Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The Palin/Biden Prize will be given periodically to editorialists, columnists, commentators, and bloggers who produce articles which are especially factually or intellectually challenged; lack coherence; reflect an obvious ideological purpose; upon sober reflection by the author, are likely to cause a queasy feeling of embarrassment and the desire for retraction; or are just plain dumb.

     This week's Palin-Biden award goes to Randall Amster, self described "peace educator","author", and "activist". Amster's article in Huffington Post, no surprise there, “Black Gold: The Lifeblood of War”, easily fits most of the qualifying categories for the award; "factually and intellectually challenged"; lacking in "coherence"; reflective of an "obvious ideological purpose" and is in it's very essence, "just plain dumb".

     Let me count the ways.

     Amster's stated premise by itself confirms his qualifications for the prestigious prize:

     The explosion of BP’s oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico and the subsequent disastrous oil spill he says, was “a putative (i.e. generally believed?) act of war.”

     This is evidence that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have indeed gone on too long. The anti-war Left has gotten bored with them and is inventing new ones. At least Amster’s tortured logic to support this claim is more amusing than aggravating.

     “. . .wherever there's oil, there's war -- or at least the seeds of conflict ...” Therefore:

The “U.S. will essentially do anything in its power to control as much of the world's remaining oil supplies as it possibly can, either through direct intervention or by proxy.”

But whose oil suppies does the U.S. control besides its own? The Gulf states? Nothing like an oil embargo or OPEC cartel price hike to cast a cloud over this statement. Maybe he was talking about Venezuela, except that Hugo Chavez would choke on his frijoles if someone told him the U.S. controlled his oil. Well, since Amster is a "peace educator", he is probably immersed in the Left's "No ,Blood for Oil" slogan which they tried to apply to Iraq. But the new Iraqi government controls their oil so that doesn't fit either. But reality doesn't stop Amster's follow up conclusion either:

     “Thus, in order to extend the life of the petroleum economy and provide the massive energy inputs that we rely upon , we have to drill deeper and deeper to procure the substance at ever-increasing energy costs in the process. This literal sense of "diminishing returns" is compounded by the attendant toll exacted on our collective health via fossil fuels, as well as the concomitant stratification of wealth and power that subverts any pretense we still hold of democracy. Massive spills and other calamities are part and parcel of this normalization of a warlike attitude toward nature.”

     OK, the war he’s talking about is a metaphor for social and environmental costs associated with the recovery of oil. That sounds a bit more reasonable except for the strange claim that oil exploration is the enemy of democracy , makes us unhealthy and leads to a wealth gap. But wait, his war analogy grows arms and legs as he warms up. Again speaking of the recent off shore drilling rig explosion , Amster declares:

     “Halliburton IS the War Machine: Finally, we come to the most likely culprit in all of this, and a sure sign that indeed this is an act of war. Wherever Halliburton goes, so goes the war machine.”

     Halliburton, a perptetual target of the Left, is of course the international oil field service company that worked on the rig. This assertion leads Amster to cite what must be a leafy green plant induced blog report that North Korea “torpedoed” the Deep Water Horizon platform to cause President Obama to nuke the leaking well to stop the leak and thus embarrass himself at the month long Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review going on at the UN. Amazingly, this story is now circulating on the Internet and actually attracting some tin foil hat wearing believers. Now in fairness, Amster recognizes this fantasy for what it is but he uses it to create another. Lacking facts, Left wing bloggers and conspiracy theorists like to cite each other as sources. Thus Amster gives us this:

     “A YouTube video (. . . more bluntly asserts that "Halliburton Caused Oil Spill," and notes the fact -- confirmed by Halliburton's own press release -- that its employees had worked on the final cementing "approximately 20 hours prior to the incident." Interestingly, one commenter on the YouTube video notes how "that would conveniently explain the North Korean story; [Halliburton] may have leaked this story to the press to divert attention away from alleged negligence."

     Ignoring the fact that nobody to the political right of Jane Fonda would believe such "corporate evil" dumbness, Amster concludes:
     “Wouldn't that just be the ultimate? Halliburton spawns the calamity but pins it on North Korea, and then the nation goes to war whereby Halliburton "cleans up" through billions in war-servicing contracts. “

     So Halliburton purposely, or through sheer incompetence, sabotages the well, then blames it on a North Korean torpedo in hopes of starting a war with North Korea, a nuclear weapons nation, in an effort to gain lucrative “war contracts”. Wow! This deserves the Tom Clancy Award.

     Meanwhile, back in the real world; when BP the owner of the well and operator of the drilling platform and Halliburton, get finished paying the billions that will be awarded by the courts for damages and clean up, they will indeed need long term contracts to recover, but it is fanciful to believe that the executives of those companies see a nuclear conflict as a profit center. But of course there are always the movie rights.

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