Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Up creek, no paddle

Greg Palast has for some time now been trying to answer the question, “Why are we really really in Iraq?”


“And what did the USA want Iraq to do with Iraq's oil? The answer will surprise many of you: and it is uglier, more twisted, devilish and devious than anything imagined by the most conspiracy-addicted blogger. The answer can be found in a 323-page plan for Iraq's oil secretly drafted by the State Department. Our team got a hold of a copy; how, doesn't matter. The key thing is what's inside this thick Bush diktat: a directive to Iraqis to maintain a state oil company that will "enhance its relationship with OPEC."

“Enhance its relationship with OPEC??? How strange: the government of the United States ordering Iraq to support the very OPEC oil cartel which is strangling our nation with outrageously high prices for crude.

“Specifically, the system ordered up by the Bush cabal would keep a lid on Iraq's oil production -- limiting Iraq's oil pumping to the tight quota set by Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel. “There you have it. Yes, Bush went in for the oil -- not to get more of Iraq's oil, but to prevent Iraq producing too much of it.

“You must keep in mind who paid for George's ranch and Dick's bunker: Big Oil. And Big Oil -- and their buck-buddies, the Saudis -- don't make money from pumping more oil, but from pumping less of it. The lower the supply, the higher the price.

“It's Economics 101. The oil industry is run by a cartel, OPEC, and what economists call an "oligopoly" -- a tiny handful of operators who make more money when there's less oil, not more of it. So, every time the "insurgents" blow up a pipeline in Basra, every time Mad Mahmoud in Tehran threatens to cut supply, the price of oil leaps. And Dick and George just love it.

“Dick and George didn't want more oil from Iraq, they wanted less. I know some of you, no matter what I write, insist that our President and his Veep are on the hunt for more crude so you can cheaply fill your family Hummer; that somehow, these two oil-patch babies are concerned that the price of gas in the USA is bumping up to $3 a gallon.

“Not so, gentle souls. Three bucks a gallon in the States (and a quid a litre in Britain) means colossal profits for Big Oil, and that makes Dick's ticker go pitty-pat with joy. The top oily-gopolists, the five largest oil companies, pulled in $113 billion in profit in 2005 -- compared to a piddly $34 billion in 2002 before Operation Iraqi Liberation. In other words, it's been a good war for Big Oil.”

Which brings us to another piece of the doom and gloom scenario:

Now that you’ve taken a look at the map below to see where you’re going to have to park your boat after the ice caps finish melting, let’s see if you’ll still be able to afford one.

From LifeAfterTheOilCrash.net:

Petrochemicals are key components to much more than just the gas in your car. As geologist Dale Allen Pfeiffer points out in his article entitled, "Eating Fossil Fuels," approximately 10 calories of fossil fuels are required to produce every 1 calorie of food eaten in the US.

The size of this ratio stems from the fact that every step of modern food production is fossil fuel and petrochemical powered:

1. Pesticides are made from oil;

2. Commercial fertilizers are made from ammonia, which is made from natural gas, which will peak about 10 years after oil peaks;

3. With the exception of a few experimental prototypes, all farming implements such as tractors and trailers are constructed and powered using oil;

4. Food storage systems such as refrigerators are manufactured in oil-powered plants, distributed across oil-powered transportation networks and usually run on electricity, which most often comes from natural gas or coal;

5. In the US, the average piece of food is transported almost 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate. In Canada, the average piece of food is transported 5,000 miles from where it is produced to where it is consumed.

In short, people gobble oil like two-legged SUVs.

It's not just transportation and agriculture that are entirely dependent on abundant, cheap oil. Modern medicine, water distribution, and national defense are each entirely powered by oil and petroleum derived chemicals.

In addition to transportation, food, water, and modern medicine, mass quantities of oil are required for all plastics, all computers and all high-tech devices.

Some specific examples may help illustrate the degree to which our technological base is dependent on fossil fuels:

1. The construction of an average car consumes the energy equivalent of approximately 20 barrels of oil , which equates to 840 gallons, of oil. Ultimately, the construction of a car will consume an amount of fossil fuels equivalent to twice the car’s final weight.

2. The production of one gram of microchips consumes 630 grams of fossil fuels. According to the American Chemical Society, the construction of single 32 megabyte DRAM chip requires 3.5 pounds of fossil fuels in addition to 70.5 pounds of water.

3. The construction of the average desktop computer consumes ten times its weight in fossil fuels.

4. The Environmental Literacy Council tells us that due to the "purity and sophistication of materials (needed for) a microchip, . . . the energy used in producing nine or ten computers is enough to produce an automobile."

Sailboat, anyone?

Now, if you're not depressed enough yet, try reading this, or this pdf, or this U.S. Department of Energy projection.

Will you be underwater?

What with the threats of rising ocean levels, those of us living near the beach fear for our front porches. Now we can actually see the in-rushing waters' extent.

Google (Ghod bless them) has joined forces with Digital Globe and Tele Atlas to provide earth imagery or plain old geo-political maps to help you plan where to install your new dock.

No Legal Rights for Enemy Combatants, Scalia Says

This deserves wide-spread posting, but I can barely control my rage, much less comment:

'War Is War,' Justice Tells Audience
Associated Press03/27/06

"Washington Post -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reportedly told an overseas audience this month that the Constitution does not protect foreigners held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He also told the audience at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland that he was "astounded" by the "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to the prison, this week's issue of Newsweek magazine reported.The comments came just weeks before the justices are to take up an appeal from a detainee at Guantanamo Bay.

The court will hear arguments tomorrow on Salim Ahmed Hamdan's assertion that President Bush overstepped his constitutional authority in ordering a military trial for the former driver of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Hamdan has been held at the prison for nearly four years.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees could use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. Scalia disagreed with that ruling, and in the recent speech repeated his beliefs that enemy combatants have no legal rights.

"War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," Newsweek quoted Scalia as saying. "Give me a break."

Scalia's dissent in the Rasul v. Bush case in 2004 said: "The consequence of this holding, as applied to aliens outside the country, is breathtaking. It permits an alien captured in a foreign theater of active combat to bring a petition against the secretary of defense. . . . Each detainee (at Guantanamo) undoubtedly has complaints -- real or contrived -- about those terms and circumstances. . . . From this point forward, federal courts will entertain petitions from these prisoners, and others like them around the world, challenging actions and events far away, and forcing the courts to oversee one aspect of the executive's conduct of a foreign war."

Newsweek said Scalia was challenged by an audience member in Switzerland about whether Guantanamo Bay detainees have protection under the Geneva or human rights conventions.

Scalia replied: "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son, and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy," Newsweek reported.

Scalia's son Matthew served in Iraq.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Go here, for some perspective on international law.

Time out

It’s been getting hard of late to bend properly to the task of keeping this blog full of entries; the mental pounding that I have been taking as a result of the relentless assault on civil liberties, the lies about our progress in the occupation of Iraq, and the news of the general incompetence of this administration have been mind boggling.

Even though I count myself as just a regular guy, I have been around the world and seen a few things. As a callow lad in San Francisco I was exposed to the seedy underbelly of the Tenderloin with its drug dealers and users: heroin addicts comatose in a third floor walk-up, a bug-ridden mattress the sole furnishing, a bare light bulb on a string the only light; I have lived on the street, and I have wined and dined in Paris, and screwed teenage ballerinas. I’ve been in drunken bar fights from San Diego to Chicago to Charleston, SC and have a collapsed lung from a six-inch rusty Bowie knife to prove it. Played pool with 12 year old hustlers on the South Side of the Loop, been French-kissed by a Hells Angel; shot at men and been shot at back. I have seen and done a few other things I’m not proud of, stuff that even now curdles my blood to think about.

Most of the time, though, it’s been pretty interesting.

But this administration, with its hacks, liars, thieves, war-mongers and incompetent advisors and mob lawyers just flat takes the cake, and I am oh so tired of Goat Boy and his whole rancid crew.

I really don’t care about much these days, but I do still care about this nation and its future. So please forgive the recent lack of witty and up to the minute commentary and news bits; I’m tired and want to take a lie down for awhile.

Somebody do something, please, and make these assholes go away; maybe then my head will stop hurting, and my heart stop breaking.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bush blows off Congress again

With the passage of the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, Congress (and the American people) thought that they might be safe from terroism, and terrorists, again. But with a little known administrative function known as a signing statement, Bush once again has proven that america is not safe from Presidential terrorism, in the person of His Highness, Goat Boy.

From the Boston Globe:

"WASHINGTON -- When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

"In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

What to make of this? Well, how about the fact that the Presidnet just flat feels he is the Commander in Chief, we are at war (?) and Congress and the American people can kiss his royal ass?

It doesn't get any plainer than that.