Pontificator: News and Commentary

Saturday, March 08, 2003 :::
In the March 17 BusinessWeek, economist Gary Becker writes:

"A number of leaders of the antiwar movement have been loudly proclaiming that a war with Iraq would be all about America's desire to gain control of oil supplies there and elsewhere in the Middle East. In a recent BusinessWeek story, a German Green Party opponent of war was quoted as saying: "Saddam is no saint, but to me the whole thing smells of...oil." This economic argument, popular in Europe, makes little sense. If oil were the driving force behind the Bush Administration's hard line on Iraq, avoiding war would be the most appropriate policy.

Iraq, along with other important producers, must export its oil to gain the resources to buy goods, including weapons. Since oil is sold in a fluid world market, any nation, including the U.S., can get pretty much all the oil it wants by paying world prices. So the U.S. would be better off if it encouraged Iraq to export more, not less, oil because that would lower oil prices. Yet America has not done this. Since the Persian Gulf War, it has led the international community in restricting Iraqi production as a means of pressuring Saddam Hussein to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction."

Becker has a point, in that anti-war cries of "No blood for oil" are a tad vague. But the bonanza comes not from U.S. control of Iraqi oil fields, as he suggests, but from the situation outlined in his second paragraph. The economic and technological embargoes of the '90s have left Iraq's oil industry in a dilapidated, inefficient state. And, according to the Wall Street Journal (quoted here via NPR):

"A January 16th item in The Wall Street Journal quotes oil industry sources who say that Bush administration officials met with US oil companies in October about jump-starting the Iraqi oil industry after a war. Among those companies, according to The Journal, was Haliburton, the oil services firm headed by Mr. Cheney before he was elected. A Deutsche Bank report, cited in the same article, predicts Haliburton would be among those winning the biggest contracts in a post-Saddam Iraq. Administration and company officials say the meeting never took place. Ed Morse of Hess Energy Trading and the Council on Foreign Relations says those who see an oil grab in US policy don't understand how the oil market really works. "

So instead of "No blood for oil," may I suggest "No blood for Haliburton"?


::: posted by Pontificator at 9:50 AM

This morning, The Washington Post ran this info on its front page:

"A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the United Nations' chief nuclear inspector said yesterday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims about Iraq's secret nuclear ambitions.

Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago were deemed "not authentic" after careful scrutiny by U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the U.N. Security Council."

My own local paper, a Tribune Company publication, buried this story in a box on page 6. Anybody outside of Washington able to find this on page 1? Just wondering.


::: posted by Pontificator at 9:16 AM

Thursday, March 06, 2003 :::
Heading back to the beach. . . .Risdee resumes as guest blogger for the next few days. Enjoy. . .

::: posted by Pontificator at 1:01 AM

Wednesday, March 05, 2003 :::
As the Iraq war proceeds, expect the government to refuse to disclose information based on "national security." There is a legal basis for this secrecy -- the 1950's era Supreme Court case of United States v. Reynolds.

However, declassified documents now reveal that that the government's arguments in favor of secrecy in Reynolds were nothing short of a pack of lies:

Relatives of three civilians killed when an Air Force bomber crashed in Georgia in 1948 have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reopen their civil suit against the government, which collapsed after the court issued a landmark ruling on secrecy and national security.

In an unusual petition filed Wednesday, the families said the government falsely told the court a half-century ago that accident reports on the crash contained classified information that, if disclosed, would reveal important military secrets.

In the 1953 case, United States v. Reynolds, the Supreme Court held that the government could withhold the records _ even from a federal judge _ if national security was at stake.

Since then, the decision has been cited repeatedly in government secrecy cases, including the Supreme Court's 1974 Watergate ruling ordering President Nixon to turn over his White House audio tapes.

But family members said that when the original reports on the 1948 crash were finally declassified in the 1990s, they didn't contain any sensitive information.

"There was never a military secret, and there was never any national security issue at stake," said Wilson Brown, an attorney with the Philadelphia law firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath, which has represented the families since the 1950s.

The danger of allowing the government to withhold evidence based on secrecy is that, in order to protect itself from embarassment, it will pretend that secret information exists when, in reality, none does. Remember that potential for abuse next time Bush or Rumsfeld refuses to disclose information based on national security.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:52 PM

Crossgates Mall has put out a press release where they defend their conduct, attack the victims, and promise to arrest anyone who crosses them in the future.

Here is the press release.

Absolutely pathetic. The only appropriate response is continued pressure. Call them and their press agents (see the numbers below) and tell them that their conduct is unacceptable.

UPDATE: Charges Dropped.

::: posted by Pontificator at 5:49 PM

More on the Crossgate Mall debacle. Here is a good summary of the events, with some good phone numbers to call to let Crossgate know what you think. I can add one more (which I mentioned below): E3 Communications, who Crossgate has hired to perform damage control and take media inquiries on the situation. That phone number is 716-854-8182. Fire away!!

::: posted by Pontificator at 3:43 PM

The fascists at Crossgates Mall (who ejected two pillars of the community who happened to be wearing anti-war t-shirts), have not backed down and are blaming the victims for their disruptive behavior. I just spoke to a nice person at E3 Communications who read Crossgates' press release to me over the phone. She promised to e-mail me the press release but has not done so yet; she may have figured out that I would not be giving her client good press.

Call Crossgates (518-869-3522) or E3 Communications (716-854-8182), and tell them that you disapporve of their actions, and that you will be organizing round the clock peace protests at their mall.

::: posted by Pontificator at 1:48 PM

How many Iraqi Civilian casualties can we expect from 3,000 bombs in 48 hours?

3,000 would be 1 casualty per bomb, which seems like a conservative estimate. Of course, 3,000 is approximately how many civilians died on September 11.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:46 AM

Monday, March 03, 2003 :::
The growing consensus among media professionals is that the American media has consistently given short-shrift to the overwhelming world-wide opposition to the war in Iraq. As this article notes:

Cable news has ''acted as if the decision to invade Iraq has already been made, and have in effect seen it as their job to prepare the American public for the coming war,'' New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote last week. ''Some media outlets -- operating in an environment in which anyone who questions the administration's foreign policy is accused of being unpatriotic -- have taken it as their assignment to sell the war, not to present a mix of information that might call the justification for war into question.''

Says Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher: ''The press woefully underplayed the anti-war movement until recently. Now coverage is growing, of the large marches at least. But I still don't see the kind of regular day-to-day coverage that was common during, say, the nuclear freeze movement of the early 1980s. That's the true test of taking dissent seriously.''

We are not well-served by a servile media. Let's hope that when the war starts (as it undoubtedly will within the next couple of weeks), the media will not be intimidated by modern-day Joseph McCarthys into ignoring the voices of peace.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:45 PM

This letter has nothing to do with war, politics, or anything else typically discussed on this site, but it was so frickin' funny I had to put it up here. It was forwarded to me by a friend who has assured me it is genuine. Enjoy. . .

::: posted by Pontificator at 2:56 PM

General Electric is the ultimate owner of MSNBC, which has elected to employ hate-radio personality (I use the word loosely) Michael Weiner a/k/a Michael Savage as a host of a one hour tv program.

Savage is plainly not fit for civilized society. Many journalists have documented his excesses. Here are some examples:

Michael Savage advocated dealing with immigration by having the Army cordon off poor neighborhoods, then search them house to house to find all undocumented Hispanics.

He referred to Hispanics who sued a restaurant that allegedly made them wait for a table while seating whites who arrived after them as 'animals'.

He stated that Chinese immigrants keep secret weapons stashes across the country and are waiting for orders from Beijing to simultaneously get the weapons and start shooting whites. He repeated the same story the following day, speaking in the first person using a 'Charlie Chan' style Chinese accent.

He told a caller to 'take the Constitution and stuff it up your ass.'

He stated that when he used the term 'American', he was referring to conservative white Christians. Others are not Americans.

He stated that American soldiers killed in WWII 'died for nothing'.

He has said that women shouldn't be permitted to vote because 'Their hormones rage; they are too emotional.'

In one of the few incidents to actually draw public attention, he described female High School student who volunteered to assist homeless people as 'fresh white nookie' and stated that they were volunteering for the 'thrill and possibility they'll be raped in a dumpster'.

He said that the 'liberal media' was covering up the fact that James Byrd, the black Texan who was murdered and then dragged behind a truck, was a coke dealer, and his murder was an attempted sale gone bad.

This isn't the only instance where this 'conservative' has endorsed or virtually endorsed violence against disfavored groups. He labeled the victims of this notorious rape and attempted murder as 'sluts' because they were kidnapped from a known make out spot that they had gone to with their boyfriends.

When a gay High School student was beaten and had the word 'fag' carved into his stomach and arms, Savage responded, 'When a sissy in Novato gets a fat lip, the media treats it like it's World War III.'

The corporate leaders at GE can call the shots at MSNBC. They run an international corporation whose interests go far far beyond the narrow slice of right-wing haters who listen to Weiner. Appropriate pressure can be brought to bear through the appropriate channels at GE. Here are proper GE recipients of phone calls, letters, and other communications reflecting our collective outrage at the poor professional judgment of its subsidiary corporatation, MSNBC. These people get paid to listen to us, so fire away:

GE Contacts

Gary Sheffer
Public Affairs, Corporate, Environmental, Government, Labor Issues, Mexico
(203) 373-3476 gary.sheffer@corporate.ge.com

David Frail
Financial Communications
(203) 373-3387 david.frail@corporate.ge.com

Louise Binns
Europe, Middle East, Africa, SE Asia, International Public Affairs
+32 2 235 6912 louise.binns@corporate.ge.com

Alex Constantinople
Corporate Communications
Diversity, e-Business/Digitization, India
(203) 373-2387 alex.constantinople@corporate.ge.com

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:35 AM

Here's a small idea to make the world a better place, in four easy steps.

1. Go to your local Barnes & Noble, Borders, or nearest book store.

2. Pick up a few copies of Eric Alterman's "What Liberal Media."

3. Find the display for the odious Michael Weiner (a/k/a Michael Savage) book "Savage Nation."

4. Put the Alterman book on top of or in front of the Weiner book, thus obscuring it from the view of bookstore customers and employees.

Then say to yourself, as Instapundit would: "heh."

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:06 AM

Sunday, March 02, 2003 :::
Here is an article outlining what's at stake, and what we have to lose, with Bush's relentless ideological assault on the federal judiciary.

::: posted by Pontificator at 11:53 PM

The Bush-dissenters are the true Patriots, and Bush, Ashcroft, and Fox News are anti-American, as nicely put in this article and handy-dandy accompanying chart.

::: posted by Pontificator at 5:30 PM


via calpundit

::: posted by Pontificator at 3:36 PM


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