Saturday, February 03, 2007

A great lady passes

Here's some news sadder than global warming: Molly Ivins passed the other day.

Molly was an ass-kickin' liberal commentator from Texas who knew how to dish it out. Although she was born in California, she grew up in Texas. She went to high school with George W Bush, so she knew what she was talking about when she dubbed him "The Shrub," which moniker she later used for the title of a book of shrubberyisms.

She made me laugh. I will miss her.

Exposing hidden costs of Middle East oil

Have you read the jaw-dropping Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's global warming report ?

I skimmed the headlines and was truly appalled, but because I love to wallow in misery and have to have every tooth-gnashing factoid (the headlines were just that: headlines), I went looking for a source that could give me the whole skinny. I finally arrived at this here website for a "fair summary" of the report. Boy, is it grim. So, to cheer myself up, I thought I might cogitate a bit on the price of oil instead, so I went to the public library and here's what I learned in the latest issue of Futurist Magazine.

Between the two Iraq wars, the cost of maintaining a defense readiness posture in the Persian Gulf region (including troops stationed in Saudi Arabia) cost $49.1 Billion annually, for a total cost of nearly half a trillion dollars to the American taxpayer. This figure does not include the cost of the second war in Iraq (Operation "Enduring Freedom"-har!). That little fiasco's cost is running into nearly half a trillion dollars as this is written. But there is another, hidden cost to the American consumer, particularly consumers of gasoline, but not just them.

That cost of maintaining our military presence in the Middle East works out to an additional, hidden cost of $1.17 per gallon of gasoline used in America during the same time period. This additional extra dollar-plus was not added to the pump price for American taxpayers to see, but was, of course, deducted from the available funding of all sorts of things, including,

 The loss of 828,400 jobs in the US economy
 $159 billion in GDP annually
 $13.4 billion in federal and state revenues annually
 Total economic penalties of $297.2-$304.9 billion annually
 The Twin Towers atrocity and economic loss as a direct result (including original building costs plus insurance payouts in the billions)

All items taken into account, the real cost of a gallon of gasoline is more than $10.

But let's not stop there. Bearing in mind that the majority of global warming is due to fossil fuel use, we must consider collateral damage costs. When we take into account the rising sea levels and loss of seafront properties, drowning polar bears, acid rain, extinct species, average temperatures rising to 7 degrees Farenheit (low estimate)and increased A/C usage plus the concomitant costs of crop loss, farms wiped out, heat stress in livestock (dead ducks, cows, sheep, etc.), water tables damaged due to the incursion of seawater, hurricanes estimated to average Force 4 plus, and more woes than you can shake a thermometer at, the dollar costs are going to be astronomical, unimaginable.

From the NOAA website:

"Our climate is warming at a faster rate than ever before recorded. Ignoring climate change and the most recent warming patterns could be costly to the nation. Small changes in global temperatures can lead to more extreme weather events including, droughts, floods and hurricanes," NOAA Administrator D. James Baker said.

At the news conference, FEMA reported that damage from more frequent and severe weather calamities and other natural phenomena during the past decade required 460 major disasters to be declared, nearly double the 237 declarations for the previous ten-year period and more than any other decade on record. Financially, comparing a three-year period of 1989 through 1991, and 1997 through 1999, the federal costs of severe weather disasters rose a dramatic 337 percent in the latter part of the decade.(my emphasis)

You really, really need to get rid of that SUV soon, and learn to ride a bike.

Source: The Energy Project: Independence by 2020, article by Tsvi Bisk, The Futurist magazine, Jan-Feb, 2007 (Pay-to-download article on the Net, free at your local library)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Surge more like tidal wave

At first I thought that the "surge" proposed by the Shrub (21,500 men and women) was the total number of troops to be thrown into Iraq. One would normally divide this figure by two or even three to arrive at the actual number of fighting forces, with the rest as support personnel (motor pool, intel, quartermaster corps, etc.) to arrive at a real total of shooters of about four to six thousand. It turns out that anybody who was assuming that 21 thousand plus is the total number of troops to be sent to Iraq is flat out mistaken.

From TPM
An analysis released today by the Congressional Budget Office shows that the administration, in its public comments, has vastly underestimated the actual number of extra troops that will be deployed to Iraq under the president's "surge" plan.

The administration's estimate of approximately 21,000 extra troops only counts combat units, according to the analysis, and because combat units require support forces, the actual number of additional troops who will be in Iraq will likely exceed 35,000.
So not only are we expected to put an additional 21 thousand plus ground pounders at risk, we're adding an extra 12 to 14 thousand troops as potential targets.

Which still leaves unanswered, where the hell are we going to get these folks from?

Monday, January 29, 2007

The nightmare isn't over

Reports are coming in from around the world that the Bush administration is planning an attack on Iran very soon. Recall the movement of another US aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region and the replacement of General Abizaid with Admiral Willaim Fallon to command the Middle East theatre.

We have already seen a ramp-up in the mentioning of Iranian combatants in Iraq as Bush has several times recently referred to "Iranian attacks on US troops." Which is true, but Iranians Shiite guerillas have been involved in Iraq since almost the beginning, as is widely known. Many experts have pointed out that Bush's calling to our attention to iranian involvement in Iraq is part of the propaganda softening-up process.

From ICH, Paul Craig Roberts reports from the Davos, Switzerland meeting of the World Economic Forum, January 24:

Writing for Global Research (January 24), General Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the Academy on Geopolitical Affairs and former Joint Chief of Staff of the Russian Armies, forecast an American nuclear attack on Iran by the end of April. General Ivashov presented the neoconservative reasoning that is the basis for the attack and concluded that the world’s protests cannot stop the US attack on Iran.

There will be shock and indignation, General Ivashov concludes, but the US will get away with it. He writes:

“Within weeks from now, we will see the informational warfare machine start working. The public opinion is already under pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian militaristic hysteria, new information leaks, disinformation, etc. . . . The probability of a US aggression against Iran is extremely high. It does remain unclear, though, whether the US Congress is going to authorize the war. It may take a provocation to eliminate this obstacle (an attack on Israel or the US targets including military bases). The scale of the provocation may be comparable to the 9-11 attack in NY. Then the Congress will certainly say “Yes” to the US President.”

Update: Some more on Bush's Iran war pimping from Robert Dreyfuss at