[Corrected] – “No, Blood for Oil!”
Posted on June 30th, 2008 at 9:53 am by Steve

No, Blood for Oil!
The New York Times, June 19, 2008:

Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields.

The New York Times, June 30, 2008:

A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq, American officials say.

The disclosure, coming on the eve of the contracts’ announcement, is the first confirmation of direct involvement by the Bush administration in deals to open Iraq’s oil to commercial development and is likely to stoke criticism…

At a time of spiraling oil prices, the no-bid contracts, in a country with some of the world’s largest untapped fields and potential for vast profits, are a rare prize to the industry…

A potential area of criticism, however, is that only Western companies got the bigger oil contracts. In particular, Russian companies that have experience in Iraq and had sought development contracts are still waiting.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, February 6, 2003:

No, let me just deal with the oil thing because this is one of the… we may be right or we may be wrong, I mean people have their different views about why we’re doing this thing.

But the oil conspiracy theory is honestly one of the most absurd when you analyse it.

The fact is that, if the oil that Iraq has were our concern I mean we could probably cut a deal with Saddam tomorrow in relation to the oil.

It’s not the oil that is the issue, it is the weapons.

Posted on June 28th, 2008 at 1:25 pm by Mutt

The NYTonline posts a review of Font design software and websites here.  One of the most interesting is fonstruct.com, which is a combination of an online font editing system and a social networking site that lets users share fonts they’ve designed.

A Terrorist Fist Jab?
Posted on June 27th, 2008 at 4:58 pm by Steve

Michelle and Barack Obama's 'Terrorist Fist Jab'
My man Harry Shearer has done it again. You simply *must* listen to this track… freakin’ awesome. It’s from his weekly radio program Le Show, which airs on KCRW in Santa Monica (and is heard throughout the world… except in Boston!).

He sets Fox News’s E.D. Hill to music… priceless.

Sexual Antagonism: A genetic theory of homosexuality
Posted on June 26th, 2008 at 3:36 pm by necco

An interesting article pointed out to me by an old friend from college.  From the article:

You can’t isolate gay men as a puzzle or problem anymore. You have to see them as part of a bigger, stronger, enduring phenomenon.

I’ve always thought that hundreds of thousands or millions of years of evolution didn’t result in homosexuality accidentally.  We get into trouble when you look at single instances of our human population in isolation.  I like to think of humans not as individuals, but as a large organism that exists and adapts over many generations.  Like a forest crawling up the raw slope of a recent mountain landslide.  Each human or tree is quite inconsequential on its own.


You Don’t Know Dick? Check the Wiki!
Posted on June 19th, 2008 at 7:16 pm by dr.hoo

For all of you unfamiliar with the many dicks of the world, there’s now an online wiki devoted to documenting them, Dickipedia.org. These include Political Dicks (Scott McCellan, John McCain, Barack Obama, Elliot Spitzer), Media Dicks (Geraldo Rivera, Dr. Phil, Michael Moore), Entertainment Dicks (David Blaine, George Lucas, Sean Penn), Sports Dicks (David Beckam, Kobe Bryant, O.J. Simpson) and much much more!

This site had me laughing harder than I have laughed in a looooooong time. Flavor Flav and Scott McClellan are two of my favorites.

Fun with JohnMcCain.com Online Store
Posted on June 19th, 2008 at 5:33 pm by dr.hoo

Until last week, the web store on JohnMcCain.com had a comments section for people to write in their reviews of McCain’s 2008 official online store. A few folks decided to take advantage of the public forum to poke some fun at the presumptive nominee.

Fortunately, BalloonJuice.com caught a screen grab before McCain staffers realized and took down the comment section from the site.

The Public Is The Enemy
Posted on June 19th, 2008 at 5:17 pm by Steve

Toshi’s earlier post about the Active Denial System, and the recent publication by Wikileaks of a US Army Counterinsurgency Manual (see below), remind me of this very important but oft-overlooked fact:
the PUBLIC is the ENEMY
Indeed, the public is The Enemy. The militarization of domestic law enforcement, and the migration of practices from the so-called “counterinsurgency” wars of Central America in the 1980’s to the U.S. military abroad and even to domestic policy gives the game away.

Indeed, reading excerpts from Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces is like reading the New York City police department’s planning documents for the Republican National Convention in 2004:

Examples of counterintelligence measures to use are

  • Background investigations and records checks of persons in sensitive positions and persons whose loyalty may be questionable.
  • Maintenance of files on organizations, locations, and individuals of counterintelligence interest.
  • Control of civilian movement within government-controlled areas.
  • Identification systems to minimize the chance of insurgents gaining access to installations or moving freely.
  • Unannounced searches and raids on suspected meeting places.
  • Censorship.

For the 2004 Republican Convention in New York, the police department spied on peaceful civil society groups for more than a year leading up to the protests, maintained files on organizations of interest, controlled and limited movement of civilians anywhere near the convention center or protest sites, established an ID system for conventioneers, infiltrated protest groups and acted as agents provocateur, and preemptively arrested thousands of people and held them without charge or access to counsel. And the city fought to keep secret thousands of pages of documents pertaining to the department’s planning remain withheld, despite numerous lawsuits.

What New York City did isn’t new. Indeed, before the latest Iraq War started, civil society groups were planning protests in Pittsburgh, and conducting training on how to handle police tactics. One participant told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

But in the last few years, we’ve witnessed the militarization of the police department. Cops snapping pictures, taking names, shooting rubber bullets — that’s stuff we always thought happened in Central America, although it was often U.S.-funded. What we’re finding is, it’s come home.

It’s interesting to read about this from the officers’ point of view, too. POLICE Magazine’s article from last month advises units of specially-trained officers to prepare for protests and rallies:

How these units will respond in the field depends on the rules of engagement set by their agency and the law. But here’s a good idea of the tools they will need to perform their mission: empty hands, batons, riot shields, electronic control devices, specialty impact munitions, chemical munitions, air launcher projectiles, K-9s, sidearms, shotguns, rifles, 37/40mm launchers.

The best part of it is, the media and the public (and particularly the police) usually claim that the protesters turned to violence. The next time you hear that claim, remember who brought “sidearms, shotguns, rifles, 37/40mm launchers”, and who brought puppets
anti-war puppets

Bush’s Envy
Posted on June 18th, 2008 at 10:36 am by Steve

George W. Bush
Dear Leader speaking via videoconference to U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan:

I must say, I’m a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks.

Source: Reuters news article

On Political Power
Posted on June 18th, 2008 at 10:09 am by Steve


Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?

Those Tyrannical, Commie Bastards!
Posted on June 17th, 2008 at 12:01 pm by Steve

Communist Party
The U. S. State Department sharply criticized the state of “freedom” in Russia in its 2001 annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices:

Authorities continued to infringe on citizens’ privacy rights. Government technical regulations that require Internet service providers and telecommunications companies to invest in equipment that enables the FSB [successor to the KGB –ed.] to monitor Internet traffic, telephone calls, and pagers without judicial approval caused serious concern. However, in response to a challenge by a St. Petersburg journalist, the Supreme Court ruled in September that the FSB is required to obtain and show court approval to telecommunications companies before it can proceed to initiate surveillance. Past practices raised questions among many observers about whether the FSB would abide by this ruling.

Well, at least somebody’s Supreme Court has ruled that the government can’t eavesdrop on telecommunications without a warrant!

Here in the Land of the Free, our Congress is busily trying to write retroactive laws that will protect the telecom companies that spied on U. S. citizens without judicial approval, at the behest of Dear Leader, of course.

George W. Bush

(h/t: Glenn Greenwald, a.k.a. Glenzilla. See particularly this post about retroactive immunity.)

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