Monday, February 22, 2016

William John Bennett:Grim Legacy of Reagan's Grim Reaper of Public Education

William John Bennett

The American teacher and scholar William John Bennett (born 1943) was chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1981-1985), secretary of the Department of Education (1985-1988), and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (1989-1990) During the 1990s he was codirector of Empower America and an active spokesperson for conservatism.
William John Bennett was born in Flatbush (Brooklyn), New York, on July 3, 1943. His family was middle-class and Roman Catholic. He grew up on the streets of Flatbush and described himself as "streetwise." He first attended PS 92 but later transferred to Jesuit-run Holy Cross Boy's School. His family moved to Washington, D.C., where he graduated from Gonzaga High School, another Catholic institution.
Bennett was mostly raised by his mother, but he early found inspiration in such male American heroes as Abraham Lincoln, Roy Campenella, and Gary Cooper. From these life stories he derived an axiom that heroes are necessary for moral development of children and that this development requires adult guidance as well as inspiration. His high school football coach also provided a role model of mental and physical toughness and convinced Bennett of the value of competitive sports.
Bennett went to Williams College to play football. He was an interior lineman who earned the nickname "the ram" from an incident where he butted down a coed's door. He worked his way through Williams, and later through graduate school, with scholarships and part-time and summer jobs and with student loans that finally totaled $12,000.
Graduating in 1965, he studied philosophy at the University of Texas and wrote a dissertation on the theory of the social contract. (At that time John R. Silber was chairman of the Department of Philosophy and later dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.) He did not study all the time. In 1967 he had a blind date with Janis Joplin, and he also played guitar with a rock and roll band called Plato and the Guardians. While working on his Ph.D., which he earned in 1970, Bennett taught philosophy and religion at the University of Southern Mississippi for a year (1967-1968). He went on to study law at Harvard University, and worked as a social studies tutor and hall proctor (1970-1971) until he earned his J.D. degree.
He then moved across town to Boston University, where Silber had just become president. There he served as an associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts for a year (1971-1972) before becoming an assistant professor of philosophy and an assistant to Silber from 1972 to 1976. One of his duties was to escort military recruiters through crowds of antiwar protesters, a duty made easier by his football training.

Opening the Door to Government Service

Meanwhile, he was becoming better known nationally. He served on a review panel for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 1973 and was chairman of the "Question of Authority in American High Schools" project of the National Humanities Faculty, a conservative group, the same year. He next was associate chairman of the group's bicentennial study, "The American Covenant: The Moral Uses of Power." He was also writing articles. Among these were "In Defense of Sports" in Commentary (February 1976); "The Constitution and the Moral Order" in Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly (Fall 1976); and "Let's Bring Back Heroes" in Newsweek(April 15, 1977).

William John Bennett

In May 1976 he became executive director of the National Humanities Center, which he had co-founded with Charles Frankel, a philosophy professor from Columbia University who took the office of president. When intruders murdered Frankel in 1979, Bennett assumed Frankel's position as well. The same year he co-authored Counting by Race: Equality from the Founding Fathers to Bakke and Weber with the journalist Terry Eastland. The book attacked affirmative action and the Supreme Court for legitimizing it.

A registered Democrat who described himself as sympathetic to "neoconservative" causes, Bennett drafted the arts and humanities section of the Heritage Fund"s Mandate for Leadership(1980), a series of recommendations for President-elect Ronald Reagan. He became a Republican and was rewarded by Reagan, who appointed him to replace Joseph Duffy as head of NEH in December 1981. One of his rivals for the job was Silber. As director, Bennett proved abrasive and controversial. He acceded to Reagan's budget cuts for the agency and criticized faddish projects, including three documentaries made with NEH funds: "From the Ashes … Nicaragua Today," "Women Under Siege," and "Four Corners, A National Sacrifice Area?" He argued for a return to a strict definition of the humanities and promoted summer seminars for high school teachers. His major goal, to teach students the core of Western values, appeared inTo Reclaim a Legacy: A Report on the Humanities in Higher Education in November 1984. This report, along with Bennett's refusal to comply with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission affirmative action goals at NEH, earned him the enmity of women's and civil rights groups.
In November 1984 the office of secretary of the Department of Education became open when T. H. Bell resigned under right-wing pressure. Reagan had wanted to abolish the position, but decided instead to appoint Bennett after such conservatives as Jerry Falwell approved of him. In February 1985 he assumed the position.

Controversy in Two Jobs

Bennett proved even more controversial as the secretary of the Department of Education than he was at NEH. In his first press conference he supported Reagan's cuts in the student loan program, saying that some individuals should not go to college and that others should divest themselves of stereos, automobiles, and three weeks at the beach. Later the same year Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sued to force him to observe the Supreme Court ruling that public school teachers could not teach remedial education at private schools at federal expense. He attacked the educational establishment; said some colleges and universities were overpriced; deplored the high rate of student loan defaults, particularly in proprietary schools; and denounced Stanford University's revised curriculum, which de-emphasized Western civilization in favor of a broader study of world cultures.
Privatize Privatize Privatize
He favored education vouchers, merit pay, and a constitutional amendment mandating the federal government to remain neutral in the matter of school prayer. He emphasized moral education based upon the Judeo-Christian ethic while denouncing values clarification and cognitive moral development.

He remained in the limelight with appearances as a substitute teacher of social studies in a number of city schools and with many speeches and articles in the popular press. He was the author of First Lessons: A Report on Elementary Education, published by the U.S. Office of Education in 1987, which lists his personal convictions concerning elementary education. The same ideas appear in Our Children and Our Country: Improving America's Schools and Affirming the Common Culture (1988). Bennett also wrote American Education: Making It Work(1988) and The De-valuing of America: The Fight for Our Culture and Our Children (1992). Bennett's focus in education was on the three C's: content, character, and choice. It was his tireless advocacy of these that left his most lasting legacy on the education agenda of the 1980s.
Bennett resigned from the Department of Education in September 1988 to join the Washington law firm of Dunnels, Duvall, Bennett, and Porter. He had married Mary Elayne Glover late in life (1982) and needed the extra income to support his two sons.
However, the pull of public service proved too great. In January 1989 President George Bush appointed him head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy with the mission to rid the nation of drugs. Bennett was once again in the throes of controversy because of his outspoken views and his abrasive personality. He himself was an inveterate smoker and successfully kicked the habit in order to set an example. He pushed for more severe penalties for drug dealers, even saying that he had no moral qualms about beheading guilty parties as was done in Saudi Arabia. He used the metaphor of a war in urging the use of American military forces in Colombia and Peru to destroy supplies and set a goal of making Washington a drug-free city. Bennett announced his resignation November 8, 1990, claiming much progress. However his critics disagreed. Bennett considered becoming chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) but decided to devote his time to speaking, writing, and becoming a senior editor of the magazine National Review.
In 1993 Bennett published an anthology titled The Book of Virtues, which included stories, poems, essays, and fables intended to teach children values. The book sold very well, bringing in a profit of $5 million for Bennett and prompting him to publish similar books, including The Moral Compass: Stories for a Life's Journey (1995).

Spokesperson for Morality

Bennett was strongly favored as a presidential candidate by the conservative wing of the Republican Party in 1994, but he did not run. Instead, he continued to speak out on various topics. He joined the campaign protesting Time-Warner's investment in Interscope Records, which produced some of the most hardcore gangsta rap. He later took aim at some television talk shows. Bennett's issues found their way into the 1996 presidential campaign; even without running, he helped set the national agenda. He was also in demand on the public-speaking circuit, commanding $40,000 per speech. He served as codirector of Empower America, an organization dedicated to the promotion of conservative ideas and principles. Michael Kelly of the New Yorker called Bennett the pitchman of the new moral majority and "a leading voice of the force that is driving American politics right now—the national hunger for a moral society."

Further Reading

There is no full-length biography of Bennett, but his profile and critiques of his programs appeared frequently in popular magazines. Examples of these are portraits in the Wilson Library Bulletin (Spring 1982), Time (March 20, 1985; September 9, 1985), and the New York Times(January 11, 1985). Critiques of his programs at NEH can be found in Nation (April 14, 1984) andNational Review (March 8, 1985). A critique of his tenure at the Office of Education can be found in the Chronicle of Higher Education (September 21, 1988), while an appraisal of his success in the drug war is in Newsweek (January 29, 1990). Also see New Republic (June 17, 1996). For articles by Bennett see Harper's (January 1996) and Newsweek (June 3, 1996; October 21, 1996). See the Empower America Web site at <>.
Bennett's ideas are best explained in his books, including Counting by Race: Equality from the Founding Fathers to Bakke and Weber (1979); Our Children and Our Country: Improving America's Schools and Affirming the Common Culture (1988); and The De-valuing of America: The Fight for Our Children and Our Culture (1992). □
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Sunday, February 21, 2016

"the Mighty Marcellus" a Bust: We're paying the US Energy Information Administration For WHAT ?

 Nicholas Arguimbau,
 retired attorney

My friend and former colleague, Nicholas Arguimbau, a retired attorney gave me permission to share this with you. I think it's well worth reading, and I you will tell me what you think of it,
It's Time to Call the Shale Gas Revolution as well as "the Mighty Marcellus" a Bust. And Time is Long Overdue to Ask What We're paying the US Energy Information Administration For.
Nicholas C. Arguimbau.
Here's a February 4, 2016 production graph for the United States shale gas industry It's from David Hughes, who's been a natural gas geologist in Canada and the United States for over 35 years. His data are the latest government production statistics. The writer believes it is the most up-to-date graphic display of "peak shale gas" and "peak Marcellus."
These events were predicted by this writer in "2015: Is It The Year Marcellus Shale Gas Peaked And Then Began Falling As Fast As It Rose?" In the course of research, the writer has learned quite a little not only about the Marcellus shale but about how people go about fooling each other and themselves. Come aboard folr the ride!
hughes february4chart!cid_image001_gif@01D16044.gif
The entire US shale gas industry is being brought down by its largest play, the Marcellus, in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Here's how things look on the ground. Restaurants that used to be packed are now virtually empty. Almost every drilling company company has laid off workers and reduced its capital budget. Drilling rig counts, a surrogate for future new production, dropped by half, from 120 to 59, between 2013 and 2015, and dropped by half again, from 59 to 29, in the last nine months, leaving total production supported primarilly by pre-exiating, "legacy" wells which in shale gas plays typically lose about one third of their present production each year.:
This is no temporary pause caused primarily by a downturn in prices, from which the drillers will inevitably and quickly recover when and if prices recover. The Marcellus took off on its incredible rise shortly after the price of gas dropped 50% into clearly insufficient-to-pay-for-drilling territory.A poorly understood aspect of the entire shale revolution is that it follows a bizarre financial pettern - while the industry has seemingly thrived, the wells alone have almost never paid for themselves in production (See "2015: Is It The Year Marcellus Shale Gas Peaked And Then .. ". ), and likely never wil, because as the price of gas goes up, likely so will the cost of drilling and fracking,l. Some, folks in the business,notably the CEO of the failng giant, Chesapeake Oil aand Gas, have openly talked about the virtual impossibility of making ends meet from gas sales alone. Needless to say the direct drilling costs are only one part of the costs of running a company. If that is true now it likely always will be. The drillers are disinclined to talk about their finances, so there is a "Those who say don't know and those who know don't say" aspect tol the busuness, but happily a recent study established an accurate cost for drilling and fracking ($7.5 million per well), which may be compared to known figures about wells and their production. . A fracked well, unlike a traditional verticall well. is physcally very complex and has a short life span. If these aspects are sufficient to make them uncompetitive with traditional oil and gas, there is no reason for that to change. Moreover, the fracked-gas driller has to keep drilling constantly because production drops rapidly from existing wells. Production depends more on the rate at which wells are drilled than on the total number of wells, so wells have to keep being drilled as fast as the money coming in will allow. Moreover it is difficult to halt the production of a fracked well once production begins. The net result is that it is difficult to save either incoming money or fracked gas until the price goes up. Billions have been lost that way.
The drillers depend upon two limited resources - the gas, and the investors with the gas leases they are willing to purchase; and when one of them peaks, production peaks; with drilling unable to pay for itself, peak investment inevitably comes before peak gas. And that, in this writer's opinion, is what has happened to Marcellus, and must happen to almost the entire "shale revolution," both oil and gas. They've been mining suckers more than gas and oil, and have hit "peak suckers." It's a Ponzi scheme. This writer is saying nothing new. It's all laid out in the best-documented piece of jpournalism you'll ever read:: Dan Urbina, "Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush," New York Times June 25, 2011, The scam's continuance, bilking investors of billions in the subsequent five years, is a barely believable chronicle of mass societal dysfunction.

There is a remarkable simultaneity in the events of Bakken and Marcellus, but if the companies are to be perceived as"sucker miners" rather than oil and gas drillers thousands of miles apart, then they are competitors for the same limited resource, and the simultaneity makes perfect sense. This writer saw the tell-tale markings of a drying-up limited resource in the steady decline of the Marcellus growth rate starting at the beginning of its clmb, but the mathematics is the same whether the limited resource is gas or suckers, so the growth curves look roughly the same.
There is of course another source of funds that can potentially keep the drilling going in the absence of sufficient income from gas sales: loans. The conventional model of borrowing to start a business, the start-up loan, will provide capital for physical construction, and/or funds for initial operarion before incpome begins to come in sufficient to cover operation and profits Loans in the shale gas business are an entirely different animal. With gas sales insufficient to cover ongoing operations, how can a loan ever be secured or paid off? The answer is to have confidence that the business will always be rapidly growing, and to secure loans against future sales. Future sales can always secure present costs no matter how uneconomical present operations may be. This is Marcellus, up to last year, and it is largely the history of Chesapeake Oil and Gas, the one Marcellus driller with a well-understood history... And by the way,we have just learned how addictive the GDP is if to the great majority of businesses now financed on debt. With a strong GDP, you can finance any business selling widgets for less than they cost.

Why doesn't the Energy Information Agency warn us about these things?
Here is its projection of US natural gas ptoduction - a vision of endless growth, published in 2015, when rig counts for shale gas, not only in the Marcellus but everywhere else, were plummeting, a sure sign of an impending crash.
A chart like this one and many similar ones ialso mply ultimate production many itimes that which has been found by USGS to be possiblee with existing technology, yet EIA fails to explain what new technology would be necessary or when if ever it might be developed. In the case of Marcellus the discrepencies are explicit, becaujse USGS had concluded that Marcellus had technically recoverable reserves of 84 trillion cubic feet of gas, EIA conceded that to be correct, yet' EIA's projection implied ultimate production of several times the technically recoverable reserves, an impossibility in the absence of new unknown technology. That's something EIA keeps to itself. Investors see EIA's "up into the wild blue yonder" charts and assume they are buying into a sure thing. EIA projections like this one are essentially fraudulent, and instead of warning investors that they are falling into a trap, assure them that their investments have the security of gold.
This is nothing new
When EIA's staff were internally meeting in 2009 to discuss "peak oil" issues, they used a chart which showed worldwide production of conventional petroleum plummeting after 2012, yet publicly, EIA was claiming that peak oil would not occur until the 2030s. The same non-public chart's decline rates are reflected in the goals set for fossil energy reduction in the Waxman-Markey bill and in the goals set in the later Kerry bill, so it appears that EIA perceived reality one way, but described reality completely differently. The difference made it appear that the industry was being asked to cut their ultimate production severely, when in reality the proposed legislative goals did little more than require that the industry not extract more oil than existed.

It has been assumed for half a century, based upon oil geologists' experience, that an oil reserve's peak production occurs roughjly at the same time as half of the reserve has been expended. At the middle of the last decade, roughly one trillion barrels of oil had been produced and all the world's leading energy agencies (but one) perceived that approximately one trillion barrels remained, implying that peak conventional oil would occur in the middle of the last decade. In fact it did. The one dissenting agency was EIA, which claimed that there were two trillion, not one trillion, barrels of conventional oil yet to be exploited, In part this claim came from an absuredly optimistic assumption as to discovery of new conventional-oil reserves. Discoveries had been steadily dropping since the seventies, when they peaked. It has always taken approximately 30 years to progress from discovery to peak production of an oil reserve, and consequently, peak production pretty much had to be 30 years beyond the seventies. As the famous oil geologist ___ Campbell aptly put it, "You can't produce it before you discover it." EIA's contrary assumption was based upon the downward slope of discoveries dramatically reversing itself for no believable reason.
That was the first device used by EIA to talk itself out of a peak in the last decade. The second was a steadfast reliance upon OPEC's numbers as to its reserves. OPEC reserve numbers had been known for decades to be manufactured to permit individual countries to expand production in accordance with an OPEC rule tying production to reserves. When a report from Oxford University, which has never been challenged, stated that the OPEC reserve number overstated reserves by an amount equal to a full decade's global production at current rates, that didn't faze EIA. OPEC's fraud became EIA's fraud.
You may read the details of the above, with ample documentation, in this writer's "The Imminent Crash Of Oil Supply
And then there is the subjectg of what "oil" is. Naturally enough, most folks equate "oil" with petroleum, and assume as much when they read a chart. EIA makes many more charts of "oil" production these days than of petroleum production. Some smart type apparently observed that since peak natural gas was expected to come later than peak petroleum, peak "oil" woujld be later than peak petroleum if some portion of natural gas was redefined as "oil." It's the sort of word play for which oil and gas lawyers are famous. Or so it seems, because "oil" acquired a definition including within it, a portion of the natural gas known as "natural gas liquids." The notion has a sound of rationality to it until you learn what the natural gas liquids (NGLs) are.
This writer became familiar with them 35 years ago when invited to speak about the Dow Chemical Company in Alaska, where Mitsubishi and Dow were investigating whether to build a plant on the North Slope to manufacture petrochemicals with them. They re absolutely not part of the oil but part of the natural gas, which was the whole trouble with them. In an arctic climate, they condense in a natural gas pipeline and prevent it from functioning, and, when the Mitsubishi-Dow project failed, forced all the natural gas from the North Slope to be flared. If they had been part of the oil, there would not have been a problem. So NGLs became famous. In subarctic climates, they are neither liquid nor a substitute for petroleum, and are transported in natural gas pipelines. But a chart of current "oil" production is roughly flat, reflecting the continuing growth of natural gas production, with its NGLs, whereas a chart of current petroleum production is downsloped. How convenient!. "Thanks to the shale revolution, oil production has not yet peaked." I guess this is what you call a "white lie."
And so it goes. EIA seems incapable of drawing a public chart with a future downslope.
The economic hopes and fears of everyone in the world rise and fall on what EIA has to say, There is an uncanny equivalence between energy consumption and the gross domestic product, and there are those who say it iso mpossiblre to decouple them.Tverberg, "Is it really possible to decouple GDP Growth from Energy Growth?"…/is-it-really-possible-to-deco…/ Congress, to its credit, attempted to decoujple the politics of GDP from the number-crunching of EIA. Not only was EIA made separate from all other United States government entities, but an agency was created to audit its work, the Professional Audit Review Team. Both have failed miserably, as demonstrated by the above few examples. .. In this writer's opinion, a good method fro straightening tings out would be for people to demand details of the analysis under the Freedom of Iformatikon Act when confronted with a wildly wrong prediction. The ability of government analysts to fudge knows no bounds, but when we fail to use the tools available, we have little more than ourselves to blame folr the results.
A note: The writer has omitted some links for convenience of reading. If in need, the reader should be able to find the links by reading the New York Times piece and my articles

 "The Imminent Crash Of Oil Supply and "2015: Is It The Year Marcellus Shale Gas Peaked And Then .. 

[Key words: Marcellus, Ponzi scheme, peak Marcellus, peak shale gas, David Hughes, Chesapeake Oil and Gas, rig counts.],
The author is a retired lawyer who lives happily with his dog and cat and 40 fruit trees in Western Massachusetts.He is doing a little on a personal level notwithstanding Naomi Klein’s declaration that we can and apparently should do nothing to reduce CO2 emissions at all until the revolution comes. The fossil fuel industry would naturally endorse her position because (1) The carbon budget will long be exhausted before the revolution comes, (2) the revolution will never come unless its adherents have put aside the capitalists’ greed and sociopathy and replaced them with Henry Thoreau’s ethics and moderation, and (3) the industry would go broke if people boycotted its products. The writer’s colleagues say he is "religious" or "unscientific" or "immorally trying to look better than other people." They are likely right. How can we ever understand our quirks? In any event the author has no car, keeps his thermostat at 50, purchases no silly plastic electronics from China, maintains a vegetarian diet that should be vegan etc. but a long way from zero carbon. It’s easy to be conscientious if your are poor :-); may the limits to growth make us all very poor very soon. If 7 billion people did the same they could look their grandchildren in the eyes and say"We tried to make things OK for you." Without grandchildren the writer tries to say the same to his blameless neighboring chickadees.
reductions if more of the public were practicing real emissions reductions. He hopes others will do likewise.