Some dead horses need to be beaten

I know, gas prices again, but as long as people are going to keep making political hay on the matter:

WASHINGTON — It’s the political cure-all for high gas prices: Drill here, drill now. But more U.S. drilling has not changed how deeply the gas pump drills into your wallet, math and history show.

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.

Political rhetoric about the blame over gas prices and the power to change them — whether Republican claims now or Democrats’ charges four years ago — is not supported by cold, hard figures. And that’s especially true about oil drilling in the U.S. More oil production in the United States does not mean consistently lower prices at the pump…

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.

That’s because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline.

When you put the inflation-adjusted price of gas on the same chart as U.S. oil production since 1976, the numbers sometimes go in the same direction, sometimes in opposite directions. If drilling for more oil meant lower prices, the lines on the chart would consistently go in opposite directions. A basic statistical measure of correlation found no link between the two, and outside statistical experts confirmed those calculations.

Anyone else who implies otherwise, Democrat or Republican, is either lying or ignorant.

Photo of the day

Springtime in DC:

The Washington Monument in Washington, DC, March 19, 2012 surrounded by Cherry blossoms in full bloom due to the early warm weather along the East coast of the US. The blossoms are expected to reach their peak on Tuesday, the first official day of Spring.

Americans don’t know anything about Keystone XL; have opinions anyway

So, I read these results:

Americans' Views About Whether the U.S. Government Should Approve of the Keystone XL Pipeline, Among National Adults and by Party ID, March 2012

and thought to myself, “really, only 14% of Americans don’t have an opinion on this?”  Please.  Classic Gallup making it to easy for people to give responses upon which they actually know nothing.  And then, further down the same page, we get this:

How closely are you following the news about the proposed building of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas -- very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely, or not at all? March 2012

Got that?  25% have followed this issue “not at all” yet only 14% have “no opinion.”  Gallup should be embarrassed to show these two tables on the same page.  This is why most poll results about political issues should be taken not with a grain of salt, but a whole shaker.

Understanding Santorum

In addition to his evening lecture on gay marriage, which was fabulous, Jonathan Rauch had a really interesting lunch-time discussion with my colleagues about the contemporary political scene.  What many of us found most interesting was his extended take on Santorum, based on Santorum’s book.  Well, thanks to the Google, I found Rauch’s 2005 review, so that you, too, can benefit from Rauch’s insights into Santorum.  It’s good stuff:

In Santorum’s view, freedom is not the same as liberty. Or, to put it differently, there are two kinds of freedom. One is “no-fault freedom,” individual autonomy uncoupled from any larger purpose: “freedom to choose, irrespective of the choice.” This, he says, is “the liberal definition of freedom,” and it is the one that
has taken over in the culture and been imposed on the country by the courts.

Quite different is “the conservative view of freedom,” “the liberty our Founders understood.” This is “freedom coupled with the responsibility to something bigger or higher than the self.” True liberty is freedom in the service of virtue –not “the freedom to be as selfish as I want to be” or “the freedom to be left alone” but “the freedom to attend to one’s duties–duties to God, to family, and to neighbors.”

This kind of freedom depends upon and serves virtue, and virtue’s indispensable incubator and transmitter is the family. Thus “selflessness in the family is the basis for the political liberty we cherish as Americans.” If government is to defend liberty and promote the common welfare, then it must promote and defend the integrity of the traditional family. In doing so, it will foster virtue and rebuild the country’s declining social and moral capital, thus fostering liberty and strengthening family. The liberal cycle of decline–families weaken, disorder spreads, government steps in, families weaken still further–will be reversed.  [emphasis mine.]…

Goldwater and Reagan, and Madison and Jefferson, were saying that if you restrain government, you will strengthen society and foster virtue. Santorum is saying something more like the reverse: If you shore up the family, you will strengthen the social fabric and ultimately reduce dependence on government.

Where Goldwater denounced collectivism as the enemy of the individual, Santorum denounces individualism as the enemy of family. “In the conservative vision,” he writes, “people are first connected to and part of families: The family, not the individual, is the fundamental unit of society.” Those words are not merely in tension with the individual-rights tradition of modern conservatism. They are incompatible with it.

I’d suggest that reading this two-page book review will do more to help a person really understand what Santorum is about than will reading a month of primary coverage.  Oh, and by the way, I think Rauch is right to suggest (as he does elsewhere in the review), that this is a thoughtful and logically coherent approach, not the ramblings of some crazy.   I don’t agree with Santorum anymore now, but I do admit to having more intellectual respect for his positions.

Coolest animal ever?

How is it that I had no idea of the existence of the Mimic Octupus until this morning?

Racism is dead, part CCLXI


The Meck Deck, an official blog of the Art Pope-funded conservative John Locke Foundation, this week published racially-charged and homophobic imagery of President Obama in a piece this on the president’s opposition to North Carolina’s proposed anti-gay marriage amendment. The post, which claims Obama is merely pandering to gay voters, is accompanied by an image of Obama in apparent drag while sitting next to a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.


Here’s a close-up of the image (which is labeled on Locke’s website “Obama.gay_.png”):


I’ve written a little on Pope and Locke before.  To their credit (I guess) they took the image down, but what does it tell us that a presumably mainstream Republican think-tank has employees and blog posters that think this is an appropriate image?

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