Friday, April 25, 2008

Boob Bait for Petrophobes

->In the political game the term "Boob Bait" refers to demagoguery designed to lead a gullible electorate down the particular path you wish them to take. For a nation gripped with petrophobia (the irrational fear of anything made from petroleum) even a talentless hack like Chuck Schumer can ladle out boob bait with ease. Yesterday he had the stumbling socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, along. Sanders, as sane people know, is as mad as a hatter. Plus, he's usually vewy, vewy angwy which makes for great mouth-foaming tirade viewing.
->Former NPR & ABC reporter Jim Angle put together this piece for his employers at FNC yesterday detailing the latest from oily Chuck & friends. This new effort is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is it's a new twist to the "boob bait" formula. The usual method is a call for investigations about "gouging". The brains of the Senate, Barb Boxer, trots this hoary staple out several times a year. Another fave is calling executives from the oil companies to Congress for a day of solemn testimony. Just once I wish one of those guys would respond to the request with, "I'm sorry I won't be attending your show trial next Thursday. I'm too busy trying to figure out how to make eleven per cent ROI to sit around chit-chattin' with y'all." Somewhere along the way we got the odd notion that a free people are at the beck and call of their elected representatives. I suspect this happened somewhere around February 3, 1913. But it might have been even earlier than that.
->Schumer and pals outlined in their media event their wish that the executive branch would take dramatic action against foreign suppliers of oil if said foreigners don't increase output. He specifically named Saudi Arabia (which he inexplicably called "Saudi"-- the case can be made to call that nation "Arabia" but certainly not "Saudi"), United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.
->The great antidote to runaway boob bait is an application of facts. Let's try a few:
1) First and foremost there is no crude oil supply problem, so increasing output would do nothing to lower the world price at this time. Acknowledge that fact and there's no press event for the gullible viewers of NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FNC, ABC, PBS and the last remaining viewer of the CBS Evening News w/ Kathie Lee Gifford or whoever is in the chair now.
2) Nearly 40% of the oil we use comes from our number one source, so if Chuck & Bernie truly believed supply was an issue they would be demanding that our #1 source increase output by drilling more wells in places currently off-limits to production. They don't call for anything of the sort. I wonder why? Oh, by the way, our number one source for crude oil is the USA. It comes chiefly from Texas, Alaska, California, Louisiana and Oklahoma; not New York or Vermont (coincidentally, I'm sure).
3) 75% of the crude oil America uses comes from sources outside the Middle East.
Most Americans believe we get almost all of our oil from Arab nations, thus Schumer's proposed strong-arming of SA, UAE and Kuwait. In fact, the following nations (and others) sell us more crude oil than either UAE or Kuwait: Algeria, Angola, Venezuela, Nigeria, Mexico and Canada. Why no tough talk directed at our biggest foreign supplier, Canada? We provide the military might that defends Canada from her possible enemies. Why not threaten them with a withdrawal of our protective umbrella if Canada doesn't just give us all the oil we want? Makes as much sense as what you actually called for, Charlie.
4) Oil prices are not set by the suppliers. They are determined by the marketplace as crude oil futures are traded in pits around the world. My post yesterday about climax runs addresses this... kind of. While Chuck Schumer doesn't represent, as a Senator from New York, many oil producers, he does represent lots of people who are active traders in crude oil futures. In fact, he probably represents the largest aggregation of crude oil traders in America. Strangely, he's mute on their activities and its relationship to oil prices. He's also mute on the action of George Soros, financier of the left, and how his selling of the US$ makes oil more expensive. I wonder why Chuck attacks Arabs but not Soros? Oh yeah, boob bait.
5) Oil is a fungible commodity-- if we buy less from Saudi Arabia we simply make it up by buying more from another source and the Saudis sell our allotment to, say, Japan. The very notion that we can tell the Saudis or Kuwaitis to "pump more or else" is, if you know how the marketplace works, darkly amusing.* 75% of oil production in the world is under state control (see: Russia, Venezuela et al.). The biggest US integrated oil company, ExxonMobil, hated by petrophobes from coast to coast, controls just 3% of world production. 3%. That's all.
->Democrats like Schumer & Sanders have spent the past 7 years, most of it in the minority, demanding that the President of the United States bend to the will of other nations on issue after issue. We constantly have heard that the US must not act unilaterally-- a notion that never came up when Bubba Clinton bombed Kosovo without stopping by the Congress or the UN for a vote, by the way. But now, in an act of Boob Bait Extremis, prominent Democrats of the legislative branch are demanding that the Republican controlled executive branch just tell other countries what they need to do for us regarding a commodity traded freely on world markets. It makes your head spin watching these clowns. But, it's easier for them to peddle this junk to the gullible than to call for something that would surely anger the enviro-leftists munching granola and wearing Birkenstocks around base camp in the D Party: more exploration for domestic crude. Just drill, baby.
Postcard of the Oklahoma State Capitol lawn above comes from CardCow. If you love old post cards, CardCow is a great place to check out.
* Darkly amusing in this way:
-Chuck Schumer, "You must pump more oil so the price goes down!"
-Kuwaiti oil minister, "We're pleased with the current level of production, my friend."
-Schumer, "Well, then we may have to stop buying your oil!!"
-Minister, "We shall miss these pleasant chats. But we don't lack for customers. Fare well my friend."
-Schumer, "If you don't pump more oil for us we'll be forced to stop selling you weaponry!!!"
-Minister, "I believe the defense minister doesn't have a problem with buying from any number of other suppliers. Shall I check on that, my friend."
-Schumer, "Ummm. To clarify, did I just cut off our arms sales to your nation while also losing you as a source for crude oil?"
-Minister, "Unfortunately, my friend, you have achieved exactly that."
-Schumer, "Can I leave Bernie Sanders here with you? He's getting on my nerves."
-Minister, "That can not be arranged. He must depart with you. And, I think I hear the engines starting on your magnificent jet right now. Make haste!"
One of my first year sales trainees, back in the day, would know how this approach would go. Ivy League trained lawyers who have "worked" their whole adult lives as politicians? Not so quick on the uptake.