- February 11. 2001-California teeters on the brink of
darkness. The state is threatened with daily power blackouts. Natural gas
may be cut off in the coming weeks. With a predicted hot and dry summer
approaching, state politicians are scrambling for eleventh hour remedies.
- George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the consortium of Texas
power companies could not be more pleased.
- The state that overwhelmingly rejected Bush and the Republicans
at the polls is being brought to its knees. The Democrats of California--which
include many of Bush's staunchest foes-- are being embarrassed and politically
- As Governor Gray Davis struggles with bailout plans,
Bush's Texas power supplier friends and campaign contributors, led by Kenneth
Lay of Enron Corporation, are raking in billions of dollars by selling
power at inflated prices into the sputtering California power system. Enron
reported a record fourth quarter profit. Now, California has become its
own power buyer (and is in the process of signing long-term contracts locking
in power prices at historic highs), and "fast tracking" new power
plant construction. Texas suppliers will make billions more in the years
- Extorting California is even more fun than Florida election
fraud. And considerably more profitable.
- Bush's Partners in Crime: Follow the Money
- Enron, TXU, Dynergy, AES, Reliant and other oil-soaked
Bush corporate surrogates are holding a gun to the head of California,
whose economic and political future are at stake. Governor Davis has branded
the Texas power players as 'pirates and plunderers.' He was being kind.
- Two of the big Texas energy operatives, Enron's Kenneth
Lay and TXU's Earl Nye, have served on the energy team of Bush's transitional
administration and were major campaign contributors. Enron contributed
over $555,000--the most of any Bush corporate donor.
- Lay, a former Pentagon operative, is a long time friend
to the Bush crime family. Enron, which has done business throughout the
developing world with CIA assistance, was involved with the George H.W.
Bush administration in a number of questionable Middle East business deals
after the Gulf War. Lay employed two of former president George H.W. Bush's
closest friends and cabinet operatives, James Baker and Robert Mosbacher,
to hustle contracts after they left office.
- Lay's residence is a stone's throw from Bush Jr.'s Texas
ranch The two have shared many beers and Houston Astros games (at Enron
Field). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Lay and Enron
president Jeffrey Skilling personally donated $100,000 to Bush. Lay personally
lobbied other top Enron executives to give at least $1,000 to Bush. The
Bush campaign borrowed Enron's corporate jets eight times in 2000.
- W's cozy business alliance with Lay and the Texas energy
cabal is not news. While governor, Bush pushed aggressively and successfully
for relaxation of environmental and consumer protection regulations. This
in turn allowed the companies to post record profits, while polluting the
skies and water of Texas.
- Lay was rumored to be Bush's first choice to be energy
secretary, prior to the appointment of Spencer Abraham. Many believe Lay
serves in this capacity today, from behind the scenes. Although Lay has
denied a quid pro quo relationship with the new administration, his denials
are as believable as Jeb Bush's recusal during the Florida vote "recount."
- When you are a friend of the Bush family, you are a friend
- Call It What It Is: War
- The Bushes are old hands when it comes to staging, waging
and benefiting from war.
- War is force designed to compel an adversary to submit
to one's will. In wars of attrition, isolation (political, geographic and
economic), and the choking off of supplies (including electricity, light,
gas and heat) are standard techniques designed to inflict maximum suffering.
Over an extended period, frustrated populaces (be they Iraqi, Nicaraguan
or Californian) are softened to the point that they will accept whatever
ends the torture.
- With California, Bush/Cheney pursue a number of "divide
and smash" end games. They are attacking on three fronts:
- 1) Open doors to power companies to pillage California
itself. By selling the severity of the crisis, and the myths of the benefits
of deregulation and the free market, Bush and the Texans seek to rip apart
environmental laws, and open up markets.
- 2) Use corporate media to promote, exploit and exaggerate
the "power crisis" to justify other parts of the Bush corporate/right
wing agendas-including drilling in Alaska ("it will help relieve California's
supply problem) and even the tax cut plan ("a tax cut will help pay
higher energy bills").
- 3) Inflict maximum political damage to Democrats and
other opposition, and fuel outrage among voters.
- Build Power Plants Now!
- In one of his first and most telling comments about state's
power problem, Bush said, "California must be aggressive about increasing
the supply of power. We (Americans) cannot conserve our way to independence."
This statement encapsulates Bush's entire energy "policy." Forget
conservation, forget alternative energy, and just let The Boys plunder
- Bush and the power companies are pushing the idea that
California's increased energy demand (fueled by the high-tech economy)
has led to a shortage. But according to Public Citizen, the "skyrocketing
demand" is a sham. After analyzing hourly load data compiled by the
California Independent System Operator (CAISO), Public Citizen has concluded
that power demand in California during the past six months has actually
been lower than during the same period in 1999.
- The Bush junta is misrepresenting the facts, allowing
the power companies to gouge consumers, and speed the reopening of old
power plants and the construction of new plants by suspending environmental
standards. They also seek to block the ability of communities to oppose
new plants. In other words, bring a little Texas to California.
- The supply side of the argument is also questionable.
The problem has never been the supply of power, only the price state utilities
can or cannot pay for the power coming from Texas. There is an additional
suspicious element. According to Public Citizen, "plants servicing
the state with 11,000 megawatts of capacity have been taken out of service
for a variety of reasons-most undisclosed."
- Bush finds it "interesting" that the harshest
critics of a "balanced" environmental policy are "having
rolling blackouts in their state." By balanced, he means one more
accommodating to polluters. (Ominously, the phrase "balanced approach"
has been used repeatedly and robotically by incoming environmental plunderer,
Gale Norton, who is on record for supporting more drilling across the US.)
- The "build more power plants" mantra is working.
Threatened with blackouts (and increasing public frustration) the governor,
the state legislature and local officials are fast tracking power plant
repair and new construction-including plants previously rejected for environmental
- Deregulation: Fatten Corporate Wallets, Screw Consumers
- When first approached by Gray Davis for help, Bush "bluntly
rejected" price caps and other short-term measures. "I'm against
price controls," he told the Associated Press. Bush has robotically
echoed the business strategy statements of Lay and the other Texas power
wholesalers and natural gas pipeline bandits. "California got itself
into this mess. It's their law that didn't allow forward contracting of
gas (and) forced wholesalers to purchase at the spot market," Bush
muttered. "That's fine as long as the price of gas is dropping. The
failure of (the) energy policy has made the price of gas go up."
- In other words, if prices go up, California's consumers
should pay up and shut up.
- Pushing For a Drilling Frenzy. Everywhere.
- By raising fears of a power supply problem in California,
they make drilling within California and off the California coast more
acceptable. A moratorium that limits drilling off the California coast
is due to expire this year. The timing of the crisis is no coincidence.
- Bush is also using California as an excuse to sell the
idea of drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge and other pristine lands.
- Selling the Tax Cut
- Brazenly, Bush is trying to sell California on the benefits
of his inherently foolish (and economically crippling) tax cut. In recent
days, articles have abounded regarding how the tax cut would particularly
help "high wage" Californians.
- Casually Bush has bragged, "lower taxes will help
offset the higher energy bills for Californians." As if energy prices
should be high to begin with. As if higher energy prices in the future
are a given.
- As if a tax cut that takes place over a ten-year period
can provide one bit of immediate "energy bill-paying relief."
- Smash the Democrats
- The political roots of the California "crisis"
are Byzantine and tangled. The history of California power stretches back
nearly 100 years. The cast of villains is dizzying, including the operators
of the corrupt and monopolistic state utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric
Company and Southern California Edison), and the corrupt state and local
politicians of both parties that have colluded with the utilities for generations.
- What is undisputed fact is that California's flawed deregulation
plan was conceived and spearheaded by former Governor Pete Wilson-a Republican-in
1996. Yet today, the state's current Democratic leaders at every level
are taking 100 percent of the political blame.
- Bush and Cheney have taken every opportunity to fan public
outrage. They have not lifted a finger to help (except for their middle
finger). What better way to cripple any Democrat up for election or re-election
in 2002 and 2004? For instance, Gray Davis, a darling of the DNC with future
presidential aspirations, has suffered irreparable damage. And what better
way to distract and neuter the likes of Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein,
and Maxine Waters, than a rigged California disaster (at a time when Republicans
are trying to ram through a number of extreme policies)?
- If public frustration in California ratchets up, it will
not be long before a "throw them all out" mentality kicks in-opening
up an opportunity for the Republicans to finally seize a Democratic and
- Tyranny With A Smirk
- California's "crisis" is providing an alarming
showcase of what nightmares occur when corporations and corrupt politicians
have the absolute power to play games with basic necessities. It is a spectacular
example of Bush tyranny. An illegitimately installed and ruthless president
is exploiting the miseries of common citizens to benefit wealthy corporations
run by cronies and fellow political operatives.
- Going forward, there is no end to the convenient uses
that a battered and helpless California offers Bush and the Texans. As
the administration postures for new military forays in the Gulf, pumping
up the threats posed by Saddam Hussein, and Middle East terrorists, it
is certain that the administration will point to the California "supply
problem" as a national problem that could justify military action.
Lay and Enron have been aggressive in pushing for deregulation in other
states, using California as an example of how "partial" deregulation
(price controls) should be avoided.
- Upon discovering a CIA/corporate conspiracy in the 1970s
film "Three Days of the Condor," Robert Redford's character whispers
in shock and disgust: "Oil. This whole damned thing is about oil."
- Yes, the whole damned thing is indeed about oil. And
electricity. And money. And it's no movie.
- The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do
not necessarily reflect those of Online Journal
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