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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Energy Independence 

Brazil, like the United States, is a New World country rich in natural resources and home to more than 150 million people. The difference? Brazil is energy independent...

Brazil's sugarcane industry produces about 160,000 barrels of oil-equivalent a day, assisting the country in achieving self-sufficiency in oil sometime this year, notes PESD program director David G. Victor in February 2, 2006 New York Times article. Still, unlike Japan and China, which have plans to import Brazilian ethanol, the Bush administration has retained a 54 cent tariff on every gallon of imported ethanol.

Can the US, with a dying Great Plains (all of the poorest counties in the US are in Nebraska and Kansas--that's right, not in Missisipppi or West Virginia), grow its fuel? With the rich supplies of wind, sunlight and glacier-deposited topsoil suitable for growing oil-producing plants, one would think so!

Of course, a short-term step to reduce the crush of oil importation on the tottering US economy is to improve gas mileage:

Perhaps the most significant step the nation could take in reducing oil dependence is to change the way cars are produced, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy research organization that has consulted for the Department of Defense. Automobiles, for instance, use about 9 million barrels of the 20 million barrels or so of oil that the United States consumes each day. Trucks, heavy machinery and some power plants consume the rest.

Still we start to see a healthier discussion of alternative energy:

Ethanol, for instance, could be made from materials in addition to corn, like switch grass, a kind of grass that grows abundantly on the prairies of the Plains." Ethanol is mandating additional diversity to the pool of motor fuels," said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "The definition of oil is being widened."

Indeed, it must be. Engines turnover roughly every decade. Let's also start looking into new combustion chambers that can run on less refined oils.

But, as Paul Roberts in "The End of Oil" noted, one cannot go into this blindly. There is $10 trillion worth of infrastructural asset inertia in the oil industry, and of course any move to reduce the price of oil will hurt the powerful (and imperial, under the current Administration) US oil industry:

High oil prices enable companies in these costly areas to compete with a nation like Saudi Arabia, where it costs less than $5 a barrel to produce oil. That also helps explain why divorcing an economy from a reliance on imported oil can be painful, as Brazil's early experiments with ethanol showed when the government was forced to absorb losses from the program.

Still, steps must be taken, and looking at the Great Plains as an alternative fuel test ground is obvious: without doing so, the US is rotten at the core. Besides, making the Saudis earn less for oil they can so readily produce beats continuing to pay them at the $75/barrel rate, right? Every dollar less that goes to the Saudis is a win for freedom and equal rights lovers everywhere.

-Vulf

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

It's all about gasoline prices...!? 

Bush's ratings have now plummeted to a new low...31%...according to a NY Times/CBS poll.

Americans have a bleaker view of the country's direction than at any time in more than two decades, and sharp disapproval of President Bush's handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq to create a grim political environment for the White House and Congressional Republicans, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Sharp disapproval of...gasoline prices? Of all things...selling the country lock, stock and barrel to China; re-starting the Cold War with Russia and China; no WMDs; Dubya-sponsored institutionalized torture; a healthcare system twice as expensive, yet less effective, than Britain's; the worst defict ever; Halliburton and others benefitting from no-bid thefts; Gannongate; the list goes on and on.

But Americans are in uproar over stinkin' gasoline prices!?!

Don't get me wrong. The direction of Bush's approval ratings is correct, and at current pace should hit the rock-bottom 20% (20% of Americans, as we've argued in the past here on The Bite, are psychopathic Republicans--another 10%-15% are "psychopathic" Dems, too). But gasoline prices are a main reason? You've got to be kidding me. He can artificially control these by releasing the Strategic Reserve or selling California to the Saudis on Halloween. And this type of political manipulation (see "Bush is Wired", "Osama releases a tape in time for the 2004 Prez election", "Fox News", etc.) is certainly not beyond him.

Wake up Americans. Gasoline prices? That's like getting mad about having broken your watch when you fell from a six-story window. You've got other problems, people. You with me? Repeat after me: The Dems did not make the mistake of underestimating the intelligence of the American people. They overestimated it by responding to this fictitious diatribe. [Most] Americans are fat, smug, lazy and/or egregiously uninformed, and it's not limited to Bush fans, it's a nationwide celebration of mental indolence and self-satisfaction.

But I digress. The article says support of the war has most hurt Bush, but at 39% approval I think the article self-contradicts; viz.:

Just 13 percent approved of Mr. Bush's handling of rising gas prices. Only one-quarter said they approved of his handling of immigration, as Congressional Republicans struggle to come up with a compromise to deal with the influx of illegal immigrants into the country. The poll showed a continued decline in support for the war, the issue that has most eaten into Mr. Bush's public support. The percentage of respondents who said going to war in Iraq was the correct decision slipped to a new low of 39 percent, down from 47 percent in January. Two-thirds said they have little or no confidence that Mr. Bush will be able to successfully end the war there.

13 approve of his handling of gas prices? Seems to me to be his lowest number. He has now gone where no president save Nixon (a lying sack of garbage, but at least competent on some levels) and Carter (a great man, a weak and ineffectual President) have gone before. Seems to me the bottom hasn't dropped out yet, though. Die-hard Republicans can find nice things to say about Nixon that make some sense, and die-hard Dems can find wonderful things to say about Carter (mainly what he's done since 1981). Who's got something wonderful to say about Dubya? What has he done right?

A Rolling Stone article last month famously speculated he is the worst President ever. At this point, I view that statement as uncontroversial. The real question is, just how bad is he? Santa Anna-bad? Pol Pot-bad? Stalin-bad? One thing's for sure, Bush is a vacuum--he sucks and he's filled to the brim with filth. Time to change the bag.

November = subpoena power. Let's end the disgrace and start trying to repair a dying US. It may be too late, but it certainly is not too late to try.

-Vulf

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