Daily Archive: 11/28/2014

Nov 28 2014

The Oil Price War

In case you hadn’t noticed, oil prices are way, way down and after yesterday’s OPEC meeting they’re unlikely to rise any time soon.

Why is this and what does it mean?

Like most things economic it’s largely demand driven.  Japan is in recession (again), Europe teetering on the edge of deflation, China no longer on an expansionist binge, and as for US?  Well, the U.S. has the same crappy .01% economy we’ve had for the last 7 years.

At the same time recoverable reserves have expanded through fracking and other techniques to the point where the U.S. is once again the #1 Oil exporter in the world.

Can I get a chorus of Proud to Be or at least a U.S.A., U.S.A. chant for that?

Pfft.  It won’t last.  Either demand will rise or we’ll spiral into an economic black hole.  And should demand and consumption rise we’ll be killing off 50% of the population through climate change and demand will go down anyway.  This is why Tar Sand development is as dead as the Dodo, they had a window to make obscene amounts of money that is now permanently closed.

But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task, if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us, that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again.

John Maynard Keynes- A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923)

So, let’s take a look at the the short term, Qui Bono?

It’s clearly the House of Saud who are driving these developments and their extraction costs are around $5 – $15 a barrel.  This is why they are price makers, they can produce enough to fill most of the demand and as long as they are getting more in return they are making a ton of money they don’t have to share too widely.

Other traditional producers, like Venezuela and especially Iran, have larger and more restive populations and thus benefit from a price point that maximizes their income, something the Saudis aren’t concerned about.  It’s not far fetched to speculate that the current oil glut has been orchestrated specifically to disadvantage Shia Muslims (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) in what can easily be argued is open Jihad by militant Wahabi Sunnis that the ignorant West (that would be the Empire of the United States and our coalition of the coerced and cowardly) is only too happy to support in return for a little liquid black gold to keep our inebriated Military Industrial Complex well lubricated.

Not that they like us, they hate us almost as much as the Shia… almost.  And low oil prices also mitigate against costly extraction technologies (North Sea and Arctic Drilling, Deep Sea Drilling, Fracking, Tar Sands) by making them unprofitable.  Likewise the longer term threat of cheap renewable power via Solar, Wind, Tidal, and Hydro-electric.

So we’re not only whores, we’re cheap whores, practically sluts giving it away for nothing (regular readers will know that I have no objection to a healthy and active sexual life, sex work, or promiscuity).

The benefit of fossil fuel is that its reliability and low volume to energy ratio make it uniquely suited to military applications.  Is it any wonder then that access to it is the number one priority of Empire?

It also illustrates the power of monopoly pricing, not just in extracting the maximum revenue, but in destroying the economic viability of competitive rivals

Nov 28 2014

“Democratic” Science Denialist

I’m among those who have fond memories of Mario and thought at the time he should be President, or at least a Supreme Court Justice.  His son has led me to question my judgement.

Andrew Cuomo has, almost single handedly, kept the New York State Republican Party alive because he doesn’t believe in liberal ideas and finds it easier to have a convenient excuse to disguise his naked conservatism.  He has, without fail, sabotaged the campaigns of State legislators of his own nominal party in order to promote the “deal makers” and “compromisers” to stifle any truly populist initiatives, especially any that might offend the delicate sensibilities of the Bankster “Master of the Universe” Thieves and Con Men.

Content to coast on the store of goodwill built up by his father, he basks in the the rumors that he’s on the short list of Presidendial prospectives.  If he ever got close to the nomination it would be a shame and a travesty.

First of all he’s an incompetent finger pointing weasel-

Gov. Andrew Cuomo shamefully blames lack of preparation for Buffalo snow on the National Weather Service

Joanna Rothkopf, Salon

Monday, Nov 24, 2014 09:20 AM EST

On Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo felt he had to comment on the massive lake effect snowstorm that buried Western New York and Buffalo under up to 7 feet of snow last week. People were surely wondering: Why had there been so many deaths? Why was the region seemingly unprepared to deal with such extreme conditions?

Cuomo, in an attempt to appease the state’s residents, blamed it on the National Weather Service. “No one had an idea that it was gonna be that much snow that fast,” he said in a press conference on Saturday. “Snow coming down at the rate of about five inches an hour. No one had an idea. The weather service was off. By the way, I said this in my State of the State last year, we’re putting in our own weather detection system.”

In fact, the National Weather Service had warned of the possibility of an extreme storm.

One of the most dangerous impulses of politicians is their willingness to dive head-first into scientific issues, professing authority in areas where they quite simply have none. For the most part, politicians and pundits look to science only when it is a suitable scapegoat on which to place blame for failed policy, rather than as the most accurate barometer we have of what is to come.

Don Paul, chief meteorologist at the CBS affiliate in Buffalo-

Governor Cuomo’s attempt to scapegoat the National Weather Service for an inaccurate forecast in advance is not only completely in error–the NWS did an outstanding job–but is a disservice to the public and to the hard-working staff of this federal agency. No forecast of such an historical disaster is going to be absolutely perfect, but no one who lives here can say this event was not well forecast in advance, or that the warning headlines of its impact to come were not well explained in advance…his statement is disinformation, purposeful or ill-informed.

Secondly, he revels in his science denialism as thoroughly as any card carrying tea-bagger-

New York Governor Cuomo: ‘I Don’t Want To Get Into A Political Debate’ About Climate Change

by Emily Atkin, Think Progress

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 9:34 am

According to a Capital New York report, the politically savvy governor has historically refused to talk about the scientific link between extreme weather events and climate change, citing a desire to avoid contentious debate. He most recently did this on Sunday, when asked about the climate connection to Buffalo’s massive lake-effect snowstorm, and the worry of flooding because of rising temperatures.

“I don’t want to get into a political debate at this time about climate change causes, et cetera,” Cuomo reportedly said. “Forget the causes. Is it global warming? Is it reliance on fossil fuels? Forget the causes. What is inarguable is the result.”

The issue with these comments – and arguably all modern political rhetoric about climate change – is that the debate over extreme weather and global warming is not inherently political. It is scientific. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international body that provides comprehensive updates on climate science, says that man-made warming increases the severity of heat waves, wildfires, and heavy precipitation events. Some scientists have even tied Buffalo’s massive snowstorm to climate change, citing the increased moisture held in the atmosphere as a result of warming temperatures.

Instead of acknowledging this, however, Cuomo’s position is that it doesn’t matter whether climate change is causing extreme events. And it’s not the first time he’s made the claim. In a 2012 op-ed for the Daily News, where he pledged increase storm preparation measures in the face of Superstorm Sandy.

“Debating why does not lead to solutions – it leads to gridlock,” Cuomo said at the time. “The denial and deliberation from extremists on both sides about the causes of climate change are distracting us from addressing its inarguable effects.”

The issue with that stance, however, is that it focuses solely on adaptation to extreme weather events, and does not acknowledge the need to reduce carbon emissions to reduce the likelihood of those extreme events happening in the first place. That’s bad, considering the latest IPCC report says the effects of climate change – including extreme weather – could be irreversible if decisive actions aren’t taken to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. And those impacts will only get worse as future carbon emissions rise.

Evil or an Idiot?

I must say I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that when a politician or a media personality acts in ways that are contrary to the expressed wishes of their constituents or audience, they’re not idiots.

Nov 28 2014

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Pollution and Politics

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed regulations to curb emissions of ozone, which causes smog, not to mention asthma, heart disease and premature death. And you know what happened: Republicans went on the attack, claiming that the new rules would impose enormous costs.

There’s no reason to take these complaints seriously, at least in terms of substance. Polluters and their political friends have a track record of crying wolf. Again and again, they have insisted that American business – which they usually portray as endlessly innovative, able to overcome any obstacle – would curl into a quivering ball if asked to limit emissions. Again and again, the actual costs have been far lower than they predicted. In fact, almost always below the E.P.A.’s predictions.

So it’s the same old story. But why, exactly, does it always play this way? Of course, polluters will defend their right to pollute, but why can they count on Republican support? When and why did the Republican Party become the party of pollution?

New York Times Editorial Board: The New G.O.P. Showdown Threat

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama announced with great gravity the other day that Republicans had decided not to impeach President Obama over his plan to allow millions of immigrants to remain in this country without fear of deportation through his executive authority. But that concession is not the end of the matter. He is planning much more serious mischief: using Congress’s power of the purse to pressure the White House into backing off.

Condemning the immigration action as “unlawful,” Mr. Sessions says he and other Republicans may filibuster any attempt to pay for government operations through the full fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1. Instead, he wants to pay for government through a series of short-term bills, possibly month to month, with each one trying to overturn Mr. Obama’s actions.

That raises the possibility of a budget shutdown fight every month for nearly a year. And Mr. Sessions’ voice will count in that fight – he is in line to be the new chairman of the Budget Committee. [..]

Once Republicans take over both houses of Congress next year, they have every right to pass an immigration bill of their choosing, which Mr. Obama would have a right to veto. But threatening to shut down the government or any part of it to achieve their aims is outrageous.

Nathan Woodliff-Stanley : Colorado Communities Are Making It a Crime to Be Homeless

Now is the time of year when poverty and homelessness are most prominent on the minds of many Americans. As families gather to eat together and give thanks for their lives, many of us also take time to think about the struggles of people who are less fortunate.

Less often do we think or even know about the extreme measures that are used by local lawmakers and police to criminalize the existence of people who are homeless and to target, harass, and drive people living in extreme poverty out of their communities. [..]

Aggressive policing, enforcement, and jailing for these offenses also cost money. That money would be better spent addressing the causes of homelessness, whether through adequately paying work, affordable housing, unemployment benefits, healthcare coverage, or better resources for substance abuse and mental health care, including for veterans with PTSD. At the very least, public spaces should remain public, civil liberties should be upheld even for those without a home, and people who are homeless should have access to basic services instead of being criminalized by restrictive ordinances designed to make them go somewhere else — anywhere else — wherever that might be.

Thor Benson: The Disenfranchisement of American Felons: Caught Once and Left Behind for Good

In many states in America, convicted felons who have done their time do not return to society with a clean slate, as they are barred from participating in the voting process. That’s true even in cases of nonviolent crime or those in which the accused were sentenced only to probation.

Iowa, Kentucky and Florida are three states in which convicted felons lose their voting rights, although Iowa does offer a long and complicated application process they can endure in an attempt to reclaim those rights. Nine other states (pdf) have similarly strict laws that either require a five-year waiting period before voting rights are restored after a completed sentence or deny future participation outright according to a list of specific felonies. An additional 19 states prevent people from voting during their prison term, parole or probation. According to The Sentencing Project, 5.85 million otherwise eligible voters have been disenfranchised by such laws. The history of voter disenfranchisement in America is long, complicated and deeply impacted by racism.

John Nichols: An Inconvenient Political Truth: That St. Louis Prosecutor Is a Democrat

What has not been much discussed is the fact that McCulloch is a Democrat-a member of the same party as President Obama, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Congressional Black Caucus chair Marcia Fudge, the Ohioan who on Monday evening referred to the failure to bring charges against Wilson as “a slap in the face to Americans nationwide who continue to hope and believe that justice will prevail.” [..]

As the elected prosecutor in suburban St. Louis County since 1991, McCulloch is a powerful player in Missouri Democratic politics. He has delivered sought-after endorsements to prominent figures such as Claire McCaskill, who had the prosecutor’s support when she challenged a sitting Democratic governor in 2004 and who is now Missouri’s senior senator. In August of this year, McCulloch helped a white challenger mount a successful Democratic primary challenge to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, the first African-American to hold the position. On the same day, McCulloch, who is white, easily saw off a Democratic primary challenge from Leslie Broadnax, an African-American attorney and municipal judge. [..]

There was no real chance to defeat McCulloch at the polls in the fall, as he ran without Republican opposition. But thousands of St. Louis County voters refused to vote for the incumbent. [..]

It is important to take primary elections seriously. And it is important to recognize the value of independent and third-party challenges to the two-party status quo.

There is a good argument to be made for electing prosecutors on a nonpartisan bais. But there is an even better argument to be made that elections for prosecutor positions- be they partisan or nonpartisan, be their primaries or general elections-must be recognized as some of the most vital contests on our ballots.

Media and political elites tend to focus on top-of-the-ballot races for president and governor and senator. But, if the experience of Ferguson and St. Louis County teach us anything, it is that at the bottom of the ballot, in races for local law-enforcement posts, the most fundamental choices are made.

George Zornick: Why Chuck Hagel’s Departure Really Matters

The New York Times reported that the United States will expand its mission in Afghanistan in 2015, with US troops participating in direct combat with the Taliban while American airpower backs Afghan forces from above. The shift, leaked anonymously to reporters ahead of a holiday week, is a big “oh, nevermind” to Obama’s very public announcement six months ago in the Rose Garden that US troops in Afghanistan would be shifting into a training and advisory role next year.

The president didn’t even make a glancing reference to the Afghanistan reversal in his remarks announcing Hagel’s departure. The administration would clearly prefer a limited public debate, and based on the media coverage so far, it is getting its wish.

But it is against this new hawkish posture that Hagel’s departure should be understood and discussed. It is possible that it was the subtext to his resignation: Hagel came aboard to help manage a withdrawal from Afghanistan and shrink the Pentagon budget, and an anonymous US official told the Times Monday that “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus.”

Nov 28 2014

The Breakfast Club (We’re More Than Alive)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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I hope everyone had a happy, healthy and peaceful Thanksgiving

As God Is My Witness. I Thought Turkeys Could Fly”

This Day in History

Ferdinand Magellan reaches the Pacific Ocean; British prime minister Margaret Thatcher resigns; Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is beaten to death; The Grand Ole Opry makes its radio debut; Comedian Jon Stewart born.

Breakfast Tunes

Nov 28 2014

On This Day In History November 28

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 28 is the 332nd day of the year (333rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 33 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1970, George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” is released.