“We want to restore democracy there,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week, walking just to the edge of declaring that regime change is the goal. “We think the Iranian people want that same thing.” – Advertisement – At Daily Kos on this date in 2018—What does Secretary of State Pompeo mean by ‘restore democracy’ in Iran? – Advertisement – In 2014 when he was just a Kansas congressman, Mike Pompeo, now secretary of state and one of the most pugnacious ideologues of the neoconservative club, bragged that it would take only “2000 [bombing] sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity.” Last month, he wrote in Foreign Affairs his view of how the reimposition of sanctions are meant to bring Iran to its knees and do Washington’s bidding, or be toppled by a populace disgruntled by a smashed economy. Colin H. Kahl, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, and a former national security and defense official in the Obama administration, dismantled what he calls Pompeo’s “dangerous delusion” in a subsequent essay in Foreign Affairs. I keep sensing an undercurrent of despair when talking to liberal partisans about the election, a sigh that beating Trump is not enough but all that can be done. Yes, Democrats are only an even-money shot, at best, to flip the Senate. And yes, even if they succeed, Mitch “Grim Reaper” McConnell can obstruct the majority with the filibuster, and it would not be up to the next president, but the 50th senator ideologically, someone like Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema, to agree to change the Senate rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for legislation. (There’s always budget reconciliation, but that limited path goes through the same conservaDems.)But this reality does not have to inspire progressive anguish. Anyone telling you that a Democratic victory next November would merely signal four years of endless gridlock hasn’t thought about the possibilities laid out in this issue. And if you doubt the opportunity for strong executive action, let me direct your attention to Donald Trump.MAKE NO MISTAKE: Trump is an autocrat, more than willing to break the law to realize his campaign promises. His invocation of inherent, extreme executive power, egged on chiefly by Attorney General William Barr, is in fact dangerous, as former Representative Brad Miller lays out for us later in this issue. Trump has asserted the right to ignore Congress’s oversight function, reinterpret laws based on his own preferences, hide information from lawmakers and the public, promise pardons before illegal actions take place, appoint acting heads of federal agencies without advice and consent from the Senate, and raise the specter of emergency to follow through on his campaign promises.But in a significant number of cases, Trump’s pathway has sprung from a simple proposition: When Congress gives the executive branch authority, the president, you know, can actually use it.[…]THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READINGWide Awake, by Rebecca Traister. The past four years have birthed a progressive movement so extraordinary it just might survive the forces that threaten its extinction.The Right-Wing Violence Trump Has Encouraged Has Deep Roots in American History, By Dolores Janiewski and Chad Pearson. The far-right violence that Donald Trump has stoked has deep roots in US history. Kicking him from office won’t change that — but it would deal a blow to right-wing vigilantism. The South Has Already Changed, by Adam Harris. Jaime Harrison lost to Lindsey Graham but expanded Democrats’ vision of what’s possible in the Deep South.TOP COMMENTSQUOTATION“In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it.” ~~Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (411 BCE)TWEET OF THE DAYxNow seems like a good time to remind Trump appointees that destroying federal records is a crime. And it’ll be easier than you think to prove you did it.— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) November 4, 2020BLAST FROM THE PAST- Advertisement – Certainly, a truly democratic, socially liberal, non-aggressive Iranian government that puts a high value on human rights would be a welcome change from the brutal one now in charge. While Iran has some of the trappings of democracy, it’s a profoundly constrained one riven by corruption that favors the clerical elite, holds large numbers of political prisoners, engages in torture and other brutality, and has a long record of human rights abuses, one of the targets being gay people. It was obvious from the election protests in 2009 that many Iranians would like to see a different kind of government. For each one of the thousands of protesters who dared confront Iran’s pernicious religious zealots in the street, for every Neda Agha-Soltan murdered by government henchmen, there no doubt were dozens silently cheering them on from home but fearful to join the opposition. They deserve better.As do the Saudis. Yet neither Pompeo nor Trump are making any noises about sanctioning the royal autocracy of that kingdom. It doesn’t take any imagination to figure out why. David E. Sanger at The New York Times reports:
A day after being granted its production licence from the Guyana Government, US oil and gas giant ExxonMobil said it has made a final investment decision to proceed with the first phase of development for the Liza field located offshore Guyana, one of the largest oil discoveries of the past decade.The company also announced positive results from the Liza-4 well, which encountered more than 197 feet (60 metres) of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs, which will underpin a potential Liza Phase 2 development.Gross recoverable resources for the Stabroek block are now estimated at 2 billion to 2.5 billion oil-equivalent barrels, which include Liza and other successful exploration wells on Liza Deep, Payara and Snoek.The Liza Phase 1 development includes a subsea production system, and a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel designed to produce up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day. Production is expected to begin by 2020, less than five years after discovery of the field. Phase one is expected to cost just over $4.4 billion, and includes a lease capitalization cost of approximately $1.2 billion for the FPSO facility, and will develop approximately 450 million barrels of oil.President of ExxonMobil’s Development Company, Liam Mallon, said the company is excited about the tremendous potential of the Liza field, and is accelerating first production through a phased development in the lower cost environment.He said the company will work closely with Government, its co-ventures and the Guyanese people in developing the world-class resource that will have long-term and meaningful benefits for the country and its citizens.The Liza Phase 1 development can provide significant benefits to Guyana, including jobs during installation and operation; workforce training; local supplier development; and government revenues to fund infrastructure, social programs and services.Government on Thursday officially handed ExxonMobil and its partners a Production Licence.The announcements were made on Thursday by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman as members of the National Assembly gathered to consider the second reading of the Petroleum Commission of Guyana Bill.Delivering his preamble to the debate on the Petroleum Bill – meant in part to create the Petroleum Commission – Minister Trotman recalled for the House the significant discovery made by ExxonMobil and its partners, as announced back in May 2015.Since that discovery, Trotman told the House, the ministry has been able to assess the quantum and value of that find at the Liza Well, which is said to contain a minimum of some 800 million barrels, and possibly a maximum of 1.4 billion barrels.According to Minister Trotman, the other international operators in Guyana have signalled their intention to continue with exploration activities. Only recently, one such operator – Tullow — operating in the Orinduik block, indicated that it would be scaling-up its exploration activities to encompass its entire concession.RoyaltiesMeanwhile, the Government remains satisfied with the two per cent royalty it negotiated with ExxonMobil. This is according to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, during a post-cabinet press briefing.“I’ve seen statements about whether two per cent or five per cent is enough. I think that is something that will go on, but I have the full confidence that our Minister of Natural Resources has gotten the best advice possible in the circumstance.”Harmon was adamant that whatever agreement was arrived at between Guyana and ExxonMobil had benefited from local and international input. He also said that the agreement was in line with best practices.But when told of the average royalty rates that exceed Guyana’s rate, which other countries have obtained, Harmon defended the two per cent.“We have been given the best possible advice, and every situation has to be dealt with on its merit. Our situation may not be the same as another country’s situation,” Harmon affirmed.