Politics: July 2002 Archives

Yay! A new episode.

I haven't seen much coverage of this.

For 6 days, hundreds of oil workers have been trapped in a Nigerian oil terminal (owned by Chevron Texaco) by hundreds of women from surrounding villages, demanding jobs for their sons and electricity for their homes.

As many as 600 women from villages around the terminal took over the multinational Escravos plant on Monday, saying they want the company to hire their sons and use some of the region's oil riches to develop their remote, rundown communities.

Nigeria is the world's sixth-largest oil exporter -- and the fifth-biggest supplier of U.S. oil imports -- in major part because of the vast reserves of the Niger Delta here. Yet the people in the Niger Delta are among the country's poorest.

Unarmed but unbudging, the women have blocked access to the helipad, airstrip and docks that provide the only exits for the facility, which is surrounded by rivers and swamps.


In the terminal airfield, two dozen women danced in the rain alongside four helicopters and a plane, chanting: "This is our land."

So just go and read the latest Mark Morford column.

Of course we're at war. Just look at all those flags stuck in all those manicured lawns, the ominous United We Stand billboards, the all-new 2003 Ford Excursion now with room for 13 and a full 10mpg Highway/7mpg City, all the cheap plastic stars-and-stripes kitsch at the Hallmark store, Made in Malaysia.


Of course we're at war. Witness all the angry puffed-up deflections, every reproach of the president and every suspicious glance in the direction of his corporatized administration instantly retorted with a nice "how dare you don't you know we're at war" or maybe "the president has a great deal on his very compact little mind right now and he can't be bothered with the details of, you know, rampant favoritism and hypocrisy."


And it's becoming increasingly difficult to find anyone but the truest I-believe-everything-Ari-Fleischer-says jingoists who actually believes this "war" has become anything but a grand excuse, a marvelously leveragable plaything which the Bush cadre can point to as their very own personal holy shroud, some sort of sacrosanct shield to protect them from criticism and claims of blatant impropriety and selling the nation's soul for pennies on the barrel.

Vice President Cheney appeared in a promotional video for Arthur Andersen in 1996, when he was CEO of Halliburton. There are some prophetic quotes:

"I get good advice, if you will, from their people based upon how we're doing business and how we're operating over and above the just sort of normal by-the-book auditing arrangement," Mr Cheney says in a short section of the video.

Great column by Arianna.

To the ever-growing mountain of evidence that corporate kingpins live in an entirely different world from the rest of us, we can add the latest revelations about the gargantuan loans CEOs receive from their companies: the $408 million WorldCom loaned to former boss Bernie Ebbers a month before thousands of employees began getting their pink slips, the $3.1 billion Adelphia Communications loaned to John Rigas and his kin, the $162 million Conseco loaned to Stephen Hilbert, the $88 million Tyco loaned to Dennis Kozlowski and the millions upon millions in less ostentatious — but no less outrageous — raids on company coffers by senior executives across the corporate landscape.


WorldCom — which defaulted on $4.2 billion of its own loans yesterday — is charging Ebbers 2.3% on the $408 million he owes.

Professional stand-up comedians know that Sept. 11 jokes are radioactive. Not even the bravest have tried to turn the deaths of some 3,000 people into a laughing matter. But President Bush has forged ahead anyway. Bush has now been telling the same, spectacularly tasteless joke to a variety of mostly Republican audiences as part of his stock stump speech for the better part of four months now.

This is its basic telling:

"You know, when I was running for president, in Chicago, somebody said, would you ever have deficit spending? I said, only if we were at war, or only if we had a recession, or only if we had a national emergency. Never did I dream we’d get the trifecta."

According to the transcripts, this joke usually elicits laughter from the mostly GOP crowds to whom Bush tells it.

Not only is the joke tasteless -- lucky me we got 3,000 Americans killed -- it's not even true. The president never mentioned those conditions in his campaign, or while pushing his huge tax cuts.
Bush was already facing the certainty of deficit spending at the end of the summer of 2001, well before the attacks of Sept. 11. Some $4 trillion worth of budget surplus vanished over the spring and summer that year, and budget experts sounded the alarm about looming deficits then. The Congressional Budget Office warned Bush on Aug. 29 that Social Security funds would be needed to balance the books, forcing him to abandon a campaign promise not to use the retirement fund for other government spending.

His tax cuts are the reason for the deficit, and most of them haven't taken effect yet.

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from July 2002.

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