GAS  PRICE  MADNESS     April 25, 2001





We have been busy, but admit to being severely stung by the ratification of the atrocious Ashcroft. What were Democrats thinking? Although he has been on his best behavior, no doubt laying the groundwork for some direct frontal assault on abortion rights, we see the results of the “conservative” mindset in the Supreme Court’s horrendous ruling that police can arrest anyone for anything, anytime, anywhere (involving a Fl woman who didn’t buckle her kids in), even if it is only a ticket offense. The ramifications of this are really frightening: all traffic stops involve an implied threat of deadly force- since resistance to an unjust arrest by a cop could provoke such force, they are essentially giving police a blank check to commit any outrage without redress- in effect overturning the unjust search and seizure amendment. If they can arrest anyone for any trumped up offense, they can also search their car without any probable cause. The Operation Pipeline drug interdiction effort trains tens of thousands of state police to use any excuse to bully drivers into allowing a search (having a cell phone or an air freshener is an indicator of guilt). For those who think police won’t and wouldn’t abuse such power- you need to get out more: I’ve witnessed a Rodney King-like gang clubbing of a handcuffed guy and suffered several horror show experiences by out-of-control police. Imagine how much more of the Bill of Rights the SS will edit if the wild American Bushman appoints 2 more hard right hacks.


We are going to S. Florida* April 29-May 31 for a much needed sand/scuba/sauna/surf trip- anyone who has a room, apt, etc, anywhere fm Melbourne to Key West + Sanibel, let me know (Miami + F Laud esp). Will pay +/or provide tales of adventure + wonder.  * otherwise known as the scene of the crime


As for W, our sometime correspondent Hammerschlag (this may be his last column in here- he’s getting too famous) says it better than I in a piece that was in




"The President spoke to a meeting in Indiana....", the news said, and I wondered what the Big Dog was up to now.  "And then," as the smug woman says in the IBM ads, "it hits you" -- -- its Bush!!! It's like the difference between House and house, or, in the teenage horror movies, "the killer is inside the house".  For anyone who cares about the economy, environment, health care, foreign policy, poverty, or women’s freedoms; the killer is inside the house.  Bush's reign has been an unmitigated disaster, worse than I even imagined it could be: in every field he's been a single-minded automaton working to pay off his corporate debts.  Not distracted by logic, science, decency, or compassion, he has blithely punched the Company clock for big oil, big banks, big electricity -- and lo and behold Exxon is the No. 1 Corp. in the world.


If President Bush's Texas reign is any indication, he will work tirelessly in the service of his corporate sponsors for a year and a half, do little else, and then stop.  But he might not have the chance.  The honeymoon may already be over.  The opiated jackals of the press seem to have reached their stupidity saturation point; an accumulation of idiocy that's simply too great to ignore. First there were the howls of protest over Bush's mild reneging on global warming, a priority only the delusional thought Bush had.  Of course global warming was a safe thing to call him on -- there is no absolutely no political will for meaningful legislation on global warming (p2) ( + warm2x.gif) and India's and China's massive use of coal will render it moot anyway.  The great danger for Bush is that the press will go into a vicious feedback loop like they did about Gore’s imaginary lies and, fed by Bush's steady linguistic lacerations, will decide the STORY is that our President is an imbecile.  Since there is ample evidence for that, the stories, and the drumbeat, could become a steady roar.  Bush's entertaining self-ridicule may not work for long.  His "beloved" quotient is way lower than Reagan's: we like our presidents to be funny, but not be a joke.


All one has to do is to study our Loser in Chief's desperate eyes as he fumbles for some butchered junior high school cliché and then... is simply finished.  Once you get past the mindless hackneyed sound bite, there is nothing else.  He has nothing else to say because there is nothing in his head, so he immediately changes the subject or hustles away.  He is an embarrassment to our country.  En masse, Europe has come to the same conclusion -- with Mr. Bush's repeated slaps to the face, punches to the stomach, and knees to the groin over global warming, missile defense and SALT and ABM treaty violations, spurning of Clinton overtures to N. Korea, Russia + the Palestinians, reckless piggish tax policy, isolationism, and love of oil.  Of course, they were horrified when he won anyway.


Bush's raison d'etre seems to be vengeance (once he's funneled enough billions into his corporate sponsors coffers): vengeance against California for the audacity to vote for Gore, vengeance at the Harvard liberals who dared ridicule him for his retrograde conservatism -- him, scion of Poppy, hard drinking, skirt chasing, fly boy -- they laughed at him?  Who were they to laugh at him?  He would show them all.  Much of Bush's motivation can be traced back to this humiliation at the hands of overbred prep school kids.  They can be savage to a West Texas cracker, as my Texan friends have explained to me (esp. during the 60’s).  Lacking true physical or academic gifts, Mr. Bush applied himself to relentless ingratiating and politickin, which is still the secret of his success. His primary reason for running for president at all was to avenge his father's loss, but his vast shame at his father's loss shows a misplaced sense of entitlement-- the Presidency isn't a right -- it has to be earned every time and its loss to a better man isn't greatly shaming or necessarily a personal rejection.


It is this deep conviction of the Bush superiority -- this business of character, that's so inexplicable, coming from a 15 year nasty drunk who had every door opened for him, every failure cushioned and reversed, from a man whose preordained right to win wouldn't be prevented by a little thing like a half million votes. Any true man of character could never have assumed the Presidency after losing by such a popular margin, let alone fought so virulently and dishonestly to wrest it from his opponent. This obsession with cleansing the White House of Clinton's real and imagined sins is perplexing, when Bush's nights of debauchery and vomit far surpassed Billy Boy's (not to mention his girlfriend's alleged abortion).  Maybe it's his born-again religiosity from which he derives such arrogance, hubris, and hypocrisy.


The Enron palm-greasing (lifting price-gouging controls on power) has devastated the Cal. economy and bankrupted PG&E, which since all things roll downhill from Cal., will percolate malignantly through the rest of the economy (Wash. St. just claimed power prices may triple). Bush may get the full-scale recession he’s been promoting. The bankruptcy bill payoff to credit card companies (his largest contributors) has a particularly bitter irony coming from a man who would have been forced into bankruptcy 3 times without rich family "friends" eager for the cachet and influence of the Bush name. He directly financially benefits from most of his legislation, just as he did in Texas. In these billions of dollars of sleazy corporate payoffs, Mr. Bush has in only 2 months become the most corrupt President in American history.


In the spy scandal, Bush's vast overreaction was unwarranted and unwise: in our burrowing under the Russian embassy in Washington we were committing a far greater transgression.  Since they have far more spies than we do, ejecting 50 of each leaves us at a grave disadvantage.  In fact, it may have been an excuse for getting rid of Democrats in the Moscow embassy who would oppose Mr. Bush's idiotic missile defense project and reject a harder line.  Meanwhile Putin has assumed control of the other two television networks, and is moving to place the entire press under his thumb. (Mediachannel article:


On the other hand, his weakness and toadying to China after the downing of our spy plane by an incompetent Chinese fighter jock is frankly dangerous- if you talk tough, and then act craven, you embolden your enemies to greater outrages. The bullying Chinese, who’ve killed up to 1/5 of Tibet in a half century physical + cultural genocide and constantly threaten Taiwan (separate since 1897), must be coddled- an embargo, after all, would force Wal-Mart out of business in 4 months. We are now wholly dependent on cheap Chinese goods, more than foreign oil. For a decade we’ve allowed a grubby obsession with trade to obscure our support for human rights, but even Clinton sent  2 carrier groups to the South China Sea when the Chinese lobbed missiles 22 miles from Taiwan’s cities and had 150,000 troop “exercises” across from Taiwan (/mhchina6.htm).


Regarding our wondering at how Bush could graduate from 2 Ivy League schools without being able to read (perhaps with massive donations- It’s Only Words), we got an interesting answer from Herb Epstein:


--“How does a  "mentally challenged" legacy student like George W graduate from Yale when he could barely read and write?  I was a graduate student at Yale and did some teaching while Bush was an undergraduate "legacy student." A certain number of places were guaranteed to sons of alumni. The short answer is that it was very difficult to give any Yale student a failing grade for a course and almost impossible to give them enough failing grades to prevent their graduating. I'm an expert on this subject because I tried to give two failing grades (out of about 75 students) in a course I taught and graded on Soviet foreign policy. (No, Bush was not one of them).  Suffice to say that even after I proved plagiarism to the satisfaction of a board of professors, the university administration reversed my grade and the board's ruling and allowed the legacy student to pass with the minimum grade. They didn't dispute that he had plagiarized. The fact that he had previously been reprimanded for the same offense somehow had no bearing. Needless to say this kid's family give big bucks to Yale before and after the incident.

Next comes the question of how George W got into Harvard B School. He first applied to U of Texas Law School and was turned down. Despite the fact that it was his home state, he had no legacy.  He had to compete. Undoubtedly he was rejected because of his poor undergraduate record and his low LSAT scores. How could George W, who was a history major, and who couldn't get into the U of Texas Law School, gain admission to the most competitive, prestigious grad school in the country --Harvard B school.” ---- Herb Epstein


On another front, Bush is moving against the ‘Day After’ pill, because it’s use would prevent illegitimacy…  and that’s how he came to power.

                                                                                                                                                                Copyright © 2001 Michael Hammerschlag




In a savage example of the collateral damage of the drug war, now anyone flying in 6 countries in South + Central America may be shot out of the skies for not having a radio, or having it on the wrong frequency. We never were the greatest fans of missionaries, but don’t think they wanted to be this close to God, and they do do some good works. What no one is saying is that this probably has happened several other times in the 30 planes the Peruvians have blasted from the skies- what made this different was that the pilot was talking to the control tower as the strafing began and they survived (they were even reportedly strafed on the ground)- how many haven’t? I’m dubious that the CIA controllers couldn’t have called it off- why are we helping countries summarily kill their citizens without trial or conviction, anyway? An earthquake happened in Cal. when they voted to essentially decriminalize all drugs by mandating treatment and stopping prison time for simple possession. Overwhelmed in the cacophony of the election theft, the press has still ignored this vital and central public issue. Meanwhile our ex-“things go better with..” President is appointing another maniacal hard-liner as Drug Czar- completing missing the shifting sentiment of the populace. Courageous Repub NM Gov Gary Johnson was doing the talk show rounds in DC, advocating decriminalization, if not legalization. I think he spoke at the NORMAL convention.




While ignoring the culpability of Colin Powell in covering up the My Lai massacre,  and our dumbya President’s dalliance with nose-candy, the NYT has seen fit to devastate the reputation of one of the strongest Democratic Presidential contenders there was- Bob Kerrey- alleging that he herded and machine gunned 20 Vietnamese women and children in a SEAL operation. It seems to be based on the testimony of one guy, and if true- be devastating to his future political options (course not quite as devastating as to the villagers’ options). Vietnam is a pain that just keeps giving. Discussed this with Seattle talk radio guy for 5 minutes. The question arises though: why now?




After giving us a week preparation, gas prices leapt 20 cents or so in a few days, and will continue to soar over the summer, since oil chieftains realize that with GB2 and Cheney in the White House, there is nothing to stop them. Nothing. After Exxon + Chevron reported a 50% rise in quarterly earnings, there was no public reaction, so they will crank it up till there is. After the 20-30 fold gouging rip-offs of California the oil/gas/power companies are floating on air and realize they have a blank check- giant price rises will help get Bush’s ANWR and Nat. Forest drilling programs passed, so Bush wants them. We are about to see a transfer of wealth that only happens in corrupt 3rd world countries where the corps are in beds with the dictators. And with temps of 6 degrees above the previous 100 year record (87 deg in NYC in April?) and rivers of 2 mile thick continental Antarctic sheet ice flowing into the seas, the global warming (or freezing) catastrophe seems to be marching apace. Our logically challenged Presbo (my nickname) doesn’t quite get it.




Bush’s stupid and reckless tax cut to spend an illusionary surplus seems to have succeeded, though weak-willed Dems (aided by RI’s - Leeeeeeng-con Chafee) managed to trim 25% off of it. 75% less would have been an achievement- the cut is still big enough to choke any social spending W doesn’t like, which could be his intention in a page straight from poppa Reagan’s book. Let’s see- I think the most amazing statistic on it was that only 13% of the cut went to the lower 60% of the people.




Ex- tomato sauce salesman and last of the city bosses-  Providence Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci may have had his finale hurrah after being indicted on 30 or so counts of extortion, RICO, blah, blah, blah. While we have little doubt that he is kinda corrupt, it’s also true that the Repub establishment (Gov and state AG) have been gunning for him for a while and some of the things they have crushed people on are petty and silly- giving people $1000 breaks on their inheritance taxes on a bankrupt business. And he did some good things for the City- building a central waterfront promenade/park, relocating the RR tracks, building a downtown mall and revitalizing what was a decaying old mill city. And let’s not forget the hokey smarmy TV drama “Providence”, in which the only authenticities are the aerial views, where Buddy coerced cameos. It wasn’t an accident that the New England Mafia was based in Prov., not Boston. Though there are good reasons for a clean sweep, I find myself idly hoping our 9 lives Budster will beat the rap, as he partially did 18 years ago after he thunked his ex-wife’s lover with a baseball bat with a state police escort riding shotgun. Play ball!!




After trumpeting that Gore would have won by 22,000 votes if voting had been done correctly, the Miami Herald counted the Supreme Court ordered undervotes

in a rush to beat the Coalition (is this a Star Wars?), and discovered …. Bush would have won.. in all but the loosest counting, confounding expectations yet again. We understand the peril of refusing to accept news that defies our conventional wisdom, but something’s fishy about this whole count- earlier counts throughout the Orlando area were uniform in showing Gore gains even in Repub areas. Even vastly Repub Naples area, counted by a conservative paper, would, if one had adjusted it to a 50/50 Dem/Repub public (the general result of all Fl), have showed a significant Gore gain. Miami is a putrid political swamp, as evidenced by the elections board’s multi-flip decision to not count the votes. It, inc Dems and maybe the press, quake at the power of the radical right-wing Cubans, who wield power as brutally as any Tammany Hall or Daley machine. The Herald may have decide that, “It’s a done deal, a fait accompli, and there’s no point in stirring things up any more.” (and risking the retaliation). With the domination of corporate conglomerate ownership, the press’s independence and integrity are no longer assumed without proof.




Tim McVeigh continues towards his date with his maker, who probably won’t be happy with this mutant mispunch. If ever there was an argument for the death penalty, he is it. His chilling soulless interview shows the vacuum of the far fringe racist right- as he dispassionately chats about killing kids. The loony’s in Waco, who immolated themselves and shot their own kids, warranted desperate tears of rage, however. Please, just give him one day pumped up with sodium pentothal- I’d love to know who else knew about this.