Thursday Reads: Elections are Coming!

Katsushika Hokusai, Peasants in Autumn, 1835-1836, Guimet Museum, Paris, France.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

You have to give Joe Biden credit.  He’s trying to offset the global inflation caused mostly by the remanents of the pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and now the revival of OPEC supply fixing mainly by the Saudis.  Given their actions, you’d almost think the Saudis and the Russians would prefer another US President. Oil companies aren’t helping either. There is usually a fairly constant profit margin between the price of a barrel of oil and the bottom line of U.S. Oil Companies.  Profits appear to be untethered to the basic costs of raw materials. These things are beyond the control of most governments, and if you check current inflation rates in our trading partners, our inflation rate is average.

Joe is trying to stave off a movement towards voting Republican before the midterms, and with good reason.  First, the Republicans are pushing their usual false narrative on oil prices and production. Yesterday, Biden introduced several initiatives along with some facts on oil production. I doubt the Faux news crowd will listen, but it’s squarely aimed at moderate Republicans and independents.

Earlier this year, because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the price of oil and gas increased dramatically, and I acted decisively at the time.  And thanks in part to those actions, the price of our gas has fallen 30 percent from the summer highs.

Now it’s down about $1.15 a gallon from their peak during the summer, and gas prices have fallen every day in the last week.  Let me repeat: Gas prices have come down, and they continue to come down again.  They’re now down more than 27 cents a gallon in Wisconsin this past week, 27 cents in Oregon, 16 cents in Ohio, 25 cents in Nevada, 17 cents in — in Indiana in just the last 10 days.  And that’s progress.

But they’re not falling fast enough.  Families are hurting.  You’ve heard me say before, but I get it.  I come from a family — if the price of gasoline went up at the gas station, we felt it.  Gas prices hit almost every family in this country, and they squeeze their family budgets.

And when the price of gas goes up, other expenses get cut. That’s why I have been doing everything in my power to reduce gas prices since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine caused these price hikes — these prices to spike and rattled international oil markets.  (Clears throat.)  Excuse me.

I focused on how we can protect American families from that spike and give folks just a little bit of breathing room, as my dad would say.

Today I’m announcing three critical steps that my administration will take to reduce gas prices at the pump.  First, the Department of Energy will release another 15 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, extending our previously announced release through the month of December.

Independent analysis they — excuse me, independent analysts have confirmed that drawdowns from the reserves so far have played a big role in bringing down oil prices — bringing them down.  So, we’re going to continue to responsibly use that national asset.

Right now, the Strategic Pol- — the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is more than half full, with about 400 million barrels of oil.  That’s more than enough for any emergency drawdown.

Claude Monet, Autumn on the Seine at Argenteuil, 1873, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, USA.

The impact may not be immediately felt, and the Saudis could act to offset it by withdrawing more oil from the market. But it certainly is worth a try. Forbes Magazine has some analysis and stylized facts you may want to review. “Oil Inventories Worldwide And Oil Price Trends – Where Do We Stand In Q4 2022?” The analysis explains how the combined forces of the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine joined to create this global situation.  It also shows how we should come out of this if OPEC doesn’t collude to lower production and increase prices like it did during the Carter years.

The EIA forecasts an oil price of $93/b in Q4 2022 and $95/b in 2023. The EIA’s forecast projects a supply-demand parity midway through 2023, which it predicts will last for the rest of the year.

At the beginning of the pandemic, consumption was approximately five million barrels lower than the supply. The EIA’s report projects consumption only slightly below production for 2022, at 99.55 million barrels and 100.03 barrels, respectively.

However, it shows a slight reversal of this balance in 2023. The agency forecasts consumption of 101.50 million barrels and production of 101.28 million barrels for 2023.

This means the Biden initiative could speed up parity.  How will oil companies respond?

Secondly, we need to responsibly increase American oil production without delaying or deferring our transition to clean energy.  Let me — let’s debunk some myths here.  My administration has not stopped or slowed U.S. oil production; quite the opposite.  We’re producing 12 million barrels of oil per day.  And by the end of this year, we will be producing 1 million barrels a day, more than the day in which I took office.  In fact, we’re on track for record oil production in 2023.

And today, the United States is the largest producer of oil and petroleum products in the world.  We export more than we import.  And I still heard from oil comp- — and I’ve heard from oil companies that they’re worried that investing in additional oil production today will — will — in case of the — in case demand goes down in the future, and they’re not going to be able to sell their oil products at a competitive price later.

Well, we have a solution for that.  Today, I’m announcing a plan to refill the Strato- — the Strategic Petroleum Res- — Oil Reserve in the years ahead at a profit for taxpayers.  The United States government is going to purchase oil to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when prices fall to $70 a barrel.  And that means oil companies can invest to ramp up production now, with confidence they’ll be able to sell their oil to us at that price in the future: $70.

Refining and refilling the reserve at $70 a barrel is a good price for companies and it’s a good price for the taxpayers, and it’s critical to our national security.

To put it in context, since March, the average price of oil has been more than $90 a barrel, the highest since 2014.  By selling from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at the higher price of $90 earlier this year and then refilling it in the future at a lower price, around $70, it will actually make money for the taxpayers, lower the price of gas, and help bolster production, all while totally consistent with my commitment to accelerate to transition to clean energy.

So my message to oil companies is: You’re sittng on record profits, and you’re — and we’re giving you more certainty.  So you can act now to increase oil production now.

Pierre Bonnard, Autumn View, 1912

Biden also focused on Abortion rights in a speech on Tuesday. This is from CNN. “Biden promises abortion rights law as Democrats try to rally voters.”  More stories of women with pregnancies going wrong in states where abortion is illegal are reaching the press. These stories show how the Republican goal of restricting abortion in all states puts women’s lives in danger.


President Joe Biden on Tuesday made a major promise on a push to put abortion rights into law as his party looks to seize on the politically divisive issue in the final push ahead of the midterm elections.

At an abortion-rights-focused speech at a Democratic National Committee event on Tuesday, Biden said that if Democrats elect more senators and keep control of the House in the midterms then he’d make abortion a top issue.

“The court got Roe right nearly 50 years ago and I believe the Congress should codify Roe, once and for all,” Biden said.

He then implored voters to elect more Democrats in order to make sure that bill could pass.

“If we do that, here’s the promise I make to you and the American people: The first bill I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade. And when Congress passes it, I’ll sign it in January, 50 years after Roe was first decided the law of the land,” Biden added.

Dating back to the 2020 campaign, Biden has called for codifying Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a federal constitutional right to abortion. The Supreme Court overturned it earlier this year, transforming access to reproductive health care in the country. It is unclear how politically effective such a promise of prioritizing such a bill will be, given that Democrats have an intensely tough battle in November to keep both the Senate and House.

Trump’s legal problems, and the Republican silence, should continue to drive folks toward the Democratic candidates.  However, the focus may still be more on the economy than anything else. Democracy is on the ballot.  We need to shout that everywhere.   Here’s the most damning court opinion handed to Trump to date.

This is from today’s New York Times. “Judge Says Trump Signed Statement With Data His Lawyers Told Him Was False. The determination came in a decision by a federal judge that John Eastman, a lawyer for the former president, had to turn more of his emails over to the House Jan. 6 committee.”

Former President Donald J. Trump signed a document swearing under oath that information in a Georgia lawsuit he filed challenging the results of the 2020 election was true even though his own lawyers had told him it was false, a federal judge wrote on Wednesday.

The accusation came in a ruling by the judge, David O. Carter, ordering John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who strategized with the former president about overturning the election, to hand over 33 more emails to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Judge Carter, who serves with the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, determined that the emails contained possible evidence of criminal behavior.

“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” Judge Carter wrote. He added in a footnote that the suit contained language saying Mr. Trump was relying on information provided to him by others.

The committee has fought for months to get access to hundreds of Mr. Eastman’s emails, viewing him as the intellectual architect of plans to subvert the 2020 election, including Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay congressional certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, 2021. Repeatedly, the panel has argued that a “crime-fraud exception” pierces the typical attorney-client privilege that often protects communications between lawyers and clients.

The emails in question, which were dated between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021, came from Mr. Eastman’s account at Chapman University, where he once served as a law school dean.

Judge Carter wrote on Wednesday that the crime-fraud exception applied to a number of the emails related to Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman’s “efforts to delay or disrupt the Jan. 6 vote” and “their knowing misrepresentation of voter fraud numbers in Georgia when seeking to overturn the election results in federal court.”

Judge Carter found four emails that “demonstrate an effort by President Trump and his attorneys to press false claims in federal court for the purpose of delaying the Jan. 6 vote.”

In one of them, Mr. Trump’s lawyers advised him that simply having a challenge to the election pending in front of the Supreme Court could be enough to delay the final tally of Electoral College votes from Georgia.

“This email,” Judge Carter wrote, “read in context with other documents in this review, make clear that President Trump filed certain lawsuits not to obtain legal relief, but to disrupt or delay the Jan. 6 congressional proceedings through the courts.”

I can’t see how this doesn’t lead to some type of DOJ action.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found more congressional intrigue related to January 6th.  “Texts from Loeffler’s phone shed light on activities ahead of Jan. 6 and 2021 runoff.”

Tricia Raffensperger’s text message,six days after the 2020 elections, was as blistering as it was direct.

Hours after Kelly Loeffler, then Georgia’s junior U.S. senator, called for her husband, Brad, to resign from his post as secretary of state in a bid to appease then-President Donald Trump, the typically measured grandmother made clear exactly how she felt about Loeffler.

“Never did I think you were the kind of person to unleash such hate and fury on someone in political office of the same party,” Tricia Raffensperger wrote, noting that her family is under siege “because you didn’t have the decency or good manners to come and talk to my husband with any questions you may have had.”

“I hold you personally responsible,” she added, “for anything that happens to any of my family, from my husband, children and grandchildren.”

Vincent van Gogh, Appel Orchard with Lime Tree Behind the Mensingh Inn in Zweeloo (Coevorden), 1881, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

You may read the texts at the link.

As Trump’s plan to overturn the election on Jan. 6 unfolded, Loeffler came under increasing pressure from her Georgia colleagues, Republican activists and some of her own aides to join in.

One of the most ardent voices who sought to enlist Loeffler was then-Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene.

A month before the conservative firebrand was sworn into the U.S. House, Greene asked Loeffler to talk “about a plan we are developing on how to vote on the electoral college votes on Jan 6th.”

“I need a Senator!” Greene wrote on Dec. 2, 2020, “And I think this is a major help for you to win on the 5th!!”

I have office hours at the top of the hour, so I’m off to do that!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

21 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Elections are Coming!”

  1. dakinikat says:

    I’m not sure you’ve watched much of the UK parliament doing business, but it’s quite raucous. Yesterday, the backbenchers and the opposition hooted her down.

    • darthvelma says:

      Liz Truss is a terrible person. But they still set her up to fail and then pushed her off the glass cliff.

      • dakinikat says:

        Completely. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on parliament floors.

      • quixote says:

        Truss has been a truly unbelievable anything-for-a-vote flip-flopper going back for years. I think the Tory kingmakers assumed that made her a safe-ish bet since she’d do whatever she was told. I gather they were as shocked as anyone to see her go back to her libertarian (“Liberal” in the UK) roots and trash the economy in days.

        So, yes, you can assume any female is getting extra lagniappes of horrible treatment, because misogyny, but Truss has given cause for so much anger all on her own that for once it’s not the biggest factor.

  2. dakinikat says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s funny. Ro Khanna, the “progressive” Bernie bro is in the top 5, while everyone has been attacking Nancy Pelosi.

      • NW Luna says:

        A hypocrite Bernie bro? Say it ain’t so!

        • Beata says:

          What I think is funny is that the three Democrats in the top five are all from Blue States: New Jersey, California and Washington. (The latter two states being the so-called ‘Best Coast’.) Let’s have a superior dance for CA and WA! They are so special! How’s their homeless problem working out? Are poor women who do the work wealthy women ‘need done’ like cleaning and childcare still living in their cars with *their* children? Woot!

          • NW Luna says:

            You’re right, Beata. Though prior to elective positions delBene from WA worked at Microsoft for 12 years in an executive position and prior to that in tech-immunology and an executive position at, and from both of those places she no doubt got most of her $$$. Not typical of most of the state’s politicians.

            Frankly many of us here in Washington state wish that Microsoft and Amazon and the like stayed small or were headquartered somewhere else. Useless, I know. Even non-executive positions at those companies pay so much in comparison to other companies here (except for the Amazon warehouse workers) that the cost of living, especially housing, has gone up so much it changes the demographics.

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    Can we just drop the gender stereotypes, please? Strength and the ability to stand up to power is not a gender trait.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. NW Luna says:

    Gas prices falling? Hah. Bullshit. Nope.

    The average price of gasoline in Seattle has fallen 14.4 cents per gallon in the last week. The average as of Monday is now $5.38 per gallon, according to GasBuddy’s survey of 775 stations in Seattle.

    Prices in Seattle are still 57 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and stand $1.40 per gallon higher than a year ago.

  7. dakinikat says: