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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

To Lower Oil Prices -- Let Bachmann Rant

Category: Michele Bachmann
Posted: 07/22/08 17:52

by Dave Mindeman

Michele Bachmann has been on a relentless rampage to increase drilling here, there, and everywhere for several weeks now.... and wouldn't you know it -- without getting one single new well authorized or even one drop of oil extracted from anywhere, she seems to have dropped the price of commodity crude by $20 per barrel in the last 10 days (from $147 to $127 per barrel).

The woman is a miracle worker!

The oil speculators must be cowering in fear of oil gushing out all over and hammered down the futures contracts. Rumors of Michele using her direct line to God flourished on the Chicago Board of Trade and an oil panic spread far and wide.

Rumors abound that Bachmann will begin the next phase of her war on gas with a new campaign plan.... quoting the rumor:

"You've heard of a chicken in every pot? Well, we want a rig in every backyard!"

Congress had better watch out. She blames YOU!

To quote the AP:

Michele Bachmann said Tuesday that the United States must tap its energy reserves and that only Congress is standing in the way of making a dent in rising fuel costs. ......"It's like having a room full of hungry children and a pantry full of food with a lock on it," is how Bachmann described the refusal of congressional leaders to authorize more domestic energy production.

Please, ma'am, may I have some more?

Yes, we have found our answer to the rising cost of oil -- just let Michele Bachmann rant.

It seems to be working so far.

comments (2) permalink

Franken or Coleman? Do Democrats Really Have to Think About It?

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 07/22/08 16:37, Edited: 07/22/08 16:58

by Dave Mindeman

If the voters of Minnesota would rather be represented by a hack, like Norm Coleman, than laugh off a few jokes that didn't work, then they should stop complaining about being stuck with professional politicians. And the real joke will be on them.
--Michael Kinsley, Slate.com

I have listened to a number of people grouse and complain about Al Franken's campaign. Unfortunately, a lot of them are Democrats who think Franken can't win. The Catch-22 in all of this is Al Franken could win if those Democrats would look beyond this "culture of umbrage" (as Kinsley calls it), and support a candidate on the merits.

Democrats, by and large, don't like Norm Coleman. He is, by Garrison Keillor's definition, a hollow man. Not much substance. A professional politician in every bad sense of the word.

Al Franken, by contrast, exudes every progressive value that Democrats are looking for. He wants out of the Iraq War. He stands with working men and women. He upholds a woman's right to choose. He champions the middle class and promises to roll back the disastrous Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

So, why is the choice so difficult?

It would seem to be because Al Franken had a non-political and, in many ways, a very politically incorrect life before becoming a candidate. He was a comedian...a satirist. Not a common occupation in the Senate (although maybe we could use one). No, we have attorneys, business moguls, former prosecutors, and a lot of the wealthy social class. Not many people like Franken.

In the past, his language has been crude and sometimes shocking. But what exactly are we worried about, in that regard? Do we think that Franken can't meet the current standards of decorum in a stuffed shirt Senate? Are we afraid that he might drop the F-bomb on the Senate floor? (Really no need to worry, Cheney has already set that precedent).

Franken knows the difference between what he was and what he is campaigning to be. I think it is time that we, as Democrats, stop being gullible worrywarts and start analyzing what is best for the progressive agenda in November.

When you think about the future of Roe v Wade, who would you rather have representing us? Franken or Coleman?

When it comes to the hard work of moving our country into new environmental policy changes, who would you rather have in Washington? Franken or Coleman?

When it comes to the inevitable selection of new Supreme Court justices, who do you want representing Minnesota in that debate? Franken or Coleman?

It is an easy choice for me. And I think it was an easy choice for most Democrats as a whole until they allowed relentless Republican attacks to cloud their judgment.

We aren't electing the best comedian. And we aren't electing the best hockey promoter. We are electing a US Senator... a representative for Minnesota's best interests. We have had a 6 year window into how Norm Coleman plans to handle that job. I think you would agree that we have had enough of that. Al Franken has told us what he would do and I believe his fundamental principles are sound.

And I also think he will be a great United States Senator.

comments (2) permalink

Michele Bachmann, Gas Prices, and the Caribou

Category: Michele Bachmann
Posted: 07/22/08 02:30

By Dave Mindeman

Michele Bachmann is out with the caribou these days and she continues to hype her "drill here, drill now" solution to America's gasoline price problem. Now, I don't like the idea of drilling in ANWR for environmental reasons, but the complex truth of the matter is that drilling in ANWR is NOT going to have any of the economic impact that Bachmann believes either. She wants us all to believe it is a simple economic supply and demand equation. But in a global economy, she is dead wrong.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution did an extensive analysis of US energy issues....looking at all aspects of the industry and economic effects. They took a specific look at the ANWR option, and here is their analysis:

Let's take ANWR as an example. Many Americans would be surprised to learn that oil produced in ANWR would be sold to Americans at whatever the global price for oil happened to be. There's no "hometown discount" ?- U.S. consumers would pay 100 percent of the global price for ANWR oil, just as we do now for oil produced from Alaska, Texas or the Gulf of Mexico.

That's because all oil produced in this country goes into the world oil market. All oil sold in this country is bought off the world oil market. So there's only one way that opening ANWR and other areas could lower the price of gasoline here in the United States: It would have to put enough "new oil" on the global market to drive down the price of oil worldwide.

A newly released study by the federal Energy Information Administration says that would not happen. According to the EIA, if drilling began in ANWR this year, oil production from that region would peak around 2027-2030. At peak production, ANWR would produce enough oil to lower the world price of oil by about 1 percent. If gasoline is selling at $5 a gallon in 2030, that would amount to 5 cents a gallon.

5 cents a gallon.

That would seem to be a bit short of the Bachmann concept of going back to $2 a gallon.

And then there is Bachmann's assertion that refinery capacity has been blocked by current government regulations. The AJC also examined that claim:

The rising price of gasoline is blamed by some on the fact that no new refinery has been built in this country since the 1970s. As the story goes, environmental regulations have made it impossible to build needed new facilities.

However, both claims are exaggerations. While no new refineries have been built, that is the result of market-based decisions by private investors, not government agencies. Until very recently, we actually had a glut of refining capacity in this country, which made it difficult for refiners to make money. Excess gasoline refining capacity in Europe ?- created as European drivers moved from gasoline to diesel to power their vehicles ?- also undercut American refineries' profits. And even without new refineries coming on line, companies have managed to expand domestic refining capacity by expanding existing facilities.

"Excess refining capacity historically caused profitability of the refining sector to be low compared to many other industries," the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report last year. In the first quarter of 2008, for example, Chevron made an overall profit of $5.17 billion, but its profit from refining amounted to just $4 million.

The oil companies have little incentive to increase refinery capacity. Their profits are fine with things as they are. In fact, they really have little incentive to do any new exploration either. Drilling in the offshore areas would require expensive drilling platforms which are in short supply.....and new drilling in ANWR would offer no guarantees of success regardless of geological surveys. Drilling in a harsh environment and connecting new wells to existing pipeline would be an unnecessary risk for companies already loaded with profits.

It is much easier for Exxon and Chevron to buy back stock, increase dividends to happy shareholders, and collect bonuses...than take any risks.

So, have fun with the caribou, Michele, and enjoy the scenery. When you get back to Minnesota, try bringing a little dose of reality with you, too.
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