Power Outage Traced to Dim Bulb in White House

dualsmp

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Aug 16, 2003
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http://www.gregpalast.com/detail.cfm?artid=257&row=0

POWER OUTAGE TRACED TO DIM BULB IN WHITE HOUSE --- The Tale of The Brits Who Swiped 800 Jobs From New York, Carted Off $90 Million, Then Tonight, Turned Off Our Lights
ZNet

Friday, August 15, 2003
by Greg Palast

I can tell you all about the ne're-do-wells that put out our lights tonight. I came up against these characters -- the Niagara Mohawk Power Company -- some years back. You see, before I was a journalist, I worked for a living, as an investigator of corporate racketeers. In the 1980s, "NiMo" built a nuclear plant, Nine Mile Point, a brutally costly piece of hot junk for which NiMo and its partner companies charged billions to New York State's electricity ratepayers.

To pull off this grand theft by kilowatt, the NiMo-led consortium fabricated cost and schedule reports, then performed a Harry Potter job on the account books. In 1988, I showed a jury a memo from an executive from one partner, Long Island Lighting, giving a lesson to a NiMo honcho on how to lie to government regulators. The jury ordered LILCO to pay $4.3 billion and, ultimately, put them out of business.

And that's why, if you're in the Northeast, you're reading this by candlelight tonight. Here's what happened. After LILCO was hammered by the law, after government regulators slammed Niagara Mohawk and dozens of other book-cooking, document-doctoring utility companies all over America with fines and penalties totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, the industry leaders got together to swear never to break the regulations again. Their plan was not to follow the rules, but to ELIMINATE the rules. They called it "deregulation."

It was like a committee of bank robbers figuring out how to make safecracking legal.

But they dare not launch the scheme in the USA. Rather, in 1990, one devious little bunch of operators out of Texas, Houston Natural Gas, operating under the alias "Enron," talked an over-the-edge free-market fanatic, Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, into licensing the first completely deregulated power plant in the hemisphere.

And so began an economic disease called "regulatory reform" that spread faster than SARS. Notably, Enron rewarded Thatcher's Energy Minister, one Lord Wakeham, with a bushel of dollar bills for 'consulting' services and a seat on Enron's board of directors. The English experiment proved the viability of Enron's new industrial formula: that the enthusiasm of politicians for deregulation was in direct proportion to the payola provided by power companies.

The power elite first moved on England because they knew Americans wouldn't swallow the deregulation snake oil easily. The USA had gotten used to cheap power available at the flick of switch. This was the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt who, in 1933, caged the man he thought to be the last of the power pirates, Samuel Insull. Wall Street wheeler-dealer Insull created the Power Trust, and six decades before Ken Lay, faked account books and ripped off consumers. To frustrate Insull and his ilk, FDR gave us the Federal Power Commission and the Public Utilities Holding Company Act which told electricity companies where to stand and salute. Detailed regulations limited charges to real expenditures plus a government-set profit. The laws banned power "trading" and required companies to keep the lights on under threat of arrest -- no blackout blackmail to hike rates.

Of particular significance as I write here in the dark, regulators told utilities exactly how much they had to spend to insure the system stayed in repair and the lights stayed on. Bureaucrats crawled along the wire and, like me, crawled through the account books, to make sure the power execs spent customers' money on parts and labor. If they didn't, we'd whack'm over the head with our thick rule books. Did we get in the way of these businessmen's entrepreneurial spirit? Damn right we did.

Most important, FDR banned political contributions from utility companies -- no 'soft' money, no 'hard' money, no money PERIOD.

But then came George the First. In 1992, just prior to his departure from the White House, President Bush Senior gave the power industry one long deep-through-the-teeth kiss good-bye: federal deregulation of electricity. It was a legacy he wanted to leave for his son, the gratitude of power companies which ponied up $16 million for the Republican campaign of 2000, seven times the sum they gave Democrats.

But Poppy Bush's gift of deregulating of wholesale prices set by the feds only got the power pirates halfway to the plunder of Joe Ratepayer. For the big payday they needed deregulation at the state level. There were only two states, California and Texas, big enough and Republican enough to put the electricity market con into operation.

California fell first. The power companies spent $39 million to defeat a 1998 referendum pushed by Ralph Nadar which would have blocked the de-reg scam. Another $37 million was spent on lobbying and lubricating the campaign coffers of the state's politicians to write a lie into law: in the deregulation act's preamble, the Legislature promised that deregulation would reduce electricity bills by 20%. In fact, when in the first California city to go "lawless," San Diego, the 20% savings became a 300% jump in surcharges.

Enron circled California and licked its lips. As the number one contributor to the George W. Bush campaigns, it was confident about the future. With just a half dozen other companies it controlled at times 100% of the available power capacity needed to keep the Golden State lit. Their motto, "your money or your lights."

Enron and its comrades played the system like a broken ATM machine, yanking out the bills. For example, in the shamelessly fixed "auctions" for electricity held by the state, Enron bid, in one instance, to supply 500 megawatts of electricity over a 15 megawatt line. That's like pouring a gallon of gasoline into a thimble -- the lines would burn up if they attempted it. Faced with blackout because of Enron's destructive bid, the state was willing to pay anything to keep the lights on.

And the state did. According to Dr. Anjali Sheffrin, economist with the California state Independent System Operator which directs power deliveries, between May and November 2000, three power giants physically or "economically" withheld power from the state and concocted enough false bids to cost the California customers over $6.2 billion in excess charges.

It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going out on the Golden Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation booster, to find his lost Democratic soul and impose price caps in California and ban Enron from the market.

But the light-bulb buccaneers didn't have to wait long to put their hooks back into the treasure chest. Within seventy-two hours of moving into the White House, while he was still sweeping out the inaugural champagne bottles, George Bush the Second reversed Clinton's executive order and put the power pirates back in business in California. Enron, Reliant (aka Houston Industries), TXU (aka Texas Utilities) and the others who had economically snipped California's wires knew they could count on Dubya, who as governor of the Lone Star state cut them the richest deregulation deal in America.

Meanwhile, the deregulation bug made it to New York where Republican Governor George Pataki and his industry-picked utility commissioners ripped the lid off electric bills and relieved my old friends at Niagara Mohawk of the expensive obligation to properly fund the maintenance of the grid system.

And the Pataki-Bush Axis of Weasels permitted something that must have former New York governor Roosevelt spinning in his wheelchair in Heaven: They allowed a foreign company, the notoriously incompetent National Grid of England, to buy up NiMo, get rid of 800 workers and pocket most of their wages - producing a bonus for NiMo stockholders approaching $90 million.

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 British buckaroos controlling 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.

Sitting in the dark, as my laptop battery runs low, I don't know if the truth about deregulation will ever see the light --until we change the dim bulb in the White House.

 

Flyermax2k3

Diamond Member
Mar 1, 2003
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Greg Palast does some of the best investigative journalism I've ever seen. If you get a chance to, read his book entitled "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." There's some outstanding investigative work about the 2000 election, corporate fraud, globalization, among others.
 

dualsmp

Golden Member
Aug 16, 2003
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Originally posted by: Flyermax2k3
Greg Palast does some of the best investigative journalism I've ever seen. If you get a chance to, read his book entitled "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." There's some outstanding investigative work about the 2000 election, corporate fraud, globalization, among others.
I agree. Greg is one of the best investigative journalists out there. Thumbs up for the book. :beer:

 

Bleep

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
3,972
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Why are you cross posting this?
Why in the hell do you care it is not your bandwidth that is being used, or do you just not like the content. (the truth)

Bleep
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
69,687
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Yup, Bush is a disaster. He's in bed with deregulation which is the pantsing of the average American. Republicans are waging clas war of the American people.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
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www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Yup, Bush is a disaster. He's in bed with deregulation which is the pantsing of the average American. Republicans are waging clas war of the American people.
Another ignorant post by moony claiming that Bush stole the class-warfare tactic from the Dems.

Bleep - the "truth" as you see it is actually just your hate - see moony if you wish to learn how hate blinds ones mind.;)

CkG

Oops - forgot to say - BUSH IS A DISASTER!!!!
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
69,687
5,152
126
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Yup, Bush is a disaster. He's in bed with deregulation which is the pantsing of the average American. Republicans are waging clas war of the American people.
Another ignorant post by moony claiming that Bush stole the class-warfare tactic from the Dems.

Bleep - the "truth" as you see it is actually just your hate - see moony if you wish to learn how hate blinds ones mind.;)

CkG

Oops - forgot to say - BUSH IS A DISASTER!!!!
Yup, Bush is a horrible disaster; that's for sure.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
69,687
5,152
126
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Yup, Bush is a disaster. He's in bed with deregulation which is the pantsing of the average American. Republicans are waging clas war of the American people.
Another ignorant post by moony claiming that Bush stole the class-warfare tactic from the Dems.

Bleep - the "truth" as you see it is actually just your hate - see moony if you wish to learn how hate blinds ones mind.;)

CkG

Oops - forgot to say - BUSH IS A DISASTER!!!!
Or else I post for the love of those who are being screwed. That is what is so truly sad Caddy, in your blindness you support evil. You have way too much personal arrogance to allow yourself to see. What is even worse is that you are superficial and cavalier.

 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Yup, Bush is a disaster. He's in bed with deregulation which is the pantsing of the average American. Republicans are waging clas war of the American people.
Another ignorant post by moony claiming that Bush stole the class-warfare tactic from the Dems.

Bleep - the "truth" as you see it is actually just your hate - see moony if you wish to learn how hate blinds ones mind.;)

CkG

Oops - forgot to say - BUSH IS A DISASTER!!!!
Or else I post for the love of those who are being screwed. That is what is so truly sad Caddy, in your blindness you support evil. You have way too much personal arrogance to allow yourself to see. What is even worse is that you are superficial and cavalier.
All hail Moony - the great arbiter of good/evil and blindness/enlightenment. Please show us the way oh great one.



CkG
 

Corn

Diamond Member
Nov 12, 1999
6,389
29
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All hail Moony - the great arbiter of good/evil and blindness/enlightenment. Please show us the way oh great one.
"Regulate, Regulate, Regulate!!!!!!" Anything less and you're screwed.
 

Kaiynne

Member
Feb 23, 2003
74
0
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gsaldivar, Tabb, Millennium and as usual CADkindaGUY.

Could you please attempt to respond to the posted article.

Here let me give you a little help, since you seem to have forgot how to post a reasonably intelligent comment, Rolling eyes not withstanding.
It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going out on the Golden Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation booster, to find his lost Democratic soul and impose price caps in California and ban Enron from the market.
This is perfect example of why clinton was if not as bad as bush at least close to it. His most liberal policies were enacted in the closing days of his presidency. To me that is pathetic, he was in office for 8 years and it is olnly in the last few days that he decides to do anything uncompromisingly liberal, why was that? Was it because he knew that there could be no backlash for him...

Bush is a terrible president for the majority of people, but if you are willing to look it is pretty obvious, from his tax cuts to his corporate cronies, almost everything the guy does is slanted towards special interests. He doesn't come right out and say it, but its all there. Clinton on the other hand tried to hide behind the "democratic party" while he was making policy that any republican would be proud of, yet it was hard to find, because he touted himself as a man of the people.

there is something to be said for the guy who comes out and tells you he is going to spit in your face, but the guy who lies to your face and tells you how much he wants to help you and then spits in your face is much worse in my opinion.

Of course Cad and the others can't use that argument because it would be admitting what a bad president bush is for most people, which is to say worse than Clinton but not massively so. If you don't believe me check out clinton's foreign policy record. A medical supply depot in sudan comes to mind.

Sorry to single you out cad but you allways seem to be in the thick of things when it comes to the bush debate.
 

dualsmp

Golden Member
Aug 16, 2003
1,617
30
91
Cliff notes version for those who just drank 6 Coca Colas and forgot to take their Ritalin pill. ;)

The black out was caused by greedy power companies.

Roosevelt imposed regulations all power companies must follow; certain maintenance procedures, set profit levels, no blackmailing (either you pay more, or we shut the lights off). Bush Sr killed those off and companies like Enron went crazy raping people of money and well, all that Enron stuff. Clinton re-imposed regulation, and so did the Californian governor, but now Bush Jr has killed off regulation again. Some british power company took over the Niagara Mohawk power company and fired workers, raised prices, didn't pay for maintenance, all for profit and because of deregulation. A Texas power company pulled the same sh!t in Rio de Janiero a while back and now the power goes off there all the time because of mismanagement. Seems like the same thing is happening in the NE USA now too...
 

etech

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
10,597
0
0
Originally posted by: dualsmp
Cliff notes version for those who just drank 6 Coca Colas and forgot to take their Ritalin pill. ;)

The black out was caused by greedy power companies.

Roosevelt imposed regulations all power companies must follow; certain maintenance procedures, set profit levels, no blackmailing (either you pay more, or we shut the lights off). Bush Sr killed those off and companies like Enron went crazy raping people of money and well, all that Enron stuff. Clinton re-imposed regulation, and so did the Californian governor, but now Bush Jr has killed off regulation again. Some british power company took over the Niagara Mohawk power company and fired workers, raised prices, didn't pay for maintenance, all for profit and because of deregulation. A Texas power company pulled the same sh!t in Rio de Janiero a while back and now the power goes off there all the time because of mismanagement. Seems like the same thing is happening in the NE USA now too...
Interesting but has the cause of the blackout been proven to be poor maintence caused by deregulation?

cart, horse and all of that.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Kaiynne
gsaldivar, Tabb, Millennium and as usual CADkindaGUY.

Could you please attempt to respond to the posted article.

Here let me give you a little help, since you seem to have forgot how to post a reasonably intelligent comment, Rolling eyes not withstanding.
It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going out on the Golden Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation booster, to find his lost Democratic soul and impose price caps in California and ban Enron from the market.
This is perfect example of why clinton was if not as bad as bush at least close to it. His most liberal policies were enacted in the closing days of his presidency. To me that is pathetic, he was in office for 8 years and it is olnly in the last few days that he decides to do anything uncompromisingly liberal, why was that? Was it because he knew that there could be no backlash for him...

Bush is a terrible president for the majority of people, but if you are willing to look it is pretty obvious, from his tax cuts to his corporate cronies, almost everything the guy does is slanted towards special interests. He doesn't come right out and say it, but its all there. Clinton on the other hand tried to hide behind the "democratic party" while he was making policy that any republican would be proud of, yet it was hard to find, because he touted himself as a man of the people.

there is something to be said for the guy who comes out and tells you he is going to spit in your face, but the guy who lies to your face and tells you how much he wants to help you and then spits in your face is much worse in my opinion.

Of course Cad and the others can't use that argument because it would be admitting what a bad president bush is for most people, which is to say worse than Clinton but not massively so. If you don't believe me check out clinton's foreign policy record. A medical supply depot in sudan comes to mind.

Sorry to single you out cad but you allways seem to be in the thick of things when it comes to the bush debate.
Your "article" is just an op-ed piece trying to bash Bush. Anyone who thinks Bush is responsible for the blackout is a complete fool.
There is your comment.

Yes I'm in the "thick of it" because that's all that is spewed around here. Since when can't I post about a different poster's comments? Isn't that what happens to mine and other's all the time? Moony made an ignorant post and Bleep needed a lesson in moonbeamology, no?:p You will get an "
" for thinking this editorial was "enlightening"(no pun intended;))

Oh, and you know where you can shove that "as usual" comment;) Your comments about Bush and his "bad" this and "bad" that are utter rhetoric tripe. Tax-cuts weren't for Bush's corporate cronies(I do believe everyone who pays taxes got a cut) and "special interests" exist on all sides of every single issue:p People knew he was going to rid Iraq of Saddam and his henchmen(there was a 14 month build-up of troops - what did you think he was going to do? You can rant and rave like a lunatic all you want about WMDs but you and I both know that there was more to going into Iraq than just the WMDs which people clung to. So take your accusations and place them where you placed your "as usual" comment until you can PROVE that WMDs were just a fabrication by Bush to "rush to war".


Now, I kindly ask you to have a better question, story, theory, or accusation before you call people out like you did. This same old song and dance is getting tiresome, I feel like I'm dealing with my 4 year old daughter who keeps pestering pestering pestering me about the same thing. I've answered the Iraq question a hundred times, I've gone over Clinton more than I cared to, and the accusations thrown at Bush have never been proven.
I grow tired of every new guy that thinks he's got a fast ball he can throw by me. Moonbeam is the old veteran rock thrower and under his wing he has nurtured LunyRay, DealMonkey, and others - are you now snuggling up under his wing too? :D

CkG
 

Tab

Lifer
Sep 15, 2002
12,145
0
71
Originally posted by: Kaiynne
gsaldivar, Tabb, Millennium and as usual CADkindaGUY.
Forgot to add moonie in that! After all we know he can judge who is good and evil!
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
69,687
5,152
126
Caddy's motto is if it's bad news about Republicans it can't be true.

The energy companies bought and paid for deregulation with campaign contributions. In Calif they wrote the deregulatory law. It was passed by democrat and Republican alike.
 

Mill

Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
28,558
3
81
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Caddy's motto is if it's bad news about Republicans it can't be true.

The energy companies bought and paid for deregulation with campaign contributions. In Calif they wrote the deregulatory law. It was passed by democrat and Republican alike.
Your damn right it was passed by BOTH freaking parties.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
69,687
5,152
126
Originally posted by: Millennium
Originally posted by: Moonbeam
Caddy's motto is if it's bad news about Republicans it can't be true.

The energy companies bought and paid for deregulation with campaign contributions. In Calif they wrote the deregulatory law. It was passed by democrat and Republican alike.
Your damn right it was passed by BOTH freaking parties.
And the damn Republican governor.

 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
69,687
5,152
126
Originally posted by: etech
Originally posted by: dualsmp
Cliff notes version for those who just drank 6 Coca Colas and forgot to take their Ritalin pill. ;)

The black out was caused by greedy power companies.

Roosevelt imposed regulations all power companies must follow; certain maintenance procedures, set profit levels, no blackmailing (either you pay more, or we shut the lights off). Bush Sr killed those off and companies like Enron went crazy raping people of money and well, all that Enron stuff. Clinton re-imposed regulation, and so did the Californian governor, but now Bush Jr has killed off regulation again. Some british power company took over the Niagara Mohawk power company and fired workers, raised prices, didn't pay for maintenance, all for profit and because of deregulation. A Texas power company pulled the same sh!t in Rio de Janiero a while back and now the power goes off there all the time because of mismanagement. Seems like the same thing is happening in the NE USA now too...
Interesting but has the cause of the blackout been proven to be poor maintence caused by deregulation?

cart, horse and all of that.
The news tonight says three powerlines in Ohio.

 

akers

Member
Dec 20, 2001
110
0
0
Somebody better do a LOT better homework than this. This article has more holes in it than a screen door. Things like, Enron, it became what it was under the Clinton administration and with the DIRECT influence and assistance of 2 senior Clinton officials. Most of the really big foreign contracts were helped along by the Clinton folks. Another example, California is not a Republican state and hasn't been in my lifetime (53 years). As a matter of fact every senior elected gov't offiicial is a democrat, from the governor on down. Both the state senate and legislature are controlled by the democrats.

You remind me of Gray Davis. Bush had been president for 2 weeks when Davis was blaming him for California's energy crisis.

I could go on for a few volumes but it is obviously a waste of time. It scares me that someone can publish erroneous and misleading information like this and so many people blindly follwo it because it is in print. Take the time and dig, find the information for yourself. Find the truth and you will just laugh when you read stuff like this.

I am curious to know just how many of you actually live in California and how old you are.
 

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