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"America is addicted to oil"

At his State of the Union Address, President Bush promised "to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025", because "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." Most experts and the NYT are skeptical:
President Richard M. Nixon promised in 1971 to make the United States self-sufficient in energy by 1980. President Jimmy Carter promised in 1979 that the nation would "never again use more foreign oil than we did in 1977." And Mr. Bush has called in each of his past four State of the Union addresses for a reduction in the dependence on foreign oil. Despite those promises in the past 35 years, United States dependence on oil imports is at a record level.
The good news is that OPEC got concerned by the president's speech. The US imports most of its oil from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. The European Union, however, is much more dependent on Middle East oil than the US is. A longer piece on energy dependence will be published in the Atlantic Review in the next few weeks. (Help is appreciated.)
President Bush also warned against the "false comfort of isolationism" and stressed his commitment to Iraq. Edit Copy has excellent press coverage of the State of the Union Address.

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Atlantic Review on : Historical Comparisons: Fritz Stern Publishes "Five Germanys I Have Known"

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"Can It Happen Here?" is the headline of the NY Times review of the Fritz Stern's memoir: In November 2005, Fritz Stern received an award for his life's work on Germans, Jews and the roots of National Socialism, presented to him by Joschka Fisc

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Brigitte on :

Oxford professor Timothy Garton Ash called Bush a member of the "Euroweenies club". What a difference four years and a bloody nose in Iraq make: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1700142,00.html >>Yes, President Bush had some stern words for Iran in his state of the union address this week. But the tone was very different from his state of the union in 2002, soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks, when he arbitrarily hitched together Iraq, Iran and North Korea in an "axis of evil". Now he says "the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons". The world, note, not the United States. But how will the world prevent it? At the moment the only serious answer coming from Washington is multilateral diplomacy, preferably through the UN. Welcome to the Euroweenies club, Mr President!

joe on :

Ash confuses words with actions. His comment might have merit if they were written AFTER the french launched. Since they will never do that, this is just so much french euro prop for the masses. It surely got the Germans into an uproar. POTUS phrase "the world" was just that. A hand offered to the EU and other nations, just as he offered one to the democrats on domestic issues. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and if it becomes a Conciliation Trap. The POTUS is making an assumption Iran is not only a US concern but also a world concern. This would seem to be true given the actions of the EU3 over the last 3 years. Then again when it comes time to act, the US will act. It will only be a question of what nations of the world will act with the US. How Ash makes a big deal of this is beyond me. It could be wishful thinking, the need to pump up Europe or the UN or maybe he just needed to publish another column according to his contractual terms. People seem to have such short memories. But then Ash is all about the EU and the UN and world government so his comments and that they would appear in the Guardian are not at all surprising nor even his use of a Brookings Institution expert. Then again it is possible we heard different speech. I guess Ash doesn’t think these two SOTUS comments are not similar in any way. 2003: The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq's ongoing defiance of the world. ... If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him 2006: The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. (Applause.) America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats. 2003: Tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country — your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. 2006: Iran [is] a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. ... Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran. Of course Ash and the Europeans might think the US position of how to deal with Iran by a new Administration could be different. I seriously doubt that but then again I am not an expert on American foreign policy like Ash. Then again a nuclear-armed Iran might be no threat at all to the world at large. I am perfectly prepared to accept that Europe will allow Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth if to prevent this costs them anything more than words. So all this means in the larger scope of things is the UN game will be played. It will result in once again showing how the UN is both a corrupt and ineffective organization. This is just the beginning and not the end. Another step in the process. What Ash chose not to address and the POTUS did was a growing trend of Americans wanting to revert back to isolationism. This trend I believe will grow in time. So Iran may not be a problem for the US. It might be more of a problem for the rest of the world. The likelihood of this would increase if the US ever gets serious about its energy policy. But hey, if this makes you feel good then by all means think what you want. Believe the idea that finally GWB has some how left the building.

Thomas on :

Empty promises... Bush verarscht die Amis. Read Paul Krugman: "So President Bush’s plan to reduce imports of Middle East oil turns out to be no more substantial than his plan — floated two years ago, then flushed down the memory hole — to send humans to Mars. But what did you expect? After five years in power, the Bush administration is still — perhaps more than ever — run by Mayberry Machiavellis, who don’t take the business of governing seriously. Here’s the story on oil: In the State of the Union address Mr. Bush suggested that “cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol” and other technologies would allow us “to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East.” But the next day, officials explained that he didn’t really mean what he said. “This was purely an example,” said Samuel Bodman, the energy secretary. And the administration has actually been scaling back the very research that Mr. Bush hyped Tuesday night: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is about to lay off staff because of budget cuts. “A veteran researcher,” reports The New York Times, “said the staff had been told that the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass, which includes ethanol.” http://www.trueblueliberal.com/2006/02/03/state-of-delusion/

joe on :

Thomas, You are so funny. I love your referenced sources. First the NYT and then one of their "stars". I would have much rather seen a reference to the CBO or OMB. Much of this is back to program reviews again. There are not enough of these done because each program has its own set of champions both inside and outside of the government. They also take lots of time. Programs take a life of their own and are all but impossible to kill even if they are a total waste of resources. Also remember in the form of government the US has the POTUS proposes the budget and Congress approves the budget. In modern times, there has never been a President of either party who has gotten the budget he submitted to Congress approved. Equally this means while each department spends untold man-hours developing budget documents, what they receive in actual funding authority is a quite different. The ability of the departments to operate effectively in large measure depends on the flexibility they have in using the funds. Some of the language one finds in the Appropriation Bills can only be called criminal but yet this is the will of Congress. Also there tends to be in the US, at least, this discussion if a program is not funded at the level it was projected to be in the out years it is somehow a cut. During the budgeting process, the budgets are extended. No one really pays a lot of attention to these numbers unless it happens to be your pet rock or if you want to score political points. So there is lots of moaning by the rock holders or the party out of power about cuts when these out year numbers become the baseline for the current budget year. Yet year over year comparisons show real growth. The growth is just less than was projected from an early budget round. But on a serious note. The way the energy problem will be solved will be by the private sector. The best way to accomplish this is through the tax code. Let the market place sort out the winners and losers. Write it so people are willing to take risks associated knowing they will be rewarded if they are successful. This is where government screws up and it does not matter which government or who is leading it. If technologies have economic merit, no subsidy is necessary. If they don't, then no subsidy will provide it. This is just a simple truism. Every time government gets into something and starts underwriting the costs you can count on it will cost more, there will be less of it and it will not run very effectively. I am lead to believe in Germany there is a credit for the use of diesel fueled cars. Suppose instead of giving individuals this credit, that Berlin gave a huge credit for the purchase of alternative fuel cars. Combine this with a large reduction in the taxes on alternative fuels and I think you would see signification sales of alternative fueled cars by the German people. You would also see the auto manufactures trying to develop these type cars because they would not want to lose sales to the few models, which currently exist in the market place. Hopefully this will be the direction the US takes. Now if you knew all of this, then I am sorry I bored you. Of course if your objective was to bash the POTUS please do not let my post slow you down at all.

Thomas on :

Sure, Congress approves budget, but the Republicans have had the majority for a decade in Congress. Why don't they support their president? Besides, why does Bodman contradict his boss just a day after the SOTU address?

Thomas on :

The NYT is the most respected and most widely read newspaper in the US. Sure it is mainly read by Democrats and the intellectual wing of the Republicans. Is there any conservative reality based newspaper with a similar circulations except the WSJ? What are CBO and OMB?

joe on :

Actually that is not true for the NYT. Equally you have forgotten the power in the Senate. So the idea that Republicans have control of both houses does not mean they can pass an agenda. If that were true, then the social security problem the US faces would have already been addressed. Just as it does not mean that Republicans are some how monolithic on budget items or for that matter on any issue.

joe on :

Congressional Budget Office Office of Management and Budget

joe on :

Thomas, The Right is just beating the tar out of the POTUS over his energy proposals. They view it as just more wasted money. If it is like all the other energy programs passed by Congress in the last 25 years it will not only be a huge waste of money but will result in nothing significant. If you actually read the NYT and are a fan of Krugman, then it is safe to assume you liked Clinton. Here is an example. Congress funded the Clinton administration program called “The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles” and producing nothing of consequence, Japanese auto companies — without significant government help — were busy designing the hybrid powered engines that are now all the rage within the auto industry. So this silliness is not restricted to just one party. There are hundreds of these failed programs. So if they all get cut, that would be positive. It would then force the private sector to take the lead. The US auto companies will either figure this out or they will go broke as they lose market share to innovative companies. And from this President this is not a new topic. 2002 Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy. 2003 Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. 2004 Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run. 2005 To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. What moneys that have been appropriated have resulted in nothing truly significant. Again I go back to the idea of tax code changes. Poor GWB and WJC they just cannot win on energy.

Brigitte on :

So the Energy secretary rejects the president's policy? Why don't you make gasoline as expensive as it is in Germany? Then less Americans would drive SUVs and more Americans would ride the bike or public transport and Venezuela and Saudi Arabia would get less funding for their anti-American policies. Besides the oil price would not be so high, i.e. Russia and Iran would have less money to oppress freedom...

joe on :

I would agree with you about sending money to the oil producing nations. I just hate that. I may never see it in my life time but at some point in the future once the world moves away from oil, these nations can go back to the way they were in the 1920’s. Both raising taxes and the use of mass transit are both non-starters. Raising taxes would cause a voter revolt, however it is always a suggestion. One of the reasons I think many people would object to this is the government would do nothing but waste the money collected. For sure they would spend it. Let’s face it, in every nation there are hundreds of things government would like to do if they only had the money. Secondly on taxes and this relates to mass transit, there is no viable mass transit system to use. The reason there is no mass transit system in most of the nation is population density, or more to the point lack of it. Raising taxes would fall disproportional on those who could least afford it. Most people who drive do so because they have to. They drive to and from work. In most cases they do not live near where they work. The reasons for this are many. But they are in fact life style choices and like no other nation the automobile is very much part of the American culture. Two quick figures. I live in Georgia. Our land mass is a little less than half of Germany’s. Germany has about 82.4 million people. Georgia has about 8.8 million. The population density in Germany is 596 people per square mile and in Georgia it is 141 per square mile. In Montana, which is close to the same land mass as Germany the population, density is 6.2 people per square mile. Needless to say this causes all grades of problems with interstructure from cell phone towers, to underground power lines to rail systems. I am not sure if you have visited the US and if you have where. If you have not maybe one day you will be able to and when you do actually get out and see America. I equally fault Americans who go to Europe and see 7 countries in 14 days and think they have seen Europe. They have not. The two single biggest problems people have when they discuss Europe or a European nation and the US is a total lack of understanding of the reality of time and distance. Americans are surprised at how small Europe is. They want to make it much bigger and have a mental concept that one has to go a long distance when traveling from one country to another. This even after they have looked at a map in preparation for their trip. Europeans have the opposite problem in not realizing how big the US is. So if you come to the US I would suggest add a couple of days to your stay; rent a car and drive. Once you can understand these two different but similar concepts then a lot of what Europe does makes sense for Europe. Equally what the US does makes sense in the US.

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