Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Signposts to Sanity

An occasional feature where your lovin' Granny points you at somebody else's really good stuff and where the twisty path behind this signposts signals that it is about politics.

Over at Anything They Say,
Iraq Oil, The Long Game THBCH talks about the Iraq Oil Law.
The Long Game

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
-- Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler,
War is a Racket

If it has not already done so [Ed. to date, it has not], the Iraqi parliament is expected to pass a new National Oil Law. This is probably not something many Americans have heard much about and generally most US media outlets have portrayed the law as a good and necessary thing. The law appears designed to reinvigorate the dilapidated oil industry in a country with vast oil wealth but which has been punished by wars and sanctions for decades. I say "appears" because, while the law is designed to spur Iraq's oil production, there are also other purposes for which it is designed: enrich western oil companies to new and lofty heights and, more importantly, to secure Middle Eastern oil deposits for American interests and against those of competing world powers. Twenty years of "realist" foreign policy, which has overseen the deaths of millions, along with the current mayhem, has finally culminated in Western interests citing those very policies as the rationale for taking control of Iraqi oil fields for the first time since 1972. This is what is known as "the long game."
To understand the magnitude of potential profits, it is important to know that only 17 of 80 potential oil fields in Iraq have ever been touched and it is estimated that pumping light sweet crude out of Iraq's oil fields could cost as little as one dollar per barrel. Up to 3 million barrels per day are the expected output and, at $50/bbl, this amounts to a profit potential of $100 million per day for participating oil companies.
If the shifting sands of justification demonstrated one thing it was that none of the reasons proffered bore any resemblance to the actual reasons for the invasion of Iraq. While many people raised the issue of oil both before and after the invasion, administration officials insisted and continue to insist that the industrialized world's most important resource was of no interest to this White House, a White House piled high with former oil industry executives. Though Colin Powell explicitly said that, "we did not do it for oil," the new Oil Law casts a very long, very dark shadow across those words.

Despite the common refrain that errors in "intelligence" resulted in the invasion of Iraq, the invasion was not a mistake. Mistake implies some level of accident or inadvertence, something that might have been avoided if only other things were known. But it obvious now that the invasion of Iraq was an orchestrated, deliberate action and merely the last of many policy prescriptions that have been exacted upon that country for the last twenty five years.
On Barbara's Blog, Barbara Ehrenreich looks into obtaining insurance for her three year old niece (who is not poor and who has insurance) to compare the health care/insurance being provided to America's poor children to the insured health care being provided to America's rich pets. In Children Deserve Veternary Care, Too
This year, Americans will spend about $9.8 billion on health care for their pets, up from $7.2 billion five years ago. According to the New York Times, New York’s leading pet hospitals offer CT scans, MRI’s, dialysis units, and even a rehab clinic featuring an underwater treadmill, perhaps for the amphibians in one’s household. A professor who consults to pet health facilities on communication issues justified these huge investments in pet health to me by pointing out that pets are, after all, “part of the family.”

Well, there’s another category that might reasonably be considered “part of the family.” True, they are not the ideal companions for the busy young professional: It can take two to three years to housebreak them; their standards of personal hygiene are lamentably low, at least compared to cats; and large numbers of them cannot learn to “sit” without the aid of Ritalin.

I’m talking about children, of course, and while I can understand why many people would not one of these hairless and often incontinent bipeds in their homes, it is important to point out that they can provide considerable gratification.
So I went to the website of VPI Pet Insurance, one of the nation’s largest animal companion health insurers, to see what kind of a policy I could get for her.
When I completed the form and clicked to get a quote I was amazed to see that I get her a “premium” policy for a mere $33 a month.
It may seem callous to focus on children when so many pets go uninsured and without access to CT-scans or underwater treadmills. But in many ways, children stack up well compared to common pets. They can shed real tears, like Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. They can talk as well as many of the larger birds, or at least mimic human speech. And if you invest enough time in their care and feeding, they will jump all over you when you arrive at the door, yipping and covering your face with drool.

The Senate Finance Committee has approved a bill that would expand state health insurance cover for children (S-CHIP) to include 3.2 million kids who are not now covered (but leaving about 6 million still uncovered.) Bush has promised to veto this bill, on the grounds that government should not be involved in health coverage. If he does veto the bill, the fallback demand should be: Open up pet health insurance to all American children now! Though even as I say this, I worry that the president will counter by proposing to extend euthanasia services to children who happen to fall ill.
With the latest information coming out about Pat Tillman, at Brilliant At Breakfast, Jill has posted Was Pat Tillman the victim of a deliberate hit?.
We know that Tillman believed the war in Iraq was "f***ing illegal" and we also know that he was a devot´ of the writings of Noam Chomsky. It only took three years for the rest of America to catch up with what Tillman knew when he was killed in 2004.

But as horrific as the details of Tillman's death have been up to now, it appears that his death bears all the earmarks of a deliberate murder -- dare I say it? A hit on a soldier deemed insufficiently loyal to "the Family":

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The doctors - whose names were blacked out - said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.
Among other information contained in the documents:

_ In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."

_ Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

_ The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.

_ No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene - no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.
With questions lingering about how high in the Bush administration the deception reached, Congress is preparing for yet another hearing next week.

Now why should the truth about what happened to Pat Tillman fall under "executive privilege"? Unless said privileged executive decided that a high-profile soldier opposed to his Iraq policy was just too risky to keep around?
I was sent by Short Woman to Hot Air and A Pilot On Airline Security an e-mail from Dave Mackett, President, Airline Pilots Security Alliance, www.secure-skies.org is printed in total. This is a very sobering post, where Mackett says, among other things,
What is TSA’s fault is their abject failure to embrace more robust approaches than high visibility inspections, and their accommodations to the Air Transport Association’s revenue interests at the expense of true security, while largely ignoring the recommendations of the front-line airline crews and air marshals who have no direct revenue agenda and are much more familiar with airline operations than are the bureaucrats (remember government ignoring the front-line FBI agents who tried to warn them about 9/11?). Deplorable amounts of money have been wasted on incomprehensible security strategies, while KISS [Keep It Simple, Stupid] methods proven to work have been ignored.
It has taken six years, but TSA is now finally flirting with behavioral assessment training for screeners and random (but not mandatory) ground employee inspections. The airlines complain screening all ground employees would significantly hinder airline operations. They’re right — it would.

1 comment:

joared said...

Wow! You've written about so many really hard-edged topics I don't even know where to start. Any one topic could keep me writing longer than a week. They even send my blood pressure through the roof. Thanks for all the info and links.