Since there isn’t much that the government can do about the price of international oil in the short term, responses to price spikes usually follow a predictable template with slight variations for party. Get tough on OPEC, draw down the Strategic Reserve, drill ANWR (usually GOP), combat price gouging (Dem). New ideas come along once in a while, but I don’t think I have ever seen a move as dumb as Bill Frist’s recent proposal to essentially give everybody a hundred bucks.
This move was classic Frist. While you can see the underlying logic (people are spending more and a little cash will help them out) every detail simply came out wrong. Which Republican constituency does Frist think that he is going to please? To the religious right this looks suspiciously like a few dozen pieces of silver, especially after (from their perspective) an insultingly weak show of delivering “family”-friendly legislation. Neocons would see it as money that could be spent bombing Iran and I don’t have to explain why the idea of running up debt for a (literal) government giveaway would make your average paleoconservative livid. Try to imagine the sedatives that it must have taken to calm down Grover Norquist. [Update: oh yeah, ordinary people were insulted that the government wants to give them money while ignoring the underlying problems].
From the above link, some quotes show how deeply Frist’s idea tanked:
House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called Frist’s rebate proposal “insulting.”
“Over the weekend I heard about it from my constituents a few times,” Boehner added. “They thought it was stupid.”
Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, disavowed it, too.
“The 100 rebate? That was never my idea,” he said.
Looking at the basic advantages of Bill Frist’s position it seems amazing how he cannot win. Frist unquestionably made the miscalculation of his life over Schiavo, he got outmaneuvered by a rebel moderate faction over the nuclear option (although debate persists over whether he actually had the votes), Harry Reid ate his lunch over the stalled intelligence investigation, he blew a major counterattack in the ethics wars and now this.
The GOP has earned a reputation for its skill at managing the convoluted strategery and wheels-within-wheels that is DC politics. Folks like Tom DeLay and Karl Rove are undeniably good at what they do, as long as by ‘what they do’ you mean consolidating power rather than governing. I understand that rising to the status of Majority/Minority Leader is a long, brutal process that selects for people who have an extra bit of politicking mojo, and in that context you have to wonder whether Bill Frist is the best that Republicans have to offer. Think about it this way; during the Lott-Frist transition the latter was rumored to have the President’s ear in a way that Lott never did. That would make Frist more of a Bush nominee, in which incompetent-but-loyal mold he fits quite well, than the winner of a Darwinian contest among a tough field of operatives.
For me the saddest part of Frist’s story is that he seemed like a decent enough guy at the beginning. He supported medical research and opposed the kind of theocratic nonsense that got him in trouble in 2005. But when the presidential bug bit Frist’s efforts to rally the base to his side came across as calculated and insincere, hamfisted and in the end disappointing to practically everybody. If you don’t believe me check the next online straw poll. Unless John McCain shoots a judge and eats a baby Frist will come in dead last, again.
Frist’s idea caught my attention when I saw it wasn’t an advance on next year’s tax refund like in 2001, but an actual grant.
This is what I call a move in the right direction, and definitely the most progressive tax proposal from either party since I started paying attention.
Now, if they just make it a $20,000 grant instead of a $100 one, and raise taxes commensurately, then we’ll basically be farther along in the socialist revolution game than any other first-world country. Solidarity, Dr. Frist.
(By the way, in case you want to read more about this tax policy, the rest of the world calls it a ‘demogrant.’ Here’s the Green Party of Canada’s proposal for demogrants as the way to communism.)
Nobody liked this idea, but I really don’t agree with any of Tim’s analysis here. I think everyone basically looked at this as a refund check from the government, and their reaction was like “that’s only a couple tanks of gas, why don’t they fix the problem instead?” I’d really be surprised if any religious person saw it like the Judas story, if any neocon said “that’s money drained from the war budget!” or if any paleocon opposes the general concept of giving people back some of their money. Let’s not confuse anti-tax activists with deficit hawks.
I just don’t think Frist is a particularly good politician. IMO, he and Howard Dean both have that arrogant medical doctor persona which just doesn’t play well in Peoria or work well in situations requiring compromise or persuasion.
You raise a good point, except the misguided belief that the government can “fix” the law of supply vs demand with regards to oil prices is what got Frist into trouble in the first place.
Frist is truly an embarassment
The Other Steve
To be fair. Ted Stevens did propose, as an alternative, building a new chain of bridges connecting all of the Aleutian Islands together.
Said Stevens, “It may not make oil cheaper, but it’ll sure make Alaska happy.”
The Other Steve
Don’t you think that if the government is responsible for breaking the supply chain, they ought to be able to help try to fix it?
Then again, it could be that they broke the supply chain purposefully, solely to drive up oil prices so as to help their oil barrons out. Kind of like how Opec every once in a while restricts production to boost their earnings. Hard to say, I wasn’t there when Dick Cheney talked to them about an Energy Plan.
Are you referring to their govt legislated requirements on refining such as certain minimum percentage of ethanol? What break of the supply chain are you talking about?
I admit by now that I’m completely copying a Crooked Timber post, but Darrell, I don’t think that’s what got Frist in trouble. His proposal, though mockable, at least did not do anything to try to address the ‘problem’ of a functioning oil market. Since doing nothing is good policy, and appearing that you are doing something is good politics, it seems like a win-win.
But then, I’m a liberal and I’m supposed to get excited about extremely progressive tax policies like flat grants to everyone below an income cap.
You could ‘tweek’ it however by raising CAFE standards, or taxes at the pump, or emitions standards. In other words clapping down on the demand side of things. I’m in favor for this even though it will hurt the economy, because IMO a controlled burn is safer than an uncontrolled one.
What makes you think McCain’s going to win? The theocons he’s sucking up to will tease him for awhile and then shift all their support to someone like George Allen.
As for Frist being Majority Leader, the fact that he was an Inner Circle person of the Bush clan explains how he passed by more qualified and capable GOP senators and also explains why they’re not in a position to vote him out… unless, of course, the Republicans suffer a major electoral setback in November (unlikely) or he gets arrested (hey, what’s the latest word on that not-so-blind trust of his?)…
Except McCain has been Fristing away his middle ground position since January, trying to pander to the right with his “I *heart* Bush” routinee and salute to Falwell’s Zealot U, by giving a commencement speach there.
I’m beginning to wonder if there’s some sort of pill you swallow or helmet you have to wear or brain transplant you need to undergo before you can offically declare your candidacy for GOP nominee for President.
“I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty” .. oh, wait :)
Actually, I think most folks have a misguided belief about the concept of supply and demand when it comes to oil. The “supply” side of the equation is not the crude oil, where the prices are so high. The “supply” is the refined fuel. Our refining capacity in this country is simply too low for the amount we demand with our SUVs, Hummers, and suburbanites who have to drive 5 miles to just buy milk and Doritos.
No new oil refinery has been built in 30 years, and there’s a reason: the oil companies don’t want ’em:
If there is “collusion” among the Big Oil players, it does not have to do with the day-to-day price of gas. If that is all that Congress looks at, then they are avoiding the obvious problem. Oil companies have ensured that prices will remain high by making sure the supply of fuel is kept low due to insufficient refinery capacity.
The fact that they did so should surprise no one: why rely on the volatile crude market to determine your profits? Why not fix the game, so your profits are steady (and now, record)?
Boy, Darrell, you’re getting a lot more mileage out of Kerry not being president than any of us BDS case studies would ever have gotten out of Bush not being president if he’d lost.
Actually, that might give him some great cred with the base.
And think how much cred that would give him with the other side’s base. John McCain, maverick!
I didn’t mention McCain because I think he will win, I mentioned McCain because I expect him to come in somewhere around second-to-last. The only person whose sucking-up-to-the-base act looks nearly as calculated as Frist’s is McCain’s.
One of the reasons why we have a refinery shortage is the vertical integration that predominates throughout the oil industry. A vertically integrated company prefers to invest its capital in business segments that will generate a higher profit, rather than riskier and less profitable segments like refining. Meanwhile, the independent refineries haven’t been able to compensate for market vagaries, and they’ve largely been driven out of business.
MAX HATS, you so beat me to that one, nearly word for word.
The Other Steve
I am referring to a large number of things, largely having to do with US Foreign policy.
minimum percentages of ethanol are the least of our problems. It ranks somewhere slightly above a buggy whip shortage, and below drilling in ANWR in signifigance.
I thought it was a result of onerous permitting requirements coupled with NIMBY mentality. Refiners want to sell more product, but we’ve had a relatively sudden spike in demand with the Chinese and India demand soaring over the past few years.. and it will take time for refinery capacity to catch up
you may be correct, but I read that there are fewer areas to explore for new oil fields, exploration and production being the sexy big money rainmaker division for most of the big oil companies, so it stands to reason that with all the extra cash rolling in from high oil prices and no good exploration prospects to spend it on, that refining expansion would be a natural magnet for their investment dollars.
Regarding independent refiners, my guess is that one reason independent refiners have a tough time is that people perceive their no-name oil and gasoline products to be too risky to put in their car, and instead tend to go for the name brand refined products from one of the majors. However, I have noticed one “super refiner” which is not involved in exploration and production to my knowledge, and that’s Valero – they gobbled up Diamond Shamrock not that long ago. But refining does seem to be dominated by the major oil companies
Mit Romney will be the GOP nominee. And he will lose to Hillary.
don’t worry, as soon as the idea really hits the sh1tter ol’ frist and the goopers’ll figure out a way of blaming the whole thing on the dems anyway. “naw, it was their idea, not ours.”
worst thing is, the public’ll believe it. ooh, shiny…
I seriously doubt that HRC can win the nomination.
She is widely despised among Democrats.
Bob In Pacifica
Went up from 3.17 to 3.28 today. BOHICA
The Kerry comment was pretty funny.
That’s one of the problems. The other problem is that some of the major oil fields (Saudi ones especially) are on a decline and some of them may be depleted much more quickly because of the method of extraction. It’s an ugly problem and it’s only going to get worse with China and India wanting the same standard of living as the US.
In the short term the government shouldn’t do anything. If the government sticks its grubby paws into this it will only make things worse. In the long term the government should look for alternative fuel sources. The energy problem is not going away.
Now pardon me while I go bleach myself for agreeing with Darrell outside of a gun thread.
Bob in Pacifica,
Are you BOHICA on Kos? If so I remember you from the primary wars. I was involved in the Clark campaign during that time.
Valero’s made a killing in the refinery business. They were recruiting at UT, boosting profit margins to rival the big oil guys.
That said, oil companies have by-and-large realized we’re not getting any new sources of oil. Re-tapping old wells and drilling in untouched locations like ocean bottoms and ANWAR is a very short term solution for a very long term problem. Thus, there’s no real impetus to build more refineries when the global perception is we’re going to be drilling less oil.
Which brings us back to alternative energy sources. I still don’t see hydrogen being sold out of Exxon stations or Ford selling cars that run on pure bio-diseal.
This is for PPGAZ and anyone else with connections in Arizona; go to the website for Vote Solar for more information and links to the petition (I have a migraine and don’t feel up to trying to figure out the embedded link deal at the moment–please forgive):
Thanks Jess, good tip. They’ll address this while arranging for APS to get more of my money?
Darrell says, as he picks himself off the floor, you can hit me all you want to, but I don’t love you no more.
There’s going to be a lot of strange posts from this evening. I have to do something that I completely dread and I’m drinking up the gumption to do it.
I’m on meds at the moment, and my foggy brain can’t make sense of this–could you please explain? Or would that ruin the joke? (I doubt they’ll demand any more of your money than the illegal immigrant schoolchildren do…)
Hey, I feel your pain. Getting over the worst cold anyone in our family has seen in 15 or 20 years. Right here in Phoenix, beware.
APS is in the middle of getting a rate hike out of the Corporation Commission. That’s what I was referring to.
C’mon, Dougie, don’t be a tease–tell us all.
Breaking news from Darrell’s widely read “Darrell Energy Letter,” ladies and gentlemen.
It’s struck out here on the west coast as well–nearly a third of my students were out last week. So far I’ve survived…try the “crystal method”: several doses of crystal Vitamin C (mixed with a shot of juice to get it down) per day (not too much at a time, or your stomach will be very unhappy), plus lots of liquids. Scientific tests show it to be completely useless, but everyone I know who’s tried it, including me, has found it to work miracles. The trick is to start at the first hint that you might be fighting something off.
I’m supposed to cold call my friend’s pediatrician for some kind of a date. I don’t know this person and I’m dreading talking to her. You know how I feel about people.
The Other Steve
Really? I’m sometimes known as Steve4Clark over on dKos, having never really gotten around to having another good name long after the primary wars. Although ‘The Other Steve’ seems to work well and I’m keeping it.
I’m actually debating now what to do with the minnesota4clark domain name I have. If he’ll run again in ’08… Granted, there’s the Hillary factor which I think isn’t happening. Frankly, I can’t help but thinking Gore might get back in, maybe with Clark as VP. :-)
I’m a Clark fan myself.
The world is flat.
The Other Steve
Romney stands no chance. I also don’t think we’ll see McCain. Romney is too liberal, and McCain is really hated by the bulk of the Republican party.
Either would likely be better than Bush, which basically means the GOP won’t nominate them.
No, I’m betting on Zell Miller, Adolf Hitler, or Ghengis Khan.
If you were completely negative about calling her, you wouldn’t be so stressed–it’s the ambivalence that’s getting to you, right? Dread and hope go hand in hand…
The Other Steve
I’ve noticed he’s been spending some time in Iowa and New Hampshire lately. :-)
If you were completely negative about calling her, you wouldn’t be so stressed
Actually, I would. I’m too old to feel hope. My only emotions are dread and guilt. You’ll know what I mean some day.
Why guilt? Dread I can understand, but guilt?
Zell Miller. At least it would be a convention worth watching.
Dread I can understand, but guilt?
What kind of name is demimondian? You must be a WASP.
A pen name, of course.
Explain the guilt part to me, please? I’m just a poor stupid WASP, burdened by no more guilt than anyone who sold out his dearest ideals to feed his family.
Should we be cold-calling your friend’s pediatrician and warning her to not, under any circumstances, put the lotion on her skin?
Catholicism has it and to a certain degree Judaism as well. Protestantism, not so much. It is hard to explain.
TOS, I remember Steve4Clark. I can’t say much more without sacrificing anonymity, but I still get email from the Clark Action Team and a few other mover-and-shaker groups. I think that Wes Clark is one of the great guys kicking around today, although it was clear to me early on that his campaign was a loser. Freshman mistakes that I expect he will not make again.
Explain the guilt part to me, please?
Tim explained it pretty well, though I would rank guilty ethnicities this way: (1) Irish (2) jewish (3) non-Irish Catholics. Many Italians and Polish catholics are Republicans — being Republican involves a sociopathic lack of guilty feelings. I feel guilty about this in particular, because I just generally feel guilty.
Tim explained it pretty well, though I would rank guilty ethnicities this way
You forgot Alcoholics.
All too tame. I’m betting on the reincarnation of Pol Pot.
You could pretend to be someone else.
Can’t say as I disagree with you. Being French Catholic (lapsed), I feel guilty, and then shrug and say, “Eh. Life’s too short for that crap.”
I’m betting on the reincarnation of Pol Pot.
Why not? He’ll certainly change the tone of Washington. Though not as much as you would think.
I understand the whole ethnic guilt thing — even Protestants do have occasion to have close and personal relationships with people from the most stereotypically guilty groups, you know. :-) (Not to mention that I still manage to feel guilty about that six pack of beer, even though I know that I could solve the guilt with a simple phone call.)
What I don’t understand is why, in particular, DougJ should feel guilty in this particular case, except from enjoying the humility that goes with it. I’m thinking that it’s guilt of the form “Here I am, a successful mathematician with tenure at a major university, unable to summon up the cojones to cold call someone that I’ve been told would enjoy the call.”
[Of course, in my case, I’d ask my friend to set up a time that the pediatrician would expect your call. Then you’d know that the call was welcome, and not a true cold call. But I’m stupid that way. And shy.]
Cheney’s already Vice President.
Your ridicule makes me feel better, Demi, but you’re way off the mark. It’s not about cojones or lack thereof or anything of the sort. It’s about the inherent awkwardness of dealing with people you don’t know and the pre-emptive guilt of imagining that you’ll end up making inexplicable and unfair judgements against them.
Aha. That is different.
So your concern is with you not liking the person, perhaps because your mutual friend suggested that a phone call *would* be welcome? That makes a lot more sense. Let me think about that.
And as to ridicule…come off it. I don’t ridicule people except when I think they deserve it.
I’m sorry, but …. what the fuck are you two talking about?
It’s a mathematician thing, ppG. You wouldn’t understand it.
[If your question is serious, though, here’s my best explanation. I was trying to understand why someone would feel guilty about not making a cold call to set up a date. The best answer I could come up with was guilt for being scared of making the call. That is, I explained it through self-hateed.
DougJ pointed out a different concern, which I would write as “What if I call her and I don’t *like* her? What if she’s really pretty repulsive, and that’s why she’s sitting there waiting for me to call her?” Now, that’s a rational question, right? Well, no, of course not — the friend wouldn’t have set him up with her if he or she hadn’t thought they’d get along, so, in fact, that thought shows a lack of faith in the friend’s judgement and a prejudicial attitude towards the pediatrician. Now, that’s something to feel guilty about.]
No, you’re being too rational here, Demi. You’ve got to anticipate the strange and awful — what if the person says things like “as for you and I” or enjoys reading Tom Friedman’s columns or opposes extraditing Sting to the Hague?
What, like going to work tomorrow morning?
Besides, I oppose extraditing Sting to the Hague. I mean, what did the judges at the IWCT ever do to deserve that? I can see extraditing him to the UN General Assembly, though. Or perhaps to the Brussels to appear before the EC competition coucil.
Sting is a large part of the reason I can’t really criticize Rumsfeld and Cheney for backing Saddam Hussein in the 80s and calling for his death now. I’ve done the same exact thing with Sting.
That’s just dripping with spoofiness.
Besides, the column is not as bad as “The World is Flat.”
Maybe you’re the one being too rational–it’s the strange/awful/wonderful/hilarious surprises that keep your life from getting dim and grey. I’m eternally grateful to my ex-husband for teaching me to laugh at the trivial awfulness of normal human clumsiness. And to my cat for demonstrating a life lived without extraneous guilt. What is there to feel guilty for? This woman is who she is, you are who you are, and it’s not your responsibility to like her.
Gee, and I always thought that it was the end of winter here in the Puget Sound region….
Sting is the reason that I never managed to forget the movie _Dune_. There’s a wonderful scene where he steps out of a shower, and puts on this pose, which just oozes “God, I’m gorgeous, and I *know* it.”
It didn’t excuse the movie, which is just behind _Catwoman_ on my list of movies to watch when you’re dead. But it’s served as an awesome excuse for a lot of other things over the years.
Speaking of the strange/awful/wonderful/hilarious…my friends and I loved that movie–life would definitely be less colorful without such splendiferous absurdity. Funnier than any Steve Martin film, that’s for sure. We’re still wondering if it was meant to be a parody–what do you think, Demi?
And to my cat for demonstrating a life lived without extraneous guilt.
The Washington press corps demonstrated that kind of life to me. And, in fairness to your cat, he/she didn’t shamelessly pimp for a war that killed 50,000-100,000 people and then turn around and start pimping for another war. And I’m almost sure your cat never told George Stephanopolous that we should consider dropping nuclear bombs on Iran.
But maybe I just don’t know your cat.
Hmm. I don’t know — it was so…so…ponderous. I mean, I’m not the world’s great prose stylist, but even I would never write a line like “I’ve got to drink the water of life!” If it was meant as parody, then I think the screenwriters aren’t going to be giving Swift any real competition for a while…
Well, I wouldn’t put anything past the sadistic little beastie, actually. But notice that I wrote “extraneous” guilt–a capacity for appropriate guilt is a good thing; having it pop up like a jack-in-the-box whenever your preferences don’t match up with someone else’s is counterproductive. It’s all about knowing what you’re responsible for, acting on that responsibility, and letting the rest go. I realize I’m being preachy, but I’m always sad when good people make themselves miserable for no good reason. You do your bit for world peace–give yourself a break, my friend.
What’s funny is how much of the worst of the dialogue was straight from the book!
I like to get a pedicure.
Would this be an inappropriate time to bring up prison shower scenes?
There’s no inappropriate time to bring up prison shower scences.
OK, so you do you part for the world’s feet, then, and DougJ can do his part of world peace.
Would this be an inappropriate time to bring up the shower scene in _Starship Troopers_? I mean, in its combination of ridiculousness and fascist worship, I think it’s the right juxtaposition to Colbert…
In re: Dune, David Lynch made the point more than once that making that film was a horrible experience from Day One. Evidently, many of the best ideas in Lynch’s films are spur-of-the-moment inspirations he’d get while in the middle of a shoot… and whenever he tried that during Dune, some studio hack would dash up and say, “Uh, David, that’s, um, not on the storyboard.”
Actually, the only reason he took the Dune gig in the first place was because Dino Di Laurentiis dangled a too-juicy-to-resist carrot in front of him: if David made Dune, Dino would bankroll this script that Lynch had been shopping around for a decade, with zero success… a screenplay that had repulsed every studio exec who had taken a peek at it
The resulting film? Blue Velvet. Fate works in mysterious ways, friends…
demi – there’s never an inappropriate time to bring up anything. In fact, the more inappropriate the thought, the more appropriate it is to bring it up.
The centipede was happy, quite,
Until the frog in fun
Asked "Pray, which leg comes after which?"
Which raised his mind to such a pitch
He lay ditracted in a ditch
Considering how to run
[Demi retires in confusion. Besides, I need to write a presentation for 10 this morning.]
god, what an awesome thread.
Also, I nominate demimondian for POTD:
Would it be in appropriate to talk about men’s nipple in a prison shower scene?
(Sorry, trying to understand the rules before I mention spanking and handcuffs. [CALM DOWN, KRISTA!].)
The Other Steve
Honestly, Dune from the 1980s… I actually thought that was pretty good.
I mean compared to the Dune from the SciFi channel, I thought that original one had the appropriate level of insanity that existed in the original Herbert books. Plus the music was awesome.
Fear is the mind killer.
Ancient Purple – As my lovely, magnificent, and dementia-addled granny would say, “Chew me arse, wouldja?”
Ancient – Hm. Let me think about that. I’ll get back to you sometime in the next few decades, ok?
(Well met, by the way. I really should know better than to joust with you…)
There is also Protestant guilt; I’ve always called it Presbyterian Guilt, and I inherited it in spades from my grandmother. It is closely tied in with the protestant work ethic, and boils down to this: indulging in pleasure and idleness is wicked, since the time, money and effort could be better applied to improving yourself, working harder for your family and bettering the world.
But it’s a pretty quiet guilt. No one ever makes movies about it.
I’ve made that proposal before, and I’ve heard worse proposals:
Heck this was a no go from the beginning. Even Joe Scar was derisive.
The way I see it, there were at least two obvious problems with this proposal from the get-go: one, as solutions go, this isn’t–total non-sequiteur at best. And two, $100 doesn’t buy that much gas; we’re talking 2, 3, 4 tankfulls tops–9 months worth of gas taxes, and it wouldn’t last many people a week. It’s like that old joke–this food is horrible, and the portions are too small!
Weirdest. Thread. Ever.
New here, aren’t you?
yet another jeff
Even better is the “Help Senator Frist Fight Back” ad in the upper left corner of this page right now. Poor Frist, unfairly maligned with a big ad asking for support next to the thread.