John Bolton

John Bolton - Caricature

John Bolton – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

There is speculation that if Mitt wins, he will name John Bolton as his Secretary of State. If true, I think that is one of the best reasons for not electing Mitt Romney. John Bolton is a Neocon who supported the war in Iraq and supports attacking Iran. Just moments ago on Megyn Kelly’s FOX News program, Bolton voiced the usual criticism of President Obama over the terrorist attack in Libya. In his opinion, Barack sees the world through blinders and Barack believes that the GWOT (Global War On Terror) is over. If that is true, how does Bolton explain the widespread use of drones throughout the Middle East and Pakistan?

Article on drones over Pakistan

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October surprise

English: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician

English: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Will there be an October surprise this year intended to affect the election? I fear there may be but it will be instigated by an Israel attack on Iran if it happens. Benjamin Netanyahu would prefer a compliant Romney as president in place of an independent Obama. His dilemma is how will US voters react to another war in the Middle East if it leads to the blocking of the Strait of Hormuz and gas shortages worldwide. Romney polls ahead of President Obama on the economy (falsely in my opinion), but Barack has a wide lead in polling on foreign affairs. US Neocons, influential during the GW Bush years, are urging Israel to attack Iran.

Strait of Hormuz

Persian Gulf

Strait of Hormuz

The Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and Oman is the narrow (roughly 30 miles wide) sole entrance and exit to the Persian Gulf from which approximately 20% of the world’s oil is shipped to the industrialized world. As you can see on the maps above, it is a narrow dogleg to the east and south and contains numerous islands. Iran is threatening to close the Strait in response to the US and Western embargo which is being used to hurt the Iranian economy and purports to persuade Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons.

Oil prices

Even the threat of an interruption in oil shipments will be sufficient to drive up prices because insurance for the ships transiting the Strait will increase. If by accident or design, hostilities breakout in the area, insurance rates will skyrocket and some or many ship-owners will refuse to endanger their ships. The US military should be able to keep the Strait open for military shipping, but commercial shipping will be severely disrupted. Remember that 20% of the world’s oil passes through the Strait and the gas shortage that caused panic buying in the US was only a 4% decrease from the year before.

1979 shortage

For those who don’t remember 1979 or were too young to drive, permit me to refresh memories. Motorists could not be sure that gas would be available, so most motorists tried to keep their gas tanks as full as possible. This led to long lines at the gas stations that had fuel for sale. Fights often broke out as some motorists tried to jump ahead in line. I witnessed one altercation myself when another driver cut in line in front of me. I did not want to start a fight, but other drivers around me did.

Results

Finally, some states introduced systems to reduce panic buying. In California, license plates ending in even numbers could only purchase gas on even numbered days, and odd numbered plates on odd days of the month. Personalized and other plates were assigned to be either even or odd. When gas stations had sold out, they closed for the day. It was odd to drive past dark gas stations when in the past they had been brightly lighted 24 hours per day.

The future

Gas prices spiked and the 55 mile per hour speed limit remained in effect from 1973 to 1995. All this from only a 4% decline in gas availability. Just think what a larger decrease could mean now on the price of gas and our fragile economy. Iran could easily disrupt shipping in the Strait of Hormuz by sowing mines and by the use of swarms of small, speedy boats to attack oil tankers and our fleet. The Persian Gulf is not a safe place for our navy.

Please see Regime change

Brother’s keeper

Mosaic of the Transfigration, St. Catherine's ...

Image via Wikipedia

I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper. And all the people of the world are my brothers and sisters. This is not a religious conviction with me; it is the result of a logical thought process. In our shrinking and interconnected world, events abroad will quickly or eventually come home to roost.  The effects of famine in Africa, war in the Middle East, earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and epidemics in China can be spread quickly by electronic messaging and/or air travel. Terror has no boundaries nor does love and compassion.

Some of us want to return to a simpler time of smaller government, lower taxes and fewer rules and regulations. Those times are gone forever. There are too many of us living too close together for us to forsake big government. Civilization as we know it requires rules and a police force to enforce those rules. The Wild West is gone and rule by the six-gun went with it. We are a civilized society now even if not everyone acknowledges the fact or complies with our rules.

Please see Love thy neighbor

Griftopia

Griftopia is a very angry book and if you read it, you will begin to share his anger. Some of the American public are already angry about the economy and government, but their anger is being misdirected away from the real culprits by those very same culprits or their agents. Taibbi names names and gives specific dates, amounts stolen and methods used by those he labels grifters, thieves. The thieves know how to work our system for their advantage and it was their work that produced the Great Recessionof 2008. The end of that recession is still not in sight, and we will not change future bad outcomes until more of us become angry enough to force real change.

Goldman Sachs New World Headquarters

Image via Wikipedia

Much of Taibbi’s anger is directed toward Goldman-Sachs and its former executives, some in government now and some in the past. He blames Goldman in part for the Great Depression and also for the present day Great Recession. Before I agree or disagree, I must do more research. I will comment on Goldman further in a later post.

Taibbi gives an interesting example of how we are paying for present consumption by selling off some assets created in past, more prosperous times. His example is set in Chicago but he mentions that it is also taking place in other parts of the country. Mayor Daley wanted to raise money without raising taxes, so with the help of Goldman, he decided to lease the revenue stream from the city’s parking meters to investors for 75 years for a little over $1 billion. Goldman put together a bidding syndicate from the Middle Eastwhose members were mostly unknown and changing.

After the deal was hurriedly approved by the Chicago City Council, it was estimated by independent auditors that the contract was worth at least $5 billion to the group that bid a little more than $1 billion.

Shortly after the deal was done, the new managers of the parking meters raised rates from $0.25 hour to $1.00 hour, an increase of 300%. Hours were increased daily from 9 hours to 13 hours, an increase of nearly 45%. Sundays and holidays were no longer free. That represented an additional increase of 16%. Now motorists inChicagopay for their gas at the pump and they also pay at the parking meter since an unknown portion of the parking revenue goes to the Middle Eastern suppliers of the petroleum used to make gasoline.

Before the 2010 election, I attended a Meg Whitman event in Culver City. I parked on a side street in an industrial area and was somewhat surprised that the meters required four quarters per hour. If the event had been held in Beverly Hills, Westwood or Century City, I would have expected that rate or higher to park. Taibbi mentioned Los Angelesas also leasing its parking meters for immediate revenue. That causes me to wonder where the quarters I put in the Culver City parking meters went, Culver City or some entity in the Middle East?