11 May 2011

Giving Aid and Comfort to Those “Beyond Working Years”

David Brooks hates the elderly, or at least spending government money on their health care.  It is a waste of national resources, drives up the deficit, delays economic recovery, and saps us of our precious bodily fluids.  My apologies for not being able to critique his column in the original

29 Apr 2011

Royal Weddings and the Rule of Law

Apart from taxes & tyranny, warm beer and the Beatles, Robin Hood and Royal Weddings, what has England ever given us?  For starters, the rule of law. We talk about it here a lot, about how it no longer seems to apply to government and corporate elites.  Like a hole

22 Apr 2011

Bobo’s Good Friday Sermon – South Park and Tolerance Are Right Out

David Brooks went to the theatuh.  Actually, he saw a Broadway musical comedy called, The Book of Mormon.  Its plot summary might read, missionary meets bible at the School for the Performing Arts; a fan of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby yells, Road Trip to Uganda! Its theme is that

19 Apr 2011

Documents Show The US & Britain Held Talks With Big Oil Before The Iraq War

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="350" caption="Night View of Oil Well Fires by airborneshodan, on Flickr"]Night View of Oil Well Fires[/caption]

The Guardian has a breaking story about suspected, but officially denied, discussions held between British government ministers and oil industry executives about how to carve up Iraq’s oil fields after the 2003 Iraq War.

More than 1,000 documents were released after a five-year battle under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act. They provide evidence that British and US governments held talks with major oil companies in October and November 2002 about allocating contracts to develop Iraq’s oil after the war.

Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show….

The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.

The memos document British concerns that the US would retain exclusive control over Iraqi oil development contracts and that it might cut out Shell and BP:

The papers show that Lady Symons [Trade Minister in 2002] agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP’s behalf because the oil giant feared it was being “locked out” of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.

Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: “Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.”

The Guardian includes this chart, which shows Iraq’s principal oil fields and the foreign companies currently developing them. BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon feature prominently. Without a war, those contracts would have been controlled by Saddam Hussein, subject to the international trade embargo imposed by the UN.

In the run-up to the war, British Prime Minister Tony Blair became Mr. Bush’s staunchest ally. Their stated goals were to “free Iraq” and to prevent its abuse of weapons of mass destruction. They famously warned the world that its first awareness of such abuse could be a mushroom cloud from an exploded Iraqi nuclear bomb.

Through 2002 and into early 2003, however, the US and Britain publicly maintained that all options were on the table, that war was not inevitable, and that Mr. Hussein could avert it by admitting that he possessed WMD’s and by demobilizing them under international auspices. Those claims were questioned at the time and frequently challenged afterwords, though rarely by the mainstream media. No WMD’s were ever found.

27 Mar 2011

Geraldine Ferraro is Dead at 75: She Ended “The Men’s Club”

Talking politics is, in some ways, like talking baseball. You talk about the history, the lore, the stats, the trivia. And you remember when barriers are broken. Before there was Hillary, before there was Sarah Palin, there was Geraldine Ferraro. In 1984, at the height of the Ronald Reagan-Gordon Gekko

26 Mar 2011

Gitmo Psychologist Larry James Appointed to White House Panel on the “Well-Being” of the American Military Family

Barack Obama is worried about the “psychological well-being” of the American military family.   He should be.  His and Mr. Bush’s wars are generating tens of thousands of physically and mentally wounded  veterans.  PTSD rates are high.  Families living with multiple deployments are sometimes at wits end to meet expenses, and

19 Mar 2011

David Brooks: In Search of Social Animals

David Brooks is a Social Animal.  The subtitle of his new book with that title is more revealing, but still a teaser: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement.   That’s not a Danielle Steele bodice ripper or the Eighth Secret of Success.  It is Bobo’s survey of recent work

18 Mar 2011

Quake Responses: Do People Help Or Are They The Problem?

Japan’s triple calamity of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster is one week old.  450,000 are homeless in freezing weather.  Water, food, heat and medical help are rationed.  340,000 are still without power.  Whole towns have been washed out to sea, four trains remain buried beneath the rubble, many of the

22 Feb 2011

Walkerism Going National?

Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker is working to a game plan marketed by his promoters, the Koch Brothers and the Bradley Foundation (Koch pere and Bradley helped found the John Birch Society). That plan almost certainly comes from the same minds that are backing Cameron’s investment banker’s dream, cloaked in the fig leaf called the Big Society.

06 Feb 2011

AOL Buys HuffPost for $315 Million

The New York Times’ take on Ms. Huffington’s sale of her company to AOL for $300 million in cash and $15 million in stock, and AOL giving her responsibility for a newly-formed AOL business group: Arianna Huffington, the cable talk show pundit, author and doyenne of the political left, will