Kevin Drum on Barack Obama’s effort to out-flank John McCain in the race to advocate the dumbest energy policy proposal:
[B]etween the two of them, McCain and Obama have now pretty much written the handbook on idiotic energy pimping: a gas tax holiday, offshore drilling, opening up the SPR, a windfall profits tax, and nukes for all. I don’t think either one has come out for a massive coal liquification [sic] program yet, but since that’s about the only thing left that’s worse than what they’ve offered so far, I assume it can’t be more than a few days away.
Go read the cover of this month’s issue of Reason and then report back to me on the most egregious problem with it. Besides my concern that Reason had finally surrendered to the neo-Malthusians, that is.
Mind you, I’m not just using that title because the Venezuelan dictator-wannabe says President Bush is worse than Adolf Hitler. Nope, it’s because of his economic ignorance:
Chavez, a retired army paratrooper who often accuses Washington of trying to overthrow him, warned he could shut Venezuelan oil refineries in the United States and sell oil for the U.S. market elsewhere if Washington cuts off ties.
If Chávez really wants to cut off his regime’s flow of refinery profits (via Citgo) from the U.S., I suspect the administration would be more than happy to oblige him. Moreover, since any such effort on his part would surely be countered by the administration seizing Venezuela’s U.S. assets, including Citgo, I think it’s a rather empty threat from Caracas.
The president’s poll numbers appear to be recovering as of late, and there are two major competing theories to explain the change. Charles Franklin appears to attribute the change to the new PR pushback from the White House, which we might term the Feaver-Gelpi thesis (see also Sunday’s NYT), while Glenn Reynolds says it’s the gas prices and the Mystery Pollster suggests good economic news in general.
It may be the most simplistic thesis, but I think the “pump price” explanation is probably the most plausible; unlike other information, gasoline prices are unavoidable information for most voters and not subject to partisan spin, unlike the presidential pushback on Iraq and news of the general economic recovery—both of which can be spun negatively in a way that falling gasoline prices really can’t. In a noise-filled informational environment, I suspect clear “pocketbook” signals like gasoline prices are much stronger cues for presidential support than the world of competing, ideologically-based claims over Iraq and interest rates.
Update: Al Qaeda appears to put some stock in the pump price explanation as well.
Ethanol is all over the news today; today’s New York Times has a piece noting the newfound popularity of gasohol in the Midwest due to high oil prices, while yesterday’s Clarion-Ledger finds some folks looking for a $8 million handout so Mississippi too can get on the ethanol-producing bandwagon (can you say beef plant?).