Friday, September 17, 2004

Still Here - Reading, Writing and Political Correctness

Well, just wanted to drop a line and let you know that I'm still here. I am in the middle of reading some additional information on the history of Sunni/Salafi/Wahhabi/Shia/etc rolled up with some Al-Qaida manifesto to try and clarify the potential "Divide and Conquer" strategy of the "war on terror".

Just reading some interesting info on the Saudi Royal Family and successions and political divisions (ie, reformist, pro-US, anti-us, Wahhabi or die, etc) within the royal family. Seems like this is a microcosm of how we need to do "divide and conquer" within the general population of the ME.

When I feel like I have a clue, I'll write some more on the subject. Maybe have to go more than three parts, this part is so interesting and complex.

In the mean time, commenter "madtom" makes an interesting observation on controlling the flow of oil and terrorism:

This is not news to anyone, we are well aware that the worlds economy and our own war fighting ability, hinges on a supply of oil. The question that
you should be asking is, what is this administration doing about it?And all
answers can not be just pound the enemy, we need to take the enemies best
weapon off the table.Everyone should buy a hybrid car and truck and save a
third the oil than a regular car. Sometimes the solution is right there in
front of your eyes.Madtom

This is one very interesting part of the "divide and conquer" thought. I think I've posted before that I believe taking the "oil" issue off the table might implode Saudi Arabia and might not. The reality is, if we don't buy it (and we only buy about 12% of oil from these folks) somebody else will. Maybe not a good reason, but certainly means we at least have some financial pull with these folks. If we had substantial oil reserves or alternatives, I could see putting a blockade up. On the other hand, China and the Korea's get almost 80% of their oil from SA and that might not be too good. France and Germany get about 30%, but, if you know your history, the SA put an embargo on all oil and just about shut down the US, France and Germany.

On the other hand, if you remember my posting on the famed "Cheney Energy Task Force" and the demand to have all of the documents released. Lots of folks were running around swearing it was the administrations attempt to undermine the EPA regs on behalf of their business associates. Nice try. If you actually read the documents (and I'm too lazy to look it up and midnight; go find my "Blood for Oil" series in archives) some of it WAS about how certain regulations was making it difficult (read: more costly) to refine oil here (oil refineries in the US now number about 75 opposed to the hey day of the 80's when it was more like a hundred or so) or produce certain energy alternates like coal, natural gas and hydro-electric. The task force took recommendations from multiple sources (including these businesses) about how they could actually manage increasing these energy sources if certain restrictions were raised and others were enforced (I can't tell you if this is good or bad since I didn't see any environmental reports to go with it).

Also on the task force agenda and in the documents was the review of existing oil reserves, those that were drilled, those that were being explored and those that no one explored yet because of extraction/logistics issues. From my view, it appeared a legitimate attempt to review our options. The Supreme Court threw out the suit demanding to see all of these documents under the "Freedom of Information" act, upholding the right of the President and his staff to have "confidential meetings and information" in regards to policy making. I fully agreed with the Supreme Court mainly because I thought that the few documents that were released was pretty much "telegraphing" our intentions to every Tom, Dick or Harryto go find other energy sources and by oil from some place outside of the OPEC world.

Uh...Anybody notice we're at war? Why would we or should we tell our enemies what we are planning to do to keep our energy resources viable? In doing so, and not having identified or fully implemented an alternate plan, doesn't that give the folks that we are dependent on (like SA) a heads up and a weapon to use against us (like decreasing supplies or embargoes)?

Also, if we are looking to perform "divide and conquer", would you cut off support to your allies in a potentially hostile government (ie, Saudi Arabia/SA)?

One other issue...I've been reading about the hybrid cars. Seems like we need a hefty amount of oil to create the energy source for the hybrid vehicle. Almost a catch 22. Good for the consumer at the gas station until you look into the cost of actual production for the alternate fuel. And guess who will eventually pay?

Not to say that Tom's comment doesn't pose an interesting point. We in the consumer world can "vote with our feet" as they say by developing and supporting alternate energy sources, buying cars that get 70 miles to the gallon and doing some energy conservation around the house.

My opinion is that we need to, at least, be in the position to say that we don't NEED some folks oil, but rather WANT to buy it, if only they would participate a little stronger against the terrorists. Or, at least, be prepared to do something different about our oil needs should SA and related areas implode.

Just some thoughts. Maybe the rest of you have some ideas?

In regards to "political correctness"...

So, I'm walking through my "home" office (the branch in the city where I live) going to the lunch room to grab a soda (yes, I know it's bad for you, but that's my preferred "caffeine" fix and I am REALLY mean when I don't have at least 2 during the day) when I notice the "public" display board outside of the lunch room. There, folks post all sort of interesting things, like jokes or pictures or advertisement for the sale of personal computers and such. One of the items on the board was a four page email. It was basically in the format of a multiple question test. The test and questions went something like this:

In 1993, the WTC bombing was performed by:
a) Middle class white Americans
b) Red Chinese partisans
c) Frenchmen that drank to much wine
d) Arab Muslim men between the ages of 19-40

All of the questions were similar and had the same answer "D: Arab Muslim men...

The last part of the email went something like "This is why we should have profiling...all of the terrorists involved in these incidents were Arab Muslim Men...write your congressman."

Now, I wasn't disputing the answers to the questions, but I had a huge concern. This email was posted in a public space AT A COMPANY location. While I know that we have no practicing Muslim's in that office, but, that seemed like blatant discrimination and I'd hate for one of our customers that was Muslim or for us to hire a new employee that was so and have them read the email.

The sentiments of the email might be true, but I was not going to let that pass. I've posted my own little rip at Islam here a number of times, but work is a totally different environment. There can be no intimation of discrimination. Opens us up for law suits (instead, we have everyone "screened" before hire).

So, I discretely went into the HR department and said, "hey, take a look at this email. Do you think it's appropriate?" HR agreed with me that that is not an appropriate venue for someone's prejudice. It's work, for the love of G-D! The email was removed forthwith.

Like I said, I might have agreed with some of the contents, but it cannot invade our work environment.

Anybody else experience this kind of issue?


madtom said...

Hey wow , first time I make the front page anywhere!!
you said:
"One other issue...I've been reading about the hybrid cars. Seems like we need a hefty amount of oil to create the energy source for the hybrid vehicle."

I was wondering what alternate fuels you are talking about?
Hybrid car's like all freight trains run on regular fuels, if you are talking about the hydrogen car, then I agree that this is far from ready, but Bush seems to think that they are, not me, I think we are at least 25 yr away from a reliable and economical hydrogen car. Bush is a complete fool to try to remove the tax incentives on hybrid's and move them to hydrogen. A crucial error in this war.
Current models are being made on the standard assembly lines, and should cost exactly the same if not less. Yes that's right I said less money to build a better car. simple reason is that transmissions are the most expensive part of the drivetrain. I know that the hybrid car takes a big battery, equivalent to four or five standard car batteries, this is probably it's weakest point as these are expensive and hard to dispose of, but given the choice of battery landfills and the status quo, I'll take landfills till we can get the batteries fixed. The freight trains don't use any.

"We in the consumer world can "vote with our feet" as they say by developing and supporting alternate energy sources, buying cars that get 70 miles to the gallon and doing some energy conservation around the house."

I just wanted to add that it is possible today to get much more than 70 mpg, maybe as much at 120mpg, using technology that is available today. But the oil execs. are not going to help us one bit. We need to demand it from the manufactures. If they feel the pinch they will comply.
Thank you again for pushing my thoughts up to the surface.


Nas said...

In regard to political correctness and Muslim men, I just wanted to note that I have not seen even a peep of this in my company. We have about 25,000 employees, with over 600 branches throughout the U.S., and in my position I deal with about 1/3 of them throughout the west and southwest, and travel to about 1/10 of them.

I haven't even heard an off-color joke, received an off-color email, and definately have not seen anything posted publically as you did.

I normally wouldn't post to say that something has NOT occured, but in this situation I think its significant that it hasn't.