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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

November 5, 2007

 

Oil and Me

So, just what does a weak American dollar mean for us. Well, take a look at gasoline prices and use that as a barometer. As the dollar grows weaker and weaker, goods that we import costs us all more and more, and that includes crude oil prices which, in turn, increases the price of gas.

Rich people know better than to hold their American dollars, as so many of us have to, so they look for things to invest in that have real value. And crude oil qualifies. And as crude is purchased and becomes even more of a valuable commodity, the price rises.

These rich people - you know, the Bush "base" of "haves and have mores", a.k.a. the "investor class" - don't look at the economy as we do. The economy to them are stocks and commodities and how big of a slice of the pie they can get, regardless of where it comes from. And as the stock market fluctuates and destabilizes, Bush's "base" looks to where their global dollars will get them the most bang for those bucks. And it doesn't matter to them if the price of gas rises because they got in when the going got good.

Over just the past two weeks, gas prices have risen 16 cents a gallon to a $2.96 national average.

Fadel Gheit, an Oppenheimer & Sons analyst, says that oil is overpriced by $30 a barrel.

Some of you will remember that this past Labor Day weekend, gas prices didn't rise as they had in the previous Bush years. I guess they have to make up the difference somewhere, so why not here and now. After all, the Winter season is home heating oil time.

And the rise in crude doesn't seem to be dissipating anytime soon. Whether or not you believe that oil supplies are in trouble; and whether or not you believe that there are alternatives right around the corner, for the time being someone is going to make a killing and it's going to be at the expense of us ordinary people.

"There is no current shortage, but no one deals on today's market. They make deals based on tomorrow's market. And that's what they're worried about,"
-Joseph Stanislaw, an oil consultant and senior adviser to the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche

And that's the problem in a nutshell. Oil consultants and wealthy investors don't see crude oil as something that effects everybody's bottom line - they look at it as how it can improve their own bottom line.

And is it possible that the actions (and reactions) of the Bush administration have anything at all to do with the rise in crude oil prices? You bet it is.

"It would be silly if we waited until things were not available. People react to perceptions of what will happen. That's not idle speculation."
-an anonymous commodities trader

The instability in the middle east can only help those who have invested early (and often) in oil prices. And, if I remember correctly, the Big Three at the helm of the White House are all former (and present?) Big Oil executives. It would be hard to believe at this point that they have divested themselves of all of their hard-earned interests in their old companies, blind trust or not; and it would be even harder to believe that they don't know or care how their investments are doing.

What are we, stupid or something?

"It's hard to keep in mind that things do move in cycles and that the laws of supply and demand are unlikely to have been abolished. High prices, particularly if they become very high prices, will catalyze responses in supply and demand, and innovation,"
-Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates

The high cost of gas, according to experts such as Mr. Yergin, is cyclical. Much like the argument that the Big Polluters use in defense of Global Warming, those who represent the interests of Big Oil will say anything to protect their investments. With China and India using more and more oil each and every day, it may not matter, in the long or short run, whether or not the American Middle Class begins driving less and uses less gas.

As cities expand outward in their suburbs and exurbs, people will need to get to those jobs somehow. And most of us have to get behind the wheel to do so; and as the US dollar shrinks and our savings fall, we become, and stay, two (or more) income households, those jobs will need to be driven to and gas will be consumed.

The Bush administration doesn't see the forest for the trees because they own the forest. They have no financial reason to either make gasoline more affordable or find ways to wean us off of the crude oil product. After all, money is power and they have both.

"I can't explain why the price is where it is today. The market is going to dictate . . . and we're a taker of those prices."
-Henry Hubble, Exxon Mobil vice president of investor relations

Allow me to explain it to you Mr. Hubble: The explanation is greed and the means is "because you can."

-Noah Greenberg



The Terror Profiteers
Or how terror pays and is promoted today, we need an American Jihad!
By Robert W Barker


Since 9\11 our collective awareness of the west’s vulnerability to such vile terror attacks has evolved into the number one fear in America, but is it worthy of such lofty heights in our list of troublesome world problems?

International terrorism kills an exceptionally small number people every year, yet it is our biggest trepidation and an enormous drain of funds as well as the main focus of all US government security goals. One’s chances of dieing from lightening strikes are very comparable to the rate of death in terrorist acts Internationally. Nonetheless the biggest expenditure in the American budget is for fighting scrutinizing and addressing the illusive Terror.

Americans concern over another 9\11 has turn out to be unrealistic, exaggerated, beyond the pale of reason. For Instance if we had one 9\11 event every three months for the next five years our chances of being a victim of one is 0.02%. Astronomer Alan Harris estimates at the present rate of terror acts our chances of death from global terror is about 1in 80,000, approximately the same as being hit by an errant asteroid. Here in the USA we have developed an overblown sense of trepidation, and turned reactionary in the extreme.

Terrorist and our contributions
Initially, we must not overlook the fact that we trained and equipped Osama’s original Mujahideen in Afghanistan so we helped to create this new enemy.

Second, we armed many insurgents in Iraq by losing track of weapons by the hundreds of thousands and explosive enough to have roadside bombs for hundreds of years, {380 Tons lost in one early conflict event} so in this way we have enabled the terrorist.

Third our policy of reactionary unilateral wars, secret prisons and torture have driven us into the abyss of Global perceptions and caused an increase in recruitment for Islamic Terror.

Fourth we have paid the Taliban and other terrorist groups for favors for years now and recently we have inadvertently given Sunni terrorist in Lebanon funds.

That signature terror event in Sept. 2001 has driven a response and expenditure to our system far out of proportion to the actual threat. In fact our fear of the terrorist have killed many more and caused far more damage then the actual terror events. We pay for this fear through, misdirected bellum that was meant to confront this Islamic threat; negative world perceptions of the USA, over spending for security and a flawed policy resulting in increased recruitment of terrorist. Our fear and past policy has exacerbated this problem and we have swallowed the terrible terror pill and it is eating at our guts daily.

The economic cost of this over reaction has driven the USA into deep debt, to China, Japan and the World Bank. We spend 10 billion every month in Iraq and that is not the only funds outlay that has resulted from our ingested trepidation. Millions of lives altered, hundreds of thousands killed and wounded, death and maimed humans are never accountable in dollars.

Furthermore “we are fulfilling the agendas of the Terrorist” by the exact action we pursued, Osama bin laden personally, stated that: “fear, alarmism and over reaction” suit his terrorist agenda perfectly.

These damaging consequences are what the terrorist seeks to accomplish yet they cannot do this on their own; so we oblige them with this trumped up fear reaction. Osama’s stated goal is to “drive America to bankruptcy through over reaction,” and it is working. The 9\11 attacks estimated cost to Osama and his Islamic extremist was about a half million dollars, yet the cost to repair and revive for the USA is approximately 500 billion dollars. And recently we hear that the combined wars on terror will ultimately cost over two trillion dollars, we are draining our blood and flaunting fiscal responsibilities in the war on Terror.

What drives this out of proportion reactionary apprehension?
Our own personal and national “insecurities” and the profit driven corporate terror machine, combined to keep this well-oiled expensive trepidation extant. The major reason this terror threat has gained such momentum, is the “Terror Industry” or the “Fear profit” factor.

Risk entrepreneurs, politicians, terror experts, media, federal bureaucracy, the Pentagon or the military industrial machine, all add to the American recipe of insecurity from terror.

“Creative Alarmist”
These Creative Alarmist and our propensity for war have us collectively involved in a scam of massive proportions. Corporations that profit from insecurity are growing at an alarming rate, war contractors like Halliburton, Bechtol, conflict based contract financiers like the Bush- bin laden families venture called The Carlyle Group, or the far right owned Blackwater or Dyn Corp and numerous other corporations that profit from this war on terror. We shall not fail to mention the regional and political considerations, as Israel and the Saudis are both benefiting from this so-called war on terror in Iraq and other places.

This newfound Terror Industry has become a thriving breathing entity that will not easily back away; the Beast of Bellum is addicted to the tension and the profits it engenders. Promoting fear is good for the war profiteers and an alarmed public is an easy target group and a malleable public.

For another Straussian Neo Con stated goal is to convince the public to relinquish civil rights in order to gain the illusive security the fearful population seeks. Politician Alarmist like Richard Lugar of Indiana proclaimed “existential” threats, from Islamic terror. Columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote the terrorist are a threat to “civilization itself” now how is that for journalistic hyperbole?

“Homeland security cannot be had on the cheap,” proclaimed Joe Lieberman; yet it seems it is not attainable on the expensive either.

Where’s the Beef?
With all this lament and forewarning about the serious nature of Terror one would think borders and ports would be primary issue against Terror entering the USA. Yet we still have porous borders and vulnerable ports, if we are serious about this so called threat why not start there? And of course there was the recent debacle suggesting that we turn over Port authority to Abu Dubai an Arabic country with terror ties. Go figure this, the very Neo Cons that ratcheted up the fear promoted these Arab controlled ports for the USA. Then these naive Neo Cons lament when the public bolts from the idea, why because they forgot about the backlash of anti Islamic sentiment they engendered, for they know its mostly a ruse.

Airport security has improved, although many of the changes have been ineffective or silly, and inconvenience passengers more then terrorist; nonetheless they are at least trying to sure up this area.

Terror benefits more then corporations
Church congregations see a larger attendance in times of insecurity resulting in additional funds in the coffers. TV evangelists rave on about Islamic terror to gain a boost in ratings from the profit-laden dread; Americans often seek solace in Gods house.

Ethnocentric congregations shiver in fear as the manipulating ministers spew apprehension and hatred of the Islamic people. Much the same as the extreme Clerics in Islam feed the attendance to the local Mosque’s fright of the West. Dogma aimed at higher profits or power from spreading hate and mistrust through religions doctrine and teachings.

Fear and war fetch massive defense spending approvals from Congress, it gets those public officials that preach its tenants elected, it brings new contracts for the manufactures of war and peace machines and opens doors for civilian contractors, food purveyors, security workers, water sellers, OPEC and petroleum prices get a boost from insecurity.

Media companies sell more newspapers and magazines, ratings get a boost on TV and Radio terror experts are paid for opinions, National concern and collective angst pays and everyone except the American taxpayers make out.

Who pays for this trumped up terror, you do, in more ways then one.

We are inundated with key phrases or trepidation language to keep our focus on the terror ball, “Weapons Of Mass Destruction,” “Homeland Security” “Terror alerts,” “The War on Terror”, “Mission Accomplished” “Shock and Awe” the color based terror alerts are utilized most often in Federal electoral cycles, we all know they’re “crying wolf.”

The Patriot Act and other rights diminishing legislation are tolerable due to our collective insecurity; we will do anything to alleviate this overblown apprehension. And this so-called “Patriot Act” we all know the liberty minded founders would likely find very unpatriotic.

Putting this “war on terror” in proper context is nearly impossible as the alarm is deeply ingrained in our collective souls. Statistically and realistically we are in far less danger then during the cold war or WWII or almost any period in history, yet we feel far more insecure.

I mean the Nazis had a gigantic war machine willing and able to take over any country in their way, the Soviets had missiles pointed at us with nuclear warheads attached that could end mankind. I can recall climbing under my desk in grade school and practicing for an atomic bomb attack on the USA, from the Soviet bad guys, even then I knew the desk would not help much.

Yet a just a few radical Islamic Terrorist with little power can bring this giant to its knees. Oh of course they have a lot of help from the Neo Con fright promotion machine and its entire population of slumbering sheep whose eyes are filled with FOX News and the Murdock promoted Fox Terror.

Not one united modern army, no real weapons of mass destruction, no nukes just a few Islamic extremists with marginal powers at best; their only real power is the reactionary fear we provide.

It is real, just overblown

One could never say Terror is not a threat, oh contraire, it is a threat, but blown way out of sink with reality.

And there are far better ways to handle terror then bellum in the desert and increasing abhorrence of our US terra firma generated by reactionary tactics. Our fear feeds the terrorist movement and our over reactions and bad policy augment the motives for the Terrorist.

PNAC think tanks taken us to the brink
Following the Cold War many of these Neo Con Straussian fear mongers lost their focus, they were fixated on Communism. Their very reason for living, the Communist boggy man was gone, this upset the fear industry and paranoid extreme right, after all whom might they point the war horse at now? Who would be the enemy they needed to keep America in a state of freight and ready to fight, after all right is nothing without might.

So they gazed around our world for another favorite cause celeb to build tension and feed their war machines, and alas Islamic Terror reared its ugly head. Although a much weaker enemy the very nature of their attacks on civilians is far more frightening to many Americans then a real threat to the world like for instance the Nazis. Our two jobs a day to keep up, and our deep addiction to the cushy life style, combined with watching the dysfunctional Malibu starlets go wild or American Idol drama, serve to ferment a brew that inhibits our understanding and comprehension of the over reaction to terror.

We allow others do our civic thinking for us and we are the victims of the motivations of fear. Following 9\11 Bush told us to be very afraid but alleviate the insecurities by doing the shop till you drop dance. His answer to fear is to become constant zealous consumers, not active citizens, we are blind befuddled frightened little spending children, that type make better citizens in this fear based Neo Con world.

Our sense of ethics was never as high as we idealistically envisioned, yet today they are practically non-existent. Lies repeated and cover ups replete with onerous alibis and favors to lobbies create the political scene in this present administration. We have learned to accept many lower moral stands in this high exclaiming moral administration, official torture, death of habeas corpus, secret prisons with no charges no hearings, or Fourth Amendments privacy rights damaged by millions of wire taps on American citizens is the new norm. Just say the magic words “Enemy Combatant” and all rights are gone and your ass is in Gitmo.

Collective insecurity brought us to this nightmare in the desert called the Iraq war, an ongoing quagmire that drains our funds and precious blood, our fear keeps us under the thumb of dominating men willing to destroy the USA in order to reach their agenda of perpetual war.



Dichotomies galore
Recently Mr. Bush claimed that if Iran were able to develop a nuke it would mean WWIII I am not sure how he came to that conclusion, yet I would not doubt it here.

Nonetheless Let us look at our eschewed position and the so called ally Pakistan, she has the nuke now, she is full of radical Islamic Wahhabiest and she is under the tenuous control of a government brought to power by a military coup d'état. If any thing happens to the General Musharraf we may be looking at some real problems from the Pakistanis, yet we are wasting time and money in Iraq.

President Bush is growing rather offensive and using the “fear factor” over the questioning of his new pick for attorney general Mr. Mukasey.

He wailed that any Senator who insist Mukasey give legitimate answers to their questions is- get this now- “Soft On Terrorism.” This is more of the magic words that get us all fired up in fear, say “Soft on Terror” and you have the attention of the American people.

Seems that water boarding is torture to everyone but Mr. Bush and the Neo Cons, we all know it, but poor Mr. Mukasey needed to be briefed before deciding what torture was in the Neo Con interpretation of the term. We prosecuted Japanese after WWII for water boarding and now we have to ask if its moral legal or ethical?

The mainstream media never explores Mr. Bush and his Terror family connections. The Carlyle Group, a bin laden, Bush, Saudi families ventures, are tied together to make defense contracts pay and George and the boys send them many new ones. Another anomaly is the Bush friends Saudis themselves following 9\11 State Department investigations into terror funding found the Saudis gave more to Islamic Terror then any other nation on Earth.

And of course most the terrorist on that fateful day were Saudis, and Osama is a Saudi, yet no axis of evil for the Bush friends.

Solutions
When a nation spends trillions on an enemy that is illusive and not in command of organized militarily, it takes a different kind of strategy.

More intelligence, deeper infiltration, increased peaceful negotiations, an aggressive reaching out for cooperation to the fence setters in the region and far less bad policy like wars that cannot be justified in term of Terror.

Terrorism is an idea not a country nor a political position, extremist are on a holy jihad and as such can only be beaten by a better idea, and democratic government is an improved system over the repressive systems that permeate the middle east. Yet guns cannot drive liberty, democracy must be volunteered or it will fail.

A disturbing trend has emerged amongst establishment "Media" types who are raising the same radical talking point ad nauseam, calling the global truth movement "anarchists" or violent individuals, who may be aiding terrorists.

The right wing pundits like O’Reilly or Limbaugh are literally praying for another attack in America so they can blame peaceful activists who are consistently probing for the truth and causing consternation among the Media’s paranoid right wing pundits. The truth scares these people like nothing else.
We need an American jihad for the people

The definition of the word Jihad is “to shake off,” to rid ones self or people of a faulty system or low morals and I say its time we had a “shaking off” in the USA. Let us shake off the Neo Con plan to subvert the globe, lets shake off the terrorist by using proper tactics, lets shake off the apathy in the USA and become active engaged citizens.

Most importantly lets shake off the FEAR and Ethnocentric attitudes and face our problems with guts like the potent philanthropic country we can be.


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-Noah Greenberg