Posts Tagged ‘energy

12
Jan
09

Why Are Oil Prices So Volatile?

Hint: It ain’t supply and demand.

Last night, 60 Minutes aired an invaluable report explaining the roller coaster oil prices – a must-watch (or must-read, if you prefer the trascript) for anyone confuzzed by the inanity of the energy market.

Spoiler: those manipulative bastards from Enron make a comeback.

Video and transcript here. Really, watch it or read it.

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06
Nov
08

Top Ten Favorite Moments of the 2008 Campaign

The post-primary general election campaign was a smorgasbord of hoot and holler-inducing excitement and incredulity. The country was on a five-month long adrenaline high; change was in the air! But there were a few special moments that either made me laugh my ass off or bolstered my slowly-dawning realization that Americans are taking our hijacked country back. Common sense, logic, reason, competence and simply “doing the right thing” have returned to the U.S. on a national scale (gay marriage will soon follow – it’s only a matter of time).

Here are the highlights that stick out to me as either funny as hell or monumentally encouraging. FYI, they are not in chronological order, but rather the order in which they popped into my head.

10. Carly Fiorina exclaiming Sarah Palin does not have the experience to run a major company like HP:

It was soon leaked from the McCain campaign that Carly would disappear. And she did. They wouldn’t even let her participate in a technology policy debate against Obama-supporter and Former FCC chair Reed Hundt. Sure, I felt sorry for Carly getting canned for telling the truth. But after months and months of watching her defend McCain and Palin with a flood of lies, it was nice to see karma come home to roost. Buh-bye.

9. Robert Gibbs bitch-slaps King Douchebag Sean Hannity over Hannity’s unwarranted, illegitimate, guilt by associate attacks on Obama.

This video was such a catharsis at the time for many of us who have Hannity’s picture taped to our dart boards.

8. The warning John Lewis issued on Politico to the McCain campaign as they inched ever-closer to a campaign entirely made of “othering” Barack Obama and stoking fear among their ignorant supporters. Lewis’ statement:

As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.

The statement shocked and upset McCain, but was a necessary step toward shaming the campaign into increased appropriateness. While McCain insisted his campaign was completely honorable, Newsweek offered this recent insight: The Secret Service reported a sharp increase in threats to Obama at the same time the Palin rallies became more “frenzied.” I think there will be long-lasting, deserved resentments toward McCain and I salute John Lewis for articulating just how dangerous the territory was that the McCain campaign was entering.mccain-supermarket

7. As Obama embarked on a global tour, increasing his world-leader credibility, McCain’s genius campaign thought it would be appropriate to position their candidate in a supermarket to illustrate his relation to “regular people.”

For some reason, McCain in the dairy aisle failed to cause voters to forget he owns eight houses, a fleet of vehicles and his wife is worth over 100 million big ones. Pity.

It was at this point that I decided to write McCain ’08 Campaign Obituary. And what a contrast to Obama speaking in Berlin.

6. My next favorite moment came in before the Democratic Primary was even over – so maybe it doesn’t count as a favorite general election moment; but it’s so golden, I had to include it. This video is of George W. awaiting his lunch date with newly named Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain:

I don’t know about you, but I always tap dance while waiting. And if I were leader of the free world, I would dance horrifically in front of cameras all the time, publicizing my buffoonery for all those already under the impression that I am an extraordinary ass’s behind.

5. Clearly, McCain’s pick of Palin was a golden egg for me. In my immediate reaction of the announcement, I said,

This is PROOF McCain’s judgment is deeply flawed. Poor Republicans. This is a major malfunction on their part. It’s like Christmas for Democrats – or more like Hanukkah because Palin is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.

And she was. DailyKos provided one of the best encapsulations of one of Palin’s “special” gifts to the Democrats:

Please, please, Republicans – nominate her in 2012! I’m begging you!

4. By far, one of the best, most transcendent and inspiring moments of the campaign was when Colin Powell endorsed Obama. Despite Powell’s unfortunate position on the Iraq War, he is a man deserving of respect and admiration and I basked in front of the television that Sunday morning as he explained that it shouldn’t matter if Obama was Muslim.

But the icing on the cake was the following Sunday when McCain responded to Powell’s endorsement of Obama by expressing his gratitude for support from five secretaries of state, but could only name four of them. D’Oh!

Poor, McGrampa.

3. As a non-believer, I should be offended by my next favorite moment. But it’s not in me to be offended ever, really – so this moment left me more gratified than anything. A desperate Elizabeth Dole allowed the National Republican Senatorial Committee to run a despicable attack ad against Democrat Kay Hagan calling her an FOA – Friend of Atheists. Here’s the long version:

Kay Hagan’s response was incredibly effective. 357,404 victorious votes effective.

Now, it is a sad commentary that atheists and agnostics are vilified in our society and largely unwelcome in politics. This, however, is a dying tradition – which allows me to feel satisfaction, rather than anger, in Kay Hagan’s response to Dole. Hope that big plate O’ Suck It is savory, Liddy.

2. No matter how many times The Daily Show or the news networks or the late night programs play this next clip, it will never get old for me. NEVER! This is my absolute favorite McCain gaffe – of which there were tons from which to choose. It is truly, truly magnificent and utterly to be deserving near the top of my favorite campaign moments list.

I don’t think Cindy actually understood what was happening. After her introductory speech, she probably just stood behind Johnny Boy and zoned out. Having to stand at a 45 degree angle behind your husband whilst he delivers campaign speech after campaign speech has probably got to be one of the worst fates imaginable. Still, this whopper of McDementia makes my eyes water and ribs hurt. Brilliant.

1. I had a hard time coming up with my top pick of the election – there are so many nuggets of awesomeness, but The New Gay helped me out in their Top Ten Best Moments of the Campaign:

After Tim Russert’s death, my mind replayed this moment again and again. It was a monumental snapshot for the ages that fed the souls of those of us willing to believe our country had the fortitude to improve. After the tortuous slog of the Democratic primary, Tim delivered the elixir vitae with which we prepared ourselves for the general election.

Conclusion:

We made it. We did it. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. And, for one of the first times in my adult life, I am proud of America. I came of age during the Clinton impeachment, Columbine shooting, Dot Bomb and beginning of the disastrous Bush years. It will feel odd not to be embarrassed of my Executive administration – almost alien. My disappointment in Bush and Cheney and the people who supported them in 2004 has been an almost constant companion of mine, which I will soon part with forever. I can once again stand tall under our flag and be optimistic about America and her place in this world. Obama will not be the only one undergoing a huge transition. Soon, we’ll all feel the sun on our faces again and know once more what it is like to be the champions of good and right and noble. Obama ’08.

14
Oct
08

Why “Drill, Baby, Drill” Chanters are Idiots

I’m sure most of you who watched the Republican National Convention saw the goobers in hardhats and safety vests which said, “Drill, baby, drill!” Their captain, Rush Limbaugh said June 18,

They’re (Democrats) going to oppose the economic growth of the country. They’re going to oppose your prosperity. They’re going to oppose all of that by standing in the way of this.

They’ve (Democrats) got their talking points and they’re lying through their teeth about it.

Bill Nelson of Florida, one of, ahem, my senators, is out there saying that, (paraphrasing) “Hey, the federal government’s already leased a whole bunch of land to the big oil companies; they’re not even using it.”  It’s such a smoke screen, the number of years left on these leases is very few, and the whole thing is a lie anyway.  I have the figures to prove it.

Entrepreneurs of all stripes, all sizes, create business of all sizes. They’re a wide range. And who is it that always sets out to punish them and destroy them?  Liberals, the American left! Absolutely right, Brian. I could read your lips in there.  Good going.  What does Obama want?  Barack Obama wants you to suffer.  Barack Obama wants higher prices on fuel. right now.  Barack Obama wants a windfall profits tax. right now.  Barack Obama wants to raise your income taxes, by the way, right now.  He wants to raise capital gains taxes, right now.  He wants to raise Social Security taxes, right now.  Obama wants you to suffer.  The Democrat Party wants you in pain.  They want you angry, and they are willing to block any remedy to this problem in order to keep you suffering and in pain and angry.  Obama wants prices up, he wants your income down, and he wants taxes up, ladies and gentlemen.

I know, he’s a crackpot. I recommend reading the whole transcript because it’s incredibly laughable. Let me continue. Here’s Sarah Palin during the VP Debate,

The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.

Barack Obama and Senator Biden, you’ve said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we’re in.

If that’s not enough to make you want to sprinkle cyanide on your cheerios, country singer Aaron Tippin has a new hit, “Drill here, drill now,” you can listen to here. I’m posting the second verse:

Every time a foreign tanker pulls up to our shore
They got us over a barrel while they bleed us a little more
And think how much it costs just to bring it all that way
And how many American jobs that’d make if we were drillin’ in the USA
Oh and God forbid if our oily friends should decide to cut us off
We’d be standin’ around with our britches down now listen to me ya’ll

Perhaps Aaron’s legendary tight pants have seized up blood flow to his brain.

What I’m trying to say is that all these calls for offshore drilling and energy independence have made it clear there’s a drought of information on the Right. I’ve decided to rectify the situation by gathering what we informed people call FACTS to help explain the error in this argument – which many Democrats are perpetuating as well. It’s almost criminal.

So, I beg of you – educate yourself. Even if you don’t want to read my lengthy presentation of reality and possibility, conduct your own research of the effects of increased offshore drilling, the possibility it will lower gas prices, and the addition to jobs and U.S. prominence alternative energy technology will provide.

Here’s my crack at it. It’s long, but it’s worth it. Jesuschrist, it’s worth it.

The clamors for energy independence only surfaced following the rise in gasoline/petrol prices. Because gas prices are largely determined by the decision made by OPEC regarding production levels, Americans are under the incorrect impression that drilling for more hydrocarbon off our shores will provide energy independence and lower gas prices.

OFFSHORE DRILLING ≠ ENERGY INDEPENDENCE ≠ LOW GASOLINE/PETROL PRICES

The American people are uninformed, which is nothing new, and their politicians are doing nothing to correct this problem because they are whores for campaign contributions, which lead them to feed the corporatocracy that is pimping America by trading money for favorable legislation. The oil & gas lobby is one of the biggest john of them all. According to the Federal Election Commission Sept. 2, 2008, and reported by the Center for Responsive Politics, campaign contributions for the 2008 election cycle totalled $22,543,340. Republicans were the most successful streetwalkers, receiving 75 percent of these contributions, while Democrats only garnered 25. Apparently, it’s hard out here for a pimp Democrat.

Because Americans don’t understand the realities of domestic hydrocarbon production, 67 percent answered in the affirmative to the RasmussenReports poll question, “In order to reduce the price of gas, should drilling be allowed in offshore oil wells off the coasts of California, Florida, and other states?” According to the survey, the results of which were released June 17, 64 percent of voters “believe it is at least somewhat likely that gas prices will go down if offshore oil drilling is allowed.” Now, I’m sure you know embittered former pollster for the Clintons, Dick Morris runs RasmussenReports and is now a sweetheart of the Right – which is why they quoted this survey endlessly.

The false assumption is that offshore drilling will lead to energy independence which will lead to lower gasoline prices.

Wrong.

U.S. WOULDN’T OWN OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS ONCE IT IS DRILLED

As Cenk Uygur correctly pointed out of the Huffpo, the United States government does not own all the hydrocarbon that is produced within its borders. The company that is awarded the contract to drill owns the oil or gas and may decide to sell their unrefined product to whomever they like and will likely do so to whoever is the highest bidder, be they India, China, etc. Simply because the U.S. government decides to open leases off Florida, California and ANWR does not automatically assume the U.S. markets will be the recipient of those energy resources.

Secondly, the U.S. refineries are operating near capacity. According to the latest numbers provided by U.S. Department of Energy for July 2008, U.S. refining operable capacity was 17,610,000 barrels per day. Of that capacity, U.S. refineries produced 17,464,000 barrels per day. The last major refinery built in the U.S. began operations in 1976. This is partially due to strict standards set by the EPA and the high cost of such an endeavor, but also NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard), an acronym describing a residential opposition to nearby industrial building. People want to use the oil and gas, they just don’t want to be near the production of their precious energy. With my family from in and around Lake Charles, I can see why.

The point is that politicians – Dems and Repubs alike – encourage the drill, baby, drillers; they just forget to mention that even if we increase offshore drilling, we do not have the refining capacity to ensure those energy reserves serve the American market. Sure, we can loosen environmental standards and attempt to rush the establishment of some refining infrastructure before oil companies bring that offshore hydrocarbon online. But visit Lake Charles for a weekend and decide if you want those big daddies in your backyard or if you would rather just drive less, switch to fluorescent light bulbs and inflate your tires.

U.S. ENERGY COMPANIES WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP PRICES AS HIGH AS THEY CAN

Americans are also assuming that oil and gas companies, in all their benevolence, would flood the American market with hydrocarbon to allow gasoline prices to decrease. Not gonna happen. FOR EXAMPLE, PLS’ ProspectCentre reported Oct. 1, 2008 that Chesapeake Energy, the largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., will “reduce it drilling capex (17%) through year-end 2010 by ~$3.2 billion in response to recent price collapse that has driven gas prices down (~50% since July 1)…Of the capex reduction through 2010, $1.9 billion is associated with reduced drilling activity.” WHAT??? you ask. Gas prices are over $1 more than when Hurricane Katrina hit. My car cost $12.50 to fill up eight years ago and now requires $40. And Chesapeake Energy is reducing drilling because energy prices are falling. Yes, Chesapeake produces natural gas, which is different than gasoline – but prices of energy originating from hydrocarbon sources are closely related.

Translation: Chesapeake Energy is decreasing their drilling of natural gas in order to reduce supply, despite typical ravenous demand of Americans for energy, which will help keep prices high. Politicians have given Americans the idea that American oil and gas (natural gas) companies are operating at capacity and we need to open more leases to bring more energy online in American markets. False. Major companies in the United States are right now decreasing domestic energy production because prices have fallen, causing these companies what they see as budgetary constraints.

The interesting tidbit about Chesapeake’s maneuver is that they’ve done it before. BNET Sept. 27, 2006: “Effective October 1, 2006, the company plans to temporarily shut-in approximately 100 million cubic feet (mmcf) per day of net natural gas production (approximately 125-150 mmcf per day gross) in various areas of operations in the southwestern U.S. until natural gas prices recover from recently depressed levels.” What has happened since the end of 2006? Prices have risen! How surprising! Of course, I’m not suggesting Chesapeake’s activities alone have caused gasoline prices to increase, but I’m giving you an idea of how the oil and gas industry responds to any decrease in gasoline prices.

You see – and this is very important – even if oil and gas were produced as much as possible within American borders and even if refineries were built to handle the capacity of oil and gas sucked out of the ground, oil companies would keep production low. Why? Why? you ask. I will tell you.

The oil companies have discovered that Americans have a high pain tolerance when it comes to energy prices. Americans will let gasoline reach $4.00 a gallon before really pulling back. They will never allow gasoline prices – profits – to fall back to the yesteryear of cheap gas and easy energy. No matter how available or plentiful that energy is domestically, the companies will manipulate the market to keep prices high. Oh, they’ll give us a load of “reduced supply” mishegoss, but make no mistake – they only have eyes for profits. Right now, according to PLS, XTO, EOG and Petrohawk “may watch Chesapeake’s stock to determine if they should follow the same plan.”

The main point is that even if all our hydrocarbon energy supply originates within U.S. borders, prices will remain in the nose-bleeds. Them’s the brakes. Yes, we are currently experiencing a reduction in prices, but it won’t last.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT REFINING

Now let’s assume that we do open all our oil and natural gas reserves to quell demands for more resources. We throw open every lease available off various coasts and in protected wildlife preserves and give them to the exploration and production companies like letting a fat kid loose in a candy store. We would have to assume that demand would remain the same or decrease in order to bring gasoline prices down.

Just one thing. Remember that last refinery that was built in 1976? Yeah, American consumption of energy has increased 25 percent since it was built. If prices are cheap, our consumption will not decrease unless there is a national mandate Americans understand is necessary to preserve our environment and the health of our children. With demand high, prices will remain so as well.

Because American oil and gas demand will always rise above domestic supply – especially with cheap prices – we will never be energy independent as long as our main source of energy is hydrocarbon. Our demand will always outpace domestic supply. Can’t say it enough.

If we do throw open all the leases possible and build refineries to service the American market as much as possible, we will end up polluting the shit out this country. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a big deal if the only pollution we had to deal with was only that which we create ourselves. It’s not. Pollution from China has already started having worldwide effects – especially in California, where emissions regulations for local industries will have to be sharply curbed to deal with the fallout from China’s production boom.

“GREEN REFINERIES”? SURELY, YOU JEST.

No, I don’t, Willis. There have been recent movements toward establishing “green refineries” – if there is such a thing. Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma fought for seven years and finally received a permit to build a 150,000 barrels-per-day refinery that it says will operate within strict environmental regulations. Hyperion Resources, based in Dallas, is planning an environmentally sound refinery that will turn Canadian crude into low-sulfur gasoline and diesel at a rate of 400,000 barrels per day. According to a Reuters article describing the project, it often takes five years before companies receive the required permits for construction, which can often lead to investors jumping ship.

And if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for green gas, Hunton Energy of Houston has proposed the first green refinery on the Texas coast, shooting for a 340,000 barrels-per-day facility to convert Canadian bitumen crude into clean-burning jet fuel and diesel. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Its defining feature is the integration of a gasification facility, which would capture most of the plant’s carbon emissions before they reach the atmosphere.” It will be interesting to see whether this refinery – in ten years, if the project succeeds – will live up to its “green” claims.

There is, however, no definition for “green” and its subjectiveness has allowed it to be used as a major selling tool by energy companies who tend to be colorblind when it comes to the environment. In this case, “green” refers to reduced emissions by the refineries. It does not mean “zero emissions” as such as thing is currently impossible.

Obviously, the greenest refinery will likely do more detriment than wind and solar combined. Although one has to take into account the energy needed to produce a wind turbine, transport it and set up the massive thing (I see them in parts on 18-wheelers all over the highways here in north Texas). How long would a windmill have to generate energy before justifying its very existence? Just a question.

CLEAN COAL, JUMBO SHRIMP, PRETTY UGLY

Still, the term “green refinery” calls to mind another potential oxymoron: “clean coal.” Politicians say it all the time and the term even enjoyed a bit of attention during the recent Vice Presidential Debates. Jeff Biggers of The Washington Post has taken notice as well. He writes in a scathing opinion piece of the coal industry and its treatment by the Bush administration, “Clean coal: Never was there an oxymoron more insidious, or more dangerous to our public health. Invoked as often by the Democratic presidential candidates as by the Republicans and by liberals and conservatives alike, this slogan has blindsided any meaningful progress toward a sustainable energy policy.”

“Clean coal” is referring to reduced emissions from coal-firing plants and efforts are underway around the world to find the means to reduce the environmentally detrimental affects of this energy source. The release of carbon dioxide into the air is one of the biggest offenses of coal use and scientists are trying to discover new means to deal with this greenhouse gas, included rerouting it under ground. Capturing the CO2 is a top priority in “clean coal” technology. According to National Geographic News, however, technologist Gordon Couch, with the International Energy Agency’s Clean Coal Centre in London, says zero-emissions coal power is a realistic goal – though years away.

“NUKULAR” ENERGY

John McCain likes to repeat that nuclear energy is just fine because he served on a Navy ship powered by nuclear energy and all Senator Obama needs to do is talk to one of our sailors serving a nuclear-powered vessel (yeah, because they’re experts) to learn the benefits of this energy. But nuclear plants are some of the most dangerous sources of energy – the fact that Chernobyl and Three Mile Island are household terms is a large indicator of public concern regarding this energy option.

Nuclear waste is an even larger concern. And since no real long-term solution has been found regarding the storage of nuclear waste, it is irresponsible for politicians to tout this as an option for energy independence. Nuclear waste is also tremendously costly to store – the Department of Energy has said the controversial proposed storage facility at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain would cost $96.2 billion to build and operate. France is repeatedly used as a positive example of the use of nuclear energy. However, France reprocesses its nuclear waste – which is banned in the United States due to proliferation risks – and still has leftovers, which it stocks in hopes that, perhaps in 100 years scientists will have found away to eliminate the toxicity of the waste. Bonne chance.

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY…HEAD OUT OF THE ASS

Geothermal Plant in California

Even with the environmental benefits of nuclear energy, the question still looming is the cost-benefit ratio of investing such an enormous amount of funds into a technology that is detrimental in the long-term, rather than positive alternatives: biomass, geothermal, wind, solar, tidal, hydrogen.

Powerful lobbyists, greedy politicians and corporate executives have convinced the more uninformed Americans, including Palin – who chanted, “Drill, baby drill. Mine, baby, mine,” on the stump – that we must turn to domestic oil, gas and coal to increase energy independence, which will bring down gas prices.

I don’t just disagree with them, I have shown that they are wrong. They are incorrect. And almost every source I have provided in this blog is available on the internet.

So, why does the truth not out? Why do Democrats participate in this charade as well? Bucks, dollars, contributions. The building of the United Corporatocracy of America. The oil and gas industry has been the 12th largest campaign contributor to John McCain’s quest for the presidency, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Had we focused our surplus budget and American acumen for technological development on alternative energy sources back in the 1990’s instead of cheap housing developments, we might already be energy independent. Perhaps Detroit wouldn’t be in the economic doldrums. Perhaps we might not be transferring all of our wealth to “countries who do not have our best interests at heart.” But, then ExxonMobil and ConocoPhilips and many other oil & gas companies wouldn’t be receiving record profits this year. Without their political involvement, Halliburton probably wouldn’t have received a number of sweet, no-bid contracts in Iraq from the Bush administration.

Instead, we’re left with “shoulda, woulda, couldas” dangling in front of our rose-colored glasses to the past.

To make matters almost unpalatable, the Right continues to dupe many of its followers – legendary anti-intellectuals, consistent swallowers of Fox News Propaganda who disdain facts, truth, research, reality and education – into believing offshore drilling will produce energy independence and lower gas prices. It won’t. It will only make the same white men richer year after year and worsen our environmental contributions.

RENEWABLE ENERGY IS BEST CHANCE FOR U.S. TO RETAIN GLOBAL PROMINENCE

Renewable alternative energy is our chance to regain and retain our primary position on the world stage. Global citizens are hungry and demanding alternative power and the U.S. has every opportunity to develop it, deliver it, and benefit from it. Like Obama said, renewable resources can give the U.S. the same economic positioning as the computer. Renewable energy technologies could be a major cultivator of domestic jobs and prop the U.S. up again as a major supplier to global market demands.

U.S. domination is subsiding, our economy is not growing as fast as other countries and we are losing our hegemonic status. Instead of tackling this development head on through education and technology, the idiotic dipshits of the Right are attacking our science classes, trying to shrink budgets for math education and calling for the same failed energy policies that will cripple our best chance to retain American greatness.

Republicans are selling our future to win elections now and their mindless followers are not only heading toward that cliff, they want to drag us over the edge with them. It is shameful and embarrassing and hopefully only a footnote in our country’s history. “Drill, baby, drill” is not the answer. It is “Dead Man Walking” for the U.S. economy and perhaps if these people knew exactly what they were proposing, they wouldn’t be trying to doom our country’s attempts to lead the world into the next technological era.

Let me be clear. I am not opposed to increased offshore drilling or increasing refining capacity. I am opposed to presenting it as a method for attaining energy independence and lowering gasoline prices. Such an assertion is untrue and only increase the falsehoods with which many voters make their decisions at the polls. It is harmful to democracy and it is harmful to the economic future and sustainability of this country. We must refocus our priorities to renewable and sustainable energy sources.

UPDATE 10.15.08. FYI, beeyotches, Time (as I spotted on Think Progress) is reporting that despite Sarah Palin’s calls for energy independence, she herself has supported efforts to send domestic hydrocarbon to more-profitable foreign markets.

According to Time, “Palin personally intervened in April, 2007, but her concerns were strictly local. She asked DOE to condition its approval on guarantees that gas needed in Alaska not be diverted to the better-paying foreign venues — a position she held until this past January, when the producers reached separate agreement with the state to meet its needs.

At no time did Palin or her government cite the desire to preserve Alaskan gas for the lower 48 states. The Sempra terminal began operations just four months after Palin announced unconditional support for the Marathon and ConocoPhillips request and a month before DOE approved their plans to export gas to Asia.”

Will the hypocrisy never end???

10
Sep
08

Saving U.S. Dominance and the Environment

Hegemony [hejuh-moh-nee] – leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.

The Washington Post reported on the upcoming report “Global Trends 2025” by Thomas Fingar, “the U.S. intelligence community’s top analyst,” in which Fingar predicts U.S. dominance will decline in the coming decades. Fingar goes on to say that U.S. military strength “will ‘be the least significant’ asset in the increasingly competitive world of the future, because ‘nobody is going to attack us with massive conventional force.'”

“The U.S. will remain the preeminent power, but that American dominance will be much diminished,” Fingar said, according to a transcript of the Thursday speech. He saw U.S. leadership eroding “at an accelerating pace” in “political, economic and arguably, cultural arenas.”

In the years ahead, Washington will no longer be in a position to dictate what new global structures will look like. Nor will any other country, Fingar said. “There is no nobody in a position . . . to take the lead and institute the changes that almost certainly must be made in the international system,” he said.

The predicted shift toward a less U.S.-centric world will come at a time when the planet is facing a growing environmental crisis, caused largely by climate change, Fingar said. By 2025, droughts, food shortages and scarcity of fresh water will plague large swaths of the globe, from northern China to the Horn of Africa.

CNN’s Farheed Zakaria makes a very good point, WaPo points out, in his book, “The Post-American World,” in which he claims that the decline in U.S. dominance is due more to the rise of other economies (China, India) than an actual slide by the U.S.

The world is in fluctuation and always will be. What this means for Republicans – especially Old School

Republicans – who follow the “Might Makes Right” theory is that their views are growing antiquated and useless. The United States, especially under George W. Bush, has engaged in an arrogant, isolationist foreign policy that does not take into account global geopolitical currents or world opinion. McCain is obviously of the same fabric and same blind mindset. The United States must interact with and seek cooperation with foreign countries rather than spouting our view and vilifying those who disagree with us. It’s petty and unproductive.

Now we face a declining economy – which will result in a weakened military. And instead of working on new technologies, as Americans have always done, to progress our country and kick start our economy again, the Republicans are stupidly chanting “drill now, drill now.” By burying their heads in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the importance of alternative energy development, they are attempting to forfeit our future – and not just environmentally.

Alternative and clean energy development could be our next Dot BOOM, it could be our next technological breakthrough and economic stronghold. Americans have long dominated innovation and technological progress. Of the 4,222,954 patents in the world, 2,460,775 have come from the U.S. We are creatures of development – the discovery of electricity, the light bulb, the steam engine, the telephone, the television, the car, the computer – you name major technological advances in the last 200 years and the U.S. almost always has its stamp on it.

And its time we did again.

Let’s discuss our oil industry. Gas prices have risen so steeply largely due to growing global demand for oil – especially from China and India. Now that prices have slid a bit and the oil industry is learning where America’s pain threshold is in regard to oil prices – at least when we’re in an economic downturn – they will not allow prices to return to the days of cheap fuel.

Just today, OPEC decided to reduce overall output by 500,000 barrels a day to offset the recent decrease in prices – even though Ike is barreling toward the Texas coast. You see, even when prices are “outrageously” high, OPEC will still make sure that profits are maximized. So what’s the answer? Well, you saw what Republicans wanted to do.

The problem? First of all, drilling now solves nothing because we do not have the refining infrastructure to handle the increase in fuels – largely due to inattention by Washington and the whole Not In My Backyard argument. About a month ago, when a McCain spokesman (can’t remember his name, but he had ring-around-the-head and a goatee) was asked about the infrastructure issue, he said, “One problem at a time!” So, he was basically saying drill first, ask questions later. Not smart policy.

Secondly, oil companies are given leases – areas of land upon which they may drill – for around 10 years. There is plenty of hydrocarbon-rich land available to the oil companies now, but these lengthy leases reduce the competition by the oil companies and many hang on to the available land without ever drilling.

Our domestic oil companies like high prices as well and as soon as prices begin to slide because “we’re not dependent on foreign oil,” they will slow production enough to drive demand and squeeze more money from the consumer.

So, Americans are not just held hostage by oil-rich foreign countries, Americans are also held hostage by our own domestic oil companies.

But no one wants to tell you this – not Barack Obama and certainly not John McCain because they enjoy corporate donations.

What’s the answer?

Alternative, reusable, natural and clean energy. Not only does it lessen the grip oil companies have on our wallets and our economy, the entire world is in desperate need and want of alternative fuels. If we develop the technology that our global partners are clamoring for, we can not only save the environment, we can save our standing in the world.

We must not let the Right Wing – with their Big Oil cohorts – kill the most viable option we have for America’s future by closing the door to new clean energy. Furthermore, the dumbing-down of our children by the Religioners and their assault on our science classes has got to stop. We have a major fight brewing in the Texas Board of Education regarding the introduction of Creationism or at least the doubting of Evolution into our schools and I’m sure this is occuring in many other states. This will hurt America – culturally, economically and globally. Ensuring the best and brightest and most-prepared students emerge from our educational institutes should be a major priority because their actions will dictate whether our nation progresses or withers.

You want to protect America? Protect science classes, encourage serious scientific education, and support the development of clean energy.

15
Jul
08

Notes on Obama’s Speech on Iraq and McCain’s Rebuttal

Notes taken live during Obama’s speech this morning:

  • I cringe every time Obama flubs a line – unlike giggling with glee when McCain trips up.
  • Steady the camera, MSNBC.
  • The repetition of points of interest is annoying.
  • As he looks from teleprompter to teleprompter, you’d think he was watching a match at Wimbledon. I’m getting motion sickness.
  • Is it (phonetically) Tal-e-ban or Tal-ee-ban? Obama says Tal-ee-ban.
  • I’ve said this before, Obama needs to meet with a public speaking coach who can teach him not to clip the ends of his words.
  • I feel very content that this speech will overshadow Bush’s ridiculous speech this morning.
  • “Securing nuclear weapons from rogue states.” Will that include Pakistan once Musharraf is removed from power?
  • “Senator McCain was one of the biggest supporters of the war.” That statement should be clarified to indicate he was a supporter of GOING to war. To indicate he supported the failed strategy afterward is a stretch and I hate when the Democrats take a page out of the Republicans’ play book.
  • He just said Tal-ee-ban again.
  • We need ribbons for our cars that say “Remember Afghanistan” and “Our Troops are Over-Taxed and Over-Burdened.”
  • “Iraq is not going to be a perfect place and we do not have unlimited resources to try and make it one.” Excellent point.
  • Residual forces left in Iraq to go after remnants of Al Qaeda. I find this acceptable. I think this force should be multi-national and under the authority of the U.N., however.
  • With all the talk of getting our forces out, Obama needs to address the defense contractor’s presence as well as our government’s involvement in their oil production and war profiteering.
  • Tal-ee-ban again. Is this going to be his nuke-u-lar? I just looked it up on dictionary.com and it indicates pronunciation as [taluh-ban].
  • Tripling aid to Pakistan? Would this be in return for our ability to go in and get Bin Laden?
  • Steady the cam, MSNBC or I might switch to CNN…
  • Goal of 80 percent of global emissions by 2050. Preach it!
  • America is strongest when we act alongside strong partners. Excellent point. W, are you listening? Oh, I forgot. You only listen to people who agree with you. Or Cheney.
  • Chris Matthews’ Hardball Number today should be how many times Obama used the word “moment” in his speech. (UPDATE: the Hardball number was how many times Obama mentioned the word “Afghanistan” in a speech that was meant to be about Iraq.
  • Obama should being referring to the Iraq War as a “war of choice” more. That will help raise voter ire toward Bush and McCain.
  • Great speech, give that speech writer a promotion! But it doesn’t distract me from his FISA vote.

**McCain plans to criticize Obama for never having visited Afghanistan and not having visited Iraq recently, yet establishing a strategy for ending the Iraq War. Does this mean that McCain believes the Americans who have not visited Iraq should have no opinion on the Iraq War? If my tax dollars are being used to perpetuate an unnecessary war, do I still have an obligation to keep my mouth shut regarding the prosecution and strategy of said war? Of course not. How ’bout this? How ’bout I use a portion of my taxes to visit Iraq so that I may be empowered to formulate a credible opinion of the war. We could set up programs akin to those European tour groups old people join so that Americans everywhere can have a say in the decisions of our government.

McCain speaking immediately after Obama’s speech.

  • He called again on Obama to participate in the town hall meetings. It’s an empty entreaty similar to his pander strategies.
  • McCain gives Obama quotations that indicate he didn’t think the surge would have any effect and then later claimed he always knew the surge would reduce violence. “Flip-floppers all over the world are enraged?” So, you’re enraged, McCain?
  • “The surge in Iraq shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan.” This seems naive. The situations on the ground in Iraq are extremely different than the situations on the ground in Afghanistan (and I’m not just talking topography). But what am I talking about, I’ve never been there. Those countries in the Middle East are all the same!
  • “Iraq and Afghanistan are not disconnected. Success breeds success. Failure breeds failure.” What? What did our “failure” in Vietnam breed?
  • “I know how to win wars.” Um…which wars have you won? I forget.
  • Ooooh. McCain just said Tal-ee-ban as well.
  • “The drug issue in Afghanistan is the world’s problem and the world should share its cost.” True. Alternative crops is a good idea, though it hasn’t worked in Colombia and hasn’t worked in Afghanistan previously. The whole supply and demand thing…
  • McCain says that we must strengthen Pakistani tribes that are willing to fight terrorists in their region and this is what has worked in Iraq. This is true. But the U.S. has paid billions to Iraqi tribes to do this and they’ve also shelled out billions to the violent tribes, “bribing” them to stop their assaults. What will happen when we stop paying? And how long can we continue to pay when McCain and Bush won’t even increase college tuition for soldiers.
  • “Defeat radical Islam.” What breeds radical Islam? Poverty. Just FYI.
  • “When I am Commander in Chief, there will be no where the terrorists can run and no where they can hide.” Mkay, we’ll see. Does this mean you’re going to continue the “You’re either with us or against us” line.
  • “I will bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. I will do that.” (Audience gives standing ovation.) And if Osama’s in Pakistan?
  • The “galvanizing” factor of McCain’s speech cannot compare to that of Obama’s.

** While speaking with Andrea Mitchell, Trent Lott reiterated the claim that McCain “cornered” Obama into going to Iraq. These Republicans know fully well that, as the most probable presidential candidate, of course Obama would have visited before the election. He probably would have gone sooner had the Democratic primary not been so protracted.

Republicans are so comfortable in their cesspool of lies – whether it’s the China drilling off the U.S. Coast, Chuck Hagel going to Israel with Obama, Obama being Muslim and Racist, and many others. The Democrats are certainly not without their own political rhetoric, but an infestation of lies has not permeated Democrat strategies they way one has Republican strategies. Have they no honor, dignity or respect for the truth? They’re probably making Baby Jesus really, really angry.




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