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.