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April 26, 2005

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The target price for oil when the current runup began was what, $25/barrel? So either the Saudis do not want to perform their traditional role of stepping up production in the face of rising prices, or they no longer have the ability to do so.

Neither of those is a good thing. The second, of course, would be much worse than the first...

As for the domestic policies that have made the situation worse, what exactly were you expecting last November?

they no longer have the ability to do so.

I can't cite anything, but I recall reading that they don't have much pumpiong capacity left. They've got all the oil, but a finite ability to get it out of the ground.

The question is, what does Bush promise in return for such favors? Quid pro quo and all that .

Well, maybe they don't have all the oil either...

But consistently trusting that someone or something is going to ride to our rescue when the going gets tough -- that China, for instance, will continue to lend us money to finance our growing deficit -- is not a policy. At least, it's no policy with which I want to be associated.

I just cannot resist pointing out that this is exactly the story of Bush's business career, and possibly other aspects of his life as well. He has been taught all his life that someone will ride to his rescue when needed, which has been often. How can this not affect his decision-making as President?

Wasn't it George Will who at GWB's first inauguration, proclaimed that the adults were back in charge of the country? This is the exact opposite of adults being in charge -- it's what you would expect if you left a bunch of teenagers in charge.

I find asking the Saudis for anything extremely distasteful. At the very least it could have been done with some American swagger and not so much hand-in-hand obsequiousness. This prince is responsibile for the culture that led to the murder of 3000 Americans. Perhaps Bush has no option but to deal with him, perhaps that humility I'm always criticizing him for not having is finally blossoming, but the photos of him holding Abdullah's hand make my teeth ache. Let's just hope he wasn't forced to give this tyrant a foot massage once they got out of camera range. ;-&

It's not just studied inaction, it's the creation of policies that completely, predictably produce the bad consequences that he then fails to do anything about. The deficit is one obvious example; the complete failure to even think about an energy policy that required any sort of serious conservation s another. In both cases we have left ourselves dependent on countries we should not be dependent on if it's at all avoidable, and I find the willingness of the assertive, in-your-face wing of the GOP to tolerate this inexplicable.

Adding to Bernard's post - having something save his *ss is the story of his first administration. After tax cuts for the rich, they had pretty much run out of ideas in '01. Then 9/11 happened, and Bush became ***BUSH!!!!!!!****

No I assumed any talk of getting Saudi help on oil prices was entirely for domestic consumption, because Bush wanted to be seen as caring and doing something.

Even if the Saudis could increase production, Chinese (and American,also rising) demand would increase in tandem, and prices would stay high or rise.

So why was Abdullah here? Which is a big deal, incidentally, von is misinterpreting. Well, whatever diplomatic stuff might be going on, Bush sent the message that it is production that controls prices....and has an energy bill full of goodies that hasn't made it thru Congress for years.

I'm a little curious to hear what conservation policy ideas y'all might have that have a fart-in-a-windstorm's chance of getting even a third of Congress behind it. Besides Energy Star, that is. Anyone?

I've got to say that even with oil price per barrel double what we'd like it to be, I don't see a perceptible increase in bicycle traffic. So we're not anywhere near the point of pain, yet.

So why was Abdullah here?

I'm wondering if perhaps we're trading assistance on our common problem for a little preferential sales.

I'm a little curious to hear what conservation policy ideas y'all might have that have a fart-in-a-windstorm's chance of getting even a third of Congress behind it.

I'd like to see a 60-day, 60-city tour by Bush, Cheney, and the MSM being encouraged to cover it, where townhall meetings were arranged to discuss ideas (any idea can be put on the table), for starters.

I just keep going back to D^2's question which is still, I believe, completely relevant

can anyone, particularly the rather more Bush-friendly recent arrivals to the board, give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:
  1. It is a policy initiative of the current Bush administration
  2. It was significant enough in scale that I'd have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
  3. It wasn't in some important way completely fucked up during the execution.
And then I just think of the one minute MBA...

Really guys. After the six or seventh thousandth time, who's the idiot?

What can we learn from Abdullah? How to be even more feckless?

I found it profoundly distateful to watch our president embracing someone who paid radicals to go somewhere else and teach their hateful doctrines. Someone who, in a real sense, was a major cause of 9/11, if only because the Saud family wanted to remain blissfully ignorant of the damage that their corruption and high-handed governing was causing to their country and the countries around them. Rather than overthrow Saddam for the Saud family, we should have overthrown the Saud family first. We would be better off dealing with la Cosa Nostra.

I'd like to see a 60-day, 60-city tour by Bush, Cheney, and the MSM being encouraged to cover it, where townhall meetings were arranged to discuss ideas (any idea can be put on the table), for starters.

It's hard to imagine who might have less of a clue about effective energy policy than any random bloke in 60 cities. Is there any particular reason you're leaning in this direction, Edward?

Yes...I think, by mirroring the effort put into selling private accounts, something any random bloke in 60 cities knows Bush really cares about, the administration would be sending a clear signal that it's serious about conservation.

I also believe that they could actually learn something, because it's mostly likely the citizens who actually care about conservation who would turn up (local heroes exist across the nation on this issue).

There's no way the Energy Star program on its own is going to signify any sincerity behind the administration's claims that it cares about conservation. Do a dog-and-pony show. At the very least, it will get people talking and thinking about it.

crionna, I'm sure the administration is aware of your link. After all, Simmons is part of the Energy Task Force.

Why is he there? Dunno. Perhaps bob mcmanus is correct.
Maybe a look at some of his clients might help.

Sevan Marine
Key Energy
Rowan

I link, you decide.

I just cannot resist pointing out that this is exactly the story of Bush's business career

Well, then it makes sense that Bush would be hand-holding with the Saudis now because they probably had the most to do with saving Bush's bacon during his early busines failures.

Yes...I think, by mirroring the effort put into selling private accounts, something any random bloke in 60 cities knows Bush really cares about, the administration would be sending a clear signal that it's serious about conservation.

Personal accounts is a sell; with energy policy you need a starting point. Where's the starting point?

There's no way the Energy Star program on its own is going to signify any sincerity behind the administration's claims that it cares about conservation.

Not saying it did. If I was, I'd be an idiot. Because, yanno, Energy Star's been around a lot longer than the Bush administration.

with energy policy you need a starting point. Where's the starting point?

Terrorism. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil so we can not have to kiss the feet of Arabian princes, call them on their sorrowful efforts to reform, and actually change the culture that led to 9/11.

We must conserve energy to promote Homeland Security.

No, no, Edward. Not why; there's several good reasons why. What conservation policies make sense, are effective and constitutional? How will they be implemented?

What conservation policies make sense, are effective and constitutional?

What part of a townmeeting where ideas are put on the table is confusing? Bush declared that although he thought private accounts were a good idea he was still willing to listen to all ideas. If you need a selling point, how about personal responsibility? Each gallon of gas you waste means we're tied to the hip for X (time period) longer with the Saudi's. Like selling conservation during the 70's...turn down your thermostat, don't drive if you don't have to, unplug applicances that you're not using, etc. etc. etc.

Slarti: why not start with raising the CAFE standards and cutting out the SUV loophole?

hmmm

I think you need something more widespread and personal though, hilzoy. Personal accounts would affect everyone. Something parallel (even if it ended up being shelved)...again, just to get the nation talking about conservation seriously.

"Slarti: why not start with raising the CAFE standards and cutting out the SUV loophole?"

Or subsidizing mass transit, instead of zeroing out Amtrak's budget? Or requiring double hulled oil tankers (to reduce oil lost due to spillage)?

I'm sure many other ideas will be proposed by the assembled readership.

Edward: I also believe that they could actually learn something, because it's mostly likely the citizens who actually care about conservation who would turn up (local heroes exist across the nation on this issue).

Yes, but you're forgetting that only the Republicans would be allowed in. That's the way Bush's town hall meetings work, as far as I can tell: if you didn't vote for Bush, he doesn't want to hear from you.

Yes, but you're forgetting that only the Republicans would be allowed in.

They'd have to let some Dem's in...it'd be a long, boring, mostly silent meeting if you only sought conservation ideas from the Rep's. ;p

sh*t...just saw the time...gotta run.

I get it Happy Jack. Very Interesting. Then again, the folks that say there's plenty of oil under SA have agendas too, no?

Slarti: why not start with raising the CAFE standards and cutting out the SUV loophole?

SUV loophole? How about cutting out the truck loophole? But sure, cut the SUV loophole. Augment Energy Star.

Or subsidizing mass transit, instead of zeroing out Amtrak's budget?

Or, cutting back Amtrack to just those sections of the country that it actually makes sense for Amtrak to serve. You know, the ones that operate near breakeven.

crionna- yes , I guess there's only so many subsidies/tax breaks to go around.

Not to mention that ADM is extolling the virtues of fuel cells. Heh. Indeed.

When an energy bill is on the docket, a dose of skepticism is in order.

Grandpa use to say, when the bacon's frying, it can be hard to tell who's a glutton and who's starving.

when the bacon's frying, it can be hard to tell who's a glutton and who's starving.

Heh, agreed. Important to know whose bacon is frying too.

How about updating 50 year old energy infrastructure to be more reliable and efficent? Encouraging building owners to paint their roof white to reduce A/C consumption? Requiring energy companies to upgrade old coal plants for clanliness and production? Requiring developers to make new subdivisions less sprawling and more designed to be lived in? Encouraging people to reinsulate their houses? There's so much wasted energy in the US, there's plenty of low hanging fruit to grab.

Heck, have the government buy X million CF lightbulbs, and give them out to people to use in their homes. Fund mass transit to even a tenth of the subsidies given to the airlines (many of whom are "losing money" and still raising CEO salaries and benefits, while laying off workers).

I found it profoundly distateful to watch our president embracing someone who paid radicals to go somewhere else and teach their hateful doctrines.

I am all for him holding hands with and kissing (only on the cheek so far) the Prince -- whatever it takes to get lower oil prices, right?

Encouraging people to reinsulate their houses?

In the interest of safety, I would like to mention that this could be dangerous. (30+ yrs of construction have I)

Older houses use an electrical wiring method called knob and tube. When you, for instance, blow insulation into the walls, or attic, you disallow the ability of the wire to dissipate heat, thereby possibly starting a fire.

Just something to keep in mind if you're planning on rehabbing an older home.

Jes: That's the way Bush's town hall meetings work, as far as I can tell: if you didn't vote for Bush, he doesn't want to hear from you.

It's worse than that: my understanding is that the latest round of town-hall meetings have been prescreened. Normally I'd assume that this just meant the questions were vetted for obscenities and the like; given the ludicrous levels of adulation ("Mr President, whatever plan you put forward, I'll support it 100%!" or whatever that quote was) I'm guessing that the pre-screening is rising to the level of pre-scripting.

Slarti: Or, cutting back Amtrack to just those sections of the country that it actually makes sense for Amtrak to serve. You know, the ones that operate near breakeven.

Break even in what sense, though? If we're serious about conservation, it might be reasonable to operate Amtrak at a fiscal loss in order to reduce pollution and energy consumption. That is, rather than merely trying to optimize the financial function, we should try to minimize energy consumption/pollution subject to moderate fiscal constraints.

And for a little perspective on the region, our probable best friend in the area, Prince Hassan of Jordan, presides over a country wherein a man who shot his sister twice in the head because someone else took her picture on a camera phone will likely face a maximum jail term of one year.

How about simply raising Gas Tax till a gallon goes for $5 (good for our budget & trade deficit), and raising registration fees on Gas Guzzlers (< 20 MPG) and reducing them on efficient automobiles, subsidsing solar & wind power.

ObOriginalPost: what hilzoy said. It's not just that the Administration spends its time in irrational optimism, to be polite about it, but that they do so about problems which their previous actions had predictably caused. It was no great mystery that cutting taxes and increasing expenditures would increase the deficit; it was no great surprise when Iraq began to melt down in the aftermath of Saddam's ouster; and yet the Administration did basically nothing except to perhaps exacerbate the situation -- by increasing expenditures, cutting taxes, eliminating the estate & gift tax, &c on the one hand; by refusing to acknowledge the gravity of the situation, by not training and deploying sufficient troops, by staffing the CPA with underqualified ideological appointments &c on the other -- "trusting" (I use the word loosely) that everything would turn out all right in the end because, well, because.

It's faith-based policy-making in the worst possible sense of the term: not policy guided by faith but policy blinded by it. It happens time and time again, too, viz Hal's point; I'm vaguely astonished that you can muster any surprise, von, because that's the Administration's MO and the electorate has rewarded them for it. Are you expecting them to change? If not, why is this more worthy of comment now than it was in the past?

And more pointedly: if you think this is a bad thing, and you intimate that it is, then what do you recommend we do about it?

via Atrios: this.

"It's faith-based policy-making in the worst possible sense of the term: not policy guided by faith but policy blinded by it. It happens time and time again, too"

I think it's worth remembering that the leadership of this administration comes from a philosophical and political tradition (Texan Republicanism) in which the government is perceived as unavoidably bloated, worthless, corrupt, and inefficient. This is probably one of those self-fulfilling prophecies, if people who believe that are given the reins of government.

Encouraging building owners to paint their roof white to reduce A/C consumption?

Who's going to keep the paint clean? Is paint that reflects heat the best thing to have in the winter?

Requiring energy companies to upgrade old coal plants for clanliness and production?

But they've got to do it all at once, because current laws don't allow incremental improvement. There's that law of unintended consequences again.

Requiring developers to make new subdivisions less sprawling and more designed to be lived in?

Nationwide? I think the states are just going to laugh at that one.

Encouraging people to reinsulate their houses?

Now, there's a decent idea. There used to be tax incentives for that, probably passed during the Carter, or Ford years. I think they're now gone. I know I took advantage of energy tax credits way back when.

If we're serious about conservation, it might be reasonable to operate Amtrak at a fiscal loss in order to reduce pollution and energy consumption.

In the sense that we really ought to not run lines that are running at a major loss. Meaning, there's minimal ridership. I don't think there's any kind of rational balance that can justify keeping branches going that few people are riding.

How about simply raising Gas Tax till a gallon goes for $5 (good for our budget & trade deficit)

That's sure to just sail through the House.

That's sure to just sail through the House.

Your guys are in Power, they have the house, the senate and the Presidency, here their chance to make up for all the f*ck-ups that have occured under their leadership! With great power comes great responsabilities!

Not that I expect them to offer any leadership in anything other than giving away the store to their contributors and shafting the middle class, working class and the poor!

OK, let's try some more. A little more Republican-themed this time...

* Tax credits for R&D on energy-efficient or energy-saving designs. [Not sure how to do this as corporate taxation sure ain't my thing.] If such tax credits exist, increase them.

* Tax credits for ownership of fuel-efficient vehicles. I'd like to give some kind of further credit to people who get better mileage or drive less far or whatever, but I don't think the civil liberties angle permits it.

* Remove the SUV loopholes in emissions standards etc. The sooner we nip this in the bud -- well, in the flowering by this point -- the better.

* Incentive less sprawl and greater non-automotive accessibility. For example: add 10% to the Federal grants to a state's highway budget if enough road networks meet certain denseness/compactness/openness criteria. [I'd like to do this by city, obviously, but I don't think the Feds can reach down that far.]

And one entirely-not-Republican-themed proposal:

* Have President Bush use the power of the bully pulpit to campaign for a gas tax, say $1/gallon, whose proceeds will be used to fund a massive campaign -- in both the Federal government and the private markets -- to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, oil in general, and the regimes that supply us with it. Assuming any reasonable amount of overhead (say 3 cents on the gallon?) earmark half of what's left to energy conservation and independence, and the other half to WoT operations, diplomacy, supplies for the troops, reconstruction aid &c.

Your guys are in Power

And they answer to their constituency. Who's going to vote themselves a $3 a gallon gas tax? Serious question, here.

Have President Bush use the power of the bully pulpit to campaign for a gas tax, say $1/gallon, whose proceeds will be used to fund a massive campaign -- in both the Federal government and the private markets -- to reduce our dependence on foreign oil

A tax whose proceeds don't do anything to solve the problem is much harder to swallow, Anarch. But let's not stop there. How about corporate tax breaks for companies that facilitate, encourage and actually accomplish incremental decreases in net per capita fuel usage? Dunno how you'd measure that, though. Still, wouldn't it make it easier to bike to work if you had bike racks, a locker room, and maybe even a relaxed dress code?

"Or, cutting back Amtrack to just those sections of the country that it actually makes sense for Amtrak to serve. You know, the ones that operate near breakeven."

As opposed to all of the highways which we subsidize by having hundred of billion dollar highway maintenance and building projects?

A tax whose proceeds don't do anything to solve the problem is much harder to swallow, Anarch.

That's true but I don't see its relevance. The stated aim of the tax is three-fold (or one piece of origami): to reduce dependency on foreign oil, to extricate ourselves from the political sinkhole of the Middle East and to reduce dependence on oil, period. The tax I suggested explicitly targets all of those. I'm not seeing the problem here other than the fact that it hasn't a chance in hell of passing, hence the "bully pulpit" angle.

How about corporate tax breaks for companies that facilitate, encourage and actually accomplish incremental decreases in net per capita fuel usage?

Sure, but wtf does that mean? It's not just a matter of quantification but also of causation; how do you determine that company A caused the reduction in net per capita usage instead of merely being proximate?

Still, wouldn't it make it easier to bike to work if you had bike racks, a locker room, and maybe even a relaxed dress code?

That's certainly true and that is something that can be incentivized (or even outright mandated if need be, a la the ADA). Other things that can help would be better bike paths and more pedestrian access; as a lifelong pedestrian -- no car and not allowed to drive -- I'm keenly aware that the modern United States wasn't built for those who walk or bike. The problem again is that the Federal government can't really force the kind of local, small-scale governance necessary to enact this sort of thing.

That's true but I don't see its relevance.

Maybe a smiley-face would have been the thing.

Ah :)

And they answer to their constituency. Who's going to vote themselves a $3 a gallon gas tax? Serious question, here.

People who would rather pay a little extra now rather than see their children get sucked into another Iraq like quagmire as we try to get control or keep control of some foreign oil fields.

Iraq so far as cost 300 Billion, over 1500 Dead and over 12000 wounded, not counting the people who have been so psychologically damaged that the rest of their lifes will be a living hell.

Paying three dollars a gallon now rather than seeing my son come back from some third world shit hole without a couple of limbs or in a casket sounds like a damn good deal!

I'm not asking whether you would be willing to pay extra, I'm asking whether you think maybe half the voting public feels the same way. And if you think that, what basis you have for thinking that. Pretty simple question, I think.

I'm not asking whether you would be willing to pay extra, I'm asking whether you think maybe half the voting public feels the same way. And if you think that, what basis you have for thinking that. Pretty simple question, I think.

I have no idea as to what the voting public thinks, or that it thinks for that matter. They voted for Shrub after having seen every social indicator get worse under his watch and after seeing him lie to start a war of aggression against a defenseless state that has cost over 1500 US lives, 12000 wounded and possibly as many as 100,000 Itraqi lives.

But obviously anything is better than a war hero, former prosecutor, or Senator!

But obviously anything is better than a war hero, former prosecutor, or Senator!

I think the message is that Kerry was such an abysmally bad choice that Bush was able to beat him. Kucinich would have been worse, and if they'd put up Kennedy I think Pat Buchanan might have had a fighting chance against him.

I think the message is that Kerry was such an abysmally bad choice that Bush was able to beat him. Kucinich would have been worse, and if they'd put up Kennedy I think Pat Buchanan might have had a fighting chance against him.

And now the US is going to get the f*cking that it rightfully deserves.

How many Presidents were voted out of office during a war?

And who thinks Rove and Bush kept that historical obsevation, in mind?

I'm a little late to Slarti's question:

I'm a little curious to hear what conservation policy ideas y'all might have that have a fart-in-a-windstorm's chance of getting even a third of Congress behind it. Besides Energy Star, that is. Anyone?
but here goes. Others have mentioned some of the incentives that were put in place during the "energy crisis" in the '70s. Reinstating some of these would probably fly, such as the tax credits for cogeneration plants.

Really, though, the biggest gains are usually made by targeting the biggest problem. Since transportation related consumption is the largest single category it makes sense to focus there. I think that a gasoline tax increase, closing the truck/SUV loophole, or toughening the CAFE standards have no chance of getting through Congress. Things that may have a chance are the sorts of incentives that were tried in the late '70s and early '80s. These could include various tax breaks for companies that: modernize their fleets with higher efficiency vehicles, provide company owned or sponsored vanpools, actively promote telecommuting, etc. Ideally there would also be a phase in of tax increases that target energy consumption, but I'm not deluded enough to believe that will happen.

I don't recall that being a campaign plank, DQ. Call it a perk.

A step in the right direction?

I'm keenly aware that the modern United States wasn't built for those who walk or bike.

Yeah, back when I was walking to school, it occurred to me that crosswalks are placed at the point of maximal danger to the pedestrian -- it would make much more sense from a pedestrian's POV to put them in the middle of each block instead of at the corners (though of course increasing the # of potential stops for cars). Anyway, this was my rationalization for my regular jaywalking.

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