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Sunday May 23, 2004

Congress is pressuring Bush to release stockpiles from the Strategic Reserve. This is short-sighted and a terrible idea, but you'd think that chuckie Schumer would be more knowledgeable than, say, me:

Last week, Democratic senators called for an oil swap from the reserves, similar to a plan enacted under the Clinton administration in 2000 to help Northeastern consumers deal with high home heating costs.

“The petroleum reserves are intended to provide relief at times when working families are struggling to make ends meet,” wrote Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a longtime advocate of manipulating reserve schedules, in a letter sent to the president last week. “That time is now.” (emphasis added)

Does Schumer really believe that, or is he just being intellectually dishonest to score political points? Basically, it boils down to is he ignorant or dishonest. Here's what an expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies has to say about the purpose of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“But [the reserve] was designed for emergency purposes, it was not designed for price manipulation,” he said. “We need to put this into perspective,”

But, I suspect all this is much ado about nothing. President Bush has already spelled out his view (from September 2000):

George W. Bush called Al Gore's proposal Thursday to tap the nation's strategic petroleum reserve a campaign ploy to drive down oil prices. He blamed the Clinton-Gore administration for soaring energy prices. The "bad public policy" would risk "long-term national security," Texas Gov. Bush said. "The strategic reserve is an insurance policy meant for a sudden disruption of our energy supply or for war," Bush said while meeting with area high-tech workers from a start-up firm, Thermagon Inc. "The strategic reserve should not be used as an attempt to drive down oil prices right before an election," said Bush, the GOP presidential nominee. "It should not be used for short-tem political gain at the cost of long-term national security."

Last week I posted an article which stated that Robert Mugabe was planning on retiring. Here's a story from The Atlantic which explains exactly how he raped the country:

In "How to Kill a Country" (December Atlantic), Power returns to Africa. This time, she has written about the latest tragedy on there: Zimbabwe. Independent from Britain since 1980, Zimbabwe is a fertile land that has long been considered the "breadbasket" of Africa. Yet in just the past five years, Zimbabwe's liberation leader, president Robert Mugabe, has managed to bring his country to chaos. Power spent a month in Zimbabwe last summer and then wrote a chilling analysis of the "all-systems assault" that Mugabe has launched against his own people. Power observes that Mugabe has compiled a veritable "how-to manual on national destruction" and has demonstrated "how much damage one man can do, very quickly."

Power argues that destroying a country Mugabe-style involves the following ten "steps":

Destroy the engine of productivity
Bury the truth
Crush dissent
Legislate the impossible
Teach hate
Scare off foreigners
Invade a neighbor
Ignore a deadly enemy
Commit genocide
Blame the imperialists

Read more about the country's descent into chaos in weekly letters by a Zimbabwean housewife, Cathy Buckle.

Since the end of February 2000 Zimbabwe has been a country in crisis. Hundreds of thousands of farm workers, managers and owners were thrown off their properties to make way for people who at first were called "peaceful demonstrators", then "land invaders," then "settler farmers" and are now called "new farmers." Homes were taken over, farmers and their workers were murdered, assaulted and terrorized, private property was looted, burnt or seized, and agricultural equipment and machinery became the property of the State. To make what our government calls this "Agrarian Revolution" look OK in the eyes of the world, Presidential Powers were used, the constitution was changed, court rulings were ignored and legislation and statutory instruments were gazetted in favour of the actions of the Zimbabwe government.

As each month and year passed Zimbabwe got hungrier, food got scarcer and inflation soared from 10 to 600 percent. No one really expected 2004 to be any better, particularly if we were to believe what we could see with our own eyes and even if we believed the propaganda churned out in Zimbabwe every day. As the country's main growing season approached last year, I wrote in my letter of the 9th August 2003: "Night after night on the State owned television there are desperate pleas from people who were allocated 7 hectare plots on farms. Plough for us, they cry, give us seed and fertilizer." Three weeks later I wrote: "This week even the State run newspapers announced that the seed companies could only provide 40% of national requirements." And, in October 2003, I wrote: "There is neither seed nor fertilizer to buy in the shops."

Saturday May 22, 2004

One more reason to be against the Bush amnesty plan (as if):

COVERED WELLS, Ariz., May 20 — At the bottleneck of human smuggling here in the Sonoran Desert, illegal immigrants are dying in record numbers as they try to cross from Mexico into the United States in the wake of a new Bush administration amnesty proposal that is being perceived by some migrants as a magnet to cross. "The season of death," as Robert C. Bonner, the commissioner in charge of the Border Patrol, calls the hot months, has only just begun, and already 61 people have died in the Arizona border region since last Oct. 1, according to the Mexican Interior Ministry — triple the pace of the previous year.

The Border Patrol, which counts only bodies that it processes, says 43 people have died near the Arizona border since the start of its fiscal year on Oct. 1, more than in any other year in the same period. Leon Stroud, a Border Patrol agent who is part of a squad that has the dual job of arresting illegal immigrants and trying to save their lives, said he had seen 34 bodies in the last year. In Border Patrol parlance, a dead car and a dead migrant are the same thing — a "10-7" — but Mr. Stroud said he had never gotten used to the loss of life.

"The hardest thing was, I sat with this 15-year-old kid next to the body of his dad," said Mr. Stroud, a Texan who speaks fluent Spanish. "His dad had been a cook. He was too fat to be trying to cross this border. We built a fire and I tried to console him. It was tough."

Hey man, don't sugar coat it. Tell it like it is:

Day in and day out, al-Katie Quric rattles the skeleton of the Abu Ghraib prison affair. In the middle of a war, Botox Nancy Pelosi calls the Commander-In-Chief incompetent, and Terry "The 18 Million Dollar Man" McAuliffe rushes to agree with her. Chappaquiddick Ted Kennedy bloviates about Iraq as "George Bush's Vietnam".

The Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) pull out all the stops to politicize the war, and defeat President Bush. They've run "campaign finance reform" over like roadkill, and are talking about jimmying their upcoming Boston nominating convention to beat the system.

More prison Egypt.

Dozens of Palestinians in Gaza demanded Saturday the immediate release of Palestinian prisoners held in Egypt and called for punishing their torturers...Family members accused Egyptian prison guards of torturing the Palestinian mujahedeen (fighters) and preventing them from receiving medical care.

Also in France. Mon Dieu!

'It starts off by being stripped naked in front of 10 police officers including two women, gratutious humiliation is used to break you down.' '... worst jail that you can possibly imagine.' 'Not even a hole to go to the bathroom. You have to piss against a wall and you sleep in piss on the concrete floor.' The torture victim demands 'the immediate shutdown of this secret underground prison'. It's not at Abu Ghraib, it's in Marseille, France.

Took a week off of blogging--mostly due to access issues (and yes, lack of time). Here's a bit about blogging burnout. I don't think I suffer...yet.