Tag Archives: oil

Mrs. Palin, Go Back To Alaska and Stay There

Like many of our fellow Americans, I was caught completely off guard by Senator John McCain’s (Arizona-R) choice of Governor Sarah Palin (Alaska-R) for his running mate in the upcoming presidential election.  After reviewing her policies, and McCain’s alternatives, it has become painfully and frightfully clear why she was chosen.  I use the words painfully and frightfully with the utmost deliberateness, because if the Republican ticket wins this election, it means three things: (1) a George Lucas-esque “Return of the Oil Companies”, (2) an assault on the idea of social progress, and (3) the continuation of dishonest, manipulative, and coercive federal politics.  In other words, if McCain-Palin wins, buy a hat and hold the fuck onto it.

McCain needed a boost prior to his nomination of Sarah Palin.  His other choices, with the exception of Joe Lieberman (Connecticut-Indep.), would not have given him anything to work with.  Tom Ridge, Mitt Romney, and other wealthy, old, white men would not fit the bill, because they did not add anything but an increased tax bracket to the McCain ticket.  So, the critical question is: why Palin and not Lieberman?

For a moment, imagine the clamor among aides at the McCain headquarters on the “Straight Talk Express”.  You have two sides intensely arguing with Senator McCain in the middle, much like his experience in Washington.  One says, “Lieberman: he brings the experience and liberal mindedness to capture those elusive swing voters and independents, as well as his previous supporters from prior presidential bids.  He could steal votes from right under the Democrats’ noses!”  The other group says, “What if we got a woman? What if we stole all those uppity Hilary Clinton supporters who care more about gender than issues? And, most importantly, WE NEED SOMEONE WHO WILL GALVANIZE THE BASE! WE’VE GOT IT…PALIN!”

For all of you who are wondering what it means when pundits spout this phrase, let me play the role of political translator.  It means, “We simply cannot have every social reactionary in the Midwest and the South sit at home rather than vote for McCain, who unfortunately does not hold views from the eighteenth century.” It means, “Our VP choice needs to be someone that mega-churchgoers can stand up (or kneel) for, and the only way to do that is to find someone who thinks the only trinity better than Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost is Guns, Oil, and War.”  It means, “Fuck any attempt at fixing any problems in this country, because winning this election is more important to our friends in large corporations who stand to get fucked straight in their smelly pocketbooks if the Democrats win (at least for a little while).”

Surely, the Republicans among you, if there still are any, are seething.  This won’t help. Sarah Palin is either a moron or in extremely intense denial. There, I said it.  At this day and age, anyone who truly believes after a period of intense thought that: (1) the solution to our energy crisis is more oil drilling, (2) gay people are bad, (3) there is no such thing as global warming,  (4) the protection of the 2nd Amendment is necessary, (5) “hockey mom” is a legitimate qualification for the second highest office in the country, and (6) the war in Iraq is “directed by God” does not have a fully functioning brain or is so tied up in identity politics that they are incapable of rational thought.  If you don’t think that these are her policies, please read The Weekly Standard – I assure you, they are.  If you think that I am a moron for saying this, please continue reading.  Assuming this article, of course, is not being dictated to you because you’re illiterate.

All jokes aside, Palin’s stance on the issues is…well, scary.

Talking Point #1: The Return of Big Oil

Governor Palin has repeatedly supported drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  Bypassing the whole ‘endangering the caribou’ problem, anyone who thinks that ‘more oil’ is a solution hasn’t really come to terms with the nature of energy policy.  The only way that humanity can survive its ‘Green Challenge’ is to once again become a part of nature by taking out what it puts back in.  Finding oil is not the issue and neither is driving down gas prices.  McCain may pretend he likes wind turbines, but, as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has aptly pointed out in a couple of recent Op-Ed articles, McCain has missed or voted against the last six renewable energy bills.  Why?  That would severely hurt his campaign finances from the conservative business lobbies, who would eat shit if people didn’t use oil anymore.  It’s as simple as that.  Palin is just another example of how the McCain ticket has no regard for the environment or energy policy.  The last time we gave Big Oil the reigns, it didn’t work out so well (See: 2000-2008).  Moreover, Palin’s husband is employed by British Petroleum.  Although I’m sure that won’t effect her decision making at all.

Talking Point #2: The Assault on the Idea of Social Progress

It doesn’t matter what your stance on abortion is.  Blasphemy for a liberal, I know.  But, what is more important is the idea that ideas can evolve.  Not surprising that someone who discounts evolution, would deny it in other contexts, but then again, it should be.  Palin campaigned hard in Alaska to introduce a “Creationist” curriculum in public schools.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  What do scientists have to do, short of inventing an animal that evolves every twenty minutes, to demonstrate that they are not making this up and that the Jews didn’t put them up to it?  Palin also is firmly against gay marriage, something that conservatives like to call a “pro-family” stance.  There is nothing “pro-family” about it.  Palin takes what biblical scripture is interpreted to mean by questionably-in-the-closet pastors and that is the end of the debate.  That is anti-logical and we can no longer support that kind of thinking.  Use your rational faculties to come to decisions based on evidence and we’ll talk.  What does it take to convince people, nearly two thousand years after Aristotle, that logic is actually a legitimate knowledge production device?  It makes me want to pull out my hair.

Talking Point #3: Coercive, Manipulative, and Dishonest Electioneering

McCain’s choice of Palin over Lieberman says one thing most explicitly – I don’t care about representing anyone but me.  Like Lieberman, whose turncoat and extremely eerie speech at the Republican National Convention made even Republicans cringe, McCain has made it clear that he is in it for himself.  He just wants to win.  I get it John, it’s a lot of power.  But maybe for just a moment you can see this as not another righteous battle between you (virtue) and bad (bad).  This is about more than you.  Palin has no function in this election except to get people who you clearly don’t regard very highly – reactionaries.  If you did like them, and if they liked you, you would not need Palin.  You appeal to them because their votes count as much as my vote and that makes them powerful.  As Walther pointed out, President Bush still has a 30% approval rating.  WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? People that John McCain is desperately trying to befriend.  David Brooks of the New York Times claims that McCain saw in Palin a “maverick” nature like his own, accepted it, and looked no further.  They only met once for crying out loud – I don’t think that was it.  Brooks is right, however, that Palin’s space should have been for someone with experience and strategy.  Instead McCain opted for hockey sticks and guns.  I’m holding my breath until after the election.

Obama Willing to Compromise on Oil Drilling

So Barack Obama just reversed his hard line stance against offshore drilling. I genuinely hate offshore drilling.  It’s advocates say it does three things: lower the price of oil, promote US energy security and buy us time for alternative fuels. BS.

First, oil companies are the only one’s who will benefit from expanded drilling because they’ll make billions selling the new oil into a marketplace that fluctuates like the emotions of a teenager.  The oil won’t affect gas prices for a decade and who knows where they’ll be in so many years.  Oil drilling promotes energy security like buying another beer promotes a responsible drinking habit.  It won’t ‘buy us time’ for alternative fuels, it will buy oil more time to dominate our economy. Everyone knows we’re addicted to oil, and everyone knows the best way to end an addiction is to stop using the product.

Despite my dislike for off-shore drilling, I’m not infuriated by Obama’s shift. He says: “If, in order to get [a comprehensive energy bill] passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”

When Obama says he’s a different kind of politician, people haven’t really investigated what that means. It means Obama is a compromiser and a deal maker, not an ideologue and not heavily opinionated. While to many this “flip-flop” seems like a display of weakness or political pandering, I think it shows that he has his priorities straight. Right now, this nation’s first objective should be a strong, consistent, well-supported energy policy with ambitious but achievable objectives. Bipartisan support is essential for an effective plan. If the Republicans and 70% of Americans support drilling for more oil, even if that support is manufactured by the oil companies pr strategies, then Obama is willing to compromise to make sure the bigger objective is achieved.

Unconventional politics is compromising with your adversary even when you have an advantage. That is the way long term solutions are created. Unfortunately, many Democrats are having buyer’s remorse. They see a strong Obama and a strong Democratic party, and they want to shove policies down Republicans’ throats. That’s conventional politics and the path to more ineffective government. Resist that urge, compromise and make real progress. An ambitious national energy policy is more important than a few additional oil rigs in the Gulf.

Darfur: A US-China Proxy Battle for Oil

Confirmed Oil Reserves, Pipeline and Conflict.

Summary: There is oil in Darfur. The Sudanese government is using the same tactics to evict millions of Darfuri as they used in the South a decade ago. They are using Chinese money to finance their operations. The US is attempting to create international pressure against the Al-Bashir government by calling Darfur a ‘genocide.’ The US is also financing the Chadian government to the west of Sudan. The Chadian government is financing Dafuri rebels. The Chinese and the US are fighting a proxy battle for Darfur, an area with potentially vast oil reserves, at the expense of millions of Darfuris.

In 2005, Reuters published an article entitled: Oil Discover adds new twist to Darfur.

“Sudan announced in April that its ABCO corporation… had begun drilling for oil in Darfur, where preliminary studies showed there were “abundant” quantities of oil. The news has prompted some humanitarian experts to wonder whether oil could be guiding Khartoum’s actions in Darfur, where a scorched-earth policy against rebels’ communities has left tens of thousands dead and forced at least 2 million from their homes.”

This is one of two mainstream media articles I found that mention Oil and Darfur in the same sentence. The other was in this BBC article. Once again, the mainstream press has neglected to inform us of WTF is going on. Darfur is, in fact, another narrative consistent with the rest of Sudanese oil history.

In 1974, Chevron was granted large oil concessions in southern Sudan. They discovered oil in that region in 1978 and began developing the fields. Unfortunately for Chevron and the ruling elite in Khartoum, the southern Sudanese weren’t willing to give away their oil wealth. In 1984, rebels from the south attacked a Chevron facility and the company suspended operations. This all happened within the context of a number of rebel groups in the south using violence to pressure the central government to give them more autonomy. In 1992, Chevron sold their oil operations to a Sudanese corporation.

The central government outsourced much of the conflict to militia groups in the south just as they have with the Janjaweed in Darfur. They financed a lot of this conflict with money from Chinese, Canadian and Swiss oil companies. Recently, the Chinese have purchased most of the oil rights in Sudan from other companies.

The Human Rights Watch report titled: Sudan: Oil Companies Complicit in Rights Abuses, published on November 25, 2003, explains the tactics used by the government in the south. The following is from a HRW press release publicizing that report:

“In addition to its regular army, the government has deployed militant Islamist militias to prosecute the war, and has armed southern factions in a policy of ethnic manipulation and destabilization… The Sudanese government has used the oil money in conducting scorched-earth campaigns to drive hundreds of thousands of farmers and pastoralists from their homes atop the oil fields. These civilians have not been compensated nor relocated peacefully-far from it. Instead, government forces have looted their cattle and grain, and destroyed their homes and villages, killed and injured their relatives, and even prevented emergency relief agencies from bringing any assistance to them.”

This is a report from Southern Sudan! Not Darfur! They are using the same tactics but no one is talking about why.

The probability of oil in the Darfur region is high because proven reserves exist immediately south and west of Darfur. Pipelines have also been built to bring oil from the region to the coast. The presence of oil in Darfur would also explain why the Sudanese government takes the risk of enraging the international community by utilizing difficult to control militias to terrorize their own people. America is mounting an international campaign to label Darfur a ‘genocide’ because they seek to oust the pro-China, Al-Bashir administration.

American relations with the the al-Bashir administration were doomed from the start because America had supported the former Sudanese administrations that had been overthrown by Al-Bashir in June of 1989. Al-Bashir strengthened the Islamic foundation of Sudan, enacting Sharia law and, over time, realigned Sudanese economic development behind Chinese rather than American interests. The State Department also alleges that the Sudanese government has a relationship with Al-Qaeda13 and other fundamentalist Islamic organizations so it is clear that al-Bashir’s administration will never be subservient to American interests.

The Bush administration wants regime change in Sudan more than they want peace in Darfur and they’re putting their money where their mouth is.

The US relationship with Chad to the west of Darfur is almost never reported by the mainstream media. The US supports the Chadian government (they have oil) and Chad is financing rebel groups in Darfur who are fighting all the way to Khartoum. In fact, on May 12, a rebel group called the JEM with connections to Chad invaded Khartoum. This is a massive story because its the first time Darfuri rebels brought the battle to the capital but since it doesn’t fit with the mainstream media narrative of defenseless Darfuris being targeted indiscriminately by Arabs, no one is talking much about it.

The Chinese and the US are fighting a proxy battle for oil at the expense of millions of Darfuris. If we want to stop the conflict in Darfur, we need to hear the real story. The mainstream media, once again, has created a circus out of Darfur instead of contextualizing the conflict.

For the best report I’ve even seen on Darfur, check out VBS TV’s report entitled Inside Sudan.

Inside Sudan from VBS

Oil Around Darfur

The following are my sources:
Rolandsen, Oystein W. African Guerillas: The Jajawiid and Government Militias. London: Lynne Rienner. 2007
UN Sudan NIG: The History And Origins Of The Current Conflict In Darfur
Washington Post: Moon, Dan Ki. A Climate Culprit In Darfur. Saturday, June 16, 2007; Page A15
Annan welcomes extension of African Union mission in Darfur
Reuters: Oil discovery adds new twist to Darfur tragedy http://www.alertnet.org/thefacts/reliefresources/111885496661.htm
Vice Media
BBC: Head-to-head: Darfur situation
Human Rights Watch
New York Times: Scorched-Earth Strategy Returns to Darfur. Published: March 2, 2008.

Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998 Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism
Washington Post: U.S. Calls Killings In Sudan Genocide: Khartoum and Arab Militias Are Responsible, Powell
Says. Friday, September 10, 2004; Page A01 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8364-2004Sep9.html