"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


A review of George W. Bush's history with the SEC leads one to wonder what the SEC could possibly find wrong with Bill Frist's selling of HCA stock from his blind trust.

Despite legal advice not to sell, George W. Bush unloaded his Harken stock soon after he learned the company was in deep trouble, and before the stock tanked. He had previously failed to meet SEC filing deadlines in othr matters. Nevertheless, the SEC did not even bother to interview him.

It is almost impossible to believe Bush was not using nonpublic information unless one assumed that he did not read reports or listen to what was occurring at meetings. In Frist's case, there is less reason for suspicion. He was told in 2002 what stock the trust held, but in 2003, he told interviewers that he did not know if HCA was in the portfolio. Under his unusual trust rules, he had a right to know what was there and to order a stock sold.

HCA was founded by his father Thomas Frist, and once run by Thomas Jr. Company officials sold off over $100 million in stocks before the firm announced that second quarter earnings would not live up to expectations. The senator ordered his sale in June and the stock was sold when it was near its peak.

Unlike the Bush case, there is room to doubt that the Tennessee senator held nonpublic knowledge and acted on it. Perhaps he had not discussed the hospital chain with his family.
How can it be proven that he did??? His investment in the firm was between $7 and $35 million. Maybe he weas not interested in the family business.

Frist's friend, SEC chair Christopher Shays has recused himself from this case, but it is a stretch to believe that his subordinates wopuld move against Frist. In the Bush case, the SEC chair was a Bush family friend who did not even bother to recuse himself.

The investigation is more likely an effort to remove this matter from the table before Frist runs for the GOP presidential nomination in 2004. A favorble SEC report and the blessing of his evangelical allies will be sufficient to make the matter disappear. To this day, the mainstream press has shown little interest in George W. Bush's SEC problems. It can be assumed that self-censorship will continue after the SEC clears Bill Frist.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Before the Hurricane
In the Reagan Administration, there was a concerted effort to get FEMA out of the disaster business, shifting the responsibility to local and state government. If you do some research of a FEMA conference at University of Miami in mid-eighties, you will learn what the new mission was to be. In 2001, Bush wanted to pick up where Reagan left off. Joe Albaugh, a Bush friend and campaign manager, took over FEMA and said FEMA should scale back its activities and leave disasters primarily to state and local government. He said the agency was "n oversized entitlement program" and said states should reply on faith-based organizations ...like the Salvation Army." Later, when Bush hugged the two distraught women in Louisiana, all he could say was that the Salvation Army would attend to their needs.

In 2002, Michael Parker, a former Republican Congressman from Florida, was forced to resign as head of the Corps of Engineers. He had protested drastic funding cuts.

By 2003, plans were developed to take FEMA out of the disaster business. This outlook might explain why Governor Blanco had so many problems contacting the president and other ranking officials by telephone. The plan assumed disaster work would be carried out by private enterprise. Plerasant Mann, head of the union for PHEMA employees, noted that Our professional staff are being replaced by politically connected novices and contractors....A lot of the institutional knowledge is gone."

The new orientation included shutting down successful Project Impact, created under Clinton, which mitigated damage by moving and elevated "repetitive loss"dwellings most likely to be hit by storms. FEMA has estimated that mitigation saved two dollars for every one spent. Eventually it was replaced with a much smaller operation that could only be employed by wealthy communities able to provide matching funds.

Max Mayfield , head of the National Hurricane Center, briefed Secretary Chertoff on what would happen when th4e level four hurricane struck New Orleans. Mayfield warned that the levees could be overwhelmed. He also briefed President Bush via conference call. Later, Bush, Chertoff, and Brown all said they were surprised by what happened. Bush later told Diane Sawyer that he didn’t think anyone thought the levees would break. But Mayfield commented, "It was not like this was a surprise."

In 2004, FEMA disaster relief activity in Florida had more to do with reelecting George W. Bush than helping people. Republican areas in Miami-Dade were receiving windfall payments even though Hurricane Frances barely touched the area. The South Florida Sun Sentianal obtained Jeb Bush’s e-mail correspondence with FEMA, which showed the FEMA operation there was about indirectly purchasing votes.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency on August 26 and asked for federal help on August 27. Then George W. .Bush declared a state of emergency, but his document did not include New Orleans or some other coastal areas among those eligible for assistance.

The Bush administration reduced by 44% the amount that had been appropriated under Clinton to protect New Orleans. Among the items slashed was money for more pumping stations. The 2005 budget eliminated all money to improve the New Orleans hurricane plan. To be fair to Bush, there was some work funded to repair the levees, and the two breaks occurred where some repairs were made. In 2004, federal funds for the levee was cut to a trickle. The East Jefferson Levee Authority managed to find $2, 250,000 by raising property taxes to make some repairs. Lacking funds, the local Corps of Engineers imposed a hiring freeze.

Democratic Mayor Ray Negin "strongly encouraged" people to evacuate New Orleans but he did not do much to help those without transportation to leave. We will hear his defense when a Jount Congressional Committee looks into the disaster. Democrats on the committee have not been given the power to issue subpoenas, meaning they cannot pursue independent lines of inquiry.

Pedestrians tried to escape New Orleans via the Greater New Orleans Bridge but were turned back by the police from the integrated suburb of Gretna, Louisiana. A black councilman and policemen agreed there were no resources to share with the displacees.

To the East, St. Bernard Parish authorities blocked roads with cars and trucks.

After the Hurricane Struck

Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley offered to send 100 policemen, 36 firemen, 140 street and sanitation workers, 130 other people, plus various trucks and equipment to New Orleans. FEMA declined the offer and requested one tanker truck.

FEMA turned away 500 Florida airboaters who volunteered for rescue operations, and the Department of Homeland Security delayed the American Red Cross from entering.
Loudoun County, Virginia sent twenty deputies who were turned away. FEMA turned down offers of trains, generators, diesel fuel, other equipment and water from corporations, states and municipalities.

The Pentagon drowned in paperwork requirements offers of National Guard assistance from New Mexico and some other states. But miraculously some units from Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas got there by late Tuesday and Wisconsin somehow also managedc to get units there despite Pentagon restrictions.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police rescue team got to New Orleans before the U.S. Armed Forces arrived in significant numbers.

On the fourth day, large numbers of US troops began to appear. They were brought in from Iraq. 40 % of the Guard from the Gulf States were deployed in Iraq, and the necessary equipment and high-water vehicles had been sent there as well. Soon thereafter, US mercenaries were redeployed to New Orleans from Iraq to keep the peace.

Two days after all hell broke loose, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and FEMA director Michael Brown had no idea people were starving in the New Orleans Convention center.
While people on the Gulf Coast were suffering, FOX pundits were complaining that federal funds would have to be spent to help these people. Fred Barnes said these folks were bilking "the taxpayers with their cavalier choice of domiciles," and Charles Krauthamer said, "It’s a bit unseemly to talk about cutting off aid while the hurricane is still roaring through Mississippi. But let’s give it a try." Senator Rick Santorum thought people who refused to leave their homes should be fined in the future.

Bush indefinitely suspended the Davis-Bacon Act for the Gulf States, making it possible for federal contractors to pay laborers less than the prevailing wage. That wage for construction workers in Mississippi is $9.50 an hour.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


In the immediate aftermath of Katrina’s attack on the Gulf Coast, the mainstream media began to cover the disaster in a manner favorable to the Bush administration. Chris Matthews trumped about how much was being accomplished as a super power turned its attention to disaster relief. Wolf Blitzer asked former Senator John Breaux if Bill Clinton was responsible for inadequate funding of levee repair, but he did not request information about George W. Bush’s dismal record. A few days later, media people were so appalled by the enormous disconnect between the official story and what they were seeing, that they actually pointed out this discrepancy and the Bush administration’s failure to respond to the crisis. Soledad O’Brien even asked FEMA director Mike Brown, "How is it possible that we’re getting better intel than you’re getting?" Conservative Jack Cafferty even acknowledged that broadcasters were not mentioning "the elephant in the living room," the possibility that racism had something to do with the slow response to the needs of New Orleans. It would be too much to suggest the mainstream media was growing a backbone, as it soon returned to treating the Bush administration with kid gloves. But still, it provided a few days of honest reporting that gave every American the opportunity to see just how badly the Bush administration had dealt with the catastrophe.

A September 6 CNN poll showed that 63% of Americans believed no federal official should be fired in connection with the slow response to the New Orleans disaster. Thirty-five percent thought Bush’s handling was good or great. These were people who were simply incapable of believing the Bush administration could bungle anything this serious. Forty-two percent thought the president’s performance was bad or terrible. Among independents , 29% approved Bush’s performance, and 47% disapproved. That many more people did not find Bush’s performance bad or terrible is a tribute to the exceedingly effective Republican spin operation and the simple fact that the community values of Franklin Roosevelt are being edged out by those of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Bill O’Reilly, on his September 9 telecast, told his conservative followers that Bill Clinton and Al Gore were responsible for the disaster in New Orleans. In view of the federal government’s incredibly slow response, it is clear that the GOP noise machine needs to craft a message to distract attention from this failure of the Bush administration. O’Reilly usually mirrors the party line to a fault, so his broadcast may have been a trial balloon. This time the default response of blaming Clinton did not seem to work.

Republican commentator identified the main theme of the GOP response when he said, ""I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9/11 victimes" [ who dared to criticize his Leader]. He called the people who remained in New Orleans "scumbags." The American Spectator, which often tests new Republican positions, emphasized New Orleans’s historically high crime rate without linking it to deep poverty. The blame-the-victim approach was helped by the fact that almost all the victims in New Orleans seemed to be black and very poor. Senator Rick Santorum blamed the victims for not leaving the city. Too much of the television coverage focused on lawlessness that did occur after the hurricane and flooding, and there was too little attention to enduring deep poverty. Rush Limbaugh, the most influential GOP propagandist, harped on the theme that the suffering, stranded people of New Orleans were responsible for their own fate because they did not evacuate. By Saturday, FOX NEWS was focusing almost entirely upon successes that did occur in the rescue operation. The various fact checking organizations kept batting down wild claims about black storm victime, but they kept popping up. A month later, Sean Hannity was talking about victime using FEMA checks to rent condos at Martha's Vineyard, whee $2000 would not go far), buying alcohol ( probably true), and purchasiong many lap dances. Such tales not only deflect attention from Bush's failure, they further diminish the nation's sense of compassion and connectedness.

Much blame was placed on the mayor of New Orleans and Governor Kathleen Blanco. It has been said that the mayor could have saved those left behind by evacuating them on city buses and school buses before the storm struck. Whether he had the resources to do this needs to be examined. Even though Governor Blanco had sent Bush detailed information on what assistance would be needed before the hurricane struck, she has been the target of much criticism. On September 4, The Washington Post acccepted the Republican claim that Governor Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency. In fact, she did this on August 26. It is said–with no evidence- that she delayed Red Cross assistance from reaching New Orleans. Newsweek the same false story and added to it saying, that Blanco "seemed uncertain and sluggish, hesitant to declare martial law or a state of emergency, which would have opened the door to more Pentagon help." The delaying of the Red Cross was the work of FEMA, and the governor had declared a state of emergency and requested help--several times-- before disaster struck. The Post later printed a correction. Given they had been party to printing lies and political propaganda, both publications should have outed their White House source.

Blanco resisted having the Louisiana guard federalized because that would place too many restrictions on them in keeping the peace. Her reasons for taking this position were never mentioned by GOP critics. She is also denounced for at first refusing to meet with Bush when he traveled to the area on September 9. The truth was that she had not been informed of his itinerary.

Bush’s visit was a masterpiece of PR. He hugged two comely, well-dressed African American women. Fifty fire-fighters from the North were diverted to pose with him, and a Coast Guard helicopter was diverted to be used as a prop. He was photographed at a hastily assembled food distribution point, which German ZDF news reported was quickly disassembled as soon as he left. Senator Mary Landreau, a conservative Democrat, referred to another Bush appearance that day as "a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity." When Bush appeared at the breached 17th Street levee, there was a great deal of equipment there. When the Senator flew over the site the next day, the assemblage of machinery was reduced to a "lonely piece of equipment." Several days before, Michael Brown bragged at a news conference that his agency was feeding everyone at the still crowded New Orleans Super Dome. The New Orleans Times-Picayune, publishing on line, retorted that "Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that...." Yet, Bush subsequently praised "Brownie," saying "You’re doing a heck of a job."

The trouble is that the Bushies are "doing a heck of a job" with spin, covering up their poor performance. In time, a substantial number of Americans may come to see George W. Bush as the Second Hero of New Orleans!

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About Me

Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!