Drumbeat: August 6, 2011

Growing energy demand key challenge for Asean

Chief executive of the China-based think-tank Civic Exchange, Christine Loh, noted that energy policy is dominated by a supply-led mind set whereby the default response to energy shortages is building more power plants. This has led to a range of exploitative industries to fix energy problems, and to the neglect of a “demand-led mindset” which requires reducing the amount of energy needed, she said.

The region “must improve energy literacy,” said Ms Loh, adding that Asean ministers should listen to what scientists are saying about limited resources. She noted that with peak oil widely accepted as imminent, experts are now beginning to talk about the eventuality of peak coal and peak natural gas supply.

Crude Oil Curbs Biggest Weekly Drop Since May on U.S. Jobs, Italy Outlook

Oil rose for the first time in six days in New York and curbed the biggest weekly drop in three months as the U.S. added more jobs than forecast in July and the Italian government said it will speed up austerity measures.

Gas prices expected to fall in coming weeks

NEW YORK – This week's scary stock market plunge has a silver lining: Gasoline is about to get cheaper.

That's because the same fears that forced a sell-off on Wall Street also brought down the price of oil.

Can U.S. shake reliance on foreign oil?

KANSAS CITY, Mo.— The United States was so dependent on foreign oil that by 2008 it imported two-thirds of what the country’s refineries needed to produce enough gasoline, diesel and the other petroleum products to meet the country's needs.

But recently the federal Energy Information Administration reported that in 2010 imports had fallen far more than many realized — to 49 percent of the country’s needs.

What happened?

Iran's new oil minister seeks $40 bln to develop shared fields

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will need some $40 billion this year to spur the development of oil and gas fields it shares with neighbouring countries, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said in his first interview since being appointed to the post, published on Saturday.

Syrians Protest in Cities as U.S. Advises Its Citizens to Leave Country

Syrians rallied in cities across the country demonstrating against the rule of President Bashar al- Assad as the U.S. advised its citizens to leave the country because of the unrest.

Tens of thousands of people marched yesterday in Aleppo, Homs, Qamishli, Deir Al Zour and the northern province of Idlib, said Mahmoud Merhi, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, and Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights.

Somali Government Says Al-Shabaab Withdraws From Mogadishu After Fighting

Somali insurgents linked to al-Qaeda withdrew from the capital, Mogadishu, where about 100,000 people have arrived in the past two months seeking food, water and shelter amid a famine in parts of the war-torn country.

Tapping the Marcellus Shale

We may be relying heavily on an ever-increasing amount of Canadian crude to meet our oil fix, but Canada's natural gas troubles will only worsen as production from the oil sands grows to more than five million barrels per day in the coming decade. (Natural gas plays a vital role in the extraction process of deeply-buried bitumen.)

Remember, more than three-quarters of Alberta's oil production comes from oil sands operations.

As if that weren't enough, Canada isn't the only country crossing her fingers for more U.S. natural gas. South of the border, Mexico is also relying more on our supply.

City cycle schemes save lives, cut CO2: study

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Public bicycle sharing schemes such as Barcelona's "Bicing" program or London's "Boris Bikes" save lives and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study on Friday.

Bike schemes are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world, with more than 360 already running, but their main aim is usually to ease congestion rather than boost health.

Reddy Kilowatt Works Up a Sweat

As record levels of power demand were set in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and part of Texas, grids were not equipped to help one another much.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fires Three Nuclear Energy Officials

TOKYO — Prime Minister Naoto Kan removed three top officials in charge of Japanese nuclear energy policy on Thursday, taking aim at the cozy ties between regulators and the power industry that were exposed after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

Charrette system may be just what city needs for planning

Vancouver's Vision council has called the bluff of neighbourhood activists who have been leading a series of recent battles against development proposals by arguing that neighbourhoods can't accept new density and accommodate change without proper plans in place. Those plans will soon arrive.

Do We Need a Militant Movement to Save the Planet (and Ourselves)?

In a couple of decades we may be looking at the end of life as we know it on this planet. "What is your personal carrying capacity for grief, rage, despair?" asks Keith in the first chapter. It's not just global warming but a confluence of catastrophes that cannot be blamed on Republicans or climate deniers or rich people with their personal jets, but on all of us, together. The culprit is industrial civilization, say the writers. "This culture destroys landbases. That's what it does," writes Jensen. "And it won't stop because we ask it nicely."

GrowthBusters: A Groundbreaking Documentary for 2011

Do concerns about water shortages, peak oil, species extinction, and deforestation keep you up at night? Do you experience dread thinking about overpopulation and unchecked consumption? Have you or your family ever wondered if there is a better gauge of happiness and success than the accumulation of more stuff and a rising GDP? If the answer is yes than don't wait another minute, contact the professionals: GrowthBusters!

Farms of the future:Producing bio-oil, biochar from farmers’ crops

Rural landscapes of the future might have pyrolysis plants instead of grain elevators on every horizon.

Pyrolysis plants are processing centers where farmers would bring bulky crops such as switchgrass to be made into crude oil.

Human Influence On the 21st Century Climate: One Possible Future for the Atmosphere

ScienceDaily — New computer modeling work shows that by 2100, if society wants to limit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to less than 40 percent higher than it is today, the lowest cost option is to use every available means of reducing emissions. This includes more nuclear and renewable energy, choosing electricity over fossil fuels, reducing emissions through technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide, and even using forests to store carbon.

So what happens on Monday then? Is it time to run for the hills? Or will the market just try and ignore the credit downgrade?

Maybe it's time for a distraction?

'NATO planning military attack on Iran'

Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin says the NATO is planning a military strike against the Islamic Republic to overthrow the Iranian government.

Rogozin said in an interview with Russia's Izvestia daily newspaper published on Friday that the NATO was pursuing a long-reaching goal of preparing an attack on Iran, adding that the alliance intends to change governments whose views do not coincide with those of the West.

"The noose around Iran is tightening. Military planning against Iran is underway. And we are certainly concerned about an escalation of a large-scale war in this huge region," Rogozin added.

...Last month, former CIA agent Robert Baer said he is almost certain that such an attack has been scheduled for September ahead of a UN vote on recognizing a Palestinian state.

So, what happens in October when, as in every other iteration of this story for the past 17 years, no such attack materialises?

Well, we wait for another Friedman unit to pass, and confirm that the default unit of contemporary historical amnesia is six months.

Isn't that what Syria and NATO are for?

what happened at Syria??

Peluang Bisnis Online Tanpa Ribet

NATO is threatening to attack Syria for humanitarian reasons.

NATO cannot handle Libya, let alone another war action at the same time.

As temping as it may be to intervene for humanitarian reasons, where does that slippery slope end?

That way leads to the Dark Side.

Dmitry Rogozin is far from being a diplomat. He's meant to cause trouble.

Nobody knows, since it's never happened before.

But the MSM here in the US seems to view this as a political embarrassment, not something that will affect Main St.

If all three major ratings agencies downgraded the US, that would be ugly, because retirement funds and such that are required to hold only AAA investments would have to divest. But the other two agencies say they are keeping the US at AAA.

China isn't happy I see

China blasts US, urges new global reserve currency

Shanghai: China on Saturday condemned the "short-sighted" political wrangling in the United States over its debt problems and said the world needed a new global stable reserve currency.

"China, the largest creditor of the world's sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China's dollar assets," China's official news agency said in a commentary.

"International supervision over the issue of US dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country," it said.

"China, the largest creditor of the world's sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China's dollar assets," China's official news agency said in a commentary.

The pot calling the kettle black are they?

Up and down the City Road
Drivin the station wagon
That's the way the money goes
Pop! goes the Dragon!

Exporting cheap little trinkets,
N'Chinese beer in a flagon!
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the Dragon!

Chinese bankers are full of it
They really should quit the raggin!
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the Dragon!

As someone who downgraded their own credit rating some time ago, closing accounts, moving to eliminate credit from our lives as much as possible (almost entirely at this point), this all seems a bit sureal. The process of economies being weaned from debt will be as painful as being weaned from their oil addiction, all part of the same process.

Get the to the discretionary side......

The process of economies being weaned from debt will be as painful as being weaned from their oil addiction, all part of the same process

Very true, they still haven't realized that pouring more petrol into the fire will not douse it. Governments everywhere are pouring in more unfunded debt behind this fiasco in the hope that they can kick start the growth motor. I can't imagine how much the economy will tank once people realize that the age of debt is over and everything will have to be purchased from surplus savings, real estate will crash first I guess as it's almost 100% debt funded, companies next as soon as their cash reserves run out and they are forced to borrow for paying salaries.

People are already asking for more money


The U.S. Postal Service, which predicts an annual loss of as much as $9 billion, said it may ask Congress to raise its $15 billion debt limit unless lawmakers allow changes like stopping Saturday deliveries or closing more post offices.

The post office should close half its offices and go to MWF delivery.

I would ask the same question of the Post Office that I have asked about U.S. airlines for that past decade: Why don't they just raise their prices to cover their costs?

That being said, I don't have a problem with your prescription...maybe the law preventing private firms from delivering first class mail (letters) should be repealed?

The Post Office can't raise rates above the CPI without approval of the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Since the USPS has costs related to energy prices, and since they have other high fixed costs and declining volumes, that means that they are screwed unless the PRC gives them price increases or lets them modify services and locations.

Does anyone know if the post office has unfunded pension liabilities?

My memory has it at one time the pension of the postal workers was almost identical as the ones members of Congress got.

With defined benefit plans - almost all have "unfunded liabilites".

Then the post office is like US car company not profitable due to excessive pension costs. The only way to fix this is bankruptcy. This of course does not fix the problem of the retirees that will get no pension. Buyer beware.

Not sure about pensions, but they are the only US Gov't. agency that has to pre-pay future health care obligations, to the tune of $5.5 billion this year I think. The gov't. likes to keep getting this money because through wonderful acctg tricks they actually "count" this as income which then goes "against" the deficit.

I didn't research the topic enough, there is a second side to the story as well lest someone gets the wrong idea.


The payment is for projected health care costs for future retirees. In 2006, Congress ordered the USPS to pre-fund projected health care benefits for future retirees for 10 years, at a cost of about $5 billion a year. No other business faces such a mandate.

Yeah, people are viewing the endgame more clearly now!
Look at Marc Faber's prediction (CNBC, two days ago) of a "global reboot" of the economy and a war.
He said "sometimes your computer crashes and you have to restart it--that is what is going to happen to the global economy"

He is saying it will happen after hyperinflation of the dollar. He did not give details on what sort of economy we can expect after the inevitable happens, but obviously it is going to be one based more and more on what the sun can provide. Let us be greatful for that---no more ugly cement being poured over green fields. And (this has been my long-time dream) I think that cars will become less and less important, then less ubiquitous, then vanish....the whole car-based economy will seem like a dream that we dreamed.

OK, so personally I am not ready at all for the "global reboot"!! I am still picking up the pieces from the Fukushima distaster...but nevermind, Marc Faber is right. I hope the war is a small one, however.

I read the Faber interview here:


His prediction of 'war' is so vague as to be meaningless. War where, between whom, contesting what (for what objectives)? There are already several 'wars' in progress...

Is your interpretation of his remarks that he predicts some kind of war in Europe?

I did not see his allusion to a solar/wind-generated energy-based economy post-crash/war.

I found this entire interview to be vague and not very revealing.

Looking for prediction of 'exactly' who will war against whom is kinda like asking where will I land after this plane crashes? I'm sure it will be somewhere on earth.

Faber now resides in Chiangmai, Thailand, though he keeps a small office in Hong Kong.

Wonder how he likes the new Thai government?

It's an improvement over the old one.

Out with the aristocrat military cabal.

The new government is clearly a victory for Thai democracy and a step in the right direction, although Thailand has a long way to go.

Thailand has had two deeply flawed political factions fighting for years, with a system that is rigged stopping any progress. The recent elections at least help break up that system.

Neither side is all good ar all bad, but getting the debate out from behind closed doors and into the public sphere is entirely positive.

What? You think allowing the corrupt exiled billionaire ex-prime minister who tried to ignite civil war and has now regained control of the ropes through his elected sister is democracy? Pull the other one, its got bells on it.

You are just parroting junta propaganda.

I am not a fan of Thaksin, but the charges he was convicted of are clearly a fraud. And corruption in Thailand is broadly distributed.

It was the military that threw out elected governments and deprived Thai citizens of their rights - in addition to shooting almost 100 of them when the protested.

The charge against Thaksin, that he co-signed the purchase of a house from an independant fund under the Bank of Thailand is hardly worthy of exile. But I will admit it is far worse than the one the junta used to pull down another elected prime minister - appearing on a cooking show.

And you are now parroting propaganda.

The military had no choice but to act and oust the illegal Thaksin regime. He had taken over the courts and there was no other way to try him for his crimes. The military has a duty to defend a country against all enemies of the state, whether foreign or domestic.

As for the 92 people who were killed, his armed red shirt insurgents were at least as responsible if not more responsible for the deaths than the legitimately elected government at the time who was charged with dispersing the illegal takeover of the capital.

There are dozens of charges waiting to be levelled at Thaksin should he try to return home, but there is little hope of honest trials on any of these crimes now that he has regained control of the government.

Unfortunately Thaialnd does not have an independent judiciary. The military has traditionally been the closest thing available in Thailand to act as a check against unlimited government corruption and illegal activities.

The government installed after the coup had the best interests of the people at heart and tried to do the right thing. Sadly, while they were good people they were inexperienced at governing and failed in their task to set things right.

Your opinion is one that a lot of people hold and that you are entitled to. I disagree about the benign military and would note that it is broadly accepted that the military and the elite control the courts. Virtually every political decision has been in their favor.

However, my points can not possibly be called propaganda. They are documentable facts. Do you deny that the only charge against Thaksin is for the purchase of a house under a law that was passed retroactively after the military coup and enforced by a court appointed by the junta? You cannot.

The junta has has five years to lay additional charges, but hasn't. Maybe the do have them in their back pocket to pull out later.

I agree that Thaksin is corrupt, authoritarian and dangerous. But so is the military and other members of the elite. If the laws were applied equally, a lot of your "good people" would be in prison too.

"I hope it is a small one"

We have several small wars going already. The failed leadership of the US will need a big war to hide behind. There are only two candidates for big war Russia and China. Let's hope it is enough to have a proxy war with US on one side and one of the big boy axis of evil backing the other side. As to having no reason for a war with anyone "remember the Maine".

The US spends more on its military than nearly all other nations combined.

Yes, we are now tied down in three little wars. But I am sure, if a major new war crops up, we will redirect all that power in whatever direction seems most necessary.

As we have seen, it is easy for the US to get bogged down in seemingly endless morasses like Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq...but against a major power, I think we can still prove an indomitable adversary. Military, mindless entertainment, and cheap junk food are still three things that we are world leaders in.

Marc Faber, Peter Schiff, Gerald Celente, Jim Rogers, Ron Paul how many of these guys have to be right over and over again until the main stream media and others wake up?

The list of people are telling a story of 'pain' for certain groups and that is not a story to be told often. If you do, a number of the people at the bottom will say 'bollox to this' and do what was done in London - riot.

The MSM serves the propaganda needs of their owners. They have no interest in the truth.

In other words, time to reload the Matrix.

You DO mean NON-discretionary, no? Or are you just being more discreet with your snarks?

Gosh, Bob, it all depends on how you look at it.

I consider being a credit slave as being in a non-discretionary situation, as in your choices are constrained by your ability to pay the interest on your debt. Further, purchases made on credit or electronically are inherently indescreet, making what you do or buy someone else's business, mostly folks you'll never know about. They now own a piece of you.

That business has made it their business to mind my business is something I choose to reject whenever possible, even those stupid "discount, advantage" cards that stores insist you use. I use cash at a small local grocer that doesn't use discount cards, not because I'm paranoid, but because I don't want to feed the monster.



Marked by, exercising, or showing prudence and wise self-restraint in speech and behavior; circumspect.
Free from ostentation or pretension; modest.

I would add: Avoiding a sense of entitlement.

I could be mixing up the assumptions around Discretionary and Non-discretionary.. as much as I did mix up the notions of /sarc v. /snark on my prior post..

I am just harkening back to WestTexas' aviso to 'Get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy.' (and my most appropriate typo in there was 'Non-distresionary', which is a spoonerism I hope I have the presence of mind to use again in the future!) But the basis being that we'd better base our spending and earning relationships on essentials ('non-discretionaries) that will hopefully still exist at that time when all the SkyMalls and Victoria Secret Catalogs are being repurposed and regifted for use as a heat-source, footwear, or fibre-supplement.

I surely do see your comments as being reliably prudent and wise in their restraint, make no mistake.


Our downstairs Tenant is an investment advisor.. who told me that yesterday was pretty 'special', and is working to hold things steady until the situation clears up.. I didn't take the opportunity to offer her my own take on where we're headed, but I do spend no small amount of brainpower considering how to communicate with my renters just where they might focus their attentions, in order to be prepared for 'tomorrow'.

Saw another neighbor this morning who works at Borders.. for a couple more weeks, as they liquidate their inventory. He's very anxious about his prospects for other work, as is the outgoing tenant in another unit who has just finished an intense Nursing program, only to find that this staple public skill has a dreadful dearth of openings right now.

Most commentators seem to think it will cause a rise in interest rates, which will slow the economy. Many are of the opinion that the market has already factored in this news. Although that's no guarantee there won't be another drop on Monday.

This CNN interview, with John Chambers at S&P, talks about the reasons and some likely effects.


Or will the market just try and ignore the credit downgrade?

The Repubs are all twisted out of shape over Obama being prez because he's a Dem and because of his race and how that affects many in their base. They have pull and I'm certain calls were made, favors provided, perks incentivised, etc. to get the head of S&P to push forward the downgrade, especially when S&P even admit the numbers they used to make the calc were off by trillions. So, was it politically motivated? Absolutely, and because many will see it as political, the markets will probably have a muted response. If the other two rating agencies piled on, well that would definitely send stocks lower, much lower.

As averse as I am to conspiracy theories, I can't help feeling there was a political element to this - especially when the S&P talks about reducing entitlements but not reducing military spending. Grudgingly, though, they talk about "tax reform".

Who would give any credibility to agencies that gave AAA ratings to subprime mortgage loans anyway ?

Fox News is running with (flashing red) "ALERT ALERT ALERT" and "Possible Manic Monday"

Fox News I am sure is on their collective knees begging God to help destroy the US economy via the politically motivated downgrade, in hopes of getting a Repub Prez elected to eliminate the seperation of church and state, and to set policies that further the cause of championing the super wealthy.

One of the Republican candidates was just on Fox by phone. Fox anchor said "He asked us if we could put a photograph of him on-screen over a picture of The White House where the Oval Office is." And so they did!

Perry/Bachmann 2012!

I'd be more likely to vote for Perry the Platypus.

'We at FOX endorse good solid public policy! (When we aren't trashing the very idea of 'good public policy'..) So what if we lose a few thousand jobs with every bill.. our plan is to make up for it with VOLUME! You could help us by turning up your TV's a little louder, ok?'

In a somewhat related note the same channel is doing a new cosmos series.

I agree and yes, reducing entitlements but not defense sounds all too familiar as a Repub position.

I watched the video link from that other post, and the head of S&P never answered the question directly regarding whether their calcs were off - the answer was very politically worded. Also, he says one of the two major reasons for the downgrade was the political infighting in DC, but says both party's were to blame. However, it was the Repubs that pushed the situation that far, not the dems, so how can both be blamed equally? He also sounded very nervous. People lying often get nervous when called on the carpet.

Chief economist of Moody's was interviewed on Fox - I got the impression it's only a matter of time before they cut the rating. Both he and an ex VP of Goldman Sachs however said that "everyone"/"the market" knew S&P were going to downgrade on Friday anyway. Well maybe everyone in their circles.

Earl - I haven't seen the direct statement from the rating agency but all the MSM reports I've heard say they pointed the big finger at the R's and to expect the D's and the prez to likely use it to hammer the R's. As far as defense cuts go I know the most vocal opposition so far is coming from the Dem (just appointed by our Dem president) who is now in charge of our nation's defense. Perhaps you're suggesting Leon and the president are closet R's? I actually suspected as much when a few months ago our "green" president gave the Clean Air permit for the building of a coal-fired plant in Texas.

The S&P reasoning seems sound. They recognise that the Bush era tax cuts need to disappear, as they are due to. That then fixes the major hole in the budget.

Until recently they expect that to happen on time, but the idiocy shown by certain publicity hounds has meant they now expect some deal to be done so those tax cuts stay. That then creates the downgrade, because the numbers can't add up.

Sensibly Obama would take the opportunity on Sunday to publicly state he will veto any bill that attempts to revive those unfunded tax cuts. The result would be howls from the far right, and a financial market bounceback.

You did not read the reason why they did it. It was Both spending and not raising taxes.

remember Bush 1 "read my lips no new taxes"? There the Democrats promised to make cuts if he would give them a tax increase. Of course they spent like normal. so this time no one believed they would make any cuts and sure enough they did not. that is why they cut the rating no one is serous about getting the dept as percentage of GDP down.

You can not write a trillion dollar check to stimulate the economy and then do policies that put a drag on the economy, namely health care, then wonder why the stimulus did not work. Oil at $80.00-$100.00 a barrel does not help. In my opinion the economy can not recover until we get a better energy policies.

Just saying wind a solar will replace oil is not a policy that is based on reality. neither is writing a check for a trillion dollars with borrowed money and expect it not to also take money out of private borrowers(also a drag on the economy).

Just saying wind a solar will replace oil is not a policy that is based on reality.

But they will. And they are. Because oil is a one time use product whereas wind and solar are not.

The bad policy decision was the way cheap price of oil.

I did read the reason they downgraded. Carefully.

Spending cuts weren't the issue (and indeed both D and R have been talking about big cuts, though in different areas). Nope, it was the change in the expectation associated with those unfunded bush tax cuts that swung the balance to AA+ and could swing a further downgrade.

They are what swings the budget to make sense, and they are what needs to be guaranteed to get the rating reversed.

Just to set the record straight, the spending binge started with Reagan's first budget in 1982. Here's a graph I put together, which I think shows the problem. We also see the jump in spending as the result of the Great Recession. Recall that FY 2009 was Bush the Younger's last budget..

E. Swanson

Now that is a "hockey stick" graph if ever I saw one!

Truly a runaway case of the "greenback effect"

Firstly, I have not a single doubt that the S&P downgrade was politically motivated. But that doesn't mean that the downgrade was not justified.

I think any sane individual would recognize that putting the US on a solid fiscal position required three things - (a) discretionary spending cuts (b) entitlement reform and (c) increased revenues. What the debate over the debt ceiling has done by focusing only discretionary spending cuts has made it all but impossible to achieve entitlement reform or increased revenues. The election in a solidly Republican district like the 24th in NY showed is that screwing around with Medicaire is a death knell even in a Republican district. I can't see how any Republican could possibly vote for Medicaire or SS cuts AND tax increases. For that matter I don't see any reason for a Democrat to vote for tax increases and cuts to Medicaire either.

At the end of the day the debt ceiling was sound and fury signifying nothing. The government will spend 48 trillion in the next 10 years and even if all the cuts materialize that is about a 5% cut in government spending. Worth noting that the cuts on this Congresses watch will be about $7billion. 5% might just be outside the margin of error - $7billion is not.

I believe in the future Obama will be remembered for not allowing the Government to default in 2011 - a default that would have been temporary and would possibly have resulted in changes to the financial trajectory while it still mattered. I think this deal has all but guaranteed that the United States will default in the next 30 years- a default that won't be temporary or technical but totally fundamental.

Here is S&P's document detailing why they reduced US credit rating: "United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To 'AA+' On Political Risks And Rising Debt Burden; Outlook Negative"
Would appreciate any comments you might have on commercial expectations of oil prices. See my earlier post.

One of the remarkable things brought out in the S&P document is the degree to which American and Canadian fiscal policies have been diverging in recent years:

When comparing the U.S. to sovereigns with 'AAA' long-term ratings that we view as relevant peers--Canada, France, Germany, and the U.K.--we also observe, based on our base case scenarios for each, that the trajectory of the U.S.'s net public debt is diverging from the others. Including the U.S., we estimate that these five sovereigns will have net general government debt to GDP ratios this year ranging from 34% (Canada) to 80% (the U.K.), with the U.S. debt burden at 74%. By 2015, we project that their net public debt to GDP ratios will range between 30% (lowest, Canada) and 83% (highest, France), with the U.S. debt burden at 79%.

Historically, the US has run a more conservative economic policy than Canada, but now the US debt-to-GDP ratio is more than twice as high as Canada's, and the ratios are rapidly changing in different directions. Canada's is going down and the US's is going up.

Canada should remain in good shape for decades....


They aren't saying it, but I think the downgrade was deserved. The argumentation for triple A, was that the US government would always stand behind its obligations. The assumption is that a popular rebellion, which simply said "heck no we won't pay" was unthinkable. Now we've seen that a tantrum by the electorate that would renounce past debt obligations is possible.

People confuse dept obligation with spending obligations. loans have to be paid by constitutional amendment. That's not the reason they down rated it .its the amount of dept compared to our GDP. Its about jobs.

There were multiple reasons for downgrade. Which reason is heaviest and how heavy is it will certainly be debated.

S&P Report also mentions payment default reason. It solely was reason for placing ratings on CreditWatch on 7/14. The CreditWatch ratings were removed on 8/2 upon lifting of statutory debt ceiling.

Report mentions how political brinksmanship has turned debt ceiling and threat of default into a political bargaining chip in debate over fiscal policy.

I appreciate the reference to the 14th amendment, however, Obama publicly stated 14th amendment would not be used to increase debt ceiling. Whether or not it would be used is a speculative exercise. Also, it should be noted, some Tea Party representatives stated impeachment charges would be brought forth in House if statutory debt ceiling was raised via 14th amendment.

One thought I've had is the precedent of using the statutory debt ceiling as a bargaining chip. Understandably, it was used this year over fiscal policy. Now that the genie has been let out of the bottle, will it be used in the future for other reasons?

The 14th amendment does not allow an increase in dept, in my opinion, it requires the president to pay what we have already borrowed. Note the words authorized by law.
I do not know why people get confused on this. Spending is not an obligation covered under the 14th amendment.
Note pensions and civil war expenses is the only other thing mentioned. Too extend this to the mass of present day government expenditures would be impeachable.

Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

I am not sure how you could possibly reach that conclusion about spending if you read the 14th amendment, and all the cases associated with that amendment that have reached the Supreme Court.

These are prior posts I made on the subject:

The 14th amendment makes Congress responsible for paying all existing debts and obligations. The intent of the act was clearly that all debts and contractual obligations incurred by the US must be paid.

There has been more than one Supreme Court ruling on the 14th amendment and they all clearly indicate that indicate Congress can not change the intent of this amendment or nor in any way neglect existing US contractual obligations.

Since the debt ceiling law has never been tested in Court, its constitutionally in view of the 14th amendment is at best unclear. In a court decision involving President Nixon, it was concluded that the President must spend the funds already budgeted by Congress. So in this case the President has no choice but to spend budgeted amounts.

6. When the United States, with constitutional authority, makes contracts, it has rights and incurs responsibilities similar to those of individuals who are parties to such instruments. P. 294 U. S. 352.

"The United States are as much bound by their contracts as are individuals".


The 14th Ammendment specifically uses the term "public debt". This is Treasury bonds, notes and bills. It is not all obligations.

I beg to disagree.

The electric bill for a US Army base is also a "public debt" as are pensions (also specifically mentioned). Any legally enforceable obligation is a debt.



Public debt is money that has been borrowed by the Federal government.

Money owed on contracts, payrolls, pensions, health care payments, etc. are not public debt.

Was that the operative definition in the late 1860s when the 14th Amendment was drafted ?

14th Amendment Section 4

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

The appearance is that the qualifier is "authorized by law". I would submit that electric bills for Army bases were authorized by appropriations bills.

"Public debt" clearly includes more than just T-Bills and T-Notes per the wording of the Amendment.


Note that the first sentence guaranteeing payment of "public debt" of the US Federal Government is drawn narrowly. The second sentence uses more expansive language to disavow "all such debts, obligations and claims" incurred in the aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States.

If the framers of the ammendment had intended to guarantee "debts, obligations and claims" on the United States government, they certainly could have used those words. But they did not.

Furthermore, it is a constitutional responsibility imposed on Congress, and the President does not have the power to make payments without congressional action.

The Supreme Court may define differently. In Perry v. US (1935),
P. 294 U. S. 354. the following is stated:

Nor can we perceive any reason for not considering the expression "the validity of the public debt" embraces whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations.

I could be wrong, but most of what I've read says public debt includes contractual obligations because of this Supreme Court ruling.

I don't believe that the colloquial use of the term "public debt" is the same as the term pubic debt in the 14th amendment. Currently, public debt is used to distinguish it from debt that the government owes somebody other than another government body and debt that is held in trust funds e.g. social security. The debt ceiling applies to both categories. If a electricity bill were not part of the "public debt" and not subject to the debt ceiling the Government could issue all the IOU it wanted without ever having to issue another government bond, note or bill.

Or issue US Notes

As of June 2011, the U.S. Treasury calculates that $230 million in United States notes are in circulation, and excludes this amount from the statutory debt limit of the United States.



I was hoping Geithner's plan for paying August bills with no debt ceiling increase would have leaked out. I guess they held that plan very close to the vest.

Yes, there was talk that the US Mint could issue two $1 trillion face value platinum coins, hand them to the Federal Reserve, and tell the Federal Reserve to credit them to the Treasury's account.

"As of June 2011, the U.S. Treasury calculates that $230 million in United States notes are in circulation, "

l believe this is a "typo". That figure is less then $1 per person in the United States! Maybe $230 billion is closer!

Have you seen a red seal note in circulation ? As a child I saw a couple of red seal $2 bills and one $5 red seal note.

That $230 million is in collections or destroyed.


OOPS!! Federal Reserve dollars are not US treasury notes!


The amount of debt to GDP is well within OECD levels, it would be easily manageable if only we showed some willingness to raise revenues. We don't. All we hear are calls for drastic cuts, but few calls for any new revenue. A mixed economy requires some level of government revenue and spending, we've become allergic to providing revenue.

"The amount of debt to GDP is well within OECD levels, it would be easily manageable if only we showed some willingness to raise revenues. We don't."

And the Romers, who are liberals, wrote a paper that $1 in taxes reduces GDP by $3.


page 41;
"Our baseline specification suggests that an exogenous tax increase of one percent of GDP lowers real GDP by roughly three percent. Our many robustness checks for the most part point to a slightly smaller decline, but one that is still well over two percent."

Even Krugman, who wants to punish the rich for insufficient squandering, doesn't want to increase taxes today.

Your statement of the gist of the problem is correct though; we want more goodies from the government than we are willing to pay for.

The non-religious right wing says the same thing;


"We must fix the health care system, not "Medicare" or "Medicaid." I have written on this extensively and it features prominently in Leverage (the book) as well. This means an immediate end to the cost-shifting by providers, drug and device makers. It means an honest debate as to what, if anything, society owes people in this regard and that subsidy must be transparent and paid for with current tax revenues. If it cannot be, it cannot be provided. Period.

We must have that same honest debate about all other government programs. For each program the people want, they must be able to fund it with current tax revenues, and nobody can be exempt from paying something toward it. "

The argument is about the scope and role of government. The left wants a European-style high-tax welfare state, even as most of them are going broke. (And Germany is avoiding that only by exporting like maniacs, but that won't work for the whole planet. Someone has to be a net importer, at least until they go broke.) The right wants a low-tax Darwinian survival state, and would even insist that the poor buy their own Black Capsules when the time comes.

We see the same thing in microcosm on this blog. We have a group of "bring on the Die-off" types, a group of "eco-serfdom for all but me" which I tend to lump together, and the other group of "If only the government would ban SUVs, incandescent lights, driving over 45 MPH, etc, and mandate PV on every roof, walkable communities, and ( well, read the blog) there would be enough everything for everyone, at least for socially acceptable levels of enough as defined by me."

Or, do you think you can run your life better than the government, or do you want the government to run most of it for you (keeping you safe) so you can spend more time having fun (at least those types of fun that the State says are acceptable.) Add in that more government safety always costs more, and that the cost to benefit ratio always has a diminishing returns point, and it gets complicated and vociferous rather quickly.

"eco-serfdom for all but me"

I do not think that is what they have in mind. In my impression this group thinks we will all putter in our garden, share a single house with three others that we will get along without friction, walk to our club meetings. I on the other hand have stories from my father of his parents planting corn by hand in the rain wearing burlap sacks over their heads to keep some of the water off.

A multiplier of three sounds a bit high. Of course a lot depends upon who is paying the tax. Take money from a poor person who would have spend it shortly will have a higher short-term multiplier than taking it from a bilionaire who will save it (and possibly spend it on imported luxuries). And the money that was taken in taxes will be spent by the gov, if not immediately at some time in the future. You could create artificial demand by taxing people, and spending the tax take of goods and services. Since we are supposedly in recession because of a lack of demand, that would be one way of spiking demand.

I think our big problem, is not the size of government budgets, but the composition. Go back to say the 50's and fed gov as a percentage of GDP was similar to todays, but much of it was spent on public investment goods (infrastructue, education via the GI bill, R&D, etc.). Now more and more goes to transfer payments (entitlements). The public investment part has been under nearly continuous pressure for decades, as people want to cut spending, but nearly everything else is off the table.


The fact you quote a single value of the tax to GDP ratio for all economic situations is at the core of your misunderstanding.

The economy is not growing, because we have a demand problem.

From Krugman’s latest Column: And why should we be surprised at this catastrophe? Where was growth supposed to come from? Consumers, still burdened by the debt that they ran up during the housing bubble, aren’t ready to spend. Businesses see no reason to expand given the lack of consumer demand. And thanks to that deficit obsession, government, which could and should be supporting the economy in its time of need, has been pulling back.

In addition, as Krugman and many others have pointed out repeatedly, austerity in the face of a financial collapse is not real smart.

"The fact you quote a single value of the tax to GDP ratio for all economic situations is at the core of your misunderstanding."

Don't argue with me, I quoted the Romer's paper. Argue with them.

Krugman thought a lot of Christina Romer until he found out about that paper. He also thought a lot about Robert Rubin until he found out how much Rubin walked off with from ruining Citibank.

Intellectually, Krugman is fully invested in a system that requires perpetual exponential growth, and apparently can't see a problem. Or if there is a problem, he'll just adjust GDP to make it better again.


"The way I see it, by the way, is that it’s about shifting the mix away from tons of stuff to quality. You have a small electric vehicle (powered by solar-thermal) instead of an S.U.V., but it drives itself most of the time, and has a great built-in entertainment system. You live in an apartment or townhouse instead of a McMansion, but the brain-wave controlled kitchen turns out gourmet meals on demand. And if we do the GDP accounting right, this will show up as economic growth."

If you read the rest of the article, you see he is on the service-based economy bandwagon again. We'll all get rich flipping each other's burgers, or selling each other our ditties, perfect tomato seeds, etc.

I think that psudo-GDP growth via quality can work for a while (probably a few decades). After that, assuming a stable population and stable resource supply, I can imagine a sort of economy that appears to be evergrowing, but after a long cycle is actually seen to be steadystate. The key is to have tastes that run through a cycle. I.E. at time t, most of the population owns a red wardrobe, but red is starting to go out of favor, and red disfavor. So newly manufactured blue clothes are highly values (have a high price). By being able to tradein their old clothes for blue ones, the population appears to be getting richer (since blue costs more and is valued more than red), so net apparent wealth is increasing. You can even let the currency inflate at a constant rate, so a determination of value based upon present tastes shows that we are richer than our forebearers, and our kids will be richer still. Then a couple of decades later, green becomes the color of choice, and everyone equates wealth with being able to replace blue with green. After a while you go onto white. Once you get back to red it has run full cicle. You got to make the cycle longer than a human lifetime -or people would get wise to it. It is the economic equivalent of the endlessly increasing musical tone( which repeats the same octave for ever ). A physicist wouldn't be fooled, but the human brain can be. Since economic growth is based upon human perception, you should be able to pull off the con.

I apologize for attributing the tax to GDP number to you. I agree with both of you that spending government money on investments is much better than hamburgers. But in the real world, investment in renewable energy probably will require more hamburger consumption. I wish I had time to address the issues of tax to GDP but that will have to wait.

What a different future would face us, if we could simply put 500 billion a year into energy decent.

"Krugman and many others have pointed out repeatedly, austerity in the face of a financial collapse is not real smart."

Krugman should go back to all the colleges he attended and ask for his money back.

I really don't get how people think that the 14th amendment guarantees payment of debt. All it talks about is the VALIDITY of debt. Before a debt can get paid it first has to be valid. The language of the 14th amendment was designed to do two things (a) ensure that all debt incurred by the Union in fighting the Civil was would be VALID and (b) that all debt incurred by the South would not. It also by extension provided that all debt authorized by Congress would be valid.

The intent of the amendment was to ensure that a future Congress controlled by Southern interests would not seek to invalidate the debt incurred in fighting the Civil war - although the language did ensure that any future Congress did not get to pick and choose which debts were valid.

It seems to me that if Congress had intended that the debt would be repaid they would have said so - rather than use a word "questioned" that is ambiguous except in the narrow context of validity.

What happens in corporate law is useful. All the banks that I worked for required a board resolution authorizing the corporation to borrow money. There is plenty of case law where Courts have prevented banks from collecting on a debt because the debt wasn't validly authorized.

I would expect that any borrowing done by the president without the approval of congress would not be considered valid.

On the flip side just because congress authorizes money to be spent does not mean the president has to spend it.

Sorry to repeat this, but the President must - must - spend the funds authorized in the budget approved by Congress. There is a long legal history supporting this, with the most important Supreme Court case involving President Nixon.

This is true even if you disregard the 14th amendment.

Impoundment of Appropriated Funds

Granted the recent debt limit discussion seems to be an intentional regard of already existing laws. There are probably many other examples.

"I haven't seen the direct statement from the rating agency but all the MSM reports I've heard say they pointed the big finger at the R's and to expect the D's and the prez to likely use it to hammer the R's."

Yet the Obama Administration criticized the decision. I would have said "What did you expect after the fiasco we just went through?"

Not to worry, Rockman. They will burn clean coal. We are exploding it out of our mountains over here in Appalachia. All is well.

Krugman gives Standard & Poor's little respect:

The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscal policy? Really?
Just to make it perfect, it turns out that S&P got the math wrong by $2 trillion, and after much discussion conceded the point — then went ahead with the downgrade.

The action is more political than financial, and conspiracy may also figure in. Karoli on CrooksandLiars:

Standard and Poor's has downgraded US Treasury Bonds from AAA to AA+. They claim the downgrade is based on the GOP's refusal to raise revenues. I doubt it. My first question is: Which hedge fund managers stand to profit? That's an answer I want right now. Not ten months from now. NOW. On July 25th, someone placed a ONE BILLION dollar bet that our credit rating would drop. It's time for them to be identified.

It wasn't me. I promise. Although, I did place a little bet. So far, that bet has not worked out.

No primary source for that claim is mentioned.
Furthermore, it would have to be some kind of derivative trade where one person bought and another person sold.Therefore, assuming the claim is correct, one person must have made 1B and another person lost 1B


What "grudgingly"? You can pull down the complete S&P report for the downgrade. Although they discuss several topics, the one factor they identify specifically as "this is what changed our mind at this point in time" is that, as a result of the debt ceiling debacle, they now believe the Republicans specifically will be successful in keeping the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts from expiring. Starts at the last paragraph on page 4.

The language there seems pretty clear. Other things staying roughly the same, the possibilities are: (a) let all of those tax cuts expire, you're AAA; (b) let them expire just for the people making more than $250,000, you stay at the current AA+; and (c) if you actually extend them all, you get knocked down another notch to AA.

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
National Credit Union Administration
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Agencies Issue Guidance on Federal Debt

Earlier today, Standard & Poor’s rating agency lowered the long-term rating of the U.S. government and federal agencies from AAA to AA+. With regard to this action, the federal banking agencies are providing the following guidance to banks, savings associations, credit unions, and bank and savings and loan holding companies (collectively, banking organizations)

For risk-based capital purposes, the risk weights for Treasury securities and other securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, government agencies, and government-sponsored entities will not change. The treatment of Treasury securities and other securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, government agencies, and government-sponsored entities under other federal banking agency regulations, including, for example, the Federal Reserve Board’s Regulation W, will also be unaffected.

Saudi stock market (open today) plunged 6%. Recovered slightly to close down 5.5%. Saudi Petrochemical Industries down 6.66%

Israel TASE (Tel Aviv Stock Exchange) down 6.8% - opening was delayed this morning and the website is currently displaying the message


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After S&P downgrade of US, Israeli stock market delays opening on fears of steep plunge

JERUSALEM — The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has delayed the start of the week’s first session after pre-opening trade showed the benchmark index dropping more than 6 percent following the downgrading of the United States’ debt rating.

Exchange spokeswoman Idit Yaaron said the start was pushed back by 45 minutes “so market players will have time to react logically and not under pressure.”

Israeli stock market now down 7.3%. Oil & Gas stocks down 9.5%. US Futures Markets open in 8 hours time.

I live in the hills. Not any better up here as far as the financial situation goes.

I wondered if Denninger had headed to the hills when there was no post about this but it's up now

And So It Begins.....

Granny cannot have her two new hips and Gramps cannot have his quad-bypass. We cannot pay $100,000 for every man who gets Stage IV prostate cancer to have four more months of life. We cannot have 1 in 6 families on food stamps and half the working population paying no income tax to buy their votes, yet at the same time spend $750 billion on wars (half of which is really about securing oil supplies; ergo, we cannot spend $300/bbl on imported oil and $200/bbl on all oil on average while claiming it's only $100) nor can we spend $15,000 a year "educating" kids who do not understand nor care about the basic function of exponents.

...Yes, this will result in a monstrous economic contraction. That was unavoidable in 2000, but it was reasonable in size. It was unavoidable in 2007 too, and was worse than in 2000. Now it's even worse than in 2007 by a considerable degree and the longer we wait to accept reality the worse it gets. I've now got more than ten years of consistent, every-single-year history on my side - the claims of the "supply-siders" and "Keynesians" have not translated into a reduction or elimination of these imbalances, they have made them worse!

Stand up politicians, tell the truth, and deal with the consequences. We are dangerously close to running out of options in this regard.

Granny cannot have her two new hips and Gramps cannot have his quad-bypass. We cannot pay $100,000 for every man who gets Stage IV prostate cancer to have four more months of life. We cannot have 1 in 6 families on food stamps and half the working population paying no income tax to buy their votes, yet at the same time spend $750 billion on wars (half of which is really about securing oil supplies; ergo, we cannot spend $300/bbl on imported oil and $200/bbl on all oil on average while claiming it's only $100) nor can we spend $15,000 a year "educating" kids who do not understand nor care about the basic function of exponents.

That is out-and-out nonsense of the most hyperbolic sort. The USA could easily afford all of those things, such is its immense productivity. Here is a more accurate reading of the situation:-

American billionaires have decided that they will not under any circumstances pay any more tax than their janitors.

In more reality-oriented economies, Granny is told that she will have to wait two years for her new hips, while Gramps is told that he is not going to get his quad bypass because the doctors think he will probably live longer if he just eats less fatty food and gets more exercise.

Nobody is on food stamps because the government doesn't give them out, and absolutely everybody pays taxes because those who evade the income tax get nailed by the value-added-tax. Military spending is a tiny fraction of what it is in the US because the country tries to avoid non-winnable wars, oil imports are low because fuel taxes are high, and school expenses are low because kids are studying so hard for exams that they don't have time for football and other recreational activities. They know if they can't do exponents or calculus they're not going to get into university.

And that actually is the reality-oriented economy I'm in. I'm amazed at the extent to which Canadian and American economic policy has diverged in recent years.

We now have a situation that has made all previous financial text books obsolete- private corporations whose debt rating is higher than the sovereign. Is this the beginning of the end (as opposed to the end of the beginning) of the nation state and the move into a totally corporate world?

It seems to me that on balance (when the hysteria has subsided) that this should be good news for the stock market. If the historical alternative "risk less investment" is no longer risk less then on a valuation basis stocks have to be worth more.

Interestingly, there is actually a historical parallel which actually was a dominant theme in the investing of Europeans in the late 70's. While Weimar Germany and Nazi Germany debt became worthless the debt issued by German companies actually did retain its value.

Had there been ratings at the time, the ratings of the great banking institutions such as the Rothschilds, Barings, Warburgs, etc., would have been higher that almost all governments during the period 1875-1914.

Is this the beginning of the end of the nation state and the move into a totally corporate world?

How many Government 'things' are not also Corporations?

As I understood it, a company cannot have a credit rating higher than its home country, so one would expect that if the US is downgraded to AA+, all the AAA companies in the US would also be downgraded to AA+. That could cost those companies a lot of money.

XOM bonds are AAA. XOM has foreign sales of $254 B and domestic sales of $116 B. I couldn't find a split for assets, but it is likely that the foreign assets are quite a bit larger than domestic.

Why would XOM's bond rating be affected by the US government bond rating?

Because XOM's bonds are denominated in US dollars. When a government defaults on its debt payments, it usually has a disastrous effect on the value of its currency as well.

I'm not sure if anybody has thought about the repercussions of a debt default by a country who's money is considered a reserve currency. I think that most likely it would cease to be considered a reserve currency.

This is one of the reasons China is so upset about this US credit rating downgrade. They're holding an awful lot of debt denominated in dollars.

A bond rating is based on the probability that interest and principle will be paid.

A decrease in the value of the dollar increases XOM's foreign revenues when converted to dollars and therefore increases the probability that XOM can pay back its creditors.

Duke Energy wants 15% rate hike in S.C.

With the older power plants beginning to be retired and the newer ones costing so much more, the price of electricity is likely to rise at a rather steep rate. Notice that residential customers would experience a 17% rise if the increase is approved, beginning next year. Not to forget:

A rate increase approved in January 2010 included a 9.3 percent rise for S.C. residential customers. As it does in North Carolina, Duke plans to seek a third rate hike next year.

Just another nail in the economic coffin we've built for ourselves...

E. Swanson

As proof of where we are headed, such a steep rise certainly appears to be an indicator. On the other hand, nothing will reduce energy consumption like price increases, so it seems like a positive event on the road to sustainability.

I think that paying closer to the true cost of energy (including externalites[pollution])and reflecting increasing scarcity of resources (now and projected into the future) is a good thing.

I wonder how many folks currently bitching about phasing our incandescent bulbs will embrace CFLs and LEDs when their electricity rate tops 117% of the current rate?

Bring on the reality and open the masses' eyes...

Bring on the reality and open the masses' eyes...

Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.
Winston Churchill

Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.

John Kenneth Galbraith

This is, I think, particularly true of people over 50.

The average age of members of both houses of Congress at the beginning of the 111th Congress was 58.2 years; of members of the House, 57.2 years; and of Senators, 63.1 years.

Age is not the only factor:


"when facts (or the implications of those facts) threaten people's social identities, they tend to dismiss the facts rather than the identity."

True that there are other factors:
- white male effect,
- social dominance orientation,
- system-justifying tendencies,
- identity-protective cognition,
- motivated cognition, and
- epistemic closure.

Most of these factors also apply to most members of Congress as well.

Pyrolysis plants are processing centers where farmers would bring bulky crops such as switchgrass to be made into crude oil.

Why would farmers ship their soil fertility off the land - aka what is the plan to return the post-process material back to the factory?

The energy density of switchgrass makes shipping the material far to bulk processing plants not a realistic option.

One can already build their own gassifyer
Now all ya have to do is spend time processing the switchgrass (or whatever) to gassify. And there is all that time farmers have in their schedule - moving a bunch of grass about will be part of farm life in no time!

Thanks for the link, eric. I have an old LP Gas 15kw generator, still in pretty good shape, and would love to convert it to woodgas. We use a generator to equalize and put a hot charge in the batteries, and to get us through those long cloudy periods without having to power down too much. Our diesel is much more efficient/cheaper to run, but with biodiesel and offroad getting so expensive, converting the old LP genny to woodgas would have a quick payback, and we have plenty of biomass. I wonder how well blackberry brambles gasify.

If you can afford to wait longer and work harder for that gas, consider the Jean Pain Digesting approach as well.. I understand the WWII vehicles that used woodgas also experienced accelerated deterioration in their inner metal surfaces, as this ends up being a very caustic fuel. It also offers byproducts of much good mulch and a heat source..


I've found an online link to his whole book (or his wife's, I think) in PDF, if anyone's interested. It's not so easy to find copies anymore.. IIRC


You have a link (for the pdf)? Would be appreciated.


Yeah, Bob, post it.

I've been looking at various biogas reactor designs, though having a good souce of manure would improve the viability of such a system. IIRC, the Pain system requires accumulating and moving a fairly massive amount of biomass, but also produces hot water, something we could use.

Yes, it's labor intensive, though he was reporting that a pile of Chipped/Shredded Woody material (and the particulars of the shredding approach were important..) measuring some 3meters high and 9 across (?), would be producing heat and gas for around 18 months.. and he used this gas for cooking, running a carb. modded truck, and occasionally a small electric Generator, while the heat went to Domestic Hot Water and Home Heating..

Here is one source, at a permaculture website.. I think it's where I got it, and I have to suspect others have it around as well.. I'd love to pay the author for it (I think she's still alive, but didn't find copies for sale when I looked..)

http:// www.biomeiler.at/ explorer/Downloads/AnotherKindofGarden .pdf (5 mb download) BAD LINK.. left in disabled for reference

One commenter said this, if the info is useful..

It's curious that Jean Pain made humus and not compost. The difference seems to be that humus last a long time where compost keeps on rotting, for a lack of a better word.


Here's a Book Purchase Link to the Family.. I hadn't seen it before, and that might be why the free PDF's are not out there where I had seen them.. http://www.jean-pain.com/mjp.htm

You can find my email at my id, for related questions.

Might have found a link ..

http://www.4shared.com/get/Xyo0gh2Q/Another_Kind_of_Garden.html .. (It's actually for the PDF again, not an HTML version)

jokuhl, ghung

thanks for the link. Will have to check it out later.

Question: Does anyone of you have experience (or links) with gasification of sawdust (from sawmills)? The resulting char would be in the right size for implementing into the soil.
Any info would be appreciated.



I wonder how well blackberry brambles gasify

Not well, not very dense material.

But they will gassify.

You could also make yourself a TLUD or an Analia style cooker.
Some use rich husks - and that is less woody material than the brambles.

You could also go this route
Where the gassifyer output is used for actual cooking gas VS going into a genset.

Why would farmers ship their soil fertility off the land - aka what is the plan to return the post-process material back to the factory?

Farmers would ship it because they could make money. Why do you think they use pesticides and in some countries antibiotics?

Rural landscapes of the future might have pyrolysis plants instead of grain elevators on every horizon.

The main problem is the missing grain. I guess some are used to feed animals and it could of course be solved like in the Great Famine (Ireland) by the market forces.

Records show Irish lands exported food even during the worst years of the Famine.

US Treasury claims S&P made a 2-Trillion dollar error in its calculations leading to the debt downgrade.


I think the U.S. Treasury is quibbling...it seems as if we are arguing about how quickly the Titanic is taking on water.

This as I read my current Aviation Week and Space Technology, particularly an article where military brass and fellow travelers opine that a proposed $00B cut in the DOD budget over 10 years will put them at the breaking point and so forth.

Really? That cut is $40B less spent each year, time ten years.

The current outlays for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are ~ $150-160B depending on what source I read.

This is a pin-prick. Eliminating all the current combats ops spending would save ~ $1.5 Trillion over the next ten years.


U.S. military (DOD, not including National Security Agency, CIA, Department of Energy weapons spending, Homeland Security, etc) spending has increased 81% since 2001. The other military-Security Industrial Complex outlays have greatly increased as well...

If our leaders had any courage, they would have cut all US Federal Government spending by 50% in aggregate, and increased revenues by 25%, phased in over 4 years.

Balance the books, move definitively towards living within our means.

They've acknowledge the error, but say it doesn't change the rating.

What this reflects is that Russia, China, and Al Qaeda are winning.

After the breakup of the USSR and the economic reorganization of China, both dropped out of the Cold War. The US continued huge expenditures on a Cold War military and positioned itself as the sole superpower intent on establishing the US economic and political systems around the globe.

The US continued to push NATO forward, involve itself in military adventures in the Balkans and fight a war in Iraq.

Al Qaeda then accomplished the 9/11 attack.

The US responded with hugely expensive homeland security measures, a second war in Iraq, and got bogged down in an expensive and unwinnable war in Afghanistan.

The huge expenditures of money and the political distraction from caring for the economic well being of our own country and citizens is resulting in a slide towards national poverty and irrelevance.

It was fascinating how, as the Cold War was suddenly receding after the Wall fell etc, that the hot wars in the ME over oil fired up, with concomitant developments in terrorist actions by offended Muslims against the U.S.

I recall that in 2001 the new administration seemed to be casting about for a mild row with the PRC...lots of articles in the many military and foreign policy journals and in the MSM as well warned about the rising red dragon and admonished the taxpayers to regret the post-Cold War Peace Dividend and amp up spending to counter the new, improved near-peer threat from Communist China.

This occurred:


Then 911 happened...from the MIC Hawks point of view, this even was a Godsend, preventing any further flt-line budgets for the MIC, or heavens forbid, further budget declines.

I guess certain folks' prayers were answered...interesting how fate provided for the MIC in its time of need.

On a related note, I just heard on a radio story that the Johnson Presidential Library recently release audio files of LBJ talking to a senior Republican Congressman, stating that he knew that candidate Nixon and his cronies met with South Vietnamese officials and told them to walk away from the peace talks in 1968, that when he got ;elected his administration would cut the South a better deal.

Hell, at least Iraq has oil...I do not at all agree with using our military to secure it, but I understand that motive, even if GWB and the Dark Lord Cheney never will admit it, even going to their graves...heck, President Obama doesn't have the stones to admit it either.

For those of you who have never watched it, rent Three Days of the Condor, and realize that is was released in 1976, IIRC.

The current DC think is if X does not solve your problem then you need more X to solve the problem. If the current level of wars and aggression do not solve the US economic problem then more war is clearly needed.

Russia, China, and Al Qaeda are winning

DC think would say what is needed is war against Russia, China, and expanded war against Al Qaeda.

and Al Qaeda are winning.

Al Qaeda won along time ago. It was not the 911 attacks, that took us down, either. It was our reaction to them. Case in point:

The US responded with hugely expensive homeland security measures, a second war in Iraq, and got bogged down in an expensive and unwinnable war in Afghanistan.

Bobby Kennedy:

The big threat to America is the way we react to terrorism by throwing away what everybody values about our country--a commitment to human rights. America is a great nation because we are a good nation. When we stop being a good nation, we stop being great.

Speaking as an activist, I'd have to say that the dude with the exploding shoes won, even if not the way he intended. Everyone in the USA who flies now has to take off their shoes and be frisked for liquids, while a gimmicked radio exactly like the one that took down Pan Am 103 would be waved right through all but a few airport machines. Any laptop computer that lights up will likewise be waved aboard, even though the second battery bay could be filled with semtex. But let's all take our shoes off and xray them.

Two weeks ago as I boarded a plane, I was pulled out of line because xrays saw a 6-oz bottle of protein drink in my carryon I had missed. The entire time I was being faced by three armed security people and eyeballed as a potential protein-drink bomber, I couldn't help thinking of what an effective piece of activism led to this farce.

just saying...

Don't forget the guy with honey who had the TSA agents "smell a strong chemical smell" and 2 TSAers self-admitted into the hospital.

That's funny! I recently traveled to and from DC Reagan National with a fully competent 12 guage shotshell in my carry on. Accidental I assure you - I wouldn't want to face the hassle the discovery of that would have brought on! But it is telling and argues for the adoption of Israeli style security.

It argues for not getting on an airplane ever again.

The reason it gives is what all America has been saying: Washington doesn't work. The S&P report says: "The political brinkmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed."

They single out Republicans for ruling out tax rises. "It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options... Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues."

It doesn't look like there's any chance they will budge from their position.

They just need to adopt the 2001 fiscal year budget. All federal staffing goes back to 2001 numbers and salaries. Any department created since then disappears (bye bye TSA and Homeland security). And of course we immediately pull out of Irag and Afganistan.

It would be the greatest thing ever and I promise to let homeless ex-federal workers sleep in my yard.

If our leaders had any courage

If your leaders had any courage they would now impose a "credit rating stabilisation fee" on those who stand to benefit most: the members of the Fortune Top 1000.

Yes, a tax. Poof - end of problem.

they already do its called printing money and therefore devaluation their money. The problem it already devalues grandma's money she has stuffed in her mattress.

Many of us here have assumed that as the years go by that oil prices would continue to increase and squeeze out demand.

But I am starting to wonder if what will happen is that prices will remain roughly the same, and the deteriorating economic conditions will effectively reduce people's ability to pay that price - which will also have the effect of reducing demand..

Stoneleigh thinks that prices might actually go down. Because $10 a barrel is still too expensive for people with no money.

*points at most of Africa*
*points at oil price chart*
*points at world population number*

History says there is still demand and a whole lotta people on the planet to step up before oil gets to $10.

Not to mention all the inflation producing money printing.

But so far credit is contracting far more rapidly than we are printing money, and there are many more writedowns yet to come.

There is not going to be any "hitting bedrock" deflation-Stoneliegh simply does not recognize that when ts is really and truly in tf, ALL the rules will be subject to change.

If necessary , the entire banking/finance/ regulatory monster can and will scrapped be to prevent it, and replaced by a new system.

She can pretend that money can't be printed and forced into circulation to her hearts content.

It can be, and it will be.

This will not cure our problems of course, but it will postpone the final day of reckoning for some time, perhaps for several years-just as eating the seed corn postpones starvation temporarily.

She can pretend that money can't be printed and forced into circulation to her hearts content.
It can be, and it will be.

Go on...........

The operative principle involved is that the long term survival/viability of any organism or institution , etc, is of only academic interest when the question boils down to short term survival.

Faced with the choice of starving today or eating next autumn, YOU WILL eat your seed corn.Politicians and central bankers and those who are mutually codependent upon them, such as big biz, big military, big govt( read here ss, medicare, govt payroll , voters on ) will do anyting necessary to prevent a short term rock bottom deflation-including another round of magically created stimulus money, for instance, when the circumstances warrant .

Actually the only reason "they" aren't doing even more deficit spending right now, tea party be damned, is that "they" are afraid to for fear of provoking TOO MUCH INFLATION, too fast.

Granted, there are a couple of bubbles yet to be fully deflated-real estate and the stock market.

But niether of these actually reflect day to day expenses of doing business-when I harvest my apples this falland boxes are going to be up.So is shipping.So is electricity to run the refrigerated warehouse where they will be stored till retailed.My chemical bill was up about 25% this year,the price of new equipment of any kind is thru the roof, etc.

Call it what you like-define it away with a technical definition if you want to, but what the common man refers to as inflation is alive and very well indeed in every respect that directly matters much in his day to day life except one-real estate.

Arguments to the effect that the govt cannot get the funny money into the hands of consumers are simply absurd.I'm sure you have heard of rental assistance, free school lunches, gauranteed income legislation, etc, and outright welfare cash.

When the tea party element finishes it's run for glory-and it will, as old man bau's health continues to decline, believe me, even the rock ribbed republicans are going to have to think twice about welfare state spending-else they will be swept out of office by a tsunami of formerly conservative voters desperare for welfare state assistance themselves.

I speak as a realist.

I do believe we are headed for an economic collapse, followed on it's heels by an an ecological/ resource depletion collapse, but one characterized far more by inflation than by deflation, excepting possibly commercial and residential real estate.Prices of these two sectors will probably be on life support for some time yet until things either temporarily stabilize or crash altogether.

But enough funny money will eventually be created, if it is expedient to do so, to enable all those underwater homeowners to sell out or make thier payments-the proceeds of the sale won't buy much of anything useful of course, because by then you will need a sackful of dollar bills to buy that same sack full of groceries.

I'm sorry that I don't have the time to compose and edit a truly decent reply, but this should get the gist of my opinion across.

I agree 100%.

I agree 100%. Ultimately the only things that will have value are food, energy and a currency that cannot printed by any government (also known as gold). The US $ will still be used as a currency, but 1 oz of gold will sell for $12,000. That is why I keep saying: Either buy gold, hard assets or paper assets backed by hard assets or perish in the fire of hyperinflation.

I doubt certainty should be attached to any future inflationary outcome; however, Stone Leigh’s arguments for short-term deflationary effects seem strong. The collapse of the usable money supply would be huge and too fast to counter. Longer term, the choice will probably be dictated by the Fed (government). However, I note that inflation during the Great Depression was associated with a large increase in government spending and not simply monetary manipulation.

One reason inflation would still not be the path chosen are the assets of the wealthy, which include a lot of bonds:

At Charles below: I appreciated the information on inflation during the Great Depression.

The assetts of the wealthy held in the form of bonds are melting away like snow during a long cool spring-gradually but surely, the cash obtained in the form of interest and return of principal is losing value.

Even considering the fact that the interest is often tax free at either the state or federal level, the owners of these bonds are losing thier shirts over any extended period if they intend to use the interest and principal to buy energy, higher education, food, medical care, or any number of other essential goods and services.

So thier wealth in real terms is diminishing if they are holding low interest rate bonds.

Granted real commercial and residential estate is still falling in price overall, farmland being the big exception, but the percieved value of real estate is based on two primary factors: the potential rental income over and above the expenses of owning and managing it ;and the perception of future value meaning selling price down the road.Hence residential and commercial real estate can fall a long way yet, as thier peak prices were in a dream land bubble of perpetual growth in incomes.

We forget that the price of real estate is ultimately limited by the income of potential purchasers in combination with interest rates.The feds and the industry-banking/ finance / builders/ brokers- conspired to blow hot air up the economy's backside by pushing interest rates to very low levels and relaxing loan qualification standards to a ridiculous extreme.

Incomes quit rising and interest rates could not have gotten much if any lower, nominally speaking.The bubble had to burst, there was no way to further inflate it.

Everybody went crazy to get in on the ponzi scheme-the builders, bankers, brokers, and early sellers, etc, made out like bandits of course, but everybody else is now paying the price.

The economy floated like a hot air ballon as a result-for a few years-but now all that hot air is steadily being expelled from the economy's collective backside and making a very unpleasant stink and a very embarrassing sound as it does so.

I would like to point out again, at a risk of boring some readers, that the US experience in the 1930s provides a good example as to what we might expect in the next few years in the US.

In the early 1930s, the President Franklin undertook a major devaluation of the US dollar and an increase in federal government spending. Whether you agree with what happened or not, it resulted in commodity prices rising about 75% - which was almost exactly equal to the 75% devaluation of the US dollar. Consumer prices also rose briskly for a few years or so.

My point being in the midst of a great depression you can still have inflation.

Later on, starting in 1937, the Federal Reserve began a tight money policy at the same time federal spending was reduced. Perhaps not surprisingly commodity prices fell back and the economy went back into depression.

Given Bernanke of the Fed has written a book about the choices made in the 1930s, what choice dear reader, do you think he will make now?

Based upon recent events, the Fed will have to commit to one path or another soon, and with it, the end to this debate about deflation vs. inflation.

For me inflation is preferable, I think I could cope a bit better.
I would like to know how the money will be "forced" into the economy and my paycheck. I want to know if the various institutions will continue to lend money, will credit be readily available. Will wage and salary increases come before interest rate rises.
I want to know how more money "forced" into circulation will cause more oil to be pumped, how it will stimulate spending and job creation in a world of declining net energy.
All I get though "is trust me it will happen because I said so".

In the last few years, the total amount of credit in the US has continued to expand. That is because the US has been successful in already 'forcing' credit into the 'system' by deficit spending and control of about 90% of the mortgage market.

A more appropriate question is not that the government can't force money and credit into the economy, it already does to a great extent, the question is whether the government can always offset a credit contraction if the private sector cuts back faster than the government can expand.

After the collapse of Credit-Anstalt in May 1931, all the nations were consecutively driven off of the gold standard by banking panics. The gold standard did not afford the governments the needed monetary flexibility to deal with the financial problems.

Today, the Euro is playing a similar role to the gold standard for the countries in the Eurozone. Individual countries do not have flexibility to address their problems.

So the question is which Eurozone bank will be the next Credit-Anstalt.

IMO you appear to be reworking the definition of inflation to suit your expectations but I'm probably doing the same I'm certainly no economist.
The printing presses are running hot and interest rates are zero. Wages and salaries remain steady or are in real terms declining.

Consumer price increases are due to EROI. The service and tourism industry are declining for the same reason. At present we are redirecting our personal expenditure to allow for the purchase of essentials. As time goes by our personal definition and expectation as to what essentials entail will alter. Stimulating the people to buy trinkets has and won't work. Job creation is the only cure.

Argentina did it once, I'd like to see them have at crack at it now and "grow' their way to prosperity again.
Zimbabwe tried it, what's the difference if you can't afford essentials at $1 inflating to $100 is pointless, it defies the logic of supply and demand. Demand we have, consumer confidence, jobs and wage increases is what's required.

I'd like to know which company will be the first to lift their prices if there are fewer people working and wages and salaries are declining. Which bank will raise their interest rates and begin lending. What company is going to hire more employees if nobody is buying their products.

You want to see inflation, mail a million dollar check to every citizen. See if that does more than just flare and fizzle the economy. I'm pretty sure it would not make more energy or make it cheaper, just the opposite.

For me expecting inflation is a cornucopian, BAU expectation. First you need an economic recovery, give me that and I'll give you your inflation. I think the government would give their right arm for a couple of years of real economic growth, from there they could really get on with the job of inflation and the reduction of debt.

Many of us here have assumed that as the years go by that oil prices would continue to increase and squeeze out demand.

Yes most of us assumed something similar prior to 2008. Most of us changed our minds after seeing what very high oil prices can do to the economy. Some however, still fail to understand the connection between high oil prices and the economies of the world. A few still believe that oil prices could hit $200 a barrel or higher when supplies get very tight. In my opinion, that just ain't gonna happen.

But it is not just high oil prices that is killing the economy, it is the fact that the oil supply, the hemoglobin of the economy, is not growing. So the price is bid up in order to get the needed economic blood supply but the high price hits and keeps demand low.

Ron P.

oil prices could hit $200 a barrel or higher when supplies get very tight. In my opinion, that just ain't gonna happen.

And your opinion is wrong*.

But lets compare a oil-based liquid fuel in terms of a physical thing.

1964 - gallon of gas $0.30. (a quarter and a nickel)
1964 quarter has 'bout $6.93 in silver. In 2008 when gasoline was $4+ there was a time where silver part of a 1964 silver quarter would buy ya a gallon of gas.

Printing of money causes inflation. At some point there will be enough printed money to get that $200 US Dollar a barrel price.

Not to mention if I offer $200 for a barrel of oil on Monday I'll find a seller - and for Monday the price of oil would have been $200 for part of the day thus showing the ain't gonna happen position as incorrect.

*The US Dollar would have to stick around long enough to have that inflation of course.

Eric, I have stated many times before that I always speak in constant dollars. I have made that point over and over and over. Of course inflation could cause oil to go to $1,000 a barrel. Hell, enough inflation could cause gasoline to go to $1,000 a gallon.

Not to mention if I offer $200 for a barrel of oil on Monday I'll find a seller - and for Monday the price of oil would have been $200 for part of the day thus showing the ain't gonna happen position as incorrect.

Now you are just being silly. And no, that does not show my position is incorrect. What I said was: In my opinion, that just ain't gonna happen. And in my opinion you just ain't gonna do that. And here's why.

Oil, on the exchange, does not sell by the barrel. One contract is for 1000 barrels. You could not bid $110 above the offered price because your brokerage house would not allow it unless you had over $110,000 in your margin account because that is what you would lose in an instant. And if that was not in your margin account then your broker would be on the hook for the money.

And please, please, please, stop being so argumentative just for the sake of disagreeing with me. That just makes you look silly.

Oil prices, in my opinion will not go above $200 a barrel. And everyone, I dearly hope, is aware that I am speaking of constant (2011) dollars.

Ron P.

US oil and oil product import prices (unadjusted for 'inflation') are up an astounding 50% in just one year. See BLS import price data:


Not surprisingly, this is causing the US economy to stall .

I don't understand that at all. According to the Monthly Energy Review net imports are down, not up.

                   Petroleum Products
Year   Net Imports    Supplied
2005    12,549         20,802
2006    12,390         20,687
2007    12,036         20,680
2008    11,114         19,498
2009     9,667         18,771
2010     9,440         19,148
2011     8,908         18,946   First six months average

2009    10,269         18,713   First six months average
2010     9,651         18,917   First six months average
2011     8,908         18,946   First six months average

Of course this is crude oil, not petroleum products. But petroleum products supplied have been pretty flat for the last two years so there is just no way oil and product imports should be up 50 percent. Am I missing something here?

Ron P.

He said "prices," Ron.

Oh, sorry. My mistake.

Ron P.

Gas tax may be next Tea Party target

"Fresh from blocking any new tax increases during the debt ceiling debacle, some lawmakers in Congress may now oppose renewing the federal tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, which is used to maintain our nations highways."

Perhaps we should start getting used to collapsing infrastructure...

Edit : the biggest losers will be long-distance trucking companies. I wonder whether the states that turned down money for high speed rail will come to regret that position.

Edit 2 : what would be the likely impact to the food system ?

I heard this on the radio a few daze ago.

The article at your link is well worth the time to click and read...it really shows how some folks do not think logically.

For instance, I would bet that this fact is over the heads of 99% of the Tea Party folks:

18.4 cent-a-gallon tax hasn't been raised since 1993, and now has the inflation-adjusted buying power of just 11 cents. Plus, fuel efficiency has been rising steadily each year along with miles driven, meaning Americans are putting more miles on roads while paying less to maintain them. To top of page

Under the federal system, states on the coasts with large populations often end up sending money to states in the middle of the country that have thousand of miles of open roads but fewer taxpayers to help fund them.

...the roads in the middle of the country take a beating by heavy trucks shipping commerce from one coast to the other.

Both the Chamber of Commerce and General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) have recently come out in favor of a higher gas tax -- the latter arguing for a dollar-a-gallon increase.

The article opines that stated would have to step in and raise their state fuel taxes to compensate if the Fed tax was reduced or eliminated...good luck with that...how many state governments are under the Tea Party sway?

Alan Drake, the time for your enhanced rail infrastructure ideas is now (actually it was at 40 years ago, but I will try to to cry over spilt milk).

This is the biggest problem with people who think in sound-bites. They are unable to view the system as a whole. One wonders, when the system of federal taxes has been disabled, if they will then turn their attention to preventing increases in state and local taxes too.

The net impact of all this is likely to be that more populous regions will be able to afford better amenities. Communities that were built along the length of federal highways will, of necessity, diminish and fade away, as less and less traffic passes through.

I do wonder if new local economies will develop to replace interstate commerce, or whether people will just try and relocate elsewhere.

Edit : essentially, what we appear to be seeing is the start of the collapse of existing supply chains.

Another one of Grover Norquist's projects.

Grover Glenn Norquist (born October 19, 1956) is president of a taxpayer advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform. He has been described as "the driving force in pushing the Republican Party toward an ever-more rigid position of opposing any tax increase, of any kind, at any time."

States are already looking for ways to offset costs. Georgia is trying to push through a state sales tax to fund a regional transportation overhall, and is also adding tolls to some interstates.

Tolls are going up here, too.

Tollway seeks big increase in tolls

"Illinois Tollway drivers next year could pay nearly twice as much in tolls to fund a $12 billion 15-year capital plan that would include the region's first new tollway since the opening of the Veterans Memorial Tollway, a new interchange in the south suburbs and reconstruction of the 50-year-old Jane Addams tollway to Rockford."

Just to see the reaction, I would love to see stiff tolls on most roads.

Hell, charge folks as soon as they back out of their driveway onto the public street in front of their house. Charge them to park next to the curb on the public street in front of their house...charge per vehicle, per unit of time.

After all, does this not seem to be the model that some of these folks want?

Or do they just want to not pay a dime for anything...not in taxes, not in user fees/tolls, and just expect the magic pink unicorn to provide these public goods gratis?

There has been a furor in Chicago over parking rate increases which took place last year.

I think the giant superstore mindset of a deal on everything, everything forever on sale, and get more for less advertising has so brainwashed people that they cannot grasp the notion of a price increase at all.

Perhaps if corporations were really running things we would have "buy one, get one free" deals on roadways, which only last 3 years, and then you have to go back for more.

deals on roadways, which only last 3 years, and then you have to go back for more.

With the local "family affiliated" paving contractors, we have that now.

Considering the crooked nature of that Chicago parking-meter deal, people ought to be furious.

H - I'm with you 110%. If Harris County (Houston, TX) wants to spend $billions (as it has for years now) on expanding roadways to allow single driver vehicles to commute to work faster then the local voters should pay 100% of the cost. So if they want to go that route instead of expanding mass transit then so be it. It's their money and no one else's business IMHO. I also don't see why taxes paid to the feds should be used to spend $2 billion expanding the Houston airport. Whatever benefits from that will predominantly go to our busineses and citizens and thus they should pay.

And the locals would have direct control over those choices via the voting booth. Want light rail instead of more superslab? Easily done: let the local politicians know their job future is entire dependent upon doing what the majority of the citizens want. More importantly, it would be pay as you go: many (if not the majority of states) can't borrow their way into the future. Right now many folks don't have to think about the future too seriously because Uncle Sam will borrow the $'s for them.

I would be glad to see all the motor fuel tax go to Texas and not get any funds from the feds to support our transportation system. Then Texans could decide to bump the fuel tax way up or stop spending on BAU. I have no doubt we would get a lot of folks to stop watching "American Idle" and listen to NPR and other sources of useful info. Maybe, just maybe, actually educate themselves on what really matters for our future.

Can I convince you to run for Pres instead of Rick Perry?

Can he run as an independent? How about a new Party called 'The True Bluebell?!'

Rockman for President 2012!


Thanks! I needed that!

H - Nah...be a lot more intersting with "Pretty Boy" Rick in office. If you think the MSM had fun with the bush baby wait till PBR hits the White House. If folks are getting tired of me talking about Texas...just wait.

Was thinking about my post. I tend to think of myself as more libertarian than any other flavor. Actually, with respect to the fed govt, I very much am. OTOH, the closer real control is to home the more I can favor govt control/infuence/even a tad intrusive. If I don't like how Houston is being run I have an option to move to another city that closer fits my views. Maybe Brenham...home of Blue Bell ice cream. Don't like how Texas is being run? Move back to Nawlins maybe. But don't like the US is heading? That would be a much tougher choice. I've made by share of sacrifices/contributions for this country. Think I've earned my piece of it.

I'd prefer almost anyone on the Oil Drum as President or in the House or Senate, than the meat-heads (on both sides) we have now.

Speaking of pretty boy Rick Perry, on CNN this morning they reported that RP has called for a day of prayer in Texas to fix the economy....that folks were needed to pray all day for the economy to heal.

Where do you get these whack jobs and who votes for them? If some Ayatollah did this in the ME the broohah would become a ha ha ha and a new round of camel jockey jokes would appear on the Net. I find it absolutely unbelieveable that someone of this ilk is actually considered for public office....let alone a state governor! To be president material is downright bizarre.

Maybe it is the heat ?

Oh well, at least God doesn't talk to him about his plans like Sarah's God does. Or, does he?

I understand whack jobs need to please their base, but surely this is beyond the pale? What is happening down there???


"Where do you get these whack jobs and who votes for them?"

Gosh, Paulo, you need to get around more. Our Clusterf#$% Nation is chock full......well, just read the comments section of this story.

Posted on August 3, 2011 at 9:42pm
Personally, I wish we were a little more like Arab countries like Iran. The leaders talk directly to their God so they know what to do. Of course their God is false and ours is true. So you have to believe that if our guy was talking to the real God, we‘d be able to outwit and defeat all those people who are talking to a God that doesn’t exist, or at least one whose words they are misinterpreting.....

I make a point of getting out of my online and real world enclaves and listening to people. Sometimes I'll bait a group of folks just to see what they think, sit back and watch. Give'em an inch....

Wanna see something really scarey? Just mutter something politically incorrect in the checkout line at worldmart; you can really get folks going these days ;-)

All of the "unorthodox" views expressed on the Internet were already being expressed in neighborhood bars, hunting camps, knitting circles, prayer groups, lodges, parties, etc.

Anyone who is surprised wasn't getting out much or listening to what people were saying.

There's an almost limitless supply of wackiness in the world.

Paulo- No one said late stage capitalism would be fun, but your point is well taken.
This is really bizarre, and would have Kafka blushing.

"Where do you get these whack jobs and who votes for them?"

If you are European, it's your fault. You ran all your religious nutwhacks out of your countries and they ended up in the US.

You can have them back anytime.

As to who votes for them, well, the other religious nutwhacks.

The US --- People who couldn't get along somewhere else.

Better than Australia.

But seriously it would be interesting to know if there are any significant genetic differences (in the area of brain function) between populations of the several major areas.

Austraila was started because the English could no longer transport prisoners from criminal and debtors prisons to the colonies, especially the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia. Besides criminals, many neer-do-wells were also transported as indentured servants -- essentially people who were enslaved for a period of years in return for the cost of transport to the colonies. Of these, English were a minority with Scots, Scots Irish, and Irish together being the majority.

Their descendents moved west across the midsection of the country, ultimately spread out all the way to California after the dust bowl. They made up the greater part of indian fighters, civil war guerillas, old west outlaws, bank robbers, train robbers and outlaws up until the '20s.

How many old west outlaws have you heard of with continental European surnames?

Yep, Australia had just the criminals and turned out well adjusted with a positive, down-to-earth outlook on life.

The US had criminals AND religious zealots, and turned out ......

The US had criminals AND religious zealots,

The Congress?

"The Congress?"

Criminals ruling over religious zealots. This also describes the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 17th century.

Australia may have gotte a better class of criminal than the US. By the early Victorian era, many of the prisoners were people convicted of very minor crimes, petty theft, etc. In order to escape the slums and "dark Satanic mills" of England people would even commit crimes with the expectation that they would be transported, rather than lodged in English prisons.

Paulo - Perhaps you're being somewhat blinded by your personal beliefs. Or maybe you’re just kidding about not understanding how a Perry can be elected. Ours is a representative govt. As such one should expect and understand the outcomes. The US is a dominant Christian society. Why would anyone expect the political class not represent those folks to a significant degree? Neither your opinion nor that of a devout atheist like me is relevant. Makes as much sense for me to mock the heat in S Texas during August. For all I know Perry may be a closet atheist. But he knows what Texas voters want from their govt and knows he either delivers or adopst a new career path.

You and I can take all the shots at them we want. But it won’t change the end game: they are the great majority here and their belief system will rule the day. Like me folks have to learn to cope with situation or relocate to non-religious climes. Outside of our personal actions our beliefs are not relevant. Not accepting that fact will lead to a life of constant lower intestinal distress. LOL.

I think there are strong regional differences in the US with regard to religion. I would say the north is less religious and the south more. Here in New York State the religion that dominates state politics is Judaism not Christianity.

Rock. You pretty much hit it right on. However when I was young, it didn't seem like religion was so tied up with politics. And I don't recall any great anti-science movement either -certainly not one endorsed by a major political party. And I think the percentage of Christians was higher then than now (as a wild guess maybe 95% then and 85% now). I think this stems partly from a feeling of insecurity, Cristianists see that religiousity has largely died away in western Europe, and fear this will happen here too. They also see nontrivial numbers of non Christians (Muslims, Budhists, Hindus etc.) that were nearly nonexistant in the US fifty years ago. There are also fundamnetal disagreements relating to abortion, stem cells, etc. This was (IMO) what started the politicization of religion (or maybe the religionification of politics). So we've got a generation of politicians trying to wield religion as a weapon. Of course that becomes very divisive.

Nevertheless, we have a profound sociological question. Why has religion largely faded away in western Europe, but not in America? What is the cause of this divergence of outcomes?

I remember articles which looked at statistics about church attendance and knowledge of scriptures and reached conclusions that a non-trivial number of folks like to talk the talk on religion but do not necessarily walk the walk. Especially when they talk to pollsters.

There is a huge psychological impact of straying away from what one's Parents and other authority figures preached/drilled into one when one was young.

Add to that the perceived social and workplace stigma of 'not fitting in' and being the odd man out.

Add to that the deep-rooted irrational hopes and fears of eternal reward and damnation sunk into the young consciousness...

I especially like the 'man on the street' interviews where folks advocating for schools and government offices to have the Ten Commandments hanging on the wall can barely name half of them...

I recall my one bud way back when (we were in our 20s) confiding that the Catholic Church services were a 'meat market' for young folks on the prowl...later on that turns into a personal 'Linkdin' and social club.

I opine that a lot of people like to push their beliefs on others as a cheap and easy herd mentality way to boss others around and achieve some sense of power and control over society. Belonging to a gang...strength in numbers...needing a framework to tell one how to think.

Taking that into politics is toxic.

Religion has always been a big political factor in the Bible Belt. It was less of a factor in state-wide politics in states with a balanced mix of mainline Protestant, Catholics and a number of Jews. However, in those states it was certainly a big factor in municipal and county politics.

The attempt to define the US as a Christian nation is most active in those states with over 50% Protestants. I think there is much less enthusiasm in states that have a plurality of Catholics.

Religious Affiliation by State

Merrill et al – If religious folks have become more activist it’s easy to explain IMHO. Launch any vocal attack/criticism/mockery at any organized group and counter pressure is to be expected. Doesn’t matter if it’s a church, the Girl Scouts, the Marine Corps, Greenpeace, etc. They will ignore internal differences, circle the wagons and, if powerful enough, shove a knife in your back. Many folks like to publicly mock those groups they disagree with. That’s OK but they shouldn’t be surprised when it backfires on them. Anyone who thinks that the criticism and mockery of Gov Perry hasn’t strengthened his position is clueless about the political system. I have no doubt Perry will be forever grateful to every liberal source that attacked him. All those efforts do is energize his supporters. I know folks who think Perry isn’t a very good manager of the public’s interests but would back him to the hilt for no other reason than the attacks on his religious stance.

I’m constantly amazed by how many folks, both on the left and right, don’t see the cause and effect of such publicly stated attitudes. As the covert operator told his young charge: when you approach an enemy sentry you act friendly and offer a kind greeting. And as you get close enough and see a friendly smile returned you shove a knife in him. It ain’t pretty…it ain’t nice, But that’s how you defeat your adversary especially if he greatly outnumbers you.

While fundamentalist evangelicals may enjoy a "first mover" advantage, for all the reasons you lay out they are unlikely to be the "last man standing" if there becomes a general battle over what kind of Christian nation the United States will become.


I do not subscribe to the implied preferred methodology: If you are in the perceived minority (but perhaps the quiet oppressed slight-majority), just keep your mouth shut and your head down?

I am fascinated by the lack of mention whatsoever in your prescription of the examples of folks in the perceived majority (or perhaps the extremely vocal large minority) blaming atheists, liberated/modern women, homosexuals, Muslims, etc for everything form poor educational outcomes in public schools to man-made and natural disasters such as 9-11 and Katrina. Demonizing them, in many cases.

At first, non-Christian folks just wanted to do their own thing and be 'left alone'...then the Pat Robertsons et al chose to make them the nations' scapegoat, interestingly ramping this up coincident with the 1980 time frame (see other charts posted here showing that ~ 1980 is, at the latest, the time when the U.S peaked in its economy and when its debt started its huge climb)...there is historical precedent for perceived minority folks being made a scapegoat to distract a nation's masses from focusing on their true predicaments...

Bottom line: More and more, folks will challenge attempted oppression by the vocal majority religion faction bent on oppression and control of their fellow countrymen and neighbors.

"...blaming atheists, liberated/modern women, homosexuals, Muslims, etc for everything form poor educational outcomes in public schools to man-made and natural disasters such as 9-11 and Katrina. Demonizing them, in many cases."

It's the western ying/yang thang. The greater your enemy, the greater your God. Pick an enemy, someone who doesn't share your world view (lesbians, atheists,, Sponge Bob), then assign metaphorically evil qualities and power to the image you've created, and proceed to defeat an enemy that was never a real threat to begin with, magically elevating the status of your God and avoiding the need to confront the Devil within. This is the true genius of Christianity: deferring blame; outsourcing sin......Hallelujah!

IMO, Voodoo Dolls make more sense, but that's just me...

I once had a relationship with a lady ended because the results of a religious ceremony involving sacrificed baby chickens and the location of tossed cowl shells decided such. I guess it was a less emotional way to end a relationship.

Anyone who thinks that the criticism and mockery of Gov Perry hasn’t strengthened his position is clueless about the political system.

I am sorry Rockman but it just doesn't work that way. It does strengthen his position among the ultra right wing religious nut cases like he had at his prayer meeting. And while these folks may be a majority in Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, they are not a majority in entire nation.

Late night comedians, and prime time comedians like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher have had a many great laughs at his expense, and the nation is laughing with them. He is now in the same pigeonhole as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. They are all three fodder for all TV comedians. They are all darlings of the Tea Party but this is not a Tea Party nation. Well not yet anyway and it is my humble opinion that it never will be.

Ron P.

The Red vs. Blue divide.

Ron, do not underestimate the size and influence of the "red" side.

There is a strong alliance between the Religious Right, business interests and the MIC.


Alan. I think a lot has to do with organization. In the US the right has well funded thinktanks, billions are spent coming up with memes and talking points, and then they are dissemianted within hours of release, where fellow travelers and water carriers for the cause can start using them. The left has nothing of the sort. very wealthy people who a rightwing give to political organizations, on the left, they give to mostly apolitical charities. the only major source of countervailing organization power on the left has been labour unions. The right is very adament at destroying/weakening labour unions, because they want to maintain their substantial (I'd say overwhelming) organizational advantage.

And it shows in election results. Many "leftish" ideas poll quite well, but when election day comes, the indivual politicians running have usually been painted as untrustworthy, so the party whose platform they don't agree with gets their votes anyway.

I have no idea what "the MIC" is. Middle Income Caucasians? My point was that the comedians are not helping Perry one whit. Everyone is having a great laugh at his expense. But it looks like people blame the Republicans far more than the Democrats for the mess in Washington. Obama is out polling the Republicans by 47 to 33 percent. That's a 14 point gap.

Documents: The Full Results From The New York Times and CBS News Poll This Poll was taken August 2-3 and the Democrats came out on top in every single poll.

Ron P.

MIC is just military industrial complex.
And thanks for the many truly enlightening comments!

I more with Rock, than Darwinian here. I think heaping scorn generally hurts ones own cause. Now humor done well (and Jon Stewart and Bill Maher are pros) is another matter. The rightwing may get traction with their endless smear campaigns, but i think their campaigns are carefully focus group tested before they are deployed. A bunch of amateurs making it up as they go are likely to have a different effect.

Ron - A real shocker: I have never seen you to be so wrong. LOL. I don't know where you are but I'm in Texas. Before attacks on him began, no one in Texas mentioned the prospect of his running for prez. He was destined to go quietly into the night. Or maybe a shot at the House at best. Now he appears to be drawing, via the MSM, the light away from all the wannabe's including Palin. Even among his supporters in Texas Rick Baby wasn't considered much of a national contender. But now he has been elevated to a near diety level within the state. TPTB are tripping over each other trying to get to him. I've seen it first hand as I skim around the edge of that powerbase. Given how every poll shows the great majority of the population is motivated by their religeous beliefs I have to beleive Rick Baby's national star is on the rise.

FOR ALL: I've read every response to my post and with almost no exception y'all have confirmed my point: y'all don't really understand how to overcome your adversaries. No...you don't bow your head and hide in a closet. But you don't go out into a middle of a crowd and give them all the motivation they need to stone you to death. That's fine if you long to be praised as a martyr...God be Praised! But in doing so you condemened your cause. I live hip deep among the folks you want to mock. Trust me: it's energizing them far beyond what you appear to understand. It's not about whether we're right or not...put your egos away. Elections are not won on the basis of right or wrong. They are determined by turn out. Did the election of President Obama not teach you that?

The fundamentalists and Teabaggers are motivated like I've never seen them in my adult life. Go ahead and keep taking shots at them along with the MSM and enjoy that glow of self satisfaction. But I will be here to throw it in your face when Prez Pretty Boy Rick and an R controlled Congress strips your favorite programs to the bones.

Unfortunately you folks don't seem to know how to win a fight: you're bringing words to a gun fight...and you will lose IMHO. The MSM, ACLU and others have already given Rick Baby tens of $millions of free advertizing to gin up his supporters. While you're at it why not throw some death threats at his family. That would certainly keep his supporters away from the polls on election day. LOL. Trust me: I know how to win and to lose a war. All the tech and good intentions didn't stop a small poorly armed enemy in Viet Nam from defeating us. Motivation was the determining factor...not Phantoms and napalm. It's difficult enough to defeat a small motivated adversary (it ain't the dog in the fight...it's the fight in the dog). How are you going to defeat a motivated adversary when they outnumber you at the polls?

You think the prayer day stunt was an accident? I have had some hints of what's being planned. You ain't seen nothing yet. Perhaps soon every drop of venom that had been spit at Palin will be redirected. And Pretty Boy Rick just can't wait. He doesn't have the pocket book the other players have. He really needs all that free national publicity the left will surely supply IMHO.

Suddenly I feel like the guy trying to take the car keys away from his drunken friend. LOL. I'm trying not to hurt anyone's feelings but you folks don't seem to mix much with "them". I'm surrounded by "them" 24/7. No one has ever hit a trip wire they thought was there. And after the fact? It don't mean sh*it...you'r dead.

Before attacks on him began, no one in Texas mentioned the prospect of his running for prez. He was destined to go quietly into the night. Or maybe a shot at the House at best.

Yeah, and now he is the laughing stock of the nation. And you think that is an improvement?

Even among his supporters in Texas Rick Baby wasn't considered much of a national contender.

Good God man, he is not a contender. He may be a contender for the Republican nomination, or at least every Democrat hopes so, but he is not and never will be a contender for the president.

The fundamentalists and Teabaggers are motivated like I've never seen them in my adult life.

Yes they are. And they are perhaps 30 percent of the population. Everyone else, including yours truly, thinks they are nut cases.

Unfortunately you folks don't seem to know how to win a fight: you're bringing words to a gun fight...and you will lose IMHO.

No we will not! The last time the religious nut cases won a case was the Tennessee Scopes Trial. And though they won that case it was really the beginning of the end for religious fanaticism in government. The religious nut cases will never make a comeback, never!

You think the prayer day stunt was an accident?

No, it was not an accident, the stupid fools did it on purpose. And it will turn out to be the biggest disaster Rick Perry ever engineered.

Rockman, Perry has now been Palinized! If you don't know what that means you will be finding out in the next few months. Sorry about that.

Ron P.

C'mon, Ron. I was in highschool when Jimmy Carter came out of nowhere. Folks said the same things... I know, a different time, different politics, but who'd have thought that a christian farmer exgov from GA would rise to the top.

There are a lot of folks praying for a messiah, and if they can't get one, they'll take the closest thing they can get. BushBoy got elected twice (sort of), but never would have gotten there without his born again credentials. Methinks you underestimate the 'power of prayer'. Besides, what else have the Rebugs put out there so far? Two Mormons, two bimbos, and black pizza salesman from SC.

Things could look pretty bad by the time Obama faces re-election....

BTW: Meaning no disrespect to Jon Huntsman. The Rebublican's could do a lot worse....

If I were Jimmy Carter I could not think of a greater insult than being compared with Rick Perry. Carter was a liberal who believed that our dependence on fossil energy was a path to disaster, who put solar panels on the White House and who wanted to bring about an age of renewable energy. Rick Perry is the exact opposite of everything Jimmy Carter was.

Sure Jimmy Carter came out of nowhere but he was not a right wing nut case as Perry is. Jimmy Carter was religious but he did not invite pray right wing evangelists to a massive outdoor prayer meeting and pretend that God can and will fix everything if we only elect a bunch or Tea Party nut cases and put one in the White House.

Ron P.

I'm sure President Carter would understand that my comparison was purely political, commenting on the fickle nature of the US electorate, not the character of the candidates. After GWB, I've decided that character is a minor issue. It's all about what you can get folks to believe, especially the 'believers'.

Ghung, about Jimmy Carter. I worked as a volunteer on his campaign staff for a few months after the convention. I had just moved back to Atlanta from California and was filled with the idea that renewable energy was the future. I didn't last long, since I was the only guy who showed up with long hair, hiking boots, a book bag and riding a bicycle. Having been away in California for 9 years, I did not know of Carter and what I learned later was that Carter was a member of the Trilateral Commission, a group put together by David Rockefeller. The group's founding director was Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Most people probably still don't know that many of the top people who entered his administration were also members of the Trilateral Commission beforehand. Look at this list of members and ask yourself whether it was just a coincidence that these people have been in front of the news for decades. The idea that Carter was a front for the establishment (rather likd
Bush the Younger?) may seem like a wingnut conspiracy theory, but I saw what happened after the convention and Mondale's crew moved in and push aside the loyal workers who helped Carter win the nomination.

As for this next election, isn't it strange that the campaigning is already starting, given that the primary elections aren't going to happen for many months? Maybe tho folks first who are presently considered front runners are just there to draw the media into a frenzy in order to build up public interest. Later, the anointed candidate(s) will step up and take the lead. Sometimes, it's better to pace yourself, running behind until a sprint at the end allows one to overtake the exhausted leaders...

E. Swanson

I worked on the Carter Center (Carter Presidential Library) for about a year, met the Prez several times. As you said, he wouldn't have gotten far had he not been the "darlin'" of the TLC.

My guess is that some powerful people are taking a good hard look at Perry about now (i.e. Koch Bros.). This next election will be all about the establishment (Obama & Wall St.) vs. the Kochs, Grover Norquist, etc., and Tea Party politics. The hard right is easily motivated, well funded, and seems to have momentum (witness the debt debate outcome). It's gonna be interesting to watch, though it's going to be a sure lose/lose for thinking folks.

Methinks the Citizens United monster will rear it's ugly head in ways we can't imagine during the next 15 months. This has all the makings of a real political gross out.

I think they are starting early because the field on the Republican side is wide open. And dark horse such as Rick, think they might as well give it a go. IMO Rick's moment of fame will probably be a short one, thats just the odds for any relatively unknown at this point in time. Once seen as a threat, the other contendors begin scheming to bring him down. and only one tea-party type can come out on top, and many know the formula, thats a very crowded field, because the cost of entry isn't very high. But, he has probably earned himself a shot at the conservative celebrity pantheon, so even if his political career goes nowhere, he can probably gain by this.

Remember Palin was loved by the R base. And all she could do was scream about liberals, and get their hatred in return. But, that was all that was needed to launch a career in the spotlight for her.

And enough people thought the quick rise and trilateral commission connections was a bit hinky such that Reagan was stumping about he was gonna have investigations into the secret societies.

Then Ronnie picked Bonesman Bush (who called ReagonNomics Voodoo Economics). And thus the commission never happened.

Ron - Interesting view you have there. Reminds me very much of Robert McNamara's (may he rot in hell..if there really is one) expectation of how readily we would win the war in Viet Nam. His logic could not be denied.

I do understand of how folks' expectation of what they want to happen can make it diifcult to accept the realities of their hopes not being fullfilled. You just gave a good list of reason why the R's couldn't take control of the House in the last election. How's that working for you friend?

Trust me: I hope my expectations are wrong wrong. But like the ole (modified) saying: The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong. But that's how you bet.

You just gave a good list of reason why the R's couldn't take control of the House in the last election. How's that working for you friend?

Rockman, now you are just making up stuff. Nothing I said had anything to do with the last election. That is just not like you Rockman. What has gotten into you?

Before the last election few outside the radical right fully realized what a bunch of extreme religious nut cases the Tea Baggers really were. Now they know. Rick Perry has been literally advertising that fact.

Ron P.

Ron - That's correct: we're not talking about the last election or any other election for that matter. We're talking about motivating an opposing force against one's own best interest.

And you make my point perfectly: "Before the last election few outside...fully realized what a bunch of extreme religious nut cases...". Just as folks are failing to realize those nut cases are not only still there but also mobilizing stronger than ever thanks to the attacks on them. I'm pretty sure you know this but these are not peace loving compassionate folks who wear their hearts on their sleeves. They rejoice in the belief the likes of you and me will burn in hell for ever. Remember this is the gene pool abortion doctor killers arise from. Give them the upper hand and they'll be glad to deliver hell on earth for our benefit.

And:"Rick Perry has been literally advertising that fact." And exactly who do you think he's advertizing to? Whether you like it or not Pretty Boy Rick has been one of the most popular politicians in Texas for decades...and it's paid off big time for him. And he got that way by pitching himself directly at the folks you scoff at. Folks can keep mocking them and help PBR or a clone straight into the White House. And Texas is just one part of the large Flyover Country.

And stop changing the subject: we're talking about the negativity that's fueling the ambitions of the far right. You and everyone in the MSM can keep calling them "extreme religious nut cases". I'm sure the Republican party would be glad to pay y'all a $ every time it happens. I wish all the folks on TOD who don't buy my pitch could sit in a Golden Corral in Dallas on a Sunday after church. You might start to get a sense of the absolute hate being generated in these folks by the attacks on them. And that hate manifests itself in campaign contributions and voter turnout. OK...this is a tad over the top: the name calling is pushing those folks into an Al-Qaeda state of mine. This is becoming as much a holy war to them as anything else. We just saw a horrible example of that mindset in Sweden. And as terrible as that was would it not be worse to have a group of ultraconservative controlling the WH and both Houses? Keep p*ssing those folks off and you may just to see that happen.

Didn't anybody on TOD learn about street fighting as a child. You smile and submit..for the moment. And then when they aren't looking you knock them down and kick their ribs in. There's a reason I still have all my teeth. LOL.

Rockman, this article in the Huffington Post makes my point.

God's record of response to public prayers is no better than chance. The record of political leaders who wrap themselves in the Lord's mantle is even worse.

Wrapping yourself in the Lord's mantle sometimes works on the state level but it never works on the national level.

In April, 2011 the popularity of the Tea Party had fallen 15 points from a year before. < Tea Party: Better Known, Less Popular

Since last March, the percentage saying they disagree with the movement has grown 15 points while the percentage saying they agree with the Tea Party has remained mostly unchanged (24% March 2010, 22% April 2011.)

But that was in March. Today the situation for the Tea Party is much, much worse.
Poll: Tea Party popularity tanks after debt ceiling showdown

The movement's unpopularity jumped to 40 percent, up from 29 percent in late April. And House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) now sports what Slate columnist Dave Wiegel calls a "Gingrichian" disapproval rating of 57 percent.

You wrote: Just as folks are failing to realize those nut cases are not only still there but also mobilizing stronger than ever thanks to the attacks on them.

No, no I fully realize that the Tea Party nut cases are getting really angry and this is making them stronger in their resolve to turn this nation into a Christian nation. But this is the Tea Party that is getting mad, the rest of the people of the nation are laughing their butts off at their expense. These people are making a laughing stock of themselves. And they are laughing at Rick Perry the most of all.

Ron P.

59% of Americans living in Western states (the "Unchurched Belt") report a belief in God, yet in the South (the "Bible Belt") the figure is as high as 86%

from wikipedia

Here's an interesting, perhaps controversial, article on the subject.

America's own Taliban

The ultimate goal is to replace a secular democracy, both in America and around the world, with a Christian theocracy, an ideology known as "dominionism".

Regarding Perry, IMHO it's all about the votes. One article I read stated he has been in office many years and only recently has attented a prayer rally.

The ONLY reason that the taliban has suicide bombers, beheadings and the like and kill like they do is that there is no strong central government to stop them. when and if these guys dismantle the government from within expect bombing and mass hangings of those not of their sect.

Perry's supporters might be in the majority in Texas, but other states are quite different.

And for that matter, I would have thought that any governor that advocated secession would be automatically disqualified from higher office. In our state of Virginia, we have quite a bit of local history that continually reminds us how badly those kinds of things can work out, and that it is pretty irresponsible for Perry to toss out comments like that (even if it was in jest).

I'm solidly with Rock on this one. Don't underestimate the emotional appeal that Perry can generate with the "religious right". I am telling you, no matter what state you live in, they grow on trees in the rural, exurban areas. They eat, breathe and die these issues.

Throw some hot button issues on the ballot in key states, social issues at that, and viola!

Thats true. I still blame SF mayor Gavin Newsome for Kerry's defeat in 04. He had to push the gay marriage thing. And that brought those folks out in droves. Partly this whole religious backlash is a response to social changes many are not ready for.

EOS - And to clarify I'm not so much predicting a Perry presidential win (or that he will even run...this time). If he did get into the race I would expect him to be the VP pick for the likes of Bachman. And that possibility should scare the heck out of every liberal in the country IMHO. LOL.

But the general statement is that the conservative religious right can become an strong election force when properly motivated. An anecdote that doesn't prove my point but is still interesting. Two of my coworkers (accountants) are in their upper 20's and have both expressed strong conservative interest in the next presidential election even though neither has ever voted in one before. One is a Christian that has taken great offense to being classified as a nut case. She's actually a nice gal with no extreme positions...such as she's NOT anti-abortion. But she takes those insults and mockery as directed at her personally. She just joined her church's Get The Vote Out Committee.

Advertisers spend $billions trying to motivate folks. If I were an ad exec and a conservative client paid me to help him get out the vote I wouldn't launch commercials with cute white clad Christian girls asking their "family" to do the right thing. That ain't going to get them to the polls. But ads condemning them as superstitious fools who will soon be silenced by the elite of this country...that'll do the trick IMHO. Same goes for the Tea baggers. The MSM slamming them day after day certainly kept the R's from taking over the House, right?

And ericy: big difference - Texas won it's war of indepedence...your state didn't. Just a friendly jab. I get your point but you don't get mine: doesn't matter if the majority of voters in the next election are right or not. It seems to me bad ideas win just about as often good ones these days. The phrase is "The majority rules" and not "The majority is correct".

Rockman, it can never happen. William Jennings Bryan lost his bids to become president because he was such a religious fanatic. Even way back then the people of the US was not willing to elect a religious fanatic.

When Pat Robertson ran for president I heard Christians predict he would win by a landslide because Christians had such a vast majority of the electorate. How did that work out for you friend?

Sorry to use your line there but I just couldn't resist. ;-)

Ron P.

"I have no doubt we would get a lot of folks to stop watching "American Idle" and listen to NPR"

I'm no NPR fan, but your point is correct. I actually came up with something of a quote on another blog today, going off of the news of last night.

Jersey Shore got upgraded and America got downgraded!

I'm not certain about causation or any correlation of the two, but I think they may be connected. :(

wildman - I listen to NPR both ways on my commute. They do at times slide a little liberal spin on some of their stories. Unlike folks who bitch about the conservative spin on Fox it doesn't bother me in the least. I'm fairly confident (read stubborn) in my positions. What I like about NPR is that they put out more facts and less fluff than all the rest of the media combined IMHO. I like facts. Opinions for the most part, whether I agree with them or not, are boring.

Give NPR few more chances and try to forget their occasional left slant. You might find the effort worthwhile. As far as TV news goes I'll still watch Fox News while getting dressed in the morning. But I'll still mute it at times. I just think they have the best looking news babes around. Except for one of our local weather babes. But she only pops up every 7 minutes. Hey...you get your cheap thrills where you can, right?

NPR "a little liberal spin"

They are drowning in liberal spin.

That depends on your definition of liberal. I think the right has succedded in moving the Overton window so far to the right, that for example Richard Nixon would now be too far to the left to win a Democratic primary. A better way to watch the news, is to watch both sides, and be somewhat skeptical about the sources. Facts is facts. And if you can sort out the facts, and let the spin bounce off your thick skull, you can get a decent picture, even if your sources are untrustworthy.

ed - Yes...I was being a tad generous. But I find that if I focus on that I miss the useful/interesting info. And just like in combat, it's as important to understand your advisary's position as your own force. If it helps just picture yourself as a conservative SEAL sticking your nose under their tent.

National Petroleum Radio is center right, at best.
Stenographers for the corporate elite, and the Pentagon.

Thank you.

If one wants something more left then listen to Thom Hartmann, or Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, or Ring of Fire...

Yeesh, you guys are making me glad I don't watch American TV. Mind you I don't watch any TV for that matter.


Hmmm, yet you don't seem to have developed very good reading skills: as indicated by ht above, the R in NPR stands for 'radio.'

The conversation did not refer to TV at all.

:) Actually it was about the TV a while up. Don't go for radio either. Let us just make that canned media in general.


Rock I didn't say I didn't listen to it every so often, but I'm just not a fan.

My point was that I would rather have people paying attention, rather than what they are doing now even if that means listening to NPR.

For some odd reason I mostly listen to NPR when I'm traveling out of South Louisiana, don't know why.

My favorite Talk show host is economist Walter E. Williams, he is second to none.

Question re: this religious thing, and thank you all for the above comments..

upstream quote: "Rock. You pretty much hit it right on. However when I was young, it didn't seem like religion was so tied up with politics. And I don't receall any great anti-science movement either -certainly not one endorsed by a major political party."

I thought there was a formal separation of Church and State, in the US, and yet.....if a politician is not a religious fundamentalist...he/she will not get elected. Is this not right?

I grew up the first few years as a Lutheran in California, a Minn transplant. One day at church, (and this was when the Viet Nam war was cranking up), friends of my folks remarked that they had a son killed over there. He was a friend of my brothers. My folks were shaken at how they stated that they accepted it because the war was for their country and it was God's will. Shortly thereafter, I remember a midnight argument in our house where my mom insisted we give it all up and move back home to Canada. Thank you mom.

In Canadian schools (1968) we said the Lords Prayer every morning, and there was a short Bible reading over the school loud speaker. Girls were not allowed to wear pants, jeans were frowned upon, and we played Rugby instead of US football. As time went by girls wore jeans and hot pants and the Bible stuff went away as regard for those in our society who are not Christians. And yet in the separated US, the Pledge was said facing a flag. No religion allowed. However, we still have Christmas Break, and Easter weekend is long for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Go figure.

No one knew if our PM or Provincial Premiers went to church and no one cared or cares because we believe that personal beliefs are personal, and if we respect the individual then it will follow that we will respect that person's beliefs and/or their right to hold them (within reason).

There seems to be a disconnect, here. US founded on Religious freedom, with a formal separation of Church and state to ensure the State cannot repress any one religion (including atheists, I suppose). Canada....religion in schools, traditional, more European without formal regard for religion in civil institutions. In fact, misconduct by religious organaizations is under intense scrutiny right now due to our residential school persecution of the First Nation children, and the paedophilia rampant in the Catholic system. There is intense scrutiny right now.

In Victoria BC, Reverend Al, recently retired, (Google him and 'Our Place') exemplifies the the giving and service of Christian doctrine. Down the street, at Parliament and in Govt., nary a religious word is stirred into Govt policy or discourse.

Where I live there is a nut job who believes that God is placing oil in the ground as fast as humans need it, and yet he is respected as being a fine mechanic, great community member, and for his service. In fact, our local strong Mennonite church is very well respected and even yours truly has donated to them for their community fund. Very few in our valley go to Church and no one really cares.

Why is there such a difference in our cultures? And, why is so much religion in the States seemingly focused on the divine right of Americans to consume the world's resources, consume and consumerism itself, as a divine right, and literally kill different folks who seem to get in their way?

Perhaps the US experiment is a poster child for the idea of 'we are exactly what we said we would never be'. Or, perhaps it is just a variance of that old adage....."power corrupts, completely". I think it is both.



Thank you for your reasoned perspective.

Let's go straight to the blatant examples of the egregious, toxic use of the false robes of Christian devoutness used to support the evil intent of invading other countries for their oil (namely Iraq):

I urge all of you to read the article at this link (U.K. Daily Mail) and read the bible quotes slathered all over the opening slides of classified military briefings given in, and about, the Iraq war.

For those of you not from the military, please do not get your knickers in a twist worrying about the classification caveats on the slides embedded in this article...the first slide, by itself, is unclassified...the caveats refer to most of the rest of the slides in the briefing gs.


One of the many examples found on the actual U.S> military 'top brass' breifing slides, as depicted in the Daily Mail expose:

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Ephesians 6:13

This article stands as an ironclad indictment of the use of Christian Crusader jingoism to charge and rally the troops to go forth and subjugate the Islamic peoples...in the covert service of our 'Three Days of the Condor' secret energy policy.

Oh, and get a load of this crapola:


Air Force Pulls Christian Ethics Briefing
Briefing Focused On Ethics Of Nuclear Weapon Use

By Barbara Starr and Jennifer Rizzo, CNN
POSTED: 10:29 am PDT August 4, 2011

Many of the slides in the 43 page presentation use a Christian justification for war, displaying pictures of saints like Saint Augustine and using biblical references.

"Abraham organized an Army to rescue Lot," one slide read, referring to the story of the Hebrew patriarch and his nephew found in the book of Genesis.

"Revelation 19:11 Jesus Christ is the mighty warrior," another slide read.


Here is a link straight to the slides (the Christian war justification stuff starts on slide 17 and on..also note the quote from Wernher von Braun regarding how he and his cronies felt comfort in surrendering the nuclear/missile technologies to a country that believed in the Bible (wait a minute, former SS officer, didn't the Germans believe in the Bible???)


Wow, this disgusts me...using Christian biblical references to justify the morality of employing nuclear weapons to new troops??????

I am going to send a donation to Mikey Weinstein...he has been battling the influence of that idiot James Dobson on the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for years...

Anyone here want to vote for Perry/Bachmann?

Gentleman, the missiles are flying. Hallelujah!

Elections matter. It is not just about the price of oil...

Twisting the bible to support evil should we call that satanism?

The reward for those that serve satan is death. Welcome to the military.

Twisting the bible to support evil

Wait. Are you talking about Ann Coulter again?

(Did you catch her on C-SPAN Book review today? Simply Demonic.)

Here is one more nugget I discovered on the intertubes that will keep intelligent folks who have enough background to grasp the issues up at night:



Hering served in Vietnam in the Air Rescue Service. 21 years into his Air Force career, while serving as a Minuteman missile crewman and expecting a promotion to lieutenant colonel,he posed the following question during training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in late 1973:

"How can I know that an order I receive to launch my missiles came from a sane president?"

The Single Integrated Operational Plan specifies that, when the National Command Authority issues an order to use nuclear weapons, the order will filter down the chain of command. The two-man rule requires that at each stage, two operators independently verify and agree that the order is valid. In the case of the Minuteman missile, this is done by comparing the authorization code in the launch order against the code in the Sealed Authenticator, a special sealed envelope which holds the code; if both operators agree that the code matches, the launch must be executed. According to journalist Ron Rosenbaum, Hering's question exposed a flaw in the very foundation of this doctrine:

"What if [the president's] mind is deranged, disordered, even damagingly intoxicated? ... Can he launch despite displaying symptoms of imbalance? Is there anything to stop him?"

Rosenbaum says that the answer is no: to this day, the nuclear fail-safe protocols are entirely concerned with the president's identity, not his sanity.

Hering was pulled from training and, unable to receive a satisfactory reply, requested reassignment to different duties. Instead, the Air Force issued an administrative discharge for "failure to demonstrate acceptable qualities of leadership". Hering appealed the discharge, and at the Air Force Board of Inquiry, the Air Force stated that knowing whether or not a launch order is lawful is beyond the executing officer's need to know.

But, sleep tight...why should the American citizenry/taxpayers have any right to know what they are paying for and whether it is logical and safe?

Kind of makes worries over the DOW drop recede in importance...except, if there is increased collapse of BAU with probable attendant political and social strife, and we elect an unstable savior or strongman/fuhrer and Mr. Faber's vague prediction of another (large scale) war come to pass...lack of robust controls at the top could lead to undesired outcomes for the World...ones that make driving less and eating less meat and rolling blackouts seem most trivial.

What if [the president's] mind is deranged, disordered, even damagingly intoxicated

What a strange question to ask about President Nixon.

In systems design terms, the President's mind constitutes a single point of failure. You never want to design a mission-critical system with a single point of failure.

This is why, in many countries, the head of the administration is not the head of the military. It eliminates the single point of failure. For instance, in Britain the Prime Minister is the head of the administration, but the Queen is the head of the military.

The PM has to go and politely ask the Queen for permission to start a war, and if, for instance, a PM lost it and decided to nuke France, the Queen would probably say, "I don't think so". OTOH, if the Queen decided to nuke France on her own authority, her advisers would probably quietly lock her away in the Tower and tell the press that she was not feeling well enough for interviews.

You ever heard of allegations about the existence of the 'Letters of Last Resort'?



and then there is the story of the Dead Hand...


sleep tight...

Good article on the immorality of the US military.


"The presentation concludes with a statement by a Captain Charles H. Nicholls that I wholeheartedly agree with: "Those of us on missile or bomber crews must also make the decision now. Before taking the oath of office or donning the uniform, we must commit ourselves to duty. We must decide now that our mission is compatible with our morality, or else we must resign our commissions." This is a great statement. I would say – nuclear mission or no nuclear mission – that since so much of what the military does is immoral (like, for instance, bombing, invading, and occupying other countries that were no threat to the United States), those young people that can’t find a good job or are looking for money for college should not even consider the military in any capacity. And to those entrusted with nuclear weapons, we can only hope and pray that they resign their commissions. God will not bless them for launching nukes just because they were following the orders of political and military decision makers."

In his history EMPIRE, Niall Ferguson has a section "The Clash of Civilizations" in which he describes the attempts of Christian missionaries to work in India.

Early on, the East India Company had limited clergy to ministering to the British and not to the Indians on the reasonable basis that mucking with local culture would only cause trouble for their business ventures and their ability to administer the various areas of the subcontinent.

However, from around 1815, various missionary societies began to form and push more and more for entry of missionaries to enlighten the benighted Indians. This effort expanded in a major way in the 1830s and ultimately led to the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, which was a full scale rebellion against British meddling in Indian culture and society. Although it was put down ferociously, it marked the beginning of the end for British rule in India.

I think its a tough battle. Today it is largely rural people with very "conservative" religious values that send their kids to the military. So you start out with a lot of recruits ready to fall for that stuff. And in a place like Iraq and Afghanistan, the locals hardly need any excuse to paint the occupirs as crusaders. So you gotta be squeeky clean in this matter if you are to have any hope of winning hearts and minds. Only a few scattered leaks are needed to spoil the whole campaign.

BTW. my favorite literature about this was Mark Twains "The War Prayer", written I think in opposition to the Spanish American war. Using religion to sell/support war is nothing new. As is the inverse- religion using war to spread itself.

Paulo, what is up with the high level of Muslim immigration into Canada? What are Canadians thinking?

I think the formalities probably matter psychologically, maybe in a negative pschology sort of way. Europe is even more formally religious in its government. Many states even a a state religion (think Churh of England (now Anglican I think)). And formal prayers may be commonplace, and people go through the motions. Most countries of a Christain Democratic party. I'm guessing that when the religious don't feel threatened or discriminated against (not being able to do your prayer in public school etc.) they don't feel a need to defend it politically. On this side of the border, rightwing talk radio always makes a big thing about the "war on Christmass", which as far as I can tell consists of little more than a few municipalities not setting up nativity displays with public funds. But, they must know it helps them with their base, so they make a very big thing about what apears to me to be a trifle.

I don't think one actually needs to be fundamentalist to win political office in the US. But, you gotta have the trappings of belief, or else your career is doomed.

For a long time, the United States had a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant governing elite, where the "Protestant" was mostly Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregationalist.

After WW II, the WASP establishment gradually lost its grip as other ethnic groups, especially those arrived after the Civil War, became assimilated and upwardly mobile. Had they not, the election of a Kennedy and an Obama would have been pretty much unthinkable.

Many of the great universities had also been established by the WASP "state religions" and were conciously modeled after the great universities of Britain. But after WW II there was an influx of Middle Europeans into the faculties, who brought with them the intellectual outlook of their homelands. British piety and Middle European intellectualism do not mix well and the latter has largely won out. The mainstream Protestant religions lost the battle between theology and philosophy and degenerated into social organizations with charitable goals.

I think another thing we've seen happen in the US is the rise of the religion as a business first model. The mainstream denominations have a great concern for doctrine, and are largely run by religious scholars, who seek to keep the denomination from following the 'right path". But, we've seen the rise of megachurches, who actively compete for dues paying members. And those that preach what the customer wants to hear, rather than what the scholar-priests have devined are winning customers. Given the choice between listening to "prosperity doctrine [god wants you to be rich], or tradition Christian doctrine [Jesus said it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle], customers are choosing the former. It should be no surprise that the things many of todays Christians profess to believe in wouldn't be recognizably Christian to a churchgoer from a century ago.

It should be no surprise that the things many of todays Christians profess to believe in wouldn't be recognizably Christian to a churchgoer from a century ago.

A century ago many of today's commonly held "Christian beliefs" would have been labelled "heresy" and been put to rest. And anyone with a modicum of familiarity with the writings of the Church Fathers would recognize these newfangled views as variations on ancient Gnosticism - with its separation of spirit from matter and emphasis on a "knowing elite" possessed with an "inside track" to God. Harold Bloom, literary critic, has chronicled the creep of Gnosticism into the American religious experience. In his book, Omens of a Millennium", he describes the United States as, for all intents and purposes, a Gnostic country. Bishop N.T. Wright, a stalwart traditionalist of Anglican orthodoxy, has identified ways in which this Gnosticism is influencing even the way mainline Protestants of the United Kingdom think. Nor has the impact of American consumer driven "religion" been limited to the English speaking world. The "prosperity doctrine" is a pretty well a standard strain of Christian belief in the emerging Korean Church. St. John Chrysostom, and all other early Christian writers, would not have been amused.

My favourite (please note my sarcasm) of the contemporary Christian evangelical diet is the "rapture". First formulated by the maverick (and one could argue a bit unhinged) Church of Ireland and Plymouth Brethren cleric and firebrand, John Nelson Darby, he was first to come up with the bizarre notion that Christ will suddenly remove His bride, the Church, from this world before the judgments of the tribulation. Needless to say his unconventional opinions, irreverence, and somewhat off-the-wall theology did not endear him to his colleagues and he left the established Church. He is also the father, so to speak, of Christian Zionism which is also pervasive among today's American TV and megachurch evangelicals. His views were made popular in the United States when adopted by Cyrus Schofield and presented in the Schofield Reference Bible. It is beyond me why Jesus would spare those who enjoy a comfortably living and somewhat pampered and overindulged existence the messiness of his so-called "wrath" while sending out his closest friends, the disciples, to engage the messiness of the world and endure persecution for the sake of the Gospel. So much for "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." Obviously, the easy way out is what is prescribed for latter day disciples. Mind you the Beatitudes, and indeed the whole Sermon on the Mount, is lost on many people's understanding of Christianity, so perhaps this should no longer come as any great surprise.

That old time religion, well she aint what she use to be.

Since there is separation of church and state, there is nothing that prevents anyone who wishes to create a new Christian sect (or a new religion of any kind) from doing so. Within Christianity in the United States there have been four "Great Awakenings", and each has spawned a number of new schismatic groups, most of which are further subdivided by nuances of doctrine, geography, and organizational politics.

As a result: List of Christian Denominations

Thanks Zadok,

I found your historical insights most interesting.

I also will enjoy exploring the list of Christian denominations at the Wikipedia link you posted; I will find study of this history and sociology and psychology fascinating.

Zadok, you have done an excellent job of encapsulating some important points about key aspects of the belief system underlying many Christian evangelical churches.

I would add a bit from my own experience. After a life changing experience several years ago, my son became active in fundamentalist churches. My wife and myself went to a service at one of these. There were several things I found particularly striking:
- It was emphasized that the world was coming to an end in 2047 and that there was absolute certainty on this point;
- The idea that God would most assuredly bring material success to his true believers was also heavily promoted.

I had the feeling that most of what I had always considered to be fundamental Christian principles had been turned upside down. At the same time, the whole spectacle was carried off in a masterful way. Although I was rather appalled by what I saw and heard, I could sense the attraction of the message. There were a large number of people in attendance, many of whom, like my son, were young, and I had no doubt that most of those participating were enthusiastic participants.

It would seem to me that there are a substantial number of people who have completely bought into a belief system whose promises cannot possibly be delivered for more than a few of its adherents. It is rather frightening to think of where this will lead.

w_smith, thanks for the feedback on you and your wife's experience at your son's church.

It would seem to me that there are a substantial number of people who have completely bought into a belief system whose promises cannot possibly be delivered for more than a few of its adherents. It is rather frightening to think of where this will lead.

For the majority, they will internalize the failure as something they have done personally - woe is me, a sinner. If righteousness and prosperity are connected in the mind, then falling on hard times will be an indication that one has "fallen short of the glory of God." The hopeful news, if I may call it that, is that each would be less likely to stand in eager anticipation of the rapture in troubling times. For all intents and purposes, the train will have already left the station without them.

The upside is that this trauma may eventually engender a greater sense of compassion. It is far easier to suffer with others, and relate to their suffering, if you can put yourself directly in their shoes. Compassion comes readily to those who realize we're all in the same boat and we're all seasick.

the rise of the religion as a business first model.

The rise?

Religion has a long history of being about money 1st. Knights Templar. The Vatican in Rome. 1950's TV preacher and 1920 radio donation "fraud". Sci-Fi authors starting their own religions.

China blasts U.S. over debt problems, calls for dollar oversight

"China, the largest creditor of the world's sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China's dollar assets," Xinhua said.

China also urged the United States to apply "common sense" to "cure its addiction to debts" by cutting military and social welfare expenditure.

"The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone," Xinhua wrote.

China also said further credit downgrades would very likely undermine the world economic recovery and trigger fresh rounds of financial turmoil.

"International supervision over the issue of U.S. dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country," Xinhua said.

I can't argue with the 'common sense approach' advocacy...cut defense, cut-non-defense (50% each over a few years of phase-in), raise revenues 20-25%.

Now if I could give some advice to China...don't fall into the same trap (building ghost cities, thousands of miles of highways, etc) and take a good look at what you have done, and are presently doing, to the environment in China...and note that some pollution does not respect staying in your borders...I would also ask them why they need a big military build-up...who exactly is going to threaten to invade them again? Or is it to intimidate and perhaps inade Taiwan, and to intimidate neighboring countries and to forcefully stake China's claim to whatever FFs are under the South China Sea?

I would also ask them why they need a big military build-up

On one reading, it's a status symbol... eighteen-year-olds get cars, countries get aircraft carriers.

On another reading, the leaders of one major world power are looking increasingly unstable and under the control of a religious mania. This country has repeatedly interfered in the domestic affairs of other countries with disastrous results. If I were a Chinese policymaker, I'd be taking defensive measures. Even religious zealots can be dissuaded by a big stick.

On one reading, it's a status symbol... eighteen-year-olds get cars, countries get aircraft carriers.

Not much new under the sun, is there?

It might be worthwhile to look at this picture comparing models of Zheng He's ships to Columbus'


Note: There is some dispute about the true size of the largest ships in his fleet, Some modern scholars consider these descriptions to be exaggerated.

But, even so...

I think some of the size estimates are based on wrecks. We have a replica of one of Columbus's ships here and it ain't very big at all. Maybe the Cutty Sark might be an interesting comparison.


The Cutty Sark was about 3 times the length and 16 times the tonnage of Columbus' flagship, the Santa Maria.

The Chinese junks were huge, but they weren't particularly seaworthy, and couldn't go to windward worth a darn. Columbus' ships weren't very big, but they were much more seaworthy and more capable of a transatlantic crossing. For Zheng He's ships it would have been a one-way trip. For Kublai Khan's fleets in his two invasions of Japan, it did become a one-way trip because typhoons destroyed most of the ships. Archaeological evidence shows that, although huge, they were very poorly built and unseaworthy.

The Vikings managed to reach North American in their knarr, which were even smaller than Columbus' ships.

It is suspected that English and Basque fisherman were fishing off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland before Columbus reached North America, but didn't tell anyone about it because they wanted to keep the fish for themselves. Their tough little fishing boats were perfectly capable of reaching North America. Within a few years of Columbus' voyage, North American waters were full of them.

I would also ask them why they need a big military build-up...who exactly is going to threaten to invade them again? Or is it to intimidate and perhaps inade Taiwan, and to intimidate neighboring countries and to forcefully stake China's claim to whatever FFs are under the South China Sea?

Bingo, they plan to extend their influence from the FF rich region of Central Asia, to the water rich region of South Asia to the resource rich region of South China Sea.

That's why they are exclusively focusing on the Navy and Air Force, more to project their power. They have lower concerns when it comes to guarding their homeland.

China also urged the United States to apply "common sense" to "cure its addiction to debts" by cutting military and social welfare expenditure.

"The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone," Xinhua wrote.

China has been subsidizing a great deal of the military and welfare expenditures in the US by continuing to lend the US money.

However, it appears that Chinese patience with America's free-spending habits is at an end and they are becoming increasingly annoyed at the refusal of American politicians to accept reality. In future, the subsidies for America's spending are going to come from.... Well, nowhere, actually. Nobody else has enough money to bail the US out of its problems.

Americans are going to have to accept higher taxes and lower spending or.... Nothing. Maybe riots and a lot of social unrest, but nothing in terms of a functioning government or a working economy.

China’s complaining about the USD is smoke and mirrors because in reality they target an exchange rate rather than a specific mix of FX reserves.
After China receives dollars from exports it has several decisions to make. They can exchange the dollars for RMB but if they were to do that the RMB would likely significantly increase in value and therefore China would no longer be competitive and exports to the US would greatly decrease. The decision to keep dollars leads to another choice – whether to accept credit risk by putting the dollars in a demand deposit in a bank and accepting the credit risk of that bank or to use the dollars to purchase treasuries. Clearly they have decided that they rather take the credit risk of the US than the credit risk of the banking system.
The exchange rate argument is also why it is extremely unlikely that China would dump it’s UST holdings – the RMB would strengthen immediately, thereby killing dollar denominated exports.

In the meanwhile even just this year the value of the stash of Treasuries they already have has significantly increased in value because of the 70bp yield compression. 5 year notes are up over 5% this year, plus they have been receiving a 2% coupon.


China is only concerned that we might stop buying goods before they can balance their economy with internal consumption.

Nobody likes the status quo better than the Chinese. I imagine they'd like to get past the population hump before we crash.

in 2010 China exported about 456B to the US and imported about 364B for a net or 273B in exports. Their GDP is say 5.8T so that's about 5% of their GDP and about 1.9% of US GDP.

Globally China exported about 1.570T and imported 1.39T for a net of 183B in exports.
So china 183/5,800= 3.15% of GDP dependent on exports does actually not seem so extreme.


China uses most of the dollars they get from US exports to buy imports, such as oil, raw material, electronic components, capital goods, etc. In other words, much goes to Australia, Brazil, Chile, the MidEast, Africa, Taiwan, Japan, etc.

Chinese Imports Slow but Exports Rise

Exports reached a record of $162 billion in June, while imports for the month were $139.7 billion. That left the country with a trade surplus of $22.3 billion in June, compared with $13.1 billion in May.

We need an honest gauge of the falling value of the dollar. I would say Americans are already accepting lower incomes and lower pensions, social security.

On the Chinese; buyer beware.

Yeah but...

The Chinese did not buy Treasury notes to benefit the US, they did this to devalue their own currency in order to keep Chinese exports cheap (to our detriment).

In addition, this excess credit played a big role in creating the financial bubble that has now collapsed. The US would have been better off without 2 trillion in houses that are too big, too expensive and built next to nowhere.

On this issue, I have nothing but crocodile tears for the Chinese.

Further, the US Government is not currently in financial trouble. US national debt is modest relative to most industrialized Democracies.

US treasury notes are selling at negative real interest.

In the future, unfunded US obligations will be a real problem, but that is an issue for another day.

Looks like they have started to realise that the US is going to inflate its debt away, and the repayments they get wont be worth the money they lent.

There have been some people complaining lately that the Upstream index of oil prices is not updated often enough. Well the EIA tracks the same ones tracked by Upstream but far but virtually all the indexes of the world. They also give us the average US price, (not just WTI) and the average world price. And they are updated weekly. They are reported every Wednesday with the average price for the week ending the previous Friday.
World Crude Oil Prices

I noticed that the average world price is almost always above the average world price, usually less than one dollar. But that gap widened starting about 1005 and the gap suddenly jumped even wider starting around January 2011. The data can be downloaded to Excel for easy comparison.

Chart of average world crude oil price above average US crude oil price.

World Oil Price comparison

But remember the average world price has all the US indexes averaged in. The difference would be far more pronounced if there was a world index of average oil prices that did not include US prices.

Ron P.

Its just WTI driving the big variation. Take WTI out of the indexes and most of that variation will disappear.

I saw some posts on ArmsControlWonk regarding the perennial bogeymen of EMP and Solar Coronal Mass Ejection events, and thought I would do my part to pass it along...






How much of a threat is EMP and CMEs? There are great uncertainties.

How much of a threat is EMP and CMEs?

CME isn't something Man can control.

EMP is via high atmosphere nuclear reactions.

Man-based EMP is likely to be very targetable. A CME is luck of the draw as to what part of the planet is facing the CME. A CME is likely to have warning - in theory not so with an EMP.

If the people 'in charge' of Nuclear Weapons think they'd obtain an advantage via EMP - they would get used. Thus the threat is - does one think Man would do such to their fellow Man?

Warning! it's 7 megabytes;


If you just go to the empcommision.org site you can get it in smaller bites.

From Foreign Policy magazine online:

Who's to Blame if We Double-Dip?
Five people, places, and things everyone's wagging their fists at as the markets crash.


Wow, no mention of finite oil resources...

No mention of Limits to Growth issues at all, that I can see...

Does this really represent the 'best thinking' on our current and future states?

And then there is this gem:

It's Hard to Say Goodbye to Iraq


The White House has been pressuring Maliki to invite U.S. troops to stay in Iraq after the upcoming deadline for withdrawal. It should stop. There are no good reasons for the military to stay.


President Obama, you deeply disappoint me.

Brokeback Desert..

'I just caint quit you!!'

Re: Reddy Kilowatt Works Up a Sweat, up top:

The heat is affecting electricity production at TVA’s Browns Ferry nuclear plant:

Rain also slightly cooled the Tennessee River, allowing the Tennessee Valley Authority's Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Decatur, Alabama to begin ramping up production.
The heat had raised the river's temperature to higher than 90 degrees and forced a severe cutback in the energy supplied by the plant, which uses the river water to cool the reactors.
"On Wednesday, we had three units operating at 50 percent power. Today we have one unit at 75 percent, two at 70 percent," TVA spokesman Ray Golden said.


In this week’s Market to Market:


Debt Deal threatens agriculture/ethanol subsidies.

Indiana grain trader uses locally produced Winnebago Tour
to make speaking engagements promoting farmer use of social media (and gets a $346,000 tax write off).


With all the power they produce, why don't they just get some icemakers and cool the river upstream!?


The Rise of Tea Party Keynesianism
Spending money on defense is good because it creates jobs and stimulates the economy -- wait, what?!


I can apply the same type of question to all the Federal GS and uniformed military and contractors in the Military-Homeland Security-Industrial Welfare Complex: They rail about 'social spending' but refuse to acknowledge the planks in their eyes...the MIC is their white-collar welfare ticket to ride.

I once worked for a Lt Col (became a full Colonel, probably now a contractor) who referred to U.S. Air Force Officer service as "Being on the Big Blue Teet" (Blue is an AF color...see commercials: 'Cross into the Blue'.

These same people who bellow and gnash their teeth about other folks' sense of entitlement turn around and vehemently express their 'right' and entitlement to have their taxpayer-funded jobs making new (and maintaining current) war machines, which the last time I checked did not produce any food or pump any energy into our economy or do much anything else useful to Joe six pack on any given day, but were a giant money pit.

Clearly, when the Gov't had a Green Jobs Czar in Van Jones, the Imperial Russian Title wasn't nearly Tough Enough, and so the very thought was somehow 'Commie' (Czar, Commie? I don't get it) ..

It's ALL in the framing.. and if we can just rebrand Renewable Energy so that it would just LOOK like it fit into one of those video games that has a Machine-Gun on it at the Movie Theater.. we might get the Public to give it 'Safe Quarter', so to speak. We need to make EV's look like Abrams Tanks, and refer to Solar Panels as 'Fully-Automatic, Self-reloading Battery Impregnation Units.

People working for Renewable Energy, for Efficiency, Insulation, .. they need Burocratized Rank titles like 'SRE Spc 1st Class (Solar Radiation Engineer)' , or 'Draft Lord', 'Illegal Thinwall Assassin' 'the Therminator'

I llke to call those types "Welfare queens with oak-leafed clusters".

While I suspect it is to a degree subconscious, I would agree that a part of the motivation is to ensure that their own gravy train continues to function by trying to cut off others. I wouldn't accuse them of being lazy - just that the work they are doing isn't needed.

The Rise of Tea Party Keynesianism
Spending money on defense is good

And yet "The Father of the Tea Party" Ron Paul would like to stop exactly that kind of spending.

So I'm not really sure what 'the tea party' is - beyond a label some use for something they don't like.

Ron Paul is a classic Libertarian. He predates the Tea Party by years. As a classic Libertarian he has always argued against involvement in foreign escapades of any kind.

You may agree or disagree with Ron Paul - but he has always been consistent and has not changed his story to appease the Tea Party.

If Ron Paul is the father of the Tea Party, then he has totally lost (never had) control over his spawn.

Face it: Ron Paul is an anomaly with respect to wanted to scale back U.S. 'Defense' spending.

I still roll in military circles: Many folks in the MIC consider themselves Tea Partiers or fellow travelers. Think real hard about that...

Does Rand Paul support Defense cuts? If so, just token, or of the magnitude his Dad might favor?

The Tea Party is a front organization for the modern Robber Barons to remake the Republican Party in the desired mold.

I still roll in military circles: Many folks in the MIC consider themselves Tea Partiers or fellow travelers. Think real hard about that...

Lets see if my google fu works....

Ron Paul says members of military have given him far more money than other GOP candidates and Barack Obama

If he were president, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul says, the United States would remove its forces from Afghanistan as "quickly as the ships could get there."

Something else for the readers to ponder.

I admire Ron Paul's philosophy about pointless military engagements.

How much would he cut the military budget (for the standing army/forces and all the new toys they constantly want)?

I wonder how much money goes to candidates from PACs and now unlimited and untraceable corporate donations vice how much money comes from these attributed personal donations?

I almost NEVER here anyone in the military, not the DoD Federal Civilians, nor contractors (many of the last two groups are retired military) advocate for Ron Paul. Perhaps there is stronger support among the young, junior enlisted folks (that group is most numerous).

Does anyone have any polling data on how military folks have voted during the last Republican primary? Did self-identified military folks vote in the majority for Ron Paul?

Lest anyone forget, the 'man behind the curtain' for the MIC is the 'I' in MIC....Industry, slimy contractors!

How much would he cut the military budget

I would think he'd keep the Navy about (as they are mentioned in the Constitution) and the Coast Guard and everyone else would be gone.

Back before WWII there was no 'standing army' after the conflict. I beleive he's advocated a return to that.

Thank you Eric for upping my knowledge about the man's ideas.

Unfortunately it doesn't appear likely that he is a contnenda.

Various members of the inner circle of Libertarians have stated that 'If Ron Paul wants it, he can be on the Libertarian ticket for Prez'.


Obama who has done a fine job of carrying water for the established power brokers (just like the last guy and the guy before him and the .....) needs a way to split off part of the Republican voting block. Paul won't get the Republican nod but will instead be the Libertarian nominee. That'll cleave off 5% of the Republican vote (unless the Republicans pick someone far too toxic) Money will thusly flow to Dr. Paul - and if any of his planks become too popular The Big O will snatch 'em away via an executive order or 2.

The Libertarians would be lucky to see 15% - but that would be their best showing to date. The "new" thing this round - The tech-centered Libertarians will re-mix the Presidential debates to put Paul in 'em in 'real time' via Xtranormal versions of Obama and the other talking head.

Ron Paul could have had the Libertarian Party nomination in 2008, but he decided not to pursue it. I personally believe it unlikely that he will choose differently in 2012 either.

However, by focusing on Ron Paul in this scenario, you are missing the current Republican presidential candidate who, in my view, might in fact run as the candidate for the Libertarian party... former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.

Gary Johnson on Wikipedia

My prediction is after Ron Paul inevitably loses and finally admits defeat once again, he will point his supporters towards Gary Johnson, who by that time will already have given up his doomed run at the Republican nomination and be locking up the Libertarian nomination instead. Regardless of whether or not either scenario happens, it would take a miracle for the Libertarian Party to even sniff the low side of 15% of the vote. The best ever showing for a Libertarian Party candidate was a shade over 1% and that was 30 years ago.

Rand Paul: GOP Must Consider Military Spending Cuts

"You need ... compromise on where the spending cuts come from," Paul told ABC's Christiane Amanpour. "Republicans traditionally say, oh, we'll cut domestic spending, but we won't touch the military. The liberals -- the ones who are good -- will say, oh, we'll cut the military, but we won't cut domestic spending."

"Bottom line is, you have to look at everything across the board," he added.

"Where, then? Military? Would you cut the military?" Amanpour asked.

"Yes, Yes," Paul replied.

I didn't think Rand had his father's cojones, and I've been delighted to be wrong so far.

I hope he truly intends to significantly cut the military.

Reading the transcript of this interview, Rand seems to be a little reticent to directly state that he would definitely significantly cut the military budget...as much as need be to balance the budget. It seems that Amanpour drug a perhaps reluctantly given Yes out of him.

Talk is cheap. One could advocate cutting the military and then turn around and advocate for some token cut that isn't significant.

I would like Rand Paul to have the opportunity to show us that the military (and the spy agencies and Homeland Security et al) is on an even keel with everything else for cuts.

Talk is cheap.

Such can be said about each and every Congress-thing. Feet of clay for all of 'em. Ron "I'm all about the Constitution" Paul didn't seem to think there was any anti-Constitution acts by the the lack of impeachment articles he drafted. (I believe he voted Yes on Clinton however)

Some have larger feet than others, and some stand in fast running creeks with wide stances.

The tea party was setup as libertarian grouping, aligned with Ron Paul. It was then usurped by the loony wing of the republican party as a convenient vehicle for their ambitions.

Some differentiate between the two phases as:

Tea Party > Libertarians > Government is bad, mkay?
TeaBaggers > Palin supporters > Duh, wots government?

Neither is particularly sensible or worldly, but there is a difference in the level of the discourse from each.

They rail about 'social spending' but refuse to acknowledge the planks in their eyes...the MIC is their white-collar welfare ticket to ride.

Not just the MIC. There have been a number of articles recently about the "socialism" that members of the military take for granted: government-funded healthcare for both the military and their dependents; NIH-style care for veterans; subsidies for higher education; a wonderful day-care benefit for those with children; a nice government pension after 20 years; and so forth.

I'm not complaining, much. Mostly that if socialized medicine is good enough for the armed services, why can't the rest of us at least buy into the program?

I don't begrudge you. Your socialized medicine is far more cost effective than my corporatized version. Its ironic, that the part of the country the conservatives so lionize contains a lot os government socialism. I suspect the career paths are also fairly socialized, in the sense that the pre-existing system determines your pay grades, and your pathways through them are fairly hard to game.

The Dems did a smart thing when they put defense funding on the “Super Congress” budgetary chopping block. These cuts are mandatory and irreversible. They will be applied politically by the executive branch selectively to all the DOD facilities in the congressional districts whose representatives did not support the “Grand Bargain” that would have kept the US out of a financial downgrade, both tea baggers and blue dog democrats.

The duped voters who elected these wackos to congress will join the ranks of the unemployed for some much needed education on being poor and on the dole, foreclosed on and thrown out of their homes, the high cost of class warfare, obstructionism, and being the witless stooges of big business. After all politics can be a full contact sport.

Bayer chief warns firms may leave Germany over energy costs

AFP - The head of German chemicals and drugs giant Bayer warned Saturday that major companies may consider leaving Germany over rising energy costs linked with Berlin's decision to abandon nuclear power.

Welcome to Sweden, here is it also possible to build new powerplants.

Finland yes. But new nuclear power or coal plants in Sweden ?

Germany still allows new natural gas power plants (from my understanding).

BTW, will Finland build another EPR or two AP-1000s ?


Right, coal is not ok.

major companies may consider leaving Germany over rising energy costs linked with Berlin's decision to abandon nuclear power.

1) The rising energy costs have no connection with fission power. The rise in cost was happening long before the 'decision to abandon nuclear power'.
1a) Fission power hasn't shown itself to meet the low cost promises.
2) One German manufacturing firm - The Ritter Group went the other way in the 1980's. After Chernobyl they started to make solar collectors.
3) A big part of the chemical industries inputs come from fossil fuels. Exactly how does one go from 'rising energy costs' like FF to fission plants?

Bayer could have done like Ritter. Or Sanyo. Or Kyoceria. Or even BP. They didn't.

Who's fault is it - they could have planned for their needs - provided for their own energy generation. But they didn't.

And who's to say any power provider would have made another fission plant?

All this temper-tantrum does is re-enforce the idea that Corporations do not have any fedality to the Nation State. So why try to claim they have any loyality to the Nation State

Ah, the southern route of the NW passage is now open for commerce:

One of the really dramatic changes in the North Pole icecap over the last 5 years has been the destruction of the oldest, thickest, multiyear ice. This year much of the remaining old ice has been swept away from Canada and Greenland and almost no very old ice remains near the coast.

As the federal government prints 134 billion dollars each month it takes more dollars to buy things that are traded internationally like food and energy. Why are wage not also going up as the value of the dollar goes down? Or how long to get to levels of poverty that existed in say Germany 1933?

Asking questions again, Ed? Well done!

Why don't wages rise as the dollar falls? Most of what people buy is domestic: housing, utilities, insurance, education, most food, half of the value of fuel. So people are little affected by a drop in the value of the dollar relative to other currencies. Wages don't need to rise, because it's only imports that get more expensive.

This is why it's important for a country to have its own currency -- Ireland, Greece, Italy and Spain are in trouble mainly because they don't have their own currencies. So they have to have 'austerity' instead, to drive down wages.

How long to get to Weimar levels of poverty? That depends mainly on how much inequality the people of the USA are prepared to tolerate.

What will California do if it cannot print its own money? Many states have to balance their budgets by law.

What will California do if it cannot print its own money? Many states have to balance their budgets by law.

California will be screwed, as if its not already. The problem I have with balanced budget laws is that sometimes it will be impossible to balance a budget. It's like legislating that the value of pi will be 3.14 exactly. It ignores reality.

The smart thing to do is a counter-cyclically balanced budget - run a surplus when times are good, and run a deficit when times are bad. On average it is balanced, but in really good years the government ends up with a huge pile of surplus money, and when times are bad it uses that money to fill the huge hole in the budget.

Most governments just spend all the money they get when times are good, and then face a crisis when times are bad. Balanced budget laws don't change that; in fact they make it worse.

I've read of balanced budget ideas where law would contain excemptions. The budget would be allowed to go unbalanced for need and going into deficit would require a plan for paying off this deficit when need is no longer an issue. I would be ok with this kind of balanced budget. I don't know if there are any states with this flavor of balanced budget.

States 1) create rainy day funds during good times and 2) issue bonds for capital projects (a balanced budget "exemption").


Yes, there are many ideas that make a balanced budget amendment less draconian than it could be. The bond usage is another area rarely discussed. I would think some of the federal debt is very good debt and is truly an investment that will pay for itself. I'm reluctant to say how much since many have strong feelings against any debt and such discussion doesn't help prevent the debt from growing to an unmanageable level.

What happened to the budget (not deficit of course) surplus that GWB inherited?

Turns out that our glorious war for oil took far longer than the 6 months that Rumsfeld estimated were not paid for by Iraq oil profits as was promised by Wolfowitz.


Sunday, January 19, 2003:

--Q: Mr. Secretary, on Iraq, how much money do you think the Department of Defense would need to pay for a war with Iraq?

--A (Rumsfeld): Well, the Office of Management and Budget, has come up come up with a number that's something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the U.S. burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question.

3/27/03 testimony before a Senate Appropriations Hearing

a. Rumsfeld: I don't believe that the United States has the responsibility for reconstruction, in a sense...[Reconstruction] funds can come from those various sources I mentioned: frozen assets, oil revenues and a variety of other things, including the Oil for Food, which has a very substantial number of billions of dollars in it.

b. Wolfowitz: We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.


* Feb. 7, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to U.S. troops in Aviano, Italy: "It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

Where is the outrage? The U.S. still has ~ 50K troops in Iraq.


The Associated Press reported late yesterday (citing the ever-popular White Houses "sources" - that is, officials probably authorized to speak and plant a message in the press but granted anonymity anyways) that the Obama administration is "offering" to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq in 2012, beyond the agreed deadline with the Iraqis to withdraw all troops.

Sadr warns against US presence in Iraq

Iraq's influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has issued a warning that any US training mission in Iraq after 2011 will be confronted by “military means”.

"We will treat anyone that stays in Iraq as an oppressive occupier that should be resisted through military means," AFP quoted Sadr as saying in a letter released by his office on Saturday.

The Shia cleric's statement came in response to Baghdad's tendency to open talks with US military officials for a post-2011 US training mission in Iraq.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari announced that Iraqi politicians have agreed to let Baghdad start negotiations with Washington on a military training mission in Iraq after 2011.

"The government that agrees to their stay, even if it is for training, is a weak government," the letter added.

And if we are stupid enough to elect more war hawks next election then they will take this threat as proof support that we need to stay.

1. If things 'get better', then we dare not leave because we can't risk our 'gains' being undone.

2. If things take a turn for the worse, then we have to double down and 'finish the mission'.

However, if we do 'turn the tide' then the mission is still never accomplished, because the 'logic' tree reverts to #1 (above)...and the circle keeps turning.

Who here thinks we will get back to a state where there are ZERO (excluding embassy Marines as are in all embassies) troops in Iraq, such as was the case pre-1991?

The "Green Zone" in Baghdad includes the world's largest embassy. In many respects, a de facto military base.



We will not get to zero troops in Iraq because the security of Israel is job number one. We will invade Syria then Iran will have US troops on three sides. Again the security of Israel is job number one. The only question is will the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) do anything to defend Iran when the US attacks.? If so, I think we have world war three. If not, the US rules the world.

RockyMtnGuy, that's one reason why Keynesians in office can't make his theories work because they are undisiplined enough to follow them.

The other problem is "moral hazard" if the public and the financial industry knows that the nations economy will get bailed out with surplus cash during bad times, then they have no worries and don't really need to stay clear of malinvestment during good times.

Why not promote frugality and prudent use of our excess productivity by letting the free market punish those who fail to do the right things at all times? Fear of poverty and hunger is a good motivator. If we reward failure in the economy with bailouts from a surplus as you propose, then we'll get more failure. It's about rewards and punishment and in a true free market (which we haven't had in America for a while) the government only has to stand by and make sure basic laws, rules and regulations are followed, the market does the rest.

The problem is there are usually many more affected stakeholders (including you and me), than active bad guys. And the decision becomes one between punishing the few directly, while everyone else suffers, or doing a bailout. At least in the short and medium term (ten years at least) bailouts do the least harm. Moral hazard takes a lot longer to grow. So then the next best solution is more technical, financial regulations, and breaking up companies before they get to big to (be allowed to) fail. But, this is unpopular, and eventually the people forget the harm that will come and lose their vigilence. Then the robber barrons run amok, once again.

EOS, Moral hazard hit everyone and many of us were bad guys in the 2000's, because the banks and mortgage companies had everyone flipping house or using homes as credit cards. It didn't take that long to grow the bubble, lets look at when interest rates went real low in the early 2000's and look at the housing bubble and burst by 2007.

How can you overlook that?

Bailouts do much more harm, because the pain of our actions never gets to a point where we remember it and learn from it. We get bailed out and keep doing the things that hurt us in the first place. This boom/bust cycle will be broke, but now we're out of painkillers.

This is why it's important for a country to have its own currency -- Ireland, Greece, Italy and Spain are in trouble mainly because they don't have their own currencies. So they have to have 'austerity' instead, to drive down wages.

Their problem is that they have been borrowing more money than they can pay back, not the currency they borrow it in. The only difference is that they can borrow more money in Euros before their credit dries up because the Euro is backstopped by Germany and other fiscally responsible countries.

OTOH, if they had their own currency, they would suffer automatic austerity. Their wages would become worth much less as sellers discounted their money, and their real wages, as distinct from their money wages would automatically fall. They would get the same amount of paper currency but be able to buy much less with it.

Of course, the smart thing to do would be to be fiscally prudent, balance the budget, and not borrow so much money in the first place, but these countries don't think in those terms.

If there currency could drop in value, then their industries could become competitive, and that would suck in jobs, ascorps moved production to those countries. The problem in say Spain, is that wages in Euros are too high given the productivity differences wrt. countries like Germany. Cutting wages in domestic currency terms is really tough (they are considerd ro be sticky), so you get get an economy which can't compete.

If I am a candidate for a job, and so are you. And it is determined I will produce 9units per day, but you will produce 10, but the law states, you have to pay a fixed salary for the job. My income won't be 90% of yours, it will be zero, because I won't get the job!

The Egyptian point out that the gas deliveries were contingent on Israel obeying the terms of the treaty and since they have violated many of the terms of the treaty Egypt is under no treaty obligation to continue supplying gas to Israel.

Turkey to deter gas exploration plans

“We have conveyed our reservations to the U.N., the firm and the U.S. several times and warned that [such drilling] would not be legitimate and would have negative outcomes on the political [reunification] process for Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots,” a senior ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity. Noble Energy, a U.S. firm, is planning to begin drilling for natural gas off southern Cyprus’ coast on Oct. 1. Ankara has warned the parties not to proceed, noting that such activities would negatively affect ongoing talks between two sides.

The drilling would also be illegitimate because of the continental shelf issue, the ministry said, noting that Turkish Cypriots also had rights in the region. The firm and the U.S. administration have not yet responded positively to Ankara’s warning, the official said. Greek Cypriots recently signed a production-sharing contract with Noble Energy to launch exploration activities in Block 12, an economic zone southeast of the island. Turkey will show the “necessary response” to Greek Cypriots if it goes ahead with plans to start exploratory drilling for gas deposits before a settlement to reunify the divided island is reached, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters Friday.

I am a Cypriot and did my service in the army. I always thought I would never enlist even if we were at a hot war. Nevertheless, today my opinion has changed. Somehow the bullying from our northern superpower killed the peacenik inside me. Maybe it could be because of oil.

(explantion). I enlisted at 18 because it was the law( only the disabled and the insane can opt out of the 26 moth period military service).

Osama bin Laden killers killed:

The Associated Press has learned that more than 20 Navy SEALs from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden were among those lost in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.


Tit for tat...and so it will go on for as long as we are too stubborn to break the cycle and leave the 'Stan.

When are people going to learn that there will be no more wars like WWII where the enemy wears uniforms and finally unconditionally surrenders then becomes U.S. allies?

I guess the memories of 'Nam wore off, no matter how many books and movies and memorials made.


US to investigate helicopter crash;


I will prime the pump for their investigation:

- Why in the World would commanders put that many extremely highly trained, experienced, and valuable special forces troops in one very vulnerable air vehicle, making that AV a hugely lucrative target?

- Why would you commit that mistake and magnify it by putting them in a Chinook helicopter???? That thing cannot auto-rotate down even if one of its engine suffers mechanical failure...due to its double-rotor design (one rotor on each end of the vehicle).

- Why would you not distribute these 30-some folks in 5 or 6 Blackhawks?

- Typically Chinooks would cruise above the range of a rocket-propelled grenade...so was this attack conducted right at liftoff or landing?...and, if so, one would not think that the fall would be hard enough from such a regime to cause a total hull loss and loss of all passengers and crew.

We need to stop playing Team America, World Police, and stop these pointless wars halfway around the World in the sandbox.

Maybe it was important that they not be questioned about what really happened.

What are you talking about?

The U.S. Military is launching an investigation.

Even if it is an internal (SECRET) investigation, the kinds of questions (and more) that I enumerated have to be asked.

Every aircraft crash is investigated in the military. I know.

Investigation fine.

I mean if there was no Osama and no kill these folks might someday talk. If you would loose political capital as a result you might decide to have them killed.


Why would they cover up one lie with a much more serious lie.

Investigation, smetigation.

If the report is not the reality or if a different version of a report is told to different parties - what good is a BS report?

Is there some way on TOD for certain poster's comments to not appear at all?

There used to be a way to configure a script such as you seek using greasemonkey.


Knock yerself out...

Yeah, I had such a script, but it doesn't work well any more for reasons that I haven't bothered to debug..

I tended to use the thing myself for posters who tended to go on and on about topics that I had no interest in. Usually the topics were somewhat relevant - it is just that the posters were being repetitious, so it wasn't really appropriate to flag them as 'inappropriate'.

If I could ever get it working again, I was thinking that a nice addition would be to add support for a preferred poster option - all posts would be collapsed except for new posts by these posters, and one could use it when short on time to pick out highlights..

I still use it and it seems to work fine for me

You can flag any comment as inappropriate, or email Leanan (leanan77777 [at] gmail.com) regarding any posts you may feel are offensive. One is always free to counter any particular post by responding to it directly.

Yes - it's a Greasemonkey script called TODban.

I don't know if it still works with more recent versions of Firefox, but I used to use it a while back when I just couldn't stomach the drivel put out by a couple of folks. I stopped using it - I must have a stronger stomach now :-) I still instantly hit 'next' when I see certain posters, at least most of the time.

Anyway, here are a couple of links to set you on the trail:



Let us know how you make out...

Yes, the first link points to my site. As far as I know, there is nothing newer, but that doesn't mean that I am correct..

The breakage is that if it auto-collapses a comment, that the "[-]" symbol is correctly removed, but the little "[+]" sign isn't added in place of it. The result being that you can't expand a collapsed comment, which is kind of annoying. I looked at it again today, and it *looks* like it ought to work correctly...

Just tried it on your and sgage'e comments, worked fine with + sign and all.


NAOM and Consumer, what versions of FF are you using?

3.6.18 Fedora 14 64bit



Recall that after the Bin Laden raid one thing that gave confidence that the special forces could pull it off was the fact that they had done many such raids to kill or snatch high value targets in Afghanistan and the Northwest Territories. This was in addition to specific rehersals for the Abottabad compound.

In order to enable the removal of regular forces, it appears that an Phoenix Program style operation is being conducted against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. However, this operations appears to mostly use US special operations forces and relatively few indigenous forces.

However, since Afghanis are among the casualties, it may be that the operation was not secure and that they were ambushed. In forested mountains there may be relatively few landing zones to choose from.

Pentagon to reconsider landing Chinooks in battle zones


The Chinook is a transport air vehicle for use in relatively benign environments, not an assault transport.

Its a darn good thing the Ruskies or Chines or whomever didn't gear-up the Taliban and Al Qaeda with MANPADS (advanced shoulder-launched IR missiles) (the was we armed the Afghans against the Ruskies in 79-89) or we would have lots of dead helicopters and lots more dead crew and passengers littering the 'Stan.

H - A bad feeling. Not a perfect analogy but harkens back to Viet Nam when McNamara was sure that technology and mobility would win the war for us...at least in a statistical sense. I don't know how command is deployed in the field these days. Back in VN some higher ranking officers tended to be "mile high leaders": they stayed in the choppers at altitudes out of the range of small arms fire. Left the grunt work to the noncoms and second leweys. Needless to say not much of a morale booster. Now we have Predator operators sitting in the US launching missiles at our adversaries. Nothing against those folks or the top brass. No doubt they felt the sting of the recent loss as deeply as any. But it tends to put the entire conflict in the abstract for most of the public. When was the last time you saw the MSM film those shiny aluminum boxes being offloaded at Dover? I'm sure there will be a short spot on the evening news for the first service for one of the SEALs at Arlington.

Difficult to blame folks for avoiding those thoughts with all the rest of the cr*p going on in their lives. Still such a waste of souls and money with no clear objective laid out. And now we've made it clear to our adversaries: wait a little longer and we'll leave the country to you. I can't imagine how a trooper feels laying in his bunk at night before a mission and accepting that no matter what happens to him and his cohorts the next day it won't mean anything in a few years. Hell of a resource to waste IMHO.

I was reading about it in the Telegraph, except it was 30 Navy Seals killed. A couple of hours later the story had vanished from the headlines and the most viewed stories sidebar. Seems collapse related news is coming so thick and fast it hardly has time to appear in the news at all, vanishing before anyone can even read it.

So many black swans around at the moment it's as though white variety are becoming endangered. The next week should be interesting.

I agree with you except for the "black swans". Everything that is happening right now was totally predictable. Perhaps not in the "this will happen at this date" sense, but certainly in the "this will eventually happen" sense. A black swan is totally unexpected... The debt crises (many different ones, in Europe and America), the failure in Afghanistan, the high price of oil preventing economic recovery, all of these were pretty obvious.

certainly in the "this will eventually happen" sense. A black swan is totally unexpected

A CME is not 'totally unexpected' - the Sun is known to toss bits of it out and eventually one will strike the planet that will do some damage.

On a regular basis stars become black holes - and when that happens you get a gamma ray burst. One day one of 'em will be pointed at the Earth. Is that a 'black swan' as "we" know about gamma ray bursts and "know" that eventually one will strike Earth.

From elsewhere on the web:
The Black Swan Theory or Theory of Black Swan Events is a metaphor that encapsulates the concept that The event is a surprise (to the observer)

Thusly the "black swany-ness" of an event is tied to the POV of the observer and how prepared they are for said event.

If we were smart we would do things such as harden select critical parts of our electric grid to withstand CME events, and develop means to detect potentially threatening asteroids and deflect them, etc.


Following three links are to PFFs:




Where's the %age in being that smart?

Far more money to be made in 'Awww, what you had is broken. Let me sell you a new one'.

On a different track entirely :-

Chicago starts replacing lights that have shrouded the city in an orange glow.

Metal halides will be replacing sodium vapor lamps to reduce energy costs as well as emissions. LEDs will be replacing older traffic lights. CDoT is using a $13M grant from DoE.

From the article:

"Since the large-scale adoption of sodium vapor lights in the United States and elsewhere, studies have been done showing that they can hamper police identification of suspects because they decrease people’s ability to tell one color from another, because they make everything look orange at night."

Well, duh. And it only took 35 years to figure that out. Typical government yet again - use the orange lights to save a couple of bucks at the expense of safety, while mandating all the while that everyone else must squander $100 to get $1 worth.

I would need each years basis to normalize each year's savings (initially estimated to be $124K, estimated as $635K in this-year dollars), but my guess is that Chicago may have saved ~ $10M since the conversion to sodium vapor lights, against a cost of ~$20 million dollars between 1973 and 1974.

If my guesstimate is anywhere close, then that switch to sodium vapor didn't make financial sense.

I wonder what the payback period will be for this latest upgrade?

I never liked the orange glow of Sodium vapor lights.

If folks really want to further diminish the skyglow, then the city needs to install flush/flat or recessed luminares, with metal lights shields on the back of the fixture where appropriate.

In addition, they should consider reducing the overall number of lights.

Are there any valid studies that show a correlation between actual (not perceived) safety (both from driving accidents and crime) and the number and brightness of streetlights?

Maybe recessed luminaires, less lights, and even further educed brightness than already planned. The less # of lights and lowered brightness will not only reduce purchase and installation costs, but maintenance costs as well.

Hi ST,

The replacement lamps are Philips Cosmopolis ceramic metal halides. It's a T6 lamp with a PGZ12 base and driven by a high efficiency electronic ballast. They come in 60, 90 and 140-watt sizes and have a rated service life of 30,000 hours (versus HPS at 24,000 hours), a CCT of 2800 (similar to incandescent/halogen) and a CRI of 70 (versus 22 for HPS). Lumen maintenance is exceptionally good for a metal halide lamp, i.e., between 85 and 90 per cent at mean and approximately 80 per cent at EOL. The lamp's diminutive size also lends itself to smaller, more attractive fixture designs, greater fixture efficacy and superior optical control. The 140-watt version generates 16,500 initial and 14,020 mean lumens respectively. For even greater energy savings, the Xtreme LumiStep control gear permits step dimming -- light output can be dimmed down to 60 per cent with three pre-programmed stages at the 6, 8 and 10 hour mark.

For more information on this product, see: http://www.lighting.philips.com/microsite/cosmopolis/gb_en/reference.php


Thanks, Paul.
It will make a huge difference. I have a sodium-vapor alley light right outside my back yard - it's pretty obnoxious. It really blasts light in my windows at night.

You might enjoy this link also :-


That's great, ST. The 4,000,000 kWh a year reduction in energy use, the improvement in light levels and light quality, and the accompanying savings in ongoing maintenance costs is good news all around.


‘Optimism index’ suggests recession is here:

"The Investors Business Daily Economic Optimism Index dropped by 13.5% from July to August, with its latest reading representing the lowest point in the index’s 10-year history. The August reading of 35.8 — down from 41.4 last month — is roughly 20% below both its 12-month average and the reading from December 2007, when the economy entered recession."


Not any surprise to me, but it's interesting to see more and more of these types of articles in the press. This fall should be even more interesting than this past week.

This fall should be even more interesting than this past week.

I have contractor friends that wonder if things are this slow during the Summer, how slow will it be in the Winter, which is always much slower? Way too darn slow to pay the bills, but just fast enough to borrow more money to stay afloat in hopes of better times ahead, is the answer. Always hoping for more BAU.

Sure glad I found a new way to make money by changing my business from one source of dwindling customers to a whole new source. If your cheese moves, move with it, and as we move down the net energy ladder the need for lightening fast adaptability rises.

The pain of recession never went anywhere it was slighty masked with painkillers Tarp, Stimulus, QE-1, 2 heck they can shoot us up with QE#3 and QE#4 it won't buy our way out of this, there's no morphine drip while we heal. The malinvestments of the past must get wash from the books and people are going to have a cultural change allowing to recession to do it's thing, that's the answer. The change we can believe in, whether your dealing with government or personal finance is going to have to use less debt intruments to be sustainable.

heck they can shoot us up with QE#3 and QE#4 it won't buy our way out of this, there's no morphine drip while we heal.


London riots: Dozens injured after Tottenham violence

Clasford Stirling, a resident of Tottenham for 32 years, said the area looked like a battlefield

More than 40 people have been arrested after rioting saw police attacked and buildings and vehicles set alight in Tottenham, north London.

Overnight, 26 officers and three others were hurt in the violence which erupted after a protest over the fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan on Thursday.

Residents surveyed the damage after homes were looted and shops burnt down.

Tottenham MP David Lammy said: "A community that was already hurting has had its heart ripped out."

The Metropolitan Police said two officers were still in hospital and three members of the public had been injured. More than 40 people remain in custody.

Not sure whether I'm allowed to call this event a "black swan", maybe some shade of grey perhaps. Anyway, its just a taste of the future as collapse swiftly moves from the periphery towards the centre and the authorities lose legitimacy and control.

In Britain people are particularly hapless with little in the way of choice how they live. Over populated and corralled in dense congested urban areas by planning laws and wholly dependant upon the failing system for their livelihood and survival. Self-sufficiency isn't an option for people in Britain so as the system fails they're left with no options, so what they going to do?

No black swan, this is a traditionally troublesome area where the residents oppose any sort of law and order.



"You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

The TV reporter from Britain's ITV had no response. So the young man pressed his advantage. "Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere.

The truth is that discontent has been simmering among Britain's urban poor for years, and few have paid attention. Social activists say one out of two children in Tottenham live in poverty. It's one of the poorest areas of Britain.

Government owned and controlled TV does not give a platform to express unhappiness with the government. You find that surprising? It is called propaganda. It is their purpose.

It talks about a many tv crews and newspaper reporters. Why do you assume they are all gov owned and controlled?

Are there private TV stations in England? I thought it was all the BBC with various numbers suffixed.

Of course there are. Hey, we even have Al Jazeera and RT Moscow News on terrestrial television - ie transmitted over the standard nationwide tv transmitters so no need for sat or cable. CNN was also on free terrestrial but they seem to have carelessly lost their broadcast allocation (or just want people to pay to watch on subscription services).

The main alternatives to the BBC though are ITV and Murdoch controlled Sky.

Who owns ITV?

I would say Murdoch controls more of the media than the government. I don't think there are any big government daily newspapers anyway and sky has a lot of power? And let's not forget how much influence Murdoch has held over the our politicians of all stripes.

It fits his worldview.

Second night of violence in London – and this time it was organised

Police deployed to deal with trouble in Enfield and Brixton, plus reports of disturbances in Dalston and Walthamstow

Sounds like the perpetrators are using social media flash mob techniques.

Strategies to reduce electricity prices

In March 2011, the JPS was the sole bidder for the request for proposal for the provision of 480 megawatts of needed capacity which is to retire the old plants at Old Harbour without a government guarantee.There is need for a degree of certainty that the electricity to be generated will get to a sufficient number of customers in a reliable and consistent manner to make the project affordable for consumers.The bid was for the installation of 360 megawatts by 2014 and a further 120 megawatts by 2016. I met with the JPS and mandated them to bring forward the installation of at least 120 megawatts within the next 13 months and to bring natural gas to the diesel guzzling plant at Bogue St James within 12 months. Of course, the OUR will have to sign off on this proposal but, if approved, will result in a lowering of electricity rates. This is important in our search for solutions.

This article was written by Clive Mullings, the minister of mining and energy (energy secretary for you folks in the US), one of the men who will play a large part in determining Jamaica's energy future. He was recently re-appointed to this post after the man who replaced him was dropped from the post. One of the other men is the minister of transport (equivalent of Ray Lahood) who is busy implementing road improvement projects but, to his credit, seems to have managed to get passenger rail service restored, if only in a very limited sense, following a break of almost 20 years.

Of course P.O.B (Peak Oil Believer) has submitted his 2c. Lets see if they get Which have been posted.

Alan from the islands

Army Introduces Fuel Tracking Software

"The U.S. Army is introducing software to track where its fuel goes in the field.

The Tactical Fuel Manager program cost the Defense Department $4 million. The department spent $15 billion on fuel last year, the New York Times reports.

The Army hopes the new software will help it figure out how to cut energy use on the battlefield."...

..."Using the old system, one staff sergeant was able to cook the books to such an extent that he stole $1.5 million of fuel in a three-month period before anyone noticed, according to the Times."

Yet another reason to cut funding to the military.

During the Vietnam War, the military measured the volume, but not the temperature of fuel delivered.

Major oil companies, as well as smaller firms, used this to "enhance profits". Some even painted tanks black to enhance the thermal expansion effect.


Yet another reason to cut funding to the military.

Oh no, we must remain paranoid to the point of spending whatever is necessary to build the world's greatest weapon systems, because you never know when some leader like Saddam will threaten the US with drones that can drop conventional weapons. Ha! On a more serious note, it is mind boggling to me the astronomical figure spent on defense, including foreign incursions and installations. It's as if the US is expecting a world war any minute. Now that's paranoid, especially in a world so interconnected in commerce.

I remember the scare tactics around the year 2000 where the media said he could build drones with clustered play station 2's!

Yet another reason to cut funding to the military.

Oh no, we must remain paranoid to the point of spending whatever is necessary to build the world's greatest weapon systems, because you never know when some leader like Saddam will threaten the US with drones that can drop dirty bombs made from fictictious yellow-cake from Niger. But, but it was only 18 words (of lies) Ha! On a more serious note, it is mind boggling the astronomical figure spent on defense, including foreign incursions and our huge soldiers presence in foreign military installations, in Germany, Japan, NK, etc. Sounds too much like a huge mistake the Romans made. It's as if the US is expecting a world war any minute. Now that's paranoid, especially in a world so interconnected by commerce.

Its not that paranoid if you can the start war and the world commerce 'thing' goes "poof!" when a simple A goes away.

Just a couple hundred miles from Cushing storage which from what I've read the storage has been dropping for about a month.But in the last couple of weeks I've noticed since I run service around the city that out of gas covers on pump handle have been showing up.Saturday we went past two different retailers that had 25-50% of the nozzles covered.Are the oil sands that are going into Cushing and land locked now are refiners sending finished product to the coasts instead of the raw crude.

Well the price difference between WTI and other crude oils is getting sufficiently high that I'm sure that American refiners with access to Cushing are sending all the product they can to Europe and Asia.

However, that has nothing to do with the availability of Canadian oil sands. There's lots of new oil sands production becoming available all the time - and no way to get it to a coast.

"China dives deeper in resource race"


Impressive video they are well funded and well organized.

WTI opeaned down $2.40 and Brent, which opened earlier is down $3.75. Something is going on... I think. Look for the market to open down tomorrow morning. This may be that second leg down.
Bloomberg Energy Prices

Nymex Crude Future 	84.48 	-2.40 	-2.76% 	18:01
Dated Brent Spot 	106.01 	-3.75 	-3.41% 	18:13

Ron P.

Dow Futures currently down 246 at 1146

Most commentators (on tv) seem to be saying that the drop on Monday may not be as big as last week's drop as last week's drop was due to major players having advance knowledge of the downgrade and acting accordingly last week. So those with advance knowledge made/saved a fortune last week. Not sure why that isn't illegal "insider-trading".

Dow Futures currently down 246

Can't hardly believe people are buying into the S&P downgrade when they admit most of it was due to infighting in DC. Heck, they're always fighting tooth and nail over anything and everything. What's the surprise there? If the topic was what to have for lunch, they would filibuster the quiche.

Real men don't eat quiche !


Tune into Fox News for character assasinations of the Rep. that suggested a non-male food. Find out why he hates freedom and America!

Yes, by these standards I don't know how the heck Bernie Madoff was judged a criminal. Very small beer really, in the world of the Stock Casino.

Just to make things more interessting, radioactiv fallout in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City rain at 1.62 microsieverts per hour — “Dangerous Radiation Background” (VIDEO)


I read all the comments...I was trying to figure out if this was all from the Fukushima incidents, or if there are other sources?

I'm guessing it's all from Fukushima. Where else could it be from?

Some of the commenters on the site you linked speculated that there may have been contamination in the forest around Los Alamos, New Mexico, which could have been liberated from the large-scale fires recently in that vicinity.

Pure speculation from these posters, no basis in fact, In my opinion.

Yeah, I read them as well. Im not an expert on this, so I couldn't tell either way. I assume it's from Fukushima since that is an undisputed source of radioactivity. But does it matter where it comes from? I dare say it's trouble no matter the source.

I think the idea is for none of us to know but the US Army and Navy. Remember they evacuated a lot of military from Japan. That was no accident. We are going to be dosed for a long time. I would think the next step should be for an analysis of the nuclides themselves. The ratio of the types of nuclides tells you date of the source more or less.

There is above background here in CA according to this monitoring site, but they are not up to date in July or Aug.

From the little I heard, no excess radiation was detected from those fires. Now, its been 27years since I worked there, but I'd trust their figures over some activists any day (and twice today, since its a Sunday).

So does anyone know how much above background a microseivert is. Is this just normal variation, depending upon what sort of dust got incorporated into the clouds, or does it have to be man-caused?

The Geiger counter began at .19 μSv (background?) and peaked at 1.62 μSv over the towel making it 8.5 times greater than background radiation. The sample was collected by wiping a paper towel(?) over the plastic lid of a trashcan which concentrated the sample. The measurement was made on August 6, 2011. The Jet Stream Wind Speed and Direction shifted (the high pressure area that was sending the jet stream up to Canada dissipated) a few days ago bringing westerly wind straight from Japan. Here is the closest map I could find dated Aug. 7, 2011, 00:00 Zulu. The radionuclides could have come from Japan.

Australian market slides in early trade

The Australian share market fell steeply in the opening minutes of trade this morning as investors factored in the impact of Europe's debt turmoil and the US credit downgrade.

The major Australian share indices had both posted losses of more than 2 per cent in very early trade.

The falls were broad-based, with 189 of the top 200 listed companies trading lower within 15 minutes of the market opening.

Banks were again amongst the companies hardest hit, with all four majors down more than 2 per cent.

Monday morning markets are open in Australia and Asia. The early news is not looking good for investors.

NZ stockmarket loses $1 billion at open

New Zealand's stock exchange lost over 3% or around $1.2 billion in value after opening at 10am today.

The NZX 50 fell 109.69, or 3.3%, to 3166.813 in the first 20 minutes of trading, heading for the lowest close since September 30.

No stocks rose on the index at the open though they did regain some ground in the morning session.

The slide mirrored the decline in US stock futures and paves the way for a sell-off across Asia.

Australia's main index, the ASX 200 fell 1.1% at its open - at midday NZ time. Miner BHP fell 2.2% and retailer David Jones lost 2.9%.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei-225 index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Monday opened down 130.21 points at 9,169.67.

World's eyes on Asia-Pacific

The world has been watching the NZX as it was the first in the Asia-Pacific market to open since the United States had its credit rating downgraded on Saturday morning.

The NZX's website suffered from the attention - it was overloaded this morning with its spokesperson saying it was a "capacity" issue.

Is the drop in Asia an overreaction? What's safe anymore is anybody's guess.

Asian stock markets dip on global economic growth fears

However, some analysts said that declines in the stock markets were overdone and the better growth outlook for Asia's main economies meant that investors would use the slump in share prices as a buying opportunity.

"This is a knee jerk reaction," said Arjuna Mahendran of HSBC Private Bank.

"There will be a rotation towards buying Asia. Money will flow from developed to emerging markets."

Wonder if this means that a reprieve or bounce in the Asian markets could be interpreted as a signal that money is moving from West to East? Time will tell.

Is the drop in Asia an overreaction?

IMO, no.

I think that there is a slow realization that nothing is contained and the situation is anything but a part of the normal business cycle.

Rather than an overreaction, the S & P downgrade makes it very clear that the US is not invincible, far from it. It has been limping along as the winner in the "least ugly" contest but it looks like no one wants a date anymore, particularly China.

Keep in mind, these losses on the Asian exchanges are in spite of some pretty large announcements made on Friday and over the weekend.

The Japanese Ministry of Finance stated that there are prepared to intervene further. (Fri.)
The ECB has agreed to a massive purchase of Italian and Spanish bonds. (Sun.)
The G7 has agreed to inject liquidity into financial markets "as needed" (Mon. Asian time)

The math tells me that the US will default, in one form or another, as will Greece, Italy and probably many others.

QE1 and QE2 did nothing. QE3 may occur, but it will cause barely a blip and the ECB is running out of bullets.

If you want to see something laughable, check out this site and scroll down to the financial exposures between different EU countries (Page 7). Even the ones that are bankrupt are throwing money into the kitty. WTF?

Also note that France has loaned Germany almost as much as Germany has loaned France. Methinks something is very,very wrong in Euroland.

Actually, the whole newsletter is worth a read.

One way or another, theses excesses must be wrung out of the system. Even if we somehow, magically, get on an even keel, resource depletion will smack any economic recovery right on the head.

That said, in the short term, I think we are seeing an awareness that the mess is just to big to control and the efforts and announcements are having less and less positive effect. The cavalry is not coming to the rescue.

This latest crisis, or the next one, or the next will signal the end of BAU.

The math says so. When? Damned if I know; I think the whole think should have collapsed already. Perhaps it has but it's not obvious due to some very expensive smoke and mirrors.

BTW, as I type, the Hang Seng is down over 750 pts. and heading south like a homesick crowbar, so a meaningful bounce looks unlikely, but we could easily see a deceased kitty drop in. :)

"The math tells me that the US will default, in one form or another, as will Greece, Italy and probably many others."

We're beginning to find out what an inflection point feels like. Hold on to your butts!

Our economy is over optimized beyond comprehension, the financial wizards have removed any redundancies whatsoever from the system in the name of efficiency. Get ready for a true blue domino effect.

The term Butterfly effect will get a whole different meaning.

National Public Radio article on US debt.

""If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $211 trillion. That's the fiscal gap," he says. "That's our true indebtedness.""


Why this guy think social security pays $40,000 per person per year is beyond my understanding.

We've got 78 million baby boomers who are poised to collect, in about 15 to 20 years, about $40,000 per person.

I think he means in 15 to 20 years approximately 78 million people will be getting that on average. Maybe with cost of living increases?

Calculating mine, according to the social security website I will be getting around 4100 per month. I make above average wages though.

Edit WOULD be getting (Don't believe I will see a dime.) I will be 65 in 20 years.

"Why this guy think social security pays $40,000 per person per year is beyond my understanding."

Personally; I'm supposed to get about $20,000 per year when I retire. "This guy" was talking about 20 years from now, and 20 years at 3% inflation (1.03 ^20) comes out 1.8 times current outlays, so $36,000. If Krugman gets his way of a 4% inflation target and the Fed was able to hit that mark, then we have $44,000 per year. So, he's not that out of line.

Even today, if you have a two-earner household, then you could end up with $40,000 per year per household pretty easily.

The point he's being disingenuous about is that the $211 trillion is not due all in one year. The total annual SS bill is about 78 million recipients times his $40,000 per year, or about $3 trillion. This year's actual federal revenue is about $2.2 trillion, so at 3% growth in 20 years it would be about $4 trillion. So SS will be 3/4 of the budget.

Now according to CNN;

"Here's what it means if interest costs range between $5.5 trillion and $7.5 trillion: Between 14 cents and 19 cents of every federal tax dollar collected over the next decade would be eaten up by interest."

So if SS is 75% of the budget, and the interest is 15%, that leaves 10% for everything else, including medicare/medicaid.

Rock, meet Hard Place. This is why Washington is starting to panic. Even "the Rich" aren't that rich.

Here are the numbers from Iowahawk. I'd love to see these verified;

A: Number of US households: 116,000,000
B: Average US household income: $68,000 (median = $52,000)
C: Total US household income (A * B): $7.89 trillion
D: Percent of households above $250k income: 1.93%
E: Number of households above $250k income (A*D): 2,238,800
F: Percent of national income earned by households making $250k or more = 25%
G: Total income of households making $250k or more (C*F): $1.97 trillion
H: Total income of households in excess of $250k (G - E*$250,000) = $1.412 trillion

Even 100% "above fair share" income confiscation can't fix the deficit. (3.7 trillion expenses -2.2 trillion income = 1.5 trillion deficit.) And this assumes that the +$250k/yr crowd is paying no taxes on that income now. The actual increase in revenue from confiscation would be less than 1.4 trillion.

Medicare and Medicaid are going to be $1.6 trillion in 2019, according to table 3 in;


Taking that up at only 3% (less than 1/2 the current health care growth rate) is $2.15 trillion.

So, $3 trillion for SS, $2 trillion for Medi-whatever, Income of $4 trillion, and we are a trillion a year in the hole even with the rest of the government non-existant.

If this doesn't drive you to drink, I don't know what will.

Why bother with booze when you can be driven directly to smack!!

The end is definitely nigh. Damn, I hope these people turn out to be a different species from me: homo stupidicus or some such.

Rick Perry will make an excellent scapegoat. Babbling in prayer... all the way down.

How many Texans think he is crazy? I guess the logic of religion and posturing with prayers for rain is hard to understand and grasp.

I'm well aware of why politicians make it look like they are doing something which nicely fits into a majority of people's views of how the world works.

Unfortunately the economy doesn't care. It will keel over and the man at the helm will be blamed. Therefore I am quite happy for you to have him as president. He may even speed up the process, so it's all good ;P

Here we have the Ecuador of Africa, only its a Client State under corporate control:


seems fuel especially petroleum is a warm conversation

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