Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Open letter to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

What follows is a response I sent to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel regarding an editorial they published attacking Congressman Robert Wexler for co-sponsoring articles of impeachment (pdf) (videos here) that Congressman Dennis Kucinich presented against (still)President George W. Bush.

This article was forwarded to me by Congressman Wexler and the shortsightedness of the author and the editorial board that published it deeply saddens me. It is nothing more than a low brow attack on a person attempting to fight for those things the author claims to want.

In the editorial, the author claims that holding impeachment hearings to address the current president's actions against our country is a distraction from issues that should be focused on. The examples this author gives of such "real" issues are Iraq, the economy, health insurance and oil/gas prices. However, this author misses the actual bottleneck these issues are running into.

On every single one, Congress has passed legislation, or begun holding hearings. Every piece of legislation that has passed to address these issues has been vetoed by that same president this author wants to leave in office.

Congress passed, repeatedly, legislation that would set firm benchmarks that would allow our military and national guard to come home and would set actual goals that the Iraqi Parliament had to meet. This was vetoed.

Congress at the beginning of the year passed legislation that authorized tax rebate "stimulus" checks to be issued. This bill fortunately was signed by President Bush, but the new one currently wending its way through the Senate, one that would help those who have lost their jobs during this crisis, currently faces a veto threat.

Earlier this year Congress attempted to legislate an update to the expiring SCHIP bill providing government subsidized health care to hundreds of thousands of young children. This is personal to me because my wife and I were able to afford to have our child because we barely fell on the cusp of the former income level. If I had been making $100 more a year, we would not have been able to afford to have a child. When the Democrats, including Rep. Wexler, attempted to expand this bill to catch those who would fall through the cracks, the Republicans in the Senate were able to block it with a veto from the president.

On energy prices, Congress has been holding a number of hearings attempting to get to a point where they can fix some of the issues. Some proposals include measures such as taxing the excessive profits of the oil companies (some making more than all but a couple nations, worldwide) and using these revenues to fund research and development of new forms of energy that would help drive down consumption of these commodities and push the prices lower. These measures also face a presidential veto.

The only way to pass meaningful legislation on these "REAL issues" is a change in the presidency. There are only two ways to change the president, an election held every four years electing a new president, the inauguration of whom is just over six months away, or impeachment. According to the Constitution, "The President, Vice President, and all other civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors." A president who has violated the Constitution he has sworn twice to uphold - in removing habeas rights, unwarranted wiretapping of civilians, and more - and who has sold our military and our children's futures into the hands of Halliburton and China has, in my informed opinion, acted treasonously and committed high crimes and misdemeanors. This president, and his equally guilty vice president, should be removed not only because of his illegal activities outlined by Rep. Kucinich, but also so Congress, and the nation, can move forward on REAL issues.

If you too would like to send the Sun Sentinel a piece of your mind on this issue, email them at letters@sun-sentinel.com.


KBO said...

Big ups. Also, why have the mainstream media all but ignored Kucinich in the first place? He has some great ideas.

I love how his articles of impeachment are "distracting" but the ones against Clinton were not? That's a whole 'nothing story.

Distributorcap said...

my mother of all people saw that editorial (they live in broward county) and she said the paper does have some uses -- like picking up after the dog

Tom said...

I don't know what you are talking about. President Bush has suffered. He hasn't played golf in months. It must be HORRIBLE for him. Hasn't he suffered enough without being impeached?

Really, I think he should be put in prison... one that doesn't allow you to talk to a lawyer... oh wait, never mind, that would be acting like him, we don't want that... I think.

no_slappz said...

john j, I agree with you that Congress is the bottleneck choking off rational solutions to problems that require sane action rather than wishfulness.

Here's abet for you. By the time the election rolls around, I predict Obama's positions on most issues will be indistinguishable from John McCain's.

The ONLY way to lower oil prices is through an increase in oil supplies to the WORLD market. The most direct method for the US to increase WORLD oil supplies is to explore, drill and produce MORE oil from US reserves -- especially from ANWR and the continental shelves off both coasts, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

You can hang your hopes on solar power and wind power, but, they will never REPLACE oil because Nature has put severe limitations on their utility.

Already Obama has begun the process of sidestepping from his original opposition to new nuclear power plants to a new position of embracing this technology as the path to energy freedom.

I was flying across the country on a fuel-efficient 757 last week and during the flight I was reading from a 1967 environmental -- then referred to as "ecology" -- book written by two State University of New York professors.

One of the most interesting assertions made in the book related to nuclear power and hydropower. They concluded that nuclear power would become so dominant that it would be possible to remove ALL hydroelectric power stations in the US. They considered this inevitable occurence a huge victory for salmon, and they were happy.

Anyway, it won't take too much longer before someone who knows something about oil, energy and economics joins Obama's campaign and enlightens him about the realities of producing oil domestically.

Otherwise, he'll spend much of the next 4.5 months explaining why Americans should pay punishing prices to buy an imported product that is found in abudnance in our own backyard.

Lastly, I was amused by your claim that you almost earned too much to afford a child. When has poverty EVER stopped Americans from reproducing?

Meanwhile, based on your economic rationale, US taxpayers should encourage irresponsible parenthood by offering lots of benefits to those who gleefully think illegitimacy and fatherlessness are insignificant issues.

John J. said...

I'll take that bet Slappz. As for your oil statements, statements that have been debunked time and again:

"The ONLY way to lower oil prices is through an increase in oil supplies" There aren't significant supplies out there. You ask for ANWR and areas offshore to be opened, but those hold an estimated 10 billion barrels at the most. We CURRENTLY use that much in six months. World wide the entirety of those areas wouldn't last 2 months at current consumption. It is IMPOSSIBLE to drill our way out of this problem.

Nuclear power: To my knowledge, Obama has never come out strongly against nuclear. He has always, and still, pushed for strong safety regulations, but outside of that I have not seen anything against nuclear as a power source. As for your book, guess what happened between 1967 and 1990. Here are a couple hints.

no_slappz said...

john j, you and others belief in some form of mythical economics that you would not apply to other commodities.

The price of corn has risen because it is a feedstock for livestock, food for humans, and now, a feedstock for ethanol.

The price of corn is high. Do you believe that growing MORE corn would lead to HIGHER corn price?
LOWER corn prices? Or would corn prices remain at their current levels?

As for your denials about drilling for more oil, you, like all others who depend of phony logic, pretend the US would derive 100% of its oil from ANWR if it were opened to drilling.

Based on your illogic, ALL oil fields fail your test because ALL oil fields would run dry in a short period if each individual oil field were the ONLY field from which oil was pumped.

You really need some lessons in oil economics.

Start here. Count the TOTAL number of oil wells producing oil. Then count the number of drilling rigs opening new wells in EXISTING fields and NEW fields.

At the peak of the domestic oil business, there were almost 5,000 drilling rigs at work in the US -- that was 1983. Then prices collapsed, dropping to $10 a barrel by about 1987.

The number of operating rigs fell to about 700. Many offshore drilling rigs were built before 1983. The oil price collapse led to an end of offshore rig construction. Thus, as the existing fleet of offshore rigs aged, owners discovered that the builders of those rigs could no longer supply spare parts because the builders were out of business. Thus, the number of offshore rigs began to drop, falling to about 500 rigs worldwide.

However, things have changed. On-shore and off-shore rigs are rented on a daily basis. Sometimes the contracts are long-term, sometimes short-term. But with oil at high levels, the current day-rates for offshore rigs has soared.

Now it's possible to finance the construction of new offshore rigs. But it will take a while to build them. However, older rigs that had been mothballed, are getting refurbished and put into service.

The point is this -- oil production is a function of the NUMBER of new wells that are drilled and the pace at which they are drilled. If Oil producers have to wait until an offshore rig is available, then it will take a while for new wells to begin producing.

ANWR is simply a big field into which the oil companies would stick their straws. Just like putting tiny holes in a waterballoon. MOre holes, more water coming out -- and eventually the balloon is empty.

No same or honest person claims ONE oil field can satisfy the energy demands of the nation or the world.

But the US produces almost 8 million barrels of oil per day NOW.

If the US were to increase domestic production by 2 million barrels a day -- a breeze if ANWR and coastal waters become drillable -- then the US will gain a huge advantage over foreign producers, drive down prices, increase domestic employment AND increase domestic Tax Revenue.

Where's the problem?

To argue against drilling for more oil on US territory is to argue in favor of PERMANENT higher energy costs.

That you object to the fact that the payoff from increased drilling will take some time to appear is funny. The start of production will take different amounts of time for each of the new regions -- but all will become hugely productive DECADES before solar energy can contribute more than a token quantity of energy to consumers.

Meanwhile, you should encourage our brain-dead Congress to drop the tariff on imported ethanol.

If the willingness of Congress to raise the national cost food and fuel with a tariff on ethanol isn't enough to make you realize that our representatives are unable to perform simple math, then nothing will.

In any case, get over that silly idea of measuring the reserves of a SINGLE field against annual domestic consumption.

The World is now CONSUMING 86 million barrels of oil a day. Daily PRODUCTION has to beat that figure by at least 2 million barrels to knock down prices.

I think even you realize that if oil production were to drop, then prices would rise.

If you accept that obvious fact, it should not tax your mind to realize that if production increases above demand, the prices will fall.

But it takes capital investment and expertise to put the drilling and production equipment into operation. And it takes a little time -- but a fraction of the time it will take to develop alternative power sources.

no_slappz said...

john j, now I know you don't believe you own proclamations. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. What a laugh

Wiki on Three Mile Island:

"Although 25,000 people lived within five miles (8 km) of the site at the time of the accident,[5] no identifiable injuries due to radiation occurred, and a government report concluded that "There will either be no case of cancer or the number of cases will be so small that it will never be possible to detect them. The same conclusion applies to the other possible health effects.""

Despite a small malfunction that would not occur in the future, NO ONE was injured at Three Mile Island.

Second, the US Navy has operated nuclear-powered ships since about 1955. Over 50 years. Guess what? No problems.

Bringing Chernobyl into the discussion is the best part.

When an incompetent government handles all phases of life for its citizens, the risk of a Chernobyl is always present.

Safety ALWAYS takes a back seat in non-democratic societies. ALWAYS.

That's why 100,000 people die when hurricanes strike Bangladesh and other countries in that region. That's why earthquakes kill 50,000 in Iran, but quakes of the same magnitude kill 50 when they hit California.

The leaderships of non-democracies express their deep contempt for human life by ignoring ALL forms of public safety. No fire codes, no building codes, no nothing to save citizens from threats we analyze and neutralize every day.

John J. said...

"belief in some form of mythical economics that you would not apply to other commodities." No, I believe in empirical data. Saudi Arabia promising to pump 200,000 more barrels of oil per day caused oil prices to rise. Opening these areas would generate 0 barrels of oil for 8-14 years at the least. I doubt that will cause any better result than Saudi Arabia's action.

By the time any pumps in these areas come online, it is estimated that we will be facing a 12 million barrel per day shortfall while these areas could max out production at 2 million per day (and last, at that level, for a year, two at most). It is a waste of our nation's time, money, and effort to drill there and ignore what we need to do, which is focus on green, renewable energy.

This plan also ignores the projected 30+ billion barrels of oil that these companies already have access to but are not pursuing. Production, supply, is not the answer to the oil shortfall. The ONLY way to get through the next 100 years of energy needs is alternative energy. Oil and coal cannot meet our needs and will run out in less than 100 years. At the rate consumption is growing, we will be lucky to make it 50 years on fossil fuels.

I don't know what your argument is with the nuclear stuff. My statement was that nuclear power plant production was stopped when it became clear that they aren't safe without (very expensive) safety regulations. There is nothing other than the cost of meeting safety regulations and community resistance to nuclear plants, due to those two incidents, among others, preventing the construction of new ones.

Let me beat this into your head, since you seem to ignore it every time I say it. I am not against nuclear power. I am against unsafe nuclear power that doesn't know how to properly dispose of its waste. However, a solar plant can generate 100x cleaner energy for the same price that a nuclear plant can.

no_slappz said...

john j,

Your position on nuclear power doesn't matter. But Obama's does.

If he were elected and opposed restarting our nuclear program, the country would have a very tough time overcoming his opposition.

With respect to tapping the oil in ANWR, off our coasts and other prohibited areas -- you have no concept of the timetables.

For several years I was an oil analyst on Wall Street covering Oilfield Service companies -- the drillers and related services -- and oil producers too small to be household names. Your 8-14-year timetable is laughable. As I've said, the Alaska Pipeline was built in 3 years.

Your statements about the amount of oil in the ground in these untouchable regions is wrong -- there's at least 80 billion barrels between ANWR and the East and West Coasts. The Gulf of Mexico adds more.

As for drilling existing areas, we already know those areas have lost a lot of the natural pressure that drives oil out of the ground. Thus, whatever oil found near the margins of existing territory is the most expensive oil to pull out of the ground.

Meanwhile, the new fields of ANWR and off our coasts are naturally pressurized and will produce a lot of oil when they are tapped.

You have this bizarre idea that alternative energy will cost less than oil if we just force ourselves to use it. Sorry, but the world does not work that way.

The price of solar power will always track oil prices. If oil is $200 a barrel, then an equivalent amount of solar energy will cost $200. But obviously you don't believe this fact, even though it is proven every day in the energy market.

As for coal, you seem to have gone totally nuts. We've got huge supplies of coal.

But none of this really matters. It doesn't matter because the US and the WORLD depend on oil, and nothing iwll change this reality in the next century. The only change will be the increasing use of non-fossil-fuel energy to produce power.

Thus, we have a choice. Pay more for oil until it runs out, OR pretend there is less oil than truly exists and send prices into the stratosphere while we continue to use oil.

Either we pay more than we'd like for oil OR we pay staggering sums for oil.

The Europeans pay $10 a gallon and no nation in Europe has collapsed under the strain. By following your path, we'll see similar prices here. And you seem to think these high prices are a good idea.

By the way, if production were to fall short of demand by 12 million barrels a day, how much would a barrel of oil cost?

You didn't answer my earlier question about the impact of rising demand on the price of corn. I guess you realize that rising demand means higher prices.

By the way, would you limit the amount of food you give your child to the amount he consumes at age one? Or would you assume he needs greater quantities of specific food items as he grows?

You also dove into the pool of absurd economics by claiming that "Saudi Arabia promising to pump 200,000 more barrels of oil per day caused oil prices to rise."

From this brilliant observation it is clear you think if oil production is CUT, prices will DROP. That is what you've claimed by stating that prices ROSE because Saudi Arabia is INCREASING production.

Anyway, since I actually know people in the technology end of Solar Power, I know that very little power will come from that alternative in the next couple of decades.

Do you have a solar panel for your house?

Do you know one of the primary compounds needed to make solar panels is highly carcinogenic?

Anyway, there is no CHEAP alternative to oil. It's as simple as that.