Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lava Brothers Dedicate 1st Video to Obama

Jesse, Gabe, and Josh Lava, also known as The Lava Brothers, have dedicated their first music video to a pro-Obama cause. The video set to their song "Today."

The video was edited by Doyle LaCrua. The music was produced by Andy Thompson. The song comes from otheir debut album, "Waking Birds Will Harmonize," available here. I've had the CD for a while now...and love it.

US Pact with India Frees Big Oil to Continue Their Reign

It seems, in these days of economic crisis, that the only business that's flourishing is Big Oil. I just read a rumor [Reuters] that the Indian state-run oil producer ONGC will seal its deal to buy Russia’s Imperial Energy “any day now”. Exxon Mobil is partnered w/ONGC in the Sakhalin-1 Consortium, historically the largest foreign direct investment in Russia. ONGC is allegedly looking at a Kazakhstan-based oil company as well..hoping to explore and drill [baby drill] the Caspian shelf. Positive news for Exxon Mobil.

In 2003, ONGC paid a booming $1.7 billion to buy a stake in Exxon Mobil Corporation’s Sakhalin-I field. The Sakhalin-I project consists of three fields: Chayvo, Odoptu and Arkutun-Dagi offshore the north-east coast of Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East.

India's Petroleum Minister Murli Deora will go to Moscow this month to get Kremlin-approval for acquisition of Imperial Energy by ONGC. Vladimir Putin is head of the state apparatus by which takeovers in strategic sectors are approved.

With the recent the Indo-US nuclear deal there'll be more nuclear power generation in India. Because of the pact, ONGC will soon sign on w/State-owned Uranium Corporation of India for exploration & mining of fissile material.

The U.S. is hoping to keep India in their foreign policy orbit with this new agreement. Is this progress toward alternative energy and national security? Not exactly. It has too much to do with all the new [old-school] energy-related business. For more than 40 years, India has been one of the largest buyers of Russian-made weapons. Nearly 70 percent of India's military weapons are Russian-made and India has been a reliable customer of Russian metals, coal and fertilizers. The US sees a chance to move India away from Russia's FP orbit.

SO much has to change if we're going to see peace in our time. This stuff is more like a race to the non-creative bottom for the sake of energy hegemony for certain business interests.

There's also the Iran-India-Pakistan natural gas pipeline. I think the U.S. government felt the urgent need to get this bilateral agreement with India passed because of a proposed Iran-India-Pakistan natural gas pipeline that will supply both India and Pakistan with gas.

Pipelines. We all know how that tune goes. It's a dance that the US, Russia, Iran, and other nations know all too well. The US wants to keep India in its foreign policy orbit and out of Russia and Iran's. That's the way I see it, as cynical as it may sound. For those who can't resist the urge to deny reality, please try and contain yourselves and don't call me anti-American. Be more creative. Ask Exxon Mobil when our gas prices will go down here in the States. After all, things are going so nicely for them. Why shouldn't they want us to be happy for them instead of being the disgusting profit-maker that empties our meager pockets while the U.S. is falling on the hardest times we've known since the Great Depression?

Senator John Kerry said this week [WSJ]
U.S.-India relations must be about more than exchanging nuclear fuel or technology. The next president must work to achieve broad-based cooperation that reflects the shared principles, shared threats, and ever deepening ties between our two economies and societies.

As usual, Big Oil is King and the real diplomacy is left to the next President. What a nice thing for Exxon Mobil.



ONGC Says Credit Crisis Won't Hamper Imperial Deal Bloomberg News
Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India's biggest exploration company, said the global credit freeze won't hamper plans for its 1.4 billion-pound ($2.4 billion) acquisition of Imperial Energy.

US Government May Take Part Ownership in Banks

On the same day; same time we see this:

October 9, 2008, 3:22 pm
Dow 9,000!
Paul Krugman, Conscience of a Liberal Blog

Stock prices are, however, the least of our worries. The money markets are frozen; the TED spread is 4.14%.

G7 meeting tomorrow, IMF-World Bank over the weekend. Now is the time for major action - an announcement of coordinated capital injections, liquidity measures, and more. If we’ve had nothing except vague assurances by Monday...

We see this.....

- AP writers Joe Bel Bruno and Anne D'Innocenzio in New York, Christopher S. Rugaber in Washington and Pan Pylas in London contributed to this report.


For eight years the Bush administration and Republican rubber-stampers have pulled few punches in systematically drowning U.S. socialism in the bathtub. They've starved our States...only to realize they're all drowning us and future generations with the worst kind of socialism - the looming possibility of State-run banks. The collectivist society the Right has been warning you about seems to have been brought to your door by the Right and the leaders who've paid witch hunt-level lip service to it all these years. Go figure! Talk about creating, whether or not it's come down to being a necessary step, this final proof of no confidence in our banking system! In this, we see the stark revelation that we've been no better than a Banana Republic while corporations were given free reign to pillage innocent and trusting citizens while the financial institutions' pals in government looked the other way.... until it all fell out. Are you sick yet? As economist Paul Craig Roberts has said, the U.S. economy is "rudderless and reeling" due, in major part, to ill-advised financial deregulation.

Excerpt from economist Paul Craig Thomas:

"A country that had intelligent leaders would recognize its dire straits, stop its gratuitous wars, and slash its massive military budget, which exceeds that of the rest of the world combined. But a country whose foreign policy goal is world hegemony will continue on the path to destruction until the rest ... Read Moreof the world ceases to finance its existence.

Most Americans, including the presidential candidates and the media, are unaware that the US government today, now at this minute, is unable to finance its day to day operations and must rely on foreigners to purchase its bonds. The government pays the interest to foreigners by selling more bonds, and when the bonds come due, the government redeems the bonds by selling new bonds. The day the foreigners do not buy is the day the American people and their government are brought to reality.

This is not the financial position of a superpower."

You can hand me all the talking points you'd like about the benefits of this move by U.S. government. I know one inescapable fact: We've lost a lot more than MONEY by our leaders failing to look out for the public's best interest for so long.

World Hunger: "Just Because We Can't See It"

This is a student entry to the Hungerbytes TV Commercial Video Competition sponsored by the UN's World Food Programme. Created by: Shawn Cohen, Sandra Goffin, and Rosi Mosca-Herrera.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Quote on Today's Wall Street Losses

From the Associated Press [source:NPR]:

"It's hard to exaggerate
how bad things are.
Things are still
profoundly dislocated

- T.J. Marta, fixed-income analyst at RBC Capital Markets

Peggy Noonan: Patriotic Grace [Review]

Patriotic Grace - What It Is and Why We Need It Now
By Peggy Noonan

[Harper Collins]

In her new book "Patriotic Grace - What It Is and Why We Need It Now" [Harper Collins], Peggy Noonan seems determined to bridge many gaps. The first hint of that intent can be seen in the dedication of her book to, among a few others, the late Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert who bridged many gaps in his own all-too-short time. Noonan also dedicates the book to the two Senators running for President in the upcoming 2008 election. Despite many of her own opinions and statements of the past, which lean admittedly Conservative, it seems that she has written this book to encourage readers to open their arms to one another, whatever their philosophy or views. She forwards the belief that we're going to need each other to get down the proverbial stairs when a big issue faces the nation, as she believes it surely will sometime again in the future [using the stairs of the World Trade Center on 9/11 as a central analogy]. The current economic crisis might be a good example of such a large issue and, even though it wasn't as pressing an issue when the book was published, I believe Ms. Noonan has commented on the current crisis in light of her book's subject matter in some of her most recent appearances on television interviews about her book.

She describes patriotic grace as "a grace that takes the long view, apprehends the moment that we're in, comes up with ways of dealing with it, and eschews the politically cheap and manipulative."

Speaking to Americans without trying to impress a deliberate aura of fear upon them, she uses stories of her own experiences and the experiences of some others to remind us of some big questions often remaining in the back of our minds because of the scope of their barely conceivable impact, such as another attack on America...only this time more destructive to human life and property than 9/11. If [or when] this kind of attack should occur, and given what Ms. Noonan calls the true and demoralizing legacy of Hurricane Katrina where even the baseline responsibility given by the public to government was not met despite all of the inspirational rhetoric we'd heard, she imagines the public asking, "Is anyone really in charge? Is there a grown-up in the house?" She believes that today's American citizens wonder if the nation will be "up to the challenge [..] equal to the moment if the moment is big."

Noonan shows deep regret for the kind of "partisan gamesmanship", the "pointless enmity", and the "focus-group cynicism" in politics that serves to divide Americans into base-groups. She refers to one of her own 2006 Wall Street Journal "Declarations" columns as an expression of a new commitment to non-partisanship and increased fairness-of-opinion borne of a good faith yet hard look at realities for the sake of grace-in-patriotism:

"Autumn is the true American New Year. This is when we make our real resolutions.

The perfect fall has two things, present pleasure (new exhibits, shows, parties) and something to look forward to--for the political, the upcoming election.

Which is my subject. My resolution is to try in a renewed way, each day, and within my abilities, to be fair. I find myself thinking so much of William Meredith's poem about the advice he'd received from older writers: "Look hard at the world, they said--generously, if you can manage that, but hard."

Noonan bemoans the roughness of the current Presidential contenders' campaigns and the level of rage among their respective audiences - not necessarily speaking of the candidates themselves, but more of their freelance surrogates in the age of YouTube, the anonymous and destructive side of the Internet, the political action committees, the "thirty-one-year-old campaign operative who's eager to make a name for himself as cunning and devious" who strives to "kneecap the other guy in the modern media age". She calls, instead, for a "renewed bipartisan spirit, a new openness to constructive ideas" because "the age we live in is real, the challenges we face are real, and before this is over we'll all be helping each other down the stairs."

She now offers a frank criticism of the Bush years, even though she'd admittedly argued many times in support of various policies of George W. Bush. She frames Election 2000 as a time of understandable pain to Democrats and damage to the winning Republicans because of the resulting drama and diminished public faith in the electoral system and trust in vote-counting. The Iraq war served to split the nation further along party lines - - more divided as the war went on with no sign of an exit strategy or a clear or consistent definition of victory.

Understanding that the Iraq war was a hasty and divisive undertaking when it was far more demanding of public unity, trust, and support - - especially with the crisis of traumatic impact following the events of 9/11, Noonan sees how a future strategic necessity may be harder when it comes to convincing the trust-damaged public. She asks, "What happens at some future date if America truly must move - militarily, urgently, for its security, for the crucial protection of its strategic interests?" She acknowledges the Republican party's missteps as a cause for the reopening of the wounds of division that national unity after 9/11 had begun to heal. Republican leaders pointed fingers at the leaders of the Democratic Party and raising public doubt about their patriotism as debates continued on in the halls of Congress on the Iraq War. It's an example of what Peggy Noonan seems to be saying that "patriotic grace" should never be about.

"One of the biggest political stories of the Bush era has been the Republican Party's squandering of its reputation for foreign policy sanity. It took fifty years to build it. More than fifty years. It is a tragedy to see it go."

One of my personal favorite lines from Ms. Noonan's book is: "If you want to be a beacon, it's actually a very hard job." She spends a good part of her closing chapter talking about US foreign policy and outlining the work that she believes America, if it's to be a beacon for the rest of the world, will entail. She recommends that America should "pick itself up, dust itself off, and start all over again." she continues, "We have lost some of our standing in the world. We have lost some of our authority. We have lost some of our friends." She advocates for a priority to be put on Civil Defense and to tend to the frayed ties that once bound us with good will as an American society.

I would have loved to have seen Tim Russert interview Ms. Noonan about her book. I wish we'd had the opportunity for that. Perhaps, in his memory, we can strive to better understand and act, especially in the way we choose to speak with fellow citizens [being no less than honest after a hard look, but with good faith and in the spirit of listening for the same from the other side] for what is truly important for the common good - and for our democracy's health - if we truly want to repair our relations with other nations and be a realistic inspiration to world citizens. We'll never be able to do that if we can't even talk to each other. I think we have nothing to lose from taking the advice and much more to lose if we continue to fray at the common thread.

Sarah Palin, What Becomes A Beacon Most?

Hey, Sarah Palin, What Becomes A Beacon Most?

A Beacon Doesn't Scream

We've all heard about the Shining City on a Hill and many people, upon hearing the phrase alone, think of former President Ronald Reagan because he expertly employed the rhetoric that borrowed the phrase, attempting successfully to recreate an image of an America with beacon-like potential. It was actually John Winthrop, founding governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, who wrote the words so often co-opted by the Religious Right and their too-often-willing GOP partners. The words had deep roots in the Christian faith and in the fear of a vengeful God. They're words that likely inspired Manifest Destiny, where the unbiased eye of history has witnessed a collective turning of the head away from human rights as Native Americans were dehumanized to make room for the New Jerusalem.

In 21st century Catholic churches, we still sing the hymn based on Matthew 5:16. The "We" in the song is the body of Christ..the Church...which is not made solely of American citizens as I'm sure I do not need to tell you.
"We are the Light of the World.
Let our light shine before all,
That they may see the good that we do
And give glory to God."

Contrasting 17th-century Puritan Plymouth (before Ben Franklin) where the Bible was then the basis for the new land's society...and where tolerance and equal rights did not have center stage and where the new society's wilderness survival based upon religious principles was paramount, Andrew Bacevich analyzes VP candidate Gov Sarah Palin's words:
"But even more important is that world view that I share with John McCain. That world view that says that America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill, as President Reagan so beautifully said, that we are a beacon of hope and that we are unapologetic here. We are not perfect as a nation. But together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights."

In my view, Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan. She's borrowing the rhetoric from President Reagan at a time that is hardly befitting and, to boot, in hoisting American exceptionalism as a main sail with no honest eye on how the United States is currently viewed by millions of world citizens, she causes the ship branded "America" to appear as an oddly foundering vessel searching for a beacon rather than being a lighthouse.

Dr. Bacevich says,
Today no doubt, the eyes of all people are indeed on the United States - what happens here affects the world. Yet many of those who observe us don't like what they see. The question for Governor Palin and for other believers committed to the concept of American exceptionalism is this: have we kept the Lord's covenant? If not, perhaps the time has come to mend our ways before it's too late.

My question would be:
"We aren't apologetic here? My God, why not?"
I am a Christian citizen of a nation with a shorter history than most developed nations on the face of this small planet spinning around the sun. I believe that we are..and were from the beginning..a nation of well-intentioned and hopeful people who, through a decidedly misplaced sense of religious triumphalism and worldly-intentioned leadership all-too-often disguised as pious guidance, have lost a sense of fairness and empathy and decency....who forgot that their non-Christian brethren have been human beings fully deserving of equal treatment...who've lost track of the faith-based Golden Rule, and that is to love your neighbor as yourself because it's equal to loving God with all your heart, mind, and strength...

We all know what a beacon is, in a literal and figurative sense. It's a source of guidance or inspiration.

If we can't apologize for hiding our Native Americans away off the dusty reservation roads in our pursuit for the shine, we aren't a beacon.

If we can't apologize for bringing chaos, destruction, and war with no clear strategy or exit plan to a nation that had nothing to do with an attack upon America in pursuit of the shine, we aren't a beacon.

If we can't apologize for mistreating, torturing and even killing war prisoners who were in our care in pursuit of the shine, we aren't a beacon.

Personally speaking, my God is not an angry God. My God is a forgiving God who expects me to be the beacon. If our government actually worked the way in which our Founding brothers (and sisters) had intended, we'd each be individual examples of light and love and our democracy would reflect it without having to brag or even to lie about it.

My faith is personal, but I cannot keep it private in a world where a I see so many misguiding influences, either directly in the name of God or spoken with inference to religious influence for ideology's sake.

This is really quite simple when it comes right down to it. Fulfilling our personal responsibilities as Christians can only compliment our effectiveness as citizens if we bring our faith to the public square with the complete realization that we come, one by one, with common purpose, with respect, with empathy, and with humility. If you asked a neighbor if he or she thought our nation should be unapologetic and still expect to be "the beacon" as we move away from the past eight years as Governor Palin suggests, I'd wager that they'd have something to say that would surprise both her and John McCain.

Pursuing a foreign policy grounded in traditional American principles doesn't have to mean American exceptionalism. We can be far more visionary than that. We credit our Founding brothers with their ability to see beyond the years. Would they apologize today, if they were here and able to look back, for the scourge of slavery that ended up being a major issue in the bloody U.S. Civil War? Would they express regret over what happened to the people who originally lived on this land when the white men came to claim it as their own? Sweet Jesus, I hope they would.

America should BE exceptional without having to crow about it. A beacon doesn't scream. In the foreign policy of our best vision, we can encourage sustainability, a guard against climate change, global health issues, and development in poorer countries while creating markets within our own country to make the world sustainable, more secure, and filled with more fairness and opportunity for all of our children. To my way of thinking, this kind of foreign policy incorporates my Christian sensibilities as well as a worthy national goal where there will be no need for reconciliation after years of iniquity or a need to say we won't ask for national forgiveness later on while expecting others to have to search for the shine we're claiming as our own.