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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hail to the chief

Comments (42)

God, I listened to his press conference or whatever it was this morning on the way into work. I about cried.

I guess I had it coming though. I voted for him in 2000. I thought I'd never say it, but I wish we had Al in there.

I'd laugh a lot harder if the risk of George W. invading Iran wasn't such a real possibility. The guy is nuts.

"I voted for him in 2000."
Rest easy. He didn't win.

He still looks like Alfred E Newman from MAD magazine.

Yes... He didn't win.

It should be "Hail to the Thief"...not to the "Chief",

I was at the Gym and got stuck facing a TV that had CSPAN on, 3 Republican reps we're doing one of those talk to the empty house dog and pony shows. They were going on and on about how the evil Democrats have blocked all their attempts to have an energy policy, blah blah blah.

I just kept wondering which party was it that had control of the House, Senate and White House the last 5 years again? One guy had a chart showing that 176! Democrats voted against their energy bill. I'm not a mathmatician or anything but last time I checked 176 votes against something in the House can't stop much of anything.

Someone should introduce him to the phrase "lame duck presidency." George, if you can't do anything right, don't do anything at all.

He still looks like Alfred E Newman

He is Alfred E. Newman, come to life. With his finger on the button. Scares the heck out of me.

BTW, just got back from the Tram Awards. Bill really can play those guitars. Great music in a great setting...and I'm glad Carl's still talking to me despite my collecting his Transportation System Development Charges that, though now reduced, are still pretty outrageous. I told him a long time ago the city should have given him an award for what he'd done for the neighborhood...glad he's got Bill's very impressive Tram Award Trophy.

I loved his comment the other day: "There's lots of infrastructures we got to get built."


These latest Bush comments carefully step around the word "conservation." It is one of those lefty ideas that the neocons loath.

I was watching some talking head type this morning on one of the cable nets -- MSNBC I think, no idea of who the talking head (TH) was.

Anyway, the TH was reviewing gas prices and blathering about the US average price for unleaded, and comparing that price to prices, expressed in dollars per gallon, in Western Europe and Japan, and concluded we had it good. The TH did admit that US prices seemed low compared to Western Europe and Japan because US fuel taxes were low.

This all got me to thinking that since US gas taxes have NOT INCREASED since January 1 2006, the pump price run ups for unleaded are in theory only a function of crude prices, refining and transportation costs, plus, of course profits.

Round numbers, pump prices appear to be up about 33% in 4 months.

Whats going on with pump prices in Western Europe and Japan? Are they up similar percentage levels?

Both crude and refined unleaded being world wide commodities, the percentage price rise for a refined delivered gallon should be uniform or very very close to uniform after taxes are backed out in countries where the government does not control distribution and keep pump prices artificially low, selling at a less than cost basids (E.G. Venezuela, PRC, Saudi Arabia, etc.)

If you back out the taxes and look solely at the prices for the delivered refined commodity per gallon (the conversion from liters to gallons, or from Imperial Gallons to gallons in the case of the UK is a trivia xerise) in the US and in Western Europe or Japan, expressed in US$, is the PERCENTAGE INCREASE in the cost of the delivered refined gallon of the commodity the same?

It should be.

If its not, then, Exxon, you got some major 'splaining to do.

I wish I had the data to do the calculations. I think I'm going to look into this as well as my limited skills will let me.

With Ron Weyden again making noises about gas prices, its something his staff might want to look at.

Jack, you know any real smart economist types with access to data?

Worst. President. EVER.

Hey Republicans and others asleep at the wheel in 2000 and 2004... history will not be kind to you and your Rat King. There are lots of us who called it six years ago... you didn't pay attention, and now look what we have. I think a "You were right" is in order...

On the bright side for us Dems, you gave us a Nixonian gift. Bush's 'taint' will be all over your corrupt party for years to come.

TK said taint. Huh huh.

Cool it, Beavis.

"If you back out the taxes and look solely at the prices for the delivered refined commodity per gallon (the conversion from liters to gallons, or from Imperial Gallons to gallons in the case of the UK is a trivia xerise) in the US and in Western Europe or Japan, expressed in US$, is the PERCENTAGE INCREASE in the cost of the delivered refined gallon of the commodity the same?

It should be.

If its not, then, Exxon, you got some major 'splaining to do."

Wouldn't it be a better world if even part of this were even partly true? It would mean, among other things: (a) market prices are cost-based, rather than demand-driven, and/or (b) demand for gasoline was not wholly out of control in this country.

TK, you were wrong then and you're wrong now. I'm sure gas prices would be much lower under "President Gore" and the Kyoto Treaty.


Hey BobW-

Perhaps the measure of a president shouldn't be whether he gets you cheap gas. (do I even need to point that out??)

Maybe you got the inside 'joke' when Bush said we were invading Iraq because of WMD. Maybe, with a wink and a nod, you understood this was really about oil. I've got an idea: go to a Vets hospital and tell that to the kids with no legs. They'll love ya for it.

In the meantime, keep believing ol' Bushie is looking out for you... what with all that corporate welfare Big Oil is receiving, at a time of RECORD PROFITS. Those are OUR taxes needlessly padding THEIR wallets. Or maybe you own lots of ExxonMobil stock and this is exactly what you want.


The point isn't that gas prices would be lower. The point is a Gore admin would have started working on an actual energy policy in 2000, not be pretending to take diminishing oil supplies seriously now.

Gas prices are going to continue going up. It would be a lot easier to take if we had been raising CAFE standards for the last several years. It would be easier to take if we had something like a Manhatten Project for alternative energy sources that had been underway for several years, etc.

Removing environmental protections and drilling the few months supply of Oil in ANWR is hardly a serious energy policy, no matter how often Bush says Ethanol in speeches.

Basically we have had 5 years of this:

The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one . . . The President also believes that the American people's use of energy is a reflection of the strength of our economy, of the way of life that the American people have come to enjoy.

Ari Fleischer
Press briefing
May 7, 2001

What would be really nice is if we had had a President in oh say '79 who recognized the importance of energy conservation and started us down that road...Oh yeah, we did. Of course one of the first things Reagan did when he came into office was remove the solar panels from the White House. Really just symbolic on both counts (installing and removing them) but a pretty apt metaphor all the same.

Also... should our collective "energy policy" be dictated by oil and energy corporations? They have a vested interest in keeping those dials on gas pumps and electric meters spinning. Sure, they'll advise Cheney to reign in consumption... when Texas, er, Hell freezes over.

I guess GWB is capable of time travel, TK. I mean, how else would Bill Clinton think Iraq had WMD? Obviously, Bush somehow convinced WJC into "attack(ing) Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs..." in 1998.

Oh and don't forget Madeline Albright, Sandy Berger, Barbara Boxer, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton .. they all were bamboozled by Bush, as well.

I would think someone capable of such profane manipulation of time and space should command your respect, TK.

Chris S-

We invaded Iraq in 2003, correct? I'm still waiting to see the evidence (no, not that bullsh*t Colin Powell had to present to the UN). Clinton used tactical strikes rather than a Pottery Barn "you break it you buy it" invasion. Maybe, just maybe, those tactical strikes did their job.

And if, magically, Bush and company were to present such evidence tomorrow in a (well-timed) discovery, it shouldn't change a thing. Iraq was a sovern country and never attacked us. Is is OK for us to have WMD and disallow any others to arm themselves, just because we don't have diplomatic ties?

If you honestly think it was really about WMD, then you've swallowed the worm, hook, line and sinker. I suppose you also believe it was because we needed to get rid of a dictator too. Well, there are plenty of despots in the world, so we've got a big job ahead of us. Which country (without oil) do you propose we attack next?

Sorry... I meant to address my last post to Chris M, not Chris S.

Wait TK, just how was attacking Iraq about oil, again?

Iraq owns their oil, not the U.S. Just how are we, or better yet oil companies, profiting from this war? Furthermore, oil companies are pretty much unilaterally hated in the U.S. right now. Just how is jacking up gas prices and perpetuating the war in Iraq helping GWB and oil companies?

And come up with something more compelling than "Bush's Presidential campaign was financed by big oil."

I'm also waiting for your explanation on how Bush manipulated Clinton into thinking Iraq had WMD. Much less convince congress of same.

Chris M- "Just how are we, or better yet oil companies, profiting from this war?"

Are you that naive? Saudi Arabia 'owns' their oil, but you don't think Big Oil has a vested interest in it? The industry is multi-tiered and product changes hands several times before it gets into your tank. Invading Iraq let us insert our corporate interests into their economy, not just with oil, but at nearly every turn. The invasion was about opening up a market, and oil is merely the large cornerstone of that plan. (see Neocon manefesto).

Oil companies are hated, yes. But they know they've got us by the cajones, so it doesn't matter if they keep their margins fat. We're witnessing the seasonal rise in prices in anticipation for the summer... but they've tried to manage our expectations. Prices take one step back in winter to appease us, then they take two steps forward in the summer. And so it goes.

Bush tried to look like he's the good guy by taking some symbolic gestures yesterday, and suppliers were willing to ratchet back the price slightly to help his charade. Sure enough, the media stated he's doing something about it. Did you buy it? Judging by the response today, anyone with half a brain saw right through it.

As for the Clinton strikes on Iraq, I think I answered your question. If Clinton throught there was WMD, he certainly did something about it with the tactical strikes. As I stated, Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, not 1998. Since he hasn't been able to materialize any legitimate proof, the onus is on HIM. Get f-ing real.

TK, don't look now, but black helicopters are circling your bunker.

I guess the oil companies were unable to 'get' to George HW Bush before Gulf War 1. Christ, if they were successful, we'd be paying $10.00 a gallon today and their profits would have been even fatter. Must've been the wrong time.

Clinton -knew- there were WMD in Iraq, as did every other Democrat during his tenure (you wanna see the White House press release?). Hussein had 'em and used 'em. It's a minor little fact you might want to consider before you have another tantrum.

BTW, you really should get your delusional tendencies analyzed by a professional.


Your reply is typical of every talk-radio Hannity-clone who refuses to address facts and resorts to tinfoil-hat accusations. In your case, you refuse to acknowledge truths widely acknowledged and on record. Turn off the AM radio and put down the Ann Coulter book. Open your eyes.

You're asking me whether I have delusional tendencies? I was JUST about to ask you the same...

Al Gore would have been an unmitigated disaster. We would still be negotiating a cease fire with Al Qaeda, and the price of gas would be $5/gallon.


Al Qaeda is not a country. You can't invade it. You can't fight it with tanks, howitzers, and a brigade. The real war on terror is a struggle of ideas unfortunately, and should be fought covertly through inteligence and people undercover. This poses a problem for Bush and his ilk who want to make a career of bolstering the military industrial complex. Undercover work isn't made-for-TV like a full-scale invasion or large military operations. It isn't glamorous, nor is is profitable for the hundreds of companies lining up at the federal budget trough for a piece of the action. Tell me again how invading Iraq has made us safer? It was akin to poking the eye of the entire middle east. Yeah, that will help win a war of ideas alright. Imagine if Syria invaded Mexico right now... don't you think we'd all be outraged?

At least Al Gore is smart enough to realize this. You have no idea how good we'd have it right now without that ass-hat Bush in power.

TK: "You have no idea how good we'd have it right now without that ass-hat Bush in power." The only good thing I can think of is how much more fun it would be to criticize the s*** out of that moron Gore rather than having to constantly play defense supporting Bush against criticism from guys like you.


If you're going to defend Bush, you better come with a factual argument rather than an emotional one. I realize it's much harder to do, but I'm still waiting for the former...


You mentioned 1979 as the last time we had an energy policy. Cardigans and solar panels are not an energy policy.

The Bush administration's energy policy is basically to let the market function without screwing things up too much. Oil is a commodity, the price of which is determined on the world market. When demand exceeds supply (as is the case now, in part because of economic development in India and China), the price increases. The increased price encourages development of increased supplies (sand oil from Alberta; drilling from depleted fields in California and Texas where further oil is there, but more expensive to get). The increased price also encourages reduced demand (when gas costs more, people drive less). A good energy policy would be to let the "invisible hand" do it's job.

Unfortunately, most politicos aren't too bright, and want to be seen as "doing something", especially after mind-numbing interview after mind-numbing interview on news show of drivers who don't like higher gas prices. (Wow. Stop the presses.) The government's involvement in energy policy has generally made things worse, usually by artificially decreasing supply (such as environmental restrictions on refinery creation). Rationing and windfall profits taxes are probably coming next, if the lefties actually do manage to retake Congress.

Unlike you, I'm not troubled by the fact that at least today, for once, people charged with making governmental policy (Bush and Cheney) actually know something about the industry they're seeking to govern.

Hope this helps.


so what part of the "invisible hand" is giving the Oil Companies huge tax breaks even while they have record profits?

Hi Eric,

Which "huge tax breaks" are you thinking of? Maybe there were new tax rules specifically affecting the oil industry adopted during Bush's term, but I'm not aware of them. I'm ready to be educated.


The ones Wyden was fillibustering against today in the Senate.

They've been written about many times over the years a short visit to Google should find you plenty of info.

Short version is they put some typical corporate welfare stuff in place to innoculate the Oil companies against losing money if they invested in finding more Oil only to end up losing money because the price of Oil went too low. Of course now the price of Oil is much higher than it was at the time, let alone decreased, hence the record profits.

I suppose their is a legit argument that Oil exploration is a risk and there should be some sort of insurance in place since it is in the national interest, and so on. Of course it would make a lot more sense to structure it as insurance tied to the price of oil dropping not an automatic give away regardless of the price of oil.

Of course I'm also not someone who drinks the Kool-aid about the "magic of free markets" and nonsense about an "invisible hand". I recognize that many aspects of the economy require regulation and incentives from the government since for many reasons individuals acting in what they think is their own rational best interest will not always make the best decisions for the overall good, not least of which because they don't have access to full information.

Bob, don't bother trying to educate TK, he/she's made up his/her mind that somehow Bush is the puppet of big oil interests. As part of the tinfoil hat crowd, TK will only believe what he/she reads on dailykos.com.

Eric, even though I agree that Government needs to regulate some industries, I am a true believer in the free market. If government regulation is so wonderful, why don't we just socialize everything? The majority of the time government meddles with an industry, it screws it up (need I mention SoWa?). there should be no subsidies for oil, agriculture, timber, mining, pharmaceuticals, etc.

High gas prices will spur more people to drive less, take alternative transportation, bike, walk, carpool, look for alternatives and sell their gas-guzzlers for econo-boxes. Demand will go down and prices will drop. If prices don't drop, big oil will exist no longer.


This really does take us off on a tangent, but why do you free market types always come back with a non sequiter like "if regulation is good in some case why not socialize everything"

There is a lot of room between regulations to a fully socialist economy. One of the major reasons American Capitalism and our markets have become the most succesful in the world is because of the regulations in the finance industry for example.

Ask the families of the miners who died in West Virginia how well getting government out of the mine safety regulatory business worked out.

The Oil market is a great example of where relying on the market doesn't work. What happens is gas gets expensive so people get worried and buy cars that egt better mileage and conserve. That drives the price of gas down again and then people get less ocncerned and start buying SUVs as sation wagons to drive the kids to school and a few years later gas prices go up again. Now people wish they had a nice mini-van that got 40 MPG instead of an Expedition, but their kind of stuck. You don't switch your driving habits on and off on a dime.

If Oil were a manufactured good that could be made at will yeah free market principles could work more. But it isn't, it is a natural resource with a fixed total amount that at some point will begin to run out. When the economy is strutured so much aroudn cheap transportion you need to rationally plan for how to maintain it not just let the market forces play out.

The basic transportation model of the US is the interstate highway system utilizing gas. That didn't happen because of the market, the federal government invested in building it.

Using your free market model the best case scenario is we'd wait for peak oil to hit, gas will shoot to $10 a gallon or more and then private companies will think soemthing like "wow lets build trains that run on Bio-Diseal" Great, once they manage to get all the right of ways for tracks and find enough farmers to grow the crops to produce it they'll have some great systems in place. What will that take 20-30-50 years? Great for our grandkids, but it will be a mess for a long time.

Or everyone buys hybrid cars that run on electricity (though we still need to find new sources of that since Oil and natural gas will be so high and we still get a lot of it there). Great for Japan since their what 10-20 years ahead of us on working on them?

I think the worst case scenario would look like "Mad Max"

I believe it was Eric who mentioned 1979 as the last time we had an energy policy. But he is correct.

Letting the 'invisible hand' guide the economy is great for some sectors, but it's not an all-or-nothing proposition. Our economic infrustructure is too complex, and in some cases too centralized, to simply let market forces take care of everything. In the case of our (lack of) Energy Policy, we as consumers, taxpayers and concerned citizens should ALL be weary, whether Dem or Republican. The supply and demand you speak of is artificial in the energy sector... The price going up WILL NOT stave demand, and the oil companies know it. We are at peak oil, and global demand is going to outstrip supply from here on out. The market will take whatever they give us.

We need fuel like we need clean drinking water. It is needed to run this country, this world. Without anyone willing to stand up and say, "We need to change course, NOW", we'll have to cram 50 years worth of innovation into 5 or 10 years. AT THE RISK OF OUR ECONOMY. A large country like ours doesn't change course overnight, we're like a big cruise ship. How long has the combustion engine been in service, 100+ years?? We haven't come up with a better way in that span? Are we to believe that our semis, jets, trains, autos, and tractors can be fully operational without fuel in the foreseeable future?

Aside from fuel, there are many products and by-products that require crude oil rather than compounds from other sources. Once it's gone, it's gone. We're going to need SOME of that down the road, so it doesn't make sense to wait until the wells are dry. Instead of the billions being spent and/or wasted with military contractors, we should be using some of it as seed money for energy innovation so we can have a multi-fuel/power source policy.

If you believe fuel is currently the lifeblood of our world's economy, as you should, then why should we accept that a handfull of corporations are making copius profits from our need? Would you be OK if the City of Portland started factoring in a profit margin on our water? Sure it's different, but really it's not THAT different.


I'll try to make it real simple for ya. Bush and Cheney are oilmen. They still own lots of stock. They have been opening up our country to privatization since they got in power. The GOP, especially Bush and Cheney, have made no bones about throwing out consumer (read: anti-corporate) protections. They don't bite the moneyed hand that feeds them. So, yeah, they're in Big Oil's pocket. But a more accurate description would be they're boardroom heros in every sector.

Actions speak louder than words. Follow the money. Add it up. Pull your head out of your ass.


Your argument seems to be that since oil is so important, we can't let the market rule who gets it and what we pay for it. I disagree, for at least a couple of reasons.

1. Food is even more important than oil. Should the government handle the allocation of food and its pricing? (My answer would be no.)

2. Who decides what's important enough for the government to take over? (My answer would be, not the commenters on this Blog; your answer might be different.)

3. Is it really a good idea to replace the widespread anonymous market forces that today set the world oil price with our gasbag politicians? (My answer would again be no.)

You are absolutely incorrect when you assert that demand for oil is not price sensitive. You also are wrong when you assert that the supply of oil is not dependent on its price.

You mentioned water: having the same goofballs that handle water for the city of Portland determining who should get (and who should not get) oil and gasoline sends chills down my spine.



At some point I have to say adios to this thread. You keep misinterpreting my points, either because you choose to or because you can't wrap your mind around them. There are just too many points to correct every time you post.

You drive a man to drink. Maybe when I'm three sheets to the wind tonight I'll humor you.

Don't bother TK, no amount of alcohol, or other illicit substances, will convince anybody of your inanities.

Poor Chrissie, he just can't quit W, despite 70% of America thinking he's a drowned-in-oil dork who couldn't find his bony white ass with a map, compass and shovel.

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