Democrats, Republicans, War, Oil and lots of other things

A good friend and I were trading emails during the 2008 election. Here is my response to one of hers.

The Democrats have certainly disappointed me at times, but I cannot imagine trusting the ones who have been power for 16+++ years. McCain is part of and has surrounded himself with the group who created the mess we’re in and are making it worse (Black, Gramm, Berman, Rove, Bush). The ones who keep lying to us. The ones who took us into an illegal war based on lies and are the direct cause of the deaths of 100,000+ people and the wounding of 100,000 more, including our own. The ones who are in bed (literally, we find out now) with the oil companies and banks, mortgage and insurance companies we are now bailing out.

What did you mean with the Coolidge reference? Coolidge was a republican for deregulation, which is widely regarded to be mostly to blame for the wall street / mortgage corruption (even by McCain now, so he says). While individuals have a responsibility not to get in over their heads, these companies played a shell game, misrepresenting their offers, steering people into deals they couldn’t afford, just to get the mortgage. Then they sold it knowing full well it was likely to fail, took their profits and ran. Are you for deregulation or against? Cause I’m not sure what McCain’s stance is at this point. He’s voted for deregulation for years, but all of a sudden he’s talking serious regulations and even new agencies because everyone is upset. Yet he is still taking advice from Gramm, the king of deregulation.

And what does your WWII reference mean? 56 million dead would seem to support an ANTI war stance. Especially since 40 million of them were civilians. We should be doing everything we can to avoid war. The LAST thing we need is another war, which is exactly what the republicans are posturing for and stirring up the hornet nests, playing one side against the other, talking about war. We are teetering on the edge of WWIII. I want someone in office who values the lives of our soldiers and citizens and the lives of the Iranians and Russians (e.g. human beings) so much that he does everything in his power to avoid war via non violent cooperative methods, not someone who believes “other wars” are inevitable. I want someone who is not afraid to sit down with the leaders of other countries, allies and otherwise, to figure out how we can make this work and rebuild our credibility and ties. It’s not an easy task, especially now after all this damage has been done. Trust is a difficult thing to regain once you’ve lost it. But if we don’t try we will get what we deserve. McCain’s comments that “there will be wars” are very disturbing to me. War is never inevitable unless you believe it is and I don’t want someone like that in the white house.

I’m confused that you seem to be blaming the democrats for the Americans killed in Iraq – that was Bush/Cheney et al’s doing, and they lied to us to do it. We didn’t go in because of any weapons of mass destruction. First of all, we would NEVER have attacked Iraq if we really thought Sadaam had chemical or nuclear weapons (he didn’t use them against us because he didn’t have them – not even one!). And why didn’t any of the insurgents or al quaeda use them if they were sitting around? Even Bush Jr. has finally admitted there no weapons.

But if Iraq did have them it was our own fault: “From 1980 to 1988, the U.S., the West and the USSR fueled the Iran-Iraq War which cost an estimated one million lives on both sides…. The U.S. tried to build up Saddam Hussein as the new Western strongman in the Gulf. It showered arms, technical assistance and economic aid on Iraq. Between 1985 and 1990, U.S. firms sold almost $800 million in “dual use” aircraft–ostensibly to be used for civilian purposes, but easily convertible to military uses. In 1988 and 1989 alone, the U.S. government approved licenses to U.S. firms to sell biological products to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Agency and electronics equipment to Iraqi missile-producing plants. In July 1988–two months after Saddam used chemical weapons to wipe out the Kurdish village of Halabja–the California-based Bechtel Corp. won a contract to build a petrochemicals plant. Iraq planned to produce mustard gas and fuel-air explosives in the plant. The Bush administration doubled agricultural credits to Iraq to $1 billion a year. Other Western allies, like Britain and France, also helped to arm Saddam. While being courted as a Western enforcer in the Middle East, Saddam could also rely on friends in high places. In April 1990–four months before Iraq invaded Kuwait–Saddam received a delegation of U.S. senators who assured him the U.S. stood by him. Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) assured Saddam that Bush would veto any threatened sanctions on Iraq. Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) joined Saddam in blasting the “haughty and pampered” media that had criticized Saddam’s regime. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) told Saddam: “I am a Jew and a staunch supporter of Israel . . . I am now aware that you are a strong and intelligent man and that you want peace.” All of the charges U.S. officials hurl against Saddam today–that he attacks his “own people,” that he is a brutal dictator, that he used chemical weapons against Kurds and Iranians, that he builds “weapons of mass destruction”–were known in the 1980s. In fact, as history shows, the West helped Saddam build his arsenal.” (source:

Iraq is the U.S. linchpin of the Middle East oil fields in a sick real-life game of “Risk”. It has nothing to do with weapons or human rights or even Israel. It was the only piece of the puzzle we thought we could easily conquer. We used to be “buddies” until Sadaam invaded Kuwait in 1990 because we didn’t want Sadaam to control so much oil. Yet, it was OK for him to attack Iran when it suited our needs. As Lawrence Korb, former Reagan assistant defense secretary said “If Kuwait grew carrots, we wouldn’t give a damn.”

We went in for the oil and control of the region, and because we could. If we truly didn’t want other countries to have those kinds of weapons or hurt their own people, we’d be bombing a lot of other countries. Why only threaten Russia and Iran now? Why don’t we bomb China? What about Pakistan? They already have nuclear weapons. They’re supposedly our friends and Pakistan just issued an order to fire on our soldiers! (Isn’t Pakistan also harboring the most wanted man in the world?) And where do we get off dictating who can and can’t have nuclear weapons when we’re the ONLY country who has ever used them, and killed millions of innocent civilians with them. No one should have them. Period. Right now we’re in a standoff, and until we get rid of ours, they won’t get rid of theirs. I’m ashamed to think that we would actually consider using a nuclear weapon again, even in retaliation. Haven’t we learned anything? Why are we threatening anyone?

Regarding Israel… Is Palestine any less valuable than any other country? Israelis deserve a place to live, but not at the expense of other human beings. Did you ever really think about why so many countries hate Israel? Have you ever researched the root of the conflict there? How would you feel if the UN declared that Baton Rouge was now partly owned by the Canadians, kicked you out of your home onto the streets at gunpoint, killed your children, burned your crops, imprisoned your husband, and moved a bunch of Canadians onto your property in the name of God (and not even your own God at that). Blood would run in the streets if the UN granted Florida to Cuba because there were a lot of persecuted Cubans there and they wanted a new homeland. That’s exactly what the UN did in 1947. And then Cuba decides Florida isn’t enough so they start taking over Georgia – that’s what Israel did, and they still haven’t returned what they took, despite the international court ruling it illegal. If the US kicked your neighbor out of their house where they’ve lived for generations so you could move in, would you? Of course not. It wouldn’t be right. And you probably wouldn’t blame your neighbor if he put up a fight. Yet that’s what thousands of Israeli settlers are doing to entire Palestinian neighborhoods and cities, and the Palestinians are fighting for their lands and their lives.

Which brings us to Iran – Is an Iranian child any less valuable than an Israeli child? Do any of them deserve to be bombed and killed because their leader believes, rightly or wrongly, that Israel should be “annihilated” for trying to annihilate the Palestinians? Of course not. But what’s the difference between Iran bombing Israel and the US bombing Iraq? The reasons are similar from each point of view – stopping an evil regime – and results are the same – dead children. It was OK by the US for Iraq to attack Iran and kill their children, but not OK to attack Kuwait – Huh? NO ONE has the right to invade/attack another country, and until that concept is accepted and enforced universally, we will be in a perpetual state of war. If you say, it’s ok if it’s self defense when someone attacks you – then ask the Palestinians how they see it – they are defending their land that has been taken from them, and their very lives. So why is it OK for Israel to take over Palestine, but not OK for the Palestinians to fight back?

And, by your own logic, Iran won’t nuke Israel either. In your own words: “Think about this, if North Korea [Iran] were to actually be planning to release nuclear weapons in the proximity of South Korea and Japan, [Israel] the nuclear fallout would have also greatly affected Russian and China [Palestine, Syria and Lebanon] which is right across their border.” Furthermore, they’d be destroying one of their most holy places. And, by the way, did you know that Israel and Iran used to be allies not long ago: “During the era of the Iranian Monarchy (1948-1979) under the Pahlavi Dynasty, Iran enjoyed cordial relations with Israel. Israel regarded Iran, a non-Arab power on the periphery of the Arab world, as a natural ally and counterweight to Arab ambitions as part of David Ben-Gurion’s alliance of the periphery. Even after the Iranian Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini’s public condemnations of the “Zionist entity“, Israel shipped arms to Iran for use against Iraq, which it regarded as the greater threat.” (source: wikipedia)

And as for our going to war with Iran – have you looked at a map lately? We can’t even control Iraq – Iran is almost 4 times as big. It has over 72 million people. We’d be nuts. And it would unleash a torrent of attacks on American and Israeli soil that would make 9/11 look like a good day. They also can shut down the Persian Gulf, hence disrupting world oil supplies. Bad idea.

Your statement: China and Russia were both parties to the deception.  That is why Bush called them the “Axis of Evil.”  – Last time I checked China and Russia are still considered our allies. Bush called Iran, Iraq and N. Korea the Axis of Evil. And just what is the criteria for being a member of the Axis? Invade/bomb other countries they don’t agree with and develop nuclear weapons – oops – where do we pick up our membership pin? It works both ways. And if terror is a criteria, then look into the heart of an Iraqi or Afgani child as they cling to their dead mother’s body as U.S. bombs are dropping on their house. Terror doesn’t need the bomb to be strapped onto a fanatic.

Enough about war – I’m a pacifist. I don’t believe in killing, and believe that even in self defense one should do everything possible to not kill or hurt the attacker. That’s why I studied Aikido, a Japanese martial art that teaches how to disable an attacker without harming them or yourself. The founder of aikido declared: “To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace.” And another of my favorite quotes: “We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.” (Jimmy Carter)

As for gasoline, I want someone in the white house who will be serious about weaning us off of petroleum products, not just “foreign oil”. I want someone who promotes and understands conservation, not someone who makes fun of it (you’d think a “conservative” would be pro conservation!). I don’t want my energy needs dependant on something that is toxic and volatile physically, economically, politically and biologically, not to mention controlled by evil, power/money hungry people. The chant of “drill baby drill” is shortsighted, selfish, destructive, and a ruse to keep our eye off the real problems. It doesn’t matter how many oil wells we have. If they really wanted to become independent in a petroleum based energy policy they should be shouting “refine, baby, refine.” We are at capacity with our refineries and we are actually IMPORTING GASOLINE from Europe and South America because we can’t make enough of our own, and we’re competing with India and China for it now. Even if we tried to only use our own, every hurricane season our own supply gets interrupted, sometimes for months. If we really needed more oil, then why aren’t the oil companies drilling more in areas they already have licenses for. Because there’s nowhere to refine the extra oil. So why aren’t they building more refineries? The logical thing when demand of an item increase 45% is to make more. However, memos and internal documents from major oil companies were discovered detailing how capacity in the US refining industry was reduced [i.e. they closed refineries] to maintain higher profits (source: BBC) and they still have NO plans to build any new ones.

Then there are the ecological costs. We are constantly cleaning up oil spills and leaks – hundreds every year worldwide, the Gulf of Mexico has the highest number of spills of all the world, the US has over 450,000 underground tank leaks a year – which destroy our water and ecology and economy. We are poisoning our air and water and food and economy with oil. Oil is Killing Us – literally, via toxins and via wars.

And think about this tidbit: Iran is the 2nd largest holder of natural gas and oil reserves and is OPEC’s 2nd largest exporter. Yet, in 2004, Iran opened its first wind-powered and geothermal plants, and the first solar thermal plant is to come online in 2009.

I’m extremely concerned that his core energy plan also includes “clean coal” – there is NO SUCH THING – McCain is lying – look it up – the technology doesn’t exist to clean up coal emissions. In fact, our government even already started – and canceled – a “clean coal” project. In January of THIS year the Dept. of Energy pulled all funding for the Futuregen project in the development stage citing it was too expensive. Plus, it is a very dangerous and unregulated industry – I know, I grew up in coal country. And if you’re hearing about the miracle fuel “liquid” coal, well, more lies – it releases almost double the emissions per gallon as regular gasoline, making a hybrid filled with liquid coal as dirty as a Hummer H3 running on regular gas (source: Liquid coal also requires huge amounts of water and energy to produce and takes a full ton of coal to produce just 2 barrels of fuel. This would only help the coal companies sell more coal.

And if you like the idea of nuclear power plants – well, they’re lying about that, too – big time. They tell us they are cheap to run, but not when you factor in that they are exceedingly expensive to build and, even more importantly, to decommission and store the radioactive waste, which we still have no solution for and is currently being paid for by tax dollars. A 2003 study by M.I.T. estimated the cost of electricity from a light-water reactor to be $0.067 per kWh without the costs of the government subsidies to storing the waste added in. That is more than twice the cost of wind power in Kansas. And that doesn’t even include the cost to protect the plant from terrorist attacks and the increasing costs to build them. Even the U.S. DOE stated in its 2005 Annual Energy Outlook that “new [nuclear] plants are not expected to be economical.” Then there’s the deadly radioactive waste – we have no place to store it. Each nuclear reactor produces about 33 tons of hot, extremely radioactive waste each year. 80,000 tons of radioactive waste sits in cooling pools next to 103 US nuclear plants, waiting to be shipped to a storage facility yet to be found.  And the next time you see an unmarked truck or train car, there might be radioactive waste or fresh fuel being transported in there, vulnerable to an accident that would turn Baton Rouge into a wasteland. The supply of uranium is limited, and on top of that, the world’s largest processor of uranium in Canada has been closed because toxic uranium may have leaked into Lake Ontario. And did you know that nuclear power is the most water-hungry of all energy sources, with a single reactor consuming 35-65 million litres of water each day (coal plants also use an incredible amount of water). We’re in a drought in many parts of the U.S. as it is. And it is NOT ecologically friendly, either. A report by the U.S. Nuclear Information and Resource Service details the destruction of delicate marine ecosystems and large numbers of animals, including endangered species, by nuclear power plants. I won’t even get into the problem of the dual use of the fuel for weapons.

I don’t want to think every time I turn on a light or drive my car that people, plants and animals are dying for it, especially when we have clean, cheap, safe alternatives NOW. Billions and billions of our tax dollars are subsidizing oil, coal and nuclear, plus billions in trying to figure out how to make a bad idea work, billions more in tax cuts, billions in clean up costs, billions in health care. Think what could be accomplished if those Trillions of dollars were refocused to develop clean renewable energy. So why is McCain pushing so hard for and lying about oil, coal and nuclear when none of these are safe, clean or viable in the long term and will only make things worse? GREED and POWER. Just look at who his advisors are. They’re the ones getting our tax dollars and pulling the strings to their advantage. There is a saying: Whoever controls the energy controls the people. It’s a lot harder to control the sun and the wind.

I agree that we each have a great personal responsibility in how we live and the choices we make, just as we have a responsibility to not empower people who believe it is OK to kill and torture others in the name of democracy or God, rape our lands, and enrich themselves at the cost of our economy on the backs of the people.  We each have the responsibility to insist on peace and clean water and honesty. Our leaders have an even greater responsibility.

I don’t like to be lied to, especially when lives are at stake. I don’t want someone who voted against banning torture and believes that only Americans deserve due process to represent me to the world and set policy. I want someone highly intelligent and on the ball who knows and understands the players of the world, not someone who doesn’t even know who the president of Spain is, repeatedly gets the Shia and Sunni confused in a war he voted for, and on and on. Petty mistakes for the average person, but serious when we’re talking about one of the most powerful people in the world who would be making decisions based on these mistakes and confusion. Even more concerning when you think he’s been in congress for 26 years! Would you let a surgeon who constantly mixes up your appendix with your pancreas operate on you? Of course not. I think every presidential candidate (and vice president and senator) should have to take a test just like a lawyer before they’re allow to run. This job is too important and the stakes are too high.

It will take a wise, smart, trustworthy (and trusted), forward thinking and steady head to guide us through the next decade. Obama doesn’t have all the answers (no one does), he has made some mistakes and misspeaks as well, and I don’t agree with everything he is proposing or has done. But I believe him, and more importantly, I believe IN him. I want someone I think will lead the world by example, not by force.

I look forward to discussing more with you.  This is what makes the U.S. great! We have a lot to think about with this election.