so, what are we learning?

I sometimes think that we have just an epidemic of people determined to confuse everything as much as possible.

Another of the televised dog and pony shows has now passed by, this time, the second of the debates with the current president and the Republican party challenger. That, right there, in itself, points down one of endless possible side roads of discussion, as there were two candidates there, current president Barack Obama of the famous D party and challenger Willard Romney of R membership. The thing here, completely overlooked on the public radar, is that there are, in fact, more than two people seeking election to the office.

It turns out that Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein went to the site of the October 16 debate and was stopped from entering the place, and then arrested, and charged with disorderly conduct. How about that freedom and democracy?

Neither Stein nor Libertarian party candidate Gary Johnson were invited to participate by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates. Get that? The BIpartisan commission, as in two parties, and you’re not in the club. Whatever you might think of either of them, I’ve had some chance to hear them both speak at some reasonable length on TV (what minimal attention they have gotten), and they’re both serious people who deserve a hearing. Neither of them are idiots or jackasses.

I didn’t have the stomach, patience, or time to sit watching this thing. I went and retrieved a transcript of the event. Better to get through faster, skip all the shallow theatrics that seem to fascinate superficial idiots, and just skip some bullshit.


So. The next day, I wander into Facebook, and a guy had watched the debate and decided to share his comments ; that Obama was interrupting and being wrong, with the added comment that he was rolling on the floor laughing at Obama during the “energy” portion.

Really? So off I went to read the transcript.

I found that, in the course of one long exchange, the “energy” bit, , Romney interrupted Obama, and then, eventually, the moderator, as she tried to get control of this farce, 15 times. That was after Romney had asked a question of Obama, and Obama was answering him (or at least trying)

Mendacious Mitt was indulging in his usual routine of pandering moment by moment and lying his ass off.

One major problem I did see with what Obama said under the subject of “energy” was repeating what seems to have become an accepted meme, this “one hundred years of natural gas” line. That’s a problem, and a pretty major issue all on its own, as looking around for other information, it seems this notion about natural gas is, to put it very mildly, extremely over optimistic.

Moving beyond that, I pointed out that Willard Romney’s stated plans for “energy independence”, to be exact, North American energy independence, is fully delusional, or just pandering dishonesty.

The Facebook Man wasn’t interested in the relevant facts of the matter. He didn’t want to know. I mean, he really didn’t want to know. He was very insistent about it.

One other passing comment was kind of telling, when, in responding to somebody who pointed out the Romney habit of perpetual lying, Facebook Man said “some people might call them lies, others would call them views” (my italics for emphasis).

That sums up many problems, and it’s far bigger than some little stupid online webpage squabble.

It’s about not just ignorance, it’s about people who evidently don’t even want to know, determined to be ignorant and stay that way. It’s worse, in that a stunning number of people seem to have lost track of the difference between fact and all the different forms of not fact, and even the understanding that this distinction matters.

And if you try to point a light at something and get them to understand it, they just think you’re being a dick.


A huge part of it, today, orbits and twists around simplistic and irrational notions, that have anything that’s a matter of factual reality stuffed and filtered through some kind of set of suppositions about somebody being for/against CandidateA/CandidateB and PartyA/PartyB.

In the realm of absurdity of the current circumstances of American national “two-party system” politics and a presidential election campaign, way too many people herd themselves into some contrived diametric opposition, of people who have notions of President Barack Obama as something he is not, versus people who have other notions of President Barack Obama as something he is not.

People carrying around notions of cartoon villain fictionalized Obama are evidently so deranged that they’re willing to select, as president of their nation, a man who has not only demonstrated almost constantly that he’s a full on sociopath and pathological liar, but he’s such an obvious, almost stereotypical, plutocrat that he actually is almost a cartoon caricature.

In this setting of circumstances and some kind of widespread national mental illness, serious, realistic, objective, rational discussion of serious things that matter, with maybe even a little general human goodwill, has become more and more damned near impossible sometimes.


The whole episode of “the energy portion” of the presidential selection dog and pony show gets into fairly involved territory. It’s quite a snarled knot to unravel.

For people who just want “bottom line” simple short summaries, well, first, I’m here to tell you, that’s part of the problem. Too many people want simple, short, sweet answers that tell them what they want to hear, or at least appear to make a complex subject nice and short and simple.

It’s a problem where people just don’t want to know, even if somebody else does their homework for them and gives them
the answers, and then even explains the answers.

Then, it’s even worse than that. People having the finished homework handed to them on a platter will pout and complain about it. That might disturb the convenient nonsense and illusions and assumptions they have built up.


You can go and read the transcript of the October 16, 2012 event in question and read it yourself. To save you some wading, you can get straight to the “energy part”, that got Facebook Man speaking from the wrong orifice, by going to the linked page and banging this text into the text find function of your web browser: “and we want to get a question from Philip Tricolla“. You might want to back up to the part immediately

I will warn you, in case you didn’t know this already, it’s boring, and it’s irritating stuff for reality-based humans. Here’s a short version summary: this is present time American politics failing us in the matter of honestly and seriously addressing and dealing with things that matter.

Understanding this requires a little detail and some time to wade through it.


So please bear with me for a bit, and let’s look at some of this.

MS. CROWLEY: Governor, on the subject of gas prices.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, let’s look at the president’s policies, all right, as opposed to the rhetoric, because we’ve had four years of policies being played out. And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production is down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands and in federal waters. So where’d the increase come from? Well, a lot of it came from the Bakken Range in North Dakota.

Just this one quick bit is a big tangled knot to unravel. So I’ll break it up.

MR. ROMNEY: …. the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land…

You can refer to a Department of Energy report on fossil fuel production under federal leases on the US Energy Information Administration website. Load that up and look over Table 2.

You can examine the data in many different ways. The table breaks down data showing total crude oil and lease condensate production by Fiscal Year, broken into categories of offshore federal territory, onshore federal land, and Indian land, and fiscal year totals of those combined.

If you look at combined totals for all federal territories, you have, in millions of barrels per year, FY2010: 739M, FY2011: 646M. That’s a decrease in volume of about 12.6%. Not 14%. Somebody might say “that’s still a decrease”, and say this is evasive nitpicking.

Romney said “down 14 percent this year on federal land”. If you compare FY2010 and FY2011 for federal land (not offshore ocean territory), not counting Indian lands, it’s FY2010: 108M, FY2011: 112M. That’s about a 3.7% increase from 2010 to 2011.

If you include Indian territories in the “federal land” total, it’s FY2010: 121M, FY2011: 131M. That makes it about an 8.3% increase from FY2010 to FY2011.

Let that soak in a minute. Now, if we turn to comparing FY2010 to FY2011 just in the category of offshore federal territory, it goes from FY2010: 618M to FY2011: 514M. That’s about a 16.8% decrease in offshore territory output.

Does everybody remember the Deepwater Horizon disaster of Spring 2010 and the consequences?

Now, that’s just looking at a comparison of the last two full years. If you decide to compare FY2011 to FY2008, to make a comparison to things under the previous president, the totals of all categories of federal territory are FY2008: 575M, FY2011: 646M.

So, then, in those terms, you could say, honestly, based on the data, “under Obama, crude oil production in federal territory increased by 12.3%“. That is what the data says has actually happened from the time just before Obama arrived to the end of the last full year of record there, last year.


We still aren’t done with just this one item. For review again, from the quote from Romney:

MR. ROMNEY: … Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands and in federal waters….

You can take a look at historical data and track the number of drilling leases in effect in federal government territory over time, summed up year by year, and get a picture of variations and overall trends. Take a look. If you compare 2010 and 2011, that doesn’t look anything like “cut in half”.

You can go to the website of the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management and examine the subject of leases in federal territory in great detail.

The whole topic of activity in hydrocarbon ventures in federal territory is pretty complicated, but just to keep to one point for now, let’s just stick with examining the “cut in half” declaration from Romney.

You can go to the page I just linked and go to “Summary of Onshore Oil and Gas Statistics” and check things out, as a PDF file report or an Excel format spreadsheet, rather than me going through another batch of details as I did above. You can look at the numbers compared year by year during Obama’s term, you can compare to the Bush administration, you can examine a batch of different parameters; Total Number of Leases in Effect, Total Number of Acres Under Lease, Number of New Leases Issued, and so on.

To make a long story short, you find numbers that are a little lower looking at FY2011 compared to earlier years, but nothing even remotely close to being cut in half.

But in particular, if you look at the category “Number of New Leases Issued During the Fiscal Year”, you find 1,308 for FY2010 and then 2,188 issued in FY2011. Is that “cut in half“?

All this addresses one major and extremely serious point: welcome to the world of Mitt’s Mendacity. This is just one of the long parade of items of candidate Willard Mitt Romney lying his ass off with whatever he thinks will make him look better and the current president look bad in whatever the present circumstance happens to be.

But the problem is, look how much there is to go through to actually sort out the reality from some easy brief burst of bullshit from somebody pandering to the citizenry by just simply lying.

Go through the transcript and you can then follow along with the farce, as the president says (correctly) that what Romney said was untrue, Romney interrupts over a dozen times, including repeating “In the last four years, you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half” and then multiple repetitions, as Obama tried to straighten this out, and kept being interrupted, of “how much did you cut them by?“.

Romney just kept repeating the lie.

Recall my episode with comments saying that Obama was interrupting and being wrong, along with the bit about the same guy saying he was laughing his ass off, because, as he put it, Obama “doesn’t understand how the energy industry works”, which, I gathered, turned out to be about the whole drilling lease matter. The only problem in that debate exchange was that Obama was maybe not explaining fully some of what’s involved in a setting where everything is expected to be in neat little sound-bite nibbles, while an aggressive, obnoxious, pathological liar was continually interrupting him.

People can check around, easily, and find out more about this whole fairly complicated subject. A minute or two on the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management website can give you a sketch.

Part of what the president was having trouble getting through was that, for one thing, these lease agreements have conditions and timeframes, and expire depending on those factors.

An article from Forbes provides a little bit of a glimpse of what’s involved, including what kinds of contentious squabbling goes with it.

Policies concerning leases of government land include a kind of “use it or lose it” provision so that nobody can grab up rights to drilling in territories and just sit on them.

This isn’t a a situation where some party can just go and start punching holes in the ground and oil (or natural gas) comes out. This is where a whole world of ignorant nonsense comes into play, and gets more to the underlying facts of reality involved in this subject.

Everything revolves around the fundamental physical reality of what hydrocarbon deposits are or are not under the ground in a given territory. What is or is not known about this, and how much exploration and study already has or has not been done, comes into this.


All this is about just one portion of the “debate” event at hand, and you can see how quickly it turns into a bit of a chore to unravel bullshit from truth.

Turning away from the “energy issues” topic, among the endless series of raw lying or more subtle forms of deception and reality distortion, I noticed that Romney, again, repeated another lie that’s the same lie he’s been repeating, saying that Obama as president doubled the deficit. Wrong. He hasn’t. When Obama came into the office, he inherited the 2009 federal budget, complete with a deficit around 1.3 trillion dollars, from the last budget of President G.W. Bush set in 2008. The 2012 federal budget deficit is slightly under 1.1 trillion.

That’s way too huge, this is a big problem issue, but the point of basic fact of the matter is that compared to what he started with, overall the annual federal budget deficit has been reduced by somewhere around 200 billion dollars. This isn’t some goddamned “political propaganda, people can look at these things themselves, it’s not just public information, but it’s easily available public information.

But, then, it’s the same repeating problem; will people do a few minutes of homework, or just swallow some constantly repeating lie?


Back to “energy”. Inevitably, the topic of retail gasoline prices in the United States came up, and from my observations, it seems that for almost all of the American citizenry, that’s all people can see in this subject.

Everyone can go to the US Energy Information Administration site and get all kinds of data in a variety of reports, including retail gasoline price history. All the following is about retail price per gallon for unleaded regular grade gasoline.

In January 2009, the month Obama became president, the national monthly average price was $1.787, pretty much the bottom of a massive drop in prices after the economy crashed in the second half of 2008. (Obama pointed that fact out in the TV debate.)

In July 2008, the monthly national average price was $4.09, around the time that world crude petroleum prices went over $140 per barrel. Big financial trouble ensued, triggering a crash of assorted house of cards financial arrangements, and issue of this connection this still doesn’t quite seem to register in the national political consciousness. If it does, it just gets people chattering about this meaning we need more oil, and ignoring or being completely oblivious to the reality involved.

You can look at averages over a full year, and the national average price averaged over the full year of 2008 was $3.266; the year average for 2009, the first year of the Obama administration, was $2.35. So, then, do we say “see! Obama lowered gas prices!”?

All of these kinds of games would (and do) completely miss the larger point of the volatility of these prices, and this is not something that is going to be substantially changed by any president.

The whole episode about oil and gas drilling lease arrangments in federal government territory reflected what seems to be a normal failure to understand the situation in terms of the actual physical reality, and instead operate on squabbling notions that we can have all the hydrocarbon resources we want, and it’s just a matter of the right government policy, or business operations, or combination.

We get argument about who will fulfill public delusional wishful thinking about having unlimited hydrocarbon fuels, and perpetually cheap, with the current president playing that game, and a Republican party challenger pandering to people with gross nonsense, complete fiction and blatant lying.

Hubbert’s curve still applies, and nobody in the political realm is addressing that and the fact that US oil production, as I’ve pointed out in this space about a hundred times, reached its all time peak and turned into diminishing returns decline four decades ago.

So, what are we learning here? This debate was an exercise in reality evasion, so the American public learned nothing about the reality to deal with in “energy policy”. Overall, what we can learn from this scene is that fact, coupled with the even more disturbing problem, that evidently, a large portion of the American public has become so determined to evade reality that they are willing to support a candidate for president trying to take over the office by constant, ridiculously obvious, blatant lying.

What was missing was somebody addressing the biggest matter of “energy issues”; realizing the reality of the situation and getting the entire nation to understand that we must massively reduce our consumption of finite hydrocarbon resources.

When I sit to write something for this space, if I stop and sit to write something, about pretty much anything, I try to stop and reflect on a simple idea.

There are many things I do not know.

It’s a running basic principle theme of my life: there are many things I don’t know. So, then, sometimes, as things go on through the course of life and events, and circumstances and events arise, I should do my best to find out.

The world has enough people talking out their ass.


I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance. — Rubén Blades





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