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Author: Subject: The campaign ads will be easy to write

A Peach Supreme





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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 06:05 AM

February 22, 2012
Aren't High Gas Prices What Democrats Want?
By David Harsanyi

Gas prices are spiking. That's great news, right? We have to wean ourselves off the stuff. At least that's what we've been hearing for years. Oil is dirty. We import it from nations that hate our guts (like Canada!). And moreover, we're running out. Oil is "finite." Finite much in the way water is finite.

So why aren't Democrats making the case that the spike in prices is a good thing? Isn't this basically our energy policy these days? How we "win the future"? If high energy prices were to damage President Barack Obama's re-election prospects, it would be ironic, considering the left has been telling us to set aside our "dependency" -- or, as our most recent Republican president put it, "addiction" -- for a long time.

If Democrats had their way, after all, we would be enjoying the economic results of cap-and-trade policy these days -- a program designed to increase the cost of energy by creating false demand in a fabricated market. As the theory goes, if you inflate the price of fossil fuels, the barbarians might finally start putting thought into how peat moss might be able to power a toaster.

In 2008, Steven Chu, Obama's (and, sadly, our own) future secretary of energy (sic) lamented, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." The president, when asked whether he thought $4-a-gallon gas prices were good for the American economy, said, "I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment."

How gradual? Like, what, four years? Or is it eight?

Part of "figuring it out" surely had something to do with the recent decision by Obama to nix the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline project that would have pumped 700,000 barrels of oil per day into the United States. More oil just means more excessive, immoral, ugly energy use.

Well, get used to it. You can't take three steps without stepping over some potential 10-billion barrel reserve of dead organisms.

According to the Institute for Energy Research, there is enough natural gas in the U.S. to meet electricity demand for 575 years at current fuel demand, enough to fuel homes heated by natural gas for 857 years and more gas in the U.S. than there is in Russia, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and some place called Turkmenistan combined. Oil? The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the United States could soon overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's top oil producer. There are tens of billions of easily accessible barrels of offshore oil here at home -- and much more oil around the world.

Yes, gas prices have spiked an average of 14 cents a gallon in the past month and about 30 cents a gallon since last November, according to AAA. Oil prices jumped to a nine-month high -- more than $105 a barrel -- after the Iranians shut down their own energy exports to Britain and France so they could start a much-needed nuclear program, which is, no doubt, for wholly peaceful purposes.

Given the fundability of commodities and the track record of civilization in the Middle East, we'll likely always have to deal with occasionally painful fluctuations in the price of energy, regardless of what we do at home -- drilling and new pipelines included. Still, fluctuations have a lot better track record than price controls.

Subsidizing quixotic green companies or creating carbon credits won't stop the rules of basic economics. If the gas crunch starts hitting the economy, it's doubtless that we will get an earful of populist hand-wringing and that we'll hear the administration once again blame wealthy speculators and nasty oil companies.

Yet in the end, high gas prices are part of the plan. This is what the administration wants.

H/T RCP

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 09:34 AM
Now they're saying Obama didn't kill the Keystone pipeline project.

It was all the GOP's fault. A fresh new approach.

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 10:26 AM
quote:
Yet in the end, high gas prices are part of the plan. This is what the administration wants.


So, when people were paying over $5 a gallon in some parts of the country in 2008, what did that administration want?

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 10:56 AM
As much as I loathed Bush 2 the liar and incompetent ignoramus, I never blamed him for high gas prices. There are just too many variables in the international market and big oil corporate back room debauchery to lay the blame on any president, there are just too many things completely out of any presidents control.

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 10:59 AM
quote:
As much as I loathed Bush 2 the liar and incompetent ignoramus, I never blamed him for high gas prices. There are just too many variables in the international market and big oil corporate back room debauchery to lay the blame on any president, there are just too many things completely out of any presidents control.


Hurricanes, and a plague of boils on the asses of the entire Bush Cabinet. If I recall, Hurricane Katrina caused a rather significant spike in prices.

But, that was Bush's fault, also.

And, I am certainly no cheerleader for W.

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 11:05 AM
Funny, I remember people having issues with the Bush response to Katrina rather than blaming him for the occurrence of a hurricane.

Everyone remembers things differently, I suppose.

Incidentally, Katrina was in 2005. The big spikes came after that, especially 2008.

http://www.davemanuel.com/charts2/gas_prices_1949-2009.html

[Edited on 2/22/2012 by Bhawk]

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 11:23 AM
quote:
Yet in the end, high gas prices are part of the plan. This is what the administration wants
Wait til they unveil their soylent green project...

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 11:57 AM

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 11:57 AM
Bush's failed policies are the reason gas prices are so high.
 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 12:02 PM
If a previous President had nothing to do with spikes in the past, why does the current President bear all of the current blame?

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 12:22 PM
It was rather interesting to hear Newt on the CBS evening news claiming how when he was speaker a gallon of gasoline was a buck and some change and in 2008 gas was $1.80 a gallon and now Obama's the reason it's now at nearly $4 a gallon. Because you know, the Speaker of the House and the President, apparently, have such control over the price of gasoline. Unfortunately some idiot Americans will believe him.
 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 12:27 PM
I posted this before:


Is Oil Fueling the Rise in Political Partisanship?

As can be seen in our study of the frequency spectrum for oil, volatility in oil prices is tuned to a repeating cycle in which spikes pop up every 32.3 months (or 2.7 years).

Is Oil Fueling the Rise in Political Partisanship? By TOM THERRAMUS for OIL-PRICE.NET, 2011/11/21

In 2009 I published a chart in an article at Oil-Price.net that showed volatility in the price of oil had risen and fallen in a series of seven spikes during the prior decade. The turbulent year of 2008, when oil jumped to over $140 a barrel, was part of this series. But what was unexpected was just how early in the 2000s the signature of spiking volatility in oil price had gotten under way.

Further digging led to other surprises. It was found that each of the seven spikes in oil price volatility had been followed by knock-on impacts in the stock market, the price of gold and other economic indicators. Moreover, the relationship was not just confined to the 2000s. In another chart (Figure 1) it was shown that oil volatility spikes had closely preceded every US recession and market crash of the last 50 years.

historical oil price volatility
Figure 1 - Historical Oil Price Volatility



Indeed, even the mysterious 1987 "Black Monday" crash, the largest one-day decline in stock market history, appeared to fall in line with the pattern. Charting historical data, it stood out like a "sore thumb" that "Black Monday" had occurred in the wake of a price shock sparked by a collapse of the OPEC cartel in 1986.

The striking coupling between whipsaw changes in oil price and economic turbulence left me wondering about whether this relationship had broader implications. In particular, I was curious as to whether the volatility signature for oil price that had emerged over the 2000s might also be influencing the moods and preferences of American voters.

The US is arguably the most fossil fuel-dependent nation on earth. It is also widely acknowledged that the degree of electoral volatility and political partisanship has increased in the United States in recent years. Could discontent sparked by an uptick in volatility in oil prices be one reason behind why American politics of late seems to have gotten so much nastier ?

To go after this question three US political polls were looked at in relation to volatility in the price of oil between December 1999 and July 2010. These polls were: 1) Presidential approval ratings 2) Congressional approval ratings and 3) Direction-of-the-Country in which potential voters are asked whether they feel that the country is on the "right track" or the "wrong track".

The data for these polls are archived at RealClearPolitics.com and PollingReport.com. The rationale, methods and approach taken are laid out in detail in a wiki that was started in November 2010. Figure 2 summarizes the first of the findings illustrated from the wiki. Here, volatility in oil price between 2000 and 2010 is lined up against volatility in polling data on Presidential popularity.

presidential approval ratings
Figure 2 - Presidential Approval Ratings



From Figure 2 it can be seen that between 2000 and 2004 there was not too much going on between oil and Presidential popularity. But, at the start of the second term of the Bush Presidency something changes. A relationship similar to that observed between oil and the economic indicators begins to emerge. From 2004 onwards, wobbles in Presidential popularity consistently tend to pop up a month or so down the road from each oil spike.

This pattern of oil bumps followed by Presidential wobbles seems to pay little heed to who is in the White house. It starts with President Bush and continues pretty much unchanged through the Obama Presidency. I should mention that the same relationship holds with the other two polls. If anything, swings in "Congressional approval" and "Direction of the country" polls seem even more impacted by volatility in oil price than Presidential polls.

Eyeballing the two charts on Figure 2 is one way that relationships between the cycles of volatility shown can be assessed. However, there is a type of helpful math called Fourier transform that is able to look for embedded rhythms in such data objectively and determine if these rhythms are related to each other or not.

Music provides an example of how Fourier transform works. Middle C on a tuned piano is a single note that results from sound waves vibrating our ear drums 523 times a second. If these sound waves are recorded onto a computer and a Fourier transformation applied to them, the resulting graph or frequency spectrum of the note is a sharp peak at the vibrating frequency of middle C i.e., 523 cycles per second.

When Fourier transform was used to search for rhythms hidden in oil volatility and swings in polling data over the 64-month time frame between December 1999 and March 2005, no simple relationship between oil market instability and US political polls could be picked out. The frequency spectrums during the first five or so years of the 2000s were as complicated as Rachmaninoff piano chords.

During the 64-months from April 2005 to July 2010 the story got simpler and a lot more interesting. As can be seen on Figure 3, the frequency spectrums for Oil, Presidential approval and "Direction-of-the-Country" collapsed to a single main peak during this approximately 5-year time window. Specifically, Fourier transform showed that volatility in oil price, Presidential approval and Direction-of-the-Country were tuned to the same "note" or repeating cycle, in which spikes popped-up every 32.3 months.

Swings in Presidential Approval and Direction-of-the-Country Polls are In-Tune with the Oil Volatility Cycle
Figure 3 - Swings in Presidential Approval and Direction-of-the-Country Polls are In-Tune with the Oil Volatility Cycle



In summary, Fourier tells us that between 1999 and 2010 oil and politics went from showing no relationship to having an extremely strong one.

It should be emphasized that this analysis is backwards looking. Its conclusions are based on a 128-month stretch that began from December 1999. It is also cautioned that the pattern may not be stable going forward. The 32.3 month period identified from the retrospective Fourier analysis is not predictive, as oil markets are... well... volatile.

This being said, the first oil price spike of the new decade topped out in April 2011, exactly 32 months after oil reached its all time high in July 2008. Also notable is that shortly thereafter in September 2011 President Obama's approval rating fell to the lowest level of his Presidency.

Correlation is not causation and all that - but these data do give one pause. It also leads to the question of what is causing the spikes in oil price volatility? The conventional wisdom is that this is yet another dismal manifestation of the Wall Street casino. The assumption is that greedy commodity traders are the villains at the root of market volatility. But there is another explanation - albeit a more troubling one.

According to the US Department of Energy, the global rate of oil production has not risen appreciably since 2005. Production has remained flat for about the last five to six years. There is no danger that we are going to run out of oil soon. In fact, we have never been more awash in the black stuff. This being said, all evidence suggests that we may be at or approaching a geoplanetary limit to oil supply, even though demand continues to grow.

The plateau in global oil production may continue for years before a decline sets in. However, the teetering balance between flat supply and rising demand is what some experts believe to be the more likely source of the whipsaw changeability in oil price that is shown over the time period from 2000 to 2010 in Figures 1 and 2.

In sum, the jagged pattern of volatility in oil price that is now underway could be a process that is as automatic as a heart beat. This rhythmic pattern may be a natural by-product of our insatiable thirst for oil in a finite world, and something over which we may ultimately have limited control.

The prospect that no amount of extra drilling is going damp down spiking oil prices is a message that I do not expect to hear from any politician running for office in the coming Presidential election. All the same, here is a thought that should get the rapt attention of every pol - A "rinse and repeat" cycle in oil price volatility could have become a key determinant of whether you will win your election or not!

For the rest of us, the impact of cycling volatility in oil price on our economy, partisan politics and social fabric is likely to grow in seriousness. Expressions of discontent including the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, or even the inability of GOP conservatives to settle on a Presidential champion may be manifestations of this "rinse and repeat" cycle. Adapting to the increasing uncertainty and political unrest wrought by recurring jolts in oil price volatility may be one of larger challenges that we face in coming years.

Acknowledgments: Mike the Mechanic is thanked for his help with the Fourier transformation analysis.

http://www.oil-price.net/en/articles/is-oil-fueling-rise-in-political-parti sanship.php

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 12:30 PM
well, last time gas was 4 dollars the economy was able to absorb the shock. Not so this time in this miserable economy. With all the belt tightening going on people willl spend for gas, but spend less on other items. THe economy will continue to sputter. More places will go out of business. So lousy economy along with high gasoline prices means the GOP has a shot to take the Presidency.

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 12:35 PM
quote:
Bush 2....I never blamed him for high gas prices. There are just too many variables in the international market and big oil corporate back room debauchery to lay the blame on any president, there are just too many things completely out of any presidents control.


I don't remember hearing this from ONE person on the Left in 2008. Not one time. It was all about greed and Bush's rich oil buddies.

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 12:40 PM
quote:
quote:
Bush 2....I never blamed him for high gas prices. There are just too many variables in the international market and big oil corporate back room debauchery to lay the blame on any president, there are just too many things completely out of any presidents control.


I don't remember hearing this from ONE person on the Left in 2008. Not one time. It was all about greed and Bush's rich oil buddies.


Really? No one EVER mentioned a thing about speculators?

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 12:52 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
Bush 2....I never blamed him for high gas prices. There are just too many variables in the international market and big oil corporate back room debauchery to lay the blame on any president, there are just too many things completely out of any presidents control.


I don't remember hearing this from ONE person on the Left in 2008. Not one time. It was all about greed and Bush's rich oil buddies.


Really? No one EVER mentioned a thing about speculators?



Yeah sure. I remember the constant cries from the Left, "Don't blame Bush, it's the speculators!"

Please.

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 12:58 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
Bush 2....I never blamed him for high gas prices. There are just too many variables in the international market and big oil corporate back room debauchery to lay the blame on any president, there are just too many things completely out of any presidents control.


I don't remember hearing this from ONE person on the Left in 2008. Not one time. It was all about greed and Bush's rich oil buddies.


Really? No one EVER mentioned a thing about speculators?



Yeah sure. I remember the constant cries from the Left, "Don't blame Bush, it's the speculators!"

Please.


Oh, I see. You're dealing in absolutes. My fault.

So in your world, the Left was crying Bush and his rich oil buddies. The Right was crying the
Left controlled Congress.

However, the ones who spoke of Wall Street and the speculators fall ... where exactly?

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 01:02 PM
We're probably also supposed to believe that McCain wouldn't be getting blamed now. Listening to how the GOP is in bed with Big Oil and so forth.
 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 01:08 PM
well, i posted an article,

I tried

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 01:24 PM
quote:
Now they're saying Obama didn't kill the Keystone pipeline project.

It was all the GOP's fault. A fresh new approach.



It is their fault!!!! If they really wanted this project to happen why the hell didn't they get INDEPENDENT environmental studies done????? If they did that and the studies came back that it wouldn't effect the environment or people's drinking water it would be being built as we speak.

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 01:33 PM
quote:
We're probably also supposed to believe that McCain wouldn't be getting blamed now. Listening to how the GOP is in bed with Big Oil and so forth.


Both sides are in bed with big oil, but that doesn't mean the president, whoever he/she is, has much control over the actual price of gasoline at any given time. It's not that simple and is much more complicated than that. And yeah, some ignorant people will believe it's within the president's, again, whoever that may be, control to affect the price of oil at any given time. Smarter more informed people know otherwise. Good article above, lonomon, thanks for sharing it.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 01:40 PM
I just went back and looked over a few threads from 2008. Maybe 1% of the sentiment blamed the high gas prices on President Bush. I for one, never did and never will blame high gas prices on a President.

I did find something interesting, though.

quote:
Bhawk was right. There are many reasons for high oil prices. -alloak41, 5/1/2008


http://www.allmanbrothersband.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=XForum&am p;file=viewthread&tid=74554#pid1714300

I wonder if I'm considered a part of the Left?

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 01:44 PM
quote:
As much as I loathed Bush 2 the liar and incompetent ignoramus, I never blamed him for high gas prices. There are just too many variables in the international market and big oil corporate back room debauchery to lay the blame on any president, there are just too many things completely out of any presidents control.


I was reading some information on a site about oil prices and it seems some of the latest fluctuations are occuring because of the threat Israel may attack Iran. I agree....too many variables out of the control of the president.

 

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  posted on 2/22/2012 at 10:37 PM
This an interesting 4 minutes imo. I saw this about a month ago on Fareed's GPS show that is on cnn every Sunday. He has a short segment called What In The World?


Fareed Zakaria: Why oil prices will stay high

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewKqYMRqutE



"The next time you pay $3.50 dollars for a gallon of gas, stop and think about a basic rule of economics. When demand is low and supply is strong, prices should fall. Right?

Now apply that to oil. People drive less in the winter. The American economy is slow. The Euro Zone has stalled. China and India are slowing down. So demand for oil worldwide is low. So why is oil trading high at $113 a barrel, more than twice the price it was trading at five years ago when the global economy was booming? What in the world is going on?

There's a school of thought that suggests the global economy is doing better than we think. China and the U.S. are proving resilient to Europe's problems and so traders are expecting renewed demand in the world's two top economies. But another school of thought argues we're in the midst of a bubble. Speculators have been driving up the price of oil and eventually it will crash.

Now I think that the economic fundamentals really can't justify oil prices at their current levels. The real driver of high oil is not the stuff you find in the business section of the newspaper - the demand for oil in India and China. It's on the front page: Global politics.

You see, traders worry about risk. And the biggest risk to oil supplies is the threat of war in the Persian Gulf. Meanwhile, in Nigeria mass protests are raising worries about the supply of fuel from there. Venezuela is in a slow-motion collapse because of Hugo Chavez's mismanagement. There have also been protests in Russia, the world's top oil producer. And remember the fallout of the Arab Spring - Libya's oil production in 2011 was severely curtailed. Iraq continues to disappoint with its oil output and its recent political tensions certainly haven't made things any better.

So a mix of war rhetoric and local troubles in key oil states are factors driving up the price of crude. And that translates to higher prices at the pump. Now that logic suggests that prices will fall when the news calms down.

But perhaps not. Perhaps oil producers want these sky high prices. Usually the major oil producers understand that keeping prices too high in the short term means people start finding alternatives to oil. They start driving more efficiently; they start looking for alternate energies. But this time, oil states face crucial challenges. Look closer at the Arab Spring. The only oil rich country that has been forced into regime change is Libya. Why? The Gulf states lavish subsidies and salary increases on their citizens. They've upped spending to record levels to suppress any popular discontent.

I saw some striking numbers this week: Look at the "break-even" costs for the world's top oil producers. That is the minimum price at which these countries need to sell oil so that they can balance their budgets.

Russia now needs oil at $110 a barrel to manage its finances. For Iraq, the number is $100. Even Saudi Arabia now needs oil to trade around $80 a barrel just to balance its budgets. The numbers are also high for Algeria, Qatar, and Oman. Only a decade ago Saudi Arabia was able to balance its budget with oil prices averaging around $25 a barrel.

So now it is in these countries' interest to keep oil prices high, which they do by curtailing supply in one way or the other. This is perhaps the most lasting impact of the year of global protest: High oil prices.

So, the bottom line is an oil crash seems unlikely. Even though the engines of global growth are sputtering, be prepared for a period of expensive commutes. Maybe it's time to trade in your Escalade for a Prius."

 

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  posted on 2/23/2012 at 09:16 AM
And buy a pellet or wood stove and/or a natural gas furnace (for those lucky enough to have access to NG).
 
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