American Elephants


Obama’s Got the Economy Running on Empty by The Elephant's Child

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was on Fox News Sunday, and remarked” Let’s give the president credit for one domestic policy that works. He wanted higher gas prices and he got them.”

Gas prices are on the rise and nobody is happy about it.  President Obama hastened to explain that it wasn’t his fault, there were no quick fixes, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices, there is no silver bullet that will bring down gas prices or reduce our dependence on foreign oil overnight — what we can do is get our priorities straight, and make a sustained, serious effort to tackle this problem — and then he suggested — algae.

Leftist loon, Edward Markey (D-MA) promptly suggested opening the spigots of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. I think it was just last week that he sponsored a bill to cut funding for our nuclear arsenal by $100 billion, which would result in unilateral disarmament. He’s also a true believer in global warming, and supports every effort to defend ourselves from the horrors of CO2. But I wander astray. Why don’t these people understand “strategic?” Is it too big a word? The reserve is not there to be used every time people get upset about gas prices.

President Obama’s story on gas prices is priceless: 1) Gasoline prices are beyond his control, 2) but  oil and gas production is rising in America due to his energy policies, 3) higher prices are another reason to raise taxes on oil and gas drillers, and 4) investing in algae will be just the brilliant new idea we need. Oh, and since people are so angry about the Keystone XL pipeline, he’ll let them build the Southern part, from Cushing, Oklahoma to next-door Texas. An attempt to pacify the perturbed, that accomplishes nothing much.

Oil prices are futures prices and depend on the outlook for the future price of oil. When the Middle East is afire, Iran is threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz, Syria is in chaos, and the world is trying to cut off Iran’s sales of oil to deter them from making a bomb, it gets a little dicey. On the other hand, when Reagan cancelled a moratorium and Bush cancelled a moratorium the price of oil immediately dropped. Actually, if President Obama simply guaranteed …nevermind. He doesn’t understand the laws of supply and demand, and what he offers with one hand, he taxes with the other.

Today’s price is $3.89.  I don’t know if that is with or without state taxes. The average state tax is 48.8¢ per gallon. New York is the highest at 67.4¢ followed closely by Connecticut, California, Hawaii and Michigan. The lowest are Alaska 26.4¢ and Wyoming at 32.4¢. But for Obama to claim he has nothing to do with gas prices ignores history:

  • In 2008, Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) refused to vote for any new offshore drilling.  In a conversation with minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Salazar objected to allowing any drilling on America’s outer continental shelf—even if gas prices reached $10 a gallon.  Obama named him Secretary of the Interior.
  • In 2008, Steven Chu, head of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories at U. of California Berkeley, told the Wall Street Journal that “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” he also said “We have lots of fossil fuel; that’s really both good and bad news.  We won’t run out of energy, but there’s enough carbon in the ground to really cook us.” Obama named him Secretary of Energy.
  • During the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama said “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” And “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.  It’s just that it will bankrupt them.” He was elected president.

Energy production is up, but because of drilling on state and private lands, and offshore on permits granted by previous administrations. On the other hand, when oil prices ramp up, it brings into production more costly resources around the world, increasing the world supply which drives down the price. It also lets the world become less dependent on cheap Mideast oil.

At today’s price, gasoline has reached  a price that in real inflation-adjusted terms it has reached only a few times in history. It fluctuates with global events. We cannot put Obama’s solar and clean wind energy in our gas tanks, biofuel is a flop, switchgrass never got off the ground, ethanol is an expensive flop but still required, and algae is years away from becoming a fuel and unlikely to boot. Here in the Seattle area, gas is up by 44¢ this month.

(The picture is from I Own the World. They suggest carrying a pack of post-it’s and a marker with you to leave your small protest at the pump)



Gloom, Doom, and Pessimism — in Prodigious Amounts. by The Elephant's Child

Headline at Business Insider: “Americans Are Incredibly Pessimistic About the Future of  The Country.” It refers to a Politico poll that asks “Do you believe that the next generation will be better off economically than the current generation.?” The answer was No/strongly 49%, Yes/strongly 20%. No information on the sample.

Headline from Wyoming’s  Star-Tribune: “Wyoming House advances doomsday bill. CHEYENNE— State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.”

House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.

The task force would look at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.

Adjacent headlines on the Drudge Report this morning:

— Credit Card Debt Nears Toxic Levels
— Oil Price rise causes specter of global recession
— U.S. Water bills to Triple
— 3 Doomsaying experts who foresee economies devastation ahead

Many reports of gun sales up dramatically. Ads for emergency food for long-time storage— survivalist food.

Not a cheerful, optimistic start for a Monday. People are not confident, they are worried. Gas prices are up, and more increase ahead. President Obama is threatening massive tax increases.

Nevertheless, the sun is shining, there’s blue sky for the first time in days. There’s a Townsend’s Warbler with his flash of bright yellow at the bird-feeder, and a varied thrush cleaning up the spilled seed. Long term, I’m an optimist. Short term — not so much.



Can You Remember When You Were in the Fourth Grade? by The Elephant's Child
February 27, 2012, 6:52 am
Filed under: Environment, History, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

When you were in fourth grade, did you love dinosaurs?  Jack Horner, Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies and Regent’s Professor of Paleontology at Montana State University in Bozeman illustrates in this talk for TED how scientists got it all wrong to begin with, and how they got it straightened out.

Jack has published more than 170 professional papers, 9 popular books, and more than 100 popular articles. His book Digging Dinosaurs was described by New Scientist Magazine as one of the 250 most important science books of the 20th Century. Jack also directs the largest dinosaur field research program in the world. He was the technical advisor for Steven Spielberg on all of the Jurassic Park movies, and has worked with National Geographic, and The Discovery Channel on numerous dinosaur specials.

Try to feel like a fourth grader again and enjoy this video.  Great fun.




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