Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Obama and Energy

What’s new Today

Story #1looks to the claim of the President that there isn’t a silver bullet for gas prices.  #2 Looks at last night’s primary and asks the question “Is it over?”  #3 gives you another example of the left’s desperation not to talk about the economy, the deficit, etc.  #4 and #5 are SCOTUS stories with the first being about Obamacare and the second being a ruling curtailing the EPA.  # 6 looks at the politics of the latest Obama on vacation and #7 posits that the solution to our problems may lie in federalism.  Finally #8 looks at Obama’s effect on oil and gas in the country and the cost of both. 

1.   API President:  There is a Silver Bullet

President Barack Obama could lower gas prices by opening up more federal land and offshore areas for oil drilling, American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said Tuesday.

Gerard, on a conference call with reporters, argued that Obama is misguided in saying “there’s no silver bullet” to combat high world oil prices or rising prices at the pump.

“We strongly disagree, and so do most Americans,” said Gerard, who heads the industry organization.

He cited a $16-per-barrel drop in oil prices in 2008 after after President George W. Bush announced he would lift a moratorium on offshore drilling.

“That was a signal to the marketplace: Help is on the way,” Gerard said.

The price of oil is a function of supply and demand, but it is also a function of the outlook for future supplies.  Obama could easily help the situation.

2.  Is it over?

There are three ways to look at the GOP nominating contest now that Mitt Romney has won Illinois. The first is summarized by Alex Massie in a headline earlier today: “Illinois Votes; Mitt Romney Wins; Race Still Over.” A second is to insist that, while Romney is on track to win the nomination, it’s unwise to assume anything until he has mathematically won a majority of delegates. I’d adopt the third approach, which is to look at the road ahead and assess whether there is a plausible—not just possible, but plausible—way for Romney to lose the nomination.

And looking at the calendar and the resources available to Romney and Santorum, it’s just irrational to deny Romney’s got this wrapped up. It comes down to the delegate math: Despite his various missteps, Romney has been steadily winning a majority of the delegates awarded. According to CNN’s reasonable count, Romney went into Illinois with 521 delegates, out of the 966 awarded. Romney needs 1,144 delegates—an absolute majority of those who will vote at the Convention in late August—to decisively clinch the nomination.

And the upcoming contests don’t give Santorum a chance to catch up, or to prevent Romney from reaching the magic number. Last week, the wizards at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball looked at the contests pending through the end of April: Their “guesstimate” of the most likely delegate split in this series was Romney 268, Santorum 117—and this was conceding Louisiana and Pennsylvania wins to Santorum. Looking at the other states—D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Wisconsin, New York, and Rhode Island)—it’s hard to think of a scenario where Santorum could win significantly more than the lopsided minority Sabato suggests. Taking that into account, April could put Romney so close to the magic number of 1,144 delegates that the rest of the race would be a formality…

There was an article this past week that even if Newt dropped out of the race, his supporters would split between Santorum and Romney.   Looking at the result of Illinois, it appears that many of Newt’s supporters have already move to their second choice.  I was one of those people with Newt being my first choice, but being perfectly happy with Mitt Romney. 

3.  Desperate Democrats Distract With Smears

The Democrats’ attack on Rush Limbaugh hasn’t turned out the way they had hoped. The blowback, in the form of conservatives pointing out the outrageous conduct of liberals like Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann, has dwarfed the original reaction against Rush. Worse, the blowback continues. So Democrats are now in the position of trying to shut down the conversation about civility and misogyny that they opportunistically started.

Last night on the Hannity Show, Sean Hannity asked Democratic operative Bob Beckel whether President Obama should return the $1 million his PAC received from Maher. Beckel responded by trying to change the subject–no surprise there–but he did so in a despicable manner:

[T]he rest of them are taking money from the Koch brothers who are Iranian arms sellers…But [Koch] traded arms with our enemies [and] I think that’s a lot worse.

This was sheer fantasy. Beckel just made it up to avoid having to deal with the reality of Democratic Party misogyny. Apart from the utter falsity of his claim, there is a certain irony in his dragging the Koch brothers, two of the most gentlemanly individuals you are likely to meet, into a conversation about Bill Maher’s references to c***s and t***s….

It really interesting to see the Kock Bros. reply to this defamation.  Read the article if you want to see it.

4.  SCOTUS and Obamacare

The frenzy generated by the Supreme Court’s arguments on the healthcare reform law next week is likely to dwarf anything the court has ever seen.

Lawmakers and interest groups plan to stage protests and events outside the court nearly nonstop, creating a circus-like atmosphere for a case that could redefine the limits of federal power.

A throng of lawyers and reporters, meanwhile, are practically beating down the court’s doors to try and secure a seat inside the chamber to witness the historic arguments on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Many legal experts say the ruling on the healthcare law could be one of the most consequential in the court’s history. The oral arguments in the case are the longest in 45 years, and the legal and political stakes are enormous. The court is expected to deliver its ruling in June, just months before the presidential election.

All of those factors are feeding a media frenzy that has already reached historic proportions, according to Drexel University law professor Lisa McElroy.

“This is just unprecedented. The only thing that even compares is maybe Bush v. Gore,” she said, referring to the 2000 case that helped settle the presidential election. “This is going to be on a scale we’ve never seen before.”…

I think we will get a lot of information on this with 24 hour news on cable.   

5.  SCOTUS curtails the EPA

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that landowners may bring a civil lawsuit challenging a federal government order under the clean water law, a decision that sides with corporate groups and sharply curtails a key Environmental Protection Agency power.

The justices unanimously rejected the U.S. government's position that individuals or companies must first fail to comply with an EPA order and face potentially costly enforcement action before a court can review the case.

The opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia was a victory for an Idaho couple who challenged a 2007 EPA order that required them to restore a wetland they had filled with dirt and rock as they began to build a new vacation home near Priest Lake. They were also told to stop construction on the home.

The couple, Chantell and Michael Sackett, denied their property had ever contained a wetland and complained they were being forced to comply with an order without a court hearing.

Their appeal drew support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Association of Home Builders and General Electric Co, a company that had made a similar challenge to the EPA compliance orders.

The Supreme Court's ruling comes at a time when the EPA has faced fierce criticism from many Republicans in Congress who say it has issued the most ambitious clean air regulations in decades and has become heavy-handed in enforcement actions.

Scalia concluded the Sacketts may bring a civil lawsuit under the Administrative Procedures Act to challenge the EPA's order…

This is a big blow to Progressivism.  The rule of the “expert” of in this case bureaucrat is part and parcel part of the Progressive movement.  This undercuts their power. 

6.  Let them eat cake Brie

It’s not actually about the First Daughter, per se, who according to serially vanishing stories has been vacationing with a group of friends in Mexico — a country for which the State Department just last month issued a new warning to all U.S. travelers.

It’s about the judgment of the White House, which apparently deems there is “no vital news interest” to this story.

How so?

Let us set aside the obvious hypocrisy of a president who denounces the “1%” and calls for Americans to tighten their belts, while members of his own family summer on a Martha’s Vineyard estate, spend Christmas beachside at Oahu, and travel for fun to the ski slopes of Colorado, the luxury suites of Marbella, and now, scenic spots in Mexico. If that is the image Obama wants to cultivate, or those are the family pleasures with which he wishes to balance the rigors of his presidency, so be it.

Let us set aside, for the moment, the queasy feeling it brings, reminiscent of the air-brushed politburo photos of Mao’s China, to see news stories erased, one after another, at the behest of the White House. Doubtless there are security concerns here. Though, especially in the information age, it suggests an odd obliviousness to think that an optional holiday, entailing security concerns presumably…

This man is a political idiot.  I’m not saying he isn’t a good campaigner, but his political intelligence has been grossly overestimated by the Democratic Party, the press, and himself. 

7.  Bring Back Federalism

The bleating about broken government and partisanship continues: “Why can’t those boobs in Washington agree on anything?” We’re constantly told that the way to fix the country is to dethrone the Left and the Right and empower the middle. Americans Elect, No Labels, the Gangs of Six and Fourteen, conservative Democrats, and liberal Republicans — handing things over to these middling mincers and half-a-loafers is supposed to be the answer to all of our problems. It’s as if we should just put Nelson Rockefeller’s mug on the dollar bill and be done with it.

But what if the real compromise isn’t in forcing the Left and the Right to heel? What if instead the solution is to disempower the national elites who think they’ve got the answers to everything?

Federalism — the process whereby you push most political questions to the lowest democratic level possible — has been ripe on the right for years now. It even had a champion in Texas governor Rick Perry, and Ron Paul still carries that torch…

Jonah Goldberg is a good thinker and even better writer.  I highly recommend this article to you.

8.  Has Obama increased oil and gas production?

President Obama has stated that there has been an increase in oil and natural gas production during his administration. The fact that this increase in production is occurring on private lands, not public lands, merely serves to affirm that the “Obama Administration’s restrictive policies cannot hinder production” on state and privately owned land.

Last year, President Obama released a new draft offshore drilling five-year lease plan which “CLOSES the majority of the OCS to new energy production through 2017.”

The most striking of the observations from the National Resources Committee is the declining revenue anticipated in President Obama’s budget. “According to the President’s own FY 13 budget proposal, in 2011, the federal government collected $1 billion in OCS rents and bonuses from lease sales. In 2012—the last year of the current five year plan, the budget anticipates collecting over $2 billion in rents and bonuses. In the first year of President Obama’s five year plan, rents and bonuses fall by 58 percent to only $852 million. By the last year of President Obama’s five year plan, the government is only collecting $569 million—a 72 percent drop from 2012 anticipated returns.”

Well it certainly doesn’t look like Obama has increased production

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