Gee, All Sorts of Pollyannas Out This Week...

Check out this piece at USA Today (hat tip: Everything's fine folks. Nothing to see here.
Global oil production is not likely to peak anytime soon, contrary to talk that has helped propel prices to $60 a barrel, although lower prices may still be a few years away, a prominent energy consultancy said Tuesday.

Cambridge Energy Research Associates said that, instead of a crest being reached sometime this decade, an inflection point in world oil output will occur sometime beyond 2020, after which production will plateau for several more decades.
Between this piece and the one HO pointed us to last night, we might as well shut TOD down. Everything's fine!

Morons. F-in' morons.

(edited to add: here's a link from Bloomberg that says (on 17 JUN) "Crude-oil prices are likely to reach $70 barrel once they breach the record, said John Murphy, chief technical analyst at Oil futures in New York have exceeded the 200- day moving average since a dip in May. That suggests a 70 percent to 80 percent chance of oil's reaching $70, said Murphy."

and let's not forget our buddy T. Boone at CNN, who says "I think people are scratching their heads as to whether the world will accept $60 like it did $50," Pickens told the Reuters Energy Summit. "You could go to $70, but at some point it's going to cost on the demand side.

and T. Boone from a Reuters piece saying "Huge development costs and a tight labor supply will prevent unconventional oil supplies, like Canada's oil sands, from making up for declines in conventional world oil output, veteran energy investor Boone Pickens said on Tuesday."

As I said, f-in' morons.

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Morons or market manipulators?

wow, yet another "or" question I can answer "yes" to. :)

Jeez -

I wonder which 30 year old thesis paper these guys copied, and how much they get per day to do so....

btw - who funds Cambridge Energy Research Associates?

And I just got to ask -

has ANYBODY, amongst TOD readers, EVER seen a world oil reserve curve shaped like a top hat?

Because that is the shape of their curve, as they dance it in front of mainstream America....

Well, a strike in Norway's offshore fields could create a bit of demand destruction. Maybe enough to delay peak oil a few more years? I dunno.

does that mean that I have to get a tux for this party?

also, I need to express my complete contempt for the multicolored fishwrap that is USA Today and its journalistic practices...that piece is pablum.

That last piece I added from Reuters is interesting. Apparently, T. Boone, not a believer in the tar sands, eh?,2318,7449,00.html has a press release about the report discussed in USA today, but the report itself does not seem to be available. It is probably for sale only to clients of CERA. The summary says,

"Despite current high oil prices and new warnings that the world may 'run out of oil,' a comprehensive new field-by-field analysis predicts worldwide hydrocarbon liquids production capacity is likely to substantially exceed demand through much of the second half of this decade....

"Key elements of the CERA analysis include:

* The role of unconventional liquids in future capacity increases;
* Potential OPEC and non-OPEC capacity and market share scenarios;
* Region-by-region and country-by-country capacity outlook;
* Implications of an emerging supply-demand differential; and
* Trends in the composition of the production stream."

But I guess they're "morons", huh? People pay big bucks for their expertise, but you think you are so much smarter than them that you feel safe in discarding their conclusions without even looking at their evidence. I can't believe your arrogance.

H: I'll give you the point that I haven't looked at the report.

However, with all of the other evidence that has been going past my eyes in the past three months, I can readily and quickly discount large amounts of supply coming into the system any time soon.

Sure, if I see or hear of the massive amounts of investment in either tough petroleum or other R&D&I in alternatives, I'll be happy to change my tune, but those folks are counting chickens well before they have hatched, imho.

Cambridge Energy Research is one of the most prominent and respected consulting firms. Their chairman is Daniel Yergin. I disagree with their conclusion, but think it is their legitimate belief.

In my opinion, better research on oil reserves has been done by a DC-based firm PFC Consulting. A good example of their work is the presentation they did for the Council on Strategic and International Studies. The key element of this presentation is that non-OPEC oil is running out quickly and that we will depend on OPEC much more than the past. My opinion is that Simmons and others have filled in the missing piece that OPEC is also running short.

The PFC link is here:

The debate over peak oil has been raging for over thirty years. I believe the facts are finally pointing clearly to the pessimistic side. But this issue is far from resolved.

Many writers seem to feel thet their is a massive conspiracy and that Exxon, Bush and the rich all know oil is running out, but are trying to keep it secret. If this were true, it would be very hard to explain backwardization in futures markets (ie. you can secure oil for the future cheaper than now) or the fact that Exxon is not spending much of their massive piles of cash on alternatives.

If the oil price one year in the future is $50, that means half the money is better it will be higher and half is betting it will be lower.

About CERA : its website says that it's a subsidiary of IHS Energy :,2161,,00.html

About IHS Energy, its a subsidiary of IHS Group. That Group is owned by the "Holland America Investment Corp" :

The Holland America Investment Corp has TBG for parent company.

TBG is the Thyssen-Bornemizsa Group, which is linked to the Bush family :

Jack, now that's a fair analysis. Sure, I might be wrong. I HOPE that we solve this problem, I just believe in my heart of hearts that we're going to have to press government and corporations to avoid a crash landing...

I guess my greatest fear is that with the inelasticity of supply we now have, it's the perfect time for terrorists to do something stupid...they have been remarkably quiet for a little too really disrupt the system.

That's always the thought that's in the back of my mind...what we discussed a while back in this post. Call me paranoid if you wish.

You know halfin, your blind faith in whatever happens to get published on paper is incredibly naieve.

No think-tank writes in a vacuum, and consultants are never asked back once they deliver bad news. I know - I am one. When meetings about commissioning these type reports are discussed, each potential consultant or firm is evaluated based on the desired outcome of the corporation or institution. Do you really think some entity would pay that much money for a CONTRARY opinion? I have signed invoices for this type of thing - if you want to swallow all of this without salt, be my guest.

I think speech is still free here in the US, right? So yes we can choose what to believe and we can consider the sources and the reason this was released now and anything else. It isn't arrogance - it is freedom, which you refuse to exercise. Methinks your freedom muscle much atrophied, because your comments are very acidic.

Who is Cambridge Energy Research Associates? Well, their chairman "Dr. Yergin is a Trustee of the Brookings Institution and a member of the Committee on Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a member of the Board of the United States Energy Association and a member of the National Petroleum Council. He is a member of the US Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board and chaired the US Department of Energy’s Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development."

One of their longest and largest customers is ChevronTexaco, whose CEO David O'Reilly is often the keynote speaker at CERA's week long conferences.

CERA also employed, at one time, Zalmay Khalilzad. Mr. Khalilzad now reports directly to Ms. Rice at the NSC.

I would be more than suspicious of any claims made by CERA as to what the real nature of petrolium depletion is.


Take that, halfin!


So, July Light Crude has reached $59.70. w00t, another record. I hope it goes higher. I'm actually excited about oil getting very expensive. When its more expensive than homemade biofuels it'll be a great day for biofuels.

oooh, fool/swill, where have you been all my life? :)

ah, but Pinchy, it actually isn't a record. the day record is around $90 after you adjust for inflation...the year average record is around $66 for 1981. We're averaging $52/bbl so far in 2005.

Of course, life in the late 70s was state of naturish, wasn't it J? *snicker* (I don't remember, I was probably watching Mr. Cartoon.)

pg -

You better let us old dogs just lie there - poking us with a stick could get you bit...


pinchy -

You own a big farm or something?

Yergin has been saying "There's no peak oil problem" for some time. Last year (exact date forgotten) in an article that appeared after the rush of peak oil books, he was quoted in the NY Times to the effect that oil discovery was at or over full replacement, and giant fields were being discovered even now. He cited the 15 billion barrel Kazakhstan field as the sole example of giant field discovery within the last 3 years (to that time), and his drift was that it was enough on its own to replace utilization for the 3 year period. Naturally, when presented with that enormous figure, the NYT writer didn't bother to check any further - or didn't tell us anyhow - but of course we here know that 15 billion is just slightly less than a 6 month supply at 82mbd.

Yergin did write one great book, but his recent propaganda like today's report leaves one scratching one's head as to CERA's objectivity.

I would love to get my hands on this CERA analysis. I went looking for it on their web site after Vijay S. over at the Economist cited it to support his argument that PO is folly.

Yergin is without question an expert on the oil industry; his book The Prize is a classic. I just wish I had the opportunity to confront his findings and either change my outlook or debunk his.

Just to clarify, I'm not saying Yergin is right; I haven't read the report either. But to dismiss it out of hand shows nothing but a closed mind. And calling him a "moron"? Come on!

CERA's theory that the peak is beyond 2020 has to do with their conjecture that there will be supplies of natural gas liquids, oil from various forms of oil sands and very deep water oil coming on stream in 3-5 years, which, when added together, will be enough to take the heat off conventional oil production, which will itself be helped by enhanced techniques and new fields coming on stream.

I think this is a valid possibility, but I think their price projections assume an awful lot going right.

Re Halfin's concerns...

It's not so much that we haven't seen his reports, it's just that given all the evidence that we have seen (real numbers, not just opinion) it is hard to take what he is saying seriously. If a well placed consultancy released a paper saying that the earth is really flat after all, and even if their report was filled with impressive tables, graphs, and slick photos, I have seen enough evidence (again real numbers) with my own eyes from other sources to know tthe report to be BS without having to read it. I think the same can be said for peak oil and the rosy scenarios of USGS and these others.

I agree that these guys aren't morons. Malicious weasels trying to manipulate public opinion and reinforce the status quo, maybe. But certainly not morons (though some of their patrons certainly seem to be...). Of course, the underlings who write the reports are probably just trying to stay employed...

*snicker* ok, ok...I stand corrected.

They're not morons.

They're malicious weasels trying to manipulate public opinion and reinforce the status quo.

The CERA people are not morons but their objectivity might be compromised. It is worth noting that CERA dramatically overestimated U.S. natural gas reserves and production as late as 2001 (cited in the Hirsch report).

Last week I attended a small dinner at a major Wall Street firm and their oil and gas analysts stated clearly that (1) finding andd production costs are going up substantially- $38/WTI and 5.25-5.50 Henry Hub gas are needed as a minimum as of 2004 to earn a 10% pre-tax return; (2) E&P companies should spend LESS of their cash flow drilling- because the more they spend the lower their returns; and (3) their expectation that oil prices will retreat to $45 average WTI in 2006.

I am sure almost everyone reading this can appreciate the tremendous contradictions embedded in their analysis. They too are not morons but did confess that their $45 forecast was chosen because their clients will not accept a higher forecast. Talk abolut denial.

Re: Daniel Yergin interview on All Things Considered today

Another piece of optimistic fluff following on the USA Today story from the post. You can find a link to the audio (requires Real Player) here at NPR.

We will be saved in a few years by oil from Angola! Canadian Tar Sands and Pipelinistan. No second opinion is solicited in the interview. Although according to Yergin all things will be just fine, the interview ends with the odd statement that if a couple "bad things" happen that affect the market, we could see a possible spike up to $105/bd but of course, that would just be temporary and things are sure to settle down after that leading to long and enduring prosperity for all.

Link Correction for NPR interview:
Yergin Interview

Sorry about that, I guess I was just so annoyed about it.....

Canadian tar sand production rate is expected to top 5mbpd in 2020. Reserves are huge but won't make a difference.


Don't spook the herd.

BOO! :(

From a 2002 BuzzFlash article Yergin said:

"Some people say the Iraq crisis has been manufactured to cloak an 'oil grab' by the United States and the American oil industry. Others believe that a liberated Iraq will flood the world market with cheap oil and provide a quick fix for concerns about our energy security."

The author points out that few besides Yergin at the time strenuously denied linkages between Iraq and oil.

"it requires several leaps of logic . . . to conclude that the current Iraq crisis is all about oil. No U.S. administration would launch so momentous a campaign just to facilitate a handful of oil development contracts and a moderate increase in supply -- half a decade from now."

I posted this elsewhere but I think it worth a reprise:

I work for an international exploration company specializing in acquiring mature assets and wringing the last drop from them. To accomplish this, we routinely employ cutting edge technologies, each of which has been discussed or at least mentioned on TOD; a few haven't even been approved for sale - we are the guinea pig.

In spite of this, the number of dry holes (finds too poor to produce) has increased by 50% over last year, in the first six months of this year. Remember, we are in mature fields - we have all the maps, all the seismic, every scrap of data possible - yet I wrote the preceding sentence.

Think about that a bit...because this makes me think that buying another companies resources might be a better use of my cash, were I the CEO. This falls in line with what Mark Stern says. We also are not allowed to use more than $35/bbl to calculate expected income - actually worse than what Stern says.

The claim that the "deep offshore" will replace expected market shortfalls might be true for a short period. However, everyone here needs to realize that to pay out these gargantuan projects, the reservoirs are being pre-drilled for simultaneous secondary production; i.e., they are being "supercharged" with pressure to maximize production volumes. If not, then they are being drilled with max contact wellbores for the same reasons - maximum production volume.

There is no "residual" production when these reservoirs are depleted. We will not hang around and try to squeeze the last drops. Mainly, maximum oil is recovered in the first pass. The remaining oil (20-35% on average) is not sufficient to leave the floating rig on location. The production rig costs more to operate per day than the remaining oil justifies. When we are done, it drops to zero. There is no backside depletion curve.

Unless the refining situation is re-tooled for higher volumes of sour crude, the heavy oils will not be able to make a difference. If Yergin is speaking about Venezuela, we will need to invade to secure that, as he (Chavez) is rapidly replacing us with the Chinese as his preferred buyer. Canada is also problematic, as oil prices must rise even higher to make it a true "oil sand boom". Right now, the conservative players get better returns elsewhere.

By ramping up LNG and methane in general, we are pushing that depletion curve into high gear. As it has an even steeper backside, I view this as "robbing Peter to pay Paul". If we squeak by this one, it brings the next right on the heels of the first resource crisis.

Yergin is not as savvy as to oil people as he is to non-oil people. A lot of his work has gaping holes because he simply takes what others write unquestioned, and runs with it as fact. What is impressive about Simmons is that he asks the tough questions, and when stonewalled, goes around the ends using available data to connect the dots. That is what explorationists do - connect the dots.

This is not typical of journalists - they require "citing of references". Yet those references themselves are rarely, if ever, questioned or examined for veracity in many, many cases. If the author is well known, then his work is instantly accepted by most of his peers, provided it cites the "established" sources; i.e., Yergin.

Part of what makes Simmons click with oil people is that we routinely "connect the dots" from various disparate sources and then make discoveries. If we cannot verify it with method A, we find another method and name it "b". We may develop new technologies simply to verify what we think might exist, because the dots point to it, even if the "established methods" do not. This is one of the reasons that outsiders often think we are all a bunch of wild men and cowboys - we ask and ask and question everything, because millions of dollars are on the line with every well we drill.

Journalists that do this are ridiculed by their peers - they have "strayed outside" the accepted path and stated "unsupported methods" or some such.

Good thing journalists don't look for oil ...


Some more stuff for your reading pleasure

An incisive review of the cover story of this month's Atlantic by editor James Fallows - Countdown to a Meltdown - a look at the implications of reckless Bush-Greenspan economic policies for the next generation.

That was me in the above post - continuing -

Fallows' thesis is that, even more than economic bungling, the Bush-Greenspan ideology of government doing as little as possible (other than pursuing insanely expensive foreign imperialistic wars and trampling on civil liberties) will soon lead to an America that has squandered all four of its competitive advantages:

* A healthy rate of savings, providing resiliency in the face of downturns
* Investment in good public infrastructure (e.g. in health care and transportation)
* Investment in education (and in the key assets -- people and knowledge -- of value in the 21st century)
* Investment in innovation (e.g. in real research)

Dave Pollard's review and analysis is very good.

His blog is at

j--I'm going to go ahead and ask, since I'll never know if I don't at least try.

When do you think the peak of Hubbert's curve is going to be, and perhaps more importantly, when do you think oil depletion will be so bad that taxes/rations/SUV bans will have to be put in place?

(Don't worry, I won't hold you to it, but I know that you must have a fairly small date range floating around in your head...)

peak - 2008-2010
taxes - 2013 (start of pres term)
rations/suv ban - Nov/Dec 2016 (after election)

It's a red herring ... a huge distraction ... a flashing razzle dazzle light show ...this debate about exactly when oil extraction rates will hit peak.

We know it's going to happen soon ... within this century.
It's going to happen before 2100.

Imagine that a devastation level meteor was heading toward planet Earth.

Imagine that astronomers were debating the exact time of impact.

What a huge waste of human energy !!!

We need to be focusing our time on solutions ... not on the F'in morons.
As JC said: Forgive them for they are F'in morons (they know not what they do).

More importantly,
I recall fondly what Mr. Bass, my High School history teacher said:

In this life,
Maintain one goal,
Keep your eye on the donut,
Not on the hole.

History repeats itself.

A few years back, Simmons and a few others were issuing warnings about N. American natural gas. Mr. Yergin was IMHO rudely dismissive of both the analysis and Simmons. Fast forward a year or so and the consensus opinion had changed. Yergin's opinion had changed with it. During an interview he was asked about the change as well as some of the earlier comments regarding Simmons. He trotted out the standard wrong-for-the-right-reasons nonsense and sniffed about Simmons being 'directionally correct'.

(Sorry no links - A casual google search for the interview turned up nothing.)

It stuck with me and is always first in my mind when I read anything by Mr. Yergin.

Now we have Yergin making rosy predictions that don't pass the smell test and people wondering whether Simmons is 'directionally correct'.

I wanted to follow up on something J said that should be repeated often so people don't forget to look and remind themselves how people who, given their high levels of education and fancy neckties, still find themselves in a world of shit. Largely of their own making.

Take for example the rather confident assessment that peak is not until 2020 (at 120MBD consumption). What allows for such optimism. Well, the USGS simply invented about 674 Billion Barrels of future discoveries using a fancy computer simulation, USGS ran a 95% confidence model of how many barrels were likely to be discovered in the world's known basins and a 5% confidence model for same. Now those of us who have to suffer peer review, cannot get anything published that is less than 95%. But, the good ol' US government can do whatever the hell it wants, evidently. It based policy on taking the mean between the 5% model and the 95% model. SO, if we are 95% confident that we will find 1 barrel in a particular basin, but 5% confident that we will find 112 billion, well let's just find the mean value between the 5% and the 95% and take that as the "official" projection.

If you tried this in the modern academy you'd be laughed (or shouted) right out of the room. (Though, evidently, you may get an interview on NPR)....

Now, for the skeptics in the room. It is possible that the models that have less than 95% percent confidence are actually correct. So, why be so conservative. Well, easy enough. Just look at the various models against past discroveries and you can see which best predicts known reality. Well, guess what....the 95% confidence model pretty much nails past patterns. So, one is encouraged to dump the rosy scenario pushed by the USGS (i.e., we are more likely to find 1 barrel of oil in that basin than we are 112 billion).

Now, most folks just read the USGS press release and say. "Why Jiminy Crickets, we are going to find another 670 billion barrels over the next thirty years. The United States Government says so. Why that's enough to keep Arnold driving his Hummers for many decades to come!" But, as always, the devil is in the details. And in this case, the devil is a lie built on bad use of computer modeling that no credible scientist would ever find acceptable.

Check out the July 2002 piece on the assessments page of this link for more...

Oops, forgot the link...

oh. my. g-d.

as someone who teaches research methods and quantitative modeling for a living, I'm, I'm, I'm...actually beside myself and damned near speechless. I can't stop shaking my head...that's egregious!

Tedman, can you put something together on that for me? This is pretty huge and you (and ODAC of course) deserve some credit for it. (I'll be happy to post it whenever you're ready, just email it to me.)

Holeee crap.

Welcome from the Midnight Sun Festival - only in Alaska, as the DJ said, can you wear sunglasses at midnight.

Just a couple of quick notes, first I seem to recall Yergin's first book, which was co-authored, and contained a fairly ciritical assumption that was wrong if you understood what they were writing about. (My memory says it was around page 45 but I need to be back with my library to check it out).

In his latest punditry if I read that right his final answer is the same fall back position that others have taken. The major companies are going to invest large sums of money in new technology and we will all be saved again.

'nuff said

Lots of squabbling about this paper and that paper, who to believe, etc. has been talked about. This comes back to doing your PO homework, which you get every time some pundit, think-tank or talking head trots out "new" facts via MSM.

I have a very healthy dose of skepticism because I have: a) worked for Halliburton, b) been to every continent except Antarctica, c) lived in various 3rd world countries, d) I read foreign periodicals, e) I read spanish, f) worked for BP, f) been shot at, g) been held at gunpoint, h) I am NOT stupid. All of these things have developed in me a very healthy ability to question ANY source which seems contrary to my world view or that sems entirely too "convenient" for one reason or another. I am especially wary of anything issued by our government, as they lie or obfuscate 70% of the time based on what I know. That percentage may be higher since the corruption of the MSM.

This makes me dig to find who wrote it, their background and affiliations, who PAID for it (I always follow the money - it drives each of us), and where/when it is published. When you begin to process technical papers and "news sources" in this fashion, your reality changes. It can make the average person paranoid or at least highly disillusioned. Thus many of them simply quit, as continuing will require them to repudiate many of the truths they have always thought to be self-evident.

I picked on halfin some yesterday simply because I already knew who funds CERA and who writes Yergins checks, and he was accepting their line as at least a possibility simply because of WHO wrote it. Please, everyone learn to FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Even in this free media, people are paid to go out and blog positions or throw doubt on ideas and assumptions that are too close to the bone for their sponsors. Yes sponsors - follow the money, follow the money, follow the money!

ianqui - when?

Picking a time frame is moot - we are there, the idea is in play, and people are actively trying to refute or quash it. If oil jumps too high too fast, the economy stalls and we enter Depression II because of oil. If the housing bubble pops, and the GSA or banks have to be bailed out, we enter Depression II because of defaults. If we piss off China or others and they begin to sell dollars, we enter Depression II because Condi and the neocons acted stupidly. If oil begins to trade for Euros or Dinars, we enter Depression II due to lack of faith in the dollar. If Account 990N stops buying to support the US markets, we enter Depression II because the false economy is revealed. Does that give you some idea of the knife point we are perched upon?

I use Depression rather than recession because entering a major recession with the current trade, budget and personal deficits we are running has simply never happened, but that does not mean I cannot imagine the consequences. The government and the banking system know - that is the sole reason for the new bankruptcy laws - to allow them to recover their assets. Why are our markets unregulated (they don't enforce anything of consequence - i.e., Martha Stewart, who is inniocent anyway)? Because this allows money from ANYWHERE to come into play and keep the machine going. Why are they asking new recruits if they would be willing to fire on their contrymen? Why are we using non-Americans in our armed forces? Why does Homeland Security want to monitor all domestic communications? If you deny the answer the government provides, what are you left with as an answer to these questions?

When we enter Depression II, oil demand drops. This means drilling and exploration slows, and we go into a holding pattern where we are continuing depletion at a lower rate, but not bringing new sources online. We will not be able to respond to any increase in demand later. When you finally see one of the remaining oil majors merge with or buy another, you will know that the end of oil travelling across the world is near(years or a decade - who knows?).

The problem with trying to predict anything is that there are so many ways the dime can drop. This multiplicity of vulnerabilities has never occurred in history - Greenspan, Nixon, many others share in the blame for where we are. But each of us must accept blame for buying what they sold us blindly and quietly, while we all tried to build the American financial dream.

I personally think the housing bubble will pop sometime in the next 12 months. This will throw a lot of people and finance companies into trouble financially, and bankruptcy is no longer an answer. That doesn't mean these people will not simply walk away and live on cash - it has happened before. But is this shock going to be enough to start the dominoes? I don't know, the government will assuredly print more money to bail the big losers out. That means soaring inflation, which is already a problem. This may make the dollar hegemony much less attractive as well. All of this is a swirl of possibilities, which only time will sort out. Like I said earlier - we have to surf the wave and be ready.

I am, mostly, ready.

Read the archives from the last year at - George covers these issues very well, and links to other reliable sites are all over his daily updates.

Yeah, I've been reading urbansurvival. I can already see that I'm screwed, since my job will pretty much be the first to go (as will my housing, then, since my employer owns it). That's when I move back in with mommy and daddy, as I've been saying before. At least they have land.

ianqui -

Then you better get things sorted out so you and your Mom aren't fighting all the time...*grin* You might start by weeding her gardens, accidentally yanking out her crappy flowers. Then you can plead ignorance and plant some nice yams or something...LOL!

j - do you have a reference for "Why are they asking new recruits if they would be willing to fire on their contrymen?"

As far as using non-Americans in the U.S. armed forces, that has been done for literally the entire history of the Republic, and is therefore not, IMHO, worth commenting on.

But I am curious about the first statement.

Roy -

No - My sons best friend was asked this when he signed up last January. My son, knowing me oh so well, thought it would set me off so he showed me the email. It definitely set me off.

I realize that we have used non-Americans historically. What concens me is that there is little questioning about their backgrounds, if any. And many can barely speak English. It isn't uncommon to hear spanish over the radio in Iraq, per my sons friend. Both of these concern me, as the warfare we engage in today is drastically different from any other era.

Roy, I was really put off when I found out about the first item, especially in view of the Patriot Act and all that is transpiring. I wouldn't have said a word if it was some third-hand item. But I know this kid and it was first-hand, in black and white, in my hand.

Ianqui: how did you deduce that your job will be the first to go? just curious...? I feel pretty safe about mine at least for a little while...

PG: Two things--

(1) when the gov't has to cut funding, NSF and NIH grants to extraneous fields (read: not directly related to health care or research that could help an energy crisis or the military) will be the first to go. Now, that might not make the university cut my job, but unless expectations change, it won't get me tenure! (But if all goes well, I should have it before anything like that happens.)

(2) In a depression, do young people go to college? Maybe public universities can still survive (though it seems like states will have to put their money elsewhere), but I'm sure that families won't be able to afford XU's tuition!

It's true that someone's going to need to do research to figure out what the newest technologies are, but unfortunately, that's not my field...

J -

Having been in the military (I just got out a few months ago), I find the bit about whether recruits would be willing to fire on their countrymen more than a little disconcerting. In my experience there has always been a very clear understanding that law enforcement (or any other kind of control) of the U.S. population was NOT a job the military engaged in - that is why we have police, who are trained for that job (or in extreme circumstances, the National Guard - who although military, are controlled by the states, not the federal government, when used in a law enforcement role).

I am not too concerned about the level of questioning about the background of foreign recruits; frankly, the security risk of a new recruit is low, whatever the background. Specialties that do comprise a security risk are generally restricted to U.S. citizens. Hearing Spanish over radios on a regular basis is a concern, though it has more to do with the level of training that our forces are getting, English-speaking or not. If our troops were adequately trained before entering combat, the non-English speakers should have had an adequate amount of time to become functionally fluent in English.

I think it's high time we devoted energy to defending the Constitution from its Domestic enemies. We swore an oath to do so when we signed up; just because we were discharged doesn't mean we're freed from our oath.

Karlof -

I was thinking about that just last night. Somebody needs to dethrone MKG and his henchmen sometime soon ... Problem is, aside from political activism, which right now isn't being particularly effective, I have no ideas how to effectively defend the Constitution from its domestic enemies.

J -

In your list of tipping points several posts ago, you forgot to mention what happens to the world economy if Influenza strain H5N1 (better known as bird flu) develops into a human pandemic. The world economy doesn't operate for very long if everybody shuts their borders for a few months.

Well, there's some not too surprising news when you think about it(Spanish on the radio in Iraq).

Hell, when I was in the military back in the VietNam era, one of my buddies was a Salvadoran national drafted out of pre-med school in Louisiana. I went through basic training in Kentucky with Cuban-Americans from south Florida. Hey, Latin Americans are no different than native North Americans would be if serving in their armed forces. Under stress we'd use what's easiest for us. Many if not most of them speak Spanish when at home -they have to if they want their parents & grand-parents to understand them. Even if their English is near native, they quite naturally are more comfortable in their first language.

To me what would be really interesting would be to hear some tapes of that radio traffic. What they are saying - assuming that most listeners won't understand it- would be the real story here.

Just skimming .. but the bit about "fire on their countrymen" reminded me of something. They ran war games or modeling a little while ago to test national response to epidemics/pandemics ("epidemic games"?). If I'm remembering correctly, the whole country slid over in every test, because troops would not shoot to enforce quarantined cities. May not be related, but there it is.

Roy -

You think I really needed to throw more gas on our pile of driftwood? *wink*

But I agree - if bird flu takes off with a long enough incubation period, it could be disastrous for the world. And that "if" might oughta be a "when"...

I am also concerned by the predictions of major movements of the Pacific tectonic plate, projected since the Indonesian tsunami. Earthquake and volcanic activity is up appreciably compared to recent history. Krakatoa, a relatively average eruption, caused the "Year Without a Summer". What would that do to us today?

Having never been in the military (missed Vietnam draft by 6 months and too old for anything else), I cannot speak like you guys do. I do have a brotherinlaw from GWI who has GWSyndrome. And the commonality of his thyroid problems with those seen in Russia from Chernobyl is amazing. That's why I am so against DU rounds - they are the only thing my brotherinlaw has in common with the Chernobyl crowd. I am a drilling engineer - I connect dots for a living. This isn't a stretch - the other so-called "causes" are a stretch. And looking at military history with rerspect to fielding untested weapons, drugs etc. lends credence to my POV, as does Agent Orange.

I defer to you and Extra with respect to non-American recruits. If you guys were ok with it in the field, then I would say it is your call. But I also would love to hear those radio excerpts, since I DO speak spanish...


So do I. That's why I'd like to hear 'em.

odo -

Dude, I'd like to read that about the pandemic games. Gotta link?

"...there has always been a very clear understanding that law enforcement (or any other kind of control) of the U.S. population was NOT a job the military engaged in..."

The Posse Comitatus act of 1878, updated as recently as 2002, was enacted to sanction,

"Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly
authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any
part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to
execute the laws [and] be fined under this title or imprisoned not more
than two years, or both."

So, do the actions at Ruby Ridge and Waco violate this law? Do the exercises conducted by Special Forces practicing civilian population control after a WMD attack violate this law? According to a Federal mandated and funded advisory council on homeland security, no. For more on the "myth" of the Posse Comitatus act, read the following:

When was the oath written that everyone takes when joining the armed forces? You know, "against all enemies, both foreign and domestic..."

Ruby Ridge and Waco were actions conducted by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. These are not military organizations, at least under the definition of the Posse Comitatus act.

As far as I know, the basic text (if not the exact words) of the oath are as old as the Republic. Incidentally, the oath taken by military members and that taken by the President, congresscritters, and all other federal officials are very similar in wording and content.

"Military support to law enforcement agencies seemingly will present more problems for senior leaders than those encountered in disaster relief. At first blush, this entire area appears to be outside the scope of military operations. As previously mentioned, the Posse Comitatus Act provides a broad proscription against soldiers enforcing the law. However, subsequent congressional acts granting exceptions to the original prohibition of Posse Comitatus have significantly altered the manner in which the armed forces may assist law enforcement.[16] Congress began to carve out these exceptions in response to the perceived increase in importation and use of destructive illegal drugs. Under more recent legislation, the Army can provide equipment, training, and expert military advice to civilian law enforcement agencies as part of the total effort in the "war on drugs."[17] In addition, troops of the active Army are authorized to provide a wide range of support along the borders with the caveat that a "nexus" be established between illegal drugs and the support given. The principle example of the contentious nature of such support can be found in a review and analysis of the support provided to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) by the Army under the operational control of Joint Task Force 6 (JTF 6), during the siege and assault of David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound outside of Waco, Texas.[18]"

Maybe it is dis-information, but there is documentation of Army involvement...

Mea Culpa -
I didn't know the Army was involved at all...

My sense is that the military will probably stay involved with domestic affairs at about this level - for any large scale operations, the feeling among the general rank and file of the military is that the purpose of the U.S. military is not to control the U.S. civilian population, and there will be a very high level of resistance to the idea of doing so.