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Why Oil Is the Glue That Bonds Trump and Putin

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Oil has fueled a bully bromance between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Although this revolutionary union possesses a terrifying petro logic, it promises to be as volatile and tragic as any shotgun marriage. The relationship is, as Trump might well tweet, “unpresidented.”

How, after all, can a president-elect openly admire a foreign leader whose shadowy intelligence apparatus played a significant role in undermining the U.S. election by hacking into the files of the Democratic National Committee?

This dysfunctional story is about oil and carbon. The master resource and its climate destabilizing emissions have arranged the ballroom where Trump and Putin now waltz.

The only treason that matters to these oddly paired grandees is any attempt to stop or wind down the frenzied march of petroleum — an industrial composition now 170 years old.

The basic facts are self-evident: the world still runs on fossil fuels (86 per cent of our energy consumption) and Russia now tops the list of petroleum’s three main global players with production of 10 million barrels a day. Next comes Saudi Arabia, followed by the United States at nine million barrels — a short-term feat largely engineered by the brute force of hydraulic fracturing. (The U.S. still must import 52 per cent of what it consumes — largely from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.)

As a consequence, the energy intensity of American and Russian oil extraction help to explain why these two nations now account for more than one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The global energy industry contributes more than 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions keep growing because it takes more and more energy to extract expensive and low-grade products such as bitumen, shale oil and offshore Arctic oil. Energy, not capital, drives the global economy and that economy is now shrinking because shale oil, bitumen and Arctic oil provide lower returns, more volatility and more dangerous debt loads than conventional oil.

Their exploitation is not a solution, but a trap that will lead to the collapse of institutions — and societies — built on the assumption that cheap energy would last forever. Meanwhile the aging oil business leaks toxic carbons and liabilities as carelessly as North America’s 50-year-old pipelines. Researchers now calculate that approximately two-thirds (63 per cent) of the industrial carbon pollution poured into the atmosphere since 1854 can be directly traced to the carbon mined from the Earth by just 90 enterprises, including 83 producers of coal, oil and natural gas and seven cement makers. Incredibly, seven companies account for almost one-fifth of all industrial carbon spewed into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.

They include the U.S. corporate giant, ExxonMobil, and Russia’s mega-methane firm, Gazprom. Almost everyone, except for much of the media, acknowledges that Russia behaves like a classic petro state. Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, once described the Russian Federation as “an oil and gas company masquerading as a country.” Putin’s government, for example, gets half its revenue from oil and gas sales to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Oil accounts for almost 60 per cent of Russia’s exports and a third of its capital investments.

The global 2014 oil price crash severely undermined the country’s economy and lowered living standards for ordinary Russians. As a consequence Putin’s oil locomotive is now stagnating and needs foreign investment and higher oil prices. Unlike most Canadian politicians, Putin has studied the politics of oil. He can even talk about theDutch disease and other resource curses.

As a young intelligence officer he watched a global oil price collapse in the early 1990s unhinge the Soviet Union and does not want to see that experience repeated. Beginning more than a decade ago, Putin removed the country’s most powerful oligarchs from Russia’s oil and gas companies and nationalized the industry to consolidate his power. He then let in a few western players such as ExxonMobil to help revitalize Russia’s oil patch. As oil prices rose between 2000 and 2014 Putin used the flow of petro rubles to restore some dignity to the federation in an effort to make Russia great again. When oil prices languished at $25 a barrel in 2000, Putin remained a friend of the U.S. But as soon as oil prices escalated in 2007, Putin began to rattle sabres and take aim at the Ukraine. When oil prices hit historic highs in 2014, Putin rejected any form of co-operation with the United States.

Now that they have nosedived, and Russian hackers have successfully intervened in the U.S. election to help Trump, Putin says he’s ready for peace and love — and a waltz with his U.S. admirer. In the Washington Post, Russia observer Maria Snegovaya explained the Jekyll and Hyde petro dynamics lucidly: “High oil revenues lower leaders’ domestic political accountability and responsibility for policy decisions while increasing risks of international adventurism.” The U.S., of course, is the world’s original petro state.

Although oil doesn’t dominate the economy the same way it does in Russia, its revenues have contaminated the country’s politics. ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest corporations, funded climate change-denying lawmakers and lobbyists for decades and remains one of the largest donors to the Republican Party.

Blue states tend to consume energy and vote Democrat, while red states extract oil or gas. Most supported Trump. In recent years two right-wing U.S. oligarchs, the Koch brothers, have changed America’s political landscape. Using billions made by processing Canada’s cheap raw bitumen into value-added fuels at their refineries, the Koch brothers conducted a concerted campaign to undermine U.S. democracy by weaponizing philanthropy. In the process they disguised corporate self-interest as a populist revolt against government political elites. As documented by Jane Mayer in her excellent book Dark Money, the Koch brothers used charities and think tanks to champion unfettered oil production, mock climate change and sow doubt about the role of government. All echoed their libertarian grievances against the state.

Years of Koch propaganda convinced Americans having trouble buying a meal, let alone securing a reliable job, that action on climate change would take away their freedom and more importantly, their guns. Ultimately what Mayer calls the “single most effective special interest group in the country” helped elect the demagogue Donald Trump by promoting a climate of fear, hate, doubt and distrust. Elite billionaires preyed on the weak to elect another elite billionaire.

Trump has now assembled a well-heeled cabinet that will likely fulfill the Koch brothers’ political wish list: halt action on climate change, permit uranium mining, deregulate mountaintop removal for coal mining and gut environmental regulations. In an effort to make America great again, Trump promises to wipe out climate change action and allow drilling and fracking everywhere in attempt to make the U.S. “energy independent.” Trump has assembled a cabinet that serves oil and its powerful masters first and foremost. Many come from oil exporting states such as Oklahoma and Texas. Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, a Republican Oklahoma attorney general, flatly denies climate change and even let oil company lawyers draft letters that Pruitt then signed and sent to federal regulators. Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil and fervent pusher of hydraulic fracturing, has been nominated for secretary of state. Rick Perry, the former governor of oil-soaked Texas, is Trump’s pick to head the energy department. Perry is another climate change denier. “

The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense,” he has said. So petroleum now has a Darth Vader voice in Washington as ruthless and powerful as Putin’s in the Kremlin. Although Trump and Putin come from dissimilar backgrounds, the world’s oil czars share a number of traits that makes them ideal dancing partners. Both men, for example, prefer “managed democracies” where a supreme leader permits citizens to play the role of eternal apprentices. (Fading empires are like trapped animals: they select the most bully-minded leaders to restore what cannot be restored.)

As expert communicators both men appreciate the power of political lies and show no reluctance to employ them. They dislike an accountable media and prefer to speak through their own state or social media channels. Neither oligarch likes Muslims. Putin conducted a scorched earth campaign against Muslims in Chechnya and Trump proposed barring Muslims from the U.S. during his campaign. (It is no accident Muslims or “radical Islam” just happen to occupy a region that is the world’s number one source of conventional oil.) Not surprisingly, both leaders have the backing of Christian extremists and right-wing nationalists.

U.S. white supremacists have even identified Putin as “leader of the free world.” Many U.S. religious conservatives openly admire Putin because his government champions “traditional values” and “Christian civilization” while attacking gays. Last but not least, both men nurse a calculated disdain for the evidence on climate change. Putin once quipped that climate change wasn’t a bad thing because in a warming world Russians would just spend less on fur coats and grow more grain.

Although Putin has recently paid lip service to the significance of climate change, the Russian government, as a whole, has expressed little concern about fossil-fuel induced weather chaos. The prominent Russian ecologist Alexey Yablokov attributes the indifference to petroleum’s unholy grip on the national pysche:

“That’s our ideology, that’s why we only think about drilling for more and more oil and selling it to the West. Who’s thinking about ecology? Who cares that 10 per cent of oil will spill or leak out while being transported to the West? No one does…. That’s not important, what’s important is getting the money, building a new house and buying new cars.”

Both Trump and Putin, in short, derive their political power from a resource whose future depends on denying climate change and ignoring the environmental costs of extracting ever more risky and energy intensive reserves. ExxonMobil, the world’s eighth largest company based on revenue, has a limited future without access to Arctic oil, just as the Russian state has a limited future without higher prices for its hydrocarbons.

And herein lies the core of their authoritarian attraction. Both men know that responsible action on climate change to limit global temperature increases to a still punishing two degrees means that $2 trillion worth of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground. Most of those extreme fuels consist of higher cost U.S. shale oil, Canadian oilsands, Russian conventional oil and Arctic reserves. They know that groups such as the independent financial think tank Carbon Tracker have said the onus to cut production will fall heaviest on nations producing the ugliest and costliest hydrocarbons.

And any move to keep these resources in the ground would spell the end of ExxonMobil, Russian energy giant Gazprom, the Koch brothers and Putin himself. It could also bring down many of the world’s financial institutions that have unwisely let the oil and gas sector accrue historic debt loads to exploit uneconomic resources. Alex Steffen, a U.S. futurist and sustainability expert, has set out the steps the petroleum industry and its allies would have to take to preserve the status quo

. “You’d dispute climate science, making scientists’ predictions seem less certain in the public mind, and work to gut the capacity of scientists to continue their work,” he writes. “You’d attack global climate agreements…. You’d attack low-carbon competitors politically.”

“You would ally with extremists and other sources of anti-democratic power, in order to be able to fight democratic efforts to cut emissions,” he adds. Michael Mann, the Pennsylvania State University geoscience professor who famously illustrated the threat of climate change with a hockey-stick graph showing warming temperatures, confessed to Jane Mayer in Dark Money that climate change scientists completely underestimated the power of Big Oil. Environmentalists, politicians and the media did the same.

They thought evidence and reason would rule the day, but that’s not how wealthy czars or bloody cartels behave. Power is not something they surrender like some piece of cake. “What we didn’t take into account was the ferociousness of the moneyed interests and the politicians doing their bidding,” admitted Mann.

“We are talking about a direct challenge to the most powerful industry that has ever existed on the face of the earth. There’s no depth to which they’re unwilling to sink to challenge anything threatening their interests.” Years ago the great U.S. political scientist Terry Lynn Karl warned that the rise of petro states had global implications. Petroleum busts and booms created pipelines for poverty, inequality and political crises, she wrote, and these crises “subsequently produce new oil shocks that may have profound and unforeseen consequences… because they reverberate powerfully through world markets and even threaten global peace.”

And that is the waltz Trump and Putin now dance.


36 Comments on "Why Oil Is the Glue That Bonds Trump and Putin"

  1. Davy on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 7:48 am 

    A liberal extremist rant that is the whining of a loser both personally and for his failed movement. These folks call Trump followers deplorables but they should look in the mirror because I see grotesque. Who is left to chart a reasonable direction in a dangerous time? It is clear it will not be from the traditional North America political movements of liberals and conservatives. Both sides are the same failure and the jury is out on who will be the uglier.

  2. joe on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 7:54 am 

    Yeah, agreed. After it drank the kool-aid of ‘russia did it’, without offering actual proof . Besides if the left doesnt come out and admit that Superpacing Killary over Sanders caused the people to distrust the Dems then they are never going to win another election. Sanders would have mopped the floor with anyone, yet the DNC wanted the Saudis money. So instead the DNC will get its shills to blame Russia. Its sad because the US left is now as brainwashed as the right was in the pre-Iraq War months.

  3. Cloggie on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 8:46 am 

    Complete BS article.

    The “Bromance” is about an US-Russian alliance against NWO/globalism.
    It is about Russian, American (and soon European) identity.
    It is the common battle against the [cough] “oligarchs” (hi George!)
    It is the fight for a world WITH borders, not without.

    Has absolutely nothing to do with oil.
    AlterNet is a progressive activist news servic

    No surprises, next.

  4. onlooker on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 8:50 am 

    Yes, the left and right are mirrors of the same dysfunctional and totally corrupt political system. We all waste time and effort even musing about all this. Better to think of the dynamics of ant colonies or something that this irrelevant political theater.

  5. eugene on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 9:04 am 

    The comments are as interesting as the article. Far right rants ranting about liberal rants. Couple of children in the school yard.

  6. Cloggie on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 9:26 am 

    The comments are as interesting as the article. Far right rants ranting about liberal rants. Couple of children in the school yard.

    And with you in the role of the head-master, right?

    Interesting detail: the “far right” is in charge in Russia and US.

    And have look at Merkel, yesterday, frozen despair:

    Mwoahahaha, what are you going to do about it?

  7. Sissyfuss on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 9:48 am 

    Cloggard, it has nothing to do with oil? Oh that’s right. We’ll provide for the ten billion with underwater coal. HOPIUM!!!
    You always conceptualize that it is mans’ actions that precede his evolution and disconnect the natural world’s bounty from his ascent. Without the massive harvest of resources civilization will revert to its’ petty tribalism and prejudices. Trump is an act of desperation and nothing more. And his policies will accelerate the effects of climate change and resource depletion. Humanity needs a change of direction that is promulgated by wisdom and not chaos.

  8. onlooker on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 10:03 am 

    Unfortunately, Sissy our capacity for wisdom seems to be be constantly overridden by our capacity for ignorance and emotional urges and reactions

  9. Cloggie on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 10:07 am 

    Cloggard, it has nothing to do with oil? Oh that’s right. We’ll provide for the ten billion with underwater coal. HOPIUM!!!

    What has this to do with the bromance?

    Trump is an act of desperation and nothing more.

    Yep, it is an act of desperation alright, from the side of the European-Americans, who on second thoughts, don’t fancy too much to demographically drown in the third world.

    And his policies will accelerate the effects of climate change and resource depletion.

    Yeah, yeah. Be a man and admit that five years ago you were “into Heinberg”, just like me. Spare me this depletion-will-hit-us during Trump-1/2 drivel.

    Humanity needs a change of direction that is promulgated by wisdom and not chaos.

    Touche! Sissyfuss is preparing himself for some solid European

    In January 2014, the EU agreed to a 40% emissions reduction by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and a 27% renewable energy target. The target is the most ambitious of any region in the world, and is expected to provide 70,000 full-time jobs and cut €33bn in fossil fuel imports

  10. Dastardly on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 10:13 am 

    Sure, man has dominion over the earth per the magic book. Man also has dominion over whether he jumps off a cliff. Climate change is that cliff, and the DOD said that under Bush2. Trump and the Koch’s will be positioned to move all those businesses away from the U.S. coastline that will be underwater from sea level rise. DOD says that sea level rise alone will easily cause numerous wars. Solar is now cheaper than nuclear power. Wind is now cheaper than any other power generation that can be built. Efficiency is cheaper than anything, and deprives us of nothing, it even saves us a ton of money. All 17 U.S. intelligence agencies say Putin and Comey the traitor won the election for the traior trump. NSA sees everything and knows where it comes from. Hi Guys! Why didn’t you come forward.
    A sociopath should’nt have the football.

  11. rockman on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 10:27 am 

    Davy – And let’s acknowledge the revisionistic effort to imply a different history of US oil production: “…followed by the United States at nine million barrels — a short-term feat largely engineered by the brute force of hydraulic fracturing.”

    Short term??? The US has been the #2 or #3 global oil producer (#2 from 1982-1990 and 1992-1999) since 1972 before which it was the #1 oil producing country since the beginning of the petroleum age. Add that to implying that the 10+ year technology was responsible for the increase in US production and not the true cause: the $100+ price per bbl of oil.

    I wonder how many here are surprised (thanks to the propagandic bullshit put out) to learn that the US was the #2 oil producing country as recently as the late 90’s? Long before the first horizontal well was frac’d in the Bakken or Eagle Ford. Of course, a fair bit of the oil produced in that period came from the horizontal wells drilled in the Austin Chalk fractured carbonate shale formation in Texas.

    The US was the #3 global oil producer before the recent shale boom and still is after the bust. In the next 5+ years? Time will tell.

  12. Cloud9 on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 11:01 am 

    I find it amusing that the Macro state is pissed about the truth being exposed. If you watched this charade from a distance you might have noticed that the Bushs and the Clintons were on the same page on this issue and both were diametrically opposed to the election of Trump. While it is entirely possible that the Russians gained access to Hillary’s illegal activities, it is just as plausible that some Bernie Sanders people were so pissed off over the raw deal they were handed by their own party leaders that they decided to release Hillary’s emails to the press. It would not be the first time an idealist decided to burn down the house once he saw his dreams shattered. Included in this mess is the very obvious open revolt taking place within the FBI and that revolt is now exposing an ongoing conflict between the FBI and the CIA. The deep state is at war with itself.

    Harmony is a background noise. Chaos is the natural order of the universe. The push for Hillary was the push for continuing the status quo. The status quo picked a poor candidate and they lost what should have been a sure bet. Now a different faction has gained the helm of state. I do not see Trump as an agent of stabilization. In fact, I suspect his arrival on the scene will accelerate our devolution.

    While population trends are headed in one direction and resource depletion is headed in another direction it is inevitable that at some point, these diverging trends will converge. We will devolve into lower levels of complexity. That process has revealed itself in every civilization that has ever developed. To assume that the American Empire is immune to this process is hubris.

    For most of us reading this, the lights are still on. Enjoy your family. I personally thank God for one more day. Enjoy the day.

  13. rockman on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 12:05 pm 

    “And his (President-elect Trump) policies will accelerate the effects of climate change and resource depletion.” I doubt his policies will match the increase in global GHG production that occured during President Obama’s time in office: when the US produced and burned more coal then ever before in history; when the US exported more coal then ever in history; when US coal exports to China, the largest GHG producer in the world, increased 500% during President Obama’s time in office; when President Obama expedited approval of permits to expand Texas coal export terminals allowing last month for the first time in history the export of coal from western govt lands to be exported from the state; when oil prodution from onshore federal lands increased 15% during President Obama’s time in office with 40% coming from “Indian lands” according to the federal govt; when the US produced and burned more NG then ever before in history; when the US imported more oil sands production of the “dirtiest oil on the planet” then ever before in history…a volume the EIA predicts will increasingly decline after the president-elect takes office; when President Obama offered more offshore acreage for lease then any other POTUS in history; when we witnessed the greatest increase in pipeline capacity in history to deliver Canadian oil sands production to Texas refineries…projects President Obama publicly supported and ordered his departments to do everything possible to expedite; when President Obama approved permits for more LNG terminals in history to expand the export US NG to other countries; when President Obama approved the largest expansion of NG export pipelines in history; when US NG exports increased 70% during President Obama’s terms to the highest level in history; when more oil was exported during President Obama’s term then during any other POTUS; when the export of US refinery exports increased 300% during President Obama’s terms to a highest level in history.

    There are a number of other positive events that happened for the fossil fuel industry during President Obama’s times in office but that long list is sufficient to prove the point. All those positives for the industry were a combination of President Obama’s policies and serendipitous timing. In either case I am certain that the president-elect WILL NOT see such possitive results during his first term. And if he gets a second term? Probably not then either IMHO.

    I wonder what the liberals will say after 4 years of a President Trump’s term if the gains by the fossil fuel industry DON’T add up to what was seen during President Obama’s time in office? LOL.

  14. GregT on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 4:11 pm 

    Excellent post above by Cloud9!

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  16. makati1 on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 5:01 pm 

    Cloud9, Well done. “Chaos is the natural order of the universe.” Well, not quite. In the human universe, it is the natural order. In the real universe, most things run by ‘natural’ laws. That is why Mother Nature will win the war we started with her ecosystem. The planet will continue to rotate. The sun will continue to shine. And the universe will go on as usual. Only humans will be gone from the stage.

    “I do not see Trump as an agent of stabilization. In fact, I suspect his arrival on the scene will accelerate our devolution.” BINGO!

    I recently read an article where they claimed that Trump was supposed to win for that very reason. Chaos. A One World Government cannot happen as long as there is one dominant country that can resist it. Currently, that is the still strong U$. Russia is also against a O.W.G. and is currently under open attack by TPTB in every way but nuclear. China is trying but is still mostly 3rd world, just what TPTB require. I see the “Great Leveling” picking up speed these next 4-8 years and maybe becoming an accomplished fact. If you read the news, the U$ is devolving into chaos faster and faster. We shall see how soon it will happen.

  17. rockman on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 5:07 pm 

    video – Welcome and Happy 2017! And now the Rockman can dispense with the niceties and warn you that if you don’t occasionally post your thoughts we’ll hunt you down. LOL.

    With that in mind how do you feel about my thought that President-elect Trump has a major challenge to develop a stronger bond with Putin then the bond President Obama forged with President Rouhani of Iran (the acknowledge biggest state financier of global terrorism) when he wired him that $100 BILLION.

    Or the widely heralded recent bond President Obama established with Cuba. Cuba which is under scrutiny by human rights organizations, who accuse the Cuban government of systematic human rights abuses, including arbitrary imprisonment and unfair trials. International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have drawn attention to the actions of the human rights movement.

    But what the heck: pledging to destroy our ally Israel or locking up thousands of political prisoners without trial is a lot easier to ignore then the possibility of some hacker in Russia tapping into someone’s laptop and exposing some nasty comments of one D about another D.

    So let us know your thoughts so we know how to pigeon hole you. Thanks in advance.

    Oh, BTW, we have software that allows us to hack into your camera. So go put some damn cloths on!

  18. makati1 on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 5:33 pm 

    “When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion — when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing — when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors — when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you — when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice — you may know that your society is doomed.” – Ayn Rand, writing in Atlas Shrugged,

  19. onlooker on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 5:59 pm 

    Mak, describes precisely the state of our ruling institutions and those who preside over them

  20. Sissyfuss on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 8:35 pm 

    Rock, you seem to be saying that extraction levels and drill rig numbers will fall under Trump. So when did you begin agreeing with Shortonoil?

  21. Boat on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 10:22 pm 

    Fuss must,

    Your not aware of the almost 5 Mbpd that happened during Obamas watch that will be impossible for Trump to duplicate Eh? Short is an idiot with false inputs. Of course someone like yourself would buy into that doomer conspiracy.

  22. Sissyfuss on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 10:53 pm 

    Clam it, Turdbit. How many times do you need to be told. It’s you’re, short for you are. As in you’re a cornuprickian. And it’s not conspiracy, it’s science. Go finish 8th grade.

  23. Sissyfuss on Sun, 1st Jan 2017 11:00 pm 

    Clogtarian, the bromance is swimming in oil. Vlad the Inhaler derives most of his personal billions from hydrocarbons and all you have to do is peruse T-rumps’ cabinet to see where his true love lies. Go back to your esoteric ramblings of euro history and wet dreams about Adolph the misunderstood.

  24. rockman on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 12:04 am 

    Sissy – “So when did you begin agreeing with Shortonoil?”. You mean when did shorty et al began agreeing with the Rockman. LOL.

    The Rockman predicted the decline in production and rig count long ago. Dig into the archives: many moons ago the Rockman predicted we wouldn’t see proof of the US oil production decline until late 2016/early 2017. Seems like we’re right on schedule. All you have to do is live thru a few boom/bust cycles to recognize the inevitable. It’s all about lag times.

    None of which had anything to do with Shorty’s model.

  25. rockman on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 12:22 am 

    Sissy – Putin’s Achilles Heel certain is oil/NG production and exports. And who would understand the intricate details of that vulnerability then good ole Rex?

    Consider how ineffective all the US sanctions against Russia under President Obama have been. Syria is an even worse nightmare including Russian bombing of humanitarian relief convoys, Russia still controls Crimea and is as big a threat to EU energy security as ever, Russian energy shift towards China is still progressing, Russia still developing/producing Arctic oil, Russia still mines the net for US classified data, closer Russian ties with Turkey, etc, etc.

    Other then making travel arrangements difficult for some Russians exactly what have US policies done to alter Putin’s behavior?

  26. Davy on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 6:40 am 

    The human nature of our winner/loser mentality is rife in the status quo. Equations and models must be successes or they are failures. The math must compute out or it is wrong. Me, I am a generalist. I am looking for direction. I am looking for basis. I am not looking for the perfect solution. I am looking for valuable solutions. I am looking for nuggets among the overburden of noise. The truth can never be known and the closer we get to it the farther from it we are. Why is this? The closer one gets to the truth the less we know. What is known more is what is not known or is deceptively false? Going further we see agendas and emotions melt into irrelevance as the humility of all human knowledge dissolves into irrelevance in the face of the limits to man’s knowledge.

    The ETP model is valid in the respect it models depletion. It models depletion with a price. Using price makes the model unstable but still useful. Price involves economy and the economy involves human nature. Human nature cannot be modeled because of significant randomness. Confidence is liquidity so liquidity cannot be modeled fully to make price accurate for any model. Price is useful if you don’t claim high levels of accuracy. Economics with their demand curves and equilibrium theories are losing their effectiveness because we are in a paradigm shift of growth to decline. We are nearing an inflection point and it is the approach and being in the vicinity of this shift where turbulence is manifested. As this happens turbulence enters the theories and equations and makes them unstable. Confusion enters the conversation with lack of controls. Our control mechanisms are only so effective in this zone of change.

    The ETP model is another peak oil dynamics describing depletion and decline. It is not the only one and the only answer. That is my opinion as a wisdom secularist. I say secularist because technology and science is a religion today reflecting society’s manifest destiny of increasing technological progress. As a secularist I am suspect of science and knowledge. I don’t deny it nor reject it just suspect it. We are lost and getting more lost because of this blind drive for technological progress. This is not because we have too much knowledge necessarily. What is lacking is the wisdom to understand it and use it properly. A higher form of wisdom is the ability to say no. Humans can’t say no nor hear no and that is our fatal flaw.

  27. Revi on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 8:25 am 

    “Fading empires are like trapped animals: they select the most bully-minded leaders to restore what cannot be restored.”

    It’s interesting how almost all empires go down the same pathway.

    We and the Russians share a similar trajectory. I think we might be a little behind them, but we’re headed to the same place.

  28. Davy on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 8:34 am 


    “The idea that the future is unpredictable is undermined every day by the ease with which the past is explained.” – Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow”

    “In psychology, heuristics are simple, efficient rules which people often use to form judgments and make decisions. They are mental shortcuts that usually involve focusing on one aspect of a complex problem and ignoring others. These rules work well under most circumstances, but they can lead to systematic deviations from logic, probability or rational choice theory. The resulting errors are called “cognitive biases” and many different types have been documented.”

    “Heuristics usually govern automatic, intuitive judgments but can also be used as deliberate mental strategies when working from limited information. Kahneman and Tversky created the heuristics and biases research program, which studies how people make real-world judgments and the conditions under which those judgments are unreliable. Their research challenged the idea that human beings are rational actors, but provided a theory of information processing to explain how people make estimates or choices.”

    “To put their research into terms the common person can understand, human decision making is extremely flawed due to our biases, feelings, irrational thought processes and beliefs in falsehoods. It’s over-confidence in our decision making ability that causes us the most problems.”

  29. Turning_Point on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 11:18 am 

    “When oil prices languished at $25 a barrel in 2000, Putin remained a friend of the U.S. But as soon as oil prices escalated in 2007, Putin began to rattle sabres and take aim at the Ukraine. When oil prices hit historic highs in 2014, Putin rejected any form of co-operation with the United States.”
    NATO has been marching east toward Russia’s border. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are now part of NATO and some would like to add Georgia and Ukraine. Russia will never allow this. Very few Russian leaders would volunteer to be placed in check by a hostile military alliance. Russia lost 1.7 million people in WWI, about 2-3 million from the French invasion (Napoleon), and about 24 million in WWII. By contrast, we lost about 600,000 in the civil war, and less in WWI and WWII. We have the Monroe Doctrine Obama claims is no longer in effect, maybe some foreign power should test that theory, two major oceans and two friendly neighbors. We have strategic depth. I believe Russia will stop at nothing to defend their strategic depth. We don’t need idealistic leadership, we need pragmatic leadersihip.
    “Now that they have nosedived, and Russian hackers have successfully intervened in the U.S. election to help Trump, Putin says he’s ready for peace and love — and a waltz with his U.S. admirer. In the Washington Post, Russia observer Maria Snegovaya explained the Jekyll and Hyde petro dynamics lucidly: “High oil revenues lower leaders’ domestic political accountability and responsibility for policy decisions while increasing risks of international adventurism.” The U.S., of course, is the world’s original petro state.”
    World oil prices are on the way up. It’s over $50.00 per barrel. This was predicted since fracking requires a high oil price and world oil prices were too low for several years. Russia thrives under high oil prices so they should be happy in the coming years. Sanctions from us have little effect since we do not do much business with Russia to begin with what hurts them are sanctions from Europe but that also hurts Europe too so I’d assume, they will soon get increasingly tired of trying to punish Russia for a normal reaction to a Western provocation.
    Every single in incident has occurred near a Russian naval base, the one in Crimea, Tartus Syria, and we even had a fighter jet buzzed near their naval base off the coast of Kaliningrad.
    Plus, we probably were responsible for the coup in Ukraine. We can pretend Russia is the sole aggressor all we want, most of the world probably knows better. We’re currently a super power gone rogue.

  30. Boat on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 11:44 am 


    So if your an ex-Soviet country you get only Russian choices? If they want to trade with the EU and the world and for that matter join NATO that should be their decision.

  31. GregT on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 12:21 pm 

    “If they want to trade with the EU and the world and for that matter join NATO that should be their decision.”

    The EU is imploding Boat, and NATO is a US satrap that is rapidly losing international support. The best thing that could happen geopolitically in the world today, would be cooperation between Russia and the US. Something that Trump will hopefully follow through on. And Boat, the people of Crimea, and the Donbas region of Ukraine voted almost unanimously to join there Russian Federation. Of course this has been ignored by the US deep state, and it’s controlled media. Who cares about the democratic process anyways? Support it, or lose it.

  32. Boat on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 12:46 pm 

    Holy cow, imploding? Don’t be so melodramatic. They spend to much on scocial programs. Like the US. Greece and others will just have to pay their way like the US and the rest of the world will eventually. Roosevelt taxed the rich like 93 percent in a much similar period to Greece. Will old people die a little quicker? Yep. Will militaries have to shrink? Yep Don’t worry, in the oncoming climate years death will become more normal at earily ages. Fewer hip replacements, fewer organ transplants, more underground housing on hills etc. Surviving humans will adapt as we go.

  33. GregT on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 12:52 pm 

    “Surviving humans will adapt as we go.”

    There will be no human adaptation to a planet with runaway global warming. One more thing that you choose to be ignorant of Kevin. Ocean acidification alone, will ensure that there will be no survivors.

  34. GregT on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 3:17 pm 

    Boat says: “Holy cow, imploding? Don’t be so melodramatic.”

    “The most likely and potentially most dire event which could affect the world in 2017 is the disintegration of the EU. Greece is still a basket case. Italy is on the brink. The EU area economy barely registers positive after years of negative interest rates and debt issuance. Unemployment rates, excluding Germany, range between 10% and 25%. Brexit and Trump’s victory portend a further shift to the right in the EU. The right wing party will win the French presidency. Merkel will be defeated in the upcoming elections. France and Italy are likely to have a referendum on leaving the EU. The departure of either will end the failed experiment. The insolvent Italian, French and German banks, specifically Deutsche Bank, will collapse in an EU disintegration scenario.”

    “The influx of Muslims into Europe is destroying their culture and leading to violence, terrorism, bloodshed, and now retribution. The left wingers have made a dreadful mistake in allowing hordes of Muslims to invade their countries. Their already fraying social welfare states are now completely bankrupt and citizens are afraid to go into the streets for fear of being attacked by members of the religion of peace. With the right gaining power in France, Germany and Italy, the blowback against Muslims will be violent and bloody. European cities will be rocked with violence throughout 2017.”

    “The Deep State propaganda machine has convinced the masses we are living in normal times, despite the fact the Fed printed $3.5 trillion out of thin air and handed it to the criminal Wall Street banks, interest rates have been kept at or near zero for eight years, revelations from Snowden that we truly live in a surveillance state far exceeding Orwell’s dystopian vision, the national debt doubling to $20 trillion, proof that all financial markets are rigged, undeclared wars being waged across the globe, and a reality TV star defeating a criminal to be president of the United States. Sounds pretty normal to me.”

    “My confidence level in my predictions is quite low. But, if one or two of the low probability events comes to fruition, the financial and/or human devastation will make 2008 look like a walk in the park. I don’t have an agenda in putting forth these predictions. I’m not selling anything or hawking stocks, bonds, or gold. I don’t tout myself as an expert like the over-confident, arrogant pricks on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, or FOX. I’m just trying to understand what is happening in this crazy universe. We live in an uncertain world. I believe an unbiased appreciation of uncertainty is the cornerstone of rationality and reason. Not acknowledging the role of luck or chance in the course of human events is setting you up for a fall.”

  35. farstraight on Mon, 2nd Jan 2017 7:49 pm 

    so if Trump is “far right” then Hillary is right. You retards don’t know what far right is. ISIS is far right.

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