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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, August 15, 2003


Bush lied, circuits fried

posted by G at Friday, August 15, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Cross-posted from my site, in slightly different form: Suddenly, it all gets very interesting. America's best journalist is Greg Palast. he knows a lot about electricity deregulation; before he became a journalist, he was an investigator specializing in corporate racketeers. On the blackout, he writes,
Is tonight's black-out a surprise? Heck, no, not to us in the field who've watched Bush's buddies flick the switches across the globe. In Brazil, Houston Industries seized ownership of Rio de Janeiro's electric company. The Texans (aided by their French partners) fired workers, raised prices, cut maintenance expenditures and, CLICK! the juice went out so often the locals now call it, "Rio Dark."

So too the free-market cowboys of Niagara Mohawk raised prices, slashed staff, cut maintenance and CLICK! -- New York joins Brazil in the Dark Ages.

Californians have found the solution to the deregulation disaster: re-call the only governor in the nation with the cojones to stand up to the electricity price fixers. And unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gov. Gray Davis stood alone against the bad guys without using a body double. Davis called Reliant Corp of Houston a pack of "pirates" --and now he'll walk the plank for daring to stand up to the Texas marauders.

So where's the President? Just before he landed on the deck of the Abe Lincoln, the White House was so concerned about our brave troops facing the foe that they used the cover of war for a new push in Congress for yet more electricity deregulation. This has a certain logic: there's no sense defeating Iraq if a hostile regime remains in California.
The Washington Post also has some preliminary notes on how many people saw the blackouts coming as a consequence of deregulation. Meanwhile, Arianna Huffington raises questions about a May 2001 "secret meeting" between Ken Lay and "prominent Republicans, among them Mike Milken and Arnold Schwarzenegger."

I think Karl Rove realizes that the blackouts will be political poison for Bush if voters mentally connect them to energy deregulation and Enron. From Reuters, "President Bush on Friday called the worst blackout in North American history a 'wake-up call' and said the electric grid must be modernized."

Which is to say that all along the President has been asleep. Just like Sept. 11 was his "wake-up call" about al-Qaeda.

I think Dean needs to get out on front and attack Bush on this right now and help voters draw those connections. The other Dem candidates will jump on the bandwagon of criticism once it gets going. If Dean attacks now, he'll be seen as the leader of the charge against Bush on this count. Trippi, get that press release ready!

update from Anna: I'd just like to reinforce Gabriel's "Bush has been asleep" idea. I don't know if any of you witnessed Shrub's pathetic news conference last night, but I was pretty sure he was full of it. Today, the always informative Buzzflash busts him out:
CLAIM: "We'll have time to look at it and determine whether or not our grid needs to be modernized. I happen to think it does, and have said so all along." - George Bush, 8/14/03
FACT: In June of 2001, Bush opposed and the congressional GOP voted down legislation to provide $350 million worth of loans to modernize the nation's power grid because of known weaknesses in reliability and capacity. Supporters of the amendment pointed to studies by the Energy Department showing that the grid was in desperate need of upgrades as proof that their legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) should pass. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration lobbied against it and the Republicans voted it down three separate times: First, on a straight party line in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, then on a straight party line the U.S. House Rules Committee, and finally on a party line on the floor of the full House [Roll Call Vote #169, 6/20/01].

UPDATE (Aziz): I changed the title. Hope there aren't any objections?


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.