Gas Pump Nightmares

The oil producing province of Alberta is struggling to maintain its workforce as the price of oil plummets. Those who are in natural gas production, pipelines and alternates have not been hit as yet. The Albertans go on to blame the Saudis for deliberately keeping production levels high, glutting the market and putting the boots to the competitors especially the Ruskies. However, the Ruskie ace in the hole is their natural gas market on which Europe depends.

As a client state of the US, I wonder if there isn’t background shenanigans going on in Saudi land to keep the Ruskies on the verge of failed statehood. One empire at a time is enough.

The Saudi family is so obscenely well off that the present fall in the barrel price of oil does no harm. Later, as they close the spigots which are now wide open, the six month fall in price will be quickly reversed.

Other oil producers such as Iran and Venezuela, no friends of the US, also suffer from those crude tactics. The upside of those tactics, is that consumers gladly go to the pumps and have shekels left over for other things such as groceries.

The downside, apart from unemployment in oil producing countries and the economic fallout across the spectrum, is that investment in alternatives seems less urgent. So the ecology of the planet suffers, climate change advances, and climate control planners have to reset their priorities.

I have no proof that US policies in client states is at the root of all this, just as no proof was available for bankrupting the USSR in Afghanistan or EITs. Yet we must learn from history and see that if it walks, talks and acts like duck it’s not a lilywhite swan.

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Welcome Back, Cuba. You were never far from our thoughts…or shores…

Todays news, that US – Cuba relations are set to ease, is such a welcome notion that some faith in the goodness of humanity could be restored. Recognition that sanctions do not work, unless all players are in the game and abide by the rules, has finally dawned on an American president.

The people of Cuba have valiantly struggled against the wishes of the US and its trade impositions for over five decades. Yet their leadership, which brought about the reasons for sanctions, has not suffered. Against the wishes of the master race, the blanket of sanctions has been torn to shreds by many nations (except America’s client states such as Israel and Honduras.)

As in other zones of influence, the US had invaded, controlled and governed Cuba against the wishes of the people of Cuba. A sort of divine right of kings minus the royal blood. It mattered nothing that the Cubans were then subjected to years of violence under dictatorships supported by the US. Just as the former colonial Europeans had ground the population into subsistence farming and dire poverty, the US turned a blind eye to a suffering people.

By forbidding relations with Cuba among nations over which the US has sway, the US caused Cuba to seek solace elsewhere. So it built up relations with Eastern Europeans countries, including Russia and Central and South American states. In typical hypocritical fashion, those helping states were labelled rogue states, terrorists and outlaws. The Godawful spectre of Socialism and even worse, Communism was trundled out with much hair pulling and wringing of hands. Yet Socialism has given Cuba an enviable education system and a superior health system that puts others to shame.

The Cuban people are friendly, peace loving and welcoming to strangers. They have threatened no one. They have invaded no one. The US can not honestly make similar claims. The Cubans do not have a national dose of paranoia or cater to the latest bogie man. They seem sensible and mature.

The sunny climate seems to pass reflections to their national character. Cuba has many more assets than cigars and rum. Whenever there is an emergency situation anywhere on the planet, the Cubans are among the first to offer aid, medicine, and manpower to alleviate the situation. Even in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the Cubans jumped in with offers of aid, in New Orleans. Moreso than American EMO folk. The offers were turned down by the US. The Cubans are on the front lines fighting AIDS, Ebola, Earthquakes, floods and mudslides. American media offer no kudos for their good works. Cuba offers educators and health professionals in many areas of Africa.

If Mr. Obama’s initiative is taken up and supported by the US legislature, only good can come of it. Already the rumblings of dissent are being voiced by those who see no good in anything Mr. Obama proposes. Like the tree that falls in the forest and is not reported by Fox News, Obama gets the blame for the fall. The richest and most powerful nation in the world has a responsibility to raise diplomacy to new levels of good sense and maturity. I would like to hold my breath.

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, Mr. Obama? Really?

The Senate Report on Enhanced CIA Interrogation Techniques puts the lie to all political pronouncements coming out of Washington over the past decade and in part over the past half century. Mendacity, hubris and hypocrisy are alive and flourishing in the land of the free.

The US signs pacts, treaties, international and domestic, which casual readers might assume are entered into law to be rigorously followed by all signatories to those agreements. But the US decides which treaties to ratify and even then which ratified treaties to uphold. It would seem that only those treaties which meet with the blessings of the corporate lobby and favour their culture of trade protection, form the standard. Yet for all other signatories, the US insists that the letter of signed treaties be followed unwaveringly. Hence we have one of the multiple double standards in American law. (The treatment of unarmed black children at the hands of a militarised police force is another and frightening in the extreme.) The same war crimes which sent Germans, Italians, and Japanese to firing squads, or lifetime hard labour are glossed over or white-washed by the American media when the US are the perps.

Many of the findings so far released in the Senate Report have been well known in North America and internationally for many years. The UN and other NGOs have regularly requested that the US judiciary take steps to see justice be done fairly and that the perpetrators be offered remedies according to US and international laws in accordance with their involvement.

The executive branch of government seems to think that their duty is only to lament that high crimes and serious misdemeanors have been carried out. The current chief executive is no exception. Mr. Obama’s daily lament, while no individuals are named and no blame is cast, shows a certain spinelessness. It may be good diplomatically but it is a weak response. If Obama follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, the perps will be pardoned as Reagan and NIxon had their crimes pardoned. Again a double standard. While millions of black americans live incarcerated for relatively minor infringements of law, those responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, or war crimes strut their stuff as free men.

Knowing all this as a given, isn’t there a case for American NGOs such as the ACLU, Amnesty International, Centre for American Progress, et al., to use the Senate Report to sue the perpetrators in American courts? The UN has asked for indictments. Why are Americans sitting back as if everything is just a storm in a teacup? Is it really OK to be the 1000 pound gorilla in the room, an international rogue state, practising lawlessness with impunity?

During his daily chats on this report, Mr. Obama has stated that, “This is not who we are.” “We are better than this.” Yeah right Mr. Obama. If you were really better there would have been no need for this report and the world community could look up to “the shining city on the hill” as mentioned in another dreamscape. If this is not who you are, show some fortitude and make things right. After all you are the most powerful man on the planet!

Bolton Bluntness

John Bolton for President. For the run-of-the-mill conservative, such a concept is interesting — almost startling. What is also interesting, but not startling, are the results of the NSE analysis of the interview with Bolton. These results are very much in line with the public persona of Bolton as he has presented himself for some years, now.

The fact that he has a very low BS factor would suggest he’d had a chance to prepare responses for the interview ahead of time, but having seen quite a few interviews with him through the years, I doubt it was necessary. Bolton has always displayed the trained, practiced diplomat’s control of language to choose the precise word to convey the precise meaning for the precise situation. The biggest difference is he is always very fluid with the language, never slowing down the sentence to be sure of selecting each word properly. Some of the less precise formulations of the interviewer suggest this is a transcription of a real, off-the-cuff back and forth interview, and I would be surprised to learn otherwise.

While his might not inspire media venom like a Palin candidacy would, Bolton does not have a reputation for being a smooth politician. His appointment as UN ambassador was a recess appointment, a foreshadowing of the bloody battle he would face against livid liberals. And his reputation among some coworkers at the State Department was that of an “abrasive” character. (Some might find that a sterling recommendation, actually, in that environment).

The abrasiveness among fellow diplomats and his performance as UN ambassador, not to mention his public pronouncements since then, show his focus is clearly on the foreign policy challenges the country faces, not on going along to get along. And this fits well with the “vision” measures where his vision for the country has a much stronger reading than his vision for himself. And given his feisty, sometimes contrarian positions, even while in office, it’s also no surprise he gets relatively low ratings in the “man of the people” category, compared to some of the more experienced elected officials who may run.

Bolton is a realist, and I feel confident he does not expect a sudden movement to draft him into the candidacy. And Nolte, the interviewer, is an astute analyst and also sees little prospect of such an event. I suspect any dancing around that shows up in the Compatibility Gauge has to do with Bolton’s well-known bluntness. A blunt, unpredictable respondent is always a terrifying prospect in an interview.

Aside from what the Political Analyzer Tool shows, I suspect Bolton’s coming out publicly has more to do with wanting to put pressure on the field to keep foreign policy relevant in the 2012 elections, and perhaps a bit of wistful longing to work with a successful candidate to finish what he did not get a chance to finish while Bush was in office.