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The Morning Grumpy – 3/23/2012

23 Mar

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Where Does Your Wal-Mart T-Shirt Come From?

1. Drill, baby, drill?

A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by The Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.

If more domestic oil drilling worked as politicians say, you’d now be paying about $2 a gallon for gasoline. Instead, you’re paying the highest prices ever for March.

U.S. oil production is back to the same level it was in March 2003, when gas cost $2.10 per gallon when adjusted for inflation. But that’s not what prices are now.

Maybe these astronomical gas prices might have something to do with unchecked and unregulated speculation of the commodities market? Nah, can’t be.

2. Former Obama Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates (R), warns against going to war with Iran.

“If you think the war in Iraq was hard, an attack on Iran would, in my opinion, be a catastrophe,” he said in a keynote speech to some 400 donors at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s campaign event last week.

“In political terms, the tectonic plate of the Middle East has been shattered,” he said. For the foreseeable future, he predicted, the recent developments in the Middle East “present the United States and Israel with far more problems than opportunities.”

“While we could undoubtedly set back their (nuclear) program two or three years with an attack,” the result would mean that 70 million restive Iranians “would rally behind their mullahs.”

“While the Iranian ability to attack us militarily here at home is virtually non-existent for now,” he said, their response could still be devastating. That reaction, he said, could involve closing the Persian Gulf to oil exports and attacking oil facilities in other countries. Most significantly, he said: “Their capacity to wage a series of terror attacks across the Middle East aimed at us and our friends, and dramatically worsen the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and elsewhere is hard to overestimate.”

I suspect we’ll look back on this speech in five years and wonder why we didn’t listen. After all, a highly classified U.S. intelligence assessment circulated to policymakers early last year largely affirms that Iran is not currently seeking to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

National intelligence estimates conclude that Tehran halted efforts to develop and build a nuclear warhead in 2003.

A recent intelligence report, which represents the consensus of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, indicates that Iran is pursuing research that could put it in a position to build a weapon, but that it has not sought to do so.

Or, we could just continue to let Republicans rattle their virtual swords in Iran’s general direction.

3. Are you wondering if the bizarre spring heat wave is climate change or just record-setting weather? Yup, me too. I’m just a simple systems engineer, so I have no earthly idea and scientists won’t be able to explain it anytime soon. Science analyzes trends, not variations. Here’s the global tempaerature trend:

This video explains the difference between climate and weather.

Unfortunately, partisan corporate-funded politics and uninformed judgments about climate change  rule the day. So, we most likely won’t be having a sensible debate or discussion on the national stage.  Sad, that.

4. I suggest you get used to two Republican memes that will develop as the general election approaches, as they will be central to their case against Obama. Well, aside from the running theme that he’s a muslim-sleeper-agent-America-hater sent to destroy our republic from the inside, of course. First, Republicans will seek to minimize the huge and frightening economic mess that was dropped in Obama’s lap at the start of his first term.

Mr. Obama has spent three years wallowing in blame. His culprits have ranged from his predecessor, to tsunamis and earthquakes, to ATMs, to Fox News, to yours truly. If you Google “Obama, Blame, Bush” and “Obama, Inherited,” you’ll get tens of millions of hits.

As for inheriting the worst economy since the Great Depression: Perhaps Mr. Obama has forgotten the Carter presidency, which featured double-digit inflation, double-digit interest rates, and high unemployment.

Since the economy is on the upswing, they need to make it about Obama tanking the economy. American voters, at least the Republican ones who reside in the Fox bubble, might just be dumb enough to believe it.

Second, they will dissemble and discredit the military action that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Rove cites this quote from Bill Clinton in the documentary to make the case that any president would have made the call Obama made:

As for the killing of Osama bin Laden, Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander in chief would have done in the same situation. Even President Bill Clinton says in the film “that’s the call I would have made.” For this to be portrayed as the epic achievement of the first term tells you how bare the White House cupboards are.

Problem is, that’s not what Clinton said at all. Here’s his actual quote:

“He took the harder and the more honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, `I hope that’s the call I would have made.’”

The Republicans simply cannot allow Obama to run on a record of killing America’s most wanted terrorist, saving the American auto industry, and slowly yanking the economy out of the ditch the Republicans left it in. They need to reconstruct reality and create a bizarro Obama to run against.

5. Why might publicly funded federal elections be a good idea?  Because corporations buy favorable legislation, that’s why.

The six senators who introduced legislation Thursday to slow down implementation of the “Volcker rule,” designed to prohibit banks from profiting from trading on their own accounts, are the recipients of ample amounts of campaign cash from the financial industry.

Three Democrats and three Republicans are cosponsoring the effort to push back the effective date of a rule that has provoked bitter complaints from the banking industry.

A look at the sponsors and their take from the securities and investment and commercial banking sectors:

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has benefited from $2.4 million from these industries. JPMorgan Chase & Company and Goldman Sachs count among his top donors.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who made millions in the cell phone business before entering politics, has gotten $1.8 million. JPMorgan Chase & Company and Citigroup are among his top donors.

Our government should not be for sale. Check out Lawrence Lessig’s burgeoning “Rootstrikers” movement for more information on how to better fund political campaigns. Or watch this long form presentation this weekend.

Fact Of the Day: Did you know the United States government funds an Arabic-language satellite TV channel competitor to Al Jazeera? It broadcasts news and current affairs programming to audiences in the Middle East and North Africa. Welcome to Alhurra, based in Springfield, VA.

Quote Of The Day: “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” – Albert Einstein

Video Of the Day: Awesome advertising, Vol II.  “Blades by Kenny Powers” from K-Swiss. Hiring Danny McBride to portray his Kenny Powers character in a profane commercial like this is risky for a big international brand…but also hilarious.

Cartoon Of The Day: “Feather Dusted” – Foghorn Leghorn

Song Of The Day: “Hard Headed Woman” – Wanda Jackson

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com

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