“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

God Bless George Bush - (Bobal)

Perfect Pitch
The Bush Paradox

June 24, 2008

Let’s go back and consider how the world looked in the winter of 2006-2007. Iraq was in free fall, with horrific massacres and ethnic cleansing that sent a steady stream of bad news across the world media. The American public delivered a stunning electoral judgment against the Iraq war, the Republican Party and President Bush.

Expert and elite opinion swung behind the Baker-Hamilton report, which called for handing more of the problems off to the Iraqi military and wooing Iran and Syria. Republicans on Capitol Hill were quietly contemptuous of the president while Democrats were loudly so.

Democratic leaders like Senator Harry Reid considered the war lost. Barack Obama called for a U.S. withdrawal starting in the spring of 2007, while Senator Reid offered legislation calling for a complete U.S. pullback by March 2008.

The arguments floating around the op-ed pages and seminar rooms were overwhelmingly against the idea of a surge — a mere 20,000 additional troops would not make a difference. The U.S. presence provoked violence, rather than diminishing it. The more the U.S. did, the less the Iraqis would step up to do. Iraq was in the middle of a civil war, and it was insanity to put American troops in the middle of it.

When President Bush consulted his own generals, the story was much the same. Almost every top general, including Abizaid, Schoomaker and Casey, were against the surge. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was against it, according to recent reports. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki called for a smaller U.S. presence, not a bigger one.

In these circumstances, it’s amazing that George Bush decided on the surge. And looking back, one thing is clear: Every personal trait that led Bush to make a hash of the first years of the war led him to make a successful decision when it came to this crucial call.

Bush is a stubborn man. Well, without that stubbornness, that unwillingness to accept defeat on his watch, he never would have bucked the opposition to the surge.

Bush is an outrageously self-confident man. Well, without that self-confidence he never would have overruled his generals.

In fact, when it comes to Iraq, Bush was at his worst when he was humbly deferring to the generals and at his best when he was arrogantly overruling them. During that period in 2006 and 2007, Bush stiffed the brass and sided with a band of dissidents: military officers like David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno, senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and outside strategists like Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and Jack Keane, a retired general.

Bush is also a secretive man who listens too much to Dick Cheney. Well, the uncomfortable fact is that Cheney played an essential role in promoting the surge. Many of the people who are dubbed bad guys actually got this one right.

The additional fact is that Bush, who made such bad calls early in the war, made a courageous and astute decision in 2006. More than a year on, the surge has produced large, if tenuous, gains. Violence is down sharply. Daily life has improved. Iraqi security forces have been given time to become a more effective fighting force. The Iraqi government is showing signs of strength and even glimmers of impartiality. Iraq has moved from being a failed state to, as Vali Nasr of the Council on Foreign Relations has put it, merely a fragile one.

The whole episode is a reminder that history is a complicated thing. The traits that lead to disaster in certain circumstances are the very ones that come in handy in others. The people who seem so smart at some moments seem incredibly foolish in others.

The cocksure war supporters learned this humbling lesson during the dark days of 2006. And now the cocksure surge opponents, drunk on their own vindication, will get to enjoy their season of humility. They have already gone through the stages of intellectual denial. First, they simply disbelieved that the surge and the Petraeus strategy was doing any good. Then they accused people who noticed progress in Iraq of duplicity and derangement. Then they acknowledged military, but not political, progress. Lately they have skipped over to the argument that Iraq is progressing so well that the U.S. forces can quickly come home.

But before long, the more honest among the surge opponents will concede that Bush, that supposed dolt, actually got one right. Some brave souls might even concede that if the U.S. had withdrawn in the depths of the chaos, the world would be in worse shape today.

Life is complicated. The reason we have democracy is that no one side is right all the time. The only people who are dangerous are those who can’t admit, even to themselves, that obvious fact.


  1. Screw Bush:
    He gave the country away to illegals.
    Traitorous, globalist bastard.

  2. If Barry wins, prepare to see a stupendous waste of taxpayer's dollars on an ethanol scam.
    Both he and Daschle are getting big bucks from "ethanol interests"

    Contrary to Obama's claims, the fact that he has revolutionized and democratized fundraising has not eliminated the dangers of big money in politics. As of May 31, Obama had raised 33 percent of his money from contributions of $1,000 or more, according to a report by the Campaign Finance Institute that will be released Tuesday.

    In the coming months, Obama will be raising big money as well as small money.

  3. With Oil at present levels, if all the bogus claims for ethanol were true, smart money would be rushing in to invest and harvest the easy money to be made they said would occur at prices far below today's.

  4. It's also never mentioned that Vice President Al Gore headed up an Public /Private initiative called the "Battery Consortium."

    One would have thought that twelve years on we would all be ready to trade in our gas guzzlers on the "Cars of the Future."

    Well, battery powered is still the "Car of the Future."

  5. Battery Consortium


    Battery Consortium

    Battery Consortium

    I'd never heard of that battery consortium so I googled. What I got there, I don't know. We're still running on unleaded out this way:)

  6. Exactly right, the battery is a no-go, for moving an automobile. Just wo't get 'er done.

    There does not seem to be much movement towards ethanol production, as doug tells US. Certainly not breakng ground on reaching a million barrels per day production,

    No matter what the happenings in Brazil would indicate are possible.

    The Baathists were co-opted, the Sadrists laying low. If this is success, in Iraq, we can begin to leave. If the US cannot begin to leave, success has not been achieved,

    Success is withdrawal, that was Mr Bush's promise, it has not been fulfilled.

    "They stand up, we stand down."
    It has failed to happen, the surge phase of the operation is about done.

    When do the rest of the troops come home?

  7. Even if batteries did move a car, economicly, what of the 300 million existing vehicles, they will not retrofit new propulsion systems.

    The collective's propaganda machine is working flat out.

    Universal energy, Build electrical plants to replace oil powered vehicles. A false storyline that many are buying into, even here.

  8. While in the real world

    In the populous South Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, Obama leads 46%-30% over McCain in a new Miami Herald/Zogby poll (June 18-20, 807 A, MoE 3.5%). Among Hispanics, who have consistently voted Republican in the state, Obama leads 40%-35%.

    The three counties -- the three largest in the state -- total 5.4 million people, making up 30% of Florida's population.

  9. Another day, another airport lay-over.

    Just looked at the new Belmont. What do you think? It no longer looks like a club to me. All the intimacy is gone. The presentation and power has shifted from the comments to the blog itself.

    Too bad about that.

  10. The irony - in my mind - is that the Obama campaign is running on supercharged populist appeal [if I hear one more Norman “Obama” Rockwell commercial …] while McCain’s policies tend to solutions offered at the individual level rather than bureaucratic level. For example, McCain’s health care plan pivots on the individual. Obama’s plan requires government program to insure all Americans.

    I tend to think that Wretchard’s view on Iraq and foreign policy in general is more right than wrong, which is to say, the CINC is almost irrelevant because finding the “key” that will resolve the tangled web of tribal, ethnic, and religious violence is almost a matter of chance. Keep trying until something works.

    One of the old Belmont posters wrote something to the effect that a troubled soul can’t be trusted.

    It appears to me that McCain’s hand is more steady.

  11. "..Just looked at the new Belmont.."

    I don't like it. Noticed that Totten is there as well. Another writer I wont be reading anymore.

  12. I've yet to read one piece by Richard that deals with renewables. I'm sorry, but to me that's running on an intellectual bankrupt gas tank.

  13. I was just listening to Kudlow on early morning news talking about the time frame for building nuclear power plants. A guest said the Japanese build them in 3-5 years.

    The silver lining to the energy cloud is that the regulatory environment will be exposed for the fraudulent burden that it really is. I have always been a strong supported of the oversight function of government. No more. I would rather take my chances.

    As Kudlow’s co-chair noted, more people have died of tomato salmonella than nuclear malfunction.

  14. All the intimacy is gone. The presentation and power has shifted from the comments to the blog itself.


  15. You'd have thought he'd have found a less gloomy self-portrait.

    Does not think himself worthy of even a KMart studio shot.

    He was better off anonymous

  16. Yep to that too. Bad judgement.

  17. Consumer confidence down.

    Gloomy portraits.

    Can't do this, can't do that until we shine the light of many colors and reduce all risk to zero. The frustration is palpable.

    See it in the markets.

  18. Another levee breach.

    McCain adviser steps into warm steaming pile of a trap.

  19. Consumer confidence fell ...
    ... to the lowest level in more than 16 years, ...

    Back to the final days of his dad's administration. Back to the future, again.

  20. Two items from Iraq, just today.

    Four Americans, six Iraqis killed in Baghdad blast
    55 minutes ago

    BAGHDAD (AFP) — Two US soldiers, two American civilians and six Iraqis were killed in a bomb attack Tuesday on municipal offices in Baghdad's eastern Shiite bastion of Sadr City, US and Iraqi officials said.

    The attack which the US military blamed on Shiite extremists occurred mid-morning shortly before district council elections were to take place, an Iraqi security official said.

    One US soldier, three members of the district council and seven other Iraqis were wounded, the US military and Iraqi security officials said.

    The American military said it detained a suspect soon after the attack.

    "The individual was caught by coalition forces fleeing the scene and tested positive for explosive residue," a military statement said.

    US embassy official W. Johann Schmonsees said that one of the civilians killed was a State Department employee and the other worked for the Defence Department. They were both attached to the American mission in Baghdad.

    The US military said two of its soldiers were killed in the blast and charged that the attack was carried out by Special Groups extremists.

    and then, this

    Two U.S. Soldiers Killed as Iraqi Council Member Opens Fire After Meeting

    BAGHDAD, June 23 -- Two U.S. soldiers were killed and three were wounded Monday when a council member opened fire on them after a meeting in a small town south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

    An Iraqi interpreter also was wounded in the shooting in Salman Pak Nahia, which is about 20 miles south of Baghdad, ...

    Two Salman Pak residents identified the assailant, who was killed, as council member Raed Hmood Ajil.

    ... said in phone interviews that Ajil, a Sunni tribal leader, opened fire on the soldiers without provocation.

    Suleiman said the soldiers were in town for the opening of a park built with U.S. funds.

  21. Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.

    And the Republicans are the Party of Paranoia.

    I expect some of this is true, but something is missing. I am having trouble believing that the oil companies are that stupid. I listened to a hedge fund manager claim that when the US oil companies first explored the fields in Saudi Arabia they overestimated the total yield. The Saudis recognized this some period of time later but the point is this - if anyone on the planet has intimate knowledge of the actual supply, it’s going to be the oil companies. It’s not as though you can disguise the fact. When supply is gone - there’s a big empty hole. Somebody had to be thinking about Peak Oil and the world beyond. My working theory is that the oil companies miscalulated the strength and speed of industrialized growth in the globalized world and that dramatically shortened the Peak Oil time frame.

    So, even if you have all your oil money, how are you going to live without energy? How are your children going to live? It’s fine to run with the greed theory and I don’t discount it.

    I have talked myself into a corner. All of the evidence suggests that the oil companies are not just greedy but stupid as well. I have trouble reconciling that level of stupidity with Big Business. They make their profits by being smart. They keep their profits by being smarter. It appears they were smart but not smarter.

    I still think there is a missing piece of this picture.

    Or not.

  22. 40 years from now there will be a lot of respect for George W. Bush. He's done a LOT of things right. He understood the oil story from day one.

    DR, we're currently producing 600,000 barrels of ethanol/day. The plants are UNDER CONSTRUCTION to bring us within spitting distance of a Million.

    Doug, I've taught you better than that. :(

    Ethanol is saving you between $0.50 to $1.00 gallon everytime you got to the filling station.

  23. All you need to know about Global Warmening

  24. It doesn’t make any financial sense either. The international oil companies are capital flush. There is almost zero risk in making an investment in the inevitable yet we see no movement in that direction. In fact we are being told that the oil companies are actively blocking the way into renewables and other alternative forms of energy supply. That just doesn’t make any sense. Their capital wealth will endure for generations. It’s a done deal. What is the advantage of obstructionism? It’s pointless and self-destructive and these people are not fools.

    Or maybe.

  25. Old Belmont was better. Now you're hit with advertising right in the face.

  26. rufus, we need a million more, over today's production levels.

    Not a million barrels per day, total, but an additonal million barrels daily to be able to supplement most Saudi imports. We are averaging daily imports of 1.4 million barrels of oil from there, alone.

    Hugo, about the same. Another million barrels per day.

    So it'd seem that the prototype plants and knowledge base are pretty well developed, in non corn based ethanol solutions.
    We just need to develop a production cycle using that technology and increase production by a factor of five, in short order.

    As a matter of National Security.

    Much more vital a project than basing conventional US ground troops in Korea or Germany

  27. I wonder if there will be an effort at an Iraqi Tet come fall.

  28. Slade, Exxon (I'll use them as an example) owns "oil" fields. They're making about $40 Billion/yr in the "Oil" bidness. I'm sure their goal is to make $60 Billion Next Year.

    I can't, for the life of me, see how it would be in their interests to promote a competitive technology. Not Now.

  29. I'd bet Afghanistan, for that, bob.

    Sadr will be calm, at least through their elections, first their regional ones this fall, then for the Parliment, in '09.

    Gaining by the ballot what bullets could not provide.

  30. Naive it is then.

    I can't understand the motivation for making another $60B when you have $40B from last year. At some point you're talking real money. As I said above, they can live on capital wealth for the next century and there is very little risk to investing in a post-Peak Oil technology.


    Listen particularly to the part at 5:10

    Does not sound like an industry that has confidence in its future.

  32. Will everyone's hair be on fire as oil heads back down to 85-95 per barrel?

    God knows the polity loves a good crisis. Or "crisis."

    The herd and its Elmer Gantrys will be moving on to something new, out of boredom (but not embarrassment) soon enough.

  33. Rat, I, absolutely, agree. Unfortunately, however, it's going to take a couple of years. The forces that are aligned against ethanol (and, biodiesel) are Immensely Powerful. The Saudis, for all intents, and purposes, OWN Fox News and the Wall St (Wahhabi St.?) Journal.

    That segment of the "environmentalist/AGW" movement that is, actually, only interested in the destruction of "Capitalism," and the United States economy is, also, fighting against ethanol in as much as they perceive it to be a mitigating factor in the damage that oil is doing to our Nation.

    Minor investments are being made; but the "serious" money is being very cautious. They've gotta get more information on which way the "political" winds are going to blow.

    Interesting sidenote: Ethanol's biggest political foe, John McCain, is now saying that all cars need to be "flex-fuel." Whassup wit dat?

    The "Good" news is that we're going to "Get There." At $4.00 Gasoline it's just a matter of "this year, or next?"

  34. I can't, for the life of me, see how it would be in their interests to promote a competitive technology. Not Now.

    My theory is that Peak Oil arrived sooner than these guys expected - industrilization accelerated under globalization faster than anyone anticipated so Peak Oil is not tomorrow but today. If this is true, then now would be a good time to branch out. What is the motivation for that second or third billion dollars when you and your greatgrand kids are already living off of capital wealth?

  35. Just playin' the News, rufus.

    He knows full well that up to an E20, no mechanical modifications need be made, E30, too, perhaps.

    No need to wait on new cars entering the market. We run ethanol blends across the marketplace here, in Phoenix, every summer, right now we're running ethanol blends.

    Mandate those ethanol blends on an increaseing schedule of higher levels, everywhere, Guarenteeing the non-corn production a market. Justified as it is a national security issue as much as a economic one. And as an economic issue, it also effects US national security.

  36. Minor investments are being made; but the "serious" money is being very cautious. They've gotta get more information on which way the "political" winds are going to blow.

    FWIW, I agree with that completely. Oil companies are hoarding cash which I call chicknsh^t. They are used to a monotonic market with less uncertainty. Now that is something I can understand, but stupid, no.

  37. If it gets back to $35 per barrel, trish, find an extinguisher.
    $85, is that the new projected norm, by the collective?

    Once those dreadful speculators are driven from the market.
    Oil to vital to be a market driven commodity.

    Like FDR made gold.

    Wheels go round and round

  38. So far our new ethanol producing nuclear power plant in south Idaho is on track. (I'm still embarrassed that Rufus had to point it out to me) Not de-railed yet, anyway. I think it's a go, in that area, and this political climate. Those south Idaho Mormons and Basques aren't fools. They did have one protester arrested at the last town hall meeting, but I'
    m not sure what he was protesting. Sounded like something else maybe. He's in jail on an assault charge.

  39. $85, is that the new projected norm, by the collective?

    Once those dreadful speculators are driven from the market.

    - Rat

    Speculators are increasingly betting that the pbl is headed down. Out in front, headed way down.

    Shouldn't need a member of The Collective to tell you that.

  40. Matthew Simmons - I saw that interview. Straight talker. He said elsewhere that the last trade he made in his portfolio was an oil stock. He's letting it ride.

    The aging fleet issue putting production too far out on the event horizon. I expect that is significant but he also said that it is imperative to stabilize oil supply near-term.

  41. It's not the reality that counts, in DC, it's the perception that is important when making a power grab.

    Have to limit the markets, to protect the public.

    Across the MSM spectrum, from O'Reilly @ FOX to that Keith Oberman charector @ MSNBC

  42. Rockets fired into Israel, news says. Truce broken. That didn't take long.

  43. Rat, that has, for all practical purposes, been done. The RFS (Renewable Fuels Standard) that Congress passed a couple of months ago, and, which Dubya pushed, mandates a steady escalation up to 36 Billion Gallons/yr. This is, in essence, E25. Note: this could end up being E20, with 5% being supplied by way of E85.

    This is what has the Oil Boyz "Shocked." They're trying to nip it in the bud, NOW, with Gov. Rick Parry's appeal to the EPA, and their all-out "assault" in the media.

    It ain't gonna work, though. The EPA works for Dubya; and, gas prices are at $4.00 plus.

    Minnesota is chompin at the bit to apply to the EPA for permission to raise their Minnesota standard to E20, and have already completed a year-long test of state vehicles running on E20 which showed no "driveability" issues, and virtually no loss in gas mileage.

  44. Yep Part III.

    I wish we could relearn how to get things done. As an individual I hate being rushed. Like to take my time. But this "last chance" express to h^ll is just ridiculous.

  45. While some Dem or another, a Congressman, was talking of nationalizing the refineries, just last week.

    Instead, they'll limit the average man's ability to participate in the oil futures market, nationalizing or monopolizing it, instead.

    And the GOP will claim a success, saving the refineries, in an election year. AWhile further protecting US from the financial manipulations of the "unapproved" speculator.

  46. and?

    Life goes on, I quess. I don't see any headline reading 'Olmert Personally Leads Tank Formation Into Gaza'.

  47. What was that plant, rufus, that scored higher than sugar cane?

    Sour dourham or some such, I don't recall the name.

  48. This would all be business as usual for me - my equilibrium wouldn't be off the charts - except for the haters with their portable hate-filled devices. That just scares me.

  49. Folks, the United States is an Oil "importer." (about 13 million barrels/day.) The EU, also, is an oil importer. China is an oil "Importer." So is India. And, despite all the hype, Brazil is an "importer" of petroleum products. Indonesia is, now, an oil "importer." The U.K. has turned from oil Exporter to "Importer."

    Oil "Exports" were down in 07' from 06'; and, they were Down in 06' compared to 05'. They will be Down, This Year.

    If you want to bet on oil going to $85.00/bbl have a ball. BUT, I "Strongly" suggest that you don't bet the Grandkids' College Fund on it. :)

  50. "I wish we could relearn how to get things done."

    Again, Matt Simmons. Again, listen to the last minute of the interview.

  51. Sweet Sorghum, Rat. It's big advantages being that 1) You can grow it in some Godawful poor soil, and 2) It's relatively easy to process (like sugar cane.) Also, it's Cheap to grow. Doesn't require hardly any fertilizer inputs, nor much cultivation.

    It will lend itself well to small, local operations.

  52. The US imported 13.968 million barrels per day, in Apr08.

    It imported 232 million barrels per day, from Brazil.

    The US exports almost 1 million barrels per day, according to dated data, 2004, from the CIA

  53. There's some real silver linings here. The jet boat traffic on the river is way way down. Less fishing pressure all over. Travel to the back country is down, making for a better experience if you can afford to go. Looking through yesterday's
    Shopper I saw motorhomes for sale--good ones too--for a few thousand bucks, not 30 or 40k. Great time to buy a motorhome if you have a place to park it. Park it in the driveway, use it as a guest house for the relatives. Bad time to build an RV Park.

  54. "and ... ?"

    MIAs are to be pronounced KIA by the rabbinate.

  55. BAGHDAD (AP) — A sharp drop in attacks on pipelines has enabled Iraq to increase oil exports from northern oil fields and profit from the rise in world energy prices, the country's oil minister said Friday.

    Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said pipeline attacks fell from an average of 30 a month in 2007 to only four last month. Most of the attacks had been in the north, where Sunni insurgents were active.

    Al-Shahristani told Al-Sharqiya television that the reduction in attacks has enabled Iraq to export more oil from the northern oil fields around Kirkuk to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

    The northern pipeline had been frequently shut down for extended periods during the past four years because of sabotage.

    Iraq's oil exports, most of which come from southern oil fields around Basra, have risen above 2 million barrels a day for the first time since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, the Oil Ministry said this month.

    Officials expect the figure to rise further this month because of increased activity at the northern fields.

    The boost in exports comes at a time of record-high oil prices worldwide, providing Iraq with a financial windfall as it struggles to rebuild the country after decades of war, U.N. economic sanctions and misrule.

    Al-Shahristani has said the country expects to reap revenues of $70 billion by year's end if world prices remain high.

  56. Jet boats are the most inefficient form of water transport I know of. Those babies really suck the gas. I mean they really suck the gas. Great machines. If you can afford it. Even the little water jets--skidoos--little snomobiles on water--you don't see them much now either.

  57. I should have been careful to specify "NET" exports. For instance, although Brazil exports some oil, it "imports" some some diesel, and, I think, Gasoline, and other petroleum products.

  58. Another, f'rinstance: Mexico exports oil to us, but imports gasoline (some from us, I think.)

    BTW, "Mexico's" oil exports have gone straight to hell. Off about 40% THIS YEAR so far. It's looking like 2010 might be the LAST year that Mexico "Exports" oil.

  59. We making a lot of Iraqis rich. They ought to be damned thankful.

  60. Why, geologically speaking, is it, that so much of the world's oil supplies are in the mid-east? What is it about that area that caused these formations millions of years ago? Why isn't oil spread generally over all the earth?

  61. Bobal, oil is from dead algae, covered, and compressed as ancient seas expanded, and contracted. In short, it's found on ancient shorelines.

  62. It's not the reality that counts, in DC

    - Rat

    Yeah I love the enduring conceit that it counts everywhere else.

  63. Rufus: BTW, "Mexico's" oil exports have gone straight to hell. Off about 40% THIS YEAR so far. It's looking like 2010 might be the LAST year that Mexico "Exports" oil.

    Gosh, maybe they better put PEMEX on a back burner and think about letting some US oil companies in there to see what they can do.

  64. Rufus: BTW, "Mexico's" oil exports have gone straight to hell. Off about 40% THIS YEAR so far. It's looking like 2010 might be the LAST year that Mexico "Exports" oil.

    Gosh, maybe they better put PEMEX on a back burner and think about letting some US oil companies in there to see what they can do.

  65. DR: The US exports almost 1 million barrels per day, according to dated data, 2004, from the CIA

    How about we create a law that says no US oil is for export. It would bring us that much closer to independence from Middle East oil.

  66. Suffecient energy creates its' own realities. Based upon perceptions.

    Nigerian oil production stumbles, price of crude jumps a tad

    LAGOS (AFP) — Nigeria's top military and security officials met Monday with oil company executives and parliamentarians to try to thrash out a solution to the worsening security situation in the Niger Delta, which has slashed Nigeria's oil output.

    The Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Tom Brisibe, who convened the meeting, said: "We asked the international oil companies about their internal security arrangements and the arrangements they have with the Nigerian security forces. We asked the companies what they feel should be done."

    "One solution that some are thinking about is increased active participation from local host communities -- that is active ownership of the assets in the oil industry as much as practicable," Bisibe continued.

    Ann Pickard, Shell's most senior executive in Nigeria, said just that the company would like "to get back to production as soon as possible at Bonga".

    Which effect the markets, this way

    SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Crude-oil futures closed with a gain of more than $1 per barrel Monday, with energy traders showing disappointment over Saudi Arabia's latest move to increase production as concerns over output in Nigeria continued to grow.
    Crude for August delivery closed at $136.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $1.38, or 1%. It traded as high as $137.85 during the Nymex session.
    The contract last traded at $137.27 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex.

  67. Lilith, most of our "oil" exports are probably in the form of "swaps" with Canada, and Mexico. For instance, we might import some oil from Saudi Arabia, refine it on the East Coast, and sell part of it to E. Canada. Meanwhile, we import oil from the tar sands into the Dakotas. Maybe, we drop off some North Slope oil to one part of Canada, and import some oil from another part.

    Kinda, samey-same with Mexico. Import some oil, export some Nat Gas, and asphalt. It's ALWAYS more complicated than it sounds.

  68. Slade: My working theory is that the oil companies miscalulated the strength and speed of industrialized growth in the globalized world and that dramatically shortened the Peak Oil time frame.

    The flaw in your theory is that Peak Oil isn't a consumption metric or even a consumption vs. production metric but purely a production metric. It's not about supply vs. demand (that's reflected partially oil prices) but purely the annual rate of supply. Investors have fled a falling dollar and securitized mortgages and put their money in oil futures, causing a huge run up in the price of oil, while Americans trade in their SUVs and tankers full of Iranian crude sit there in the Gulf going nowhere. Right after the Olympics China will shift back to coal from diesel and this will pop the bubble. And the talk of peak oil will start to fade just like the talk of global warming is.

  69. That Bonga platform was 120 km out into the Ocean. That operation wasn't a couple of "hooligans" in a rowboat.

  70. Lilith, don't believe in "fairey tales." The "Speculators" have been net, "Short" for a long time. It's the Importers of the world bidding for declining supplies of exports.

    The World Economy has been growing at about a 5% Clip for the last three years, and yet, Crude production has been "flat" since 05'.

  71. How about we create a law that says no US oil is for export. It would bring us that much closer to independence from Middle East oil.

    Now that has always made a lot of sense to me. What is this about drilling Alaska, and shipping the lot to Japan? They seem to say well it's a world market, etc. but I'm with you there, Lil.

  72. Rufus: The World Economy has been growing at about a 5% Clip for the last three years, and yet, Crude production has been "flat" since 05'.

    That's only scary to people who think the economy is tied one-for-one to oil consumption. How much oil does Microsoft gobble up? I believe in Peak Oil too, but it won't come about because of declining resources but because of declining orders. After this oil spike (and dollar dip) the world economy and oil prices will find a true equilibrium based on market fundamentals, maybe around $70, and then there will be a long slow decline in production because renewables will gradually take up the slack. No catastrophe, just the free market doing what it always does.

  73. Lilith,

    If you know anything about the stock market you know that the transports lead the way. And if you know anything about the economy you know that stock market leads the way. So when the transports start to falter the economy is sure to follow.

  74. You're right on target today, Lil, that's what I think too.

  75. Bobal, Lilith, Good Luck with your Theory. :)

  76. So when the transports start to falter the economy is sure to follow.


    Well, for what it's worth, Amtrack is having a big year.

    I've never claimed to be an economist, Rufus, all I've claimed is that when you're 'dead', you're not really 'dead'. :)

  77. And, I'm in the 'cat bird' seat on that one, as it's one of those claims that's hard to disprove. Want to try it?

  78. Bob,

    Have a look. We've broken the uptrend:$TRAN&p=D&yr=0&mn=6&dy=0&id=p81826550151

  79. I don't know much about all that dead/not dead stuff, Bob. But, I Do Know that the world is adding 75 Million Cars every Year; and, it's oil production is "flat."

  80. The one thing I know for sure is, if we have to go back to horse farming, there's going to be lots of starved out, dead bodies in the streets, before we get there. You can count on that.

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  82. This is the type of thing I've been visuallizing.

    Louisiana passes law to Create Non-Corn (Local) Ethanol Industry.

    I think something like this can be done in every county in the United States, if not the world.

  83. The polity, in fact, reminds me of the Knights Who Say Ni.

  84. Rufus, back when Carter was in office, and screwing everything up, he did send us via USDA a big package about how to put together a fuel making setup on the farm. Dang, I've looked for it, but must have lost it. I was really thinking of trying to do it then, but, then the prices went down. Now I'm too old to think about getting it going. I do know a guy however who makes some fuel on his farm. It sure can be done. He says, it's a lot of work, and barely worth it right now, but it beats starving to death, if and when it comes to that. I'd actually like to try it, but I'm out of the game, now.

  85. Sweet Sorghum: A New Smart Biofuel Crop that Ensures Food Security

    In these days of soaring food prices worldwide , imagine a crop that provides food, livestock feed and biofuel. It grows in dry conditions, tolerates heat, salt and waterlogging, and provides steady income for poor farmers. Sweet sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench], a plant that grows to a height of 8 to 12 feet and looks like corn but with the grain on top rather than on the side of the plant, has all these qualities.

    “Sweet sorghum provides an opportunity for developing countries to re-direct oil money that used to go overseas back into their own rural economies,” says Dr. William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), one of the 15 allied centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

    “We consider sweet sorghum an ideal ‘smart crop’ because it produces food as well as fuel,” Dr. Dar adds. “With proper management, smallholder farmers can improve their incomes by 20% compared to alternative crops in dry areas in India.”

    In partnership with Rusni Distilleries and some 791 farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India, ICRISAT helped to build and operate the world’s first commercial bioethanol plant, which began operations in June 2007. Locally produced sweet sorghum is used as feedstock.

    The process is simple. To produce ethanol, the sorghum stalks are crushed yielding sweet juice that is fermented and distilled to obtain bioethanol, a clean burning fuel with a high octane rating.

    The grain can be used for food, chicken or cattle feed. Yet if it has been damaged by disease, no problem – it can also be used to make bioethanol, protecting farm incomes that would otherwise be lost.

    The crushed stalks, called bagasse, can be burned to provide energy for the distillery. However research by ICRISAT’s sister center, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), has found that the bagasse value can be doubled if it is compacted in nutritious blocks and fed to cattle.“

    Similar public-private-farmer partnership projects with ICRISAT, local industries and farmers are also underway in the Philippines, Mexico, Mozambique and Kenya, as countries search for alternative fuels.

    India intends to use a 10% ethanol blend to save an estimated 80 million liters (21 million gallons) of gasoline each year to ease the country’s growing need for gasoline and to reduce carbon emissions.

  86. Great find, DR.

    I'm in about the same boat you're in, Bob. Dangit. There's money to be made in this biofuels deal.

    Keep an eye on this Bobby Jindall, boys. He's a "Comer," big time.

  87. The first large-scale studies of sorghum-based cellulosic ethanol (oddly enough, done in conjunction with the Tata Motor Group, which will likely amplify world carbon emission drastically with it’s new Nano) reveal
    sweet sorghum could produce eight times as much energy as is expended in growing it.

    "Sorghum isn't traded internationally, it's grown and consumed locally in dry areas," said Mark Winslow of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in a recent Reuters interview. "Since you're producing the grain on this plant, it's not a trade-off as it is with corn."

    Additionally, massive amounts of cellulosic ethanol could be produced from already existing sorghum plantations, since the new ethanol creation techniques would use only waste products. This means sorghum could be adapted to biofuel use without requiring the massive carbon-releasing deforestation inextricably linked to other crops, such as cane sugar.

    Finally, sweet sorghum already grows—and grows well—in some of the poorest areas in the world. This means that the newly crowned front-running biofuel could offer historically resource poor nations a shot at energy independence and increased development,

    While wide-scale ethanol conversion remains more or less untested, it’s clear that sweet sorghum offers some of the most alluring biofuel prospects to date. An upcoming conference, organized by the United States, may yet yield further developments.

  88. Sweet Sorghum

    It's odd, but I don't think I saw any of this on my trip back east. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of corn, though. Unbelievable to my wheat wise eyes. We didn't really get down to the south though, where the article says it is mostly grown.

  89. I like Bobby Jindal too, and I don't even know the guy!

  90. Sweet Sorghum, wonder how it'd do in place of poppies, in Afghanistan?

    Or Pakistan, for that matter

  91. Always wanting another shrubbery

  92. Good question, Rat. I bet if it wouldn't grow there, now, Monsanto could "Make" it grow there.

    Of course, hell, Poppies are a "Pretty Good" Biodiesel crop. And, I'm pretty sure you could grow quite a bit of jatropha over there.

    They do grow a little wheat, you know. Although, I think that might be in the Northern part.

  93. Mat - I liked minutes 3-4 - to paraphrase “anything is possible (we might discover vast new oil reserves) but what is likely is that we won’t (50-50 chance) and what is certain is that growing demand will outstrip supply.

    Two words - Risk Management. I submit the western world has no good grasp of this concept. Look at the use of 100-year storm events to design levees that are breaching faster than you can say Run for High Ground which seems to be our currently preferred form of risk mitigation in flood control.

    From the last minute:

    The best new oil basin we will ever find is called conservation.

    This is going to get real ugly. Conservation in industrializing powerhouses like China?

    I am not a big fan of conservation. It could be a bias born of the environmental movement’s mis-steps in the past or maybe I can’t get the Dixie Chick’s toilet paper out of my mind. There is something peripheral and coquettish about it that lacks gravitas.

    But having said that, and having at last discovered a voice that rings true in Matt Simmons - a rarity for this particular subject, I will support conservation as one means of ending oil dependence on nations that are not particularly friendly towards the U.S. Skeptical as I am of the mitigation potential of conservation, I am not at all uncertain about the hatred targeted at this country.

    Matt Simmons in 2008.

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  95. Rufus - the one criticism I have heard - repeatedly - about biofuels is that energy in is always greater than energy out because the transportation is not considered in the process train. I can look up some references but that's the nutshell version.

  96. Rufus: I don't know much about all that dead/not dead stuff, Bob. But, I Do Know that the world is adding 75 Million Cars every Year; and, it's oil production is "flat."

    Even with flat production you can have 75 million cars one year, driving 30,000 miles, and 150 million cars the next year driving 15,000 miles. Alternatively, with flat production you can have 75 million SUVs one year driving 30,000 miles, and 150 million sedans the next year also driving 30,000 miles.

  97. I'm starting to think, the best play of all is, the tennis shoe manufacturer's stock.

  98. I've read that too Slade, the best I come up with is bio-fuels are a gain, but just a little bit, not a windfall.

  99. Well, we could have 750 million cars not driving at all, and we'd save gas, in one year.

  100. This proposal doesn't sound at all sensible, however.

  101. Aw, Slade, don't pay any attention to Ted Patzek. He's "Founder, and Director" of the UC Oil Consortium.

    Ex. You can, according to the Union Pacific commercial, move 2,000 lbs (approx 330 gallons) of biodiesel/ethanol 433 miles using one gallon of diesel/biodiesel.

    Another ex. You can raise 151 bushels of corn, (equal to 435 gallons of ethanol PLUS 2,700 lbs of distillers grains - high quality, protein-rich cattle feed) with an input of 8 Gallons of Diesel/biodiesel. Probably, a little less with modern tillage methods.

    The major energy inputs are nat gas for the fertilizer, and nat gas to power the process at the ethanol refinery. The nat gas at the refinery is falling rapidly due to efficiencies, and the fact that more, and more, refineries are turning to biomass for their process power "feedstock."

    Basically, everything you are hearing is a Multi-Multi-Million Dollar Disinformation "Full-Court Press" by Big Oil, conducted through paid proxies such as Fox News, and the WSJ (both, essentially" controlled/owned by the Saudis, and outfits like the Nature Conservancy - financed by Exxon-Conoco.

    Don't fall for it. It might cause you to miss an opportunity.

  102. The world is shrinking in more ways than we thought.

    I must have been quite the little rogue in a previous life. God seems to have me in his cross-hairs. I manage to scrape together significant money the second time in my life and the market just tanks. All I was hoping for was 5% to 7% - with a plus sign not negative.

    I have such a bad feeling about all of it.

  103. Slade,

    It would take $1.5 trillion USD to completely eliminate all US oil imports (at current levels) and replace it with solar. $1.5 trillion USD will buy you 1000 solar plants producing 1000 MW each and the infrastructure to service electric plugins. $1.5 trillion USD is less then 3 years worth of money spent on US oil imports. The US now spends $600 billion USD per year importing oil, and this doesn't include the military costs of securing this oil.

  104. ..less than 3 years worth of money spent on US oil imports..

  105. The market's going to force the issue, Mat. At $2.00 gas no one cared. Gas is $4.00; and they care.

    At $5.00 the pitchforks come out.

  106. Well, Rufus, it's just darn hard to keep track of who's disinforming whom.


    If that is right, then I am thinking the oil exec's should be hauled into court for endangering national security. Agree completely with Rat that this is a national security issue.

    Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson "It looks like the environmentalists went to sleep in 1950 and haven't woke up yet" on the subject of prying their cold dead hands from the regulatory code to allow drilling with modern cleaner safer technology.

    It looks like the ethanol impact on food prices is more reality than perception.

  107. Rufus,

    To me this seems like such a no brainer. What government wouldn't like $600 billion USD plus (oil is still cheap at these prices) coming back to its coffers every year on such an investment? I'll tell you what government. A government owned and controlled by big oil.

  108. I appreciate your sunny disposition, Mat.

    81% of Democrats are excited about voting compared to 51% of Republicans.

  109. :)

    Slade, I've long ago learned that God has a sick sense of humor.

  110. Kay Bailey Hutchinson is a Saudi/Oil Company Whore.

    google: Dutko Worldwide/Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

    Yeah, if you'd rather save $0.10/lb (maybe) on your hamburger meat than $0.50/gal - $1.00/gal on your gasoline then do away with ethanol.

    Oh, and $0.04 on your box of corn flakes. Don't be a sucker, Slade. They're trying to bugger you, big time.

  111. And such a looooooong memory.

    I guess my old pastor was right - fast track to h^ll.

  112. Oh, and if you think "I'm" disinforming you you can Kiss My Big, Bloody Hillbilly Ass.

  113. Rufus,

    My radar has always jangled on that issue - never completely passed the smell test in this modern world of agriculture technology. But the enviros - esp Europeans - don't like genetically modified foods.

    Fast track to h^ll.

  114. We all saw Deliverance.

    Don't nobody wanna kiss nuthin, friend.

  115. Easy Big Guy - I'm not that subtle.

  116. Funny how it's a claim to something, though.

    My dad was a hillbilly. Had fuck-all to do with anything he thought or did in life.

  117. Well, you can take the hill out of billy but you can't take billy out of the hills.

    It's good to walk close to the ground I think.

  118. It's good to walk close to the ground I think.

    Tue Jun 24, 07:09:00 PM EDT

    Whatever the hell that means.

  119. I have no idea. I thought you would know.

    Something about keeping your head out of the perception of clouds and keeping your feet on the hard cold ground of reality.

  120. "I have no idea. I thought you would know."


  121. Maybe Bob will know. I think it's an American Indian concept. I grew up with it.

  122. Well, look who wandered in...Miss Trish. Long time no see. Last I heard, the girls' club was calling.

  123. Do you not read your own blog?

  124. Well I wouldn't use skulking and Rufus in the same sentence but it was intended as a positive statement.

    I am very frustrated at the corruption of information. I watched Kudlow tonight. He and his guests put to bed this lie that speculators are driving unit oil costs. Score one for Rufus. I thought I *knew* that but then the speculative bubble rose again.

    And just about every academic I have read claims that transport costs make biofuels "energy negative".

    The impact on food prices.

    And of course "progress" in Iraq.

    I am angry. I used to vote and assumed that ship of state would be navigated in a reasonably responsible manner by the professionals. I do not lose control over a little corruption here and there. As I said before, it keeps the lawyers occupied and off the streets.

    There has been an abrogation of responsibility that is unprecedented in my view.

    We now have portable nuclear weapons in the hands of not so steady Mad Hatters who hate everybody but especially this country.

    The vibes are just too negative.

    When Whit writes we should have gone in fast, hard, and very mean, he speaks for me.

    And now we are on the verge of electing a choirboy.

    I could go on but that’s the general drift.

    Skulking toward Gomorrah we are.

  125. I read this rag almost to the exclusion of everything else. It's like an addiction. At 5:00 a.m. I'm catching up on the late night gang. Surveying the damage.

    Just before lights-out. Generally 10:00-10:30 I catch up on the after dinner crowd.

    If it weren't for the drunks here at the EB keeping me up to speed on world affairs, I would be fat, dumb and happy.

  126. fat, dumb and happy.

    I'm one out of three. Does that count?

  127. Fat, dumb and happy could be worse as along as you've got the third.

  128. I knew that K B Hutchinson must be a whore. Now I know who the clients are.

  129. Always vote against the incumbant

  130. Well, the family is reasonably healthy and financially secure but what a cost, what a cost.

    We all walk very close to the ground.

  131. Drop it all like a box of ants.

    No I don't think so.

    And why should we?

  132. OK, slade, your arguments against it don't help you.

  133. Slade, never pay ANY attention to Kudlow. He's a "lousy" economist with NO core. He'll have you confused beyond all ability to find your way home.

    If it'll make you feel any better, Bernanke is actually a pretty good one. He realizes that raising interest rates will have no appreciable affect on the value of the dollar. Cutting $500 Million/Day of oil Imports would.

  134. He's a "lousy" economist with NO core.

    - Rufus

    Whatever the hell that means

  135. I'm telling you the figures on gasoline use this summer are going to come in pretty low. There just isn't the same traffic on the streets. People are going to stay home and bar b que.