September 02, 2005


by Greg Palast

Friday, September 2, 2005

The National Public Radio news anchor was so excited I thought she'd piss on herself: the President of the United had flown his plane down to 1700 feet to get a better look at the flood damage! And there was a photo of our Commander-in-Chief taken looking out the window. He looked very serious and concerned.

That was yesterday. Today he played golf. No kidding.

I'm sure the people of New Orleans would have liked to show their appreciation for the official Presidential photo-strafing, but their surface-to-air missiles were wet.

There is nothing new under the sun. In 1927, a Republican President had his photo taken as the Mississippi rolled over New Orleans. Calvin Coolidge, "a little fat man with a notebook in his hand," promised to rebuild the state. He didn't. Instead, he left to play golf with Ken Lay or the Ken Lay railroad baron equivalent of his day.

In 1927, the Democratic Party had died and was awaiting burial. As depression approached, the coma-Dems, like Franklin Roosevelt, called for balancing the budget.

Then, as the waters rose, one politician finally said, roughly, "Screw this! They're lying! The President's lying! The rich fat cats that are drowning you will do it again and again and again. They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope and when you complain, they blame Blacks and Jews and immigrants. Then they push your kids under. I say, Kick'm in the ass and take your rightful share!"

Huey Long laid out a plan: a progressive income tax, real money for education, public works to rebuild Louisiana and America, an end to wars for empire, and an end to financial oligarchy. The waters receded, the anger did not, and Huey "Kingfish" Long was elected Governor of Louisiana in 1928.

At the time, Louisiana schools were free, but not the textbooks. Governor Long taxed Big Oil to pay for the books. Rockefeller's oil companies refused pay the textbook tax, so Long ordered the National Guard to seize Standard Oil's fields in the Delta.

Huey Long was called a "demagogue" and a "dictator." Of course. Because it was Huey Long who established the concept that a government of the people must protect the people, school, house, and feed them and give every man or woman a job who needs one.

Government, he said, "We The People," not plutocrats nor Halliburtons, must build bridges and levies to keep the waters from rising over our heads. All we had to do was share the nation's wealth we created as a nation. But that meant facing down what he called the "concentrations of monopoly power" to finance the needs of the public.

In other words, Huey Long founded the modern Democratic Party. Franklin Roosevelt and the party establishment, scared senseless of Long's ineluctable march to the White House, adopted his program, called it the New Deal, and later The New Frontier and the Great Society.

America and the party prospered.

America could use a Democratic Party again and there's a rumor it's alive -- somewhere.

And now is the moment, as it was in '27. As the bodies float in the streets of New Orleans, now is not the time for the Democrats to shirk and slink away, bleating they can't "politicize" this avoidable disaster.

Seventy-six years ago this week, Huey Long was shot down, assassinated at the age of 43. But the legacy of his combat remains, from Social Security to veterans' mortgage loans.

There is no such thing as a "natural" disaster. Hurricanes happen, but death comes from official neglect, from tax cuts for the rich that cut the heart out of public protection. The corpses in the street are victims of a class war in which only one side has a general.

Where is our Huey Long? America needs just one Kingfish to stand up and say that our nation must rid itself of the scarecrow with the idiot chuckle, who has left America broken and in danger while he plays tinker-toy Napoleon on other continents.

I realize that the middle of rising flood is a hell of a bad time to give Democrats swimming lessons; but it's act up now or we all go under.

A pedagogical note: As I travel around the USA, I'm just horrified at America's stubborn historical amnesia. Americans, as Sam Cooke said, don't know squat about history. We don't learn the names of a nation's capitol until the 82d Airborne lands there. And it doesn't count if you've watched a Ken Burns documentary on PBS.

I suggest starting with this: read "Huey Long" by the late historian Harry T. Williams. If you want to ease into it, get the Randy Newman album based on it (Good Old Boys) with the song, "Louisiana 1927." Listen to part of the song at Do NOT watch the crappy right-wing agit-prop film, "Huey Long," by Ken Burns.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his commentaries or view his investigative reports for BBC Television at

A horrible, horrible mess... and where's the Guard?

Four hot days without food and water and people at the Superdome in New Orleans - people who did what their government told them - began dying of dehydration. The news reported last night that 2,000 National Guard troops were already on the ground. 2,000?? For a disaster of this magnitude?? What is going on??

"Missing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people."

- Lt. Andy Thaggard, a spokesman for the Mississippi National Guard, commenting on how having so many troops in Iraq is hampering relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

This morning, MSNBC is reporting that tens of thousands of guard assets are "ON THEIR WAY" to the area... too late for the people who died in the Superdome or the countless tens of thousands still stranded, starving and without water, in flooded neighborhoods. I wonder why 10,000 National Guard troops weren't deployed on DAY 2 of this disaster?

August 30, 2005

Limbaugh Lie Machine

Rush Limbaugh was on a roll this week. He got caught in so many lies that Karl Rove must be jealous.

Lie 'o The Week: Limbaugh made a big deal about Bill Clinton, claiming he only met with CIA head George Tenet "Twice" in his term as President.

The Truth: Clinton had two meetings a week with Tenet and had the PDB created as a means of communicating intelligence. Remember PDB's? Presidential Daily Briefings? Remember one that George Bush refused to read? You know...the one titled, "Bin Laden determined to attack Within the United States"?

Here's the long list of Limbaugh lies for this week:

What Noble Cause Did Casey Sheehan Die For?

So our soldiers are dying to install an Islamic State supported by IRAN??? Has the world suddenly turned upside down, or is it just me??

"Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation. No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam."
- Iraqi Constitution supported by Iran-backed Shiites and the Bush Administration (but opposed by Sunni leaders)

"Fortunately, after years of effort and expectations in Iraq, an Islamic state has come to power and the constitution has been established on the basis of Islamic precepts. We must congratulate the Iraqi people and authorities for this victory."
- Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of Iran's powerful ultra-conservative Guardian Council

"This is the future of the new Iraqi government - it will be in the hands of the clerics. I wanted Iraqi women to be free, to be able to talk freely and to able to move around. I am not going to stay here."
- Dr. Raja Kuzai, an obstetrician and secular Shiite member of the Assembly who met President Bush in the White House in November 2003.

August 29, 2005

The next evolution... Smear Combos!

American 'Sacrifice': What does it mean?

In response to America’s growing anger about Iraq, President Bush has been repeating the word ‘sacrifice’ in most of his speeches. In his latest radio address, for example, the President told us that “Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve.”

But is it right--is it American--to call for ‘sacrifice’ in this way? How, in other words, are Americans to respond when President Bush speaks to us of 'sacrifice'?

Sometimes, the best way to make sense of President Bush’s words is to compare his speeches to those of other Presidents.

Perhaps the most powerful use of the word ‘sacrifice’ by a U.S. President can be found in Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address. In this speech, Roosevelt explained what it meant for America to use its vast resources to aid those nations fighting the war against conquering dictatorships in Europe and Asia:

“We must all prepare to make the sacrifices that the emergency-almost as serious as war itself-demands. Whatever stands in the way of speed and efficiency in defense preparations must give way to the national need.”

He then linked this idea of ‘sacrifice’ to his idea of ‘Four Freedoms,’ a concept so powerful that it continues to inspire us 65 years later:

Full Column

August 28, 2005

Republican SMEAR Machine In Action...

One of my friends, a staunch Republican, emailed this to me. I endure the jokes and right-wing crap he sends me and take most of it with a grain of salt. I've learned that you don't waste your energy trying to convert the unconvertable!

This one, however, was just sickening... and regardless of your personal opinion on the war in Iraq, to suggest this woman is on the side of our mortal enemy is beyond bad taste. She has sacrificed more than these chicken-hawk, country club Republicans will ever know... she lost her son to this War. If anyone has a right to speak, it is Cindy Sheehan.

Once again, I remind our Republican friends who question our patriotism and refuse to even debate whether this war is actually growing worldwide terrorism:

A great Republican President once said: "That we are to stand by the president, right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Amen, Teddy.

Strategizing a Christian Coup d'Etat

I guess what bothers me most about this article is not just the EXTREMISM, but the subtle, pervasive idea that fuels the religious right and keeps the Republican Party in power: The idea is that Jesus Christ would WANT a government to FORCE people to live according biblical principles.

Though none of us should be so arrogant as to pretend to know the will of Christ, we can certainly observe how Jesus lived and draw some simple conclusions. First, Jesus wasn't a fan of people who wore their religion on their sleeve and proclaimed themselves righteous. The righteous religious leaders were the ones who eventually demanded Jesus' execution. Second, the core teaching of Jesus was that salvation could only come by believing in Him. Jesus certainly had the power to rule the world from on high... so I think if He thought government was the best way to bring people around to God's will, he would have taken a throne on Earth.

Christians who believe government should be a tool of Christianity not only trash our beloved constitution, but they turn my beloved Lord and Savior into a politician. That is wrong, and I will always stand firm against that type of ignorance. Am I wrong?

GREENVILLE, S.C. — It began, as many road trips do, with a stop at Wal-Mart to buy a portable DVD player.

But Mario DiMartino was planning more than a weekend getaway. He, his wife and three children were embarking on a pilgrimage to South Carolina.

"I want to migrate and claim the gold of the Lord," said the 38-year-old oil company executive from Pennsylvania. "I want to replicate the statutes and the mores and the scriptures that the God of the Old Testament espoused to the world."

DiMartino, who drove here recently to look for a new home, is a member of Christian Exodus, a movement of politically active believers who hope to establish a government based upon Christian principles.

At a time when evangelicals are exerting influence on the national political stage — having helped secure President Bush's reelection — Christian Exodus believes that people of faith have failed to assert their moral agenda: Abortion is legal. School prayer is banned. There are limits on public displays of the Ten Commandments. Gays and lesbians can marry in Massachusetts.

Christian Exodus activists plan to take control of sheriff's offices, city councils and school boards. Eventually, they say, they will control South Carolina. They will pass godly legislation, defying Supreme Court rulings on the separation of church and state.

Full Story