Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Iraq War happy ending in sight: Iraqis keep oil, Bush & cronies get nothing

Despite hundreds of thousands of dead, and their country salted with depleted uranium, the Iraqis may yet take control of their democracy and natural resources--IN SPITE of Bush, not because of him.

From before the start of the war, the Bush administration planned to privatize and sell off everything in Iraq to their cronies at bargain basement prices, especially the oil.

The Bushies one mistake is they thought the Iraqis are as stupid as the average Fox News viewer, and would believe whatever hatful of shit propaganda he dished out, and if they didn't, they could scare the Iraqis into obedience by picking up people at random and torturing and raping them at Abu Ghraib.

The Iraqis knew why Bush was there though, and even after Bush vetoed their choice for prime minister and approved his replacement and then threatened him with firing, the Iraqis refused to sign away their oil wealth to Bush's corporate cronies.

If the Iraqis are successful in hanging onto their oil, it might just shave a few years off the hatred Bush has earned for us. But it won't bring back the grandmothers and babies crushed in rubble or the arms burned off a boy in the initial and on-going shock and awe air strikes.

Tomgram: Jack Miles, Baghdad to Bush: You Have 14 Months

By December 31, 2008, according to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the government of Iraq intends to have replaced the existing mandate for a multinational security force with a conventional bilateral security agreement with the United States, an agreement of the sort that Washington has with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries in the Middle East. The Security Council has always paired the annual renewal of its mandate for the multinational force with the renewal of a second mandate for the management of Iraqi oil revenues. This happens through the "Development Fund for Iraq," a kind of escrow account set up by the occupying powers after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime and recognized in 2003 by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483. The oil game will be up if and when Iraq announces that this mandate, too, will be terminated at a date certain in favor of resource-development agreements that -- like the envisioned security agreement -- match those of other states in the region.

The game will be up because, as Antonia Juhasz pointed out last March in a New York Times op-ed, "Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?":

"Iraq's neighbors Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia…. have outlawed foreign control over oil development. They all hire international oil companies as contractors to provide specific services as needed, for a limited duration, and without giving the foreign company any direct interest in the oil produced."

By contrast, the oil legislation now pending in the Iraqi parliament awards foreign oil companies coveted, long-term, 20-35 year contracts of just the sort that neighboring oil-producers have rejected for decades. It also places the Iraqi oil industry under the control of an appointed body that would include representatives of international oil companies as full voting members.

The news that the duly elected government of Iraq is exercising its limited sovereignty to set a date for termination of the American occupation radically undercuts all discussion in Congress or by American presidential candidates of how soon the U.S. occupation of Iraq may "safely" end. Yet if, by the same route, Iraq were to resume full and independent control over the world's third-largest proven oil reserves -- 200 to 300 million barrels of light crude worth as much as $30 trillion at today's prices -- a politically incorrect question might break rudely out of the Internet universe and into the mainstream media world, into, that is, the open: Has the Iraq war been an oil war from the outset?

Clearly, some in Washington still think so. Shortly before the collapse of the Iraqi oil legislation effort, Bush's Commerce Department began quietly advertising for an Arabic-speaking legal advisor to help it in "providing technical assistance to Iraq to create a legal and tax environment conducive to domestic and foreign investment in Iraq's key economic sectors, starting with the mineral resources sector." (Read: starting with oil.) As it happens, the job description overlaps heavily with that of the Development Fund for Iraq's existing International Advisory and Monitoring Board, whose responsibility, according to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483, has been to see to it "that all export sales of petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas from Iraq…. shall be made consistent with prevailing international marketing best practices." Is the Commerce Department already planning for the demise of this board? Like the super-embassy and the super-bases, this bit of Commerce Department staffing-up bespeaks the urge to continue an invasive American presence in Iraq, including Iraq's energy sector, long after December 31, 2008.

But if the occupation is shut down legally after that date and if Iraqi control over Iraqi oil reverts -- legally, at least -- to something close to pre-war status, that Commerce Department expert may find him or herself playing a less-than-major role in Baghdad. Instead, expect a new role for Iraq's hitherto excluded pool of domestic expertise. The Iraq National Oil Company began operations back in 1961; its legacy includes a skilled work force of trained oil workers. Notable, in fact, among those opposed to the failed oil legislation is the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions. Its members object to provisions in the legislation that permit the hiring of foreign oil workers rather than Iraqis and -- in classic Bush Administration fashion -- exclude the union from any participation in contract negotiations. The Federation's protests have attracted a letter of support signed by six Nobel Peace Prize laureates.



Saturday, October 20, 2007

Would Dem leaders work be OK from cop, lawyer, doctor or exterminator?

From impeachment, to ending the Iraq War, to prevent the Iran War, the Democratic leadership in Congress has made at best half-hearted efforts toward representing the public, without using every procedural and investigative option at their disposal, and at worst have fallen all over themselves to enable Bush as in the case of ramping up for the Iran War and funding the Iraq War.

Imagine someone in other professions applying the same kind of effort and getting the same results as Democratic leaders like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Rahm Emanuel.

How long would you continue to employ them?

What would happen to a cop if he applied the same level of effort to a murder investigation?

He tells the grieving family that the victim was in a dangerous neighborhood, which is why he was killed, but neither gives more details nor asks for them. He tells the family they are lucky he's the cop and not the murderer. When pressed, the cop reluctantly investigates some, but when a suspect starts to emerge, he apologizes to the suspect and suggests the law should be changed to make murder legal.

Or a lawyer.

A prosecutor never speaks during the trial for the murder of your loved one except to make lunch arrangements with the defense counsel and try to line up a job with the accused or at least get campaign donations from him. During a break, you stick your head in another trial and notice the prosecutor is objecting and even demanding a mistrial for lesser misconduct than you have seen from the defendant's counsel in your trial. You go back and talk to the prosecutor in your case, and he starts to object on peripheral issues but says a mistrial is "off the table" even though the defense is clearly winning over the jury.

or a judge.

You are a judge in the trial like the one above. The prosecution has put forward compelling evidence beyond a reasonable doubt and the jury has decided to convict the defendant. You rebuke the jury, set aside their verdict, release the defendant, and apologize to him because murder happens to be illegal at the moment, but you hope that will change soon.

or a doctor.

A doctor discovers a cancerous tumor in your abdomen. Instead of removing it, he redirects blood vessels to it. Doing some research on your own, you discover this ''treatment'' will lead to the tumor growing faster, and that removal, chemotherapy, and radiation are the usual treatments. When you confront your doctor with this, he gets offended and asks who has more experience in dealing with cancer, him or you. Meanwhile, the tumor grows to the size of a basketball.

Or an exterminator.

You notice cockroaches. You call the exterminator. When he arrives, he sprays insecticide on your children, leaving them coughing and rubbing their burning eyes, and then takes some food out of your fridge and puts it down where the cockroaches can find it. When they come out, he makes sure they all get enough to eat and sets up a little cockroach playground for them. You try to stomp on the cockroaches, and he grabs your foot to stop you.

and so on.

In any of these other professions, you would not only fire them, but sue them for malpractice.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

After Nobel snub, Bush hopes to be judged by the Hague

After a terrifying temper tantrum when he heard that his one time political opponent Al Gore had won the Nobel Prize, President George W. Bush was consoled when he heard the judges at the Hague would be far more likely to vote for him.

When President George W. Bush heard that Al Gore won the Nobel Prize, he terrified White House staff by smashing vases, slapping and kicking any servants that crossed his path and demanding to know why they hadn't bought the prize for him, drinking two bottles of cooking sherry, and refusing to take his psychiatric medications.

By Saturday, his handlers were able to calm him somewhat by sending him on a bike ride and promising he could watch ESPN the rest of the day when he returned.

Bush was enjoying his ride until he stopped to let Secret Service agents dab a bead of sweat from his brow and rehydrate him. Two anti-war protesters jumped from the bushes and shouted, "You should be the first American president judged by the Hague! You're a war---"

Fortunately, they were cut off by taser and pepper spray intervention.

While the protesters were being stripped, hooded, and thrown in the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car following the president, Bush asked his handlers what this "hag" was.

A quick thinking aide told him it was an international prize far more prestigious than the Nobel, and one that no American president has yet won, unlike the Nobel, which had been won by Jimmy Carter and Teddy Roosevelt. Bush asked one of his religious aides, known for not lying, if this was the truth. Not wanting to be berated, beaten, fired, or killed, the aide said, "I have heard that the judges at the Hague would like to...acknowledge what you have done in office."

Bush was confused. "They said something about me being a war something?"

"A war hero," a less scrupulous aide said. "They want to honor what you've done in the Iraq War."

Bush sought to verify this and called the president of the ICC in the Hague for confirmation. Shocked, the chief judge said he could not say what the outcome would be unless President Bush came to be judged in person.

"You have done so much to so many to help so few, we could not possibly address your actions in absentia."

The judge did not realize that Bush's limited English and even weaker grasp of abstract concepts rendered his statement meaningless to Bush, at least after "you have done so much."

He also added that the Hague was in the Netherlands, and it would be a crime to order airstrikes on the judges to influence the outcome.

Bush hung up and asked his minder why the judge thought he was going to bomb someone who wanted to give him a prize.

"Not everyone sees things with the moral clarity you do, sir."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bush impeachment polls more like Nixon than Clinton

In March 2006, the Wall Street Journal found that public support for impeaching President Bush was nearly twice the peak support for impeaching President Clinton. This was in spite of eight years of 24/7 scandal mongering and impeachment talk and an actual impeachment trial in Clinton's case, and a virtual news blackout on the grassroots movement to impeach Bush.

This got me wondering--what did Nixon's impeachment poll numbers look like when he resigned rather than face impeachment?

I searched the net a couple of times and couldn't find the relevant stats, so I had to go into the LA Times archives. It turns out that a day before Nixon resigned, his poll numbers were not that different from Bush's: 55% of Americans wanted him removed, and 64% thought there should at least be an impeachment trial in the Senate.

SOURCE: click to see full-sized

The earliest polls I could find nine months before that showed LESS support for impeaching Nixon than Bush. One poll showed the public divided on impeachment and the other solidly opposed. This was a week and a half after the "Saturday Night Massacre" when Nixon fired Justice Department officials until he found someone willing to fire the special prosecutor investigating Watergate, so the public had some idea of his wrong-doing.

click to see full-sized articles:

So how is it one president was impeached when most of the public didn't think it was necessary, one president ran out of office when a solid majority thought he should be impeached, but a third president with a similar majority in favor of impeachment remains untouched?

For a while, you could blame the media and Congress equally. The public clearly saw the laws, treaties, our constitution, and basic human decency being violated, but the media turned a blind eye or excused it, and Congress either ignored the crimes or retro-actively made them legal. The Democrats at least had the fig-leaf that they were not in control of Congress to hide behind for their inaction.

Now they do not.

Nor can they say that the media is entirely subservient to Bush since even a corporate boot-lick like Chris Matthews feels free to criticize Bush.

Even if the media were still entirely hostile, they would be obliged to cover impeachment proceedings, and when the offenses of the Bush administration were cataloged and described without Karl Rove or Fox News' spin support for impeachment would likely grow even greater.

The real issue of course is not whether impeachment will succeed or fail, or how popular it is, but whether Congress will represent us, whether we have a real democracy or just enough of a semblance of one to lull us to sleep, whether our most basic laws apply to all people including the most powerful, and whether this country belongs to all the American people or just the few that can afford to buy the friendship of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

And apparently, the friendship of most of our Congress, Democrat as well as Republican, is bought and paid for as well--and not by us.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Machiavelli: Is candidate of people or corporations stronger?

The GOP and corporate Democrats think they are being clever by sucking up to corporations and Wall Street, but even Machiavelli saw that true strength derives from the consent of the governed, not treating them like suckers while you suck up to the nobles.

They might do well to recall that it took almost 50 years before the Republicans dared attempt to reverse the changes that FDR started, and even then, a sizable percentage of the public still believed in what FDR did. By contrast, the Reagan Revolution is looking (and smelling) like a dead man walking in less than half that time because it was a scam to oppress the people and serve the nobles as Machiavelli would say.

Someone said that the Republicans hope their candidates will do what they say and Democrats hope that their candidates won't. The reason for both is the same--too few actually serve the voters apart from the way a sushi chef serves fish to his customers.
Chapter 9

...principality is obtained either by the favour of the people or by the favour of the nobles. Because in all cities these two distinct parties are found, and from this it arises that the people do not wish to be ruled nor oppressed by the nobles, and the nobles wish to rule and oppress the people; and from these two opposite desires there arises in cities one of three results, either a principality, self- government, or anarchy.

A principality is created either by the people or by the nobles, accordingly as one or other of them has the opportunity; for the nobles, seeing they cannot withstand the people, begin to cry up the reputation of one of themselves, and they make him a prince, so that under his shadow they can give vent to their ambitions. The people, finding they cannot resist the nobles, also cry up the reputation of one of themselves, and make him a prince so as to be defended by his authority. He who obtains sovereignty by the assistance of the nobles maintains himself with more difficulty than he who comes to it by the aid of the people, because the former finds himself with many around him who consider themselves his equals, and because of this he can neither rule nor manage them to his liking. But he who reaches sovereignty by popular favour finds himself alone, and has none around him, or few, who are not prepared to obey him.

Besides this, one cannot by fair dealing, and without injury to others, satisfy the nobles, but you can satisfy the people, for their object is more righteous than that of the nobles, the latter wishing to oppress, while the former only desire not to be oppressed.
It is to be added also that a prince can never secure himself against a hostile people, because of their being too many, whilst from the nobles he can secure himself, as they are few in number. The worst that a prince may expect from a hostile people is to be abandoned by them; but from hostile nobles he has not only to fear abandonment, but also that they will rise against him; for they, being in these affairs more far- seeing and astute, always come forward in time to save themselves, and to obtain favours from him whom they expect to prevail. Further, the prince is compelled to live always with the same people, but he can do well without the same nobles, being able to make and unmake them daily, and to give or wake away authority when it pleases him.