Thomas E. Dewey: The Impossible Dream

August 3, 2008

Presidential Candidate Thomas E. Dewey

Several unsuccessful presidential nominees have in fact been renominated by their parties for another try. Most have not succeeded on the second attempt either.

One of these, Republican Thomas Dewey, ran against President Franklin Roosevelt,and President Harry Truman of the Democrats, an unenviable task for any man. Thomas Dewey was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he was an interesting man. If he had a weakness as a presidential candidate it was his foreign policy, but that evolved and in his second attempt he was much more of an internationalist.

The Republican Party made him their nominee to run against sitting presidents twice. Once in 1944 against FDR and again in 1948 against Harry Truman.

Dewey was a leader of the liberal wing of the Republican party. He fought the conservative faction lead by Robert Taft.

He was born March 24, 1902 in Owosso, Michigan. Dewey aspired to a professional singing career and had an excellent baritone voice. He had throat problems and decided instead to become a lawyer. Dewey served for many years as a prosecutor and District Attorney in New York City. His nickname was “Gangbuster” for his work against organized crime in the 1930s.

Dewey’s reputation carried him to the governorship of New York state in 1942 and he was elected three times in total. He was a strong supporter of the death penalty while governor. During his 12 years as governor over 90 people were electrocuted under New York state authority.

At age 36, in 1940, he ran for the Republican presidential nomination against Wendell Wilkie who went on to lose to FDR.

Dewey won the nomination in 1944, but was defeated by FDR. He was the first presidential candidate to be born in the 20th century, and also the youngest man to ever win the Republican presidential nomination. Had the public known about the true state of FDR’s declining health, Dewey might well have won the election. However, that’s another story.

The famous headline being held up by Truman

In the 1948 election against FDR’s successor Harry Truman, he was almost unanimously projected to be the winner by all the so-called experts. The Chicago Daily Tribue actually printed several hundred copies declaring “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” before election returns showed Truman had won.

Dewey didn’t run for president again, but in 1952 he played a major role in securing the nomination for Dwight Eisenhower.

Thomas Dewey is the only Republican to be nominated for president twice and lose both times. He is also the last presidential candidate to wear permanent facial hair, in his case a moustache.

His last term as Governor of New York expired in 1955. After this he returned to his law practice. He died suddenly of a heart attack on March 16, 1971 while vacationing in Florida. He was 68 years old.

Further Reading:
Thomas Dewey and His Times, Smith, Richard Norton, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1982
Truman Defeats Dewey, Donaldson, Gary A., University Press of Kentucky, 1999

Oil Sands: Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don’t

August 3, 2008

Author’s Disclaimer: I am employed by a petroluem company involved in developing the oil sands. This company shall remain nameless.

Oil sands open-pit mining

Northeastern Alberta, Canada contains some of the largest crude oil reserves in the world. Oil sands are a mix of naturally occurring bitument, a thick, sticky oil, and abrasive sand. The challenge is to recover the oil in an economic manner, but still protect the environment. The amount of oil is too large not to be developed.

Alberta has the largest known deposit of oil sands in the world. They cover a 140,800 square kilometre area. Currently 1.1 million barrels of oil are extracted each day. By 2015 it is expected that rate will increase to 2.7 million barrels per day.

The Province of Alberta benefits greatly from this resource. In 2004 the government collected $718 million (CDN) in royalty payments from oil sands production. The entire resource is owned by the province. Freehold mineral owners in the remote northeaster area of the province are essentially non-existent.

The oil sands reserves considered recoverable using today’s technology are designated at 175 million barrels. This is second only to those of Saudi Arabia (260 billion). That’s less than the 1.7 to 2.5 trillion barrels actually in the oil sands, if only the right technologies can be used.

Crude oil provides 36% of the primary energy the world uses for industry, transportation, heat, light, and air conditioning, and petrochemical products. Many of the petrochemical products are medical supplies. Gasoline and jet fuel are the most common transportation related products.

Oil sands are produced today using,

Surface Mining: near surface oil sands are developed using enormous truck-and-shovel mining systems. Hot water is used ot separate the bitumen (oil) from sand and clay.

In-Situ Mining: bitumen is obtained from deeply buried formations by injecting steam or other chemicals underground. This makes the thick bitumen thin and separates it from the sand. It is then pumped to the surface.

Upgrading: before the heavy oil (bitumen) is sent to refineries it has to be “upgraded” first into light oil. The conventional refineries can then process it into fuels, lubricants and other products.

Regulatory and environmental approvals required for these developments are stringent and numerous. Are there people opposed to developing these resources? Sure there are, but until demand for fossil fuels goes away how can we not use the oil.

Right now most of the recovered oil is sent to refineries in Canada and the United States. China and the Asian market are also clammering for more and are investing heavily in the area.

Further Reading:
Oil Sands Discovery Centre

Canada’s Oil Sands

%d bloggers like this: