Earlier today, in a story on falling oil prices, Mark Williams of the Associated Press bemoaned "evaporating" consumption, warned that the abrupt prices drop would cause a decline in exploration, and cited the need for trillions of dollars of investment to find more fossil fuels.
Contrary to or not in what Williams wrote:
Consumption has barely fallen.
The American electorate has chosen a new president who thinks exploring for new oil is a bad thing, and the need for that oil can be eliminated through proper tire inflation.
The new president and the Congressional majority want investments in alternative energy, and to tax the alleged "windfall" profits of oil companies, which would of course take money away from exploration.
Here are the key paragraphs from Williams's report:
It's not like Barack Obama is a socialist or anything. It's just that Thomas Friedman wants him to put a "government master" in charge of the country's biggest manufacturing sector. Friedman made his modest proposal in his New York Times column of today, and expanded on it during a Morning Joe appearance. [H/t reader Tom.]
Californians by very wide margins defeated two green initiatives that anthropogenic global warming enthusiasts in the media and in legislative houses across the fruited plain should take heed...but will they?
To begin with, Proposition 7 would have required utilities to generate 40 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025.
Proposition 10 would have created $5 billion in general obligation bonds to help consumers and others purchase certain high fuel economy or alternative fuel vehicles, and to fund research into alternative fuel technology.
Much to the likely chagrin of Nobel Laureate Al Gore and his global warming sycophants in the media, these measures went down, and went down in flames:
Washington Post reporter Sholnn Freeman frontloaded his October 31 business section front page article, "Airfare Surcharges Stay Despite Oil Price Drop," not on examining the valid business reasons for why some airlines retain the fee but in citing a liberal politician seeking to grandstand the issue.:
When oil prices were rising rapidly, many financially-strapped airlines started adding special surcharges to ticket prices to cover the bill. So now that oil prices are falling, are the fees coming off? Not yet.
The lag is drawing complaints from air travelers, consumer watchdogs and a member of Congress. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is sending a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters asking the department to investigate whether the charges "have any basis in reality or if they are being used to mislead travelers, reduce competition and increase fares."
I want to put up two graphics that show how much prices have increased in the last year. To fly from New York to Miami the current average fare is $363 round-trip ... Now last year the same trip cost on average $321, that's 13 percent higher than last year. And to fly from Los Angeles to Dallas, Fort Worth airport, the current average is $391 round-trip. Last year that same trip cost on average $341, that's 15 percent higher than last year. Do you see any signs of airfare prices changing direction?
Amy Ziff, the editor-at-large of Travelocity, qualified Chen's numbers by saying those figure only tracked Thanksgiving specific airfare and opposed Chen's assumption that airfares were unusually high:
Prices shouldn't be set by supply and demand. They should be determined by, well, what prices "should" be. That's the innovative theory Maggie Rodriguez propounded on today's Early Show.
The Early Show anchor's unique take on economics came in the course of a segment on the falling price of gasoline. Rodriguez lamented to co-anchor Chris Wragge that grocery prices weren't falling along with gas prices. In Maggie's view, grocers who set prices based on demand rather than on what prices "should" be are the culprits.
Matt Drudge learned long ago that jumping across the pond in the late evening and perusing the British press is a way to get a head start on the news, and in some cases to get news that the American press is ignoring.
The situation with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is an example of the latter.
If it happens, call it The Caracas Crackup -- The UK Telegraph is reporting that the inevitable inefficiences of a state-run enterprise and falling oil prices appear to have the potential to do serious damage to Venezuela's economy:
Venezuela's daily oil production has fallen by a quarter since President Hugo Chavez won power, depriving his "Bolivarian Revolution" of much of the benefit of the global boom in oil prices.
There has been an unreality in the reports on the falling stock markets for at least the past 10 days. Each day's plunge seems to have been exclusively due to the "global economic crisis" and/or the supposed "freeze on credit."
Oddly enough, the admittedly small bank where I have my business accounts is having absolutely no problem funding mortgage, home-equity, and other loan applications from qualified borrowers -- a fact I confirmed just before posting this entry. With all due respect to the global business press, if there's truly a "freeze," how can that be?
I've put forth an alternative explanation to the media meme a couple of times this week myself, but an editorial at IBDeditorials.com yesterday brought out a major element of what I have been saying much more forcefully and articulately. Remarkably, though the possibility seems pretty obvious to me, and I suspect many others, I have seen no one in the business press covering daily market events even mention the obvious and quite likely alternative that follows.
The editorial, "Investors' Real Fear: A Socialist Tsunami," teases with the plaintive question, "What is it about the specter of our first socialist president and the end of capitalism as we know it that they don't understand?"
Old Media's coverage of the recently-lifted executive and congressional bans on offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas largely overlooked an important element that should have been very relevant to the discussion.
Supporters of lifting the bans surely share much of the blame for only rarely citing it. Though they have frequently noted the hundreds of billions of dollars a years annually sent overseas to pay for oil that could have been extracted here, they have mostly missed a golden opportunity to tell the American people what over a quarter-century of drilling bans has cost the government and taxpayers. They also generally failed to tell us about the windfall that awaits if the end of the offshore and other bans finally leads to appropriately aggressive use of this country's God-given resources.
But if we had inquisitive financial reporters in the business press who were interested in information relevant to the "Drill Baby Drill" debate instead of merely repackaging the press releases they received from those on both sides (the sole exception I found was this Wall Street Journal editorial), many more Americans would have long ago learned about what follows.
Borrowing from the nickname for a federal earmark that would have built a multi-million dollar bridge for an Alaska town of 50 people, Newsweek's Mark Hosenball offers readers of the September 29 print magazine a look at "[Gov. Sarah] Palin's Pipeline to Nowhere."
Hosenball suggests that Palin's $500-million "principal achievement" as governor "might never be built after all." But while the headline evokes images of the "Bridge to Nowhere," this isn't a case of government waste as much as it is of the endless red tape of lawsuits.:
Approximately half of the proposed pipeline would run through Canada; native tribes who live along its route complain they haven't been consulted about it and are threatening to sue unless they are compensated. Representatives of the canadian tribes, known as First Nations, say Palin and other pipeline proponents are treating them with disrespect. The tribes' lawyers warn that the courts are on their side and say the Indians have the power to delay the pipeline for years-or even kill it entirely by filing endless lawsuits.
Beginning on September 15 and continuing through the 19th, "Good Morning America" has been touring America via train and finding economic misery and despair along the way. During the three special shows that have aired so far, which ABC has dubbed the "Whistle-Stop Tour '08," the program traveled to struggling towns in Massachusetts, Ohio and New York. On Monday, while talking with an elderly man who had lived through he Great Depression, co-host Diane Sawyer described him as someone who had survived "another time of economic crisis." (As a comparison, a quarter of the population was unemployed during the Great Depression. Unemployment today stands at just over six percent.)
On Tuesday, co-host Robin Roberts mentioned the people of Rome, New York and their "tough times." "...Some of them are feeling hard times," she added. On Wednesday, near Gustavus, Ohio, Roberts reported from a small town that "is not booming." While visiting the "suffering town" of Niagara New York on Tuesday, Sawyer talked to parents at a high school hockey game and lamented, "There were moms up in the bleachers, who say they have to look across the river [to Canada] too and wonder about American leadership."
When Andrea Mitchell says "all of us" thought a certain way, whom does she have in mind?
On her MSBNC show this afternoon, Mitchell stated that "all of us" originally thought John McCain had made a political mistake when he changed positions and came out of in favor of expanded oil drilling.
Mitchell was chatting with former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers and Republican strategist Doug MacKinnon. The subject was the just-announced Dem energy plan, that claims to make some limited provision for expanded offshore drilling. Mitchell made no bones of the fact that the politics now favor the advocates of expanded drilling, and that Dems were caught off guard.
Chris Matthews spent most of Monday night's "Hardball," laying out a blueprint for how Barack Obama can hit John McCain on the economy, as he compared the GOP presidential nominee to Herbert Hoover.
Opening the September 15 show, Matthews greeted viewers with the following teaser:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why is John McCain talking like Herbert Hoover? Depression or just depressing? Let's play "Hardball."...Did John McCain really mean to say the "fundamentals of the economy are strong?" Herbert Hoover, who presided over The Great Depression, said quote, "the economy is fundamentally sound." So is it fundamentally good politics to say, with the stock market plunging, that things are hunky-dory?
Then, in the first segment, Matthews kept pressing Sen. Charles Schumer about why Obama wasn't being more aggressive against McCain on the economy:
Immediately following the interview, CNBC Media and Technology Editor Dennis Kneale observed the demeanor of Nelson and warned the scandal would be exploited by Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, Ill., for political purposes.
CBS's Katie Couric on Wednesday night used an Interior Department sex and drug scandal to snidely frame a story around how “the Bush administration has long been accused of having too close a relationship with the oil industry. Just how close is documented in new reports just out today.” The ABC and NBC evening newscasts also ran full stories on three new reports from the Interior Department's inspector general about the staffers of the Minerals Management Service, mostly in Colorado, but refrained from the overtly political characterization.
Turning to reporter Sharyl Attkisson, Couric opined: “This sounds pretty embarrassing.” Attkisson agreed as she immediately brought President Bush into the story: “It is, Katie. The investigative reports were released a day after President Bush had a private lunch with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the man in charge of the agency at the heart of the scandal. That was behind closed doors. Today's embarrassment was very public.”
"Good Morning America" on Monday featured liberal New York Times columnist Tom Friedman as an energy expert to "fact check" John McCain's policies on the subject and advocate for higher taxes. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer never referred to Friedman's economic policies as liberal, despite the fact that he repeatedly made assertions such as this: "But, you know, there's really no effective plan to make us energy independent without what I call a price signal, without either a carbon tax or a gasoline tax that's really going to shape the market in a different way."
Sawyer began the segment by noting both candidates have plans for energy independence. She then asked, "Are they going to achieve it? Do they mean it?" However, the ABC host didn't ask Friedman to "fact check" Obama's plan. Instead she simply recited the Democrat's plans for eliminating Mid East Oil. And while Friedman freely attacked McCain's policies, he responded to a clip of Obama talking about investing more money into alternative energy by, again, complaining about a lack of gasoline tax: "Unless we have a floor onto the price of gasoline that really keeps that behavior going, you can't throw enough money at this problem."
CNBC's "Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernen took a moment during a panel discussion September 2 to take a shot at the onslaught of coverage over presumptive vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy.
You know as a member of the media I'm just kind of embarrassed with the media. The media says, "Yeah it shouldn't matter, it's not going to matter, we're not going to cover it" and then they put it on the cover of every paper.
Earlier in the broadcast Kernen told chief Washington correspondent John Harwood he did not think the family incidence was as big a deal as the media was making it out to be:
Felt a little bit like the guy in Casablanca, shocked, you know: teen sex in Alaska, John. Probably not that much of a shocker I guess, right? Not a whole lot. I guess bowling, yeah, It's a little lonely probably up there, right, John? ... I don't understand everybody at the same time saying that this is not going to be a big deal ... the press is going to be responsible about this, Barack Obama please don't make anything of this, but then it's the cover of every paper like it, you know, like matters.
"Good Morning America" criticized fees charged to customers who return rental cars without a full tank of gas - part of a standard car rental agreement.
"The only thing more expensive than gassing up your car these days is not gassing up your rental car," reporter Elisabeth Leamy explained to viewers on August 29. She said companies across the nation charge as much as $8 per gallon for cars returned unfilled.
While a lot of the members of the mainstream media were scratching their heads, trying to figure out just who Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was, CNBC actually came through with an almost immediate positive response.
The August 29 broadcast of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" featured two of the network's prominent personalities analyzing Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain's choice of a running mate. "Closing Bell" host Maria Bartiromo and "Kudlow & Company" host Larry Kudlow said McCain's decision was wise.
Bartiromo, who was set to feature Palin in an upcoming CNBC special on energy, called the governor a "terrific choice."
BARTIROMO: "I can tell you a lot about Gov. Palin just from my conversation with her and from the day that we spent with her and that is she challenged the establishment in Alaska. She is very, very popular in Alaska and what she brings to the table predominantly is her knowledge and her know-how of energy. That's the bottom line."
In case traditional news outlets "forget" to tell you, Uncle Sam announced this morning that second-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was revised sharply upward to 3.3% from the late July's advance estimate of 1.9%.
Dude, where's my recession?
Y'know, the recession that Barack Obama claimed we "almost certainly in" back in mid-July?
Believe it or not, there are supposedly legitimate economists out there who, despite today's news, still insist that we are in a recession -- right now! -- and have been for some time. And of course, reporters are finding them, and quoting them.
Earlier this week, when it was clear that a significant upward GDP revision was in the works, "journalists" at MarketWatch and CNNMoney.com, with the help of their "experts," did everything they could to downplay its impending significance. One even called it a "mirage."
Former president Jimmy Carter told Harry Smith on CBS's "The Early Show" August 27 that he predicted "oil companies will hold down oil prices a little bit, you know, to try to help the Republican ticket."
Carter also said that the economy would be the most important issue, "as it was when Bill Clinton was elected the first time."
The former president also said it was "surprising and gratifying" when presumptive Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, Ill., carried Georgia in the primary "over two attractive white candidates-Hillary Clinton and John Edwards."
Greg Hunter, a CNN correspondent for "Your $$$$$,"made the same prediction that oil prices would go down as the election nears on the June 16 broadcast. "[T]hey're going to drive that price down, they're going to pop the dollar up, they're going to drive the price down, they're going to work this, say, for the election," he said.
Partly because this story doesn't fit preconceived liberal storylines and partly because the Democratic Convention is taking up all the oxygen in the mainstream media, you can expect this story to remain buried in your newspaper and be given little if any attention on cable news networks.
From page 17 of today's Financial Times, "US drillers to get $1bn court award" comes news of how federal government red tape often holds up oil companies for drilling on leases they've already sunk billions of dollars into (emphasis mine):
A US federal appeals court ruled yesterday that 11 oil and gas companies should receive more than $1bn awarded to them in 2006 after the government effectively changed the terms of leases to drill off the California coast.
The US Court of Appeals was upholding a 2006 ruling that the government had breached the leases when changes in federal law materially interfered with the companies' efforts to develop the oil and gas reserves off California.
The case points to the difficulties US oil and gas companies have developing oil and gas resources in the US.
So if a government program has been failing for decades, should you A) Privatize it, B) Get rid of it altogether, or C) Throw millions of dollars at it and hope that Americas somehow feel compelled to reenact scenes from "Some Like it Hot."
The answer is C if you were watching CNN this morning.
"American Morning" pointed out that high gas prices were the reason ridership on Amtrak was up 14 percent and then pushed for more funding for the government-sponsored program through a recent Senate proposal.
"The problem for Amtrak of course though is that they haven't had a single new passenger car since 1990," said personal finance editor Gerri Willis on the August 21 broadcast. "Their cars, even the locomotives are old and aging; they're asking Congress for help. Dick Durbin has introduced legislation into the Senate to try and do something about that. Interestingly he says that Thanksgiving is going to be a wake up call for Americans as we all try to go visit relatives for the holidays."
"What they need is new track, because every Sunday it's like this all the way up," said co-host John Roberts simulating a bumpy train ride with his anchor chair.
During an interview with Larry King, Bill Maher went on a diatribe about the stupidity of the American people, because he is dumbfounded by 2/3 of Americans who believe that offshore drilling will bring gas prices down. King, not realizing he was about to insult the average caller who phones into his show each evening along with the millions who watch him in his own audience, simply asked Maher if he agreed with essayist H.L. Menken who said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”
A study released today by the slightly left-of-center Project for Excellence in Journalism confirmed what many NBers have suspected for a while: the media's negative coverage of the economy affects public opinion.
According to PEJ, the public's concern about the economy as an issue has always outstripped that of the media. That's pretty normal considering that America's economy is one of the few large news stories that affects the average person.
Where things change, however, is in the public's perception. There seems to be a direct correlation between increases in negative media reports about the economy and lower amounts of public confidence in the economy:
Maybe it was a stab by Charles Gibson to provide a national group therapy session for his 8 million viewers, but the ABC "World News" anchor aggressively questioned ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson on the August 14 broadcast for "obscene" profits and asked him to "justify" the company's success.
"As we said earlier, Rex Tillerson - who is the board chair and CEO of ExxonMobil, doesn't talk often to the press," Gibson said. "His company has reported remarkable profits in the first half of this year. The high price of gas brought ExxonMobil close to $22 billion in profit - in profit - for the first half of this year. I asked him how he justifies that amount, that some see as obscene."
But Tillerson explained to Gibson it was the nature of a large business that performs an incredible amount of transactions.
For the third weekday as Barack Obama vacations in Hawaii, John McCain on the campaign trail received more hostile coverage from the broadcast network evening newscasts -- to the extent they bothered to cover the presidential campaign. In a full story on CBS, Dean Reynolds recalled how McCain promised “to conduct a respectful campaign,” but citing McCain's celebrity ad, charged “now it frequently seems respect takes a backseat to ridicule.”
NBC, which also didn't touch the campaign on Monday or Tuesday, ignored it again Wednesday, though in a story on TV ads during the Olympics Chris Jansing asserted the Obama ads deliver “optimism and hope” while McCain's have a “more negative tone.” For the first time this week, ABC skipped the campaign, but anchor Charles Gibson raised Obama's “windfall profits” proposal with Exxon Mobil's chief: “When the public sees the kind of profits that the oil companies are making, isn't it fair that they wonder, 'why not?'”
It's not often that you can point to The Washington Post as the voice of reason, but the paper has its moments. One such was the August 12 oil drilling editorial that debunks three major "‘truths' masquerading as fact" about offshore drilling.
The piece, headlined "Snake Oil," showed how groups like the liberal Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) misconstrue the issue in their opposition to expanded drilling. The NRDC has recently taken out ads in the Post and other papers detailing its opposition to drilling - downplaying the amount of oil available offshore, claming existing leases are going unused and maximizing the environmental "danger" of drilling.
While the editorial argued against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) because it "should be preserved," the Post went on to explain why drilling offshore makes sense.
The paper explained how the estimates of 18 billion barrels of oil offshore are based on old measurements. Data from the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) are out of date. In a similar situation, the Post wrote, the department estimated 9 billion barrels were beneath the Gulf of Mexico. "By 2006, after major advances in seismic technology and deepwater drilling techniques, the MMS resource estimate for that area had ballooned to 45 billion barrels."