Monday, September 24, 2007

Why does Washington want to partition Iraq against Iraqis will?

I'm deeply disappointed that my generally progressive senator, Barbara Boxer, is shilling for carving up Iraq, a neocon wet dream also advocated by corporate tool Joe Biden, despite polls consistently showing Iraqis oppose the idea (see below).

She doesn't bother to ask what Iraqis themselves actually want:

September 2007 poll:


March 2007 poll:


If Boxer, Biden, and flat-earther Brownback really want to stabilize Iraq, they might demand that Bush pressure Saudi to stop sending 45% of the foreign fighters into Iraq who likely are fomenting ethnic violence to make partition look attractive.

Early on when mosques were bombed, Sunni and Shia clerics got together to condemn the attacks. Despite several years of ethnic violence since Bush invaded most Iraqis (with the exception of the Kurds) want to remain one country.

How would we be teaching them democracy by dividing their country against their will?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

how to pressure GOP Sen. Stallurker Fascistpants to give up Iraq War, even if he's not your rep

Send them a letter or postcard (email from non-constituents are filtered out) to their campaign headquarters or district offices that simply says,
Dear Sen. or Rep. Stallurker Fascistpants,

My Democratic senator or representative seems to be in no danger of defeat, so I have decided to donate money and/or time to your opponent instead because you are ignoring the will of the American people and continue to support keeping troops in Iraq.

Although you usually win by a comfortable margin, you will probably be defeated since two-thirds (or whatever the current number is) of the American people want us to pull out of Iraq. Since over 70% know the Iraq War is about oil and Alan Greenspan recently confirmed this, I doubt more propaganda will help.

If you actually believe what the Bush administration says about Iraq, consider that every poll of Iraqis, even those taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority and the British Ministry of Defense show the Iraqis want the occupation to end.

You guys did do a nice job of setting up a democracy in Iraq, and that parliament is showing their independence by demanding mercenaries be withdrawn and that the occupation end.

You are obviously free to do what you want, but if you continue your present course, the GOP could face an epic route in the 2008 election. A defeat on that scale will mean your services as a lobbyist or corporate board member won't be so valuable. Maybe you won't even find another job. Jimmy Carter could use your help building houses for poor people.

Be smart. I know it's painful to give up a cash cow like Iraq that has made so much money for your corporate patrons, but consider it a "corporate restructuring" where you shed divisions that could bankrupt the whole company. If you cut your losses in Iraq, you will still have a seat in Congress and be able to line your and your friends pockets another day in other ways.


PS: I was going to keep that awkward incident when you misinterpreted my nervous toe-tapping in the mens room between us. Now I'm not so sure.

NOTE: You might want to include a photocopy of your check to the opponent. Black out your address and account number though, so they don't send someone to kill your dog.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

UK: Over 100 MPs demand British gov't stop lying about role in Iraq OIL THEFT LAW

To their credit, over 100 members of parliament are calling on the British government to come clean over its involvement in the drafting of Iraq's Hydrocarbon Law that is opposed by the Iraqi oil workers, scholars, five Nobel Laureates, and the Iraqis that happened to have heard what it will do. Here in the US, the number of those in Congress speaking honestly about oil motive can be counted on one hand. Maybe we need a lesson in Democracy from "Old Europe."

Excerpts from the motion by Katy Clark in Parliament:
  • That this House notes that Iraq's economy is heavily dependent on oil and that decisions about the future of Iraq's oil industry will have a major bearing on that country;
  • further notes that the constitution of Iraq states that oil and gas are owned by all the people of Iraq;
  • expresses concern that the British Government, in its involvement in the drafting of Iraq's new oil laws, has sought the views of international oil companies regarding the possible types of contracts that the Iraqi government should offer;
  • believes that decisions on the Iraqi oil industry should be made by the Iraqi people without outside interference;
  • and calls on the Government to disclose to the House all representations it has made in relation to the oil law.


Iraq War about Oil says former Fed Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan

Alan Greenspan served as Federal Reserve chairman from the Reagan administration until last year. Since his words could have a direct effect on the economy, he chose them carefully when he was in office.

Now that his memoir is coming out, he is saying what the rest of the world already knows and discusses openly, but the American mainstream media, Republicans, and even the vast majority of elected Democrats ignore like a spider: The Iraq War is about oil.

Until this becomes central to the public debate, everything said is about as meaningful and relevant as discussing what the tooth fairy's farts smell like.


September 16, 2007
Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil
Graham Paterson

AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil.

In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.

However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.

Greenspan, 81, is understood to believe that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the security of oil supplies in the Middle East.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Iraq oil law NOT theft for big oil says Bushie Khalilzad, former big oil consultant

Zalmay Khalizad, Bush's former ambassador to Iraq who was a consultant to Unocal on the trans-Afghanistan pipeline claims a Washington Post article about Iraq's Hydrocarbon Law was wrong to say Iraqis oppose it or that it is designed to give Iraq's TENS OF TRILLIONS in oil income to Bush's big oil cronies who are also his former employers.

Khalizad wrote this in a letter to the Washington Post to protest an article that, rather just repeating the White House talking points about the law dividing Iraq's oil profits between various ethnic groups, had the gall to cite Iraqis who opposed it because it gives away the bulk of their oil income to transnational oil companies like Exxon, Chevron, ConnocoPhillips, BP, and Shell.

Khalizad reminds us that neocons really went to Iraq to do charity work and spread democracy not kill people and pry the fillings from their teeth like they do everywhere else, saying:
...the article did not critically examine misplaced accusations that the oil law was designed to enable Americans to take control of these resources. Iraqi leaders themselves sought to enable international investment in this sector because they understood the inefficiency of Iraq's past statist and overcentralized policies.


See? Isn't it nice how concerned they are for the business efficiency of Iraq? Isn't that what business people do? Spend half a trillion dollars to show someone else how to run their business more efficiently with no thought of profit for themselves?

I guess that's why Bush had to threaten to throw Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki over the wall of the Green Zone if the Hydrocarbon Law didn't pass, why oil workers have threatened to mutiny if it does, and five Nobel laureates have banded together to oppose the law. They all just don't know what is good for Iraq.


Missteps and Mistrust Mark the Push for Legislation

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A12


"This was a very bad move by the Americans to push for this law,"
said Issam al-Chalabi, a former oil minister. "Now it looks like . . . the Americans are after oil -- they will bring their Exxons and Chevrons and they will control our oil again."


Meanwhile, bitterness was rising from many factions -- unions in the oil-rich port city of Basra, petroleum industry experts, Sunni politicians and those loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- that the law would allow foreign companies to make off with Iraq's oil wealth. A group of 419 Iraqi academics, engineers and oil industry experts would later sign an open letter to parliament stating that "it is clear that the government is trying to implement one of the demands of the American occupation."

The draft oil law, the letter stated, "lays the foundation for a fresh plundering of Iraq's strategic wealth and its squandering by foreigners, backed by those coveting power in the regions, and by gangs of thieves and pillagers."


Obviously, the Washington Post article put the neocons in a panic because if they had been thinking clearly they would have realized Khalizad's protest drew MORE attention to their lies and machinations about Iraq's oil not less.

If the Democrats were serious about ending the war and representing the people who voted for them, they would stop talking about the lies that got us into Iraq and whether or not we are succeeding at creating a stable, Democratic Iraq, a propaganda frame which no one in DC gives a crap about, and few outside of DC are fooled into believing they do.

Instead, they should start talking about whether wrestling the oil profits from Iraqis only to give them to transnational corporations will increase hatred of and terrorism toward the US, and what exactly average Americans get in return for our investment of tax dollars and blood to give Iraq's oil to those companies.

If consistently and repeatedly talked about that instead of the embarrassing, patronizing, childish way they and the Bushies talk to us about Iraq now, the war would be over in short order, and Bush, Cheney, and a lot of oil execs would be doing research on how to remove tar and feathers.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A California Democrat says no to corporate footsy on health insurance reform

State Senator Sheila Kuehl represents me, and does so in a far more literal sense than anyone else I vote for, even Henry Waxman.

Here she says what few Democrats at the national level have the guts to: that healthcare reform that includes the insurance industry is doomed to fail because THEY ARE THE PROBLEM.

I wish she had run for governor and kicked Arnold's bikini-waxed bunghole out of Sacramento.

She would be a good replacement for DINO Feinstein in the Senate too.

This starts a little polite, but after the first 3-4 paragraphs, the gloves come off.

It would be nice if all elected officials represented us like this instead of us having to bombard them with a barrage of emails and calls to get them to make a token effort at doing the right thing before caving in to corporate interests.

Senate Floor Statement from Senator Sheila Kuehl

Re: Assembly Bill 8


Mr. President and Colleagues: As you know, I have been working to secure real healthcare reform in California for a number of years now. Along with my continuing authorship of SB 840, the single payer universal health care bill, I’ve also actively participated with other authors trying to craft incremental attempts to reform the health insurance market.

This year, as the chair of the Senate Health Committee, I’ve seen my mission as making certain that everything got appropriately vetted and discussed, while at the same time, continuing to build support for 840.

Activists, supporters, organizations, and the panoply of more than 700 organizations, those that the press refers to as the "grassroots", have done a magnificent job in building support for single payer.

This year, as I watched leadership and the administration try to craft a plan different from SB 840, an alternative health reform plan that might expand coverage this year, while preserving the role of insurance companies, the experience taught me why health reform has actually been so difficult to do over the past few years, and why every proposed solution just seems to bring out new and often even bigger problems.

The attempts fail because, until we squarely face the fact that premiums imposed by the insurance companies are rising 3-4 times faster than wages every year, all the reforms that keep those insurance companies firmly in place are doomed to failure. The same is true of AB 8, which we are considering today.

As currently drafted, it doesn’t pencil out in terms of money, it doesn’t pencil out in terms of who’s paying what, and, frankly, it definitely doesn’t pencil out for consumers.

Our failing health care system has often been compared to the Titanic, and I’ve said in the past that attempts at reform are nothing but attempts to rearrange the deck chairs. AB 8, for a change, is actually trying to turn the boat. But some of you may know that, in fact, had the Titanic faced the iceberg head on, it would have survived, at least long enough to save most of its passengers. Turning the ship only partially was actually its downfall. It’s clear to me that that is also the problem with AB 8.

Our health insurance company driven system has responded to runaway health care spending by dismantling the entire system. The only questions they ask are "How many people can we turn away; how many of our clients can we kick out, how many people can we underinsure?" Rather than working to contain spending in a patient centered manner, they’ve created huge profits for themselves by raising premiums, cutting benefits, and limiting access in countless ways

So the governor was quite correct to say "Let’s have a year of health reform." Unfortunately, however, it became more of a Year of Magical Thinking, with apologies to Joan Didion for stealing her title. All the Governor has really done is to say, "I am sure we can solve this in nine months. Let’s hurry up and do it".

To the credit of the authors of AB 8, they have worked and worked to try to do a good bill within the context of keeping the insurance companies in place.

They have said we will cap what employers have to pay and we will cap what employees have to pay. What remains uncapped are the premiums that the companies can charge for all this reform.

We have been told there is no individual mandate in this bill, but that is incorrect. If an employer pays into the pool, as their choice of how to spend their 7.5% of payroll contribution, then their employees must buy insurance from the pool. Only if the healthcare costs of those same employees would exceed 5% of their gross income can these employees be let out of the requirement to buy it, and what happens then? They are simply either uninsured or they can "choose" to pay the inflated premiums that might be heaped on them. For those employees whose employer puts 7.5% of payroll into insurance for his or her own employees, those employees are then required to"take up" the employer’s insurance offer.

And again, if "accepting" the employer’s insurance plan will cost them more than 5% of their wages, they don’t have to take up the offer which means they’re not going to be insured either if they can’t afford the higher premiums.

The bill has come a long way, even since it went through the health committee, and I can understand why many of the unions are now in support of the bill because of the affordability provisions added to the bill.

But there are still also major problems with the coverage provisions. Your employer might offer you a plan that costs you a little bit less than 5 % of your gross income for the year, and you would have to buy it, but it might not cover what you need. It might be a minimal plan, a catastrophic plan. It might not have the drugs that you need for the condition you have - for cancer, for AIDS, etc. As we’ve seen in the last few months, it might not even cover pregnancy.

AB 8 also has an entirely separate insurance pool for an undefined group of people with "serious" conditions. We don’t know if that’s chronic conditions, we don’t know who will be in that pool. And frankly there’s no protection for them in terms of what they might have to pay.

So I see a number of real flaws in this much improved bill.

I continue to believe that the movement that’s been building for single payer, a movement that has seen support for a single payer universal healthcare system more than double over the last six months alone, will continue to build in ’08 in‘09 in 2010. Then, with a new governor, perhaps there might finally be a chance to get a signature on the bill that is actually the best solution for businesses, for employees, and for all the people in California. Because if you take the insurance companies out of the system, and they are the only entity that adds no value at all to the provision of healthcare, the overall costs for healthcare in California drop $19 billion in the first year alone, simply because we’re finally not paying their inflated overhead and profit.

So I am a no vote on this bill.

I praise those who have been working on this bill for trying. But I encourage those who believe this bill is deeply flawed to join me in voting no.

I know that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have problems different from my own and will not vote for it. For those who will vote for it on my side, I understand you are voting your hopes. Many of you also have told me you know that 840 is the only real solution.

So I’m also asking you to stay with me on SB 840; it’s not going to the Governor for a veto. Next year we’ll continue to develop it, hold it up as the right standard for California, and work with everyone we can, until the day when we understand that facing the iceberg head on is the only way we are going to save everyone on the ship.

For more, see Health Care for All—California

Was Reagan an appeaser for negotiating with Gorbachev about tactical nukes?

A lot of righties say any negotiating with countries like Iran or Venezuela or the designated boogeyman of the moment is just like appeasing Hitler.

The odd thing is, none of these countries we're supposed to be afraid of now have the capacity to invade or annihilate the United States.

By contrast, the Soviets had enough nukes to wipe the US off the map back in the 80s (the Russians and Chinese still do), and though the Soviets were behind us in technology in some ways, they more than made up for it in numbers of tanks, nukes, and other hardware.

And unlike the spread out Soviet Union, the countries we are supposed to be afraid of today are relatively compact, medium-sized ones that would take relatively few of our nukes to incinerate every square inch of. So why should we be more afraid of them than Reagan was of Gorbachev?

If the Soviets could not sustain an arms race, do you think Iran can or Iraq could have even if they had what Bush claimed?

And unlike Iran, the Soviets HAD invaded neighboring countries in the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Afghanistan.

Why was Reagan negotiating with them NOT appeasement but negotiating with some medium-small country now is?

Democrats need to call bullshit on the Republican talking points and put things in perspective if they want to end the war and the assault on our democracy. I don't think they aren't out of cowardice or stupidity but because too many agree with what Bush is doing, seizing Persian Gulf oil to give it to his cronies on terms they choose.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

WaPo admits why Iraqis oppose Bush's oil law: it gives away the store to Big Oil

The Washington Post acknowledged the bulk of Iraqi opposition to oil law Bush is forcing on them. Their reluctance has little to do with dividing the income between ethnic groups, and a lot to do with how much of oil wealth Bush's cronies get to take out of the country--far more than from other oil rich countries like Saudi, Kuwait, or Iran.

The remainder of the story was about wrangling between Baghdad and Kurds, who are more worried about losing their oil income to a central government than to oil companies -- at least according this article. A slightly different perspective on Kurdish opinion follows the article excerpts.


Missteps and Mistrust Mark the Push for Legislation

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A12

"This was a very bad move by the Americans to push for this law," said Issam al-Chalabi, a former oil minister. "Now it looks like . . . the Americans are after oil -- they will bring their Exxons and Chevrons and they will control our oil again."


Meanwhile, bitterness was rising from many factions -- unions in the oil-rich port city of Basra, petroleum industry experts, Sunni politicians and those loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- that the law would allow foreign companies to make off with Iraq's oil wealth. A group of 419 Iraqi academics, engineers and oil industry experts would later sign an open letter to parliament stating that "it is clear that the government is trying to implement one of the demands of the American occupation."

The draft oil law, the letter stated, "lays the foundation for a fresh plundering of Iraq's strategic wealth and its squandering by foreigners, backed by those coveting power in the regions, and by gangs of thieves and pillagers."


The Kurds worried that this central control would limit foreign investment in the oil sector
, precluding a rapid boost in oil production and revenue for Iraqis, including themselves. Hawrami wrote after the meeting that the annexes and conference presenters "send a clear message: Iraq is closed for business."


Oddly, the article leaves the impression that the Kurds objections to the Hydrocarbon Law are primarily about being ripped off by the Sunnis and Shia in the central government, but a poll of Iraqis on the main issue of the oil law, foreign versus state control of their oil showed that like the other ethnic groups, Kurds opposed foreign control albeit by a slimmer margin.

This article could be an encouraging sign. Reading the tea leaves, if the DC elite are forced to admit part of the reality opposition to the oil law, it may mean they are about to give up and want to make that capitulation look like a righteous bowing to the will of the Iraqi people rather than a failure to impose order as the childish Bush narrative says.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pelosi REFUSES to discuss how Bush's Iraq oil law screws Iraqis say Antonia Juhasz

If you aren't familiar with Antonia Juhasz, she used to be a staffer for John Conyers and has done excellent work on the Bush economic agenda, neoliberalism, and most importantly, how the Bushies are trying give Iraq's tens of trillions of oil income to his big oil cronies.

She was on Stephanie Miller today, and I called in to ask why more Dems than Kucinich, McDermott and a couple of others weren't discussing how the Hydrocarbon Law Bush is forcing on the Iraqis essentially gives away the store to big oil.

She said that was the million dollar question.

She lives in the Bay area, and Pelosi is actually her rep, but refuses to address this issue. Unfortunately, this is pretty consistent with how other Democratic Party "leaders" react to this question even when asked on camera.

Juhasz didn't know the reason, but her best guess is to help in the '08 election--if the war is still an open wound, the Democrats think they will gain more seats and the White House.

Juhasz didn't say it, but I suspect this is the same reason they aren't impeaching Bush & Cheney or cutting off war funding. Once those problems are fixed, they will be out of the public mind in about thirty seconds, and the GOP can start their rehabilitation PR. After Nixon resigned, Gerald Ford came within spitting distance of holding onto the White House for the GOP.

She also mentioned the more obvious and prosaic reason: corporate money talks in DC, and the rest of us are at best annoying mimes.

She said Congress got some secret report from the White House on Iraq's oil that said we will need to keep troops their for the foreseeable future to protect the oil, so I looked it up:

But the report, obtained by the Blotter on, says the issues the three sides are too far apart to agree on are the "role of foreign companies in the oil sector" and the division of the oil profits.

The report also includes a grim assessment of the possibility of an increase of oil output in Iraq despite its huge reserves.

It concludes that security in Iraq is so unstable "it is unlikely that any major foreign oil company will be able to invest in Iraq during 2008 (unless they are heavily underwritten by the U.S. government)."



Sunday, September 02, 2007

Congress held hearing on Iraq OIL THEFT law

I was wondering if Congress was EVER going to look into the Iraq oil theft law Bush is pushing on the Iraqis that gives over 80% of their oil income to big oil companies. Apparently, Congress had hearings on this issue at the heart of the war way back on July 18, but no one in the media made noise about it until I saw this in Charlie Cray's column on Huffington Post August 31:
It's not like there's any need to rush to pass the law for Iraq to produce oil. Iraq has 115 billion barrels of proven reserves in 80 fields (20 of which are currently in production). If it were to build up to a capacity of 10 bbd production, it wouldn't have to discover any new reserves for at least ten years.

Yet for some reason the Iraqis are under a lot of pressure to pass a law allowing for the exploration of additional oil. The reason, of course, is because the multinational oil companies, whose own proven oil reserves have been in steep decline, see Iraq's untapped reserves as the bigger prize.

And as Tariq Shafiq, one of the three-member team charged with drafting the petroleum law for the Iraq Ministry of Oil suggested at the hearing, because Iraq itself doesn't need to develop those untapped reserves for another decade, pressure to immediately implement any provision that would open them up for exploration and development "fuels the argument" that the Americans and British "are there for the oil."

There are many indications that the Iraqi people see the game pretty clearly. A Univ. of Michigan poll cited at the beginning of the hearing found that even before the framework draft was introduced, 76 percent of Iraqis believe the U.S. invaded Iraq to control its oil.



Chair Rep. Gary Ackerman opening statement

Joseph A. Christoff, of the GAO

Tariq Shafiq, one of the Iraqis who worked on the law

Issam Michael Saliba, senior foreign law specialist, law library of congress

I'm glad they had the hearing, but you would think it would merit more than three witnesses and one day. They might have listened to the Iraqi oil union workers, scholars, and oil bureaucrats, and even some members of the current government who have said this law is designed to rip them off.