Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

Peak Oil Fact or Fallacy!

Michael Lynch makes some compelling points in his recent piece on ‘Peak Oil’ in the NYT (, but he calls on one very important fallacy commonly invoked by the Big Oil:  Rate-Of-Discovery Is Not A Concern!

He states that “easy oil” is gone is “vague and irrelevant”. If you replaced the word oil with coal a majority of geologists would agree with the contention that “easy coal” is indeed gone. If it isn’t than why are we resorting to horrific, both from a health and ecological perspective, techniques such as mountain-top-removal and strip mining of thousand of Appalachian and Northern Plains hectares? The answer is that the industry is desperate and the same curse will strike Exxon, Conoco, etc. Recent advocacy for hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale is a prime indicator of such desperation and presents similar concerns for human health and our fisheries here in the Northeast.

The fuzzy logic Mr. Lynch refers to is actually his estimate that their are 2 trillion barrels of “recoverable” oil. According to who? BP and the EIA estimated 1.26 and 1.32 trillion barrels, respectively. This amounts to anywhere from 30 to 43 years of oil depending on whether we do what we did in 2008 curbing consumption by 1.1 billion barrels or we reach the commonly held projection of 43.1 billion barrels by 2030. I think it is time for another Malaise Speech. Obama….Obama….!

Another Reason I Am Not A Democrat!

The amazingly phony nature of the tribute to Ted Kennedy in the media and New England writ large. If you or I had been in his position we would be in jail for Chappaquiddick. I wonder how Mary Jo Kopechne’s family feels about the ‘Lion of the Senate? I can only guess their opinion of the man is diametrically opposed to that presented by the talking heads on network television and unfortunately my beloved NPR.

Also his family’s opposition to Cape Wind is indicative of the phony liberalism of the New England I love so much? We proselytize on our Green Soap Box, but as soon as we are asked to do more than talk and actually do we hide behind our NIMBY bullshit! Kennedy and his kind are the neoliberals Naomi Klein so effectively and efficiently exposed.

The Reason I Am Not A Democrat!

Quite simply it is the nasty and bullying nature of the Democrat establishment in New York. The party bosses are doing all they can to line the path for Kirsten Gillibrand the default junior Democratic senator form NY who took the spot vacated by Hillary Clinton on January 19th, 2009 (

It seems as though we are throwing coals in the fire that doesn’t want to confuse folks with the facts but rather distract them with bluster, pandering rhetoric, fiction, and more often than not outright fiction.

This is an amazing example of how we in this country have come to view political power as a game and not a responsibility. I have nothing against Ms. Gillibrand other than her apparent Blue Dog predilections. She is I assume loyal to her constituents in upstate New York. However, the likes of Chuck Schumer are determined to hold her hand in 2010. Do we really want someone representing us (ie New York in this case) that can’t fend for themselves in a primary battle? We have a similar predicament here in Vermont where Patrick Leahy are 6-term (soon to be 7) has essentially been unopposed throughout his tenure, with the exception being the yeomen effort of Fred Tuttle (;

These are just 2 examples of the inability of the Democratic Party to set aside it’s collective ego and acknowledge it’s broader identity. Until they do this folks like myself and skeptics writ large will align with folks like Ralph Nader, Bernie Sanders, and Russ Feingold. You can say voting for the former is a wasted vote….and I could just as easily invoke the same when noting the supposed neoliberal capitulation to the Democrats.

Do you really want to starve the beast?

I for one do not? Does that make me an advocate of Big Brother type big government advocate? Nope. I don’t want government to be looking in our bedrooms or bookshelves or email or tapping our phones. Rather I want them to do with our precious tax dollars what they should be doing…..fixing stuff, supporting those in need, and fueling innovation. You may ask what does it mean to starve the beast? (bartlett_starve-the-beast)

Well “starving the beast” is a term originally coined in a WSJ article by Paul Blustein ( and adamantly preached by the neoconservative wunderkind. This theory reduces taxes on the upper 2% via reduced capital gains, estate, and income taxes, primarily by allowing the elite to declare income as capital gains, which reduces taxable income from 34-38% to 15%. A classic example of this is Warren Buffet noting his personal assistant coughs up a greater percentage of her annual income in taxes than he does, because most of his income is declared as capital gains.

The starve the beast argument foments outright hatred of government by conflating taxes with socialism and the near and dear gun rights of this nations many cowboys. Of course this plays to the underlying fears of an already petrified nation. The last thing this country needs is another thing to be afraid of as we now have climate change, Iran, the Taliban, North Korea, China, Russia, lawyers, unemployment, diabetes, etc. Yet, given all this neocons feel the best remedy is adding to rather than ameliorating these fears. What a bunch of great folks? They must be true patriots.

However, I ask of those interested in an anorexic beast: Do you drive a car or better yet do you like smooth drivable roads? You do? Of course you do we all enjoy our asphalt alleys winding their way through urban centers and rural outposts alike. Well there is a price associated with that privilege and it is a privilege when compared to developed and undeveloped nations alike. Congress has been forced to bailout the fund that pays for the various interstate transportation projects this country takes on every year. Don’t worry its just $7 billion which pales in comparison to things like defense spending (

Starving the beast is a convenient and short-term method of consolidating wealth, is completely counter intuitive, and a theory that we should hope is entering the twilight of its relevance.