Friday, December 28, 2007


This headline on Yahoo News leaped out at me this morning :

Bhutto assassination dashes hopes of democratic change.

This overview epitomizes for me everything that is wrong with the way that our main-stream media presents "news" to the American masses. I don't want to throw dirt on Benazir Bhutto's freshly dug grave, but the last poll numbers I saw before she was murdered showed her with 31% support . She may very well have won a 3-way race, but let's not kid ourselves and make her something she wasn't. In fact this LA Times piece penned by her niece a month ago presents Aunt Benazir in a harsh light. A sample or two:

Perhaps the most bizarre part of this circus has been the hijacking of the democratic cause by my aunt, the twice-disgraced former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. While she was hashing out a deal to share power with Gen. Pervez Musharraf last month, she repeatedly insisted that without her, democracy in Pakistan would be a lost cause. Now that the situation has changed, she's saying that she wants Musharraf to step down and that she'd like to make a deal with his opponents -- but still, she says, she's the savior of democracy.

It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as "Mr. 10%," have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan's treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing.

It seems to me that we Americans want to believe in a singular "great leader" to guide some of the countries we've become entangled with into societies that mimics ours. The problem is that the world is not quite as simple as we'd like it to be. This idea that we expect our leaders and government to keep us safe in an inherently unsafe world is childish at best and is leading us into more longer-term problems.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Front Page Sunday NY Times

I woke up to this article above the fold, right hand side of the paper:

Oil-Rich Nations Use More Energy, Cutting Exports

The first paragraph lays it out pretty well:

The economies of many big oil-exporting countries are growing so fast that their need for energy within their borders is crimping how much they can sell abroad, adding new strains to the global oil market.

I realize this is not the kind of thing that we in our everyone be happy, celebrity and sports crazed society want to contemplate, but we better start. The Vice-President might believe that our way of life is non-negotiable, but without cheap, abundant crude I see the need for a lot of negotiation.

You can't make it any clearer than Amy Myers Jaffe does:

"It is a very serious threat that a lot of major exporters that we count on today for international oil supply are no longer going to be net exporters any more in 5 to 10 years,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, an oil analyst at Rice University.

We in the US are in the process of getting hit with a massive devastating one-two punch and the masses don't even see it coming. Our consumer-centric debt ridden system is trying to get up from a shot to the chin called a credit crunch and will soon have to absorb a left hook in the form of much much higher energy costs, combined with less supply. For a nation that imports 60% or so of its' crude-oil needs I'd say we have some thinking to do.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

They Don't Ring A Bell

I was reminded of the adage, "They don't ring a bell at the top of a bull market," as I browsed through old e-mails and found the article below I'd saved from August 2005. It struck me at the time as perverse and contrary to every financial tenet I held. That's the reason I saved it, I wanted it as a kind of time capsule. The article is worth a read, especially now that we have everyone form the Bush Administration to Hillary Clinton offering schemes to "help" poor borrowers.

Home Equity at Risk

"Mortgages used to be something people strove to pay off. Now they've become income tools, but risky ones, some financial analysts say.

As they happily watch their houses swell in value, Americans are changing their attitudes toward mortgage debt. Increasingly, a home is no longer a nest egg whose equity should never be touched, but a seemingly magical ATM enabling the owner to live it up or just live.

We would have been a little early, but this sure was a sign to either take money off the table, maybe to pay off some of that mortgage debt or even look at potential shorts in financial lenders.

Herb Greenberg's Blog has an excellent post from Mortgage veteran Mark Hanson that should scare us to death. A few highlights:

The bailout we are hearing about for sub-prime borrowers will be the first of many. Sub-prime only represents about 25% of the problem loans out there. What about the second mortgages sitting behind the sub-prime first, for instance? Most have seconds. Why aren’t they bailing those out too? Those rates have risen dramatically over the past few years as the Prime jumped from 4% to 8.25% recently. seconds are primarily based upon the prime rate. One can argue that many sub-prime first mortgages on their own were not a problem for the borrowers but the added burden of the second put on the property many times after-the-fact was too much for the borrower. .....

The ’second mortgage implosion’, ‘Pay-Option implosion’ and ‘Hybrid Intermediate-term ARM implosion’ are all happening simultaneously and about to heat up drastically. Second mortgage liens were done by nearly every large bank in the nation and really heated up in 2005, as first mortgage rates started rising and nobody could benefit from refinancing. This was a way to keep the mortgage money flowing. Second mortgages to 100% of the homes value with no income or asset documentation were among the best sellers at CITI, Wells, WAMU, Chase, National City and Countrywide. We now know these are worthless especially since values have indeed dropped and those who maxed out their liens with a 100% purchase or refi of a second now owe much more than their property is worth...

I find it impossible to see a happy ending to all this. It's why I am long gold and why I believe Jim Sinclair keeps on saying,"This is it"!

Another really scary aspect to all this is that "our leaders" didn't see any of this happening and they have no clue as to what's coming. Please, get your financial house in order.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rich Uncle Pennybags

Amongst the news items of the day was this gem, home sales hitting 8 year lows. Congress is talking about potential bail-outs for the poor mortgage holders who are facing escalating payments soon as their rates are reset. Foreclosures are escalating to unhealthy levels. I think I have to credit Jim Grant of The Grant's Interest Rate Observer for this observation. I think I might have come across it in one of his writings from year ago, but I'm not sure. One of the things that might have kept us out of this mess, both borrower and lender was a remembrance of the basic tenets of the old Parker Brothers Monopoly game.

Take a few minutes and pull out the old Monopoly board and the stack of property deeds. The two most valuable properties on the board, Park Place and Boardwalk sell for $350 and $400 respectively. Here's the lesson however. Let's say you want to mortgage these properties. On each Monopoly deed a Mortgage Value was printed. The Mortgage Value for Boardwalk is $200 and for Park Place $175. No negative-am, 90-100% loan to value here. Real-estate was traditionally understood to be an illiquid, risky asset and banks were hesitant to lend against it. That's why even the most prized Monopoly properties would only get you a 50 % loan to value.

Borrowers and lenders would both be much better off today if they had only adhered to these same principles. The game dates back to the early 1900's. It's true, there really is nothing new under the sun--- we should have paid attention.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Murder in Baghdad?

Every now and then I come across an article that is so disturbing that I want to make sure I don't forget it. That happened this morning as I browsed the NY Times. This piece by James Glanz and Allison Rubin made me sick. Imagine if this sort of thing happened on an American street in a major urban center.

From Errand to Fatal Shot to Hail of Fire to 17 Deaths
Published: October 3, 2007

BAGHDAD, Oct. 2 — It started out as a family errand: Ahmed Haithem Ahmed was driving his mother, Mohassin, to pick up his father from the hospital where he worked as a pathologist. As they approached Nisour Square at midday on Sept. 16, they did not know that a bomb had gone off nearby or that a convoy of four armored vehicles carrying Blackwater guards armed with automatic rifles was approaching.
Moments later a bullet tore through Mr. Ahmed’s head, he slumped, and the car rolled forward. Then Blackwater guards responded with a barrage of gunfire and explosive weapons, leaving 17 dead and 24 wounded — a higher toll than previously thought, according to Iraqi investigators.
Interviews with 12 Iraqi witnesses, several Iraqi investigators and an American official familiar with an American investigation of the shootings offer new insights into the gravity of the episode in Nisour Square. And they are difficult to square with the explanation offered initially by Blackwater officials that their guards were responding proportionately to an attack on the streets around the square.

The new details include these:
¶A deadly cascade of events began when a single bullet apparently fired by a Blackwater guard killed an Iraqi man whose weight probably remained on the accelerator and propelled the car forward as the passenger, the man’s mother, clutched him and screamed.
¶The car continued to roll toward the convoy, which responded with an intense barrage of gunfire in several directions, striking Iraqis who were desperately trying to flee.
¶Minutes after that shooting stopped, a Blackwater convoy — possibly the same one — moved north from the square and opened fire on another line of traffic a few hundred yards away, in a previously unreported separate shooting, investigators and several witnesses say.

But questions emerge from accounts of the earliest moments of the shooting in Nisour Square.

The car in which the first people were killed did not begin to closely approach the Blackwater convoy until the Iraqi driver had been shot in the head and lost control of his vehicle. Not one witness heard or saw any gunfire coming from Iraqis around the square. And following a short initial burst of bullets, the Blackwater guards unleashed an overwhelming barrage of gunfire even as Iraqis were turning their cars around and attempting to flee.

As the gunfire continued, at least one of the Blackwater guards began screaming, “No! No! No!” and gesturing to his colleagues to stop shooting, according to an Iraqi lawyer who was stuck in traffic and was shot in the back as he tried to flee. The account of the struggle among the Blackwater guards corroborates preliminary findings of the American investigation.
Still, while the series of events pieced together by the Iraqis may be correct, important elements could still be missing from that account, according to the American official familiar with the continuing American investigation into the shootings.

Among the questions still to be answered, the official said, is whether at any time nearby Iraqi security forces began firing, possibly leading the Blackwater convoy to believe it was under attack and therefore justified in returning fire. It is also possible that as the car kept rolling toward the intersection, the Blackwater guards believed it posed a threat and intensified their shooting.

Blackwater has said that its guards were fired upon and responded appropriately.
Witnesses close to the places where most of the Iraqi civilians were killed directly facing the Blackwater convoy on the southern rim of the square all give a relatively consistent picture of how events began and unfolded.

The Blackwater convoy was in the square to control traffic for a second convoy that was approaching from the south. The second convoy was bringing diplomats who had been evacuated from a meeting after a bomb went off near the compound where the meeting was taking place. That convoy had not arrived at the square by the time the shooting started.
The events in the square began with a short burst of bullets that witnesses described as unprovoked. A traffic policeman standing at the edge of the square, Sarhan Thiab, saw that a young man in a car had been hit. In the line of traffic, that car was the third vehicle from the intersection where the convoy had positioned itself.

“We tried to help him,” Mr. Thiab said. “I saw the left side of his head was destroyed and his mother was crying out: ‘My son, my son. Help me, help me.’”

Another traffic policeman rushed to the driver’s side to try to get her son out of the car, but the car was still rolling forward because her son had lost control, according to a taxi driver close by who gave his name as Abu Mariam (“father of Mariam”).

Then Blackwater guards opened fire with a barrage of bullets, according to the police and numerous witnesses. Mr. Ahmed’s father later counted 40 bullet holes in the car. His mother, Mohassin Kadhim, appears to have been shot to death as she cradled her son in her arms. Moments later the car caught fire after the Blackwater guards fired a type of grenade into the vehicle.

The taxi driver was a few feet ahead of Mrs. Kadhim’s car when he heard the first gunshots. He was aware of cars behind him trying to back out of the street or turn around and drive away from the square. He tried frantically to turn his car, but ran into the curb.

Unable to escape, he pulled himself over to the passenger side, which was the one not facing the square, opened the door and crawled out, flattening his body to the ground.
“The dust from the street was coming in my mouth and as I pulled myself out of the area, my left leg was shot by a bullet,” he said.

Accounts in the initial days after the event described Mrs. Kadhim as holding a baby in her arms. It now appears that those accounts were based on assumptions that the charred remains of Mrs. Kadhim’s son were mistaken for an infant.
By then cars were struggling to get out of the line of fire, and many people were abandoning their vehicles altogether. The scene turned hellish.
“The shooting started like rain; everyone escaped his car,” said Fareed Walid Hassan, a truck driver who hauls goods in his Hyundai minibus.
He saw a woman dragging her child. “He was around 10 or 11,” he said. “He was dead. She was pulling him by one hand to get him away. She hoped that he was still alive.”
As the shooting started in earnest Jabber Salman, a lawyer on his way to the Ministry of Justice for a noon meeting, described people crying and shouting. “Some people were trying to escape by crawling,” he said. “Some people were killed in front of me.”
As Mr. Salman tried to drive away from the shooting, bullets came one after another through his rear windshield, hitting his neck, shoulders, left forearm and lower back. “I thought, ‘I’m sorry they are going to kill me and I can do nothing.’”

Iraqi investigators believe that during the shooting Blackwater helicopters flew overhead and fired into the cars from above. They say that at least one the car roofs had bullets through them. Blackwater has denied that its helicopters discharged any weapons.
Minutes after the first shootings, a Blackwater convoy arrived at the other side of the square, where civilian traffic was also backed up, and shot into cars, according to an Iraqi official who is a member of the investigation committee set up by the Iraqi government.
“I found three people from that incident in Khadimiya hospital,” the Iraqi official said. “One died and two were injured. Why is the private security shooting again in this area?”
Two weeks after the events that claimed the life of Mrs. Kadhim and her son, her husband, Haithem Ahmed, her daughter Mariam and her younger son, Haider, are still bewildered.

“My son was very gentle, very clever,” Mr. Ahmed said, looking down at the floor of the police investigation center where he had come to give more details at the request of Iraqi investigators. “He was easy to be around. He planned to be a surgeon.”

“She is a beautiful woman,” he said of his wife, speaking as if she were still alive.
Then he looked at a picture of his son, captured on a memorial video made by a friend and stored on Haider’s cellphone camera. Seeming to forget there was anyone else in the room, he spoke to the video image.
“I am waiting to meet you in paradise,” he said.

Qais Mizher contributed reporting

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Here we go again!

Over the last few days our media has gone out of its collective way to throw sticks and stones at the visiting Iranian President Ahmadinejad . A couple examples: the NY Daily News leading with the headline "The Evil Has Landed" or FOX News' Greg Gutfeld referring to him as " the foul-smelling fruitbat Ahmadinejad ".

I'm no fan of Ahmadinejad- the guy is a clown, but let's face it Iran is no threat to the US.When was the last time Iran invaded another country? What we are watching is a rerun of the buildup to our Iraqi action. Remember how Saddam was another Hitler? Please!

In any analysis of US/Iranian relations and actions,it might be helpful to revisit Mohammed Mossadegh and the SAVAK . I'm willing to bet that 99.9% of Americans have any idea as to what I'm referring to.

Hats off to Juan Cole for his analysis of this pathetic comedy:

"The media has focused on debating whether he should be allowed to speak at Columbia University on Monday, or whether his request to visit Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11 attack in lower Manhattan, should have been honored. His request was rejected, even though Iran expressed sympathy with the United States in the aftermath of those attacks and Iranians held candlelight vigils for the victims. Iran felt that it and other Shiite populations had also suffered at the hands of al-Qaida, and that there might now be an opportunity for a new opening to the United States.
Instead, the U.S. State Department denounced Ahmadinejad as himself little more than a terrorist. Critics have also cited his statements about the Holocaust or his hopes that the Israeli state will collapse. He has been depicted as a Hitler figure intent on killing Israeli Jews, even though he is not commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces, has never invaded any other country, denies he is an anti-Semite, has never called for any Israeli civilians to be killed, and allows Iran's 20,000 Jews to have representation in Parliament. . .
The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state"

I know I'm getting more and more cynical with each passing day, but I have to wonder if this has anything to do with the renewed Iran war chatter," Iran gets over 70pc oil income in non-US currencies "

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Does anyone have a clue?

"We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy." Osama Bin laden October 2004

"I would argue that the most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan but our own fiscal irresponsibility."-David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States [March 2007]

"We are entering an era in which we know nothing much, where we have a brand-new set of rules...One of these new rules, in my opinion, is that there will be in the very near future nothing like business as usual. In my opinion, nothing is usual from now on for any of the countries involved. And the lower you are in the pile, the worse it is going to get."- Dr. Ali Samsam Bakhtiari Whiskey & Gunpowder May 2007

So, we have had "debates" for both the Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates. Think of the things we have learned. Democrats continue to cling to a belief in an omnipotent federal government--- witness the discussion about what the federal government could have done to prevent the massacre at Virginia Tech. It also appears that all the Dems support some sort of federal health care plan and an increase in taxes on the "rich". On the other hand the Republicans all promised to lower taxes once in office, but seemed to have a little disagreement about evolution, if you can believe that.

The three statements at the top of this post reflect "big-picture" issues and problems America will be confronted with over the next several years. You might think that in three hours of political dialogue someone might offer a plan to address these issues--- but guess what? These topics never came up--not once. These issues are all connected and unfortunately they won't be disappearing anytime soon.

Here's an amazing fact. Last year marked the first time ever that U.S. imports of African crude oil surpassed shipments of oil from the Middle East. The trend is continuing in 2007; so far, three African countries (Nigeria, Angola, Algeria) account for 26% of crude oil imports, while three Middle Eastern countries (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait) account for just 23%. Thanks to Doug Casey at 321 for that nugget.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


This article in the NY Times caught my eye over the weekend. This says it all:

"Although they have yet to release detailed proposals or to talk about the issue in any depth on the campaign trail, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, and former Senator John Edwards, said through aides that they were backing variants of the same approach, which would result in higher taxes on income, capital gains and stock dividends for upper-income people. All of them, as well Senators Christopher J. Dodd and Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Gov. Bill Richardson, have made clear that they would support keeping in place the tax cuts that have benefited the vast majority of people, roughly speaking households with income less than $200,000 or so. In that way, the Democratic stance would ensure that a substantial portion of one of Mr. Bush’s signature policies would outlast his presidency, even if his party loses the White House."

OK, let me get this straight. The candidates are out asking for money and want the job, but so far haven't addressed this particular issue in any depth. My question is what exactly are they doing ?What are they waiting for? Edwards talks about raising taxes. Obama and Hillary sound like they want to keep the Bush tax cuts for the middle class but aren't ready to talk about it yet. What planet do these people come from. We as a nation continue to spend what we don't have. We are fighting two wars, trying to digest the costs of the prescription drug bill that passed a year or so ago, and just last week congress held hearings to discuss bailing out sub-prime mortgage holders. Where is the money going to come from? Message to the candidates, if you want the job let's go---spill the beans, what exactly would you like to do. It's unconscionable that these "candidates" have failed so far to come clean on where they want to lead us.

For disclosure purposes, my Democratic Party preferences right now look like this:
1) Obama
2) Edwards
3) Richardson

I have to point out that my current support for Obama has nothing to do with any substantive policy position ( other than the Iraq war), but rather a hope that he can somehow be a unifier and a leader that can inspire us to greater things. Right now that's more hope than anything else.

Ron Paul is my absolute favorite. I'm not sure if he can get a fair shake from the press--even if he is the only honest man in Washington.

Hat's off to Jim Sinclair at JSMineset and George Ure at Urban Survival for highlighting Lee Iacocca's new book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone, to their readers this week. Iacocca takes no prisoners:

04/11/07 "ICH" -- -- -Had Enough? Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course." Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out! You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies.Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for.I've had enough. How about you? I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have. My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two years old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love to, as soon as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I'm going to speak up because it's my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it, and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work for us. Who Are These Guys, Anyway? Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them, or at least some of us did. But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy. And don't tell me it's all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument, and it's part of the reason we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people. We share common principles and ideals. And we rise and fall together.Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sleepwalking Through the Stormclouds Part 1

Inanity. That's the word I would use to describe our existence in America circa 2006. Think about our national conversation over the past 4-6 weeks:American Idol, who is the father
of Anna Nicole's baby, Final Four brackets, Don Imus. We are a society sleepwalking into a storm that has the potential to drastically change what we refer to as "our way of life". But guess what, most Americans don't seem to care or even have a clue as to what lurks on the horizon.

Thomas Friedman has an interesting article in today's NY Times Magazine ( registration might be required). Friedman calls for a Green New Deal, but this paragraph illustrates to me how Friedman misses the big picture:

" Equally important, presidential candidates need to help Americans understand that green is not about cutting back. It’s about creating a new cornucopia of abundance for the next generation by inventing a whole new industry."

This cornucopia of abundance is disturbing. Here is some recent news from "south of the border" that you might not see on your nightly feel good newscast. Mexico's premier oilfield, Cantarell is in major decline. Production has decreased by roughly 20% over the past year. Think about that for a second. In this world of non-stop growth, the second largest oilfield in the world has had a 20% decline in it's production volume and that piece of news hasn't even hit our collective radar screens. Forget about the fact that oil revenues fund 40% of the Mexican government expenditures, Mexico happens to be the third largest supplier of crude oil to the US and the second largest supplier of petroleum. It's not difficult to imagine growing Mexican unrest as various government promises go unfunded.

An important question to ask is how much longer can the US consume 25% of the world's crude production yet only possess 5% of its reserves? As long as we are on the subject this statistic blows my mind. The U.S. was importing 7% of its oil in 1929. Today it’s 70%.

I'll say it loudly and clearly. We need to collectively wake up. No offense to Tom Friedman, but he just doesn't get it and that is too bad. Friedman is influential and as long as he's unwilling to come to terms with the idea that we might have to live with less, it's unlikely that the unwashed masses will come to terms with it either.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Be Anxious About Nothing

This is one of those rare years where the Western Christian calendar and Eastern Christian calendar coincide and Easter is the same date for both Churches. Yesterday was Palm Sunday. The proscribed Epistle reading in the Eastern Church is Philippians 4:4-4:9. Given the millions if not billions of dollars spent annually by on self-help and spiritual guides, this little passage is worth a read and maybe even reflection and contemplation.

4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! 4:5 Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. 4:7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. 4:9 And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Peak Oil-- No April Fool's Joke

The political airwaves have been filled over the last month with buzz about Global Warming and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. It seems like the commentary breaks down almost on political grounds. Many on the left hail Gore as a prophet, while the right-wingers ( Limbaugh,Hannity etc) excoriate Gore as a hypocrite and generally soft-petal any potential threat.

Bring up the subject of Peak Oil to these same cast of characters and you are likely to get a look of total befuddlement. Not only is Peak Oil largely ignored but it is often incorrectly described when it is addressed. Often a Peak Oil story will refer to "running out of crude oil," which when put on those terms, immediatly places anyone in the Peak Oil camp in conspriacy theory wacko territory. A better way to describe Peak Oil might be with an example of a full jar of jelly. When you first open the jar the jelly is very easy to extract and comes out in big spoon fulls. As more and more jelly is removed , much of it slides up the sides of the jar. It doesn't come out in full spoon fulls anymore. It is more and more difficult to get it out. There is still plenty of jelly left in the jar, it is just not coming out like it used to. Yes , there is still plenty of oil in the ground, but the fact is that is is going to be much more difficult to get out and much more expensive. Maybe alot more expensive than we can even contemplate. Combine that scenario with a growing energy appetite in China and India and now we have a major issue to discuss.

It's interesting to note that lately the voices that warn of impending Peak Oil speak loudly from both the left and the right. This posting on is fascinating in that Boone Pickens, Matt Simmons, and James Howard Kunstler all address the Peak Oil situation and emphasize the urgency of the matter. Okay, Kunstler won't be mistaken for a George W. Bush confidant anytime soon, but Matt Simmons is a member of Mitt Romney's Texas Finance Committee and I don't think anyone is going to accuse Boone Pickens of being a Liberal Weenie. For a real mind blowing experience Richard Rainwater is worth a read on the subject.

Here's the point. On a day when Tommy Thompson has decided to run for President and Hillary Clinton's campaign has announced that they have raised more than three times the record of any previous Democratic candidate at this stage of the process, we the people hear nothing from these alleged leaders on what very well could be the defining issue of our age. If you want an example of how a typical politician deals with this kind of issue look at my Senator, Charles Schumer. He has been calling for the release of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve since 1999 when crude was $25 a barrell. Maybe energy policy isn't the Senator's forte.

There is a long time to go before the first primary votes are cast. Let's demand answers from these gum-flappers.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The start

I guess this is the beginning. I don't happen to be a person who makes New Year's Resolutions, but as the years go by I do try to adopt new disciplines and since I read so many different blogs on a daily basis I have continued to tell myself that I should enter the fray and share the day to day ups and downs of my life in the B2B world of Internet advertising sales ( and various other subjects as well).
I owe Bruce B a big thank you. He has reminded me more than a few times that a blog that focuses on the B2B experience that we live would and should be an interesting read. I also have to thank him for providing the name for this blog. I think it speaks to our day to day existence in corporate America.

A quick word of introduction. I am a sales executive for an Engineering Search Engine. I call on various manufacturers and distributors worldwide and share with them the power of Internet advertising. One of the neat features of our product is that we provide our clients real time information on the prospects who have come through our site and viewed their product/service information or linked to their own website. It really is sort of like big brother in that you know exactly who has been looking at you and exactly what they have been looking at. You would think that most advertisers would trip over themselves to get this kind of information. We service the industrial world however and through this blog readers will see how this is not always the case and in fact i sometimes our product is an amazingly difficult sell. The simplest explanation I can offer is that sometimes people are comfortable just to continue to do what they have always done. It's easier that way.

Along the way we will touch on all kinds of other subjects. Politics, sports, economics, markets, Internet marketing, philosophy, faith and good books are all major interests in my life. Let the fun begin.