Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sooners No. 1

In case you haven't noticed, the Oklahoma Sooners are No.1 Go Sooners--beat the hell out of Texas!

Sooners No. 1

Last Night's "Debate"

To call last night's repeat of the same old BS by the presidential candidates a debate is a disservice to American voters. Neither gave direct or complete answers to any of the questions. Senator McCain may well have lost the election by not attacking Obama's same old irrational give away programs without any mention of how he was going to pay for them--"I'm going to cut taxes for 95% of Americans." Why didn't McCain ask him to explain how he was going to cut taxes for 95% of Americans while under his proposed tax program some 25% of Americans would pay no taxes at all? Duh, that math doesn't add up unless 5% are going to pay for increases for 95%, of which some 25% are not paying any taxes at all. McCain needed to attack every nonspecific claim made by Obama and not back off until Obama could come up with a specific answer. McCain also lost an opportunity to throw the blame for the current economic crisis right back onto the Democrats (both Bill Clinton and Democrats in Congress) who have insisted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac make loans to those who could not afford them based on historical income to debt criteria. McCain only has a few weeks to expose Obama as an empty suit spouting half-baked ideas with no details on how they would be implemented or paid for and as a truly unknown in terms of beliefs, accomplishments, affiliations,and most of all, absolutely void of any record of leadership on any level. Against a backdrop of economic chaos, a biased national media and an apparent unwillingness to truly "take the gloves off," Sen. McCain is facing an almost insurmountable job. Nonetheless, much can happen in three weeks, including , God forbid, some new global crisis; an opportunity for the recently passed government economic programs to be implemented; some new revelations about Sen. Obama or he commits a major gaff. Also keep in mind that polls were shown on several occasions during the primaries to be fallible . Perhaps most importantly, I suspect many Americans will have second thoughts about turning over the reigns of leadership in difficult times to a totally unknown quantity versus a man of proven leadership skills in the worst of adverse conditions. Regardless of who is elected, the job will be difficult because they will be saddled with an inept Congress that has shown no willingness to step to the plate and make decisions based solely on what is in the best interest of all Americans. Rather, they have consistently voted on a partisan basis with personal political gain as the primary determining factor. What America needs now is proven leadership under adversity. That sure as hell won't come from the Congress and one of the candidates for President has never been in one leadership position in their life . Fortunately, the American people have shown throughout our history an ability to face and conquer any and all threats to our way of life regardless of who controls the White House or the Congress and we shall do so again.

Last Night's "Debate"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Economic Mayhem--A Little Simplification

Please excuse my absence from the fray. My wife and I just returned from a two week visit to France, a long delayed trip celebrating my retirement some year and one-half ago. This won't make you feel any better but people are as confused and distraught in Europe as they are here about the economy. I may not be able to make you feel any better but at least I hope I can help reduce all the mass media and political excrement to plain English. Think of it all as what happens when you throw a rock into water--it sets up a rippling effect of ever increasingly larger waves. The rock in this case was composed of tens of thousands of mortgages of which some 5 to 10 percent were much larger than the recipients could afford and became foreclosures. (We'll come back to the cause(s) in a minute.) Most banks sell home mortgages to secondary markets and make their money in origination fees. Larger banks and some pure home mortgage lending companies, retain many of the mortgages they make, thus increasing their margins by keeping the origination fees plus the interest paid by homeowners. The largest home mortgage lender in the nations were quasi government- owned "Fanney Mae and Freddy Mac." When large numbers of homeowners begin to default on their loans, those institutions holding the mortgages begin to lose revenues. Unfortunately, home values also began to decline in a number of geographies and this trend accelerated. Therefore, a large percentage of mortgage defaults left lenders with assets (houses) that had values less than the money owed on these houses by defunct homeowners. In other words, lenders were left with collateral worth less than the amount of money they had loaned and continuing to decline in value. And the number of defaulted home loans was increasing dramatically.

So, who's at fault? In this election year, each political party is pointing fingers at the other. Here are the facts. In the late 1990's during the Bill Clinton administration, Mr. Clinton decided that more low-income Americans ,particularly minorities, should have an opportunity for home-ownership and directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower their requirements(income, credit record, down payment). The result was-- guess what? thousands of previously unqualified borrowers were given home loans. But this is only part of the problem. Greed was the real culprit as home values had been dramatically increasing for a number of years and "everyone" wanted a piece of the action. After all, one could borrow more money than one could afford but not worry because the value of houses was going up so fast that borrowers figured they could always sell at a large profit. Flipping houses became the game of the day. Meanwhile, banks wanted in on the action because they viewed such loans as virtually risk free because of the accelerating values, thus if a borrower defaulted on their loan, the bank would gladly foreclose and sell at a nice profit. In this atmosphere of greed, banks and other mortgage lenders relaxed their loan qualifying requirements. The situation was this--borrowers were willing to take chances beyond their income and many lenders were encouraging them to do so.

Meanwhile, investment banking firms, like lehman Brothers, were like greedy sharks smelling the blood of profits to be made off all these mortgages. They bought the mortgages and bundled them into marketable securities. Further, to tempt investors, they also created and issued instruments that amounted to insurance against potential defaults, though they did not label them as insurance to avoid regulatory issues. Banks and other investors all over the world were also tempted by these enormous potential profits from mortgages and/or the securities made up of mortgages. Thus, such mortgages, so many of which were made to borrowers who were not qualified, became leveraged many times to investors all over the world.

Therefore, when defaults began flowing like water over Niagra Falls and home values began tanking from unrealistic and non sustainable levels, the tentacles of disaster ran wide and deep, resulting in the demise of investment and commercial banks around the world, as well as major insurance companies, like AIG, who also had succumbed to the temptation of greed. The result has been a "drying up" of available capital--banks just don't have the money to lend or are unwilling to do so in this environment. Without capital, our economy cannot be sustained, let alone grow. Thus, we have seen the federal government step in with several actions designed to increase liquidity of funds and try to avoid the greatest recession/depression since the Great Depression. Many citizens and small business owners have been and remain under the impression that the government funds being infused are simply "gifts" to bankers and big business. That simply is untrue. The government is receiving assets for these cash infusions. Granted, no one knows what the present or future value of these assets is or may become, but they are not gifts. This misunderstanding is the fault of the media to a great degree, calling such actions "bailouts" and other terms implying that they are free and clear gifts. Even the government only has so much money it can put into the fray and it must choose where it does so based on getting the biggest positive impact toward restoring a healthy economy. Clearly that is the banking industry which must supply needed capital to fuel big and small businesses and thus attempt to restore economic vigor. Government interference in a free economy such as ours is difficult medicine to swallow. Unfortunately, it's the only alternative.

Let us hope that in tonite's debate, both candidates will quite pointing fingers and put forth concrete ideas and detailed implementation plans to help solve our economic crisis. Neither has done so to date. We continue to hear a lot about the need for change but never details as to what that means. Distortion is rampant at this stage in the campaign. Unfortunately, that is nothing new. It's time to force some specific answers from the candidates. Let's hope tonight's format of voter participation in the questions will hold their feet to the fire and maybe, just maybe, someone, whether voter or moderator, will have the guts to say, what the hell are you talking about and what do you mean and not let them off the hook until they give a full ad detailed response.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

2008 Elections Provide Window Into Changing U.S. Political Scene

The post-babyboomer generation of American voters will exert its strongest influence to date in the 2008 presidential election, signaling the beginning of the end of party, Washington Insider and "good old boy" controlled politics. Governor Palin and Senator Obama are both examples of this changing tide.

This newer generation has the largest number of independent voters in U.S. history, reflecting the growing decline in major political party affiliations. Why this changing trend? First, the proliferation of mass communications permits American voters of today to access all the information they need to make an informed decision. Only 30 to 40 years ago, these sources, certainly not in today's numbers, did not exist--i.e., independent cable television networks, talk radio, the internet, etc. As a result, voters depended heavily on the two major political parties and their respective platforms to guide voter decisions. And, the candidates of each party adhered strictly to those guidelines. Voters no longer must depend on the political parties for their information.

Another reason for the changing trend is the growing disdain by this generation for Congress and other professional politicians. In all public opinion polls, Congress falls at the bottom, followed closely by lawyers and the mass media. The perception by a growing number of Americans is that these groups are prejudiced and unreliable sources who have their own agendas and clients.

A third reason, is that this younger generation of voters has grown weary of partisan politics where "the Party" always comes first, regardless of what is in the best interest of individual citizens and the nation.

So, what do these winds of change mean going forward?

For the first time in many national elections, this younger generation of voters has been energized by new faces from outside the Washington D.C. beltway--i.e., Palen and Obama. At this stage in the election, Biden, I believe, is viewed as "more of the same" and McCain, though a veteran of the Senate, has a reputation as a maverick against the status quo, including his own party. Who knows what all of this means in terms of the election results.

I believe a couple of things are for certain however--first, it will be a very close election that will be determined by this growing number of independent voters; and, second, Sarah Palen is going to make it damn entertaining. At the end of the day, though, what independent voters, and others as well, want is effective leadership that they can trust to keep them safe and solvent.

We have had non-Washington "outsiders" elected president and vice president before--Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The truth is, presidents, whoever they may be, simply cannot effect the kind of change today's generation of voters seek. That can only happen with a fundamental change to our approach at electing those in Congress and fundamental changes in legislation governing "guaranteed" tenures of bureaucrats who populate and control the very bowels of Washington.

In my opinion, we must return to the basic tenants of elective service as envisioned by our founding fathers. Simply put, Jefferson and his colleagues never intended that Congressmen and Senators would serve more than one term before going back home to work and make an honest living. They viewed elective office as a sacrifice for their country and not as a life-long gravy-train for a bunch of self-perpetuating politicians using pork barrel "give-aways" to buy the support of voters in their election districts and states.

I am encouraged by what I see from today's younger voters and believe they are in the best position of any generation to make decisions based on fact and to help right the ship of state.

Sarah The Lion Hearted

Sarah Palin was a breath of fresh air last night at the Republican convention. Honestly, she would not have been my choice as I believe there are better qualified women available. But, damn, I like her and sincerely hope John McCain proves to have been right in his choice. It remains to be seen if she can stand the closer scrutiny of non-orchestrated press conferences, debates and the rigor of the daily campaign trail without committing a major "foot in mouth" or, God forbid, have some devastating skeleton revealed. With that said, Obama and Joe are going to be running the rest of this race looking over their shoulders, because Sarah is going to be taking some big time shots at their butts. You go girl!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This Is Change?

Senator Obama has based his entire campaign on the premise that he is going to bring change to government. Not withstanding the fact that he has yet to define what this means, today he has further muddled his position with the selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate. Perhaps someone with a clearer mind than mine can explain what is new or change oriented about a candidate for vice president who has been in the U.S. Senate for over 30 years, who has made three unsuccessful primary runs for the Democrat party's presidential nomination and whose record is among the most liberal among Democrats. His record embodies what American voters have repeatedly rejected--tax, spend and more government. Obviously, Sen. Obama is hoping that he will gain, through some sort of osmosis, a hint of foreign affairs
knowledge/credibility based on Sen. Biden's years on foreign affairs committees. The only thing I can think of that would signal an equivalent status quo to government going forward would be if Sen. McCain selects Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Fortunately, no presidential election has ever been won or lost based on the vice presidential nominees and certainly is not likely to do so in this one either. Both will have to stand on their own records and, in Sen. Obama's case where he has none, on their promises and the American voters willingness to buy into such rhetorical crap.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Please, No More Apologies For America

Senator Obama(and his wife) and other left leaning politicians and media pundits seem possessed with the need to continuously apologize for America, insinuating that in some way we have wronged the world and need to change our ways. The most common attack seems to center on Pres. Bush's "lack of sensitivity" in foreign affairs. I don't know about you, but I for one have heard enough America bashing by self-serving politicians. No, I'm not opposed to criticizing our nation's government when warranted. Indeed, that is a bedrock of a democracy. I am opposed, however, to inferring that there is something inherently wrong with America and its moral compass.

While watching the Olympics this week, I have been struck by the fact that many of the athletes representing multiple countries around the world are actually living, going to college and training in the US. Indeed, many of the athletes representing the US were born in other countries. How could one not be moved by the accomplishments of our gold medal winner, Nastia Liukin, as the best individual gymnast in the world. She immigrated to the US from Russia at the age of 2 and one-half years of age, along with her father and coach, a former gold medal winner for Russia, and mother. Shawn Johnson, the silver medal winner from Des Moines, Iowa, is coached by an immigrant from China. So many of these folks from other nations chose to come to the US to pursue the American dream. On the other hand, I've seen no example of an American who has chosen to immigrate to another country to live and train.

The US is not perfect, but obviously a whole lot of people from around the world believe it is a damn site better than any other alternative. We all take our freedoms and opportunities as Americans far too much for granted. Based on what I see in the Olympics and the continuing backlog of immigrants awaiting citizenship, not to mention the thousands of illegals, there must be something right about our country.

Monday, August 11, 2008

America Faces DangerousTest by Old Nemesis

The invasion of Georgia by Russia should come as no surprise. Ever since the breakaway from the former Soviet Union by such "satellite" nations as Georgia, Mr. Putin has been waiting for an excuse to "bring the chicks" back into the Russian nest. Do not forget, Mr. Putin was a major player in the old Soviet Union's Secret Police, under whom numerous political atrocities were committed. I don't believe totalitarian leaders change their basic belief system, certainly not a life-long Communist like Putin. And, don't be mislead by his recent stepping down as President of Russia and his assumption of the Prime Minister's role. Nothing but show, folks--Putin is still the man" in Russia.

I believe the timing of the invasion of Georgia was carefully orchestrated by Putin to achieve several objectives. One, he was looking for cover in the court of world opinion (after all, he is no longer the President, and the Russians are merely "helping" a disputed part of Georgia return to "mother" Russia which it did not want to leave in the first place). Of course, the Russians have moved on through the disputed provence of South Ossetia and, at this time, are closing in on the capital of Georgia.

Aside from sending a message to other former members of the USSR, the timing of the invasion was chosen to meet what, I believe, are Mr. Putin's more important objectives and which pose one of the most dangerous threats to America and Western Europe since the days of the "Cold War." First, Mr. Bush is a "lame duck," laden with all the military problems he can say grace over in Iraq and Afganistan and, therefore, less likely to respond militarily. Second, and more important to our future, Putin is using this election year to test the resolve and commitment of the Presidential candidates to oppose aggression. I believe their reaction is likely to play the dominant role in determining whether Putin will continue similar invasions against former USSR members. Interestingly, his invasion also gives American voters an opportunity to make the same "read" of the candidates.

The world continues to be a very dangerous place, with the likes of terrorists, Iran and this resurrection of totalitarian Russia, which still controls thousands of nuclear missiles aimed at American and Western European targets. Sen. Obama has stated his belief that you deal with such threats through negotiations and has stated his objection to continuing to build a missile defense system for America. Sen. McCain, on the other hand, seems to understand (according to his comments about the Russian invasion of Georgia) the admonition of Pres. T. Roosevelt to "walk softly and carry a big stick."

President Reagan understood the necessity of maintaining a military superiority, including a missile defense system (Star Wars). Most historians now credit his approach to bringing down the old USSR by maintaining superior military strength and forcing the Soviets into virtual bankruptcy by trying to keep up with our Capitalist economy. President Reagan would talk to our enemies, but when the Russians wanted him to abandon "Star Wars," he told them to take a flying leap.

If anyone ever doubted the need for our next President to have experience in the areas of defense and foreign affairs, surely this latest incursion on a free people by the Russians should cause them to think twice.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Relief Awaits Us

As we wade into the "dog days of August" and the inevitable increase in political ads, relief awaits us in coverage of the Olympics, followed immediately by the beginning of football season. Fall has replaced Spring as the time when hope springs eternal in the hearts of sports fans. Baseball's spring training used to be the primary pool of optimism from which fans of perpetual losing teams drank for renewed resolve(Major league baseball cut its own throat, but that's a subject for another day). Today, football, whether high school, college or pro, reigns as king. Regardless of the sport, though, beginning of a new season brings prospects for success in the hearts of fans of every team. And, whether a sports fan or not, you've got to admit that the Olympics and football can go along way toward giving us a needed break from the August heat and babbling political pundits." Go Sooners, Cowboys, Panthers and Team USA!

Monday, August 4, 2008

And The Political Games Continue While American Await Action

Is there absolutely no conscience among politicians? In response to continued concerns about energy being expressed in polls by potential voters, today we hear Sen. Obama calling for offshore drilling (after being totally opposed just a couple of weeks ago) as well as more initiatives on all energy fronts, all of which have been put forth by Republicans and blocked by Demos for years. On the other side of the isle, Republicans today showed up on Capital Hill, despite being in recess, demanding that the Speaker of the House call the Congress back into session to continue working on energy solutiions. Republicans know full well that even if the President calls them back into session, the Speaker could and would immediately call for another recess. Both parties seem willing to do anything for a sound bite, including continuing to insult the voters' intelligence. At least there is some comfort in knowing that the politicians care enough about voters' opinions to try and pull the wool over our eyes. Wouldn't it be easier to just do what needs to be done for the greater good of the Nation?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

More Media Bias--Perhaps the Straw That Breaks The____________!

This morning I was greeted by a story from the McClatchy Newspaper chain with the following headline and subhead: "Broad Resume May Not Equal A Strong Leader" and "Some presidents with the most experience were the least effective. " The premise of the story was that American voters should not be concerned with Sen. Obama's lack of experience (to clarify, I have said Sen. Obama has about one and one-half years experience in the Senate. That's because while he has, in fact, been elected about 3.5 years, he has, in fact, missed almost half of the votes and has never chaired a major committee. Furthermore, he has never served in the military and has never run a business). On the other hand, Sen. McCain has 26 years in the Congress and has chaired multiple major committees in the House and Senate. Furthermore, he was a decorated naval aviator and graduate of the Naval Academy.

The basic premise of the story is that experience doesn't really count for much in choosing a president. This story is probably the most ludicrous insult ever perpetrated on the intelligence of Americans by our highly prejudiced media. It is an obvious response to the growing concern over Sen. Obama's lack of experience in recent poll results. What better way do you make a logical and considered judgement about how a person is likely to perform in the future those tasks for which they are being considered today, whether for an elected position or for a job you are trying to fill in your business. Duh--that's why we all have to submit resumes just to get the opportunity for a job interview. How else can you judge whether or not a candidate (for job or office) is even qualified, let alone someone you really want to hire or elect? Should we be dumb enough to base our decision solely on their rhetoric and ignore performance or lack thereof?

This is truly one of the most blatant attempts by a political candidate to spin a negative into a positive by using a lackey hack journalist to carry his water with the ridiculous notion that experience doesn't really matter--now that really burns my butt! I may not be the sharpest knife, but I sure as hell didn't ride into town on a watermelon wagon, nor did most of the American public.

Have a good rest of your Sunday.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Journalistic objectivity Is Sadly A Laugh

This may sound like one of those "I used to walk to school in the snow" stories. Or, an all too typical "old coot" telling how great it used to be. I hope not. I'll apologize upfront if I seem over zealous about this subject, but it's truly too important to ignore ( obviously, it's on my list of those things that really chap my butt).

Whatever happened to objective, unbiased journalism--the kind that was drilled into our heads by the faculty at The University of Oklahoma Journalism school back in the late 50's and early 60's? Part of the answer might lie in the name of the school--journalism, not today's genre of "mass communications" or "broadcast journalism," which in itself is too often a contradiction in terms. In my opinion, most broadcast news folks today are simply 'talking heads," or personalities, if you will. Most are not trained journalists and far too many couldn't write their own story if their life depended on it. The main requirement is for them to look pretty or handsome, have a pleasing personality, be able to read aloud and sound like they know what they're talking about when they don't have a clue. It's increasingly become a world of 60-second sound bites designed to entertain and garner higher ratings. Even if they are able to think for themselves, 30, 60 or even 120 seconds for a story is hardly time to develop enough facts with which a viewer or listener can come to an intelligent decision.

However, the problems brought about by lack of journalistic training and limited time in which to develop a story are only part of the issue. These faults are truly exaccerbated by a plethora of biased reporting and a propensity to use sources based on their interview abilities to shock and entertain rather than on their qualifications as being expert on the issue at hand. Unfortunately, such sins are equally shared by broadcast and print reporters alike.

Let's look at some examples, and there's no better time to do so than during the political season. Let's go back to the energy issue for a moment, whether we're talking about gasoline prices or oil company profits, we're treated by the media to such experts as Sen. Chuck Schulmer and his idiotic diatribes which I've previously discussed, Sen. Obama whose qualifications include a total of one-half of one year in the U.S. Senate following duty in the Illinois state legislature, a gaggle of movie stars and, if we're lucky, insight from Oprah who at least has some business experience to go along with her political bias. One thing you don't get are offsetting interviews with academic and industry energy experts--and God forbid they might even include folks from other countries to discuss this global issue.

This morning, I found a story on page 16 of the local McClatchy newspaper about alleged indiscretions by John Edwards, FORMERLY mentioned frequently by our media friends as a potential running mate for Sen. Obama. I couldn't help but wonder what page the story would have been on had it been about one of the Republican hopefuls. I saw a survey the other day from one of the media watchdog groups which track the amount of air time given the Presidential candidates. I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear that this group found Sen. Obama with a substantial lead in coverage, both broadcast and print. When asked about this, I couldn't believe the defense offered by one of the major networks--"the reason is because he is the first black nominated by a major party to run for president--that's very newsworthy." Well, I don't disagree that's newsworthy, but the last I checked, John McCain is the first former POW to be nominated by a major party as their presidential candidate and one of the oldest. The three major networks sure as hell didn't send their evening news anchors with him on his multiple trips to the war zone. Have you noticed that when Sen. McCain, a highly decorated veteran with strong military educational credentials and years of Senate exposure to defense issues says that the surge in Iraq is working, he is labeled by the media as a "Bush lackey." On the other hand, when Sen. Obama, with no military experience and a half a year's total experience in the Senate, refuses to concede that the surge has worked despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, his qualifications for such an opinion are never questioned.

I can give you more examples than you have time or the desire to read, so let me leave you with just one thought. Do yourself a favor and don't believe everything you hear on television or read in the newspapers, particularly when the "authorities" quoted are without qualifications. Seek multiple sources of information, not to mention applying some good old common sense to what you read and hear. Demand facts to back opinions and question the motives of those being touted as "experts."

Sorry for the length and rambling style of this pontification.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Demo Congress Still Pointing Fingers Instead Of Solving Energy Problem

Senator Chuck Schulmer, Democrat from New York, today lambasted Exxon for record profits, implying that the Company's financial success was harming Americans. Sen. Schulmer raked Exxon over the coals, saying that the Company was going to be using their profits to buyback stock to increase their share price rather than using it for exploration. Since when did it become a sin in America to increase the value of the owners investment in a company? Perhaps the good senator doesn't realize we are a capitalist nation with a free enterprise economy. Perhaps he doesn't know that Exxon is owned by its shareholders, not some monolithic owner or small group of managers. Perhaps he doesn't know who Exxon's shareholders are. Before he criticizes increasing the value of their investment, perhaps he should realize that tens of thousands of his constituents help comprise Exxon's shareholders (or ownership) and is an important way by which they are able to increase personal wealth by which they buy houses, pay for their children's education, buy medical insurance, feed their families and,, yes, help offset the cost of gasoline. No senator, Exxon's profits are not just helping the wealthy, they are part of the savings of vast "middle income" America, through their ownership in 401-K's, IRA's, mutual funds, union and corporate pension funds etc. And guess what, senator, where in the hell do you think the taxes come from that you and your colleagues so willingly spend--that's right, in significant part from taxes paid by investors(shareholders) who have made a profit on their investments. Senator Schulmer, you're either terribly ignorant or you're purposely misleading your consitituents for political purposes in this election year. In either case, it's inexcusable.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

continuedpolitical nonsense about energy

MSNBC reported today that President Bush has called for increased drilling for oil and gas. Pres. Bush may have other faults, but a lack of knowledge about the oil and gas business is not one of them. He knows that new drilling will not impact crude oil and natural gas supplies quickly. His motive, no doubt, is to try and further dampen speculation in futures trading by raising the posssibility of increased production (most traders don't understand how long it takes to get new production on line and through the refining process). On the other hand, Democratic leaders responded by saying that oil companies already own thousands of acres which have not been drilled and , therefore , don't need any additional acreage made available. Of course oil companies own thousands of acres of lease rights which have not been drilled--that's because geological testing, as well as test wells, did not indicate economically viable opportunities, other wise they would certainly have begun exploration/drilling operations on this acreage. Do these Congressional Demos really think there is commercial oil reserves under every acre of drilling rights owned? How naive, or is this just another case of partisan politics?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Epilogue--more energy

Another thought on energy and politicians. All polls show that gasoline prices are the biggest issue with voters. It has been interesting to watch several Democrats ,who previously opposed any increased offshore exploration, react to the polls by changing their tune--now they're saying maybe we should consider it. What burns my butt is that they are so ignorant about energy that they believe(or they're lying and think the American public doesn't know any better) you can reduce gasoline prices by starting more drilling. The fact is, it takes two to three years to bring a new well onto production (assuming it's not a dry hole) and it takes many years to add new refining capacity. Unfortunately, we can't just drill our way out of this issue, either in the near term or ever.

Our energy "crisis"--same old problem-no plan

The last major energy "crisis" manifested itself in long gasoline lines during the Carter presidency. That was actually a supply problem caused by a lack of crude oil coming from the Middle East. It was "solved" when the Saudis decided to increase production because they were losing cash flow. Today's energy "crisis" is manifested by higher gasoline prices. Unlike before, there is gasoline available, it just costs more. Why? Forget what the politicians and broadcast journalists say (it's an election year--besides, they don't have a clue anyway). Simply put, three things are causing higher prices. (1)Oil is a finite global resource. Demand is growing globally due in large part to the rapidly increasing middle class in previously underdeveloped countries such as China and India. The United States' demand is also increasing, but we have not replaced our own petroleum reserves with new production in over three decades--thus we have been and continue to be increasingly reliant on oil imports. Bottom line--demand is increasing faster than supply. (2) The greatest impact on current gasoline prices in the U.S., however, is due to a lack of new refining capacity, which has not been added to any degree in decades (primarily because of costs associated with EPA clean air requirements--that's not all bad, just a fact). Finally, (3) there has been some impact (though limited) on gas prices because of investor speculation that oil prices would continue to increase(You can see evidence of this in the recent decline in gas prices following President Bush's repeal of a prior executive order prohibiting oil exploration in certain areas of the U.S. As a result, speculators were concerned that this might result in increased production in the U.S. and thus increase supply and put downward pressure on global oil prices, so they have backed off somewhat on investing in crude oil futures).

The rise in gas prices over recent months simply reflects supply and demand for crude oil and refined petroleum products (gasoline). It is not a conspiracy by the oil companies. Rather, it is simply the global marketplace at work. What can you do about it? In the short term, drive less and be sure your investments (401-K, IRA, mutual funds, etc ) include energy stocks--this will help offset some of the pain from higher gas prices.

The real issue is much bigger than gasoline prices--it is a lack of a legitimate and complete national energy policy designed to reduce the U.S.'s dependence on foreign oil as our primary energy source and increase our development and use of renewable sources, such as wind, etc., as well as new oil and natural gas exploration. No one source by itself will solve the problem.

My old boss, T. Boone Pickens, has such a plan. Ding it up --The Pickens Urge your Congressman to support Boone's plan or something similar. Most importantly, we must all hold the White House and Congress accountable for passing a viable energy policy that will put aside political gamesmanship and irrational finger pointing at others, such as the oil companies.

Our energy crisis is much bigger than the current "hub bub" about gasoline prices. Our nation's and children's future is at stake. There has been nothing but lies, ignorance and silence by our Congress since our first energy "wakeup" call during the Carter administration. Americans should deliver a strong message this election year to candidates and incumbents alike--cut the partisan BS and give us a viable energy policy or we'll vote your a_ _ out!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


A final thought. Just to set the record straight. I was kidding about my daughters and wife confining their current event knowledge to People magazine. Actually they are quite intelligent, well informed and most capable of thinking for themselves--we just don't always agree.



My three grown daughters and wife insist that I find another audience for my "rantings." Why I don't know, because they have always said that I think I know everything. That simply is not true. When I don't know anything about a subject, I am the first to say that I don't know. Granted that doesn't happen often, because I am a voracious reader and connoisseur of current events. They, on the other hand, remain embarrassingly void of current event knowledge unless you count the contents of People magazine.

In the spirit of fair disclosure, permit me to tell you a little about myself. I am known as Pops by my children, grandchildren and wife. I am 67 years young, retired after a 38 year career in corporate America, including "tours" of duty in the oil (I spent most of my life in Oklahoma and Texas), building materials and packaging industries. I am a journalist by education and a corporate communicator by profession.

Politically, I describe myself as an economic conservative, a social moderate and an ardent believer in maintaining a strong defense. I am a registered Republican but have had strong issues with the Grand Old Party since it abdicated control of its destiny to the ultra right wing led by Newt and his gang. In college at the University of Oklahoma I was a member of the Young Democrats or as we used to be called--Dixiecrats. With the nomination of George McGovern, I lost all respect (yet to be regained) for the party of Jefferson and Jackson. You will find that my positions range across the gamut of political opinion, ranging from Populist to liberal to conservative. Frankly, I don't like labels. What I do like are people who form their political opinions based solely on facts and not emotions. I do not suffer fools lightly. I do like people who can think for themselves and ,given "the facts," come to an intelligent conclusion. I admire those who can change their minds when the facts change . I despise political demogogues, whatever their party might be.

Although my musings will cover far more than politics (better be ready for some Sooner football), this is the area I will start with first as it is timely. The next time we visit, again in the interest of full disclosure, I'll give you my list of things that really chap my butt in this season of lies, half truths, promises that are impossible to keep and statements about the need for change without ever defining what the term means.

You may not agree with me, and frankly I don't care. I'll feel accomplished if I can just challenge your thinking or get you to start thinking at all. Finally, let's don't take each other so seriously that we miss a little humor or tongue in cheek when it comes our way. No subject will be off the table. And if rants against radio and television evangelists and other charlatans trying to get into the pocketbooks of seniors are going to offend you, it would be wise to find another blog.