Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hope, Change, And Reality

What happens when the lead dog, the lead bull, or the lead stallion weakens? Fighting - until a new one emerges. That could happen quickly or it could take a while. If the United States is perceived by the rest of the world to be in decline, we can expect fighting to increase worldwide.

Perception is reality in politics, especially in a democracy because people vote based on their perceptions of candidates or issues. Americans perceived Barack Obama as a brilliant, articulate leader who would bring Americans together to solve common problems here and in the rest of the world. That resulted in his election. Perception is indeed reality in politics, and its also true that war is an extension of politics by other means. When the rest of the world perceives President Obama as weak, America is going to be challenged. It’s already starting. Expect it to escalate this year.

Most historians point to periods of relative peace over the past two millennia starting with “Pax Romana,” or the “Peace of Rome,” which lasted about two centuries from the time of Augustus in 27 BC to the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 AD. Why? Because most of the world knew Roman legions were so strong that to challenge them was futile. There were uprisings, sure. Jewish Zealots rebelled in Israel, but they were put down so thoroughly and decisively their uprising became the exception that proved the rule. Others watched and heeded as Rome killed more than a million Jews and scattered the rest across the empire in the Great Diaspora. Then came “Pax Brittanica,” which lasted about half as long - 1815-1914. The world knew it was futile to challenge British rule as enforced by its navy. Then came the “Pax Americana” which began in 1945. How long will it last? As long as the world perceives it’s futile to challenge the United States. My guess, sadly, is that it won’t last much longer.The 52% of Americans who voted for Obama in 2008 believed he would charm the world as he had charmed them, as he (at first) charmed Europeans. So, when Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons, President Obama said in January, 2009 that he would talk to them without preconditions. It looks like he really believed he could simply charm the mullahs into giving up their ambitions. This is a country that declared war on the United States back in 1979, that calls America “The Great Satan,” that brings together millions of its people year after year to chant “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” in the streets of Tehran. Again and again, the Iranian president promises to “wipe Israel off the map.” They’ve amassed proxy armies in Gaza and Lebanon that shoot rockets at Israel regularly. What was Obama thinking? What hubris.The mullahs now threaten to close the Strait of Hormuz through which 20% of the world’s oil passes. Just the threat caused prices to jump 2%. An actual attempt could be catastrophic to an already-precarious world economy. Using fast “suicide bomb boats” with warheads would invite swift and deadly response from the US Fifth Fleet. Imagine what shooting and/or bombing in the Persian Gulf would do to oil futures? We’re already looking at $5-a-gallon gas in just a few months, and that’s only if things stay calm.Then there’s the inevitable Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expects it within the next four months. Remember - modern Israel was founded to prevent a repeat of the Holocaust. Iran denies there ever was one but promises another.Israel knows talk is cheap. They know appeasement didn’t work with Hitler when Chamberlain tried it and it won’t work with Iran’s mullahs either. Israel cannot and will not stake its survival on lyrical speeches by Obama. One thing it shares with Iran is the perception that Obama is a weak commander-in-chief - all talk and no action - and that makes war a virtual certainty. Just imagine what all this will do to the world’s economy when oil prices skyrocket and even the availability of oil becomes spotty. Rationing anyone? With all this looming, what did Obama do? Caving to the environmental whackos in his party, he shut down construction of the Keystone pipeline. What is he thinking?Barack Obama portrayed himself as the harbinger of “Hope and Change” when he said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person . . . We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” The 66 million Americans who voted for him had probably that many perceptions of what the changes he effected would look like. I suspect that by the end of this summer, reality will not resemble any of those perceptions. Neither will it be what any had hoped for when they cast their ballots in 2008.However, another “Change” will be manifesting in voter perception come November - when Obama becomes “The one we’ve been waiting to get rid of.”

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25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't rememebr who said it, but those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. I fear this country will repeat it and go down with all the other powers that indulged in effete living. Right on, Tom! There is hope and this country needs to change, but with the buffoons in Washington, and I don't mean just the president, this country is doomed to defeat. The Federalist Papers ought to be required reading for everyone in this country, at least for those who can read!

2/15/12, 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Tom, my only argument with this is that probably 80 percent of those who voted for Mr Obama did it because of his ethnic background or dare I say because he is Black, Negro, African-American or whatever politically correct term we are bullied into using. And the leader in the Republican primaries changes with each vote and the press has its darling of the day and everyone 'oooohs and aaaahhs'. We are naive and fickle and way in over our collective heads. If we actually believe that God blesses America, now would be a really good time, but I am not going to hold my breath.

2/15/12, 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Winston Smith said...

First of all, history teacher? Where did hitler get his oil? ( hint, America)

Try and sell historical revisionism somewhere else---- or to a bunch of twelve year olds. But not to rational, thinking adults.

Iranis not a threat. Period. Turn off the tee vee and the military industrial complex " news". I see you have a clip from RT in your article . Try watching it sometime.

Americans are sick and tired of war Tom. Perhaps a good indicator is that more us troops have committed suicide in the last two years then have died in combat!!
This neo con agenda that Barak has intensified has to end.
Only the sheep believed Obama would change anything.
He is the next neo con. If you want to try and pretend there is a difference, well, you'll have sparse company.

What is it with so called Christians war mongering? Unbelievable. With that rational your can justify anything, huh?

Iran is not a threat. Period. There is no need to keep killing people so that corporations profit, sorry, I meant to say there is no need to keep " nation building".

Real Americans, the ones who have read the costitution, realize Israel is not our concern. We have built them an army a navy and an air force. And how about those billions a year that go to Israel while our own suffer? A true shame.
We have NO constitutional cause to help them. Sorry.
Instead of towing the company line how about apply some of that critical thinking you think you engage in?

2/15/12, 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline will cross through America's agricultural heartland, the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers, the Ogallala aquifer, sage grouse habitat, sandhill crane habitat, walleye fisheries and more. Our public water supplies, crop lands, wildlife habitats and recreational opportunities will all be at risk of dangerous tar sands oil leaks, like the Enbridge Oil Spill in Michigan.... http://www.nwf.org/Global-Warming/Policy-Solutions/Drilling-and-Mining/Tar-Sands/Keystone-XL-Pipeline.aspx

You see, this extremely limiting two party thinking has you blaming "environmental whack jobs" for stopping this abortion? Environmental whack jobs? Seriously? Do you sometimes forget your audience isn't a gaggle of children? I'm sorry, but as an avid outdoorsmen, and a human being, I have to call bullshit. The Keystone Pipelines risks far out way the benefits. Aquifers, rivers, wildlife all at risk so we can import dirty oil?
I suppose if this were to cut through your backyard, or your town, it would be ok?

Please

2/15/12, 3:38 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Anonymous says:

"I suppose if this were to cut through your backyard, or your town, it would be ok?"

It would be fine. We've had pipelines in Maine for a long time. No problems.

Environmental whackos like you said the same thing about the Alaska Pipeline.

2/15/12, 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's an export pipeline. We won't even see the very dirty oil.
Employment outlooks have been greatly exaggerated and the benefits are solely for big oil. Not americans!

But if it makes you feel better to parrot what big oil tells you to think, well, your perogative.

So,let's risk a major fresh water aquifer, countless wildlife and prime agricultural land so Europe and brazil can have some gas...good idea

2/16/12, 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Part 1 said...

I wonder if the thousands of lobbyists pushing for an early decision and approval of the Keystone XL (KXLP) Pipeline are surprised at how easy it is to fool the American public about the real purpose of KXLP. Officially they say that it will lead to 20,000 or more jobs, increased energy independence, and lower prices. The middle claim means it’s in the national interest.

For this piece let’s set aside environmental concerns, or global climate change issues to focus on the three industry claims. How did we get the 20K jobs claim? It came from the KXLP contractor. They hired a consulting firm out of Houston that has had a long association with the petroleum industry. That’s how we get 20K jobs. No independent source has ever verified that claim.

The State Department in their workup concluded that 6K was more like it, not all of which would be in the U.S. The jobs would also be temporary. Permanent jobs would be in the range of 50 to 100.
Jobs aside, it’s the energy independence claim, and lower energy costs that have the drill baby drill crowd all excited. I must admit it sounded logical. Nevertheless I decided to do my own due diligence, you know, that informed voter thing.

My first discovery was there is a pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands region that goes to refineries in the heartland, IL and OK. So why not use the existing pipeline. Could it be that refinery capacity could not be increased? Why did we need a new pipeline or an extension all the way to Gulf refineries? The answer must have been, because that’s where other refining capacity is located.

Second, last year oil and gas extraction, and exploration was at an all time high in the U.S. At the same time our demand decreased by the largest peace time percentage ever. To review, supply was up and demand was down. That should have meant prices decreased as supply increased. But that is not exactly what happened, why you asked?

Third, take a guess at the number one U.S. export last year. To my surprise it was refined fuel, mostly diesel fuel. Where did it go? Most went to Europe while the remainder went to South America. A little voice said uh oh!

2/16/12, 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Part 2 said...

Fourth, can you identify this corporation, CNOCC? It’s the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. They are investing heavily in; you guessed it, the Alberta Tar Sands region. In fact they have pledged $11 billion to the Canadian government. Now ostensibly their Tar Sands Oil (TSO) will flow westward through an as yet nonexistent Gateway Pipeline (GP) that may well turn out to be a pipe dream. As some have said, there is no way that 1st Nation tribes are going to allow that pipeline to traverse their territory.

Suddenly it was clear. The other asset on the Gulf is PORTS! It’s not the refining capacity per se they want. It’s access to ports. I always thought that it was not easy to export a barrel of oil, and indeed it isn’t there are restrictions. But to my surprise it’s very easy to export a refined product like diesel fuel, or gasoline. Which is exactly what went on last year without KXLP TSO.

That’s why prices did not decrease commensurate with the demand decrease. Excess supply was exported. So why do we continue to be taken in by this drill baby drill mentality that says it will make us energy independent. It’s because we continue to suffer under the illusion that WE own oil and gas, that it’s OURs. The fact is, the only barrel of oil we own is in the National Petroleum Reserve. Unlike other countries there is no United States National Oil Corporation. The funny thing is, as the third largest extractor of oil, we sell the rights to our precious commodity for less than any oil producing state on earth. It didn’t use to be that way, but that’s another story.

Now we see the real reason behind the push for KXLP. It’s to deliver the dirtiest petroleum on earth to the Gulf where it will be refined and exported to the highest bidder. So Europe and countries like Brazil get processed fuel without mucking up their environment, or paying for the well known health problems that affect people who live near refineries. What a deal.

Btw the corporations, excepting the Chinese Corporation, are multinationals. They are under no obligations to bring lower energy costs to the U.S. Their bottom line is maximizing profits, which is as it should be. Since KXLP will be completed long before GP. Will Chinese TSO be prohibited from KXLP? I don’t think so. I also don’t think that we will restrict the export of refined products either.
Once again the American people are treated like chumps instead of champs.

2/16/12, 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Glen said...

No surprise that one of the Far Right sheep like Tom is playing the role of Big oil's Little Bitch. Whatever Fox tells you to think, huh?

2/16/12, 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Hilarious that the GOP cannot field a candidate that is taken seriously by the American people (let alone by the rest of the world). THe candidates are a laughing stock!!! One goofier than the next! Unreal!!!

How could they possibly find a candidate who appears sane and rational AND stands for (or pretends to stand for) all that the Corporate Controled Right Wing dictates.

Obama is ripe for the taking because he has let down many on the left for being too much of a comprimiser with the the GOP. If they cannot defeat him it will really highlight the disastrous state the GOP has become by stupidly trying to please the very loud (but relativly few) extremists, such as the Tea Partiers!

2/16/12, 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom,
Still want a pipeline that won't create jobs, will drive up gas prices domestically, especially for farmers, and won't help america?
Environmental whack jobs huh? More like, the facts.

But keep digesting that corporate big oil pipeline story.
They love guys like you.

2/16/12, 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Tim T said...

Hopefully there are not enough chumps like Tom to swallow the spoon-fed crap being handed out by Big oil. But money talks, and money sure sorrupts, so crooked politicians could cram this through despite what people want or what is good for the country.

Thank god this uneducated "educator" is retired and not trying to pollute young minds!!!!!

2/16/12, 4:38 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

So the oil won't be ours if it's owned by oil companies, right? We should continue buying from Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Saudis and Libya.

Or, we should contribute to Obama's reelection campaign so we can get grants, loans and tax breaks to build solar plants that go bankrupt and wind mills that force electric companies to buy power from them during windstorms at above-market rates. Then we'll all get tax breaks and borrow more from the Chinese who are powering their economy with that "dirty" oil and lending us money.

Then, when they won't lend us any more money, we just print up another trillion or two with good old Ben Bernanke's press.

Then we should buy bicycles when gas becomes too expensive to buy or unavailable. But we should pat ourselves on the back because we saved a few spotted salamanders or earthworms from being cut in half by excavators building the pipeline.

We should buy more sweaters when Obama turns down our thermostats and Chevy Volts with bicycle racks so we can hop on and pedal when the charge runs out after thirty miles.

All this "renewable energy" is not going to replace fossil fuels. The technology isn't there yet no matter how much you want it to be.

I'd suggest all you EWs take Economics 101 online somewhere and study chapter one - supply and demand. When the supply goes down and demand goes up, so do prices. That happen in all markets including oil. Without our own domestic supplies, we're at the mercy of the cartels.

Let's all get ready for the new America. Sweaters, bicycles, and clown cars. Oh boy!

2/16/12, 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's your point? The pipeline is a proven bust for America. Period. We get used. I am no fan of Obama either. Those are the facts. Where did I or those other posts mention renewable energy? We didn't!
No one mentioned bicycles or Chevy volts. You seem to be skirting the issue at hand. That you're wrong about keystone.
There is no correlation between keystone and that nonsense you mentioned.
Again, I cannot stand Obama. This pipeline simply doesn't work for America. We do not benefit!! Get it?

2/16/12, 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't you be directing your anger at big oil and the federal reserve? They are to blame.

Obama? Whatever. Same as W. and the next "elected" president will also be in the pocket of big oil, the bank cartel, and the fed. The republican and democrat monikers mean nothing anymore.

2/16/12, 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Oh, but these labels we put on politicians will always mean something to Tom. For Tom, and like-minded folks, it will always remain an "Us" against "Them" mentality where you fight dirty and say or do anything to "beat" the other side, morality be damned.

Because of this dull and simplistic thinking he is blind to what is really going on with our country, that it has been hijacked by Big Oil and a few other industries whose main concern is profit, not the interests of the USA. It is unbelievable to me that people can be so uninformed and/or gullible to believe that the pipeline is intended to benefit the country and not to rake in billions.

Wake up.

2/17/12, 6:46 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Eric,

The country has been hijacked by leftists like you who would decide what how much money or property any of us should have. They would take however much they deem as "fair" and give it to whomsoever they would deem as deserving, as they drive it into bankruptcy.

We who are "uninformed and/or gullible to believe that the pipeline is intended to benefit the country and not to rake in billions" realize that oil companies "raking in billions" and "benefit to the country" can be and usually are one and the same.

You and your ilk are infected with class envy and Obama knows just how to push your buttons. It's the only way he can be reelected.

2/17/12, 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow....just....wow. So, rather than admitt you're wrong you keep digging a hole? Denial? What does your rant about leftist land grabbing have to do with anything? It's a fantasy.

So, if one doesn't like keystone they must like Obama? That is some real progressive thinking. Not really. More like the product of years spent thinking in terms of the dualistic paradigm. Everything is black and white huh? Well, you continue to,prove the limitations of such two,party thinking.
Cannot beleive it, really. I thought you would know better.

According to your logic, one must be a leftist or Obama supporter if they don't like keystone? Really? Seriously?
You don't see the flaw in that logic!! Cause. Once again, I hate Obama. But I don't see him having anything to do with the decision. Because he doesn't.

Class envy? Wtf? Seriously, wtf are you talking about!?

I bet if Israel came out Condemning the pipeline you would too!

What don't you get about divide and conquer? They have you so riled up you throw out reactionary made up non sense rather than rational logic. Obama is a neo con! Period. He was put in place by the same people who put W in office! How do you not see that? While you argue about emotionally charged horseshit and apply extremely limited thinking they are raping our constitution and bill of rights!
The so called political,parties in this country mean shit anymore. The world is a college of corproations inexorably determined by the immutable by laws of business. Period. The days of nations and ideologies are long gone.
Open your mind and think critically.

2/17/12, 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Tom, if you really think that Big Oil would pass up billions of dollars and not build this pipeline if that was in the best interest of the country then you are beyond gullible.

Face it, you could care less if the pipeline is bendficial to the country or not. You are too hung up on knee-jerk opposition to anything that the left supports.

Step back from Faux News. Ignore liberal propaganda. Find out the facts. Think for yourself.

2/17/12, 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Winston Smith said...

"...We who are "uninformed and/or gullible to believe that the pipeline is intended to benefit the country and not to rake in billions" realize that oil companies "raking in billions" and "benefit to the country" can be and usually are one and the same..."

Not in this case. We risk a whole hell of a lot so that china can sell gas to brazil all the while driving up commercial diesel prices right here in the USA!

The irony being that a farmer hypothetically tilling a field right next to this proposed pipeline would be paying more for his diesel because of that same pipeline! It makes no sense when you think beyond the spin and outright lies from the corporate media.

2/17/12, 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

It seems that Tom and his kind are unable to doubt the words coming from a cartel as powerful as Big Oil. In Tom's column he romanticizes about the days when the world was kept under control by the iron fist of the Roman Empire!!! His type truly believe that the world is a better place when everybody follows one all-powerful force! Sheep like Tom are therefore in full support of the small portion of Uber-rich and the few industries that rule our country and "protect" us.

WAKE UP!!!

2/18/12, 10:35 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

I realize that only in times of peace can civilizational progress be made. I know that civilization is but a thin veneer over the seething mass of humanity. I know that what followed the collapse of the Roman Empire were The Dark Ages.

Why do you think they were called that Tim?

2/18/12, 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Tom, you weren't really a history teacher, were you?!?

Dominate me, all-powerful Roman...please keep me safe from darkness....please don't throw me to the lions as you eat your grapes and have your orgies....I'll be good....I'll obey, o' mighty one.....I understand the pathetic masses need a small group of rich and powerful elites to keep us in line and safe...


It is clear to me now, Tom. You and those that think like you WANT to be dominated by somebody, whether it is Caesar or a CEO.

BAAAAAA!!!

2/20/12, 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy crap, did Tom ever get his ass handed to him on this one!!!!

2/24/12, 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kapwnage!!

5/7/12, 10:05 PM  

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