Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for July 18th, 2008

Oh. My. Dog.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 18, 2008

This is the sort of breathtakingly vile thing that, had Obama done it to McCain, would have ended Obama’s campaign and quite possibly forced him to resign from the Senate.

But of course, McCain did it to Obama, so aside from us folks on the reality-based side of the blogosphere, this will get maybe a handful of Big Media mentions before it’s completely forgotten about by Monday:

DETROIT (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate John McCain commented on Friday on the unannounced timing of a high-security trip by Barack Obama to Iraq, saying he believed his Democratic rival was going this weekend.

But McCain’s spokesman said the Arizona senator knew nothing about Obama’s schedule. Obama said last month he would go to both Iraq and Afghanistan soon. But his campaign has given no dates, seeking to cloak the trip in a measure of secrecy for security reasons.

“I believe that either today or tomorrow — and I’m not privy to his schedule — Sen. Obama will be landing in Iraq with some other senators” who make up a congressional delegation, McCain said at a Republican fund-raiser.

McCain’s campaign s pokeswoman Brooke Buchanan insisted to reporters later: “He doesn’t know when he’s going. He’s not privy to that information. He was speaking in broader terms, about when Obama does land in Iraq.”

With all due respect, Ms. Buchanan, that’s a load of horsepucky and you know it.

Going to Iraq is dangerous, which is why the details of visits made by people like your boss John McCain are kept under tight wraps. The only reason he dared do his infamous market stroll in Baghdad was because there were several hundred troops on the ground and several helicopter gunships in the air protecting his butt — and he still had to wear a flak jacket just in case.

For McCain to do what he did shows that he is thoughtless, callous, and unfit for command.


Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, Iraq war, John McCain, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples | 4 Comments »

Like babes in the oil fields

Posted by Charles II on July 18, 2008

A few weeks ago, Paul Krugman made what I thought was a facetious remark in dismissing the possibility that speculation might play a role in oil prices. Considering that the Senate had a hedge fund manager saying he thought speculation did play a role, I thought he could have done better than this post, relying on a one-time price hike. Now the IMF has some solid figures on what has been happening with prices:

IMF on world food, metal, and energy prices

IMF on world food, metal, and energy prices

Granted, “energy” is more than “oil” and “metals” is more than “iron ore,” and some of those metals are–unlike iron– traded on commodity exchanges, the graph does suggest that the situation for iron and for oil is not really comparable. In the last year, energy has followed a very different trajectory than metals.

The IMF does say that “there is little evidence that the increasing investor interest in oil and other commodities as an asset class has affected price trends for oil and other commodities…” but then adds this contradictory statement “…although purely financial factors, including shifts in market sentiment, may have short-term price effects.”  This is a bit like saying that turning the steering wheel might affect what direction you’re facing, but doesn’t affect where you go. 

And here, I think, is where the question of whether speculation is driving prices devolves into a semantic one. Krugman asks where the speculators are storing oil. The financial press has contained suggestions that the answer is “on oil tankers.” I’m skeptical of that answer. I would suggest that the answer is “in the oil fields.”

That implies that the producers are behind the speculative frenzy. The answer, I would suggest, is a little more complicated, but only a little. In a market like this of today, large users of oil are willing to pay a premium to lock in prices. The higher the uncertainty about price, the higher the premium they are willing to pay. Wars and rumors of wars, oilfield and refinery accidents, and speculation all contribute to an environment of high price volatility and hence to rising prices. Whether this is or is not conscious and planned is unknown and irrelevant. When people can make money off an activity, it is foolishness to believe that they won’t try.  And certainly the fact that oil companies are blackmailing the Congress to get permission to drill everywhere even while they are leaving untouched so many areas in which they have permission to drill is suggestion enough that manipulation is going on.

We are, I think, back in John D. Rockefeller’s oil world, where a few big producers can jack up prices without leaving obvious fingerprints. We should not be complete innocents about it. There is a history.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Your GOP/Media Complex At Work

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 18, 2008

ABC News/Washington Post withhold results of poll favorable to Obama.

— Media report McCain’s attacks on Obama’s laying out Iraq and Afghanistan policies before visiting those two countries, without mentioning that McCain did exactly the same thing.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell (aka Mrs. Alan Greenspan) darkly suggests that Obama’s popularity in Europe will piss off American voters at home. (Oh, you mean like how Bill Clinton’s overseas popularity drove down his approval ratings at home? NOT.) It’s really bad when allegedlly-serious journalists seem to be stealing their stories from satirist bloggers at Comedy Central’s website.

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, GOP/Media Complex, John McCain, media, Media machine, mediawhores | Comments Off on Your GOP/Media Complex At Work

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on July 18, 2008

Here’s hoping for a restful weekend.

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

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