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Mitch McConnell Fails in #1 Goal: Defeat Obama; US Electorate Rejects Extreme Republican Obstructionist Agenda in 2012 Election

Last night, Republicans were dealt a severe loss. They received a terrible drubbing in the presidential race — losing previously Republican states of Virginia, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa, and Nevada. They were summarily rejected by the industrial states of America — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin. New York City, home to an increasingly whiny class of rich elites, was the epicenter for a massive loss for Republicans in New York. Overall, it appears Obama also won the popular vote by a comfortable margin, beating out Mitt Romney by more than 2.3 percent.

The loss was magnified by the fact that secret money super-pacs heavily favored the Romney campaign. When you add in the fact that oil, gas, and coal companies spent nearly half a billion dollars to support Romney and other GOP candidates, it clearly shows the strength and marvel of Obama’s win.

The rejection of the rich, establishment, fossil fuel and extremist agendas was also apparent in the Senate. So far, democrats have extended their majority by two seats and have added an independent ally. In total, those who caucus with democrats on most issues include a much more solid majority of 55 seats. In the House, Republicans appear likely to lose 5 seats. Though Republican losses in the House are not enough to re-establish Democratic control, they do erode overall Republican Congressional influence.

The US electorate’s action against Republican extremism and obstructionism becomes even more clear when you dig down to look at who actually lost. The most extreme anti-abortion Republicans — Aikin and Mourdock — were both summarily defeated. Scott Brown, a tea partier, fell to the ardent progressive Elizabeth Warren. Sherrod Brown, both a climate and working class champion, handily defeated a tea party challenge from the anti-women’s rights Josh Mandel. The progressive Tim Kaine defeated ‘tax cuts for the rich’ George Allen. Patrick Murphy appears to have narrowly edged out tea party extremist Allen West. Stalwart progressive Alan Greyson has returned to the House and will likely prove a thorn in Republicans sides.

Among the more extreme Republicans (a relative term in a rather extreme party), only Michelle Bachman appears to have scraped by, barely eeking out a victory by a mere 4,000 votes.

Mitch McConnell, who lead the Republican hostage taking of the US economy in order to extort more tax cuts for the rich and to sabotage Obama’s re-election, has summarily failed. The Republican Party, who pushed ever more extreme conservative policies and who attempted to employ voter suppression over a swath of swing states, has summarily failed. This loss is nothing short of a new rejection of failed Republican policies and of denying Republicans the opportunity to re-assert their trickle-down economics, their anti-woman agenda, their anti-immigrant agenda, and an oil, gas, and coal backed set of policies that will result in a hellish heartland and flooded coastlines.

Republicans, who continue to rationalize ways to keep living in their bubble reality, will now attempt to claim that the American people have mandated that Obama and Democrats acquiesce to Republican demands. But this is nothing more than a false assertion. What the American people have mandated is that Republicans be less extreme. That they do not only represent the wealthy. That they do not continue to deny climate change. That they do not continue to endlessly seek to extort tax cuts for the rich. That they do not endlessly seek to de-regulate Wall Street. That they do not continue to push policies that encourage companies to ship US jobs overseas. That they do not continue to attack, demonize, and victimize immigrants. And that they do not continue their endless assault on women’s rights.

In order for Republicans, and America for that matter, to survive and thrive, they must begin to moderate their positions on all these issues. To fail to do so would be to consign them, and possibly the rest of us too, to the dust bin of history. And that is the lesson people should learn from this election. Democrats have already moderated their position on many, many issues. It is now the Republicans turn to cast away their extremist roots and meet us where we already stand — in the middle.

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The Debate Joe Biden Won With A Smile

Last night, the Tea Partier who tried to turn Medicare into a voucher program was served up an enormous helping of just desserts by Vice President Joe Biden. Biden came out swinging and never let up until it seemed a disoriented Ryan had simply given up, resorting, half-heartedly, to chugging water and spewing memorized lines.

From the get-go, Biden dealt with Ryan with total candor, directly answering questions and providing evidence and assertions even as he held Ryan accountable for his own mangling of the facts. When Ryan rolled out the false claims that Obama had dropped the ball in Benghazi, Biden pinned Ryan to the mat by showing how republicans had cut diplomatic security funding just before the attacks. When Ryan tried to run away from his record of attempting to voucherize Medicare and force seniors to pay another 6400 dollars per year in medical expenses, Biden practically tattooed the word ‘voucher’ onto Ryan’s head. And when Ryan tried to claim that his 5 trillion, 20% across the board, tax cut would be paid for without increasing the debt or hurting the middle class, Biden kept backing Ryan into a corner in which Ryan couldn’t explain his claims for lack of facts or evidence.

Finally, a beleaguered Ryan found himself lost in the valleys of Afghanistan, falsely claiming we had 28,000 troops there when the actual number is over 60,000.

The best touch in Biden’s entirely masterful debate last night, however, was how Biden dealt with Ryan every time he made a false claim. Ryan — ‘this is the unraveling of Obama foreign policy.’ Biden — smile. Ryan — ‘we don’t voucherize Medicare.’ Biden — smile. Ryan — ‘we don’t cut taxes by 5 trillion dollars.’ Biden — smile.

And it was through this smile that Biden projected his thoughts. ‘This kid if full of baloney,’ his smile seemed to say. We knew that Biden was showing us, through the grace of his American eagle-like countenance, that the kid was clearly making stuff up.

Not that Biden didn’t call Ryan out. Quite to the contrary, he aggressively went after what he termed as ‘malarkey’ coming from Ryan at every opportunity. Biden’s action to defend truth made his smile all the more effective. Because the words he used to back it up set in clear relief the debate field even as it lit bright sparks in the minds of the American people.

And it is this entirely right and good fighting to expose the truth that has elicited so many howls from republicans who probably expected, instead, that Biden would roll over and allow the wealthy to feast on the middle class once again without putting up a fight. That Biden would just, stand aside, as the ideological right rolled back into the White House and reasserted its war on science. That Biden would lay down before a Mitt Romney who promises to bring back George Bush’s torture policy, republican deregulation of Wall Street, and a George Bush 2.0 tax cut to boot.

Not that guy from Scranton. Hell no. That guy hit Ryan like a fireball from the heavens above. And, this time, it was Ryan trying to pretend his hair wasn’t on fire.

And, I have to tell you, for me it was refreshing. Refreshing to hear someone stand up and fight for the middle class. To hear someone take on what are nothing more than a series of blatant untruths put out by republicans year after year, month after month, day after day. An endless mangling of the truth that is so harmful both to the United States, to our country’s economic integrity, to our future, and to the electoral process itself.

And most regular Americans seemed to agree. One blogger described the shouts and howls of joy he could hear across his neighborhood as Biden delivered powerful counter after powerful counter to Ryan’s false assertions.

And this response seemed to bear out in many post-debate polls which showed Biden as a strong winner. A CBS poll of undecideds showed Biden with a 19 point lead. ABC 6 showed Biden creaming Ryan in a 60-38 domination of a poll of the broader electorate. CNBC, a haven of many who are misinformed daily by the likes of Tea Partier Rick Santelli, showed Biden edging out Ryan 48 to 47. Perhaps the only poll of the night which showed Ryan ahead was a dubious CNN poll which, according to poll data, was heavily weighted with republicans and independents. But even this skewed poll showed Biden trailing by a hair — within the poll’s margin of error.

And from a survey of the internet following the debate it is clear that republicans are in full damage control mode. No clearer an indication that they have lost can be expressed than their attempts to label Joe Biden ‘rude.’ That he smiled too much during the debate. And this, as Romney said in an interview this morning, was ‘disrespectful.’

I couldn’t disagree more.

The rudeness and disrespect came from Ryan who thought he could get away with lying to the American people. Lying about Benghazi, lying about his Bush 2.0 tax cut, lying about alternative energy and Solyndra, and lying about his record on Medicare. Lying about his and Romney’s blatant, rude, and entirely disrespectful 30% and 47% remarks. And providing completely anti-factual information on Afghanistan. Biden was right to interrupt and to call Ryan out. When an opponent misrepresents themselves and their policies, this is entirely called for.

Obama would do well to learn from Biden’s example. Because Romney is extraordinarily loosey goosey with the facts. To leave such misrepresentations unchallenged risks that people, who don’t have access to the same level of information as a sitting President, might begin to believe these false claims. And we can already see how much damage this has done to republicans ability to understand facts and deal with reality. If the entire electorate becomes as misinformed we are lost, adrift on a sea of media impulse, shackled to the whim of the wealthy.

Something can be said for Ryan. He did tell the truth on abortion. And, appropriately, Biden didn’t challenge his truthfulness. He simply passionately described his own position in defense of women. Making his own assertion that he would fight to protect women’s rights and that he believed the assault on women’s liberties was unconscionable. And this gives us an example of how an honest debate should work. It should involve a direct and transparent comparison of candidates positions on issues. It leaves the power of choice in the hands of the American people. But when one candidate holds no respect for the truth, that candidate must be called out. Called out for attempting to deny people the right to choose candidates based on a clear understanding of positions. In fact it is a responsibility to the American public that misinformation and false claims be pointed out for what they are. A lie unchallenged is a lie free to harm the American people. And a false claim brought to light is one that can no longer live and continue to do its terrible damage.

Joe Biden did the right thing last night. He called out Ryan’s lies. It was a public service. It was not rude. It was respectful to the American people. And this is something republicans would do well to learn — a little respect for, not just a flag lapel pen, but for what that flag actually represents.

And this is why Joe Biden won, because liars never win in the light. And Joe proved that with a glorious, glowing smile.

Are We Better Off Today? 2008 vs 2012

The best customer for American industry is the well-paid worker. — FDR

Some of the choices that we make are going to be difficult, and I have said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s not going to be quick and it’s not going to be easy… — Barack Obama, First Press Conference, 2009

At the end of 2008, after years of failed policies, after two unpaid for wars, after deregulation left the financial markets to their own irresponsible devices, America was suffering from the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

Today, after 29 consecutive months of jobs growth, after a restoration of the credit markets, after an American automobile industry that has not only been revived, but experienced a renaissance, an America enjoying a revitalized stock market restrained from the worst excesses of greed is now on its feet and in fighting form.

The difference between 2008 and 2012 is the difference between economic devastation and a reason for economic hope.

These disparate situations did not evolve from one to the other in a vacuum. The failed policies that led to the Great Recession were replaced by the successful policies that resulted in an America back on her feet. Dodd Frank reigned in the worst Wall Street excesses. Sound banking policy reinvigorated the credit markets. The Stimulus provided states and communities with much-needed funds during the recession’s darkest days. The first unpaid for war was ended and the second is drawing to a close. GM, which Romney had said should be allowed to go bankrupt, is now the most successful automaker in the world. A vast raft of energy polices pushed by Obama resulted in plummeting US oil imports, increased efficiency, and increased domestic energy production. The alternative energy sources of the future have doubled their production. And the US is producing automobiles like the Chevy Volt which, combined with the renaissance in alternative energy technologies,  give reason to hope for achieving both energy independence and climate security.

In short, Barack Obama gave America back her shot at a good future. Her potential. Her ability to face adversity and overcome it. For a certainty, he did not satisfy everyone’s greatest hopes and expectations. But what he delivered was a stunning and marked improvement over the terrible harm that came to us during the Bush Administration. And this transformation was achieved in a short time. Only four years were needed. It could well be argued that Obama has done the impossible.

Looking around the world, it becomes even more clear that America’s position is vastly improved. Europe is teetering at the edge of recession, China is losing its grip on manufacturing supremacy, and the world is suffering under a brutal regime of increasing food and fuel prices. To achieve any economic growth in such an environment, in the face of such stiff competition, would be a sign of virtuoso, of expertise, of strong leadership. And Barack Obama has certainly delivered.

Even our standing in the world, which was wretched under Bush, has improved. Many nations trust us again, believe that America is again a positive force in the world. Our trade situation, though still difficult, has continued to improve. On the national security front, we have gracefully disengaged from Iraq and have reasonable hope to do the same in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden is no longer a threat and Al Qaeda is disorganized, dispersed, and demoralized. The Libyan conflict was handled in a manner that preserved both national treasure and resulted in a positive outcome.

Obama has earned success after success and at every turn, he has been forced to fight against Americans who should have aided him. The Republican Congress, whose policies Obama often adopted, had moved to obstruct Obama at every opportunity. ‘No compromise’ is an understatement to describe the situation Obama was forced to deal with. Never in America has such a level of obstructionism been faced by a standing President. Every single policy measure Obama put forward was demonized even as he was attacked for the responsible act of working for solutions. It would seem that republicans would rather Obama have done nothing. Or had simply re-applied the failed policies that Bush used. The same policies that wrecked the economy in the first place.

The Republican leader of the Senate claimed his number one priority was to make certain Obama didn’t get re-elected. And what proceeded from the Republican sectors of Congress could best be described as willful sabotage. It wouldn’t be so bad if the Republican vendetta against Obama had only been personal. But what started as personal attacks quickly evolved into an assault on America’s prosperity.

The current vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, who sat on the critical Simpson Bowles deficit reduction committee, turned his back on Republican deficit reduction policy in order to fight all efforts offered by the President for long-term deficit reduction, no matter how many concessions to Republicans those proposals contained. And, at the height of hypocrisy, Ryan blamed Obama for the failure of Simpson Bowles when Ryan, himself, lobbied Republicans in Congress to vote against the deficit reduction plan. In short, Ryan killed American deficit reduction policy and then attempted to blame Obama. As such, Ryan is the very face of Republican sabotage and obstructionism.

What makes Ryan’s and Republican efforts to sabotage Simpson Bowles so bad isn’t that it hurt Obama. It hurt the American people. It put off the hard work of dealing with the national debt and forced a historic down-grade in the United States credit rating. The result is that the cost of debt increases and this is a devastating long-term harm to taxpayers and to effective government. It results in more wealth being sucked out of the United States and going to creditors both private and foreign.

Republicans seem to love to talk about the need for deficit reduction. But, in practice, both as Presidents and as legislators, they have been terrible at enacting effective deficit reduction policy. Instead, they hand tax cuts to the wealthy, pick more wars than they can afford, and spend like drunken sailors. When money is tight, Republicans, instead of asking for more from the most powerful and privileged members of society, instead turn to prey on the weak, destitute, and voiceless. Medicare and Social Security will be the next programs to be gutted by the Republican’s irresponsible taxation, spending, and war-fighting policies — should they again see power.

Ryan’s own attempt to worsen the deficit crisis in order to harm a sitting President, however, is a vast, destructive, irresponsible and narcissistic misuse of power. It is another departure from effective leadership. A departure that is just one more phase in a long and devastating trend among Republicans in government.

But despite having to fight against an entire wing of US government willing to sabotage US economic security in order to pander to wealthy backers, for the soul cause of gaining power, of winning elections, Obama has still managed to achieve amazing success. He has been able to transcend partisan bickering and reach beyond a barricade of petty personal attacks to lend a helping hand to broad sections of America. The fact that America is now standing, not bleeding on the floor as she was in 2008, is proof enough of that.

America is certainly far better off. But, sadly, she is still afflicted by an ancient brand of greed and short-sightedness that appears to have entirely devoured the Republican party. And so long as that harmful philosophy — not that of enterprise and innovation, not that of freedom, which should be a virtue enjoyed equally by all — but that of dominance, hoarding, and the endless gathering of wealth and power by fewer and fewer ‘privileged’ individuals. So long as that devastating philosophy afflicts us, we will continue to experience danger.

So we must stand up. So we must help the President who has done so much in his efforts to help us. So we must do our best to make certain that the failed policies and ways of thinking that wrecked America in the first place, that are inhibiting our progress even now, that are attempting to hold America’s very success as a hostage, do not regain hold of our great democracy.

We have seen that dark road. We have walked it long enough. We do not wish to return to the debacle that was 2008.

Convention Speech: Romney Makes Light of Global Warming During Hottest US Year On Record

For Mitt Romney, usually a less than stunning speaker, tonight’s speech was surprising in its passion and delivery. Pundits noted this speech was likely his best. He delivered a number of compelling lines including ones that don’t quite ring true for the most obstructionist republican party in seven decades. Lines like: ‘I wish President Obama had succeeded.’ I wonder if a party that reinvented the term filibuster can honestly say they agree? If Romney felt such a sentiment, it was a good one. Sorry to see it hasn’t born out among the vast majority of republicans.

That said, the most out-of-context reference in the entire speech occurred when Romney made light of the issue of global warming. Romney, in a rhetorical jab at Obama, poked fun at Obama’s promise to help stop sea level rise and begin to heal the planet. This jab is especially concerning when one looks at Romney’s energy plan which could well be described as coughing carbon dioxide. His promise to double down on fossil fuels, including coal, will certainly do further harm to an already fragile world climate.

These assaults on the validity of global warming science fly directly in the face of fact and reality. Romney’s loud whistle past the climate change graveyard happens during a year of unprecedented sea ice melt, during the hottest year on record in America, during the worst drought in fifty years and during a year of record fires around the world.

This belittling of an issue that is sure to have ever-increasing impact is nothing short of blatant irresponsibility. Romney claims to be concerned for families, for our future. But an ever-increasing amount of harm will come to our families and our future should we fail to respond to the very real danger of climate change.

Yet the most poignant note of the convention, for me, was watching children playing in the balloon drop. What will happen to them if their republican parents are wrong in their assertions? What will happen to them if the worst potentials of climate change are brought on by a sudden increase in dependence on fossil fuels? What happens to them in 20 years when the US farmlands are even drier than they are today? What happens if coastlines start to destabilize? How much poorer, more desperate and afraid will they be in such an uncertain and increasingly hostile place?

Romney speaks of the future even as he seeks to force dependence on the energy sources that may ruin it. And he brazenly laughs at the very climate change increasing use of those fuels would intensify. History will judge Romney very harshly on these points. And such judgement will be far more harsh should a Romney Presidency steer us full-speed into the teeth of climate change.

Obama Fights For Renewable Energy Future, Runs on Superb Energy Record

Today, in a campaign speech at Colorado State University, Obama stated:

“You believed we could use less foreign oil and reduce the carbon pollution that threatens our planet. And in just four years, we have doubled the generation of clean, renewable energy like wind and solar. We developed new fuel standards for our cars so that cars are going to get 55 miles a gallon next decade. That will save you money at the pump.  It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a level roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of carbon emissions from all the cars in the world put together.”

“If your friends or neighbors are concerned about energy, you tell them, do we want an energy plan written by and for big oil companies?”

“Or do we want an all-of-the-above energy strategy for America — renewable sources of energy. Governor Romney calls them ‘imaginary.’ Congressman Ryan calls them a ‘fad.’ I think they’re the future. I think they’re worth fighting for.”

And Obama is correct. Correct in that he has achieved a stunning transformation in US energy policy. Correct in that he has increased US energy independence since taking office. And Correct in that Romney’s energy plan is one drafted entirely to cater to the interests of oil, gas, and coal companies.

Taking a look at the data, we can find evidence of this amazing progress. Since 2008, the US capacity for alternative energy generation has nearly doubled from 10,508 gigawatthours in 2008 to 18,777 gigawatthours by the end of the first half of this year. In total, renewable energy generation now accounts for 14.76% of all US power sources. This is more than nuclear but less than coal and natural gas.

New installations for wind and solar energy have soared over the period. Solar energy grew by 285% and wind energy grew by 171%. New installations for renewable energy are outpacing every energy source except natural gas. As a share of new energy installations, renewable energy accounts for 38% of the total while natural gas accounts for 42%.

This stunning surge in renewable energy capacity and its ability to compete, increasingly, with coal, gas, and nuclear, can be credited, in large part, to Obama’s energy policy. Obama pushed for measures to encourage new alternative energy installation. He pushed for stimulus funds for alternative energy programs. And he risked severe political backlash from powerful fossil fuel industries as he pushed for these new sources.

And the backlash came. It came from campaign contributions from oil special interests to republican rivals. It came in the form of an endless series of advertisements aimed at spreading oil, gas, and coal focused messaging. It came in the form of a republican party transformed to almost entirely represent fossil fuel interests even as it has denied climate change. Last of all, it came in the form of vicious attacks directed at the wind, solar, and electric vehicle industries.

But Obama’s push didn’t end with alternative energy. Obama provided a major push for increasing US fuel efficiency standards. Pushing competitiveness of US automakers in key areas while vastly reducing US dependence on foreign oil. These new efficiency standards have already taken a bite out of oil imports. Under Obama US oil imports have plummeted by 2 million barrels per day from 12.9 million barrels per day in 2008 to 10.9 million barrels per day this year. These reductions in oil imports are bound to continue as Obama’s policy results in fuel efficiency standards rising to 55 miles per gallon by the 2020s. It results in more electric and plug in hybrid electric vehicles on the road. It results in the US auto industry becoming leaders in this key new technology. All these results are signs of progress Americans can feel proud of. All these results are signs of a burgeoning independence that, if continued, will result in a far stronger America.

By contrast, Obama’s rival would cut renewable energy incentives and slash efficiency standards. This would not only increase dependence on fossil fuels at a time of amplifying global warming. It will also increase US dependence on foreign energy sources at a time when the world is increasingly competing for every available export. Romney’s policy will result in higher emissions, higher energy prices, and higher profits for oil, gas, and coal companies. It is a policy that aims to rig the game in favor of those interests and turns a blind eye to all the external harm such a policy would cause. It is a policy that will result in a weaker America that will likely attempt to dominate other countries in order to pursue energy security. It is a policy that will likely result in more costly foreign wars. It is a policy that will result in the expansion of both the trade deficit and the current public debt.

Obama, on the other hand, can proudly show that he fought for America’s energy future. A future with the potential for both energy independence and independence from the dirty, dangerous, and depleting fossil fuels. A future that may give us a glimmer of hope for being leaders against the powerful forces of climate change. A difficult future we may equip ourselves to navigate if we continue in the example set by Obama.

Links:

http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbblpd_a.htm

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/08/renewable-energy-sees-explosive-growth-during-obama-administration

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/29/765131/renewable-electricity-nearly-doubles-under-obama-i-think-theyre-the-future-theyre-worth-fighting-for/

Who is to Blame for High Gas Prices?

As the presidential election’s silly season continues, as the most outrageously pandering promises are made to all people across the political spectrum, a single issue seems to have outdistanced the rest — who is to blame for high gas prices?

Republicans, for their part, seem to enjoy blaming Obama who, supposedly, is keeping millions of magical drilling rigs hostage. If only freed from their bondage, republicans claim these rigs all alone, all by themselves, could, in a puff of faerie dust, reduce the price of gasoline to $2.50 per gallon.

But do the republicans have a rational leg to stand on in their endless drill, baby, drill diatribe? To find out, we’ll have to examine some facts.

Obama brings massive increase in drilling

Since Obama entered office, there has been a massive increase in US drilling. And the sad truth, despite republican rhetoric, is that the US would be engaged in increased drilling regardless of who held the office of president. The US is so addicted to oil that it can’t afford, at this time, not to exploit every economic source. As a result, drilling has increased by over 350% under Obama.

Huge drilling efforts result in only moderate supply increases

Considering tripling US extraction efforts, one would think that US oil production would rise dramatically. In truth, production has risen, but by only a small amount. The net result of a massive 350% increase in drilling has only been a moderate bump in oil production of 14%. US crude oil production increased from a 2008 level of about 5 million barrels per day to today’s level of 5.7 million barrels per day.

Moderate increase in supply does not result in oil price drops

So all out drilling under Obama has resulted in some increase in supply. And you would think, all things being equal, that the price of oil would also fall. But all things are not equal. Oil is traded on the world market and there are an expanding number of factors keeping the price of oil high.

First, Saudi Arabia has claimed that $100 per barrel is a ‘fair’ price for oil. Saudi Arabia produces more than 10 million barrels each day and is the world’s second largest oil exporter. They are the only country in the world left with substantial spare capacity. This means that Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer with much influence on supply or price. But Saudi is saying it will defend $100 oil. And the means Saudi has to defend this price is through cutting supply. So should oil prices decrease, Saudi will cut production. In fact, it did this during 2009-2010. And since Saudi cut production at that time, prices have risen from $40 per barrel to over $105 per barrel now. As the world economy recovered in 2010-2011, Saudi Arabia brought production back. But demand was so high that the new oil didn’t result in substantially reduced prices.

Second, the reason Saudi Arabia is the only producer with spare capacity is the fact that all other oil producers are pumping oil flat out. And despite this all-out production, the world’s supply of crude oil has remained flat at around 74-75 million barrels per day (blue line on graph) since 2004. This means that despite the highest average price for oil ever, for eight years running, world crude oil production has structurally leveled off. The reason for this plateau is that new production of crude oil is only enough to keep pace with the rate of production decline from existing wells. In short, when it comes to crude oil production, the world is running to stand still.

Third, high cost unconventional oil fills in the gap. Today, the world produces 18 million barrels per day of unconventional oil along with other substances such as wet gas and condensate (condensate is usually included in the crude oil figure, but it’s a different substance altogether). This includes supplies of tar sands from Canada, deep water oil, natural gas liquids, and biofuels. Much of this oil costs $50 dollars per barrel or more to produce. And the fact that the world is reliant on this ‘oil’ means prices will never fall below the high cost of a marginal barrel.

Most unconventional oil isn’t really oil at all. For example, Canada uses 8% of its entire natural gas supply to hydrogenate tar and ship it to us as ‘oil.’ The fact that we are calling hydrogenated tar ‘oil’ is a certain sign of how desperate we’ve become. And biofuels certainly aren’t oil. They’re fuels interchangeable with oil derived from crops. And it is through the production of these very expensive and difficult to produce fuels that the world has been able to increase production at all.

Fourth, the nominal demand for oil is about 98 million barrels per day, this is ten million barrels per day higher than the combined total production of crude oil plus unconventional oil. What this means is if prices go down, demand will keep going up until we hit a level of consumption of around 98 million barrels per day. The reason for this very high nominal demand is the fact that so many machines using so much oil are operating around the world. Oil-consuming automobiles alone are being produced at a rate of 80 million each year with more than one billion of these machines in existence around the world. With so many hungry machines, any new oil produced will be rapidly snatched up.

These combined issues mean that the US would have to produce more than ten million barrels per day of additional low-cost oil in order to create a situation where long-term gas prices of $2.50 cents per gallon or less were possible. But, in truth, achieving this feat is a bald impossibility.

All new oil is expensive oil

The reason why drilling cannot dramatically bring down the price of gasoline is that the cost of producing all the new oil is dramatically high. ‘Conventional’ oil from fracked wells costs $50 per barrel just to produce. Prices for biofuels, deep water drilling, polar drilling and Canada’s hydrogenated tar are about the same. But even the most wildly optimistic projections from all these sources show only slow increases in production requiring massive expense and effort.

Options for drastically increasing production do exist, however, if you’re willing to pay much more for gas. Oil shale contains 1.5 trillion barrels of potentially recoverable goop called kerogen. The US kerogen, however, is even less energy-dense than Canada’s tar. So the cost of producing this ‘oil’ is around $100 per barrel. And this cost hides the fact that a huge amount of natural gas would be needed to hydrogenate the kerogen. Furthermore, the oil shale is in a water poor region. Massive volumes of water would be needed to produce this goop. But the water doesn’t exist in the high volumes needed, so it would have to be piped in.

The result is that a immense and terrifying industrial effort would be needed to rip an enormous hole in America’s heartland to produce this ‘oil.’ And the irony is that, if we are forced to produce the oil shale, it will only result in even higher prices than today.

New drilling can’t dramatically lower prices, even though that’s what oil companies want you to believe

So, in short, the republicans are either misinformed, or they’re not telling the truth. This is hardly surprising considering that oil companies paid 18.5 million dollars into republican campaigns this year alone. Money to democrats from oil companies was substantially lower — only 2 million dollars. And what this oil company money is going to is keeping us all dependent on increasingly expensive oil.

Oil companies don’t want us to realize that even more drilling can’t radically reduce prices. But they do want to continue their dominance in the energy markets. They do want to continue their position as the dominant provider of transportation fuels. And in order to do this, they must convince us that the best solution to high gas prices is more drilling, even if it is not.

Real solutions — increased efficiency, alternatives

The only real solution to the oil depletion problem is switching away from fossil fuels and dramatically increasing efficiency. And even though republicans aren’t very good at proposing sustainable solutions, they are very good at demonizing policies and technologies that actually help.

This was recently demonstrated by republican efforts to demonize the Chevy Volt. Number 1 in customer satisfaction in 2011, the Volt dramatically reduces dependence on oil by making commutes all-electric. Since 80% of all gasoline consumption occurs in commutes, a transition to electric vehicles like the Volt would drop US oil consumption by 7 million barrels per day. If these vehicles became common-place around the world, oil consumption could fall by as much as 35 million barrels per day. And that would dramatically lower oil prices as well as eliminate the need for new oil production. This powerful new technology represents a potential future oil companies and republicans most definitely do not want. A future, however, that would be dramatically more prosperous for the rest of us.

But republican attacks aren’t limited to demonizing revolutionary American technologies like the Volt. Republicans have also worked to de-fund all government incentives to produce solar energy, wind energy, and to increase vehicle efficiency. Solar and wind energy reduce dependence on fossil fuels and since gas and coal are increasingly interchangeable with oil, they indirectly reduce oil prices. Finally, republicans attacks on energy efficiency directly increase the price of oil by increasing demand.

Republican policies push high prices higher

Only a dummy or someone bought and paid for would make the argument that civilization should remain dependent on an increasingly expensive and scarce resource like oil. And that’s just what republicans are doing. Though republicans aren’t to blame for the fact that oil itself is more expensive because it is depleting, they are to blame for pushing policies that enforce dependence on oil, for fighting at every turn to reduce efficiencies, and for doing their best to demonize and destroy any alternatives to oil.

Foremost, the republican push for drilling as the only solution is doomed to failure. At best, new drilling is a temporary stop-gap. Long term, without alternatives, it dooms the world economy to spiraling increases in energy prices. This policy is one born out of the myopic special interests of oil companies and their continued drive for dominance and outrageous profits. A true allegory to this failed policy was the conservative/republican push for deregulating the banks and the housing market in the 1990s. The result was a world financial collapse in 2008. We don’t want to see the same thing happen in energy. But blinded by profits and donations, republicans are,once more, trying to force us down a dangerous path.

 

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