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Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary as VP? Maybe Not...

Head of State: The Reasons That Hillary Should Not Be Vice President

Regarding Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama's running mate.

Originally, this seemed to be a potentially plausible choice--and if presented in the following way, could turn her divisive campaign into a potential coup as a VP candidate. The thinking was the following:

Hillary has run a divisive campaign. Now, just as the nation should mend its divisions in favor a greater unity that would serve the greater needs of our country, so now they would explicitly put these divisions behind them, in the interests of the unity that this nation, after a bitter and divisive Administration, is so in need of. This would serve as a powerful and vibrant example of the very ability to unify that Obama both offers and represents.

However, this would require a candidate that was willing to take such a position of relative shared selflessness in the interests of a greater good--while the Vice Presidency certainly offers its honors (now far beyond the "warm pitcher" of John Vance Garner's famous phrase) and positioning for later Presidential aspirations, such a plan would require the ability to think in terms of a shared effort based on the betterment of the nation, rather than in more grasping, combative and singular terms.

The Clinton camp's behavior over this past week has made such a positive scenario clearly untenable, showcasing the same characteristics that have signified her campaign throughout its long, chaotic, march--its contradictions of previous statements when such changes have a slight possibility of adding a week or two of vitality, its sudden and implausible use of populists guises and specious historical parallels for transparently opportunistic purposes, its near-hallucinogenic transmogrifications of personality and central bases for further continuation, and the central campaign tendency to place personal attainment over virtually all values that lay in its path.

These characteristics--self over nation, positioning over a consistent presentation of position, values and even self, the willingness to put personal viability over the need to transcend and transform the vast wreckage of state and international relations that remain at this critical time--are as present now, at a moment when wisdom rather than a remorseless, obdurate desperation could fill this gap, as they have been throughout much of the campaign. They would continue to make themselves present during a campaign for vice president, complicating, diminishing and often distracting, in trivial internecine battles, the message of unity and change.

Perhaps Clinton could adopt a more unifying and integrated and less grasping position on the VP subject. However, thus far, the actions of the Clinton camp have made it clear: It's time to clean the slate. Hillary Clinton should not be the Vice Presidential candidate.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Peak Oil Analysis... Yay! $4 Gas Is Here!!

More great analysis from our friend, Chris Nelder. Chris tries to break through the persistent denial that we can "drill our way out of the problem."

-Maltok 5

Peak Oil Consequences of Bush's Failed Energy Policies

Illusions of Candor

By Chris Nelder
Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Rising oil prices just seem unstoppable.

Even I was amazed to see crude pushing $130 on Tuesday. Not because it had gotten to that price, but because it got there so fast. That's 30% over where it was at the beginning of the year.

The peakers (or, if you like, the "peak freaks") have won the debate about oil supplies, and it was the price shock that ended it. I'd still prefer that the discussion revolved around flow rates—that is, whether we can really get from 85 million barrels per day (mbpd) today to 116 by 2030, as the IEA has predicted—but I'll settle for not having to see some "expert" on TV predicting that oil is going back to $45, or $25, or whatever, anymore.

At least the message that oil prices are never going back to those levels seems to have gotten through.

Last July, the National Petroleum Council joined the chorus predicting that oil supply would reach 115-120 mbpd by 2030. I lambasted them for it, along with many other knowledgeable observers.

One of those observers was Matthew Simmons, the world's top oil investment banker, who remarked, "We don't have any idea where those reserves are going to come from or how we are going to get them out of the ground. The odds of this ever happening are zero."

Simmons had argued for years that oil was far too cheap, and would soon go into triple digits. He saw $150 oil not too far into the future, and eventually perhaps $300 oil, but in mid-2007, he was widely ridiculed for it.

Well, Simmons was right. He wasn't the only one, either.

Legendary oil investor T. Boone Pickens agreed with Simmons, and placed his bets accordingly, which made him a fortune. Pickens' latest bet is that we'll see $150 oil by the end of this year.

Goldman Sachs is another. They were the only investment bank to correctly predict today's oil prices last year. Their latest prediction? $148 a barrel this year.

I think that's about right. It might even be a bit on the conservative side.

But not everyone in the oil and investing business has had the vision to see the future of oil clearly, or the guts to make such bold predictions.

Unfortunately for America—indeed, for the world—our president, with all of his experience and knowledge of the oil business, has been one of the last to come around.

The Jawbone of an Ass [more]

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More Bee Colonies Lost: This Could Really Muck Things Up

This is an "under the radar screen" type of story that has more major implications to it in the near future than most of our other problems combined.

Bees = Food

No Bees = No Food


-Maltok 5

From CNN:
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A survey of bee health released Tuesday revealed a grim picture, with 36.1 percent of the nation's commercially managed hives lost since last year.

Bees are dying at unsustainable levels, the president of the Apiary Inspectors of America says.

Last year's survey commissioned by the Apiary Inspectors of America found losses of about 32 percent.

As beekeepers travel with their hives this spring to pollinate crops around the country, it's clear the insects are buckling under the weight of new diseases, pesticide drift and old enemies like the parasitic varroa mite, said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, president of the group.

This is the second year the association has measured colony deaths across the country. This means there aren't enough numbers to show a trend, but clearly bees are dying at unsustainable levels and the situation is not improving, said vanEngelsdorp, also a bee expert with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

"For two years in a row, we've sustained a substantial loss," he said. "That's an astonishing number. Imagine if one out of every three cows, or one out of every three chickens, were dying. That would raise a lot of alarm."