Thoughts as I Watched the Revolution in Egypt…(Update 1X)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

UPDATE  4/27/11

Well, Egypt  isn’t turning out so great…It’s all so predictable, isn’t it?  Any whiff of hope anywhere gets squelched real fast. 
And we’re now involved with Libya.  Meanwhile, the powers in Syria seem to be emulating the Libyan approach to dealing with protesters.

It’s like watching one disheartening train wreck after another.

Some personal train wrecks have taken me away from this blog…but, a rest still is in order.  It takes a lot of energy to fight the world these days!

One real positive is that our photovoltaic solar system is now up and running and yes, the meter is running backwards!  Have lots of pics and details which I hope to post one of these days!

*****

Nothing profound here to say, only an urge to write about my feelings as I’ve been sitting glued to Al Jazeera for days on end.

Today, I was clapping and cheering for the people of Egypt. A rush of feelings and memories flashed by.  I remembered 2000 as our elections were completely corrupted. (Some satisfaction as George W.  Bush is unable to go to Switzerland…war criminal that he is!)  I was thinking of the lies that led to the Iraq War and thought about the report I heard this morning on NPR about how there are fears that something may coalesce as the heat arrives and the electricity remains on only 2 hours a day. Protests percolating already around Iraq, and I say, go for it!

I’m finding myself coming back over and over again to about how the U.S. is perhaps going to get its ass kicked and deservedly so. They utter hypocrisy of the “democracy talk” as we sit here supporting repressive regimes all over the world.  We are a fraud when it comes to democracy.

My mind dwells on the right wing religious freaks and the Republican Party that has become their home who continue to attempt to screw women out of their rights and their independence as human beings, who basically are out to screw anything that helps people. And I’m supposed to worry about the Muslim Brotherhood while I live in a country that has it’s own brand of the Taliban roaming the halls of Congress??

I think of John Lennon. A site has “Revolution” up but I’m thinking of “Power to the People.” Is that the right title? I don’t know, but I can hear John singing it. Who really killed John Lennon? I’ve seen enough and read enough to figure it wasn’t just another “lone gunman.”

I’m sitting here, having celebrated my 60th birthday a few days ago….reflecting on the marches for women’s rights, the power of the movement, and how every time a fucking Republican comes along…with fake Democrats who assist…how every time we go BACKWARDS! And how backwards we have gone!  I think about the type of  “leadership” we have in this country…there are no real thinkers leading these days.  Between the servants of the bankers,  the increasingly shrill Republicans and passive Democrats…Jeebus, am I supposed to look at the Palins, Gingriches, Romneys and that Jeb Bush lurking in the corner and feel optimistic??  When I see how skillfully a Chris Christie can take a state like New Jersey and divide people into camps and blame all ills on teachers  and the people who do the day to day work to keep the place running?….disgusting!  Lying thuggery personified…and just the tip of the iceberg, I’m afraid. And Obama pontificating on democracy after Mubarak’s demise…what a load of crap.

I think about how we were supposed to get some “community radio” but all I hear is right wing shit talk radio all over the dial. People getting very little true news follow these propagandists for the right as they go about their highly-paid work to divide and conquer and sow the seed of intolerance and hate.

Yeah, I’m watching Egypt and cheering them on….but knowing full well that the arm of the IMF will probably soon reach in and grab them by the throat. Hell, we fund it and guess what? The IMF is talking about the dollar no longer being the reserve currency for the world. I’m just surprise all this is happening so quickly…Between the IMF and the Fed, Americans do not know how the world is getting screwed and how it’s going to come back to bite them.

Fat and unaware Americans will soon wake up to find that they are being ground down to a pulp.  Your dollars will be worthless soon.

We wrote a lot in the past about the impending disaster that was going to befall lthis nation.  There are many wonderful sites out there trying to wake people up. I read them every day…and spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to save my own financial neck.

Start stocking up on food, go to ChrisMartenson.com to start to try to prepare yourself (in right sidebar links).

And to the Egyptian people…stay strong, stay proud. I’m rooting for you…you’re starting fresh while the U.S. is rotting from the inside.  Note to the women there…get loud and don’t let them steamroller you…

China Called “The Biggest Risk to the World Economy” But History Shows that War Can Always Straighten This Sort of Situation Out (Update 1X: China Missile = “No-Go Zone” for U.S.?)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

We’ve be writing later about the strength of China, but lately there has been some talk rising about a possible bubble being created in China.  In the Telegraph (U.K.),  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has written a piece which looks at what’s going on titled China has now become the biggest risk to the world economy.

This article shed a totally different light on the views of Larry Kudlow that I wrote about in my previous post, Larry Kudlow Has a Fit as Obama the “Declinist” Opens His Mouth in Japan; Says Obama is “Not His President”.

Evans-Pritchard argues that China is not going to take over as the growth engine of the world economy.  I’ve heard quite often that China cannot pull the world out of its economic troubles.  The stats that I’ve seen indicate that China, no matter how robust, simply is still too small an economy to accomplish this.

Evans-Pritchard has concluded that China’s policies” continue to play havoc with global trade and risk tipping the world into a second leg of the Great Recession.”

Why?  According to the piece, there’s plenty of overcapacity in China.  I saw a report the other day showing empty structures, built for basically no use.  The article explains:

“The inherent problems of the international economic system have not been fully addressed,” said China’s president Hu Jintao. Indeed not. China is still exporting overcapacity to the rest of us on a grand scale, with deflationary consequences.

While some fret about liquidity-driven inflation, Justin Lin, World Bank chief economist, said the greater danger is that record levels of idle plant almost everywhere will feed a downward spiral of job cuts and corporate busts. “I’m more worried about deflation,” he said.

Paul Krugman is quoted in this piece and he explains that China’s policy to hold the value of the yuan down versus the dollar is basically “stealing American jobs” as it relies on cheap exports to stave off massive unemployment. And other Asian countries must do it, too.

Of course, our capitalists use the cheap labor in China and, as the author says, “then lobby Capitol Hill to prevent Congress doing anything about it. This is labour arbitrage.”

But, China doesn’t hold all the cards, although it seems that way.  Evans-Pritchard writes:

Washington can bring China to its knees at any time by shutting markets. There is no symmetry here. Any move by Beijing to liquidate its holdings of US Treasuries could be neutralized – in extremis – by capital controls. Well-armed sovereign states can do whatever they want.

So, what’s the situation in China?  Their much-heralded stimulus has been spent building up more capacity to ship more goods and they’ve been investing in property and stocks. There is a huge credit explosion and production is booming.  BUT, Evans-Pritchard reveals:

Once you know that Hunan authorities have torn down two miles of modern flyway so that they can soak up stimulus by building it again, or that the newly-built city of Ordos is sitting empty in Inner Mongolia, you know what must come next.

A crash, right??

The Chinese consumer is supposed to be the solution to all this overcapacity and oversupply, but it won’t happen overnight.  Meanwhile, China’s central bank is tightening and fewer loans are being issued.

Evans-Pritchard concludes:

The world economy is still skating on thin ice. The West is sated with debt, the East with plant. The crisis has been contained (or masked) by zero rates and a fiscal blast, trashing sovereign balance sheets. But the core problem remains. The Anglo-sphere and Club Med are tightening belts, yet Asia is not adding enough demand to compensate. It is adding supply.

My view is that markets are still in denial about the structural wreckage of the credit bubble. There are two more boils to lance: China’s investment bubble; and Europe’s banking cover-up. I fear that only then can we clear the rubble and, very slowly, start a fresh cycle.

In my earlier post, I included the quote by Obama that Kudlow ridiculed:

While he also talked of multilateral cooperation and human rights, he came to Asia to deliver the message that the rapidly growing export-driven economies can no longer count on the U.S. consumer to keep them afloat.

It seemed a bit arrogant, particularly because Obama hasn’t really been pushing China much:

As for Obama, during the presidential campaign Obama promised to “crack down on China” but during the primaries there was chatter: “But his commitment to that point of view was thrown into doubt during the primaries when a Canadian official said an Obama adviser had privately characterized his tough stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement as political posturing.” (As an example, see: U.S. to Impose Tariff on Tires From China, Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2009.  Detractors figure that “the tariff won’t result in more jobs. Tires will simply come in from other low-cost countries, they say, and U.S. manufacturers, keep making their cheaper tires in China.”) Of course, this is classic Obama…all that “get-tough” talk and “insisting” while we have to go “hat in hand” to China…more blowing smoke.

But Evans-Pritchard comments (above) about Washington’s ability to really shove are food for thought. To repeat, “Well-armed sovereign states can do whatever they want.”

Now, I’m not suggesting Barack Obama is going to start a “real” war with China.  I don’t even think a sane Repbulican would.  (Then again, the Chosen One may just be arrogant enough????)

But, what about an INSANE Republican or Democrat, for that matter, since the elite in Washington are all about the same?  George W. Bush and his oil buddies decided to mess around in Iraq and look what we’re stuck with.  (George and his father were too busy with their long-time ties to China, so Iraq filled the bill for George II.) Barack Obama is worrying about that pipeline in Afghanistan that’s attacked so often by the Taliban that it hasn’t even been able deliver any oil yet.

But, there are lots of INSANE Republicans and Democrats around and who can trust ANY of them?

And, there’s history which shows a link between trade and wars.

Over at the RGE Monitor, Kevin O’Rourke wrote in a 2008 piece  titled Lessons of 1000 Years of Trade History: (my bolding)

Even more fundamentally, the continuation of a broadly liberal international trading environment will require that the geopolitical system adapt to the rise of China, India and other ‘Third World’ giants.  In a historical context, this represents of course the restoration of the status quo ante, the end of a “Great Asymmetry” in international economic and political affairs caused by the Industrial Revolution, which was itself in large part a product of the interactions between early modern Europe and the rest of the world.  But that is not to say that such an adjustment will be easy.  The international system has historically done a pretty poor job of accommodating newcomers to the Great Power club. German unification and industrialisation during the late 19th century led to tensions with Britain and France over colonial and armament policy, while Japan’s rise to regional prominence during the interwar period, and its search for secure sources of raw materials, ended in war against United States and its allies.  Both precedents are worrying, in that similar questions are posed today, both in terms of the rights of emerging nations to rival the established powers’ military capabilities (notably with regard to nuclear weapons), and in terms of the strategic importance to countries like China of ready access to oil supplies and other natural resources.

The last point should cause us to reflect that, Cobden and Montesquieu notwithstanding, interdependence and trade do not necessarily guarantee peace.  The world economy of the late 19th century was extremely interdependent, to the point where Norman Angell famously felt able to pronounce, on the eve of World War I, that major conflict was now unthinkable.  Interdependence implies vulnerability, and vulnerability can lead to fear, with unpredictable consequences, as Anglo-German rivalry in the run-up to the Great War, and Japanese reactions to the Great Depression and Smoot-Hawley, both indicate.

Impermanence appears to be the most enduring feature of the human condition, and if there is one lesson which we can safely learn from history, it is that history has not ended.  Hopefully it will not repeat itself.

We know that Barack Obama knows nothing about history (in fact, dismissing the entire Viet Nam experience), and I’d bet that none of our future leaders will know it either. And, even if they DO, I doubt they’d actually pay any attention to any lessons to be learned.

***

UPDATE 1

Looks like China isn’t missing this military angle:

Related Story from Bloomberg News, November 17, 2009 (excerpt):

China’s New Missile May Create a ‘No-Go Zone’ for U.S. Fleet

China’s military is close to fielding the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile, according to U.S. Navy intelligence.The missile, with a range of almost 900 miles (1,500 kilometers), would be fired from mobile, land-based launchers and is “specifically designed to defeat U.S. carrier strike groups,” the Office of Naval Intelligence reported.

Five of the U.S. Navy’s 11 carriers are based in the Pacific and operate freely in international waters near China. Their mission includes defending Taiwan should China seek to exercise by force its claim to the island democracy, which it considers a breakaway province.

The missile could turn this region into a “no-go zone” for U.S. carriers, said Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budget Assessments in Washington. (MORE)

The Complicated Diplomatic Life of Hillary Clinton (UPDATE 1X: Clinton on the Defensive in Congo over Bill’s “Presence”; UPDATE 2X: Bill Off the Leash?; UPDATE 3X: Video of Clinton Congo Outburst, Glenn Beck Comments)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

UPDATE 1: 8/10/09 PM:

Apparently, Hillary Clinton IS getting touched by the recent focus on her husband–in Congo, no less!  This is SO NOT GOOD! And in so many ways…for women, for Clinton herself, for the country…is the final set-up in place for her to leave? A large part of her visit to Congo is going to focus on the mass rapes in the country and human rights issues, but by the time the following report gets to the U.S. that emphasis will probably be lost.

Note: I’ve deleted the original excerpt after seeing that it was from the AP….replaced by the story from the France24/AFP:

Clinton pushes rights issues in Congo, Angola

snip

Clinton faced a flurry of questions from the students, not all to her liking. At one point, she showed a rare flash of public anger as a young man asked for the views of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

“My husband is not the secretary of state, I am,” Clinton said forcefully.

The AP story also quoted her as saying she wouldn’t be “channeling” Bill Clinton and described her response as being “snapped.”

The Voice of America news omits the exchange and the BBC story only cites the last line/quotation (without the “she snapped” or the “forcefully.”)

UPDATE 2

Albert R. Hunt, Exec. Editor for Washington for Bloomberg News opined 8/10:

Big Dog May Not Return to Leash After Pyongyang

What will this Pandora’s Box yield?

UPDATE 3   8/11/09   AM

From the AP story at FOX News, the video…and, as predicted, this is going viral. Glenn Beck was razzing Clinton about this on his AM radio show just now and will sending it in his newsletter.  He did make one comment that makes a lot of sense: that Clinton must really regret that she took the job.  Whatever it is, she’s cleary frustrated as hell.  Beck also played a tape of her during the campaign in which she shouts about how “Amercans have a right to debate” and how “debate is patriotic” (in reference to the Bush Administration). Beck mocked her “gentle” style and compared it to her outburst in Congo.  He also commented on her absence from the trip to Russia and the N. Korean business.  He was implying that she was being cut out of the loop.   He was caustic, of course, but an awful lot of it was spot on.  Especially when he finished up by saying that the Obama/ACORN machine had taken down the Clinton machine–that’s how scary these people (Obama people)  are.

more about “untitled“, posted with vodpod

***

ORIGINAL POST BEGINS HERE (Touching on what’s been brewing and finally came out today, as reported above.)”

This is a complicated post that has evolved over several days observation…

To start,  back on Tuesday, 8/4/09,  I posted a little comment over at the TD Blog’s open thread on Bill Clinton’s mission to N. Korea to free Al Gore’s journalists/reporters  from Current TV (or whatever they are).  I commented:

I expect to hear at some point that Bill’s success shows that Hillary sucks at being SOS…

So, lo and behold, I listened to the report on the “rescue” the next  morning on the BBC World Service news bulletin (at 1400 UTC)  and at the very end, the throwaway comment by a reporter on the phone (a British reporter, not an American) was (sic) “What’s interesting is that SOS Hill Clinton is married to Bill Cinton and he accomplished what she couldn’t.”  The AP on Thursday (8/6) in an analysis piece (can’t quote them) and the L.A. Times in a news story that, of course, includes “analysis” used the word “overshadow” in their post-mission coverage.

Meanwhile, over at the BBC’s “Have Your Say” page, the teaser is “Should Africa Listen to Hillary Clinton?”

Should Africa listen to Hillary Clinton?

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begun a tour of Africa, saying improving democracy is the key to boosting trade and development. But should Africa follow her advice? (more)

Gee, I thought she was representing the Obama Administration/the United States–why the “personalization” of her foreign policy trip?

Well, I guess it’s understandable, since Clinton has personalized some of her rhetoric, notably her comments in late July regarding North Korea. From the detailed coverage of the spat at India’s IBNLive:

“Maybe it’s the mother in me, the experience I’ve had with small children and teenagers and people who are demanding attention, Don’t give it to them,” she said in the interview.

She also said the North Koreans were like “little children” who “had no friends left.”

I have no no problem to the reference to motherhood, in general, but …did Clinton’s acid comments really help the situation?

North Korea’s Foreign Minister issued a scathing response. From the KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY of DPRK(Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)

She said during her recent trip to India that “north Korea should not receive the attention it is seeking through behavior like missile launches,” likening Pyongyang’s behavior to that of unruly children. Her words suggest that she is by no means intelligent.

The DPRK has taken necessary measures to protect the nation’s sovereignty and right to existence to cope with the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat, not to attract anyone’s attention.

snip

We cannot but regard Mrs. Clinton as a funny lady as she likes to utter such rhetoric, unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community.

Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.

Anyone making misstatements has to pay for them.

While some stories in the Western press called N. Korea’s personal attack “bizarre”  (See: the Agence France-Press report at News.com.au titled  North Korea in bizarre Hillary Clinton attack ),  over at IBNLive there’s a vote up on Clinton, up or down which is basically tied, and also a place where, among several choices,  you can give her flowers or throw tomatoes, complete with a “live action” tomato throw at Clinton.  Currently the tomatoes are the most popular choice.

The result of this spat was that the 6-party talks were declared “dead”….but the rhetoric was toned down and backchannel work to reset the playing field  was undertaken and then, enter Bill Clinton and the freeing of the Current TV writers.

Early on,  Asia Times Online, the “private” nature of Bill’s N. Korean rescue mission was nabbed as a “fantasy”: See Dear Leader stars in Bill and Hillary show for a good read.

Clinton was just the high-profile visitor North Korea hoped to entice from Washington in return for handing over the journalists.

Why bother to pretend otherwise, after wife Hillary, as secretary of state, had laid the groundwork by saying that maybe Ling and Lee had made a mistake and strayed across the Tumen River border with China when North Korean soldiers picked them up on March 17? And hadn’t Hillary already expressed an apology for the mishap after having said earlier the two had done nothing wrong?

The Independent Opinion Page seemed to think everything is OK for Hillary:

Yet one perk now stands out. How many other jobs would enable a woman to send her philandering husband to North Korea? Many women have fantasised about it. Mrs Clinton has actually done it. Take note Harriet Harman. Some sisters, at least, are letting their menfolk know who wears the (pantsuit) trousers.

Well, that BBC reporter quoted up top doesn’t seem to echo this shallow assessment. Neither did the AP or the L. A. Times and other media outlets. From the  above L.A. Times story,

It once again led to him overshadowing his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, even as she is on her own diplomatic trip to Africa.

snip

At the same time, the trip left some uncertainty about how Clinton’s new diplomatic career is fitting in with that of his wife, America’s chief diplomat. While Bill Clinton was in a worldwide spotlight, the debut of Hillary Clinton’s 11-day trip to Africa received scant attention. She has been trying to raise her visibility in an administration stocked full of capable diplomats and influential White House foreign policy aides. The Africa trip, including stops in Kenya — Obama’s father’s homeland — and several longtime hot spots, was meant to help her raise her own profile.

In an NBC interview Wednesday, the secretary of State said that though she had originally favored Gore for the North Korea assignment, she was “very much in favor” of sending her husband once the North Koreans requested it.

And, here’s something else, also from the L.A. Times story:

“This is really going to help consolidate his role as an elder statesman,” said Ross Baker, a political analyst at Rutgers University. “It almost gave him a kind of heroic tint.”

So Bill is the hero of the story; Hillary, not so much. Heck, by the end of the week on the McLaughlin Group, Hillary Clinton’s name didn’t even come up in the discussion of Bill’s trip to N. Korea and its potential implications at all!

Back to that BBC news bulletin I mentioned right up at the top…

A short bit later in the same news bulletin, I heard the report on Hillary Clinton’s umbrage at the Kenyan government…their corruption, impunity, and failure to correct the problems that resulted in the post-election violence back in December 2007.

The BBC story below has a video of  Clinton Speaking at the 8th AGOA Conference.

Kenya impunity ‘disappoints US’

snip

Addressing the press following a meeting with the Kenya’s president and prime minister, Mrs Clinton strongly criticised Kenya’s political leadership.

She said the absence of strong and effective institutions had permitted ongoing corruption, impunity and human rights violations.

And she noted that these conditions had helped fuel the violence that engulfed the country in early 2008.

“We’ve been very clear in our disappointment that action has not been taken [over the violence],” she said.

“It is far preferable that it be done in the regular course of business, that prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials step up to their responsibilities and remove the question of impunity.”

The violence broke out after supporters of Raila Odinga – the main opposition leader at the time – said he had been cheated of victory in the December 2007 polls.

Clinton adds:

“I want you to know President Obama feels a personal connection and commitment to the future of Kenya.”

If you listen to her speak this line, she enunciates every word very carefully, as if she wants to make sure everyone listening gets it.  It’s overkill, of course.  Perhaps over-compensating for Obama’s ties to Odinga and the same old, same old foreign policy that’s chugging along. Or some reflexive sense that she has to make sure any hint of “not being fully on board” is dispelled.  Whatever.  It seems to happen fairly often.

A little bit below this video there’s an audio clip which discusses the main concern of the U.S. regarding  Africa, namely, OIL, since 24% of our imports come from Africa and catching up with China, Russia, and India.

Emira Woods, Liberian-American  journalist and an “expert on U.S. foreign policy in Africa”  comments, that  despite the ” lofty rhetoric” of Obama’s Inaugural Address, U.S. foreign policy is “still focused on a  narrow definition of U.S  interests” with regard to “extractive industries”…oil, gas, and mining.  Then there’s the “land grab” which is going on across the African continent.  According to Woods, large “tracks of lands” are being turned over to the production of biofuels to fuel cars around the world, but there’s really very little concern about feeding starving children.  Woods also relays concerns about the militarization of Africa. (Note: Both the Clinton video and the Woods audio are here on one page:   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8185626.stm).

Very little “hope and change” over there, just like there’s very little here at home…

And in Angola, Clinton pushed for  “credible elections”…you know, the kind the Democrats gave us last year during the primaries.  Eek!

Of course, the topic turned to oil. From the BBC:

In Luanda, Mrs Clinton is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with American oil giant Chevron and the US Agency for International Development (USAid) to promote investment in Angola’s agricultural sectors like coffee and bananas.

Asked about China’s growing influence in Angola, Mrs Clinton said she was not interested in what other people were doing in Angola because her focus was on what the US was doing.

Last year, Angola overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s leading source of crude oil.

She’s not interested in what China is doing?  Really?  Oh, please.  It sounds sort of glib, doesn’t it? And completely disingenuous…

So, basically, all the trumpeting of a new foreign policy seems to be a lot of hot air and not much different than anything that’s come before. The U.S.’s self-interest is still all wrapped up in oil.

Remember how during the Bush years we got all sorts of big talk?  Remember the infamous “axis of evil” reference in his 2002 State of the Union address (axis = North Korea, Iran & Iraq)?  Well, there are times when Clinton sounds just like George W. with her sometimes very harsh or very glib statements.

Now, I really deplore the snark from that BBC reporter aimed at  Hillary Clinton about Bill coming to the rescue.  She seems to absorb al this without batting an eye. Then again, Hillary got the “street finger” from the Obama crew during the primaries. And she chose to leave the Senate and sign on with the Obama crowd.  It’s nice that she’s adding some comments about women in her speeches, but in real life, she’s being slimed by a reporter for the BBC and undercut in her desired appointments to positions by the Obama team.  It’s been reported that HIS  people are in under her, not her first choices for key jobs.  And now, Bill has re-entered and is the new hero of the N. Korea situation.

But she’s apparently OK with all this. (?)

So, the upshot of how this makes me feel is that 1) She’s getting shafted or undercut too often and 2) Sometimes she speaks in ways that makes me scratch my head. But most of the time, I just wonder what will happen next. What does Bill do next?  Madeline Albright sure didn’t have to deal with this sort of thing. I can’t figure it out, unless Clinton is used to the soft form of “battered wife” syndrome.  Then there’s the dealings with Obama, the guy who cheated and muscled himself into the nomination.  Here she is, right on board the train with the usual U.S. foreign policy, surrounded by Obama loyalists, while he keeps his nose clean. I guess she’s OK with this and how she must defer to his lead, but it I don’t feel OK watching it all happen.

So, while others cling to Hillary Clinton as their personal inspiration, I can only say that I’m left with very mixed feelings at this point. I sort of shake my head and say ” Too bad”  about Clinton’s odd position at State, along with everything else that is “too bad” these days…

Iraqi Oil Contract Bidding: BBC vs. NPR Reporting

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Here’s a little nugget for you regarding the bidding on Iraqi oil fields…the ones that the U.S. was supposed to clean up on after the “liberation” of Iraq.

It’s also a tale of the miserable news reporting we have here, including the “superior” NPR Radio.

I woke up and listened to the BBC World Service yesterday as usual and heard a brief report about bidding for Iraqi oil contracts.  The report included the facts that bidders weren’t exactly running to invest in Iraq.

From the BBC:

Oil companies reject Iraq’s terms

Only one of the bidders for the eight contracts to run oil and gas fields in Iraq has accepted oil ministry terms.

Six oil fields and two gas fields were available in a televised auction that was the first big oil tender in Iraq since the invasion of 2003.

BP and China’s CNPC agreed to run the 17 billion barrel Rumaila field after Exxon Mobil turned it down.

Iraq has asked the rest of the companies to consider resubmitting bids for the other seven contracts.

The oil ministry is offering 20-year service contracts.

Other fields have failed to find buyers, either because there were no bidders or because terms were declined.

Thirty-two oil companies had been approved as potential bidders.

MORE

The terms, of course, are detailed in the story, but suffice to say that the amount of payment is one of the key issues.  Another twist is that these are not “production-sharing” deals, but “service contracts” being offered because the Iraqi parliament hasn’t passed an oil bill yet and this sort of contract makes it easier to start the process at this point.  Under service contracts, a fixed fee will be paid for oil produced instead of having a proportion of the oil awarded to a company under a production-sharing contract.

So, things aren’t proceeding that quickly on the oil production front.

However, I caught a report on NPR which didn’t provide that information. Instead, the report simply mentioned that Iraqi oil bidding had started.

If you look at the story on the NPR site, you’ll see a fuller report, with the emphasis on being a lot more “touchy-feely.”

Foreign Companies Bid On Iraqi Oil Licenses

Morning Edition, June 30, 2009 · Foreign companies could soon be pumping Iraqi oil for the first time in nearly 40 years.

On Tuesday, the government of Iraq opened bids from oil companies interested in helping the country realize its oil production potential.

The oil companies are so eager for a crack at Iraq’s vast oil wealth that they are willing to overlook some big negatives: It’s a country still at war. There’s a lot of political opposition to foreign oil companies. There’s no guarantee the contracts awarded at this auction will even be honored. And yet, more than 30 companies submitted bids.

Big Oil has not had an opportunity like this for decades.

A bit later in the story, we do get some reality:

When Saddam Hussein kicked the foreign oil companies out of Iraq in 1972, many Iraqis supported the move, and there is still strong opposition to any sharing of the country’s oil wealth with foreign companies. The withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns this week has only reinforced Iraqi nationalism. In the coming weeks or months, Iraqi parliamentarians may even move to overturn oil contracts awarded through Tuesday’s auction.

But there’s hope:

The opening round produced only one deal. The Iraqi offers generally fell short of the oil company bids, and additional bargaining seemed likely.

Such deals won’t necessarily be highly profitable for the oil companies. In the next phase of the competition, however, the Iraqi government is expected to open fields that have not yet been explored or developed. The companies that win the right to search for oil might then be able to take a share of what they find. It’s that competition — not this one — that would mean big money for the companies.

“This is just everybody kind of wanting to get their foot in the door for the bigger prizes that will be here in a year or two,” says Stratfor’s Zeihan. No one wants to be left out.

“What makes Iraq special,” says Diwan, “is [that] there is room for all the big oil companies at the same time, and for all them to have sizable projects. Everybody will get something fairly large.”

All this may be very true, but if you only caught the brief headline story that I heard on the radio later in the day, you wouldn’t have a clue about the first day of bidding.

The question is, of course, why a news brief on the BBC can include fact that there was a difficult first day of bidding, while the NPR brief omits this information.

That’s a silly question, of course, because we all know that Americans are not allowed to get news, just spin and and obsfucation.

Left and Right and Silly

~~By Kenosha Marge

I admit freely, openly and honestly that for many years I voted a straight Democrat ticket. I admit freely, openly and honestly that for many years I was a nitwit for doing that. I didn’t research and I didn’t even care all that much about investigating whether the person who got my silly vote so easily was worthy. If it breathed and had a “D” after it’s name, it got my vote. Come on admit it, most of you did the same thing.

Now all those years and silly votes later I am appalled at my lack of integrity. How can someone, anyone treat their precious right to vote so cavalierly? How could I? I hang my head in shame.

Like many of the left I pooh-poohed the sight of voters in Iraq proudly showing their “purple” fingers. They displayed their “purple” fingers proudly and courageously. Because I was so partisan and loathed George Bush I missed something very important. Among all the death and destruction a good thing happened. Just because I hated the war and those that supported it was no reason to dismiss the joy those people felt because they were finally allowed to vote. Did they all vote intelligently? Do we? They dodged gunfire and the real fear of death to vote. Many Americans stay home if it rains. I am ashamed that my partisanship made me dismiss that pride and courage.

I was a person who had always prided myself on being a good citizen because I always voted. Now I see myself as no better than those that didn’t vote. They might have been lazy, but I was stupid. Sadly there are a lot of voters, left and right that do the same thing I always did. Sadly they haven’t seen the light. If it lives and breathes and spouts the correct talking points and has the “right” as in correct consonant after their name, they’ll vote for he/she/it. Isn’t it amazing how easily satisfied we have become about the people that are supposed to represent us?

The newly smarter me now looks at actions instead of words and deeds instead of the doer. And guess what? There are many times when I would not vote for the Democrat. The first time I came to that conclusion I was totally goshwoggled. How could I have been so blind? Kinda like many people feel once the honeymoon is over.

Having decided in my old age to take off the partisan blindfold I discovered a world of things I had not acknowledged as worthy. If all worthiness is in my party then your party is unworthy. Had I ever trimmed all the rhetoric and high-flying phrases down to that simplicity I might have noticed what a nitwit I was far sooner. I must admit that the words “ better late than never” don’t sound so good to me right now. As we used to say back in my day, it sounds like a cop-out.

I also should have noticed far sooner that are media is no longer made up of the same kind of people we had when I first started watching the news with my parents. It is no longer a “Chet and David” media world.

I always suspected that most politicians, even a Democrat or two, lied occasionally. It didn’t occur to me that people in the business of informing the people did the same thing. People who had their own little section of the Constitution wouldn’t be so crass. Would they? Are they? Damn.

The majority of the print media as well as those that infest our airwaves and television screens are people with little or no integrity. They “spin” the news to make it say what their corporate bosses want it to say and then collect giant paychecks for being liars. Prostitutes give more bang for the buck than presstitutes. They have a higher customer satisfaction rate too I suspect.

One of the sleaziest of these overpaid slugs, by the name of Olbermann, has one of the lower ranked and rated programs on cable news. Olbermann is consistently beaten and beaten badly night after bloviating night in the ratings. This would seem to say that his bosses–that would be GE–are willing to pay this cretin enormous amounts of money to lie, spin, twist, and distort the news for public consumption and to hell with ratings. I am happy to report that the cretinous Tweety Matthews has even lower ratings..

I admit to having watched Olbermann for a while. His shtick grew old very quickly. He did bash Bush when few others were willing to do that. He also made a nightly habit of beating up on some dimwitted or demented female personality. What was with that, I wondered. Time came to prove that is was because the man is a rampant misogynist. Probably has a small or inactive weenie too. That he uses Murrow’s tagline is repulsive.

Now that I have finally opened my eyes and looked around I find that there is very little differences in the two major parties. They both pander shamelessly to their base, they both promise the moon and deliver a pizza, and they are both corrupt. Their issues may at times seem polar opposite but in the end they are alike in that all they truly care about is getting rich, getting power, and getting re-elected.

Common sense, which I once thought I had should have made me see the error of my ways long before I did. The Democratic Party had to show such corruption that I could no longer ignore it before I admitted the truth to myself. None of us likes admitting that we are/were wrong.

As a resident of the great state of Wisconsin I should have been more aware. We after all have foisted men like Joe McCarthy on the public. We have also gifted them with the likes of William Proxmire. Seems almost schizophrenic doesn’t it?

We carry through on that tradition to this day. Our two “Democratic” Senators, Feingold and Kohl both have a “D” after their name. One really does represent all those old-fashioned democratic ideals that I have believed in and thought I was voting for all these years. The other? Not so much. I am proud to have voted for Russ Feingold and equally proud to have voted against Herb Kohl. Both these actions are now done with both eyes wide open and without a partisan blindfold in sight. I even find myself agreeing with my Republican Congresscritter Paul Ryan now and again. Imagine that. A short time ago I couldn’t have.

***

Links of interest:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Proxmire

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_McCarthy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Fleece_Award

http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=44963

Bill Richardson at Commerce: Scary

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

With the hoopla about Hillary Clinton as the nominee for Secretary of State, the nomination of Bill Richardson at Commerce seems anti-climactic to many.  I decided to check out what the Department of Commerce really encompasses and was in for a real education. The various tentacles that reach out from Commerce are something to behold…and, I think, will provide Richardson with a whole lot of ways to make mischief.

As a New Mexico resident, I have to admit that I can’t stand this duplicitous jerk.  Much of my disgust involves his push for the spaceport project and the way he foisted it off on the public. Tops on my list is the way he barred citizens from attending his sales job at a meeting for parents and kids at a public school.  Police were called to assist in shoving away people from the general pubic who wanted to get in to hear what the deal was (See “Rules” article below.)

Of course, there’s all the water he carried for Obama here in NM after stabbing Hillary Clinton in the back (the “Judas” incident as described by James Carville).  Ultimately, Richardson ticked off a lot of Democratic legislators in Santa Fe with his machinations. [See Let Me Tell You About Bill Richardson and “RICHARDSON’S RULES”… AND Bill Richardson’s Star is Falling with a BIG THUD (Not on VP Shortlist, State Legislators FED UP with Him)].

And then there’s the maneuvering he did on behalf of Harry Teague, newly elected to the House from CD-2. For all the ties between Richardson, Teague, and Republican Steve Pearce, see  “Harry T. and the Chamber of Secrets” co-starring Oil and Republicans–Screenplay by Bill Richardson [Subtitle: The Behind-the-Scenes Adventures of Bill R., Harry Teague and the NM CD-02 Democratic Primary].

And then there’s Richardson’s ties to an “ACORN”-like group (Part II: NM AG, “Gutsy Gary” King, Fighting for Transparency re: Non-Profits Like the League of Young Voters and ACORN).

Now, take a peek the Department of Commerce website.

Look at the list of areas on the left and click through and see what each encompasses. Richardson’s new fiefdom deals with everything from telecommunications to Iraq reconstruction to minority business, industry and security, and economic analysis, just to touch the surface.

Putting Richardson in charge of this department gives him a playground that might not have the high public profile of Clinton at State…but, in my opinion, there’s a heck of a lot of ways that Richardson may prove to be more powerful…and more quietly and under the radar…than Hillary Clinton will be in the long run.

***

Here’s one of my pieces on Richardson’s role in the Obama visit here on Memorial Day this past May, which also includes a discussion of a foreign policy faux pas by Richardson. (Search the site for several more part in the series I did on the visit.)

Obama to Visit Site of Bataan Memorial Death March on Memorial Day…To Repair Dumb Comment Damage? (Or…To Straighten Out Foreign Policy Mix-up with Bill Richardson?)

Richardson may not have gotten State, but he’s bounced back just fine by grabbing Commerce.

Flashback to January 2008–The “Not Invested” Weasel Obama on the 60′s (and More)

Yesterday over at No Quarter, a post referred to Barack Obama as “the front man for radicals.”  With the Ayers’ connection now part of the McCain ad roster, my memory brought me back to Obama’s interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal in Nevada around the time of the primary.

At the time, the Washington Post published a story on January 17 which focused on Obama’s comments about the legacy of Ronald Reagan (Obama’s Reagan Comparison Sparks Debate).

By some fluke, the video is still available.

Now Playing

Afternoon with Barack Obama

Video by James Ball

Presidential candidate Barack Obama took time between campaign stops Monday to drop by the Reno Gazette-Journal’s office. In an hour-long chat, he discussed issues like potential running mates, the war in Iraq, Nevada’s mortgage crisis and the back-and-forth with Hillary Clinton’s campaign over race remarks.

The section which has never left my mind and which is interesting now that Ayers is on the national radar starts at Minute 20:49 and ends at about Minute 22:00. Here’s a transcript of the relevant part of the video:

There’s maybe a generational element to this partly, in the sense that I didn’t come of age in the battles of the ’60′s; I’m not as invested in them. And, so I think I talk differently about issues, and I think I talk differently about values, and that’s why, I think, we’ve been resonating with the American people. What I’m saying is that, I think, the average baby boomer has moved beyond a lot of the arguments of the 60′s but our politicians haven’t. We’re still having the same arguments. You know, it’s all around culture wars, even when you discuss war, the frame of reference is all Vietnam. Well, that’s not my frame of reference…my frame of reference is “what works?”  Even when I first opposed the war in Iraq, my first line was that was I don’t oppose all wars. Specifcally to make clear that this is not just a anti-military, you, know, 70′s, love-in kind of approach…

Ironic, isn’t it? That Obama’s friend Ayers himself hasn’t moved “beyond the 60′s” and yet Obama criticizes politicians for still arguing as if they’re still in the 60′s?

But the media doesn’t catch ANY of this…

There are a couple of other parts of the interview that also relate to the current hot topics in the presidential race at the moment–racism and the mortgage problem.

Listen to the slimy S.O.B wiggle around the Martin Luther King/LBJ controversy he laid on Hillary Clinton, as he laughs about how he ‘never made a statement about it” and then launches into his desire for a “tone” that is focused on the American people.  You’ll also love the part where he opines about the “danger of being dragged into the muck” and his ideas about “correcting” the record (Minute 22:28 to 25:49)

As for the mortgage problems, listen to how he cites the lack of oversight by the agencies in charge, the Fed, the Comptroller of the Currency, and a “lack of political will” as the chief culprits in the then-brewing mess…but leaves out any mention of the lack of Congressional oversight by the Democrats in charge, of course…(Minute 2:40-3:20 and 20:50 forward).

Oh, and in case you’re interested…the subject of talking directly to Iran comes in at Minute 34:49.

There are so many more moments of policy assumptions, arrogant statements, facial expressions (gee, he purses his lips just like George Bush!) and other nails-scratching-a-blackboard moments that the entire 49 minute interview could make the viewer scream from frustration–to name a few, his talk about accountability, his belief that he’s a “fiscal conservative,” his management style, making government “cool,” etc.

By the way, the Las Vegas Gazette-Journal was charmed by his presence…they endorsed Obama in the Nevada primary.

***

NOTES

*No “preacher-street thug” voice in this interview, only serious, “elite” Obama here…

*Previous post on Ayers,I Found This Tidbit When I Wasn’t Watching the Debate….RE: Ayers/Obama Early Relationship

*Commenter “thetowncrier” posted some interesting links specifically on Tom Brokaw’s handling of Ayers here...

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