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Saturday, July 12, 2008



Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?
A: Because they had weapons of mass destruction.

Q: But the inspectors didn't find any weapons of mass destruction.
A: That's because the Iraqis were hiding them.

Q: And that's why we invaded Iraq?
A: Yep. Invasions always work better than inspections.

Q: But after we invaded them, we STILL didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, did we?
A: That's because the weapons are so well hidden. Don't worry, we'll find something, probably right before the 2004 election.

Q: Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?
A: To use them in a war, silly.

Q: I'm confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn't they use any of those weapons when we went to war with them?
A: Well, obviously they didn't want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.

Q: That doesn't make sense. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons with which they could have fought back?
A: It's a different culture. It's not supposed to make sense.

Q: I don't know about you, but I don't think they had any of those weapons our government said they did.
A: Well, you know, it doesn't matter whether or not they had those weapons. We had another good reason to invade them anyway.

Q: And what was that?
A: Even if Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.

Q: Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?
A: Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.

Q: Kind of like what they do in China?
A: Don’t go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor, where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S. corporations richer.

Q: So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it’s a good country, even if that country tortures people?
A: Right.

Q: Why were people in Iraq being tortured?
A: For political crimes, mostly, like criticizing the government. People who criticized the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Isn’t that exactly what happens in China?
A: I told you, China is different.

Q: What’s the difference between China and Iraq?
A: Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba’ath party, while China is Communist.

Q: Didn’t you once tell me Communists were bad?
A: No, just Cuban Communists are bad.

Q: How are the Cuban Communists bad?
A: Well, for one thing, people who criticize the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Like in Iraq?
A: Exactly.

Q: And like in China, too?
A: I told you, China’s a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.

Q: How come Cuba isn’t a good economic competitor?
A: Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, our government passed some laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being Communists and started being capitalists like us.

Q: But if we got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn’t that help the Cubans become capitalists?
A: Don’t be a smart-ass.

Q: I didn’t think I was being one.
A: Well, anyway, they also don’t have freedom of religion in Cuba.

Q: Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?
A: I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he’s not really a legitimate leader anyway.

Q: What’s a military coup?
A: That’s when a military general takes over the government of a country by force, instead of holding free elections like we do in the United States.

Q: Didn’t the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?
A: You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.

Q: Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?
A: I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.

Q: Didn’t you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a nation is an illegitimate leader?
A: Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped us invade Afghanistan.

Q: Why did we invade Afghanistan?
A: Because of what they did to us on September 11th.

Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?
A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men – fifteen of them Saudi Arabians – hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings in New York and Washington, killing 3,000 innocent people.

Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?
A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

Q: Aren’t the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people’s heads and hands?
A: Yes, that’s exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people’s heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.

Q: Didn’t the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back in May of 2001?
A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.

Q: Fighting drugs?
A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium poppies.

Q: How did they do such a good job?
A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would have their hands and heads cut off.

Q: So, when the Taliban cut off people’s heads and hands for growing flowers, that was OK, but not if they cut people’s heads and hands off for other reasons?
A: Yes. It’s OK with us if radical Islamic fundamentalists cut off people’s hands for growing flowers, but it’s cruel if they cut off people’s hands for stealing bread.

Q: Don’t they also cut off people’s hands and heads in Saudi Arabia?
A: That’s different. Afghanistan was ruled by a tyrannical patriarchy that oppressed women and forced them to wear burqas whenever they were in public, with death by stoning as the penalty for women who did not comply.

Q: Don’t Saudi women have to wear burqas in public, too?
A: No, Saudi women merely wear a traditional Islamic body covering.

Q: What’s the difference?
A: The traditional Islamic covering worn by Saudi women is a modest yet fashionable garment that covers all of a woman’s body except for her eyes and fingers. The burqa, on the other hand, is an evil tool of patriarchal oppression that covers all of a woman’s body except for her eyes and fingers.

Q: It sounds like the same thing with a different name.
A: Now, don’t go comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are our friends.

Q: But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia.
A: Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.

Q: Who trained them?
A: A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.

Q: Was he from Afghanistan?
A: Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too. But he was a bad man, a very bad man.

Q: I seem to recall he was our friend once.
A: Only when we helped him and the mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

Q: Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?
A: There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like us. We call them Russians now.

Q: So the Soviets – I mean, the Russians – are now our friends?
A: Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq, so we’re mad at them now. We’re also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn’t help us invade Iraq either.

Q: So the French and Germans are evil,too?

A: Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that we had to rename French fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.

Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn’t do what we want them to do?
A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.

Q: But wasn’t Iraq one of our friends back in the 1980s?
A: Well, yeah. For a while.

Q: Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?
A: Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran, which made him our friend, temporarily.

Q: Why did that make him our friend?
A: Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.

Q: Isn’t that when he gassed the Kurds?
A: Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, we looked the other way, to show him we were his friend.

Q: So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?
A: Most of the time, yes.

Q: And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?
A: Sometimes that’s true, too. However, if American corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.

Q: Why?
A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America. Also, since God is on America’s side, anyone who opposes war is a godless unAmerican Communist. Do you understand now why we attacked Iraq?

Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?
A: Yes.

Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?
A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to George W. Bush and tells him what to do.

Q: So basically, what you’re saying is that we attacked Iraq because George W. Bush hears voices in his head?
A. Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.

Q: Good night, Daddy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mercedes to cut petroleum out of lineup by 2015 : Yahoo! Green

In less than 7 years, Mercedes-Benz plans to ditch petroleum-powered vehicles from its lineup. Focusing on electric, fuel cell, and biofuels, the company is revving up research in alternative fuel sources and efficiency.

The German car company has a few new power-trains in the line-up that European journalists have had the opportunity to test out in the Mercedes facility in Spain. One vehicle includes the F700, powered by a DiesOtto engine that combines HCCI and spark ignition to get nearly the same efficiency as diesel, but minus the expensive after-treatment systems.

The engine can run on biofuels, and we may have a purchasable vehicle by 2010 -- a year that seems to be popular for the debut of a lot of new alternative fuel car models, making ’08 and ’09 simply thumb-twiddling years for consumers. I don’t know, maybe car makers just like the roundness of “2010.” The company’s next big step will be to launch a Smart electric car which is fuel and emission-free.

Anyway, Mercedes is looking into electric vehicles, both battery-powered and fuel-cell powered. Not only are models in development, but we’ve also seen the company making steps towards its zero-petroleum goal right now, from better cabs in London to li-ion battery improvements. The company also has about 100 Smart electric cars undergoing testing in London, with that favorite 2010 year as the projected market release date.

Mercedes is making serious investments, already putting nearly $4 million into the pot of its long-term Sustainable Mobility plan, with another nearly $1.4 billion going in before 2014.

While car models may be able to run on fuels other than gasoline or diesel, we have yet to find a method of both running and producing vehicles entirely free of fossil fuels. I’m waiting for a mainstream car line that creates renewable fuel, clean-running vehicles out of 100% recycled materials in plants run on 100% renewable, clean power … Will I even be alive when that finally happens? I have hope.

Mercedes to cut petroleum out of lineup by 2015 : Yahoo! Green

Think Progress » Rove skips out on Judiciary Committee hearing.

Today, Karl Rove was set to appear under subpoena before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the politicization of the Justice Department. Yesterday, Rove’s lawyer wrote a letter declaring Rove would not testify, citing executive privilege:

Mr Rove will respectfully decline to appear on July 10 on the grounds that as a close advisor to the President, whose testimony is sought in connection with his official duties in that capacity, he is immune from compelled Congressional testimony.

After Rove proved to be a no-show today, the panel voted 7-1 to rule that Rove’s claims of immunity under executive privilege are invalid.

Think Progress » Rove skips out on Judiciary Committee hearing.

Stealing Iraqi Oil

An oil contract Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer helped negotiate in Iraqi Kurdistan is one of several production deals the U.S. State Department has flagged as problematic for Iraq and its attempts to establish a national oil policy. The oil contract, finalized in November 2007, allows a subsidiary of Schaffer's former employer, Denver-based Aspect Energy, to produce oil on a nearly 104-square-mile plot in the Dohuk Governate in northern Iraq. Schaffer confirmed Wednesday he was one of several Aspect Energy executives who visited Kurdistan in November 2006 and laid the groundwork for the company's oil deal with the Kurds. The Kurdistan Regional Government, which governs the semi-autonomous region of Iraq, has moved during the past several years to aggressively develop crude oil resources in northern Iraq. The regional government's efforts to attract foreign energy firms comes as efforts to implement a national oil policy, including a framework to distribute the profits, have stalled. According to a June 23 report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, Aspect Energy's oil contract and roughly two dozen other similar deals have proven a point of contention between Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. "The (Kurdistan Regional Government) has negotiated an estimated 25 contracts with foreign oil firms, which the Iraqi federal government claims are illegal," according to the report. Schaffer said he was unaware the State Department had warned energy firms not to strike oil deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government at the time of his visit.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

McClatchy Washington Bureau | Congress takes aim at oil trading in search for lower prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When Congress returns to Washington today after a weeklong breather, the collective grumbling of millions of American motorists will compel lawmakers to prove they're doing something — anything — to fight rising gasoline prices.

So this week, Congress will take on an obscure commodities market. Some oil experts say congressional action could have an immediate impact.

Analysts are increasingly blaming the high prices on excessive oil speculation. They contend that banks and other investors are driving up prices, pushing the cost of a barrel of oil to $60 or $70 beyond its actual value.

Several bills in Congress call for new regulations, more investigators and transparency to let inspectors know who's trading what behind closed doors. The Agriculture Committee will hold hearings to sift through the ideas.

For months now, Congress has been arguing about whether to trim Big Oil's profits, give tax breaks for alternative energy or start drilling along the nation's coastlines.

Meanwhile, oil prices continued to soar, hitting a record of $145 a barrel Thursday at the start of the holiday weekend, as motorists were shelling out more than $4 for a gallon of gas.

"It is no wonder that we hear cries of alarm," said Edward Krapels, a special adviser with Energy Security Analysis of Wakefield, Mass.

U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, a North Carolina Democrat, hopes Congress will finally take action.

"One good thing that all this is doing, with all the pain we're getting, it's forcing a lot of folks to be doing some real thinking up here," said Etheridge, who is chairman of a key agriculture subcommittee that oversees oil trading.

Some experts told Congress recently that half the recent jump in oil prices may be caused by excessive speculation.

Speculators are the banks and other investors who buy oil futures on the commodities market -- not to use fuel the way airlines and trucking companies do, but to make profits when their predictions about prices come true.

The market has exploded in popularity. Its trading volume this year is estimated to be nearly six times as much as in 2000.

Much of the trading is regulated overseas, with almost no transparency for United States regulators. So no one here knows who's trading or whether market manipulation and excessive speculation are actually occurring.

There is a flurry of bills in both the House and the Senate -- including one from Etheridge -- that aim to tackle the oil futures market. Among the changes the bills would require:

-- Forcing the government watchdog agency, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, to hire 100 new regulators. The agency is at the lowest staff level in its 33-year history.

-- Getting rid of the "Enron loophole" that allowed the now-infamous company to manipulate the California energy market.

-- Requiring the trades on the foreign Intercontinental Exchange to be regulated by U.S. investigators. Those trades now make up 30 percent of the market and are overseen by British regulators in what's known as the "London loophole."

-- Increasing reporting requirements to boost transparency about who's trading.

-- Limiting hedge trading and speculating on futures.

-- Raising the "margin requirements," or the down payment, for speculators making bets on the futures market.


McClatchy Washington Bureau | 07/07/2008 | Congress takes aim at oil trading in search for lower prices

Sunday, July 6, 2008

SunHerald.com - Sun Herald News #15434.1

The Future is Now!

People are worried about the future and what it will bring. Worrying is useless, and will no more solve a problem than will hiding from it. So, stop worrying and start doing!

Some say to live like there is no tomorrow. I say, live like there is a tomorrow, and that you are accountable for every one of YOUR actions. This is what a responsible steward does, and is something that each of us needs to learn. We are stewards over this land and the creatures that inhabit it. We are also stewards over our own lives, and have a responsibility to direct our actions on a course that promotes life and harmony. From the moment we reach the age of being able to understand that what we do and say is important and affects everyone around us, we become responsible for our actions and words. But have we accepted that responsibility? No!

The human race has treated the earth and everything around it as disposable, as if we are not responsible for our actions. We pillage and rape everything around us then lay the blame on anyone but ourselves. We do not have that right! We do not own the earth, we are merely stewards. The only thing we own are the words that come out of our mouths, and we treat them like we do everything else. We do not take responsibility for our words. We bury the truth with lies if the truth is inconvenient, then build upon those lies as if they are the truth. This is a foundation of shifting sand, and it cannot stand. Firm foundations are built on truth, and it is our responsibility to build the foundation of our lives on the truth, no matter how painful or inconvenient that truth is.

Our government leaders no longer stand for the people they are supposed to serve. Instead of standing on a foundation of truth, they pander lies for personal gain to a populace worn down by incessant brainwashing in the form of corporate-owned television, radio, newspaper, magazines, and government schools designed to disseminate government-approved propaganda and make sure that Johnny cannot read the many legislative sleights of hand passed by Congress and shoved down the throats of people too busy to do anything about it. These leaders know exactly what they are doing. It is we the people that need to wake up and smell the coffee.

People are starting to take a good look around to see that they are surrounded by a sea of lies brought to them one commercial at a time by one major corporation at a time, and they are getting angry.

We the people are as David threatened by giant corporate Goliaths who prey on the weak and vulnerable for profit. Professional liars who invade our homes through technology bombard us with lies intended to manipulate us into doing what they want us to do.

What’s Next?

Revolution is inevitable. It is also very personal. As soon as you make a decision to do what is right instead of what is convenient, you become revolutionary. As soon as you stand up and proclaim the truth, you become revolutionary. For some there is no other choice. For others, well, comfort is paramount. Comfortable people are complacent. Comfortable people will do almost anything to maintain their level of comfort. Take away the comfort, and you plant the seeds of revolution. The question is, just how much comfort needs to be taken away for the seeds of revolution to take root and flourish. The economy is spiraling downhill, and very soon, creature comforts will be a thing of the past unless one is wealthy enough to be classified among the elite. Will people be content to live as serfs and take what they can get from their “betters,” or will they rise up and take charge of their lives?

Once aware of the lies, do we just cave in and go along with the program because we are surrounded and seemingly overcome? Some will, but others will not. In fact, some will get mad as hell. Some will get so mad that they reject the world system altogether and form groups dedicated to survival in a world without modern conveniences. This is already beginning to happen. People who can no longer afford fuel to get back and forth to work or feed their families are turning to bicycles and gardening. It is only a matter of time before a two-tiered class system is in full swing with the rich living like there is no tomorrow and the poor just trying to stay warm and fill their bellies. To survive this type of system requires learning how to do things all over again, without modern conveniences. We need to learn how to become self-sufficient. We need to learn survival in order to live one more day fighting the giants. And fight we will, if we care about the truth.

There will be those who go along with the program, and think they are safe. They are not. They will suffer the most, being caught in the middle and in the long run, good for neither side; a traitor to their friends and puppets of the elite. These people will be the greatest threat. They will turn their “friends” over to the authorities for minor infractions of police state laws without blinking an eye while living in denial, thinking they are “one of the elite” because they have done so. They have no loyalty, no strength of character, morality or ethics. They will sell their very souls to the highest bidder for a crust of bread.

But there will also be those who stand up and say, enough! The buck stops here. These people will make a difference. These people will stand up to the corporate Goliaths, if not for any noble cause other than to do what is right and to stand accountable. They will stand up and be counted for the things we don’t like to think about these days such as morality, ethics, and honesty. These people will proclaim the truth from one end of the earth to the other. And they will not be in the majority. The truth is never popular.

Who Will Win?

Once you make the decision to become responsible for your actions and do what is right, you have already won. Like I said before, revolution is very personal. We choose life or death, it is up to us. Lies bring death, and truth brings life. The body might cease to exist, but the spirit will live on if we choose the truth and stand on its foundation. Lies are manifestations of a false reality, and therefore, do not exist in the real world. They turn to dust when the truth is revealed. The truth lasts forever and once we choose the truth and act on it, we have set in motion the revolution.

By seeking to destroy what is natural and what is good, the elite will end up destroying themselves in the end. They will not be able to hide behind their riches in the aftermath of the genetically modified scourge they have unleashed on the world and its poorer population. They will not be able to hide in their mansions and be safe from the consequences of their actions. Their lies will crumble and the truth will be too hard for them to bear. They will not survive it. Those who seek the truth will prevail, and they will be a remnant of what was once thought to be a great, unconquerable society. Survival will not be convenient, and will probably be quite painful, but rest assured, the path of survival is to embrace the truth, which is the only surety in this world. Stand on it and you are standing on firm ground.

So who wins and who loses? Think about this: If you strike a match in the darkness, the light overcomes and illuminates the darkness. The darkness can only prevail if there is no light. May he who has ears to hear, strike a match and illuminate the darkness. The revolution is at hand.

© 2008, Barbara H. Peterson

SunHerald.com - Sun Herald News #15434.1

Happy Oil Dependence Day

Happy Imperialism Day!!!

As we head into the Fourth of July weekend of patriotic bluster and beer swilling—but before we are too besotted with ourselves—might we also for once consider our imperfections? Why not take a moment to heed the cautions of our founding father, George Washington, whose true legacy will most likely be ignored during the flag-waving weekend?

Washington’s “Farewell Address” to the new nation was a warning about the threat of American imperial ambitions and a declaration of his high expectations for a republic of free men: “In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. ...”

We are drowning in the “impostures of pretended patriotism,” used to cover the lies that got us into Iraq, the defense of torture and the violation of our basic liberties. In the name of patriotism, we presume a God-given American right to reorder the world to our liking, masking the vice of unfettered greed as an obligation of national security.

Any doubts as to this later governing impulse of our imperial ambitions were shattered with the recent news that U.S. advisers to our puppet government in the Green Zone of occupied Iraq have worked out agreements for American oil companies to gain control of Iraqi oil fields. But, then again, what did we expect when we elected a Texas oil hustler, and a failed one at that, to be our president?

Only in an America dumbed down by constant propaganda about our innate moral superiority will anyone any longer believe that we didn’t invade Iraq for the oil, even though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came to the Bush administration from the board of directors at Chevron, where they named an oil tanker after her. Like Vice President Dick Cheney with those Halliburton contracts, Rice has stayed true to her corporate sponsors. That’s what the U.S. invasion of Iraq accomplished; for the first time in more than three decades after Iraq joined a worldwide trend of formerly colonized nations gaining control of their own resources, Big Oil is getting its black gold back. It was always about the oil—that’s why “we” invaded Iraq—only “we” aren’t getting any, at least not at a reasonable price. The oil companies are.

I know it’s difficult for the corporate media and politicians, both fueled generously by energy money, to grasp the distinction, but we the people and they the oil companies are not one and the same. While we suffer at the pump, they make record profits, which is the way they like it. Don’t think for a second that U.S. oil companies are rushing into Iraq to expand production to help lower world oil prices, thus making their investments less profitable. They just want to be on the winning side, which is why the CEO of Halliburton relocated his office from Texas to the United Arab Emirates, where I am certain he and his fellow corporate expatriates are able to happily celebrate the Fourth of July.

So, take that American flag off your lapel and replace it with a button bearing the Exxon or Chevron logo. C’mon, Dick Cheney and Condi Rice, be straight about what it is you are really pushing here. ’Fess up—it’s not the good old USA as represented by the sucker taxpayers conned by your patriotic blather. No sirree, what you would have Americans paying homage to is the majesty of the big multinational corporations that exploit American military power to rule the world.

But recognize that you have shamed the legacy of our first president. George Washington, who distinguished the promise of the new world from the corruptions of the old by shunning imperial conquest, said: “Our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing.”

If Barack Obama or John McCain was to offer such words of wisdom this Fourth of July, he would be vilified as “weak,” and that is a fit measure of just how far we have descended from the high hopes of our first president.

Truthdig - Reports - Happy Oil Dependence Day

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency