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This is the archive for June 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

State Rep. Tardy in badly distorted op-ed calls for expanded oil drilling, while Senator Collins plays with "speculation," but does not name those who rigged the markets (Hint: It was McCain advisers.)

Were Republicans thinking ahead when House Republican Leader Josh Tardy was chosen to serve as vice chair with co-chairs Senator Olympia Snowe and Senator Susan Collins in Senator John McCain's Maine presidential campaign? Tardy is the foil for national Republican talking points, issuing an unqualified, unabashed pro-drilling editorial last week in the Thursday edition of the Bangor Daily News. This allows Collins and the campaign for Republicans in Maine to straddle both sides of the oil drilling issue while Collins makes herself look tough on oil futures speculators. It's a delicate tightrope they are walking.

Senator Collins in the past has opposed opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and recently has pushed out word that she "is opposed to drilling off the coast of Maine because it would be harmful to the state's fishing industry" in a Susan Sharon report on MPBN last week. Collins evidently also flops more standard Republican. According to MPBN she believes,
the nation should be energy independent by 2020. To do that means expediting applications for oil and exploration on federal lands where it has already been approved. It also means more drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.
Meanwhile, Collins Saturday had an editorial in the BDN that attacks speculators in rigged oil futures trading markets (but not the characters that did the rigging). There she has nothing at all to say about drilling.

Of course, assuming that the U.S. offshore and Arctic Refuge drilling bans have any significant effect at all on world oil prices is pure madness. For the record, I believe that some of these areas will be opened up and may deliver fabulous profits some day to a few lucky lessees. But these areas in question are very, very unlikely to produce finds on the scale even of the North Sea, for example. In fact, if you look into the reference for the figures Tardy cites--from a controversial Department of Interior inventory of U.S. oil & gas resources--you'll discover the numbers are totally ethereal.

Tardy writes,
In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act that required the Department of the Interior to inventory oil resources that could be found both onshore and offshore in U.S. territory. Interior reported back that we have an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil sitting off our coast. We also have 53 billion barrels onshore. That?s a total of 139 billion barrels, more than the proven reserves of Iran or Iraq or Russia or Venezuela or Nigeria or even Kuwait. Moreover, America?s Outer Continental Shelf also is estimated to contain some 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That?s a tremendous resource base, and we need it.
The numbers evidently come from a table on page vii of the report. The column cited is called Undiscovered Resources (Mean amount). That is not a "proved" resource base! But note Tardy's use of the word "have." By definition, we do not yet "have" undiscovered oil.

Tardy then distorts wildly the meaning of these numbers when in the very next line when he compares them to the "proven reserves" of Iran, Iraq, Russia, and so on.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, gone at 71.

For some reason I have been transmitted back to about 1974, shooting baskets with my high school buddy Jim while reciting Carlin's seven words you can't say on television, Biff Barf, and the Hippy Dippy weather report.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

This comment just came in on an item posted back on January 31. Go there to read the stories to which the writer refers.

Posted by Catherine on Jun.22.2008 at 20:06:
These stories have brought tears to my eyes and have made me feel so much better about my situation.

I have 1 year old twins and another baby on the way, due in February '09 and I'm a stay-at-home mom. My husband is a great provider, but we're still very worried about this winter. Last winter it was so expensive that we kept our home around 67-68 degrees, which was Ok. Our babies were healthy and they wore thick fleece pajamas most of the time. This winter it's looking like it's going to be a lot more expensive and with a new baby coming, I'm shaking in my boots wondering if we'll be able to make it without going into debt or robbing our retirement account.

Something MUST be done about this crisis. I feel fortunate reading these tragic stories. This winter is going to be a doozie. We need to be thinking about it NOW.
I'm damn scared myself. I'm going to try to switch to wood pellets, as the cost differential for the fuel hopefully will be enough to pay for the equipment in one year. Then we can hope the cost of the pellets does not skyrocket.
Speaker Pelosi feigns disgust after clever maneuvers

Massive off-budget appropriation for perpetual war and a Christmas tree of money for dozens of other "priorities"

I'm thoroughly disgusted with the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. Here I post what she said last Thursday after engineering passage of a war budget of truly GIGANTIC proportions. It's so disingenuous:
MS. PELOSI: I'm sorry that I cannot fully participate in all of the comradery that is accompanying this legislation that we bring to the floor because of the huge amount of money that is in this bill to fund the war in Iraq without any conditions, without any limitation on time spent there. I'm glad that we have something about no permanent bases, yes, but this is the first time that we will be sending a bill--well, we sent it to the Senate with conditions and they struck it. We have no choice. This is not about a failure of this House of Representatives; it's about what we cannot get past the next body and onto the President's desk. ...

So while I'm pleased that we have some spirit of civility here tonight about coming to a conclusion on this bill to bring it to the floor, and I enthusiastically will vote for the domestic piece of this, I'm not urging anyone to do anything, I just want you to know why I would be voting "no" on the spending without constraints. We owe our troops more than sending them into war on a false premise, without the equipment and training they need, without a plan for success, without a strategy to leave. This war has not made the region more stable, it has not made our country safer. It has undermined our capability to protect the American people. It should come to an end safely, honorably, responsibly, and soon.
Then why, why, why, Ms. Speaker, do you not work to STOP the budget from even reaching Bush? This is a hell of a price for some bones to the unemployed and support for vets that you should be forcing through the president anyway.

And that bill is absolutely loaded with everything from military bases to border fences to a $50 million "freedom fund" for privatization of Iraqi industries. Take a look, starting here. This massive episode of paper hanging should shock and appall every decent American.

Thanks to Maine Representatives Mike Michaud and Tom Allen for voting against the war funding. But I quote Representative Kucinich on exactly what's wrong with this horror:
Mr. KUCINICH. I regret that I'm going to have to oppose this bill. And let's look at the numbers: $161.8 billion for the war it keeps going, a war that we all know now was based on untruths. It keeps going a war that has cost the lives of over 4,000 of our brave men and women, tens of thousands of injuries to our troops and over 1 million innocent Iraqis killed as a result of the war. The costs of the war will run to $3 trillion. And here instead of keeping a commitment that we made back in 2006 to end the war, we're continuing it into the term of the next President, and $161.8 billion of this bill will go for the war.

That's actually, of the total bill, 86 percent is going to go for the war, $24.7 billion in domestic spending. How much of this is going for unemployment? Well, $12.5 billion or about half of it over a period of 2 years. How much is going to the veterans? Less than $1 billion over 2 years. So we're using the veterans here and unemployed persons to put forth a war bill that is going to cost $161.8 billion. We have to establish what our priorities should be in this country.

Yes. Getting people back to work should be a priority. Imagine if we put $100 billion into that. Yes. Giving veterans better benefits ought to be a priority. Imagine if we put $100 billion into that. But no. We're putting $161 billion into a war that we know is based on untruths.

It's time that Congress take back its real authority here. And its real authority under article 1, section 8 is to declare war. This administration led us into a war based on lies. It is time for us to regain our ability to create an effective checks and balances, to reclaim our position as a coequal branch of government. You do not do that by continuing to fund this war. You do it by funding education, health care and job creation. That's what the people in Cleveland, Ohio, want. That is what people want all over this country. I'm voting against this.
And below is Ms. Pelosi's complete statement.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer solstice 8pm this evening

First rose cutting
First cutting

Snap pea blossom
Snap pea

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's spelled O - I - L; companies seek "foothold"

According to the New York Times today:

Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back
By ANDREW E. KRAMER - Published: June 19, 2008
BAGHDAD ? Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power. ...
We learn that these deals are unusual "no-bid contracts." No one needs to be "suspicious" according to company executives, because they are just "helping" Iraq get new oil field development going while the oil law is stalled.

Turns out that the companies involved--Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP--have history with the old colonial Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). During the period from 1921 to 1958, oil was discovered and developed in Iraq by these multinational corporations and their precursors under concessions distinctly unfavorable to the Iraqis. This history is very complicated. But under the concession agreements of the 1920s, Iraq was the big loser, not even owning an equity share in the IPC.

The post-1958 revolutionary government began to reverse these harsh terms. The IPC monopoly was broken during the early 1960s and Iraq's oil was fully nationalized in 1971.

Does the pattern of what is happening today resemble a return to the old colonial system of oil concessions backed by imperial military force? I would say yes. The traditional British colonial pattern in the Arab Gulf states usually involved a commercial agreement between companies and a quisling ruler followed by a political agreement. Is that not exactly what we are seeing in Iraq right now? The commercial agreement described by the Times today lines up perfectly with the security agreement now being pushed upon a reluctant Iraq.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Torrent HERE

"Panorama investigates claims that as much as $23bn (?11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or not properly accounted for in Iraq. ..."
The labor union complaint about FairPoint was always that the company is "rinky-dink." They are proving that now with a series of 911 system failures, including right here in Penobscot County over this past weekend.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wouldn't the Republicans have found a way to get tough against this kind of tactic when they were in charge?

Phillipe Sands, whose testimony on U.S. leadership and torture was cut off by the Republican objection, is a world treasure in the pursuit of truth. Maine Owl has three relevant posts:
At least with the Democrats in charge, there is an attempt to have some sort of hearing when strong evidence of international war crimes by U.S. leaders emerges. However, so far I'm not impressed with their overall handling of the situation. I just get the feeling that the Republicans would not allow something they cared about to be bowled over so easily.

Addendum: I'll propose the hypothesis that it is the Democrats themselves who do not want to hear strong, direct evidence of impeachable offenses. Good luck, Dennis.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The big news here is that the court "review" procedure on determination of "enemy combatant" status as set forth in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 has been ruled "inadequate." I may write more later as the significance of this generally positive decision emerges. Meanwhile, Balkanization is the best place to go for details.

By BBC Panorama; video quality fair:

(Update: Video has been taken down.)

Panorama investigates claims that as much as $23bn (?11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or not properly accounted for in Iraq.

When the US goes to war, corporate America goes too. There are contracts for caterers, tanker drivers, security guards and even interrogators, many of them through companies with links to the White House. Now more than 70 whistleblower cases threaten to reveal the scandals behind billions of dollars worth of waste, theft and corruption during the Iraq war.

Gagging orders
A total of $23bn (?11.75bn) is under scrutiny. The US justice department has imposed gagging orders which prevent the real scale of the problem emerging. But Panorama's Jane Corbin has spoken to some of those involved - with astonishing stories to tell of who got rich and who got burned. ...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

BBC investigates contractor corruption
Senator Susan Collins (Press release, November 2004): The Subcommittee's estimate over a longer period is a staggering 21 billion dollars. I am deeply troubled that UN sanctions could be circumvented by the former Iraqi regime on such a massive scale.
Staggering, huh? If that's staggering, try THIS:

BBC uncovers lost Iraq billions
By Jane Corbin BBC News - 10 June 2008
[Representative Henry] Waxman: "It may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history."

A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (?11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq.

The BBC's Panorama programme has used US and Iraqi government sources to research how much some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding.

A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations. The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies.

War profiteering
While Presdient George W Bush remains in the White House, it is unlikely the gagging orders will be lifted.

To date, no major US contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanagement in Iraq.
This story isn't new, of course. But the "staggering" figure of $23 billion missing/unaccounted for/lost to fraud is higher than previously quoted by the Iraq Inspector General. Meanwhile, this "gagging order" is keeping the depth and scale of the robbery well away from the public eye.

BBC 4 broadcast "Daylight Robbery" in its Panorama series last night. This program seems not to be available for viewing in the U.S. If a torrent or YouTube version becomes available, I'll let readers know. (UPDATE: I posted the video HERE.)

For those wanting a taste of what is in this program, a substantial report ran on the BBC/PRI The World radio show, carried yesterday on Maine Public Radio. Here is a convenient player for listening to this 5-minute report:

(Permalink to report)

As for Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins, she seems only to be "staggered" when the corruption could be pinned on the demonized enemy. The scale of Iraq corruption at the hands of the Americans is bigger than the wildest Oil-for-Food scandal estimates promulgated with near hysteria throughout wingnuttia during 2004 and 2005.

Why was Senator Collins such a willing transmitter of Oil-for-Food tales while something bigger in her own back yard didn't even elicit a yawn? And I don't hear her trying to really get to the bottom of this even today.

UPDATE (6/12): The video disappeared from Google. Also, the November 2004 press release from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations inquiry into Iraq Oil-for-Food I attributed to Susan Collins has disappeared from the page where I found it living a few months ago, HERE. After some digging, I found this text within the November 15, 2004 hearing document, archived HERE as S. Hrg. 108-761.

P.S. Warm greetings to Collins Watch readers.
The U.S wants to use it as a launching pad to bomb Iran. I guess Cheney feels like to really make it all worthwhile, he needs to use his new bases for something.
Scary. A new "trade" treaty would subject all of your digital media to aggressive search and seizure.
"Gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a 'guy really anxious for war'"

This is precious:

President Bush regrets his legacy as man who wanted war
The Times (London) - Tom Baldwin and Gerard Baker in Ljubljana
President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a "guy really anxious for war" in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.

In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. "I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric."
Let's see, he regrets his rhetoric that has made him look like a warmonger, not the wars that make it crystal clear that he is a warmonger. No regrets about a million civilian casualties either. And how about American deaths? Apparently they are not "in vain" as long as more of them continue to pile up.

This man is one of the most notorious criminals in world history.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Here is a release from Jewish Voices for Peace

JVP: Obama, McCain; Don't Pander to AIPAC at the Expense of Peace + UPDATES
2008-06-10 | We are deeply concerned by statements that both Senator McCain and Senator Obama made at the AIPAC Conference. Please sign our petition calling on Senators Obama and McCain to moderate their stances in the interests of a peaceful future.
In particular:

(1) Senator Obama declared that Jerusalem "must remain undivided."

We believe the future status of Jerusalem must be negotiated.

Since declaring on Wednesday at the AIPAC conference that Jerusalem "must remain undivided," Senator Obama has backtracked and indicated he is open to a shared Jerusalem. We welcome his new statement, because the first one undermines the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that Obama promises to promote. Indeed, declaring Jerusalem as Israeli-ruled-only violates U.S. policy and international standards, ignores Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem and the more than 240,000 Palestinian residents there, while implicitly supporting Israel's continued land expropriation, demolition of Palestinian homes, and expansion of settlement building, such as the 900 tenders issued to new housing for Jewish Israelis in East Jerusalem this week.

(2) Both Senators McCain and Obama promised enormous sums of unconditional military aid to Israel.

We believe the U.S. must hold Israel accountable for using U.S. weapons against civilians.

Numerous human rights organizations have documented Israel's use of U.S. weapons against civilian populations - from the basic maintenance of the Occupation of Palestinian Territories to the bombing of civilian areas in Gaza to the use of cluster bombs against Lebanese civilians in 2006. The use of weapons against civilians is in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act; even the U.S. State Department itself believed it likely that Israel's cluster bombs in Lebanon violated U.S. law. We implore the Senators to hold Israel accountable to U.S. law and prevent the use of our weapons against civilians.

(3) Both Senators McCain and Obama continued to demand the exclusion of Hamas from the negotiating table.

We believe peace agreement cannot be achieved without Hamas at the table.

While we, too, deplore any and all violence against civilians, we stand behind former President Jimmy Carter when he claims that Hamas must be included in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. 64% of Israeli citizens want their government to speak to Hamas, the democratically elected leadership of the Palestinian people. Peace agreements are negotiated with enemies, not friends. For the sake of achieving a just peace, we ask the Senators to support the inclusion of Hamas in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
This is, of course, a menu of dreams in a world where Obama seemed to be compelled to make, in Uri Avnery's words, "a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning."
It's up to 58 permanent bases

This is just so ridiculous it's easy to feel the pain and humiliation of every decent Iraqi:

U.S. seeking 58 bases in Iraq, Shiite lawmakers say
By Leila Fadel | McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD -Iraqi lawmakers say the United States is demanding 58 bases as part of a proposed "status of forces" agreement that will allow U.S. troops to remain in the country indefinitely.

Leading members of the two ruling Shiite parties said in a series of interviews the Iraqi government rejected this proposal along with another U.S. demand that would have effectively handed over to the United States the power to determine if a hostile act from another country is aggression against Iraq. ...

Other conditions sought by the United States include control over Iraqi air space up to 30,000 feet and immunity from prosecution for U.S. troops and private military contractors. ...

The 58 bases would represent an expansion of the U.S. presence here. Currently, the United States operates out of about 30 major bases, not including smaller facilities such as combat outposts, according to a U.S. military map.

"Is there sovereignty for Iraq - or isn't there? If it is left to them, they would ask for immunity even for the American dogs," [Iraqi lawmaker Jalal al Din al] Saghir said.
No U.S.-domination-over-Iraq story would be complete without the joke of the day: "The top U.S. Embassy spokesman in Iraq rejected the latest Iraqi criticism. 'Look, there is going to be no occupation,' said U.S. spokesman Adam Ereli."

Monday, June 09, 2008

Iran anti-nuclear sanctions plan ill conceived

Trinity: Alamogordo, NM, 7-16-1945
Iran nowhere close

I don't live in the 1st Congressional District any more, haven't since the time Tom Andrews held that House seat. But I do have some remarks on the 2008 Democratic primary race for the 1st District seat being vacated by Representative Tom Allen from an anti-nuclear-war point of view.

Because I see a disturbing trend in the Democratic approach to the politics of nuclear proliferation, I will focus on statements 1st District candidate Ethan Strimling gave during the Maine Public Broadcasting radio debate a couple of weeks ago. AUDIO CLIP:

STRIMLING: I have been a long-time activist against nuclear weapons. I have been a long-time activist trying to make sure we do not spread nuclear weapons around the planet. So I sponsored a bill to have the State of Maine divest its funds from Iran. [emphasis added]
Let's stop right there. Ethan Strimling thinks IRAN is the nation most problematic with regard to nuclear proliferation, hence the only one deserving any mention at all in a discussion about spreading "nuclear weapons around the planet"? I think this shows just how debased politics in the arena of foreign and military policy has become both locally and nationally.

The tone and emphasis of these anti-Iran statements and policy proposals by Ethan Strimling are all wrong. Why? For example, I discussed here how putting the advanced nuclear arsenal currently possessed by Israel on the table out in the open, and furthermore addressing the U.S.-Israeli threatening posture toward Iran would be a logical place to approach Mideast tensions and nuclear disarmament. Unlike Israel, Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and, according to U.S. intelligence agencies in the National Intelligence Estimate (pdf) made public in December 2007, "Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." To my naive mind, it is extremely puzzling that we are talking about Iran while we bury out of view Israel's full-blown nuclear triad that is pointed mainly at non-nuclear-weapons states like Iran.

The disarmament logic of this vigorous yet highly dubious program of escalating punitive anti-Iranian economic sanctions escapes me. But not only is it endorsed by Strimling, so too it was by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee during a strongly pro-Israel speech last week. Among others, one of sanctions currently making the rounds in Congress is the Ackerman-Pence resolution that would try to cut off Iran?s imports of gasoline.

It's curious how gasoline is proposed as a cudgel against Iran. The result cannot be nuclear disarmament. If anything, a cutoff will entrench hardliners and make proliferation more likely. So, why do this?

I won't really try to answer that here. I'll save that for another post. But in researching this question, I'd point toward pre-Iraq-invasion neoconservative thought that I wrote about way back in March 2003. Obviously, the result of the U.S. Iraq invasion has been a strengthening of Iran's geostrategic position. I see these economic sanctions as a misguided attempt to destabilize Iran politically and perhaps taunt it into actions that could become an excuse for U.S. or Israeli military retaliation.

Maybe Iran hawks in the U.S. or Israel see this as a way to reverse the blown results of U.S. Iraq policy by punishing the people of Iran. In that way, it is not unlike the failed attack on the Iraqi populace during the 13-year Iraq sanctions regime from 1991 to 2003.

Without further detail I'll just conclude that while these kind of sanctions cause odd market complications and distortions, they are ineffective for the stated purpose. They are aimed at a government with an infant nuclear program and no active weapons effort. Hardly can they be seen as serious anti-proliferation measures. In my opinion, Ethan Strimling evidently unwittingly has signed onto a neoconservative destabilization program against Iran masked by a sincere desire "to make sure we do not spread nuclear weapons around the planet."

What makes no sense to me about this distorted position staked out by Ethan Strimling is that he and I both cut our teeth in anti-nuclear and anti-apartheid divestment activism in the same place: the Maine Peace Action Committee at the University of Maine. Strimling came a couple years after I had left the University, so we really did not know each other except through a few mutual friends. But anyway, his position on these Iran sanctions is doubly puzzling because I know that learning environment. It supposedly teaches you not to be taken in by these kinds of political distortions.

So if a political campaign were to deal honestly with nuclear weapons and other real military issues, not blinded by fear of Iran, what would be discussed?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"U.S. Not Seeking Permanent Iraq Bases, Ambassador Says"

The actual punch line is there will be fifty permanent bases:

Bush's Secret Deal Would Ensure Permanent U.S. Occupation of Iraq
A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November.

The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to this reporter, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq.
Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which U.S. troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law...

Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for U.S. troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.

The precise nature of the American demands has been kept secret until now.
Let's see if Obama resists this in any meaningful way. I suppose there have been a few hurt feelings in Congress over earlier whispers because the administration was loathe to tell any of them what this plan was actually going to be. I'll be watching what they do.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

In first post-primary stop, presumptive Democratic nominee again declares fealty to Israel at AIPAC conference

Senator Barack Obama spoke from his heart as a true friend of Israel: "The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow, unbreakable forever."

There was no "denouncement" of former president and independent diplomat Jimmy Carter this time (as there was in Boca Raton, FL two weeks ago), but the message was clear. The U.S. under an Obama administration will have an incontrovertible, unshakable, unbreakable, permanent commitment to Israel, no matter what. The image of Israel as a helpless island for the world's best people surrounded by a sea of the worst of the worst radiated from the podium again and again to the sound of thunderous applause. The gathered partisans need not fear the real Obama for he is not the soft-on-the-terrorists Obama of alarming emails that evidently have been circulating.

Skipping about 2/3 of the way into the 35-minute address, we come to the usual line in the sand drawn against the worst of the worst of the worst, Iran, perhaps with a little more staccato relish than is typical:
Obama: I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon -- everything."
One thing that could be done--in my opinion the only key thing that has to be done to prevent any Iranian bomb of the future--would be to put Israel's advanced full-blown nuclear triad of land-, sea-, and air-launched nuclear weapons out in the open and on the negotiating table.

It seems that President Carter recently has been trying to do just that--
Somebody read THIS and tell me what the overall point is:

Pat LaMarche: Beggars on the boulevard of oil dreams
By Pat LaMarche - Wednesday, June 04, 2008 - Bangor Daily News
We live in a black-and-white world. We?d like to believe that we have all these shades of gray; subtle nuances that lend shadow and light to our existence, but we don?t. For citizens of the United States, something?s right or wrong, in or out, with us or against us. And because of those black-and-white terms by which we live, we have folks killing in our name, dying in our war and begging on our behalf.

Certainly you heard about the begging. Our president went to Saudi Arabia to beseech the royal family to take pity on us and lower our fuel prices. The New York Times reported that President Bush asked King Abdullah to "consider the strain the high cost of oil was having on the American economy."

Funny he didn?t beg his buddies at Exxon Mobil to lighten our burden.

Why should Saudi Arabia lose money? ...
Is it "Saudi is bad, but we'd like more of their oil"?

Is it "Hemp is the savior"?

You might find a phrase or two in there that makes sense/is a good anti-war point. But I find many of the assertions lacking, like the one suggesting Saudi has roughly unlimited oil. She's talking out her ass. So, I find the overall effect pretty much incoherent.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Get it? Mr. BILL...

Master Card Mr. Bill campaign
Ripped apart: familiar feeling around America's kitchen tables

Hat tip to Ms. Owl!!!!

Maine Owl deserves credit for the new Master Card campaign for our times:

Mr. Bill Returns (in One Piece) to Pitch a Debit Card
New York Times - By WENDY A. LEE - Published: June 3, 2008
MasterCard executives have found a new poster boy for the angst-ridden economy: Mr. Bill.

The small clay figure that appeared in "Saturday Night Live" short films three decades ago -- being dismembered, pulverized and humiliated to his falsetto cries of "Oh, nooooo!" -- will be the latest star of MasterCard's "Priceless" campaign.

He is being revived as a debit-card holder who gets roughed up but keeps on going...
But they aren't mentioning that seventies throwback now coming back with a vengeance, stagflation.
Here's a book review written with wit and power: There Are a lot of Vaginas Out There.

The Bangor Daily News carries Kathleen Parker, including her now-infamous "bloodlines" column from a couple of weeks ago (uninitiated see THIS). She supposedly was the bookend to Molly Ivins. Now that Molly is gone, we have former Green Party candidate Pat LaMarche in her spot. LaMarche is no Ivins. Often I find LaMarche pretty close to as unreadable Parker. But that's neither here nor there.

So, I'd be interested what the parents out there think about all this boy bashing stuff. I don't have any kids, but I have seen a lot of 'em during the course of my work. Parker's book, obviously, is seized by her madness born of wingnuttery & racism. But is there anything to the notion of "anti-male propaganda" that has young males under attack?

With regard to marriage, has misogyny been superseded by an army of "apron-men" celebrating femmy room makeovers and savory Rachel-Ray-style meals while being strung up by their dominating wives? Personally, I hate most room makeover shows (except perhaps Design on a Dime). But I like Rachel-Ray-style cooking, though Alton Brown is God. And I like a good tear-jerking chick flick. Part 7 of John Adams choked me up pretty good, for example. I'd be curious to know if Kathleen Parker would be able to make me out into one of her anti-feminist straw men.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The country that thinks of using cluster munitions next week should think twice, because it would look very bad.
--Espen Barth Eide, deputy defense minister of Norway

Damn straight. (Thanks, Rodger)

These maniacal munitions are responsible for untold civilian harm. I'm amazed at the mockery some American commentators have leveled against the anti-cluster-bomb treaty agreed to by 111 nations in Dublin Friday. American military analyst John Pike, for example, acused the signatories of being "countries which do not fight wars" and of making him "want to barf." I think the point here, contrary to Pike's notions, is that countries are sick to death of the wars and military tactics the U.S. and Israel have found, in the words of a U.S. State Department spokesman, so "absolutely critical and essential."

Boycotters of the treaty include Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and the United States. This forms a pretty good list of the world's rouge military powers. For example, Israel found it critical and essential to sew "500,000 unexploded munitions on the ground in Lebanon" at the end of its summer 2006 bombardment campaign--an action regarded widely as "immoral." Can it be so hard for American and Israeli military strategists who use these evil devices to see why they look "bad"?