Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Several Things That Would Seem To Be Obvious

  • A note on the election: Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination because she made some strategic decisions that just plain turned out to be wrong. In politics as in sports as in life, the team that made the fewer mistakes won. She was defeated by neither sexism nor her Senate record nor husband Bill. She couldn't make up for a bad first half, ran out of time, and lost a close one at the buzzer. In the end, too many kids and eggheads saw inspiration in the other guy, and they barely edged out her base of women, guys with lunchpails, and folks who would never, ever vote for a black guy.

    She almost won, but whiffing on a few basic tactics that I don't need to list out probably made the difference. And if you can't run a campaign, you're probably going to have a hard time running a country, so while I empathize with Senator Clinton and her supporters, I have to disagree with those who think the wrong person ended up winning.

  • The retail price of a gallon of gasoline is the result of a complex set of variables that no single political or economic tactic will affect more than temporarily. But any discussion of oil pricing that does not start with the devaluation of the US Dollar is flawed from the outset.

    Oil market price benchmarks are all in US Dollars, which means that if a dollar is worth less--20% this last 12 months alone--it's going to cost more of them to buy the same amount of anything. Basically, you start out having to pay $1.20 for your dollar draft beer--with all other market conditions remaining equal.

    Then during a currency devaulation, big investors buy commodities (oil, gold, or frozen concentrated orange juice...Winthorp), whose prices go up, and then you have irrational exuberance over a new market bubble. Of course there's a monstrous jump in wholesale prices. And again, this is even before you even start talking about fundamentals of supply and demand.

    Now, once the many hands downstream of this start sticking themselves into the river of fake money to pad resale prices, we end up where we are now. You can reduce oil company taxes, drill in ANWR, build refineries, give everyone an electric car, or have the Saudis turn the hose on full-blast. You'd just be diddling around with a market that just needs people to get real and start changing the way they think about their relationship with fossil fuel.

  • The Internet and the 24-hour news cycle are driving a new style of debate, and it's not one I'm digging particularly. Look: I'm quite aware that there was never some mythical, mist-enshrouded Golden Age where the Internet was devoid of douchebaggery. I'm quite aware that uninformed, factually incorrect, or prejudiced opinions have always existed. But at this point, the vast majority of comment-enabled websites are nothing more than digital repositories of half of any population yelling at the other half. It's all smug self-satisfaction versus shrill self-righteousness, mixed with obvious difficulty distinguishing fact and opinion, with a dash of overconfidence in one's ability to predict the future. Top it off with straw men, slippery slopes, and a healthy glop of outrage, then wrap it in a forum where you aren't held accountable for anything you say. No, I hope you understand if I just push that plate away and ask for a green salad instead.

  • To wrap up with a should-be-obvious culinary topic: guys and gals, a "slider" is not just a small cheeseburger. Nowadays every corner beanery puts a meatball on a finger roll with pepper jack and "chi-pol-tay" (urgh!) mayo and calls it a slider. Don't get me wrong: I love mini-cheeseburgers, but if I have to drive these people to the nearest White Castle (or Krystal, if you're south-facing) and slide a couple fifty-nine-cent steamers down their necks myself, then stop at Staples to get some white-out for their menus, dammit, I will.


    At Thu Jun 26, 03:01:00 AM EDT, Blogger Southview said...

    WOW Ross....You sound like one of those angry white men? But I agree with your synopsis of the situation. Why do politicians like to say "comprehensive" when they really mean "complicated"?

    At Mon Jun 30, 04:44:00 PM EDT, Blogger Gary said...

    Just got back from a Tom Waits show in Columbus where a trip to White Castle was one of many highlights. An 8-pack and an order of Chicken Rings (my word, how yummy) later and we were good to go. The most welcome gastric distress I've ever experienced. Those goddamn sliders are the bomb, literally and figuratively.

    As for the other, more weighty matters you discuss, I choose not to comment because thinking on that level - specifically the geoeconomic morasse bound up with crude oil - makes my tummy ache. Or it could be those White Castles. Have I mentioned how god-fershminkin' tasty they were?


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