Saturday, May 24, 2008

on Oil motive for Iraq War, are Dems in DC silent from cowardice, corruption, or cognitive impairment?

Greg Palast wrote a column about the 80 years of choking Iraq's oil output to keep prices high that that about two minutes of googling could verify. It is another brick in the pyramid of evidence that the Iraq War and impending Iran War are about keeping oil prices high rather than bringing them down. That's because the war is meant to benefit the oil companies, not the average American and certainly not the average Iraqi (who is dead).

Oil & Gas Journal said as much in 2002 when they worried that without a war against Iraq, Saddam would pump too much and drive prices down. A top oil exec admitted as much to Palast, and Bush sent assurances to Putin that a successful Iraq War would NOT result in lower gas prices.

And Bush is forcing such an exploitative oil law to ensure most of the profits go to big oil on Iraqis that the parliament won't pass it even as oil companies are offering members of parliament bribes into the millions.

You would think the Democrats would be shouting this from the roof tops and the Republicans would be scurrying like cockroaches back into their lobbying firms and corporate boardrooms. Instead, Democrats talk about the Iraq War in terms of the failure to fight the "War on Terror" or worse, how poorly Bush has executed the war (if only we had screwed the Iraqis more subtly). That message is muddled at best and only attractive when compared to the Republican sprint-to-Armageddon foreign policy.

I sent the following email to Palast to ask him what the hell was going with the supposed opposition party in DC:


In your column on redlining Iraq's oil production, you said Obama or at least his advisors should know about that bit of history, and that is probably true, but you would never know it from any of their published articles, interviews, or public statements.

Only a handful in the House of Representatives have talked honestly about the oil motive for the Iraq War or the Hydrocarbon Law machinations that are still going on. As far as I know, NO ONE in the senate has dealt honestly with this issue. (A few like Biden, Reid, and Feinstein have taken the time to lie though).

Is this because they are on or hope to be on the oil company dole? Are they afraid of being crushed by big oil if the cross them? Or are they just plain retarded?

My fear is that if the Democrats are not talking honestly about this, it means they plan to continue the same policies as Bush only with less bombastic propaganda.

The British parliament at least had a resolution that 100 MPs signed condemning their government coercing Iraqis on behalf of big oil.

Is our government so much more corrupt than theirs?


If he responds, I'll post that here. (and he has written me back before).

Here's excerpts of his article on redlining Iraq:
Obama’s Secret War Profiteering Tax
By Greg Palast for
New York, May 22, 2008.

In 1928, oil company chieftains (from Anglo-Persian Oil, now British Petroleum, from Standard Oil, now Exxon, and their Continental counterparts) were faced with a crisis: falling prices due to rising supplies of oil; the same crisis faced by their successors during the Clinton years, when oil traded at $22 a barrel.

The solution then, as now: stop the flow of oil, squeeze the market, raise the price. The method: put a red line around Iraq and declare that virtually all the oil under its sands would remain there, untapped. Their plan: choke supply, raise prices rise, boost profits. That was the program for 1928. For 2003. For 2008.

Again and again, year after year, the world price of oil has been boosted artificially by keeping a tight limit on Iraq’s oil output. Methods varied. The 1928 “Redline” agreement held, in various forms, for over three decades. It was replaced in 1959 by quotas imposed by President Eisenhower. Then Saudi Arabia and OPEC kept Iraq, capable of producing over 6 million barrels a day, capped at half that, given an export quota equal to Iran’s lower output.


It’s been a good war for Exxon and friends. Since George Bush began to beat the war-drum for an invasion of Iraq, the value of Exxon’s reserves has risen – are you ready for this? – by $2 trillion.

Obama’s war profiteering tax, or “oil windfall profits” tax, would equal just 20% of the industry’s charges in excess of $80 a barrel. It’s embarrassingly small actually, smaller than every windfall tax charged by every other nation. (Ecuador, for example, captures up to 99% of the higher earnings).


How little profit for a capitalist to not be greedy?" & a progressive answer

Someone asked this question at Yahoo Answers:

What rate of return for a capitalist is not considered greedy?
Here is my response:

I would not begrudge someone any rate of return so long as they didn't screw their workers, the environment, people in other countries, or bribe politicians to rig the system to give them monopoly power to do so as oil companies and media companies have done.

In the case of media companies, we give them public airwaves essentially for free instead of charging market value, and allow them to combine to the point that they can choke out opinions they don't like.

We give an even bigger gift to oil companies: we use our diplomatic, intelligence, and military to give them control of Middle Eastern and other oil reserves, and overthrow any governments that threaten that control. In exchange, they don't try to increase production or cut us a break on the price, or even offer to repay the trillion dollar plus cost of the war even though they will reap tens of trillions in profit from it.

In some cases, like pharmaceuticals, we give the companies taxpayer money for research, and they thank us by charging us MORE than anyone else in the world, and fighting to keep those drugs whose development we funded from going generic.

Very often these same companies that we do so many favors for with our taxpayer dollars bend over backwards to get out of paying taxes themselves, so that they end up paying a lower percentage of their income in taxes than you and I.

Even if they got no direct support from the government, they used our roads, our police and fire departments, workers educated in our public schools, and other infrastructure to accumulate their wealth, so they should be grateful to only have to pay a percentage of their PROFITS instead of their INCOME like the rest of us do.

If somebody has a new product or idea that people want, I wish them all the profit in the world.

A better question to ask is what return should Americans be getting on our tax dollars? Should we get public schools with classes small enough for students to actually learn? Should we get meat inspectors who are more concerned about our safety than incurring the wrath of his boss who came from and plans to go back to the meat industry? Should we get a foreign policy designed to make us safer instead of more enemies for America and more profits for a handful of corporations?

If America was a business, and you were a stockholder or customer, what would you expect to get out of it?

Friday, May 16, 2008

the Appeaser in Chief: Bush visits 9/11 funders, the Saudis

Yesterday Bush said anyone who tries to negotiate with terrorists nations are appeasers; today he visited Saudi Arabia, the country that funded the 9/11 attacks and whose intelligence agent picked up two of the hijackers at the airport when they arrived in the US.

In a technical sense, Bush is not an appeaser. There is no indication he is negotiating anything that would lead to fewer terrorist attacks.

Yesterday in the Israeli Knesset, Bush said:

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along."
Proving he has no idea what the word irony means, today he is visiting Saudi Arabia, the country that the Joint Congressional Inquiry found gave money to the 9/11 hijackers and help getting settled in the US through their agents.

Since that time, Bush and Cheney have visited Saudi Arabia several times.

It hasn't seemed to have affected their terrorist related behavior since the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers pouring into Iraq are coming from Saudi, and Prince Bandar, the former long time ambassador to the US, threatened Britain with more terrorist attacks if they didn't drop a corruption investigation that involved the Saudis.

In response to us cutting them slack on terrorism, they haven't even done anything to lower the price oil despite Bush's public pleas.

Sadly, Bush is partly right. Too many Democrats ignore the fact that Saudi Arabia attacked us on 9/11, fail to ask publicly why the so-called "War on Terror" seems to be aimed every Muslim country EXCEPT the ones behind the attacks, and even visit and glad hand them.

But they do so following the lead of the appeaser in chief, George W. Bush.

Friday, May 09, 2008

US Gov't Peak Oil Report: we need to kill big oil before it kills us

I stumbled across this on wikipedia looking for something else on Peak Oil. I keep an eye out for oil stories, but this one slipped by me at the time.

Key findings: Peak oil will definitely happen if it hasn't already, and waiting until world oil production peaks before starting a crash program leaves the world with a major gas & diesel deficit for over 20 years. Since this report was done for the Bush admin, their policies of encouraging mass consumption & oil wars to maximize big oil profits are epically criminal.

This is just a reminder that we need to do more this November than kick out oil company stooges Bush & Cheney. We need to disconnect our government from energy industries that base their profits on creating scarcity, and therefore squeezing the economic life out of all but the very wealthiest of us.

Renewable energy is antithetical to the interests of those businesses and individuals. While switching to renewables will create jobs in the short term, once the hardware is in place, the ''fuel'' going into solar and wind is free, and the more that are built, the lower the price of the energy they produce. You only have to compare this to how our transportation economy works. Toyota, GM, and Daimler Benz are not the most profitable corporations in the history of the world, the companies that extract and process the fuel that go in their cars are. Renewable energy wipes out that most profitable sector, and replaces it with something more akin to making houses, cars,and refrigerators: profitable but not masters-of-the-universe, power-of life-and death-over-the-world profitable.

So long as oil companies and energy speculators have ANY place at the table, the rest of us will suffer.

Our government must do to big oil and energy traders what a farmer does to a bull or hog that gets too troublesome: get the sheepshears, snip off their balls, and feed them to the dogs.

The study envisions three scenarios for dealing with a peak oil reality: scenario one involves action not taken until peaking occurs, and scenarios two and three deal with action taken ten and twenty years prior thereto. The conclusions follow:
  • Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash program action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades.

  • Initiating a mitigation crash program 10 years before world oil peaking helps considerably but still leaves a liquid fuels shortfall roughly a decade after the time that oil would have peaked.

  • Initiating a mitigation crash program 20 years before peaking appears to offer the possibility of avoiding a world liquid fuels shortfall for the forecast period.



Sunday, May 04, 2008

Iraqis: US has no claim to our oil wealth

Iraqis are fed up with the US assuming they can tell Iraq what to do with their oil wealth, including using it to pay to reconstruct what Bush broke when he invaded the country and during the ongoing occupation. Congress has even suggested that Iraq subsidize their own occupation with low cost fuel for our military.

You don't do a home invasion robbery then hand the victim a bill for what you broke and stole, and tell them to bring you some sandwiches.

What the Iraqis are saying in this article actually doesn't complain about enough. Bush (and sadly even our Democratic Party majority Congress) have been pushing Iraq to pass a Hydrocarbon Law that gives up to 88% of Iraq's oil income to Bush's buddies at the big oil companies. Bush threatened to fire Maliki if he didn't get the law passed, and the oil companies have been trying to bride members of parliament with millions of dollars each for their votes.

The Iraqis won't do it because they know if they do, their own people would kill them. And they might have some sense of patriotism that keeps them from giving away the store to occupiers.

Not coincidentally, what Washington is trying to do with Iraq's oil money is a war crime under the Geneva and Hague Conventions.


Iraq: U.S. has no claim to oil boom

'America has hardly even begun to repay its debt to Iraq,' Baghdad official says

By Liz Sly

Tribune correspondent

12:42 AM CDT, May 1, 2008

BAGHDAD — As Congress gears up to debate the Bush administration's latest request for an additional $108 billion in war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, Iraqis are fuming at suggestions being floated by lawmakers that Baghdad should start paying a share of the war's costs by providing cheap fuel to the U.S. military.

"America has hardly even begun to repay its debt to Iraq," said Abdul Basit, the head of Iraq's Supreme Board of Audit, an independent body that oversees Iraqi government spending. "This is an immoral request because we didn't ask them to come to Iraq, and before they came in 2003 we didn't have all these needs."


Behind the controversy lies a giant muddle of misspending, waste, corruption and poor accounting on the part of both Iraq and the U.S. surrounding about $100 billion worth of spending on reconstruction and the Iraqi security forces that has barely dented Iraq's needs over the past five years.

Of this, $46.7 billion came from U.S. taxpayers and $50.3 billion from Iraqi oil revenues, including $23 billion in Iraqi money that was spent by the U.S. under the occupation administration of Paul Bremer, according to Bowen.


Figures like these contribute to the widespread perception among Iraqis that the U.S. invaded only to steal the nation's oil, making it difficult for Iraqi legislators to contemplate contributing to the costs of the U.S. military in Iraq, said Sunni lawmaker Dhafer al-Ani.

"It's illogical, illegal and immoral," he said of the U.S. proposal that Iraq give the U.S. military cheap oil. "Any additional commitments by the Iraqis to the Americans will make it less respected in the eyes of the Iraqi people, and that will make things even more complicated."

OIL THEFT motive for IRAQ WAR resources

Friday, May 02, 2008

Remind public of GOP racist track record if they mention Wright

Both Obama and Hillary missed an opportunity when they went on Fox News only to be questioned about Rev. Wright. They could have turned it around to a discussion of Republican politician's, right wing talk radio, and even Fox News own far more extensive and virulent history of racist remarks and actions.

If the GOP tries to use Rev. Wright against Obama in fall, we should have their racist resume ready.

Which shouldn't be too hard to do.

Start with the Southern Strategy of covert appeals to Southern racists that began after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in 1964 & 1965. LBJ said he lost the South for the Democrats for a generation. He was wrong. He lost it pretty much up until today.

Racist white voters started voting Republican at the presidential level immediately, and down-ticket as racist Dixiecrats politicians migrated from the Democrats to the GOP.

In a 1970 New York Times interview, Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips was blunt about this:

The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats."

Reagan launched his campaign talking about "states rights" a segregationist buzzword in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where the three civil rights workers were killed in the 60s.

Starting with Reagan they began a sustained assault on affirmative action, particularly in college admissions, without bothering with even a fig-leaf of going after other forms of non-merit admissions like legacies with room temperature IQs getting in because their family members went to the school and more importantly, gave money to their endowment.

Using blacks as boogey men in campaign commercials has been a staple of the Republican politicians at all levels. Jesse Helms used his "white hands" commercial to play on white resentment of affirmative action, Papa Bush had Willie Horton to play on fear of black criminals raping white women, and the recent campaign against Harold Ford had only to imply that a white woman might want the only slightly tinted Ford to call her.

Until recently, there was the obligatory stop of GOP candidates at racist Bob Jones University, where inter-racial dating was not allowed until 2000--AFTER George W. Bush made a campaign stop.

There are also the various statements of Rush Limbaugh including his brief tenure as a sportscaster saying Donovan McNabb was only a quarterback because of affirmative action, and Bill O'Reilly being shocked that black people behaved in a nice restaurant and weren't screaming obscenities. Last Fall, Media Matters put together some of the greatest hits of Fox News racism, including Bill O'Reilly saying during Katrina that "Many, many, many" hurricane victims who failed to evacuate New Orleans are "drug-addicted ... thugs"

Besides Bush's inaction during Hurricane Katrina, you have Fox News calling black residents looters and whites "searching for supplies," and a GOP congressman saying the destruction of low income housing was god doing what they couldn't.

compassionate conservatism

As recently as this primary season, Republicans were still debating whether the Confederate flag, a symbol of slavery and oppression to African Americans and most other Americans, should still fly on public property.

Mitt Romney said he would never have a Muslim in his cabinet.

In some of these cases of racism directed at blacks, the righties involved have been demoted or forced to apologize. I don't think they ever have apologized about their Muslim-baiting, particularly their talk radio shills.

Ann Coulter said Muslims should be killed or forcibly converted, Rush Limbaugh said a Muslim prisoner was covered in feces because they don't know how to wipe themselves, and Michael Savage Weiner said we should kill at least 100 million Muslims and that there was no difference the Muslims who attacked us on 9/11 and ALL the other Muslims in the world.

I have left out their Latin American immigrant-bashing, English only campaigns because they are mad someone's Vietnamese grandmother isn't learning English fast enough, fear of brown people breeding faster than whites, fear of gays recruiting our kids (so far they have only been successful with GOP politicians and preachers), and fear of anyone else they can think of that will drive people to the polls without demanding action on actual economic issues.

These are hardly the people to be lecturing the rest of us about racism.

I'm sure I've left lots of examples out, so feel free to add them.

You might also ask Media Matters to put together a "greatest hits" of GOP and/or right wing talker racism, and Outfoxed producer Robert Greenwald to expand and re-promote FOX ATTACKS BLACK AMERICA.

Contact Media Matters.

Contact Greenwald: