Thursday, October 31, 2013


Professor Zachary C. Shirkey teaches at a major university in New York.  I am just a retired small town 80-year-old community college instructor.   Why he ignores my repeated requests to debate me in print is a mystery to me.  I have made 5 attempts to engage him by challenging him to debate in print and hundreds of viewers of this blog have seen them.  Surely the word has gotten to Shirkey by now.  All you need do, Zachary Shirkey, is write to me in the comments section of this blog.  Then I will add you to the blog site and you can write as much and as often as you like.

                              NO BLOOD FOR OIL

                               by Keith F. Shirey

                 Professor, Political Science Emeritus
                Citrus Community College, California

The blogsite “The National Interest” presents commentary from “mainstream” scholars and professors.  The conventional wisdom found there is that the United States has vital interests in the (mostly ) Arab Middle East and the rest of Africa, particularly in the North.  In my view, this is not the case but I thought I’d visit web sites of scholarly publications and see if their content might change my view.  Typical of what I found was and article by Professor Zachary C. Shirkey, an associate professor of political science at Hunter College, City University of New York.  Shirkey, on July 29, 2013 wrote a commentary entitled, “America Can’t Escape the Middle East.”  

 As you read on, you may think that I have chosen an easy target in Professor Shirkey.  While it is true that his capacity for logical thinking is impaired, as compared to those of his published colleagues, the content of his commentary seems to be the usual fare:  What passes for erudite exposition, usually contains questionable assumptions, dubious claims and “facts” that have no place in a well-reasoned piece.  Shirkey’s commentary, in this sense, is typical. 

The Professor seems never to have had a course in Introduction To Basic Logic.  The idea that claims in an argument should be provided premise support adequate to make the conclusions seem, at least, plausible seems to be something of a mystery to him.  For example, at the outset of his commentary, he suggests that the primary goal of Al Qaeda and other jihadi groups is to institute sharia law throughout the world.   Well, maybe, but wouldn’t it be helpful if Shirkey provided a bit of support for that assertion?   He  does say that Sweden was attacked, in 2010, by a human bomber taking orders from al Qaeda but that’s hardly conclusive proof that Islamic terrorists want to impose sharia law there or anywhere.

As a matter of fact, the artist Lars Vilksdrawings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad as aroundabout dog, and the presence of Sweden’s military forces in Afghanistan were the reasons given by the “Stockholm Bomber,” that Professor Shirkey is referring to, for the attack.   One supposes that if jihadi groups wanted to impose sharia on Sweden they would need to have taken more assertive measures than one bombing attack in the last 2,000 years!  Furthermore, we need to know just what other measures could the jihadi groups have used to promote sharia law in Sweden (and around the world) and what is the evidence that they have been used.

Shirkey, then, “argues” that the U.S. can’t “escape the Middle East” because terrorist groups there want to impose sharia law throughout the world.  He next asserts that there is no escape because they want to resurrect the Muslim Caliiphate.  That, of course it the Muslim “super-state” that would be comprised of all existing Muslim states.  Perhaps, although that is certainly not my view, that would be a threat to U.S. national interests, but the reader is never given an explanation as to why.   So, just as is the case with the issue of sharia law, we are supposed to take on faith that “America can’t escape the Middle East” .  Where is Mr. Logic when we need him?   He certainly won’t be found in Professor Shirkey’s office at Hunter College.

It just gets worse.  Shirkey continues his “argument” by stating, “Simply ignoring the threat [worldwide imposition of sharia law and the Caliphate] would be counterproductive, meaning the use of drones to target Al Qaeda leaders and associated fighters will continue.  The United States will remain at the center of high profile counterterrorism efforts throughout the region, as well as part of continuing multilateral non-proliferations efforts.”[sic]

So, ignoring the [totally unproven] “threat” is “counterproductive.”  Why?  I don’t know and evidently Shirkey doesn’t either.  If he does, he doesn’t say why.  At the risk of not keeping the reader awake I’ve go to say again, where is the premise support for such a claim?  Mr. Logic, where are you hiding?

Professor Shirkey assumes that the reader will go along with his advocacy of the use of drones as an effective instrument against his (unproven) threat.    But , to use his term “counterproductive,” it is drones that seem very often to cause more problems  than they solve.  Drone attacks kill civilians, rescue workers that try to aid the hurt and dying and increase recruitment by militant groups.  See

Shirkey soldiers on to give other reasons as to why the U.S. must stay in the Middle East.  He suggests that, while the United States may, in the future, no longer need to import oil, it needs to be “vitally concerned” in assuring that the global price of oil be stable.   Economic downturns in other countries, caused by the spike in oil prices, will negatively effect the United States he argues.   Worse, would be an interruption in the flow of oil.  There is a U.S. “security stake” involved:  “The bottom line is clear, the United States will have ongoing security and economic interests in the Middle East even if it is not a net importer of oil” he concludes.

So, just how is the United States going to assure that the price of oil will be stable and its supplies not be cut off?  Well , one doesn’t need a clear chrystal  ball by now to predict that Professor Shirkey keeps this a secret from us in his commentary.   Perhaps in conversation with himself the Professor knows.  But, after all, this is a public commentary, and, as we have seen, in issue after issue, he will withhold his knowledge and wisdom from us.

What is utterly unbelievable is that Professor Shirkey does not mention that rather well-known Middle Eastern country, the state of Israel  (perhaps he thinks it’s in Europe?) in a discussion of why the U.S. will have to remain in the Middle East.  This omission takes one’s breath away! Israel is not just a nation state ally of the U.S. that is a battle tested laboratory for U.S. weapons systems!  There seems to be an agreement among many scholars that the US-Israel relationship is like no other in history.  Some argue that Israel is the U.S.’ 51st state.  Certainly It could be argued that the U.S. and Israel have “shared strategic interests” and values that involve the U.S. national interest.  Who knows what Shirkey would say about that.  

A question overlooked by Professor Shirkey is whether jihadists in the Middle East constitute an “existential threat” to the U.S. homeland (fatherland? motherland?).   The collapse in the Middle East of core al Qaeda and a number of its key affiliates does not, of course, mean that jihadist violence is over.  Such religiously motivated mayhem has been a feature of the Muslim world for many centuries.  But one of the major arguments for “not escaping the Middle East,” which is now being particularly applied to North Africa, is that if we were to do so, the homeland would be put in jeopardy.  I see no proof of that.  See Sevmas Milne, The Guardian of 1/22/13.  Again, one wonders what the Professor would say.

The United States has caused the deaths, and physical/mental wounding of thousands of its own troops in the Middle East.  It has spent trillions of its treasure for no good reason.  It has killed over a million of Middle Eastern civilians (mostly in Iraqis).  That the war in Iraq was unnecessary is now almost a cliché.  That the prolonged war in Afghanistan has been mostly pointless is now being widely acknowledged. 

The danger of Professor Shirkey’s commentary, and those like it in “scholarly” publications, is that these careless, illogical, presentations—particularly when they neglect highly significant facts and issues— can be influential in the political world because they are made by “respectable” academics.  Perhaps it is too obvious to state, but they serve as rationalizations, excuses for war and other acts of state violence that benefit exclusively profit driven entities, particularly multinational oil companies. 

Stripped of its nonsense about sharia law and the Caliphate, Shirkley is simply trying to make the case of more blood for oil.    General John Abizaid, former had of the U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq said about that war, “Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that.” Much of that blood is now and will be spilled by thousands of innocents in the drone attacks that Professor Shirkey advocates in his cold-blooded  piece in The National Interest.

But it is not in the national interest to foment hatred of the United States through the use of drones or giving aid to tribes, clans and countries that will aid multinationals in oil and mineral exploration and extraction. This will only result in recruiting for jihadist groups which are now most powerful in North Africa where the U.S. is “pivoting.”   Al Qaeda and its affiliates are not currently threats to the U.S. homeland, despite what the hysterical Congressman Mike Rogers, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has to say.    However, in the future they could be because aiding recruitment and adding strength to these groups could result in payback on U.S. soil.
In North Africa there is much oil and other mineral resources to war over and many crazy religious zealots to be recruited.   And, perhaps, in the future there will be another 9/11, this time a payback for blood for oil.

What’s your end game, Professor Zachary C. Shirkey?  


Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) speaks during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 20, 2013. Opposition by Democrats to cuts in the food stamp program helped lead to the defeat of the House farm bill, raising questions about financing for the nation's farm and nutrition programs this year. (Christopher Gregory / The New York Times).Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) speaks during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 20, 2013. Opposition by Democrats to cuts in the food stamp program helped lead to the defeat of the House farm bill, raising questions about financing for the nation's farm and nutrition programs this year. (Christopher Gregory / The New York Times).

The Republican war on food stamps is based on one giant lie.

Last month, Republicans in the House approved a bill that would cut a staggering $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, over the next decade.
President Obama has said that he will veto that House bill should it reach his desk, but the damage is still going to be done.
That's because this Friday, November 1, the SNAP program will be slashed by $5 billion anyway, thanks to the expiration of the 2009 Recovery Act that increased funding to that program.
Ask any Republican on Capitol Hill about these cuts, and they'll tell you they're a blessing.
They'll say that the billions we spend each year on the SNAP program are a waste, and that the program is hurting our economy.
The Republican story couldn't be any further from the truth.
The 13.6 percent boost in food stamp aid in the 2009 Recovery Act helped to lift more than half a million Americans out of food insecurity, and millions more out of poverty.
Food stamps lifted 4.7 million Americans out of poverty in 2011 alone, and when Americans are lifted out of poverty, the entire economy benefits.
As Christopher Cook over at Mother Jones brilliantly points out, "extensive research shows food stamps are a highly effective investment delivering big returns for all Americans, not just the poor. SNAP not only provides an economic and nutritional lifeline for low-income Americans, it also creates a significant boon to the wider economy." 
In other words, the billions of dollars the government spends each year on food stamps are being reinvested in the economy, and acting as a giant government stimulus.
According to the Department of Agriculture's Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, for every $5 spent on food stamps, up to $9 is generated in economic activity.
And the food stamps program is putting thousands of Americans to work, too.
For every $1 billion in retail food demand from Americans in the SNAP program, 3,330 farm jobs are created across America.
Even George Bush understood the economic benefits and powerful stimulus effects of food stamps.
In an attempt to help bring America out of the recession after 9/11, the Bush administration doubled SNAP funding between 2000 and 2008, from $20 billion to $40 billion in today's dollars. 
As points out, 14.7 million Americans were added to the food stamp rolls by Bush. That's 14.7 million Americans who were able to use the assistance they received from the government to reinvest in the American economy.
But the issue goes deeper than just the economics of food stamps. It goes to the heart of American values.
Do we, the richest country on earth, really want to be a place where people go hungry when capitalism hits its periodic speed-bumps?
Back on January 11, 1944 in his State of the Union Address, FDR proposed his economic bill of rights, often referred to as the "Second Bill of Rights."
It was in that "Second Bill of Rights" that FDR said that every American should have, "the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation."
Whether Republicans like it or not, access to enough food should be a right in this country, not just a privilege. If the free market fails to provide food for the people, than it's the responsibility of the government to step in and provide it.
Given the massive economic benefits that food stamps give us, let's become a more perfect union, by preserving this vital lifeline for millions of Americans.
It's not just good economics; it's also the right thing to do.
This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.


"A second study published last week by University of Pittsburgh Professor David Barker and Professor David Bearce of the University of Colorado found that a fundamentalist Christian belief in biblical End Times is a significant motivating factor behind Republican voter resistance to curbing climate change.
According to Bearce and Barker, 76 percent of self-identified Republicans say they believe in the End Times. “Since the world is going to end at a predestined time anyhow,” their logic goes, “it would be heretical to curb our destructive appetites under the delusion that we can do anything about pushing back God’s ordained date.”"

FRI, 5/17/2013 - BY ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.
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In a surprise move, the eight Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week blocked a floor vote on President Obama’s nominee, Gina McCarthy, as U.S. EPA Administrator. In doing so the Republican senators broke their earlier promise to move McCarthy’s nomination if she answered an unprecedented 1,079 written questions, a quest she completed.
Political observers assume the Republican roadblock is meant to derail or delay the implementation of a new EPA rule, promised by President Obama to finally regulate carbon pollution. The Republican ranking member, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, orchestrated the double cross. Vitter is an unabashed mouthpiece for the petroleum industry and record breaking receptacle for petrodollars having received $1.2 million in oil company largesse during his public service career. With cash gushers of oily money cascading down their open gullets, the Republican leadership’s mercenary devotion to Big Oil shouldn’t shock us. However, the boldness of the party’s most recent assault on the public interest might cause us to ponder how GOP’s honchos’ knee jerk slavishness to petroleum interest has infected its rank and file.
The perversity of the modern conservative mind is displayed in two studies published last week. Those studies illustrate the extent to which the right wing has become the ideological sock puppet of Big Oil and the GOP’s army of right wing Christian fundamentalists oil industry foot soldiers. A peer-reviewed National Academy of Sciences report shows that the label “energy efficient” on a product actually makes it less likely that self-identified conservatives will purchase that product. Why? Because morally twisted right wing orthodoxy has taken the “conserve” out of conservatism. Craven hatred of all things environmental has made the labels “clean,” “green” or “efficient” pariah among GOP acolytes. Conversely, dirty energy is patriotic and even “blessed.”
Big Oil’s Orwellian skill at employing the rhetoric of patriotism and emblazoning its enterprises with stars and stripes, has stitched the notion that conservation is synonymous with “anti-American” into the fabric of GOP talking points. In 2006, President George W. Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer answered a press query about whether President Bush believed in fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, saying, “That’s a big ‘No.’ The President believes that it’s an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country … Conservation alone is not the answer.”
After a decade of this brand of oily claptrap from the industry’s political toadies and its talking heads on Fox News and hate radio, many conservative Americans now embrace the farcical presumption that buying and burning gas is a patriotic act. In 2008, as the oil industry raked in record profits by raking Americans with record prices at the pump, the party of the petro plutocrats proudly adopted Big Oil’s rallying cry as its mantra “Drill, Baby, Drill.”
By the way, Fleischer’s use of the term “blessed” to describe unconscionable profligacy and immoral waste reflect another GOP orthodoxy—the notion that God wants us to burn oil. A second study published last week by University of Pittsburgh Professor David Barker and Professor David Bearce of the University of Colorado found that a fundamentalist Christian belief in biblical End Times is a significant motivating factor behind Republican voter resistance to curbing climate change.
According to Bearce and Barker, 76 percent of self-identified Republicans say they believe in the End Times. “Since the world is going to end at a predestined time anyhow,” their logic goes, “it would be heretical to curb our destructive appetites under the delusion that we can do anything about pushing back God’s ordained date.”
Anointing rapacious behavior with religious gloss is an old strategy for both right wing conservatives and the extraction industry. When a House Oversight Committee summoned Ronald Reagan’s first Secretary of Interior, James Watt, to explain his caper to sell off American’s public lands, waters and mineral rights to oil, mining and timber companies at what the General Accounting Office called “fire sale prices,” Watt, a former mining and oil company lawyer, retorted, “I don’t know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns.” Embracing his party line, along with its hook and sinker, Watt explained that environmentalism was a plot to “weaken America” and dismissed environmentalists as a “left wing cult which seeks to bring down the kind of government I believe in.”
Watt was an early proponent of Dominion Theology, the authoritarian Christian heresy that cites cherry-picked phrases from the book of Genesis to advocate man’s duty to subdue nature. His carbon industry alliances and Apocalyptical Christianity inspired Secretary Watt to set about dismantling his department and distributing its assets to his pals. His disciple and former employee, Gale Norton, another energy industry lawyer and lobbyists, would continue the chicanery when she succeeded Watt as Interior Secretary during George W. Bush’s administration. As Shakespeare observed, “The devil can quote Scripture to serve his own purposes.”
In reality, there is nothing patriotic, moral or religious about Big Oil. A storied history of perfidy and greed has distinguished these companies among the most treasonous and piratical of all American business enterprises. Halliburton’s decision to relocate to the Cayman Islands after fattening itself on $9 billion worth of inherently crooked no-bid, cost-plus contracts during the Iraq War is only one of many examples of their shaky loyalty to our country. Before it vaulted onto the bandwagon of patriotism, Texaco flew not “Old Glory” but the “Jolly Roger” over its Houston headquarters, proudly adopting the pirate flag as the emblem of a pirate industry.
The threats from global climate change and ocean acidification are only the tip of a melting iceberg. Not satiated with simply destroying the planet, the oil industry’s relentless greed has eroded American’s economic independence, imperiled our national security, and ruined our global economic leadership and moral authority.
America’s national security is rooted in a strong economy at home. As Republican oilman T. Boone Pickens has acknowledged, our deadly addition to oil is the principal drag on American capitalism. Our nation is borrowing a billion dollars a day to purchase a billion dollars of foreign oil, much of it from nations that don’t share our values or that are outright hostile to our interests.
Our oil jones has us funding both side of the war against terror! Big Oil has embroiled us in foreign wars supporting petty dictators who despise democracy and who are hated by their own people. The export of $700 billion dollars annually of American wealth has beggared our nation, which, a few short decades ago, owned half the wealth on Earth.
Add to these cataclysmic numbers, the $100 billion annual military cost of protecting oil infrastructure in the Persian Gulf, trillions spent on various oil wars over the past decade, billions more in economic injury from oil spills in Valdez, the Gulf of Mexico and in American rivers from the Hudson to the Kalamazoo to the Yellowstone, the massive damage done to the coast of Louisiana from local drilling companies which aggravated New Orleans’ destruction by Katrina, not to mention the hundreds of billions annually in externalized health care costs from illnesses caused by the oil industry.
If the oil industry had to pay the true costs of bringing its product to market, gas prices would be upwards of $12 per gallon at the pump, according to economist Amory Lovins, and most Americans would be running to buy electric cars.
With low cost disruptive technologies like cheap, fast and efficient electric vehicles, and solar and wind technologies poised to displace Big Oil, the industry is using its hold on the Republican Party to permanently embed itself in our economy while subverting science, American democracy, free market capitalism and our sacred belief in an ethical God.
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IOC President Bach Should Use Sochi Visit to Challenge Abusive Law, Practices
OCTOBER 28, 2013
With the Sochi Games now 100 days away, time is running out for the IOC and President Bach to urge Russia to clean up its abusive laws and practices. There can be no grand celebration of the upcoming Games when Russia has so blatantly trampled the Olympic principles of human dignity and nondiscrimination.
Jane Buchanan, associate director for Europe and Central Asia
(Moscow) – With just 100 days before the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi,Russia, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a key opportunity to speak out about abuses linked to Russia’s preparations for the Games.

The IOC should also call on Russia to repeal a law that discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, Human Rights Watch said.

Newly elected IOC President Thomas Bach is in Sochi to attend the IOC’s World Conference on Sport and Environment, to be held October 30 to November 1, 2013. It is his first visit to Russia as the new IOC leader, and Russian authorities are likely to be watching for his willingness to defend Olympic principles and basic human rights. Bach met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 28.

“With the Sochi Games now 100 days away, time is running out for the IOC and President Bach to urge Russia to clean up its abusive laws and practices,” saidJane Buchanan, associate director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch. “There can be no grand celebration of the upcoming Games when Russia has so blatantly trampled the Olympic principles of human dignity and nondiscrimination.”

Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi from February 7-23, 2014. It will host the Winter Paralympic Games from March 7-16, also in Sochi.

Human Rights Watch has documented human rights abuses linked to Russia’s preparations for the Games since 2009, including:
  • Exploitationof construction workers, including migrant workers, engaged on Olympic venues and massillegal detentionsand illegal deportations of workers;
  • Evictionsof some homeownersand their families without proper, or in some cases any, compensation and failure to compensate or provide reasonable alternative accommodations to people whose houses and property have been damaged or compromised by Olympic construction; and
  • Harassmentof journalists and civil society activists criticizing the government’s policies in Sochi, including its preparations for the Games.
On October 18, 2013, a construction worker engaged in building the Main Media Center sewed his mouth shut to protest his employer’s failure to pay his wages and the authorities’ failure to resolve the issue. After the intervention of human rights activists and media attention, the employer paid the worker, and numerous others on the construction site received wages owed to them.

The Main Media Center complex will be a hub for thousands of journalists visiting Sochi to cover the Games and includes a broadcast center, journalists’ work stations, conference rooms, hotel facilities, restaurants, and the like.

Human Rights Watch documentedseveral cases in 2012 in which a subcontracting construction company on the Main Media Center complex site failed to pay workers’ wages, refused to provide employment contracts, and retaliated against workers who complained by kicking them out of their employer-provided dorm.

Migrant Workers’ Rights TrampledSince early September 2013 the Sochi authorities have rounded up thousands of migrant workers and others for suspected immigration or employment law violations. Most appear to have been targeted for their non-Slavic appearance. Police have held many of them in inhuman conditions, including in a garage in the courtyard of Sochi’s central district police station, and in some cases denied them access to lawyers. Authorities have alsodeportedhundreds of workers, in some cases without allowing them to appeal their expulsions or access a lawyer.

“These Olympic Games could not happen without tens of thousands of migrant workers from within and beyond Russia toiling long hours and in often exploitative conditions to build the essential venues, hotels, roads, transportation hubs, and other infrastructure,” Buchanan said. “Yet the employers responsible for key Olympic venues have gotten away with abusive practices, including cheating workers out of wages, sometimes for many months.”

All workers on Olympic venues should receive their full wages and not suffer retaliation for filing complaints, said Human Rights Watch.

Not Reassuring “Assurances” 
In June 2013 the Russian Duma passed a lawbanning dissemination among children of any information “promoting” “non-traditional sexual relationships” and providing a “distorted notion of social equivalence of traditional and nontraditional sexual relationships.” The ban applies to the press, television, radio, and the Internet. Although the law does not define “non-traditional,” it is widely understood to mean lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships.

The IOC has sought “assurances” from the Russian government that the anti-LGBT propaganda law will not be used against those participating in or visiting for the Games. At the same time, senior Russian government officials have stated that the law is not discriminatory and will be implemented without exception, including during the Sochi Olympics.

The IOC has refused to call on Russia to repeal the law, despite the fact that the Olympic Charter’s principle 6 states, “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

The Charter does not confine nondiscrimination principles to the period of the Olympic Games alone.

On October 27 three LGBT rights activists in St. Petersburg were taken to a police station after waving rainbow flags as the Olympic Torch traveled through the city on its 123-day relayacross Russia before the Olympic opening ceremonies on February 7, 2014. The activists were asked to provide written explanations of their conduct, but as of October 29, no charges have been brought against them.

“The Sochi Olympics risk being remembered as the anti-gay Games, unless the IOC is willing to stand up and defend the principles of its own Olympic Charter,” Buchanan said. “There is still a chance for Sochi to go down in history as the Games that established that there is no place for discrimination in the Olympic Movement.”