Friday, July 25, 2008

A fractured, ad hoc, haphazard mish-mash

But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water
An' you'll lick the bloody boots a
'im that's got it

Far more foreboding than peak oil crisis is the fresh water crisis. And while wars will continue to be fought to control who gets the last drops of oil that can be pumped out of the ground, the BIG problem for humans (and all other living things) will be access to sufficient quantities of potable water. This Elizabeth de la Vega article on U.S. water policy (fractured, ad hoc, haphazard mish-mash) comes to Common Dreams via Tom Dispatch -- a must read. I hope the Obama team has a plan. De la Vega's article concludes:

The lives of approximately 11 million people in ten Midwestern states have been upended and — in far too many instances — devastated by this year’s wave of Mississippi River floods. The damage and the pain are immediate and ongoing. In California, too, the nightmare continues for the thousands of people who lost their homes and loved ones. Since May, there have been 1,700 wildfires sparked by lightning here; more than 300 are still raging, and 752,000 acres have been scorched. The fire “season” in the West is now year-round; reservoirs in the southeast are still depleted; fish are dying in the Great Lakes; our water is medicated with pharmaceuticals; the lost wetlands have not miraculously reappeared; and the hurricane season looms for at least three months to come.

One could argue that a fractured, ad hoc, haphazard mish-mash of random, inconsistent, and stove-piped projects, administered by a hodge-podge of 36 congressional committees and more than 20 agencies in accordance with outdated and inadequate laws constitutes a national water policy. A de facto one. But with so many ignored aha moments followed by ever-more-frequent and disastrous uh-oh moments, it seems we could use a policy that’s not quite so dependent upon sandbags and fire hoses.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All those in favor of weakening U.S. anti-money laundering laws

Still more from Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies

When the Bush administration; came into office, I wanted to raise the profile of our efforts to combat terrorist financing, but found little interest. The new President's economic advisor, Larry Lindsey had long argued for weakening U.S. anti-money laundering laws in a way that would undercut international standards. The new Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, was lukewarm at best toward the multi-lateral efforts to "name and shame" foreign money laundering havens, and allowed the process to shut down before the status of Saudi Arabian cooperation was ever assessed.

Lindsey was far too too much a realist to last long in the Bush adminiStration (BS). That he would from time to time speak inconvenient truths should not have shocked the BS. While a governor of the Federal Reserve, in September of 1996 he is reported to have challenged the assumption that corporate profits would continue to grow at an annual rate of 11 1/2% annually saying, "Readers of this transcript five years from now can check this fearless prediction: profits will fall short of this expectation."

He was fired by BS for estimating the costs of the invasion and occupation of Iraq to be between $100 and $200 billion, which he arrived at by estimating the annual costs to be about one percent of GNP for each year of the endeavor. He assumed a two year maximum time frame. Rumsfeld could not abide such frankness so Lindsey was subsequently axed.

Most interesting here is "Lindsey's long held position that U.S. money-laundering laws should be weakened." Obviously such a weakening would make U.S. banking/financial institutions more attractive to money launderers. It might also mean that banking/financial institutions that were "flirting" with violations of the law would be less likely to get caught, or perhaps, get retroactive immunity.

Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was concerned with "capital flight" and the possibility that banks from other nations concerned with the "sanctity" of bank secrecy would complain.

So, just exactly how MUCH money-laundering goes on in in the good old U.S. banks, or international conglomerate financial institutions chartered in or doing business here? What is the extent? What is the scope?

One is unlikely to ever know. However, some interesting corporate / legal / political relationships emerge, looking swamp-like.

In August, 2000, the Washington law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld was hired to sue the Mexican newspaper Por Esto and internet web journal NarcoNews in New York City for slander, libel, and damage to Banamex business (Mexico's second largest bank) in a rehashing of a suit that had previously been tossed three times by Mexican courts because they found the charges leveled against Banamex owner Roberto Hernandez were valid.

The Strauss of Akin, Gump et. al. is Robert S. Strauss, former FBI agent, former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and then the Russian Federation. currently chairman of the U.S.-Russia Business Council, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a trustee for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

On Sept. 6, 2001, then California State U.S. Congressional Representative Cynthia McKinney wrote a letter to Ambassador Strauss asking that his law firm drop their suit, arguing that:

[T]he recent agreement to sell Banamex to Citigroup for $12.5 billion, the claims made of economic damage to Banamex by a low-budget web site and by valiant independent journalists are ludicrous. This case should never have been brought to Court. There is no libel to be found in this situation, and the lawsuit is without merit. A difference of opinion in the characterization of a person or persons, based on documented fact, does not constitute libel, as the courts have established.

Fears of capital flight from the U.S.

Old news, but still telling. From Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies

I sought the new legal ban on fund-raising for terrorist groups because several people in the administration had thwarted the CSG's attempts to go after terrorist money. In January 1995 we had persuaded the President to issue an Executive Order making it a felony (under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act) to raise funds for or transfer funds to designated terrorist groups or their front organizations. Rick Newcomb, the head of an obscure but powerful office in the Treasury (the Office of Foreign Assets Control), was eager to use the new authority ...

... Newcomb used the Customs police to enforce his edicts and, after CSG review, he had them set to raid the [Holy Land Foundation of Richland, Texas], break the locks, seize the records and assets, plaster posters on the doors and windows proclaiming that the place had been raided. Then FBI Director Louis Freeh and Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin objected. Freeh was concerned with alienating Arabs in America and claimed that use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act might be challenged in court. Rubin claimed that he feared the law might not hold up under challenge. He had also been reluctant to support any moves against money laundering for fear that it would cause capital flight from the U.S.

The raid did not occur ...

Incredibly, the legal authorities we sought were not approved by the Congress in 1995. I had thought these issues were bipartisan, but the distrust and animosity between the Democratic White House and Republicans in the Congress was strong and boiled over into counterterrorism policy. The World Trade Center attack had happened, the New Yourk landmarks and Pacific 747 attacks had almost happened, sarin had been sprayed in the Tokyo subway, buses were blown up on Israeli streets, a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City had been smashed to bits, but many in the Congress opposed the counterterrorism bill. Republicans in the Senate, such as Orrin Hatch, opposed expanding organized crime wiretap provisions to terrorists. Tom Delay and other Republicans in the House agreed with the National Rifle Association that the proposed restriction on bomb making infringed on the right to bear arms. We would have to try again in 1996 to strengthen our ability to fight terrorism.

Whatever became of Louis Freeh (you might ask)?

June 2001: Upon resigning from the bureau, lauded by Attorney General John Ashcroft who called him "a model law enforcement officer".

September 2001 - January 2006: Appointed to the board of directors of the bank holding company and credit card issuer MBNA where he also served as general counselor, corporate secretary and (perhaps not altogether ironically) ethics officer.
MBNA was a "prime mover" in lobbying to get the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 passed. MBNA was subsequently

Since 2005: Director of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (big Pharma)

Since 2007: Managing Partner law firm of Freeh Sullivan Sporking, LLP

May 2007: Board of Directors, Fannie Mae

Consultant: Daimler AG (formerly DaimlerChrysler AG)

Consultant: E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Apparently, none of those jobs takes up 40 hours of his work week. OR, perhaps he's just part of the revolving door between government and corporations using his former government connections to help pass legislation favorable to corporations.

And whatever happened (again, you might ask) to Robert Rubin?

From Mother Jones via Common Dreams:

In 1999, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, always a good friend to Wall Street, finally brokered a deal between the administration and Congress that allowed banking deregulation to move forward. Shortly after the compromise was reached, Rubin took a top position at Citigroup, which went on to embark upon mergers that would have been rendered illegal under Glass-Steagall. As the New York Times put it, Rubin would be leading “what has become the first true American financial conglomerate since the Depression”-a conglomerate that could exist only because of legislation he had just shepherded through Congress.

No way could the top position at Citigroup be viewed as a "reward" for successfully brokering that deal. No way at all. More from Mother Jones via Common Dreams:

Passage of the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 was celebrated in a Wall Street Journal editorial as an end to “unfair” restrictions imposed on banks during the Great Depression, under the headline “Finally, 1929 Begins to Fade.” But Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, writing in Mother Jones, warned that the legislation, which amounted to the “finance industry’s deregulatory wish list,” would “pave the way for a new round of record-shattering financial industry mergers, dangerously concentrating political and economic power.” Mokhiber and Weissman also predicted that such mergers would eventually “create too-big-to-fail institutions that are someday likely to drain the public treasury as taxpayers bail out imperiled financial giants to protect the stability of the nation’s banking system.”

Good call Mokhiber and Weissman.

2001: [Rubin] sparks controversy in contacting Treasury Department acquaintance to ask:

if the department could convince bond-rating agencies not to downgrade the corporate debt of Enron, a debtor of Citigroup. Rubin wanted Enron creditors to lend money to the troubled company for a restructuring of its debt; a collapse of the energy giant might have serious consequences for financial markets and energy distribution. The Treasury official refused. A subsequent congressional staff investigation cleared Rubin of any wrongdoing, but he was still harshly criticized by political opponents.

July 2001: becomes member of Harvard Corporation, executive governing board of Harvard University.

October 2003: Named Vice Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization whose roots have ties to Woodrow Wilson, Howard Lippman, Herbert Hoover, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefellar, John Foster Dulles, Herbert H. Lehman, Henry Stimson, Averill Harriman, and John Kenneth Galbraith (who resigned in 1970), many serving politicians, plus all three branches of the military.

2006: Founding member of the Hamilton Group, which under the auspices of the Brookings Institute is a Free Trade globalization advocate.

2007: Member, African Progress Panel (along with Tony Blair, Koffi Annan and Michel Camdessus among others).

Rubin's bona-fides as a member of the Military-Industrial-Politcal-Financial complex are indisputable. It's also reassuring to not his footprints upon Enron and the bursting housing bubble. Truly one of the elite makers and shakers of the land.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wrong about everything and boasting about it

According to Reuters, CBS Evening News grilled and pinned Obama down on whether the "surge" helped "stabilize" Iraq.

Obama played fealty to the troops and the White House tropes saying"

"There is no doubt that the extraordinary work of our U.S. forces has contributed to a lessening of the violence, just as making sure that the Sadr militia stood down or the fact that the Sunni tribes decided to flip and work with us instead of with al-Qaeda -- something that we hadn't anticipated happening. All those things have contributed to a reduction in violence."

McCain took the opportunity to slam Obama (the old familiar we can't just tuck tail and run refrain) saying:

"When we adopted the surge, we were losing the war in Iraq, and I stood up and said I would rather lose a campaign than lose a war,"
and further adding:

"Sen. Obama said the surge would fail. He said that it couldn't succeed. He was wrong. He said he still doesn't agree that the surge has succeeded now that everybody knows that it has succeeded."

Professor Juan Cole discusses McCain's "boasts" about the surge being right and Obama being "wrong" noting:

Look, it is more important that McCain was consistently wrong. He was wrong about the desirability of going to war against Iraq. He was wrong about it being a cakewalk. He was wrong about there being WMD there. He was wrong about everything. And he was wrong about the troop escalation making things better. The casualty figures dropped in al-Anbar, where few extra US troops were ever sent. They dropped in Basra, from which the British withdrew. Something happened. Putting it all on 30,000 extra troops seems a stretch. And what about all the ethnic cleansing and displacing of persons that took place under the nose of the "surge?" McCain has been wrong about everything to do with Iraq. And he is boasting about his wisdom on it!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Conservative response to crisis

Digby perfectly sums up the attempts by the McCain campaign and Bush administration to LIE about the translation of Maliki's agreement with Obama's 16 month time frame for US troops to exit Iraq. Pith at its finest:

So we have the conservative response to crisis: secrecy, incompetence, muddying the waters based on irrelevant and untrue technicalities, continuing the zombie lies after they're disproven, and finally revealing the truth, that they think they know better than the wogs anyway. Also, the media has repeatedly soft-pedaled Maliki's remarks and at times tried to sow contradictions where none exist.

Ah yes, the media enablers, the lovers of Saint John McCain, the straight shooting maverick.

This story has everything.

24's toxic effect

Jane Mayer had a New Yorker piece about the politics behind John Surnow, co-creator and executive producer of the hit TV series 24.

The trick to selling anything, [Surnow] learned, is to carry yourself with confidence and get the customer to like you within the first five minutes. He’s got it down. “People in the Administration love the series, too,” he said. “It’s a patriotic show. They should love it.”

Yes, they should. It has helped the US public (15 million viewers a week at the height of the show's popularity) and US soldiers in Iraq accept the "validity" of torture in fighting the so-called "global war on terrorism." Not a war on human beings, mind you, nor a nations, but on a tactic typically used by an opposition who is weaker, either in force of arms, strength of force, military technology, or moral justification for the killing, mayhem and destruction.

... With unnerving efficiency, suspects are beaten, suffocated, electrocuted, drugged, assaulted with knives, or more exotically abused; almost without fail, these suspects divulge critical secrets.

The show’s appeal, however, lies less in its violence than in its giddily literal rendering of a classic thriller trope: the “ticking time bomb” plot.


Bob Cochran, who created the show with Surnow, admitted, “Most terrorism experts will tell you that the ‘ticking time bomb’ situation never occurs in real life, or very rarely. But on our show it happens every week.”


For all its fictional liberties, “24” depicts the fight against Islamist extremism much as the Bush Administration has defined it: as an all-consuming struggle for America’s survival that demands the toughest of tactics.

In this manner, the show operates as propaganda supporting the Bushian world view, and inuring Americans to the pain and suffering of others because such pain and suffering MUST be inflicted in order to save us. Another in an endlessly series of laws spawned to propagate the myth of American exceptionalism.

Since September 11th, depictions of torture have become much more common on American television.

The desensitization to torture has been going on for seven years now. But with other shows such as NCIS, and the CSI's, Americans have been served up a steady diet of dismembered and dissected bodies, skeletons, internal hemorrhaging, blood splatters and pools everywhere.

But in other TV eras, we had vicious Indian savages (50's), a seemingly endless series of Black drug dealers, pimps and snitches (70's - present day) and some very unscrupulous Hispanic drug lords (80's - present). All of these contribute to a narrative of white supremacy (and decency).

Throughout the series, secondary characters raise moral objections to abusive interrogation tactics. Yet the show never engages in a serious dialogue on the subject. Nobody argues that torture doesn’t work, or that it undermines America’s foreign-policy strategy. Instead, the doubters tend to be softhearted dupes.

Only latte-sipping liberals, intellectuals, commies, pinkos, fags, feminazi's and democrats (traitors all) would ever complain about torture. "Everybody" understands that such squeamish people aren't really Americans; they're probably anti-war and peace demonstrators - how much more unamerican can you get than that?

Howard Gordon, who is the series’ “show runner,” or lead writer, told me that he concocts many of the torture scenes himself. “Honest to God, I’d call them improvisations in sadism,” he said.

Gordon at least is far more honest than the Bush administration.

This past November [2006], U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, flew to Southern California to meet with the creative team behind “24.” Finnegan, ... was accompanied by three of the most experienced military and F.B.I. interrogators in the country ...

... Finnegan and the others had come to voice their concern that the show’s central political premise—that the letter of American law must be sacrificed for the country’s security—was having a toxic effect. In their view, the show promoted unethical and illegal behavior and had adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers.

When the dean of West Point flies cross country to make a point, I'd say either the dean doesn't have enough useful thins to do, or the man take the show's "toxic effect" VERY seriously.

Finnegan told the producers that “24,” by suggesting that the U.S. government perpetrates myriad forms of torture, hurts the country’s image internationally. Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors—cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by “24,” which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, “The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about “24”?’ ”

Note - the military is more worried about the country's image in this regard than the STATE DEPARTMENT. The military, here, is actually taking an initiative that State should have taken.

NEVER underestimate the propaganda value of TV and movies. Rambo III was dedicated to the Afghani "freedom fighters", pure political propaganda to help drum up support for US intervention to help the mujaheedan fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Of course, the mujaheedan morphed into the Taliban and al-Queda. But the CIA was able to get payback on the Soviets for the U.S. defeat in Vietnam. Read Charlie Wilson's war. This is exactly the CIA mindset motivating the extraordinary amount of money and arms provided.

Joe Navarro, one of the F.B.I.’s top experts in questioning techniques, attended the meeting; he told me, “Only a psychopath can torture and be unaffected. You don’t want people like that in your organization. They are untrustworthy, and tend to have grotesque other problems.”


The notion that physical coercion in interrogations is unreliable, although widespread among military intelligence officers and F.B.I. agents, has been firmly rejected by the Bush Administration.

Although reports of abuses by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have angered much of the world, the response of Americans has been more tepid. Finnegan attributes the fact that “we are generally more comfortable and more accepting of this,” in part, to the popularity of “24,” which has a weekly audience of fifteen million viewers, and has reached millions more through DVD sales. The third expert at the meeting was Tony Lagouranis, a former Army interrogator in the war in Iraq ...

“In Iraq, I never saw pain produce intelligence,” Lagouranis told me. “I worked with someone who used waterboarding”—an interrogation method involving the repeated near-drowning of a suspect. “I used severe hypothermia, dogs, and sleep deprivation. I saw suspects after soldiers had gone into their homes and broken their bones, or made them sit on a Humvee’s hot exhaust pipes until they got third-degree burns. Nothing happened.” Some people, he said, “gave confessions. But they just told us what we already knew. It never opened up a stream of new information.” If anything, he said, “physical pain can strengthen the resolve to clam up.”

So, who are we to believe? The Bush administration, or "professional" interrogators?

David Nevins, the former Fox Television network official who, in 2000, bought the pilot on the spot after hearing a pitch from Surnow and Cochran, and who maintains an executive role in “24,” is candid about the show’s core message. “There’s definitely a political attitude of the show, which is that extreme measures are sometimes necessary for the greater good,” he says. “The show doesn’t have much patience for the niceties of civil liberties or due process.

And at the end of the day (at the beginning of the day, and at all points in between), the present day incarnation of the republican party most assuredly has little patience of "the niceties of civil liberties or due process"

Last March, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Virginia, joined Surnow and Howard Gordon for a private dinner at Rush Limbaugh’s Florida home. The gathering inspired Virginia Thomas—who works at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank—to organize a panel discussion on “24.” The symposium, sponsored by the foundation and held in June, was entitled “ ‘24’ and America’s Image in Fighting Terrorism: Fact, Fiction, or Does It Matter?” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who participated in the discussion, praised the show’s depiction of the war on terrorism as “trying to make the best choice with a series of bad options.” He went on, “Frankly, it reflects real life.”

Strange befellows. Strange bedfellows indeed.

The same day as the Heritage Foundation event, a private luncheon was held in the Wardrobe Room of the White House for Surnow and several others from the show ... Among the attendees were Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff; Tony Snow, the White House spokesman; Mary Cheney, the Vice-President’s daughter; and Lynn Cheney, the Vice-President’s wife, who, Surnow said, is “an extreme ‘24’ fan.” After the meal, Surnow recalled, he and his colleagues spent more than an hour visiting with Rove in his office.

The so-called liberals from Hollywood?

... many prominent conservatives speak of “24” as if it were real. John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who helped frame the Bush Administration’s “torture memo”—which, in 2002, authorized the abusive treatment of detainees—invokes the show in his book “War by Other Means.” He asks, “What if, as the popular Fox television program ‘24’ recently portrayed, a high-level terrorist leader is caught who knows the location of a nuclear weapon?”

Yes John. Indeed. As an aficionado of a fictitious TV show, Woo was able to envision the scenario where torture would be necessary, and thus did her tortuously torture the definition of torture so that US interrogators could torture and not have to be mentally tortured about the consequences of inflicting torture, or the niceties of civil liberties or due process.

Get it done NOW, soldier. There's only five minutes before New York City blows!!





Not with a bang ... but with a whimper

A time honored tradition

A couple of years ago, Robert Parry had an interesting article at the Consortiumnews web site which drew on art imitating life imitating art and comparisons between the TV series 24 and political machinations (and failures) in the White House.

In Washington, political scapegoating is a time-honored tradition because demanding that the President take responsibility for national catastrophes is often viewed as too extreme or too disruptive.

So, instead of fingering Bush and other policy architects like Vice President Dick Cheney, the retired generals have pointed toward Rumsfeld for removal. Some pundits, such as the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, have urged Bush to demonstrate bipartisanship by replacing Rumsfeld with a pro-war Democrat like Sen. Joe Lieberman or a centrist Republican like Sen. Chuck Hagel.

But that likelihood appears slim. Some longtime Washington observers believe Bush wouldn’t dare put an outsider at the Pentagon now because the newcomer would have to be briefed on too many secrets: about the Iraq War, the torture guidelines, the warrantless spying on Americans, and more.


As in the fictional world of “24,” when presidential wrongdoing is indicated, most U.S. officials bend over backwards and look the other way, rather than accept the possibility that the President of the United States is a criminal and/or a threat to national security.

Being treated like a foreign head of state

From Steve Soto at the Left Coaster:

Obama has already met with Prime Minister al-Maliki, and Cheney buddy Iraqi president Jalal Talabani today, and is being treated like a foreign head of state on this trip. It's a nightmare for McCain, who along with Bush has looked like two guys playing catch-up.

This says far more about the damage the Cheney administration has inflicted on the rest of the world. YES, the world wants Obama -- no more republicans. But that luster is likely to fade with the only question being, sooner? Or later?

Not a war but a manhunt

Digby questions Obama's plan to move the GWOT to Afghanistan and raises some extremely important questions:

... I've never seen the evidence that if we had just put more troops into Afghanistan we could have "won." It seems to me that this war in Afghanistan isn't really even a war --- it's a manhunt. And we're looking for a man who probably isn't even there, but is rather holed up in neighboring Pakistan, our ostensible ally. And further complicating matters he may not even be alive, but even if we captured him and "brought him to justice" we'll just make him into a martyr and create a whole bunch more terrorists, many of them in European countries and maybe even here. I don't get the end game of this great game.

So what's this "war" all about and why are we agitating so strongly to escalate it? Can we accomplish anything by putting more troops over there? I hope so. But the Soviets had their 40th Army in there for ten years and it didn't work.

And in defeating the Soviet army (albeit aided US guns, rocket launchers and money) the mujaheeden saw that the west could be defeated with guns, money, and Korans. One would be hard pressed to argue this interpretation.

I'm skeptical that the Democrats are using the notion of an Afghanistan escalation to bolster their macho street cred and that it's going to end up biting us all in the ass just like the last time a Democratic president escalated a war out of fear of being baited by the right.


... because it looks like we're going to be in a full scale Afghan war, come hell or high water and with all that that implies for the foreseeable future, the powers that be of both parties undoubtedly feel it is necessary to keep up the fear and the fakery regardless of who is the president.

Five minutes after Obama is sworn in

One of the many astute commentators at the Calculated Risk blog, in response to the John Stewart video of the 10:20 a.m. simultaneous and entirely incompatible pronouncements on the economy by the optimister MBA in chief and the downer Fed PhD had these comments, which are likely to prove remarkably prescient, if Obama is elected:

It's not a "bailout" and we're not currently in a "recession".

Just to be clear, the "bailouts" and the "recession" will begin five minutes after Obama takes his hand off of the bible at the swearing in ceremony.

The first question we'll need to ask is: Why hasn't he solved these problems yet?

We'll then generously demand that Obama implement our solutions for the looming Democrat Financial Crisis:

Lower Taxes and Less Regulation of the Free Markets!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tremendous loss of face for Bush-Cheney-Rice combine

The deal struck by Condoleezza Rice with the Czecch Republic to install US radar system to augment its missile defense system in central Europe as well as the US / Georgia joint military exercise code named Immediate Response 2008 have provoked Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President.

The German Alexander Rahr, noted expert on Russia has said, "Russia's veto is in response to the missile shield ... Russia is trying to show that America cannot decide everything."

Russia also announced that for the first time since 1991, its war ships will resume patrol of Arctic waters.

M K Bhadrakumar writing for Asia Times Online suggests that the trigger behind these escalating events might be energy security. One of Medveded's first orders after taking over the Presidency in May was the "expeditious completion of the first stage of the Eastern Siberia Pacific Oil Pipeline (ESPO) by end-2009." Seeking to balance its exports between Europe and the Pacific rim Moscow seeks to increase its oil exports to the Pacific from the current 3% level to one third by 2020.

While touring the Caspian region in early July, Medvedev "made a stunning offer that Russia was prepared to buy Azerbaijan's entire gas output at market prices." In Turkmenistan he supported the commitment to modernize the Central Asia-Central pipeline and the building of a new littorial Caspian pipeline.

But the biggest burr under the Bush administration's saddle was the announcement that Gazprom, the world's largest extractor of natural gas, plans to build a pipeline across the Medditeranean to pump Libyan gas to Europe. Gazprom would handle Libya's entire oil, gas, and liquified natural gas for export to the US and Europe.

Furthermore, Gazprom wants to buy exploration licenses in Nigeria and has proposed to build a pipeline from Nigeria to Algeria and in conjuncture with the Algerian government is developing a proposal to joint market gas to Europe.

The US retaliated by cutting Russia off from Iraq's oil, even though in February, Russia had written off 93% of Iraq's oil debt ( valued at $12 billion, US). Rather than getting angry, Russia went to Tehran and recently got a deal signed for Russian companies to develop Iran's oil and gas fields.

The so-called "international packages of incentives" to get Iran to stop their nuclear program is quite likely to include access by US companies to Iran's energy resources, given Halliburton's previous prominence in Iran.

Bhadrakumar writes that "The geopolitics of energy security are a highly sensitive subject for the Bush administration, whose profound links with Big Oil are legion. It is a tremendous loss of face for the Bush-Cheney-Rice combine that Moscow is outwitting the US on the energy front. "

Knowing the pique, pettiness, and rueful disdain of the Bush administration towards those who oppose it, expect escalating responses. One more mess for the incoming US president to deal with.

Fighting two wars, a justice department inquiry into the Valerie Plame scandal, figuring out all the democratic targets for the justice department to take down, firing 8 states attorneys, cutting taxes for hedge fund managers, dealing with the fallout from the Enron scandal, the housing market meltdown, this is all real hard work.

When you lie for a living, and have to keep track of all the lies, and when you believe that military force is the way to make nations bend to your will, when you believe that you create your own reality, it must be very disconcerting to wake up and find that the world goes on without you and that other nations who deign to try the fine art of diplomacy can trump you.

Note too - Russia HAS a national energy policy. (The Bush administration does too - they just don't want to tell anyone about it.)