may be a mushroom cloud." That would be your NSA, Condi Rice.
It's fine to say that war slowed down the economy. But, geez, Mr. President, at least take responsibility for the fact that you launched this war, not the media. The media reported on the news; they didn't make it. The media reported on YOU, Mr. President; they didn't invent the war themselves!
Ann Coulter, BTW, was a guest on Hardball. And, predictably, she defended the President. "It wasn't the war that slowed down the recovery," Coulter intoned, "it was the fact that the news media covered it."
. . . Read more!
posted by Hal 10:28 AM
Guide to the Candidates Views on Medical Marijuana
In an effort to press the presidential candidates to take a stand on behalf of medical marijuana patients, Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has launched Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM) in cooperation with New Hampshire residents. A Web site, GraniteStaters.com, grades the nine Democratic candidates and President Bush �with third-party candidates to be added at a later date -- on their positions regarding medical marijuana.
Ranked at the bottom of the pack are President George Bush, with an "F" for stepping up the raids on medical marijuana patients and caregivers, and for�mer Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, with an "F+" for killing a med�ical marijuana bill in Vermont in late 2002. U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is the only candidate to be rated with an "A," for publicly endorsing legal access to medical marijuana (and pledging to reform drug laws in general).
During the campaign, GSMM will be asking the candidates questions about medical marijuana at town hall meetings across New Hampshire in an effort to inject the medical marijuana issue into the January 27, 2004, presidential primary election.
Visit http://www.granitestaters.com/guide/index.html to read about how Pres. Bush and the Democratic candidates have been graded, as well as the news cov�erage that this campaign has generated thus far.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 3:30 PM
Insider Exposes Rumsfeld's Treachery
(Jim Lobe, Asia Times, August 7, 2003)
Pentagon Middle East specialist, Air Force Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked in the office of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith until her retirement in April. . . . "What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline," Kwiatkowski wrote. "If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam [Hussein] occupation [of Iraq] has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense [OSD]." . . . Kwiatkowski went on to charge that the operations she witnessed during her tenure in Feith's office, and particularly those of an ad hoc group known as the Office of Special Plans (OSP), constituted "a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-option through deceit of a large segment of the Congress". . . . Kwiatkowski's charges are likely to make her a prime witness when Congress reconvenes in September for hearings on the manipulation of intelligence to justify war against Iraq. . . . have placed 150,000 US troops in "the world's nastiest rat's nest, without a nation-building plan, without significant international support and without an exit plan". . . . Kwiatkowski's comments echo the worst fears of some lawmakers, who have begun looking into the OSP's role in the administration's mistaken assumptions in Iraq. Some are even comparing it to the off-the-books operation run from the National Security Council (NSC) during the Ronald Reagan administration that later resulted in the Iran-Contra scandal. . . . Little is known about OSP, which was originally created by Rumsfeld and his top deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to investigate possible links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist group. While only a dozen people officially worked in the office at its largest, scores of "consultants" were brought in on contract, many of them closely identified with the neo-conservative and pro-Likud views held by the Pentagon leadership.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:37 PM
Bush the First Broke the Law and Funded Saddam's Regime
(William Safire, The Congressional Record, May 19, 1992)
Americans now know that the war in the Persian Gulf was brought about by a colossal foreign-policy blunder: George Bush's decision, after the Iran-Iraq war ended, to entrust regional security to Saddam Hussein. . . . What is not yet widely understood is how that benighted policy led to the Bush Administration's fraudulent use of public funds, its sustained deception of Congress and its obstruction of justice. . . . Instead of pressing the investigation or curbing the appeasement, the President turned a blind eye to lawbreaking and directed another billion dollars to Iraq. Our State and Agriculture Department's complicity in Iraq's duplicity transformed what could have been dealt with as `Saddam's Lavoro scandal' into George Bush's Iraqgate. . . . Yet we now know that George Bush personally leaned on Ex-Im to subvert its charter--not to promote our exports but to promote relations with the dictator. And we have evidence that James Baker overrode worries in Agriculture and O.M.B. that the law was being perverted . . . Policy blunders are not crimes. But perverting the purpose of appropriated funds is a crime; lying to Congress compounds that crime; and obstructing justice to cover up the original crime is a criminal conspiracy.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:02 AM
Why I am leaving this Country
(Thos. Nagy, Information Clearing House, 07/30/03)
It is instructive to know how the wonderful democracy that the U.S. is exporting through its own very real WMD�s actually works. There are worse governments than the US �democracy,� but surely there are better ones, and US �democracy� is not worth exporting or imposing on anyone except the most desperate. . . . It has to do with Dr. Daniel Pipes. Dr. Daniel Pipes is a rather belligerent fellow who has been wonderfully successful in intimidating the vast majority of US professors into near total silence despite: (1) two major wars that are getting progressively worse (from the official US viewpoint), (2) a threatened nuclear war with North Korea that has the potential of killing us all, down to the cockroaches that have amazing resilience to radiation, and (3) a domestic economic crisis spinning out of control thanks to the insane quest for world dominance and the maniacal looting of the US by the chums of Bush, the First and Bush, the Second. . . . The good Dr. Pipes identified the six leading university professor villains in the US�I'm number 6�in a column in the New York Post, a newspaper that is perhaps just a few steps up from pure trash . . . B2's nomination of Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace is rivaled only by B1's naming of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. . . . Continuing to teach in the US is no longer an option for me, particularly since evidently I will have no chance to clear my name before Congress. . . . So I am moving to Canada in a few days where I will apply for citizenship and try to rebuild my 20-year university career in a functioning democracy. . . . I think Canada's secret is simple: a small, peace keeping-oriented military; a small weapons industry; no empire to rule and no countries to conquer. (Sending trigger pullers to Afghanistan was an aberration. Canadian troops die if they must but as peace keepers, not as killers of essentially defenseless people.) . . . I hope to die in Canada and atone for my stupidity and culpability in paying taxes to the most well-oiled killing machine in history, the United States of America, by teaching peace studies and promoting pacifism, which I think is the only force powerful enough to overcome America�s super weapons.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:46 AM