Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Mystery Of The Sub-Continent

We're all fairly aware of the troubles in Pakistan: suspension of civil rights, a madman desperately holding onto power by playing the terror card, a woman poised to reclaimer family's rule, a nation deeply torn by radical political views....yes, I'm still talking about as I pondered these things this week, I wondered about something.

Pakistan and India have long had enmity and conflict with each other. At one point, in 1998, they each showed the other its dick by testing nuclear weapons and missile systems.

So why has India kept so quiet over a turmoil in its neighbor's house? There seems to be an answer and it's the horns of the dilemma India finds itself on:
Delhi has a very high stake in the political and security situation in Pakistan stabilising as soon as possible. The future of a tentative peace process that has been under way for nearly four years depends on this.

But increasingly, it is alarmed at the intensity of the confrontation between the Pakistani military and militants in the volatile tribal areas.

Historically some of the militant groups in Pakistan have had links with militants fighting Indian forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.

In the past few years the level of violence in Kashmir has come down and India is keen to keep a lid on it.

India fears a worsening of the situation in disputed Kashmir

But there's a growing perception here that the militants are gaining some ground in Pakistan, a situation which has huge potential consequences for India.
So we see this: India has kept to the sidelines because Musharraf has cracked down on the militants, which means Kashmir has been much more peaceful, while on the other hand, it sees the very same militant groups that it is battling in Kashmir positioning themselves to take power (and the Pakistani nukes).

In other words, as it stands down, it simultaneously has had to stay alert.

Another dilemma: by their silence, India has supported Musharraf. Now that Benazir Bhutto is back, there's a conflict: do you back the dictator who's power structure is shaky, or the former president who is not a guarantee of peace in Pakistan, and is not officially backed by the United States, so not even guaranteed a seat at the table?

The US has remained fairly neutral throughout the history of the India-Pakistan conflicts, with a small lean towards India (world's largest democracy, after all, and a great place to outsource jobs to), until September 11, when the US made a strategic decision to hop under the covers with Musharraf. That couldn't have made India happy, although I'm sure it understood the need.

What you may not be aware of, however, is that shortly after that new approach to Pakistan by the US, the conflict in Kashmir intensified, including a bombing in the Indian parliament. By 2002, Musharraf promised hsi crackdown on the Kashmir militants, and by 2003, things had started to settle down.

A very difficult, complicated puzzle is in place, but then, India invented chess. One would imagine they have some experience in these.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Music Blogging

Annie Lennox - Walking On Broken Glass

I thoroughly fell in love with Annie Lennox when "Sweet Dreams" hit the radio. This song cemented my passion.

Friday Cat Kitten Blogging

I iz tiered after hepping Dadby wen hez my award

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) is Rudy going to have as much Teflon as Ronald Reagan? Or John Gotti, the man Rudy tried many times to put away, only to fail and leave the job to someone else?

2) If you really want the skinny on Rudy Giuliani, look no further than Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice.

3) And when will Rudy's famous temper finally let go on the hustings? He's come close a couple of times, but if he gets hounded on the Kerik case (his answers have been pretty lame..."mayors make 100,000 decisions, not all of them good ones"...what does he think a President does?), look for him to lose it completely.

4) I wonder what happened to make this come about? *Carlyledividendhighoilprices*...pardon me, I just sneezed!

5) Does anyone seriously believe free elections will be held in Pakistan anytime soon? I'm worried this is a training ground for Bush operatives for next year.

6) Ten-foot high seas in Britain and the Netherlands. This might not be a disaster, but it has potential.

7) Hm, I wonder when reknowned language expert (and wingnut) Barry Farber will master this one? Maybe they can convince him that global warming is a real threat...

8) The market downturn will continue at least well into next week, as more and more bank report losses from the credit crunch. No one to blame but themselves and their greed, but as usual in a Republican administration, their losses will be socialized. Yours won't.

9) Maybe Myanmar might make it back from the brink? Sure hope this is the start of a good thing.

10) Could it be that goodwill is contagious? Expect the right wing to have a kerfuffle on this one.

11) Hm. I smell a piece of Internet performance art here...

12) Conspicuous consumption, it even includes eating gold.

13) Ah vunder wheech side hee'll terminade...

14) On a related note, a bit of fun with right-wingers...who are suing their publisher for unfair treatment! They got published! They should be grateful...

15) And finally, it's official. Simply Left Behind won its Weblog Award. The judges decision is now final. I can have my life back.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thank You

I'm not sure where to begin, but I remember from my journalism classes that the lede should always have the most important fact in any story, or at least the most immediate one.

Thank you, all of you. Based on the final vote total, and barring any judge's decision to the contrary (remember, it's not your vote that counts but who counts the vote), Simply Left Behind has won the 2007 Weblog Award for the Best Blog, 5001st through 6750th...

This blog had much stacked against it: Whiskeyfire draws 30 times the number of visitors than Simply Left Behind. Had he wanted to, Thers could have crushed SLB. Likewise for The Stupid Shall Be Punished, the "liberal" from Idaho (which means by New York standards, pretty conservative, but I intend over the next few days to explore that blog further), which outdraws SLB by a factor of ten.

In truth, I missed that I was a finalist until the second day of voting, when I got an e-mail from someone who stumbled across the category. So not only was I outgunned, I was taken off-guard.

I truly did not expect to be named a finalist. So many awards in Blogtopia (© Skippy) attract so many entries, and this little pony of a blog never seemed to get noticed amdist all the thoroughbreds. I was thrilled that Miss Cellania, among others (including me...I'm never above a cheap self-promoting stunt :-D ), named me for consideration.

And shocked when I found myself in a race. After lacing...OK, velcroing (I'm from Noo Yawk, and need to move fast), and starting from several hundred votes down, I decided to give it a shot.

After all, it may be the only one I do win. I was in the right place at the right time, but I have a fairly loyal opposition who was determined to see me lose. How do I know this?

From a few comments sprinkled about Blogtopia (© Skippy) whereby people admitted in the open their dislike for me, and hinted that they would stop me from winning by any means at their disposal.

Knowing the nature (and identity, I should add) of some of these people, and guessing at the rest, I realized it would take something like 900 votes to win.

I also know that, as SLB gains notoriety, and is considered for more awards, I will be up against serious competition from the right-wing, which as I noted earlier this week, can self-organize like amoebae on a turd. This is, in large part, why I think this might be SLB's one shot at the brass ring.

Both of these, the right wing presence as well as my troll-ring, play to a weakness of mine: I like to goad people who don't like me-- and are disagreeable about it-- on, which just makes them angrier at me, and just makes them more determined to take me down a peg.

Which plays to a strength of mine, one I'm pretty sure my fanbois didn't take into account: my determination. I want to thank my fanbois for making me care about this race. When I first realized how far behind I was, I was merely determined to put up a good show, maybe latch down third, with a few hundred votes, make SLB respectable.

When I saw the enmity and spite being posted towards me, I wanted this! I had something to prove. There were times during the past week when I thought about conceding that I couldn't catch up, that this troll-presence had too big a lead and too big an advantage and hated me more than I wanted the win. And then I found more strength, and forced myself to work just that much harder...I thought if I kept it close enough until Wednesday, I could dig up a few hundred or so one-off votes around the Internets.

SLB had a lot more going for it than my determination, however. It had you folks, first of all. There may not be as many of you as so many other blogs seem to attract, but you are loyal and generous. As I said in my e-mail to my mailing list last night, this blog isn't about me, even if it features me and my opinions. It's about you:
I believe in this blog as an example of what's right about the Internet, a place to read and think and discuss, and to take something away from that can make a difference.

And YOU guys make that difference! Me, I just write. It's you guys that are the inspiration for all this.
I started this blog after being egged on by katrina, precisely because she read in my words on other blogs that which needed to be let out: my mind. I want to thank her, especially, for giving me the courage and idea for SLB. And I want to thank ThumbPer, too, for his wonderful support of this blog, and allowing me to annoy him (and you) weekly for his posts.

Too, SLB's win as a group effort had a lot more going for it from you guys. I don't think my opposition counted on the fact that among my friends I count more than one OCD sufferer. To my friends who really dug in deep and talked up this blog, thank you.

Another asset is a daughter at one of the biggest public universities in the world, who has friends that span the globe...and who was desperate for tickets to a concert this weekend. To you, my child, I owe a large vote of thanks.

I should also like to praise Thers and Whiskeyfire. It's a fine blog...hell, James WOLCOTT has referenced it, and for too long it has not appeared on my blogroll, nor been darkened by my shadow, an oversight I intend to correct. Thers has been nothing but gracious and ethical about this entire thing even in the face of my own belchings, and deserves a heartfelt thank you. He rocks!

Even Bubblehead has shown a good sense of humour about all this, and I thank him, despite his apparent hope that I'd be distracted by the Kucinich impeachment I do to all the other contestants, each of whom deserved his or her place on the roster. Any of them deserved this award as much as SLB

I owe a very large debt of gratitude to John Amato, Nicole Belle, Blue Gal, and especially Mike Finn over at Crooks&Liars, for allowing me to post links to the voting from their blog, and to Mike in particular for allowing me a turn at the wheel of his Blog Round Up. Mike has always been particularly kind to SLB, posting links and such.

Which brings up another debt I have: to Dame Fortune, Lady Luck, or the love of Jesus in my sea-blue eyes. If this contest had been any other week, I likely would have been creamed like a porn star in a "multiples" money shot, but it happened the one week that I was guest blogging at an enormous site. I cannot discount the great cosmic wheel.

The record will show that SLB beat Whiskeyfire. The truth is very different. Since history is written by the victors, let me set the record straight: SLB captured the most votes because of the graciousness of Thers.

But Whiskeyfire won the race off the tally sheet.


Let's Talk About Sex

There's simply no excuse any longer: women are the equal of men. Period. End of discussion. Why in ANY country they should be treated as lesser citizens, nevermind the United States, is beyond my comprehension:
GENEVA (Reuters) - Nordic countries again dominated the World Economic Forum's ranking of gender-equal countries, while New Zealand squeezed into the top five and the United States fell to 31st place.

Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland retained the top four spots in the 2007 Gender Gap Index released by the Swiss-based think tank on Thursday.

The Forum compared four areas: differences between men and women's salaries, access to education, political representation and health including life expectancy.

Nordic countries were "strong performers" in all four areas, although "no country has yet achieved gender equality", it said. All four countries improved their scores for women's economic participation, driven mainly by a decreasing gap between women and men's labor force participation rates and salaries.
Sure, some ass is going to point out that woman are physically inferior in some rigged, arbitrary way (perhaps raw anerobic power), and someone else will point out that women score consistently lower on some arbitrary, rigged scale, say math and science scores in schools.

Bullshit. Men score way lower on other scales than women and if THOSE scales were the ones used to decide opportunity and by inference wealth and power, I'd be wearing a gold lamé thong and serving drinks poolside.

(ed note:Don't even go there, Mt Video!!!!)

Not that I'm making an endorsement here, but do you want to know a strong reason to vote for Hillary? Here's one:
The United States, the world's leading economy which had ranked 23rd in 2006, fell back as a result of weaker economic and employment opportunities for women, though female political empowerment improved somewhat over the year, the Forum said.
Don't you agree that this is a horrendous statistic? Not only are women hurt more by our national policies, things are not getting better, but worse!

And yet, our President touts the "strong economy" and spinning the most positive silk out of a pile of feces. Trouble is, the silk still stinks and doesn't look good.

My god, we're 25 places behind the Phillipines, and nine behind Cuba for Christ's sake!

I'm sure some wiseass right-wing white male will point out that Switzerland fell into 40th...gee, that's small comfort to the single mom in Kentucky who's struggling to raise two kids while having been let go from the only job she's ever loved, and debating whether to work at Wal-Mart or move.

Is anybody out there? Does anybody care? We risk our entire nation with these offensive and oppressive policies towards people that need our help. In the global economy, with global threats to our nation and her citizens, and with the opening of borders all around the globe, to deny ourselves the resources-- the full abilities, intellect, talents, and efforts as full partners-- of half of our population is not just disgraceful, but idiotic.

(Full rankings's an Excel file. PDF version is here.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

The Man Song - Sean Morey

I first heard this song played on a radio station where I DJ'd a bit in Poughkeepsie, NY. It was put in heavy rotation by the morning crew. I always meant to grab a copy of the tape, but never got around to it.

I finally found it! Lyrics here

Soon, The Fun Begins....

Not much to say about this event, except I told you so...
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil sped above $98 a barrel for the first time on Wednesday, closing in on the landmark $100 level, driven by a slumping dollar and worries over a winter fuel supply crunch.

Analysts said it was only a matter of time before oil hit triple digits, with evidence of tightening stocks aiding a nearly 8 percent rise over the past two weeks alone.

"We're going to get $100 before too long," said Kevin Norrish of Barclays Capital.
The only surprise in this story for me is that it's happening about two months earlier than I anticipated. I assumed that OPEC would keep the price down until after the Christmas shopping season, in one of their usual gestures to the Bush presidency.

Little did I imagine that China would become such an influential player so quickly this year, and that the Iran crisis would piss off even the Saudis so much.

The peak per barrel price (adjusting for inflation) came during the 1979-1980 oil crisis. Today, that per barrel price was $101.70. We ain't far away, and that crisis helped topple a President and helped create stagflation, the twin punch of inflation without economic growth, and interest rates at record highs (the prime ended up at 20%!).

Now, of course, our oilmen in the White House have this all figured out, right? I mean, these guys are the experienced pros in this area and they ought to be able to formulate some policy that will help lower prices.

"Oil prices are too high," said spokeswoman Dana Perino. Oil sped above $98 a barrel for the first time on Wednesday, driven by a slumping dollar and worries over a winter fuel supply crunch. she turned slightly sideways to reveal her perky breasts to the press gaggle, while she plotted to get away from the Three Bears. She sounds like Dumb Blonde Barbie here.

It's not like this was an uncertainty, $100 a barrel. In fact, it was inevitable based on the laws of supply and demand. On The McLaughlin Group, Mort Zuckerman, a fairly astute businessman, all but said we are heading for a depression the likes of which this country has never seen.

Let me repeat that last bit: the likes of which this country has never seen. That says a lot. Zuckerman is no raving maniac in the desert of finance. He owns US News and World Report and the NY Daily News. I think we can assume he's somewhat conservative in his thinking.

And it's starting to be seen at the pump. Gas is up 16 cents over the past two weeks, averaging just under $3.00 for a gallon of regular. Just in time for the holiday season, the time when retailers make their profit margins for the entire year.

This is not going to be pretty. The lag time between oil spikes and gasoline spikes is now in motion. $3.75 a gallon is a nasty Christmas present.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On Voting, Elections, And Winning

If I've learned anything from the Weblog Awards race that Simply Left Behind is involved with, and the ancillary races at that site, it's this:
Getting Democrats and liberals to unite is like herding cats
And there's the difference between us and conservatives.

Ironic, isn't it?

Go take a look at the "Best Blog" categories, or "Best Community" or "Best Individual Blogger". Factor out the non-political blogs (like Fark or PostSecret) and you can see that the right wing has committed pretty substantial resources to their voting, and the liberal blogs have had to scramble to respond.

In particular, look at the Individual Blogger category: Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, is running away with the vote.

I won't like to his site, but I will link to Instaputz, where you can click through and annoy Glenn at the same time.

Read his blog, pick a post, nearly any post. He says...nothing. He writes a short blurb, and links to someone else's thoughts.

That's blogging? Notice, not even a comments thread...

And yet, he manages to draw a cadre of lockstep voters who will vote for him no matter what the circumstance. Not surprisingly, they're part of the 24 percenters.

What happens online happens in real life in this instance, and this is what troubles me about Democrats in general.

Look, we who are progressive know the majority of the country agrees with us, agrees with our values, values that transcend religious and class lines: we believe in doing good for other people, and if you have the power to do more good for people than someone else, you should try to.

This is what we believe about government: government has the power to solve problems that individuals or smaller groups cannot.

Remember that quote at the top of my blog?
"Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things...every one! So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'Liberal,' as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won't work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor."
We couldn't have done all that without the power of the government, at all levels, behind us.

We would find it immoral, in fact, not to use that power to do good for people who are less well off than we.

Like I said, values that are transcendant. Yet, that values argument got lost in the shuffle of hearing about gay marriage in Iowa, or pot-smoking hippies taking away guns. Those, it was claimed by the right, were not American values. A nonsensical straw man argument, to be sure, one that detracts from our nation's greatness, yet there it is.

But, because the right was unified on this point, because they hammered the point home relentlessly like tens of millions of chimpanzees on toy pianos, and we on the left couldn't mount an effective rebuttal, our values were subsumed.

Want a vast right wing conspiracy? There it is. It doesn't have to be a formal network of talking points passed among millions (altho at times, it has been just that, as churches and sermons became political advertisements). All it needs is a bellwether.

The chimps pick up the rest. You see this behavior in the trolls that infest blogs across Blogtopia (© Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo). You hear this behavior in any sports bar that's dumb enough to allow one loud drunk to monopolize the dialogue at the risk of having a brawl break out.

And yet we on the left don't fight back hard enough. And that costs us votes.


Part of it, I think, is that we assume that, because we hold a moral, valuable position, that people will naturally gravitate to us, light a light on a porch in the summer that attracts moths. The force of our ideas, beacons in the darkness, will shine through and people will do the right thing.

Like the herd of cats, what keeps us together isn't a perception that we have to be together, but a general agreement that we share a basic understanding of the universe and that we can agree on reality. Or maybe it's just a giant food dish. I haven't quite worked that bit out.

We on the left won't put up the fight when it's needed, until it may be too late.

Take the 2000 election: we wanted Gore to contest it to the bitter end, but how many of us Monday morning quarterbacks were out there, shaking hands, handing out fliers, making the phone calls, when it would have made a difference to Gore's campaign?

I suspect far fewer than were wringing hands about Gore's reluctance to overturn the Constitution.

Or 2004: What would have happened if, while Kerry sat back reluctant to fight the really ugly fight with the Swift Boaters, we on the left picked up the cudgel and took the fight to them?

Think that's not necessary? It wasn't the Bush campaign that "exposed" the Dan Rather memo: it was the blogosphere. They took up a fight they knew the candidate could not battle directly, and managed to turn what should have been a well-documented, factually vetted act of treason on the part of a future President into a method of exorcising a "liberal bugbear."

In short, they hate us, and we don't hate them nearly enough.

We have to dig deeper and pick up our game. Next year's election is 366 days away, and that might be the longest 366 days in the history of this country if we don't start fighting back now with every weapon at our disposal.

That means, go out and vote today, for a starter, even if all you have on your ballot is a bond proposal to help a small community of 71 families find a fresh water supply to replace the one that's drying up. It doesn't matter that it will win in a landslide with or without your vote.

It matters that YOU voted!

That's just the start. Tomorrow, you start paying attention to what people on the other side say to you, even the loud drunks in the bar, and you find a way to confront them and let people around you SEE and HEAR that there is an opposing progressive viewpoint.

Don't let them take the drunk at his word that he's right and everyone else is entitled to his opinion, because believe it or not, some people will assume that he is right because no one is debating the issue with him.

The next day, you write a letter to the local newspaper and take a stance that opposes the right wing viewpoints that some other letter writer has expressed. Even if it doesn't get printed, the editors read it, and they calculate it into their own editorials and their news decisions. They have an audience of customers to serve, and if they think the only customers they have are conservatives, well guess what kind of news you're going to get!

And then the next day, you write a letter to your local politician: mayor, Congresscritter, Senator, governor, and you take a stand on an issue.

Ask questions. Let them know YOU care. The more liberals who do this, the more they have to pay attention.

The meek shall inherit the earth, it's been said, but the grumpy get promoted.

It's not just about us being right anymore. It's about us showing everyone else just precisely how we are right. It's about pitching in and showing that you care.

Even if it's a stupid election that means nothing out of context, because they care enough to try to cheat to win, we have to care enough to stop them.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Praying The Problem Goes Away

And just in time for Bush's "legacy" to kick in. Condoleeza Rice is trying to undo the damage of eight years of Bush neglect:
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Monday in voicing hope they could reach a peace agreement before President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009.

But wrapping up two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, she again gave no date for a U.S.-led conference which all parties have said would serve as a launching pad for statehood negotiations.

Rice said only that the meeting, in Annapolis, Maryland, would take place "before the end of the year".

She offered no details on how Israel and the Palestinians might settle their deep divisions over core issues they have pledged to tackle after the conference: borders and the future of Jerusalem and millions of Palestinian refugees.
When we last saw a light at the end of the tunnel, Bill Clinton was President.

"The. Greatest. President. Ever." had a solution pretty nearly in hand, and had Yassir Arafat signed off on it, who knows where we'd be today?

Having chosen to leave this flashpoint and focus of anger alone to sort itself out until recently (turning their attention towards the ill-fated invasion of Iraq), the Bush administration had allowed things to get way out of hand before stepping in to try to settle things out.

And now? Well, saying peace is on "a wing and a prayer" is probably wishful thinking on our part. Yes, things have been quieter than they ever have been in this century. In 2003, the Bush administration, in a backhanded slap at both sides, negotiated a "road map" to peace, yet failed to insist in immediate implementation from either side, much less both sides.

Indeed, if anything, both sides have moved the goal posts back a bit with their actions in the wake of this agreement: Israel, rather than withdraw settlements, has done nothing to stop the expansion of some, and the Palestinians, rather than securing the border with Israel, have forced Israel to build walls and fences in some places.

Not good.

Other key aspects of the Middle East policy that the Bushies have pursued have also either frozen in place (like democratic reforms in regimes like Saudi Arabia or Syria) or backpedaled (the current crisis in Pakistan is a good example).

And now, Condi Rice believes that she can somehow wrangle cats into a line in less than fourteen months.

One suspects someone in the policy shop at the White House was watching too many episodes of The West Wing's sixth season.

Hey, I guess if you can't be President Bill Clinton, you can at least pretend to be his TV character!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Why Iraq Is The Rule, Rather Than The Exception

I.F. Stone once wrote that reporters should write the news so that, as the story develops, no one is ever surprised when they read their morning paper.

Issy was a smart man. I was surprised by this:
Who holds the world’s oil? You might assume it’s in the hands of big private oil companies like ExxonMobil. But in fact, 77 percent of the world’s oil reserves are held by national oil companies with no private equity, and there are 13 state-owned oil companies with more reserves than ExxonMobil, the largest multinational oil company. The popular perception in the United States is that if leaders of oil countries nationalize their oil, they are bucking a global trend toward privatization. In reality, nationalized oil is the trend. And the percentage of oil controlled by state-owned companies is likely to continue rising, mainly because of the demographics of oil. Deposits are being exhausted in wealthy countries — the ones that exploited their oil first and generally have the most private oil — and are being found largely in developing countries, where oil tends to belong to the state.

Nationalization is also a political trend in some regions, mainly Latin America, where the populist presidents of Bolivia and Ecuador have made it part of their discourse. They are led, of course, by Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. He has made private producers accept state control of their operations. When they wouldn’t, as in the case of ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, he simply nationalized their holdings. Chávez has also asserted his control over Venezuela’s state oil company, which before him operated very much like a private, profit-driven enterprise.
Meaning, for one thing, if you thought $100 for a barrell of oil was a lot, get used to it.

The upside of capitalism is it tends to make things cheaper and more efficient all around. There aren't many people who would disagree with that, in theory (practice being different in that no capitalist system really exists in the world).

The downside of capitalism is, as I just pointed out, its non-existence. While capitalist forms of economy thrive, they thrive in partnership with governments, or at least within the context of a political system.

In America, we see one side of this coin: eventually money, which always equals power, co-opts the government and turns it into a tool for a ruling class of some sort: a plutocracy.

In other nations, the government cuts out the middle man and goes straight for the profit. Since governments are not beholden to shareholders, they are free to play with markets and supply and demand as they see fit. Who's going to stop them? They hold two forms of power: political power and economic. It's very hard to overturn that kind of ruling class.

In fact, that kind of overthrow only happens when people get desperate enough to exploit the only true power they have: the power to disobey.

All governments are an illusion: the governed allow the governors to govern. If the governed get frustrated and angry enough, they just change the government. We're seeing this now in this country, as the nation slips slowly in a slightly more progressive direction, we've changed the governing party. The pendulum swings and once it starts, it's nearly impossible to stop until it swings too far in the other direction.

Similarly, all freedom is an illusion, again, as we've seen here in the past eight years. The government of this country, regardless of party, has given up being the bulwark against the predations of the not-so-free market and has full-throated decided to not only protect those markets, but to enhance them with regulatory mechanisms designed to close them to outside competitions.

Kinda....frustrates you....don't it? We can't exactly survive this threesome.

The fact that oil has been mostly nationalized now is an indication where the marriage of government and business can lead: if Chavez wanted to shut down Carcas for not "voting" for him, how hard would it be to stop oil refining in that region, then charge an arm and a leg to ship it in?

And doesn't the United States government already punish its opponents, to the detriment of its own security? How hard would it be to imagine American heating oil owned by the government, being used to freeze out the poor?

And then...there's foreign policy, which leads us back to the article. The more nationalized the oil industry becomes, the more likely it is that oil will be used as a weapon in an economic war that would eventually boil over into a military one. And so then, Iraq would have only been a test run.