Thursday, July 18, 2013


A geologist at Gulf Oil, M. King Hubbert, developed this theory in 1956: this is the point at which petroleum extraction would reach its peak and then begin to decline. He predicted that the United States, then the world's largest oil producer, would reach its maximum in 1970. This happened. As a result the seventies were a period of high volatility in oil prices. He also predicted that the rest of the world would reach peak oil around 2005. Since 2005 we also have had high volatility in oil prices, cf. summer, 2010, $4.50/gal.

Recently, Op-ed pundits and others have speculated that the United States will again become an oil exporter, having enough for its own needs, due to fracking and conservation (you don't hear that word much anymore, do you?). However, if true, this only postpones the problem of oil scarcity, it kicks the can down the road.

Perhaps today we should be thinking about mass transit, conservation, and other sources of energy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

And so to Richard Cheney, Vice-President of the United States, 2000-2008


It was Dick Cheney, graduate of the Richard M. Nixon School of Honest and Responsible Government, who floated the idea of Total Information Awareness back in 2001. The American people didn't like it then, and they don't like it now. However, Dick Cheney went underground and executed the idea. His chief-of-staff, Dick Addington, drew up the rationale and Michael Hayden, later head of the CIA, carried it out.

Richard Cheney is the author of the violations of the Fourth Amendment which now so exercise the American people.

Have you seen him lately on the talk shows, defending his egregious behavior? The seeds he planted have produced the police state that he thought was necessary, even during the days of the unlamented Richard Nixon.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Snowden Again

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath and affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Don't you think this should be required reading for James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, and General Alexander, head of the National Security Agency?
Eugene Robinson, in The Washington Post (7.4.13), detailed some of the egregious violations of the Fourth Amendment. Our government has collected information about billions of our phone calls, and perhaps, has recorded some or all of them. He asks the right question: under what authority was this information compiled? The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is supposed to oversee this operation, but its proceedings and rulings are secret. So we don't know. We do know that the government has requested more than 30,000 surveillance warrants and the court has refused only 11. Check my math, but that's .037%. 
That's right: .037%
So we don't know what information is being collected, for what purpose, and for how long. In essence, then, this is a lawless operation since the people, i.e. us, are not permitted to know any of these purposes or even whether the information is being or has been collected. It's a blank check to a Star Chamber court, completely and irrevocably antithetical to the Constitution and the American experience.
Policemen, and secret policemen, always want more information in order to "protect" their society from threats, both internal and external. In fact, the best way to protect us would be to put us in a dark cell, completely protected

Thursday, July 4, 2013

George F. Will Hits a Wall in Berlin

Just what was it about President Obama and his speech in Berlin that so bothered George F. Will, reactionary wordsmith of the Right? Was it the President's demeanor? Was it the mention of arms control? The President said that we cannot ignore the intolerance and extremism that provides the fuel for terrorism. George's sneer was that terrorists create intolerance and extremism - basically Obama is too dumb to understand this crucial distinction. The next insulting sneer was that Obama was ignorant of Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs. As if he could be. Remember when the Right insisted that a President shouldn't be criticised while on foreign soil? But that during the tenure of the Toxic Texan, not the unprincipled usurper, elected twice now. Which does remind me, has anyone heard of Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan lately?

This president seems to get under George's white, white skin. I looked at his article again and decided that the old hot buttons of the Cold War, so beloved by the Right, no longer produce the same frisson of angst and terror. The President mentioned arms control - that means cuts in the military, spelling financial hardship for arms makers and investors. The President is looking at the reasons why terrorists flourish in some venues across the globe. Again, for George, apostasy! He thinks that Americans have a God-given right to kill terrorists and anyone , really, who disagrees with our unquestionably generous policies. And then Obama talked about the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs. Yes, they are dangerous, but the central question is why these two countries, certainly not very properous or advanced, should devote so much of their Gross National Product to the production of nuclear bombs. Might these projects have something to do with fear? In the past has the United States threatened either or both countries? Does anyone remember Mohammad Mossadegh or the Korean War? Yes, George wants a no-nonsense, heavily armed America that brooks no opposition to its sway, you know, just like Ronald Reagan. Talking with opponents, considering long term solutions to problems, looking unblinkingly at the mistakes we've made - not for George.

I think that these considerations sparked George's tantrum. He was the one who hit the wall in Berlin, not President Obama.

The Atlantic Naval War: December, 1941 - June, 1942

Yesterday I watched Part II of The U-Boat War on You Tube. Again it confirmed my suspicion that many aspects of the Second World War have yet to be discovered.

After the gratuitous declaration of war by Germany on December 11, 1941, Admiral Doenitz, Commander of U-boats, dispatched five submarines to the East Coast of the United States to intercept and sink American and British shipping. They arrived at their patrol stations about January 10th. They were astounded to see that U.S. cities still had not dimmed their lights at night; Allied freighters and tankers were clearly outlined against the lights, providing easy targets for the marauding U-Boats. Later they extended their patrols to the Gulf of Mexico, especially the waters off Galveston, from which most American tankers sailed. The next five months were the "Happy Time" of the German U-boats. They sank over 400 ships off the East Coast of the United States. And this in spite of the fact that British Intelligence was reading U-boat radio traffic and had provided these intercepts to the American Navy. But Admiral King, then Commander-in-chief, United States Fleet, was an Anglophobe and did nothing with this incredibly valuable information. He also refused to institute convoys for vessels sailing northward to New York and Canadian ports where they would be convoyed to England. Admiral King remarked that convoys only provided grouped targets for the submarines, ignoring the plain fact that shipping losses from convoyed ships were significantly less that unconvoyed. The English even sent over four destroyer escorts to show the Americans how to detect and attact the U-boats. One of them, the HMS Bedfordshire, was sunk with all hands by a submarine. Their aid was not accepted. In late February, 1942, the lights of coast cities were dimmed, only after June was there a complete blackout. But even with the dimmed lights U-boat Captain Hardegen said they could clearly see the ships limned against the light. Only in June was there a complete blackout. Also in late May Admiral King consented to convoys, even with rag-tag escorts made up of small motorboats and volunteers.

King successfuly defended himself later, saying that lack of resources forced him to make the decisions he did. But then hindsight is always more effective than foresight.

Four hundred ships went down with over 4000 crewman lost.