May 08, 2015

#Oilprices — shorter and longer term — below $100 for a decade?

Yes, some local storage may have opened up here and there, but, in other places, especially in Europe, oil is crying for a friendly home or port to take it in. That's why the plus-$60 prices of this week make little sense.

Will there be another crash in futures prices? Yes, if Chinese, European and developing world demand don't ramp up a lot in the third quarter of this year.

That, and beyond, as in beyond for the next 10 years, not just the next year, is the subject of this back-and-forth between two oil analysts. Both Phil Verleger Jr. and Paul Horsnell, even while splitting as a bear and a bull on later-year oil prices, acknowledge the genius of last fall's Saudi strategy. Verleger even wonders if KSA wasn't keeping one eye on global warming concerns continuing to rise.

As for production? Horsnell, noting that shale oil wells decline even more rapidly than shale gas ones, thinks the US may have come to near its peak in production before the shale shutdown of this spring. In other words, contra Daniel Yergin and other general yahoos at places like CERA, Peak Oil and King Hubbert are right, and the US isn't going to come that close to meeting its 1970 production peak.

Meanwhile, even with US shale producers working to continue to cut costs, they've already drilled the easiest shale oil, the cheapest shale oil. After all, that's the keystone of the whole idea of Peak Oil. So, US oil production costs will likely continue to rise.

So, the pair both expect sub-$100 prices for as much as 7-10 years out, but with volatility and spikes plenty.

And, there could be other things to confirm that. If the US's beta peak is peaking, Russia may also be peaking, and we may be at or very near that world peak.

Texas oil guru Amy Jaffe, transplanted now to California, with the mix of actual insight and blather to which I'm accustomed, says that world demand will decrease by two decades from now, so we shouldn't worry too much. Her blather side includes, in the face of all I've just written, that KSA is declining in importance:
The fall in the importance of Saudi Arabia is already palpable, with all the major powers from the U.S. to China more willing to accommodate Saudi archrival Iran. In addition, Russia’s ability to use oil as a weapon will wane, as will the economic leverage of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

About none of that is true, other than the Russia part.

Apparently, she missed the Iran nuke deal talks recently, and threats from not just the US but at least some EU members to tighten sanctions more if needed. I've already dismissed her nonsense about the Saudis.

As for OPEC? With the possible exception of Nigeria, the leverage of non-Gulf members of cartel likely will decline. But the Saudis, and their fellow Gulf states, not only are not in a "palpable" fall, they're likely on the rise; indeed, they're expanding drilling as we speak.

As for her decline in world demand, she doesn't even mention Africa. Given the amount of exploitation and "development" money China is sinking there, this is a great oversight.

A few thoughts on the UK election blowout

With the Tories, per exit polls which appear to be accurate, gaining seats and apparently an outright majority, Labour becoming non-existent in Scotland, Liberal Democrats almost nonexistent everywhere, and the UK Independence Party underperforming, here's a few hot take initial thoughts by me.

Which now include, per results in one seat, my riff on an old British riddler poem, at left.

1. Even if it turns out that Nick Clegg has won re-election for his seat, he has to resign as LDP leader immediately, doesn't he? Even more so if David Cameron has gained enough seats to coalition with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists. And, he has, both held on to his seat and resigned his leadership.

2. And, what about Ed Miliband? If Labour turns out to finish as badly as projected, doesn't he have to resign as party leader? Losing every seat in Scotland, losing seats overall, and, if the prime ministership were a direct vote, being var less popular than Cameron, to me makes me think he has to go. Here's three people who have gotten talk as possible replacements before. And, some Labour muckety-mucks are already whispering. Ed has gone, too.

More seriously, does the party shift back to a New Labour focus of Milliband is turfed, or does it chalk up the loss to Milliband personally more than his ideas?

3. Cameron's 2017 EU referendum will go forward. Exactly what it will be about will probably not be discussed in detail for 3-6 months, but will get a crafting after that. The UKIP will get a respectful listening, then ignored.

4. Was the SNP's results a one-off, a result of the failed independence vote, or is this more permanent?

5. Even with the LDP's decline, and with the Tories largely quashing the UKIP, is Britain, even without Clegg getting instant runoff voting in 2011, headed toward a continental-style true multiparty system?

I think not. Eventually the SNP will fall back somewhat at it realizes that any way it comes to power is only in conjunction with Labour. The LDPs have seemingly crested and will look for new direction with Clegg out. UKIP will remain quashed.

And, if the SNP thinks another independence referendum is "inevitable," I'd invite it to think again. A Conservative government will never allow it. A would-be Labour government would never allow it as the price of coalition, certainly not for at least a generation.

6. That said, the Tories — and their American cousins — will use this as a rallying point for budget austerity.

May 07, 2015

Yes #Alberta, Yes #NDP: Lessons for the US, for Texas, for Democrats

Rachel Notley, new Alberta premier / Canadian Press
I think many of my regular readers are fairly well read not just on state news (in Texas or others of their home states), but national (usually US, but some from elsewhere) and international news.

Just to make sure, though, in case you're not aware: In what would be the equivalent of a Bernie Sanders, backed by a national liberal to left-liberal political party with true national strength, was elected governor of Texas as part of having his party win the Texas Legislature because people hated Greg Abbott and the GOP and saw through their mix of lies and penny-pinching. That's what the New Democratic Party did in Alberta.

Several thoughts.

First, this is part of why I like parliamentary government rather than a strong-president, or a strong-governor at the state level, system. It allows for true, focused electoral anger to make a difference more easily.

Second, related to that, even in a "first past the post" system, which Canada has for both provincial and federal elections (like US House seats and the British House of Commons), it allows for multiparty rather than two-party democracy.

As noted, the NDP is liberal to left liberal.

A basic primer, focused at the national level, for the unfamiliar.

The Progressive Conservatives are the latter, but not normally the former, especially under the long leadership of "Bush with a brain," current prime minister Stephen Harper. While Canada is not as explicitly religious as the US, it is more so than the UK, which is still more so than continental Europe or Australia. As a result, the PCs, unlike British Tories, the noxious National Front in France, or even Bavaria's Christian Social Union, have a fair dose of conservative religion pushers in their ranks, especially in Alberta and the prairie provinces, the party's homeland.

The Liberals are the equivalent of US neoliberal Democrats of today. Current leader Justin Trudeau will run on personal image, youth, and vague tech 2.0 type talk in Canada's federal election this fall.

The New Democratic Party is what would happen if  you combined the best of Greens (Canada also has a Green Party) and Socialists, and it eventually got national standing, which is nowhere close to happening in the US.

As for provinces? From west to east, here's my take.
1. British Columbia is like California of 20-25 years ago. I don't mean that BC is backward, but in the early 1990s, California was still purplish, and nowhere near solid blue, in American political terms.
2. Alberta is Texas. Canada's fossil fuel home, primarily for oil, but also natural gas and coal. And, the homeland of the Progressive Conservatives.
3. Saskatchewan and Manitoba are like the US Midwest that they border.
4. Ontario is like a mix of the "Rust Belt," in more western parts, and New York/Mid-Atlantic States in Greater Toronto and elsewhere in the east.
5. The Maritimes are like the New England they border, but more like Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire than Massachusetts, Connecticut or Rhode Island.
6. Oh, and I skipped one — the sui generis Quebec. Picture if the Old South, setting aside slavery, the Carolinas and Virginia, had been settled by Germans who never got over being incorporated into a British country, even as more English-speakers moved in.

OK, back to the big picture. Now you can see why I made the Bernie Sanders comparison above.

First, it shows that, in other countries, at least, "What's the Matter with Kansas" issues CAN be overcome.

Second, it shows the importance of political organization. Are you listening, Texas Dems? And outside national Democratic interlopers?

Third, as this Canadian news analysis piece shows, Alberta has other parallels with Texas. Both are no longer just oil patches. More importantly, both are no longer insular, and have had a lot of migrants come from other states or provinces for non-oil reasons.

Rather than generic "suburban voters," in statewide races, Texas Dems should be targeting immigrants to the state, and in a way that doesn't drift further right, in a Texas version of neoliberalism.

And, if Texas Dems can't or won't figure that out, Texas Greens can and should.

Fourth, politics is personal. Wendy Davis' attacks on Greg Abbott, let alone for lite guv, Leticia van de Putte vs. Dan Patrick, pulled too many punches, or decided not to throw some in the first place. Democrats need to throw sharper elbows, but smoothly at the same time. Take LVDP. We know Patrick's as combustible as a Texas fertilizer plant; even though he largely ignored her during the election, she still didn't do half of what she could have in trying to push his buttons.

Fifth, there's been talk of Democrats' "bench" here in Texas (and somewhat, nationally).

Rachel Notley would be head and shoulders above Davis, LDVP or any male candidate in Texas — including either Castro brother.

She'd also be head and shoulders above Hillary Clinton.

Sixth, and back to Canada. Can national NDP leader Thomas Mulcair build on this, with Bush with a brain's party losing in its homeland, while also, in a personable way articulating real politics to trump Trudeau's politics of personality, and take the party to victory in the federal election?

Seventh, based Notley the day after Election Day: Why do newly elected liberal leaders, whether in the US or Canada, apparently, feel the need to "reassure" dominant big businesses, when newly elected conservative leaders never feel the need to "reassure" the working class?


For that matter, why does the working class in such cases never think that it needs reassurance, or should ask for it?

And, Ms. Notley,  if it's done as part of a conscious effort to pick up centrist votes, like the New Democrats or New Labour? In the long run, it usually doesn't work.

And, since you're favorable with mining tar sands oil, how much apologetics is really needed?

May 06, 2015

#BernieSanders, gun nut

Sen. Bernie Sanders
I already knew, and have blogged that, the new darling of the left wing within the Democratic Party, loves him some sucking at the teat of the military-industrial complex, complete to the point of wanting an F-35 squadron in one of the geographically smallest and least populated, not to mention safest, states in the union.

This, though, is even worse.

Sanders apparently deplores gun control in general. His arguments of why he doesn't think good gun control can work are almost gun nut talking points.

And, it's not just gun control, but far worse.

As the story notes, Sanders voted a decade ago to let gun manufacturers off the hook of state liability and tort laws.
But Sanders’ vote for a different kind of pro-gun bill is more puzzling—and profoundly disturbing. In 2005, a Republican-dominated Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). This law doesn’t protect gun owners; it protects gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers. The PLCAA was the No. 1 legislative priority of the National Rifle Association for years, because it shields gun makers and dealers from most liability when their firearms are used criminally. It is one of the most noxious pieces of pro-gun legislation ever passed. And Bernie Sanders voted for it. (Sanders’ campaign has not replied to a request for comment.)
When you're to the right of Hillary Clinton on a major issue, you're pretty bad.

(Update, Jan. 17, 2016: Sanders now says he would support overturning that law. That said, his caveat for small gun sellers is a fig leaf just as it's always been, and his claimed 2005 — and ongoing — opposition to child gun locks is tone-deaf, indeed. Beyond that, announcing this the day of the third Democratic presidential debate you're being Just.Another.Politician.

Here's the nut grafs:
Campaign aides said the decision was not a flip-flop, arguing that Sanders backed the 2005 law in part because of provisions that require child safety locks on guns and ban armor-piercing ammunition. 
"Those were important provisions that I did support," Sanders said in a statement.
 Umm, nice try, nice fail, at the caveating. And, actually, this makes things even worse.)

As for gun control laws themselves? I challenge Sanders to tell a Sandy Hook parent he or she is an "elitist," per this statement.
(A) close friend of Sanders once said that the senator “thinks there’s an elitism in the anti-gun movement.” 
I urge people to click that whole link on that story. Sanders even voted against the Brady Bill, for example. And, it also details Sanders' handicaps as a campaigner. He may have survived them, or even done some judo with them, in Vermont, but he'll likely flop on a national state.

And, Sanders' gun nuttery doesn't end there. He also supports pilots packing heat on commercial planes, even though the vast majority of airline pilots opposed that one. That's one of several ... interesting ... positions on his past voting record. And favors loaded guns in National Parks. He actually, to give him a small kudo, inconsistently voted to ban high-capacity magazines. But, despite his generally being a gun nut, the NRA still gave him an F. So, Bernie, your idea of working-class white populism, which this is all part of, probably doesn't have a lot of traction.

Sorry, Bernie, but even though I don't have to abstain from a Democratic primary in Texas to make sure Greens get on the ballot, I'm not voting for you. I am not voting, period, for a gun nut.

I'm ... I'm seeing a more populist Joe Manchin. Or an updated, less religious, William Jennings Bryan.

I don't care if you don't own a single gun yourself; with this voting record, and such comments, you're a gun nut.

May 05, 2015

Perry calls Abbott a wingnut over #JadeHelm15; Breitbart alums films #txlege

1. Yep, you read the header for this right. From your pots & kettles dept., Rick Perry is calling Greg Abbott a wingnut over #JadeHelm15. Is somebody running for president? Did Tricky Ricky double down on his back meds?

Congressman Mac Throneberry already questioned Abbott, so Ricky's got a bit of covering fire anyway. Not too much of a branch he's out on.

(That said, in this piece by a Bloomberg writer who doesn't even know Abbott's first name [sigh], the Trickster arguably schwaffles like he's at Perkins.)

Otherwise, if he does officially jump in the race — and he's getting pretty slow with the GOP now up to Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee — he's just got to look more statesmanlike, and less wingnutlike, than most of those folks.

Shit, I could do that in my sleep. Or on Rick Perry's back meds.

And, applied back to Perry is the old phrase: "Takes one to know one."

As far as Tricky Ricky running for Prezzy Wezzy, I think if he's not in by June 30, he's out. I've listed eight candidates above, and haven't even gotten to the (unlikely) Chris Christie, the vapid Donald Trump or others. The oxygen, and the money, are being sucked out of the GOP dance hall.

Question/provocative thought: Why isn't Kory Watkins and Open Carry Tarrant County on the Jade Helm patrol?

2. Speaking of wingnuts, a former apprentice to Breitbart non-documentary filmmaker James O'Keefe has decided to turn the camera not on alleged welfare cheats but on GOP stalwarts, in the possibility they're being wingnut cheats and not the real deal. Joe Basel promises a finished video project. This ought to be fun indeed. Will wingnuts implode, circle the wagons, or what? Will Jonathan Stickland asked to be filmed as a fetus, or what?

Question/provocative thought.

Will Basel start filming Perry next?

3. The Texas Railroad Oil-Loving Commission has promised to hire a second seismologist. But, will commissioners actually listen? It's dragged its heels in the past, but the pressure may be cracking up the ground beneath its feet, all puns intended. And the current semi-agreement still sounds like kind of a head fake.

Diets don't work, researcher says

Traci Mann makes several good points, which I'll summarize and let you the reader click to see more and judge for themselves.

1. All types of diets that say a particular food type is guaranteed to help are "magic."
2. Willpower is of little avail with something as complex as dieting.
3. That's because dieting causes neurological, hormonal and metabolic changes.
4. Don't forget there's a diet "industry." It's for-profit, and especially when selling the idea of "one magic food," is selling you something.
5. Initial results in a diet that look good are a "honeymoon."
6. Some dieters, around 5 percent or a bit more, do succeed. Don't consider them the modern misstated "The exception that proves the rule," except for proving the rule that more than 90 percent of people don't succeed.

I first link Mann's new book, then add a couple of my own observations.

First?

This is also yet another argument for medicine in general, and not just, but including diet, not necessarily becoming physics, but still "tightening" p-values and other statistical standards for research significance. Relatively small tweaks, even, would clear out a lot of chaff on diets, specific foods, just how bad sodium is (setting aside basic inorganic chemistry, even, and sodium-potassium ratios) and more.

The same is true for related social sciences like psychology and sociology, and the multidisciplinary field of public health.

It would also lessen replication problems and related issues.

Second?

The 5 percent success rate is interesting. That's of course roughly the same estimate of people who, after 1 or 2 tries (repeated effort probably boosts it somewhat, but who knows how much) stay clean/sober after initial effort. And, while AA, or AA + Hazelden method, may not be that successful, I don't claim that “secular” alternatives necessarily do much better. Willpower may be of modestly more effect, but brain and other changes have a fair amount of parallel between addiction and food/diet. Not being told you’re “powerless” may help somewhat, but per issues of willpower, it’s still a challenge.

Fortunately, with addiction, it’s just avoiding certain chemicals, not trying to moderate every chemical in front of your face.

And thus, another parallel is that this may weigh in on the side of, if a person has enough problems to be classified as an "abuser," why, again, abstinence is easier than moderation.

May 04, 2015

Texas Progressives tackle Voter ID, Blue Bell, Bernie Sanders, wingnuts, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a Happy Star Wars Day as it wonders who will be the next crazy to enter the GOP presidential race and brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff rounded up coverage of the voter ID appellate hearing at the Fifth circuit last week.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos weighs in on the overall disgust for the TX Governor's cowardice. The C.T Freaks Win: TX GOV Panders to Paranoia.

Socratic Gadfly wonders if, given this was not the first outbreak, having other information about the Food and Drug Administration from whistleblower Ken Kendrick and more, if we can really trust the FDA that much when it claims Blue Bell and other ice creams are safe.

Nonsequiteuse calls on Rep. Todd Smith and any other reasonable Republicans left in Texas to come collect their party.

Bernie Sanders declared for the Democratic nomination for president, and not even the events of Baltimore could keep him from extending his news cycle through the weekend.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reports on the money part of the equation in the opening days of his campaign, and wonders if the stark differences between he and Hillary Clinton might actually produce a meaningful primary contest.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why so many Texas Republicans act to enable rapists.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Hooray, Obamacare is working, The Good News About Healthcare In Texas For Everyone But Republicans.

Neil at All People Have Value said as shameful as Governor Abbott is to pander to the Jade Helm paranoia, there are in fact serious reasons people believe crazy things. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


====================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

HISD Trustee Anna Eastman explains her standardized testing philosophy.

Susan Criss asks if anyone can call us a "Christian nation" if it is a crime to help people or pets.

The Texas Election Law Blog previews the arguments in the voter ID appeal.

Quoting the 2015 Teacher of the Year, the TSTA Blog says we do not separate people into groups that are more deserving than others.

Unfair Park and Paradise in Hell both wonder why Greg Abbott is giving comfort to the tinfoil hat crowd. Harold Cook may have the best explanation for it, and RG Ratcliffe joins the fun.

Texas Watch excoriates the Senate for choosing insurance company profits over families and businesses.

Mean Green Cougar Red gives his thoughts on the proposed I-45 rebuild in Houston.

Mari Aguirre-Rodriguez demonstrates some of the tools and technologies that a modern campaign can use.

Texas Vox documents the vote on the latest assault on the environment and local control.

Fascist Dyke Motors recaps her story so far.

See friend Perry for yet more.

May 03, 2015

Ben Carson to make #GOP equal-opportunity nutbars in 2016

Dr. Ben Carson/Wikipedia
Oh, goodo ...

Dr. Ben Carson, once justifiably famous for his surgery to separate conjoined (Siamese) twins, but over the last couple of years mainly famous for his brohate (another word for bromance, anybody?) of President Barack Obama, has decided to make sure Rand Paul and Ted Cruz don't feel alone in the Upper Wingnuttia province of the GOP 2016 presidential primaries by throwing his own hat in the ring.

He does have a compelling story of personal achievement.

That said, per his Wiki page, some of his old statements could haunt him.

Opposing for-profit insurers? Well, gee, the option to that is either people paying cash on the barrelhead or ...

Single payer national health care! (Hey, "Dr. Ben"? Health savings accounts really don't work that well.)

Dying with dignity? Gee, Sarah Palin would probably say that's a slippery slope to death panels.

Outside of that, though, he's a solid wingnut. He's compared gay marriage to the sickos at NAMBLA, and is totally in favor of a flat tax. (Again, if a flat tax is so great for individuals, why has no GOP politico ever proposed a corporate flat tax.)

Anyway, Ben's moment in the limelight is fleeting.

Carly Fiorina, after running HP into the ground, wants to show that, like George W. Bush, MBA presidents are usually clueless. She's announcing Monday.

And, Mike Huckabeester is going to through his hat cornpone into the ring on Tuesday.

I would say that Jeb Bush is loving this, the idea of a bunch of others dividing up the wingnut vote, but, speaking of bromances, if he keeps praising Charles Murray, he's going to lose that all-important black GOP slice of the primary electorate.

Daffynitions — with a hat tip to Ambrose Bierce

A while back, I did a blog post called "Observations about life." I still occasionally update it, primarily with real-world observations, no fluff or New Ageyness, about the real world.

Well, being the editor, writer and language maven that I am, I'm now starting a blog post with a slightly skewed set of fake word definitions.

These won't be "cutesy" ones, at least I hope not. Rather, think of a kinder version of Ambroise Bierce's magnum opus, The Devil's Dictionary.

To allow for updates, until my cup overflows, I'll alphabetize the words and phrases, starting with:

Fauxtrage: A fake outrage over some President  Barack Obama or general Democratic Party or general liberal political action or news event, as "reported" by Fox, er, Faux, News, or some other public relations organization.

Libertarian: An elitist who thinks his lucky ascent into a highly valuable position of employment or social standing is proof of the existence of meritocracy. Illustration: Being born with a silver spoon in one's mouth, then thinking that people without silver spoons must have lost or thrown away theirs.

Life: A struggle between two dung beetles for the same small piece of half-dried horse shit.

Pine Time: A would-be-in-his-own-mind sports god, "gifted" with even more ego than the actual Prime Time, Neon  Deion  Sanders, but about half the talent and hence, at some point, when his ego not only can't cover lack of skills but actually becomes an irritant to his manager or coach when said skills slippage becomes apparent to everybody but him.

Racism: The cold-sweat fear that someone with a different skin color than yours might just be your equal socially, and even your better intellectually or psychologically. In a modern world demanding evidence, this is usually followed by invoking one more more discredited ideas from a constellation of such called racialism, in an attempt to convince yourself that your own skin tone is, in all ways, superior.


Revenge: Traditionally called “a dish best served cold.” But, with modern culinary tastes and modern technology, we can do much better. Revenge is “a dish best served cold, in terms of a wait time, but stuffed with habañeros and microwaved right before being served.”


Social Justice Warrior, n. - a person who is not particularly social, does not understand justice, and has never set foot on a battlefield.

-Splaining: A suffix attached to certain nouns wherewith the user, at least in his or her own mind, attempts to simultaneously prove the social elitism of the target and disprove the social elitism of the user.