Singing the Bite Me Song

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June 27, 2005

Feeding frenzy or the second phase of the Iraq War?

A friend in the UK put me on to The London Line, billed as "London's Alternative Newspaper."

Link: The London Line : Iraq: The carve-up begins.

Iraq: The carve-up begins

Tom Burgis Thursday 23 June 2005

As the costs of the Iraq occupation spiral, British and American oil companies meet in secret next week to carve up the country's oil reserves for themselves. Tom Burgis reports

The Iraq war has so far cost America and Britain £105billion. But the financial clawback is gathering pace as British and American oil giants work out how to get their hands on the estimated £3trillion worth of oil.

Executives from BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil and Halliburton, Dick Cheney's old firm, are expected to congregate at the Paddington Hilton for a two-day chinwag with top-level officials from Iraq's oil ministry. The gathering, sponsored by the British Government, is being described as the "premier event" for those with designs on Iraqi oil, and will go ahead despite opposition from Iraqi oil workers, who fear their livelihoods are being flogged to foreigners. The Met will be on hand to secure the venue ahead of the conference.

"This is a networking opportunity for UK businesses involved in Iraqi oil," explained Dr Hussain Rabia, managing director of the consultancy Entrac Petroleum Ltd. "We have the moral support of the UK government. They're bringing the guys over from Iraq, offering them visas. We expect all the big oil companies to be there," he said.

Delegate numbers are described as "confidential". Shell spokesman Simon Buerk would not confirm that a representative of the company would be attending, but said he "wouldn't be at all surprised if they were".

"We aspire to establish a long-term presence in Iraq," he said. "We have been helping the [Iraqi] Ministry of Oil and engineers with training."

Those who have purchased their £1,200 tickets can expect access to executives from Iraq's oil ministry, including Salem Razoky, the director general of exploration.

But Iraqi oil workers are furious about the conference. "The second phase of the war will be started by this conference carving up the industry," said an outraged Hasan Juma'a, head of the Iraqi General Union of Oil Employees. "It is about giving shares of Iraq to the countries who invaded it - they get a piece of the action as a reward. The British government will back this action in order to pay its debt in Iraq."

Hasan, who represents 23,000 skilled oil workers, fears that deals struck at the conference will see profits from Iraq's massive oil reserves - the second richest in the world - lining the pockets of multinational corporations at the expense of the Iraqi people.

Previous form suggests his concerns are well founded. Under the initial wage table drawn up by Paul Bremer's provisional Baghdad government in September 2003, oil workers were to receive a minimum monthly pay packet of £25. After a threatened union strike, it was raised to £38. And, Hasan insists, "Iraqi oil workers are good enough to rebuild without any need of help. "


Yahia Said, an Iraqi research fellow in global governance at the London School of Economics, commented:

"Iraq's oil is very cheap to extract. In the lack of transparency and with Iraq under occupation, people suspect oil companies are up to foul play. But those companies wouldn't yet dare sign a contract under the present government because it lacks legitimacy. But the oil companies are eyeing each other - this conference is like a dating game."


As such, a spokesperson for British governmental body UK Trade & Investment insisted that "no contracts will be awarded" at the conference. "Although we believe that British and other companies can play a key role, it will be up to the Iraqis, through their elected representatives to decide whether there is a role for them or not."


June 27, 2005 at 07:48 PM in Democracy, News to Note, Politics, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 26, 2005

Making America safe for rich white girls

From the TV Newser blog (I didn't feel like wading into that flamefest at GOP Vixen)

Link: mediabistro: TVNewser.

"You Are Making America Safe For White Rich Girls. Pat Yourselves On The Back"

On the GOP Vixen blog: "Okay FOX, you win. It worked. I won't kidnap any young, blonde, blue-eyed, upper class, teenage, all-American girls. Your round the clock mega-hyped coverage of this tragic but nonetheless non-story is working. It's a brilliant deterrent. Who in their right mind would think suffering through incessant, overblown, 24/7, E! True Suburb Tragedy was worth it? You are making America safe for white rich girls. Pat yourselves on the back."

June 26, 2005 at 09:08 PM in Media & Journalism, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, Television | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 21, 2005

Mourning for NPR and PBS

I'll let Molly Ivins give the lamentations throat, whilst I wear sackcloth and ashes, weep and gnash my teeth, keening, ululating...

Link: WorkingForChange-Destroying PBS.

Destroying PBS

Bush political operative says he'll erase bias at PBS... by inserting bias

By Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate

AUSTIN -- I was watching the PBS science program "Nova" the other night and spotted the liberal bias right away. I knew it would be there because Ken Tomlinson, the Bush-appointed chairman of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), says the network is riddled with leftist leanings. Sure enough, in a program on tsunamis and what causes them, the show blamed it on shifting tectonic plates in the earth's surface. Then the graphic shows these two tectonic plates grinding against each other -- suddenly, the one on the left sort of falls down, and the big, aggressive plate on the right jumps on top of it, causing a killer tsunami. See? Wouldn't have happened on Fox.

I have listened patiently to years of right-wing bull about liberal bias in the media, but let us be perfectly clear about what is happening at PBS. Big Bird is not in favor of affirmative action. Bert and Ernie are not gay. Miss Piggy is not a feminist. "The Three Tenors," "Antiques Roadshow," "Masterpiece Theater," "Wall Street Week" and nature programs do not have a political agenda. "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" is biased in favor of boring, old, white guys who appear on painfully well-balanced panels. "Washington Week in Review" is a showcase for "Inside the Beltway," conventional wisdom, power-parroting, political-geekhead, Establishment journalism -- there is nothing liberal about it.

But there is a plot to politicize public broadcasting. It is plain as a pikestaff, and it is coming from the Right. It is obvious, undeniable and happening right now. The Bush administration is introducing a political agenda to public broadcasting. They are using the lame pretext that PBS is somehow liberal to justify it into a propaganda organ for the government. That is precisely what the board of CPB was set up to prevent 40 years ago; it is there to be a firewall between public broadcasting and political pressure. Ken Tomlinson is a disgrace to the purpose of that board, he has a political agenda and is engaging in a raw display of ideological bullying. The right-wingers in the House of Representatives are backing his power play with a threat to cut off funding for PBS entirely.


Tomlinson actually spent $10,000 of the taxpayers' money to pay some consultant to find bias in [Bill] Moyers' program ["NOW with Bil Moyers"] but has never released the results of that "study."

Tomlinson, himself a former head of Voice of America in the Reagan administration and a retired editor Reader's Digest, has been an active right-winger since I first met him in 1974. He is also the Bush-appointed chair of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other official arms of the government's propaganda machine. He is a Bush information apparatchik. It is quite clear he believes PBS and NPR should also function as cheerleaders for the government.

His choice for president of the CPB is Patricia Harrison, who is such a Republican activist she was elected co-chair of the Republican National Committee, where she was particularly noted for attacking Hillary Clinton. This is beyond open partisanship. Harrison is currently at State, where she oversees that department's propaganda arm, including the production "news segments" openly intended to support Bush administration policy. She has testified before Congress about the value of such "news segments" in swaying public opinion.

When Richard Nixon attacked PBS 35 years ago, the Republican chairman of CPB resigned in protest over the political interference. The impeccably Republican Ralph Rogers of Dallas led a nationwide effort to stop the malicious meddling. Where's a decent Republican when you need one?


Let's pretend Hillary Clinton wins the 2008 election. Who do you want her to appoint chairman of CPB? James Carville? Noam Chomsky? Or should she show how much she understands the importance of the independence of public broadcasting by naming an esteemed Republican, say John Danforth or Alan Simpson or Richard Lugar? How about anyone who understands that the function of journalism is not to toady to those in power but to challenge them? Is that too much to ask?

The ideological Republicans are destroying a fine public institution.

Hear hear! HERE. HERE.

On my dark days, when I think about the Republican dismantling of checks and balances, independent boards, things that protect them also when they are the minority party, I am struck by one deep dark thought:

These people believe they will NEVER lose another election.

They must be quite certain of it, to work with such deliberate shortsightedness. (Well, Wall Street dances to the demands of the quarterly report and shareholders, which is also essentially fiddling while Rome burns, but that's another story) Certainly there are some Republicans who play chess, who understand strategy and are deliberately applying it. It would be quite naive not to assume so.

So what of this inevitable conclusion? Perhaps they don't just believe they will never lose another election. Perhaps they don't even plan to HAVE another election. I've heard people suggesting this, and a lot more folks than you'd think, and in places you wouldn't suspect either.

Look around us. Do they know something we don't? Is this turning into a permanent "fix"? Are they dismantling the institutions of American "democracy" with such a will to power that they know full well there is no further use for them?


June 21, 2005 at 12:28 AM in Current Affairs, Democracy, Favorite Links, Media & Journalism, News to Note, Politics, Privacy & Free Speech, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

The sneaky manuevers behind the anti-lynching resolution

Smells to high heaven, literally! This House of Bite Me wouldn't claim a bad smell like that.


Link: Critics: Frist vetoed roll call |

Anti-lynching vote

Critics: Frist vetoed roll call

Senators were not required to go on record on issue

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/15/05

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) refused repeated requests for a roll call vote that would have put senators on the record on a resolution apologizing for past failures to pass anti-lynching laws, officials involved in the negotiations said Tuesday.

And there was disagreement Tuesday over whether Saxby Chambliss, one of Georgia's two Republican senators, had supported the measure when it was approved Monday night.

As dozens of descendants of lynching victims watched from the Senate gallery, the resolution was adopted Monday evening under a voice vote procedure that did not require any senator's presence.

Eighty senators, however, had signed as co-sponsors, putting themselves on record as supporting the resolution. By the time the Senate recessed Tuesday evening, five other senators had added their names as co-sponsors, leaving 15 Republicans who had not.


The resolution was adopted under what is called "unanimous consent," whereby it is adopted as long as no senator expresses opposition.

But the group that was the driving force behind the resolution had asked Frist for a formal procedure that would have required all 100 senators to vote. And the group had asked that the debate take place during "business hours" during the week, instead of Monday evening, when most senators were traveling back to the capital.

Frist declined both requests, the group's chief counsel, Mark Planning, said Tuesday evening.

"It was very disappointing" that Frist handled the matter the way he did, Planning said. "Other groups have gotten roll call votes, so there was nothing new to this, nothing different that we were asking for."

Bob Stevenson, Frist's chief spokesman, said Tuesday evening the procedure the majority leader established was "requested by the sponsors."

The chief sponsors of the resolution, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and George Allen (R-Va.), disputed that assertion.


Planning agreed that Landrieu and Allen "made every effort" to have the resolution debated during the day, when it would attract the most attention from the public, and with a formal roll call of the senators.

"We were very perplexed" that Frist would not agree to that, Planning said.

Jan Cohen, the wife of former Defense Secretary William Cohen and one of the key figures in the Committee for a Formal Apology, expressed outrage over the lack of a roll call vote.

"America is home of the brave, but I'm afraid there may be a few cowards who have to cower to their very narrow-minded and backward, hateful constituency," Cohen told ABC News. "They're hiding out, and it's reminiscent of a pattern of hiding out under a hood, in the night, riding past, scaring people."

And more emphatically, on AMERICAblog:

Link: AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth.

Frist now accused of trying to veto a vote on the anti-lynching resolution

by John in DC - 6/15/2005 02:00:00 AM

Okay, now it's getting good.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an article up (sign in as "dailykos" first name, password "dailykos", and email "") pointing the finger at Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) as the man who refused to have a real roll call vote on the anti-lynching resolution.

Frist then tried to blame the debacle on Senators George Allen (R-VA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), saying THEY didn't want a real roll vote to put Senators on the record. Not true, say Landrieu and Allen. They WANTED a real vote, but Frist would not allow it. He did NOT want Senators to have to go on the record. Nor did Frist want the issue to come up at all during daytime, because evidently he didn't want the resolution getting much media attention.

And why is that? Was the Republican leader of the Senate afraid that all 100 Senators would support a resolution opposing lynching, and that would be a BAD thing? God forbid America speak with one voice against lynching black people.

Or did Frist fear/know that far too many of his own party - 15 in fact - refused to endorse the resolution and may have voted against it if forced to actually vote on the record?

Either way, this stinks. Bill First, the Republican leader of the United States Senate, vetoed having a roll call vote on a resolution apologizing to victims of lynchings. He tried to hide the resolution in the middle of the night so no one would no about it.

It's high time we demanded to know why 27% of the Republicans in the US Senate refuse to come out in opposition to lynching. All the Democrats now support the resolution. So why not the Republicans? Or was Howard Dean right? The GOP is the party of far-right Christian WHITE people?


June 15, 2005 at 01:25 PM in Current Affairs, Democracy, Games, News to Note, Politics, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

congratulating ms vivian darkbloom on her new identity...

Isn't blogland wonderful? Change identities like trying on a new pair of pants! Sorry I was so late catching on.


Link: adventures in navel-gazing: the taking of darkbloom, one two three, or, who am I this time?.

the taking of darkbloom, one two three, or, who am I this time?

So I created this blog thing.

Not surprisingly, some Nabokov-loving soul had already snagged "vivian darkbloom" as a user name. "darkbloom" was taken too. Quelle disappointment. Well, for all of five minutes, actually.

While I tried to think of some other vaguely fashionable, literary-wanker nom de plume, I realized something: I was tired of being vivian darkbloom. Well, that's all fine and good. As someone once said, "change is as good as a haircut." (Er, it may have been the other way around, I fear; but wait, does that make sense? "A haircut is as good as change"? Why not just, "A haircut is a good change"? Can we just forget I said all that? Too lazy to delete.)

This blog is about turning over a new leaf, about taking my writing in a different direction--or trying to at the very least. So it makes sense I would craft another "identity" of sorts to celebrate that, to mark the occasion, as inauspicious as it may be.

So I draw inspiration from Lolita again. There's Quilty, Clare Quilty to be precise, the nymphet-loving writer in the book, Humbert's quarry. Darker than Darkbloom, crueler than Humbert, more powerful than a Charlotte Haze leaping into a suburban street. (And played memorably by Peter Sellars in the movie; every time I go back to read the book now, I see Sellars as Quilty.)

It's not that I love Quilty as a character; but his unregenerate bastardness is appealing. You have to be bold to be a Quilty. And I imagine you'd have to be even bolder and stronger to be a Madame Quilty. Because I mean, really, who would marry such an asshole?

Oh. Right.

you go girl! I'm staying tuned.

June 14, 2005 at 09:31 PM in Cyberculture, Favorite Links, Interactivity, Singing the Bite Me Song, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack