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worst record since President Hoover." - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
We Need the Public Utility Holding Company ActEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com – October 2, 2003
Public Citizen (www.Citizen.org) warned of the danger of exempting energy companies from the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA). NorthWestern Corp. managed to get an exemption from PUHCA in 2002 and it proved to be a disaster for utility customers.
NorthWestern went bankrupt. State regulators may now lose control over the bankruptcy proceedings. This could lead to higher electric rates in South Dakota and Montana.
If not for the PUHCA exemption, consumers and the states would be protected. Under PUHCA, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must approve any reorganization plan before it is presented to the bankruptcy court. Under PUHCA, the SEC can also force a company to separate the utility from telecommunications debt.
A bankruptcy judge can now saddle NorthWestern's subsidiaries with the $2.2 billion debt. This would mean that consumers would pick up the tab.
Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook said “The fact that ratepayers are on the hook is the latest testament to the importance of PUHCA. Congress must not repeal this vital act.”
PUHCA was not enacted to cover hypothetical events. It was enacted based on the experience of dozens of utility holding companies crashing in 1935. The law prevents greedy executives from siphoning off utility profits to engage in risky investment schemes. Energy corporations have proven that they do not need less regulation – they need all the regulation that they can get!
Energy corporations are lobbying hard to have PUHCA repealed. Congress has already repealed portions of PUHCA and this has been costly to the public. Without PUHCA, stable utilities can become casinos.
Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, said “Had NorthWestern stuck to its regulated business ventures and been subject to PUHCA regulation, it likely would not have been forced into bankruptcy. Even bankrupt, consumers at least would have had SEC bankruptcy protections. Despite being weakened, PUHCA still provides the federal government's strongest utility consumer protections, including protections during bankruptcy. That's why Congress must remove the provisions in the pending energy bill that would repeal PUHCA entirely. PUHCA must not be repealed, but strengthened.”
No PUHCA-regulated electric utility has gone bankrupt in the 68 years that PUHCA has been in effect. Only companies that have used a partial or full exemption from PUHCA have gone bankrupt.
The Bush Administration's War Against LaborThe Fort Worth Star-Telegram – by Molly Ivins - September 1, 2003
August 29, 2003
This poignant Labor Day, when the numbers are bad, the policies are worse and the jobs are disappearing, it's not so much the economy that riles me as the disrespect and the gratuitous contempt with which this administration treats working Americans. The old insult to injury.
If we've had an administration so blinkered by class blinders before, it is not within my memory. What these people know about working-class Americans would fit in a gnat's eye.
In the summer of 2002, when Ted Kennedy and the late Paul Wellstone were working to get an emergency extension on unemployment benefits - something that has been largely pro forma under earlier administrations - Majority Whip Tom DeLay protested that Democrats want "unlimited unemployment so people could stay out of work for the rest of their lives." Actually, 1 million unemployed workers already had exhausted their benefits before the House finally acted in January 2003, and were simply left in the streets with nothing under the too-little, too-late Bush bill.
The idea that workers lead the life of Riley on unemployment compensation and want to "stay out of work for the rest of the lives" is so blatantly untrue it would be comical, if one could dredge up a laugh. Anyone who has been through the mill of unemployment, with the endless rounds of appointments, waiting, applications, interviews, taking the bus to the job training program and finally walking when you can't afford a bus, knows precisely how insulting this hooey is.
In February 2003, one of the most extraordinary sessions ever recorded between labor and a sitting labor secretary took place. Secretary Elaine Chao, whose chief qualification for the job seems to be that she is the wife of conservative Sen. Mitch McConnell, met with the AFL-CIO's executive council. "Participants said Chao shocked the group by opposing any increase in the minimum wage, showing no sympathy for retired steelworkers who lost pension benefits, and reciting a list of legal actions her department has taken against unions and their leaders," reported The Washington Post. "We had a pretty unbelievable session," said John J. Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO. "She was angry at points, insulting at points. I said that in all my years in labor, I've never seen a secretary so anti-labor.
"There was a lot of shock and amazement in the room," said Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers. "We were made to feel we were the enemy." Fortunately, Chao's condescending, insulting and hostile performance quite united labor, including the building trades and the Teamsters, against the Bush administration. Nothing like a little old-fashioned solidarity.
Another insulting episode came when Bush named Eugene Scalia, son of the Supreme Court justice, solicitor of the Department of Labor, apparently as a cruel joke. Scalia's specialty as a K Street lobbyist was fighting ergonomic regulations.
For years he attacked and mocked the very idea of repetitive stress injuries, calling them "junk science," "exotic and absurd, like a trip through Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean." "Work less, and you'll feel better! Why I've experienced the same thing myself!"
He has written that heavy lifting does not cause back strain and reported increases in repetitive stress injuries are caused by "feeding frenzies." Try doing the same thing hundreds and hundreds of times an hour, hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Neither Scalia nor President Bush has ever held a job that involved physical labor.
One of this administration's first actions was to repeal the ergonomic regulations that prevent repetitive stress. Two years later, the administration solved the entire problem with characteristic brilliance - it revoked the provision requiring employers to report such injuries! This was almost as good as the time the administration solved global warming by simply editing it out of an environmental report.
Just the other day, Bush said he had been elected to "solve problems" and, boy does he. Even better, he has solving the entire problem of workplace injuries and deaths by trying to weaken OSHA. A new House bill would reduce penalties and weaken OSHA's enforcement powers to correct safety and health standards.
About 6 million American workers are injured on the job every year, and more die in workplace accidents annually than were killed during the Sept. 11 attacks. Ha, ha, ha, how funny, let's just have companies stop reporting these things.
I know as well as you do that many companies make a terrific effort on worker safety: Bush's first treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, was justly proud of the record at Alcoa (he's the one they fired, of course). Perhaps there are a few people on workers' comp who seem to have no trouble lifting their bass boats off the trailer. But I happen not to find thousands of dead and millions of injured workers annually funny. No one doubts that this administration will continue to shaft the workers of America - but I would appreciate it if they would can the sarcasm in the meantime.
GOP Members Turn on BushEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - September 1, 2003
The Charlotte Observer reported that since G. W. Bush’s poll ratings have started to drop, his own party members are turning on him. The Observer noted that the Republicans that are attacking Bush are “Concerned for their own political survival.”
There has been a frenzied effort to make political hay out of the massive Pillowtex layoff. Most politicians do not care if every laid off Pillowtex employee falls over dead. However, they are extremely concerned about the employees’ votes.
Representative Sue Myrick was the first Republican to criticize Bush for being “out of touch” on trade policies. Congressman Cass Ballenger also jumped on the band wagon. Congressman Walter Jones lambasted Bush on his trade policies.
Billy Moore, chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, understands the game. He said “They understand that if we continue to lose manufacturing jobs in the United States, their re-election is at risk. They understand that if people are unemployed, they're not going to vote in favor of the Bush administration.”
Some of these politicians would have more credibility, except that they have supported G. W. Bush in his free trade efforts. Were these politicians so inept as to not know that lay offs for Americans would be the reward for supporting Bush’s free trade agenda? More likely they did not care. They were just supporting anything that G. W. Bush wanted. Now, these same politicians do not want to be associated with free trade or Bush.
Congressman Robin Hayes cast the tie-breaking vote for fast-track. Fast-track gave G. W. Bush broad power to negotiate trade deals that would eventually cause more lay offs in the U. S. Sue Myrick, Cass Ballenger, and Richard Burr also voted for fast-track.
John Edwards Supports Strong Union LawsEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - September 1, 2003
On Labor Day, North Carolina Senator John Edwards will announce labor union legislation in Iowa, according to the Associated Press.
Highlights of the proposed legislation are:
Senator Edwards said “If we are serious about corporate responsibility, we have to hold corporations responsible when they break the law in order to break the union. If we want to help working men and women provide a better life for themselves and their families, then we need to protect the basic rights of American workers.”
John Edwards said that 20,000 workers a year are getting back wages because they were illegally fired.
So What's Behind the Bush Bash?The Charlotte Observer – by Don Hudson - August 30, 2003
(8/28/03) - Sue Myrick criticize President Bush? Isn't that like Bat Girl criticizing Batman? In SueWorld, Dubya is the alpha and omega. If he says drink the Kool-Aid, Myrick gulps.
But there it was. In print:
"If he doesn't care about us," the U.S. representative said Tuesday to the Gaston County Chamber of Commerce, "we won't care about him come election time."
Myrick called Bush "out of touch." Later, she said, "He was quick to help the steel industry, but not the textile industry."
Myrick should be concerned about the jobs the Carolinas are losing. To not address the thousands of out-of-work Pillowtex workers would be uncaring. And bad politics.
But rip Bush on this? It smacks of political expediency.
I talked to Myrick Tuesday night at a meeting of two Republican women's clubs. She made it clear she still supports the president, just not his trade policies.
Still, her criticism is news. Few presidents have enjoyed more partisan support, and Myrick is a Bush loyalist.
Granted, there's lots of reasons to criticize Bush now. His unilateralist foreign policy decisions, from the early days of his administration to his shoddy planning of postwar Iraq, have left the United States a pariah to much of the world.
Throw in a $455 billion budget deficit and the administration's rubbery use of the truth, and criticism is unavoidable. But to rip him on these lost jobs ignores history, specifically the 1994 loosening of overseas trade quotas that have made it easier for foreign producers to saturate textiles and other U.S. markets with much cheaper goods, says U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C.
Largely because of that move, Spratt says, China has a $16 billion textile surplus with the United States, and we ran a $60 billion trade deficit for textiles and apparel in 2002.
Bush wasn't running the country in 1994.
But, when Bush did ask for more trade freedom, pushing for the "fast-track" trade authority in 2001 that made it easier for companies to take jobs overseas, Myrick voted for it. She voted to keep China's favored-nation status, which will enable the country to further expand into U.S. markets.
Myrick correctly points out that the United States is losing its manufacturing base. Which is one reason Bush intervened in steel. Further, the steel industry is more important to national security than textiles, and operates in states that Bush needs for re-election.
Conversely, Bush couldn't lose the Carolinas if he tried.
But members of Congress feel vulnerable. Myrick looks to be covering her seat.
Are there solutions? Myrick said it's up to Bush. She said he needs to revise his policies and "tell people he cares" that they are losing jobs.
The truth is, no matter how bad she wants to help, Myrick didn't offer any hope Tuesday to people who are hurting. Instead, she gave them hollow rhetoric about being fed up.
"I am kind of on the war path," Myrick said. "I am `grrrr,' ready to move forward."
It sounded good, Sue's tirade. But let's watch what she says when she goes back to Washington. Come election time, Bush will be her solution, not her problem.
Previous Sue Myrick articles:
Federal Agencies Turn on CitizensEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - August 27, 2003
The only chance American citizens had against huge corporations was the federal agencies that had the power to police them. But now, these agencies exists in name only. They are turning on the citizens that they were designed to protect.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), that once helped keep corporations in line, is now advocating that retirees lose their earned corporate pensions and be at the mercy of Medicare. This will not help the retirees, but it will put millions of dollars in the executives’ pockets.
Congressman Bernie Sanders said that the EEOC has dismissal of the age discrimination complaints filed by approximately 100 laid-off IBM employees in Vermont. Mr. Sanders has written the EEOC a letter of protest.
The Treasury Department used to help employees maintain their pensions. But it recently proposed regulations that would have legalized age discrimination in cash balance pension plans. Strong public protest killed the proposal – for now.
The IRS once helped keep corporations in line. But The National Law Journal suggested that the IRS may implement its own regulations to rubber stamp cash balance plans. This could thwart a federal court ruling that cash balance plans are age discriminatory, if enacted soon enough.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sounds a lot like an agency that would protect the environment from greedy corporate CEO’s. But now, it is rolling back laws to allow utilities, oil companies and manufacturers to spew more pollution. Here’s a good one: The claim is that relaxing air pollution rules for industrial plants will cut emissions and health risks! Will a whack in the head with a sledge hammer cure a headache? If the whack is hard enough it will. The patient will be dead, but no more headache!
A reasonable question is: Where did the EPA get the data to support its outrageous claim? The General Accounting Office said “Because it lacked comprehensive data, EPA relied on anecdotes from the four industries it believes are most affected,” according to the Associated Press.
Independent Senator Sen. James Jeffords said “They don't like to get the facts in the way of their frenzy to rollback important environmental and public health protections.”
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said “Its supposed scientific data sullies and demeans environmental science itself. This report should be the final nail in the coffin of environmental credibility for this administration.”
The New York Times reported that the EPA lied to the people after 9/11 and said the air was safe to breathe. It turns out that some pollutants were up to 1,500 times over normal levels! Why did the EPA tell such a lie? Because the White House asked the EPA to tell it.
Cheney Continues to Hide Energy DataEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - August 26, 2003
The General Accounting Office (GAO) charged VP Dick Cheney with refusing to turn over key energy task force documents, according to Reuters. GAO investigators said Cheney stymied their investigation.
The investigative arm of Congress said that it is impossible to tell how much energy companies may have influenced the task force, without the records.
The GAO report prompted more complaints in Congress.
Congressman John Dingell said “This report is a sad chronicle of the efforts of the office of the vice president to hide its activities from the American people.”
Many suspect the energy industry had a free hand in influencing the task force. The GAO report documented that the task force met with a string of energy industry lobbyists and executives.
So far, all information turned over by Cheney has been useless.
More on the secret energy meetings:
Bad Rule = Bad AirThe Charlotte Observer – Editorial - August 25, 2003
(8/24/03) - The Bush administration is about to undercut the federal Clean Air Act and allow industries to ignore a 1977 regulation that requires industrial polluters to install new pollution control equipment when they modify their plants.
The new rule will allow plants to ignore the pollution control upgrades -- even if it means more pollution -- so long as the cost of the modification is less than one-fifth the cost of replacing the entire unit. It is the worst example yet of President Bush's weak environmental policy, particularly because it will make it harder for individual states to clean up air pollution. An aide to the president's choice for director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, has called the new rule a "train wreck" because of the burdens it will place on states.
It's certainly a blow to North Carolina's admirable, bipartisan efforts to improve air quality here. Last year a group of Republican and Democratic legislators, the Easley administration, environmental groups and the utility industry -- with strong backing from Duke Energy and Progress Energy -- signed off on the N.C. Clean Smokestacks Act. The new law will significantly reduce emissions at the state's 14 coal-fired power plants. The bill was a win for everyone involved -- particularly the citizens of North Carolina.
The new Bush administration rule won't affect Clean Smokestacks Act enforcement in North Carolina, but it directly threatens North Carolina's attempts to clean up its air. This state is affected by air that blows in on prevailing weather patterns from the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Ohio Valley.
That air is likely to worsen, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. If the new rule had been in force, the U.S. Justice Department could not have pursued Clean Air Act violations at nine TVA plants or at an Ohio Edison Plant.
The cost of pollution equipment isn't the only expense involved. The human costs of air pollution must be calculated, too. One EPA contractor has estimated that failure to install proper equipment at 51 plants charged with violations has resulted in sufficient pollution to cause up to 8,000 premature deaths and 120,000 asthma attacks each year.
President Bush's lack of concern about the environment -- made painfully evident through his administration's policy on air pollution, water quality, forestry and global warning -- is deeply troubling. So is his administration's fondness for misrepresenting facts about the environment and for hiding the identities of energy industry groups and companies that met with Vice President Cheney while drawing up the administration's energy agenda -- including some that made significant contributions to the Bush campaign in 2000.
The new air rules are unhealthy. They mean that states trying to clean up their own air will have to fight their own federal government to do it. That's plain nuts.
‘I Will be Found Dead in the Woods’Employee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - August 21, 2003
Reuters reported that weapons expert David Kelly predicted his own death six month ago. Mr. Kelly, a former Iraq weapons inspector, revealed to the BBC that Iraq weapons reports were being greatly exaggerated. Mr. Kelly was found dead in the woods last month.
An investigation into his death revealed that a British diplomat asked Mr. Kelly what would happen if Baghdad was attacked. Mr. Kelly answered: “I will be found dead in the woods.”
Mr. Kelly was described by a former boss as a man “welded to the truth.” Such men can “upset the political apple cart.”
Prime Minister Tony Blair and G. W. Bush have been accused of exaggerating the Iraq weapons threat to further their own political agendas.
Mr. Kelly’s death has been called a suicide.
Bush Couldn’t Save Kenny-Boy EitherEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - August 20, 2003
Sometimes corporations get too sloppy when they think that they have the heat bought off. It happened to Enron. Enron provided G. W. Bush with lavish donations and even provided jets to campaign in. Kenny-boy Lay thought that if Bush was for him, who could be against him? Enron went a little too far and Bush sacrificed Kenny-boy. The politician’s creed is: “I’ll take your money, but I will not stick my neck out to protect you.”
As it turns out, FirstEnergy was a big contributor to G. W. Bush, according to The Washington Post. FirstEnergy Chairman and CEO H. Peter Burg helped host a $600,000 fundraiser for Bush, on June 30. V. P. Cheney got in on the act as the featured speaker. FirstEnergy executives contributed about $50,000 to Bush. Over $3.6 million was given to Bush by Energy and natural resource interests, according to the group's figures. FirstEnergy President and COO Anthony J. Alexander was a "Pioneer" for Bush's last campaign. This means he raised at least $100,000 for Bush. Also, Alexander contributed $100,000 to Bush's inaugural committee.
Bush is for easing nuclear regulations and Cheney is for giving “incentives” to energy companies.
What has FirstEnergy done lately? It has managed to get to be the prime suspect for causing last week's cascading blackouts.
What else is FirstEnergy involved in? It happens to own Davis-Bessie Nuclear Plant. That’s the one with a hole in the reactor head, that was only a fraction of an inch from “blowing.” The metal left was bulged out from the reactor pressure. If the hole had blown through, the NRC may have forced massive shut downs of nuclear reactors across the U. S. as a precautionary measure.
The Davis-Besse reactor is a clone of the infamous reactor at Three Mile Island. Nuclear Regulatory Commission found the hole by accident. This major defect went uncovered for so long, because of the shady practices of management. The NRC has not allowed the reactor to restart. There seems to be some unresolved trust issues.
Lawmakers have questioned if the Bush administration has coddled electric companies. Bush has long personal ties to the energy industry.
If lawmakers are going to overrule Bush and investigate FirstEnergy, there are some more matters that need investigating. The list of energy executives that formed Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force should be made public. Bush and Cheney have been keeping this information under wraps since day one.
All the seemingly random bits of information fit together to form a very ugly picture.
“Bush's campaign had no comment.”
The Greatest Photo Op on EarthEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - August 20, 2003
The Washington Post reported that G. W. Bush is backpedaling on his comment: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Sometime, during his month long vacation, he happen to notice that fighting was still going on in Iraq.
Bush turned his announcement about the end of fighting into the grandest photo op of all time. He arrived on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln via a fighter jet, sporting a flight suit borrowed from a real U. S. fighter. The White House spin was that the carrier was too far away to be reached by helicopter. It was later revealed that Ms. Rice flew to the carrier before Bush – on a helicopter!
When Bush’s hand was called in an interview with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, Bush interrupted the questioner.
Bush was asked about: "the end of combat operations."
Bush interrupted and replied “Actually, major military operations. Because we still have combat operations going on. It's a different kind of combat mission, but, nevertheless, it's combat, just ask the kids that are over there killing and being shot at.”
Bush evidently was not too concerned about “the kids that are over there killing and being shot at” when he challenged Iraqi terrorists to “Bring them on.”
After the May 1 photo op, the White House Web site headline was "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended."
In the May 1 speech, Bush said “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.”
Bush is splitting hairs and parsing sentences to disguise the fact that he thought that occupying Iraq would be a cakewalk. Bush has sacrificed lives and blown billions of dollars only to place the Iraqi people in worse living conditions than ever.
The Iraqi people do not want American troops in Iraq. American troops do not want to be in Iraq. The public does not want its money squandered.
What did Americans get for this expenditure of blood and money? We gained the opportunity to see G. W. Bush strut around in a flight suit. Sorry, there are no admission refunds.
Citizens Demand More Than Photo OpssEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - August 20, 2003
At last! Some citizens are demanding more from their elected officials than an occasional photo op. The Bradenton Herald reported that Representative Katherine Harris faced pointed questions at a town meeting.
She angered citizens by confiscating all written material brought to the meeting.
Tony Fransetta, president of the Florida chapter of AARP, said “This is wrong. We have never been restricted in what we could hand out at other town meetings. We have talking points that simply list questions that would help people better understand and articulate their concerns. They have been denied that right.”
Pat Benson of Bradenton said “This never happened at Dan Miller's meetings." She was referring to Harris' predecessor in Congress.
A staffer claimed the literature was taken to comply with ethics laws.
Larry Winawer, of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said “What kind of ethic laws prevent people from having information in front of them so they can ask reasonable questions? I have never heard of such a thing.”
After the citizens’ literature had been confiscated, Ms. Harris proceeded to distribute her own literature. Now it’s clear. Citizens can have literature, but it must be the right kind of literature!
The propaganda distributed by Ms. Harris stated that Bush’s economic plans are restoring confidence and creating growth. Bush’s nifty Medicare reforms were also lauded.
Ms. Harris only spoke for half of her allotted time and then asked for questions. But she would not answer questions as they were asked. She insisted on hearing all of the questions first. This further angered the hundreds of citizens. Over loud boos, one man shouted “We want our answers now.” Long lines formed at the microphones and the boos continued.
Many citizens were upset over the Medicare proposals before Congress. The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union and the Association of Community for Reform Now, were represented at the meeting.
Questions were asked about: phosphate mining, funding for Head Start, veterans benefits, budget deficits, the daily cost of the Iraq War, environmental concerns, fiscal policies, health care reform, medical malpractice crisis, and the proposed prescription plans.
When Ms. Harris said that she would take only one more question, the room erupted into more boos. Ms. Harris allowed no follow-up questions.
Becky Martin, of the League of Women Voters for Manatee County, said “As a constituent, I was disappointed that there was only an hour allotted for this. Here in Manatee County we deserve more than an hour for a town hall meeting with everything that is going on in the world. We need a town hall meeting on Medicare privatization alone.”
Apparently, political sound bites and photo opss are no longer cutting it.
Rumsfeld Led Bush to WarAFP - August 19, 2003
(8/17/03) - ATHENS - A former US diplomat who resigned over the Iraq war described US President George W. Bush as a "very weak" man led by the hand into battle by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Brady Kiesling, who was political counsellor at the US embassy in Athens at the time of his resignation in February, said in an open letter published by Greek daily To Vima that Rumsfeld exploited the war to increase his own power. Kiesling -- whose warning that US aims in Iraq were "incompatible with American values" struck a chord with the predominantly anti-war Greeks -- described Bush as "a politician who badly wants to appear strong but in reality is very weak."
He said Rumsfeld led Bush by the hand into war, marginalized the secret services who had doubts about the war, and emerged as the top politician in Washington.
"Easy to convince, (Bush) blindly believed in Rumsfeld's assurances that the occupation of Iraq would pay for itself," Kiesling said.
"The longer we remain in Iraq, the more the resistance to the American presence is going to be a source of legitimacy for the extremists," he said. He called for an expanded role for the United Nations and the European Union in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Kiesling said he regretted that US intelligence services had not spoken out about untruths concerning Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which he added had humiliated the United States and damaged its closest ally, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain.
Cheney's Secret Energy Task Force ListBaltimore.IndyMedia.org – by Cheryl Seal - August 17, 2003
“Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County,
(4/18/03) - The list of "task force" members has been jealously guarded by Cheney because it is, in essence, a list of top contributors to the Bush campaign. These contributors were not just rewarded with slots on the task force list, but showered with favors that came at a devastating cost to America. At least one of the names on the list, a little bird reports, are top execs at the Peabody Coal Company, the largest, most ruthless barons in the world, infamous for originating the practice of ripping off the tops of mountains to get cheaply and easily at coal. Where Peabody has gone in, environmental devastation has followed. Many a coal miner's life has been lost, either catastrophically through accidents, or slowly and painfully through black lung, through Peabody's routine practice of failing to comply with safety standards, then covering up the evidence…
Until Bush was elected, progress was being made toward putting a leash on the coal companies wanton excesses against humankind and the ecosystem. A push was even being made to phase out coal-powered power plants, the chief sources of major greenhouse gases today. American coal-powered plants pump 2.3 billion tons of CO2 into the air each year. That is twice as much as the amount of C02 emitted by vehicles.
But then along came Bush. Peabody and affiliates dumped nearly $1 million into the Idiot Prince's campaign. The reward? Cheney's final energy report, released in May 16 of 2001, just 4 months after the inauguration, called for additional coal production and for SCORES of new dulfur-dioxide-belching coal-fired power plants to be built across the nation. There is strong suspicion by many environmentalists and people inside the energy field that the "rolling blackouts" of the same time were designed to create a crisis that could be used to promote wholesale construction of new coal-fired power plants. It worked. On May 21, 2001, Peabody issued a public stock offering, raising $60 million more than expected. The SAME DAY, Peabody threw a party for Bush to the tune of $25,000. Shortly thereafter, clean air standards for power plant emissions were rolled back - despite Bush's phony campaign promise to restrict power plant emission.
By the way, want to know why Bush proposed easing the standards for arsenic in drinking water? It was because Irl Engelhardt, chairman of Peabody had lobbied for it. So, the safety of the water drunk by 260 MILLION Americans was worth less than one million dollars in campaign dollars and one post-inauguration party to Bush. Just think what he'd sell out for a few million more!.
Peabody's influence now extends to the Supreme Court. In May of 2002, Bush's pressured John Ashcroft (not that it took much) to favor Peabody in a lawsuit brought by the Navajo Nation against the coal company. Not surprisingly, the sell-out court ruled in favor of the coal barons and against the tribe shortly thereafter, setting a miserable precedent that says, in essence, Big Bucks rule in all departments of the US government under Bush.
The ruling also sent another message: the Navajo, and any economically challenged minorities are fair game for the big polluters. Need a power plant or a chemical plant built? Put it in a ghetto or on a reservation. Even as Bush was invading Iraq in question of more oil and big reconsturction contracts for his friends, the Houston-based Steag Corporation announced its plan to build a new power plant on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, an area where many are without basic amenities, including running water and electricity, an area where cancer rates from coal mining pollution are already anomalously high. Where would the power from the plant go? To Texas.
In short, under G. W. Bush, we have returned to the era of the late 1800s and early 1900s in which Big Business can get away with anything - from poisoning millions to murder (those thousands of civilians in Iraq, slaughtered in the name of Bechtel, Halliburton, and ExxonMobil.
Forgive Me. I Voted for George W. Bush.BuzzFlash.com – by James C. Moore - August 17, 2003
(8/15/03) - Nothing prepared me for what has happened in America under George W. Bush. In Texas, he was, politically, fairly moderate. Actually, he was even, for one brief moment, courageous, and exhibited leadership. A fiscal conservative streak ran through his policies, but not so much that they deeply harmed Texas’ already austere social services. And when the governor sent his messages to the right, they were armored with logic, not vitriol. He was a man of obvious common sense, and charm.
As a result, I voted for George Walker Bush. And now I need forgiveness.
I bear some personal guilt for what is happening to our country. Frankly, like a lot of Americans, I got had. George W. Bush’s policies are so astoundingly radical, and his politics so amazingly cynical, that he is not only harming our government for decades to come, he and Karl Rove are robbing Americans of what little faith they had left in the democratic process.
Reporting on Bush and Rove in Texas for a couple of decades, it was simple to deconstruct their maneuvers, and hold them up to the light of the Texas sun. Nonetheless, there was an underlying logic to many of their strategies, which appealed to the public. After James Byrd was dragged to death in East Texas, a legislative effort in Austin attempted to pass a hate crimes bill. Bush and Rove stopped it cold with nothing more than language. The governor said, "All crimes like murder are hate crimes." Obviously, he was sending a message to the conservative right that he didn't think gays or minorities needed special protection under the law. Rove didn't want such legislation haunting Mr. Bush out on the presidential trail. And this was the kind of Spartan, uncluttered rationale that seduces Texans.
The governor even showed political vision. His first legislative session, Mr. Bush attempted to deal with Texas property taxes. Texas has the worst property taxes in the union because lawmakers here refuse to pass an income tax to more evenly distribute revenue responsibilities for funding schools. Business gets a pass while homeowners bear the weight. Business, also, is in charge of the state’s politics. When the governor took on the issue, he got handed his political guts in a bucket. Karl Rove kept his distance from the task, knowing Bush would learn a basic lesson. Mr. Bush told me later, "I'll never do anything like that again unless there are tens of thousands of people standing on the capitol grounds chanting at me." And he didn't .
None of this, though, offered any real clue as to what kind of a president George W. Bush might be, unless this was a carefully orchestrated charade. As the campaign wore on, and I stumbled in and out of the Bush press plane for weeks on end, the only news I got about Al Gore was on late night television, before fading off to sleep, or from other reporters traveling with the vice president. On morning flights between campaign stops, I read newspapers, trying to get more insight into a Gore presidency. I was distanced from Mr. Gore by his overwhelming angst, an almost craven desire to hold the office. His politics, ultimately, appealed to me more than Mr. Bush’s. But Al Gore just wanted the job too damned badly for me to get comfortable with him. When I saw him render his life of public service into a caricature during the televised debates, my decision was all but made. I knew Bush better, and trusted his heart.
Boy howdy, did I screw up.
Bush and Rove are deploying a political style that transcends cynicism. They have begun a new American campaign, where the only constituency of merit is the gigantic corporation, which supplies the money for an overwhelming marketing campaign. The president is now, more than ever in our history, a product to be branded and sold. Unfortunately, there is no lemon law governing the presidency. We can't get our money or our votes back when we discover we’ve bought something defective. We’re stuck until the next election.
This approach works because Mr. Rove relies on Americans to be too busy with their daily lives to pay attention to the details. The president can land on an aircraft carrier, and comport himself as a warrior leader without fear of accusations of hypocrisy because the media has been cowed, and the public has a short memory. George W. Bush avoided combat in Vietnam by using family privilege, and connections, and then disappeared from his champagne flight unit for the last two years of his hitch. Had our soldiers in Iraq been as capricious about their commitments to America, what might have happened? Yet he dared to stand in their honored midst and suggest to us that he was one of their number. Rove was right. We weren't listening.
Our troops now move around Iraq, their lives potentially jeopardized by every person passing on the street, and the Bush White House quietly is cutting both their combat pay and family separation allowance. A modest monthly stipend of $150 was raised to $225 for "imminent danger" pay, and is being reduced to its original level. The family separation payment of $100 a month was raised to $250, an amount designed to help families pay bills while their soldiers are off working for America. But Mr. Bush is planning to cut that figure back to its original level.
As the first shipload of soldiers was leaving from San Diego, California, the administration was pulling a federal supplement from local schools, which would harm education for the children of our troops. Because the San Diego Independent School District cannot levy taxes against federal property when students live on base, the government provides a payment to help the school district fund the education of the children of our servicemen and women. George Bush is eliminating this money. Ultimately, this means not only do the children of our military endure larger classes, less qualified teachers, and poor curriculum, so does everyone else’s child.
Perhaps, Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove are finally getting our attention.
I find it disturbing when the president can stand in front of television cameras, his crooked Texas smirk hiding his true character, and tell us he is worried about people without jobs and his tax cut will help them find employment. He says such things even as Nobel laureate economists are pouring ridicule over his policies and financial behemoths like Warren Buffet are scoffing. The photo-op presidency holds a news conference to sign the "Leave No Child Behind Act" with Sen. Ted Kennedy, and then guts $8 billion from its budget, after forcing federal mandates on schools with no money to pay for implementation. Sen. Kennedy, I’m afraid, got had, too.
There is neither time nor space to even begin to write of the Bush administration’s hypocrisies and deceptions. History will, eventually, conclude that his reckless taxation reduction and deficit increases, his disingenuous campaigning and rhetoric, imperialist foreign policies, and corporate greed moved America closer to its recessional from the grand stage of true liberty and equality. The only way to stop this cascade of wrongs is for voters to take their citizenship more seriously. Democracy only works when the electorate is vigilant, and informed. Rove knows we’re too busy worrying about jobs, mortgages, and lost retirement funds, to closely monitor the president’s work. He’s right. And George W. Bush is doing as he pleases, not as Americans prefer.
And because I voted for him, some of this is being done in my name.
Please forgive me.
James C. Moore is the co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W.Bush Presidential"
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Who Aided 9/11 Hijackers?Employee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - August 3, 2003
G. W. Bush put a lot of effort in trying to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attack. This assumption appears to have been just an opinion of Bush, since all evidence points to the contrary. However, there is now evidence that ties Saudi Arabian government to the attack, according to The Los Angeles Times.
G. W. Bush is keeping the documents classified. Those who have read the documents have provided a clue as to what they contain. Allegations include hundreds of millions of dollars in aid going to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
A U. S. official mentioned “very direct, very specific links … that cannot be passed off as rogue, isolated or coincidental.”
Another official said “It's really damning. What it says is that not only Saudi entities or nationals are implicated in 9/11, but the [Saudi] government…”
Dozens of lawmakers have asked the Bush administration to declassify the documents. Even Saudi officials want the documents to be made public! But Bush is a very secretive person. Is he afraid the documents will prove that he ignored or twisted the facts to justify attacking Iraq?
One source said “If this comes out, it will blow the top off the relations with [the Saudi] government because the American people will just be outraged…People don't know how much is in there and how specific it is…The public hasn't gotten anywhere near the meat of it.”
This whole affair stinks to high heaven. What was Bush’s answer to the turmoil? Well, he decided to take a vacation for a month!
9/11 Report was Deliberately DelayedEmployee Advocate - DukeEmployees.com - August 3, 2003
The Bush administration has been accused of deliberately stalling the 9/11 report, according to UPI. Max Cleland, a former senator, made the charge. He said that the White House wanted the report to be under wraps until the war with Iraq has been started. The administration did not want facts to interfere with the promotion of the war.
Mr. Cleland said “The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaida) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war. There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of bin Laden's terrorist followers.
“What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends … The reason this report was delayed for so long -- deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created -- is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over ... before (it) came out.
“Had this report come out in January like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration.”
Dumb and DumberEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - July 31, 2003
One of the dumbest inventions in history has to be energy pollution credits. Companies that really want to pollute only have to buy some pollution credits and let the toxic gasses fly. Companies that beat the pollution standards can sell the credits. These credits do not have a stable price; they are traded on a futures exchange! Some tout the credits as a way to lower pollution. If the standards were strictly enforced and credits were not available, pollution levels would drop. Pollution credits are a way to legally break the law by paying money. Pollution credits are a way for someone to make money off of pollution.
Leave it up to the federal government to try to implement something even dumber than pollution credits. The New York Times credits John Poindexter with devising an online futures contract where terrorism could be traded! He envisioned contracts being traded on when terrorists would attack, who would be assassinated, and where the next coup would take place. Some people were going wild over the idea. They thought is was the greatest thing ever.
If such an exchange existed in 2001, Osama bin Laden could have called up and bought a few thousand contracts on the World Trade Center biting the dust. There would have been countless traders eager to sell contracts on such a seemingly remote possibility.
The goofy idea was only floated for a few days before it was cancelled by embarrassed Pentagon officials.
The Times stated: “The next logical step is to fire Mr. Poindexter.”
The "Policy Analysis Market" was actually scheduled to open on Oct. 1! Senators Ron Wyden and Byron Dorgan blew the whistle on the cockamamie idea.
Other “great” ideas of Mr. Poindexter include the Total Information Awareness Boondoggle. It was to keep electronic dossier on millions of Americans to prevent terrorism. The Senate voted to terminate funds for the program.