inkwell.vue.176 : Thom Hartmann, _Unequal Protection_
permalink #51 of 55: Mark Richards (volund) Wed 5 Mar 03 00:06
To end, type . (a period) on a line by itself
I visited the site mentioned, noting the numerous links
they have presented on both the Nike case and corporate personhood in

I checked out the links to the NY Times and Wash. Post pieces on the case,
among others. As I read on, I experienced an increasingly sinking feeling
that, to a certain extent, those defending corporate "free speech rights"
were not merely shilling, and may in fact be well-intentioned and sincere,
somewhere along the way having been convinced (brainwashed?) that this state
of affairs is _the_way_it's_supposed_to_be_.

That is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole situation.
inkwell.vue.176 : Thom Hartmann, _Unequal Protection_
permalink #52 of 55: Thom Hartmann (thomhartmann) Wed 5 Mar 03 12:27
There's no doubt that many supporters of corporate personhood simply
don't understand the history of the USA or the real implications of the
new corporate feudalism.  

On the other hand, there are lots of folks out there who well
understand the whole thing, and see corporate personhood as a way of
maintaining their own wealth and power.  IMHO, this is at the core of
the "conservative agenda," as I wrote about last week on  

inkwell.vue.176 : Thom Hartmann, _Unequal Protection_
permalink #53 of 55: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Wed 5 Mar 03 13:33
And there also those who sincerely believe that the Nike case is a
real free speech issue, regardless of the broader picture.  And they
have some good arguments.

It comes as a shock sometimes to discover that intelligent people can
be on the other side of an issue for legitimate reasons.  But that's
life on the Internet.
inkwell.vue.176 : Thom Hartmann, _Unequal Protection_
permalink #54 of 55: Thom Hartmann (thomhartmann) Wed 12 Mar 03 14:46
FYI, I published this article on yesterday.  Thought
you all may find it of interest:

The Empire Needs New Clothes  
by Thom Hartmann 
It's easy to vilify George W. Bush as a cynical warmonger, anxious to
attack Iraq to repay the oil companies that funded his election
campaigns. But to do so is to make a dangerous and fundamental error,
and such a myopic view of the Bush administration's policies puts
America's future at risk. 

The reality is that the current administration has a clear and
specific vision for the future of America and the world, and they
believe it's a positive vision. In order to put forward an alternative
vision, it's essential to first understand the vision of America held
by the New Right. 

The core of the neoconservative vision was first articulated on June
3, 1997, in the Statement of Principles put forth by the Project For
The New American Century. Signed by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill
Bennett, Jeb Bush, Gary Bauer, Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, Vin
Weber, Steve Forbes and others from the Reagan/Bush administration, it
clearly stated that "the history of this century should have taught us
to embrace the cause of American leadership." 

Frankly acknowledging that America is a small portion of the world's
population but uses a large percentage of the world's oil and other
natural resources, Poppy Bush is famous for having said, "The American
lifestyle is not negotiable." 

McMansions for two-person families, a transportation infrastructure
based on 6,000-pound SUVs carrying single individuals, cheap Chinese
goods at Wal-Mart and cheap Mexican food in the supermarket - all of
this is not anything America intends to give up. We're king of the
hill, and we intend to stay that way, even if it means going to war to
keep it. 

At the core of this is oil. When the administration's people say
American involvement in Iraq is "not about oil," they're often
responding to charges that they're only going after profits for
American oil companies. They speak truth, in that context, when they
say the war isn't about revenues from oil - the profits will only be a
desirable side-effect. What the war is really about is the survival of
the American lifestyle, which, in their world-view, is both
non-negotiable and based almost entirely on access to cheap oil. 

The same year Cheney, et al, wrote their papers on The New American
Century, I wrote a book about the coming end of American peace and
prosperity because of our dependence on a dwindling supply of oil.
"Since the discovery of oil in Titusville, PA, where the world's first
oil well was drilled in 1859," I wrote in The Last Hours of Ancient
Sunlight, "humans have extracted 742 billion barrels of oil from the
Earth. Currently, world oil reserves are estimated at about 1,000
billion barrels, which will last (according to the most optimistic
estimates of the oil industry) 'for almost 45 years at current rates of

But that doesn't mean that we'll suck on the straw for 45 years and
then it'll suddenly stop. When about half the oil has been removed from
an underground oil field, it starts to get much harder (and thus more
expensive) to extract the remaining half. The last third to quarter can
be excruciatingly expensive to extract - so much so that wells these
days that have hit that point are usually just capped because it costs
more to extract the oil than it can be sold for, or it's more
profitable to ship oil in from the Middle East, even after accounting
for the cost of shipping. 

The halfway point of an oil field is referred to as "The Hubbert
Peak," after scientist M. King Hubbert, who first pointed this out in
1956 and projected 1970 as the year for the Hubbert Peak of US oil
supplies. Hubbert was off by four years - 1974 saw the initial decline
in US oil production and the consequent rise in price. In 1975,
Hubbert, who is now deceased, projected 2000 for a worldwide Hubbert
Peak. Once that point had been hit, he and other experts suggested, the
world could expect economy-destabilizing spikes in the price of oil,
and wars to begin over control of this vital resource. 

Most of the world has now been digitally "X-rayed" using satellites,
seismic data, and computers, in the process of locating 41,000 oil
fields. Over 641,000 exploratory wells have been drilled, and virtually
all fields which show any promise are well-known and factored into the
one-trillion barrel estimate the oil industry uses for world oil

And of that 1 trillion barrels, Saudi Arabia has about 259 billion
barrels and Iraq is estimated by the US Government to have 432 billion
barrels, although at the moment only about 112 billion barrels have
been tapped. The rest, virgin oil, can be pumped out for as little as
$1.50 a barrel, making Iraqi oil not only the most abundant in the
world, but the most profitable. This at a time when virtually all
American oil fields (except the Alaska North Slope) have dwindled past
the Hubbert Peak into $5 to $25 per barrel pumping costs. 

Thus, we see that our "lifestyle" - our ability to maintain our
auto-based transportation systems, our demand for big, warm houses, and
our appetite for a wide variety of cheap foods and consumer goods - is
currently based on access to cheap oil. If we assume that the American
people won't tolerate a change in that lifestyle, then we can
extrapolate that our very security as a stable democracy is dependent
on cheap oil. 

Viewed in this context, the rush to seize control of the Middle East -
where about a third of the planet's oil is located - makes perfect
sense. It's a noble endeavor, in that view, maintaining the strength
and vitality of the American Empire. 

Of course, there are a few cracks in this vision. In order to have
such a new American century, we must be willing to foul our waters and
air with the byproducts of oil combustion and oil-fired power plants,
and tolerate the explosions in cancer they bring. We must be willing to
gamble that raising CO2 levels won't destabilize the atmosphere and
tip us into a new ice age by shutting down the Great Conveyor Belt
warm-water currents in the Atlantic. We must be willing to hold the
rest of the world off at the point of a bayonet, and to take on the
England/Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine type of terrorism that
inevitably comes when people decide to assert nationalism and confront

And, perhaps most distressing, the third George to be President of the
United States must be willing to clamp down on his own dissident
citizens the same way that King George III of England did in 1776.
These are the requirements of empire. 

The last American statesman to put forth a different vision was
President Jimmy Carter, who candidly pointed out to the American people
that oil was a dwindling domestic resource. Carter said that we
mustn't find ourselves in a position of having to fight wars to seize
other people's oil, and that a decade or two of transition to renewable
energy sources would ensure the stability and future of America
without destabilizing the rest of the world. 

It would even lead to a cleaner environment and a better quality of
life. Carter put in place energy tax credits and incentives that
birthed an exploding new industry based on building solar-heated homes,
windmill-powered communities, and the development of fuel alternatives
to petroleum. 

Ronald Reagan's first official act of office was to remove Carter's
solar panels from the roof of the White House. He then repealed
Carter's tax incentives for renewable energy and killed off an entire
industry. No president since then has had the courage or vision to face
the hard reality that Carter shared with us. 

And so now we discover these oddities. Osama bin Laden, for example,
explicitly said that he had attacked the US because we had troops
stationed on the holy soil of his homeland - a position not that
different from Northern Irish, Palestinian, Tamil, and Kashmiri
terrorists. And our troops are there to protect our access to Saudi
oil, a dependence legacy we inherited from Reagan's rejection of
Carter's initiatives. 

If we are to hold a vision of America that doesn't depend on foreign
sources of oil and doesn't require the enormous expenditures of money
and blood to project and protect empire, simply saying "stop the war"
isn't enough. We must clearly articulate a vision of what America could
be in a world in balance, a world at peace, and a world where the
planet's vital natural resources are protected and renewed. This is the
ultimate family value, the highest patriotism, and the most
desperately needed story to guide the next generation of Americans. 

As President John F. Kennedy said in his 1961 Inaugural Address, "All
this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be
finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this
Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But
let us begin." 

Thom Hartmann is the author of over a dozen books, including "Unequal
Protection" and "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight." This article is copyright by Thom Hartmann, but
permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media
so long as this credit is attached. 
inkwell.vue.176 : Thom Hartmann, _Unequal Protection_
permalink #55 of 55: soul of a hacker but the brains of a busboy (mattrose) Tue 8 Apr 03 08:36
There's another essay by Thom Hartmann at

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