July 31, 2008

Speculation Takes A Holiday

Speaker of the House Nancy "I'm saving the world" Pelosi described the idea that increasing domestic production of oil would result in lower prices as a Hoax. Nancy it seems views supply and demand as a theory in much the same way creationists view evolution.

Do Nothing Nancy doesn't believe supply and demand have anything to do with the price of oil, or no doubt tea in China. OK so she's probably right about the tea. In China supply and demand have been replace by command and control. A system which I think Nancy would love to put in place in the U.S. Just as long she is doing the commanding and controlling.

No says the savior of the planet, the source of our energy price crisis isn't supply its speculation. Changing the supply - demand balance would have no effect at all, we must regulate and punish those who make their money gambling on what that future balance will be.

But let's take a look at what has happened.

As the have-no-debate take-no-vote Democrats sat on their pampered bottoms watching the price of oil and gas take off like a rocket, the American people responded. Sales of big gas guzzling CO2 belching trucks and SUVs have fallen faster than the housing market, while says of efficient smaller vehicles is on the rise. American's are driving less and doing it more efficient vehicles. They don't have any choice.  When it costs more than $50 to fill up the 12 gallon tank in a Jetta you adjust your driving habits.

The result of the decrease in DEMAND is that reserve SUPPLY began to grow. As the balance of SUPPLY and DEMAND began to shift what happened next?

Well if you think feel the way Nattering Nancy does, your answer would be nothing. Such a change would be meaningless because the price of oil is driven by speculation. However, over the last week or so, crude oil prices have dropped close to $30 a barrel from their recent record highs.

It's the summer, maybe all the oil speculators decided go on vacation at the same time.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:37 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 23, 2008

Hold The Mayo - Media Alert

From time to time I have mentioned my friend Wayne from New Hampshire. He's the one is at far end of the Libertarian spectrum. I always enjoy talking politics with him because we have significant philosophical agreements and some striking differences.

I would have to say that one of the largest areas of difference comes in the realm where threats to liberty arise. I think Wayne is more apt to believe that these threats arise from deliberate action toward the deliberate goal of reducing the freedom of individuals. I tend to take a less sinister view of my fellow man, though perhaps more cynical, that most damage to liberty arises from unintended consequences and stupidity.

Wayne in some ways is more of an idealist - setting his sights on a perfect libertarian society. I tend more toward making what we have better and trying to keep it from getting worse.

I learned recently that Wayne is on the radio. He is part of a broadcast called Free Talk Live. It's heard on 40 stations across the country as well as in Trinidad & Tobago. Their live camera is broadcast on 4 cable affiliates and all of this is available via the web site. Or you can subscribe to their podcast.

I have never actually heard the show so I'm not going make any recommendation. I only learned about it's existence recently when Wayne told me that he read one of my posts on the air. I wrote it on May 15 and he read it shortly after, so it's a little old. It's a response to a campaign email from Hillary Clinton.

I'll be checking the show out live tonight - Wayne is going to be on. If it's good I'll do some digging through the archives. If your interested, here's the clip of Wayne reading Hold The Mayo on the air.

Wayne reads Steve.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:21 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment


July 21, 2008

The Nightmare of the Real

Barack Obama was photographed strolling around Baghdad Airport not wearing Kevlar. Many are wondering how this is possible in such a dangerous place.

Oprah knows the answer. Click the thumbnail and you will too.


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:54 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 20, 2008

A Lesson For Congressional Democrats

Want to know what happens when you open up new areas for energy exploration?

Someone finds some.

Ands it's not a hoax.

 Hess Corp., the fifth-biggest U.S. oil company, found natural gas off the northwest coast of Australia, its second discovery since starting drilling in the country's most-expensive exploration permit.

The problem with Congressional Democrats is that they see the current energy crisis as a means to further their environmental agenda. They know full well that drilling for more oil and gas will result in there being more oil and gas. More oil and gas would mean lower prices and the crisis goes away. If the crisis goes away - they will have a harder time selling their alternative energy pipe dreams.

They want the crisis to continue and even worsen. They have to push the cost of oil and gas high enough to make their alternatives economically viable. Drilling kills that dream.

It's time for Congress to get the hell out of the way and let the people clean up this mess.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:25 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 19, 2008

Media Bias? What Media Bias?

Not convinced that the "mainstream media" are biased in the Presidential Election? Maybe a look at the photo from this WABC Chicago story will shed a little light.



I sometimes think people are reaching a bit when they do one of these photo comparisons. But Keep in mind, I did not merge two separate photos for purposes of comparison. This is the image that appears on their site. I took a screen shot for posterity.

Senator McCain looks like he's the villain in a Batman movie. Poor lighting, and looking just a little maniacal.

Senator Obama on the other hand is calm and composed in a fairly well-lit photo. He is beatifically framed by the halo of his campaign logo.

Subtle its not.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:30 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


July 14, 2008

Rose Garden Symbolism

President Bush announced in a Rose Garden ceremony the he was lifting the executive order banning oil drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. This is a largely political and symbolic gesture as it has no effect on the Congressional ban on OCS drilling.

Some bloggers and commentators have been critical of the move saying that it is too little and too late. (I read all this this morning and I'm too tired/lazy to go back and find the links.) On the surface they are right. It would have been nice if someone had done something - even symbolically - about a dollar a gallon ago. But I think there is some validity to both what Bush has done, and when he has done it.

It must be remembered that Bush is acting not just in the realm of energy policy, but also in electoral politics. Yes, it sucks that he is playing politics with gas prices that are draining our wallets, but that is field the game is played on, by both sides.

Here is what I see as the strategy - based on observing from the outside.

First, as Congress finally began to deal with the energy issue, Bush issued a challenge. He announced that when Congressed lifted the legislative ban on OCS drilling he would lift the Executive ban. This put expanded production at the forefront of the energy debate.

The Congressional leadership of the Democrat party did not want to have that debate - and most certainly did not want to have that vote. They know that their constituents understand basic supply and demand. That if there were more oil, it would cost them less to fill their tank. They did not want to be on the record as voting against increasing supply, and they are so tied into the far left environmental movement that they could be seen as voting for it.

So they simply stopped talking about energy. They made it go away.

Then president Bush rescinded his father's executive order baning OCS drilling. Leaving only obstacle in the way. Congressional Democrats. And once again energy policy is in the news - with an emphasis on the lack of Congressional activity.

Their only recourse is to pretend that supply and demand doesn't work. They point out that lifting the ban would do nothing to lower the price of gas at the pump today. In one sense they are right. If they lifted the ban today, it would take years before it had any direct effect on supply.

But what about the indirect effects?

The Democrats like to blame the surge in oil prices on speculators. And certainly speculation will have an impact on the price. But what are these horrible nasty mean evil speculators speculating on?

Supply and demand.

They are speculating that supply is gong to remain relatively constant, and that demand will continue to grow. And the price will continue to go up. Dramatic increases in energy consumption in the emerging economies of India and China will continue to push demand to new levels - particularly since the left insists on exempting them from their bogus C02 reduction schemes. OPEC has mad it clear that they see no need to increase production.

Speculating on higher oil prices seems like a pretty safe bet. But faced with the prospect of increased supply in the future, that bet becomes a little less certain. And the payoff is likely to be smaller relative to the risk.

Also if Congress lifted the ban on OCS drilling, got out of the way of shale development, expidited expansion of refining capacity, and removed needless barriers to the development of nuclear power, how would OPEC react?

I do not think that they would just sit back and wax philosophical about the possibility of losing a few hundred billion in future revenues. Simple math shows that at higher prices per barrel, some previously too expensive to recover oil becomes profitable. OPEC would  respond by increasing production and thereby lowering the price to a level where more expensive methods of recovery cease to be profitable.

It's a somewhat shopworn expression, but Congressional Democrats either understand this or they don't.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:16 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 12, 2008

Made In China

There is an agonizing splotch on my conscience stemming from the fact that I work for a corporation that manufactures a growing number of the products it sells in the People's Republic of China. I keep a large poster of the solitary man blocking a column of tanks approaching Tiananmen Square on the wall of my cube to remind me of who we are doing business with.

This can only be maintained through the use of serious rationalization. I tell myself that if I left it wouldn't matter. I am not so important to the company that my leaving or threatening to leave would cause them to rethink their business strategy for even half a second. I have no delusions that I will ever reach a level in the corporation where I can have any impact at all on it's manufacturing decisions. There is no career path from graphic designer to corporate president. That is the part of the rationalization that is based on fact. Then I add in the fact that I have a family to house and feed. That if I were single I could do this and the only person it would impact would be me.

So I look at the poster. Remember all of the products labeled Made in China. Swallow hard and get back to work. That swallow is going to be even harder after reading this:

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese courts jailed 12 more rioters for their roles in unrest in Tibet, state media said, weeks before the Beijing Olympics and after Beijing deported a Tibetan British woman it accused of anti-government activism.

China's official Xinhua news agency said late on Thursday that to date China has convicted 42 people for their role in the riots while another 116 await trial. Some 953 people were detained by the police, Xinhua said, quoting Palma Trily, the No. 1 vice-chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region government.

He did not give details on the length of the latest 12 sentences handed down on June 19 and 20 but said neither these rioters nor 30 people convicted earlier had received death sentences.

"But whether or not the death penalty will be applied for suspects still being investigated has to be determined based on Chinese laws," Palma Trily was quoted as saying. (emphasis added)

They are considering the death penalty as punishment for protesting the government.

In this country, liberals have a fit when they are carted away in plastic handcuffs and later released. How do you think they would feel if they faced the possibility of death for "speaking truth to power."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:35 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 10, 2008

Curious Question

Barack Obama is learning the Miranda lesson of politics in the modern age. You've heard it on a thousand cop shows: "Anything you say can and will be used against you." Recently I've been given a small taste of that.

In the post below, Curious left the following comment:

Hey, I'm just curious how you plan to vote in November...

"If John McCain or Mike Huckabee are the GOP nominee for President they will only get my vote if it cast against Mrs. Clinton."

I can vouch for the authenticity of the statement with 98.9% certainty. I don't know if I typed that here or in the comments elsewhere, but it is absolutely a position I would have taken. That gets me to at least 75%. Throw in the typo and you get almost complete certainty.

All of that aside, it's a very good question and one I have been wrestling with since the nominees became presumptive.

I dislike Barack Obama. I disagree with and to some extent fear the outright socialist principals he espoused during the primaries. Now that the nomination is his and he has begun to moderate those positions to seem more appealing to middle fo the road voters, I distrust him as well.

Does my antipathy to Obama equal that which I have for Mrs. Clinton? It is hard to say as it is difficult to separate out that portion of my loathing for her that is a part of Bill Clinton's legacy. The reality there is that you were not electing "A Clinton" but rather "The Clintons."

Loathing. Antipathy. Distrust. These are all very strong feelings. I have them for John McCain too.

McCain/Fiengold, the Gang of 14, The McCain/Kennedy Amnesty were bad enough now he's signed on the Global Warming Scam.

John McCain is a statist who hides his impulse to power under more conservative rhetoric that his opponent.

My opinion right now is that each would be equally horrible as president and each would do lasting damage to individual liberty in this country. Which is a thought without comfort since one of them will be president.

The only answer I can give to Curious is that I don't know. I hope Curious doesn't find that answer as unsatisfying as I do.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:24 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 08, 2008

Democrat Energy Policy

A tip of the hat to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air for providing the quote that inspired today's PhotoShop editorial cartoon:

“Right now, our strategy on gas prices is ‘Drive small cars and wait for the wind,’ ” said a Democratic aide.


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:01 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


July 07, 2008

Cartooning

I have always loved editorial cartoons. I even like a good editorial cartoon that I don't agree with editorially. Way back in my college days when I was editor of the editorial page of the school's daily student paper, my favorite part of the job was working with the people who drew our editorial cartoons.

If I possessed any drawing skills at all, I would be posting editorial cartoons on a regular basis. However since I lack the ability to draw at all, I don't. What I do have are some pretty good skills with PhotoShop. Which comes in handy because it's good chunk of what they pay me for at my day job.

PhotoShop occupies a unique and dangerous position in the lexicon. Dangerous in that it runs the risk of becoming accepted as the generic term for any photo editing. Corporate legal departments fight hard against having their brand become the generic for the category. But PhotoShop is already in fairly wide use as a verb. To "photoshop" something is the act of digitally altering its appearance. Probably of greater concern to Adobe is that photoshop is also becoming a noun representing not the software but the product of the software. How may times have heard or used the expression "a photoshop" to refer to a digitally composed image?

"The photoshop" is becoming a new form of editorial cartoon. Altering images to make a satirical and political point in much the same way  traditional cartoonists create caricatures of their subjects. As an art form it does bring with it a unique set of issues and concerns.

Foremost among them is that vast gray area between copyright and fair use. The internet possesses a vast resource of imagery you can grab and put to your own use without ever looking at one of the commercial stock photography houses.

As the concept of "the photoshop" as editorial cartoon begins to spread beyond people doing it just for fun and just to make a point into making a buck it will be interesting to see where the line gets drawn.

For now, at lest for me, it's a vehicle to have a little fun and poke a little fun. If you scroll down, you'll see a few posts where I've begun to explore the medium. I'm going to keep playing at it at long as it stays fun.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:33 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 03, 2008

Obama Continueds Turn to the Right

From Hot Air:

Any issues left for him to “finesse”? Iraq, FISA, now this. No hot button is safe from the Messiah’s nuance.

Except for amnesty, of course. He’s still rock solid on that.


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:54 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Obama Policy Meeting

Members of Obama's inner circle met to discuss foreign policy:


Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:14 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


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