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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "The Amazing Energy Race": Friedman's Gas Problem

Definition of RED HERRING

1 . . . .
2 [from the practice of drawing a red herring across a trail to confuse hunting dogs] : something that distracts attention from the real issue

- Merriam-Webster online dictionary (

A new JG Caesarea challenge round! Sorry, no chocolate bars this time to the winners. Last time after buying more than five pounds of chocolate at the supermarket, the prizes never went out in the mail, and my weight rose by more than five pounds almost overnight. On the same outing to the supermarket, I bought vodka and herring in sour cream sauce - not red herring - which also mysteriously disappeared from the freezer and refrigerator, respectively. Only the empty bottles and wrappers, randomly dispersed around my recliner, were to be found.

But back to business! Which three well-known Americans are currently in hiding?

Edward Snowden, who is still busy seeking asylum, is a no-brainer.

Immersed in multiple domestic scandals that refuse to go away, and floundering in a sea of overseas crises, President Barack Obama hightailed off to the wilds of Tanzania, but not before declaring war on . . . coal.

And then there is . . . a drum roll please . . . Thomas Friedman. You will recall how this would-be Middle East expert, together with Times columnists Roger Cohen and Nicholas Kristof, camped out in Tahrir Square in 2011 and sang paeans to the virtues of the "Arab Spring." Well, as all hell is currently breaking out in Egypt and demonstrators demand the departure of Obama's "Main Man," Mohamed Morsi, Friedman - as well as Cohen and Kristof - are keeping thousands of miles away from Cairo.

And then there was the recent rioting in Turkey, to which Friedman devoted a "postcard" (see: No mention by Friedman of Tuesday's anti-Semitic outburst by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay declaration that the "Jewish Diaspora" was behind the Gezi protests (see: But heck, some of the things that Friedman has said about Israel have also been anti-Semitic (see:

Guess what, Tom? It turns out that Israel is not the source of all tension in the Middle East. Not even remotely so.

But rather than examining the nature of the riots in Egypt, Friedman would turn our attention to natural gas, which both the US and Friedman have in abundance. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Amazing Energy Race" (, Friedman writes:

"'In reducing coal’s historic dominance, the president is formalizing a market trend that was already taking shape,' remarked Andy Karsner, who was an assistant secretary of energy in the last Bush administration. His bigger message, though, was 'no matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum, it’s useful for the nation to discuss, debate and consider a strategy for climate change. The consequences of inaction are potentially greater than all the other noise out there.'

Sadly, many Republican 'leaders' rejected Obama’s initiative, claiming it would cost jobs. Really? Marvin Odum, the president of the Shell Oil Company, told me in an interview that phasing out coal for cleaner natural gas — and shifting more transport, such as big trucks and ships, to natural gas instead of diesel — 'is a no-brainer, no-lose, net-win that you can’t fight with a straight face.'

But, remember, natural gas is a fine gift to our country if, and only if, we extract it in a way that does not leak methane into the atmosphere (methane being worse than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming) and if, and only if, we extract it in ways that don’t despoil land, air or water. The Environmental Defense Fund is working with big oil companies, like Shell, to ensure both."

Hmm, Shell Oil Company. Of course, they have no significant interest in gas . . . not. As reported by CNNMoney (

"Shell, for example, has purchased and developed tons of natural gas assets, even though the commodity sells for cheap in the current market. To get some insight into Big Oil's strategy for the future of energy, Fortune spoke with President of Shell Oil Company, Marvin Odum. Odum filled us in on the long-term natural gas outlook, drilling in the Gulf after BP muddied the industry's reputation and why Shell feels like oil sands are cleaner than you think.

Fortune: Energy as we know it is changing, how will Shell adapt?

Odum: One of the interesting things about our portfolio is that Shell, by 2012, will actually produce more gas than it does oil. And that's done with intent. We see increased demand for gas. Economies around the world are growing, and we see gas as being a big part of the solution with a lower environmental impact."

Yup, Shell just might be an interested party.

Friedman continues:

"Such a [national clean energy standard for electricity generation] would say to every utility: 'Your power plants can use any fuel and technology you want to generate electricity as long as the total amount of air pollutants and greenhouse gases they emit (in both fuel handling and its electricity conversion) meet steadily increasing standards for cleaner air and fewer greenhouse gases. If you want to meet that standard with natural gas, sequestered coal, biomass, hydro, solar, wind or nuclear, be our guest. Let the most cost-effective clean technology win.'"

I'm sorry, Tom, what's that you're saying about nuclear power? No danger there? Talk to the Japanese.

Coal? It still provides America with some 37% of its energy. Obama and Friedman want to go to war against coal at a time when America still suffers from massive unemployment and the onset of Obamacare threatens to dampen US economic prospects even further (see: Good luck.

Responding to General Douglas MacArthur's proposal to expand the Korean War into China, General Omar Bradley stated before Congress on May 15, 1951 that MacArthur's idea amounted to folly:

"Frankly, in the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this strategy would involve us in the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy."

A war on coal? This is also "the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy."

Unfortunately, Obama and his lackey, Friedman, are incapable of confronting the "right enemies,"  of which - as illustrated by Snowden's flight from justice - there are more than a few.

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