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January 30, 2008

My man Rudy bows out... I am undecided

Rudy's dice roll in Florida backfired. Bummer. Well that was $2,300 gamble that didn't pay off. I believe Rudy would have been a great president. I am now undecided between McCain and Romney. Finn thinks I should go for Romney because he is younger.

Here is Rudy's thank you note to supporters:

Over the past year, as I traveled around the country, people from all walks of life welcomed me into their homes and communities with open arms. From house parties to parades to town halls and rallies, I have shared in some wonderful moments with you all and for that I am eternally grateful.
Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. Thank you for working with me to provide our children with a brighter and more prosperous future. Thank you for your support and trust and faith. And thank you for being a part of this wonderful journey.
A New York Republican named Teddy Roosevelt once said “aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords.” Like most Americans, I love competition. I don't back down from a principled fight.
But there must always be a larger purpose.
Elections are about more than just a candidate. Elections are about fighting for a cause larger than ourselves. They are about identifying the great challenges of our time and proposing new solutions. Most of all, they are about handing our nation to the next generation better than it was handed to us.
Although we were unsuccessful in our endeavor, the fight to strengthen America goes on. Our nation's next President must understand and make a commitment to keep us on offense in the Terrorists' War on Us. He must understand that stimulating our economy requires cutting taxes, because you make better decisions with your money than Washington bureaucrats. He must be committed to ending illegal immigration and securing our borders. And he must use free-market principles to make health care more affordable for all Americans.
I believe John McCain is that man. He is the right leader to move us forward, unite our party and transform Washington. I hope that you will join me in supporting him to be the next President of the United States.
As I look forward to the road ahead, I am optimistic because I believe America's best days are still to come. Our country has a bright future, but we must work together to ensure that our shared prosperity creates new and better opportunities for us all.
Best Wishes,


Rudy Giuliani

Posted by Martin at 9:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 29, 2008

just bought two new DVDs

from Escapefromsuburbia. Escape from Suburbia and the End of Suburbia. I already own End. A peak oil expose. I am going to have a salon at my house in a couple weeks to show them both and talk about them after. Drinking Ethanol. The only way to go. Oh, and the 58.50 Canadian I spent was translated into 60.71 US by Paypal. Ouch, Canadian worth more than US dollar now. Ouch.

Posted by Martin at 8:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 28, 2008

Love the surf novel genre combined with detective

by Jeff Shelby

There is a small book stand by gate 21 in honolulu that sells used and second run books, cd’s and hawaii trinkets. They don’t just have the best sellers, they have what the proprietor likes. Last time I picked up a Walter Mosley novel. Given that the Alaska flight leaves from gate 21 and is a 5 1/2 hour flight, it is the perfect length for about a 300 page novel. Killer Swell is 240 pages. I started as we taxied out and finished the last page just as the wheels touched down.

Noah Braddock is a slacker surfer detective guy with a deep tie to San Diego county. His best friends are all from highschool. The plot is pretty standard stuff, and the surf part is used only as an interlude, but overall entertaining. The perfect read for a flight to or from hawaii. The twist in the end is good, but not unexpected. If you have a surf literature collection like I do, add this one.

i rate 3 of 5 stars

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IPO market worst in 10 years

I learned something new today. Imperium Renewables pulled IPO is the largest pulled in the US so far this year according to Bloomberg. It is unfortunate that the capital markets are going badly for new issues just when the money is needed for investment to stave of off recession. That is how these things feed on themselves. Fear breeds more fear. Unfortunately this plays right into the hands of big oil and all the people who already control the economy and our gas tanks. Stupid.

Posted by Martin at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2008

coulter on McCain

Ok, she doesn't like him because he is not conservative enough. Sort of the same reason I am not today supporting him. McCain does have many liberal ideas and panders to the left when he can. The immigration bill was a mess that I cannot forgive. Ann has a column on her website today that is a good read. Some snippets.

John McCain is Bob Dole minus the charm, conservatism and youth. Like McCain, pollsters assured us that Dole was the most "electable" Republican. Unlike McCain, Dole didn't lie all the time while claiming to engage in Straight Talk.

Of course, I might lie constantly too, if I were seeking the Republican presidential nomination after enthusiastically promoting amnesty for illegal aliens, Social Security credit for illegal aliens, criminal trials for terrorists, stem-cell research on human embryos, crackpot global warming legislation and free speech-crushing campaign-finance laws.

I might lie too, if I had opposed the Bush tax cuts, a marriage amendment to the Constitution, waterboarding terrorists and drilling in Alaska.

And I might lie if I had called the ads of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth "dishonest and dishonorable."

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January 26, 2008

A story about "The Kingdom"


Again, history of oil and the politics around it drove me to pick this up at blockbuster the other day. I wanted to see it in the theaters but missed it. This is Hollywood trying to tackle the serious political issue of our times, radical islamic fundamentalism and it’s interaction with our oil addiction and our friend/enemy Saudi Arabia. I was prepared for a white washing due to the big name stars (Jennifer Garner, Will Smith) and their previous focus on action over content. Was pleasantly surprised though. While not a philosophical tome, the balance between actual dramatic hard events and action came down in favor of the actual content. There is really only one action scene near the end and it is totally in context, not gratuitous.

Not as heavy and well acted as Syriana, a stand up job for a bunch of Hollywood hacks. Worth seeing. I rate 3 of 5 stars.

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A story about "Atonement"


I will see any movie with Keira Knightley. She is amazing in this one and for the acting not just being a tough girl. While in general I don’t like English movies that plod along in a very British proper way, this one overcame that downside with the power of the characters. I don’t want to read the book as Ian writes way too British for me and I have been bored with his prior books. This movie is also the kind of thing the Academy will love, long epic love story performances. I expect nominations and a few awards. I rate 4 of 5 stars.

Posted by Martin at 11:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A story about "There Will be Blood"


So I like to understand the history of our oil addiction. I also like a good drama. And a good independent western showing the American spirit. In There Will Be Blood, I got them all. A slow brooding movie that just grinds along at it’s own slow pace, it is unusual for a Hollywood movie. No big car chases, not many guns, LOTS of character development. Worth watching. It is a dark portrait of the American west and the beginnings of oil wealth, but I think probably quite accurate. A must see. I rate 5 of 5 stars.

Posted by Martin at 11:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Peakniks make the front page of the WSJ

Today's WSJ has a cover story on a middle school teacher in Michigan who is preparing his family for the end of easy oil. Unlike many of the previous end of the world zealots who are forecasting world doom from some cataclysmic (usually religious inspired) event, people concerned about oil depletion come from all backgrounds and base their fears on facing the facts of life today. Oil is running out. The question is when. The other question is will our companies and governments tell us the truth or wait till it is too late? My guess is they wait. They have already done largely nothing as the price of oil went up 75% last year. Where is that money being spent? Oh yea the sovereign wealth funds are buying up American banks and companies with the oil dollars we just shipped them. If American's don't wake up and start innovating our way to real alternatives, in a few short years it will all be over.

Posted by Martin at 11:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 25, 2008

renderings of my building I am building

I am building a 14,000 sq ft mixed use rest/office/live/work space in Madrona near the corner of 34th and Union. Check out some of the new renderings from the architect today. It should be ready middle of 2009.



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Dole harvesting equipment to B20

Good to see industry coming along. Imperium has been working with Dole on a number of initiatives related to biodiesel. Seems like someone is listening. Way to go Dole!

Posted by Martin at 8:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

checking out

Thinking about microlending again. Just made a loan on Kiva to five women in pakistan starting an embroidery business. Very cool that Paypal gives transaction free funds processing. I don't know the interest rate (probably zero) but will see how the repayment goes. Not as robust a user interface and portfolio management as the Prosper.com's of the world, but it looks to get the job done. They could do with a little more focus on loans and less on marketing their idea of Kiva and how pious they are for doing good. Stay tuned here to see how it goes.

Posted by Martin at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2008

My Birthday goals

Ok, today is my birthday. 44 years young. Here are two goals I have every year, this is the third year I have done it.

1. ride my bike at least as many miles as you are years old. Today I rode 45 mi (overachiever that I am).
2. Surf for the number of hours in the first digit of your age. 4 hours. Paddling out in half an hour on the stand up board at Waikiki. If I surf till sunset it will be more like 5 hours.

now if I can only keep that up into the 70s.

m

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UBS climate change research

Today the EU will be giving updated direction on climate change initiatives and targets for across the EU. Both for Renewable electricity generation and renewable fuels. Bottom line: strengthing the carbon credit trading systems, reaffirming the mandatory 20% Renewable Energy and 10% renewable fuel mandates by 2020, and more guidance on how local countries can help industry. Wake up America, Europe is going to beat us here. Read the whole UBS piece here.

Posted by Martin at 11:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Solazyme gets deal with Chevron

Despite the blatant greenwashing that Chevron is doing, I am happy for my friends at Solazyme for their deal with Chevron today. It will help advance algae feedstock development overall. Hopefully the early support I gave Solazyme through Imperium was some small help here. Congrats Jonathan.

Posted by Martin at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Special Limited Partner at Yaletown

I have known the guys at Yaletown ventures up in Vancouver since before they raised their first fund. Good guys. Recently I joined the equivalent of their Advisory Board as a Special Limited Partner. If you are doing anything in software or cleantech in the northwest, especially with any Canadian connection, these are the early stage guys to help out.

Posted by Martin at 9:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2008

Cool carbon video

Check out this GapCast that shows where carbon comes from worldwide and how it has changed from 1975 to 2003. This is basically the mantra of google.org's re which I hope gets some traction.

Posted by Martin at 5:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2008

Remember Nixon's Project Independence?

check this out from Nixon in 1974:

"Let this be our national goal: At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need to provide our jobs, to heat our homes, and to keep our transportation moving."

The feds aren't going to save us on this one. We have to save ourselves.

Posted by Martin at 6:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Remember the Synthetic Fuel Corporation?

I had never heard of it. But thanks to the Heritage Foundation, I found this backgrounder. In 1980 president (big government lacky) Carter formed a federal corporation with an $18B budget to "solve the energy crisis in 5 years". They had targets to be creating over 2M barrels per day by 1987. But of course government stupidity, partnering with the oil companies and the drastic drop in crude in the 80's lead to a huge failure. Regan rightly killed it in 1985. While I agree that the government cant commercialize squat, the part about minimum standards to support the free market was right and should be kept.

Another good piece of history on the energy independence topic is Ronald Bailey's timeline over at Reason.

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January 18, 2008

Seattle economy due for 'good ride' in 2008

The Seattle Times wrote up a nice story on the Enerprise Seattle event at which I spoke yesterday.

my piece:


Dozens of local clean-technology companies -- enterpriseSeattle estimates more than 400 -- have been formed.

Access to capital is still a big obstacle. The Northwest Energy Angels alliance, made up of 45 people, is looking for companies to invest in. It has reviewed 22 companies and funded four so far. Three years ago, the group was founded by Martin Tobias, the former CEO of Imperium Renewables. He left the biofuel company in December.

"These companies need a lot more money to get created than standard software companies," Tobias said.

Clean-technology companies face the inertia created by a well-established energy industry, he said. "The incumbent industries we are trying to change have more money than any of us, and they don't want to change."

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January 17, 2008

Remember the energy bill

With ethanol companies tanking (again). I have to pinch myself and remember to read the biodiesel carve-out in the energy bill which was signed into law before christmas. This WILL lead to a viable biodiesel business in this country.

Biodiesel schedule

2009 – 500MG
2010 – 650MG
2011 – 800MG
2012 (and thereafter) – 1BG

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Time for reduction of bloatware

Milan Kundera wrote once that there are two ways to define the self. Addition and Subtraction. Every couple months I go into subtraction mode on my PC, getting rid of software I don't use and is clogging up my PC. My laptop has less than 2% free space on a 100gig drive, so it is time. Here are some of the things going away, no longer useful.

Microsoft Works (use office)
Thunderbird (use outlook)
ITunes (hate it)
Rhapsody (ibid)
Bittorrent (moved to server)
SKype
Azeraus
Apple Software Udate
Apple Mobile device support
Client Security Solution (wah?)
uTorrent
GD Bloomberg gadget
HP Customer Participation Program (200mb!)
IRI portal
Java 5 (kept 6)
MS office Communicator
Panatech PC Card Software
Sonic Wall VPN
Sprint Mobile Broadband
Thinkpad presentation center
WinAmp Remote

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Why Early Stage Venture Investments Fail: from Fred Wilson

I tend to agree with his take on why most fail and also on the need to have the flexibility to transform ventures on the fly as most successful ventures changed their plans a couple times. Unfortunately some plans are only discoverable with large capital investment, especially in the clean tech space. Look for lots of capital to be deployed in cleantech, and lower multiples in the end than technology. I doubt you will see 100X returns in clean tech. You just need too much money to scale cleantech.

Fred's summary:

Regardless of whether you have taken venture capital or not, capital efficiency and bootstrapping are critical values. You must keep your burn rate low until you can show without a shadow of a doubt that you have a business model that works, can be operated profitably and is ready to be scaled. Then and only then should you step on the gas.

Posted by Martin at 10:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Buffalo survives lion attack

wow, talk about natural selection. This video has been on UTube for over a year, but I just saw it. A group of lions attack a buffalo heard taking down a small baby. The baby falls in the water and gets attacked by crocs. Then the herd comes back and chases off the lions. The baby survives. Sadly most stories don't have a hollywood ending like this, but this is nature at the most raw.

Posted by Martin at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Finished MT upgrade and site move

Just today I finally got the last of the www.martinandalex.com directories off the server and out of my code base. The blog is now fully hosted only at www.deepgreencrystals.com. Just changed the Google search in the upper right. The last problem I had was with getting MT-xmlrpc.cgi to work correct from w.bloggar and scribefire. After alot of searching on the support sites, i find that you have to delete or rename mt.cfg. it is a configuration file used by MT 3.15 and not 4.0. Why didn't the MT-Upgrade.cgi script do that? And why did the failure of the system expose itself as an authority problem with mt-xmlrpc.cgi when the config file was there? Yet another sign I am afraid that Movable Type has lost it's way on server software. Unfortunate.

Posted by Martin at 6:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Been thinking about P2P lending

Found this very good intro article over at Salon. As you can see on my site, I like Prosper. This is a category that needs alot of innovation though. There is alot of money on the table. Take just the $4.6B in fees the payday loan industry makes averaging 400% interest. Now there is a good business. Could you do it on-line for $3B? Maybe I will review the different sites over the next week.

Posted by Martin at 4:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 15, 2008

An oldie that I wish I had re-read myself

A post I made on Venture blog way back in June 23,2004 about success factors of a great start-up CEO. Still very true today.

Posted by Martin at 2:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Donating to National Biodiesel Foundation

they are promoting biodiesel education across the country. This country needs it.

Posted by Martin at 11:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2008

More pictures of my clarion 310C auto pc

On Ebay I am selling a Clarion AutoPC 310C. Here are some more pics.



Posted by Martin at 9:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 11, 2008

New Year's resolution

Only two this year.
1. Use only reusable shopping bags, NEVER take a plastic one.
2. Spruce up my German.

Posted by Martin at 4:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Buy my garage sale items on Amazon

click here to see my latest Amazon garage sale. Just have time to put a bunch of stuff up there. I prefer Amazon since they have all the metadata for new things. And the average sales prices are higher than Ebay. All things new.
Natural Capitalism, essential reading for any clean green capitalist.
and a Netgear WPN824 and DLink VOIP gateway are my favorites.

Posted by Martin at 3:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 8, 2008

Bloomberg.com: trade in $200 oil options up 10x

Bloomberg reports that futures trading in $200 oil is up significantly. Someone smarter than me believes that it will get there. Wow.

Posted by Martin at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Light reading from Newt

This is the text of a speech he gave recently. I couldn't have expressed the disaster the West's complacency about Islamic fundamentalist is setting up in the world. Stop sending our $$ to fund this war against American and democracy around the world. Do you want to be converted to Islam? That is what the fundamentalist want. We are financing their dreams by driving petroleum powered cars and trucks. Do something now. Stop using petroleum.


[Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich delivered the following remarks to a
Jewish National Fund meeting Nov. 15 at the Selig Center:]

I just want to talk to you from the heart for a few minutes and share with
you where I think we are.

I think it is very stark. I don't think it is yet desperate, but it is very
stark. And if I had a title for today's talk, it would be sleepwalking into
a nightmare. 'Cause that's what I think we're doing.

I gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute Sept. 10 at which I
gave an alternative history of the last six years, because the more I
thought about how mich we're failing, the more I concluded you couldn't just
nitpick individual places and talk about individual changes because it
didn't capture the scale of the disaster. And I had been particularly
impressed by a new book that came out called Troublesome Young Men, which is
a study of the younger Conservatives who opposed appeasement in the 1930's
and who took on Chamberlain. It's a very revealing book and a very powerful
book because we tend to look backwards and we tend to overstate Churchill's
role in that period. And we tend to understate what a serious and
conscientious and thoughtful effort appeasement was and that it was the
direct and deliberate policy of very powerful and very willful people. We
tend to think of it as a psychological weakness as though Chamberlain was
somehow craven. He wasn't craven. Chamberlain had a very clear vision of the
world, and he was very ruthless domestically. And they believed so deeply in
avoiding war with Germany that as late as the spring of 1940, when they are
six months or seven months into they war, they are dropping leaflets instead
of bombs on the Rohr, and they are urging the British news media not to
publish anti-German stories because they don't want to offend the German
people. And you read this book, and it makes you want to weep because,
interestingly, the younger Tories who were most opposed to appeasement were
the combat veterans of World War I, who had lost all of their friends in the
war but who understood that the failure of appeasement would result in a
worse war and that the longer you lied about reality, the greater the
disaster.

And they were severely punished and isolated by Chamberlain and the
Conservative machine, and as I read that, I realized that that's really
where we are today. Our current problem is tragic. You have an
administration whose policy is inadequate being opposed by a political left
whose policy is worse, and you have nobody prepared to talk about the policy
we need. Because we are told if you are for a strong America, you should
back the Bush policy even if it's inadequate, and so you end up making an
argument in favor of something that can't work. So your choice is to defend
something which isn't working or to oppose it by being for an even weaker
policy. So this is a catastrophe for this country and a catastrophe for
freedom around the world. Because we have refused to be honest about the
scale of the problem.

Let me work back. I'm going to get to Iran since that's the topic, but I'm
going to get to it eventually.

Let me work back from Pakistan. The dictatorship in Pakistan has never had
control over Wiziristan. Not for a day. So we've now spent six years since
9/11 with a sanctuary for Al-Qaida and a sanctuary for the Taliban, and
every time we pick up people in Great Britain who are terrorists, they were
trained in Pakistan.

And our answer is to praise Musharraf because at least he's not as bad as
the others. But the truth is Musharraf has not gotten control of terrorism
in Pakistan. Musharraf doesn't have full control over his own government.
The odds are even money we're going to drift into a disastrous dictatorship
at some point in Pakistan. And while we worry about the Iranians acquiring a
nuclear weapon, the Pakistanis already have 'em. So why would you feel
secure in a world where you could presently have an Islamist dictatorship in
Pakistan with a hundred-plus nuclear weapons? What's our grand strategy for
that?

Then you look at Afghanistan. Here's a country that's small, poor, isolated,
and in six years we have not been able to build roads, create economic
opportunity, wean people off of growing drugs. A third of the GDP is from
drugs. We haven't been able to end the sanctuary for the Taliban in Pakistan.
And I know of no case historically where you defeat a guerrilla movement if
it has a sanctuary. So the people who rely on the West are out bribed by the
criminals, outgunned by the criminals, and faced with a militant force
across the border which practiced earlier defeating the Soviet empire and
which has a time horizon of three or four generations. NATO has a time
horizon of each quarter or at best a year, facing an opponent whose time
horizon is literally three or four generations. It's a total mismatch.

Then you come to the direct threat to the United States, which is Al-Qaida.
Which, by the way, we just published polls. One of the sites I commend to
you is AmericanSolutions.com. Last Wednesday we posted six national surveys,
$428,000 worth of data. We gave it away. I found myself in the unique
position of calling Howard Dean to tell him I was giving him $400,000 worth
of polling. We have given it away to both Democrats and Republicans. It is
fundamentally different from the national news media. When asked the
question "Do we have an obligation to defend the United States and her
allies?" the answer is 85 percent yes. When asked a further question "Should
we defeat our enemies?" - it's very strong language - the answer is 75
percent yes, 75 to 16.

The complaint about Iraq is a performance complaint, not a values complaint.

When asked whether or not Al-Qaida is a threat, 89 percent of the country
says yes. And they think you have to defeat it, you can't negotiate with it.
So now let's look at Al-Qaida and the rise of Islamist terrorism.

And let's be honest: What's the primary source of money for Al-Qaida? It's
you, recirculated through Saudi Arabia. Because we have no national energy
strategy, when clearly if you really cared about liberating the United
States from the Middle East and if you really cared about the survival of
Israel, one of your highest goals would be to move to a hydrogen economy and
to eliminate petroleum as a primary source of energy.

Now that's what a serious national strategy would look like, but that would
require real change.

So then you look at Saudi Arabia. The fact that we tolerate a country saying
no Christian and no Jew can go to Mecca, and we start with the presumption
that that's true while they attack Israel for being a religious state is a
sign of our timidity, our confusion, our cowardice that is stunning.

It's not complicated. We're inviting Saudi Arabia to come to Annapolis to
talk about rights for Palestinians when nobody is saying, "Let's talk about
rights for Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabia. Let's talk about rights for
women in Saudi Arabia."

So we accept this totally one-sided definition of the world in which our
enemies can cheerfully lie on television every day, and we don't even have
the nerve to insist on the truth. We pretend their lies are reasonable. This
is a very fundamental problem. And if you look at who some of the largest
owners of some of our largest banks are today, they're Saudis.

You keep pumping billions of dollars a year into countries like Venezuela,
Iran and Saudi Arabia, and Russia, and you are presently going to have
created people who oppose you who have lots of money. And they're then going
to come back to your own country and finance, for example, Arab study
institutes whose only requirement is that they never tell the truth. So you
have all sorts of Ph.D.s who now show up quite cheerfully prepared to say
whatever it is that makes their funders happy - in the name, of course, of
academic freedom. So why wouldn't Columbia host a genocidal madman? It's
just part of political correctness. I mean, Ahmadinejad may say terrible
things, he may lock up students, he may kill journalists, he may say, "We
should wipe out Israel," he may say, "We should defeat the United States,"
but after all, what has he done that's inappropriate? What has he done that
wouldn't be repeated at a Hollywood cocktail party or a nice gathering in
Europe?

And nobody says this is totally, utterly, absolutely unacceptable. Why is it
that the No. 1 threat in intelligence movies is the CIA?

I happened the other night to be watching an old movie, To Live and Die in
L.A., which is about counterfeiting. But the movie starts with a Secret
Service agent who is defending Ronald Reagan in 1985, and the person he is
defending Ronald Reagan from is a suicide bomber who is actually, overtly a
Muslim fanatic. Now, six years after 9/11, you could not get that scene made
in Hollywood today.

Just look at the movies. Why is it that the bad person is either a
right-wing crazed billionaire, or the CIA as a government agency. Go look at
the Bourne Ultimatum. Or a movie like the one that George Clooney made,
which was an absolute lie, in which it implied that if you were a reformist
Arab prince, that probably the CIA would kill you. It's a total lie. We
actually have SEALs protecting people all over the world. We actually risk
American lives protecting reformers all over the world, and yet Hollywood
can't bring itself to tell the truth, (a) because it's ideologically so
opposed to the American government and the American military, and (b),
because it's terrified that if it said something really openly, honestly
true about Muslim terrorists, they might show up in Hollywood. And you might
have somebody killed as the Dutch producer was killed.

And so we're living a life of cowardice, and in that life of cowardice we're
sleepwalking into a nightmare.

And then you come to Iran. There's a terrific book. Mark Bowden is a
remarkable writer who wrote Black Hawk Down, has enormous personal courage.
He's a Philadelphia a newspaper writer, actually got the money out of the
Philadelphia newspaper to go to Somalia to interview the Somalian side of
Black Hawk Down. It's a remarkable achievement. Tells a great story about
getting to Somalia, paying lots of cash, having the local warlord protect
him, and after about two weeks the warlord came to him and said, "You know,
we've decided that we're very uncomfortable with you being here, and you
should leave."

And so he goes to the hotel, where he is the only hard-currency guest, and
says, "I've got to check out two weeks early because the warlord has told me
that he no longer will protect me." And the hotel owner, who wants to keep
his only hard-currency guest, says, "Well, why are you listening to him?
He's not the government. There is no government." And Bowden says, "Well,
what will I do?" And he says, "You hire a bigger warlord with more guns,"
which he did. But then he could only stay one week because he ran out of
money.

But this is a guy with real courage. I mean, imagine trying to go out and be
a journalist in that kind of world, OK? So Bowden came back and wrote Guest
of the Ayatollah, which is the Iranian hostage (event) of 1979, which he
entitled, "The First Shots in Iran's War Against America." So in the Bowden
world view, the current Iranian dictatorship has been at war with the United
States since 1979. Violated international law. Every conceivable tenet of
international law was violated when they seized the American Embassy and
they seized the diplomats. Killed Americans in lebanon in the early '80s.
Killed Americans at Khobar Towers in '95 and had the Clinton administration
deliberately avoid revealing the information, as Louis Freeh, the director
of the FBI, has said publicly, because they didn't want to have to confront
the Iranian complicity.

And so you have an Iranian regime which is cited annually as the leading
supporter of state terrorism in the world. Every year the State Department
says that. It's an extraordinary act of lucidity on the part of an
institution which seeks to avoid it as often as possible.

And you have Gen. Petraeus come to the U.S. Congress and say publicly in an
open session, "The Iranians are waging a proxy war against Americans in
Iraq."

I was so deeply offended by this, it's hard for me to express it without
sounding irrational. I'm an Army brat. My dad served 27 years in the
infantry. The idea that an American general would come to the American
Congress, testify in public that our young men and women are being killed by
Iran, and we have done nothing, I find absolutely abhorrent.

So I'm preparing to come and talk today. I got up this morning, and a friend
had sent me yesterday's Jerusalem Post editorial, which if you haven't read,
I recommend to you. It has, for example, the following quote: "On Monday,
chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, 'The problem of the content
of the document setting out joint principles for peace-making post-Annapolis
has not been resolved. One of the more pressing problems is the Zionist
regime's insistence on being recognized as a Jewish state. We will not agree
to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. There is no country in the world
where religious and national identities are intertwined.' "

What truly bothers me is the shallowness and the sophistry of the Western
governments, starting with our own. When a person says to you, "I don't
recognize that you exist," you don't start a negotiation. The person says,
"I literally do not recognize" and then lies to you. I mean the first thing
you say to this guy is "Terrific. Let's go visit Mecca. Since clearly
there's no other state except Israel that is based on religion, the fact
that I happen to be Christian won't bother anybody." And then he'll say,
"Well, that's different."

We tolerate this. We have created our own nightmare because we refuse to
tell the truth. We refuse to tell the truth to our politicians. Our State
Department refuses to tell the truth to the country. If the president of the
United States, and again, we're now so bitterly partisan, we're so committed
to red-vs.-blue hostility, that George W. Bush doesn't have the capacity to
give an address from the Oval Office that has any meaning for half the
country. And the anti-war left is so strong in the Democratic primary that I
think it's almost impossible for any Democratic presidential candidate to
tell the truth about the situation.

And so the Republicans are isolated and trying to defend incompetence. The
Democrats are isolated and trying to find a way to say, "I'm really for
strength as long as I can have peace, but I'd really like to have peace,
except I don't want to recognize these people who aren't very peaceful."

I just want to share with you, as a grandfather, as a citizen, as a
historian, as somebody who was once speaker of the House, this is a serious
national crisis. This is 1935 or 1936, and it's getting worse every year.

None of our enemies are confused. Our enemies don't get up each morning and
go, "Oh, gosh, I think I'll have an existential crisis of identity in which
I will try to think through whether or not we can be friends while you're
killing me." Our enemies get up every morning and say, "We hate the West. We
hate freedom." They would not allow a meeting with women in the room.

I was once interviewed by a BBC reporter, a nice young lady who was only
about as anti-American as she had to be to keep her job. Since it was a live
interview, I turned to her halfway through the interview and I said, "Do you
like your job?" And it was summertime, and she's wearing a short-sleeve
dress. And she said, "Well, yes." She was confused because I had just
reversed roles. I said, "Well, then you should hope we win." She said, "What
do you mean?" And I said, "Well, if the enemy wins, you won 't be allowed to
be on television."

I don't know how to explain it any simpler than that.

Now what do we need?

We need first of all to recognize this is a real war. Our enemies are
peaceful when they're weak, are ruthless when they're strong, demand mercy
when they're losing, show no mercy when they're winning. They understand
exactly what this is, and anybody who reads Sun Tzu will understand exactly
what we're living through. This is a total war. One side is going to win.
One side is going to lose. You'll be able to tell who won and who lost by
who's still standing. Most of Islam is not in this war, but most of Islam
isn't going to stop this war. They're just going to sit to one side and tell
you how sorry they are that this happened. We had better design grand
strategies that are radically bigger and radically tougher and radically
more honest than anything currently going on, and that includes winning the
argument in Europe , and it includes winning the argument in the rest of the
world. And it includes being very clear, and I'll just give you one simple
example because we're now muscle-bound by our own inability to talk
honestly.

Iran produces 60 percent of its own gasoline. It produces lots of crude oil
but only has one refinery. It imports 40 percent of its gasoline. The entire
60 percent is produced at one huge refinery.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan decided to break the Soviet empire. He was asked
what's your vision of the Cold War. He said, "Four words: We win; they
lose." He was clearly seen by The New York Times as an out-of-touch,
reactionary, right-wing cowboy from California who had no idea what was
going on in the world. And 11 years later the Soviet Union disappeared, but
obviously that had nothing to do with Reagan because that would have meant
he was right. So it's just a random accident the Soviet Union disappeared.

Part of the war we waged on the Soviet Union involved their natural gas
supply because we wanted to cut off their hard currency. The Soviets were
desperate to get better equipment for their pipeline. We managed to sell
them through third parties very, very sophisticated American pipeline
equipment, which they were thrilled to buy and thought they had pulled off a
huge coup. Now we weren't playing fair. We did not tell them that the
equipment was designed to blow up. One day in 1982, there was an explosion
in Siberia so large that the initial reflection on the satellites looked
like there was a tactical nuclear weapon. One part of the White House was
genuinely worried, and the other part of the White House had to calm them
down. They said, "No, no, that's our equipment blowing up."

In the 28 years since the Iranians declared war on us, in the six years
since 9/11, in the months since Gen. Petraeus publicly said they are killing
young Americans, we have not been able to figure out how to take down one
refinery. Covertly, quietly, without overt war. And we have not been able to
figure out how to use the most powerful navy in the world to simply stop the
tankers and say, "Look, you want to kill young Americans, you're going to
walk to the battlefield, but you're not going to ride in the car because
you're not going to have any gasoline."

We don't have to be stupid. The choice is not cowardice or total war. Reagan
unlocked Poland without firing a shot in an alliance with the pope, with the
labor unions and with the British. We have every possibility if we're
prepared to be honest to shape the world. It'll be a very big project. It's
much closer to World War II than it is to anything we've tried recently. It
will require real effort, real intensity and real determination. We're
either going to do it now, while we're still extraordinarily powerful, or
we're going to do it later under much more desperate circumstances after
we've lost several cities.

We had better take this seriously because we are not very many mistakes away
from a second Holocaust. Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust. Our
enemies would like to get those weapons as soon as they can, and they
promise to use them as soon as they can.

I suggest we defeat our enemies and create a different situation long before
they have that power.

Posted by Martin at 2:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BMW comits to ship diesels to US

Thanks GCC for this review. I remain committed to my prediction that there will be more diesels offered by major auto makers in 2009 than hybrids.  Watch out Toyota!

Posted by Martin at 1:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 3, 2008

Oil breaks $100, closes just below, I toldya so

From Martin Tobias:

"Santa will bring $100 oil for christmas".  That is when oil just hit over $80/barrel for the first time.  People thought I was crazy then. 

Now From Bloomberg:
Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil was trading above $99 a
barrel after falling from a record in New York on gains in U.S.
gasoline and diesel inventories.

Gasoline supplies climbed 1.99 million barrels to 207.8
million last week, an Energy Department report showed, outpacing
a 1.5 million-barrel increase predicted in a Bloomberg News
survey. Crude futures yesterday touched a record $100.09 before
closing lower.


``The levels of stockpiles indicate markets seem to be
adequately supplied, so there's not too much concern around
about a physical shortage,'' said Gerard Burg, a minerals and
energy economist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Melbourne.
``There seems to be a continual acceptance of prices at higher
levels.''


Crude oil for February delivery traded at $99.27 a barrel,
up 9 cents, in after-hours electronic trading on the New York
Mercantile Exchange at 9:53 a.m. in Singapore. Yesterday the
contract fell 44 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $99.18 a barrel.
Prices are up 79 percent from a year ago.

Posted by Martin at 7:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 2, 2008

The seed is starting to prosper

Four years ago I started looking for renewable energy investments in the Northwest.  I invested in Seattle Biodiesel that became Imperium Renewables.  Three years ago I started the Northwest Energy Angel Network.  Now stories are showing up every week about the growth of clean tech in Seattle, including this one in Seattle Times this week. Tech people focusing on the environment and renewable energy.  Now there is a winning formula. 

Posted by Martin at 7:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack