- July: The Taliban responds to international pressure and bans the growing of opium poppies within Afghani borders. Production of opium drops drastically, from 3,656 tons in 2000 to 185 tons in 2001. However, the effect isn't overly dramatic, as the West has a current surplus of heroin and other poppy-derived drugs, and the Taliban is believed to have a huge stockpile of poppies. (CCR)
- July 6: The Washington Post reports that, in an interview by Tucker Carlson in Talk magazine, George W. Bush recounts his oversight as governor of Texas of the execution of convicted murderer Karla Faye Tucker. Bush mocks Tucker's plea for clemency by saying in a high-pitched voice, "Please don't kill me." (Under Bush's governorship, convicts were executed even after being found mentally ill, after their lawyers had slept through their trials, and who were convicted on the testimony of a single, unreliable eyewitness. A Chicago Tribune study of the 131 inmates executed under Bush's term of office finds that "dozens" were convicted after manifestly unfair trial proceedings.) According to Carlson, Bush also used profanity during the interview, a claim disputed by campaign spokesman Karen Hughes, who says Carlson is lying because she has never once heard Bush utter an obscenity, a ludicrous charge given Bush's fondness for the four-letter word. "I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives," Carlson recalls, "but the striking thing about the way she lied was she know I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness." (Consortium News, Message Board Politics, Paul Waldman)
"Bohemian Grove" ceremony infiltrated by journalists
- July 15: The secretive Bohemian Grove organization, made up of dozens of top-level American and European politicians, businessmen, and financiers, holds their annual two-week "Cremation of Care" ritual in the forests of northern California near the logging town of Occidental. This time, satirical journalist Jon Ronson, accompanied by right-wing conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones and others, attempt to infiltrate and report on the proceedings. According to Ronson's information, the yearly ceremonies are hosted and attended by some of the most powerful men in the country, where they gather together to wear robes, drink beer, and burn effigies at the foot of giant carven owls. Many conspiracy theorists think of the Bohemian Grove ceremonies as, in Ronson's words, "the very heart of Luciferian globalist evil." Britain's David Icke says that at the Grove, the leaders of the free world morph back into their real identities (twelve-foot alien lizards), and the members routinely sexually abuse harems of women brainwashed through the MK-ULTRA mind-control program. "That place is sick!" says Jones. "You've got presidents and governors and prime ministers and corporate chieftains running around naked. They have orgies. They worship their devil owl." Rumors that dozens of local prostitutes are engaged for service are more likely, as are tales of group urination against the redwoods, along with members dancing around in drag, complete with large fake breasts and large "druid-like ceremonial altars" set up in front of giant wooden owls. A local lawyer, "Rick," who claims to have successfully infiltrated the ceremonies twice before, says of the ceremonies, "Very old. Very pagan. I'm sure it's meant to be harmless pranky-type fun."
- Local anti-Grove activist Mary Moore provides Ronson with a list of recent attendees. The list is quite exclusive, including former US presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, former cabinet ministers Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and Casper Weinberger, Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, Tory ex-cabinet minister Chris Patten, and movie stars Clint Eastwood and Danny Glover. She alludes to rumors that the participants sacrifice babies on altars, though she admits these are unconfirmed and doubts their veracity. "The truth is," says Moore, "I couldn't care less about what they do in their private lives. I don't care what their sexual habits are. Men are men. That's not news to me. I care about the networking. This is where the ruling-class bonding happens. This is the ultimate back room." Moore says that such gatherings as the "lakeside talks" are the real story of Bohemian Grove, and gives examples, such as discussions during a 1940s gathering which gave birth to the Manhattan Project; a 1978 gathering which saw a US Air Force general successfully plead the case for the B-2 bomber; and others.
- Ronson, along with Rick the lawyer, "infiltrate" the proceedings by dressing in sandals and casual clothing and merely walking into the campgrounds. (Alex Jones and his cohort attempt a more stealthy infiltration, and succeed in getting some grainy video footage while skulking about among the redwoods and falling into ditches; Rick says of Jones and his colleague, "They seem to be trapped in some sort of paranoid state.") Ronson observes a great many canvas tents, banks of public telephones and urinals, a live band playing rock and roll standards, and large clusters of elderly and middle-aged men "dancing and shouting and gulping down cocktails." Trams decorated with owl motifs shuttle attendees from one place to another around the grounds, and little red lanterns hang amongst the trees. Rick finds a number of photos fastened to a bulletin board, mostly of elderly men dressed in burlesque drag striking poses for the cameras or as Elvis impersonators, and a bulletin noting that an upcoming event will be hosted by "George Bush Sr." (Another list of attendees includes the name of former congressman Dick Cheney; CNN will later report that the elder Bush learned of his son's decision to name Cheney as his running mate while on a vacation camping outing in northern California.) Guest speakers at upcoming events are listed as, among others, Kissinger and former British prime minister John Major. A giant stone owl, fifty feet in height, nestles among two redwoods, garnished with black linen draperies -- "the shrine," Rick notes.
- Ronson and Rick find prime viewing spots for the 9 PM "Cremation of Care" ceremony. Accompanied by a single violin, a fellow in leaf-bedecked lederhosen extols at length the virtues of Nature: "Glorious! Glorious! Oh twigs! Oh boughs! Oh trees!" and so forth; then drums boom forth, and perhaps thirty black-robed men bearing flaming torches emerge in a procession, where they light a pyre at the foot of the giant stone owl. "Hail Bohemian!" shouts high priest Jay Jacobus, and tells the crowd that "Dull Care, the enemy of Beauty," will be slain here and now. A berobed figure, apparently the personification of Dull Care, appears, mocking the proceedings in psuedo-Shakespearian language, and is challenged by the high priest and the participants, who chant, "Midsummer set us free!" "Death" appears, floating in a gondola, and throws an effigy of Dull Care into the lake, while the man in the Dull Care costume pretends to die, with appropriate histrionics. A huge fireworks display marks the moment, and the crowd breaks into a rousing rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In." The ceremony is over, except for dozens of elderly men, having been helped to their feet, lining up side by side to urinate on the trees, ignoring the dozens of public toilets.
- On returning to his hotel room, Ronson meets up with Jones and his colleagues, who have managed to capture a few minutes of the ceremony on video tape before their camera fell over. Jones has a quite different take on the ceremony than Ronson. Ronson sees the ceremony as essentially harmless, a bunch of powerful old men playing at being pagans, drinking to excess, and peeing on trees -- an extension of their fraternity days, perhaps. Jones calls the entire ceremony a paean to cult-like, Satanic decadence and insists that real human sacrifices were performed, though he himself did not witness any. Jones will report, self-importantly, that he personally stared the New World Order in its collective face and survived to bring the tale to the world. (Jon Ronson)
- July 27: The FDA officially endorses the use of Cipro, by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, as the best drug to counter the effects of anthrax. This is interesting in light of the fact that Cipro had caused severe, life-threatening reactions in many test subjects, and that there are several other drugs on the market that do as well against anthrax as Cipro. The FDA denies charges that it is operating in collusion with Bayer. (CCR)
- July 28: The Republican national convention opens in Philadelphia, to officially nominate George W. Bush as its presidential candidate. The official GOP platform accuses the Clinton administration of "weak leadership," and states that the Bush administration will allow the intelligence community to operate freely against "Iraq's renewed chemical and biological weapons programs" as well as North Korea and India's nuclear programs. It also states, regarding the US military, "sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness." Ironic when read in light of the Iraq deployment. Another excerpt from the platform is equally ironic in light of events in Iraq: "A comprehensive strategy for combating the new dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction must include a variety of other measures to contain and prevent the spread of such weapons. We need the cooperation of friends and allies. Nor should the intelligence community be made the scapegoat for political misjudgments." It also pledges a renewed commitment in tax dollars to military industries such as Halliburton. It makes no mention whatsoever of Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda in its short, generic section on terrorism. The platform concludes with this rather undemocratic promise: "A Republican president and a Republican Congress can achieve the unity of national governance that has so long been absent."
- Although the Republican delegates and convention audience are both overwhelmingly white, as is the party leadership, in order to portray a more diverse face to Americans watching on TV, the party makes a tremendous effort to give virtually every black Republican officeholder a chance to speak from the podium. Bush will only receive 8% of black votes, but "[t]he African-American officeholders who were paraded on the podium in Philadelphia were not intended to attract black voters," writes liberal pundit Al Franken. "They were presented for the consumption of suburban whites who don't want to vote for an overtly racist party, the kind of party that would deliberately purge the voting rolls in Florida of tens of thousands of blacks who should never have been purged. ...So, it's a balancing act. Pursue Nixon's Southern strategy: flog the [Confederate] flag in Georgia and South Carolina, suppress votes in black neighborhoods, but feature the black Republican school board treasurer from Monroe, Louisiana, at your national convention." Or, in the words of California Republican Shannon Reeves, himself an African-American, they are used as "window dressing."
- The convention also marks the first time that the now-infamous "free speech zones" are employed. In Philadelphia, of all cities, the citizens who come to protest the GOP ticket are restricted to a fenced-in "First Amendment Zone" in FDR Park, well away from the convention center. Permits to demonstrate anywhere else are virtually impossible to obtain. One activist later says, "If that's the zone where the First Amendment applies in Philadelphia, that means de facto that in the rest of the city, the First Amendment doesn't apply, and we think that's outrageous." Of course, the idea will be used time and again to pen up anti-Bush protesters, while supporters of Bush are free to chant, sing, and wave their own signs up close to the president and, of course, to the media cameras stationed nearby." (GOP/Buzzflash, CNN, Al Franken)
- July 30: Dick Cheney, Bush's running mate, appears on ABC's This Week to lie about his former company Halliburton's dealings with Iraq, a country specifically prohibited for business dealings with American companies. From 1997 through mid-2000, while Cheney was CEO, Halliburton subsidiary Dresser Industries sold $30 million worth of water and sewage treatment pumps, spare parts for oil facilities, and pipeline equipment to Saddam Hussein's regime. Cheney tells host George Stephanopoulos, "I had a firm policy that we wouldn't do anything in Iraq, even -- even arrangements that were supposedly legal.... We've not done any business in Iraq since the sanctions [were] imposed, and I had a standing policy that I wouldn't do that." When later confronted with the facts of Halliburton's multi-million dollar, long-term business deals with Hussein, Cheney, the former CEO, will claim he had no idea his company was doing business with Iraq. (Al Franken)
- Late Summer: Enron gears up to make its biggest push ever, on behalf of George W. Bush's candidacy for president. Lay and Enron are be Bush's biggest campaign contributors, followed closely by Enron's Houston law firm, Vinson & Elkins. Enron makes its fleet of private aircraft available to the Bush campaign, though the campaign would have to reimburse Enron for their use. Lay is one of the Bush campaign's first "Pioneers," fundraisers who contribute $100,000 or more to the campaign, and Enron and its executives donate $713,200 to the Republican National Committee. Fully half of Bush's top twenty donors have corporate ties to Enron. (Kevin Phillips)