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Two Cat-4 Hurricanes in Two Weeks. Ignoring Climate Change is getting VERY expensive
Sep 11th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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“This is the first time in history two Catagory-4 storms have made landfall in the same season.” – ABC News weather anchor Ginger Zee.

Hurricane Harvey raged outside my window as I typed my column two weeks ago. I was fortunate where I live to have avoided the flooding & power outages, but many around me were not so lucky. And at the time, they were already predicting the cost of Harvey to surpass the former record holder Hurricane Katrina ($160 Billion in damage vs $180 Billion). Now, as I type this a mere two weeks later, Hurricane Irma… briefly a Catagory-5 and presently a Cat-4, is lashing Florida’s West coast and is already predicted to beat out even Harvey in terms of destruction, for an estimated total cost to taxpayers of nearly $400 BILLION dollars in the space of two weeks (yet another Category-4 just beyond Irma lies “Juan”… which is presently predicted to turn North missing land entirely. Let’s pray they are right because the Texas Gulf Coast can’t endure much more of this.
 

Life imitates art

 

As Hurricane Harvey stalled over the Texas shoreline and dropped a record 27 TRILLION GALLONS OF WATER on the state, for days I carefully listened to the national news reports for ANY mention of “Climate Change” or “Global Warming”. I watch “BBC World News” regularly and thought “Surely the BBC will discuss it”. Alas, they never did. It wasn’t until the very end of Harvey before I heard my first mention, when a BBC reporter stuck a mic in the face of a man in a pickup truck driving through flooded streets who proclaimed: “If you don’t believe in Climate Change, you’re a moron.” That was it. The one and only mention of either “Climate Change” or “Global Warming” I had heard mentioned on any network news program during Hurricane Harvey.

As Hurricane Irma grew and approached Florida, I again listened closely for any mention of Climate Change. It wasn’t until Irma made landfall in the Florida keys Sunday morning that I heard ABC’s weather anchor Ginger Zee throw climate change deniers a lifeline with the tired “we just don’t know” bullcrap line of whether or not “Global Warming causes hurricanes.” This is bullcrap because THAT’S A BULLSHIT QUESTION. We don’t need to know what CAUSES hurricanes to know that WARMER WATER EQUALS MORE SEVERE STORMS. Every 1′ degree rise in ocean temps adds (roughly) 62 Million atomic bombs worth of energy to a hurricane. Continuing to suggest there is “uncertainty” about the EFFECTS of Global Warming by focusing on the more complex question of “what causes hurricanes in the first place” only allows the debate to drag on without anyone doing anything about it. Our house is burning. Stop arguing over WHY and put the damned fire out!

During the election, Donald Trump famously tweeted that “Climate Change is a hoax by the Chinese” to trick every other nation on Earth into “handcuffing” their major industries while China grows their economy by ignoring it. The problem is, China ISN’T ignoring it. THEY signed the Paris Accord and is one of (if not THE) biggest investor in Green Energy/Technology, building the largest solar farm in Earth (in the shape of a Panda no less), one of the largest wind farms in the world, and one of the fastest “MagLev” (Magnetic Levitation) bullet trains on the planet shuttling workers & travelers clear across the country at an average speed of 431KPH (271MPH) (with plans to build a 600Kph version soon), and (as previously reported) set a manufacturing goal of 12% of all new vehicles built in China to be full electric by 2020. Does THAT sound like a country that’s ignoring green technology because they think it stifles the economy?

And we’re falling behind. WAY behind.

While the rest of the world sees Green Tech as the way of the future, investing hundreds of billions of dollars that they expect to earn back 100x over, Republicans in this country believe “Global Warming is one big joke. A Liberal fantasy” to trick rednecks into eating Tofu.

“Regulations that force corporations to fight phantom Climate Change cost businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue, meaning lost jobs and higher prices” they claim. It’s bullshit of course. Tesla is already one of the fastest growing companies in America. Wind now rivals oil as producing the most energy in Texas. Anyone who looks at the exploding growth of the Green Tech industry in China & Europe knows that’s nonsense. BUT EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE (which it’s not), the cost of damage to our nation caused by IGNORING climate change is growing exponentially. Hurricanes are becoming more intense. Rising sea levels means more flooding. More frequent/severe tornado seasons. The cost of the damage simply due to severity grows each year, while these weather events simultaneously become more frequent. Any “savings” you think you’re enjoying by ignoring Global Warming is rapidly being gobbled up by the steadily rising cost of recovery from these weather catastrophes (and lost lives can not be replaced.)

And STILL they balk, make snide comments and ridicule anyone who dare accept reality.

Rush Limbaugh, who actually joked on air last week about the “Liberal hysteria” over calls to evacuate Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma, was himself forced to evacuate his home/studio from where he broadcasts his show in Southern Florida. What are the chances he admits he was wrong once he finally returns to work? Anyone taking bets?
 

Size comparison

 
In 2015, the GOP controlled Senate held a (mock) hearing on “Government Regulations” (claiming “Overregulation Harms Minorities” The GOP’s sudden concern for “minorities” was actually just a thinly veiled excuse to attack “Regulations” in general. Ted Cruz, mugging for cameras as he planned to run for president in 2016, attacked the president of the Sierra Club, Aaron Mair (to the delight of Conservatives) for daring to say “climate disruption should not be up for debate any more so than the science behind climate change itself.” Cruz feigned astonishment that someone claiming to be a scientist would declare that a matter of science was “not up for debate.”

Think about that. We don’t “debate” science FACT. No one debates that the Earth is round (except on Facebook) or revolves around the sun, that gravity exists and that “2+2=4”. And as Mair rightly pointed out, “when 97% of the worlds scientists agree on something” and the 3% who don’t are either politically motivated, financially motivated, or both… to sow seeds of doubt, then it becomes established fact. You don’t waste your time lending credibility to the Flat Earthers by continuing to debate the issue. ONLY in the United States, is there any widespread belief that “Climate Change isn’t real”… because it’s either a massive hoax perpetrated by “greedy scientists” or “tofu-eating Liberals” who resent giant SUV’s intimidating them while they drive their Prius, or “a hoax by the Chinese to slow down the competition”. All while trusting blindly in the integrity & nobility of oil companies and the coal mining industry who clearly DON’T have any financial motivation to lie about the harm their products produce. Oh, and cigarettes don’t cause cancer either.

The most notorious Climate Change denier of all is Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who once snarkilly tossed a snowball in Congress during a blizzard in the middle of Winter to ridicule “Global Warming”. We ridicule what we don’t understand, and Inhofe does not understand that “warm air holds more moisture”. In the Summer, we call these massive moisture events: “floods”. In the Winter, Republican’s guffaw as people call it a “Snowpocalypse”. In the most extreme coldest regions of Antarctica, it hasn’t snowed in over 10,000 years. It is so cold there it freezes the moisture right out of the air. Air needs a modicum of warmth to hold moisture. And warm air in Winter creates a LOT of wet heavy snow. Apparently, no one ever explained to Mr. Inhofe how “evaporation” works, and snow isn’t created by The Snow Fairy. Inhofe has been strangely “snarkless” during Harvey & Irma (other than to praise the new Climate Change denying head of the EPA for stripping the EPA down to “its smallest size since the Reagan Administration” on Sept. 6th AFTER Harvey hit Texas.) Inhofe’s chief argument against Climate Change is Biblical, claiming “the Bible says God created the Earth for mans use and would always exist for that purpose.” That didn’t stop Noah from building his Ark.

The 2016 Federal Budget was $3.5 Trillion dollars. The cost of recovery for just hurricane’s Harvey & Irma could be as much as $380 Billion, or 8-1/2% of the entire Federal budget… more than twice of what we spend on the VA each year (after 16 years at war with troops in seven countries.)

Which brings me to the fact that today is the 16th anniversary of 9/11. As Global Warming makes more of the Earth unlivable (either due to devastating droughts or catastrophic flooding due to sea level rise), wars will break out around the globe as more & more people fight over fewer & fewer resources. “Climate Refugees” come knocking on our doors, and even Trump’s ridiculous wall can’t keep them out. The humanitarian crisis that is coming if we continue to ignore the warming of our planet is going to look like we were worried about rescuing a roll of dimes from a bank fire.
 

Flag tattered by Irma.

 


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Trump Says Paris Accord Too Tough. Staff Justifies Backing Out Because It Wasn’t Tough Enough
Jun 5th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly dismissed the very existence of Global Warming, even tweeting (and publicly declaring) that “global warming” was just something “made up by the Chinese” to gain an economic advantage as everyone else supposedly curbs their manufacturing while they ramp up their own. He also dismissed it as a money-making industry”. What kind of “successful businessman” belittles the greatest business opportunity since The Internet as “just a way for people to make money”??? It is difficult to quantify the mind-numbing stupidity of such a remark. The fact it’s held by the man who ran for president on his reputation as “a successful businessman” who would know how to negotiate a great deal for the American people, and is now running the most powerful nation of Earth, is horrifying.

The concept of “Global Warming” is not new. It’s not a recent concoction of the Chinese made up in the 1990’s. And just WHO does Trump think is getting rich off promoting this “hoax”? Scientists? WHO has more financial motive to convince you “Climate Change” isn’t real? Scientists making teacher’s wages, or the Trillion dollar fossil fuel industry? If the goal of China is to convince others Global Warming is real only to distract other nations’ economies, how come China is one of the biggest investors in Green Technology, imposing some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the world upon itself? The Shanghai MagLev is the fastest commuter train in the world, ferrying people at a mind-blowing 360Kph. That wasn’t Capitalism that did that. That was the largest Communist dictatorship on Earth.

Former Vice President Al Gore, in his famed 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth“, talked about his college professor back in the 1960’s first describing the infamous climate “hockey stick” graph projecting a rapid rise in average global temperatures over the coming century:
 

The hockey-stick graph

 
And that projection has been right on the money.

Seven years ago, I wrote an op/ed regarding how Conservatives like George Will would frequently cite false claims in the late 1970’s of “Global Cooling” and “the coming Ice Age” to justify ridiculing fears over “Global Warming” today. There were several flaws to this argument. First and foremost, there was almost NO science behind the claim. The consensus was simply “we’re due”. “It’s been over 10,000 years since the last Ice Age, and they occur roughly every 10,000 years”, so we’re past due. The same way California is “way overdue” for a massive Earthquake. Just because “we’re due” isn’t a scientific argument that compares to the MASSIVE amount of science to back up the evidence of man-made Climate Change we know to be true today. Second, what little science there was at the time, it WAS detecting changes in the climate even back then, except drawing the wrong conclusion: more particulate matter in the atmosphere isn’t “reflecting light” to result in a cooling of the planet, it’s trapping heat like a blanket and causing the Earth to warm. Right observation; wrong conclusion. Which leads to point #3: We know more about climate science today than we did 40 years ago.

So Trump has quite publicly taken the position of the Far Far Right… territory staked out by Evangelical End-Timers and tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists… that Climate Change is either an invention of Lefty Liberal Scientists as a way to keep that sweet-sweet government funding flowing into their research coffers AND/OR a made-up invention of the Chinese to convince other countries to impose “job killing regulations” and waste Billions of dollars to hamper their industry while they… China & India… continue to pollute and gain an economic advantage. OF COURSE those are the people who can’t be trusted, and definitely NOT the Trillion-dollar fossil fuel industry and Rapture-pining Evangelical End-Timers who clearly have NO motivation to foster disbelief in Climate Change while assuring us all “we’ll be just fine” if we do absolutely nothing.

Except that it’s China & India who signed the Paris accord (as did Russia) and are imposing tight (almost draconian) environmental restrictions on themselves while investing Trillions to fight a problem Trump thinks they don’t believe is even real. China… which was globally shamed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics over their choking smog… is pledging to produce more Green energy by 2030 than the United States produces from ALL sources today. And India is pledging that by the same 2030 deadline, 100% of all vehicles produced in that country will be electric. And if you don’t think that’s a big deal, India’s “Tata Motors” is one of the largest auto makers in the world and owns “Jaguar” (taking them from near bankruptcy back to being a market leader today) and one of the largest producers of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the world (building more than even Germany.) Try to imagine if Ford or Chevy vowed to build nothing but electric cars in little over a decade from now. THAT’S how big a deal this is.

So Trump is justifying backing out of the Paris Climate Accord on the grounds it will stifle American industry because the restrictions are too tough, while he sends out members of his Administration… EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley out to argue that the Paris accord is “too weak” and “doesn’t do ENOUGH” to prevent climate change (so why bother doing anything, right?) The problem with that argument is obvious. Trump isn’t demanding tougher restrictions or saying he’ll only sign if pollution regulations set forth in the accord are stronger, so sending out his flying monkeys to dismiss the treaty as “too weak” doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Pruitt went on all three (if not more) of the major network news talk shows yesterday, citing on each and every one of them that famed NASA Climatologist James Hansen had called the Paris agreement “a fraud and a fake”… which is true, but only because he’s one of those saying it needs to be stronger… MUCH stronger… because the looming ecological disaster demands FAR more serious action. Meanwhile, Pruitt is citing Hansen as an excuse to do nothing (and I’d argue, using Hansen’s “fake and a fraud” criticism of the accord in such a way as to imply even NASA’s to Climatologist doesn’t believe in Global Warming… which isn’t close to true.)

Trump called the agreement “a bad deal”, but the Paris Accord was a “non-binding agreement” there is no such thing as a “bad” “non-binding agreement”. If it turns out to not work or even be harmful, you simply STOP COMPLYING. There is simply NO excuse for backing out of a “non-binding” agreement other than to placate those Evangelical End-Timers and Tinfoil hat wearing Conspiracy theorists whom support you.

Trump met with Al Gore twice to discuss environmental policy. The first time was as president-elect, meeting with the former VP at Trump Tower, and again recently to discuss the Paris Accord, where Gore said yesterday he strongly urged Trump to sign the agreement by appealing to his business sense as a way to create jobs. And we now know how THAT turned out. Trump met with Gore the way he met with Romney when he was interviewing candidates for Secretary of State. He had absolutely no intention of joining with them. He already had his mind made up before he ever called them. It’s theater. He just wants to give the appearance of having an open mind and making it look like he’s taking advice from political rivals. But it’s all just a game to Toddler Trump getting his rocks off, humiliating his rivals by making them grovel at his feet, as he soaks in the praise for his “apparent” non-partisan “businessman-like” managerial skills, only to then ignore everything he was told and make some asinine decision for reasons with no basis in reality.

Making the Paris agreement “binding” and tougher on China & India would NOT have convinced Trump to sign the accord, so he needn’t waste our time sending out staffers to whine about how “weak” the agreement was, as if to suggest THAT was the reason he didn’t sign. Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg summed it up best last week when he said we needn’t worry about Climate Change because “God will sort it out”. What if God’s “fix” is to simply render us extinct? The planet doesn’t NEED *US* to survive. If you believe in The Bible, it wouldn’t be the first time God wiped out the entire planet and started over again (see: Noah.)
 


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Amid Record Low Oil and Gas, Trump Says Keystone XL Needed ‘Desperately’. Then threatens to reject it
Jan 25th, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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During another one of his “phone it in” TV interviews yesterday, Donald Trump told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd we “need the Keystone XL pipeline desperately“. However, at some other point in the day (before or after?), he told reporters that if we weren’t promised “a big chunk” of the profits, he’d reject it (link). Did I mention this was *yesterday* in the space of a few minutes? The price of oil “rallied” Friday to close up just over $32/barrel… $4 below where it was the day before we invaded Iraq. It had fallen as low as $26.55 last Wednesday. In 2012, the KXL was part of Newt Gingrich’s plan to get gas prices down to just $2.50/gallon by 2017. As I type this, the national average price for a gallon of gas is $1.83. The process of converting “tarsand” into oil is so expensive, oil needs to be over $65/barrel just to be cost effective. Not only would the KXL have NOT been a “job creator”, but the economy created a stunning 292,000 jobs last monthNEARLY SEVEN TIMES the number of (temp) jobs the KXL promised to create over TWO YEARS (and even that is doubtful.) So how exactly is it that we “desperately” need the Keystone XL pipeline? I really want to know. Every single one of the GOP presidential candidates supports the building of the KXL… the perfect symbol for today’s GOP: the very epitome of a white elephant.
 

Trump: “Keystone XL needed desperately (:08 seconds)

 

As I noted less than three weeks ago, the Republican congress made good on it’s threat to try to pass the “Keystone XL pipeline” one more time, in a juvenile move to pander to their childlike constituency. Not ONE Republican was willing to step up as the adult in the room (or perhaps too dumb to even know themselves) and point out that the price of oil is too low for the KXL to be economically feasible… not just due to current oil prices, but as OPEC has now proven, they can easily undercut the price of oil any time they like to make the KXL too costly to operate.

So if it’s not because “we need the jobs” and it’s not because “gas prices are too high” (oil producing states in the South and Alaska are actually being hit hard by job layoffs due to a lack of need for more oil), then what is it? A Google News search turns up no other mention of Trump explaining why we “desperately” need the KXL. More to the point, if NOT building it has hurt us, how do you then defend threatening to NOT build it yourself? If we need it so badly, wouldn’t “some” gain be better than none?

Clearly, “The Donald” is not talking about the loss of jobs, because those meager few jobs would have been created whether we got most of the profits or not. Nor is it about getting gas prices down for the same reason. Is it about “Energy independence” after he “bombs the Middle-East back to the Stone Age”? I bet’cha that’s what he’s thinking.

Except it wouldn’t.

I’ve already explained in great detail (see Keystone link in titlebar) how the Alberta tarsands would not get us anywhere CLOSE to “energy independence”. And OPEC would ensure it was ALWAYS too costly to operate.

As I just pointed out above, the price of oil is SO low now, the pipeline would operate at a loss for months/years to come (likely never turn a profit). TransCanada is suing the Obama Administration… not for the right to complete the pipeline, but for “damages”. This is a tacit admission that THEY DON’T WANT IT BUILT ANYMORE. The Obama Administration rejecting the pipeline likely saved their butts from incurring catastrophic losses that could have bankrupted the company, and suing for damages is a way to recover part of their losses for the portion they’ve already built. They could have suffered a loss of over $30 for every barrel of oil produced, and TransCanada predicted the KXL would transport/produce “1.1 million barrels of oil per day“… which translates to a loss of $31 Million/DAY (or roughly $11 Billion dollars a year). Just how long do you think they could have kept THAT up? (And this is AFTER the expense of completing the construction.) They should be thanking their lucky stars the pipeline was rejected.

I’m of the personal belief that the reason Trump thinks we “desperately” need the KXL is because of his plan to “bomb the $#!+” out of the Middle East. Like so many other clueless Republicans that have bought the hype, he clearly believes the KXL would make the United States “energy independent”, allowing us to not need to import a drop of foreign oil. Not only is that beyond ridiculous, but unless he also plans to take over the entire U.S. oil industry, NATIONALIZE it and ban all exports, oil prices will ALWAYS be set by the world market, still subjecting American consumers and TransCanada to the whims of the Middle East.

It’s also one more reminder why Republicans should NEVER be trusted with running our economy ever again if they STILL think we need the Keystone XL and rejecting it has been devastating to (or otherwise endangers) the U.S.. Ask the Southern states with all their oilfield job layoffs if they think now is the time for MORE oil glutting the market and driving prices down even further?

An aside: During an interview on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, Marco Rubio vowed to “turn the country around.” Turn it around? Record job growth. Unemployment down. The deficit is down. Military deaths are down. Gas prices are WAY down. The stock market is up… explain to me why ANYONE would want the country to do an about-face and return us to the economic & national security disaster of just seven short years ago???

These ideologues are so clueless, they’re dangerous.

(Note: Iowa caucus is one week from tonight [Feb 1st], so expect a brief delay in next week’s column. – Mugsy)
 


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Republicans Vow First Order of Business Will Be A Pointless Exercise in Showing Who’s Boss by Approving KXL
Jan 5th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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As I noted a few weeks ago, I’m still surprised by the number of people that just don’t remember that gas was WELL below $2/gallon before… not just before George W. Bush… but two years into the Bush presidency before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They just couldn’t fathom gas prices ever being as low as we’re seeing it today (close to $2/gallon.) In fact, in 2003, oil hit just $35/barrel the week before the invasion of Iraq after hovering around $29/barrel for years. (I’ve linked to this video of mine numerous times of how one economist predicted what the invasion of Iraq might bring… if not UNDER-ESTIMATING the costs, two weeks before the invasion. In the background you can see gas prices were still around $1.79/gallon in the North-East.) It took a second war and a President/Congress completely unwilling to regulate oil speculators to drive oil prices up to nearly $150/barrel and gas over $4/gallon, laying the groundwork for the ensuing global economic collapse. During the 2012 Presidential race, Newt Gingrich… struggling for a coherent message (“moonbases” just wasn’t packing them in)… settled on promising “$2.50/gallon gasoline by the end of his first term in office” (2016) by “approving the Keystone XL Pipeline” and drilling for oil in every backyard in America (interesting side-note: Mitt Romney vowed to bring Unemployment “below 6.5% by the end of [his] first term”). Yet in two years… not four… the price of gasoline is well below $2.50/gal nationally and can even be found for under $2/gal in many states (one local Exxon station near me here in Houston is selling Regular Unleaded for $1.89/gal.) And it all happened without approving the freaking pipeline. Fantastical promises of “1 million new jobs” were quickly/easily debunked. Most of the construction is already complete. The pipe itself has already been made/purchased. The company benefiting isn’t even American and the vast majority of the “oil” is already earmarked for export overseas, having little to no impact on domestic gas prices. And the process of converting greasy Canadian sludge into “oil” requires a per-barrel price-point nearly $20/barrel higher than it is now, making the entire project a money LOSER. Even if approved, “Trans-Canada” would likely not pursue it for years til the next Republican president drives oil prices back into the stratosphere. But as OPEC has now proven, all they have to do to eliminate the competition is to make the pipeline too costly to operate by simply pumping more oil. One might think that all this might convince even Republicans that completing the Keystone XL pipeline is an exercise in futility, but you’d be wrong. Undeterred, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared that “the FIRST vote of the new Congress will be to approve the Keystone XL pipeline” (with WY Senator John Barrasso on “Meet the Press” yesterday citing those “42,000 jobs” as to why it is needed.) Whether either senator knows that that’s “42,000 low paying temp jobs stretched out over two years“, I couldn’t say. Nor do I think it would make a difference. No, Senate Republicans have already admitted that their true reason for making passage of the Keystone XL such a high priority is that it is “a test” [ibid] of political will in Washington. They’ve convinced enough brainless Right-wingers that approving the KXL is “a no-brainer” and that an Obama veto would be nothing more than a challenge to their authority… nay… “the will of the American people” that voted them into office this past year. And THAT is what this vote is all about. It’s not about “creating (imaginary) jobs” or “reducing gas prices”, it’s just more childish gamesmanship by the GOP in a pointless flexing of political muscle.

You might remember that just this past November, just days after the election, in a desperate/futile/pointless/asinine attempt to save DINO Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) Senate seat in a runoff election, Congress voted on whether or not to approve the KXL. The bill failed to reach the 60-vote super-majority threshold necessary to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Landrieu did so poorly in the runoff election that it is doubtful passage of the bill would have affected the outcome of the election anyway. With the added seats in the Senate this year, Republican’s probably have the support of enough brain-dead Democrats to overcome a Democratic filibuster should it come up for a vote again, but NOWHERE NEAR the 67-vote Super-majority they’d need to override a presidential veto, making the entire exercise pointless & futile… IF passing the now irrelevant pipeline were indeed the point (which it isn’t.) It’s all about petty power-starved Republicans trying to show Americans “who’s boss”. They’ve built up this insane reality that exists only in their fevered imaginations where Americans hate President Obama and disagree with him on ever major issue. It’s a world in which Keystone means “jobs, jobs, jobs” and gas under $2.50 a gallon. It’s a world in which Sen. Ted Cruz can declare with a straight face that “Americans are suffering because of ObamaCare” and that “Benghazi” is the greatest political scandal since “Monica Lewinski”.

Republicans see no downside to creating “jobs” regardless of cost… so long as it is a Conservative-friendly industry (be it oil or bombs). They’ll give away Billions in tax incentives to oil companies and spend yet billions more in environmental cleanup in exchange for just 42,000 low-wage jobs (roughly $600K for every $20K/year job.) But tell them how investing in green technology produced a a $5-BILLION ROI, and all you’ll hear is snarky jokes about “Solyndra” (a $300 million loss).

Of course, all this political gamesmanship has nothing to do with “jobs” (last year, unemployment fell at its fastest rate in 30 years) or “bringing down oil prices” (oil now below $54/barrel with gas at $2.20/gallon, a full 1/3rd lower than it was one year ago) and everything to do with Republicans trying to show Obama “who’s boss”.
 


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Plunge in Oil Prices Foretells Looming Economic Disaster. Aribrary pricing can go up easier than it came down.
Dec 8th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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During the 2000 presidential campaign, after oil climbed a whopping 72cents in one day (yes, that’s sarcasm) to $33.05/barrel, causing gasoline prices to hit an “unthinkable” $1.68/gallon nationally, Interstate “long-haul” truckers across the country threatened to go on strike saying that the soaring price of fuel was putting them out of business. Naturally, the leading candidates, Bush & Gore, were both forced to respond. On June 22nd of that year, George W Bush openly criticized the Clinton Administration for rising gas prices, saying (famously) that if HE were president, he’d tell OPEC to “open up the spigots” to bring down gas [sic] prices. Over the prior two decades, the price of gasoline had not fluctuated by more than a few cents a year until the “dime a gallon” spikes we saw in early 2000. But that stability vanished following G.W.Bush’s ascent to the presidency:

DoE graph of weekly oil prices from 1991 to Present (link)
Weekly gas prices 1991 to present

The range circled in yellow is the relatively flat/stable gasoline prices we had become accustomed to for decades, with a slight dip following 9/11. Gas prices rarely rose more than a couple of pennies per gallon in a month let alone a single day. After becoming president, the price of gasoline under George W Bush remained in the “strike zone”… and by that, I mean quite literally the “over $1.50/gal” price point at which truckers had threatened to strike… for the next three years. The day AFTER 9/11… and for the next two years… oil was still (roughly) only $29/barrel. It took the unwarranted invasion of Iraq and tossing the Middle East into chaos to drive the price of oil into the stratosphere (I’ll let you decide if that was the goal all along.)

The range circled in red is the dramatic plunge in gasoline prices after peaking at just over $4.10/gallon in July of 2008 (reportedly, one journalist asked President Bush at the time what he thought about the price of gas breaking $4/gallon, to which a startled president Bush… who last saw gas prices around $1.68/gal during the 2000 campaign… supposedly said in surprise, “How much???”) Breaking the $4.00 barrier was probably the final straw in the looming collapse of the economy, the bankrupting of the banking industry and the implosion of Wall Street, with the price of gas falling to a national average of just $1.89/per gallon in just seven months. The election of President Obama and the promise of getting out of Iraq was seen as likely to bring some stability to the Middle East (don’t laugh), which in turn would reduce the threat to our oil supply, allowing prices to quickly “rebound” back to the “new normal” of over $2.50/gallon in less than a few months (and over $3.50/gal in the year to follow). Again, as you can see from the graph, gas prices began to flatten out (relatively) until this most recent plunge (circled in green.)

I’ve been writing about the skyrocketing price of oil under Bush for many years now, so one might think I’d be thrilled to death to see the price of oil (and gas) plunge back to Earth… and under a Democratic president no less to really rub it in Republican’s faces. Low gas prices are like a shot of nitrous in the economic gas tank. What Republicans think “tax cuts” do for the economy, falling gas prices actually DO (because the benefits hit the Poor & Middle-Class FAR more directly/substantially.) But sadly, this current plunge has only highlighted a big flashing neon-sign at just how arbitrary oil pricing was to begin with, and how likely this rubberband is poised to snap back in our faces. Not to sound like a “Debbie Downer”, but there is a reason oil prices have been falling so precipitously in recent months and the chance they could shoot back up at almost any time is very real (if not likely)… the consequences of which could get very ugly.

The reason oil prices are falling are manifold. First, the United States, under President Obama, has dramatically increased oil production to a 38 year high. The “Drill here! Drill now!” crowd that vilified Obama during the 2008 & 2012 presidential races has an unexpected ally in President Obama. While touting the need to cut our dependence on fossil fuel and invest in renewable energy, President Obama has disappointingly been very supportive of increased drilling across the country (mercifully, he stood up against the “Keystone XL pipeline”, but have you noticed since the vote failed in the Senate, Republicans aren’t exactly banging the drum on how they’ll hold another vote after they take control of Congress?)

Increased U.S. production has triggered a price-war with OPEC… which represents about 1/3 of all the oil produced in the world… increasing their own production to compete with America. So right now, it’s a fight to see “who blinks first”. Two weeks ago, OPEC voted on whether they should CUT production in an attempt to drive prices back up. In the end, they voted “No” because they knew they would lose Billions in sales as more people purchased American oil. OPEC’s response was that they could withstand the price of oil falling to as low as $50/barrel again… a price not seen since right after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

But American oil companies are likely to blink first before allowing oil prices to fall that low again, and would cut their own production to drive prices back up. OPEC would happily cut their own production in turn, the price of oil would skyrocket overnight and the U.S. economy could crash.

And American oil companies have ample incentive to drive prices up. First, when you sell a product billions of people literally can’t do without, you can almost charge whatever you want. And if they want $75 oil again, they wouldn’t break a sweat getting it back up there. And if you’re “TransCanada” and have millions of acres of oily sludge just begging to be turned into a pile of cash if only it were cost-effective to do so (presently, oil needs to be over $75/barrel to make converting tarsands sludge into oil profitable), nothing would make them (or their investors) happier than to see the price of oil shoot back up.

Of course, U.S. oil production can’t remain at this pace forever. Eventually (very soon I believe), production is going to start falling off (either from actual shortages or artificial ones), thus prices will start inching back up and the U.S. economy will falter. Desperate to eschew blame, Republicans… having missed the lesson entirely… will cry, “If only Democrats hadn’t blocked the Keystone pipeline in 2014, it would be built by now (actually, most of it is already built) and the price of oil wouldn’t be so high!”

No, the lesson to be learned here is that now more than ever, while oil prices are low and the economy is growing, we need to be investing in Green Energy now more than ever. Think of it as a “rainy day fund”. You don’t put money in the fund when you’re struggling and need it most, you fill it when times are good and need it least. We shouldn’t allow our… nay The World’s economy to be subject to the whims of the Oil Cartels. They’ve already subjected us to ONE global economic disaster. Do we REALLY wanna try for TWO… especially with so much warning?

POSTSCRIPT: I decided not to report on the recent protests regarding the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and whomever is next because the subject is already being covered thoroughly by others. Rush Limbaugh went on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday to blame “high taxes on cigarettes” for the death of Eric Garner (the “logic” being that the only reason there was a market for him to sell lose cigarettes was because of the high taxes on them, and the city’s dependence on that tax revenue is why “so many” cops descended upon him to the point of taking his life.) Yes Rush, blame the government; blame the victim; just don’t blame the guy with his arm around Garner’s neck… which “wasn’t a choke hold” because the cops told him so.

Limbaugh… the man who sang “Barack the Magic Negro” on his radio show to the same Teanut listeners who carried signs of Obama dressed like a witch doctor while protesting “ObamaCare”… complained bitterly that “people thought electing a black president would move the country past racism” (an irony lost on Limbaugh), but instead President Obama is to blame for an even greater racial divide in this country. He went on to lament that “you can’t criticize Obama without being accused of being a racist.” No Rush, before Obama, closet racists like yourself kept their racism in check. Once they were able to openly use racial code to criticize a black politician under the protective guise of simply “criticizing the president”, that’s when you and your ilk were exposed as the racists asshats we always knew you to be.

 


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Keystone XL: Not Just a Potential Environmental Disaster But An Economic One Too.
Nov 17th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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Did you know about 1/2 of the Keystone XL Pipeline has ALREADY BEEN BUILT? The KXL project is a 1,200 mile long pipeline extending from Hardisty, Alberta to refineries in Houston, Texas near The Houston Ship Channel. The southern legs of the pipeline, one branch from Steele City, KS to the pipeline hub of Cushing, Okla., and the other to two refineries near Springfield, Ill, were constructed between 2011 and earlier this year. in The state of Kansas… which just reelected Governor Sam Brownback despite a record of extraordinary economic malpractice thanks to massive unpaid-for tax cuts strapping the state with a whopping $279 Million dollar budget deficit… gave the Canadian oil company “TransCanada”$15 Million dollar ANNUAL tax cut (ibid first link) to entice them into building the pipeline through their state. That’s like bribing a highway construction crew already knocking on your front door to reroute the freeway through your living room. The tax revenue lost to Brownback’s idiotic tax cut was NOT recovered in tax revenue from new employment. Worse, when that pipeline starts leaking… and it will… the state of Kansas can TRY to get TransCanada to pay for the cleanup, but the imposed fine (if there’s even one at all) won’t cover the actual cost of cleanup or damages. It never does. Who picks up that tab? But “health” and “cleanup” costs are just two of the half-dozen or so economic pitfalls from allowing this pipeline to continue. I already noted the loss of tax revenue in Kansas. Consider that land and the immediate area around it a dead zone for the next 100 years as people decide they don’t want to live near a pipeline (noisy, smelly, dangerous). And the list goes on.

Businesses near the pipeline will soon be forced to relocate as the local population moves away. That translates to fewer jobs and less tax revenue. At the destinations of these pipelines, not only will residents/businesses flee the pipeline itself, but the massive lakes of toxic waste (called: “tailing ponds”) will chase away new residents better than being told their house was the site of a brutal murder/suicide.

Ask anyone from South-East Texas about a place called “Texas City”, and the first thing they’ll mention is how bad it smells. “Texas City” is home to three major oil refineries, only a short hop away from “Port Arthur”… one of Keystone’s three destinations… with its three additional refineries. Trust me, no one lives there unless they have to (employed at the refineries). Not only does the air stink of rotten eggs (sulfur) for miles around, but the air actually burns your eyes and throat after just a few minutes (it is common local knowledge to “roll up your windows” when driving past this section of East Texas.)

I keep hearing supporters of the pipeline say, “It will create jobs!” like it’s a universally accepted statement of fact, and to doubt “that one simple fact” makes you irrational. During last Friday’s episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher”, CNN “Political Contributor” Margret Hoover stated as a fact: “The reality is that the Keystone XL Pipeline will create jobs. Who could be against that?” And MSNBC’s Chris Matthews also repeated the mythical “it will create jobs” claim during “Meet the Press” yesterday. In both cases, NO ONE challenged those assertions. JUST ONCE I’d like to hear someone ask the obvious (bleeping) follow-up: “DOING WHAT?” Seriously. Certainly not in the actual construction of the pipeline itself. As I’ve already pointed out, nearly HALF of the pipeline has already been built. And most of the steel pipe used to construct the pipeline has already been purchased from India. And if you think that Indian steel is stronger than American-made steel with less risk of rupture as 1million barrels a day of liquified dirt SANDBLASTS the walls of that pipe 24/7/365, I have a bird estuary to sell you. No surprise by the lack of pushback on MtP, but one would think that at least on a Left-leaning show like Maher’s, he’d challenge the notion. But he didn’t. Yesterday, ABC’s “ThisWeek” had on the CEO of TransCanda who conceded an AP report that the pipeline would create “just 50 permanent jobs in the U.S.”, but countered that it was still a “job creator” because it would also create “9,000 (low-paying temporary) construction jobs” and “42,000 indirect” jobs (over 2 years)“:
 

CEO of TransCanada, Bill Girling, concedes that the costly pipeline may create only FIFTY permanent jobs in the US and perhaps only 50,000 “temporary” and “indirect” jobs along the construction route over TWO years.

 

Seriously? These are the “jobs, jobs, jobs” Republicans have been promising? We’re risking certain environmental disaster to produce less than half as many jobs as the U.S. economy needs EACH MONTH just to keep up with population growth, over the span of TWO YEARS? Tell me we’re not being ruled by people THAT dumb!

UPDATE: Doing the math, best case scenario of 51,000 temp jobs (9,000 + 42,000) spread out over two years has the same impact as adding just 490 jobs a week for the next two years, or roughly a 0.45% increase in monthly job growth.

While live Facebooking/Tweeting the Sunday News Shows yesterday (click here to follow us on Twitter or here to follow us on Facebook), I found myself in a Twitter “debate” with a “Proud Truther” that thought I wasn’t very bright if I couldn’t figure out all the jobs that could be created from “Construction and maintenance” of the pipeline. Long story short, after I advocated promoting “Green jobs” over the pipeline, he responded with the familiar Republican claim that “government does not create jobs”. This is a common (and painfully stupid) response by Republicans whenever talking about using the government to promote job creation. The “logic” (if you can call it that) goes this way: “If the government creates the job, it costs tax dollars, for a net gain of zero.” And if government were the employer, he might have a point (he’d still be wrong, but at least a defensible argument.)

So I respond back, “Government doesn’t create jobs? That’s demonstrably false. The government creates jobs ALL THE TIME.” May I just point out that this mental midget was arguing with me OVER THE INTERNET… which was a government project and now responsible for hundreds of millions of jobs. Before that, we are STILL reaping the benefits of President Eisenhower’s “Interstate Highway Project” today. And the next time you drive over an eighty year old bridge built under FDR’s WPA (Work Projects Administration), ask yourself how much each of these things has contributed to Commerce in this country?

Remember that “failed” government program that lost millions on “Solyndra“… a GOP punchline for the past six years that Republicans pointed to as an example of “money wasted trying to promote green jobs”? Well, it’s slated to turn a $5 to 6 BILLION dollar profit next year as the majority of companies backed by the program more than out-performed the losses.

Some “reluctant” supporters of constructing the pipeline (and many Republicans, like Sen. John Thune, trying to straddle the fence on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday) like to say, “Construction of the pipeline is inevitable. They are going to sell that oil whether we build the pipeline or not, so we might as well just build it.” Few arguments in favor of the pipeline anger me more than this one. It’s the, “we’re all going to die someday so why not just put a bullet in our brains now?” argument. Former Talk Radio host Ed Schultz made this asinine argument on his radio show last year creating a firestorm. People like myself quickly set him straight and eventually he recanted, but the damage had been done and his show was off the air a few months later.

No. Construction of the pipeline is NOT “inevitable”. Turning tarsand into “oil” is an extremely expensive process, and it is only cost effective with oil between $65-$75/barrel (add this to the mess with ISIS and it’s just one more way the Bush Administration royally screwed this country.) Get the price of oil below $70/barrel and it is no longer cost effective to try to turn that sludge into “oil”. Last week, the price of oil fell below $75/barrel for the first time since 2006. The price of oil the week before the invasion of Iraq? $32/barrel. 

I heard numerous Conservative Commentators yesterday repeat the “common sense” logic that “increasing the supply of oil” (by tapping the Tarsands reserves) will bring down the price of oil. I’ve already detailed in my “Truth About the KXL” report how there isn’t enough oil in the Alberta tarsands (even when added to our our own Bakken shale reserves) to “glut the market”, and that even if there were, OPEC would simply cut production to drive the price back up. So any idea that the tarsands oil will mean lower gas prices is based on nonsense.

For FAR less money… with the side benefits of creating FAR more PERMANENT high-tech green jobs and without the double costs of environmental and economic disaster… we can REDUCE our dependence on oil… the ONLY thing that would actually have an impact on oil prices. I pointed out a couple of years ago that roughly 8% of our electricity is generated by oil-powered turbines. Replace them with windfarms and you DRAMATICALLY reduce the amount of oil this country consumes each year (FAR more than “8 percent”), which in turn would bring oil prices down… quickly. OPEC can’t simply drive prices up by cutting production of a product for which there is already less of a demand. They’ll just drive away customers.

There is no economic future in continuing our dependence on fossil fuels. Green jobs pay better and have an actual future, but our government is about to be dominated by people desperate to protect the Blacksmithing Industry from the invention of the Automobile. Senate Democrats are suddenly willing to hold a vote on Keystone because they think helping Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu agree with her opponent on the pipeline will save her job (bang head on wall repeatedly). Have they learned NOTHING from the beating they took just one week ago? Conceding your opponents position doesn’t win you elections. I can think of no better/safer time to kick Landrieu to the curb as a warning to other Democrats. Keeping this notorious DINO in office doesn’t change the balance of power. She’s about to vote with the Republicans (again) in opposition to President Obama (again), so tell me again why I should waste ONE DIME trying to save her seat in Washington? Keystone is a White Elephant for Democrats. Add to that the economic costs of cleanup and the decimation of local economies from “blight flight” (you like that? I just made it up) and Republican “tax cuts” to attract something any sane group would pay to keep away, and you have a project that is SO bad on SO many levels, it’s almost inconceivable that anyone is taking this idea seriously.
 


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Keystone XL Protest Signs for Download
Feb 28th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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As promised, here are seven posters/signs that I created for the Keystone XL Protest that I plan to attend this weekend.

As I mentioned on Monday, I believe it is FAR more effective to focus on NON-CO2 related reasons for opposing the pipeline when your goal is to convince people that don’t believe in “Global Warming” and have been spoon-fed a steady stream of lies of “Job Jobs Jobs”, “cheap gas” and “Energy Independence”, to vote against something they’ve been told would be a magic bullet for the economy.

Previews are in JPG format. Each poster in both “tall” and “wide” formats for signs or posters. Click images to download in high resolution PhotoShop format:


The oil is to be EXPORTED – The oil is to be EXPORTED


HIGHER prices NOT lower –  – HIGHER prices NOT lower


The JOBS myth – The JOBS myth


No good for gasoline – No good for gasoline


Massive Tailing Ponds – Massive Tailing Ponds


An ENORMOUS waste of fresh water – An ENORMOUS waste of fresh water


Summary poster – Summary poster

If you find these posters useful, let us know. – Mugsy
 


 

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No, the Keystone Tar Sand Oil is NOT Inevitable
Feb 24th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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A little birdy tells me that President Obama is now considering approving the final leg of the infamous “Keystone XL” pipeline because some big names on the Left have resigned themselves to the idea that the tar sands making it to market is “inevitable”, so we might as well be the ones to do it before a “less” environmentally conscientious nation “like China” (who is investing heavily in Green energy and focusing on pollution after Beijing started hitting blindingly toxic levels of smog prior to the 2008 Olympics.) Meanwhile, ask North Carolina and West Virginia what they think about our environmental record. Quite honestly, anyone claiming to be “a Liberal” that tells you the KXL “is inevitable so we might as well do it”, isn’t really a Liberal. Because a true Liberal finds the better way. They don’t just throw up their hands and say, “Okay Big Money, you win! I surrender!” Screw you and the Iron Horse you rode in on. That’s like saying, “Wall Street is going to find a way to screw us out of our money anyways so we might as well deregulate the whole damned thing.” No, Naysayers, the tar sands oil making it to market is NOT “inevitable.” Answer me this: That “tar sand” has been there for tens of thousands of years. Why now? Why are we suddenly considering using it “now”? Was there a sudden drop in the supply of oil that I’m not aware of? Are we running out of places to drill? Has OPEC suddenly cut back production because oil is suddenly harder to find? No. The reason… the ONLY reason they are suddenly looking at it is because it’s suddenly economically feasible thanks to the Bush Administration driving oil prices into the stratosphere. In the past, converting tar sand into “oil” was just too damned expensive. Now, with $95/barrel oil, suddenly, the process is cost effective. Wanna stop the tar sand’s from being used, GET THE PRICE OF OIL DOWN. And there’s several ways to do it.

  • First off, the most immediate effect would come by cracking down on rampant speculation in the Oil Commodities Market. Bring back the requirement that no one can purchase oil on the open market that doesn’t have a place to take delivery of all that oil they just bought. No more Day-Traders at home in their bathrobes sitting in front of their computers spiking the price of oil to make a quick profit with no consideration for what it may do to the economy. That’ll cut down on wild fluctuations in the market post haste. And knowing that the rules change is coming will convince thousands of Billy Bob’s sitting on loads of Oil Futures to dump their shares, rapidly driving down the price of oil.
     
    Critics might say that if “We” tighten Regulations on Oil Trading, they’ll just do their investing overseas. A few may at first, yes. But when you institute the regulations here in the U.S., that means no brokerage IN the U.S. can handle those trades. A brave few might just start buying their oil from overseas brokers, but most will not. And I guarantee that it WE Regulate it and it makes a dent, most other industrialized nations will quickly follow suit. That’s number 1.
     
  • Second, invest heavily in GREEN energy. Not only do you create jobs this way, but jobs with an actual future. Good paying High-Tech jobs. Jobs where your energy source is unlimited (the tar sands will only last about a dozen years, then what?). Promote technologies that shift us AWAY from fossil fuels (larger tax credits for hybrid cars, solar panels on your roof, insulating your home, etc), thus driving demand… AND oil prices… down even further.
  •  

  • And third, update the electric grid. Did you know that for less than the lifetime cost of just ONE nuclear power plant, we could update our desperately degrading electric grid, conserving as much electricity (wasted in heat and inefficiency) produced by OVER ONE HUNDRED nuclear power plants? And cheaper electricity means fewer people using oil, which (again) drives down oil prices.

As I reported last week, if the price of oil were to fall $30 to just $65/barrel, excavating the tar sands would no longer be cost efficient. And arguably, I don’t see the U.S. refining tar sand for China. If they want it, they are going to have to ship it someplace else to refine it. Suddenly, we’re not looking at $65/barrel, you’re looking at more like $75/barrel before it becomes too expensive for a foreign country to try an utilize it.

Ever wonder why CANADA doesn’t just simply refine it THERE in Canada? Why not simply build a refinery there rather than bisect the United States with a 1,800 mile long pipeline to the Gulf? Because they plan to EXPORT that oil once it has been refined. No port, no profit. And as long as oil is in the $75+ range, there’s profit to be made. Get that price down, and all your worries about Keystone go too.

I personally believe that protesters that focus on the catastrophic environmental damage the KXL would do are doing themselves a tremendous disservice. If your target audience is people that don’t believe in “Global Warming” and believe in all the lies they’ve been fed about what an economic boom it would be, you might as well be claiming the KXL kills “Spotted Owls” for all the good it would do. No, you’ve gotta hit them where they live. TELL THEM that it WON’T “create a million jobs” like they’ve been told. TELL THEM that it WON’T lower… but in fact RAISE… the price of gas. TELL THEM that it means an enormous 11-foot deep lake of black toxic sludge the size of Central Park (840 acres) in their backyard blighting the landscape, stinking the air, and lowering their property values. Hit them where they live. And be ready to answer question when they ask you to defend your claims. Because as long as these lies are allowed to persist, they become the truth. “Everyone” was gung-ho to invade Iraq over “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that we were literally guaranteed were there (“slam dunk”). But afterward when the weapons didn’t turn up, suddenly everyone realized they had been lied to for someone else’s personal gain and WE were stuck with the check.

I plan on taking part in a “Stop the Keystone XL pipeline” protest this Saturday, and I hope to create some nice “ready-to-print” signs that I can distribute in file format to fellow protesters. If I do, I’ll be sure to post them here on M.R.S. for free download sometime this week.
 


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Apathy Latest Enemy In Fighting Keystone XL Pipeline
Feb 3rd, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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Back in April of 2011, I wrote a lengthy post detailing all the misconceptions, deceptions and outright lies being spread by supporters of the “Keystone XL” pipeline. It was popular and important enough that I gave that post its own page, linked from the Top Menu above. Quite literally, EVERY benefit being claimed about the pipeline is complete & utter nonsense: a million new jobs, lower gas prices, and energy independence with minimal impact on the environment. All of it, total bullshit (read my report for details.) In March of last year, the U.S. State Dept declared that they believed the pipeline would have a “negligible” impact on the environment (based on a report prepared for them by people working for TransCanada), which I reported on at the time. Last week, the State Dept released its follow-up report on the environmental impact of the KXL, declaring their belief that it would in fact have “minimal impact”, giving President Obama cover should he decide to approve the final/key leg of the pipeline, extending it up to the Alberta Tarsands itself. Critics of opponents like me think the only reason we oppose the KXL is because of its impact on “Global Warming”… which they deny anyway, so we’re easy to dismiss. We’re just a bunch of squishes that “over-react” when it comes to the Environment. Well, as I pointed out in my post last year, even if you don’t believe in Climate Change, there are plenty of other reasons to oppose the KXL. Few jobs (would you believe fewer than FIFTY permanent jobs?), HIGHER (not “lower”) gas prices, and other environmental hazards like incredibly frequent massive spills of thick gooey tar (292 in North Dakota alone in less than two years) that are next to impossible to clean up. They say “pipeline technology has improved” to the point where such spills are rare. Since when? How long must we go without a pipeline rupturing that we can start calling them “rare”? Because last I checked, we haven’t gone a full 7-months yet without a pipeline leaking tens of thousands of gallons of oil somewhere in the United States.

The State Department report is rubbish. It has already been revealed, once again, that “consultants” hired to write the report were lobbyist for a trade group linked to TransCanada (owners of the pipeline). And their “conclusion” that the pipeline would have a negligible impact is based on the enormously questionable belief that if the pipeline were not built, the “oil” would just be “shipped by rail”, getting out into the market anyway (meaning the “pipeline” would have little impact, not the oil). Not only does rail not move as much product (I’m not calling it “oil” because it’s not. It’s a thick mud called “bitumen”) as a pipeline would, but as The Washington Post points out, if the price of oil falls to roughly $70/barrel, shipping by rail is no longer cost efficient. And if the price of oil falls below $65/barrel, it doesn’t matter how it’s transported, it’ll be cheaper just to leave the tar-sand in the ground. So the assumption that “we might as well just transport it by pipeline since it’s going to be delivered one way or another” is questionable at best.

I don’t like the fact that opposition to the KXL seems to have waned in the Progressive Media as of late. I hear Progressives talk about the KXL almost with a sense of futility that it’s going to happen eventually no matter what. We’ve been talking about this pipeline “for years now” and nothing bad has happened “so far” so maybe the criticism was overblown? “Nothing” has happened “so far” because it hasn’t been built! It reminds me of critics of health care reform blaming “Obamacare” for things that happened before it went into effect. Progressive radio host Ed Schultz… who has been on my shit-list ever since he spent an entire show in 2009 defending dog-killer Michael Vick’s right to earn millions of dollars playing football the same day Blue-dog “Democrat” Max Baucus (D-MT) announced that he would be siding with the GOP to deny Democrats a 60-vote Super Majority if the Health Care Reform bill included a Public Option… stated on his show last Thursday that he “supports” the KXL pipeline and “thinks it should be done” (then spent Friday’s show talking about the Super Bowl). Bye-bye, Ed. I’m done with you. I suggest you find a new job as a sportscaster, since that seems to be where your interests really lie.

Here are some new photos, and a video clip, to go with my earlier reports on the Keystone XL pipeline:

Tailing pond pipe in Alberta, Canada
Tailing pond pipe
 

Tailing pond with pipes (left)
Tailing pond, Alberta
 

Tailing pond dwarfs rig
Tailing pond, Alberta
 

Oil sands, Canada
Oil sands, Canada
 

Mildred Lake, tailing pond
Mildred Lake
 

Pipes in Sudbury tailing pond
Sudbury tailing pond
 

More pipes
Tailing pond pipes
 

Tarsands oil contains 17% more carbon than conventional crude oil.
17percent more emissions
 

More Alberta tarsands
Alberta tarsands
 

More Alberta tarsands
Alberta tarsands
 

More Alberta tarsands
Alberta tarsands
 

Closeup of tailing pond:
Tailing pond

All of these tailing pipes gush toxic waste 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
Gusher
 

Video clip showing that gushing pipe in action (11sec)


So I’m posting this brief reminder/update on the Keystone XL Pipeline before I hear any more foolishness about the “futility” in fighting a pipeline that seems to be inevitable. That’s how they win, by wearing us down. They have deep pockets to drag this out for as long as they need until they lull us into believing, “Smoking’s good for you. Never mind the “licorice smell in your water, West Virginia. Oh, and the check is in the mail.”

Starting on February 5th, the State Department will begin an “open commenting period” of just 30 days allowing people to write them in opposition/support of the Keystone XL pipeline. Be sure to make your voice heard (don’t contact them before the 5th or risk having your message ignored.)
 


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Good Economic News Despite Shutdown? Thank low gas prices
Dec 9th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy

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It’s a point I’ve been making for years: Gas Prices have THE MOST direct impact on the economy than any other factor. When gas prices go up, consumers have less money to spend elsewhere. In addition, the costs of production go up, as does the price of shipping those goods to market. So not only do you have less money to spend, but you’re buying fewer products because the prices have all gone up as well. And when companies sell fewer products, they need fewer employees to MAKE those products… starting a vicious cycle. It would be bad enough if the cost of fuel was the only negative impact, but unlike higher prices for DOMESTIC products where at least the money stays in the United States, most “petro dollars” go overseas and stay there rather than be recycled back into the American economy. The Economic Collapse of 2008 (under two Texas oilmen Bush & Cheney who pined for the days of $50/barrel oil during the 70’s “energy crisis”) can be traced straight back to the invasion of Iraq and the resulting skyrocketing price of oil & gas (and you thought “Mission Accomplished” was about the end of war in Iraq. Silly you.) This past week brought a bevy of sorely needed good economic news to the Obama Administration. Unemployment fell to just 7.0 percenta full 1.3 points in just the past 16 months (and NOT because of people dropping out the workforce.) Jobless claims plunged to 298,000 and the number of layoffs declined. Even before these positive jobs numbers, the Stock Market also hit a new record high last month as well. And it all happened at a time when everyone expected BAD economic consequences following the Government Shutdown last October and Republican catcalls over the “job-killing” implementation of “Obamacare”. What’s the reason for all this positive economic news in spite of everything Republicans did to derail the economy? Lower gas prices thanks to positive news on the diplomatic front in the Middle East… first with avoiding war with Syria and then the nuclear deal with Iran. So while everyone else is running around scratching their heads trying to figure out “just what went right” for the economy to improve despite all the attempts to sabotage it by the GOP these last two months, know this: Nothing demonstrates better how closely tied our economy is to Energy, and how developing a Green Energy Industry would promote economic growth.

Remember all the Wingnuts complaining about Obama bowing?

On ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday, the chronically incredulous Mary Matalin (wife of James Carville) dismissed the good economic news by saying, “This is the worst economic recovery in seven decades!” I responded on Facebook (where I live-blog the network Sunday Shows each week):

Mary Matalin on #ThisWeek says this is “the worst recovery in 7 decades”. It’s also the most partisan obstructive GOP in 7 decades. Coincidence?

Please note that even President Obama’s worst critics must admit that the economy is in “recovery” and not getting worse. In the third quarter on this year, the economy grew at a rate of 3.6%, well above estimates. The Bush Administration used to “brag” incessantly about “52 months of consecutive private sector job growth” just prior to The Great Recession (a streak the Obama Administration will surpass next May). But the economy was astoundingly weak that entire time (and if this chart is to be believed, the growth rate never broke 0.7% during the entire Bush presidency.) They can’t claim President Obama’s economic policies are making the economy “worse”, and lord knows if it were, they’d be blaming yet-to-have-gone-into-effect “Obamacare”. You KNOW that if this latest jobs report had been bad, Republicans would NOT have blamed their Shutdown of the Federal government in October, no, they would have claimed “Corporations and Small businesses aren’t hiring out of concern over ‘Obamacare’ being implemented on January 1st!” You KNOW they would have said that.

But instead all they can do is scratch their heads and wonder, “Just what do we have to do to stop this guy?”

So now we know the secret on how to grow an economy. And the irony is, it’s not too different from the Republican dogma on how “tax cuts” are supposed to be a panacea for economic growth. Conservatives believe that “cutting taxes leaves more money in people’s pockets so they can go out and buy stuff, sparking the economy.” That’s their entire ideology in a nutshell. The problem with that is that the people paying the most in taxes don’t need more money just to buy stuff. Tax cuts help only a very small percentage of the population. If you’re extremely poor, you’re not paying any taxes anyway. The Wealthy don’t “buy more stuff”, and business expenses like “equipment” and “hiring more employees” are ALREADY tax deductible, so “tax cuts” are a horrible way to promote economic growth. Republicans love to say, “poor people don’t create jobs.” My response has always been, “Really? Ask Wal*Mart if poor people create jobs.” The Walton Family is the wealthiest family in the nation, with SIX family members on the Forbes-400 list of wealthiest people in the world. Trust me, that money didn’t come from selling cheap crap to The Rich. Another sad irony is the fact that plenty of clueless low-income Teanuts probably voted for these Cretins, creating THEIR jobs. But government jobs apparently don’t count.

But lower gas prices affect EVERYBODY, and benefits The Working Class FAR more than “tax cuts” for a fraction of a fraction of the population. Cheap energy is like a “tax cut” for the poor, and a FAR more direct stimulus for the economy. Sen. Rand Paul (Wingnut-KY) was on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday where he proposed “Economic Freedom Zones” (don’tcha just love the Orwellian Double-speak?) in economically depressed cities like Detroit where everybody would pay a FIVE PERCENT FLAT TAX. This is the height of Conservative arrogance and the epitome of Libertarian cluelessness. The idea that wildly plunging the tax rate on corporations and the very wealthy will be offset by raising taxes on the extremely poor. Because what rich person wouldn’t want to move to a slum where the tax rate is just 5-percent? Of course, we know Paul’s thinking is that if the tax rate were just 5-percent, businesses will use that savings to “hire more people”. But as I already pointed out, hiring people is already taxed at ZERO, so this would INCREASE the cost of hiring new employees. And for some inexplicable reason, Republicans just can’t seem to figure out that DEMAND drives hiring. It doesn’t matter how low you cut a company’s taxes, if there’s no demand, they are not going to hire more employees. They just can’t get this simple fact through their thick skulls.

Locally, gas is still selling for under $3.00/gallon. It’s the holiday season, so people are already out spending more money now than any other time of year. And this year, because of lower gas prices, more of that money is being spent here at home. And it’s having a direct stimulative effect on the economy. There’s no denying it. One can only wonder how the economy might have done last month had it not been for GOP obstructionism, the Shutdown and yet another round of manufactured fiscal crisis.

Oh, and just a reminder, the 90-day budget deal to end the Shutdown and reopen the government expires in January. Do you think the GOP has learned their lesson? Is The Pope Jewish?
 


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Iran Deal Underscores Need to Abandon Nuclear Energy as a Power Source
Nov 25th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy

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Nearly two years ago, I wrote about how the GOP presidential candidates were saber-rattling over “Iran’s nuclear program”, completely devoid of any self awareness as they simultaneously complained about rising gas prices without connecting the two events… not now, not in the eight years it was happening under President Bush (side note: gas prices have been steadily falling for months, dropping to a national average of just $3.19/gal last week and for me locally as low as $2.75/gal. You have to go back to November of 2010 when we were still shaking off the last vestiges of The Great Recession to find the last time gas prices were that low). The first treaty between the U.S. and Iran in nearly 35 years is both amazing and historic. And if it were not for our continued/pointless war in Afghanistan and recent reports that we might still be there for another decade, I’d be first in line to nominate President Obama for a second Nobel Peace Prize. He ended the war in Iraq, ousted Kadaffi without sending in a single troop, got Syria to (first admit and then) give up their chemical weapons without resorting to force, and now the first treaty of ANY kind with Iran in over a third of a century let alone one to start the ball rolling on nuclear disarmament. Criticism from The Right on whether or not this is a good deal sounds remarkably similar to their arguments against ObamaCare: “It doesn’t solve the problem 100 percent” to everyone’s satisfaction, and therefore anything short of “perfection” means the entire thing must be scrapped. But my problem with the Iranian deal isn’t that it doesn’t stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. My problem is that we don’t have a leg to stand on to stop Iran from developing so-called “peaceful” nuclear power (that the hawks believe could be misused in the future) so long as we continue to believe there is such a thing as “good” nuclear power. I’ve said this many times before: NUCLEAR POWER ISN’T GREEN. We should be PHASING OUT our use of nuclear energy. And it would be infinitely easier to tell Iran “no nuclear development of ANY kind. Period” if we ourselves didn’t continue to believe there is such a thing as “good” nuclear energy.

The nuclear energy industry has been quite successful at convincing the world that nuclear power is “green”. “No smokestacks! No carbon! Doesn’t promote Global Warming! See! It’s great for the environment!” There is an enormous (and dangerous) misconception that nuclear energy is “clean” simply because it does not emit greenhouse gasses.

“Air” pollution is but one of many types of pollution we should concern ourselves with. And while nuclear power plants don’t pollute the air like coal-fired plants do, they (as you know) produce tens of thousands of barrels of nuclear waste-water in their lifetime (typically a mere 20-30 years), and “cooling” of the reactors requires Millions of gallons of cold water. The heat they produce is then pumped back into rivers & streams where it kills the fish and aquatic plant-life. In essence, you are trading off a power plant that emits one form of pollution for a plant that emits TWO. Add to that the mining of uranium… a finite energy source not unlike the coal or oil used in fossil-fuel powered power plants. Nuclear power is not “renewable”… the hallmark of “green” energy.

Consider that if the ancient Egyptians had used nuclear power 5,000 years ago, we would STILL be dealing with their nuclear waste today and for another 10,000 years, all so they could enjoy 30 years worth of electricity five millennia ago.

Wind, Solar, Tidal & Geothermal are ALL 100% POLLUTION FREE ways of generating enormous amounts of power upon which we should be concentrating all our resources.

$11 Billion to build one plant. 20-40 years of useful life at a cost of $1.5-3 Billion per year just to operate. 150 YEARS to decommission one plant at a cost of another $3-6 billion/yr. Best case costs for one plant (20 years+150 years to decommission): $491 Billion dollars. Worst case costs (40 years+150 years to decommission): $1.3 TRILLION dollars (or over $84 per kWh). Check your electric bill. Does eighty-four bucks an hour sound like a bargain to you? (I currently pay 11.4cents per kWh.) And neither of those price tags take into account the cost of another nuclear disaster like Fukashima.

It takes ELEVEN YEARS of nuclear power generation to counter the air pollution created in the construction of the plant and the mining of the ore used in it. And nuclear power plants are also a prime terrorist target. We should be getting RID of the ones we have, not building more… let alone encouraging countries like Iran to get into the business.

And ask the fishermen off the coast of New Orleans following the BP disaster if they’d rather be fishermen off the coast of Fukashima.

Nuclear War & Peace

Then there are other concerns. Saudi Arabia is likewise terrified of a nuclear armed Iran tipping the balance of power in the region. Might this provoke Saudi Arabia into starting a nuclear program of their own? How do we tell an ally that they can’t go nuclear after allowing Iran to? Could this be the start of a nuclear arms race in the very heart THE most unstable region of the world today?

As long as we continue this absurd belief that there is such a thing as “good” nuclear energy, how do we tell Iran that’s it’s not okay to pursue nuclear energy without the concern that that technology might be misused? It would be SO MUCH easier if we could simply say to Iran, “No nuclear power of ANY kind. Period. We’re are in the process of getting RID of our OWN nuclear power-plants, not building more.” If, after Fukashima, the Iran Treaty doesn’t underscore how much easier our lives would be without nukes, nothing will.

 

THANKSGIVING ASIDE DISH

Over the past few weeks, we’ve learned that a number of major retail outlets will be open Thanksgiving Day, forcing their employees to work rather than spend the holiday with their families. The silence from the “War on Christmas” crowd has been deafening. No protests of greedy corporations having no respect for “families” or the holiday season. And if you don’t think “Thanksgiving” is a religious holiday, ask yourself just WHO are you supposed to be “thanking”?

The Rachel Maddow Show last week reported on all the employees that are being forced to work on Thanksgiving, including the story of an Ohio Wal*Mart putting donation bins out for co-workers to donate food to fellow employees… people that work for a living and yet might otherwise go hungry this holiday:
 


If you had any question just how disingenuous the whole Right-Wing “War on Christmas” outrage is, look no further.

 


 

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10th Anniversary of the Iraq War, the Price of Gas, and the Mess We’re In Today
Mar 18th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy

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Iraqi alSamoud missiles on way to being destroyed. (Feb 2003)Tuesday marks the tenth anniversary of the saddest chapter of the George W. Bush presidency. Every disaster to follow… to this day… can be traced back to that decision to invade a relatively unarmed nation that had not attacked us, under the false pretense of “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Our exploding National Debt, our decimated economy (from gas prices that led to the mortgage crisis that led to the Wall Street bailout), to even our muted response to North Korea’s latest reckless provocation. It all goes back to the decision to invade Iraq. So on this inauspicious anniversary, we should pause for a moment to reflect on how it all ties in.

It all began, incredibly enough, back in April of 1993 when Former President George H.W. Bush (“Bush-41”), fresh off his reelection defeat to Bill Clinton, traveled to Kuwait to bask in his “greatest achievement” as president: Winning the “Gulf War” and kicking Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait (after we basically gave him the green light to do so). While in Kuwait, a plot to assassinate the former president by Saddam’s military was uncovered and thwarted. Newly sworn-in President Clinton responded by launching a missile strike on the HQ of Iraqi Intelligence, but that wasn’t enough for Bush’s son, “George W”, who never forgave… nor forgot… the attempt on his father’s life.

A group of Right Wing pro-military extremists… few of which had actually ever served in the military… calling themselves “Neo-Conservatives” (“neocons” for short) formed a group called “Project for a New American Century” (“PNAC”) and repeatedly urged President Clinton to overthrow Saddam Hussein… a dictator that was in charge of the world’s fourth largest oil reserves, on the grounds he was developing “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (most notably Sarin nerve gas.) President Clinton did in fact take the bait several times, first launching a missile strike against what was believed to be an Iraqi “chemical weapons plant” in Sudan in August of 1998 that turned out to be nothing more than a pharmaceutical company making generic Tylenol for export to Iraq (in a program approved by the U.N.) and then again in December 1998 in response to Saddam’s continued refusal to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott called the timing of the strike on Iraq “suspect” and “cursory”… “an effort by President Clinton to distract Americans from his pending impeachment.” After both strikes failed to turn up any evidence of WMD’s, the Clinton Administration never again claimed Saddam Hussein currently possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (sans one remark by Sec. Albright in 1999 noting that UN monitors “had yet to verify” Saddam had been disarmed, and another mention in September of 2000 of not wanting Iraq to “reconstitute” its [defunct] WMD program.)

Why was Saddam refusing to cooperate with weapons inspectors when he had no weapons?

Shortly after his execution, Saddam’s closest American confidant while in captivity revealed that the Iraqi dictator admitted, “I lied about WMD’s to scare off Iran”… the country he had been at war with for eight years. If Iran knew that following the 1991 Gulf War he had been left defenseless, Iran would invade. If the U.S. believed he had WMD’s, so would the Iranians. Little did he realize he had more to fear from gullible American Neo-cons than he did from Iran.

It wasn’t until Texas Governor George W. Bush entered the Presidential race in February of 2000 that anyone started claiming Iraq “still possessed” and might be actively pursuing WMD’s.

Two Texas oilmen, George Bush & Dick Cheney, took office planning the invasion of Iraq & overthrow of Saddam Hussein “from Day One”. So single-minded focused on Iraq was he, Bush “ignored” the threat of alQaeda, despite multiple recent bombings including the attack on the USS Cole less than one month before the election.

Rather than go into the weeds regarding all the warnings President Bush ignored prior to 9/11, I’ll simply refer you to this NYT article. Worthy of note:
 

“[N]eoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled [re: warnings of a stateside attack by alQaeda]; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat.”

 
Moving on…

The Bush Administration started cooking up a reason to invade Iraq from day one, but “9/11” helped seal the deal, praying on the fears of a panic-stricken populace with daily warnings of another looming attack on the “homeland”. It didn’t matter that prior to “9/11”, President Bush’s own Secretary of State and National Security Adviser (Colin “Slideshow” Powell and Condi “Mushroom Cloud” Rice respectively) had already spent the preceding year reassuring people that Saddam had been “disarmed” and “no longer a threat”:
 


 
Barely two years in office, with the war in Afghanistan still going on and the economy in the toilet, people were asking if we could even afford to start a second war. The Bush Administration worked overtime to allay fears that the invasion of Iraq would not only “pay for itself” but possibly even turn a profit as the price of oil plunged from the heady highs of $30+ dollars a barrel to a more reasonable $18 dollars/barrel once Saddam was no longer in control of all that luscious oil (reminder, five years later, oil was hitting a then unimaginable high of $145/barrel, and still hovers close to $100 to this day.) “No blood for oil!” the people cried. “Blood for oil?”, asked the Bushies perplexed. Why on Earth would anyone think Operation Iraqi Liberation” had anything to do with “oil”?

Current TV’s John Fugelsang recalled last week how much the war that was promised “to pay for itself in Iraqi oil revenues” actually ended up costing us (roughly $1-TRILLION dollars… not counting the economic catastrophe, the loss of over 4,000 American troops, or the future cost of caring for our wounded warriors:
 

Fugelsang on Iraq War cost:

 
Finally on the evening on March 19th, 2003 (just after midnight, March 20th Baghdad time), despite months of unimpeded UN weapons inspections, Bush gave the order to invade Iraq. Between 9/11/01 and 3/20/03, the price of oil barely fluctuated from its close of $28.03/barrel on September 8, 2001 to $29.88/barrel on March 20, 2003. Yet one year after “Mission Accomplished”, oil closed at $40/barrel after the Energy Department warned in April of 2004 that oil was likely to hit the lofty height of $51/barrel by 2025. Oil broke that “distant future 2025” price by September. And you thought “Mission Accomplished” had something to do with the end of the war. Silly you.
 

 
As I described in detail about a year ago, the rising price of gasoline meant people had less money to spend elsewhere. And when people aren’t buying, companies need fewer employees, causing the economy to contract even more. To make matters worse, a deregulated banking industry took advantage of interest rates being cut to the bone after 9/11, and continued to rate “mortgaged backed securities” as “AAA” even after newly unemployed Americans were defaulting on their Adjustable Rate Mortgages left & right as rates started to spike. Suddenly, the Bush Administration was faced with having to bailout Wall Street to the tune of $700 BILLION dollars… or about 40 percent MORE than the ENTIRE 2008 Federal Deficit. As a result, the Deficit exploded from just $459 Billion in 2008 to over $1.4 Trillion in 2009 (both budgets written by the Bush Administration as a “fiscal year” stretches from October 1st to September 30th.)

So the Obama Administration took office after being handed a $1.4T Deficit. With the Bailout behind them, the next Deficit would only be around $500-Billion, but in May, “The Stimulus” added back $787-Billion to the Deficit for 2010. The following year, it was revealed that for the past seven years, the Bush Administration had been running two wars “off the books” funded entirely with “Emergency Supplementals” (PDF). In late 2010, despite the 2008 Wall Street bailout being behind us and the 2009 “Stimulus” over & done with, the wars were put on the books and the Deficit remained at the “over $1 Trillion” level until just this year with the latest budget coming in just under the $1T mark. And just as the Market was trained to accept $100 oil as “the new normal”, so will military spending in the hundreds of billions become commonplace even after the war in Afghanistan is over.

And here we are. Happy 10th Anniversary Everybody!
 

The Neocons that brought us Iraq

Now go put some air in your tires and cheat the oil companies out of a few bucks.
 


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