The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 29, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

THE BIG U.S.OIL BUST

“Back in 2010, the price of a barrel of Brent crude (the international oil price benchmark) topped $80. That made it profitable to extract oil from tight shale formations, which is especially costly. A drilling frenzy ensued, domestic oil production skyrocketed, oil companies raked in profits and oil patch communities prospered.

But all that new oil on the market, plus China’s slowing economic growth, began to dampen oil prices in the summer of 2014. Instead of curtailing production to keep prices afloat, OPEC’s leaders launched a thinly veiled price war, clearly aimed at putting U.S. producers out of business. Here are some indicators that OPEC won the war.”

Oil bust – A red state phenomenon. Will this affect 2016 elections?

The Craving (with Apologies to Edgar Allan Poe, Again)

This poem was originally published on 12/24/06. It is being presented here on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 criminal attacks. It is this author’s very considered opinion that the attacks should have been treated as crimes and not Acts of War. You don’t use the military to go after the Mafia, and we should not have used the full force of our military to go after al Qaeda. In fact, I firmly believe that had we not gone in with our full military, we would have gotten the intel faster and Seal Team Six could have done their job sooner. But that’s a debate for another day.

———-

There has been much speculation about why the President really chose to invade Iraq. Some say it was to stabilize the region so our access to oil would be secure. Some say it was because Saddam had tried to assassinate the president’s father years before. (Then-President Clinton had already punished Saddam for that one, but that’s another story.) I am of the belief that this was just one part of an ambitious effort by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to expand the powers of the Office of the President of the United States of America to a height even Richard M. Nixon would have secretly envied. They are invoking a theory called the “Unitary Executive” which, in essence, says that the Executive Branch of our government has just as much say as to how the laws and the Constitution should be interpreted as the other two branches. (And I don’t mind telling you that it wasn’t easy to work the phrase “Unitary Executive” into a poem structured like this.) This theory has not been widely accepted by constitutional scholars. That little detail, however, has not stopped them. With sincere apologies to Edgar Allan Poe and fans of his great poem “The Raven”, I would like to present my version of the president’s quest for power with a poem I call “The Craving.” And my most deepest thanks to my wife, Jane, for her invaluable assistance in writing this. I hope you enjoy it. And if by some strange fluke of reality, you happen to be reading this Mr. President, take the hint.

The Craving
By Wayne A. Schneider

Act I: Extremists

Once upon a Tuesday Morning, after I ignored a warning
Over many there came a furious full plume of fiery gore.
Later seated simply staring, suddenly someone was sharing
That the enemy was bearing, bearing toward my White House door.
“It’s those terrorists,” I muttered “bearing toward my White House door.”
It was one, and there were four.

The other planes had landed where the terrorists had planned it,
Bringing death and devastation on a scale unseen before.
But the passengers still flying on Flight 93 were trying
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The Watering Hole, Monday, August 27th, 2012: Monday Mitt Medley

Mitt Headspin

Today’s offerings are almost completely about Mitt Rmoney, via recent pieces on ForeignPolicy.com and ThinkProgress.org.

Here’s a few excerpts from the first FP article, titled “PIPE DREAMS – Why Mitt Romney can’t free America from Middle East oil.”, authored by Michael Levi:

“Republicans have frequently criticized Obama for his admittedly hodgepodge energy strategy, a charge repeated in the new plan. The Romney plan solves that problem by substituting a narrow fossil-fuel production strategy for a genuinely comprehensive plan. Much in that fossil-fuel strategy is reasonable. Romney would shift more power to the states by allowing them to approve drilling on their lands and near their coasts without federal intervention. He would streamline environmental reviews, in part through clear deadlines, and in part by handing more control to the states.

“If that were accompanied by more federal capacity to process permit applications — something that Romney has decidedly not promised to do — the result could be a win-win for business and the environment.”

That’s a HUGEIf…”, especially if it’s something that Rmoney “has decidedly NOT promised to do.”

“The plan is also mum on the other grave energy challenge the country faces: climate change. Reasonable people can differ on how much emphasis to place on climate change in U.S. energy policy, but it isn’t reasonable to ignore it entirely. The Romney plan does not mention climate at all. To be certain, surging production of natural gas can help curb U.S. emissions, but it will come nowhere close to delivering the reductions the country needs alone. Romney likes to quip that people “do not call [climate change] America warming, they call it global warming,” his way of saying that climate change can’t be confronted unilaterally.”

Yet Dubya Bush, supported by the Republicans, refused to sign the Kyoto Protocols, which would ‘confront’ climate change ‘globally.’ Rmoney’s “quip” is yet another example of how warped his sense of humor, his character and his logic are.

The article continues…

“There are many good reasons to embrace rising U.S. oil and gas production and to reform the way government regulates their development.”

If ‘reforming regulation’ involves eliminating regulations, then NO, there are no good reasons.

…and finishes with,

“The Romney strategy for fossil-fuel development has some reasonable proposals on both fronts. But when it comes to comprehensively exploiting energy opportunities and confronting energy-related risks, the strategy falls woefully short.”

Michael Levi’s article links to “The Romney Plan For a Stronger Middle Class: Energy Independence“, which sounds like a non-sequitur to me. But the “Executive Summary” seems even more ludicrous, i.e.:

“An affordable, reliable supply of energy is crucial to America’s economic future.
I have a vision for an America that is an energy superpower, rapidly increasing our own production and partnering with our allies Canada and Mexico to achieve energy independence on this continent. If I am elected president, that vision will become a reality by the end of my second term.” -Mitt Romney

Of course, Rmoney’s basic premise on which he builds some of his so-called “Energy Policy” is a lie:

“In the midst of the energy revolution taking place on state and privately-held lands across America, oil and gas production on federal lands somehow plummeted last year. This was no accident. President Obama has intentionally sought to shut down oil, gas, and coal production in pursuit of his own alternative energy agenda.”

In addition, Rmoney’s “Energy Policy” is extremely vague, with many of the ‘power points’ in some sections appearing to contradict other points within the same section. And quite a bit of the policy appears to be based on studies by Citigroup (“Citi GPS: Global Perspectives & Solutions, “Energy 2020: North America, The New Middle East?” Citigroup, 3/20/12”), investment company Raymond James (Raymond James U.S. Research, “Yes, Mr. President, We Believe We Can Drill Our Way Out of This Problem,” Raymond James, 4/2/12), and the Manhattan Institute (Mark P. Mills, “Unleashing The North American Energy Colossus: Hydrocarbons Can Fuel Growth And Prosperity,” Manhattan Institute, 7/9/12.)

On ThinkProgress, several recent articles demonstrated Mitt’s cluelessness and lack of ability to hear or comprehend what comes out of his own mouth. In this one, Mitt insanely states that “I am very proud of what we did [Romneycare in Massachusetts – which included an ‘individual mandate] and the fact that we helped women and men and children in our state… And then with regard to contraceptives, of course Republicans, myself in particular, recognize that women have a right to use contraceptives.” Huh? Since when, and for how much longer?

Then Rmoney gives a shout-out to the Birthers, telling an audience in Michigan, “Nobody has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that I was born and raised.” Apparently Mitt can’t understand how much this one comment legitimatizes the Birther ignorati, especially in conjunction with the fact that seven (count ’em, SEVEN) Birther conspiracy advocates will be speaking at the RNC in Tampa.

While these are just a few examples of what’s been going on with Rmoney’s campaign, there’s sure to be a whole lot more interesting goings-on during the Republican National Convention, which may or may not start today. Should be fun!

This is our daily open thread — got anything to say about anything?

Army Suicide Rate Soars In Bush’s Quest for Oil

CNN

All of the widespread use of improvised explosive devises, multiple deployments, and the ambiguity of fighting combatants dressed as civilians is causing:

The rate of suicides among-active duty soldiers is on pace to surpass both last year’s numbers and the rate of suicide in the general U.S. population for the first time since the Vietnam war, according to U.S. Army officials.

As of August, 62 Army soldiers have committed suicide, and 31 cases of possible suicide remain under investigation, according to Army statistics. Last year, the Army recorded 115 suicides among its ranks, which was also higher than the previous year.

Army officials said that if the trend continues this year, it will pass the nation’s suicide rate of 19.5 people per 100,000, a 2005 figure considered the most recent by the government.

Another factor in the rise can be attributed to the increased pace of combat operations and financial and family troubles connected with deployments.

“Army leaders are fully aware that repeated deployments have led to increased distress and anxiety for both soldiers and their families,” Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said. “This stress on the force is validated by recent studies of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.”

The statistics were released Tuesday at a news conference announcing the completion of a study by mental health experts who the Veterans Administration asked to review its suicide prevention work and track numbers.

On Tuesday, the VA also announced findings from a study showing that suicides hit an all-time high in 2006 among younger U.S. military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The numbers show record levels for men, but the statistics are lower for women.

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It was the oil all along — naturally

Bill Moyers & Michael Winship, Truthout

Oh, no, they told us, Iraq isn’t a war about oil. That’s cynical and simplistic, they said. It’s about terror and al-Qaeda and toppling a dictator and spreading democracy and protecting ourselves from weapons of mass destruction. But one by one, these concocted rationales went up in smoke, fire and ashes. And now the bottom line turns out to be … the bottom line. It is about oil.

Alan Greenspan said so last fall. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, safely out of office, confessed in his memoir, “Everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” He elaborated in an interview with The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, “If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands, our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first Gulf War.”

Remember, also, that soon after the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, told the press that war was our only strategic choice. “We had virtually no economic options with Iraq,” he explained, “because the country floats on a sea of oil.”

Shades of Daniel Plainview, the monstrous petroleum tycoon in the movie, “There Will Be Blood.” Half-mad, he exclaims, “There’s a whole ocean of oil under our feet!” then adds, “No one can get at it except for me!”

No wonder American troops only guarded the Ministries of Oil and the Interior in Baghdad, even as looters pillaged museums of their priceless antiquities. They were making sure no one could get at the oil except … guess who?

Here’s a recent headline in The New York Times: “Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back.” Read on: “Four western companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.”

There you have it. After a long exile, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP are back in Iraq. And on the wings of no-bid contracts – that’s right, sweetheart deals like those given Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater. The kind of deals you get only if you have friends in high places. And these war profiteers have friends in very high places.  Keep reading→

Imagine that….

The war in Iraq was about the oil all along.  Not because the terrorists attacked us.  Not because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.  Not because the Iraqi people needed freeing.  Not because it’s our manifest destiny to spread democracy across the world.  None of that shit.

It’s a fact:  IT WAS THE OIL, STUPID.

And it will be the same for Iran.

Hey, if anyone stops by to read this post, and still supports this war and/or George W. Bush, I’d like to hear your story.

Good Morning from Europe – 354 opportunities to impeach!

Good Morning! The GOP Californian Debate has caught the eye of “The Times'” US editor Gerard Baker. And, if an article starts thus:

Another pretty dreadful debate, to be frank. Once again CNN demonstrated how little it really understands the Republican party. Anderson Cooper in particular continues to treat Republicans as some sort of anthropological curiosity, gingerly throwing them silly questions as a zookeeper might throw lumps of rotting meat into a cage full of irritable lions.

it’s made for TheZoo.

Here are the highlights, according to my borrowed European view:

I actually thought the worst moment of the whole debate was McCain’s stupid little snipe about how Romney had done a good job buying and selling companies resulting in some people being laid off. It was the kind of thing that testified both to McCain’s uncontrollable tendency towards nastiness and to the rather troubling attitude he sometimes displays towards business. No-one likes the idea of workers being laid off but it sounds very odd for a self-described conservative and strong supporter of the free market to be expressing doubt about a company’s feeedom to control its labour costs.

(…)

More than a third of the way through (it seems longer) and I don’t think anyone’s earth has moved yet. Tedious doesn’t begin to capture it.

Public Works: Interesting exposition of classical Keynesian stimulus economics by the ever-entertaining Huckabee.

Climate Change: McCain looks and sounds tired. Maybe he’s hoping that if he talks…really…slowly….everybody will just fall asleep and the debate will change nothing.

Read more here: It sounds like you didn’t miss much, when you decided to do something useful instead of watching the debate.

What if McCain prevails and will be nominated in the end? Hard times for the Republican Party ahead. As said in yesterday’s post, the likes of Malkin and Coulter are livid and the Party establishment will work him hard to change some of his positions. To top this off, Republican outsiders Giuliani and Schwarzenegger have endorsed McCain.

Now, the Democratic Party has another set of problems to solve. Sadly, John Edwards has quit the race. Who is going to get his delegates, asks “The Guardian”. And the Times helps us out with a useful list of endorsements for either candidate. “Der Spiegel” provides us with a calculation, why none of the candidates will finally win the nomination on Super Tuesday. Here’s why: Democrats need 2025 delegates for nomination. Hillary Clinton has 232, Barack Obama 158, (Edwards 62). 1678 Delegates will be determined at Super Tuesday. Given that one cadidate takes all Hillary Clinton can get 1910 (1972 if she gets Edwards’), Obama 1836 (1898 Edwards’ included) that’s still not 2025. And, it explains, why Hillary Clinton is so keen on including the Florida delegates despite her signing a party agreement, that the Floridians are out. The calculation for the Republicans looks similar (McCain max. 1178, Romney max. 1155/ 1191 needed). So, prepare for an ongoing battle. Even if you don’t live in a Super Tuesday State, your vote may still make a difference.

And finally, away from the elections. Which branch of the economy is still reaping record profits? Right – Oil

“Europeanview” wishes you all a happy and healthy day. Take care!