Ex Super Power? Can This Be True?

Who\'s Got the Stick and Who the Carrot?

Asia Times Online published an article on May 10, 2008 entitled “An oil-addicted ex-superpower.” The American author, Michael T. Klare, Five Colleges professor of Peace and World Security Studies, makes a chillingly convincing case for the fact that the United States’ massive borrowing to pay for its oil habit has already cost them their superpower status.

The fact is, says Klare, America’s wealth and power has long rested on the abundance of cheap petroleum. The United States was, for a long time, the world’s leading producer of oil, supplying its own needs while generating a healthy surplus for export.

From the end of World War II through the height of the Cold War, the US claim to superpower status rested on a vast sea of oil.

But those times are long past, according to Klare. Continue reading

Randy Newman’s Best Defense of America

I invite you to listen to this great Randy Newman song again: Just a few Words in Defense of Our Country.

Newman’s satire is so easy going, so fast and loose, so intelligent and so insidious that when you think he’s talking about other people–stupid, vain, greedy, hypocritical other people–little by little you begin to perceive yourself in the picture he has painted.

The Gringo Series

The Gringo SeriesLet’s call it de-gringo-ization, that penchant the United Statesians have for placing universal labels on things that are uniquely gringo. The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is the World Series, the annual end-of-season baseball playoff in the United States. Insofar as there are no teams from other baseball-playing countries represented–neither Japan nor, God forbid, Cuba, for example–the so-called World Series is, in fact, the Gringo Series. And we of the Rest of the World would appreciate it if the United Statesians would start calling it by its proper name. Continue reading

Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? No, It’s the Machine Again

SuperdelegatesFaster than a speeding pork barrel, more powerful than executive privilege, able to leap tall ballot boxes in a single bound. There in the sky, is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Superdelegate!

Now that the contest for the Democratic nomination is intensifying we see the term “superdelegate” popping up more and more in the media, but I have yet to see an explanation of how some of the Democratic Convention delegates became “super.” It seems that there are delegates and delegates and that some of them are more equal than others, and not precisely because they eat more spinach.

First stop, the Wikipedia: “’Superdelegate’ is an informal term for some of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the quadrennial convention of the United States Democratic Party.” According to the online encyclopedia, the superdelegates are not elected in primary elections nor party caucuses, but are delegates ex-oficio by virtue of being Democratic incumbents or ex office holders. They are what the Democratic Convention website refers to as “unpledged and pledged party leaders and elected official delegates,” whatever that means. We shall refer to them here as “The Team from the Machine.” There are 796 of them, making up roughly 20% of the total number of delegates to the Democratic Convention. Continue reading

U.S. Resorts to Pistachio Diplomacy–Take Cover!

Pistachos on a plateI intended to introduce you Robert Fisk this morning, but this journalist who has given us the finest, most reliable Middle East coverage for decades will have to wait till next time. Breaking news demands our attention.

According to Madrid’s El Mundo newspaper this morning, Sal Emergui, their correspondent in Jerusalem, filed the following report yesterday: “The United States and Israel are daily forging an alliance to confront Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadineyad’s nuclear project, but the pistachio question has provoked certain differences. This is not a joke. The Bush government has protested to Israel through various channels accusing them of consuming large quantities of Iranian pistachios.” (My translation.) Continue reading