Friday Open Thread

Have you seen all these retired Generals ganging up on Rumsfeld and demanding he be fired? Six of them now, most of them serving under him in Iraq.

Swannack is critical of Rumsfeld's management style.

"Specifically, I feel he has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces there," Swannack said in the telephone interview.

"And I believe he has culpability associated with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and, so, rather than admitting these mistakes, he continually justifies them to the press ... and that really disallows him from moving our strategy forward."

A quick tour of conservative blogs and news stories failed to turn up any conservative politicians or bloggers defending him. President Bush has said he's doing a fine job, but that's it.

Update [2006-4-15 4:23:54 by Stuart Staniford]:

While we're on the subject of Rumsfeld, there is an extraordinary piece in Salon (you have to watch an ad to read it), who have got hold of an Army inspector general report on prisoner abuse at Guantanomo Bay. More below the fold.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was personally involved in the late 2002 interrogation of a high-value al-Qaida detainee known in intelligence circles as "the 20th hijacker." He also communicated weekly with the man in charge of the interrogation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the controversial commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

During the same period, detainee Mohammed al-Kahtani suffered from what Army investigators have called "degrading and abusive" treatment by soldiers who were following the interrogation plan Rumsfeld had approved. Kahtani was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, was accused of being a homosexual, and was forced to wear women's underwear and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash. He received 18-to-20-hour interrogations during 48 of 54 days.

Little more than two years later, during an investigation into the mistreatment of prisoners at Guantánamo, Rumsfeld expressed puzzlement at the notion that his policies had caused the abuse. "He was going, 'My God, you know, did I authorize putting a bra and underwear on this guy's head?'" recalled Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, an investigator who interviewed Rumsfeld twice in early 2005.

The answer would appear to be "yes". Also,
Schmidt also saw close parallels between the interrogations at Guantánamo, and the photographic evidence of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. "Just for the lack of a camera, it would sure look like Abu Ghraib," Schmidt told the inspector general, in the interview that was conducted in August 2005. At the direction of Pentagon officials, Miller led a mission to Iraq in August 2003 to review detainee operations at Abu Ghraib -- a visit that critics say precipitated the abuse of prisoners there.
I am livid. It is deeply humiliating to live in a country where senior officials are this morally degraded. Fire him. Fire him now. And then hopefully some other country can eventually give him a fair trial for his crimes against humanity.

Even if the guy was in good shape as he started this war, I just don't see how anyone that age (73) could maintain health, alertness, and open-mindedness over the course of a three year slog.
Rummy isn't a paratrooper. Buffett is pretty sharp at roughly the same age.
No, he thinks he's a gereral.

Now tell me, what is our "up or out" policy, and retirement age for generals?  Is the current thinking in the Pentagon that the age for "micromanaging" a war is 70+?

(I certainly hope Buffett is keeping a lighter schedule than Rummy.)

It isn't age. I suspect that Rummie was always the brightest kid on the block. Mostly I suppose he still is, but an unwaivering belief in your own judgement can be is a problem if that judgement is wrong ... and even the best and "the brightest" are going to be wrong from time to time. Lord man show a little humility from time to time.
The NY Times is also reporting on this:

There were indications on Thursday that the concern about Mr. Rumsfeld, rooted in years of pent-up anger about his handling of the war, was sweeping aside the reticence of retired generals who took part in the Iraq war to criticize an enterprise in which they participated. Current and former officers said they were unaware of any organized campaign to seek Mr. Rumsfeld's ouster, but they described a blizzard of telephone calls and e-mail messages as retired generals critical of Mr. Rumsfeld weighed the pros and cons of joining in the condemnation.

It sounds like the Neocons may have now completely overplayed their hand if even the military establishment is turning against them.

The Weekly Standard has been very critical of Rummy for at least two years now.  The want someone who will take off the gloves and kick some serious butt.

"It's a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

The quote is:-
"It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."
Made in 1939 by Sir Winston Churchill on a BBC radio broadcast with reference to forcasting the action of Russia.
Thanks.  I like Churchill's version.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was personally involved in the late 2002 interrogation of a high-value al-Qaida detainee known in intelligence circles as "the 20th hijacker." He also communicated weekly with the man in charge of the interrogation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the controversial commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

During the same period, detainee Mohammed al-Kahtani suffered from what Army investigators have called "degrading and abusive" treatment by soldiers who were following the interrogation plan Rumsfeld had approved. Kahtani was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, was accused of being a homosexual, and was forced to wear women's underwear and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash. He received 18-to-20-hour interrogations during 48 of 54 days

The fact that Rumsfeld directed and approved such treatment and then assigns blame to the subordinates carrying out that direction will not sit well with the military.

It is interesting that the retired military officers speak out in sequence and do so immediately after publication of Hersh's article.

Though I don't approve of the methods used to get information.   They could be using the methods that other nations like North Korea and Rome used to get information from folks.  Just a thought!
Well, given how many of the victims appear to have died during the interrogation, the methods are bad enough.  And from the description of the contents of the videos not released, if that is true then there are many real horrors.

And I don't buy this "it's not that bad" bullshit at all.  There is no excuse, no rationalization for it.  NONE.  NEVER.

"In vino verus" is a latin phrase meaning "in wine there is truth" The Romans didn't use torture as an interogation method. They would get an opponent drunk and well fed then ask about military matters. They knew that under torture a person would make up stories just to stop the pain. The Romans used public torture as a way of controlling conquered populations.
In vino veritas - truth in wine
By the way, in the spirit of open thread, there was a ripple of news recently, as CNW Marketing Research produced a  "Dust-To-Dust Energy Cost" analysis.  It showed some strange things, such as a Hummer H3 using less energy over it's lifecycle than a Toyota Prius.  I've got to admit that I took the "Marketing Research" in their title to be a clue about their methodology.  A new report at theWatt shows how far they went to stack the deck:

The study uses expected lifetime mileage of the vehicles. Hybrids are only expected to live for 100,000 miles, but trucks are expected to live for 250,000 miles.

It's too bad that hybrids are racking up far more than 100,000 miles already.  Just to name one, this guy racked up 200,000, and:

BusinessWeek magazine reports that when the U.S. Department of Energy investigated hybrid batteries, it stopped its tests "when the capacity remained almost like new -- after 160,000 miles."

more here

Wow, that's a pretty blatant case of someone (CNW) cooking the books.  Lies, damn lies, and statisics, indeed.  

I think this is a good example of why we all have to be VERY careful in our energy research.  Between politically and financially based biases floating around out there in the infosphere, it's incredibly easy to unknowingly trust bad data and reach an absurd conclusion.

Only about 10% of the life-cycle energy consumption of a typical vehicle goes into manufacturing, so CNW would have had to radically cook the books to make an H3 come out better than a Prius.

Pity we don't have a legal cause of action against such people for lying their behinds off; they have to be lying about us.

I have been told it is much nearer to 50% of total energy used by a car is used in its manufacture. I think I heard that "fact" on UK TV news . Don't know if this is because UK/European cars are much more fuel efficient and don't drive so many miles over its life span. Average is supposed to be 12,000 miles per year at say, 30 mpg for 12 years typically = 144,000 miles before being scrapped. Quite a few cars do very many short mileage journeys and, in a very small minority, some reps cars do 50,000 miles per year for 3 years before having a second owner and do over 250,000 miles before being scrapped. Anybody have much better evidence of how much energy is required to make a car like a Mondeo, Discovery or Mini?
It's relatively easy to see that the 50% figure is bogus.  Just look at the nation's total energy consumption numbers; in the USA, motor gasoline is about 45% of total petroleum products consumed.  Energy consumption by the auto industry would have to equal that for the claim to be true.

It's so far from true that the person who gave that figure should be demoted to janitor.  Even my current car, which  gets about 40 miles per gallon (of fuel that weighs roughly 7 pounds per gallon) burns its own weight of fuel every 23,000 miles or so; call it 6 times over a 150,000 mile lifespan.  For its life-cycle energy consumption to be 50% in the manufacturing, it would have had to require another 6 times its weight in oil (roughly 12 tons) to make.

Maybe innumerates in public life should have to take and pass a course in practical math analysis before being allowed to return to their jobs, and this fact should have to be made public along with the errata. ;-)

If all those hummer owners were determined to drive 250k miles, we'd surely run out of gas!
Yeah people aren't putting huge miles on Hummers, thank goodness. They ARE putting huge miles on hybrids and so far the evidence seems to be that they'll be good for 200-300K

Of course a Hummer carrying 6 ppl instead of 6 ppl in their Priuses, is much more green.

We all know though that most Americans won't carpool unless a gun is to their head, in fact that's almost the definiation of a carjacking: Gun is presented, 2nd person enters car.

You slay me man!
4/10/2006: Jorge Hirsch, UCSD Physicist and analyst on Iran and nuclear weapons, offers a very well-argued commentary on ZNet saying that Seymour Hersh is right, the song-and-dance with the UN is just some necessary bureaucratic paper-shuffling. He also states the following:
"If there is an aerial bombing of Iran, I believe it is inevitable it will go nuclear. The intention is there, the advisors are there, the nuclear policies and the weapons are there. The excuses to make it "acceptable" to the American public are there. The President has sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons, Congress has no say. The chain of command doesn't go through the Joint Chiefs of Staff that may oppose it as Hersh mentions: it goes directly from Bush and Rumsfeld to commanders of the Unified Combatant Commands such as Gen. Abizaid and Gen. Cartwright. Unless those individuals disobey orders, there is no way to stop it.
I believe there is a high probability of war with Iran because key people in the administration desperately want it, but I don't believe it is inevitable. I hope there will be a sufficiently large public outburst of opposition, eg thanks to Hersh's and other's revelations, to make it impossible....However I believe there is very little time: an attack may well happen within the next 2 weeks, while Congress is in recess. There is no advantage to those that want it to happen in waiting."
IMO, this is just one more example of unmitigated war hysteria, twaddle and nonsense:
  1. Any general can resign and thereby not have to carry out illegal or immoral orders.
  2. There is no way the U.S. is going to attack Iran at this time with bombing that would kill large numbers of Russians, who are currently working there.
  3. The suggestion that any bombing campaign would go nuclear is not only stupid, it is obviously wrong and clearly reveals either total ignorance of U.S. capability with conventional weapons or purposely slanted and dishonest rhetoric for political reasons--or both.

Iran is a serious and complex problem. It will not go away soon. The notion that the U.S. is gearing up for a quick surprise attack on Iran is baseless.
Iran: "a serious and complex problem that will not go away"?

If you take a step back and look at the big picture, the neocon's hearts are just not in it like they were with Iraq.  They'd rather spend money on radio broadcasts and warn the public about oil addiction than gear up for another military adventure.  Hell, they've put the IAEA at the forfront of negotiations.  ElBaradei is a sure bet to recommend to the Security Council that they stay engaged, continue inspections, and avoid driving the Iranians away from the Non Proliferation Treaty.

If you want to know how the "Crisis" with Iran is going to turn out, don't look at Iraq for the "scenario avoidance" gameplan, look to North Korea.  Remember that "Crisis".  Remember Bush saying that the US would not allow NK to obtain nuclear weapons?  The administration misplayed their hand, NK withdrew from the NPT, enriched their Uranium, and started up a Plutonium program.  Crisis over.  Turn off the PR machine.  We'll get back to those 6-party talks right after we solve Social Security...

The Administration probably would like to avoid that progression again.  The US has no military option in Iran.  The Generals are making that clear.  In another 2 weeks the Security Council will call for continued inspections, Radio Condi will crank up in Qatar, and the artificial "Crisis" will be soon forgotten.

I am not sure that Cherenkov's POV should be summarily reduced to "hysteria. twaddle and nonsense".

It is not clear to me (and I suspect I am not alone) what the decision making process is with respect to striking Iran.

Does the President have a standing authorization to do so?

Is Congress expected to issue a specific "resolution"?

Has the concept of "terrorism" changed our Constitutional schema on war powers?  

I am sure there are other questions, but the fact that Cherenkov can suggest the possibility of a "recess" war, much like we have a "recess" political appointments, has merit.

Here's a scary take on why the ex-generals are suddenly coming out of the woodwork to condemn Rumsfeld for his handling of Iraq:

It's not to fix Iraq - that's a lost cause.  It's to save the US Army from Iran.  The generals know that Rumsfeld is telling Bush that the military can handle Iran.  That a little precision bombing will solve the problem.  But the military knows it will be more complicated than that.  That they will be fighting Iranians in Southern Iraq.  That they will need to occupy portions of Iran to protect oil (and military supplies) flowing through the Gulf.

Attacking Iran might mean the end of the USA as a Superpower.  The Iranians know it, the US military knows it.  Does Bush know it?

The US military has not ever, even the in the dark depths of the Cold War, had the capability to fight a 3 front war. Pentagon-commissioned expert reports over the slow erosion of US combat capability have been coming out over the last year, and a large portion of US ground equipment is reaching the end of its reasonable expected livelihood.  Recruitment numbers are terrible, morale is beginning to sag, and the stop loss (back door draft) system is taking its toll on those still serving, many now on their third tour.  The generals are well aware of this, having been both boots on the ground and eyes on the target, they have a much better appreciation for the "up front" situation than some armchair quarterback in Washington.

Iran would put the icing on the cake.

A three front war by W??   UNDERESTIMATE OF THE NUMBER OF FRONTS.  One could claim that "W" with help from others of like mind is jumping into a 6-front war.  At least

Front 1.  Hugo Chavez of Venezuela as we send an aircraft carrier battle group down there to supposedly influence him (Actually this kind of useless  pushing around helps assure Chavez's re-election. Note that Castro's golden anniversary of 50 years in power will arrive soon as the result of pretty much the same sort of thing)

Front 2.  Pretty much all of Latin America is rejecting our particular "American libertarian economic model" which truly does little for the majority of latins who are poor but nationalistic.  It looks like a dustup could be a-comin.under our noses if we keep pushing the Latins.  (I should mention, part of my family is Peruvian)   Chavez, the Olanta Humalla/David Garcia  runoff in Peru, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Nestor Kirchner, Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Michelle Bachelet in Chile, over 60% of Latin America socialist and seceding from the US economic aproach. Doing things their own way and doing better at taking better care of their poor, and telling the US to take a walk.  More going soon.  Watch us build a wall with Mexico, keep  up with our war in Iraq, (what a help that is!!), and so, help Obrador win Mexico.  

Front 3  Iraq.  Pretty obvious

Front 4  Iran.  Pretty obvious

FRont 5.  The US public and senior retired generals like Zinni, Newbold, Odom, and several others speaking out (At long last!!.  I also happen to be a US military vet).  

Front 6.  Al Quaida, likely not the worst of our real problems but who make wonderful politically exploitable and exploited boogeymen .  

There are of course more war fronts -- if fronts above do not suffice.  For example we are doing our very best to alieate the very same countries that can export 80% of the world's oil.  These are the countries who we presumably expect to fuel Hummers and SUV's of the USA as peak oil bears down on us.

I have stated a contrarian view for over a year, half seriously and half jokingly.  The view is that "W" was actually put into office as the optimum machiavellian plot by Osama to destroy the USA, where public knowledge of the outside world is sufficiently limited that this could actually work.  At least the evidence is supporting this

Couldn't resist this.  This could be really funny, if only it weren't so serious.  

Your twist at the end seems like one of my favorite things to do in my stories.  

The end of our nation as we grew up to know it is in the works.  My Dad served 21 years in the Air Force and Army and I have lived all over Western Europe, and the USA.  It has been bothering me for years and years seeing what has been going on with our once proud Men and Women in the Armed Services.  Having gone through a major Moral dropping time in my last job which just so happened to do a lot of Gov't work.  (( the lost of a GGI contract bid, having to get totally ISO-Certified just to do Gov't work, and getting new Grading scales for our work, 1 to 3 errors in up to 10,000 data points,  really put the stress and moral thrashers on us ))

I expect that I will see a major dropping in the Moral across the Board of those That do REALLY support our Troops If we don't pull out due to the 2007 installment of a new congress, or the 2009 installment of a new president, hopefully Our Troops might get to come home again,  but somehow I doubt it.  

Africa, Pacific, Europe....123

This war has no front that is why its hard to fight.

That's something I've thought about as well, but really they might be coming out if Bush and/or Rummy are getting serious about Iran.  This depowers them both.
It seems there comes a point where the Army realizes the Leadership is insane. Officer's in Hitler's army got to the point of trying to off him, officers in the Japanese military knew going to war with the US was insane (the US was a real superpower then) and spoke up, all through history when political goals have been pursued militarily and become militarily insane, the military has started to split off.

I voted for Bush - Kerry and the Dems scare me even more, they gave us the War Powers Act, and their reply to Bush's fighting of the war is to protest that they can do it better - kill more Iraqui kids and conscript more American working-class kids. The idea that maybe there should be NO war is utterly inconcievable to the Dem leadership.

That being said, if Bush or whatever Dem flack we end up with in a few years attacks Iran, that's the end for me. I guess I'll become a fulltime protester. Drop out as much as possible from the economy and protest fulltime. It will be the end for the US as a first-world country anyway, so I might as well get used to getting by on sink baths and patchouli.

As a nominal Republican, who is feeling more independent these days, I think it is a generic problem of politicians trapped by their previous positions.  Since everybody in power signed on to this misbegotten war, everyone has to protect some semblance of meaning for their 2003 position.

It's kinda strange that the Democrats look sillier only because we think they should know better.  The Republicans get a free pass, being wrong, but not silly.

Think about it man, that's the reason Bush wants withdrawal to be the next president's problem.  It lets him be wrong in history, without having to be silly, or a flip-flopper, or a failure in the present.

Newt Gingrich, for better or worse, understood one of the largest draws of the Republican party as remodeled by Reagan - the call to fiscal conservatism. And mind you, with a Democrat in the White House (Clinton), a Republican congress (congress being responsible for passing the budget) did help balance the budget and pay down some of the debt. That fiscal conservatism was a major draw and Gingrich drove the entire party to embrace that with their "contract with America".

I live in Tom DeLay's district and many people, myself included, told pollsters that we were absolutely disgusted with DeLay. Was it the investigations? Not at all. We figure the law will decide if a crime has been committed or not. (I think there has but that was not the point of the pollster's call.) So what has so many of us annoyed at old Tom about his recortd in Congress? Well, a Republican congress and a Republican White House has meant over 14,000 pork barrel projects annually, during which old Tom was speaker of the House and the driving force behind almost all of that pork. I discussed this with my wife, reminding her that the Democrats had peaks of 1500 pork barrel projects annually when they controlled congress. At that point we both concluded that the cure (Republicans) was worse than the disease (Democrats).

The Republicans are very much at risk these days but what's funny is that the Democrats are just mirror images of the Republicans now, at least all those who tend towards leadership roles and who the party will let through the nominating process. So what we'll get from the Democrats is a lukewarm version of GWB (aka Hillary). Mind you, that's probably better than GWB but it's like saying that a 102 degree fever is better than a 105 degree fever. The fever is still there and you're still sick.

That's why I liked Alan's "Freedom Party" platform in the other thread. It's probably way past time for a new political party in the US but such probably can't succeed at a national level given the deliberate blockades thrown into the legal system by the existing parties.

Enter Don Sailorman and Alan and Billy the Bison and the American Sustainability platform, funded by Richard Rainwater, Matthew Simmons, and grassroots.

If its sounds far-fetched, consider that even if it has a 5% chance of working thats 5% greater than the chance we have now we traditional corporate governance.

In all honesty I have dropped out of the Economy.  This year I might rack in about 3,000 dollars.  But I will likely make most of it after June, I think I have made about 90 dollars so far this year.  

You all wonder how the heck I am online.  I am a vagabond in my brother's house.  Simple.  In a few months I will be an unpaid house fixer.  I'll live in a walkable town.  I'll have a strong back and able hands and feet.  Odd jobs and cash and carry,  not such a bad life.  Most of you wouldn't live it though, a lot of you can't, I have no kids and no spouse, am fairly healthy at 42 and can forage  most places in North America on the plants in the wild.

But I will have a van's load of tools and my two pets, dog and a cat, and for a while a shed to call home.  

Ps.  I dislike Patchouli,  I like citrus and pine scents.  Try crushed Winter Sorel (( also a great source of Vitamin C )) or use the many essential oils from a good bulk health food place to scent your sink bath water.  I have two spare sinks let me know if you need one.

I work as a security guard because it lets me invent without having to sign intellectual property agreements. What's your excuse for dropping out?
Get a part time job or something. Don't romanticise the situation. Romantic, adventurous times require practical people.
Iran Leader: Israel Will Be Annihilated;_ylt=AhnaSrU8LFgtkLv4bE4px.Ss0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYw N0bQ--

This link describes one casus belli.

The UN Resolution expires on April 28th. I expect we will wake on the 29th to a very different world. April 29th is exactly 16 days from the date of an inflammatory Bloomberg headline.

Ahmadinejad wants this conflict as much as Bush does. Both seek increased national acceptance of failed administrations. This is a plot that Shakespere should have written.

The President can take military action without prior approval from Congress. Within 90 days of the start of that conflict he has to obtain both approval and further funding from Congress.

In one of his "signing statements" George II has stated his belief that he has constitutional authority to wage war without seeking any form of Congressional approval whatsoever. He can now claim that since there was no objection to that signing statement that his claim has been accepted by Congress.
"...I sought an additional resolution of support from the Congress to use force against Iraq, should force become necessary. While I appreciate receiving that support, my request for it did not, and my signing this resolution does not, constitute any change in the long-standing positions of the executive branch on either the president's constitutional authority to use force to deter, prevent, or respond to aggression or other threats to U.S. interests or on the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution."
  1. Eventually, Bush will find a general who is willing to salute, say "Yes Sir", and execute those immoral orders.
  2. Just tell the Russians to leave. If they don't, the attitude of this Administration would be, "Then it's their own fault." After the unnecessary deaths of 30,000+ Iraqis in a totally avoidable war, do you really think Bush and company cares about a few more unnecessary deaths? And what could Russia do about it anyway? The Administration's reply to that question would be, "Who cares?" It's called "hubris". Look it up; the definition is a perfect description of the Bush Bunch.
  3. The US Army has 134,000 soldiers tied down in Iraq by a few thousand insurgents. The US is unable to keep civil order, defeat the insurgents, avoid roadside bombs, prevent boarder crossings from Syria and Iran, or prevent the mass killings of Sunni and Shi'ite civilians. Once the US has bombed the heck out of Iran, it will still have to face the potential of their 500,000 man army converting to thousands of Muslim guerilla cells. And if the US can't beat a few thousand insurgents in Iraq, what will happen when it has to combat a few thousand cells of guerillas in Iran AND Iraq? Anyone who thinks Iran is going to wilt when the US attacks them, has absolutely no knowledge of the history of the wars of the 20th Century. In addition, when the US starts to lose in Iran, it won't hesitate to fall back on its nukes--and Bush will find a willing general to say, "Yes Sir!"
That 30,000+ is more like 100,000+ excess deaths.
Don Sailorman -

I wish I could be as certain as you are regarding this notion that the Bush regime will never attack Iran.

You give very good reasons for them not to do so.  However, I must point out that there were also very good reasons not to attack Iraq, but they did it anyway.

 Ruthless people do ruthless things; arrogant people do arrogant things; and dillusional people to irrational things. Since the people currently running the show are ruthless, arrogant, and dillusional, I still think there is plenty to worry about.

But, as with almost everything, time will tell ....  possibly sooner than later.

I do not assert that the U.S. will never attack Iran.

If we were to attack Iran, here is what I think would probably happen first:

  1. We try to get a resolution from the U.N., so as to give us legal justification; for example, this happened before U.S. (officially U.N., but it was mostly U.S. with significant help from several other countries) invaded South Korea in 1950.
  2. Assuming that the U.S. fails in the U.N. due to a Security Council veto, or for some other reason, then I think it is extremely likely that any U.S. president would try to get a "coalition of the willing" to execute the war, as happened under the first Bush in the first Gulf War. Obviously, that would take a good deal of time--probably many months, possibly much longer.
  3. The most effective war against Iran would be a bombing campaign over an extended period of time to shut down its electrical generating and distribution system. No electricity, no uranium enrichment. No electricity, no air conditioning. No electricity, no functioning refineries or pipelines. Notice that invasion and occupation by ground troops is NOT needed to shut down Iran's nuclear ambitions indefinitely.
  4. I have no crystal ball. But the notion that we are going to invade Iran (with what troops, exactly????) at this time or any time in the next few weeks or months is without foundation.
   As much as I appreciate your informative posts, I have to voice my profound disagreement with your position regarding the possibility of military action in Iran. I would wholehardetly agree with you, but not for the fact that the past 5 and 1/2 years of observing the Bush administration, I have seen nothing but deceit, dishonesty and a wholesale contempt of international law and the democratic process. There is always a reason for things to happen, and the various former military commanders who are speaking out are doing so now...not last year, when things were going so obviously bad in Iraq, but as war talk in the Pentagon and the White House is heating up. I mean, what was different last year from today, other than the fac that;
  A. More Americans and Iraqis have been killed
  B. Billions more of our tax dollars squandered
  C. The Iraqis elected a parliament, that has so far succeeded in lots of bickering and mistrust between all parties involved, while the Shiite/Sunni insurgency/civil war has gotten a hell of a lot worse.
  Furthermore, if you look at the folks who are in positions of power in this administration, such as Steven Hadley, John Bolten and others, they have gone on record stating that tactical nuclear weapons should be considered no different than the use of conventional weapons when employed in war operations. Throw in the mix a President of the USA who may have some kind of 'divine mandate' to liberate the middle east and give them democracy, and the President of Iran, who has something to prove (IE Iran is not going to be pushed around by a country that has been meddleing in their affairs off and on for the past 50 overthrowing Mossadegh and installing the Shah, arming Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war, ect).
   Neither side is giving any indication of backing down, which in and of itself would have serious domestic consequences for either politician. Just a few moments ago, in fact, George II came out with a statement of full support for Rumsfeld. Any attack on Iran will solidify support for the hardliners in that country, who will strike back at us any and every way they can.
   As for the possibility of a UN vote, do you really believe the UN is going to authorize military action against Iran after the blatant lies and propaganda this administration employed to go to war with Iraq? I don't have a terribly high opinion of the UN, but I don't think they are that stupid to fall for something like that again. Particularly with Russia and China on the Security Council. They have their own interests to look after, and that does not include the US bombs falling on Tehran.
   As for another 'coalition of the willing'...just would go along for this ride? The 'coalition of the willing' formed for the Iraq war has shrunk considerably since the start of that fiasco, and what country or countries do you think would be so crazy as to join us now? Tonga? Benin? Lichtenstien? Even the UK wants no part of that craziness.
   So, let's say, for instance, as you stated, we start a sustained bombing campaign on Iran. Do you think they are going to sit there and take it? How do you think they would retaliate? Personally, if I were those guys (the Iranian leadership) of the many options available, the first would be to fire as many missiles as possible into the Green zone of Baghdad, Balad Air base and wherever large concentrations of American/Coalition troops are located. That would be just for starters.
   Don, the observable actions of these guys (Bush and the Necons, The Mullahs and Aminijad (sp?)) are not those of rational people. Both sides are engaged in a game of Chicken. Both have much to lose if they blink, but percieve much to gain by staying the course. In the long run, it would be suicide for both parties, but not before a lot of people get killed and the entire region (maybe even the world) erupts in anti-American violence.

 Subkommander Dred

I couldn't have put your first paragraph better.  Many of us in the legal profession, even nominal Republicans, are more than dismayed at the Bush admnistration's relentless attack on the Constitution and the Rule of Law.
Sorry to have to say it guys, but there is a lot of preconception in all defendants of the "we are going to war" supporters. I can't help the feeling that some of us are indeed wanting this to happen. As to why? Maybe to confirm those same preconceptions?

First of all there is are miles of detachment between what should happen if we were headed to war and what we are observing. For war preparation first of all you have to convince your own people - I see the ant-Iranian propaganda but I don't see the pro-war propaganda. Quite the opposite actually.

Second do you really believe that the guys that rule us are some isolated gang that somehow got to power and now are determined to  destroy the Middle East, their own country and their own political future just for fun? What Bush did in Iraq, and his current intimidation of Iran are just a logical continuation of our policy in the Middle East from the past 5 decades. This has nothing to do with Rummsfeld's credentials and even less to do with the personality of that clown George II. Not them, but the people standing behind them calculated that it was in US interest to attack Iraq and that they could get away relatively unharmed, so they did it - and BTW quite more successfully than most of us argue (from neocons point of view of course). Even a 6 year old boy can make the same calculation for Iran and see that they can as well order bombing of Washington DC - it is very likely we will infer less losses from that.

Actually, I think the bold text is wrong.

We have had interests in the middle east.  We used the CIA covertly in the middle east.  We used overt military power to maintain stability in the middle east (Carter Doctrine).

The dangerous extension, which should not get a free pass, is the Neocon vision that we take overt military power and use that to remake the middle east as we like it.  That is what brings us a whole new level of blowback and quagmire.

We have had interests in the middle east.  We used the CIA covertly in the middle east.  We used overt military power to maintain stability in the middle east (Carter Doctrine).

Yes we did. But times chaned and now peak oil is sight. Stakes are higher and the means are harsher now. Tell me what of the old tricks would have worked for us to secure our position in Middle East for the next decades? Israel is losing its war, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are peaking and are potentialy unstable. With USA becoming more dependant on Middle East wasn't occupying Afganistan and then Iraq the just a logical step forward? Yes, Iraq is in chaos now, but these guys are building military bases that will stay forever. I expect that in the long-turm Iraq will be devided, weakened and turned in not much more than an oil-producing concentration camp. Meanwhile the non-produced oil stays in the ground - a fact being fully appreciated by our friends in the IOCs, and will be appreciated even more at the time when oil will be needed much more than now.

Mind you I am not trying to be an advocate of these people - for me this is a sick logic of a criminal, and all of them have to be held responsible for military crimes. But if you want to fight your enemy you must first understand how he thinks... it is very easy to underestimate him, if you think he makes stupid mistakes from your point of view.

You said "What Bush did in Iraq, and his current intimidation of Iran are just a logical continuation of our policy in the Middle East from the past 5 decades."

I'm just pointing out that he did take it further, by "extension" rather than just "continuation."

What would I do?  I'd balance it very differently.  I'd maintain stability (the old rule), and argue for peace (the old moral high ground), while trying to race other nations to higher energy efficiency.

I think people with oil would have sold it.  None of them have so dynamic an economy that they can live as well with the pumps turned off.  And we would have been rich enough to buy the oil we need off the global market - especially with efficiency gains.

Remember these guys went after both "efficiency" and "Iraq" in a dual pronged attack.  It is only now that, maybe, we gt back around to efficiency changes at home.

I never actually saw an attack or an organised resistanse to efficiency... The way I see it there are vested interests for us to go on like we've used to - from oil, auto, construction companies etc. Our way of life is setup around and is both providing and is depending on growth of consumption of cars and houses. It is truly "non-negotiatable" in this sense - read that the costs of restructuring it would be prodigious... and if/when we start restructuring it most of the companies depending on it will probably have to go out of business.

You can say (rightfully) that efficiency will provide opportunities for other businesses to evolve. But I fear that these are not the businesses holding the money and hence the power in our country.

The history of the Bush admin and the CAFE standard provide an example.
Personally, I'm trying to do what Europeans should have done when they saw war approaching during the summer of 1914--namely, stop the insanity before it gets out of hand and we have another century of pointless, useless bloodshed. I resent being called, essentially, a warmonger, while I am speaking out against the insane war talk (and plans) coming out of the US Administration. Of course, if you really believe the war in Iraq has been somewhat of a success, then you probably have no problem trusting this administration no matter what, and attributing to its critics the most base malice. Personnaly, I take the Administration at face value: they attacked a country with which we were not at war, and three years into the resulting debacle have proven their incompetence. Then, to cap that incompetence, they have called the debacle good, and are now planning to repeat the whole cycle in Iran.
The Europeans did actually think a lot about what to do in the event of war breaking out. The various Socialist and Social Democratic parties all over the continent realised that the coming war would be very bloody, because the sides were so evenly matched, weapons technology had advanced greatly, and lessons had been learned about the importance of railways for moving vast numbers of soldiers and supplies, and 'plugging' gaps in defensive lines.

Anyway the opposition parties agreed that they would simply not fight in a war that most of them agreed would be a 'capitlist and imperialist' war, that had nothing to do with the interests of the working-class. They vowed not to fight, and devised plans to launch mass ant-war demonstrations and Geneal Strikes to strangle the war- machine.

Sadly, the leaders of the workers' movements grossly underestimated the incredibly power of wartime propaganda, as expressed in the mass-circulation newspapers, and the cultural importance of 'patriotism' and 'love of country.' This war was also described at a great war to save civilization from barbarism. It's the same old story, but what a powerful story it is!

In Germany, for example, the Social Democrats and all the other major parties were invited to meet with the Kaiser. This was an honour, a reward and a recognition. The Kaiser reportedly said to the assembled political representatives, 'Gentlemen, we are no longer Conservatives, Liberals or Socialists. None of that matters anymore. Today, Gentlemen, we are only Germans!'

"Particularly with Russia and China on the Security Council. They have their own interests to look after, and that does not include the US bombs falling on Tehran."

I think you are wrong. At least about russian intentions.
I had said that earlier and I repeat that again. Here in Russia no one wants to have another nuclear neighbor across the Caspian Sea. And taking into account the hard-line position of the president of Iran, the bombing is obviously the only way to stop Iran. But of course Russia herself will not bomb Iran. Why, if she could leave that dirty business to America while taking advantage of selling arms and nuclear construction services. Such position has a few benefits:

1 profit from the trade with Iran
2 good relations with Muslim world
3 higher price of oil as a result of aggravated tension in ME
4 higher damage for America in the war with Iran
5 and ultimately done to the wide non-nuclear Iran

Maybe it's too cynically but I would call it "realpolitik".

Putin remembers how effective the American Stingers were against the Soviet pilots in Afghanistan.  Besides, he wants more power for Russia, and the way to get it is to slice up the power of the one Superpower when they fade to black.

Iran, nukes or not, is chump change.  The real prize here is America's carcass.

What you say makes no sense whatsoever. Iran does not even have a common border with Russia.
The Russian state has absolutely nothing to lose from Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. But some powerful people in Russia have their own reasons for opposing it, and they have  ... some things in common ... with many of the warmongers in the US.
Are the actions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc., "rational"?

IF you grant their premises, then their conclusions follow logically. However, in your opinion--and also in my opinion--their premises are tragically wrong.

To paraphrase a cynical wit of times past, Iraq is worse than a tragedy; it is a blunder.

Now comes the issue at hand: Will Bush & Co. make a similar tragic blunder in Iran during coming weeks or months?

I do not think so. Why? For reasons I've stated elsewhere, but also because these creatures are political animals. Politicians hate to lose, and there are elections coming in Nov. Anything Bush does to lose what little support he has left is going to cost the Republicans seats in the House of Representatives, and (to a lesser extent) in the U.S. Senate. To oversimplify somewhat, I think Rove will tell the President not to do anything that will make a bad situation worse.

Every now and then I have a fantasy that political leaders will do something intelligent. These fantasies have yet to be translated into reality, but one of them is that Bush will declare victory in Iraq and pull out tens of thousands of U.S. troops before November's election. Let me say again, this is NOT a prediction, merely a fantasy-wish.

It kinda hurts in way to say this, but the Don is wrong!

What we're witnessing is a kind of 'soft mutiny' by retired military personnel who are acting as 'channels' for serving officers who cannot just stand up and oppose Rumsfeld and the Whitehouse, this is just the tip of the iceberg. And the opposition in the US military can't and should not, just resign. This would allow other, more pliable, officers to take their place and the 'crazy' politicians would find it even easier to push their ideas through. This is why people are talking to Hersh. It is a cry for help from influential sections of the military who are really worried about where we are heading.

The Bush Whitehouse and it's supporters outside, is like a 'court', it has surrounded itself with retainers who are prepaired to do it's bidding and who show absolute loyalty to the power at the centre. They rely on the power of the 'monarch' and he relies on them for support. It's a reciprocal arangement about controlling, using and keeping, Power. Personally I don't think this has much to do with 'democracy', it's more like the structure of a European court, with a powerful monarch, before the enlightenment and the growth of representative democracy. I would contend we're in the age of 'un-representative' democracy. Is it really a kind of 'Feudal Democracy' we're now seeing the birth of?

I'm really concerned about the same things some of these generals are worried about. The uncontrolled accumulation of power in the President in his role as Commander-in-Chief in time of war. It would appear that the Whitehouse sees this role as the 'supreme power' of the land, over and above the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, the Congress and the Supreme Courts. Much like the ancient Greeks, who in a time of crisis gave unlimited power to one man for a limited period of time - the Dictator. This may well be the core issue we have to face here. Is the role of the Commander-in-Chief rapidly morphing into something close to the role of Dictator? A leader whose primary role is that of Lord High Protector. It's almost feudal in some ways isn't it? The leader vows to protect us from harm, and we give him our loyalty and promise him our 'subservience.'

I should add that I really hope Don is right and there is nothing really to worry about. That 9/11 and Iraq didn't signal the end of the American Republic and Democracy. There may still be a chance to save it. Unfortunately, I think the generals Hersh has written about know more than the rest of us and Don Sailorman. If we do attack Iran I think it's resonable to contend that 'Democracy' will also be a casualty of the war.

If I am mistaken, please show
  1. which of my premises is wrong or
  2. what evidence I am suppressing or
  3. what error of logic I have committed to make the form of my argument invalid.

Oh, BTW, you were ENTIRELY in the wrong in your row with your daughter over the actions of the Paris Commune in 1871. How do I know this to be true? Because
  1. Your daughter reads books. Thank God or your lucky stars for that.
  2. Your daughter has heard of the Paris Commune. That puts her in the top tenth of the top one percent for non-French teenagers these days for historical knowledge.
  3. Your daughter has opinions. (I suspect this tendency may be hereditary;-)
  4. Your daughter models herself on her wonderful mother, who is never wrong.
  5. Therefore your daughter is never wrong. (No healthy teenager in history has been otherwise.)
  6. Give her a hug, make up, take her to a bike shop and buy her the nicest pair of bicycling gloves her heart desires to make amends. Or maybe a biking jersey.
For what it's worth, Major General John Batiste (ret) gave an interesting reason for the "why":

I think it is absolutely coincidental. It's happening for a reason. It's happening on the throes of the "Cobra 2" book publication. I think there's a lot of people now starting to ask questions, and I think that's healthy in a democracy.

That book, at Amazon

 I am reading Cobra II now. From the first few chapters it is very clear that Franks was made to reduce his desired force levels from the original OPLAN 1003-98 number of 380,000 down to 250,000 to meet the demands of Rumsfeld and Bush.
It probably goes back to the draft issue.  To do it right, we probably needed a draft.  But if he'd asked for a draft he wouldn't have gotten a war.  So Bush did a war on the hope that he could do it on the cheap.

BTW, Col. Wilkinson was on C-SPAN yesterday.  He was saying that the reason for all the outsourcing, private security firms, etc., was the health-care-driven cost of service personnel.  I didn't know that there are no more cooks in the Army anymore.  They are contractors, principally because contract cooks don't get the lifetime benefits of soldier cooks.  What a weird system.

TPTB within the military-industrial complex have been desperate to cut costs within the D.O.D., even as the war spending escalated.  Currently, US D.O.D. and Homeland Security employees are facing a complete revamp of the now century-old civil service system designed to save $$$, freeze or cut wages, encourage or force out those nearing retirement, and replace civil servants with contractors.  The unions are, not surprisingly, fighting it.

You may be 'right', you may be 'wrong', but never-the-less...

I just can't help it. I don't think your arguments or logic are 'formally wrong', you'd never be that careless. Formal logic, like maths, is fine, as far as it goes. Unfortunatlely one can't explain everything with numbers or logic. I wish one could.

If I say you're 'right' or 'correct' will that be enough? Will you be satisfied? Will it be enough when the bombs start falling, to be 'right' in a formal sense?

I think the 'cabal' around the Whitehouse is going to attack Iran. There is so much 'evidence' to support this view and so little to adequately explain it away. I don't really understand why you casually brush-off Sy Hersh and his sources. They are far closer to the centre of things than you or I, unless you're Don Rumsfeld in disguise?

Basically, I don't believe so many 'crazies' have ever been so close to real power, and the ability to really wreak havoc, in the entire history of the United States. This worries me, and should worry any sensible American. One can of course choose not believe the compelling, circunstantial 'evidence' that we're drawing our swords again for battle, but I fear it's that's more a question of temperament than a question of the 'validity' of one's arguments.

I really hope I don't sound disrespectful or condescending. I don't mean to be. I still kind of feel your being 'ironic' in your posts. I just get the feeling you're hoping against hope and wishing against the world that you're right and we're not heading for war again. Unfortunately, I believe the available, anecdotal evidence points in another direction, towards the battlefield and not away from it, sorry.

Larry Johnson would agree with you, in part, writerman.  

"Don Rumsfeld may want to stick it out, but stick a fork in him. His goose is cooked and his reign will soon be over."

Thanks Don. I don't trust the current administration anymore than I trusted Clinton [off topic gratuitous remark -- are these buffoonss the best that we can do?!?!] I am in agreement with your general conclusion and your three points with the exception of #2 which I do not believe is openly acknowledged, likely to occur even this a serious bombing campaign or something that in the grand scheme of things would deter an attack that was truly justified as we are not on a nuclear hair trigger with the Russians at present.
When were the Joint Chiefs removed from the chain of command?

The Joint Chiefs were established to provide guidance to the civil authority, the Secretary and the President.

The chain of command has always run from the CINCs through to the Commander in Chief.

Rumsfeld changed the CINCs title to "Combatant Commanders." They are responsible for everything within their command area. The Middle East is the rsponsibilty of Centcom.

They (the JCS) have always served in an advisory role to the President and to the Secretary of Defense.  As I pointed out in two previous posts, I think that we are seeing a coordinated effort by the retired generals and by the JCS--via the Hersh article--to stop the attack on Iran.

General Newbold went to great pains to point out that the officer corps owes its allegiance to the Constitution--and not the president.  This is a very broad hint that the military may refuse to carry out some orders that they consider to be illegal.  

Copy of part of my recent post:

The Joint Chiefs of Staff and a group of retired generals seem to be launching a coordinated attack on BCR (Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld).   They seem to be sending a message that they don't want anymore Americans and Middle Easterners to die needlessly on the alter of Neocon fantasies.

Following is an excerpt from a New York Times article on retired three star Marine General Newbold.  Pay very careful attention to the following four words:  "The distinction is important."  This is a retired three star general sending a message that the officer corps owes its allegiance to the Constitution--not to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld.

From the New York Times:

A leader's responsibility "is to give voice to those who can't -- or don't have the opportunity to -- speak," General Newbold wrote. "Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important." A leader's responsibility "is to give voice to those who can't -- or don't have the opportunity to -- speak," General Newbold wrote. "Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important."

The decision to invade Iraq, he wrote, "was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results."

Army Officer Appointment Acceptance and Oath of Office

I (insert name), having been appointed a (insert rank) in the U.S. Army under the conditions indicated in this document, do accept such appointment and do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.


I think when one takes this oath one is swearing alligence to the Constitution and Law, and not a man or individual. Am I correct? I suppose constitutional experts could spend their lives arguing about this. The infamous John Dean has been writing a lot of interesting opinions about this kind of stuff recently. I like his intellectual precision and the 'tone' of his arguments.

I am not a constitution expert or lawyer. However, it does appear that the office of president has sucked more and more Power away from the other branches of government, almost from the very start of the Republic. As I have understood it the office of president was meant to be the least powerful part of the Republican system. Wasn't the president meant to be a kind of 'guardian' of the Constitution and the Republic, and nothing like a traditional monarch. Surely the Republic was born in blood out of a hatred and firm opposition to any kind of monarchy creeping in through the back door?

Now, I think we're firmly back on the road to 'monarchy' and something close to a supportive 'aristocracy.' I'm sure these concepts may sound bizarre to many Americans. Much the same process is decernable in other countries too. For example the United Kingdom, where the Prime Minister, Tony Blair increasingly talks and acts like a monarch and not the servant of the people. Power seems to be concentrating in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

The central question would appear to be. Is Bush a usurper? Is he unilaterally assuming powers he is not entitled to under the provisions of the Constitution? It would appear that a lot of people think he is unlawfully taking power unto himself to a degree not seen in modern times. On the other hand, there are people in the Penatagon and the Justice Department that are telling him he can do this is time of war, and that his powers as Commander-in-Chief are almost unlimited. This is a dangerous precident to set, maybe the next President, won't be as 'nice' as Bush. Will he still have these 'unlimited powers' or even more power? If these powers are only considered 'lawful' because the US is 'at war'if the war lasts 'forever' will these powers and the new role of the President last forver too?

Finally, is the US really at war? If the US in not at war is the president really the Commander-in-Chief? Can the president claim powers as a 'war president' when there is no war? Can one fight terrorist gangs with huge armies? Is this the correct strategy? Clearly these sort of questions need to be defined and thought about and debated. I don't think I know all the answers, but the questions do interest me.


I'm no constitutional expert, but as Newbold pointed out there is no mention of the chain of command in the Officer's oath, while it is explicitly in the enlisted oath.  

The Nuremberg trials established that the "I was just following orders" defense is no defense for crimes against humanity.  

IMO, Newbold, in political terms, set off a tactical nuke in Washington, DC.  I am somewhat amazed that more people haven't picked up on the incredible significance of his remarks.   This three star retired Marine General is, in effect, suggesting that senior officers may have a moral/legal obligation to refuse to carry out orders issued by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld (BCR).

In regard to the broader issues, yes I think that BCR have set us down a path toward a fascist state.   You will recall your post, where you noted that Hersh quoted some current officers in the Pentagon as using the terms "irrational" and "Hitler" to describe Bush.  

Ladies and gentlemen, these are not a bunch of Greenpeacers protesting in favor of peace.  These are senior, serious military experts with decades of experience, who are, in effect, warning us that they are deeply concerned about:  (1)  our republic and (2)  World War III.  

We hung several dozen people as a result of the Nuremburg Court. Those were the people who gave orders and implemented policy, not the ones who followed orders and did not make decisions. Specifically, we never hung anyone for working in a death camp, but only for being the commander of a death camp, and not many even for that.
How many enlistees or current military have even read the US constitution?

PricewaterhouseCoopers has issued a report predicting an energy crisis that will lead to "revolutionary" change.

Not getting much coverage, except for this story from Uganda:

Energy Crisis Likely to Cause Global Environmental Catastrophe

The global energy industry must reform fundamentally to move fast to avert the full impact of an environmental catastrophe that is already unfolding, spawning deadly consequences for human survival, according to report by the PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

A result of a survey of 116 top executives at the world's leading energy companies, the report released yesterday says the most popular opinion passionately echoed in boardrooms across the world was of the "need to adopt a 10-year plan to halt environmental damage, developing new technologies and finding new fuel sources," The sort of change needed, PWC said, was nothing short of a revolution in the energy industry to give it enough capability to respond to the emerging challenges of supply disruption and growth rigidities, exploding demand and environmental crisis.

This report's observations strike a particularly familiar note in Uganda where an unsettling power crisis is inflicting immeasurable damage to the economy. That electricity shortage has been blamed in part on the lowering of Lake Victoria water levels, itself caused by the effect of global warming that has seen persistent droughts become more frequent and higher lake-surface evaporation rates.

Just curious - I have read that several European oil companies have paid off their 'taxes' in Venezuela, while ExxonMobil (full disclosure - I do own shares, essentially from my grandfather) seems to be a holdout.

Coincidentally, the U.S. seems to be sending a few fleet units for whatever reason to remind everyone again how American oil policy is based on something other than simple faith in free markets and national borders.

Since it is likely that Chavez's 'taxes' are less than 1% of ExxonMobil's quarterly profits, how much does it cost us for ExxonMobil to not play ball? I mean, it isn't like the company doesn't know how to pay bribes or skim profits, etc.

In other words, do the carriers cost the American taxpayers (of which ExxonMobil is not at the first rank, since first class accountants and various political contributions/connections ensure profitability while reducing/changing/delaying/writing off/ignoring various tax obligations) cost Americans more than it would cost ExxonMobil to just pay its 'bills' and pass it along anyways? Or am I just being dense?

Naval manuvers in the Caribean happen every spring.
I realize that various exercises are going on all sorts of schedules - the point was a touch different, as this quote makes clear -

"There's no other symbol of American power like the carrier," said the Southern Command's chief of staff.

Combined with this quote -

'Exxon Mobil Corp. last year sold its stake in a small Venezuelan oil field rather than submit to the new fiscal terms. Regarding the royalty issues, Exxon officials said in an e-mail, "Exxon Mobil wishes to explore an amicable resolution...and continues to have a long-term perspective of its activities in Venezuela."

you have to wonder what ExxonMobil's long term planning is.

But hey, don't worry, the American military is always planning and/or practicing routinely, so when a carrier group or two shows up near China when threats are directed towards Taiwan, it is just as comforting to know that such occurences are merely routine, whether scheduled exercises, a friendly port call, or just using international waters in a robust way, and have nothing to do with any other considerations. Don't you agree?

The point, snide as it may be, remains - is ExxonMobil counting on a 'symbol of American power' as part of its 'long-term perspective of its activities in Venezuela'? Everyone else just pays cash, of which even poor old ExxonMobil could probably scrape a few billion together this quarter.

Somehow, ExxonMobil clearing the decks seems to be an appropriate metaphor of its actions over the last few months.

And since the U.S. Navy doesn't post information on the Web like it used to, it would be interesting to see what the planned exercises encompass - you know, practice storming oil facilities to prevent their destruction by a crazed nationalist madman, for example, or just getting a feel for the region by overflying major shipping routes/oil facilities while helping the Columbians manage insurgency concerns on a border shared with another oil producer, just coincidentally headed by a nationalist madman in the eyes of ExxonMobil, I'm sure. And of course, if they just happen to trigger off a few air defense radars, jangle a few nerves, maybe even splash a hostile threat or two, well, this is just proof again that those old Cold War tricks play well in today's world. Rumsfeld needs all the help he can get in military transformation, and proving just how useful a carrier group could be in ensuring a reliable flow of revenue for ExxonMobil would certainly be the sort of competence and vision I have come to expect.

Exxon/Mobile could not exist without the US military, funded by taxpayers.  It has therefore no right to any "profits" until it has repayed the taxpayers, which it will never be able to do.

That's not to say it isn't useful to run the organization as a semi-private company, but this notion that they are an independant company entitled to huge profits is nuts.

The choice is pretty easy between spending "your" money vs. getting someone else to pay.

Exxon/Mobile could not exist without the US military, funded by taxpayers.

Sure they could. We would all just pay a heck of a lot more for our gasoline. In fact, Exxon might be even more profitable if we hadn't gone into the Middle East because oil and gas would be even more difficult to get and they could charge an even higher premium for it.


That would have probably been a good thing.  The US military has been employed to make the world safe for big oil for a lot longer than this Iraq debacle.

I maintain that the size of the oil industry, when combined with the magnitude of the defense budget required to keep it going and the essential nature of the product for the functioning of the nation, mean that the big oil companies have not, will not, and could not function as anything other than state organs.  

What is called "profit" for the oil companies is just US taxpayer money that has been siphoned off.  OK, that is the system we created, and it would be tough to determine what it would look like if that hadn't happened. Maybe oil would have been a lot more expensive (and the price more stable), and volumes lower, if history had been different and oil companies had operated as entities separate from the US government - it would just be guessing.

My objection is to the usual "have it both ways" attitude - come running back to suck on the national teat when the going gets tough (those Iranians want to control their own oil [1952], or the Taliban won't play ball with that NG pipeline, Chavez want us to pay TAXES!), but play the big man about town when the money's rolling in.  

'We would all just pay a heck of a lot more for our gasoline.'

IE, we DO pay a heck of a lot for the gas, we just put in most of it as our taxes, and the people who walk, bike, straphang AND drive, are all supporting that end of the bill.  Startin' to sound a lot like Nationalized Oil Businesses, with a sexy freemarket veneer!

WaPo reports that things have gotten so bad they'll shoot you for a glass of water:

Dying for Water in Somalia's Drought

Amid Anarchy, Warlords Hold Precious Resource

RABDORE, Somalia -- Villagers call it the "War of the Well," a battle that erupted between two clans over control of a watering hole in this dusty, drought-stricken trading town.

By the time it ended two years later, 250 men were dead. Now there are well widows, well warlords and well warriors.

"We call them the 'warlords of water,' " Fatuma Ali Mahmood, 35, said in a raspy voice about the armed men who control access to water sources.

One day last year, Mahmood's husband went out in search of water. Two days later, he was found dead, she said as an infant on her back cried and nine other children tugged at her torn dress. He was shot when an angry crowd began fighting over the well, she said.

In Somalia, a well is as precious as a town bank, controlled by warlords and guarded with weapons. During the region's relentless three-year drought, water has become a resource worth fighting and dying over.

...The U.N. World Food Program hires heavily armed men to help protect villagers as they pick up water, cooking oil and sorghum. Still, gunmen sometimes force women to give up their water or food as they walk back to their villages.

"Even when local people are good and plan out water catchment systems, warlords just take it over. That's why we have so many people drinking horrible water with worms and dirt and getting very ill," said Abdul Rashid, a Somali nurse in Rabdore who works with the International Medical Corps, a nonprofit relief group. "It's like the start of the water wars right here in Somalia."

It's like to get worse before it gets better.  Scientists are blaming ocean warming for the drought.

There is a scene in the movie Lawrence of Arabia that depicts just such an incident. T.E. Lawrence's guide is killed for drinking out of a well owned by another tribe. Somalis are not Arabs, but this one does not surpise me nor does indicate a new low in man's inhunanity to man.

BTW I read a book authored by Lawrence years ago [titled something like Men in the Desert IIRC] and don't recall a reference to this incident so it may be pure fiction. For what it is worth.

Two days later, he was found dead, she said as an infant on her back cried and nine other children tugged at her torn dress.
Jeez, Louise... up to that point I was feeling sorry for them. Now, I dunno. In my own private, politically incorrect estimation, that puts them in the same category as Hummer drivers.
Apparently, in the midst of running from warlords and trying to find enough water to survive, she forgot to take her birth control pill.

Or maybe birth control is a luxury in a country where the average woman is raped at least once a year, oftentimes more often. Women don't choose to have nine children in the midst of a terrible famine and civil war; they have them because there aren't options for them. If they're lucky, their body fat falls low enough that they stop menstruating and can't conceive, but that also means they can't breast feed the children they already have, usually.

...not to mention the Bush administration has blocked funding for birth control going overseas. I'm sure that's helped a bunch, especially in Africa where HIV is as much a threat as unwanted pregnancies.

Yeah, I know. I said my thought was politically incorrect. Obviously the husband loved her very much. It's amazing that they are physically capable of having so many in the face of such poverty.

And, yeah, almost every decision made by the Bush administration has been wrong/insane/counterproductive. I suspect it won't be too long before Bushco can no longer stand in the way of such progress, however, should some other country want to step in with family planning for Africa.

Someone who lives on a few dollars per day (at best) in a country with no discernable stable government which the entire rest of the world has abandoned to its own devices is supposed to find birth control exactly where?

I am going to post the whole thing. If the editors feel this is inappropriate, they can delete it.  I'm sure neither Michael Kinsley nor Slate will object given the added readers.

I will provide a few lines

"Can't anyone here play this game?"

"Hatred of Iran in America became almost as fierce as hatred of America in Iran."

"Meanwhile, of course, Reagan was also secretly selling weapons to Iran."

"And they lived happily ever after."

A History of Violence
When is our military meddling justified?
By Michael Kinsley
Posted Friday, April 14, 2006, at 5:51 AM ET

So, after more than half a century of active meddling--protecting our interests, promoting our values, encouraging democracy, fighting terrorism, seeking stability, defending human rights, pushing peace--it's come to this. In Iraq we find ourselves unwilling regents of a society splitting into a gangland of warring militias and death squads, with our side (labeled "the government") outperforming the other side (labeled "the terrorists") in both the quantity and gruesome quality of its daily atrocities. In Iran, an irrational government that hates us with special passion is closer to getting the bomb than Iraq--the country we went to war with to keep from getting the bomb--ever was.

And in Afghanistan--site of the Iraq war prequel that actually followed the script (invade, topple brutal regime, wipe out terrorists, establish democracy, accept grateful thanks, get out)--the good guys we put in power came close, a couple weeks ago, to executing a man for the crime of converting to Christianity. Meanwhile, the bad guys (the Taliban and al-Qaida) keep a low news profile by concentrating on killing children and other Afghan civilians rather than too many American soldiers.

When the United States should use its military strength to achieve worthy goals abroad is an important question. But based on this record, it seems a bit theoretical. It's like asking whether Donald Trump should use his superpowers to cure AIDS. Or what George W. Bush should say when he wins the Nobel Prize in physics. A more pressing question is: Can't anyone here play this game?

Half a century ago, Iran was very close to a real democracy. It had an elected legislature, called the Majlis, and it had a repressive monarch, called the shah, and power veered uncertainly between them. In 1951, over the shah's objections, the Majlis voted in a man named Mosaddeq as prime minister. His big issue was nationalizing the oil companies.

But in 1952, the United States had an election for president, and the winner (Eisenhower) got more votes than anyone in Iran. That must explain why in 1953, in the spirit of democracy, the CIA instigated a riot and then staged a coup. Mosaddeq was arrested, the Majlis was ultimately dissolved, and the shah ran things his way, which involved torture and death for political opponents, caviar and champagne for an international cast of hangers-on, and no more crazy-talk about nationalizing the oil companies.

But, speaking of crazy-talk, resentment of the shah and of the United States were central to the growing appeal of Ayatollah Khomeini. In 1979, the Ayatollah's followers overthrew the shah and made Iran a strict Islamic state. Later that year, Iranian "students" besieged the U.S. Embassy and seized 66 hostages, most of whom were held prisoner for more than a year. Hatred of Iran in America became almost as fierce as hatred of America in Iran.

Meanwhile, next door in Iraq, an ambitious young dictator, new to the job, named Saddam Hussein sensed both danger and opportunity in Iran's chaos. So he decided to invade. Thus began the Iran-Iraq war, lasting eight years. It turned hundreds of thousands of people into corpses and millions into refugees. When it was over, nothing had changed. But it wasn't a complete waste. It provided another opportunity for the United States to promote its interests and values.

On the "enemy of my enemy" principle, the United States all but officially backed Iraq. We overlooked Saddam's use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers (many of them children), and against his own people. Many of the human rights abuses President Bush and others have invoked two decades later to justify the decision to topple and try Saddam were well publicized in the '80s. But in the '80s, we didn't care. President Reagan sent Donald Rumsfeld, then a drug-company executive, as his "special envoy" to tell Saddam that we didn't care.

Meanwhile, of course, Reagan was also secretly selling weapons to Iran.

The big event in Afghanistan this past half-century was the Soviet occupation of 1979, often described as the last gasp of the Cold War and as Russia's Vietnam. Recent governments had been pro-Soviet, but apparently not pro-Soviet enough. After the occupation, some of the deposed thugs and others formed militias that roamed the countryside killing people and whatnot. These were called "guerillas," because we were for them. During the 1980s, we spent hundreds of millions of dollars a year on weapons and other support.

The war we sustained in Afghanistan destroyed the country, turned half the population into refugees, and killed perhaps a million people. In 1989, the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan (along with everywhere else, including Russia). But disappointingly, our guerrillas, also called the "mujahideen," kept on fighting--using our weapons--against the government and among themselves. In 1996, one particularly extreme group, the Taliban, took power. It was even more disappointing when the Taliban established an Islamic state more extreme than the one in Iran and invited Osama Bin Laden to make himself at home, which he did.

So, we marched in and got rid of the Taliban. Then we marched into Iraq and got rid of Saddam Hussein. Now we're--well, we haven't figured out what, but we're hopping mad and gonna do something, dammit, about Iran.

And they lived happily ever after.

Michael Kinsley is Slate's founding editor.

What I find most interesting, and this is Slate's thing - they keep changing the headline. Excellent tactic. Incredibly efficient.

That story was what drove my pre-war opposition to the Iraq invasion.  I expected, even if it "worked" on the surface, "blowback for generations to come."
I expected, even if it "worked" on the surface, "blowback for generations to come."

Those were exactly my sentiments as well. I thought it was more likely that we would end up with many more America-hating terrorists as a result of an invasion, and we would deal with that for years. How many more Osama bin Ladens are we breeding over there right now?


Thinking of breeding more Osama Bin Ladens, check out this recent interview (from The Current on CBC Radio) with a former US interrogator. Click on Listen to The Current Part I:

U.S. Interrogator

Among the damning photos of U.S. soldiers tormenting prisoners in Abu Ghraib, there was one that held special meaning for my first guest. It's the one in which an Iraqi prisoner cowers in front of a snarling dog---his face two feet from the dog's open mouth. A U.S. soldier is fighting to restrain the dog.

That soldier, Sgt. Michael Smith, was recently sentenced to six months in a military prison--- bringing to ten the number of people convicted for their crimes at Abu Ghraib. While high-ranking officers have been reprimanded for the scandal, according to the New York Times, no soldier with a rank higher than staff-sergeant has been convicted.

Tony Lagouranis has never met Sgt. Smith, but he has followed his case with particular interest. That's because Mr. Lagouranis was an Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib, who also conducted interrogations in which dogs were used. He began his tour in January, 2004, just after the abuse was uncovered. But disgusted with what he witnessed in Iraq, he has since left the military.

Perhaps this is what George Washington meant in his farewell address about foreign entanglements.

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. -- Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. -- Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships, or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. -- If we remain one People, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected. When belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by our justice, shall counsel.

In the modern context where we are not so detached from the rest of the world, I still feel there is value in much of what Washington says:

  1. Other nations will pursue their own interests and we should not get involved in their internal politics, lest those politics divide us internally and provoke new enemies abroad.
  2. By avoiding many of these unnecessary involvements we can preserve our strength and unity for when it really matters, like when our home turf is threatened.

Since we violated the first principle in Iran/Iraq/Afganistan over the last 50 years, we got 9/11, which invokes the second principle, except that we choose to focus more on Iraq than terrorism, which again violates the first principle and further weakens our ability to deal with threats to our home turf.
Part of the problem is we are not "one People, under an efficient government" anymore.
I was initially a little concerned that The Oil Drum has turned into The Anti-War Drum. So I stopped reading this thread and went to today NY Times. Excellent article on chip manufacturers making money selling solar cells.

 The article is about T. J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor. The article raises questions about the mass manufacturing of silicon chips for solar electricity. Then the article adds this quote:

"Our own government," he wrote, "is a bigger threat to our freedom than any possible menace posed by Al Qaeda."
Energy is currency. Energy is political capital. Energy is climate change. Energy is trade imbalance. Energy is security.

Would we have much interest with Iran and Iraq if their only natural resource was sand?

Welcome back to Kansas..
The sad thing about this slowly building realization, by not only generals but the repugs themselves, that their fearless leader is a full-tilt lunatic is that his actions, speech, behavior and every other marker of intent has consistently been that of a mean, stupid, uninformed, provincial, evil, little turd. Now there will be a slow distancing from Bush who will become the scapegoat for the crimes he has committed at the behest of the neocons.

Nothing will be more digusting than hearing a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth, conservative condemning the Resident for policies that only a few short weeks ago that same lathered up conservative had whole-heartedly approved.

What difference does a few weeks make? Why direction, that's what. The average conservative has no actual ability to make decisions on their own. That would require reason. No, they wait for instructions from such hypocrites like Rush and Rove. Without those signals, they are formless. They go in circles, often at NASCAR tracks. But when the signals come, they start marching. They do not question. They just march. If the signal says, write your congressman and complain about a certain casino group at the behest of Abrahamoff in order to protect his casino client, they hop to.

No thinking necessary. The Bush administration knows they are about to be hung out to dry and that is why they will attack Iran. They feel a sense of destiny. They believe that we may not understand now, but we will agree with them in the future. They feel they are sacrificing their lives either by surrendering their political power or by going to jail. If they are lucky, the chaos they spread will cause the little automatons they call their core to forget about their transgressions and let them hang around for a few more years. But they also know that their window of absolute power is about to be restricted and that if they want to fulfill that destiny they better act now.

I hope they don't, but their ability to confound sensible people everywhere in so many areas is astonishingly consistent. Look at global warming. They have suppressed scientific opinion that does not conform with their fantasy world. Check out the environment. They have declared sewage ponds to be wetlands. People said, they will never do such insane things. But they did. They did.

All I can hope is that someone can somehow deprogram these cultists before they drag the world into the flames.

Yes, it is way too reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove. I keep saying: "They wouldn't do anything THAT stupid, would they?" and I am repeatedly surprised. Not only does this lose-lose situation seem so bound for a bad ending it is frightening, I also shudder at the "told you so" crowd that thinks it would be funny to see the US to get even more entangled in this mess.
Russia wants to know:

When will the U.S. lift restrictions on Russian uranium exports?

Russia is the world's main provider of enriched uranium, and is likely to keep this position in the future, while the U.S. stubbornly upholds anti-dumping restrictions on the export of Russian uranium to the American market.

...Uranium prices have doubled in the last two years. The world needs Russian uranium, and Russia should keep its leading place on the global uranium market, especially because American companies have 103 nuclear power units and only one fuel supplier in the U.S. This is clearly not enough to ensure the nuclear safety of the country now, let alone in the future when the U.S. will start building 13 new nuclear blocks.

Russia could be sitting pretty in the post-carbon age, even if they are running out of oil and gas.

Your search for a conservative blogger defending Rumsfeld is over. I think that if the troops are unhappy with Rumsfeld's leadership, it's obvious what must be done. The troops should resign.
I keep wondering if I've slowly become a 'conservative' and I think I may have, especially after having a huge row with my teenage daughter about the tactics used by the various revolutionaries during the Paris Commune in 1871!

Given the way society and politics are being transformed these days, I find myself allied with 'conservatives' who I previously considered arch enemies! It's truly bizarre how much we agree opon. Especially in areas relating to concern about the environment, the expolosion of state power, and human rights and the rule of law.

It's almost as if many 'conservatives' and people like me who probably 'anarchists' have been overtaken on the Right by a whole new group who make us all seem like we're on the 'Left.' This 'New Right' group who most people around here call 'neo-cons' are arguably Not Conservative, in any meaningful way. I think they go in for a very different type of State power than we've been used too and have an 'unusual' attitude and definition of 'democracy' as well.

I think this 'New Right' group goes in for a Strong State with an all powerful leader/president at its heart, who in his role as a 'war leader' or commander in chief, is above the law of the land. I think the people around George Bush have strongly 'totalitarian' not 'conservative' tendencies. Perhaps this is were I and my conservative friends draw the line. One can be conservative in relation to economics and the role of the free market and on many social issues; but one can still be a supporter of 'old fashioned' American democracy and opposed to this new 'conservative totalitarianism.'

This is of course really big issue and it's ill-definedl and still fluid. It's probably way too big to get into here, on site devoted to Peak Oil! It needs its own site.
I don't actually blame George Bush for much. I believe the guy is only a kind of figurehead, supported, 'controlled' and 'manipulated' by a dedicated and powerful 'cabal' that has used him to gain political power in the United States. Historically their have often been weak monarchs. When the 'king' is weak for whatever reason, the 'Barons' take charge of the 'court' and the country. Controlling access to the 'king' and what 'voices' he hears becomes of paramount importance. A weak 'king' is often just as much a prisoner of circustances as the rest of us are.

Returning briefly to the question of whether generals should resign or protest. I don't think they should resign. Too many have resigned already, especially in the run-up to the Iraq war. If the 'opostion' in the military continually chooses to resign eventually only those who support the administraion's line will be left, and then it'll be even easy for them to push through their 'crazy' ideas. Unfortunately, not resigning and speaking out from the inside is also fraught with danger for a serving officer.

I think he was meant to be a figurehead, and Cheney was meant to provide establishment experience ... but Cheney went off the deep end, and the President came to believe he was President.
"Conservative" is a meaningless term. In the USA currently it is used to describe a diluted form of fascism. "Conservatives" were once for lessened state power over citizens, now they support increased state power in every area with the exception of gun control(as long as somehow it is accompanied by lower taxes on themselves personally).  
There are on-line political compass tests, that ask you questions and position you on an x-y axis of economic and social freedoms.  The last time I took the tests I scored as a dead center moderate, despite my self-identity as an old-sytle conservative.

I think part of the reason for that is the shift, as you say, from old-style libertarian right to something else.

Ah yes, these "New Right" folks can be referred to by the quaint and colloquial term that covers them best:
''Dont rejoice in his defeat you men, though the world stood up to him and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.''

Bertold Brecht

Thanks for your comments.

I tend to vote for Republicans as the lesser of two evils and infer from your post that you would vote for the Democrats with similar reservations.

I believe that true civil libertarians within America have lot in common. The only true area of disagreement should be just how far rights retained by the fifty states versus the rights of the people as set forth in the Tenth Amendment extend.

The policital spectrum has often been drawn with radical socialism on one extreme and fascism on the other. This is bunk. IMO the proper continum is from the various forms of statist cults [fascism, communism and god knows what eles] to anarchism [a complete absence of orgainized government] on the other extreme. The Republic defined by the U.S. Constitution is far from statist. It makes it very clear through the Ninth and Tenth Amendments that it is unlawful for the Federal Government to do most of what it is doing now.

There was a joke going around during that time that the Iraqi's were working on their constitution, that the easy approach was that they should simply use the U.S. Constitution because we weren't using it anyway.

Many of the people writing about the clearly illegal actions of the Bushies are only seeking to replace one set of illegal actions for another, or maybe even the same types of illegal action by a different set of jerks that they believe are somehow better. Phoey!

San Francisco Becomes First U.S. City to Pass Peak Oil Resolution

San Francisco on Tuesday became the first major U.S. city to pass a resolution acknowledging the threats posed by peak oil, urging the city to develop a comprehensive plan to respond to the emerging global energy crunch.
Awesome! I just wrote up a post about it.. It'll probably come over to the main page shortly. I'm very interested in this whole process - any insights from our readers?
does anyone care to dissect this for me
During the first three weeks of 2005, there were 13 reported attacks on Iraq's oil infrastructure, bringing the total since the start of the war to almost 200. Though one-third of Iraq's "security forces" and some 14,000 mercenaries now patrol Iraqi refineries and pipelines, the attacks are grinding exports to a slow halt. The State Department admits that the Iraqi oil industry is operating at half-capacity and falling, confirming Paul Wolfowitz's pre-war claim that oil profits would finance reconstruction as one of the best jokes of 2003.
The effects of these attacks haven't been limited to Iraq, of course. Oil analysts estimate that around $10 of the current cost of a barrel of crude reflects a "risk premium" that is a direct result of the oil infrastructure raids in Iraq. Basra bombs; Japanese jitters.
Crude + Condensate Production; Light Sweet Versus Heavy Sour Price Spread & Oil Imports Into the US

Crude + Condensate Production
It's a little uncanny, but if you look at the monthly EIA crude + condensate numbers for the world, the all time record high production was December, 2005, which is when Deffeyes says we crossed over the 50% of Qt mark worldwide, followed promptly by a decline in January (which is what Stuart has been plotting with his monthly updates, I believe with total liquids).

Light Sweet Versus Heavy Sour Price Spread
The following link has a graph showing the price spread between light, sweet and heavy, sour, through early 2006, showing the historically high price differential.  The only reasonable explanation is that the markets are having to bid up the price of light, sweet versus heavy, sour in order to keep the light, sweet refineries running.  This also contradicts the premise that most of the runup in oil prices is due to geopolitical tensions--otherwise why the differential?

Oil Imports Into the US
At the end of December, 2005, the four week running average of crude oil imports into the US was 10,134,000 bpd.   At the end of last week, the four week running average of crude oil imports into the US was 9,731,000 bpd, a drop of 4%.   The same time period last year showed a slight increase in imports.    Since the end of December, 2005, US light, sweet crude oil prices have been bid up about $10 per barrel.  Everyone is pointing to Iran. I disagree.  I think that US refineries are having to bid the price up to get light, sweet crude.  Given the shortfall in imports, I suspect that they are not completely succeeding.  (Nigeria is also a problem, but there is always some kind of production problem somewhere in the world.)

Given the fact that we are past the 50% mark, given the oil price spread, given the work and Khebab and I did on top exporters (predicting that net oil exports will fall much more sharply than total world oil production), and given the recent runup in oil prices, I think that the continuing shortfall in imports is very worrisome.  

Is the spread between light sweet vs. heavy sour really increasing?  If I'm understanding that graph correctly, it is measuring the spread in dollars per barrel.  Wouldn't a better measure be percent?

That is, a $5 premium on $20 oil is the same as a $15 premium on $60 oil.

(Following is an excerpt from an Econobrowser article on the subject, published in August, 2005.  I'm no refinery expert, but it seems that the leading price is light, sweet, because we can obtain the maximum amount of transportation fuels from light, sweet for the least expenditure of capital and energy.   The price of heavy, sour should reflect the incremental cost of refining heavy, sour in refineries that can handle it, which seems to be about $5 per barrel, which is also what I have heard from the CEO of Valero.  One problem for the heavy, sour guys is the looming crash in Cantarell production.)


The graph at the right shows the price differential (in dollars per barrel) for European Brent (a relatively light, sweet crude) over Mexican Maya (a heavier sour). The price premium for light sweets had typically been about $5 a barrel up until last summer, when it began rising quickly, now standing at triple its earlier value. To put the size of the current price spread in perspective, if the price of light, sweet crude had only risen as much (in dollars per barrel) as the heavy sour, the increase in the price of light, sweet crude during the last year would have been a third smaller than what we actually observed.

I'm no refinery expert, but it seems that the leading price is light, sweet, because we can obtain the maximum amount of transportation fuels from light, sweet for the least expenditure of capital and energy.

This is correct.

The price of heavy, sour should reflect the incremental cost of refining heavy, sour in refineries that can handle it, which seems to be about $5 per barrel, which is also what I have heard from the CEO of Valero.

Don't overlook the significance of supply/demand here. Supplies of heavy, sour crude are not nearly as tight as light, sweet oil. That is changing as more refineries put in projects to handle the heavy crudes, but supply is a contributor toward the current spread. Some of those spreads are huge, and have been for a few years.


I beg to differ. Total Net Imports are UP 4.3% (year-on-year 96 day cum daily avg, source: EIA).
Westexas, like Stuart says, look at the big picture. Or at least acknowledge there are numbers which contradict your "imports are DOWN 4%" scenario.
"Refinery utilization fell 0.4 percentage point to 85.6 percent of capacity, according to the report. Analysts expected an increase."

Apparently, we still have lots of excess refinery capacity.

No. There is still about 4.5% of the nation's refining capacity that is offline from the hurricane. In addition,  spring turnarounds are in full force. That number, 85.6% is misleading because in reality every refinery that can possibly run at max rates is running at max rates.


So what you are saying is that 85.6% of the refinery capacity is actually 'running', and the other 14.4% is 'off-line'?

I have not been able to locate any evidence to support this assertion.  Any help or links on this?

Any given refinery will only have a mechanical reliability of 90-95%. So even under the best circumstances, if all refineries had mostly brand new equipment, 95% utilization is about the limit. On average, though, about 92% utilization is typical. The other 8% is lost due to maintenance. I had read an article just a couple of days ago that there was still 4.5% capacity offline from the hurricane. Three refineries are still down. Finally, spring turnarounds are taking place right now. I don't have a percentage on that, but some capacity is offline for this.

I don't have a link for you, I am just telling you what I know. I have personal knowledge of around 20 refineries, and the only ones that aren't running all the crude they can are those that have maintenance issues.

Here is a graph showing refinery utilization over the past 5 years:

As you can see, we have never fully recovered from the hurricane.


Ah, thanks Robert.
How many times do I have to have this same conversation?

The EIA summary is wrong (or the data tables are wrong; take your pick).

The Data Tables show the four week running average of total imports as of 12/30/05 to be 12,867,000 bpd.  The most recent four week running average of total imports was 11,743,000 bpd--a decline of 8.7%.  

If you would stop and think for a moment (or check the data yourself before firing off an e-mail), you would realize that a 4.3% increase in total imports against a 4.0% drop in crude oil imports would require an increase of 30% to 40% in product imports.

Oh wait, aren't these the same morons who were predicting (last week, mind you) $2.62 gasoline this summer?   LOL!

Originally posted by phineas gage:
"Just wondering if anyone else had to laugh when they saw the EIA's mendacious prediction of summer gas prices in the US. C%7D&siteid=mktw

In this report, the EIA predicts gasoline prices will average $2.62 through the summer driving season.  Prices are already a full 10 cents above this price and the summer driving season doesn't start for 6 or 7 more weeks!

I imagine even the $9.50/hour government office staff person with a GED who had to type this report for his/her boss recognized the absurdity of the prediction and rolled their eyes when they were given the task."

You cannot put any stock in ANYTHING the EIA publishes.

The weekly data tables show a 2% increase in total net imports, for a comparable time period last year (four week running average).   So we have swung from 2% up last year to 8.7% down this year (over roughly the first quarter).

Buckle your seat belts.  We have only begun to see the price increases.

I do have a refinery question regarding total liquids.  I assume that propane and butane are used in total liquids because it is so easy to use them as substitutes for diesel and gasoline in modified engines.  

However, can propane and butane be easily synthesized into gasoline and diesel?  I assume that the answer is no, which I why I always thought that the crude oil + condensate measurement is the most meaningful indication of production from oil fields.

It seems to me that methane, ethane, propane and butane (which come from both oil and gas reservoirs) are best viewed as substitutes for gasoline and diesel and not as an indication of a crude oil feedstock for refineries.

BTW, CERA's testimony before Congress on 12/7/05 (Regarding total liquids):,,7777,00.html


Are we running out of oil? CERA's belief is that the world is not running out of oil imminently or in the near to medium term. Indeed, CERA projects that world oil production capacity has the potential to rise from 87 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2005 to as much as 108 mbd by 2015. After 2015 we see further growth in capacity. Our outlook contradicts those who believe that peak oil is imminent.

However, can propane and butane be easily synthesized into gasoline and diesel?

Neither can be put into diesel. Propane can't be put into gasoline. Butane is put into gasoline. But in the summer, due to lower vapor pressure requirements, a lot less butane is blended. In the winter, you can put a fair amount of butane into the gasoline. That's why you always hear the press talk about gasoline becoming more expensive and supplies tightening up at the end of the winter gasoline season. Butane is relatively cheap compared to gasoline, and supplies are not terribly tight. Take that out of the equation starting in the spring, and supplies tighten and gasoline blends become more expensive.


However, I assume that to synthesize propane and butane into  actual gasoline and diesel, i.e., into actual C5+, would require something similar to the GTL process?  

What I am getting at is that it seems that "total liquids" has little effect on the price that a refiner has to pay to get feedstock for refining crude oil into products.  

Or let me put it this way.  If we increased the NGL supply by 20%, would it have an effect on the price that refiners pay for crude oil?

I am asking this because someone (I think JD) suggested that I might be right about crude + condensate peaking, but no one cares about the crude + condensate number--only "total liquids."
If you wanted to you could synthesize C8 to C16 alkanes from propane and butane without much trouble.  Nobody's been desperate enough for octane or diesel to set up the equipment to do so, at least up to now.
However, I assume that to synthesize propane and butane into  actual gasoline and diesel, i.e., into actual C5+, would require something similar to the GTL process?

I did GTL research for a few years. Yeah, in principle you could partially oxidize propane and butane to make syngas, and then do an FT reaction to produce diesel. However, it is not very energy efficient, and the capital costs are very high. Besides that, propane and butane will not give you the kind of CO/H2 ratio that you ideally want for an FT reaction.

If we increased the NGL supply by 20%, would it have an effect on the price that refiners pay for crude oil?

That's an interesting question. I think the answer is probably no, unless people started converting their vehicles to run on NGLs, dropping demand for oil.  


In the pre computer controlled days the conversion time for a gasoline to propane [or more properly duel fuel configuration since engine start was usually done with gasoline] was a few hours and the kits were inexpensive. The tricky part was finding a suitable site for the propane tank.

Propane burns quite clean so meeting / exceeding clean air standards should not be much of an issue. However merely making modifications to an existing configuration of late model [using the term very loosely -- post 1970 something and post 1960 something in California] vehicles might violate clean air lawss unless the full propane conversion kit was cerified for a particular application.

To the extent that these alternate fuel vehicles take some of the pressure off gasoline or diesel there should be some impact on prices at the pump.

We can replace diesel with propane and butane because they will burn in a diesel engine. This works best for stationary diesel engines for cogeneration, or for locomotives. Converting trucks or cars to run on LPG is not so convenient, but also possible.
How many times do I have to have this same conversation?

Until you state your source when you initially quote your numbers and also state that the same organization also posts different numbers pointing in the opposite direction to yours.

I did some further research using this link (the one you provided didn't work). If you take the weekly numbers and throw them into a spreadsheet then the 14 week total for 2005 is 167,834. For 2006 the number is 174,470. For a year on year INCREASE of 2.8% in crude + product imports. Hope this helps :)

And yes, I had worked out that if crude imports are down then product imports must be up :)

(1)  Go to the link I provided, or click on:

(2)  Click on Petroleum Navigator (from the link I provided earlier).

(3)  Click on weekly supply (from the link on this post).

(3)  Select 4 week moving average.

(4)  Scroll down to Crude oil imports and net imports.

(5)  Click on view history.

Question #1:  What is the 4 week running average for 12/30/05 for crude oil imports and total net imports?

Question #2:  What is the 4 week running average for 4/7/06 for crude oil imports and total net imports?

Question #3:  What is the four week running average for 12/31/04 for crude oil imports and total net imports?

Question #4:  What is the 4 week running average for 4/8/05 for crude oil imports and total net imports?

Question #5:  What conclusions do you draw from these numbers?

My premise is that these four week running averages centered on Deffeyes' predicted peak of 12/16/05 are a good base line to start from.  The question I am trying to answer is what to US import numbers show a few months after Deffeyes' predicted peak.

Note that you have to click on crude oil (excluding SPR) to get current 4 week running average numbers.
Interview with Peter Tertzakian (author, A Thousand Barrels a Second) at Financial Sense Online, dated April 15 (the newscast usually appears on Saturdays):

(You can choose from these formats: RealPlayer, WinAmp, Windows Media, and mp3.)

Have not listened to it myself yet, but I will, given all the references to the book that I've seen mentioned here the past few weeks.

I have a new blog entry up entitled Who's to blame for high gas prices?. It discusses a article from yesterday, and examines one of my biggest pet peeves surrounding these energy discussions: Gutless, pandering politicians and their reluctance to address the real issues.


That Billings Gazette letter you posted a link to explains very clearly why politicians won't address the real issues.

A brief recap:

Vote for senators and representatives that will put price limits on oil and gas sold in this country, and force our major producers overseas where they can make more $$ per liter than they presently charge per gallon here. That should solve the problem.

Have any of you sent letters to your congressment or to the Prez to tell them we are sick and tired of the gouging? I went on a one woman campaign last year. Sent letters every day to Mr. Prez. Did it do a bit of good? I doubt it. They just said, "Drive less." Well, if I drove any less, I'd be walking and it's too dang far to town!

Funny nobody has mentioned the dope smoking liberal left enviros.Given ther track record in thier effort to destroy the econmy through enviromental protection.They need to be held accountable for thier needless meddling in the energy policy.So I urge everyone that is having problems with thier energy bills to pick one or more of your local tree hugger groups and send them the bill.Its time for the obstructionist groups to put thier money where their mouth is.

I am sick of paying $2.65 per gallon at the local service station. Yesterday I filled up my 1989 GMC Suburban and it cost $70.00 in cash. Many people keep saying the reason for the high oil prices is because Americans use to much of it (supply and demand). I don't think thats the reason because people have always drove trucks and SUVs like mine and this is the first time this has happened.

With voters like that, who can blame politicians for avoiding the real issue?  They all remember what happened to Jimmy Carter.

Well, price controls might have a couple unintended consequences (from their standpoint) that I like:

  • a reduction in imports
  • a quick awareness of how markets work
We are already seeing an 8.7% drop in total net imports (four week moving average) in the most recent week versus the end of 2005.  (See above for links.)

We may actually achieve something pretty close to energy independence, but not in the way that most people were expecting.

Many people keep saying the reason for the high oil prices is because Americans use to much of it (supply and demand). I don't think thats the reason because people have always drove trucks and SUVs like mine and this is the first time this has happened.

This fella should remember what Marie Antoinette said when she was filling up her SUV and heard other folks complaining: "Let them gas up with non-premium."

When they trade in those SUVs for tumbrils, that is when you will see major change in Washington.

The Marie Antoinette angle is priceless.  It's only funny because it is true.  You know when TSHTF and there is gas rationing, Bush will be there saying "I warned you about your addiction, and this is just part of your cure, it's healthy.  Ride a mountain bike like I do, heh, heh."
and your non-verbal aping of the monkey-in-chief is dead on.  i could see the smirk as i was reading.
Yep it never, ever, ever, ever happened before.

The high cost of gas in comparison to the poverty wages in the Depression, the gas rationing in WWII, the early 70s gas rationing/gas shock, mid-80's high gas prices, these things are History.

And what is History? Bunk.

When an American says "That's never happened before" what they mean is, "That's never happened in the last 3-5 years".

Who makes the tumbril? Is it Citroen or Pugeot?
Truly sad. But I cannot say I am surprised at the comments.
Well, things like this aren't going to help much either:


Making gigantic piles of money after a disaster is going to be regarded as gouging by many, fair or not.

FWIW, remember that the people writing these letters (they must read the paper as well as listen to Fox News but the radio talk shows are really big there with the long drives between places and the often isolated working conditions) are sitting midst a whole bunch of energy production. They have two oil refineries in Billings (hence the smell when you drive through) and one just up I90 in Laurel plus a coal-fired MDU (or whoever the company is called now) power plant in Billings. They have several big coal-fired power plants sitting on top of the old railroad coal mines down the Yellowston River at Colstrip plus one being built on the edge of an Indian reservation at Hardin. Just across the the state line at Gillete, WY are a bunch of big open pit coal mines with a constant flow of 100 car coal trains. The Gillete area is also a big producer of coalbed methane. I assume they also get some hydropower out of the Yellowtail dam on the Bighorn. And they've certainly heard about the tar sand development going on across the Canadian border in Alberta and the oil shale work in Wyoming. They've seen the wind turbines come and go at Livingston. So from where they sit in a relatively sparsely populated area, there is a LOT of energy being produced, not scarcity.
There is one good thing that might come out of peak oil when oil after a few decades becomes a fairly insignificant energy source. We might finally get rid of the funny unit "barrel" and get it replaced with a sane unit like cubic metres.
Cubic meters?  The columns aren't wide enough to hold all those decimal places.  Better go with good old-fashioned liters.
Hmm.  A cubic meter of oil would be about 1000 liters, no?

If a liter is about a quart, then a cubic meter should be something like 5 barrels of oil...

1 cubic meter = 6.29 bbls
Not in the U.S., we won't.  

Many government agencies and companies that do business with them spent millions of dollars to convert to metric in the '90s.  There was a law - originally passed in the '70s, but pushed forward by Congress - that was supposed to go into effect then.

But Congress did what I expected them to do: postpone it again.  Now the same companies and government agencies are spending big bucks to convert back to the imperial system.  

What a freakin' waste of time and money.  Our tax dollars at work.

With peak oil looming, I bet we will never convert to metric now.

That is a thought, post peak oil USA being as conservative and longing for the good old days as GB after losing its empire.
Trivial Pursuit type question here: Do you know how it came about that a "barrel" of oil is exactly 42 U.S. gallons? Why 42? Why not 64? Or 32 gallons? Or 55 gallons, which is the amount I usually think of when I see a steel drum of about that size.

Does it go back to whale oil?

Is there something about the size of a 42 gallon wooden barrel of oil that makes it much easier to handle than a somewhat larger barrel?

Enquiring minds want to know, and IMO, you are the best person on this site for finding things out.

If I remember correctly, the barrel was first used in Pennsylvania when oil was first struck. It was the handiest container to hand at the time and, yes 42 gal wooden barrels are man-handleable. The term BBL is shorthand for blue barrel. They were painted blue so you would not then mix them up for other important uses (whiskey).
This is just the size that Standard Oil standardized on. They started out putting the oil in whiskey barrels, and Standard decided to use the 42 gallon size. Everyone else followed.


According to wikipedia, the oil barrel was based on an English wooden wine barrel that held 35 imperial gallons or 42 U.S. gallons, called the tierce.  A 55 gallon drum isn't really a barrel.  According to my Perry's, a barrel (U.S. liquid measure) is 31.5 gallons.  This would correspond to what wikipedia says an English wine barrel holds.
And apparently, an English ale barrel is 32 imperial gallons and an English beer barrel is 36 imperial gallons.  So apparently the guys in Pa were effete wine drinkers instead of beer men.
Is it correct that 35 English gallons equals exactly 42 U.S. gallons? If true, then that explanation, from the old English wine barrel, then the U.S. whiskey barrel (painted blue) would make a lot of sense.

Now, for further historical detection, how far back does the English "tierce" go? My conjecture is that it probably goes back to the late middle ages. But when? And which king or other authority decreed the exact volume measures we now use.

It occurs to me that the value of good wine or cheap whiskey would be about the same in the 1850s as the value of an equal value of kerosene or whale oil.

Does anybody know of the size of barrels used by English and American whalers, circa 1800?  

Whoops! Should read "equal volume" not "equal value."

Time for siesta and sailing.

Don Sailorman -

What a coincidence!

 Just the day before yesterday I was reading my latest issue of 'Invention & Technology' (a quarterly publication put out by American Heritage) ,and in it there was an article entitled, 'The Brilliance of the Barrel'.

To answer some of your questions:

  1. Since a British (aka 'Imperial') gallon equals 1.2 US gallons, it follows that 35 British gallons equal 42 US gallons.

  2. The standard size barrel used for whale oil and then coal oil was once 42 US gallons, exactcly the same as the current unit for barrels of oil. In fact that is the origin of the current barrel unit.

  3. The article also mentions some of the older specialized units for which wooden barrels were constructed. Barrels were once made in the following units (gallon equivalents included where available): kilderkin, rundlet, firkin (9 gal),  hogshead (63 gal), butt (126 gal), puncheon (70 gal), tun (252 gal), queen's pipe, keeve, kier, tierce (42 'wine' gal, whatever that is), and tank. (I don't know if these are US or Brit gallons.)

Whale oil had to have been pretty damn expensive, given the effort needed to obtain a relatively small amount of liquid. Then again, the overall operating cost of a sailing ship was pretty low - what with no fuel costs and the crews' wages a pittance.  Still, going 'round the Horn to go a whaling isn't quite the same as poking a hole in the ground and watching oil  fill up a tank.

Hope this was of some help.

 Good conversion chart here if you want to calculate what it would cost to fill your butt with benzene or put some petrol in your pipe:

You've got to be careful about the accuracy of some of the information appearing on wikipedia.  That conversion chart has some errors.

A firkin is only 9 gallons. It was commonly used for beer, and the modern beer keg appears to be close to it in size.

If you look up barrel at wikipedia, it shows tables for wine and ale wooden barrel volumes.  Apparently wine and beer firkins were quite a bit different.


Woops. Wrong link.


Up until 1824 when the British changed their measurements, IIRC, there was only one gallon, which was the same size as the U.S gallon is now.  The Imperial gallon was invented in 1824 by the British for some reason I can't remember now.
Perhaps it has something do with fortnights, lustrums, stones, whitworth measurements, or barely corns laid end to end. :-)!!! As an American still clinging to the old english system of time measurment / weights & measures, I probably should not be amused by some of these archaic systems as I admittedly am -- sorry but I can't help it. BTW, a "fifth" just sounds better than 750 mls. Thanks for the history lesson. Once again :-)
Chad says they'll stop oil output if no World Bank deal

N'DJAMENA, April 14 (Reuters) - Chad will stop its oil production from Tuesday unless it reaches an agreement with the World Bank to end a dispute over the use of oil revenues, a government minister said on Friday.

"We will turn off the tap in a week if there is no agreement with the World Bank," Human Rights Minister Abderamane Djasnabaille told a news conference after a cabinet meeting. He said production would be stopped on Tuesday, April 18 at midday.

Chad produces 160,000-170,000 barrels of crude per day.

The World Bank suspended loans to Chad on Jan. 12, saying the government had breached an agreement with the bank when it changed a law to access oil profits from a pipeline operated by a U.S.-led consortium that were meant to benefit the poor.

The bank also froze pipeline profits saved in a London escrow account, which it has refused to release to the government. The savings include royalties from the pipeline's operator, Exxon Mobil.

Fractious, these oil-producers are these days...

They should have made like their Sudanese neighbours and invited PRC companies instead of Exxon. Then they wouldn't have to go cap-in-hand to Wolfie.
Looks like some people in Chad agree with me enough to have attacked their own capital...
There is no hope for significant "demand destruction" until there are shortages or rationing. This article just points out how stupidly we use energy resources in this country and how that allocation governs our priorities. Givens presumably wins this stupid award for his choice, but many have long commutes because that is the only way they can find "affordable" housing.
Fletcher -

I'm afraid that shortages and/or rationing of not only oil but also food may eventually be in store for us. It was done during WW II, so why not during the next real or contrived 'emergency'?

This commuting vs living in the city argument has me a little puzzled. Do some people here at TOD  really think that people LIKE to live 30 miles away from say mid-town Manhatten and would prefer a nerve-racking 1 1/2- hour commute to owning a penthouse apartment on Park Avenue?  Ditto LA, or almost any other major US city. Inner city property in good neighborhoods is choice and high coveted.

And as gas prices increase, it is going to get increasingly difficult for middle-income families to live closer to a major city. Many urban neighborhoods that were once dumps are now gentrified yuppie enclaves heavily populated by two-income professional couples with no kids. So, the economic driving forces are going in two opposed directions. On the one hand, high gas prices will be making more people want to live closer to the inner city, but on the other hand, high demand will make inner-city living out of the reach of  middle-income people.

So, I don't see any resolution to this thing. People are most likely just going to stay where then are and watch their standard of living slowly but relentlessly deteriorate.

Wow. I like the 30 cups of coffee bit.Re commuting, I have quite a few friends who do long commutes to Toronto and each one is planning to stay out in the sticks and switch (eventually) to a higher mileage car, even something like a Smart car. I think Kunstler is overestimating how fast the outer suburban areas will decline as it seems that car owners are quite willing to go to "puddle jumpers" if that is the only way to keep the larger suburban home. Maybe heating the monster will be the first thing to crack.
How's this for no spin:

On BBC World last night, Sir David King
was reported as having said that a rise
in the average temperature of the planet
of greater than 3 oC  by the end of the
century is now more or less inevitable.
(All climate change policy discussion has
been centred around keeping the rise to
below 2 oC). Truly catastrophic consequences
will accompany such a rise in temperature
of course. Even another 1 oC above the
current [elevated] temperatures will be

So there you have it, UK's most powerful
scientist once again saying that unless
the current economic system is drastically
modified fairly immediately, the planet
will become largely uninhabitable for
humans. The figure of up to 2 billion
deaths from climate related events and
collapse of food production was suggested.
And it was pointed out that is will be the
poorest nations and the nations closest
to the equator that will feel the effects
first. Indeed, it was publicly suggested
that the current climate related crisis
in Kenya is a direct consequence of
emissions from the industrialised world.
But then China and India want to emulate
the West and are well on the way and how
are we going to stop them when the
western nation's stance is so hypocritical?

I believe Sir David King feels the same
frustration that we all feel, knowing
where things are headed, but powerless to
do anything about it (other than speak out),
since the system is geared to increased
production, increased consumption and
greater financial returns, and the people
in charge give all the appearance of not
caring about the future beyond the next
six month's financial statements.  

I believe we must look toward an early
collapse of the oil supply and a substantial
popualtion die-off over the next decade or
so as the only events likely to avert
catastrophic climate change. One thing is
for certain: the politicians will do nothing
of consequence about either peak oil or
climate change.

All this presupposes the US does not start
World War III, using nuclear weapons against
Iran of course.


King is certainly making the right noises in public about climate change - unfortunately even in his position he seems to have little impact on government policy.

He's not ready do discuss peak oil in public though - I asked him about peak oil this week and he ducked the question suggesting that someone who had been talking about heavy oil, tar sands etc might be right and that in any event hydrogen fuel cell cars were the answer. My comments here: 100 years of oil?

Since I am in NZ, I tend to miss a few
things, so thanks Chris.

After reading that, I am in a slight state
of shock. With North Sea Oil having peaked,
with Brent crude having more than doubled in
price since 2003, with much of Europe
dependent on politically insecure natural
gas supplies, with actual oil industry data
showing a levelling of global oil production,
how can people at an energy conference not
focus their attention on a reasonably accurate
assessment of peak oil and peak gas?

I also actually find it difficult to believe
that Sir David King in on the hydrogen
bandwagon.  Is there no dicussion of energy
profit ratio in the UK? Did anyone raise
EROEI at the confernece? Or was it all a
meaningless talkfest? Is there no discussion
about the largely unsolved technical
difficulties of transporting storing and
using hydrogen? Is the whole system geared
around maintianing public confidence, with
preposterous schemes for running the encononmy
on used cooking oil and biofuels with negative
energy returns?  

Current trends suggest that we are already
seeing high material costs impact on the cost
of oil and gas exploration. But high energy
costs are impacting on the cost of extracting
and transporting raw materials. It certainly
looks like a vicious cycle that can only be
broken by severe demand destruction or
outright economic collapse.

It all suggests that Sir David King has
agreed to be muzzled on energy depletion.
Keeping him focused on CO2 emissions allows
the British government to hint at the need
for drastic reductions in energy consumption
without actually having to mention the awful
'D' word.

It's sounding increasingly like the US, with
money being poured into hydrogen, corn ethanol
and other non-solutions as a great game of

Here in NZ, the grand delusion centres around
finding oil and gas in rather deep water that
is notorious for its storms. They weren't
called the Roaring 40s for no reason.

Kevin - not to be too picky, but could you not format your comments in such narrow column form?  It really makes the page long when reading through.  Are you using some other editor program?
I'll try increasing the width again after
this one.

Just spotted the incredible irony of
The Independent highlighting the dire
consequences of a 3+ degree Celsius rise,
and promoting international air travel
(one of the worst offenders with respect to
GW), both on the same front page.


The avoidance mechanism I always note is the forecast of dire consequences "by the end of this century"--when it will be of immediate concern to your great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. In the meantime the environment is disappearing before our eyes and most of us live in total denial.
Bush says, "You're doin a helluva job, Rummy."

The end is near.

Here is an extensive quote from Washington insider, Chris Nelson of the Nelson Report.  (If you haven't heard about him, you aren't an insider and you can't afford it.)  Or you are like me and see it leaked from time to time.

Look here  for his take on the leaky generals.

good link
Every once and while I have good experience talking about peak oil. So, I'd thought I'd share that. It's so refreshing when it's not an uphill battle or you get that "blank stare". Some of you know what I mean.

Standing idly outside an auditorium waiting for a music concert (Dave Grusin, excellent!), I struck up a conversation with an older man also attending the conference. I mentioned that I had attended certain panels because of my interest in energy issues.

As it turned out, he is on the faculty at the Colorado School of Mines and used to work for Conoco-Phillips! He knew what he was talking about naturally and he knew that I knew what I was talking about. He told stories of Saudi engineers (back in 1999 when oil was $11/barrel) talking about their problems with water cut at Ghawar. It was a wide ranging discussion. We agreed about everything. He says petroleum geophysicists have been aware of the discoveries curves for years and years. He agreed that we are in a very dire situation indeed. We both talked about the inadequacy of non-conventional sources to solve the problem.

I told him to check us out at TOD and I know he will. I was quoting numbers, he was quoting numbers. It was a very pleasurable experience, to say the least, to know that you're not crazy.

best, Dave

Sounds like a refreshing experience.  Every now and then I run into someone who is informed, and who sees throught the bullshit, and it is a wonderful feeling - even more so when it is a "regular" person, who has no obvious connections, and is just a person who cares enough to pay attention to the world around them.  

Then I relize how seldom it happens.....  half full / half empty?

A lot of dots have to be connected before you run across someone who understands that:

  1. Houston we have a Problem (Peak Oil, Global Warming, etc.),
  2. The Market is the cause of the problem rather than the solution,
  3. There is no guarantee that Technology will rush in to save the day, and
  4. Human beings are irrational, herd-mentality creatures.

Houston, one more thing. We are the problem.
(Cause we're an over-populating species.)
I appologize for this being off topic- but time is pressing for me.  I am in my mid 30's.  Wife finished law school a few years ago.  I suppported her through that, and now she is making good money.  I have been studying energy/ peak oil for the last three years.  It looks like it is going critical soon, and on que the wife is asking for a baby.  The main reason I am reluctant is the uncertainty of how humanity will transition through this.  I am a science/ engineering type, and as far as I can determine, the lack of action by gov't/ industry is a very bad sign.  Wife is like Dana Skully (X Files Reference)  - she sees what is going on, but I have to re-proove everything to her with every conversation ( episode).  Life with child is much harder, and there is the idea that I am just adding to the problem.  She has given me a soft ultimatum, but she realizes it will not be easy to find another compatable daddy quickly.  Any suggestions?
Have the baby. We will survive this. The child will grow up in a different world than you grew up in, but we need smart people to keep having smart babies so they can work on solutions to our difficult technical challenges.


Hear, Hear, Robert. I concur. It is right to be concerned about your family and the future that we are all going to experience...sooner rather than later I fear. However, a good woman is hard to find, and if you both are in love and want to start a family, there is nothing wrong with that in the least. Yes, it is a harsh, crazy and cruel world we inhabit...but it has always been so. I say start your family and teach the little tyke about all the things that are really going to matter. Keep him/her away from the damned Gabe Cube or X Box or any other mind rotting video games and instead teach them how to fix an engine, or grow organic veggies, or design and construct sustainable living communities.

    Have the kid. Be a mom and dad.

      Subkommander Dred

I heard that wearing your undies really tight will cause you to go infertile, at least temporarily. Maybe you could do something like that? That way you could say "yeah let's have a kid" but then she wouldn't get pregnant. Another option would be to get yourself into those drug trials for male birth control behind her back.

Just trying to be pragmatic ;)



There's always the vasectomy route also but personally I'm afraid of any operation that involves those areas. And I don't know how you'd manage to hide surgery from your wife. That's gonna show up in the bills somewhere along the lines. I guess you could get one for cash but that's gonna be shady and I don't think you want a shady doc working on your nether regions.



Cut a deal. She goes with the beans in a barrel in the basement, you sign off on the baby.
I agree. The baby is a long-term investment that (we hope) will one day pay big dividends in the form of grandchildren.
Indeed, from a moral angle, you probably should have several children to help improve the gene pool--and at the same time you will increase you security for your old age in case other assets are worthless.

A fair bargain would be to make your wife aware that this is a big decision and requires her to accept the realistic possibility that all of you will have standards of living possibly as low as those the British had during the Second World War or as low as working-class Americans had during the eleven years of the Great Depression.

A good first step is to figure out how to cut your expenses drastically: Perhaps go to being a one-car family, maybe live in a smaller house closer to where you work, maybe quit eating out completely. Now, if your wife is willing to make sacrifices such as these--and you are too--then I'd say you're ready to roll the dice and start a family.

BTW, before considering divorce, I suggest that you should consider the alternatives:
A. Murder
B. Suicide
C. Insanity
D. Alcoholism

Only when one or more of these alternatives begins to look good should you begin to think about divorcing your lovely lawyer wife.

Peak Oil is not an excuse to stop living.

Good luck.
P.S. Get any agreement in writing;-)

We've already had the baby, and she's going to need a lot of friends out there!  

Even if the overwhelming Global burden is due to the 6.6 billion or so humans, the US is going to see some population dipping as the Boomers exit stage left.  (The 'Doomers' don't die, they just keep talking about death)

But yeah, it is real work!  Childrearing is revolutionary enough WITHOUT the convergence of a few global emergencies.


As W'm McDonough said in 'From Cradle to Cradle, remaking the way we make things' (Great Book!)..  "It'll take all of us, and it'll take forever, but isn't that the point?"

I think there is a win for you, your wife, a child, and the planet.  Adopt.

Personally, we decided against having children.  If we change our minds, we'll  adopt one of the numerous orphaned children of Africa or unwanted children of China or elsewhere or here where we live.   I have no need to see my genes replicated at the expense of other children or the planet.  Frankly the planet needs a break from humans -- we already use more than 40% of the biosphere.

But let's assume for the sake of argument adoption is out of the question and you and your wife already are in love with the idea of your still only conjectural biological child.

Is having this child the best way to demonstrate that love?  How safe would this conjectural child be in the world she or he sees?  As a parent, is it right to knowingly bring a child into the path of potential harm?

As another poster pointed out above, the world your conjectural child would likely see would be one of accelerating climate degradation and instability coupling with energy depletion to give birth to a harsh, possibly dangerous, probably miserable environment.    I could quote this globio report but I think it has been covered at TOD extensively -- here's a taste though:  

There is a significant risk that the cumulative impacts will lead to the collapse of many natural buffer mechanisms within 50-100 years, and, hence, substantially exacerbate the impacts of pollution and climate change.

What kind of middle age and elderly life will your child have?  Would you want to be 75 when the world has gone to crap?

I say get a vasectomy (it's a snap) and adopt if you want to rear a child.  Instill in them the values and knowledge you possess and urge them to adopt when they get older, thus perpetuating both the good and selfless deed of you and your wife and possibly sowing respect for our environment in future generations.

Go for it.  Yes, a child WILL make life harder, but it will also make life worthwhile.  We'll need some bright, thoughtful people in the future too.

The adoption route make a lot of sense too.

As far as contributing of the population problem, if you only have one it's negative growth.  And you can always calcualate 1 / 6500000 X 100

Go the zero-growth route and have 2 kids (yours or adopted) to replace you and your wife.  

The advantages are:

  • A sibling with which to play.
  • The shared burden of tending to you and your wife in your old age.
  • Free entertainment and a feeling of being part of something greater than yourself.
  • Help in the garden and other manual labor after PO hits.
I knew all this rang a bell.  About a year or two ago, I had been surfing the web about various things and came across some far-fetched conspiracy information about a pact of flag officers called the "White Knights."

Excerpt from above link:

"This article contains a little different view of the White Knights. I'm told some of our White Knight officers do provide information to Skolnick as part of getting the TRUTH out to the American public. Skolnick does not use the term "White Knights"; he describes the White Knights as "group of highly patriotic Admirals and Generals, in military jargon called flag officers, who opposed Commander-in-Chief Clinton" and now oppose Bush Jr."

It all sounded pretty "out there," but all of a sudden, retired generals start going against the status quo.  Makes one want to believe there are "White Knights" out there to save us.  I guess we will see.

Hmmm...just being a bit more curious and dug up some more interesting info.

What the heck is NESARA?

And this link below is actual an excellent assessment of today's state of affairs with Iran (even mentions Peak!!!)

Before the U.S. House of Representatives

April 5, 2006

Iran: The Next Neocon Target


"The theory and significance of "peak oil" is believed to be an additional motivating factor for the U.S. and Great Britain wanting to maintain firm control over the oil supplies in the Middle East.  The two nations have been protecting  "our" oil interests in the Middle East for nearly a hundred years. With diminishing supplies and expanding demands, the incentive to maintain a military presence in the Middle East is quite strong.  Fear of China and Russia moving into this region to assume more control alarms those who don't understand how a free market can develop substitutes to replace diminishing resources.  Supporters of the military effort to maintain control over large regions of the world to protect oil fail to count the real costs once the DOD budget is factored in.  Remember, invading Iraq was costly and oil prices doubled.  Confrontation in Iran may evolve differently, but we can be sure it will be costly and oil prices will rise."

Alright...well...I guess it may also be just a scam, but a fairly creative one.  See link below:

I heartily agree that Rumsfeld should be fired now--and I think that he should have been fired years ago.

In regard to trying him for crimes, I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that there might be an issue of "giving aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime" in regard to Rumsfeld's actions--and lack of actions. Could any of the lawyers here render an opinion as to whether a case could be built that Rumsfeld has committed treason against the United States by giving aid and comfort to the enemy? IMO he has done more than a hundred times more damage to the the U.S. than did Osama bin Ladin and his cohorts on 0/11/01.

International law is something of which I have only the merest smattering of sketchy knowledge, but I think that broadly-worded piracy statutes are still in force, and I'd also be interested in a legal opinion as to whether some of those might apply in Rummy's case. One key element in piracy law is that it does not matter where crimes were committed, they can be prosecuted wherever the offender is aprehended. Because of the transportation (kidnapping) of some innocent people and their mistreatment ordered, condoned, and known to Rumsfeld, my thinking is that piracy statutes and laws may apply.

Piracy is a hanging offence. In regard to capital punishment, my thinking follows that of Kant.

Let's do one of those 2 + 2 = 4 calculations (and != 5).

  • Insightful people have known all along that Rumsfeld had approved torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. He should have been cut loose long ago. He has damaged the reputation of the US in the Muslim world beyond repair.

  • The Joint Chiefs and the current revolt of retired generals is not just a protest against Iraq and the apparent attack on the US constitution. It is also a strong indicator that they are worried about the operational planning now going on to bomb Iran. They, unlike the neocons, are aware of the impossibility of handling the consequences of such an attack or even the attack itself. Israel is the wildcard here.

  • In order to cement his support in Iran, which amounts to a well-taken care of extra-military force called the Revolutionary Guards, it would appear that Ahmadinejad would welcome such an attack according to some Iranian ex-pats I heard speak this week. He ran his presidential campaign on a domestic program to solve Iran's economically ruinous situation. Having found that this task is a bit harder than envisioned, he has done the traditional turnaround and focused on external enemies (Israel and to a certain extent, the US). However, many ordinary Iranians actually like the US. But if we bomb them, playing into Ahmadinejad's hands, that situation will change.
Just stating that attacking Iran is hard or impossible to do doesn't mean that the leadership won't do it. Blind ideologues are not reasonable. Some above, principally Don, have crafted reasonable arguments. Listen to the military guys, they're the ones who know what's going on. As I said in my original post on Iran, the JCS and other highly placed military are our best friend. I'm pleased that some highly respected generals, who represent a slew of others in this matter, have chosen to speak out about the crisis.

It is unprecedented that the military would revolt during wartime in US history. This ought to tell you the importance of what's going on. We are fast approaching a tipping point, a point of no return if the current momentum continues. The military are patriotic people. They are trying to save their country.

"It is unprecedented that the military would revolt during wartime in US history. This ought to tell you the importance of what's going on. We are fast approaching a tipping point, a point of no return if the current momentum continues. The military are patriotic people. They are trying to save their country."

I would like to see a poll showing how many people support what the retired generals are saying about Rumsfeld.  You think the MSM will EVER ask the question?  Perhaps we could conduct one here?

The military are NOT the ONLY patriotic people in this country.