From The Wilderness & Crossing the Rubican
March 24, 2008 - I have owed you this update for a long time. Things
have evolved so much and so relentlessly that there was no solid
ground on which to plant my feet, take a look around and tell you
what I saw with a steady gaze. I can do that now.
I know it's not necessary for me to point out to ever-loyal FTW
supporters how right we got it in our eight and a half years. A look
at economics, energy and geopolitics today mirrors - almost exactly -
everything I and the FTW writing staff predicted from 2001 through
the end of 2006. Oil is over $100 a barrel. Global oil production has
never exceeded the levels of late 2005. Gold is settling in at over
$1,000 an ounce and $1,500 may be locked in as a floor by year's end.
The US (and global) economy has begun its irreversible collapse.
The US has not (and will not) attack Iran.
Surrogate wars are developing in West Africa and around Venezuela. I
predicted this in a mid-June 2005 private meeting with Congressman
Roscoe Bartlett, (R) Maryland as I described a map I had made and he
had seen on our web site. Its title was, "World Energy Picture, March
2005." (It's on the FTW web site.) A few days after our meeting
Bartlett took that map, along with material from other Peak Oil
activists like Matt Savinar, and one I had made of Africa into a
private, one-on-one meeting with George W. Bush.
The subject of that meeting was Peak Oil.
In the most frightening article we ever published, "Eating Fossil
Fuels" (October 3, 2003), the great Dale Allen Pfeiffer starkly
described the umbilical between oil and food. We are just at the
threshold of what he told us was coming. Read it if you dare.
FTW was right about Pat Tillman. That series was our last great
exposé - but it was by no means our first.
The only major prediction we ever got wrong was that there would be a
draft; something the Empire has avoided through Stop-Loss, the
recruitment of green-card warriors, and a "surge" in enlistments from
young men and women who can find no other employment.
We missed the collapse of the US economy by a year and only the
deluded claim the worst is over. The major blessing that FTW enjoyed
from 1998 through 2006 of having a readership that had the time and
resources to read, to learn, and to fight the good fight, has been
replaced by an entire population focused solely on immediate economic
survival and a desire to stay out of a vortex swirling toward the
There was always going to come a time when survival crowded out other
concerns. That is not necessarily true for Peak Oil activists. We
know that we have done all that we could, balancing to various
degrees our concern for fellow man against the requisites of our own
survival and health. Some of us did a better job of this than others.
The courageous Ali Samsam Bakhtiari left us a few months ago. I will
never forget or yield the honor I feel in having worked with all of
them, especially the great Colin Campbell.
Nor will I ever surrender the places I have in my heart for Michael
Kane, Stan Goff and Jamey Hecht.
As I said after the 2004 election, September 11th is all but
forgotten. No one wants to hear about it anymore. People are too busy
worrying about how to keep from becoming homeless. The one blessing
here is that Rudy Giuliani did not benefit from 9-11 this election
year. But I shudder to think of him as Attorney General under
President John McCain who, as a commentator on CNN quipped, "will
make Dick Cheney look like Gandhi."
As Attorney General, Rudy Giuliani would be just plain vicious.
What has been lost as a result of FTW's end? Not much. Our
accomplishments are both significant and enduring. In my file cabinet
I have several hundred letters (not counting emails) sent as I
returned - desperately ill and broken in spirit - from Venezuela in
December 2006. They all say the same thing. "Mike, you've done so
much. You've given us a map and we are capable of reading it. Your
book 'Crossing the Rubicon' is our reference 'bible'. FTW showed us
how to analyze and to predict. You and the writers taught us how to
analyze and question and think. We want you to rest, to recover, to
have a life...You've earned it."
I do have a life now; a really good one. I am happier than I have
been in the thirty years since, as a young Los Angeles police
officer, I discovered that CIA was bringing drugs into the country. I
am also living less than a quarter mile from where I was living then.
I am two miles from where I graduated High School; four miles from my
Why am I not in Oregon? Why am I not preparing to live a sustainable
life? The answers will make sense to you but not until I tell you how
I got here.
The first thing that had to happen on my return was that I had to
recover. There were serious medical and (yes) psychological issues. I
was worn out, had been betrayed and waged war upon. I had PTSD. In
Caracas I had been "tagged" with an evil substance
called "burundanga". My glandular system was collapsing and I had
lost 25 pounds (the wrong way). I had constant vertigo. Doctors in
Venezuela who could have cared less about medical insurance added
that I might also have kidney stones. Thank God, I didn't.
After our offices were burglarized in June of 2006 (in the middle of
our Tillman series), the people I had left in place did not serve FTW
or me well. Many of my personal possessions, including precious and
rare books, mementos from 12 countries, wrist watches, my scrapbook
of freelance articles, and other most precious items were stolen by
people who were working for me. The bulk of my library, my
photographs, and my clothes were put in storage. Why people stole my
LAPD and UCLA diplomas (or threw them out) I don't know. Why someone
stole a photograph my mother took of FDR at Fort Belvoir in D.C. I
understand, but cannot yet forgive.
Everybody loses things. Some lose everything and come back stronger
than ever - although forever changed. I had given up totally. I went
to Venezuela to die. I could not fight the government's relentless
attempts to silence me anymore.
By roughly April of 2007 my health had returned to a point where I
could function. I will not write words I don't have to honor, love
and express my gratitude to the amazing Jenna Orkin for saving my
life and being the truest of friends.
Heeding a long-standing passion I became a volunteer groom and
occasional trail guide at the Kensington Stables just outside of
Prospect Park in Brooklyn. (That's right, Brooklyn.) Three days a
week, in an unbelievably crowded, ancient and barely surviving barn
that was home to more than 40 horses and ponies, I would turn out,
roll, groom and tack between five and nine horses a day. I rode for
free. The horses hastened my healing, but more was needed.
Finally in July, after more than two years, I gained control of an
inheritance left me by my father who had passed in May of 2005. I
always knew it would be there but I had to fight to keep it from the
hands of my stepmother's kin in Alabama. When I came back from
Venezuela it looked like I might never be successful.
You had sent in more than $12,000 in donations to keep me alive. That
money sustained me for eight months through two hospitalizations.
More importantly, it was a mandate for me to survive when I truly
believed that I had served my purpose here.
I should tell you now that donations are no longer needed. For eight
months now I have returned anything over $100. Whatever comes in - or
remains in the "bank" - will be used for the maintenance of the web
The first thing I did was pay as many outstanding debts as possible,
except for some that had been incurred without my approval while I
was out of the country. Some people made out nicely on FTW's money
after I left. I wasn't one of them.
The writers weren't either. I had to make good their back pay good
out of my inheritance. Of the close to two million dollars FTW made
in eight years, all of it went into the business, to hire more
writers, and to support other dedicated activists. No one who ever
worked for me experienced anything other than my intended generosity.
The fruits of that and my philosophy that well-paid writers write
better are on this web site forever.
It was being circulated then that I had smashed my own computers (for
a motive no one has yet explained) and had also been guilty of sexual
harassment against a female employee I fired shortly before the
burglary. The Ashland Daily Tidings, which I had previously
embarrassed after running a hit piece laden with falsehoods, pulled
out all the stops. Even Wikipedia did an unjustified number on me. (I
am not alone there.)
Getting the inheritance gave me the means to address these
allegations and issues - and to eventually discover what bits of my
life had been salvaged and put in storage.
I have made three trips to Ashland since July of 2007. On one of
these trips I took my attorney Ray Kohlman and, on another, Jenna
Orkin. I spent more than $20,000 seeking justice and the truth of
what had happened. Ironically, I had learned who it was who had
smashed my computers just weeks after leaving the US. Strong belief
that others in Ashland had been involved had haunted me every day
On my first trip - with Kohlman - I took a sealed letter from Stan
Goff discussing the Pat Tillman case to the Ashland Police
Department. The contents of that letter will remain known only by me,
him, the Ashland Police Department and a very few others. I can say
that nine general officers were disciplined in that case and Donald
Rumsfeld quit just as the revelations FTW had disclosed in June hit
the mainstream press in October and November.
As it turned out, completely by coincidence, the detective we met
with was also an Army Ranger veteran. As I had always known it would,
the physical evidence instantly exonerated me. There were serious
gaps in other areas too. I did not benefit from the burglary, nor did
the facts suggest any intent to do so. The sole $7,000 insurance
payment had gone directly and entirely to pay for new computers.
Contrary to what had been reported, I had never been asked to take a
Computer Voice Stress Analyzer or lie detector.
"I want one" were the first words out of my mouth in that meeting. I
was told in that, and in our next meeting in October 2007, it wasn't
I contacted private investigators, I started developing information
on key suspects who had likely either participated in the burglary
and who had certainly become accessories after-the-fact. The main
suspect, an employee who had been secretly telling Ashland PD on the
day it was discovered that I had done it, had moved to California and
was out of reach. He had been arrested for DUI in L.A. and was
apparently in hiding.
From August 2006 through February 2008 every night was filled with
dreams of revenge. It was torture for me as well but the
psychiatrists said it was healthy and I should "let it run". After
all, they don't put one in jail for thinking crazy. They put people
in jail for acting crazy. Two of the psychiatrists who treated me had
actually attended my lectures.
On August 22nd of 2007 I was thrown from a horse in the middle of
Prospect Park. It was my first injury in 30 years of riding. I landed
directly on the tip of my right thumb and shattered the socket. For
more than six weeks I walked around with six large pins - to
immobilize the joint - protruding through my flesh. I told the
curious that they were NSA eavesdropping antennae. The pain was
indescribable and it lasted until January. Just two days after the
pins were removed (October 11th) Jenna and I boarded a plane for the
west coast. On that trip I was told by the Ashland police that the
one suspect who remained within the jurisdiction had voluntarily
taken a CVSA and passed. She was the former employee who had charged
me with sexual harassment. APD was sure that she had not been
involved in the burglary. I could accept that because the prime
suspect had held a huge grudge against her too. He set us both
up...for a while.
On that trip I told the detective that we were planning (pending
legal research) on suing the Daily Tidings, its reporter Bob Plain
and its editor Scot Bolsinger. Now that it was clear that I was
innocent and that Plain had apparently had some kind of relationship
with my former employee, the paper had reason to be worried.
Just a few days after I told APD this, Bob Plain suddenly left the
Tidings for "greener pastures". I can only speculate that it was more
than coincidence. But I sure do hope so. The man's a true discredit
to journalism whose only care is what he can get away with printing
and not about the truth. Sometimes it's easy to find small people in
small towns and Plain was not the only one I found.
On my last trip to Ashland in February of this year I learned that
Bolsinger had been arrested for having sex with a minor and that a
good part of Ashland was planning on suing him for looting several
business that he had been given (or purchased) equity in. He was
under active investigation by the police.
As for the female employee who waited for five months after my
departure to file a sexual harassment claim with the state of Oregon
(when she and many others thought I was going to die), I am still
awaiting my day in court. She has made so many conflicting statements
that we'll crush her if we ever get to a hearing. We can show her
intent to blackmail based on a document she wrote the day I fired her
that will match nicely with the $35,000 she asked for in damages. I
refused to pay a penny and have demanded a hearing. That was last
November and we have yet to hear anything back. I doubt we ever will.
My third and last trip to Ashland was different in that it was a
round-trip ticket from LAX to Medford, Oregon and not from JFK. By
late December it had become clear that Jenna Orkin needed to stay in
New York for personal reasons. She had not warmed to Oregon after
seeing Ashland, Eugene and Portland with me. She was a New Yorker
through and through. I, on the other hand, couldn't wait to get out
of New York City. It was a purgatory that had saved my life but it
was alien, a song out of key and tempo with the rest of my life. More
importantly I had come to a great realization.
I am now 57 years old. I will not survive the crash and transition
phase of Peak Oil. I will not see whatever kind of sustainable
civilization might emerge from the wreckage of my species' gross
mismanagement of the planet and itself. I needed to go home; to a
place where I knew the streets and had patrolled them as a cop; where
I had had my first girlfriend and gone to college; where I knew both
the climate and the people; and where I had friends - many, many
friends. Once that was clear, I moved to LA, rented an amazing house,
bought a car and started from scratch faster than East and West
Germany reunited at the end of the Cold War. I have eighteen new
I started writing a novel and became involved in a feature film
But I still had to finish old business.
On my last trip to Ashland it was made clear to me that the Ashland
Police Department is a small police department, with a tiny cadre and
limited budget. They cannot afford to send detectives to L.A. on a
weak, eighteen-month old, low-level felony. They admitted that they
had made errors in the initial investigation. The detective
respectfully, and I believe genuinely, said, "You have a good life
now. Enjoy it. You can pour a lot more money in but you'll be missing
the good life you already have. It's a shame that these stories got
printed but you and I know that once the damage is done nothing ever
makes it right. Not even if we could make an arrest."
I had already formulated these thoughts before I went up there for
the last time. Being back in L.A., near the beach, was already taking
years off of those that had been added by the load I carried for so
long. Already waiting for me at home was the life I hoped to have
after I had secured justice.
That justice has already been rendered. For his entire life, the man
who smashed my computers will know that this was the "biggest" thing
he ever did. That's a shame because he could have been and done much
Before I end this, I should mention also that I, using inheritance
money, did finally get to the bottom of my longstanding dispute with
my publisher, New Society (link to letter), over royalties. Read that
story on the website and you'll understand how frustrating life has
The CIA's world wide propaganda machine was once referred to by
Deputy Director Frank Wisner as "The Mighty Wurlitzer". In the 21st
Century it is no longer just a media operation and it no longer
belongs exclusively to the Agency. Things have evolved, as they tend
to do. I don't know all the details of how they got me but they got
me. COINTELPRO is and was always a program designed to be out of
sight and not deciphered. Yet much of it has been and many heroes
before I came along have taught us how it works.
I have evolved too and I can't help but remember something I said in
maybe my last twenty-five lectures and in too many private
conversations in twelve countries. "I believe that the Universe is
saying to the human race - as Peak Oil and Global Warming threaten
all life on the planet - you must either evolve or perish. Grow up or
die." Just recently I wrote to Matthew Simmons, "You know, the worse
things get, the calmer I become."
The first thing I did when I got back from Ashland was find a "dawg"
to rescue. His name is "Rags" because he had mange and that's what it
looked like he was wearing. I have been nursing him back to health
and I swear that he is the happiest and best pooch that God ever
Don't ask me to speak, to lecture, or to investigate. I will not.
Don't send me your questions. I will not come. I will not answer.
I left you a map. Read it.
If you absolutely need to contact me then reach out to my agent and
dear friend Ken Levine in Sherman Oaks. His email is ken@...
Thank you God for everything You have given me. Thank you for
everything You have taken away. And thank you for everything You have
left me. As for me and Rags, we'll be somewhere in the wilderness
doing our thing, our tails wagging mightily and defiantly until the