Friday, September 05, 2003

pinions: perannoya strikes deep

in 1979, i wuz given a grant to study in west germny, witch in them daze thay wuz two germnies, a west'n n a east'n. i had deecided on goin to germny on a counta i wonted to see how could it be that a cuntry that perduces beethoven n kant n schiller n goethe n many of the grates in all fields, how could it be that such a cuntry could do whut they dun under hitler? how could they have fallen fer such a man to lead em? i larnt a lot in my time thar, but i dint git it figgered out. they seemed lack nice folk, purty much lack folk i had met everwhar in my life. so how could it be?

seems lack i'm a'gittin the lessun rite here. folks is lazy n they kin be tricked by marketin n repetition of lies n brite colors n snappy frazes lack cumpashunut conservtism. fack is, ifn ye kin keep lyin loud n long nuff, folks'll git to whar they'll bleev innythang. n wurst is, ye kin have the truth writ out in hunnerts of columns by pundits n all, but dont make no nevermind since folks dont lack to read much n they sartinly druther not half to thank bout thangs thats complicated.

so here we are, a'watchin our own cuntry hed down the rong rode, n folks dont seem to mind much. heres sum of the thangs that makes me wurry. i put in a few pargrafs to give ye a idee, but ye need to go n read the hole stories to git the full affeck:

September 5, 2003


Industry Fights to Put Imprint on Drug Bill


In the thick of the 2000 presidential campaign, executives at Bristol-Myers Squibb, one of the nation's largest drug companies, received an urgent message: donate money to George W. Bush.

The message did not come from Republican campaign officials. It came from top Bristol-Myers executives, according to four executives who say they donated to Mr. Bush under pressure from their bosses. They said that they were urged to donate the maximum — $1,000 in their own name and $1,000 in their spouse's — and were warned that the company's chief executive would be notified if they failed to give.

Bristol-Myers said no one was forced to donate. But elsewhere in the drug industry, the message about the election was much the same. At some companies, officials circulated a videotape of Vice President Al Gore railing against the high price of prescription drugs. A torrent of contributions for Mr. Bush and other Republicans resulted. And the money kept flowing, right through the elections of 2002.

September 5, 2003

The China Syndrome


A funny thing happened this week: the Bush administration, with its aggressive unilateralism, and its contempt for diplomacy and international institutions, suddenly staked its fortunes on the kindness of foreigners.

All the world knows about the Iraq about-face: having squandered our military strength in a war he felt like fighting even though it had nothing to do with terrorism, President Bush is now begging the cheese-eaters and chocolate-makers to rescue him. What may not be equally obvious is that he's doing the same thing on the economic front. Having squandered his room for economic maneuver on tax cuts that pleased his party base but had nothing to do with job creation, Mr. Bush is now asking China to help him out.

Not, of course, that Mr. Bush admits to having made any mistakes. Indeed, Mr. Bush seems to have a serious case of "l'état, c'est moi": he impugns the patriotism of anyone who questions his decisions.

If you ask why he diverted resources away from hunting Al Qaeda, which attacked us, to invading Iraq, which didn't, he suggests that you're weak on national security. And it's the same for anyone who questions his economic record: "They tell me it was a shallow recession," he said Monday. "It was a shallow recession because of the tax relief. Some say, well, maybe the recession should have been deeper. That bothers me when people say that."

That is, if you ask why he pushed long-term tax cuts rather than focusing on job creation, he says you wanted a deeper recession. It bothers me when he says that.

September 4, 2003

White House Approved Departure of Saudis After Sept. 11, Ex-Aide Says


ASHINGTON, Sept. 3 — Top White House officials personally approved the evacuation of dozens of influential Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, from the United States in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when most flights were still grounded, a former White House adviser said today.

The adviser, Richard Clarke, who ran the White House crisis team after the attacks but has since left the Bush administration, said he agreed to the extraordinary plan because the Federal Bureau of Investigation assured him that the departing Saudis were not linked to terrorism. The White House feared that the Saudis could face "retribution" for the hijackings if they remained in the United States, Mr. Clarke said.

The fact that relatives of Mr. bin Laden and other Saudis had been rushed out of the country became public soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. But questions have lingered about the circumstances of their departure, and Mr. Clarke's statements provided the first acknowledgment that the White House had any direct involvement in the plan and that senior administration officials personally signed off on it.

September 4, 2003

U.S. Infrastructure Needs Seen at $1.6 Trillion

By Christina Ling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Just weeks after a massive blackout cut power to tens of millions of people in North America, a national engineering group warned on Thursday that much of the rest of the United States' infrastructure is also in dire need of overhaul.

The American Society of Civil Engineers said the total five-year cost of the work needed on items from roads to drinking water systems and schools has surged to $1.6 trillion from the $1.3 trillion it estimated two years ago.

September 2, 2003

Another Friday Outrage


When the E.P.A. makes our air dirtier, or the Interior Department opens a wilderness to mining companies, or the Labor Department strips workers of some more rights, the announcement always comes late on Friday — when the news is most likely to be ignored on TV and nearly ignored by major newspapers.

Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, announced settlements with energy companies accused of manipulating markets during the California energy crisis. Why on Friday? Because the settlements were a joke: the companies got away with only token payments. It was yet another demonstration of how electricity deregulation has gone wrong.

Most independent experts now believe that during 2000-2001, price manipulation by energy companies, mainly taking the form of "economic withholding" — keeping capacity offline to drive up prices — added billions of dollars to California's electricity bills. A March FERC report concluded that there had been extensive manipulation of prices in both the natural gas and electricity markets.

September 2, 2003

Bush Was All Too Willing to Use Émigrés' Lies

American experts urged the White House to be skeptical, but they hit a stone wall.

Robert Scheer,1,6022838,print.column?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

Oops. There are no weapons of mass destruction after all. That's the emerging consensus of the second team of weapons sleuths commanded by the U.S. in Iraq, as reported last week in the Los Angeles Times. The 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group found what the first wave of U.S. military experts and the United Nations inspectors before them discovered — nada.

Nothing, not a vial of the 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin or the 25,000 liters of anthrax or an ounce of the materials for the 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent claimed by George W. Bush in his State of the Union speech as justification for war. Nor any sign of the advanced nuclear weapons program, a claim based on a now-admitted forgery. Nor has anyone produced any evidence of ties between the deposed Hussein regime and the Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for 9/11.

The entire adventure was an immense fraud.

"We were prisoners of our own beliefs," a senior U.S. weapons expert who worked with the Iraq Survey Group told The Times. "We said Saddam Hussein was a master of denial and deception. Then when we couldn't find anything, we said that proved it, instead of questioning our own assumptions."

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