Welcome to Earth: Meet the Leaders

January 31, 2003 at 8:19 pm
Contributed by:

It’s been a year since I first circulated this article to my list, and in retrospect, I think it’s one of the most accurate as pertains to the question of who really runs the world. This excerpt says it best:

The world isn’t run by a clever cabal. It’s run by about 5,000 bickering,
sometimes charming, usually arrogant, mostly male people who are accustomed
to living in either phenomenal wealth, or great personal power. A few have
both.



Welcome to Earth: meet the leaders


……straight from Davos

From:
Laurie.Garrett_L@newsday.com
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 21:00:57
-0500
Subject: So I just got home from Davos, and boy are the rich …well,
RICH

Hi Guys.

OK, hard to believe, but true. Yours truely has been
hobnobbing with the
ruling class.

I spent a week in Davos, Switzerland
at the World Economic Forum. I was
awarded a special pass which allowed me
full access to not only the entire
official meeting, but also private dinners
with the likes the head of the
Saudi Secret Police, presidents of various
insundry countries, your Fortune
500 CEOS and the leaders of the most
important NGOs in the world. This was
not typical press access. It was
full-on, unfettered, class A hobnobbing.

Davos, I discovered, is a
breathtakingly beautiful spot, unlike anything
I’d ever experienced. Nestled
high in the Swiss Alps, it’s a three hours
train ride from Zurich that finds
you climbing steadily through snow-laden
mountains that bring to mind Heidi
and Audrey Hepburn (as in the opening
scenes of “Charade”). The EXTREMELY
powerful arrive by helicopter. The
moderately powerful take the first class
train. The NGOs and we mere
mortals reach heaven via coach train or a
conference bus. Once in Europe’s
bit of heaven conferees are scattered in
hotels that range from B&B to
ultra luxury 5-stars, all of which are
located along one of only three
streets that bisect the idyllic village of
some 13,000 permanent residents.

Local Davos folks are fanatic about
skiing, and the slopes are literally a
5-15 minute bus ride away, depending
on which astounding downhill you care
to try. I don’t know how, so rather
than come home in a full body cast I
merely watched.

This sweet little
chalet village was during the WEF packed with about 3000
delegates and press,
some 1000 Swiss police, another 400 Swiss soldiers,
numerous tanks and
armored personnel carriers, gigantic rolls of coiled
barbed wire that
gracefully cascaded down snow-covered hillsides, missile
launchers and
assorted other tools of the national security trade. The
security precautions
did not, of course, stop there. Every single person
who planned to enter the
conference site had special electronic badges
which, upon being swiped across
a reading pad, produced a computer screen
filled color portrait of the
attendee, along with his/her vital statistics.
These were swiped and
scrutinized by soldiers and police every few minutes
— any time one passed
through a door, basically. The whole system was
connected to handheld
wireless communication devices made by HP, which were
issued to all VIPs. I
got one. Very cool, except when they crashed. Which,
of course, they did
frequently. These devices supplied every imagineable
piece of information one
could want about the conference, your fellow
delegates, Davos, the world
news, etc. And they were emailing devices —
all emails being monitored, of
course, by Swiss cops.

Antiglobalization folks didn’t stand a chance. Nor
did Al Qaeda. After all,
if someone managed to take out Davos during WEF week
the world would
basically lose a fair chunk of its ruling and governing class
POOF, just
like that. So security was the name of the game. Metal detectors,
X-ray
machines, shivering soldiers standing in blizzards,
etc.

Overall, here is what I learned about the state of our
world:

– I was in a dinner with heads of Saudi and German FBI, plus the
foreign
minister of Afghanistan. They all said that at its peak Al Qaeda had
70,000
members. Only 10% of them were trained in terrorism — the rest
were
military recruits. Of that 7000, they say all but about 200 are dead or
in
jail.

– But Al Qaeda, they say, is like a brand which has been
heavily
franchised. And nobody knows how many unofficial franchises have
been
spawned since 9/11.

– The global economy is in very very very
very bad shape. Last year when
WEF met here in New York all I heard was,
“Yeah, it’s bad, but recovery is
right around the corner”. This year
“recovery” was a word never uttered.
Fear was palpable — fear of enormous
fiscal hysteria. The watchwords were
“deflation”, “long term stagnation” and
“collapse of the dollar”. All of
this is without war.

– If the U.S.
unilaterally goes to war, and it is anything short of a quick
surgical strike
(lasting less than 30 days), the economists were all
predicting extreme
economic gloom: falling dollar value, rising spot market
oil prices, the Fed
pushing interest rates down towards zero with resulting
increase in national
debt, severe trouble in all countries whose currency
is guaranteed agains the
dollar (which is just about everybody except the
EU), a near cessation of all
development and humanitarian programs for poor
countries. Very few economists
or ministers of finance predicted the world
getting out of that economic funk
for minimally five-10 years, once the
downward spiral ensues.

– Not
surprisingly, the business community was in no mood to hear about a
war in
Iraq. Except for diehard American Republicans, a few Brit Tories and
some
Middle East folks the WEF was in a foul, angry anti-American mood.
Last year
the WEF was a lovefest for America. This year the mood was so
ugly that it
reminded me of what it felt like to be an American overseas in
the Reagan
years. The rich — whether they are French or Chinese or just
about anybody
— are livid about the Iraq crisis primarily because they
believe it will
sink their financial fortunes.

– Plenty are also infuriated because they
disagree on policy grounds. I
learned a great deal. It goes FAR beyond the
sorts of questions one hears
raised by demonstrators and in UN debates. For
example:
– If Al Qaeda is down to merely 200 terrorists cadres and a handful
of
wannabe franchises, what’s all the fuss?
– The Middle East situation
has never been worse. All hope for a
settlement between Israel and Palestine
seems to have evaporated. The
energy should be focused on placing painful
financial pressure on all sides
in that fight, forcing them to the
negotiating table. Otherwise, the ME may
well explode. The war in Iraq is at
best a distraction from that core
issue, at worst may aggravate it. Jordan’s
Queen Rania spoke of the
“desperate search for hope”.
– Serious Islamic
leaders (e.g. the King of Jordan, the Prime Minster
of Malaysia, the Grand
Mufti of Bosnia) believe that the Islamic world must
recapture the glory days
of 12-13th C Islam. That means finding tolerance
and building great education
institutions and places of learning. The King
was passionate on the subject.
It also means freedom of movement and speech
within and among the Islamic
nations. And, most importantly to the WEF, it
means flourishing free trade
and support for entrepeneurs with minimal
state regulation. (However, there
were also several Middle East
respresentatives who argued precisely the
opposite. They believe bringing
down Saddam Hussein and then pushing the
Israel/Palestine issue could
actually result in a Golden Age for Arab
Islam.)
– US unilateralism is seen as arrogant, bullyish. If the U.S.
cannot
behave in partnership with its allies — especially the Europeans —
it
risks not only political alliance but BUSINESS, as well. Company
leaders
argued that they would rather not have to deal with US government
attitudes
about all sorts of multilateral treaties (climate change,
intellectual
property, rights of children, etc.) — it’s easier to just do
business in
countries whose governments agree with yours. And it’s cheaper,
in the long
run, because the regulatory envornments match. War against Iraq
is seen as
just another example of the unilateralism.
– For a minority of
the participants there was another layer of
AntiAmericanism that focused on
moralisms and religion. I often heard
delegates complain that the US “opposes
the rights of children”, because we
block all treaties and UN efforts that
would support sex education and
condom access for children and teens. They
spoke of sex education as a
“right”. Similarly, there was a decidedly mixed
feeling about Ashcroft, who
addressed the conference. I attended a small
lunch with Ashcroft, and
observed Ralph Reed and other prominent Christian
fundamentalists working
the room and bowing their heads before eating. The
rest of the world’s
elite finds this American Christian behavior at least as
uncomfortable as
it does Moslem or Hindu fundamentalist behavior. They find
it awkward every
time a US representative refers to “faith-based” programs.
It’s different
from how it makes non-Christian Americans feel — these folks
experience it
as downright embarrassing.
– When Colin Powell gave the
speech of his life, trying to win over
the nonAmerican delegates, the
sharpest attack on his comments came not
from Amnesty International or some
Islamic representative — it came from
the head of the largest bank in the
Netherlands!

I learned that the only economy about which there is much
enthusiasm is
China, which was responsible for 77% of the global GDP growth
in 2002. But
the honcho of the Bank of China, Zhu Min, said that fantastic
growth could
slow to a crawl if China cannot solve its rural/urban problem.
Currently
400 million Chinese are urbanites, and their average income is 16
times
that of the 900 million rural residents. Zhu argued China must
urbanize
nearly a billion people in ten years!

I learned that the US
economy is the primary drag on the global economy,
and only a handful of
nations have sufficient internal growth to thrive
when the US is
stagnating.

The WEF was overwhelmed by talk of security, with fears of
terrorism,
computer and copyright theft, assassination and global
instability
dominating almost every discussion.

I learned from
American security and military speakers that, “We need to
attack Iraq not to
punish it for what it might have, but preemptively, as
part of a global war.
Iraq is just one piece of a campaign that will last
years, taking out states,
cleansing the planet.”

The mood was very grim. Almost no parties, little
fun. If it hadn’t been
for the South Africans — party animals every one of
them — I’d never have
danced. Thankfully, the South Africans staged a
helluva party, with Jimmy
Dludlu’s band rocking until 3am and Stellenbosch
wines pouring freely,
glass after glass after glass….

These WEF
folks are freaked out. They see very bad economics ahead, war,
and more
terrorism. About 10%
of the sessions were about terrorism, and it’s heavy
stuff. One session
costed out what another 9/11-type attack would do to
global markets,
predicting a far, far worse impact due to the “second hit”
effect — a
second hit that would prove all the world’s post-9/11 security
efforts had
failed. Another costed out in detail what this, or that, war
scenario would
do to spot oil prices. Russian speakers argued that “failed
nations” were
spawning terrorists — code for saying, “we hate Chechnya”.
Entire
sessions were devoted to arguing which poses the greater asymmetric
threat:
nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

Finally, who are
these guys? I actually enjoyed a lot of my conversations,
and found many of
the leaders and rich quite charming and remarkably
candid. Some dressed
elegantly, no matter how bitter cold and snowy it was,
but most seemed quite
happy in ski clothes or casual attire. Women wearing
pants was perfectly
acceptable, and the elite is sufficiently multicultural
that even the suit
and tie lacks a sense of dominance. Watching Bill
Clinton address the
conference while sitting in the hotel room of the
President of Mozambique —
we were viewing it on closed circuit TV — I got
juicy blow-by=blow analysis
of US foreign policy from a remarkably candid
head of state. A day spent with
Bill Gates turned out to be fascinating and
fun. I found the CEO of Heinekin
hilarious, and George Soros proved quite
earnest about confronting AIDS.
Vicente Fox — who I had breakfast with —
proved sexy and smart like a —
well, a fox. David Stern (Chair of the
NBA) ran up and gave me a
hug.

The world isn’t run by a clever cabal. It’s run by about 5,000
bickering,
sometimes charming, usually arrogant, mostly male people who are
accustomed
to living in either phenomenal wealth, or great personal power. A
few have
both. Many of them turn out to be remarkably naive — especially
about
science and technology. All of them are financially wise, though
their
ranks have thinned due to unwise tech-stock investing. They pay close
heed
to politics, though most would be happy if the global political
system
behaved far more rationally — better for the bottom line. They work
very
hard, attending sessions from dawn to nearly midnight, but expect
the
standards of intelligence and analysis to be the best available in
the
entire world. They are impatient. They have a hard time reconciling
long
term issues (global wearming, AIDS pandemic, resource scarcity) with
their
daily bottomline foci. They are comfortable working across
languages,
cultures and gender, though white caucasian males still outnumber
all other
categories. They adore hi-tech gadgets and are glued to their cell
phones.

Welcome to Earth: meet the
leaders.

Ciao,
Laurie

—— End of Forwarded
Message

6 Republicans oppose drilling in ANWR

January 31, 2003 at 2:26 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Speaking of SUV fuel economy…

And remember:

“Just a 2.7-mpg gain in the fuel economy of this country’s light-vehicle

fleet could displace Persian Gulf imports entirely” –Amory B. Lovins

That’s the “light-vehicle” fleet…only!

You don’t suppose Pete Domenici is going to propose any sort of fuel economy

improvements as he hammers out “a robust and diverse energy bill” do you?

–C

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=584&e=2&cid=584&u=/nm/20030
131/pl_nm/energy_congress_dc

Politics – Reuters

Six Republican Senators Turn Against Bush on ANWR

47 minutes ago

By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Bush administration’s plan to open the Arctic

National Wildlife Refuge to drilling suffered a major blow on Friday as six

Republican senators said they opposed inserting language into a must-pass

budget bill that would give oil companies access to the refuge.

ANWR, which is home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife, sprawls

across 19 million acres of Alaska’s northeast corner.

The Republican-led House of Representatives passed energy legislation last

year that would have opened ANWR to drilling, but a Democratic-led Senate

did not pass similar legislation.

The White House contends that the refuge’s potential 16 billion barrels of

crude must be tapped to help reduce U.S. dependence on oil imports from

unfriendly countries like Iraq.

But many Democrats and environmentalists oppose drilling, saying the

administration should cut oil imports by boosting the mileage standards of

gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles.

Six of the Senate’s 51 Republicans, including former presidential candidate

John McCain of Arizona, on Friday announced they would not go along with a

plan to tack ANWR drilling language onto a massive spending bill this spring

that would enact the new 2004 budget for the federal government.

“Because the opening of the Arctic refuge to drilling raises a host of

policy concerns, including serious environmental ramifications, we do not

believe this issue should be injected in the budget process,” the lawmakers

said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Budget

Committee Chairman Don Nickles.

The letter is the latest twist in a two-year legislative battle over

drilling in the Alaskan refuge.

The Democratic-led Senate last year soundly defeated efforts to open the

refuge, when drilling supporters fell short of the 60 votes needed to end

debate on the controversial proposal and allow a final vote on the measure.

DRILLING BACKERS DON’T WANT A FILIBUSTER

To get around a filibuster this time around, supporters of opening the

refuge want to attach drilling language to must-pass legislation to fund the

2004 budget for the federal government. They argue that such language is

appropriate for budget legislation because of the fees the government would

collect from leasing tracts in the refuge to oil companies.

Under Senate rules, budget legislation cannot be filibustered and only 50

votes would be needed to approve the bill and an attached ANWR drilling

provision.

In addition to McCain, the letter was signed by Senators Olympia Snowe and

Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Peter Fitzgerald of

Illinois, and Mike DeWine of Ohio. The six were part of a group of eight

Republicans who crossed the aisle last year to vote against ANWR drilling.

In his State of the Union speech to Congress earlier this week, President

Bush (news – web sites) urged lawmakers to pass legislation enacting his

national energy plan, which includes drilling in the refuge.

Two Democratic presidential hopefuls, Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts

and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, oppose ANWR drilling and have promised

to filibuster any energy bill that would open the refuge.

A new poll released on Friday by The Wilderness Society showed that by a

two-to-one margin, voters reject opening the Arctic refuge to oil drilling,

even in the case of impending war with Iraq and a possible cut-off of some

of America’s oil supplies from the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the Senate Energy Committee announced on Friday a series of

hearings that will focus on the energy challenges facing the United States

and will also guide the development of comprehensive energy legislation.

“My top priorities will be hammering out a robust and diverse energy bill

for floor consideration this summer,” said panel chairman Pete Domenici.

“Right now, America is faced with energy challenges and opportunities. We

are on the brink of war in the Middle East and dangerously dependent on

Middle East oil,” he added.

The panel will hold three hearings in February on oil and natural supplies,

and energy production on federal lands — which could include drilling in

the Arctic refuge.

The Emperor Strikes Out : The \"New Imperialism\" And Its Fatal Flaws

January 31, 2003 at 12:47 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,


 

I hope
you’re all managing with the increasing frequency of this email. Material is
literally pouring into my Inbox. (Keep it coming, gang! I’m learning so much
thanks to you!)

 

If you
haven’t had a chance to read all this stuff, and I wouldn’t blame you,
please put the following article on imperialism at the top of the
pile! I thought it was fine work, and it really helped to clarify our
foreign policy objectives for me, and not in a particularly partisan way. (We’ve
been at it for years.)

 

This paper from the Cato Institute, a “non-profit public policy
research foundation,” was submitted by an alert reader, with the comment “It demonstrates, essentially, that we’re spending money we don’t have to do something we don’t need to while burdening ourselves with a responsibility that we cannot expect others to share, even though we can’t afford to handle it alone.”

Now, I used
to get the CATO newsletter, and I eventually unsubscribed because I felt their kind
of “market liberalism” was too pro-business where it came to social and
environmental issues. But I think they’re right on the money here.


 

[Sometimes I think I would be a libertarian if that end of the
spectrum weren’t so full of, as the same alert reader commented,
“wingnuts.”]

 

This really gets to the heart of the the problem with attacking Iraq, and all of our
other imperial activities: we do so at the peril of our empire’s collapsing.


The Emperor Strikes Out : The “New Imperialism” And Its Fatal Flaws

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Harper’s Index: December 2002

January 31, 2003 at 12:36 am
Contributed by:

An
unusually political and critical edition of the classic Harper’s Index! I
thought it was appropriate to send around.

 

This
one’s my favorite:

Minimum percentage change since last year in
Afghanistan’s opium production : +1,000

 

–C

 



Harper's Index



December 2002

Number of names on the State Department’s list of “suspected terrorists” :
70,000



Number of times George W. Bush has said Osama bin Laden’s name in public
since July 8 : 0



Hours after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld learned Bin Laden was a suspect
that he sought reasons to “hit” Iraq : 2.5



Percentage by which the Pentagon’s September order for sunblock exceeded its
last largest such order : 70



Rank of Israel and Turkey among nations in violation of the largest number of
U.N. Security Council resolutions : 1, 2



Number of Kurdish members of Turkey’s parliament jailed in 1994 when their
party was declared illegal there : 7


Number still in prison : 4


Number of Turkish college students detained in the last year for requesting
Kurdish-language classes : 1,146



Organizers’ estimated attendance at this fall’s largest peace rallies in
London and New York, respectively : 400,000, 25,000



Estimated attendance according to police in each city : 150,000, 12,000


Number of estimates cited in each rally’s coverage in the London Times and
the New York Times, respectively : 2, 0


Minutes that service on two New York subway lines was halted this fall after
a Sikh worker was seen emerging from a hatch : 92



Amount Colombia paid civilians for informing on rebels in its first five
weeks of recruiting this year : $340,000



Percentage of the 223 trade unionists reported murdered or missing worldwide
last year who worked in Colombia : 88



Number of “sub-harm” suicide “gestures” made this year by detainees held at
the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay : 30



Minimum number of times the United States has deployed troops abroad in its
226-year history : 277



Number of days that the CIA’s museum is open to the public each year : 0



Number of countries that use the U.S. dollar as currency : 10


Number of other countries whose currency is effectively pegged to the dollar
: 34


Ratio of the annual tariffs that developed nations impose on one another to
those they impose on developing nations : 1:4



Minimum percentage change since last year in Afghanistan’s opium production :
+1,000



Pounds of weapons-grade uranium reported to have been seized in September
from a taxi in Turkey : 33


Ounces of black sand that the container–labeled “primarily
youranuom”–actually contained : 0.2


Factor by which the cruising speed of NASA’s new hypersonic cruise-missile
engine exceeds that of previous missiles : 9.5



Percentage by which the speed of light has decreased in the last 20 billion
years, according to Australian scientists : 0.0007



Average number of miles by which the magnetic North Pole moves each year :
25



Year in which the ozone hole over Antarctica is expected to close as a result
of reduced chlorofluorocarbon use : 2050



Percentage change since 1980 in the per-watt cost of solar energy in the
United States : –87



Days it takes an adult in Los Angeles to breathe in more air pollution than
EPA guidelines recommend for a lifetime : 25



Average number of people killed per week by a sniper operating in suburban
Maryland and Virginia this fall : 3


Average number of homicides per week during the same period in Washington,
D.C. : 7


Percentage of Americans surveyed who say they refused to participate in a
survey during the past year : 44


Percentage of those contacted for this survey who refused to participate in
it : 60


Fee that Sprint PCS charges its “credit-challenged” customers each time they
speak with a live representative : $3



Chances of getting a hotel room in Bethlehem on Christmas in 2000 and 2001,
respectively : 0, 9 in 10


Chance that a Bethlehem hotel expects to be open this Christmas : 1 in 5


Rank of a burning Yule-log video loop among the top-rated 8-10 a.m. TV shows
in New York City last Christmas : 1



Price of a child’s personal ATM from FAO Schwarz last year : $20,000



Chances that a child fed “booger”-flavored jelly beans at a trade show this
fall said they tasted like the real thing : 4 in 5




Figures cited have been adjusted for inflation and are the
latest available as of October 2002.
“Harper’s Index” is a registered
trademark.





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Best of the State of the Union address commentary

January 30, 2003 at 8:38 am
Contributed by:

Folks,



There certainly has been a lot of interesting follow up to the State of the

Union address. Unfortunately, I missed it myself, and haven’t been able to

catch a replay (is it time for TiVo?) But pundits and readers have pulled

out the salient points for me, and here is some follow up.



In this issue, I address two of the major themes–stimulating the economy

with a tax cut package, and the president’s proposal to invest in hydrogen

fuel-cell cars. Here is a little cut & paste from some of my emails over the

last few days:



MY COMMENTS TO A READER ON THE TAX CUT PROPOSAL AND CURRENT ECONOMICS:

Like most Democrats, I never believed the trickle-down theory, and I still

don’t. It didn’t work when Reagan was in office, and it won’t now. The

Republicans’ tax cuts are exactly that. I call it the “trickle ON” theory.

The rich piss on the poor.



I believe that if you really want to improve the economy, you don’t just

shovel money to those who have the most of it, instead you look at ways to

improve its fundamental health! Huge budget deficits nationally and at the

state level (what the hell is California going to do?!), enormous amounts of

consumer debt, record levels of bankruptcy and home foreclosures, monolithic

corporations and homogeneity of major markets, lack of true competition, and

fast & loose dealings in the financial markets (now tell me, even as a

wallet Republican, doesn’t it piss you off that not a single executive who

bilked millions of ordinary Americans out of billions of dollars has yet to

go to jail?). Those are the things that need to be addressed. And giving tax

breaks to large corporations and rich individuals just isn’t going to help

that stuff. The only way to address those issues is at the grassroots level,

I really believe that. That is, a huge, thick layer of very small businesses

and enterprises in highly sustainable sectors, which can buffer the ups and

downs of wars, swings in the financial markets, and so on. If you can

appreciate this metaphor, I think our economy is more like a redwood than a

humus layer. If you compromise a few roots, the whole thing can crash down.

We need to be much more resilient and fecund than that. And I think we can

be, if we get our economics right!



Basically I believe that Sustainability–my favorite cause–is in the small,

not the large, and that it can only be achieved when the economic system has

accurate feedback signals. Unfortunately, our current economic system

intentionally distorts feedback signals in our economy–oil being among the

most distorted of markets–and most of that distortion comes from the

federal level. This tax cut package is only going to make that situation

worse. Let things cost what they SHOULD cost; make businesses shoulder the

cost of their OWN activities, and pay a fair price for public resources;

actually prosecute those who commit fraud; institute open and auditable

accounting practices across the board….then, and only then, would you have

the basis for a healthy economy.



SEGUE INTO A READER’S COMMENTS TO ME, ON CARS & OIL DEPENDENCY:

…But subsidizing the gasoline that those cars consume is a totally

different matter. As a driver, I’m essentially relying on goverment force

(via the power to tax) to get my neighbors to help cover my personal

transportation costs. This is even worse if it turns out that my neighbors

don’t even drive. At the same time, my satisfaction with cheap gas means

that I’m not waiting breathlessly for fuel cels to be introduced – or not

nearly as eagerly as I would if I were having to pay the actual cost of a

gallon of gas up front (including all the hidden costs that are just rolled

into my tax bill.)



So not only are my neighbors getting screwed by the situation, the natural

incentives for some clever human to improve the situation are being

distorted by the same policy. 0 for 2. In all, it’s not a happy picture.



It gets really ugly when you consider the amount of each payroll that gets

absorbed by the federal government. Even with the defence budget being as

absurdly enormous as it is, this, combined with the costs of the courts and

a few other responsibilities set forth in the constitution, only require a

limited portion of what the government takes in. In other words, the balance

is being used for what amount to market distorting activities, which have

two known effects – 1. an unfair distribution of costs and 2. a disincentive

for progress.



To my mind, the expression ‘power to the people’ means giving them the power

to make their own economic choices. I assure you that if the government had

to conduct the same sort of cost/benefit analysis before collecting taxes

that the private sector has to do before raising capital, they would get

into a lot less grief (in the name of the American people) and the world

would be a much more peaceful place.



SEGUE INTO MY COMMENTS TO A READER ABOUT THE SUV ARTICLE:

I didn’t mean to blame Bush for SUVs. And, as others have pointed out, there

are plenty of other equally gas-guzzling vehicles we could complain about,

as well as the morality of it all.

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/0,,SB1043112266882438224,00.html



That’s not the point. The point is, under this administration, SUVs have

gotten a huge boost through various auto industry sponsored initiatives, and

people are clamoring for them in record numbers and sizes. It’s just a part

of the illogic of this situation that I’m trying to point out.



As for the cost of oil “over time,” we’re just talking about two different

frames of time. I mean “in perpetuity.” Yes, over the short run, wholesale

prices could still fall or remain stable…for a while. But not for long.

I’d say, 50 years, tops. Not when the global rate of consumption is still

going up, production costs are going up (let’s not forget to take into

account what Venezula has lost in general productivity of late, what it cost

us to fight the Gulf War, and what it will cost us to fight it this time),

environmental cleanup costs are going up, and yields are going down.



But those aren’t even the true costs! Let’s not forget to include all the

federal subsidies (public money) given to the oil & auto industries. Let’s

not forget to add the costs in Blood. Then consider that economic measures

such as the GDP are as useful as a calculator that can only add. Oil wars,

air and water cleanup, oil spill cleanup, the environmental costs of an oil

war (esp. if Saddam pursues a scorched earth policy), all these things only

*add* to GDPs, so from an economic standpoint, they’re all counted as

credits, not debits! The actual, real, costs of oil are ENORMOUSLY high, but

a huge part is hidden! If the price of gas at the pump reflected the actual

cost of oil, we’d all be clamoring for tiny little fuel cell driven cars,

not SUVs, I’m sure!



Until we have good feedback cycles in our economic strategy, we’ll never get

this solved. (Are you familiar with the GPI?

http://www.redefiningprogress.org/projects/gpi/)



OK, fine: if we believe that deficit spending is prudent in times of

economic stagnation, and that investing in our own industries is the kind of

stimulus we need, then how on earth does spending that on control of global

oil supplies make sense? Tell you what, $100 Billion put into the

development of fuel cell and electric cars, and widespread deployment of

cheap solar panels, would do a hell of a lot more good for the US economy

AND its long term energy security than any of this nonsense. No. This is NOT

rational. It’s a power play, and it’s purely for the benefit of the

industrial power elite…and possibly, the SUV-driving American ego.



AN INTERESTING LINK SENT IN BY A READER ABOUT THAT:

http://www.msnbc.com/local/pisea/104601.asp?0cv=CB20&0bl=-0



Talk about distorting market signals! A $38K TAX BREAK for buying a Hummer?

Wow. Talk about incentivizing the wrong thing! Now, let me ask you: if you

could get a $38K tax break for buying a state of the art hybrid electric car

today, would you?



A READER’S ANSWER TO MY QUESTION, “If any of you, regardless of political

bent, can explain to me how this makes logical sense, I would love to hear

it.”:



Hey, actually it makes TOTALLY logical sense that Bush & Co. are persuing

the policies they are. Given their backgrounds — Bush at Harkin/Arbusto

Energy, Cheney at Halliburton, Condi Rice at Chevron, Andy Card at GM, all

the Enron connnections etc. etc. — it’s axiomatic that the Bush White House

would pursue a pro-oil, pro-automaker, anti-environment agenda.



AND ANOTHER’S:

I think the answer is similar to the “But why did you rob the bank?”

question. Because that’s where the money is.



AND FINALLY, MY COMMENTS ON THE HYDROGEN CAR PROPOSAL:

[First, I should make clear that I love the idea of fuel cell cars as much

as anybody. That should be clear from the above comments. But I think the

president’s announcement in the State of the Union address was disingenuous.

And here’s why.]



The hydrogen car initiative is just another example of the Bush

administration promising to do something in the FAR future in order to

distract attention from what they’re not going to do NOW. That car won’t be

reality for like another 25 years! In the meantime, they’re going to do

NOTHING about gas mileage economy of the ever-huger and less efficient cars

we’re putting on the road this year, and every year, let alone the

environmental costs of all that carbon going into the air! No, in fact,

they’re lifting environmental regulations right now, to allow cars to be

more polluting, and use up a lot more gas, backing out of the environmental

treaties we’ve (grudingly) agreed to in the past. But, hey, if you can turn

attention away from that by promising some pie-in-the-sky new vehicle that

doesn’t have a chance of hitting the streets for another 25 years…good

trick!



No, I don’t buy it for a minute. Come on! That’s a bad joke! Here is the

truth!

“Just a 2.7-mpg gain in the fuel economy of this country’s light-vehicle

fleet could displace Persian Gulf imports entirely” –Amory B. Lovins



But noooooo. We’d rather spend $100 Billion to depose Saddam! And untold

other billions exerting control over the rest of the Middle East.”



OK, ENOUGH WITH MY BULLY PULPIT, HERE’S A REAL PUNDIT

See below.



(Whew!) That’s enough for one day! Until next time,



–C





—–Original Message—–



January 30, 2003





POLITICS & PEOPLE

By AL HUNT  [who is the WSJ’s “token liberal”, fwiw]





State of the Union Speech:

A Short Term Game



I used to follow State of the Union speeches, as a real journalist, with a

prepared text, looking for small changes or nuances. Tuesday night an

equally good guide was the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.



While predictably, the virtually certain war dominated headlines, the

well-received speech was full of compassionate rhetoric, an economic plan

billed as boosting the average American, immeasurably increased homeland

security and a pledge to lead the world against international thugs. And no

sacrifice was asked of anyone other than those in uniform.



This is a White House that insists, unlike its predecessor, that it pays

little attention to public opinion. In reality, Mr. Bush is a poll- and

politics-driven president with a seemingly shrewd approach: Keep the base

content with broad policies and try to pick up pieces selectively: West

Virginia with steel protection, Hispanics with visible judicial

appointments.



Above all, frame the debate on your terms. Thus, White House master

strategist Karl Rove says, with a perfectly straight face, that George Bush

is really a populist. His boss matched that chutzpah Tuesday evening in

proclaiming he “will not pass along our problems to . . . other generations”

— like the $2 trillion of debt he would leave our kids and grandkids.



The president did sound like Mr. Rove’s populist with the promise of tax

relief “for everyone who pays income taxes” — a sizeable average tax

reduction focused on lower-middle class Americans, small businesses and

hard-pressed seniors.





Mr. Bush’s tax-cut populism, reflecting public worries and polls about

fairness, is reminiscent of the late Morris K. Udall’s description of an

earlier scheme under which, he noted, “the rich and the poor will get the

same amount of ice . . . however, the poor get all of theirs in winter.” The

president is right; 92 million Americans would get an average tax cut of

almost $1,100; half of taxpayers, however, get less than $100 dollars, while

people making over $1 million average a $90,200 tax cut; that does average

almost $1100 apiece, just the way baseball’s Aaron brothers hit an average

of 384 home runs — Henry hit 755 and Tommie hit 13.



Then there’s the touching portrait of eliminating taxes on dividends — over

half the cost of the president’s economic package — to help the poor,

struggling elderly. It’s true that ten million senior citizens would get

this tax cut. What the president conveniently ignores is that the elderly

with incomes below $50,000 — two-thirds of all those 65-years or older —

only get 4% of those dividend tax cut benefits, while the rich geezers —

with incomes exceeding $200,000 — would get almost half the benefits going

to seniors. Populism?



The emphasis on getting the economy moving squares with the WSJ/NBC News

poll findings that job stimulation is Americans’ top priority; it just

doesn’t square with the president’s proposals. “If you asked economists to

come up with ten things to stimulate the economy,” ventures Brookings

Institution economist William Gale, “none would have come up with that.”



The most devastating critique this week of the Bush plan was not from any

lefty, however, but from conservative writer Christopher Caldwell,

previewing the State of the Union speech in a delicious dialogue on

Slate.com with Christopher Buckley and Walter Shapiro. “I’d be less put off

by the supply-side bias of these cuts if the president hadn’t so

consistently urged a demand-side remedy to the problems of running a war

economy,” he wrote. “The rich get money; the middle class gets patriotic

exhortations to spend.” Mr. Caldwell warns that when asking the public for

“wartime risks . . . it’s imprudent to increase the percentage of poor and

middle-class people who perceive themselves as being taken for a ride.”



On Iraq, the president was passionate, offering his most cogent and

compelling case so far; he stressed going back to the United Nations on

Saddam’s sins — though pointedly not saying he will seek another

resolution, which he almost certainly will not — and of leading a

“coalition to disarm him.”



That reflects the WSJ/NBC poll of a hawkish but patient and multilaterally

oriented public, which wants to see the evidence that Iraq has weapons of

mass destruction and still considers al Qaeda and terrorism the much larger

threat.



The president’s most persuasive al Qaeda connection is prospective: a

contained Saddam, clearly possessing chemical and biological weapons, might

more eagerly supply terrorists with lethal weapons to be used against

American interests. But the president’s efforts to link Osama bin Laden and

Saddam Hussein now only undercut his credibility; almost every intelligence

agency agrees with Iraqi expert and invasion advocate Ken Pollack that any

current connection is “tenuous and inconsequential.”



Public reservations about multilateral backing will vanish once American men

and women go into harm’s way. But these concerns are harbingers of huge

political problems if the post-Saddam period is as messy as many experts

fear.



Other issues touched by the president also were shaped by public opinion. He

was especially disingenuous on health care, championing patients and doctors

in calling for affordable care and prescription drugs benefits for seniors.

He even took a passing shot at HMOs, which his administration has sided with

repeatedly over the interests of doctors and patients. There was no mention

of his real goal to make Medicare work more like the private insurance

market; the public overwhelmingly opposes that notion.



But prosperity and war/terrorism dominated the address and will dominate the

public’s response. Mr. Bush will get a bump in the polls and a huge jump if

American troops go to war. But the import of this speech and the immediate

reaction was exaggerated enormously. What matters, far more than any

political sales pitch, is whether a year from now the economy is humming and

democracy is budding in the Mideast, or whether the insecurities of the

economy and terrorism have been exacerbated.



URL for this article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB1043893874734341544,00.html





Hyperlinks in this Article:

(1) mailto:al.hunt@wsj.com



Updated January 30, 2003











Copyright 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved



Printing, distribution, and use of this material is governed by your

Subscription agreement and Copyright laws.



For information about subscribing go to http://www.wsj.com













ABOUT AL HUNT







Albert R. Hunt is executive Washington editor for The Wall Street Journal.

His responsibilities include helping to set direction and priorities for the

Journal’s Washington news coverage, writing the weekly editorial page

column, “Politics & People,” and directing the paper’s political polls. He

has worked for the Journal since 1965 in New York, Boston and Washington.







Mr. Hunt was a panelist on Public Broadcasting Service’s “Washington Week in

Review” for seven years and served as a political analyst on the “CBS

Morning News” in 1984. He has been a member of Cable News Network’s “The

Capital Gang” since its inception in 1988, and he is one of the hosts of the

CNN interview show “Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields.” He is also a periodic

panelist on the National Broadcasting Co.’s “Meet the Press.”







Born in Charlottesville, Va., Mr. Hunt graduated from Wake Forest University

in Winston-Salem, N.C. with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He and

his wife, CNN anchor Judy Woodruff, have three children and live in

Washington.







Mr. Hunt invites comments to al.hunt@wsj.com1.




Comments Off on Best of the State of the Union address commentary
 

GREG PALAST: Hustler interview

January 29, 2003 at 11:46 am
Contributed by:


Folks,

This
may be the best piece I’ve yet seen about how the American media has been
utterly cowed and afraid to do any real journalism about the
Bush administration (and previous administrations, including Clinton’s),
9-11, Venezula, and al Qaeda. The truth is gradually coming out, thanks to
the British press! This is an important piece. It’s just a shame that Hustler
is the only American media publication that had the guts to run it.

As
you read this, you’ll pick up some important names and connections: Harken
Oil, the Carlyle Group, Barrick Gold, bin Laden, Hugo Chavez, Jeb Bush and
Katherine Harris. I have much more material on these entities to come! But
this is a good place to start.

A couple of key points:

– In the
American media, all you hear about Venezuela is that most of their oil
industry is on strike (why, we aren’t told), and that people are clamoring
for Chavez to resign, or to allow another election. What you aren’t told is
that a) the US government attempted a coup to remove him from power about a
year ago, which failed; b) Chavez is legally and democratically elected and
only wants to help his impoverished people to earn a decent profit from their
resources; c) the international oil industry has been taking huge profits
from its Venezuelan operations for a long time, while paying the Venezuelan
oil workers peanuts, and subjecting them to health hazards that simply aren’t
permitted in the US. But you don’t hear that story over here. What you hear
is: Chavez should be removed from power.

– In the American media, the
stories about what happened in the 2000 general election have been quashed.
The truth is ugly. Bush & Co. didn’t steal the 2000 Presidential
election, they bought it, fair and square!

– G.H. Bush, through his
dealings with the Carlyle Group and others, has his fingers in absolutely
everything.

– We didn’t get a real investigation into 9-11 for a very
good reason: the Bush dynasty is intimately involved with bin Laden and all
sorts of CIA shenanigans, and has been for a long time. My guess is, that’s
exactly why we supposedly have intelligence about Saddam’s ties to
terrorist organizations, and his weapons programs, that we can’t release: not
because it’s ultra-sensitive information that would endanger the lives of
American troops, but because the hand of G.H. Bush in the whole affair would
be evident! The same is true of al Quaeda. These are monsters that WE
created, but we have to find a way to take them down without revealing the
fact that we had a hand in their making. Let’s see…how could we do
that…I’ve got it! We’ll simply declare that they’re Evil and then go after
them like the good guys we are! Yeah, that’s the ticket! Americans fall for
simple homilies like that every time.

Much, much more to
follow.

Yours for the truth, C

—–Original
Message—– An article from Journalist Greg Palast’s web-site, http://www.GregPalast.com


GREG PALAST: BEAT THE
PRESS

Interview by Bruce David

For those of us who’ve long
suspected that our democracy is up for sale to the highest bidder,
award-winning investigative journalist Greg Palast has uncovered disturbing
evidence confirming as much. Palast’s exposés of the theft of the 2000
election, the financial ties between the Bush and the Bin Laden families, and
how these connections kept the FBI from perhaps preventing the horrific
events of 9/11 have thrown fear into the hearts of media pundits. There has
been a near-complete news blackout of the explosive findings documented in
Palast’s book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. First released in England,
where he reports for the BBC and The Guardian, Palast’s collection of
writings is finally being published in America by Penguin/Plume books with
40% new material.  In an exclusive HUSTLER interview, the author
discloses the truth on high crimes in high places that the mainstream media
is afraid to touch.

HUSTLER: Tell us about your new book. I know you’ve
been able to get your groundbreaking exposés published in England and Europe,
but, up until now, your stuff has been too controversial for the American
media to touch.

PALAST: Not a chance in America, until now, thanks to the
book.

HUSTLER: What kind of material do you have in the
book?

PALAST: How about this for an example: After Daddy Bush left the
White House, he went to work for a company called Barrick Gold Corporation
in Canada, something you haven’t read in the United States. The first thing
he does is pick up a big, fat check and stock options from Barrick
Gold Corporation for, essentially, selling them the presidential seal and
the presidential Rolodex. And he writes letters to dictators like
[former president of Indonesia] Suharto, saying, “Give these nice guys
gold-mining concessions.”

HUSTLER: What is Barrick
Gold?

PALAST: It was founded with money from Adnan Khashoggi, the arms
dealer. You may remember that Adnan was the bagman in the guns-for-hostages,
Iran-Contra scandal. The sheikh got out, then Bush got in. You have to ask
yourself a question: What would a Canadian gold-mining company do with a
used president? Well, it turns out that before he left office, Daddy Bush put
in motion an expedited process for laying claims to gold in the United
States. It allowed Barrick Gold Corporation and a couple of other operators
to lay claim to the largest gold mines in America. To stake a claim on $10
billion worth of gold ore, Barrick paid the U.S. Treasury less than
$10,000.

HUSTLER: I would have gone for that, myself. I could have
scraped together $10,000.

PALAST: All I can say is that Barrick was
very, very grateful for the gold mine. But the public got the shaft, and
Daddy Bush got the job. And George W. got the donations. That’s the other
thing that has been unreported here: People don’t realize how much easy
squeezy [campaign money] is flowing in. That includes things like parallel
spending and soft money and hard money, which, by the way, hasn’t ended. You
know that our Congress has passed campaign-finance reform, so-called. What
they did was eliminate soft money, but they doubled the amount of hard money.
It’s just Viagra for campaign donations. Our big problem is that we held
something closer to an auction than an election in America. A lot of the
reason [George W.] Bush raised all that cash-that easy squeezy-is because of
his father’s business connections. You’re never quite sure where the Bush
family’s bank account ends, and the campaigns and our American policy
begins.

HUSTLER: Did Barrick get anything else from Bush
Sr.?

PALAST: He helped Barrick secure a gold-mining concession in
Tanzania. Now the gold-mining concession was owned by another Canadian
company, named Sutton, which Barrick hoped to get the rights from. But there
was a problem: The land was worthless, because there were Tanzanian miners
already on it who had the rights to the mine. That’s why, in the first week
of August 1996, Sutton bulldozers ran across that property with military
police firing guns to chase off the miners. In the process, they sealed up
the mine pits and, unfortunately, there were 50 miners still in the mines,
buried alive, say witnesses. That’s information that has not been reported in
the United States. You can’t get that word out for nothing, because Bush’s
gold-mining company terrorizes journalists who dare breathe a word about it.
They terrorize newspapers; they’ve been terrorizing wire services, and so
you don’t get the story.

HUSTLER: They threaten legal
action?

PALAST: They threaten legal action, and they bring legal action.
They sued my paper, The Guardian; they said it’s all a lie. That’s the
most prestigious newspaper in the world. They tried to get me to back up and
say that no one died. I held firm, and there was nothing that they could do.
I wasn’t in Tanzania, and I didn’t dig out the corpses myself, so
maybe Barrick’s right, but I have videotapes of the corpses.

HUSTLER:
Your book also mentions Bush and intelligence failures prior to September 11,
right?

PALAST: CIA and FBI agents told BBC Television, for which I was
reporting, that they were ordered not to investigate Saudi Arabian financing
of terror networks such as al Qaeda. The FBI agents “accidentally” left a
file about the Bin Laden family on the desk of one of my researchers. They
called up and said, “Oops, we left our file on your desk by accident. You
haven’t read it, have you? Well, we’ll be back to pick it up in 30
minutes-unless you need 45.” The FBI agents handed us material dated
September 13, 2001, two days after the attack. It was on that date that the
FBI was finally released to go after two members of the Bin Laden family, who
they had already identified as being involved with a suspected terrorist
organization. But by September 11th, they were flown birds.

HUSTLER:
What happened to other members of the Bin Laden family living in the U.S.
after 9/11?

PALAST: Just after the no-fly restriction was lifted, a
private Saudi Arabian jet airlifted the Bin Laden family members out of the
country before the FBI could talk to them. Everyone thinks there’s just one
black sheep in that family, but the FBI agents were telling us at BBC they
think there’s a couple of gray sheep, and they had some questions for the
family members. There were a lot of people dead under the rubble at that
moment when those people left.

HUSTLER: What had American policy been
regarding the Bin Laden family prior to the Bush
Administration?

PALAST: Bill Clinton had already put a go-slow on
investigations of Saudi Arabian financing of terror networks. Clinton had
always taken the position that we can’t annoy our dear friends, the Saudis,
even if our dear friends happen to be funding terrorists like the al Qaeda
network; however, he never actually stood in the way of investigating them,
whereas George W., according to FBI and intelligence agents, said, “You can’t
go there. You may not look. You may not investigate the American Bin
Ladens.”

HUSTLER: So the FBI and CIA agents were pissed at George
W.?

PALAST: They are furious. He blindsided our intelligence agencies.
How could a trillion-dollar intelligence operation like the CIA not foresee
the most deadly attack on America since Pearl Harbor? The answer is not
because Bush knew about September 11 in advance. Rather, they were told not
to look because of connections that are political, personal and financial
between the Bushes and the Saudis. When these agencies were told not to look,
there was a lot not to look at. There was a 1996 meeting between the al
Qaeda financial arm, Saudi billionaires and key international arms dealers.
There was a discussion about which Saudis would pay how much to al Qaeda. Now
if I can find out about it, and the French intelligence had a mole in
the meeting, you can bet that our trillion-dollar CIA could find out about
it; so why wasn’t there follow-up? Why wasn’t there action? How about a note
to the Saudis saying, “Do us a favor: Stop giving money to people who
are killing us.”

HUSTLER: What about the Bin Laden and Bush
connections to the Carlyle Group?

PALAST: The Bin Ladens were investors
in a very private and a very exclusive operation called Carlyle, which is an
investment group. Carlyle is one of the biggest private corporations on the
planet; so they report to no one, and they’re responsible to no one, except
their little coterie of owners, which is made up of an ex-president and
dictators. Daddy Bush worked for, and still continues to be on a retainer
for, the Carlyle Group, representing the company in Saudi Arabia and in Asia.
His son, our President, was also put on the board of one of the companies
owned by Carlyle, Caterair, and he was paid on the order of $50,000 for them
to access his great business acumen. Caterair went under, but they never
asked for their money back.

HUSTLER: What about George W.’s oil
ventures?

PALAST: He had several oil ventures and could never find oil in
Texas, which is almost impossible, as you know. On the other hand, he had a
company, Spectrum Seven, which was bought out by another company, Harken Oil.
Before that, he had Arbusto, which means shrub. He could never find oil, this
guy. But he did find Saudi Arabians who put money into Harken and got him on
the board where he was paid consulting fees. Then, despite the fact that
the company seems to be going south, a miracle occurred. That is, the
Bahraini government insisted on giving Harken Oil a contract to drill in the
Persian Gulf. This is a dry-land Texas company suddenly being given an
offshore oil lease by a country that had previously been doing business with
Amoco. They picked this little, teeny company out of nowhere, which of course
has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the guy was the son of
the President of the United States.

HUSTLER: What about Hugo Chavez,
the president of Venezuela? Was the CIA really involved in the attempted coup
last April? And how did that relate to oil?

PALAST: What’s not
discussed in the American press is that the president of Venezuela, who they
say is a Communist and a dictator, was, in fact, elected in a democratic
election. In that regard, it’s worth noting that our President’s spokesman
said, “Winning a majority of the vote does not make your government
legitimate.”

HUSTLER: Who should know better?

PALAST: [The U.S.
government has] been working on getting rid of Chavez, because he’s not only
president of Venezuela, he also got to choose the president of OPEC, and I
haven’t read that anywhere in the U.S. press. He controls the biggest pool of
available oil. Saddam Hussein’s oil fields, if we do invade, will be in
flames. Where do we get the oil to make up for the losses in a war? One
place, Venezuela, which pulled our bacon out of the fire during the Arab oil
embargo of the ’70s.

HUSTLER: Didn’t Chavez piss off U.S. oil companies
by restructuring his deal with them?

PALAST: Here is a guy who said,
“Look, I’ve got a nation where millions of people are living in cardboard
houses. We’re raising the price of oil, I’m taking over OPEC, I’m putting it
back together, and I’m gonna take that money and rebuild the ghettos of
Caracas,” which he did. And that cost a lot of money, which he got by
doubling the royalties on foreign corporations taking out the oil. They were
getting 16% royalties-this is the Venezuelans’ own oil, after all-and Chavez
said, “We’ll take 30%. You get 70%. Is that a deal?” The response from the
Bush Administration was to get the guy kidnapped. And our ambassador, a
political toady named Charles Shapiro, ran down from the U.S. Embassy to put
his arm around the guys who are literally holding the president of the
country hostage. You have to imagine what this looks like to the rest of the
people in the world. Of course, we didn’t see that. We’re not permitted to
find out what’s happening in our news media.

HUSTLER: What has happened
to the the news media in this country?

PALAST: I vomit every time I see
Tom Brokaw.

HUSTLER: And Dan Rather-

PALAST: I feel sick at heart
when I see Rather, because he’s actually a journalist. He came on my program,
Newsnight [in England] and said, “I can’t report the news. I’m not allowed to
ask questions. We’re gonna send our children and our husbands into the desert
now, and I can’t ask a question, because I will be lynched.” This is what
Rather said in London. He looked defeated and awful, and I was thinking, Why
am I feeling sorry for this guy who is worth millions? He should turn to the
camera and say, “Well, now for the truth. Over to you, Greg, in London.” The
problem is that he can’t report the story of the intelligence agents who are
told not to look at the Bin Laden family, not to look at Saudi funding of
terror.

HUSTLER: What makes Rather afraid to do his job?

PALAST:
It’s not just that there are brutal shepherds like Rupert Murdoch out there
to beat the dickens out of any reporter that asks the wrong questions; it’s
all about making news on the cheap. You know, for some of these editors,
cheap and easy is a philosophy of life. To do a heavy-duty story on Bush, and
his oil and Bush and his gold-mining company is beyond them. A little bit of
the Harken stock scandal came out, but that story was already seven years
old. To some extent they know that there are certain things you cannot say.
Rather says he would be necklaced for telling the truth.

HUSTLER: He
said that? What did he mean?

PALAST: In South Africa, under apartheid, if
someone didn’t like you, they put a burning tire around your neck. That was
called “necklacing.” On my show, Rather said, “If I ask any questions, I’ll
be necklaced.” And I’m thinking, Oh, that’s a good image. It’s sad, but if
Dan Rather doesn’t have the cajones to ask a question, then you name a
reporter who’s gonna step out and ask about what’s going on. It’s not that
the corporate guys say, “Don’t run that story,” although that has happened to
me many times in North American media, but also the shepherds pick the lambs
who won’t ask the questions. For example, there was a reporter, some poor
producer, who wanted to run a story about how Jack Welch had lied about
polluting the Hudson River. The story didn’t run. Shockeroo. That was for
Dateline NBC, owned by General Electric, of which Jack Welch was the chairman
of the board. Or as in the case of Venezuela, I was stunned to come back from
Caracas to find a picture on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle of
100,000 people marching against the president of Venezuela. Sounds like he’s
a terrible guy and people hate him. What they didn’t say was that half a
million people were marching for him.

At least the Soviet Russians
knew that the stuff in Pravda was coming out the wrong end of a toilet,
whereas, we live under the pretense that The New York Times prints all the
news that’s fit to print.

HUSTLER: I won’t read The New York Times. That
publication has no credibility with me.

PALAST: The New York Times ran
a story, front page, the first week of September 2001, talking about
gold-mining companies in Nevada and how they seem to be getting let off the
hook by the Bush Administration on environmental rules. They didn’t mention
two things in that front-page article: They didn’t mention the owner of the
big gold mine-Barrick-and they didn’t mention who had been on their board-the
President’s Daddy. I brought that up to an editor of the Times. They said,
“How dare you. No one has ever accused The New York Times of cowardice,” and
[former Times writer] Seymour Hersch leaned over to me and said, “That’s the
guy who had me pushed out of the Times.”

HUSTLER: They haven’t really
told the truth about Bush and the 2000 election, either.

PALAST: I’ve
got brand-new, deeply evil stuff about that in the new book. What happened
was that, five months before the election, Katherine Harris, acting under
orders from Jeb Bush, knocked 57,000 voters off the rolls. They were
suspected of being evildoers and felons and, therefore, not allowed to vote
in Florida. Here’s the news: Of the 57,000 people, 97% were innocent
of crimes, but they were guilty of being black. Half of them
were African-American or Hispanic-in other words, Democratic voters. Was
the state guessing who the the people of color were? In Florida, it’s like
South Africa; they list your race right on your registration. There was
no guessing. These people not only lost their vote, but lost their
president. BBC figures Gore lost 22,000 votes this way, but you didn’t read
that in the U.S. press. You didn’t read in the U.S. press that they say
they’re going to allow the voters back on in 2003. That means that they were
screwed for the election of 2002 as well.

I ran the story of the theft
of the election on the BBC. Then a hotshot with CBS News calls me and says,
“Oh, that’s a great story, can we have a piece of it? We want something new.”
I said, “Yeah, I got something for you: Jeb Bush’s office, the governor of
Florida, is involved in knocking off the voters too, not just Katherine
Harris, and there’s a letter dated September 18, 2000, which directs
county-election officials to deliberately violate the law and not register a
bunch of people who are Democrats. These are people who committed crimes in
other states. Jeb can’t legally stop them from voting, but he did anyway. And
he knows that these people are Democrats, because there’s something about
going to jail that turns people [into] Democrats, about 93% [of ex-cons vote
Democrat.]

HUSTLER: So, people who were either black or who had
previously gone to jail were just automatically eliminated?

PALAST:
Right. Jeb sent out the letter anyway, September 18, 2000, despite two court
orders saying he couldn’t do that. I had an insider in his office, some poor
woman, shaking, saying, “I gotta read you this letter.” She knew about the
court orders. Okay, so I said, to CBS, “That’s a story.” CBS News didn’t run
the story-one night, two nights. I said, “What happened?” They said, “It
didn’t stand up.” I said, “How do you know the story didn’t stand up?” “Well,
we called Jeb Bush’s office, and they said, ‘We didn’t do it.'” Oh. Hotshot
Dan Rather investigative news team. They said, “The letter doesn’t exist.
It’s not in the computer files; it’s in no one’s files, not in the governor’s
files. It’s nowhere to be found.” Then Katherine Harris writes a hysterical,
screeching letter to Harper’s Magazine, calling me twisted and maniacal, but
she didn’t say I was wrong. She said, “Yeah we knocked off these people, but
it’s not my fault; I got a letter from the governor.” I called up her
office-I didn’t say, “This is Mr. Twisted and Maniacal”-I said, “Um, excuse
me, I got a letter from your Secretary of State saying that she had a letter
from the governor, before the election, regarding removing people from the
voter rolls. Could you fax that to me?” Suddenly, the letter that CBS says
doesn’t exist is faxed to me. I’ve got it in my hot little hands, the letter
that was in Katherine Harris’s desk; so CBS just took an official denial,
because they’re not gonna say, “The President’s brother, the governor of the
state of Florida, fixed the election”-that we had a coup d’état by
computer.

HUSTLER: What can you tell us about the way the news media
counted the ballots in Florida after the election?

PALAST: ABC News
ran down after I noticed that 180,000 ballots were not counted in Florida.
Never counted, because they were spoiled, as they say. They were not counted
because the ballots had mismarks on them. Would you be surprised to find out
that most of those ballots were from black voters? Black precincts. Black
counties. So Ted Koppel’s team goes to investigate, and what they find is
that black voters have a tough time figuring out the ballots, because they’re
not very educated.

HUSTLER: That’s what they actually
said?

PALAST: They reported on Ted Koppel that the reason so many black
votes were voided is that, basically-in very polite, expert terms, in the way
Ted always speaks from under his wig-blacks are too *censored*ing dumb to figure
out the ballots. But I went down to Tallahassee, and what I found out is that
in white areas, when you have a paper ballot, and you make a mistake, it
goes into an automatic reader-an optical reader. It comes back as a mistake,
and you get another ballot, and you vote again. In black counties, you make
a mistake, it goes into the same ballot, it’s the same machine, and the
ballot is destroyed. The buttons were set differently; so it wasn’t that
black voters were too dumb to vote. It was that the white reporters were too
dumb to ask.

HUSTLER: Isn’t it true that even with the fix put in by
Jeb and Harris, Gore would have won if there had been a recount of all the
ballots statewide?

PALAST: Absolutely. Walking away, Gore won. People
thought that they were voting for Al Gore. What they called a ballot that
doesn’t count is one where Al Gore’s name is circled on a paper ballot. And
listen to this: People wrote in the name Al Gore because the ballot said,
“Write in candidate’s name.” And they wrote in Al Gore. If you wrote in Al
Gore, because he wasn’t a write-in candidate, your ballot was voided. And
again, you gotta go back to the fact, it’s not everybody’s ballot that was
voided. The blacker the ballot, the higher the chances it will not be
counted, and that was the evil of it. That’s the modern way: Use computers
and mechanisms to steal elections, and if you know the race of a voter, you
know the color of their vote.

HUSTLER: Any final words on the state of
the American press?

PALAST: Let’s put it this way: This is the 30th
anniversary of the Watergate break-in, and that means it’s been 30 years
since the Washington Post has broken a major story. I uncovered the story of
the purged voters and broadcast it in Britain within three weeks of the
election. Al Gore was still in the race. The Washington Post ran my story,
seven months later, nicely buried there. W. is reading it in the White House
and giggling to himself.  For more news and views from Greg Palast, go
to www.gregpalast.com.

***

PBS stations nationwide will
broadcast “Counting on Democracy,” featuring Palast’s investigation of state
manipulation of the vote in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.
Local broadcast times for the film, directed by Emmy award-winner Danny
Schechter, can be found at at www.GregPalast.com (Events), where you can also
read and subscribe to Greg Palast’s “London Observer” columns and view his
reports for BBC Television’s Newsnight.

You can also see this article
online:

http://www.gregpalast.com/detail.cfm?artid=181&frm=eml

======================================================================== Complete
contents of this e-mail are (c)Greg Palast. All Rights
Reserved ========================================================================


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Hummers, SUVs, and American mentality

January 28, 2003 at 1:53 pm
Contributed by:

Hello
folks,


 

Here’s
an interesting article. In pursuit of “getting real,” how does one reconcile
these things? Forget politics; how does one find any logic in this situation
whatever?

 


We’re putting record numbers of obscenely huge gas-guzzling SUVs on the
road;

 


We’re aggressively denying that we need to do anything about air pollution,
backing out of international treaties to protect the air, and the federal
government is doing everything it can to shut down California’s attempts to put
cleaner burning vehicles on the road;

 

– The
President has finally admitted that global warming is happening, and might be
contributed to by gases from fossil fuel combustion;

 


There can be no argument that oil is a nonrenewable resource, and is going to
get more expensive over time;

 

– The
Busy administration has gutted the budgets for research into solar and other
renewable energy sources, but put huge new investments into coal and new oil
drilling in environmentally sensitive areas;

 


Environmental catastrophes from wrecked oil tankers are now so common, we hardly
bother to even consider them news, while the last remaining coral reefs in the
world in decent health are being wrecked by oil spills;

 



We’re sending troops and materiel over to the MidEast in preparation to take
control of Iraq, whether any other nations are going to legitimize our actions
by their participation or not, because apparently we believe it’s our mandate,
our destiny, and our right to control their oil;

 


We’re suddenly running a huge budget deficit after a few years of surplus and
paying down the national debt, and yet, we’re about to spend anywhere from
$20-100 BILLION on an unprovoked war against Iraq, and hardly anybody seems
to be questioning the wisdom it;

 

– Our
President is a failed oil man with deep ties to the automobile and oil
industries, who, despite criticism of his bloodlust for Saddam, never utters the
“O” word in any discussion of our domestic or foreign policy.

 

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2003/01/15/notes011503.DTL&nl=fix

“Perhaps it is worth noting, in this time of imminent, useless war,
when our country is being run by, essentially, a failed Texas oilman, that it
might be about time to rethink our all-American, bigger-is-better,
screw-the-environment, high-fivin’, the-world-is-our-prison-*censored* mentality.

 

If any
of you, regardless of political bent, can explain to me how this makes
logical sense, I would love to hear it.

 

Scratchin’ my head,

–C

 

[Disclaimer: yes, I do drive a 1994 Explorer, which used to be a ‘real’
SUV and which now looks like a toy sitting next to the current generation of
SUVs. I can’t afford to get another vehicle right now and that one is paid off.
I have taken it off-road many times, I have loaded it to the gills with
everything from camping equipment to Burning Man stuff to construction
materials, and used the tow hookup to haul garbage, rocks, manure, firewood,
furniture, and other stuff. I’ve taken it lots of places that look just like in
the commercials, slept in it, and toured the West in it. In other words, I’m the
guy that the SUV was supposedly designed for, and that’s why I got it. I look
forward to owning a hybrid or fuel-cell car as soon as it’s
feasible.]

 

 

Comments (1)
 

Bush’s plea for help, a la Nigerian spam letter

January 27, 2003 at 7:18 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

This just in today. I thought it was pretty clever.

Like any good satire, the way this lays the logic and costs of the situation
so bare really puts a new light on things, doesn’t it?

–C

—–Original Message—–

IMMEDIATE ATTENTION NEEDED :
HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL

FROM: GEORGE WALKER BUSH
202.456.1414 / 202.456.1111
FAX: 202.456.2461

DEAR SIR / MADAM,

I AM GEORGE WALKER BUSH, SON OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, AND CURRENTLY SERVING AS
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THIS LETTER MIGHT SURPRISE
YOU BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT MET NEITHER IN PERSON NOR BY CORRESPONDENCE. I
CAME TO KNOW OF YOU IN MY SEARCH FOR A RELIABLE AND REPUTABLE PERSON TO
HANDLE A VERY CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS TRANSACTION, WHICH INVOLVES THE
TRANSFER OF A HUGE SUM OF MONEY TO AN ACCOUNT REQUIRING MAXIMUM
CONFIDENCE.

I AM WRITING YOU IN ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE PRIMARILY TO SEEK YOUR
ASSISTANCE IN ACQUIRING OIL FUNDS THAT ARE PRESENTLY TRAPPED IN THE
REPUBLIC OF IRAQ. MY PARTNERS AND I SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE IN
COMPLETING A TRANSACTION BEGUN BY MY FATHER, WHO HAS LONG BEEN ACTIVELY
ENGAGED IN THE EXTRACTION OF PETROLEUM IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
AND BRAVELY SERVED HIS COUNTRY AS DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES CENTRAL
INTELLIGENCE AGENCY.

IN THE DECADE OF THE NINETEEN-EIGHTIES, MY FATHER, THEN VICE-PRESIDENT
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, SOUGHT TO WORK WITH THE GOOD OFFICES OF
THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ TO REGAIN LOST OIL REVENUE SOURCES
IN THE NEIGHBORING ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN. THIS UNSUCCESSFUL VENTURE
WAS SOON FOLLOWED BY A FALLING-OUT WITH HIS IRAQI PARTNER, WHO SOUGHT TO
ACQUIRE ADDITIONAL OIL REVENUE SOURCES IN THE NEIGHBORING EMIRATE OF
KUWAIT, A WHOLLY-OWNED U.S.-BRITISH SUBSIDIARY.

MY FATHER RE-SECURED THE PETROLEUM ASSETS OF KUWAIT IN 1991 AT A COST OF
SIXTY-ONE BILLION U.S. DOLLARS ($61,000,000,000). OUT OF THAT COST,
THIRTY-SIX BILLION DOLLARS ($36,000,000,000) WERE SUPPLIED BY HIS
PARTNERS IN THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA AND OTHER PERSIAN GULF
MONARCHIES, AND SIXTEEN BILLION DOLLARS ($16,000,000,000) BY GERMAN AND
JAPANESE PARTNERS. BUT MY FATHER’S FORMER IRAQI BUSINESS PARTNER
REMAINED IN CONTROL OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ AND ITS PETROLEUM RESERVES.

MY FAMILY IS CALLING FOR YOUR URGENT ASSISTANCE IN FUNDING THE REMOVAL
OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ AND ACQUIRING THE PETROLEUM
ASSETS OF HIS COUNTRY, AS COMPENSATION FOR THE COSTS OF REMOVING HIM
FROM POWER. UNFORTUNATELY, OUR PARTNERS FROM 1991 ARE NOT WILLING TO
SHOULDER THE BURDEN OF THIS NEW VENTURE, WHICH IN ITS UPCOMING PHASE MAY
COST THE SUM OF 100 BILLION TO 200 BILLION DOLLARS ($100,000,000,000 –
$200,000,000,000), BOTH IN THE INITIAL ACQUISITION AND IN LONG-TERM
MANAGEMENT.

WITHOUT THE FUNDS FROM OUR 1991 PARTNERS, WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO
ACQUIRE THE OIL REVENUE TRAPPED WITHIN IRAQ. THAT IS WHY MY FAMILY AND
OUR COLLEAGUES ARE URGENTLY SEEKING YOUR GRACIOUS ASSISTANCE. OUR
DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUES IN THIS BUSINESS TRANSACTION INCLUDE THE
SITTING VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RICHARD CHENEY,
WHO IS AN ORIGINAL PARTNER IN THE IRAQ VENTURE AND FORMER HEAD OF THE
HALLIBURTON OIL COMPANY, AND CONDOLEEZA RICE, WHOSE PROFESSIONAL
DEDICATION TO THE VENTURE WAS DEMONSTRATED IN THE NAMING OF A CHEVRON
OIL TANKER AFTER HER.

I WOULD BESEECH YOU TO TRANSFER A SUM EQUALING TEN TO TWENTY-FIVE
PERCENT (10-25 %) OF YOUR YEARLY INCOME TO OUR ACCOUNT TO AID IN THIS
IMPORTANT VENTURE. THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA WILL FUNCTION AS OUR TRUSTED INTERMEDIARY. I PROPOSE THAT YOU
MAKE THIS TRANSFER BEFORE THE FIFTEENTH (15TH) OF THE MONTH OF APRIL.

I KNOW THAT A TRANSACTION OF THIS MAGNITUDE WOULD MAKE ANYONE
APPREHENSIVE AND WORRIED. BUT I AM ASSURING YOU THAT ALL WILL BE WELL
AT THE END OF THE DAY. A BOLD STEP TAKEN SHALL NOT BE REGRETTED, I
ASSURE YOU. PLEASE DO BE INFORMED THAT THIS BUSINESS TRANSACTION IS
100% LEGAL. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO CO-OPERATE IN THIS TRANSACTION,
PLEASE CONTACT OUR INTERMEDIARY REPRESENTATIVES TO FURTHER DISCUSS THE
MATTER.

I PRAY THAT YOU UNDERSTAND OUR PLIGHT. MY FAMILY AND OUR COLLEAGUES
WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL. PLEASE REPLY IN STRICT CONFIDENCE TO THE
CONTACT NUMBERS BELOW.

SINCERELY WITH WARM REGARDS,

GEORGE WALKER BUSH

Switchboard: 202.456.1414
Comments: 202.456.1111
Fax: 202.456.2461
Email: president@whitehouse.gov

Comments Off on Bush’s plea for help, a la Nigerian spam letter
 

MoveOn.Org – \"A Week Like No Other\"

January 25, 2003 at 9:44 am
Contributed by:

Folks,



Good news from the MoveOn organization. This is a good thing to keep in mind

when, for example, 200,000 people turn out to a peace rally in San

Francisco, and the police estimate attendance at 55,000. There are lots of

good people out there who do not support Bush’s "Blood for Oil" program, and

they’re making themselves heard!



Keep up the good fight. Write your Congressman!



–C



—–Original Message—–

From: Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org [mailto:moveon-help@list.moveon.org]

Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 8:26 PM

Subject: A week like no other.





Dear MoveOn member,



Thank you.  This week exceeded our wildest dreams.



Our plan was to launch an anti-war television ad campaign, hold 12

local press conferences, grow our "Let the Inspections Work" petition,

and have meetings in Congressional offices around the country.  We knew

it would be big.  But we never thought it would be this big.



That we were able to reach so far and do so much is because of you.



You made it all possible.



We didn’t expect, frankly, to have 100,000 new members join our

organization this week.  We didn’t expect to be able to deliver a

petition with over 310,000 American signers — the largest since

MoveOn’s inception. (We’re told that when Senator Diane Feinstein’s

aide saw the petition, his eyes opened wide.  He said that this was

the biggest petition he recalled them receiving.  Feinstein’s

segment was over 8,000 pages long.)



We never thought that our ad — carrying the "Let the Inspections

Work" message — would be aired on virtually every major TV news show.

We never thought George Stephanopoulos would show it to Secretary of

Defense Donald Rumsfeld and grill him on the dangers of war.  We never

imagined it would be broadcast and discussed on news programs in

Australia, Pakistan, Russia, and Japan.



We didn’t anticipate that a new national poll, taken on the very days

our story was playing everywhere, would show public support for war

plummeting, or that this poll would be the top story in today’s

Washington Post.



We didn’t anticipate that local press conferences, staffed by MoveOn

members in 12 cities, would generate front-page stories on the new

breadth and tactics of the anti-war movement.



And then there are the Congressional meetings.



We had high hopes for the meetings that occurred yesterday in

Congressional districts across the country.  After all, 9,000 folks

had signed up to participate, and we had an incredible team of over

800 local volunteers and 12 tireless volunteer regional coordinators

who were working to set everything up.  But, after a week of continual

surprises, our expectations yesterday were once again exceeded.



One comment sums up the experience of many:



"It was fantastic! Probably the best meeting I’ve ever been at – ever.

18 regular people who came together as strangers, were in agreement

with one another, speaking eloquently, passionately, respectfully and

from the heart."  The member went on to say, "As a former Congressional

staff person, I know this was truly impactful and meaningful."



The impact was pretty clear.  Yesterday alone, over 30 members of

Congress signed onto a Dear Colleague letter to the President, asking

him to let the inspectors do their jobs and abide by the UN process.

It’s pretty remarkable — Congress is taking up our petition.  And

more signers keep coming in.  In one of our most exciting moments, a

pro-war-resolution Representative took a look at the letter, listened

to our members, and then signed on the spot.  Now that’s democracy in

action!



The Dear Colleague letter is just the beginning.  One Representative

from Maryland is taking our petition to the floor of the House of

Representatives.  Another offered us space in his offices to do more

anti-war organizing.  One enthusiastic Representative is even going to

join MoveOn.



From Maine to Florida to Arkansas to Washington State, from Grand

Rapids, MI to Huntington, AL, diverse, articulate groups of MoveOn

members got together to talk to the offices of their Senators and

Representatives.  Local newspapers, TV and radio stations covered the

events, from the Denver Post to Pacifica Radio.



The meetings themselves were simply incredible.  But you don’t need to

take our word for it.  Here are a few short samples from the hundreds

of reports that have been pouring in:



"The voices of several veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars, of a

VA doctor, a pediatrician, other doctors, nurses, retirees, teachers,

grandparents, a law student, one after another, built a strong case

for encouraging Kolbe to urge Bush to give stronger support for the

Inspections Process. It was a bit uncanny. Not practiced, nor planned,

but one by one, each person integrated his/her contributions into what

had been said before. This was a very intelligent, well-informed,

professionally-diverse, group of people, speaking in one voice for

winning the peace, without war."

–Martha Warner, Congressman Kolbe meeting, AZ



"I was so proud to be associated with the group that showed up to

Congressman Tancredo’s office! They were an eclectic group of

housewives with children, high-powered businessmen, grandmas, artists,

executives, PhD’s — and each spoke with such grace and eloquence. It

was just amazing."

–Carol Grant, Congressman Tancredo meeting, CO



"An interesting and exciting outcome of the event is that the

Congressman agreed to lead a rally on Feb. 17th of many different

coalitions. His feeling is that it’s up to the public to voice their

opposition–that’s the only thing that will make legislators oppose

the President. I/we will be working with him to make this next event a

success."

–Sheryl Barajas, Congressman Davis meeting, IL



"I was glad I made the drive, it was quite an honor to join with these

good folks. A varied group–three women, four guys…a retired Quaker

(though Quakers never retire thank god), a Methodist minister & active

lay person, a retired fighter pilot who is a Republican, a social

scientist, a person who had lived in Kuwait and an anthraxed postal

worker. We were together for just an hour but it was a good gathering

to share & express our concerns."

–Mike DeGregory, Congressman Smith, NJ



"This was my first time ever taking any initiative in political

action, and although it was a little scary, I’m really glad I did it,

as I received nothing but positive feedback and support from everyone.

People really wanted to come out and do this."

–Rachel Smith, Congressman Neal meeting, MA



"Rep. Cummings pledged to sign the Dear Colleague letter and also said

he would speak about the MoveOn statement and visit on the house

floor. He also said he would read comments from the summary of our

petition. "

–Kimberly Nolan, Congressman Cummings meeting, MD



"[Congressman Holt] quoted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s address at

Riverside Church: We are building a political myth and shoring it up

with new violence. (Dr. King’s reference to Vietnam still rings true

today.)"

— Mara Isaacs, Congressman Holt meeting, NJ



"[Congresswoman] Stephanie Tubbs Jones made a last- minute decision to

meet with us personally, and proceeded to sit and speak for an hour. .

. She was very pleased to receive a copy of the petition with names

and address . . . and VERY excited to hear that ours was one of many

coordinated events nationwide."

–John Sinclair, Congresswoman Jones meeting, OH



"[Rep. Bartlett’s aide Mr.] Otis was clearly impressed by the number

of signatories from the Congressman’s District, and promised that he

would see the petition and the "Dear Colleague letter." He also

commented "You have represented your cause very well." "

–Gladys Cojocari, Congressman Bartlett meeting, MD



We hope to have a full report on the media coverage for the last week

and these lobbying visits up on our website soon.  We’ll let you know

when it’s there.



WHAT’S NEXT?



As you can see, we are a force to be reckoned with.  So what are our

next steps?



Over the next few weeks, we’ll be offering you all sorts of ways to

continue to engage on this issue.  One way to plug in is coming up

pretty soon.  Win Without War, the coalition of mainstream civic

organizations against the war that we helped to found, is calling for

a day of local action on January 29th.  Members of the coalition

include American Friends Service Commitee, Business Leaders for

Sensible Priorities, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Global

Exchange, Greenpeace, Leadership Conference of Women Religious,

NAACP, National Council of Churches, National Organization for Women,

NETWORK, New England Health Care Employees Union (part of SEIU),

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club, Sojourners, Tikkun

Community, TrueMajority, United Methodist Church General Board of

Church & Society, Us Foundation, Veterans for Common Sense, Women’s

Action for New Directions, and Working Assets.  Look for events

organized by some of these groups in your community on the 29th.

You may find local events listed at http://www.unitedforpeace.org .



THANK YOU



The national meetings project and our work for the last week was made

possible by the exceedingly hard work of hundreds of volunteers and

scores of local and national organizations.  We deeply appreciate the

assistance that we have received — we couldn’t have pulled this off

without help.



Very special thanks goes to the tireless team of volunteer regional

coordinators, who worked around the clock to make the meetings happen.

They are: Caitlin Fitzgerald, Judy Froman, Diane Jones, June Muller,

Jennifer Oatfield, Jesse Rhodes, Henry Snow, and Hedy Trevino.



Thanks also to:

Sarah Allen, Ira Arlook, Parker Blackman, Sarah Buecher, David

Cortright, Lynn Erskine, Philip Fryers, David Fenton, Trevor

Fitzgibbon, Patrick Kane, Elinore Klein, Kalee Kreider, Dwight Langham,

Pacy Markman, Brendan McCarthy, Segundo Mercado-Llorens, Christy

Meiring, Alistair Millar, Nathan Naylor, Lindsay Reinhardt, Dora Rose,

Noah T. Winer, and Bill Zimmerman.



It’s usually our practice to credit by name the local leaders whose

incredibly hard work made this all possible.  But in this case, the

list of leaders would double the length of this email.  All the folks

who helped put together local meetings and press conferences have our

gratitude and appreciation — they’re heroes and true patriots.



We also appreciate support for the meetings project from the following

organizations: Friends Committee on National Legislation, the American

Friends Service Committee, the National Council of Churches, TrueMajority,

Peace Action, and Women’s Action for New Directions.



The last thank you goes to every one of MoveOn’s members.  It is an

honor and an incredible privilege to work with such an amazing group

of people — a group that is changing the face of this country and

turning the tide against a war.  The Washington Post poll released

today showed support for the war plummeting.  That’s because of our

work.



The stakes are high, folks.  This war is a menace to our country and

our world.  But the last week has shown that an enormous group of

Americans are going to do everything in their power to ensure that a

peaceful resolution is reached.  So we really mean this: Thank you.



Sincerely,

–Carrie, Eli, Joan, Peter, Randall, Wes, and Zack

  The MoveOn Team

  January 22, 2002



P.S. MoveOn does all this with only four full-time staff members (Wes

and Joan volunteer).  If you’d like to support our work, you can give

online at:



   http://www.moveon.org/support.html


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Dubya as Alfred E. Newman

January 24, 2003 at 7:47 pm
Contributed by:

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of it, ’cause I could never draw it! These are pretty good.

–C










Comments (1)
 

New name: \"GetRealList\" and: Helen Thomas\’ view of Bush

January 24, 2003 at 12:01 pm
Contributed by:

Hello all,

 

Welcome to another year of my
political spam email! At the suggestion of an alert reader, I have changed the
name of my old “Poli-spam” list because a lot of email systems now screen out
anything with the word “spam” in the subject line. I have decided upon “Get Real
List” as the new name, because it occurred to me that that’s what I am: not just
a realist, but a get realist! (And of course because of the pun.
The English major in me can’t resist.) I reckon most of you are too.

 

I have a huge backlog of stuff to
send to you. I’ll gradually start sending it out. There is so much of it in fact
that to organize it and present it coherently would start to approach the
undertaking of a book. There is certainly no lack of things to fear and fight. I
will admit to feeling some hopelessness over the current state of American
politics, and wondered if it was even worth the effort to try to fight this
tide, for myself, or for my readers. But then I realized that one must always go
on, and keep fighting the good fight, for there really is no alternative path
with a heart.

 

Helen Thomas provides the appropriate
inspiration for today. “Don’t lose heart.”

 

Yours in Truth, Justice, and the true
American Way,

–Chris
Doubting Thomas offers her
press veteran’s take on state of presidency


As veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas signed my program
Thursday evening at the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual awards
banquet, I said, “First time I ever asked a reporter for an autograph.”


“Thank you, dear,” she said, patting my arm. “Don’t lose heart.”


Those are words that should be engraved at the bottom of every
journalism degree. That’s because I’m not sure that any business can cause
a heart to be lost or broken faster than this. And Thomas probably knows
this better than anyone because she began reporting in 1943.


Thomas, in case you’ve never seen a presidential news conference, is
the woman who has haunted every U.S. president since JFK.


I can’t, in fact, recall a news conference where she wasn’t standing
hawk-like, grilling men who clearly didn’t want to be grilled by anyone,
especially a woman.


Thomas, by the way, is the woman who said, “Thank you, Mr. President,”
at the end of her very first press conference in 1961.


That, I think, is a wonderful tradition that continues to this very
day. It shows a little respect to make up for the kind of lack of respect
we used to hear from shouters such as Sam Donaldson, the man Ronald Reagan
could never quite hear.


I attended this Biltmore Hotel banquet for two reasons — Thomas and
Jean Adelsman. Jean is the retired managing editor of the Breeze and the
recipient Thursday evening of a Journalist of the Year award, along with
Judy Muller of ABC News, Kitty Felde of KPCC’s “Talk of the City,” Sue
Manning of The Associated Press and USC law professor Erwin Chemerinsky.


Odd how the world breathlessly awaits the Golden Globes while honors
presented the people who watch the politicians or work for a cancer cure
are as obscure as lice. In fact, there’s a joke about the Golden Globes
and the foreign press that presents them. It’s said that on ceremony night
you can’t find a waiter anywhere in town. Take this from someone who once
sat at another banquet with the foreign press — a group composed of a dry
cleaner from Pacoima, a large Eastern European woman in a turban and an
Egyptian shoe salesman who spent the evening trying to cadge free drinks.
Now that I think of it, they aren’t much different from domestic
journalists.


Except when it comes to Thomas, who — to the 100 or so people in that
room — is the very essence of celebrity, a woman who dedicated 60 years at
United Press International and Hearst to afflicting the elected.


Keep in mind that Thomas came up in the bad old days. Unlike Thursday
night, when four of five honorees were women, she spent decades proving
herself to the male hierarchy.


As late as 1972 she was the only woman on the Nixon China trip. Still,
she survives in a Washington press corps that she says has gone soft,
accepting presidential spin without question.


There was a lot of that in her speech, this talk of devaluation in the
character of leadership. Not surprisingly for an admitted liberal, she
held her greatest praise for John Kennedy, the only president in her
estimation who made Americans look to their higher angels.


Then came Johnson’s Great Society and Vietnam. Nixon, she said, was a
man who would — when presented two roads — “always choose the wrong one.”
He was followed by “healing” Ford, well-meaning Carter, Reagan’s
revolution, Bush Sr.’s self-destruction and Clinton’s damaging of the
presidential myth.


She seemed to have sympathy and affection for everyone but George W.
Bush, a man who she said is rising on a wave of 9-11 fear — fear of
looking unpatriotic, fear of asking questions, just fear. “We have,” she
said, “lost our way.”


Thomas believes we have chosen to promote democracy with bombs instead
of largess while Congress “defaults,” Democrats cower and a president
controls all three branches of government in the name of corporations and
the religious right.


As she signed my program, I joked, “You sound worried.”


“This is the worst president ever,” she said. “He is the worst
president in all of American history.”


The woman who has known eight of them wasn’t joking.


Publish
Date:January 19, 2003

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