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Fri

22

Jun

2007

Oily Incompetence
Friday, 22 June 2007 09:57
by Stephen P. Pizzo

So there I was yesterday perusing my Wall Street Journal when, at the very bottom of an obscure inside page I spied the following story:

Iraq to Seek Chinese Help to Reinvigorate Oil Industry

BEIJING — Iraq's president today is set to begin a week-long trip to China to address his country's urgent need for help to fix its ailing oil-production system. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is coming to Beijing with a delegation that includes his oil minister, is expected to ask Bering to revive a $1.2 billion oil exploration deal it established with Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule. Plagued by sabotage and theft amid the country's escalating violence, Iraq's oil fields have failed since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to return to production levels before the war. Meanwhile, China needs more oil to help sustain rising car-ownership rates and economic growth that have made the country the world's No. 2 oil consumer, after the U.S.

The story was ironic on so many levels where do I begin?

* Self-described “oilman,” George W. Bush and his energy-industry friendly sidekick, Dick along with their lip-licking oil industry army of engineers and consultants, failed to put Iraq's Humpty Oil-Drum-ty industry back together again. Now, tired of waiting, the new (US-backed) Iraqi government has turned to the Chinese for help.

* And how can the Chinese afford to take on such an expensive task? Well with all the dollars they have stacked up like cord wood thanks to the Bush administration's laissez faire trade policies. In fact, if the Chinese oilmen have a sense of humor they will name their first Iraqi field, “WalMart One.”)

* And what will the Chinese do with Iraq's oil? Some will go to fuel the millions of autos all those Chinese factory workers can now afford, thanks to all the stuff they make and sell to Americans. And some of the oil – and oil revenue – will go directly into the mushrooming Chinese military establishment the Bush administration now calls "a growing threat to regional stability."

* It was reported that this week China had finally surpassed the US as the world's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The availability of Iraq's oil will only lessen China's incentive to find cleaner alternative fuels.
 
* When Bush toppled Saddam's regime, the only building US troops were ordered to protect was the Iraqi Oil Ministry. One can assume the plan was, that while the rest of Iraq's government buildings – including the museums -- were looted and burned, American oil execs would at least be able to hit the ground running in the intact Iraq Oil Ministry building. The funny part -- now it's the Chinese who are measuring those offices for drapes.

* The Iraqis figured Americans were the smartest people in on earth and, while we screwed up their entire country and killed who knows how many of their civilians, that we'd at least be able to fix what we broke and making it better than ever. Instead we've done neither. So, as Bush once tried to say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” the Iraqis are not going for twice. Instead they are looking for new, more competent, friends, like the Chinese.

* It's not that the Bushies didn't provide value to at least some Iraqis. I mean, they dumped nearly a trillion US dollars into that sand pit. And now our own government auditors say tens of billions of those dollars are, well, “unaccounted for.” While unaccounted for as far as US taxpayers are concerned, rest assured those billions are enjoying Swiss hospitality. (And you can bet the Chinese will not be as stupid.) But now, with their “Get-out-of-Dodge-in-an-emergency” accounts topped off with US dollars, Iraqi officials are looking to the Chinese to put their oil industry back on it's feet.

Oh hell, I could go on and on and on with the ironies. But beyond irony that story was just one more piece in a mounting mountain of evidence that the Bush/Cheney administration can't do anything right, even when they are trying to do what they do best – being bad to the core.

Let's see, besides failing to corner the market on Iraq oil by invading the place and killing tens of thousands of innocents in the process, they also:

Failed to protect America from the worst terrorist attack in our history on 9/11.

Under the guise of denying terrorists safe havens abroad, they turned a non-terrorist haven, Iraq, into the biggest terrorist haven on earth.

By turning their attention to Iraq before completing the job of eradicating the actual terrorists who hit us, al-Qaida in Afghanistan, those terrorists escaped, revitalized themselves and are now turning Afghanistan into an Iraq look-a-like.

When faced with their first real domestic emergency after 9/11 – Katrina – they screwed up on a level that can only be described as historic in the breath and depth of their utter incompetence.

They decided that a policy of benign neglect was the best way to manage the long-simmering Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which has now turned out to be a lot less benign than they figured. (Can you spell H-a-m-a-s and G-a-z-a?)

They figured the best way to teach the North Koreans a lesson they won't forget is to refuse to talk to them, thanks to which the North Koreans can now talk turkey with nukes.

They figured the best way to teach the Iranians a lesson was to refuse to talk to them either, thanks to which Iran now has the most advanced nuclear fuel enrichment program in the region and is well on it's way to having nukes too.

They figured that the best way to control illegal immigration was to leave it up to employers to decide if they valued following existing laws more than they valued their bottom line. (Guess which they chose... Duh!)

They launched two shooting wars but did nothing to beef up military medical infrastructure to deal with the thousands of wounded soldiers that would inevitably have to be cared for. (Remembert Walter Reed? Tip of the iceberg.)

They decided to tighten border controls by requiring the millions of Americans who pass back and forth over the Mexican and Canadian borders to have US passports. Then they did almost nothing to prepare for when all those law-abiding American complied by applying for passports.

Even melting ice caps and rising sea levels could not dissuade them from their belief that global warming was some kind of cooked scheme by liberals to hurt the economy and/or sully the reputation of those fine energy companies.

They show more concern for one-day old, multi-celled blastocysts than they do for the thousands of full-term children that dying in Darfur or the millions of full-term humans who die every year from diseases that might be cured by fetal stem cell research.

They believed that outsourcing skilled US jobs to cheap-labor countries would provide higher profits for US companies and cheaper prices for US worker/consumers. And both turned out to be true. Corporate profits are at record highs and prices at places like WalMart have never been lower. Unfortunately the low-wage US jobs that replace the higher paying jobs that were outsourced means that US worker/consumers can now only afford to shop at places like WalMart making it America's modern version of the company store.

While they embraced “the magic of free markets” everywhere else, they decided to spare large pharmaceutical companies from the rigors of that marketplace by making it illegal for Medicare to negotiate volume discounts on drugs, meaning no magic for consumers – just higher and higher drug prices.

Another place they decided there would be no marketplace magic is in health care. Instead they let the insurance industry cherry pick who they will and will not cover and what procedures they will pay for and not pay for. Those who they consider too risky to cover – as in actually likely to need medical services – end up getting those services at taxpayer expense. Which explains why HMO and health insurance companies rack up higher and higher profits even as fewer and fewer Americans can afford health insurance – 47 million and counting. For the health insurance companies it's “heads they win, tails we lose.” marketplace magic. We should all get such a deal.

The Bushies still have an agency that bears the name, Department of Justice, but they've turned it into an RNC political militia. and protection racket. (You got a problem with that?)

The chief law enforcement official in the nation, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has lied under oath before Congress, misused his office for political purposes, sanctioned torture, secret prisons and suspension of Habeas Corpus. (Seems the Bushies learned more from the Iraqis about gaming a democracy than they taught the Iraqis about creating one.)

Oh my. That's quite a list. And I bet you could add to it. But hey, who's counting – any more. We are beyond counting now. Now we are all just waiting, counting the hours, minutes and seconds when this nightmare will end. Then will begin the long, and what will surely be a mind-bogglingly expensive, task of fixing what these careless, conniving and criminally incompetent morons broke during their 8-years at the controls.

As part of that process Americans deserve some form of recourse. We may not be able to get at these guys while they're still in office. Time is (thankfully) too short for that, and they've fortified themselves in ways that only those in power can. But once out of office we must, as a nation, demand accountability and recourse. I would, of course, prefer to see them face the kind of criminal charges they so richly deserve. But legal immunity issues are likely to preclude that.

So, if instead we have to dog them to their graves with civil actions, where they are forced to testify under oath, and where they will turn on one another as crooks always do, and spill the beans on each other, and where juries of OUR peers hand down gigantic financial judgments against them, then make it so.

And count me in as Plaintiff No. 1.
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