Posts Tagged ‘Iraq

10
Apr
09

Why Bush, Cheney – and those damn Tea Partiers – Aren’t Smart

Forgive me for stating the obvious.

In the April issue of Real Simple magazine, science writer Jonah Lehrer pens an article entitled, “10 Ways to Be a Better Thinker.” It was quite interesting. My favorite was #5 – Take Long Showers, which says “moments of insight often arrive when you’re not aware that you’re thinking of the problem.” This is probably why my best blog ideas come to me right before I’m about to fall asleep and there’s no way in hell I’m getting out of bed. Suffer for my art? Please.

But #8 and #10 were the most interesting to me in terms of analyzing our political leaders, which I’m wont to do quite often. The eighth suggestion is to Study Your Mistakes, “One common trait of successful people is their willingness to focus on their fumbles.” And, on a similar note, Ten advises us to Think About Our Thinking, “Metacognition, as this is known, is a crucial skill. Many scientists argue that the best predictor of good judgment isn’t intelligence or experience; it’s the willingness to engage in introspection.”

These appear to be simple, basic concepts regarding the quality of thought. Yet, when you look at the majority of our political leaders, you will find a demographic either devoid of the capability of such improved mental activity or you find people simply unwilling to admit fault and self-analyze. So many of these dolts seem to have one speed of thought, with self-imposed blinders preventing them from the most important of decisions: how to change for the better.

We are witnesses to such blocks of immovable concrete when we see Republicans on television refusing to understand the realities and results of the decisions of the last eight years. They keep calling for lower taxation for the upper economic echelons and increased deregulation. There is absolutely no acknowledgment of fault or quality instances of introspection.

W. Bush says in Dead Certain, a great look at the man’s presidency by Robert Draper, that he HAD to believe that his decision to go into Iraq was correct. He would never allow himself to even consider the idea that perhaps the war had been a mistake. When you’re playing with thousands, perhaps over a million people’s lives, this attitude seems almost criminal for those with their fingers over the red button.

But that was the biggest criticism of Bush, wasn’t it? That the man wasn’t intellectually curious, probably due to the fact that he wasn’t introspective. His foot was on the accelerator regardless of whether there was a brick wall in his path or not (while the rest of us are in the back seat). It was only a “disappointment” that weapons of mass destruction weren’t found in Iraq. When asked what went wrong with Katrina, Bush immediately asks whether he should have landed Air Force One instead of simply flown over the area.

There is a grave, almost developmentally challenged inability by Bush to analyze situations in their totality or through the lenses of those with differing opinions. And his supporters have the same problem. Even now, many across the media’s various forms insist Iraq was a success and is now doing fine. Five soldiers died today in Mosul in a suicide truck bombing. There is widespread violence still and the region is extraordinarily unstable. Ask an Iraqi if they think the war was a success. It’s their country, after all. And these are real people! Over a million Iraqis have died since the war started and Bush talks about them like they’re little Lego men in one of his Lego forts. It’s despicable.

This lack of critical thinking skill is also what led Cheney to declare in May of 2005 that the Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes or that Obama is making us less safe because he is changing Bush’s policies. Cheney will never acknowledge that their administration’s policies allowed Iran’s influence and power to increase exponentially and caused an explosion in global hatred toward America.

People can disagree with Obama’s policies, as I do with some, all they want. But read the man’s books, look without prejudice at his decision-making process and you will see an increased capacity for deliberation, introspection, intellectual curiosity, consideration of mistakes, and appreciation for not only differing views, but everyone’s views. That’s why we elected him. Whatever you say about his policies, the man’s process is an ocean of improvement over our last commander in chief.

And all these little Tea Party shenanigans Fox seems to be orgasming over – the ones calling for the impeachment of Obama before he has even been in office 100 days – reveal how simple-minded the radical fringe of the Bush supporters are. None of them would give you a decent assessment regarding the mistake they made reelecting Bush. Nor would they be introspective enough to appreciate change or understand that the rest of us deserve a president who

This is what Im talking about. Reality has left the building.

This is what I'm talking about. Reality has left the building.

represents us as well. None of them would ever recognize that the policies they support, the ones that were instituted over the last eight years, have brought our country dishonor, ill-repute, economic woe and autocratic policies. They have committed a great harm and the rest of us have stood up and said no more.

I understand the pendulum swings politically. Right now, the Far Right Wing should have some dignity, grace and allow the rest of us – the majority of us (for now) – to institute the policies we believe will not only rescue us from this iniquitous past, but improve our now and our future. They should be a little introspective and come to grips with the fact that most of us do not agree with them, most of us support Obama at this point, and we have a right to resist the oppression they would impose.

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05
Feb
09

Politicians: Corporatocracy Whores

It seems most politicians are members of three clubs: former big biz, lawyers, and academics. Of course, there are exceptions. Ron Paul, Bill Frist, Howard Dean, and Tom Coburn were also doctors. California offers up actors from time to time, and Jesus give us his peeps:  Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Mike Huckabee. Sarah Palin crawled out from under a rock in White Trashville, as will have Joe The Plumber when he undoubtedly attempts to run for some public office.

Maybe we need to take a closer look at where our politicians come from and what type of background offers the most successful selections. By successful, I don’t mean longest-serving or highest-ranking. I mean most effective, the politicians that benefited the American people the most.

In pondering this topic, the most pessimistic observation regarding the state of our government is that there is an undeniable rotating door between government and big business. As I’ve said, this is not a democracy, but a corporatocracy. Lobbyists and politicians are one and the same and this is true of both Republicans and Democrats.

Sure, this is a well-known reality. So, what could have triggered my need to blog on the topic today? Well…

On Morning Joe this a.m. Joe Scarborough, in his usual pithy tone of egotistical disgust and certitude, derided Obama who, just like Bernanke, Joe said, is a professor. They’re just professors. And this is true. But maybe, just maybe, it’s not a bad thing.

Yesterday, Robert Scheer pointed out in his Huffpo blog entry, Runaway Wallstreet, that Geithner’s choice for top aide is Mark Peterson, Goldman Sachs VP and lobbyist. “It was confirmation that Goldman Sachs runs the Treasury Department–no matter which party is in power.” He also sites The NYTimes’ “The Guys From ‘Government Sachs'”, which details Goldman alumni in the government – Paulson, of course, but also Joshua B. Bolten, Neel T. Kashkari, Robert Rubin, World Bank Pres. Robert Zoellick, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and a BUNCH, bunch more.

Goldman Sachs is one of the many Wall Street, financial institutions with a revolving door between itself and the Treasury Dept., the Fed, the SEC and more. What about Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg? And, most recently John McCain was greatly considering naming shamed former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain – you know the one who spent $1.2 million redecorating his office – for his Treasury Secretary. How can our government be expected to enact the best policy when they are all big biz wankers who have no priority over increasing wealth among their ranks?

The financial industry isn’t the only extreme conflict of interest in the government. Remember Dick Cheney? Yes, that ex-Halliburton CEO called in major energy execs to help write the government’s energy policy. No wonder Bush thought Kyoto was a bad idea. No wonder Bush wouldn’t let California set high fuel emissions standards. No wonder Detroit refused to acknowledge the growing demand for greener autos. No wonder Halliburton, its subsidiaries, and other companies close to Bush & Cheney received no-bid contracts in Iraq worth billions while our underfunded military continued to fight wars on two fronts. Nothing new – former head of Enron Ken Lay would trip over himself licking the heals of Bush I, leaving little surprise that the company was able to get away with manipulating the California energy market before its bubble collapsed.

Where do you think Tom Daschle went after his senate career? Yeah, a lobbying firm with clients in the health care sector. He would have made a great health care secretary. No conflict there. And you know how recruited him? Bob Dole. Even Bill Frist went to work for a health care investment firm after leaving the senate.

And there’s always a new crop of big biz lackeys knocking at the door all the time: Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, and  Meg Whitman are biding their time, waiting to make their big break on the national circuit. But it’s not just the politicians – it’s their spouses, their children, congressional aides, government inspectors for the FDA, SEC, CDC and more – everyone around these politicians are in bed with lobbying firms and corporations. Lower level government employees, eying big dollar jobs in the private sector, push their bosses toward pro-biz legislation and deregulation. The mainstream media, dependent on sponsor dollar, rarely publicize the siamese twins our government and big business have become.

And the American people suffer for it. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry mandated the vaccination of teenage girls with Gardasil – interesting because of his ties to Gardasil’s maker, Merck. The governor thinks he can issue executive orders regarding the health of our children, ordering them to take a new drug with multiple questions regarding its side effects. The man should be jailed. He also tried to rush the building of coal plants before new “clean coal” (cough, cough lie) regulations were put in place. Yeah, we got a winner down here in Texas. Hey Perry – this isn’t a fucking autocracy! Asshole.

Now, sure most of the Democratic politicians are lawyers  – funny how they want to study law before becoming professional legislators. And many other government participants are academics. The main attack line against these people – and we heard it quite a bit this last election – is that they never ran anything. Somehow the recent big biz execs are winning elections to become today’s politicians on platforms that they were in charge in the business sector. And the last eight years have been the most pro-biz in recent history. Do you see what I’m getting at?

Maybe before we jump to criticize these professors and lawyers, we should take a look at how well the big biz peeps fared. Last I looked, our civil liberties were greatly reduced, we spent far more on a war sold with lies than we did on education the children of our country, a credit bubble formed and popped, health care costs became astronomical, unaffordable and the leading cause of bankruptcy, speculation drove oil & gas prices sky high and unemployment reached record levels.

At least the top 400 richest people doubled their wealth while Bush was president. The poverty sector grew by leaps and bounds, but who cares about those people? We have a corporatocracy on our hands and until we establish policy on data, information, evidence and reality and leave ideology and theory in the books where they belong, we will continue to suffocate the middle class. And without a healthy middle class, a healthy American economy cannot exist. The idea of a free market has become a joke, a myth. There’s nothing free about our market. It’s very, very expensive. And it’s not the rich who are paying for it.

17
Jan
09

Bush Needs To Fight the Law and the Law Needs to Win

I hope a lot of things.

I hope Journey gets back together.

I hope my husband develops an unusual penchant for household chores.

I hope UT dominates March Madness.

However, I’m realistic about the likely outcome of all these lofty wishes.

One of the big hopes I have saved in my hidden inner chamber of possibility is that Obama is lying as he quells calls for him to focus any attention toward the prosecution of the Bush administration for any of the multitude of crimes committed over the last eight years.

Any Constitutional Law professor (a.k.a. Obama), any two-bit ambulance chaser, could spot the illegal maneuvering of Bush cronies in the areas of warrantless wiretapping, Dept. of Justice politicization, no-bid contracts in Iraq, and torture – to name a few. And I don’t know if it was illegal to shovel billions of dollars to contractors as our military and veterans struggle grossly underfunded, but it should be.

The Bush administration hired a bunch of smarty-pants followers of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and fall-in-line, kill-the-enemy NeoCons whose sole purpose was to lace together intricately fragile arguments claiming legality of their bold molestations of power.

It is clear in Bush’s repeated and insistent claims in his last few media appearances:

Bush’s Last Press Conference Jan. 12:

And then we start putting policy in place — legal policy in place to connect the dots.

To Brit Hume Jan. 12:

And so however I interpreted the Constitution, I kept in mind what the Constitution said, the legality of what my decisions were…

And I said, are these tools deemed to be legal. And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made…

And all I can tell the American people is we better have tools in place that are legal and that can help us protect the American people from an enemy that still exists…

Everything this administration did was — had a legal basis to it, otherwise we would not have done it.

To Larry King Jan. 13,

No. No. Everything we did was — you know, it had legal legal opinions behind it…

And I got legal opinions that said whatever we’re going to do is legal.

Doth he protest too much? Yes, I think he doth. If nothing else, his insistence makes him suspect. The last president I remember asserting incessantly that activities under his leadership were legal was Nixon. And we know how history judged him.

As I watch Obama tell Georgie-boy Stephenohcrapmynameislong,

“And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

I just hope he is keeping his rhetoric bland and calm so the little Bushies don’t run around as as the clock ticks away destroying every document (which is illegal) having to do with every questionable transgression. They’d have to burn the house down and those librarians at Congress would be muy picante, if you know what I mean.

Obama will have hundreds if not thousands of employees at his disposal. I think a few should be allotted the quiet task of investigating the slanted activities of the worst commander-in-chief this country has known. Lest the next commanders-in-chief take a que that they do not have to justify their activities to the American people and their Constitution. That would be wrong.

Will he give us a few lower-level prosecutions to try and satiate the public outcry? Undoubtedly, there were so many crimes committed, that shouldn’t be too difficult. But an administration that would out a CIA agent, make the EPA a mortally hypocritical organization, and encourage the SEC to unbuckle the country’s seat belt as its economy veered over a cliff, certainly has much to answer for. Behind bars. And not in white collar, conjugal visit prison. I’m picturing a prison where you really need to keep an eye on your cornhole.

I wouldn’t call my urges for Bush administration prosecutions blood lust. I simply want justice after an 8-year period where that word was practically meaningless inside the walls of our Executive branch. I don’t believe in Bush’s lord and savior, but if he exists, I can’t imagine he would be anything but gravely disappointed by one of his most public followers and the one least like him.

One of the biggest proofs that Christianity is hooey is that its rules dictate Cheney would go to Heaven while I go to Hell. Well, that ain’t bloody happening. But please, before Cheney and his boss head anywhere, let them sit in front of a judge. And then behind bars. Lest history repeat itself.

10
Dec
08

Laughable Joe-The-Plumber Speaks

Reveling in his 15th second of fame, Joe-The-Plumber gave an interview to Glenn Beck to publicize the book he didn’t write in true American capitalism fashion. Can’t really blame the guy. Hell, if this guy wants to shout from the top of the rafters what a jackass he is, then who am I to wish him shushed? Especially when he provides such humorous fodder for my irony-appreciating mental appetite.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone is talking about how Joe is throwing John McCain under the bus – though, none of us would know his name if it weren’t for ole McCain (hey, that rhymes!) – but that is to be expected. Of course the world of the Right would treat their former nominee as a leper – they once hailed him as the Republican antichrist before being forced by the voters to jump on his bandwagon. Joe, obviously a follower of Fox News and radio blowhards, justified his participation in McCain’s campaign by calling him the “lesser of two evils”. Ain’t it funny that he never said that during the campaign?

MESSAGE TO JOE

What really brought home the absurdity of Joe’s reality was his assertion that he likes to think he’s more educated than most when it comes to politics. Right… Joe thinks the U.S. invading Iraq is like someone coming to Jesus and being saved. Joe thinks that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel. And Joe thinks he’s more educated than most when it comes to politics. Whatevah! Douchebag.

The second thing he said illustrating his “education” is that Sarah Palin is the “real deal” and that “she’s not looking for power.” If Palin is the genuine article – an honest politician – why do she and her staff use personal emails for government business? Why did she appoint wretchedly unqualified friends and donors to her cabinet and government positions? And if she’s not looking for power, why did she lobby her ass off to get to VP nomination?

One tip for ya there, Joe: the quickest way to fix the toilet is to get your head out of it.

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???

24
Sep
08

Release of Intelligence Report on Afghanistan Postponed Until After Election

In the ongoing campaign of secrecy an politicization of our troops and military activities by the Bush administration, the latest NIE on Afghanistan will not be made public until after the presidential election, according to Brian Ross of ABC News.

US intelligence analysts are putting the final touches on a secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Afghanistan that reportedly describes the situation as “grim”, but there are “no plans to declassify” any of it before the election, according to one US official familiar with the process.

Apparently, the NIE will report that the situation in Afghanistan is grim. Shocker.

Seth Jones, an expert on Afghanistan at the Rand Corporation think tank, called the situation in Afghanistan “dire.”

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“We are now at a tipping point, with about half of the country now penetrated by a range of Sunni militant groups including the Taliban and al Queida,” Jones said. Jones said there is growing concern that Dutch and Canadian forces in Afghanistan would “call it quits.”

“The US military would then need six, eight, maybe ten brigades but we just don’t have that many,” Jones said.

Last week, Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress “we’re running out of time” in Afghanistan. “I’m not convinced we’re winning it in Afghanistan,” Adm. Mullen testified.

I’m sure Afghanistan will be part of the dialogue during the debate Friday night. But McCain has yet to present a concise plan for a reduction in our troop levels in Iraq – despite every other major player from Obama to Bush to Maliki expressing their strategies.

The troops are overloaded with tours in quantity and in length. We’re losing major ground in the verifiable terrorist bullseye. So, I ask you, how is John McCain putting country first? All he gives is over-bloated threats about gates to hell and no substantive policy presentations on refocusing efforts toward Afghanistan.

Of course, now the Bush administration is helping him by keeping this NIE under wraps until after the election. Releasing the report would give the situation in Afghanistan the searing light of attention it deserves.

Republican leadership has not been good for the country, nor has it been good for the troops. Obviously.

23
Sep
08

Update On Decrease In Violence In Iraq

In my efforts to combat the campaign of misinformation regarding the “success of the surge,” I have blogged about the efficacy of Sunni payoffs and the new strategic ops program Bob Woodward has brought to light.

I’m sure many of you saw the new report that came out yesterday indicating the ethnic cleansing in Iraqi neighborhoods has been the “primary factor” in reduced violence in Iraq, especially in Baghdad. Whether ethnic cleansing was THE primary factor or not, I cannot say, but am sure it was a very large component – much larger than Bush’s surge – in reducing violence.

Sunni payoffs are also a primary factor in their “Awakening”, placing into question the stability of the decreased violence should the U.S. decide to reduce payoffs to Sunni tribes as our forces are withdrawn. Furthermore, there are around a million Shia refugees that will be looking to return to Iraq as reconstruction, which has been an abysmal failure, continues. Violence in the Anbar province and Baghdad continues to be very fragile. Despite the existence of ethnically-cleansed neighborhoods, poverty breeds violence and the payoffs ensure tribesmen do not look singularly to killing to “get what’s theirs.”

Developments to transition the security burden to the Iraqi government, however, are in progress. As the Associated Press reported yesterday, “The Iraqi government will begin paying the salaries of about 54,000 of the mostly Sunni fighters in Baghdad Province who joined the fight against al-Qaida.” Unfortunately, the article does not state that the U.S. is currently paying those salaries and gives the impression that the Iraqi government is “all of the sudden” offering payments to Sunnis. Obviously, Iraq – who stands to make between $67 and $79 billion in oil sales this year – has the cash to offer these payments despite the ubiquitous corruption in the government’s ranks.

This increased role by the Iraqi government is certainly a sign that there is a possibility of violence remaining at a reduced state as the U.S. refocuses its military efforts where they should be: Afghanistan.

What is most irritating as the election enters its final stage is the reluctance by Democrat leaders, besides Biden, to point out the other variables that reduced violence in Iraq and suck the air out of Republicans’ continual misleading about the results of the surge. Just this Sunday on 60 Minutes, Obama again failed to give a comprehensive response to claims about the surge:

Kroft: Iraq. When we talked to you the first time, back in February of 2007, you had proposed, at that time, a piece of legislation that would have had all the troops out in 16 months. Which means they would have been out by today, if it would have been passed. We would have missed the surge. We would have missed the reduction in violence.

Obama: Oh, wait, wait, wait, Steve. I mean, now you’re just engaging in a huge hypothetical. We don’t know what would have happened if we had initiated the plan that I put forward at the beginning of 2007. And the fact of the matter is that, as successful as our troops have been in lowering the violence in Iraq, and they have performed brilliantly. But the truth of the matter is we still don’t have an oil agreement. We still don’t have provincial elections. The commanders on the ground themselves acknowledge that the political progress that’s needed has not been made. So we all welcome the reduction in violence, but the notion that somehow this was the only way for us to solve the problem, and that the problem has been solved, I completely disagree with.

He really needs to get with the program ahead of this Friday’s debate on national security. Cowtowing to uninformed notions that honesty regarding military situations – especially troop activities – is somehow unpatriotic is no way to lead. A presentation of the facts is the best and most effective way to pop McCain’s false surge balloon. Simply saying, “We don’t know what would have happened if we didn’t go ahead with the surge,” does not get the job done, and presents a weak and disingenuous message. And that goes for all Democrats – not just Obama.




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