Monthly Archives: August 2014
August 30, 2014 4:00 AM By Andrew C. McCarthy
Is it better to have no strategy or a delusional strategy?
The question arises, of course, after President Obama’s startling confession on Thursday that he has not yet developed a strategy for confronting the Islamic State, the al-Qaeda-rooted terrorist organization still often called by its former name, ISIS – an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Al-Sham refers to Greater Syria.
You may have noticed that President Obama calls the group ISIL, preferring the acronym that refers to the Levant to the one referring to al-Sham. After all, anything that invokes Syria might remind you of red lines that turned out not to be red lines and the administration’s facilitation of the arming of “moderate rebels” who turned out to include, well, ISIS. The fact is that the president has never had a Syria strategy, either — careening from Assad the Reformer, to Assad the Iranian puppet who must be toppled, to Assad who maybe we should consider aligning with against ISIS — ISIS being the “rebels” we used to support in Syria . . . unless they crossed into Iraq, in which case they were no longer rebels but terrorists . . . to be “rebels” again, they’d have to cross back into Syria or cruise east to Libya, where they used to be enemy jihadists spied on by our ally Qaddafi until they became “McCain’s heroes” overthrowing our enemy Qaddafi.
No? Well, congratulations, you may have caught mental health, a condition to be envied even if it would disqualify you from serving as a foreign-policy and national-security expert in Washington. In either party.
The Islamic State’s recent beheading of American journalist James Foley is not the only thing that captured Washington’s attention of late. The Beltway was also left aghast at the jihadisst’ rounding up of over 150 Syrian soldiers, forcing them to strip down to their underpants for a march through the desert, and then mass-killing them execution style.
Shocking, sure, but isn’t that what the GOP’s foreign-policy gurus were telling us they wanted up until about five minutes ago? Not the cruel method but the mass killing of Assad’s forces. Nothing oh nothing, we were told, could possibly be worse than the barbaric Assad regime. As naysayers — like your faithful correspondent — urged the government to refrain from backing “rebels” who teem with rabidly anti-American Islamic-supremacist savages, top Republicans scoffed. It was paramount that we arm the rebels in order to oust Assad, even though “we understand [that means] some people are going to get arms that should not be getting arms,” insisted Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Turns out that quite a lot of people who shouldn’t have gotten arms have gotten quite a lot of arms. And that is because Syria is not the only place as to which Republicans urged Obama to ignore federal laws against arming and otherwise supporting terrorists. They did it in Libya, too.
We have several times documented here that influential Republicans led by Senator John McCain were champions of Moammar Qaddafi before they suddenly switched sides — along with President Obama — in campaigning to oust the Libyan regime they had only recently treated (and funded) as a key American counterterrorism ally. The resulting (and utterly foreseeable) empowerment of Islamic supremacists in eastern Libya directly contributed to the Benghazi Massacre of four Americans on September 11, 2012; to the rise of the Islamic State and the expansion of al-Qaeda franchises in Africa, all of which were substantially strengthened by the jihadist capture of much of Qaddafi’s arsenal; and to what has become the collapse of Libya into a virulently anti-American no-man’s land of competing militias in which jihadists now have the upper hand.
The disastrous flip-flop was no surprise. When Mubarak fell in Egypt, Senator McCain stressed that the Brotherhood must be kept out of any replacement government because the Brothers are anti-democratic supporters of repressive sharia and terrorism. He was right on both scores . . . but he soon reversed himself, deciding that the Brotherhood was an outfit Americans could work with after all — even support with sophisticated American weaponry and billions in taxpayer dollars. The Brothers were in power because, in the interim, McCain’s good friend Secretary Clinton pressured Egypt’s transitional military government to step down so the elected “Islamic democracy” could flourish. When the Brothers took the reins, they promptly installed a sharia constitution, demanded that the U.S. release the Blind Sheikh (convicted of running a New York–based terror cell in the 1990s), rolled out the red carpet for Hamas (the terror organization that is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch), and gave free reign to terrorist leaders — including the brother of al-Qaeda’s leader and members of the Blind Sheikh’s Egyptian jihadist organization — who proceeded to foment the violent rioting at the U.S. embassy in Cairo the same day as the Benghazi Massacre.
I could go on, but you get the point. While ripping Obama for having no Islamic State strategy, Republicans are now reviving the inane strategy of supporting the illusory “moderate Syrian opposition.” Those would be the same forces they wanted to support against Assad. The only problem was that there aren’t enough real moderates in Syria to mount a meaningful challenge to the regime. The backbone of the opposition to Assad has always been the Muslim Brotherhood, and the most effective fighters against the regime have always been the jihadists. So we’re back to where we started from: Let’s pretend that there is a viable, moderate, democratic Syrian opposition and that we have sufficient intelligence — in a place where we have sparse intelligence — to vet them so we arm only the good guys; and then let’s arm them, knowing that they have seamlessly allied for years with the anti-American terrorists we are delegating them to fight on our behalf. Perfect.
There is no excuse for a president of the United States to have no strategy against an obvious threat to the United States. But at least with Obama, it is understandable. He is hemmed in by his own ideology and demagoguery. The main challenge in the Middle East is not the Islamic State; it is the fact that the Islamic State and its al-Qaeda forebears have been fueled by Iran, which supports both Sunni and Shiite terrorism as long as it is directed at the United States. There cannot be a coherent strategy against Islamic supremacism unless the state sponsors of terrorism are accounted for, but Obama insists on seeing Iran as a potential ally rather than an incorrigible enemy.
Moreover, the combined jihadist threat is not a regional one merely seeking to capture territory in the Middle East; it is a global one that regards the United States as its primary enemy and that can be defeated only by America and its real allies. This is not a problem we can delegate to the basket-case governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, or to the “moderate” Syrian “rebels.” Yet the Obama Left’s relentless indictment of American self-defensive action in the Middle East has sapped the domestic political support necessary for vigorous military action against our enemies — action that will eventually have to include aggressive American combat operations on the ground.
But the GOP should take note: The jihad is not a problem we can delegate to the Muslim Brotherhood, either. We will not defeat our enemies until we finally recognize who they are — all of them.
Evidence exposing who put ISIS in power, and how it was done.
The Islamic militant group ISIS, formerly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and recently rebranded as the so called Islamic State, is the stuff of nightmares. They are ruthless, fanatical, killers, on a mission, and that mission is to wipe out anyone and everyone, from any religion or belief system and to impose Shari’ah law. The mass executions, beheadings and even crucifixions that they are committing as they work towards this goal are flaunted like badges of pride, video taped and uploaded for the whole world to see. This is the new face of evil.
Would it interest you to know who helped these psychopaths rise to power? Would it interest you to know who armed them, funded them and trained them? Would it interest you to know why?
This story makes more sense if we start in the middle, so we’ll begin with the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The Libyan revolution was Obama’s first major foreign intervention. It was portrayed as an extension of the Arab Spring, and NATO involvement was framed in humanitarian terms.
The fact that the CIA was actively working to help the Libyan rebels topple Gaddafi was no secret, nor were the airstrikes that Obama ordered against the Libyan government. However, little was said about the identity or the ideological leanings of these Libyan rebels. Not surprising, considering the fact that the leader of the Libyan rebels later admitted that his fighters included Al-Qaeda linked jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq.
These jihadist militants from Iraq were part of what national security analysts commonly referred to as Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Remember Al-Qaeda in Iraq was ISIS before it was re-branded.
With the assistance of U.S. and NATO intelligence and air support, the Libyan rebels captured Gaddafi and summarily executed him in the street, all the while enthusiastically chanting “Allah Akbar”. For many of those who had bought the official line about how these rebels were freedom fighters aiming to establish a liberal democracy in Libya, this was the beginning of the end of their illusions.
Prior to the U.S. and NATO backed intervention, Libya had the highest standard of living of any country in Africa. This according to the U.N.’s Human Development Index rankings for 2010. However in the years following the coup, the country descended into chaos, with extremism and violence running rampant. Libya is now widely regarded as failed state (of course those who were naive enough to buy into the propaganda leading up to the war get defensive when this is said).
Now after Gaddafi was overthrown, the Libyan armories were looted, and massive quantities of weapons were sent by the Libyan rebels to Syria. The weapons, which included anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles were smuggled into Syria through Turkey, a NATO ally. The times of London reported on the arrival of the shipment on September 14th, 2012. (Secondary confirmation in this NYT article) This was just three days after Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. Chris Stevens had served as the U.S. government’s liaison to the Libyan rebels since April of 2011.
While a great deal media attention has focused on the fact that the State Department did not provide adequate security at the consulate, and was slow to send assistance when the attack started, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh released an article in April of 2014 which exposed a classified agreement between the CIA, Turkey and the Syrian rebels to create what was referred to as a “rat line”. The “rat line” was covert network used to channel weapons and ammunition from Libya, through southern turkey and across the Syrian border. Funding was provided by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
With Stevens dead any direct U.S. involvement in that arms shipment was buried, and Washington would continue to claim that they had not sent heavy weaponry into Syria.
It was at this time that jihadist fighters from Libya began flooding into Syria as well. And not just low level militants. Many were experienced commanders who had fought in multiple theaters.
The U.S. and its allies were now fully focused on taking down Assad’s government in Syria. As in Libya this regime change was to be framed in terms of human rights, and now overt support began to supplement the backdoor channels. The growing jihadist presence was swept under the rug and covered up.
However as the rebels gained strength, the reports of war crimes and atrocities that they were committing began to create a bit of a public relations problem for Washington. It then became standard policy to insist that U.S. support was only being given to what they referred to as “moderate” rebel forces.
This distinction, however, had no basis in reality.
In an interview given in April of 2014, FSA commander Jamal Maarouf admitted that his fighters regularly conduct joint operations with Al-Nusra. Al-Nusra is the official Al-Qa’ida branch in Syria. This statement is further validated by an interview given in June of 2013 by Colonel Abdel Basset Al-Tawil, commander of the FSA’s Northern Front. In this interview he openly discusses his ties with Al-Nusra, and expresses his desire to see Syria ruled by sharia law. (You can verify the identities of these two commanders here in this document from The Institute for the Study of War)
Moderate rebels? Well it’s complicated. Not that this should really come as any surprise. Reuters had reported in 2012 that the FSA’s command was dominated by Islamic extremists, and the New York Times had reported that same year that the majority of the weapons that Washington were sending into Syria was ending up in the hands Jihadists. For two years the U.S. government knew that this was happening, but they kept doing it.
And the FSA’s ties to Al-Nusra are just the beginning. In June of 2014 Al-Nusra merged with ISIS at the border between Iraq and Syria.
So to review, the FSA is working with Al-Nusra, Al-Nusra is working with ISIS, and the U.S. has been sending money and weapons to the FSA even though they’ve known since 2012 that most of these weapons were ending up in the hands of extremists. You do the math.
In that context, the sarin gas attacks of 2013 which turned out to have been committed by the Syrian rebels, makes a lot more sense doesn’t it? If it wasn’t enough that U.N. investigators, Russian investigators, and Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh all pinned that crime on Washington’s proxies, the rebels themselves threatened the West that they would expose what really happened if they were not given more advanced weaponry within one month.
By the way, this also explains why Washington then decided to target Russia next.
This threat was made on June 10th, 2013. In what can only be described as an amazing coincidence, just nine days later, the rebels received their first official shipment of heavy weapons in Aleppo.
After the second sarin gas fiasco, which was also exposed and therefore failed to garner public support for airstrikes, the U.S. continued to increase its the training and support for the rebels.
In February of 2014, Haaretz reported that the U.S. and its allies in the region, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, were in the process of helping the Syrian rebels plan and prepare for a massive attack in the south. According to Haaretz Israel had also provided direct assistance in military operations against Assad four months prior (you can access a free cached version of the page here).
Then in May of 2014 PBS ran a report in which they interviewed rebels who were trained by the U.S. in Qatar. According to those rebels they were being trained to finish off soldiers who survived attacks.
“They trained us to ambush regime or enemy vehicles and cut off the road,” said the fighter, who is identified only as “Hussein.” “They also trained us on how to attack a vehicle, raid it, retrieve information or weapons and munitions, and how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.”
This is a blatant violation of the Geneva conventions. It also runs contrary to conventional military strategy. In conventional military strategy soldiers are better off left wounded, because this ends up costing the enemy more resources. Executing captured enemy soldiers is the kind of tactic used when you want to strike terror in the hearts of the enemy. It also just happens to be standard operating procedure for ISIS.
One month after this report, in June of 2014, ISIS made its dramatic entry, crossing over the Syrian border into Iraq, capturing Mosul, Baiji and almost reaching Baghdad. The internet was suddenly flooded with footage of drive by shootings, large scale death marches, and mass graves. And of course any Iraqi soldier that was captured was executed.
Massive quantities of American military equipment were seized during that operation. ISIS took entire truckloads of humvees, they took helicopters, tanks, and artillery. They photographed and video taped themselves and advertised what they were doing on social media, and yet for some reason Washington didn’t even TRY to stop them.
U.S. military doctrine clearly calls for the destruction of military equipment and supplies when friendly forces cannot prevent them from falling into enemy hands, but that didn’t happen here. ISIS was allowed to carry this equipment out of Iraq and into Syria unimpeded. The U.S. military had the means to strike these convoys, but they didn’t lift a finger, even though they had been launching drone strikes in Pakistan that same week.
Why would they do that?
Though Obama plays the role of a weak, indecisive, liberal president, and while pundits from the right have had a lot of fun with that image, this is just a facade. Some presidents, like George W. Bush, rely primarily on overt military aggression. Obama gets the same job done, but he prefers covert means. Not really surprising considering the fact that Zbigniew Brzezinski was his mentor.
Those who know their history will remember that Zbigniew Brzezinski was directly involved in the funding and arming the Islamic extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to weaken the Soviets.
By the way Osama bin Laden was one of these anti-Soviet “freedom fighters” the U.S. was funding and arming.
This operation is no secret at this point, nor are the unintended side effects.
Officially the U.S. government’s arming and funding of the Mujahideen was a response to the Soviet invasion in December of 1979, however in his memoir entitled “From the Shadows” Robert Gates, director of the CIA under Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior, and Secretary of Defense under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, revealed that the U.S. actually began the covert operation 6 months prior, with the express intention of luring the Soviets into a quagmire. (You can preview the relevant text here on google books)
The strategy worked. The Soviets invaded, and the ten years of war that followed are considered by many historians as being one of the primary causes of the fall of the USSR.
This example doesn’t just establish precedent, what we’re seeing happen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria right now is actually a continuation of a old story. Al-Nusra and ISIS are ideological and organizational decedents of these extremist elements that the U.S. government made use of thirty years ago.
The U.S. the went on to create a breeding ground for these extremists by invading Iraq in 2003. Had it not been for the vacuum of power left by the removal and execution of Saddam, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, aka ISIS, would not exist. And had it not been for Washington’s attempt at toppling Assad by arming, funding and training shadowy militant groups in Syria, there is no way that ISIS would have been capable of storming into Iraq in June of 2014.
On every level, no matter how you cut it, ISIS is a product of U.S. government’s twisted and decrepit foreign policy.
Now all of this may seem contradictory to you as you watch the drums of war against ISIS begin to beat louder and the air strikes against them are gradually widened http://www.wjla.com/articles/2014/08/president-obama-considers-possible-…). Why would the U.S. help a terrorist organization get established, only to attack them later?
Well why did the CIA put Saddam Hussein in power in 1963?, Why did the U.S. government back Saddam in 1980 when he launched a war of aggression against Iran, even though they knew that he was using chemical weapons? Why did the U.S. fund and arm Islamic extremists in Afghanistan against the Soviets?
There’s a pattern here if you look closely. This is a tried and true geopolitical strategy.
Step 1: Build up a dictator or extremist group which can then be used to wage proxy wars against opponents. During this stage any crimes committed by these proxies are swept under the rug. [Problem]
Step 2: When these nasty characters have outlived their usefulness, that’s when it’s time to pull out all that dirt from under the rug and start publicizing it 24/7. This obviously works best when the public has no idea how these bad guys came to power.[Reaction]
Step 3: Finally, when the public practically begging for the government to do something, a solution is proposed. Usually the solution involves military intervention, the loss of certain liberties, or both. [Solution]
ISIS is extremely useful. They have essentially done Washington dirty work by weakening Assad. In 2014, while the news cycle has focused almost exclusively on Ukraine and Russia, ISIS made major headway in Syria, and as of August they already controlled 35% of the country.
Since ISIS largely based in Syria, this gives the U.S. a pretext to move into Syria. Sooner or later the U.S. will extend the airstrikes into Assad’s backyard, and when they do U.S. officials are already making it clear that both ISIS and the Syrian government will be targeted. That, after all, is the whole point. Washington may allow ISIS to capture a bit more territory first, but the writing is on the wall, and has been for some time now.
The Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that this will never lead to boots on the ground, however, the truth of the matter is that anyone who understands anything about military tactics knows full well that ISIS cannot be defeated by airstrikes alone. In response to airstrikes ISIS will merely disperse and conceal their forces. ISIS isn’t an established state power which can be destroyed by knocking out key government buildings and infrastructure. These are guerrilla fighters who cut their teeth in urban warfare.
To significantly weaken them, the war will have to involve ground troops, but even this is a lost cause. U.S. troops could certainly route ISIS in street to street battles for some time, and they might even succeed in fully occupying Syria and Iraq for a number of years, but eventually they will have to leave, and when they do, it should be obvious what will come next.
The puppets that the U.S. government has installed in the various countries that they have brought down in recent years have without exception proven to be utterly incompetent and corrupt. No one that Washington places in power will be capable of maintaining stability in Syria. Period.
Right now, Assad is the last bastion of stability in the region. He is the last chance they have for a moderate non-sectarian government and he is the only hope of anything even remotely resembling democracy for the foreseeable future. If Assad falls, Islamic extremist will take the helm, they will impose shari’ah law, and they will do everything in their power to continue spreading their ideology as far and wide as they can.
If the world truly wants to stop ISIS, there is only one way to do it:
1. First and foremost, the U.S. government and its allies must be heavily pressured to cut all support to the rebels who are attempting to topple Assad. Even if these rebels that the U.S. is arming and funding were moderate, and they’re not, the fact that they are forcing Assad to fight a war on multiple fronts, only strengthens ISIS. This is lunacy.
2. The Syrian government should be provided with financial support, equipment, training and intelligence to enable them to turn the tide against ISIS. This is their territory, they should be the ones to reclaim it.
Now obviously this support isn’t going to come from the U.S. or any NATO country, but there are a number of nations who have a strategic interest in preventing another regime change and chaotic aftermath. If these countries respond promptly, as in right now, they could preempt a U.S. intervention, and as long this support does not include the presence of foreign troops, doing so will greatly reduce the likelihood of a major confrontation down the road.
3. The U.S. government and its allies should should be aggressively condemned for their failed regime change policies and the individuals behind these decisions should be charged for war crimes. This would have to be done on an nation by nation level since the U.N. has done nothing but enable NATO aggression. While this may not immediately result in these criminals being arrested, it would send a message. This can be done. Malaysia has already proven this by convicting the Bush administration of war crimes in abstentia.
Now you might be thinking: “This all sounds fine and good, but what does this have to do with me? I can’t influence this situation.”
That perspective is quite common, and for most people, it’s paralyzing, but the truth of the matter is that we can influence this. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.
I’ll be honest with you though, this isn’t going to be easy. To succeed we have to start thinking strategically. Like it or not, this is a chess game. If we really want to rock the boat, we have to start reaching out to people in positions of influence. This can mean talking to broadcasters at your local radio station, news paper, or t.v. station, or it can mean contacting influential bloggers, celebrities, business figures or government officials. Reaching out to current serving military and young people who may be considering joining up is also important. But even if it’s just your neighbor, or your coworker, every single person we can reach brings us closer to critical mass. The most important step is to start trying.
If you are confused about why this is all happening, watch this video we put out on September 11th, 2012.
The contract for the control system for a shore-based liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling facility in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, USA, has been awarded to Wärtsilä.
The facility is owned by Harvey Gulf International Marine, a major owner-operator of offshore supply and specialty vessels headquartered in New Orleans. It will be used to supply fuel to Harvey Gulf’s fleet of LNG powered platform supply vessels (PSV), and will be the first source of LNG fuel in the Gulf of Mexico. The order was placed in July, 2014.
The Wärtsilä scope of supply comprises the control cabinets, the PLCs, computers, software programming and service commissioning. It is designed to enable the entire fuelling process to be fully controlled from the control room onboard the HARVEY ENERGY class platform supply vessels, thus making the fuelling far more efficient and safer than would be otherwise possible. Delivery is scheduled for November, 2014.
“The Harvey Gulf PSVs are to be fitted with the Wärtsilä LNGPac gas control system, so it was natural that the same basic technology should also be used for the shore fuelling facility. There is a growing need for an LNG fuelling infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico, so this represents an important step forward. Both Harvey Gulf and Wärtsilä are fully committed to promoting environmentally sustainable operations, and by facilitating the use of LNG as a marine fuel, this philosophy is clearly enhanced,” says Joe Amyot, Sales Director, Wärtsilä Ship Power.
The new fuelling facility will enable the refuelling of offshore supply vessels powered by LNG. It will also have the capability to provide a fuel source for LNG fuelled cargo ships operating in the Houston – New Orleans region.
Harvey Gulf currently has six LNG fuelled PSVs under construction, all of which will be powered by Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel engines. The vessels will also have various other Wärtsilä equipment onboard, including the Wärtsilä LNGPac gas storage and supply system. The company, additionally, has two diesel-electric construction vessels in production equipped with Wärtsilä 32 engines and other Wärtsilä solutions.
OneSubsea™, a Cameron and Schlumberger company, Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. and Schlumberger have entered into a letter of intent to form an alliance to develop technologies and deliver services to optimize the cost and efficiency of subsea well intervention systems.
Helix is a leading subsea well intervention provider, with the largest fleet size of well intervention vessels, and an unequalled track record in cost-effective subsea well intervention. OneSubsea, a preeminent solution provider for subsea well control, with a global footprint of executed major projects, has significant experience in the manufacture and supply of subsea well intervention equipment and services. Schlumberger is the world’s leading supplier of technology and services to the oilfield, including conveyance systems and in-well technologies for subsea applications.
Upon agreement on the final terms of the alliance definitive agreement, the alliance will leverage the capabilities of Helix, OneSubsea and Schlumberger, to provide a unique, fully integrated offering, combining marine support with well access and control technologies.
The alliance will focus on several objectives aimed at increasing the operating envelope of today’s subsea intervention technology. These objectives include the expansion of applications enabled by subsea well-access technology, and specific solutions for deep and ultra-deepwater basins and higher well pressure environments. An important consideration is the evolution in the capabilities of Helix’s vessels to provide well intervention and additional support services such as well commissioning, artificial lift support, and abandonment, which are usually performed using drilling rigs.
Helix President and Chief Executive Officer, Owen Kratz said, “Helix is proud to join OneSubsea and Schlumberger as industry leaders in a team to provide a truly comprehensive array of solutions in the area of well intervention. From well construction through production enhancement to decommissioning, this is an opportunity for our companies to work with our clients in realizing significant value creation through a fully integrated and collaborative team effort.”
Cameron Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer , Jack Moore said, “OneSubsea is very excited to be partnering with Helix, the leader in subsea well intervention; and Schlumberger, the leader in subsurface evaluation and construction technologies. This unique alliance will drive optimization in the complete subsea well intervention value chain. Together, we will develop leading technology to reduce operational risk, increase efficiency, improve recovery, and lower the overall cost of subsea well intervention operations for our clients.”
Paal Kibsgaard, Schlumberger Chief Executive Officer said, “This alliance reinforces our commitment, along with our OneSubsea joint-venture company partner Cameron, to help our customers improve production and recovery from their subsea developments. We are determined to drive further integration of our leading technology portfolio, backed by improved reliability and greater efficiency, to create a step-change in performance throughout the E&P value chain.”
August 3, 2014 By Cultural Limits
The Secret Service would probably ruin a good time
One afternoon last week, another member of the Limits household and I played hooky and floated a pretty flat five-mile stretch of a river no one outside of Missouri has ever heard of. At one point, as we passed a fairly organized campground, the smell of a wood fire wafted over the river along with eau de old and moldy canvas tent. With that, nostalgia set in. When we were growing up, those were the smells of summer vacation.
Martha’s Vineyard was just out of Mom and Dad’s price range.
To be honest, in this part of the country, from Friday to Sunday (mostly Saturday, but there has to be some travel time) during June, July and the first two weeks of August, every quiet, still. picturesque river teaming with turtles, snakes, trout, tadpoles and the occasional black tailed deer becomes a bank to bank party zone. The working stiffs get out of the city, lose the cell phones and kick back for a couple days. SUVs and pick-ups are traded for canoes, inner tubes and rafts (not necessarily in that order). Every tree hanging over a remotely deep part of the river becomes an opportunity for a swing rope. (Thoughtful floaters have left many in the trees for those who follow, too.) Cliffs over five feet are for jumping – if you dare. Hermetically sealed air-conditioned houses are left behind for all the nylon tents and air mattresses Coleman sells. (Actually saw somebody use a window unit run off a generator to cool off a tent once.) Natural waterways are polluted with sunscreen, among other fluids. And many adult beverages are consumed.
Out here in this part of flyover country, this is standard summer unwinding procedure. In other states, there are methods of R & R in the great outdoors that are more of the hiking and cycling variety. It’s not for everybody, but, hey, neither is lobster and cosmos. To each his or her own.
Working people everywhere need a chance to shut down for so many reasons. Take a break from all the stress, the angst, the constant bombardment of information, etc. We all do. Rest is essential for not just health, but effectiveness. That is why in United States we call time away to recharge “vacation” as in “vacate” or leave.
The problem we are having this August in the United States is that our vaunted government – at least the top of the food chain – is bound to the beach, vineyards, lakes, and spas without having really done any work.
Somehow, we all doubt that they are headed to the party zones for less than the cost of one of Nancy Pelosi’s broomsticks to spend an afternoon doing jello shots in their bikinis and cut-offs.
But that did start me thinking:
- What would San Fran Nan look like wearing one of those old-fashioned orange life jackets that are basically nylon over squared off foam three inches thick with a hole for the head? And does she have earrings to match in her collection?
- Does Chuck Schumer know what to do with a canoe paddle or would he bring a driver from the New York State motor pool to steer?
- Once Dingy Harry got a bath in the river and settled in his inner tube, would he get stuck there? And would he remember to bring a lanyard for his glasses?
- Would any of them drink Busch Light from a can and then actually put the can in the trash bags provided by the canoe rental companies? Conservation, recycling and all that jazz since no glass is allowed on the rivers.
- How about drinking wine from a box? There’s a Chardonnay that’s actually not bad, but somehow it’s doubtful that after refining an international palate, Inside the Beltway types would appreciate the finish. Especially when river water mingles with it.
- Joe Biden, please keep your swim trunks on. One should not skinny dip in the rivers. Scares the fish.
- Michelle in a bikini… [shudder] or eating s’mores with marshmallows roasted over an improvised beach fire…she probably wouldn’t even be able to fathom packing lunch in a cooler.
- And, of course, there’s Sheila Jackson Lee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Maxine Waters. They’d be forced to talk to each other which would echo off of every flat surface for miles and they might get their hair wet or break a nail…on second thought, leave them behind. After all, their shoes would definitely get wet and that might start a riot.
Was that racist?
Now that it’s August and the city here has pretty much emptied out, as it always does for the first two weeks of August (seriously, no meetings happen because there’s so many people vacating), and Congress has decided to recess with all sorts of national and international fires that need tending (not that Congress can do much about it by themselves), how’s about Obama and the gang come out here to flyover country and find out how we bourgeoisie vacate in a hurry. No oysters, caviar or Dom, but we can offer fresh fruits and veggies, summer sausage, brats, hot dogs, hamburgers and cereal. Anything more than that is a little fancy for the camp-site. (Okay, if one brings along a sterno or camp stove, eggs and bacon for breakfast can happen.)
Think we’d get any takers?
Yeah, me neither.
Note to the White House: Vacations are possible without involving the swanky shores of Martha’s Vineyard. At least the Reagans and Bushes vacayed at their own property and the Clintons used the Presidential Retreat House on St. John in the USVIs that’s already secure. They didn’t inconvenience regular people and they were able to unwind just fine.