Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Maine, United States

Friday, January 13, 2006

Oil Truth

When your own leaders declare the truth to be the enemy, then it's time to start looking at what the enemy has to say.
I quote from this reference:
"Report outlines plans for corporate plunder of Iraqi oil"

The actual bonanza for the oil giants from the invasion of Iraq could run into the trillions. Out of the country’s 80 known fields, just 17 are currently in production. A further 63 undeveloped fields have an estimated 75 billion barrels of oil, while industry experts believe between 100 billion and 200 billion barrels lie in unexplored fields. The country also has enormous untapped reserves of natural gas.
The Platform report establishes that control over these resources was the primary motive for the war. The first chapter draws attention to the discussion in US and British ruling circles on the strategic importance of dominating the oil and gas of the Persian Gulf. It cites the May 2001 report of the Bush administration’s Energy Task Force, which was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. The findings declared: “The Gulf will be the primary focus of US international energy policy.”

Did you catch that? At $60 per barrel the estimated worth of Iraq's unexplored oil is between 6 and 12 trillion dollars and that doesn't take into consideration the oil fields already in production or the large natural gas reserves. Considering that the war is being financed by deficit spending, how much money have investors contributed so far? 200 billion? 300 billion? Now do you understand why Wolfowitz was correct when he said oil would finance the war reconstruction?
These PSA agreements are of interest. A PSA, Production Sharing Agreement, is a contract between private corporations and the state for access to oil reserves.

Summing up the essential characteristic of a PSA, a British academic cited by Platform wrote: “The government can be seen to be running the show—and the company can run it behind the camouflage of legal title symbolizing the assertion of national sovereignty.”
The decision by the US occupation to apply this PSA model to Iraq amounts to naked corporate plunder. While common in countries that do not possess large reserves of oil and gas, or where the cost of the development of fields is substantial—such as offshore oil wells—PSAs are virtually unheard of in large oil-producing states like Iraq. Such nations either exploit their energy resources directly or use their bargaining power to negotiate far more equitable contracts.

The first PSA in Iraq was signed June 25, 2004 by DNO, a Norwegian oil company. Drilling began in November 2005 and has already yielded results.
Considering all the money involved, at least it's comforting to know that the US has a good ally in charge of the situation.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Iraqi Oil

No wonder Bush is declaring such speech the enemy...
Reference: December 10, 2005 Speech by Hassan Jumaa at UK Stop The War Coalition International Peace Conference
"As you also know, we live in a world in which evil forces pursue domination and the usurpation of rights and property. In order for peace to reign over the entire world, we have to stand steadfast against those evil forces, unify our protest and practice solidarity, for it is the unity of peoples that intimidates the forces of evil. To this end, I convey to you the greetings of Iraq's workers, and in particular the oil workers who, by their struggle, have tormented the forces of evil represented by America and its allies. They have stood against occupation forces and confronted them, preventing them from getting to the oil installations, and have stood likewise against foreign companies. Oil workers were the first to stand against these companies by holding out against the monopolist firms that were brought in by America two months after the beginning of the occupation. These firms came under the protection of American tanks; however, our Union's first action was to expel KBR [Halliburton] from our oil sites, thus marking the victory of Iraqi workers against the forces of evil."
"...If stability and security prevailed, these forces would have to leave. However, America does not want to withdraw at this time, because it did not complete its operation; it has not yet accomplished the second phase of the occupation, the economic occupation of Iraq. That is why the U.S. administration is currently putting forward its economic plans which include privatization of the oil and manufacturing sectors, and the production sharing agreement [PSA] project."
"...
1. Occupation forces must leave the country immediately and unconditionally.
2. We will stand firmly and resolutely against all those who want to tamper with the security and power of the Iraqi people.
3. We condemn terrorist attacks against our people and stress the importance of respecting human rights.
4. We support the honorable resistance that targets and strikes at foreign military forces and seeks to drive the occupiers out.
5. We will not allow the intrusion of foreign companies [in the oil sector] and production sharing agreements, and we will stand with all our force against monopoly firms such as Halliburton, KBR, Shell, and others.
6. We ask the patriotic forces, the antiwar movement and peace-lovers to support our Union in its campaign against privatization and PSAs.
7. We demand the unconditional cancellation of Iraq's [foreign] debts, as these debts never benefited the Iraqi people but served the buried regime.
..."
Free speech be damned, right George?
"The American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it. They know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted and partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people. And they know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Unitary Executive

With the Alito hearings, there has been a considerable amount of discussion about the "unitary executive theory" which is something that I have only recently become aware of. I mentioned that topic on January 6 in my "No Law" post. Much of the discussion in the Alito hearings concerning presidential powers focuses on this concept.
From what I understand, the unitary executive theory implies that the President is the head of all executive government agencies. None exist outside of presidential authority. Congress cannot establish any agency either fully or partially independent of the President. That actually seems to make some sense to me constitutionally. I'm not sure how the Congressional Budget Office fits into this framework. Wikipedia says that "is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government.
I heard today that this theory was evoked one time by President Reagan, six times by Bush Sr., no times at all by President Clinton, and 110 times so far by Bush Jr. Clearly, Bush is using it to establish a new legal precedent, but the question is, what precedent are White House lawyers attempting to establish by using this theory?
It dawned on me this evening, and I was immediately rewarded with feedback from a discussion on Public Radio, that the unitary executive theory is used to define the scope of presidential power as total. That fits with Alito's 2000 comments about executive power. It also seems to fit with how the phrase is used in Bush's signing statements. By total, I mean the president is stating that the exception to law that he is establishing applies to all agencies of government under the authority of the office of the president. Nobody is excluded, not the military, not the State Department, not the CIA, not the NSA, not the FBI, and the list goes on.
So when the president says he takes exception to any particular clause of any particular bill that he is signing, he takes that exception for all agencies within his power, virtually all agencies of government. When he says the unitary executive branch takes exception to the McCain Amendment, that means no agency of government will be subject to it as long as Bush is president.
I think a better understanding of the effect of this process might be had if we were to look back at something called the "line item veto." Again from Wikipedia, "In government, the line-item veto is the power of an executive to veto parts of a bill, usually budget appropriations. This enables an executive to nullify specific provisions of a bill, rather than only being able to approve or veto a bill in its entirety." Read the rest of this short definition for some background on that concept. It's interesting that the Supreme Court struck down that power when it was given to President Clinton. I had forgotten about that, if I ever knew it. But look at the reason why it was struck down, "that unilateral amendment or repeal of only parts of statutes violated the U.S. Constitution."
Using terrorism as justification, President Bush is using signing statements, the unitary executive concept, and his powers as Commander in Chief to essentially line item veto congressional bills when they are sent to him for signing. That is the legal precedent he and his White House lawyers seem to be trying to establish. Let's hope that somebody brings this issue to the courts soon.

Global Iraq

Earlier this morning I posted a link to a January 10 speech President Bush gave to the VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. It's actually quite a speech to review. It contained some interesting points. The first that really stood out to me was the president's definition of "victory" in Iraq. In previous speeches that I have noted, Bush linked victory directly to the notion that Iraq would become a US ally in the war on terror. In this speech, he separated those two concepts by a paragraph break, suggesting that just maybe it would be possible to have victory in Iraq without Iraq becoming a US base for launching further strikes in that war. But then again, this was just a paragraph break. Here is how the president defined victory in Iraq:
"Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy. Victory will come when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens. Victory will come when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation."
Note that Bush again linked Iraq to terrorists plotting attacks on the US, the elusive 9/11 connection. Take note, Republicans, when you claim Bush doesn't do this. Bush plants in our minds the assumption that Iraq has been "a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation" and we are fighting to end that situation.
But the important thing is that Bush did not say victory will come when Iraq becomes an ally with the United States in the war on terror. He reserved that for the next paragraph:
"And when victory comes and democracy takes hold in Iraq..." other nations will join by example and "we will gain new allies in the cause of freedom."
It's still troubling that Bush is painting such a rosy picture of the Middle East. We can't seriously believe all this will come about peacefully. The real question remains will Iraq tolerate the US spreading the war to neighboring countries using Iraqi military installations as our base. We already know the neo-con agenda, so the question is will Iraq allow it.
The second significant point that the president brings up is even more subtle. Bush claims that the war isn't about oil and isn't about Israel, that even suggesting such irresponsibly risks the lives of US troops, is partisan, disloyal, and defeatist. So, one might ask, what constitutes a loyal appraisal of the reason for the war? In my mind, Bush gives a few hints in this speech.
Of course there's the argument for democracy. Judging by what's been going on in recent years on K Street in Washington, one might question the definition of the word "democracy" in a Republican's mind. Here's lobbyist Jack Abramof not only encouraging corporations to bribe congressmen, but actually being a Republican operative in a game that extorts corporate donations to further the Republican agenda, the new Republican pay to play game.
But democracy isn't the only, or even the real, reason for the Iraq War.
In this speech, Bush mentioned private property rights. I'm guessing he wasn't speaking about whether the Iraqi people had the right to own their own home. I'm guessing his reference was more along the lines of the neo-liberal idea that resources and social services should be owned by private corporations rather than by the state. Energy supplies, water supplies, public transportation, communications, and any other public services should be privately (corporately) owned and operated for profit.
Bush notes that Iraq has already taken the first step in that direction with gasoline prices, emphasizing that Iraq's leaders are removing gasoline subsidies. Just how gasoline subsidies encourage the black market is a mystery to me. It seems that the opposite would be the case. Black markets thrive when governments either restrict supply or artificially elevate prices, not the other way around. Is Bush saying that government subsidies somehow reduce the supply of gasoline to the people? Government inefficiency is an old argument that favors free market supply and demand economics, a concept generally associated with "private" corporate ownership and control of supply. Considering that under Saddam, the Iraqi government owned the oil resources and that now under Bush there is a strong movement to privatize those resources, it might be a good guess that such privatization is what Bush is talking about.
Bush went on to emphasize debt relief. His mention of Malta opens a Pandora's box that I won't go into here. But Iraq has become an interest of both the IMF and the World Bank, both classic tools of the neo-liberal movement. Loans from the IMF and the World Bank generally are provided conditionally, on condition that the recipient nations undergo certain politically-driven economic transformations, most notably the privatization of the public sector. Again, privatization.
For anyone who has been paying any attention at all recently to economics, the keyword in world economics is now globalization. Bush does not mention this term in this speech. He mentions global war, but not global economics. Yet the objectives of globalization are exactly the transformations now going on in Iraq. The Iraq war is liberating Iraqi oil resources for global corporate investment under the supervision of the Bush administration. In addition, Iraq is undergoing an economic transformation to become a model in the Middle East for a privatized economy, an economy controlled by corporate interests, corporate profits, rather than by public socialist interests.
What has made that transformation possible in Iraq? The war.
What was used as justification for the war? 9/11
Now I ask you, wasn't it amazing that Osama bin-Laden has empowered the neo-liberals in this way? No wonder Rumsfeld called 9/11 a "blessing in disguise."

Loyalty

Speaking to the VFW on January 10, President Bush, after expounding extensively about the meaning of democracy, made this remark:
"The American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it. They know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted and partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people. And they know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right."
Clearly he was speaking about me.
Now to remove the cookies and Javascripts that I got from going there...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Choir Boy

That's how Sam Alito was informally portrayed by Public Radio shortly after he finished his brief introductory statement today. Public Radio is covering the Senate committee hearings for Alito's Supreme Court approval. I was impressed that the concept of "unitary executive" was brought into the discussion even at this early stage.
I haven't really made up my mind about Alito. He seems boyish and naive, but that's becoming a mainstay for service to the Republican cause. He seems like a child of the 60s who "just said no" whenever asked if he would care to expand his mind. He preferred excelling in school rather than experiencing what it meant to be "a child of the 60s" - a Stepford boy born ten years after his time. But that's just the impression I get when I see him and the impression I got listening to him today.
I can associate with that. If I weren't dyslexic, I'd probably have taken the road more taken myself. But I don't know. I think I had a little more rebel in me than I see in Sam. But who knows...
Today's hearing was mainly consumed by political posturing by the committee members characterized by repeating political talking points. The Democrats expressed their desire that Alito should speak freely about who he is and what he believes while the Republicans assured Alito that they fully support him keeping his mouth shut as much as possible.
Contrast that to yesterday's Face the Nation on CBS when Arlen Specter (the chairman of this Senate committee) when asked about the possibility of a filibuster stated, "We really ought to go to these hearings... ..and give Sam--Judge Alito a chance to testify before making all these threats." I mean, do Republicans want Alito to testify or don't they? And is it honest to say you don't want to see Alito talk but Democrats don't have the right to filibuster if he doesn't talk? And really, what's wrong with this man discussing his professional opinion about abortion or the unitary executive theory that he promoted? Why would Republicans not want the public to know Alito's positions on these issues? What's wrong with understanding who this man really is and what he believes?
What's up?

White News

Political propaganda on the White House website? What to make of that.....
This little tidbit might set the record straight for the faithful, but it does nothing to resolve the issue at hand. I wonder who gets to write propaganda like this for the official White House website.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Free-Fall

It's absolutely amazing to me what things you can come across on the Internet when you allow your mind to free-fall. Today was one of those days for me. What the heck, it's the middle of winter in Maine. I could be watching TV or ice fishing but what good would that do me?
So let me give you some examples of the things I have come across today:
A quote from Ariel Sharon shortly after 9/11
An interesting tidbit about Larry Silverstein who leased the Trade Center three months before 9/11 and had a windfall of insurance ($billions) from the disaster
A picture from that morning that I hadn't seen before. At first I thought this looked like an aerial photo, but who would have been flying then. Perhaps it's from another of New York's skyscrapers. Conspiracy theorists suggest that the towers were wired with explosives, which is about the only thing that would explain why building 7 also collapsed.
Some background information on Scooter Libby
Some background information on Public Broadcasting's new head. Note the Israeli connections.
A whirlwind of 9/11 theory
A similar whirlwind of Middle Eastern news
At this point my computer's connection to the net is frozen up so I'll need to remove the spyware I've picked up today before I can move on...
59 spyware items and one reboot later...
Friends of Israel in the 2004 US elections - Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter has an impressive career total here. I saw him on Face the Nation (CBS) this morning. He surprised me with a few of his denials. Look at the support Tom Daschle has received over the years! Thune won that race with only $1,000 from these Israelis. Hmmmmm... But DeLay got a chunk of change from them in '04. Kinda looks like we're connected at both ends of the pipe, doesn't it? Total congressional race contributions from 78 to 04, almost $40 million.
For those who like to compare Iraq with the occupation of Germany after World War II
The new Inquisition - When will we learn that freedom of speech and open debate is essential to the dissemination of truth? You don't throw people in prison for denying history. Or do you?
A controversial American Jew, son of Holocaust survivors, with something to say about America's faith in the Holocaust and Israel. A speech he gave in Vancouver in May 2004 that is worth listening to.