Some Thoughts on “Patriotism”

Most important thought: I’m sick and tired of this thing called “patriotism”.

The Japanese pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor were being patriotic. The German people who supported Hitler and his conquests were being patriotic, fighting for the Fatherland. All the Latin American military dictators who overthrew democratically-elected governments and routinely tortured people were being patriotic — saving their beloved country from “communism”.

General Augusto Pinochet of Chile: “I would like to be remembered as a man who served his country.”1

P.W. Botha, former president of apartheid South Africa: “I am not going to repent. I am not going to ask for favours. What I did, I did for my country.”2

Pol Pot, mass murderer of Cambodia: “I want you to know that everything I did, I did for my country.”3

Tony Blair, former British prime minister, defending his role in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis: “I did what I thought was right for our country.”4

I won’t bore you with what George W. has said.

At the end of World War II, the United States gave moral lectures to their German prisoners and to the German people on the inadmissibility of pleading that their participation in the holocaust was in obedience to their legitimate government. To prove to them how legally inadmissable this defense was, the World War II allies hanged the leading examples of such patriotic loyalty.

I was once asked after a talk: “Do you love America?” I answered: “No”. After pausing for a few seconds to let that sink in amidst several nervous giggles in the audience, I continued with: “I don’t love any country. I’m a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, democracy, an economy which puts people before profits.”

I don’t make much of a distinction between patriotism and nationalism. Some writers equate patriotism with allegiance to one’s country and government, while defining nationalism as sentiments of ethno-national superiority. However defined, in practice the psychological and behavioral manifestations of nationalism and patriotism — and the impact of such sentiments on actual policies — are not easily distinguishable.

Howard Zinn has called nationalism “a set of beliefs taught to each generation in which the Motherland or the Fatherland is an object of veneration and becomes a burning cause for which one becomes willing to kill the children of other Motherlands or Fatherlands.”5 … “Patriotism is used to create the illusion of a common interest that everybody in the country has.”6

Strong feelings of patriotism lie near the surface in the great majority of Americans. They’re buried deeper in the more “liberal” and “sophisticated”, but are almost always reachable, and ignitable.

Alexis de Tocqueville, the mid-19th century French historian, commented about his long stay in the United States: “It is impossible to conceive a more troublesome or more garrulous patriotism; it wearies even those who are disposed to respect it.”7

George Bush Sr., pardoning former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in connection with the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal: “First, the common denominator of their motivation — whether their actions were right or wrong — was patriotism.”8

What a primitive underbelly there is to this rational society. The US is the most patriotic, as well as the most religious, country of the so-called developed world. The entire American patriotism thing may be best understood as the biggest case of mass hysteria in history, whereby the crowd adores its own power as troopers of the world’s only superpower, a substitute for the lack of power in the rest of their lives. Patriotism, like religion, meets people’s need for something greater to which their individual lives can be anchored.

So this July 4, my dear fellow Americans, some of you will raise your fists and yell: “U! S! A! U! S! A!”. And you’ll parade with your flags and your images of the Statue of Liberty. But do you know that the sculptor copied his mother’s face for the statue, a domineering and intolerant woman who had forbidden another child to marry a Jew?

“Patriotism,” Dr. Samuel Johnson famously said, “is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Ambrose Bierce begged to differ — It is, he said, the first.

“Patriotism is the conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.” George Bernard Shaw

“Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. … The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” George Orwell9

“Pledges of allegiance are marks of totalitarian states, not democracies,” says David Kertzer, a Brown University anthropologist who specializes in political rituals. “I can’t think of a single democracy except the United States that has a pledge of allegiance.”10 Or, he might have added, that insists that its politicians display their patriotism by wearing a flag pin. Hitler criticized German Jews and Communists for their internationalism and lack of national patriotism. Along with Mussolini in Italy, the Führer demanded that “true patriots” publicly vow and display their allegiance to their respective fatherlands. Postwar democratic governments of the two countries made a conscious effort to minimize such shows of national pride.

(Oddly enough, the American Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy, a founding member, in 1889, of the Society of Christian Socialists, a group of Protestant ministers who asserted that “the teachings of Jesus Christ lead directly to some form or forms of socialism.”)

Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, we could read that there’s “now a high degree of patriotism in the Soviet Union because Moscow acted with impunity in Afghanistan and thus underscored who the real power in that part of the world is.”11

“Throughout the nineteenth century, and particularly throughout its latter half, there had been a great working up of this nationalism in the world. … Nationalism was taught in schools, emphasized by newspapers, preached and mocked and sung into men. It became a monstrous cant which darkened all human affairs. Men were brought to feel that they were as improper without a nationality as without their clothes in a crowded assembly. Oriental peoples, who had never heard of nationality before, took to it as they took to the cigarettes and bowler hats of the West.” H.G. Wells, English writer12

“The very existence of the state demands that there be some privileged class vitally interested in maintaining that existence. And it is precisely the group interests of that class that are called patriotism.” Mikhail Bakunin, Russian anarchist13

“To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.” George Santayana, American educator and philosopher

Dr. Strangelove

There have been numerous books published on the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. I have not read one of them. There’s another one just out: One Minute to Midnight, by Washington Post writer Michael Dobbs. I will not be reading it. The reason authors keep writing these books and publishers keep publishing them is obvious: How close the world came to a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union! Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., historian and adviser to President Kennedy, termed it “the most dangerous moment in human history.”14 But I’ve never believed that. Such a fear is based on the belief that either or both of the countries was ready and willing to unleash their nuclear weapons against the other. However, this was never in the cards because of MAD — Mutually Assured Destruction. By 1962, the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union had grown so large and sophisticated that neither superpower could entirely destroy the other’s retaliatory force by launching a missile first, even with a surprise attack. Retaliation was certain, or certain enough. Starting a nuclear war was committing suicide. If the Japanese had had nuclear bombs, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not have been destroyed.

Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev was only looking for equality. The United States had missiles and bomber bases already in place in Turkey and other missiles in Western Europe pointed toward the Soviet Union. Khrushchev later wrote:

The Americans had surrounded our country with military bases and threatened us with nuclear weapons, and now they would learn just what it feels like to have enemy missiles pointing at you; we’d be doing nothing more than giving them a little of their own medicine. … After all, the United States had no moral or legal quarrel with us. We hadn’t given the Cubans anything more than the Americans were giving to their allies. We had the same rights and opportunities as the Americans. Our conduct in the international arena was governed by the same rules and limits as the Americans.15

Virtually every president from Truman on has been exhorted by one Dr. Strangelove or another, military or civilian, to use The Bomb when things were going badly, such as in Korea or Vietnam or Cuba, or to use it against the Soviets directly, unprovoked, to once and for all get rid of those commie bastards that were causing so much trouble in so many countries. And not one president gave in to this pressure. They would have been MAD to do so. Which is why all the scary talk of recent years about Saddam Hussein and Iran and all their alleged and potential weapons of mass destruction was just that — scary talk. Hussein was not, and the Iranians are not, MAD. The only modern-day leaders I would not make this assumption about are Osama bin Laden and Dick Cheney. The latter is a genuine Dr. Strangelove.

In a few weeks we’ll once again be marking the anniversary of the two nuclear bombings of Japan. Remarkably, the bombings are still highly controversial. I believe that the evidence clearly shows that the Japanese were already defeated and trying to surrender, thus obviating the need for the bombings. My essay on this can be found here.

The Cold War was a marvelous era for Armageddon humor. Here is US General Thomas Power speaking in December 1960 about things like nuclear war and a first strike by the United States: “The whole idea is to kill the bastards! At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win!” The response from one of those present was: “Well, you’d better make sure that they’re a man and a woman.”16

Economics 101 remedial

The economists who defend the perpetual crises of the capitalist system — the sundry speculative bubbles followed by bursting bubbles followed by a trail of tears — most often turn to “supply and demand” as the ultimate explanation and justification for the system. This provides an impersonal, neutral-sounding, and respectable, almost scientific, cover for the vagaries of free enterprise. They would have us believe that we shouldn’t blame the crises on greed or speculation or manipulation or criminal activity because such flawed human behavior is overridden by “supply and demand”. It’s a law, remember, “the law of supply and demand” is its full name. And where does this “law” come from? Congress? Our ancestral British Parliament? No, nothing so commonplace, so man-made. No, they would have us believe that it must come from nature. It works virtually like a natural law, does it not? And we violate it or ignore it at our peril.

Thus have we all been raised. But great cracks in the levee have been appearing in recent years, in unlikely places, such as the Senate of the United States, which issued a lengthy report in 2006 (when a gallon of gasoline had already passed the three dollar mark) entitled: “The role of market speculation in rising oil and gas prices”. Here are some excerpts:

“The traditional forces of supply and demand cannot fully account for these increases [in crude oil, gasoline, etc.]. While global demand for oil has been increasing … global oil supplies have increased by an even greater amount. As a result, global inventories have increased as well. Today, U.S. oil inventories are at an 8-year high, and OECD [mainly European] oil inventories are at a 20-year high. Accordingly, factors other than basic supply and demand must be examined.”

“Over the past few years, large financial institutions, hedge funds, pension funds, and other investment funds have been pouring billions of dollars into the energy commodities markets … to try to take advantage of price changes or to hedge against them. Because much of this additional investment has come from financial institutions and investment funds that do not use the commodity as part of their business, it is defined as ‘speculation’ by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). According to the CFTC, a speculator ‘does not produce or use the commodity, but risks his or her own capital trading futures in that commodity in hopes of making a profit on price changes.’ [Futures contracts gamble on the price goods will fetch on a particular date in the future; the contracts are traded like stocks.] The large purchases of crude oil futures contracts by speculators have, in effect, created an additional demand for oil, driving up the price of oil to be delivered in the future in the same manner that additional demand for the immediate delivery of a physical barrel of oil drives up the price on the spot market. … Although it is difficult to quantify the effect of speculation on prices, there is substantial evidence that the large amount of speculation in the current market has significantly increased prices.”

The prices arrived at daily on the commodity exchanges (primarily the New York Mercantile Exchange — NYMEX), for the various kinds of oil are used as principal international pricing benchmarks, and play an important role in setting the price of gasoline at the pump.

A good part of the Senate report deals with how the CFTC is no longer able to properly regulate commodity trading to prevent speculation, manipulation, or fraud because much of the trading takes place on commodity exchanges, in the US and abroad, that are not within the CFTC’s purview. “Persons within the United States seeking to trade key U.S. energy commodities — U.S. crude oil, gasoline, and heating oil futures — now can avoid all U.S. market oversight or reporting requirements by routing their trades through the ICE Futures exchange in London instead of the NYMEX in New York. … To the extent that energy prices are the result of market manipulation or excessive speculation, only a cop on the beat with both oversight and enforcement authority will be effective. … The trading of energy commodities by large firms on OTC [over-the-counter] electronic exchanges, was exempted from CFTC oversight by a provision inserted at the behest of Enron and other large energy traders into the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.”17

A tale told many times. While you and I go about our daily lives trying to be good citizens, the Big Boys, the Enron Boys, are busy lobbying the Congress Boys. They call it “modernization”, or some other eye-rolling euphemism, and we get screwed.

The Washington Post recently had this to report on the Enron and Congress Boys: “Wall Street banks and other large financial institutions have begun putting intense pressure on Congress to hold off on legislation that would curtail their highly profitable trading in oil contracts — an activity increasingly blamed by lawmakers for driving up prices to record levels. … But the executives were met with skepticism and occasional hostility. ‘Spare us your lecture about supply and demand,’ one of the Democratic aides said, abruptly cutting off one of the executives. … A growing number of members of Congress have reacted to public outrage over skyrocketing gasoline prices by introducing at least eight bills that restrict the ability of financial companies to buy futures contracts, [require companies to] disclose more about those investments or stiffen federal oversight of energy trades.”18

Some further testimony from the 2006 Senate hearing:

“There has been no shortage, and inventories of crude oil and products have continued to rise. The increase in prices has not been driven by supply and demand.” — Lord Browne, Group Chief Executive of BP (formerly British Petroleum)

“Senator … I think I have been very clear in saying that I don’t think that the fundamentals of supply and demand — at least as we have traditionally looked at it — have supported the price structure that’s there.” — Lee Raymond, Chairman and CEO, ExxonMobil

“What’s been happening since 2004 is very high prices without record-low stocks. The relationship between U.S. [oil] inventory levels and prices has been shredded, has become irrelevant.” ——Jan Stuart, Global Oil Economist, UBS Securities (which calls itself “the leading global wealth manager”)

In 2008, when a gallon of gasoline had passed the four dollar mark, OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri stated: “There is clearly no shortage of oil in the market.” El-Badri “blamed high oil prices on investors seeking ‘better returns’ in commodities after a drop in equity prices and the value of the dollar.”19

Finally, defenders of the way the system works insist that the oil companies have been experiencing great increases in their costs, due particularly to oil running out, so-called “peak oil”. It costs much more to find and extricate the remaining oil and the companies have to pass these costs to the consumer. Well, class, if that is so, then the companies should be making about the same net profit as before peak oil — X-dollars more in expenses, X-dollars added to the price, same amount of profit, albeit a lower percentage of profit to sales, something of interest primarily to Wall Street, not to ordinary human beings. But the oil companies have not done that. Their increases in price and profit defy gravity and are not on the same planet as any increases in costs. Moreover, as economist Robert Weissman of the Multinational Monitor has observed: “While the price of oil is going up, these companies’ drilling expenses are not. Oil can trade at $40 a barrel, $90 a barrel, or $130 a barrel. It still costs ExxonMobil and the rest of Big Oil only about $20 to get a barrel of oil out of the ground.”20

The above is not meant to be the last word on the subject of why our gasoline is so expensive. Too much information is hidden, by speculators, oil companies, refiners, and others; too much activity is unregulated; too much is moved by psychology more than economics. The best solution would be to get rid of all the speculative markets — unless they can demonstrate that they serve a human purpose — and nationalize the oil companies. (Oh my god, he used the “N” word!)

  1. Sunday Telegraph (London), July 18, 1999. []
  2. The Independent (London), November 22, 1995. []
  3. Far Eastern Economic Review (Hong Kong), October 30, 1997, article by Nate Thayer, pages 15 and 20. []
  4. Washington Post, May 11, 2007, p.14. []
  5. Passionate Declarations (2003), p.40. []
  6. ZNet Magazine, May 2006, interview by David Barsamian. []
  7. Democracy in America (1840), chapter 16. []
  8. New York Times, December 25, 1992. []
  9. “Notes on Nationalism”, p.83, 84, in Such, Such Were the Joys (1945). []
  10. Alan Colmes, Red, White and Liberal (2003), p.30. []
  11. San Francisco Examiner, January 20, 1980, quoting a “top Soviet diplomat.” []
  12. The Outline of History (1920), vol. II, chapter XXXVII, p.782. []
  13. Letters on Patriotism, 1869. []
  14. Washington Post Book World, June 24, 2008, review of One Minute to Midnight. []
  15. Khrushchev Remembers (London, 1971) pages 494, 496. []
  16. Fred Kaplan, The Wizards of Armageddon (1983), p.246. For many other examples of Cold War absurdity, see William Blum, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire, chapter 12: “Before there were terrorists, there were communists and the Wonderful World of Anti-Communism.” []
  17. “The role of market speculation in rising oil and gas prices”, published by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations — Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, June 27, 2006. []
  18. Washington Post, June 19, 2008, p.D1, “Wall Street Lobbies to Protect Speculative Oil Trades.” []
  19. Washington Post, May 10, 2008, p.D3. []
  20. What To Do About the Price of Oil,” Multinational Monitor, May 28, 2008. []
William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. He can be reached at: bblum6@aol.com. Read other articles by William, or visit William's website.

32 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Clifford J. Wirth said on July 5th, 2008 at 7:01am #

    The bloody hands of the U.S. are all over the corpse of Iraq and Afghanistan , and Iran next, and if their economies are in ruins, and thus cannot use the oil, well we can. Anyone see a pattern here. Who’s next? No, don’t tell me the U.S. would cause problems with a neighbor. The U.S. is pretty thirsty for oil and will collapse without more oil, but will collapse a little later in any case. It is called Peak Oil, which is the end of the U.S. Empire, and the end of the U.S. too. They say it can’t happen here. I say it is inevitable that it will happen here. Here is the documentation of that future, in a free downloadable 45 page report that can be posted, distributed and emailed: http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html

  2. hp said on July 5th, 2008 at 9:51am #

    “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.”
    Oscar Wilde

    I see Japan and Pearl Harbor, Germany, Hitler and the holocaust, Italy and Mussolini, Cambodia and Pol Pot, South Africa, apartheid and Botha, Chile and Pinochet, Blair and Britain, Bush and the USA, Soviet Union and Afghanistan.

    Anything, anybody missing? Like perhaps the current abomination occurring in the middle East?
    I mean missing on the shit list, not the omnipresent eternal victim list.

  3. bozhidar balkas said on July 5th, 2008 at 11:23am #

    blum is correct: one loves, ideas, work (when not supervised), a flower, countryside, children, people.
    but try as i may i cannot ever love any country.
    that is because i can’t taste, see, smell, touch, hear, taste the country.
    neither can i for the same reason love god. nor do i love political/priestly ‘promises’.
    this what actually clergy/politicos want u to love. their ‘promises’, mass of lies, half truths they want us to love.
    this is what the symbol “country” means to them.
    so if one is not onto this, one will kill, rape, steal, murder in name of s’mthing; usually ‘god’, ‘country’, ‘way of life’ etcetc.
    and, to boot, we get hated for falling for the trickery.
    slaves please abolish own slavery! or tie self in knots and u’l feel a lot better. spasibo, grazias

  4. Don Hawkins said on July 5th, 2008 at 12:40pm #

    Things are not quite what they seem and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

  5. Lloyd Rowsey said on July 5th, 2008 at 1:54pm #

    So, WB, you in better health than Arthur Silber?

  6. Don Hawkins said on July 5th, 2008 at 4:56pm #

    I was once asked after a talk: “Do you love America?” I answered: “No”. After pausing for a few seconds to let that sink in amidst several nervous giggles in the audience, I continued with: “I don’t love any country. I’m a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, democracy, an economy which puts people before profits.” William Blum

    A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

    G8 leaders should compare notes on “green” taxes. In hard economic times with high fuel costs
    the public will rebel against any carbon tax – unless 100% of the tax is returned immediately,
    monthly, to the public on a per capita basis3,5. The public is fed up with politicians spending
    their money in cahoots with alligator-shoe-wearing toad-eating (just kidding) lobbyists. Carbon
    taxes will drive energy innovations and the dividend will spur the economy. Taxes can be
    fruitfully initiated on a national basis; any trade disadvantage should be eliminated via an import
    duty on products produced in other countries that do not impose a comparable carbon tax, with
    100% of the duty added to the per capita dividends.
    CO2 can be brought back to 350 ppm this century in the coal-phase-out scenario (Fig. 2b) via
    improved forestry and agricultural practices, including reforestation and use of biochar to
    enhance soil fertility and sequestration of carbon2, which together realistically can reduce CO2 by
    ~50 ppm. Faster return below 350 ppm can be obtained via CO2 capture at gas-fired power
    plants and power plants burning bio-waste. Stabilization of climate would likely also require
    reduction of non-CO2 climate forcings such as methane, tropospheric ozone and black soot4.

    Prime Minister Fukuda, we cannot avert our eyes from the basic fossil fuel facts, or the
    consequences for life on our planet of ignoring these facts. If we continue to build coal-fired
    power plants without carbon capture, we will leave for our children a situation not of their
    making but out of their control, an impoverished future containing growing climate disasters
    associated with the passing of climate tipping points.
    This is a situation that cries out for leadership. As the Group of Eight meets in Hokkaido the
    most important thing that the leaders could do is recognize and discuss the need for a moratorium
    on any new coal-fired power plants in their countries. If these countries, the ones most
    responsible for the excess CO2 in the air today, would take that step, it would be a huge step for
    mankind and nature. James Hansen

    If humanity is to survive we have to experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something not separate from the rest. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking and we are running out of time, let me rephrase that we are out of time. Let me also add that because of the times the people who experience themselves, there thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest and yes I am talking about these so called elites who use this thinking if you can call it that to the Max and are right now kicking and crying, Oh yes it has started. Unfortunately it looks like the chance won’t come again the time is now. The question is how do we do this in the short time we have to solve some very difficult problems. I have thought about this for years now and I need help on this one. Maybe the first thing would be to admit there is a problem.

  7. Dave Silver said on July 6th, 2008 at 7:12am #

    The former Soviet Union calls their enormous sacrifice in order to defeat German fascism “The Great Patriotic War” In this context
    patriotism is a concept of what benefits the masses of people in that country and in this instance benefitted many other people in differing countries.

  8. Samson said on July 6th, 2008 at 7:20am #

    Mr. Blum touches on an important point. The way ‘patriotism’ is used to override law.

    To be a just nation, we must be a nation of laws. A set of rules written down that ALL must obey is the only way a free and fair nation can exist. Because the alternative is arbitrary laws made up at the whim of men.

    So, when men of high office are given pardons because what they did was described as patriotic, its actually a direct attack on what truly is supposed to make America great.

    If you view America as a truly free nation. A nation that is committed to justice for all, then you can not be giving pardons to people who broke the law and then excuse it by saying they did it for their nation. To truly serve a free nation, one must obey the law.

  9. Dave Silver said on July 6th, 2008 at 7:27am #

    The Soviet Union called their enormous sacrifice in World War 2
    “The Great Patriotic War.” Inherent in this concept of patriotism was the idea that the victory by the Red Army not only benefitted the masses of people of that country and indeed many other countries from fascism, ethnic cleansing and regime change.

  10. Samson said on July 6th, 2008 at 7:31am #

    Inherently, there’s nothing wrong with patriotism. There’s nothing wrong with loving where you live and being proud of where you live and working to help build and protect where you live.

    The problem is the way patriotism is twisted and used. Its not patriotism that’s the problem. Its the scoundrels who wrap themselves in the flag that are the problem.

  11. Don Hawkins said on July 6th, 2008 at 8:15am #

    Just saw our fearless leader on CNN and he said as he headed back from the G-8 that if China and India don’t get on board with climate change it won’t work. I wonder does he think this stuff up all by himself? Remember when he said that evolution was still open to debate. I think Lewis Black put it best when he said Mr. President this is a fossil. Do you know what a fossil is and the age of this fossil? The man is nuts and why because he knows full well about evolution and what he knows and what he say’s are two different things. Why would he do that? To keep people confused and in the dark, yes. To get votes, yes. What do you think will the next President be a bit smarter? We can only hope.

  12. Don Hawkins said on July 6th, 2008 at 8:31am #

    June sea ice extent is very similar to last year and is now the third lowest on record. It lies very close to the linear trend line for all average June sea ice extents since 1979, which indicates that the Arctic is losing an average of 41,000 square kilometers (15,800 square miles) of ice per year in June. Last year, the rapid melt leading to the record-breaking minimum extent began in July. NSIDC

    Arctic sea ice reflects sunlight, keeping the polar regions cool and moderating global climate. According to scientific measurements, Arctic sea ice has declined dramatically over at least the past thirty years, with the most extreme decline seen in the summer melt season.

    And moderating global climate, and moderating global climate, and moderating global climate.

    Bertha the storm that formed a few day’s ago formed the furthest East ever a record. California and the Wildfires will those fires lessen in coming years, no. The flooding in the Midwest will that get back to normal, no. There is still time to slow the real fun stuff.

  13. Don Hawkins said on July 6th, 2008 at 9:03am #

    Meanwhile, times get progressively tougher for your average dissenter, already pushed to the farthest margins of American society. A subservient culture has arisen in the Land of the Free, wherein truth telling and critical discussion are seen as signs of mental and physical weakness. You are told to suck it up and stop complaining: just accept the hardships of life and work 60 hours a week with no health care whilst being treated disparagingly because you have a clue.

    This mass media culture rewards idiots. One thing that separates the United States from its European counterparts is the fact that the bourgeois culture in the former isn’t remotely appreciable. It was always foul and has merely gotten worse as my wretched generation has come to the fore. It’s a generation of insipid frat boys: rising through the ranks of corporate America not through their cunning and intellect, but rather via their ability to manipulate the show that passes for American culture. The louder and more demonstrative you are of your clueless-ness, the richer and more powerful you get. Is it any wonder that we ended up with the president we have? Matt Reichel

    The louder and more demonstrative you are of your clueless-ness, the richer and more powerful you get.

    We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. We need to work on this one.

  14. Lloyd Rowsey said on July 6th, 2008 at 9:17am #

    Thanks for that last post, Don. Not because I think environmentalism is the most pressing issue facing humanity, but because I respect you for some of your posts, here’s something about whaling you may not have seen.

    International Whaling Commission Makes Little Progress
    [Thanks to ellwort and treebu for this info]

    SANTIAGO, Chile, July 1, 2008 (ENS) – The International Whaling Commission wound up its annual meeting here Friday without achieving new protections for whales or resolving the deep rifts that divide the member governments into pro-whaling and pro-conservation factions. The meeting centered on the future of the commission with only brief clashes between the two factions, due to a strategy of avoiding votes and attempting to reach consensus through discussion. The “no votes” strategy was created and guided by the IWC chairman and U.S. commissioner to the IWC, Dr. William Hogarth, a former top official in the National Marine Fisheries Service, who now is dean of the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida.It was intended to rebuild trust between the opposing factions in an effort to modernize the IWC for the future. The strategy failed Thursday when Denmark insisted on a vote to increase by 10 the number of humpback whales Greenland whalers could kill as part of the country’s aboriginal subsistence whaling program. Discussion of the proposal, which was defeated, plunged the 81 nation membership of the commission into a heated debate similar to past conflicts. “We are extremely relieved to know that humpback whales are safe from hunting in European waters. The adoption of this flawed proposal from Greenland would have set a terrible precedent for allowing commercial elements in aboriginal subsistence hunting,” said Sue Fisher of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, an international organization based in the UK. This vote on the Greenland quota was the first time that the European Union voted as a single block at an IWC meeting. Following intense negotiations, the Member States of the European Union agreed that 20 of the 21 members present would oppose the proposal. Denmark voted yes under a legal exemption an has been lobbying hard to obtain the increased quota for Greenland, a self-governing Danish province.The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society opposed the Greenland proposal on scientific grounds and on the basis that Greenland had not made a convincing case that it needed more whale meat to meet its subsistence needs. Currently, Greenland fails to take all the whales from its existing quota. “There is also clear evidence of extensive commercialization of whale meat across Greenland and significant stockpiles of unused meat,” the WDCS said in a statement. Once again this year, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa agreed to withdraw their proposal for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary with the hope that it would be taken as a sign of good faith that they are willing partners in the shaping of the IWC into an effective agency. Australia tabled the first proposal the IWC has received for a non-lethal regional whale research program in the Southern Ocean. Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett said, “This new Australian-led research partnership will provide the world with a non-lethal approach to gathering scientific information on whale populations in the Southern Ocean, helping improve our understanding of whales and cetaceans and enhancing our approach to their conservation and management.” “Australia has remained staunch in opposing lethal ‘scientific’ whaling in the Southern Ocean,” Garrett said. “This new collaborative approach offers a new way to conduct whale research based on rigorous scientific methodology, and I would urge nations, including Japan, to participate.” Garrett said in addition to support for the new research partnership, Australia’s further proposal for fundamental reform of the Commission is to be discussed at a newly established working group agreed at the Santiago meeting. New Zealand is “cautiously optimistic” that the agreed path forward for the International Whaling Commission can solve some of the longstanding conflicts between IWC members, Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick said Monday. “This meeting saw a marked change from the hostile atmosphere that dominated past meetings and we have definitely moved forward,” she said. “However, with Greenland’s decision to force a divisive vote on the addition of 10 humpback whales to its quota under aboriginal subsistence rules, we do feel progress has been two steps forward and one step back,” said the minister. On the contentious issue of special permit whaling, such as lethal research whaling despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling, this year, the IWC Scientific Committee presented a new method for the review of such permits.The IWC will hold a small expert workshop that will be able to review new proposals, or the results of existing proposals, in an independent manner. The new process will be used for the first time to review the results of the JARPN II programme. The Commission endorsed this process. Under Japan’s special permit whaling programs, in 2007, a total of 551 Antarctic minke whales were taken under the JARPA II program, while 207 common minke, 100 sei, 50 Bryde’s and three sperm whales were taken under the JARPN II program in the North Pacific. The issue of special permit whaling deeply divides the Commission and as in previous years, strong statements both in favor and against lethal research programs were made. The Japanese delegation said it is “strongly convinced” that the current situation is undesirable for all members and that the IWC must be normalized.”Japan commends and appreciates the tremendous efforts Chair-Hogarth has put in over the past year in order to once again make the IWC an effective organization that can fulfill its own mission, the conservation and management of whale resources,” Japan said in a statement. Japan is of the view that “due to serious disagreements among different groups within the IWC, there has been a paucity of constructive, rational and science-based discussions and decisions. Such state of affairs can only be described as dysfunctional.” Patrick Ramage, Global Whale Program director with the International Fund for Animal Welfare said, “The Commission is trying to chart a course for the future while ignoring ongoing whaling by just three member countries. Whale conservation measures were put on ice at this meeting. If Japan, Norway and Iceland are serious about compromise, they should prove it by suspending their ongoing whaling.””While the IWC is busy sorting out internal bureaucratic wranglings,” said Ramage, “1,500 whales will be targets for Japan’s harpoons in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary and North Pacific over the next year, while both Iceland and Norway continue their whaling hunts in defiance of the 1986 commercial whaling moratorium.”Conservation organizations expressed concern that the meeting failed to address growing threats to whales, including increasing whaling by Japan, Iceland and Norway. The next IWC annual meeting will beheld in Madeira, Portugal in 2009.

    And more…

    Japan ready to spare humpbacks for another year: official
    Japan is ready to spare humpback whales from its Antarctic hunt for another year if international whaling talks make progress, a senior Japanese official said Wednesday.After strong protests led by Australia, Japan last year dropped plans to start hunting humpback whales for the first time in four decades. Japan is willing to work with the current chair of the International Whaling Commission by suspending its humpback hunt if there are signs of progress at the IWC, said Japan’s chief whaling negotiator Joji Morishita.”The final decision will be made at the last moment, I guess. But … the IWC process is moving so I assume that the same situation will apply to the coming research season,” he told a press conference.The current chair of the IWC, William Hogarth of the United States, has reportedly urged Japan to spare the humpbacks for another year to avoid driving a wedge into an already divided commission.The 80-nation IWC agreed at its annual meeting last week in Santiago to create a 24-nation working group to recommend solutions ahead of next year’s meeting in Portugal’s Madeira island.It was unable to bridge the gap between anti-whaling countries such as Australia and pro-whaling nations, such as Japan, Iceland and Norway, in a long-standing dispute over commercial whaling.But Morishita said the meeting was less tense than in past years.”People are actually fed-up with the very acrimonious atmosphere at the IWC,” he said….

    POSTED BY ALICE AT WEDNESDAY, JULY 02, 2008 0 COMMENTS

  15. Don Hawkins said on July 6th, 2008 at 9:27am #

    We need to save the whales and in so doing just maybe we can save ourselves.

  16. hp said on July 6th, 2008 at 12:35pm #

    How about starting with the Palestinians?
    If we can’t save them, how can we save anyone, let alone the whales.

  17. bozhidar balkas said on July 6th, 2008 at 2:23pm #

    i’m 96. i’m ready for hell. so i’l be saved. i’m not going near yahweh, god, or allah.
    i don’t mind seeing baal since he’s a lot better god than the other 3 idiots. but i’m definitely seeing my devil. thank u

  18. Don Hawkins said on July 6th, 2008 at 3:31pm #

    There are certain people who build walls. Walls of the mind. In many cases these walls make up a box and people must live in these box’s all there lives. The walls are not real the box’s are not real and are invisible to the eye. Once you understand the walls and boxes are not real you can teardown those walls with only a thought. Just a thought.

  19. Don Hawkins said on July 6th, 2008 at 6:06pm #

    How did I come up with that last comment? Well I have watched my share of the twilight zone episodes and the movie the matrix. Listened to George Carlin and Lewis Black read a few books and watch certain people on TV and read DV for years now and once in awhile go fishing and done a little figuring on my own.

    BEIJING, July 6 — A large section of eastern China has been experiencing heat and high humidity, while rainstorms have pelted central and western areas. Shanghai has suffered temperatures over 35 degree Celsius for 4 consecutive days. The oppressive humidity makes it hard for people to be outdoors.The sultry weather is expected to continue to shroud the city in the coming two days.
    Similar heat waves are being felt in Hunan and Zhejiang provinces. Local governments have issued sunstroke warnings and taken action to ensure power supply. In Hubei in Central China, Shaanxi, Guizhou and Qinghai in the west, rain storms are disrupting traffic and threatening to flood. In Enshi city in Hubei, many residents have already been moved to higher ground.

    The time is now the chance will not come again.

  20. john wilkinson said on July 7th, 2008 at 12:22pm #

    First off, the part about the oil prices, etc. All hogwash. No FACTS, no NUMBERS, just useless bs quotes and bs newspaper quotes (funny how you trust the “mainstream” media when it suits you). Quotes from the senators and the oil company execs.

    I’ll go back to the FACTS and NUMBERS and ORDERS of MAGNITUDE (this is what a section titled “Economics 101 remedial” should contain, but it’s all a scam, isn’t it, it’s all hype and blowing smoke). This part is devoted to quotes (and out of context to boot, so we don’t really know what was said, only your self-serving meaning adduced to it). You, a professor, regard quotes as serious “references” and “evidence”. And you regard senators and oil execs (and oil ministers — or any other ministers) as serious sources of information. I thought the purpose of something like Dissident Voice is to be healthily skeptical of such “official” sources, to question and to poke holes in their version. But not if it serves some “progressive” purpose, right, such as proving that the earth is really flat.

    Yes, let’s rely on quotes of others, what others have said to guide us through life (since we don’t have a brain to think for ourselves). Maybe we should quote the VIPs who said the Titanic was “unsinkable”? How about those “experts which said that heavier than air couldn’t fly? Let’s
    quote Hitler’s generals who told him that everything was peachy at Stalingrad. Or, quote general Westmoreland, in a congressional hearing, stating how swimmingly the Vietnam war was going. Let’s quote all those quotes from serious sources about the reasons for going into Iraq. Why we need to suspend the bill or rights.

    You’re into senators? Let’s quote senator McCain about the 100-year stay in Iraq and about bombing Iran. And what about those Patreus hearings – did those asshole senators ask the right questions, the pertinent questions? Did they do so at the oil/gas hearings, or did they just posture for the cameras? What about the Tonkin resolution – another high-faluting pronouncement from your senators.

    Oh yes, what about our social security? Yes, it’s been frittered away. Guess what – they used the sacred trust fund – the sacred trust fund that formed the bedrock foundation for the sacred promise that my money would be just used for my retirement, when my time came.

    Were they careful stewards of that money, MY MONEY, OUR MONEY. FUCK NO, those SENATORS DIDN”T GIVE A FLYING FUCK about that. They used that sacred money to plug deficit holes for their irresponsibility. Their pork barrel. Their throwing of TRILLIONS into
    the SHIT HOLE of defense industries execs multi-million dollar salaries, and heaven-high corruption – where hammers cost thousands of dollars. That’s what your FUCKING SENATORS who you like to quote, did. So, now, millions will be left without SS, THAT THEY PAID INTO ON SACRED PROMISE THAT THEY WOULD BE PAID BACK. Yes, it’s
    coming, soon enough, too soon for comfort – both sides are claiming this and that (there is a crisis, there is no crisis), for their own selfish purposes (to skin us alive in one way or another), but it’s coming, the trust fund is being rapidly depleted. Yes, a “solution” will be found – a
    fucking swindle, where you’ll get PENNIES on the DOLLAR to live on. That’s what your fucking senators did, your WISE fucking senators.

    Why don’t I have health care if those senators are so wise?

    Did those wise senators ever ASK, why ONE (ONE FUCKING COPY) of B2 bomber costs TWO BILLION DOLLARS? No, you’re reading this right, two fucking BILLION dollars (the B1-B costs “only” 1.5 BILLION). A useless piece of shit, that has to be flown out of Missouri for security purposes — on bombing missions half way around the world. (A B-52 costs $50 million). Why a pissy destroyer now costs well OVER A BILLION (they’re supposed to be a dime a dozen). Up until recently this was a price for an AIRCRAFT CARRIER, together with its complement of 70-100 high-tech planes. Is anyone fucking listening? That is YOUR and MY tax dollars, that is YOUR and MY social security — up in smoke; no, not up in smoke, buying the yachts and the jets and the mansions of multi-millionaires. Did those senators ever ask – or maybe they did, when it was TOO late, and only because citizens were outraged, why our troops didn’t have the proper body armor and the proper armored vehicles – which they STILL don’t, in spite of the TRILLIONS thrown at the military. Why the contractors got paid but didn’t deliver? Why the returning vets have no medical care? No, that’s too much to bother the senators.

    Did they EVER ask what really happened on 9/11? I mean REALLY ask REAL questions? No, too much trouble for the WISE senators. It’s not important. And you have the gumption to come here and quote SENATORS as paragons of plumbing for the truth?

    And yes, let’s not forget how almost ALL of them went to AIPAC to commit TREASON in public, to lick boots of a 5th column organization dedicated to subverting us and our interests. How many – most of them, go to Israel, regularly, to pledge allegiance to a foreign country
    occupying a foreign people.

    The oil execs – all of a sudden, they are so trustworthy. OK, from now on, we’ll trust whatever they say, right? Not just what suits YOU at the moment. So, let’s drill in ANWR, they say we need it, they say that will solve all our problems. Yes, did they explain why that Exxon-Mobil guy
    got 500 MILLION DOLLARS (HALF A BILLION) in retirement package? Did they explain that? Maybe they don’t want to say how they’re gypping you on the price of gas, how the price of gas is not supported by the price of oil, no matter how high that has gotten so far? Do the math. How they’re having record profits (40% or so profit margin, when the norm is 5%), unheard of in any industry.

    And you regard this BS as something worthy of publishing in something called “Dissident Voice”? OK, I knew the standards here are low, but I didn’t expect you to admit as much.

    Now, back to math and serious FACTS.

    There are two things that jump out, order of magnitude-wise, as being the primary mechanism for the current price of oil. One is the dollar free fall. When the current cretin-in-chief took office (OK, shortly thereafter, as euro didn’t exist until 2001), euro was worth about 89 cents. Now it’s worth double that. Oil is mainly priced in dollars, to the chagrin of the producers. The other contributor is the instability and the uncertainty that the cretin in chief and the mutated creature from Wyoming badlands introduced into the Middle East, and specifically the Persian Gulf area. About 40% of world’s oil passes through the Persian gulf area. Anyone with a brain can imagine what would happen to that oil if Iran were attacked. Even without the attack there’s plenty of
    uncertainty and chaos in that area (Iraq on one end, Afghanistan on the other, and who knows what else in the middle). When you’re buying futures you have to ask yourself how certain you’re the supply you’re contracting for will be there at a specified future date, when you don’t know what will happen there tomorrow. So, yes, you bid up the price, and maybe try to buy more than you need, because as time goes on into the future, there’s more and more uncertainty.

    So, yes, you can say these two are not “market” mechanisms, and thus the oil execs were right. But you were reading into their statement more than what they meant. And another mechanism, which I would call a market mechanism, is that the supply has been artificially constrained, i.e., the suppliers are prudently husbanding their limited and diminishing resources and setting aside the “spare” capacity.

    The other thing is the inelasticity of the oil demand and how you need a huge price increase to curb the demand just a little (and the demand HAS fallen off as a result), to equal the supply. The fact that there’s
    “spare” capacity doesn’t matter (it actually workss to increase the price, not decrease it) – that is the capacity that’s not there to meet the demand; if the world worked that way (that capacity out of production was a negative pressure on price), then the 4% (mostly imaginary) demand due to speculation (see below) would be easily covered by the “spare” capacity. If the world worked that way and “spare” capacity mattered to ease the price (except in the psychological sense to
    ease concerns about the supply), then bombing of Iran wouldn’t matter – we would simply move the 40% of the world supply temporarily into the “spare” column. Let’s move all the supply into
    the spare column and then, according to you, the price should be zero.

    The peak oil I don’t know how much that affects the price; since most of the players in the oil commodity markets are the ones cognizant of the facts here (the oil companies and such), then I imagine if they knew we were near or at the peak, then that would be also reflected in their behavior, i.e., the price, which would push it upward.

    The speculation that you refer to is only a minor factor:

    The worldwide supply of oil in 2007 was about 74 million barrels PER DAY. (That’s about equal to the demand, because you can’t store big quantities of oil, except for the little bit hoarded in various strategic petroleum reserves). Of that amount, Saudi Arabia, the largest producer, supplies 8.5 million barrels per day (about 12% of the total), and if they really went full throttle, could supply about 12-13 million barrels per day (so they say), or 12-15% of the total. So, even Saudi Arabia is supplying only a small fraction of the total (relatively speaking), so I don’t see how they have (or any other oil minister) a crystal ball as to what’s happening on the supply side.

    The speculators “take out” (more on that later) about 1 billion barrels PER YEAR. (This is from the June 25th Mike Whitney DV article in which he quotes this figure from several sources, so I assume it’s right) So, that’s about 3 million barrels PER DAY that the speculators “take out” (which they really DON’’T take out, see below), or about 4% of the total worldwide supply of 74 million barrels per day. So, those are the orders of magnitude we’re talking about –– the speculators are about 4% of the demand (/supply) –– IF they actually took possession of that oil and stored it somewhere (or burnt it), which they don’t, won’t and CAN’T do. (In reality, then, the speculators may be 4% of the oil transactions, but approximately ZERO% of the supply, i.e., demand).
    In comparison, the US strategic petroleum reserve contains about 700 million barrels, or roughly the same amount as the annual “demand” attributed to speculators.

    But the problem is that this 4% is NOT real. NO REAL OIL is taken off the market. OK, so you’re in the oil futures market –– either as a speculator, as an oil company, a refinery, oil producer. You’re either in the straight futures market or in the options market. You place either an option or order on an oil contract of –– I don’t know what the minimum chunk is, say 5,000 barrels of oil –– or several thousand of such chunks, what have you. And you do it for some future delivery date. You put your money up front. In the end, you “win”, if your offered price (either through the straight futures contract or the options leveraging process) is in the range of what the market arrived at for that contract, through many transactions such as yours. When you “win”, you either physically take possession of that oil (all 5,000 barrels of it, or 5 million barrels, what have you), or you “sell” it (in the virtual commodity market) on the spot, to someone who could use it (like a refinery) — i.e., you fail to “exercise” your option. A refinery is definitely not going to take more oil than it can process, or more oil than it thinks the demand is (that it can sell) or at a price that’s not supported by the market in the quantities that it’s buying.

    So, what do you do if you’re the “speculator”? You certainly don’t take possession of that oil –– what would you do with it –– such huge quantities, where would you store it, you’re not going to set up a distribution network, huge tank farms, are you? Of course you’ll get rid of it pronto –– get it to somebody who can use it. i.e., fail to exercise your option. To the same guys –– refineries, etc. –– who bid on it earlier, and “lost”. But those are the “serious” buyers, who know
    the oil market inside and out and what is sustainable (and who own, i.e., “won” the other 96% of the oil contracts), and they are 96% of this oil futures market –– so, the price is 96% closer to what they think it should be than what the speculators think it should be.

    So, yes, the speculators do increase the price a bit, but not by much. It would be more accurate to say that the ones holding the 96% of the market and the oil contracts (the oil companies, the refineries) are the ones setting the price. And also, the producers, who are setting aside the spare capacity. As well as the other factors (the falling dollar, the uncertainty and instability, etc.).

    Now, look at producers ACTIONS rather than WORDS. They claim this is all speculation driven. If so, why aren’t they taking advantage of the situation, while it lasts, and pumping like crazy, while oil is $140/barrel, as opposed to $20/barrel (and below) of a few years ago. As opposed to half the current price only a year ago. Shouldn’t they be wanting to maximize the profit, given the finite resources they have? I mean, all bubbles eventually burst. Given that people have cut back in response to the high prices, people and businesses have cut back; and
    further cutbacks risk plunging the world economy into a recession or worse, with even less oil consumed. So, there’s definitely unmet demand, and if what they say is true, it would be in their self-interest to jack up the production rates, to bring in the spare capacity into play. I think their ACTIONS are those of someone who knows that these prices aren’t coming down and who knows that there will be further tightening of the supplies vis a vis the current demand levels.

    What about the gas lines, why aren’t we having the gas lines? Because, the gradual imbalances are being worked away by the price mechanism, which leads to demand adjustments – we’ve all heard and read what these prices are doing to individual people’s driving habits, lifestyles, where they choose to live, on costs of everything, on biz operations. The prices gradually rise as the supply gets gradually tightened wrt demand (for whatever reason – could be just their setting aside the spare reserve capacity), the demand slowly adjusts to the rising prices and a new equilibrium is reached – in oil and gas as in everything else. When supply and demand are allowed to freely operate there are no “shortages”, at least until some extreme point is reached. As for the
    70s, yes it happened then, but then the supply was cut off suddenly, and there were no price signals ahead of time. Then it was a shock, an imbalance between supply and demand, and shortages and lines ensued.

    And, if price maximization was the oil companies wet dream, why would the refineries and the oil companies need the speculators to buy up the oil contracts to drive up the price — when they could do it themselves, they’re 96% of the market? The same for the producers — simply set aside capacity like they’re doing.

    “U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 0.8 million barrels from the previous week. At 301.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are near the lower boundary of the average range for this time of year.”

    REPEAT: US CRUDE OIL INVENTORIES ARE NEAR THE LOWER BOUNDARY OF THE AVERAGE RANGE FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR. (And, see below, they are almost 15% LOWER than the oil inventories at the same time last year).

    Source: US dept. of energy. Do a google search on ““US oil inventory”” or click on url:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/weekly_petroleum_status_report/current/txt/wpsr.txt

    (This was about a week ago: today, the inventories are even lower by 2 million barrels). So, your claim on record high inventories is hogwash, per usual, no checking of facts, just blowing smoke that’s what you do.

    According to this, the refinery inputs are about 15 million barrels per day, the crude inventory in refineries is 302 million barrels (down 5 million barrels since the end of May, so it’’s trending down in addition to be at a lower end of the average range for the time of year). So, the inventory is worth about 20 days. At this period last year, the oil inventories were about 352 million barrels, so this year is 14.4% LOWER oil inventories than last year. (And, by the way, HALF of all US oil
    inventories are in the Gulf Coast, the other regions have minuscule inventories). The gasoline inventory is slightly higher than a year ago 209 million barrels vs. 204 million barrels (2% higher). The jet fuel inventories are about 2% lower than last year. The table also shows a 2% drop in gasoline production compared to a year ago, and a 1% drop in cumulative production from January 1 of this year compared to the same period last year –– so, there’’s a demand drop.

    Conclusion: the data shows totally the opposite situation as was described in the article (the refineries hoarding the crude). Figures: lies, distortions, that’s par for the course when dealing with “progressives”.

    The other thing is, what does inventory stocks have to do with anything? The inventories fluctuate due to demand/supply fluctuations, refinery problems, shipping problems, hurricanes, and a host of other reasons. The inventory capacity is finite, and we’re looking at a steady state situation, so there could be short term fluctuations in output rate related to inventory, but in the end input equals output, and if inventory fills up, they buy less in the next period, thus exerting
    DOWNWARD pressure on the price of oil.

    It took me 5 minutes to find this information, instead of spewing hot air about things you don’t know anything about.

    The other thing is, let’s look at the orders of magnitude that this does for the bankers, the supposed culprits/beneficiaries in all of this (i.e., they are the majority of speculators, or the majority of speculative positions, this assertion is offered without any proof). As I’ve shown above, these
    “speculations” have a minuscule effect on the price. But what does it supposedly do for the bankers? As per above, the total annual speculative oil “demand” (which is not really a demand, but OK) is 1.1 billion barrels (or 4% of the supply, as shown above). 1.1 billion barrels times $140/barrel that is …….(drum roll) a MEASLY 150 billion dollars PER YEAR (in words one hundred and fifty BILLION dollars per year). WHOOPTEDOO. The bankers’ troubles nowadays are measured not in
    billions, not even in trillions, but in tens or hundreds of TRILLIONS of dollars, that’s how heavy the debt pyramid is, with their stupid derivative schemes. That’s why it threatens to swamp the economy. So, this speculative oil commodity market – assuming ALL of it is profits, which it’s not (90% losses is the norm if you don’t know what you’re doing) – all of this “speculation” is not even a drop in the bucket for what the bankers need.

    Your assertion how the drilling costs haven’t changed is simply not true, the “easy” fields have been or are being exploited, and new, more expensive techniques are coming online to keep producing from those fields and to produce from previously untouchable sources. Though, the increased drilling costs certainly (probably) do not explain such a rapid and huge runup in prices.

    So, more smoke, more distortions from “progressives” and here I have to give you another F-; instead of coming back here with FACTS and carefully researched articles after that last fiasco, you again want to snooker us with bullshit and BS quotations. It’s QUALITY, not quantity that counts.

  21. john wilkinson said on July 7th, 2008 at 1:35pm #

    “Yes, a “solution” will be found – a fucking swindle, where you’ll get PENNIES on the DOLLAR to live on.”

    another possible solution is, they’ll cut medicare to the bone, which they’ve already started to do (not that medicare isn’t a wasteful and corrupt program), while allowing continuing unchecked escalation in med costs. This will decrease the life expectancy, so problem solved.

  22. Don Hawkins said on July 7th, 2008 at 2:04pm #

    a green industrial revolution

  23. john wilkinson said on July 7th, 2008 at 4:26pm #

    “Strong feelings of patriotism lie near the surface in the great majority of Americans. They’re buried deeper in the more “liberal” and “sophisticated”, but are almost always reachable, and
    ignitable.”

    This is another of your unproven assertions. I find american patriotism to be very superficial, skin deep and not a consideration when it conflicts with life’s chores and MONEY making. Depends what you mean by patriotism (empty slogans) vs. true patriotism (which is more like humanism). Caring for others and trying to make your country the best it can be for the living and not allowing your country to slide into totalitarianism or bullshit wars, speaking out against those in power, when they screw up, even in times of war, not viewing the other people as enemy but as people, I’d say that’s true patriotism and I’d also say you get more of that in America than in any other country (see below).

    “Alexis de Tocqueville, the mid-19th century French historian, commented about his long stay in the United States: ‘It is impossible to conceive a more troublesome or more garrulous patriotism; it wearies even those who are disposed to respect it.’”

    Maybe then this was true, but not now. And it sure is weird coming from a Frenchman – they were constantly fighting “patriotic” wars, not just talking about patriotism. The American pioneers had time to talk about patriotism, instead of to look out for their bare lives? Are you
    sure you read that right, are you sure this is not another one of your out of context BS?

    “What a primitive underbelly there is to this rational society. The US is the most patriotic, as well as the most religious, country of the so-called developed world. The entire American patriotism thing may be best understood as the biggest case of mass hysteria in history, whereby the crowd adores its own power as troopers of the world’s only superpower, a substitute for the lack of power in the rest of their lives.”

    A substitute for the lack of facts to prove your pet themes is inventing such “facts”. How did you measure that the US is the most patriotic country? (And then you qualify it with “in the developed world”). Did you do some surveys? And how do you know the crowd adores “its”
    power as troopers of the world’s superpower – I’ve never experienced that. Did you ask the soldiers in Iraq as they were scanning for where the next bullet might come from?

    As someone who grew up in Europe, I can tell you that the US is refreshingly unpatriotic. (The reason, like I said is too many chores and preoccupation with one’s problems, which is fine, the way it should be). Yes, it’s become more of a nuisance since 9/11, but unquestioning patriotism here is kept in check — to the extent possible in a human society. When Iraq was invaded, people went out in the streets, and a healthy minority, if not a majority, was against it. Turkish people
    went out in the streets to demand bombing of the Kurds in Iraq, demanded that Iraq be invaded. The French people were all up in arms about French Vietnam, about Algiers. You’re saying they, the French are less nationalistic than we are? (I am not talking about some asshole fox news idiot, or tom delay, I’m talking about common people). They constantly have chips on their shoulders about alleged slights, esp. against Americans. The Chinese people marching about Taiwan. The
    Japanese people refusing to own up to WW2 and its atrocities. In my country (Serbia), I have yet to elicit any show of empathy, of shame, from a SINGLE person, about the war crimes that have been committed in our name in the 90s, about the ethnic cleansing, about the burning, pillaging, destruction, about the half a million DEAD. It’s OK, as long as we did it, those people are not criminals they are patriots, even though their actions pushed the rest of us into a shit hole..

    And there’s a lot of reverse nationalism in Europe, Canada, etc. They’re all too quick to criticize the US, but forget their own history. Recently I was in a car in Budapest and the guy is going ballistic about the US, how we didn’t risk a nuclear war over them when they had their revolution
    in 1956, how we invade countries, how we invaded Afghanistan, etc. But he forgot how his countrymen massacred whole villages in my country, Serbia, in WW2, when they were in cahoots with Hitler. Such people would be the first to scream revenge if 9-11 happened to THEM. And they — the Europeans, the Canadians, talk endlessly about the US military budget, about lack of social things here. Yes the military budget is out of control, but part of the reason is THEY got a free ride. They have all those wonderful social nets, etc., because WE paid for them, through our military spending. We provided the umbrella for them (during the cold war) — for all those gazillion countries, they didn’t have to spend a penny on defense. And now, we have no social
    nets and we have a military that’s out of control – yes, but THEY bear some responsibility for this.

    “And you’ll parade with your flags and your images of the Statue of Liberty. But do you know that the sculptor copied his mother’s face for the statue, a domineering and intolerant woman who had forbidden another child to marry a Jew?”

    Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who built the SOL, had the mother, Charlotte, who is described as “stern and possessive”. I didn’t find anything on her being “intolerant”, or domineering for that matter or any reference on another child or marrying a Jew; neither did I find anything on her being the model for the SOL. Why would Bartholdi, a freedom lover, and a booster of French-American friendship, want to put an intolerant face on his statue, which was to be a statue of liberty? And if so, it is what the statue represents that counts and that has been transferred through generations, not who the “model”
    was, if there had been any such thing. You probably invented the whole thing, didn’t you? And what does liberty, or SOL, have to do with patriotism? The SOL is rarely, if ever, the focus of, or mentioned in conjunction with patriotism.

    OK, I found a bit more. This is what Wikipedia says:

    ‘Unsubstantiated sources cite different models for the face of the statue. One indicated the then-recently widowed Isabella Eugenie Boyer, the wife of Isaac Singer, the sewing-machine industrialist. “She was rid of the uncouth presence of her husband, who had left her with only his most socially desirable attributes: his fortune and …… his children. She was, from the beginning of her career in Paris, a well-known figure. As the good-looking French widow of an American industrialist she was called upon to be Bartholdi’s model for the Statue of Liberty.” Another source believed that the “stern face” belonged to Bartholdi’s mother, Charlotte Bartholdi (1801––1891), with whom he was very close. National Geographic magazine also pointed to his mother, noting that Bartholdi never denied nor explained the resemblance.’

    Nothing here about “intolerant and domineering”, either. So, at best, there is uncertainty as to who the model was. Even if it was the mother, there’s no record that I could find of her “intolerance” or “domineering”. And even if true, that wouldn’t have been the reason she was chosen, but rather the fact that the artist was close to his mother, and additionally the artist believed in liberty and French-American friendship. So, where’s the reference for your assertion?

    “‘Patriotism,’ Dr. Samuel Johnson famously said, ‘is the last refuge of a scoundrel.’ Ambrose Bierce begged to differ —— It is, he said, the first.”

    No, he didn’t say “a scoundrel”, he said “scoundrels”. And why don’t you say anything about religion? I agree with the “patriotism” being destructive, etc., but the religion, too, is the last and the first refuge of scoundrels, esp. here in the US. And it’s probably responsible for much more murder and mayhem and destruction through history (and wasted, unfulfilled lives, esp. in America) than patriotism. Americans are far, far more indoctrinated, brainwashed, etc., etc., with religion than with patriotism. Are you superstitious yourself, do you yourself believe those Santa Claus stories, are you afraid your God might smite you if you said something about religion? Or afraid you’d turn off a big chunk of your adoring audience, who can’t see beyond their noses
    religion-wise or anything else-wise? Then you’re a false witness, somebody with a conflict of interest who can’t speak the whole truth.

    “I can’t think of a single democracy except the United States that has a pledge of allegiance.”

    The following countries (at least — that I could find in about 2 minutes) have “oaths of allegiance”, according to Wikipedia; the definition thereof seems to be the same as that of the pledge of allegiance and is to be recited at various official functions by officials (e.g., members of
    Parliament, etc.) or schoolchildren: India (the LARGEST democracy in the world), Canada (our next door neighbor), Great Britain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines.

    So, again, you took something out of context and subverted it for your own purposes, to mean EXACTLY the opposite of the truth.

  24. Lloyd Rowsey said on July 7th, 2008 at 7:46pm #

    Heysu, John. Nice posts.

  25. Don Hawkins said on July 8th, 2008 at 8:40am #

    The flag pin, things are not quite what they seem and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

  26. john wilkinson said on July 8th, 2008 at 12:26pm #

    “However, this was never in the cards because of MAD —— Mutually Assured Destruction.”

    “Which is why all the scary talk of recent years about Saddam Hussein and Iran and all their alleged and potential weapons of mass destruction was just that —— scary talk. Hussein was not, and the Iranians are not, MAD.”

    So, nuclear weapons – invented and put in practice by capitalists and imperialists – are not that bad, eh? And our presidents sometimes act sensibly, instead of the world being all black and white like you portray it? They serve a useful purpose of retarding war (both the nukes and the
    presidents)? Good, but are you saying that your progressives’ 60-year jihad and fear-mongering against nuclear weapons has been misplaced? Or was it just scary talk to get people to do what you wanted them to do? Which of the other of your “progressive” jihads will turn out to be just as misguided and a waste of time, or worse, manipulation of others?

    But anyway, if you look a little DEEPER, which YOU NEVER do, there’s still the possibility of these weapons falling into wrong hands (people without return addresses), either by design or accident/lapse in security, that’s why some people are concerned, not because they believe Iran or N. Korea will launch one against us.

    As for Cuba, yes, if you look at it on the surface – which is ALWAYS the way YOU look at things, THEORETICALLY we were not in danger due to MAD. (Of course, I am not sure that the MAD doctrine, with all its ramifications and thought processes had been fully developed by
    that time — but OK). But you never know where sequence of events, escalations and miscalculations might lead. The leaders were not in charge of every event and every person at the scene. Here’s an excerpt (do a search on nuclear weapons in 1962):

    “In the middle of the escalating tensions, the destroyer USS Beale was dropping depth charges on the Soviet submarine B-59, one of four at the quarantine line, each carrying nuclear-tipped torpedoes. According to National Security Archives director Thomas Blanton, the US Navy “did
    not have a clue that the submarine had a nuclear weapon on board.” (My comment: at that time, ballistic missile submarines or other nuclear-armed submarines did not exist or were in their
    infancy; even ICBMs were nascent technology). The sub’s signals intelligence officer Vadim Orlov said in an account issued by Blanton, “They exploded right next to the hull. It felt like you
    were sitting in a metal barrel, which somebody is constantly blasting with a sledgehammer.” According to Orlov’s account, the Soviet submarine’s crew thought the war may have started and considered using their nuclear weapon, but decide instead to surface. “

    Both Kennedy and Kruschev were scared shitless, from day one, that things would go out of control. (Again, there’s a detailed timeline of the crisis on the internet). They and their advisors were the ones in the thick of this, they were the ones cognizant of where this might lead to. (And yes, there had been a lot of discussion and disagreement within each country, both about putting the American missiles in Turkey and about putting the Soviet missiles in Cuba — precisely because they – both sides, were constantly anxious as to how it might eventually play out). But you know better, sitting on the sidelines in safety from thousands of miles away and decades away, typing away in your armchair. Both of them took pains not to push the other one into a corner and not to let the other one misperceive or miscalculate. And the doctrines of both countries of how to deal with nuclear weapons and various scenarios and safeguards were not mature at this time,
    another reason why there was apprehension and uncertainty. There were many messages going both ways between them. Castro – your comrade in arms, was the reckless one, asking Krushchev to launch the nuclear-tipped missiles that had been assembled in Cuba (well, OK, he was scared too, because it looked that an American invasion was imminent). Kennedy sent an urgent message to the commanders of the nuclear tipped Jupiter missiles in Turkey, telling them to destroy or disable those missiles if a launch order came from anyone but himself directly. The B-52 fleet carrying nuclear bombs was put on high alert, such that at least one eighth of the bombers were in the air at any given time. The B-52s, the B47s and other aircraft were dispersed across the country. Yes, they were expecting this might get out of hand. So, yes, in that regard MAD worked, both sides took pains to prevent an uncontrolled and uncontrollable escalation to the extent that they could, but in life sometimes you can’t prevent everything, and you can’t think of everything and events and people take unexpected turns. A US spy plane was shot down over Cuba during the crisis, another one strayed into Soviet airspace. Not to mention that there were
    Kennedy advisors who were advocating much more aggressive actions, including an invasion of Cuba, and there were serious moves and preparations made in that regard.

    “By 1962, the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union had grown so large and sophisticated that neither superpower could entirely destroy the other’s retaliatory force by launching a missile first, even with a surprise attack.”

    Maybe they were sophisticated for those times, but they were pretty primitive, and not very large. Most of it was bomber based, with a nascent missile program (the Sputnik had happened only 5
    years earlier). (The Soviets had only 10-20 ICBMs at the time, compared to thousands later on). The submarine force didn’t exist. There was never a question of destroying the other’s retaliatory
    force (too many bombers on both sides), and all forces except for the tactical ones were really retaliatory forces (not very accurate) designed to hit cities and soft targets like airfields. The missiles were cumbersome, inaccurate, relatively short range (thus the need for Cuban and Turkish facilities) and had to be fueled up and prepped prior to launch, which might take hours.

    You wouldn’t launch “a missile” in a surprise attack (what kind of attack would that be with ONE missile?), but ALL your missiles, but most of your nuclear capability was on the bombers, which would take many hours to reach their targets.

    “Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev was only looking for equality. The United States had missiles and bomber bases already in place in Turkey and other missiles in Western Europe pointed toward the Soviet Union.”

    Yes, but again it’s not as black and white and as simple as you portray it. The Cuban missile crisis happened in October of 1962, and the Soviets started shipping missiles to Cuba in June-July of that year. The Jupiter missiles were put in Turkey only in April of that same year, after much back and forth and much hesitation. (There had been no nuclear missiles in Turkey prior to this). As a matter of fact, the Jupiters were almost not installed, because the US changed its mind shortly prior to April – precisely because not to spook the Soviets. But then, the Turks objected, they had expended too much political capital to have them and “it would look bad”. And the Turks objected throughout the Cuban missile crisis to any thought of having those missiles removed. But they WERE removed, less than a month after the crisis ended.

    As for bomber bases in Turkey, I haven’t found references on those, but the Soviets had formidable air-defense systems in place, much better than ours in the US; neither does Nikita mention those bomber bases, nor were they mentioned in negotiations during the crisis.

    As for equality, etc., the writer again just looks at the surface, at one side of the issue. And the Soviets are always good, and the Americans bad. Nikita didn’t tell you that the Soviets had a huge advantage in conventional weaponry, that they were menacing Western Europe (with both conventional and nuclear weapons and all kinds of bases), which was almost theirs for the taking. Many people in Western Europe fully expected that the day would arrive bringing Soviet tanks over the next hill. So, the situation facing the two superpowers was never equivalent. The Soviets had a buffer of their satellites around them, so they were somewhat protected from military threats from Western Europe. Turkey, a NATO ally, had a border with USSR and felt very vulnerable. This was exacerbated by geography, as the Soviet ships had to pass through Turkish waters on their way out the Black sea; the Soviets desperately wanted a warm water port without interference, so yes, Turkey was a desirable target for them.

    About Nikita Kruschev: he succeeded Stalin and gave a famous speech, in 1956, called “the secret speech” criticizing his predecessor. It was a shocking and courageous speech, since he was not yet firmly ensconced in power. The speech title and subject: “On the Personality Cult and its
    Consequences”. But the funny thing is, while the speech was disseminated to all eastern-european communists, the western communist leaders, who had also received it, kept it from their members, until it was leaked to the western media and it appeared there. So, this is the kind of cloth that you “progressives” are made of (since you’re the sympathizers) — exulting in and shielding personality cults within you and keeping the discussion of the same from the rank and file.

    And this is what you practice with your Nader personality cult.

  27. john wilkinson said on July 9th, 2008 at 11:28am #

    “At the end of World War II, the United States gave moral lectures to their German prisoners and to the German people…”

    “Tony Blair, former British prime minister, defending his role in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis…”

    Isn’t it ironic that here you’re (and other “progressives”) giving moral lectures to your readers, while in past posts you’ve (and other “progressives”) defended the murders (and the murderers)
    of hundreds of thousands in former Yugoslavia.

    BTW, doesn’t anyone find it ironic that these writers in DV rarely bother to read and respond to readers’ comments. (there are a few fine exceptions). Mr. Blum NEVER does, it’s beneath him, it’s “inconvenient” as he once told us. You see, he’s busy, he’s got much more important things to attend to than educate a bunch of yahoos who refuse to see “the light” at first sight and who ask pesky questions about his bullshit. So, Mr. Blum, who is all up in arms about all that ails this
    country, doesn’t want to engage in a discussion. To him, it’s not important to get to the truth and to educate the masses. Why isn’t it important, when he’s railing about these things? Well, if change were to occur (REAL change), or if the truth were to come to light, he, and many other “progressives” would lose a dependable stream of steady, EASY, income. Easy, because nothing is easier than selling the “progressives” a bill of goods — most of them flunked school (just look at individual comments), and, as a result their lives are in shit, that’s why they are bitching about the society and usually missing the mark by thousands of miles.

  28. john wilkinson said on July 9th, 2008 at 12:42pm #

    “Heysu, John. Nice posts.”

    Good, I’m glad you like them, Lloyd.

  29. david taylor said on July 3rd, 2009 at 8:30pm #

    Great article, Mr. Blum! I agree with you completely that the American style of patriotism is just too much in many cases.

  30. olklkoo fehgeg said on July 4th, 2009 at 10:05am #

    Yet another insightful and brilliant article from Bill Blum. Keep up the good work, and do your best to fight the American Empire.

    And john wilkinson can do us all a favor and remove himself …

  31. olklkoo fehgeg said on July 4th, 2009 at 4:15pm #

    from the gene pool, as he is a fucking waste of space.

  32. olklkoo fehgeg said on July 4th, 2009 at 4:25pm #

    Too bad john couldn’t be one of the victims of 9/11. Fucking idiot.