Biden and Oil Embargos

Two posts in a row referencing Biden. What fun!

During his appearance on This Week, Biden said that embargoing Iran's oil production would be an option for putting the maximum pressure on Tehran to forgo its nuclear ambitions. Iran's current production is around 4.5 million barrels per day (mbd), worldwide consumption is near 84mbd, and worldwide supply is above 85mbd. Given how inelastic the price of oil has proven to be, a shortfall of 3mbd on the world market could have drastic consequences.

While it may also be true that Iran could not weather such an embargo, since according to Biden "all their durable goods are imported," it is certainly the case that low oil costs are the basis of America's economy. A radical price hike would do us serious damage, perhaps as much as the Iranians, and is a reckless policy. Don't mess with my oil until we've got a President seriously putting us on the road to energy independence.


Message Test - Ignoring Facts Gets You Into War

Joe Biden just missed a golden opportunity that I would have swung at. That doesn't happen often, given his feistiness. Biden characterized the cascading failure in Iraq as a "disaster," to which Sen. Allen reposted with: "We can't get so depressed about it that we ensure failure."

Here was my reply, ranting at the tv:

That's really the Republican Bush supporter's thinking encapsulated, isn't it? "We can't get so depressed by the facts on the ground that we ensure failure." I never said I was depressed, but I do think the likely outcome in Iraq is a disaster because of the facts on the ground. And since the facts are what convince people of this, the only way to march forward with a happy face is to ignore the facts. Ignore the facts that lead to a conclusion you don't like. It's that precise philosophy towards facts and empiricism that got us into this war in the first place! Hell, you wouldn't want someone with that philosophy to build your HOUSE, much less invade and rebuild a country!

Furthermore, it's classic tinker-bell logic. "If we only clap louder," my colleague says, "and we'll win the war in Iraq!" No, clearly we need an actual plan on the ground to deal with the facts on the ground. But you can't have a real plan without acknowledging the real facts. I'm telling you, this is the same thinking that got us into the war in the first place, and made us lose so many good men for a corrupt, militia-ridden, Iranian vassal state "democracy?"



Kevin Drum offers possibilities for the ultimate outcome of the Dubai Ports Deal:
  1. The full House and Senate concur and then George Bush backs down from his promise to veto any attempt to kill the deal. This could be facilitated by some kind of "new information" that Bush claims to have been previously unaware of.

  2. Bush vetoes the bill and Congress overrides. Bush is humiliated.

  3. Congressional leaders manage to fudge the issue in such a way that Bush can sign the bill while still pretending to stick to his guns. Since Dems will fight this, Republicans would have to be almost 100% united to pull it off

My money is on a fourth option. All of Kevin's choices involve a political loss for the President, and god knows that the powers that be wouldn't allow that. It seems likely that the Administration will invent some gambit whereby they save face entirely. What about somehow convincing Dubai Ports World to withdraw its bid to take over the US ports? I'm sure there'll be a way for them to swing it. If there's one part of the Bush Administration that's frighteningly competent, it's the political office.

UPDATE: The Times is reporting that the UAE has agreed to divest itself of its American holdings. Big surprise.


"... will burn the Constitution"

There has been much to be disturbed about in the last 5 years. The events of September 11th still bring a tear to my eye, and the Iraq War still seems like a gigantic strategic error. As blogosphere readers, you hardly need a recitation of issues to be concerned about in today's political atmosphere.

But all of the corrupt policies of the Bush Administration or even American Deaths don't begin to terrify me the way some of our leaders talk about the consequences of the next terrorist attack. On Wolf Blitzer's Late Edition a number of months ago, Wolf had some general on talking about homeland security in the context of the newly disclosed NSA illegal spying program. Specifically, the general said that the most important thing was to protect our cities from nuclear attacks, because "as that city burned, the constitution would burn with it." He was of course implying that all of you namby-pamby Americans who are concerned about your civil liberties would have a lot more to be concerned about should another attack occur, so stop complaining and let us break the law to protect you. "You don't like what we're doing now, well just wait until you don't have any rights at all," he seemed to be saying.

This is a theme that's not constantly repeated, but rather seems to be on some longer lifecycle. It crops up a few times a year - "if there's another terrorist attack, the constitution will be torn up." WHY? So help me, this infuriates me. Why should a few civilian deaths rob me of my inalienable rights? Where do you draw the line? Will 100 civilians killed be enough to torch my constitution? 1000? 100,000? Emphatically, I say there is no line. There is no point at which I will give my consent.

In fact, there is a line, but it is one which I would cross going in the other direction. If the threat was real, I would gladly take up arms to protect my constitution. Let me make my position crystal clear: Our nation is great, but it is only great because of our constitution. The freedoms it guarantees are the only thing that has brought this nation to the pinnacle of exceptionalism it now occupies.

On September 17, 1787, as Benjamin Franklin left Constitution Hall he was asked what kind of government the newly forming nation was to have, "a monarchy or a republic?" "A Republic," he replied, "if you can keep it." I fear that we are in danger of losing our Republic, because we are not keeping it. I love life, but I will fight and die to protect that noble document that seperates us from the savages, the Constitution of these United States.