Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Obama Speech: Welcome to the role of world rent-a-cop

That’s essentially the role we’ve assumed according to President Obama.  We have a “duty” to respond to a potential humanitarian crisis like that which was developing in Libya.  Just not in Iran or Syria or, well, North Korea where the population is starving because of its government.

Let’s be clear about its application.  John Dickerson of Slate lays it out pretty well:

The statement that had sounded like a bold doctrine — that what guides a U.S. decision to intervene is not just threats to our safety, but threats to ‘our interests and values’ — came with an asterisk that led to some fine print at the bottom of the speech: Offer valid only if it’s a relatively easy military mission and we have a lot of allies and we only share a limited amount of the burden."

So the people of Iran, Syria and North Korea and other “potential humanitarian crisis” hot spots which may bring difficulties in other areas need not apply.

As for the claim that we’re stepping back and letting others run the show?  Pure artifice:

In transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show.

Lets look at a few facts about the matter:

The United States supplies 22 percent of NATO’s budget, almost as much as the next largest contributors – Britain and France – combined. A Canadian three-star general was selected to be in charge of all NATO operations in Libya. His boss, the commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, is an American admiral, and the admiral’s boss is the supreme allied commander Europe, a post always held by an American.

So, as usual from this administration, we get words that just don’t really mean what you think they mean when you get into the details of the claim.  I know, you’re surprised.  NATO is and has been run by the US since its inception and this operation will be no different regardless of who they put in a figurehead role.

Obama also claimed the mission was “narrowly focused on saving lives”.   Pure nonsense to anyone who understand what has been deployed and what is being attacked:

Despite insistences that the operation is only to protect civilians, the airstrikes now are undeniably helping the rebels to advance. U.S. officials acknowledge that the effect of air attacks on Gadhafi’s forces – and on the supply and communications links that support them – is useful if not crucial to the rebels. "Clearly they’re achieving a benefit from the actions that we’re taking," Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney, staff director for the Joint Chiefs, said Monday.

The Pentagon has been turning to air power of a kind more useful than high-flying bombers in engaging Libyan ground forces. So far these have included low-flying Air Force AC-130 and A-10 attack aircraft, and the Pentagon is considering adding armed drones and helicopters.

AC-130s and A-10s are not aircraft used in the maintenance of no-fly zones.   They’re killers.   They hunt and kill vehicles and people.  There’s some conjecture out there that their deployment requires boots on the ground to produce targets for them, but that’s not true.  Both can operate independently without JTAC support on targets of opportunity.

The point, however is the introduction of those type aircraft have nothing to do with a no-fly zone and certainly nothing to do with a “narrowly focused mission” of protecting civilians.  They’re there to kill the opposition – Gadhafi’s soldiers and overthrow the existing regime.

In essence, he’s saying “"If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter," and then supporting action to do just that hoping the Arab League won’t notice what is actually afoot.

There was a lot of hypocritical nonsense in the speech as well.  The biggest barf line for me was this:

"Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

Except for Iraq of course, where even with the well-know atrocities including images of slaughter, mass graves, rape rooms and reports of the regime feeding its citizens through wood chippers, he definitely wanted to turn a blind eye.   And he has turned a blind eye on the atrocities in Iran perpetrated by that regime and is presently turning a blind eye on those in Syria. 

Perhaps the president ought to go back and read his own book:

In his pre-presidential book "The Audacity of Hope," Obama said the U.S. will lack international legitimacy if it intervenes militarily "without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands."

He questioned: "Why invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur?"

Why indeed, Mr. President – why Libya and not Syria?  So we go back to John Dickerson’s addendum to the Obama Doctrine which in essences says “if its easy and I can score some political points, I might do it – otherwise you’re on your own”.  

So, perhaps understanding the hypocrisy of his position and how it must appear to the American people he said:

"It is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs," he said. "But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right."

Again see the Dickerson corollary and substitute “what’s easy” for “what’s right”.

Finally, completely missing from the speech is the end state and exit strategy.  We have no idea.  This could go on for literally years.  To this date it is estimated to have cost the US $600 million.  And, as noted, we may claim to be in the backseat now, but the facts of the matter – the command structure of NATO – point to a entirely different reality.

This adventure – this war – despite his claims otherwise, is not one started because of a threat to any vital interests of the US.   It is again a war that the president claims required our “unique capabilities” to prosecute.

That. Is. Not. A. Legitimate. Reason. To. Go. To. War.

The more we let our allies depend on our “unique capabilities” the less they’ll develop their own.  Why do it when they can “volunteer” the US into doing it?

That’s why:

Just 47 percent of Americans support the U.S. airstrikes, while 36 percent don’t and 17 percent don’t know, according to the Pew poll.

The Gallup Poll found similar results, the lowest level of initial support for a U.S. military action in at least three decades, and the first time in 10 interventions dating to the 1983 invasion of Grenada that a majority of Americans didn’t support the action at the onset.

American’s aren’t fooled by this sort of nonsense anymore.  They understand what is or isn’t in their own vital interests and they further recognize this action doesn’t rise to that level.  Some, who support it, are calling it “pragmatic”.  Others claim it is an eminently “centrist” approach to such problems.  But some are also saying that every word in last night’s speech could have come from George Bush.

Bottom line: this is not a role that the US needs to play and certainly can’t afford to play.  The world is full of inequities, violence and death.  And despite his high sounding rhetoric last night, President Obama had turned a blind eye to plenty of it.  The only time US troops should be deployed and committed to war, such as is now happening in Libya, should be when the vital interests of the US are at stake – a point the candidate Obama made many times prior to assuming the presidency.

Libya doesn’t meet that standard and Obama’s speech last night didn’t make any convincing arguments that it did.  He once said, “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”  Interestingly his first war as Commander in Chief is a “dumb war.”

~McQ

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Think Progress attempts to rewrite political history

Not that such an attempt should come as a huge surprise to anyone, but TP is attempting a common thing by the left – to paint the suppression of voters as a strictly Republican thing by misusing the word “conservative” and mischaracterizing history.

For instance:

JIM CROW SOUTH: In the Jim Crow South, historian Leon Litwack writes, “respectable” Southern whites justified their support for measures to disenfranchise African-Americans “as a way to reform and purify the electoral process, to root out fraud and bribery.” In North Carolina for example, conservatives insisted that literacy tests and poll taxes — which disenfranchised tens of thousands of African-Americans — were necessary to prevent “voter fraud.”

Left out is the identification of the “respectable” Southern whites, here provided context by Wikipedia:

Jim Crow laws were a product of the solidly Democratic South. Conservative white Southern Democrats, exploiting racial fear and attacking the corruption (real or perceived) of Reconstruction Republican governments, took over state governments in the South in the 1870s and dominated them for nearly 100 years, chiefly as a result of disenfranchisement of most blacks through statute and constitutions. In 1956, southern resistance to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education resulted in a resolution called the Southern Manifesto. It was read into the Congressional Record and supported by 96 southern congressmen and senators, all but two of them southern Democrats.

The above is inarguable history. Facts. That’s what happened. What the left has tried and failed to do for years is claim that “conservative Democrat” is the same as “Republican”.  It is the only way they can whitewash (no pun intended) this period of history.  But look at the cite from Wikipedia – what was it that these “conservative white Southern Democrats” displaced?  Reconstruction Republican governments.   Note the number of Southern Democrats who opposed any and all of the legislation of the Civil Rights era.  All but a handful remained Democrats till they day they died.  What the rewriters of history on the left want to do and try to convince you they were all really secret Republicans.

But who was it that opposed the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School and caused Republican President Eisenhower to send in federal troops to see it was done?  A life long Democrat.   Who was the Senator that was against all manner of integration and equality for blacks and was also a mentor to former President Bill Clinton?  A life long Democrat.  Who was it who participated in the Senate filibuster of civil rights legislation and was a former member of the KKK?  A life long Democrat.

Jim Crow was a result of Democratic politics not Republican politics.  Republicans were not welcome in the South during that era. The use of the word “conservative” as a means of deception is apparent and transparent.  The fact that the South was solidly Democratic during the civil rights era with only 2 Republicans tells the real story.  How the Democrats ever managed the slight of hand that has them become the heroes of the civil rights era is a lesson in and of itself of the power of propaganda.

In the case of Think Progress, the entire point of the post is to use misleading and anecdotal evidence in an attempt to claim that “conservatives”, i.e. Republicans, have engaged in the suppression of minority voters for years, when, in fact, it has been the Democrats.   And it is to confuse attempts at guarding the integrity of the voting system (such as requiring a photo ID to vote) with such repression.

It’s a hack job and a pretty shoddy one too boot.  But then, we’re talking Think Progress here … no surprises encountered.

~McQ

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Mission creep or lack of a mission?

You can this coming from a mile off:

As rebel forces backed by allied warplanes pushed toward one of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s most crucial bastions of support, the American military warned on Monday that the insurgents’ rapid advances could quickly be reversed without continued coalition air support.

“The regime still vastly overmatches opposition forces militarily,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, the ranking American in the coalition operation, warned in an email message on Monday. “The regime possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. Coalition air power is the major reason that has not happened.”

Uh, okay, I accept the fact that without the coalition attacking Gadhafi ground units, the “rebels” wouldn’t be able to “advance” or enjoy any gains whatsoever.

But wasn’t the ostensible reason for establishing the no-fly zone and the reason for the UN mission to protect civilians from being killed by their government?  Hasn’t that been accomplished?

So why do we care if “rebel advances” might be “quickly…reversed”?

Unless, of course, the real purpose of the mission, under the flag of “protecting civilians” is to run Gadhafi out of power?  And, one then assumes, install a different government (the “rebels” one supposes, of whom we know very little except they come from an area that was one of the major provider of jihadists to Iraq and Afghanistan and one of their leaders admits to having served there in that capacity).

Then and only then does a concern for the state of the “rebel” advance make any sense or have any meaning at all.

General Ham’s warning, however, offered a somber counterpoint and underscored the essential role of Western airstrikes, now focused mainly on Colonel Qaddafi’s ground troops, in reversing the rebels’ fortunes. It also framed anew the question of how the poorly equipped and disorganized rebel forces might fare against Colonel Qaddafi’s garrison in Surt, where air cover may be less useful.

Wait, wait … again, if the mission is the protection of civilians who cares how the “poorly equipped and disorganized rebel forces” might fare anywhere?

That only matters if there’s a mission in addition to the stated one, i.e. protecting civilians.

Oh, and what happens if the “rebels”, in their push into territory mostly deemed to be that of Gadhafi supporters, begin killing civilians?  Do we hit the “rebels” then?  Or are civilians only a concern when Gadhafi’s military kills them?

Some will argue that the UN resolution authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya.  I assume the follow on argument is that the best way to “protect civilians” is to take sides and topple Gadhafi?

That’s certainly not how this war was described in the beginning – you know a “limited time, limited scope military action”?  We were assured that it wouldn’t take long and it would only seek to keep the Libyan government from killing civilians.

Now we seem to be hinting around about the need for our airpower to support the cause of a rebellion that has the possibility – because they are so poorly equipped, untrained and disorganized – of lasting for months, if not years.

As you can tell, there are far more questions than apparent answers.  I’m looking forward to Obama’s speech tonight.  It should be an interesting affair.  He’s got to communicate why he went to war, why UN sanctioning was sufficient for committing us to war, why he didn’t consult or seek Congressional approval, what the mission in Libya is and what the end state of that mission should be as well as an exit strategy.

Anyone want to bet how many of those questions will still remain unanswered after the speech?

~McQ

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Why Libya’s precedent is dangerous

I talked about it yesterday, but to reiterate, this is an action blessed by the UN and Arab League – and no one else.  But there are those among our leadership who see it as a precedent to pretty much do whatever we want under the principle espoused by the UN – “Right to Protect” or R2P.  This new “principle”, according to Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, gives the UN the “right” to go after governments that are killing their own citizens.    And not just with aircraft (something Sec. of State Clinton used to differentiate what was happening in Libya and Syria as an excuse not to move on Syria).

To illustrate my point, one only has to go to the Sunday shows for an example:

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said the events transpiring in Libya should send a strong message to the Syrian dictator.

“If he turns his weapons on his own people, he runs the risk,” Mr. Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“There is a precedent now. … We’re not going to allow Assad to slaughter his own people.”

Of course my first question is “who is ‘we’, Mr. Lieberman?”

In the case of Libya, certainly not the American people.  They were never consulted (though their representatives).  If ever there was a unilateral decision to go to war, this provides the example.

Secondly, this is precisely what the Neo-cons were accused of championing – and it now seems it has evolved as a policy of the Obama administration.  The irony is incredible.  Especially after we saw the same administration pretend like the slaughter of protesters in Iran by the government was something to essentially ignore.

And I can’t help but observe that this smacks of more than anything is international bullying.   Pick on a weak country that displeases others for whatever reason, come up with a high sounding reason to intervene and go to war.  Who you are backing and what they are or stand for isn’t as much of a priority as establishing the precedent of the “right” to act internationally without worrying about those pesky legal impediments such as Constitutions and such.   But if the country is strong militarily or has supporters in the region (Syria and the Arab League), make excuses for not applying the same standard to them. That’s precisely what we’re seeing with Syria.

One of the laugh out loud reasons for not applying the same standard to Syria was Clinton’s contention that the Syrian dictator Assad is a “reformer”.

That had the Syrian protesters shaking their head in wonder.

Ammar Abdulhamid, who has emerged as an unofficial spokesman in the West for the activists organizing the Syrian protests, said, however, that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was wrong to refer to Syrian President Bashar Assad as a reformer on CBS News on Sunday.

“It was ridiculous to call Bashar Assad a reformer. She should not have done that,” he said.

I’m reminded of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recent speech at West Point where he said that any president who committed us to another war in the Middle East should have his head examined.  

Frankly, I agree.  The unfortunate thing is this “precedent” as Joe Lieberman correctly identifies it, sets us up to commit to an unlimited number of wars in the Middle East and elsewhere – just so we manage to get a sanction of some sort of NGO or another in the process.   We’re officially in the “others volunteering our military” business, the “world policeman’s league” with this action  – and as I understood it that was something Democrats and left objected too strenuously.

What happened to that?

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 27 Mar 11

In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss the Libyan situation.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Thoughts on Libya

I took a day off from blogging yesterday, just to hang out with my 4 grandsons.  It was well worth it.  But I wasn’t with them the entire time and during that other time it gave me a bet of an opportunity to reflect on the decision to go to war with Libya.  And, yes, I said war – no “kinetic military action” or “limited time, limited scope military action” nonsense from me.  When you fire missiles into a sovereign country, regardless of how you feel about what that country’s government is doing, you commit an act of war.

I obviously don’t come from the “war never settles anything” crowd.  I’ve made a study of war, spent 28 years serving in the military and understand the reality of and reasons for wars.  And, yes, I believe – and history supports my belief – that sometimes war does settle some things, although not necessarily the way we’d prefer they be settled.

But to focus on Libya in particular, what I see here is probably one of the most dangerous precedents yet for committing our military and country too an action.  It is dangerous for any number of reasons.  But I’ll lay out the first by quoting Secretary of Defense Gates today:

Asked on NBC whether the mission in Libya was vital to U.S. interests, Gates said: “No, I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there and it’s a part of the region, which is a vital interest for the United States.”

Whatever our “clear” interests there are, and Gates didn’t elaborate, they’re not “vital interests” for this nation.  Or said another way, there is nothing going on in Libya that would threaten anything we’d consider to vital to our national interests, survival, etc.  Nothing.  So what follows is a bit of Gate’s word salad that attempts to rationalize the intervention there.

Gates on ABC:

TAPPER: " Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?"

GATES: "No, no. It was not — it was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest: … the engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake … [Y]ou had a potentially significantly destabilizing event taking place in Libya that put at risk potentially the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt."

“Not a vital national interest”, “potentially significant”?  Posed no “actual or imminent threat to the United States”.

The first and only reason for going to war should be a threat to our vital national interests.  Otherwise we should have no interest in going to war.

One of the things that particularly peeved the left about the Iraq invasion was their claim that it did not serve our vital national interests.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard them say “Iraq was never a threat to us”.  And that was more true than not when we discovered the lack of WMDs eventually.  Prior to that, and with the rise of terrorism, not to mention his overt and covert support of terrorism, most who supported the invasion felt that those elements (WMD, rise of terrorism, support of terrorism) and his grudge against the US did indeed make him a threat to our nation.

Obviously, he turned out to be more blow than go, but it doesn’t change the fact that there were indeed, at least initially, rational national security  reasons that could be argued for taking him out.

There are none for Libya.  None.

And don’t forget we had evidence that Saddam’s government was systematically killing people on a pretty large scale at the time as well.  Reports of mass arrests, mass graves, rape rooms and feeding people through wood chippers were pretty commons.  But that, in and of itself, was not enough of a reason, as far as the left was concerned, to intervene (remember, at the time we were enforcing a no-fly zone while these things were going on).

Given the pretext for going into Libya (for exactly that reason – i.e. the government is killing civilians), the invasion of Iraq stood on much firmer national security grounding.

And that’s really my point here – any action/war to which our military is committed should first meet the requirement of “compelling national interest” as in an immediate threat to the US either militarily or in other ways which will severely effect the country and its citizens.

Libya does not rise to that level.

Which brings me to my second point.   The role of the UN in this and the lack of a Congressional role.  Again, say what you like about Iraq, but anyone who calls it an “illegal war” does so out of pure spite because it simply isn’t true.  The war was literally authorized by Congress when it told the Commander in Chief he had the power and authorization to use military force there.  Now that may not satisfy some who demand that a declaration of war be issued, but for the rest of us who can reason, we understand that’s precisely what the AUMF was.

In the case of Libya, the authorization this administration used was that of an external body unanswerable to the Congress of the US or its people.  I don’t recall the Constitution allowing that.   While I understand the war powers act gives a president some discretion in committing the US military without immediate Congressional approval, I’m not sure this measures up (but that is an argument for another day) to even that.  What I do know, though, is on the 61st day of this war, if Congress doesn’t authorize its continuance and the president refuses to end our involvement, it will become an illegal war.

More importantly though, I object strenuously to the use of the UN as a reason to commit our men and women to conflict.  That is a decision for Congress and the President to work out first.  If the UN goes along, or even if it doesn’t, is really irrelevant if Congress and the President decide – for compelling national interest – to commit us to a war.  That is our process and it was not used this time by any stretch of the imagination.  Telling Congress what is happening when it is happening isn’t at all the definition of “in consultation with Congress”.

Finally there’s the rationalization that’s going on about Libya and our reason for participating in attacking it.  And it is simply amazing.  It speaks to a completely arbitrary standard for such intervention.

Hillary Clinton today:

“No,” Clinton said, when asked on the CBS “Face the Nation” program if the U.S. would intervene in Syria’s unrest. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s security forces clashed with protesters in several cities yesterday after his promises of freedoms and pay increases failed to prevent dissent from spreading across the country.

Clinton said the elements that led to intervention in Libya — international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution — are “not going to happen” with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.”

“What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities,” Clinton said, referring to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s attacks on the Libyan people, “than police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”

Is there a difference to the dead citizens in Syria, Ms. Clinton?  Does it mean that as long as Assad – the “reformer” (good grief) – keeps his air power grounded, indiscriminate killing of civilians will be tolerated? Because that certainly is what that sound bite suggests.  Oh, and a few lawmakers calling a murderous tyrant a “reformer” apparently carries a lot of weight.

So, what have we as a result?

We have the US military fighting at the behest of the UN.  We have no vital national interest in the war.  It appears to be the result of the application of an arbitrary standard.  It was committed too without consulting Congress and on the 61st day without Congressional approval, it becomes an illegal war.

Does that all sound like something we should support and encourage?

~McQ

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Law enforcement and show business–the two should never mix

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Steven Segal have apparently teamed up to give Segal’s reality show about law enforcement some umph.  It has led to a pretty bizarre and dangerous bust.  But not “dangerous” in the way you might think.

Apparently Arpaio called out just about everything with a badge to bust a, wait for it, suspected cockfighting entrepreneur.

No, really:

Of course Crooks and Liars, where the vid comes from had to sensationalize even further an already outrageous story by saying a “tank” was used.

It wasn’t a tank.  It was an armored car (and an ancient one at that).

armoredcar

But to take down a suspected cock fighter, it took Arpaio, tens of deputies, a SWAT team, bomb robot and armored car?  Oh, and a film crew — don’t forget the film crew.

This is the point Radley Balko makes constantly about the militarization of the police in this country.  If they have it, they want to use it.  And when you use things like armored cars and SWAT teams, bad things can happen.

One of the things police don’t seem to do very well is due diligence intelligence work.  Had they spent any time whatsoever watching the place they felt compelled to use the armored car and SWAT team on, they’d have discovered that the owner was there alone, unarmed and … asleep.

Guys like Arpaio scare the living crap out me.  Good police work doesn’t require “overwhelming force” the vast majority of the time.  And this was obviously one of them.  It makes sense in military doctrine when you attack an enemy.  Police, on the other hand, enforce the law.  They should be trained and required to use only the force necessary to do that.  The opportunity for something to go horribly wrong are increased every time an operation like this is mounted.

It obviously wasn’t necessary to destroy property like Arpaio did here to arrest this man.  But then, it wouldn’t be much of a show for Segal if all that happened was a couple of deputies knocking on the door and arresting a sleepy man for suspected cock fighting would it?

The tail, in this case, is wagging a very dangerous dog.

~McQ

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The US: Massive energy resources and an incoherent energy policy

As Peter Glover says, writing in the Energy Tribune, this ought to be the lead story in every American paper and on every American news show.  But it’s overshadowed by Japan, Libya and other developments in the world.

America’s combined energy resources are, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service (CSR), the largest on earth. They eclipse Saudi Arabia (3rd), China (4th) and Canada (6th) combined – and that’s without including America’s shale oil deposits and, in the future, the potentially astronomic impact of methane hydrates.

The US and Russia are the two most resource rich countries in the world.  Here’s the chart that shows how huge our advantage is:

 

worldfossilfuel

 

Note it says “Oil Equivalent” on the left side.  That’s because it includes coal.  Yeah, that icky, nasty stuff that we’re trying to ban or make it supremely expensive to use.

The CRS estimates US recoverable coal reserves at around 262 billion tons (not including further massive, difficult to access, Alaskan reserves). Given the US consumes around 1.2 billion tons a year, that’s a couple of centuries of coal use, at least.

In fact, the US has 28% of the world’s coal.

Natural gas?

In 2009 the CRS upped its 2006 estimate of America’s enormous natural gas deposits by 25 percent to around 2,047 trillion cubic feet, a conservative figure given the expanding shale gas revolution. At current rates of use that’s enough for around 100 years. Then there is still the, as yet largely publicly untold, story of methane hydrates to consider, a resource which the CRS reports alludes to as “immense…possibly exceeding the combined energy content of all other known fossil fuels.” According to the Inhofe’s EPW, “For perspective, if just 3 percent of this resource can be commercialized … at current rates of consumption, that level of supply would be enough to provide America’s natural gas for more than 400 years.”

So, the possibility of 400 years worth of NG, a couple hundred years worth of coal – but what about oil?

 

americasoil

 

Well shucks, seems we have the potential to be quite free of foreign oil, doesn’t it?

While the US is often depicted as having only a tiny minority of the world’s oil reserves at around 28 billion barrels (based on the somewhat misleading figure of ‘proven reserves’) according to the CRS in reality it has around 163 billion barrels. As Inhofe’s EPW press release comments, “That’s enough oil to maintain America’s current rates of production and replace imports from the Persian Gulf for more than 50 years”

Of course that all assumes we do something about taking advantage of the resources we have and actually putting ourselves in a position where we’re not at the mercy of foreign sources of the same sorts of product.

Obviously and hopefully, we’ll come up with affordable and available renewable energy products while we’re doing that. 

However, we have no coherent energy plan from this administration.  Instead it seems to have gone to war with the oil industry and is doing everything it can to slow its ability to find and exploit these resources.  19,000 jobs and 1.1 billion in earnings have been lost since the imposition of the administration’s moratorium.  Both former Presidents Bush and Clinton have spoken out against the delays.   And the administration remains in contempt of a court order which ordered them to speed up the permitting process.  As a result the EIA has estimated a loss of 74,000 barrels a day of production due to the moratorium this year.

Meanwhile our President touts foreign oil, our investment in it and claims we’ll be its “best customer”.

As Glover says:

Meanwhile US energy policy persists in pursuing the myth that renewables are the economically viable future, with fossil fuels already, as the president said in January, “yesterday’s energy”. With 85 percent of global energy set to come from fossil fuels till at least 2035 no matter what wishful thinkers may prefer, current US energy policy – much like European – is pure political pantomime.

Couldn’t agree more.  We sit on a veritable treasure trove of natural resources which could actually make us energy independent and we have an administration which is doing everything in its power to not just keep us dependent on foreign oil, but to increase our dependence.

~McQ

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Old taxes never go away, they just reinvent themselves in a more intrusive way

With the debt and deficit problems our government has managed to accumulate, they’re always looking for new and more inventive ways to get in your wallet.  And it seems, technology may be the most productive way to do so.

You see, we’ve been paying taxes at the gas pump that pay for “transportation improvement projects”.  But there is a problem.  Government mandates that have raised gas mileage standards, hybrids and the possibility of masses of electric cars has suddenly given the tax takers the willies.  That may mean much less revenue originating at the gas pump.

What’s a looter to do?  Well turn to a different way of collecting that tax – tax total vehicle miles traveled (VMT).  Up to now that’s been problematic says the CBO.  But fear not, there’s a solution:

"In the past, the efficiency costs of implementing a system of VMT charges — particularly the costs of users’ time for slowing and queuing at tollbooths — would clearly have outweighed the potential benefits from more efficient use of highway capacity," CBO wrote. "Now, electronic metering and billing are making per-mile charges a practical option."

And what government would do is mandate metering equipment be installed on all new cars and trucks:

"Having the devices installed as original equipment under a mandate to vehicle manufacturers would be relatively inexpensive but could lead to a long transition; requiring vehicles to be retrofitted with the devices could be faster but much more costly, and the equipment could be more susceptible to tampering than factory-installed equipment might be," CBO said.

So how would it be collected?

The report added that VMT taxes could be tracked and even collected at filling stations. "If VMT taxes were collected at the pump, each time fuel was purchased, information would be sent from a device in the vehicle to a device at the filling station," it said.

CBO also suggested different VMT tax rates might be assessed to different vehicles because heavier vehicles do more road damage, and rates might change depending on whether miles are driven at peak use times or during less congested hours.

Of course, the obvious solution is to just collect at the pump for others at an ‘average’ rate.

What about electric cars?

Yeah, haven’t figured that one out yet, have they?

CBO did acknowledge that privacy concerns may be a hurdle to implementing a VMT tax because electronic tracking of miles driven might provide too much personal information to the government. However, CBO noted that some have proposed restricting the information that would be transmitted to the government.

Well I feel better already. 

Technology is a wonderful thing.  It has given us a way of life and benefits that previous generations most likely couldn’t even imagine.  But there’s a downside to it too.  Especially when government gets its hands on it and uses it as a tool to intrude into your privacy.  Another mandate designed to help government better keep track of  your travels and ensure you pay your “fair share”?  Yeah, no echoes of Big Brother in that at all, huh?

~McQ

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Meanwhile in Egypt …

I hate to throw out the old “I told you so”, but it appears Egypt is trying to go according to my prediction.  That is, the Muslim Brotherhood – the best organized of the opposition forces – would take the lead in forming the “new” Egypt and the military – which has held power for 60 years – would find a way to retain its power.  The New York Times reports that’s exactly what seems to be happening:

In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.

Emphasis mine.  As I’ve mentioned previously, “secular” may not mean what you think it means in an Islamic country.  And I’ve all but worn out the David Warren quote, but again which group has the “simplest, most plausible, most easily communicated “vision?”  That means:

It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.

Indeed, my guess is that the moment is lost for them for good.  Why?  Because it isn’t in the best interest of either the MB or the military to let that particular “political force” reemerge.  So:

As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it.

“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “It makes sense if you are the military — you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street.”

And there you have it.  Result?

“We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone.”

So much for the “Twitter” revolution.

~McQ

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