Friday, May 25, 2007

Fox News: It's the Refineries Stupid!

I just had the unfortunate displeasure of seeing "Your World" on Fox News. Luckily at least I didn't have to watch Neil Cavuto. Some other guy (with a really horrible tie) made the point that oil prices haven't increased dramatically in recent months, so why is it that gasoline prices have gone up so much? The halfwit that was on the show with him of course did not offer a very good explanation. But that's just Fox's schtick.

I will say this, to be fair: Yes refineries are a big part of the problem. But, and this is an important but! The cause is not primarily those daggone librul enviro-mentalists. There are 3 big problems, and of course Fox News is only interested in one of them, so I'll put that down as issue #1:

1. Environmental regulation. We're not building new refineries. But really how big of a problem is that. Look at this chart:

Notice how each year the consumption varies seasonally. So ok we're in a bad part of the season now. It's late spring, time to attack the tree huggaz again. This chart is a few years old but nothing much has changed since then in the way of consumption. And most importantly the environmental regulations have not gotten worse for the refiners over the past few years. So clearly it is not logical to think that the environmentalists have somehow caused gas prices to jump 50% so quickly! Regulation does increase the price of fuel but they also act as price stabilizers. Because typically those costs are constant, like a tax. For example, in Europe, if the price of an imported gallon of gasoline goes up by 20 cents, it isn't felt so harshly at the pump, because the taxes on it are already so high, people are used to it. So really that whole argument shoots itself down in multiple ways. Fox won't look elsewhere because they're not interested in the truth, but truth seekers DO need to dive deeper. That brings me to #2.

2. The peaking of global oil production. Oh boy! Of course Fox News isn't going to talk about that, nor is the "fair and balanced" sap that goes on their shows to represent the other side. The whole point of peak oil is not the issue of whether or not global oil production is in measurable decline right now. It does seem to be but it will take a couple more years to know for sure. The real point is with the quality of crude oil. You have your light sweet stuff and you have your heavy stuff. The light sweet stuff is easy to refine, while the heavy stuff is harder to refine. There may be some argument about peak oil in general, but there can be NO argument that most of the light sweet easily refinable stuff is gone. To refine what's left, we DO need more refining capacity. But not "new" refineries. There are plenty of refineries, they just have a harder time processing the increasingly cruddy crude we are getting. Hence the need for Iraqi oil. (Very light and very sweet Iraqi crude, like Saudi crude.) But that is a whole nother issue!

3. The oil companies have been trying to create artificial scarcity by buying independent refineries. One reason to do this is so that they can better control the maintenance cycles. If you want to maximize profits, you need to shut down more refineries for maintenance at the same time. Enron did the same thing in california.

Now that Exxon is raking in 300+ billion a year in profits, you'd think they'd have plenty of money to retool their refineries to increase throughput of the cruddy crude. But apparently they aren't doing it. And make no mistake, they need to spend some SERIOUS cash on upgrading their refineries to process heavy crude more efficiently. THAT is the issue. But for Fox News, it's about using these price shocks to lift regulations so that refineries can spew more crap into the air while processing heavy crude, so that they can do it without hurting the corporate bottom line. It's just that simple. They're making all this money, and they don't want to invest in their refineries, because they know that in 5 years, those refineries are going to be ramping down production because the world can't produce any more oil. From here it can only go down. In a twisted sort of way, it does make good business sense. It's like your city widening it's roads to 12 lanes just to support the increased traffic from their hosting of the olympic games next summer. Why do it? They'll just go to waste after the olympics are over!

The funny thing is that Fox's own unwillingness to be honest on this issue is actually hurting the oil companies' position. Because we really don't want them to waste ungodly amounts of money building new refineries just to have them sit idle for hours a day 5 years from now. Because they are our companies, and that waste of money hurts our entire economy. If Fox could be more honest, there'd be more of a push for conservation which could allow companies to profit from new technological strides in fuel efficiency. But instead, we have to go through these mad gyrations where we're driving SUVs one day, and Festivas the next. Just one gallon of oil contains enough energy to power even Al Gore's house for days. A thimble full of oil can do the heavy lifting of a dozen men. There is nearly limitless profit potential in harnessing that energy in more intelligent ways than simply burning it up in a combustion chamber that is rarely even 25% efficient.

Worst of all, if nothing is done then we'll just import more gasoline from refineries in countries where the environmental regulations are lax, which will cause even more pollution and cost drivers even more money, while keeping profits for Exxon on track. Of course that is a fine fallback position for the Fox News crowd.

To recap, here's how I would rate the three issues by cost:

1. Regulations 10%
2. Decline of light sweet crude 80%
3. Market consolidation 10%

1 and 3 are relative nonfactors. I would further break down #2 like this:

A. Decline due to peaking light crude 50%
B. Demand outstripping supply 20%
C. Geopolitical instability, particularly in regions that export light sweet crude 30%

In terms of dollars, what I'm saying is that a $3 gallon of gas breaks down like this:

Regulations $0.30
Decline due to peaking light crude $1.20
Demand outstripping supply $0.48
Geopolitical instability $0.72
Market consolidation $0.30

These numbers are definately not exact, and I assume error margins upwards of 50% are possible. This is a rough analysis, meant only to illustrate the obscene levels of dishonesty out there. If there were honest experts, I wouldn't need to chime in with my laymans analysis! But the point is that Fox News is trying to take that 30 cents a gallon caused by environmental regulations, and make it seem like it is really two dollars! Hell, just the cost of a gallon of crude oil alone is over $1.50, so it is not even physically possible that regulations could cost two dollars! But I bet there's Fox News viewers who think that's how the numbers work out! Like that X% of Fox viewers who think Saddam himself flew the planes into the towers. (I bet some significant percentage of Fox viewers think Saddam personally flew more than one of those planes!)

With gas prices now at $3.25, even with pre-70's regulations, we'd still be paying at least $2.80 a gallon easily. Probably still over $3.00... Is that cost savings really worth pumping millions of tons of chemicals into the sky? Hell I haven't even commented on the true cost of oil and gasoline after factoring in hidden costs such as the "hidden cancer tax". If I did that then gasoline would probably be $10 a gallon! (In truth, I really don't even want to know how much the Real costs are. I have to be able to function mentally, emotionally, and spiritaully!)

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Immigration Debate: Yes We're Being Hoodwinked Again

I wonder, to all those who are criticizing the illegal latin-american immigrants (I count myself among you more often than not btw)... have you ever wondered where we'd be if we actually bought our cheap "chinese" goods from latin american manufacturers, rather than from China? (Erm, remember Red China?) hmm... maybe then latin american economies would grow, and there'd be jobs down there and there'd be less immigration... not to mention it would cost us far less in oil to transport all this junk halfway around the world.

We need to stop with the divide and conquer mindset and start looking at things a little differently. Most of them are hard working people looking for a better life, and we should be a little bit more concerned about how things got this way and what it means for this country if we start rounding people up. I couldn't believe the comments I was reading and hearing today. My god if you're willing to take such extreme actions then you better not be buying anything from China or else that makes you a hypocrite and a fool. Ask yourself why China is growing so fast when it was our corporations that chose to invest over there. Ask why did they do that. How does NAFTA and CAFTA fit into that? What did China offer that latin american countries could not offer? Look back through history. Look at the governments we overthrew. Look at the coups we staged. And look at our economic relations with those countries now. What does it all mean? I can't answer that. No one in the mainstream media can answer that. Noam Chomsky is one of few who can answer these sorts of questions concisely. But who is listening?

It's something to think about before contemplating the use of these:

First they came...

Michelle Malkin Enters the Twilight Zone... Again

wow what can one say to that? Sieg Heil?

She says "Ron Paul has no business being on stage as a legitimate representative of republicans" Eh? Translation: Ron Paul's voting record is consistently conservative, but I think you're too stupid to actually go and look at his voting record and compare it to Giuliani! The truth is that Michelle Malkin has no business claiming to be a "news correspondent!" I mean christ she's almost got me convinced Fox has a liberal bias because she hates a conservative like Ron Paul. Luckily I know that it's not about left/right, it's about which candidate is bought and controlled, and which is not.

Anyway, getting back to the video...

911 Truth Virus? wtf is she talking about? In the debate with Giuliani, all Ron Paul did was point out the principle of blowback which was spelled out by the CIA and even restated in the 911 Commission report!

Wow. So let me see if I got this right. Ron Paul quotes the 9/11 commission report. That makes him a 9/11 truth virus or whatever. Yet at the same time, 9/11 truthers are nearly unanimous in their rejection of the 9/11 commission report! How is that possible? How can he be a truther and yet support conclusions reached by the 9/11 commission report? oops. Such a fine example of superior Malkin logic. She talks about facts and logic and all that wonderful stuff.... stuff she obvious has no clue about.

And check this out:

Look familiar? She of all people ought to know the meaning of the word.

You know whats really scary about her? Listen to this clip of her:

The logical Malkin (oxymoron?)

Frightening! Yes it's true she has no business speaking about reason, obviously, but did you notice the accent on the word "logic"? My god she sounds JUST LIKE Ann Coulter. Ugh. Where does Fox keep digging up these corpse-brains? It really irritates me how these people so diminish and degrade the value of logic and reasoning in debate. If you're going to talk about it, have the common freakin courtesy to actually use it!

I notice that she seems to have all but replaced Ann Coulter as Fox's #1 neocon propaganda whore. The role she plays is about as demeaning for women as the pro baseball players who take steroids. Absolutely nasty and despicable and oh so damaging on so many levels. Let's see how long she lasts in that position. I personally hope she stays there because she discredits Fox in ways that even Oreilley could never dream of.

Here's some real logic and reason:

She's right about one thing though. There is a truth "virus" out there... but only people like her would really think of it as a virus. In an Orwellian world, the truth would be considered a virus, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ghouliani vs Paul, Faux News Style

After the debate, Giuliani sat down with Hannity, and he admitted that he didn't even listen to what Ron Paul was saying. He admitted it straight up. On national tv! Who in their right mind would want to elect someone who doesnt listen, even in a debate?! Oh, I know who: Republicans. But really, after seeing the way Fox News did the post debate coverage, it is obvious that Republicans are really just naive victims of corrupted media power. What amazes me is how blatant the bias is. It's like watching poor seaguls covered in oil. It's slimy, it's nasty, it's abhorrent, on so many levels. Surely even Fox News viewers are starting to notice it.

Later on, at 11:00 pm est Fox News Announced the first results of their poll, Ron Paul was in first place with 30%. lol. And that hack with the microphone says that it's because he got beat up by Ghouliani. Then he said it's because maybe Ron Paul's people are better organized. lol.

After that, one of the other candidates said that Ron Paul was leading because he was entertaining, and "people are looking for entertainment". Wow. Such a cynical view of americans! Whoever that guy was, I'm surprised Fox News isn't promoting him more! Give it time.

Then they actually brought Ron Paul on, and Hannity tried to bully him, but only succeeded in making himself look stupid. Ron Paul knows how to handle people like Hannity. It is good to see.

The high point in the debate, despite whatever Fox News claims, is without a doubt Ron Paul's last statements in the debate. He told Brit Hume exactly what any reasonable person would: stop talking about hypothetical scenarios while there is a real war going on. I like Ron Paul's "hey the emperor's not wearing any clothes, why aren't we talking about that??" style. He recognized that the questions being posed were ludicrous, and then went on to talk about what we should be talking about. I think anyone who saw that had to be affected by it.

Later on, at around midnight, Hannity actually says "It's our fault". I know, I'm taking his words out of context, because he was saying he refuses to accept the idea that "9/11 was our fault". I think he meant "america's" fault. But ironically, it really was his fault. Not just "him" per se, but people with his mindest. His unwillingness to approach any topic with reason and rationality. He's a reactionary, paid to promote the views of the reactionary elite. None of them want to listen to reason. They don't care that if you kill 10,000 Iraqis, 10 of their surviving family members are going to hate this country. And if you kill 100,000 Iraqis, 100 of their surviving family members are going to hate this country. Thousands will direct the hate where it belongs, onto our foreign policy, but there will be that 100 or so who hate us all. And of those 100, there will be a few who decide to do more than just hate. People like Hannity don't care about that because even in his own pathetic little soul-less world, he gains some tiny bit of power every time a terrorist incident occurs. They all do. They have no respect for debate. Giuliani admitted he didn't even listen to Ron Paul's response. If you can't even win a debate with someone in your own party, how can you possibly expect to win a war against any enemy? That's what really bothers me about Giuliani and all those who support his worldview. It cannot withstand debate. And they know it.

Richard Dawkins: Brilliant Naivete

Here is a link to a recent 2-part Richard Dawkins interview.

I agree with what he says about how atheists and non-atheists alike do NOT get their moral values from religion. That part can be seen about halfway through the first video. It's probably the most convincing argument against religion that I've ever heard. I'm not an atheist per se, since I think it is foolish to discount the possibility of "god" since we reallly don't know our heads from holes in the ground. But for all intents and purposes, atheists and agnostics fall under the same umbrella.

At the end of that video, Dawkins admits to being puzzled over why atheists, as a group, have very little political power, considering how large a group atheists are. And that surprised me. It struck me as naive, for the reason is obvious. Religious groups get their power because they are used as front groups for national and global crime syndicates. As soon as these crime syndicates find a way to hijack atheism and use it to make money, I'm sure we'll see atheists gain more political power. Quite frankly, I am shocked that someone like Dawkins does not understand that politics is all about money and power, and has little to do with god.