Friday, August 29, 2008

Katrina Review

With Hurricane Gustav bearing down on New Orleans, it's time to review the the government's preparation for Hurricane Katrina

Katrina Debacle Entirely Homeland Security’s Fault

The debacle of the Hurricane Katrina was entirely the fault of the Department of Homeland Security. I’m not referring to the flooding of New Orleans, but to the lack of coordination and planning prior to, during, and following the disaster.

DHS was charged with helping states and cities plan for disasters and developing coordination between federal, state, and local agencies. It failed. No coordination existed in 2005 and no coordination is in place now.

Although the State and the City failed in their own planning, it was still DHS’ responsibility to make sure that the State and City had a plan. Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff did nothing to assure the states and cities of the gulf coast had planned for such disasters.

The true Rovian purpose to creating the behemoth that is DHS, after the President had originally rejected it, was to deprive almost 90,000 federal employees of their right to organize. Only a small oversight body was required to coordinate all of the departments that DHS absorbed, but instead, a monster agency was created where employees have no worker’s protections.

Due to the White House’s misplaced priorities, DHS is a failure. DHS should be turned into an oversight agency and power should be returned to the diverse agencies from which it was taken.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Just Like a Bully --- Tough Talk Without a Fight

George Bush and John McCain have both wallowed in the time honoured tradition of talking tough when there’s no chance for a fight.

At least McCain spoke following the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia, accusing Russia of imperialism and demanding it withdraw from Georgian territory. McCain is not President, however, and cannot effect the war. So, McCain talks tough and balls up his fists knowing his buddies will pretend to hold him back.

Bush actually waited until the war was over. He didn’t speak until significant military operations were already completed. Then, he demanded Russian get out of Georgia, or else. Thanks, in part, to Bush’s foray into Iraq, he has no credibility and cannot make Russian retreat. Tough talk as the fighting parties are being dragged down to the principal’s office.

The Bush Administration has egging Georgia into picking a fight with Russia for years, telling President Saakashvili he can join our gang if he stands up to Russia. Now that Saakashvili has picked his fight, Bush abandons him, just like a bully.

Barrack Obama, on the other hand, spoke with reason and foresight. Following the beginning of the war, he called on both parties to stop fighting and have an independent party get in the middle. The only middleman available in this fight is the European Union.

Now, a cease fire has been negotiated, by Nicholas Sarkozy, representing the EU. Bush and McCain knew from the start (hopefully), that only the EU could broker a cease fire here, so they took the opportunity to look tough to the American voter.

Instead of calling on the EU to step up, Bush and McCain played the bully card. McCain even refused to pronounce President Mededev’s name correctly, a standard and bizarre tactic for the Republican party.

Bush and McCain’s tough talk on the Russian/Georgian war has only one target, the American voter. Yet again, they’re trying to paint the Democrats as weak on defense. It won’t work anymore. We don’t need another bully in the White House.

(Yes, this is an opinion piece)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It’s NOT the surge

Just about everyone claiming "the surge" worked, crediting the surge for the reduced violence in Iraq. However, the surge has been only a minor factor in the calming of Iraq.

Violence in Iraq has lessened primarily due to the number of mercenaries being paid by the US Government, the implementation of Carter policy of paying combatants not to fight, and the near completion of ethnic cleansing in Baghdad.

The surge is an increase of 30,000 American troops, bringing the total to 160,000 troops in Iraq. The surge troops are only twenty percent of the American force in the country. Such a small increase couldn’t possibly have had the effect some claim.

Meanwhile there are 180,000 contractors, many of them mercenaries, like Blackwater. Non-mercenaries contractors, work for the military, doing jobs soldiers would have performed in past wars.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, General Erik Shinseki said we would need over 300,000 troops to stabilize the country. His military career was ended when the White House decided to do the job on the cheap. Now the troops are there, even if over half are simply on the payroll. Apparently Shinseki was right.

More important to the decrease in violence is the Awakening movement. The Sunni Awakening movement started several months before the surge. Peace was already breaking out before the surge began.

The Awakening is an implementation of the Carter policy, developed for the Camp David Peace Accord in 1979. The US Government has poured foreign aid into Egypt since 1979, in exchange for peace between Egypt and Israel.

Now, the United States has implemented a policy of paying Sunni leaders to not fight, at a cost of $500,000 per day. The Sunni leaders tired of fighting and foreign insurgents; they eagerly took the payments in exchange for peace.

In Baghdad, the neighborhoods have been largely cleansed. Sunnis have been removed from Shia neighborhoods and Shia have been cleansed from Sunni neighborhoods. Mixed neighborhoods are now fairly abandoned or undesirable. Shia and Sunni have calmed down in Baghdad mainly because there’s nothing left to fight over.

Yes, the American military is doing everything it can, but it is disingenuous or ignorant to assert that the surge “has worked.”

Calling the surge a success is like giving Barry Bonds credit for winning lopsided baseball game by hitting a home run in the ninth inning.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

American Oil Won’t Lower Prices

Some count on the ignorance of the average person, but when the average American’s brain is turned on, he tends to show intelligence and even wisdom. We've been listening to a ridiculous argument for the past several weeks. It's time to clear this up and turn on our brains. So here goes . . .

Drilling for oil in ANWAR and offshore will not lower energy prices

Providing new oil drilling leases in the Alaska wildlife refuge (ANWAR) and offshore will lower oil prices in America . . . or will it?

Let’s do the math. Supply and demand tells us that prices will fall due to significant change in demand or supply. To keep the math simple and conservative, we’ll assume no more increase in demand (not likely) and no problems developing oil fields, like hurricanes and wars (not likely).

Oil is a worldwide commodity market. Commodity prices are based on world markets, not national markets. Oil produced in America does not go just into the American market, but into the worldwide market. Although some want us to believe oil produced in America can be separated from the rest of the world, it can’t.

So, we need to deal with oil prices on a worldwide basis. Experts predict ANWAR holds about 10 billion barrels of oil and offshore there is about 18 billion barrels. World oil reverses top 1,300 billion barrels.

If America taps ANWAR and the entire American offshore, that would amount to just over two percent of the world oil reserves. Oil prices should go down less than three percent. If the price for oil is $120 per barrel, the price of a barrel would lessen by $2.58 per barrel. The price for Petrol, if going for $4.00 per gallon would go down by only nine cents.

Lowering petrol prices by nine cents certainly will not solve our energy problems.

It’s really a world energy market

Speaking of energy, American oil production is not just part of the world oil market, it’s part of the world energy market. The world energy market consists of oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, hydro, etc.

Oil makes up about 35 percent of the energy market. The entire world energy market equates to 3,700 billion barrels of oil. Our 28 billion barrels of oil would be less than one percent of the world energy market.

The oil in ANWAR and offshore would have no real effect on the world energy market.

So, why do the oil companies want these leases?

Producing oil does not increase an oil company’s value; assets do. Ownership of these very valuable leases increases an oil company’s bottom line much more than production does. And, remember, the goal of any company is not producing product, but profits. Offshore oil drilling is a sham. It’s really about ownership of assets, not production.

How do we use supply and demand to actually reduce our energy costs?

The United States uses about 25 percent of the world’s energy. If we lower our use by fifty percent (We can do this. We’re Americans, damn it. (See note 1, below.)) we would reduce the world energy demand by over twelve percent.

If the United States were to get twenty percent of our energy demand from renewable sources we would increase the world’s supply of energy by five percent.

A decrease in demand of twelve percent and an increase in supply of five percent would lower energy prices by 17 percent: a good start.

How we use energy is also critical

T. Bone Pickens is right. Please see

Note 1: The highest demand for energy in the United States is from buildings; in particular, air conditioning; not automobiles.