Friday, June 30, 2006

Bush gets smacked down by the Supremes

It's actually pretty hard for me to get too worked up over Thursday's Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. United States - which rejected the administration's claim that Hamdan (and other Gitmo detainees) can be tried by ad hoc military "commissions" - even though pundits all over the land are claiming this is a "smashing blow" to this administration's claims to unchecked executive power; I'm thinking about Andrew Jackson's actions after Cherokee Nation v. Georgia.

You will recall that this was the case that had the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Cherokees (after gold was discovered on their land in Georgia, and Georgia claimed eminent domain), and prompted Jackson to say, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."

As we all know, the Court could not enforce it, and the result was the infamous Trail of Tears.

Still, the Court (with a 5-3 majority, Roberts recusing himself) struck at the very heart of this administration's arguments that the President has unlimited war powers.

Whether or not the President has independent
power, absent congressional authorization, to
convene military commissions, he may not
disregard limitations that Congress has, in proper
exercise of its own war powers, placed on his


Military Commission Order No. 1 . . . exceeds limits
that certain statutes, duly-enacted by Congress
have placed on the President's authority to convene
military courts. This is not a case, then, where the
Executive can assert some unilateral authority to
fill a void left by congressional inaction. It is a case
where Congress, in the proper exercise of its
powers as an independent branch of government,
and as part of a long tradition of legislative
involvement in matters of military justice, has
considered the subject of military tribunals and set
limits on the President's authority
. Where a statute
provides conditions for the exercise of
governmental power, its requirements are the
result of a deliberative and reflective process
engaging both of the political branches. Respect for
laws derived from the customary operation of the
Executive and Legislative Branches gives some
assurance of stability in time of crisis. The
Constitution is best preserved by reliance on
standards tested over time and insulated from
the pressures of the moment.
[Emphasis mine]
Bear in mind, though, that this president has a long history of simply ignoring things he doesn't like to hear.

Congressional Republicans are already gearing up to enact legislation actually changing the rules of the UCMJ (or possibly rejecting the Geneva Conventions) to allow military commissions at Gitmo (and elseware), but the Supreme Court has firmly set the boundaries of presidential powers: this president is not above the law after all, no matter what Yoo or Addington have claimed.

There may be joy down the road, one hopes, as this is a binding decision that will have ramifications in the FISA controversy and the so-called "signing statements," as Glenn Greenwald has so eloquently pointed out.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Rising Economic Hegemony of the East

While this administration cries about "bringing democracy" to the Middle East as we bomb the crap out of Iraq, and, to a lesser extent Afghanistan, the real objective - the global hegemony of the oil production centers of the world - is quietly slipping out of the American orbit, and into the sphere of influence of China and Russia.

It is pretty obvious now that the intent of the invasion of Iraq was to shut down its production, thus keeping the price of crude artificially high, as well as providing a laboratory for testing neoliberal Chicago School of Economics theories in a zone of "free enterprise" (an abyssmal failure so far) in the Middle East. This tactic has resulted in driving the governments of Russia and China to change game plans, in order to ensure their access to oil and natural gas, and under their control.

The new Kazakhstan pipeline, one of the reasons that we were originally so cozy with that country, is now delivering fresh crude to China; ChevronTexaco (Condi's old company) had first dibs, but with Washington's myopic focus on Iraq, the deal went to China. Communist Red China now owns Kazahkstan's formerly state-owned oil production company, PetroKazahkstan. They bought it for a lousy 4.2 billion dollars, or about a couple of week's worth of ammo and MREs in Iraq.

And as Iran and the US exchange baffling and unproductive diplomatic letters, Iran is about to enter into an agreement with the Shangai Co-operation Organization (SCO) to ship gas and oil east.

Are any bells going off in your head yet?

How about this: in the Sudan, China is a major developer of the East African oil pipeline via the China-Africa Forum, as well having entered into agreements for oil exploration off the coast of Angola, as well as being a major lending partner to the Luanda government, investing in schools, airports, highway projects, housing and a fiber-optic network.

Angola sits next to Chad, which has one of the world's last remaining underexploited resevoirs of crude. Remember: that's a Chinese highway running from Angola to Chad; Halliburton and Bechtel are nowhere in sight. In Nigeria, China has purchased an almost half-share (45%) of that benighted country's oil production.

I could go on, but why bother? We bomb Iraq relentlessly, "staying the course," while the badly needed petroleum necessary to run our industries and make fertilizer to grow our crops is slowly but surely coming under the influence of Foreign Powers.

The not-so-incompetent corporate frontman playing Commander in Chief straps on his codpiece and assassinates third-rank terrorists at a cost of 290 billion dollars (so far) while we could have bought the friendship of ALL of Africa and ensured free-flowing oil for the next generation with that money. Instead, he's attempting to intimidate Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Boliva's President Evo Morales, two popularly elected democratic leaders who control vast amounts of crude, thereby setting us up for the next ill-advised foreign disaster. And the sick part of this is, Chavez likes us; he sells Citgo gas to us cheaper than any other gasoline company in the world.

We have serious problems, friends: big oil has peaked, and it's going to run out completely inside the next one hundred years - most likely sooner - regardless of what we do. In the meantime, we have NO alternate-energy scheme, and only feeble attempts to reduce consumption. While we are distracting ourselves by bombing civilians and torturing or incarcerating people indefinitely, this western industrialized civilization we live in is winding down its oil production from limited, finite resources that we absolutely need to keep our way of life running properly.

And also while we were asleep at the wheel on the business watch front, a consortium of foreign and domestic companies is busy building a superduper transportation corridor right through the heart of America, from Lazaro Cardenas, on Mexico's Pacific coast, through the great state of Texas to Kansas City, and aimed at the heart of Canada, designed to bring in shipping containers from China and Indonesia, bypassing the entry ports of the American West Coast and their unionized stevedors. This "transportation corridor" is to be a limited access thoroughfare for trucks carrying goods from East Asia, and will be operated as a toll road, contolled by the Spanish (!) company, Cintra Concessions de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A. of Spain.

The recent flap over the control of American ports by the Kingdom of Dubai was just a sideshow compared to this.

Bear in mind that who controls the oil is who controls the conversation about the fate of western industrialized civilization, and we are losing control of that conversation rather quickly. This administration, conflating democracy with power projection and Total Spectrum Dominance, is quickly losing the battle on the economic front, and it barely registers on Washington's radar scope.

While we play power politics in the Middle East, at great cost to ourselves in terms of lives and treasure, the world is moving on without us. The end results - a devastating economic crash and industrial devolution in the US - won't be apparent anytime soon, but it definitely will affect your sons and daughters - but as long as we play Global Domination in a country that doesn't mean spit to anybody who doesn't live there, real solutions for domestic social and economic problems are not even on this administration's minds, much less within its grasp.

Green Left Weekly
William Enghdal
Global Research
DieOff - Peak Oil Is Now

Cross-posted at DailyKos

Postscript: Why we went to war

Americans by and large are isolationists, and we hate foreign adventures. On the other hand, we are suckers for the underdog, so in order to gain absolute control over Iraq's oil (which has always been on the West's agenda) it was necessary more expedient to tell the American public a series of fairy tales, designed to whip us up into a fever over some bad guy. Hussein, as a seriously bad dude to his own people, was the perfect fall guy.

We knew he had the WMD because we sold them to him, and our humanitarian mission to bomb the crap out of Kosovo worked under Clinton, so they had a recent precedent for pre-emptive actiion. Then along comes 9/11, and - whoa! - they hit the jackpot! Not only do they have an excuse to spend more on military goodies, we get a War on Terror, and an invasion, a chance to play Chicago School of Economics in the Middle East, and establish a dominating geographic military staging area in the biggest oil field on the planet.

That's a lot of shit to sell the American public, whom the neocons distain as being dumb, so they invented out of whole cloth all the lies you have heard, and they get to play out their fantasy world domination scheme, and the Democratic leadership fell for it.

The problem is that none of these politicians (and neocon political philosophers) are living in a reality-based universe, with the results we have seen; but we suffer for their idiocy, their lack of planning, their inability to game out the scenario to the bitter end.

Americans need to get the facts straight, their priorities in order, and dump the Republicans and the DLC Dems; refocus the agenda from corporate short-term profits to a more long range goal of alternate energy innovation, conservation, and rethink globalization, with all its attendant human costs.