BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

MORE ON THE VIRTUES OF THE $50,000,000 BRIDGE AND A $2,000 HAMMER...

Great article from Krugman today (NY Times) re: US firms getting their way in Iraq.

Here's a quick excerpt -

"For example, in July two enterprising Middle Eastern firms started offering cellphone service in Baghdad, setting up jury-rigged systems compatible with those of neighboring countries. Since the collapse of Baghdad's phone system has been a major source of postwar problems, coalition authorities should have been pleased.

But no: the authorities promptly shut down the services. Cell service, they said, could be offered only by the winners in a bidding process — one whose rules, revealed on July 31, seemed carefully designed to shut out any non-American companies. (In the face of strenuous protests the rules were revised, but still seem to favor the usual suspects.) Oddly, the announcement of the winners, originally scheduled for Sept. 5, keeps being delayed. Meanwhile, only Paul Bremer and his people have cellphones — and, thanks to the baffling decision to give that contract to MCI, even those phones don't work very well. (Aside from the fact that its management perpetrated history's biggest accounting fraud, MCI has no experience in building cell networks.)

Then there's electricity. One reason Iraq still faces blackouts is that local experts and institutions were excluded from the repair business. Instead, the exclusive contract was given to Bechtel, whose Republican ties are almost as strong as Halliburton's. And if a recent story in The Washington Post is accurate, Bechtel continues to ignore pleas by Iraqi engineers for essential spare parts.

Meanwhile, several companies with close personal ties to top administration officials have begun brazenly offering their services as facilitators for companies seeking Iraqi business."

Cool.

more later...

Monday, September 29, 2003

Please be aware of the following story…’coz it’s “developing quickly.”

Some Bushies done fucked up real good. Broke the law by exposing the ‘dentity of a CIA agent ta git back at her husband for talking bad ‘bout GW in public.

This particular story started back in July when turbo-conservative columnist Robert Novak wrote a column that effectively exposed former US Ambassador (and Bush critic) Joeseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative. Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate the claim that Iraq had tried to buy “yellowcake” uranium from that particular superpower. That claim was one of GW big reasons for bombing Baghdad. Wilson found nothing in Niger and said so publicly. The Bushies got mad, “someone” called Novak and “mentioned” that Wilson’s wife was a “weapons of mass destruction” expert for the CIA...and Novak wrote the column saying as much, presumably, to send a message to Wilson.

That story was dead…until just a few days ago…when the CIA decided to ask the Justice Department to “investigate the matter” since it’s AGAINST THE LAW to blow an agent’s cover. (Methinks they’re sick and tired of taking it in the teeth for the Resident and have finally set out to protect their own interests.)

Here’s a quick excerpt from Howard Kurtz’s latest WashPost article to fill in a few more blanks.

"A senior administration official told The Post on Saturday that two top government officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. Wilson said yesterday that journalists for the three major broadcast networks told him they had been contacted by someone in the White House.”

Cool. "They" (whoever they are) didn't just call Novak. They called six other jounalists to "out" Plame! An "off-hand" comment made SEVEN times?!!! Did I mention that it's AGAINST THE LAW to blow an agent's cover?

The big question: WHO MADE THE ABOVE MENTIONED PHONE CALLS AND WHY? Wilson thinks it was Karl Rove and has said so publicly.

At this point, the “White House” is saying nothing. They’re crossing their fingers and hoping that this latest fiasco will fade away.

It’s not gonna…

More later.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Great article in the Guardian today re: future US spending on reconstruction projects in Ee-raq.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,3180370,00.html

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that GW intends to spend that 160 odd Billion dollars that he’s been asking for.

-$9 million to modernize Iraq's postal system, including establishment of ZIP codes.

(To make it easier to ship products to the US.)

-$30 million to provide half-day classes in English for 5,000 workers.

(So SBC can employ English-speaking Iraqis at their future call centers in suburban Baghdad. Just like the ones in India. Next time you get a call pushing high-speed internet access, ask the telemarketer to describe the “scene” outside his or her window…if they have one.)

$99 million to build and modernize 26 jails and prisons for 8,500 inmates.

(Essential for any society that plans to struggle with super-high unemployment, drug/alcohol abuse, and general unrest from the “rabble.”)

-$55 million for an oil pipeline repair team that can respond quickly to new reports of sabotage or other problems, as part of a $2.1 billion effort to rebuild Iraq's oil industry.

(And who gets that “repair team” project, boys and girls? Can you say “Halliburton?” I knew you could.)

-$125 million to rebuild railroad tracks.

(To get future Old Navy shipments – cargo pants, pullovers, fake vintage tees - from the factories to the ships…lickity-split. My blue polo was made in Vietnam, and set me back about $4.99)

Let’s go back to Halliburton. This story was featured in today’s “Yahoo-News.” I know, a trusted name in “news,” but I’ll take interesting stories from anyplace I can find ‘em.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Democrats in Congress called for hearings into the rapidly rising value of no-bid contracts awarded to energy giant Halliburton for its work on the postwar reconstruction of Iraq.

Senators Frank Lautenberg and Joseph Lieberman wrote in a letter to Susan Collins, Republican chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that Halliburton -- an oil services company formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney -- has earned some two billion dollars for its work in Iraq. The figure is much higher than estimates made immediately after the war.

(Gee. How’d that happen? Back to the article.)

The lawmakers, who said the value of the contracts escalate daily, called for hearings to "examine the details surrounding these secretive contracting procedures."

Among the contracts awarded to Halliburton is one from the US Army Corps of Engineers to rehabilitate Iraq's oil fields which has ballooned to some 1.25 billion dollars, up from 700 million dollars just a few weeks ago, wrote Lautenberg and Lieberman, top Democrat on the Committee and a candidate for the White House.

Enough…

Like I said a few weeks ago, if Uncle Sam was willing to shell out $2,000 for a hammer back in the day, yo, how much do you think he’ll spend to rebuild Ee-raqi oilfields?

Also…

Arnold has ties to the Carlisle group. No joke.

This excerpt is from a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle re: environmentalists heckling Arnold at a recent appearance outside Santa Barbara.

“But longtime GOP fund-raiser Bob Grady, a managing director of the Carlyle Group, said that as an environmental adviser to Schwarzenegger he is convinced of the actor's credentials.

"I want a governor, someone who will fight oil drilling and ocean pollution, " he told the crowd. "Green Republicans have a new champion, and that man is Arnold Schwarzenegger."

A MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE CARLYLE GROUP WORKING AS AN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISOR?!!! Are you fucking kidding me?!!!!!!!

That’s like…a…a…fox bein' put in charge of the...dammit. I don’t know where to start with that one!!! It’s too obvious.

Any chance that Arnold has some financial ties to Carlyle? Does he have enough cash to give Carlyle? If he does, he’s made a killing in the last two years.

More later.

Blacksab67@hotmail.com


Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Hello...

More genius from the Onion. Here you go...

"Church, State Joyfully Reunite After 230-Year Trial Separation"

WASHINGTON, DC—Following a two-and-a-quarter-century-long trial separation, Church and State reunited in the U.S. Department of Justice press room Monday. "Even through all the bad times, I knew there had to be a way to get these two old friends back together," Attorney General John Ashcroft said. "With a little counseling and faith-based intervention, I knew Church and State would work it out. It was meant to be." Effective Oct. 15, prayer will be mandatory in public schools and congressional sessions will open with Holy Communion.

www.theonion.com. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, September 18, 2003


STUNNING NEWS

From the AP...9/18/03

CHICAGO - "McDonald's Corp. has enlisted the aid of Oprah Winfrey's personal trainer Bob Greene to promote an adult version of the Happy Meal, the fast-food giant's latest effort to offer healthier products.

Instead of Happy Meal standards like a burger and a toy, the new Go Active meal will include a salad, an exercise booklet and a pedometer meant to encourage walking.

Fitness guru BGreene has agreed to help promote the Go Active Meal, which is being test-marketed at 150 McDonald's restaurants in Indiana.

McDonald's and other fast-food chains have tried to offer healthier fare that will still temp tastebuds as the fat and calorie content of their core products has come under scrutiny. Burger King, the No. 2 hamburger chain, planned to launch a new line of low-fat, baguette-style chicken sandwiches on Thursday."

Doo bee doo.

So many places to start.
Do I need to go into this?
A pedometer to "encourage" walking? Encourage walking?!
An exercise booklet from Ronald? (That's like getting a "how to" manual on gun control from Charlton Heston.) Give me the toys, muthafucka!

I did swing by the "BK" at the corner of Sunset and La Brea this morn - the "baguettes" have yet to arrive. You will hear it here first...when they do.

More later...





Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Please...

http://www.theonion.com/3935/opinion1.html

Right now. I swear to god it'll be worth your while.

Pure genius.

More later...

Monday, September 08, 2003

REMEMBER THE $2,000 HAMMER?

Last night, Smirky McChimperstein was kind enough to let us know that he’s gonna “ask” (Congress) for 87 BILLION bucks to fight the “war on terror” and to “liberate” (ie rebuild) Iraq. That figure comes on top of the 79 BILLION bucks that Congress approved back in April.

166 BILLION DOLLARS?!!

Any idea how GW intends to spend that cash?

Read on. This comes from Tom Tomorrow’s website, Thismodernworld.com. It’s a blog from Iraq. Unsubstantiated…but interesting nonetheless:

“One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we’ll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who’ll listen.

As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.

Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.

A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!”

Hm-mmm.

Is there any chance that the “American company” is a subsidiary of Halliburton?

Me wonder.

It's not about oil. It's about oil, and bridges, and prisons, and telecommunications, and cheap labor, and...

More later.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

‘ello, kiddies.

I’ve good news for ye.

Finally…

Britney speaks!!!

From the Drudgereport…

BRITNEY COMES OUT SWINGING FOR BUSH
Wed Sep 03 2003 19:35:45 ET

Britney Spears came out swinging for President Bush on Wednesday during an interview with CNN's Tucker Carlson.

CARLSON: A lot of entertainers have come out against the war in Iraq. Have you?
SPEARS: Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.
CARLSON: Do you trust this president?
SPEARS: Yes, I do.
CARLSON: Excellent. Do you think he's going to win again?
SPEARS: I don't know. I don't know that.

END

Thank the sweet baby Jesus. It’s over. What a powerful interview. Too much hardcore political analysis for my tiny brain to process.

And it hurts.

I’ve been wondering where my favorite politico would come out on “the whole war thing.” Like all the other pre-teens who’ve been desperately waiting for word from Britney (ie our queen), I can now make up my own mind re: Iraq. Thus, I, too, will follow the President in every decision he makes and will “just support that” and will “be faithful in what happens.”

Here goes.

(Pause)

Whoa. Waitaminute.

Oh my god.

I haveta say…life is already, like, SO MUCH EASIER! Like, instantly!

God, what have I been thinking! Why have I been doubting Him?! What’s my fucking problem?!! If I would’ve adopted Britney’s (blind faith) back in the fall of 2000, why…I’d be so much happier now! But no, I had to “take the other side” and doubt his EVERY move, like, all the time. What a fool! It’s so much cooler to think that GW is fighting for me instead of worrying about the ways that he’s “F-ing me” in the face.

Boyo, it feels awesome! No more worries! No more cares! No more obsessing about Halliburton and John Ashcroft and the Carlisle Group! I’m (finally) free to concentrate on the important things in Merican life, like adding a new gym onto my Bel Air mansion or eating at Orso or buying fake vintage t-shirts from Urban Outfitters! I’m (finally) free to roam the internet, looking for cool stuff like girls and dating tips and Atkins Diet junk. Man, I’ve been wasting so much time reading foreign reports of “the stuff” that’s going on in my own country. (What a maroon!) Judges schmudges! Deregulation schmee-regulation! Seriously! Britney and me have other worlds to conquer! We’ll let GW do his job and…he’ll let us do ours!

Huh? What’s our job? Well, Britney sings…and me buy things. That’s me job! Me buy things to help the ‘conomy.

I must say...her doubts about the next election are troubling. Buck up, little camper: I know you have faith!

If everyone feels the same way Brit and I do, come election time, maybe we won’t haveta have one!

I’ll wait for further word from Britney and will then make up my own mind accordingly.

“Show me how you want it to be…”

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Back from a long trip through the Grand Tetons, Motorhead/Dio/Maiden, and the Video Music Awards. A trip that ended in an interesting conversation with a TSA screener at the Denver Airport.

Quickly: My employers were kind enough to fly yours truly from New York to Denver (for my brother’s wedding) after a brief stop in Manhattan for the VMA’s. (95% hip-hop people - had no idea who anyone was – spent most of my time in the VIP lounge drinking free beer.) So, it was up to me to get meself from Denver to L.A, which I did by purchasing a one-way ticket on Frontier Airlines.

Everything was hunky dory until I hit the screening line. That’s when I found out that purchasing a one-way ticket automatically puts you in the “check this guy out” column. In fact, the ticket is marked with an “SSSS” right below the flight info.

I was dragged aside, led to the special screening area and embarrassed in front of the predominately white crowd. I de-shoed, de-belted and placed everything I had in the thingamajiggy. The woman at the screening table began to dig through my bag as some dude worked me over with his tricorder.

The scariest thing in the duffle was an Iron Maiden shirt and a week’s worth of slightly used boxers, but that’s not what they were looking for.

“It’s the one-way, ticket, huh?”
“Excuse me?”
“You know, that put me in this line.”
“Right. Well, if you wanted to blow up a plane, you wouldn’t buy a round trip ticket, would you.”

Come again?

IF YOU WANTED TO BLOW UP A PLANE, YOU WOULDN’T BUY A ROUND TRIP TICKET, WOULD YOU?

Huh?

“Why not? To save money?” That’s what I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut, because I was not in the mood to spend the rest of the day in the TSA office…answering questions about my possible “links” with “terra-ists” and “evil-doers” and my copy of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”

The TSA screener then turned to me and said, “See, they think they can outsmart us, but we’re onto them.”

I had, oh, I don’t know, about a thousand reactions to that statement, but chose instead to stand there like a jerk. In fact, I wanted to thank her for protecting me. Like many Mericans, I hated living through the Clinton administration. A dreadful time…when planes were slamming into buildings on a daily basis.

I was, however, instantly transported to the Homeland Security seminar were they drill the above-mentioned statements into the brains of their (non-union) workers: “Terrorists Do it One Way!” “Adidas Sambas: Indoor Soccer Shoes or Comfortable Bomb Carriers?” “The Leather Belt: Not Just a Pants Holder Anymore.” (I swear to god I heard a Newark screener tell a befuddled traveler that terrorists DO carry bombs in their shoes just a few days before.)

She finished checking my stuff, and I was free to go. A few stares from a Wal-Martian or two, but that was about it. I couldn’t help but think that this whole thing is done for them…to keep them in a constant state of you know what.

Holy shit. Some guy just walked by my apartment wearing chinos, a red t-shirt and a Mexican wrestling mask.

All is not lost! There is still hope!

More later…





Back from a long trip through the Grand Tetons, Motorhead/Dio/Maiden, and the Video Music Awards…and a trip that ended in an interesting conversation with a TSA screener at the Denver Airport.

Quickly: My employers were kind enough to fly yours truly from New York to Denver (for my brother’s wedding) after a brief stop in Manhattan for the VMA’s. (95% hip-hop people - had no idea who anyone was – spent most of my time in the VIP lounge drinking free beer.) So, it was up to me to get meself from Denver to L.A, which I did by purchasing a one-way ticket on Frontier Airlines.

Everything was hunky dory until I hit the screening line. That’s when I found out that purchasing a one-way ticket automatically puts you in the “check this guy out” column. In fact, the ticket is marked with an “SSSS” right below the flight info.

I was dragged aside, led to the special screening area and embarrassed in front of the predominately white crowd. I de-shoed, de-belted and placed everything I had in the thingamajiggy. The woman at the screening table began to dig through my bag as some dude worked me over with his tricorder.

The scariest thing in the duffle was an Iron Maiden shirt and a week’s worth of slightly used boxers, but that’s not what they were looking for.

“It’s the one-way, ticket, huh?”
“Excuse me?”
“You know, that put me in this line.”
“Right. Well, if you wanted to blow up a plane, you wouldn’t buy a round trip ticket, would you.”

Come again?

IF YOU WANTED TO BLOW UP A PLANE, YOU WOULDN’T BUY A ROUND TRIP TICKET, WOULD YOU?

Huh?

“Why not? To save money?” That’s what I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut, because I was not in the mood to spend the rest of the day in the TSA office…answering questions about my possible “links” with “terra-ists” and “evil-doers” and my copy of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”

The TSA screener then turned to me and said, “See, they think they can outsmart us, but we’re onto them.”

I had, oh, I don’t know, about a thousand reactions to that statement, but chose instead to stand there like a jerk. In fact, I wanted to thank her for protecting me. Like many Mericans, I hated living through the Clinton administration. A dreadful time…when planes were slamming into buildings on a daily basis.

I was, however, instantly transported to the Homeland Security seminar were they drill the above-mentioned statements into the brains of their (non-union) workers: “Terrorists Do it One Way!” “Adidas Sambas: Indoor Soccer Shoes or Comfortable Bomb Carriers?” “The Leather Belt: Not Just a Pants Holder Anymore.” (I swear to god I heard a Newark screener tell a befuddled traveler that terrorists DO carry bombs in their shoes just a few days before.)

She finished checking my stuff, and I was free to go. A few stares from a Wal-Martian or two, but that was about it. I couldn’t help but think that this whole thing is done for them…to keep them in a constant state of you know what.

Holy shit. Some guy just walked by my apartment wearing chinos, a red t-shirt and a Mexican wrestling mask.

All is not lost! There is still hope!

More later…